Trust your toddler, but don’t be foolish

So, here’s a good one…should be winning ‘mother-of-the-year’ after yesterday…

My 4 year old Beach Rose is allergic to nuts.  But, it’s not that simple…

Not all nuts, and even the ones she does have allergies to, not all are scary reactions.  So, she’s not allergic to almonds or pistachios, but if she has a little bite of peanut or pecan, she’ll complain about her tongue being itchy.  However, if she eats a walnut she breaks out into hives, has trouble breathing & her stomach hurts her to the point where she screams out.

There are many schools of thought as to how to approach a child who may or may not have nut allergies. One allergist told me to stay away from ALL nuts.  One said to keep introducing a little bit every day to build up tolerance.

I’ve heard that staying away from all nuts makes the allergy worse.  Without any exposure to nuts at all, any contact, not just ingesting it, touching a nut, touching a doorknob which has been touched by a kid who had a peanut butter sandwich, can set off anaphylaxis.

And the other camp says that the more exposure to nuts you give to someone who’s prone to nut allergies, the more likely the allergy will worsen.

So, I’ve decided to give my Beach Rose a little tiny bite of peanut every day, and a tiny bite of pecan as often as I remember, or have on hand.

Yesterday I played with fire…unintentionally, yet due to my carelessness…

I decided to make apple caramel bars to bring to my Book Club that night.  It was a recipe one of the ladies had passed on to me, so I thought I’d thank her by filling her belly!

The recipe called for 1 cup of nut flour;  which you make by finely chopping 1 cup of any nut you have on hand (pecans, walnuts or almonds) in a food processor.  I used the pecans I had on hand, of course.

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“EXHIBIT A”

I made the bars while my little one was napping and I went to take a shower.

When she awoke from her nap and went downstairs, I followed her, set her up at the kitchen table with her snack and told her, firmly, that she was not allowed to touch the batter left in the kitchen mixer because it had nuts.

‘What kind of nuts?’ she wanted to know.

‘Pecans, and you can’t have batter with pecans.’

‘Ok Mama, I won’t.  I won’t.’

And because I trusted my 4 year old, with her beautiful, innocent, big eyes like a doe’s, I went upstairs to blow-dry my hair for 10 minutes.

My mistake…you can guess what happens next…

…as good as her intentions were to heed my warning, the temptation to get her chubby fingers on some sweet batter was greater than her fear of retribution, from Mama or the pecans.

Long story short, we ended up in the ER for half the night because she had a severe allergic reaction; hives, difficulty breathing & stomach pains.  Everything ended ok, but lesson learned!

as good as you think your child is and as much as you think you can trust them, you can…to a point.  Don’t be reckless and leave a giant bowl of delicious, dangerous batter sitting on the counter and expect your Baby to  turn down the opportunity to get some in her tummy while her Mama’s not lookin’.

BBQ Smoked Sandwich

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Easy peasy lemon squeezy…and oh-so-very-scrumptious!

Serve with a salad, and some chips, or a bowl of soup and dinner is read.

 

Let’s get started…

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Make certain that you find awesome sub rolls…like, run out to the nearest deli and make them sell some to you; that kind of awesome!

Then put them on a baking sheet and toast them for about 3-5 minutes at 350 degrees, until starting to show some beautiful golden brown color.

 

 

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Next you’ll need these 2 items to send this over the edge…your favorite mayo and your favorite BBQ sauce.

 

 

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Ok, now don’t be stingy with the mayo…there’s nothing worse than a dry sandwich…

 

 

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A couple of glugs of BBQ sauce…

 

 

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Smear all around…admire the mouth-watering marbled mixture…

 

 

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Line the bread with at least 2 slices of provolone…

 

 

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Add BBQ chicken or turkey breast, thinly sliced, then roast beef…

 

 

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Oh, we’re not done…

 

 

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Last layer of meaty goodness – smoked ham!

 

 

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Have you tried these before?!  They make this sandwich sing!

 

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Add enough banana peppers to cover the top of the meat and then add thinly sliced red onions…

 

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Put back in oven for 5-10 minutes, just so that the cheese is nice and melty and the bread is warm.  Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper…

 

 

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And here it is…sooooo tasty!

Specialty of the House

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Do you have a house dressing?

I mean, a salad dressing unique to your house?  A “house” dressing?

Well, it’s time…

I’m going to let you in on the secret vinaigrette that I’ve adopted from all of my relatives in France.

