Izzy Eats: The art of raising a gourmand, one bite at a time
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
When I finally found my seat on the Path train, I was exhausted and my allergies had begun to manifest. The train was mostly empty, save for too oldish Asian ladies who were eyeing me and gesturing with one another towards me. They certainly weren't admiring my fetching outfit or my lovely hairdo. What seemed to pique their interest was something in my granny cart, although aside from some parsley peeking out, it was hard to see what was in it. Their conversation was quite animated but I finally gave up trying to figure it out and took to reading something until I reached my stop.
Well they got off too and one of them approached me. The big excitement? At first it was hard to tell as her English was limited but it turns out that they wanted to know if I had personally made my envirosax. They had been coveting my smart shopping bags all along! I showed them the website on the the side of the bag and they nodded and walked away.
See, I am not crazy. They were staring at me!
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
He may not exactly fall into the bambino category any longer but he'll always be mine... Even as he waves away the papparazzi!
A long afternoon at pottery class and Izzy works up quite an appetite. My friend R. decided that 'Ino , just a sliver of a panini bar, tucked away on Bedford Street would be a good place to fill his belly. There is not much wiggle room inside so it is truly for the well-behaved bambini.
The menu is filled with bruschette, panini, salads and other authentic Italian wine bar fare. It is the perfect spot for a glass of wine and an appetizer or for a light meal. That being said, we managed to eat enough for dinner, Izzy saving just enough room for a cannoli on the way home.
Izzy had a smooth root vegetable soup and we shared a bresaola,asparagus and pecorino panino. I had an arugula and Jerusalem artichoke salad and my friend R. had an awfully piggy tasting sopressata and arugula panino.
'Ino is definitely a pleasurable place to stop, whether for a quick drink and a bite to eat or a lengthier meal. It is also situated on a street dotted with all sorts of offerings so you could make a grazing evening of it as well. Along Bedford Street a few places I spotted were Blue Ribbon, Chez Henri and Ditch Plains. I think I might just find myself wandering in that direction more frequently.
Monday, April 28, 2008
I don't go to Target very often because it is so easy to get sucked in by all of the cheap goodies. Apparently I need to keep Izzy away too as he was instantly drawn to this sparkly pair of sandals, the perfect celebration shoe.
We went in search of party goods and gardening shoes. Izzy found these instead. He insisted on trying them on and was even more convinced that he had to have them. I told him that they were nice but that his friends might tease him since they were girls' shoes. He said he wouldn't mind and tossed them in the cart, along with his lavender faux crocs. I wondered what would happen come check-out time. The lavender crocs I could manage but the sparkly sandals, cute as they may be, were simply not practical...
Come to think of it, much of Izzy's definite ideas about his upcoming birthday extravaganza might not be so practical either but hopefully they will be fun. You see, Izzy, just as last year, has been instrumental in the party planning process. He plants a few seeds that set the ball rolling..this year that seed was a meatball, which has morphed into a gardening party and a three-tiered birthday cake.
And, not to disappoint anyone but I don't think he will be wearing those magenta sandals at the party. When we got to the check-out our cart was overflowing and I told him he needed to choose between the magenta or the lavender. He really needed the crocs so he begrudgingly handed over the coveted sandals. Maybe he will receive them as a birthday gift, size 12 please. After all, I do not want to squelch his inclination towards all things pink!
Tune in to find out what mayhem ensues.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
So much simpler than real pizza and almost as satisfying, this should be everyone's Passover staple. I would even consider serving it as an hors d'oeuvres when it isn't Passover. It was that good. And mind you, I prepared ours with cheddar, cup cheese, and parmiggiano which is all I had around the house. It was such a breeze I feel a recipe is not even required.
I made a simple tomato sauce with fire-roasted tomatoes and a bit of diced onion, hint of oregano. Smeared this on the matzos, the sprinkled with freshly grated cheeses and waved a bit of olive oil atop, placed in oven for 8 minutes at 450 F.
If you have any extra matzoh lying about the house, this will put it to good use, unless of course you are planning to make to make the chocolate-caramel matzoh, that is!
Friday, April 25, 2008
I have suffered from horrible seasonal allergies since I was a child. I remember being excused from gym (what purpose that served, I am not quite sure though I didn't mind since I loathed gym) and sitting outside with another friend who had the same excuse. I wasn't given much medication for my allergies as a child and when I eventually began to experiment with the available medicines, I disliked the side effects.
