Designated writing hours… or not?

Every week, Friday is food day on my blog, but I half expected that I would have to call every day “food day” this week. The week before Passover, every day is food day. Shopping yesterday, cleaning the oven today, getting a head start on my cooking as soon as I can!

So far, though, prep work hasn’t superseded my freelance writing, blog, or social time. I wrote this post while I was waiting for my car to be ready, because today was also snow tire removal day for me.

I’ve had three lunches out in the last week, and now that I have freelance deadlines, I’ve been thinking more about how to structure my time.

After I was downsized and started blogging and working on my book, a few people asked if I had designated hours for writing. I wondered if it made me less organized or productive that I didn’t… aside from specific blogging days, when I usually write in the morning.

But my schedule seems to have evolved, just like my post-downsizing path in general. I blog Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, and I work on my book more regularly now that I’ve joined an online group that holds me accountable each week for the number of words I write.

The book-writing hours are still evolving. I try to start earlier in the week, although I still don’t have designated days. At first, I thought I should be writing more, and more often, but now I’m content to write my self-imposed minimum, and sometimes exceed it.

Because of the subject matter (the year I lost my dad, and said Kaddish for him), I think it might actually be better to write the book in small doses, even though it’s not all sad. Parts of it are funny, parts are just interesting, and some parts have broader implications (I hope other people will think so too!).

Now that I’ve adding freelancing to the mix, it would be easy to spend most of the day in front of my computer.

It was good for me to get out of the house and spend time with friends this week. I like working on the things that are most time-sensitive before I head out, and catching up with the rest of my writing later.

Maybe I do have designated hours now. Sort of.





Passover Country Potato Pie

On one of the Facebook groups I belong to, someone asked about “go-to” Passover meals. Immediately, I thought of two: leftover soup noodles with  tomato or pasta sauce, which requires no work, and country potato pie (a quiche with a shredded potato crust), which is a great make-ahead meal.

I used to send a couple of them, baked in foil pie plates, back to school with my daughter when she was away at university. They taste good, freeze well, double easily, and cover more than one food group. cooking what comes naturally cropped

The recipe is from Cooking What Comes Naturally, by Nikki Goldbeck, probably one of the first cookbooks I bought after I got married, and definitely the first vegetarian one.

I’ve adapted the recipe by adding mushrooms, replacing part of the butter with oil, and eliminating dry mustard for Passover. It appeared in The Canadian Jewish News  in 2007 as part of a roundup of Passover food ideas.


Country Potato Pie (adapted from Cooking What Comes Naturally, by Nikki Goldbeck)

serves 4

1 tbsp. butter

1 tbsp. oil

3 medium potatoes, peeled

1  1/2 tsp. salt

1 c. shredded Swiss or Cheddar cheese

1/4 c. chopped onion

1/4 c. sliced mushrooms

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 tsp pepper, or to taste

2 tbsp. chopped parsley

1/2 tsp. paprika

1. Spread 1 tbsp. butter over bottom and side of 9-inch pie plate.

2. Shred potatoes and drain well. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt, and press over bottom and side of pie plate to form crust.

3. Sprinkle cheese over potato crust.

4. Heat oil in skillet. Add onion and mushrooms, and cook until tender and transparent. Spread over cheese.

5. Beat eggs with remaining 1/2 tsp. salt, milk, pepper, parsley and paprika. Pour over onions and cheese in pie plate.

6. Bake at 375 for 40 to 45 minutes until edge of pie is golden, and knife inserted in centre comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.



Apricot Coconut Tart

Every year, after Passover, I have leftover coconut that sits in my cupboard until the following year. I love homemade macaroons for the holiday, but don’t think to make them during the year.

Last month, as part of an attempt to be organized and use ingredients on hand, I tried a decadent coconut tart recipe that I found online.apricot coconut tart

It’s from a blog called Orangette, by Seattle restaurateur and author Molly Wizenberg. I tweaked the recipe just a bit. Wizenberg had already put her own spin on it, after finding a macaroon tart recipe in Super Natural Every Day, a cookbook by Heidi Swanson.

I think the best part is the fruit hidden under the coconut crust. It’s tasty, balances the richness, and ups the nutrient content. This time of year, when fruit is at its freshest, is a perfect time to try the tart.apricot coconut tart inside

Wizenberg adapted the recipe to make it gluten-free, but I opted for a mix of half white and half brown rice flour, which lowers the gluten content but doesn’t eliminate it.

I used a star anise-flavoured sugar, because it had also been in my kitchen for a long time (sigh!). I also reduced the butter from 10 tablespoons to 8 (1 stick), because – to be honest – I couldn’t bring myself to use that much butter. The crust was still melt-in-your-mouth rich, but the tart was a bit hard to slice.

A bonus: it looked pretty because of the fluted tart pan.

I wondered if it would freeze well, so I put a small piece in the freezer overnight after Friday night dinner. It was still delicious the next day.

The recipe can be found here.