11 April 2014

traveling eats

if only traveling with these two were so easy!

With two youngsters, we don't eat out a lot. Pizza Brutta is our go-to spot, but most days we eat at home. Heading out on vacation soon, I'm trying to wrap my mind around the idea of not being able to whip something up when a craving hits, or everyone is hungry RIGHT NOW, so scrambled eggs are whisked up — and then inhaled — on the spot. No pantry full of goodies to make muffins or cookies or chocolate pudding. No blender for smoothies at 3 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon.

I know we’ll be fine and I’ll enjoy the break from the kitchen, but when you have kids — hungry ones at that — food is often the source of instant relief, instant calm, instant fixes. For our travel days getting us from point A to point B, I’ve come up with some snacks and emergency rations that will get us through the rough spots and make us feel less far away from home. Most are packable and not too messy for the car and plane. I wanted things that were wholesome, but also had the air of a “treat” since that is ultimately what we’re going for when we’re stuck in a seat for 4 hours. Since we’re not a family that hits the fast-food lanes (at all), a little planning and preparation will (hopefully) keep everyone smiling … or at least not crying.

My picks for traveling treats:
Oat cakes — great with red grapes and cheddar cheese
Oatmeal-carrot cookies — it’s a cookie, so it has that going for it.
Pumpkin mini-muffins — my go-to recipe, but in mini form.
With these homemade items, I’ll throw in some carrot sticks, mandarins, nuts and dried fruit.

Happy eating … and traveling, -s.







04 April 2014

Happy Birthday, Pickle!

my sweet birthday boy throughout the years
Sorry, it's been SO LONG! And thanks to everyone who emailed me about my last post about living in the moment – boy, that is tough to do sometimes! The whole taking-a-deep-breath thing just doesn't cut it when you're in the thick of it! But, I'm trying. And that counts for something, right?

Speaking of living in the moment, how did it happen that my sweet, little Pickle is turning six years old tomorrow? Goodness. Time literally leaps out of sight as you get older. Rhys is growing up to be a pretty special kid. He's a really great big brother to James. Today, he was reading James a book before school and it was just so sweet to see (and a nice contrast to the constant wrestling or the wearing of boxes of their heads and colliding into one another and thinking it’s SO funny – um, so not my favorite). He calls James, “Buddy,” when they play or he’s trying to explain something to him. It's pretty amazing to watch these boys of ours.

As I have wrote before on here, Rhys LOVES chocolate – with a deep, abiding passion. So, for his birthday we’re pulling out all of the stops – double-chocolate cookies for his birthday treat at school today and a gutsy Texas sheet cake for candle-blowing tomorrow.
Rhys, I hope you have as special of a birthday as you are! Love you, kiddo.
From a new favorite band … here’s a tune to kick off the weekend.

If you’re craving Thai, make this tonight. Spot on.

Just made these for my parents’ visit – holy smokes!

Here’s some recipes I just need to make:

Canal House's Pork Belly with ginger-rhubarb compote

Best(?) Chocolate Chip Cookie – anything with gratuitous sea salt worth a try.
This fried rice looks delicious ... and healthful to boot.

My stash of Rancho Gordo beans is dwindling, but I need to make this with some of them!

Cod for God? A perfect Lenten meal and so pretty!

Happy eating, friends.  xoxo, -s.

08 January 2014

in the moment

It’s that time of year again, the one where diets are started and stopped, resolutions are set and forgotten, hopes are high and reality hasn’t sunk in yet. As you can tell, I am not a big fan of making grand statements of change. It’s hard to change. I know, I’ve tried. I’ve tried to be less spastic. Less emotionally charged. Less of a yeller. Less of an over-reactor. Less me (wink). It’s really tough to make a big change in your habits, your personality, your temperament.

Taking things a day at a time, being conscious in your actions in the moment is what I strive for. No human is perfect – we are all fallible. But what is amazing about human beings is that our imperfections make us who we are (for better or worse) and make the world such an interesting place in which to live.

As I tell Pickle – who is very hard on himself at times – that trying your best is the most important thing – not winning, not being the BEST at something, not the medal at the end of the race. Trying, with passion, with all the effort you can expend in that moment, is what makes life full and better. Trying — in the moment — to be the best mom, the best spouse, the best employee, best friend, etc., is what we should strive for – and remember that in each moment the definition of “best” varies and may mean just getting by without losing your mind that you can’t find that matching mitten or that pot of water is boiling over on the stove because someone got “hurt” again and needs another Band-Aid and a kiss, or getting out the door on time without forgetting something.

So, that’s my goal for this year: to breathe deeply and take in each moment, knowing that some moments may be pretty low on the scale of “best,” but accepting that it was the best I could do … in the moment.

Wishing you peace and love in the New Year, -s.

18 December 2013

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

let it snow, snow, snow!
As my dear Pickle reminds me daily, Christmas is fast approaching! As of today, we’re T-minus seven days and counting till we celebrate Jesus’s big day and Santa Claus’s magical visit.
As the grocery stores get busier and busier with each passing day, I like to menu plan for the days preceding December 25, so I don’t have to battle the crowds and I can enjoy my holiday with my three boys to the fullest.
We want lots of memory-building moments that – of course, with me – involve sharing food together. Pizza dinners while watching holiday movies, hot chocolate with marshmallows after a snow-walk, comforting dinners to end a busy day with lots of homemade cookies in between the big meals.
As someone who wants to eat as healthfully and wholly as possible during these decadent days, I have the fridge and pantry filled with health snacks:
  • Locally grown popcorn and extra virgin coconut oil for the best movie-watching snack
  • Pumpkin puree for whole-wheat muffins and baked pumpkin-spiced steel-cut oats
  • Dried fruit and toasted and caramelized nuts for impromptu trail mix
  • Clementines and Satsuma tangerines for a refreshing snack
  • Smoothie-making ingredients: almond milk, kefir, frozen OJ, frozen mango, blueberries and banana
Here's my favorite Christmas song to get you in the holiday spirit (if you're not there already).