It is the mother vinaigrette.  Meaning that from here, you can add, subtract, and make any variation of my dressing and call it yours!

 

This recipe will dress a salad that serves 4.  You can double, triple, quadruple this to meet your family’s, your friends’ and your hostessing needs!

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Start with a vessel of your preference:  I am using a tiny canning jar, 4 oz.  Feel free to use a bowl, a salad dressing bottle, a mug, a sippy cup, whatever you have on hand…

 

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Now add 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and about 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.

 

 

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Next add a ‘smidge’ of mustard…not really a technical cooking measurement, but necessary to describe this tiny amount!  Emphasis on tiny.  There should just be a subtle hint of mustard in your dressing, or else if you add too much, it’ll take over and be very strong…

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speaking of strong…this is the only Dijon mustard I use.  It’s the only one you’ll see on the shelf of a French pantry.  And it packs some punch!

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Again with a small quantity…this is perhaps a 1/4 of a garlic clove.  And I think I actually only grated about 1/2 of that into my dressing.

I grate the garlic into my dressing, because then it’s more easily incorporated and your guests or family don’t end up with a giant chunk of garlic on their lettuce leaf.

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Add 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of water, 4 teaspoons vegetable oil.

 

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Shake vigorously!  Wait, wait, wait!!!!!   Put the lid on first!!!   Aaaaaaaugh!  I hope that I didn’t cause you to make a mess over there…

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Yummy…you’re all done.  Congrats!

You can now ask your guests whether they’d like Ranch, Russian, Thousand Island or House dressing with their salad!

Note:  You can make this yours in so many ways…add shallots, add olive oil, replace white wine vinegar with tarragon/champagne/red wine/balsamic vinegar, remove the mustard, replace the dijon with wasabi mustard, use smoked salt, etc…

You’ll be hooked!

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Have you read any Jodi Picoult before?

Here’s a little homework…go to a store, pick up ANY of her books, read it and then let me know what you think.

I will be shocked, shocked, if you do not agree with me that her writing style gets you hooked!

Goodness this author can deliver.  Every book of hers, no matter the subject, is thoroughly researched, made accessible and engaging to the reader and transformed into a highly addictive read.

My husband can predict that when I start to read one of her books, I will be out of commission for 2 days.  I may pop my head up out of the pages to do a quick scan and check to make sure everyone is alive, but even that’s iffy.

Great book about religion, the love of a mother and self-confidence.

SPOILER ALERT:

Jodi Picoult’s books have the same formula.  Build up the story, end up in a courtroom and have the big reveal at the end that blows your sox off.  Nothing wrong that.

She didn’t disappoint in Keeping Faith.  After going through her parent’s traumatic divorce, 7 yr old Faith, starts to see God, perform miraculous healings, develops stigmata, etc.  Jodi attacks this from the angle of atheism, medicine/science, religion and the mind of a mother and child.  There is the inevitable custody battle in court, as expected, but what is unexpected is how she ends this story with realism…

after all the dust settles when the court reaches its decision about Faith’s custody, Faith seems to lose contact with God.  And yet, afraid of losing her Mother’s attention, Faith pretends to still have the connection, by fabricating a conversation with God.

So glad that Jodi Picoult is a prolific writer.  Looking forward to sinking my teeth into another of her page-turners.

Hello? Are you with me?

Right before my wedding I got a brilliant piece of advice that you probably got, too…

“Throughout the day, stop, look around, absorb, feel, take it all in.  Be present.  Your wedding day will go by in a flash and if you force yourself to be in the moment, many times, you’ll enjoy yourself and cherish the memory.”

I took it.  As much as I could, because the day was a whirlwind.  And I can look back and feel and remember snapshots and I’m so happy I was present in my head.

Let your mantra be “TODAY”.  Say it to yourself multiple times a day, and do this daily.

I heard something the other day that really resonated with me. “Depression is focusing on the past and anxiety is focusing on the future.”

This isn’t saying that you can’t happily relive memories from your past and/or plan for your future (bills, retirement, projects,etc) without being mentally unbalanced!  I believe that it simply emphasizes the importance of living in the moment.

Be where you are.  Be in one, and only one place at a time.  And absorb it with all of your senses.

Private Bathroom Etiquette

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So have you taught your kids this one yet?

‘If you sprinkle while you tinkle, please be neat and wipe the seat.’

