September 25th, 2012
It’s canning and pickling season but, sadly, this year I’m spread to thin too join the fun. Or at least I didn’t get it together in time. I might whip up a small batch of plum jam with some fall plums, still gloriously abundant. I’m also considering canning the peaches I got at this weekend’s farmer’s market. But then I’d have to skip eating the last peaches of the season in all their delicious, raw glory. I’m torn.
Even if I manage to slip in these canning projects under the wire, it’s pretty much dunzo. But instead of lamenting a sad lack of pickles and jams, preserved fruits and tomatoes, I’m getting creative. Take that canning.
I’ve always wanted to pickle my own giardiniera, an Italian (Italian-American?) combination of pickled vegetables often served as an antipasto. There are variations, but it’s usually a tart and spicy combo of onions, celery, carrots, cauliflower and hot pepper. Since pickling my own giardiniera is unlikely to happen, I made a roasted veggie variation. And it totally hit the spot.
September 21st, 2012
“Mama, guess what my favorite food is.”
“Hm. Are we talking a sweet food or dinner-y food?”
“Dinner-y foods are better.”
My heart flutters with pride. “Hm. Not soba…”
I remember that the hungry boy sometimes confuses entire cuisines with specific dishes. I try another tack.
“Your favorite food is… Japanese food!”
“YES! I love it.”
September 20th, 2012
A big congrats to Elizabeth, the winner of Catherine McCord’s new Weelicious cookbook. Luckily for her and her Mexican-food loving family, there are a couple of mouthwatering, Mexican inspired recipes in the book. Enjoy! And thanks to everyone else for joining in the fun!
Every once and a while, a cookbook comes along that has great recipes, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. One that’s fun, but not silly. One that’s warm, but not precious. One that’s healthy, but not extreme. One that makes you—and the kids!—smile. Every once and a while, a cookbook like the new Weelicious cookbook by Catherine McCord comes out.
September 18th, 2012
It’s a funny thing, introducing yourself on video. Even funnier, though, is watching yourself on video for the first time. And I don’t mean home videos shot while screaming your child’s name from the sidelines like a soccer mom banshee. Or even ones shot before you put on lipstick and drink coffee on Christmas morning.
No, I’m talking professionally shot videos that require a 6 person crew rigging your kitchen with bright lights and telling you to smile more (I should have). When
you see yourself I see myself on one of those kinds of videos for the first time I cringe… and also feel excited and proud.
I’ve been wanting to make videos for you for a long time now, but wasn’t prepared to do it without professional help. I wanted to make sure that the videos were well shot, clear, fun and easy to watch. I wanted to make videos not just to see myself on film, but to enhance your experience and inspire you to cook. So I waited. And one day I got a call from the good folks at The Bump, a fab site for pregnant and new mamas. Now, just like that, I have a handful of cooking videos to share with you over the next few weeks.
Before I tell you more about the videos and featured recipes—all foods for you that also work well for little ones—I want to share a few quick things:
September 13th, 2012
There’s something about the chill in fall air that inspires me to cook with more varied grains. Perhaps I was a squirrel in a past life? Or maybe it’s that sturdy whole grains signify a move towards cold-weather cooking. (Both?) As I cleaned and reorganized my pantry last weekend, I excitedly pulled out forgotten jars of barley and farro. It’s time I thought to myself.
Always a summer girl, though, my initial excitement quickly soured to apathy. It’s not fall yet, not cold enough for these. The day after being reunited with my bulk whole grains, I pushed them aside for the last heirloom tomatoes and cobs of corn. Then, that evening, as I settled on my deck for a post-dinner glass of (summery) rose, the chill set in.
What the hell? It’s freezing!
I ignored the nippy breeze spitefully pulling up my skin into sharp bumps. (What?! I’m dramatic, get cold easily and was wearing weather inappropriate clothing.) I stubbornly sipped my rose. I’m going to enjoy this chilled wine, damn it. And then I gave up.
