Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Trail of Crumbs: Croque Madame

Don't forget, it's your last chance to enter my TeaVivre Giveaway!

I started taking French classes in 8th grade.  It was an "intro to French" class and we really didn't learn too much actual French.  Mostly it was about French culture and French food.  I have strong memories of learning to read a French menu.  (To be fair, this is actually a pretty handy skill to have.  And also, my Spanish knowledge is also pretty limited to food.)

The two items that stand out most in my memory were the citron presse (like a lemonade) and the croque monsieur/madame.   The croque monsieur is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich.  The croque madame is the same thing, but with a fried egg on top.

I've been to Paris two times, and both times I've managed to enjoy the ubiquitous sandwich.  In a way, it really encompasses everything that is amazing about French food - simple and decadent.  Such an odd dichotomy, right?  But when you think about it, it doesn't get more basic than a ham and cheese sandwich.  And the French take that idea and elevate it by warming it up and topping it with a rich, cheesy sauce, and a buttery egg.

The croque madame was the first meal a young Kim Sunee enjoyed at 18 when she ventured to Paris.  Sitting in a cafe by herself, drinking a glass of red wine and taking an assessment of herself.  The first step on her road of self-discovery.

Croque Madame (From Trail of Crumbs)
4 slices sourdough bread
4 slices ham
Dijon Mustard
1 cup grated gruyere
1 cup Mornay sauce
2 sunny side up eggs
  1. Heat a large oven proof skillet over medium high heat.  Butter bread on all sides and top 2 of the slices with ham and a smear of dijon.
  2. Top with half of the cheese and cover with remaining bread slices.
  3. Place sandwiches buttered side down into the skillet, pressing gently with back of spatula.  Let cook 1-2 minutes or until bottom is slightly golden.
  4. Top with mornay sauce and remaining cheese.  Place skillet in oven and broil 1 to 2 minutes, or until golden and bubbly.
  5. Top with fresh sunny side up egg.
Mornay Sauce
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbps flour
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
3/4 cup grated gruyere
  1. Melt butter in a heavy bottom saucepan over medium high heat.  
  2. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute.
  3. Add milk, whisking constantly.  Bring to a low boil and cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes more.
  4. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in cheese. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Mommy Mondays: Tis the Season

Most people get really excited about the winter holidays, but me?  I love the fall.  And with a toddler, it seems like I'm rushing to cram as much fall fun in the short time I have.  Part of our issue is the fact that fall is also made up of birthdays and Jewish holidays, which cuts against the time we have to get out and take advantage.   Here are some of my favorite fall activities with kids:

Apple Picking - Every year I swear we're going to go earlier, and every year we end up scrambling to find an orchard that's still open when we can go.  This year was especially bad because of the drought this summer.  The apple season was exceptionally short.  By the time we went, there was only one orchard still open.

But that's specific to us.  For you, get thee to an apple orchard!  They're perfect for kids.  Great space for them to run around; they can pick apples right off the trees, and at least Thatbaby gets a big kick of being able to eat as many as he likes.

Apple Cider -  I love apple cider in the fall and Thatbaby seems to be following suit.  Cider is the perfect fall drink: it's warm and made from the best fall has to offer.  And it's a great transition from summer's lemonade to winter's cocoa.

Street Fairs - Harvest Festivals, Street Fairs, Craft Shows, fall seems to be filled with them.  And its a great time to pick up some unique holiday gifts for the upcoming season. 

Pumpkin Patch - I loved going to pick out pumpkins before Thatbaby was born, but it's just so much more fun with a kid.  They get so much out of it.  Seeing hundreds of pumpkins of all shapes and sizes, corn mazes, hay rides, trains, and petting zoos - pumpkin patches are a whole day of fun.

Community Halloween Events - I really like taking advantage of these.  Many downtowns have Halloween events like store to store trick or treating, or costume contests or parades.  Since they're usually during daylight hours, they're especially good for little guys.  And you can ensure a safe environment with willing participants.  Plus, who doesn't love another chance to dress up in costume?

Trick or Treating - This is a given, right?

Pumpkin Carving - We make a big production of this.  We watch Halloween movies while we carve and it becomes a great family affair.  It's great having some quality family time and makes the holiday even more special.

