Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Batman: It's the car, right? Chicks love the car.

I'm not one for staying home, so I'm always dragging the kids out to look for fun things to do. In this town, fun could be at any turn. I was driving around when the Baby yelled SUPERMAN! He is very into superheroes right now, so I didn't quite know what to expect.

Turns out some car/superhero enthusiasts were having an impromptu car show, just for themselves! We pulled over and the kids went nuts. There was a tricked out Superman car - gorgeous paint job - and a very realistic looking 1960's Batmobile. These things were in great condition.
The kids wanted pictures with the cars so I pulled out my camera, then the owner came over. He took my camera - I was thinking I wasn't allowed to take pictures, instead he insisted I go stand with the kids so he could take a bunch of pictures with ME in there too. Er. Ok. I don't know what I am going to do with these. Hang them on the wall and title them 'Family portrait in front of the Batmobile'?

Just as we were about to leave guess what drives up? Kitt from Knight Rider! I thought it was neat, but clearly showing a generational gap - the kids were like WHO CARES. I made the mistake of telling them that it was a talking car (er this one was just a replica) so they sat and waited for the damn thing to talk to them. No dice.It was pretty cool to run into these cars by chance. The only problem is now the Baby is INSISTENT that "Why do we have a van?? Why can't you drive a Batmobile Mommy!?!" Sorry kid, I don't think two car seats will fit in the Batmobile.

More classic superhero car pictures, here.

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Cooking with Kids and the Farmer's Market

I am very excited to say that I was one of the 24 people chosen to participate in Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 . Foodbuzz selected 24 bloggers from around the world and had them write about their unique meals - all within a 24 hour period.

My proposal revolved around something I truly believe in: buying local produce at farmer's markets and making healthy meals for your kids. The Kid has been asking for cooking lessons, but since losing my job, expensive classes just aren't in the cards right now. So I thought, why can't I do it myself?

The Kid has always taken great interest in watching me put together meals. At just 5 years old he already knows his way around the kitchen. We started off by planning a menu and came up with recipes that incorporated a lot of fruits and vegetables, then headed off to the Farmer's Market.

My favorite Farmer's Markets are the Santa Monica and the Hollywood. They are two of the biggest markets in the city. At the Hollywood you might run into celebrities, at the SaMo you might run into famous chefs - everyone in this town loves fresh produce, folks. Both markets are large and carry a diverse number of produce vendors. We started off with our 'menu' and went up and down the stalls looking for what we needed.The Kid has been my littlest sous chef on many of my meals, so I got him started washing and separating what was needed. I also tried to choose things that were easy prep and incorporated different cooking techniques for him to learn. Something in the oven, something on the stove, something on the grill. Perhaps a bit ambitious, but he was very excited to give it a go. Here's a rundown of our menu, and what we bought for those recipes specifically from the Farmer's Market:
Creme Fruit
strawberries, apples, grapes

Broccoli Salad
broccoli, red onion

Avocado + Grapefruit Salad
avocado, oro blanco grapefruit, ruby red grapefruit

Potato/Sweet Potato Fries
potatoes, sweet potatoes, lemon, garlic

Lettuce Wraps
garlic, ginger, carrots, green onions, mushrooms, lemon

Grilled Shrimp with homemade Tzatziki sauce
cucumber, dill, lemon, garlic

Cherry Buttermilk Ice Cream Sandwiches
Cherries, lemon, ginger

O.G. who was front and center for this meal, and in her O.G. ways - complained that "Food today is so fresh. We always used to cook it until it was completely limp and colorless. I like it like that." Ok...well that ain't happening at this meal, sorry. For the recipes I put together for this particular meal, most of the fruits and veggies are ever so slightly cooked, or not cooked at all. All the nutrients and it makes for a much fresher tasting meal. Unless you like lifeless broccoli - then head over to O.G.'s house.

I know we are lucky to live a place where food is colorful and available year round, but cooking seasonally can be a lot of fun wherever you live. The kids play a major part in my meal planning, because I like to make sure they are always trying different foods, testing flavors and seeing what they truly like to eat.Cooking doesn't have to be a chore if you pick simple, fresh recipes. Fresh produce was a major part of this meal but what the Kid enjoyed most (so he said), was spending time working in the kitchen with me.

You can find all the recipes here:
Creme Fruit
Broccoli Salad
Avocado + Grapefruit Salad
Potato/Sweet Potato Fries
Lettuce Wraps
Grilled Shrimp with homemade Tzatziki Sauce
Cherry Buttermilk Ice Cream Sandwiches

And see all the photos, here.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Ray: Listen... do you smell something?

