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In which I am over at (in)courage today

….That’s the fun of cooking over the years, perhaps: the family stories for each recipe. We figure out which recipes we love, which ones aren’t fun to make, which ones were a disaster from start to finish. As the years pass, we know which recipes make for good leftovers, which ones the tinies will actually eat, which ones work for quick family meals on a weeknight.

As we grow into our communities, we swap our recipes and the stories that accompany them. 

My own recipe box is filled with scribbled cards from my grandmothers and aunties, my mother and my mother-in-law, my friends and my neighbours. I think that’s part of why I loved Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist. She honoured the stories of our everyday meals – the community where they were born, the family where they showed up on week night tables, the times when the food nourished and satisfied, and invites us to remember our own stories.

You can read the rest of this post at (in)courage’s book club, Bloom. We’re talking about our kitchen stories – and I have a disaster to tell you about…

Continue Reading · family, food, Guest Post · 0

In which I do like a few things about summer

I’m not a summer girl. I know, I know: big surprise, Canadian. I’m just not a big fan of hot weather.

(We had a rainy day last week and I was all “Oh, thank God for a respite from ALL THE RELENTLESS SUNSHINE” and my husband – who adores summer and hates our Pacific gloom – looked at me like I was nuts.) (Full confession: I get very grouchy when I’m hot.)

But in the interest of not being a big whiner, I thought I’d share a few things I’m loving about the summertime. For instance, I love the pace of summer.  I cannot tell you how happy I am to have a break from the pick-up and drop-off routines, let alone the school lunch making. (SO! HAPPY!) I love having the tinies all home for the summer. Late bedtimes, lazy mornings watching cartoons in our jammies, hiking, opening the door and kicking the older two outside to play in the sprinkler for a few hours, even the constant mess of the house.

I do love the relaxed vibe of summer living. So here’s what else I love about summer:

1. Summer books. I put down the big thick theological tomes for the summer months and pick up some wonderful entirely-non-life-changing fiction. I’m talking about the kind of books you can’t put down for two days straight and utterly devour. One of my favourites so far this summer is What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. I’ve had some amazing and surprisingly deep conversations with friends about the premise of that book. Another summer favourite is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer. Just plain good books for a good evening of reading.

2. Summer clothes. I’m not exactly a fashionista (I can hear my sister howling with laughter from here….) and when it comes to summer clothes, I’m hopeless. I like for my upper arms to be covered and I don’t do well in shorts. (Throwback from the back-in-the-day archives: The Sneaky Crotch Pull Down post still makes me chuckle.) So as a compromise I like to wear skirts in the summer or dresses. I’ve recently found Fig Clothing. It looks like yoga clothes but apparently they’re supposed to be for “international travel” people whatever that is. I found a few items on the clearance rack at a local yoga-wear shop and I have pretty much worn only his Skirt and these capri pants ever since. Very light and comfy and yet not slouchy.

3. Summer festivals and farmers markets. Set up a booth in a street, and I’ll be there in my Birkenstocks (between my Birks and my yoga clothes, I’m pretty much a walking West Coast cliché these days….) Absolutely love wandering through festivals and farmers markets with fresh veggies and listening to live music. Face painting booths and mini-doughnuts are my one weakness.

4. Summer food. My husband shares a plot at the community garden with another family and we are full on in harvest season. (I’m not a gardener in the least. Not even a pretend gardener. I just do the food prep and cooking, he does the growing.) Our son, Joe, in particular loves the garden and always helps with the food prep. I also learned how to grill this past month – I know! Grown up points! – and now I’m pretty much grilling everything – peaches, meat, red peppers, asparagus, you name it. I’m in love with this. Why did no one ever tell me how wonderful it is to grill in the summertime? I’ve also got my eye on this quick and easy recipe for strawberries from my friend, JJ at The Blah Blah Blahger. We are overrun with berries in our area of the country so we’ll be picking our way through the rest of July and August – blackberries line every roadside but we’ll also visit the local blueberry and strawberry farms. Oh, is there anything more pleasant than a summer evening on the patio with a crisp glass of white wine and one of those good books? There is not. (Locals, my favourite summer wine: Domaine de Chaberton’s VQA Cuvee Blanc.)

5. Summer swimming. My parents have a backyard pool and we generally make a nuisance of ourselves all summer long by showing up for near daily swims. There are few things I love as much as the sight of my babies all in the water. They are turning as brown as beans and are transforming into little fish. Evelynn cracks us up because she loves to swim even though she’s so little and is quite adept at swimming underwater with her full face under. Also filed under Winning: how well the tinies sleep after a day in the sun and water.

What about you? What are you loving this summer? Any good food recipes? Or books to share? Or ideas for stuff to do? 

