Rocket Man!

My little fella is fascinated by space- astronauts and rocket ships in particular. He made a space ship out of cardboard boxes and wanted the baby and me to come in, but it was a little small. So I added a baby pod to his rocket

 But he still wanted me to come in, so I asked him if I could break down the boxes and try putting them together another way to make a biiiig space ship. He agreed, provided he could make himself a rocket man space costume. One roll of duct tape and every cardboard box in the house later and we have a deep space pod that fits the whole gang 

    
   

While I was breaking down and taping boxes together, he was making and testing his rocket man outfit. 

    
 When the big girls got home from school, they got in on the space fun too! 

  

  
 

Poached Salmon with Creamy Cucumber-Dill Salsa

  
This is another of my mom’s recipes that she claims I now make better than she does. I just think everything tastes better when someone else makes it for you. It is delicious when the salmon is warm, and also when chilled on top of a bed of greens with the salsa as dressing.

Poached Salmon 

 

  1. 2 filets salmon- I’m conflicted about fish and where it comes from. I don’t eat it often, and get overwhelmed by figuring out what options are the most healthful/sustainable. Buy fish that goes with your conscience on farmed/wild caught etc.
  2. Small sweet onion, roughly chopped.
  3. 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped(leafy bits are fine)
  4. 1/4 cup mirin or white wine
  5. Water to cover salmon in a large shallow pot.

Place all ingredients in a large, shallow pot. Being to a simmer and allow to simmer 15 minutes. Remove salmon to a plate, discard water and veggies.

Creamy Cucumber Dill Salsa 

 

  1. 2-3 Persian cucumbers, diced
  2. Juice of one small lemon (2T ish)
  3. 1/2 cup sour cream (you can use yogurt if you really want to, but sour cream is better)
  4. 1  1/2 tsp dried dill
  5. 1/2 tsp garlic salt (you can use a large clove of fresh garlic, crushed, but keep in mind the garlic taste will grow stronger and sharper with time so your salsa will not taste the same after a night in the fridge)
  6. 1/2 tsp salt
  7. Several generous grinds of pepper

Mix sour cream with lemon juice and all following ingredients. When well mixed, stir in cucumber. Cover and refrigerate until ready to eat. Stir again before serving.

    Stir-Fried Cabbage with Turmeric and Mustard Seeds

    In my experience, people either love cabbage/cruciferous vegetables or they don’t. I’m emphatically on the love end of the spectrum, and cabbage is one of my favorites. This preparation, another taught to me by my mom, is my favorite way to eat cooked cabbage.  

    Stir-fried Cabbage with Turmeric and Mustard Seeds

    1. 1/2 head cabbage, chopped in 3/4″ strips
    2. 2t mustard seeds
    3. 1T olive oil
    4. 2t turmeric 
    5. 1/2 tsp salt
    6. 1t sugar

    Place olive oil and mustard seeds in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat.

     When the mustard seeds start to pop and bounce around, add the turmeric and stir for a minute. Lower heat to medium.

      

    Add your cabbage and stir until coated with oil and turmeric. Stir and fry until soft, adding a tablespoon of water if the spice mixture starts sticking to the bottom of the pan. After 5-8 minutes, sprinkle salt and sugar over cabbage, stir, cover, and allow to cook for 5 minutes until golden and carmelized.

    Makes a lovely side dish, but honestly I could probably eat a skilletfull plain!  

    Cheater Posole Verde

      
    I had never had or even heard of posole until this year- I love being introduced to something new-to-me and delicious. A lovely mom at my son’s preschool brought me a big jar of homemade posole verde after I had my littlest daughter this fall. I ate the whole quart and savored every slurp! Then of course tried to find a recipe to replicate it. Much like chicken soup, it seems every family has a different way of making this dish, so I frankensteined a bunch of recipes with what I had on hand to make this. Not as authentic and amazing as my friend Jen’s post-partum offering, but warming and tasty nonetheless

    Cheater Posole Verde

    1. Leftover chicken, shredded(I used dark meat from a roasted chicken that was left after the white became chicken salad)
    2. 1 onion, diced 
    3. 4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
    4. 1 T olive oil
    5. 1/2 tsp cumin
    6. 25 oz can hominy
    7. 1/2. Jar (3 ish T) mole verde
    8. 4 cups chicken broth
    9. Salt & Pepper
    10. Toppings- shredded cheese, shredded cabbage, lime wedges, sliced radishes, fresh cilantro, avocado… You get the idea.

