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How To Eat Over The Holidays. Peace, Love and Muesli Style.

At this time of year, there is no shortage of articles and information about staying healthy over the holidays. Every magazine, newspaper and broadcast throws their 2 cents about keeping our waistlines in check into the holiday fray.

Here’s what I say to all that nonsense- Bah, humbug.

I have no intention of not stuffing myself silly. Each and everyday that I can. Isn’t that the point of a celebration? Exercise and small portions is not for the holidays, it’s for the rest of the year. There are always a lot of people around over the holidays, the going back for seconds plan doesn’t work. You need to load up the first time because that delicious pie your Aunt brought will be gone.

How To Eat Over The Holidays

My mom’s friends make fancy nuts and paté and drop it off. It’s their present to us, it would be rude not to eat it. Have you ever had homemade paté? Oh my, it’s good stuff. My dad buys cheese. So much cheese. It’s part of our Christmas present. I’m not going to say “No thank you”. It’d be like telling Santa to go back up the chimney before he took the gifts out of his bag.

I am totally happy wearing elastic waist pants for the entire week between Christmas and New Year’s. What do I need to get dressed for anyways? Ok, maybe there will be a party or people visiting. So I will find some fancy yoga pants with bedazzles or something. Then I will share food with the guests.

I still have standards. If it is a homemade food I will eat it. Store made appetizers, no thank you. I believe over indulging in good food is part of a celebration. Feeling a terrible food hangover after gorging on premade appetizers and meatballs, not celebratory.

Here’s the moral of the story- eat but eat well. January will come soon enough.

‘Tis The Season

‘Tis indeed the season of asparagus.

In celebration of this wonderful season Innisfail, Alberta hosts an asparagus festival. Many believe the asparagus worthy of its own festival. My husband is one of those people. We were going to make the 2 hour drive to Innisfail but we lucked out with some typical Albertan weather this weekend and got 2 days of snow. We opted to stay home. But still if asparagus is worthy of a festival it is also worthy of discussion.

How Asparagus Grows

Asparagus is considered a perennial. That means it comes back ever year. Asparagus can be a bit fussy so you need to make sure you have the right soil. It needs to be rich, free draining slightly sandy soil in a warm sunny part of the garden sheltered from the wind. The crown is usually planted in an 8” trench, once established you fill in the trench with soil to create an even field. For the 1st two years you can not harvest your asparagus. You can get around this by buying 2-3 year old crowns to plant. The next 2 years you may only harvest for the first 2 weeks when spears start to appear in the spring. After that you pick from the beginning of the spring until the June`s end. You must stop picking at the June`s end to let the plant grow into a fern so the crowns can be able to store nutrients for the winter.

For those of us suffering from impatience, growing asparagus is an excellent exercise.

Apparently here in Alberta the cool climate produces extremely sweet asparagus. The purple tips indicate high sugar content.

Picking

Every spear is hand picked, snapped off at the base. Some companies cut them off at the base but this can cause damage to crowns still in the soil, so better to snap with your hands. This saves a step in the kitchen too. As soon as possible get your spears into ice cold water to remove the sun’s heat. This keeps the sugars from turning into starch. If you don’t grow your own do your best to buy local, either at the farmers market or your local grocery store. Even better if you get to the asparagus farm. You will taste the difference.

Storing

Stand the bundles of asparagus in a jar with 1” of water, loosely cover with a plastic bag and keep in the fridge. Will keep 1 week.

asparagus festival

Cleaning

If you find your asparagus sandy, check this by gently pulling back one of the leaves on the stalk, soak in very warm water for 10-15 minutes. This allows the leaves and heads to relax, flush with clean warm water then cook as desired. Snap off the woody ends. Hold top and bottom in each hand and let the stalk snap where it wants.

Freezing

Asparagus must be blanched prior to freezing. To blanch place spears in a pot of boiling water. Boil 2 minutes, drain hot water and immediately plunge into an ice water bath. Drain well, lie in a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze. Once frozen transfer to freezer bags.

Cooking

Asparagus is lovely no matter how you prepare it. You can steam it, roast it or grill it or even eat it raw. Add it to salads, stir-fry’s, risottos or pastas. It is great on steak or chicken with some crab and a little hollandaise to make a wonderful Oscar or Neptune. One of my favourite dinners as a kid was asparagus on toast with béchamel sauce.

