Homemade marshmallows! 

Yesterday, Tom made a batch of peppermint marshmallows, and this morning he and the kids cut them up and put them away for the big all-school family camping trip we have coming up in June.

Here are the kids, supervising Tom cutting the candy after breakfast and getting wee tastes (and larger tastes).

Then once Baxter’s sugar level no longer allowed him to sit in a chair, he whizzed off to get into mischief and Amelia finally begged to help long enough that we let her get her hands “dirty.”

Bet you wish you were coming camping with us! 🙂

Ripe strawberries

 I got half a flat of ripe strawberries at the Milwaukie Farmers Market today and just made 5 jars of freezer jam using Altom Brown’s recipe*. I love how easy and fresh-tasting freezer jam is — I hope I can keep making it all summer long, as each new fruit come into season! The freezer jam took half a flat, and we’ll eat the rest in oatmeal, packed lunches, and smoothies over the next week. Yay, spring! 

*With apologies to Mr. Brown, I admit I subbed 1-1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar for the 1/2 tsp black pepper he calls for in his recipe. The kids can detect any hint of pepper in anything, and then objections are made. 

My new cookbook, and reflections on Make Your Own Dinner night

I bought myself a little something.  IMG_5421
I have just about cooked Time for Dinner — of which Jenny Rosenstrach was one of three authors — into oblivion. It’s my most-recommended cookbook to anyone with kids. Things needed freshening up on the meal plan around here, so I picked up one of Jenny’s newer books. If you don’t already read her blog, Dinner A Love Story, I suggest you add it to your food blog rotation, pronto.

I’ve cooked two recipes this week from Dinner: The Playbook, and they’ve been very well-received! The Slow-Cooker Korean Short Ribs were a huge hit, and the whole house smelled amazesauce all day because of the crockpot. I made sesame broccoli to go alongside, and served it over the Goya-infused rice I made for beans-and-rice night the day before. Yumtastic! Amelia had thirds. It makes a lot of meat, so I froze the leftovers to use later in Lettuce Hand Rolls (also known as “make your own dinner”) next week. I do like a flexible prepared protein!

Then on Wednesday night I made the chorizo tacos. I used a really mild Longaniza for the chorizo, actually, since my kids are horrified by anything spicy ( and it was the only link style chorizo I could find at the grocery store).

This was a minefield of “I don’t like that” for the kids — avocado, raw cabbage, and yogurt sauces are all highly suspect among my littles — but I tried something new and it was brilliantly successful. I assembled a taco with all the ingredients (made them watch), took a bite, made appropriate yummy noises, and then offered them each a bite of my taco. They both liked the bite they took, and when I offered to make them a taco just like mine (with all the “icky” components!), they eagerly said yes. They both ate the whole taco I made for them, and then they started making their own combinations. Did those combinations include avocado, raw cabbage, and yogurt sauce? No. But they got to taste how all of the ingredients work together, and I think that’s a win. 🙂

 The concept of “make your own dinner” is one I adopted from Time for Dinner.  I put a bunch of bowls of ingredients on the table, and everyone can assemble their own perfect meal — is a huge hit with my family. It exposes the kids to lots of flavors but reduces the amount of New Food left on their plates. We do multiple versions of this now: lettuce hand rolls, as mentioned, tostadas (which we had last night), baked potato bar, sesame noodles… and I think I’ll add the chorizo tacos to our rotation with a few edits (I’m the only one in my house who likes corn tortillas, put a bowl of cheese out and maybe some refried beans). If you have a table full of picky eaters at your house, I highly recommend “make your own dinner” night in all its many guises. It does produce more dishes than simply plating the kids’ food in the kitchen, and that is a total drawback, but I think it’s worth it.