Izzy Eats: The art of raising a gourmand, one bite at a time

Stirring tales of eating, cooking and foraging in my never-ending quest to provide, great-tasting (local and organic whenever possible) EATS for me and my boy(s).

Monday, June 30, 2008

Art Before Food?

I really did have great plans for Sunday. I was looking forward to going to The New Amsterdam Public Market at the South Street Seaport. I wanted to support the effort to bring more regional and sustainable goods to New York City. I couldn't want to sample the breads, cheeses and other delectable edibles. Alas, it wasn't meant to be. Izzy had something else in mind.

It wasn't exactly his fault. He had a very busy day on Saturday and come Sunday morning he was still exhausted from all sorts of shenanigans. What he needed was a lazy sort of day at home. He did not seem keen on any adventures and he was more interesting in staying home and having an art sale. I was certainly torn. The market was calling to me but how could I discourage my budding artist and entrepreneur?

I couldn't, especially since I knew that an unwilling five year old would not have made my market day bright. So instead I helped in the art sale endeavor. Providing foods, beverages and display support as Izzy proceeded to arrange his wares on the stoop, just as he did last year, awaiting eager buyers. When things were slow, he decided he needed to paint outside, so passersby would see the artist at work.

Izzy concocted this art sale concept one day last year, after having been stuck at home for a few days during some sickness or another. He had been painting non-stop and accumulated many works. As he pondered what to do with them all, he came up with the art sale idea, modeled after a stoop sale. Turned out to be a success, hence his interest in doing it again.

And as luck would have it, many people stopped by, either to browse, buy or chat. I made new acquaintances and he sold several pieces. We both had a fine time and I just had to resign myself to the fact that I can't forage for food all of the time. Other things do take precedence. Which might explain Leena's blog survey results which indicated that most food bloggers don't have children (71%, in fact.).

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I'm Sorry I've Found Another Goat: Two-Timing Cheese Lover

Last year I professed my love and undying devotion to Sprout Creek Farm's Do Re Mi Fresh Goat cheese. The flavor and texture is exceptional and I once thought, beyond compare. I still am a devotee but the problem is, Sprout Creek Farm has gone and done me wrong once again. They no longer have a stand at Union Square this year and I have been feeling forlorn.

Then last week I had a chance encounter with a new goat cheese. In honor of dairy week, Consider Bardwell Farm a Vermont farm, had a stand at Union Square, one day only, There artisanal goat cheeses, both fresh and aged, are excellent. The Metowee is a must try. Luckily they are sold at Thompkins Square Market on Sundays which may just warrant a detour.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Stringing and Shelling, Oh So Compelling: From Pea To Pancake

Each year, I eagerly await the arrival of fresh peas at the market, just so that I can make this recipe. It is adapted from one I found several years ago in the New York Times, for Heirloom Pea Pancakes. I have since discovered that frozen sweet peas are a fine substitute if you are not in the mood to shell.

Although many vegetables lend themselves to a pancake-like preparation, none do it as well as these peas. Not only are they a great showcase for fresh peas but they are also fun to make. From the stringing to the shelling, they keep little hands busy. I asked Izzy to help shell but it turned out that stringing was more his thing.

We used both Sugar Snap peas and English peas, which are blanched, pureed and turned into batter.

The end result? Crisp and buttery on the outside, soft creamy pea within.

Fresh goat cheese on top is the icing on the pea..

Pea Pancakes with Garlic Scapes (served with goat cheese)
4 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed
1/2 cup freshly shelled green peas
1 tablespoons minced spring garlic or garlic scapes
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup whole wheat or white flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste.

1. Fill a bowl with ice water. Bring a pot of water to a boil, then lightly salt it. Add sugar snap peas to boiling water, and blanch for 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, and plunge immediately into ice bath. Remove sugar snap peas from ice water, and reserve. Repeat procedure for the shelled peas, blanching them for 3 minutes or until tender. Reserve.
2. Puree sugar snap peas with the milk and the cream in a blender or food processor. Pour into a large mixing bowl, and whisk in the egg. Sift flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into mixture, and whisk to combine. Coarsely puree reserved shelled peas and garlic, in food processor, then fold into batter.

