chocolate + paper + scissors

2.26.2010

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Pancakes


After getting a new pancake griddle for Christmas, I'm still on a pancake jag! My next few food posts will be focused on pancakes - the easiest, quickest way to "bake" something comforting for breakfast. Our weekends have been so busy, so Mondays have turned into our "pancake day," since our girl doesn't have school on Mondays. (I do realize that next year's approaching having-to-get-up-and-be-dressed-by-7:45 daily kindergarten routine is going to, in fact, rock our world. We're soaking up a few slow and lovely weekday mornings while we still can.)

I've tweaked the original recipe to make it a bit sweeter by adding some vanilla yogurt (rather than plain) and some molasses (good source of iron, too). Remember that T = tablespoon and t = teaspoon.

Ingredients

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 T. sugar
1 T. and 1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
1 cup whole vanilla yogurt
2 T. molasses
1 1/2 cup nonfat milk (more to thin as needed)
4 T. canola oil (plus more for the griddle)
2 large eggs

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside. In another bowl, whisk together milk, yogurt, molasses, oil and eggs.
2. Add dry ingredients and mix until just moistened. Add more milk to make batter to your liking.
3. If not using a non-stick griddle, brush oil onto preheated skillet or griddle. Use 1/4 measuring cup of batter for each pancake.
4. Cook until pancake surface begins to bubble and a few have burst, about 1 - 2 minutes. Flip and cook 1 - 2 minutes more.
5. Enjoy with a little butter and maple syrup or molasses.

Viva la pancake day!

2.23.2010

The Happiness Project (in person!)


Last Thursday evening, I had the pleasure of attending a book signing for Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun. In town for the Mom 2.0 conference, she made time in her busy Houston schedule to jet down to the west side's sturdy, charming, indie Blue Willow Bookshop.

The intimate bookshop held a packed audience - all women - and was complete with cupcakes and flutes of champagne for all (things that make the shop owner happy, of course!).

I fell into fascination with Rubin's original Happiness Project blog (formerly at Slate) after reading one of her posts on Real Simple's blog. Her blog was a real-time chronology of her own personal "happiness project" - which she worked on for one solid year.

Rubin, a passionate NYC resident and mother of two, warmly noted that happiness means something different for each one of us; happiness is a subjective, personal topic. We all have different interests that make us happy. And in the hustle and bustle of life, many of us have forgotten how to play. We forget to do things just for fun. We're all business.

I look forward to sharing more as I read the book. In the meantime, if you're interested in learning more about Rubin and her journey, visit The Happiness Project, where she still blogs daily.

You may just be happy you did.

2.09.2010

Looking for love behind curtained spaces


(love = big sister's night light)

2.05.2010

Stepping into fresh produce with an organic co-op

Let me preface by saying…I am no nutrition purist.

As I’m nearing the official midpoint of my 30’s, I’m always trying to improve my own personal nutrition, as well our family’s nutrition. “You are what you eat” is one of my favorite sayings – because it’s so true. Our bodies are machines – and we have to fuel them well if we want them to perform well.

As the head chef and nutritional role model in our home, it’s all up to me what my loved ones consume on a daily basis (!), and I take my job quite seriously. However, I’ve learned that it’s impossible to escape pre-school produce pickiness, the 12-minute ease of chicken nuggets, the fun of eating great Tex-Mex at local dives, front-door pizza delivery, occasional donut stops and Cadbury milk chocolate with almonds. So, I’m really trying my best to relax a bit.

Everything in moderation, right? I don’t mind if we splurge on fried simple carbohydrates and veggie-less cheese enchiladas if we’re eating well the rest of the week. This month, I’ve really been trying to work in more fruits and vegetables to our daily regime…raw or cooked. I know raw is better – but sometimes, it’s all I can do to get my sweet girl to eat broccoli with butter and some sea salt!

Last night, I tried something new – and had my first experience with an organic produce co-op. It was very organized – several of us arrived at 6 p.m. in the rain to pick up our half-shares of assorted local and domestic, seasonal produce, which I conveniently ordered online earlier this week.

