March 5, 2011

Creamy Shrimp and Rice

Filed under: Recipes,Seafood — pyjamasandtea @ 1:23 pm
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It is pouring rain.  Think water, think things that live in water, think shrimp!  Or so it goes for me.

Creamy Shrimp and Rice

2 servings of cooked rice (I love Jasmine Brown Rice but be daring…choose your rice with abandon)

2 ounces cream cheese

1/2 tsp minced garlic

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp minced onion

2 cups of zucchini, peeled and shredded (note:  I never peel it.  Why on earth would you? Why take an easy recipe and make it hard?)

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 pound small/medium shrimp

Melt butter in a frying pan.  Add onion and cook until clear but not browned.  Add garlic and zucchini and cook for 2 minutes.  Cut cream cheese into small pieces and add to pan, stirring constantly.  Add parmesan cheese.  Add shrimp and cook til opaque.  Serve over rice.  Delicious!




March 3, 2011

On Snoring.

Filed under: Daily life — pyjamasandtea @ 10:22 pm
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As I lay downstairs on the couch, listening to my love honk away upstairs in our nice comfy bed, I wonder what it is about snorers?  What is wrong with you?  It is a phenomenon, surely, much like hoarding (I just watched a horrific CSI episode about a hoarder.  Shudder.).

Okay.  Maybe snoring isn’t “quite” like hoarding.  But how is it that a snorer can so blithely sleep in the midst of all that noise?  I am one floor down and I fear I might have to descend yet further into the depths of this house to escape it.  How is it that you don’t wake yourselves up?  How can you dream in the cacophony?  How can you breathe with such obstruction?  How can you sleep so peacefully knowing that your partner will have to escape the onslaught?


I’m just wondering, ’tis all.  Yawn.






“You are Special” by Max Lucado

Filed under: Books,Reviews — pyjamasandtea @ 1:01 pm
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My eldest son is in grade four and recently attended an assembly at school to celebrate “kindness week”.  At the assembly, a teacher read aloud the book “You are Special” by Max Lucado.  It made enough of an impression on the eldest for him to not only pay attention (ha!) but recount the story when he got home.  (He did this on a long skate we shared.  I think skating, like driving, is a great time to talk to a child.  Too bad I am so out of shape that skating winds me after about 4 minutes.  Fortunately, the eldest is in better shape so he talked and I listened.  He probably enjoyed the fact I couldn’t interrupt him.  Interesting to ponder that… )

The book tells the tale of the Wemmicks, a world of wooden puppet-people created by Eli.  The Wemmicks walk about putting stickers on each other– gold stars or gray dots.  Punchinello is covered in gray dots, a fate that falls on those who are neither attractive nor talented in the eyes of other Wemmicks.  Over the course of the story, Punchinello learns how to believe he is special.

When I gasped out a request that the eldest tell me the moral of the story, he first summarized it this way:  “Some friends will give you pieces of paper, and others an Xbox, but both may like you just the same amount.”

NATCH.  There are no Xboxes in the Wemmick-world.  Of this I am sure.

So he reframed and proved he got the point– worth comes from within, and the gray dots and gold stars only matter to those affixing them.  We need to believe in ourselves and not define ourselves by our stickers.  Or something like that.  😉

This is a lesson his mother needs to learn.  So we have the book on order.  It comes highly recommended.

Spicy Onion Soup with Lentils

Filed under: Recipes,Soup — pyjamasandtea @ 10:56 am
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No meat in this one!  And it is just perfect for a bitterly cold day… March is coming in like a LION.  I have no motivation whatsoever to get out of my pyjamas.  The tea of choice today is chocolate-mint which tastes just like a liquid After Eight mint.  When coupled with a butter tart at 10:30 in the morning… divine. This is what I am making for dinner tonight:


Spicy Onion Soup with Lentils

2 tbsp butter

5 cups sliced onions

1 tsp chopped ginger

1 tbsp garam masala

1/2 cup red lentils

4 cups vegetable stock or water

1/4 cup yogurt


Melt butter in a soup pot over medium heat.  Add onions, sprinkle with salt and cook slowly, stirring occationally, for about 30 minutes, or until nicely carmelized.  Add ginger and garam masala and cook 1 minute longer.  Add lentils and stock and bring to boil.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until lentils have exploded.  Adjust seasoning.  Swirl with yogurt.

This soup is fantastic… warming and warm, and it tastes just as good or better the next day.

February 25, 2011

My favourite…

Filed under: Lists — pyjamasandtea @ 11:37 am
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1.  Author:  Guy Gavriel Kay, and especially his “Lions of Al Rassan”.

