Sunday, March 29, 2015

love

I've just started reading "all about love: New Visions" by bell hooks. It's my first time reading anything by her, and I'm very much enjoying it.

Her first task in the book is to find a good working definition of love. She rejects the notion, popular among many authors, that love is indefinable. Instead, she finds a satisfactory definition in M. Scott Peck's The Road Less Traveled, where he defines love as the will to extend one's self for the purpose nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth." Boy does that up the ante on this thing called love.

It strikes me that this definition of love really fits with unschooling. When you reject an authoritarian, coercive style of parenting (mostly, in theory anyways, when not caught in your own knee-jerk responses), what you have left is a bunch of people living together with different and sometimes conflicting needs. So you just have to solve the problem of ensuring everyone's needs, including personal or spiritual growth, are met.

It also strikes me, in reflecting on other relationships in my life, that they don't meet the standard bell hooks proposes. I think it takes a big, whole self to be able to extend oneself in the way that hooks and Peck call for, and so many of us are too wounded to do it.

Imagine if everyone were healed enough to love properly, though. I've been to a few Resilience Festival events this week, put on by Transition Guelph, and I've just this moment realized that that may be the very thing they're working towards. Huh.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

{moments}

It's been an intense several weeks. Lots of changes and stress and although the stress is mostly past, I'm still waiting for some sense of space, of opening up. I hope it comes soon.

But here are a few moments that made me happy in recent weeks.

















Sunday, February 8, 2015

public service announcement: banana cake with chocolate ganache icing

Oops! I just discovered this in my draft posts… we made this cake again last night for Eldest's birthday party today. When I went to link to the recipe, I couldn't find it… anyways, here it is. The recipe is so well-loved by us that the book, which was pretty much pristine when I bought it, has come apart at the seams at just this recipe.




This post is way, way overdue. Last May, a few days before Youngest's birthday, I didn't know what kind of cake to make him. He had all kinds of requests, not all of them coherent or applicable to most cakes I knew about. So I was a bit stumped. My usual standby is carrot cake with cream cheese icing, but we can't tolerate cream cheese anymore.



Then in a usual spin around my favourite thrift store, I discovered The Cake Bible, a few days before his birthday. I decided to try the Cordon Rose Banana Cake with the recommended Sour Cream Ganache. I was a bit skeptical about a banana cake with lemon zest AND vanilla, but it was amazing, and worked great with gluten-free flour. And the icing… it is now my favourite icing. To me it seems so decadent and rich and fancy, but it only has two ingredients: melted bittersweet chocolate (lots of it) and sour cream. I cannot recommend this recipe enough.

It so happens that my husband baked this for me on my Boxing Day birthday this year, and it was such a treat. So here is the recipe.


(This picture is from Nana's birthday last September… we made it for her too.)
Cordon Rose Banana Cake
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1.5 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups sifted cake flour (we just use our own all-purpose, gluten-free mix)
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons softened, unsalted butter

1 9x2 inch cake pan or 9-inch springform pan, greased, bottom lined with parchment, and then greased again and floured

Preheat the oven to 350F. Mix the banana and sou cream until smooth. Add the eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and mix briefly just to blend. (The book says to use a food processor but I just use our mixer.)

In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend. Add the butter and half the banana mixture. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1.5 minutes to aerate and strengthen the cake's structure. Scrape down the sides. Gradually add the remaining banana mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and develop the structure. Scrape down the sides.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until a wire cake tester inserted in the centre, comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the centre. The cake should start to shrink from the sides of the pan only after removal from the oven.

Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and unsold or remove the sides of the springform pan. Allow the cake to cool completely before wrapping airtight.

Sour Cream Ganache
12 ounces of bittersweet chocolate
1 2/3 cups of sour cream

In a double boiler set over hot water or in a microwave on high power, stirring every 10 seconds, melt the chocolate. Remove from the heat and add the sour cream. Stir with a rubber spatula until uniform in colour. Use at once or store, and when ready to use soften by placing the bowl in a water bath or a microwave for a few seconds, stirring gently.



(The first time we made this cake for Youngest… we also made the blueberry sauce in the book, because he wanted the cake to have blue on it.)

Friday, January 16, 2015

Thursday, January 15, 2015

RIP sourdough starter

I let my sourdough starter die.

