Friday, November 28, 2014

Hope it was a Happy Thansgiving

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving shared with family and friends. We headed out to a cousin's little ranch with some sheep, chickens, one horse, 2 cats and a dog. Nothing like eating good homemade Thanksgiving classics made by the people who raised the food themselves. This time of year is beautiful in the Phoenix area, and we were able to eat outside under a long covered porch. Our two little girls just played and played for hours outside. It was just the type of day I had hoped for.

Mashed potatoes in process (with the compost bowl in background)

We were responsible for the mashed potatoes and the sweet potatoes. This year I tried cooking the potatoes with the skins on, and then used the ricer to help remove the last of the skins. It took a while to rice 10 pounds of potatoes, but I think it was worth it. Making large quantities of mashed potatoes is a workout! I thought that it's a good thing I'm hauling around a 30 pound toddler all the time, or I might have gotten worn out.  I used this recipe for the potatoes and this one for the sweet potatoes (but I cut out the brown sugar and subbed pecans for the walnuts. I love the combo of the orange zest and sweet potatoes).

We are extending our celebration to today, and cooking a turkey and making more sides and having another family over for dinner. They have two boys roughly the same age as our girls. It will be interesting to see how it goes. Today we are making turkey, gravy, stuffing, cranberry relish, green beans, brussels sprouts and more sweet potatoes. I love all of this food, and I'm looking forward to another feast today.

These celebrations always remind me of those who aren't here to celebrate with us. My dad always made the mashed potatoes and cranberry relish for Thanksgiving, so I've made sure to make them each year in his honor. This is my third Thanksgiving doing it solo. Hard to believe that that much time has passed, but it's amazing how doing the ricing, the mashing, the chopping - those physical movements - bring back strong memories of past Thanksgivings and help keep him close. That's the reason we have traditions.

I better get cooking.... Enjoy those leftovers!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Tips on Traveling with Small Children- Day of Travel

Part 2 of a series on traveling with kids. Part 1 was Preparing Young Children for Travel.

We are preparing for a trip to New York City this Friday and it has gotten us thinking about different travel tips we have heard and tried. Now I'm not an expert, and my kids are far from easy going, laid back travelers (here's a post on their delightful behavior while away and with company), but here are some things that have worked for us on the day of travel with our two daughters.

Some well traveled car seats.

First of all, the actual traveling is always easier than I expect, so try to put those fears aside. With some planning I think it can be fun (most of the time) for everyone. I find airplane travel to be easier than car travel. On an airplane you get to sit together and can do things together such as read books, color, play games etc. Plus, you can even walk around and use the bathroom (some of the time). I find car travel a bit trickier because generally the parents are in the front and the kids are in the back, and when they start getting antsy the adults have to debate how soon to stop yet again. I think trains are the best mode of transportation of all, but sadly they often aren't an easy option for our destinations.

Suggestions for the Airplane Carry-on Bags

1.   Snacks 

We bend the rules on travel days to have some fun treats, but try to include a pretty healthy mix to keep everyone on an even keel. We have had experiences with getting stuck places, so I bring a lot of food. Probably more that we could eat in one day, but if you get stuck in an airport hotel over night it will be nice to have some baby/toddler/preschooler food on hand.

For our plane trip in June we brought organic baby food pouches, a mix of steamed veggies cut into small pieces, bananas and some cooked beans for the eleven month old (she wasn't eating grains, nuts, tomatoes or eggs yet). For the Two (almost 3) year old we brought peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bananas, grapes, apples, gold fish crackers, pretzel sticks, roasted seaweed, cucumber, carrot and red pepper sticks with hummus, and individual packages of trail mix. Mom and Dad had some sandwiches and shared the kid snacks. All of these things make it through security no problem.

We still eat at the terminal when we have layovers (especially when they have local specialties) because I don't want to deplete our emergency rations too much. I know. I'm so dramatic, but I feel much better with a food supply on hand.

2.   Water bottles or Sippy Cups

Bring them empty to get through security, and then fill at a drinking fountain or with bottled water once inside.

3.   Activities for Kids 

My mom had read a tip to wrap up some of the kids' things as presents. I thought this was brilliant! We wrapped some of the favorite books, toys and finger puppets that we planned to bring in tissue paper. Unwrapping the "presents" was an activity in and of itself. The baby would just happily play with whatever she opened. The toddler would comment, "Oh, this is just like one that we have at our house," and then would also happily play with whatever she had opened.

Keeping the 11 month old and 35 month old in mind, we brought about 5 board books, 5 story books, each girl had a dolly and a stuffed animal, some finger puppets, stacking cups, paper, crayons, stickers, and a couple of other things.

