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A few weeks ago I wrote a post about smart kitchen tips, including this little reference to saving your leftover bread and turning it into bread crumbs. A mere blog post won’t do justice to the genius of this technique, but I’m going to try.

The process is easy. Just take your old, leftover, stale bread – baguettes, bakery loaves, whatever you’d like, and give them a whirl in the food processor. I don’t even take my crusts off, as many directions for making bread crumbs suggest. Just rip your bread into chunks, and pulse them a few times until they resemble coarse crumbs….And there they can sit, bagged in a Ziploc, ready and waiting in your fridge until you’re ready to make them the star of your show.

You’re making the same kind of bread crumbs that you’d find in a box at your local grocery store, but a fresher, better-tasting version.

Not a fan of the bread crumbs from grocery stores to begin with?

Neither am I. On the odd occasion I’ll use Panko, but I won’t touch the other kind. You know the kind that I’m talking about – the ones that you’ll find on grocery store shelves stored in cylindrical cardboard containers –  plain or Italian. They’re usually sitting there next to the shelf-stable grated parmesan with the green lid. I’m being as complimentary as possible here, but those bread crumbs taste like oregano-infused sawdust left in open-air containers in someone’s garage.

Breadcrumb collage

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When I started this blog a little over 6 months ago, I was excited to write about food in the context of family life. I’ve been an avid cook for years, and in learning to cook, I amassed a solid collection of cookbooks– several hundred in total. I’m a nerd like that. I love nothing more than to hole up with a good book, and could in fact spend decades in a remote cave doing just that. As long as that cave came with nice wine and some fancy French cheeses.

When we moved to our NYC apartment in May 2005, one of the first things I did was have our contractor build a gigantic bookcase so that I could collect to my heart’s content.

I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that the lower two shelves and part of the third are all cookbooks. It’s an illness really, and I’m aware of it. I do want to clarify, however, that most of the books were bought before I had kids. Because these days it’s hard to find the time to sit around with a mug of steaming hot cider in my lap, casually flipping through a pile of cookbooks. That’s what retirement is for. Cookbooks, and yoga. That’s the dream at least.

Lucky for me, even my kids are getting into books. Here’s Sam, learning about biology.

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Farm Collage

This weekend we celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving and for the first time in 10 years, I headed home for the holiday. Our family farm has been a part of my life for over 30 years. It’s hard to believe that I was about Lauren’s age when my parents bought it. Some things are still the same – the pond, the forest, the vegetable patch, the old meandering creek.

And some things are new – the renovated kitchen with the long-awaited gas stove, the screened in porch with a view of the pond, and most important, the coyotes who have built a home for themselves near the barn.

Travel is tough when you have young kids, so we don’t get up to the farm often. And I’m lucky enough to have my family visit me in New York. Particularly for American Thanksgiving every November.

Learning to cook Thanksgiving dinner was a turning point in my cooking career. It goes without saying – this dinner is a beast, the most fearful night of cooking for many a home cook. There are high expectations, loads of prep work, and biggest source of angst – the turkey itself.

If you’ve ever dealt with a raw turkey before, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Forgive me for being blunt, but it’s not often that most people need to handle an 18-lb dead animal.

Prepping a raw turkey can make even most die hard carnivore squeamish. Lifting it up is strenuous, and that wingspan! It’s impressive and horrifying all at the same time.

To this day, prepping the turkey is one of my least favorite activities in the kitchen. But I buy organic, sustainably-raised birds to ease the guilt factor, and handle it with care, brining it and layering it with butter and herbs. It’s cooking as spectacle to some degree, but it’s tradition, and Thanksgiving dinner wouldn’t be the same without it.

In 2003 I cooked my first Thanksgiving dinner. I’d been cooking actively for a few years at that point, but had yet to venture into Thanksgivingdinnerland. 

Fruit and veg

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October Pump Giveaway_FeedMeDearlyI’m being serious here, let’s talk about breasts.  And breastfeeding.  Because it’s an important topic.  Men, you may want to avert your gaze, skip over to the post about naughty tomatoes. Or feast your eyes on these well-crafted nachos.

Or keep reading of course, because I’m giving away a pretty awesome gift to one of my lucky readers. And who doesn’t need a breast pump? Men included, not for yourselves of course, that would be frightening. But even if you’re not expecting or a new mom, most of us know someone who is having a baby and could probably use one of these pumps.

I’ve teamed up with Evenflo to bring you the latest hospital-grade breast pump on the market. Because I wouldn’t be encouraging people to get their kids to eat their greens if I hadn’t tried my hardest to start them on breast milk.

Breastfeeding didn’t come easily though. As I touched on in a previous post, I was sick as a dog when Lauren came into this world. Pneumonia was kicking in, my mothering instincts hadn’t yet taken a seat at the table. Not a great combo for your first job as a mother, which is at the bare minimum, to feed your baby a thimbleful of milk.

Exhausted and barely able to move, I could hardly think of giving an ounce of energy to the little being who was wheeled in regularly to my room, swaddled within an inch of her life, eyes half-open looking for someone to latch onto.

The nurses encouraged me to try feeding her, but I lacked the strength to even hold her in my arms.

I could see the sideways glances. The secretive conversations as they left the room. It wasn’t long before I was swiftly introduced to the machine: the industrial strength breast pump that I’d be attached to for the next few days to make sure that my supply didn’t disappear before I got home.

And so began a 4+ year relationship with a variety of pumps and contraptions that would get me through a combined 18 months of nursing 3 separate children.

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I get this question all the time – from friends, family, people who read the blog: “How do you have time for all of this cooking?”

And it’s true – time is a precious commodity in our home, just like it is for anyone who has kids, a full time job, or both. Between work, juggling my kids’ drop offs and pick ups, managing their afterschool activities and doctors’ appointments, there’s not a lot of time left for cooking.

But I’ve figured out a few strategies that help me cook healthy, creative food at home despite this time pressure. 

So here they are – my top 5 habits for time-pressured cooks:

1. Wash and bag your greens the day you bring them home

It takes time to save time. Might be counter intuitive, but spending 20 minutes putting away your groceries properly will help you in the long run. As soon as I get home from the grocery store (or later that evening if I’m strapped for time), I wash and bag any greens – just rinse in the colander, and stick them in separate Ziploc bags with a dry paper towel. The benefit is that it extends the life of your produce, and makes your greens readily available for a quick meal. No chopping wet herbs, no limp greens in your cooler. With a few minutes of effort, you’ve saved yourself a whole host of headaches.

Good for: Herbs, lettuces, and any dark, leafy greens such as Kale or Chard.

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