Well wishes for the mothers

So many of you readers are mothers like me, in the thick of it every day, raising little people. Whether your children are grown or small, today is your day.

So take a breath, set aside the to-do list for now, and cherish your time with your kids. They do grow up so fast.

Friends and daughtes on Mother's DayAll images by Tim Chin

I am so blessed to have a close group of friends of mothers and future mothers who inspire me all the time. Their support means the world to me. Sometimes a girl just needs to vent about parenting a five year old or waking up with a baby, and my mama-friends always listen and offer encouragement.

We’re all so different in our approaches to parenting – childbirth, education, discipline – but that is what keeps our conversations lively. We have a mutual respect for each other and a commitment to honestly that is essential for maintaining a friendship as moms, not just girlfriends.

When it comes to parenting, I feel I am learning day by day. These wise words from Diane Loomans, however, are some that I try to apply in my everyday existence:

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Holiday Gift Guide 2012 – Food Memoirs And Non-Fiction

It was food writer Molly O’Neil who said that food preferences, habits and rituals are also intimate windows into disparate cultures, classes, eras and places. We see this clearly between the pages of our favorite food memoirs, the latest, hottest coming-of-age stories.

This year I’ve traveled to Berlin with Luisa Weiss in My Berlin Kitchen, I donned chef whites and piped buttercream alongside Jenna Weber in White Jacket Required, and I ducked behind the scenes of Top Chef with Gail Simmons in Talking with My Mouth Full – and all from under a quilt on my sofa.

I’ve fallen hard for food memoirs and non-fiction this year, reigniting a love that began with Kitchen Confidential and Ruth Reichl’s books a many years ago.

I’m sharing a few of my favorites today; they’re certain to make a perfect Christmas gift for the foodie in the family.

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Home for the Holidays: WhyHunger

It is an honour to share with you a charitable cause that is near and dear to my heart, as today across SLM, we spotlight six nonprofits that we think are special. (I hope you’ll take a moment to check them out!)

WhyHunger is a nonprofit organization finding practical answers to the problems of hunger and poverty by connecting people to food and by supporting grassroots organizations. Feeding the hungry? I can’t think of a better cause to embrace here on Simple Bites.

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Honey Pomegranate Glazed Brussels Sprouts

All of the Thanksgiving dinners we attend (three in total, the first happening back in October) are large, with the total mouths-to-feed count hovering around 25. As such, no one person is ever left with the sole responsibility of making a meal to feed the crowd. Instead, we communally share the job, signing up for dishes and drinks, each bringing the classics or surprising everyone with a bit of a twist and a deviation from the norm.

There will always be plenty of green bean casserole, and the hosting party provides a giant roast bird, possibly even a ham depending on the side of the family. Warmed bread is served slathered in soft butter, and a bright array of side salads and vegetables run down the center of the table. Potatoes are mashed and aunts and cousins argue over whether they should be laced with garlic or kept plain jane for their gravy river.

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My Thanksgiving weekend plans

My scribbled list for the long weekend ahead holds a healthy mix of work and play, in fact, most To-Do items overlap in an enjoyable blend of domestic duties and favorite fall pastimes.

There are Cortland apples to be picked and later sauced with cranberries; I’ve got a canning swap on the calendar ahead and need a few dozen jars of fruit butter to exchange. So we’ve penciled in an orchard outing with friends and there will be a hay ride and apple pie too, of course. It’s Thanksgiving weekend after all.

The ‘coons have been in my beet patch, enough of a prompt to get the rest of the root vegetables harvested. Autumn is my ideal time to garden, with scarlet leaves under my feet, an invigorating wind blowing, and the whispers of winter haunting the earth with patches of early morning hoarfrost. The chill in the air is the perfect excuse to light a campfire and warm hands that have been burrowing in the damp soil to bury tulip bulbs.

My trusty black canning pot sits on the floor of the kitchen where Clara can crawl over at least five or six times a day and beat her hand on its lid like a drum. This weekend, however, it will be simmering on the stove, ready to welcome a few dozen jars of preserves. I have a case of tomatoes threatening to spoil if I don’t roast them into a sauce rightthisminute, a spiced pear & ginger chutney to jar up, and the aforementioned cran-apple butter to set in motion. It’s going to smell exceedingly good in my kitchen. [Read more…]