Posts tagged ‘food’

January 27, 2012

When the bananas are screaming

Welcome to the first edition of The Family that EATS Together Fridays, which will focus on recipes you can make and eat with the kids.

It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like banana bread. It’s even harder to find someone who doesn’t like banana bread with chocolate in it. And it’s almost impossible to find a family that doesn’t, at least occasionally, forget to eat all the bananas before they turn that wonderful color of brownish black that screams “time to make the muffins!”

Here’s what my 3yo and I did a few days ago, when the baby was asleep and we heard the bananas screaming.

First, we printed out my absolute favoritest banana bread recipe. It is SO banana-y. (And to my mother-in-law, who accounts for about 2% of my subscribers, I love yours, too.) ūüôā You can find it by searching for Tyler Florence and banana bread.

Then we got out the muffin pan, because no matter how many recipes I have tried, I have NEVER made a loaf of banana bread that was perfect. It is SO hard to get the inside cooked before the outside is too brown. I solve that problem by making muffins, which are cuter anyway.

Then we followed Tyler’s¬†directions, with a few exceptions. One, I used whole wheat pastry flour. Whole wheat pastry flour is my new true love. I use it almost exclusively now, and find that, with the exception of really delicate recipes like crepes (which I think it makes too bland), it¬†is completely interchangeable for white flour. Two, I used coconut oil instead of butter. Why? Well, I thought banana-coconut was a good combo, although the coconut flavor didn’t come through too much. But also because I’ve started cooking a lot more with coconut oil. True, it’s a saturated fat, but it is made up of medium chain fatty acids, which people are realizing might help in certain areas like heart disease, and might also help raise the good kind of cholesterol. There are also claims that it helps with a myriad other things, including weight loss. It’s also a great moisturizer for skin and hair (and one of the only things I use on my own skin and hair–I just keep a jar in the bathroom!). Three, I used half sugar and half honey. If your bananas are really sweet, you can cut down on the sugar, but while mine were definitely overripe, they didn’t smell ubersweet, so I used a half cup of sugar and about a third a cup of honey. (He says to use a cup of sugar, but that’s crazy talk.)

Then we mixed. It’s a great recipe for a 3yo: he loved mashing the bananas with a potato masher. He always loves a recipe that involves turning on the mixer. (This one has you wisk two bananas with sugar and mash two others, so you get a nice combo of taste and texture running through the muffins.) We poured in the flour (this is much less messy at almost-four than it was at almost-three, I’m happy to say). And we added chocolate chips, even though these were not, strictly speaking, in the recipe. But I add chocolate chips to almost anything I’m making.
My husband likes these best plain. My son likes them best with chocolate chips. I like them best with chocolate chips and nuts. So sometimes I separate the batter at the end and make three different ones before baking. I like to use an ice cream scoop to fill the muffin pans–it’s easy and almost mess-free. (Nothing is completely mess-free with a 3yo is doing it, but that’s kind of the point.)

P.S. Since these are muffins, not a loaf, you will need to shorten the baking time considerably. I set the timer for 30 minutes the first time around and that worked great. You might want to try 25 minutes and check them, then put them in for another 5 or 10 depending on how you like them. You can stick a fork in the middle to see if the inside is done.

I hope you enjoy the recipe, and if you try it, let me know what you think. Do you have a favorite recipe you like to make with your kids?

January 21, 2012

I’m talking to you, queen of buttery goodness, spokeswoman for denial

Paula Deen. When she gets on TV with that big smile even bigger hair, her hearty laugh and even heartier eyelashes, her Southern twang and her creamy foods, I swoon a little. I love her humility She doesn’t seem like the a bazillionaire when she’s telling you how to make cheesy grits with about four times as much cheese as grits. I love her family: she’s like a teenager in love when her husband comes on the show. I love her boys: when I think of the two boys I’m now raising myself, I often think, if I could just do as good of a job as Paula Deen did, then I’ll be happy.

