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'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.
I recently discovered a cooking show that is new to me, and I am so happy that I did. Jamie at Home is a fantastic show, featuring Jamie Oliver, a very well known chef in England who has been instrumental at improving the school lunch program there. He is a rustic chef, who cooks with whole foods, natural ingredients (many right from the garden) and cooking tools that the average chef likely has on hand. This year, as you know if you are a regular reader here, I have been indulging in loads of winter squashes, most of which have been grown by my favorite local farm, Fully Belly. When Jamie Oliver prepared Squash Muffins, I had to give them a try. The biggest surprise about this recipe, is that he prepared them using raw squash with the peel still on!
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!