Family Pictures - Crisp fall leaves, perfect sunlight hours, and nice cool weather.  This is the perfect time of year for family photos.  Whether you're doing them for Christmas cards, or just to have a yearly picture, this is the time to start finding and booking a photographer.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sunday Runday: Beat The Blerch Virtual Race

Months and months and months ago L&O's sister sent her a message about a new half marathon this year that featured rest stations with cake and grape drink.  Sounds pretty fun right?  Beat the Blerch is a race based on the comic strip by Matthew Inman featured in The Oatmeal.  The Blerch, anthropomorphized into a fat little cherub, is that nagging little voice that tells you to walk the next mile, go home and eat pizza, or hit the snooze button instead of running.

There was no way I was going up to Washington to run the race, so instead I just watched in amazement as it sold out.  Then as they added another race day and that sold out too.  I was kind of giddy when they next announced they'd be doing a virtual version of the race.

I've never done a virtual race before, unless you count the virtual marathon I ran back in 2010, but at least I ran a component of that race!  This time I was completely on my own.  A couple weeks before the date of the race, my race packet came in the mail.  Check out the swag!

There's a bib and tech shirt, or course, and a medal.  But there was also gummy bears (Thatbaby loved) stickers, magnets, lip balm (which Thatbaby is trying to commandeer) and a Blerch stress ball (which Thatbaby did commandeer).

The race date was September 20, so I knew I wanted to get my miles in then.  So when SDMom asked if I wanted to join her on a run that morning, I said "sure" even though it meant getting up at 5am on a weekend and running in the dark.

It didn't stay dark for too long though, and I do love running with people.  It was a new location for me, running along the bay downtown.

So even though I felt totally lost and turned around most of the time, it was a nice, scenic run.  And pretty flat!

Plus, I got to see a lighthouse!  Bonus!  And with it being so hot lately, it was nice to go early enough where it was relatively cool.   When we got back to the start, I medaled myself.

My first virtual race is in the books!  So how about you, have you ever run a virtual race?  Would you want to?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Trail of Crumbs: Spring Pea Salad with Minted Cream and Grilled Cheese Toasts

Don't forget to enter my TeaVivre giveaway and get your hands on 5 different teas!

I get stumped on sides most nights.  I'm great at coming up with entrees, but as you may have noticed, the plate is usually a little bare aside from that.  It's a combination of both lack of time and lack of creativity.  So steamed veggies have become a near-constant around here.  That and black beans.  I've been trying to work on that by adding some new side recipes to my repertoire.  Like the caramelized green beans and almonds I made earlier this week.  Or the roasted brussels sprouts in browned butter. 

This is a recipe that is for sure getting added to my side dish list.  Mostly because it went over so well with Thatbaby who is going through the typical toddler "I don't like green" phase.  But he loved these peas, he loved the prosciutto, and he loved the cheese bread.  The dish makes a lot, so he even loved it the next day.  I especially liked it because sometimes it's too hot out for warm vegetable sides.  This is a nice, cool, refreshing summer treat.

Spring Pea Salad with Minted Cream and Grilled Cheese Toasts (From Trail of Crumbs)
 2 cups fresh, shelled, English peas
1 cup fresh snow peas
3 slices prosciutto
1 cup creme fraiche
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
fleur de sel and fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
2 to 3 Tbsp julienned fresh mint leaves

  1. Cook the English peas 1 to 2 minutes in salted boiling water.
  2. Add snow peas and let cook 1 minute more.  Shock peas in an ice bath and let drain.
  3. Cook prosciutto in a hot pan until crispy.  Remove from pan and reserve. 
  4. Combine creme fraiche, lemon juice, fleur de sel, pepper, and fresh mint ina  bowl.
  5. Add peas and stir gently to combine.  Let chill in refrigerator about 1 hour.  
  6. Top with crispy prosciutto and serve with grilled goat cheese toast.
Grilled Goat Cheese Toast
Slice baguette and grill or toast lightly.  Rub with garlic and place cheese on top.  Broil for a few seconds, sprinkle with some fresh herbs and/or a drizzle of good olive oil.     

