As my mom mentioned on Monday, illness has descended upon our household. And despite our best efforts, over a week later we’re still kicking this uninvited visitor around. John was all ready to sit down and write a post for today (it is his Friday after all), but then I made puppy eyes and asked him to make dinner instead. So, I’m sitting in bed with a heap of tissues and he is off scrounging together leftovers from a most excellent visit we just had with family.
Oh man–mentioning a heap of tissues on a food blog is probably something you’re not supposed to do unless they accumulated from patting something fried down. Oh well. My nose, throat and brain are proverbially fried so…deal.
One of the things that I’ve really been enjoying about generating concoctions for M in the kitchen is that so many of these dishes are simple and make excellent sides for those of us with bigger appetites and more teeth than an almost one year old. It’s been a cool minute since I spent any time rethinking side dishes, usually whipping up something from a rotation of standards that are yummy but, you know, maybe appearing a little too often on our dinner plates. Anyway, in the past few weeks I’ve come up with two meals for M that are absolutely fabulous. They’re simple, interesting and healthy, too. Give ‘em a try and let us know what you think!
ingredients (for 4)
1 large carrot
a knob of ginger
6-8 T. applesauce (homemade, right? right)
Halve carrot lengthwise and then slice. Put into pan over medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil (to prevent sticking) and a dash of salt (to help the carrot cook and to open up flavors). Thinly slice ginger and then mince (do this to taste…we can eat a lot of ginger in this family, but I know not everyone can so start with about a tablespoon and build from there) before adding to skillet. Once carrots have begun to soften (around 10 minutes), add applesauce by the heaping tablespoon, stirring well. If using store-bought applesauce, I’d suggest adding cinnamon to taste, too. Saute until carrots are cooked and serve.
ingredients (for 4)
1 medium zucchini
2 large coves of garlic
freshly shaved aged parmesan
fresh cracked pepper
Peel zucchini. Halve lengthwise and then slice. Place in pan over medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of salt (wait–this sounds really familiar, right? See–I told you these were simple sides). Mince your garlic and add, sauteing until zucchini is cooked. Remove from pan and toss with fresh cracked pepper and parmesan to taste. Serve and watch everyone smile.
A while ago I posted about “Toddler Meals” and it’s glorious effort to beat back the dinner blues. When I wrote about it, though, the idea of making a meal for M that involved much more than breast milk was just that–an idea–and nothing more. My first kid, I had no idea what was in store for us as the year progressed.
“Toddler Meals” has become our kitchen bff. Not only does it offer up tons and tons of simple combinations that are baby-kid friendly (because M is definitely a baby-kid right now…), but it also includes recipes for the whole stinking family to enjoy. Be still my beating heart. The recipes are definitely on the bland side (we are feeding an eleven month old after all…and the book is divided into age categories), but John and I are both more than capable of adding salt and whatnot to our plates once M has noticed that we are, in fact, all eating the same thing.
And so, last week I made the Red Lentil Dhal recipe. It’s super easy, which is super wonderful and totally what I’m looking for come 6 o’clock. I doubled the recipe because I wasn’t sure if the serving suggestion of 3 meant kids or adults. Doubling it made a ton and enough for leftovers (always welcome), but if you’re interested in not stocking your fridge with dahl then just follow the recipe and enjoy a warm, hearty and healthy meal.
Red Lentil Dhal, for All
1/2 cup split red lentils
2 cups chicken stock (or water)
1/2 tspn. cumin
1/4 small onion, diced
1/4 mild green chili, diced
1/4 tspn. ginger
1/4 tspn. garlic
Peel garlic and ginger. Chop finely. Bring stock/water to a rapid boil in a medium sauce pan. Add lentils, onion, ginger, garlic, chili, and cumin, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about 45 minutes, or until the lentils are completely soft. Serve with couscous or, you know, in a pile on a place mat depending on the age of the eater.
Ok, so that soup you posted yesterday looks seriously delicious. I’m going to have to make it very soon, particularly if this cold weather we’ve had for the last couple of days sticks around any longer (you never know what October will bring here in the Bay Area). Thanks for giving me the recipe. I like having your recipes to cook from (and from other people I love). It’s such a nice way to feel connected to someone.
Anyway, this weekend something really exciting happened: I baked for the first time since M was born. I love baking, like love love love love it. I find it incredibly relaxing and gratifying. Following a recipe requires just enough attention to keep my brain from spiraling away from me, but not so much attention that I can’t get some really good thinking done while my hands work. I’ve been wanting to bake–longing, really–but what with the general chaos of our lives these days a window simply hadn’t presented itself.
John and M went out to run errands for a few hours the other morning and G was still asleep. I decided doing something I really wanted with this time was more important than doing homework, which is what I–no joke–do with every second I have to myself these days (ok, I shower, too). I needed to fuel myself a bit and so I poured a cup of coffee, put on Loretta Lynn and busted out my cookbooks.
I decided I would try to make something I’d never made before–never even had a homemade version of before, in fact. As I perused my copy of “The Craft of Baking” by Karen DeMasco and Mindy Fox I stumbled across a recipe for homemade graham crackers. I checked the fridge and pantry and, having the ingredients (ok, having the ingredients needed if I halved the recipe…close enough), immediately set about baking.
I’m going to share the recipe as I slightly modified it with you. The only warning I’ll give is that you definitely want to roll your dough for these as thinly as you dare. I think Dad would really enjoy these (they’re not super sweet at all) and, based on the fact that they disappeared from the counter within a day, I’m guessing just about anybody else would, too. I can’t wait to make them for M when she’s a little older (you’ll notice I punched mine with Ms in her honor). I have high hopes of making my own marshmallows and chocolate sometime, too, and preparing entirely homemade s’mores. If you’re lucky, we’ll be living close enough for you to stop by when I finally get around to this project.
Anyway, I love you. Back to the books for me.
you can double this recipe
1 c. unbleached all-purpose flour (plus more for rolling)
1/4 c. whole-wheat flour
1/4+1/8 tspn. kosher salt (I’m sure there’s a better way to articulate that measurement, but it’s evading me right now)
1/4 tspn. baking soda
1/4 tspn. cinnamon
4 oz. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature
1/8 c. packed light brown sugar (dark brown probably would’ve been better, but we didn’t have it)
1/8 c. granulated ginger sugar (this was sugar I had leftover from making Dad candied ginger)
1/8 c. orange flower honey
In a bowl, mix well the all-prupose flour, whole-wheat flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. In your electric mixer (oh wait–you don’t have one) fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and honey. Mix until well combined. In two additions, add the dry ingredients, letting the first addition fully incorporate before adding the second.
Flatten the dough into a rectangular shape, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and place in the fridge until chilled, at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days (supposedly you can freeze the dough, too, for up to a month).
When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet (I have a silpat, but parchment paper would work I’m sure). On a lightly floured surface, unwrap your dough and roll it into a rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. Cut the dough into rectangles the size that you desire (mine are roughly 2″x4″) and use a spatula to transfer them to your baking sheet. You can reroll your dough scraps once to cut out more cookies. Using a fork, pierce each rectangle (I did two Ms and a line across the middle so the grahams would break in half nicely).
Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating halfway through.