Entries from July 2010
I’ve been a runner for over two decades now. That doesn’t mean I’ve been a runner consistently for two decades. Or that I’ve run marathons or get up early to run the Central Park loop every morning like my best friend and mother of three (including twins) has done for most of her adult life. Since I was a teenager, I have gone in and out of intense phases of jogging addiction — when I was 16, I remember deciding I would run four miles every day for the entire month of August. (Perhaps because my Central Park Loop friend had done it for the entire month of July.) The problem with that kind of regimen, of course, is that it’s not psychologically sustainable. Even for my younger psychologically-robust self. I can’t remember exactly, but it’s likely I didn’t lace up my Nikes for six months after reaching that July goal.
The same feast-or-famine scenario played out year after year until 1994 when my then-boyfriend, now-husband told me that he was going to come up with a realistic exercise plan for himself — to run every other day. Trying to do it every day was just setting himself up for failure. I remember the exact corner of Brooklyn where we were standing when he said this — Carroll and Smith Streets — probably because it was so unlike the pep talks I was reading in Mademoiselle (1994, remember?) about sticking with a fitness plan (“Grab a running buddy!” “Sleep in your sports bra so you’re ready to go first thing in the morning!”) that didn’t seem to address the bigger problem: How am I going to keep this up for the rest of my life? Andy’s strategy was the first to feel like real advice. It required no cockamamie scheming. No fancy head games or running partners or special gear. Like most of the best strategies, it was simple. And in the 15 years since — with the exception of two pregnancies — I’ve managed to (mostly) stick with the plan.
You know where I’m going, right? Take the pressure off. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Think about the long-term. No fancy gear or trickery. Sounds a lot like…hey, how about that?…Family Dinner. Simplify the routine and simplify the psychology behind the routine. It’s summer. With camp and later bedtimes and Tivo’d World Cup semis that demand your entire family’s presence in the TV room instead of the dinner table, allow yourself some nights off from the grind. Allow yourself to order in a pizza tonight if it means later in the week you’ll be excited to spin those vegetables into gold. Allow yourself a night where your son’s vegetable serving is the oregano on the Trader Joe’s frozen pizza. Chances are you’ll be more likely to stay in the race and go the distance.
Related pep talks: How to Have Family Dinner, Ingalls-Style Family Dinner
BTW: Photo courtesy of DALS reader Cory J. of Brooklyn. The family dinner they are eating here is Curried chickpeas with spinach, a vegetarian adaptation of a DALS favorite. Thanks, Cory. Hope the kids enjoyed it!
[Read more →]
Tags:how to have family dinner
Just making sure you all noticed that there is now a little “print” button after every DALS post. If you click on it, you will be able to download a printer-friendly version of the recipe write-up sans photo. Thanks to everyone who wrote in requesting this. Hope it helps.
And while you’re here, remember to “like” (adore?) me on facebook for news, giveaways, and more evidence of my unhealthy obsession with family dinner.
[Read more →]
Riddle: It’s summer. Fourth of July weekend to be specific. You’re assigned dessert. What do you bring to a party to feed seven grown-ups and seven kids, one of whom has a dairy allergy?
In my mind, only one answer: Cobbler.
But wait: Butter + Dairy Allergy = Not the Nicest Thing to Do
And: Cobbler – Butter = Not Much of a Cobbler.
Still, not an option. My mother-in-law has been making fruit cobblers on the Fourth for the last ten years and celebrating the holiday without one would be like foregoing the flags and fireworks. A little scouring of this cool Internet thing turned up a bunch of vegan takes on the classic. This blackberry-peach version is a composite of a bunch — almond milk stands in for the regular milk and oil stands in for the butter.
I like doing all the fruit and sugar tossing right in the baking dish instead of in a separate bowl. It makes for one less big-ticket item to wash. (more…)
[Read more →]
Tags:dairy free cobbler·dairy free dessert·fruit cobbler·vegan cobbler·vegan dessert·vegan summer dessert
For a good long stretch, when the girls were little, Finding Nemo was in the DVD 24/7 and quickly became the Annie Hall of my 30s — it seemed as though I couldn’t go a day without quoting Marlin the Clownfish or Bruce the Great White, who belly-belted the titular line of this post (you recognized it, right?) before attempting to gobble up Marlin and the lovably loopy Dory. It’s nearly impossible for me to watch a Pixar movie (particularly Nemo, Monsters Inc and The Incredibles) without asking myself at the end What am I doing with my life? And why can’t I be John Lasseter?
In the meantime I can be content with the fact that Pixar and Nemo and Co launched an underwater obsession with Phoebe that still lasts to this day. She’s been to a half dozen aquariums up and down the Atlantic coast and once even emptied her piggy bank to donate to a favorite, the South Carolina Aquarium. “Please use this money to help take care of your sharks,” she wrote to the director. The letter she received back, acknowledging the $30 donation for tax purposes, still hangs on her bulletin board.