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Trail of Crumbs: Cinnamon Cream Cheese Rolls

L'Shana Tova everyone!  Happy New Year!  The Jewish New Year is vastly different from the secular New Year.  For one thing, we do not stay up all night to ring in the new year with kisses and fireworks.  Although we were up far later than anticipated last night due to a very long evening service.  And on New Year's Day, there is no sleeping in and lazily grabbing brunch.  Instead we are up early, getting ready for a day of services.

I don't mind the differences between the two, but I do prefer the lazy mornings of the secular New Years.  Brunch with my family is one of the highlights of the holiday.  We don't do any special Christmas breakfast, so I like to make up for it with New Years.  And cinnamon rolls are the perfect make ahead and pop in the oven the morning of kind of breakfast.  I'm very picky about my cinnamon rolls though.  I don't like the ones that are just cinnamon wrapped up and glazed.  I like the really unhealthy version - with a cream cheese filling and a cream cheese frosting.

The cinnamon rolls in Trail of Crumbs are a kind of hybrid of these.  I tried both versions - her cream cheese cinnamon filling and her chestnut mascarpone filling, both are equally enticing.  Super sweet, so probably a good thing there's just a simple glaze on top.  Although that glaze is extra sweet too.  I really loved the citrus aspect, something I wouldn't consciously put together with cinnamon rolls.

These cinnamon rolls are another conglomeration.  Sunee refers to her Minnesota grandmother's cinnamon rolls before introducing the recipe, but the creme de marron is decidedly a French contribution.  Like Sunee it's an interesting blend of cultures that just seems to fit together.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Rolls (From Trail of Crumbs)
16 oz sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
2 envelopes active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 Tbsp sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 1/2 cups bread flour
2 Tbsp melted butter

  1. Cook first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring often, until butter melts.  Set aside and let cool
  2. Stir together yeast, warm water, and sugar in a bowl.  Let stand 5 minutes.
  3. Beat sour cream mixture, yeast mixture, eggs, and 2 cups flour at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.  
  4. Gradually add in enough remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, to make a soft dough.  
  5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes.)  Place in a well greased bowl, turning to grease top.  Cover and let rise in a draft-free, warm place 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  6.   Punch down dough and divide in half.  Roll each portion into a 24 by 12 inch rectangle.  Spread half of the filling (cream cheese or chestnut mascarpone) on each rectangle.
  7. Roll each dough rectangle, jelly roll fashion, starting at the long side.  Place each dough roll, seam side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Slice into 12 equal slices.  Place cut rolls, cinnamon side up, on baking sheets.
  8. Cover and let rise in a draft free, warm place 20-30 minutes or until doubled in size.
  9. Brush with melted butter if desired.
  10. Bake, uncovered at 375 for 15-17 minutes or until golden.  Let cool on pans on wire rack about 5 minutes.  Top with citrus vanilla drizzle.
Cream Cheese Cinnamon Filling
Combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1 Tbsp cinnamon, 16 oz cream cheese, and 1 egg in an electric mixer until smooth and blended.

Chestnut Mascarpone Filling
 Combine 8 oz mascarpone with 1/2 cup creme de marrons.

Citrus Vanilla Drizzle 
Stir together 3 cups powdered sugar, 1/2 cup fresh orange juice, 1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, 2 tsp grated lemon zest and 1/4 tsp vanilla extract in a small saucepan over low heat until butter is melted.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Trail of Crumbs: Uncle Kerry's Monday Red Beans and Rice

I'm not going to lie, one of my draws to Trail of Crumbs was the promise of New Orleans food. I love cajun food - gumbo, jambalaya, etouffe, and of course, red beans and rice.

Since Kim Sunee spent most of her childhood in New Orleans, I knew the book would be chock full of great cajun recipes.  Not just great, but authentic. 

Red beans in rice is a great staple to have.  I think of it as "poor man's food" because all the ingredients are relatively cheap, but it really fills you up.    Thatbaby skipped the sausage which was "too spicy."  But otherwise he thought this meal was brilliant - because he loves beans and he loves rice.    Maybe he's going to follow in my footsteps with his love of cajun food?  Just have to work on that spice tolerance.