p.s. Here’s what we’re eating from December 20th on to the big day …
Friday, the 20th: winter pizza margarita with apple-celery slaw
Saturday, the 21st: A Family Christmas Party
Sunday, the 22nd: Swedish meatballs with sautéed cabbage and apple-cranberry sauce
Monday the 23rd: Slow-cooker chicken in milk with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli
Tuesday, the 24th: Christmas Eve dinner after church — braised beef ragù with cavatelli, citrus salad with pickled red onions; cookies for dessert
Wednesday, the 25th: Happy Christmas! Breakfast of Panetonne strata, roasted bacon and sausage, fresh-squeeze OJ … and lots of coffee for our early morning gift opening!

p.p.s. Here’s some of the cookies I made this year:
Buckeyes: sans rice krispies – the only way, in my opinion, to make them!
Classic gingerbread (a Bay Bakery classic from Milwaukee)
Cardamom-scented Mexican wedding cakes
Aunt Bill’s Brown Candy
Chewy ginger cookies

p.p.p.s. And, finally, to get you through the holidays, some VERY seasonal cocktails:
Can a cold cocktail be comforting? Here's one I think fits the bill ... milk punch:
Puerto Rican eggnog, anyone? Um, yes! The Coquito
The Midwestern classic: The Tom & Jerry
Anything with grapefruit this time of year, just tastes so, so good: the 522 North Pinckney Cocktail
Wishing you the merriest of Christmases!
Happy holidays, -s.

27 November 2013

My favorite of holidays

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving; my favorite. It's a wholly American holiday (who else would put marshmallows on sweet potatoes?) that is focused on the best of things: food and family.
Mr. Klein and I have spent two Thanksgivings in foreign lands — one in Prague visiting my brother, Mattie, and the other on the beach in Barbados. It feels a little odd to spend a national holiday in a place where — to everyone else — it is just another Thursday.  In Prague, we ate at the lovely, lovely Kampa Park just steps from the Charles Bridge. In Barbados, we ate The Sandpiper resort’s restaurant, where you could order a traditional Thanksgiving meal, but with it being 80 degrees outside and being steps from the ocean, fish was the way to go. And while, in either locale, there was no turkey, no pumpkin pie, we were sharing a meal together and that's what made it feel like Thanksgiving.
This year, our toes will not be dipping into warm Caribbean waters (although that would be nice), nor will we be drinking fine Czech beer; no, we’re keeping it traditional (in the best way) — turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes topped with sautéed apples and a spinach gratin. My mom’s amazing pies will round out the meal. And there will be, of course, that comforting feeling that only family can bring to the table.

Wishing you the happiest of Thanksgivings!

p.s. a song for the day ahead.

p.p.s. just in case things go awry … Splendid Table’s Turkey Confidential 2013

p.p.p.s. my grandmother used to use lard in her pie crusts from time to time  — especially for her amazing meat pies. Here’s an interesting article that sheds a light on this once-abhorred fat.

p.p.p.p.s. what to drink with that bird? Look no further that this guide (it happens to highlight one of my favorite wines for drinking with food in general).

p.p.p.p.p.s. wow, now that's a turkey sandwich.

For cocktail hour: a festive and fizzy drink to cut the richness of the day.

Quote of the week: There are no strangers in here, just friends you haven’t met …” –Roald Dahl
Happy eating, -s.  

01 November 2013

happy, happy weekend

gorgeous ceiling of the Irish Barn at Whistling Straights
Hello, November. Your first day on the books is cold and grey and dreary. Aching for sun. Can you help us out a little in that regard? Thanks much.

With November just starting, you have 28 days left to plan your thanksgiving menu. Here are some recipes for stunning side dishes that have caught my eye:   1/ 2/ 3/ 4/ 5/

And, since we may be turkey-ed out by month’s end, Bon Appetit has put together a brilliant guide of Chicken- and Turkey-Free Meals for November.

p.s. here's a song to start off the weekend; and a cocktail (named after a killer Neil Young song, no less) to start it off right.

p.p.s. I’ve been over the adoration (or rather, obsession) of quinoa for quite a while, but these look like a great way to start the day.

p.p.p.s. now here’s a food to adore: I bought some wheat berries here last weekend. So many things to make with this glorious, protein-packed grain! Cuccia for breakfast, a roasted sweet potato and wheat berry salad for lunch, and five (!) dinners out of one batch of wheat berries from the geniuses at Food52 … and we can’t forget dessert … a lovely wheat berry fool with Grand Marnier-soaked figs.

Quote of the week: Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast.

 happy eating, -s.

31 October 2013


halloween last year
We're pretty jazzed for Halloween at our house. The pumpkins have been carved, spooky decorations have been hung from tree branches, skulls and spiders adorn many surfaces in our house. We all love candy and two out of the four of us like dressing up for Halloween (Chris is a dress-up hater and James is currently on the fence about the whole costume thing). Rhys is going as a SWAT team member this year; James as a dalmation (or maybe a drug-sniffing dog to go with his Bro?) Good guys seem to prevail at our home - last year we had a strong showing of the Light Side of the Force with Luke Skywalker and Yoda making an appearance (see photo above of cutie 1 and 2).

The weather forecast is for rain, so if trick or treating is a total bust, we'll watch It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown while eating pizza margarita on the floor of our den. Candy will definitely be eaten for dessert.

p.s. here's a spooky song to set the mood tonight.

Happy Halloween, -s.