Living Clean: Kids in the Kitchen


food drink family  Living Clean: Kids in the Kitchen
food drink family  Living Clean: Kids in the Kitchen
food drink family  Living Clean: Kids in the Kitchen
food drink family  Living Clean: Kids in the Kitchen

I’m often guilty of underestimating what Hudson can do to help. Sometimes it just doesn’t cross my mind to ask.

At three, he’s ready to do more tasks on his own every day. Or, occasionally, as a team. (“We’re a team! Right, Mommy?”) I’m excited to spend more time in the kitchen together.

Studies have shown that children are much less likely to reject foods they help prepare themselves—and so cooking can be a wonderful way to expose them to new flavors, new skills, and new responsibilities (like cleaning up). We didn’t really broaden his flavor horizon this time around—dessert!—but I’d been eager to try Gâteau au Yaourt (French Yogurt Cake) with him.

food drink family  Living Clean: Kids in the Kitchen
food drink family  Living Clean: Kids in the Kitchen

Gâteau au Yaourt is a popular goûter (or afternoon snack) in France, rumored to be one of the first things children there bake. The idea is that (almost) the entire recipe can be made off the measure of a 1/2-cup yogurt container.

I drew the outline of the recipe on our chalkboard for Hudson:

  • 1 serving yogurt (1 serving is one  4.75-oz yogurt cup in this case)
  • 1 serving oil
  • 2 servings sugar
  • 3 servings flour
  • 3 small eggs (we used two extra-large)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla (my yogurt was vanilla flavored, so I skipped this)

Here are two, kid-friendly printable versions of the recipe: First, Ingredients only.  Second, with quantities. (You can laminate them for your kids!)

You just combine all of the ingredients. Mix until smooth, and pour into a well-buttered 9″ baking dish. Ours took just shy of 30 minutes at 350 degrees to be done, but I’d suggest checking it with the clean-fork-test as soon as you smell it.

food drink family  Living Clean: Kids in the Kitchen
food drink family  Living Clean: Kids in the Kitchen

I set out all of the ingredients (like a proper sous-chef) and then showed him the recipe on the chalkboard. Each time we started a step, I asked him to count how many servings we needed based on the illustration.

We washed our hands and got started…

I had to help a bit a few times (scraping the last of the ingredients out of the jar after each dump; pouring into the jar from heavy bags or boxes—though he could have spooned things in himself; and cracking eggs), and I did all of the oven-related steps.

But he even did a fantastic job cracking the eggs. Tip: I had him use a separate bowl in case some shell made it’s way in (it did) and told him to open the egg like a book.

food drink family  Living Clean: Kids in the Kitchen

Of course, after handling eggs we washed our hands again. I like this foaming hand wash from Method because he likes all of the bubbles and can easily use it himself (and he’s less likely to over-pump).

food drink family  Living Clean: Kids in the Kitchen
food drink family  Living Clean: Kids in the Kitchen

Don’t you love those squishy little toddler wrists? (I do!)

He poured all of the batter into the pan. (Raw eggs means no licking the bowl, but he was so engaged he forgot to ask!) And while we waited for the cake to bake, we practiced our clean-up skills.

We didn’t make too much of a mess, so a little dish soap and water was all we needed to tackle the counter clean-up.

You’ll recall that we’ve committed ourselves to exclusively using products from the newly curated Made to Matter, Handpicked by TargetTM  (which is convenient since I’m already there all the time), so I’ve been especially happy to let Hudson help me clean-up knowing that he’s using non-toxic household goods throughout the kitchen.

food drink family  Living Clean: Kids in the Kitchen
food drink family  Living Clean: Kids in the Kitchen
food drink family  Living Clean: Kids in the Kitchen

The hardest part of all was waiting. We tried the cake by itself, first. Delicious! It was dense but not heavy at all. It’s a little bit sweet, but not saccharine—just right. It reminded me so much of an olive oil cake that I might try using olive oil in place of canola oil next time. Really, there’s heaps of potential here: you could frost it, bake fruit into it, top it with lemon curd or whipped cream and lemon zest…

Keeping with the jar of yogurt theme, we let Hudson top his with more of the vanilla yogurt and some berries. I thought the whole affair was wonderful—and so did he! I could tell he was proud of the cake (which he really did make almost all by himself), especially when he saw how badly Skyler wanted to try it, too.

food drink family  Living Clean: Kids in the Kitchen
food drink family  Living Clean: Kids in the Kitchen
food drink family  Living Clean: Kids in the Kitchen

food drink family  Living Clean: Kids in the Kitchen This post is sponsored by TargetThe Made To Matter line has been handpicked by Target to bring you brands that make things better for your you, your family, and the place we all call home.