Uncle Kerry's Monday Red Beans and Rice (From Trail of Crumbs)
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 celery ribs, chopped
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 smoked ham hock
1 bag dried kidney beans
 1 tsp liquid crab boil
1 tsp Creole seasoning
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 lb smoked sausage
2 Tbsp cornstarch
hot sauce, to taste
  1. Heat butter on medium high in a large pot or Dutch oven.  Add onion, bell pepper, and celery and cook, stirring occasional, about 7 minutes or until soft.
  2. Add garlci, salt, and pepper and cook 3 more minutes.
  3. Add smoked ham hock, beans, liquid crab boil, Creole seasoning, and thyme and stir.  
  4. Add enough water (about 2 quarts) to cover beans.  Stir, bringing to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and let simmer, stirring occasionally, about 1 1/2 hours. If beans get too thick, add more water, about 1/2 cup at a time.
  5. Add sausage to pot adn let beans cook another 30 minutes or until tender.
  6. Mix 2 Tbsp cornstarch with cold water and add to taste.
  7. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and hot sauce.
  8. Serve with hot boiled rice and shallots in vinegar.

Shallots in vinegar
Combine 3 to 4 Tbsp white wine vinegar, 2 thinly sliced shallots, and herbes de Provence in a bowl and stir to combine. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

TeaVivre Review and Giveaway

I rarely do product reviews, but every now and then, an opportunity presents itself that I just can't refuse.  That's what happened when TeaVivre contacted me to review some of their teas.

You see, TeaVivre is a Chinese tea company who has a goal to bring Chinese tea to every corner in the world.    And I'm a big fan of Chinese tea.  It's partially a sense-memory thing.  Thatdad used to travel to China a couple times each year and he would always bring home tea for us.  It was my first experience with real "tea" - not that bagged stuff you find in the supermarket, but actual leaves and blooms.  Some of the teas would actually bloom in the teapot, revealing a beautiful flower.  And the taste was like nothing I'd had before.  Don't get me wrong.  I love the fun fruity flavors like apple cinnamon and orange ginger, but they all do taste a little, produced.  Real Chinese teas taste fresh and floral.  It's like comparing homemade pasta to storebought.  Storebought will do, but nothing compares to fresh.

With this in mind, I was glad to accept some samples from TeaVivre.  I got really excited when my vacuum sealed bag filled to the brim with samples arrived!

They had send me 4 of each of the following teas: 

Organic Hangzhou Tian Mu Qing Ding Green Tea

Organic Superfine Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea

Premium Keemun Hao Ya Black Tea

Organic Silver Needle White Tea (Bai Hao Yin Zhen) 

Taiwan Dong Ding (Tung Ting) Oolong Tea

I loved that each serving was packed in a little contained, so I didn't have to worry about measuring, or making a mess with loose tea leaves.

Both green teas were so very fresh.  It sounds silly to say that they're "green" tasting, but they are.  For me, green teas are also some of the most floral tasting, so that adds to the green for me.  They're also very light.  It's hard to find a bad green tea.

The black tea is a richer tea, darker and more like what many of us are used to in English teas like English breakfast and Earl Grey.  For me, this is a weekend tea, because it's a little more complex than the greens.

I think this was my first experience with a white tea, and this was a great introduction.  It falls somewhere between the green and the black teas.  It's still light and floral, which made it especially nice for the summer.

The oolong was my favorite.  I don't put sugar in my teas, preferring to enjoy their flavors without the added sweetness that often overtakes delicate teas.  But the oolong was naturally sweet.  Fruity instead of flowery, with notes that changed during the time it was in your mouth.

And the good people of TeaVivre have agreed to give one of you lucky readers the same package of teas they sent to me!  I'll make this really easy for you - the giveaway will run for the next week, and all you have to do is leave a comment with your favorite tea.  I can't wait to share with you some of my new favorites and explore some of yours!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Monday, September 22, 2014

Mommy Mondays: Woes of a Working Mom

My friends - it is hard to be a working mom.  Not to say it isn't hard to be a stay at home mom, because that has its own set of difficulties.  But one thing that working moms have that stay at home moms don't is the addition of mom guilt for not being around.

