Monday, June 10, 2013
It’s hard to write a blog. Just like it’s hard to make dinner. And shop local. And do anything outside of what is right in front of you, in a box, already chopped, and squeezed through a machine into the shape of chicken nuggets and frozen French fries. But we’re going to try again. It’s summer and the local strawberries and asparagus are in. The farmer’s markets are opening. Our first CSA box will be ready next week. It is the easiest peasiest time of the year to put together something good to eat. Plus there’s no more homework, and a little less running around (although summer is still busy for us). So there should be no problem getting decent dinners to our table. Right? As for blogging, we’re going to give that another try, too. The Chef has promised to help. Today, the first day of the rest of our summer, includes a stop at a nearby farm market for their strawberries and asparagus. Beautiful.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
We did end up skipping swimming (the Chef has a bad cold), which took the pressure off. So we altered the plan a bit and made super simple soup, which was chopping carrots and celery and simmering in beef stock. All started off relaxed and under control. Then I started trying to help the Chef with his homework while cooking, and things got crazy. The broth boiled over and I forgot to add the pasta. Through it all, though, Baby Zi proved that he is way past the "baby" title and a full-fledged Chef Zi. We'll have to come up with a name for him soon. Anyway, he stood beside me on his chair sawing celery with a dulled steak knife, which was pretty helpful. He ate about half of it then. The kids always seem to snack on the veggies they cut. Raw potato, broccoli, green beans. They won't always eat them cooked, or even if I try to serve them raw at the table. But when they are working with them, they eat them. Interesting.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
We took a long coffee break here at Chef Zi and are glad to be back. Our silence didn't mean we had nothing to say. Just no time to say it, and also make dinner! But we've missed our blog. And I just got a new smart phone and figured out how to use it to blog while sitting in line waiting to pick up the Chef at school.So here we go... Tonight is one of those nights, where I have absolutely nothing planned and very limited time. Here are the calculations running through my head: We’re trying to use the Mediterranean diet as a model, so that means something with beans and veggies would be great. There’s swim practice tonight, so we have to eat dinner early. I’m working, and then I take the Chef from school to music class and then a doctor’s appointment. By the time we get home, we basically should be eating as soon as we walk in the door. Gee, I wish I would’ve thought this through five hours ago and gotten the slow cooker going. We had pizza last night, so I don’t really want to pay for and/or eat salty take- out tonight. The “healthy” gourmet take-out from a deli or Whole Foods isn’t usually a good option for us because of the risk of cross-contamination with nuts and the other things to which my son is allergic. I realize now we don’t even have time for frozen fish sticks or hotdogs. Panic is setting in. We may have to skip swimming tonight in order to eat…. We could do sandwiches (I did make bread this week). And fruit. And bean salad. Does that count as dinner?
Thursday, December 1, 2011
On the last day of Thanksgiving break, the Chef told me he was making Baby Zi and me breakfast. The dish was called "sugar cinnamon roll" and involved taking a piece of white bread and squishing it up into what sounded like a ball and loading it up with sugar and cinnamon. I heard: "Big mess and waste of bread." Since I hadn't even had my coffee or read the comics yet, I said, "No thanks." The Chef then stood before me and delivered a speech that brought tears to my eyes: "You just don't think I can make it, you don't think it will taste good. I see you make things all the time and you don't use recipes! I know, you know how to make things and you've made them before and it worked out. But let me at least try! I'm just a kid, I'm going to make mistakes sometimes. It doesn't mean I'm stupid! It's not that big of a deal if it doesn't turn out right! I just want to try." I wanted to shout, "Yes, we can!" Instead I said, Of course, you can try it. I did eat it, and have to say it turned out pretty nice. Baby Zi gobbled his up. The Chef declined to post his version of events or the recipe, but gave me permission to do so. Sugar Cinnamon Roll Slice of white bread, brown sugar, soft butter, multi-colored jimmy sprinkles. Spread butter on bread, sprinkle with sugar and jimmies. Roll up. Eat as a log or slice into wheels.
I am thankful to the Chef for helping with the Thanksgiving salad dressing and cranberry sauce, to Baby Zi for being so cooperative while I peeled and boiled sweet potatoes, and to Papa Chef for coming home early so I could finish my cooking without going crazy-lady on my kids who were way too excited about the holiday and warm weather to be expected to play on their own quietly. It seems like Thanksgiving should be a great time for families to cook together, but there are expectations involved that make things a little more stressful than usual for me. Fortunately, the Chef is at a point where he can handle simple recipes without much interference from me, which allows us avoid most conflict. Cranberry sauce: The Chef read the recipe, measured and combined the cranberries, lots of sugar and orange juice. I talked him through putting it on the stove and lighting the burning -- a Chef Zi first! Salad dressing: I wrote down what I wanted him to use, and he read the ingredients and instructions, which were "combine and whisk 1/4 cup of olive oil, 4 T of golden balsamic vinegar, juice from 1 lemon, 2 tsp of sugar, salt and pepper." This included juicing the lemons. We tossed dressing on greens and pear slices, with pomegranate seeds on side.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
The Chef made cookie batter! By that I mean he read the ingredient list and the recipe and followed the directions. My contributions went only as far as pulling ingredients off the shelves and equipment out of drawers, explaining fractions (still learning those), and pointing out that the butter was already soft and ready to go. He did the rest! But where are the cookies? Well, the Chef had the great idea of eating the batter. And since it was an egg-free sugar cookie recipe, we could do it. And since we ran out of time after turning our yard into a cemetery haunted by electric Halloween lights, carving pumpkins and completing our costumes, it was the only thing to do. Good call, Chef.
I was washing dishes the other night, and Baby Zi was roaming around looking for something to get into. He dragged out a muffin pan, flipped it around, held it up in the air, threw it on the ground. “Bawl, bawl,” he kept saying. "Yes, buddy, there's your ball," I kept saying, not really paying attention. He probably should've thrown a ball at me, because what I eventually realized he was telling me was that he recognized the circle in the bottom of the pan as being the same shape as a ball. Then he grabbed the mini plastic soda bottles that were lying nearby and fit them into the pan. So the little genius saw the circle in the 3-D cylinder as well. And thus was created a new Chef Zi activity -- What Fits In the Muffin Pan. The next morning, I handed him a bunch of differently shaped boxes and cans to try. That held his interest off and on for about 15 minutes, just long enough for me to help set things up for the Chef (see next post).