As will come to the surprise of absolutely no one ever, getting a meal on the table becomes supremely more complicated with a kiddo who suddenly wants to participate in every step along the way. There are lids to take off, jars to pour out, “sauces” to make (a recent favorite – chicken stock, sugar, pepper, furikake, and parsley stems), and plenty of ingredients to taste (and then put back in the bowl). We’ve gotten better at identifying kitchen tasks that will keep him occupied, but overall these days all about simplifying. What’s quick, what’s tasty, what’s not going to turn our kitchen into a complete disaster? (Partial disaster is inevitable.)
This recipe is a perfect example of one of those dinners – hearty, straight-forward, consisting mostly of things we’re likely to have in our kitchen at any given time. A few eggs cooked in a hearty, smoky tomato sauce is a perfect main dish to accompany nearly any starch (bread, polenta, pasta, etc.) and can flexibly accommodate nearly any cheese or cooked vegetable you might have around. It comes together in one pan and requires surprisingly little attention, which might be better paid to the child gleefully trying to smash whole eggs on your cutting board. Read more
We are finally back in Madison after two months of travel, and we’re trying to soak up every last bit of this summer. Aldo is toddling around like a crazy man, and between running after him and comforting the inevitable bonks and bumps that come with new mobility, we’re focusing on all the joys of late summer in the Midwest – tomatoes, corn, eggplant, peppers, melons, and more tomatoes, and more corn, and more tomatoes, and more corn. Most evenings I cut up a hunk tomato for Aldo with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and because he’s in the midst of an ardent tomato strike (not his first), I slurp up the leftover pieces from his plate and don’t think twice about it.
The first weekend we were back we were invited over to a friend’s house for burritos, and we wandered the Capitol market that morning to stock up on summer basics (aforementioned corn and tomatoes) and to grab the supplies for a Mexican-inspired roasted corn and poblano salad. I’m a huge fan of corn salads in the summer and generally go with a raw base, but when I saw the poblanos which I knew I’d want to char and peel, I let the corn follow suit. Read more
On Sunday, I taught my last class before starting my summer hiatus. We have grand travel plans this summer, and who wants to be in a hot kitchen on a beautiful summer evening, anyway? Thinking about summer brings back memories of waddling around a kitchen last summer, hugely pregnant, teaching from a stool and trying to avoid picking up my heavy tubs of equipment and groceries. Ha! So glad that’s not me this time around. Instead, I’ll be cooking over a camp stove, eating dinner from a picnic table, and happily lugging around 22+ pounds of purely adorable baby chub in a hiking pack.
Before we head out on our adventure, I want to share with you a perfect summer recipe from this last class – it doesn’t require any heat, and packs perfectly for picnics or lunches or backyard barbecues. The class was a collaboration with my friends over at Table Wine, with special gifts from the French jar company Le Parfait. We put together a beautiful, summery salad of farmers’ market snap peas and radishes with torn fresh mozzarella, dressed with lemon and sesame and garnished with chive blossoms from Vitruvian Farms, and paired it with a lovely Italian white wine (more on that, below). Read more
Two days ago we came back from a weekend trip to Pennsylvania for a wedding, and – just like that – it’s summer. We’ve eaten every meal since on the porch, and one of our first tasks when we returned was to exchange our long-faulty propane tank and fire up the grill for our standby summer dinner menu – a mess of grilled vegetables, some sort of starch (in this case, a quinoa pilaf), cheese (we do live in Wisconsin, after all), and white wine (Trader Joe’s new boxed sauvignon blanc is actually quite fantastic).
But lately I’ve had that itch – the one that drives me to pick out random things at the grocery store and try something entirely new – and this time it was (among other things) a small round head of radicchio that called out to me. I planned a slaw at first, but a quick perusing of cookbooks during Aldo’s pre-dinner nap led me to grill it in wedges. I made a quick vinaigrette (more on that later) and tossed it all with some fresh mozzarella and herbs, and it was an excellent part of what can otherwise be a fairly standard meal. Read more
It comes as a surprise to no one, especially me, that Aldo starting to eat solid foods has been one of the most rewarding and fun parts of this whole ordeal. (Can you call having a baby and raising it for nearly eight months an “ordeal”? That seems simultaneously too negative and way too casual. Like I’d need at least 10,000 more words to describe what it’s like, but a decent percentage of them would be way more positive than “ordeal.”)
Also unsurprisingly, a lot of people ask me what he’s eating and what our general philosophy is on how and what he eats. Baby led weaning? Homemade? How quickly to introduce allergens? What to introduce and when? The way we’ve gone about it is a fairly good indicator for how we’ve done most things as parents – do some reading, pick and choose the elements we like to form a generalized plan, then see what works and what doesn’t, reformulating the plan nearly on a dime as needed. If there’s anything I’ve learned it’s that you can’t go into anything with too many expectations or being too rigid, because this fantastic little guy is actually a human, and he has plenty of his own thoughts and preferences.
And through everything (and we’re not just talking about food here, but also sleep, and play, and everything else he does), I get more and more of this sense that he’s going to be just fine. We can provide a general structure, but as long as we go with our intuition and take note of the signals he sends us, it’ll all work out okay. Read more