2.  Movie:  “Sleepless in Seattle”.  And then “Love Actually”.

3.  Tea:  Mint.

4.  Wine:  Gewurztraminer.

5.  Child:  My caring, sensitive eldest.  And my stubborn, charming middle.  And my adorable, funny youngest.

6.  Television Show:  “The West Wing”.

7.  Food:  cheese.  (That surprised me right there.  I wasn’t expecting to say that.)  And then “ice cream” (Phew.  Now that feels more like me.)

8.  City:  Paris.  I think.  That’s of the places I’ve been.  Or perhaps Rome.  Or maybe San Francisco.

9.  Website:  “The Pioneer Woman”.

10.  Season:  Fall.

February 24, 2011

On being a closet vegetarian lover of Bacon Pasta

Filed under: Daily life,Pasta,Recipes — pyjamasandtea @ 11:16 am
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I love Moosewood Restaurant.  The cookbooks and the restaurant both.  I have been a vegetarian for almost twenty-five years.  I entered that state of consumption (or lack thereof) for ethical reasons, and probably to assert my independence against my overbearing carnivore husband of the time.  I was young and living in a very small town.  I didn’t have a whole lot of ways to assert.

Over the years I have waxed and waned in my commitment to vegetarianism.  At various points in time, I was really strict (though never a vegan)(and I always roasted marshmallows in the summer even though they contain gelatin).  When my eldest son was born, my then husband and I (not the same carnivore, a different one, and a longer story) decided that he too would be a vegetarian.  This confounded folks who believe that humanity should have the right to “choose” to be vegetarian.  The default human condition being to eat meat?  My three children remain mostly-vegetarians, though over the years we have allowed them to first eat fish, and then seafood (the seafood exception was prompted by a yearly “lobster-fest” in abject defiance of both vegetarian and kosher rules with a strict cone of silence around the merriment of clandestine eating).  Vegetarian kids are a challenge, for the faux-meat products I resorted to (chick’n nuggets, meatless meatballs) are full of additives that mock Michael Pollan’s edict that we should only eat food with ingredients we recognize.  But still… kids have to eat and legumes just don’t cut it on a daily basis.  And so now they eat fish.  (Tilapia is their staple.  Once I tried to pass flounder off as tilapia but was roundly condemned as a big fat food liar.)

Now their mother… she has really fallen off the rails in terms of being a card-carrying vegetarian.  (I really do carry a card.  Honest.)  Having fallen in love with the most devoted of carnivores, and one who loves to cook and eat to boot, I have branched out from pescatarianism (a label I tried to use once in a while, but which always made people laugh even harder at me).  I now include three meat by-products in my staple of vegetarian-friendly meals.  I say vegetarian-friendly because I still call myself a vegetarian… it defines me!, even as I realize that these items are neither vegetarian nor friendly.  I adore bacon, hot genoa salami and a frozen chicken wing product called “Spicy Southern Style Chicken Wings” by Presidents Choice.  I believe that these items are neither meat, nor truly food.  I therefore maintain they fit in my “vegetarian-friendly” category.  What should I label myself as now?  What do you call yourself when you hide out in your pyjamas and eat chemically-created-meat-products?

With that rather long introduction, I offer tonight’s meal:  Bacon Pasta

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 3 slices Thin Bacon, Cut Into 1/2-inch Pieces (okay I admit it… I use 3 as a guideline)
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 package (10 Ounce) White Button Mushrooms, Sliced Thin (It is also divine with fancier mushrooms like oyster or enoki but you don’t have to go there.)
  • 1 cup Low Sodium Chicken Broth (OR Dry White Wine) (I use the wine.  Duh.)
  • 1 cup Half-and-half
  • ¼ cups Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 3 whole Green Onions, White And Light Green Parts Sliced
  • ¼ cups Flat-leaf Parsley, Minced (I never add the parsley because I resent buying big bunches and having it go to waste.)
  • ½ cups Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt To Taste
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
  • 1 pound Thin Spaghetti Or Angel Hair Pasta (if you can find fresh, it is so worth it.  I would use whole wheat pasta and pretend it compensates for the heavy cream.)
  • Extra Parmesan, For Sprinkling

Cook pasta according to package directions.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add bacon pieces and cook until light brown but not crisp. Remove bacon from pan and set aside. Do not clean pan. (Don’t you love it when you don’t have to clean in between steps.  Yahoo!)

Add mushrooms and garlic to pan and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or til golden-brown and smelling delicious.

Pour in wine. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any bits. Cook over medium-high heat for several minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by half.

