Wednesday, August 25, 2010

in the kitchen

I can't say that these last months and years of homebuilding have been the most creative of my kitchen life. Or, maybe to be more accurate, I've been exercising a different kind of creativity. The kind of creativity required to make quick, nutritious, appetizing meals on a budget – with quick being the operative criteria. I've created a little list of go-to meals that keep us fueled and going without boring or abusing our palates too terribly. In future I'll post about these go-to meals.

Today I want to write about the Boy Builder and his kitchen exploits. He hasn't been as limited by overscheduling as his mama and uses cooking time as really fabulous (and tasty!) expression of his creativity. His recent flurry of gastronomic experimentation has also been inspired by a bit of a family addiction to Food Network, now that we're living in a condo with included cable TV.

Waffles are Boy Builder's latest specialty. He found a waffle iron at a yard sale and he uses it at least once a week. His starting recipe is an Alton Brown favorite, but he's experimented a bit with chocolate, blueberries, cinnamon, and other yumminess. His chocolate raspberry waffles topped with vanilla or cherry vanilla ice cream are stellar!

The cupcake trend has not been missed here in our household either. Boy Builder recently made some amazing banana cupcakes with a honey-cinnamon cream cheese butter cream frosting. They were amazing! We used this Martha Stewart recipe as our starting point, but made a few adjustments, especially to the frosting.

The other night I had a load of computer work to do after a full day of work at the building site and I was balking at preparing dinner.

Boy Builder got right to work preparing a feast of his own invention, instructing his Papa as sous chef and it was so delicious and satisfying. The salad he invented was especially clever. Chopped fresh cucumbers donated from a friend's garden (thank you, VanderWekken's!), carrots, defrosted frozen corn, celery, basil, cilantro, a little shredded parmesan, and a dressing of lime juice, olive oil, salt and agave nectar. So, so, so yummy! Served alongside grilled veggies (more donated veggies – thank you, Phillips's!) and lamb-burgers from the grill. Inspired.

Yesterday, amidst another on-slaught of computer work, Boy Builder prepared me a lovely lunch. A grilled cheese sandwich on yummy seedy whole grain bread with a gourmet touch of chopped parsley and cilantro added after the sandwiches were grilled. So, so yummy! And then he prepared a lovely sundae of peach ice cream topped with chopped pink lady apples and toasted chopped almonds. Yummy and pretty!

Today Boy Builder and I worked together on a vegan West African flavored sweet potato, quinoa, vegetable stew (we used this recipe as an inspirational starting place). He's really good with a knife for chopping. Then we had a little fun making some buttermilk whole wheat doughnuts for dessert. We used this Bob's Red Mill recipe as a starting place, but added our own touch of lime zest and vanilla extract for a key-lime pie sort of flavor.

I see my boy learning so much through his cooking. I see him quickly figuring that 3/4 cup flour requires 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup. I see him chopping his sweet potato chunks into 8 equal pieces and explaining the process to me. I see him learning how food grows and which foods are related to each other. I see him appreciating culture and flavor through his experiments. I love that he loves to share his creations with his family and friends. I love the artistry he expresses in his presentations and flavor and texture combinations. I love to see his confidence blooming. And, I love, love, love to eat his yummy creations!


  1. How inspiring! Emily just cooks from recipes or simple things that don't require recipes- I'll have to encourage her to try improvising a little.

  2. Lots of scrumptious meals for sure! How fun:) Today Damek wants to make stuffed graped leaves, one of his favorite foods, and right off the bat after reading the recipe he said we also needed to add bell pepper and garbanzo beans. I think his additions will pair nicely with the other ingredients. We'll let you know how they turn out.

  3. They made delicious food from simple ingredients.Wow!!Just great work.