A Fish’s Life

It’s with a heavy heart we say goodbye to our fish, Matt Jr. today. Matthew won him last summer at a camp carnival. I’ll never forget the look on his face when he came bouncing off the camp bus holding up the little baggie housing his new pet. Based on my own childhood experiences with goldfish, I wasn’t expecting Matt Jr. to live longer than a few weeks but he surprised us all by lasting over eight months.

Matt Jr. was the perfect pet. No walks in the rain, no mess to clean, no hair to vacuum off the couch, no chewed up shoes, just a bowl of water and a small container of fish flakes that seemed to last forever. He provided endless entertainment, until the boys eventually moved on to other interests. After that, I’m not even sure if we fed him every day…

In his death, Matt Jr. might have been even more entertaining to the boys. His untimely passing was not met with tears. Instead, there were shrieks of joy and a call of “Yeah, we’re gonna flush him down the toilet!” Not exactly a normal reaction but everyone deals with death in their own way I suppose.

The ceremony, although a bit on the giggly side, was brief and heartfelt. Everyone said a few words and Liam concluded with a “Good job Matt Jr.!” Then it was time to flush. I’m not exactly sure how Matt Jr. ended up going from his bowl to the bathroom floor but eventually in the toilet he went. FYI -it’s not easy to pick a goldfish up off the floor.

Matt Jr. is now on his way to the Great Big Sea, via our bathroom pipes. And now that summer is on the horizon the boys are hoping to win another fish to take his place.

In honor of our beloved fish, we’re cooking up flounder – a bit morbid but the boys didn’t seem to mind one bit.

Garlic Tomato Flounder

Ingredients

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. capers, plus 1 Tbsp. of juice from jar

½ onion, tiny dice

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

¼ cup olive oil

Zest of one lemon, plus 4 slices

2 lbs. flounder

Salt & Pepper

2 cups brown rice, cooked

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium size mixing bowl, combine the garlic, capers w/juice, onions, cherry tomatoes, olive oil and lemon zest. Set aside.

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Lightly oil a baking pan large enough to fit the fish in a single layer. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Then place filets in the pan and spoon the tomato mixture over the top. Lay the lemon slices over the fish.

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Bake in oven until fish is flaky, about 30 minutes. Serve over brown rice.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “So good! I squeeze the lemon on it right?”

Liam (age 6): “Take those tomatoes off”

Dylan (age 6): “The best fish in the world”

This recipe is dedicated to Matt Jr.

Offense or Defense

In sports, players all have their positions. It’s the same in life. We all have roles to play. Some we learn and some we just fall into based on our natural talents.

Super Bowl Sunday at our house is no exception, it’s a team effort. The boys all get on the couch, Liam and Dylan on one cushion and Matthew, as the more experienced player, commands his own cushion or the big brown chair. I am official chef and coordinator of meal time. Brian is the coach and keeper of the remote. As game time approaches, all players enthusiastically get in their respective positions. When it comes time to eat, the boys perform as well as any professional athlete. And the older they get the more seasoned they become, which translates to huge grocery bills!

It’s tradition to serve chicken wings on Super Bowl Sunday, and this is not the day to make a new play, so I stick to the game book. This year I’m trying an Asian twist. Let’s see what my team thinks…

Miso Glazed Chicken Wings

Ingredients

3 Tbsp yellow miso

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp fresh ginger, about 1” grated

2 Tbsp sugar

¼ cup vegetable oil

2 Tbsp sesame oil

¼ cup rice wine vinegar

2 Tbsp soy sauce

3-4 lbs chicken wings, split at joints, tips removed

Method

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the first eight ingredients.

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Toss chicken wings into miso marinade and toss well to coat. Refrigerate overnight or for up to two hours.

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Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and place a baking rack on top.

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Place the wings on the baking rack. Roast in oven until caramelized and chicken is cooked through, about 45 minutes depending on the size of the chicken wings.

Serve immediately or during halftime show.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “Awesome – did you soak these in something?”

Liam (age 5): “Love these chickens”

Dylan (age 5): “These rock!”

Score!

