Monday, August 31, 2009

When You Are the Food Source

August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month, and although GoatSpawn started solids at six months, it wasn't until she was about 9 m0nths that it seemed like she needed to eat much more solid foods. Until then, breastmilk was a pretty much a complete food - it had everything a she needed, all the calories, liquids, nutrients and minerals, continually changing in composition, both throughout the day and over the months, to suit GoatSpawn's changing needs.

But now GoatSpawn seems far more interested in cheese these days, but being just a few months shy of the age when she can drink cow's milk, I still have to make sure she's still getting the milk she needs. So, in addition eating oatmeal, I am drinking Mother's Milk tea.

A blend of herbs traditionally used to encourage lactation, including fenugreek, anise, blessed thistle, fennel and coriander, the tea does in fact seem to work, and doesn't taste half bad. Mostly, it tastes like licorice.

What else works? Beer. It's the hops in the beer that works to increase lactation, so if you go this route, pick something hoppy, like an IPA. I see a Mother's Milk beer in the future!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Blog Posts Worth Reading

  • There is something to be said - a lot to be said, actually - about why more meat is not always better. Case in point: Foodgeekery tries the latest KFC abomination - the Double Down Chicken Sandwich (via Lead Paint Cookbook, which has his own awesome reaction).

Monday, August 24, 2009

Cover Up Your Shame: Naked Protein Zone Smoothie

What was that word I was going to use to describe the Naked Protein Zone juice smoothie?


Okay, maybe that was a little harsh. It's not quite to level of chugging the contents of the grease jar, for example. Not quite. But it isn't good.

It sounded good - pineapple, banana, orange. But it also has soy and whey isolates, which packs in 30 grams of protein (as much protein as a hamburger patty with a slice of bacon), but also seems to give those delicious fruit juices purees an awful grainy, powdery texture. Think undissolved granules in a fruit sludge thickly layering your thirsty tongue.


I'm not even sure why I decided that what I needed to drink today was a protein drink. Protein drinks are for the muscle-aspiring, the workout fiends, the athletes. Not the desk worker squeezing in lunch during a conference call. In other words, not me. I think I had the vague idea that more protein would fill me up until dinner since I had a long afternoon of work ahead of me.

Instead, I got a long afternoon of work ... with grainy mouthfeel.

I would have fixed it with a much more delicious and refreshing Naked Blue Machine juice smoothie, but did I feel like giving that company another $4? I did not.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

How We Know She Wasn't Switched At Birth

She's definitely our kid, because GoatSpawn sure loves to eat cheese.

Her favorite of all - in fact, her favorite food - is fresh mozzarella. What's not to like? It's soft, it's got a nice texture to it, it's fun to pick up, and oh, yes, it tastes delicious. Plus it gets served on the cheese cutting board, so it looks extra cool.

But she's also a fan of regular mozzarella, cheddar, Colby jack, provolone, cream cheese, cottage cheese, Parmesan .... no bleu cheese yet, because that's powerful stuff. Foodgoat didn't even start to like blue cheese until he was in college. No need to get her hating on the bleu cheese!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Polvoron, the Recipe

I have making a lot of polvoron lately, and it's because of GoatSpawn's sleep.

GoatSpawn is a wonderful eater but impossible to put to sleep, so anything I do in the evenings has to be quiet and easily interrupted since inevitably one of us will say, "Is that her?" and it always is.

Then, my mom left a book of Filipino lullabies here, and when I glanced at the title, I had to really think a while before I remembered thatt "Antukin" means "sleep". Yikes! I need me something Filipino, stat!

And so ... polvoron.

I've posted about how to make it before, but then I realized I didn't include the actual recipe, probably because I do keep changing the ingredient ratios every time I make it, to suit my whims. Being a simple recipe with no baking, polvoron is very amenable to adjustment. But my basic recipe is thus:


2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup powdered milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter or margarine

  1. Toast the flour, stirring frequently, over medium heat until light brown. There's no exact stopping point - just when it seems toasted. If it start to smoke, you're burning it, so turn down the heat.
  2. Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. Add the milk and sugar.
  4. Melt the butter or margarine, and mix it in slowly, to avoid big clumps. You want the consistency and texture of damp sand.
  5. Form cakes by packing the mixture very, very firmly with the back of spoon (I broke a wooden spoon doing this) into a shaper. A polvoron mold is best, because you can press it out easily, but a small scoop, a measuring spoon, or candy molds also work. And taste it! Especially before you form too many cakes. If it doesn't taste how you want it to taste, you can always mash it back up and add more of whatever ingredient it needs.
  6. Put them in the fridge or the freezer for at least 20 minutes or until the polvoron is firmer. This hardens the butter to make it easier to wrap.
  7. Wrap with tissue or wax paper. Store in the fridge, especially if you used butter, so that they keep their shape.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Party Etiquette

