This is always a hit with the kids. They eat it as finger food, and there are never any leftovers. Cooked 45 minutes, you get firm sticks. Baked longer — as long as 90 minutes — and they get almost crunchy on the outside… but are harder to chew. (I can’t survive in a kitchen without my timer, obviously. Good thing this wasn’t a full-on disaster!)
Block of firm or extra-firm tofu, cut into 2 dozen sticks.
2 T lemon juice
2 T mirin, or rice vinegar, or rice wine vinegar
2 T soy sauce
2 T oil
1 t sesame oil
1 T maple syrup
1 T minced fresh ginger*
2 cloves garlic, minced
1. Press tofu for at least 30 minutes. (This removes some moisture and makes it absorb the marinade better, but can be skipped. We pressed it. The kids thought squashing the tofu was pretty funny.)
2. Mix all ingredients but tofu.
3. Arrange tofu sticks in a 9 x 13 pan. Pour the marinade over. Let sit for at least an hour (and up to overnight), turning once.
3. Bake in the marinade at 375F for about 45 minutes, till liquid is absorbed.
Can be eaten hot or cold. It’s also nice diced into small cubes and used as high-protein ‘croutons’ in a salad.
*Ginger: Rather than mincing, which is tedious, I prefer to freeze my ginger (scrubbed, but with the skins on). I put smallish pieces (bigger than a cherry, smaller than a walnut) in a ziploc bag in the freezer. When I need some minced ginger, I take a frozen knob, and grate it on a fine grater, skins and all. Perfect!
Hannah did a meme from the Daily Mail. I decided I would do it, too. Memes are so eeeeeasy, and this one was sort of interesting, and, like Hannah, I miss memes.
I take issue with some of these, and there are others that belong on a ‘living life’ list, that aren’t here, but here are my responses to the list as provided.
1. Stop worrying about money.
I love Hannah’s quote on this one. It’s easier not to worry about the stuff when you’ve got lots. While I agree that lots of people worry too much about not having enough when really what they need to do is exercise a little self-discipline and stop spending so damned much, it’s too easy for someone with more to tell someone with less not to worry.
I worry about it as much as is responsible, and act accordingly … so I don’t need to keep worrying. Seems a reasonable balance.
2. Stop worrying about what other people think.
For the most part, I stopped worrying about what other people think in my mid-twenties. I did love Hannah’s caveat, though, that “the social contract falls apart pretty quickly if you never consider how other people are reacting to you.” Absolutely!
3. Take two holidays a year.
I’d worry about money a whole lot more if I did that… However, if by ‘holiday’ you mean ‘time off’ as opposed to ‘travel someplace new’, I do that. I just don’t have the money to go anywhere.
4. Enjoy little comforts in life.
Ooooh, this I do! Every morning when I walk the dogs, I come to the hill overlooking the river and feel a great wash of gratitude and appreciation for the beauty. Every.Single.Morning. It never gets old. I love the sound of rain. Mozart and Etta James. Walking. I love my tea mug with the bright red flowers. That first cup of tea in the morning. Sunrises. I love the smell of almonds. Being alone. My down-filled pillow. Baby laughs. Giving myself pedicures. Nail polish. Singing. Flirting. My dogs. Summer dresses. Stockings. (Not panty hose. Stockings.) Windy days. Laughing. The list goes on and on and on and ooooonnnnn…
5. Experience different cultures.
Experience, as in live there? I’d love to! I did spend a month in England, years ago. Experience, as in read their literature, listen to the music, eat the food? Whenever I can!
6. Work to live rather than live to work.
7. Pay off all debts.
That’s top of our marital to-do list. Last year it was impossible, in any meaningful sense. This year it becomes so, and we have begun. It will be a several-years-long process, but I am very excited about this! I hate, hate, hate being in debt.
8. Be true to yourself.
Harder than you might think, but yes, I am.
9. Concentrate on what you have instead of what you don’t have.
It’s a life’s credo of mine. Yes.
10. Use money on experiences rather than saving for a rainy day.
Oh, that’s just dumb. Be the grasshopper, not the ant? So the choice is between being a miser in a cold, dark castle with dusty piles of unused gold, or being free and happy and living life to the full in the moment? Surely you can do a bit of both? Even more: Surely lots and lots of “experience” can be had for free? And if you really can’t have both, are you so very sure that your memories of all your experiences will keep you warm and fed when you’re old and poor?
11. Make time for family and friends.
I could do better.
12. Try all types of food.
Yup. I like food.