I grabbed a sweatshirt, cozied up on the couch with a blanket and made a note to self. Tomorrow night: barley, long sleeves, red wine.
September 12th, 2012
Here’s the scenario: You’re in a jam and need a quick lunch or snack. Where to first? Raise your hand if you said peanut butter and jelly. Yup, me, too.
I’ve been in a lot of family homes and have found that peanut butter is the most common pantry staple. I even looked it up; turns out that 75% of households have a jar of peanut butter lying around. And it’s no wonder since PB&J is simple, fast and a favorite with most kids. It’s also high in protein, vitamins B3 and E, magnesium, folate and fiber. But what happens when you’re with a child who can’t have peanut butter or just doesn’t like it? Or—imagine this—what happens when everyone is just plain sick of PB&J. (It’ happens!)
That’s when you have to get creative. Or let me get creative for you. Here are a few of my favorite products that make a delicious, quick and nutritious sandwich or snack. Like PB&J, but just different enough to keep things interesting.
September 10th, 2012
Just yesterday I was talking about big, bad corn. Now I’m sharing corn risotto. What gives?
It’s simple! Industrial corn grown to make high fructose corn syrup is not the same as the sweet corn you should be eating by the bushel right now.
* Packaged foods chock full of corn-derivitive fillers and HFCS = bad
* Ears of fresh corn = good, very good
Now that we’ve got that straight, let’s talk creamy corn risotto!
I’m on a kick to substitute veggies for carbs whenever possible. It started when I swapped pasta for zucchini ribbons, which gave me the idea to substitute corn kernels for rice in risotto.
September 9th, 2012
It pains me that we’re barreling towards the end of sweet corn season. I’m buying ears like they’re going out of style, making everything from corn risotto (coming soon!), corn tacos, corn waffles, corn salad on corn cakes, corn stock, fresh-frozen corn, and more. This stuff is gold. And, apparently, not just to me.
The corn business is huge. If you’ve read The Omnivores Dilemma you’re acquainted with industrial corn, the source of an astounding number of processed food ingredients and fillers that save manufactures lots of money, many believe at the cost of bad health and environmental damage. If you haven’t read Michael Pollan’s seminal book—or you’re looking for a quick refresher—this infographic gives a simplified overview of why many think corn is big, bad business.
It’s hard to believe that something so delicious could be such a big problem but, rest assured: The sweet kernels grown for our summer eating enjoyment are not the same as the tasteless crops raised to make high fructose corn syrup and fast food fillers. There’s no reason to stop eating corn—as long as we’re talking mostly on the cob.
Check out this infographic from LearnStuff, then enjoy some sweet, glorious corn as we were made to eat it: fresh.
September 8th, 2012
Say hello to the hungry sitter, an experienced, active, funny and thoughtful care giver who also really loves food. The hungry sitter has worked with lots of families, each with a unique take on feeding, and she has a lot to say about it all.
It’s that time again. Time to get back to the routine. As a sitter, this time of year means ditching day trips to the beach and and long afternoons in the park for school pick-ups, play dates and dance classes. And all those food rules we were allowed to break on hot summer days—like ducking into the random boardwalk burger joint for a “special” lunch or saying “why not” to the 4:30 pm ice cream cone—not so much anymore. These days, when you have to factor in homework and early wake-ups, it’s all about having healthy snacks on hand and staying on schedule, meals included.
Sound familiar? I’m sure it does since so much of what I do is an extension of what parents do. We’re all in the same boat, so I think you’ll agree when I say that the key to making it through a hectic school-year day is having a great bag.
This is all assuming that you’ve made the schedule. Once that’s done—which it usually is by the time I step in—having a good bag is essential to making it through the day without losing your mind trying to find diapers, water bottles, extra clothes, a first aid kit and snacks. So many snacks! Now that Stacie’s got you covered on the healthy snacks front, I want to help you keep them organized in your bag.