For now, though, all her love for sea life seems to be translating to consumption as opposed to conservation — give her time…she’s seen Wall-E once and was only six. One of her favorite activities is going to a seafood market and picking out a new kind of fish to try. Last weekend, while we were staying at my sister’s beach house, we went to her idea of Disneyland: A Long Island seafood purveyor who might as well have reeled in the catch right to our shopping bag, it was so fresh. (That view of the bay up there is the store’s “backyard.”) With a little encouragement to go local — easy at a place like this — Phoebe pointed at the soft-shell crabs and two dozen lovely little Little Necks, which she and Andy cleaned and prepared together back at the house. (more…)
[Read more →]
Tags:little neck clam recipe·shellfish for kids·soft shell crab recipe·south carolina aquarium
Saturday afternoon, week before last, was one of those moments when you think, man, having kids is fun. I mean, it’s almost always fun and it’s not like hanging out with the kids on a sunny weekend afternoon is ever a hardship, but this was different. I feel like last Saturday marked some kind of occasion, a corner turned in the hang-out department. We’d been following the World Cup pretty faithfully as a family for a couple weeks now, tuning in live when we could, catching up on DVR when we couldn’t, rating the uniforms, identifying the underdogs, mocking the bad hair, picking our favorite players, and all the while, I was quietly doing everything I could to maniupulate — I mean, show the kids how much fun it could be to get into an event like this, that featured so many countries and was so special, that happened only once every four years. Mission accomplished. Both girls were on the couch at 2:20 pm, in the alert, upright position, ready to watch the U.S. take on Ghana. I put on the pregame and sat down between them.
“I’m hungry,” Abby said.
“Let’s wait a little while,” I said.
“Can you make popcorn?” said Phoebe.
I couldn’t risk a mutiny at this point — the prospect of sitting and watching a game with them (and maybe catching a quick nap) was too good to pass up — so I obliged. As I got up, I told them that I would make a snack on one condition: that they promise to try whatever I made, no matter what. They agreed, warily. I decided to make peanut butter sandwiches five ways – with bananas, with raisins, with bananas and raisins, with honey, and with bacon. (When I got to the refrigerator, however, I saw we had no bacon, not even one slice — apologies to Mr. Presley — so I subbed in almond butter for a fourth variation.) The bread was just a good Italian loaf, thinly sliced, and toasted. The peanut butter was the organic stuff with the green lid from T. Joe’s; the honey was from our farmer’s market. Five minutes later, I was back on the couch with what I sold as “a special soccer snack” — a tray of mini, open-face sandwiches. The kids, who up until this moment, had been strictly peanut butter and jelly girls, were intrigued by the presentation. And they kept their promise. They tried them all. They loved them all. If only we’d had bacon.
Midway through the second half, Phoebe’s head was buried in Narnia, Abby was rooting hard for Ghana (prettier jerseys), and the U.S. was losing. But hey: we were still on the couch together, and the snack was a winner. –Andy
[Read more →]
Tags:game noshes·healthy snacks·peanut butter sandwich recipes
From The Cricket in the Thicket, by Aileen Fisher (1963), a book given to me by my best friend’s mom, Rosa*, when Abby was born. It was my friend’s favorite book when she was little.
Shall we all work on our nodding and cooing?
*Yes! Rosa of Rosa’s Mud Cake!
[Read more →]
Tags:cricket in the thicket·division of labor
There was a photo in one of the last issues of Gourmet that haunts me to this day. In a good way. (What is the word for haunting in a good way? Word people…help, please.) You know how much I love the concept of Deconstructed Dinner? The idea of leveraging the “no-touching!” decree regularly issued by toddlers into a beautiful salad where everything is separated into individually delicious elements? Well the Gourmet photo showed a rustic platter holding about eight or nine different “stripes” of food — grilled chicken, grilled mushrooms, chick peas, radishes, greens. In other words, the most glorious Deconstructed Dinner ever constructed. I lost the issue and have had no luck finding the recipe on epicurious, but finally, a year later, Andy and I replicated the platter in our kitchen. That’s it up there. A veritable celebration of farmer’s market fabulousness. Shredded romaine, “campfire potatoes”, fresh garden peas, tiny spring onions, asparagus, chicken, and some homemade pesto drizzled on top. (Storebought will do, too.)
The only “stripe” on the platter that wasn’t prepared on the grill was the one made of orange-thyme roasted carrots — which is a big fave with the girls. I think this is probably because the recipe only really works with the small, tender, sweet carrots from the farmer’s market that resemble the kind Bugs Bunny walks around with. (Try saying “What’s up Doc?” while holding a nubby little baby carrot. So incredibly depressing.) To make: Chop off most of the carrot stems, rinse slightly (no need to peel if you rinse well), and slice them horizontally as shown. Toss with olive oil and some fresh thyme leaves and roast in a baking dish in a 425°F oven for about 15-20 minutes until tender. Halve an orange and roast alongside the carrots. (This concentrates its juices.) When the carrots are finished, squeeze about a tablespoon of orange juice all over them. (more…)
[Read more →]
Tags:Deconstructed Dinner·family entertaining ideas·fourth of july menu ideas·orange thyme carrots·roasted carrots