I consider Not Quite Nigella a friend. Meaning I trust her. So when I saw a recipe for Chickpea Cookies on her site, well - I stopped in my tracks. What the?

Turns out they are from the Jessica Seinfeld book Deceptively Delicious, where she hides vegetables in recipes. Er - this does not sound good to me. Personally I believe that kids should learn about vegetables and learn to eat them in a healthy way, not by deceiving them. This is why I take the kids to the farmer's markets on a weekly basis - to get them interested in fresh produce. But, what do I know.Some would argue - well, as long as they are getting the vegetables right? Yeah but this recipe called for an ass-ton of butter and chocolate? Doesn't seem healthy to me. Still I thought it was so ridiculous I had to try it.

Was it weird? Yes, but if I didn't tell you there were chickpeas in there you'd have thought they were nuts. O.G. hated them and asked me "Can you make these without the chickpeas?" HA! Hello, that was the point!! So I shipped them off to a pregnant woman who LOVES chickpeas. She thought they were great - then again, she's pregnant and would probably eat anything that arrived on her doorstep.

I don't like being faked out, so I probably won't be making them again, but give 'em a go and let me know what you think. Maybe they'd work for April Fool's or something...

Chocolate Chip CHICKPEA Cookies recipe

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

You spin me right round baby, right round, like a record, baby

The Kid has NOT been feeling well, so he's been out of school a few days here and there. Since he was off with me I decided to take him and O.G. downtown to the Japanese American Museum. Due to budget cuts and a poorly updated website, no one told me that they are not open Monday. Tuesday...or Wednesday. Lovely. Stupid recession.

So we went to go get noodles. Man, was I in the mood for noodles. We stood there promptly at 11am when they opened. They didn't. We waited til 11:30. Still nothing. After another hour of waiting they said they probably weren't going to open AT ALL. That was it. I was near weepy after a hellish week.

So the Kid begged me to go the sushi train. "Please Mommy...PUHLLEEASE." I do not believe in giving into children's whiny whims. However, I was tired, hungry and downright ticked. So sushi train it was. It's not really a sushi train, just a bunch of sushi that goes around on a conveyor belt, but to a 5 year old it's like a freakin' Amtrack.Here's the thing. I don't eat sushi. Nor does the kid, or O.G. for that matter. As you can see our plates are mostly edamame, cucumber salad and inari (just rice). Thus making us the worst asians ever. I wanted to take a picture of the sushi chef, because the look on his face was pure disappointment in us. Sorry, we don't eat raw fish. Hey - at least we were paying customers! That place was dead-er than dead on a weekday.

In the end the Kid and O.G. were happy and satisfied. Meanwhile I was left hungry and still ticked off. I only had cucumbers for lunch for god's sakes. Luckily the mochi store was right next door....

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

All this running around, well it's getting me down, just give me a pain that I'm used to

This weather is crazy - at least here by the beach. It's overcast and cold, then blazingly sunny - the weather is having an identity crisis. My mood has been swinging along with the weather. Is it the blues or the fact that I've been to the hospital/doctor EVERY SINGLE DAY in the past few weeks?

O.G. had surgery - recovery was tougher than expected. I'd give her the meds and then she'd say, "Ok, I'm ready for my meds..." Yeah, not leaving her alone all day. Then Kid has been getting several bloody noses a day - followed by the Baby having another possible concussion. It never ends. So I've turned to drinking.Not really. I don't drink. But my main vice could be ice cream. I saw that Trader Joe's now has Haagen Daaz Honey Bee Vanilla Ice Cream for just $1.99 - along with some cherries and limes that I got at the farmer's market I put together an anti-depression cure. A Cherry Limeade Float.

Mmm. Cherry + citrus is the best combo ever, and if you make it fizzy and top it with ice cream, well you've died and gone to heaven. It defintiely takes the sting out of all these doctor's visits. Call me if you need a ride to the ER, my van leaves every 30 minutes.

Cherry Limeade Float recipe

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Louie, Louie

When I was younger - MUCH younger (sniff) - I worked on 7th Street downtown. I loved it. I felt like a grown up, dressing up for work, heading into the office - there's a certain hustle and bustle on 7th that makes you feel, well - downtown. Things have changed on 7th, places have shuttered, it's not as lively - but I still get that feeling whenever I head down there.

