cookiesI rarely do baking posts.  I’ve done one in fact: a chocolate chip birthday cake.  And it was good.  The cake, and I guess the post because it’s the most read posts on my blog.

Because I’m not really much of a baker. 

For obvious reasons, I don’t want to yell out, “hey, look at me, I’m so similar to Rachael Ray!” I don’t run a multi-million dollar media empire, I don’t know anything about the Adirondacks, and I hate terms like spoonula.  But we do share one thing in common: we don’t bake.  Let me modify: I rarely bake, although for specific occasions, like birthdays and the holidays, I’ve been known to break out a bundt pan.

While I love the smells and imperfect nature of cooking, it’s for those very two reasons that I don’t care for baking.  I hate the precise measurements.  It bothers me that I can’t taste the final product until it comes out of the oven.  And most of all, the smell makes me nauseous.  Call me crazy.  It’s not too bad when it’s in the oven.  But it’s that scent of raw flour/eggs/sugar that puts me off. That ice cream craze with all kinds of raw mix-ins like cookie dough and brownie batter?  If I see someone eating that stuff it will trigger my gag reflex. I sometimes lie about things on my blog.  I’m not lying.  I will literally start gagging.

Even more shocking are the people who admit that they’ll eat through an entire log of cookie dough in one sitting.  I would rather eat uni. Or eel. Or the two other foods that I can’t stand and I conveniently can’t name. Old age does that to you.

So I don’t like to bake too much.

Lauren is getting into baking.  She likes to help, she likes to stir.  Thank God for her raw egg allergy because she’s 100% not allowed to eat the batter.  Not that she’d want to – she thinks it’s nauseating too.  A girl after my own heart.

Lauren loves baking so much that one of her favorite iPad apps is Cookie Doodle. She has so much fun mixing the ingredients, rolling the dough, cutting out the shapes, decorating the cookies with sprinkles and heart-shaped candies.

“What are you up to?” I said the other day when I saw her shaking the iPad up and down (while supposedly reading ABC Mouse).  I had clearly busted her in the throws of an unsanctioned Cookie Doodle mission. And I knew that move well – you have to shake the pinch of salt into the bowl.

She admitted that she’d gone into Cookie Doodle, but was so proud of the cookies she’d just made.   “Mom, can I show you?” she looked up at me beaming.

I looked down and saw this:


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red bananasI hate to say this to the red banana farmers because I don’t want to put them out of business, but I don’t get it.  This red banana thing.  I’m still not clear on why someone would buy them when they’re more expensive, tougher to ripen, and don’t  taste as good as a regular banana.  Chiquita was on to something.  Yellow bananas are the clear victor in the banana wars.  But as we’ve learned in the challenge so far, it’s fun to experiment, and sometimes you’ll find a hidden gem.  Like my favorite to-date, the mangosteen.

LAUREN: What are the 5 senses?

ME: I don’t know. What are they?

SAM: Smell.

ME: Smell, right, what else?

LAUREN: Taste, what it looks like.

ME: Yes, sight.

SAM: Touch.

ME: Yes, right, what’s the last one?

ME: (We all forget this one.) What it sounds like right?

ME: Tell me first what does it look like on the outside?

SAM: Brown bananas.

LAUREN: I think it looks like it’s brown. Like it’s old.

LAUREN: And it has curved branches.

ME: What does it look like on the inside? (Opening) These things took forever to ripen, oh my God. (No joke, I’d tried to open one of the bananas a month before and it was so unripe it was inedible.  Here we were a month later, basically having the same problem, still verging on unripe.  How is this possible?  My yellow bananas develop more freckles and spots than an 80-year old in two days flat.)

ME: Ok, finally open, what does it look like on the inside?

LAUREN: The sun color.

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oystersWe’re officially out of oyster season.  Actually, we’ve been out for a while, but it’s taken me quite some time to make this dish as it calls for a last-minute trip to the fish market to pick up oysters.  Which is completely out of the way, making this a less-than practical dish. 

To make matters worse, it was expensive and not that delicious.  So really, I don’t know why I’m posting this recipe other than the fact that it’s a window into my efforts as opposed to something that I’d really like you to cook for your family. 

But I’ve been craving oysters lately.  Hopefully because they’re contraband right now and not because I’m pregnant.

