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I can’t take any credit for this pie, other than having been an experienced taste-tester. At my kids’ request, my mother-in-law took the reins on this project during a recent visit.
She used the pastry recipe here from Artisanal Gluten-Free Cookingand her favorite apple pie filling recipe for the center. According to her, the dough was “terrible, just terrible to work with,” but of course GF doughs are often tricky and tend to fall apart a lot. We wondered if using a pastry cloth would’ve made it easier (I don’t have one). Still, though, isn’t it a beautiful pie?
The results are so delicious that I would definitely try this again, tricky dough or not! A certain anonymous person (not a gluten-free eater) even tried to eat more than his allotted share.
I would say the pastry was a bit more crackery in texture than traditional dough, but it was still yummy. I think I’ll try it again at Thanksgiving, though I may use a crumble-top instead of a pastry top.
Currently reading America’s Womenby Gail Collins. She’s got such a fresh voice and fantastic sense of humor—-this is the way history should be written.
A few of posts around the web that caught my fancy recently:
–this one from Amy Karol of Angry Chicken about using free digital art from the Rijksmuseum
Hope you had a great weekend. Ours was long and relatively lazy. We even started some Christmas crafting. Feels a little early, but I know it’ll be here before we know it. I even went totallly nerdo and made a spreadsheet of the gifts I’ve already purchased and squirreled away. I have more of a head start than I thought. Woohooo!
This is a really simple way to do green beans and a favorite in our house. Until I was in my twenties, I had never had a crunchy-ish green bean—always the soft and soupy kind. I still like the soft ones now and then, but roasting is my go-to way to cook them, and the garlic, onions, almonds, and vinegar give this dish lots of flavor.
When I roast the beans and onions, I keep the onions all to one side of the pan so they can be easily separated. The kids won’t touch anything with a visible onion attached to it. They don’t eat the almonds, either. More for the grown-ups, right? The kids do like the flavor the finishing vinegar gives, though, and even my six-year-old, by far the pickiest, asked for seconds when I served this dish.
The Mollie Katzen recipe, from The New Moosewood Cookbook, is here. I just substituted sliced almonds for pine nuts, since I always have almonds on hand and pine nuts are crazy expensive.
This is really more of a suggestion than a recipe. As I may have mentioned, I’m not doing wheat these days (long story), and in general I’m trying to eat more veggies and fewer grains. I miss my tabbouleh, though (usually made with bulghur wheat).
As usual, the full-of-fresh-herbs dressing is the key ingredient, and it tied everything together nicely. Even got a thumbs up from the hubs. I planted a whole hedge of parsley this year and have been so, so happy to have it for salads like this. It’s really easy to grow from seed (basil, too).
For more of my recipes and cooking posts, click here. You’ll notice I seem to have a thing for chickpeas.
What about you? Made any interesting salads lately? My new herb garden is keeping me inspired.
We were going to go to the pool, but it was thundery. So we pulled out our pasta crank and got going on our first try at gluten-free homemade pasta.
Hubs got me Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking as a gift not long ago, and though I’d looked at its lovely pages many times, I’d never tried anything from it. Now that we’ve got two gluten-avoiders in the house, though, I’m more inclined to try gluten-free baking and such. The book has a special gluten-free flour blend recipe. You make a big batch of it and keep it in the fridge for all sorts of recipes.
I’ve made regular pasta with the crank a few times. The gluten-free version was definitely more challenging, and the results, while yummy, aren’t quiiiite the same. Everyone ate it enthusiastically, though, and fought over who got the last bits. I’m sure it will be easier and better the next time. The kids did a great job, but my patience was definitely wearing thin by the last few cranks.
Click here for a similar recipe by the cookbook authors. Hubs and I ate the pasta with basil and walnut puree (same ingredients as in the last post, just adding walnuts. Yum! The kids are begging to try the cinnamon rolls (from the book) next.
For more of my food posts, click here. Have a great weekend!
My kids saw these cinnamon rolls in Artisanal Gluten-Free Cookingand begged for days and days to make them. I usually save my cooking energy for meal-making, but the kids were determined, so we gathered ingredients and gave them a whirl.
As these things go, they were not all that hard to make. As usual with GF baking, the dough is a bit trickier to handle, but rolling it out between sheets of plastic wrap, as instructed, helped a lot.
When you roll the dough into a long tube, you can kind of pull the plastic out from under the dough, and it rolls together quite nicely.
We cut the sugar by about 1/3 cup and didn’t miss it because of the sugar glaze. They didn’t rise much (at all?), and the texture was a bit more like shortbread than a traditional cinnamon roll. As a friend pointed it, that’s probably because of all the butter! That said, they were a big hit with everyone, gluten-free or not, including my parents.
Two thumbs up for these. I’m sure we’ll make them again when we have the time. For more of my cooking posts, click here. For those of you who aren’t gluten-free, don’t worry, I’ll still be posting all kinds of meals, not just GF baking.