I think there’s a time and a place for everything and right now it’s time for potty talk…

There is, I think, or at least there ought to be, bathroom etiquette.  The ‘proper’ way to behave yourself when using ‘the little girls’/boys’ room’.

  • And then there’s ridiculously controversial subject matter of whether or not to put the toilet seat down after you’ve used it, if you are of the male persuasion. How it’s a controversy is beyond me!  I believe that the other side of the argument out there is that we females should consider leaving the toilet seats up for men.  Can you imagine how many little kids out there would be falling into the toilet bowls if we took up with that side of the matter!                                                                                                            Put the toilet seat down, pretty please. For my sake & more importantly for yours. Even if it’s in your own home, even if it’s ‘your’ bathroom. First of all, it is really quite revolting to see the underside of a toilet seat & that much of a toilet bowl, don’t you think? Secondly, imagine yourself, or your 5 year old, or your significant other, sleepily padding through the house at 2 am to the bathroom and falling into the toilet bowl. Does not bode well for the unsuspecting spouse who is jerked out of his sleep by an angry lashing.
  • And, I’m sure you’ll agree that we should start by making sure that none of us out there is forced to sit in a puddle when the time comes for us to go about our business.
  • Put the toilet lid down, too.  Nobody wants to stare into that thing when they walk into a bathroom.  And it’s the sensible thing to do.  The last thing you want is for the cat or dog of the house to be found lapping from the bowl…nothing will turn your stomach more.  And if a lady just wants to step into the bathroom quickly to check her hair & makeup, she doesn’t want to be reminded of the last person in there and what their business was!
  • Don’t be the one who leaves an empty roll of toilet paper on the toilet paper holder. Always replenish with a new roll.
  • Might I suggest a foolproof way to avoid the humiliating catastrophe of clogging up a bathroom at someone’s house & causing a very disgusting overflow.  Easy. Wipe 3x and then flush. If you need to continue wiping, do so, but again, throw only 3 wipe’s worth of toilet paper in the bowl and then flush.  Repeat as necessary. There. Enough said on that subject matter!
  • WASH your hands after you flush! Two times!!  With soap! Then use the napkin or bath towel that you used to dry your hands to turn off the faucet and to open the door on the way out. You do this because there are quite a few people who forget to wash their hands after they use the bathroom…..ewwwww!

Hey, this all needs to be said.  And if not by your Mama, then by whom?!

Your Mama’s Apple Crisp

IMG_7642Mmmmmmm……..Apple Crisp…..

What could be better on a cool, crisp autumn day than to walk into your house to the smell of apple crisp baking in your oven?  Well, maybe if it was apple pie, or apple brownies, or apple cake, or apple bars baking in there…

…can you see a recurring theme here?

That’s because, believe it or not, I am still up to my eyebrows in apples from when my Mom & Dad dropped off bags of them from their apple orchard in the beginning of October!

I have been baking at least 2 apple recipes per week!

Not like I’m complaining of course, nor my hubby, nor my little girl, neighbors, librarians, family, friends, mailman, etc.

Today, I thought I’d share my classic apple crisp recipe.  The one that I’ve been baking since I first learned how to peel an apple.  And it is divine.  And a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream alongside sends this dish over the moon!

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Start with about 8-10 apples, depending on the size.  (I’ve got 10 here because they’re medium-sized.)  Don’t worry about the perfection of the apple.  If they’ve been not-so-gently dropped on the floor, or their skin appears to be ‘aging’, or they have any other blemishes, they are superb for baking!  Keep the beautiful, firm, flawless ones for eating as a snack…

Peel, core and slice.

IMG_7619Place in ungreased 9 x 13 inch pan.

IMG_7620Sprinkle 1 1/2 tablespoons flour on top of apples.

IMG_7621Add 1/2 cup packed brown sugar…

IMG_7622Gently mix this together using a rubber spatula,

IMG_7623till the apple slices are beautifully coated and you’re sitting on your hands in order to stop yourself from eating them all.

IMG_7624Now, we start making the crisp…yum!  You’ll need 1 1/2 cups of old-fashioned oats in a large bowl.

IMG_7625Add the same amount of all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 cups.

IMG_76302 cups packed brown sugar go in next…

IMG_7631and 2 teaspoons cinnamon…

IMG_7633mix ingredients with a fork…

IMG_7632cut up 2 sticks of cold butter into 1 inch chunks…

IMG_7635and use your fingers to incorporate or smush the butter into all the yummy brown sugar, oats, flour & cinnamon,

IMG_7637resulting in a mound of clumps that slightly resembles a pile of rubble!  Which is exactly the look you’re going for.

