I hope that title was decriptive enough.
Three things to discuss today:
3. A Whole30 Vegetable Soup
I'll start with number 3 first because I'm always hungry. This soup was so good that Josh was concerned he might have to make room in his life for a third soup. Currently, he only eats chicken soup and oddly enough, cauliflower soup. And now there might be a third. He's worried.
You should try it - and it's Whole30 compatible too.
Here's what you do:
Saute 3 sliced onions in some olive oil.
Add 2 cloves of minced garlic and a little salt to the pot and keep sauteing.
Wash, peel and thinly slice two large carrots.
Add to the pot and saute the carrots too.
Wash and slice 6 zucchinis into 1 inch pieces, add them to the pot, cover and let them cook for about a minute.
Add 5 cups of water to the pot and bring to a boil.
Partially cover the pot and lower the flame so the soup simmers until the carrots are done. The zucchini will be done a lot faster than the carrots, even though the carrots are a lot smaller than the zucchini. Go figure.
Once the carrots are done, allow the soup to cool and then use your very handy immersion blender to partially puree the soup.
It's really very good.
Moving right along to numbers 1 and 2 on the list above. They're intertwined so we'll just mix 'em up and call this number one and a half.
Manners and Chanukah**. Mannukah. Something we seem to have none of these days.
Right around night #4, my kids seemed to get very blase about the whole "gift each night" thing. As in, this is it? I didn't want that!, along with some tears. And that my friends, is not
even a little bit okay. But lest we defame only my children, this seemed to have been going on in many other houses in the neighborhood. And before we malign the neighborhood, I really do think it's a generational thing. Having said that, next Chanukah I am supposed to remind several of my friends about this ungratefulness. Next year, we are not giving the kids a gift each night of Chanukah. Yup. You heard me.
So here's the thing. I grew up getting a little something each night of Chanukah and I kind of like that tradition. But it's not working for us. In fact, on night five of this Chanukah, we did not give gifts. We had a gift for each kid, wrapped and ready to go, but we didn't hand them out. Instead, we used a popcorn maker to make popcorn and we all watched a movie instead, with the lights off and the couch turned to face the tv. And once the kids got over the initial shock of not having anything to unwrap, they loved it.
I think that's what it she be about - experiences. Popcorn and movie might not sound like much of an experience, but for my kids, it really was. Piling onto the couch and getting cozy under one big blanket with popcorn and drinks - it's just not something we do as a group, ever. Maybe it should be, maybe we should do it more often, but that's a whole other guilty-mommy-blog-post.
*In case you've been wondering where the heck we've been since seemingly dropping off the internet since the middle of Chanukah, we've been right here. Being lazy. I think (hope) we're back now.
** I know it's over, but I think it's still okay to talk about Chanukah, mostly because I still haven't finished putting away the menorahs.
Oh, December 11th, how I've been waiting for you.
Tonight marks the end of day #30 of this Whole30 experiment.
I have been surrounded by chocolate Chanukah gelt, jelly donuts and many many homemade treats this week, but you know what? I was really okay with my clementines. Shockingly, a clementine provided enough sweetness so that my brain was able to decipher the "end of meal" message. Tomorrow morning, I weigh in. I'm, at the same time, both terrified and super excited.
Tonight also marks the fourth night of Chanukah. And in case you ever wondered what a living room looks like when four kids receive lego at the same time, well, wonder no more.
Not to change the subject or anything, but what comes to mind when you hear the word Chanukah?
I mean besides
Yes, very good, latkes and other assorted items that require frying. And grating. I hate grating vegetables. But as we were having dinner company tonight, I kinda sorta had to fry something, so like the good wife that I try to be, I made potato latkes (from a box and no one said a word - ha!) and I made corn latkes
, a special request from the husband.
Josh has also dropped many hints this week regarding sufganiyot, also known as Chanukah jelly donuts. There's no where around here to get real sufganiyot (and jelly donuts from Dunkin Donuts are not the same thing) and I think Josh thought that I might make some. From scratch. Are you laughing? Cause I am. I mean, it a calm world where all I had to do was make dessert, I would absolutely try and make donuts. But see, here's the thing. The amount of frying that went on here today between the regular and corn latkes was, in my opinion, obscene. But I did want the hubby to have sufganiyot. So I found a recipe for Jelly Donut Muffins
I only made one switch in the recipe and that was to swap almond milk mixed with
a tablespoon of vinegar for the buttermilk because I wanted to keep the muffins
pareve. Otherwise, I stuck with the recipe as is - and they were great, or so
said the people who actually like jelly donuts. Everyone else ate leftover sugar
Happy fourth night!
I was in charge of dessert today.
