Saturday, September 30, 2006

am improving

Today is a real improvement day. Not only did I make a stir-fry, I’ve made two of them!

A chicken:

And a tofu:

(Could you have told the difference without the captions?)

I read the basics about a stir-fry here, and though I didn’t do the “take the meat out” part, I followed pretty much all the other guidelines. Not that I’ve never made a stir-fry before. But I really liked the idea of pre-marinating the meat (and tofu) and soy sauce/cornstarch mix. Which I’ve never bothered to do in the past… Live and learn.

So, I’m a good girl today. Very domestic.

Which allowed my mind to be free of that guilty feeling and ponder other important things. Like my relationship with the TV. Because I realized that pregnant women should not watch it. Or at least I shouldn’t while pregnant. (And maybe never at all, cause did you see those programs about how bad TV can be for you? It was on TV the other day… So it must be so.) And not just because of the wonderful TLC specials about all the wrong things that could happen (please, TLC, I’M ALREADY FREAKING OUT! Can’t you stop those specials for just a few months? Not asking that much here…), but also for the sappy commercials and “tender moments” on every channel that make my eyes run more than a pound of freshly chopped onions. Seriously, who knew that a bank can touch your life so closely? That an insurance company cares so much about my children? Or that a boy holding the flashlight for his daddy can be the most emotional moment of my day… Because I’m a very balanced person right now.

And I can’t write anymore, cause we are going out to a bookstore. Even though it’s already 10:30 pm. And the store is some 40 minutes away. I am probably getting a new sappy book. Cause I clearly haven’t learned my lesson from the TV.

Posted by vasilisa @ 10:35 p.m. :: (0) comments

Friday, September 29, 2006

am being bad...

I’m a horrible mother/wife/cook etc… Feeling guilty… Cause no cooking happened again…

Instead it was grandparents', pizza and this:

But it is Friday night, right? So it’s ok, right?

Please say it is, or I’ll have to crawl under my blanky and feel all bad and sorry for myself…

Posted by vasilisa @ 11:45 p.m. :: (4) comments

Thursday, September 28, 2006

kids, they wanna have fun...

Oh, Internet! How did people ever live without you? How did parents survive? What on earth did they do when they decided that they want to take a kid somewhere, and have no idea where? When they couldn’t just google “what to do with kids in Toronto!” and get an answer right away? I have no idea. And hopefully, I’ll never need to know. Because I have you, dear Internet, and you have come through for me again…

Because when having absolutely no idea what to do I typed those magic words, and you popped up this site for me and listed a whole loads of places to go. And we grabbed the kid and rushed to the indoor amusement park because global warming notwithstanding, the weather was too darn cold to enjoy anything outdoors.

And when we got to the park, (which turned out to be conveniently located inside a mall, with shopping and eating facilities), we learned that even if there are no rides the kiddo’s old enough to appreciate (and not freak out at the prospect of circling in a box in mid air), there was a toddler playground! A toddler playground! With mats and all. Well cushioned… With a slide. And all kinds of things to pull, push, turn and bump into!

The kid had a blast! He was so excited, he was jumping backwards… And he invented a whole new version of ‘happy dance’ on the spot…

And those social skills… How do you teach a toddler that not everyone is happy to be hugged by a strange kid? Not everyone will laugh with you, and play with you? How do you take the most lovable “everybody’s a friend” attitude and smash it with a dose of life’s reality? I have no idea. I don’t want to do it. I’m not ready and I don’t know how. And really, why isn’t everybody’s a friend? What’s wrong with people?



Well, it was a leftover/mall/grandparents cook day. So we were all well fed without me so much as touching a pot all day.

And at night we ordered a pizza. Which is ok. Once in a while…

Posted by vasilisa @ 11:53 p.m. :: (2) comments

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

searching for "amchoor"

So I was surfing through the amazing Foodie’s Hope blog, and I saw this picture of a chole’. And I just had to have it. Today. ASAP.

So I packed the baby in the car and rushed out to what I though was an Indian grocery store. Turned out that it was a convenience store that only sold things like phone cards and magazines, and they were closing anyway. Undeterred, I called my husband, found an address of another store that is sort of in the vicinity of our town and braved going down there in the rush hour traffic.

Skip half an hour ahead, and there I was, the only non-Indian woman, with a baby, in a packed grocery store, trying to figure out where on the whole isle of spices is the mango powder… (and of course the kiddo decided that there is absolutely nothing more exciting than picking up the spice bags from the shelves and throwing them around … because we really didn’t want to attract attention…)

And then there was nothing there that said “Amchoor” powder. But they had “Amchur”. Wondering if a difference of a letter meant different spice I tried to bug an employee asking if this is “mango powder”? He said: “we don’t have mango powder, we only have amchur”. Taking my chances I bought the bag. Luckily when I got home and googled it, it was the same thing.

