Cooking Playdates

November 28, 2010

I’ve been gathering supplies to start having cooking playdates for Mishy and friends. Here are some of my favorites.

Kitchen Utensils:

Headchef:

http://www.headchefs.com/

These child sized kitchen utensils are made of silicone, have posable arms and legs, and even suction cups so they can stand and be decorative when not in use. They are also excellent toys. For the next day or so, gaggle of chicks is having a 33% off sale on these items. If you are not a member of gaggle of chicks, here is my member code:

www.gaggleofchicks.com/r/204

Amazon is also having a special on them – buy three, get the fourth free. These items are not cheap, but I do believe they are worth the price and fun of having them around the kitchen. That is why I also love that they are sales on them right now. I have been wanting these cooking utensils for Mishy for over three months, just hoping they would be having a sale on them.

Cookbooks:

Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes by Mollie Katzen and Ann Henderson – by the author of the Moosewood Cookbook series. This bookcook specifically for preschoolers and up have simple and inventive recipes which are fun to make and yummy to eat.

HandStand Kids – Mexican, Italian, and Chinese – by Yvette Garfield. These cookbook sets have simple recipes which are tasty too. Perfect for children who like to experiment in the kitchen. The Italian kit comes with a chef’s hat, the Mexican Kit comes with an oven glove and the Chinese kit comes with chopsticks.

Here are reviews of the Italian kit on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Handstand-Italian-Cookbook-comes-packaged/product-reviews/0979210704/ref=pd_sim_b_cm_cr_acr_img_1?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

Right now, zulily is having a sale on these kits – instead of $28 for the Italian Kit on Amazon, it’s $13.49. Free shipping is included if you spend $50 or more on the site. Here is my invitation link to join this site:

http://www.zulily.com/invite/mkang883

Everybody Eats Lunch – created and written by Cricket Azima, art by Titus V. Thomas. This inventive book, which is in the shape of a lunchbox, is a travelog of eating around the world. It stops in four different continents – Asia, North America, South America, and Africa where you meet children from that place and find out what they eat for lunch. Recipes included.

Here are more reviews of this book on amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Everybody-Eats-Lunch-Cricket-Azima/dp/0979338441/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1290973573&sr=8-1

Happy cooking with your children! Mishy and I love to make, eat, and most importantly, experiment in the kitchen!

Huntington Library

March 28, 2010

Mishy swirling through the leaves.

Once a month, Huntington Library in Pasadena has free day. You need to get tickets on the first of the month prior starting at 9AM. They usually sell out by 9:03AM. I need to have two computers set up on their web page to get free day tickets and it is so worth the manoeuvering. What I love about Free Day is that it opens at 10:30AM. Otherwise, the Huntington Library opens at noon, which is much too late to venture to Pasadena for Mishy’s naps. We have been going to as many free days as possible. In the summer and fall, Mishy puts on her bathing suit and plays in the children’s garden which as some fun water features. Since it was in the beginning of March, we were all fully dressed. This free day was a special day because her Babba was able to join us.

Pointing to which tree she wants to touch

Looking at the leaves below.

Mishy enjoyed playing this game with her Babba. She takes her hat and his and throws it away. He runs after her and tries to grab the hats from her. She laughs and runs away with them. This time, she decided to return his hat to his head.

Returning the hat.

Here she is with them again. She has just dropped them on the ground and is taunting her Babba to come and get them.

Running through the open grass while playing her hat game.

Being part of the security team.

When we left, there was an abandoned security cart. Mishy decided to see if she would like to be a part of the team.

Waiting for dumplings!

Afterwards, we headed to this fabulous dumpling place in nearby Arcadia called, Din Tai Fung. When Mishy was six months old, Babba and me ate there, wanting to return when she too could have some fish dumplings. Their red bean dumplings are divine. So are their noodles and rice cakes. Everything is absolutely delicious on their menu.

Details:

Huntington Library

http://www.huntington.org/

Din Tai Fung

http://www.dintaifungusa.com/

Bergamot Station

March 28, 2010

Mishy and I have been going to Bergamot Station since she was four months old. She would happily nurse in the Ergo, a baby carrier, while I went from gallery to gallery. It has been a while since we’ve visited and now that she is two years old, I had no expectations. Bergamot Station is a large space filled with individual art galleries. My favorite is the Santa Monica Museum of Art. The curator seems to have a spectacular sense of whimsy, fun, and is in tune with her inner child.

Mishy at SMMOA's Gift Shop

Drinking pretend tea with a real porcelain cup.

Mishy touching everything at the SMMOA's gift shop and being carefully, casually watched.

She found Momma, Babba and Mishy posable magnets.

They have a charming tiny parkette where it is the perfect spot to rest, have a snack, and blow bubbles.

Taking a break in the little little park.

Eating edamame at the little little park.

Running around the tree in the little little park.

After our respite, Mishy and I decided to hit some of the other galleries. This time, it was her choice.

At the Patrick Painter East Gallery

Playing with what was left on the floor

Looking at the Shadow and Light exhibit.

Leaving Gallery Luisotti

Taking a peek at the new installation

Taking in some sculptural work

Eating some fruit leather in the back seat as we drive home.

Details: Bergamot Station

http://www.bergamotstation.com/

For those in the know – they have a wonderful cafe which serves delicious homemade vegetarian soup that is reasonably priced. They are known for their homemade mint lemonade. Mishy thought it was yummy. I did too.

Rockenwagner

February 28, 2010

Going round and round the umbrella.