One of the things that was the biggest hit was a present from our good friend. She had cut three strips of stretchy fabric in varying lengths and labled them headband, belt, and fishing line. Our toddler and Dada played with those for almost our whole second flight (about 2.5 hours). They dressed up dolly, Dada, baby sister, Mama and the stuffed animals with them. They became horse reins fastened around the hook on the back of the seat, and so much more.

We did also bring some DVDs and a laptop in case things got ugly, but we never used them.

4.  Two-three days of diapers and underpants for each child

You would think that those convenience stores in the airport would carry diapers, but they don't necessarily have them. Or if they do, they might not be in the size you need. If you get stuck in an airport or airport hotel for the night, it can be really hard to get out of airport circle to get to a drug store without a car. Bring diapers - maybe a whole carry-on worth!

5.  Three-four changes of clothes for each child

There is nothing like being away from home and having a child eating on your lap to make a big mess. Between messy meals, diapers leaking or who knows what else, several changes of clothes are nice to have on hand.

6.   One change of clothes for each grown-up

Last year on our way home from Vermont, we missed our connecting flight and had to spend the night in Detroit. Luckily I had all the snacks, activities, diapers and children's clothing I could possibly need, but I had packed all the grown up clothes in the checked luggage (to save space for kid stuff). I thought that because we were on our way home that if our bag got lost it wouldn't be a problem because we would be at home. Ha, I didn't think about a night in Detroit along the way. Now I always pack a change of clothes for Mama and Dada because it was bad enough to stay in a hotel when you are looking forward to your own bed, but if you have to wear yesterday's clothes too...not fun.

7. Baby Carrier

I have found it really helpful to have a baby carrier (we have an Ergo) for getting through the airport and helping little ones take naps on the plane. Our 11 month old had been walking for a while hadn't been in the Ergo for some time, but she found it comforting amid all the commotion.

8.  Hand Sanitizer and Baby Wipes

A flight attendant friend suggested this one: Squirt hand sanitizer on a baby wipe and generously smear all over the tray, arm rest, and any other hard surface your kids might be able to reach. It's great peace of mind that you at least tried to minimize the germs.

Suggestions for the front seat of the car

The same snacks, water bottles and activities that you would take on a plane with all of the other items on the list easily accessible in the trunk.

We start the trip with piles of snacks and activities in the front seat, and as the trip wears on they all get passed to the back. When we stop for a break, Mama and Dada move most of the stuff back to the front so that we can repeat the process.

Music CDs

It's amazing how music can calm fussy babies and help toddlers and preschoolers give you a break from the relentless questions. I recommend finding some that you all find tolerable. Two of our favorites are Dan Zanes and Laurie Berkener.

If you relax and plan for the unexpected, I'm sure you and the kids will be able to enjoy your adventures.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Utica Coffee Roasting Company

When most people they hear "New York," they think of New York City with its skyscrapers and bustling sidewalks. Some people don't realize that New York is a big state made up mostly of farmland, country villages and some small-medium cities. We have been living in the lesser known part of New York state for most of this summer. We are about 20 minutes outside of Utica, NY in a funky little farmhouse that we rented for three months. It has been a nice combination of a bucolic lifestyle with pretty easy access to quaint villages and the small city of Utica, NY.

A Utica poster at the Utica Coffee Roasting Co

Utica is like many cities in the Northeast and Midwest that thrived from the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries, but have fallen on hard times as manufacturing moved elsewhere and the economy changed. Utica thrived because of its location at the junction of the Erie and the Chenango Canals. It was a transportation hub and manufacturing center. Now the downtown is full of empty buildings and vacant lots (city revitalization plans that went awry) and it is bifurcated by highways that make it hard to walk around and explore on foot.

View when from the front door.

The case with some local treats.

My husband and I have a soft spot for these kinds of cities. We like to come up with schemes that could turn them around, and root for any efforts by entrepreneurs to contribute to the local economy and revitalize the city. Yesterday after the farmers' market, we visited one such business - the Utica Coffee Roasting Company. We both are fans of coffee and local food, so we immediately loved it. They carry local yogurt, Utica made bagels, Adirondack nut butters, soaps made with their coffee grounds and lots of other fun stuff. We're sorry we discovered it so late in the summer, but we'll plan on a second visit our last Saturday in New York state.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Getting Back to Our Roots

