Tuesday, December 7, 2010

And the rain, rain, rain came down, down, down

It was pouring rain in Disneyland this weekend, but we had fun anyway!  Happy Birthday Rafa!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mister Four

Mister Four had his birthday yesterday.  It was a big day, with #4 cupcakes at lunch time, and cake and presents and friends in the evening.  Mister Four got a special shirt to wear: orange, with a big green 4 on it.

About an hour after going to bed, Mister Four got up and came in to talk to me one more time.

"Mommy, I like birthday.  I want to have birthday 5, and birthday 6, and birthday 7," he said, rubbing his eyes and dragging his fuzzy Elmo doll on the floor.

"Of course, baby," I said, and took him back to bed, where he was asleep before his head touched the pillow.

Big boy.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

May we be thankful for health and strength, for sun and rain and peace. Let us seize the day and the opportunity and strive for that greatness of spirit that measures life not by its disappointments but by its possibilities, and let us ever remember that true gratitude and appreciation shows itself neither in independence nor satisfaction but passes the gift joyfully on in larger and better form.     ~W.E.B. Du Bois
Please join me in prayers for Baby Madeleine and Baby Vivian. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sunset Season

It's sunset season out here in the Sunset District.
Every year in Autumn we get these painted skies in the evenings.
Simply beautiful.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Iron Foodie Contest

1. Why do you want to compete in this challenge?

Well, to be honest, I have just about everything anybody could want in life: a wonderful husband and two sweet boys, work I love, a comfortable home, wonderful family and friends...the only thing I've longed for is to be an Iron Chef. I think the Iron Foodie is as close as I am going to get!

2. Limitations of time/space notwithstanding, whose kitchen would you like to spend the day in & why? Julia Child, Thomas Keller, Ferran Adria, James Beard, Marie-Antoine Careme, or The Swedish Chef?

I think it would have to be Julia Child. I have a soft spot for her and great admiration for her work.

3. What morsel are you most likely to swipe from family & friends’ plates when they aren’t looking?


4. Sum your childhood up in one meal.

Stuffed bell peppers.

5. The one mainstream food you can’t stand?

Hot pockets.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010


I remember the sound of the foghorn at night when I was a child drifting off to sleep. There were real foghorns in those days, posted at the entrance to the Bay, and they would begin to sound as soon as the fog started to roll in.

I can remember the sound of my grandfather's footsteps on the backstairs. The wooden steps with their black plastic covering would creak as he went down to his workbench to shine our shoes and have a smoke.

I can remember the steady whoosh and click of the pressure cooker in my grandmother's kitchen, and the tick and bell of the old white kitchen timer on the counter.

I can remember the sound of the seashell windchimes at the front stair.

I can remember the high pitch of the engine of my father's truck warming up on cold winter mornings.

I can remember the click of the loose ivory on the piano. The ivory pieces that had fallen off and been glued back on would click against the ivory keys next to them. The keys were made of real ivory. My grandmother was very proud of that.

What childhood memories do children have if they can't hear things like this? When Rafa watches his babies grow and learn, what will he remember most?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Boy with the Broken Wing

Same boy, same shirt, same park, two different days: one with a good arm and one with a sprained wrist.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


How did 2 weeks go by since my last post, and me with nothing to say? Well, we changed schools, had a garage sale, sprained a 3-year-old wrist, conducted a survey, painted the house, and got haircuts.

And I'm still on my diet. Yesterday I reached for a slice of french bread as I was serving dinner to the boys, and Louis said in a horrified voice, "no, mommy, don't eat it!!!". How does a 3-year-old know I'm on a diet?

19 pounds gone!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Boys Love Chicken Salad Sandwiches...

They tell us the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, and I'm setting the bar high, little girls out there. You might not even know who you are yet, but take my advice anyway and start enjoying how to cook, because not only is it good for you, it will keep the others happy too!

Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Toast a handful of walnut pieces in a small saucepan for a couple of minutes over high heat, and set them aside to cool.

Chop up some left over roasted chicken and toss it with a big spoonful of mayonnaise.

Next, peel and chop a nice ripe apple and mix it in with the chicken.

Add 2 big chopped green onions, and a handful of chopped cilantro, or basil, or parsley.

Toss in the toasted walnuts once they have cooled.

Salt a bit, and add a drizzle of olive oil if it looks dry (or more mayonnaise if you really want to).

Serve on big slices of sourdough bread, open-faced or closed.

Look how happy they get -- even abandoning the toys for a minute to finish dinner!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Boys Love Arroz a la Cubana

Lucinda Scala Quinn has a cookbook about feeding boys and men. I'm interested in taking a look at that...

A perennial favorite around here is Arroz a la Cubana: rice with tomato sauce, an egg on top, fried sausage alongside, and a little bit of fried plantain.

