Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A guest post: Secrets to fostering good eating habits in our children

I am very excited to share a guest post I have written for Janet Lansbury's wonderful, inspirational blog.

All (or nearly ;-)) my secrets to enjoying meals with my son and fostering healthy eating habits.

Go check it out, it's here.

Back soon with a new post and recipe...

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Meals are our garden... & a Boursin, pea & ham clafoutis

I was having this conversation recently with a friend, we were talking about moods. Indeed with the unpredictability of life, the overload of “priorities”, the exhaustion, I have found it challenging to find the time and focus for the self-care required to feel level and in harmony with myself.  In short, I get moody. I feel up, I feel down, the sea inside seems to constantly be rocking the boat, and I often long for more smooth sailing.

Then I realized I do have one safe harbor, a place and time where I am (mostly) able to leave the moodiness at the door, and be at peace, for the duration of a meal: our table. 

As I was trying to describe it to my friend and to myself, it occurred to me that our meals are a kind of peaceful garden we enter two or three times a day. Away from the chaos of the world and modern lives, as we sit down together, we open a thick wooden gate and step into a haven, an oasis, a lovely garden, made only for our enjoyment of each other, of ourselves, of the senses, of the present moment.  In this sense, our meals nourish much more than our bodies.  There’s definitely something of a sacred ritual about it.

When I’m down, I must remember to feel gratitude for this garden in our lives. It sure helps to know I always come back to it, no matter what storms I’m facing elsewhere. When all is said and done, these will be the moments I value the most.

Through the blog, I encounter more and more people, and moms in particular, who do not just want their family to “eat healthy”, but are seeking something more profound than that, something they often sense or perceive in the French or European food culture. A positive association to food, a way of life even. And I think what they want is that vision of the family meal.
But for it to work, there has to be a sort of unwritten, tacit “contract” between family members, a common family vision and understanding of the meal as a special place and time.

Sometimes in families, everyone is not on the same page. Real life gets in the way, and depending on their relationship to food growing up, some might view the meal as something to get over with, an obligation of sorts, a waste of time even.

And perhaps a way to change that, is to start a family conversation, and share a vision of the meal as something different, as something more than just eating, as that – and get ready for some MAJOR corniness here and a potential spike in blood sugar ;-) -  “magical garden of togetherness” (I am laughing as I write this, it sounds so corny!! I couldn’t resist!)

But seriously, however you word it, whatever metaphor works for your family, what I’m saying is: meals are an opportunity for connection, and those can be hard to come by in our busy lives. If everyone in the family starts to think of meals as such, you may just... have yourself a garden.

I brought back from France this lovely little cookbook of "Mini-Cocottes" recipes, from which I'll be sharing a lot more very soon. This one was so easy and tasty, makes for a lovely lunch. And it's also one a toddler or child can help make, by rinsing the peas, whisking the boursin and eggs/cream/milk together, washing the endives, cutting up the ham with hands or child-safe knife.

Wishing you a wonderful, flavorful week :-)

Boursin, ham & pea clafoutis (with endive salad)

Adapted from A chacun sa petite Cocotte by José Maréchal

Yields 4-5 ramekins depending on size

Prep: 15 mn
Cook: 25-40 (varies greatly on size and thickness of ramekins)

Age for babies: 10-12 months because of the eggs.

2 1/2 oz Boursin cheese
1 egg yolk
4 eggs
1/2 cup quinoa flour
2/3 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup milk
3 or 4 slices of ham
1 cup of peas (I used frozen)
1/2 tsp salt & pepper

In a medium bowl, gently whisk together the boursin with the yolk. Then add the eggs, one by one. Then add the flour, the heavy cream, and the milk, little by little. Add salt and pepper, and set aside in the fridge.

Preheat the oven at 350°F.

Cut up the ham in small pieces. Run the frozen peas under cool water for a couple of minutes. Toss together with the ham.

Place the empty ramekins in a baking dish. Fill the baking dish with hot water so the water reaches about halfway up the ramekins.

Place the ham & peas at the bottom of the ramekins. Pour the boursin/milk mixture on top, and bake for about 25 minutes. (Note that cooking time varies greatly depending on thickness and height of the ramekins. A knife should come out clean and the top should be golden when done.)

