One kid's adventures in gastronomy

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I “Heart” Indian Food

Mama makes something she calls a one-pot Indian dish. It’s really simple, and I’ve mentioned it before because we have it about once a month. She starts with onions, cooked in oil, then adds whatever she finds in the fridge, beginning with garlic and ginger, curry powder, cardamom, some veggie stock, and coconut milk; she often adds home-canned tomatoes, chickpeas, peas, spinach, and basmati rice. This is always a “what’s-in-the-fridge” sort of dinner, but if Mama’s planning ahead, she might buy some paneer (Indian cheese) from an Indian market beforehand, and I really like that. Anyway, before you know it, the house smells so good and warm and inviting.

But before she even does that, she gets to making naan. Naan? you ask. Naan is a leavened bread–that means, it uses something (in this case, yeast) to rise. What’s funny about that is that naan doesn’t rise like the other breads we’ve made; it’s actually a flatbread.

Mama’s recipe is super simple to make and pretty good to eat. (I told her so myself.) And if you make the dough before you start the rest of your dinner, it’ll be ready to put in the oven by the time you’re just about ready to eat.

3 pieces of naan, all shiny from the melted ghee

3 pieces of naan, all shiny from the melted ghee

But Mama didn’t stop at naan. She made me a mango lassi. (I helped press the button on the hand blender.) I’ve had one of these drinks before, but I can’t even begin to tell you how much I loved it tonight. It’s really similar to a smoothie, except I had it with dinner! I sported a lassi mustache through most of the meal. The drink was refreshing and cooling, as Mama made the dinner a wee bit spicy. (I like spicy, though.)

I'm saving this lassi for later.

I’m saving this lassi for later.

All in all, this was a great dinner. I wouldn’t mind having it more than once a month–and the lassi, maybe every night.

Love, Jude


1 tsp active dry yeast
3/4 c warm water (105–110°, hot enough to hold your finger in it without scalding)
2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp veg oil or melted coconut oil
Pinch baking soda
2 1/2 Tbsp plain yogurt (or 2 Tbsp milk with a tsp. of lemon juice)

Preaheat oven to 500°. Dissolve the yeast in the water. Use a whisk to be sure it’s all dissolved and slightly foamy.

In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, salt, sugar, oil, soda, and yogurt. Add the yeast mixture and stir to combine, until smooth. Oil your hands and coat the dough ball. Set on a sprayed baking sheet and allow to double in size, 30-60 minutes. (Mama covers it with a light towel to keep the draft off.)

Divide the dough into 6 and roll out each piece on a floured surface–roll into more of an oval, rather than a circle (you know, like naan!). These don’t have to be perfect, remember. Wet your hands and flip the dough between them (so it stretches a bit). Put directly on a clean pizza stone on the bottom (or bottom rack) of oven, working in batches if necessary. (Mama feels a regular baking sheet that’s been preheated would also work, too.) Bake 4 to 6 minutes–keep an eye on them to bake them to your desired puffiness. (They’ll crisp up and brown the longer they’re in there.)

Remove from oven with tongs and immediately brush with melted butter. (If you want to get fancy, brown the butter for more of a ghee-like taste. And if you really want to get fancy, clarify that butter to make your own ghee.)

Mama’s Mango Lassi

1 ripe mango, peeled and cubed
Couple big tablespoons yogurt (plain, vanilla, or “banilla”)
About 1/4 cup canned coconut milk
Enough milk to thin [or swap out this and the canned coconut milk for coconut milk in a carton]
Few dashes of cardamom

Place all the ingredients in a blender and whir until smooth and creamy. (May also use a hand blender.) It should be thin enough that you can drink it with a straw, but not runny.


With just a few hours notice…

…you can make a pizza. From scratch.

You know that Mama and I have made pizza before. Back when I first wrote about it, I’m embarrassed to admit, I was a bit on the fence about the stuff. That’s no longer the case.

Mama got a yen for pizza around 4:00, and that’s all the time that was needed to make the dough and a sauce from some home-canned tomatoes. She set the dough on the oven, so it proofed really quickly, then she made personal pizzas for each of us. Mine had roasted carrots, capers, and uncured bacon on it. Papa’s had carrots, capers, onions, bacon, and arugula. Mama had the same, minus the bacon. (She swears by arugula on pizza, but I wouldn’t touch it.)

A side of peas made this one good dinner.

A side of peas made this one good dinner.

The best part was that since most of this dinner made itself, Mama could play with me!

Love, Jude

Pizza Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 quart home-canned tomatoes with their juice, chopped (or a 15-oz can diced tomatoes)
1-2 tablespoons tomato paste
Pinch sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Oregano (fresh or dried)
Basil (fresh or dried)

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook the shallots until soft and golden, then add the garlic and cook 30-60 seconds more, until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and sugar. Bring to a simmer, then let it cook down, stirring occasionally, until it begins to thicken. Season to taste with salt, pepper, oregano, and basil. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer sauce until it thickens to desired consistency. Marvel to yourself at how good the sauce tastes, then spread over pizza dough as is.

Yield: Mama really likes a saucy pizza, so this amount covered 4 6″ pizzas (or 1 medium-large pie)

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Soporific Squash

You know I enjoy squash (because it’s orange). Mama tends to keep it simple—roasted and added to other things, like risotto, or mashed with sweet or savory flavors. Since squash is still so abundant right now, she tried something a little new, something that combines her two primary methods for cooking it.

First, Mama halved and seeded 2 acorn squash, smeared some olive oil on the cut sides, then sprinkled salt and pepper over them. She put them on a baking sheet, covered them with foil, and roasted them at 450ºF until they were soft and starting to caramelize, about half an hour.