Just look how happy they are!

And how well they eat!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Back in business

...with a new iPhone and a creamy, manchego-cheesy, yellow tomato risotto for dinner. Look!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

What Would You Cook Today, If You Could?

Chorizo slices, hot and caramelized, with sherry
Fava beans with pasta and cream fraiche and lemon
Lentils with ham
Potato Soup
Pizza with eggplant slices
Egyptian Tomato Soup
Arroz a la Cubana
Veal Saltimbocca
Lavender shortbread cookies
Peach ice cream
Chocolate mousse
Fresh bread

And I would also like spinach salad with red onion, big handfuls of juicy red grapes, avocado slices with oil and salt, macadamia nuts, dried sweet cherries, coffee with hot foamed milk, some tempranillo, syrah, cabernet franc....

Can you tell that I'm on a diet? 5 pounds already gone.....

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Check Out Mosaiclife.net

I really enjoy these great articles about juggling everything that goes into everyday life with work and family, and the concept of life as a mosaic is lovely. Sign up at mosaiclife.net


The e-newsletter for the woman who does it all

Issue #58


Me time

Periodically, I am struck by the number of clients that come into my office wanting to discuss the same issue. This past month there has definitely been a repeating theme. And the issue? “Me time.”

Here’s what I have been hearing:

1. You want “me time” – but you feel guilty when you take it.

2. You want “me time” – but t you often spend it with your kids instead.

3. Your spouse wants “me time” – and takes it! And you resent him/her for doing that since you don’t get any “me time” – even though you aren’t taking “me time” anyway. (See items #1 and 2 above!)

Let’s address each of these in turn, but in reverse order. If you are not taking time for yourself but your spouse is taking time for himself, can you begin to see it is an example of your spouse taking care of himself? Rather than creating resentment, it could perhaps engender a wish to emulate him.

Now let’s look at the second point: choosing to spend your free time with your kids. It may be that, if you spend your time wisely – and enjoyably – with your kids, it can be a kind of “me” time. If the time with your kids nurtures you, and is fulfilling, that can be “me” time. For me, the hours spent caring for kids, making them snacks, and picking up after them do not feel like anything but chores. But the hours spent going to the pool with them, or going for a bike ride, or going blueberry-picking are enjoyable for me. So sometimes that family time is actually “me time.” Allow yourself to have fun with your family when you are choosing to spend time together: spend an afternoon not correcting anyone, or reminding your child to say please and thank you, or that there is a better way to accomplish a task. Just go and enjoy yourself and your kids.

But there is an underlying issue in this topic that is worth exploring. It’s important to ask yourself why you are spending that “me” time on the kids (either with them, or on your own but still doing errands for them). Is it because you really want to, or because you feel you should be – in order to be a “good” parent? This is where the “guilt” comes in that I mentioned at the top of the list. Most of the recent data on time use that I have seen shows that we spend more time with our children than previous generations of parents did with theirs, not less, despite the advent of more women working outside the home. In fact, the New York Times reported that “married and single parents spent more time teaching, playing with and caring for their children than parents did 40 years ago.” Maybe it’s time to redefine your idea of what is required to be a good parent.

Were your parents good parents? Did they spend only quality time with you, and lots of it? Or did they let you experience life with kids your own age and encourage you to be able to enjoy yourself with or without them? Instead of striving to be the perfect parent, maybe it would be better to be a “perfectly good” parent. Does being a good parent mean never spending time on you? Do you feel that the only legitimate use of your time is to do something for others?

Perhaps we have become so accustomed to the role of caregiver, to addressing the needs of our family, that we don’t even know what to do with that “me” time. Focusing on yourself might initially feel uncomfortable if you have lost touch with what you like to do for yourself. You might be tempted to fall back into your more accustomed routine of spending the time with – or for – someone else. But that “me” time is important. If it weren’t, I wouldn’t be hearing so many people struggling with it.

What will you do with some time to yourself, once you have let go of the guilt and the resentment that have built up around taking that time? I bet you have a long list. If you don’t, then read “What’s in it for you?” to get you started. If you need some help taking some time for yourself, then give me a call at 301-523-8882 or send me an email at beth@mosaiclife.net so we can figure that out together.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Nothing New Under the Sun

I was going to write a little about how cold we feel right now, in the middle of summer, in San Francisco. It is foggy, damp, windy, and grey. In the car, I have to use both the windshield wipers and the heater, and we have our heavy jackets out for wearing everyday.

And then, all of this started to sound familiar to me, and lo and behold, I said the exact same thing last summer in the first week of August!

Just goes to show you that there's nothing new under the sun, or lack of sun, for that matter. Back to the lavender oatmeal.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Total Wipe-out

Remember what it was like during summer vacations when you played and swam so hard that you were asleep before Mama could even get your pj's on?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sunday, June 13, 2010

We're Having a Heat Wave.....

