Thursday, January 28, 2010

Kiddie Cooking Classes Continued....

I've been going in 20 different directions lately, and haven't really had the time, interest, or presence of mind to think about or reflect on Kiddie Cooking Class Part Deux. This version of the class features about half a dozen 4-5 year old girls who are all BFF's, a super-helpful 10 year old boy, a 2 1/2 year old and her mom, and a 4 year old boy who isn't happy about being severely outnumbered by girls. Add to the mix is Jessie a darling of a volunteer assistant, a freshman in highschool. And now a young man who opted for community service rather than a speeding ticket, and got stuck with us. I wonder if he ever wishes he went for the ticket?
I love the randomness of it all, and the slightly chaotic atmosphere that randomness creates.
First class: After I found my bearings and adjusted to the new configuration we made carrot cake cookies with cream cheese frosting. The art project was cookie sculptures. The moms at pick-up fearfully nibbled on the carot cake cookies their kiddles foisted on them and after tasting the cookies I noted their pleased surprise: "These are good!" they said incredulously. I think when parents think of kid's cooking classes they think of mudpies and mushcakes.
Class 2: Soft pretzels with honey mustard. A soundtrack of gleeful "eeeew" and "ohhh" played throughout the messy work of making the dough and rolling it out and shaping it. The art project was naturally Bendaroos- that had them working studiously for almost a half hour as the pretzels baked in the oven.
Class 3: It started off on shaky footing as I didn't have someone to watch my kiddles, and had to add them to the mix. I spent most of the class with Munch on my hip dripping like a snotty faucet (did I mention that he has a cold?). We made blueberry yogurt muffins, which didn't go down so well (not sweet enough) but I was saved by the hot chocolate I stirred up. The art project was engrossing for about 15minutes- and then there was 10 minutes of shrieking, squealing, and other forms of light mischief from my merry band of cooksters.
Next week I'm planning for superbowl themed recipe and art project. I also start a new Kids 'n Cooking program at my kids school.

Hot Chocolate
Pour 6 c. 2% milk into a saucepan and gently heat until it starts to bubble at the sides. Empty 1 bag of semi sweet chocolate chips into saucepan stir until chocolate has melted into milk, stir in 1 tsp. vanilla extract. Serve

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My Healthy Eating Plan... and other signs of an impending middle age

Is it just me or is the entire nation on a diet? The media has tapped into the results of a collective holiday binge and are now advertising fat-free/low-cal/high-fiber up the big fat wazoo. Mags from the tabs to Martha and the big O are offering slim-down plans. Everyone I know is enduring some specific spartan regime, which renders their holiday indulgences a beloved memory. I myself am not immune to this national craze, nor the disgust that floods me when I catch a look at my jiggly wigglies. I finally got to the point one needs to get to before throwing down the brownie and french fries and declaring "Enough!". When overeating fatty sugary food has become a habit and isn't even about pleasure anymore. When your digestive system feels wrecked. And a sluggish malaise has settled upon you.
I'm not one for diets, any sort of regiment or rules in general makes me feel trapped- not too mention deprived, and ultimately I just flick it away. Instead I have embarked on a "healthy eating plan". It's not a revelation: Fresh fruit and lots of veggies, low-fat natural yogurt and milk, whole grains, and light proteins like fish, soy, and an occasional piece of chicken, a small amount of fat in the form of olive oil and avocados, a fistful of cashews here and there. It's been going pretty well so far. I've tried kale and love it! Greek yogurt is a treat, and I live for my daily cup of coffee. I'm flooding my body with 6-8 glasses of water a day. I'm also trying to excercise. What I miss most is cheese, butter, and white bread.
I've churned out a few good dishes that pack flavor and a fair amount of heft. I found a great recipe in Everyday Food that I healthfully elaborated upon. I think I'd eat this brown rice salad even during my periods of overindulgence, I'd pile it alongside the panini and the iceberg bleu cheese wedge, before digging into a slice of chocolate cake, after nibbling on the cheese platter.

Brown Rice Salad a la Greque
Toss about 3 c. cooked brown rice, 1 sliced cucumber, a few handfuls of baby spinach, 1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved, 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill, juice of half a lemon, 2-3 tbsp. red onion, small dice, a healthy sprinkling of fat-free feta alltogether in a large bowl. Add a couple of tbsp. of your favorite low-fat dressing (I used Italian, but Balsamic Vinaigrette is good too) and some salt and pepper. Mix well.

Friday, January 8, 2010

And Then There's Chocolate

.....And then there's chocolate. Nothing is so bad that a well placed chocolate can't solve. I'll take mine truffullar. This truffle tart is just what the Doctor ordered. The Witch Doctor. I'll be working on different versions all week as I have book group, and a friend's birthday brunch. This version has an oreo crust and is a mix of dark and milk chocolate. I think the next iteration will have a tea biscuit crust, and may have a touch of Grand Marnier mixed in for a citrusy pop- or maybe kahlua? Decisions, decisions...

Crush 1 c. oreo cookies and mix in pie plate with 1/4 c. melted butter. Press down on bottom and sides of plate to form crust. Set aside. In a double boiler over simmering water, heat 2. cups of chocolate chips (I used 1 1/2 c dark 1/2 c. milk) stirring until smooth and melted. Slowly add 1 c. heavy cream, stirring well until all combined. Mix in 1 tsp. vanilla and 2 egg yolks and stir until well blended. Cook over heat until thickened annd hot- about 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Pour into crust. Refrigerate until firm- serve with whipped cream, ice cream, or stress.
Picture coming soon.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Miss Ann Thrope

If you are in a post-holiday lull/winter-state-of-mind funk, and want some company I'm Miss Ann Thrope at your service. If you're feeling bright, shiny,and are still bursting with new year cheer- it's best if you keep moving-nothing good can come of this posting. Spoiler alert: I will not be uplifted at the end of this posting by a realization of some homespun wisdom, nor will I be making a deliciously nourishing meal to offset the bland unhealthiness of this draggy mood that I'm in. Dinner for the past couple of nights has been uninspiring at best (grilled cheese sandwiches), to downright flavorless at worst (broccoli tofu stir fry). I know life is all about triumphs and dissappointments, and that part of being a well adjusted adult is taking both ends of the fortune spectrum in your stride, and with a healthy sprinkling of salt, but why oh why does disappointment linger longer, smell funkier, and vibrate louder than almost anything else? Why does a friend's slight come back with greater frequency, than all their displays of amity? I have no answers for these questions, nor the more mundane queries that fill my days like; Where are all the spoons? What is that smell in my car? And how can so much horseshit top the bestseller list?