Friday, October 2, 2009

What Holly Hobbie Taught Me: or, How to Make the Perfect Pancake on Saturday Morning

In 1979, the year before my baby brother was born and life would change forever, Saturday mornings meant my Holly Hobbie pajama-shirt and a bowl of cereal on a tin TV tray perfectly placed in front of my thin blue and white Holly Hobbie sleeping bag. We’d stay there until the School House Rock videos rounded out the morning and segued into lunchtime. It was then that I’d pack my Holly Hobbie lunchbox with enough goodies to make it through the afternoon and climb onto my Holly Hobbie banana seat bicycle, Holly Hobbie basket and all, and leave the world behind for the rest of the day. You see, I was rather obsessed with her: the bonnet, the prairie dress, the wildflowers, the oh-so-pure little girl who I oh-so-identified with.

It was a simpler time, when it was normal (as opposed to trendy) to make all your own jam, gather fallen leaves and weave them into a crown, and sit in the sagebrush cave in the empty lot next to your house and talk story to your Holly Hobbie doll. But then brothers are born, and life becomes more complicated. Fortunately, someone in my life had the delicate insight to know that a little girl with a new baby brother would want (read “need”) to start doing some cooking for herself every now and again, and I was gloriously gifted Holly Hobbie’s Cookbook, the little book that changed my life. Up until this point in my life I don’t think I had done more than dipped an apple in peanut butter, or put a slice of raisin bread covered in cottage cheese and cinnamon in the toaster oven. But, I found myself suddenly inspired. I began flipping through the pages, marking recipes I wanted to try, and dreaming of time spent cooking with her, my hero, Holly Hobbie.

So the next Saturday morning, I awoke early, as we usually did on Saturday mornings. But instead of rushing for a bowl of cereal and cartoons, I snuck into the kitchen by myself, pulled on my handmade “Ginger” apron, and begin mixing batter with Holly.

Here’s what Holly Hobbie taught me about making the perfect pancake:

1. Your batter should be a little bit lumpy. To this day, I don’t why, but slightly lumpy batter makes pancakes better.

2. Test the griddle. Sprinkle drops of water on the pan. When the water “dances” then the griddle heat is just right. Do NOT attempt to pour your batter on the griddle until it is perfectly ready. It makes all the difference.

3. When the tops of your pancakes are full of bubbles, and only then, turn your pancakes over. Make sure you turn them before the bubbles break. I am not sure how many pancakes I had watched my mom make, but somehow this tip never really stuck with me until Holly said it.

4. Pancakes always taste better when eaten with people you love! Isn’t that the truth? Thanks to Holly and her pancakes, Saturday mornings mean pancakes. Thirty years later and life has become even more complicated. Two kids. A mortgage. The question of whether or not to spend my precious time “tweeting”. Where is my Holly Hobbie cookbook now that I really need it? Time to go digging.

Old-fashioned Buttermilk Pancakes(not exactly Holly’s, but with all the love)

1 egg*
1 ½ cups buttermilk**
2 T. vegetable oil
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
*To make vegan, use Ener-G egg replacer for eggs
**To make vegan, substitute 1 cup soy milk and 1 T. vinegar

Blend egg, milk and oil. Blend dry ingredients and add to liquids. Heat griddle. When water sizzles, your griddle is hot enough. Pour batter onto greased griddle from pitcher or tip of large spoon in pools slightly apart. Turn pancakes as soon as they are puffed and full of bubbles, but before bubbles break. Turn and brown on other side. Serve with pure maple syrup and butter. Makes ten 4” pancakes.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Broadway Café

It's almost funny how much our lives revolve around our next meal. So much math, reading, science, and problem solving comes from our time in the kitchen together. And now, writing is happening a lot more in there too. Zeal has actually always written his own recipes (or typed them on the computer). And he's had a semi ongoing project with a friend that is a recipe scrapbook of sorts with photos and recipes they make together along with drawings and stickers and such. But now, our latest project takes our family's favorites and makes our kitchen our very own diner. Introducing the latest Zeal tidit to be produced in our sweet little kitchen...

The official Broadway Café menu...

This tri-fold menu includes all of Zeal's favorites: breakfasts, snacks, soups, salads, main courses, beverages/smoothie, and desserts. He worked on it for about a week- making lists, brainstorming, categorizing, naming favorites, and finally typing and formatting the menu the way he wanted it (I helped with the descriptions).