Instead I took to drinking herbal concoctions which would help diminish my symptoms, all the while trying not to tear my eyeballs out they itched so much and counting the days until June, when my symptoms typically subside.
This year I decided to explore some alternative remedies. Apparently there is much anecdotal evidence to support the theory that a daily dose of raw, local honey and bee pollen, will help diminish allergy symptoms.
I have been unable to locate any concrete research to back these claims and even the Honey Board published an inconclusive study on the subject, yet I imagine that it can't hurt to try. It is certainly no chore to add some honey to my tea every day. Bee pollen is definitely less palatable, for it has an indescribably odd flavor, to be expected from bee vomit I suppose, which is what my husband calls it.
I have also been drinking "real milk" which is also supposed to eliminate allergy symptoms. I have found anecdotal evidence as well as a recent study which supports this remedy. Unfortunately I am not sure I have been drinking enough milk to actually test the theory but I have been drinking "real" cow and goat milk and eating the yogurt too.
So far, I am experiencing mild symptoms, intermittent sneezing and scratchy throat. Will keep you posted as the season progresses.
I am afraid that some of them may have felt hungry because they refused the unfamiliar, healthy snacks that I brought in:
Monday: Matzoh with cream cheese and assorted vegetables
Tuesday: Vegetable platter with bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers, chickpeas etc.
Wednesday: Assorted fruits: Apples, oranges, bananas and sliced cheeses/matzoh
Thursday: Homemade hummus with snap peas, carrots, tomatoes and matzoh
Friday: Fruit smoothies
According to Izzy, they ate the matzoh and cream cheese and it seems that most of the vegetable platter, aside from the chickpeas, was eaten though I am uncertain if it was actually eaten by the children. The fruits were a definite success and the container was empty. The hummus was another matter, and I found it practically untouched. I had to let the teachers know that they could finish it. Izzy had eaten gobs of it in the morning as I prepared it so he didn't have it at school. Not certain as to the fate of the cheese..
Today's fruit smoothies were received with mixed reviews. I ask you, what is not to like about milk, fruit, a bit of yogurt, and agave?? Are children so accustomed to ultra-sweetened drinks that strawberries and milk don't do the trick? I couldn't believe how many said things like, "I don't eat bananas." or " I don't eat strawberries." Or how about the ones who looked at the various fruits and said, "I don't eat any of that." which I new quite clearly was untrue. I must figure out a way to break the smoothie barrier but I am afraid I need assistance from the parents.
One teacher suggested it could be the result of "corn syrup" addiction, wherein their palates are primed for the sickeningly sweetness. I chalk it up to a few things. Unfamiliarity and unwillingness try new things which is permitted and fostered paired with the fact that this year's classroom chaos/teacher upheaval, has left snack as less than a priority. Perhaps not enough has been made of encouraging the children to try new things as was done last year. Note to self: I can work on that for next year.
As for the state of snack on a daily basis, I am concerned with the reports of repeated consumption of Thomas' Bagels. Having grown up with only fresh hot bagels from the nearby bagel shop, the thought of a bagel in a bag is a sin. When I looked at the ingredients label I cringed. Granted, there is only one semi-nearby bagel shop and I don't see myself traveling there on a regular basis to supply the classroom with bagels but there must be a more suitable alternative, I just need to find it.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Step two was for Izzy to eat the peanut butter, so the doctor fed at small amount to him with a popsicle stick. Then began our interminable wait in the busy (allergy season) doctor's office. We read books. Izzy drew and entertained the other patients. Then the novelty began to wane and hunger set in. When the only snack left, an apple, was gone I wasn't sure how much longer we could go on. As luck would have it, it was our turn.
The doctor took one look at him and it was clear that Izzy appeared as perky as ever. No hives, no rapid breathing, NADA. So we can safely assume that peanut products are back on the menu. The other good news is that despite Dr. Ehrlich's fear of the contrary, peanut butter is indeed Kosher for Passover.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Monday, April 21, 2008
Am I five yet? When will I be five? Is four and eleven twelfths bigger than five? Will I always be bigger than x? Will x always be bigger than me? How old is Papa? Is that older than 50? Is 100 older than 50? Is it my birthday yet? Is it the day after the day after tomorrow?
When the big day arrived it was dwarfed slightly by the whole Passover thing but we did manage a candle in a macaroon and gifts from friends.
