Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Sous chefs!

Friday, July 10th, 2015

Back in 2010, I was duly impressed by Elizabeth’s account of 3-year-old-Carter making waffles and attempting coffee unassisted. I had no idea how you get that kind of initiative from a preschooler.

But flash forward five years, and we’re there. One girl or the other — usually Sam, but sometimes Cate — emerges from the bedroom before we do. Beyond self-serve yogurt and berries, we have arrived in the kitchen to find:

  • Sam with a skillet full of cabbage and Brussels sprouts
  • Cate with a toaster full of mini-bagels
  • Sam with a French press holding 9 (“Nine!”) scoops of coffee ready to brew
  • Cate whisking an egg in a bowl with food color, and some butter smeared in a cold skillet

Fortunately, forewarned is forearmed. So we have relentlessly coached that toasters and microwaves and stoves and ovens are only for grown-ups. So far, they still believe us. And I’m comforted knowing that Carter survived his independent cooking adventures!

Bill and I are mostly looking forward to having help in the kitchen. In the meantime, here’s a photo of Cate and Sam peeling carrots (“we’re making carrot salad!”) on June 6. Enjoy!

Pecan season!

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

In his book, Year Round Vegetables, Fruits and Flowers for Metro Houston, Dr. Bob Randall observed that, unless you set a pecan tree well apart from aerial access and defend it mightily, small furry critters are likely to capture the lion’s share of its fruit. He had me convinced, and yet… not so!

With this lovely run of cool nights in the 40s and warm sunny days in the 60s, pecans are just raining out of our trees. In the last 4 or 5 days we’ve collected more than 7 pounds of nuts from the ground beneath our three trees. And collecting ground-level nuts is a fantastic task for a pair of motivated 3-year-olds!


Sunday afternoon, Cate and Sam collected about 3 pounds of pecans from the deck, the back yard, and — as Sam put it — “going on an adventure” behind the garage. They then went out front to run, toss around a box of tissues, flop off of the inflatable whale, and wrestle in the grass.

Sam and Cate

Frolicking on Fairview

Samanthaism #18: want more chard leaf, please!

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

I know that I’ve mentioned chard before, but I’ll mention it again. Bill sauteed a big batch of red chard with red chiles (bell peppers) and pine nuts, in some balsamic reduction. He chopped up the stems and sauteed them until they were nearly tender, and finished them with the rough-chopped greens.

I hear that some toddlers don’t like veggies, but our girls like ’em. Very yummy. In fact, I wasn’t dispersing it fast enough this afternoon and Sam called to me, “want more chard leaf, please!”

Yay! My parenting rationalization of the day is that I hope this makes up for at least one of the times that we’ve made their lunch or dinner out of franchise chicken “nuggets” while out in the van.

Cereal and ripe peaches…

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

One morning in mid-May, Claudia and I took the girls out for a walk. As we ambled down Van Buren to Missouri, I saw a woman coming out of the church with a bagful of fresh produce from Central City Coop.

I asked her what was good at the market that morning, and she said local peaches. Mmmm. I love ripe peaches. They’re darned hard to find at the grocery store. And local, organic peaches would be even better. So we went in and bought several.

A few days later, as I was cutting one of the peaches into a bowl of cereal and milk, I was strongly reminded of my childhood. I could visualize my mom, meticulously cutting the flesh of a big juicy peach away from the pit, and putting the uniformly-sized chunks into bowls of cereal for us. Tasting the treat, I enjoyed the co-mingling flavors of the peach and milk as much as I did when I was little, and I thought of my mom. I even called her to tell her so.

Having this strong memory made me wonder: which experiences will our daughters enjoy and remember thirty years from now? And will they think of us fondly?

Four and twenty blackberries…

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

… baked in a pie! I’ll leave it to Bill to elaborate, but something recently inspired him to start turning fresh berries into homemade pies.

He takes ripe berries (blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries to date) and a little bit of sugar, heats them into goo, pours it into gluten-free spelt crusts, and bakes ’em into hot pie yumminess. And they’re even better with a little vanilla ice cream melting on top (unless you’re our friend, Paul, in which case, they’re awesome as is)!

