Thursday, July 29, 2010


As I hinted at yesterday, we'll be away for a few days visiting my dad in Belgium (he's teaching a study abroad class there). I'll try to come up with something fun to write about (beer? chocolate? how to survive 6 hour car trips with a toddler and a 3-month-old?) while there. Until then...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

To-do list

I'm a big list person. To-do today lists; to-do someday lists; grocery lists; packing lists; to-cook lists; things I've cooked list; the list (ha!) goes on.

I plan to someday expand on my cooking-related lists, but today the list is more mundane. I wrote down a list this morning of all the things I need to do today and thought it would be funny to share with people. I don't do this every day, but sometimes it just helps me focus when time is short (we're going away for a few days tomorrow morning; more on that later too). I wish I had a scanner at home so you could see I'm not hiding something or making any of it up, but pinky-swear I am being totally honest.

Here it is (explanatory notes are in parentheses):
-marinate chicken (for dinner)
-raita (as in, make it. also for dinner)
-check pita (could be moldy, in which case we probably don't want to eat it for dinner)
-freeze milk (extra expressed milk I had for Claire)
-Owen's table (as in, clean it because there is definitely milk from breakfast souring on it's surface)
-water plants
-put away clothes in living room (laundry and Owen's old 6-9 month clothes I've been going through for Claire. Yes, she's only 3 months, but some 3-month clothes are already a bit small on her...)
-iron? (as in, only if I have time after doing everything else on the list, writing a blog post and surfing the internet, or if I really must take something with us this weekend that simply cannot be worn without ironing)
-Claire 3 month pic - facebook (she's 3 months today so I thought I'd post a pic or video)
-fingernails (as in, take off what's left of the polish that's already half-gone, and maybe repaint if time permits)
-exercise (I still have separated abs 3 months after Claire was born. I'm trying to do something about it, really I am, yet somehow I hardly ever find time to fit in my 15 minutes of exercises that are supposed to help them come back together.)
-Owen underwear (as in, buy him some with either Bob the Builder or Cars (the movie) on them so that I can convince him that underwear really are better than pull-ups)

Daddy said I could

Owen climbs up on a chair and is eying this clay pot we got in Morocco last year.

Owen: I want to play with this.
Me: No, better not.
Owen: Why?
Me: Because it’s breakable.
Owen: But daddy said I could.

Really? They can play this game already at 2 1/2?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Which 'wich?

There are a zillion sandwich recipes out there. Most of them are pretty silly. As Deb from Smitten Kitchen (my favorite food blog, as noted previously) once wrote, “…who needs a recipe for slapping things between two pieces of bread?”
Recently I’ve found myself in a sandwich rut. I'm home pretty much every day for lunch now, and sandwiches are my go-to thing. However, there's only so much ham/cheddar/mustard and tuna salad a person can eat. I started by at least adding lettuce and tomato to most sandwiches, and sometimes cucumber (especially with tuna) or even avocado. However, even that got boring after a while.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Car wash

We’ve just finished giving Claire her bath, and I’m getting her dressed in the kids’ room. Owen comes to me with a dripping wet Matchbox-type car.

Owen: Mommy, my car is wet.
Me: Is that because you put it in Claire’s tub?
Owen: No, it put itself there.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Fro yo, yo.

I’m not sure when the frozen yogurt “craze” hit the US, but I just know I used to eat TCBY (apparently they go back to 1981) in my hometown when I was in like 5th grade. I guess it’s the whole Pinkberry thing in the US (which apparently started in 2005), but I have no idea why it took so long to catch on here. Two fro yo places have finally opened in our area in the last year, and they’ve been cropping up all over London in the last 2 or so. One apparent difference about the UK is that the shops I’ve tried have plain/natural yogurt, which is awesome. Even “original” Pinkberry has sugar as the second ingredient. Does plain fro yo exist in the US anywhere? If not, it should!

Anyway, if your kids aren’t old enough to figure out that chocolate yogurt is an option, or that you can get it topped with Oreos instead of fruit, this makes for a super-healthy snack - the small natural at Frae is I think 85 calories, fat free, organic and with all the protein/calcium of normal yogurt. And of course it’s good for adults too. I made the mistake of actually telling Owen it was yogurt, but like ice cream. He was kind of confused, but then he tasted it. Unfortunately the neighborhood gelato shop still has these places beat because they have a shelf of toys and books for kids. Oh well.

If you live in London and want to try British fro yo out, Frog is perfect if you’re on the go (it’s a really tiny shop with nowhere to sit except a small bench outside on the street) and Frae is probably better if you’re looking to eat-in, which is kind of essential when a 7-10 minute walk in 80 degree heat is standing between the shop and your dining room or the shop and your nearest park. Frae’s still small, but there are several tables, and conveniently they're all just at kid-height.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Grilled s’mores, British style

Lessons learned: (1) Burned digestive biscuits (the closest thing we’ve got to a graham cracker in the UK unless you want to pay £6 ($9.15 at today's exchange rate, people) for a box of Honey Maids) don’t taste very good. Indirect heat is key. (2) While Cadbury’s is a superior substitute for Hershey’s (which you can apparently also purchase here at exorbitant prices), Sainsbury’s marshmallows (especially the pink ones that have raspberry flavoring) are far inferior to Jet-puffed. (3) You CAN roast a marshmallow indoors over your gas stove.

