I think I’ve forgotten how to blog! We’ve had a baby, moved to a new house, celebrated Christmas, New Year’s and tried to unpack and set up a new household. My, oh my…It’s been one big year and a half. The hope is we’ll start to feel settled soon. I hope so.
I was really into stewed prunes (when I took this photo a week ago), having remembered Orangette’s recipe for it from her book but then finding it on her blog. I had never stewed any kind of fruit, but my, stewed prunes are absolutely delicious! Try it. I only added some citrus once, mostly I just stewed the prunes by themselves, though her recipe calls for cinnamon and citrus.
I just finished reading the above two books by Kathleen Flinn. I started with her second book, The Kitchen Counter Cooking School, as I’d seen it on David Leibovitz’s blog (an American pastry chef living in France), as a book in his “Stuff I’m liking” column. It looked interesting and my local library had it. I finished it rather quickly and I learned a lot about basic cooking (I think I want to buy the book as it’s a great reference). It’s a story along with recipes, which is kind of my favorite type of book to read (learning something new but through someone’s personal journey), also I’m not one to read a cookbook straight through. Is there anyone who does that? Maybe. Anyway, Mrs. Flinn teaches nine novices how to cook, people who before the classes were kind of afraid of being in the kitchen to varying degrees, out of a lack of knowledge and/or confidence. It’s amazing what learning some basic food techniques, along with learning more about how to shop for good food, can do for you in the kitchen. I highly recommend it.
Well, then I moved onto her first book, The Sharper Your Knife the Less You Cry, which is her journey of becoming a chef at the Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris, France (where Julia Child studied). It’s a great read as Mrs. Flinn is not only studying at the world famous school, but learning French too, and of course living in France. All things that I find very interesting. It’s a journey about following your passion, even if it’s taken you a long time to finally do it, set in the context of learning traditional French cooking. What could be more lovely (and not to mention educational for when your out at that fancy restaurant)!
It might be fun to have some new cooking ideas and techniques under your belt as the cold weather sinks in and we’re all spending more time inside (not to mention all the holidays coming up!) I’ve already started applying what I learned for some nice, comforting meals (and I just ordered a 5 qt. cast iron dutch oven, a recommendation in the “Kitchen Counter” book). It should be arriving any day.
I don’t know what gets into me, but every once in awhile I say to myself, I’ve GOT to write a blog post. Even if I’m way tired, need to go to bed and I’m pretty much worn out from the day (because truthfully, everyday lately feels like that). The whole feeling good while pregnant seems to have completely eluded me, though others are sure to tell me, “I felt great while pregnant, only sick once” or “I would have had more, it was so easy being pregnant”, which is, honestly, not quite what I want to hear. Yes, it’s gotten better, but it comes and goes and when I read the title of a book the other day, that was something like, how to survive the 9 months of being pregnant, I thought, oh yes, that’s more like it. How do you survive? That’s pretty much what I’ve been trying to do.
So, with that said, I do ask your forgiveness for my absence from this blog, for my lack of response to some of your comments, to not calling people back, and for overall being somewhat of a cave person, because that’s pretty much what I am these days. I’m just staying in my little cave (or little bubble because there aren’t any caves here in Illinois, unfortunately, if there was one you can be sure I’d be in it). I’m just surviving. I wish I could say that in a more evolved, enlightened way, but oh well.
As for the rest of us here, well, they’re trying to survive me, I think. It’s easier now that everyone can feel the little, active baby in my belly kicking up a storm, see the protrusion from my tummy getting bigger everyday, and talking about what a little baby in the house will be like. I’ve been trying, furiously, to stock up on everything I think we might need, for all of us, for those first few months and really first year, because to be honest, that first year is a whopper and they’ll be two children, not just one.
The above photo is of some pretty awesome red boots I found at Goodwill. I was actually looking for snow boots for Iliana, but as luck would have it, I found these! I remember it being hard to find size 5 boots when Iliana reached walking stage and needed them. I grabbed these up as soon as I saw them, aren’t they charming? Eric’s comment, what european country are those from, though they say made in the USA on the bottom, I’ve never seen anything like them here. So, one thing crossed off the list…size 5 slickers, yeah!
You’ve got to check out these donuts, how they’re made with such love by Mexican pastry chef Fany Gerson. I’m currently browsing through her book My Sweet Mexico, for the second time, the first time I read it more cover to cover, but it’s detailed so this time I’m just jumping around. She traveled through Mexico for a year cataloging the sweets of her youth and writing them down for all of us to experience at home. We stumbled upon the above video for her donut shop in Brooklyn, Dough Donuts, a few days ago. Iliana’s favorite looking one is of course the dark pink, the “Hibiscus”, which is just so amazing, the color being so rich with no additives, all natural ingredients. I like the look of the simple white, with poppy seeds, myself.
The book is filled with traditional Mexican sweets from all over Mexico. I have marked to try the “Sweet Potato Candies” and the “Pumpkin Seed Candy”, but by no means is it all candy. There’s a whole chapter on beverages including “Chocolate Caliente” and a variety of grain beverages using corn and even an amaranth porridge type drink. The chapter I find particularly interesting is Sweets from Convents which includes the two candy recipes I want to make.
With Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos coming up, the Mexican celebration of loved ones who have passed away (October 31-November 2), I think it’s a nice time to learn more about the foods and practices of Mexican culture.
We have a bit of an announcement around here…as the title suggests, there’s going to be a baby. I’m about 20 weeks, or 5 months pregnant, and we’ll be seeing the little one sometime in late February, 2013. I’ve felt absolutely awful but it’s gotten better over the last month or so, hence the start up in a few blog posts here and there again. You might also notice that many of my posts involve some sort of food we’re making or that I’ve read about. It’s a constant, this trying to figure out what my body wants and what I can tolerate. This time I’m really loving coconut milk. I’ve got to have it. I also have to have protein at every meal or else…trouble!
