Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bronwyn's Bran Muffins

A few years ago, my mom gave me a book of family recipes, and one of them is called “Bronwyn’s bran muffins”. In senior primary (middle) school, my friend Bronwyn made these and I really liked them, and I still go back to them. I don't know if Bronwyn actually thought up the recipe (she's brilliant enough that it's perfectly conceivable), but either way, to me they'll always be "Bronwyn's bran muffins".

There's the extra advantage of making it on the floor with Mr Noah.

Anyway, after that long introduction, here's the recipe:

2 cups bran
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp bicarb/baking soda
1/2 cup-1 cup of raisins.
1. mix

2 eggs, beaten
350ml brown sugar

2. Mix

Combine ingredients in 1. and 2.

Add 350ml milk. Mix.

Place in muffin pans.

Bake at 375F/190C for around 20 mins.

If you'd like to have a one bowl recipe, you can beat the egg and sugar, then add the dry ingredients to the egg and sugar mix.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Caitlin's Squash Apple Soup

If you didn't get to see it in the comments, here's Caitlin's squash apple soup.

One of my favorite fall meals is squash-apple soup. It's a very forgiving recipe, just involving one caramelized onion, then about equal parts butternut (or other squash), green apples, vegetable stock, and white wine (or, if you prefer something more savory, leave the wine out, add some thyme and sage to the stock, and a dash of cream while eating). Cook together, blend, and eat! It does taste best with lots of cooking time, but the time it needs isn't very hands on. It also freezes very well, and can easily be adapted to include a variety of miscellaneous vegetables that need using up.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tiffany's Sage Pumpkin Bread

In keeping with the seasonal recipes (kale and Caitlin's Butternut squash-- Caitlin, can I bring your recipe to the light of it's own post?), here's Tiffany's Sage Pumpkin Bread.

For the sake of being zippy, I am posting her recipe before I've actually had the chance to make it (weekend, come quickly!) but if the bread is anything as awesome as Tiffany, you'll be wanting more! I think that came out wrong. Anyway, here it is:

Tiffany’s Sage-Pumpkin Bread

1 and 3/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cloves (or more if you like spices)
1/2 tsp nutmeg (or more if you like spices)
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1 cup sugar (or 1 cup maple syrup)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp sage, finely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, cloves, and nutmeg in a bowl.

2. In a separate bowl, mix pumpkin puree, eggs, sugar/maple syrup, vegetable oil, and water until thoroughly blended.

3. Add chopped sage to wet ingredients.

4. Make a little well in the dry ingredients and add wet ingredients. Stir till blended together (but don't over-stir)

5. Pour into a greased loaf pan (9X5) and bake for 45-50 minutes. Adjust baking time if using a different sized pan. Or if you're making muffins, they'll bake in about 20 minutes.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Everything's Amazing and Nobody's Happy

Saw this clip of Louis CK at the Vineyard on Sunday:

So, I'm going to try to stop whining about flying...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Kale Quiche With a Simple Crust

Red Fire Farm has given us tons of quiche for our share this past year. After a not-so-great foray into baked kale chips, I tried out kale quiche, and I share what I learned here:


I've always thought of the crust of the pie as something I absolutely cannot do, so this recipe is designed for those of you are similarly fearful. The recipe takes time, but not labor, which is great.
* 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon white sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup canola oil
* 2 tablespoons milk


1. In a 9 inch pie plate, sift flour, sugar and salt. make a well in the center and pour in oil and milk. Mix with a fork, then press into the bottom and sides of pie plate.
2. To bake: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C.) Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

* 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
* 1 onion, chopped
* 1 bunch kale
* 4 or 5 eggs, beaten
* Some cheese (grated)
* 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper/Italian herbs/other

1. The oven is warm from the crust, but bring the temp down a notch to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft. Stir in kale and continue cooking until the kale shrinks a bit.
3. In a large bowl, (or in the skillet, if it's cooled down a bit) combine eggs, cheese, salt and pepper. Add mixture to crust.
4. Bake in preheated oven until eggs have set, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

You can play around with the amount of eggs and cheese you use. You can also experiment with the types of cheese you use. I like quite a bit of cheese, but it may depend on how healthy you're trying to make the recipe.

I usually take about 90 minutes from start to finish, even though the cooking times are far less, partly because I'm hanging out with Noah at the same time. Much of that time is not hands-on, though, so it doesn't feel like a time-intensive meal.

