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Entries in cooking (10)

Friday
Feb232018

Photo 54/365

Tuesday
Mar142017

10 of our favorite spring recipes 

We like to try and eat pseudo-seasonally. When fall rolls around I crave warm, savory things, the winter brings a longing for the richest foods I can get, and in the summer it's all grilling, all the time. The spring, for us, tends to be about lightening things up—fresh citrus flavors and bright spring colors. All within reason, of course. We actually use our grill year round, and the crockpot, too, because it is possible to make a good, summery meal that will be ready for you when you get home from the lake, or the zoo, or wherever, and I rely on my crockpot at least once a week year-round also.

I am not the world's most inventive cook. I know my way around a kitchen well, both with the tools and the ingredients, and when pressed I can assemble an edible meal from whatever's on hand, but coming up with unique recipes is not my thing. We are adventurous eaters, though, and I love to scour the web for interesting recipes and add them to my collection. But we also have several favorites to fall back on and as we cycle through the year I find that recipes correspond to specific seasons, meaning they are requested, or I make them, more often in "their" season. These, then, are some of our favorite go-to spring meals gathered from some of go-to recipe sites.

Artichoke Heart Frittata (NYT Cooking)
Frittatas can be made into just about anything, but I love making this one when the artichokes start arriving in spring. I've made it into a crustless quiche before, too, by adding spinach, a few more eggs, feta cheese, and baking it.

Grilled salmon and asparagus with garden dressing (from Better Homes and Gardens)
Delicious on the grill, or if you suddenly find it raining, can also be done in the oven, this recipe is exactly what it says. It's the asparagus that makes it springy, but also the green garden version of tartar sauce you make too go with it. This recipe can be made a lot lighter by using Greek yogurt instead of mayo, and I've often substituted dill for the tarragon. Delicious with a side of lemon pearled couscous.

French potato and green bean salad (From NYT Cooking)
This is a beautiful salad that really has nothing to do with spring except that it feels like spring to me, and sometimes I've made it with asparagus instead of green beans. It can be eating as a side dish or as a vegetarian meal (it makes an especially good picnic lunch), or even add bacon if you'd like. Yum.

Cabbage and kale slaw (side salad from allrecipes.com)
This colorful salad combines winter veggies (kale and cabbage) with a citrus dressing. I have made this recipe without the Maple syrup and balsamic vinegar before. I have also substituted lemon juice for the lime juice, or left out the carrots, or added sliced almonds. There are lots of fun things to be done with this recipe.

5 Ingredient Lemon Chicken with Asparagus skillet (from Pinch of Yum)
They had me at 5 ingredients, and again at skillet, which usually means only one pot to clean. The title ingredients speak for this dish. It's bright like spring should, and warm like you want it to be. I have paired this with oven roasted redskin potatoes.

Asparagus, egg, and bacon salad (from Skinny Taste)
More asparagus, I know. It's a spring staple here and Jon and I love it. Calvin doesn't, however, and I have made all of these recipes subbing beans for asparagus when necessary...still pretty delicious! This one makes a good side dish or a wonderful small dinner or lunch.

Crockpot corned beef (from Skinny Taste)
Because it wouldn't be St. Patrick's Day without corned beef, and because I love my crockpot. I often make this recipe without the parsnips. Even better, I'll make it as a soup, still in the crockpot.

Crockpot Caribbean pot-roast (Taste of Home)
There's nothing particularly springy about this recipe, but it's a great crockpot meal with a slightly lighter taste while still being warm and filling on a slightly colder spring day.

Spiralized Mediterranean beat and feta bake (side dish from Skinny Taste)
Beautiful spring colors make this warm, juicy, baked side dish the perfect accompaniment for a festive spring party. It's a thick, hearty dish, too, and really fills a plate with spring joy.

Summer vegetables with sausage skillet (me!)
This is pushing the boundaries of spring a bit, but the reason I include it here is that it's all the summer goodness we usually grill (bratwurst, sweet pepper, onion, or fill in the blank with your own favorites), sliced into bite sizes and sauteed inside on a rainy late-spring day. Perfect.

Friday
Nov142014

Viking bread

Our week was all about Vikings, and since our homeschool gathering was cancelled for the afternoon, we had some free time on our hands to spend in the kitchen baking like Vikings. Or maybe not exactly like Vikings; we didn't have to grind our own flour, and there was no raping or pillaging. But our Story of the World book suggested a recipe that looked suspiciously like any old bread recipe sans yeast, and while I'm not sure how that really brings us closer to the Vikings (again, no raping or pillaging, and where's my dragon boat? I want to speak to Thor!), it was a fun afternoon in the kitchen. Our very modern kitchen.

Oh, and did I mention that Calvin did this one all by himself? Truly all by himself. Of course it helped my sanity that the bread went into a cold oven. There's a first time for everything.

Oddly I have no after pictures, but without yeast the after looked a whole lot like the before.