3. In a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat, melt 1/2 tablespoon butter and 1/2 tablespoon olive oil Drop tablespoonfuls of batter into pan. When edges are lightly browned, place pan in oven and bake for 1 1/2 minutes. (I usually skip this step but it makes turning them trickier). Remove from oven, and flip pancakes over gently with a spatula. Cook until bottoms are lightly browned; return to oven for another minute. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Repeat process until all batter is used. Eat as is or serve with a generous dollop of fresh goat cheese.

Yield: About 14 pancakes.

I usually double the recipe. You can make these the day before and warm up in a 350 oven for about 15 minutes.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sweet Greens: Kale,Caramelized Onions and Cranberries

What to do with my greens? That is my weekly question and I usually just braise them in olive oil with caramelized onions or garlic, like this. The onions certainly help to reduce the bitterness but this time I added extra sweetness to the mix in the way of dried cranberries. Turned out to be a fine combination.

Kale, Caramelized Onions and Cranberries

1 medium bunch of kale, trimmed of stems, rinsed and chopped into ribbons (easier for kids to eat)

1 large sweet onion, finely chopped

2-3 tablespoons dried cranberries

olive oil



1. Saute onion sprinkled with salt, over low heat until soft and browned.

2. Add kale, cranberries and 1/2 cup of water. Turn to coat and cover. Simmer over low heat until kale is tender, about 15-20 minutes. Add more water if necessary.

3. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 3-4 servings.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Where Have All The Kitties Gone?

And Mama too...For the past two days there have been no signs of my beloved cat family. Their food has gone uneaten, left to the flies. I do miss them and hope to find out what has happened. Meanwhile, various theories have been tossed about.

1. My next door neighbor J. suggested they had been eaten by the huge raccoon he spotted the other day.

2. Someone else thought that the "cat lady" took matters into her own hands. She advised that I call the local shelter and see if they were brought in.

3. Miss L. and others have said that mother cats often move their family if they sense danger.

4. I prefer Izzy's explanations: "Oh Mama. They'll be back. They just went to visit Grandma Cat!"

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

CSA Tuesday Tidbits

Now that I have my own garden, I take advantage of the fact that a real farmer visits my house once a week. Not only does he drop off the wonderful produce he has harvested but he is full of invaluable garden advice.

At today's drop-off, which included potatoes, snap peas, kale, lettuce, garlic curls and catnip, I asked him to come out back today to examine what I thought was a vegetable but he deemed a weed. While he was back there I tried to impress him with my gardening prowess. As I am accustomed to showing my garden to novices, for a moment there, I forgot who I was talking to. I pointed out one of the potted herbs, "And this is parsley." Well, duh. If he doesn't know that...

We both had a good laugh and I gave him a piece of cake for his troubles and he was off.

I then spent the rest of the morning as members stopped by to pick up and chat. I do love to hear what others prepare with their shares, not to mention gossip of one kind or another. My favorite tip of the day comes from my neighbor L. She suggested massaging the kale with salt and eating it raw. Do let me know if this works for you.

Jersey City: A Peek Inside

Mommy Poppins, a website full of great kid-friendly information and advice, has posted a neighborhood guide. Check out my post on Jersey City here. You might just consider moving!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Beyond Banana Bread: Chocolate Banana Cake

Given that bananas are an exotic, tropical fruit, why is it that so many of us find ourselves with a surplus, left to attract fruit flies on the counter?

Whatever the reason may be, they need not be destined for banana bread boredom. And because we may see the demise of the banana in our own lifetime, we should put them to far better use. Like this wonderfully lush and moist Chocolate-Banana Cake. Once you try it, your rotten old bananas will no longer be an affliction but instead a much coveted ingredient.

Chocolate-Banana Cake


4 very-ripe bananas, mashed (1 1/2 cups)
1 cup sour cream

1 cup unbleached white flour
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3 large eggs

3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Butter and flour a 10 cup bundt pan.
3. Mash bananas and sour cream together, set aside.
4. Sift dry ingredients.
5. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Then add eggs, one at a time.
6. Beat in half flour than banana mixture then remainder of flour.
7. Fold in chocolate chips.
8. Bake for 55-65 minutes or until tester comes out mostly clean (chocolate chips may leave residue on tester).