This was the first time Owen had ever experienced s'mores. He was begging for "just marshmallow" as we were trying to make them, but once he tried the whole gooey mess, he was asking for "s'more" for days. What kid wouldn't love this (in moderation, of course)?

I hate to put down a "recipe" for this, but I've been grilling things for a long time, and somehow never came up with the idea myself, so here it is...

Grilled (or indoor) s'mores
Adapted from a NY Times article by Mark Bittman: 101 Fast Recipes for Grilling, item number 99

Digestive biscuits (or graham crackers of course)
Chocolate bars (as I said, we used Cadbury’s milk chocolate, but I bet dark would be good too, and I suspect pretty much anything would be better than Hershey’s)

Grilled version: Put digestive biscuits on a piece of foil, top with chocolate and marshmallows and another cracker (if desired – we made our open-faced because digestives are just a bit thicker than grahams). Grill over low/indirect heat until the chocolate and marshmallow begin to melt; be careful to watch the bottom of your cookie so that it doesn’t burn!

Inside version: Place marshmallows on a metal skewer (or a wire coat-hanger if you’re feeling old school campfire-y; just please be sure it isn’t coated with plastic!). Roast on low heat over your gas stove burner. Assemble s’mores.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The kids' room

Personal family update:

Tonight is the first night that baby Claire (almost 12 weeks) will be sleeping in the same room with big brother Owen. She is just far too big for her little basket now, and I'm sure will be much more comfortable in her big crib. We've been prepping Owen on this for several weeks now, first setting up the crib and calling it the kids' room rather than Owen's room, then asking him how he would feel about Claire sleeping in the same room (wouldn't that be fun?), and finally having her sleep there during naptimes. Here's hoping this is a smooth transition - wish us luck!

Friday, July 16, 2010

When kids learn they can climb out of bed...

One thing I want to write about here is the often hilarious things my 2 1/2 year old (Owen) says. Without further ado, the first in a series I like to call "Mouths of babes".

I get an eerie feeling that someone is standing at the kitchen door. It's 9:15 pm, Sean (hubby) is at some work event or another and the kids are in bed asleep. Or are they? I turn to see Owen quietly standing outside the kitchen (his bedtime is around 8:15), and he scares the living daylights out of me, giving me a “Children of the Corn” sensation.

Me: Owen, why are you out of bed?

Owen: Because I’m are.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Beat the heat

Let's get this party started with some food. I have an arsenal of recipes I like to make when it's just too hot to cook. Unfortunately, it is apparently next to impossible to forecast the weather in London more than about an hour in advance, so my attempts to plan cool recipes for hot days and vice versa keep being thwarted. In any case, my take on the classic Cobb salad was still tasty, even though it was only about 70 degrees the day I made it.

 Hmmm...looks like something from the lab...

I’m sure plenty of people would argue that my version isn’t a classic Cobb, but it still tastes awesome, so who cares. I made some small adaptations from a recipe I found on Smitten Kitchen, which, in case you don't already know, is just about the best food blog ever. (And her baby is just about the cutest baby ever, you know, except for my two.) I can assure you there will be many more Smitten shout-outs to come on this blog. The most significant changes were that I mixed up the lettuces I used, and I left out the chicken and the chives. Why? I intended to include some leftover grilled chicken, but we ate it all up the night before (in a recipe I like to call "Waldorf" chicken salad, which I may post later). I hate using iceberg lettuce and am not a huge watercress fan, hence the lettuce adaptations. As for the chives, I plain didn’t see it on the original ingredient list when I made my shopping list, so oh well.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What's in a name?

It took me way longer than it should have to come up with a name for this blog. I'm still not sure I'm happy with this, but maybe it will grow on me.

I first thought about something about (not) being a super-mom or domestic goddess, but it turns out all those blog names/urls are pretty much all used up, and I couldn't be unoriginal, could I?

Then I considered my science roots, and thought I might go with something like "Multifunctional" because I have many different roles - mom, cook, cancer researcher/writer, etc. (for those of you who aren't in biology, the word multifunctional is used quite frequently, primarily to describe proteins that have more than one role or enzymatic function). For whatever reason, that just didn't do it for me.

So, I settled on this title - From Caviar to Green Bits. The idea is that the blog will be primarily about food and family/parenting (basically, my life these days), and the title covers both of those nicely, I think. The food part is pretty obvious, especially for those of you who have any experience with kids and their disdain for "green bits" in their food. I think this must be learned behavior, and I completely blame Owen's 4-year old friend Duncan for this. The funny thing is, Owen will quite happily eat platefuls of broccoli, but God forbid there is a little speck of green onion in his fishcake. Basically, I hope to talk about all aspects of food, ranging from those that are distinctly adult (e.g., caviar, which in case you're wondering, I don't like and actually have only eaten about twice in my life, but it sounded good) to those that are kid and/or baby friendly (i.e., no green bits, or at least well-disguised green bits). The idea that you even have to consider green bits, of course, is a parenting thing, so I hope it hints that that will be a part of the blog as well.

I've also got a few more things I plan to write about. More on those as and when they come up.

I hope you enjoy!

Third time's the charm, right?

Right. So, as noted in my old blog (which initially started out as something else before I re-branded it), I'm moving on to (hopefully) bigger and better things. Or something like that. This new blog will still cover lots of cooking-related stuff, but also my family, parenting fun, life in London and travel adventures.

I've got several posts done or in the works, so hopefully I can start off with a bang. No promises that I can keep it up, but I'll do my best.