Thursday, July 1, 2010

Savor The Sweet Life

Summer is in full swing, and life is going swimmingly. The girls are splashing around at the pool, I am soaking up time in the kitchen, and Samuel officially dived into his first birthday cake. There is, however, a bittersweet note on the air... Isabella is growing up, and, unfortunately, there is no way around this. I sense it already, the end of pretend. Correcting her sister about the reality of things, "Josephine, there are no such things as monsters", and replacing our much loved babyspeak with proper verbage when applicable ("GOGGLES not GOBBLES!" she insists). Not to mention the slightly "well, duh, mom" attitude that is starting to creep in at unexpected moments. I know it is still a while off, but I fear the end of playing house and captain hook almost as much as I dread the loss of her first tooth, which I expect by next summer, will have taken place. With Samuel turning 1, and about to begin walking, I suppose I am feeling the loss of babyhood more acutely. While some mothers can not wait to get their children in full time school, I balk at the thought of not having a baby on my hip any longer (the thought of saying goodbye to diapers and burp cloths and car seats is enough to bring tears to my eyes). It all goes by so quickly, a few precious years and then it's over. Not to say that my kids will be moving out and getting their own place anytime soon, but the magical time where your children look up to you and WANT you to play, to cuddle, to read stories, and make believe with them only lasts so long. When mothers complain about the demands of toddlerhood, it can be cause for my to bite my tongue... While I try to sympathize, because I know it is challenging (I haven't slept in 5 years), I want to cry out "but this is the EASY time!". Trust me, in 10 years once cartwheels turn to car wheels and I am I am worrying about freeway driving and first loves (among other other firsts I will try not to think about) and applications to Harvard, then I will be feeling the anxiety. For now, though I am more busy than ever, trying to hone my culinary skills, compile a cookbook, and write for this blog, I wish to spend every spare moment delighting in their little phases, admiring their little spirits, and sharing experiences together as a family. That is why this summer, I am determined to make memories, along with all of my confections. This is the summer of yes- let's do it, the summer of smiles (with all baby teeth), and most important, a summer of love.

In an effort to let kids be kids, here are some recipes from this week that they are sure to serve up smiles...

Sloppy Sam Sliders (re-named in honor of my son Samuel)

3 TBS vegetable or canola oil
1 med/large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 lb organic ground beef
14 oz bottle of ketchup
3 TBS Worcestershire sauce
2 TBS vinegar
2 TBS brown sugar
1/2 tsp yellow mustard
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp paprika
1 cup of water

slider buns, hamburger buns, or dinner rolls for serving
sliced pickles for serving

heat oil in a large skillet over medhigh heat and add onion and bell pepper, stirring until soft (about 4 minutes)
add beef to the skillet, break into small chunks, and cook until browned
add remaining ingredients and simmer over medlow heat for 30 minutes

pile on toasted buns and serve with pickles and perhaps some sliced onion

Homemade Granola Bars

2 cups old fashioned oatmeal
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup wheat germ
3 TBS unsalted butter
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups assorted dried fruits, chopped (raisins, apricots, dates, cranberries, etc)

preheat oven 350, butter and line an 8x12 baking dish and line it with parchment paper (yes, you really need the parchment, otherwise you run the risk of not getting them out of them pan!)
toss the oats, almonds, and coconut together on a lined sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes, stirring halfway through
transfer to a large bowl and stir in wheat germ

place butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over med heat
cook and stir for 1 minute, then pour onto oat mixture
add dried fruits and thoroughly mix

pour mixture into prepared pan, and with wet fingers, lightly press the mixture down evenly
bake for 25 minutes, cool for several hours in the pan before cutting into bars

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