August 9th, 2012
Baking used to seem fussy to me. And, in some ways, it is. Measurements need to be exact. Proportions precise. Temperatures just right. While baking, I would focus so hard on trying not to eff things up that I’d get into a perfectionist mind set that carried into every aspect of my baking experience. My pie crust had to look perfect. The icing artistic. Cake layers even. Then I’d give up. Because my pie crust never looks perfect, I’m a doddering oaf when it comes to icing, and I haven’t the first clue how to cut across a cake so that it is smooth and even.
I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point it occurred to me that though there are very fussy aspects of baking, it’s not an entirely fussy endeavor. Not every baked good will come out looking like it’s from a famous patisserie, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be delicious. (Especially if you call it “rustic.”)
This realization changed the way that I bake. Mix everything in one bowl like for this One Bowl Apple cake. Sure! Adapt a classic from a trusted source the way I did to make this Vanilla Cardamom Olive Oil Pound Cake. The way to go! Riff on a tried and true recipe to turn Cranberry Pear Upside Down Cake into Strawberry Rhubarb Upside Down Cake. Easy breezy.
Once you get used to taking the time to measure accurately and follow a few rules (use unsalted butter, make sure it’s cold, etc.), you’re free to take it easy, which is what I did with these mini Orange Blossom Honey Peach Pies.
August 8th, 2012
One Hungry Mama is about finding the joy in feeding your family. Mostly, that comes from making delicious food that you feel good serving to everyone in the family. But it’s also about getting your bearings on feeding issues so that when things go awry, as they so often do when feeding children, you can comfortably stay in place. Even when the kids are being picky. Or there’s too little time. Or any of the other things that stress us out about mealtime.
Getting your bearings starts early—with baby’s first sip—and though there’s not much for me to post about the time before solids (sorry, you’ll have to get your recipe for breast milk cheese elsewhere), it counts.
There’s been some recent talk about breastfeeding and formula (when is there not?!) and I wanted to chime in. Because this isn’t just an issue for new moms. It’s related to how parents are left to find their way in a feeding landscape defined largely by industrialized food (and, in this case, pharmaceutical) companies. It matters to all of us.
Sun poured in through the cafe window. Me and the hungry boy, an infant at the time, were sitting in the corner of our local coffee spot. I chose a table as far from everyone as possible, but still felt exposed. The table was right by the window. Everyone would see.
I reached into my bag and, with tears filling my eyes, pulled out a baby bottle filled with water. I considered giving him a few pure sips for show, but he was hungry. I snapped to and continued our new feeding process. Instead of unhooking a secret panel in my bra, I reached into my bag for a second time and shiftily pulled out a brand new, baby blue container filled with white powder.
The way I was acting, you would have thought it was cocaine. It was formula.
August 6th, 2012
Another post from our babysitter who we’ve lovingly dubbed ‘The Hungry Sitter.’ Think you have all the answers because you’re the parent? The HS thinks otherwise. Agree?
Picture this: A health-conscious, organic-buying, veggie-crunching sitter walks into a hot dog and boxed mac and cheese household. Sound like a nightmare? I wish that I could say it was only a bad dream but, unfortunately, as a seasoned childcare provider, I can tell you that it’s not. This has happened to me way more that I would have ever predicted, especially given that I’ve had the fortune of working with fabulous parents who are, themselves, healthy eaters.
So what gives?!
After all these years of caring for kids, I’m still not exactly sure. Though I’m not yet a parent, I know that feeding children is hard. I also know that lots of factors can make mealtime complicated: age, schedules, food sensitivities, varying sibling habits and, well, the list goes on. Every family is different, but I’ve noticed one thing in common across all of them: mealtime with mom and dad is emotional.
Feeding a picky child is always easier for me than it is for his parents. The emotional and power dynamics are just not the same. Maybe there’s something to learn from that? I wish I had a “works every time” answer, but I don’t. That said, I believe that there are some useful takeaways from my experiences feeding reluctant eaters. Here are a few things that I’ve learned so far that I hope give you valuable perspective.
August 2nd, 2012
Yes, pepitas are pumpkin seeds.
And, yes, I know that it’s not pumpkin season.
But, you know, sometimes a girl’s gotta snack. And her kids, too. (They always need to snack.) And sometimes this girl has pepitas in her pantry. (Stay strictly seasonal? Avoid food waste? The answer’s clear.) So sometimes a girl’s gotta make sweet and smoky pepitas in the dead of summer.
Think of it as a practice run for October.
