Finding Out I’m Not German, Just in Time for Oktoberfest

“You are German…you hail from the Motherland…we’re not exactly sure where or when, but the name was Americanized and you are German.”

sanford-oktoberfest-16

So I believed until a few months ago. Knowing our heritage and embracing it was very important to my late father, even though, as far as I know, he never did any genealogy work. Whether or not he had a choice in where he was stationed, I have no idea, but Continue reading

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Lemon Curd Cream Pie with Fresh Strawberries

I just returned from a visit to Ireland, and now I have strawberries front and center on the brain.

I’ll be sharing more about my trip in other posts, but while there, we visited some lovely food suppliers in County Wexford, including Danescastle Fruit Farm. Wexford is known for its glorious strawberries, and now I know why. Delicious, juicy, and red through and through, this was some of the best fruit I’ve ever tasted, right off the vine.

A Glorious County Wexford Strawberry

A Glorious County Wexford Strawberry

But…back to reality. I know, I know. Here in Florida, strawberry season is at an end. But if you happen to be some place where you can get gorgeous strawberries — or even if you’re dreaming of the next time strawberry season rolls around — you may enjoy having this one in your recipe box. But keep in mind also that lemon goes with so many other flavors. So feel free to substitute any type of berry. Blueberries would be especially terrific and visually striking. Continue reading

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Oatmeal o’ the Week: Banana Chocolate

Happy Wednesday Thursday!  How is it already Wednesday Thursday and I haven’t talked about food yet?

(Well, for one…because this post was supposed to go up yesterday.  But it clearly didn’t.)

In this iteration of my blogginess, I envision sharing with you many blogs that are parts of series.  One series that I’d like to do is an oatmeal o’ the week.  I figure we all need to get some good soluble fiber into the old diet, but oatmeal can be so…dreadfully….boring.  Either that, or it’s so tasteless that you heap cupfuls of sugar on top.  So, just in case you need a little inspiration to make your oatmeal taste less like duty (ohh you!  you know what I mean) and more like a treat, I’d like to give you some ideas.  This week, submitted for your approval:  Banana Chocolate Oatmeal.

Continue reading

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Oktoberfest Fehr-Family Style

Um, k….so “real” Oktoberfest ended a few weeks ago. And “real” Oktoberfest doesn’t celebrate the Fehr family at all; it commemorates King Ludwig I’s marriage to Therese of Bavaria. But if I can figure out a way to make a nice little ritual for my family, especially if it’s in the name of celebrating heritage, does it really matter if I bend the rules a little? There is plenty of time for history lessons later.

We are pretty consistent with this meal; and since it’s not the healthiest lowest-fat meal I make, we don’t have it often, so there isn’t a lot of room to improvise. It’s a shame, because there are a lot of delicious, comforting German dishes out there, and it would be fun to try something new.  Hmm…maybe our Oktoberfest needs to last more than one night…

Homemade applesauce ready to go

At any rate, we take this meal seriously, and every year, as late September spends itself, and the temperatures here in Florida cool to a chilly 85, our thoughts turn toward Continue reading

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Rick Bayless in O-Town

I came, I saw, I ate achiote seared shrimp with quick habenero pickled onions.

Today, Jeremiah and I had the pleasure and privilege to attend a cooking demonstration by Rick Bayless.  If you haven’t already read my last blog, or if you aren’t a fan of Top Chef (I’m not, but I understand he’s been featured on there), then I’ll give you a little background.  Bayless owns three restaurants in Chicago, all serving beautiful and lovingly crafted Mexican food.  As a young man, Bayless, who comes from a restaurant family, thought that he would leave the family business behind, favoring instead the study of Mexican culture and linguistics.  Then, one day, he woke up with the epiphany that the study of the culture was intertwined neatly with the thing he loved the most, the passion that was so much a part of him:  food.  At that point, his attention turned toward bringing the authentic tastes of Mexico to the United States.

And so, with humor and a wonderfully laid-back attitude that met each challenge with a smile and a witty comment, Chef Bayless discussed his latest book, Fiesta at Rick’s, demonstrated some wonderful recipes, and took questions from the audience.

To begin, Bayless provided some background on the book, answering the questions, Why this?  Why now?  Not surprisingly, Bayless says that people often ask for tips and recipes to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, or for their family “Mexican Fiesta.”  He also shared candidly that, more often than not, folks who say they own his books and love his books confess that their favorite recipes are – you guessed it – guacamole and margaritas.  All of this feedback made him think that there must be a legitimate desire for some good “Mexican food how-to,” a book that celebrates what he calls the fiesta spirit.  Now wait; don’t get out the sombrero and maracas just yet.  He’s not talking about, in his words, pulling out the blender to have a margarita party.  Well, at least that’s not all he’s talking about.  Rather, his fiesta spirit speaks more to the joy that comes from getting together with family and friends to hang out, to relax, to breathe.  To forget the worries and just enjoy life for a while.  That fiesta spirit inspired this book, as Chef Bayless takes us into his home, with beautiful pictures, and allows us to be a part of the camaraderie.

But back to the demo.

When we arrived, there were glass urns of a beautiful dark pink beverage set up at the back of the demo area. 

We were happy to be early, because from the looks of it, they were expecting Continue reading

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Chef Rick Bayless – Coming to a Macy’s Near Me

I love chefs.  Real chefs – not the “chefs” on TV these days that dump a brownie mix into a bowl, dress it up with canned pie filling, and call it dessert.  I love the men and women who lovingly craft amazing food, opening our eyes and mouths to new wonders, all while looking for the best, freshest, and most ecologically responsible foods to prepare.

Chef Rick Bayless is this kinda guy.

Jeremiah first introduced me to Rick Bayless years ago.  I can’t remember precisely when…but I do know that we were living in Vinings in Atlanta at the time, in our first apartment.  So it must have been at least nine years ago.  We made lots of recipes out of his book, Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen.  It was Rick that taught me how to make a mole, and all about the personalities of different dried chiles.  Rick sent us hunting through the markets in Atlanta for spices and chiles that, way back in the 90s, weren’t available in Winn-Dixie and Wal Mart.  Since then, I’ve watched his star grow brighter, and today, he is regarded as one of our country’s top chefs, and he is committed to teaching and sharing about healthy, sustainable, responsible food production.  I follow him on Twitter and receive his newsletter, and I am constantly challenged and excited about what he shares.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading his books or watching his show Mexico One Plate at a Time on PBS, I highly recommend it.  You don’t even need to like cooking…or even food for that matter.  Because above all, from the first time I read Bayless’s books, I was struck by his beautiful writing, and the passion that he conveys with every single word.  He loves what he does, and he make you want to love it, too.

I was over the moon when I found out that Chef Rick would be appearing right here, in Orlando, at a free cooking demonstration and book signing.  Since I’m trying to find my way around this great big social media world, I thought myself pretty hip to have come across the information on Twitter before my internet surfing, foodie husband learned of it.  Still, I was too late, and I missed the opportunity for seat reservations.  But owing to a problem with the toll free reservation line AND the uber-helpful folks at the Macy’s Culinary Council, I was able to get in at the last minute.  Thank you, thank you, Lauren at Be Everywhere!

So…if you’d like to come and stand and see one of the most amazing chefs that I’ve ever had the pleasure to follow, please come out and show Chef Rick some love tomorrow afternoon.  The demo will take place at 2pm, Sunday 17 October, at Macy’s at the Mall of Millenia, in the housewares department.  Tell ’em Brooke sent ya.🙂

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Attack of the Picky Two-Year Old

I originally wrote this piece in 2007 when my daughter, Elle, was two years old.  It’s one of my favorites, and I thought I’d share it with my new audience.  Happy reading!

Once upon a time, two foodies met and fell in love.  They celebrated milestones in fabulous restaurants and cooked together.  They planned their modest wedding around a sumptuous reception and towering wedding cake.  They journeyed to Paris for their honeymoon and ate their way around the City of Lights (they also walked a lot, too.)  And through it all, they dreamed of the future, a future full of little foodie children that would grow up loving food like they did.  These children would never eat canned vegetables or cowboy stew (don’t ask.)  They would love their veggies and foods prepared in all the ways of the world, because their fabulous parents would expose them to wonderful things.  And of course, after all of this amazing (and balanced) eating, the Foodie family would go out and be active and fit and trim and fabulous, and they would be happy and have clear skin.

And then, Elliette Savannah Fehr was born.

Elliette is our beautiful, enchanting girl, now 2 1/2 years old.  And guess what?  She’s not a foodie.

We know she’s ours.  Jeremiah saw them pull her out, and she has my dad’s eyes and her dad’s chin.  She can be grumpy and stubborn, too – further evidence that she’s ours.  But where food is concerned, we have serious doubts.

It all began when she was a baby.  Commensurate with the rosy picture that I had of motherhood and foodie parenthood, I planned to breastfeed.  It was a bona fide disaster.  Since I’m a buxom girl, Elle had a heck of a time latching on, and my milk production never increased.  At her 2 week check up when she hadn’t gained back to her birth weight, her pediatrician said we needed to supplement with formula.  I didn’t see the point in banging my head (or what have you) against a wall when I was formula-feeding anyway, so I discontinued breastfeeding.  The problem was, Elle wasn’t crazy about the formula, and never really took all that she needed.  It wasn’t until I introduced whole milk that she really started drinking milk well.

So, jump forward to table food.  Again, we had fantasies that she would “eat just what we ate.”  Perhaps mashed up or blended, perhaps a little less seasoned – but table food.  No dice.  We ended up buying all of the premade baby food that I swore I would never buy. 

We introduced her to our favorites.  First on the list – peaches!  She hated them.

Jump forward to present.  Elle is a finicky two-year old.  I can count the vegetables that she’ll eat on one hand:  broccoli (surprisingly), corn, pureed cauliflower (think fake mashed potatoes), sweet potato fries (baked or fried), tomato sauce.  For fruits, there are bananas, strawberries, blueberries, grapes.  She’ll lick an apple, but she won’t eat it.  I’m serious.  But there are also unpredictabilities about her favorites…for instance, she won’t often eat a favorite two days in a row.  Surprisingly, she loves things you wouldn’t expect – last nite, she ate marinated flank steak.  She also loves sausage of ANY kind.  I ask you, what picky kid do you know eats bratwurst?

We’ve had to lower our expectations.  We’ve had to expand our patience.  This little person is teaching us some good – and hard – life lessons.

On the up side, Elle is not a big fan of chicken fingers or nuggets, and french fries don’t get a lot of attention, either.  She does like pepperoni pizza, and I’m okay with that.  Our rule of thumb:  keep exposing her to different things, and don’t freak out when she doesn’t like something.

So, the next time you are tempted to judge a family who brings their two-year old’s meal with them, remember what you’ve read here. 

I’m off to make cheesy eggs and toast for a hungry little person.

Update:  Elle is now an extremely healthy, if somewhat slender, five-year old.  She has increased her spectrum of foods, and we no longer despair that somehow she was switched at birth.  She has also been joined by Jake, who, at the time of this writing, has never refused any food.  Ever.  (Well, except jarred baby food.  Looks like we may have a foodie this go ’round.)

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