Photo courtesy of my ridiculously-talented brother.

I started to think about writing this announcement this past Mother's Day; it seemed a suitable occasion to attempt to collect my thoughts and to begin to find the words to properly convey how very lucky I feel in life, especially in regards to becoming a mother for a second time.

Even though I have tried to maintain the focus of this site to be food and recipes, I have been nothing short of humbled by the excited and supportive responses I have received whenever my personal life has been made mention. The encouragement, kindness and advice has been an unexpected bonus to my writing, and I am wholly grateful to all of you who continue to visit.

Seven spoons has been, as I have said, inextricably tied to many important milestones in my life, and the life I share with Sean and Benjamin. It has brought me what will surely be lifelong friendships and expanded my culinary and professional horizons. Most of surprisingly of all though, it has brought me a new sense of perspective and purpose.

When these words are published, it will mean our perspective has shifted again. Our threesome has become four and I will be beginning to see that Ben, though forever and always our baby, is no longer the baby; he is now a full-fledged big brother.

I am sure that this new journey will bring many more adventures, lessons and memorable meals. I do hope that you all will join me in exploring this new territory and enjoy the stories to come. As the next little while will be a tad hectic on our end, I will be shifting the content of the site from original recipes to feature more book reviews as well as resurrecting my "Taste to Go" columns, spotlighting products and purveyors of which I am particularly fond. As soon as time (and a newborn) permits me, please look out for this new content. Finally, I will be featuring more of the photographic talents of my big brother Anik and his equally-gifted wife Rene; they both have skills that far surpass mine and I am thrilled to have them contribute to the site.

Until then, we once again thank all of you. We have to thank our family for always being there with the standing offer of babysitting and for being a source of constant strength. To our friends, thank you for being such wonderful Aunties and Uncles to Benjamin, confidants to us and a wealth of boundless enthusiasm.

And finally I would like to take a moment to thank my dear Sean, our bundle of boy Benjamin, and this latest addition to the family for being everything to me.

[William was born on June 11th at 12:22PM EST, and is a handsome fellow.]

See you all soon.

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For everyone kind enough to send birthday wishes to Benjamin, or to anyone interested, here is a peak at some of the birthday festivities. Thank you all for helping us celebrated our little man, and a special thank you to my brother for the above photograph.

This one of Ben's three cakes; spiced banana cake layers with carmelized banana filling, topped with brown sugar cream cheese frosting and a bit of salted mixed nut crumble.

Edited to add: For those interested in the recipe, the cake is a spiced variation on the banana layer cake with mascapone frosting from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook. The frosting I use is Ina Garten's, with a bit of the icing sugar substituted for golden brown. Finally, I top it with a salted-nut praline crumble, of my own recipe.

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In my enthusiasm to detail the ways our Benjamin has changed how we eat, I neglected to mention that he has had a profound effect on what we eat as well.

Experiencing food through a miniature set of taste buds has even further ignited my desire to try new flavours; offering variation on the plate as well as the palate. I am much more aware of the colours of food, the textures and the interplay of tastes. I am happy to play Navigator to Benjamin’s Explorer of the culinary world.

Surprisingly enough, these travels have lead me back to well-trodden trails of an old favourite. And so I must sheepishly admit, I now eat the same breakfast almost every day.

It is true; while my son and dear husband will be offered a virtual smorgasbord of options, I will contentedly cuddle up with a cup of coffee and my most humble bowl of breakfast. And what is in that bowl? Oatmeal.

Up until recently I do not think I had made oatmeal, as oatmeal, in years. My last remembrance would be my eight-year-old self and those packets of instant oats that promised to make “a hot cereal lover out of me.” Since then, while I almost always have had oatmeal in the house, it was usually relegated to my baking cupboard - destined for crisps, crumbles, cookies and crunchy granola.

Let me explain how I came back to this taste of childhood. It all started over the winter, as Ben was further expanding his food boundaries. While he was all too happy to nibble and munch a myriad of tastes through the day, his little belly seemed happiest with a comforting brekkie of oatmeal each morning.