We served them with a simple endive salad: wash and cut up the endives, discarding the tough foot of it. Add whatever fresh herbs you have on hand (parsley, dill, cilantro...) A walnut vinaigrette goes great with it: 1 part red wine vinegar, 2 1/2 parts olive, 1/2 part walnut oil, a dash of mustard, salt and pepper. Blue cheese crumbs or walnuts could also complement it nicely.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

On trust and patience, & a sausage vegetable bake

Work deadlines, 45 minute tantrums, a botched recipe, piles of mail to go through.  Balancing self-care and being present with the ones I love. Otherwise called Sunday.

How to get through it? With grace hopefully? A work in progress, surely. But something clicked for me at one point these past few months. An understanding, a new synapse connection (or something) that’s been helping me for the small, and the big stuff of life.

The link between trust and patience.

This has been so all-encompassing for me, I can see its applications in all areas of my life. If we trust, truly trust, have that faith, that things will “work out” even if we don’t know how or when (and ultimately we shouldn't be too concerned with the how or when, and focus on enjoying the journey and process of our lives). Just the profound knowledge we are capable (good enough, smart enough, deserving enough, fill-in- the-blank enough...). Of failing and learning and thriving (repeat as necessary), and so are our children.

This profound trust can be incredibly hard, we must let go of control, we must be accepting and open-minded, we must acknowledge and demystify our fears, rend them powerless. We must leave anxiety and guilt behind.

Yeah, profound trust is a heck of a lot of work, for a lot of us anyway. No wonder I’m feeling tired! ;-)

But this trust has a precious gift for us as well: it gives us patience, and compassion (for ourselves and others).

Because I trust that my son will develop, and struggle, and learn, and make all the right and wrong decisions that will help him grow and live life fully, I’m able to feel compassion for him and stay steady with him as he struggles (for 45 minutes...) with his feelings of anger and frustration, his desire for independence against his need for a safety net. I can be his rock, empathetic, patient, kind and safe.

Because I trust my son knows what his body needs and he’s capable of eating all kinds of foods, and enjoying a family meal, and in the long run, I have trust in his ability to enjoy good food, I’m not worried if he eats less at one meal, rejects a certain food, or tests me about getting up from his chair mid-meal. I can set my boundaries and feel patient with it.

If I trust my ability to get through hardships and struggles, I will feel more compassion and patience for myself and my own process.

Don’t get me wrong, this is HARD. Terribly hard in some areas for me. But it is a guideline, something to strive for. I don't feel so lost. Just moving forward on an uphill path. Oddly enough, I suppose because of the role of food in my upbringing and cultural environment as a child, food is one area where I had it naturally. This trust. When first feeding Pablo solids, it didn't occur to me he wouldn't like vegetables or have issues with eating. I trusted he would taste things, enjoy good food, and good meals, and ultimately "get it". That left me to enjoy the process, the fun of the food discovery, of the “education of taste”, and to learn and be infinitely interested in that process and its meanderings. Which in turn got Pablo even more eager and interested and engaged in the process, by model.

Trust and patience. Present and future. Self-care and compassion. A sense of worthiness and accepting our struggles and vulnerability. It’s all the same yin and yang. And it feels like a key to me...  to so many lovely gardens to open, explore and grow.

Real food for thought.

Speaking of real food, I thought you might enjoy this very simple, delicious and seasonal meal. It's full of flavor and the sage brings great subtlety to it... And since I couldn't be here last week, I'll hit you with a FFB Trifecta: my ramblings, a recipe AND the week's menu (scroll down below for that) ;-)

Roasted sausages with apples & onions

Adapted from Petits Plats Familiaux

Serves 4 people

Prep time: 15 mn
Cook time: 45 mn

Age for babies: 8-10 months, cut up small as finger food (skip the honey for a child under 12 months)

3 red onions
3 apples
1 bunch of small new carrots (1/2 pound or so)
3 Yukon potatoes
3 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp olive oil
6 large sausages (either Bratwurst or I used Irish bangers)
6 sprigs of sage
2 sprigs of rosemary
3 tbsp honey
Salt & pepper

Preheat the oven at 400°F.

Prep all the ingredients: Peel and quarter the onions, peel, core and cut the apples (in about six pieces), peel the carrots, peel and dice the potatoes, cut the sausages in half. Wash and finely mince the sage and rosemary leaves.

In a large bowl, mix the coconut oil, olive oil, and minced herbs (setting a tbsp of herbs aside). Add in the onions, apples, carrots and potatoes and toss so they are well coated. Add salt (about 1/2 tsp or to taste) and pepper.

Place the coated vegetables in a baking dish. Place the pieces of sausage throughout. Sprinkle with the remaining minced herbs.

