Tuesday, May 24, 2011

:: calgary's epicurious kids cookery ::

If your little one is a budding chef, you will want to know about the many classes offered by Epicurious Kids Cookery - a child-centred cooking school for children in Northwest Calgary. Owner Michelle Friese is excited to revolutionize the way children look at food, and looks forward to empowering them, through cooking, to eat healthier and have more fun at mealtimes.

If you would like an Epicurious Kids Monkey Muffins recipe to try at home, click here to print off this super kid-friendly PDF recipe.

What was your inspiration for opening this business?

There were two people who inspired me to open a cookery; my sister and my one-year-old daughter. My sister Sarah inspired me with an unexpected idea one afternoon while we were having lunch together. She told me about a show she had seen where children were attending a cooking school and not only having so much fun, but also enjoying their roasted butternut squash. They were actually eating vegetables they’d never try at home because they had a hand in the preparation! I immediately thought of my sister-in-law who faces an exhausting daily battle at mealtimes to entice my niece and nephews to eat even a few bites of veggies. 

Then we talked about why kids are more open to trying food they’ve made themselves. We reasoned that it likely has to do with developing a sensory connection with the ingredients and the food itself. It’s natural to be more strongly connected to food when your involved in the cooking process and benefit from satisfaction of completing a worthwhile task—and what a great self-esteem booster! Like most parents, I want my daughter to develop a healthy connection with food. Every time I went to the grocery store and chose what to buy for her to eat, I was struck more than ever with the importance of eating whole foods. My little girl became my inspiration for opening up to the reality of the bigger picture. The issue of whether or not to allow treats and if so when, led me to conclude that, as usual, balance and moderation is key.

From here, one idea led to another. Sarah really encouraged me to think about my experience in education and my love of cooking. She thought it would be a perfect fit. The idea of opening my own business scared me to death. I was on maternity leave and had a job I loved to go back to, but I couldn’t just dismiss it altogether. The more I thought about it, the more excited I became. The pieces of the puzzle all seemed to fall into place. After a few weeks of selling the idea to my husband, we decided that opening a cookery for young people was a dream worth pursuing. 

What types/ages of classes will be offered?

We’re going to start with single classes and 5-week courses that range from ages 3 to14. Our Sweet Peas course is designed for parents of children 3 to 5 years old to attend together. The Honeybees course is for ages 5 to 7, Sprouts is for ages 8 to 11, and Growing Gourmets course will be offered to young people 12-14. We will eventually open a Budding Chefs course for ages 15 to 17. Each course includes culinary skills that are age-appropriate and easy to follow graphic recipe cards for the younger levels.

We will offer a number of different classes and themes. There will be Edible Art classes to spark creativity and imagination as well as classes that focus on the fundamentals of cooking. Young chefs will also learn more about different cultures and traditions by experimenting with a variety of flavorful dishes. 

I’m also really excited about offering birthday parties at our kitchen studio. We have different packages and themes to choose from and will be adding more themes as we go.

If you could cook with any celebrity chef who would it be?

I would love the opportunity to cook with Jamie Oliver. He transformed the school food program in Britain and went on to host the TV show called Food Revolution. I’m in awe of him to be honest. His commitment to raising awareness about childhood and adult obesity to change and save lives seems so heart-felt and genuine. After watching this show, I found out that according to Alberta Health and Wellness, 29 % of children and youth are overweight or obese right here in our own province. What an eye-opener! Now I really want to do my part to promote healthy lifestyles to children who live in our communities. 

Would you like to share your favourite recipe?

My favorite recipes change with the seasons, but since it’s a cold and rainy day, I’d like to share and easy and delicious Thai soup that takes away the chills. I love Thai food, so this Coconut Lemongrass Chicken Soup is one of my favorites.

1 pound of boneless chicken breasts
2 stalks of lemongrass
4 quarter sized slices of ginger slightly crushed
4 cups of chicken broth
1 can (400 ml) of coconut milk
3 tablespoons of fish sauce
2 teaspoons of brown sugar
3 tablespoons of lime juice
Zest from ½ a lime
1 fresh jalapeno chili, seeded and sliced thin
3 tablespoons of chopped cilantro

(for a vegetarian version, substitute chicken with firm tofu and chicken broth with vegetable broth)

· Thinly slice the chicken
· Use the dull side of a chef knife to slightly crush the bottom 6 inches of the lemongrass. Cut off and discard what is left over.
· Put lemongrass, ginger, and broth in a medium pot and bring to a boil.
· Reduce heat to simmer and add coconut milk, fish sauce, and sugar
· Simmer for about 10 minutes
· Add the chicken, limejuice, lime zest, and chili. Stir and let simmer for 5 minutes or until chicken turns opaque.
· Stir in Cilantro just before serving.
· Enjoy!

