Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Guest Post: Cooking on the Edge of Insanity

Today we have a rare treat: a guest post from our friend Emily, who's just written a wonderful book of essays which is simultaneously a great read and also a wonderful source of kid-friendly recipes.  If you peeps had our blog analytics you'd know that the guest posts we have are the most popular reads by far, so go ahead and read, and then we hope you'll discuss, and check out her cool new e-book.

Two days before Poker Chick and her family come to visit, I scrub down the table. And the floor. And the walls. And the chairs. Then I announce to the children, “No more peanut butter for the next two days.” The next day, I scour it all again.

Poker Chick hasn’t asked me to do this, and I know it’s probably unnecessary to go to quite these extremes, but you must understand that we love peanut butter. And my kids have bad table manners. About 38% of my kitchen is coated in peanut oil at any given time. While I know that I could wash it all once and hope for the best, I really don’t want to take any chances.

I have a motto when it comes to people with food allergies: Not on my watch.

You will not go into anaphylactic shock at my house. I know the world is a dangerous place for someone with serious food allergies, and I know that parents have to be constantly vigilant. Someday, somewhere, it’s very possible that the Mini will encounter peanut butter and will need immediate medical attention. It’s the thought that keeps Poker Chick up at night, I’m guessing. But it won’t be on my watch.

So excuse me while I go wash my doorknobs.

Emily Rosenbaum is a writer, mother, and all-around lunatic who lives in New Jersey. Her new ebook, Cooking on the Edge of Insanity, is available for Kindle and Nook.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Adventures in Fruits & Vegetables

Day six

Breakfast: Green apple with some raw honey

Lunch: Green salad, tomato, cucumber, feta, olives, tossed with plain oil and vinegar

Snack: "Detox" juice made with carrot, cucumber, lemon, apple*

Dinner: Baked sweet potato, plain turkey burger, roasted brussels sprouts

No, we're not on a diet.  It's the Jewish low carb diet Passover, and there's two more full days to go.

In the meantime, while you're counting the minutes until you can order a pizza, please to enjoy this vintage Poker Chick commentary on Passover from three years ago. We were trying to write something new and witty, but really this pretty much says it all.


We Were Slaves in Egypt, and I'm Hungry, Dammit!

Oh, and Happy Easter to you peeps out there celebrating.  Enjoy your peeps and all that. (sorry, couldn't resist!)

*only because it was hot, we were hungry, and Pinkberry yogurt apparently contains rice starch. Evil torturers!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Wheel...of...complacency

The other day we were channel-surfing (we know, how last century), and came across the famous Wheel of Fortune on TV.
What's in it for this guy?

After a rather long debate as to whether or not that's Pat Sajak's real hair, we started wondering.  The guy's 64 years old.  He's been doing this show since 1981.  Seriously?

WTF?  Isn't he bored to death?  Sources estimate he's made $5-$10MM per season; this adds up to more than $1 million for every letter of the alphabet.  Has he not accumulated enough money in 30 years to retire?  Did no one tell him that most of us common folk retire by 64?  

Thoughts? Feel free to comment if anyone thinks they have the answers to these bizarre questions and more.  In the meantime, we're studying the channel guide in search of more...modern programming.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Versatile Blogger Award

Behold:

The Versatile Blogger is the first formal writing award I have received in my adult life.  If I knew enough about technology to add sound to create a "ta-dam" sound, I would have.

I was in shock when A Mountain Momma, a total stranger and funny Canadian, bestowed this great honor upon yours truly.  This is a mother of two who just got accepted to graduate school.  She is both talented and brave, and her blog is hilarious.

Instead of the usual "I'd like to thank the academy..." speech, where I don a hot red dress while Joan Rivers mocks me*,  I am hereby obligated to share 7 facts about myself to you, lovely readers who are just discovering this blog.  So here are 7 facts about me and my writing.

1.  My "writing" career began in elementary school with some poems my 3rd grade teacher made a big fuss about.  In 5th grade I wrote a "book" that spontaneously became our class play.  People still laugh at my pinata scene.  And by people I mean me.

2.  In junior high I started a writing club and the school liked it so much they made up some fancy award for me.  No, seriously.  They did.

3.  In 11th grade I took my writing to the next level by adding beautiful stick figure illustrations.  Together with a writing partner, we turned it into a regular comic series that was featured in every mock school newspaper issue.

4. In college I wrote a mockumentary expose on our cafeteria workers in the Punch Bowl.  I also wrote a killer paper for my management class on the gaming industry.  Wynn resorts proudly provided marketing material to this 19-year old future gambler of America.  Thanks, Poker peeps!

5. I don't write in the third person for anonymity, I just do it because use of the royal "we" cracks me up. 

6.  I am one of less than 1% of mothers who don't post pictures of their kids on Facebook or on their blog.  I know this because I work in advertising where I learn and quote statistics like this on a regular basis.  I do this because of future pedophiles.  And yes, I know that makes me one of the top .5% most neurotic mothers in the country.  I'm nothing if not a competitive overachiever.