As many parents will surely know, beyond being food provider, we are also the designated cleanup crew. So when there was any cereal left over, it became Mummy’s breakfast too. Warming and filling on those cold mornings, I started making enough for us to share. Benjamin happily watching from his chair while I stirred the bubbling pot on the stove, baby babbling about his dreams from the night before and his plans for the day ahead.

Mummyhood has brought about a greater interest in my own health, as I want to make sure that I can keep up with an ever mischievous little man. I have found my bowl of oats, along with long term heart-health benefits, gives me more than enough energy to make it through my daily toddler wrangling.

But lest you think I am boring, I do offer a pantry cupboard full of garnishes. Dried cranberries and blueberries add mouth-puckering tartness; Demerara sugar brings textural sweetness; cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom offer heady aromas and depth of flavour.

Simple and satisfying, yet offering a complex world of possibilities. What a happy discovery.

Oatmeal with sultanas and spice
The warmth of spices comes up in a scented cloud as they cook; a moment of aromatherapy before a busy morning. Paired with the throaty sweetness of plump sultanas and honey, this is a favourite combination of golden goodness. With an eye on nutrition, I have also included a sprinkling of bud-style bran cereal.

Ingredients
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup milk
1 heaped tablespoon sultanas
1/8 teaspoon (a good pinch) cinnamon
2 green cardamom pods
pinch salt
1/3 cup whole-grain oats
1/8 cup bud-style bran cereal
Honey, to taste

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the water, milk, sultanas and spices to just under a boil. Add the salt. Stirring, sprinkle in the oats and cereal.

Reduce the heat to low. Cook, according to the package instructions.

Remove cardamom pods if desired. Spoon oatmeal into serving bowl, drizzle with honey to taste. Serve immediately.

Serves 1.

Notes:
• If you prefer a more pronounced cardamom flavour, slightly bruise the pods with the heel of your palm to release their black seeds. Add these, along with the husks, to the water and milk as directed. If you, like me, read the paper while eating breakfast, keep an eye out for the seeds when eating.
• For a creamier version, increase the amount of milk and adjust the water accordingly.
• Slivered pistachios with figs (dry or fresh) is also a frequent favourite.

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I am a person who spends far too much time thinking about food.

Though this tendency could most likely be attributed to my simple greed, which I will not deny, I am also intrigued by the way that we relate to our food. I know I have said it before, and admired those who have said it more eloquently, but I am still fascinated by the way food can not only be a source of nutrition but also such a part of the way we live our lives.

Our meals can be a creative expression, a link to the past or an exploration of possibility. Or, we can eat to satiate the need to fuel the body.

I have been eavesdropping on an ongoing conversation regarding the place for shortcuts, take out and convenience food in the kitchen. The discussion touches upon the ever-increasing popularity of certain network television personalities and their accompanying “semi-homemade” philosophies.

Without taking a particular side of the table so to speak, I did stop to consider the food my family eats on a daily basis; outside of the grand food holidays and events, simply Monday to Friday sort of fare.

I have always eaten reasonably well. Lucky to have the luxury of a childhood in a family of cooks, convenience food and take out was the exception rather than the rule. In my early adulthood, I tried to get my 8-10 servings of vegetables per day, even if they were sometimes interspersed with a pint and burger at the local pub.

It was when I became pregnant that I really felt the impact of the food choices I made. I was suddenly responsible for more than just me and my waistline. With each bite, I realized what I was eating was what would sustain my child. What would help him develop, help him grow strong and nurture him before I could even hold him in my arms.

As you may well imagine, heavily-processed foods, caffeine, additives, nitrates and the like where not on the menu.

With Benjamin’s birth, a part of my Mummyhood has come to include the role of family nutritionist and meal provider. I know that I am the one that is, in large part, shaping the way he views food. The way he views how food is made. The way he views food as part of his life - as energy or as something more.