I can't believe it has been almost a month since I last posted. In the intervening time, we made a 5 day trip to the Burlington, VT area to visit family, and then the day after we got back some friends came up to visit from New York City. It was great seeing family and friends, but it has taken us a little while to recuperate. The girls (ages 3 and 1) really seem to thrive on their regular schedules and surroundings, so it has taken us a while to get back on an even keel. You of course want your children to be the picture of well-adjusted, even tempered, polite little ladies while visiting family and friends, but instead our two girls took turns crying, shrieking, running away from people, hunger striking, not sleeping and NEEDING MAMA. Uggh, so embarrassing. Of course I felt like people were looking at me like I have two heads, and were appalled that I let the situation careen so far out of control (some of this might be slight paranoia - my husband seems to think they did as well as can be expected under the circumstances - they are always his little angels :). Finally after two weeks back to New York house, I feel like we are doing better. (But, we are getting ready to depart to NYC in one week. We are obviously gluttons for punishment.)

This morning we headed out to the Utica Farmers' Market. We really enjoyed chatting with the farmers, and the kids got to help pick out some vegetables for the week. It was very exciting to see the summer's bounty. When we got here two months ago, the vegetable farmers only had cooking greens and lettuce. Now there is a great selection of vegetables to chose from. I was going to make a list of all that we got to make a meal plan for the week, but decided to take a photo too. When I started this blog, it was too document our CSA share in New York City (hence City Share for a blog title), and I posted a photo each week to be able to compare each week's haul.  I decided to that again today and get back to our roots.

Cabbage, cucumbers, red chard, collard greens, purple green beans, Yukon gold potatoes, beets, zucchini, scallions, golden cherry tomatoes, and Non-GMO corn

In addition to the nice selection of vegetables, we got some bratwurst, chicken thighs, ground beef and goat stew meat. After the Farmers' Market, we stopped by Utica Coffee Roasting Co for a light lunch. It was a great morning of family time, and gave me hope that our New York City trip might actually be fun. Off to plan this week's menu...

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Birthday Season is Behind Us

We have been in birthday mode for about two months, and it is now finished. Our first daughter is feeling some withdrawal, but the adult members of the family are relieved. It's funny how birthdays seem to come in batches. For us it is the end of June/beginning of July. Baby girl has a birthday, seven days later is the toddler's birthday and then five days later is my husband's birthday. So yes, three birthdays in 12 days. Now under normal circumstances this might result in a whirlwind of celebrations that last about 2 weeks, and that would be a lot of cake and parties, but this year it was a whirlwind of planning, parties, cake and balloons that lasted about two months.

We really included the toddler in all aspects of preparations for her Rainbow Dance Party. The planning probably lasted about a month, and that's pretty much all she talked about for the month of May. We had the party at the end of May before we left for a summer in Upstate NY. Then we spent June hearing about her "real birthday" was coming and that she would be turning 3! (We created a bit of a birthday monster.) The baby turned 1 while we were on our VA trip, and we had a party for both girls with that part of the family. We celebrated the toddler's actual birthday with just our little immediate family, and then again two days later with Mimi and Grampie. Then it was two parties on the 4th of July and then a party for my husband. Whew, that was a lot of cake. We now have to get back on track with our eating. The toddler has started requesting cake with every meal, and we don't want that to be the new normal.

In our girls' minds, it is not a birthday without balloons. So we decorated NY house too. The owner had the branches already mounted, so it made it easy to hang the balloons.

The rainbow hand-kites from the birthday party helped us create a balloon chandelier.

Of course, the front porch needed some balloons too.

At this point I guess I'll also officially have to change my daughters' names. The baby is now officially a toddler now that she's one and has been walking since 9.5 months, and the toddler I guess is a preschooler now that she is three.

This has been our favorite cake to make for birthdays (besides the rainbow 6 layer cake - which was an all time crowd pleaser). It's simple, vegan/egg-free, and very easy for kids to help make.

Usually we have served the cake unfrosted with a dollop of whipped cream and strawberries. Our preschooler wanted "frosting" this time, so we went ahead and spread the whipped cream on the cake and did a giant outline of her first initial in sprinkles. Dada went all out and added ice cream to the mix too.

A good friend shared this recipe with me, and we have made it for every birthday since. Mollie Katzen, of The Moosewood Cookbook fame, has a kids' cookbook called, Honest Pretzels. In it there is a recipe for a great Made-In-The-Pan Chocolate Cake. We like to serve it with whipped cream and strawberries. This time around we frosted it with whipped cream.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Vegetarian Paleo Spaghetti Alla Carbonara

Shortly after we felt like we were settling in at "NY house" as our toddler calls it, we had to make a trek down to VA for a family wedding. After we saw how long it took to get acclimated in our NY rental, we flirted with the idea of canceling last minute. But it was our chance to see a part of the family we hadn't seen since our move to AZ, so we decided to brave it. We were gone for 5 days, and now we were glad we made the trip. The kids survived the 8 hour drive each way and sleeping in 3 different places, and it was great to get caught up with family. We like to think that we are helping make them more resilient and flexible, but we've yet to see the proof.

