Some Food Tricks below the Red Cape

IMG_2399Work/Life balance.  Not so much a gentle seesaw sway, more of a spinning top.  One that spins so fast it blurs the vision, the definition.   At this point, it’s a concept to strive for, not one representing reality.  I keep repeating an inner mantra, “I am not my job.”  It’s kind of not working.

I’m stubborn.  [gearhead edits: that’s an understatement].  I insist, despite the hairy work schedule and the kid’s activities [wife edits: I’m not one of those mums that overscheduled their kids – I strive for balance in their lives too – they each get one activity, except one seems to have 4 practices a week!], cooking a healthy meal and that our family sit down together [at the table!} to eat together, each evening. [wife edits: holy run on sentence batman].  [Gearhead edits: you lost me somewhere in the middle].

IMG_2397Trying to do all this: work, family, cook, clean [wife edits: not so good at this one], women are awarded a new badge of honour, a new label: Super Mom.  Except the label doesn’t make me feel better [wife edits: okay, maybe it would if it came with a red silk suit that had magical spanx powers. I’d look like a million bucks instead a deranged lunatic!]  But I digress.  Here’s some tricks I keep under my red, super mom cape {goes-to-eleven: is it red because you’re mad?] [wife edits: No…Yes.].

To begin, I plan the week’s meals on the weekend.  I don’t like to cook this way.  I’m really a mood eater, as in, what do I feel like eating?  I prefer to look in my fridge and be inspired by the raw ingredients, to challenge myself to create delicious art from a series of leftovers.  I don’t cook like that so much anymore.  Instead I plan a dinner for each day of the week and then I grocery shop to make sure I have the ingredients on hand.  This has the added benefits of being less expensive and wasting less food (I take leftovers in to work for lunch).  Both good things.

For nights when I know we’ll be eating late, I reserve quickie meals – things like pasta, or making something with eggs.  The explicit goal is dinner on the table in less than 20 minutes.

I take any opportunity to double cook – that means I will often cook enough for one meal and freeze the rest for another time.  Braised things are good for this, so are quiche, shepherd’s pie, lasagna, soup etc.

I try to do a roast, or use the oven on a Sunday and I’ll roast extra vegetables that can be heated quickly through the week.

These tricks seem to help us limp along through the weeks.  But I also have a fewIMG_2395 quickie snacks to make the kids for their lunches.  Here’s where the banana muffins come in – not a foreign recipe to most, but this version uses all whole wheat flour and oats so it’s good and healthy too (and doesn’t taste like it).

You know things aren’t going too well when someone asks you, after your presentation  to the epidemiology department, how you do it all, and you answer that you do everything half assed [wife edits: did I just swear to the entire graduate student body and faculty?].  You know it’s worse when, later, you relay this to a friend and they point out that if you were a man, you would never have been asked that question.  Here’s some very interesting links that relate to that: an op-ed piece by Anne-Marie Slaughter, and a cbc documentary building off the article.

IMG_2396I made these muffins on Sunday.  They were gone by Tuesday.  I then made cookies to incent staff at work to attend my journal club on Thursday.  Leaving the house with a full cookie tin, I heard the gearhead, dripping with sarcasm, “I see you didn’t make any cookies for us!”  I must remember to confirm with our counselor whether homicidal thoughts are just the body’s natural way of ridding itself of toxins.  I’m sure that’s the case…

Whole Wheat Oat Banana Muffins (makes 12 muffins)

1 ¼ cups (300 g) whole wheat flour

1 ¼ (300g) cup oats

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

3-4 ripe bananas (about 2 cups mashed)

2/3 cup (160g) sugar

1/3 cup (80g) unsalted butter, melted

1 egg

1 cup (240g) chocolate chips or blueberries, fresh or frozen, or nuts such as pecans or walnuts  (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C).  Line a muffin tin with muffin cup inserts, or alternatively, butter the insides of the muffin tin.

Combine the dry ingredients , flour through salt, in a medium sized mixing bowl and set aside.

In a second, larger bowl, mash the bananas with a fork or potato masher.  Add the sugar and melted butter and stir to combine.  Crack the egg in a small bowl and mix it up with a fork, then add that to the banana mixture.

Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture, stirring until just combined.  Try not to over mix at this point.  If you would like, add a cup of chocolate chips or blueberries or nuts (optional).

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling the tins to the top and using all the batter for the 12 muffins (don’t get out and dirty an extra tin).  Place the filled muffin tin in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes (this varies with the amount of banana – may need more time – but check the muffins at 20 minutes or so to gauge timing).


This entry was published on January 17, 2014 at 7:42 am and is filed under Little things to eat. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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