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A Waldorf Night Song

“Every man’s life is a fairy tale written by God’s fingers”
~ Hans Christian Andersen, 19th-Century Danish Author and Poet

childwithfairies

Now that our son is a toddler, and has a stronger personality and more of a sense of himself, I find that rhythm and, more specifically, little rituals are key to making him feel comfortable throughout the day, and to getting him to participate more peacefully with what needs to be done.

Whether it is lifting him up on his chair before a meal and letting him choose which pocket bib to wear, or going pee on the potty one more time right before his nap or, in this case, having a little song that I sing to him after putting out the light at night and before moving him from the change table to the crib.

Because he is a toddler, he occasionally refuses when other people try to sing. He goes through cycles where only he is allowed to sing, and in which he proclaims “All done, all done.” or “Only Torin sings!” when other people try to carry a tune. As someone who studied voice and who gets great comfort from the act of singing I find this a bit trying and certainly impolite, but I assume it to be a phase and am attempting to just work with it. On those nights, instead of singing goodnight to the fairies, we say it. It seems to do the trick and I always remind him that the fairies are our friends and we want to ask them to watch over our dreams before we fall asleep.

Waldorf education is about spirit and creativity, so I took the initiative to create our own sleep song, having tried a few standard ones that didn’t really inspire me or fit our family all that well.

I share it here in case you feel drawn to using it in your own rituals. (I can’t write music so I’ll add an MP3 later that lets you hear the tune.)

Good Night, Little Fairies

Good Night, Little Fairies
Good Night, Little Sprites
Good Night, Little Babies (or Children) Beneath the Moonlight

Good Night Little Pixies
And Gnomies Too
Good Night Little “Child’s Name
Your Mama (or Parents) Love You

Good Night, Little Fairies
Good Night, Little Sprites
Please Keep Us Safe
All Through The Night

Good Night Little Pixies
And Gnomies Too
I’ll (or We’ll) See You In the Morning
When Your Dreams Are All Through

Happy Dreaming, All.

“”The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.””
~ Thomas Edison, 19th-Century American Inventor

Tempeh Tinga

When I was in college and planning my first trip abroad I had my heart set on Northern Ireland. Maybe it was because my ancestors were Irish or because I was enthralled by the politics of the place or because I thought it would look cool on a resumé to have gone to Queen’s University. At any rate, I was half way through the process of applying to the program when my best friend, a great lover of Latin America, convinced me to go with her to Mexico instead.

She had lived in Latin America before, going there to learn Spanish and weaving, but I was really only swayed by the difference in cost. Plus, when going to live abroad for the first time, it is nice to travel with a friend. Of course I hadn’t considered the fact that in Ireland they speak English and in Mexico they don’t. Hmm.

To say that I experienced “culture shock” would be a mild understatement. I was horrendous to be around and no one, whether the Mexican students at my school or the Americans with whom I lived and hung out, could escape my wrath. The one shining light was food. Food and sunshine. I loved walking by myself in the Mexican sun. And my best friend loved to cook too. So that was our common ground.

She had learned lots of recipes during her previous trips in Latin America and taught me a few real gems. My favorite, by far, was Chicken Tinga. It’s a spicy little number made with shredded chicken and tortillas.

Years later I became a vegetarian and spent many long months without eating Tinga. Then I discovered tempeh, a match made in heaven. It has great texture, crumbles nicely and takes about any flavour you can throw at it. Hence, Tempeh Tinga was born. Perhaps not made for the cultural purists out there, but a tasty treat for any adventurous vegetarian tongue.

I hope you enjoy it!

