It’s Not All Mary Poppins


Somewhat belatedly, here’s the ratatouille recipe someone asked for!! Mine comes from one of The Green Door cookbooks, The Green Door being a local (and excellent) vegetarian restaurant.

1 large eggplant
4 – 5 zucchini
Cut the eggplant into cubes, slice the zucchini, toss with about a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of oil, and bake at 350F for about 30 minutes. (The eggplant may need an extra 15 minutes.) While these are roasting, prepare the rest of the vegetables:

3 cups sliced onions (I just cut mine in eighths)
1 clove garlic, minced (I usually put in about three cloves. I like garlic.)
1 large can (798 mL; about 3 cups) diced tomatoes
1 sweet red pepper, large dice
1 green pepper, large dice
1 cup chopped fresh parsley (I often skip this. It’s a pain to clean and it gets stuck between my teeth…)
1/4 cup fresh basil (or 1 tablespoon dried) — I never skip this. Nom, basil!
1 Tablespoon soya sauce

Heat about 2 Tablespoons oil in a large sautee pan or wok.

Add onions. Cook 5 – 7 minutes on medium-high
Add garlic and tomatoes, another 5 minutes
Add eggplant, zucchini, basil and parsley, 5 minutes.
Toss in the peppers and soy sauce to heat through.

Serve hot.

This keeps well, and reheats well. I’ll make a batch for myself on the weekend, and have it for lunches throughout the week. (Yes, I eat with the children, but sometimes what I really want is a big bowl of ratatouille, so I take a token amount of their lunch, and the bulk of it is this. Mmmmm. I will even share. It’s terrific served with shredded cheese over top, too.)

But really, ratatouille is one of those great empty-the-fridge dishes. I always put in the roasted eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and onions, because, to me, those are foundational to the taste I so enjoy. Even the garlic and basil, which I love, are optional to me, though I rarely skip them. But pretty much everything can be played with, depending on your taste. Skip the peppers if you don’t have any, and add leftover steamed cauliflower. Put in the parsley or don’t. Use oregano instead of basil if you prefer. Search out your wilty vegetables and toss them in. It’s very forgiving, and very flexible.

December 13, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 2 Comments

Baking, baking

If you’re upset there’s no post today, you may all blame Hannah, but before you get upset, pop over and check out her new venture.

We were all excited to try out this week’s recipe, but first we had to go to the grocery store for bananas. Then we had to come home and bake, them! Now we are all feeling too fat’n’satisfied to do much of anything except smile at each other and burp gently.

Check it out!



October 16, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment

Black bean soup

3 cups cooked black beans
2 cups vegetable stock
325 mL tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon each: thyme, cumin, oregano
freshly ground pepper to taste
12 drops hot sauce
(2 teaspoons lemon juice)

1. Dump everything except lemon juice in medium-large pot. Bring to boil over medium heat.

2. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes.

3. Discard bay leaf, and stir in lemon juice. Puree with immersion blender.


Optional: garnish each bowl with a dollop of plain yogurt and a thin slice of lemon.

May 14, 2012 Posted by | food, health and safety | , , , | 5 Comments

Meatloaf Recipe

Meatloaf is a fabulous use-up-the-leftovers recipe. My meatloaf has five (sometimes six) components:

1. 500 g (a generous pound) of ground meat. Doesn’t matter what kind at all. Can be a mixture of types.

2. About a cup of grated or finely chopped vegetables. Doesn’t matter what kind at all.

3. About a cup of starch — rice, oatmeal, bread crumbs, crumbled stale bread, or a mix of everything. Doesn’t matter at all.

4. Two eggs

5. Spaghetti sauce (or sometimes crushed tomatoes, or sometimes salsa, doesn’t matter at all.)

(6. Grated cheese.)

There are a couple of ways to assemble this. The easy way:

Glop it all in a bowl and thoroughly moosh it all together with your hands. Hands work better than a spoon. Drop it into an ungreased loaf pan, smear a couple of tablespoons of spaghetti sauce over top. Cover pan with foil and bake at 350 for an hour. You can remove the foil for the last 15 minutes to crisp up the top a bit if you like.

The pretty way:

1. Combine meat, eggs, and starch.

2. Layer half the meat mixture in the pan. Cover with the veggies, a sprinkling of grated cheese, and a dollop of spaghetti sauce. Top with remaining meat mixture, then smear on the sauce and maybe another sprinkle of cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for an hour. Remove foil for the last 15 minutes to crisp up the top if you like.

This week’s meatloaf used up a cup of leftover Cuban black beans and rice (the starch), and a cup of leftover beet-and-carrot salad (the veggies).