This morning, I finally dug the bowl out from the back of the fridge and spooned the remains into the garbage. I didn't really want it to die, but every time I thought about feeding it, somehow I just couldn't face it. I guess I'm grieving. Not the starter but the pancakes I made one or twice a week with it, pancakes that have become a much more complicated endeavour than they used to be, so I've stopped getting around to it and that just makes me so sad. I loved those pancakes.

In the fall, I went to see the dietician about Youngest's behaviour. He ran away more than once from me in the fall (though none as bad as the first time, because I generally kept a grip on him at all times after that), and each time he would get into this weird state afterwards, like all spaced out. So we ran his bloodwork again, and it wasn't too bad considering how many iron and B12 supplements we've missed giving him. The dietician suggested he might be very sensitive to blood sugar changes, so we should only give him fruit with meals, no juice ever, and small treats should be followed within 10 minutes by protein.

So this kind of changes everything, again. We're still discovering what works and what doesn't, but we've definitely seen an improvement in his behaviour, and we've watched him spiral after even so much as a dried apricot. As well, I had run my own bloodwork and in December I finally met with the dietician to go over the results. Everything is perfect, except my blood sugar. So I need to follow the same advice. No sugar in my tea (sob!). Any sweetness must be accompanied or immediately followed by protein. Fruit only with meals. Given that I have a pretty sweet tooth and that I've already almost entirely cut out refined sugar (except for tea and homemade muffins), this has been a bit hard to swallow. I mean, I'd much rather be uncomfortable now and prevent myself from getting into pre-diabetic territory, but still…

Anyways, back to the pancakes. We can still have pancakes, but they have to be accompanied by either eggs or sausage now (not to mention being dressed with considerably less maple syrup), and that is just too much to organize in the morning. And so… since I haven't had the time to discover a gluten-free sourdough bread recipe that I like enough to take the time, the starter had to go.

I'll miss it.

Monday, December 29, 2014

new addiction

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you already know that I've developed a bit of an addiction to sewing. After my first and second sewing projects, I made curtains for the kids' room this past August. And a bag made out of old wool blazers.

Then I discovered the Charley Harper fabrics come in a knit. I usually try to get my kids new pyjamas every year for Christmas Eve, but last year I couldn't find any decent ones. I hate putting my kids to sleep in polyester drenched with flame retardant. Anyways, when I saw the Charley Harper knits, I wondered if I could make my kids' pyjamas this year. It was a lot of work, especially because I wanted to surprise them with it, so I had to wait until they were in bed every night. And it was a major learning experience: I really felt like the pants and the curtains were beginner's luck, as this time I had needles break and tension problems and I lost screws and various other challenges. But I did it, with two days to spare.

And they loved them more than I could have imagined. I really didn't think they'd be that excited but they were. When Youngest woke up on Christmas morning, one of the first things he said, as he looked down at his new pyjama shirt, was, "This shirt has a lot of love in it."



I also wanted to make things for my nieces and nephews, but I ran out of time in a serious way. And now Eldest's birthday is just six weeks away and I have a ton of things I want to sew for him. No rest for the wicked I guess.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

solstice


I’ve been wanting to celebrate winter solstice for years now. But every year it seems to sneak up on me and suddenly it’s the day and I’ve given no thought to what, specifically, I want to do. Last year we ate dinner by candlelight but I wanted something more intentional.

This year, we are lucky to have people in our lives who already celebrate solstice. We were invited to two different solstice parties weeks ahead of time, so the day didn’t sneak up on me. However, last week I realized we had a major conflict. My dad’s side of the family, which has been prevented from getting together at Christmas for the last several years by bad weather, was having its annual gathering a couple of hours away from our home; for once the forecast was totally clear, so we had to go. Eldest, who had made arrangements with the host of one of the solstice parties to light the solstice fire, was disappointed when we discovered the conflict.

As we were preparing to head off, though, I thought about where we were going. My uncle lives in the country with ponds and woods behind his house. Surely he would have an outdoor firepit and we could at least light a fire, even if it was short. And we did.

It took much longer to light (Eldest hadn’t brought enough milkweed fluff and we didn’t have a good bridge from the milkweed to the kindling at first, so we had to forage a bit), and by the time we had a fire going, it was dark. The timing turned out more perfectly than we could have planned. So we enjoyed the fire in the dark for an hour or so before dinner was ready and then we feasted indoors.

It was lovely. I would have liked to burn a paper with my wishes or intentions for the next year, but it was lovely as it was.