Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Play-dates, Family Day and our version of the slow food movement

Play Dates

It can be surprisingly difficult to plan a play date for an 8 month old.  Remember how I used to complain that the only way I could get Finley to sleep was to take him out for walk after walk?  Well before I open my big mouth again, I have to remind myself to be careful what I wish for!  Whereas 3 month old Finley was about as portable as could be (not to mention his food source, which was conveniently attached to my torso), we are now fairly house-bound by his schedule.  Between naps and eating "real" food, there is little time to get out for big adventures these days.  Planning a play date is even harder, as all babies seem to have different nap & eating schedules, so you have to try to juggle to needs of more than one little dictator.  It can be tough!

But last week we managed a few social gatherings for Finley.  The first was a play date with his friend Bradley.  Bradley is one month older, and is incredibly mobile.  About 4 months ago I was amazed to see Bradley inch-worm himself across the room in about 10 seconds flat.  For those of you who don't know your baby developmental milestones by rote, inch-worming at 5 months is really advanced!  Now Bradley crawls at break-neck speed, pulls himself to standing and cruises along furniture.  Finley was watching his moves pretty closely & has been braver these last few days.  

I've pretty much got this crawling thing down!
When you've got two busy babies and two hungry mommies in the house, it's hard to take photos.  So I really only snapped this one before Bradley arrived, and none of the actual play date!  

Family Day

Adding a holiday in the middle of February was a super smart thing to do - thank you government of B.C!  I'm not complaining, but you'd think that the provinces could've given each other a quick call to try to coordinate the weekends.  For us BC folk, we just celebrated Family Day.  And what nicer way to celebrate than with our lovely family, and with some great family friends!

Morning faces!
Brunch with 3 babies, one three-year old and 6 adults.  Happy Family Day!

We've had weeks and weeks of unseasonably dry weather - it was actually dusty when we went for a mountain bike ride on the weekend!  But the white stuff arrived yesterday, so we wrapped up Family Day with a lovely family walk.

Cookbook challenge honorable mentions

I have been keeping up with my cooking resolution, but I have not accomplished any new challenges.  I think the following deserve some honourable mentions, though - they were new recipes for me, but the books have already been represented in the cookbook challenge:

  • Curried Coconut Chicken Soup from Art of the Slow Cooker by Andrew Schloss.  Delicious and perfect meal for a mid-week play date!
  • Potato Frittata with Feta and Scallions (AND BACON) from Smitten Kitchen by Deb Perelman.  If I were the author of this recipe I would have made sure that everyone knew, in no uncertain terms, that this frittata also has bacon in it.  Why would you not spell that out?!  At any rate, it does, and it was well enjoyed at our brunch
  • Wok-Stirred Curry-Ginger Beef and Leeks from Simply Ming by Ming Tsai.  I sort of messed up on the instructions of this one (didn't notice that my first ingredient was supposed to cool for a 4 hours or overnight before using it… guess I should have started before 6pm!), but it still tasted good!

Some thoughts on food, or "let's slow down & eat!"

I enjoy cooking, but mostly it's because I enjoy good food.  When I was in university my friend Julie and I met an acquaintance, Dara, for brunch one day.  Dara had just come back from Vietnam and she was telling us all about her travels.  She told us this story of a couple she'd met who were travelling around Southeast Asia on food tour: "Who would travel around the world just to try different foods?!" she asked in disbelief.  Julie and I looked at each other and stared blankly at her.  Who wouldn't!?

I would do that for sure!  When I travel I love to try the local specialities.  This habit has got me into trouble a few times, but mostly it's been a great experience!  Food is so intricately tied to culture, so it's a fabulous way to learn about the place you are visiting.  Most local people like to show off their specialities, so it's a great way to start  conversation and get to know people too.  Even if I am travelling to places who's culture is not that different from my own (a weekend trip to Seattle, a girls' trip to San Francisco), I spent lots of time reading about which are the recommended restaurants & local favourites.

Food experiment gone right: traditional spread at Ryokan in Japan

Italy: where food experiments never go wrong.
Unless you try to eat this entire plate of the best seafood pasta ever cooked
"Food" experiment gone wrong…. 
Vodka in Poland

Eating food together is an important part of any culture.  We live in such a fast-paced world these days, so it's easy to think of eating as just another thing that we have to get done.  With so much going on, it's temping just to grab something quick.  I was lucky to grow up in a house with amazing home-cooked food and quality family dinner time.  We were a busy family, but most nights we would all cram into our tiny kitchen table nook for dinner together.  I hope to do the same in our house, as it's such a great time to sit down as a family to talk & spend time together.  Having friends over for a holiday brunch feels so luxurious and relaxing.  It's rejuvenating to slow things down & just enjoy great food & great company.

Even though Finley is only 8 months old, I believe that in order to enjoy eating, he needs to have some independence in the process.  So I've been encouraging him to enjoy finger foods such as tofu, bread with tahini spread, pieces of fruit.  Sometimes he grabs the spoon to feed himself, and though the food is more likely to get on the table, the floor, or the mommy than in his mouth, I still think it's good to let him try!  So I will have to start wearing a bib myself and have lots of extra spoons around.

I know I've got bread in my hair, I'm saving it for later!

Tofu grins!

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