Serves 10-12

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Outerborough Outing: Olafur Eliasson at P.S. 1 (and MOMA )

An impromptu Sunday afternoon outing led us to the Olafur Eliasson exhibit at the MOMA. It ends on June 30th so you still have time. GO! This flying fan is reason enough. I watched as the younger set romped underneath it with glee.

Your ticket also gets you into P.S. 1 in Long Island City, where the exhibit continues, with all sorts of interactive installations. Not only that but there is a wonderful urban farm exhibit going on there as well.

And if you get hungry or thirsty, there is a cafe with snacks, lunch and homemade sorbets (the chestnut was unusual and tasty).

Izzy was transfixed inside the urban chicken house and I got a kick out of it myself. The gardens are another sight to behold. Great space, great time.

Don't take my word for it. Just go and make a day of it.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

These Kittens Look Awfully Cute...

But do I really want one?

Not so much when I walk down the pet food aisle at the supermarket or when I smell the stink of the cat food as I open the can. Not so much when I imagine cleaning the litter box. Only when I watch them play do I imagine that it might be a good thing to have a kitty around the house. However is the gift of nuzzling a soft cat worth enduring all that? The jury is still out...

I called a "cat lady" today to find out our options. I have been considering TNR (trap, neuter, return) but I don't know if I have the wherewithal to carry that out without major assistance (not to mention the fee of fifty dollars per cat). I would have to trap the kittens and the mama separately and endure the horror of this separation. I can't bear the thought of upsetting those cats, even if it is "for the greater good" of the cat population. I cannot bear to remove the nursing kitties from their mama either, no matter that the cat lady freely sanctions early weaning. Yes they do eat solid food but as Izzy noticed just the other day, "Mama, the kittens are having cat boobie on the wall." Yes, even though they are almost 10 weeks old, they are still nursing. The mama cat is surely a La Leche League poster child, nursing those toddler kittens.

Then there is the option of trapping, neutering and finding homes for the kittens which would remove cats from our neighborhood population but not do anything towards truly helping the feral cat problem (or so they say). The mama cat would be returned, alone, with nobody to keep her company, destined to a life of loneliness. Then again, the kittens might go on to lead joyous, happy lives.

Lastly, leave the family be and continue feeding them, encouraging more cats to wander into our yard, eventually creating a cat colony which would seriously disturb our neighbors. Tonight already, a new mama cat came inside of our house. A. sat blissfully unaware as this bold creature just walked in through the kitchen door and meandered down the hallway.

What to do? It is plain to see that A. and Izzy can't get enough of kitty observation but does that mean we should adopt one?

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Bonk Zoo: A Day Of Bruises and Animals

One of the day's calmer moments...

Until today, Izzy and I had never made a trip to visit the Bronx Zoo. I had been there once or twice with A. but it wasn't one of my favorite places. Since I am more of a Central Park kind of gal, I didn't feel remiss in waiting so long. Besides, without a car, a trip up to the Bronx would take too long to even contemplate.

That being said, the call of the elephants (which we didn't get to see) can be strong and when H. mentioned the possibility of going this week, Izzy jumped at the chance. Before we left this morning, I baked a batch of Chocolate-Chip Banana Scones, packed up a bag full of lunch and snack items, including smoked mozzarella, tomatoes, strawberries and baby carrots and we were on our way.

By the car from Jersey City, the trip was only 35 minutes, far less time than it takes to get from one end of that vast zoo to another. We arrived at 10:30ish and I thought that meant ample time to see the sights. Yet somehow in between snacks (including a giant bucket of popcorn) and lunch we only managed to glimpse the following: Bison, Birds, Antelope, Baboons, Giraffes, Tigers, Lions, Polar Bears, Turtles, Fish, Prairie Dogs, and Peacocks. More time seemed to be spent begging for snacks, eating snacks, having lunch, and traveling from one location to another, either walking, taking the cable cars or the shuttle bus. And I won't even get to the interminable car ride home, during Friday rush hour traffic. 35 minutes turned into 2 hours spent with starving children. At least I still had snacks left to share and H. kept shoving whole-meal biscuits into the back seat to quiet the hungry trio.

