Saturday, March 26, 2011

Crab Dip

I read Ree’s post about crab dip and I’d forgotten how much I love it. And while I’m sure that her recipes are divine, I have a tried and true recipe of my own. It’s based on a lobster dip recipe from Dee Carstarphen’s book “Windjammer Cooking” (Pen and Ink Press 1989). If you don’t happen to have leftover steamed lobster lying around your house, as for some reason is usually (always) the case at my house, then canned crab meat makes an adequate substitute for the lobster in this dip recipe. Ideally, the dip needs to “age” a few hours in the fridge before eating, for the flavours to blend together but if you can make it without eating half of it before it ages, you are a better person than I am.

The first time I had this dip, the lobster version, was aboard the Maine schooner Lewis R French, one afternoon after the weekly lobster bake.  In my journal I wrote: " The winds really picked up later in the afternoon, kicking spray over the side of the schooner and I had to put on all kinds of layers to keep warm in the wind. The appetizer was about 10 pounds of lobster dip. We had to tie the crackers down after they went flying and Captain Dan said he wasn't going to anchor until we'd finished all the dip. No problem. "

Crab Dip (adapted from Dee Carstarphen's Windjammer Cooking)
1 block light cream cheese, softened
1 can crab meat, drained (unless you have 3-4 oz of steamed, chopped lobster to use instead)
3 tbsp mayonnaise (I use Hellman’s)
1/8 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp horseradish
1 tbsp sherry
2-3 green onions, chopped
Dash of cayenne

Add all the ingredients into a bowl and stir until well blended. Adjust the seasonings to taste. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow the flavours to blend. Serve with crackers or vegetables.

Monday, March 21, 2011


A little bit ago, I read David’s post about how to be a better blogger. And I’m taking some of the advice to heart so you’ll be seeing some changes here at mummydinosaur.

As I’ve had comments from some lovely people I don’t know personally but only through the blog world, I’m changing the way I refer to my family. My husband’s new moniker for blogging purposes is Skinny Man (SM). And I’ll refer to our son as either our boy, or our son. Because people who don’t know us won’t know who D or T refers to. (D is my husband, T is our boy for those of you reading older posts).

You might wonder how I came up with Skinny Man as a persona for my husband. Well, he’s been my Skinny Man since we met nearly 9 years ago. He’s long and lanky and much taller than I am. The nickname became official when I drew a comic of us entitled “Skinny Man and Sweater Girl go off on another adventure”. And the same comic was transformed to become part of our wedding invitation and some (lucky) friends and family got the caption – “Skinny Man and Sweater Girl are getting married”.

We had three captions for the invitations just to mix things up. You can do that when you are such a Bridezilla that you make your own invitations.

So now that I’ve admitted to the nickname Sweater Girl you might wonder why this blog is called mummy dinosaur. Well, around the time I started this blog, I would play dinosaurs with our boy and he was boy dinosaur and I was mummy dinosaur. I didn’t think it would be a blog name that was already taken and I was right. So I became mummy dinosaur. (It is also a reference that I’m an older mummy and sometimes feel like a dinosaur when among other mummies).

So that is us, our little family.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Strawberry almond crumble

It is so easy to take good fortune for granted. There are times in all of our lives, when we live through trying times. Most people never experience the kind of massive devastation we’ve been seeing on the news from Japan, or on a smaller scale recently, Christchurch, NZ.  I can only watch the suffering on the news and contribute to the Canadian Red Cross.  It goes to show that at any moment, our lives can be thrown off course. By nature, illness, acts of violence, accidents or a phone call or doctor’s visit that turns lives upside down. Our little family remains so blessed in good fortune while some close to us have been thrown off course. So it’s been a bit unbalancing.

This week marked the anniversary of the death of my beloved mum. I still miss her so. My lovely man left me a sunny bouquet to cheer me on the day.

(Say it – awwwww). It made the heartache ease for a moment and gave me a smile. And I’ve been hit with the cold/flu thing going around so haven’t been my normal self – I’ve been snarky, short tempered and weepy – none of which I find attractive in myself which adds irritation to the underlying heartache. So it hasn’t been a stellar time. But to gain my balance a bit, I retreated to the kitchen. I've been inspired by these posts but didn't manage to cook those recipes yet. This week I managed to make a batch of low acid tomato sauce, a large vegetarian moussaka, a loaf of bread and strawberry almond crumble.

The strawberry almond crumble recipe is from Nigella Lawson’s newest book – Kitchen. I love the way Nigella writes, as if I were sitting in her kitchen and she was chatting away to me. And I love this recipe. So far I’ve made it with last year’s strawberries from the freezer, raspberries from the freezer, blueberries, my own canned peaches and the huge, somewhat woody version of strawberries that are in the stores currently.

Each version has been delicious. A sweet mix of cooked fruit, sugar, almonds and vanilla that warms the soul.

I think my man would eat it every day if he could.

