Little City Kitchen Co. Blog

My stories about local food, fermentation, and formerly organic baby food
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Raindrops on Roses…

We’re going to take a break from my normal baby-food inspired blog and do something a little different this week.  I was watching TV and saw a preview for Oprah’s program for the 45th Anniversary of The Sound of Music.  I immediately started singing in my head “raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,” so today I thought I share with you a “few of my favorite things.”  My favorite kitchen things, that is…

1)    Microplane – my all time favorite cooking gadget.  I use it several times a day.  It’s what is called a rasp-style grater.  Perfect for taking the zest off any citrus, but also wonderful for shaving paper-thin Parmesan cheese over spaghetti, whole nutmeg & cinnamon in oatmeal, or dark chocolate shavings over whip cream.  Cost is around $15.00, and you can buy it most any kitchen store.

2)    Hand-held citrus squeezer – I cook a lot with citrus.  Fresh lemon juice goes in my homemade hummus and plenty of lime juice goes in my Thai curries.  This gadget is easy: you cut the lemon in half, put it cut-side down facing the holes, and squeeze.  Tons of juice comes out and the seeds stay in the holder.  Note – most people make the mistake of putting the lemon in cut-side up to mirror the shape of the gadget, but you’ll find cut-side down yields even more juice.  Cost is around $13.00, but you can sometimes find these at Ross or TJMaxx for $7.00.

3)    Tramontina Tri-Ply Cookware – I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t an All-Clad girl, because I am, through and through.  However, thanks to a Cook’s Illustrated recommendation, I found a fantastic alternative to All-Clad that costs ¼ of the price.  Tramontina is a common value brand in stores, so look specifically for their “Tri-Ply” line.  It has an identical composition to All-Clad: stainless steel on the cooking surface, aluminum core (for heat conduction), and magnetized stainless steel on the outside.

This is the cookware I use in the commercial kitchen to make the baby food and it’s fantastic. There’s one catch.  It’s only (and I mean only) available at Wal-Mart.  There are two sets: an 8 piece for $149 and a 10 piece for $249.  Comparable All-Clad would be $800+ for the same pieces.

I could go on an on (because I have many more favorite kitchen gadgets), but these are my top three to start.  What are your favorite cooking items? Feel free to leave a comment on this blog, or visit the Little City Kitchen Co. Facebook page.

I know many of you have been asking about the Fall/Winter cooking class schedule, so here it is.  I have mostly Baby Food classes scheduled for the rest of this year since the Birth & Baby Fair is around the corner.  Shout out to my new subscribers that found me through the B&B Fair workshops.  I hope you’ll be able to join me for the hands-on cooking class at 3pm at the show.

And for all you adults, I did schedule a Holiday Appetizer class on Sunday, November 14th for those who are interested, and there more set for January as you’ll see.  Happy Cooking!

Sleep is Overrated…Right?

Sleep is overrated.  At least that’s what I keep telling myself after another few 2:30am nights.  Another roller coaster of a week filled with creative energy and more midnight brainstorming.

As you read about last week, I’m thrilled to have been selected to host a hands-on cooking class at the Birth & Baby Fair at Fort Mason on November 21st.  Instead of the two workshops I agreed to hold originally, I’ve decided to only do one.    With 1500-2000 attendees expected, I want to make sure I have ample time to interact (read: impress) all the people who come by the booth.

Which got me thinking…  What’s the best way to showcase my baby food at this venue?  The wheels in my head started turning that night and didn’t stop well until after 2:30am.

Came up with some really cool ideas (hint: think baby hors d’oeuvres on a platter, complete with a little spoon and a garnish).  Add to the mix a great brainstorming session with a friend – thanks Alex! – where I decided to create a Baby Food of the Month Club” among other things to sell at the show .  Black tradeshow tablecloth with my logo is on its way, my embroidered aprons arrived, things are moving right along…

Coming soon to a market near you

When can we buy the baby food?  That’s a common question for me these days.  I’ve decided to launch two baby food lines (one seasonal and one International) at farmers markets in January 2011.   Originally I was going to start off at the local Emeryville farmers market located ½ mile from my kitchen.  You know…start small, work out all the kinks, move up to a larger market after that…those who know me know that’s kinda my M.O.

