Archive for February, 2009

Food Friday: Frozen Strawberry Smoothies & Popovers

February 27, 2009

First things first:

The lucky winner of the King Arthur Whole Grains Cookbook is #1, Maria, as decided by the computer at Random.org. Maria, your cookbook will come from the folks Countryman Press next month!

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Thanks for commenting, all, and I have another giveaway for today. Love this cookbook stuff.

At this point in the winter, I’ll do anything to break out of the breakfast rut, and here’s what we are having today:

Strawberry Smoothies

Take about 3/4 cup of yogurt per person (vanilla or plain, cows milk, soy, whatever you have on hand)

About 5-8 frozen strawberries per person

About 1/3 a banana per person

About 1-2 Tablespoons of orange juice per person or one teaspoon of honey

Add all this to the blender or food processor, give it a whirl until strawberries are blended and mixture is pink.

If you like, sneak in 2-3 Tablespoons of ground flax seed at this point and whirl again—with all those strawberry seeds, they’ll never know, and what shiny coats they’ll have.

Pour and drink your lovely pink brew!

I could stop here, but this morning I had requests for popovers, so I could use this classic recipe or this easy one that we use all the time, even on the occasional school morning.

Never-Fail Popovers

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

Do not preheat oven. Break eggs into bowl and add milk, flour and salt. Mix (do not beat) well with spoon. (Disregard lumps.) Grease 6 to 8 custard cups (or a popover pan) well with unsalted butter. Fill each 3/4 full with batter. Place in a cold oven in lowest position. Turn to 450, and do not peek until 35 minutes have gone by. Large ones may take more time. Turn off oven, pierce with a sharp knife and leave in over for five more minutes so they will not be soggy. Perfection! (Note, I never do this and I don’t think they are soggy!) Serve with butter and jelly.

So, want to win the cookbook featuring these yummies and many more? I edited a community cookbook called Galley Watch for an educational organization I worked for more than ten years ago, and still go to it every single week–crammed full of amazing recipes, I would probably take this one with me to a desert island, at least one with a Whole Foods or Wegmans! If you want a copy, leave a comment, and two lucky readers will get their own copy. Happy cooking!

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Say moo!

February 23, 2009

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We spent some time in Vermont at the end of school vacation week, visiting the cousins (not pictured here, these are just friends of the family), gathering eggs, feeding sweet clover to cows and playing in lots and lots of snow.

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These girls loved the attention from our little guys, but didn’t know what to make of my camera.

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Some of them were better than others at posing.

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Some even figured out how to pose and eat at the same time.

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Will is actually not feeding Henry to the cow, it just looks that way.

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Henry would have climbed in there and stayed all weekend if he could have. He left wanting to pet them and milk them.

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But the lure of the mountain dragged them away. And their dad.

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I think he’s saying there is a LOT OF SNOW!

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Bye, bye, Vermont family, thanks for the visit and we can’t wait to come again soon!

P.S. If I had to pick a best shot, I’d go for the extreme nostril closeup. how about you?

For more Best Shot Monday, go to Tracey’s NEW site.

Food Friday: Whole Grain Baking with King Arthur and a giveaway

February 20, 2009

Cooking with whole grains or their only slightly processed cousins (rolled oats, wheat flour) is habit around our house. I have a near aversion to the anemic look and nutritional void of white-flour creations, or perhaps it just a way to justify eating more of my favorite flour-based foods: pancakes, muffins, breads, waffles, cookies, cakes, etc.

My usual approach is to replace from one-third to two-thirds of the white flour with King Arthur’s Organic White Wheat Flour, and I swear you’d never know it—if you’ve eaten pumpkin bread, zucchini bread, oatmeal cookies, any kind of muffin or chocolate chip cookies  at my house in the last few years, guess what—you had white wheat flour. But as your taste begins to stray away from plain white, it becomes even more fun to see what you can add. Pancakes, for example: I don’t use any white flour at all, but instead use white wheat or whole wheat flour mixed with a nutty, grainy colorful corn meal. Everyone in my house devours these. To muffins, I have a similiar routine: I add handfuls of rolled oats or oat bran, spoonfuls of ground flaxseed, wheat germ or flours ground from oats, barley or spelt. And when  baking bread with my trusty Zojirushi, I toss in handfuls of bulgur or millet to whatever my flour mix of the day might be.

However. I was fully ready to concede that SOME things, like my beloved croissants and fine-grained cupcakes and other desserts perform best without hearty, healthy ingredients in the mix. Until I received a copy of  Whole Grain Baking: Delicious Recipes Using Nutritious Whole Grains by King Arthur Flour.

