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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 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!

Coconut Banana Cream Cake Recipe (Dairy-free, Egg-free, Vegan)

12 Jan

Sushi’s birthday was yesterday, so cake had to be made.  He loves banana cream pie, so, some time ago on another birthday, I had invented a “Banana Cream Cake.”  It was a hit, and was my go-to recipe for Sushi’s birthday.  This year, however, I couldn’t use eggs or dairy to make it (stupid food sensitivities. . . ).  So, after reading around and combining some recipes, this happened:


Preheat oven to 350 and grease a square cake pan.

Place the following ingredients into blender in the order listed:
1 cup rice milk
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Blend until just mixed, then add:
1 tablespoon vinegar
Blend again until just mixed, and quickly pour into the pan and bake about 30 minutes, or until the cake springs back when touched in the center, or until a toothpick comes clean when poked in the center. 
Mix together in a pan:
1 can full-fat coconut milk
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cook over medium heat, stirring almost constantly with a whisk.  Take it off when it thickens and is a good pudding consistency.
Carefully poke holes in the cake with the handle of a wooden spoon, then pour the hot pudding over the cake, making sure that it fills up the holes.  Cover with plastic wrap touching the top of the pudding to prevent a skin forming.  Put the cake in the fridge to cool, and put an unopened can of coconut milk in to cool, too.  When the cake is cold and pudding is set (give it a few hours), make some whipped coconut cream:
Whipped Coconut Cream:
Open chilled can of coconut milk.
Skim off the solid, fatty cream part and put into a bowl.  Add a little bit of the watery liquid, but just a little. 
Add a spoonful of sugar. 
Whip with electric beaters until fluffy and smooth.
Cover the pudding-soaked cake with banana slices (it will take about 3-4 bananas) and then spread the whipped coconut cream over everything (it might seem like you are spreading it thin, with the bananas poking through the cream, but it is just fine).  Sprinkle with unsweetened shredded coconut, if desired.  Enjoy!  
This cake keeps very well in the fridge overnight (whipped coconut cream is much more stable than dairy whipped cream), so make it ahead of time and save yourself some stress.

Sweet, Sweet Avocados

4 Dec

I like avocados.  They have saved so many desserts for me now that I can’t have milk anymore.  Oh, and the things I’ve been making them into are SOO much easier to make than their dairy-and-egg-laden counterparts.  Take this for example: vegan eggnog.  I use honey instead of the agave, and skip the rum, but I love, love this recipe.  It tastes better than most store bought eggnogs, and it is so easy to just throw everything in a blender and, TA-DA!  Veggnog! 

Having seen how successful avocados could be in sweet treats, I wanted to experiment with them some more.  Thanksgiving presented an opportunity to invent a chocolate pie, and avocados were a key ingredient.  Here is what I came up with:

Chocolate Pudding/Pie Filling

  • 1 bag chocolate chips
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 avocados
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • a dash of salt

Put half the can of coconut milk and the whole bag of chocolate chips into a blender and blend until they melt together (this may take a minute or so for friction to warm everything up enough).  Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.  Pour into serving dishes or a prepared pie crust and chill.  Enjoy!


Just a couple of nights ago, I happened to have shelled, roasted pistachios in my kitchen, and an avocado, and I wanted to see what would happen.  What happened was this:

Tasty Pistachio Pudding (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

  • 1 very large avocado (or two small ones), chilled
  • 1 can coconut milk, chilled
  • 1/4 cup honey (more or less to taste)
  • 4 oz. shelled, roasted pistachios
  • (optional spices – nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, to taste)

Put the coconut milk, honey, avocados, and spices together in a blender and blend for about 20-30 seconds, until everything is mixed and creamy.  Add the pistachios and blend briefly to chop them up a little bit (5 seconds max; you want to leave chunks). 

Enjoy immediately, or chill for later!   Makes a great frozen dessert, too, but you have to let it soften a bit after taking it from the freezer.


I plan on making a mint-chocolate-chip ice cream next.  One of the beauties of avocados is I get the attractive green color without food coloring!  (except in the Veggnog, in which the avocado is diluted enough to merely give a soft yellowish tint)

Eating Animal Flesh

14 Oct

(note: this is an excerpt from an email I sent a few weeks ago; it has points that I felt were worth posting)

Lately I’ve had issues lately related to meat and how it is produced, but I think I’m beginning to make sense of it for myself.  Here are some of my thoughts:

1.  Meat is a good and necessary food; we get nutrients from animal products that we would not get elsewhere, and the scriptures tell us it is bad not to include meat in our diets (1 Timothy 4:3, D&C 49:18).
2.  The scriptures also tell us to eat meat sparingly (D&C 89:12), and eating something one or more times a day (as is common) is not sparingly as I understand the word.
3.  The Lord gave us dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:28), and we will be accountable for how we deal with our stewardship (D&C 104:13).
4.  A lot of the practices in factory farming and large-scale meat production are not compatible with being kind to our fellow creatures (David O. McKay said in October 1951 General Conference “a true Latter-day Saint is kind to animals, is kind to every created thing, for God created all”) or  receiving our meat with thanksgiving (as commanded in 1 Timothy 4:4 and elsewhere) – it is difficult to be truly thankful for something you take for granted or regard as cheap, and wasting meat is condemned (D&C 49:21).