This hit me hard last Monday when I had to drop Thatbaby off at school.  He'd been off since Thursday because of the strep throat.  Mondays are always hard at school drop offs.  He loves being at home with us during the weekends, so Monday mornings the last thing he wants to do is go to school.  It's even harder after a long weekend, or being home sick for days.  And when he's been sick, I feel terribly dropping him off at school as he cries for me to stay, or says he wants to go home.  I feel guilty about the fact that if I wasn't working, I could take him home and cuddle him until he felt 100% healthy.

So how do you deal with feeling like you're not being the best mom you can be?

1) Self talk.  You know who the best moms are?  Moms who feel fulfilled.  This is a great thing to remember because fulfillment can come from so many sources.  For some staying home with their children gives them that sense.  Other women feel fulfillment from working in a complicated field.  Or having stimulating conversations with other adults.  Or making loads of money.  Whatever it is makes you feel whole, then don't feel guilty about doing it, because rather than making you a bad mom, it makes you a better mom.

2) Time away makes you a better mom.  I love Thatbaby.  To pieces.  He is my favorite child in the world and I would do anything for him.  But he drives me nuts.  He wears me down and exhausts me.  And if I had to spend 24 hours a day with him every day I think I would lose my cool.  There would be yelling, there would be tears, and Thatbaby would probably cry too.  Having a little non-mom time is good for me so I can be a better mom during mom-time.

3) Family time.  I really try to spend as much time with my family as I'm able.  So when I'm with them, I'm really with them.  The computer and television are usually off until Thatbaby goes to bed.  Weekends are usually about doing things together, I do girls' night during the week, and get up before sunrise to do long runs so I don't miss out on time with the boys.  This means my weekends are usually packed with events and I am often more exhausted Sunday nights than I am on Friday nights, but in a couple years Thatbaby is not going to want to have anything to do with us on weekends, so I'll take advantage now.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday Runday: The Aloha Run

Last week I told you the PR I got in the Grape Day 5k wouldn't last for long.  I'll get to that, but first, this is the story of the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad race.

When we moved, we ended up moving near one of the women in my running group.  She came up with the brilliant idea that we should run The Aloha Run together and we could carpool.  I agreed, even though it was the day after The Grape Day 5k.  2 races in one weekend!  And maybe that's why everything that could go wrong did.

The night before the race I laid out all my stuff in the guest room so I wouldn't disturb Thatboy while I was getting ready.  I set my alarm, and went to bed.  The plan was to wake up at 5:30, get to NeighborRunner's house at 6, and head to the race early enough for her to pick up her registration.

Instead, I woke up at 6:24.  My alarm hadn't gone off!  I texted NeighborRunner I was on my way and attempted to throw on my contacts and get dressed.  I realized after I was dressed, that I only had one contact in.  I have no idea what happened to the other.  I didn't have time to look for it, so I grabbed another and popped it in.  I went to grab my shoes and socks and head out the door barefoot.  Except I couldn't find my socks.  My socks I had laid out the night before.  So back into the room I went to find another pair of socks.  I ran out the door clutching socks, shoes, and bib.  Leaving behind my wallet/id/sunglasses/sunscreen.

I got to NeighborRunner's house, apologizing profusely and drove like a demon to the race.  Parking was awful because of the location, so I ended up in a lot about a mile from the start.  While I finished getting dressed, NeighborRunner sprinted to pick up her bib.  This is the time when I realized I couldn't find my socks again.  The new pair I had purposely grabbed on my way out the door.  Fabulous.  Guess who was going to run this race sockless?

I ran to the start line just as the race started.  Nothing like leaving it to the last second, right?  The race started in waves so as not to overwhelm Mission Bay.  Which was nice, it gave me about 10 minutes to compose myself before I was off and running.

I really hate running races at Mission Bay.  They don't close off the course, so you're weaving around people out for morning strolls.  It's out and back so you get to do that the entire time you're running, and mostly you're trying to figure out where to go since the course is just marked with cones.

Add that to the fact that I could feel the blisters already forming from my sockless adventure, and I was anxious to be done with this race.  The course is really flat, and as every mile passed it became clear I was going to earn another PR.

