Whole Foods

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

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!

Really Easy Last Minute Gifts (that don’t look like it) – Day 12 and best cookies on the planet

You are stuck for some last minute gifts and your present cabinet is looking pretty bare. What do you do? Bake. Really there are some really nice simple (and quick) recipes. Grab some sweet paper or containers at Target, The Paper Source, Christmas Tree Shops…where ever you can find it.

I head over to Martha Stewart or to Smitten Kitchen or The Whisk Kid for fail-proof recipes. I also like to give tea with my cookies – you can keep it casual but nice, too.

Recently I got distracted and instead of writing made-over my linen closet the Martha way and put together a car caddy – yes, a car caddy. Then in a very un-Martha-like way, the water I had in my caddy leaked all over my carefully prepared perfect tote. Yes, I dried it all out and re-assembled it and it is a little less precious now. Sort of like me.

Here are some of my favorites from Martha, and yes, if it is okay to mention this… she follows me on Twitter! Yes, she does! I was so thrilled when I found out (I told only about sixty million people but was afraid that if I wrote about it she may unfollow me and what then? Sigh, I will have a Martha-less Twitter-stream) and she tweets herself in case you don’t easy candy recipes and stocking stuffers from Martha Stewart on capability mom think so – go here…@MarthaStewart on Twitter. Why does Martha Stewart care what I tweet? Maybe she doesn’t but I wrote about The Whisk Kid who she had on her Color Show last year (of course, Martha probably found her first but I wrote about her first – whee!) Martha should stay tuned for my sister’s handmade wrapping paper – Yes, where is that paper, K?

Candy Recipes from Martha Stewart

Here are paper cones with gingerbread caramels (For an unMartha-like cheat: you can make the cones – any paper will do – and put in store bought sweets). Honestly, none of the recipes are hard. Peppermint bark is a three ingredient sweet that even the busiest mom or most nervous baker (no baking – just melting and cooling required!)

We all know a real-life Martha – you know, the one who is always put together and who hosts a cookie swap effortlessly while also chairing the PTO fundraiser and bakes dreamy home-made confections that make you weep, or, at the very least, not want to share what she bakes? No? You always share? That’s nice…Well, we all have our Martha moments but some have it more than others.

A friend, who we will call KB (she was a ballet dancer and is lovely, graceful, willow-y and she bakes like a dream) gave me this recipe after the following exchange was repeated to her (laughingly, by me).

Me to then 7 year old daughter, “Honey, Let’s go bake cookies together because your mom makes the best cookies on the planet”

7 year old daughter to me, having just recently tasted the cookies from the recipe below, said quite seriously, “No, Mom, KB makes the best cookies on the planet.”

Here you go – You will thank me later!

KB’s Chocolate Cinnamon Cookies heretofore known as The Best Cookies on the Planet

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz, bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
  • 2 tbsp. (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • powdered sugar
Photo Credit - David Lebovitz
Photo Credit - David Lebovitz

Stir chocolate and butter in top of double boiler over barely simmering water until melted and smooth (you can also put in glass microwave safe bowl and start with one minute in the microwave – increase time by 30 seconds intervals until melted). Remove from over water, cool to lukewarm.

Stir flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt into medium bowl. Beat eggs, 1 1/2 cups sugar and vanilla in large bowl until pale and thick, about 8 minutes. (Note: Start beating eggs AFTER chocolate is melted because it takes about 16-20 minutes for chocolate to cool to lukewarm). Fold in melted chocolate. Mix in dry ingredients in two additions.

Chill dough until firm enough to scoop, about one hour. Can be made one day ahead. cover, chill.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two large baking sheets. Shape dough by scant 2 tablespoonfuls into 1 1/2 inch balls. Roll in powdered sugar and place on prepared sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until tops crack and cookies are just firm to the touch, about 12 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool. Makes about 30 cookies.

I have loved working with Pragmatic Mom on these posts – go see her last minute gift ideas here. Her make your own labels are as beautiful and easy to do as promised! Incredible! She is always fun and has great ideas, in fact, it was her idea to do this together which is really a Christmas present to me because she has a ton of daily readers and she shared my stuff with them – so nice – in real life and in virtual world. Thank, Pragmatic Mom – I look forward to more co-posting (like co-hosting but better) with you again soon!

The 12 Days of Shopping

I will be posting The 12 Days of Shopping jointly with Pragmatic 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 5: Tutors/Teachers

Dec 6: High Tech/Low Tech

Dec 7: Hostess/Gifts That Give Back

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

Dec 9: Husband, 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


Last Minute Gifts – Lest Panic Set in – Day 11

Has it happened to you? You forgot about the hostess gift and it is T minus 30 minutes (or whatever countdown/military thing goes here – you know what I mean). Anyway, you are late and frazzled and uninspired and have only time to go to the nearest supermarket. Not to worry!

Almost any supermarket will do – I went to Whole Foods (super score), Roche Brothers and Trader Joe’s – They have gift things year round anyway but even more now. Flowers, plants, greenery, a given. How about a cinnamon broom? The one pictured is from Trader Joe’s but Whole Foods has them, too. You can decorate it on the fly if you have ribbon and an ornament in your car (don’t laugh, sometimes I do).

There were packages of candy (chocolate covered graham crackers, nonpareils – on sale) in Whole Foods that would be great poured into a mug from the kitchen section (you can do this while you are running down the aisle to the checkout, I tried). Add to it package of drinkable chocolate and marshmallows or some divine coffee or tea. Great housewares in Whole Foods in general and also at Roche Brothers which has a nice Stonewall Kitchen section (I almost bought myself a brightly colored bowl, some sweet wooden spoons and pretty dishcloths but then I calmed down and didn’t. Sometimes, I do buy myself gifts like my new Smartwool socks. Sometimes I use my secret cache of gifts for last minute gifts…shhh).

Anyway, it’s also pretty easy to put together a gift basket at any of these markets – they even have baskets. Something edible is always a welcome gift. What to choose? A case of clementines, some pomegranates, some nice cheese and bread, a jug of cider (or wine if your store carries it) and some mulling spices (either sold pre-packaged or head over to the bulk section and mix your own). Don’t forget the health and beauty aisle and my local store even has toys (my standby gift for kids is Melissa and Doug’s triangle crayons and a notepad) and they have CDs and plants (great rosemary trees)

Here are some tips from the Whole Foods blog on greening your holidays.

  • 6 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 small whole nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup whole cloves
  • 1/2 cup whole allspice
  • Grated peel of one whole orange

Chip the cinnamon, nutmeg, and all spice with a hammer. Place with other ingredients in a storage container. To use, place two tablespoons of mixture in a small muslin bag and add to four cups of beverage. Simmer. This recipe makes one and one half cups of mulling spice.

Variations

Mulling Spice with Cardamom

This is a slightly different mulling spices recipe, with the addition of cardamom seeds. The cardamom adds a warm, faintly citrus taste to the mulled beverage.capability mom finds mulling spices on lovetoknow

  • 1 tablespoon cardamom pods, slightly crushed
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice
  • 1 teaspoon orange rind
  • 12 whole cinnamon sticks

Combine first four ingredients. Put two teaspoons of the mixture into a small muslin bag and tie two or three cinnamon sticks to the top. Simmer in four cups of beverage. This makes a beautiful gift. Go to Pragmatic Mom’s site to see what great gifts she found at the gourmet market. She has exceptional taste and I am so looking forward to seeing what goodies she comes up with.

The 12 Days of Shopping

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 5: Tutors/Teachers

Dec 6: High Tech/Low Tech

Dec 7: Hostess/Gifts That Give Back

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

Dec 9: Husband, 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


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