Foodie Mama

I started this blog as a bookmaking/mothering/cooking blog and I have noticed the amount of cooking entries to be few. Why is this? I cook constantly, subscribe to culinary magazines, listen to cooking podcasts, and read foodie blogs yet all my food is taking the shape of last-minute throw together meals that deserve no showing-off. My cooking is so booooring and my foodie source guides aren't helping.  An article about domestic vs. imported caviar? Worthless. Recipes for food that is not soft, mushy, and full or calories? Not for my boy. Days of putzing in the kitchen all day? Gone.

That brings me to what I have been cooking: casseroles...I mean hotdishes...this is Minnesota. They're perfect. Soft and mushy, voluminous both in serving size and calorie content (for the baby), easy to make ahead of time and there are always leftovers for lunch the next day (and sometimes supper the next day as well). I'm starting to get better at one-dish meals, but I've had some disasters along the way. The family favorite so far has been any casserole involving pasta (rice pasta). I've made tetrazzini with chicken twice and tofu once...it was great and I fit so many veggies in with the creamy parmesany sauce (peas, lots and lots of cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, garlic...). The secret to casserole-ing seems to be plenty of liquid, lots of cheese, and extra cheese on top. How gourmet. Also, my fat is getting fatter with all that cheese.
I've found a good compromise with my new subscription to everyday food (as seen on PBS Saturday mornings(the food network for people that have rabbit ears on their TV still)). The first issue came in the mail yesterday and was full of ideas that are time and family friendly yet full of fresh ingredients and grown-up tastes as well. It was the pasta issue, so even better. I'll hopefully remember to post about the upcoming custardy mac and cheese, cornmeal crusted fish sticks, "emeril's turkey bolognese", and some other pasta dishes.

Local man Adam Turman's awesome hotdish poster:


Board Book

Wow, it is REALLY snowing outside. Here are some more images of the board book I made for the little one for his birthday.
I made a couple accordion style books that are now in my shop. It has been fun working on something new this week. It seems like I have less and less time to work in my studio, but really the problem is that it's not properly set up so I spend a lot of time looking for stuff and cleaning. This week I've been packing, too. We're heading south to New Mexico on Monday for P's spring break. I've never been, he's been twice, and, like every trip we've taken together, he's begging me to move there if I like it. Anyway, this entry is like the attention span of a one year old. Later!


Happy First Birthday Freddy My Boy!

We had a splendid birthday party at our house today for the one and only FGH. He was stylin' in his "Children's Place" linen shirt/ striped tie/orange vest/plaid visor hat. He wore pants, too. He was really cute-as-can-be and he didn't even mind the tie. The entire party lasted only 3 hours and that was just about right for a one year old. As guests arrived around 11:00 we poured up mugs of coffee. I was nervous about not having enough food, I have a record of serving a meal for not making enough...it's hard to judge when you don't entertain often and you don't really use recipes. A quick run to the co-op yesterday and Super Target this morning were necessary. Just so you now, a sausage (the whole foods italian, yum) and spinach and jarlsburg egg casserole needs 30 eggs to serve 14 people. That's a lot of eggs. I also made that broccoli and grape salad that is so delicious. I used organic turkey bacon, tons of broccoli ( nine heads (smallish ones), an onion (leftover from the farm so it was pretty small after I got the questionable outer layers off), slivered almonds (I slivered them as I only had whole ones), a small bag of frozen peas and a dressing made of mayo, sugar and apple cider vinegar. I've never made this salad but I always love it when I'm somewhere else. It was a good way to add veggies to a brunch. I made a quick fruit salad of blueberries, thinly sliced pears and kiwi as well. My mom-in-law brought scrumptious raspberry muffins (frozen from her own plants(not muffin plants)) and my grandma made some cute cupcakes and 6" cake for Freddy to dive into. My mom brought some adorable farm animal shaped sugar cookies to add to the "farm animal" theme. Wow. I just went on and on about the food. 
FGH had a great time and got so many cool toys, great clothes and exciting books. Thanks everyone! I made him an accordian-style board book with a picture of each month of his life thus far. It turned out very much to my liking. I'll include more photos of it at some point on this blog. He had fun playing with cousin Madeline, of course.
We attempted the whole "messy cake" thing, but he didn't get too messy. It took him awhile to realize that this huge thing on his high chair tray with orange and blue stuff on it was to be eaten. Then, he just ate it. He threw some on the floor, but mostly he just ate tons of sugar. He didn't get crazy because of it, but did fall asleep despite the loud party going on outside his bedroom door when the sugar wore off. (well, louder than the usual silence of me home alone with him during naps). Here are some pics of the Busca at his party...he's having some serious fun. Stunned is the look I see on his face on almost every one.


