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I've been blogging over at Our Sleeping Flowers these days. Still me, and still delicious, come join me!

- we celebrated a few birthdays this weekend, and had in-n-out twice to celebrate. within three days. we're crazy like that.

- one of those birthdays was an actual birth, and it was the best news I got all weekend.

- I am hearing more and more phrases voiced by my little one, obviously learned from our own dialogue. the latest is "oh crap" and "farted". it's super classy. I am now monitoring my conversations and habitual reactions. I used to think it was kind of funny/cute when she'd make a noise, then announce what it was; now I'm realizing she should probably say "excuse me" instead. we're making the change; slowly but surely.

- who knew ddr was so fun? even when you're over 25, get an "F" every time, and you're in public?

- we watched this movie this weekend, and loved it. so sweet; and made me want to watch the sunset from a tall tree.

- I've been thinking a lot about my grandmother lately. How she smells of peppermint and vinegar, loves bread pudding for dessert, how her infectious laugh always leaves me with a smile, and she gives the most crushing bear hugs, or at least used to.

- I am coming out of a small food rut. February and early March get to me with a lack of inspiration that seem unavoidable. I find myself tied down (and lazy) with regulars and reliables. Gratefully I feel inklings of inspiration awakening my senses and palette again, just like spring to my spirit.

happy random monday.

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Apparently my excitement of the coming of spring post was premature. This morning we awoke to about 6 inches of powdery white conclusive evidence to frame me as a liar. But by this afternoon it had melted significantly, so my observations still stand. Because it was wet, and heavy, and obviously melting (even at 9 am), I dressed wayne up in all her snow gear to tromp around the snowy lawns; she didn't last long. I think it might have something to do with her snow gear making her look (and move) like randy from a christmas story. I had to come to her rescue, pulling her up to standing, many times. Sometimes face down, another, face up. Plus, she loves to sip something warm when she comes back in.

Again, I am looking back at the week from the standpoint of some favorite senses.

seeing. a lot less of the computer; we had a super busy real life week.
smelling. lots of consciously inhaled air. it's the best.
hearing. live music. it's been a long time since my ears have been hazy.
tasting. banana avocado chocolate pudding. follow this recipe, just add a banana + decrease agave.
feeling. invigorated (+sore) from progress I've made towards my first big goal of the year.
dancing. early in the morning, before sending dada to work with a kiss + wave at the window.
awaiting. a weekend full of birthdays for special people.
remembering. how to prioritize and re-prioritize again.

what did you notice this week from another perspective?

unseasonal and wrong for today's weather but still delicious blueberry smoothie recipe at zupas today.

happy weekend friends.

Shadows shorten as the days lengthen.
I'm not sure how to explain, but I can smell it. I think it has something to do with thawing dirt.
Speaking of, instead of snow angels, the babe makes earth angels. and I let her.
I am continuously lured into the sun's trick of believing it is pleasantly warm outside, but promptly sent back in for need of a scarf and mittens.
snow storms, and their shadows, don't stay around longer than a few days.
I begin to crave more bright, lively, and ephemeral flavors and textures rather than the heavy enduring meals of deep winter.
I just feel it.

what have you seen of spring (or maybe autumn) where you are?

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How do you like your rice? sticky? mochi-ed? long? short? brown? white? cooked? raw? (is that possible? i'm sure it is...) I like my rice the way I like my chocolate, in every way possible. Of course it also depends on my mood + the weather, and lately I have been adding wild rice to things like soup and....... soup.

Okay so I haven't been as diverse in my dinner planning as I like to think, I blame this drawn out winter (they're all drawn out). It seems like each time I make wild rice I find myself wondering why I don't make it more often. It's nutty, a little grassy, chewy, and wild. Even the name adds excitement when everything else is monotonous and blah. Plus, when you combine it with certain colored foods it's breathtaking. After writing today's zupas post I have a hankering to make something colorful and warming to go with my wild grass. It may be correlated to the snow we got yesterday, but even with snow dusted (now melted) lawns, I can feel spring stretching it's legs; maybe doing a few x rolls. I even found a worm and added him to our garden box on the balcony. Yes, our part of the earth is waking up and I love it.

Sheena, who blogs from the little red house started posting her week in five (and thensome) senses. it was brilliant. I want to notice my world in every way + dimension I can. It makes small memories more meaningful and therefore memorable.