But right now, Paula’s making a lot of people angry. Here’s my¬†take on what I’ve read so far:


Anthony Bourdain slammed Paula Deen by tweeting “I’m thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business so I can sell crutches later. Really Bourdain? He’s not the only one to criticize Paula for making America less healthy. Do the people making these arguments really think that Americans would be slimmer if Paula didn’t have a TV show? That Paula Deen’s recipes, and not a history of fattening food and fast-food restaurants are causing the obesity epidemic?


In an unbelievable opinion article on Fox News¬†entitled “Gods, Guns, and Grease” (I couldn’t make that up if I tried)¬†that could have been written in 1865 when the carbetbaggers were arriving in the wartorn South, James Richardson argues that the Paula backlash is Northern prejudice and elitism, and tells Yankees that they don’t understand good Southern family values and cooking on a budget–that’s my favorite part, as if cooking with more butter is somehow cheaper.


In her add for her new drug company, Paula says that she wasn’t about to change her life with her diagnosis, but she is “cutting back on ¬†one of my favorite things: sweet tea” which “for a Southern girl [is a] big deal.”

I’m sorry, Paula. I still love you, but that’s total crap. People look up to you. Don’t feed them this b.s. that they can drink less sweet tea and live the easy life with diabetes. That’s playing right into the American ideal that we can do whatever we want with our lives and a bunch of little pills (or injections in this case) are going to save us. Obviously, that’s what the company you are sponsoring is counting on. But being healthy takes hard work. You pulled yourself up by your bootstraps, Paula. I know you are no stranger to hard work, and that’s why I find this disappointing.


The only article I thought was reasonable, actually, was from food blogger Marion Nestle who had this to say:

According to the Times’ account, Mrs. Dean says that it is elitist to criticize her food:

You know, not everybody can afford to pay $58 for prime rib or $650 for a bottle of wine. My friends and I cook for regular families who worry about feeding their kids and paying the bills. Really?  Does Mrs. Deen think those families can afford to pay the $500 a month drug companies charge for Victoza?


In her big coming out on the Today Show, Paula was asked about her diet and the fattening foods she teaches people how to cook. She had the nerve to say “I’ve always encouraged moderation. … I tell people in moderation, in moderation.” I’ve seen your shows, Paula, and that is a lie. Lying, as I tell my three-year-old, makes me sad.

Here’s what I’d like you to say: Yes, I’ve overindulged. It was fun while it lasted. I hope people can learn from my experience. Make my recipes at the occasional family gathering or party. But we all need to change the way we eat. And then do what you do best, Paula: show us how to do that.

Would it kill you to say that, Paula? Because here’s my concern: It might kill a lot of more people if you don’t.

Be a spokesperson for drugs. Be a spokesperson for doughnuts and butter. But don’t be a spokesperson for denial.

So, reader, what do you think? Do you agree with any of the articles?

December 8, 2011


If the holidays aren’t a time for cooking, I don’t know what they are for! And my 3-year-old seems to have sensed the vibe, because he’s been spending an average of 30 minutes a day in his play kitchen recently.

He loves to cook, and I love cooking in my own kitchen while he putters away in his mini-version right next to me. As I simmer away the tomatoes and onions, he chops his velcro and wood fruit, mixes them in his mini pans and sticks them in the oven. Then he brings it over to me for a taste or insists that I sit down for a more formal meal.

And it’s even more fun when he gets up on his “learning tower” to cook along with me. So when we got this cookbook to review from OwlKids, we were both really excited. My son was very proud to show his dad that he has his very own cookbook, and it’s provided us with fun, great times together, and some really good food.

Title: Eat it Up!
Author: Elisabeth de Mariaffi
Genre: Nonfiction, Cookbook
Age: 3 and up!

What to do with the kids:

These are simple, easy, and yummy recipes. Let your kid pick one out: the pictures will allow even kids who are too young to read to choose for themselves. Then take them to the store (or a farmer’s market if it’s summertime!) and let them help buy the ingredients.

The first recipe my son chose, much to my surprise, was the meat pie. I don’t eat red meat, and I don’t usually cook with it at home, so we used Field Roast Apple Sage sausages (which are meat-free, soy-free, and dairy-free and absolutely great). It was delicious! It was even better smothered with some Apple Butter. Hey, it’s the holidays, right?

