You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘family’ category.

It has been seven days since Roman entered the world. Seven days of recovery, rest, restlessness, craziness, confusion and complete joy.
If you had been following my Twitter at all you would know that I was done with pregnancy. I had had enough aches, plenty of restless nights, more than enough outbursts of uncontrollable sobbing, I was tired of being tired… I was just over it. So when my due date came and went I was willing to try anything and everything to encourage this baby to GET OUT!!
I ingested some horrible tasting tincture of Blue and Black Cohosh sold to me by a Doula at the Farmer’s Market. I ate pineapple, black licorice and enjoyed a glass of red wine. I even visited an Acupuncturist for some sort of electro-something procedure and did acupressure. (There were a few more things I tried but will keep this post G rated).


We had a date scheduled to be induced but was really hoping and praying that it would not come to that so when I woke up on Friday morning at 4:30 a.m. to some pretty intense contractions I was thrilled. I had never been so excited to be in pain. I grabbed Gabe’s iPhone, which had been our tool for timing all the other “false alarms”, and began to time them. I layed in bed just hoping that another contraction would come and sure enough like a faithful friend they kept coming back. I got out of bed and went to the couch and they were still there. They weren’t very regular but they were painful.
After timing the contractions for half an hour I thought I should let Gabe know what was happening. At first I was a little hesitant and didn’t want to alarm him. So I told him that I think we should start to get ready as we will probably need to go to the hospital soon. He didn’t even open his eyes. I asked if he heard me, “uh huh”. Again without opening his eyes. I let him sleep a little longer until I really knew that this was the real thing. I approached his side of the bed got down right to his face and said, “it’s time”. That got him.
If you ever been pregnant you probably had the perfect labor and delivery imagined in your head only to have it vanish when the reality takes the place of that dream. Well I can honestly say that this labor was exactly and at the same time more than what I could have imagined.


I felt plenty of pain which for me is gratifying and just part of being a woman and the process of giving birth. But I also felt the relief of pain with the wonderful modern invention of the epideral. Because of this numbing drug I was able to enjoy the actual birth of my baby as I was fully present and aware and could experience that joy without pain with the select few who were present in the room with Gabe and I. I was so eager to really experience Roman’s entrance into the world that I asked to have a mirror so I could see all that was happening. I apologize if this really grosses some of you out (believe me, my husband thinks I’m insane and had to have his back turned just so he could stay in the room) but it was the most amazing thing I have ever experienced.


I won’t go into to much detail as again I am trying to keep this rated G but I will say that apparently I had the biggest smile on my face as I watched the very moment that my baby’s head exited my body and entered this world. I watched as each arm and leg made there way out and as soon as he was completely exposed I held him so tight and kissed his sweet little face and promised to love him for the rest of his life.
During both hospital stays with each delivery of my children I was very well taken care of by the wonderful nurses. A couple in particular were like angels to me as they satisfied an intense craving when they brought me graham crackers. I know, strange right? At no other time in my life do graham crackers taste as good as they do after I give birth. It’s my comfort food. They are sweet and satisfying and always remind me of many happy memories of either topping the tasty crackers with chocolate and fire toasted marshmallows or crumbling them up in a bowl and topping with milk like my dad taught me.


As I continue to recover from the latest birth and as the weather slowly creeps towards Summer temperatures my desire for these crispy crackers continues and even grows stronger. You can be sure that as I begin to bake again soon (once standing up for long periods of time is tolerable again) I will be making these graham crackers and smothering them in a hefty portion of Valrhona 70% chocolate and a toasty, gooey homemade vanilla bean marshmallow.

Graham Crackers
Adapted from French Laundry

8 tablespoons softened butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons honey
1 cup flour
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
½ tsp vanilla (or ½ vanilla bean with seeds scraped)

Make graham crackers
Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Cream the butter, sugars, and honey in a mixer on medium speed until soft and fluffy. Add the vanilla. Sift together the flours, salt, and baking soda, and pour into the mixing bowl. Mix on slow speed until just combined. Turn out the mixture onto a clean surface. Press the crumbly looking dough together with your hands until it just holds together.

