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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Geocaching and Chinese!

I have found the pork tenderloin at Costco is the most economical deal for a larger family. Regardless if you're making pork chops or seen below cutting cubes, it goes a long way! AND I always love to have left overs for the teenagers with bottomless pits!
 Food preparation is hard work! So I sometimes talk nicely (lol) and I find myself a meat cutter! This was happening at 9:45 pm on Saturday evening in the picture below. I wanted to get the meat cubed and into the marinade!

 The marinade consists of - one cup olive oil, pressed fresh garlic (8 cloves), two good squirts of lemon juice, 4-5 caps of soya sauce, seasoning salt, pepper medley and 1/4 cup mustard. Mix and leave marinating over night!
 For the garlic batter....it's approximately 4 cups of flour to 4 cups of water. Make sure you're starting to heat your oil. Add garlic powder, seasoning salt, fresh pressed garlic and the spiced pepper medley to your flour and water. Mix. I have this theory.....you can never use too much garlic. In fact, we are all healthy because I use tons of garlic every day!
 I don't use the deep fryer very often. Obviously not a healthy choice but it's a nice change for a different flavour and texture. We bought this double deep fryer at Cabela's. It still isn't big enough and it's very time consuming. We can't seem to find a deep fryer that meets our needs unless it's commercial, then it's too big and too expensive! Anyhow, as soon as you can, start deep frying your meat by dropping spoonfuls into the oil. 
 This is where you're going to do several tasks at once. I call this "Carrie's chowmein" In a separate skillet melt 1/2 cup of butter, fry 1 large onion, a bag of broccoli, one cauliflower, one red pepper, of course - tons of fresh garlic and green peas. While this is happening, start cooking your chowmein in boiling water. Approximately two minutes! 
 When the water is boiling, add the chowmein, boil only two minutes until soft, drain!
 Mix together, add soya sauce (if you want) You can always omit the soya sauce with everything. Add more seasoning's like garlic! lol 
 While you're mixing your chowmein, doing dishes, telling the kids it's not ready yet, keep checking on your pork balls. They're usually cooked when they have a nice brown crunchy look to them. Once cooked place on a cookie sheet and sprinkle garlic powder and the spicy pepper on top!
 Bon Appetite! These are dried garlic pork balls but if you want a sweet n sour sauce, no problem. Make your own with ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, salt/pepper to taste and yes, of course garlic! Use it for dipping!
 For the non meat eater like myself, I baked a piece of salmon in rice vinegar, soya sauce, fresh garlic and wasabi!  Sounds disgusting but it's amazing!
 Va va va voom for me! 
 Now.....before all this home made Chinese food started happening today, we went geocaching. A new hobby we have recently picked up. We have found nine in total. There is microchips, (harder to find) there is logging and there is trading caches. Geocaching is all over the world. Millions! It's absolutely everywhere! I have an app on my phone that locates the caches and we use the GPS to find the treasures. Then you log yourself into the app once you've found a cache! It's very cool. It's a outdoor treasure hunting mapping adventure! You definitely need to add the app to your phone, you need a pen and you need a bag of trinkets to trade. You need to be prepared! Also when you're out looking for geocaches, you want to be unseen. You don't want people that aren't geocaching ruining the outdoor hunt. Believe it or not, there is caches in cities, parking lots, in trees, you name it - if it can be hidden it's out there!  AND I apologize because it looks like I'm fingering people in the below picture (some one pointed that out) I'm not. I'm holding up a microchip! In the other two pictures with my sons, they found the logging caches in the trees where you write your name and date! Cheers to outdoor adventures! Get out there and have fun! 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Sushi? It's easy!

Making sushi is all in the preparation.