Coptic Binding

I finally updated my shop to include these books I finished days ago. The coptic binding is fun and exciting. I love how the stitching adds a design element to the book. I'm excited to get them online, but while photographing and editing and entering them into etsy I neglected the lunch dishes and the huge mess in our house from the recent rearranging that took place. You can only do so much during naptime. Oh well. I AM enjoying the swap we just did between FGH's room and my art room. A much better fit for both parties and there may even be room for Peter in the former nursery/new studio so he can study while I work on stuff at night...how romantic...


First Birthday Week

It's FGH's birthday week, he'll be one already on Sunday the 22nd, crazy! He's already been getting some gifts from visiting admirers. The Brennans delivered this miniature-sized Ikea chair which is new favorite during storytime. He can't quite sit in it unattended yet, he doesn't really sit while awake unless he's in his high chair or stroller or carseat but soon and very soon I think I'll see him sitting there reading books. Grandma and Grandpa Hemberger were here yesterday for a visit and bought him squeaky shoes. He loves them. I was impressed how quickly he realized that the squeaks came from his feet. We found them at Baby on Grand, the best baby store I've yet seen. It reminds me of Cotton Babies, the online shop where we got our cloth diapers and other such things that you never see in "real" stores. It's great to be able to touch and feel and try-on things before buying them. It really is a baby store and he's not that much of a baby anymore so most of the gear was stuff we already have and is now in storage, which is probably OK because the deluxe strollers, euro-looking high chairs and bouncy seats would have been much too tempting about a year ago. I do have to mention the bamboo fabric sleepers for newborns...the softest little sleeper...makes me want more babies...trailing off......


Cake in a Mug

Cake in a mug?
I follow a couple of gluten-free cooking blogs and I stumbled upon this cake-in-a-mug recipe.  I was quite skeptical and a little grossed out by the thought of a tiny cake that is cooked in the microwave.  But, there we were on Valentines Day without any chocolate in the house and I knew this weird recipe was just a click away so I gave it a try.  It was good!  It puffed up in the microwave but fell, like a souffle (hardly) and I topped it with some local Izzy's vanilla ice cream (delicious).  It was completely cooked through (or baked, I guess you can bake in the microwave) and didn't stick to the mug.  I subbed garbanzo flour for the tapioca and rice flours since it was all I had.   I also whisked the ingredients in a separate bowl instead of right in the mug because the flour and cocoa were super lumpy.  I'm sure you could easily use regular flour, too, in case it sounds tantalizing.  It's  a lot of calories in one little mug, so be sure to share it with someone.  Or not.  


Happy Valentines Day!

How bad is this? Not bad at all? Completely strange? For Valentines Day Peter and I invested in stocking a mixed drink bar. Or, rather, we stocked a shelf in the kitchen with liquor bottles, we don't have anything nearly as glamorous as a bar, but maybe I can think of something creative that would make our new nightly tradition of a cocktail a little more special. There have been some good ideas in Ready Made magazine: 
Perhaps just a simple vintage or pottery tray on top of our piano (very childproof) would do. I could even include some glassware...I like it...Anyway. I bought a fancy bottle of tequila (my favorite) some gin, triple sec, grenadine, a six-pack of tonic water and Roses Lime. We already had some Kahlua and Jameson. I realize this is not anywhere near a complete bar, but it at least allows a selection. We've been in the habit of buying one spirit at a time and having the same drink over and over again but now we can make White Mexicans (I sub tequila for vodka to make this a Mexican instead of a Russian since I always get allergies from vodka), Margaritas (tequila, triple sec and lime), gin and tonics, tequila sunrises (if we have OJ in the house), or you know, just Jameson on ice, which is too tasty to mix. The next thing I need is a bartenders guide to help me think of more drinks. Maybe I can even find a gluten-free guide, since it seems like hidden gluten hides in things like beverage mixes, they don't have any ingredients listed so I find myself searching online for what's allowed and what isn't.  We don't have a lot planned for this day-of-romance, but a relaxing cocktail tonight with a bowl of popcorn and a rented movie sounds pretty darn great.  



