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Tuesday Book Review: Board Books for the Babies and Little Kids

January 18th, 2022

Summer 2021 + throwbacks

(My sis and me selling lemonade, circa 1969; photo by our dad, James David Row)

Books! Yeah, as always I have books piled up everywhere. Ready for some reviews?

“Nom Nom Nom: A Yummy Book with Flaps,” by Jeffrey Burton, illustrated by Sarah Hwang (Little Simon, 2021, $7.99) is a kooky little book featuring a kitty, a puppy, a cub, a shark, a crocodile, a baby dino, lion cub and a little alien. They’re here, they’re hungry, what do they want to eat? The choices are… interesting. The kids will get a kick out of it.

“This Little Rainbow: A Love-is-Love Primer,” by Joan Holub and Daniel Roode (Little Simon, 2021, $7.99) is way overdue. This board book is a great introduction for “little rainbows” who have big, loving hearts. We’re introduced to lesbian, trans, bisexual, queer and gay heroes, including my hero, Freddie Mercury of Queen; performer Josephine Baker; computer pioneer Alan Turing and others. About time. Peace/love/peace/love to all of us.

Hello, “Mermaid Dance”! Nice to meet you. This cool, colorful, interactive book with pull tabs, is full of  beautiful images of mermaids, mermen and sea creatures. It was written by Matthew Van Fleet and illustrated by Mara Van Fleet (Paula Wiseman Books, 2022, $21.99).

Best, always,

Wacky Mommy

Wednesday Recipe Club, a la moi

January 5th, 2022

Well, it was the holidays, we ate like piggies, but who am I kidding, it’s always the holidays over here. Birthdays, New Year’s, Groundhog Day, I’m just saying. For belated New Year’s Eve, friends and I are planning to make shortribs, cornbread with honey and butter, Hummingbird Cake, and Hoppin’ John for good luck for the year… HERE, make some:

  • Black-eyed peas
  • Olive oil
  • Onion (I’ve been using a lot of shallots lately, so sharp and good)
  • Garlic
  • Salt/pepper/hot sauce

Soak, cook and partially drain black-eyed peas. Carmelize onion and garlic in olive (or vegetable) oil and add to peas; add salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste. I like Tiger Sauce or bento sauce the best.

I’ve never made a Hummingbird Cake, but I like a good spice cake, especially when fruit is added. But we may stick with Chocolate Volcano Cake because I like how everyone acts like it’s the first time they’ve ever seen such a concoction, whenever I make it. I mean, I make this cake a lot, and have since I was a teenager. It’s just that kind of recipe — fun, yummy and wow it’s molten chocolate. Like, if your kid needs to do a project for the school science fair, instead of building a volcano, you and the kid should make this cake instead and bribe the judges. Pretty sure they’ll earn a blue ribbon.

Also, any excuse to break out the creme fraiche, whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, y’know? Lol.

So I will let you know how BNYE (belated New Year’s Eve) goes.

My friend and I have been cooking for each other a lot, because it gets boring just cooking for yourself. She does a dynamite Ribollita and also makes superb breads. And jams. Fancy, individually-made salads. oh my god, her frittatas… Also a Key Lime Pie that is so exquisite it brings a tear to the eye. I start thinking crazy thoughts like, I don’t need any other foods, just this pie, more pie, please?

Only she left town For the Holidays and now I’m just eating my own cooking and I don’t make the best pies, pies are frickin’ tricky to make.

So I’m sad.

But this turned out perfectly:

ORANGE CHICKEN WHICH IS WAY BETTER THAN THE PANDA EXPRESS VERSION

I found this recipe on Facebook (?? what even is up with Facebook, with all the TikToks and recipes and help wanted ads?? It’s like they’re tailoring it specifically to me. Oh… wait…)

Where was I? Yeah. We order too much orange chicken from fast food places, and it’s always random bits and hunks of I don’t even know what kind of mystery meat.

Step up your game, Panda Express and everywhere else.

But this recipe? Easy-peasy orange squeezy.

  1. Dust off the crockpot
  2. Try not to think about the faulty crockpot that kills the dad is “This Is Us,” or as I call it, “This Is Just Manipulating My Emotions”
  3. Pour in some olive or vegetable oil (I don’t really measure thing anymore, sorry, so use your best judgment. Not too much, not too little) and turn on high to heat.
  4. Shake cornstarch in a flat dish and dredge boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used four) and add to slow cooker. Let cook for a few minutes on each side, then…
  5. Around the edges, drizzle in soy sauce. Pour in barbecue sauce (Stubb’s!). Spoon in about half of a 16-ounce jar of orange marmalade.
  6. Cook on high for a couple of hours and low for a couple more hours until the chicken pulls apart easily.
  7. Serve as sandwiches or over rice.

It’s very tasty, inexpensive and perfect for lunches/leftovers.

Next up:

Since my friends and I cook for each other, and I still cook for Steve (remember him? morehockeylesswar? He’s Chili AF!) and the kids, and the kids’ friends, when they’re around, because, well. That’s life. I’ll always cook for them until I get sick of it, which I hope I never do. They cook for me, too, so this works out nicely. Love love love.

Anyway, we do a lot of trading of casserole dishes, Tupperware, bottles of wine, six-packs of Two Town Hard Cider, and Ball and Kerr jars. I found these recipes and I’m posting them here since they sound just delicious.

OK, babies, bon appetit! Don’t forget to eat/cook/write when you can!

WM

Fiesta Salsa (courtesy of Ball Jars)

For two pints, you will need:

2 pounds fresh tomatoes (about 6 medium; will yield about 4 1/2 cups finely diced)

3 tablespoons vinegar

1/4 cup Ball Fiesta Salsa mix (mix well before measuring) or use minced white onion, jalapeno, salt, pepper, sugar and lime juice like I do; skip the vinegar if you sub lime)

Combine ingredients. Don’t go all crazy. (PS yes they included destructions for how to can the salsa, which I realized i just turned into Pico de Gallo. But I don’t can. I either make stuff fresh or I freeze (when possible — jam, for example).

Next…

Honey Orange Slices

(Yields about three half-pints)

4 large oranges, sliced, then cut in half, end pieces discarded

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups honey

Juice from one large lemon, plus zest

3 sticks cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons whole cloves

1 1/2 teaspoons whole allspice

Put oranges in a saucepan, add water to cover; bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer (about 30 minutes) until peel is tender; drain.

Combine sugar/honey/lemon juice; bring to boil.

Add orange slices and spices (tied in cheesecloth bag. Simmer about 40 minutes.

Pack orange slices in jars; pour liquid over. Cool, then refrigerate. Give them to your friends and see how impressed they are.