Posts filed under ‘baking’

Zannie Goes To The City – NaJuPicMo

I heard that Frida Kahlo was in town at SF MOMA and in an instant Suzannah and I decided that we HAD TO GO.  So, we made a day of it.  Frida Kahlo has a small connection to our heritage as my great aunt Suzanne Scheuer for whom Suzannah is named after, was friend and contemporary of Diego Rivera. I’m quite eager to share my love of San Francisco with my children, and also to share what I know of aunt Suzanne and also expose the girls to art of all kinds. After the exhibit, we sat down to talk about all the paintings over a lemonade and a cookie which Suzannah shared with Frida herself.

Then, we met up with my dear friend and teacher from my culinary school days. While eating soup, yes SOUP, she lost the other front tooth.

It was a great day.


July 19, 2008 at 5:14 pm 2 comments

Farmer’s Market & Flea Market Treasures – NaJuPicMo







I wish you all could smell these – they’re incredibly fragrant and ready for eating. 







This will be put to work in a tangy pickle we make with plums, red onion and infused with star anise.  We serve it with grilled pork chops. 









A local farmer was selling blossoms from his hydrangea bush.  $5 for 5 stems!  I couldn’t pass these up; they always reminds me of old-lady bathing caps.  After the farmer’s market, we headed over to the flea market and I scored a Kelvin Chen tea pot for $1.

July 12, 2008 at 3:22 pm 4 comments

Golly! Those Cupcakes have Lollies – NaJuPicMo









 These cupcakes were totally copied inspired from a Martha Stewart magazine.  They couldn’t be simpler.  The key to their appeal was the dipping of cupcakes into a bowl of sprinkles and covering the frosting completely.  Suzannah and I took sour patch strips and cut them into leaf shapes and, Bob’s your Uncle, stick a lollipop in and you’ve got some very fun cupcakes.

July 9, 2008 at 10:43 am 2 comments

Frosting & Boots with Steamed Milk – NaJuPicMo







Moments after a particularly delicious cupcake









In Target, while coveting rainboots, Izzy is seen sipping steamed milk

July 3, 2008 at 12:12 pm 5 comments

Middle Age, Kyrgyzstan, Food & The Tooth-Wiggling Situation

Mea Culpa.  I don’t even know what happened.  The last month has just done me in.  But, I’m all better now but it’s been a few weeks of house guests, end of school year picnics, family graduations, a new play group and then the big finale was going down to San Diego to meet with the Tokmok orphanage director, our in-country co-ordinator Lyudmilla, the Tokmok judge and Kyrgyz adoption inspector who had come to see how the children who have been adopted are doing.  Many families came from near and far which shows the strength and commitment in our Kyrgyz community of children from Tokmok.  I met Hillary, Mala and Jackie!  The afternoon went by so quickly, but I felt very very glad to see Lyudmilla again.  Tatyanna, who is the director of Tokmok orphanage could not believe how big Isabel is.  When we left Tokmok a year ago, Isabel was not even 13 lbs at 8 months of age, anemic, not able to turn over, and hypotonia.  She was a bit tearful in seeing her.  Isabel had been very loved in Tokmok and I think they worried a fair bit about how she was going to fare in a new family and country.  There was a lot of picture taking (future post, I promise…really, I’m incredibly lame…I know.)  We stayed with Lori, our travel partner who adopted from Tokmok at the same time we did and we took both trips to Kyrgyzstan together.  We went to Disneyland in the middle of a heat wave.  It was insane. In four hours we ate lunch and went on two rides.  We left with our hearts very full.

Ok, so you all threw out a few great topics for me to discuss.  And in no particular order…away we go.

Middle age.  Oh my…I suppose it is finally here.  It’s funny to age isn’t it because for the most part, I feel a lot like my much younger self a lot of the time.  I mean, I respond and react differently to most situations but I’m still an insecure teenager inside.  I’m looking forward to my 50’s, when I will embrace my inner Ruth Gordon. 