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Pour this flavorful ‘rubble’ onto the apple slices, place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the smell permeates every room in your home!

Serve warm, serve cold.  Serve with ice cream, serve without.  Serve to others or hide it in the pantry and just serve yourself!

This recipe was actually doubled to accommodate a larger crowd.  It can absolutely be cut in half and baked in a 8 x 8 pan for 30 minutes or so.

I am so gauche

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Gauche:  unsophisticated, socially awkward
(English Definition)

Gauche:  left, awkward
(French Definition)

I do not lie when I say that I am gauche…when it comes to directions and navigation…soooooooo awkward

Besides explaining what the french word gauche means and confessing that it describes my sense of direction well, I also wanted to impart two little hints having to do with the left-hand direction…

  • L with your hands to determine left and right:

An easy way to teach yourself and others and little kids, especially, how to remember their right from their left is by using your hands.  Your thumb and pointer/fore finger of both hands, when extended, will make the letter L.   Ok, so leave the other fingers closed and extend your pointer finger upward and your thumb outward.  See the “L”?  If you’re having a hard time, see picture above for the cute, chubby finger version!

Make an L with both of your hands.  The left L will be facing the correct way…that is your left hand!  The word left starts with L!!!

Now next time you are driving down the road and someone tells you to turn left you can take both your hands off the steering wheel, makes your L’s and figure out which way to turn…

  • Lefty Loosey  Righty Tighty:

Words to live by…

Pretty sure you turned off your propane tank on your gas grill?   Pretty sure is not very reassuring and that would certainly dampen people’s spirits at a BBQ if the chef went up in flames.  Could have sworn that you shut off the garden hose last night?  Only to find water streaming down the sides of you basement walls this morning?

Lefty loosey  righty tighty…lefty loosey  righty tighty…lefty loosey  righty tighty

To shut something off, or to tighten something, turn it towards the right.  To open something, or to loosen it, turn it towards the left.  And remember to just make your L’s with both hands to tell your right from your left!

I may be navigationally challenged, use my GPS to get to the library in town and once in a while end up heading south towards NY on the highway instead of north towards the seacoast, but darn it all, I can tell my left hand from my right!

Eating is not a race

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Remember our sit-down family meals growing up?  Someone always had to set the table, we couldn’t start eating till after we were all seated and our parents gave the go-ahead, we talked about our days, and we had to finish what was on our plates before leaving the table.

It was a rare, rare occasion that we stood around the kitchen counter to eat anything.  I think we were even made to sit while eating our snacks after school…

There’s something to be said about slowing down while eating.  Eating is not a race.

Sit down while you eat. Anything. Even a snack. This will allow you the time to give thought to the food you are eating rather than just going through the motions.  You’ll focus on chewing, contemplate the food you’re eating, and its preparation.  And, in all likelihood, you’ll be more deliberate in your choices of what you are about to eat…

When you eat on the fly, in a rush, you are most likely not going to take the time to cook or prepare something healthy.  Your tendency towards the convenience of frozen foods, fast foods or delivery will prevail.

Time around the table with your loved ones could coax your sullen teenager to talk about his math test, or prompt a discussion about planning a family vacation or a much needed date night.

Enjoy that glass of wine while dining & chatting with your friends.

And even if sitting down for a meal is a solo venture, it could be the quiet that your mind needs before you tackle what’s next…

Dining at a leisurely pace will promote healthier eating habits and quality family/friend or alone time.  Win-win-win!

Bacon Makes Everything Better

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Dearest Bacon Grease,

I have a confession to make…

I have misunderstood you for so long…

all these years I’ve cast you aside; dumped you into an old coffee can, just to throw you out with the garbage, treated you as an unwanted by-product…

How could I have been so foolish?  So blind?  So wasteful?

Why didn’t I see your potential?

All those delicacies that could have been created…all those veggies that could have been eaten by my 4 yr old just by sautéing them in your magic…

I hereby decree that every time I fry up some delicious bacon

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I will pour off that flavorful, golden deliciousness into a jar…

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put a lid on it, and savor every last precious drop of it…

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Never again will I only use butter to saute my eggs, steak or potatoes, never again will I wonder what else I could use in my salad dressing to give it more depth, never again will I take you for granted…