And then I realized – that’s stupid!!  If someone asked me for advice in this situation, I’d tell them to find the best damn farmers market they could get into and just learn fast.  So that’s what I’ve decided to do.  I’m not really a “throw caution to the wind” sorta gal, but I think in this case I’d be foolish not to aim as high as I can.

So I’m “shopping” for the best farmers markets now…and if you’re in the Bay area, I’m open to your ideas.  Which farmers market do you think is the best one for me??

The Baby Taster Corner

I cannot believe that this is my fourth and final week of the Baby Taster meetings!  The Jewish-inspired potato latkes and the Cuban black beans with plantains were winners last week.  Score!  (I must confess, the black bean dish with some sour cream and lime in a tortilla was my dinner for two nights in a row).

These guys were such troopers…they took an hour every week to meet as a group and to discuss everything from my recipes, consistency, packaging, pricing, you name it.  I will forever be grateful for the time and support they have given me.   Thanks guys!

Next week: health permits and lots of marketing.  And definitely some sleep.

Hello Birth & Baby Fair…

It’s been such a crazy couple of weeks.  So busy in fact, that I even missed sending out last Friday’s blog.  Well, I assure you, I’ve been as busy as can be and have some exciting news to share..

I’m going to be hosting two hands-on cooking demos at the San Francisco Birth & Baby Fair on Sunday, November 21st.  This is one of the largest “baby” events in the city and draws nearly 2000 attendees.  This is a great event for any new or expectant parents out there, so help spread the word…about the event and my workshops.  The demo area is in the middle of the floor, so we’ll be the group proudly sporting the Little City Kitchen Co. black aprons.

I’ll be exhibiting there as well.  Hey, it looks like all those tradeshows I attended with Hilton are finally going to pay off!!  Those who know me well know that I am super-picky about my tabletops (my former hotel peeps may say borderline obsessive), so you better believe I’m going to have the coolest and most fun booth in the whole show.

Hello Home Office

I’ve been inspired to create an actual home office for myself (versus what I’ve come to call the “living room chair” office that I’ve been working with for four months now).  Why the sudden change you ask?  Well, that leads me to my second exciting piece of news…

My life coach and very dear friend, Alexis Robin of Nourish Life & Business Coaching, has been selected as 1 of only 10 life coaches to be featured in O Magazine! (Yup, that’s Oprah’s magazine).  IKEA and O Magazine are doing a joint project focused on improving your life by improving your living space.  Alexis will be speaking all about it at IKEA in Emeryville, CA on Sunday, November 7th from 2-3pm – come join if you can.

Alexis’s excitement for this project has spilled over and inspired me to (finally) create my own home office.  It’s taken a few trips to Office Depot and IKEA, but it’s looking good so far.  And honestly, I’m so much more motivated to work now that I’m surrounded by a nice space.  I guess that’s the point.

The Baby Taster Corner

The Baby Taster meetings have been everything I’ve hoped for; wonderful moms and kids giving very honest feedback!  The overwhelming favorite so far: Roasted sweet potatoes with coconut brown rice. I also made a Cuban-inspired black beans with roasted plantain, mango and cumin which seems to be a hit too.   Just finished a green pea and celery root puree for next week that was so yummy, I wish it were my dinner.  But alas, it’s not about me, I know…

I was watching my fav Cooking Channel show Foodcrafters yesterday and was reminded of a famous bakery quote which made me laugh:  In order to learn how to bake bread, you have to bake bread.

Well, that’s what I’m doing I guess…learning how to make killer baby food by making a BUNCH of baby food. I’m getting a much better handle on food quantity though, which is making the cooking much easier.   For instance, I now know that 2 lbs of dried red lentils = 6 baby cube trays + dinner for Jill.  I also know that even a pinch of cayenne pepper for 6 quarts of red lentils is too much spice!  Which means I’m eating a lot of lentils for dinner.

Errands and computer work by day, cooking by night.  What a crazy life?!?!