Sofra

Drop Off, Pick Up, Repeat.

MIT Museum capability mom …or What I Did On My Summer Vacation. Vacation? No. Staycation? Not quite that either. Call it The Day Camp Diaries. Take your regular children, add other people’s children in a carpool for maximum scheduling confusion (but you don’t drive every leg), add towns near and far, throw in some not-so coordinated start and end times and a smattering of schedule changes (Can you make a pick up in Weston and one in Cambridge with only a half hour in between? Yes, yes, you can) and you have my summer.

First world problem? Definitely. Gratitude problem? Quite possibly that too. However, I know I’m not alone in an increased summer driving requirement. Many of my friends (the ones whose children are not at sleep away camps, note to self, time to look at Maine Camp Experience) have a full component of children at home and/or in day camps. Once your kids are in different camps and have specialty (read one or two week programs) camps, you are doomed to drive way more than you ever thought possible. On the up side, you get to explore new lands with exotic food (off campus lattes and baked goods always taste better). capability mom meringues from flour bakery cookbookWhat is considered off campus? Anything that is out of your regular route.

Some off campus activities included the Boston waterfront and a visit to flour bakery + cafe which inspired the baking of meringues made by daughter and a friend – they even upped the meringue meter by adding raspberries, blueberries and chocolate (all were delicious but raspberry was the favorite). A carpool route went by Sofra so that was a must, we also visited the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum and lunch in the cafe, the MIT Museum and another flour location) and the Wellesley Farmer’s Market (we did find a closed but pretty Whole Foods food truck – it was parked behind the Wellesley store (mysteriously, I can’t find any info on it – if you know something, send me a note!) and Captain Marden’s Seafoods has one, too, it was parked in the old Whole Foods parking lot on Washington Street. Follow them on Twitter @codsquadtruck for hours and locations./codsquadtruck captain marden's seafood capability mom

Whole Foods Food Truck capability mom blog
Mystery Whole Foods Food Truck

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flour bakery + cafe cambridge capability mom

Best Hostess Gifts – Day 7 of The 12 Days of Shopping

Anne Taintor napkins, coasters, magnets, capability mom loves them allI love finding great hostess gifts, really. It’s fun and easy to create a signature gift. Anything Anne Taintor is fabulous.

Why Whine:

There is the favorite I-don’t-know-what-to-bring-or-even-if-this-is-decent-because-I-am-re-gifting-it bottle of wine – it is what you do with it. The Dollar Spot in Target is filled with great wrapping paper, cello and gift bags. anthropologie and sur la table dishtowels from capability mom Deliver the wine with a bow or personalize it with your own art work (get out the Mod Podge!), ribbons or ornaments. I keep a stash of Target ornaments and papers that I use for package decorations. Affix the tag to ribbon or write your message on the package.

Let’s Dish:

I also pick up pretty dishtowels throughout the year, holiday themed or not, you can use them as wrapping paper for wine, baked goods or tuck them into a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon and the dry ingredients and recipe for your favorite holiday treats.

Chow Down:
Choccapability mom finds the best chocolate gift - and they are mice LA Burdickolate is always a favorite and you don’t have to spend a lot but feel free to upgrade, you can also go higher end both container and chocolate to make it even more special. I have found great containers at Target, Marshall’s, T.J. Max, Home Goods and The Container Store. The best chocolate (both in presentation and taste) I ever received was from this company, L.A. Burdick, and I may have eaten this box by myself, maybe.
Plant an Idea:
Prarosemary tree from Whole Foods Market by Capability Mom Bloggmatic Mom likes to give a lemon cypress or a rosemary tree. I got one last year that I didn’t kill kept alive for three months finally succumbed to my inattention. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods both have them for under $10. You could decorate it with little tiny presents or bows but they are gorgeous as is, smell terrific and you can tuck a favorite rosemary recipe in the card.

Spice It Up:

This is an item that I have long coveted – Dean & Deluca’s Spice rack. Cool, modern and a little geeky, which I love, of course. capability mom has long coveted this spice rack from dean and delucaIt is on the splurge side, so if you want to do this less expensively, pick up nice spices at your favorite local place like Sofra Bakery or you could head to Target for this cool Trudeau 16-bottle spice rack – $31.99. Still not what you are looking for? The Cheese Shop in Wellesley has spectacular food gifts and makes the best gift baskets. Also try Formaggio Kitchen – great cheese, chocolates and more in Cambridge and Hi-Rise Bakery – also Cambridge – for their own jams and a nice selection of wines (they package everything beautifully). Still not what you are looking for? Try Uncommon Goods, Black Ink or Just Next Door.