So I was off cooking! Of course, I didn’t use any chilli powder or chillies, because of the heartburn. But I tried to stick to the rest of the recipe quite loyally, running like a maniac back and forth between the computer room and the kitchen (with the kid running behind me thinking, no doubt, that mommy was playing a fun game.)

In the end, the chole’ turned out more watery than on Foodie’s picture (I’m horrible at following recipes), but the taste didn’t suffer at all. (And of course it came out completely wrong colour, but I suspect that’s cause I skipped the chilli powder). But it was delicious! (...typing with one finger while eating a third helping…)

Note to self for next time: Add more potatoes. Don’t be afraid to add more potatoes. You love potatoes! And in this sauce… Yum!

We also still have the soup from yesterday. That’s the good thing about cooking a lot in one day - don’t have to worry about it the next day. And kiddo still had some chicken from last night. And he was learning to eat it with his own fork!

PS: See the bowl on the picture? It’s staged… Because two minutes later the food was on the table anyways and the bowl had to go “bye, bye”.

PPS: I really gotta get another set of plates. At lest for the colour variety. Or maybe change my template to blue, and pretend that that’s my intentional theme…

PPPS: There was no chicken tonight, so DH took the kiddo in the evening to go see grandparents and mommy got a break all to herself… (becaues he absolutely cannot imagine two vegetarian days in a row, and he is vegetarian tomorrow, so there must be chicken tonight, and he's getting it, and there is no stopping him... See -- we have so much in common !)

PPPPS: And just one more pic, just cause I soooo like it…

Posted by vasilisa @ 11:50 p.m. :: (4) comments

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

a good effort

Today I spent what seems like forever browsing through “Chocolate and Zucchini”, and I found this amazing recipe: a simple soup.

Since I didn’t have the magic spice at hand, I had to improvise. So in went a ginger root, a bit of organic herb mix I just bought at a local grocery store, a teaspoon of curry powder (can’t go wrong there), and some fresh herbs (dill and parsley, which as a typical Russian I add to 90% of the soups I make).

The result was the best soup I’ve ever made. Even my husband said so. And he hates soups. But ate this one…

And the main dish for the carnivores in the house was chicken all the way... And a chicken of my own invention! (boy, I'm getting adventurous...) With dry herbs (sage and thyme) and white sauce (i.e. add flower at the end.) So simple. Yet so good.

Basically, it was shaping up to be a pretty decent "fooding" day. Until I forgot to take my anti-nausea pill. And then… Let’s just say I prefer to forget that part of the day…

And when I was finally feeling like eating, I wanted nothing but Kelsey’s Lemmon Pepper Salmon dinner. (Yes, I know I’m supposed to be vegetarian. But sometimes I eat seafood. Long story. Has to do with parental pressure and habit. And right now, as I said in the past – when a sick pregnant woman wants something, she better get it.)

So, in the nutshell, the only person eating take-out today was me. And that’s not so bad.

All in all, I’d say it was a good-effort day.

Posted by vasilisa @ 10:38 p.m. :: (1) comments

Monday, September 25, 2006

a real omelette

My son has an obsession with planes. So we thought that taking him to a small local airport would be a good idea. It probably would be. Except that we just happened to be there for a stretch of time when no single plane wanted to fly by. What a fruitful family excursion that was…

Disappointed and hungry we ended up lunching at a nearby Burger King. Veggy burgers though. I guess that’s healthier, so is excusable…

Still, feeling slightly guilty, I decided that making something for dinner was a must. But feeling lazy I didn’t dare venture into anything more complicated than an omelette. But I did try to make it fancy. In fact, I pulled out my trusty Julia Child cookbook, and read a whole section on omelettes before attempting my own. (Not that I’ve never made an omelette before, but I really wanted to be craftier than usual). So in went butter instead of usual oil, and some shredded cheese for extra fun factor.

I have to say, it was a darn good omelette. I’ve surprised myself.

In fact, I must say that Julia Child’s “Mastering French Cooking” book is the most helpful tool in my kitchen. Though I’ve never tried any of the more elaborate recipes in it, I find myself constantly referring there for the basics. Something about the black and white hand drawn illustrations make the dishes seem less intimidating. And something about the way it’s written makes me think “I can do it, it obviously can be done.” Until this book the word “French cooking” sent me into a nervous frenzy, wanting to leave the kitchen forever and bury my head somewhere under the pillows mumbling an incoherent “me not worthy”. But now I feel confident that even though my omelettes would not be served in a posh restaurant, they are certainly good enough for me and my family.

So thank you Julia.

(And don’t worry, omelette was not the only thing for dinner. There were also samosas and masala dosa take-out, courtesy of my husband. But since he is also the one who ate it all, I decided that it needed no elaboration here.)

