Thursday, June 27, 2013

Dinner's Ready: Salmon Cakes

I'm not sure if they're a southern specialty or not, but I grew up eating salmon cakes on a regular basis, so when my very much not raised in the country husband requested them for dinner one night I was confused! Where did he hear about these? Well, I'm not sure where he had them, but I made them for the first time in at least 20 years and they're back on our regular menu!
I think you can add things to make the recipe a bit fancier (I add capers! I did not add capers as a child). But we like them prepared simply.

Salmon Cakes
resurrected from childhood memories

1 can pink salmon (16 oz, I think)
1/3 sleeve of saltine crackers, crushed (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 yellow or sweet onion, grated
2 tbs parsley, chopped
2 tbs capers, drained and rinsed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
dash Tabasco sauce
olive oil

Drain salmon and remove any skin or large bones. This is your preference. I'll be honest - canned salmon freaks me out a little bit, and I think most people feel the same way the first time they see it. You can eat everything in the can, skin and bones included. I don't like the way the skin and bones look, so I take them out. My husband leaves them in. They're really great for you. One day I'll grow up and leave them in.
Flake the salmon with your fingers and mix in crushed crackers. Add grated onion, parsley and capers and mix. Add eggs and Tabasco sauce and mix until incorporated. Season lightly with salt and add pepper (1/2 tsp for me).
Refrigerate for at least an hour. You can make them right away, but the everything is better incorporated after a rest.
Lightly oil a non-stick skillet and heat to medium high. Form cakes with about 1/2 cup of the mixture.
Fry for 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden brown.
Serve with dijon mustard (for me) or ketchup (for my husband).

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


No real reason for this picture,
but I think it's adorable.
I don't think anyone would be terribly surprised if a new mom thought she had time to blog and then got carried away by life.
But things are getting easier again. We sleep trained. Little Mister's first tooth broke through today (on his 7 month birthday!). I've mostly figured out how to get the baby to bed, make dinner and eat again.
Of course, Little Mister is this close to crawling and being mobile so everything is about to change in a big way again. I'm supposed to get used to that, right?
I've figured out a few things in the past few weeks and have even more questions about new things. I used to be pretty resistant to change, but I'm getting better at going with the flow these days. Just another change to get used to!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Mission Accomplished

Walking in the park last fall
We bought our house two years ago and love our new neighborhood. One of the main reasons we were interested in this neighborhood was because it's located next to a huge park and lake. We've enjoyed hiking and boating there for years, so being able to walk right in was irresistible.
I've always wanted to walk to the nature center in the park, but it's about two miles along the hilly trails and I could never talk my husband into going with me. So I stuck to the paths and trails I knew.
It was 80 degrees today and ridiculously nice out, so I tucked the Little Mister into his stroller, grabbed a bottle of water and an applesauce pouch (really? I eat applesauce pouches now?) and started walking. 45 minutes later, we were at the nature center!
Little Mister woke up as we arrived and we played. He wanted to eat, so I nursed him - with a great view of the lake and it was just fantastic. So relaxing.
I always imagined walking there with him when I was pregnant. Even if they are little dreams, it's really amazing when they come true.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tastes like Love

Make these cookies now.
These cookies are so good that I had dreams about them after I made them. They're buttery and sweet and spicy. They make you remember why fresh homemade cookies are so much better than anything mass produced. They are why I love cooking.

Molasses Spice Cookies
Barely adapted from Cook's Illustrated

  • 1/3 cup sugar, plus 1/2 cup for rolling
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. table salt
  • 12 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened 
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup molasses 

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Combine flour, baking soda, spices, and salt in medium bowl.
3. Cream together butter and brown and white sugar until fluffy. Add yolk and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Add the molasses and mix until incorporated. (If you spray the measuring cup with oil, it's easier to get the molasses out)
4. Add flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until just incorporated. The dough will be rather soft.
5. Scoop dough and roll into balls by the tablespoonful. Roll dough balls in remaining sugar and place them on a parchment or silicone covered cookie sheet, about two inches apart. Bake only one sheet at a time until the edges start to look firm but centers are still soft and appear underdone - for about 11 minutes - rotate the baking sheet halfway through baking. 
6. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for five minutes, then transfer  to wire rack. Cool completely. Or eat warm because they're too delicious to wait.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Letting Go

How I remember every conference.
I helped plan an annual conference for five years before I resigned this year. This year's conference is being held this week, so I've been trying to think about how it feels to let go of something you were involved with for so long.
I definitely still feel like part of it, but blissfully removed from the stress. It's hard to think about something you've worked hard on just continuing successfully without you. I always said that my contributions were not irreplaceable, but I guess I always wanted to be a little bit irreplaceable!
It's been a few months since I worked full time and I've almost put that role behind me. But I know I could step right back into it tomorrow and barely feel like I missed a beat.
I don't think that staying at home is always easy, even when it's what you really want. There are moments of joy and bliss and moments of tedium or boredom. I always try to remember that even when I worked in the office there were just as many tedious tasks! Less laundry at the office, but probably more tedium. It evens out.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Cloth Diapers: Your Friends Are Using Them

7,020 disposables vs 24 reusable
When we decided to try to have a baby and I started my consumer research on the things we needed to buy, one of the first things I looked into was cloth diapers. I'd never actually seen one, but had seen friends on mention them casually on Facebook. I didn't know people still used them! Why would you bring such an anachronistic item into your home? Were they martyrs? Isn't there enough to do with a new baby?
I've seen estimates that the average child uses around 7,000 disposable diapers. The environmental impact of all those diapers had always bothered me, so I wanted to look into a reusable option. I quickly learned that there's a whole world of a modern cloth diapers. They're easy to use, are so much better for the environment and save buckets of money. I've been using them for three months and cannot figure out why more people aren't doing it.
Cotton Babies has a good overview of using cloth diapers
Honestly, they are almost as easy as disposable diapers if you have time for a couple of extra loads of laundry each week. We have had far fewer diaper messes since we started using them, and I'm super grateful for that!
We mostly use a style of diapers called pocket diapers. The diapers have a waterproof cover with a pocket you stuff with an absorbant cloth insert. There are dozens of options, but these are working great for us!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Sleeping through the Night

Little Mister when he was 
one month old and would sleep
through anything all day long. 
I miss those days.
Despite going to the doctor about 20 times during a pregnancy and reading every book on the market, it seems like there are a few things they forget to mention to new parents. The most important one to us right now is that sleeping through the night for an infant actually means just about five hours of uninterrupted sleep. Little Mister falls asleep around 7:30 pm. That means he's accomplished sleeping through the night by around 1:00 am.
We're lucky. Our baby is a pretty good sleeper. He sleeps through the night, but he does not sleep all night long.
At four months old, our doctor said it's in the best interest of both of us to bring his night feedings to an end. Her advice was to let him cry for about 15 minutes when he would usually wake to eat. She thought two or three nights of that would do the trick.
Apparently Little Mister wasn't listening to her. If he cries for more than a few minutes he becomes wide awake and will stay that way for at least an hour. If I feed him, he's up for about ten minutes and then we're both back to sleep. I'm having a hard time accepting that being up for at least an hour longer by not feeding him is better than ten minutes of peaceful nursing!
We tried it and we're just not cry it out parents at this point. We'll continue gradually trying to convince him that he's not hungry when he wakes, but he might be just as stubborn as his mama.
My sleep deprived mind is too tired to remember the other things that I thought someone should have told me about newborns.
Do you remember?