I basically want to marry all of the King Arthur cookbooks, and this one is no exception. My willy-nilly approach to a handful here and there of nutrition booster is kid’s stuff compared to the fine kitchen science at work here. Sweet Plum Cake with Rum Frosting, Double Fudge Brownies, Nectarine Upsidedown Cake, Pull-Apart Cranberry Pecan Buns, Orange Cloud Pancakes, Caramel Blitz Torte, Chicken and Mushroom Pastry Pockets, Whole Grain Blitz Pastry Dough and yes, even my beloved Chocolate Croissants have a place in this book, and you won’t see any of them bulging with grains—the effect is subtle and the food is divine.

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Since I know whole grains can be intimidating, I’ll start you off slow:

Homemade Whole-Grain Pancake Mix

Photos courtesy of King Arthur’s Flour

  • 4 cups King Arthur white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 3 1/2 cups old-fashioned or rolled oats (the five-minute kind, not the quick-cook kind)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 cup safflower or canola oil

You make this mix, and then store it in the freezer, so you’ve got ready-made pancake mix in the house, without all the trans fats, corn syrup and other additives in the grocery store version. While we just usually make pancakes from scratch each time, I can’t figure out why I never thought to make it up ahead of time, brilliant!

To make the mix:

1) Grind the oats in a food processor until they’re chopped fine, but not a powder.

2) Put the flour, oats, and all other dry ingredients into a mixer with a paddle. Mix on slow speed, and drizzle the vegetable oil into the bowl slowly while the mixer is running.

3) Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks at room temperature, or indefinitely in the refrigerator or freezer.

To make pancakes:

1) Whisk together 1 cup of mix, 1 cup of buttermilk (you can use soured milk, but buttermilk gives noticeably superior results; a combination of half plain yogurt and half milk also will do), and 1 large egg. Don’t worry if it seems thin at first: the oats will soak up the milk, and the mix will thicken a bit as it stands. Let the batter stand for at least 20 minutes before cooking.

2) Heat a lightly greased griddle to 350°F (if you’ve got a griddle with a temperature setting; if not, medium-hot will do).

3) Drop the batter onto it in 1/4-cupfuls  to make a 4″ diameter pancake.

4) When the edges look dry and bubbles come to the surface without breaking (after about 2 minutes, if your griddle is the correct temperature), turn the pancake over to finish cooking on the second side, which will take about 2 minutes.

5) Serve pancakes immediately, or stack and hold in a warm oven.

Yield: a batch using one cup of the mix will make about eight 4″ pancakes.
Note: If you don’t have buttermilk in the house, but do have buttermilk powder, try this: In place of the buttermilk, add 2 tablespoons buttermilk powder to 1 cup of dry mix, then stir in 1/3 cup water and 1 large egg.
Variation: Add 1 tablespoon orange juice to the dry mix along with the buttermilk. The acidity and sweetness of the orange juice helps mellow the tannic taste some people perceive in whole wheat flour; while the pancakes won’t have any orange flavor, they may taste slightly milder to you, if you’re not a fan of whole wheat flour (but still want to get more whole grains into your diet).

  • If you’re not in the habit of having buttermilk around, reconsider: you can freeze leftover buttermilk, in 1-cup portions, for future batches of pancakes.
  • These pancakes hold in a low oven for half an hour without getting tough or rubbery, and they’re more than willing to act as a vehicle for any kind of fruit addition, such as peach, raspberry, banana-walnut,  blueberry and cranberry-apricot.
So, you say if you made it this far, never mind the pancakes, where’s that whole-grain chocolate croissant recipe?
You’ll have to find it for yourself—leave a comment below to be entered into a giveaway for their copy of Whole Grain Baking: Delicious Recipes Using Nutritious Whole Grains by King Arthur Flour, available from Countryman Press. Believe me, you WANT this book.
Winners will be announced next Friday, when I am back from my annual trip to Baker’s Mecca King Arthur’s Baker’s Store in Vermont.
Good luck!

Cute baby photos as filler?

February 19, 2009

I’ve been fortunate to be exceptionally busy with the photography side of my life, going to some fantastic workshops and conferences and meeting amazing people, but that doesn’t make me miss you any less, especially when I’m doing things like (yawn) working on contracts.

(On a side note, I can’t recommend the Spread the Love workshop enough—and it isn’t just for photographers. Look for it coming to a city near you this spring, but only if you want to be seriously inspired! And while we’re talking inspiration, I can recommend Phoenix wedding photographer Melissa Jill Hester—she does one-on-one mentoring over Skype, and I can’t tell you how much you can learn in one hour. She is hosting what looks like an amazing two-day workshop at her home in May, and I would love to be there!)

But anyway.

I have an amazing set on interview questions from Erin to answer, I want to catch up on all your blogs, I have a completely overdue awesome meme from Christina to post, I have some more amazing cookbooks to give you and if Henry would just sleep until 7 a.m. like the GOOD LORD  INTENDED I would get my morning blogging time back.

