Category: <span>Tiny Tastebuds</span>

Actually, I am only partially kidding. I will of course play with you if you are courteous and play fair [at least most of the time]. What I mean is … when did it become appropriate/acceptable/required/expected for parents or caregivers to engage children at all the times of their play? Why they do that? Why is it necessary?

Everyone engages children differently. We all have our styles and sometimes the style is to just really, really engage and play. I notice a change in Sophia when she has spent a few hours or more  actively engaged and playing with others (older children or adults). She is irritable, converses less, does not easily engage in creative play on her own, and just follows along until “the point of no return” — an outburst followed by tears signifying she’s tired and ready for sleep.

My husband and I have made a conscious effort to engender creativity through encouragement of self play. What do I mean by that? We simply let her lead, often engaging her and then stepping back and just observing. Our otherwise uninterrupted presence signifies to Sophia that we are available and willing to play but really, she’s in charge. I am of course realistic and understand that it is not possible to expect her to play on her own for hours. I do think that 15 minutes of uninterrupted play is a worthwhile goal given her age and we’re working toward that.

She’s big into cooking and feeding her stuffed animals and dolls lately. It does appear that everyone wants cake a lot more than soup or chicken nuggets in her play kitchen :-). Of course we take what we learn in the play kitchen and use it in Mama’s kitchen. Here she is, with her constant companion Froggy, helping make her dinner (zucchini pancakes with scallion).


Culinary Adventures Tiny Tastebuds

Why is it that workdays are always warm and sunny and weekends seem to be cool and rainy? What’s a gal to do when faced with a rainy day and a toddler with cabin fever at home? Fiery fiesta fare to brighten spirits and warm the bellies.


On the menu was mexican fiesta salad (the recipe here), home-made carnitas (the recipe here),
Jicama Jicama, mango and orange salad,


pickled onions (recipe here), and guacamole. Warm corn tortillas on the side … made for a perfect dinner. Oh and in case you’re wondering: Sophia is a big fan of her Mama’s guacamole and carnitas. We served the carnitas with sweet potato for her. Its hard chewing those crispy bits when you’re working with 7.15 teeth. 😉

Cookery Hubby Cooks Tiny Tastebuds

Imagine my horror if I found out my child wasn’t an adventurous eater! Just thinking about it makes me anxious and I imagine my dining days filled with chicken nuggets and tater tots. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Anyway… since Sophia is now sporting 7.10 teeth (that’s seven and 1/10th :-)), we are working on expanding her culinary palette. The current requirements are that it is flavorful, but not too spicy (some spice is okay), and that it isn’t too dry, too crispy or too dense. May I present to you Orzo in shallot and lemon cream sauce with smoked salmon — Sophia’s dinner yesterday.

Yummy orzo

Cookery Flavors Tiny Tastebuds

Cookery Culinary Adventures Tiny Tastebuds

Let me guess: you couldn’t even imagine that I could pull out a blog entry about nothing other then ketchup. Oh but I can and I did :-).

Before I delve into the actual blog, I’ll refresh your mind with the fact that ketchup (the likes of Heinz and those other brands) originated in China and was made from pickled fish bones and spices. If you don’t believe me, look here. What did we do before Wikipedia anyway?

I am not ashamed to say that dinner-time has evolved quite a bit in our house and now involves the use of an old iPhone and YouTube. My pediatrician will probably lecture me about how that will lead to adolescent obesity, but as right now we’re hovering on toddler emaciation, I am going to ignore his advice.

Anyway… I offered Sophia ketchup with some grilled chicken kabobs courtesy of the Friday night dinner. To my surprise, I didn’t have to show her how to work her ketchup. She just grabbed her little chicken piece and dipped it. She also had pieces of pear on her plate and decided to try that too. She seemed to like ketchup with pear… I am now going to guess she likes ketchup much like her daddy with anything.

Seeing as how I only tasted ketchup at around 11, I never acquired an irrational love for said condiment much like my dear husband. As such, I almost never use it unless dipping french fries or roasted potatoes in it. Even then… I don’t neeeed it. Hubby eats eggs with ketchup and so I shouldn’t have been too surprised when she dipped her little pear chunks. Oh well… she also eats salmon roe so HA!

Tiny Tastebuds

We visit my family quite a bit. In turn, they visit us often too. I’m always touched when I see Sophia’s slightly unsteady run toward our kitchen’s sliding door when hubby or I exclaim that Baba and Deda are here. Likewise, I’m always overcome with a sense of peace/relief when I peer through the window in the front door of my parents’ home and see my dad’s enthusiastic jaunt to open it for us.

Shortly after we arrive home to Delaware, it is becomes obvious that our favorite dishes are are on the stove. My mom is quick to point out that she made a few things for Sophia and that she wants to see what our little girl thinks of them. The house is filled with quiet excitement — a few precious days together.

