What a week, right? My prayers are going out to the people of Boston and West, Texas. I hope the week can end with the succesful conclusion of the search going on in Boston right now (stay safe, Beantown peeps!). I’ve been trying (somewhat successfully) to distract myself.
First, you may have noticed (or not!) that Savour Fare is looking a little different. After nearly four years with the same header, I thought it was time for a bit of a refresh. I’m a one woman show – tech, design, writing, photography – so it’s all me. Let me know if you have any feedback!
Second, here are a few things I’ve found that I think you’d love, too.
The weather is getting warm in LA which means I start craving Mexican food like nobody’s business. I stopped on my way home last night to pick up fish tacos for dinner (SO GOOD), and my meal plan for the week seems to be featuring cumin quite heavily. It should be warm enough to eat outside this weekend, and that means I’m going to make some of this classic guacamole. You should make some too!
I’ve stopped reading the news (except for opinion pieces about work-life balance, natch. And Jonathan Gold’s restaurant reviews) and this week is a perfect example of why. I can’t take the grimness, and the 24-hour news cycle puts enough pressure on the news outlets that we get a lot of both sensationalism and misreporting (I’m looking at you, CNN). I still want to be an informed person, though – don’t you? I can’t live entirely with my head in the sand. That’s why I was thrilled to learn about The Skimm. It sends a news summary to your inbox every day, so you know the basics of current events without the speculation and sensationalism. It’s written in a very chatty style, so easy to read, but it’s blessedly free of commentary.
I’m probably the last person on earth to write about this, but I loved the 100 Rules of Dinner over at Dinner: A Love Story. While some of them are clearly wrong (Really? I can think of lots of things worse than grilled vegetables) some of them are so, so, right. My favorite: “If you care about what other people think about you and your parenting abilities, it is important that your kids only ask for their water “on the rocks” at home.” It totally inspires me to write my own rules of dinner. Rules like “Parmesan cheese is almost always a good idea” and “If you have eggs in the house, you can always make dinner” and “When traffic is bad, there’s no shame in takeout.” What would yours be?
Speaking of planning and list-making, I have to recommend the family calendar, Cozi. It’s an app and a web-based service, which means I can add things to the calendar even if my phone is out of batteries. You can color code activities for different members of the family, sync it with Outlook, and it even emails you your schedule at the beginning of the week. With the Nuni in Kindergarten this year, Bootsy in daycare across town, and both of us working, it’s a family salvation.
And speaking of apps, I recently discovered the completely awesome site Appolearning. Both of my kids are all over both my iphone and the ipad all the time. I’m not averse to a little screen time (I mean, I write a BLOG. How hypocritical would that be?) but I want it to be educational. Now that the Nuni is in Kindergarten and reading, all those preschool apps seem babyish for her, but it’s hard to find age-appropriate apps that can actually help her learn things (that she wants to play). Appolearning is a Godsend. It has scores of educational apps, reviewed by experts (like teachers) with a numerical score and a detailed breakdown of what the app offers and the skills it teaches, with ratings on things like kid-appeal, clear instructions, value and safety/privacy. I know this is a resource I’m going to be using a lot as the Nuni grows and Bootsy gets to the point where he wants to do more with my phone than just eat it.
Have a fantastic weekend, chickadees!
The Nuni, lucky child that she is, gets read to every night before bed. We started with board books, then moved on to picture books. Right around the time she was three, I decided that if I had to continue reading Fancy Nancy every night, I might actually die of boredom. At around the same time, the Nuni was commuting with me to preschool for over two hours a day, and had grown tired of Broadway musicals. I turned to chapter books – a great love of mine in both childhood and adulthood. We listened to audiobooks in the car, and read a chapter (or half a chapter) at bedtime. Picture books are wonderful, but chapter books are where the love of literature is really born. These are some of our favorite series to listen to and read together. Since the Nuni is a girly girly girl, she likes hearing stories about girls, and all of these feature strong, independent and interesting girls to draw in my fearless daughter. (NOTE: Links are Affiliate links which means I may get about 4 cents from Amazon if you click on them. You know the drill)
Continue reading Chapter Book Series for Young Girls
Bootsy is now nine months old (look at those teeth!), which means he’s been out for as long as he’ve been in. I, for one, refuse to believe it. In my mind, he’s still a tiny, snuggly, helpless newborn. He, on the other hand, has a fondness for lasagna, wants to be walking more than anything else, and is pretty much ready to move out next week. Having a second baby, nearly five years after my first, was a learning experience. I felt like I had forgotten so much hard-won wisdom. On the other hand (and don’t all second time moms say this?) I was much more relaxed with Bootsy than I was with the Nuni. I stepped away from the parenting articles and books and shoulds and “did yous” and was much happier for it. (As an aside, this parenting article by JJ Keith at HuffPo was maybe the best one I read, ever. You should read it. Especially if you’re in the pregnancy and infancy trenches).
