A Bit of Kitchen Inspiration

by Laura on October 25, 2009

in Blog

I’m tired, exhausted, and overworked. The last thing I want to do is get back into the kitchen and cook. You know what I mean – I know I’m not alone.

But since I have to feed the family, I drag myself into the kitchen for what feels like the millionth time today. I want to do it quickly, without any distractions, without any added messes — and definitely, without any kids.

It seems as if I am living in the kitchen lately – making breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Cleaning up from breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Standing in the kitchen awaiting cleaning up the kitchen waiting for the next round of “I want a snack,” or a “What’s for dinner?”

I need a bit of inspiration; something that will boost my energy and my mindset. Inspiration that will help me overcome the way I’m feeling about feeding my family on a daily basis. I don’t always feel this way. But right now, that is where I’m at – so I feel I must look around me to find some inspiration.

Here is what I dug up:

My kids: I’ve four growing kids, so there is a constant need to fulfill their need for food, food, and more food. I get a brief reprieve with lunch three days a week, since they’re all at school, but the first thing out of their mouths when I pick them up is “I want a snack, what did you bring me?” Aside from their insatiable appetites, I feel pretty good about the food’s they eat – and like.

Sure, mealtime is not without its struggles (i.e. Not everyone likes the same foods), but for the most part, my kids are great eaters. And, certainly enjoying foods I didn’t have on my table when I was a kid. Keely asks for olive oil and pepper to dip her homemade French bread into. Nicole and Addie have a discussion about how tasty the risotto is. They all ask for freshly grated Parmigiano on their pasta, and Grayson makes me promise that I save some of the veggie and meatball soup so I can give it to him in his lunch at school tomorrow. All this gives me inspiration to keep on cooking.

My Mom:  She was here visiting recently, and it was like old home week. No sooner had Mom arrived that she found her way into the kitchen helping with meal preparation. I always enjoy the time spent with her in the kitchen, as I can pick up lots of tips and tricks for cooking – you know the little nuances that are written in between the lines of a recipe. (I’ve always ‘accused’ my mom of leaving something out of a recipe she has provided to me, because oftentimes my results just haven’t been as good as hers).

A great baker, she whipped up some family favorites while the kids were at school – she made strudel with our pears, date bars by the dozen, and Gobs galore. (recipes below) The entire family enjoyed her creations, and the time I spent with her in the kitchen while she visited, reminded me of how rewarding cooking and baking for the family truly can be.

My friends: As I try to come to grips with the fact I have to get into the kitchen again, I receive Facebook updates from friends of their latest kitchen creations. Jennifer just completed her pumpkin cake in Southern California. Tammy has been cooking up a storm in Akron, even grinding her own meat. Eric is making homemade bagels in Atlanta. Thanks for your inspiration – the pull from the kitchen is getting stronger.

My colleagues: I’ve been working on a variety of work projects, and in the process, have spoken with a lot of people who continue to inspire me. Sam Mogganam at BiRite Market talks about everything he is doing to build the community between those producers he buys from and those customers he serves.

Zak Zaidman at Kopali Organics reminds me that “every choice we make affects our well being, the lives of others and the future of our world.”

Chance Claxton who is co-founder of Kids Konserve, helped design and develop waste-free lunch and other reusable products. Her efforts are aimed at reducing the estimated 67 lbs of lunchtime trash each child generates per school year.

Then there is Betsy Rosenberg, a green media trailblazer, working to bring environmental content into mainstream radio. She is hoping to have one all-green program on national airwaves, on either mainstream radio or television stations, that provides environmental news and views we can all use. (Visit her Facebook Page to sign the petition).

Everywhere I look, I’m finding inspiration. So, as I soak up all this inspiration, I pick myself up, and take myself to the kitchen. Tired or not, feeding my family with great tasting healthy foods, then enjoying it with them, is really what this is all about.

Apple Strudel (or Pear)

(Grandma Marie’s recipe)

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup oleo (or butter)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1.2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp vinegar

1.  Mix as for pie dough.

2.  Chill several hours.

3.  Divide in three parts. Roll out and brush with melted butter. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Add apples (or pears), sugar, cinnamon and raisins to taste.

4.  Bake 350 degrees for 1 hour. Dust with powder sugar.

***See what I mean about having to read between the lines of the recipe.

Date Bars

(a Grandma Gorman favorite)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tsp vanilla


1.  Cream sugar and butter. Add beaten eggs. Add salt to flour. Add flour and salt alternately with water. Add chopped dates, nuts and vanilla.

2.  Put in 9X9 or 9X11 pan. Bake at 375 degrees until light brown (about 30-35 minutes). Remove from heat. Shake powdered sugar cool, cut into squares or sticks.


(A Rais Family Favorite)

  • ½ cup Crisco
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking sod
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsifted cocoa
  • ¾ cup boiling water
  • 1 cup buttermilk


1. Cream Crisco and sugar. Add eggs and beat. Add vanilla and beat.

2. Sift dry ingredients.

3. Alternately, add water and buttermilk to dry ingredients.

4. Refrigerate.

5. For large cookies, use a heaping tablespoon of dough. Bake at 350 for approximately 15 minutes.

Gobs Filling

  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup Crisco
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Cook 5 tablespoons flour and 1 cup milk until thick.

2. Beat in 1 cup Crisco and 1 cup butter. Beat well

3. Add 1 cup sugar, slowly

4. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla


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