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Oh, my gosh, I’ve been missing

snowyfield Well, ‘missing in action’ does not even begin to describe my lack of posting. We’ve been busy-busy (as have everyone else at this time of the year, but we have birthdays as well as the usual holidays so it’s been a veritable factory here at Chez Siberia.

And the elves are all out on strike so it’s up to us.

A bit of update:
First, yes, we finished the bunkbeds and they are lovely, thank you very much.
However, here is another big lesson on making something like this. Before you get started, it’s always a very handy thing (and cuts down on the frustration later) if you take some measurements – such as, floor to ceiling height in the bedroom and (even more importantly) stair to any ceiling obstruction because getting something like this (even in the knock-down state) up a flight of stairs can be a real issue.stairceiling To be blunt, we gulped and cut several inches off the bottom legs, which ended up being a very good choice indeed since the ceiling in the bedroom (who remembered? We certainly did not) is actually quite…short. However, the kids love the bunks and they are working though we seem to have an issue with convincing certain members of the younger set that trying to stand up and bounce in the upper bunk is not a good idea.

But they look pretty darned good.finished1 We’d make some design changes if we ever get the chance to do it again but these will work until probably the kids are in their teens when they will probably no longer want to come spend the night at the Grand-‘rents in any case. (sniff)

Another thing which has been a long-term holiday project has been pulling together all the ‘dainties’ for far-flung family members. As you recall, we made our own vanilla extract earlier vanilla and orange extract. We also wanted to put something in the box that was edible and we bought some dried fruits and dipped them in chocolate (ok, DH family – there are no surprises here, ok?), which turned out a) really easy and b) very yummy.chocapricots Now, you can do this with the microwave, but I’m pretty old fashioned, so I used a pot with an insert. Just put water in the bottom, bring it to a simmer and melt down the chocolate (anything will do but a bag of the disks which are made for dipping and molding are very easy to use and you have your choice of milk chocolate, dark chocolate and things which bear a slight resemblance to chocolate but are different colors).

Something else (there is always something else) which I’ve been trying to do more of during the holiday season, is eat more vegetables and more vegetarian dishes. Everyone puts on their absolute best and richest foods at this time of the year and sometimes, I just..well, the digestion just does not work as well as it should so throwing a bit more roughage (as my dear departed Mum used to call it) down into the tank is always a good idea. Here are two ideas – one which is a discovery (thank you daughter the younger) and one which is more of an old favorite.

roastedvegDiscovery: roasted veggies
We spent a week with the ‘across the pond’ portion of the family in the fall and my daughter one night made an absolutely yummy dish of roasted potatoes, carrots and parsnips. Now, we won’t get into the whole hilarity of the shock and awe of my never having eaten a parsnip in my life, but a lightbulb certainly went on here and I made a big pan of roasted carrots and brussels sprouts at Thanksgiving. If you have never tried roasting veggies, it’s a great thing to do with not only brussels sprouts but root vegetables of any sort because it brings out the sugars which are stored in the roots – so beets, carrots, parsnips, and so on are great candidates.

How to do it:
Big baking pan, greased
Cut up vegetables (try to make them the same thickness so that they will cook pretty much the same)
A sprinkle of olive oil

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Sprinkle your veggies with olive oil and put into the pan and shake the pan so that you basically have an even layer in the bottom. Put into the oven and cook for about 20 minutes. Take out the pan and toss the veggies and return to the oven. Cook another 10 minutes and check the veggies with a fork (you want the fork to go in pretty easily). Keep cooking for 10 minutes at a time until the fork goes in and then serve.

blackbeansandkaleCaribbean Black Beans (another twist on an old favorite)
Two cans of black beans, drained and rinsed well (or, if you do the whole soak overnight and cook thing, you’ll want 3-4 cups of beans)
One bell pepper, diced
One cup of chopped onions
2 stalks of celery, chunked up
2 cloves of smashed garlic
2 cups of chopped greens (I went out to the garden and grabbed a couple of handfuls of kale leaves off the plants under the snow, but spinach, chard or anything like that will work)
One big can of crushed tomatoes
1 tsp of cumin
1.5 tsp of garum marsala (which I used because I have it)
A big handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
A couple of good stiff grates of black pepper

Put a good slug of olive oil into a big sauce pan or frying pan. Add the onions, garlic, celery, and pepper until they are soft. Then add the black beans, spices, greens and tomatoes and cook through.

This works well served with rice and a salad or with warmed over tortillas and a salad or, if you just want a chip and dip sort of thing, take tortillas, bake them at 350 degrees F for 5 min. (you want them not to get burned but get firm enough to break up into pieces), break them up and serve with the dish of black beans and veggies.

Have a happy holiday season and take a moment or two to sit down and give whoever’s closest a good cuddle.

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One Comment

  1. Shiphrah says:

    The kiddos will always want to spend the night with the grand’rents, never fear. Their own parents? Not so much.

    My own take on roasted roots is to add a hefty pinch of whatever herb is handy to the mix of whatever. And to sprinkle with lemon juice in the last 10-15 minutes or so. I actually get people bleating for them. Especially carrots, potatoes, and – get this – beets.

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