Friday, March 18, 2011

a birthday dinner

Last week was my husband's birthday and when I asked him what he would like for dinner, he replied "I don't suppose you could do that pasta with capers and olives and sundried tomatoes that you made for me the first time you made me dinner?" That sounded great except as I've noted before the first meal I ever made him was chicken and veggies in peanut sauce with wild and brown rice. So, wondering a bit where he'd eaten this caper olive pasta (and I have made them during our time together) I thought I would give it a try for dinner, using whatever ingredients I had in my kitchen. I found capers and some home oven dried tomatoes, some asparagus and mushrooms and some goat cheese. So I made a pasta dish. When my birthday husband ate it, he announced it was "fine". Not the ringing endorsement I had hoped for. But I thought it was good. But my man did eat his weight in the pasta that night so either he was very, very hungry or he did enjoy it more than he let on (and he wasn't in the best of moods that evening, having had some technology challenges earlier in the day which frustrated him no end).

Caper Oven-Dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Pasta with Asparagus

3 tbsp butter
1 small onion, sliced
6 large button mushrooms
1 tbsp capers
1 small bunch asparagus (broken into ~ 3 pcs per stalk)
~ 1/2 c oven dried tomatoes, crushed or ground in a spice mill
8 oz goat cheese
basil, garlic, pepper
1 lb of whole wheat pasta - I used spagetti

In a large pot, cook the pasta to al dente. Drain and set aside the pasta water.

In a large skillet, melt the butter and heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the butter is a bit browned. Add the onion and mushrooms and cook for about 5-8 minutes until the mushrooms start to take on a bit of colour. Add the capers, asparagus and tomatoes and heat, stirring to keep from sticking. Stir in the goat cheese and add some of the pasta water, about a 1/4 c at a time to melt the cheese and meld everything together. Cover and simmer until the asparagus is mostly cooked. Toss the pasta into the sauce and add the seasonings to taste. Serve with grated parmesan.

And for dessert, I made peach almond crumble. This is my man's new favorite dessert.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

ups and downs

Are all 5 year olds as dramatic as mine? I wonder. We go from having the “bestest” day ever to having the “worstest” day ever. I’m either the best mummy in the world or the worst. It depends.

Last weekend was the final day of our boy’s street soccer. My Skinny Man and myself have been standing on the sidelines watching small boys run around after a soccer ball since last October, in all weathers (rain, howling wind, snow) because the only time the games were cancelled was when the field was actually covered in snow. Our boy started off slowly, in the beginning he was one of the kids digging holes in the grass or trying to dismantle the net but gradually, with lots of encouragement from us and the coaches, he started to participate. He’s not a great team contributor yet, but he’s out there running around every week, which is all I really want for him right now. As last Saturday was the last week of the season, the coaches all dressed up in funny clothes and played silly soccer games with the kids which they all enjoyed. And at the end of the hour, all the kids got a cupcake and a trophy. Our boy was so excited with his trophy. He took it out of the box on the car ride home and examined it. “Look mummy. It has stars on it. They must think I’m a superstar!”

But moments after getting home, our boy was crying his eyes out. It turns out, in his excitement to get his trophy to his room, he had tripped going up the stairs and the trophy was now broken. And our little boy was heartbroken. So Skinny Man and I got out the crazy glue and patched it back together. The trophy is now sitting in its’ box until the glue firms up enough – hopefully it holds.

On Monday, it was the last day of the current swimming lesson session. On the last day, the instructors do fun things with the kids, based on their swimming level and size. Our boy’s killer whale class got to go down the big red slide. None of the other kids in his class wanted to go down the slide, so our boy ended up going down a few times, to his great joy. And his instructor also went down it, making “the hugest splash!” At the end of the lesson, the report cards were handed out. Now our boy has done three rounds of killer whale lessons and so badly wanted to graduate to be a shark. I told him he needed to be able to swim on his front and his back so he’s been working really hard at kicking to get there. And he did it! He gets to be a shark in the next swim session. I don’t know who was happier with that result – our boy or me. When I thanked his instructor I was told “no worries. He’s been great to have in the class.” So I’m one proud mama.

And if that wasn’t enough, this was also the week we got our boy’s preschool evaluation. It was a good read as his mum. It confirms everything I’ve long thought about our boy. He’s fun, funny, bright, compassionate, and friendly as well as stubborn, strong willed and independent. The one thing they are trying to teach the boy (and we try at home as well) is to hold a pencil towards the tip, between the thumb and two fingers as opposed to his way which is at the end away from the tip with a fist. His way makes it very hard to write and draw which he finds frustrating but he’s not willing to take instruction in how to make things easier for himself. (see stubborn and strong willed) But I must admit, it warms my heart to see others appreciate my fun and funny child.

Amongst all this good stuff, are the daily battles. Eating dinner, going to bed, listening, dealing with frustrations, dealing with the incessant “I wants”. Inevitably I end up being the “worstest” mummy in the world. It normally doesn’t last long before I’m back to getting hugs and being the “bestest” mummy in the world. It all keeps me on my toes.

I wrote this earlier in the week and was waiting to get some pictures to post along with the text. Like the rest of the world we are shocked by the news from Japan over the last couple of days. My heart breaks for all those dealing with the devastation and loss there. I'm counting my blessings and keeping those I love close.