I almost forgot one of my favorite holiday haunts…Fastachi in Watertown – homemade chocolates, roasted nuts, specialty candy and nut butter (try the almond) – all prettily packaged, fresh and delicious.

Boston Bakes – Dessert With a Purpose

Capability Mom gets sugared up for a reasonSometimes you just have a great day. The sun is shining, you watch soccer and aren’t freezing, you have a lovely afternoon at home helping with homework while providing snacks and encouragement, and you realize that some other people are doing even more amazing things and with genuine goodness. Then you sit up and take notice.

Today I learned about Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer an incredible event started by Carol Brownman Sneider in memory of her mother who died of breast cancer. Ms. Brownman Sneider wanted to do something more to help fund cancer research and this idea was born. It is now in its 12th year and includes over 275 bakeries, restaurants, a chain of grocery stores and even a cupcake food truck.

The concept is a simple one, for every Boston Bakes dessert you purchase from participating establishments (each dedicates one dessert for the week from now until Mother’s Day), 100% of the profits go to breast cancer research and care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.  For us – pretty easy lifting. Really, just find a place (so easy to do – here are a few of my favorites) and get a sweet. You will be happy and cancer research gets much needed funding. You can also host a bakesale of your own, order online (if you are out of the area) or just stop in one of the 200 plus places that are happy to be involved. Have a place that you think should join? Give them up, I mean, send the information to Boston Bakes For Breast Cancer (dot) org.

Flour Bakery, Boston

Sofra and Oleana, Cambridge

Isabelle’s Curly Cakes, Boston

The Four Seasons Hotel, Boston

Roche Brothers and Sudbury Farms, all locations

The Cupcakery, yes, a cupcake truck, hopefully coming to your town soon!

In the spirit of disclosure, I attended the press conference for this event today and tasted a sweet from all of the participants listed above – no, not all 275, please. And, no, you can’t come with me next year, yes, they were all exceptionally delicious and I am still sugared up.

Your assignment –  Buy some treats for Mother’s Day, it’s the sweet thing to do.


About Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer:
Boston  Bakes for Breast Cancer takes place each year commencing on the Monday prior to Mother’s Day and runs through and including Mother’s Day and has done so for the past 12 years.  The first year Boston Bakes had 42 participants in the Boston area and has grown each and every year.  Boston Bakes now has over 275 participants in over 80 communities across the Bay State.  Boston Bakes was designed to be an event that fit into everyone’s lives and did not require purchasing a ticket to an event to attend.   By simply purchasing a dessert anyone and everyone can make a difference in the fight against breast cancer which affects so many we know and love.  We call this raising money for breast cancer one sweet at a time.  Boston Bakes is grateful for the support of our participants, volunteers, partners and sponsors that make Boston Bakes come to life each year and to the many that enjoy the wonderful desserts benefitting breast cancer research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.  Please follow Boston Bakes on Facebook and on Twitter @boston_bakes.Mission:  

  • Bring about wellness through nourishing the spirit of the individual
  • Enrich the soul of the city in order to support the wellness of its people
  • Share wellness through gastronomic discourse and commerce
  • Apply funding to breast cancer research and care
  • End breast cancer in our lifetime

Milestones

  • $1.4 million donated to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  • Increase public awareness about breast cancer
  • Encourage community to share stories of triumph and victory
  • Fortify everyday those who fight cancer on the frontlines

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a flour scone, a sofra donut and some social media

[amazon-product image=”51uIJ1u3EWL._SL160_.jpg” region=”us” type=”image”]081186944X[/amazon-product]I had a bunch of things lined up yesterday which is always great but sometimes I feel overscheduled. Luckily, I had to be in the car a fair amount and that means NPR,  so I learned a lot. Like that Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery has a new cookbook and I want it, and heard this food scientist talking about among other things, the difference between baking powder and baking soda and wooden vs. plastic cutting boards: “It turns out that wooden cutting boards are good in a couple of ways — they’re porous so they tend to soak up juices from cutting meats and fish, for example, and that carries the bacteria down into the cutting board where they’re not at the surface anymore. And woods often contain anti-bacterial compounds in them so there’s kind of a natural antibiotic in the surface of the wood. Plastic cutting boards are easier to clean and are safer to put in the dishwasher, for example, but they also will tend to develop scars and bacteria will lodge in the scars and cause problems later. So I actually have a couple of each and use both. When a plastic cutting board develops scars, I replace it.” The book is a good resource for food safety which I am also all about.