San Francisco Ocean Beach -- Can you believe it? Looks like LA!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I need some new patio furniture

What do you think? Which one is more *me*???

Saturday, March 20, 2010

So-called Superfood Really is Super!

Spring got here, and we've been outside a lot. This is pretty much our only outdoors time for a while, because summer will be so cold we'll have the heater on again between Memorial Day and Labor Day!

To take advantage of the fun and sun, I thought I'd try this Superfood salad from the Leon Cookbook for a backyard luncheon. It is every bit as good as they say!

Superfood, from the Leon Cookbook by Allegra McEvedy

200g broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets

120g peas, fresh or frozen

100g cucumber, cut into slim batons

100g good-quality mozzarella, cubed

20g alfalfa

20g toasted seeds (we use sesame, sunflower, flax and pumpkin)

50g avocado, cut into pieces

30g quinoa, Fairtrade if possible

Small handful flat-leaf parsley, rough chopped

Small handful mint, rough chopped

juice of 1 lemon

4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

Wash the quinoa well and put in a small pan. Cover with cold water plus about an inch then let it gently simmer until the water's gone - about 15 minutes. Spread it on a tray to cool to room temperature.

Put an inch of hot water into a saucepan with a pinch of salt and cover it. Once boiling, drop in the broccoli and peas and put the lid back on. Drain after three minutes and run the veg under cold water to take all the heat out and keep them good and green.

Now build your salad in layers, starting with the first ingredient on the list and ending up with the dressing (but only dress it just before you eat it).

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Chocolate Guinness Goodness

Okay, lately I've been saying that everything is the best, but this *really* is the BEST!

Chocolate Guinness Goodness from Bon Appetit

* 8 large egg yolks
* 1 cup sugar
* One 14.9-ounce can Guinness Draught
* 3 cups heavy cream
* 7 ounces high-quality bittersweet (70 to 72% cacao) chocolate, finely chopped [NOTE: I actually used cocoa powder here, Valrhona, 3/4 cup]

* Special equipment: Six 8-ounce old-fashioned glasses

In large nonreactive mixing bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar.

Open can of Guinness and slowly pour into 4-cup measuring cup, pouring down side of cup to reduce foaming. Pour half of Guinness (about 7/8 cup) into heavy-bottomed 3-quart saucepan. Add 2 1/4 cups cream and whisk to combine. Set over medium heat and heat, whisking occasionally, until bubbles just begin to form at edges. Remove from heat, add chocolate, and whisk until smooth.

Slowly pour hot chocolate mixture into eggs, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. Return mixture to saucepan and set over moderately low heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens and coats back of spoon, about 15 minutes. (Pudding will look separated.) Pour into blender and blend on high for 1 minute. [NOTE: My pudding didn't look separated -- wonder if the cocoa powder had anythign to do with that -- so I skip the blender step.] Divide pudding among glasses, leaving at least 1 inch of space at top of each. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled and set.

Meanwhile, pour remaining Guinness into small saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to moderately low and simmer, uncovered, until reduced to 1 tablespoon, about 20 minutes. Pour syrup into small bowl and let cool.

Beat remaining cream until soft peaks form. Add Guinness syrup and beat until combined. Divide cream among 6 glasses of pudding and serve.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Grab your Crockpot and Try This!

This is the best thing that we have made in a long time! And I was so happy with it because I thought it was a really healthy dinner apart from the 2 tablespoons of cream that get stirred in at the last minute. And then Rafa reminded me that the chicken was sauteed first in a lot of butter (yes, he made this for us for dinner!). So okay, it has its share of butter and cream, but it is still home-cooked, super-easy, and delish!

Chicken with Golden raisins
from: Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 bone-in chicken thighs
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup red wine
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup golden raisins

One piece at a time, dredge the chicken in the flour, coating both sides and shaking off any excess.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it foams, add the chicken and cook until deep golden brown on both sides, 5 to 7 minutes per side.

Transfer the chicken to the slow cooker. Add the wine to the pan, bring to a boil, and cook, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the pan. Pour over sauce the chicken and season with the with the salt and pepper. Cover and cook on LOW for 4 hours.

Stir in the cream and the raisins. Cover, turn the cooker to HIGH, and cook until the chicken is tender and cooked through, another hour.

Serve the chicken hot, with the raisins and sauce.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I give that a 10!

If climbing in your crib were an olympic sport, we'd have a perfect 10! Here is an example of the team in action:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Peeking Out for a Look

Springtime is starting to appear, and I am starting to come out of hibernation. The details are boring, but let's just say that I feel like this little spring shoot searching for the sun!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I Just Signed up for a Kitchen Cure!

