Hot puppy kibble salad

Hot puppy kibble salad

Our pup has a seriously great life. At least, I think it’s great: morning romps through a nearby field to dig out gopher holes and chasing butterflies . . . afternoon romps on the beach to noshing on sand crabs and play tag with pelican diving in the waves . . . and anytime cuddles with his boy.   I’ve had a huge learning curve, though, in learning how to care for a pup. This is our first dog, and I wasn’t anticipating how much a 4-pound, 9-week old rescue puppy could tug at my heartstrings. He cried the first time he smelled bacon cooking in the kitchen. He cried the first time I made burgers. And he cried the first time he smelled real charcoal barbecue, this tiny thing just learning to walk on a leash, refusing to budge, loving the aroma of beach party dinner. What’s a mom to do? I fed him.   I started to sprinkle a little granola in with his kibble to make it more appetizing, or parmesan cheese, or cooked rice. I’d give him bits of cheese or hot dog as “training rewards” during the day and then get irritated when he wasn’t excited to see his bowl of kibble at 5pm. This was NOT working for either one of us. I didn’t make any – or many – mistakes feeding my kids, but it didn’t take me long to realize that I was following a pathway to terrible doggy eating habits. I realized my problem was that I didn’t think it fair for pup to smell me cooking all this great food for...
Novelty snacks at the art supply store

Novelty snacks at the art supply store

The other day I wrote about the unexpected natural flavorings in food and my objection that the legal definition of those “natural flavors,” as we seen in an ingredient list, could be any one of a variety of things. Whether from from plant or from animal, the inherent vagueness in that definition prevents us as consumers to actually know what we eat when choosing a processed food products. Then today I was in line at my favorite art supply store and actually laughed out loud when I saw the items pictured below stacked on the impulse purchase shelf next to the register. I don’t know what to call them. Novelty snacks? I love them, though; they’re so wonderfully, blatantly . . .  fake. The kind of thing that can only exist to fuel kids and dares. With completely honest nutrition facts and ingredient information . . . nothing wrong with that. These roast beef gumballs get their flavor from artificial roast beef flavor.   Likewise, artificial dill flavoring gives this its pop:   Artificial cumin flavor:   Artificial corndog flavor: And the stomach-curdling foie gras bubble gum. Sugar, corn syrup, gum base, and artificial liver flavoring. Artificial liver flavoring! Who knew there would be such a thing? But it will certainly come in handy when the foie gras ban goes into effect.   The very fact that these exist at art supply store, as opposed to the grocery or corner liquor stores, says perhaps these are to be enjoyed visually as opposed to digestively. Art that is safe to chew. Either way, check out Accoutrements to see...

Mama Magic

My magic wand is eighteen inches long. A pewter mermaid-fairy perches on top of a thin stainless steel stem, hands held high above her head offering up a clear crystal marble. Knee-length hair winds around her body, and her wings – embossed with tiny pink and yellow crystal stars – fan out from her back. A miniature crystal bouquet hangs from her tail, which wraps around the stem. Read more . . .

How do you manage kids and junk food?

I read this great article on Zite this morning: My Kid Likes Junk Food And That’s Ok by registered dietician, writer, and mom Sally Kuzemchak. She makes the point that, no matter how much a parent wants and tries to keep their child away from junk food, it enters their lives in some way. Yes. A child would have to be kept away from television, from movie previews, out of mainstream grocery stores, birthday parties, would have to ignore snacks other parents take to the park, and would probably have to stop engaging with other kids altogether, especially at lunch time, to remain blissfully unaware of junk food. When Kid One started school, I was truly shocked when I saw what some of the kids brought for lunch. Bologna sandwiches, Lunchables, potato chips and cookies in all sorts of packaged-for-lunch-box shapes and sizes . . . nary a piece of fresh fruit in sight. Trash cans filled with barely-eaten sandwiches and empty foil wrappers. This was Santa Cruz, after all; I honestly went into his kindergarten thinking the kids who brought that stuff would be ridiculed. And it wasn’t just lunchtime – in any class, over half brought in treats to celebrate their birthdays. Not homemade goodies, either, like these oatmeal cookies with Craisins my dad Downtown Tom just whipped up and emailed to me: Instead parents usually brought cupcakes from the Safeway bakery down the street: spongy yellow cakes piled with snow-white super-sweet frosting and season-appropriate sprinkles. Then there were the class parties: the random ice cream parties, pancake parties, the celebrations for Halloween, Thanksgiving, winter break, Valentine’s Day,...

Well, what does she expect?

