Posts Tagged ‘family’

Holiday Family Favorites in Washington, DC

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

One of the great things about growing up in Washington, DC, is the wealth of activities to enjoy — and the holiday season is no exception. Here are just a couple of our upcoming favorite activities, and corresponding dining suggestions too.

Trains at the Botanic Garden

Little boys seem genetically predisposed to love trains, but my son literally has it in his blood: his great-grandfather started a short line railroad in Maryland. There are many, many different train displays (and rides with Santa) around town this time of year, but our favorite is the one at the U.S. Botanic Garden. The holiday greenery on display is impressive itself, and there are replicas of DC landmarks made entirely of plant-based materials. You can also walk out front and catch a view of the Capitol Christmas tree. (And if you head further down the mall, there’s a model train that runs beneath the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse.)

Where to Eat: The Botanic Garden is just across the street from the Museum of the American Indian, where the cafe offers native foods from across the Western Hemisphere. Or, head up Pennsylvania Ave. for burgers and shakes from Good Stuff Eatery (yes, Chef Spike’s place for you Top Chef fans).

Water-Skiing Santa at National Harbor

Yes, really. Santa, his reindeer, elves, Frosty the Snowman, the Grinch and even some pandas perform on the Potomac each year on Christmas Eve (1 pm). The show moved over to National Harbor a couple years ago, which lacks the cool backdrop of the monuments but has significantly more parking than the prior location. You could even take the Water Taxi over from Old Town Alexandria.

Where to Eat: We haven’t explored many of the dining options at National Harbor, which mainly caters to convention/tourist crowds. But you can’t go wrong warming up with chowder at McCormick & Schmick’s. There’s also an Elevation Burger there, which we love for their grassfed beef and real cheese.


Merriment in Georgetown

Picturesque Georgetown is especially charming this time of year. And this Sunday, Dec. 5, 2-5pm, is “Merriment in Georgetown” — There will be a performance by Milkshake, American Girl book signing, hot cocoa tastings, photo opps with Santa and more. Kids can even decorate cupcakes with Georgetown Cupcake.

Where to Eat: Georgetown is known for its college bars, but there are a few family-friendly options too. Clyde’s is always a safe bet; a small local chain that was sourcing local foods even before doing so was trendy. They have a solid kids menu, and free toy vehicles. Not too far away at Dupont Circle is Firefly, where Chef (and dad) Danny Bortnick takes pride in his kids menu options, which are divided into big kid and “lil’ kid” offerings. (And, they’re serving a latke tasting trio now through December 9.)

And lastly, don’t miss Zoo Lights at the National Zoo — now through January 1. It’s free!

Nature and Nurture

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Earlier this year, we took a family vacation to Florida. The boy and I went down a few days ahead of the husband and spent some quality time touristing with my mom. At the time, all of my grandparents lived in the Tampa Bay area so we’ve visited quite a few times over the years. One of our favorite outings is to the kitschy Greek village of Tarpon Springs, and this year my mom and I took the boy on a tour boat ride that stopped at a little barrier island in the Gulf. We had twenty minutes to walk and wade around the island, and while we began looking for shells my mom soon wandered off on a mission. As we headed back towards the boat, she reappeared with two plastic bags full of discarded bottles. I couldn’t help but laugh to realize my “green” genes were clearly hereditary.

Grandmom shows him a horseshoe crab

Grandmom shows him a horseshoe crab

Throughout my childhood, my mom sought to instill a sense of wonder and responsibility about our environment. We went on hiking trips, homeschool nature camps, annual camping trips, and more. Each summer, her parents, my grandparents, spent a month with us and these outings became even more fun, as we went to wild bird sanctuaries and learned to identify various plants. My granddad had, in a past life, made maps for the U.S. Geological Survey, so he was a willing explorer. My grandmother was never without binoculars and a bird guide, although she could identify many species simply by sound. She loved owls in particular, and after our last visit my son and I happened across a metal owl sculpture in our neighborhood antique shop. He remembered looking at the owls at Great Grandmom’s house, so I agreed to buy this one for our house.

storytime with Great Grandmom D.

storytime with Great Grandmom D.

My grandmother passed away this week. I’m grateful that my son was able to meet her, and reminded of how much I have to teach him.

My grandmother was a life-long supporter of the Audubon Society. As I explored their website, I came across this great kids’ page.

Love is Pasta. And Cream. And Garlic.

Monday, October 19th, 2009

So last week was our blogiversary here at Foodie Tots (2 years!), and my husband’s and my anniversary (7 years!) as well. Ironic, since this blog may just lead to the end of my marriage… Okay, I kid, but here’s a true quote from my husband just the other day: “Why do you have to keep trying new things? I don’t like new things. I like the same things.” Okay, so it’s safe to say he didn’t appreciate my chicken quinoa soup, but one of those same old recipes he does enjoy is penne alla vodka. It’s also the boy’s favorite at our neighborhood pasta place, but in typical three-year-old finickiness he declared mine was NOT the same. Oh well, more for his dad, who did appreciate this family anniversary meal.

Recipe: Penne Alla Vodka

  • 12 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 box penne

Instructions: Cook penne according to package instructions, subtracting 1 minute from cooking time. While pasta cooks, heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium low heat. Cook garlic until soft and translucent, being careful not to let it brown. Add vodka and cook 1 minute. Add cream and heat to medium, stirring frequently, until it just begins to boil. Boil 1 minute, until cream starts to thicken. Stir in tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer for several minutes. When pasta finishes, drain and fold into the sauce., cooking 1 additional minute. Serves 4. Enjoy!