We were gone just long enough to make us eat up the food in the fridge before we left. The last night before the trip we found ourselves with lots of leftover spaghetti squash and I thought spaghetti alla carbonara sounded good. We only had one egg and no bacon, but we made it work. Vegetarian Paleo Spaghetti Alla Carbonara was born.

Our recipe was a bit skimpy on the eggs and the mushrooms, but it was all we had. I decided to write the recipe the way we ate it because it is always nice to know that you can stretch some sparse rations into a decent meal.

Vegetarian Paleo Spaghetti Alla Carbonara with a side of broccoli and salad.
Vegetarian Paleo Spaghetti Alla Carbonara

1 large spaghetti squash
2 T coconut oil
2 C mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 egg, beaten
3/4 C coconut milk
1 T herbes de Provence
Parmesan Cheese (if you eat dairy)-optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Bake spaghetti squash until it just gives when squeezed (about 45 minutes to an hour). Immediately cut in half to help it stop cooking. Remove the seeds. Scrape the squash out with a fork to create the noodles.

Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet and add the mushrooms. Cook until tender. Add the garlic and the spaghetti squash and heat through. Add the egg, coconut milk and herbes. Stir continuously for the egg and coconut milk to evenly coat the squash. Cook for 2 minutes. Serve and eat immediately. Great topped with some Parmesan cheese (if you eat dairy). Enjoy.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Living with Someone Else's Things

We have been in our summer rental in upstate NY for a couple of weeks now, and it has been interesting to live among other people's things. In the beginning, it was mostly about child proofing to protect the owners' treasures from our children's curious little fingers (and the baby's mouth). But with that task mostly behind us, we can really start to see how our life style and preferences influence our stuff. Especially in the kitchen. I noticed today while putting away dishes and pots and pans, that there are two muffin tins, four mini muffin tins, two round cake pans, two square cake pans and two bread pans. Clearly someone does a lot of baking. I don't have that much baking gear because I try to avoid sweets, and just make the occasional paleo muffins or birthday cake (not paleo).

We do a fair bit of cooking and we cook in large quantities, so we have big pots and pans at home. A big frying pan perfect for frying 5-6 eggs at a time, a large slow cooker perfect for preparing whole chickens, good sized roasts and big batches of broth, and a big dutch oven. We don't have any of those resources here, and it is interesting to see how we tend to cook smaller batches of things as a result. Several times we've barely had enough food to fill everyone up at dinner time - never mind enough leftovers for lunch the next day (always my goal). Luckily small pans don't get in the way of deconstructed dinner. We can easily cook all the components separately and combine them at the end.

Here is one of our latest examples: Spinach Salad and Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce

The baby's dinner. We haven't introduced tomatoes yet, so I pulled out the ground beef and pork sausage before combining it with the sauce. She loves the spaghetti squash because it is fun to eat, and we had her try the chopped raw spinach. She didn't eat much of it, but we work to keep exposing her to a variety of vegetable tastes and textures.

The  toddler's dinner. She has just recently started enjoying salad more, but she requests hers "Plain with no dressing" every night. She seems to think I will forget. And we keep her sauce on the side so she can chose whether she is going to mix it that night.

Mama and Dada's dinner. We like dressing on our salad, and I like lots of red sauce too.

Saturday, June 28, 2014


A good friend of mine went to law school in Minneapolis, and I went to visit her several times while she was there. I was living in upstate NY at the time so the snow and cold weren't toooo shocking to me. As two young women who grew up in Arizona, we were experiencing real snow and winter for the first time in our 20s, and we were always on the phone with each other comparing the weather. We came to the conclusion that Minnesota is colder, but upstate NY is snowier.

Anyways, on my visits I always enjoyed seeing that strong Scandinavian heritage peeking through in the modern day. Garrison Keillor is only exaggerating a little bit when he tells those Lake Wobegon stories. So much of the country feels the same. When you get off an airplane in so many cities, it's hard to tell where you have landed. In Minneapolis, it was fun to hear about a "hot dish" a "parking ramp" and I especially loved the word, "oofta." I'm not a Minnesotan, but I believe it roughly translates to "uggh."

