Sunday, October 3, 2010

Homecoming, a new toy, school lunches and pudding

As is pretty typical around here it has been a jam-packed weekend. D. and I attended a Homecoming event at Western Libraries for donors on Saturday morning. It was a cheese tasting led by Louise McNally from Saputo Canada and it was *amazing*. We tasted cheeses from Ontario, France, Quebec and Italy. News flash - buffalo mozzarella cheese is indeed made from the milk of the mighty buffalo. Milking a buffalo? Add that to the list of jobs I would never want to try. The cheese was great. All of it, even the stinky, strong stuff.

Last week the kids were super bummed to discover that a package delivered after school was not their promised Halloween costumes but a new toy for the kitchen:

I. Know. Up til now I've dabbled in sandwiches in a very amateur way. With my Breville Ikon Removeable Plate Grill I can up my game considerably. We're going grilled, baby. I haven't had time to even open the box yet but I figure after Thanksgiving the fun will start. Any leftover turkey chez Robinson is going straight into a panini sandwich. Likely with bacon, maybe with cranberry sauce, possibly with both. I had mentally added this to my Christmas list and then last week D. discovered he had won an award at work which consisted of gift certificates from his choice of a ton of stores. D. scanned the list, saw nothing related to hockey and gave me control of the keyboard. So it's a win-win situation as he will certainly benefit, I hope, from whatever I manage to produce using my new grill. Last weekend I made a roast beef sandwich with grilled pineapple, melted jarlsberg cheese and A1 sauce on ciabatta bread that made D. swoon (albeit slightly). If it had been grilled who knows how he might have reacted? Full swoon?

I hate packing school lunches. There are only so many foods that my kids will eat and many of them don't do well packed into a lunch. So every Sunday I find myself in the kitchen trying to figure out what I can make that is halfway nutritious and will actually get consumed instead of suffering the ignoble defeat of coming back home untouched. This September my go-to was muffins. Banana muffins, apple muffins and this week, to start off October, cranberry oatmeal muffins.

P. won't touch muffins with what he calls 'jam' in them. He doesn't like raisins, nuts, or any sort of chunked fruit cluttering up his muffins. Plain banana suits him just fine. My older son D. is actually a little more adventurous with muffins and I have discovered he quite likes cranberries (fresh, not dried). These cranberry oat muffins are from a recipe in hungry for comfort: the pleasures of home cooking by Rose Murray. This is one of my favourite cookbooks. Rose Murray is a food writer from Southwestern Ontario and I've bought/consulted several of her recipe books over the years. Three words to describe her food/recipes: simple, reliable, delicious. These muffins are amazing hot out of the oven and I know will get consumed by one hungry little boy at lunch time this week. (For the record, I also made banana for P.) I'll round out his lunch with cereal mix, fresh fruit and a sugary treat like a granola bar or wagon wheel. I also, without fail, put carrot sticks in his lunch box which some weeks come back untouched and other weeks get gobbled up.

Tonight we had lasagna for dinner which suited, since it has been a cold and rainy weekend. For dessert we had chocolate pudding, since P. specifically requested at the beginning of the week that I make chocolate pudding for sunday dinner this week. I think chocolate pudding is one of those things you should have a go-to recipe's a classic and nearly everyone loves chocolate pudding. So here is a quick and easy recipe for chocolate pudding, which I have dubbed Patrick's pudding for obvious reasons -

Patrick's Pudding

2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tbsp flour
1/8 tsp salt
3 cups 1% milk
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine first five ingredients in a saucepan; stir. Gradually add milk, stirring with a wire whisk until well blended. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.

Spoon pudding into six individual dessert dishes. Cover with plastic wrap; cool to room temperature. Chill at least three hours.

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