Broccoli salad, now, there’s the ticket. It has the advantages of sturdiness, and anything with broccoli imparts that aura of good health. My kids will sometimes eat it (though the Nuni’s BFF complained that it was “spicy”. Five year olds find currants to be “spicy.” Be warned.) I can make it one day and the leftovers are perfect for noshing the next day, and the next. [...]
his dish is a perfect potluck dish — it’s vegan (or not, depending on your additions), dairy-free, egg-free, and not too starchy. You can make it gluten-free by replacing the ramen noodles with rice noodles fried in a little oil. It’s also easy and quick to make, can be scaled up or down, and can be adapted to suit your tastes and your audience. With no mayonnaise, it will hold for a few hours without refrigeration (it also makes a great brown bag lunch dish). And did I mention it’s delicious? Flavorful, kid friendly — it even features healthy vegetables! [...]
We are in full on girly mode in the The Domestic Front household. The Nuni is two and a half years old, and is seriously interested in the following (in no particular order): twirly dresses, crowns, glass slippers, toenail polish, my makeup, shiny shoes, and anything with sparkles. I would freak out in a feminist quandary, except I have a fuzzy memory of being VERY into princesses and makeup when I was quite young myself, and I am a perfectly acceptable adult with a career and a family and a tendency to wear Old Navy tee shirts to work. In the Nuni’s world, her current favorite book is one called “Fancy Nancy”, about a hapless girl who LOVES being fancy — she likes to write her name with a plume (which is a fancy word for feather), her favorite color is fuchsia (which is a fancy word for purple), and she can’t WAIT to learn French, because EVERYTHING sounds fancy in French. Poor Fancy Nancy is beset by a thoroughly plain family, who thrills her one night by dressing up in accessories, going to a restaurant and ordering parfaits, which are “French for ice cream sundaes”. Now, accuracy aside, parfaits are a very fancy dessert, and as the parent of a wee one who loves all things fancy, I thought I would accommodate her wishes and make them. As she also loves all things pink (as she regularly tells me, “Pink is my favrit color, mamma.”) I thought I would turn to the pinkest of all pink things — rhubarb. Sure, it doesn’t sport the aggressive magenta of anything made with beets, but for rosy, fancy, girly pinkness, rhubarb is your ingredient of choice. [...]
Back in the day when I lived in New York, I was more than a little homesick. I pined and yearned for my home state of California, and pounced on everything I could find that reminded me of home. I wore flipflops at the very first sign of spring in the city (and narrowly avoided frostbite in the process), I saw the movie Sideways 3 times in the theaters, and bought the DVD when it was released; I traveled all the way to TENTH AVENUE to find a tiny taqueria in the back of a bodega that sold real tacos; I listened to the Beach Boys on repeat. So you can imagine how happy I was when the last apartment we lived in in Manhattan was right next door to a California Pizza Kitchen (it also had a balcony, which means my poor husband was sent outside to grill in 50 degree weather. He was happy when we finally moved to California because I immediately started wearing black and wanting to see foreign films in a desperate cling to my New York days). Now I realize that California Pizza Kitchen is about as truly Californian as Red Lobster is truly a restaurant of Maine, but I was desperate. And the truth is, I kind of liked their food. Sure, peanut butter is not my FAVORITE topping on pizza, and some of those combinations were just weird, but the barbecue chicken chopped salad was quite tasty and quickly became my go to order. [...]
There seems to be this idea out there that kids will not eat vegetables. There are suggestions to disguise the vegetables as trees, or puree them and hide them in the brownies. I just don’t get it. Sure, some kids are neophobes — they will view anything unfamiliar with suspicion. And some kids won’t touch anything green. But I think it’s our job as parents not only to get them to EAT vegetables, in some sneaky and underhanded manner, but to actually get them to like vegetables, as vegetables. That’s going to serve them a lot better in life than never eating spinach unless it’s part of a cupcake.
The challenge is in how to do that. And there is no answer that works for every kid. Try different things. Prepare vegetables in different ways. Try roasting them, or sauteeing with a little bacon, or serving a salad, or baking into a lasagna. Let them dip the vegetables in ranch dressing, or cover them with a cheese sauce. If they don’t like green vegetables, cook carrots or cauliflower or pattypan squash. Make vegetables, in all of their wondrous variety, a part of their life.
Before you run screaming for the hills, don’t think that the Nuni is sitting there saying “How about some cardoons for Sunday brunch today, Mom?” She’s not a great eater in general in terms of quantity, and macaroni and cheese or ice cream tend to be more successful than bell peppers and eggplant. (And I fully admit that there have been nights when dinner WAS ice cream, ideally washed down by a vitamin and some green juice from Trader Joe’s (that stuff is magic — it looks like pond scum, but tastes like bananas and mangos, and has things like spinach and seaweed in it). But I keep trying. I serve her the veggies she’ll reliably eat, like carrot sticks and raw broccoli, and I keep trying new preparations on her. And occasionally, I hit gold.