Grrr. I passed two women walking their dogs this morning. They looked to be a 40ish woman woman with her 70ish mother having a loud, gossipy catch-up conversation. As they passed me, this is what I heard: “So how’s Mary doing?” “Well, she’s 40 now.” (laughter) “She says she’s feeling too much like a just chauffeur these days. All she does anymore is drive her kids around.” “Well, what does she expect with three of them?” “Right, I know. And her daughter is going to auditions now, which she thinks just makes it worse.” “That’s what ‘no’ is for. Someone should tell her that.” I couldn’t hear anymore after that. I didn’t need to – their laughs were unsympathetic, their tones of voice self-important. I was horrified, and indignant. So Mary is ostensibly a friend struggling with the idea of aging and with the realities of mothering her children. I assume she stays at home with the kids. At the very least, she could expect some empathy from a woman she chose to confide in – right? And why the self-importance? These were woman with the luxury of walking their dogs at the beach on a weekday morning. Talking about Mary’s plight would have been a perfect moment to look out at the water and reflect on how lucky they are, this mother and daughter, to have this moment together. My first thought, watching them walk away, was that they missed the point. Even though you might have expectations of your life as a parent will be, those are just the broad brush strokes. You can never know what to expect from...
2012: resolve to be prepared

2012: resolve to be prepared

Make this your first – and possibly the most important – New Year’s Resolution: if you do not have an easily accessible fire extinguisher in your kitchen right now, either stop messing around online and head straight to the hardware store to buy one. Here’s why:

Bacon jam – the best recipe yet

Bacon jam – the best recipe yet

December 14, 2011. My 21st anniversary of meeting LL and the 20th anniversary of our engagement. An occasion that called for – at the very least – a dinner treat – but dinner was elusive that night. Kid Two had a 6:00 keyboard lesson, his first with a new teacher, former Doobie Brother Dale Ockerman. While he was making music I drove to Whole Paycheck – I mean Whole Foods – to find something to make for dinner. The pizza boys were too busy shuffling around looking busy to help me out, the salad bar was a bit wilted, and the fish department smelled fishy. Feeling put out, I left, mentally figuring out Plan B. We stopped by Gayle’s Bakery on the way home but the Blue Plate Special had sold out by 7:30 and I didn’t feel like ficelles and twice-baked potatoes. So. I dropped Kid Two off at home and went for the big splurge – take-out from Bittersweet Bistro. Turned out to be a serendipitous choice  . . . one of their dinner specials was Bacon Jam Pizza! I’d already made two batches of my own bacon jam in search of the perfect recipe, and finally something to compare my effort to. And Bittersweet’s pizzas are nicely done; a plate-sized pie with thin crust and tasty toppings applied sparingly. So I loaded up, and by 9pm – on a school night –  we finally all sat down to dinner: sliders for Kid Two, steak sandwich for Kid One, Mediterranean pasta for Mija, beef stroganoff for LL. Sadly, though, my bacon jam pizza manifested itself as a Bacon Chicken...
Objects of desire: Coca Cola aluminum cans

Objects of desire: Coca Cola aluminum cans

LOVED these little aluminum Coca-Cola bottles I found in the mini-bar at the Hotel Vitale during LL’s Birthday Bash weekend: The styling is very cool, like Heidi Klum says it: a space-age descendant of the old timey glass Coke bottle. They’re sweet little bottles, only about 6 inches high and holding 8.5 ounces of soda, making regular 12-oz cans looks squat and overfed. The screw-top lid is, hands-down, the biggest plus; the beverage lasts longer that way. Best of all, though, both the lid and the bottle are made completely of aluminum, so the materials are infinitely recyclable. Whatever my disparaging opinions are about high fructose corn syrup, I’ve got to admit that Coca-Cold did a great job on this one. I confess I was sold, and I don’t even like soda. Kid Two does, though – we let him open one and he sipped on it for a few hours then rinsed and brought the empty home. He’s been keeping it filled with cold water at his desk. At $4.00 for the bottle, I’m glad he loves it...
Pan Am and bacon jam

Pan Am and bacon jam

Think All My Children at 30,000 feet. James Bond in a girdle. My new favorite show, and certainly in the running for Best Show Ever, is Pan Am. Last night I watched all 4 episodes and was completely hooked; LL tells me I actually smiled the whole way through. Sure it lacks nuance, especially when compared to Mad Men, its smarter older brother. The plot points are more like exclamation marks, and surprise character development is neatly tucked in between commercials. But I don’t care. It was cotton candy for my brain, spun with fantasy and glamour. Drama without angst. Christina Ricci with awesome crazy eyes. And best of all – the stewardess is a spy! In my book, you just can’t get more ridiculous and fun than that. I had originally wanted to check out the show if only to cringe and groan. I read Nancy Franklin’s New Yorker piece on Pan Am and The Playboy Club and heard author Ann Hood’s take on her time as a TWA flight attendant on NPR’s The Story. Took note of online grumbles about today’s depiction of women as well as arguments about the show ranging from sexy feminism to rewriting history. But no one mentioned that it’s just plain entertaining. And like a medieval queen, at the end of the day I appreciate a little pure entertainment. I also appreciate a little supper. Earlier in the day LL emailed me this bit he read on SFGate.com: The infamous Butter Burger will return to Maverick next week on the 18th, and going forward, it will be on the menu every Tuesday in limited number. It is made of 70% Meyer...