I met up with NeighborRunner at the finish - she had already finished because she's super speedy.  We walked around checking out the event before going to see our times.  We were both shocked at the results, until we realized that  for some reason they had subtracted 2 minutes from everyone's time.  My time was 25:29!  Talk about an amazing PR.  But for those of you that can do math, my actual time was 27:29.  Still a pretty impressive PR given that I had just PR'd the day before!

As for NeighborRunner, despite her terrible carpool date for the race, she managed to do pretty well too - 2nd in her age group!  I have some fast friends.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Trail of Crumbs: Whispery Eggs with Crabmeat and Herbs

Any chef worth his salt should have a good egg recipe, right?  I mean, it is a kitchen staple.  Chances are, at some point in your life, you're going to need to make eggs.   The weird thing about eggs, is even though they are a staple, there are so many different recipes.  Some people add milk, some add cream cheese.  Some stir in the pan, others smoosh around. 

Kim Sunee's egg recipe comes from her grandfather, who infused his New Orleans spirit in many of the recipes she presents.  As far as the eggs go, this means the inclusion of crabmeat, which she claims he added to just about anything.

To make these eggs "whispery" Sunee recommends whisking them.  The creme fraiche ensures they're still creamy and slightly decadent.  As if the crabmeat didn't do that already.

Whispery Eggs with Crabmeat and Herbs (From Trail of Crumbs)
4 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp creme fraiche
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
1 spring onion, chopped
1 to 2 Tbsp chopped herbs
1 cup fresh lump crabmeat
lemon zest or hot sauce

  1.  Whisk eggs vigorously in a large bowl 1 to 2 minutes, using a handheld whisk.
  2. Add salt, pepper, and creme fraiche and whisk one minute more.  Set aside.
  3. Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Cook onion and herbs about 2 minutes.
  4. Give eggs one last whisk and pour into skillet.  Reduce heat to medium low and gently stir eggs about 2 minutes.
  5. Add crabmeat and cook another minute.  Serve warm with fresh lemon zest, more herbs, or a dash of hot sauce.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Trail of Crumbs: Wild Peaches Poached in Lillet Blanc and Lemon Verbena

Before TFIL was forced to give up alcohol due to his type 2 diabetes he was a big drinker  (probably part of the reason for his diabetes).  He loved aperitifs as much as he loved his with-dinner drinks.  One of his favorites was Lillet Blanc, a blend of white wines and orange liqueur.  The only time I've ever drank Lillet Blanc was when I was at the inlaws, so that's where my mind immediately went when I saw this recipe featured the sweet beverage.

Sunee begins the book with this recipe, which represents "where [she] is now" and harkens back to the first time she met her lover's daughter, the first time she tasted the sweetness of a wild peach.  I've had fresh peaches before, but not of the same variety she describes - blood peaches.  Wild peaches aren't exactly easy to find in these parts, most being cultivated on farms.  But I used what I had.

I love fruit for dessert.  For me, there is nothing more needed.  No cake, no ice cream.  Especially in summer, the sticky sweetness of fruit serves as a nice, light way to end the evening.  So I felt this was a delightful summer treat.  The peaches are tender, but not in the mushy way canned peaches would be.  And the sweetness of the fruit serves to balance the crisp Lillet in the sauce.

Wild Peaches Poached in Lillet Blanc and Lemon Verbena (From Trail of Crumbs)
6 medium sized ripe wild peaches
1 bottle Lillet Blanc
1/3 cup sugar
2 to 3 Tbsp honey
1 piece of orange rind
squeeze of fresh orange juice (from 1 quarter)
4-5 fresh lemon verbena sprigs
  1. Cut an x in blossom end of each peach. Plunge in boiling water for about 30 seconds.  Remove and peel peaches.
  2. Place peeled peaches in a large, wide, heavy bottomed pot.  Pour Lillet Blanc over.
  3. Add sugar, honey, orange rind, and juice.  
  4. Gently crush lemon verbena leaves with hands to release fragrance and add springs to pot.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and poach, occasionally turning peaches gently for even cooking, to to 30 minutes depending on ripeness, or until peaches are tender when pierced gently with tip of knife.
  5. Carefully remove peaches and place in a large serving bowl.  Turn heat to high and cook poaching liquid 6 to 8 minutes or until thick and syrupy.  Pour over peaches.
  6. Let cool and chill in refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cook the Book: Trail of Crumbs Quick Fix Kimchi

It's been so long since I've done one of these!  It's about time.  Trail of Crumbs is the story of Kim Sunee, who was left as a child at a market in Korea.  The book traces her story from Korea to New Orleans, after she is adopted by an American family, to Europe where she escapes to learn about life and love.