July 30th, 2012
I rarely repost recipes, but recently made these Vanilla Poached Cherries from my archive and remembered how spectacular they are.
Totally delicious. Light. Like pie, without the crust or even tons of sugar. Unless, of course, you spoon them over vanilla ice cream. Which I encourage.
The best part about these Vanilla Poached Cherries is that they also make an awesome early finger food treat. That’s right, mamas—don’t be afraid. Baby wants to taste the glory of summer fruit, too, and this is a great way to do it without handing them some crazy sweet and buttery baked good.
I’m so excited about this recipe that I’m going to post it again below. Though I encourage clicking around (I’ve got some good stuff here!), it’s more important to me that you make these. I know you’ll love them, too.
July 27th, 2012
Do you want s’more?
I know. But I cannot seem to think of the word s’more without starting to, uh, rap the Roots tune.
Me. Rapping. Yes, I’m aware that the image makes this whole thing even more painful. I’m just being honest.
I have no idea when—or why—my brain connected s’mores and The Roots. My apologies to The Roots for this cognitive mix up. If there was something I could do about it, I would. (Ideas, anyone?)
July 26th, 2012
I recently had the pleasure of visiting—and eating with—the folks at Fine Cooking magazine. (And, bonus: I got to do it with Elizabeth of one of my favorite food blogs, Brooklyn Supper!) While there, I was invited to join in on one of their weekly tastings where they test recipes submitted by contributors. I’ve been inside a couple of cooking mag test kitchens, but had never been privy to this part of the process. Taste, talk, tweak. It was right up my alley and SO much fun!
I hate to be a tease, but there isn’t much more that I can share about the visit. The recipes we tasted are coming out in the magazine soon, so they are top secret for now. I can tell you that every one was great and that the experience was a reminder of how much I enjoy the magazine. It’s as lovely as the smart and thoughtful people who put it together every month. (And, no, I was not asked or paid or expected to blog about the experience—I just want to share!)
Once home, I started flipping through some issues of Fine Cooking and came across this recipe for Spice Rubbed Tilapia with Black Bean, Mango and Tomatillo Salsa. Have you ever eaten raw tomatillo before? I hadn’t and was intrigued. Turns out, it’s awesome tossed in a light dressing like this. Who knew?!
July 23rd, 2012
It’s taken a while for me to learn how to cook simple food well. I’m an embellisher. I like having lots to do. I revel in taking on complicated challenges.
I’m a glutton for punishment?
Maybe, but not so much that I didn’t change my approach to cooking after having kids. Don’t get me wrong—I’ll still clear my schedule for a good, old fashioned, over-involved meal—but I’ve accepted that simple, whole foods are the way to go with most home cooking, especially when you have small kids. And this practically no-cook Zucchini Pasta, built around a single in-season ingredient, is a shining example of simple home cooking at its best. It calls for minimal cooking, a small handful of thoughtfully matched ingredients, and just the right amount of time for what it yields.
It’s my favorite simple summer pasta yet. And I think you’ll like it, too.
July 20th, 2012
Y’all know that I’m not one for sugary drinks. In some parts, I’m even known as a juice naysayer. Juice—and other sweet drinks—are just not necessary, at least not on a regular basis. But that’s for another post. Seriously. A totally different post. Because this one, well, it’s full of recipes for sweet drinks. Sweet, fun, delicious summertime coolers that double as seriously special treats for you and kiddo.
The recipes that I’ve got for you today are copycat drink recipes of favorites from Starbucks, Jamba Juice and other places where you stop for sippity snacks. They are treats, for sure, but they are homemade treats which means that you can control the flavor, sweetness, ingredients, and cost. It’s cheaper and healthier to make your frappacino at home, and it’s easy, too. ‘Nuff said.
July 18th, 2012
Let’s play a game. Ready?
You say: MEATBALL.
Wanna know what I say?
Having grown up in New Jersey, and now living in Brooklyn, I associate meatballs with Italian-American food. Spaghetti and meatballs was a staple of my childhood diet—and still is. When I try to change things up, I end up skipping the spaghetti for something like Escarole, White Bean, and Meatball Soup. But the meatballs? I always end up making them Italian-style. And why not?! Good Italian meatballs are food from the heavens.
I’ve tried to break from my Italian meatball habit. Remember when I learned how to make these easy, tender turkey meatballs from my sitter? They are great (and, really, soooo easy), but I still serve them Italian-style over pasta.