Sam and Cate are fascinated with watching us eat and seem eager to sample our food. When Bill made this pie in April, I dipped my finger in the blackberry innards and let them lick it off. They each tried it twice, but judging by their comical facial expressions, they aren’t ready for tart berries. They quickly pressed their lips firmly together, declining to accept a third taste. Sam’s reaction even included a full-body shudder. Funny! That’s okay for now: more pie for us grown-ups!

Oatmeal and spoon!

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

When I wrote in January that I was struggling to decide whether to keep nursing our babies, several moms reassured me that, while bottle feeding was inherently different from breast feeding, that one could have similar special bonding moments while bottle feeding. I really appreciated the reassurance, and I believe it’s true for many women. But for better or worse, that hasn’t been my experience.

I’m not sure if it’s because I had to work so hard to overcome post-delivery anemia in order to nurse, or because after 7 years of fighting my body to get pregnant I was relieved that it would make milk, or because nursing is just really, really special. Regardless of the reasons, I get immense satisfaction from nursing (even when it’s uncomfortable) that I haven’t gotten from bottle feeding. That’s why I’m still nursing Cate and Sam four feedings a day out of five, even though they almost always need formula as well.

That being said, feeding “solids” is entirely different and I love it! I eat oatmeal for breakfast most mornings and the girls have appeared very interested in what I’m doing when I eat it. Since rice, oat, and barley cereals are the recommended first foods for baby tummies that are just learning to digest something besides milk, I decided to share a little. Starting in early April, I would dip my finger in the blueberry-oaty water in my bowl and then let them suck it off my finger. I occasionally gave them a tiny oat bit or two which prompted some really funny expressions.

Our pediatrician said babies can start solid foods once they’re able to sit up by themselves, and now they can. So last Sunday, armed with some baby spoons Gram Nancy brought us, we started practicing eating. For a few days I just dipped their little spoon in the watery blue part of my oatmeal. But on Wednesday I bought them some Happy Bellies Oatmeal of their own. I’m mixing it with the watery blueberry runoff from my oatmeal so it tastes the same, but it has a much finer texture.

Sam seemed to grasp what to do with the spoon almost immediately, and Cate worked it out over the next day or two. Now they both get more oatmeal in than out, though with the blueberry tint, the drippings are pretty messy. A big thanks to Susan and Mike for the giant Rice U bibs which not only match the blueberries, but are big enough to keep blue oatmeal off of their clothes!

Our morning routine is now nursing, oatmeal, and then formula. I’m really enjoying it and the girls seem to enjoy it, too. I’m also looking forward to feeding them new foods soon. It bummed me out that Sam and Cate’s first exposure to flavors has been fake-grape-flavored acetaminophen, fake-cherry-flavored Prevacid, and fake-vanilla-flavored lactase supplements. I’m really excited about exposing them to real flavors. And since their Dad likes to cook, he’s excited about preparing real food for them, too. This is going to be fun!

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Tasty perqs of a husband at home

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

Have I mentioned lately that I *love* having Bill at home all the time?

Of the 12 years that Bill and I have been together, he has spent nearly 10 of them on the road, working Monday to Friday in various US cities, most-recently New York. However, all that ended this spring. After several months working from home, his last day with Deloitte was May 27th. His next full-time gig has not materialized yet, and while our budget will be better if the next job comes along soon, we are both enjoying the benefits of Bill’s current freedom.

Unlike me, Bill loves to cook. He has always said so, but it didn’t happen often during the years he was on the road. Now that he’s home all the time, Bill has taken over our shopping and cooking. He was always a more creative cook than I am, and now that he has unfettered access to both our kitchen and the grocery, he’s getting more creative by the week. He’s out shopping as I write, and I’m eager to see what new tasty meals will come out of our recyclable grocery sacks next!