Coming up: some craft and sewing posts. Oh, and we just saw two movies worth watching. One, for grown-ups: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, with Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. The other, for kids: Dolphin Tale, inspired by the true story of a dolphin who got a prosthetic tail after losing hers to amputation. Our kids love animal movies and are extremely sensitive to anything scary. After a little coaxing past the beginning injury scene (not very graphic), it went over very well.
Y’all, I’ve tried a LOT of gluten-free pizza. Some baked goods are easy to make GF, but pizza isn’t one of them. It usually tastes kind of card-boardy. The best store-bought kind I’ve found was of a ball of frozen dough from Earth Fare (sorry, I don’t know the brand). But it was crazy, crazy expensive.
This recipe is by far the best I’ve had. Favorito. Really nice texture, not sandy or weird like some others. Even our six-year-old (who is newly gluten-free) loved it. It’s also incredibly easy if you’ve already made your stash of gluten-free flour mix.
And the best part is, the dough only has to rise 10 minutes, so, unlike traditional homemade pizza dough, you don’t have to plan so far in advance. It doesn’t require kneading, either, just mixing.
This recipe is a TOTAL keeper! Like my recent GF recipe trials, it’s also from Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking by Kelli and Peter Bronski. The recipe for a similar version of it is here.
The book includes a recipe for a bulk batch of GF flour mix, and then you’re all set to use it in many of the recipes. It’s completely worth the effort, and, although not inexpensive, is a better deal than buying pre-mixed GF flour.
One note on the recipe. My hubs grilled it, which went really well, but he had to pay close attention to the cooking time. I like it nice and crispy, but there are also directions for deep dish pizza in the book.
Yes, I hear you, you’re not gluten-free, and you wonder when my regularly scheduled cooking program is coming back. No worries, this is not going to become a blog solely about GF baking. It’s just what I’m excited about right now.
In other news, I’m waiting to get editorial notes on my young adult novel, and I’m currently researching for a nonfiction book project that had been on the back burner for quite awhile (since we were living in Germany over a year ago). Now that I’m researching in the U.S., with access to an American library, it’s way more fun! I’m still struggling with the shape of the project, but I’m happy to find that I’m just as interested in the subject matter. Hopefully I can share more about it when it’s a bit further along.
Meanwhile, I’ve been sewing a lot. Close to finishing a couple of projects that I hope to show you soon.
You would think that after the holiday season--which included baking 50 snowman-shaped sugar cookies for the second grade classes at my son's school (that's 3 batches) and a batch for my own family--I would be all baked out. I admit, it did take me a little while to recover from my Christmas bakeapalooza and now we've got Valentine's Day class parties on the horizon. This past weekend, though, I felt like making bread. Not the sandwich bread I make every week in my bread maker but a nice, sweet quick bread. I pulled out a Christmas gift, Erin McKenna's Babycakesto look for inspiration.
Here's the thing about Babycakes, which features recipes used in McKenna's hugely popular New York City bakery: all of the recipes are vegan and mostly gluten- and (refined) sugar-free. I say 'mostly' because that's what the book's subtitle says. But really, if you have celiac disease or a gluten allergy you will want to read the recipes carefully because some of them do call for spelt flour. Anyway, because the recipes are vegan/gluten-free/sugar-free (and kosher) they call for ingredients like Bob's Red Mill gluten-free all-purpose baking flour, coconut oil, dairy-free milks and agave nectar. Most people don't happen to have these sitting around in their kitchens and they can be hard to come by (though they are becoming more mainstream--I've seen them at Target!). However, once you have McKenna's favored ingredients on hand you can use them for almost any recipe in the book.
Back in October, when I had this book from the library, McKenna's pumpkin spice muffins were my first attempt at baking the Babycakes way and I can't say it was my most successful baking attempt. It had nothing to do with the recipe itself and everything to do with the user: I had gotten it into my head that I wanted pumpkin bread, and nothing else would do. The thing never cooked through, even after leaving it in the oven well over the cook time. This time I knew better and the only modification I made to the recipe for banana chocolate chip bread was to use non-fat cow's milk in place of rice milk. All told, I could have baked it a little longer because the very middle was a little undercooked but the top was nicely browned and the toothpick I inserted came out clean. Maybe I have been eating gluten-free for too long, but I wouldn't have known the bread doesn't contain gluten. My kids ate it up and asked me to put slices in their lunch boxes for their snack today.
"Martha was very fond of making split pea soup Sometimes she made it all day long. Pots and pots of split pea soup." - James Marshall, George and Martha
I love soup. During the winter months I make soup a minimum of once a week. I'd make soup every night if I thought I could get away with it but I suspect that would result in my family surreptitiously trying to dispose of their leftovers in their shoes. Like George does in George and Martha, James Marshall's sweet and funny book (the first in a series) about two best friends.
In Marshall's very short chapters (or vignettes, if you will) we are introduced to George and Martha, two best friends who occasionally get on each other's nerves and aren't afraid to put each other in their proper places. They are a bit like Frog and Toad, or Bert and Ernie. Despite misunderstandings, their friendship is what holds them together.