    Heat olive oil in a large pot on the stove. Cook onion until softened, then add garlic and stir until you can smell the garlic. Add the mole paste and cumin and stir/fry until it is soft and fragrant. Pour in your broth and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer, add hominy and chicken and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Ladle into bowls and top as you like!

    My Sister’s Skillet Cornbread

      
    My eight-year-old hopped in the car at pick up and said, “I’m hungry for Aunt Katie’s cornbread! Can we make some when we get home?” And you know I’m always happy to answer yes to any question that involves baking, so we got home and got started!  

     My sister’s recipe is easy, delicious, and the number one reason I bought a cast iron skillet as a 20-something.  

     As I always do, I’ve tinkered a bit with her original recipe, but it will always be Katie’s Cornbread to me!

    Katie’s Skillet Cornbread

    1. 1 cup all purpose flour
    2. 1 cup corn flour (you can use corn meal, but finely ground corn flour makes for a more moist, cake-like bread)
    3. 1 T baking powder
    4. 1 tsp salt
    5. 3 T sugar
    6. 1/4 cup oil
    7. 2 eggs
    8. 1& 1/4 cup buttermilk (or milk with 1T lemon juice stirred in if you haven’t got buttermilk)
    9. 1/2 tsp baking soda
    10. 4T butter

    Pre-heat oven to 400. Stir baking soda into buttermilk in a small bowl and set aside. Whisk together 2 flours, baking powder & salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl whisk together eggs, sugar, and oil. Whisk in buttermilk mixture. Add dry ingredients and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until just combined. It will still be lumpy. Melt butter in a cast iron (or other ovenproof) skillet over medium-high heat until it foams. Swirl it around to coat the sides of the pan. Pour in batter and transfer pan to hot oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

    It is plenty buttery for me right out of the skillet, but the kids like an extra slab of pasture butter melted on top. 

     She said it hit the spot!

    Hello, Dolly: Part 2

    The baby obliged with another good nap in her crib when the others were at school, so I had a chunk of time to work on my rag doll. I stuffed her legs firmly  with small pieces of wool stuffing(I’ve learned my lesson before, rushing and ending up with a lumpy or floppy doll). Then I sewed the legs to the unstuffed body per the book’s instructions 

     Then I continued to patiently stuff the doll body with small tufts of stuffing, packing them into the corners with my chopstick until the doll felt nice and sturdy. I whip stitched up the stuffing hole in the back and marked the placement of eyes and mouth with pins, then stitched away! 

     I must say I’m pretty happy with her face. Those star stitches are just dreamy as eyes. I decided to give her soft pink hair cut from a cashmere maternity sweater that was hole-y and felted from the wash. The hair is one area where the book could give more guidance in the way of pictures of the back of the dolls’ heads. I went with vertical strips around the back of the doll’s head, and one horizontal one along the top to cover the overlapping strips. 

        
     The baby woke up at this point, so here I am 

     All ready to stitch down the rest of her hair and start working on clothes and accessories.

    Hello, Dolly: Part 1

      
    I love rag dolls. I’ve taken several workshops and made numerous Waldorf-style dolls since I had children. Of course none of my children has shown the slightest bit of interest in them, and I’m constantly rescuing them from the floor and lovingly re-dressing and tucking them into a basket or on a shelf. Here’s hoping my 5 month-old turns out to be a doll-lover. 

    I became an admirer of Jess Brown’s whimsical handmade dolls in their gorgeous Liberty and Erica Tanov-print clothes, with their starry eyes and heart-shaped lips, the moment I first encountered one in my favorite San Francisco shop, Nest, at least 10 years ago. Over the years, I was always happy to run into one in other lovely, quirky shops in the Bay Area. If a Jess Brown doll held court in a store, chances are it was my kind of place. Imagine my delight to find that she has published a book with Chronicle, complete with a pattern for a pint-sized version of her iconic doll! I had the book in hand and got started as soon as I could. 