The day after the big birthday we had more to celebrate. We went to Town Hall to see Izzy's most favorite band, They Might Be Giants. We had fantastic seats and A. and I were perhaps even more enthralled than Izzy, who sat mesmerized, at the edge of his seat for nearly the entire concert. This was followed by a whirl on the Bryant Park Carousel and then back home for seder, take two.
Fashion which seems to be a recent interest, was in evidence on his first school day after turning five. He emerged from his room that morning dressed in red shorts, a red t-shirt and a blue apron. He added his chef's hat and was ready for school. I had no problem with the outfit though worried that the hat might cause an uproar at school. And it did. His teacher, Miss V., promptly suggested that he take it off and reserve it for circle time or that I take it home. Neither was the right choice and Izzy pouted and cried in my arms for a few minutes and then relinquished the hat. The apron did remain on him the entire day.
Five seems to also coincide with a current obsession with flowers. Some of which should be left where they belong and not plucked from public areas others of which need to be left for everyone to enjoy. At least it was okay to pick a bouquet of these flowers. Arranging them was also fun.
But turning five is not over yet, as we still have the big party for friends coming up. Stay tuned for the menu and more.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Passover has occupied our thoughts and activities for days now. The night before the first seder, A. asked Izzy what exciting event was occurring the next day and he said, "Passover." His birthday seemed to be secondary despite the fact that he has been looking forward to it since his last one.
Passover took precedence in his mind because he and I spent three days of intense preparation for the two seders we hosted at our house.
The first night we had H., her brother and two daughters. The two year old was none too interested in partaking of the ceremony which was ultra-abbreviated. My guests got a taste of the foods but no signs of the 10 plagues. Which got me wondering how orthodox families manage. What do the little children do during the Seders which can supposedly drag on for hours? Are they fed beforehand? Do they go to sleep? How is one supposed to conduct a seder with small hungry mouths to feed and little voices squawking?
We ended that seder with a birthday candle in the homemade macaroons and Izzy was delighted, especially with his animal gifts.
There were so many dishes after that night I found myself washing them the next day and beyond.
For the second seder, there were nine of us at the table. I was able to extend the ceremony a hair but we still didn't get to the plagues. Since my friend R. was over an hour late there would be no pestilence around here only lots of good eats. To accompany our meal, my friend L. brought along her appropriately dubbed, "seder in a sack". Inside there were leftovers from her seder and some 'special' chickens.
The highlight of both seders was that Izzy managed to sing along a bit with the four questions in Hebrew!! I had been singing them to him for the past few days and I guess he absorbed a bit of them. Also worth mentioning is that Izzy's penchant for gefilte fish only seems to be increasing and he even brought it to school for lunch. As I packed it for him he said hopefully, " Do you think C. will bring Passover food for his lunch too?" I had to explain that most of his friends at school do not celebrate Passover. He couldn't imagine how that could be. He was happy to show his lunch to C. and also share his matzoh during snack time.
I know A. is already tiring of the brisket and I don't think even I want to eat it one more night. After all that cooking I barely feel like making something else and my fridge is still stuffed with leftovers. OY what's a mama to do?
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Eggs and matzoh meal are added to the processed carrots, parnsips, onions and salmon. Izzy prepares to pulse.
The final paste before it is formed into gefilte fish.
Izzy sampled one as soon as it came out of the pot. Yummy. Yummy. Yummy.
Salmon Gefite Fish Recipe here.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Seder Plate (Homemade Charoset)
Salmon Gefilte Fish With Chrain (Horseradish and Beets)
Matzoh Ball Soup
Brisket With Red Wine
Wild Mushroom Kugel
Roasted Parnsips With Olive Oil and Honey
Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes
As you can see, Passover is a labor intensive holiday and most of the cooking can be done in advance (which for me will be tomorrow). It is the holiday where I sorely miss the presence of some maternal relatives. If only I had a bevy of ladies like these to help out!
On the other hand, as far as I know, my grandma never made her own gefilte fish and she would have probably told me I was meshuganeh if I had suggested otherwise and my mother was not much for cooking (so I've been told).
Which leaves me with Izzy, my faithful kitchen helper (when he is in the mood and not at school). We were supposed to start cooking today but the weather was too nice so instead of starting my fish stock and gefilte, we went on an adventure to Liberty State Park.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
There I was, innocently pushing it along Seventh Avenue, with Izzy pushing his owl in a stroller, full speed ahead, when the cart hit an uneven sidewalk area. I didn't realize it but I kept walking, while the cart, laden with food, lurched backwards, caught my shin and caused me to stumble most awkwardly to the ground with granny cart on top of me. Had I been alone, Izzy would not have taken notice, given that he was waiting at the corner. Thankfully M. (a pottery class mom) was walking with me as our kids zoomed ahead, and she quickly came to my rescue. I hobbled to a nearby bench and only then did Izzy and friends realize that something was amiss and turn around.
