Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Vintage Bed Sheet Lounge Pants

Picked up a really soft king-sized bed sheet at the thrift store. Used a pair of pj pants as a pattern and sewed this up extra quick. I've sewn with bed sheets often and find that they always come out of the wash wrinkle free. I don't know what the content of the fabric is but it's a definite bonus. Also, working with sheets is great because the sides are usually pre-hemmed. I offered to make Talia a matching pair and she rolled her eyes at me. I thought maybe the butterflies would be enough to get her attention but obviously, they are NOT her color. She wants a pair-- just not these. Hoping to get some sewing done over the Thanksgiving weekend. Likelihood... low.
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What We're Eating: Asian Trio of Stir-Fried Bok Choy, Asian Slaw and Sesame Noodles

I got bok choy over the summer and made this recipe and served it with a pan-fried hoisin noodle cake (way more trouble than it's worth!). I saw baby bok choy at the first indoor farmer's market this season so I made it again, this time with an Asian slaw and sesame noodles.

Stir Fried Bok Choy (modified from A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop):

1 medium head of bok choy, stems separated from leaves, large chop (I used a bunch of baby ones this time)
1/3 c water
4 tbl hoisin sauce
2 tbl rice vinegar
fresh pepper
1 tbl peanut oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbl ginger root, minced
salt and pepper

1. Combine the water, hoisin, vinegar and pepper
2. Stir fry the bok choy stems in oil for two minutes. Add the garlic and ginger for 30 seconds and then the bok choy leaves along with the hoisin mixture for about 3 more minutes. Season to taste.

Asian Cabbage Slaw (modified from Farmer John's Cookbook by John Peterson):

I actually used a bag of pre-shredded slaw-- I think this one was actually shredded broccoli stems with carrot and red cabbage. I added the red onion. The recipe calls for:

2 c shredded cabbage
1/3 c grated carrot
1/2 c minced red onion
2 tbl fresh mint (I used dried)
2 tbl fresh cilantro
2 tbl rice vinegar
2 tbl peanut oil
1 tbl rice wine
2 tsp honey
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
salt and pepper

1. Mix the dressing well and then toss it with the combined vegetables.

A side note: When it comes to seasonings I generally believe more is better. For something like this I might use more rice vinegar and honey and maybe a little more toasted sesame oil. I try not to use too much more oil but I like big flavors, so I generally up the vinegar or mustard or whatever gives a dressing it's tang.

Sesame Noodles:

I used this recipe. I added more cayenne, omitted the sesame seeds (just lazy) and pretty much tripled the recipe since I used closer to 1 lb of pasta, not 1/3 pound. I mean, come on, how many people will 1/3 pound of pasta feed?
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Monday, November 24, 2008

First Snowy Day

Today is the first time this season that snow has accumulated in Madison. Being the fantastic mother that I am, I actually took the kids out. Talia had a hundred problems getting dressed-- mostly due to her itchiness, which I had mostly forgotten about since last year. Her skin doesn't LOOK or FEEL particularly dry but she is sooooooo itchy all the time, especially in the winter. I don't know what her problem is. She couldn't wear her new snowsuit because she then couldn't reach her itchy spots. It was ridiculous, really. She also had problems with her boots (too tight) and her gloves (she couldn't scratch herself) and after it was all over she freaked out in general because I told her she could not have hot chocolate. The whole point of me taking them out in the snow was so that I could move them out of the house and closer to my goal of going to the grocery store. So she couldn't have hot chocolate until we came home from the store. Nor would I stop and put her new earrings in, which she had forgotten about until that moment. Plus I didn't want her to change her pants because I told her not to make snow angels unless she was wearing her snowpants. Then she just. couldn't. hurry. up. Just a typical morning trying to get her out of the house.

This was Alex's first time in the snow as a toddler and he really enjoyed it but wouldn't wear the mittens I bought him. I don't blame him-- what can you do with mittens on? The new boots I got for him worked beautifully and Talia's old snowpants fit great. He was able to walk around quite well and was generally happy, which seems to be his disposition. It wasn't too cold out and the snow is mostly gone by now. I have a pile of wet boots, pants, gloves etc to dry and put away but considering that was our only activity of the day and the kids were good at the grocery store (I had to feed them bread, an apple, goldfish, and buy a water bottle) I guess that's ok.
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Friday, November 21, 2008

Farfalle with Roasted Butternut Sqush, Pine Nuts and Parmesan

Roast the butternut squash (toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven at...350? 400? for 20? 30? minutes-- I can't remember off the top of my head, sorry. I'm sure either will work). Cook pasta al dente and add back to pot after draining. Add a little cream and heat through. Toss with toasted pine nuts, grated parmesan, salt and pepper. Ummmmhmmmm.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Target Hack

There is a glass front cabinet (one of many in the house) at the end of my kitchen island. I had been thinking of hanging some fabric inside for a while. I don't keep anything too special in it (water spotted vases, a pitcher, my eletric kettle) and I feel like it's one of the first things people see when they walk in the door. I love my new placemats from Target and noticed a matching shower curtain made out of heavy canvas. I cut it, hemmed it and hung it up (ok, i used scotch tape) inside the glass doors. Instant transformation.
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What We're Eating: Oven Roasted Sweet Potato Fries

