Tag Archive: cooking


Every parent thinks their baby is the smartest baby EVER. Your baby rolled over better, crawled faster and walks better than any other baby EVER.  There’s a girl at work like this – every time she asks me about what Miss P was up to, her baby somehow managed every feat about two months earlier.

When I was expecting Miss P, I read a lot of books and blogs about everything from diapering to breast feeding to actual feeding of babies. I formed opinions on everything and was resolved that things would go according to my textbook plan. Now I hear you veteran parents laughing and you know what’s coming next…

Things didn’t work out the way I planned.  We didn’t end up cloth diapering exclusively.  We haven’t taught Miss P how to use a potty yet (it’s called elimination communication and in other parts of the world is perfectly normal for babies).  The world hasn’t ended because we took a different path – and that was hard for me to accept at first.

But back to the topic at hand. One thing I had never heard of before was this notion called “Baby Led Weaning”. Basic premise is that you skip all the jarred baby foods and dry cereals that you mix with juice and food to make it even palatable.  When baby is ready, you simply start feeding baby foods that you would eat yourself.  It was a very interesting notion to me.

I remembered the times I’d fed my nephew as a baby and I could barely stand the smell of some of the jarred food that I was feeding him.  Some of it was even unrecognizable. If you had given me an unlabeled jar, I would not have been able to identify what was actually in it! (Side note: this was actually a game at my baby shower. Brilliant game, but really eye opening. What do “mixed veggies” actually look like? Mud.)

Jeff thought it was a little bit crazy when I first showed him the idea but we filed it away as something to consider later on. As Miss P got older and started to be interested in the food we were eating, the topic came up again. By this point, we figured that maybe we’d try it in another month or two.  But Miss P had other ideas. One night while we were eating, she was sitting in Jeff’s lap and eying his mashed potatoes. He thought it’d be funny to offer her the spoon to see what would happen. That smart little girl pulled the spoon to her mouth and fed herself mashed potatoes! We were both in shock. Babies aren’t supposed to know how to do that! They just open their mouths like guppies and we shovel in the food!  It was really that moment that cemented the idea of BLW (baby led weaning) in my mind.

Since then, P has been exploring all sorts of fun foods! We started with bananas, then avocados on toast. Steamed carrots weren’t far behind that! We’ve only been on this journey for just two months since we didn’t start till Miss P was about six months but it’s been amazing how smart my baby is! She knows how to feed herself. She picks the carrots first out of the peas and carrots mix we snack on. If she can’t get something chewed just right, she’ll spit it out.

This is watermelon and probably one of her favorite foods so far! You’ll see a little mesh feeder in her hand. Some “purists” (or as I call it, know-it-alls) say using a mesh feeder defeats the purpose of BLW. I respectfully disagree! It gives Miss P the ability to feed herself sometimes the more slippery and messy foods. Watermelon and regular melon works great since the mesh feeder has a handle.

Bonus use for the mesh feeder = ice cubes. As Miss P has been teething, a couple of ice cubes in the feeder let her chew and suck on the cold cubes without me being worried about pieces being broken off. She refuses regular ‘teething’ toys that you can chill.

Before I give you more thought about how awesome BLW has turned out to be for us – let me address something that I’m sure my mother and many other old school parents are freaking out about. Just because I’m feeding Miss P things that we would eat doesn’t mean I’m feeding her blindly or stupidly.  I pay attention to what she eats and am careful she’s not eating anything that would be a hazard to her. I don’t leave her alone with food, either. In our experience, she hasn’t once had a problem eating anything we’ve offered her. That doesn’t mean I get lazy!

I am loving baby led weaning! It’s been such an awesome process for our family. We don’t stress about packing special food when we go places since most restaurants have some sort of fruit or veggie on their menu. We’ll let her taste what we’re eating too. She’s not a fan of sweet potato fries, although I’m hoping she’ll like them some day!  In the next few months, we’ll start introducing her to meats too – so that’ll be a whole new range of experiences for her!

Baby led weaning is inexpensive. No bottles or jars or packages to buy. No special containers to mix and transport food.  Not only is it good for my budget, it’s also good for the planet and my sanity. I can share our dinner with Miss P so I’m not spending extra time making a second meal. She’s experiencing flavors and textures that we eat all the time so that as she grows, it won’t be battle to try new things (that’s our hope at least!).