 

 

Continue Reading · family, food, Fraser Valley · 17

In which we invite you to a dinner party for Bread & Wine

Well, hi there! I’m in charge of the main dish for our little progressive virtual dinner party. We’re celebrating Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes the wonderful new book from Shauna Niequist.

Bread and Wine SarahBessey

I love Shauna’s writing. Love. And this book might be my favourite yet. I didn’t think she could top Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way but here we are. Each essay in Bread & Wine is sympathetic, wise, and witty. Like most good conversations around the table, it makes sense to talk about everything from shame to work, community to faith, birth and grieving, and all points between.

Her words about the female shame connected to hunger were nothing short of revelatory. Giving others the freedom and permission to say, as a woman, I’m hungry! is a a gift, particularly to those of us still untangling a few lies in that area.

Food-wise, I have a weakness: Cheese. (I’m as bad as Wallace from Wallace & Gromit.)  As I read through all of the recipes at the end of each chapter of Shauna’s beautifully written book, I dog-eared the recipes with cheese.

And so, of course, for our little party here, I volunteered to make Annette’s Enchiladas. The ingredients reminded me of enchiladas verde from my days in south Texas but of the comfort-food eating variety. And I love comfort food almost as much as I love (and miss) Tex-Mex. (All I need now is for someone to teach this long-deprived Canadian woman how to make margaritas like Paloma Blanca in San Antonio.)

However, I hit my first snag early in the process: green enchilada sauce. As in, I could not find green enchilada sauce for love or money. I dragged all three tinies to nearly every grocery store in this city and I could only find a dusty can of mild red sauce on a bottom shelf at a dodgy Safeway. I gave up in despair. But Brian would not be deterred (of course not: enchiladas were on the line) and he drove to the United States to buy green enchilada sauce. He even got the right brand.

enchilada sauce

Clearly, Brian was also excited about Annette’s Enchiladas.

Annette’s Enchiladas is more of a lasagna-style layered dish. So maybe not authentic but hey, cheese! I’m easily consoled. Shauna mentions in this chapter that she had these enchiladas after the births of her boys, and she distincly remembers standing over the stove, destroying an entire pan.

The woman is not lying.

This enchilada dish looks like a hot mess but, trust me, it is a delicious hot mess. I took a few pictures but I won’t include them because this is a dish to be admired while you are chowing, it does not sit pretty on a plate. This is a straight out of the pan satisfier. (The difference maker is the fresh cilantro scattered on the top.)

And here is the real sign of a delicious meal: I ate all of the left-overs. (I never eat left-overs. It’s one of Brian’s biggest pet peeves.)

And a quick thank you to my two kitchen sous-chefs, Joseph and Evelynn. My eldest was off at school for this little cooking session, so it was just Joe and Evelynn to witness me gobbling.

Joseph and Evelynn

 

Annette’s Enchiladas

(recipe shared with permission)

1 cup sour cream

1 – 28 oz can of green enchilada sauce (Las Palmas is best)

2 – 4 oz cans of diced green chiles

3 cups cooked chicken, shredded or diced

2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

12 corn tortillas

1 cup chicken broth

cilantro

Instructions

  1. Mix green sauce with chilies and sour cream.
  2. Smooth 1 spoonful fo the sauce mixture around the bottom of a 9 by 13 pan.
  3. simmer the chicken broth in a skillet, and before placing each tortilla in the 9 by 13 pan, use tongs to pass the tortillas through the broth for just a few seconds. If you leave the tortillas in the broth for too long, they’ll fall apart so just dip each one in for a few seconds to soften it before putting it in the enchilada pan.
  4. Layer 4 tortillas over the first layer of sauce.
  5. After tortillas, add half the chicken, then one-third of the sauce, then one-third of the cheese.
  6. Repeat so there are 2 full layers.
  7. Finish with a layer of 4 more tortillas, the remaining third of the sauce, and the remaining third of the cheese.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees until warmed through and the cheese is melted, about 30-35 minutes.
  9. Let sit at least 15 minutes before cutting. Top with chopped cilantro.

Be sure to taste each course of our virtually progressive dinner party.

Bread&Wine

Blog-hop to a new table for every course, meet new friends and pick up a delicious recipe from Shauna Niequist’s new book, Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes, at every stop. we’d like to send you home with the gift of Shauna’s words, so be sure to enter the giveaway at the end of the party!

 

Continue Reading · book review, books, food, home, housekeeping, women · 32

In which I bake shortbread

May you make time for family traditions.

May your grandchildren write down your family recipes onto index cards someday.

May those index cards turn translucent from buttery fingers.

May you bake with tinies standing on kitchen chairs, longing watching for their turn to lick the bowls.

May you listen to Christmas music while you wash dishes, and tinies sit criss-cross applesauce on your kitchen floor, looking into the oven with the light on, waiting oh-so-patiently.

May you sit at the tables of your crazy tribe, in the far-flung corners of the world or in the same post-code where you were raised, and may you taste home and memory and Christmases past and the love of good women through the years.

