Cook Something Fun Day

shortcakeSundays have become “Cook Something Fun Day” at our house, so as the Packers threw away a brilliantly played half + one opening defensive stand in the third quarter while facing the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC championship, we were able to console ourselves with pizza muffins. On previous Sundays we have made homemade Italian meatballs, or Nachos. We have baked banana bread, chocolate chip cookies or brownies.

My daughter has always been interested in kitchens and restaurants. When she was younger, one of her favorite activities was playing restaurant. She would make menus, seat guests, take orders and serve “meals” of grapes, carrots and saltine crackers. I once asked her if she was going to be a chef when she grew up. She replied, “No, I’m going to own a restaurant.

Well, alrighty then. Continue reading “Cook Something Fun Day”

A Crockpot Treasure

blogMy dad was the consummate story teller, and one of my biggest frustrations at losing him is the rapidity at which I seem to be losing his stories. Just bits and snatches here and there—the gist remains, but the details that made the stories so wonderful escape my memory.

The lesson here is: Record the stories now. Write them down. Get them on video or digital format, whatever medium you can—just record them.

This weekend though, I discovered a treasure. While cleaning the basement, my husband found a letter that my dad sent me not long after Mom died. It contained one of those little anecdotes that had escaped my memory. I present it here now, as Dad wrote it, because I can only improve on his spelling and punctuation—not his storytelling.

The Crockpot

Since the passing of your mother, I have done some experimenting with preparing my own meals. There have been some mild successes and few failures. Continue reading “A Crockpot Treasure”

Warm Soft Ginger Cookes

iStock_000015672284XSmallA few weeks ago, my husband, daughter and I drove to Madison to do some furniture shopping. One of the furniture stores boasted a great play area, complete with books. On top of that, they offer hot, fresh-baked cookies.

“Any chocolate chip cookies?” my daughter asked enthusiastically.

“No, but I think you might really like these soft ginger cookies.” I recommended.

“Umm. They smell great.” She inhaled deeply and picked up a cookie.

“They’re great!”

I walked back to find my husband who was speaking with a salesperson and left my daughter with the plate of cookies. When we returned to the “kitchen” to check on her, she had this sheepish grin on her face and another cookie in her hand.

“How many?” I asked. Continue reading “Warm Soft Ginger Cookes”

Pepparkakor Kisses

Connecting in the ktichen.
The other night my husband munched one of the pepparkakor cookies that I had baked with the expert help our five year old daughter. When we crawled under the covers and kissed goodnight, I smiled. The cardamom,cinnamon, cloves and ginger put a little extra zing into our nighttime ritual. “Yum,” I said, “pepparkakor kisses.”

Pepparkakors are one of our holiday traditions. I learned of these delicious cookies the first time I met my husband’s parents. I walked into their home and was greeted with smiles, warm welcomes, and a kitchen full of home-baked cookies and sweets, the stars of which were the pepparkakors. I decided then that even if things didn’t work out between me and my husband-to-be, I was getting that recipe. Fortunately things worked out. Continue reading “Pepparkakor Kisses”

Apple Picking

Sometimes the best time is the one you have close to home, and on a luscious fall day like last Saturday, apple picking is the perfect activity. Our daughter had spent the week immersed in a unit centered on the theme of “apples” at school, so she was primed and ready to go when I mentioned the possibility of visiting an apple orchard for a day of fresh air and apple cider.

After our daughter’s swimming lesson, we donned our jeans, sweatshirts and sunglasses and headed for Edwards Apple Orchard in Poplar Grove, IL, just across the state line. Continue reading “Apple Picking”

Party Apples in the Kitchen

When you have a child, the kitchen pantry becomes a far more imaginative place. For instance mix a devil’s food cake with a little pudding, top it with crushed Oreos and add few gummy worms and you have “dirt”. Use vanilla pudding, crushed vanilla wafers and add Swedish fish and a cocktail umbrella, and you suddenly have a sandy beach. It’s not just desserts and snacks that get renamed and dressed up though. Want a healthy after school snack? Fill a celery stick with peanut butter and add a few raisins and you have “ants on a muddy log.”

Certainly at our house many staples have taken on new identities since our little one has become interested in foods and “cooking”. Continue reading “Party Apples in the Kitchen”

5 Tips for Building a Better Monkey…Bread

My daughter loves “monkey bread.” On the mornings when my daughter’s preschool is offering this as a special breakfast treat, I want to return to preschool and eat breakfast there. The smell of sweet bread is heavenly. So, when my daughter asked me one day after monkey bread had been offered (a rare treat on the breakfast menu), “Mama, can we have monkey bread for breakfast?”, I said “yes”.

Now, I never had monkey bread as a child, and I have never made monkey bread as an adult. So, when my internet search for monkey bread turned up the recipe I swallowed hard. “What had I promised my daughter?”

The recipe is sugar, more sugar and processed biscuit dough sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup.

Agghh. No wonder it’s a favorite breakfast of my daughter. It would be a favorite breakfast for me if I weren’t concerned about turning into a demented obese diabetic with clogged arteries by the time I’m 60.

So, after talking with some colleagues (also parents) and calming down a bit, I set out to make a better monkey bread. Continue reading “5 Tips for Building a Better Monkey…Bread”