- Cooked sushi rice
- Nori sushi paper
- Sesame seeds
- My home made smoked salmon
- Avocado
- Pre-baked sweet potato baked in coconut oil
- Green onion
- Roasted garlic and chili aloli 
- Sriracha hot chili sauce


In the above picture I flatten a handful of rice onto the sushi paper. You can leave the roll in the position it is or flip it like I did in the below picture. We prefer flipping it so the sushi paper is rolled inside the roll instead of the outside. I remember when I first started making sushi, I purchased that bamboo rolling aid however I like to roll free hand. I find it easy and with less hassle. Once you have the rice flattened evenly, sprinkle sesame seeds onto the rice. Place what you want inside as seen below. This roll is a sweet potato avocado smoked salmon roll with roasted garlic and chili sauce. 
Tuck, squeeze and roll as you go!
 The trick cutting nice pieces of sushi is a wet clean knife. So when needed, wash and wet your knife. 
Turn over and add your topping. It can be more sesame seeds, you can add the sriracha or nothing at all. Experimenting is fun. I love this roll because it awakens your taste buds with the different flavours. Sweet and spicy! 
 Sushi making is easy. Once you develop your technique, go to town! 

I taught sushi making a few times with our home school team. Kids love making their own! Creativity in the kitchen is one of the best learning tools! 

Friday, March 18, 2016

A great start with our break...

For the first five days of Spring break our second oldest son came to visit. It was really nice. I made a ham and salmon dinner and we all celebrated his twenty second birthday. The salmon was glazed in mayonnaise topped with a pepper steak spice. It was devoured!  


Then as soon as the sun came out we went to one of our favourite destinations. Victoria! We walked the break water out to the light house! 


"I love Dad"


Seen below is just a few of us. We only had ten of our kiddo's in Victoria. It's weird for me. Our large family is becoming smaller and smaller. I have always found that adding plates at the dinner table was easy but taking away confused me. Funny, we definitely don't have an empty nest but our nest is never full unless we're all together! Go figure!  


And now that some of our kids are getting older, they get to venture off just a little bit further.
"Hello down there!"


"The glue"
Nineteen years we have been together. We have been through a lot and we're still keeping things together.
Update - we are living day by day. With his spinal damage he's in chronic pain constantly. Some days his left hand can't grasp anything while his thumb clicks. Strange things. We are still waiting for answers onto why there's blood in his urine. Every day is a new day, some days better then other days. His memory and speech has been affected, sometimes words just don't come out right however we chuckle about it because it's the least of our worries. Life is just too short, so we're definitely making the best of it!


I love this picture below.....eight of our kiddo's just hanging out and being "cool" 
We live in paradise!


Every time we visit Victoria, we have dinner at Red Robin's. Without fail, Red Robin's has great service, the food is fast and it's always a pleasant experience. And every time we receive positive comments. 



One of these days I will start posting recipes as promised!

"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years" 
Abraham Lincoln


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Happy Spring Break!

Minion Easter Eggs!
Rice Crispy Baskets!
Devilled eggs with garlic, hot sauce and sesame seeds!
Have multiple birthdays? Popcorn goodie bags with hidden treats inside! Accommodates any age!
Now these two little rascals love licking up the brown sugar when I'm making cinnamon buns! They're little tiny crow people searching for shiny tasty objects! Beware!

It's our Spring break! Yay! I'm so excited to enjoy our time off! We are going to plan day trips according to weather. We plan on geocaching - our new outdoor hobby! Our second oldest son is coming to visit (it's been two years) I'm planning a family dinner celebrating his twenty second birthday! We do unfortunately have some hospital tests (for hubby) in hopes for a few more answers. We have some dinner guests coming "yay" I LOVE to cook for others! We plan on attending "Koba's great big show" live! Featuring the Backyardigans, Max and Ruby, Franklin and Mike the Knight! Then it will be Easter! Stay tuned, we will have lots to share and definitely including food ideas and recipes!  

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Meals come with routine and structure!


