I took my four year old to a chicken slaughter

On a Friday afternoon, we were asked if we would be interested in attending an informal chicken slaughter and processing class at a private farm close to Denver. The answer was a categorical yes – no hesitation, no second thoughts. I called the organizer and informed him that it would be the two of us, my husband and I, and that we will be bringing our 4 year old daughter, Lulu. Not once did it cross my mind not to bring her. He hesitated. I assured him that she has been on farms around animals before and that she is very well-behaved. I was looking forward to this experience. In the morning, I told Lulu that we would be going to a farm. I wanted to make sure she understood what we were about to do. I talked to her about all the chicken things she eats- the chicken soup, the roasted chicken, the fried chicken, the chicken salad, the chicken schnitzel, and the chicken wings. I asked her where it comes from — the chicken farm, she answered. I wasn’t convinced she got it so I asked what does the chicken look like — a chicken, she said. This … Continue reading

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Dinner on the Grill

I’m one of the lucky ones: I cook and my husband does the dishes. I have to admit that I’m spoiled — not having to wash pots and pans makes cooking so much more enjoyable. My husband feels fortunate to be the recipient of my cooking, so he usually doesn’t complain. It’s just that night after night of heavy dishes can be tiring (I use many pots and pans, prep bowls, etc. in my cooking). With summer in full swing, I’ve made many whole meals on the grill. Of course, we’ll still use real flatware and plates, but those are easy enought to put in the dishwasher with a quick rinse.

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Apricot jam, the way I make it

A staple of my summer and my personal favorite jam to eat and make, my apricot jam does not have a technical recipe. This tendency to go without recipes limits the possibility of posting many of my kitchen creations. The way I make jam explains why I cook more than I bake and how I can to pull off a bright dinner each or any night for my family on a whim.  I just know how to make it, I can feel it, I can see it, and no matter what happens, I can fix it. That may not work in baking but it gives me a chance to play and make food freely every single night, nose out of the cookbook. I grew up seeing apricot jam being made in a ritualistic but very matter-of-fact way each year. I remember vividly one year when my grandmother left it on the stove too long. So long that the bottom of her giant dark orange Le Creuset pot had a thick deep layer of black burnt apricot stuck to it that took some serious determination to remove. Of course, my grandma removed it.

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Which Kids Eat Everything?

Not long ago, a good friend sent the link to an article talking about the new and buzzy book French Kids Eat Everything. It made me uncomfortable and that discomfort and similar previous nagging feelings gave birth to the Family Meal, a new section of the blog. I did not read the book, but the title irritated me. Say this to yourself – French kids eat everything – and you will hopefully get uncomfortable too. Seriously, think about it. There is nothing magic about French kids. They are born the same way all kids are born: 10 fingers, 10 toes, two eyes, a nose, a mouth, and a blank slate for growing, learning, and developing everything including taste in food. French kids and American kids and Romanian kids and Venezuelan kids – probably Martian kids too if there were any- all of them eat everything. They are wired to eat everything, sooner or later. Must you look up to the special French kids who eat everything? Take their example? Follow their lead? Wonder in shock and awe, whispering, How do they do it? You got it: no. If you have a kid, your kid eats everything. So stop. Stop thinking … Continue reading

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The Soup Club, Chicken Minestrone

Mothers everywhere unite! This one is for you — but make no mistake, you can keep looking anyway cause the soup is pretty awesome and the idea behind the story is completely doable in a kid-free environment- it isn’t just kids who like soup for lunch.  I pack my daughter lunch nearly every day. I cook it, of course, and it is challenging, no doubt. There is one thing I know she will eat almost all the time: soup. It cannot be the same soup though because she gets bored. My bandwidth for soup-making, however, is limited.  This is how Wa-Sup was born, a group of friends, moms, and cooks. I sent a message to five friends with children of my daughter’s age, all of whom really know their way around the kitchen. My friends went along with the idea of meeting once a month and swapping homemade soups packed neatly in 12 ounce bpa-free containers that work in the freezer, the microwave, and the dishwasher. Drinks, apps, and conversation are a great bonus. Four months later, I love this group more than any club, group, or gathering that I have ever been a part of. That hour at my … Continue reading

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Cook the Cover: Pizza

I devour food magazines, but I do not usually cook from them. And if I do, it never involves dough because, well, my baking history is complicated but flour and yeast and baking soda and gelatin are simply not my friends. They hate me so much I have to hate them back. But I digress. Bon Appetit always has great recipes, most of which I use for inspiration. I see an ingredient I should be using more or a way of cooking or some other cue that sparks my cooking instincts. With the instincts sparked, I walk away from the food magazine and either make something up or open up a cookbook. A couple of months back, while gearing up to redesign the site and trying to get my photographer friend Jennifer Olson reengaged, I decided to Cook the Cover of Bon Appetit, which was at that time a pizza by Jim Lahey. Said and done- not in time to submit for any contest but a great excuse to cook, learn to make pizza, and hang out in the kitchen.  Jim Lahey’s recipe can be found in its original form here. Here’s how my version went.  Pizza, the Cook the Cover … Continue reading

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