So, I am currently looking for a source of meat that treats its animals nicely.  Granted, the meat is likely to be more expensive, but I feel we’re supposed to be eating it less often than we do anyways. We are currently subscribed to a vegetable delivery service that contracts with local farmers and brings produce to our apartment once a week, which is great, but I want animal flesh, too.  I found a farm this week that a) grows and delivers their own produce, b) tells you the exact origin of the produce in your delivery that they didn’t grow, and c) has connections with meat farmers to include animal products in your delivery if you so wish (for an extra price, of course).  Their basic vegetable bin is the same price as our current service, so we are giving them a try this week to see how we like their produce and meat. (note – we tried, and while the meat is good, we can find better elsewhere; hooray for Bill the Butcher!)

Food & Family: part I, Childhood Memories

23 Sep

I’ve been told that because my mother had all of us on the counter “helping” her cook, all of the kids in my family could crack eggs into a bowl, without too much shell getting in, by the time we were one year old.  With this kind of upbringing, it’s not surprising that my earliest memories come from the kitchen – simply standing in one and looking at the counters, windows, cupboards, and everything else; making applesauce with my mother; mixing up any number and kind of baked treat.

I was an early independent cook, too.  By four years old, I could manage a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on my own.  At six, I could do grilled cheese sandwiches, fried eggs, cocoa and toast, and ramen noodles.  My parents gave me a Better Homes & Gardens New Junior Cookbook one year, and I made my first solo meal for the family at seven.   It was fun to cook, and it was fun to cook for people.  Also, if I didn’t like what Mom made for dinner that night, I could always go fend for myself – when I was preschool aged, I remember my brothers and I used to hide packages of crunched-up ramen noodles in corners around the house to snack on, so there was always something to eat.  I’m sure my parents had a lot of fun finding those packages when cleaning up.

I remember the brothers closest to me in age, Gorilla and Ferret, as allies in food adventures.  We would cook together, eat together, and share snacks (most of the time).  It wasn’t as rosy as it sounds – Gorilla had hangups over onions, peppers, and spicy foods; Ferret was (and is) really picky in general about food, and I remember at least one major food fight between him and my mother that left spaghetti noodles on the ceiling.  The Oldest Boy (TOB) – being ten years older than me – was already a teenager by the time I became a real active participant in cooking, and was therefore mostly uninterested in what his little sister was playing at.  I’m not sure I remember what he liked or not.  Oh, wait, yes I do.  No-Bake Cookies.

My fathers preferences were difficult for me to appreciate: he Did Not Like macaroni and cheese, but then he would go out of his way to eat things like pickled herring or fried eggplant.  That was crazy to me.  (I think a lot of my prejudices at that age were imitations of my mother’s, since I know now that she does not like fish or eggplant, but I have grown to love both.)

Mom was the ultimate authority and resource on all things related to food.  She planned the meals, took us grocery shopping, and organized her troops (children) to get things done in the kitchen.  More about her next time.

First Foods

7 Aug

When I first had my daughter, I was all set and ready to wait at least six months before even thinking of introducing food.  After all, it is recommended to do at least six months of exclusive breastfeeding, and I had a friend whose twin boys were not at all interested in “real” food at seven months.  I would be patient and just wait for her to show interest in food before I offered some to her.

When she was three months old, I would give her dandelion blossoms to hold, so she could work on using those hand muscles, and it just looked cute to see a little baby girl holding a bright yellow flower.  That worked until she decided that she would rather suck on them than look at them.  Since they are edible, dandelion blossoms are arguably her “first food.”

At four months, the Caterpillar was fascinated by this thing that her Daddy and I kept doing where we sit down at a table and stick stuff in our mouths.  She didn’t really have the coordination to put much in her mouth at that time, but we gave her a spoon to play with while we ate, and it distracted her enough to give us some peace through dinner.  It was a fun game for her to work at putting the spoon in her mouth, then take it out again.  That’s what the grown ups are doing, right?

Then, at five months, she had developed a decent amount of coordination and was teething a bit.  One day, when I was out running errands and I had grabbed some food, she grabbed a piroshki out of my hand and stuck it in her mouth.  She didn’t want to give it back, but I wrested it away from her.  I think she got a couple of crumbs from the crust and a teeny tiny taste of the filling.

What was happening?  Kids aren’t supposed to have food until at least six months, right?  I mean, some parents slip rice cereal into their kids bottles, but I’m being good and sticking with just breast milk, and that should have everything she needs nutritionally.  That’s what I’ve been told, anyways.  What is wrong with my child?