Meanwhile I had a short rest and made an assessment of the situation. Although my ankle was slightly swollen, I figured I could make it home. Hopefully it is more of a surface injury as I have been able to walk on it with only minor discomfort.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Now I am no stranger to nursing in public but the scene was even a bit much for me. Particularly since I didn't want to suffer any "monkey see, monkey due" consequences. You see Izzy was nearly or maybe four and was fairly accustomed to not needing his boobie in public so I didn't want to give him any ideas. Nursing children are easily influenced by the sight of others so I quickly steered my shopping cart in the opposite direction.
I was reminded of the above scenario while reading Yummy Mummy's newest tale of shopping woes. She trumps my friend R., by baring her boobies in proximity to a gaggle of hunky firemen, lucky fellows. Much wackiness ensues as she tries to navigate the supermarket aisles. But she does get the shopping done.
In light of the latest in the annals of toddler tandem shopping, a few things have become quite clear : 1. Toddler nursing can be instrumental to a successful shopping trip. 2. Having one child sure does make shopping easier. 3. I suppose I should call myself lucky because Izzy usually waited until we left the store, wherein I was overburdened with too many bags and had to find some outdoor spot in which to awkwardly nurse him without scattering all of my purchases hither and yon. 4. All of my shopping excursions with Izzy have ultimately paid off and he now makes shopping easier. Just watch as he unloads his granny cart!
And that is only the half of it. The commentary and buying advice he provides add to the whole experience.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
You may wonder why I even bother to make my own gefilte fish. After all, I live close enough to Zabar's and Citarella where I could easily purchase a decent rendition (and I have in the past). Yet ever since I prepared gefilte fish at home I expect myself to do it and feel guilty if I don't. There is a certain je ne sais quoi about clouds of fishy steam enveloping me as I prepare the fish stock, by far the worse part of the process. Once the worst is over the rest is a breeze and somehow I feel involved in some ancient tradition as I form these Passover quenelles.
These light pink 'gefilte' fishes will surprise your guests and they are far more appealing to any goyim in the house. Because let's face it, how many non-Jews (or even Jews for that matter)truly like gefilte fish?
Salmon Gefilte Fish With Carrots
ANNE ROSENZWEIG of Inside
1 salmon or whitefish frame, cut up
1 onion, peeled and stuck with 6 cloves
2 carrots, chopped roughly
1 parsnip, chopped roughly
7 black peppercorns
1/4 cup white wine
Salmon gefilte fish:
1 pound salmon fillet, skinned and cut in chunks
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
2 small carrots, peeled; 1 sliced thin, 1 cut in chunks
1 small parsnip, peeled, cut in chunks
1/4 cup matzo meal
1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 cups fish stock (recipe above)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped dill
Fish stock: Put all the stock ingredients in a small stockpot and add water to cover. Bring to a boil; then immediately reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for just 15 minutes, skimming often. Strain and reserve the stock. (Can be made two days ahead.)
Gefilte fish: Chill the fish and vegetables. Place the onion, the carrot cut in chunks, and the parsnip in a food processor, and chop finely. Add the salmon and process to a coarse purée. Add eggs, matzo meal, salt, and pepper, and process until combined.
Place fish stock and sugar in a saucepan, and bring to a light simmer. With cold, wet hands, form the fish mixture into 8 quenelles. Poach the quenelles in the simmering stock, covered, for 2 minutes. Remove the quenelles to a shallow bowl and set aside.
Place quenelles in shallow serving dish and top with carrots and sprigs of dill. Pour stock over and allow to chill.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Meanwhile I have been musing over using it to make an exceptionally creamy macaroni and cheese...Stay tuned.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Later on that evening, I attended another Seder and upon returning home went to bed, where within minutes my water broke. There was no denying it at that point. My labor lasted an awfully long time but finally, 34 hours later, on April 19., 2003; Izzy was born.
Since Passover is decidedly my favorite holiday, I reveled in calling Izzy my Passover baby. True that though Passover doesn't fall at the same time every year I knew that the dates would eventually align.
