Thursday, March 29, 2007

Book Review: Mostly True by Molly O'Neill

I bought this book a few months ago. The subtitle caught my eye: A Memoir of Family, Food and Baseball. I thought the involvement of baseball in the subject might intrigue my husband enough to actually get him to read a food book. I started reading it on a recent trip to Mexico. I really enjoyed it! As the mother of two boys, I could relate to the author's life with 5 younger brothers. It is as much about baseball as about food. It is a nice quick read, very funny and well written. Pick it up, I am sure you'll enjoy it.

Little Shrimpies

So I made the shrimp with arugula and couscous for dinner last night. I was not sure how well the shrimp would go over with The Boogie, but I figured I'd give it a shot. He loves to watch the Signing Time videos and he recently learned the sign for Shrimp on the "Zoo Train" episode. I had planned to capitalize on that to get him to eat the shrimp. I peeled two shrimp for him and he ate them right up! I peeled two more, told him to eat his "little shrimpies" and he ate another one right up, declaring "Little SHRIMPIES!!" several times as he ate it. When he took a bite out of his fourth shrimp he wrinkled up his nose and said "don't like it" and that was that. No more shrimp for him, he must have sensed my delight in his eating them, and in true two-year old fashion, decided to do things his way. He moved on to the couscous, which he loved. Then we went out for strawberry ice cream cones.

Monday, March 26, 2007


Today the Boogie has been an unbelievably fussy eater. He is showing his almost-two year old personality for sure! So, when I went to make this asparagus pasta I was not optimistic that he'd be eating it and was expecting to be making him a bowl of cereal instead. That is the alternative that I offer he truly doesn't like his dinner but has given it a genuine try. Anyway, he loved the pasta and picked out all of the asparagus first! Yay! The recipe I used was from Epicurious, it was quite tasty. Next time I think I will add a few shavings of lemon zest to brighten it up a bit.

Asparagus Pasta

4 oz sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut on a long diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 lb orechiette or other small pasta
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 1/2 oz) plus additional for serving
Zest of 1 lemon

Cook bacon in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 6 minutes. Transfer bacon with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from skillet, then add oil and onion to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden, about 4 minutes.
Add asparagus and sauté, stirring, until crisp-tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
While onion is cooking, cook pasta in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water and drain pasta in a colander.
Return pasta to pot along with asparagus mixture, 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, and cheese. Add remaining 1/2 cup cooking water to skillet and deglaze by boiling, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 1 minute. Add to pasta and toss over moderately low heat until combined well, about 30 seconds. Mix in bacon, serve with additional cheese and lemon zest sprinkled on top.

Gourmet, May 2002

Before dinner I also made a nice loaf of banana bread to use up all of the bananas that I had bought for last weeks banana phase, which was short lived. It turned out nicely and we enjoyed a small slice for dessert.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Farmer's Market and our weekly menu

This morning I did my favorite weekly errand, shopping the farmer's market. I sent the Boogie and his dad off to have breakfast with some cousins who were in town, and I took our younger son to the farmer's market. I set two personal records at the market today. The first was my arrival time, I got there at 8:30. Most Sunday's I don't make it there until after 11. What a difference it makes to arrive early! All of the vendors were in cheery moods, eager to talk about all of their produce. And the produce was especially lovely, not wilted as it becomes by late afternoon. My other record was the amount of money I spent. Today I walked in with a twenty dollar bill and vowed to leave when I had spent it all. You can get quite a lot for $20! Here's what we went home with: a bag of baby chard, a big bunch of golden beets with the greens still on - a two-fer!, a sweet little bunch of baby carrots, two bunches of arugula, a bag of fingerling potatoes, some crisp, juicy pink lady apples, a gorgeous basket of strawberries - the Boogie's favorite fruit at the moment, a bag of oyster mushrooms - a special treat for me since no one else in the house will touch mushrooms, a bunch of skinny asparagus - the Boogie's favorite new veggie and seven baby artichokes. This will feed us well for the week!

