Ovaltine, Ovomaltine

Did you know that Ovaltine was developed in Switzerland and its original name was ovaltine1924frenchad1Ovomaltine?  Nope, neither did I! In my youth I drank Ovaltine daily. As I grew older, the pull of caffeine got stronger and coffee and tea took its place.   After a recent panic attack where I lamented my aging body and worried that my bones were fast disintegrating, I embarked on a mission to get more calcium into my daily diet.

I have never found much joy in drinking a glass of plain milk, and there are only so many yogurts one person can eat in a day.  So I trawled the supermarket shelves to find something that would entice me to drink more milk and then I saw it: Ovaltine.  I had completely forgotten that it existed! And not only did I remember that Ovaltine delicious, but one glance at the nutrition label reminded me that it is pretty nutritious too: lots of vitamins and importantly, lots of calcium.

Then my mind started whirring, what else could I do with the GIANT container of Ovaltine I had just bought? Well, it turns out that with a little bit of imagination and a few google searches, you can doovaltine-vitamins much more than just add this to milk.  First of all, Ovaltine chocolate chip cookies.   Possibly the best cookies I have made in a while and gobbled up in record speed.  As well as serving my family members a glass of milk with a scoop of Ovaltine at any given moment, I also added a scoop to my daily oatmeal (ovalmeal), and sprinkled it on top of ice cream.  Other places where Ovaltine can, and should, be added: brownies, pudding, frosting, milkshakes.  The list goes on.

In conclusion, Ovaltine is delicious, add it to everything.  Also, re-discover something you used to love as a child.  And this post was not sponsored by Ovaltine.  Sadly.


Mom life

The problem with being a mother and trying to write a blog at the same time is that mom life too often gets in the way of blog life.  Between making lunches, “helping” busy-momwith homework, and schlepping the little darlings from one after-school activity to another, not much time is left to sit/write/breathe/insert anything that is just for me, *here*.  However, my 2017 “intention” (because we are supposed to say “intention” now instead of “resolution”, lest we “fail” and feel “bad”) is to spend more time on me.  And more time on me means more time doing what I love: running, writing, and cooking.  Not necessarily in that order.

I recently acquired a copy of the cookbook “Run Fast. Eat Slow”  by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky, and I must say, I was pleasantly surprised. I am so used to athlete-focused cookbooks being filled with protein powders and other strange items that I refuse to buy, let alone feed to my kids, that this was a welcome change.   From the “Superhero Muffins”  packed full of carrots and zucchini (and in my case, chocolate chips), to the amazing bison meatball recipe, there’s something for everyone, runners and non-runners alike.

I am similarly obsessed with Mark Bittman’s latest tome, “How to Bake Everything“. I have always been a big Bittman fan, and this book does not disappoint.  By far, the best feature of HTBE are the notes beneath almost every recipe containing customization tips.  Want to make the recipe vegan? gluten free? vegetarian?  You can do that.  Out of apples and need to use pears, instead?  You can do that too.

And finally, I am beyond excited to treat myself to a copy of Dorie Greenspan’s delectable new book, Dorie’s Cookies.  Thrifty me considered taking pictures of the recipes I wanted to make when I was perusing this in my local bookstore, but there were so many I didn’t have space on my phone! Stay tuned.


What’s old is new again

I’m not sure whether it was when I served carrot soup for the second time in three leftoverdays, or when I pulled my homemade blue cheese dressing out of the fridge and placed it on the dinner table for the fourth day in row, that it occurred to me I’m getting really good at re-purposing leftover food. Before I had children, I would turn my nose up at eating leftovers. It was something “beneath me” and something that would be done only in an extremely rare situation (i.e. if it was pizza). These days, I am the polar opposite. I hate wasting food and I’m always looking for ways to use up every last scrap. However, I am still not interested in eating the same thing day after day, and so I have developed some tricks and tactics to help.

Mark Bittman’s chickpea and carrot soup  is one of my favorite pureed soup recipes. It is relatively quick, easy, healthy, and my whole family loves it. On day one, I topped the soup with parsley and yogurt and served it with this (surprisingly delicious) recipe from Food Network Magazine: Strombroli-poly, as it will now be called, has achieved a coveted spot in our dinner rotation. The second time we had the soup, I topped it with yogurt, cilantro and homemade croutons and it tasted entirely different from day one. I served it alongside a green salad, topped with chicken tossed in buffalo sauce with blue cheese dressing. It is amazing how small changes, such as a different herb, different toppings, and a brand new side, can transform a meal.