Bake for about 45 minutes, until golden and potatoes are soft to the knife. (If you use a metal baking dish, it might cook faster, keep an eye on it.)

When you take the dish out of the oven, drizzle with honey, mix and serve. 

And now for good measure, the week's menu...

Cheeses of the week: Following French tradition, I always offer a little bit of cheese at the end of every meal, between the main course and dessert. Rotation this week: Raw cheddar (cow), goat brie, Italian blue, Petit Basque (sheep's milk).

Desserts: At lunch, I offer a fruit yogurt (or plain yogurt with fresh fruit), but at night, I prefer sticking to plain yogurt (regular homemade* whole milk, sheep’s milk, goat's milk and Greek yogurt for extra protein) to avoid too much sugar before bedtime.


Pablo's Lunchbox: 
Green asparagus tips, winter vegetable galette, ham, Petit Basque cheese, apple

Goûter (4pm snack) – Tangerine

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Baby artichokes roasted with lemon, herbs and olive oil
Main course:  Herbed lamb meatballs in coconut milk with quinoa


Pablo's Lunchbox:
Yellow and green beans salad, smoked salmon with tzatziki, quinoa, goat gouda, tangerine

Goûter - Pear

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Golden beet rainbow chard goat cheese salad
Main course: Crockpot oxtails braised in coconut milk, jasmine rice


Appetizer / Finger Foods: Avocado with vinaigrette, French breakfast radishes
Main course: Fresh mushroom ravioli with tomatoes and feta on top

Goûter – Mango

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Roasted cherry tomatoes with vanilla and rosemary
Main course: Pea, ham, Boursin clafoutis*, endive salad


Appetizer / Finger Foods: Watermelon radish (with butter and salt)
Main course: Pea sardine tartines

Goûter - Kiwi

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Spinach broccoli sorrel soup
Main course: Turkey breasts and vegetables in coconut milk*


Pablo's Lunchbox: 
Savory herb (dill & chives) bread, hard boiled egg, tzatziki, bell pepper feta salad, gruyère, blackberries

Goûter - Tangerine

Appetizer / Finger FoodsPea & herb salad
Main course: Baked creamy sole filets over leeks and carrots*


Lunch out

Goûter - Apple turnover

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Celeriac, Beet & radish greens soup
Main course: Roasted Pork tenderloin in creamy mustard sauce


Appetizer / Finger FoodsFrench-style grated carrots
Main course: Prosciutto mushroom comté tartine

Goûter - Strawberries

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Boiled zucchini (cold) with mint vinaigrette
Main course: Roasted chicken with caramelized onions and blue potatoes

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Friday, January 24, 2014

A pear almond spelt cake, and tuning in to ourselves

Attunement has been on my mind lately. You know, how tuned in we are to the outside world, to the feelings and state of mind of those around us,  and to our own, and how to strike that balance.

I happened to have trained myself since childhood to attune to others really well. This has turned out to be both a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because I want to and am often able to really see and feel the people close to me, to give them acknowledgement, empathy and understanding. But also a curse, because basically, I have attuned to others to make sure I do whatever it takes to please and be loved. In short, to fill a void, a fear within.

Especially since Pablo was born, I have been - slowly - learning to attune to myself again. And I have a long way to go. One place it can begin though, is at the table. I did a lot of emotional eating when I was younger, and as I have been trusting Pablo to listen to his own body and what it needs, I have been practicing to do the same.

I have seen him go through phases of eating more meat, or more greens, or more fruit, or more dairy, admiring his ability to instinctively know what his body needs at a particular time. I have seen him not finish a piece of chocolate cake (and the boy does love chocolate) because his body said it was enough.  I am trying my very best to run no interference with what his body tells him. I offer a variety of real, tasty foods, he chooses what and how much to eat.
This week, he had a stomach bug (oh what fun ;-) our menus got reduced to rice, carrots and apples...). Once again, I noticed he knew what he needed, he knew when to drink water, when to rest and sleep.
This self-attunement is such an invaluable resource.

Ultimately, in every area of life, my goal is for my son to listen to himself, to his true inner voice. I choose to trust him to do so, so he will trust himself. I don't want him to do what I want or say in order to get my approval. I want him to know I trust him so he will discover what is right and what works for him. I want him to make his own decisions rather than follow what others may say (peer pressure) or do what he thinks others want (overachievement from insecurity), in order to obtain their acceptance or validation.