To make matters worse, many bruises ensued from the running and cavorting with friends. Bloody scraped knees, bloodied hip bones were only the beginning. When I got home I discovered a cartoon-sized bump/bruise that had erupted on Izzy's forehead, where he had bonked it on the ground earlier in the day.

It looked so awful it warranted and call to the doctor and here I sit worrying and blaming our trip to the zoo, which seemed more work than pleasure for me. My wise friend G. tried to remind me to "Think of how much fun the kids have." Hmm...Can't they have fun some other way? There must be a more pleasurable way to enjoy this zoo.

Since I actually purchased a year-long membership, I will have to figure out what that is. I really would like to see the elephants and I know Izzy would too.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Some Want A Golden Goose, Others, A Pickle?

I have long spoken of Izzy's pickle predilection. Lately I have taken to toting around a quart of them, with chopsticks on hand. Those pickles sure do come in handy for staving off any hunger pangs.

Just don't let one fall off of the stick...as happened to my bedraggled child today, after a long day of visiting Great-Grandpa, visiting his friend M. and then having to walk a long way.

During said walk, Izzy requested a pickle on a stick. I obliged and as we meandered along, the half-eaten pickle fell to the ground. Since we were almost at our destination, I told Izzy to wait and I would replace the pickle then. That was not soon enough. Oh no.

He stopped, dead in his tracks, wailing, "Mama, I want a pickle NOW!" His wails continued the entire three blocks it took us to reach a bench where I could sit down and provide a pickle replacement. In between, onlookers gawked as he cried, "You promised me a pickle now, not when we get to Uncle E's. I'm hungry. I need my pickle now!" His anger reached epic proportions as he angrily poked at my granny cart. I couldn't turn around because, despite his tragic sobs, the hilarity of the pickle tantrum had hit me and I had to stifle my giggles.

When I finally got myself situated on a bench, with rinsed pickle in hand (I couldn't waste that precious fallen pickle, now could I?), I threaded it on to the chopstick and Izzy gobbled it down and immediately requested another. After that, two slices of foccacia. This at six p.m. and he still ate dinner.

Grounds For Sculpture: A Kid-Friendly Day Trip From NYC

Sights to see.

Room to roam.


Where: Grounds For Sculpture, Hamilton, NJ

When: Best in spring or fall or on a coolish summer day. It can get quite hot.

How: Train ride (@ 1 hr. 30 minutes) to Hamilton from Penn Station, 5 minute cab-ride away.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Dinner And A Movie: A Pre-Birthday Celebration

In celebration of my birthday I asked a group of friends to join me for Sex and the City, followed by dinner. I think I have seen maybe one movie in the past five years so this was truly a cause for celebration.

I couldn't wait to see it despite all of the nasty press it received. Sure it is somewhat cheesy but having been an avid fan of the show right up until we got rid our t.v., I can easily swallow the cheese and inhale the pure pleasure of Carrie, Miranda et al. as they prance around in one outrageous ensemble after another. It was like seeing old friends and I wouldn't mind seeing them again.

Following the movie, in heels way too high for my usual meanderings, we walked over to Nomad, an adorable North African restaurant in the East Village that has been on my restaurant "to go" list for far too long.
It was just as I had hoped, with a menu full of briouats, tajines and other classics. I had a lamb and prune tajine, which was tender, sweet and flavorful.. I will definitely return with A., who, like me, has an certain fondness for North African cuisine.

I Do Like Surprises: Quirky Birthday

There I was, at 6:10 p.m. last night, thinking that I was destined to a birthday of Chinese takeout. My text messages had gone unanswered and as far as I knew, no plans were afoot. Then I received the following:

"Home in ten minutes"...

A. being home before 6:30 is certainly out of the ordinary so I perked up, wondering what might be in store. Was he bringing home something to cook? Takeout from the city?