13. Find true love.
Done. Had a false start, but got there in the end!
14. Travel to at least 25 different foreign countries
HA! This meme originates in England. This is MUCH easier when you live in Europe, where you can freaking walk into four adjacent countries… (Or, if you’re in England, a 20-minute plane ride will do it.) But yes, it’s a lovely goal, and maybe one I’ll achieve when I retire.
15. Go outside more.
I could do more in the winter, I guess… But I doubt I will. I make up for it in the summer, when I’m outside hours every day. Yay, summer!!!
16. Learn a new language
Always wanted to. When. When??
17. Be well thought of by family and friends.
This one’s silly. First: How can this be on your list, if you’re not worried what people think of you (cf #2, above)? Second: If your friends don’t think well of you, they’re not friends, are they? Third: You have no control over what people think of you. You may be perfectly lovely, and some rotten person despises you anyway. Nuttin’ you can do about that. This doesn’t belong on the list.
18. Help a member of your family out when they really need it
Yes, though I did better at this when I was younger. Perhaps it’s just that when I started having kids of my own, ‘family’ got redefined a bit. I could do better here.
19. Lose a stone in weight.
Done. A stone is 14 pounds. I lost about thirty pounds five years ago, and it’s still off. Of course, this assumes you have that much to lose. Lots of people don’t!
20. Treat each day like it’s your last.
Hannah’s answer to this made me laugh out loud. I’ve always wondered what people mean when they say this. However, do I appreciate my life? Damned straight I do. Every day. Would I appreciate it with an even more fervent attention if I knew its duration was severely limited? Of course, but that doesn’t mean I’m wasting it now.
21. Visit all of Britain’s historical landmarks
I’ll go with Hannah’s response to this: Because I’m Canadian, I’d like to change this to “visit every province and territory in Canada”. I have always wanted to do this. So far I’ve been to BC, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. That’s a lotta country unvisited!!
22. Book an impulsive last minute holiday.
Oh, maybe a weekend getaway that we could drive to. Anything bigger than that would give me a panic attack. Besides, on whose money? Booking a pricy last-minute getaway would have me worrying about money, and, as per point #1, above, I’m not supposed to be doing that…
23. Volunteer for a good cause.
I do this intermittently, but would like to be more consistent. Fitting it in is the challenge, though I am playing with the idea of taking the tots to visit a neighbourhood senior centre once a week. An outing and a good cause, at once.
24. Take up a challenge.
I’ve just joined a gym. Right now raising my arms above my shoulders is a challenge. Does that count? Losing those 30 pounds was a challenge, too. Three medication-free births, another challenge. I like challenges. My favourite type are the ones I set for myself. I don’t generally like competing with others.
25. Go on safari.
I dunno. This is only one of the dozens of possible travel ideas I’ve had, and far from top of the list. Maybe one day.
26. Blow a load of money in one shopping trip, just because you can
What, what? WHY, now? “Just because I can” is a stupid, stupid reason to blow a load of money. If I really want, and/or really need, and really love what I’m buying, the money’s well spent, but “just because I can“?? Just because I can?!? Whoever wrote this list has some gawdawful stupid ideas about money.
27. Learn a new instrument.
I play the piano. I have played the oboe. Another instrument would be fun, but squeezing in the time is the challenge. I took fiddle lessons briefly a few years back, didn’t really enjoy it.
28. Be married for longer than 20 years
I was married for 13 years to the first guy, and am approaching 6 with the second. That’s 19. Does that count?? Seriously, wonderful husband and I have been together for 16 years, so by my reckoning we’re closing in on 20. (It took me that long to get over the trauma of my first marriage and be willing to try that again. It was well worth the wait!)
29. Have enough money left for the grandchildren to enjoy
Meh. I’ll enjoy my grandchildren while I’m alive. They can fend for themselves in life after I’m gone, just like I did when my grandparents died. I never expected my grandparents to set me up. Odd notion.
30. Start a family.
Done. Well past started. I have a grand-daughter, and look forward to more grandchildren in the coming years.
31. Earn more than your age
None of your business. I’ll talk about my sex life more openly than I’ll talk about how much I earn.
32. Have a pet.
At the moment, two dogs. But over the years, we’ve had dozens: dogs, cats, guinea pigs (love those things), hamsters, gerbils, a rabbit, rats (don’t love those things). Lots of pets.
33. Drive a really fast car
Yes. Though I drove it slowly. Well, speed-limitly. It wasn’t mine.
34. Travel alone
35. Be able to keep the kids on the straight and narrow
As far as it was up to me. Now it’s up to them!