And my baby is darn smart! She can manage foods very well on her own. We were at a family reunion over the weekend and everyone was confused by this eight month old baby who quite competently fed herself.  She’s also quite brilliant at grabbing your hand that the food is in and guiding it to her mouth.   Because we’ve been feeding her this way, we’ve only used a spoon to feed her a few times and that has been in the last few weeks as we’ve introduced applesauce. As we were sitting together tonight, Miss P kept grabbing for the spoon when I offered it to her. Rather than sticking her fingers in the applesauce, she pulled it to her mouth and got all the contents of the spoon into her mouth and not on her face!  I think we’re getting close to letting her try using a spoon by herself as long as we pre-load it for her.   Never would I have imagined that a baby could do these things without being taught or traumatized. Apparently we’re not giving our children the credit they deserve.

If you liked this, try these!

When I started writing here on Something Catchy, one of my projects was to focus on new and good food and recipes.  This year, we’ve eliminated almost all processed foods and learned to make some pretty awesome things already (Stay tuned for $3 pizza!). One of the things that I didn’t foresee was the change that I could effect and inspire in others.

Our pastor gave us a shout-out in a sermon and I got to share what we were doing with several people. That’s fantastic and it means a lot to me that I could help others.

But this last weekend, I was honored and humbled to inspire someone very special to me… my mother.

We had family come in from out of town, and my mother cooked two very fantastic meals completely from scratch. She stepped out of her comfort zone, chose some fantastic recipes and tried something new. Every time someone complimented her for her meals (which were amazing!), she kept deflecting the praise towards me stating that I was the inspiration.

My mother is an amazing woman who has kept her family happy, healthy and fed for many years. To think that I could inspire this incredible woman is so humbling and special for me.

I hope for many cooking adventures together in the future (and maybe a co-written recipe post or two!).

And just so that this isn’t a sappy post about my mother – read this link about how water can save you almost a THOUSAND dollars a year!

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Welcome to Wednesday On the Web! This is a round-up of what I’ve been looking at/drooling over/enjoying online!

Almost all our snow was gone and we had some very nice 40F weather over the past week. We thought we might actually start seeing spring…. And then, last night and today we were hit with a snow storm that included ice, sleet, slush and rain. Thunder and lightning and the whole works! All the schools are closed today, and I couldn’t even make it into work because the roads are a disaster. There was a really bad accident down one of the roads I normally drive and a 6 year old kid died. I really can’t afford to miss work, but I couldn’t afford the risk of getting into an accident on the back roads I drive.

And I’ll have to admit that the smile that appeared on my daughter’s face when I got her up reminded me that I totally made the right choice to be careful. I have someone depending on me!

Anyways… onto the goodies. And I’ve got some good ones this week!

I started making marble magnets from this tutorial… great presents! (The photo is hers, mine aren’t done yet!)

Although I don’t own one, this article about foods you can make in a coffee maker makes me want to buy one!

Yummy!

I’ve been getting a lot of parenting advice lately, and my sister sent me an article about the MOST unhelpful advice. It was SO funny… and sadly mostly true!

Do you live in the UK? I’ve got my eye on this awesome stamp set and I would LOVE to frame it on my wall!

Last, and probably one of the most interesting things this week is Diamond Candles!

You buy a candle, and it’s guaranteed to have a DIAMOND ring inside! Their site says the rings are valued anywhere between $100-$5,000! What a cool concept! I may have to convince Jeff that I need one of these! (Friends, this would be a GREAT present for me!!)

And that wraps it up for me this week – what are you look at this week?

 

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It’s been a busy couple of weeks around my house.  Why? I got new toys! I’m of the belief that you are NEVER too old for toys, and I love proving myself right!

I got this beauty in the mail…

… and was in love immediately. Seriously in love, but I’ll spare you the graphic details 🙂  It took cookie making by hand from a chore that I hated to do and turned it into an obsession. Now I’m spending time pouring over cookbooks not only for their regular recipes, but now for cookies too! I’ve made chocolate chip cookies, chocolate drop cookies (with dark chocolate and peanuts), and a very vintage recipe. It took all the work out of cookie making and it’s a joy now!

I thought I’d be writing a post just on this gorgeous hunk of metal… but then a bit of fate changed the story.

I had to kill some time while running errands because of the timing of a mom’s garage sale I was going to, and faced with the boring prospect of sitting in my car – I turned into the local mission’s thrift store.  We’re still in the middle of our no-spend month, but I love poking about in thrift shops. As I browsed through the glassware section (which I always do, for I have a one-of glass I picked up years ago and would love another like it), I stumbled across this:

“Always imitated, never duplicated!” it cried out to me. “Delightful to use!”