7.  I know this will be hard to believe, but my name is not actually Poker Chick.  People IRL call me Michelle.

Despite all of the above, it's taken 5 years of blogging, one amazing writing group, a mentor, a screenplay, and one fancy blogging award to start thinking of myself as a real writer.

As an award-winning writer, I am proud to introduce these 15 amazing writers who you may not know. 

Emily
Emily is one of my oldest and dearest friends.  She works her ass off and is smarter than 99% of people you'll ever meet.  In the "yay for you" category, she tells a good story. 

Gray Matter Matters
A former ad chick and (together with Tina Fey), my female-comedy soul-mate, Betsy will entertain you and keep you on top of modern technology to boot.

Bern This
Jessica is just effin' hilarious.  'Nuff said.  

Nut Free Mom
A writer, speaker and expert on raising kids with food allergies.  Jenny's blog is really informative.

Allergic Kid
Not only is Libby's site an awesome place for school lunch ideas, she's also helped call national media attention to a family in Florida that was picketed for trying to protect their peanut-allergic 1st grader in school.  You go girl.

Working mothers break
Katrina's not exactly unknown in the blogosphere, but if she's new to you then you should check her out.  She's trying to make the US workforce more family-friendly, and her honesty is refreshing.

Laid off dad
Have been following his thought-provoking posts for a while.   Plus, you gotta have a token dad in the mix.

Allergic Girl
Have been a fan of Sloane's blog for years.  She's becoming famous so go visit while you still have a chance at your comments being noticed.

Mouthy housewives
These women have been neglecting their families to give you advice since 2009.

Food Allergy Mama
Aside from kick-ass recipes, Kelly takes pictures that will make your mouth water.  Plus, anyone that can write a book while raising FOUR kids warrants serious respect.  

Working moms against guilt
Great resource for working moms. 

Nancy Davishko
Nancy is a new find; and she's just hilarious.  Also, she uses the word "Malarkey". 

Walking with scissors
Another self-professed overprotective mom.  So I have to like her.  Also, she's funny. So there's that.

Chicky chicky baby
Tania is funny enough that I forgive her for being one of those people that do family Christmas cards.

Michele Lewis
A mother who's also a professional poker player? My hero.

Thank you again, Theresa!  You've rendered me totally verklempt.  And that word wasn't in spell check, either.

*Funny, but can't take the credit for that joke.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Are you a Mommy or a Mama?

A friend of ours had a baby shower today and we watched as 30 or so friends and family members celebrated with gifts and diaper cakes to joyously prepare this woman for the shellshock wonderful life event that was waiting for her and her husband.

No doubt, she, like all of us, is making plans in her head; her dreams filled with visions of what her new family will be like.  What her baby will smell like, the lovely bonding time, the feeling of holding a cooing baby in her arms.


We did that too.  But then, starting with the sixth-sense babies seem to have of picking the exact wrong day to send their mom into labor, we learn quickly that they have minds of their own.  Good for them, hard for us.  And often they pick the most random things to be stubborn about.

Take the traditional "Mommy".  We thought being called Mommy was a given, especially since we'd practically beaten the term to death.  We suppressed our gag reflex to train her properly and be a good, engaging parent.  "Mommy's changing your diaper right now".  "Oh, did you just poke Mommy in the eye?"  and "PLEASE stop crying, I wish you could just tell Mommy what you want!"  (Incidentally, the latter is typically followed by a "will you PLEASE stop talking, Mommy can't hear herself think!" about a year or so later.)

All that said, we always took for granted that we owned "Mommy".  There was no question as to what we were called.  In England (and Canada), it may be "Mum" or "Mummy", but should not be confused with "Mumsy".  According to the urban dictionary, "Mumsy" is defined as "another way of saying mummy. can be more affectionate or used when the child wants something, usually money."  Personally, we suspect "Mumsy" is reserved for eccentric royals circa 1850.  Here, in this home, it's "Mommy".  Dammit.
This is not how we see ourselves.

As a relatively new parent, Poker Chick was still under the illusion that parents have some level of control, and was therefore not prepared for the following conversation, which played out several times a week.

Mama?

 It's Mommy.  What would you like, dear?

Mama, can you-

-it's Mommy.  Call me Mommy.

I don't think so, Mama.  

Who makes the rules around here, huh?

Mama, can you wipe my poop?

And so on.  Now, Poker Chick was not thrilled with this.  "Momma" was inconsistent with the identity she was forming.  Granted we were raising a city girl, but this felt more hood than east side.  "Mother" would probably be more consistent with this neighborhood than "Momma".  And "Mama" was even more bizarre.  We're not "Mama".  "Mama" is some lady on TV with a big family in the 1970s.  "Mama" is a big lady wearing an apron making her own pasta from scratch.  "Mama" is not yours truly.

