It wasn't me who soaked dad!!!I have a whole new routine now.  Instead of coming home from work, pouring a glass of wine, and preparing an involved, gourmet meal, my day now revolves around the boy's schedule which understandably leaves very little time to cook.  It's amazing how exhausting our days can be, even though our big adventures are usually our walk around our neighborhood or maybe meeting a girlfriend for lunch.  We all look forward to bath time.   The boys love the water and the chance to soak mom and dad.  The other night I was dangling Alex's toes in the lovely warm water, when dad asked me a question.  I turned, still holding the super soaker, I mean Alex.  He took aim and sprayed the wall, the roll of toilet paper, and dad.  It was very, very funny. 

As part of my new routine, after the boys go to bed (hence the reason why I like bathtime) I get to cook our dinner.  It usually still involves a glass of wine and a gourmet meal, but with a lot less effort.

We have been eating  a lot of grilled fish this summer. Grilled Halibut with Meyer Lemons, Rosemary, and ThymeThe most important trick to grilling fish is to oil the grate before you cook.  That way the fish doesn't stick to the grate.  Secondly, don't overcook the fish!  This sounds simple, but it is very, very easy to do.  My advice is to take a glass of wine outside by the grill and just watch the fish.  Pretend that the piece of fish is a pancake--when the top of the piece of fish starts to turn opaque around the edges, flip it.  Cook on the second side for 3-4 minutes until the second side is marked with clear grill marks.  The overall cooking time depends on the thickness of the fish and the temperature of the grill.  My favorite fish to grill are snapper (it's thin, so it will cook quickly), salmon (I marinated a couple of salmon steaks in Toigo orchards bourbon apple bbq sauce.  It was yummy), and halibut.

And now I'm off to go bathe the kids!


Volt/Big White Barn Heirloom Tomato Festival a Big Disappointment

Bryan Voltaggio preparing heirloom tomato and shrimp ceviche with dehydrated tomato cotton candy and tomato dippin dotsI think it's in my blood to love tomatoes--my great-grandfather actually wrote a book on tomatoes aptly called "the Tomato."  I was really, really excited to go to the first ever heirloom tomato festival at the Big White Barn in Frederick, Maryland.  What a disappointment!

I've never run an heirloom tomato festival before, let alone attended one, but I know if I was in charge I would ensure that my featured centerpiece was perfect.  I don't claim to be a tomato expert, but I do know that you should never ever refrigerate tomatoes.  It ruins the texture and the flavor of the fruit (yes, technically, a tomato is a fruit).  Unfortunately, all of the tomatoes were pre-cut and preserved in coolers.  It was incredibly difficult to taste the differences in the varieties, and sadly most of the tomatoes tasted terrible.

I was also excited to try the heirloom tomato bloody Marys.  Sadly, I wasn't enough of a lush to get one as soon as we arrived at the festival and by the time I decided to try one at 3:00 (the festival started at 2) the guy in front of me literally was served the last one.  I guess I'll have to experiment and make one at home.

Thankfully, it wasn't all bad.  It was a beautiful day and the farm is lovely.  Volt restaurant prepared a really interesting concoction--a heirloom tomato and shrimp ceviche, topped with heirloom tomato "dippin dots" and dehydrated tomato cotton enjoying an heirloom tomato popsicle (yes, the chefs are making fun of me because I ate so many!)candy.  The ceviche wasn't anything special, but the dippin dots and the cotton candy were amazing.  The cotton candy had an intense tomato flavor and the combination of the sweet ice cream with a little bit of salt in the cotton candy was delicious.  My favorite part was tasting Restaurant Nora's heirloom tomato popsicles.  The heirloom tomato juice was sweetened with a bit of agave syrup.  I shamelessly kept on going back for seconds (and thirds and fourths).  As much as I loved the popsicles, they weren't worth the $50 admission fee.  Yes, I do have sucker written on my forehead.


Now Brought To You In Glorious Technicolor!!!

Check out the first ever klutz in the kitchen video on YouTube:

I'm demonstrating how to make homemade pasta (click this link for the recipe).

Apparently, you can also subscribe to the Klutz in the Kitchen channel:


Hopefully this link works (i'm very much a novice with YouTube).  Apologies if you get a little bit seasick--we still need to purchase a tripod for our flip camera!



How I Spent My Summer Vacation

our hungry boys, Alex and Wyatt. So far, they are not picky eaters!so having babies isn't quite as easy as it looks.  The boys are only seven weeks old, but I've already learned quite a bit about cooking with kids:

  • I always thought I would love to have big eaters, but boy can these kids eat!  They eat about 10-15% of their body weight every day. just imagine what you would look like if you ate that much....
  • I have new respect for cows and goats and any other animals that are milked.  enough said.
  • Kitchen helpers!Thank goodness for friends (and daddies, and grandparents, and random strangers on the street who offer to help).  If I could divide myself into three people and grow extra sets of hands, I might be ok.  Luckily I have great helpers since I haven't figured out how to do that yet.
  • it is much harder to cook when your day is divided into one hour increments of "free time."
  • Cook things ahead of time so you can eat at somewhat normal intervals.  I learned this the hard way.  By the time I finished cooking our dinner after the twins finished theirs, it would be 9:30 or 10:00 at night...just in time for the twins to eat again.  oh the positive side, not eating is a good way to lose all that extra baby weight!
  • Making stewed peaches with WyattIt is possible to cook while holding a baby, although it requires extra caution and a warm bath for you and the baby after you finish cooking.

Although I have been delinquent about posting, I actually have been able to spend a decent amount of time in the kitchen.  I love summer cooking.  Simple meals are a great way to showcase the naturally delicious flavors of local ingredients.  We have had lots of salad, grilled corn, and tomato sandwiches.  I have made some more complicated recipes; however, I think the days of spending hours in the kitchen are over at least for a little bit.  and on that note, I am being beckoned.  Check out the recipe page for some updates!


Mary, Mary Quite Contrary How Does Your Garden Grow?

My herb gardenGrowing up, we had a huge garden.  I use to love to "help" my dad weed the garden (i.e. sometimes pull weeds, more often dig up plants).  I still have fond memories of eating a tomato, still warm from the sun, like an apple or picking corn and immediately cooking and eating it without any butter on it because it was so sweet.  Even though I get lots of fresh produce from the farm markets it is nearly impossible to duplicate these flavors. 

Unfortunately, I'm not able to have quite as ambitious a garden now.  I still plant some tomatoes, but mostly I plant herbs.  Herb gardens are wonderful.  They are relatively low maintenance, they add tons of flavor, smell great, save money (who ever uses an entire bunch of name that herb if you buy it in the grocery store), space efficient, and--as long as you bring the planters inside--you can grow them year round.  Thankfully, my belly hasn't gotten in the way of the bbq....yet

I'm currently growing thyme, oregano, rosemary, basil, sage, lavender, cilantro, mint, and lemon verbena.  I managed to kill my parsley (to my green thumb's credit, however, a bug decided to lay eggs on the plant, so technically it wasn't me who killed the parsley) and basil (that was my fault).  Luckily, for $2.50 I could replace the basil.

I use fresh herbs in almost everything I cook.  Lemon verbena has--you guessed it-- a lemon flavor.  It's great with poultry or in salad dressing.  Last night, we had grilled lamb chops that I marinated with rosemary and mint (click here for the recipe).  It was an easy meal and very flavorful thanks to the fresh herbs.