I had Christmas money in my pocket… I picked up the box and it seemed to call to me.

I put it down.

I walked away. Moving down the next row, I could still hear it. “Stimulate your artistic inclinations!”

A group of old ladies passed the box, and I held my breath. I decided if it was gone when I walked back around the corner, it was fate. They tottered off and I moved slowly back towards the shelf. It was still there.

For $.99, it came into my hands almost unbidden. I spent another half hour wandering the aisles which further cemented the fact that fate had brought me into this store. I found the PERFECT birthday gift for my little sister as well, so I handed over some of my Christmas money and came out a very happy girl.

I got home, put on a frilly apron and looked over my vintage treasure. I would have been surprised if it was ever used because it was in such good condition.

Ten discs of (probably harmful) metal and the press itself. The box included recipes on the bottom so I decided to try one of them.

Caramel or Butterscotch Cookies (Yes, this really is the title!)

2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup butter
2 beaten eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups flour

Cream sugar and butter, add beaten eggs, then add reset of ingredients which have been mixed and sifted together. Put through Ateco Cookie Maker and bake in hot over (425F.).

That’s all the directions, so it took a little bit of experimenting on my part to decide you bake the cookies for about 5-6 minutes.

The results were delicious:

The next morning, I woke up with sore muscles. Even though I used a recipe designed for the press, it still took quite a bit of work to press the cookies down. I’ve started looking for a modern cookie press to make more of these – they’re adorable!

If you liked this, try these!

At the beginning of the month, Jeff and I declared February a ‘no-spend month’.  Now, we’ve made it the full 28 days… so here is our thoughts:

Taleah: The first couple of days were really tough as we adjusted overnight to no TV, fast food or video games. At first, I found myself missing the noise of the television or the games in the background. But after about three days, I began to appreciate the peace.  I read books that I’d been meaning to read for a while. I knit a few rows on my shawl, but you really can’t be distracted in the middle of a row – so not much was done there. I fell in love with baking. I cooked several good meals, and a couple of terrible ones (a cautionary tale).  No fast food was tough at first too – and then we realized how often we relied on that fast food when we were busy. Now, we can make a pretty decent pizza for about three bucks – and it’s not covered in grease. Just the thought of most fast food now is a little bit disgusting, since I can make a lot of it myself now.

Originally, I thought that I’d be all motivated to deep clean the house – and that didn’t happen. As I got into a routine, I noticed that some parts of the house were cleaner and more organized – but overall… not that big of a difference.

I’m very proud that we made it through the whole month. We heard from a neighbor that he couldn’t believe we were giving up TV for a WHOLE MONTH. He had heard of people giving it up for a day, or maybe a week.. but a month? That was crazy.  And it was.  But in a good way, of course.

We’ll go back to watching tv, playing COD: Black Ops and buying the occasional slurpee. But I suspect we will do it with more discretion, that we won’t be glued for hours to the boob tube without a break. We’ll order fast food, but realize how it really doesn’t always taste as good as what we could make at home.  We saved quite a bit of money by cutting the unnecessary out of our lives this month and we’ll take a lot of that experience with us.

I call the month a success.

Jeff: Our month is over and I have to say I really didn’t miss the television.  I haven’t watched any TV nor did I really care to watch any since March has arrived.  I did miss my video games a bit, but after having a massive headache and throwing up after playing last night, I am not sure if I want to go back to it yet even.  The not spending money was kind of nice, I guess.  I don’t ever know how much money we have or should I say, don’t have.  So, that would be up to my wife to actually tell me if that really helped or hurt us at all.  It seems to me like it would, not eating out and not getting a $1.30 Slurpee every other day probably helped a bit, and might help if you look over the year of how much money that actually is.  I am still glad that we did it just to know that we could do it, and if we need to do it in the future.  Of course if my wife didn’t have the internet she might have gone insane.

(Taleah’s Note: I’m the banker in family. We didn’t chart out what the actual dollar savings were, but there was a better cushion of money at the end of each pay period. So it did help! Oh, and of course Jeff would go crazy without the internet too. How else would he spend hours and hours looking at Supreme Court cases and golf videos?)

Have you done any sort of a no-spend month? Or are you thinking about it? Let us know how it goes!

