Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cooking with the Margo and sometimes her friends too....

I am only now starting the adventure of cooking with little Margo on a more regular basis.  I know, I know, I have cooked cakes with her and her friends when she was but a three year old, we even made very pretty cookies, but now, I am looking to teaching her about cooking.  Really, really learning about cooking and measuring and learning the little tricks I know.  No, I most likely do not know a lot of tricks with cooking; I do improvise quite a bit, because I may not have everything I need.  Even when I go to the store with a list of ingredients in hand, I somehow forget to purchase something.  I have decided to chalk it up to those pre-menopausal losses of memory and organization.  (Ok, I added the organization part on my own; there is no loss of organization in this stage of life, for those of you who are organized!  But the memory part is true!) 

Our adventures in 'real' cooking started about a month ago, when I invited little Margo to help me prepare dinner.  She was quite excited about the prospect of making dinner, including the ceremonial washing of hands and wearing her own apron.  I was provided the chefs hat for that meal.  She explained to me, "Mom, you are the chef and I am the girl assistant, I learned this from Ratatouille."  I suppose being compared to Ratatouille was good, she was very clear to point out I was not the mean chef at all.  With that settled, Margo's job was to peel the potatoes and the carrots and the rutabaga, for the mashed side dish.  At first I helped her hold the potato and the peeler as she used them; I was rather concerned her lack of coordination would mean missing finger tips later tonight.  She did seem to master the peeling task as best a 6 year old can do.  Her favorite part was placing all the items together in the pot to be boiled into our family specialty.  The best part about this is that she ate this side dish with gusto! 

Today, we decided to tackle Krispie Fish "Fingers" with Lemon Mayo Dip,  and Handheld Apple Pies. Both Recipes can be found in Annabel karmel's, "Top 100 Finger Foods, 100 recipes for a healthy, happy child."  I had been perusing this book for the past two weeks, thinking it would be perfect to help Margo and I get into some new cooking styles.  I do not think I can make the dish look as beautiful as Annabel's presentations; however I knew I could cook.  It didn't matter I had never fried a breaded fish stick in my life, nor made little apple pie type of finger foods.  Heck today was my adventure day for cooking.  So yes, I made a list, went to the store, got home, cleaned the kitchen and put all the food away, then picked up Margo from school.  She watched Curious George on TV, while I gave the kitchen one last quick makeover.  It really was clean and organized when we started. 

Here is the photo of my kitchen after we completed making the Krispy Fish Fingers....I swear to you it was clean when we started, and no we had not been cooking for hours and hours...well I did mention my organization issues earlier on in this blog!

In the end I burned the first test fish fingers while trying to fry them...did I tell you I rarely fry!  So for dinner, I baked them on a skillet in the BBQ.  It worked great, and I only used a little oil so we still had the Krispy affect.  Oh I must confess, I used Cod, (memory), Corn Flakes rather than Rice Krispy's, (again memory), I added some Flax seed (to help my memory) to the mix as well as the sesame seeds.  We all enjoyed them.  Yes I cleaned my kitchen one more time, to create those hand held apple pies.

Margo helped me here too, she not only buttered the filo dough, but created monster tracks on the dough as well.  No I did not yell when the track caused a hole in the dough...ok, I did get a little excited.  This was the first time I ever used filo dough correctly, with butter....lots of butter if the truth be told.  But in the end I baked these little cuties in the BBQ too.  It worked out great.

Humor must always accompany my cooking!  Why?  Come on look at that photo of my kitchen, I must have a sense of humor, or I would never cook again!  We completed the serving of the desert with our friend, "The rubber chicken", that was the final monster who wanted a taste of the tasty apple offering.  In the end, we both had a fun time cooking together, making real memories and learning a few lessons about cooking.

I am so glad my husband does the dishes!  At least he enjoyed his dinner, actually we all did!

I enjoyed this cookbook by Annabel Karmel, and was glad I received it free while being a part of Silicon Valley Mom's book club.

Bon Appetite;  Mommy Max, the French Mommy born in California.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Camping in the winter....

This past weekend, we took the plunge, and went camping at New Brighten Beach State Park, just outside of Santa Cruz, California.  For two weeks prior to the trip I had been watching the weather forcast.  Rain on Friday, and Saturday with a possibility of sunshine on Sunday.  I skipped the forcast watching on Friday, figuring if it rained or shined we were committed to go camping.

Mark took the day off, just to help both of us get ready.  Margo attended school and was relieved to know we would pack for her while she was at school.  We were set to meet up with friends somewhere around 4:00 PM at the campsight.  Of course we were just pulling out of San Jose at 3:45 PM, no we did not arrive at 4:00, but we did arrive only 3 minutes behind our friends.  Good thing they left late too!  Birds of a feather flock together I say.

Folks I mentioned our little adventure to, gave us more then double takes, more like the expression "what are you thinking, it is going to rain..."  Well we just decided it was time to learn to do things with or without the rain.  The weather was not going to dictate our life of adventure.  So off to New Brighten State Beach, we went.  Community and camping always seem to go together.  Our friends set up their camp in a matter of minutes.  They had the RV.  We on the other hand were totally retro, meaning, tents, camp stove, rain gear, etc... etc... etc...  Fortunately for us Brian and Kim were very helpful in the setting up of our camp.

Saturday morning found us walking the beach. It was beautiful. Margo was intent on building a sand man, so we provided the carrot for the nose and other items from the beach for the hat, (a rock), hair, (seaweed), and mouth, (twigs). She actually did a great job with the materials at hand. Next thing I know, she is lying on her back going through the exercise of making 'sand angels'. Now you might be thinking it sounds like snow adventures...but we really were at the beach. This just goes to show the imagination a child can have in tune with the winter season.

Were we prepared?  That was a good question, you tell me.  Lets see on Saturday you could have found me at Ross looking for a blanket to help us keep warm at night.  The sleeping bag was not warm enough...I swear it was freezing temperatures!  But no rain!!!!  I also needed my internet fix...I know, I know, nature needs to be enough, however I still had a few responsibilities to look after.  Thank goodness for Starbucks.  Yes I loved the coffee too!  Mark stayed back with Margo, the two spent the afternoon, folding and flying paper airplanes. 

Oh yes, I forgot to mention our supplies for Saturday dinner were eaten by the little bandits with the sharp claws.  We forgot about the hunger of our furry friends.  These little guys totally enjoyed our chocolate, marshmellows, tortilla soup, cheese and sour cream.  I am not sure what order they ate them in, although there was a trail of leftovers.  Good thing Kim had packed extra food...enough to last the weekend.

Both evenings were enjoyed eating good food around the camp fire.  Smores were the highlight for all of our sweet tooths.  The saturday night variety seemed so much tastier than the night before.  I wonder why, perhaps the chocolate was a little better, or we were all a bit more relaxed.  We loved the fires every night, morning and afternoon.  I did mention it was cold and sunny.  Right now, we are working through our smokey laundry.

All in all camping in the winter proved to be a fun adventure.  I think you just have to go with the right people.  Thank you Brian, Kim and Christopher!  We had a great time.