When I picked up my $47 box, I was able to choose three more vegetables to complete the package – and I could choose from a plethora of fresh, colorful produce. I was so excited to choose two gorgeous, fragrant grapefruit and a lovely butternut squash (which I can now confidently cut, since receiving a new chef’s knife last year for Christmas).

As I loaded my packed goody box into the car, I was reminded of my days of being a nine year-old girl obsessed with “grab bags” (mainly with stickers) – and the anticipation of tearing open the great bag of mystery to find my treasures! I couldn’t wait to get home to take stock of my beautiful produce, waiting to meet its new home…soon to be consumed! First, I had a lovely dinner with my dear friend Wendy.

On my way home from dinner, I’ll admit I was thinking that $47 was a bit more than I wanted to spend – but once I got home and took inventory, I soon felt that there was quite a bit of value with the large quantity (and quality) of all of the organic contents. We must remember that nutrition is an investment.
The contents included (30-40% locally grown):

One pineapple, one butternut squash, two grapefruit, one bunch of kale, three tomatoes, one bunch of romaine lettuce, one red bell pepper, seven apples, two avocadoes, one bunch of broccoli, five oranges, one box of blueberries, one bunch of celery, three zucchini, one cucumber, one kiwi, one bunch of purple basil, two bunches of arugula, three pears and one bunch of bananas. De-lish!

This morning, we had fresh-squeezed navel orange juice. Little Man enjoyed his favorite: blueberries. My crunched away on her apple. We had scrambled eggs with diced zucchini. I had an arugula and mozzarella grilled cheese for lunch. And I can’t wait to throw in some chopped bell pepper, fresh broccoli, zucchini and purple basil into our spaghetti sauce tonight. (It’s a store-bought sauce, which makes my life easier sometimes! Again, I’m no purist. Where’s my chocolate?)

It feels good to make an effort to be healthier, support local farmers, and to create! I feel like an artist who rushed home with a box of new paints.

I’ll share more with you as I learn more about the co-op process. I’d like to thank our neighbor Jane, who gave me the tip about the co-op. You can check out co-ops in your area by searching online. You never know what you’ll find…

Happy (veggie) hunting!

2.04.2010

Beta-carotene + The Beatles = Brightened Winter Day

It’s a cold, rainy 51-degree day today: typical Texas February weather. Little Man and I were dressed and ready to walk out the door at 10:30 this morning to run some errands – and then I reconsidered and opted to stay in and play (and, re-organize some toys = fun mess for toddlers!). I kicked off my black and white floral rain boots, and we both got cozy in our warm, toy-filled den.

Lunch hunger came a knockin’ at our usual 11:30, and I was craving an amazingly yummy and simple-to-make pumpkin soup from Janice and Liz over at Meal Makeover Moms. Since I’m a pumpkin freak, I’ve made this soup half a dozen times since the fall – I love it that much!

I like to garnish mine with a dollop of sour cream and some cinnamon...


So, while Little Man ate his veggies, I made the soup while jamming to the Beatles. (Confession: I danced so much, in fact, that I almost forgot to add the cinnamon. Added it just in time!) I should tell you that Little Man dances, too, in his high chair: he shakes his right shoulder - ever so gracefully – and sometimes kicks off a shoe. I know he means business when he does the shoulder shake – he was feeling “Can’t Buy Me Love,” too! The boy’s got some soul.

Hope you enjoy this simple, delish and very comforting sweet-savory soup!

2.03.2010

Whatever that you like


There's a great amount of peace and joy in knowing what you like. I love the constant clarity that my four year-old daughter has about many things these days.

Yesterday, as I was serving lunch on a cold, rainy January day, she cheerfully exclaimed:

"Mommy, you know what I like? I like summer, spring, Valentine's Day, going to parties, going the pool, sunny days, and going to the park."

What fun things to love, my sweet girl! You know what I like?
I like the way she thinks.

I also like...

Being silly as can be with my babies
Chunky baby feet and whispy baby hair
Cold, clear days with whispery white clouds
Gingerbread pancakes
Homemade hot chocolate
Tea with beautiful, wise friends
Baby showers
Getting great ideas and capturing them on paper
Music that moves my heart
Hugging my husband after a long day
Looking the squirrel outside my window square in the eye (as he then darts off)
...And, quiet time.
What things do you like?