Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Potatoes, butter knives and all the simple things

I spent today alone with the boys (no preschool, no playdates, no errands, no scheduled anything) and we were all so happy. It’s a reminder to me of why I keep Will at home at least a couple days a week so he has plenty of time to discover his own fun (camping in sheet-tents in our bedroom, reading books to himself in his bedroom, sorting playing cards in the living room, “ice-skating,” running and purposefully falling throughout the house, and of course inventing stories with Ally and Puff as central characters).

On our daily walk with the gargantuan double stroller Will and I talked all the way to the park --- about the birds, cats, construction site, and mail man we passed, about life, about Fresh Burger. And for the first time, Owen stayed awake for the whole 20-minute journey, which until now has always lulled him to sleep at some point. He was enjoying our first semi-cool morning outdoors so much that he also stayed happily awake while Will ran around at the playground.
Back at home Will and I cooked up a barley/kale/carrot/potato/kidney bean stew for dinner (which Will would later devour, once we extracted the kale from his serving) and Will discovered that he loves cutting potato wedges with a kid-sized butter knife. We decided we were putting on a cooking show for Owen – and we were careful to try to elicit coos and smiles, which are more exuberant and expressive than ever, from him as we worked. (I’m pretty certain that there’s something biologically rigged about those baby “social smiles” that forces us as parents to engage with our little helpless infants as much as possible. Owen’s smiles are so intoxicatingly full of happiness that you can’t help but do silly songs and dances and speeches to illicit more of them. And so sweet baby Owen, who might otherwise get ignored for little lapses of time, keeps learning from us.)

Owen was also thoughtful enough to go to sleep in time for Will and I to enjoy lunch and naptime reading, just the two of us. And then miracle of miracles, both boys napped in unison for an hour and a half.

Who could ask for more?

For the thrifty shopper in you: I also found a book at the Just 4 Kidz Consignments sale that made Will laugh and laugh. If you're a Columbus area-mom you might want to check out their Saturday sale for lots of half-price bargains.


Heather said...

Hi Annie!

Is there anyway I could get the kale/potato (etc, I cannot remember but it sounded good) recipe from you? Thing One is currently a vegetarian and hates beans. I know, makes no sense, but I'd love some ways to cook healthy meals for her that she would like, and the soup sounds fabulous.

-Terrible Mother

Annie Addington said...

Here it is. (Wish I could find a toddler that would eat the kale in it. Will wants to try brocolli in its place next time. And by the way, my husband is threatening to revert to vegetarianism and isn't much of a bean fan as well --although he did eat the soup. Maybe he and Thing One should hang out some time.)

Barley, Kale and Kidney Bean Stew

1 ½ Tbsp olive oil
2 cups sliced onions (we didn’t use quite that much as Will’s not so big on onions)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup pearled or hulled barley
2 tsp chopped fresh sage or 1 tsp dried sage
½ tsp salt or more, to taste
10 cups water or basic vegetable stock
1 large russet potato, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes
2 cups ½-inch thick carrot rounds
1 small bunch kale
1 ¼ cups cooked and rinsed kidney beans (I was lazy and used a can)
2 Tbsp lemon juice (from about ½ lemon)
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

In large saucepan heat olive oil and add onions. Cook 5-6 minutes then add garlic, barley sage, salt and 7 cups of the water or stock. Cover, bring to a boil and then turn heat to low. Let stew simmer 25 minutes then add potato, carrots and 2 cups more water or stock. Cover and let simmer 10 minutes more. Cut the stem and inner stalk from the kale. Coarsely chop the leaves (there should be about 6 cups) and add to the stew with 1 cup water or stock. Simmer 10 minutes more, adding more water or stock if the stew seems to dry. Add the kidney beans and lemon juice. The stew should be similar to a pilaf but less dry. Tast and add salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, then dribble 1 tsp olive oil over each bowl. Eat up!