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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!

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

Beautiful Board Books by Matthew Porter

10 Aug

For the past two weeks, I’ve been raving about these books to my friends, so I figured I should just do a write-up and spread the love.  For the record, I do not actually know Mr. Porter, this review was not solicited, and I am not receiving anything for doing this.  I just happen to really like his work.

Matthew Porter is a Seattle area artist/author that I met at the Bellevue Arts Festival (or one of them anyways, there were three going on at the time).  He was manning a stand with paintings, prints, and books for sale.  I took a look at the books, and kind of fell in love.  All of his books are simple, beautiful, and informative.  I’ve learned things from these books, which is something considering the target group.  So, with no further ado, here we go:

First off, we have “ABC” –

Description:  This book starts with a basic “A is for Alligator, B is for Beaver, C is for Cat” pattern, but the true test of these books is U, Q, and X.  Mr. Porter meets these challenging letters with Uakari, Quokka, and Xenops (animals I did not know existed before this book).  Nuthatches, swallows, iguanas, and geckos are also featured, giving us a chance to emphasize that “lizard” and “bird” are broad categories that many different animals fit into. It’s nice to have a book stay consistently specific like that.

Toddler Test: Caterpillar loves to sit and sing the ABC’s with this book, turning the pages as she goes through her letters.  I expect she’ll pay more attention to the names of the animals later, but she spends a lot of time just singing with the book and looking at the pictures, and that is fine for now.

Next up is “Calling All Animals” –

Description:  I already knew that lions came in prides and sheep came in flocks, but I was completely unaware that caterpillars came in armies and flamingos came in flamboyances.  This books pattern is to show a single animal – for example “A Bear” – and then, after the page is turned, a whole bunch of that animal along with the group’s name – “A Sleuth of Bears.”

Toddler Test:  Caterpillar likes to look at the animals, and then turn the pages and see “ALL the ANIMALS” (as she calls it).  I’ll keep reading it with her (especially since she asks), but this is another that I suspect will be more interesting to her as she gets older.

Third is “Count the Birdies” –

Description:  The pictures are beautiful.  I almost want to buy prints to hang up in my house.  The pages go through the numbers 1-10 in order, and, for each one, it shows the numeral, the word for the number, and a picture with that number of birds to count.  The birds are flying around or landed on flowering branches of trees (cherry and magnolia, and one other – but real trees!).  It’s a basic counting book with pretty pictures.

Toddler Test:  “O-N-E spells one!  T-H-R-E-E spells three!  One, two, three birdies!”  No, she’s not properly reading yet, but she can identify the letters in each word and guess what the word is by context (and the numeral next to it).  It’s engaging to her, but challenging as well, and she likes that.  It’s probably her favorite.

Last up, “Flowers” –

Description:  This is a colors book that simply has pages with the words for various colors printed on backgrounds of the matching color, with pictures of flowers in that color on the other pages  of the spreads (was that confusing enough?).  For example, when you open the book, the left page contains the word “Red” printed on a red background, while a picture of a red flower is facing it on the right.  Thing is, these are real flowers, not just ones the artist made up.  The red one is a dahlia, the blue one is a hyacinth, the purple one is a coneflower.  The flowers are identified in a chart on the back of the book, so they don’t take away from the “colors” focus, but are there for extra learning.  My one complaint is the back of the book didn’t have enough room to identify all of the flowers, so two got the shaft.  For the record, the white one is a basic lily (probably easy enough to figure out), and the black one is a lotus.

Toddler Test:  “R-E-D spells red!  What’s the red flower called?”  Caterpillar has been extremely interested in knowing the names of all the trees, flowers, and leafy plants around us, so this has been a fun book for her.  It’s kind of a “Baby’s First Botanical.”  It has information she already knows (the color), and then expands that by offering the written word identifying and a named flower illustrating that color.

If you want to look into more of Matthew Porters works, they can be found here.

Baby Foodies

10 Aug

My girls love food, and who can blame them?  It’s pretty awesome.  Though the fact that they are my daughters might have something to do with it. . .


