Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Mayonnaise Project

I have started an experiment. Remember in grade school when we used to leave a piece of bread out on the counter for several days to witness the growth of mold? Well, I've been doing something similar with my store-bought mayonnaise. I want to see how long it has to sit out on the counter before it goes bad. So far, we're 4 days and counting, and the stuff still looks exactly as it did when it came out of the refrigerator (and the due date was June 11, 2010).

Here are the ingredients in our Hellman's brand mayo: water (hmm, so the first ingredient is water? how watered down is this stuff?), canola oil, modified corn starch, liquid yolk, vinegar, sugar, salt, spices, xanthan gum, sorbic acid, phosphoric acid, colour, concentrated lemon juice, calcium disodium EDTA, citric acid and sulphites.

Phew! No wonder this stuff lasts for days on the counter. It's got enough preservatives in it to last for several years!

Since having a baby, I have become much more concerned with what's going into our food systems. I've always been an environmentalist, and have tried to buy organic and local when I can, but I still fall back onto grocery store staples when finances get tight. Lately though, even the economic crunch hasn't stopped me from feeling a sense of dismay as I read the ingredient lists on some of the foods I buy on a regular basis - granola bars, crackers, cereals, bread, mayo....even my hummus has added preservatives.

And so, I began to wonder - how hard is it to make all of these things that I rely on for healthy snacks? I started with homemade butter and yogurt, made from the raw milk we get from a local farm. Next I'll be trying cheese! Then I wondered how hard it is to make my own granola bars (it's a piece of cake), and began baking up enormous batches, along with muffins and irish soda bread.

Our freezer is bursting at the seams, but I'm feeling a much greater sense of satisfaction now that I know what's going into my food. There's still a long way to go from here, but I hope to spend more and more time making may own food. My next project is crackers - those crunchy little guys that lend a helping hand to cheese, almond butter, hummus and so much more. If anyone out there has a good and easy recipe, please send it along!

Here's Sarah Harmer's "I'm a Mountain"

Well now how did they get that lady on TV
Laughing so naturally
For a Wal-Mart ad
Is it not as bad as I thought?

There’s a woman sending poisonous mail
And they caught her now she’s sitting in jail
While the weather station forecasts hail
From the tropics

Oh I spent the day in a shopping mall
Through the biggest storm of the century
I’m a mountain
I’m a mountain like you said to be

The sports man and his double chin
Don’t listen to me in this state I’m in
Saying things about people that I don’t know

Well it’s just that way when you get hurt
And the things you need you’re made to work
You must decide if you will die or grow

Oh I spent the day in a shopping mall
Through the biggest storm of the century
I’m a mountain
I’m a mountain
Like you said to be

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Today I thought "enough is enough - it's time to blog!" Why do I always seem to neglect things that make me happy/calm/grounded when I am busy? Isn't that the time when I need them most?

These last two weeks have been a whirlwind of birthdays (my hubby's and A's), our anniversary (two years!) and the end of maternity leave. We threw A a lovely first birthday party, and a lot of my family and friends came to Ottawa to partake in the festivities. As Tom's Dad was leaving, he said to me, "a lot has happened in these two years since you and Tom were married. I only hope that this has made your marriage stronger."

And you know what? He's right! Despite the huge changes we have gone through in such a short period of time, our bond is stronger than ever. Although I can say that we are ecstatically happy as parents now, the first several months raising A was the hardest thing we've ever been through. She came out screaming, and didn't stop for almost 6 months. I once said to Tom, dead serious, that we needed to give her up for adoption because I didn't think I could take care of her. We've spent many nights at 2am holding each other, in tears, wondering how we ever thought we could raise a child.

But then, slowly but surely, A's reflux issues got better, and we suddenly found ourselves fascinated and delighted with the little personality that was emerging. We suddenly realized how special all those nights of walking, rocking and holding were, and how much she truly loved and appreciated us for caring for her while she was in pain. Now, almost every day I think of how boring my life would be without her!

Despite so much of our energy and love having been used for our little girl, I feel as though the love between us has grown exponentially. Where once we used to clam up when the going got rough, and hide in our little shells, now we are forced to open up the communication lines and face our fears. A has brought out the best and worst in both of us, and we move forward in our marriage with a much clearer picture of who we are, both as individuals and as a couple.

"I Will Love You" by Fisher is the song we played for our first dance together at our wedding. Please listen to it - it's one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard.

'Til my body is dust
'til my soul is no more
I will love you, love you
'Til the sun starts to cry
and the moon turns to rust
I will love you, love you

And I need to know -
will you stay for all time
forever and a day
Then I'll give my heart
'til the end of all time
forever and a day

'Til the storms fill my eyes
and we touch the last time
I will love you, love you
I will love you, love you...