Recipe Rhyme: Rice Cooker Oatmeal

21 Nov

The girls have been wanting to help cook a lot more things lately, but they are still small enough I don’t want them using the stove, so I’ve been getting creative.  We use the crock pot a lot, but I’ve also been experimenting with my rice cooker.  In the past month, I’ve made casseroles, pasta, soup, and oatmeal using it.

My oldest wants to be able to do this on her own, so she asked me to make her some more recipe rhymes. 


Rice Cooker Oatmeal

Put two cups of oatmeal into the pot,

Then four cups of water (it seems like a lot).

Salt, sugar, cinnamon – as much as is tasty,

And stir it with care, don’t be too hasty.

Lid on, button pressed, go and play.

Breakfast will soon be on its way!


This makes enough oatmeal for two adults and three (small) children. If your family needs more or less, you can adjust the numbers as long as you keep the ratio of liquid to oatmeal the same.  The water could be replaced by milk, either in part or entirely, and we use brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup as sweeteners.  Put everything into the rice cooker, then let it cook.  When it dings, it’s done.


Talking Baby

14 Sep

Just documenting something I think I’ll want to remember later:

The Ninja Baby has quite a good vocabulary for a not-yet-two-year-old, but she has a few quirky things that she does with some words.  As far as we can tell, she is completely oblivious to the fact that she does this, so we sometimes have to sit and puzzle for a bit to figure out the real word she is trying to say.  I’ll give some examples here; see if you can figure out what she is saying.  Once you figure out the rules, it’s not hard, and then her statements make a lot more sense.  These are just some of these words that we’ve run across:

  • Piws
  • Ducks
  • Topsed
  • Ticksy
  • Tiws
  • Tories
  • Kirts
  • Weepsing
  • Weepsy
  • Poons
  • Wipsing
  • Widesing
  • Moothsie

Another fun thing is her use of the -ing suffix to turn any word into a verb.  Examples:

  • upping
  • downing
  • baconing
  • kitchening
  • shirting


Combustion and Digestion

9 Sep

The Caterpillar has always been observant, and likes to make connections.  Sometimes she takes analogies we give her and runs with them.  The following is her very organic view of how combustion works:

We have a “First Encyclopedia” book that has several pages on the human body, one of which covers the digestive system.  This lead to a discussion on why we eat food, and the simple answer is, “So we can get energy.”  Then we talked about how the food comes out as poop after our bodies have gotten the energy out of it.  Basic understanding of digestion, check!

Some time later, I was filling up our car with gas.  The Caterpillar asked, “Why does a car need gas?”  The simple answer is, of course, “So it can get energy.”  Caterpillar seemed satisfied with this answer, and apparently made the connection that “Gas is like a car’s food.”  A few weeks later, again at a gas station, she came up with the question, “What is a car’s poop?”  This lead to a discussion about exhaust.  “So, gas is a car’s food and it’s poop is smoke and air, right?”  Right, in a way.

Then “The Magic School Bus” became available on Netflix.  Caterpillar is in love with the show, and at this point has seen both the episode about the human digestive system and the episode about cars and combustion.  This morning at breakfast, she came out with, “Mommy, I think a car’s cylinders are its small intestines.”  Why?  “Because that is where the gas (the car’s “food”) gets made into air and smoke (its “poop”). 

Since she already had some fairly good comparisons going, I asked some probing questions and she decided the gas tank is the car’s “stomach” and the pipe where you put the gas in is its “esophagus.”

She’s now asking where the water goes into a car and where does its pee come out.  I’m not sure how far we can make this analogy go.

Recipe Rhymes: Spaghetti

14 Feb

I haven’t actually had a chance to use this one with Caterpillar, but I intend to. Recipes for pasta dishes are quite flexible in this house to the point that I never make the same dish exactly the same way twice, and this recipe kind of reflects that attitude.


Fill a pot up with water and set it to boil.

Put a pan on the stove, coat the bottom with oil.

Saute an onion, chopped with finesse

and two cloves of garlic, crushed in a press.

Brown up some ground beef if you’re in the mood

(or skip it for good vegetarian food).

Get out tomato sauce, open the can,

Then pour out the whole of it into the pan.

Next add the herbs – basil, rosemary,

oregano, thyme – your flavors may vary.

Salt it a bit, let it simmer, and then

go back to the the boiling water again.