    Tempeh Tinga
    Makes: Enough for 6 large burritos
    Prep Time: 20 minutes
    Cooking Time: 30-50 minutes

    Ingredients:
    Tempeh (3-4 patties, crumbled or sliced into chunks)
    Plum Tomatoes (4 Large)
    White Onion (Equal to Tomatoes)
    Cilantro (4 or 5 Sprigs)
    Garlic (2 or 3 Cloves Chopped)
    No-Chicken Broth (1 cup or less)
    Chipotle Peppers (1/2 Can or to Taste)
    Cooking Oil

    Optional:
    burrito wraps
    salsa
    cheese
    crema

    Directions:

    1. Crumble or slice the tempeh into chunks.
    2. Dice an equal amount of tomatoes and onions. Place them in separate bowls.
    3. In a saucepan, put 2 or 3 tablespoons of oil and heat it. Add the diced tomatoes to the oil and cook until soft. DO NOT allow the tomatoes to become liquid. Once softened, remove from heat and return to their bowl, leaving a bit of liquid behind in the pan.
    4. Add more oil to the pan and, once heated, cook onions. Heat until transparent. DO NOT brown or burn the onions. Once they become transparent you may add the previously softened tomatoes.
    5. Add tempeh and approximately half a can of chipotles, along with some of the liquid from their can. Leave some peppers whole and break up others. *The more you break up, the hotter the tinga.
    6. Use the No-Chicken broth, or tap water, to wet down mixture. About 1/2 a cup to 1 whole cup will do.
    8. Test the tinga for taste. If it is not spicy enough you may break up more of the peppers or add more. REMEMBER that as tinga sits it becomes hotter, keep this in mind when taste testing.
    9. Fry up some flour or corn tortillas. Place tinga on top with whatever you wish. Cheese and sweet cream or sour cream are very good with it. Enjoy!

Quichoa Veggie Bake

“Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you. ”
~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr., Author, Life’s Little Instruction Book

Quichoa Square

As a Mom to a toddler I am constantly looking for quick, healthy meals that I can make with minimal effort. They have to be something that will last at least 2-3 meals and they must be tasty to the little chief.

I have been trying to figure out how to get more quinoa and buckwheat into our lives, since they are so healthy and kind of cook themselves while you walk away and do other things. Quinoa has nearly 15% protein and is debatably the healthiest grain out there, but how to make it appealing to a toddler?

Well, we are lucky in that our son is a bit less picky than the average toddler. I attribute this to our use of baby led weaning as our method of feeding him from day one. But it is also the variety of tastes that he has been exposed to, including curries, sushi, sauerkraut, gourmet cheeses and such. Generally he will eat anything that has a good flavour and combination of spices. Grains, however, are not easy for him to hand-feed himself unless they are a part of something else.

Enter my new creation, quichoa. You take your basic quiche ingredients and give them a nutritional boost by adding ample amounts of quinoa. Voila! You’ve got a dish that can take any old, nearly spoiled veggies and cheese that you need to get out of your fridge and that can also be dumped in a pan and baked without fuss. It’s fast becoming a favorite in our home!

For this version I used some leftover onion, a sadly neglected tomato, a tiny bit of cauliflower and my last mushroom. There was also a bag of cheese curd that remained after a cheese fries snack that I made last month. Added some eggs and cooked quinoa to complete the bake. I cooked the Quichoa in a square pan so they ended up as a sort of Quichoa bar once they were cut.

What I adore about this particular recipe is the way that you can literally use anything you have on hand that needs using up. You can substitute fresh sage or basil for the dried herbs, you could use carrots and broccoli instead of tomatoes and mushroom, you can use tofu instead of cheese, etc. Heck, you could even make it into a fruity Quichoa, by replacing the salt and herbs with sugar and cinnamon and then adding apples, grapes, strawberries, cherries, kiwi, peaches, pineapple…whatever you have.

Papa was terribly astounded at the fantastic deliciousness that resulted simply by adding quinoa to eggs and veg. I was pretty chuffed too, since it was one of my anything but the kitchen sink, last-minute recipes. And the wee chief? Well, he liked it! He especially liked taking the squares of it in his little hands and eating them bite-by-bite like a big boy. :-) Having the quinoa embedded in eggs makes for much less mess as well.

Go on and try it. You know you want to!