In today's Dear Abby column, a parent planning a child's birthday party at a park asks if it's okay to offer beer and wine to the parents, and Abby responds:

"DEAR PARTY PLANNER: I see nothing positive to be gained by a group of parents drinking alcohol at a children's party. Alcohol dulls the senses, and besides, the purpose of the party is to see that the children have a good time. Rather than drinking and socializing, the parents should be concentrating on the kids, making sure they are entertained and closely supervised -- particularly in an outdoor setting that may not be familiar to everyone."

I actually don't see a problem with having some alcoholic beverages for the parents at a children's party. I would think most parents are responsible enough to not take the offer of a beer as an invitation to get blind stinking drunk while their kids set the park on fire or attack the geese with plastic forks.

But that's just me. And I can't imagine Foodgoat not offering some beer or wine to the grownups at any of GoatSpawn's parties. What do you think?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

There's Always Next Year (Or The Year After That) ... And Until Then, There's Cupcakes

Time for another round of baking therapy! Another Cleveland sports team underachieves ... and unlike the Cavs, it's not a so-close-you-could-taste-it underachieves, it's a great big couldn't-taste-it-if-it-was-served-in-front-of-you-with-a-spoon underachieves. Not are the Indians way, way out of playoff contention, they're in full blown rebuilding mode, complete with trading away ... well, everyone that mattered.

The dismal state of things truly hit home for me when I watched the funny (and wistful) Major League for the first time the other night. "Watch, GoatSpawn, this may be the only time you see a Cleveland sports team go to the playoffs, " Foodgoat said, "It's what you call 'fiction'."

After my baking therapy project for the Cavs' season, someone suggested that it wasn't cake they needed to handle the trauma of Cleveland sports losses, it was whiskey. But why not have both?

To assuage the pain of Cleveland Indians season (and next, this re-building mode will probably last a while), I made chocolate whiskey cupcakes.

Chocolate Whiskey Cupcakes

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened (not Dutch process) cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups strong brewed coffee (I used the dark roast from Phoenix for extra flavor)
1/2 cup whiskey
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Preheat over to 325°F.
  2. Heat the coffee, butter, and cocoa powder in a heavy medium saucepan over low heat until the butter is melted, whisking occasionally.
  3. Add the sugars and whisk until dissolved. Remove from the heat, transfer the mixture to a large bowl, add the whiskey, and let cool.
  1. Meanwhile, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate, small bowl, whisk the eggs and vanilla. Slowly whisk the eggs into the chocolate mixture until combined. Add the flour mixture and whisk until smooth. The batter will be pretty thin.
  2. Pour the batter into a cupcake pan (or Reynolds Fun Shapes, which made heart-shaped cupcakes) and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean, about 15 to 18 minutes.
You can frost them of course, but rather than run the risk of the ugliest cupcakes in the world, I just dusted them with powdered sugar just before serving. Easier, neater, prettier, and dare I say, tastier.

They turned out infinitely better than the chocolate sourdough cake ... light and fluffy (I learned my lesson regarding types of cocoa powder), not too sweet, moist, and a hint of whiskey.

Cleveland sports may not be improving, but my baking abilities are. And if the first Browns preseason game is any indication, I may be whipping up pies and custards and cookies by the end of the season.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Blog Posts Worth Reading

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Doom of the Cheetos

The hot dog lady that we occassionally buy lunch from gave GoatSpawn a bag of Cheetos, so we let her have a taste of New Jersey.

To which my brother darkly warned that this could only lead to the sad and pathetic life of a Cheetos junkie, staring glassy-eyed at reality TV shows while covered in orange dust and slurping Mountain Dews. Because Cheetos are the most addictive of all the chips.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Baby's First Zucchini

Every year, we plant something new in our garden. Last year it was lettuce; this year, it was zucchini. I was a little surprised that the seed packet suggested spacing the seeds three to four feet apart - that seemed awfully far. But I duly planted three sets of seeds, each with two zucchini seeds.