36. Meet strangers
Yes. I rather enjoy chatting with strangers. That’s one of the perks of travel, and of living in a travel-destination city. (I like chatting with obvious tourists. Fun!)
37. Move away from home to an unfamiliar place
Yes. Moved from tiny village to mid-sized city for university, and a different mid-sized city for teacher’s college. Then to large city after university. Then to a different country, where my eldest was born, then back to the large city. Now in a different large city. All except the out-of-country move were within the same province.
38. Have a one night stand
Yup. It was fun and no regrets, but no need to do that again.
39. Pass your driving test.
Done. First try. Of course, I was 34 at the time…
40. Get a degree.
Done. Twice. Two bachelor’s. Would love to go for my Master’s some day.
41. Rescue someone so that you’re a hero for a little while.
Yes. I gave a home to a teen who was in bad home situations and needed a safe place. Sat beside her hospital bed all night after a suicide attempt, too. She’s in university now and doing well.
42. Date someone exciting but completely wrong for you
What a moronic idea. You know he’s wrong, so you know it won’t last, but, just so you can cross it off your Life Experience List you involve yourself with him. And if he then genuinely cares for you, then what? “Oh, sorry guy. This was just, you know, for the experience!!!” You don’t play with other people like that. Jeez.
43. Get a promotion.
Kinda hard, if you’re self-employed. (Was it a promotion to go from being a mom for free to being a mom for pay???)
44. Reach the desired career peak by age 40
Whatever the hell that means. I guess if you’re self-employed, you can decide for yourself if that’s happened. Therefore yes, I did reach my peak! (Over ten years ago. Jeez, that’s just sad. Wait, no! No, I did not! No peaking yet!)
45. Have an all-night drinking session.
Ugh. No. Never have, never want to. Can only imagine how sick, sick, sick that would make you. What could possibly make that kind of sick worthwhile? Ugh.
46. Perform something on stage in front of others
I was in the high school band. I was in Sunday School. I joined the high school drama club briefly. Lots of stage time for me.
47. Snog a stranger.
This is included under “one night stand”, above.
48. Plan a surprise party.
For my son’s 18th birthday. Fun! Also for myself, at age 29. One day I’ll tell you that story, maybe.
49. Embark on adrenaline-packed activities such as sky diving or bungee jumping
God, no. I feel the same way about this as I do about all-night drinking sessions. Blurgh.
50. Spend time with children even if they aren’t yours.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA… Who in their right mind would want to do that??
We’ve been having a lot of fun with lunches these past three months or so. It started with my experiment — a huge success! — then was enriched by a book I read (more on that in another post), and has now become a highlight of my day.
A meal with five toddlers, a highlight? Yes, indeed.
Way back at the end of January, I re-jigged our food schedule. No more snacking at Mary’s! (Now, I’d have kept up the afternoon snack had the children not already been getting snacks on the way home from daycare. With them getting a snack from their parents already, there was no need for me to be giving them one as well.)
So we were eating less frequently. Lunch became a bigger deal. For starters, it now has three courses: a vegetable starter, the main course, and dessert. (Dessert being the snack they would have been given in the mornings.)
But, in keeping with the ideas in the book I’d been reading, I decided to make lunch more of an event in terms of attitude. So now, when we sit down to lunch, the children all in their chairs, I bring out the first course on a tray. I use pretty serving dishes.
They sit in eager expectation as each child’s food is served. The first portion is a ‘taster’, which they are required to eat. It varies in size depending on the age of the child, but that is the portion they are required to eat. The older children know to wait until everyone has been served before they begin to eat. The 20-month-olds, who don’t get the whole ‘wait for everyone’ thing, are given their bowls last.
We made a game of waiting, at first. I still do it sometimes. “No eating until Mary’s ready to eat, too! Is my bum in the chair?” And they’d all peer at my bum. I stand while I dish the food out. Then I’d begin to sit. Sloooowly. They’d wait, giggling, spoons at the ready. I’d slowly, slowly, slowly lower my butt (good for the thighs, this is!), and then, just before sitting would be accomplished … POP up with a jump! Giggle, giggle, giggle.
It made them pay attention, it got the point across. It was fun.
It was so much fun that they took the practice home. Jazz’s family was having a picnic on their living room floor one evening, and Jazz wouldn’t let anyone eat until she sat down. “Where’s my bum??” she asked. No one could eat till Jazz’s tiny butt was on the blanket. Which was kind of missing the point, really, since Jazz wasn’t serving the food. Still everyone had fun, and the point was made that we start eating together.