    Quichoa Veggie Bake
    Makes: 6-12 servings
    Prep Time: 30 minutes
    Cooking Time: 35-45 minutes
    Cooking Temp: 325°F

    Ingredients:

    1/3 cup quinoa
    2/3 cup water
    1 tbsp nutritional yeast
    4 large eggs
    1/2 cup soy milk (or other milk)
    1 large tomato
    1 medium onion
    2-3 brown mushrooms
    1.5 cups chopped cauliflower
    1 cup crumbled or cubed cheese
    1 tbsp olive oil
    1.5 tsp provençal herbs
    pinch cayenne pepper
    salt
    pepper

    Tools:

    mesh collander
    saucepan & lid
    knife & cutting board
    frying pan
    mixing bowl
    8×8″ square cake pan OR
    a quiche pan

    Directions:

    1. Rinse quinoa and place in a pan with 2/3 cup water and 1 tbsp of nutritional yeast.

    2. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low.

    3. Cover and simmer until all water is absorbed.

    4. While quinoa is cooking, chop all vegetables. (I prefer diced.)

    5. Sauté vegetables in oil, briefly, just to soften them.

    6. Remove quinoa from heat.

    7. In a mixing bowl, scramble eggs with milk, herbs & spices.

    8. Slowly mix in the warm quinoa and veggies.

    9. Stir thoroughly and then add your cheese.

    10. Pour the entire mixture into a greased pan and cook on 325°F for 35-45 minutes.

    11. Remove from oven when the edges are slightly brown and the center stops being a bubbling, floppy mess.

    12. Cool for 10-15 minutes and serve with salad, soup or fruit.

First Birthday: Tractor Style

“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”
~ Oprah Winfrey, Actress and Media Mogul

Tractor Cake and Things

Little boys and big machines. It seems to be an innate attraction.

A little over a year ago we were blessed with our first child, a happy, healthy boy named Thoreau. As you might gather from his name, we hoped he would share our love of nature and the outdoors and maybe go in for some hiking & canoeing. Like all parents we took joy in watching him grow and blossom from a little fleshy doll into a thinking, feeling person. By his 8th month we were waiting hopefully for the big firsts: first tooth, first word, first step. Would he say “Mama” first or “Papa,” or “Cat”? Who would be the first to be anointed by his sweet voice?

The winner was none of us. It was the shiny, noisy green guy next door.

No, we don’t live next door to an alligator or any aliens. We live next door to a farm. Farms mean….TRACTORS! So it happened that “tac-tah, tac-tah” became Thoreau’s first words and his clarion call. Forget about Mamas and Cats and Cars and Milk, life for our little boy is about tractors, whether big, small, old or new, red or green. Tractors are the end all, be all of being alive and having eyes.

It was funny and amazing to both of his parents, the way that this tractor obsession developed. We live on a busy, rural road. By Thoreau’s 5th month he already loved being held by the front window so he could watch the cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles whizzing by. In fact, during his most fussy times, this was the best way to calm him. So he and Papa stood by the window, often for several hours, and watched and watched. As spring broke and the sun became warm, baby, Mama and Papa would go and lay under the beach umbrella on a blanket and Mama or Papa would say the words that corresponded to the vehicles as they passed by.

I was certain that one of his first words would be “car” since we said it so often and he loved them and it seems easy enough to say for a baby.

Thoreau on his 1st Birthday

The “tractor” thing was surprising, though not entirely, since Thoreau’s great-grandpa was a lifelong farmer and tractor enthusiast. Neither one of us parentals ever emphasized tractors though, they were just part of the mix going up and down our road. What was surprising, for Mama & Papa, was the way that Thoreau not only said tractor but completely conceptualized what a tractor is, looks like and does. A couple of weeks after he started saying it we happened to see a tractor drawing in a book and he jumped right at it and screamed “tactah, tactah.” How did he know that crude illustration was a tractor? Then a week later the same thing to a photograph of a tractor in some ad on Mama’s computer screen. And then in a country music video. Amazing! No one said, “Look it’s a tractor.” He just knew. Well, let’s just say that babies are magical. They are capable of much more thought and understanding than you may realize.

A few months later, as his first birthday was rolling around, Continue Reading »

Crémeux Soupe à la Tomate

“Grilled cheese and tomato soup is the ultimate comfort meal.”
~ Ina Garten, American Author, Barefoot Contessa TV host

Garden Fresh Tomatoes

Okay, I am not French, but I aspire. Hmm…how to make creamy tomato soup sound more enticing? Simple, make the recipe sound foreign. LOL.