Sunee's life is shaped and molded by food, from the red beans and rice her grandfather makes to the honeyed figs fed to her by her lover.  The story is one of discovery, which is reflected in the cuisines of the countries that become Sunee's home.  It's a fascinating mix of cultures and cuisines.  And of course there are recipes.

I begin with her kimchi recipe - a staple of the Korean cuisine.  Confession: I have no experience with kimchi.  Thatdad always had some in the fridge when I was growing up, but the spicy pungent accompaniment held no interest for me.  In truth, I was a little concerned about how this would turn out and if I would like it.  I was oh so pleasantly surprised.  It seems silly to say this is the best kimchi I've ever had, so I'll say it's the best kimchi I've ever smelled.  The sesame oil gives it a warm, nutty aroma instead of the burn-your-nasal-hair scent I was expecting.  And it was good.  OH so good.  Thatboy, who has more kimchi experience than I do thought it was the best he'd ever had.  The only problem was that it didn't make enough.  We were honestly fighting over last bites.  We ate that entire jar in a single sitting.

Quick Fix Kimchi
1 head of napa cabbage
1/4 cup sea salt
1 piece fresh ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, minced
3-4 Tbsp sriracha
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp sugar
3-4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 small head escarole
  1. Remove outer leaves of cabbage, quarter lengthwise, core bottoms, and cut across into 1-inch pieces.
  2. Place in a colander in sink and sprinkle with salt.  Let sit 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  3. Rinse and dry cabbage thoroughly, preferably using a salad spinner.
  4. Whisk together ginger and next 8 ingredients in a large bowl.
  5. Add cabbage, escarole, and toss to combine.
  6. Pack kimchi in a glass jar or bowl.  Cover and refrigerate 2 hours and up to 2 weeks.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sick Sweets: Individual Ice Cream Cups

Last week Thatbaby started complaining that his throat was owie.  Wednesday night he started acting lethargic, lying on my lap during dinner.  This is a kid who never stops, so I knew something was up.  I kept him home from school on Thursday, and was going to send him in Friday but he still seemed a little off.  Thatboy brought him in to the doctor - strep throat.

OH strep throat! I am all too familiar with strep throat, it was my nemesis growing up.  I had it so often I could recognize it before I could even turn the test at the doctor's office.  And I had to have my tonsils out when I was 6.  I feel bad I seemed to have passed this proclivity on to him.

The only thing I can do is bring Thatbaby my favorite strep throat treat - ice cream.  It feels so good on an owie throat. 

One of my favorite kids and ice cream tricks is to freeze ice cream in silicone cupcake liners.  They make the perfect serving size and even have a little handle to hold on to.  I think normal people would eat them with a spoon, but Thatbaby likes to treat them like ice cream cones and lick them.

Ice Cream Cups
1 1/2 cups macaroons, crumbled
2 cups half and half
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup sherry
 2 cups heavy cream
  1. Combine 1 cup of the macaroons and the half and half in a bowl and let soak for 1 hour.
  2. Stir in the sugar and sherry.  Place in a metal bowl and freeze until icey.
  3. Whip the heavy cream until stiff.
  4. Fold the macaroon mixture into the heavy cream.  Spoon into silicone cupcake liners.
  5. Sprinkle the remaining macaroon crumbs over top and freeze.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Mommy Mondays: What's In Your Cup?

Thatbaby has 2 main sources of hydration - milk, and water. 

He drinks quite a bit of both.  There was a time I spoke with his pediatrician because he was drinking so much water.  The doctor wasn't too concerned and mentioned they go through phases and he was right.  Thatbaby backed off from water drinking to a less concerning amount. Currently he wants milk all the time.  And again we're going with it for now, although we have cut back on the milk before bed.  It's only water after teeth brushing.  We're also still doing full fat milk, because we haven't heard otherwise from his doctor. 

