Omega-3 Cookies

Saturday mornings we herd the two little ones post-pancake breakfast into the stroller and we hit the road to visit our neighborhood Farmer’s Market. After I ogle the heirloom tomatoes to see if one is worthy for my lunch, we hit the mini doughnut stand (that’s a vegetable, right?), loop around the road wishing I had bought less at the grocers and then head for the nearby park rife with mulch and giggling children.

Today however there was a stand toppling with peaches at a reduced price. Cobbler I thought … and it was pretty much downhill from there. This is what our kitchen looked like this evening after one round of cleaning:

So it turned out to be a peach crumble – thanks Ina! – and what’s left of it is hiding under two bowls and spoons. Yup, we ate all of it.

Because the oven was already at temperature and the crumble needed a while to bake, I decided to make walnut biscuits (aka cookies in our multicultural household). Walnuts are perfect for our girls to bulk up on, and while they are crazy about eating almonds as a snack they look at me like I’ve played a dirty trick on them when I try to get them to eat walnuts.

I adapted a recipe for Vanilla Crescents (in Philippa Vanstone’s 500 Cookies) – replacing almonds with walnuts, doubling the quantity of nuts and halving the sugar. The girls adore these just sweet enough biscuits that crumble with omega-3 goodness.

Cut 1 stick softened butter into 1 cup of flour making. Grind 2 cups walnuts, using fork to incorporate walnut meal into butter/flour mix. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, using fork to incorporate. Form large ball (should be slightly sticky), divide evenly into 16 mini balls, shape as desired making each biscuit 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Bake at 350 for 20 mins or until light golden color. Can spend a week in the fridge if they survive that long!


Cardboard Chic

One of the traits I aim to foster in my life and my family is good stewardship … simply taking care of the things we’re given, including the environment. One of the ways we’ve tried to achieve this is using cardboard items for the girls – since they outgrow toys or over-love them to the point of destruction in quite short spaces of time.

I wanted to share some of the slickest designs I’ve come across in hunting replacements for the girls’ current cardboard side chairs that are woefully ready to be recycled and replaced. (Note to self: ascertain the best money-making scheme to be able to afford cool new cardboard side chairs).

Designed by Riki Watanabe [1965]
Metropolitan Gallery Inc.

This multiform set just begs to be played with. The stools fit into the table to make a cube to climb, or if you flip the table upside down you have a boat (clearly have spent too much time dwelling on this piece). I love the possibilities here for kids to imagine and play. Comes in stellar colors.

Rip + Tatter designed by Pete Oyler [2010]
Produced by Assembly Design

I adore these clever and comfy looking chairs. Perfect for the girls when winding down after a raucous visit to the kids section in our local library to pour over their literary spoils.

Designed by Manuel Kretzer [2010]
Responsive Design Studio

This last set is entitled Chick ‘n’ Egg Chair – so so so cute. The name is cute, the baby is cute, the shape is cute and artful. I wonder if purchasing this set would necessitate us having a third child to recreate the moment pictured above. Hmm.

Any clever use of recycled materials for kids you’d like to share?

Murmuring Words

I love words. Where they come from, what they mean, how they sound. My Mum collects dictionaries, so it’s probably genetic and not contagious (at least through the internets so don’t worry). For her birthday a couple years ago I bought her this lovely book that enumerates lesser used collective nouns – like a pride of lions but more intricate like an ostentation of peacocks or a murder of crows – YIKES!

While the video below has made its rounds as a meme – I still find it just delightful. Apparently we call it a murmuration of starlings when they gather like this. Enjoy!

Neuroplasticity and Kale

Like most of us I enjoy hearing a clever tip or listening to a great story. But here is where the problem begins – where my constructive compulsion begins. I often take this new-found information, become temporarily absorbed in it and end up incorporating parts of it into my life. I just can’t help it. But regardless of what it is or how much I adopt, it always stems from a relationship. From brain science to snack foods, I’m easily intrigued.

My fascination with how our brain works was sparked by a bit of cool-kid awe. A friend of mine sent me an article about neuroscience following a conversation I can’t quite recall anymore. What I do recall was that I couldn’t believe that this intellectually cool, highly successful woman would want to be chitchat buddies with me! Having spent enough solo lunches in the computer lab during middle school, I’m still a little surprised when folks want to be friends. To be honest reading the lengthy piece made me blurry-eyed, but what I learned about the brain blew my mind. Several TED talks and NPR pieces later, I was able to hold a conversation about neuroplasticity with two old friends, both PhD candidates in the cognitive sciences. It was bliss. Self adulation aside, I’ve also seen how loved ones have overcome hurdles by applying the latest findings on how to re-map their thoughts. It’s a hopeful study indeed.

I belong to a family of grazers – none of us can handle going a couple hours without eating something. I think my coworkers call it being hangry – whatever it is, we like to avoid it. We have a preschooler and a toddler so I am always hunting for more diverse and nutrition dense snacks. One Monday morning on my trip past the front desk to the kitchen to get a coffee, a dear colleague stopped me to try some kale chips she had made while we caught up on the past weekend’s events. The explosion in my mouth of crunchy, salty super-food had me hooked. She shared the recipe with me and now my family has a new favorite snack and I have a new go-to foodie blog that sends me brilliant ideas weekly.

So many people around us have so much to teach us about so very many things. I will keep listening, and learning, and look forward to sharing here on Niche Envy.

Disclaimer: there are some happy realities about my demographic that will inevitably keep these posts infrequent. Between my lovely two little girls and my husband [read: best friend], work and quotidian life … we’ll see what I’ll actually be able to post. My writing is rusty and likely interesting to only a few, but I’m excited about it! I think that gets a gold star for effort, right?