Daniel’s mother was thrilled to report to me that Daniel had instituted the practice with his grandparents, her in-laws. Daniel’s mother was accustomed to a meal beginning only when everyone had been served, but at her in-laws’ place, everyone begins as soon as the foot hits their plate, and so, by the time the last person gets their food, the first person is done! “That’s not even friendly!” she wailed.
But now, see, with their adored grandson declaring, “No! We don’t eat till Nana sits down!!”, the family is now eating together, and mom is delighted.
Gee. Now I’m providing family counselling along with the meals!
We sit down together, and then I pour water into each of their cups. For a festive touch, my water is in a wine glass. We tap our glasses around the table. “Cheers!” The children love this. LOVE.IT. I never forget this, for if it looks like I’m about to, a chorus of small voices pipe up. “Mary! We didn’t do ‘cheers!’” That can never be!
I love this. Toddlers earnestly clinking cups and sippy-cups around the table is freakin’ adorable, people! Little Rosie, who always sits on my left, is a highly enthusiastic cheers-er, and I’ve learned to keep a solid grip on my wine glass when her cup rockets towards mine.
So we ‘do cheers’, and then we hold our cups up, salute the others around the table, and chorus together, “Have a good lu-unch!”
And then, and only then, do we commence to eating.
Each child is given an initial ‘taster helping’. The older children (2.5 and up) are expected to actually ingest this. They don’t have to like it, but they do have to chew and swallow. It will be small: anywhere from one bite to four or so. The younger children don’t even have to ingest it. They’ll get one mouthful of whatever it is, and as long as it goes in the mouth, that’s sufficient, even if it comes straight back out. Sometimes, for the very youngest, it’s sufficient that they play with it a bit.
The expectation, you see, is that they probably won’t like a lot of things the first try. Or the second. So when a child says “I don’t like this”, I don’t apologize and remove it from her plate and hunt around for an alternate. I simply say, “That’s because you haven’t tried it enough yet.” I’ve explained how at first your tummy and tongue might see a new food and go, “YUK!” But then, you’ll try it again, and they’ll say, “Well, maayyybeeee.” And after a few more tries, your tummy and tongue say, “YUM! I LOVE this stuff!!!” All this illustrated with dramatic facial expressions, from disgust to utter delight.
Because tummies and tongues, they can be a bit slow on the uptake. But they get there!! We can now point out to examples of this: Jazz likes kiwi now; baby Josh now eats beets. The first time Josh encountered a beet, he wouldn’t even look at it. Seriously. Closed his eyes and turned his head away. Sometime over a couple of months, through frequent exposure and familiarization, he began to try it, and now? Now he eats them without any hesitation at all. Two and three helpings.
They’ve seen this happen. They believe it will happen for them.
“I don’t like this” is no longer an end-point. It is merely an expected passage on the journey to loving it.
Not that is not to say all is completely sunshine and roses. Only yesterday Jazz, the pickiest of the crew, had an almighty hard time swallowing her taster portion of salad. Seems she has a terrible time with arugula. Poor kid sat chewing and chewing and chewing and chewing, but just couldn’t make herself swallow. But you know? Because was genuinely trying, I had sympathy. Arugula is pretty peppery stuff, and a lot of toddlers have texture issues with leafy greens. But the taster isn’t optional. If you don’t finish that, your meal stops there. At four, Jazz is expected to stay at the table and keep us cheerful company, but meals proceed in sequence. Don’t finish part A, no moving to part B. But she persisted, and some sips of water, along with the potential reward of some dried cranberries (also in the salad), eventually sufficed to git ‘er down.
“I did it!” she said, with shining eyes, cramming those cranberries in.
“So you did, sweetie. It was hard work, but you did it.”
“And soon my tummy and my tongue will learn to like agooroola!”
That? Is pretty damned sweet.
1. Paint a child’s palm with tempera paint.
2. Press palm into glass several times, until all paint is gone.
3. Wash hand.
4. I you feel particularly creative, you can add grass.
Voila! Instant spring flower garden!
First course: chef salad
Main course: stuffed peppers
Dessert: apricot oatmeal muffins
First course: Indian-style cauliflower
Main course: ginger-baked tofu
First course: cucumber salad
Main course: felafels in pita with yogurt sauce
Dessert: home made applesauce
First course: mixed cooked veg with peanut sauce
Main course: Spinach pie
Dessert: apricot muffins
First course: raw veggies and dip
Main course: baked pasta with spinach and chevre sauce