it’s a start.

I have spent the last two years grappling with a particular fear.

You could argue (and you wouldn’t be the first) that my fear is essentially unfounded, and that the odds of the thing that I dread actually coming to pass are so minimal that what I am feeling could more accurately be described as paranoia; but nevertheless, it’s there:

I am afraid of being attacked by predators in our local park.

The park is vast and beautiful, and I used to spend hours upon hours there. From the time of my first pregnancy, I have run through it, walked around it, thrown sticks for the dog, eaten ice cream, fed ducks, visited the zoo, gone sledding, and all around revelled in that park.

It’s part of the reason that we chose to live in this neighbourhood, and it’s full to bursting with memories of happy moments.

I could not have imagined a time when my children and I would not while away a large part of our days there, until two years ago, when a dear friend was attacked and killed by predators in the kind of freak encounter that makes international headlines. It didn’t happen in our park, but, to my mind, it could have.

So, to keep myself safe, I have skirted around it – the park, the grief, the horror. I just don’t go there. My running route takes me well around it, and I visit smaller playgrounds with my kids. Instead of the zoo, we take the car to a farm across town.

I don’t think it’s been so bad. But I have been feeling, lately, that something has to give.

So this morning, I met up with another dear friend of mine who has been grappling with some rather weighty concerns of her own. It was pitch dark and pouring rain, and we walked her dog all through that park, chatting all the while. It was wet and muddy and intense, and I was afraid, but mostly it was great.

I loved reconnecting with her, and getting back to a place that has meant so much to me.

It was a start.

I slipped in the door to the sound of my children laughing and the smell of cookies baking in the oven, and not long after that, the sun came out on the most glorious fall day we’ve had yet.

I can’t wait to do it again.

 

Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

1c light spelt flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
3 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
2 eggs
6 tbsp. melted coconut oil – or other light-tasting vegetable oil
1 1/2c unsweetened apple sauce
1/2c brown sugar
grated zest of 2 oranges
1 tbsp vanilla
3c large flake oats
1c craisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.

In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together eggs, oil apple sauce, and brown sugar. Stir in zest, vanilla, oats, and craisins. Add flour mixture and stir well to combine.

Drop heaping quarter cupfuls of dough onto prepared baking sheets, and flatten cookies slightly with a fork. Bake, one sheet at a time, about 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool completely on baking sheets.

Makes 16-18 cookies.

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of sweethearts and stars.


Well, hello there!

I can scarcely believe that, in effect, an entire season has just passed without my contributing a thing around here.

I have been trying to figure out how to address this last epic silence from my end; as these things go, the longer I thought about it, the more ambivalent I was about addressing it at all, and then the silence itself started to feel so insurmountable that I nearly gave up on the idea of blogging altogether.

But then, December arrived, and my husband returned home after months of (more and less) lengthy absences.

And, just like that, the festive season began around here.

My children woke up this morning to the first real snow of the season, and I woke up to the promise of a long bath, a new magazine, and coffee drunk while it is still hot.

Friends, we have so much to catch up on!

Sunday Stars
Even while single-parenting, I can’t resist the outlook-changing lure of a fresh-baked breakfast. I have been using spelt or light spelt flour of late, but for these I tried a combination of light spelt, coconut, and whole wheat flours, because that is all I had on hand!

1c large flake oats
3/4c buttermilk
1 1/2c flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 stick (1/2c) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/4c brown sugar
1 large ripe banana, mashed
1/4c chocolate chips
1/4c craisins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Combine oats and buttermilk in a glass measuring cup, stir well, and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and a pinch of salt, if desired. Cut in butter and brown sugar until mixture is fairly uniform and resembles small peas.

Add oat mixture, banana, chocolate chips and craisins to bowl and stir just to combine into a sloppy dough. Turn out onto a well-floured piece of parchment and knead 3-4 times to help the dough come together a bit.

Roll (using a well-floured rolling pin) or pat dough into a round about an inch thick. Cut out shapes using an approximately 3″ cookie or biscuit cutter. Place biscuits on prepared baking sheet; re-roll or pat the dough and cut out more shapes, until you’ve filled the baking sheet – I usually get somewhere in the neighbourhood of 16-18 biscuits.

Bake 18-20 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Cool a few minutes on pan, then transfer to a rack and serve very warm, while the chocolate is still gooey.


the most important meal.


If you were under the impression that my family and I are subsisting on breakfast foods and baked goods these days, you wouldn’t be far wrong.

I have been managing to cobble together some decent – even inspired – dinners, which isn’t hard to do given the bounty of seasonal produce; and I have banished the cereal supper for the time being, which makes me disproportionately pleased with myself.

But on full, full days like the ones I’ve been having (and will continue to have for the next couple of weeks, I expect), the evening meal isn’t what keeps me going.

Most of my good times in the kitchen have been happening in the earliest part of the day, before it gets too hot and muggy and while what is required of me for the next twelve or so hours seems almost reasonable.

I have been using the fact that my baby is still nursing as an excuse for waking and baking relentlessly, and I have also been getting a lot of mileage out of these pancakes – wonderful for breakfast, a decent mid-morning snack, and not bad slathered with peanut butter for lunch or late at night, either.

Oatmeal Pancakes
adapted from Orangette
You must start these the night before, which I find more thrilling than onerous, but I recognize that not everyone may feel that way…

1 1/2c whole oats
2 1/4c buttermilk
1/2c whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2c butter OR coconut oil, melted and cooled

Combine oats and buttermilk in a mixing bowl; stir well, so that all of the oatmeal is submerged in the buttermilk, then cover and refrigerate over night.

The next day, sift together flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a small bowl.

Whisk together brown sugar, eggs, and melted butter (or coconut oil) in a small bowl. Add egg mixture to buttermilk mixture, and stir well to combine.

Fold flour mixture into wet ingredients – do this gently, but make sure everything is well combined.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Brush lightly with a little oil, and then, when the pan is hot enough, add the batter by 1/4 cupsful (I get two pancakes per batch in my pan). Flip pancakes when they are looking dry around the edges, after 3 minutes or so. Cook a further few minutes, until golden, then transfer to a plate and place in the warm oven while you get on with the rest.

Makes 14 pancakes.