Get the dry noodles, cook them in the pot.

Be careful; remember: the water is hot!

Strain out the water; dinner’s almost complete.

Mix it all up together, and it’s time to eat!

A Dish In Need Of A Name

4 Feb

This one has been a family favorite.  Ninja Baby especially likes it, onions and peppers and all.  Caterpillar loves drinking the pot liquor from it, what she calls “soup.”  We have yet to come up with a name for the dish, but I wanted to share it.

  • 1 lb bacon
  • 1 apple
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 heads of baby bok choi
  1. Cut the bacon strips into bits, then cook in a deep skillet over medium heat.  Keep the skillet covered, except when you are stirring; you aren’t going for crunchy bacon here, and you want to keep as many juices as possible.
  2. While the bacon cooks, chop up the rest of the ingredients.  Add them to the pan with the bacon after the bacon is cooked, and stir well into the bacon-y mess.
  3. Cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender.
  4. Dish up into bowls, and enjoy!

Baking With Babies Recipe Rhymes Series: Apple Orange Celery Salad

2 Feb

This salad was a common dish on the table when I was growing up, especially with roast beef on Sundays, and it’s one of my favorites.  The flavors blend well enough and the fruits make enough juice that no dressing is necessary.  It’s also ridiculously simple, so this rhyme is quite short, but fun to sing.  That, of course, makes it that much more fun to eat.

The tune for this one is from a Korean children’s song called 동, 동, 동대문 (Dong, Dong, Dongdaemun).  If you want to hear it, this link has an embedded video of kids performing it.

Apple Orange Celery Salad:

An apple, orange, and stick of celery
An apple, orange, and stick of celery
Chop them up and mix them in a bowl –
A salad, so yummy!

Baking With Babies Recipe Rhymes: French Toast

1 Feb

Did this one yesterday with Caterpillar.  “A measured cup” is simply one cup.  There is a “normal” and a vegan version of the rhyme.  If you do the vegan version, use a very ripe banana (no green, all yellow, with a few brown spots), and make sure to mash it well.  Use cow milk if that’s what you do or (if you are like me) whatever non-dairy milk you prefer (almond, coconut, rice, hemp, flax, whatever).   Cinnamon and vanilla are to taste, and cook on a medium-low heat, greased skillet until the slices are brown and flip easily.  This should do about eight slices of (possibly gluten-free) bread.

I can’t eat milk or eggs, so I use the vegan version and eat something high-protein  – bacon or sausage on the side, or peanut butter on top.  Ooh, I should try this with cashew cream!

To the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”:

“Normal” version-

Crack an egg and beat it up,

Add milk from a measured cup,

Cinnamon, vanilla too

Mix it all until you’re through.

Dip some bread in, then you can

Fry the slices in a pan.


Vegan version –

One banana all mashed up,

Milk poured from a measured cup,

Cinnamon, vanilla too

Mix it all until you’re through.

Dip some bread in, then you can

Fry the slices in a pan.



Caterpillar’s Birthday Party Pictures!

31 Jan

Caterpillar turned three two weeks ago, and I’m just now getting the pictures up.  Sorry, Mom!

It was my first time throwing a party for one of my offspring, and I do believe it went well.  Caterpillar had said she wanted a “dinosaur” birthday party, so I took that theme and ran with it (but not too far – I still wanted it low-key enough to be fun for toddlers and babies).

So, this is what we did:063 066 069 071 072 074 078 075 081 089 091 092 105 111 126 131 140 168 179 181 185 276 277 269

Baking With Babies Recipe Rhymes Series: Basic Bread

31 Jan

I made up this recipe rhyme a while ago, and just recently dug it up again.  Caterpillar and I had a grand time baking today, and it was really nice to be able to recite this and reference where we were in the process.  She was a lot more patient through the whole thing knowing which step we were at and what would come next.  I’m kind of inspired to come up with more of them, so stay tuned if you like things like this.

(You are welcome to print this off and use it with your kids, but if you like this enough to share it with others, please give credit and link back to here,  thanks!)


How To Bake Bread:

One cup of water, warm to the touch.

Two cups of flour, but not too much!

A big pinch of yeast to help it rise,

Another of salt, just the same size.

A spoonful of oil, and then use your brawn

To stir it together ‘til the lumps are all gone!