Well he walked in with a large box. Izzy was as eager as I to tear the paper off of it. Was it a cat carrier? No. Too heavy. What could it be?

Yes. It was a Goped scooter. A scooter to match the one Izzy received for his birthday. Now Izzy and I can scoot around JC together, in fact, all three of us can. What a perfect birthday surprise.

And it only got better from there because after scooter tryouts, we went out to a new place for dinner. The Embankment Restaurant which is conveniently located about two blocks from our house. Please don't heed the naysayers (Who are these people anyway? Do they eat out much? Are they even more discerning than A. or me? Doubtful). This spacious establishment is a boon to the neighborhood. Nearly everything we ordered was noteworthy, save for Izzy's dish of beef cheek ravioli which was disappointing considering the caliber of the rest of the meal.

What is their to dislike about this copious frisee salad with chewy, smoky lardons and goat cheese on grilled bread? The quail egg added the perfect touch. It was a great starter, followed by my large hunk of grilled Painted Hills Rib-Eye, served with an crunchy side of potatoes rosti..Add attentive service, relaxing atmosphere and this place is a winner. Can't wait to try it for lunch and their bar menu.

And Then There Were Three: The Cat Family Saga Continues

How do we know the cats are hungry? The mother cat usually comes sniffing around our back door or peeks out from behind some greenery by the neighbor's fence. Late this afternoon, the entire cat family emerged and sat on the back wall, awaiting their supper.

Normally we serve them closer to the back wall, so that they don't feel threatened. But each day we have been inching them closer to us so that we can get a better view.

When they all came down to eat we discovered that one was missing. Now there are only two gray kittens with white paws and a third one that is completely gray. I only hope that the missing kitten has been adopted and not met an unfortunate end.

The cats have not been eating breakfast with us as often as before and we discovered why. Apparently a neighbor has been feeding them breakfast on a special dish (The nerve! how dare she feed our cats!)

And the debate rages on in our household. Leave the cats be and continue to feed them? Trap, neuter and return to their habitat or keep one for us?

Still researching the possibilities...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Cat Tales Continued: Making Contact

Our backyard has become a mini "Wild Kingdom" as we watch the mother cat raise her kittens. Each day we make new and exciting observations. Cat entertainment has become the highlight of our outdoor meals.

A week or so ago, A. fashioned the above contraption to serve as a sort of cat shelter, to keep the cat and her kittens dry. It has become more of a spot to place their food. A. places the food dish just inside the opening, causing the kittens to stick out as they eat. This was strategic planning which enabled A. to pet one kitten while it was eating. The kitten allowed him to stroke its fur for quite awhile. Even Izzy had a turn and the kitten didn't run away.

The kittens have become more and more brazen. They will now eat in our yard. They seem to have some trouble sharing but they do get along eventually.

Even though the kittens have begun to eat solid food, as of last week, they were still nursing. From what we have heard from our neighbors who have taken in the runt, they are now about nine weeks old. Look how cozy they look!
To be continued...check back later.

Farmers In The City: Catalpa Ridge CSA

How did I forget to mention that this past Tuesday was the inaugural delivery of our first CSA shares of the year. This is my third year hosting the Hamilton Park group for Catalpa Ridge Farm and it promises to be a fantastic one.

Farmer Rich and his wife, sometime Farmer Sue were both on hand which is rare, for this delivery. We each received a bag brimming with Swiss chard, garlic curls, fragrant mint, lettuce, radishes and sweet onions. I can't wait to see what else the season brings.

Farmer Rich was kind enough to have a look at my tiny garden and dispense with tidbits of advice. I hope I have his luck with my tomatoes!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Scorpions For Snack?: Now These Are My People

Matthew Forney, in his fabulous piece in today's Food Section of the New York Times describes how he and his wife have raised their children to eat everything.  As Americans growing up in Beijing they have had access to an array of exotic foods that boggle the imagination.  From deep-fried scorpions to Tibetan Yak jerky, they eat it all.  Forney and his wife offer superlative advice for raising adventurous eaters.

