Friday, May 29, 2009

Snapping and Eating Asparagus

Instead of going to work early this morning, I volunteered in Caroline's class. Since asparagus is in season, I decided to teach the eight 2-ish year olds how to cook asparagus. I arrived at 9:00 am with a bottle of olive oil, sea salt, an asparagus ink-stamp, and about 60 spears of asparagus. We prepped the asparagus by snapping off their tough ends. The children loved the sound of the snap and some of them snapped and snapped their spears until all but the tips were snapped into bits! We put the long spears and bits together in a bowl and tossed the asparagus with olive oil. Then, I passed around a small round box of sea salt so that each child could have a turn to put a pinch of salt into the bowl. We spread the asparagus onto a broiler pan and put it in the oven for about 5 minutes or so. The children were eager to try the asparagus and patiently sat around a kidney-shaped table waiting for me to pull the pan out of the oven. The spears and bits were placed into individual cups and so that each child could have their own serving. Some of the children, like Caroline, already knew and loved asparagus. Others had never tried it before. And one child was introduced to it at home but, according to her mom, wouldn't touch it. This morning, all eight children asked for more and eagerly ate all of the spears and bits. And then just for fun, I stamped their arms with my asparagus-ink stap.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Blackberry Ice Cream in a Pink Egg Cone

Caroline loves ice cream. So when we visited her friend Maia (who has lots of fabulous toys) last month, I wasn't surprised when she went straight for Maia's Melissa and Doug ice cream set. This is absolutely the coolest toy: four (hard plastic) individual scoops of ice cream, two cones, and two scoops. Since all of the pieces are magnetized, you can actually use the scoops to pick up a scoop (or two or three or four) of ice cream and set it on a cone. It looks so real that if you close your eyes and think about being on the beach on a hot sunny day, you might actually lick it. Since Caroline and Maia's play date, I have seen the ice cream set at several toy stores. Each time, I pick up the box, look at the price (about $30.00), and think about how excited Caroline would be if she had her own set. But I haven't bought it. Until today, I couldn't quite place my finger on why. But I figured it out this morning when Caroline brought me a black rubber ball set inside one half of a plastic pink egg and said, "Here, Mama. I made this for you. It's a blackberry ice cream cone." In today's world of reality TV and toys that look like their real-life counterparts, children's imaginations seem fleeting. Maybe I'll buy the ice cream set for Caroline next year. But for now, I love her imagination.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Black Walnuts and Hickory

I meant to buy black walnuts and hickory from Sweet Spot Orchard last week at the Ann Arbor Farmers' Market but I was so focused on buying their asparagus that I completely forgot about the nuts. So when we went back today, we bought a pint of black walnuts and hickory (and asparagus and green onions). When we got home, we tried to crack the nuts open using our nutcracker...but they didn't give the slightest bit. I tried to break them open with my meat pounder but they still wouldn't crack open. Finally, Geoff took the nuts outside, placed them on our concrete steps, and used his hammer to break them open. We used our fingers to pull the meat from the shell and ate them right there on the steps. The nuts were delicious...sweet and full of flavor. Caroline loves nuts of all kinds and these were no exception. Unfortunately, I'm not sure when I will have a chance to crack the rest of the nuts so for now, they are sitting in a bowl on the kitchen counter.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Pizza: The Other American Pie

I've had my eye on the pizza making class at Zingerman's ever since we moved to Ann Arbor last October. But I didn't think that the cost to take the class fit into our budget. Geoff surprised me last month with two spots for tonight's class. It was a great class and worth every cent. Shelby (pictured here cutting Pizza Bianca) was our instructor. He was funny, helpful, and skilled. We learned how to make New York- and Chicago-style pizzas and Pizza Bianca, a simple Roman-style pizza. We tasted pizza, made our own dough to take home, and came home with four pizzas we made in class. My New York-style Pizza Margherita is pictured here. It's made with homemade crust and sauce, Bel Gioioso fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, and a little bit of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. We put two deep dish pizzas in our deep freezer to save for dinners later this month and a couple of New York-style pizzas (Pizza Margherita) into the fridge to eat for dinner tomorrow night. We'll use the extra dough to make pizza with Caroline this weekend. Like most toddlers I know, Caroline loves pizza. And these days, she also loves the spinach we buy from Brines Farm at the Ann Arbor Farmers' Market on Saturdays. Fresh spinach on pizza? Sounds like the perfect spring topping to me.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Asparagus Now In Season!

For Geoff, spring training marks the start of spring. For me, it's asparagus. From now until the end of asparagus season (mid to late June), our family will be eating asparagus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on as many days of the week as I can get away with. There will be asparagus in morning omelets and sauteed, broiled, grilled or steamed asparagus as a side dish for lunches and dinners. The asparagus season is so short that we never tire of eating the green spears. And since Michigan is the third largest asparagus-producing state in the country there will be plenty to eat over the next month and a half. We had sauteed asparagus alongside baked cod for dinner tonight. Caroline loved the asparagus and ate it by first biting off the tip before eating the rest of the spear.

What's up with the queue?

Free compost at the Ann Arbor Farmers' Market! If we had known in advance, we wouldn't have rode our bikes to the market this morning. Alas, with two bikes and one bike trailer, we didn't have room (or the strength) to lug home a bag of compost.
Legacy Tracking Code (urchin.js)