Slice 'em up, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in a single layer at 425 for about half an hour. Almost finished with my CSA potatoes from the fall. These were pretty good but I'll say it again: I HATE POTATOES!
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Monday, November 17, 2008

Car Playmat

Sewed up this little playmat for Alex (and one for Talia too-- when did I start having to make TWO of things?) It has chalkboard fabric on the other side but I haven't dug out the chalk just yet. He actually seems to drive his cars over the roads and it's pretty cute.
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Sunday, November 16, 2008

What We're Eating: Stir Fried Shiitakes and Root Vegetables with Quinoa

This dish was delicious! I wish I had made twice as much. It definitely required a lot of dishes, which I hate-- but only one pan on the stove (plus the quinoa of course). Ron said this was even better the next day. This recipe comes from the cookbook A Year in the Vegetarian Kitchen: Easy Seasonal Dishes for Family and Friends by Jack Bishop. So far, both recipes I've made from this book were not particularly easy but they were both good!

Stir Fried Shiitakes with Root Vegetables

3/4 oz. dried shiitakes
2 c boiling water
4 medium scallions, thin slices
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbl ginger, minced
1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes
3 tbl soy sauce
2 tbl rice vinegar
2 tsp cornstarch
3 tbl peanut oil
1 pound shiitakes, trimmed and cut into strips
3 parsnips, medium dice
3 carrots, medium dice
salt and pepper
chopped cilantro

1. Soak the dried mushrooms in boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain the mushrooms, reserving the water. Add the mushrooms to the sliced scallions, garlic, ginger and pepper flakes. To the water add the soy, vinegar and cornstarch and whisk until combined.

2. Brown the shiitakes for about 8 minutes in half the peanut oil, then remove the mushrooms and brown the root vegetables in the other half of the oil, probably about 6 minutes .

3. Add the dried mushroom/scallion etc mix to the pan and cook for another minute.

4. Pour in the water/soy etc. mix and simmer, covered until the root vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

5. Return the shiitakes to the pan, heat through, add the cilantro and salt and pepper to taste.

6. Serve with cooked quinoa.
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Friday, November 14, 2008

Oh Supergirl

Oh Supergirl, how I love thee.

Imagine this-- you're having a playdate at your house. There are no cries of "She won't let me..." or "I had it first!" or "I want to ____ but she wants to ____!" The house is not trashed. The TV is not on. Oh-- and the younger sibling is included effortlessly.

You are cooking, cleaning, taking a shower, doing laundry, organizing-- maybe even getting some sewing time or reading time or phone time. You hear rousing renditions of kids' songs, you see puzzles being put together, forts being built and tea parties that happen magically and then disappear.

How does it happen, you might ask? Her name is Supergirl. She is 12. She lives down the street from me. The cost of such wonderfulness? $4 an hour. I'm in love.

Supergirl, will you move in with me?
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Talia cooks

While her diet may not be particularly varied, Talia eats quite well. She eats noodles (or rice or couscous) and beans for almost every meal. I make a big box of noodles every few days and then just dish them out and open a can of beans. She doesn't need the beans heated or even drained (I know, gross!) She likes lemon juice on everything. Sometimes she eats a hot dog or fish sticks or mac and cheese like all other kids. She particularly likes my homemade chicken nuggets (slice up some chicken breast, dip it in egg and then panko bread crumbs mixed with essence of emeril. fry them in a little olive oil). The easiest and best received meal, however, is still noodles and beans. I don't complain-- it's easy as hell for me and usually carry a can or two of beans (plus can-opener-- that's a story for another time!) in my car in case we go to a restaurant or home that doesn't have anything for her.

Still, it would be nice if she ate more veggies and I would like to see her eat a dish that has more than one ingredient in it. She does like to help me cook and will usually try a tiny bite of most things. I decided to let her pick put a recipe from the kids' Moosewood cookbook, "Salad People". She picked out "Counting Soup" and modified it to meet her tastes. She left out the tofu and carrots and added chickpeas. We also talked about other ways we could change the recipe and decided we could use lima beans instead of chickpeas and different noodles, like shells or flakes (small squares-- my absolute fave although they are hard to find).

Whenever we do an art project I always encourage her to make her own decisions. When I color Ariel's hair blue and she protests, I say "I'm the artist so I decide" and she often says it back to me too. I wanted her to understand that the chef gets to make decisions in cooking and that she can change recipes to suit her needs, just like I do. I like seeing that flash of understanding, power and satisfaction on her face.

She really liked the soup and ate a lot of it. Today she didn't want any because, like Ron, she doesn't "do" leftovers. She did want to make it again though.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

My new least favorite phrase

From Talia: MOM! Come quick! Look what Alex did! It's REALLY BAD!

Yesterday it was pouring milk all over the floor and then sitting in it and playing in it. Today a tiny puke all over her fairy wings. But it's only lunch time. So much for that shower I was hoping to get...
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Sunday, November 09, 2008

First Wiggly Tooth!

Talia has her first wiggly tooth! So grown up and yet still my baby girl!
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