Afternoon Snack

by Caroline

I read a restaurant review recently that mentioned the unusual egg dishes on the dinner menu and the waiter’s shrugging comment, “Chef thinks eggs are not used enough in the evening.”

Well. Perhaps Chef does not live with children who think Breakfast for Dinner is as wonderful a treat as Dessert for Dinner.

However, I do think eggs are not used enough in the afternoon. There’s not much quicker than what I fixed the other day when I faced that yawning gap between lunch and dinner. And by the way? That fork’s a lie because I just picked the whole thing up and ate it in my fingers.

Maple Roasted Nuts

by Caroline

Lots of people make some version of a sweet or spicy roasted nut during the holidays; this is what Tony makes every year. We give bags to all our teachers and then snack on them all season long.

1 pound nuts
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the nuts. Add the nuts and toss until well coated. Pour into a large roasting pan and spread into a single layer. Bake for 8-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are golden and filling the kitchen with a delicious maple scent. Let cool in the pan, so that the glaze hardens into a crispy shell on the nuts, before serving or storing.

Roasted Chickpeas

by Caroline

Where was I during the Great Roasted Chickpea Craze of 2010? Google the phrase and you’ll find that apparently everyone was making them, or eating them, except me. But though I’m late to the party, I am happy to be here, because this is a delicious and easy snack.

There seem to be two schools of thought about roasting chickpeas: you can dry roast them and then toss them with an herb or spice-infused oil, or you can roast them in a drizzle of oil with your flavorings. I looked through lots of recipes online and then came back to my bookshelf and used Mark Bittman’s recipe from How To Cook Everything Vegetarian, which I have (of course) adapted a bit myself.

3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, drained until as dry as possible
1 tablespoon minced garlic
salt and pepper
zest of one lemon
1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika

Preheat the oven to 400.

Put the oil in an ovenproof skillet big enough to hold all the chickpeas in a single layer, and heat over medium heat. When hot, add the chickpeas and garlic and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Shake the pan to coat the chickpeas well.

Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast, shaking the pan periodically, until the chickpeas begin to brown (15-20 minutes). Take out of the oven and sprinkle with the lemon zest and smoked paprika. Cool slightly and serve.


By Lisa

One of the contributors to our book, which is just a few weeks away from being sent to the publisher (!), is Jeff Gordinier. He’s written for a lot of places, but these days he makes his home at the Dining Section of the New York Times. He recently sent me a link about harvesting walnuts in France.

It’s a beautiful post, and as I read it, it made me happy to know that we, too, so far from France and big, sustainable gardens, also had a big bowl of walnuts, a bowl for shells, and a cracker out on our counter.  Of course, we don’t harvest the nuts ourselves, but we do get them fresh from an orchard that’s about an hour away from where we live, and every year we say the same thing: We can’t believe how good they are. Fresh, flavorful, tender, sweet.  Our whole family eats them all day long.  A nut here, a nut there, they’re like little nuggets of fall. Ella will crack a few while she’s waiting for breakfast. Finn will ask if he can some after lunch.  (I always say yes.) I’ll have some before dinner.  The shells are thin and easy to crack. The nuts are so solid and compact, and they make little musical clicks as we sort them.  Really, everything about them sings.  They’re a fast, healthy snack that you have work a little for, which isn’t a bad thing. And for me, because we only have them this time of year, they’re just one more thing that reminds us of the present moment. That, and the nefarious way a certain medley of carols keeps being sung over, and over, and over….

Saying Yes

by Caroline

This past year, my 6 year-old got out of school an hour earlier than my 9 year-old, and we spent that hour in the school library or, on sunny days, in the park across the street. Once spring came, an ice cream truck parked at the entrance and as we crossed the street into the park every day, Eli would ask, automatically, “Can I have an ice cream?” And I’d say, just as automatically, “Nope,” and list the snacks I’d brought in my purse. It was a routine that caused no particular stress or bother; we didn’t need any legislation to ban the ice cream trucks, we just went on our way.

I don’t have a single good reason for my school year, week day ice cream ban (which is really too strong a word for this routine), and probably if Eli had lobbied harder I would have caved. But he didn’t, so I didn’t. We would play in the park for an hour, he would munch on an apple and a muffin and maybe some peanut butter crackers or a MoJo bar, and then we would pick up Ben and snack some more. I don’t think either of them feels at all deprived of sweets, and if you have read this blog any length of time, you also know they are not — it’s just that most of the time, I like to make them at home.

But when summer vacation comes, I feel like celebrating. Even though the weather in San Francisco isn’t so summery, I embrace the season with sandals and bright pink nail polish and home made ice cream and field trips with the kids to the latest ice cream and donut shops:

the menu at Dynamo Donuts

My friends tease me about my summer food enthusiasms, but my family is certainly not complaining. And when we travel, as we have been this last week (and as Lisa has written along the same lines) I am just a little sweeter, and even more inclined to say yes to treats. They are morale and energy boosters, they are a way to sample the local food culture, they are a break in a busy day of walking from one science museum to the next. On the ferry to San Juan Island last week, which seemed in some ways so foreign, the boys were delighted to find their favorite ballpark treat:

And after a surprisingly good lunch from the snack bar at one of Vancouver’s amazing public pools today, Eli chose from the standard ice cream menu:

While Ben bypassed that for a less typical post-swim snack:

This afternoon, flagging after a long walk from the planetarium to the Granville Public Market, we stopped for donuts, and we’re already looking forward to fudge tomorrow at the Capilano Suspension bridge, because apparently fudge is one of the things one buys to survive a walk across a sky-high suspension bridge, and because we are on vacation, and because it is fun to say yes.