It doesn't hurt that the stories have a lot of kid appeal. In one story, Martha chews George out for being a peeping tom (this comes off as hilarious, not creepy). In another, George breaks his "favorite" tooth and must have it replaced with a gold tooth (I was fascinated by this when I was a kid). And then there is the infamous split pea soup story. In it, Martha repeatedly serves George her homemade split pea soup. George, too polite to tell Martha he hates split pea soup, quietly puts up with it until one day he can stand it no longer and dumps his bowl (his tenth of the day!) in his shoe. Unfortunately Martha has seen the whole thing. Instead of being offended, she gently suggests he tell her the truth next time . . . and confesses that she, too, hates split pea soup. She just likes making it.
I have to thank my friend Jess for reminding me about the split pea soup chapter in this book. I thought George and Martha were hilarious when I was growing up so I'm not sure why it took me so long to introduce them to my boys. At five and seven, my boys are just the right ages to find the stories absolutely hilarious. We have George and Martha: The Complete Storie
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One of the activities my two boys (ages 5 and 7) and their 2 year old cousin all love to do together is play with the play kitchen at my parents' house. There's just something about pretending to cook that appeals to kids. For a long time, before we had our own play kitchen set up in our home, it was one of the things my kids were most drawn to at children's museums and friends' houses. Come to think of it, my sister and I are four years apart and rarely played together growing up but my sister's Little Tikes kitchen was one thing that we both enjoyed.
Me and my sister, circa 1986.
Carolyn Parkhurst's Cooking with Henry and Elliebelly (illustrated by Dan Yaccarino) perfectly captures young childrens' fascination with cooking and creating. We are introduced to siblings Henry and Elliebelly via their cooking "show". Henry, the older sibling, has his own vision of how their show should proceed. As Henry tries to instruct his "viewers" in the finer points of making raspberry-peanut butter-marshmallow waffles, the toddler Elliebelly wreaks havoc and frustrates Henry with her very toddlerlike demands. First she insists she be allowed to help. Then she orders Henry to wear a pirate hat. Frustrated but undeterred, Henry gamely works around his dervish of a sister until their play is interrupted by their (offstage) mother's offer of real waffles.
One of the things I love most about this book is that the author clearly gets how kids play, and how easily older siblings become frustrated with their younger siblings. Reading the interactions between Henry and Elliebelly is a lot like listening in on my own kids as they play in one room while I'm in another. It was a nice touch to have their mother's offstage responses to their bickering presented in quote bubbles. Henry and his little sister are a bit younger than my own kids but their personalities are remarkably similar. It's not a stretch to accept that Elliebelly insists Henry wear a pirate hat while they do their "show" because I have a son who likes to wear a Batman cape while doing just about anything.
We decided to make Henry's raspberry-peanut butter-marshmallow waffles, with one caveat: we didn't follow Henry's recipe. His recipe calls for "Seventeen cups of imported flour from Kansas," and duck eggs. And that is before Elliebelly decides to add pizza and "Baby Anne" to the mix. Yeah. I think we'll stick with a more traditional approach. If you can even call raspberry-peanut butter-marshmallow waffles traditional. We whipped these up for an after school snack.
I started making these a few years ago when we were going through a no-wheat exclusionary diet for my son. I thought the kids might balk at the thought of pancakes made out of chickpea flour, so I just told them they were “salty” pancakes, and the name stuck. Three of us really like them. My son is now going through a phase where he’s rejecting everything, but I still make them. They’re a quick, pantry-friendly meal, and I love that the protein and fiber from the beans goes down so easily.
The recipe is here, though there’s also one in Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. He also has one for chickpea fries that I’ve never tried, but it sounds divine.
A few notes on the recipe. You’re directed to cook the pancake partly on the stove and partly in the oven, using an ovenproof pan. Maybe my technique is lacking, but that method has never worked for me, and I cook them much like other pancakes, flipping over in the pan. Sometimes they do fall apart (don’t make them too big) but they taste good even when in bits.
Germany friends: you can find chickpea flour at Denn’s Bio and Alnatura. I’ve found the chickpea flour here in Germany to be a bit coarser than the American kind. The coarse flour makes for a slightly different (but still good) texture. You will probably need to add more water to the batter than the recipe calls for in this case. It should be about the same consistency as regular pancake batter.
I usually serve the pancakes plain with some freshly ground pepper on top and veggies on the side. The recipe says you can serve with sliced onions, which I’m sure is delicious, and I’m thinking they would also be great topped with fresh tomatoes or feta lots of other things. Enjoy!
Here’s a photo of the batter in the pan:
6 Comments on Chickpea Pancakes (Socca), last added: 3/7/2012
Yep, this is just the same pancake batter (Ben’s Friday Pancakes from Feeding the Whole Family) made into waffles. No changes at all except cooking method. They turned out really well. Great texture and flavor. Gluten-free if you use gluten-free oats. Yum!
