Archive for November, 2009

healthy cranberry sauce that kids will eat

November 27th, 2009

Homemade cranberry sauce without that much sugar. Not what I would have guessed would be Carter’s favorite Thanksgiving offering, but he served himself up spoonful after spoonful. Pretty surprising considering the tartness and his love affair with salty meats, including smoked turkey breast from Burger’s Smokehouse. (I know it’s not hard to make a turkey, but buying boneless, sliced turkey is easier yet.) My favorite leftovers: turkey and cranberry sauce sandwiches.

Cranberry-Orange Sauce

12.5-ounce bag of cranberries
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
3 strips of orange peel
3 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries pop and mixture thickens to desired consistency. (While the original recipe says 20 minutes, I do it for about an hour.)

Remove the cinnamon stick and cloves (if you can find them!). Transfer sauce to a bowl. Cool to room temperature (the sauce will set) and serve. You can also make it in advance and refrigerate for up to three days prior to serving.

Adapted from Simple Cranberry-Citrus Relish, Health magazine, November 2007

buttered-up beer bread and boys in the kitchen

November 16th, 2009

To make Trader Joe’s beer bread, add a bottle of beer to the mix and pour melted butter over the top. Lucky for us, Jeff read it as 1/4 lb (full stick) of butter, instead of  1/4 cup of butter (half of a stick). While it’s exceedingly unusual for Jeff to misread anything, the bread tasted twice as nice, with a delicious crisp crust. We had the bread fresh the other day and the leftover toasted (spread with yet more butter) today.

Yesterday, Carter helped me make breakfast. I was so proud when he got out the vanilla and said we should add it to the pancakes. Of course, he also wanted to smell it! Osmosis at work: vanilla isn’t in our current favorite pancake recipe, but he’s heard me talk about/adding it to other pancake recipes. (I put in 1 teaspoon.)

When we didn’t have enough blueberries to make all blueberry pancakes, Carter said we should make strawberry pancakes. (Fold diced strawberries into the batter before ladling onto griddle. Coating the strawberries with batter helps prevent them from getting overly browned. Don’t worry, though, if the fruit gets pretty dark brown; it doesn’t taste burned. Note: It works better to sprinkle the blueberries on top, rather than mixing them with the batter.)

Just like Jeff (albeit unintentionally) made a good call on the butter, Carter made the right call on the vanilla and the strawberries. And I got to enjoy the results. I wonder what the boys will cook up next….

even if you don’t have kids, read hungry monkey, a funny book from a foodie dad

November 9th, 2009

I read Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father’s Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater after my friend Amy raved about it in person. On her blog, Cooking with Amy, she calls Hungry Monkey “the funniest book I’ve read all year….I literally couldn’t put it down.” And she doesn’t even have kids. She does know cooking, though, and she likes the recipes: “I’ve recommended [Hungry Monkey] to just about everyone I know who has little ones,” she says. “I don’t dare lend anyone my copy because there are too many recipes I have bookmarked to try.”

Reading the acknowledgments (what can I say—I’m a book editor) further affirmed that it’s a small world. My friends Anita and Cameron are friends with the author, Matthew Amster-Burton, and tested some of the recipes. Check out what they have to say on their blog Married with Dinner. Amster-Burton writes a blog called Roots and Grubs.

The stories about the author and his daughter are funny and touching. Most of the book’s recipes, though, are beyond my cooking (vs. baking) skill level. Some of the simpler recipes that I’d like to try are Crunchy Cheese Wafers (I can handle baking cheese, nuts, and herbs for 5 minutes at 400˚F) and Mini Fritattas made in nonstick muffin pans. The author’s favorite veggie is Brussels sprouts, so I’m tempted to follow his surprising recommendations to brown and braise frozen (!) ones.

If you’re a foodie, you’ll enjoy Amster-Burton’s insider view of the world of food. If you’re a new parent, Hungry Monkey will give you a realistic view of what to expect, including your lack of control over what your child chooses to eat. I also recommend this book to anyone, though, who just wants a laugh. And who couldn’t use that these days?

project runway: easy-to-make costume for a kid who loves airplanes

November 1st, 2009

run smallSew a black jack o’ lantern face on an orange T-shirt and pair it with orange sweatpants. That’s my idea of how much effort should go into making a costume. And it matched perfectly what Carter wanted the last two Halloweens.

When Carter said he wanted to be a prince or a knight for Halloween this year, I told him they both sounded complicated to make. His solution: “Tell me what you can make, and then I’ll tell you what I’ll be.”

Auntie Stacey is famous for her creativity when it comes to making costumes (Carter wore her son’s outgrown Max from the Wild Things costume one year), so she came over to brainstorm with us. She gets credit for this year’s winner: What better than an airport for the boy who loves planes? And what could be easier to make? Jeff taped the runway markings precisely on a black T-shirt and sweatpants. (Thank you, Honey!) For added security, I tacked down the tape with thread and sewed on a plush plane. Done!

Carter’s a happy boy posing with an added biplane in the photo, but earlier in the evening there was doubt he would go trick or treating and tears when he realized he could not join his neighbor friends. He started coughing Thursday and running a fever last night, and both were worse today. Around 6 pm, the poor lil guy said: “I’m too sick to go trick or treating. I’ll go tomorrow instead.”

Fortunately, the ibuprofen kicked in and he perked up just enough to walk up and down our block with me. I know it’s not a good thing to take a child with a fever out, but on Halloween, it seems far worse to keep a child home. He washed and sanitized his hands before we went, and stood back, didn’t touch anything, and had me put the candy in his bag. But at least he got to say “trick or treat” and “thank you” for both the candy and the compliments on his clever, custom-made costume.