Tuesday, February 26, 2008

This week in my kitchen (Week of February 25th)

Have I mentioned that I love to cook? Well I do. Trying out new recipes is such a treat, and baking up some bread or muffins is like stress-relieving therapy for me.

I like to have a baking project every week. This week, what with snowstorms, sickness, and lack of exotic ingredients, I turned to an old standby comfort treat...chilling in my fridge as I type this!

No Bake Cookies

1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
4 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 tsp. vanilla

In medium saucepan, combine sugar, milk, butter and cocoa powder. Heat to boiling and cook for 1 1/2 minutes (be careful not to over- or under-cook). Stir in peanut butter, oats, and vanilla. Drop by large spoonfuls onto wax paper-lined baking sheet and chill until firm.



As far as dinners go, I'm doing some soup and a good ol' spaghetti night, but I also went with our all-time favorite salmon recipe on Sunday night. We try to eat salmon fairly often because of the health benefits, and this is by far the best way I've found to make it!

Spicy Southwestern Salmon

2 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 T. firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cumin
dash pepper
1 lb. fresh salmon filets, skin removed

Place salmon filets on broiler tray. Brush with olive oil. Combine brown sugar and spices and sprinkle over salmon. Broil for 2-3 minutes, or until brown sugar mixture begins to melt. Reduce oven temperature to 400 and bake for 10-12 minutes more, or until fish flakes easily with a fork.


Happy eating!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

It marches on

I've often had people tell me, "The older you get, the faster time flies." That wisdom fell on deaf ears during my childhood years, when the months between Christmases seemed endless and summer vacation felt like a blissful eternity. As I entered adulthood, however, I started to believe it. I remember clearly the year I realized that all of the college athletes I watched in televised competitions were younger than me. And now I'm feeling it even more as I approach a full decade of marriage, as it's now the professional athletes who are approaching retirement at my age, and as I discovered not long ago that this year would have been the last year I could have legally auditioned for American Idol. (Not that I ever would...or ever should...but you know, it's good to have options.)

And then there's the huge spotlight that glaringly and constantly points out the passage of time - parenthood. "They grow up so fast" is both the most overused adage that's spoken of this stage of life and the one that's most hauntingly true. It's incomprehensible to me that we've gone from making decisions about when to start solid foods to discussions about when to start preschool. How did this happen?

The other day, as I held my second-born, my sweet two-and-a-half-month baby boy, I watched as he woke from a short nap. As he stretched his chubby arms above his head, his chin jutted out in a look of sleepy, pouty-lipped determination. And I was instantly and unexpectedly transported back to another time, when I gazed down at another beautiful newborn - his big sister, now three years old, who used to make the same face when she slept. "Honey, look! She's doing the chin thing", I'd often call to my husband during those simpler days, when we had little else to do but stare at our little girl and coo in amazement at every expression. I smiled as my mind traced over these memories, and then my eyes misted over as I recalled another one...

Fast forward a year and a half from those days of early parenthood. My tiny newborn girl was now an active, precocious toddler. Those first few weeks of sleepless nights and working hard for smiles were distant memories as the same child now charmed and exhausted us with her happy busyness. One afternoon, as naptime was approaching, she uncharacteristically fell asleep in my arms as I rocked her on the couch in the living room. I gave an inward, "Woohoo!", gathered her up carefully and started a careful trek through the house towards her waiting crib, eager to settle in for some rest and relaxation myself. As I passed through the dining room doorway, though, I glanced down and stopped in my tracks. For my eyes had fallen on her sweet face; eyes closed, cheeks flushed, hair pushed clumsily behind her ears...and that chin...that sweet, silly chin shoved forward, with her lips forming that familiar pout from long ago. The realization of time's ever-quickening pace came crashing down right then, and I knew I was receiving a gift in that moment; both a glimpse back in time and a moment I'd remember the rest of my life. My baby was, for a fleeting second, my baby again.

I don't know how long I stayed there. My arms grew tired and my back ached. A group of teenage girls strolled by outside the window, laughing and yelling in the summer sunshine. And I stood beside my dining room table, tears falling from my eyes as I rocked my baby. My baby who could now run and dance and sing and give hugs and kisses. My now three-year-old baby who today shot me a confused look when I offered to help her switch to a different computer game after she was done with the first one. "I am playing a different game, Mama", she said. "When I was little I couldn't do it because I needed help. But I'm a big girl now." Yes you are, sweetie. I stand corrected. And I stand in helpless, bittersweet awe as I watch time pass by. It keeps marching, yes it does...