Press the dough onto a 12 x 16-inch piece of parchment paper. Shape the dough into a rectangle and cover it with another 12 x 16-inch piece of parchment. Roll the dough out very thin by rolling from the middle of the paper outward. If the dough is difficult to roll, add a tiny bit of flour between the parchment and the dough on both sides. Transfer the dough onto a baking sheet, patching it to make an exact rectangle.

Bake the dough until the top is golden brown, slightly blistered, and dry-looking, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Use a fork to mark rows of holes, 1/4 inch apart, all over the dough.

The almost finished garden project. You can see a few barely blooming starts on the lower right hand side. I managed to plant most of the rest of the garden on a rare sunny day a couple of days ago… after the snow had passed… finally!!

Two of our three chickens. We used to have four but sadly we lost one. Life on the farm is rough. 🙂

Still waiting to see if we have any roosters. I’m sure our neighbors will let us know as soon as they hear the early morning wake-up call.

A very preggo belly and chocolate cream pie complete with birthday candles and mini marshmallows.

“Pick-your-nose” birthday cups. I don’t think there is much more I can say.

I am!! I am counting the days.
Pregnancy is truly an amazing experience. The body knows exactly what to do and how to care for the precious baby inside a woman’s belly. The process is so perfectly designed that near the end a pregnant woman is so sick of being pregnant that they actually look forward to labor, which in and of itself is not the most pleasant experience, to say the least. I am at the end.


I think the best way to describe exactly what it is that I am feeling is by imagining a roller coaster. My hormones are taking me for a wild ride that is causing such inflections in emotions that my husband finds himself continually confused as to what it is that I am actually feeling or wanting.
One minute I am complaining about all my aches, pains and about that fact that I feel like a cow and how quickly people are to point out that I am truly quite large. (Yes I can still fit in a car and yes I am sure there is only one baby and no I can’t and have not tried stacking items on my belly).


I come home crying from the doctor’s office because there isn’t as much progress as I was hoping and yet when I really stop and think about the fact that in three (plus or minus) weeks there will be a newborn living in our home I panic. I have had over 9 months, 37 weeks or 260 days to have this fact feel like a reality and the faster it approaches the more nervous and frightened I get.
One moment I would give anything to have this baby outside of me and the very next I am so completely freaked out about having two children that I just hope that baby number two decides to stay in his dark, warm and cozy womb for a couple more months until I figure out logistically how to raise two children.


When both children are screaming who do I deal with first? While nursing baby number 2 (a.k.a. Roman) and number 1 (a.k.a. Baron) is being disobedient how do I discipline while continuing to feed Roman so he won’t start panicking? How do I get both children out of the car gracefully and while avoiding having Baron run into the street? Do two kids fit in one grocery cart or will I be the crazy lady trying to push two carts through the store?
That is the roller coaster of my emotions. I hope you enjoyed the ride.


While one is dealing with such emotional chaos I have found that Chocolate Cream Pie really helps ease the mind. Flaky and buttery pie crust + dark and intense chocolate pudding + unsweetened whipped cream piled high = a heavenly combination that enables the mind to become settled while the taste buds are entertained and awakened.
Now normally I do not recommend the habit of emotional eating but in such extreme circumstances such as the end of pregnancy all rules are thrown out the window and the pregnant woman is allowed whatever her heart (belly) desires.

Recipe for my favorite flaky and tender pie crust

Bake shell completely and with pie weights (if available). 350* about 20-25 minutes

Chocolate Pudding Filling

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 large egg yolks

3 cups whole milk

5 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened) chopped fine

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon excellent quality coffee beans

Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt, cocoa powder and yolks in a 3-quart heavy saucepan until combined well, then add milk in a stream, whisking. Add coffee beans to liquid to steep. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking, then reduce heat and simmer, whisking, 1 minute (filling will be thick).

Whisk in chocolate, butter, and vanilla. Force filling through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Cover surface of filling plastic wrap and cool completely, about 2 hours.

