Wednesday, December 26, 2007

FYI Geocaching

Geocaching is basically treasure hunting with a GPS (Global Positioning Satellite). There is a website that can give you local caches. Jupiter bought a GPS mainly for use in the car, but Geocaching allows us to use it to get outside and wander off trail. We went in search of a cache (i.e. treasure, booty, stash) in a local park. We had the GPS coordinates (latitude and longitude) and then you hunt; you also usually have a clue to where the cache is hidden. When you find it, you log that you were there and you can take something from the container and leave something behind. This is a pretty family friendly activity and definitely teaches about directions. It was fun and I am sure we will do it more once it is warmer outside and definitely when we travel.

Christmas Highlights

We had a really special Christmas holiday in our home. Jove and I have been crafting, reading and singing for weeks and I have really enjoyed watching him get so excited.

Our Christmas:
  • Our friends come over for a little NYC "brown couch," since we can't be with the rest of the Michigan family. See the picture above where Jove is playing with the baby present and the babies, of course, are playing with the ribbon.
  • Jup's side of the family: sisters, cousins and kids all come over on Christmas day for playing and eating.
  • We visit Santaland at Macy's and their amazing windows and Jove sits on Santa's lap, he really was more excited than he appears here. The good pictures cost way too much so we only have our mediocre pics. He asks Santa for a crane (probably because we drive by all of the construction on the way downtown) and Christmas morning he got a crane.
  • Miranda being such a big girl: sitting and playing by herself, rolling around, calling papa "da da," enjoying the wooden eggs that Santa left in her stocking
  • Jove and I finishing our gingerbread house and me finishing all of the origami I made for the kids in the family.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


I just recently found out that my leave from my job will be ending next winter and I will have to go back in February of 2009. I have been at home since last January and I have a little over a year to go. I feel really lucky that I have been able to be at home so long, many moms aren't so lucky. Its all or nothing for many working moms; stay at home and lose your career or stay at work and lose your mind. I am the happiest now I have been since I have had children because I get to focus completely on mothering and I also have time to reflect on my life. When I working full time as a teacher when Jove was young, I was in survival mode: eat, feed everyone else, grade, plan, maybe clean, spend time with kids, spend very little time on myself or with my husband. It was really not a lot of fun day to day, even though I enjoyed my work, being a mom, cooking, etc. I was just too busy, too much to do and I never felt very effective either at work or at home. Part of me realizes that I have to go back to work and I will have to find a way to be happy with two full time jobs and another part of me has started to ask the question, "What if I didn't have to go back to work?"

Humor me... What would I do if I didn't have to go back to work? Home school my kids; maybe have another child; grow a much bigger garden and can and preserve food for us; maybe get some laying hens; have good, loving energy leftover for my kids and my husband by the time 5pm roles around; read; exercise more; spend more time with friends; and maybe start to write.

So, moms out there, what would you do if you didn't have to work and if you aren't working do you want to work full-time? Are you conflicted?

Gingerbread: Part I

Last year I learned too late that there are two types of gingerbread recipes: the one you want to eat and the one you build a house with. I started to search for a yummy recipe for gingerbread people online and I found that most people were not happy about the gingerbread recipes they were finding. Then I found a recipe on a blog where the woman made the recipe by trial and error and they are delicious.

Here is the woman's recipe directly from her website:
  • 3 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temperature, softened)
  • 1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses

1 In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.

2 In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Mix in eggs and molasses. Gradually add the flour mixture; combine on low speed. (You may need to work it with your hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.) Divide dough in thirds; wrap each third in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour or overnight. Before rolling out, let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. If after refrigerating the dough feels too soft to roll-out, work in a little more flour.

3 Heat oven to 350°. Place a dough third on a large piece of lightly floured parchment paper or wax paper. Using a rolling pin, roll dough 1/8 inch thick. Refrigerate again for 5-10 minutes to make it easier to cut out the cookies. Use either a cookie cutter or place a stencil over the dough and use a knife to cut into desired shapes. Press raisins, chocolate chips, or candy pieces in the center of each cookie if desired for "buttons".

4 Transfer to ungreased baking sheets. Bake until crisp but not darkened, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Let sit a few minutes and then use a metal spatula to transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Decorate as desired.