5 spears of asparagus have 25 calories and a glycemic index of 15. It contains potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, calcium, B6, Folic acid, magnesium and copper. Asparagus also contains very high levels of Glutathione (GSH) an antioxidant considered to be one of the first lines in defense against cancer cells. All in all a wonderful little veg. No wonder they have a festival for it!

It is too bad that it didn’t work out for us to get to the festival. I am able to get some of Edgar Farms asparagus at my local farmers markets. I will make sure to make the drive to get some.

Recipes

Grilled Asparagus with Balsamic Vinegar and Feta.

1 bunch asparagus
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
¼ cup feta cheese

Clean asparagus and remove any woody bits at the end. Just snap the bottom off it will break at the top of the woody bit.
Place on a cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss around with your fingers to make sure it’s all coated.
Put spears directly on the grill, watching and moving around so they don’t burn.
Cook about 12 mins. You want them to look grilled but not to be soggy.
Place them on a serving plate, sprinkle with vinegar and feta.

Also nice with lemon and Parmesan for a different flavour. You could also roast the asparagus if you don’t want to grill. Just pop the cookie sheet in a 400F oven for about 12 minutes or until tender crisp.

Jamie Oliver’s Asparagus Soup

1 ¾ lbs asparagus, woody ends removed
Olive oil
2 medium white onions, peeled and chopped

2 stalks of celery, trimmed and chopped
2 leeks, trimmed and chopped
6 cups, chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper

Chop tips off the asparagus and put them aside. Roughly chop the asparagus stalks. In a large deep pot put a good glug of olive oil. Gently fry the onions, celery and leeks for about 10 minutes, until soft but not brown. Add chopped asparagus stalks and stock and simmer for 20 minutes with lid on. Remove from heat, puree with an immersion blender or in a regular blender in batches. Season bit by bit with salt and pepper until just right. Put soup back on the heat add tips, bring back to the boil and simmer until the tips have softened. Serve hot with another swirl of olive oil on top.

What`s the Best Promotional Code from Cheaper Than Dirt

You like guns and everything about them. You like carrying them, using them, even clean them. Not to say about shooting at targets. But as with everything else, guns aren`t cheap. This is where a promotional code released by Cheaper Than Dirt will come into the game.

About Cheaper Than Dirt

As most of you already know, CheaperThanDirt is seen as one of the top players in the game, being at one point even the Nr. 1 gun retailer in the U.S. I`m saying it was and not it is because if you are into guns and you have a bit of knowledge about what`s going on in this area, you probably know a bit about what happened back in 2012. Back then the brand decided to do a review of their policy suspending sales until further notice. The whole issue didn`t last too much as their resume sales after a short while.

How to Recognize a Good Cheaper Than Dirt Promo Code?

An online promo code from CTD offers pretty much the same advantages as a regular coupon code. It simply offers the user a specific discount on a gun product or ammunition box item. It can also provide free shipping for a product or items bought on bulk.

Like any other online promotional code, these too can be faked. So how do we know if the actual promo code that we want to use is valid and will provide us the value we want. There are a few characteristics that each online code will include, no matter the brand that releases it.

Promotional Code from Cheaper Than Dirt

Look for the barcode – A Cheaper Than Dirt promo code has to include a human-readable barcode in order to be valid. Most online sites that use such discount codes make their one coupon offer images and don`t include these barcodes. The user will know in this case the actual offer is not the real deal.

The promising of unreal deals – This type of deals is harder to notice. Maybe the novice can be tricked, but a person who is really into guns can`t be deceived into believing that a Weatherby PA-08 Pump Action shotgun that normally cost around $400 can be bought at half a price. Gun discounts just aren`t that big and no Cheaper Than Dirt coupon code can offer such a deal.

They are valid for a limited time – All discount codes offered by CTD are generally valid within a specific time frame. There are no real codes that are released now and can very well be used within a year from now. You can find such valid coupon codes on CheaperThanDirtPromoCode.

Which are the Best Promotional Deals from Cheaper Than Dirt

First of all, you should know from the start that the best online source for Cheaper Than Dirt coupon codes is a reliable source. And today will refer to RetailMeNot, one of the most popular coupon code-related websites. This site has a huge online database that offers promotional offers from just about any brand out there, Cheaper Than Dirt included. And what is best, all deals include specific details which the user needs to make a decision whether or not this is the deal he wants, such as details about the type of the product, discounts or time frame.