As we usually arrive in the evening, we catch up and plan the next day or two over dinner. The next morning after hearing Sophia rouse, we invariably hear a faint knock. One of my parents is asking for the baby, offering for us to sleep in.
At first, I resist giving the baby to them, knowing they worked all week and could use the rest. After a few minutes, I relent but find that sleep evades me, anyway. I dress and come down to watch how Sophia plays and coos in my mom’s lap. I smell freshly brewed coffee, run for a hot cup and continue to catch up with my mom. I ask her why she goes to such great lengths when we come. Time and again she says that this is how it was when she, my dad, sister and I visited my Baba and Deda and this is how it should be when kids come home for a visit. She is quick to add that she wishes she made this and that: more of hubby’s favorite dishes. I’m quick to ask what about what I like?! She laughs and says that she likes to please her sons. “I don’t have to impress you; you will forgive me always”.
The time to go home creeps up and I or hubby find ourselves playing the role of Inspector General surveying goodies heading home with us. I try to limit what goes in the goody bag(s) being conscientious of the labor that goes into cooking or buying it and not wanting to take advantage. When we leave, my husband and I reminisce on yet another 5 star, all-inclusive experience. We will be back. We will always be back.
What makes the whole experience so irresistible, so amazing, isn’t the food or stiff, clean linens. It is that we simply feel expected, welcome, and thought of.

Life Mom's Cooking Present Tiny Tastebuds

We were stuck in a culinary rut it seems. Egg omelet, soup [squash, sweet potato, broccoli], baba’s blintzes, cereal were main staples in our house. How long will a child tolerate a monotonous diet like this?

I’ve been looking into new and exciting dishes to refresh Sophia’s palate and introduce new foods. Recent newcomers are sweet potato pudding (so good, I’d eat it), spinach and ricotta gnocchi, blueberry-lemon pancakes, and chicken fingers (homemade of course) with pasta sauce and ketchup.

The real challenge here isn’t that I am short on recipes, but rather that I am limited by Sophia’s dental, or more specifically lack thereof, situation. We’re working with just SIX teeth and we all know she won’t be digging into a fried chicken thigh anytime soon.

Have a good children’s menu repertoire? Please share.

Cookery Tiny Tastebuds

The perfection of even the simplest menu can be elusive. We celebrated Thanksgiving with our families which included both our sides of the family. I was responsible for the stuffing (plain and turkey sausage and apple) and stuffed mushrooms while my mom took on sweet and mashed potatoes and provided the raw bird. The rest of the delicious dishes came from my mother-in-law and sister. My mother-in-law brought amazing the cranberry sauce, a carrot cake and turkey-shaped cookies. My sister brought a sumptuous green bean casserole, a honey cake and a chocolate pie-cake (amazing thing-a-ma-bob). But the simplest dish of them all can quickly turn into dry, mealy, flavor-less disaster which we successfully avoided this year.

The day before Thanksgiving, we brined the turkey in sugar, salt, sage, rosemary, garlic and thyme. The day of, I made an herb butter which i slathered under the turkey’s skin and we baked it, first at 500*F and then at 350*F. Here are the before and after:

I know that slathering in herb butter sounds… well… luxurious but you should do it right, or go home. Sophia tried the feast and definitely approved!

Cookery Flavors Hubby Cooks Tiny Tastebuds

Well… at least it is a feast fit for the princess of our household. Farmer’s markets are bountiful this time of year and after visiting one in Saturday’s heat, I had enough produce to conjure up the Plat du Jour.

Sophia’s lunch was: Pattypan and Potato Sautee with Russian-Style Turkey Cutlets. It was a rather easy meal to prepare and took all of 30-45 minutes with minimal cleanup prep and cleanup. Those are the types of meals I like best, always have and especially now that time is gold platinum.

I’d like to say that I plan my menu meticulously and make long grocery mart lists, but in reality, I like to buy what is best that day and develop the menu as I make my way along the market. I saw these amazing pattypans and thought that it would be a crime not to get them. Usually, I make a delicious curried pattypan soup, but since I am not sure Sophia will appreciate curry as much as we do, I decided to make the sautee.

The ingredients: onion, pattypan, potatoes, olive oil and salt (very little). Then, as I wandered through the store admiring all the primal cuts of meat, I decided that little Sophia would probably not be ready to tuck into lamb chops especially since we have yet to spy a tooth in that mouth! I settled on a pound of lean ground turkey. The cutlets, which my mother is famous for, I needed an egg yolk, 1/3 lb turkey meat, 1/8th onion finely diced.

Mixed together and seared five minutes a side, they’re easy.

Truth be told that I ate them so much as a child that I develoepd a dislike for them; Too much of a good thing is never a good thing. This was the first time I’ve ever made them and they were good.

My husband was quick to point out that were not as good as my mom’s and that’s fine by me. I can’t expect to achieve her perfection in one try.


Cookery Tiny Tastebuds

A while ago, my husband’s grandmother (Bubbie) shared with us some of her Le Creuset pots. We accepted the pots without hesitation as we only had one that we got as a wedding gift, they’re super expensive when new, and we love using ours. When Sophia started eating solids, I made them almost always in one of Bubbie’s pots as it was one of the smallest ones we had. At first, it was just a happy coincidence that I needed a smaller pot and now it has become a happy tradition. A happy yellow pot that Sophia will grow up to love and cherish as it will mean homemade, warm and comforting meals. Today’s menu: peach and summer corn soup.

Cookery FriendsFamily Tiny Tastebuds