    I traced the pieces for the doll from the pattern sheet included with the book

     Pinned them to pressed, undyed muslin

     
    And started sewing  
    It is a pattern without too many pieces or fiddly bits, but it does require paying attention to the directions and being “careful and patient” especially when turning those long, slim arms right side out!

    I was able to get this far before the baby woke up from her nap: 

     I’ll pop in with another installment as soon as I sneak some time in the sewing room!

    Chicken to the Rescue 3.5: Simple Chicken Salad

    Last post about chicken, I promise(well, for this week anyway). While chicken with dumplings is delicious comfort food, when the weather gets warmer sometimes I want something different. My dad was the master of chicken salad- after we had roast chicken, I could always find him in the kitchen, picking every last bit of good meat off the bones and then dicing them extra small with tiny cubes of celery for the next day’s lunch of chicken salad. It seems like something anyone who has had leftover chicken probably knows how to make, but I bet everyone does it a little different, so I’ll share my favorite(and maybe if you have favorite additions, you can share them in the comments).

    Simple Chicken Salad

    1. Leftover chicken, cut into 1″ ish chunks- I prefer to use just the white meat but do what you like.
    2. 3 stalks celery, halved lengthwise and chopped into small pieces
    3. 1 tart green apple or a handful of grapes, apple cored and diced small, grapes halved or quartered if extremely large.
    4. 3T mayonnaise (use yogurt if you MUST, but don’t serve it to me if you do)
    5. Generous salt&pepper

    Place chicken, celery, and apples and/or grapes in a bowl. Sprinkle salt and generous grinds of pepper.  

     Plop in your mayonnaise and stir it all together. Taste to see if it needs more salt or pepper or mayo. I like to make a big bed of greens, put on a nice scoop of this and drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette. It is also yummy on toasted raisin bread! 

     

    Chicken To The Rescue 3: Chicken With Dumplings

    Remember the leftover meat from that chicken you roasted? Here’s where you get another delicious, healthy, from-scratch meal out of it that is easy but different enough to please anyone in your house who doesn’t like to eat the same thing twice in a row. I started with Martha’s recipe, but adapted to use roasted chicken instead of raw chicken.  

     Follow Martha’s recipe until she adds the chicken to the sauce. Just simmer 5 minutes until the chill is off your chicken, as it is already fully cooked. You can head straight to the dumplings and make yourself a quicker dinner.

     Drop your blobs of dumpling dough on the simmering chicken and vegetables and cover: 
    Cook for 20 minutes covered until your dumplings are plump and cooked through 

      Yum! Serve in bowls with a salad or some steamed green vegetables on the side. Comforting and warm, plus any leftovers heat nicely in the microwave for lunch tomorrow.

    Chicken to the Rescue 2: Rich Stock

    Remember your carrot peelings and fennel fronds and cores? Those celery leaves and chicken bones? You get to use them to make something that is truly more than the sum of its parts and will make you feel good about yourself for using every last scrap of your food!  

      Rich Chicken Stock

    1. Chicken carcass & bones, plus any veggies inside cavity
    2. Raw onion roughly chopped
    3. 2 ribs celery, celery leaves etc chopped
    4. 2 carrots, roughly chopped
    5. Fennel fronds, cores, any other veggie tops or clean peelings or leftover bits 
    6. 3 bay leaves
    7. 3 quarts water

    Chuck it all into your slow cooker and set to low for 20 hours. If you think of it, you can cruise by after 8-10 hours and use a potato masher to smush the bones and release extra gelatinous goodness, then cover and keep cooking. When you are done it will be all gorgeous and a golden caramel color 

     Strain through a fine mesh sieve to get out bones and veggie bits, store in jars in the fridge. You can skim off the fat when it cools if you like(I don’t mind it). It is truly a cut above any broth I’ve had. I’ll drink it plain when feeling under the weather, and it is a fabulous base for vegetable, chicken or any other soup you can name!