Most great Cheaper Than Dirt discount codes found on RetailMeNot are valid only for a short period of time. Like the Colt CSR-1516 semi-automatic rifle that can be bought for only $795 considering its normal price is around $950.

The shotguns also have good discounts if you use a CTD promo deal. The 12 Gauge Pump Shotgun can be bought at around $180, while the Weatherby PA-08 Pump Action Shotgun can be purchase at only $295. Great discount if we consider the normal prices of these shotguns.

Some CTD discount codes also include free shipping. Like for example, the EAA SAR Item Gun-400 9mm can be obtained with a discount of $14 off + free shipping, if you use a CTD promotional code from RetailMeNot. The same thing with the Mossberg 500 Tactical Shotgun that can be purchased with a $40 off discount and free shipping included.

The discounts on ammo are less “interesting.” They offer discounts of $1 or so. They aren`t exactly “hot deals,” so to speak.

No matter what type of gun item will interest you, a Cheaper Than Dirt promo code could offer you a discount not easy to neglect. So what do you wait for? You are at a few clicks away of a great promotional deal, so take action now!

Where They Roam

I was a vegetarian for a long time. Like 10 years. My carnivorous decline began when my friend Ian convinced me that bacon grew on a tree. Bacon lures many vegetarians off the wagon. Then during my first pregnancy I requested a steak. This recipe for beef tenderloin with strawberries in fact. (give it a try, you won’t be sorry) When I asked for this recipe I had no clue what beef tenderloin meant and knew nothing about the cost of it. My husband didn’t take time to enlighten me. He ran straight for the butcher and spent much too much money on a steak. Can you blame him? The woman carrying his child asked him to provide for her and asked him to barbecue meat. What self-respecting man wouldn’t do the same?

Unfortunately that pregnancy didn’t work out but the love of meat stuck. I’ve never considered vegetarianism since. Well, just that once after reading Margaret Atwood’s Year of the Flood.

Since my vegetarian days I’ve had many memorable meat dishes, some great, some not so great.

But Saturday night’s dinner outranks all those delicious meats of my memory.

We had a… wait for it… a bison rib-eye steak.

And oh my soul and stars!! It was, without a doubt, the most delicious cut of meat I’ve ever had. Ken agrees. It was grilled meat perfection.

Veggies

My introduction to bison came some years ago. There is a ranch near my parents house. It is run by a, uhm, a character. (Is that the nice way to say crazy person?) He has a harvesting herd and a herd to preserve the genetic integrity of wild bisons. Being a scientific person, this seemed a noble gesture to me. But at that point, I was still a vegetarian and also thought that bison eating was for crazy people.

My parent’s friends starting serving it at dinner parties. They also served up very colorful stories of visiting the ranch to procure their goods. I think one of my mom’s friends might be engaged. You do what you have to get the meat I guess.

I have eliminated pork and chicken from my diet. My family’s go to meats. So I flounced off to Whole Foods Market to see what I could find there. I found a rib-eye bison steak. I found many other things, lots and lots of sausages. That will be a later post.

Originally I requested 2 steaks but the price came up at $75. That seemed a bit steep for dinner. I realized at the same time that each steak was about the size of my head. So I opted for 1. It was about $35 and it fed all 4 of us. You read that right, the kids shoveled it in too. If I had brought 2 home we would have eaten them both and likely still be sitting in the backyard in a food coma. Happy though.

 

Turns out that not only is bison delicious it is super duper healthy. It contains all the essential fatty acids. It is lower in fat than beef, pork and salmon. Lower in calories than beef, pork, chicken and salmon and highest in iron. And the iron is the easy to digest kind.

Bison are pasture fed. This means they are all free ranging beasts, eating grass. It is illegal to feed bison growth hormones. And they don’t receive any anti-biotics or stimulants.

You really can’t go wrong.

When I started writing this post, Ken reminded me that this was not the first time I’d had bison. Last year on my birthday I ordered a bison burger. Best. Burger. EVER. Plus there was sweet potato fries. Again, you can’t go wrong.

And now for your taxonomy science class.
Buffalo and bison are synonymous in North America. But actually the only true buffalo species are the African Cape Buffalo and the Asian Water Buffalo. The song is wrong. There are 2 North American sub-species of bison, the Plains Bison and the Wood Bison. There is a European species too.