No food wasteHomemade blue cheese dressing is a staple in our house. I simply mix together good blue cheese, yogurt, lemon, milk, and salt and pepper and let it sit. To begin with, I was skeptical that the strong blue cheese flavor would complement many meals, but I soon learned that I was wrong. Day one: buffalo chicken salad with bc dressing, and a side of soup (see above). Day two: tofu spinach burgers, topped with bc dressing.  I dialed back the Asian flavors in the burger recipe a little so as not to clash with the strong blue cheese. Day three: potato and sweet potato wedges, with a side of dressing to dip into. Day four: blue cheese dressing, placed in a bowl in the middle of our dinner table to accompany whatever meal we were having that night.  Because apparently now we can’t eat a meal without it!

With a little bit of imagination and creativity, leftovers can be new again.  Simply by adding a new herb, or a different accompaniment, I can still look forward to dinner even when we’ve had it before.  And if all else fails, just throw the leftovers in a tortilla and call it good.

Blizzards and oreos in everything

I am a little sheepish to be writing my second post in a row about DQ blizzards and new oreos. It appears that I have nothing else exciting going on in my life right now! For theRed velvet second installment in my personal “I will try every flavor Blizzard of the Month in 2016 challenge”, as expected and dreaded, I had to eat a red velvet blizzard. This will now also be known as, the most boring blizzard ever. In fact, it was so dull and boring that I didn’t hate it. Not being a fan of red velvet cake OR cream cheese, I was not looking forward to this month and purchased a mini blizzard, rather than my usual small.  If I had eaten this blizzard with my eyes closed, I would think I was eating vanilla soft serve with something mushy in it. It needed chocolate chips or sprinkles or SOMETHING for texture and/or flavor. Therefore, a giant thumbs down to the boring red velvet blizzard.  I am hoping that the March BofM will be inspired by St. Patrick’s Day and will therefore be minty.  I do love my mint!

Last week was one of those weeks that was packed full of mundane tasks: house cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry, etc. The one bright spark in my otherwise blah week was when I stumbled across a new, very confusing, limited edition flavor of oreos: filled cupcake chocolate flavor. I stared, puzzled at the packaging, trying to figure out what that Chocolate cupcake oreomeant.  So of course, I had to buy a package to investigate. As you can see from the picture (left), these oreos contain chocolate cream with a weird splodge (splodge, is that a word?) of vanilla cream in the middle of the chocolate. They taste nice, but I am not entirely sure I see the point.  As with all these limited edition oreos, I will buy these just once and then wait around for the next new flavor. Whatever that may be.

I have David Lebovitz to thank for this. And DQ.

Well, apparently all it takes is a summer full of kids and fun to scupper my attempts at writing a consistent blog, Summer funnot to mention the period of catch-up that comes when the aforementioned children return to their educational and after-school activities. It is all thanks to David Lebovitz’s wonderfully simple recipe for Ballymaloe Irish Brown Bread that I felt compelled to relight my blogging flame in order to recommend this fantastic bread. Easy to make, yet way tastier than the sum of its parts, I served this hearty loaf alongside a simple split pea soup and my family devoured it all. I did not even make use of the authentic Irish ingredients that David recommends; I can only imagine how much tastier this will be when I do.

So what else has been happening? Nothing too out of the ordinary: cooking, ruBob's red millnning, working, rinse, repeat. I switched up my daily bowl of oatmeal for a daily bowl of 5 grain rolled cereal.  I am enjoying the variation in grains and am happy to be out of my oatmeal rut. Different, but not THAT different, carefully does it! I plan on blogging consistently, now that I have my ducks back in a row (it only took 6 months). In order to make my life a little more exciting and to give myself a reason to keep returning to this blog, I have set myself a challenge for 2016.  I call this, the DQ flavor challenge.  Let me explain.