And way back when the Hungry Boy was starting finger foods, I made super health charged meatballs with wheat germ (instead of bread crumbs), cottage cheese, sweet potato and spinach. That was nearly 5 years ago, and I’ve since made a commitment to a single family meal. Those meatballs were tasty but, uh, not the hungry papa’s favorite.
July 16th, 2012
Stuffed vegetables are soul food. To me, at least.
I remember watching my grandmother make stuffed peppers and tomatoes, a staple meal in her house, and can even taste the tangy feta crisped on top and melted into orzo inside the hollowed vegetables. I remember noticing that the veggies looks even more appealing shriveled, crisped, and curled than they did fresh and glistening from the market. The beauty of cooking before me. I didn’t know it then, but it was a formative observation.
In all my years of serious cooking, I’ve made stuffed vegetables three times, stuffed peppers only once. I couldn’t bring myself to make something that would surely be inferior to my yiayia’s cooking. Her food is untouchable. Yet, this recipe from White on Rice Couple (which was inspired by one from Heidi Swanson‘s fabulous cookbook—one of my favorites lately—Super Natural Every Day) caught my eye. To my surprise, it inspired my very first stuffed tomatoes.
My yiayia’s cooking will always be better than mine, no matter how good I get, but maybe I’m finding my own voice in the kitchen. After eating these Quinoa and Lentil Stuffed Tomatoes, I can promise that I’ll be making stuffed tomatoes and peppers more often. Maybe these are the taste of me hitting a new plateau.
July 13th, 2012
Here’s a little something for your weekend:
My roundup of the best summer ice cream sundaes from around the web on Cool Mom Picks.
What makes them summery? They use the best ingredients that summer has to offer. We’re talking ice cream with cherries, nectarines, roasted strawberries and, well, Nutella. (NUTELLA!)
And speaking of chocolatey goodness, here’s a reminder of how to make homemade magic shell. It’s ridiculously easy: All you need is 2 ingredients and 5 minutes.
Not convinced? Check this out:
July 11th, 2012
After a week-long vacation in the country—swimming, watermelon margaritas, daily trips to the farm stand—I’m back in the city. I love Brooklyn (every time we drive back, I feel a rush of excitement when the skyline comes into focus), but life here is so busy. It’s Wednesday and I’m already exhausted.
Packing camp lunch.
Pick up and drop off.
Staying on schedule.
I’m a sucker for the hustle and bustle, but today I’m longing for country life. I wish I was at the beach. I wish the boys were barefoot in the grass. I wish that I was going to be able to pop a bottle of rose and eat these Roasted Apricot Crostini (can be shared with kids 6+ mos)* at
5 p.m. 4 p.m.
Alas, none of this will happen today. I’ll have to wait until the weekend. Until then, though, I can dream. And share these delicious crostini with you.
July 9th, 2012
I have a confession: I’m not a very experienced grill master. Or, um, a very enthusiastic one.
I’m capable, but grilling is not my thing. I weasel my way out of being in control nearly every time we fire up the grill. It’s too easy: There’s always some dude—the Hungry Papa, a friend, a grandpa—who wants to flip the burgers. Be my guest! Grilling is just not that exciting.
My favorite part of cooking is coming up with flavor combinations, developing a recipe, tasting and adjusting to make something perfect. While I know that grilling takes technique—skill that I’m sure I have somewhere inside of me—I’d much rather dream up the menu, do the seasoning, and hand over the spatula and tongs.
Maybe it’s because we almost exclusively grill meals that include meat. (The dude effect?) Not sure, but everything changed suddenly when we had a vegetarian friend over for dinner. I suddenly felt excited to grill.
What’s that about?!
Who knows, but it yielded these Grilled Zucchini and Corn Tacos with Salsa Verde (can be shared with kids 6+ mos)*, so I’m not going to think about it too hard.
July 5th, 2012
I have a strange feeling. Very odd, indeed. It seems that I am actually on time!
For what? For blueberry season, of course!
It may sound silly to you, but somehow summer—and all of the gorgeous foods that summer brings—seem to fly by. Apricots are in season one minute and then they are suddenly out. Same with strawberries. I never quite get enough time to make everything I want to make with peak season fruit.
But it’s going to be different this year, at least with blueberries since I’m on top of these babies. I’ve already made a fantastic Blueberry Lemonade (posted over at Momtastic), I’ve bookmarked a bunch of killer blueberry recipes (over at Cool Mom Picks) and I just made this refreshing Blueberry Cucumber Salad.