Monday, 31 October 2011


Keesadilla has a favourite park in town: Kinsmen Park.  It is his favourite park because
  • there are two "parks" within one large space
  • there are usually not very many kids there, so he gets the park all to himself.
It is not my favourite park because
  • it is not within walking distance of our house
  • it is in the middle of some cosmic wind tunnel
  • there never seem to be any other kids there, so no other parents to visit with.
  • there are too many fallen leaves for iBean to put in her mouth, then choke on, then barf up later
But once in a while, I indulge Keesadilla's persistent requests to go to Kinsmen park.  Today was one of them.
Today was my lucky day, as there was reading material for me when I arrived:

  Are kids really still graffitiing about Michael Jackson?

Hmm...bitch'zs. Is that like a boring bitch that makes you snore?

Your mom's vagina brought you into this world. RESPECT THE VAGINA!

I have no words.  This offends me as a grammar nazi.

Do they mean Pension of dicks?  Or Prism?  Or Prison?  I need some context here, people.
Graffiti irritates me.  So what if "Mort was here!!" And I know how to have a good time by myself, I don't need to "Call Jessica for a good time!" But grammatically errant graffiti pisses the hell out of me.  I took these five photos with my phone, but I could have taken a whole roll of film (am I dating myself by saying that?!). There were apostrophes where there shouldn't be, the classic your/you're debaucles and some strange punctuation usages making me think the vandal may have been Spanish. Don't forget the anatomically lacking penis and testicles, lacking so much that the artist had to write "penis" next to it, lest the observer think it is a rocket or a nose with hairy eyes.
Graffiti also pisses me off because although Keesadilla cannot read, Sashimi is starting to, and I don't want to have to explain to him why the word vagina is plastered all over the park. 

Sunday, 30 October 2011


I am not very artistic.  There.  I've said it.  I can draw stick-men like nobody's biz-NESS, but when it comes to actual, you know, art, I am not so good.

My husband, he draws good and stuff.  He actually took art in school, and by school I mean high school.  He still has a folder of all his sketches and dot-a-ma-thingies pointillisms and that sort of thing.  He does not do much of it anymore. He doodles for the kids and can draw a mean dinosaur by Sashimi's standards.
And when it comes to carving pumpkins, he rocks.

For Keesadilla, he carved his Backyardigan pal Pablo:
Hi, I'm Pablo!

Sashimi did his own pumpkin this year, start to finish, by himself.  He even added a little scar under the eye much later because he thought it would be spookier:
Definitely getting the art genes from his father!

And then Tony did a pumpkin for himself:

Dr. Sheldon Cooper - one of the most brilliant minds of the 21st century

Did I mention that he did this without using a stencil?  Who's one of the most brilliant minds of the 21st centur NOW?!

Coolest AND nerdiest pumpkin you will ever see. 


Monday, 24 October 2011

My Killer Macaroni & Cheese

Apparently, one cannot describe one's macaroni and cheese as "killer" without one's peeps asking for the recipe.

As my family knows, I am not much for recipes.  It used to drive me crazy when I would get a recipe from my Baba only to discover a few years later that she doesn't actually use that recipe anymore because she had "improved" it.  Now I understand. Recipes for me are "guidelines" that are meant to be toyed with and continually improved upon.  Cooking is an ART. Many times my mother-in-law has asked me what I put in my chicken gravy and each time the answer is different, but the end result is always a fantastic gravy that my kids (and husband) could drink from a cup.  Sashimi actually asked me for a mug when I made some last weekend, but that is another story.

So here is the Basic Macaroni & Cheese recipe, followed by the alterations I have done to it.

2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups milk - don't be fat conscious, use 2% or whole milk ;)
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Cook the pasta in boiling water until almost al dente.  You want it to be a little firmer than normal because you are going to be cooking it further in the oven.
Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the chopped onion.  Fry the onions on med-low heat to really soften them up and carmelize them a bit, it takes about 10 minutes.  Add flour to the onions and butter - this is your roux.  Add the milk and whisk over medium heat until it boils and thickens.  Remove from heat. Add 2 cups of the cheese, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
Pour over the macaroni and mix well. Pour into a greased oven-proof baking dish (a 9X13 works) and top with remaining shredded cheese.  Bake at 350˚F for 20 minutes.

