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.

A newly published piece and some fantastic food

Each November, Fox News online produces Thankful Nation, a segment featuring essays from and interviews with celebrities and regular folks. I believe that gratitude transcends ideology and am sincerely thrilled to join the Thankful Nation crew by sharing this essay about Nanny. Thank you to everyone -friends, family, and strangers alike- for the wonderful notes and comments throughout today. I’m happy so many of you have memories of blackberry pie too.

The past two days have reminded me what real cold feels like. The kind that cuts through your clothes and slices straight to your bones. The kind that leaves you longing for a warm fire and a big bowl of steaming soup.

Yesterday, Oliver and I bundled up and spent nearly two hours at the farmers market. He loves being there like I do: fully and with patient enthusiasm. He wolfed down a fresh-from-the-wood-oven margherita pizza. He delighted in the "longest eclair" the French bakers had, adding chocolate cream to the tomato sauce spotting the canvas also known as his face. He helped me choose sunchokes (bottom right) and turnips (bottom left), sampled apples and cider too. He flirted with our friend at the butcher's stall. We helped hands and laughed the whole time.

Using most of the sunchokes this evening, I did make soup: a huge vat (because it freezes well) of my sublime Leeky Sunchoke Bisque which I look forward to each year and which never disappoints. This plus some of this gorgeous bread made a hearty, warming, lip-smacking dinner tonight. Even Tom didn't balk about the absence of any meat.

Leeky Sunchoke Bisque

Leeky Sunchoke Bisque

Now, we are jumping lanes here but it's still food-related. 

Last October, when I met some writer friends in New Mexico, I learned a bit about using dried red chiles to make sauce. I've had a gorgeous homemade ristra of NM chiles hanging and drying in my pantry window, and I pluck from it when the mood strikes. It's nearly 75% gone now and the peppers are marvelous as ever. Next time I make these chili tacos, I'll write down my recipe because they are insanely satisfying.

turkey, black bean, red chile tacos

turkey, black bean, red chile tacos

All to say that we've been eating well, and I'm glad about it. 

Soup, salad, shrimp and cat

So, I'm looking out my kitchen window a few days ago, and I see this: Nutmeg scaling the roof of the garage. After this photo was snapped, he considered throwing himself into that forked tree -purposefully and deftly of course- but decided instead to perch on the very spine of that roof and sit a spell. Not two minutes later he was running pell-mell down the slope and then he disappeared. I was worried until a friend said, "Well, you don't often see cat skeletons in trees." Nutmeg showed up at the front door of our home a half-hour later.

Cats. It's all that can be said. And I love them, and him, for that. He is so damn sure of himself!

Hubs has worked late every night since whenever I last saw him. I think that was Sunday. Poor guy caught my cold and then gets slammed. Because I'm Mrs. Silver Lining this week (except for a marginal breakdown yesterday afternoon; different story for different time), I decided to make one of my favorite soups and have a vegetarian friend over for lunch as she would enjoy it so very much more than my carnivorous T.

This Leeky Sunchoke Bisque did not disappoint because it never does. It's just a damn good recipe of which I'm proud, not least because it always reminds me of why I save my Parmesan and pecorino rinds and how wise that is. Mmm...cheesiness! Plus sunchokes (aka Jerusalem artichokes; they are NOT artichokes so this moniker is both odd and misleading.), leeks, shallots, nutmeg, buttermilk and so on.

Unfortunately, this is not a pretty soup, but imagine the inner glow of health and hale you get with each bite. It's enormous!

I also made some bread. Though my friend said it was good, I imagined I'd forgotten to put the dough in loaf pan and had, instead, lined up some soggy hockey pucks. Mon dieu. I brought some to the boys at pick-up and they were thrilled. Until they took a bite.

"Mom, this bread is HARD."

"Yeah, it lacks moisture. Or something."

"Maybe if I hit it with a cheese hammer?!"

What, pray tell, is a cheese hammer? Oliver swears he meant sledge hammer but forgot the first word. The point remains, the bread was a #fail. Hilarious.

Then the breakdown occurred -SOS- and then I made my beloved farro salad with gold beets and pecans and feta and herby oil. Then I made some browned-butter and pimenton shrimp and felt myself settling back into an even keel.

As I sat quietly with my newspaper and this fine meal and some wine, I read about the insane measles outbreak and cursed the anti-vaxxers. I sipped some wine, turned the page and read an incredible essay so as to let the ire go. Nutmeg purred at my ankles and I called it a day.