In other news, I’m still plugging away at the character exercises on my novel. On a whim, I decided to organize all the documents related to this novel. Over a hundred documents! Seems like it should be finished by now, but there’s so much more to do.
You may think I’m a vegetarian from all my veggie posts, but I DO eat meat. Just not a lot of it. More on that here.
We love burgers around here, but I’m always trying to get my people to eat ones that don’t involve red meat. The turkey ones always seem to need a bit of doctoring, in my experience. I love the Mar-a-Lago burgers championed by Oprah, but really, they’re just too much work for a weeknight and the flavors, while delicious, don’t really go with our favorite toppings (like ketchup and pickles).
These are a good compromise, and, with a few recent tweaks, they’ve entered into that rare realm which is the full-family-seal-of-approval. Like, all four members. I’m probably jinxing that status just by typing this, but I’m willing to risk it, just for you.
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped onion (the finer the better, in order to trick the kids)
1 TB Worcestershire sauce
dash of hot sauce
good sprinkling of sweet paprika
a judicious amount of ground pepper
1. If your turkey meat is fairly dry, moisten the oats with about a tablespoon of water and let rest for a minute or two. If the meat has a fair amount of water content already, skip this step.
2. Combine with other ingredients. I hate doing this with my hands so I use two big spoons. Mix just enough to get it well-combined and make into patties.
3. You can grill these, but I find it’s actually a lot easier to cook them in my cast iron pan on the stove. They fall apart easily on the grill. I cook them at medium low for several minutes on each side to make sure they’re all the way done. This way the outsides don’t burn. Check to make sure there’s no pink.
4. Add toppings and enjoy!
*So, like many turkey burger recipes, the mother recipe called for bread crumbs. Since I’m not eating wheat, I could use GF bread crumbs, but I decided instead to try oatmeal. Bingo! Totally works and in fact is an improvement in my book.
*Last night I discovered I had a pound of turkey, not a pound and a half. The whole mixture was gooey (ew!) so I added a second half cup of oatmeal. I was a little nervous about the gamble, but they turned out great, with no comments from the peanut gallery. And as a bonus, they used less meat.
One question I have for you—-all turkey burger recipes seem to have something like mayo in them for, I guess, texture and flavor. Do you think the mayo nixes the health benefits of changing to turkey meat? Do you think I could skip it?
And one more question: anybody have a fantastic gluten-free vegan burger recipe? I know, sounds like a tall order, but I’m totally convinced there’s one out there. So far I haven’t done any trials, but let me know if you’re ahead of me.
I threw this together the other night when I needed something pretty quick and had to use what I had on hand. It was a perfect easy supper.
It’s inspired by Rachael Ray’s Calabacitas Casserole, which is yummy but more involved, with no beans. I once had it at my sister-in-law’s house, and was immediately sold.
My casserole is based on three main ingredients: black beans, salsa, and pre-cooked polenta. Anything else is icing on the cake.
Quick Black Bean and Polenta Casserole
Measurements are approximated. What you want is enough salsa to give the beans plenty of flavor.
2-3 cups canned or pre-cooked black beans, drained (I used up leftovers I had cooked the day before)
1/2 to 1 jar chunky salsa (I used Herdez salsa, which was great, but would’ve been better semi-drained. I think semi-drained Ro-tel would also be excellent, and maybe even Mexican-style stewed tomatoes)
1 tube prepared polenta, sliced into 1/3 inch rounds (you could also cook your own, then chill and slice)
Preheat oven to 375 F. I made a smaller version of this (since it was just for me) and cooked it in the toaster oven.
Place the beans in an oiled casserole dish (maybe 8 x 8), and add enough salsa to suit your taste. You want a little less salsa than beans, but enough salsa to add lots of flavor. Lay the polenta rounds on top and brush them with a little olive oil.
Bake for 35 minutes or so at 375 F, then add, if you feel like it, a handful of spinach and chopped scallions, and turn up the heat to 400 F. When the spinach is wilted, the polenta is getting crispy, and the beans are bubbling, it’s done.
The polenta adds structure and has such a great creamy/ crispy texture that I really didn’t miss having cheese. This one will definitely go on my repeat list. I think I’ll add more spinach next time and maybe cilantro. Hmmm…what about sweet potato?
For more of my recipes and recipe trials, click here.
You have less than a day left to join the giveaway for a gorgeous Dawn Hanna print. Details here. All you have to do is comment about which print is your favorite—-you won’t be added to a mailing list. Just enjoy!
I’m on a cauliflower kick, what can I say? I seem to be eating a lot of it, roasted, with various toppings. I think it’s because my friend Laurel mentioned it, then it was in the paper (something about a cauliflower trend—yes I still read a paper paper) and then I just couldn’t get it out of my head.
Besides cutting out wheat, I’m avoiding large servings of grains in general, so the idea of something mild and non-grain that takes flavors very well —–a sauce depository, if you will—-is very appealing. I was never a huge fan of cauliflower in the past, but I think, as with many veggies, I just had to find my favorite cooking method. Roasting wins.
First, preheat the oven to 375F. Slice the cauliflower into pieces about 1/4 inch to 1/3 inch thick, brush with olive oil and roast for about 20 minutes (just like the broccoli here). If you’re going to make the vinaigrette below, throw in a clove or two of garlic and roast them while you’re at it.
When the cauliflower is tender but still firm, with browning on the edges, it’s done. At least, that’s the done-ness I like.
I made this vinaigrette in homage to a bread dipping sauce from a favorite restaurant, Passion8 Bistro in Fort Mill. Charlotte area friends, seriously, you MUST go there. It’s this funky little farm-to-fork place in the middle of nowhere. Besides great food, it has loads of character.
But I digress.
The vinaigrette is a loose combination of:
Roasted Garlic, minced
Chopped Olives (I used green ones but kalamata would be excellent)
a spoonful of Capers
a judicious amount of red pepper flakes (I’m addicted)
Red Wine Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
I usually do a little more olive oil than vinegar and just add however much I like of the rest of the stuff, to taste.
Charlotte friends, I feel compelled to mention a couple of places we’ve eaten recently that, in addition to Passion8 Bistro, were just outstanding.
The King’s Kitchen (which is owned by the same guy that owns Roosters, which I also love) is outstanding—-sort of re-imagined upscale meat and three, and btw it’s non-profit, which is totally fascinating and you should read about it on their website. I had the hangar steak. Yum!
Doan’s Vietnamese Restaurant: try the hotpots!! It’s like a Vietnamese broth fondue. So excellent and fun. Best tomyum broth I’ve ever had.
And one more: Zeitouni’s Mediterranean Grill at Toringdon in Ballantyne. Seriously, how did I not get a clue about this place earlier? The falafel is TO DIE FOR!
Okay, that’s a lot of exclamation points, but really, it’s been good dining lately. What about you? What’s got you inspired in the kitchen/ out to eat lately?
"Look--the moon can still shine even when the night is darkest." - When the Moon Forgot, Jimmy Liao
This week I am trying something a bit different on this blog. Instead of the typical book + recipe post, I am going to expand my theme throughout the week to include other books and projects we do that relate to our featured books (yes, two today) and recipe. With school being out we have a lot more time to spend with our books, and more hours of the day to fill with activities.
One of my boys' favorite topics--a subject we return to time and again--is outer space. They are fascinated by our solar system and space exploration. Over the years we've built up quite the collection of space books, from non-fiction to easy readers to fictional picture books. Kids are just fascinated with the moon and stars, even from a very early age.
"Archie cooks his specialty: fish and coconut soup. They have a wonderful meal, with fried bananas for dessert." - Archie and the Pirates, Marc Rosenthal
I had a totally different book picked out for this week. My kids, though, found a new book in the library and fell under its spell and insisted I write about it instead. I capitulated because, well, I was completely smitten too. The world Marc Rosenthal creates in Archie and the Pirates is quirky and amusing and charming. It's a world in which a monkey manages to assimilate to his new island life and, with the help of a bird and a tiger, run a ragtag bunch of pirates off their island. What's not to like?
I'll admit, on first glance I saw the Curious George-ish monkey on the cover and I thought it might be a poorly written knockoff. DO NOT JUDGE THIS BOOK BY ITS COVER. It quickly becomes clear that while author/illustrator Rosenthal may have been inspired by H.A. Rey, Jean deBrunhoff (of Babar fame) and other illustrators of their era, his book stands on its own. The story begins as the tale of a marooned monkey, Archie. We aren't sure how or why he washed up on the island (it happened in his sleep...he just drifted off while in his bed) but in short order he manages to find food, build a new home and make friends with an ibis named Clarice. A menacing tiger named Beatrice turns out to be another friend. The three have a party to celebrate their new friendship but, unbeknownst to them, pirates are on their way to the island. When the pirates kidnap Beatrice, Archie and Clarice take action to rescue her, thwart the pirates and scare them away. They and the other island creatures rejoice and Archie invites everyone to build homes near his since they are now friends.
This is a fun, quirky story with subtle humor that merits more than one reading. Close observations of the pictures reveal the pirates' impending arrival (their ship is seen through Archie's window as he sleeps) long before the animals see them. In one picture, before Archie meets Beatrice, she is seen lurking below his tree (again, with the pirate ship in the background). My kids love these little details and giggle over them every time we read the book. They also love the final illustration, of all the animals in their new homes. ("Which one is your favorite, Mommy? I like...") Rosenthal's writing style is straightforward, kind of quirky, and makes me and my kids laugh. Sample: "At the pirate camp, Captain Pequod has set First Mate LaFaargh to keep watch while they sleep, partly because he likes saying his name (LA FAAAARGH!), but mainly because LaFaargh has trouble sleeping." I know this is one of those books that, if we don't buy it, will be one my kids look for every time we go to the library.