Looking back, it's not surprising.  "Mama" was Mini's third word, after "hi" and "baby" (pronounced more like be-be).  But still, we fought it.  We repeated the conversation above over and over for months until we felt like a broken record. 

What is it with this "Mama" thing? Is it a new trend? Have children everywhere stopped calling their kids "Mommy"? Has Mini just fallen victim to peer pressure?  What do your kids call you?

They say you can tell a baby's temperament just weeks after it's born.   When Mini was six weeks old, Poker Chick went to a new mother's class and one of the discussions was temperament.  Some babies were mellow, some happy.  Mini?  WillfulHeadstrong. 

Six years later, this temperament is shockingly accurate.

Guess who won the "Mama" battle? 

Welcome to motherhood.

 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Baking For Kids With Food Allergies

We're often asked how we bake for mini considering she is allergic to eggs.  The answer is it's pretty easy but it was a learning process.  All of a sudden we realized that over the years we've built up quite the repertoire and what we take for granted as daily tasks were tips that could have made life easier years ago had we thought of them sooner.

So, here is a tip for making life easier when bribing baking for someone with food allergies: Freeze-ahead single serve portions.

We cringe at reading this.  Even the sound of it "freeze-ahead"...sounds so domesticated, so put together and organized, so Martha Stewart, so...1950s housewife. All things we typically run from.  So the irony of this post is not lost on us.

However consider this: aside from the fact that this helps her live a normal life, someday Mini will be a teenager.  And then she will be in college.  And sadly, as uber-cool as her mother may be, she will not think so.  She will run far, far away from the embarrassment that is her neurotic and overprotective Jewish mother.

So, we bake.

We bake with the knowledge that if the products are good enough, even if Mini wants to hide us from her friends, her friends will prefer to hang at our place.  They will ask when mother is coming to school.  They will trade information for a cookie.

We bake for leverage.

As a bonus, we create allergy-friendly foods that help make healthy eating pretty easy.  One of mini's favorite recipes is this pumpkin bread.  It tastes like chocolate chip cake but since it has pumpkin, whole wheat and soy flour - it has fiber, vegetables, protein.  It's a good breakfast or at the very least an after-school snack you can feel better about than goldfish.  Around here it's used for bribery.

2 loaves = 20 "makes you feel so put together every time you use one" slices of delicious pumpkin bread.  And you'd never know it was egg-free.  In fact, it's so popular, Poker Chick now has to double the recipe each time she makes it to give some to her neighbors and best friends as well.

Poker Chick's Allergy-Friendly* Chocolate Chip Whole Wheat Pumpkin Protein Bread

Just so you believe this recipe is legit
STEP 1: Mix dry ingredients in a giant bowl
1  1/3 cup soy protein flour
1 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3-4 teaspoons salt
1 1/3 bags Enjoy Life chocolate chips
3/4 cup - 1 cup sugar

STEP 2: Mix wet ingredients in medium bowl
30 oz (1 29-oz. can is ok too) canned pumpkin
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 teaspoons melted butter (works with non-dairy spread as well if you want dairy-free bread)

STEP 3: Preheat oven to 350 and grease two loaf pans
 
STEP 4: Prepare the Egg Replacer "Mixture"
For the equivalent of eight eggs, mix 2 tablespoons Ener-G egg replacer with 8 tablespoons water in a bowl.  Use room temp water or it throws off the recipe.  Whisk vigorously until all the lumps are gone and pour into the "wet ingredients" bowl immediately.  Egg replacer works best when it's used as soon as it's mixed for some reason.

STEP 5: Mix ingredients
Add Egg Replacer mixture to wet ingredients bowl
Pour 1/3 of wet ingredients bowl into dry ingredients bowl.  Mix with tough spatula until blended.
Repeat until everything is mixed together.

STEP 6: Finish and Bake
Pour batter (very thick), divided evenly between 2 loaf pans.  Bake about 45 minutes, a little longer if you're one of those rare people who like it on the dry side.

FINAL STEP:  Prepare for your acceptance speech as a domestic goddess
Cool, slice, wrap each slice in wax paper, then foil, then put them in 2 large freezer zipper bags. 

In the morning, grab one out of the freezer and throw it into the backpack for breakfast or a snack*.  Send thank you note to Poker Chick later.

This process works well for birthday party cupcakes too.  Just put them in the fridge to set the frosting before wrapping them (we suggest plastic then foil) or else the frosting will stick to the plastic and come off when you try and unwrap it.


*Bread is egg, nut, and sesame free.  It can also be made dairy free quite easily.  Bread does contain wheat and soy.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Rabbit, Rabbit

gmail.com/motion
Cute, Google.  Very cute.
A team of Googlers demonstrating how to create a pie chart

Our personal favorite is the young lady demonstrating her "uploading" capabilities in an image.  Play around with these links and you'll see what we mean.