This is all background for one morning last week. The baby woke me up at 5:00 AM and just wouldn't go back to sleep. I decided we might as well head down stairs and get our morning started. With each step, the temperature dropped colder and colder. I was so cold when I got into the kitchen, I exclaimed, "Oofta, we need to do something to warm up this house." (Which was funny because I hadn't thought about my Minneapolis visits for a great while - I guess the cold took me back.) It was in the 40s outside, and not much warmer inside because we had left the kitchen window open (in our defense - it had been hot only the day before). I decided to turn on the oven. With my foggy brain I just thought of turning on the oven to use as a heat source, but then quickly decided that would be a waste of gas, so decided to throw in a couple sweet potatoes. After we warmed up a bit, I decided to put the baby in her high chair and roll it into the kitchen. I dug around in the fridge to realize that we were low on our breakfast staples - we had one egg, no yogurt, no milk, no bacon. Things weren't looking too good. Luckily I found some leftovers to start feeding baby girl, and I started cooking. I still wasn't warm all the way through, so I started by making some soup. I had broth and leftover chicken added some zucchini, onions and carrots.  While it was cooking, I prepped vegetables for lunch and dinner, and felt I had gotten a lot done by the time our toddler and my husband got up to start their day.

The results were an unconventional breakfast, but great for warming you up whatever the time of day.... or season. Sometimes simple is the best.

Chicken, zucchini and carrot soup with freshly baked sweet potato and butter and hot tea.

Chicken, Zucchini and Carrot Soup

1 T butter
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
2 medium zucchini, chopped
1 Quart Chicken Broth
2 C chicken, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 t thyme

Melt the butter over medium heat in a saucepan. Add the onion and carrots and cook until the onions begin to soften. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook until the zucchini is tender. Enjoy.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Franks and Beans

My husband and I aren't really baked beans fans. You know the ones that are sweet and taste vaguely of BBQ sauce. If we go to a party and someone is pushing them because the beans are their pride and joy and it is Aunt So and So's recipe, we take the obligatory spoonful and eat them. But we don't go out of our way to eat baked beans. Still some type of bean dish is nice with summer BBQ, and just a protein and some greens for dinner often leaves you feeling hungry a little while after you leave the table.

The solution is City Share Beans. My husband came up with this combo a while back, and we are always pleased with the results.

Ciry Share beans topped with a local German style hot dog with a side of broccoli and sauerkraut.

City Share Beans
2 C White Navy Beans,  cooked - or 1 can
2 C Pigeon Peas, cooked - or 1 can
1 T Herbes de Provence
1 Onion, chopped
2  cloves of garlic, chopped
1 C Chicken Stock

Combine all of the ingredients in a pan and cook until the onion is tender. About 20 minutes over medium high heat.

Also works well with chick peas, kidney beans, or any of your favorite beans.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Preparing Young Children for Travel

I think travel is hard on most of us. I love to travel and see new things, try new foods, meet new people, etc. Even though I love it, it can be hard. Planes get delayed, there are long lines for the junky airport food, and once you get to your destination you have to adjust to different sleeping arrangements, changes to the normal schedule, and more.

Last year we went to Vermont for a niece's wedding when the baby was 6 weeks old and the toddler had just turned two. I didn't really talk about the trip before hand because I thought the toddler wouldn't understand. So we basically just got up and said we are going on a trip today. Ha, that didn't work well. I was worried about the actual travel with two small children - the plane, the airport and the second plane trip. But we were prepared with snacks, presents, activities and videos for back-up, and that was a breeze. The hard part was the ten days in Vermont. The toddler was SO homesick. She kept saying she wanted to go home, she wanted to eat lunch at her house, she wanted to sleep in her crib, she wanted to play with her toys. She didn't eat or sleep well the whole time, and so it was a hard trip for us all. (When the kids aren't happy, no one is happy.)

Image courtesy of:

With this in mind, we tried to really plan ahead for preparing our toddler for our big summer adventure. I think most two and three year olds like their routine and are leery of change, but our daughter might be worse than many. I asked around for advice from friends and  preschool teachers and compiled this list of suggestions.

Tips for Preparing Young Children For Travel (2-3 years old)

1. Start reading books about travel and visiting new places in advance.

I went through a couple of "best travel books for kids" lists, and then requested a bunch of them through our public library. Here are a few titles that were repeat reads at our house: Knuffle Bunny Free, Toot and Puddle, Dodsworth in Paris, Dodsworth in New York, The Big Trip, How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World, and If You Decide to Go to the Moon. They expose kids to preparing for a trip, different modes of transportation, and how things might be different at your destination.

