All online smelt recipes seem to involve breading or deep-frying the smelt, which is fine as a treat but not if I want to make it a quick, easy staple. So I decided to try pan-frying it, and it was delicious.

I fried some chopped garlic and chili pepper in olive oil, added the smelt, and covered the pan for a few minutes. Then I flipped the fish, added scallions, and covered the pan again. It was done very quickly, and the entire fish is edible (bones, scales, and head). I liked it but Nora didn’t, probably because of the chili pepper and because the bones and scales are still a little tough. So I’ll try the smelt in fish stew next time.



A very nice pipeline is developing, now that Nora is so agreeable about eating greens.

  • We cook meat or fish once or twice a week, refrigerate some leftovers, and stockpile freezer balls.
  • I make oatmeal for the entire week in one giant batch and store it in the refrigerator. We all eat from it for breakfast and lunch.
  • I soak and dehydrate walnuts as soon as we buy them, every few weeks or so.
  • I periodically steam and chop several days’ worth of greens for Nora, making freezer balls if there’s extra.
  • I plan on making a week’s worth of grains for the family at a time, now that we have the Instant Pot. We can rotate varieties as I learn how to prepare them (right now it’s rice and millet).
  • I plan on adding large pots of legume dishes to the mix, once I work out how to soak and prepare them. Legumes, like grains, are easy to cook in bulk.

The following are all refrigerator and freezer staples that Nora eats regularly:

  • eggs
  • yogurt
  • cheese
  • fresh fruit
  • avocado
  • bread

So for any given meal, Nora always has a protein, a grain, green veggies, fruit, and some finger foods. These are always on hand either in the refrigerator or as frozen freezer balls.

She joins us for family dinners and weekend meals when we can cook something relatively quick, and gets fed her own dinner first when we can’t.

Pork Meatloaf

I’m very impressed. My mom made pork meatloaf last week using Mark Bittman’s recipe (below), with 2lb pork, a giant onion instead of a small one, a giant carrot instead of a small one, and some extra greens. For spices, she used 1.5 tbsp soy sauce, 1/2 tsp cumin, salt, and pepper. She sauteed the vegetables very briefly.

It tasted like baozi filling and was nice and soft. Nora and her cousins all loved it. The quality of the pork, which she got from a meat market near my house, probably made a huge difference.

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Sprouted Almonds!

I was surprised – I soaked some Trader Joe’s raw almonds the same way I soaked the walnuts, an entire (4 cup) bag with plenty of water and with a tablespoon of salt. I was very surprised that perhaps 7 or 8 hours later, the almonds had actually started sprouting. (Recipes for sprouting call for a pinch of salt, not a tablespoon!)

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Nora seemed a bit constipated today. To be honest, I’ve already forgotten the details of what she ate yesterday. She ate eggs, spinach, oatmeal, yogurt, kefir, meatloaf, beets, fish, lentils, blueberries, and apriums, but I have no idea what might be causing the constipation.

So I’ll keep a food diary (and simplify the offerings!) to see if there’s a culprit.

Friday July 8th: small, hard, poops, some straining

  • Breakfast: sole; oatmeal with yogurt, kefir, and walnuts; spinach with avocado.
  • Lunch: sole; spinach; avocado; blueberries

Aaaaaand she had a big poop after lunch and all was good. I lost track after that. I suspect the spinach was what did the trick, but I really can’t be sure.

She was constipated again over the weekend after a bunch of restaurant meals, but it’s hard to pinpoint a culprit other than (perhaps) not enough veggies.

The New Entrees

Since resolving to eat more Weston A. Price-ish (baby steps!), I’ve offered Nora lamb stew in bone broth (with carrots, onions, potatoes, and peas) and meatloaf made with grassfed beef (with spinach, onions, carrot, garlic, and conventional matzo meal), both of which she loved. She also loves yogurt mixed with kefir, but doesn’t like kefir alone (this is sour and effervescent kefir from a farmer’s market with a distinctly fermented taste, not the Trader Joe’s kefir that basically tastes like yogurt).

She seems to tolerate soaked walnuts cooked in oatmeal without an allergic reaction. (I soaked the walnuts in salt water for 7 hours and dehydrated them.) The soaked oatmeal (soaked with 1 cup water and 2 tbsp yogurt overnight) tasted fine to me, but Nora still won’t eat it unless it’s mixed with yogurt.

