Two-year-olds and eating well and going to bed


I have SO forgotten what it's like to live with a two-year-old. As such, this is what I feel like right now.



Two-year-olds are adorable but they are very messy and often loud, despite having relatively few words. They like to drag food around the house with them, discarding like tiny Hansels bits and pieces as they go. Unlike Hansel, no toddler intends to return along his meandering path, not least with a dustbuster. 

I adore my precious nephew, but I have forgotten about tee-tee fountains and the utter delight of made up names for things. I am now hazy on obsessions with things like helicopters and the associated sound effects that go along with frequent reminders of them. Dunh-dunh-dunh-dunh say the chopper blades. 

Memories of the very emphatic ways that two-year-olds can express "No!" burbled up from the recesses of my mind in recent days. I was reminded of the genius of Mo Willems describing a melting down toddler as "going boneless" in Knuffle Bunny. If ever I describe anything so perfectly, I'll feel accomplished to the max.

I have somewhat forgotten about watching young tots learn stuff. How they practice and practice and then one day say "turtle" in the most endearing "tuh-tle" way. And there is nothing like the gut laugh of a little one. I love, love, and will do anything for the moments my boys still guffaw like toddlers do.

Mom left yesterday, and before taking Elia and Leone to the airport this afternoon, we had a little birthday party (Leone likes Baked & Wired cupcakes as much as we do) as he is officially 2 in a few weeks. It seems like a long jump from here:

to here:

Beautiful mama and darling nephew!

Beautiful mama and darling nephew!

Last night, I cooked dinner, and Tom and I raised a glass to Elia. She is doing such a good job in motherhood, and I am so proud of her. We ate well, watched the debate (if by debate one means a large, rude child following a thoughtful candidate around stage and lying), and then tucked in. 

Don't those sunchokes look good?? Yum!!! Pan-roasted and then dressed with rosemary brown butter and aged Balsamic (thank you, Bon Appetit). We also had salmon and brussels sprouts and, duh, this.

Favorite summer salad, plum-basil jam

Y'all, this salad is my go-to, cat's meow right now. I have at least one bowl every day! Have you made or are you already obsessed with watermelon- and feta-based salads? I like them with mint and aged balsamic; with a serrano-lime vinaigrette a la Hugh Acheson; with pistachios, mint, olive oil and Maldon salt; with tomatoes and arugula; and so on. Watermelon and feta are such a natural, winning pair. They love each other and make a terrifically sweet-salty foundation for many extras that float your boat.

Before digging in to one of those today, I made a batch of my plum-basil jam. I love this recipe. Just three ingredients meld magically over heat and what results is a beautiful coalescence that's at once sweet, tart and herbaceous. Beautiful!

Wednesday adieu

What a whirlwind was today! Good but whew! Coffee with a friend I see too rarely, a long talk with my sister which is also too infrequent an occurrence, 5 quarts of sour cherries pitted, the quickest trip to the gym you ever did see, a date with each of my dear sons, and some dinner. You cannot(!) go wrong with this simple watermelon salad: steaky slices of fruit, feta, mint and aged balsamic. Perhaps a little fresh pepper but otherwise nothing more, nothing less. Simplicity at its best! In addition, this kale and sugar snap salad was delicious, a solid riff on a recipe from today's NYT Dining section as we didn't have the two primary dressing ingredients. Kitchen improv! Whoo-hoo! Did you know that the umami in ground dried mushrooms makes them a solid substitute for miso paste? Nice! Isn't it positively alive with glow and health?! And what a beautiful evening, yes?