1.  Breastfeeding is the best way to prepare children for a life of good eating.  "Our kids started off right because she breast-fed them, which "opened their taste buds."  He says he is not sure if this is scientific but I will let him know.  It is.

2. Children will not starve themselves.  If they know they have no choice they will eat what you give them... eventually. "People learn to eat what is available or they starve. Fussiness never enters the picture."

3. Parents and peers are great role models. "My wife who is Italian, makes sure olives and strong cheese reach our table every day, even in China."

4. If you don't keep it in your house, it won't be an option. "Roy and Alice (his children) never faced the snare of microwave pizzas, Cheez Whiz or spaghetti from a can.

Now if only I could get them to come visit and share some those scorpions with Izzy!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Beef Delivery: Gobs of Gamey Butter, Grilled Venison and Unexpected Dinner Guests

It all starts here.

For several months now, on a bimonthly basis, I have been receiving deliveries of "real milk", eggs, cheese and other "fresh from the farm" goods, including ground beef. Every so often, there is a glitch in the delivery and I am either missing something or have received something that doesn't belong to me. This time my ground beef and cup cheese had gone missing.

The cup cheese had been replaced by butter and the ground beef had been left behind and since I don't have a car, I figured that I wouldn't be seeing it any time soon. Enter D., the organizer of farm affairs. Being a faithful reader of my blog, she seems to have taken a fancy to Izzy and me.

Late this afternoon, she called to say that she would be making a special trip out to Jersey City to hand deliver the beef. I explained that it was not urgent but she insisted. When it occurred to me that she and her husband would be arriving at the dinner hour, I invited them to join us.

Though I have never met D. before, our dinner was meant to be. Yesterday I had defrosted and marinated a large package of venison steaks (a gift from my brother's property) with about five servings, not knowing who would eat them.

They called only about an hour before dinner so I had to rustle up some side dishes to accompany the grilled venison. I prepared a quinoa pilaf and a chickpea, grape tomato and lettuce salad.

When they arrived we immediately settled in the yard where D. surveyed our garden. She brought along gifts of lemon balm and pineapple mint which will fit in perfectly with the add assortment of things I have growing. She also brought some chopped lovage which I have no idea how to use and dried mushrooms which are always great to have around the house.

As we chatted and awaited the venison, I was sure to put out plenty of bread and butter. Since it was rather late for Izzy, he began his meal with the bread and butter. I watched in amazement when D. showed me the gobs of butter that other disciples of the Weston A. Price Foundation slather on their bread. I can only take the raw butter in small amounts as its gamey taste can be a bit overwhelming. Can this really be healthy? I'd like to believe that it is.

Meanwhile, A. was in charge of the meat. So while I chatted, he cooked. The grilled venison, which had been marinated in red wine, rosemary, olive oil and shallots, was tender and flavorful though a bit overcooked (our propane tank emptied during grilling time and the steaks had to be finished on the stove).

Throughout the meal, A. listened skeptically, as D. and her husband touted the virtues of saturated fats, including coconut oil and heavy cream. Not one to believe in extreme dieting of any kind I am sure he found some of their ideas outlandish.

Me, I want to believe. I do like butter and if it were to taste like this butter, I might be more inclined to slather gobs of it upon my bread. Until then, I will use it in moderation, with a bit of sea salt.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A Week's Worth of Snack: For Naught?

Monday: Organic grapes and homemade banana bread with brown sugar

Note: Izzy forgot to eat the banana bread and not only that but only half was gone at pick-up.

Tuesday: Buttermilk biscuits with raspberry jam.  Warm from the oven.

Note: At drop off, I offered to slice them all and put the jam on them, as I knew they would be unfamiliar to many of the children.  I was told not to (big mistake).

Izzy told me that he ate them but not many others did.

Wednesday: Secret Fruit Bars: Prepared with oats and mixed berries. Akin to a homemade granola bar. A sure bet and quite popular last year.

Note: Not so much this year.  I am getting increasingly perplexed.

Thursday: Cream cheese and jam finger sandwiches. Bakery bread and organic cream cheese.  Multi-colored sliced peppers.  What could be wrong with that?

Note: Izzy says he ate his but they were not a big hit either.

