It’s a Science

I try my best to pump my child full of really good food.
It’s easy considering she eats two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners, and a dessert every day. Pretty sure she’s either the proud owner of a very large tapeworm, or training for a triathlon.

We spent part of the day at the pool this morning.
Last month, we were at the pool for ten hours. I learned that day that my child is immune to sunscreen. She is not immune to freezing cold water, though, unless it’s at home in the shower. Today, she got too much sun, again. I put sunscreen on her every hour. We’re back to wearing swim shirts, and me trying to remind everyone that I do, in fact, love her and spend a lot of time trying to keep her safe and healthy. She was comparing her white belly to her tan/red chest and shoulder. She said, “I wish I was this pale again.” Such a change from the 80s when no one wore sunscreen and everyone was out to be as dark as humanly possible.

To make up for being overexposed today, I coated her in aloe from our plant and I made some of her favorite foods for dinner. Kept up with the green theme. It is my hope that she is healed from the inside out, and that we somehow figure out the perfect recipe for skin protection.

I heated olive oil and butter in a skillet with one whole clove of garlic. I used a vegetable peeler to make zucchini ribbons. I added some kosher salt and removed the garlic clove as I was preparing to plate the noodles. I topped them with shredded mozzarella cheese.

I prepared the steelhead trout in the same skillet I cooked the noodles in; no need to add more butter or oil. She ate every bite of all of this PLUS a bowl of vanilla ice cream. And hey! There’s nothing wrong with being vanilla.

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Keeping It Simple

I am a mostly grateful mother when it comes to mealtime. My daughter eats pretty much constantly. And she enjoys things like raw peppers, sushi, shellfish, Indian food, hummus, and edamame.

That being said, she does exactly what I did as a child. She eats one thing at a time, and will save the strangest things for last; like eggs. She doesn’t like things touching. My dad used to say about me, “When she gets married, we’re going to register her for Chinet.” 

My daughter has recently reverted to her 2-year-old self. She is constantly asking me “Why” this and “Why” that. “What does that mean?” “Who was the first person to hold me?” “Where was the first restaurant I ever ate?” “What was the first song I ever heard?” We’re taking it back to the basics here, this summer. So, after receiving a zucchini from my cousin’s wife’s garden, I thought we would make a very basic dinner. And, wouldn’t you know it? My daughter dumped her roasted butternut squash into her zucchini noodles. (She is always surprising me.)

I wish I had better photos, but that’s what usually comes of nighttime and dinnertime.

I was happy I had zucchini left after all the raw zucchini she stole off the cutting board. Reminds me of me and my poor mother peeling and chopping potatoes. One for the pot, three for me. 

I peeled the zucchini in long strips with a vegetable peeler. I heated 1T of butter and 1T of oil in a skillet with nearly a whole clove of garlic (you could use more, of course). Then I added the zucchini strips, salt, and pepper. I cooked it for about a minute. It was out. of. this. world. My kid begged for more, and was disappointed when I told her we were out.

I also roasted the butternut squash, after peeling and chopping, tossing in oil, with salt and pepper. I have to say, I think butternut squash has become my favorite vegetable. I melts in your mouth, and has such an amazing flavor, which is such a great reward considering all the work you have to get into the darn thing and on to the baking sheet.

This is going to be a recurring theme for the rest of the summer.
Back to basics. Yep.
And I’m loving it.

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Blue Plate Special

I used to have fun. I used to have LOTS of fun. Srsly. Like, any place I went ended up bringing a ridiculous amount of fun. Especially if it involved dancing, friends, and good food.

Now…I’m old. There is no fun to be had. Oh, it’s there if you’re 21 years old (or younger and have a fake ID) and a constitution of steel.

My friend and I made plans to have dinner. She will usually text me to see what I’m wearing, mostly because (it never fails) we will end up wearing the exact. same. outfit. I picked out an oxford and my favorite jeans. The oxford is so incredibly soft, light blue, and from Gap. The jeans are also Gap and I found them at a consignment shop. Much too long for me, but not when I wear my giant wedge boots. So, with the outfit on I felt it was missing something. I proceeded to try on a blazer. And then another blazer. And then every blazer I own. Nothing was working. I tried a sweater. No. I put on a belt. It was all bad. I decided to go with it because it was late. As I was about to walk out the door, I realized I felt like a 60-year-old professor; a man.