I made one batch of dough and divided it in half to roll out cookies on two separate occasions. First, I made cookies for Jove that he put sprinkles and colored sugar on to decorate before we baked them. A few days later, I baked the rest for a play date with our mom's group. I made icing out of confectioner's sugar, milk and food coloring and the kids each got to ice a few cookies. I put a small amount of icing into plastic sandwich bags and then tore a tiny hole in the corner, so the kids could squeeze out the icing as if it was in a pastry bag. You could also give them a small dish and a toothpick or small spoon for them to apply it with, but this could get a lot messier than the bags.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

secret ingredients

I have been experimenting with spices lately. The results have been both weird and wonderful. Here are two experimentations with wonderful results: adding a dash of nutmeg to the ricotta cheese mix for lasagna and adding allspice to lentil soup or lentil pilaf. You need balance the second one with acidity like a little lemon juice or tomato paste. Happy experimenting!!

things I love: freecycling and microfinancing

I believe that optimism is important and at the risk of seeming naive, I will say that I believe that almost all people are basically good (sometimes ignorant, but not evil). But, life is difficult at times and stressful and we need to reconnect with our goodness and our desire to do good. I think that most people want to do what's right for their kids, their health, the planet and their communities but they have no time, information or support.
So, I want to share two things that I found recently that tap into my inner goodness and keep me hopeful about humanity. The first is freecycle. Freecycle is basically a free Craig's List. People want to get rid of things they no longer need and other people want their stuff. You can also post stuff that you want and someone may let you know that they have one they no longer need. It reduces garbage, reuses valuable stuff reducing the need for manufacturing and makes good neighbors. So far, I have given away one old Halloween costume and received wooden blocks, children's magazines, outdoor play equipment and a microwave for my mother-in-law. Freecycle exists all over the US.
It also makes me happy to know that the Internet can be put to such good use.
Another such good use I just found out about and I plan to use it soon. Kiva is an online organization that allows you to directly loan money to entrepreneurs in developing countries and receive your money back while getting information about what the recipient did. I believe in empowerment not charity. The Kiva website also offers holiday gift certificates and I think a great opportunity to teach kids about the world and helping others. It is based on the principal of microfinancing, lending small amounts of money to people who otherwise would have no access to loans. The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, Muhammad Yunus, created the first micro-financing institution the Grameen Bank. He is one of my heroes.
So, be merry this Christmas season and do good.

Friday, November 23, 2007

giving thanks

Happy Thanksgiving to all!! I really enjoy Thanksgiving; a celebration of the harvest, kindness and generosity and a true American holiday. We don't really do a traditional Thanksgiving meal, no turkey or cranberry sauce. But we celebrate the season's bounty and being together with family, my own small family and my husband's extended family.

Our menu yesterday was roasted squash soup; lasagna; braised, lemony spinach and pumpkin pie for dessert. I made my first pumpkin pie and we took it over to be shared with my husband's uncle's family. It was great feeling to see my early morning work disappear into appreciative mouths. Jove had helped me make it and asked about it all day; he was so happy to finally eat it and tell his cousins all about the ingredients.

We went to a late-night Thanksgiving meal at my sister-in-law's house and I felt very grateful to be included in their family celebration. It was very traditional in terms of what was served, but a very festive celebration for Thanksgiving, a lot of dancing, singing and love. It seemed to me to be the best of both cultures, a beautifully prepared meal and then a clearing of the tables for a lot of dancing.

At our own meal and at my sister-in-law's house everyone shared what they are thankful for and I thought I would leave you with a few words of gratitude:

Jove's List (not in order of importance)
hot chocolate
chocolate cookies

My List (not in order of importance)
A growing family
Amazing friends (chosen family)
Not working and being with my children

Friday, November 16, 2007

one fall day

Today we froze and frolicked with friends at the botanical garden. We also put the finishing touches on our cornucopia which included the many loves of Jove: acorns, a school bus, a piggy bank and a garbage truck. On Thanskgiving, we'll add some flowers from our still blooming garden.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

last night's dinner: black and green

Black Beans and Rice
Cabbage Salad with Cilantro Dressing
Fried Egg (optional)

When I plated up last night's dinner, the colors on the plate reminded me of mint chocolate chip ice cream. The flavors, however, reminded me of something else. I love the black beans and cabbage salad combination from my days living in Costa Rica.