Sometimes, my attunement to other people's feelings is deafening, so much so that I can't even hear or listen to myself. It can trigger such insecurities that it backfires and I can't be emotionally available to others. So I'm working on ways to get grounded again, back to myself. The balance between the outside world and our inner life. Bottom line is, we cannot really be open to the world, if we are not attuned to ourselves, our needs. We can't have compassion for others, if we don't have it for ourselves. We can't trust others if we don't trust ourselves.

It all starts within.

What a tremendously important thing for me to learn, in an effort to have healthy, respectful relationships free of guilt, manipulation or control. I feel sadness for not being able to learn it earlier in my life. But gratitude for learning it now.

Cooking for me, in the last couple of years especially, has become a sort of meditation. A conscious gesture to seek to ground myself, be connected to the physical world, and inside of myself at the same time. A way to practice that balance of self-attunement and open-mindedness to the world.

One afternoon, making this simple pear cake, and enjoying it with Pablo with a cup of tea and the low afternoon sun, brought me inner peace.

May it do the same for you when you need it...

Pear almond spelt cake

Adapted from Les Cakes de Sophie by Sophie Dudemaine

Prep time: 20mn
Cook time: 15mn + 40mn

Age for babies: 12 months and up (because of the eggs)

3 eggs
3/4 cup (6 oz) granulated cane sugar
1 + 1/4 cup  (5.5 oz) spelt flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup (5 oz) salted butter
2 Bosc pears (not too soft) (other pears work too)

For the syrup:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water

Preheat the oven at 350°F.

Heat the syrup (sugar and water) until it simmers. Meanwhile peel the pears, cut them in half, and poach them in the simmering sugar water for about 15 minutes. Drain and cube them. (*Alternatively, in a pinch, you can use canned pears in light syrup. Rinse them and cut them up)

In a large bowl (or in a stand mixer if you have one), beat the eggs and sugar together (with a whisk, or electric beater). Incorporate the spelt flour, almond meal and baking powder. Melt the butter in the microwave or on the stove, and add it to the batter.  Sprinkle the pear pieces with a little flour, and add them to the batter.

Butter and flour a rectangular cake pan, and pour the cake batter in.

Bake for about 40 minutes, until the blade of a knife comes out clean.

We enjoyed with some passion fruit tea and a bite or two of dark chocolate :-)

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Pablo's weekly menu, and a cool lunchbox!

From the Ojai Farmer's Market

I feel like I'm settling back into my world of food like one settles into a comfortable armchair. Getting back to reading food blogs, being inspired by other people's work, browsing cookbooks, browsing Pinterest, noticing how the light hits the fruit bowl, walking through the Farmer's market. The beauty of fresh produce. All this is a quiet kind of inspiration. When we are in crisis mode, our mind focalizes on survival, and closes itself to the beauty out there. We don't even think to look at it, we have tunnel vision. Making the transition from the intensity of crisis to the peaceful brewing that life mostly is, can be so challenging, that re-opening of our mind, free of pressure or fear, to the world.  But the world beckons my attention again, and looking outward again, I feel grateful. 

Speaking of grateful, I also wanted to take this opportunity to talk about and feature Pablo's new lunchbox, which we discovered thanks to the kindness of the people at Yumbox. Pablo now goes to daycare three mornings a week, and this lunchbox is really perfect for us. The bento box format with compartments is perfect for a lunch in "courses", it is also very good for portion control, and Pablo just loves it. We have been using it for the past couple of months, and I definitely recommend it. If you are interested in finding more about it or purchasing it, you can find it here.

I am posting pictures of Pablo's Yumboxes on Facebook regularly in case it can spark some ideas. You should also check out Yumbox's Facebook page for lots of ideas, and I always welcome your suggestions and ideas too! 

French-style grated carrots, cold leg of lamb, mild mustard on the side, white beans, Sheep's milk cheese, pineapple

Now on to the week's menu.

Cheeses of the week: Following French tradition, I always offer a little bit of cheese at the end of every meal, between the main course and dessert. Rotation this week: Camembert (cow), goat gouda, mimolette, Italian blue, Petit Basque (sheep's milk).

Desserts: At lunch, I offer a fruit yogurt (or plain yogurt with fresh fruit), but at night, I prefer sticking to plain yogurt (regular homemade* whole milk, sheep’s milk, goat's milk and Greek yogurt for extra protein) to avoid too much sugar before bedtime.