Farms of Origin:

  • garlic & string beans, Potomac Vegetable Farms CSA (VA)
  • organic cream, Trickling Springs Creamery (PA)

this is our Meatless Monday recipe of the week. — another one of those “new ideas” the husband is skeptical about. follow along as I attempt to discover meatless meals that won’t make him groan. take the Meatless Monday pledge and you can get weekly e-mails with recipes and advice.

One Local Summer, A Family Affair

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

one local summer 2009This past week we’ve enjoyed a visit from family — my two siblings, sister-in-law, niece, father and father-in-law, a family reunion with five of my dad’s six siblings to celebrate my uncle’s retirement from the Navy, and my son’s third birthday party. Of course, food is always the focal point of our (semi-)Italian family’s gatherings, and while we may not have had an entirely local meal, we had local ingredients in every meal.

foodie cousins at del ray farmers market

The night my family arrived we ate at my aunt & uncle’s, enjoying the fruits of their garden while the cousins admired their chicken tree and beehives. First thing Saturday morning, the boy and I cooked up black & blueberry muffins, made with Pequea Valley yogurt, for breakfast before taking the fam to the market. The boy led his cousin straight to Vera’s for fresh-squeezed orange juice before introducing her to Tom the Cheese Guy (aka Mr. Tom) and sharing his slice of cheese.

At the family pool party we had a salad grown in my aunt & uncle’s garden, corn on the cob we brought from Three Way Farm, and a peach cobbler that my brother and sister-in-law prepared with Toigo peaches. The same brother and sister-in-law brought some home-grown cherry tomatoes from their Alabama garden, which we snacked on like candy over the weekend. Cherry tomatoes and Tom’s horseradish cheddar made a spicy version of the typical tomato-basil-mozzarella salad to enliven a take-out meal after the birthday party. And my son’s birthday cake, with its Swiss meringue buttercream, made good use of our local cage-free eggs.

To top it all off, my brother and sister-in-law brought a basket full of jams and salsas, put up themselves, a set of organic yogurt starters and the Local Flavors cookbook as my birthday present. Can you imagine anything more appropriate? (Thanks J & H!)

One Local Summer is an annual challenge in which people around the world join together for 13 weeks of seasonal eating, supporting local farmers and exploring their local foodsheds. Visit FarmtoPhilly on Tuesdays for the weekly round-up; here’s what my neighbors in the Southern region cooked up this week.

Holiday Treats with Pamela of Red, White & Grew

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

The next foodie parent I’m pleased to feature in our holiday treats series is Pamela Price of Red, White & Grew. She writes about growing her own food and the revival of the Victory Garden, and is a proponent of the “Eat the View” campaign which is advocating for the Obama family to plant an edible garden on the White House lawn. As someone who has yet to keep a plant alive other than herbs, I enjoy reading Pamela’s blog for inspiration and hope you will too!  Pamela has a two-year-old son, known on the web as “Tater Tot,” and writes to us from Central Texas.

What was your first cooking experience?

Oh, golly. I remember sugar cookies pretty vividly. My mom collects cookie cutters, so that was always big at major holidays. I remember cutting out cookies at 3 or 4, I think.

There’s a photo in my baby book of me with apples and a pan of flour in our garage. I must have been almost a year old. There’s a black cat in the picture, too. He was my sous chef! Unfortunately, I can’t get the picture to budge from my baby book, but I did locate this later photo of me “cooking” at age two. I’m not sure if the basketball was an ingredient, a utensil or just for decoration

What is your greatest challenge in cooking for your son?

Keeping it interesting. When he was a baby–and before I started working again, every day seemed open to culinary adventure. Now I feel like I’m lucky if I can keep a running tally of his week’s worth of veggies, using colors as my guide. Have we had enough orange? Enough green? What about blue?

What is your son’s favorite dish?

For breakfast, it’s eggs with a bit of garden-fresh swiss chard. For dinner, he likes broccoli steamed with a bit of lemon juice and garlic–though I’ve neglected making that of late. Unfortunately, he inherited my sweet tooth. Ack! He loves organic raisins mixed with a few semi-sweet chocolate morsels–not too awful, I guess.

Is there any food your son just will not eat?


What is your family’s favorite holiday treat?

Classic middle-class, all-American holiday goodies: sausage balls, cheese balls, Chex Mix, sugar cookies…stuff like that. I have a secret family recipe for pound cake that my mother made me swear we’d keep in the family! I like to make mini-cakes and give them to friends.

When we lived in Louisiana, I used to make steamed shrimp (from Tony’s Seafood in Baton Rouge) for New Year’s Eve. I miss those shrimp (and Tony’s!).

Pamela also shares with us her blog’s official muffin recipe, which I look forward to trying with some of my freezer stash of blueberries (my son’s favorite food) and zucchini.

Red, White & GREW-berry Muffins
By Pamela Price, (reprinted by permission)

  • 1 C. sugar
  • 3/4 C. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 C. canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 C. grated zucchini
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 & 1/2 C. oat bran (or substitute with oatmeal pulsed in food processor)
  • 1 & 1/2 C. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 C. blueberries (fresh or frozen)
Instructions: Mix sugar through vanilla in a bowl. Add remaining ingredients, except blueberries. Mix well. Add berries. Scoop into lined muffin tins (I use a 2 T. coffee scoop). Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and enjoy.

Thanks so much, Pamela, for sharing with us!
Photos by Pamela Price,, used by permission.