Suzanne…you want food?  I’ll give you food.  It’s totally my calling in life to feed people.  I’m happiest when I’m watching someone eat something I cooked, particularly something I’ve baked.  What have I been cooking….well, not a whole lot to be honest.  But, now that the rest of the summer stretches out before me with little plans other than going to the beach, I’ll be doing my usual farmer’s market schedule of Wednesdays and Saturdays.  Summer menus here revolve heavily around tomatoes, basil, stone fruit and a lot of fish.  Sunday is the big cooking day around here.  For breakfast there are waffles or scones or Art makes Dutch babies, and then there’s light noshing while we do household things.  Then, about 4 o’clock Art fires up the grill and we all start cooking.  Zannie is taking pride in her budding knife skills.  This week she trimmed a massive bunch of broccoli all by herself.  I mean, I supervise and teach her while she’s doing it of course, but she’s doing the whole thing.  She gets very proud of herself, but tries not to show it. 

All the food writing and recipe development I’ve done this year still hasn’t been published.  I’m about to do some more and I’m working on getting a column in a new magazine.  We’ll see…I think digital media is going to replace many magazines, but I’m still hopeful I can get this gig. 

Ok, it’s late but I’m going to leave you with a parenting story that I’m sure will become a family classic for us.  Zannie’s front tooth has been loose for weeks.  She’s been wiggling and loosening it and eating apples and chewing gum and whatever else she can think of to get it out.  Then, tonight I noticed that it had turned grey.  The Time Had Come.  So, taking a firm stance that the tooth had to come out tonight, we had a circular conversation that went something like this:

Me: It has to come out tonight…


Me: (trying to stay calm) Honey, you can do it yourself like you did last time, or I can do it but it has to come out now.  It’s only hanging by one thread.  It’s swinging in there like a door.

Z: NO! NO! I want to do it when it’s dark. I want to do it tomorrow.  I want to do it after we do our crafts.  I want to just wiggle it for now.  Where is the orajel?  We can’t do it without the Orajel!!  NO! NO! I HATE THE TASTE OF THE ORAJEL!!!!  Mama it is NOT coming out, it’s not ready!!! 

Me: It has to come out tonight.  Let me do it and then it won’t hurt…

Z: NO! NO! You kept talking about it!  I was THIS CLOSE to doing it and now I can’t!!!!!!! 

Me: Daddy will be there with ice cream right after so that the orajel taste will go away.  Mint chip… love mint chip…

Z: I don’t like mint chip

Me: Yes you do…you love it.

Z:  No I DO NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Me: What about all the times we’ve had it?

Z: Well, I didn’t like it but I ate it anyway…

Me: (doing all I can not to laugh) well then we’ll think of another thing to make the taste go away…


Finally, weary with wiggling the tooth and putting up a fight, she said….ok…go ahead mama…and I reached  in and hardly touched it and it fell in the palm of my hand.  I think she had wiggled the life out of it and actually pushed it into her gums and by the time I got there, it gladly came to me.  Zannie started laughing with a slightly disturbing kind of mania with the occasional moment of crying – a schizophrenic kind of coming down from a trauma mixed with the relief that it was All Over.  The tooth awaits its capture by the tooth fairy and Zannie got in bed with a slight lisp and a promise that she will never do that again.  Then, she announced that her other front tooth was loose now. 

I’m not even kidding.  It took three hours.  She was absolutely exhuasted afterward.  But, she was such a sweetie, she even thanked me afterwards.  So…that’s all for now, but I will hopefully be posting pictures in the next few days.  Ciao.


June 26, 2008 at 11:43 pm 1 comment

An Assignment

, AKA mama to Roo has an interesting challenge to counteract all the blogging nastiness that’s happened around here lately. Write about something nice. And it can’t be about adoption. No problem.


Let’s talk food – a subject near and dear to my heart. I cooked my behind off the last two weeks or so. We hosted two dinner parties and a few drop-in situations. Zannie and her friends had a cookie decorating party and I taught her how to make Russian Tea Cakes. When deciding what to make or not to make, I came up with decidedly do-ahead menus. Chicken Marbella for one dinner (A GREAT dinner party dish) and Beef Short Ribs with an Asian broth over mashers for the other. Instead of making a complicated dessert, I served cookies and See’s candies. I made my life easier and had only a couple of freak-outs instead of many. One good thing about having company over a lot is that your house stays clean. Toys were put away often and dishes were washed immediately. I loved it.