It is that something more that I think about most. I think about how somewhere along the way society developed this love-hate relationship with food. We love indulgence, yet hate the consequences; we move from extremes of decadence to extremes of denial.

In our day-to-day food is frequently regarded as an inconvenience; something that takes time from all the more important things that we have scheduled for ourselves.

I can only speak for myself. I can only say what works for me. I have chosen to make good food a priority. Not simply the act of eating, though I do believe in taking the time to eat as a family whenever possible, but also the act of shopping, preparing and discussing food. Nutrition, tradition, why we eat what we eat when we eat it - all of these are topics I hope to share with my son as I share them with my dear Sean now.

I want Benjamin to realize that sometimes things are worth effort or time, and that the proof is truly in the pudding. I hope he sees the beauty in a balanced life.

I will admit that there are frozen pizzas in my freezer. I will also admit that there are a stack of take out menus in a drawer somewhere. But I will also point out the recipe books, pots and pans and utensils that fill our cupboards.

I do not scorn convenience. Cooking may not be for everyone. But I will rally against the notion that cooking is nothing more than a chore. There is beauty in the process of making food, even when at its most basic. There is a poetry in it that tells you “this is worthwhile.”

I made this pasta as a quick dinner when my dear Sean was working late. Inspired by a love for spaghettti alla carbonara, all the elements of the original are here. Salty pork punctuating a tangle of creamy, egg-blanketed pasta. I have added chicken stock to the sauce for a fresher version suited for early spring. The mix of asaparagus and mushrooms also seem fitting for the season, and the crisped prosciutto is tender, yet still toothsome, among the pappardelle.

It should have taken about 10 minutes to come together, but again, priorities came into play. I stopped prepping once because of a potential altercation between Benjamin and Miss Billie the Cat (priority). I continued when Benjamin chose to dump his toys across the floor (not a priority). I paused again to kiss my husband hello (priority). Then I finished making dinner.

Far from Rockwellian, but we did manage for the three of us to end up around the dinner table; all eating the same meal, at the same time.

I, for one, felt truly nourished.

Creamy mushroom and asparagus pappardelle
Lighter than a traditional carbonara, but still retaining its charm, this pasta is a quick and satisfying weeknight meal.

Ingredients

4 slices prosciutto
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
150 g trimmed and cut asparagus spears
250 g cremini or brown mushrooms, cut into halves or quarters depending on size
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
175 g pappardelle
30 g grated parmesan cheese
Generous teaspoon thyme leaves
2 large eggs
1/3 cup mixture of chicken stock and cream, whatever ratio suits your taste

Cook the prosciutto under a preheated broiler for about 3 minutes, until crisp and lightly golden. Set aside.

In a frying pan over medium high heat, sauté shallots in the olive oil for about a minute, or until beginning to turn translucent. Add mushrooms and asparagus, season sparingly with salt and pepper and cook for 6 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Reduce the heat to low.

Meanwhile, cook pappardelle in a large pot of salted boiling water until just under al dente, or slightly less than package instructions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Add the pappardelle to the vegetable mixture, turning to combine. The pasta will darken as it absorbs the olive oil and juices from the vegetables. Crumble in prosciutto. Turn off heat.

Whisk together parmesan cheese, eggs, thyme leaves, cream and chicken stock in a small bowl.

Working quickly, add the egg mixture to the pappardelle and toss to coat. Continue to stir until the eggs are cooked and slightly thickened; the sauce will thoroughly cling to the noodles. Add the reserved pasta water as necessary until the desired consistency is achieved. Season with additional pepper.

Best eaten immediately. Serves 2 rather generously, or 3 when feeding one adult male with a hearty appetite, one adult female with a medium appetite and one greedy little toddler.

Notes:
• I used a ratio of about 3 parts stock to 1 part 10% cream. Use whatever amounts, and butterfat content cream, that suits you.
• Baby spinach can also be substituted for the asparagus. If you are lucky enough to come across fresh morels, they would be fantastic here.

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