Since St. Patrick's Day is this Saturday, why not celebrate by gathering the kids in the kitchen and whipping up a loaf of traditional Irish brown soda bread? It's so easy to make—and so good—that I bet you'll find yourself making it more than just on March 17.
This dense, moist bread gets its leavening from baking soda and buttermilk, hence the name. I happen to like the brown kind, made with whole wheat flour, the best, but you're welcome to use all white flour if you so choose.
Remember the Egg McMuffin? The childhood staple of road trips and early morning breakfasts on the fly is actually a good idea in theory. In fact an egg-based breakfast sandwich similar (but better) than the Egg McMuffin is reasonably healthy, kid-friendly, and surprisingly easy to make at home. It's also quick to whip up, making it suitable for weekday mornings before school, even. How quick? If you give me three minutes I'll give you a hot tasty breakfast sandwich.
For this basic iteration, I put together the traditional semi-international combination of egg, English muffin, Canadian bacon, and American cheese, just like at that place with the golden arches. Of course in my version they're locally grown cage-free eggs, organic American cheese slices, and low-fat Canadian bacon. I originally planned on using whole-wheat English muffins, but Trader Joes was out of them when I was shopping, so the sourdough version stands in this morning. For equipment, you'll need a microwave, a toaster, and a microwave safe vessel in which to cook the egg.
I think many will agree with me when I say that there's nothing quite like waking up to the smell of pancakes in the morning. That delicious toasty smell seems to beckon you out of bed and downstairs to the kitchen, where a hot plate of fluffy buttermilk pancakes, fresh off the griddle, waited, ready for you to slather with maple syrup and butter.
Unfortunately, when I was a kid, what I thought was the smell of pancakes cooking was usually a piece of food burning underneath the electric stove burner. I'd wake up early on a school day thinking that for some special reason my mom was making pancakes, and it turned out only to be an olfactory byproduct of boiling water for my parents' cups of Taster's Choice instant "coffee", which for some inexplicable reason they confused with real coffee for many years.
In fact, when I learned that coffee actually was made of ground up roasted beans I was pretty shocked, I tell you.
But I digress. Growing up we actually did get pancakes for breakfast, although they were usually restricted to weekend mornings. They also usually came out of a box, Bisquick being our family's baking mix of choice. These days, we usually reserve pancakes for the weekend, too. The Bisquick, however, is long gone in favor of buttermilk pancakes made from scratch. They're really not all that difficult to make, and are made up of a few things that you probably already have in your pantry. Read on, and banish the box forever.
I've found that one of the ways to get my kids to eat so-called "yucky" food (or rather potentially "yucky" food, since usually they've never actually tried it) is to involve them somehow in the preparation of it. Since it's summer, we tend to cook outside on the grill quite a bit, so combine participation with the spectacle of charring food over an open flame and you have pretty much an irresistable combination.
Let me first note that safety is first and foremost when cooking on the grill with kids around. Anything that gets hot enough to put a nice sear on the outside of a steak can similarly do so on someone's hand or arm, so the first rule of helping Daddy cook dinner on the grill is "stay away from the grill". The second rule is—wait for it—"stay away from the grill". Sensing a pattern here? Kids are not allowed outside unattended when the grill's hot, and trips outside to see what's going on are on a strictly escorted basis and confined to a safe zone on the deck overlooking the barbecue area.
One of the springtime's treats is homemade strawberry rhubarb pie. My four-year-old somehow got the notion that we were going to make a pie, and has been lobbying me to do that for a couple weeks now. So I went out shopping and picked up some strawberries, rhubarb, and some of the frozen pie crusts that Trader Joes sells.
Just so we're perfectly clear: I may be a wannabe house-husband, but I don't make pie crust, since those that I have tried to make end up with the texture of cardboard. The Trader Joes offering is made of pretty decent stuff (i.e. no partially hydrogenated oils) and is really good, so I usually just buy those when I find it necessary to do some pie making. Right now strawberries are fresh, abundant, and cheap (I heard a news story on the radio recently that explained why, but I wasn't really paying attention so I don't remember), so go get a mess of them and make yourself a pie!
Here's my recipe, amalgamated from a variety of sources to make a pretty tasty pie:
Yesterday after school, we had my daughter’s friend, Emma, over for a play date. Like most multi-tasking mothers, I started getting ingredients for dinner ready while they were playing. Emma kept coming into the kitchen to stare at my ingredients and to ask questions. When I told her that we were making Asian Lettuce Wraps, she wanted to know why I liked to make foods from other countries. I happily explained how fun it is to try new foods. She leaned over the steaming pot of pad thai noodles and loved that they were almost invisible…I am so lucky to have a career that sparks such enthusiasm in kids!
Our fishing expedition on Flathead Lake this summer was comical. Despite our best efforts, we were unable to catch anything, even though the boat next to us was reeling in fish every time we looked! Clearly, there was something we weren’t doing right. As a man from the next boat yelled over to us, “What kind of bait are you using?” a crazy thought entered into my mind: Feeding children is a lot like fishing – you have to have the right lure, or they won’t bite! Packing desirable school lunches is a lot like the fine art of selecting an appealing lure while fishing. Try some of these stress-free strategies for packing healthy lunches that your fish will bite and not refuse.