Well, two of those sets did not sprout at all, but the third did. And good thing it was just one set of zucchini seeds, because that one plant is crazy huge. It easily has a spread of at least five feet, with huge pointy leaves, easily overshadowing the nearby peppers and tomatoes.

While the cool summer hasn't been particularly kind to other crops, it doesn't seem to have hurt the zucchini at all, and we are now starting to harvest its goodness.

So not only is the plant itself ridiculously huge, so are zucchini! We've never harvested anything that looked like it could be used as a weapon.

Foodgoat used one to make breaded zucchini, which was delicious and a surprising hit with GoatSpawn.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Things I Have Learned

Of all the food TV and media I have consumed in the past several months, I have learned exactly two things that I found useful.

One, from the Food Network's Food Detectives (the only show on that channel I may watch), that to disperse the bubbles from a shaken up soda can, you should tap on the sides of the can and not the top of the can.

Two, from youtube, that a better way to open a banana is to do it like monkeys, which is to pinch the bottom end rather than to peel down from the top. (Of course, you could also snap the banana in half, which shocked Foodgoat the first time he saw this, not knowing there could ever be any other way to open a banana).

Monday, August 10, 2009

The New Staple

One of the first foods that GoatSpawn had was Cheerios, and since then it was become the new staple around here. Not only does she like to eat them, but they were neat. No spoons needed, already bite sized, travels easily. It didn't hurt that Foodgoat and I could eat Cheerios happily ourselves. Apparently we aren't the only ones - Cheerios is so ingrained as a popular finger food for babies Cheerios has a whole section on its website for new parents.

Cheerios aren't the only O-shaped baby snacks out there now, though. We tried Happy Baby Organic Banana Puffs, which had slightly bigger O's, so they were easier to grasp, came in a handy plastic container that made it easy to pop a couple of puffs out from, and they were puffier, which seemed to make them melt in the mouth a little better (an issue if you have more gums than teeth). Plus they are organic, which I presume is better for babies.

But in a head to head taste test, with both types of O's in front of her .... GoatSpawn picked the Cheerios first! And then ate the banana puffs. Which I interpret to mean that she liked the Cheerios better, and I couldn't agree more. The banana puffs to me tasted blander and less interesting, and not really very banana-y. While the Cheerios were crunchier and tastier.

Just wait until you can have it with milk!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Deep Dish Pizza

One of our favorite dinners recently is homemade pizza. We roll out some pizza dough, we pile on the goodness, we bake, and deliciousness ensues.

And then one day I had a brainstorm, an honest-to-goodness lightbulb moment.

Could we make ... deep dish pizza?

Could we possibly use ... the cast iron skillet?

Foodgoat tried it immediately, and the results have been so good, so tasty, we have put away the flimsy pizza pan.

How is our deep dish pizza made differently from our not so deep version? The ingredients are the same, but instead of heating the oven to a toasty 425 degrees, we lower it to 350. The cast iron skillet goes into the oven as we preheat, so by the time the oven is ready, the skillet is also hot. You lay down the dough, pile on the same ingredients, and put it in the oven for a longer period of time, at least 30 minutes compared to the 20 minutes for the flatter version.

The dough comes out more bread than crust like, the pizza is denser, and the whole thing is surprisingly much easier and neater to eat because the crust is thicker and stronger and more able to support the huge mounds of cheese I insist are integral to Delicious Pizza. And it tasted wonderful.
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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

GoatSpawn Feeds Herself!

GoatSpawn is now ten months old, a big girl, and this week we marveled at the fact that we could all sit down at the dinner table, each of us now feeding themselves.

Not that long ago (or last week), Foodgoat and I were rushing through eating so that one of us could feed the baby.

But now, GoatSpawn can feed herself, picking up the food in a bowl or plate and with her own little fingers and putting them, more or less, in her mouth.

She is also enjoying table foods now, eating lots of things that we are eating, rather than only the pureed and strained beyond recognition baby foods.

So here we all are, sitting together at the table, all eating the same thing, feeding ourselves, even conversing. It's a real life family dinner.

Our very first meal like this was chicken adobo, which I made myself (yes, Ladygoat actually made dinner! And not by heating something up or pouring something into a bowl of milk!). Adobo was on the menu because we've noticed GoatSpawn really likes eating rice - and not rice cereal (which I still think is a weird and unappetizing product), but rice. There may be some Filipino in this girl yet.

Our second meal? Sloppy joes. And we were pretty impressed at relatively clean GoatSpawn kept herself while eating sloppy joes. They are, after all, sloppy.