Archive for the ‘cooking’ Category

a spicy stew

there is a smallish cold romping through our family.  the main symptoms, along with the standard runny nose and sneezes, are tired, crabby, whining.

it is a blast.

this morning has been cold and rainy.  on tuesday we had such a nice nice day all at home together with no school to rush off to and i was excited for today to come.  i planned for us to get some bread started, read some books together, pick up a few things at the grocery store, then stop in the local knitting shop and be home for lunch and then a nap.

after measuring out the three different flours i realized we had no yeast.

the books were nice.

it took about an hour to get everyone dressed and ready to go out in the rain.

then they had a big fight about who got to stomp in which puddle on the way to the car.

that was a good sign of how the grocery store would be.  there was a lot of insisting going on and with the insisting a lot of tears and foot stomping and near yelling.  (and i am not saying it was all from the under five crowd or anything.  i have the cold too.)

so i folded, grabbed a few things we needed, and hurried us all home.

the kids set up at the kitchen table and began snacking heavily on the different chips they had convinced me to buy.  i reheated my tea and took a deep breath.

ever since yesterday at lunch time i have wanted soup.  i had secretly thought i would buy myself some at the local lunch place when we finished our errands but clearly that was out.

i measured out the yeast and we finished the (rye dill) bread.

smooshing it around with my bare hands helped.  as i was finishing up the smooshing/mixing i decided to cook soup.  soup would cure all.

i dug around and realized i had what i needed for a spicy mexican stew so i threw it together in my magic soup pot.  the kids ate chips and cashews while i cooked.  the pea also ate grapes and yogurt.  then they climbed themselves down and built forts out of the couch cushions, played pretend games of going to sleep and waking up, and jogged laps around the house pushing assorted strollers and vacuums.  happily.

i chopped and diced and browned and deglazed and simmered.

the perfect medicine for me.

a moment of quiet and creating.  (well you know — inner quiet.)

to be followed by eating a bowl of soup.


sometimes when it feels like its all coming apart at the seams i cook.  how about you?




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food comfort

a last minute snack/dinner/not sure yet came together for me this evening while the kids were eating their dinner.

it was so perfect and lovely.

sometimes food just grounds me.  it brings me back to my comfort place.  i think, in moderation, it is a great tool.

the snack:

step one – the other night i had roasted a bunch of veggies from our CSA.  (eggplant, pepper, summer squash, leeks, and tomatoes) with a boatload of garlic, some olive oil, and a splash of apple cider vinegar.  (i really think you could use any veggies you have around.)

step two – earlier today i sauteed a bunch of chard with — you guessed it — olive oil and garlic (and sea salt).

step three – this afternoon i took the kids to my favorite local bakery/bagel/food spot (where i spend way too much time and money i am sure) for a cookie and while there i grabbed a multigrain baguette and a small container of olive cream cheese.

step four – slice about 4 inches of the baguette off, cut it in half, toast it lightly.   while toasting reheat all veggies.  spread a think layer of olive cream cheese on lightly toasted bread, top with roasted veggies, top with chard.

step five – eat.  super messy.  you will need a (cloth!) napkin.

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about a week ago, during that crazy time i think of as “dinnerbathbed,” the bean came up with a plan.

“let’s bake carrot muffins!”

my inner dialog, “um, no.”

my shared response:

deep breath.  “right now it is a little bit too late in the day for us to start a project like that which will take a long time.  it is almost dark out so we know it is time for bath and bed soon.”

followed by much protest.

followed by a lightbulb moment.  “why don’t we get some paper and come up with the plan of how we will make the carrot cupcakes?”

“but i can’t write.”

