Carrot Surprise


When the temperature hit 90 degrees here in DC last week, it was clear that time for spring planting was upon us.  Mercifully, this week has brought some slightly cooler weather, but it seems that the time of hard frost has passed, and I am itching for some home-grown arugula.  With lots of “help” from my two-year-old, I began pulling up the weeds from our two raised-bed gardens and in addition to foot-deep dandelion roots, we unearthed-surprise!-some carrots.  Ah yes, I do seem to remember planting those at some point last year.


Some of the carrots were clearly past their prime, but a handful were still surprisingly orange and crunchy.   I knew that these semi-miraculous winter survivors deserved some special treatment, so I decided to make a carrot-cashew salad that I had enjoyed at book club a few weeks before.  I even went so far as to (gasp) purchase some ingredients specifically for the recipe.  Served over curried chickpeas and rice, this little salad was the perfect inauguration to a summer of homegrown produce.


Shredded Carrot and Cashew Nut Salad

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In Which I Succumb to Taco Tuesday

When I first moved to DC, I had the pleasure of living with not one but two lovely women who came from families with eight children.  As a member of a modest two-child family, I was endlessly fascinated by their stories of growing up.  One story that entered our household lore and has stuck with me going on six years later is the tale of the day that Rachel, who was near the end of her large family train, called her house on a Tuesday and talked to her mom.  It came out that her mom, dad and brother, the only ones remaining at home, were having fish for dinner.  Indignantly, Rachel exclaimed, “But Mom, it’s Taco Tuesday!”  To which her mom replied something like, “You think that we still eat tacos every week now that it’s just the three of us?”  It seems that Taco Tuesday was more a product of pragmatism than a reflection of her mother’s love of Tex-Mex cuisine.

For me, the food growing up was considerably less regimented. Sure, there were some favorite family dishes, but the level of predictability was considerably less pronounced.  My mother would plan the week’s menu over the weekend, and each of us would have a say.  New dishes were welcomed, particularly if the person suggesting it was also willing to cook it.  After I flew the coop, I met a man whose tastes are as varied as mine, and together we embarked on many culinary adventures (think homemade gyros, doro wat, and pesto pizza). It seemed that Taco Tuesday, at least for me, was not to be.

But…I now find myself the parent of two kids two and under, one of whom eats every three hours around the clock, and the other who is disinclined to entertain himself for hours while I practice Advanced Menu Planning and Execution.  That’s right.  I have embraced not only Taco Tuesday, but Pasta Monday as well.  But, I promise you this, ESers:  There will never be a Turkey Surprise Thursday.  I hope.

Oh yes, a recipe…so, when I am feeling particular adventurous  and my mini-sous chef is willing, Taco Tuesday can become Enchilada Tuesday.  It’s not too much more work, but looks considerably more impressive.

Easy Tuesday Enchiladas

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How to Get Drunk While Feeding Your Kids

If you’re a long-time reader, you know I’m quick to tell everyone what to do all the time, even when I have no leg to stand on. I like to pretend I live in a perfect world, where kids eat whatever we want them to and won’t ask for a chicken nugget if we don’t offer it to them.

That’s where Brett Cohen comes in. Author of the wildly successful Stuff Every Dad Should Know, Brett has created a beautiful guide instructing parents on exactly what to drink when their kid insists on buttered noodles or PB&J for dinner. I’m just upset I didn’t think of it myself.

Chicken Nuggets & a Martini: Fried foods typically soften the taste and take the bite out of cocktails with high levels of alcohol.  So, class up those chicken nuggets (or fish sticks) with a dirty martini or a vodka gimlet.

Macaroni and Cheese & Champagne: Generally speaking, pasta takes on the flavor of the sauce.  In this case, it’s a cheese-based sauce.  And, cheese is a natural pairing with white and sparkling wines.  Pop the bubbly and you’re good-to-go.

Read the rest, and check out the infographic here.


Top 10 Foods Only a Baby Could Love

Around here, we love top 10 lists.  I particularly enjoyed Jessica’s Top Ten Things I Ate in College That I’ll Never Eat Again.  It brought back some fond memories and the taste of stomach acid.  I might also add the Ramen sandwich and instant apple cider made with dorm room sink water.  But it’s been ten years since I entered that freshman dorm, and life as a parent has taken me to some new culinary lows.  So, here we go…the top 10 foods only a baby (or maybe a toddler) could love:

10. Single-Grain Cereal












As a child, my mom tried to sell me on the virtues of a strange paste called Cocoa Wheats, sometimes singing the jingle as she stirred the gluey concoction on the stove.   Even at the tender age of 8, I knew that stuff was nasty.  And yet, we are told to give it to babies as their first food because it’s “highly digestible”  and has a “smooth texture.” I think we’ve only succeeded this long because they can’t talk back.  Just a warning, parents, they get over it pretty quickly and you’ll be stuck with a box of the stuff for months or years to come.

9.  Pureed Vegetables












All the texture of rice cereal, plus the power to stain any and all surfaces they touch — liquified veggies are truly abhorrent.  Since we waited until Elijah was six months old to give him solid foods, the mushy green paste period was mercifully short.  We never tried the jarred meat, so I can only imagine the horror.  And the smell.

I have been to a few restaurants lately where super-smooth vegetable mush was passed off as “sauce.”  Nope.  I’m on to you.  Gerber has a stake in this somewhere.

8. Food Off the Floor

Now, before you go and call me a snob, know that I am not talking about the 5-second rule, or even the 30-second rule.  I am talking about days-old, dried up, stuck-to-the-floor old food.  My son was never big on putting foreign objects into his mouth, but if it is, or once was, food — look out.  On the upside, I will say that my sweeping standards are dramatically higher as a result.

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Jell-O Goes Naughty

Jell-O has a new product – and apparently it’s R-rated. Jell-O Temptations. As Kraft (who own Jell-O) describes on their website, “Enjoy the naughty taste of new TEMPTATIONS by JELL-O with 150 well-behaved calories or less.” Damn! This Jell-O is so naughty it needs a spanking.

But how can Jell-O protect the innocence of children but still market their saucy, naughty little product to adults? Kraft’s new marketing tool, a vending machine that dispenses product samples to adults only, addresses this issue. Free Jell-O Temptations for adults ONLY!!!

So how does the machine differentiate between children and adults? They use a simultaneously creepy and cool feature developed by Kraft and Intel that uses a facial recognition sensor on the machine to determine the age of the user. A camera scans your face and measures the distance between your facial features to determine age.

I don’t have anything against children — in fact sometimes I even like them — but why should they always get the free cookie? I think Jell-O’s new marketing campaign is brilliant, and I’ll tell you why. I previously had absolutely no interest whatsoever in trying a Jell-O Temptations pudding mousse — in fact I detest Jell-O in every form (the food wiggles and MOVES ON ITS OWN – so wrong) — but here I am talking about it, extolling the virtues of a vending machine that yells at children. A vending machine that yells at children?! YES! Well it doesn’t exactly yell, but it beeps loudly and flashes this screen:

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Rice Krispie Squares

Time to celebrate back-to-school season with some kid-friendly, no-bake goodness. But since we couldn’t keep our busy hands alone with the just the classic Rice Krispie treats, we threw a few extra add-ins for a scaled-up version.

Don’t worry  — we didn’t get too complicated. What we did do was add was some peanut butter and chocolate, plus some bananas to cut through the richness, and because three is never a crowd when it comes to those flavors.

So yeah, sit back, have a few bites, and go ahead — wipe your mouth on your sleeve.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Rice Krispie Squares

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