Mango salsa chicken with Italian glazed carrots and basmati rice was spectacular! For me ( I don't eat meat) I made mango salsa salmon and honestly these dishes are at least $14.99 minimum to purchase in a restaurant. Speaking of restaurants, our favorite restaurant to take our family is Red Robin. Red Robin has never disappointed us. We always call in and give the restaurant enough notice that approximately fifteen of us (or more) will be coming in. Every time it's been perfect. Every time I have had strangers comment on how well our “group” is and I always smile, thank and correct that it's our children. Proud I am. How do we sit and function without much chaos with twelve plus and some special needs children? It starts at home. Routine and structure. Routine. Routine. Routine. Dinner is always served between 5-6pm. 6 pm is getting on the late side. We all sit down at the table together. Every breakfast, lunch and dinner. Manners are expected. Correction happens immediately. I honestly believe if you allow a child to eat anywhere, to watch television, to not have any manners – you aren't doing them any favors. Public outings would be chaos. “Please and thank you” are always reminded. Asking for seconds is waiting until the cooks have eaten. Dessert is served when every one is finished. Our children don't fight over where they're going to sit because I have prevented that long ago, all our children have their own designated spots. This includes the seating in our vehicles. Prevention before it happens is key. When we go to Red Robins, I choose their seats accordingly. Drinks are always after their meal. Every night we have two assigned dish washers. One washes and one drys. I have also eliminated any kitchen squabble during this time because it's one at a time during their chore. The dish list is visible for every one to see which eliminates who's turn it is. For our teenagers (that sometimes are with their friends) I stated that you have to be here by 5pm for dinner or you miss out. Unless they're working or have a valuable excuse. I know I sound like I'm running a prison however I'm parenting a large complex family that needs this type of structure and routine. This is how we are happily coming together on a daily basis and on how we can go out for dinner. It starts at home. Funny.....many people ask about the flack I must get with some of our children hating their food and demanding something else. I know what our children hate and I won't torment them by forcing them to eat stewed heart, liver and onions. For example, some love spicy hot food and some don't. I do however cook tons of variety and I believe that their taste buds need to try new things before making these decisions. I often hear our children saying to each other, “This isn't a restaurant” So they know what I serve (at home) is what's on that nights plate. I'm proud to say that all of our children mostly like everything, and they're experimental. We are also very lucky that none of us have allergies or any extreme texture sensors. You know, as much as I make most of the menu decisions, I include our children too. I ask, “What would you like tomorrow if I could cook it?” Favorite surprises are always fun. I also will teach one on one cooking. I get a bit claustrophobic in my kitchen so another rule is, if you're not working in there, please stay out. Food....it is the number one biggest time, money, physical and emotional aspect in our lives and we have to structure it well. Not only am I very glad that I love to cook, I am happy that there is structure and routine around it. If I haven't written this before, this is a little inside peek on how we function as a larger complex family around meal time. What are you cooking tonight!? 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Food, food, food, food, FOOD!

Feeding a large family is actually simpler then you think!
In many of my future posts I'm going to explain how....
These are home made monkey pork dumplings!
Chinese New Year 2016! Year of the Monkey!

 The above picture is how our assembly line starts!
The below picture is how a Monday morning could look!
 I believe in learning to cook everything. I believe in "not liking something" but first you have to open up your taste buds and try it!
The below picture is my home made smoked salmon and avocado sushi! 
 For years and years I was cooking only four sandwiches at a time. Just recently I purchased a large skillet AND now I can cook twelve grilled cheese at the same time! Sometimes purchasing BIG pays off! 
 Sunny days equal lazier outside picnic days!
 Cinnamon buns are a favourite around here and they're always larger then my hand!
 A Canadian traditional is always easy! Ham, glazed carrots and mashed potatoes! 
 Very routined and organized. Dinner is at 5 pm every night. Every one eats mostly the same foods and sits together at the dinner table. 
 Hohnstein famous garlic cheese sticks! Did you know I put garlic in everything? In fact I'm craving some garlic popcorn!
 When you have lots of people to feed, you need to think about your time. When I cook eggs, I whip up dozens and I will bake with different meats, cheeses, you name it - the kitchen sink....then once cooled, I cut into squares. Easy. Makes great sandwiches! 
 Noodles are a favourite. Endless dishes!
 And of course the crock pot times two! I make a lot of East Indian curries, and Dhals over Basmati rice. 
 Now I don't drink wine. However......I have heard a glass of wine helps with cooking. True? I do know if you cook shrimp or prawns in Sambucca - it's excellent! And seen below, our one son is smiling because he loves to devour my cooking! I think that's a toast for me!

Stay tuned.....I will start adding full recipes and explain how I manage feeding our family seven days a week!