October 26, 2011

Throwing in the dish towel

Today I’m over at Nashville Parent¬†writing about getting toddlers to eat.

October 20, 2010

We turned his nose orange. By accident, I swear.

It was total strangers who noticed it first.  They would comment on how cute he was (as if perhaps to soften the blow) and then, as if they just noticed, ask how he got such a bright orange nose!  Family members started noticing it when the photos were emailed around and we had to admit they were right.  But the thing was, he LOVED orange foods!  Mostly pureed butternut squash, sweet potato, and carrot.  Also some mango.

Mmmmm, who wouldn’t?¬† Two years later, he still loves mango, but we’re working back up to the squash and carrot.¬† Somehow, he isn’t convinced when we tell him that he once loved those vegetables so much it turned his nose orange.¬† Either he doesn’t believe us, doesn’t care, or doesn’t want his nose to change colors, all of which seem fairly legitimate to me.

But his love of all kinds of foods started with this book.  The book is dogeared and stained as any good, well-loved and well-used cookbook should be.  I used it to fill our freezer up with ice-cube sized frozen meals of peas, lentils with apples, tofu with bananas and pears (tofu is still a favorite today), and lots of other yummy concoctions.

Title: Easy Gourmet Baby Food
Author: Chef Jordan Wagman and Jill Hillhouse, BPHE, RNCP
: Parenting, Cookbook
Age: Anyone who likes to cook!

Summary and Review:

This is a great cookbook.  If you only buy one cookbook for your baby, this is the one to get.  Your baby will get lots of yummy and healthy food and you will save so much by not buying those really expensive jars of baby food!  The book comes with a thorough introduction about nutrition and eating tips and each recipe comes with a nutritional analysis. The book also gives you ideas about

Don't be afraid to go for the spice rack! It's good for you and the baby and will wake up those taste buds!

when it’s appropriate to introduce different kinds of foods, which was super-helpful.

With few exceptions (although I might argue there should be more), each recipe also comes with a “not just for babies” section that tells you how the whole family might enjoy the recipe, for example, folding a green bean/basil puree into mashed potatoes or using an apricot/squash puree to top a pork chop.¬† The ideas for using the recipes with adults is great if you are making them in small quantities for baby to eat NOW, which is not really something I did the first time around when I was working full time.¬† Instead, I would spend a weekend afternoon making gigantic batches of something and freezing it, so I didn’t really need to use it for my husband and I.¬† Although there was one puree–onions, broccoli, potatoes, peas, and maybe something else–that my husband and I loved to eat hot as soup.¬† Yumminess…although I couldn’t find the recipe in this or my other baby cookbooks, so maybe I improvised it off of something else.

The book continues past baby recipes into “real” recipes a toddler and whole family will love, and I’ve tried these less, as I know find myself making the usual foods I like to make and sharing them with my son.¬† However, it is nice to have new ideas of healthy ways to introduce foods to my son.

As a baby, my son didn’t love all the recipes in the book (wouldn’t touch zucchini/basil puree with a ten-foot pole, for example, but I credit this book and the others I used with helping him to grow up to be a healthy eater!¬† I plan on using it for his little brother and hope that we will have the same luck!¬† Of course, we’ll try to reign in on the amount of squash, but it will be hard–he’ll be at pureed food age in the fall, just like his older brother.

I did have a couple of other baby cookbooks as well: DK’s Organic Baby and Toddler Cookbook by Lizzie Vann and the petit appetit cookbook by Lisa Barnes.¬† The first is gorgeous, with plenty of full-color photos and some good tips.¬† But I’m always turned off by people who use the term “organic” so loosely.¬† After all, any cookbook is organic if you use organic ingredients, and this one is not if you don’t.¬† The petit appetit also has some good feeding ideas, but neither of these books really got my full attention.¬† The recipes either seemed too simplistic (one ingredient steamed which hardly begs for a recipe) or just didn’t appeal to me.¬† But they are both well-written books and everyone has different taste, so they might be worth checking out to see if these recipes are more up your alley.¬† Both include symbols to easy identify vegetarian and other recipes specific to certain eating habits.