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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Foodmomiac Family Dinner Confession

So... family dinner is really important to me. COOKING a family dinner is really important to me.

And, I have a confession. I am a huge, giant, ridiculous food snob when it comes to cooking the aforementioned family dinner. It has to be from scratch. It has to be amazing. Blah blah blah.

And you know what? My food snobbery/OCD approach to family dinner doesn't always make sense when you are the owner of a start up that requires every iota of energy that isn't already devoted to your family. And this leads to unnecessary dinners out and take out which is wasting stupid amounts of money.

I'm trying to get over my stubborness and buy some ingredients (aka pre-made stuff) that will make dinner a little easier.

This week I made:

- roast chicken with salad and some pre-made mashed potatoes (OMG, just typing that made me visibly cringe).

- tacos (though I didn't do the pre-made seasoning, b/c it is just as easy to toss in chili powder and a touch of flour)

Right now I have chicken soup on the stove, but I DIDN'T MAKE HOMEMADE DUMPLINGS. Yes, my poor kids (and brother) are eating chicken soup with bagged egg noodles and I think they will survive.

Go ahead, tell me what a crazy snob I am.


Friday, January 06, 2012

On Housekeeping (written by Ana Rose)

At the nursing home where my Grandma died, she took a writing class, and my mom brought her journal home with her yesterday. I am just loving reading the entries (though her handwriting is ridiculously hard to read). I thought I'd share one of the more charming entries here (written, I believe just a few weeks before she turned 95), as it really resonated with me.

I relate to so much of what Grandma wrote here. I too am a terrible housekeeper, and I love the brilliance at the end. As my mom just said to me, "you got her genes."

I was not a good housekeeper. I was a good cook and a good baker. But I wasn't a good housekeeper. I remember one day I was exiting the subway at Radio City. A young lady passed me - looked at me, continued on a bit - and returned to ask me if I were Estelle Matlin's sister. Which I was. How did she recognize me? Of all the 8 million in NY. 

She told me that a number of years ago, she with my sister came to visit me. That day I had decided to clean closets. Closets - not one - but closets. They found me - buried with all I had pulled out. She said she had never forgotten the look on my face. Too tired to organize but what was I do do with all that I had dumped in the hallway - and it was time to bathe and feed the kids.

I don't understand how I was so disciplined as an administrator and so disorganized as a housekeeper. For my mental health it was a good thing that I decided that I had to go back to work.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

In Memory of Grandma Ana


I will likely share more when I have composed my thoughts, but my beloved Grandma Ana passed away this afternoon. When I googled "foodmomiac and Grandma Ana," I found a bunch of posts that I thought I'd share here for those who are interested in reading more about one of the most instrumental women in my life:

About Grandma Ana 

A photo of us together 

Grandma Ana hits the airwaves! 

Grandma's recipe for Pierres 

Grandma's recipe for Brickle Brot 


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holiday Decor in the Foodmomiac Household

I am stealing this idea from Linda, but I thought it would be fun to share some of our favorite holiday decor. 

First, I have to share a photo of our menorah. I LOVE our menorah. It's from an art gallery in Ann Arbor, and I never get tired of it. 



Next up are some of my favorite ornaments on our tree. I love this old photo of Dylie (with our funny

Starbucks ornament in the background):

Michael loves skulls, so this ornament is a favorite. It's next to the awesome Pat the Bunny book that actually opens up to reveal a fluffy bunny just like the real book:

Toledo is Michael's hometown and we lived their for seven years. It is also known as the "Glass City" so we have lots of blown glass ornaments from our time there. This sweet bird is one of my favorites:

I have a set of five of these Norman Rockwell papier mache ornaments. I don't know why I love them, but I do. :-) They are from Big Lots of all places!

Many of our most beautiful ornaments come from my sister-in-law Megen. This is an antique glass bell that she got us one year:

Megen also got us these glass baby-themed ornaments when Dylie was just a few months old. They are so sweet:

And of course we have lots of food and cooking-related ornaments. This KitchenAid one is my favorite of the lot:

What's your house look like?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Baba Rice (a weeknight lifesaver)

This is my dear friend Lisa. Our husbands have known each other since Kindergarten (!!) and when we lived in Toledo, Lisa was a constant in my life. I remember calling Lisa and Todd just a couple of days after they brought their oldest son home from the hospital to tell them that we, too were going to have a baby! Now Ty is almost 11, and Dylan is 10, and I feel like an elderly woman, but that's a story for another day.

Lisa is the friend who introduced me to Bunco (which I greatly miss - why don't people play Bunco in Chicago??), and the person who brought over food after Dylie and Max were born. And the one dish that was ALWAYS included with this delivery was Baba Rice. Baba was Todd's grandma, and she was from Bulgaria. I love Baba Rice, but I could never make it properly no matter how many times Lisa walked me through it over the phone.

This has always been a source of frustration for me, so when we visited Todd and Lisa Thanksgiving weekend, I watched her make it and took very detailed notes. I am happy to report that I have now made Baba Rice twice and was successful both times. Woot!

And now I am sharing with you. Enjoy.

