Favorite things

On the third floor of the Petersen Automotive Museum

At the Petersen 1
The third floor of the Petersen Automotive Museum is for kids. This mural is just the right size to pretend to drive a Hot Wheels car along, and it is conveniently located near the Hot Wheels check out desk. (Which also happens to be the Pine Wood Derby car check out desk and the marble track check out desk, too.) You can race cars down big tracks and play with trucks on a big rug. You can also sit on a some real vehicles.
At the Petersen 2
Including a real Indy Car.

Our favorite salad dressing

Salad dressing 3

If we serve you salad at our house, chances are good that this is the dressing that will be on it. It’s basically the dressing from this Endive and Apple Salad recipe on Epicurious.

Our favorite salad dressing

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon minced shallot
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Shake together in a mason jar. This amount of dressing lasts for at least four salads in our house. We store the extra in the refrigerator and, since olive oil solidifies in the fridge, we thaw it out each time in a bowl of warm water while assembling the salad.

At home

Tea kettle

My mom bought me this copper tea kettle years ago for my birthday. It was such a special gift, and it has always just felt right. The whistle is softer than other tea kettles and round and loud at the same time. It sounds the way a tea kettle should sound. It’s easy to keep clean with copper polish if you use it regularly, but I like the patina the copper gets over time. I like the warm color and its curved silhouette on my black and white stove. I’ve had it for more than a decade — since long before I met Gavin — but I still love to see it and touch it and use it every day. It’s one of those things that makes moving easier, because when I see it on the stove top, I feel at home.

Dinner: A Love Story and Child of Mine

Dinner: A Love Story
Dinner: A Love Story is one of my very favorite cookbooks. The stories, tips and pictures make it really readable, and the recipes that fit different stages of family life are GOOD. The pork shoulder ragu recipe is my absolute favorite. The first time I made it, I served it up, took a bite, and saw that everyone else at the table–including my toddler who usually waits for me to feed him–had already tucked in and were eating with focus. People hardly talked until we were about halfway through our bowls. A couple of our other favorites are bean burritos with pickled onions and grilled peaches, which taste like peach pie without the crust.

One of the most helpful books I read about feeding babies and kids was Ellyn Satter’s Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense. Satter is a nutritionist, and after Child of Mine she wrote a cookbook to show people what she meant by family meals — recipes people could easily cook and serve that they would enjoy and that kids could enjoy, too. I enjoyed reading it and sampling some of the recipes, but I think Dinner: A Love Story makes the best companion book for Child of Mine that I’ve come across so far. They could pair well to make a great baby shower gift  (along with some frozen pork ragu).

Audible

Audible 2

Audible was one of my favorite things during my first year of parenting. I’ve had a subscription for years, and it is still one of my favorite things, but during that first year, I wanted to be paying attention to my baby. I didn’t want to be looking at a smart phone or a screen constantly, but the days were long and I also needed food for my brain. We listened to a lot of audiobooks that first year. I don’t lean on audiobooks as heavily now that my son is a toddler and he’s more tuned into (and has preferences about) what is playing in the background. These days I mostly use them for long car drives, but they are still one of my great pleasures in life.

Gavin and I like to listen to audiobooks together, and some of our favorite audio books over the years have been the Terry Prachett novels narrated by Stephen Briggs, especially Going Postal, Making Money and The Wee Free Men. I also loved The Help by Kathryn Stockett, Tina Fey’s Bossypants, Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, and Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear. I read Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle in book format, but Gavin is listening to the audiobooks, and they are quite a ride, particularly if you like very, very long rip-roaring adventures (over 100 hours), and you can be patient for the first 14 hours — or about a single normal book’s worth of pages if you are reading — while you wait for it to get exciting. Maybe I’m not selling that one properly — what I’m trying to say is that it was worth it. I got into those during a stretch when my son would nap best if I was lying in the bedroom with him, and I was reading up a storm during those naps, so I was looking for a lot of bang for my buck when buying books. They’re less of a bargain on Audible, because what is sold as three paper books is broken up into seven normally priced audiobooks. Still, if you like long stories, historical fiction and adventure on the high seas, these are about as exciting as it gets.