We’re excited to continue using these Method and Seventh Generation products in our home. Thank you for following along with this series of Living Clean posts. And thank you to Target for supporting Hither & Thither!

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Ricotta-Stuffed Squash Blossoms (& Friday Links)


food drink  Ricotta Stuffed Squash Blossoms (& Friday Links)

Our farmer’s market is filled with Squash Blossoms (or Zucchini Flowers) right now. They look incredible—and so tempting—but I find I often let them languish after I bring them home. So here’s a recipe from Donna Hay, to get us all inspired.

You’ll need Squash Blossoms (courgette), ricotta, lemon, salt, basil, and pecorino (and some optional chili flakes). You’ll also need  some vegetable oil, cornstarch, and flour for frying.

Of course, there’s also Squash-blossom pizza!

Some other items of note… 


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The Rebel Within


uncategorized food drink  The Rebel Within

We just got back from a weekend in San Francisco, and I finally got to try a Rebel Within muffin at Craftsman & Wolves, a pâtisserie in the Mission. Every other time I’ve swung by, the soft-cooked-egg filled, sausage, chive, Asiago and Parmesan cheese-speckled muffin has been sold out.

Justifiably famous. That’s my verdict.

uncategorized food drink  The Rebel Within

These guys did an impressive job trying to replicate it.

P.S. A weekend in SF without the kids; Vintage Shopping in SF; and How to ride a Cable Car.

[Photos: top, mine; bottom, Craftsman & Wolves]

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Cutest Cat Cake (and Friday links)


uncategorized food drink  Cutest Cat Cake (and Friday links)

How cute is this cake?! Molly Yeh (of My Name is Yeh) made it using Betty Crocker cake mix, some coconut shreds, some marzipan, a little food coloring, and a touch of spaghetti. So simple and sweet!

Which reminds me… Hudson’s third birthday is right around the corner. Better get cracking on that. Any favorite ideas for a third birthday?

Have a great weekend!

In the meantime, some items worth a second look… 


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Quick Salad Cheat


uncategorized food drink  Quick Salad Cheat
uncategorized food drink  Quick Salad Cheat
With the days longer and the evenings warmer, we’ve been more likely to find ourselves surprised by the hour and in need of a last-minute dinner plan—for ourselves and for sharing with friends.

Rotisserie chicken and salad is always my go-to, and I’ve been using the simplest cheat for a spur-of-the-moment, no-brainer (but looks like you thought about it) salad.

uncategorized food drink  Quick Salad Cheat

The trick? It’s almost too simple to warrant sharing, but it’s also sort of awesome: mix a fresh bag of greens (or a freshly washed bunch) with a pre-made deli salad. Done.

This all came about because, roughly a month ago, it came to my attention that I was completely failing at eating healthy lunches. Basically, while Hudson was off at preschool for a few hours, and Skyler was sleeping, I would choose working on the computer, checking email, running errands, combing out my bedhead… anything… over putting thought into a real lunch. Then, by 3pm, when they both were back asleep, I’d realize I was starving and would seek out ice cream. Not a good scene.

I can’t say that I’ve completely conquered my bad habits, but the most reliable fix was when I’d fill the fridge with a few boxes of pre-made salad combinations. I know, I know: it’s so easy to do yourself (and I’m going to work on that, too) but somehow a cold salad for lunch was so much more appealing when someone else made it.

uncategorized food drink  Quick Salad Cheat

This particular one is from Fresh & Easy—a new take on the neighborhood market, known best perhaps for their Ready-to-Cook line of dinners (also super convenient for busy nights); they’re great about offering lots of options for the time-starved. I learned that they have a nice range of these pre-made salads.

(Side note: Too bad there’s no room in my cart for anything with two kids these days! Is this how everyone else shops with both?)

uncategorized food drink  Quick Salad Cheat

uncategorized food drink  Quick Salad Cheat

I chose the Greek in this case. Generally, my philosophy on this is: if you’re going to be making ingredients go further, look for the salads with plenty of high-calorie add-ins (like olives, cheese, or nuts). And if it were just for my family, I might sub a bag of spinach for the bag of romaine to up the nutrition.

Then, just add olive oil, salt, and pepper, pouring the oil into the container left from whatever dressing they provided (you can be sure to get every last drop of theirs and doubling this will generally be a good serving size for dressing). You can always opt to add more of one thing, squeeze some fresh lemon or add a dash of vinegar, if you like.

This way you have a range of creative ingredients in your dinner salad, but without having had to do any chopping or planning.

uncategorized food drink  Quick Salad Cheat
uncategorized food drink  Quick Salad Cheat

Thank you to Fresh & Easy for sponsoring this post and supporting Hither & Thither!