When both pudding and pie crust are completely cool fill pie shell with pudding. Cover pudding with a generous layer of unsweetened whipped cream. Top pie with dark chocolate shavings, mini marshmallows, chocolate cookie crumbs, m&m’s, fresh berries or anything else you desire.

Note: I really am open and looking for suggestions as to how to live out daily life while having two children. If anyone has some brilliant tips and hints please share. I would be so grateful!

Here are a few pictures to show our progress. Hopefully very soon our pictures will show quite a bit more progress! 🙂

2333875819_faa43f2835.jpg

Our friend Garrett, the tree pruner, trying to bring some life back to this old apple tree.

2334703844_1f021bb46b.jpg

The future garden spot.

2334703874_7198063064.jpg

The chicks.

2334704420_976dea1656.jpg

The garden almost ready to be planted.

2333876263_8f0ccd82cc.jpg

My little budding farmer putting on his froggy boots.

By the end of this week we hope to have the garden ready for planting and we will then work on fencing the yard and garden in.

It’s a lot of work but I keep on envisioning those lovely Summer nights, gazing out upon my garden to decide what’s for dinner.

It feels rather Spring-like around our house these days and I am loving it. I think I have come down with a severe case of “nesting” because I seem to have given a sudden boost in motivation to get things done in and around the house. It has been rather exciting and productive but I can not seem to rest until we get more and more accomplished and at the stage I am at in pregnancy much rest is required.

As I sit and write this post I hear four little chicks chirping and pecking in their little box home. A light keeps them cozy and warm as they are still quite tiny and vulnerable. Each day (actually a few times throughout the day) I peer in their home to see the progress of their feather growth. Gabe was gone a few days doing a shoot in Portland and came home surprised to see how much they have changed. I will post some photos soon (my photographer has been quite busy).

In our breakfast nook I have created a small greenhouse where I am starting a number of seeds to be added to my soon-to-be complete vegetable garden. For my birthday Gabe is making me a very spacious vegetable bed. Inside the garden will be a gravel path and a raised bed in the center with seating around it so when our garden is bountiful we can sit and enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Fresh eggs and fresh produce…. I sense some tasty food coming this Summer.

Speaking of Eggs… once again we are welcoming Orangette in the kitchen. She and Brandon will be teaching us all about the glorious EGG!! One of the most nutritious foods on the planet. We’re going to make mayonnaise, souffle, and perfectly poached and hard boiled eggs.

In case you missed the last class.. here are the photos from it. 

2290213271_59e53f9086.jpg

Gabe, Baron and I along with my parents are enjoying a relaxing week on the beach of Mission Bay. I think of it as a sort of last hurrah before baby #2 arrives. Not to say that when he comes our lives are over, but rather life will become all the more hectic. Packing our already over-the-required-weight-limit bags and hopping on a plane is about to become a bit more of a chore. So we are relishing this time we have to spend with each other, our first-born and our family in beautiful Southern California.

2294444591_55850b69d9.jpg

In anticipation of this trip I of course set out to find the favored food finds of the locals. What makes San Diego unique from a food standpoint and where can I sample the best?
A couple things stood out among the extensive Internet research I did. First of all fish tacos are a must and the elusive California burrito, which is made up of carne asada and French fries and is legendary around these parts. We have yet to cross these food finds off of our vacation checklist but rest assured that I will not leave this state without sampling a hefty burrito stuffed full of juicy, marinated steak and crisp, fresh from the fryer fries.

2294445305_86f11694c8.jpg
The other must do item on my list, and I was very adamant about this one no matter how long the drive, was to visit a farm made famous for the beauty of its produce.
While working at Spago in Beverly Hills I can still remember the thrill and excitement the kitchen crew felt when produce was scheduled to arrive from this Southern California farm. The berries from this farm were minute in size but the flavor that inhabited your mouth with one bite was as big as the sun which gave them their sweetness.
Among the most memorable were the Frais du Bois. These wild strawberries are famous for their intense sweetness. Their little strawberry bodies contain an intense strawberry flavor that makes my favorite Washington berries bow down in admiration.