Friday
Feb282014

Now we're cookin'

When Calvin was not yet two, he acquired a set of play cooking utensils, some wooden velcro food, and a kitchen hutch. These were prized possesions. He cut, he mixed, he cooked and stirred, he served. Tidily tucked into his make-believe world we found ourselves dining on such delicacies as strawberry eggplant shrimp stirfry, or kebobs of beef, onion, tomato, and kiwi. They were the meals of gods.

Somwhere along the way we hit on the idea of positioning his kitchen in view of our own. This set up provided me with the time I needed to produce meals. Even if they were simple and quick fare that nurtured more than they enticed, at least they didn't mix eggplant, strawberries, and shrimp. And it gave me afternoons in which to bake bread. Lovely, sunlit, lazy afternoons when the smell of warm bread filled the house and made it feel wholesome, country, and delicious.

In the past couple of years, though, I've found myself with less time for the kitchen. I'd always heard that as soon as Calvin was older I'd have more time for things like cooking, laundry, vacuuming and dusting, but this advice must have come from non-homeschooling families. Instead, as the kid has gotten older I acutally find that my time just keeps getting more precious, and the dust just keeps on settling.

And then I realized why.

Not long after the Calvin started walking we gave him his first chore—setting the table. He loved it, and the first time we sat down to eat and found our places set with his wooden play silverware, we loved it, too. With time we added more chores. At his current age of 7 (and 3/4 he won't hesitate to add), Calvin is responsible for setting and clearing the table, loading and unloading the dishwasher, collecting the dirty laundry, loading the washer, folding the dry clothes, dusting, feeding the pets, and keeping his room clean.

For some this will seem like a long list, for others I'm sure it falls short, but the truth is...all that help is costly. For me to do any one of those jobs takes just a few minutes. For me to watch the kid do any one of those jobs takes not only three or four times as long, but also shaves minutes off my life as I battle my inner voice of impatience. It's not that he can't do the jobs, it's not that he doesn't do them well, but, and here is the key to teaching any skill, dexterity comes with practice, and practice takes time. 

Thus the amount of free time I have is inversely proportional to the amount of assistance I receive.

This year we have added "help make dinner 3x per week" to Calvin's chore list, and while this is already my favorite job of his, it is also the most trying. I love watching him measure, cut, stir, season, and serve. It recalls for me visions of his toddler self producing stomach turning fare in his wooden kitchen. These are the adorable images I cling to in order to keep myself from interfering to move things along or providing unnecessary and injurious advice.

And even as I watch my free time disappearing in cloud of smoke or a puff of flour, this feels idyllic to me. It is the image I'd always had of homeschooling, this working side by side, creating, learning, enjoying each other.

This week, while making pizza together, he leaned over and repeatedly inhaled the smell of the proving yeast until I warned him against hyperventilation. "But it smells so good," he said. "It smells like the good old days when you used to make all our bread and bagels and english muffins. Let's do that again!" Immediately, images of warm bread with melty pats of butter on lazy, sunlit days flooded my mind. Yes, those were the good old days! Yes, why don't we get back to doing that?

Until I remembered that the reason I gave up baking our family's bread products was all that lost time. It's worth it. It really, really is.

Wednesday
Sep122012

Wednesday

First thing this morning, the Lego princess married the man in the bunny suit to the sound of pirate music and scales (i.e. piano practice).

Then we were visited by a woodpecker while we were math-ing at the kitchen table. I take it as a good sign for our deck that he didn't stay long.

There was some playing with the parts of speech, and some map crosswords. Calvin is determined to learn cursive right now, so I downloaded this wonderful practice book from Currclick while it was on sale and he enjoyed some writing and coloring in that. There was much reading, of course, and some jogging around the block to exercise both the dogs and ourselves.

And then it was lunchtime. (No, we didn't have muffins for lunch, but later on we did snack on these pumpkin muffins we made together on Sunday. It's pumpkin season again, and that makes Jon happy).

We were out for the early afternoon, playing at the park and whatnot, but back at home the wedding party continued while Iris kept a lookout for the kids arriving home at the bus stop in front of our house.

Then some science. Calvin and I watched some Bill Nye (not my favorite) and did some bone assembly activities. Building on the idea of adaptations, after learning about food webs and biomes, we are exploring the adaptations of movement in animals. This is us moving forward in BFSU (from B5/D4 to B6). The more I use it, the more I really love the way that book is laid out, the way it gives ideas for a path of study that will allow building on prior learning, but ultimately leaves the decisions up to those who are actually doing it. It's a wonderfully loose set of suggestions for those who don't necessarily want to go it alone, but don't want to be told how to learn, either.

This is the stuff we are both loving right now, and I think we'll spend some more time exploring the idea of adaptations in various species before we move on again. Today we were mainly looking at what moves us (aside from a good book, that is). Before going to bed tonight he asked me to give his "humerus, radius, ulna, carpals, and phalanges a squeeze."