Friday: Mini-Banana Muffins, warm from the oven.

Note: Izzy said that he ate billions and billions of them.  Apparently his classmates did too since they were all gone.

How could it be that so many of these homemade snacks went untouched?  I asked the teacher, to confirm and that was where I found my clue.  She hesitated to respond and then said something about the children "not liking" the snacks.  How would they know whether they liked them or not if they DIDN'T TRY THEM???  It was then that I was reminded of last year and how the teacher would incorporate a brief discussion of the day's snack into circle time.  She encouraged them to try and try they did.  

The Cat Who Came To Dinner: Feral Cats Chez Nous

Believe me when I tell you I had nothing to do with this, at least not a first.  It was A. who became fixated on a feral cat in our neighbor's yard who had given birth to a litter of five adorable gray and white kittens.  I have to say, they were awfully cute, especially when they began to frolic about, romping in the underbrush.

A. mentioned that the mama cat looked awfully scrawny and asked if I had anything around to feed her.  I found a tin of very old sardines which were, in fact, our "honeymoon sardines" from Belle-Ile-En-Mer and I offered them up to nourish the mama, knowing that we would never be brave enough to eat them ourselves.  

A. put the sardine on a stick and he and Izzy climbed up to lean into our neighbor's yard, where the cats were residing.  The mama cat was clearly interested, enough to eat the entire tin.  I guess those sardines weren't rotten after all.

After an offering of white anchovies went untouched, the next thing I knew, A. and Izzy were off to the bodega to purchase some cat food.  A. strategically placed a tin in our yard and pretty soon the mama was snacking on our back wall.  Every so  often, a bold kitten would come over to inspect the offerings.  Mainly the food went to the mama, who needed all the sustenance she could to keep nursing all of those kittens.

The following morning, Izzy awoke and whispered in my ear, "Time for cat breakfast." Never mind getting ready for school or work, nothing could compete with feeding the cat.  Why was Izzy late for school?  He spent too much time feeding the cat!   Cat breakfast and cat dinner have become all consuming for Izzy and his papa.  And with all of this new found attention, mama cat has been getting bolder and bolder.

This morning, she chanced an entry into our kitchen.  Since it has been so hot in our kitchen, I have been keeping the back door open.  When I stepped out of the room for a minute, she took her chances.  I found her under the kitchen table.  I was so startled that I startled her an she ran out.  Which is a good thing because I don't know if it is such a great idea to dine with feral cats.

Which doesn't mean we won't continue to feed her well. Today I presented her with the head, skin and bones of a fabulous smoked trout. She dragged the intact skin over to her babies and they all feasted upon it, leaving nary a morsel. She then came back and finished the head on her own.

 I am not exactly sure how this cat tale will end. I have been researching feral cats a bit and I do like the idea that they keep our neighborhood vermin free. The kittens are so cute that I am somewhat tempted to domesticate one (our neighbors have already taken the runt who they found crying and trapped in a fence). There are others who believe that I should trap them, neuter them and return them to my yard. We are not sure how to proceed but will keep on feeding them for the time being.

Friday, June 6, 2008

So Glad I Chickened Out

Was it last autumn when I mused over applying to be the next Food Network star?? Was I drunk or delusional? What could I possibly have been thinking? I don't even have a t.v. and haven't watched Food Network in ages. So glad I didn't go there.

When I saw this clip last night, I was brought back to my temporary moment of insanity and breathed a great sigh of relief that I hadn't gone beyond contemplating the application. I couldn't even handle the stress of an ordinary restaurant kitchen (have I mentioned those days?), let alone what was going on amongst the contestants of the new show.

If I did have a t.v. I would not be able to avert my eyes. Check it out for a good laugh or two.

Can I Live Up To My Reputation?

The Yummy Mummy has elevated me to celebrity status. Yes. She has selected me as a worthy recipient of this fabulous award. I have no idea what it means or if I feel like passing this on to others. But I am eternally grateful and thank my loyal fans.

I small problem I see is that despite what The Yummy Mummy might think, I would most likely not be up to concocting tofu in the airport bathroom with my pantyhose because:

1. I loathe pantyhose and don't own any..too petro for me
2. I "skeeve" airport bathrooms! What if my precious Izzy were to touch some germs and get ill while traveling?

