homemade

Julia’s Child by Sarah Pinneo – An Easy Bread Recipe and A Good Read

When I am really into a book I take it everywhere with me – confession – I even bring it into the car (sometimes I have time to read while waiting for children – don’t worry – no reading while driving!), I also take it to the kitchen while I am making dinner (sometimes that doesn’t work out very well). When I couldn’t put down Julia’s Child, it was okay because the great recipes meant it was in the kitchen for practical reasons, too.

The title character, Julia Bailey, is a mom on a mission. She can’t find healthy store-bought food that she wants to feed her children and starts making her own healthy recipes like Apple & Cheddar Muffets (which are delicious by the way). She starts making them for friends, too, and before she knows it, she is running a small organic toddler food business.

I loved Julia and completely related, below is an excerpt from the book, written by Julia as recipe notes:

“…The first time I wrote this, I put ‘organic’ in front of every ingredient. But it looked overzealous and uptight. (Don’t say it – kind of like me). What do you think?…

Author Sarah Pinneo clearly gets it and writes an funny, engaging book about trying to have her organic toddler bites and eat them, too. Don’t believe me – Check out the review on Kirkus Reviews.

Okay, I admit that I had a food mill, bought organic milk and produce and was maybe occasionally uptight and overzealous. I am in recovery now and only carry first aid kits and car blankets and a life hammer and…never mind, I’ll stop now.

Sarah was nice enough to include a recipe which is lovely, easy and delicious (I made it on Super Bowl Sunday – a great bread for soups, sandwiches and chili!)

Baking Bread for Busy Moms

By Sarah Pinneo

Writing Julia’s Child, and then working with Penguin USA on publishing it, was a lot of fun. But it was also a lot of work. When things got intense, I didn’t fail to notice the irony—some weeks I spent more hours writing about cooking for children than I did cooking for my real children.

The conventional wisdom is: write what you know. As a result, Julia’s Child is about mother guilt. And also toddlers, organic food, and green-washing. (And, to a lesser extent, goat manure and boobs. Julia’s Child is a comedy.)

Even while juggling all these topics, I’ve found that it’s still possible to bake bread. Nothing else makes the house smell more like home. My desk is in the kitchen, allowing me to sit mere feet from where the dough is rising. One feels more virtuous about scanning twitter while sitting in the same room with a bread dough you’ve made yourself. Trust me.

Due to the profusion of no-knead dough recipes in the past few years, you can bake bread without spending hours on it. But you do have to time it correctly—because it must rise for many hours. This is how I manage it, even during the busy weeks:

No Knead Bread, Adapted from a New York Times recipe by Jim Lahey

Ingredients

3 cups of all-purpose flour, or 2 cups all-purpose plus 1 cup of whole wheat

1/4 teaspoon fast acting (or instant) yeast

1 teaspoon salt

On Friday night, add all the ingredients to a big mixing bowl. Pour in 1 5/8 cups of tepid water, and stir with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined. (My six-year old loves this job.) The dough will be shaggy and sticky.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set on the countertop until morning.

First thing Saturday morning, put out a silicone mat or another not-sticky surface on the countertop. Sprinkle flour liberally on the mat. Turn out your risen dough onto the flour, and sprinkle even more flour on top. Then, gently fold the blob of dough in on itself a few times. Invert your mixing bowl, allowing it to act as a domed lid over the dough, and let it rise again.

Around 10 in the morning, preheat the oven to 425. Put a large pot with a lid in the oven to preheat as well. Set the timer for a half hour, so you won’t forget to put the bread in the oven.

At 10:30, carefully remove the preheated pot from the oven. Set the lid aside.

Take the top off of your dough, and turn it out, into the pot. (It will still look like a big wet mess. Don’t panic.)

Carefully replace the hot pot lid, and put the pot in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Then remove the lid and bake 20-30 more minutes, until the bread has a deep brown crust.

Cool thoroughly. Right around 12:30, you will be able to enjoy fresh bread with lunch!

Any busy mother will relate to this book – it is a great read and even has tried and true recipes. (I made the bread and the muffets). The book also has great tips for cooking with toddlers like this one: Give a toddler a chopstick when it is their turn to stir the flour. Trust me, you’ll thank her for this.

Win a copy of the lovely and Julia’s Child by commenting below – I’ll add the comments from last week’s post to this one and a winner will be posted here.

Winner will be chosen by the plug-in I use so no one calls foul – And The Winner Is

This contest will run through February 13, 2012 at 12:00 pm. Winner will be contacted by email and listed here.

For good measure, follow Sarah Pinneo on Twitter and like her on Facebook.

