Korean Pancakes for Dinner

August 15th, 2011 · 24 Comments · Dinner, Seafood, Vegetarian

Phoebe has been on a tear in the kitchen lately. I would love to say this is due to the fact that she’s watched her parents cook every night for her whole little life, and so now, at 9 1/2, her interest in cooking has finally kicked into high gear, but I think it’s more likely due to something else: Farm Camp. She has spent the last four weeks spraying pigs to keep them cool (did you know they don’t sweat?) harvesting yellow cherry tomatoes (which we then bought at the market for $8 a box), examining microbes in the compost pile, herding sheep, and cleaning and collecting eggs. In other words, we’ve been paying for her to do slave labor.

Not really — there are, of course, other activities like soap-making, hikes around the lake, painting with egg tempera, and cooking with the farm chef — a guy named Dan. I don’t know who this Dan guy is, but he not only sent home a little packet of inspired plant-based recipes after the session ended, but he also sent home a blossoming little cook. Last week, Phoebe invited our 20-year-old neighbor/friend/babysitter for dinner and oversaw the production of a pile of Korean Pancakes for her. And when we were finished she held up the heel of a carrot and asked where we keep the compost pile. I guess I know what our next project is. (more…)

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Is Family Breakfast the New Family Dinner?

August 4th, 2011 · 16 Comments · Baking and Sweets, Rituals, Vegetarian

And by that question I mean, is it easier for families to get everyone around the table at the same time eating the same thing first thing in the morning — before the playdates and the meetings and the deadlines conspire to pull everyone in different directions?

In case you can’t tell by now, we’re big fans of a shared meal at the end of the day. But that’s most likely because, after a few harrowing years with apron-hangers and witching-hours babies, we’ve found our dinner rhythm. We know the meals we can make blindfolded. We know what kind of surgery — rice removal surgery — has to be performed on the porcupine meatballs in order for Phoebe to eat them. But if morning is the best time for your family to unplug and connect — what’s stopping you from declaring breakfast the new family dinner? Actuallly….What’s stopping you from declaring the all-parties-present road trip or bike ride or the weekend hike the new family dinner?

For all of our inspired steaks and salads, we here at DALS haven’t yet cracked the breakfast code. Every week at Trader Joe’s we beg the girls to keep breakfast in mind as they shop — we will buy them anything if it doesn’t fall into the starch-fest category, aka pancakes, bagels, waffles, french toast, aka their morning-time default mode. (Our morningtime default mode: Smoothies, which the girls go back and forth craving and rejecting.) But no matter how many cartons of strawberry yogurt and granola we lug home, we’re usually back to our pancake routine by Wednesday. If I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll have Nigella’s homemade mix in the countertop canister, but it’s usually Trader’s buttermilk batter we’re shaping into silver dollars and the girls’ initials. If we’re going to have the same thing every day, might as well make it interesting.

Initial Pancakes (shown above) I find they turn out better when you drizzle the letter into the pan in its mirror image and then flip to its correct positioning.

Fakey Crepey Remember when we handed the girls ten bucks and challenged them to find something new at the farmer’s market? The first time they came back with lavendar honey and two sourdough rolls. The second time, they wisened up and found the newest vendor at the market: they found the crepe guy. With his French accent, twirly wand, and charming little cones,  I am no match for him, but I make what Abby now calls my “Fakey Crepey,” achieved by thinning out my pancake batter with milk, then smearing Nutella across the middle. It ain’t Paris, but it’ll do for now.

Silver Dollar Stack A perennial favorite in my house. (How could it not be?) The trick is to pile the tiny cakes as dramatically high as possible.

Nine Years. Nine Blueberries When I was six, I made my mother insert six blueberries into my pancake. When I turned seven, I made her insert seven. The ritual continued for an embarrassingly long time. When I told Phoebe about it, she responded “Grandma better get ready to make you a big pancake next time!” And then: “Make me one with nine!”

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