My Little Foragers

A few weeks ago I did a story on Foraging With Kids. As with all educational things I do with my children I never know if it has any impact. So I was taken by surprise when out on a nature hike the boys suddenly screamed “ONIONS!” They had actually spotted wild garlic, which look and smell similar to small onions. All three vigorously began yanking and tugging to break some bulbs loose from the soil. We harvested a few sizable pieces and Dylan insisted he would keep them safe in his pocket, dirt and all, until we got home.

After a lively discussion we unanimously decided a pizza sauce would be the perfect thing to make with our wild edibles. Nothing hard about this recipe and a much better alternative to jarred sauce. With some simple ingredients, tomatoes, garlic, and some spices (plus, I snuck in a zucchini), we had a delicious sauce in no time. And the boys were thrilled that they had eaten off the land. I can almost guarantee they would not have eaten this zucchini sauce had they not had a part in harvesting one of the ingredients. I will confess, I supplemented with garlic cloves purchased at the supermarket.

Now if you live in the suburbs you might be familiar with this plant (or weed as most people would refer to it) as it tends to invade lawns in clumps and take over quickly. This is how I first became acquainted with it, although I would strongly advise against eating anything from a lawn that has fertilizer on it.

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Zucchini Sausage Pizza

Ingredients

1 zucchini, peeled, cut in large chunks

1 can diced tomatoes, drained

2 Tbsp olive oil, divided

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp sugar

½ tsp oregano

½ tsp basil

½ tsp pepper

1 lb. sausage meat, removed from casings

1 package pizza dough

All-purpose flour, for dusting

2 cups, shredded mozzarella cheese

Method

Puree zucchini and diced tomatoes until smooth. Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a saucepan. Then add garlic and cook for about 1 minute until fragrant. Do not brown.

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To the garlic, add pureed vegetables, salt, sugar, oregano, basil, and pepper and stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then turn heat down to a simmer. Let sauce reduce by at least half, this will take about 45 minutes. The sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated for 3-4 days.

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Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a skillet and brown the sausage, breaking it up, until cooked thoroughly. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by lightly coating it with olive oil. Roll out pizza dough on a floured surface and transfer to baking sheet.

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Next add the zucchini sauce in an even layer onto the dough.

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Then top with sausage.

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And lastly, sprinkle liberally with cheese.

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Bake in oven until underside of the pizza is crispy, approximately 12-15 minutes.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “That’s some good stuff”

Liam (age 5): “Only put a little on mine”

Dylan (age 5): “I love our onion sauce!”

Can you guess who made these?

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Boomerang Generation

I flew the coop over 20 years ago. At the time my parents lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. My new apartment was a walk-up in a tenement across the park on the Upper East. It was far from fancy but it was all mine. I was finally independent, but if I ever needed anything they were just a crosstown bus away. Close but not too close. Fast forward to marriage and three children, and the coop is now coming back to me. Mom and Dad are moving to the burbs!

My kids could not be more thrilled to have Grandma and Grandpa as their new neighbors. For me, it will be an adjustment running into my parents at the local Starbucks, but it’s great to have a babysitter moving practically next door. Don’t worry Mom, we only need you to watch the boys every other weekend – 🙂

To celebrate their “return to the nest” we’re roasting a chicken this week. I’ve never roasted a whole bird before and it was surprisingly easy. This method was suggested by my local butcher. She said once I’ve got this mastered she’ll give me the secret to the perfect pork roast…

Citrus Roast Chicken

Ingredients

1 3/12-4 lb. whole roasting chicken, organic if possible

1-1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature

Coarse sea salt

Black pepper

½ orange, cut into wedges

1 lemon, cut into wedges

2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

3-4 carrots, peeled, cut into 1” chunks

3 medium potatoes, cut into large chunks

1 Tbsp olive oil

Method

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Before cooking the chicken rinse in cold water. Then scrub the chicken inside and out with coarse salt. Then rinse again and pat dry. Make sure the chicken is completely dry, this will result in a crispy skin.

Rub the butter all over the chicken. And if you are feeling brave, gently loosen the skin on the breast side and add some butter underneath. It’s a little messy but I was told not to skip this step.

Once the butter is rubbed all over, liberally season with salt and pepper. Fill the cavity of the chicken with the orange, lemon and garlic. Place in roasting pan.