What I would consider is keeping a portable burner in my luggage. Although nowadays that could be dangerous since someone might peg me for a terrorist at the airport. Which leaves me with just packing a separate suitcase full of food "just in case." My husband always looks at me cross-eyed as I pack up my hard-boiled eggs, goat cheese sandwiches and myraid other goodies but let me tell you, he never seems to turn down the offerings.

It is true that I go to great lengths to avoid fast food and other unseemly foods we might encounter on planes, trains and cars but it pays off in the end. A well-fed child is a happy one.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Hamilton Park Farmer's Market Special: Clover Blossoms - 10 Cents A Piece

Don't think that I would allow the farmer to sit home chuckling over the fact that he sold some city folk a lamb's diet, not to mention something that grows freely in our own backyards. No, no, not I.

What we happily did do was take the free sample and Izzy, little lamb that he is, chewed it right up.

What I would really like to find out is if anyone else bought some, cause last I read, the only thing left from his stand were some stinging nettles. Mighty interesting inventory this here farmer was selling...Can't wait to see what's on offer for next week.

This week, aside from the clover blossoms and stinging nettles, he had showpiece lettuces and some certified organic brown eggs, a carton of which awaits us in the fridge. If he keeps his promise of meat and poultry, he could very well make a great addition to our neighborhood. Keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

So Many Posts, So Little Time

If I had it my way, I would blog more than once a day. But this has been a busy busy week. So many ideas are floating around with nowhere to go. Yet life must go on as the stories build up and sometimes there is no time to get my fingers over to the keyboard.

In fact, right now they should be at the sink or somewhere else but I must take a brief break to give an inkling of some tales to come:

- feral cats

-Hamilton Park Farmer's Market

-Arthur's Landing once again

-school snack week recap - My last stint as snack mom for the school year

-honeymoon sardines

Stay tuned...I may even get to something later.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Jerusalem Artichoke Gratin:An Unusually Delicious Dish

If you are looking for something new and interesting to use for a side dish or main course with salad, look no further. Jerusalem artichokes are knobby to behold and slightly annoying to peel but once that part is completed they are easy to deal with.

I prepared them gratin-style and there was nary a morsel left. Izzy practically licked the gratin dish and even his increasingly picky father seemed to like them.

Jerusalem Artichoke Gratin (adapted from Jamie Oliver's recipe)

1 cup heavy cream

1 lemon juiced

2 cloves of garlic finely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped

2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 lb. Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick

1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs

olive oil

salt, pepper

1/2 cup spring garlic broth or water

1. Preheat oven to 450 F.

2. Mix cream, lemon juice, garlic, half the thyme and half the cheese.

3. Add garlic broth or water to moisten. If it still seems too dry, add more.

4. Add artichokes and mix well.

5. Layer artichokes into a gratin dish, cover with parchment or foil and bake for 35 minutes or until tender when pricked with a fork.

6. Remove cover, add bread crumbs mixed with cheese and thyme, drizzle with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes longer.

Serves 3-4

Sunday, June 1, 2008

This Cheese Smells Like Poop

The cheese in question was cut from a small round of St. Marcellin, a pungent cow's milk cheese from the Rhone-Alps area of France. We had feasted on some last summer and when I saw it the other day it brought back memories of our lovely trip. I just had to buy it, even though I suspected that it might not measure up.

I noticed it only today, realizing I probably should have eaten it days ago. When I unwrapped it and handed it over to Izzy, his immediate response was, "This smells like poop." Of course that would have deterred me from sampling but no, not my intrepid child. He held the small triangle in his hands and insisted on a tiny taste. The tiny taste turned into a full bite and in seconds he had devoured his piece and was asking for another.

Wait. What does that mean? Poop tastes good? Or it didn't really smell like poop. I hoped for the latter. I had no choice but to taste for myself. It lacked the luscious buttery texture of our Parisian cheese but the flavor vaguely resembled the French version. And I am happy to report, it didn't smell like poop to me.