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.

Sunchokes and the story

Yesterday, I received the newest issue of Bon Appétit and immediately began flipping through. The recipe for Crispy Jerusalem Artichokes with Aged Balsamic (page 100 if you're a subscriber or bought this issue) screamed out to me: "MAKE me tonight! Don't you remember you have some sunchokes in the fridge?" I have waxed rhapsodic about Jerusalem artichokes, aka sunchokes, before. Frequently, in fact. I love them. Because forewarned is forearmed, I simply must remind you that they are also known as fartichokes for a reason. A real big reason. If I were you, I would not eat this delectable tuber before an important meeting or a date with someone to whom you aren't married.

If you aren't doing either of those things, go for the gold with this fabulous vegetable. I like to roast them simply, make a mash or incorporate them into my marvelous leeky sunchoke bisque. Last night, however, I went the Bon App route and am so glad I did. Theirs is an incredibly simple, seriously delicious recipe, and though I halved the recipe such that I made just four servings, I ate the entire bowl as my entree. Butter + rosemary + aged balsamic atop root veggies? Ohmahgah.

I was a bit short on sunchokes so tossed some cauliflower in to make up the difference. This is a win-win scenario. Observe the glowing, caramelized mess of yum below.

I have not forgotten about the story I wanted to share. It began at last December's Food52 holiday potluck here in DC. In addition to each bringing a dish to eat at the party, the fete was also a cookie exchange. Since I'm usually not big on cookies, I chose to make my aunt's ridiculously good rum ball recipe for a sweet change of pace.

As if often the case with powdered sugar, it benefits from being sifted before use because it tends to clump and those damn sugar balls seem impervious to stirring, regardless of how vigorously you do so. I sifted powdered sugar 'til my arms ached, cup after cup of fine snow raining down into the mixing bowl into which I'd already put crumbled vanilla wafers, chocolate, rum, crushed walnuts and corn syrup, a sticky biz to be sure.

When I finally set my sifter down, the handle promptly fell off, and I started "praying" that the tiny ball-bearing-like nut that held the handle to the sifter was not in my rum ball dough.

"What are the chances? What are the odds?" I beseeched the culinary heavens. But just in case, I rolled those rum balls with extraordinary, unprecedented care, inspecting each tablespoon of batter as if I were Sherlock in a bakery.

Several days later, at the party (rum balls get better over time, y'all), I'd forgotten all about the "issue" and had a ball seeing old friends and meeting new ones: EmilyC, cookbookchick (author of the Batsaria), calendargirl... Finally, I packed my share of cookies and headed home.

A day or two later, I received a message from cookbookchick. It was the loveliest message ever, not least because in enjoying her portion of my rum balls, she found my sifter's missing bit. I.was.horrified.

"OHMYGOD, are your teeth OK? I am SO sorry. I am MORTIFIED."

"Don't worry. I'm Greek. We have strong teeth. I knew you'd be mortified but don't worry, I just wanted to send your piece back."

A) Go Greeks and your teeth, and B) How nice is this?

She did return the could-have-cracked-your-molar metal, and I made Tom epoxy it to the sifter.

You connect with people a bit more deeply in the funniest of ways, eh? Thank you, S!

One of the best soups I've ever made

Three cheers and an amen for this new souply creation of mine. Swear to god I'm already looking forward to eating more and making it again. It came about as I attempted to warm my cold self, clean out my fridge, and feel truly sated, and I must say it's a huge success on all counts! Literally chock full of leeks, onions and sunchokes, those flavors are buttressed by roasted garlic, thyme, nutmeg, pecorino and buttermilk. I cooked everything relatively slowly, in roughly three layers, and immersion blended at the end for a smooth yet still slightly textured mouth-feel. Some roasted and chopped chestnuts topped off my bowl, but these are optional so don't fret if you want no part of them.

leeks, onions and thymeLeeky Sunchoke Bisque

I truly can't imagine a better meal on a cold night. Off to write up the recipe so as not to forget a thing. It'll be in Soups as Leeky Sunchoke Bisque.