When my kids asked me to put this book on the blog I had a brief moment of panic. What should I cook to go with a book about pirates and anthropomorphic jungle animals? Then I remembered that Archie cooks his favorite meal for Clarice and Beatrice to celebrate their new friendship. The meal? Fish and coconut soup (with fried bananas for dessert).
Some of you may notice the title of this post also happens to be the beginning of the Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever." What does this song have to do with this post? Everything.
For a bit of a change this week, I'm not presenting my recipe with a book. I'm presenting my recipe with Beatles songs. The Beatles as kidlit. Or kid poetry. Or something.
Before school ended I asked my kids what they wanted to learn about this summer. One of the things they both mentioned was the Beatles. I looked for a picture book with awesome illustrations that introduces the Beatles in a fun, engaging manner. Something along the lines of The Day-Glo Brothers, Racing Against the Odds or The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau (three biographies my kids have recently enjoyed). Such a thing does not seem to exist. (Perhaps this is my cue to write such a thing?) So, spending a week learning about the Beatles and their songs was the best I could do. Which is not really a problem because we happen to be big Beatles fans around here.
We'll start with a recipe though. There are a number of Beatles songs that mention food. We've got the songs "Glass Onion" and "Mean Mister Mustard." "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" has "marmalade skies" and "marshmallow pies." But for me, there is only one song that worked as inspiration for this week's recipe.
"Strawberry Fields Forever" is my all time favorite song. Strawberries are my all time favorite food. Of course we had to make strawberry shortcake to kick off our Beatles week.
"It's hot today. Maisy is having a nice cold drink. Mmmm. Lemonade." - Maisy Makes Lemonade, Lucy Cousins
You may have noticed that lately the recipes on my blog have tied into the season--summer is the time for sweet, refreshing delights like fruit salad and strawberry shortcake. Another quintessential summer treat? Lemonade. What's more, it's easy to prepare. Even very young children can get involved.
Maisy Makes Lemonade was a library find. My four year old is in a stage where he still enjoys simple and comforting books like Cousins' Maisy books just as much as he enjoys more mature fare such as Batman versus the Joker. He was quite taken with both on a recent library trip and while neither would have necessarily been what I'd have chosen for him, I do think it's important to give my kids the ability to choose their own books at the library.
So I was going through the stack of library books to read one more time before our beach vacation and as I picked up Maisy Makes Lemonade I thought, Well, there's a good topic for the blog.
For those not familiar with Maisy (though if you have a toddler/preschooler, you should be), she's a mouse who--along with her various animal friends--experiences things that most kids are familiar with. In addition to making lemonade there are Maisy books about going to bed, going shopping, and going to places like the dentist or on vacation. They're told simply with a minimal amount of text on each page and cute, colorful illustrations. The storyline in Maisy Makes Lemonade is simple and predictable (to adults): Maisy shares her lemonade with her friend Eddie (an elephant) and they run out. They decide to make another pitcher. They pick lemons from Maisy's tree and make their lemonade, step by step. Then they enjoy their refreshing beverage. My kids wanted to make their own lemonade after reading it. If you have a small child, it's a good opportunity to suggest making lemonade "just like Maisy."
6 lemons (or, enough to yield 1 cup of lemon juice)
1/2 cup sugar (I used a combination of regular and raw sugar)
5 cups water
1. Slice lemons in half and juice them. We don't have a citrus juicer so I let the boys do it by hand. You need one cup of juice for this recipe.
3 Comments on Maisy Makes Lemonade - Lemonade, last added: 7/21/2010
"She opened the over door and the kitchen filled with a smell sweeter than summer gardenias--the smell of teacakes." - Saturdays and Teacakes, Lester L. Laminack
When I was growing up I had a very close relationship with my grandfather. Due to the early deaths of my other three grandparents he was the only one I was really knew and he was, in a way, like a third parent to me and my sister. Some of my favorite memories are of going on walks together, eating cheese and crackers in front of TheYoung and the Restless and--when I was in upper elementary school--getting involved in stamp collecting together. My grandpa adored all of his grandchildren and bonded with all of us in different ways. For those of us who lived near him, he never missed a dance recital, concert, big sporting event or graduation. He also made it a priority to visit his other grandchildren who lived across the country. I miss him every day and think about him often--especially when I see my boys enjoying things he would have enjoyed, like getting excited about planting flowers in our garden or playing an instrument.
(Me and Poppa, circa 1981)
Saturdays and Teacakes by Lester Laminack is the story of a boy and his grandmother (Mammaw) and the special relationship between a child and a grandparent. Their standing Saturday date is a ritual that begins with the main character setting off on his bike and riding through town until he reaches her home. Their day includes sharing breakfast, doing yardwork, eating lunch (with fresh tomatoes from the garden) and--finally--making and eating Mammaw's special teacakes. Chris Soentpiet's lovely, Rockwell-inspired watercolor illustrations firmly place the story in a not-so-distant past and evoke feelings of nostalgia for a bygone era--a time when little kids really did ride their bikes through town (without helmets!) and gas station attendants wore spiffy uniforms. Despite the setting, the story is one all who have a special bond with a grandparent can relate to.
