Tacos al Pastor with Homemade Corn Tortillas

May 4, 2015

tacos al pastorThere's something about authentic style tacos that's so delicious, and one of our favorite variations is tacos al pastor, which consist of pork marinated in a red chile sauce with grilled pineapple. In taquerias the pork is usually cooked on one of those vertical spits (like the ones used to cook shawarma or gyros), but we make a simplified version that we cook on the grill and I think it's a great approximation of the real deal. The enzymes in the pineapple help tenderize the pork, and the sweetness plays off the flavor of the red chile and spices.

It's also fun—and surprisingly easy—to make your own corn tortillas, and there's nothing quite like a freshly made tortilla hot out of the pan. It helps to have a cast iron tortilla press, but you can use a rolling pin in a pinch. The kids love to make their own tortillas, although we leave the cooking to a grownup, since they're baked in a hot cast iron pan. Actually, quite a few of the tortillas never make it to the taco part of the meal, since they're so good on their own.

If you've never had a fresh, hand made tortilla, you're in for a treat. They're really quite unlike the packaged kind you get at the store, and they're really delicious. One more tip: rinse your chopped white onion in cold water and let drain before you use it to top your tacos. This really takes away a lot of the strong raw onion flavor.


for the tacos

Tools for a Natural Birth: Practical Advice from a Home Birth Midwife

May 4, 2015

Home birth midwifeMarin Mommies presents a guest article by local Certfied Licensed Midwife Lea Ritter.

I am frequently asked by the women I work with how they can best prepare for an unmedicated birth. As a home birth midwife I deliver babies born to low-risk women wanting a more natural, low-intervention birth. There is no one type of woman who chooses natural birth, whether at home or hospital. I have attended the births of doctors, lawyers, artists, home makers, teachers, sailors and other midwives. Home birth is not just for the super crunchy among us, but that's a seperate topic. Regardless of where you choose to have your baby, if you are wanting a low or no intervention "natural" birth, preparation is key.

Birth is an experience like no other in our lives. Giving birth is exciting and new and brings with it the most precious gift and greatest challenge: motherhood. There are many known benefits to giving birth as naturally as possible, all of which I will not go into here, but lets assume it is something you are interested in. How do you prepare?

May Classes and Programs at Parents Place Marin

May 3, 2015

Parents Place 2-year-oldParents Place in San Rafael has been a valuable resource for countless Marin County parents and families. They offer a wide variety of programs and classes for parents and children throughout the year. Here are a few of the classes they are offering for the month of May.

Hitting, Biting, and Pushing: Managing Aggressive Behavior in Young Children (1–5 years)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015 from 7–9 pm
Young children can quickly and easily become overwhelmed by strong feelings that lead to aggression. As a parent, you can find mortifying to watch your child behave aggressively and not know how to intervene. During this workshop, you will acquire strategies to prevent, manage, and respond to aggressive behaviors, including biting, hitting, and grabbing toys. $40. With Susan Byrd, LCSW. Register here.

Marin Family Weekend Fun for May 1, 2, & 3

May 1, 2015
Terra Linda-Sleepy Hollow Divide
Take a family hike at the Terra Linda–Sleepy Hollow Divide this weekend.

Here are our picks for great events and activities for children and families this weekend. Find more events for the whole week in Marin and beyond in our Family Events Calendar.

Friday, May 1

  • Breakfast with Enzo
    Sports Basement, San Francisco Presidio
    Friday, 10 & 11 am

    Enzo Garcia plays guitar, banjo, accordion, musical saw, Jew's harp, enzotar, appalachian dulcimer, slide flute, percussion and more. Recommended for children 7 and under. Drop in any time. Cost: $7 per person; siblings under 7 months free. For more info, call (415) 652-2474 or visit his website.
  • Kids' Pajama Party with Dev Petty
    Diesel Bookstore, Larkspur
    Friday, 6 pm

    Pull on your PJs and bring your teddy bear to the bookstore! Author Dev Petty will be here to read you a bedtime story. Get cozy in front of the fireplace, listen to a story or two, have some milk and cookies, get your books signed, and then head home for bed. Location: 2419 Larkspur Landing Circle, Larkspur. For more info, call (415) 785-8177 or visit their website.

