Let me begin with a recap of meatless Monday. I made meatless Shepherd’s pie and holy crap was it good! No joke, it was super yummy. My pay back to the guys for usurping my meatless Monday the week before definitely worked, at first, at least. No one had much faith in my recipe, but I made it anyways. It came together so easy and quickly. I used lentils instead of adzuki beans, and topped it with half potato, half cauliflower mash. My only recommendation for the next time I make this is to season the mash a little better. The filling was very flavourful but the mash on top was a little bland because I didn’t use any butter so I will need to work on that for next time. At The Hubby’s request I also added a layer of corn and peas (which, personally, I would leave out if I could, but The Hubby needs to hold on to a few traditions I guess). I served my creation to a table of unconvinced faces, but it only took one bite for everyone’s mood to change. It was DELICIOUS!!! They gobbled it up, every last morsel of food… especially KB and my nephew who probably would have licked their plates clean if they could. The men all had seconds (not that I encourage seconds but I was flattered and pleasantly surprised). Even The Hubby, who hates Shepherd’s pie, helped himself to more. This recipe is definitely going on my families list of favorites.
So what did we have for our next meatless Monday? Mac and cheese, yep, you read that right, Mac and cheese, at my nephew’s request!!! The secret ingredient to this one though, is butternut squash 😀 I make a basic bechamel sauce (basically just butter, milk and flour… and YES I use real butter, when you have to use a fat make sure you use a real fat and not a fake, preservative-laden ones–there is a reason flies won’t land on margarine *just saying ;)*). A few tablespoons of butter, about a 1/4 cup of flour and 2 1/2 cups of milk is my recipe for bechamel. Let the butter melt first in a pot or deep pan, then slowly add in the flour, whisking as you go. Once all the flour is in and its all incorporated into the butter, and lumpy, whisk in the milk slowly. Keep stirring as you let the mixture come to a boil on med heat. If you try it on high heat you will burn the milk, it has to be med heat and let it come to the boil slowly. At first it will seem like the flour is staying lumpy and not incorporating but as the mixture thickens you’ll notice the flour is mixing better. Keep stirring until it boils then take it off the heat right away. Your patience and loving hand will be rewarded with a thick, creamy sauce just begging for flavour! And here is where it gets fun!!! I love to add roasted butternut squash and/or sweet potato (either in chunks or pureed), a little salt and pepper and nutmeg. Ham or chicken are also great things to add on a non-meatless Monday and of course, bacon is yummy treat you could throw in to. Then it’s time for the cheese. You can add any type of cheese you want, really, so it’s worth experimenting to find your favorite combinations. For this particular one I used a kid-friendly non-fat marble cheese, but the sky is the limit and I have served the kids different cheese combinations with lots of success. The average recipe calls for about 2 cups of cheese. You can play around with this measurement as well, and balance the butternut squash to cheese ratio depending on your preference and how healthy you want it to be. I tend to hold back alot of the cheese when I make it for myself, but went all in this time since it was a special request from my nephew. Pair it with a colourful rainbow of a mixed salad for the perfect comfort food meal.
While your working away on your sauce, have your noodles cooking and ready to go. Again, the noodle choice is up to you, but in the perfect world I would say opt for whole wheat or cauliflower noodles to keep things healthier. I chose the classic macaroni noodle here, but I’ve done it with other shapes as well. Cook them until they are just done…el dente, as they say! They will absorb some of the sauce and cook a little more in the oven, if you bake it. Drain your noodles and then add them to the sauce once you have all the cheese and everything mixed in. The more noodles you add the less creamy your sauce will be so just add enough to your desired creaminess (freeze any left over noodles for a quick dinner another day!). Once your noodles are covered you can either serve and eat or dump everything into a baking dish, top with a little breadcrumbs and broil for a few minutes until brown! This is always a hit in my house. We don’t have it too often because there is alot more fat in it than a normal meal I would make, but it’s definitely delicious and comforting and a welcomed request.
Before I leave you I just wanted to update you on our adoption journey! This week we attended the information session put on by Alberta child and family services. It was a great way to hear more about their program, learn about the types of children in the foster care system and ask questions. We learned alot about their approval techniques and how they match a child to your family. It was a great night and we came away with alot of information, some new questions and FULL of anticipation. Both The Hubby and I walked away more convinced than ever that this is the right thing for us. There was no hesitation from either of us, we filled in all the applications and paperwork right then and there and handed it in. We had to fill in an application, give in criminal checks, sign a waver saying that they can search our names in their database to find if we’ve ever had a run in with child services, and give three references who will fill in a questionnaire about us and then have a phone interview. Once all that was accepted, we were sent home with a questionnaire of our own to fill out (almost 100 questions about absolutely everything, from how well we got along with our parents as kids to how sexually compatible we think we are with each other-geesh, personal or what?) and forms for our doctor to fill out saying that we are healthy enough, and in his opinion able enough to care for a child in the foster care system. Needless to say, we filled everything out right away and are ready to hand it all in.
One of the most important pieces of information that we got from the information session was the time lines involved. It was the biggest unknown for us. As it turns out things do move as quickly or as slowly as you want them to. The faster you get your paperwork done and make yourself available for the mandatory seminars and home interviews, the faster you get to the matching part. Using conservative averages it takes about a year before families are ready to begin the process of matching with children and could take another few months to years to even possibly never to find the right child or children. The way that it was put to us is that Child and Family services works for the child/ren. The kids are their clients and we are simply a resource available to them. They look for a family who is right for the child, not a child who is right for our family. Basically, the way I look at is: we’re not “shopping for the child”, the child is “shopping for us”. That’s why there is no way to know exactly how long it will take for you to be matched with a child, and there is a possibility that you never will be. That is also why they ask such personal questions on their questionnaire and to your references, and in your home interviews, because they need to get to know you as best as possible to be able to match you with the right child.
Technically we are passed step one and now waiting on step two, which will be getting our initial approval and to start taking the mandatory seminars. We have to take 3 1/2 days worth of seminars on adopting children from the foster care system (or “special needs” kids… which is ANY child over the age of 2, and does not refer to developmental, emotional, physical or psychological special needs, although alot of the kids do have those special needs as well) and a 1 day Aboriginal training seminar. Alberta is the only province that requires this because we have a larger than average aboriginal representation in our foster children and its really important to be prepared to help them identify with their cultural heritage and keep some roots for them. I’m actually really excited for this seminar since I’ve been told its basically a day of playing games, dancing, learning history and stories, doing crafts and eating… how great does that sound?!!! We are also open to cross-cultural adoptions so it is important for us to be prepared.
So now we wait, with excitement and anticipation, as our journey continues!!! I’ll keep you posted. Thanks for reading, take care everyone 🙂
I’m Happy, I’m Healthy, I’m Fertile and I’m ADOPTING (thought I should add that in!) ttfn, xo