It's August and friends of mine in other areas of the country have been enjoying blueberry picking. I know this because I see their status updates and pictures on Facebook. While my family did recently enjoy picking strawberries and blackberries, we unfortunately don't live in an area that is very conducive to blueberry growth. We have to buy ours at the store. Even so, with blueberry season in full swing we're able to find inexpensive fresh berries in our local stores.
There's only one book I can think of to pair with blueberry picking (or eating, as the case may be): Robert McCloskey's 1948 classic Caldecott Honor winner, Blueberries for Sal. It is the story of Sal and her mother and the day they spend picking berries to can for the winter (I had to explain canning to my kids). Like many small children, Sal is more interested in wandering and eating the berries rather than paying attention to her mother. This is how she inadvertently ends up following a mama bear--whose own distracted cub has been following Sal's mother. In the end everyone gets sorted out and Sal and her mother return home with their blueberries, nobody worse for the wear. (The lovely endpapers, which show Sal and her mother canning their harvest, are a nice touch.)
My kids laughed out loud when Sal took more interest in eating the berries than in following her mother, and again when the mother bear realized she was being followed by a human child rather than her own cub. My favorite part of the book? The pen and ink illustrations, which are blue and white rather than the traditional black and white. Love that blue! It's simple and effective and, well, just pretty.
If you are looking for ways to use up some blueberries this summer, I've got just the recipe for you! This is one of our family favorites and my husband shares equal credit for creating it. I may have made the first batch of frozen yogurt in our ice cream maker years ago but he is the one who perfected and embellished i
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"But there were all nine kinds of pie that Harold liked best" - Harold and the Purple Crayon, Crockett Johnson
Well hi there. Long time no blog, right? I have no excuse, other than a combination of laziness/busyness. In the weeks between my older son beginning school and my younger son finally starting (he's doing kindergarten at a private school) things were kind of chaotic. It was a combination of wanting to spend some one on one time with my youngest before he headed off to full-day kindergarten, dealing with some health issues, helping my second grader adjust to the new school year, school meetings and general blogging apathy. I needed a break. My youngest started school last week, just in time for a weekend of house guests. I am finally getting it together again and dipping my toe back into the Kidlitosphere.
This doesn't mean that we weren't spending a lot of time reading and visiting our library and the bookstore. One of the things that we enjoyed during my blogging hiatus was the Crockett Johnson classic Harold and the Purple Crayon. My younger son picked it out on a recent trip to the bookstore and he is now hooked on the Harold series. My older son enjoys them too but it's the little one who carries his books around with him and asks to read them multiple times a day. He had the book mostly memorized on the second evening it was in our home.
I remember checking Harold and the Purple Crayon out from the library as a child and I find it just as enchanting now as I did then. Harold is an imaginative little boy who uses his purple crayon to create entire worlds for himself. One night, Harold decides to take a walk in the moonlight, so he draws a moon . . . and a sidewalk . . . and eventually a forest, the ocean, a city . . . until he finds his way back home to his own bed. It's all very cleverly done, with a subtle sense of humor and a lot of whimsy. Other than the brown outline of Harold, the only colors in the book are the white background and the purple outline of Harold's drawings. I love the purple and the brown, I love Harold's pointy turned up nose, I love that Johnson uses turns of phrase like "a hungry moose and a deserving porcupine."
The moose and porcupine in question are the recipients of the pie feast Harold has to abandon as he travels on his way. Nine kinds of pie. Maybe someday we'll make all nine kinds of pie; that would make an interesting ongoing feature on this blog, wouldn't it? But today we only made one kind of pie. Since the book did not specify "all nine kinds of pie that Harold liked best" I had to take some liberties and assume that one of those kinds of pie would be chocolate. Who doesn't like chocolate pie, right?
Since 1982, the last week of September has been designated as Banned Books Week. According to the American Library Association, it is a time to draw attention to "the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States." Books in our local libraries, schools and bookstores are challenged all the time, usually by people who object to the book's content or message and want to prevent others from having access to the materials they find so offensive. As an avid reader, a writer and a mother, I have a problem with the few who attempt to take something away from everybody just because it does not gel with their moral code.
This is just a partial list of books I love, books that have been challenged at one time or another:
-Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret - Judy Blume -A Wrinkle in Time - Madeline L'Engle -The Harry Potter series - JK Rowling -To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee -Catcher in the RyeDisplay CommentsAdd a Comment
"Sofia dumped the little pear-shaped figs into a bowl on the table. She dished out more helpings of gelato, each with three scoops and a fig. " - Three Scoops and a Fig, Sara Laux Akin
I grew up in a town that was once covered in fig orchards (now many of those orchards have become housing developments and shopping malls), but I have to be honest, I don't think I'd actually eaten a fresh fig until sometime last year. I feel embarrassed to even admit this but its true. I wasn't sure what to do with them so I sliced them and put them in yogurt for the kids. That seemed about right.