These four books are now in my shop. They were a lot of fun to make. The two larger books I'm calling "scrapbooks," since they have a wide spine and "spacers" which are narrow pieces of cardstock included in each fold of the paper that allow space for photos and other scrapbook type stuff so the book doesn't bulge too much from added media. These books are still great for journaling, don't get me wrong. The spacers also add a little colorful element to the design.

I got quite a bit of work done this weekend at a "quilt" retreat in Forest City, IA organized by my mother-in-law. It was fun. I was the only one without a sewing machine, which made me feel sad as I don't have much time for quilting, but it was WONDERFUL to have a day to work on books. Hubby took care of the baby...I mean toddler...with my bro-in-law, nephew, and father-in-law. Phew, that's a lot of hyphens. I did some experimenting with coptic binding. I'll post pics of the three books I finished at the retreat soon and describe their coptic nature at that point. It was a revelation for me that I can bring my book gear on the road and work other places. There's something about quilting/crafting retreats that is so motivating, all the creative energy in the rooms keeps growing and growing and everyone gets super focused. I can't wait until the next one in March.


New Books

This is my favorite one of the four I just added to my shop, though they are all really different and hard to compare. (((note, I sold one already so there are merely 3 new books in my shop))) buttons were an afterthought, there was a glue mark on the cover (darn glue, I hate it), and so I tried covering it up with all sorts of different things, some of the plaid paper from the inside was almost good but not quite. I added the top button, then the next day added the other two since one big button looked rather stupid. Such decisions to make late at night.

Check them out in my shop!


Crafty Home Projects

Suddenly, FGH has taken to napping  thanks to his ingenious mother who figured out that he will nap in his pack and play in my art room since it is so dark in there.  Since all my bookmaking stuff is in that room, I have spent my free time cleaning (of course) and also running my sewing machine.  Today I finished a valance for the kitchen and yesterday I made a couple throw pillows for the living room.  We may only live in this rental for a few more months so I picked projects that would easily fit into another house.  I figured the valance would work on any kitchen window for the most part.  It's nice to add some splashes of color since I don't want to spend the time, effort, or money to paint the walls of our abode during these transitional years.

(I do have quite a few books in progress, and some are already waiting to be photographed, so I will be adding to my shop soon.)



After one warm day, I am filled with spring fever. 45 degrees in January in Minnesota is like a tropical vacation. Seriously, as I was jogging behind the jogging stroller I told a sidewalk-scraping St. Paulian that 45 is hot enough, I was sweating buckets. Spring fever usually gets me excited to plant the first seeds and to finalize all the CSA plans for the upcoming growing season. Since we are no longer on the farm or running a CSA, I started to feel sad and bitter...again...about moving away from the farm. I emailed Loon Organics (they bought our farm) and decided to join their CSA this year. I thought it would be a great way to keep in touch with the farm, Toblerone, and hopefully some of our members. I will really really miss all the produce so it should help to get a full box every week. We will be picking up at the Mill City Farmers' Market in Minneapolis every Saturday morning. The new farmers (I call them the loons), will be selling produce as early as May 9 with hoophouse greens (yum!) I'm very excited to visit this market, as we had no time to do such things the past 6 summers while farming. I also signed up for the tomato share, salsa, greens, and pesto share (which were very popular amongst our August Earth members). It will be very interesting to experience a CSA from the other end. As for playing in the dirt (another thing I will greatly miss), I plan on getting a community garden plot, helping friends with their gardens (Sarah for one) and volunteering at "the" farm (our old farm). I feel like this farm transfer may end up like an open adoption. Hopefully.

A shot from last spring in the greenhouse with new onions, brassica seedlings, and spinach poking up in the background: