Sunchoke-2Sunchokes, also known as Jerusalem artichokes, are creamy tuber-like vegetables, much like a potato.  You can eat them skin on and thinly shaved, or boil and mash them into a purée.  We were at a friend’s house for dinner the other night and they served a beautiful sunchoke soup as a first course, drizzled with truffle oil. It was perfection in a bowl.  Maybe I’ll serve the kids sunchoke soup next time as they weren’t excited about eating them raw.

ME: “What’s this thing called, ever seen it before?”


ME: “What is it Sam?”

SAM: “It looks like a snowball.”

LAUREN: “Yeah, inside.”

ME: “It’s called a sunchoke.  What does it look like on the outside?”

LAUREN: “I think it looks like a stem on the outside.  And like a banana on the inside.  And it looks like it has a bruise.”

ME: “Hmmm.”

ME: “What does it smell like?”

LAUREN: “Potato.”

ME: “Yes- I think it comes out of the ground.”

SAM: “Well my teacher told me that roots come out of the ground.”

LAUREN: “Is it a raw potato?”

ME: “Do you think I’d feed you raw potato?”

LAUREN: [No comment, just a suspicious sideways glance]

ME: “What does it taste like?”

SAM: “Yuck.”

LAUREN: “I think it tastes like banana but it has different ingredients.”

LAUREN: “Can I have more of that yummy cabbage?”


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ChickenfinalAt the risk of becoming known as the second coming of Guy Fieri, I wanted to share my latest Crazy Day meal.  This is on the heels of the fried BLT and honestly, I know I should space out these kinds of posts lest I get a bad rap for artery-clogging food, but I recently made a chicken sandwich worth sharing.

One of my friends reached out to me in a panic asking “what do you do on the nights when you have no time.  I mean zero.  You get back from the kids’ classes and it’s dinner time right away.”

My answer to that question, after I suggest “Progresso?” is this: a rotisserie chicken sandwich with arugula, avocado, and lime.  “That’s dinner”? you say.  Yes, it is, it’s hearty, satisfying, is made from real ingredients, and takes all of 5 minutes to put together.  And it’s not Progresso.  Or boxed mac ‘n cheese.  It’s perfect on those days when you (and your kids) are crying out for fast food and you don’t want to give in.

The other great thing about this sandwich is that it satisfies my need for big flavors, but the kids like it as well.  Even if they won’t eat it all together as one sandwich, deconstructed it’s really just a big slab of bread, some chunks of avocado, chicken, greens…Kind of their ideal meal.

Chicken_ingredientsThe important thing about this recipe is that you use chicken with the skin on. Leg meat. Often the skin is pulled off and thrown to the side, which in my view is a big mistake.  The skin and the leg meat are the best-tasting parts of the bird. See that missing leg on my chicken?  That’s what happens when I walk through the door with a fresh rotisserie chicken – especially those from Forager’s Market in Chelsea.  As Mario Batali once said, the breast meat is what you should feed to the dogs, and I kind of agree (but of course, suit your taste).

Although it’s a quick meal, this particular chicken sandwich depends on fresh ingredients. Trust me, there is a huge difference between a  fresh loaf of bread, a juicy chicken, and bright green arugula (not the wilted yellow stuff that you’re waiting to salvage from the cooler—throw that stuff AWAY.  NOW.  It has no good use anymore, except maybe as a side dish for the breast meat you’re feeding to the dog.)


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Don’t get me started on red cabbage.  I’m a little obsessed.  Come summertime it’s all about cabbage slaw (recipe soon to come) with all kinds of mix-ins from mango to fennel to green apple.  It’s like an ice cream bar but healthier.  To my shock and surprise, the kids all loved it.  Maybe because it looks so cool with its vivid purple and white coloring. 

LAUREN: “It looks like a snake.  A purple snake.  It looks like a rope and a snake.”

SAM: “It looks like a squiggly line.” (aka “a thquiggwy wine”)

What color is it?

LAUREN: “Purple!  And White!”

What does it smell like?

EMMA: “Pizza.”

LAUREN: “Like beautiful flowers.”

SAM: “It smells like a monster.”

LAUREN: “I think it has a really fresh smell. Like a river with flowers in a valley.”

ME: “I think that’s the best description I’ve ever heard.”

What does it feel like?

LAUREN: “Like leather.”

SAM: “It feels like a monster.”

What does it taste like?

LAUREN: “I love it.”

ME: “I know you love it but what does it taste like.”

SAM: “It tastes like a monster.”


LoxLet me preface this by saying that I should not spa.  When I do get a massage, I prefer the budget-friendly hole in the wall down the street, where your $60 buys you an hour-long spot on a table in a public room.  It gets the kinks out with minimal fanfare, and off I go.

But last week was my birthday and I decided to treat myself to something a little more special.  A real spa experience where I could lounge around after my massage, drink a chamomile tea, and read trashy magazines.  I mean the Harvard Business Review. 

Spas are like a trip to the Caribbean with kids.  You anticipate how relaxing it will be.  But the reality is that you spend 7 days smearing sunscreen on squirming little faces, cleaning sandy bums, and helping navigate menu options like a tired and grumpy waiter.  By the end of it all, you’re more exhausted than when you arrived, and are somewhat anxious to get back home.

Same thing with spas.  I go there with the best intentions, but often leave more stressed than when I came.  All those women walking around naked.  It’s like a perpetual car accident– you want to look away but my God there are naked people everywhere and it’s kind of hard not to look.

And those nondescript hallways with minimal signage…I always worry I’ll open the wrong door and end up in the lobby wearing nothing but my robe and a bungee key.  And let’s not forget the age-old question about underwear – to wear or not to wear.  Will my masseuse think I’m a pervert if I go commando? Am I showing how unrefined I am by wearing them?

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PickyEatersLong ago, before my kids entered the picture, I read an article on picky eating written by an editor at one of the prominent food magazines. He admitted that he struggled to feed his kids healthy foods despite his own love for food.  

I wondered how he could have let that happen. I assumed that my kids would fall into line with my own style of eating.  That they’d grow up in a wondrous and accepting food environment where they’d eat a broad range home-cooked meals.

I was wrong. I highly underestimated the degree to which my children would develop their own picky eating tendencies; how they’d turn their heads when I presented them with homemade spaghetti and meatballs and vegetarian lasagna.  In the early months they’d eat pretty much anything I’d put in front of them, but by age 18 months, they had developed minds of their own.  In an act of salvation, I turned to the nugget.

It was like crack.  The kids loved; immediately it became their most requested food. Nuggets and fruit. Nuggets and fruit. Nuggets and fruit. 

So began my painstaking efforts to offer multiple options at every meal. Like a cheap watch salesman on Canal Street, I’d open my worn briefcase and hawk my wares. “What d’ya want, you want broccoli? You want rice? Noodles? Dear God please say yes to noodles.”  Of course the answer was always “no”.  At last, so that they wouldn’t starve: “nuggets”?


And so it went, for months on end.  They had total control. They were schooling me, not the other way around.  My son at one point had become so picky that he barely wanted to eat anything at all.  

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