Cabbage Salad Recipe

3 cups shredded or thinly sliced green cabbage (1/3-1/2 of a head of cabbage)

1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/3 cup of olive oil
1 lime juiced
1 teaspoon salt
a pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together the dressing and pour over the cabbage right before eating. Toss to coat.

Jove and Miranda

When Miranda was born, Jove was very excited. But, of course, Miranda being a newborn meant she couldn't really interact with him. All of that has changed and Jove and Miranda are loving it. Jove loves talking to and entertaining Miranda. He's excited about her two teeth, he retrieves her toys when she drops them from her high chair and he cracks up when she squeals, holds her sippy cup, flubbers her lips or babbles. When Miranda and I go get Jove from pre-school she is so excited to see him.

People ask me all of the time if he is good with her and I must say he truly is a good big brother. He hugs her and wants her at his bedtime storytime. When he hears her wake up from a nap he goes to her crib to lean over the edge and greet her. I am amazed by how much love he has for her. I cherish the siblinghood in our home.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

On Motherhood

In a moment of both temporary insanity and utter devotion to my son I decided to hand make part of his Halloween costume. He wanted to be a fireman, at least until his actual fireman costume was being made and then he decided he wanted to be a garbage man. "Next year," I said.

A friend of ours lent us the suit, another friend lent us the hat and I was to make the truck out a cardboard box. As Halloween approached I started to worry that I didn't really know what to do and Jove would be haunted by appearing before all of his little pre-school friends in a pretty crappy piece of artwork. But my mom saved the day. She drew the firetruck outline onto the box while she was visiting. All I would have to do would be paint it and add some interesting details: dvd wheels, rubber tubing for hoses, suspenders so he could wear it, etc.
After at least ten hours of work, it was finished and I was quite proud of his firetruck. Papa brought home a flashing bicycle light and his costume was now done. Jove loved it and he had such a great time wearing it. During some of those late night painting sessions I vowed to never, ever take on such a task again.
Then, when he was wearing it I realized that the whole experience was really a metaphor of motherhood for me. The self-sacrifice of this project is what mothers do all day, every day. The emotional roller coaster I was on during the project (smiles, near anxiety attacks, sleep deprivation, gratitude) is representative of feelings I have all of the time. Luckily, my daily life is filled with a lot more smiles and gratitude and only minor anxiety and sleep deprivation. I also realized that although Halloween only comes once I year, the amount of both actual work and emotional work I will be doing as a mother has only begun.
I also see my mother in a new light. I think of all of the projects, costumes and worry my mom went through to take care of us. She's not even completely off duty now; she came to visit us and see the grandkids and I ask her, "will you draw Jove's firetruck for his Halloween costume?" "Sure, honey," she says. Here's to mothers everywhere. Yay, moms!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

things i love about da bronx

i must first say that there are some days that it would be easier to write about the things in my lovely borough that drive me crazy, but there really is so much good stuff here. the thing I actually appreciate the most about living here has nothing to do with the bronx itself; it is my husband's huge, extended family in and around New York City. i am part of it and so grateful. like they say, "home is where the heart is."

but, back to where I live and what there is to love (remember, i live in the bronx- so "great restaurants" is not on my list)

so here's my short list:
  • the public library system
  • the cultural and ethnic diversity
  • the botanical garden, bronx zoo and wave hill
  • bridges, trains and construction seen through the eyes of my three-year old son
  • orchard beach in any season except summer

This blog entry was prompted by the wonderful day I had today with Jove, Miranda and my mother-in-law, Tati. Because it is unseasonably warm (loving it), we headed out after lunch to Orchard Beach which is actually on the farthest west coast of Long Island Sound. In the summer it is a madhouse, but in the off season it is delightful. We never swim or wade in the water, just in case you were worried for our health.

Jove collected acorns (pin oak acorns are beautifully striped). Jove and I played in the sand and enjoyed the sunny, warm day. Tati pushed Miranda in the stroller, down the boardwalk until she fell asleep. The beach and the park (pelham bay park) that contain it were designed by Robert Moses, the famous architect who designed many of new york city's landmark engineering projects. The park is the biggest in New York City (yup, bigger than Central Park) and it has many different faces: the track where I run, our bike trails, a back road to work, jove's playgrounds and today's adventure, the beach. I am so grateful to have so much green space nearby.