Not such a simple task because really, even though today is day 28 on the Whole30, I wanted to dive head first into the chocolate Chanukah gelt today. Seems that I have not yet slain my sugar dragons. Have to keep working on that.
This afternoon, we attended our family's annual Chanukah party, giving extra thanks that the party was not in our house this year.
We brought along some of the Chanukah sugar cookies
we made the other day, some sugar-free peanut butter cookies
for my dad, cinnamon bun muffins* and some cheese latkes. The cheese latkes were not part of dessert, but I felt empty handed coming with just those few other foods. And also, I had about a quarter of a big container of ricotta cheese left in the fridge and it was very unclear to me how much longer it would last.
Having never made cheese latkes before but at the same time wanting to use up the ricotta cheese, I went with google and a few seconds later, I had my recipe from shiksa.com
, a website that I had never heard of before but will be visiting again.
I changed her recipe very slightly
because I was concerned that the latkes would not be sweet enough and in my head, I was picturing something along the lines of latke cheesecake. Either way, they got great reviews, with a request for a make-again from the husband, and that's saying a lot about something dairy. Again (and even I am getting bored of saying this) but I did not taste these myself - no dairy allowed on the Whole30, but all the latkes were gone so that must be saying something good.
Here's what I did:
1 and 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
3/4 cup flour
5 tbsps sugar
1 tsp baking powder
Mix all the ingredients very well. Cook as you would regular pancakes, starting with a hot frying pan and flipping the latkes after two minutes. Just an FYI, this latke batter does not bubble, thereby giving you an instant clue as to when to flip 'em. Just flip them after two minutes and you'll be fine. Oh, and the second side does not need that full two minutes. I guess it depends on how high your fire is, how large your latkes are and so on, but you'll get the hang of it. Just remember, the first pancake is always the sacrificial one - kind of like your first kid. You have no idea what you're doing so you just wing in, and in the end, all is still good.
These made 15 large latkes and at the end of the meal they were all gone. *More about those soon.
Remember the Gingerbread Man? I'd like you to meet the Maccabee Man. Catch him if you can!
The dreidel girls. Kind of like the rockettes. But not.
The dreidel guys. My kids thought they were French dreidels but those are kippahs on their heads, not berets.
Mini two-bite dreidels.
These are bigger dreidels, but if you open your mouth really wide, they can be two-bite dreidels too.
My kids sampled one of each kind of cookie and they all approved. (I wanted to write "unanimous approval" there but I wasn't sure how to spell either word. Did I spell them right? Wrong? Who knows.) My point? All the cookies are exactly the same, just in different shapes. The kids were not grasping this and so many many cookies were eaten in the name of "just tasting". Josh better come home soon if he wants to "taste" too.
Anyway, would love to see your Chanukah cookies!
A Farmer's Market opened up near our house a while back. And I capitalize Farmer and Market because it's not actually a farmer's market where locals come to sell their eggplant and squash; it's an actual store called Farmer's Market.
I really like this store because it forces you to shop the perimeter, as nutritonists like to recommend. The whole store is the perimeter - all fruits and vegetables and more fruits and vegertables, with a few aisles at the far end of the store with all kinds of overpriced canned goods. I don't visit those aisles, except to grab the weirdly cheap milk they carry. And it's horomone-free milk too, so I'm not really sure why it's the cheapest milk in town, but I am not complaining.
So why am I telling you all this when the title of this posting clearly indicated that some cookies should be coming to town? I'm sharing the wonder that is my fruit store because as I ran through the store ten minutes before pick-up at school this afternoon, I noticed that the cauliflower looked very nice and was very on sale. So I bought some.
And when we all got home, I made cauliflower soup, a yummy soup that has been a staple of my journey through the Whole30.
I love soup, but I don't like washing and peeling a bunch of different vegetables. Cauliflower soup is easy. Saute an onion and some garlic in olive oil, wash the cauliflower, cut it into large pieces and add them to the pot. Fill the pot halfway with water, season with salt and pepper and bring the water to a boil. Cover and simmer until the cauliflower is cooked, about 30 minutes, depending on the size of your cauliflower pieces. Once cooked, let the soup cool completely. Once cooled, use your handy dandy immersion blender (you must have one of these. If you don't, go get one now. Go. It's okay, I'll wait for you) and puree the soup. And you're done.
Wait, you can make this even easier. Use frozen cauliflower. I do it all the time.
And my point here? I ate the soup while rolling out my Chanukah sugar cookies. Yup, I stuffed myself with two bowls of soup, which incidentally, is the right amount of soup to make you feel like if you eat even one cookie, you will explode. Works for me.
