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This isn’t a quick recipe (rice has to simmer for an hour) but it’s simple and super yummy — my husband’s favorite dessert.

Place 1 cup white rice (I prefer short, chubby grains) and a 1/2 gallon 2% or whole milk in a pot. Add 1 cup sugar and a cinnamon stick (optional). Bring to a boil and then simmer for an hour, stirring frequently.

Whisk together 3 eggs, a 1/2 tsp salt and 2 tsp vanilla. After the rice has cooked for its hour, slowly add the egg mixture and stir gently until completely combined, about 2 minutes. Pour into a 9″x13″ glass pan and cover in plastic wrap; chill for several hours to overnight. When cool, remove plastic wrap, sprinkle lightly with cinnamon and re-cover in fresh plastic wrap.

Enjoy!

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Life Imitates Art

Remember when restaurants used to boast that their food was “Just like Home-made”?   It seems a tide has turned, and now home cooks are boasting that their food is “Just as good as the Restaurants.”

You can find recipes for Panda Express’ Orange Chicken and Mrs. Field’s Cookies.

I noticed myself falling into this trend when our friends brought over pretty, swirled, butter cookies with sprinkles. I had only seen them sold at Vons and similar stores, and so, exclaimed, “These taste store-bought! …and I mean that in the nicest way!”

A few days ago, we bought hoagie rolls and my husband made sandwiches with two kinds of deli meat, two kinds of cheese, and enough veggies to satisfy a whole colony of rabbits. My son gave  his approbation by saying, “This tastes like Subway!”

I suppose it’s a product of a culture that turned fast food from a luxury into a necessity. And, with increased competition in the prepared food industry, there really are some yummy things available out there that require a large number of fresh ingredients to duplicate. Not to mention, fewer people have the time or desire to cultivate the skill necessary to create gourmet foods at home.

Tonight I’m making enchilada casserole. I’m cheating by opening a can of enchilada sauce.

C.S. Doemner

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As a kid, I went strawberry-picking for a field trip. I remember standing in the hot fields, looking over at neighboring farms, seeing the manual laborers, and thinking: “They’re getting paid. We’re paying to do this. How does this make sense?”

And yet, now, I have a nostalgic desire to crouch amid crops with a hot sun on my shoulders and pick my own food. More importantly, I want to take my son to do it, too, so he can think to himself, “This is insane. We could buy these same berries in an air conditioned grocery store for half the money and none of the labor.” And maybe one day he’ll have a similar desire to take his kids out.

Turns out there’s a website with a list of farms in Southern California in case you too want to pay someone to work in their fields:

http://www.pickyourown.org

 

Enjoy!

CSD

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Meal Plan

In case you need some ideas…    Sample Meal Plan

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Found this recipe on one of my favorite cooking blogs: 101 Cookbooks. If it’s anywhere near as hot where you are as it is here, anything edible that does not require an oven is on the menu.

No Bake Chocolate Cake

butter, to grease pan
8 ounces / 225 g 70% chocolate, well chopped
8 ounces / 225 g heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon allspice (optional)
2 teaspoons finely ground espresso (optional)
1/4 teaspoon fine grain salt
cocoa powder, to serve

Lightly butter a 6-inch / 15cm springform pan or equivalent – I typically use little loaf pans which are less common, but many small pans will work here (see main entry). Line with parchment paper and set aside.

Barely melt the chocolate in a double boiler over gentle heat.

In a separate medium pan heat the cream over gentle heat. Stir in the allspice and the espresso, if using. When the cream is very warm / hot to the touch, remove from heat and stir in the salt.

Pour the chocolate into the cream, and very slowly and steadily stir until everything comes together smoothly. Make sure the components aren’t at all separate. Pour into the prepared pan, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled throughout, a few hours, or overnight.

When ready to serve, remove from the pan, let set at room temperature for ten minutes or so, dust with a bit of cocoa powder, and slice. Alternately, you can slice and serve from the pan.

Serves 12.

Prep time: 10 min

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A few weeks ago, my mom bought me the BEST summer-pregnancy gift EVER — an ice shaver/snow cone maker.  At first we stuck with the store bought flavorings that came with it (tangerine, blue berry) but we’ve always liked the vanilla raspados that our local Hispanic shop sells, and so we decided to make our own. The recipes we found online called for a vanilla-flavored simple syrup, but our local shop offers a creamy version and so we decided to try something different. What we created is remarkably simple and delicious!

1 can sweetened condensed milk (diluted with water by about 50%)

Tbsp (give or take) of imitation vanilla or vanilla extract

Combine and pour over shaved ice. A little goes a long way! Try a couple spoonfuls per glass of ice.

Enjoy!

CSD

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When I first became a wife and full-time step mom, I sailed onto the scene with the full force of an ambitious 24 year old woman, who had just spent four months working full time, taking graduate classes and planning a wedding.  My time management skills were at their peak and there was nothing I could not or would not accomplish.

And then I came to a screeching halt.

It seemed that motherhood did not consist of checking things off lists. There was no academic support system of continual feedback. No corporate ladder with clearly defined rewards for initiative and innovation. No paycheck, nor any hope of a raise.

I soon realized that in the role of Mother, Everything-You-Have-To-Give is simply par for the course. Your very best days are only what’s expected of you. You can definitely let people down, but there’s almost no way to impress anyone. It’s a rigged gig!

I digress.

The whole point of this post initially was not to bemoan the serious ego-slam one endures as Mom, but instead to say, I developed a few tricks of the trade and wanted to share them with other women struggling to imitate June Cleaver in an Arrested Development world.

The following two documents have saved me numerous hours, dollars, and headaches. When used correctly, they should make your life a little simpler too. (Don’t use them if they are a hassle)

The first document is a list of 54 meal ideas I’ve come up with that feature an entrée, starch, and veggie (or sometimes fruit). 54 is not a lot, but the beauty is that you can mix and match columns. It does not include recipes because I Google each item I want to make, look at four different recipes, write down the proportions of the main ingredients, and then make my own version.

Meal Ideas

I use the Meal Ideas document to fill in the second part: my Meal Plan.  I have laid it out Sunday – Saturday, with breakfast, lunch and two rows of dinners. This is because I find it easier to keep my son’s breakfasts and lunches the same each week (he can now make 75% of the items himself) and plan two weeks of dinners at a time. My husband has an erratic work schedule so I type in his hours in the purple bars. When I’m done, I print it out and tape it to the front of the fridge so everyone knows what to expect.  You will notice I have linked a few recipes; I found those while investigating other meal planning blogs. I really like Meal Planning 101.

Meal Plan

Bon appetite!

C.S. Doemner

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