Last week we were driving home, carrying on our typical patter “Who did you play with today? What books did you read? What do you want for dinner?” (the answer is usually “Macaroni and cheese, because that’s a dish she remembers), when she suddenly piped up “I want kale for dinner.” Kale? My child wants kale? Not one to miss an opportunity, I stopped at the Whole Foods on the way home to pick up some kale, and rushed when I got home to prepare these kale chips. [...]
The Nuni just started preschool a few weeks ago. My baby is growing up! Generally she’s very happy and excited about school, because there are not one, but TWO slides and also there is a play kitchen. This new development does bring with it all sorts of new questions, such as “How many changes of clothes do I need to send each day because she will get the clothes she wore to school covered in paint?” or “Is it normal for a two year old to talk about kissing all the boys in her classroom?” or “Why does she keep telling the teachers that other kids’ jackets are hers?” The most important question of all, though, is what to provide for that time-honored ritual – the after school snack. I pick Nuni up from school right at the start of rush hour, and our trip home can be LONG, so I have to make sure I’m carrying something that can be eaten in the car, which means that has a low choke risk (because I’m a paranoid parent) and ideally, some good fat and protein, since my skinny minnie has been running around all day (did I mention there are TWO slides?). Cheese is the obvious answer, but it’s often rejected — I wanted something that would be appealing but still pack a nutritional punch. When talking with Stephanie of Wasabimon and Karen of Fickle Feast about gluten free baking, I got the idea to use nut flours to up the protein content in a standard muffin, which also has the added bonus of turning the standard muffin into something else entirely. [...]
People who don’t live in Los Angeles say that we don’t have seasons. The sun is always shining, the grass is always green, it’s always swimming pool weather. That’s not entirely true. We have seasons. In the winter it rains and the world is green. The spring is full of marine layers and fog, studded with purple jacaranda blooms. Summer is hot and dry and brown and ridden with wildfires. In the fall it smells of dirt and the Japanese maple trees in Beverly Hills turn glorious colors and the silkfloss trees burst into glorious pink blooms. We have seasons. They just don’t change in September.
September in Los Angeles just an extension of summer, with less vacation and more traffic. At its worst that means triple digit temperatures, smoke filled skies from wildfires, and faded, stretched out summer clothes that need another month’s wear squeezed out of them. But I like to think of this as a little blessing of Indian summer — sunny mornings warm enough to eat breakfast on the patio, evenings with a light breeze that are the perfect temperature for gin and tonics, tomatoes that continue to ripen on the vine, and summer fruits at the markets. Simple. [...]
There’s something wonderfully retro about a sloppy joe in a 1950’s Americana kind of way. You can imagine not Betty Draper (God Forbid she cook anything as plebeian as a sloppy joe) but her PTA peers serving sloppy joes to their fresh scrubbed kids and withdrawn husbands. The entire time I was growing up (in the post-Julia Child, Alice Waters and Wolfgang Puck era of California Cuisine), I only encountered a sloppy joe between the covers of books. The books were invariably slightly out of date, with lunch ladies (also a foreign concept) serving up steamy sloppy joes in the context of a school cafeteria to girls in bobby socks and boys with pompadours. I had some idea of what a sloppy joe was, thanks to my mother’s 1955 edition of the Better Homes and Garden Junior Cookbook, which blithely incorporated cans of condensed soup, “summer drink powder” and canned fruit cocktail into its recipes, but it didn’t frankly, sound like anything I would eat. The somewhat disturbing cans of “manwich” I glimpsed at the grocery store (we certainly never bought them) only confirmed my impression that sloppy joes were a thing of the past and should stay there. [...]
Some recipes sneak up on you. You get a cookbook or a magazine, you read through it in a leisurely fashion, maybe try a recipe or two, and set it aside. A few months later, you pick it up again, notice a picture that looks tasty, and forget about it. Fast forward a few months, and you finally make the recipe and think it’s only OK. And then you start to crave it and it finally, finally becomes part of your repertoire. Then there are recipes you fall for at first glance – bam. You see it and your mind starts racing around the possibilities and you can’t wait to get into the kitchen and try it out. This is one of those. [...]
It can’t possibly be September already. Wasn’t it just Easter? What happened to the Fourth of July? I was going to spend this summer at the beach (yep, still milky white here), drinking mint iced tea (I think I made one pitcher), and lounging poolside (I forgot that mothers of two year olds are not allowed the luxury of lounging). I want my summer back! I’m not ready to banish my white pants to the back of the closet. I NEED MY CORONAS. My calendar and the back-to-school traffic on my commute are presenting incontrovertible evidence, however, that summer is on the wane. I can cling to the last vestiges by continuing to eat potato salad, and cobbler, and, of course, zucchini. [...]
Based in Los Angeles, the Domestic Front is the home of Kate, a working mom who is low on time but high on life. I hope this site helps you find ways to make your life richer, easier, more beautiful and more delicious. You can read more about me and the site here and feel free to email me with any questions or feedback!