Later in the afternoon, we went to a Chinese Silk Dance workshop at a local library where Jove twirled until he could twirl no more. There are really cool programs offered at the two branches near us and we go often. We have seen a lot of live theater, puppet shows and musical performances at libraries. We even have a library branch at the end of our block.

Jove fell fast asleep after his bath, tired from a fun day of playing in the sand, running down the beach and twirling silk ribbons to make water, dragons and rainbows. We are lucky. Right now, I can't imagine living anywhere else.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


there is a beautiful exhibit at the ny botanical garden and my parents are visiting. Serendipity my dad would say.

kiku is the japanese word for chrysanthemum and there is an art of controlling the plants to produce a single large bloom, a "thousand bloom" display or a cascade of blooms. Each arrangement is made with a single plant. it is beautiful.

the courtyard of the observatory also includes a large bamboo sculpture, many japanese maples in fall colors and a lot of bonsai.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

fall, family and friends (or pumpkins: three ways)

we have been enjoying fall, family and friends so much in the past few weeks. jove is allowing me to project my halloween and fall vegetable obsession onto him. we go for walks to the local drugstore to buy milk and check out the halloween decorations: we try on witches' hats, push the buttons on the spooky automated skeletons and in a moment of weakness we bought the halloween stickers decorating the pumpkin above. jove likes to act like a monster and talks a lot about things being scary (although he thinks all scary things want to eat someone or something). he really likes scarecrows, but ghosts puzzle him, he asks me, "what are they trying to scare away?" good question.

one of my husband's cousins is visiting from DR and it is his first time ever being in fall weather. he is the uncle of jove's cousins; so we have all been hanging out a lot lately and he stayed at our house this weekend. he made pumpkin muffins with jove and has been playing with him non-stop. jove will go through withdrawl when he wakes up tomorrow to find andy gone back to his sister's house in queens.

We hosted our mom's group for a fall craft playdate which was lots of fun. We made decoupage pumpkins and marigold bracelets and I served the pumpkin muffins and some squash soup. I pureed some of the roasted squash to make baby food for miranda. she loved it (of course). if we start to turn orange in the pictures you'll know why.

Family Science Day

Jove and his cousins had a blast (no pun intended) launching water bottle rockets. My dear husband has been making science come alive for these little guys. Jove's initial foray into experimentation came with erupting a play-doh volcano a few months ago a la Brady Bunch with baking soda, vinegar and red food coloring. We recently built a paper mache volcano which was also erupted as part of the science day festivities. My husband demo'ed the infamous Diet Coke and Mentos experiment for the kids as well.
Ever since I took Jove to the New York Hall of Science which has a Rocket Park with actual rockets in it, he has been asking for a real rocket to go to outer space. This was the next best thing.

Monday, September 24, 2007

apple crumble

its always good to have a good recipe to enjoy fall apples. i made this a few days ago with jove and it was yummy. its not overly sweet and very satisfying.

Apple Crumble
4-5 large apples (golden delicious are good for this)
1/4 cup of sugar
1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons of flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of fine salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) of cold butter, cut into chunks

Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

Peel, core and slice apples into 1/4 inch slices. Place apples in a mixing bowl and toss with the lemon juice, sugar, flour and cinnamon. Pour into a lightly buttered 9 by 13 baking dish and spread out evenly.

In another large bowl, mix together the nuts, flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon and salt for the topping. using your fingers work in the butter until pea-sized lumps are formed.