Before I Forget Tip: I used to take along a whole avocado for a day out (put it in a bag with a baby spoon and a butter knife) as a quick portable meal or a snack for older children. Whew, it has been a while since I had to pack that way!

 

And The Winner is Sarah C! Sarah will get an email and a copy of Julia’s Child!

Gifts for tutors and teachers – What to give? Day 5 of 12 Days of Shopping

First, find out school policy and abide by the rules. What, I am bossy? Yeah, that’s news. Really, figure out (ask other parents in the school) what is customary and either follow it or if, for some reason, it doesn’t seem enough to you… get creative and come up with some new ideas.

Many districts have also have programs in place to help you, like Honor Thy Teacher  run by the Newton Schools Foundation where you can make a donation in a teacher’s name.  Some schools let you buy books (at a PTO run Book Fair) or donate a book to the school library in the name of the teacher.
There is no shortage of great gifts (books) and you can grab a gift card to a local book store (more books) or coffee shop. Have your children make the card – it is always appreciated. Maybe you can organize a Teacher Appreciation Coffee before the holidays. Get the PTO involved and start a new tradition – maybe you can give everyone a goodie bag or, I don’t know, a book?

So, what to give? Is handwritten card and cookies enough or do you slip a gift card inside? If you do, try Sephora, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts or iTunes.  Sometimes a group gift is in order. so pony up and be the one that collects the money and buys the gift, assign someone else the task of getting the card signed by all of the students. More work for you but you will make some teacher’s day.

What else to give?  Always welcome gifts :  hand-knitted or commercially made scarves, sweaters, gloves, socks which also all fit the not too personal rule (include a gift receipt to be extra nice). What else? Holiday decorations (Hanukah or Christmas) and candles, anything homemade (see Friday’s post),  notecards or plantable paper from Botanical PaperWorks. How about a magazine subscription? I like Uncommon Goods for really different but reasonable gifts like this Stackable Lunch Pot Set.

The new Flour Bakery cookbook (add some sweet wooden spoons or a whisk and a pretty dishtowel and put them in a mixing bowl). You could also make your favorite recipe from the cookbook and include the baked goods with the book.


Penzey’s is a great stop – the catalog is great but the store is even better (in Arlington, MA).  They also have the best packaging for the spices; whole nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves are placed between the bottles in many of their gift boxes. You can put together your own, too.  Pretty and sweet or savory.

Don’t forget plants.  Sure, a poinsettia or a white amaryllis or some sweet paper whites. Sounds boring? Not this time of year in New England! Go get a nice orchid (Trader Joe’s has them, as does Whole Foods) or a big gorgeous flowering tropical house plant (just be sure to cover it well when you run it outside). Nearby garden centers will have a nice selection and you will get a much needed dose of green while you shop. Usually know for their more expensive arrangements,  Winston Flowers has some less expensive choices that are lovely, too. I have also had great luck at the Waban 1-800-Flowers store. Great selection and great customer service, too.

The most important thing is to thank the teachers and let them know they are appreciated. Happy Holidays and head over to Pragmatic Mom for super Tutor Gift Ideas.

The 12 Days of Shopping

I will be posting The 12 Days of Shopping jointly with Capability:Mom. Please visit her blog to see the other half of each post.

 Dec 1: Make Your Own Gifts GRANOLA, Amazing Granola from Nigella Lawson versus Amazing Granola Bars from The Barefoot Contessa

 Dec 2: Kids Make Gifts CRAFT (ModPodge versus Clove Fruit)

 Dec 3: Personalized Gifts (Fancy Address Stampers versus Pretty Papers Giveaway)

 Dec 4:  Father-in-Law/Dad and Mother-in-Law/Mom

 Dec 5Tutors/Teachers

 Dec 6High Tech/Low Tech

 Dec 7Hostess/Doing Good and Getting Something

 Dec 8: Sanitation EngineersMail Carriers, Hairdresser, Delivery People, Babysitter, Cleaning People, Dog Walker/Dog Trainer, etc. (a.k.a. who else did I forget?)