Hopefully, the city is getting back on it's feet. I have been waiting for Bottega Louie to open up, touted as a West Coast Dean and Deluca, well pardon me - this I have to see. Not quite, but it is certainly something. A patisserie/market restaurant in a high ceiling marble palace. It's lovely. Really. And the food is EXCELLENT. The acoustics...not so much.
On one of our last season trips to the opera, my mom and I went for brunch. The food was amazing, perfectly done - but I couldn't hear a word she said. I felt this din in my head that rang for hours. However, the food, it's the food, see?! Gorgeously prepared, the marketplace area is where I'd like to focus most of my time, next visit. Prepared foods, desserts to die for - can I just say, the chocolate eclair (and I am particular about eclairs) made me want to come back the very next day. Not to mention the macarons. I've tasted every one in this city, and these are right on par.I have to say, right after we ate there...I went back a few days later! Yikes. It was that good. The prepared sandwiches were amazing!! With a bar open until 11pm, it's wonderful for downtown, in a great location. I hope it stays there for many years to come, as I would visit it weekly. It's a beautiful place with awful noise and parking, but the food...oh the food....

More Bottega Louie pics, here
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Monday, June 22, 2009

Duck! Rabbit!

I told you before...I win things. Waaayyy more than a normal person. Which is why I enter everything. This week has been no exception. I won a big honor, to be revealed later in the week, but today, I got something awesome too.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal is an author who's played a big part in our lives. We own all of her books, and when the Kid was first learning to talk, we would read Little Peaand he would repeat the words back to me. It remains THE bookthat I buy for all new moms.

Well Amy has a new book out called Duck! Rabbit!and was holding a contest - as long as the book stayed on the best seller list she'd call one child for each of those weeks - and we were the lucky chosen ones! Can you believe it!?So Sunday night, my phone rang...and the kids were treated to the one and only Little Pea, as read by the author herself AND she and I read Duck! Rabbit! together!

I was probably more excited than they were, since the kids were wondering whose voice was coming out of the phone - but it was definitely a moment to remember.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bat-sicle

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Driving a hybrid

Every meal that I serve the kids, always has one veggie and one fruit on the plate as sides. Right now stone fruits are at their peak. The Farmer's Markets are bursting, and while it seems normal to me, I'm sure that's not the case around the rest of the country. We are lucky to have spectacular fruit year round, but right now some of the...not so well known ones, are coming out.

I've been seeing these everywhere Watermelon Pluots. If you don't know what a pluot is, it's a combo of a plum and an apricot. Now they've gone and made them watermelon flavored. Huh. Go figure. The Baby aka Fruit Bat, ate up TWO of these bad boys in minutes flat. It was all I could to do to wrestle the pit away from him. Apparently they were good. I couldn't tell you since I didn't get any.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Your move

So I took the Kid to college and enrolled him in early admissions. Clearly he is a child genius and although only 5 years old, I'm sure he can handle the pressure and survive the dorms.Just kidding.

I did take him to Cal State L.A. though. They were having an exhibit of chess sets, and for some reason the Kid has decided that he'd like to learn chess. I can't help him with that. I know nothing about it nor do I have any interest. What I can do is show him pieces of art. The Munitz Chess Collection is currently on display at the University Library. The exhibit is small, but shows an array of different decorative pieces and designs.

Let me just tell you, I hate going east of the 110 fwy. Anywhere else in this city I am comfortable finding my way around. East - not so much. O.G. (who was with us) decided we needed to move West to go to lunch. Between the two of us, with no maps or directions, we finally found our way to Boyle Heights (her comfort zone), then on to downtown (my comfort zone).We ended up on Alameda and decided to stop at historic Olvera Street for lunch. I haven't been there since I was a Girl Scout in the 5th grade. O.G. hasn't been there since 1785 or something crazy. It's just so...touristy. Which you can tell by the prices on the menus. Still being back and seeing it with the Kid was fun.We ate at the historic La Golondrina - "the original Los Angeles Mexican restaurant." The Kid had "the best quesadilla I've ever eaten in my whole life, Mommy!", I had taquitos (what else) and the O. to the G. had tortilla soup. But it was unlike any tortilla soup we've seen before. It was downright hearty. She ate every last drop of that thing and asked the waiter for the recipe. O.G. makes really good Mexican soups so I knew she'd want to replicate this one. Only she didn't. She wanted ME to replicate it. Great. I think I have a good idea of how to do it, we'll see how that all works out.It was a good day trip and O.G. is fully ready to go back to Olvera Street for eats soon - but Cal State L.A., not so much. There was too much 'where the hell are we?" I don't think we'll be going east of downtown for a quite a while, ya'll can keep the SGV to yourself...