Now this is not to say that we will begin short order cooking, but this has been such a wonderful way to further document some of our favorite meals. And as we prepare to move from our house on Broadway to our new home in Hawaii, I get a little teary when I read his menu just thinking about the era in his life that is coming to an end. And then excited thinking how our life menu will continue to expand.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

tools to kitchen creativity

Cooking with a child is another wonderful way to connect: with each other, the world, and our unique creative selves. It allows us to explore natural materials, mimic real scientists, and learn ways to approach future problems. As children play with recipes and ingredients, they ask questions and make discoveries that will lead to a greater understanding of their world. So with an eye towards encouraging our kids to really get cookin', here are a few wonder-filled tools that help can us cook up some good old-fashioned curiosity and creative fun together.

See the rest of this article on The Savvy Source!

Friday, April 10, 2009

nests updated

We had a few extra supplies and so revisited the crispy treat nest project yesterday. This time, we used a muffin tin (lightly oiled) when forming the nests. It worked wonderfully! It was much easier for the kids to get a nest shaped, and they were able to work on them while the mixture was still warm. Some of the kids used a spoon to get the nest shape and some used their fingers. Both methods worked well, and the nests quickly filled with many different "eggs" fit for snacking from in between the active play moments of the afternoon.

So if you're looking for a little cooking project for your holiday weekend, this one is for all the cool kids!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

don't drown your food: or remembering retro

Remember those old Saturday morning cartoon PSA's? Today, I was on a few long walks down memory lane, one of them that included sharing those sweet memories with a few of my very favorite kids. It all began when we were in the middle of eating, a great time to tell old tales and share memories together. So we got to talking about dipping food and our favorite sauces, and this little piece emerged:

Come to find out, this wasn't remembered by several of the adults in attendance (which I still can't believe). For me, this (and all the other PSA choices you'll find that come up when this little video finishes) were such a part of my childhood, and I so remember them fondly. And to think, now they are considered retro. I just love sharing retro with my kid and his friends. So fun to give them a little piece of my childhood.

And doesn't this little bit of eating advice go over so much better when it is coming from Lewis the Lifeguard as opposed to Mama the Nag? I think so.

Monday, April 6, 2009

getting nesty!

From the little golden nest that hangs from the living room reading lamp (the subject of the mythology of the living room buzzard), to the papîer-måché nests that live with the fairy houses, we've been really getting nesty these days. So why would our food be any exception?

In celebration of spring and all this lovely bird watching weather we have been having lately, we made some little nests fit for snacking. We used the time-honored crispy treat combination, but substituted Fiber One cereal to make it more stick and twig-like. We formed them into little nest shapes and added some locally made speckled chocolate eggs we found. Of course, jelly beans, jordan almonds, or any other egg shaped candy would work just as well.

Happy nesting!

Friday, March 27, 2009

dessert for breakfast - strawberry napoleons!

I woke up one morning last week to a sign hanging in the entry to the kitchen that read:

Dear Mom,
Can you help me make strawberry napoleons when I wake up?

It was so sweet; I can't believe I didn't get a picture of it before it got repurposed.

Well, as you might know, strawberry napoleons are a rather sweet dessert, NOT a breakfast item.

But, yes, I am usually up for the challenge of turning dessert into breakfast, so here is what we did:

1. Bake puff pastry sheets.
2. Split baked puff pastry sheets (top from bottom) and cut into appropriately sized individual pieces.
3. Whip some cream (we use our vitamix blender for a quick whip) - leave it unsweetened.
4. Add some Dr. Oetker's organic vanilla pudding and mix with the whipped cream.
5. Slice strawberries into a bowl.
6. Set up your assembly line (assembly line cooking is always a perfect way to involve the little ones in any project - sushi, sandwiches, desserts like this!):

7. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

anjali's handprint cookies

When I first learned I was pregnant, I ordered this cookie cutter kit from Chinaberry.

When Anjali was 4 weeks old, I was finally able to get her to spread her fingers long enough to get an outline of her hand so we could get her cookie cutter made. One the side, it is engraved with her full name and birthdate. So sweet.

We used a standard sugar cookie recipe (good Ol' Better Crocker), but substituted buckwheat flour (because that is what we had). Zeal thought that was a good attempt at her skin color, "except she doesn't have little specks on her skin." We also decorated some with frosting and sprinkles and shared them at a potluck. They didn't last very long, so we didn't manage to get a good picture of the batch. That will probably be what we do for her first birthday.

Anyway, here's her little fist (still not wanting to spread her fingers out for very long) next to her cookie (eaten via mama's milk):

It's a blurry little picture, a good metaphor for this time- she's growing so fast and here we are just trying to keep our senses and create a few keepsakes so we can remember her so small and sweet.

Monday, March 16, 2009

a great day for a tea party!

The weather has been weird and typically pre-spring. Off and on rain. And nothing says tea party around here like a good sudden thunderstorm.

It's been a long while since we have had such a party, the kind that call for some stuffed friends and a dig in the costume box, er, I mean "costume closet" as the costumes seemed to have piled up way too far these days. It seems we need a thinning. Anyway, you get the picture... costumes are required at his kind of tea party.