My new motto: I love cookies, but I love (almost-but-kind-of-not-yet-at-all) skinny more.
Next up: cookie decorating with the kids.
Today marks three weeks since I began the Whole30 challenge
It's been very hard, exhilirating and boring, all at the same time.
Hard because I love chocolate, I miss chocolate and I think about it fondly and often.
Exhilirating because I am finally doing something for me and about me, and while I have no idea if I am losing any weight because weighing in is a big no-no until the 30 days are up, I feel better, sleep better, think better and eat better.
And boring, because I'm bored, literally bored with what I am eating.
There is only so much poached salmon, grilled chicken and diced avocados a person can eat. So for dinner tonight, I invented my own recipe and and it worked (it's okay, I'm shocked too).
It's super simple and very yummy.
And the best part, you can use as much or as little of any of the ingredients as you like.
And even better than the best part, if you have some chicken that has already been cooked sitting around in the fridge (and if you're Whole30ing, you really should have some), then you won't have to actually cook anything here, just chop, mix and eat.
What should I call this?
I think we're going to go with Citrus-Chicken Salad.
Romaine lettuce (or your favorite salad green), chopped
grapefruit, peeled, sliced and cut up
a handful of raw cashews
Toss the first five ingredients in a bowl. Add a little olive oil and salt. Retoss. Eat.
It was quite good, if I may say so myself. And there was also quite a lot left over, so I guess my dinner for tomorrow night is already done. Hooray.
And I keep thinking, Day 21 already, what am I going to do on Day 31? How and what will I eat. I'm getting nervous.
And because I seem to be the master of bad transition sentences lately, I'm now going to say that Chanukah is making me nervous too. There is still so much that I have not done. (See how I did that, with the word nervous in both sentences? Clever. I know. )
For the past fews years, I've been thinking about making a Chanukah bingo game for our family Chanukah party, but it always seems like so much work. I can make that first bingo board, no problem. It's the shuffling around of the pictures to make the other boards that throws me. So I've never done it.
I'm sure then, that you can imagine my delight when I found these free (free!) printable Chanukah themed bingo boards on Crayola.com
Just print and go.
And you can use chocolate Chanukah gelt as the pieces so even the players that don't win, win with all that chocolate. I think I'm going to be the bingo caller. I can't be trusted around all that chocolate. You know, the Whole30 and all. (See how I tied that all together like that at the end? I know.)
Doesn't it feel like Chanukah is starting tomorrow?
My kids tell me there are ten days left until Chanukah and I'm going to to believe them as the first thing they do each morning is check the calendar and count the days left until - you got it - Chanukah.
I think I already mentioned that I did all my holiday shopping online this year. Did I also mention that it was awesome? I did? Several times? I'm gonna say it again. It was awesome. No lines, no grabbing and the ability to toggle between three stores, checking prices, without having to put my shoes on. The downside to all this online shopping? I don't actually have any the gifts yet and so I cannot yet begin the one holiday chore that is even more time consuming than shopping: the wrapping of the presents.
I had had a thought that maybe I'd get the kids to do some painting on large white paper and use that as wrapping paper. I sat the little one down this morning with paint and some sponges but she decided that she'd rather paint the popsicle sticks that were left out the other day.
So we're painting popsicle sticks. Can't really wrap anything in the sticks so not so useful to me, but she's happy. I was just sitting there while she painted so I drew her a picture of a menorah, nothing fancy, just lines. And I couldn't quite believe it, but she stopped painting, picked up her crayon and copied my picture onto her own paper. Really well. And the art teacher inside me cheered.
See? It's good. A bunch of straight lines for the candles and then a bottom section. You can see it, right?
And then because the only thing she loves more than painting is gluing, we glued. She glued her painted popsicle sticks onto her menorah drawing and she was so careful to paste them on or very near the lines she drew. I was shocked and ecstatic at the same time. How did she know how to do this? How did she squeeze the glue like that? Even my six-year-old has trouble with that, but now that I typed that, I think that might have to do more with the fact that he'd do well with some occupational therapy for his hands, but that's neither here nor there. Today's issue is that my little one is a serious crafter.
Yeah, that shadow would be me taking the picture.
Here is our first Chanukah project, made almost by a two and a half year old, almost all by herself.
Again, me in the shadow. I think it might be time for a photography class.
I'm loving the Chanukah season. .
It's been days since I reported how the Whole30 has been going, but I am happy to report that days 9 through 14 have been a success, full of spaghetti squash, steamed vegetables, salmon and egg whites omlettes. Not sure if any weight is falling off because one of the rules of the Whole30 is no weighing in, but we can hope, right? And we're all hoping, right?