But, in all seriousness, I am a child of the 80′s. I grew up on instant food. Originally it was mac-n-cheese and pot pies. My dad just cooked them as the box read, but my Mom at least added some nice things to make them more “adult.” Like chives in the mac-n-cheese.

By the time I was in high school I was cooking “instant” foods for myself. I had this one crazy comfort meal that I used to make on the days I was home alone and ruled the place. I liked to have several different bowls or plates with something different on them, so I would make one scrambled egg, half a grilled cheese sandwich, one bowl of corned beef hash and a huge bowl of tomato soup. Not all that vegetarian, I know, but who knows any better at 15? I used to add extra bits to all of it, little rosemary here, little dijon there, but the only thing to add to the soup was a pinch of onion salt and garlic powder. Hey, when Campbells’s gets something right, why mess with perfection?

Only problem is all the mystery junk-o-la that they put in their soups. Do they taste good? You bet they do, and Campbell’s mostly has MSG to thank for that. That’s something I never realized or even thought much about until I met a girl in college who was viciously allergic to MSG. One day she said she couldn’t eat any of Campbell’s soups and reminded me about her allergy. I was SO appalled. Do you mean to tell me that good old, hearty, homey, traditional, American, Campbell’s soup is made with MSG? Oh, for shame!

Today I was inspired to try and recreate that youthful comfort food in my own kitchen. The inspiration was a glut of tomatoes from our garden, most of which had seen better days.

You’ve got to get the skins off the tomatoes if you want to do it justice. So this recipe has a bit of extra labour involved, but not to worry, it ain’t too difficult. Besides, creamy tomato soup, minus all the baddies, is totally worth it. Right?

    Crémeux Soupe à la Tomate
    Makes: 6 or more bowls
    Prep Time: 20-30 minutes
    Cooking Time: 40-45 minutes

    Ingredients:
    15 large Tomatoes
    2 cans of Chunk Tomatoes
    1 large Onion (roughly chopped)
    1 stalk Celery (sliced thin)
    3 cloves Garlic (roughly chopped)
    6-10 leaves of fresh Basil
    6 tbs Butter
    2 tbs Flour or Corn Starch
    3 cups Soy (or other) Milk
    2 cups Vegetable or no-Chicken Broth
    1 tbsp onion salt
    .5 tsp garlic powder
    .5 tsp pepper
    .5 tsp thyme
    .25 tsp rosemary powdered
    pinch of cayenne
    pinch of ginger
    salt (to taste)

    * optional: 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

    Tools:
    large stock pot
    blender
    slotted spoon
    large bowl or pot of cold water
    empty mixing bowl
    cup of luke warm water

    Directions:

    1. Fill stock pot with water and bring to a boil.

    2. Using the slotted spoon, gently place fresh tomatoes into the boiling water and boil for 2-4 minutes, removing each tomato when you see a split in it’s skin.

    3. Place boiling tomatoes into the bowl of cold water to cool them. You may need to replace the water once or twice with cold water before the tomatoes are able to be handled.

    4. When tomatoes are cool, squeeze them individually with your hands to remove the skin, either squeeze or cut out the top, hard portion of each tomato (where the stem connects) and then place the rest of the tomato into your empty bowl.

    5. Once all tomatoes have been hand-processed, place them into the pot you will be using to make your soup.

    6. Roughly chop onions & garlic. Sauté until softened a bit and add them to the soup pot.

    7. Add celery, basil, butter, milk, broth and spices to the soup pot.

    8. Simmer for 30 minutes on medium heat.

    9. Remove from heat and blend until smooth.

    10. Dissolve flour in a small cup of luke warm water and then add to soup.

    11. Stir and simmer on low for 10-15 more minutes.

    12. Taste your soup and feel free to tweak the spices or flour content to get your preferred taste and consistency.

    13. Serve with sandwiches, salad or crusty bread. Yum!

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