Some days Bill tackles whole meals, complete with festive presentation:

pork chops
Grilled pork chops, quinoa pilaf, grilled bell peppers and asparagus, with a salad of romaine, tomatoes, and bell peppers.

Marinated grilled scallops with a lemon caper sauce, butternut squash soup in a sourdough boule, and a spinach salad with mushrooms, apples, bacon, and balsamic vinaigrette.

Other days our pantry foraging is supplemented with tasty treats:

tres leches with strawberries
Tres leches cake with giant ripe strawberries

The biggest bowl of homemade guacamole I’ve ever seen

Bill is making dinner again tonight (blade steaks, unless he found something more tantalizing on sale at the store), and he’s promised more homemade guacamole as an appetizer. My cousin Sharon is coming over, too, and she’s bringing her homemade mac-n-cheese. I can’t wait!*

*Literally, I can’t wait. These babies already have my stomach rumbling with hunger, so I’m off to find a snack. But Bill’s cooking later is going to be awesome! :-D

Return of the Yumbo!

Monday, May 30th, 2011

During these last two months of eating six times a day, I’ve become bored with a lot of my usual fare. I’ve been seeking new things to eat, especially combinations that include carbs, protein, and fat. In this context, Bill whipped up a new sandwich for me:

  • two slices of sourdough,
  • thin-sliced ham on one side,
  • a slice of Havarti cheese on the other,
  • set the oven to 400 degrees (Note: no need to preheat the oven), pop it in for 9-10 minutes, and then…
  • pull it out, assemble, and devour.

Bill thinks it’s just a hot ham-and-cheese, but I know better. It’s a Yumbo!

Anyone remember the Yumbo? For a few years in the late 1970s, Burger King made a sandwich called the Yumbo. It was a hot ham-and-cheese sandwich, served on a sesame seed roll. The ham was thin and savory, the cheese was hot and melty, and the combination was super satisfying. Just like Bill’s sandwich. Yumbo!

Bob’s 15-minute grilled eggplant

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

When our friends Stubbie and Angel ask “What’s for dinner?” the answers often sound downright delectable. Dinner at our house is rarely anything special, but we do have some yummy fare. My newest tasty treat is grilled eggplant. Here’s how I make it:

1. Go to the grocery and ask Charles in Produce to help me find a ripe, organic eggplant (or two). He says the darker purple, the better. Pay and bring them home.

ripe eggplant

2. Heat the grill to 375-400°F. Rinse the eggplant, remove the ends, and cut the rest into slices 3/8″ to 1/2″ thick.

sliced eggplant

3. Fill a small plate with extra virgin olive oil, and bathe each slice in oil. Sprinkle each slice with sea salt and throw them all on the grill for 10 minutes.

on the grill

4. Plate the eggplant, serve, and enjoy while it’s hot!

grilled eggplant

So yummy! And excluding the trip to the grocery, prep and cooking takes only 15 minutes. Enjoy!

Girl fun: rainbow mini cupcakes!

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

When I read HeatherAnne’s post about Rainbow Cupcakes, it sounded like a perfect activity to do with my nieces. Izzy and Sierra will be 5 and 10 respectively in July, and baking is well within their abilities.

Sierra’s school lets out at 12:30 pm on Fridays. It took me six weeks to carve out a work-free Friday afternoon, but I eventually did. I picked up the girls, we hit the store together, and spent the rest of the afternoon baking and icing. Meanwhile, Chris and Shawn enjoyed some kid-free time for a change. Much fun was had by all!

giggly girls
Lots of giggling made for great stress relief!

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rainbow mini cupcakes
Gorgeous colors outside…

rainbow layers inside
… rainbow layers inside!

The resulting cupcakes were both beautiful and delicious. But I have two observations for anyone who wants to try these:

  • the girls wanted some in “proper rainbow order,” but they also really enjoyed coming up with their own color combinations, and
  • pouring leftover batter into layers in a loaf pan was easy; carefully spooning thin layers into 24 mini muffin tins was a tedious PITA. Next time: we’ll use regular or even over-size muffin tins.