We first encountered Rockenwagner at the Santa Monica’s Farmers Market. They have a stand on both Wednesdays and Sundays. Wednesdays at the one on Arizona and on Sunday, the one on Main Street. There is usually a line at both stands. They have delicious blueberry brain muffins, flaxseed scones, and a pizza pretzel which is divine. They also have two bakeries – one in Marina Del Ray and on in Santa Monica on Arizona near 3rd Street. The one in Santa Monica is also a cafe which serves sandwiches and salads. We stopped by there because they have small sandwiches which is perfect snack sized when we are on the go. We ordered their egg salad sandwich and smoked salmon sandwich. The egg salad sandwich was on egg bread and the smoked salmon sandwich was on brioche. Mishy was more interested in getting the straw out of its paper wrapper and going round and round the large umbrella outside. She did take a bite of two.

Taking the paper off her straw. Focused.

Details:

http://www.rockenwagner.com/

2nd Birthday Girl

February 28, 2010

Mishy getting her tennis legs.

It was Mishy’s birthday on February 22nd. We had planned to go to Mt. Baldy to do some possible sledding and build snow people. Mishy had some other desires. We let her plan her day.

As soon Mishy woke up, Babba gave her his birthday present to her. A tennis racket and tennis balls.  Mishy loves to watch her father play tennis and Babba loves to show off to her. He went to college on a partial tennis scholorship. (I got her a balance bicycle with helmet and knee pads and elbow pads. More on that in a separate post.)

Dipping her steamed vegetables at California Roll Factory

Mishy had a craving for some soba noodles. Unfortunately, the place we normally go to was closed on Monday. Instead, we found a new place, California Roll Factory. Mishy loved dipping her steamed vegetables in the sauce and them dipping her finger in the sauce. She also enjoyed the mussel miso soup, and ginger slices. Babba likes this restaurant a lot because they have brown rice sushi and is reasonably priced. It is Americanized rolls so if you want authentic Japanese food, this isn’t the place. Their menu can be overwhelming. There are so many different types of rolls. The best thing to do? Look at the menu with the pictures and take it from there.

She loves the swing!

Then we went on the swings at Virginia Avenue Park. Mishy calls it Pico Park. She loves saying, “No people at Pico park.” It is often empty when we are there.

Mishy and Babba horsing around.

Details:

California Roll Factory

11629 Santa Monica Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90025
Phone: 310-996-2366 / Fax: 310-996-2367

Virginia Avenue Park

http://www.santamonica.com/visitors/what-to-do/attractions/parks/

Making sand castles.

Mishy on the way to the farmers market with new baby in hand.

Before giving birth, one of my favorite things to do during the week is go the Santa Monica’s Wednesdays Farmers Market. It covers 6 blocks of wonderful Southern Californian produce, bread, and nuts. This farmers market was one of the main reasons why I learned to drive. I didn’t drive before arriving to L.A. I didn’t have a need since I lived in Toronto and New York where public transportation is plentiful. When I passed my driver’s test, my driving instructor and I celebrated by going to the Santa Monica’s farmers market with pomegranate juice.

Mishy drinking pomegranate juice and saying, "Ahhhh!"

I love sharing all the things I love with Mishy. Of course we have our favorite stands and they change as the seasons change. Here are a few of them.

Bezian’s Bakery Bread – located at the bottom of the Farmer’s Market near 2nd and Arizona. They make the most amazing sourdough bread.

Basiltops – they give away free samples of small pieces of bread with pesto. I never tried them until Mishy wanted to since making pesto is relatively easy. Now, she loves it. Her favorite flavor is Pesto Perfectto. They use lactose free cheese which is a bonus for Mishy since she is slightly lactose intolerant.

The Japanese Stand on Arizona near 3rd Street – We always get their Japanese cucumbers. They are delicious in the quinoa tabbouli I make.

We have so many more stands we love. I will update them as we make our way weekly to the Farmer’s Market!

Details: Santa Monica’s Wednesday Farmers Market, located on Arizona near the Promenade. 8:30AM-1:30PM.

(By the way, the top photo was taken before I started the car.)

Pancakes, Pancakes!

February 26, 2010

Mishy mixing the flour and egg

I have been a huge fan of Eric Carle. I remember my Italian language teacher reading us, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I was overjoyed when I found out it was also written in English. Mishy’s favorite book when she was 4 months old was Eric Carle and Bill Martin Jr’s, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? How did I know this? She always got excited when I read it to her . She made it clear she wanted me to read it more.

Today, she picked up, Eric Carle’s, Pancakes, Pancakes! I was so excited to read it to her since I had bought it a year ago and was just waiting for her to show interest in it. We read it a few times and I noticed she was moving her mouth, making motions like she was chewing the pancake at the end of the book. I asked her if she would like to make pancakes, using the recipe in the book. She was game. We went into the kitchen and starting gathering the ingredients, making slight modifications. She helped me measure and stir. We melted the butter and poured the batter. Flipped the pancake when it was brown underneath, like the book and them slid it on a plate and spooned wild blueberry sauce. We waited for it to cool and then we ate it. It was good!

The finished product with our variation - freshly made wild blueberry sauce instead of strawberry jam.

I made another one for Babba and called him using Skype to come upstairs. (My cell phone is still busted. Skype has come in handy and is also incredibly reasonable for the year.) Babba ended up eating three more.

Mishy watches Babba eating the pancake. She liked hers.

Details: Pancakes, Pancakes! by Eric Carle. Here is the Amazon link.

http://www.amazon.com/Pancakes-Eric-Carle/dp/0689822464/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1267162548&sr=8-1