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Sit back my friends, and prepare for a gruesome tale.

Before I begin, let me show you something on a lighter note. As I was reviewing one of the many cookbooks I’ve collected over the years, I saw the following section header:

I will have to admit that I couldn’t get any further than this page. I closed the cookbook and put it into a stack to be given away. There really is no excuse for poor editing.

And now… sit right back and you’ll hear a tale (A tale of a fateful trip!):

Our story starts with Jeff flipping through an old Betty Crocker cookbook that was passed down from his father.

“Have you ever made Chicken Cordon Bleu?” he asked.

When I said I hadn’t nor had I ever eaten it, he explained the recipe from the book. It seemed simple enough, so I purchased the supplies and prepared to make this dish for him.

I brought him into the kitchen to flatten the chicken breasts (with a frying pan because I don’t have a meat pounder thing.)

After that, he turned to other things and I was on my own. The recipe called for a piece of ham and cheese to be placed on the flattened chicken and rolled up. I dutifully laid out my ham and cheese, rolled it up and toothpicked it together.

Jeff came back, looked at the counter, and looked back at me with the smile that says “Broad, you’re crazy.” I called him out on it, since I can read his facial expressions pretty well by now. “Have you ever SEEN a Chicken Cordon Bleu?” he asked.

When I explained again (since apparently he’d forgotten the conversation when he asked me to make it in the first place) that I had no idea, that I was just going from the recipe – he sat me down at the computer to Google a proper looking CCB. In case you’ve never seen one either; this is what they look like (from homebakedmemories.com)

Yeah, the recipe did NOT explain it as well as those photos did. So after some sighs of frustration, I un-picked my chicken. I cut the ham and cheese into smaller bits that could be rolled up in the chicken. I rolled the chicken back up, re-picked and breaded it:

Still a little bit messy, but MUCH more like the photo.

Now if you thought that part was ugly… it gets worse. While I was breading the chicken, I had turned on the skillet with oil in it to pre-heat it.

Whether it was my sleep-deprived baby brain, or another misunderstanding of the recipe – when I put the chicken bits into the oil… they burned. Badly. So badly in fact that I promptly burst into tears, shut off the stove and proclaimed that I never would be making CCB ever again. EVER.

I didn’t even finish cooking them!

So there I was, ruined dinner in the skillet. My kitchen looked like a war zone, as I had dirtied almost every dish. And I had a pile of ham and cheese that had raw chicken on it – it needed to be cooked. Heaven forbid I would ruin a meal and throw out all that ham.

I sucked it up, and mish-mashed together an oven-baked swiss & cheddar (and ham!) mac and cheese. It actually turned out really well, but by this point – there was no picture taking. There was eating of chocolate and the contemplation of a strong drink.  Only contemplation though, since our liquor cabinet currently only contains Jack Daniels and I am not a fan.

Moral of the Story: Always find a picture if you have no idea what you’re making. Jeff advises watching YouTube videos, too.

If you liked this, try these!

Since I’ve been blogging, I’ve found some amazing blogs to follow. Everything from knitters, to scrapbookers, to home redecorators and homeschooling mothers. The talent is pretty mind-blowing.  I could seriously spend hours finding new and fun things to read.

However, this made me realize that I am just not as crafty, homemaker-ish or witty as I’d sometimes like to think I am.

Friday night, we made pizza. (You’ll see the relevance in a moment.) I was tired after a long day out and about and when it came to spreading the dough out on the stone, I just plunked it down and smooshed it with my fingers a few times. It looked good.

It did not work out so well. I didn’t spread it out thin enough, so a pizza that should have taken fifteen minutes… took forty five minutes, and it still wasn’t cooked all the way through.  Since I was already tired and irritable, the pizza sent me over the edge.  I burst into tears over the kitchen counter and tried to explain to Jeff why I felt like such a failure at everything crafty and home-related. I’m pretty sure he still didn’t understand, but he was sweet and ate a whole piece of pizza anyways. He also suggested that I make great cookies so I’m not a failure – but I pointed out that they were normal cookies, nothing super special about the Tollhouse recipe cookies.

After I soothed myself with some amazing strawberry mousse that I’d made earlier in the week, I stated my intentions of painting our basement bathroom that very evening. Jeff rolled his eyes, but said he wouldn’t stop me. But then I realized; we’re not spending money this month, there’s butt-ugly wallpaper trim that I’d need to soak and scrap off, and I really don’t know what theme I want down there yet. Strike one.