In the meantime, she sautéed half a chopped onion and half a pound of finely chopped cremini mushrooms in a bit of olive oil, stirring occasionally. Somewhere along the way she added the leaves off a few sprigs of thyme and some salt and pepper. When the mushrooms and onion were tender and browned, she added 1 cup rice (she happened to have basmati on hand, which is easy enough) and sautéed that for a couple minutes to give the rice a nutty flavor. Then, just when the pan seemed like it was about to dry out, she added 2 cups homemade vegetable stock (chicken stock also would have worked). She brought it all to a boil, covered it, then reduced the heat and simmered it until the rice absorbed the liquid and was tender, about 20 minutes. You might recognize this as the pilaf method, and it sure makes for some tasty rice.

When everything was cooked, Mama carefully spooned the flesh out of the squash shells and added it to the skillet of rice and mushrooms. She said if she wanted to make it look fancy, she would have loaded up the shells with the mixture, but as it was just us, she glopped a big ol’ portion on our plates. (This is why there’s no picture. You probably wouldn’t want to eat it either.) Then she grated some Parmesan on top.

I was reticent at first, because this didn’t look like any squash I’ve eaten before, but Mama reminded me about my “no thank you” bite. I’m sure glad she did, though, because this was quite tasty! The roasted squash flavor was subtle, and the rice gave it body and texture. I didn’t even mind the mushrooms, as I’m still hit or miss on those. Mama ate this for dinner, along with steamed mixed veggies, and Papa and I added pork to our dinners. I really just wanted to eat the squash and the veggies, though.

I don’t know what else Mama might have snuck into that dish because after dinner, I went on the kitchen floor to play with my cars…and I didn’t get up. I fell fast asleep right where I played, much like those Flopsy Bunnies. I suspect Mama might be giving me the squash again tonight….

To be fair, I refused to nap today, so that might have played a part in my passing out.

To be fair, I refused to nap today, so that might have played a part in my passing out mid-play.

Love, Jude

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Ok, so I’m a little late, but I went to a Valentine’s playdate today, so I think this post still counts. I had a BIG PARTY at daycare this week, too, so I’ve been really busy making valentines. And Mama and I made a special kind of cookie. They were red because they were made out of beets! We’ve never made cookies like this before, so I was just as eager as Mama to try them. Six ingredients, vegan, and very low in sugar–they were suitable right from the start. The only thing Mama would change about the recipe was the amount of oil (she needed more to bring the dough together), but otherwise, they were easy-peasy.

I have to say, I really like these cookies. I especially like that when I ask for them, Mama actually gives me one. They taste slightly of beets, but honestly, if you use fresh beets, you’ll taste nothing but their sweet earthiness. It’s when you keep beets in your fridge for too long that they start getting “beety.” Still, because it was Valentine’s day, Mama made up a small batch of red velvet cupcakes. Guess who found them?

When Papa found me with this cupcake in my mouth, I didn't think twice. I said, "Greta did it!" (That's my dog.)

When Papa found me with this cupcake in my mouth, I didn’t think twice. I said, “Greta did it!” (That’s my dog.)

Happy (belated) Valentine’s Day.

Love, Jude


“I don’t like cauliflower.”

Which is what I told Mama for at least the 20th time. (I can count that high now, so I should know.) She didn’t seem to believe me. She kept saying that wasn’t true, that there were potatoes and cheese involved, and that I needed to have “just 1 bite.” I think if she thought about it hard enough, she’d realize that I really don’t like cauliflower. I couldn’t tell you the last time I ate the stuff. I even took more bites of my meatloaf as a peace offering, but she wasn’t buying. Our standoff eventually escalated beyond “no grapes” and “no Caillou” to “and you’ll go straight to bed.” So I took a stinkin’ bite (while my mouth was full of meatloaf). She asked if it was okay, and I nodded. Then she asked if I would take another bite, and I said, “No, thank you.” Then, “I want my grapes!” and “I want Caillou!” So you see…everyone wins.

Love, Jude

Baked Cheesy Potatos and Cauliflower

3–4 medium potatoes (Mama used yellow ones; choose whatever’s smallish and organic)
1 head cauliflower (organic ones tend to be smaller)
A few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves stripped (you may also use dill or parsley)
Salt & pepper
A Tbsp or so of butter (optional)
Couple handfuls shredded cheese of choice (Mama used Cheddar)
½ cup veggie broth (or milk)

Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Butter an 8 x 11″ baking dish (or even a 9 x 13″).

Peel and slice the potatoes. Slice the cauliflower into “steaks” and pull away the bottom-most core. (Did you know you could do that? I didn’t!) Place in a large pot, cover with a couple inches of cold water, add salt, and bring to a boil. Boil for about 10 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the cauliflower just starts to get tender. (Don’t worry if you go over. You can’t hurt it.) Drain.

Spread ½ the potato-cauliflower mixture in the prepared dish. Sprinkle with half the thyme and some salt and pepper. Sprinkle with a handful of cheese (as much as you like). Repeat with the remaining potato-cauliflower mix, thyme, and cheese. Pour the broth over it, then dot with a couple small cubes of butter, if you like. Bake for 15–20 minutes, until the cheese is melty and golden.

I don't care how much cheese is on there, I'm not eating it!

I don’t care how much cheese is on there, I’m not eating it!

Note: If you really want to make this a funky-looking dish, choose purple or orange cauliflower and purple potatoes! Also, Mama says it’s important that you buy a block of cheese then grate it yourself. Those packs of pre-shredded cheese have a lot more stuff in them than cheese, like cornstarch. Eww!