“that is ok, you can draw the plan.”


that night we talked about what things we might need to bake carrot muffins.  mixing bowls, aprons, measuring spoons, flour and the like.  while we talked he was busy drawing:

the plan

after we had thought of every possible thing we might need i reminded him that i was not certain because we needed a recipe.  so, of course, i had to find a recipe.  right.now.before.bathbed.

trusty favorite bread book to the rescue:

the bread book that changed my life

after i found the recipe (for carrot bread) i was instructed by my bean to write each ingredient on the back side of the the plan so that we knew exactly what we needed.  example, “carrots A LOT.”  (a lot added by a certain four year old.)

the plan was a popular item.  night one he slept with it.  in the morning he ran to the master bedroom to show it to flash.  it got toted around with us in our bag.

the next morning he woke up and wanted to get baking.  at 6:14 am.  i reminded him (gently i am sure) that we did not have all the ingredients we needed.  we agreed we would go to the store later that day.  i made my own grocery list and he brought the plan.  he insisted that i carry the plan so that i could read each ingredient i had written on the back and make sure we bought it all.  mission accomplished.

for a day or two there was no mention of the carrot bread project so i let it slide.  remember, around this time flash was suddenly on crutches and i was feeling busy enough.

last night, once again during the magical dinnerbathbed time beanie suddenly perked up. i was wary.

“we need to grate the carrots! for the cupcakes!”
oh yes. i mean, “ok. we do need to do that to make our carrot bread. right now we can’t start that project though because it is too late. it is going to be dark soon so that means now we need to do our bath and bedtime. we can make the carrot bread tomorrow.”
“but, i want to make it now.”
“i know. we are not making it now though. there is not enough time. i am tired.”  some dictator some honesty.
“you said that already.”
“we need to remember to make it earlier in the day,” i suggest.
“i always forget,” he scowls.
“i can remember,” i tell him. feeling of course that sudden guilt that i have remembered and simply chosen not to delve into it.
“i will remember for us tomorrow morning,” i promise.

of course i didn’t have to.  we got to work promptly after waking up at what i like to think of as dawn because then it sounds quaint and romantic.  we mixed in all the ingredients and then he looked at the plan and said, “wait!  we forgot something.  it is a bottle with a top.  um, it is a small bottle with a top.”

ok, readers, please scroll up and look at the plan.  just to see if you are as impressed by his recognition of objects he drew as i was.  i looked at the recipe aagain and we had not forgotten anything so then i had to think of what i might have thought we would need and mentioned to him before we found a recipe.

“vanilla?” i tried.

“yes!  vanilla!”

so i threw caution to the wind and added some vanilla to the mix.

by 8 am we had our batch of carrot bread rising and a few minutes ago we put the dough into the loaf pans to prepare them for actual baking:

carrot bread rising

now it is baking as i type and it smells good. it is funny how these things often end up bringing me joy after all the myriad ways i resist them – imagining them to be just extra work in my day. what might be so bad about carrot bread?

oh please, don’t ask the bean that. i can assure you he won’t eat it. he only eats three things. bacon, parmesan cheese, and sticky o’s.

he has not yet discovered the joy of all things food but he clearly is being raised in a family that loves cooking…

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i spent the morning cooking up a storm and now i am thoroughly enjoying gathering together a few things to create a little care package for some friends of mine who just had their second child. what can i say, i just like making food for people. it feels good. plus, flash and i always remember the meals dropped off by friends right after the pea’s birth as the best possible kind of help.

i wonder what the world would be like if we all took a few minutes each day to intentionally help another person or family? or what it would be like if we dedicated ourselves to the act of helping others for a full hour everyday?

i don’t know what the answers are. i do know how to cook – so i cooked.

(for the extra curious my delivery will include: mexican stew and toppings, braised cabbage and leeks with angel hair pasta, mushroom, goat cheese and sage quiche, two hand knit hats, an elsa beskow book, and a bottle of wine. and of course, i wouldn’t be me if i didn’t show up with a bag of baby carriers in case she needs to borrow something…)

happy helping thursday.
until tomorrow.
woowoo the cooking fool mama

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the bean has the sweetest way of describing anything that was knit or sewn as something “mitted.”  the other day, talking about the flowers on his bed sheets, flash described them as “painted” on the sheets.  bean quickly corrected him, “no those are mitted on my sheets.  like when mama mitts something.”

this weekend i finished up some hats i have been working on as a new baby, older brother gift:

and i kept plugging away at my shawl:

i also managed to go out on both friday and sunday evening, run once, ride a horse twice, put clean sheets on some of the beds, do my food shop for the week, and do a little laundry.  not too shabby of a weekend.