I went back in and changed into a black sequined skirt. Left on the boots. Added a black tee shirt. A black sweater. And my camoflague coat (black and grey with a hot pink liner). A complete 180 degree turn from what I’d started to wear. I walked out the door thinking Who am I, even?

Poor friend had been waiting for me forever at a new restaurant downtown. The owner has a second restaurant that I thoroughly enjoy. Sadly, this restaurant had nothing that they could adapt into a gluten free dish for me. After many questions, and my urging my friend to go ahead and eat, we left. The Shet Celiacs Say is no more annoying to anyone than myself. There are a handful of restaurants where I can eat and not pray for a swift death over the next few days.

As we were crossing the street, two girls came toward my friend and me. They were wearing the shortest dresses and the highest heels. No coats. Lots of hair and makeup. I looked down at my outfit and wondered if what I was wearing was age appropriate. It is a fact that I have never dressed like anyone I know, but I don’t think I’ve ever gotten dressed asking, “What can I wear that will accentuate my lady garden.”

It was then I realized…I’m old. O-L-D. There is no denying it. After dinner, we went to a bar where there is a deejay and dancing.  This “club” possesses, hands-down, the worst deejay ever. Another sign that I am old is the amount of joy I felt when I discovered there was no cover. It seems there are no covers anywhere anymore. It almost makes me a little angry that these young people are so free to come and go as they please; no coats, barely dressed, drunk as hell. They should feel the punishment we felt 20 years ago trying to look in the window of clubs to see who was inside and was it worth it to pay the five/seven/ten dollar cover.

My friend and I suffered through a playlist of AC/DC followed by The Beach Boys followed by 69 Boyz and then The Isley Brothers “Shout.” I mean…really? Are we at a freaking wedding reception? What a HORRIBLE song! I have never in my life seen the appeal of this song. And especially do not when all the girls are wearing skirts that would make better belts as they’re getting a little bit softer now.

My friend looked over at a girl dancing and said, “Oh yeah. She’s gonna vomit later.” And I have to admit, it didn’t take me long to empathize with her. What a horrible feeling, but she was powering through. She could barely hold her head up, let alone focus, but her grip on her mixed drink wasn’t wavering. Several people started to walk up the two stairs past us and would then change their mind and go a different way. My friend even made the comment, “Ooh. Can’t do the stairs. Nope. No stairs for me. Too drunk.” After the fifth or sixth person opted to walk another way, I realized oh. mah. gawd. they. think. we’re. cops. We look old. The worst part is, we don’t feel like we look as old as they think we look. I knew I was old when I immediately recognized the deejay’s offering of duh duh duh duh duh dum dum as the beginning of a Queen tune. The whole place erupted in cheers and arms were flung in the air. I leaned over to my friend and said, “There is going to be a lot of embarrassment when all these kids realize this is not Ice Ice Baby.” And, thirty seconds later, there was a veil disappointment.

We went to another bar I used to frequent years ago with a friend. You had to be 24 years old to get in (if I recall). I was and would always get carded. My friend, who wasn’t even 21 years old would never get carded. They let her right in. The crowd is much younger now, and they are packed in the place like sardines. Those who try to squeeze through just end up stopping and standing in the way. I told a guy to think like a 20-year-old girl and push through. It was all coming back to me.

We left immediately and my friend asked the doorman where the “adults hang out.” He listed a few places prefacing it with “you might like,” and “this might be good for you.” Translation: old people hang out at these joints.

I’ve never been crazy about places where all you can do is stand around and drink. I need to be entertained. I prefer to dance with no drink. Nothing in my hands. Not a coat, not a purse. Twenty-somethings are a smart bunch, to leave their coat in the car, even though they would freeze when they left. And, where did the girls keep their IDs, money, and lipstick? In their pockets? Those dresses don’t look like they have pockets. How did I used to do this?

