Breakfast in Bed: Mardi Gras Beignets

Post by Alison Hein.

Shimmery, jewel-toned costumes; exotic bird-like glittering faces; fantastical winged creatures dancing on air – I was snapping photos like crazy at the Grand Mardi Gras parade in Marigot, St. Martin. Not caught on film were the pulsing, thumping rhythm of the crew bands; the beating of traditional wooden drums; the keening of lustered conch shell trumpets; or the tantalizing, honey-sweet to spicy-savory scents of festival food.

After the parade, Kevin and I roamed the temporary alleys formed by vendor carts and tents. We purchased a handful of Mardi Gras Beignets from a grey-haired local woman. She fried them up fresh for us – perfect delicate spheres, lightly dusted in sweet, white sugar. The outside of each beignet was delicate and warm, the inside subtly sweet with a hint of fragrant spice.

Home from our trip, I was determined to replicate our beignet experience. The recipe I found on the St. Martin Tourist Office website seemed a good place to start (see below for address). Try as I might, my beignets turned out looking more like doughy squids and dolphins than the flawless festival rondures in St. Martin. Still, they were light and sweet, lavishly spiced and citrusy – a festive Mardi Gras breakfast in bed.

Ingredients
Oil for frying (4 to 6 cups)
1 cup water
¾ cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups flour
4 eggs
1 teaspoon fresh grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon rum (optional)
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Powdered sugar

Equipment
Deep-fry or candy thermometer

Preparation
Pour oil at least 2 inches deep into a small, heavy pan. Heat over medium heat to approximately 350°. Add water, sugar, butter, and salt to a second heavy saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the butter has melted. Remove from heat, and whisk in flour until batter is well-mixed and smooth. Place pan back over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until dough begins to thicken and pull away from sides of pan, about one to two minutes. Remove the pan from heat and whisk in the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.

Add the grated lemon rind, vanilla, rum, cinnamon and nutmeg into the flour mixture. Stir until batter is thick and smooth, resembling a thick pancake batter.

Using 2 spoons, carefully drop a scant tablespoon of batter into the hot oil for each beignet. Cook about six beignets at a time, allowing oil to retain its temperature. Turn the beignets several times while frying, until they have reached a deep golden brown color, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove beignets from pan and drain on paper towels. Toss with powdered sugar (I use a small paper bag) while still warm. Serve immediately.

Makes about 2 dozen beignets.

NOTE: Monitor oil with candy thermometer to maintain stable temperature.

Adapted from the St. Martin Tourist Office website recipe for Mardi Gras Fritters (http://www.stmartinisland.org/st-martin-focus-of-the-month/93-specials/369-stmartin-culinaryspecialties.html).

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Bedroom Design: Kiddos

Post by Erin Sears.

It’s vacation week at my day job, but even when I’m away, I’m still thinking about the kids. I know a lot of families who took great care in preparing a nursery for their lovely little miracle, but once the kid got older, the design part of the room got kind of lost. Raising kids will wear you out (with love and other stuff).

Here are a few ideas for super awesome kid rooms to give your little one a special place that feels just like home. Be aware that professional decorators created most of the rooms in these examples and they may feel a little far from your current life. Don’t worry- you don’t have to be an overachiever to gain a great space. These photos exist to inspire, so let’s glean the best from them!

KIDTASTIC ROOM #1:

Art!

Source: http://www.vogue.com/magazine/article/american-pastoral-miranda-brooks-and-bastien-halard-brooklyn-home/#/magazine-gallery/miranda-brooks-brooklyn-house/10

Every kid is born an artist. Honor their good works in the landscape of their own room. If you value their art, they will value their art. What is valued persists.

KIDTASTIC ROOM #2

Color!

Source: http://mamamekko.blogspot.com/

Children aren’t afraid to use color and you shouldn’t be either. I recommend painting rooms in vibrant shades, but if that isn’t practical in your home, why not add colorful furniture and art?

KIDTASTIC ROOM #3

The Good Stuff!

Source: http://www.vogue.com/magazine/article/american-pastoral-miranda-brooks-and-bastien-halard-brooklyn-home/#/magazine-gallery/miranda-brooks-brooklyn-house/10

I believe that kids deserve REAL furniture. When it’s time for a big kid bed, go for it! This blue iron beauty of a bed is kid friendly heirloom material. You’ll keep it and use it FOREVER.

KIDTASTIC ROOM #4

Elements of Joy and Whimsy!

Source: pinterest user Jonathan Lo/happymundane

Kids are fun. Decorating should be too. Don’t forget that your audience is really your child. Be a little silly. PLAY. You won’t regret it.

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Bedtime Stories: Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem

Post by Mark T. Locker.

Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem by Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Adam Rex.

You know what is annoying? When parents make all kinds of unreasonable demands on their children. And what’s even worse than that? When they go making completely unbelievable threats like, “Do your homework or I’m sending you to the moon.” Or, “Don’t make faces or one day that face will stick.” In Twitters family, it’s always, “Billy, take out the trash or we’re buying you a blue whale.” Or, “Billy, eat your vegetables or we’re buying you a blue whale.” Which is of course a RIDICULOUS threat because nobody in his right mind is going to burden a kid with a real live, full-grown blue whale!