And here we are, only five years later, and they have. What I hadn't counted on was the fact that I wouldn't be able to make or serve a normal birthday cake. At least not on his actual birthday. What I have managed to do is formulate a wacky plan which will allow for at least three birthday celebrations, one of which will include the school cupcakes on April 18th, before the actual beginning of the holiday.
Then I have plans for decadent Passover chocolate cupcakes and other desserts, followed by a party for his friends a few weeks later. All in all, perhaps being Passover baby will work out after all.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
I have to say, I have never seen a child get so excited about fish. I can hardly fathom it. I have the worst fish memories. I loathed most fish that came my way (except tuna), particularly the broiled sort, which my stepmother was famous for. It was always the same. Flounder or sole, sprinkled with paprika and margarine. YUCK! I could barely swallow the stuff and it stank up the house.
Izzy sees fish in an entirely different light. He even eats the trout skin, which I can't say I find entirely appealing, though I do eat it. How sad that I am raising a fish lover as fish supplies are dwindling...
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Apparently fish is his favorite food, or so he wrote in an "All About Me" book he recently created. I had mentioned that I might buy some this afternoon but when left to my own devices, I realized that I wouldn't have sufficient time to prepare and cook it so I opted for a roast chicken instead.
When I told him I had purchased a roast chicken he became disconsolate. He scooted along, tears streaming, bemoaning the sad state of his dinner and life.
As he walked, halfheartedly, down the Path steps, he sobbed, "I don't like chicken and I don't like you." A woman smiled knowingly and hurried on as she heard me offer this response: "That's okay. You don't need to eat the chicken and I will always love you anyway because I am your mama." I do hate to see him so upset and clearly something more than chicken was ruining his afternoon.
Finally on the train, thankfully a kind soul gave up her seat for my teary-eyed boy who sullenly munched on a slice of bread. Which was clearly the key to what had been ailing him. Surprise. He was hungry. He was thirsty and he had to pee. As soon as those needs were ministered too, he experienced a revival. He scooted home with a new outlook and a smile.
Once home, I set to making a few sides to go with the chicken. As he watched me prepare he exclaimed, "Yummy chicken. I want a wingy."
Monday, April 7, 2008
Following in the footsteps of Pete's father, Izzy and friends decided to turn me into a pizza too. They covered me with all manner of toys and foods from his kitchen. Clearly fun for all!
Saturday, April 5, 2008
My friend H. observed with raised eyebrow, as I mixed up this odd looking batch of dough, basically a butter cookie with the addition of buckwheat and cocoa nibs. She looked even more skeptical when they emerged from the oven. Her daughter, on the other hand, was easily won over upon first taste, though for Izzy it was not love at first bite, nor for me. We needed to have at least three before they became an addiction. Order your nibs now! This is one unusual cookie.
Friday, April 4, 2008
The two friends were so very absorbed in their meal, meatballs and sauce, plunked on top of plain spaghetti, old-school style. I haven't seen that since visiting some Italian restaurants when I was a kid but the vision came to me and I had to serve it that way. The meatball recipe, made with grass-fed beef, had an interesting addition, toasted pinenuts. You know I don't think I have ever made the same meatball recipe twice but I think this one might be a keeper.
My Mini Meatballs
1 lb. grass-fed ground beef
2 cups torn day-old bread, crusts removed
1 1/2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup milk (I used goat)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, chopped
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten
salt, pepper to taste (about 1/2 tsp. of salt)
1. Soak bread in milk for 15 minutes. Squeeze out liquid.
2. Saute onion until very soft. Add garlic and cook for two more minutes.
2. Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix by hand.
4. For mixture into walnut sized balls. Sautee in batches in a tablespoon or two of olive oil until browned on all sides. Remove to drain and then continue to cook in tomato sauce of your choice. I used two cans of whole plum tomatoes, one onion, 2 cloves garlic, bay leaves, salt and pepper.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
An impromptu visit to Chelsea Market this weekend led us to Buon Italia, a gourmet Italian food shop. Izzy was dizzy with glee as he skipped down the aisles, picking out random items. He was particularly smitten with the idea of black pasta and I will be challenged to find something to do with it, as well as the dried beans. In the meantime, it has been difficult keeping him from downing all of the anchovies in one sitting. Believe me when I tell you and he can attest, they are so much tastier than the jarred variety.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
This morning when I told him he was having our leftover tofu for lunch, he asked if he could bring the spice bottle with him. I guess I didn't realize what a crucial component it was to his meal. His teachers must certainly have been amused when he asked them to shake some on his food.
What's next? A stash of hot pepper flakes and a spice bottle to match every food?