Saturday, May 2

  • Museums on Us Free Day
    Various Museums
    Saturday & Sunday

    Bank of America cardholders can visit the following Bay Area museums for free! Enjoy the Contemporary Jewish Museum, de Young Museum, and the Legion of Honor. Photo ID and a valid Bank of America/Merrill Lynch credit or debit card must be presented. For more information, visit their website.
  • Tour of Novato and FunFair Carnival
    City Hall, Downtown Novato
    Saturday, 6:30 am–2 pm

    The Tour of Novato and FunFair is a bicycling event and family fun day held annually to raise money for Novato schools. The Tour of Novato bike or walk takes place from 7:30 am–1 pm and the FunFair from 10 am–2 pm. There will be live entertainment provided by the talented students of Novato, crafts, games, jumpee, giant slide, sticky wall, and much more. Tickets: $10 per person or $25 per family. For more info, visit their website.
  • Water Safety Day and Firefighters Pancake Breakfast
    Terra Linda Community Center & Pool
    Saturday, 8–11 am

    Come join City of San Rafael Firefighters for a free/donation pancake breakfast. After enjoying breakfast, come meet Josh the Otter and learn about water safety. There will be fun games and activities pool side to teach young children about being safe around the pool. Dress up like a lifeguard, go for a raft ride in the pool with a lifeguard, bounce in the bounce house or get your face painted. Location: 670 Del Ganado Road, San Rafael. For more info, call (415) 485-3344 or visit their website.
  • Petaluma Kids Gran Fondo
    Lucchesi Park Community Center
    Saturday, 8 am–1 pm
    The Petaluma Kids Gran Fondo gives youth and their families the opportunity to donate and/or fundraise for children with disabilities, local schools, and other groups. Individuals and families will celebrate together by biking, running, walking, skating, skateboarding or rolling (wheelchairs) on one of the four course options. Participants will enjoy a complimentary lunch and a kids expo filled with bounce houses, a climbing wall, balance bike races, clowns/balloons, face painting, Three Twins Ice Cream, Clo the Cow, and much more. Registration fee: $10 per event. Location: 320 N McDowell Blvd, Petaluma. For more info, visit their website.
  • Children's Day Festival in Japantown
    Japantown Peace Plaza, San Francisco
    Saturday, 9 am–4 pm
    There will be entertainment, food and hands-on craft activities for children in recognition of Japan's national holiday to celebrate children. Free and open to the public; additional fee for food. Location: 1610 Geary Boulevard, Japan Center, Nihonmachi Mall, San Francisco. For more info call (415) 567-5505 or visit their website.
  • Mt. Tam Healthy Parks Family Hike
    Pantoll, Mt. Tam State Park
    Saturday, 9:05 am

    Breathe the fresh air and enjoy the sights, sounds and scents of nature on this easy guided hike on Mt. Tam. Designed especially for beginning hikers and those who are unfamiliar with the parks, this walk starts and ends at the Pantoll Kiosk and takes approximately 1-1.5 hours. Healthy sweets and tea or hot cocoa are provided after the walk. Parking is available for $8. For more info, visit their website.
  • Touch a Truck
    Oak View Nursery School, San Rafael
    Saturday, 9:30 am–noon
    Kids (and grownups, too) will get a chance to get behind the wheel of some amazing vehicles and rub elbows with their hometown heroes. Admission is $5 per person, and kids under 1 are free. Baked goods and beverages will be available for sale (cash only please). Participate in crafts and face painting, sponsored by UrbanSitter. All proceeds from this event will fund special programing for Oak View Nursery School students. Location: 70 Skyview Terrace in San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marinovators STEM-STEAM Make Day
    Marin County Office of Education.
    Saturday, 10 am-3 pm

    Come celebrate with the curious open minded youth of Marin who design, make, create, and code. See how the future is being imagined, programmed, invented, manufactured, and 3D printed by Marin County students. You can see robots in action, state-of-the-art technology, flying quadracopters, and hands-on demostrations of the coolest hardware and software from Autodesk and Microsoft. Free. Location: 1111 Las Gallinas Ave., San Rafael. Register online for this free event here.

Fun, Sun, and Sand at Pismo Beach and the SeaCrest Oceanfront Hotel

April 30, 2015

SeaCrest Oceanfront Hotel Pismo Beach

One of the great things about living in California is that you don't have to go far for an amazing family getaway. Whether it's up to the mountains or down to the seashore, you can get where you want to go in just a few hours at most. We love to visit new places along California's coast, and for our most recent family trip we decided to head south to the Central Coast town of Pismo Beach.