Top apples evenly with the mixture and bake for 45 minutes rotating the pan once while cooking.

bon appetit

Saturday, September 22, 2007

fall is here

tomorrow is the start of fall and i am very excited. October is one of my favorite months; i love the harvest, the falling leaves, halloween, the colors of autumn and the cooler days. I found a one-dollar cornucopia and i plan to fill it with acorns with jove. depending on how strange it looks, it may become our table centerpiece. jove, of course, thought it was a hat

we went apple picking a couple of weeks ago and it was a beautiful, sunny day. we have been eating our way through a half-bushel of apples. jove loves to pick apples, but not to eat them. under the peer pressure of the group, he always takes a bite out of one and then tells us again that he doesn't like apples.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

saving pennies and time

i love saving money and making plans. i don't know if these tendencies are neurotic, but i'd like to think they have helped me along in my life. i have started a new habit that has simplified my life so much that i thought i would share it with you. i create a weekly menu for what we are going to eat. this has helped me in three ways: i make only one trip to the grocery store every week, i waste no produce because i buy only what we will need and we eat a much more varied diet because i plan in the variety instead of reverting to easy stuff because i didn't plan. it sounds like it takes all of the romance out of cooking, but i actually like cooking more this way and i spend no time during the day wondering, "what will i make for dinner?" i try more new recipes this way as well.

here's this week's menu:
monday: peanut tofu with rice and veggies
tuesday: red beans and rice with cabbage salad and fried plantains
wednesday: veggie fried rice with soybeans
thursday: going out for pizza with friends
friday: eggplant lasagna and green salad

this week's menu is very easy, the only dish that takes more than 30 minutes is the lasagna. i write the menu on a paper that i post on the fridge. the friend that i got this idea from writes her menu in chalk on a chalk slate like you would see in a cafe.

this is the best new habit i have.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

snoodle bug

comfort foods

as a child, there were a couple of foods that i relished and would eat until i was full. my mom's pot roast with carrots and potatoes was one of them. I believe baked and roasted foods hold some magic in them; the flavors are richer and the golden edges are so yummy. No raw food diet for me anytime soon.

so in honor of baked goodness, here is a recipe for au gratin potatoes. but first, let me clarify, gratin is basically french for what americans would call a casserole. but, casserole is really just the name of the dish you bake it in and has nothing to do with what is in it. for me, casserole has always been synonomous with a mysterious dish of baked processed stuff brought by grandmas to potluck dinners (no offense, grandmas). so, casserole is the name of the dish and gratin means something baked in the aforementioned dish with cheese or bread crumbs on top. yummy!!

Au gratin potatoes

4-5 medium sized yukon gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 and 1/2 cups grated white cheddar cheese
1 tsp of flour
1/4 cup of milk
1/2 cup of bread crumbs (optional)

preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
in a large mixing bowl, combine the potatoes, salt, pepper and olive oil. oil the bottom and sides of a 9" by 9" baking dish and layer 1/2 of the potato mixture, and sprinkle on half of the onions and half of the cheese. sprinkle the teaspoon of flour over the potatoes. repeat the layering and pour the milk evenly over the potatoes. top with bread crumbs if so desired. bake for 45 minutes or until bubbly and potatoes are tender.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

a good week

this past week has been filled with love and the excitement of new things. my oldest and dearest friend heather came to visit us. she met miranda for the first time and got to spend lots of time playing garbage truck with jove. i got some grown-up time with heather (sans jove) and heather got to snuggle miranda, even bathe her a couple of times. i feel so blessed to have heather in my life and excited that my kids have such a cool auntie.
heather agreed to be miranda's godmother (kind of a funny thing to write, considering how non-religious we both are). godparents in latin culture have more of a social role, less religious; so it is in this spirit that we asked heather to be miranda's godmother. i want miranda to have a smart, cool and independent godmother that can guide and nurture her.
when jove woke up yesterday, he asked me if i was sad and i said, why would i be sad? he said, because heather left and then he told me not to be sad because i have him and miranda to keep me company. i am sad that heather lives so far away.

yesterday, jove started pre-school. he loved it and they said he did very well. when i asked him what he liked best, he said, the playground. he goes two days a week. it is a montessori school and so far i am very impressed.

i will post some more pictures soon

Monday, September 3, 2007

pirate fun

we recently returned from our family vacation to williamsburg, virginia. we made some stops on the way down- sesame place (again!) and philadelphia. we ended up vacationing in williamsburg accidentally; our timeshare exchange availability was very limited, so we ended up in virginia in august which sounds hot and it was, but it was very bearable and we got to swim a lot. and, everyplace was pleasantly uncrowded because southern states have already gone back to school.

we went to the historical attractions which had people dressed in colonial garb, including black tri-cornered hats, which earned them the name pirates from jove. "momma, where are the pirates?"