Baba Rice
2-1/2 cups Uncle Ben's rice (the brand is important here, so don't try to get all fancy. You need the original Uncle Ben's converted rice)
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 small onions, chopped
5 cups chicken broth
freshly ground black pepper
1 Tb. dill
1 Tb Spike seasoning or summer savory (Chubritza is the Bulgarian word for this)
1 tsp chicken bouillion paste (I use that Better than Bouillion stuff from the supermarket)
1/4 cup canola oil 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Put the rice in a 9x13 Pyrex dish. Add the celery, onion, broth and spices. Break the bouillion paste up into smaller pieces and distribute throughout the dish. Pour in the oil and mix everything well. Cover the pan with foil and place into the oven for an hour. Remove from the oven and mix up a bit with a fork. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Gift Ideas for Kids Who Love Cooking

A friend of mine sent me a tweet the other day asking for non-gimmicky gift ideas for kids who love to cook. I was a kid who loved to cook, and both Dylan and Max follow in my foot steps, so I had a lot of fun coming up with some fun ideas and figured I'd share them here too.

A Personalized Chef's Hat and Apron
In the picture above, Dylan is wearing the set that my mom got her a couple of years ago for Hanukkah. She loves it! Her name is embroidered under the apron pocket.
(Edited to add: The above hat/apron is actually from MICHAEL'S mom. Dylan has a pink set from MY mom.) 

A Subscription to a Food Magazine
I taught myself to cook watching cooking shows (Frugal Gourmet was my FAVORITE) and reading food magazines. For kids who are ages 9 and above, a food magazine is a great idea. If they are anything like me, they'll instantly start cutting out all of the recipes that they want to make someday.

A Blank Recipe Book
I still have the recipe book that I got as a kid. It has recipes that I cut out and glued and handwritten recipes that I got from my mom.

Cooking Classes
We have a lot of options for kids cooking classes here in Chicago because it's a big city, but I think these types of programs are really starting to spread, so do some research. Maybe you can even find a local food blogger or private chef who will do private lessons in your home.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving: The Day Before, 2011

This year things will be pretty mellow in the household for Thanksgiving. We had originally planned to go to NY to celebrate with my dad, but my brother is living with us now (as I've mentioned), and he has to work both tonight and Friday, so we wanted to stay here with him.

Anyway, it will be just the five of us as well as our old au pair Vivi and two of her friends (Vivi is now living with another family in Chicago, but they are traveling). Despite a total guest list of eight, I am cooking enough for 20. I'm not sure if this is denial or psychosis, but I just love making Thanksgiving dinner, and scaling back is no fun at all. I am legendary for being a total beast about letting people cook with me. The only one who is typically allowed in my kitchen is my sister-in-law Megen, but since she'll be home in Kentucky, I have made the decision to let Dylan help me. She is now officially 10 years old, and that seems like a good age to start learning Thanksgiving meal prep, no?

On tap for pre-prep today is:

  • make chopped liver
  • cut bread up so it gets dried out for stuffing
  • make stock for gravy (we bbq our turkey, so we don't get good drippings)
  • make both cranberry sauces (cranberry horseradish relish and simple cranberry sauce)
  • make and cool brine, brine turkey

The turkey arrived yesterday from Gilt Taste. It is an Amish heritage turkey and it looks BEAUTIFUL.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween 2011!

and then she ate his brains:

Sunday, October 30, 2011

FoodKIDiac: Guest post by Dylan - Baked Acorn Squash

My favorite dish lately has been baked Acorn Squash it is SO delicious! It is fun and easy to make! I was able to make it all by myself, actually. Today we had it with chicken and a nice little salad! It is such a great comfort food and it adds a little sweetness to your dinner! I guarantee that you will LOVE this dish! Acorn squash is probably the best fall dish you can ask for! Today my Dad built a fire in the fireplace so it was really nice and cozy in our house.

I could eat acorn squash forever! You HAVE to try this dish!

Here is the link to the recipe I used:



Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Monday Night Dinner that Garnered a Standing Ovation (Lamb Meatballs and Mujadara)

The title of this post is no exaggeration. Shortly after declaring it, "the best meal you have cooked in five years," Michael told the kids they should give me a round of applause. And then Dylan stood up on the bench in the kitchen to turn that round of applause into a full out standing o. This is NOT the norm in my household, but damn, it was definitely satisfying.

Dinner was an old favorite that I hadn't made for years (mujadarah) along with a new dish that I tried for the very first time (lamb meatballs). The lamb recipe has a gajillion steps, so I am just going to link to it rather than adapt it and repost here. Click here for amazing lamb meatballs.

I will, however, share with you the recipe for Mujadara. This recipe comes from David Rosengarten, a chef who was a very big deal on the Food Network back in 1996 when I worked there. (He also wore a ridiculous amount of makeup when recording his shows, so when he'd swing by the cubicles to talk to the "little folk," we always ended up laughing over his oompa loompa face as soon as he left.) 


1 cup green or brown lentils
1 quart cold water
3 large white onions, sliced into thin half moons
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup basmati or jasmine rice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. allspice

Bring the lentils to a boil in the cold water and then turn the heat down to simmer. Let them cook for about 25 minutes or until they are just about tender. Reserve 1.5 cups of cooking liquid (you likely won't be able to reserve this much, but you can just make up the difference with fresh water), and drain the lentils.

While the lentils are cooking, cook the onions in olive oil until they get nice and soft (the original recipe calls for five minutes, but this took me at least 10). Pull out 1.5 cups of the onions and set them aside. Cook the rest of the onions until they are caramelized and verging on crispy (again, they say five minutes, but it was more like 10 or 15). Drain these on a paper towel and set them aside.

In that same saucepan, add the cooked lentils, the reserved liquid, the softened onions (not the caramelized ones), the rice, salt and allspice. Cook this over low heat, covered, until the rice is tender, which should happen in about 20 minutes. Serve topped with caramelized onions. Sit back while your family applauds your efforts.

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