Pablo's Lunchbox: 
Cauliflower & potato in vinaigrette, skirt steak, Pecorino cheese, apple

Goûter (4pm snack) – Speculoos cookie

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Butter lettuce with vinaigrette
Main course: Chicken Basquaise


Pablo's Lunchbox:
Tomato cucumber salad, hard boiled egg, rice, Petit Basque sheep's milk cheese, strawberries.

Goûter - Kiwi

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Butternut leek soup from Cannelle & Vanille
Main course: Pan-fried lamb chops with flageolets beans à la française


Lunch at the beach (Pablo loves the fish tacos, with sides avocado and black beans and a few sweet potato fries)

Goûter – Pear

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Leftover butternut leek soup
Main course: Ham, green beans with parsley and garlic


Appetizer / Finger Foods: 1/2 avocado with vinaigrette
Main course: Sardines with leftover flageolets 

Goûter - 

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Watermelon radish (with butter and salt)
Main course: Roasted chicken with bell peppers and onions, fresh fettucini Alfredo (trying this recipe)


Pablo's Lunchbox: 
French-style grated carrots, smoked salmon, tzatziki with pita, goat gouda, tangerine

Goûter - Tangerine

Appetizer / Finger FoodsPea salad
Main course: This lovely Carrot Risotto from Food Loves Writing


Lunch out

Goûter - Mango

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Green bean cauliflower salad
Main course: Oven roasted pork ribs with multicolored potatoes & butter lettuce.


Appetizer / Finger Foods: Lentil shallot salad
Main course: Prosciutto & avocado

Goûter - Almond Galette des Rois

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Broccoli watercress soup
Main course: Tofu, coconut quinoa

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Friday, January 10, 2014

A colorful scallop tartare... & getting unstuck

So you know, life happened, some seriously stormy weather. And then, an escape to Paris, a breath, a lungful of air above water. An escape but also a step back, a spot from which to judge the state of my life. Difficult holidays. Too much family turmoil to be as carefree as I would have liked. Constantly overextended, scrambling, frantic.

And stuck. Chaos leads to rigidity, law of physics.

Scared to write again, scared to blog again. To stare at the blank screen, to grab my camera. After this hiatus, what if I have nothing left to say? To contribute?

A lot of us have that feeling, I suppose. In a rut. Afraid to try something new, a new recipe, a new ingredient. Afraid no one will like it, afraid it’ll be a terrible failure, that it just won’t work. Yet I know better. Failure is not trying. Failure is letting myself stay stuck. Failure is giving in to fear. Success is doing our best, being kind to ourselves, and daring to get unstuck, to move forward, blindly if need be, but move forward nonetheless.

Come to think of it, there is no such thing as success and failure. Those concepts have nothing to do with what matters. Nothing to do with life. Removing them from our reasoning might just be the key to moving forward.

So how to get unstuck? A good dose of acknowledgement and compassion for oneself, another of self-care, to be with oneself, grounded. And a sparkle or two of inspiration. I had two of these sparkles this week.

I took Pablo to see the shuttle Endeavor at the California Science Center. And as we’re looking at the exhibits, I realize he is a complete blank slate on this topic. He’s seen a rocket in a couple of books, but basically, he knows nothing of it. Eyes wide, he’s observing and learning, engaged, with a completely fresh, open-minded perspective. Microgravity, space travel, the universe, the earth, stars and nebula, astronauts, energy, engines... he was in awe! For a few minutes, I saw things through his fresh, brand new eyes. Through his open mind, his awed perspective. And I was inspired! I was moved to tears, actually. Such an uplifting feeling.

And then, I re-read this attempt of a poem I wrote a few years ago. And here I am... getting unstuck once again.

I wish you a happy New Year, full of inspired and inspiring moments, self-care and lungfuls of fresh air and fresh perspectives.

So here we are, floating about in a sea
The image of a boat, in a bubble above our heads
The water pulls us, the waves batter us
We drift about our lives, waiting endlessly 
But perhaps on a calm day, unexpectedly
If we're not too busy keeping our heads above water
Or tasting our lips, or tears, salty
For one instant, we may experience who we are
Right there, we feel our plexus, our very core
And there, from our center
A cord has been growing
It has been there all along
Umbilical in a way, our visceral truth, a mother
That cord lies ahead of us through the sea
Like a bridge, a lifeline
Taut, as if attached on the other side of the horizon
To worlds to be discovered
Lives to be lived
A fate we cannot foresee 
We can ignore it all right
And think of the boat
In the bubble above our head
Or hold on to that cord
Heaving ourselves with all our might
Toward whatever lies ahead
So heaving myself off of my insecurities and doubts, I am here to share this very pretty dish I adapted from the French cooking magazine Saveurs. Colorful and delicate, a touch of beauty on a plate. Also a good way to introduce scallops to a shellfish newbie. Pablo loved it (picking the pomegranate seeds and popping them in his mouth brought some fun to the table as well :-)