last year a few friends and i decided we wanted to try sharing our weekly meal plans to help inspire one another.  we started a blog as the place to do the sharing.  within about two weeks the whole thing fell flat – only two of us had ever posted and it just didn’t seem worth the effort.  i recently decided that it couldn’t hurt to have a spot where i was posting my meal plan.  its easy enough if i skip sharing the recipes and just stick to a simple outline of my plan.  if anyone wants a recipe i am happy to put the effort into typing one out – just let me know in the comments!

now, in case you are looking for idea’s here she is:  bacon & cookies

take a peek, enjoy, and please feel free to share or link to your meal plan in the comments as well. i am always looking for ideas…

p.s. geneen roth actually took the time to leave a comment on the post i wrote the other day about my thoughts after watching her on oprah. how cool is that?!?!

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today i was scheduled to begin week four of my couch – 5k.

i spent the morning trying to think of reasons why i couldn’t possible do it.

discussing with myself possible options and other plans.

wondering who would win the debate.

considering the possibility of giving up the whole thing.

yes, that is right.  two days after the sneaky forest healing i am ready to quit.  what can i say?

resistance is the strangest thing.  when i am helping other people i can sometimes see that the things they need the most to do, to try, to be – they fight the hardest against.

then suddenly the switch flips and we find our way to the path and we breathe again.

i did run.

the running voice won.

the other voices dedicated themselves to being sure their messages were heard throughout the run but hey, that’s ok.  i know they love me.

as i try to remember, relearn, rediscover some appreciation for my body i waffle a lot.  do i want to diet?  just exercise?  do i want to loose weight as fast as i can?  do i want to try to love myself at this weight?  do i want to give up wheat and dairy again?  do i need to detox?  eat less?  get some vitamins?

the unbaked bread in the fridge has been taunting me.

i gaze longingly at the container imagining what i could do.  bake it up plain and eat it with brie?  roll it out into a pizza dough?  make an artichoke and feta flatbread?  try out the carmel nut raisin sticky bun recipe?

i have been doing my running and trying to make healthier eating choices for three weeks and i have noticed no change in my weight.  zero.

flash told me not to be concerned, fat was turning into muscle and i was looking trimmer.  (bless him.)

wotw’s fingers told me to eat less calories.

i am like any person.  tell me to be without and i feel deeply depressed.  i sit thinking of all the things i should not eat.  i spend whole minutes wondering what i must deny myself in effort to lose some pounds off my middle.  i feel forlorn.

i know what i need to do is focus on what makes me feel good.  eat things that fill me with energy.  i know my body has the ability to steer me correctly if i take the time to listen.

when i break it down to the simplest version of understanding in my mind i think, do i want to put myself on a detox diet or do i want to be french skinny?

after the run i took a quick shower and put some jeans on and did the standard once over check in the mirror. i was shocked and pleased to find i did not hate my butt. i looked again just to be sure i wasn’t making this up — the belly still looks like a deflated floatie toy but the bum is shaping up nicely.

to celebrate i allowed an indulgence. home made from lovely fresh, organic ingredients a la french skinny – the sticky buns:

with the sticky buns resistance is not such a problem.

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simple simple

you must have a go-to-marinade.

in case you do not i am about to share mine.

it is simple simple simple and it is equally tasty.

it works well on chicken, pork, and veggies.  baked in the oven, sauteed in a pan, or grilled.  go figure?!

fresh lemon juice

soy sauce

dijon mustard

olive oil

combine with whatever you are marinating.  let it sit for a bit.  cook it.  easy peasy one two threesy.

(ok ok, i have no idea how much of what.  do you need an example?  lets say it is about 1/4 lemon, 1/4 olive oil, 1/2 soy sauce to make it wet and just enough mustard to give it some zing.  does that count as providing measurements?)

in other news, i did my walk/run again today.  it was not a good run but given that i am about to sit in a class all day tomorrow and saturday i thought i better force the issue.  also, thanks to the comments on the last post i knew i had a few people out there cheering me on and that got me up that last hill.  i swear it.

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