the highlights of our stay were our trips to the jamestowne settlement and virginia beach. in honor of jamestowne's 400th anniversary (1607!), totally new exhibits were made- a replica of a colonial fort, a powhatan native american village and replicas of the three ships that brought over the original settlers. exploring the ships and grinding corn were the highlights for jove. there was also an amazing indoor (yay, air conditioning) museum documenting the larger colonial issues and history. i was impressed with the presentation of the history of enslaved africans and native americans and also a critical lens applied to colonization (for example, the original boats carried guns, why, if they were just peaceful settlers?) A very cool place, we highly recommend it.

virginia beach is one of the nicest beaches i've been to in the states and the day we went it was cooler and less humid. There was a very large and beautiful stone statue of neptune which jupiter and jove are standing in front of here. Virginia beach is near an airforce base and fighter jets were taking off and practicing. jove enjoyed watching them, of course, he doesn't know what they're for.

this brings up another point that i thought a lot about while we were on out trip, how to explain war and violence to a kid. on the colonial ships there were cannons and jove wanted to know what they were used for, we saw people firing muskets (i don't think jove had ever even seen a gun anywhere before this trip) and many of the children's souvenirs in williamsburg were toy muskets. the reality is that i can explain the logistics of war, but i really don't get it myself, why do people want to hurt other people?? maybe it sounds naive, but most of us teach our kids to share and to empathize with others, but this isn't really what society values. any thoughts?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

chocolate, beans and whole wheat pasta

as many of you know, we are a mostly vegetarian household and i don't cook any meat. our little jove has been vegetarian his whole life, although he has been offered pieces of chicken on various occasions (he always refuses). i make an effort to understand balanced nutrition and sources of different nutrients even more now that i am responsible for two little ones.
one nutrient that is a little harder for vegetarians to get enough of is iron. with that said, i have gone through two pregnancies/births and never developed anemia. iron is found in a lot of vegetarian foods, but it is not as easily used by the body in this form (non-heme). two ways to ensure adequate iron intake is to eat a variety of iron rich foods everyday and to eat foods rich in vitamin c along with the iron rich foods. for example, i always make my beans and rice with lime juice and red peppers to combine iron and vitamin c.

for more info, click here

iron rich foods
  • whole wheat anything
  • oatmeal
  • nuts
  • beans and lentils
  • raisins and dates
  • eggs
  • cocoa powder (my fave)
  • soy beans and tofu
i give jove at least two iron rich meals or snacks everyday and i try to sneak extra good stuff in where i can. some examples of things i give him are oatmeal with apple sauce (preserved with vitamin c), date and nut bars, shredded wheat cereal, mashed potatoes with egg yolk and beans and rice; also he will eat uncooked tofu and wheat germ out of a bowl for snacks. it is weird that he is so picky about some things, but will eat a bowl of wheat germ or tofu. whenever i bake or make pancakes, i throw in wheat germ, chopped walnuts and flax meal.
good luck to any of you with picky eaters

Saturday, August 18, 2007

baked lemon tempeh and curried cous cous

"you went all out," jupiter says to me. i smile. making food that jupiter loves makes me very happy. in fact, making food and sharing it with people i love is a major source of joy in my life.

another thing i like is the "barefoot contessa" (Ina Garten). she has a show on the food network and its is based on her catering/speciality store by the same name in the hamptoms (eastern long island). She does two things that make her one of my culinary heroes: she keeps her preparations and ingredients simple and fresh and she always makes her food with a person or occasion in mind and then shares the food with them. i can forgive her overuse of mayonnaise and butter. if you watch the show you have a sense of who she cooks for, her life, her friends; it is much more real and endearing than most cooking shows and she's chubby and cute (never trust a skinny chef).

so, i recently bought one of her cookbooks and i tried two of her recipes for the first time last night. the tempeh recipe was a recipe for chicken that i modified and the curried cous cous recipe i modified slightly. both turned out so well i have decided to share them.

baked lemon tempeh

2 packages of tempeh

3 lemons juiced (1/2 cup juice)

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon miced fresh thyme leaves

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

cut the tempeh into strips 1/3 inch thick. combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and allow tempeh to marinate overnight. place the tempeh strips in a 9 x 13 baking dish and bake at 400 degrees until crispy on the bottom and golden on top.

curried cous cous

1 1/2 cups cous cous (i use the whole wheat cous cous from trader joes)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups boiling water

1/4 plain nonfat yogurt

1/4 olive oil

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup shredded carrots (small hole on the grater)

1/4 cup minced, flesh flat leaf parsley

1/2 cup minced golden raisins

1/4 cup pine nuts

1 scallion thinly sliced

Place the cous cous in a bowl. Melt the butter in the boiling water and pour over the cous cous. cover tightly and allow the cous cous to soak up the water for five minutes.

Whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, curry powder, salt and pepper. Fluff up the cous cous with a fork and mix in the sauce. Add the carrots, parsley, raisins, pine nuts and scallions. Adjust salt and pepper to taste and serve at room temperature.

These recipes meet my three requirements for the food i make: yummy, fast and cheap.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

people, places and one cicada bug

jove on a water slide at Sesame Place

babies hannah and miranda get love pats from jove

jove and i find a dead cicada bug on the sidewalk

tia anabel visits

jove and his only first cousin, ariana

Sunday, August 12, 2007


jupiter has a lot of cousins; i think one time we counted 27 just on his mom's side. most of his cousins have young kids and i feel truly blessed that jove is growing up with his cousins.
this is the 3 year old truck crew: jove, jay and troy jr.

collections: jove's acorns

jove is fond of collecting items we find outside. most of the time these nature collections are made during our walks around the neighborhood. yesterday we were in a small woods and jove found a lot of green acorns that have been knocked out of trees during recent storms. he carried it in his pockets until we got home.
this bowl was made by mom; it is part of a collection of really beautiful dishes she made for us: cool square plates, little bowls and appetizer trays. i have tried to photograph the plates, but the lighting inside doesn't do them justice. i will do an outdoor photo shoot with the plates soon. i love them.

Friday, August 10, 2007

summer highlights

i know the summer isn't even over yet, but i feel like we have enjoyed this summer so much. of course, having papa at home with us is wonderful. the best things so far this summer have been watching miranda change from a newborn into a laughing, babbling baby, swimming in our pool with lots of friends and cousins and going on our trips camping and to visit friends and family in michigan.

we have a lot to still enjoy this summer: a couple of trips, a visit from auntie heather and hopefully more warm, sunny weather.

best of summer 2007 (so far)

  • jove playing in the sand at my parent's house on lake huron and driving grandpa's boat (he has since told us he wants us to have a house on the beach)

  • my dad and brother meeting miranda

  • mini-reunion with nan and fam and maggie and bruce

  • camping in the catkskills with miguel and olga's family and cousins

  • jove's 3rd birthday bug party

  • jove being able to swim by himself

  • jove spending a lot of time with his cousins

Saturday, August 4, 2007

garden's bounty

After many tries with plants such as squash and peppers, the real success stories of our backyard garden are the tomatoes and basil. This year my parents sent us an Earth Box as a gift-its a a container that produces huge plants and lots of tomatoes. We have so many tomatoes that we are having tomato salads every other day and still giving them anyway to anyone that comes near our backyard. Once I figure out how to upload pictures I will take some pictures of the plants.

The best part of gardening is including Jove in the process. He is my official tomato picker, but he tells me the basil is too hard to pick. He does help me turn the basil into pesto, which is one of his favorite foods.

So, if you have lots of tomatoes and basil here are some great ways to use them up.

Tomato Salad
2-3 big tomatoes or 10-15 little ones cut into bite-size pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 oz crumbled feta cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Pesto Sauce
2-3 cups loosely packed basil leaves- rinsed and taken off the stem
1 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (toast 'em in a fry pan on the stove, just don't forget about them or walk away or you will set off your smoke detector like I have many times)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup water
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste

put all ingredients in the blender and grind, this requires stopping and stirring a few times to make sure everything gets ground. use the sauce on cooked pasta or as a sandwich spread

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

start at the beginning

i have decided to start blogging after much consideration. a couple of people i know and a couple that i know only through their blogs have inspired me to share some of the moments of our life.
i have two young children and a passion for the outdoors and cooking in my kitchen.
here's a pic of jove and i making a twig raft. it floats.