 Dec 9Husband, Me (Our Own Wacko List)Capability:Mom Husband/Wife

 Dec 10:  Dog/Cat

 Dec 11: Quick Gifts from Whole Foods versus Gourmet Food Store

 Dec 12: ’Cause I Am So Together,  Last Minute Home Made Gifts:  Cookies Personalized Holiday Tags


Shopping for the Holidays with blogger extraordinaire, Pragmatic Mom

Last year, Pragmatic Mom and I shared a wildly popular (said modestly, eyes downcast) series of 12 posts for the 12 Days of – not Christmas – but Shopping. This year we are a little more on top of things and are starting earlier.  We covered those challenging people to buy for (Gifts for Father-in-law was by far the most searched) including in-laws, tutors, and teachers. How can you be your best centered self (not self-centered self) if you are distracted and driving around searching for gifts? We’ve got you covered. This was such fun and worked so well last year that we are formatting it the same way this year. We’ll be joint posting for the twelve days and Pragmatic Mom will do half of each post, and I’ll do the other. We even have a giveaway thrown in the mix this year, too, from Botanical Paperworks – Check out their Green Gifts Guide and enter to win Eco Coil Calendar and Pop Garden Pocket Notebooks at Pragmatic Mom on December 4th and Poppy Notebook Pad and Mittens Card Set here on December 5th!

So here is a preview: The 12 Days of Shopping

Thursday, December 1:  Make Your Own Gifts

Friday, December 2:  Kids Make Gifts Craft

Saturday, December 3: Personalized Gifts

Sunday, December 4:  Father-in-Law/Dad and Mother-in-Law/Mom

Monday, December 5:  Tutors/Teacherscapability mom scrounges sales racks for tea towels from Sur la table and anthropologie

Tuesday, December 6:  High Tech/Low Tech

Wednesday, December 7:  Hostess/Doing Good and Getting Something

Thursday, December 8:  Sanitation Engineers, Mail Carriers, Hairdresser, Delivery People, Babysitter, Cleaning People, Dog Walker/Dog Trainer

Friday, December 9:  Husband, Me (Our Own  List)

Saturday, December 10:  Pets

Sunday, December 11:  Quick Gifts from Whole Foods versus Gourmet Food Store

Monday, December 12:  ‘Cause I Am So Together,  Last Minute Home Made Gifts

 

Why I like Snow Days…Pop Tarts, homemade ones at that

I am nothing if not thorough, especially about food that I care about. Yes, I will eat a meal so fast I cannot have possibly tasted it, but mark my words, it is not fast food in any other way.  I am a secret foodie snob. While I cannot cook as well as I like to eat, I think that is a matter of focus, quite possibly research and planning and maybe talent (or the lack thereof). I know many very talented home cooks and bakers and although I do not consider myself one of them, every now and then I do focus and good things come out of my kitchen (like Vanilla Bread, Rainbow Cake, Coconut Macaroons). Oh, did I not tell you about the summer that I perfected the coconut macaroon? Well, I did. Ask my family  – “Mom, Are you making those cookies that only you like again?”-  Ask my friends, most of them do like the cookies and were willing to help with taste testing every batch. They are perfect and I will attach the recipe below, if I remembered to write it down, which I sort of didn’t so I will recreate it again. Damn, it’s good thing I am not a scientist on the brink of discovery for the cure for the common cold or something. It’s just a cookie, people, you’ll be fine. Plus it is Girl Scout Cookie time – just got my order in for the usual 8 boxes. No, I don’t have any to spare.

And then I found a recipe for pop tarts. homemade freakin’ pop tarts. The main ingredient in these tasty treats is butter and I have rounded up the best recipes and will – ahem – research them for you.

We will wake up – whenever we want to – school has already been cancelled for tomorrow – and bake pop tarts all morning and report back. If you are up early, here are links to the ones I thought were the best – in case you don’t want to wait for us.

Found them first on The Whisk Kid then I saw them here on another favorite, Smitten Kitchen. Both of these sites never disappoint so feel free to try one of them. I was in research mode so I found this at The Kitchn (from another fave – Joanne Chang of Flour), Because I am so nice, I also kept looking and found new sites Brown Eyed Baker and Chez Pim.

Check them out – they are lovely. I still haven’t decided how many I will try but, in the name of research, I will do my best (and deliver the extra to friends – something tells me that I may have to get these out of the house). Don’t worry, my sister told me the Girl Scout cookies come in on Monday.

The although-I-haven’t-made-them-in-a-while-coconut-macaroon-recipe-I-think-this-is-it. (I may have to make a batch and confirm this recipe). Sorry if not perfection!

4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut (I mix sweetened and unsweetened in equal amounts but I have seen a recipe that called for cake flour which I also might try – or would if these weren’t so perfect already)

Basically make them as if you were making a meringue cookie – beat the egg whites until fluffy and add sugar, salt and vanilla.  Fold in coconut and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. If you have time refrigerate them before baking for an hour, if not, it’s okay. These are pretty forgiving.

Don’t worry – I am also making Turkey Chili tomorrow – We do not subsist solely on baked goods!

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