2. Start discussing our specific trip about 7-10 days before the trip. (Or as far in advance as you are willing to discuss, "Do we go on our trip today?")

Our daughter at age 2 going on 3 still has very little concept of time. Everything in the past is "yesterday," and everything in the future is "later." (I guess we should work on that? ;) So this was a big question for me. We told her about the big trip about 10 days in advance, and that was plenty of time for her to mull it over and get excited about going on a plane. Ten days happened to be right after her birthday party, so it was perfect. We got to focus on the party and then shift our attention to the trip.

3. When you do start talking about the trip, try discussing it at bath time and other times when your child is in a good mood.

4. Create a photo book/social story book describing the process of what, where and when we will be going and who we will see.

I didn't get around to making a book, but we did look at lots of photos of family we would see and places we would visit. She was also curious about what our plane would look like, so we googled images of Southwest planes too. I think that was all really helpful.

5. Bring lots of comfort items from home - as many as we can comfortably pack. Including books, blankets, stuffed animals, toys and decorations.

This has been indispensable. Bring all the blankies, babies, animals, CDs, cups, etc. that your kids are used to using. Last year on our trip to Vermont we were still in our before kids mindset of packing only what could fit in two backpacks, and we knew my sister-in-law had pulled out a whole Little People village. We thought because they had toys, blankets, dishes, etc, that we would just bring clothes and diapers. What a mistake! Things have been so much easier this year with some comforts from home.

6. Maintain a regular schedule for eating and sleeping up until departure.

Eating good healthy meals up until the trip can help start your adventure with your best, healthiest and most energetic selves. 

My husband and I both vote for Number 5 - Comfort items from home as the most important.

Stay tuned for up-coming posts on tips for the day of travel and settling in at your destination.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Hitting Our Stride

Ahh, yesterday we finally all were functioning a bit better. The kids and grown-ups seemed less cranky. We felt like we got stuff done. The husband was able to work for the first time here. Was the sixth day in the summer rental a magical turning point? Was it the two nights of going to bed at 7:00 PM (for the kids - the grown ups have been staying up too late)? Was it the second round of rearranging the toys and main living area? Or, was it the delicious mushroom bacon scramble that got us all of to a great start? I'm going with all of the above.

The baby even had scrambled eggs for the second day in a row without reaction. This is a very exciting development because she had two instances of throwing up after egg yolk when she was younger, and I was very concerned that she was going to be allergic to eggs. Victories all around!

This simple, flavorful dish is company worthy. We usually have it for breakfast, but add a side of vegetables or a salad and it's a great meal anytime of day. I even like to have some leftover vegetables with breakfast - it makes me feel like I'm getting a head start on my veggie intake for the day.

Mushroom Bacon Scramble with a side of broccoli.

Mushroom Bacon Scramble (serves 2)
2 strips of bacon
4-6 mushrooms, sliced
4 eggs, beaten

Cook the strips of bacon over medium heat until just crispy. Remove to a cutting board. Add the sliced mushroom into the bacon grease and cook until tender and brown. Chop bacon. Pour off any excess remaining bacon fat. Add the eggs and cooked bacon into the pan and stir. Continue to stir and cook until no longer runny, but still moist. Serve right away.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Baked Pork Chops

Our first few days in upstate NY were a bit rough. The kids ended up going to bed around 10:00 PM the first few nights (right on time for their 7:00 Phoenix bed times, but still too late). This made them sleep late in the mornings and threw off eating and nap schedules.  On top of our scheduling issues, the house was chaotic. The New York house is much smaller than our Phoenix house and harder to navigate with two small kids. There is a very narrow and steep staircase with gates on either end, and the only bathroom is upstairs. I wasn't too worried about this when we rented the place, but our toddler is still potty training and we've regressed on that front. I'm starting to think there is nothing worse than two small children not eating and sleeping well in a new, strange location. This was exacerbated by visits with lots of family the kids haven't seen in a year. Whew! So glad we are becoming more adjusted by the day.

This period of transition has made us crave some comfort food. The other night we decided to bake some pork chops from the farmers market visit. These were some beautiful thick center cut pork chops. We were pleased to have picked up some Sauerkraut with cauliflower from Damin Farms. This last week I picked up the most basic variety of sauerkraut hoping that the entire family would enjoy it, but this next week I think I'll go for a spicy version for Mama and Dada.

Slices of baked pork chops served with cabbage and cauliflower sauerkraut and sides of carrots and garlicky greens (an early summer staple).

Baked Pork Chops inspired by The Kitchn
2 large thick cut pork chops
3 T sea salt
3 cups water
sea salt
7 seed mix (optional)
Spring onions and garlic

Preheat oven to 425.