Posted by vasilisa @ 11:47 p.m. :: (9) comments

Sunday, September 24, 2006

homemade food without cooking...

Today kiddo went to my in-laws and had a great time. He doesn’t even miss me when he’s there. In fact, when I leave, I get none of that crying, “I miss you mommy” face or anything. Instead I get a wave and a “bah, bah”, which is toddler speak for “bye, bye”.

And he is always fed well there. Cause whenever he indicates interest in anything… Let’s just say that grandma always have strawberries, grapes, ice-cream, pizza, pasta, broccoli. (Yes, my kid LOVES broccoli. Does not take it from me, of that I’m sure.)

I went to my parents, to work on a music project. And of course, I got a fantastic home-made soup,

and loads of pancakes:

There were also some amazingly great dumplings, but they were gone so fast, I had no time to snap a pic.

Ahh... The joy of parents… How they make us feel like little kids (in a good way) even when we have our own…

Posted by vasilisa @ 11:23 p.m. :: (0) comments

Saturday, September 23, 2006

where the word "which" gets used a record number of times...

So it all started with a very bad hair day:

Which made me finally realize that the kid really needs a haircut, at which point getting one became an emergency (because whenever I finally realize something, it inevitably becomes an emergency), and called for an immediate trip to the hair-dresser:

Which happened to be at the mall. Which led to mommy buying herself the exact same tofu as yesterday:

Which really is ok. Because at the start of your 5th month of relentless morning sickness (and daily head down the toilet ritual), when you find something you actually want to eat – YOU GET IT. RIGHT AWAY!

But then I thought, the boys still deserve a decent dinner. So a trip to the grocery store ensued. Which meant that I didn’t eat the tofu right away. Which meant that by the time I decided to, I didn’t want it anymore. In fact, I REALY didn’t want it (darn morning/noon/night sickness). So I had to settle for a bowl of strawberries instead.

(and Cheetos… but that’s a secret, so no pic…)

So, as for the boys’ dinner:

Now, here is a strange thing. Over these many years I’ve introduced my husband to a whole variety of scrumptious Russian food. Most of it elicited raised eyebrows, a response of a “how interesting…” kind and a polite “do we have anything else to eat here?”. But then the “military style pasta” happened. I mean, really! -- It’s just meat fried with onions and mixed with pasta. Add salt and pepper to taste. That was a hit! Now every other day he’s asking if I’m in a mood to make some pasta.

So, to make a long story short, that is what I made for them today.

Because it was fast, and easy, and most of the cooking time I could spend away from the kitchen, saving my precious nose from the cooking smells. And because, my son also finds it to be the most delicious thing ever, on par with strawberries, grapes and ice cream.

Posted by vasilisa @ 8:38 p.m. :: (2) comments

Friday, September 22, 2006

food court... but i have a legitimate reason!

I’m trying to be honest on this blog. So as much as I would love to post about the wonderful sumptuous turkey dinner I concocted for my family today, the reality was… a food court at the mall…

But I really have a legitimate reason! Honestly!!!

And that reason is: we went to a car dealership. Yes, we are trying to buy a second car (for me), because living in suburbia without a car (per adult) is like living on a lake without a boat. Especially in a suburbia that is still under construction -- even if I wanted (yah, sure) to take an hour-long healthy walk to a store, I’d be met with a “minor” obstacle – no sidewalks!

So, anyways, we’ve been looking into buying a specific car for about 5 months now (yes, I know, we are slow…) We’ve been to the dealer what seems like a hundred times. Same dealer. He must be getting pretty sick of us. So, today we were sure it was gonna be one last time. We even took money for deposit with us.

No such luck. Over 2 hours later we were still at a stalemate on price. Isn’t it amazing how a certain price quoted on an ad can gain a whole of $10,000 when they actually lay down for you what you’ll have to pay? Because there is freight… and admin fee… and air tax… and gas tax… and tax on those taxes… and… and… and…

We are already way over the original budget…

And just as we were ready to get it all over and done with (i.e. succumb to sales pressure), the kid realized that he barely had any breakfast (well, he only ate an apple – his own fault!), and was hungry NOW, and NO ARGUING ABOUT IT.

Which brings me to why we ended up in the mall, buying take-out food, instead of home sitting down for a homey meal. Because the mall was closer.

So here’s how that turned out:

Tofu for me:

Souvlaki (greek chicken kebabs) for the kiddo (and yes, he ate most of this... he really WAS hungry).

And thirsty... (behold: this is the kid that refuses to acknowledge sippy-cups as a viable liquid vessel, yet has learned to drink through a straw about the same time as he turned one... and yes, this is a horribly undiluted apple juice from concentrate, but he WAS thirsty!)