I love this recipe because it helps us eat a ton of kale in one sitting. Kale is a cruciferous vegetable with huge amounts of Vitamin K, A and C. I love this recipe because it's cured me of my fear that the kale will sit in the fridge until it gets mushy.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Venture Philanthropy

Jo Hunter Adams

We came back from DC on Tuesday night and Noah survived his first trip to the capitol. Bethesda is a great town; there was an art fair on Sunday when we arrived, and the vibe was warm and friendly. Noah didn't manage the flight back very well, and the trip was pretty exhausting for both Eug and I. That said, I think it's good that we tried something new with Noah, and it was better than me being away from him for 3 days.

And...we were able to keep Noah in his BumGenius diapers for the three days-- partially because he did so well at going to the hotel toilet (elimination communication is tons easier when you can keep the room temperature really warm). The main thing I was nervous about was bringing a poopy diaper back on the plane, which thankfully didn't happen. I'll spare you more details.

So, onto the subject of this post: Nicholas Kristof had this article in the New York Times yesterday.

Kristof writes about people working on projects where they saw a need and decided to respond, to drive the broader point that a committed individual, without institutional/governmental backing, can generate incredible, positive change. I wanted to share the story here because I think it's easy to get caught up in looking to meet my day-to-day [financial? physical?] needs (surviving the 5:00am wakeup).

Kristof mentions one couple who founded One Day's Wages after giving away all their salary ($68,000) for a year. What do you think about that kind of decision? Any gut reactions?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

On the great South African Literary Tradition

Jo Hunter Adams

I'm often asked about the South African authors I like best, and so I want to tell you about my top three favourite South African writers. South Africans who are much more well-read than I, please forgive me (and offer your contributions)! As I thought of my favourite South African authors, it occurred to me that they're all white. Though I've fallen in love with some other great non-South African African writers (Nuruddin Farah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, to name two), I think it's an interesting commentary on me, and the impacts of apartheid on South African writers.

Antjie Krog is my favourite writer. My feelings for her are a bit like my feelings for Barbara Kingsolver: I wait hopefully for her next book, but she doesn't write quickly enough! Her most recent book came out this year. Krog writes about apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa with a kind of nuance that I find really helpful: where I start to understand the brokenness of our society without feeling paralyzed, and where I can acknowledge and own- in a deep way- the atrocity of apartheid and still assert my South African-ness.

Andre Brink's books are a gut-wrenching read. I used to read them really quickly, and really love the strong emotions the books would evoke. Over the past two years, I donated/sold my library of Andre Brink, because I realized his books actually make me pretty depressed. Depression aside, he offers incredible insight on South African society, human nature, and how we relate to one another.

Like Antjie Krog, Breyten Breytenbach is a poet, writer, painter and anti-apartheid activist. My favourite Breytenback book is "A Season in Paradise". His descriptions of what it is to be outside your country really resonate with me. In many ways his story begins as an artist in Paris who discovers (apparently to his surprise) that his marriage to his Vietnamese wife means that he will be arrested if he returns to South Africa.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

On Reclaiming Furniture

I discovered a small table being thrown away recently. It was black and the paint was chipping, but it was potentially pretty, and very light. I was hoping to have a table for a lamp in our dining room, so I was excited to pick it up.

After cleaning and painting with some left over white paint in the house, this is what it looks like:

Definitely not perfect, but clean and empowering!

Meera, note the birdies-- they are just waiting to be framed and put in their Final Destination on the wall. We love them!

Our ducks were a gift from Eug's aunt-- tradition says that the ducks symbolize the couple in marriage-- ideally moving forward together.

On Sleep

Nothing like a bit of sleep deprivation to bring me back down to earth. I must admit, I thought we were nailing this parenting thing pretty well... Noah is happy and doing everything a little blob should. He was waking up occasionally at night, but it wasn't bad, just what you'd expect from a [textbook] 4.5 month old. I was even thinking of overpopulating/blessing the world with dozens of similarly awesome Hunter Adams babies (in due time). Then the last few weeks happened, and I realized we were just lucky. Sure, we're trying our best, but the reality is that there's only so much we can do.

The last few weeks, we've been really busy trying to sell our condo/flat, and my day job has been busy, too. In the midst of this, or because of it, Mr Noah decided to start waking up every hour at night, and only taking a couple of 30 minute naps during the day. I manically re-ordered Elizabeth Pantley's books from the library (I need a safety blanket), and tried to fix the problem. Hehe. Hehehe. For a no-cry sleep solution, there was a fair bit of crying, so I think I was pushing too hard. I eased up. Anyways, apart from being really humbled, the Pantley No-Cry Baby Sleep Solutions have been really helpful and Noah finally went from grudgingly giving up his pacifier to not letting me even give it to him.

So my lesson has been to hold my views of parenting a little more lightly. I've also been really grateful for moments of sleep. And clean floors. Clean floors are a blessing.