Mix the salt and water until the salt dissolves. Add the pork chops and let sit 30 minutes to 4 hours. Place an oven proof skillet in the oven to heat. Once it is hot, remove and add the chops and sprinkle with salt and seed mix (optional). Add the onions and garlic to the pan. Return to the oven an cook for 15 minutes. Flip the chops and reduce the heat to 325 degrees. Cook for an additional 20 minutes or until the chops are cooked through.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Writing to you from Upstate NY

We arrived in upstate NY late Wednesday night, and we got to our rental house Thursday around lunch time.  There are lots of knickknacks, antiques, treasures, and art pieces very low to the ground that are quite intriguing to an 11 month old. Our first order of business was to baby proof one room. That is mostly done, but we are still working to find nooks and crannies to fit all of the stuff we brought with us.

Yesterday we took a break from the child proofing and unpacking to visit the Oneida County Public Market. It was so cold!! I thought maybe we were just wimpy because we were fresh off a plane from Phoenix, AZ, but my sister-in-law visiting from VT also thought it was cold.  It's a great market with 30-35 vendors with lots of choices for meat and vegetables. The vegetable farmers were mostly selling greens because it is so early in the growing season here. It really drove home that we crossed the country and ended up somewhere in a totally different climate. It was 108 the day before we left Phoenix, and yesterday in Utica it was in the 50s. Phoenix is just wrapping up their Spring growing season, and then a new growing season will start in the fall after the worst of the high temps are over (two short growing seasons each year). Around here corn plants are only 4-6 inches tall and the only vegetables that are available are various greens, baby carrots, and baby radishes.

Last night we needed a nice hot dinner to help warm us up, and chose to roast a chicken with herbes de provence and served it with garlicky greens. What a change from the salads we were eating on a regular basis in the Phoenix heat.
Roasted Chicken seasoned with sea salt and herbes de provence. It's a perfect comforting meal for a cold early summer night.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Chorizo, Kale and White Bean Soup

Chorizo, Kale and White Bean Soup for the grown-ups.

Deconstructed Soup for the toddler. Chorizo, white beans and kale served on a leftover
birthday party plate to make it extra special. The broth is served separately in a mug.
The countdown continues, we are leaving Phoenix for our summer adventure in only 2 days. In preparation for packing up our kitchen in addition to ourselves, we are trying to eat as many freezer, fridge and pantry foods as possible. This recipe was a winner. Broth and beef chorizo from our freezer, kale from the fridge and beans from the pantry. Plus, it's tasty and satisfying.

One of the blogs I love is Dinner: A love Story, and she has a great strategy for feeding young kids. Deconstruct the dish by either cooking the components separately or serving them separately. For example, this soup my husband and I ate as a combined dish. The toddler said she didn't want soup for dinner, so I dished it up as separate entities. I try not to make different meals for each members of the family, but serving it differently to each person I can handle.

*start the recipe the night before*

Chorizo, Kale and White Bean Soup
1 lb White Beans
1 T vinegar
2 Qt. Chicken Broth
1 Large Bunch Kale, ripped into pieces with stem removed
1 lb Beef or Pork Chorizo
Parmesan Cheese (optional)

Soak beans for 12-24 hours in a large pot of water with the vinegar. Drain and rinse beans. Combine beans and broth in a stock pot. Cook until tender - approximately 2 -4 hours. Add kale and cook until tender - about 15 minutes. In a separate pan, brown the chorizo and add to the soup. Dish up and sprinkle some Parmesan cheese if desired.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Mama's Oatmeal

Mama's Oatmeal is full of lots of delicious goodies and a great way to start the day.
For my second pregnancy, we chose to go to a birth center for my prenatal care and the birth. It was a great team of two midwives, an OB-GYN and birth assistants. I loved the leisurely appointments that really focused on taking care of the whole person and the whole family. If you live in the Phoenix area, I highly recommend checking out Blossom Birth Center

In the binder of articles and resources from Blossom, there was a great recipe for Mama's oatmeal. It became a family favorite, and I made it at least a few times each week while I was pregnant. Over time we tweaked and perfected until we landed on our current recipe. We hadn't had it for a while, and decided to make it yesterday morning as part of our cleaning out the pantry, fridge and freezer effort. What a delicious and nostalgic treat. When I started making this, our toddler wasn't eating nuts yet, and she would ask for "hini, hini, hini" for tahini. Amazing that she's now able to clearly discuss "all the delicious goodies" in her oatmeal, and to list the ingredients one-by-one including "tahini'.