At the doorman’s urging, we drove to another bar where they had live music and little else. We could see from the warm interior of my car, through the bar window, that this was not going to be much better. I said, “There is no one there. I can see a drummer and a keyboard player, but there isn’t a soul in there.” My friend said, “I can’t see anything.” I said, “There’s the bartender, on the right, doing nothing with his back to no one.” She said, “This is so disappointing. We might as well call it a night. All this ‘looking around’ has sobered me up.”

And that was it. I drove her back to her car and we went our separate ways.

Is this really what it’s all about now? Do I have to wait for someone to invite me to their wedding reception before I can go out dancing with a group of people my own age? Am I relegated to eating dinner at 5.30 p.m. on a Friday night? What do people my age do for fun? I am officially my parents. Square. Remembering how sorry I felt for them, sitting at home on a Friday night, in their recliners, watching TV and…talking to each other. My mother would ask, “Why are you just now going out when the everyone else is getting ready for bed.” She didn’t understand.

Or did she?

The next evening, I made dinner for my girlfriends (as I do at least twice a month). And it was so lovely. Sitting at home eating food I knew wouldn’t make me sick, drinking cheap drinks, listening to good music, and the laughter of our children.

I tried a new dish: Hearty Vegetable Soup (serves 4)

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2T olive oil

1 large onion, diced

3 medium carrots, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced (I used the frozen Trader Joe’s portioned cubes)

2 C peeled butternut squash in 1/2″ cubes (I will not get married just so I can have someone with upper body strength to cut this sucker up for me)

1/4 tsp. allspice

pinch of cayenne pepper

4 sprigs of thyme

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable)

1 (14.5 oz) can of diced tomatoes

2 C lightly packed kale, ribs removed, coarsely chopped (I shredded by hand)

1 C chickpeas

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrot and cook until they begin to soften, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the butternut squash, allspice, salt and cayenne; stir to combine. Add the thyme, broth and tomatoes with their juice. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the kale and the chickpeas, and cook 10 minutes more until the squash is tender and the kale has wilted. Pick out the thyme sprigs and discard before serving. (Adapted during cooking from Ellie Krieger recipe.)

Ah. Maze. Ing.

5 Things You’d Take on a Deserted Island

As an only child, I can go days and days without speaking to another human. That never happens now that I am a single mom. And that’s fine. Today, my child woke from 12 hours of sleeping (which also never happens) and continued to jump and talk all the day long. I have to admit, it was awful. That famous question about the five things you’d take on a deserted island. As an only child, that sounds FREAKING AMAZING. I wouldn’t take a damned thing! That is the whole point: deserted. Nada. Just me and my thoughts; me sleeping, waking up WHEN I WANT TO WAKE. Oh man. Delightful.

But if I had to cave and pick something, one of those five things would be a pot to make soup in (on the off chance I can procure a fire). I love soup. I could live off of it. Throw any old thing in there. One of the best soups I ever made was for a second date. I had leftover chicken and little else. I found a can of chickpeas and a can of diced tomatoes in the pantry. And one lonely carton of chicken broth. I combined everything in a pot and, after I portioned our servings into bowls, I put a dollop of cottage cheese in the middle. My date was flabbergasted. “Why would you do that? What made you do that?” I think I said something really romantic like,  “Um…it is about to expire.” He informed me that he and his father are the only two people he’d ever known to put cottage cheese in their soup. And that soup was divine. I was proud of my little poor woman’s concoction.

Tonight, I made a soup that trumped that one. I amazed myself. It was from Emeril’s daughters’ gluten free cookbook. A type of tortilla soup with turkey and beans and veggies, it smelled just as good as it looked. It was light and filling. I paired it with their jalapeño cornbread. I forgot to set the timer, but grabbed it in time.

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I forgot to take an after pic, so I’ll do that tomorrow on Tumblr (because I’m having it for dinner tomorrow, too. And probably lunch.). This was before I added the broth and water.

