Breakfast for Days

I love to cook and bake, but I also like to do other stuff(like knit and sleep), so when I make something that takes a bit of effort and mess, I like it to last for more than one meal. Waffles are a case in point: always delicious, always a hit, but a bit more time consuming than buttered toast. Enter my favorite kitchen tool the Cuisinart Griddler which makes the best grilled steak and chicken tenders indoors, and with the optional waffle plates makes  multiple waffles at once a snap. I use Martha’s recipe and add a scoop or two of vanilla whey protein powder to give them a bit more nutritional oomph  

Of course the batter makes a giant stack even my gang can’t get through in one meal, so I stack them up, separated by waxed paper, then wrap in foil and freeze. Super easy to throw in the toaster anytime. 

We also like bacon, but I can’t be standing over the darn pan flipping and watching. Meet my friend oven-cooked bacon: 

 Line a rimmed baking sheet with heavy duty foil and lay out your bacon. Heat your oven to 400 and pop the bacon in. Check and rotate your pan after 10 minutes. Assess done-ness and give another 5 if not crispy enough, repeat in 5-minute increments until done to your liking, and drain on paper-towel-lined plates. I cook the entire package, and like the waffles, I wrap the leftovers, refrigerate and then crisp in the toaster oven for another meal. Yum!

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Hanging With Permie Poppins

Around the corner from the magical preschool my son attends, and my older daughters graduated from, there is a hillside permaculture paradise. At this Hillside Homestead, their former garden teacher Allison provides amazing small group garden sessions, full of mud and digging and picking and eating and making natural dyes and feeding goats and other wonders I couldn’t have imagined growing up as a city child. My son goes twice a week after school, and my daughters had a chance to spend the morning there with a friend who also has the week off. They made the very most of it! Allison is wonderful about sharing photos and videos of their adventures, the first photo is hers:  
 We always send extra clothes because thanks to the winter rain there is serious mud play to be had.

There’s also a giant African tortoise named Kitty across the street who we joined Allison to visit and feed after pick up  

 
 
Of course we had to wash our hands after tortoise petting, so Allison taught us about this amazing California native tree whose blossoms act like soap and make cleansing lather when mixed with water and friction.

   
   
  Knowing Allison (aka Permie Poppins) is a gift for both my children and me- she is so generous with her copious knowledge about flora and fauna. Not to mention the bounty from the hillside garden where she teaches- the source of my rhubarb and many other local fruit and veggie treasures. Today she sent us home with gorgeous chard and a rooted rose geranium my eldest daughter planted in her garden(to give it he best chance for survival!). And my lucky little fellow gets to go tomorrow!
 

Brushstrokes 

My big girls have the week off from school, while the little fellow’s preschool is still in session- staycation time! One of my favorite destinations for school vacation is Brushstrokes. The big girls especially love the magic of glaze, and I’ll take any excuse to make something too- our family birthday cake plate, my favorite coffee mug, and the kids’ breakfast tea pot are all products of various vacation outings to the studio. This visit was as inspiring as ever.

The eldest painted an initial to hang on the baby’s wall(so sweet) 
My animal-loving daughter painted a china puppy and a China hedgehog
  
And I made a set of whimsical salt and pepper shakers(somehow we only have plastic salt and pepper grinders in our house!)

 
I used to object to the cost of painting studios, but considering that a movie ticket is around $10, and the obligatory movie snacks run pretty pricey, a trip to paint doesn’t cost much more, and a week later you have something lovely to remind you of your vacation! I’m already planning the butter dish I want to paint on our next visit…

Spring Saturday

Despite being a California transplant for nearly 20 years, I am always joyfully surprised by the way spring arrives in February. After a dry few years, this spring is finally the lush, green season I remember, and we took advantage of the sun and warmth to spend a lazy Saturday morning in the garden.

  
We picked some gloriously scented flowers(which come back yearly despite my decidedly brown thumb) and painted their portrait, then invested some hopeful time in planting seeds   

   

My eldest daughter has a resolutely green thumb, so I should probably have her plant everything, but I couldn’t resist scattering some California poppy seeds on a patch of soil, and pressing some nasturtiums into an empty raised bed. Fingers crossed. Do your job, little friend!

 

 

Zoodles!

  
I love a good food trend. Chipotle chiles in adobo? Thank you, Martha. Zatar? Sumac? Oh Yotam. So of course I was intrigued the spiralizer madness going on in my Pinterest and Instagram feeds this fall. I got a complicated Austrian one I’m too afraid to remove from the box, then on a whim ordered this super simple oxo one. I LOVE it! Of course I’ve only spiralized zucchini so far but the noodles it makes are super thrilling and more fun and tasty to eat than most pasta(which, let’s face it, is usually just a bland vehicle for rich sauce anyway). My adventuresome eater loves it too- she slurped up a bowl of zoodles sautĂ©ed with homemade radish leaf and pistachio pesto I had intended for her father.

