And it is now 6:00 pm. I have a stew of "tout et n'importe quoi à partir de mon frigo va dans un pot" simmering; the kids are helping me tidy up for the night and a bottle of Barolo is decanting as we speak. This is what I live for - what I dream of daily and what lingers on my palate until my next culinary adventure. I am a mother of three darling little critters. My children are 5, 4 and 2 and yes this does make our lives interesting and full of the unknown. I have both varieties of children; the girls are the eldest and then the boy. I think that it's paramount that my children enjoy cooking and sharing food and laughter at the table. This is one of the foundations that I hope to pass along to them. When you sit at the table, after you have prepared a meal; built up your hunger through each chop, slice and dash; felt your tummy flip around like a fish out of water at the aromas in your house...the art of enjoying food... (Sigh) I AM STARVING! Tonight’s meal is simply put - Soul Food. Bruschetta of roasted red peppers, inoki mushrooms, roma and watermelon tomatoes, fresh pineapple basil and of course EVOO (you may be asking "is Rachel Ray joining them???”Why not?! Between her, Cat Cora, Julia Child, my family and all of you...welcome). I can't wait to enjoy this, as I have some goat cheese that is more excited to top the bruschetta than I am to eat it. The bread is lightly dressed with olive oil, fleur de sel and roasted garlic. We break the bread! I think that enjoying bread or buying bread, is like buying a diamond. The clarity...the cut...much like the crunch, the smell and the piece de resistence the dough...tonight, we are enjoying a simple sourdough loaf from my favorite bakery in town Pane Fresco (perhaps royalties are in my future???) I have to say that Marc Albanese is one of a kind, and truly a genius with bread. Who would have thought that there is a genius art form in flour, eggs, yeast and water...sheer genius. Any, so the bread is cut on the bias in 2 inch segments and after brushing the greatest invention in the world over them (EVOO), they are placed to broil on low for only a few minutes (2 in my stove, who knows in yours - just to a slight golden brown). I use just a simple rack to ensure that the bottom doesn't get soggy (cuz that's just wrong). I have my bruschetta pretty much done, as the ingredients are usually sitting in my fridge ready to go. Roasted red peppers are great to do in advance and freeze; inoki mushroom still in the bag; roma and grape tomatoes (thickly diced); roasted garlic; red onion diced and a great seasoning of salt and pepper. The pineapple basil is just from the garden and I take a handful and rip it up. Now that everything is good to go, I get the kids to top the bread, and the middle critter is the goat cheese freak. She gets the cheese all over, eats the majority, but the remainder tops our bruschetta making it look better than snow capped mountains. Again a gentle swirl of olive oil, fresh pepper and salt (grinded in a mill) then back to the oven to broil. The stew is now on the lowest possible heat! I can't believe how wonderful stew makes you feel. Today is usually the day that I like to clear out the fridge of this week’s vegetables, meats, leftovers and all as Sunday is Market/Grocery day! I have added, butternut and spaghetti squash (cubed and roasted on their own with garlic); sweet potatoes and Yukon gold’s; a couple cans of Roma stewed tomatoes ( I like to squish them in my hands before I put them in); a variety of lentils that have soaked and beans that have been bathed; there is chicken that I picked off of the carcass (thank you Metro 24); the skewer of spicy shrimp that I had from last night (there was 6 shrimp only so I had to dice them up); garlic cloves (roasted ones from the squash); red onion and half a Spanish onion; and seasonings of smoked and dehydrated peppers, a bay leaf, rosemary (just a little bit of powder), garlic, salt, pepper, red wine (no not the Barolo - it's actually the left over’s from a bottle that I didn't love (me, not love a bottle??? I know it's rare for those who know me, but anyhow, it was a bottle of Santa Carolina and for some reason, Chilean wine and I don't dance well together). So there it is...simmering and bubbling away on my stove. I have also made a simple salad - this is a must! I enjoy salad so much that I could eat it for breakfast lunch and dinner. This glorious green masterpiece is just mesculin mix (extra frisee), cucumbers (from Ben's garden), red onion, red, orange and yellow bell peppers for the crunch, roasted red peppers (the left over’s from the bruschetta), roasted eggplant, sunflower seeds and craisens. I have dressed this salad with my homemade berry vinaigrette. It tastes delicious; however, truth be known, the colour of this dressing looks horrid - bright pink ick! Perhaps if anyone reads this diatribe, they will tell me how to control the colour. We now sit down at the table, eyes wide open, lips are being licked, and the smiles and laughter start to roll out uncontrollably. This is my heart and my life. The time that my family sits together and eats, is the best part of the day. The kids for the first few bites are silent aside from the crunching and slurping of their meal; however, as soon as it starts to settle in their stomachs the antics begin. The old one says how wonderful it is, the middle just giggles as she finds the cup of her hand full of the bruschetta mix and the little critter just watches and eats. I can't deny it really is great! I don’t know what is actually the best part of this meal...is it the bruschetta with the goats cheese so creamy and with that golden tinge to the tops? Perhaps it's the bottle of Barolo that had been sitting in the decanter, tempting me taunting me and flirting with its legs...no, it's the fact that at this very moment, nothing could be better than breaking bread, laughing and enjoying it with my family. Thanks for coming to dinner! Tomorrow is shopping, so let’s see what we get at the market and the store. My hope is for an incredible cheese (rich and creamy with a hint of smoke) so that I can make a multi grain pizza of vegetables; or a great steak for selfish reasons to go along side of my homemade frites...mmm. I also have to venture to the LCBO and pick out a few bottles for the week. Red, White and perhaps something clear hmmmm...Gin anyone?