Fall Comfort Food

One thing for which I am so grateful on a daily basis is the inspiration from other bloggers and from cookbook authors to make quick, healthy, filling meals for the boys with hollow legs who populate this house.  Left to my own devices, I’d probably just eat toast for dinner most nights, but you cannot grow healthy kids on toast alone, tempting though it might be.  I know, though, that if I spend a minute flipping through my cookbooks, or my bookmarked blogs, I will rise above my lethargy and get inspired to try something new.

Such was the case one cold night recently, and I made a stew that I knew would be my perfect comfort food.  The catch: I was fairly sure it would be a flop with the kids.  WRONG.  Youngest ate three bowls of this Chick Pea and Sweet Potato Stew, and then he asked for it in his lunchbox for the next day.  It was a lesson for all of us: do not be afraid to stray from the tried and true.


Sweet-Potato-Chickpea-Stew_largeHere is the recipe, reprinted with permission, from Michael Smith’s Family Meals:

Sweet Potato Chickpea Stew

Serves 4 to 6

 2 tablespoons (30mL) of vegetable oil

1 large onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, sliced

2 tablespoons (30mL) of curry powder

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes

A 19-ounce (540mL) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

4 cups (1L) of water

1 teaspoon (5mL) of salt

A 14-ounce (400mL) can coconut milk

2 cups (500mL) of fresh or frozen green peas

1 pint (500mL) of cherry tomatoes, halved

½ teaspoon (2mL) of your favorite hot sauce

The zest and juice of 1 lime

A handful of fresh cilantro sprigs

Splash the vegetable oil into a large pot over medium-high heat. Toss in the onions and garlic and cook, stirring as the onions soften, 5 minutes or so. Sprinkle in the curry and stir for a few moments to brighten its flavor. Toss in the sweet potatoes, chickpeas, water and salt. Bring to a slow, steady simmer, then simmer long enough for the sweet potato to soften, 20 minutes or so.

Pour in the coconut milk, peas and tomatoes. Continue cooking just long enough to heat everything through. Season with the hot sauce and lime zest and juice. Serve and share with the cilantro sprinkled over every bowl.

Is it no reflection on the quality of this recipe that one boy got up from the table after eating a bowl full of this for dinner to make himself a sandwich.  See above re: hollow legs.

We also had great success recently with an apple galette, inspired by Kitchen Counter Chronicles.  Jen’s recipe is ever so kid-friendly, and the kids really loved getting involved in making dessert.







And if you do not have the time or energy to make your own baked goods, either for dinner or for the upcoming Thanksgiving festivities, give thanks for the brilliant concept that is ShopBake, an on-line baked goods store with treats from over 50 Toronto bakeries.  They sent us a sample pack of some of their goodies, and I have to tell you that everything I tasted was delicious.  Best of all, because there are so many vendors, you can really narrow down your parameters: gluten-free, nut-free no problem!


Shop Bake sent us samples of their goodies, and Penguin sent us a copy of Michael Smith’s Family Meals.  Thank you for spreading the goodness!



Best of the Blogosphere


Earth Day will be celebrated on April 22 and Kitchen Counter Chronicles recently blogged the ABC’s of Raising Eco-Friendly Kids.  As parents isn’t it our duty to leave our planet in better shape for our children and grandchildren?  What better way than to instill strong eco-values in our kids at an early age.

Thirteen year-old Gregory received an iPhone for Christmas.  His mother Janell Burley Hofmann gifted that phone along with this contract of use.  Janell offers her son words of wisdom along with terms and conditions, such as never take pictures of your private parts (that will come back to haunt you) and never text/email anything you wouldn’t say to that person’s face.  I am book-marking this for the future!

My days wouldn’t be complete without reading Yoonanimous.  Whether it’s her hilarious telling of ski day with her kids or the lack of romance between her and her husband, Yoonanimous is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud.  Her recent trip to Vegas with her kids had me firmly believing that she and I are living parallel lives on the opposite sides of the continent.

Nathalie sent me 100 Ways to be Kind to your Child by Creative with Kids and it serves as a touching reminder that connecting with our children is the most important job that we have as parents.  Kindness can get side-lined when tired gives way to irritability and incessant whining takes it toll but listening to that long-winded explanation of my this Ninjago guy is better than that Ninjago guy, shows that you care.  I printed off the list and keep it at my bedside to remind myself to slow down and be more present.  Numbers 90, 91 and 92 should be my mantra.

Because it’s Friday and because it’s snowing here (yes, still!), let’s end the week off with a laugh.  Check out the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer.  What’s so funny, you ask?  Read the reviews!

Thanksgiving Weekend

Canadian Thanksgiving is this weekend and it always serves as a reminder that poverty and hunger are not just a third world problem.  Food Banks Canada reports that 900,000 people use food banks each month and 38% of those are children and youth.  In stark contrast to the stereotype, many of these families are not unemployed but their salary is not enough to cover all basic necessities and food.

What I find most concerning is that food banks are facing a real shortage and according to Hunger Count 35% of food banks run out of food and 55% have to limit the amount of food each household receives.

It is important to note that food bank organizations offer other programs to help fight hunger too like community gardens, snack programs and soup kitchens.

How can you help?  It doesn’t take much to ensure that families in your city are getting enough to eat.

–       Consider making a high-need food bank items staples on your grocery list.  Many grocers have collection bins for non-perishable donations and so do many neighbourhood fire halls.

–       Make a cash donation.  For every $1 donated a food bank is able to generate $8 worth of food.  I am no financial whiz but those returns sound pretty good to me!

–       When you host your next dinner party, ask your guests to bring non-perishable donations instead of a dessert or a hostess gift.  My sister-in-law did this for a party and generated a van-load of food for the local bank.

–       Organize a community food drive with your neighbours.  Most people say that they want to help out but unless things are made convenient (like say, dropping off some food on your neighbours porch) excuses are easy to come by.

My family participates in The Good Food Box program.  For 5 boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables that are purchased an inner-city family receives an equivalent box at no cost.

A few weeks ago, Kitchen Counter Chronicles wrote about the initiative No Kid Hungry and how she started a discussion with her children that morphed into action.  Her story is inspiring and I plan to take a wish-list written on orange paper with me the next time I do the groceries.

To all of our fellow Canadians living here and abroad, we wish you a very happy Thanksgiving this weekend and ask that instead of just being thankful for the food on your table, consider sharing your bounty with others in need.