More pics here -
Cal State L.A. chess exhibit
Olvera Street

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Is your refrigerator running?

People always ask me, 'Don't you wish you had a girl?' Not really. Having a girl would cost me a fortune cause man, they have the cutest pink clothes and toys! I'd go broke!
When I see those toy kitchens, that's when I want a girl. I kind of gave up that dream until I happened upon Right Start's going out of biz sale. Everything seems to be shutting down these days, it's pretty depressing - but good deals do come out of it, as sad as that is. In the store was a wonderous thing - a retro hot blue fridge from Babystyle (also out of business). Too awesome. It was cool enough for a boy's toy AND could double as storage, which was fine and dandy with me. If I step on another Lego, I swear to...
So I assembled this whole thing myself in under an hour - so easy, so fun! The kids thought it was awesome, and jumped right in to start cooking but in a totally manly way, of course. I don't know who does their shopping, but it's insanely unhealthy. Pizza, ice cream and bubble gum? Terrible.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Rob the jewelry store and tell 'em to make me a grill

I have to tell you. I love the Neelys'. Maybe it's the slow jams cut in on the ones and twos that they play as backround music. I know a lot of people don't like their personalities, but their food? Yeah, that's my kind of cooking. They do seem very much in love. Sometimes a little too much and you're like, damn are you gonna get it on or make some cornbread, yeesh!

Our family is straight up Southern (Southern Californian, that is), so I knew some BBQ was in order for a Sunday dinner. All of the Neely recipes seem easy to follow and VERY party friendly - meaning quick and to the point. Granted, I took their idea of tropical bbq ribs, but I changed the ingredients a little so that I could try it out in the crock pot. Hey, I'm a woman on the go, I don't have time to be sittin' over a hot grill.They were flavorful, slow roasted and fall off the bone soft. I'm going to have to look into getting that Neely Southern Family Cookbook, but first I need to turn on some slow jams...

Tropical ribs for the crock pot recipe, here.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I met someone at the dog show, she was holding my left arm

Mecha King GROOMdorah and BRIDEzilla
I have two very good friends, and if they ever asked me to be anywhere - I'd make sure I was there. If they ever asked me to bake for them - I'd do it. This is how I found myself carting 100 cupcakes with me to a wedding in San Diego.

The wedding was non-traditional, just they way they wanted it. Married on the beach, very small - just family and close friends. The party was back at a gorgeous rented beach house, and the food - an all you can eat made to order taco stand and all you can drink Faygo soda. Have you ever had melt in your mouth freshly made tortillas? Best. Wedding food. Ever.For dessert I was honored that they wanted me to make their wedding cupcakes. After a tasting they decided on Red Velvet and Ovaltine w/Chocolate Ganache + Vanilla Sea Salt. The Groom loves him some Ovaltine. When they asked me to make the cupcakes, doing 100 wasn't a problem, I've done that many times (too many, I think) so 100 was nothing. What I was worried about was getting them 2 hours south to San Diego AND would the guests even like them?I lucked out and everything went as planned, and the guests all had great things to say, so that was good. Hands down it was the best wedding I've ever been to. The casual-ness of it and the love that you knew everyone felt between the couple and for the couple. I know they will have a great future together, but how can you not - when you start it out by walking down the aisle to They Might Be Giants? Congrats, guys!

More wedding pics, here
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Monday, June 15, 2009

Wee wee wee, all the way home.

So I had this grand idea of taking Ina Garten's biscuits and making them even chees-i-er. Then making them bacon-y. Then making them into piggies. I don't know where I come up with this stuff either, honestly. It's all on the fly as I'm making dinner.

Ina's biscuit recipe is so simple, that adding ingredients is a breeze. Because the Baby loves bacon and the Kid loves cheese, I knew that the combo would make vegetable soup for dinner go down a little easier. I must have had pig/bacon on the brain cause the idea of making pig faces seemed to jump out at me.The kids LOVED not only the taste, but the faces, of course. Now they ask for 'pig biscuits' all the time, which kind of sounds disgusting.

Obviously these can be made just as simple circles, but now I am trying to think of other animals to make. Cheesy monkeys? Bacon-y wildebeasts...?

Cheese + Bacon Piggie Biscuits recipe

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