Located about four hours south of the San Francisco Bay Area on Highway One, Pismo Beach is one of those classic California beach towns that encourages you to just unwind and take things a little slower. I've driven through it many times on the way down to Southern California, and never really stopped there other than to admire the amazing views of the Pacific Ocean. I'm glad we decided to stop and stay awhile—we had a fantastic time!

Touch a Truck at Oak View Nursery School in San Rafael this Saturday

April 28, 2015

Touch a TruckThis Saturday, May 2, put your imagination in gear and come to Oak View Nursery School for their third annual Touch a Truck event! At Touch a Truck, kids (and grownups, too) will get a chance to get behind the wheel of some amazing vehicles and rub elbows with their hometown heroes.

Come and explore and get behind the wheel of your favorite vehicles, including a fire truck, dump truck, police car, school bus, tow truck, and even an army Humvee. This year, they plan on having even more trucks than before! It will definitely be a day to remember.

Touch a Truck takes place from 9:30 am to noon (rain or shine). Admission is $5 per person, and kids under 1 are free. Baked goods and beverages will be available for sale (cash only please). Participate in crafts and face painting, sponsored by UrbanSitter. All proceeds from this event will fund special programing for Oak View Nursery School students.

Oak View Nursery School is located at 70 Skyview Terrace in San Rafael. To get there, take Highway 101 to the Lucas Valley/Smith Ranch Road exit and head west on Lucas Valley Road. Turn left (south) onto Las Gallinas Avenue, then left again onto Skyview Terrace and follow it up the hill.

For more information, visit www.oakviewkids.com.

Mothers Day Adventures in Marin and Beyond

April 28, 2015

Point Reyes WildflowersA leisurely Sunday brunch is a Mothers Day tradition for many, and you can find plenty of family friendly options in Marin here. If your family is the more adventurous type, however, why not check out some of these fun alternatives in Marin and the North Bay. From wineries to museums to hikes to picnics, there's plenty of fun to be had by all! Mothers Day is on Sunday, May 10, 2015.

  • Mothers Day Art in the Park takes place at McInnis Park in San Rafael on Saturday, May 9 from 10 am to noon. Kids can work with Marin Parks rangers to make a special piece of art to give to Mom on Mothers Day. Supplies, smocks, and healthy snacks provided. Meet at the Hillside picnic area at 310 Smith Ranch Road. Free. Learn more on their website.
  • Angel Island is a fantastic Mothers Day destination! This Mothers Day, the first 200 moms to board the Angel Island–Tiburon Ferry get a free pair of sunset cruise ticket to use during the 2015 season. Pack a picnic and spend the day on the island!

A Visit to the Marine Mammal Center

April 28, 2015

Marine Mammal Center

Ever wonder who takes care of the seals, sea lions, and other marine mammals that end up stranded on California's coast? Marin's Marine Mammal Center has been on the scene rescuing and caring for sick, injured, malnourished, and abandoned marine mammals—including elephant seals, seal lions, harbor seals, sea otters, and even whales—since 1975. Currently, the Center has over 200 patients—it's the busiest they've ever been—so it's a great time to visit and learn about what they do.

Located at Fort Cronkhite in the Marin Headlands, the Marin Mammal Center's new $32 million facility opened in the summer of 2009, and offers daily tours, as well as educational activities for the entire family, especially on Marine Science Sundays. It's a wonderful destination as an outing on its own, and as a not-to-miss part of a visit to the Headlands.

Family-Friendly Mother’s Day Brunches in Marin

April 27, 2015

brioche french toastMother's Day is on Sunday, May 10. Brunch is always a popular outing in honor of mom, and here are a dozen of our favorite family friendly spots for a Mother's Day brunch in Marin.

All information is correct at time of publishing, but please check with the restaurant to confirm. You should also make your reservations soon, as Mother's Day brunches fill up pretty quickly.

Click on highlighted links for more info.

  • Brick & Bottle in Corte Madera features a Mother's Day buffet brunch and dinner from 11:30 am to 9 pm. Brunch items include eggs benedict, brioche French toast (pictured above), beet salad, and special selections at the hot table. Dessert includes Meyer lemon tart with fresh raspberries and chocolate chip and snickerdoodle cookies. $55 for adults and $19 for kids 12 and under. Reservations recommended: (415) 924-3366. Brick & Bottle is located at 55 Tamal Vista Boulevard, in the Marketplace shopping center.
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