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Monthly Archives: April 2012
Mother’s Day is just around the corner. It’s one of my favorite days. My daughter always makes me feel very special and does a great job celebrating me.
On the holiday, Isabella has made me a nice breakfast on her own for the past four years. She’s an inspiring daughter, and at thirteen is more than capable of making breakfast,. I loved it when a few years back she asked me to close my eyes, come into the kitchen, and turn the oven on for her. Or when she was five and made me a grilled cheese sandwich in the microwave, because she was not old enough to use the oven. I cherish her Mother’s Day breakfasts and can’t wait to see what she has on offer this year.
The extra-special part for me is that this is our day together to just be mother and daughter. I am a single parent, so whenever Isabella is at my house, it is just the two of us. But Mother’s Day is a day when we put aside all our day-to-day madness, bickering and chores and enjoy each other.
I always knew I’d have at least one child. I love kids and babies. They make me feel happy and secure and I know how to communicate with them on their own level. Kids and babies are just small people, and I tend to treat them as equals to adults. They are smart, funny, insightful and loving. This is why I became a mother.
And I’m very glad I did. I love being a mother enjoying my child and treating her with patience and understanding, regaling her with silliness and offering unbridled love. As Isabella gets older, I have to adjust the way I use these traits, but they are all still necessary. Patience is way at the top of the list these days, so is silliness (however, not in front of her friends, thank you very much). I find that with every passing year, we come to an understanding of how we relate and move into these new roles, sometimes with ease, sometimes not.
Gran Fran (my very own mother) and I are not always on the same page, but we talk or IM almost every day. We collaborate on food projects and discuss ideas for upcoming work that we’re doing. There is bickering and eye rolling a-plenty, but I will say that we are as bonded as ever. Though we live on opposite coasts, we are incredibly close.
We may not always see eye-to-eye on everything, but Gran Fran does have good advice on many of the stagesIsabella is going through. Having raised five kids, four of them girls, Gran Fran and Joe have seen it all. If Isabella and I start bickering when we are with Gran Fran, she helps defuse the situation by gently (which for Gran Fran means yelling instructions at top voice) reminding me that I was no cakewalk at thirteen and to give the kid a break.
From my echo (Isabella) my shadown (Gran Fran and me, here’s to Mother’s Day and all of the fabulous moms out there. May your kids treat you well more often than not and celebrate you always!
You can find recipes for my first installment of Mother’s Day here.
My daughter usually makes me corn muffins on the big day. I’ve always loved them, and she knows it. She generally serves them with a side of strawberries.
When I serve strawberries, I like to soak them in a simple syrup infused with mint. That’s my contribution to this meal.
As for my mother, Gran Fran, no matter how long it has been, to me Spring and Summer at her house mean iced blended cappuccino drinks.
Please enjoy this with your family and let Mama put her feet up and relax while you scurry around and meet her every need.
Isabella’s Corn Muffins
- 1 stick, 8 tablespoons, unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup almond milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup gluten-free flour (recipe found here or pre-packaged mix found here)
- 1 cup corn meal
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup sugar
- Heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Melt butter.
- Brush some of the melted butter on 12-cup muffin tin.
- Place tin in oven.
- Mix together milk, melted butter, and eggs
- Mix together dry ingredients.
- Swiftly stir wet ingredients into dry; do not overmix.
- Carefully, spoon ingredients into hot, buttered muffin tin
- In lower third of oven, bake 25 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove from tin; wrap in dishtowel in dish or basket if serving immediately.
- Otherwise place on wire rack, wrap individually in foil, seal in plastic freezer bag. Reheat before serving.
Natasha’s Mint Marinated Strawberries
- 6 mint leaves minced
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 large strawberries cut into pieces
- Put mint, sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Stir constantly until all the sugar has dissolved.
- Pour the mint simple syrup over the strawberries and let them sit for five minutes.
you will need a blender (ok, seems obvious, but thought I should mention it)
- 2 cups hot coffee, if it’s winter; cold if it’s summer
- 1 cup almond milk (Gran Fran uses whole milk)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 6 ice cubes if it’s summer
- Cinnamon, optional
- Place all ingredients in blender; adjust amounts to fit capacity of blender.
- Hold down cap of blender with a dish towel.
- Turn blender on high.
- Blend until frothy and creamy.
- Pour into glasses or cups. Sprinkle with cinnamon if desired.
- Serve immediately.
I made two roasts recently (roast pork and roast beef). In the midst of preparation, I came across an America’s Test Kitchen review of electric knives. It had been a long time since mine had seen the light of day. I was glad for the timely reminder to get my out of the cabinet.
I’m so happy I did. Check out these slices of meat. They were thinner and more even than I could’ve managed with my carving knife alone.
Joe (my dad) used to be in charge of the electric knife. I’ve mentioned before that Gran Fran is anti-sharp anything, and that she doesn’t like gizmos or gadgets in her kitchen. The only electronic appliance I ever see her use is her Kitchen Aid stand mixer. Even her coffee is made with a filter set on top of her mug. Needless to say, there was often a lot of drama around Joe using the electric knife. Gran Fran would clear the room of all children and hold her hand to her mouth, cringing all the while Joe was cutting up whatever nice roast they had made for dinner.
Fast forward to present day SF. I called Gran Fran in NY to get her advice on the cooking temperature for the roast beef and mentioned I’d be using my electric knife to slice the roast. After an audible gasp, Gran Fran told me to call her after I had finished slicing the roast so she knew I’d made it out with all of my fingers and limbs intact.
Guess what…I made it out alive, all limbs and digits still adhered to my body, with a perfectly sliced roast on my table.
It’s no secret that I love a good pork roast. The fat. The meat. The flavor.
Recently, I reposted a post from my trip to Paris in 2010. It covered my feeling towards my first (and only) Parisian-style Greek sandwich. It was great. Check out the picture of it (and me) here.
I decided to make a roast that would mimic the flavors of the meat in the Greek sandwich, while still being not too much work. The recipes I found all involved cutting the raw meat into thin slices, marinating them and then quickly panfrying or grilling them. I didn’t want to take the time, nor did I have any interest in cutting up raw meat.
My method uses all the same spices, but with way less effort. I simply marinated the whole pork roast in a mix of herbs, spices and vinegar. The end result tasted very close to the real thing, though I know if I’d taken the time to actually slice up the meat and marinate thin slices, they would absorb even more of the great flavor.
I ended up making a Greek Sandwich Salad (read: no bread, but all the other great stuff that was in the original sandwich) with the cooked roast. Using my handy electric knife, I was able to slice the pieces nice and thin, which let the with plenty of delicious pork roast for the week to come.
Greek Spiced Roast Pork
- 2 pound pork loin roast
- 2 tablespoons crushed oregano
- 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 teaspoons black pepper
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- In a bowl large enough to hold the roast, mix together all the spices and cider vinegar.
- Put the roast in the bowl with the spice mixture, turning to coat all sides.
- Leave in the marinade for at least thirty minutes and up to overnight. If you are doing a longer marinade time, cover and refrigerate the bowl.
- Once the roast is marinated, remove it from the bowl and place on a rack on top of a roasting pan.
- Roast for 20 minutes then lower the temperature to 375 degrees and roast for an additional 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let sit for ten minutes before slicing.
- Slice thinly (I love to use an electric knife here) and serve!