Teriyaki chicken for DH...

And in the end… Still no car.

Posted by vasilisa @ 8:20 p.m. :: (3) comments

Thursday, September 21, 2006

at least the zucchini came through

So, for breakfast and lunch, I had leftover yesterday’s beet/potato (vinigret) salad. Since I was suddenly craving it last night, I made almost a whole bucket of it, and since noone here but me finds it appetizing, it’s all mine, MINE, MINE!!!

For dinner, let’s say I was way over my head. What do you feed a person (DH), who is a devoted meat eater, who demands vegetarian food two times a week, and yet completely not interested in the usual vegetarian fare? I’m supplied a whole list of no-nos (beans, tofu, mock-meat, etc…). Honestly, which one of us is pregnant? I’m looking forward to chicken days – as long as it’s chicken, he doesn’t seem to mind.

So I settled on a plan that included stuffed bell peppers with zucchini pancakes. The first dilemma was, when do I make it, just before DH gets home, or way in advance, and thus risking that it will all get cold and nasty… (not to mention that I realized that I didn’t have any peppers or zucchini and had to drag myself and kiddo to the store.)

So I courageously prepped the stuffing (read: rice with some veggies) in advance. (What was I thinking? The horrible, horrible smell of frying onions and garlic… which I clearly recall that when I’m not pregnant I seem to enjoy… I need a nose clip. If this experiment is to continue, I need to find quality nose clip…)

Then once the baby (read: little monster that is in no way interested in sleeping at normal predictable hours, but prefers to drive mommy crazy all day long, till way past 7pm, and that’s a nap…) finally fell asleep, I discovered that I don’t have an appropriate pot for the oven. Well, I’ve came this far, so it was gonna be stuffed peppers and no if/end/buts about it! So I set them in my precious cake baking form….

How did they turn out? Let’s just say they looked better than they tasted. (Not that they were bad, but really nothing special and not worth all the effort.)

The zucchini pancakes though… They were a hit! On advice of my father, I added potatoes and onions (so that’s 5 zucchinis, 3 potatoes, 1 onion, 2 eggs, and about a cup of flower).

They turned out so good, even the kiddo ate them!

There was going to be a salad… But I lost steam…

But I have to say, I’m quite impressed with myself today.

Tomorrow's plan? Call Pizza.... (hopefully just kidding)

Posted by vasilisa @ 11:54 p.m. :: (0) comments


can't figure any other way to post a header picture...

Posted by vasilisa @ 4:46 p.m. :: (0) comments

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

what is all this?


I've been thinking, I really gotta start cooking more. As in, I should start cooking, period (as opposed to constant take-out)…

I’ve never been much of a cook. I had parents cook for me, and then my husband and I really enjoyed going out for dinners, so much that it really got out of hand…

Then I got pregnant with my first kid. I was “lucky” enough to develop mild hyperemesis, which not only meant no cooking, but barely any eating for 9 months.

When the kiddo finally popped out, I was so excited to be able to taste and smell things again, that I dived into learning the basics of home food preparation. Cause my kid was gonna be home-fed and not a McChild, thank you very much…

Good and dandy… But now I’m pregnant again (luckily not as bad as last time, but no picknick anyways). And no-one is eating anything home-made (by me). This is my fourth month, and the worst seems to be over, even though I’m still taking liberal amounts of antinausea pills. I was gonna stay away from the kitchen for a little longer, but my husband has started feeding my 17 month-old Cheetos. CHEETOS! I gotta step in. I gotta try something.

So, this is going to be my online diary of my attempts at cooking at least some family dinners. Or snacks. Whichever smells I can battle.

By the way, a few sidenotes:

I’m basically a vegetarian (though before I got preganant, I occasionally ate fish – succumbing to parental pressure). My husband is an avid meat eater. (Though we seem to have reached an agreement that he’ll veg on Mondays and Thursdays). Our son is the pickiest eater I’ve ever met in my life. And I can only eat what I’m craving at the moment. And today it’s been Cheetos…

So, no idea how this could possibly work out.

Let’s see.

Posted by vasilisa @ 11:44 p.m. :: (0) comments


I'm a 29 year old mom of two! A toddler (kiddo one) and a new baby (kiddo junior). I am also the most horrible (as in I barely ever do it) cook that I have met in my life. This blog is a diary of my attempts to feed my hungry growing family

PS: My name is not actually Vasilisa... But I find that honest reporting comes easier when there is a shred of anonymity. (Apparently, posting pics of my sons doesn't count...)

PPS: For those of you wondering where on the planet I am: I'm cosily tacked away in the Torontonian suburbia of the Great White North (Canada).

The Beginnings

What is all this?


To music, naturally.


All kinds of books. Haven't figured out how to post links to them yet.

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