I'm also happy to report that I have finished (and started) all my Chanukah shopping last night, in one three-hour marathon session online. Despite the fact that my neck is still killing me, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Maybe that'll help with the Whole30 losing weight thing. Oh, if only shopping caused weight loss, that would be so awesome. Kind of like if P90X worked just by looking at the dvd. Sigh.
This afternoon, Josh and I were discussing whether or not we should stage a secret santa (secret latke?) for the kids by tossing all their names into a hat and having each kid pick a name and give that sibling a gift. And just as we were debating the feasibility of taking each kid on a solo shopping trip so they can choose a secret gift, my oldest walked in and announced that he needed all the craft supplies in the house right away(!) so he can start making his Chanukah gifts.
This makes me happier than finding a forgotten peppermint patty in the back of the pantry. Oh wait, I'm doing the Whole30. Never mind. I meant to say, happier than finding a bag of raw cashews in my bag.
First of all, I love a crafty kid.
And second, I love a kid with initiative.
And third, I love a kid who thinks about making gifts for others.
I had been thinking about that last night, all about how I was going to teach the kids that it's more fun to give a gift than to get a gift. Don't laugh, it really is. The warm feeling that comes from being a good giver lasts way longer than it takes to open, play with and then ignore a toy someone gave you.
So maybe we'll do the secret latke game with the kids, or maybe they'll create gifts for each other. I feel like those that they make are something that their siblings will keep forever. I still have a card that my brother made for me almost twenty years ago. I love looking at his signature (he has been signing his name with his first and last names on cards since he learned to write) and seeing how it's not that different from his signature decades later.
But right now, the kids are all sitting around the house, secretly making whatever it is they are making. There is a two year old, gleefully squeezing a glue bottle in the dining room. She's good with the glue, nothing else needed to make her happy. And there is a four year old next to her, trying to explain to her little sister how to use the glue, saying "Just use a drop, not a glop!" I can only assume that her teacher uses that little poem.
There is a six year old gluing every foamie letter he can find to some colored paper, and there is a seven year old, holed up in his room with one of every art item in the house.
And even though there is no peace on earth right now, there is peace in my house. And for that I am thankful.
Anyway, glue comes off of carpet, right?
Happy Eighth Night of Chanukah!
Tonight marks the last night of Chanukah. All eight candles burning on the
menorah is truly a sight to see. I had wanted to take a picture of all of our
menorahs lit up from outside the front of the house, but sadly it was
pouring this evening. Oh well.
Tonight, and tomorrow, the last day of Chanukah are known as "zot
chanukah" because of the passuk or verse that is read from the
Torah on the last morning of Chanukah, "zot chanukat hamizbayach".
There is a kabbalistic thought which teaches that the last day of Chanukah has a
certain power or koach to it and it is an auspicious time for prayer for what
one may need, especially for women who are trying to have children, for anyone
seeking a spouse, for a full and speedy recovery for those who are sick and for
those who are in need of a (increased) parnassah or livlihood.
You heard it here. Now think of those friends and family and loved ones that
might need an extra prayer and hop to it. And may all our prayers be answered
for the good.
And also, be sure to have just one last jelly donut tomorrow. You know you want it.
This little gem of a project came home from school with my five year old. I
was so impressed with the forethought of the teacher. She had the kids create
Happy Chanukah cards for their parents. Each child wrote a message that they
composed themselves on the inside of the card, which is always precious,
especially when the writer is a new writer and still learning to print and spell
and writes his words out phonetically. I just love that.
But what I really loved about this card was how the kids painted the
menorah. They didn't use paintbrushes, they used their fingertips and some
watercolor paint. Each candle on the menorah and really the entire menorah itself
is made up of his fingerprints, one little finger after the next. Brilliant,
really. I was so touched that each parent got a card that was not only
personally made by their child, but also literally contained a personal touch, a
fingerprint of that child. Call me crazy, but the card made me slightly weepy.
And then the other side of me sees the pure fun in such a project too. I will
definitely be adding this to my list of fun things to do with the little one who
does not yet attend school.
On an unrelated note, I would just like to take a second to share what my dining
room looks like.
I realize that there is still one more night of Chanukah to go so there's more boxes
and paper and hard to cut through little plastic thingies that holds toys to
their packaging like superglue coming, but I would just like to say that this
seems slightly excessive and out of hand. Between the grandparents, aunts,
uncles and cousins, my kids are drowning in new stuff. I was even able to pack
away a few toys and stick them in my secret closet in the attic without anyone
noticing. I feel like next year I will put some more effort into showing the
kids that perhaps the most important part of Chanukah - or any of the holidays -
is not the gifts they receive, but what they give.
Don't be shy! If you like what you've just read, leave a comment please!