We recently checked out the above book from the library. I was already a fan of Helen Oxenbury’s I Can (Baby Beginner Board books). I find the writing and illustrations so simple and lovely. I was delighted to find There’s Going to be a Baby at the library and since reading it I so love the beautiful drawings in it. The mother is so elegant. It’s got me wanting to add a little something to my own wardrobe to spruce it up (or a lot of things)!
Iliana wanted to take some photos of me today, and she got a good one of the belly. So, there you have it!
We’ll be checking out the Chicago Marathon this weekend for the first time in person (at least me, Eric watched it last year as he’d already moved to Chicago by then)! I’m really looking forward to it as it was always a highlight for me to watch the elite runners in the Boulder Bolder every May (and this year, alas, I did not get to see them) in Colorado. It often brings tears to my eyes as the effort, determination, focus, and skill is so amazing. It’s truly beautiful to watch a really great athlete at work, it’s art transformed into the body. We have some family coming into town for the event who we’ll meet up with in the city at some point this weekend. I’m also just curious to be in the city and see more of it.
I’m hoping to make these oatmeal muffins (albeit gluten free), maybe tomorrow morning, to eat and share with those we see this weekend. I’ve learned something new about grains, nuts and seeds recently regarding the importance of soaking them first before cooking or eating them. It’s information I’d heard and read way back when I was into macrobiotics but had since forgotten or mostly stopped doing. I’ll be soaking my oats overnight before cooking with them, suffice it to say.
I hope you have a nice and enjoyable weekend.
(a note: here’s the recipe I’m going off of for gluten free oat muffins…I have yet to use teff, so I’m not sure if I’ll substitute that or not.)
Orange is on the brain I guess. We made delicious, healthy carrot cake muffins a couple days ago from The Spunky Coconut. The only adaptation I made was to make the cake into muffins as I wanted them to cook more quickly. Everything else I followed to a ‘T’ and they turned out beautifully (except that I didn’t frost them). The Spunky Coconut is a great blog where you can find very healthy recipes that are gluten free, casein free, and sugar free (and oftentimes grain free for those of you on a paleo diet!) We ate all of them in a day (the recipe made 12, so we didn’t completely overdo it and we shared them with my father-in-law). I’d like to make some more today, but we’ll see.
We’ve also been reading Carrots by Inez Snyder, a book all about how carrots grow. It was fun to have Iliana grating the carrots and to have been reading about where they come from with her. I’m such a thematically oriented person!
I highly recommend the muffins, so tasty and seasonal.
Edit: Okay, so after posting this I realized, I did not follow that recipe to a ‘T’ (for me I did, pretty much, as I usually change a lot more). I thought I’d share the changes I made: used grape seed oil instead of coconut, freshly grated nutmeg instead of allspice but in the same amout, no stevia and no walnuts. I also did not use an electric mixer to combine everything as we hand grated the carrots and they just seemed too big for that. That’s actually a few changes. There you go!
We’ve been truly enjoying this book Applesauce Season around here. It’s currently one of Iliana’s favorites. I like it because it’s seasonal and because Iliana gets to learn the steps in applesauce making (it even includes a recipe on one of the back pages). I found it at the library in a section I didn’t know existed until recently. Our library has a section of children’s books separated into different seasons/holidays/special times, so there’s Fall/Autumn, Winter, Halloween, Earth (books on gardening, composting and such) and various other categories. I really like that all these books have been pulled together, it makes it so easy to go and pick one out that applies to the current season.
Applesauce Season follows a family in the steps of applesauce making from buying the apples at the farmer’s market in a big city, making the sauce, serving it with latkes (a great video, unrelated to the book, on making latkes and applesauce!) and other foods, celebrating the first applesauce of the season with friends, and even making an apple pie to honor a grandfather that has passed. I like the illustrations as well as the writing (I have to like both in order to want to check it out from the library). It’s the current go to when we’re reading before nap or bedtime.
We have yet to find our place in the picking of apples around here. In Longmont, our neighborhood was filled with apple trees that would be hanging over the sidewalks groaning with unpicked apples. In passed years we’ve collected and eaten tons of apples and made applesauce. Hopefully, when we finally get a house here we’ll be able to locate the apple trees for next year’s season.
Cucurbitaceae – The plant family Cucurbitaceae consists of various squashes, melons, and gourds, including crops such as cucumber, pumpkins, luffas, and watermelons.
We here are loving this season. Fall is both my husband’s and my favorite time of the year. I have made this squash pie a couple of times now (it’s more like a souffle and so easy)! We’ve also spent more time outside now that it’s cooled off. It really is just so magical, the way the light comes through the trees and shines in the windows. I feel so much hope.
It’s been busy this last month and months I’d have to say. It feels like things are finally calming down just a bit.
I love that word Cucurbit! Years ago, maybe 5 now, maybe longer, Eric and I had a little party in our backyard to celebrate the completion of a woodworking shop we built. Part of what people were asked to bring was an unusual cucurbit that was then entered into a “funkiest or funniest or most unusual” cucurbit contest. It was really fun to see what people came up with and I will admit I was surprised that the range of cucurbits was pretty small. I realized that most people went to the local grocery store and picked out the funkiest they had, which makes sense. But if you’ve ever been to a farmer’s market and seen the amazing array of different kinds of squash you would be astonished. It really blows my mind every time and I find all of them so beautiful and interesting. Especially since I love all those fall colors, orange being a favorite. I feel I could spend hours learning all about the names and qualities of different cucurbits, maybe when Iliana is older we’ll do just that. Maybe we’ll cook each one up too or carve some of them!
Happy Cucurbit Season to you!