Here's our week, from a handful (or two) of our favorite senses.

seeing: the moon, so big and bright, it was so tempting for our toddler. "moon! get it!"
smelling: heart shaped almond cookies that permeated every room, and new wood, sawdust included.
hearing: the sound of the balcony door being opened for the first time this year, to give aforementioned worm a new home.
tasting: soups that kept us warm inside and out, lots of greens (i'm still recovering), apple cider after a romp in the half inch of snow we discovered yesterday morning, and chocolate. duh.
feeling: all the fabric I had forgotten I owned, and the rat nest my little one wakes with every morning. and nap.
dancing: to billy joel with dada, and primary songs with friends.
celebrating: little friends' birthdays, a day of love, and a late winter snowfall.
giving: valentine's, hand drawn pictures, and so many cheesy smiles.
awaiting: when the house will be in order again. did i mention the state it's in? It's better, but still a clinical disorder worthy mess, at least to me.
remembering: friends and memories from my younger years, looking through old photographs and yearbooks will do that to you, and make you smile.
cherishing: the fact that I get to spend every moment of the day with such a hilariously perfect little girl. i love being a mom.

here's wishing you a rejuvenating weekend.

today's zupas post on wild rice

Melissa Chappell, my seasonal foods class partner in crime, is leaving for Haiti to assist Mama Baby Haiti, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the health and well being of mothers and babies in various villages in Haiti. Melissa will be giving her service at their birthing and health clinic, and hopes to bring the staff materials they need. Materials we often take for granted, like bedsheets.

Please come support the organization, support Melissa, and enjoy an evening of lovely company, good food, fantastic local art, and soul moving music.

more information about the event here.

If you would like to help but can't attend the event, donate to MamaBaby Haiti directly.

There's not much to say about this ice cream, except that it's better than any chocolate ice cream I've ever had, storebought and homemade combined. Many people might tell you they have the best chocolate ice cream recipe, but they don't know what they're talking about because this is it. I'm sure there will be some people who will contest my sense of taste, and that's alright. However, if you come to our home when chocolate ice cream is on the menu, and I haven't recently sent the husband shopping, this is what you will be served. and this is what you will be dreaming about the rest of the week.

The first time I made this ice cream was to celebrate the babe's first birthday. It was a customary gesture, to go alongside her chocolate birthday cake (I'm still searching for a winning recipe for that). Speaking of, we have a birthday coming up next week...

Something else about this ice cream, I can't really take credit for it as it is almost entirely Melissa's recipe. I only added cream + vanilla. Admittedly, it's the best dern vegan chocolate ice cream I've ever had too, because it's ridiculously easy to convert. you do trust me, don't you? try it vegan, I dare you.

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At this very moment, our basement slightly resembles a re-run of a hoarder's episode. Not that I would really know, I've only ever seen one episode. However, one episode is more than enough to give you a visual. Over the weekend, and including the holiday, we started a small organization/home improvement project that necessitated pulling everything out of closets, drawers, boxes and the like, and while most of the major piles are awaiting a move into their shiny new homes (read: plastic bins from wal-mart) they are sitting in various piles on the floor, countertops, and anywhere else we can find room. I feel like there is zero order, but gratefully it's only temporary.

To take our minds off the mess during the holiday yesterday, the babe and I decided to make up some valentine's for her toddling friends. We used the cookie recipe Melissa taught at our Valentine's day class on saturday. The class where I ate way too much chocolate, and the class where I decided I will never get sick the week before teaching again. My head was so full of pressure that I couldn't hear well, and my mind wasn't as sharp as usual, so I wasn't answering food questions (or any question) very well. This is a sort of lame apology to the class, but wasn't the food still awesome?

a few more things from our weekend:

- my valentine gave me a few nontraditional gifts; an extra hour of sleep, a swiffer mop, and a peg board. It was the best valentine's day yet.
- we made a visit to Lowe's thrice, wal-mart twice, costco once, and are planning a trip to the thrift store to make a very large delivery.
- I discovered that I was nominated as someone's favorite mom food blog over at babble.com - to whomever you are, thank you. my confidence and smile was a little brighter today; especially since I fed my family leftovers all weekend.

how was yours?

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Do you have any recipes in your family that are defining? You know, the kind that you just assume will grace the tables and your belly at certain family gatherings? We have a lot of them, and I love sharing those recipes with you because they are not only delicious, but precious. Although a handful of them are chinese dishes from my father, some of those precious family recipes hail from my mother's southern roots, and will knock your socks off. Strangely enough (or not so very strange at all), the majority of them are desserts. Lemon Meringue pie, bread pudding, gingerbread, and then there's this cheesecake. Well, cream cheese cake. with a sour cream layer on the top. And then I had to go and add a dark chocolate ganache on top of that (today's zupas post). aaand then I couldn't resist drizzling a tart pomegranate syrup underneath.

I just don't know when to stop.

Even if you forget the ganache and syrup, this cheesecake is good (can I do anything else to emphasize?) and I happen to think we know good food.

Dessert is an exception I make when it comes to eating a diet of healthy wholesome food. It's worth every bite because it's essential to indulge every now and then. and again. especially for valentine's day. and maybe easter... that is the next holiday right?

Don't forget about the AMANO CHOCOLATE class this saturday! A perfect little gift for your valentine. more information + registration here.

wishing you a loving weekend surrounded by happy cuddly people. preferably ones that you like.


p.s. are you sick of chocolate yet? how could you? see you tuesday.