I have a sewing machine that my grandmother gave to me, but I haven’t unpacked it yet, I don’t know how to use it and I don’t have any cloth to sew into anything. Strike two.

Finally, I realized that I may not be super crafty, nor a great cook (yet!) – but I could do something.

P’s nursery wasn’t quite ready when she came home, since she arrived three weeks early. We had the important things, but when we came home from the hospital – everything got dropped in a corner and left, since learning how to be a parent is a little bit more important than cleaning up the corner of the room. One thing compounded on top of another, we were given MORE clothes, etc… it became a disaster.

This is what it looked like on Friday night:

And here’s what it looked like Sunday afternoon:

I went on a cleaning and organizing tear and redid the whole room. I sorted out the hand-me-down clothes into the age brackets and stored them away, I packed up the newborn clothes that are too small, and reorganized her closet. I also emptied and stored the bag I had packed for the hospital, stored baby cards and contemplated tacking up Christmas lights (Didn’t actually do the last part, because I’m not sure how to pull it off without it looking very very ghetto.)

It’s not anything worthy of a sharable tutorial, but it was enough to satiate my desire to DO something.

And that’s how I spent my weekend.

If you liked this, try these!

Here’s another one of my go-to meals! I tend to whip up a batch on the weekends and use it for lunches at work.  This is a throw-together recipe, so I’ll give you best estimates of ingredients — but this is best made with leftovers from your fridge.

Pasta Salad Base:

Ingredients:

  • 2 servings pasta
    1-2 cups veggies
    1 cup meat (chicken/turkey/tuna)
    1/2-ish cup mayonaise or sour cream

I said, this is normally a left-overs recipe for me! Today, I had a cup of shredded chicken, chicken stock, carrots and celery from the fridge and frozen peas. I LOVE peas, so I keep them on hand for this salad! Be creative!

First, measure out two servings of your pasta choice (See the box for serving size):

This one calls for 2oz a serving. Again, this is very flexible – but I find that two servings is just about the right amount. You don’t have a food scale? I’d recommend one! It’s really surprising how much a serving of food really is.

Cook your pasta according to directions. I used leftover chicken stock.

While it’s cooking, dice/chop/shred your veggies. (and your meat if it’s not preshredded/chopped)

Yum…. peas!

I’m not making this up – My Doberman Dakota LOVES carrots. In fact, even if she’s sleeping in another part of the house – the second I pull out the carrot peeler, she’s out from under the covers on our bed and sitting in the kitchen door begging for a carrot.

Could you refuse that face? She got her carrot.

Once your pasta is done, drain and dump into a bowl with your other ingredients.  To make a sauce, use mayo or sour cream (or a combo of both). Use enough to coat all your ingredients, and season to taste.

This makes up about four servings – but your milage may vary due to ingredient quantities!

Yum! Do make sure you refrigerate this or keep it on an ice pack if you’re taking it to work – dairy products aren’t fond of warm weather.

Sharing this post at Linda’s Lunacy!

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Something Good

Happy Friday! We make it a habit to look back on the week and think of at least ONE positive or good thing that happened.

Taleah: It got warmer. Michigan normally gets a February thaw before another good snowstorm, but for these few days where it’s been in the 40Fs – it’s been glorious (and good for the heating bill!) And I have a second good thing, my KitchenAid mixer came in the mail!!

Jeff: I have a 100% score in my law class and a 99.98% score in my American Politics class. We won’t talk about the sad 92% that I’m pulling in my accounting class.

Baby P: I’m finally fitting into some of the awesome outfits I was given when I was born! I rocked an outfit that says “Daddy’s Sunshine” this week and he was pretty impressed.

What’s good for you this week?

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Picked up a magazine at the health food store while I was exploring new and different foods to cook. (I came home with sample sizes of millet, quinoa and couscous!)

One of the articles made me think:

“Plastic water bottles consume 1.5 million barrels of oil a year. That makes buying a reusable water bottle the single most environmentally responsible move a fitness enthusiast can make.” Energy Times magazine Feb 2011

I’d argue that it’s the best move that ANYONE can make. You know most bottled waters are just tap water in a pretty bottle, right? So not only is it good for the environment, it’s good for your wallet too!

Do you carry a reusable bottle? If you do, what’s your favorite brand? I tend to be a collector of reusable bottles, and have at least five knocking around the house and the car.
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