Here's a few scenes from the kitchen as we got to work on our orange scones that were to be the main course at the party:

We used this recipe from Martha (one that came highly recommended) but veganized it by souring some hemp milk (a cup of the milk and 1 T. vinegar) instead of buttermilk and using earth balance instead of butter.
I might add here that scones are a great project for kids because they lend themselves so well to the cutting and shaping only little hands can provide.

They came out just beautifully...

And here we are getting the tea ready, selecting the herbs and flowers to make it just the perfect blend:

And finally, the table is set, the tea is served, and the scones are... devoured!

Just in time for the sun to come out again.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

pizza pockets

We're slowly making our way back into our schedule of cooking and eating. On this day last week we got together with friends and made pizza pockets.

Our recipe for the dough was the same one listed here, Party Pizza Dough.

And we used the same little pie molds we used for these.

For the filling, we used a spinach, onion, garlic, feta cheese combination based on Amy's Spinach Pizza Snacks, one of Zeal's favorite lunch munchies. We added some pizza sauce and gobble, gobble, gobble... They were a smashing success!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

the way the cookies crumble

Zeal and I took advantage of one of Anjali's many naps today to sneak into the kitchen to finish some "cookies" we began late yesterday once she was down for the night (I might add here that nights are going quite well; we're all actually sleeping!!)

So, back to the cookies. Last month, we tried our favorite oatmeal raisin cookie recipe (good ol' Better Crocker) using our favorite pancake mix (Azure Standard Buckwheat) instead of the flour, baking powder, etc. Remember the birth day cake? Yes, we are in a pattern with cutting corners with pancake mix. ;) Well, the cookies turned out great. Your best ever! A triumph, said Daddy.

So, in need of a late night snack we could all enjoy, Zeal and I thought about those cookies. Those cookies. And we were officially on a mission. The boys went to the store for a bit of brown sugar. And then we got to work.

Only problem: in our baby's-here, we're-running-the-cupboards-dry mode, we were also out of egg replacer, or anything that would work as a binder for these cookies.

We thought oil might do the trick, but nope, that didn't work.

Disappointed, but okay we'll live, we went to bed and planned to go to the store in the morning.

Well, morning led to afternoon and we never did get to the store. At one point, Zeal remembered the cookie project and long story short we decided not to go out.

Can I just have a bowl of it? he asked, and then ate a bit with a spoon.

And then, with a brightened, light bulby face...

Let's make it into granola!!! he announced.

Brilliant kid. It's so, so good!

That's just the way I like my cookies to crumble. Yum.

**And yes, that's a Darth Vader mask you see in the picture. Zeal says he's Darth Baker.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Birth Day cake

For those of you who read my other blog, The Wondershop, you already know about the birth of our daughter Anjali.

She is three weeks old today, and I just can't believe how big she has already gotten and how fast the last three weeks have flown.

When we were planning her birth, one of the things Zeal had settled on was that he wanted to make her a birthday cake. We figured it was a wonderful activity for us to do together when I was in labor, before real active labor began. And so we did. Only we did it a few days early when we had what can only be called a "false start". We kept it for a few days and pulled it out when the time was right, when we could actually celebrate the eating of it with a baby. And as it turned out, it was a good thing we did make it a few days early, because her very quick arrival left very little time for cake making.

Here it is...

Our Birth Day Buckwheat Carrot Cake, a hearty, healthy sweet in honor of our little sweetie!

The recipe is as follows:

Buckwheat Carrot Cake
*Since we had used all of our baking products with our holiday cooking, we made this cake with buckwheat pancake mix instead of flour, baking soda, and powder. It worked out wonderfully! I highly recommend trying it sometime.

1 cup sugar
2 cups buckwheat pancake mix*
2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups finely grated carrots
1 cup crushed pineapple
1/2 cup chopped nuts (we used pecans)
1 cup coconut
4 eggs (we used Ener-G egg replacer equivalent)
1 cup vegetable oil

Mix together pancake mix, cinnamon, sugar, oil and eggs. Blend in thoroughly carrots, pineapple, nuts and coconut. Pour into a greased springform pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean. Cool. Frost with a mixture of cream cheese and agave nectar (sweetened to taste).


We have been so fortunate to have been showered with love and support and amazing food these last three weeks as we settled into our expanding family. So while we have been doing very little cooking lately, Zeal is anxious to get back into the kitchen. In the coming months, Zeal and I are sure to be much more regular here than we have been in the last few weeks, and as Anjali eventually begins her own experimenting with food, I'll probably also share some baby food making as well.

Thank you all for the love and welcoming of Anjali!!
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