[amazon-product image=”51L3%2BQRkB3L._SL160_.jpg” region=”us” type=”image”]1594202680[/amazon-product]

NPR has a link to Joanne Chang’s cheddar-scallion-scones which I sent to a friend last night (I knew she would love it). Amazingly, she had creme fraiche on hand (!) and is making them today. I may casually drop by or, if she wants to prevent scone-stalking, she can drop one or two at my door (subtle hint).

Speaking of generous friends, a particularly sweet one gave me her farm share (this is not the first time). It is from Siena Farms which means that everything in the box is gorgeous and the pickup is at Sofra Bakery.  Yes, I know, my day is not difficult. I am (only a little) glad is not any closer or I might have a problem – yeah, like getting any of my clothes to fit.  Maybe it is my food choices…my favorite was the dukka donut (cardamom and sugar and other gorgeous-ness) but there weren’t any and I quickly scanned the bakery case for a replacement. When my eyes fell on the persian spiced donut,  I bought one and ate it alone in my car. No sharing. I smiled the whole way home (sugar and halvah all over the place).  My super sweet, super nice foodie friend also sent the email that comes with the farm share. While I am happy with my farm share, I am thrilled with hers. Pretty, pretty produce and Ana Sortun‘s recipes?

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Ana’s Parsnip Skordalia

So, skordalia is a traditional potato and garlic sauce that is served with just about anything in Greece.  As is always in Greek dishes, it’s all about the garlic.   It doesn’t always have nuts.  This is our twist when parsnips and celery root are in season and garlic is finished curing in the fall.  We serve this with halibut braised in cinnamon & milk.

Makes 4 cups

6 pounds parsnips

6 baking potatoes

¾ cup heavy cream

1-cup parsnip cooking liquid

3 T chopped garlic

¼ cup lemon juice

2 cups extra virgin olive oil

at least a quarter cup of salt

Peel the parsnips and cut into chunks.  Place in pan and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and simmer about 18 minutes until tender.  Drain (reserve a cup of liquid) and puree while it’s still hot in a food processor with the heavy cream.  Set aside.  Meanwhile, peel the baking potatoes and cut in 4.  Place in a small saucepot with enough water to cover, 1 T salt and bring to a boil.  Simmer for about 18 minutes until tender and drain.  Mash thru a ricer or food mill and mix into the celery root.  Heat garlic in olive oil with reserved liquid from parsnips.

Blend until completely smooth. Mix everything together.

Ana’s Cabbage Confit

We serve this with cod at the restaurant

2 small heads of green cabbage, quartered, cored & washed

remove outer ugly leaves.

1 cups extra virgin olive oil

2 T butter

1 cups white wine

½ tsp. sugar

salt & pepper

¼ cup slivered garlic or garlic flowers

¼  cup finely chopped anchovies

Cut each quarter in half and break into big“lamelles”(half moons)

Toss with the above and well season.  Cover with foil and braise at 300-325 for 1 ½ hours.

Squeeze a bit of lemon and stir in 4 cups cooked *fresh shell beans & plenty of chopped parsley

*Late summer and fall is the season for fresh shell beans

Disclaimer – I do not know if these recipes are in the book shown above.

So what about the social media? Where does that fit in this food fest? I was meeting Pragmatic Mom for a bite (I had a lovely quinoa soup) who, as I sat down said, “I have a few ideas for your blog.” I was unprepared (as in no paper and pencil) but she (ever resourceful) dug out a pen and I proceeded to write on a napkin (we were upstairs at L’Aroma) for over an hour. It was a really appreciated and seriously impressive analysis, discussion and basically genius brain download from the inimitable Pragmatic Mom.  I was able to give her some tech-y tips. I copied the napkin info on to real paper when I got home but not before meeting a new friend at Newton Center’s Pie. I had a lovely time with my friend and another mom friend (and terrific and sweet as pie real estate agent) but did not like the food.  A place called Pie should have really good pie. Note: I did not have the apple pie and the panini sandwich looked great but the filling of our turkey, cheddar and broccoli pie was too diced and had the consistency of baby food. Good if you have a baby. More notes went on the napkin “wrong direction” and “no chunks”. No spoiler alert – you will have to read about these later when I somehow tie them in to something in a clever way.

Are you counting? Did I eat at three separate places and were two of them for lunch? Look, something shiny! Oh, it’s gone. Go click on the books – it will take you to Amazon.
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