Fresh & Easy thinks that fresh, wholesome food should be accessible and affordable to everyone. They offer a range of their own brand products and freshly prepared meals, in addition to other favorite top name brands in smarter and smaller stores. If it has the Fresh & Easy name on it, it’s guaranteed to be free from artificial colors and flavors, transfats, high-fructose corn syrup or any other hidden nasties that are out there. Find one near you.

P.S. More favorite salads: Simple summer squash, Blood Orange, and a Watermelon Salad.

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Local Eats: Sol Puerto Rican Cuisine


uncategorized food drink  Local Eats: Sol Puerto Rican Cuisine

uncategorized food drink  Local Eats: Sol Puerto Rican Cuisine

uncategorized food drink  Local Eats: Sol Puerto Rican Cuisine
uncategorized food drink  Local Eats: Sol Puerto Rican Cuisine

uncategorized food drink  Local Eats: Sol Puerto Rican Cuisine

I’ve been meaning to post about this super-colorful restaurant for a while now (as you can possibly guess by how old Hudson looks in the photo below). Ever since my friend Emarie took me, any time we’re anywhere nearby, I try to justify a detour to eat Puerto Rican food at Sol in San Rafael. Comfort food from the Caribbean might be one way to describe the menu. Tostones and maduros (savory and sweet plantains), pressed bistec and Cubano sandwiches, chicken and pink beans,  and pan-fried pork chops are on offer alongside big glasses of limonada fresca and mango-orange iced tea, and bins of coconut and sweet molasses sodas. All I know is that I want to go in a big group next time so that I can sample more of the menu.

uncategorized food drink  Local Eats: Sol Puerto Rican Cuisine

uncategorized food drink  Local Eats: Sol Puerto Rican Cuisine

There’s almost always a line at the restaurant (where you order, cafeteria-style, at the counter), so it’s helpful to know you can get everything to-go next door.

Sol Food Puerto Rican Cuisine
San Rafael, CA

P.S. Some posts on visiting Puerto Rico: a true find in Old San Juan, seeing Old San Juan in a day or two, and enjoying San Juan and El Yunque National Forest after a Caribbean cruise.

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Ice Cream in One Minute.


uncategorized food drink  Ice Cream in One Minute.

Okay, so you still do have to make the ice cream base but this looks so fun!!
It’s called a Chef’n Sweet Spot Ice Cream Maker—you move the creamy base around like you’re scrambling eggs, only your work surface is frosty.

[Video via Bon Appetit]

P.S. How to make your own Magic Shell topping, Mint Chip Frozen Greek Yogurt, and Frozen Chocolate-dipped Bananas.

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Easy Squash Salad for Summer


food drink  Easy Squash Salad for Summer

Before you know it, market stands and CSA boxes will be filling up with summer squash, and you’ll be looking for another way to grill zucchini. Here’s my favorite simple, no-cook, summer squash salad.

Yellow squash and zucchini. Figure you’ll need one small squash per person sharing.
Baby arugula. Roughly 1/2-cup for each small squash—or however much you like, really.
Lemon. Lots. Figure one for every two people.
Olive oil for dressing.
Pecorino (or Parmesan)
Salt and pepper

Zest and juice your lemons.
Combine equal parts olive oil and fresh lemon juice with zest.
Slice your squash into delicate, thin strips. Use a vegetable peeler (or a mandoline, if you have one).
Gently toss your arugula and squash in lemon dressing. Arrange with squash visible on top.
Season generously with salt, pepper, and shaved cheese.

(Adapted from Home Cooking with Jean-Georgesfood drink  Easy Squash Salad for Summer )

P.S. A shaved asparagus salad. And my favorite way to eat an egg.

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Peels Muffin

Napa: Lunch at Redd, Yountville


travel food drink california  Napa: Lunch at Redd, Yountville
travel food drink california  Napa: Lunch at Redd, Yountville

Earlier this month, over the mother’s day weekend, Aron and I drove into Yountville (a little town in Napa that you may have heard of thanks to some fella named Thomas Keller) and had an anniversary lunch at Redd.

Redd won me over with the best mocktail (and a delicious meal) when I was pregnant with Hudson. This was the first time we’d been back, and I still loved it. The menu is a bit eclectic—many dishes have a bit of an Asian-fusion aspect whereas others are steadfastly European—but everything we’ve had has been great. I was especially excited about indulging in things like hamachi sashimi and tuna tartare (their take is amazing), oysters and (real) cocktails—the sorts of things that had been off limits last time (and throughout most of the past year).

