Thursday, October 23, 2014

Wednesdays with Logan

The early days of a sous chef
Today I am starting a new feature on my blog, Wednesdays with Logan.  There are no recipes but it is food-related.  Well, kind of.  Wednesdays with Logan will feature my adventures with the guy, the big man that we like to call "Logie" and our culinary escapades around our great city (and suburbs).

It's been nearly five years since we first found out I was pregnant with Logan.  It came as a big surprise.  Yes, I had wanted a third child.  No, Gary did not.  I had spent the month before miserable because I had just started the school year dropping off what I thought would be the last child to full-day kindergarten.  I was filled with regrets of not enjoying the time I had with Aidan at home enough.  I should have done more with him, not rushed to get things done around the house, and spent more quality time just enjoying being with him.  Now, it was all over.  No more alone time. No more cuddling on the couch with him. No more company in the house.  Coming home from drop-off was lonely and so, so quiet.

A boy and his costumes
After a month I began to get used to the quiet and solitude.  I enjoyed the freedom to do what I wanted and the idea of moving on and putting myself first for a change.  I was looking forward to the kids getting old enough that we could travel more and go out more. The need for another child was disappearing, and I was okay with. Yet, God had other plans for us and we were shocked to learn that another was on the way.  Time to do this all over again.  Of course, shock and dismay eventually gave way to excitement and joy.  We couldn't imagine life with out this entertaining little guy.  And, given this one last chance, I made a vow to relish every moment I had with Logan and to enjoy all of the days I had alone with him before he, too, would leave me for school.

Frosting first
Well, as we all know, finding that kind of time isn't always easy.  Life does get in the way, and having two much older kids really makes it difficult to have that one-on-one time.  Most of my free time is spent running around getting things for the other two or Gary.  The house never stays clean and the laundry is never done.  Our evenings are even worse with soccer and music lessons, dinner and homework.

This is the last year Logan will be at home with me before he begins full-day kindergarten.  Right now, he goes to school four days a week but gets home earlier than the others. We have that.  We also have our Wednesdays.

At the beginning of this school year I made a pact with myself that every Wednesday Logan is off from school I would devote my day to doing something fun with him.  Yes, I have guilt that I never did this with Madison or Aidan, but they also got to spend more time with me throughout the day when they were Logan's age.  There weren't older kids back then who had homework or so many activities. We actually had nights off with nothing to do. Imagine that! Those days are long gone.  Since my new career relates to food and Logan is my chef-in-the-making, I thought that one of the best activities to plan our day around should involve food.  What else!

Whipped Cream first
So far we have kept up the pace.  We haven't made it into DC to try anything fabulous yet, but we have managed to scout around our local eateries.  We've done sushi with Gary, breakfast with Gary, Fat Burger last week. We had a movie day followed by lunch at PF Chang's. This week it was Korean.

Real Bibimbap
On Monday, Logan came home from school saying "Bee Beem Bop," "Bee Beem Bop," "Bee Beem Bop."  He sounded like Mr. Crabs when Spongebob thinks he's a killer robot. I asked him what the heck he was talking about.  Then, he told me they were reading a book about families and asked if I knew what "Bee Beem Bop" was.  I asked if he meant "Bibimbap," a rice bowl with veggies and meat. He was shocked I even knew what it was and then went on to explain how it was prepared. I was impressed with how much he remembered from the story.  I asked if he'd like to spend our Wednesday trying it at a real Korean restaurant, and he enthusiastically said yes.

Rice, Rice, Everywhere
Yesterday, we met up with our friend Robyn for lunch at Shin Chon in Ellicott City, Maryland. Shin Chon is one of my favorite places to go to for lunch.  It doesn't look like much on the outside as it is part of a strip mall off of Route 40.  However, Shin Chon is a go-to place for authentic Korean food.  It is even recommended by Andrew Zimmern as one of the top Korean restaurants in the country.

On this particular Wednesday, it was rainy and cold, but we were prepared with our rain jackets and boots.  Robyn had ordered some hot tea and Logan settled in with a Coke, his dining-out treat.  Just in case he didn't care for the Bibimbap, I ordered a tuna roll for him.  You have no idea how crazed Logan is for sushi.  As soon as it came, he scarfed the whole thing down in five minutes or less and then wanted more.  He ate some of the bibimbap, the rice and sprouts, but I don't think he was crazy about it.  I, on the other hand, loaded my hot clay bowl with all of the fixins' such as kimchi, pickled turnips, and more sprouts.  I fired it up with some more hot sauce and devoured nearly the entire bowl.  With an order of plain rice to finish off his meal and some hot sake for me, we were stuffed and headed back home.
Not the best manners, but he was tired.
It might not seem like spending once a week dining out or going to a movie with a four-year-old will make a lasting impression, a memory that will endure over time.  However, when I hear my older two talk about fun memories from when they were little, they don't automatically talk about trips to Disney or Hawaii.  They talk about trips to Costco, that time they found the hidden bear at Trader Joe's, or even the time the electricity went out while we were playing board games at the beach.

It's all about the gear
It took three kids to learn, but I realize now that enduring memories are created in our day-to-day lives, the time you give one-on-one attention to your kids rather than the grand occasional memories we provide them with on fancy trips, ball games, or concerts.  Yes, don't get me wrong because I love all of that, too.  Yet, providing these small, special moments can easily make as much, if not more, of a lasting impression on them as they add up over time and fill more space in their memories down the road. For me, setting aside that time, which is not as easy as it seems, and creating those moments are even more satisfying at the end of the day than a week-long trip that is easily forgotten in a blur soon after arriving home.

Yesterday, as we were driving home, Logan told me he enjoyed his church camp from over the summer more than school.  When I asked why he said it was because it wasn't as long.  He wished he could get home sooner from school.  Since he's been going on lately about wishing he was in kindergarten, I pointed out that next year he'd be in school all day like Madison and Aidan.  His response: "What! Then, I don't want to go to kindergarten any more." I asked why and he said, "Because then it will take longer to get back to you." That's when I knew that this time I was doing things right.

Endless entertainment

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Apple-Pear Tart


Apple and Pear Tart from Food Therapy

With fall starting and the holidays right around the corner, I have been busy in the kitchen testing recipes.  I'm trying to get some new ones out there to the public so that you can start planning that Thanksgiving menu or Halloween special dessert.  I'm not trying to send you into a state of panic.  You do have time still.  You do. You really do.  However, one of us has to do the finding and testing AND tasting before the holiday planning is upon us in order to make life easier for you. Consider it a public service.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Being Thankful

Being Thankful on Food Therapy

As I head into the second month of school, I am finding it harder and harder not to be swept away in the chaos of our every day.  The summer days moved more slowly and there seemed to be more time to spend with my family.  I had looked forward to the first days of school because I thought it would give me some breathing space and quiet time to collect my thoughts and become "normal" again.  Instead, it seems as if the days rush by in a blur as I wake up to dark skies in the morning, rush everyone out of the house, curse the fact that I'm never going to keep up with the laundry or be able to keep food in the house long enough.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie
I have decided that taking a "good" picture of one of the best homemade meals is practically impossible.  Chicken pot pie is one of my favorite dishes to eat and is a definite winner in my household among even the most finicky eaters.  Aesthetically speaking, however, it doesn't yield the prettiest of pictures.