So, maybe Billy’s parent’s are in their right minds because what do you think Billy saw staring through his window one morning? That’s right: the giant eye of a blue whale. Not only that, but Billy couldn’t leave the whale at home; it’s his responsibility. And to make matters worse, his teacher was so excited by the whale’s presence he decided to devote the class to a study on cetology, when they were SUPPOSED to watch a movie in class. It wasn’t Billy’s fault, but the kids all blamed him.

Adam Rex and Mac Barnett have teamed up for another hilarious story. I am personally in love with Adam Rex and his attention to little details. Like the fact that Billy put the whale on a skateboard before trying to pull him up the hill to school on his bike:

It’s fun. It’s silly. It’s totally worth a read.

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Bedtime Stories: Chicken Soup With Rice

Post by Mark T. Locker.

I had a little blast from the past this morning when my son was given a little box set of Maurice Sendak books, including “Chicken Soup With Rice” and “Alligators All Around”. I had the same box set as a child as well at the Really Rosie record, in which Carole King sang versions of the books. Thanks to the magic of Spotify, I can revisit the musical versions of these songs. For me I cannot disassociate “Chicken Soup With Rice” from Carole King’s musical interpretation. But my demanding son was very disapproving of me every time I drifted into singing the words.

“Pierre” is fun to read; it’s a cautionary tale about a boy who only says “I don’t care”. So, he gets eaten by a lion. It’s also fun because every other line (practically) is “I don’t care” so I just have my son say that line over and over and over. I just hope it doesn’t carry over into real life as well.

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Movies in Bed: The Pioneer Woman


Post by Josh Zinn.

Hello, dear readers!! Though normally I find the idea of exposing the private thoughts of youngsters as a grievous act, I can’t help but share this wonderful window into the mind of my oldest niece (and future Julia Child), Shelly Swallowsbeigh. Here Shelly tells you all (and her Diary!) about the amazing culinary journey she is embarking on—all thanks to the Food Network’s show “The Pioneer Woman.” Enjoy!

Dear Diary,

Today I just made the most A-M-A-Z-I-N-G decision of my life. Seriously, this is even better than when I mailed in that certificate for a free Magic Bullet cause I won the cake-walk at my school’s carnival back in November. Sure, I know I’ll basically be able to say on talk shows or Top Chef or whatever other cooking show I get on (when I become a big food star! It’s gonna happen!) that winning that was the start of my culinary career, but, seriously, not even the Magic Bullet is as cool as this!

Guess what!?

I’m going to be on “The Pioneer Woman!!” Eeeeeeeeeep!

Now, I know what you’re saying, diary. The Pioneer who? But what you don’t know is that “The Pioneer Woman” is this really cool lady named Ree Drummond and she’s a cook—just like me!! Not only that, but she lives on a horse ranch in Oklahoma and is married to this really cute cowboy and has these super-adorable kids and gets to cook for them all day and she has a blog and a show on the Food Network and all of what I just wrote is only, like, THE DREAM I’VE HAD ALL MY LIFE! And now I, Shelly Swallowsbeigh, am going to be on her show, so my dream is coming true! Yay for me!
BTW – Here’s a link to a really good example of what Ree does best: down-home cooking. I have used this recipe called “The Bread,” like, so many times and it always is soooooo good. She’s totally an Einstein!

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/09/the-bread/

So, you might be wondering how I am getting to go on her show, huh? Well, I was down at Williams Sonoma perusing (I just learned that word, btw, and I LOVE it! Cool, huh?) the blenders cause you know I love a good smoothie when all of a sudden I saw this big line that was forming in the back of the store. All these people were standing there and they were all holding books, but I couldn’t tell what they were reading. Then, I saw her! Oh my gosh, she is so pretty. She was smiling at people and talking to them and signing their books (they were her new cookbook! Um, please, Santa?) and I could tell that she is, y’know, really down to earth and loves doing what she does. Shows ya there really are angels here on earth, right Diary?

Anyway, of course I waited in line too even though I didn’t have a book. I mean, duh!
When I got up to her she smiled that beautiful smile of hers and said, “Where’s you book, darlin’?”

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? AWESOME!!

I told her I didn’t have a book, but that I was, seriously, her biggest fan and actually kept a scrapbook of her recipes at home (which is true, even though I didn’t tell her I also have a bunch of Sandra Lee recipes in there as well). I don’t know if this means she’s never met a true fan before, but seriously, diary, she just about jumped out of her chair to give me a hug Her hair smells like cornbread Anyway, not to milk it even more (well, just a little) I then told her about how much I love her “The Bread” recipe and how I was even experimenting with it by sometimes doing something kinda crazy like putting garlic salt or pepper on it. She was really impressed and told me she hadn’t thought of that before! Dying

So, then one of the people she is with comes up to me and asks if I ever would have any interest in being on her show and if my Mom and Dad are with me. I tell him they aren’t, but give him my Mom’s number and the next thing you know I’m being flown out to Oklahoma next week to show Ree (and the world) how you can make “The Bread” into an international affair by adding things like parsley or oregano to it.

IS THIS MY LIFE?

Anyway, diary, I know this is all totally stream-of-consciousness but I had to tell somebody what’s happening!! I mean, I can’t believe that me thinking about how good a Jamba Juice sounded when I was at the mall (that’s what led me into Williams Sonoma) could be so life-changing. The Pioneer Woman is only, like, my favorite show on the Food Network and now I’m going to be on it!

Hold your horses for me, Ree; I’m on my way!

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