Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Owen's 1st Thanksgiving

As you are no doubt aware, Thanksgiving is pretty much only celebrated by Americans (unless you're Canadian, in which case you celebrate it in October). That means that in the UK there's no holiday for us this week, so we make our turkey on Saturday.

The first year we were here we didn't really celebrate. I think that was the first time in my life that I hadn't had Thanksgiving turkey, and I missed it so much I decided to take the plunge the next year and roast my own turkey (in a tiny oven) for the first time ever (not only had I never roasted a turkey before, I'd never even roasted a chicken, and the thought of handling a raw turkey...eew...). Luckily no one got food poisoning and most of it was eaten, so I guess I did alright.

I have since become a seasoned turkey (and chicken) roasting veteran and every year we invite our friends (American and otherwise) to a potluck-style Thanksgiving dinner. I'm responsible for the turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, all of which I'll be making more or less the same way I do every year sometime between now and Saturday afternoon. I'm always torn between trying one of the many awesome looking new recipes I've seen or being traditional. There are a few of our friends that would be very upset if I didn't make things the way I always have, so I've decided that if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

We are always terrible about remembering to take photos (the one above was of Owen's first - I can't find any from last year), but since this is Claire's first Thanksgiving, I'm going to try to remember to get a few. And, I know it's a bit late for anyone needing recipes for this year, but I'm also going to try to take pictures of all the food I make and share some of my (I mean Food Network's, Epicurious, my mom's and Sean's mom's) secrets.

Friday, November 19, 2010

No more dummies!

So, Owen has now been 2 weeks without his dummy (pacifier to you Americans). Yes, I know that he's almost 3 years old and that we should have gotten rid of it AT LEAST a year ago. But, he loved it in a serious kind of way (you should have seen his eyes light up every night in between brushing teeth and story time when he exclaimed "it's dummy time!" and ran to the kitchen to get one), and it seemed like such a daunting task to rid him of it. We knew we needed to take the plunge with both a whole weekend ahead of us with nothing major planned and at a time when we hadn't just (or weren't about to) faced anything life-changing or disruptive (eg, new baby, travel). Somehow it took us until a few weeks ago to finally give it a go.

Turns out we probably made a bigger deal about it than necessary (typical of most parenting dilemmas I think, at least for us). We are most definitely not above bribery - he received several little "Cars" movie cars and a play mat that looks like Radiator Springs the night he agreed to first sleep without the dummy, then after one successful night (and a naptime) we went to the Disney store and he got to pick out another present (Cars themed again of course). The biggest problem was convincing him that he wasn't going to be getting presents EVERY time he slept without the dummy. Oh, and that he wasn't just giving it up for a night or two, but that there would never, ever be another dummy at bedtime or naptime either at home or at nursery (day care).

He has become what I would call a more "needy" kid at bedtime now - he needs us to lie down with him for a few minutes and cries sometimes for us to come to him and when we ask him why he needs one of us he says "because I just do". But, really it's not that bad, and after the first week, I'm not sure he ever mentioned the dummy at bedtime again.

I have to say, when I started writing this a few minutes ago, I was sure he was at the 3 weeks milestone, but according to my post on Facebook after the first night it's only been 2. Amazing how it's like he never had such dependence on it...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pardon me

I was looking for a cute photo of Owen and Claire to go with this post, but they're all on the camera right now and I'm too lazy to find the camera cord and download them. So, you'll have to have the story without any visuals. Sorry.
Owen burps and looks around slyly.
Owen: Pardon you Claire. 
Me: Why pardon Claire?
Owen: Because she burped.
Me: Uh, Owen I’m pretty sure that was you.

I think it's hilarious that he has figured out that something like this is funny. It boggles the mind, really. I guess he picked this up from one of the other kids at daycare, but who knows...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Leftover makeover

I suppose this isn't any more of a makeover of a leftover than it is an easy dish to make with a rotisserie chicken, but I seem to always make this when there's leftover roast (or grilled) chicken in the fridge, so there you go.

Basically, this is a Waldorf salad with chicken and some dried fruit added. Although I made it with leftover grilled chicken in the pictures here, it's a great fall meal with leftover roast chicken (I make mine more or less like this Ina Garten recipe, but don't add the carrot, onion and fennel to the bottom of the roasting pan and usually just make roasted vegetables separately). I've never tried this on Owen, but if you're planning to make it for toddlers, be careful about the nuts, as they can be a choking hazard. Slivered almonds would probably be OK, but I'd steer clear of big chunks of walnuts or pecans!

This is pretty good for something that takes all of about 5 minutes to throw together. It's even better with oven-baked sweet potato fries sprinkled with smoked paprika (my new favorite spice - yum). Since these photos came from a summer version, back when I didn't want to turn the oven on, we had it with broccoli slaw (I make it with half broccoli and half cauliflower) and tomato/cucumber salad, which is simply sliced or chopped cucumber, tomato and red onion dressed with equal amounts of extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar and some salt and pepper.

Not sure this is the most appetizing photo, but I promise it tastes good!
"Waldorf" chicken salad 

Leftover chicken – grilled, roasted, whatever. In this case I used the meat from 1 thigh and 2 legs
1 small apple, diced (I used a Gala)
2 stalks celery, chopped
Handful raisins (about 1/4 c), or golden raisins, or dried cranberries – any dried fruit really
Handful chopped nuts (also about 1/4 c), this time I used flaked almonds, but I usually use walnuts. Pecans would also be nice, but they're (sadly) harder to come by in London 

Mayo, about 1/4 c for this amount of “stuff”
Plain yogurt, also about 1/4 c
Wholegrain mustard, about 2 teaspoons (but depends on how “mustardy” you want it)
Salt and pepper to taste
Few leaves of fresh thyme, optional (I often add this when I have some left from my roast chicken); parsley would be good too I'm sure

Mix salad ingredients together in a bowl. Just throw all the dressing ingredients on top and mix well - no sense in dirtying another bowl in my opinion! Add a bit more mayo or yogurt if it seems too dry. Serve on (or with) bread of your choosing. I typically use pita, but that's just me.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Blackberry lime galette

This is woefully out of date, and I don't even have any pictures of it, but it goes with my last food-related post, so I just wanted to finish it up and be done with it. For what it's worth, I'm sure this galette could easily be made more seasonal - apple and orange anyone?

When I made the tomato and goat's cheese tart I figured there was a chance I’d have leftover tart dough, so bought berries to be prepared. I chose blackberries simply because they were on sale and looked nice. I'd love to say I picked them myself or even that they came from our Farmers' Market, but no, these were straight from Tesco. Oh well. I was trying to figure out what I could add to them to give the pie that something extra and saw a lime in the fridge. I was sure I’d seen that combination somewhere. Sure enough, I had but not in a pie. According to Google, blackberries seem to go well with lime in a pie situation, but most use them on top of a key lime pie/lime tart sort of thing, or part of cheesecake. I figured there was nothing to lose by trying a bit of lime zest and juice with the berries, and sure enough I was right.

Blackberry lime galette
I used another blackberry galette recipe for guidance on amounts of sugar and cornstarch, and the dough as already mentioned was from the David Lebovitz tomato and goat's cheese tart recipe.

Leftover tart dough (this was about 11-12 inches in diameter when rolled out)
Just under 1 1/2 cups blackberries
Zest of 1/2 lime
Juice of 1/4 lime
1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar (I like mine quit tart; if you’re into sweeter things, go for more)
2 teaspoons cornstarch (I read a few things on using cornstarch vs flour for thickening, and got the sense that, when it comes to pies cornstarch is better. If you prefer flour, supposedly you need to use twice as much.)
milk (or egg wash; I really hate wasting an egg for this purpose though)
Raw/demerara sugar (about 1/2 Tablespoon)

Roll out your dough so that it's roughly 1/8-1/4 inch thick. You're going for rustic, so no need to make a perfect circle. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with a Silpat mat (or if you don't have one, I am sure parchment or just spraying the sheet with cooking spray would be fine). Gently mix blackberries, lime juice and zest, 1 1/2 T sugar and cornstarch and pile onto the middle of the dough, leaving about a 1 inch border. Fold the edges of the dough over the filling, brush exposed dough with milk (or egg wash) and sprinkle with demerara sugar. Bake at 175 C (350 F) for about 30 min, or until the crust is golden.

Word of warning: steamed lime juice is apparently bad on the eyes – be careful when opening the oven the first time!!

What's going on

For those of you dying to know what I've been up to, and why I haven't posted anything recently, let's just say that having two kids under 3 is exhausting. And I've still got Owen in daycare 3 days a week! I don't know how full-time stay-at-home moms do it.

Anyway, here are a few pictures to show you what we've been doing lately.
Pureeing, and more pureeing...

...because this baby LOVES to eat!

 And just a few more for fun...

I have another now completely unseasonal food post 99.9% ready. Look for it sometime later today or tomorrow.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Lights out!

The other day, Owen says to me out of the blue when we were talking about going to the park, "When we leave we need to turn the lights off."

Huh. Good for him, and I guess he's paying more attention to our actions than I realize. The rest of our conversation went something like the following. Note: It's not all that easy to explain the concepts of energy/electricity and saving it to an almost-3-year-old!