2294445735_289fb9e9e2.jpg

These little berries held a position of honor. They were treated with the same amount of care and respect as our famous diners. The moment these beauties were hand delivered into our kitchen they were plucked from the crowded berry basket and laid out side-by-side on an impeccably clean and soft towel lined sheet tray. Each berry was inspected for mold so we could quickly remove any damaged fruit to ensure that it would not contaminate any of its delicious friends.

2294446139_c86ee0b141.jpg
During our time living in Los Angeles, Gabe and I had often talked about visiting this farm where these berries and other amazing produce originated. But my days were primarily spent working in the kitchen and later my days off were devoted to helping Sherry with her book she was then working on. So with great sadness we left our home in L.A. having never visited the produce Mecca.
Now you can better understand my pressing desire to make the pilgrimage to this highly respected birthplace of beautiful fruits and vegetables.
The farm itself was a scenic thirty-minute drive from our condo. With our GPS in hand we embarked on this journey not knowing what to expect except that this particular farm is not clearly marked. But as we drove around a bend in a beautiful country studded with prickly cactus and immaculate horse stables, I spotted rows and rows of varied goods. I recognized the humble stand from magazines and TV shows that have highlighted this farm.

2295237420_9320335644.jpg
My mouth watered and my mind raced with endless dinner possibilities as I perused the variety of fresh from the earth vegetables. We were probably asked three times if we needed any help before I finally began to commit to exactly what was going to make the cut. I wanted to take everything home.
The carrots were stacked pristinely in hues of oranges, reds and deep purples and sat next to the diminutive beets of red and gold.
The vast array of greens screamed to be turned into a lightly dressed salad and the large in flavor but small in stature brussels sprouts were calling my name (they also told me that they wanted to braise in cream – and who can argue with that).
My knowledge of citrus varietals was humbled as I picked up what I thought to be the most amazingly scented lemon – imagine my surprise when I was told that the yellow as the sun fruit that I held in my hand was actually a lime, and the lemons that I sought were actually the color of oranges.

2295239376_4fecede364.jpg
Sadly the strawberries that I remember so fondly were small in numbers (literally, we bought the last three) but were still as tasty as I recall.
Three large bags full later we walked away from the farmstead eager to delve into this bounty.
I did very little to the vegetables as the artists who took the time, care and energy to create the perfect conditions to raise such gorgeous food had done the work for me. The carrots and beets were tossed in oil, salt and pepper and roasted until tender. The cauliflower was cut into quarter inch slices drizzled with oil, salted and roasted until crisp.

2295238428_2c2a6347be.jpg
In olive oil and butter the minute brussels sprouts were sautéed until caramelized then, obeying their wishes, braised in heavy cream until fork tender.
We picked up some red and green butter lettuce, arugula and mustard greens and gave them a quick toss in a shallot mustard vinaigrette. The salad was topped with grilled chicken and steak.
The three strawberries were devoured before we got into the car and finally the citrus has found it’s way into a tasty batch of rosemary lemonade which we have been enjoying as we are now back at the condo once again overlooking the bay and enjoying the time we have left of this sunny vacation.
My sincere appreciation and respect goes out to all of those who take great pride in their life’s work to grow and produce food the way in which God intended us to enjoy it. I hope that through my cooking, baking and tools such as this blog I can encourage others to care enough about what they eat to value the work and dedication of those who have devoted their lives to gifting us with such bounty.


2294445907_d0e040fb36.jpg

Shallot Mustard Vinaigrette
1 tsp good quality mustard
3 tsp minced shallot
½ tsp honey
2 Tbl White Balsamic Vinegar
2/3 c Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Add the first four ingredients then slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking. Add salt and pepper to taste. You may also add a squeeze of Meyer lemon if desired.

We recently celebrated Baron’s 1st Birthday!!! Everyone always warns us how fast they grow up…. well I guess they were right! I can’t believe my baby is a year old.