For the most part I lead a healthy lifestyle, I eat well and I exercise. I eat chocolate and candy when the mood takes me and I don’t deny myself anything.  However, over the years, my one true love and indulgence has somehow managed to slip Blizzardthrough the cracks, and that is Dairy Queen.  Strangely, since I am not generally the biggest ice cream fan, DQ is my joy. My husband and I had our first (hungover) date there and it has been a happy part of our lives ever since.  As the years have gone by and kids have got in the way, I have forgotten about DQ and time between blizzards keeps lengthening.  Not this year though, this year I vow to do better, and while I will miss my standard mint blizzard with cookie dough and m&m, 2016 is the year where I try every flavor of blizzard of the month, no matter what.  So stay tuned for the first edition of the DQ flavor challenge: January’s Salted Caramel Truffle Blizzard. I bet you can’t wait!

The tea trials

Tea potMy whole life long I have been a tea lover. It started small when I was very young with a sip here and there of my parents’ weak, sweet, milky black tea. As I grew older, I drank the same tea of my own, gradually adding more and more sugar in my younger years and then becoming sensible and weaning myself off sugar altogether in my self-conscious teenage years. Every day from as long ago as I can remember, began with a cup of tea.

As much as I have always loved black tea with milk, it was not until Twinningsrecently that I have been able to enjoy (and not just tolerate) a cup of herbal tea. A friend’s mother used to always drink Twinings blackcurrant tea. I could never understand how something that smelled so good could taste so average. As the years have gone by and my caffeine tolerance has gotten lower and lower, I made it my mission to enjoy a cup of herbal tea and somehow I have made this work. At first I added just a touch of sweetener (honey or sugar) and this really helped to bring out the flavor in the tea. Now, I am proud to admit, I can drink a cup of chamomile tea straight with no sugar and no other flavoring, and thoroughly enjoy it.

Yesterday I hit a new milestone. I made homemade mint tea. I went into the yard, Mint-Tea-Recipeforaged for mint leaves, poured hot water over them, added honey, and let it steep. And that’s it! That’s tea! I refrigerated the concoction and served it to my family over ice later in the day (it was a hot one) and it was delicious. Now my mind is whirling with all the other tea possibilities: lavender tea from our lavender bush, combination herb tea from our herb garden, all served with or without lemon and sugar.  Oh, and I almost forgot to mention yesterday’s even more satisfying milestone: I drank a cup of blackcurrant tea. And thoroughly enjoyed it.

There’s a kid in my kitchen

Recently I have been forced, excuse me, chosen to spend a couple of hours every day alone with my 8 year old son. My daughter has had plans every morning and has left me to entertain my second born alone. They are really close in age, so usually my kids play together and leave me to get on with the important things in life (cooking (relaxing), cleaning (icky), running (yippee!), reading (not as much as I’d like)). Since I am a creature of habit and with a little bit of selfishness thrown in for good measure, I decided that I would go about my usual business and just include my son in my plans wherever possible, with surprising results.

Every day I try to prepare some part of dinner in the morning hours, so there’s notPitting-cherries-1-of-1-381x254 a mad rush in the kitchen come 5pm. This past week I still did this, but this time with an 8 year old helper who proved himself to be very useful. Shockingly, we both had a lot of fun and the arguing/nagging was at a minimum. I discovered that he is at a good age to (carefully) chop vegetables and any other item that needs to be cut, and he discovered how much fun it is to use a cherry pitter (a task I personally abhor). We made carrot gnocchi together, which proved itself to be a very child friendly task, and since this is a project that requires a big time commitment, having an extra set of hands around was really useful.

Summer rollsMy son learned to crack eggs so he could help prepare our dinner strata. Such was my skepticism at his ability to do this without including a million tiny pieces of shell, I told him to crack the eggs one by one into a separate bowl and then pour each one into the master bowl. Not one piece of shell made it into either of the bowls. I was impressed. We made summer rolls together, which is another child-friendly, fun and relatively simple task. Rolling these things is always a challenge, but we had a good laugh at our first attempts and marveled and how well our last few turned out.

Aside from cooking, my son and I biked and ran together this week and talked Bikingabout many things, from how much we enjoyed our lunch to what we would like to do on the weekend. We threw around the baseball and talked some more. I realized that I don’t talk to my son as much as I do my daughter because talking doesn’t come as naturally to him. I read somewhere once that a person is more likely to open up and talk about things if they don’t have make eye contact. Cooking, biking, running and ball throwing have allowed my son and I to have interesting conversations, with a little necessary distraction on the side.