I did what any concerned parent would do: I consulted the internet.  To my relief, I found pages listing signs that little ones exhibit showing readiness for food.  Alright, now to see if my daughter is okay:

  1. Child can sit with support and hold up his or her own head very well.  (check)
  2. Tongue-thrust reflex is disappearing so baby can swallow food.  (check)
  3. Child makes chewing motions with his or her mouth. (check)
  4. Child exhibits interest in food parents are eating (definitely check)

Phew, so far, so good.  Also, apparently many doctors recommend starting babies on solids at four months.  I believe that not all babies are ready for food that early (like my friends seven-month-old twins), but I guess I can accept that some are.  If six months is going to be an average age to start eating food, there need to be some early eaters as well as some later ones.  So, it’s okay if my five-month-old eats some food.

I started to give her mashed up versions of foods we had on hand that I knew were baby-compatible.  Avocados, sweet potatoes, bananas.  It wasn’t so bad, because those are foods we were eating anyways, and I could just sneak a bit out for her before I seasoned it for our dinner.  The next time I went to the store, I bought some rice cereal because that is what you are supposed to start your kids out eating, right?  My daughter had had dandelions, piroshki, avocado, sweet potato, and bananas up to that point, none of it from a jar, so I needed to get with the program and get her eating proper baby food.  How well did this go over?

Disaster.  Mixed up some rice cereal, fed it to the baby, and she spat it right back out.  “Well, maybe that’s not the best flavor right now,” I thought, “We’ll try again later.”

Tried it again later, and she spat it right back out.  I tried mixing it with other things: we did breast milk, water, applesauce, even applesauce with cinnamon.  Nothing was appealing.  Then one day I thought, “That looks like the tongue-thrust reflex thing I kept reading about, but she doesn’t seem to have problems swallowing other things.  Maybe I’m not getting the food far enough in her mouth for her to swallow it properly.”  So, I put the food a little bit farther back in her mouth to help her get it down (note – I’m talking middle of the tongue, not back of the tongue; I didn’t try to shove it down her throat).

She started to swallow, then gag, then vomit.  I’d not seen her actually vomit very often.  Spit up is one thing, but this was an actual stomach-heaving, get-this-out-of-me motion.  I declared rice cereal a fail.

At six and a half months, we still nurse more often than not, but she keeps trying little bits and pieces as we go along.  She has two proto-teeth growing in at the front of her mouth, too, so she has more chewing ability now. So far, this is how her food preferences stand:

  • Fresh peaches are a favorite.
  • Sweet potatoes are okay only with cinnamon.
  • Applesauce is great with or without cinnamon.
  • Bananas are tasty.
  • Avocados are yummy.
  • Rice cereal is nasty.
  • Cooked rice with whole grains is much better than rice cereal.
  • Crackers are fun.
  • Broccoli is only good as a sponge to suck lemon juice out of.
  • Lettuce is awesome.

    Rabbit Baby

Rose Hips

3 Aug

Someone at some point in Bellevue’s past planted rose bushes all over the city.  They are on the sides of the road, on street corners, all over the place.  The flowers look happy and pretty.

Flowers on the side of the road near my apartment

Roses on the bush

My daughter is very interested in the blossoms:

The Caterpillar after grabbing and eating a handful of rose petals

but that is not what excites me.

I am interested in the fruit of the rose plant, the rose hips.  In case you don’t know what rose hips look like, here’s a picture:

Rose hips on plantRose Hips in the Sink

Whoever decided what kind of roses to plant managed to choose a very fruitful variety, because these are big and plump and tasty.  They are also ripe at the end of July and early August, which is contrary to what I have read about rose hips.  I thought you were supposed to have to wait until after it frosted before they were good to eat, but all of these are good and ripe.  Excellent.

I stopped to pick some last week because they were there.  They turned into rose hip jelly

Inverted jelly jars, waiting to cool. Isn't that a pretty color?

and Rose Hip Crumble Pie.

Rose Hip Crumble Pie (notice the pie crust roses on top)

People keep asking me what they taste like, and my best attempt is saying the flavor is somewhere between an apple and a berry.  The jelly is tasty, and the pie is delicious.  It is yummy enough that I went and picked more rose hips today and went through the effort of cleaning them (and it is a bit of a pain) to make another pie.

For your enjoyment, here is the recipe:

Rose Hip Crumble Pie:

  • Pastry for single-crust 9-lnch pie
  • 1 cup chopped fresh, cleaned (as in all the seeds taken out) rose hips
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt (or buttermilk)
  • 1-1/2 cups sifted flour
  • 1 cup walnut pieces (Optional, but I highly recommend)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1-3/4 cups brown sugar
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten
  • 2 egg whites

Simmer rose hips in milk until soft.

Cream the butter and brown sugar, mixing well. Mix in the flour, walnuts, baking powder, and salt.  This makes a crumbly mixture – reserve 1 cup for topping. To the remainder add the egg yolks, yogurt, milk and rose hips.

Beat the egg whites until peaks hold form. Fold into the rose hip mixture.

Spoon into pie pan and sprinkle with the crumbly topping.

Bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes or until pie appears well done.