Another great thing about this Christmas was getting books that I am excited to read. I’ve recently become really interested in Frida Kahlo, the Mexican artist after I watched the movie about her life which starred Selma Hayek. So, I got her biography and I’m devouring it. I received ‘Super Natural Cooking’ from my family to give me new and creative ideas for our new way of eating. It’s a good read aside from the beautiful pictures and recipes.

The last good thing about the holidays is that there is an end. Today I am putting the decorations away. I am always very happy to put them out and getting into the Christmas mood and I am usually equally happy and ready to put them away. That’s how I’m feeling today. Zannie is really getting into the swing of things and has even been cleaning things by her own initiative. (I swear I don’t know how this has happened.)

On Sunday, we’ll trek over the Sierra Mountains to grandma’s house to do a bit of frolicking in the snow and to get away for a couple of days. Come early January, Zannie will be back in school and then I’ll have to think of a new Big Project. Maybe putting all our pictures in albums is a good idea. I’m totally behind on that. Ideas are accepted…anyone??

December 28, 2007 at 10:31 am 1 comment

Apple pie Contest

I’ve had some lovely emails congratulating me winning our local harvest festival pie contest and quickly followed by requests for the recipe.  I’m glad to share it with you all.  I think this is a great pie for Thanksgiving.  Enjoy, and tell me how yours came out as well.   You can read the little article here.  There is a picture and mine is on the right, toward the bottom.

Pippin Apple Pie with Walnut Crumb Topping


Makes a 9″ double crust

2 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour

1 Tbsp. Sugar

1/2 tsp. Salt

1 Stick Unsalted Butter, cold and cut into small pieces

4 Tbsp. Vegetable Shortening, cold and cut into small pieces

3 T Cold Water

1/2 tsp. Vanilla

In a medium sized bowl, toss the flour, sugar and salt together.  Add the butter and shortening and cut in with a pastry blender or two knives until crumbly.  Add vanilla and water together and drizzle over the flour/butter mixture.  Add just enough until it forms a dough and holds together.  Divide into two disks and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.  Roll out and prepare pie plate.

Walnut Crumb Topping

1 Stick Unsalted Butter

1/2 C. Golden Brown Sugar

1/2 tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Cinnamon

1 Tbsp. Vanilla

3/4 C. All Purpose Flour

1 C. Quick Cook Oats

1 C. Toasted Walnut Pieces

Cream the butter, sugar, salt, & cinnamon with a mixer until soft.  Mix in the flour, oats and nuts.  Refrigerate until pie is ready to go into the oven.

Pippin Pie Filling

10 Pippin Apples, peeled, cored and sliced

1 Stick of Unsalted Butter 

1/3 C. Sugar

1/3 C. Golden Brown Sugar

1 Tbsp. Cinnamon

1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice

Zest of One Lemon

1 Vanilla Bean, split and scraped

1/2 tsp. Salt

2 Tbsp. Flour

1/8 tsp. Nutmeg

1/2 tsp. Cider Vinegar

In a large pot, start to melt the butter with both sugars, vanilla bean, salt & cinnamon.  Add the apple slices and coat by stirring gently.  Add the lemon juice and zest and vinegar.  Cook on medium-high heat stirring frequently.  Apples will begin to become translucent, approximately 10 minutes.  Test to see that apples are cooked, but still firm.  At this point, sprinkle the flour over the top of the apples evenly and stir in.  Cook until the juices are thickened and shiny, about 1-2 minutes.  Take off the heat and pour filling into a 9″ prepared pie dish.  Cover with crumb topping leaving little holes open for venting and so the juices can bubble.  You may not need all the crumb topping.  Place pie on a piece of foil in the middle of your oven and bake at 350 for approximately 35 minutes, filling will bubble and topping will be browned.  Cool and enjoy with ice cream or cinnamon whipped cream.

November 2, 2007 at 11:26 pm 2 comments

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