*start the recipe the night before*

Mama's Oatmeal - City Share Style (2-3 servings)
1 C Steel Cut Oats
1 T Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
2 C Whole Milk
Pinch of Pink Salt
Dash of Vanilla
Small handful of dried fruit (raisins, cherries, cranberries or prunes)- optional
1 T Black Strap Molasses
2 T Butter

Soak the oats in water with the apple cider vinegar over night. In the morning, pour the oats into a fine mesh strainer. Rinse with water. Return the oats to the pot, add the milk. Bring to a simmer and add the salt, vanilla, dried fruit, black strap molasses and butter. Continue to cook until the oats are tender - about 15 minutes. Dish up into bowls. Add a small handful of pecans and 1 teaspoon of tahini to each bowl. Top with extra whole milk until it reaches the desired consistency.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Rainbow Dance Party

We decided to throw the girls a birthday party last weekend because we will be in NY state for their real birthdays at the end of June. We wanted a chance for us all to celebrate them turning 1 and 3 with friends here in Phoenix.

Our toddler chose the theme of a Rainbow Dance party, and over the last month or so we had a lot of fun plotting decorations, food and fun.  Here are a few photos of our celebration:

W set the Rainbow Dance Party mood by hanging balloons from the ceiling in the playroom.

We decided to make the party from 10:30-12:30 to catch everyone in their best moods. We served bacon and cheddar quiche, Kale and Gruyere quiche, bagels with the works (a nod to NYC), fruits and veggies. The toddler and I had lots of fun picking out a rainbow of fruit. We had nectarines for orange, but they didn't ripen in time to make it on the platter.

Blue and purple veggies can be hard to find. Wanted to get purple cabbage and carrots, but we struck out the day we went shopping. No worries - the boiled beets were perfect for the babies at the party.

The toddler was reading the NY Times magazine and saw a rainbow cake. She was sold. She said, "That's the cake I need for my party." We normally try to keep things pretty healthy, but for a birthday party we decided to loosen the rules. My husband and I had fun making the cake. IT WAS A HUGE HIT. Lots of recipes say to use gel coloring. I couldn't find any easily, so we just used regular food coloring and slightly reduced the liquid . About 45 drops per layer, and we were really pleased with the results.

So many times at birthday parties, the children are sent home with little tchotchkes. I was racked my brain for something that would fit our theme, and be a fun dance tool. Landed on rainbow hand kites. Sometimes they are on wooden rings, but I chose to put them on hair bands so that the kids could hold them or wear them on their wrists. This photo doesn't really do it justice. The ribbons are 20 inches long (once folded in half) so they look great flowing and twirling around.

Last but not least the girls needed clothes worthy of a Rainbow Dance Party. The baby has some rainbow striped pants, so she was all set, but I wanted something special for the toddler. Searched on Pinterest and decided to make a no-sew skirt. Super easy! I literally didn't sew it because I just used safety pins on the waistband to keep it adjustable. Ripped the strips of fabric. Once I decided on the length and size, I finished the rest of the skirt in one hour of TV watching.

 We were so pleased with how the day turned out. My biggest worry was that the girls would get overwhelmed with all the guests, but they both had a great time. I think the toddler was pleased to see her ideas come to fruition.

What about you? Any party successes? disasters?

Monday, June 2, 2014

We're back

Our last blogging effort was derailed by a stomach flu that hit the whole family. Hard. It was our first time with both parents sick at the same time. Whoa was it tough. The toddler watched a lot of TV and the baby spent large chunks of time in the swing. We were in basic survival mode. That was November, then there was Christmas... and somehow it is already June. Time really does fly by with two small children underfoot (currently 11 months and 2 and 11 months).

We are getting ready to embark on a big adventure, so I want to get back into blogging to help document this exciting time. We currently live in Phoenix, AZ which get REALLY hot during the summer. There is talk about how it is a dry heat, but a sauna has dry heat too, and I don't want to live in a sauna. We have managed to arrange 2 1/2 months away in upstate NY this summer near family and cooler weather (hopefully). I have idyllic images in my head of practically living outside, swimming, picnicking, chasing fireflies, etc. If the summer lives up to half my expectations, it will be a great time.

We leave in eight days, but we are just getting down to serious preparation now. We have had a few other things going on. While we are away, we will have a bathroom and kitchen completely redone, so we have been busy picking out all the details before we go. We had family come visit. Plus, we threw a big birthday party for both the girls because we will be away for their real birthdays.

More on the birthday party and the renovations in upcoming posts. Looking forward to rejoining blogland.
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