:: a few of my favourite books ::

Normally, I love to relax with a nice novel, but lately I have discovered a few non-fiction books that have really changed the way I organize, think about happiness, and manage my time. Have you read any great non-fiction books lately?

{Click on the book image to grab these titles on Amazon}

I have been reading Unclutterer blog for a few years now and I absolutely LOVE this book by editor Erin Rooney Doland. It's full of simple, no nonsense ideas to get your work and home life uncluttered and organized in 7 short days... or weeks if you have a "helpful" toddler following you around and undoing all your hard work!

I have read this book twice now and regularly visit author Gretchen Rubin's blog. It gives great perspective on the idea of happiness and some simple ways to increase your happiness in your everyday life. I often find myself thinking of her mantras on particularly grouchy days - so it really works!

As evidenced by my sporadic blog posting during particularly busy weeks, my time management is not always the best. I loved this book by author Laura Vandekram (you can read her blog here) about how the most successful people use their 168 hours each week. It has inspired me to watch much less TV and to try and be more intentional with my online time. My RescueTimer has helped with that too!

p.s I finally created an amazon store after it has sat on my to-do list for months! You can check out all of my favourite reads for big & small here.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

:: on my summer diy list ::

I posted yesterday about having more ideas than time and it's so true this time of year. I'm in the final stretch to the end of the school year and there has been precious little time for blogging and creating lately. 

That doesn't mean that I have stopped checking my google reader for inspiration though. I love my Google Reader - it's an addiction. Inspiration overload most days actually.

My Evernote is chock-full of things I want to blog about and ideas for fun projects to work on this summer. Here are a few I spotted this week on Ohdeedoh:

Love this dresser concept from Dezeen. I am thinking I could do something similar with a garage sale find this summer. Perhaps painting on the clothing silhouettes on the drawers, or cutting them from my oodles of wallpaper samples?  Should come in handy once H wants to start dressing himself - though he really prefers to be sans clothing these days!

These would freshen up my fridge, and would make a great gift for grandparents (though they would have to get out the reading glasses to see them!)

This chalkboard table would be so easy to create using a thrifted or garage sale treasure. It could bring summer fun indoors once the weather goes cold again.....why am I even thinking about that?

I will also need an excuse to make these 5-minute cake pops that Lindsay posted about. Hint: they are made with an oh-so Canadian inside. Head to little house blog for the full tutorial

What is on your summer project list?

Friday, May 13, 2011

:: no-drip yogurt pops in the sunshine ::

Is there anything more perfect than a delicious popsicle in the sunshine? We just enjoyed a lovely evening watching Hunter play, giggle and run in our little postage stamp yard.

It was the perfect beginning to a weekend of dreaming about landscaping the space. I am looking forward to a bit of organizing and shopping for our soon to be constructed patio and vegetable garden.

As for the popsicle in H's hand, my mom used to make us yogurt popsicles all the time in the summer. She loved them because they take a looooong time to melt and don't drip - perfect for a kid that continues to play in his little car, water table and soccer while slowly working on his popsicle!

They are so easy to make and very adaptable to whatever you have in your freezer. All you need is:
-  yogurt (I love Liberte!)
-  frozen fruit (I used blackberries and blueberries this time)

Just blend it all up and pour into the molds. You can add a bit of honey to enhance the sweetness of the fruit, but H is happy with them as-is!

I am considering buying some new molds though, maybe with a drip tray and perhaps a bit smaller. I found these on Amazon. Any favourites in your home?

After looking on Amazon's American website, I discovered a few more intriguing possibilities that aren't on the Canadian site. I would love to find these in from a Canadian source. Have you seen them around in your shopping adventures online or in stores? I am especially partial to the ice cream cone ones! I think H would be able to hold on to those better than the sticks. Thoughts? 

Orka Ice Pop Molds

Tovolo Ice Cream Pop Molds

Tovolo Rocket Pop Molds

Tovolo Freezer Jewel Pops

Sunday, May 8, 2011

:: happy mother's day ::

To my Mom,

who always has the biggest baby-crazed smile in every picture with us

who shared a lifelong dream with me - tea at the empress - 4 years ago

who couldn't wait to meet her first grandchild 

Who couldn't believe how strong he was at one day old.

Who loves to cuddle, kiss and squeeze him every chance she gets.

Thank you. I love you even more today, now that I am a mother too.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

:: printable alphabet banner - i love you ::

I was browsing through my friend Sarah's blog yesterday and stumbled on the link to this fabulous printable bunting alphabet from Ruffled Blog. You can print out each letter and spell out any message you please. Happy Mother's Day, I Love You, your child's name.....the possibilities are endless.

I have printed out Je t'aime.....to be used in my students' presentation at our Mother's Day Tea. Should be a very cute tribute to les mamans!