Conversation before coffee

KID ONE murmuring with his girlfriend MIJA. They are sitting at the dining room table with a light breakfast. KID ONE The main character. You know who it is, we both like him. MIJA I can’t picture him. KID ONE (calling out) Mom, can you look up the main character in Contagion? Cut to MOM, sitting at a desk in front of a laptop MOM Sure. (She types in a few command into her laptop and IMDB appears on the computer screen.) Matt Damon? KID ONE Yes! MIJA Who? KID ONE Matt Damon. The dad. He was definitely the main character. MIJA I can’t picture him. There were a lot of main characters. MOM (looking at IMDB and calling out) Mitch Emhoff KID ONE No, definitely Matt Damon. MOM The character. KID ONE Oh, right. MOM Married to Gwenyth Paltrow KID ONE (with great surprise) REALLY? MOM In the movie KID ONE...

Guilty pleasures

It’s been a foggy few weeks so the tomatoes are slow to ripen. Even the Oregon Spring plants, a supposedly early variety that doesn’t mind damp weather. While waiting and weeding, LL and I have been indulging in a guilty summer brain-candy pleasure – the reality TV show “Ice Loves Coco.” Rapper Ice-T and his wife Coco, renowned for her quite curvy figure, are a little wacky, which is appealing – but they’re also portrayed as being smart, sweet, and very much in love, the complete opposite of most other reality-type shows I’ve seen. Best of all they are nice and well-meaning – the complete opposite of most anyone on the news lately. The first Oregon Spring tomato ripened this weekend. LL gave it one look and promptly named it the Coco Tomato. “It’s a voluptuous tomato with a thin stem,” he explained. Mmm-hmm. If Coco sees this post I’m sure she will take it as the complement it’s intended. My only problem is I’m not sure we can eat it now. Here is Coco: and here is our Coco Tomato: Is he...
The messy truth

The messy truth

The honest truth – I make a tremendous mess when I cook. I never manage to put things away as I go and always leave cupboards and drawers open, as the teriyaki-laced bamboo skewers in my utensil drawer attest. So this, or a similar scene, is what awaits me most mornings. By the end of every day I’m too tired, too cranky, too sore, too buzzed, or just too bummed about having spent the better part of the morning doing the previous night’s dishes to tackle the mess. This photo is not as bad as it gets – but still, it would be nice to get a grip. Once a friend turned me on to Flylady, but I’m too much of a contrarian to get with the program. I felt better about my mess after I read the bit in Frank Bruni’s Born Round where he explains that his mother had a second kitchen installed in her basement, one she didn’t let on about. Family would come over to her hot, scrumptious, multi-course meals of freshly made pasta with homemade sauces and roasted meats and freshly baked desserts and marvel at how she could have produced such a feast and kept the kitchen so clean, too. Even Mama Bruni needed to make a mess. I’m in good company. The messy truth is that if you cook a meal you have to clean it up. Eventually. Although preferably before the fruit flies and mice find it. If I had a superpower, I would DEFINITELY be able to summon a cleaning fairy who would load the dishwasher the way I needed it to be...
Drinking my vegetables

Drinking my vegetables

“Tiny pellets of poison” what a friend calls peas. Personally, I don’t have any problem with peas as long as they’re not mushy and are mixed in a creamy white sauce, tossed with penne, and topped with crispy prosciutto. Everything is better with crispy prosciutto. I told someone recently that I don’t really like vegetables. That’s not really true, though, I love artichokes, asparagus, zucchini, nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers), and any member of the allium family. I’ll take a tart, crunchy salad any day, loaded with lettuce and cucumbers and radishes and celery and shredded multicolor carrots. I like some vegetables. It’s probably more accurate to say that admonishments to “eat your vegetables” and news extolling vegetables’ virtues have only served to turn me off. They’re just not being presented in a delicious way, and I just don’t have much innate desire for dandelion greens or kale. I’m not like that mom who turned to me that cool Tuesday morning while chaperoning a Kid Two field trip as asked, “I just crave cruciferae this time of year, don’t you?” No. I’ve recently developed a fondness for fennel and parsnip, but I don’t dream of roasted beets. No cooing over cauliflower. Squash and yams are challenging to cook with. Just smelling broccoli makes me queasy, as it has ever since I was pregnant with Kid One. And Brussels sprouts? Big shiver. It was over between us after The Worst Dinner I Ever Ate – LL’s 50th birthday dinner – which infamously finished with Brussels sprouts crème brûlée. Truly disgusting. I’ve since noticed that fall’s fields of ripe Brussels sprouts give off the odor of...