But I was also reminded what a pleasure it is to indulge in a special midday meal.


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On the way to dinner

How to make Disney’s Dole Whips (and Friday links)


food drink  How to make Disneys Dole Whips (and Friday links)

In all my years of visiting Disneyland (and those few summer trips to DisneyWorld), I’d never had that most-raved-about treat, the Dole Whip until now. I was surprised to find that the pineapple soft serve concoction lived up to the hype!

We’re headed back from our week in Florida, where our time was divided between the Magic Kingdom and the American Urologic Association’s annual meeting (or at least Aron’s was). And I may just have to try this copycat recipe for Disney’s Dole Whip sometime when we get back.

I also had fun reading the commentary about kids on flights while we were away. I wished I’d had more time to join the conversation, and hope to do so more later. Thank you for chiming in!

Here’s some more food for thought. A few links for the long weekend…

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Picking Blackberries


food drink  Picking Blackberries

food drink  Picking Blackberries

food drink  Picking Blackberries

Aron grew up picking blackberries from his mother’s garden. He remembers learning how to tell when a blackberry is truly ripe (black, with a brownish top at the stem, that comes off the vine without requiring much effort); he remembers not being able to keep many berries in his basket; he remembers making blackberry jam. He didn’t used to like the seeds, so his mother would use a food processor to separate them. He’d watch and wait for the temperature to rise to the point that they would pour parafin over the top to seal the jam and then find the cupboards filled with jars of jam.

The best, he recounts, is when she would make blackberry ice cream. It was the only ice cream he liked.

So it’s pretty awesome that our kids will get to pick blackberries in her garden now, too.


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Celebrate! (and Friday links)


food drink  Celebrate! (and Friday links)

There’s a lot to celebrate lately. Perhaps most notably, one of our dear friends came home from a 6-1/2-month deployment in Afghanistan on Monday and we are all welcoming him back tonight with a picnic in the park. He served as a surgeon and his Instagram account was often so inspiring (and eye-opening). He wrote letters to each of his two daughters every day he was away, and I think all of his family’s friends who saw photos of him being welcomed by them and by his lovely, 8-month-pregnant wife, at the airport couldn’t help but be misty-eyed. It’s a relief to have him back.

And, on a lighter note, it’s nearly Cinco de Mayo! Time for fish tacos, guacamole, grilled corn with lime and cotija cheese, spicy Micheladas, and these delicious-looking grapefruit margaritas!

Erin and her team at Apartment 34 shared this take on the classic Mexican drink and it looks incredible! Whereas most margaritas follow a 3/2/1 recipe (3 parts tequila, 2 parts triple sec or cointreau, 1 part lime), this one reduces the alcohol a bit and ups the citrus—with more lime and the addition of grapefruit. See the recipe.

Will you be doing anything to celebrate?

Here’s some links for your weekend… 


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Simple Olive Garland centerpiece


food drink  Simple Olive Garland centerpiece

food drink  Simple Olive Garland centerpiece

The Sunday evening before last, a few of us hosted a dinner for a girlfriend who is expecting. She and her husband already have two adorable daughters (whom Hudson is wild about) and so she specifically asked for an un-shower-like celebration. I thought it might help to keep the centerpiece green, as opposed to setting out flowers. Pretty, but not precious.

The thing is, I’m kind of terrible when it comes to arranging flowers, so it was really just an excuse to go out and buy a garland! I went to the local florist and showed them some pictures. They could do something nice using green filler, but the cost was going to be pretty high owing to labor. Luckily, the young woman I talked to assured me I could do it myself and gave me a quick tutorial and sold me some some paddle wire. Here’s what I learned:


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Homeade (giant) Oreos


food drink  Homeade (giant) Oreos

Okay, so obviously I didn’t make that one.

But here’s the story: when Aron and I lived in Los Angeles, we would walk a few blocks down to The Grove and the Old Farmer’s Market to hang out in Barnes and Noble, grab a “Farmeo” cookie at a place called The Farm, and catch a movie. Aron was particularly obsessed with the Farmeos, which were essentially giant Oreos. They looked a lot like Whoopie Pies, if you’ve had one of those, but the cookies were slightly firmer and the filling was more like a buttercream but with that telling grit and mouthfeel of an Oreo. When we moved away he confessed how much he missed them and, so, one Christmas when I flew home to Long Beach without him, I made a point to visit the Grove and fly him home a Farmeo cookie.