I just peeked at my stats, expecting to see, oh, five of you, and I cannot believe you are still with me. Your faith in me is touching, if undeserved, and I will try to be more present here, because I sure have missed it.

Can I interest you in a few more baby photos by way of apology?

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Henry, sitting on my lap, wants to know why “River gots no blanket and no toys?”

Good question, Henry.

Maybe Henry needs his own blog.

How to charm me

February 12, 2009

Tell me that you are going to be an astronaut when you grow up.

So you can save the world from MEDIATORS.

(I think he meant meteors. But maybe he knows something I don’t know.)

Will, age 4.5

Say hello to River

February 10, 2009

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I was so very glad to finally make the acquaintance of my new friend River this weekend. I say finally, because the young chap decided to go ten days past his due date, after we were all convinced that this child of preemies would come early himself.

And then it was two WHOLE weeks before I could go visit, so believe me when I tell you it was long awaited.

But so worth the wait.

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Nice work, Sarah & Rush.

Food Friday: Crockpot (Slow Cooker) Granola

February 6, 2009

First things first—we have a cookbook to give away!

The lucky winner of the EatingWell’s Making Comfort Food Healthy is, according to random.org, number 23!

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And the person who left comment #23 is Stacy—the uber mama, photographer, blogger, crafter,  seamstress, designer, artist, wine expert and chef—who I know will put this to good use, because she never sleeps. In fact, go to her blog right now, get the dish on polenta, because she is a Food Friday gal as well, and note that she had it posted at 5 a.m.  If you live in the midsection of the country, MAKE HER invite you to dinner to try something from this new cookbook. I plan to invite myself the next time I’m in her neck of the woods, right after I ask her to photograph my children and sew me a bag. Congratulations, Stacy, and for the rest of you, I have a fair number of these coming up, so stay tuned and thanks for playing!

And then today’s recipe. I’ve been making versions of this Crockpot Granola for several weeks now, and it disappears as fast as I can make it. I love that it is the ultimate recipe with forgiveness—it doesn’t matter what you put in, it all tastes good. I based mine loosely on the one I found at the fabulous site, A Year of Crockpotting, but have left the confines of that recipe far behind. You will too.

Crockpot Granola

To your crockpot add approximately:

5 cups oats (I get these in the organic bulk bins at Whole Foods, but am tempted to go bigger and get in serious bulk from my local co-op. Anyone want to split a giant bag with me? We put oats in everything—bread, muffins and we eat a lot of granola and oatmeal)

1/4 cup honey or maple syrup

1/4 cup canola oil (or melted butter)

1 T flax seeds, ground

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup slivered almonds (is that the right word? Slivered? The sliced thin ones are the ones you want)

1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds

Toss well, and cook on high for 3-4 hours, stirring often. Vent the lid slightly, so you don’t have moist and mushy granola

NOTE: with this ratio of honey and oil (or melted butter) your granola will be in cereal form, and not in clump form. If you are searching for clump-style granola, (and if you are, you are CERTAINLY a person who knows what they want in life)  you’ll need to add a total of 1 cup of honey and 1/2 cup of oil or melted butter. But we opt for the lower sugar, lower fat style and the fruit adds so much sweetness that you don’t miss the sugar.

Towards the end of the cooking time, add the fruit. If you add it too soon, it tends to stick and burn.

1/4 cup unsweetened coconut

1 cup dried fruit (I use raisins, cranberries and/or apricots, depending on what I have on hand.)

Remember, it will burn if you don’t stir regularly, but not the way oven-made granola can burn! There are tons of other things to add here, too,
other nuts, pumpkin seeds…any other ideas? This is also a good base for gorp or trail mix—then you get to add m&ms or chocolate chips and call it a snack.

It’s good warm or cold. I keep it in a large, wide-mouth glad jar with a screw-top lid. I don’t know how long it lasts, because it never lasts that long!

Hank & Willie’s Guide to Guaranteed Financial Stability

February 5, 2009

1) Buy stock in any company making exotic, hard-to-pronounce, very expensive antibiotics, particularly ones used to treat resistant ear infections in toddlers.

2) Watch your net worth SOAR.

3) Thank us.

I think Henry needs a reset button on 2009. He has had double ear infections that won’t clear since Christmas Eve, and as SOON as his last black eye healed, he fell ON THE BRICK FIREPLACE, OUCH and hit, you guessed it, the same eye. I didn’t have the heart to take any photos this time.

Oh, and it is seven degrees here this morning.

BUT WE SOLDIER ON.

Cookbook winner announced tomorrow, leave a comment in the cookbook post if you’d like a chance to win!