Ninja Baby is definitely not satisfied with just nursing anymore, and she gets really mad at us if we forget to give her food at dinner  that looks like what the rest of us are eating, so I’ve been having fun making more pretty baby meals.  She doesn’t seem to have favorites right now; she will eat whatever she can get her hands on.  Though the minted watermelon that grandma made was met with great enthusiasm. . .


Caterpillar and I made some oatmeal-cherry-almond-chocolate-chip cookies this morning.  She, of course, spent her time picking out the chocolate chips to eat and the dried cherries to discard.  Ninja Baby cleaned up the discarded cherries.  During this, Caterpillar said: “Chochate is a prefet huud.” (Translation: “Chocolate is a perfect food.”)


A while ago, Caterpillar had the opportunity to make dinner with her Uncle J.  When asked what they did, she told us, “We cooked oou-dols.  He called it ‘pasta,'” and then laughed because her uncle did not know the right thing to call noodles.


A week or so ago, I made a summer vegetable ragout (out of this cookbook – it’s the picture on the cover, actually).  Caterpillar has been working on figuring out scissors and is very good at making single snips at things, so I washed up a pair for her to use in the kitchen.  She used them to snip fresh green beans into little bits to use.  I let her snitch some of the corn after I cut it from the cob, and she fell in love.  We had it with some Dover sole that I had fried up and made a sauce for; she ate it up, and we had more of the ragout with some summer sausage for lunch the next day.


Two nights ago, I made roasted vegetables for dinner: parsnips, carrots, beets, and potatoes.  Chop them up, toss them in olive oil, add some salt and herbs, spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake 425 for about 20-25 minutes.  Ninja baby loved the parsnips (which is what we had a lot of, so we kinda just kept letting her eat them).  Caterpillar was reluctant to eat at all until she heard “potatoes.”

When she saw the beet-stained parts of the potatoes, she said, “These tay-toes are dirty.  I don’t like jelly on these potatoes.”  We finally found a “clean” one, and then the rest of them were magically okay.

“More tay-toes!”

“After you try some of the other vegetables.”


“Yes, you can eat the beets.”  After very gingerly putting the first beet slice in her mouth, the rest disappeared very quickly.  We gave her some potatoes, which she ate quickly.

“More tay-toes!  Pwease?”

“After you try some of your other foods.”

And so it went.  She ended up eating her whole plate worth of vegetables, plus more of just about everything, and the pink, beet-stained pieces which had been “dirty” at the beginning of the meal became the preferred bits by the end of the meal.


Last night, we kind of just snacked.  We had gone for a walk in the late afternoon, during which we picked and ate blackberries, thimble berries, and salal berries.  As the evening progressed at home, we snacked on watermelon and summer sausage.


We’ll see what we end up doing tonight.  I may do that ragout thing again. . .


27 Jul

A while ago, Caterpillar’s aunt asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. My daughter’s response: “I be a mommy and nurse with my babies.”  We talk about this a lot when the topic of growing up comes up; it’s obviously important to her.

A week and a half ago, we had a weaning party.  We played up the party before hand, made a chocolate cake and had “big girl” presents.  For the last week, we’ve had a repeated conversation that looks kind of like:

“What happened yestermorning?”

“We had a weaning party for you.”

“What’s that mean?”

“That means you’re a big girl. . .”

“. . .and I can’t nurse anymore”

There are some variations, but that’s the gist of it.  That conversation has been gradually replaced by “Mom, I want to be small.  I need you.”  This breaks my heart.  I hate telling my two-year-old that she’s a “big girl,” because she isn’t (and she knows it).

Tonight, at bed time:

“Mom, I a little bit big.”

“Yes, you are a little bit bigger.  You aren’t a baby anymore.”

“I grow bigger.”

“Yes, you did.  And you will keep growing a little bit bigger every day until you are grown up, an adult.”


“Yes, an adult, like Mommy and Daddy.”

“And I can get money!”

Yes, yes you can.