September 7th, 2012
Earlier this week, scientists from Stanford University weighed in on the debate over the benefits of eating organic. After an exhaustive look at over two hundred studies conducted over four decades they concluded that organic produce is no more nutritious than conventional. The study also found that conventional produce had more pesticide residue, but that the higher levels were nearly always below the safety limits. (You know, like the ones that said that it was totally safe to use BPA to make baby bottles.)
Allow me to digress for a moment.
Nutritious is defined as “providing nutrients.” So does an organic peach have more nutrients, vitamin C for example, than a conventional one? No, seems not. And I’m curious: Did you ever think otherwise?
September 5th, 2012
I’m a from-scratch girl at heart, even when it comes to snacks. Granola bars, muffins (and more muffins!), even cheddar crackers—name a classic snack and I’ve made it. But as much as I’d love to only feed my kids homemade, it’s just not possible. At least not for me. So I rely on a pantry well stocked with healthier store-bought snacks.
Thankfully, healthier store-bought snacks have improved since I was little, when my mom proudly fed me
cardboard wasa crackers slathered with the pastiest all-natural peanut butter ever made. That said, just because something’s organic or made by a company that generally puts out good-for-you foods doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good for you.
I recently sifted through the many supermarket snack options to find the healthiest picks among the most popular kids’ snack foods. Cheese puffs, fruit snacks, veggie chips, popcorn, cheese crackers, peanut butter sandwich crackers, granola bars, graham crackers, squeezy snacks and yogurt—I covered them all!
September 4th, 2012
I’ve been inspired! And I think you will be, too.
I was recently on my friend Elizabeth’s site, Brooklyn Supper, and spied her Zucchini “Noodles” with Marinara and Sausage. I’ve seen zucchini noodles before, but these caught my eye. I think it might have been the sausage.
Most cookbooks that encourage you to swap zucchini for pasta are uber healthy odes to raw or vegan food. I can appreciate that, but it doesn’t inspire me. Sausage, on the other hand, does. Especially when paired with peak season zucchini.
So Elizabeth (and her, uh, sausage) sold me, but what about the boys—the hungry papa especially. Would they think this was some nerdy food move? A plea to be vegans Monday-Friday. (It’s crossed my mind!) I wasn’t sure, but with sweet Italian pork sausage as my lifeline, I embarked on an adventure to serve the hungry family zucchini ribbons in place of pasta.
August 30th, 2012
I long ago dogeared a simple, but glorious sounding recipe for Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion by Marcella Hazan. Then, for some inexplicable reason, I never made it. Maybe it’s because everyone else did. Seriously. Gilt called this “the most talked about buttery tomato pasta recipe ever“. Enough said. What could I add?
Not much is the answer. Truth be told, this recipe is spectacular as is (of course!) and already widely available. But I’m posting it anyway because I finally got around to making this sauce and it’s sublime, soulful, easy and a sure favorite with kids.
You I don’t have to be annoyed anymore when the kids want pasta with nothing but a simple tomato sauce.
I also just want to make sure that you have the recipe. Because—seriously—you need it.
August 28th, 2012
I can’t believe I’m back from vacation.
I can’t believe I’m already swamped!
I will not get stressed. I will not get stressed.
Things are getting frantic quickly. There’s still two weeks before I have to wake up early, pack a lunch, send (two!) kids off to school (in two! different places), and I’m already feeling it. I know that a lot of you have already started the school year routine. It’s quite a shift, huh?
I’m focusing hard on remembering that the insanity—the appointments, schedule, activities—don’t have to mean a shift away from cooking. The produce is still spectacular here and I’m still inspired. I hope you are, too, because we’re going to keep it going.
We are going to breathe. And cook. And enjoy the still-warm weather.
We are going to hold on to the last days of summer, even once school has started.
We are going to ignore the Halloween displays because, even if it’s just in a few days, it’s not even September yet.
You with me? Great!
Need inspiration? No problem. Here it is, in the form of a super easy, seasonal dessert with a fun middle eastern twist.
This is easy to make. It’s a reminder that we can still take our time to do fun summer cooking with great summer ingredients. Even as the early days of fall approach.