Nom. Comfort food.

April 17, 2012 Posted by | food | , , | 1 Comment

Bread and water

The children at MaryP’s can credit Stephanie, the Crockpot Lady, for their interesting and nutritious meals. Really. A couple of years ago, and for many years prior to that, I’d have told anyone who asked that I didn’t like cooking. It was tedious, it was boring. Necessary, but boring.

And then I stumbled across this blog. No, wait! She came to me! The lovely Mir had shared with Stephanie a recipe I had shared with her, and Stephanie adapted and used it. (And I got 400 extra hits that day!!!)

Crockpotting (is that a verb?) suited me to a tee. I am a morning person. Being able to have dinner prepared before the first child arrived was PERFECT for me, just perfect! I was combing her site every day, trying out new crockpot recipes several times a week. (Because, even though I know Stephanie did it, you really can’t eat crockpot every night of the week.)

But then I needed other things to fill in the non-crockpot nights, too, so I started hunting other recipe sites, dusting off my recipe books. We were trying out a new recipe every night of the week! And I was having fun!

The upshot is that the daycare tots (and my own lovely family) are now eating better than they ever have: quinoa-stuffed squash, chicken jamabalaya, butter chicken, lentil curry… When we have mac and cheese, it’s home-made.

But of course, reality doesn’t always cooperate, and sometimes even the most enthusiastic cook…

We had a busy morning yesterday: a trip to the park followed by a craft which turned out to be more time-consuming than I expected. Then, when I went to the fridge for our lunch — (planned) leftover black bean felafels from my family’s dinner the night before — I discovered that someone had raided the fridge sometime after dinner. No felafels!

What to do? The kids were already sitting at the table and they were HUNGRY! I need something quick and easy to feed the starving hordes. I scan the shelves, see the solution. And wince. I don’t even know why that stuff is in our fridge. I make a compromise with reality.

“Here, guys. Baloney sandwiches. It’s not fancy, but it’s fast!”

Of course, everyone is wildly enthused by such a rare and exotic treat (my word would be ‘toxic’, but oh, well).

“That’s okay, Mary,” Emily assures me. “I like sandwiches! Last night I had butter sandwiches for dinner!”

This interests William. “You ate butter for dinner? Yummy!”

“Uh-huh, and the day before, I had hamburger salami!”

“Oh, I LOVE hamburger salami!!!”

Hamburger salami? No idea what that might be — which puts me in good company: Emily’s mummy had no idea either.

Maybe I’ve found another recipe to search out??

October 7, 2009 Posted by | Emily, food | , , | 4 Comments

Dipping sticks

Nothing rude, just what we had for lunch today! First off, they each received about a half cup of cucumber and orange pepper slices. When those were done (never put the rest of the meal on the table until the vegetables have been ingested; very motivating), I brought out the main course:

Dipping Sticks.

It occurred to me as I served it that this would be another good entry in the Quick-and-Healthy toddler food sweeps. (Recall that I’m hoping for lots of good, healthy recipes for small children?)

I’ve long said that kids will eat styrofoam if they’re allowed to dip it, and today’s lunch proved the point. Because Dipping Sticks? Really? They’re firm tofu, cut into fingers and deep-fried in an inch or two of oil, lifted out with a slotted spoon, cooled for a minute or two on paper towels, then served with … this is the important part … a tablespoon of plum sauce each for dipping.

They devour them, and ask for more! Of course, deep-fried anything is just about the very least healthy way to serve it, but I do use olive oil, and I do blot them thoroughly before serving — and it’s tofu!

And why do I not call them that, instead of with the cutesy euphemism? Because some of them are convinced that they DO NOT LIKE TOFU. If I call them tofu sticks, it would be a struggle to get them to eat it. Call them Dipping Sticks, though, and they vanish in the burp of a toddler.


August 1, 2008 Posted by | food | , , , , | 6 Comments

Ooohhh, so gross!

So very, unutterably, inexpressibly vile. But if you have a child (particularly a boy) aged, oh, 8 and up (and on through 12, 15, 19 — some probably never outgrow the thrill), he’ll probably LOVE it if you were to serve this little gem at his Hallowe’en party …


Extra mommy points if you can serve it without gagging. I could see myself serving it to a room full of thrilled-to-be-grossed-out little boys (and girls. I know a few who’d LOVE this). I could even see myself laughing as I did so. However, I don’t care HOW many mommy points would be in it for me, I am not biting into that thing.


October 10, 2007 Posted by | crafts, eeewww, holidays | , , | 16 Comments