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The top rack has two chicken breasts in a glass pan. I always make chicken and rice with edamame for my child and her friend. Well, I once tried to change it up a bit and it wasn’t well-received. So, now I stick to what is requested.

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This is the best gluten free cornbread I’ve ever had. Better than any store-bought mix. Made with a gluten free flour mix I blend and keep in the refrigerator, and corn meal, green onions, and jalapeños. The texture was perfect, and kept its taste even after dipping it in the soup. Lots left over, and years ago…I used to make cornbread in my cast iron and then eat it for dinner a few nights (and breakfast, and lunch…) with sour cream and heated salsa on top (I love salsa heated in the skillet).

And for dessert (since I made the apple/chocolate/walnut/cinnamon crisp thingy without the girls here and they weren’t too happy about that), I repeated this delicious creation. And I learned, if you refrigerate the leftovers and let a slice come to room temperature, all that brown sugar turns into a dreamy caramel sauce.

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Don’t Crowd the Mushrooms

It’s true. Julia was right. I like to make mine with bacon grease (Boar’s Head) and Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour. 

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I cooked steak in a skillet and then fried the mushrooms in it. I honestly can’t think of a better combination. Unless, of course, it’s edamame/corn/pickles. Heat frozen edamame and frozen corn with 2T of water. Once heated, add 1/2 cup of diced pickles (I used dill, but you could use sweet) and 1T of pickle juice. Delicious! What a treat. 

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Sweet potato fries might be the child’s favorite new side item. Every single time I make them (or fried/diced Yukon gold potatoes), she asks, “Are there more of these for me?” before she even starts eating them. 

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This is the first time in I couldn’t tell you how long that my sweet child hasn’t burst into tears at bedtime, telling me she’s starving. She has always eaten enough for three football players, and always asks for dessert after. I have been giving her apples at night hoping the fiber will fill her up; she didn’t even ask for dessert tonight. But I think the apples are making a real impact on her, wouldn’t you say? 

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Tastes Like Fall

Tastes Like Fall

I saw this on Pinterest. I stood up from the computer, walked into the kitchen, made it, and died. I got better. This is so tasty.

I had made pumpkin muffins to take to a football viewing party. (Is that what they’re even called?) I had some leftover pumpkin puree and this is just about the greatest way to blow through it.

1/3 cup pumpkin puree
half a frozen banana
1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (I make my own with 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. of ginger and nutmeg, 1/8 tsp. cloves)
a smoodge of honey (or a splursh, or a squiddgie–any fake S word will do)
enough almond milk to submerge (real S word) all the ingredients

My personal smoothie maker is the perfect size for this recipe, but I shared mine with a tiny person. You may or may not decide to do such craziness.

Enjoy!

One of Those Days

Wednesdays are crazy. I pick the child up from the after-school program. They’re either inside or on the playground. I go inside, they’re not there. I go to the playground, and somehow I’ve missed them and have to go back inside. This takes about 20 minutes to find her, sign her out, grab her stuff, and get her into the car. 

Today, we ran an errand and I completely forgot it was Wednesday. Thank goodness I remembered because I was about to make two more stops. We rushed home, changed, got to practice (where it was parents vs. kids, and now I know why soccer players wear cleats). Afterward, we stopped by the grocery and grabbed this for dinner: 

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After dinner, I checked her backpack. Her snack pocket was empty. I noticed this morning that she didn’t eat her snack yesterday. I asked her about it at the grocery and she said, “I was busy doing my homework.” So, tonight, I asked, “Did you eat two rice cakes today, and a Lara bar, and fruit snacks?” She said, “Yes.” 

So, today, my 6 y.o. daughter ate: 2 slices of bacon, an egg, part of a gluten free chocolate chip muffin top, half a cheese sandwich, two pickles, some chips, two gluten free Newman Os, 2 rice cakes, a Lara bar, a packet of fruit chews, popcorn, lox and cream cheese on toast, Cheetos, and a gluten free ice cream cone with vanilla and chocolate ice cream swirl. 

And now, she wants to know what is for dessert.