Sunday, November 15, 2009

Train Cakes and Automobiles

It was his first lick of frosting, ever!

It really was about him. I don't care what anyone says about first birthdays being all about the parents. Come on. When do babies get to shake parachutes, play with bubbles and shove frosting in their face? Yes, on their first birthday.
The cake was a train. He celebrated with two of his buddies so I figured that a train would be something that all the little boys would agree on.

I got the instructions from Betty Crocker. I had to adapt the decorations a bit since the babies were very young and I didn't want any tiny candies for babies to choke on. I also used India Tree natural food coloring which I found on Chef Shop.Com .I went to pick them up since they are located in Seattle. They also have other hard to find spices and imported food products.
I tried to limit the use of artificial flavors except for the licorice, jujubes and mini Oreo cookie wheels.

 I love party sandwiches but wanted something a little different and healthy since I knew the babies would be eating too.
I made three different spreads for the sandwiches the night before. This morning I went to Macrina to pick up 6 loaves of bread and I assembled the sandwiches.
The three types:

Tahini-eggplant yogurt sandwiches with roasted peppers
Cilantro-basil pesto with goat cheese
Olive tapenade with mozzarella and arugula

I will leave you with the recipe for the tahini-eggplant sandwiches. It was a hit with the babies and parents. Yogurt adds a special creaminess to this Baba Ganoush.
I used ciabatta but you can use any bread.

The tahini spread recipe is from a Hebrew Cookbook called " The Healthy Kitchen" . "The Healthy Kitchen" is a compilation of recipes from "On the Table" which is a Hebrew food magazine.
roasted peppers in a jar

Recipe for spread:

1 eggplant
2 tablespoons of tahini
1-2 cloves of garlic
6 tablespoons of yogurt (I used low-fat)
juice of half a lemon

1. Roast Eggplant (I poked holes in it and put it in oven at 450 for one hour)

2. Scoop out eggplant and mix well with all the other ingredients. Season with salt.
This spread can be kept in the fridge for up to one week.

3. Spread on Ciabetta with roasted peppers.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Webinar with Lou Manna

Highly acclaimed food photographer and Olympus Digital Visionary Photographer, Lou Manna will share his digital secrets for capturing mouth-watering images in a intensive 7 hour workshop in Coral Gables, Florida on Saturday, November 21 from 10 AM to 5 PM eastern time.

Can’t attend in person? The entire workshop will also be streamed live on the internet and continuously available for repeat viewing after the event.

This comprehensive workshop will guide you through the art of food photography, including lighting, styling, composing and propping techniques plus professional secrets that will make your work distinctive.

You will learn about: SETTING UP THE PHOTO: Lou will conduct a live photo session in the afternoon with the Executive Chef from the Biltmore Hotel, allowing the participants to have an inside look at his method for shooting food!

LIGHTING: Understanding the different lighting set-ups for shooting food on location vs. the studio. Lou will also demonstrate a variety of lights, reflectors and mirrors to help you create memorable and delectable photographs

PHOTO ANALYSIS: Throughout the workshop the day’s images will be viewed on a huge screen in the auditorium and online in the webinar for instant feedback and instruction.

MASTERING YOUR CAMERA: Participants are encouraged to bring their cameras and instruction manuals for lots of tips on appropriate settings for improving your photography.

HANDS ON TIPS: Lou will reveal his personal techniques, approaches and special tricks for photographing different types of foods.

BONUS RAFFLE: Two Olympus Stylus TOUGH Series camera will be raffled off. One to a lucky winner who attends in person and one to a lucky winner who is logged onto the webinar.

Registration Details:

Date: Saturday, November 21, 2009 Time: 10 AM to 5 PM eastern time

Place: Merrick Auditorium at the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables, Florida

Cost: $149 with lunch included and access to the webinar after the event

Webinar: $79 with the ability to view it anytime after the event

Or Call: 212 727-2505 by November 18, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Year Has Gone By, Seriously?

My son is turning one next week. It was just a year ago when I started saying the word "son" and it sounded funny. It's kind of like when you first get married and you say "my husband". It sounds so awkward. It feels like you are playing grown-up. The fact that I have "a son" baffles me.  The fact that
he is turning one, woah la! that just downright scares me.

The way I look at food has changed.

 My dear friend Rachel gave me this bagel book and wrapped it in bacon wrapping paper. This is me,
the night before I gave birth. Bagel in Bacon, not an oxymoron at all, that is how Rachel sees things. Here is her blog Jewshi (a Jew in Japan).

I will begin by saying (actually screaming) and happy dancing at the same time " I can't believe I nursed for a whole year". This is one of my biggest accomplishments this year. For some, nursing comes naturally and for many, well, it's like pulling teeth.

Nursing is the deep dark secret of motherhood. It's hard. The reasons are endless. Some babies don't latch on. Their mouths are too small. Some babies get nipple confusion (sounds sick huh?).
I won't go into detail with what happened with us. It's just not that interesting.

I will just say that I found it exhausting and decided that I would take it one day at time. So I did. Here I am. I crossed the finished line. One year was my goal, now I need to decide if I am ready to move on.
Here is a little more about my experience with nursing,

My way of cooking has changed this year. I used to be such a snob. I would never ever buy anything I could make. From the croutons to the bread. I could do it all.  Now I understand one thing. You do what you have to do to avoid having crackers for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And now even more, my little one eats everything that I do. And every calorie counts.

We are trying to make the right decisions. We know kids who are deprived of sweets are the first to raid the cupboards at friend's houses. We know that white bread has no nutrional value. We know that if a baby doesn't know what sugar tastes like, he won't know to ask for it. We know that rewarding a child with food is self-destructive. Now what? Choices. Choices.

Here are some of the things that we did for the first year. I don't know if they are rules but more like things we believe in

1. No juice
2. No TV, not even Baby Einstein Videos ( Did you know that Disney wil refund your money if you bought them?)
3. No cookies, cakes or other sugary snacks. (I can count on one hand , the times that we broke this rule)
4. Baby eats on his own when possible, no matter how messy the floor looks. He feeds himself.
5. We never bought baby cereal. It was just a waste of money. We crushed our regular cereal and he ate it that way.

I am sorry to dissapoint all my foodie friends but as much as I let my baby taste most of what I eat, I tried to keep it super healthy. Why ruin the one perfectly white tooth he has (yes, just one)?

Now I need to re-evelauate. His first birthday is coming. He will eat cake. It will probably be colorful and full of frosting. I want him to experience all the foods that we eat. I don't want to deprive him of the joy of food. I also don't want him to fill his tummy with junk.

I am curious to know. What are your rules? Do you offer dessert? How much is too much?