Cover it up and let it start to rise,

Then leave it alone ‘til it’s doubled in size.

Shape your loaf however you make it.

Let it double again, and then you can bake it!

When the crust is light brown, carefully take out your treat,

Let it cool for a bit, then it’s ready to eat!

If you do use this with your kid(s), make sure to have something for them to do while the bread is raising.  A half hour show is about the right length of time, or read books or play games together, but have something to keep impatience from becoming too much of a problem.

Also, this is basically a scaled down version of The All-Purpose Bread Recipe found here, and the details of what you can do with the dough can be found at that link.  It could turn into anything from a loaf of bread to cinnamon rolls, pizza, or even pitas if you wanted.  If you want to make an even smaller batch, you could give your kids half-cup measuring cups to use (I do this if Caterpillar is making her batch of bread alongside my bigger batch for the family).  Try to let your kids do as much of the work as they can get away with, but grown-ups will obviously have to do any oven work.

Don’t worry about being too precise with the measurements – let the pinches and the spoonfuls be just that.  The ingredients all have a fairly decent margin of error, and most kids aren’t worried about getting a “perfect” loaf – they just want to have fun and end up with something they can eat at the end.

Brazil Nut Anytime Cookies (gluten free, egg free, dairy free, paleo, vegan)

26 Jan

So, I can’t eat anything almond right now.  I apparently overdid the almond flour and almond milk over the holidays, and now my body is sensitized to them (stupid leaky gut. . .).  Almond milk was my favorite, but I’ve been playing with hemp, rice, hazelnut, sunflower, cashew, coconut and any other different kinds of non-dairy milks, so that’s not too bad.  I did miss the recipe for “Anytime Cookies” from the Eat Like A Dinosaur cookbook by Paleo Parents (I highly recommend that book to any parents who want to cook healthy foods with their kids or for anyone dealing with gluten sensitivities, regardless of age).   Unfortunately for me, a lot of their recipes for “sweets” use almond flour.  At a friend’s suggestion, I adapted the recipe for use with Brazil nuts instead of almonds.

Please note that I am not vegan (I can’t have milk or eggs, but I eat meat), or paleo (I eat plenty of different grains), nor do I have issues with gluten myself (I’ve got friends who do), but I like that this is a fairly simple and extremely healthy, guilt-free cookie.  The dough is excellent to snitch on before baking (my daughter asked me to dish up a bowl for her to eat with a spoon, which I had no qualms about).  The cookies are quite tasty when cooled, but they don’t taste very sweet when they are warm from the oven, so wait before you pass judgement.

So, without any further ado, here is the recipe for:

Brazil Nut Anytime Cookies (gluten free, egg free, dairy free, paleo, vegan)

  • 3 packed cups ground Brazil nuts (around 20 ounces, I’d guess?  I forgot to weigh them, but it took all of one 1 lb bag and part of another)
  • 1 apple
  • 1 ripe banana (all yellow with a few brown spots is ideal)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2-1 cup raisins, chocolate chips, coconut flakes, whatever (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Grind and measure your nuts, put the measured ground nuts in a bowl.  To grind the nuts, put them in your blender and whiz them around for a while.  You may need to scrape the edges a few times to keep things down by the blades.  The finished texture should be somewhere between the mealiness of almond flour and the creaminess of peanut butter, with some chunks of nuts floating around (don’t worry about them; they add texture to the cookies).
  3. Core and slice the apple, peel and slice the banana, and put both into your blender, and add the vanilla.  Blend until smooth.  If the apple and banana don’t give enough mass for your blender to work with, add some of the ground Brazil nuts to help it work (but not all of it; you want some of the Brazil nut stuff to stay floury and chunky).
  4. Add the salt and baking soda to the ground nuts and mix well, breaking any clumps of baking soda (mine clumps, anyways).
  5. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together, then stir in your optional add-ins, if desired (dark chocolate chips are our favorites).
  6. Measure out spoonfuls on to a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, and gently press them down, either with a spoon or a fork.  They don’t melt flat like traditional chocolate chip cookies, so you need to give them a little help to be the right shape.
  7. Bake for about 10 minutes (plus or minus about two minutes depending on your oven, altitude, etc.).
  8. Take out when they start to turn brown on the edges, and let them cool on the baking sheet before removing to a plate.
  9. Enjoy!