Thursday, December 23, 2010


I'm very psyched to say that Daily Candy Kids asked me to come up with some new recipes to make with kids. So a few weeks ago, Dash, Bella, and I slow-cooked pork and beef shoulder on a bed of vegetables for 8.5 hours. It was well worth the wait. Here are the details.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


When you have a blog with more than five followers, companies start offering you free shit. I won't name names but most of the time you couldn't pay me to give these "food" products to my kids. On the other hand, my kids would probably give me all their tooth fairy money to get their hands on just one of these toxic items. It only takes one lick of artificial cheese powder to get my kids high.

I finally got a product offer that I felt comfortable accepting. Pom Wonderful asked if I wanted to experiment with pomegranate juice in some of my recipes. We got the juice in the mail and Dash immediately pounded a few bottles.
This stuff is very tasty. And tart. I was worried that Dash would drink them all up so I hid the rest of the bottles in the attic fridge and forgot about them.

Then Bella started to feel really bad.

"They specifically gave us that juice so that we would make something. It's not okay to just forget about it. It's going to go BAD. They might even get mad at you, mama." She's a bit unclear on the concept of bloggers and marketing. I'm in awe of her sense of responsibility. Seems inappropriate for a seven-year old, but I still find it beautiful.

"What about Pomegranate martinis?" I suggested.
Bella rolled her eyes at me.
"Should we reduce it down and make pomegranate syrup?"I asked.
"Should we marinate some lamb in it?"
"No, mama. Let's make pomegranate jello with fresh pomegranate seeds on top."

For years I've associated jello with Bill Cosby, childbirth, and the stomach flu. Sort of a mixed bag of associations. But for Bella, jello was just that exciting neon stuff that her mom refused to buy and that other people had at their houses.

"Pomegranate jello? That's fucking brilliant." Yes. I did say that. To my seven-year old.

She started gathering pomegranates from the fruit bowl.
The first thing we needed for jello was gelatin. And I knew making gelatin involved a big old pile of meat parts. I learned this the hard way when I offered my vegetarian friends some of my homemade marshmallows last Christmas. They said they would have to give them away to their carnivorous neighbors.

Dash, Bella, and I headed over to the butcher to find out how to make homemade gelatin. I really want my kids to know where food comes from. And if I had to choose between them eating collagen extracted from meat or FD&C Red #40, I'd pick the meat every time.

"Can you get a hold of a cow's hoof?"asked one of the butchers.
I was confused. I stuttered a bit. "Um. Uh. Maybe I can get one. But can't you? You're the butcher."
"Nope," he said. "No hooves here. Just get yourself one and then grate it down into a fine powder." He smirked a bit so I wasn't sure he was taking me seriously.
"With a microplane grater?" I asked.
"Wow, you really are determined to make your own gelatin."
"I don't mess around."
Dash looked proud. Bella was slowly backing away from her embarrassing mother into the paper towel aisle.

The butcher dudes looked at each other, laughed, and went back to discussing whether or not a pint is a pound the world around. One guy believed it. The other didn't.

Inspired and determined, I was ready to search Berkeley for a cow's hoof. Bella didn't have the patience. She wanted to make jello RIGHT NOW. So we bought packs of gelatin instead. So much for knowing the source of our food. Next time with the cow's hoof.

Back at home, Bella dressed Dash up as a robot and told him to stay the hell out of her kitchen.
We followed the general directions on the back of the gelatin package. Mix gelatin with cold juice. Let sit for a minute.
Combine with hot pomegranate juice and a little sugar. Pour into assorted ramekins or glasses.
Add some pomegranate seeds. Refrigerate. 
The little seeds float up to the top as it sets. And then jello happens. Magic. 

"Bella," I said, "it turns out jello can be beautiful."
Bella had already moved on. "Mama, what a relief that the jello is done. Now we can drink the rest of the juice and not feel guilty."

Soon, I hope, she'll start organizing my papers and paying the bills.

TIP FOR REMOVING POMEGRANATE SEEDS:  Put on an apron. Sometimes I even do this outside. Cut pomegranate in half. Take one pomegranate half with the cut half facing down into a bowl. Whack the outside of the fruit with a heavy wooden spoon. The seeds will fall down into the bowl. Make sure you remove any white pith that has fallen into the bowl. Repeat with the other half.

printable recipe
make 8-12 servings depending on ramekin size

2 packages gelatin
4.5 cups pomegranate juice
2 tablespoons sugar  (or more to taste)
seeds from 1 pomegranate

Mix gelatin with 1/2 cup cold pomegranate juice. Mix and let stand for a minute. Bring remaining 4 cups of pomegranate juice to a boil. Take off the heat. Add sugar and mix until dissolved. Taste. Add more sugar if it's not sweet enough. Whisk in gelatin mixture. Pour hot liquid into a pitcher. Pour into ramekins of any size, almost to the top of each dish. Sprinkle fresh pomegranate seeds on top. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.