Reduce heat and pour in half and half and cream. Stir and allow to bubble and thicken for a couple of minutes. Add sliced green onions and parsley (if you must), then cook for one more minute. Finally, add Parmesan and stir, allowing cheese to melt and incorporate into the sauce. Turn off heat.

Add cooked pasta to a large bowl. Add half the sauce from the pan. Toss with tongs. ***Add 1/2 cup hot pasta water at this point if the pasta mixture is too thick and gunky (a food term of art).

February 23, 2011

Lemony-Lentil Soup

Filed under: Recipes,Soup — pyjamasandtea @ 1:00 pm
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I am making “Lemony-Lentil Soup” tonight for dinner.  I love the word “lemony”.  When combined with the word “lentil”, this recipe just makes me smile for the saying of it.

I started by making a homemade lemongrass stock.  I always wonder whether homemade stocks are worth the effort, and I can’t help feeling like it is a waste to throw out all those stock vegetables after I am done with them.  The soup recipe called for chicken stock but I thought this might be better.

Lemongrass Stock

6 cups water

3 fresh lemongrass stalks, coarsely chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 leek or onion, coarsely chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped (why do I have to peel it?  I wonder.)

3 inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced (the ginger makes this oh-so-yummy)

1/4 tsp whole black peppercorns

1/2 tsp salt (I leave this out.  I’m just crazy like that)

1/2 tsp coriander seeds (optional)(I add these.  But what does coriander taste like?)

In a large soup pot, combine all these ingredients.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat.  Simmer for 35-45 minutes.


Lemony-Lentil Soup (I dare you to say that without smiling)

2 tsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, chopped

pinch chile flakes

1 tsp ground cumin

1 1/2 cups red lentils, rinsed

6 cups stock (the recipe above will make about 4 cups of stock.  I will supplement with water.  I’m just crazy like that)

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp cilantro

Heat oil.  Add onion, garlic and chile flakes.  Cook on low for 3 to 5 minutes.  Add cumin and cook for 30 seconds.  Stir in lentils.  Add stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender and soup begins to thicken (about 25 to 30 minutes).  Puree all or part or none as you wish.  Add lemon juice and sprinkle with cilantro.



The “Ick” Factor

Filed under: Daily life — pyjamasandtea @ 12:38 pm
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I love to have my house cleaned by professionals.  I love pedicures.  Both of these things make me feel pampered and good about myself.  Yet, I must admit, I am uncomfortable with the idea of someone else cleaning up my mess.  I am also uncomfortable with making someone touch my feet.  I think it is because I can’t see myself being able to do either job.  The “ick” factor is just too high for me.

I usually leave my house when my cleaner is there.  I feel compelled to explain to her as I leave that I am “really busy today” and I always apologize that the house is “messier than I would like it to be”.  She can’t possibly believe or care about either fumbled excuse.  I have never had the nerve to ask her whether she enjoys her job.  Perhaps there is real satisfaction in making things clean?  I love clean.  I hate making things clean.  It is a conundrum.

I never offer excuses to my pedicurist.  All the women in the shop I go to are Vietnamese and I am terrified to start a conversation with one of them because I find it hard to understand their English.  Nothing bumps up my pedicure-guilt like having to fillabuster my end of a conversation that I don’t understand.

At the moment, my house is in dire need of that clean and my toes are fire engine red.  I’m managing the angst.

Difficult Things

Filed under: Lists — pyjamasandtea @ 11:50 am
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A list of some weirdly difficult decisions after a separation:

1.   Does the ex get a colourful birthday sticker on the family calendar, the way the other family members do?

2.  If we aren’t friends in real-space, are we facebook friends?  Twitter followers?  Skype buddies?

3.  Where do I put the wedding ring once it is off my finger?  What will I do with it?

4.  Do I change the cute, historic nickname on my cell to a more impersonal one?

5.  In scanning the family photo albums, so that we each have copies, do I scan the photos of the ex?  The ones of us together?  The ones of us as a family?

6.  Am I allowed to ask the ex for help with my computer?  My car?  The taxes?

7.  Do I continue to use the cheques with both our names on them?  Is it cheap to wait til they run out before ordering new ones?

8.  Do I have to tell our dentist or can I just say the ex is fine?

9.  When I make his favourite recipe– the one he can’t make himself, should I drop off leftovers?  Is it fair that he never gets to eat that dish again?

10.  How do I answer the question, “When did I stop loving you”?  Did I ever love you?  What did that feel like?  Did I ever stop?  How do I know?


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