The Spring 2010 Kitchen Cure

Welcome to the Spring 2010 Kitchen Cure! The goal for this special four week express program is to get your kitchen in tip-top shape: clean, healthy and organized. As a result, your cooking will become more nourishing and delicious than ever...By signing up, you are taking your first step toward a successful Cure, and you will also have the chance to tell us a little about where you're coming from, why you're doing the Cure, and what you'd like to get out of it.

The Spring 2010 Kitchen Cure kicks off Friday, February 26th and runs for four weeks.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Picnic Essentials

When you're 3 years old, you have some good ideas about what's what. For example, when your mom takes you out for an al fresco lunch at the playground, you know exactly what it is you need to pack: three jars of peanut butter and two Hawaiian shirts.

Don't let anyone else carry the bag. And don't, whatever you do, let your mother tell you that you don't really need all that. She just doesn't get it!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

For the Love of Food

On January 26 we celebrated the love of food in honor of a wonderful friend. Here are some of the photos of the family and friends who gathered together to celebrate and share.

In San Francisco:

In Marin:

In San Diego:

photo coming soon!

Friday, January 29, 2010

For Uncle Gregory

A school project this week involved describing good character traits, one of which was listening to people. Of all the people who surround Rafa, he named his uncle as the one who is the best listener. But he doesn't call him his uncle, he calls him his godfather. Which is true, but it still surprised me.

I never realized, either, that his godfather had such long eyelashes.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Lemon and Soup Season Together

It's been blustery and rainy around here for a long stretch. Real soup weather if there ever was. At the same time, we have a bumper crop of lemons on our old lemon tree, so it was fun to try to combine the two.

Avgolemono Soup is a creamy, homey, lemony soup that was perfect to warm us in the cold weather and a good use of some of the lemons. This recipe is a combination of two recipes from the Silver Palate cookbooks. In one recipe they called for greens, and since we had some spinach, and it's always a good idea to eat spinach, I added it.

Avgolemono Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
6 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
1 handful of rice
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
2 cups of baby spinach

In a large soup pot, saute onion in olive oil for 5-7 minutes. Stir in rice and spinach and cook for 2-3 minutes. As spinach wilts, add chicken broth and simmer for 20 minutes until rice is softened.

Meanwhile, beat egg yolks with lemon juice. After broth has simmered for 15-20 minutes, slowly add 1/2 cup of broth to egg mixture to temper eggs. Whisk tempered egg mixture back into hot broth, taking care not to bring it to boiling.

I served this hot, but you can also serve it cold. Salt and pepper to taste, although we found that it didn't need any salt or pepper, it was that flavorful!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Coq au Champagne

Check out the Royal Foodie Joust this month. The ingredients are champagne, orange, and mushrooms. This is my submission:

Coq au Champagne

8 ounces lardons or cubed pancetta
white parts only of 2 large leeks, thinly sliced
1 large shallot, peeled and chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, roughly chopped
10 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
zest and juice of 1 orange
1 bottle sparkling wine (I used Mumm Napa Brut)
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley

Saute pancetta, leeks, shallots, and mushrooms in 2 T olive oil until softened, about 10 minutes. Add chicken pieces, orange zest and juice, and wine to pan and bring to a boil. Partially cover, turn heat to low, and simmer for 1 hour.

For best results, cool, and refrigerate overnight. Reheat gently over low heat, sprinkle with parsley before serving with rice or noodles or nice crusty bread.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Cinnamon-Sesame Ice Cream

Every year we get a big box of goodies delivered to the door from Spain, and this year was no different. The Christmas season is a traditional time for baking of special sweets and candies, and my mother-in-law does her shopping for us, packs it all up in a big box, and ships it off to us, and a week or two later we enjoy marzipans, turron, polverones, and my favorite, mantecados.

Mantecados are crumbly cookies flavored with cinnamon and sesame, and they contain 7 million calories per cookie. Since I usually have a significant calorie deficit racked up toward the end of December, I can take in as many mantecado-calories as I want with impunity. Right, in my dreams. Anyway, we went through the mantecados pretty fast, and by New Year's Eve they were all gone. What to do except make up an ice cream recipe that would taste like mantecados with my fancy new ice cream maker?

If you've cooked with sesame oil, you know that it is very fragrant and a little dash goes a long way. So this is a cinnamon-flavored ice cream recipe with just a dash of sesame oil. It may sound strange to you, but the hint of sesame off-sets the cinnamon and sugar beautifully. It's one of my favorite combinations. This would be a wonderful dessert after a paella, or a meal of moroccan flavors.

Cinnamon-Sesame Ice Cream

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1-1/2 cups whole milk

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until smooth. Pour immediately into ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer instructions, usually 20-30 minutes. Pack ice cream into a freezable container if you are not going to serve it right away, and store in the freezer. Obviously.