Sara Laux Akin's Three Scoops and a Fig presents a similar but tastier option for those looking to use up a fig surplus. Sofia, Akins' young protagonist, comes from a family of cooks. Her family owns an Italian restaurant and her older siblings contribute their own specialties to the family dinner table. On the occasion of her grandparents' anniversary, Sofia just wants to help her family as their prepare a special dinner but she keeps getting in the way. Unnoticed by her busy family, Sofia decides to slip away with a bowl of gelato for breakfast. When an errant fig from the fig tree drops into Sofia's bowl she discovers a new treat--and a way to contribute to the family dinner. Illustrator Susan Kathleen Hartung's muted colors and depiction of a close knit, multi-generational family infuse the story with warmth.
Three Scoops and a Fig includes extras--a recipe for an "Italian Flag Sundae" and a glossary of Italian words and phrases used in the story. Although the Italian Flag Sundae sounded delicious, I decided to stick with Sofia's original recipe.
Sofia's Fig Tree Sundae
vanilla ice cream
figs (fresh if you can find them)
1. Scoop ice cream into bowls. In order to stay true to the book I used three (small) scoops in each child's bowl.
2. Slice your figs. I must confess, I used dried figs for this particular recipe. I had been sitting on this review until after Halloween and by the time I was ready to post it I couldn't find fresh figs anywhere. Fig season, apparently, is very short (I feel this is something I should have known, having grown up in Fresno). Dried figs, however, were easy to find at the grocery store.
Oh, subervsive cautionary tales in the guise of children's books--how I love you. Really, I do. Maybe it's because when I was a child my cousin and I would spend the night at my Poppa's house; if we didn't go to sleep right away he would sneak outside and bang on the window with a stick and yell that he was the Boogeyman, there to "get" us. (You have to understand, my grandfather was not a traditional grandparent in any sense of the word.) So maybe my love for books like Pierre and Monsters Eat Whiny Children is just in my genes. To be sure, these books aren't for everyone--some may claim they're too scary or dark or inappropriate for young children. To those naysayers I say: I don't care.
First up, Maurice Sendak's classic Pierre. Pierre isn't a bad child, exactly. It's more that he's disengaged and refuses to show any emotion or react to his parents' proclamations, suggestions and threats with anything other than a bored, "I don't care." Pierre just doesn't care. About anything, apparently, not even the fact that he is pouring syrup on his hair. Finally, fed up, Pierre's parents leave the house without him. Soon a lion comes to the door. Predictably, Pierre is unmoved so the lion announces he will eat him. "I don't care," says Pierre, which is all the invitation the lion needs. When Pierre's parents return, horrified to find their son has become somebody's meal, they take him to a doctor who makes quick work of rescuing Pierre. Who finally cares.
Because I love Pierre so very much, I was very interested in checking out the Monsters Eat Whiny Children, which has received a lot of positive buzz this fall. Written and illustrated by New Yorker cartoonist Bruce Eric Kaplan, it is another book in which disobedient children finally get their comeuppance. Henry and Eve whine. A lot. Their father tells them that monsters eat whiny children b
"They would feat on Who-pudding, and rare Who-roast-beast Which was something the Grinch couldn't stand in the least!" - How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Dr. Seuss
That's right. I'm made a roast. I really had to ask myself: does the novelty of making something called "roast beast" make up for the fact that making it is an elaborate and time consuming affair? And the answer is yes. I make a roast like twice a year so I might as well make it now.
I hope everyone is familiar with Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas. If you aren't familiar with the book then surely you are familiar with the animated cartoon version that airs on television every year around this time. It's a holiday classic. But if you need a refresher...
The Grinch is a surly kind of guy who hates Christmas and all of the happy citizens in Who-ville who love it. (Clearly, he is just lonely and misunderstood and only acts out to mask his pain.) While grousing about how much he hates the season he is struck with inspiration: he will prevent Christmas from coming! He puts his plan into action and soon is sneaking into each home on Christmas Eve to make off with all of the Christmas trappings. But something goes wrong. As the Grinch is congratulating himself on Christmas morning, he realizes he can hear singing coming from Who-ville. Despite his best efforts, he hasn't ruined Christmas at all. The Whos may not have presents or decorations but they have each other and the Grinch is stunned to realize spirit of Christmas comes from within. He begins to have second thoughts about what he has done. Filled with the Christmas spirit, his heart grows "three sizes" and he returns to town to return all of the things he has stolen. He even presides over Christmas dinner, where he carves the roast beast. Awwww.
Obviously, we had to make roast beast in honor of the Grinch. Knowing Dr. Seuss the roast beast is probably some sort of moose or mammoth or something (the picture leaves it open to interpretation) but for our purposes I decided it was beef.