Gabe and I decorated paper cups for the festivities.

483561512_7d6097f89c.jpg

In these festive cups we served…

Banana Orange smoothies

1 frozen banana

1 1/2 c. whole milk

1/3 c. frozen orange juice concentrate

2 c. ice

Blend in a blender until nice and smooth. Serve with a straw and paper umbrella.

484687758_3b778b35b1.jpg

489520858_52dd864d00.jpg

As a pastry chef it warms my heart to see my son thoroughly enjoying his very own chocolate cake.

489520644_8227cd4e23.jpg

Baron gives the camera a chocolate kiss.

For the game portion of the party I supplied each guest with an ample supply of play dough and pipe cleaners. They had the length of the party to create a monkey.

Here is the winner….(warning.. it’s PG-13)

489547249_eb48f56aa5.jpg

This work of art was really a team effort by my brothers. One created the monkey while the other added the nice little yellow fountain (and no, my brothers aren’t 12 – in fact, they both have children of their own… scary :))

And for the adults… our very own monkey cake. Dark chocolate layers sandwiched between whipped ganache, fresh bananas and whipped cream. Mmmmm!!!

489541467_0b8c074afd.jpg

 Branded Fruit

The link above is an article about the latest trend in large companies such as Disney and Warner Brothers, to put their kid friendly cartoon images on fruit with the intent to attract more children to eat fruit. Winnie the Pooh adorns organic apples. Daisy Duck dresses up peaches and Mickey and Minnie sell pre-packaged grapes.

Even as I write this I realize that I have sort of a cynical tone in my text. But why? Shouldn’t I be excited that children will be consuming more fruit? Even though they are almost being duped into doing it. At least they might forget for a second the candy the lies in the next aisle over.

Correct me if I’m wrong (and I mean that) but shouldn’t we as parents be more in control of what we allow our children to consume? That way eating the fruit would be a necessity with or with out the cartoon characters.

My three-year old niece goes crazy over edamames, she begs for grapes and gets so excited to eat “crunchy carrots”. The typical American child her age has already acquired a keen taste for soda, sodium and sweets (ironic coming from me I realize). So how is she different? Is it that her taste buds are different from every other child or was it that her parents made eating healthy and fun activity?

I’m so curious how others feel about this. Please comment. I would love to start a discussion as I have yet to come to a conclusion about this.

Although she will probably never see this I just wanted to give a big sweet thanks to my Grandma for sharing her pie crust recipe with me. It has changed my pastry perception. In the last week I have made four pies (two peach, an apple and a chicken pot pie). Tomorrow I will be making the pie crust but skipping the filling. Nothing better than straight pie crust baked with a little cinnamon and sugar.

The recipe itself is not really in exact written form. Grandma had to make it in front of me to show me the texture and the feel of it to know if it was right. So if you are ever in my area I would love to share the technique.

I truly love the way Grandma’s bake. Every single baking book you buy now always stresses the importance of accuracy when measuring, the precision needed with mixing and the need for a scale, all that I agree with, but I love seeing older women in the kitchen who are so comfortable with their recipes that they just know how it is suppose to “feel”. In a sense that is more accurate than any scale because outlying conditions exist as such that even if you have the flour exact to the nearest tenth of a gram the moisture content due to weather conditions or other factors, may still alter the product. But if you know how the mix is suppose to feel and act then you can rely on your instincts more than technicalities.

All that to say, Thanks Grandma! What a cherished memory I will always have from the day I learned how to make the most perfect pie crust.

Grandma’s Pie Crust

2 cups All-Purpose flour

pinch salt

1/2 cup oil

1/4 cup milk

Combine all ingredients. Can either be pressed into the pan or rolled out between two sheets of parchment. Grandma uses this for a double crust but I often double this recipe as I like my crusts pretty thic.

Email Me

artisansweets [at] gmail [dot] com

RSS Twitter Update:

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

Sweet Shopping

Archives

Stumble upon me!

My Network is the coolest!