One of the reasons Thatbaby does milk and water, is because that's what we have in the house.  We're a juice-free household.  I rarely drink juice - it's too sweet for me.  When I met Thatboy he drank a lot of juice.  Cranberry juice, which isn't really juice, it's more like an excuse to drink a lot of sugar.  After years of being with me, and being concerned for his health, he started watering down his cranberry juice.  And when Thatbaby moved on to milk, and we needed room for an extra gallon in the fridge, we stopped buying gallons of cranberry juice.

This is not to say Thatbaby is juice-free, he just doesn't get it at home.  Its very much a special occasion type thing.  He gets it Friday night for Shabbat, birthday parties, and of course when we go wine tasting.

He also gets juice on planes.  And he already associates juice with planes.  The other day he pretended we were on a plane, and the first thing he did was ask me what kind of juice I wanted.

Instead of juice, Thatbaby gets a lot of smoothies.  These are a big breakfast item in our house.  And Thatbaby is almost at the stage where he can make them himself.  I keep meaning to make a "Cooking with Thatbaby" video, especially when he proudly announces "I'm a smoothie maker" in the morning as he puts his fruits and spinach in the blender.  I pour in the milk, and he helps to put the lid on before pressing the "on" button. 

In terms of hot drinks, Thatbaby is a big fan of tea.  When we first introduced it, we just gave him warm water. Now I steep herbal teas, then cool them down with cold water, so he can enjoy them.

Last Thanksgiving we also introduced Thatbaby to hot chocolate.  No big surprise, he instantly took to it.  We've decided to tell him that it's a special winter drink for right now.  Just another thing to look forward to about the holiday.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday Runday: Grape Day 5k

As you may recall, last weekend we went to Grape Day.  I mentioned that we started the day with the Grape Day 5k.  Or I did.  The boys came along, cheered me on, and waited for me to finish.

This was a really small, local race.  Which was a nice change of pace since I've been running a lot of big races lately.  I really like little races.  They give such a feel of community and camaraderie.  If the Disney races are not for runners, then these local races are the opposite.  They're nothing flashing, no bells and whistles, just a great run for running's sake.  They didn't even announce there was going to be a medal until a few days before the race, so most of us who signed up weren't doing it for any race bling.  All the stations were run by high school volunteers from the local schools.  It was so small, that the volunteers were more than happy to share one of their thundersticks with Thatbaby.  Who promptly turned it into an air guitar.

I hung out with the boys for a little bit, until the race was just about to start - another perk of small races.  There was a brief delay as we waited for those using the porta-potties to finish and join us, and then we were off.

The first mile took us down the main street of Escondido and then back the way we came.  It was nice and flat - the only flat mile of the race!  And because of that, I was pretty face.  Nike+ chirped in my ear that I had run a sub 9-minute mile.  My hip was bothering me a bit during that first mile.   Mile 2 was all hills!  All uphill.  I actually am not entirely sure how that works, since at one point we turned to head back, so you would think it would be downhill.  It wasn't.  Right at mile 1.5 I passed some kid who heaved out "not another hill" as I passed him.  I reassured him that we were halfway done, so there should be a lot more downhills. But I felt his pain, I had a side stitch that second mile and had slowed down to a 9:40 minute mile.

Mile 3 has a little more uphill, and some downhill.  Then we were back on the mainstreet, heading back toward the finish.  I picked up speed, pushing myself during that last portion, all the aches and pain gone.  I ran as hard as I could until I crossed the finish.

As part of the "race perks" we each got a free beer.  This is one of my favorite things about living in San Diego, all our races end with beer and not crappy beer - good, craft beer.  For this race, it was draft Stone Pale Ale.

I sat and sipped my beer, waiting for my time to be uploaded (because I forgot to turn off my Nike+ when I crossed the finish).  Then I saw it.  One of my new year's resolutions was to run a sub-30 5k, which I did unofficially earlier this year.  But here, in black and white, was an official recognition of resolution - 28:59!  Not only a sub-30 minute 5k, but almost a full minute faster than my unofficial PR!  A fabulous new PR.  Too bad it wouldn't last for long!