Growing Up Savvy Posts

Like most new parents, I could not wait until I could give real food to little Miss S. We finally got the go-ahead from our pediatrician to start solids when our daughter was 5 months old. Until recently, Sophia has liked everything. We’ve offered her oatmeal cereal, prune, apple, and banana. I could sense that our luck was about to change when we offered carrot, potato and peas. Just today, I prepared Mushy Peas and being true to my own conviction (presentation matters),  I presented them in a clear, shiny dish our Bubbie gave us.

Mommy's Famous Mushy Peas

Sophia tried a few spoonfuls and made it clear she was not impressed. She made a face, pursed her little lips and turned her head. Desperation took over me and I did what I promised myself I wouldn’t do: offered something else. I sprung into action grating a little bit of banana.

Mashed Banana

The soft, sweet, billowy banana went over with baby claps, smiles and lots of lip smacking. A quiet sense of panic took over me as I was spooning banana into our daughter’s mouth: am I destined to become one of those parents who is a short order cook at home?

Tiny Tastebuds

My husband and I bought our house last May when I was very pregnant. I spent the summer helping (supervising, really) updates to the inside. Meanwhile, many of our landscaping projects stood still. Now that spring is here, we have decided to make a significant effort on our front yard. Besides, I have grand plans to maintain a small vegetable garden from which our little girl will experience her many culinary firsts.

I must admit, while I love a beautiful yard and enjoy plucking a fresh tomato from a vegetable garden, I am not much of a gardener. I don’t enjoy playing with dirt and do not possess a green thumb. So if you cannot or do not want to take care of something, bring in someone who can and is willing.

We asked my parents for help and used our little five and a half month old daughter as ploy. The mission was “simple”: turn two ponds into flower beds and fence in a vegetable garden. While the dad and hubby were out excavating ponds and buying tons of soil and such at the local hardware store, I cooked away. The weekend menu took us to India and Asia. We started off with Chicken Tikka Masala for dinner on Friday.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Saturday night we moved swiftly east to Japan with Harumi Kurihara’s Simmered Pork Belly and a refreshing cucumber and wakame salad.

Simmered Pork Belly

The smell of sake and ginger permeated the kitchen on Friday night as the pork belly simmered.

Cucumber and Wakame Salad

The meal was satiating and satisfying — a welcome respite from a long day of work for everyone. Our feasting continued into lunch today when I sauteed some shiitake mushrooms with onions until golden, brown, delicious and oh so aromatic. I sandwiched the mushroom and onion mixture between two slices of rustic Italian bread and a healthy layer of shredded Gruyere. The sandwiches were grilled in a pan, weighted down with a spatula until golden, brown, and oozing with cheese.

Grilled Cheese

A crisp and tangy arugula salad with sherry vinaigrette was a perfect compliment cutting through the richness of the grilled cheese. Last, but not least and in my opinion never to be omitted, is desert! My mom was a champ and helped make peanut butter sandwich cookies with honey-cinnamon frosting.

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

I find it very difficult to resist a quick trip to the kitchen for a cookie. Mom always taught me not to spoil my apetite for dinner which is Shrimp in Thai Curry. I suppose I could have taken a picture of today’s dinner and posted everything tomorrow, but patience is a virtue I work towards. Besides, who knows, maybe one of my readers will be so impressed with the food that they too will volunteer to work for food.

Cookery FriendsFamily

When asked, most people will say that they very much enjoy eating out at restaurants. There are of course many reasons for this including the fact that you are served on, do not have to do the dishes, and the food tastes good (usually). A significant reason why restaurant food is sometimes (or more often than not) described as superior to home cooking is appearance. After all, we eat with our eyes first.

So today I am showing off some of my mom’s creations. There are few more welcoming sites (besides anything chocolate) than these which greeted us when we went home for a brief visit two weeks ago.

Mom's Cabbage Pie
Mom's Cabbage Pie
Mom's Cherry Pierogies


Mom's Cooking

If you’ve stumbled on this blog and read the About page, you may wonder how and why anyone would become so passionate as to share their stories on a blog.

My passion for travel, for good food was instilled many, many years ago and is continually reinforced by my own family. I grew up in the former Soviet Union, in a family where warm, sweet aromas were always wafting out of my mother’s kitchen. My mother learned her craft of cookery from my grandmother with whom my sister and I spent a majority of every summer.

My family traveled around a fair bit and while I was born in Ukraine, I spent the first nine years of my life in Baku, Azerbaijan. My mother cooks predominately Russian food but has an excellent handle on Azerbaijani/Middle Eastern dishes such as Dolma, Shish Kebab, Qutab, Dovga, Shirin Plov and many others.

My sister and I were never picky eaters. Perhaps, this is because the food was always so good or perhaps because we connected food with being together as a family. Nevertheless, I aspire to do the same for my daughter and will document my trials and tribulations here.