I don’t recall whether I gave Nora the soaked millet. I’m still on the fence about whether to give her grains and how much, especially since I’ve been reading that soaking the oatmeal doesn’t actually accomplish anything. More research is needed.

The only thing Nora rejected this week was a tempeh and greens stir-fry in bone broth with conventionally prepared brown rice. I tried adding more bone broth to make it more palatable, but she still didn’t like it. I have not yet gotten her to eat tempeh in any form. I suppose it might be a texture issue. In hindsight, I wish I hadn’t added the rice, since that might have confused the issue.

On the veggie-and-fat front, she ate steamed kale mixed with avocado, steamed beets mixed with yogurt, and a poached egg on a bed of greens with lamb bone broth. She’s eaten cabbage with avocado and broccoli with egg in the past as well, but I still don’t know how to get her to eat veggies without mashing them into avocado, yogurt, or egg. Once I source some high-quality butter or ghee, I’ll see if fat alone also works, or if it’s the creamy texture she craves.

Nora was lukewarm about beets mashed into fried egg, even though she was fine with beets mashed into yogurt. It’s probably a texture thing, perhaps even specific to that particular egg. Given how sweet beets are, I’m surprised they’ve been such a tough sell.

The Original Favorites

Nora, at 9 1/2 months, is quite a good little eater. But there are some things that she loves instantly, and some that she rejects. I started rethinking how I cook and reading up on nutrition when, at about 8 months, I realized how much she loved the following:

  • restaurant dim sum
  • restaurant Pad Thai
  • chicken and matzo ball soup
  • hamburger mixed with avocado
  • black cod
  • eggs

And she rejected the following vegetarian staples from our kitchen:

  • crumbled, pan-fried tempeh with whole wheat pasta
  • udon noodles with tofu and seaweed in miso soup
  • lentil stew
  • steamed broccoli

Eventually, we realized that the common denominator was fat and moisture. She’s actually pretty good with lumpy or irregular textures, but she tends to strongly reject lowfat cooking (aside from fresh fruit and bread, which she loves to feed herself).

Once we made that discovery, concoctions like these gained ready acceptance

  • steel-cut oatmeal with plain, full-fat yogurt
  • steamed kale, minced and mashed into avocado

Once I started thinking about it, it made sense. Breast milk is rich and nutrient-dense. Why on earth should I be feeding a baby diet food? So here I am, trying to rework family staples and add new items to the repertoire, in order that we can all eat together and eat well.

Breaking the Ice

The first words are always the hardest.

I arrive at this blog with more questions than answers. The big question is simple: How should I feed my family? My 9-month old daughter loves meat, my husband is perfectly happy as a vegetarian but willing to eat what the family eats, and my mother who is helping with childcare has Type 1 Diabetes and deserves good breakfasts and lunches. I want to shop and cook for the family in a way that is tasty, meets everyone’s needs, and is environmentally and ethically sustainable, yet doesn’t break the bank or become a full-time job.

The road to learning to cook in the first place was long and torturous. My Chinese grandmother cooked delicious meals for my entire family while I was growing up. I spent my twenties and half my thirties subsisting on takeout, restaurant food, and packaged, processed, junk. Respiratory allergies eventually caught up with me, and I was forced to learn how to cook in order to take charge of my health. In 2011, I met my now-husband Jeremy, and a vegetarian lifestyle became a big part of our shared lives. We cooked our way through a CSA box, shopped at farmer’s markets, and started a sourdough culture that’s been alive for four years and counting.

When I became pregnant, I started eating fish and meat again, but in fairly modest quantities, usually in restaurants where the vegetarian options seemed too cheese-laden to be particularly healthy. I considered this a temporary measure, as it went against my ethics of avoiding factory-farmed meat. What I wanted to do was buy humanely raised, grass-finished and pastured meat and prepare it myself, but that felt daunting at the time. So I did what I could, but didn’t aim for perfection.

Now that my daughter Nora is nine months old, I’m a bit less overwhelmed and a bit more willing to invest in shopping for high-quality fish and meat and preparing it myself. I’m also reading up a storm. This blog will chronicle both my findings, and my family’s meals.