Tuesday, February 23

Recipe Redux - Sesame Mango Salad

This is one of my favorite salads to take to potlucks.  It is based on this recipe but they make it so hard to get to I tweaked it a bit and put it here for easier reference.

  •  2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 box mini bowtie pasta
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • mangoes, peeled and diced
1. In a large pot, boil the noodles until tender but firm to the bite, 8 to 9 minutes. Drain and rinse under running cold water and drain again. Toss with 1 tablespoon of the oil.
3. In a large bowl, combine the remaining vegetable oil with the sesame oil, vinegar, lime juice, honey, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, if using. Whisk to mix well. Add the noodles, green onions, carrots, mango, and cilantro and toss. Add more salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Refrigerate the salad for 2 hours, stirring every half hour, so that the noodles absorb the dressing evenly. Serve the salad cold with the sesame seeds sprinkled over the top.

Wednesday, January 27

Happy Half Birthday

Guess who is 6 months old! Little Bit is awesome.  She is cooing up a storm telling us all her stories.  Her smile lights up our existence and her giggles are the best music. She discovered her hands awhile ago but now she is using them to discover the world.  She loves to ring the wind chimes and feel the leaves of Froggy's lemon tree.  She is working really hard on rolling over.  She has stumbled into it a couple of times but can't do it reliably.

She weighs 15.5lb and is 23.5" long which places her in the 40% percentile for weight though she is not yet on the chart for heght yet.  Pediatrician says that is normal.  She is meeting all the milestones for her adjusted age.  She has her first visit with the physical therapist this week and her first visit with the developmental pediatrician later this month.

She got to experience her first snow fall.  She did not like the blizzard but was much less dubious about the snow itself when we went out later.  Sledding though is going to wait until next winter.

It has been a rocky road but we made it through. 

Tuesday, January 26

Food Adventure - Multigrain Bread Edition

Bread is an important part of our lives and I am always experimenting with new ideas.  I was very inspired by this recipe and created my own multigrain mix.  It took a long time for me to work up the courage to try it.  I was afraid of grinding the grains. But it was easier than I thought.  My grinder didn't work at all but the blender handled it with ease.  And the best part is that the bread turned out AMAZING which is a good thing because I have tons of the multigrain mix left.  I winged it and created my own mix using what I had an what I could find easily at the local market.

I used
  • purchased rice flour
  • purchased semolina
  • purchased cracked buckwheat
  • oats ground at home
  • corn flour
  • ground barley
  • flaxseed unground - next time I will grind this as well
I prepped the dough the day before I intended to bake it and let it rise gently in the fridge.  On baking day I took the dough out and let it rest on the counter for an hour then tried to shape it.  It was much too wet to shape as I had hoped so into the loaf pans it went.  I let it rise another hour or so until doubled again and then baked for about 45 minutes. And it was the lightest, most flavorful loaf I have had in a long time. 

Monday, December 7

Enjoying Shakespeare

Froggy has been enjoying Shakespeare since a much younger age than I thought possible before I had children thanks to the suggestions and guidance of our curriculum.  We started our Shakespeare experience with the Nesbit and Lamb retellings.  With these rich retellings in her experience, Froggy was able to attend and truly enjoy the live performances of our local Shakespeare theater company.

And this year, our Shakespearean adventure has entered a new chapter.  We are reading Othello in all its original glory with the help of No Fear Shakespeare.  The side by side approach allows us to enjoy the rich beautiful language while still understanding the story.  It is a major jump from the retellings and therefore we are taking much longer working our way through the play than in previous years but it is worth it.  I was concerned that the complicated language, the switching back and forth, or the lengthy speeches would be a deterrent.  It hasn't.  I suspect in large part thanks to the scaffolding provided by the retellings.
So you may ask why Othello for our first No Fear approach?  It was both on the rotation for our curriculum and part of the season for our local company.  I am still waffling on taking her to the live production but leaning heavily in favor of going.  We chose the Page and Stage performance to have a chance to chat with the artistic staff before the performance.

Wednesday, December 2

Food Finds

Since we came back from Kansas, we have been having some fun experimenting with new recipes. Not  all of the experiments have been good but here are a couple that are major keepers

The first surprise win was our new favorite pasta sauce.   Froggy really likes pasta with red sauce but didn't really eat the sauce much.  When I offered her this new sauce, she chowed down on it and licked up the sauce.  She now eats the same amount of noodles with at least half again as much sauce and has no idea she is getting any veggies.  It is a double win for the Ima.