What I have done to make it KILLER:
  • Add paprika, ground mustard powder, parsley and granulated garlic to the white sauce (before adding cheese).  I really don't measure.
  • I may use more cheese than the recipe asks for.  Again, I go by looking.  Considering how much I like cheese, I'd say that's a safe bet.
  • If your kids are fussy over onions, you can put them in the blender or magic bullet to make them into a purée before frying them.  It will affect the frying time, but then you keep the onion flavour without having your kids turn their noses up at the sight of something NOT macaroni-like on their plate.
  • If you really don't want to use actual onion in the sauce, you can add onion powder when you play around with the spices that I mentioned above.
  • Whole wheat pasta is healthier, but I have found that for this dish, my kids will gobble up white pasta over whole wheat.  They eat WW spaghetti all the time, but I think the WW is too different from classic Kraft Dinner, and they are not so willing to eat it.
  • If you want to sneak some veggies into your kids' bellies, add half of a roasted butternut squash to the cheese sauce just before you season with salt and pepper.  Use a hand-blender to blend the sauce.  The squash goes really well with the sauce and is completely undetectable by kids. Trust me, I've done it and my kids are none the wiser.  
  • Want a different taste? Fry the onion with diced BACON and reserve 4 tbsp of bacon drippings to mix with your flour instead of butter.  You can top it with chives before you pop it into the oven. Isn't everything better with bacon?
There you have it!  Play around with this and make it your own :)


My kids love Kraft Dinner.  They love it so much that they ask for it on a regular basis and will not eat homemade macaroni and cheese (even though mine is KILLER). 

Tony and I are very conscious about eating real food and as much homemade as possible, so making Kraft Dinner just eats me up inside, particularly since my homemade macaroni is KILLER.  So I went out on a limb this weekend and tried something new: I bought alphabet pasta: the teeny little noodles that go great in homemade soups. I put them in some chicken soup and the kids loved them, so I thought I would make some homemade macaroni and cheese using those tiny letters.  I made the cheese sauce with sharp cheddar, some spices and half of a roasted butternut squash, which gave the sauce an amazing colour and did not really affect the cheesy taste. 

The result was KILLER.  Sashimi was skeptical, but he tried it. Once he tasted it, he asked for more.  Then another bowl full.  He looked at me in all earnest and said: Mommy, this is great! It tastes like tastes like armpit macaroni!"

*Insert WTF?! face here.*

Then I realized what he meant: "Elbow macaroni?"

Sashimi: Oh yeah, that's what I meant.

It seems I make good armpit pasta.  Who knew.


Did I mention that my homemade macaroni and cheese is KILLER?

Monday, 3 October 2011

Oh PlanetBox, I heart you

We generally try to stay away from pre-packaged foods and opt for homemade and fresh foods instead.  Packing a lunch for Sashimi used to entail looking through the cupboard for containers and their matching lids, put all the food in appropriately sized containers, then trying all sorts of configurations to get the damn things to fit in his lunchkit, then realizing that one container just won't fit and resorting to unpacking his lunch, changing containers and trying the whole process over again.

Now, I have a PlanetBox.

Sashimi's lunch for tomorrow: A balanced lunch made in less than 5 minutes.
Each side compartment holds 3/4 cup, making it the perfect size for fruit or veg. 1/2 cup is equal to one serving, so if you fill those, that's three servings right there.  The large compartment is for your main, which today for Sashimi is Dempsters Ancient Grains wraps filled with jam and pea butter (his school is nut-free), 10-grain mini muffin, a pepperoni stick and a few BBQ Crispers.  The long compartment just above has a cheese string (the only kind of cheese he will eat) and another roll up. And in the tiny middle compartment, Skittles.  That compartment is just the right size for a few chocolate chips or smarties.  A small amount of sweets goes a long way for kids.

And then, when I close the lid, all the compartments stay separated: no mixing foods!

Closed for fridge-time: foods stay segregated

The box is made out of high grade stainless steel, and has specially shaped magnets that stick to the outside.  They have about a dozen different designs.  I bought 2 different sets (I think one was included with his box, and the other cost $2) so Sashimi can choose which ones to use.  His only complaint was that they did not have dinosaur magnets.

Then, when he is ready to take it to school, it goes in this insulated carrying case:

There is room for a water bottle and a larger item (like a large fruit) or ice-pack in the exterior pouches

There are also a couple of round containers that fit inside the Box, if you want to take dip for your veggies, or a larger one if you wanted to take a yogurt parfait or pasta salad.  Sacha likes neither of these, so the containers are not used much right now.

The whole ensemble set me back about $55.  That being said, I never have to look for containers, never have to buy ziploc bags or saran wrap, it is easy for Sashimi to open and close (unlike when he would have to ask for help with various lids and baggies). I don't have to worry about whether the plastic has BPA in it (no plastic = no worries) and I can get a clear visual every day that his lunch is well balanced and healthy.

And it comes home pretty much empty every night.

Bon appetit!