May your legacy of good food live on.

And may you enjoy this simple, quick family recipe from my Granny MacLeod. Not too complicated, not too sweet, just that dense buttery goodness that needs to be sucked slow instead of gobbled down.

Related: In which I celebrate my imperfect Christmas

Simple Shortbread Cookies

1 cup softened (but not melted) butter

1/2 cup icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup corn starch

1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

(I use maraschino cherries, sliced in half, to top my shortbread. But you can do sprinkles or chocolate drizzle or plain, whatever.)

  1. Quick word of warning: Don’t try to double this recipe. It won’t turn out. Ask me how I know. #5YearsOfTrying
  2. Add each ingredient one at a time, blending with a fork.
  3. Then whip for 10 minutes (yes, 10, trust me) with an electric mixer.
  4. Drop tablespoon size of dough onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. They will need to be pressed down a bit as they don’t “spread” like other cookies. Make them uniform in flatness and size, if possible.
  5. Top them how you like.
  6. Bake at 300 degrees for 20-25 minutes. They just need to be a bit golden brown on the bottom to be done, so be careful not to overcook. 

Linking up with Leanne Penny’s Christmas Cookie Recipe Exchange and the LoveFeast Table cookie recipe exchange.

Continue Reading · christmas, family, food · 20

In which I share what I’m into {September edition}

Me, Amber, and Arianne in the water at sunset

Books I’ve Read

  • Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist. I was introduced to Shauna’s work through a mutual friend, Laura. And now I love her, too, and want her to be my friend. Every essay is worth reading, but in each book, there were three or four that were downright brilliant. I underlined, and I will reread them.
  • Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand (UK version) by Helen Simonson. Absolutely lovely, I fell a bit in love with the hero, Major Pettigrew, myself. Funny, insightful, cutting. Might be my favourite fiction read of the year.
  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed. It was a fantastic book, and I probably would have loved it more if it hadn’t been so impossibly built up to me.
  • Lit by Mary Karr. You guys. I quit writing. This book is so well-done, so perfect, I quit.

Books still in progress

  • A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling her Husband Master by Rachel Held Evans
  • Women, Food, and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything by Geneen Roth
  • Knit One, Pearl One by Gil McNeil
  • Little Bee by Chris Cleve
  • Blue Nights by Joan Didion
  • Lark Rise to Candleford trilogy by Flora Thompson
  • For the Beauty of the Church: Casting a Vision for the Arts edited by W. David O. Taylor
  • A Woman Called: Piecing Together the Ministry Puzzle by Sara Gaston Barton
You can find me over at GoodReads, I’m tracking my 2012 reading over there.

T.V. Show Worth Watching

Nothing. I am watching NOTHING on the telly right now. But I did figure out how to watch Downton Abbey series 3 online, thanks to Kristen at Rage Against the Minivan. So, you know: ethical dilemma and all that, but FREE BATES.

Movie I’ve Seen (in or out of the theatre)

Nothing. I haven’t seen a movie in a dog’s age.

In My Ears

Mumford and Sons’ new album releases this week. CANNOT WAIT. Their interview with Jian Ghomeshi on Q was superb (including a live version of I Will Wait).

In My Kitchen

I’m losing my kitchen mojo. I blame school lunches. I plan on having a fit of baking with pumpkin shortly.

New (to me) Blogs that have caught my eye

Favorite Pin

I’ve been adding all summer long to my Wise Women board. So much goodness there right now.

Source: vittana.org via Sarah on Pinterest

That is a photograph of Leymah Gbowee, a Liberian peace activist and joint recipient of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. She said, “Women’s empowerment begins with girls’ empowerment. Breaking the cycle of gender discrimination requires that we promote and protect the rights of girls. At the same time we also need to equip them with the skills and opportunities they need to transform their lives and those of their communities.”

5 Random Things Making Me Happy

1. My little plush velvet pumpkin (that is a real pumpkin stem, you guys. Real!) and spiral journal from the LoveFeast shop.

2. A new vintage items shop that opened up here in Abbotsford called Spruce Collective. Happy place, happy place. Also, another favourite home shop of mine, Creekside Country Home Decor (don’t be put off by the “country” in the name – lots of vintage-y goodness in there) just added new booths of vintage items from other vendors in the back.

3. Sleepy tinies, fresh out of the bath, reading with their Dad. Things like this make me want Tiny #4.

 

4. My new necklace from the refugee artisans of Hill Country Hill Tribers. Isn’t this exquisite?

5. Apple picking season is upon us. Grabbed these little ones from the roadside. Public trees never have the best fruit but still: free apples!

What I’m Looking Forward To Next Month:

Do tell – what are YOU into right now?

Continue Reading · blogging, book review, books, food, What I'm Into · 24