Get outside, Family!

Get outside, Family!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Classic Chef Zi moment

I just want to be clear at the start of this post that earlier in the day we stopped at Burger King, so I’m not Super Cook-With-Your-Kids-For-Nutritious-Meals-Every-Single-Time Mom. I’m not sure I can even take credit for what happened here: I decided to make kabobs on the grill, and asked the Chef to chop some vegetables. Baby Zi saw that his brother was up to something interesting, and was stretching to grab whatever he could get his hands on from up on the counter. So I got him a step stool and set him up with a cutting board, some zucchini pieces and a bunch of baby-safe kitchen tools – plastic silverware, his fork, a masher. And he got to work! He was so proud of how he mutilated the zucchini. He’d step down for a while and do something else, and then come right back to his project. Everyone was busy in the kitchen, and for dinner we had wonderful kabobs of red pepper, zucchini, onions and red cabbage.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Petroleum ice cream

Interesting New York Times article about how oil is such a part of our lives that we actually eat it. See the graphic for a quick look at some startling examples, including vanilla flavoring in ice cream. Blechhhhhhck.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Being touched by a pea

We harvested 11 pea pods from our teensy, covert front-yard garden (covert because the homeowner’s association says no front-yard veggie gardens). We steamed them along with some sugar snaps that we got in our CSA farm share. The peas were, truly, delicious. I don’t much like peas usually, but these contained only everything that is good about peas. There were so many flavors in there – sweetness, grassiness, something like damp, mossy woods. Anyway, it was just 11 pods, which gave us maybe 35 peas total. That’s after weeks of sun, water and encouragement from the Little Zi’s and myself. To produce as many peas as there are in just one bag of frozen peas would have required planting over most of our front yard.

The Chef and I loved those peas, like they were our babies -- that we ate, so not exactly. But we were fascinated to see what the little seeds produced that we dropped into the dirt on a cold and rainy day. We don’t love the peas we microwave out of a frozen bag. We definitely don’t like the ones that come in a can – we never eat those. When we buy a bag of bland peas and eat half of them, I often forget about the rest and they end up freezer-burned and headed for the trash. We don’t chase down every little one that rolls under the kitchen cart, like we did with our peas.

There’s something wrong with this, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Or at least I can’t figure out what to do to fix it. We will continue to buy frozen peas in the winter, because they are fast and nutritious. I will not be planting a field of peas and canning them myself. But maybe little changes around the edges are better than nothing. This year, the Chef grew a few peas. Baby Chef got to touch a pea pod. Maybe we will be more appreciative of the frozen bag.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pasta+Cheese+Black Pepper = Wonderful

We’ve been eating pasta with Pecorino Romano cheese and olive oil for years. The Zi Family can whip it up faster than we can find the scissors to cut open the cheese packet from a mac-n-cheez-in-a-cardboard-box. We’ve loved it as lunch, side dish and, very often, main course for dinner. I didn’t think it could be improved upon, until I read about a recipe for bucatini cacio e pepe in my local paper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. It’s from
"The Glorious Pasta of Italy" by Domenica Marchetti (Chronicle, 2011). And then I tried it. Wow. The Chef will be eating it in his lunch today at camp.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Early Summer's Best Dishes

are the ones you don’t have to cook. And I’m not talking about take out, or going to someone else’s house for dinner. Just slice and season. Your kids can help with the picking, washing and assembly.

1.) Freshly picked, raw vegetables (like peas, broccoli, radishes and zucchini)
2.) Sliced watermelon
3.) Corn on the cob (does boiling water really count as cooking?)
4.) Strawberries and sugar
5.) Bowl of blueberries
6.) Organic grapes (great prices on US-grown right now)
7.) Lettuce salad with any of the leftovers from above