08 February 2013

Mustard and sumac popcorn

I've told you before how we like to eat popcorn around here.  Wyatt is a big fan too.  Not sure if it's because, well, it's fun to eat or the fact that it's the one and only food we allow him to eat on the couch.  He gets to take his big bowl of popcorn and sit on the couch "next to me" and crunch away.  It usually involves "watching Obamas," which is his way of saying watch TV (What can I say, the inauguration festivities made an impression on him . . . ).

So lately I've been experimenting with new toppings, and mostly accidentally, I came up with one we really like.   Here's how to make it: After popping the corn, melt however much butter you plan to use for a bowl of popcorn and add about a teaspoon of dry mustard to the melted butter.  Mix it well so that all the dry mustard dissolves into the butter (this takes a little work) -- or at least so there aren't any big dry lumps left.  Drizzle the mustard-butter over the popped corn, sprinkle with a bit of salt, and then sprinkle generously with ground sumac.

Sumac is a spice used in middle eastern cooking and has a bright, almost lemony quality to it.  I found it in our local HT market, but you can certainly buy it online, and I would guess you can find it anywhere that sells a variety of international food or at a middle eastern market.  It seems like it's becoming more popular and well known, so you might find it in the regular grocery store soon, too.

In any case, we like the combination -- a little bite from the mustard, some salt and butter, and a bright finish thanks to the sumac.


On Tuesday, I invited two of my favorite little ladies their their mom to the house to make fancy Valentine boxes.  Then we filled them with sweet treats.  I was so impressed with the creativity of my little friends.  Within a couple hours each of them has several beautiful boxes made up for teachers, grandparents, and the like.  These little girls are special to me, and we have a bit of a tradition of making fun (and yummy) things together. 

Elizabeth applying her glue dots.
Ana enjoying an after-school crumpet while she designs her boxes.
Wyatt loved playing "boo" with each of our guests.  He was the lucky recipient of a belated birthday Lego train with numbers AND a dog -- his first learning aid from Seattle's famed Math 'n Stuff.  He also received a tiny pink rattle shaped like a guitar, which has quickly become his favorite of all.  He carries the "tar" with him everywhere, and will sing you his version of "wheel bus round" (a.k.a. The Wheels on the Bus) with minimal prompting while strumming the "tar," of course. 

We filled the cute boxes with Hersey kisses, sour lips, and homemade Valentine's peppermint bark.  The bark is a super simple confection.  As a bonus, it's quite nice to nibble in the afternoon with a cup of tea, too.

Easy Valentine's Peppermint Bark

3 packages Ghiradelli's White Chips
2 tsp peppermint flavoring (use less if using extract)
One large peppermint candy cane, crushed to smitherenes
Cute Valentine's sprinkles

Melt the chips in a double boiler over low heat, striring often so the chips melt slowly and don't get too hot on the bottom.   When fully melted, stir in the peppermint flavoring and most of the crushed candy cane.  Spread the mixture in an even layer on a large baking sheet lined with wax paper.  Sprinkle with the remaining candy cane bits and sprinkle liberally with Valentine sprinkles.

Let the bark harden at room temperature for several hours or overnight.  Break into pieces with your hands or the tip of a knife.  Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks (at least that's what I'm told . .  . ours won't last that long.)

Note: Next time I'll try making this bark with good quality white chocolate.  Probably a tad more temperamental to melt and a bit more expensive, but it would likely turn out a bit less sweet and a tad harder, which would suit me fine.

07 February 2013

He rhymes now too

On Monday I realized that Wyatt can rhyme.  Not just recognize a rhyme and giggle, but actually make one up himself.  We were laying in The Big Bed, as our king-size bed has become known, and I was singing "This Old Man" to him -- it's one of my few songs that does not immediately get nixed with "difent song peas."  I successfully got through the verse ". . . he played three, he played nick-nack on my knee" when Wyatt piped up and said, "next to me.  three."  I stopped and said, sure, I can sing three with "next to me" instead of "knee." So I backtracked and sang from three again.

As soon as I'd made it through five, which is Wyatt's favorite part of the song because I say "behive" instead of just "hive," which sounds funny and changes the cadence of the song . . . he piped up again and said, "one. bum."  (We name body parts after the bath, and bum is one of his favorites.)  I then proceeded to sing the song again with ". . . he played one, he played nick-nack on my bum," and upon doing so, Wyatt immediately blurted out, "chum."  Now he was just screwing with me!

I had not really thought about when a kid learns to rhyme.  But apparently it happens around two, and it is quite charming.