You know that handy little mnemonic about only eating oysters in the months that have an “R”?  Well it’s true. Do not eat oysters outside of those months.  Unless they’ve been cooked to a sad, rubberized version of themselves, which is exactly the task I took upon myself this week. 

A little backstory: last July, I went out to dinner with Rodney and friends and got horribly sick from eating a half dozen Long Island oysters.  At the time of our dinner, I was blissfully unaware of a developing outbreak of something called Vibrio Parahaemolyticus. 

Vibrio what?

I’ll get to that in a minute. 

But an actual outbreak.  A little bit like this, but without the biohazard suits.  So technically, just a few people from the Health Department standing around, not all that worried, but investigating what might have caused the high number (9) of oyster-related bacterial infections that came through the Tri-state hospitals that week.


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broccolirabeI don’t think just-picked broccoli rabe should have so many yellow flowers; from my quick web research it seems like flowering broccoli rabe means that it’s older and more bitter.  I didn’t really notice the difference to be honest, broccoli rabe usually tastes bitter to me, flowering or not.  But I like bitter greens.  Surprisingly, Lauren was into it.  Sam loved the fact that he got to say the word rob.  Like the broccoli was being held up at gunpoint and being asked to hand over its purse.  Dinosaurs, muggings, whatever works to get this little guy to eat his veggies.  It all works for me.

ME: What’s this called?

LAUREN: Peppermint stick?

ME: Nope.

LAUREN: Broccoli?

ME: Almost, broccoli……rabe!


ME: Yeah, like I’m going to rob you.

SAM: Don’t say the “rob” word.

ME: Some of the stems are a little woody, OK, but here’s a piece.

ME: What does it look like?

SAM: I want dinner.

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Before we start, let's remember how idyllic the lake house is.  Ansel Adams even took a photo of it back in the day.  (Totally lying here, but I could almost have pulled the wool over your eyes with this shot, amazing what Instagram can do with your cell phone)

Before we start, let’s remember how idyllic the lake can be when nobody is tugging on your shirt asking for things. Ansel Adams even took a photo of it back in the day. (I’m lying, but I could have tricked you with this shot, amazing what Instagram can do with our cell phones.)

Another lake house edition of my Wordless Wednesday post. Sorry to disappoint those who were expecting fewer pictures of alcohol, water floatation devices, and sunsets. This week was essentially the same, but with visitors who brought toddlers, so there was just more alcohol, more water floatation devices, and the usual number of sunsets. 

The skies are a little less cloudy here, but the threat of a hurricane still looks pretty significant.  The type of weather that has you running inside for cover, not lounging on an inflatable with someone who is 7-months pregnant.

The skies are less cloudy here, but it still feels like there’s an impending Cat 3, maybe a Tropical level storm on the horizon. The is the type of weather that should cause you to run inside for cover, not lounge on an inflatable with someone who is 7-months pregnant.  

Eric stocks a plastic tub with an avalanche of ice, beer and white wine.  And juice boxes.  So thoughtful.  We later transfer the ice and drinks to a larger plastic tub as this one feels too small.

One of our visitors, let’s just call him Derrick, stocks a plastic tub with an avalanche of ice, beer and white wine. And juice boxes. So thoughtful, even though they were an afterthought. We later transfer the ice and drinks to a larger plastic tub as this one has to be refilled every hour.  

July 4th calls for some serious cliff jumping.  Or jumping off the edge of the dock which is a few inches off the water.  But it kind of feels the same when you're 4 and 5.

4th of July calls for some cliff jumping. Or jumping off the edge of a dock that’s just a few inches off the water. But it kind of feels like cliff jumping when you’re 4 and 5.

We need to rest.  Sam's had a little too much alcohol and passes out IN MY LAP.  Seriously, at least his fraternity brothers didn't cover him in lipstick.  Although I wouldn't have allowed that.

Rest time. Sam’s had a little too much wine and passes out in my lap. At least his fraternity brothers didn’t cover him in lipstick. Although I wouldn’t have allowed that as my mom paws are firmly planted in a protective shield.  Seriously, back off, I will fight dirty if you lay a hand on him.  That’s not a smile, it’s a fear grimace.  I feel threatened and there’s no telling what I’ll do.

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