Toss the carrots and potatoes with the olive oil and some salt. Scatter around the chicken. Place in oven for 20 minutes. Then add about ½ cup of water to the pan and roast for another 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours, depending on size of chicken, basting once or twice. Add more liquid to pan if needed.

Chicken is ready when the juices run clear. Use an instant read thermometer to make sure internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. (Insert into thickest part of thigh)

Let rest for 5-10 minutes and serve.

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House of Bedlam Citrus Chicken

House of Bedlam Citrus Chicken

And the VERDICT is:             

Matthew (age 7): “Good chicken”

Liam (age 5): “Can I eat that lemon?”

Dylan (age 5): “Why is that lemon in there?”

Although not nearly as convenient, this was even better tasting than a rotisserie.

Mom & Dad, welcome to the neighborhood!

 

For my local readers:

Fairway Market presents Funny Food Art Workshop!

When: Sunday, September 21, 2014 from 1pm – 3pm

Where: Fairway Market in Pelham Manor, 847 Pelham Parkway, 914 633 6550

Fairway invites friends and families to come and have fun with their food as Bill Wurtzel, author of “Funny Food 365 Fun, Healthy, Silly, Creative Breakfast” teaches families how to create funny food art. Fairway will supply all healthy ingredients, including waffles, strawberries, raisins, pita, bananas and much more, as well as entertainment from the author, who is a jazz musician. Signed copies of the book will be available for purchase. Cost per participant is $1. Register at customer service or online at www.fairwaymarket.com.

This promises to be a fun event – hope to see you there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Day on the Lake

Ever wonder what it would be like to live on a lake? Awaking each morning to a picturesque view out your bedroom window would probably feel like being on a perpetual vacation. To celebrate the end of summer we spent the day at our friends’ lake house and it definitely felt like a mini holiday.

The first thing the boys did when they saw the canoe was run full speed ahead with their fishing gear and jump in. With Brian as captain they headed out, their little heads peaking up from oversized life jackets. From afar it looked like a Norman Rockwell painting. But I knew better. I strongly suspected Brian was dodging fishing hooks, swatting mosquitoes, and screaming at them not to rock the boat.

But sitting on the deck, drink in hand, enjoying the incredible view, it was a very sweet scene. Just as the boys made a b-line to the canoe, I made a b-line to the food. What can I say? We all have our priorities. My friend’s mother had made her delicious meatballs that were ready and waiting for the boys the minute their boat was docked. Legend has it the first time Matthew tried these meatballs he ate 7 in 7 minutes.

Six fish were caught that day and Brian only got one hook in his hand!

Asian Meatballs w/Carrot Noodles (recipe inspired by Lyn’s Mom)

Ingredients

For the meatballs:

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 Tbsp ginger, grated

¼ cup scallions, finely chopped

2 Tbsp soy sauce, low sodium

2 Tbsp brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp sesame oil

¼ tsp salt

½ cup Panko breadcrumbs

1 lb. ground turkey (or chicken, or beef)

Teriyaki sauce, for drizzling

Sesame seeds, optional

For the carrots:

4 large carrots, peeled

2 tsp sesame oil

Salt & pepper

1 Tbsp teriyaki sauce

Method:

For the meatballs:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean-up, or lightly brush the baking sheet with cooking oil.

In a large mixing bowl combine the first eight ingredients.

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Add in the breadcrumbs and mix well. Then add the turkey to the breadcrumb mixture and mix until just combined. Using your hands is the best method for this step. Be careful not to over mix the meat.

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Form into small meatballs, about 1” diameter. Place on baking sheet and bake for approximately 20 minutes until cooked through.

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For the carrots:

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the carrots into long ribbons. Place on a baking sheet and toss with the sesame oil. Lightly season with salt and pepper.

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Place in oven for approximately 15 minutes until carrots lose some of their moisture. Remove from oven and toss with the teriyaki sauce.

Top the carrot noodles with meatballs. Drizzle with teriyaki sauce, sprinkle with sesame seeds and break out the chop sticks.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “Not the same, but it’s super good”

Liam (age 5): “It’s a little medium. At least I tried a carrot”

Dylan (age 5): “Eh, the flavor doesn’t taste good but I tried a carrot too”

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For more glimpses of life on the lake read my friend Lyn’s blog, PinotbyLyn