Scallop Tartare with pomegranate & avocado

Adapted from Saveurs magazine, winter 2013

Age for babies : 12 months and up for shellfish, I would skip the pomegranate seeds and just do scallops and avocado until 18 months and up depending on chewing abilities.

Prep time : 15 minutes
Rest time : 10 minutes

Serves 4 people

12 medium size fresh scallops
1 avocado ripe but still firm
1/3 cup of pomegranate seeds
1 lime
3 tbsp olive oil
Microgreens for garnish

Rinse and dry the lime. Grate the zest off, mince it finely and set aside.

Squeeze the lime into a bowl. Add the olive oil. Dice the scallops and place in the lime/olive oil marinade. Mix and place in the fridge for about 10 minutes.

Dice the avocado.

Gently stir together the avocado, scallop mixture and lime zest.

To shape the tartares in small serving plates, you can use a small springform pan (with no bottom): place it on the plate, fill it with the tartare, unlock the spring and remove gently.
Otherwise, you can simply put a mound of the tartare on a plate, and shape it with a small round ramekin for example.

Garnish with some microgreens. Serve cold. (You can make the mixture a couple of hours ahead of time and keep it in the fridge until ready to plate.)

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Weathering life, one simple soup at a time

In truth, I can't begin to describe the turmoils our lives are currently in. Remnants of previous turmoils, and new turmoils, waves of them, which I weather the best I can. Amidst angst and chaos, I have found myself at a loss for words in this space. This holiday week, I so wish I was coming to you with profound words and an elaborate scrumptious dish worthy of the greatness of love and life.

Yet humbly, all I can bring to this virtual table, is a few sparks of joy that have grounded me, made me remember to be grateful for love and life. And a simple soup to warm the soul.

Today, I feel grateful for...

... the overwhelming generosity and support of friends and family who truly care
... a dinner interrupted for a dance with my son
... this post by lovely Shanna, so true and inspiring
... the San Gabriel mountains, serene arms enveloping and watching over us in our new home
... a glimpse of Pablo's curls with the sun shining through, and his smile too
... your interest, patience, encouragements, comments & support
... every single challenge parenting has brought into my life
... our meals, pillars of our family life
... the warmth of our family's Thanksgiving celebration (I am making this casserole, and these rolls)
... screams of joy at the sight of the first Christmas lights
... the ability to know and share myself, to love and be vulnerable...

Pablo and I have the great fortune to be going to visit friends in Paris for a couple of weeks in December, a much needed break that is as highly anticipated as it was unexpected. I look forward to sharing with you (here, on Facebook and Instagram) the inescapable good food experiences it will entail...

May you have a joyful Thanksgiving, may your souls feel as nourished and full as your bellies...

Pumpkin celeriac soup (cardamom infused coconut milk base)

Prep time 20 min
Cook time: 50 min

Age for babies: 6 months + (coconut milk can be replaced with vegetable broth, milk - formula or breast - can be added in at the end for texture. Can be a soup or a puree).

1 small sugar pie pumpkin (about 3 pounds)
1 medium celery root
1 1/2 cup coconut milk
4-5 pods of cardamom
1/2 tsp salt
Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven at 350°F.

Wash the pumpkin, cut it in half. Scoop the seeds and strings out.
Place face down in a baking dish, add 1/4 inch of water. Bake for about 45-50 minutes, until very tender.

Meanwhile, peel the celery root, cut it up in small pieces. Place in a pan with the coconut milk and cardamom pods - which you can place in a little cloth bag if you have one so you can remove them easily when the celery is cooked, or as I did, you can just fish for them after :-).
Cover, bring to a light boil and simmer for 20 min or so, until the celery is very soft and ready to be pureed.

Remove the cardamom pods. When the pumpkin is ready, scoop out the meat into a blender. Add the salt, celery root in coconut milk and blend until very smooth, adding a few tablespoons of hot water to obtain your preferred consistency.

We ate it with these apple Gruyere muffins. A comforting meal indeed.

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