However, if you know Aron, you know he has the (annoying) skill of delaying gratification when it comes to sweets and will make things like chocolate bars last for insane stretches. It’s annoying because I’ve usually scarfed my half down in the space of minutes and then have to watch him enjoy his for what feels like an eternity. So that Farmeo sat on the counter of our apartment for long enough that a mouse came and finished it for him! Ha! If it wasn’t the knowledge that we had had a mouse in our kitchen, I would have felt justice was done.

Since then, The Farm has closed and we’ve been searching for an equivalent to the Farmeo since. (Others have looked comparable, but they’ve never been as good!) Clearly I will have to figure out how to make them myself.

food drink  Homeade (giant) Oreos

food drink  Homeade (giant) Oreos

So when, a couple of nights ago, I spied a recipe for homemade Oreo cream stuffed brownies (pictured) with a how-to for Oreo filling, I immediately went to the store and bought my first-ever tub of Crisco and tried making the cream filling. So easy and spot-on. The secret, in my opinion, is basically making a buttercream and adding granulated sugar! I would wager you could get great results with my frosting-for-one recipe, too—just add about 1/4-tsp of granulated sugar.

Next up is are the cookies, but I also picked up a store-made fudge brownie to slice in half and the whole combination came pretty darn close to the original.

Potential Farmeo recipe and a way to get all the Oreo cream filling you want. Danger, danger.

P.S. On sharing desserts with Aron. And how to make your own Magic Shell.

[Top photo mine from Moustache bakery (not the Farm, sadly); bottom two by Cookies and Cups]

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Local Eats: Ella in Sacramento


food drink  Local Eats: Ella in Sacramento

food drink  Local Eats: Ella in Sacramento

I’ll be the first to admit that we haven’t given Sacramento very much attention since moving nearby. Aron and I have more often gone in the other direction for date nights if we’re up for driving (to nearby Winters, slightly-further Napa, and within-reach San Francisco) or looked close-by in Davis.

But one of our very first after moving out here took us to Ella—Aron planned dinner and a show at a local cabaret—and I’d say it’s been my favorite restaurant in the area (worthy of a driving destination) ever since.


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Wine tasting 101


food drink  Wine tasting 101

food drink  Wine tasting 101

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! When we were living in New York, I’d always try to sneak out of work for a few hours around lunch to see some of the parade. I loved feeling the beat of drums and the sounds of bagpipes echoing in my chest. And all that plaid! This year there seem to be some questions about the inclusivity of the event, so rather than share some favorite photos from past parades I thought it might be more appropriate to share some photos from a different New York-inspired activity. New York Times, that is.

We embarked on “wine school” last night with some friends. Eric Asimov, the food & drink critic for the Times, invited readers to “Get Out [their] Corkscrew” and started tasting emblematic wines—the idea being to really get to know one distinct type of wine each month. So last night, instead of sipping Guinness, we sat down to taste a classic Bordeaux.

food drink  Wine tasting 101

I love anything that involves pseudo-scientific rigger and food, but this was particularly fun. Here’s the article, and the plan.

Anyway, regarding the St. Patrick’s Day parade: in looking back, I found that I wrote this on Hudson’s Nine Month photo post about one year’s celebration…

“We started the month on St. Patrick’s Day, a ridiculous scene wherein we made the mistake of trying to see the parade from Central Park and ended up fleeing the rowdy crowds while trying to keep Hudson asleep in the stroller. That meant frantic side-of-the-street changes (as another group of chanting drunk students would approach) until we ended up walking down First Avenue past the UN with Aron pulling the stroller backwards to keep the high sun off Hudson’s face. I took a picture of the struggle for when I’m tempted to recount glory days and only remember what was awesome about having a baby in the city. I can pull it out and say ‘Are you sure?’”

Haha. A good dose of reality. Could come in handy on those days I take Skyler on walks and inevitably miss passing by Everyman Espresso, Madewell, and at least four H&Ms on the way to (our) Central Park.

P.S. Our Ireland Travelogue

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Pain au Chocolat

Making Maple Almond Butter


food drink  Making Maple Almond Butter

food drink  Making Maple Almond Butter

Have you tried Justin’s Maple Almond Butterfood drink  Making Maple Almond Butter ? It has to be one the most perfect flavors out there these days. We get Hudson the Classic Almond butter for his lunches and keep the maple-tinged stuff for ourselves. I find myself digging out a spoonful to savor while I’m making coffee (usually while swaying or slightly bouncing Skyler).

However, Hudson’s favorite meal in the world is probably bananas and nut butter, and—if I’m more patient—this is how I like to enjoy it best, too.

I posted an image of the good stuff on Instagram a while back and Nicole, of the lovely food blog Dula Notes, mentioned that she had made her own—and that it was just as good!

At around $11/jar (and maybe higher as almonds rise in cost), I had to give it a try…


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