One of the main differences of mamadom, round 2, is that I didn’t buy everything in sight because I thought I needed it. The Nuni in utero got a fully decorated and fully stocked nursery. I learned my lesson when Bootsy came along, though, and we started minimally. Bootsy gets changed on the bed (we’ve only had to change the sheets twice as a result of underdeployed washcloths) and sleeps in a pack and play (it works at home AND on the road), but here are a few innovations in baby gear that have impressed me this time around that I wanted to share with you. (Note: Links are affiliate links, but all the recommendations come from my own sweet self.)
Continue reading Genius Baby Product Recommendations From a Second Time Mom
I’ve been working on quite a baking project. It took months of effort, and the result weighed in at a whopping seven pounds, nine ounces. I think the finished dish is pretty photogenic though, what do you think?
Meet William. Aka Roo, Squeaker Jones, Minikin, Mr. Man and Silent Bill. So far, much to his big sister’s disappointment, he doesn’t do much, but Boy is a champion eater, which pleases his mama.
Not doing a ton of cooking right now, but I hope to be back in the kitchen soon.
The Nuni as a baby
So guess what I’m doing today? I’m off having a baby! I’ve set the camera to auto, so hopefully I’ll be back soon with pictures, but in the meantime, I wanted to leave you with a guest post by my wise and wonderful friend from law school Cat. Cat has shiny hair to rival Kate Middleton’s (maybe it goes with the name) and is a fantastic writer. She still considers herself a novice cook, but wanted to tell you about her cooking inspiration, and I thought today of all days this would be appropriate!
Cooking for Baby
Catherine Cugell Rombeau
When Kate graciously invited me to guest-blog here on Savour Fare, I pitched myself as an outside voice: someone who doesn’t cook, posting on a cooking blog! Oh, the anarchy of it all. But what else did I have? I am not a good cook. I salivate over the food porn on here as often as anyone, but at the end of the day, I end up setting the water to boil for Annie’s Organic. And I am a fearful cook, which may be the worst kind. I measure obsessively, am afraid to substitute, and have an unfortunate tendency to pull things out of the oven just a little too early. Once in a while I will venture into slow-cooker land, but I have to be feeling particularly girded.
When I got pregnant, I did consider that my current culinary acumen wouldn’t manage to keep our child alive once she joined us on the outside. But I figured I had plenty of time before she needed real food. And didn’t reading food blogs count as preparation? Turns out, though, that many folks feel very strongly that unless you scrub, peel, steam and puree every morsel that goes into your beloved babe’s mouth, you are one sorry excuse for a parent. I have a knee-jerk reaction to this sort of dogma; it makes me want to push Ellie’s stroller right up to the McDonald’s drive-through already. I was determined to dig in my heels: my daughter wasn’t going to miss out on any life-altering culinary experiences just because I didn’t mash up her yams myself.
And yet, somehow, I’ve ended up making all of Ellie’s baby food after all. I know it doesn’t actually count as real cooking, but I’m still sort of astounded by my enthusiasm for it. To the great skepticism of my husband, I went and bought one of those baby food processors to steam and puree all of Ellie’s fruits and vegetables in one easy little machine. And I actually use it! All the time! Unlike, say, the mixer taking up space on our kitchen counter, or the bread maker hiding in our basement (what can I say, my husband did our wedding registry). I’m not sure why–so I can claim the moral high ground? Save money on store-bought options? Conserve time by freezing trays worth of food at once? Use up leftovers? Maybe all of those hold some truth (bananas going bad? Smoosh them up for Ellie, she won’t know any better!). But I think in some small way, making Ellie’s food myself has allowed me to connect with her and with the safest edges of cooking, without feeling so afraid.
My parents didn’t cook much for us. Anyone remember Steak-Ums? Staple of my childhood diet. I often feel at sea in the kitchen, without instinct or experience telling me how long to bake or how much spice to use (note to self–do not double cayenne pepper just because you are doubling the rest of a jambalaya recipe). But it’s nearly impossible to screw up pureeing peas. And when I feed them to Ellie, and she smacks her lips in appreciation, I think: I did this! I made something that fills my daughter! I can take care of her! Somehow it gives me hope that I can come up with 18 years’ worth of meals for her that don’t necessarily consist of Velveeta Shells & Cheese (well, not every night anyway), and that Ellie will be more excited to try new and unconventional foods than I ever was. Perhaps she will not be 24 years old and have to move to Manhattan before she tries sushi, for instance. And maybe one day we will cook together. Today, steamed and blended broccoli, tomorrow, mother-daughter dinner parties for 12! Or maybe I’ll settle for baking her a first birthday cake that doesn’t collapse in the middle. Baby steps.