  
I’m looking forward to trying sweet potatoes in a cream sauce, and making salads or summer rolls with raw beets and cucumbers etc… I’ll keep you posted.

Dude Date: Cookies

  
My two oldest children are capable, outspoken girls, and I grew up going to all-girls’ school, in a home with a strong mother and sister. As a result, we had a sad few months around our house recently in which my son proclaimed, “I want to be a girl! Girls are better than boys.” Mind you, if he was genuinely gender dysmorphic at age 3 of course I’d support that, but given his general disposition and interests, it was pretty clear we had just been overdoing the girl power message in our house! 

Dude dates to the rescue- my son’s preschool is closed on Mondays, so we’ve developed a routine of having between 1-3 other little dudes come and play while the big girls are at school. The little fella gets to run around and yell and enjoy doing dude stuff with other little dudes that is just right for him(though I almost started crying when I encountered the mess in our living room today- the girls never seem to do quite so much in the way of wanton distruction…)

I also adore his friends’ mothers, so it is a big win for me too. Usually we just let the little fellows wreak havoc while we chat, but today we set up an activity in honor of Valentine’s Day- decorating sugar cookies!   

  My favorite sugar cookie recipe is a bit fiddly, but always turns out both decoratable and eminently edible.
Sugar Cookies

  1. 1&1/4 stick butter, soft
  2. 1/2 cup sugar
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1/4 tsp salt
  5. 2 cups flour 

Heat oven to 350. Put butter and sugar in bowl of a food processor and blitz until combined. Add egg and process until smooth. Add flour and salt all at once and pulse until it comes together in clumps. Dump out on some wax or parchment paper, gather into a ball, split in half and press halves into discs. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 30 minutes if you can. If you are in a hurry, generously flour your work surface and roll out the dough between two sheets of wax or parchment paper(this helps even with the chilled dough!). Roll out as thin as you can(1/4 inch is nice), and cut with floured cookie cutters. Bake 10 minutes. 

I made white icing and my friend did some serious food coloring mixing magic to turn it the lovliest colors. It actually did harden and get glossy on the cookies that managed to hang around long enough!

  
  
Of course we saved enough of everything so that the girls could make some after school. My oldest daughter blew us all out of the water with her bird cookie!

 

Sugar Cookie Icing- not for lovers of precision

  1. 1cupish of confectioners sugar
  2. Splash of milk
  3. Corn syrup
  4. 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract

Stir together sugar,  vanilla, and a splash(3 teaspoonish) milk. Add corn syrup until it is the consistency you like. Ours was thin enough to drizzle from a skewer onto a cookie, but thick enough not to just run off the edges entirely once it was on there. Play around adding sugar and corn syrup until you get there.

The Best Banana Bread

 Is actually mini banana muffins with chocolate chips in them! We host an informal playgroup on Mondays and purely by coincidence i had overripe bananas and made these two weeks in a row. Now one of the little dudes requests them every time he comes to our house!

  
Banana mini muffins

  1. 2-3 ripe bananas, mashed
  2. 1/2 cup sugar
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1/4 cup melted butter
  5. 1 1/2 cups flour
  6. 1 tsp baking soda
  7. 1/2 tsp salt
  8. Lots of chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350. Mixed mashed bananas with sugar, then add egg and melted butter. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together, then add dry ingredients to wet and stir until combined. Stir in chocolate chips, then scoop into mini muffin tins lined with paper muffin cups(or very generously greased-these are sticky muffins!). Bake for 15-20 minutes, until brown and a skewer comes out clean! 

Rhubarb madness

  
Despite growing up in the northeast, I had never tried rhubarb until I signed up for a CSA box in San Francisco. I had no idea what to do with it, so defaulted to strawberry rhubarb pie. Rhubarb and I have come so far together since then… I’ve stewed it, made crumbles, galettes, but my very favorite thing to do with rhubarb is this cake

  
It sort of counts as breakfast, or snack, as it isn’t overly sweet. But it is a hit with the whole family!

A Word From The Milkpillow

Welcome! As the mother of four children from the age of 4 months to 8 years, I only recently realized that a large part of my function for the better part of the last decade is to be the milkpillow(apparently a woman loses brain mass when she has children, who knew?). But in addition to my milk-giving and cuddling properties, I also like to make lots of creative messes with the children who don’t need me so much for milk. We make things and try things out every day, and the point of this low-tech, low-stress blog is to share them, along with anything else neat that happens or comes to mind.