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what's that? you want more chocolate? you bet.

Not sure if I had told you before about being a contributor for April Atwater's new online magazine Simply the Sweet Life. (Is it just me or does there seem to have been an influx of beautiful + digital magazines lately?) In december I shared a recipe for tangerine curd. A recipe I decided could do without an egg yolk or two (keep that in mind if/when you make it).

This month I am sharing a recipe for homemade truffles to give your valentine. These little balls of chocolate are not to be taken lightly, and only shared with those who you are completely infatuated; or anyone who likes serious chocolate; that would be me.

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What kind of food storage do you use? We use glass containers for most leftovers, sometimes the tableware it was served in with some plastic wrap on top, plastic zipper bags and freezer paper for the frozen goods, and plastic and wax paper baggies to store other dry items like sandwiches, snacks, etc. I have been interested in the abeego wraps, "natural, reusable, eco-conscious food storage created with hemp/cotton fabric infused with a blend of beeswax and plant extracts". I love that they are fabric, they're completely natural, obviously reusable, they can be used for just about anything dry and cool, and I bet they smell great. I have seen a diy version to make your own but wonder if it would have the same longevity.

It would fun, opening a lunch box and all your food is wrapped in small packages tied with string. But then I think about little ones so easily forgetting +/or losing them at school (hypothetical at this point, I still have at least 4 years), combine that with the price and I begin to rethink my greener choice.

Do you use "earth friendly" food storage? Do you use abeego wraps? Or are you still using ye ol' sammy bags like us?

My toddler has a number of favorite foods, but I think the one that tops her list is oatmeal. I have to confess though, she doesn't get it from her father. No friends, my husband is sadly not an oatmeal fan (gasp!). He'll eat it if it's the only thing available, if it's goopy and thick rather than creamy, he even enjoys it on occasion, and out of love and service I find him at the stove (or microwave) making it for the babe and I certain mornings. But as an everyday breakfast it's just too much, or rather not enough. I guess I can put myself in his shoes, trying to understand why something so comforting and gentle to start your day can be the very opposite of what you want... hmm. Gratefully there are options other than just stovetop oatmeal, although when husband + I change it up, baby is still calling out for her bowl of constance.

This is for all of you looking for variety.

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February and March are the most difficult months to cook for, in my opinion. It's a good thing we have valentine's day to celebrate or else I'd get tired of root vegetables and dried nuts and fruit. Actually that's not exactly true, but I still think these two months are the most difficult, seasonally eating-wise.

This saturday, Melissa and my seasonal foods class at Jacob's Cove will feature an inordinate amount of chocolate, in honor of Valentine's Day. And not only is this class going to be stellar because let's be realistic, chocolate itself is stellar; but guess who is sponsoring this particular chocolate class? Amano Chocolate.

getting excited?

We will be demonstrating:

Red Fruit Parfait with Maple Cream, Linzer Heart Cookies with Raspberry Filling, Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Crepes with Fruit and crème fraîche, Fudge Ice Cream with Raspberry Syrup, + Tempered Chocolate Dipped Sweets

We will also be sharing a little bit about our favorite natural sweeteners, and why they're so amazing. If dessert, chocolate, or love is your thing, you won't want to miss this class.

Sweets for your Sweet Valentine Class
February 12, 2011 :: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

our lovely february class brought to you by:



This was our Chinese new year main course. Although I had planned to share it with my family, because of other obligations I ended up eating alone, but I still enjoyed myself. However I have decided that there is no way to photograph a whole cooked fish. Especially when the fish eyes are intact. Well, maybe there is, but not for me. There's just something wrong about having a face gazing back at me. I haven't prepared any meat for quite a while, and I found myself unusually sterile in my preparations and mentality.

This recipe is one of my father's illustrious descriptions, which means when I ask him for it, he gives no real measurements, just a list of ingredients and his description of the method of cooking is scattered and disconnected. But somehow the end product is always delicious. In all honesty, I love my father's recipes and the way he describes them. And even though I was feeling less than relaxed with raw meat in my kitchen, I was still comfortable making my own alterations, what few there were.

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The past few days we have been preparing for the new "year". So much about the chinese new year celebration is symbolic. As you prepare to welcome in the new year, you are to do so with a clean slate and optimism. Traditions like cleaning and decorating your home, purchasing new clothing, and eating lucky foods are a big part of welcoming the new year with positive energy.

To hold to tradition, we decorated our home with slightly tacky yet festive banners and new year signs. We have been taking on a number of organization projects that although they are small changes, have made a world of difference. Seriously, who knew I was living my life in such disorder? I have a new (to me) outfit ready for our celebrations, lucky treats prepared to bring us fortune and prosperity, and I have spent my time helping others, cleaning, and anticipating a fresh start. I wonder if that's a part of the allure of the lunar new year, as yet another point of time to re-focus and re-commit to life bettering goals.

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