After I return from the market with our load of fresh produce, I like to plan our meals for the week. Here is what we'll be having:

Sunday - Dinner out in the City!
Monday - Pasta with asparagus and Canadian bacon(it will just be the Boogie and me for dinner and he is always a fan of noodles!)
Tuesday - Hamburgers made from the Grass-Fed beef I bought at last week's market, sweet potato fries and a salad
(the Boogie and his dad will be on their own, I am taking the baby out for dinner and a movie with a friend)
Wednesday - Arugula shrimp and couscous
THursday - Chicken breast cooked in tomato sauce with chard and polenta. This is one of my favorite quick dinners. Here's a rough recipe:

1 shallot, chopped
1 bunch chard, washed and rough chopped
2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut in half
1 jar of tomato sauce

Saute the shallot in olive oil, add the chard, on top of the chard place the raw chicken and then pour the tomato sauce over all. Cook on med/high heat until chicken is done. Spoon over polenta. It takes less than 15 minutes and is so good!

Friday - Boneless pork chops, sauteed baby artichokes, sauteed cubes of butternut squash
Sauturday - Steak night! Niman Ranch Rib Eye steak, covered in salt and pepper and seared to medium rare, 8 minutes per side in a really hot grill pan, roasted beets with balsamic vinegar, garlic and thyme, sauteed beet greens and roasted potatoes

Finally, I am going to make a nice cream of brocolli soup with the brocolli we never managed to eat from the market last week. I'll freeze it to eat on a chilly night.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Wine Country Fare

Today we took the Boogie and his brother on a picnic in the Napa Valley to celebrate his grandmother's 64th birthday. We made the usual stop at the Oakville Grocery to stock up on goodies and then headed to the Louis Martini winery for a tasting and a picnic. We tried several delicious wines, and my father bought an entire case of one. After the tasting we all sat outside and dug into the goods we had gotten at Oakville. I gave the Boogie a bunch of new treats to try. I started him off with a taste of salami which he loved. Then on to the cheese. I have an obsession with great cheese and I am hoping to pass it onto my boys. His first taste was a small bit of St Agur to which he replied, "don't like it!". Then I tried him on a taste of Brie de Meau, he gave this one more consideration but clearly wasn't wild about the somewhat pungent flavor. The next cheese was a small slice of Comte half of which he ate and half of which he spit out. Finally I gave him an aged Farm Gouda which is sweet and caramelly. He loved it! His lunch mainly consisted of the gouda, salami, sweet baguette from Acme bakery and an apple. Sounds good to me! For dessert I gave him a violet scented marshmallow stick and some chocolate covered raisins. Those were clearly the hits. More candy! More candy! He declared until it was all gone.

Feeding our Boy

Boogie is our nickname for our elder son. He is quite a boy. He is also known in our family as a "perpetual motion machine" because he is always on the go. Literally. He moves all over the place in his sleep, and when he gets sleepier he gets more active! This is why he has always been categorized as underweight and a "failure to thrive" case by his doctors. He was a hefty 8 lbs 4 oz at birth, but has tracked in the 3rd percentile for weight for most of his life. He is about to turn two. My task is to raise a kid with a broad and sophisticated palate and to keep trying to put weight on the boogie! I am dedicating this blog to my adventures in feeding him. We have another son who is only 4 months old at the moment. We will start feeding him food other than breast milk soon, so my comments on his eating habits will appear here too.

I am what many would call food-obsessed. I love food, all kinds, and have very high standards for the types of foods I will feed my family. I insist that I develop children with broad palates. It will make their lives better in so many ways! This is at times a battle because my husband does not hold the same food standards as I do, although I am working on him! He is more of a food-from-a-box type of guy, thanks to his mother who fed him a steady diet of processed foods when he was growing up. After 3 years of marriage to me he is starting to appreciate my way of eating, and reluctantly agrees that we should instill this in our kids. So here's to the good life...good food, good fun!