Talk to your butcher, source it out. Get yourself some bison and get it on the grill. DO NOT overcook. It is a really lean meat and will cook faster than you are used to. We seasoned our steak with only a little olive oil and steak spice. Ground bison is easiest to find, usually frozen. It’s a good start. But one day, for a special treat, find a fresh as-big-as-your-head rib-eye.

Giveaway: I’m Ga-Ga over Blabla!

I’m thrilled to kick off the new year with a giveaway from Blabla! Two moms and best friends (of 25 years) started a company that has now evolved into something far beyond their wildest dreams!

Florence Wetterwald, designer and co-owner, says this about these knitted creations: “I always think of Blabla products as contemporary objects which reflect the inner life of children in this modern world. I love kids. Their fragility moves me. I like to believe that my designs comfort them and make them smile.”

As a mom, here’s why I’m Ga-Ga over Blabla:

The owners of Blabla have created a company that searches for “beauty, authenticity, and laughter.” Who doesn’t aspire to live a life with these?

blabla-doggie-backpack1-269x300

All of the products are made of natural, high-quality fibers that make them “irresistibly soft and cuddly” for children. Prior to our discovery of Blabla, my daughter couldn’t care less about dolls. Now, well, the picture says it all!

IMG_3001.JPG-300x225

These products make me happy; they are simple, vibrant, and fun! Just look at these finger puppets . . . I know you’re smiling :) What a great way to encourage open-ended, imaginative play in your home.

 

Blabla takes pride in fair trade ethics and a commitment to the Peruvian artisans who knit these products. This global-minded company is based on mutual respect between designers and knitters.

I could go on forever, but you’ll have to check out the rest! Blabla’s collection also includes rattles, blankets, mobiles, and clothing. They make wonderful baby and shower gifts!

And now . . .for the GIVEAWAY! Susan at Blabla has generously offered my readers the chance to win the adorable Celeste doll pictured above. Here’s how:finger-puppets

1. Visit Blabla, and then leave a comment on this post, telling us your TWO favorite knitted products.

2. If you’d like to earn extra entries, you can Facebook, twitter, or write about his giveaway on your blog (please use this post’s URL). Then come back and, in a separate comment, tell me how you’ve spread the word!

On Friday, September 5th, 8 p.m. EST, one winner will be randomly selected by Random.org. You must be a U.S. resident (18+) to enter. I hope it’s your lucky day!

Congratulations, Tina! (And sorry for the delay) You’re going to LOVE this doll. :)

I Will Survive and You Can Too.

We are in the middle of a bathroom renovation. The main bathroom. My husband took time off work and is bravely constructing a bathroom for his family. He is working stinking hard. Stinking being the key word.

For the first few days I tried to keep the other parts of the house clean. But I quickly gave up. There is a bathtub on the dining room table (clearly I don’t have a very fancy table), drill batteries charging on the stove, drywall in everyone’s bedrooms and various drill bits and tools piled on top of the toys and life that was already accumulated.
So it’s kinda a mess and we are kinda unbathed.
Cooking is not a huge priority right now. Ordering a pizza is the obvious alternative. But now I don’t eat gluten and you can’t have pizza everyday. Well, maybe you can but you would likely lose points. Lori (one of my friends) can you please advise?
The next alternative is to invite ourselves to friends and family for dinner, using their showering facilities while there. Done that! I suspect folks have stopped answering the phone when they see our number.
So it’s down to survival. We must eat. Our eat out options are limited. Also I am certain the more crap we eat the more likely bathroom construction productivity will decrease. And the kids and I will be grumpy. Bad scene all around.

healthy dinner

What are healthy survival dinner options? These ideas also work if you are racing home and need to pick up something really fast at the store. If you have food that you have cooked ahead and frozen for a rainy day. Survival night is a hurricane. If the freezer is bare, here’s some ideas.
-Pasta and tomato sauce, add chick peas or veggies, at the very least an onion.
-Scrambled eggs with a green salad or cut up veggies.
-Sausages and home fries or potato wedges. Leave the skin on to save time.
-Grilled cheese. I enjoy a pickle in my grilled cheese but just use what you’ve got.
-Nachos. Homemade nachos can be very healthy. Use a can of refried beans and as many veggies are you can handle.
-Pancakes with fruit. Pull out the frozen fruit.
In a pinch you can make anything healthier by adding sliced apples, cucumber spears or carrot sticks.
I am sure I am alone. Please tell me I am not alone. What are your last minute survival dinner tactics? If you have a good order in/take out option, please include it!