Friday, December 05, 2014


When they were little, we watched them dance around the living room, daily, nightly, all the time. We sat through never-ending plays made up by them, with homemade costumes and sets that fell over. We endured endless evenings of new-violin-player 'music' and Suzuki practice CD's on repeat. And now, they are quite grown up.  The 'bigs' are, anyway.  Forest is still scheming about how he can get me to be Rudolph to his Santa Claus, and even convinced me without much work to buy a pair of felt reindeer antlers and a blinking red nose tonight.  I'm trying to convince him that it looks much better on him, and hoping he goes for some mash-up of Santa and Rudolph so that I don't get stuck pulling a sleigh like the dog in the Grinch.  But, those 'bigs' are gone until the late evening every night right now.  Rehearsing.  This weekend, it's a play.  Gus is on the big stage with his much-practiced role of pirate. He was a pirate for about four years running, starting at age six.  He dug out his crumpled homemade felt hat tonight to take to one of the final rehearsals before the big nights, Saturday and Sunday.  He comes home happy and tired from these practices, looking forward to the next one.  I can't help but think of one of his early acting experiences, in which the 'stage' was the area beneath his newly built loft bed, and he and his sisters did a rousing rendition of 'The Elves and the Shoemaker'. Gus was a very grumpy shoemaker. 

Eleanor is dancing so much we hardly see her.  As a part of the 'company' at her studio, her practices go long most nights, and besides dancing at school, she has six days of dancing at her studio.  I remember taking her to her first ballet class, in her pink leotard and tutu.  She was thrilled.  She still is.  I watch with amazement as her formerly chubby little limbs have grown and stretched to miles long arms and legs and as she does contortionist things with them.  As a young dancer, I had dreams of doing the things she is doing now, and it is such a treat to watch her do them.

Lucy is getting ready for her debut in 'the pit'.  She cut her finger on a knife the other day, which is making playing the violin a bit rough, but she's excited to be playing the music of The Nutcracker, and finding her way through this first set of long rehearsals, in what will likely be a long line.  I watch her confidence grow as she becomes more comfortable with this new group.

All in all there will be eleven performances in a week and half's time.  The Dude is a bit grumbly about the busyness of it all, and the driving for all of these sometimes gets to this Taximama.  But I have been reminding myself and him that these performances are something they have been working up to for years, a decade now.  All of the encouragement, tears, lessons, dollars and determination that have gone into getting these kiddos to the stages they will be on would have been worth it if they only continued to enjoy playing, acting or dancing.  I hope that they will also enjoy the doing of their things for others. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Schoooool's out for Summer! (Sorta)

The local public schools ended their year on Thursday, and since I have one child enrolled in middle school, it was her last day of school.  As such, I thought the occasion needed to be marked with something and that something wanted to be a baked item.  It was rather a soggy day, here, for the first day of summer.  I was going to make brownies, but our internet connection was down (OMGoogle! How did we survive?)  So, I couldn't get my new fave brownie recipe.  So I picked up one of my old friends, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest and turned right to this (I always get my cookbooks dirty.) :
Oh yes.  A new tradition, perhaps?  Maybe I was feeling like this kind of treat because the weather was rather soggy and chilly and we had a pint of cream in the fridge.  An hour later we were sinking our teeth into some awesome gingerbread!
This gal was a bit on the sad side, as she said goodbye to friends and teachers after her great 7th grade year.  She not be returning to the local middle school, but instead, going on to ACMA in the fall.  Everyone else also enjoyed the gingerbread, and it was used as bait to get 3 squirrelly boys into the car and on their way home.  Yes!  Food Bribery!  What parents live for!

With a definite nod to Ms. Katzen, I share with you my reworked recipe:

 (Gluten Free) Triple Gingerbread Squared
(Because this girl is a math wiz.)
a little butter or oil for the pan
6 Tbs. butter or coconut oil
3 Tbs. grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup light molasses
3/4 cup yogurt
1 egg
1 1/2 c gluten free flour (1 c brown rice 1/2 c each tapioca starch and potato starch, 1/2 tsp xant. gum)
1/2 cup almond flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 cup uncrystallized candied ginger (We get it at Trader Joes) chopped into bits

1) Preheat oven to 375.  Grease an 8-inch square pan with butter or oil.
2) Place the butter or oil in a small pan, add the ginger and saute for 3 minutes over medium heat.
3) Combine syrup and molasses in a large bowl, add the ginger mixture and beat until smooth.  Stir in the yogurt and egg.
4) In a smaller bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
5) Add the dry to the wet and mix until fully combined.
6) Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

MomoSarah's Stellar GF Pie Crust

I'm a pie lover.  I'd take pie over cake pretty much any day, if that pie was homemade.  My Mother makes excellent pie crust, and because of that, I'm a pie crust snob.  Like her, I can tell right off if pie crust is homemade, and also, if it is made with Crisco.  Real pie crust is made with real fat, friends, and for my Mom, that means lard.  For me, that means butter, or if I'm making pie for a dairy-free friend, coconut oil.  Yes, I have made pie crust with a liquid oil, such as grapeseed or olive, but these 'pat in the pan' crusts are never as nice as the kind you roll out (something about the melting point of the solid fats makes their crusts more flaky and delicious.) One day, while still in high-school, my sister and I wanted to make a pie.  I insisted that we needed to learn now to make good pie-crust, otherwise how would we make good wives?  (This was obviously, pre-Santa Cruz).  My sister insisted that the kind you buy and unfold and roll out work just fine.  I ended up making a pie crust using the Joy of Cooking, and have been making pie crust ever since.  I'm pretty sure this was also instrumental in my 'catching' of a husband, as the first meal I ever cooked for him (and two equally deprived men who hadn't had enough homemade pie) was Thanksgiving dinner, including two kinds of pie.
Fast-forward 20 years, and here we are, needing a Gluten-Free Pie Crust.  What?  Impossible you say?  Well, I am certain I heard my skeptic of a brother say, "You really got this gluten-free thing nailed," after he ate a slice of the pie I made for Easter.  Pie-crust is one of the first baked things I learned to make gluten-free.  I got the recipe from a friend and have adapted it to make it even more yummy:

Stellar Gluten Free Pie Crust
Makes a double-crusted pie, or 2 9-inch crusts, or an 11-inch tart crust
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup almond flour (if you don't have this, use 3/4 cup each of the starches)
1 rounded tsp xantham gum
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt 
3/4 cup butter (or lard or coconut oil)
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp vinegar or buttermilk
2-3 Tbsp cold milk or ice water

Mix the dry ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.  Cut in the butter (or other fat) using a pastry cutter, fork or your fingers, until the mixture is thoroughly mixed.  Combine the beaten egg and the vinegar or buttermilk in a smaller bowl.  Add wet mixture to dry, and mix gently with a fork.  Add the milk or water 1 Tbsp at a time, until the pasty holds together enough to form a ball.  I actually have used a bit more than 2-3 Tbsp, just until it was a cohesive ball.  

Depending on the size of pan you're using, decide whether you need 1 or 2 balls.  Roll 1 ball at a time between two pieces of parchment paper.  (Yes, I have done it without this, between two plastic bags.  You could also use plastic wrap, dusted with rice flour.  You could also use wax paper.)  Roll the crust evenly between the paper, until it is your desired thickness and size.  The crust is quite fragile, but, relax, it will all work out.  Peel off the top layer of parchment paper.  Invert your pie plate on the top of the crust, then flip the entire thing (plate and crust with parchment) and press the crust into the plate.  Now remove the parchment and flute the edges as you like.  

Fill this with your favorite filling and then do the same flip-trick with the other piecrust over the top of the pie.  Bake according to the directions you have for your desired filling.  I use an edge protector, as the edge of this crust will get dark.

For a crust to be used later, bake in a apreheated 450 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.

Call up your friends and invite them over for pie.  But, watch out, you may get more than one marriage proposal.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Snowed in.

People often ask us, after driving up our lumpy bumpy hill, "What do you do when it snows?" Until this weekend, we didn't know.  Now we do.  We stay put and have a whole lot of fun. As the snow day turned into snow days, I started to remember what it was like when we were all home, all the time.  It's a bit of lovely and a lot of circus. It is also, a lot of SOUND! In and around the many cups of hot cocoa, the piles of soggy wet outside clothes (Just toss 'em in the dryer!), the wonderings of "How will we survive?"--Mostly made by my beloved, who isn't sure 'what all that stuff is' in the pantry.  Luckily, I know how to make that stuff (aka ingredients) into food--we have fallen into somewhat of a rhythm... that includes a lot of what we haven't had for a long time:  Down Time.  I had almost forgotten what staying at home feels like.  I haven't done it much since Forest was tiny, and even then, that was short lived.  No ballet, no robotics, no piano recital, no horseriding lessons, no grocery store runs, no classes, no school pick-up or drop off.  Am I bored yet?  Are you kidding?  If we had a never ending supply of TP and fresh veg, I'd be just fine.  But alas, I do not have rows and rows of canned veggies, or a deep freeze stocked with the fruits of the summer (okay, there are still some blueberries in there).  There was time to finish sewing projects, time to make homemade valentines, time to make cookies and bread, pear custard tart and pumpkin pasties.  There was time to learn how to dot-to-dot, time to play with Christmas gifts that got put away in the excitement of all of it.  I cleaned out a desk drawer!  The big kids cleaned their rooms!  I did yoga, and made a snow angel, and we all sledded on our awesome toboggan, which rarely leaves the garage. We made molasses candy on snow, a snow man, and new friends of the new neighbors next door.  There was time to build a castle in the living room, to play more than one board game every day, to get bored and then get out of it.  There was time to build a little of something we have been missing much:  cozy homey family memories.
So, while I'm looking forward to some fresh vegetables, I believe we have benefited from this snow-day mentality, and I hope we can keep it around for longer than the snow stays!

Friday, June 07, 2013


Today, instead of doing a bunch of errands, Forest and I went for a walk.  We parked in a neighborhood.  He rode his scooter and I walked.  It was a shady walk through the greenspace between two suburban developments.  Much of it was boardwalk.  Because I'm taking doxycyclene for a tick bite I received, I wanted to stay out of the sun, and this was perfect.  At one point, we were standing in the sun and I said, "We can't lollygag in the sun, because I will get a sunburn!"  Forest, a lover of words said, "Oooh, what's lollygagging?"  I told him I would show him once we got back to the shady part.  So when we did, he said, "Now you can lollygag, Mama!  Lollygag!  Lollygag!  Do it!  I want to see it!"  What a funny kid.  I had to think about what active lollygagging really looked like.  I slowed down, looked up at the trees, smiled, danced around a bit, and waved my arms.  He giggled.  So, today, my wellness included lollygagging.  It also included listening to the middle school band with Eleanor and doing my workout when I couldn't sleep.  Now I'm sleepy.  I'm going to go lollygag in bed.