The second win is a breakfast burrito recipe I have fallen in love with these.  I could eat them every single day.  Froggy asked to try mine and gave it a double thumbs up,  With her eating them as well, I may need to start making a double batch. I started with this recipe and then tweaked it to suit our family

Breakfast Burrito
8 eggs
1 med onion - diced
1 bag frozen corn
black beans (an amount to balance out the corn)
1 tbsp Taco seasoning 
2 cups shredded cheese
8 fajita size tortillas

Saute the onions over medium heat until translucent.  While they are cooking whisk the eggs.  Add the eggs to the onions and scramble.  Mix all ingredients except tortillas in a large bowl.  Place about a cup of the mixture on each tortilla and roll up tightly (the tighter the better)  Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze until ready.    You can heat it however works best for you but I microwave them for about 4 minutes.  Makes for a super easy meal. 

Tuesday, December 1

Trial 2

Flavor Question: Can I make the peach flavor stronger by simmering the peaches on the stove?

Texture Question: How can we make the edges less brown and still keep it cooked inside?

Flavor Hypothesis - If I simmer the peaches on the stove, the peach flavor will get concentrated because we simmer off the water.

Texture Hypothesis -If I bake the bread for one hour at 325 instead of 350, the inside will be done and the edges will not be crispy yet

Experiment  Summary -We simmered the frozen peaches on the stove top between medium and medium-high until they thawed.  We then pureed them and the heat down to low.  We had the peaches on the heat for approximately half an hour. The flavor is definitely more intense. The peaches were hot so we had to be careful not to cook our eggs when we poured the peaches in. We mixed the dry goods into the rest for 40 seconds this time. We then separated the batter into two loaf pans evenly by weighing each pan as we added the batter.  We baked them for an hour at 325 at which point they were done.

Flavor Conclusion -I thought the peach flavor concentrated properly. I could taste the peach this time. I thought the bread was yummy.

Texture Conclusion - I decided the inside was cooked enough and the edges were absolutely not crispy.  I am proud of this one. 

Personal Review -Overall, I think the bread turned out just how we wanted it to.  The flavor was perfect but I still want to try it again with cherries because it is supposed to be a peach-cherry bread and I want to see if I can get the flavor right with both.  The texture was absolutely perfect.  I don't think I need to change anything so now I am going to play and see if the rules laid out in Alton Brown's I'm Just Here for More Food are necessary.

Wednesday, November 18

Trial 1

Flavor Question: Can I make the flavor more even by pureeing the peaches and evening out the fruit (putting in more cherries and less peaches)?

Texture Question: How can we make the edges less brown and still keep it cooked inside?

Flavor Hypothesis -  If I Puree the peaches and divide the fruit in half I will make a more even flavor in the bread.

Texture Hypothesis - If I bake it at the same temperature for only 50 min the insides will be done and the edges will not be burned yet

Experiment  Summary - When making the bread this time, we used 1 cup of sweet cherries instead of1/2 cup of  tart cherries.  The peaches were pureed and measured 1 cup. I forgot to put in the nutmeg with the other spices, but luckily I remembered just before we mixed so we were able to fix it.  We mixed for for 35 seconds this time. We wrote down the empty bowl bowl weight wrong and accidentally put too much in one loaf pan.  The loaves were baked for 50 minutes at the same temperature (350 degrees)

Flavor Conclusion - I only tasted cinnamon except when tasting cherry chunks. There was not any peach flavor.  We decided that we might want to find a way to concentrate the peach flavor since we can't increase the amount without getting rid of the cherries.The best idea we had for concentrating the flavor is simmering the peach puree to cook off some of the water.

Texture Conclusion -We decided that the inside was probably under cooked because there were more holes at the top than at the bottom, but the edges were still crispy.   Next time, we will cook it for one hour at 325 degrees.

Personal Review - Overall, I like the cooking part but I hate the lab report. Taking notes is frustrating because I hate writing with a passion.   The cooking part is pretty fun because it is good mother-daughter bonding time and it feels really good.  It is like hot cocoa.  And it made some yummy bread.