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Simplify Your Summer

This post is sponsored by Red Baron, but all opinions are my own. 

Remember when summer was relaxing? I do! It was seven years ago, before my first child was born, and subsequently removed from my life even the vaguest whisper of calm. Now what summer means is that I have to do all the stuff I have to do the rest of the year, except now I have two people right there with me all day, and they need me to not do anything except for devote all of my attention to them all of the time. 

And usually it’s more than just two kids, because we are The People With the Pool. I like this fact a whole lot, because it means that I don’t have to leave my house in order to socialize - when it’s 105 degrees out, humans have a tendency to go wherever the water is - but it also means that I have a LOT of children running around my house preeeeetty much every day during the summer. And sometimes the children get overstimulated and crazy and their parents drag them home around midafternoon, but other times they are wonderful and playing together so well that we agree that sure, let’s all have dinner together.

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Reader Recipes Are Back! (And I Would Really, Really Like Yours)

Me cooking and blogging, a looooong time ago in the old apartment

Since I'm busy reminiscing about cooking today: Those of you who've been reading here since way back when may remember that I used to make reader-submitted recipes on a fairly regular basis. They were a big part of the process of me figuring out how to cook, since they usually felt more accessible to me than recipes in cookbooks and such (and since I could just email the person who sent the recipe in if I had a question), and a few of them are still in regular rotation at our house, because they were just that good. (Most of them, obviously, are pasta.)

So: If you have a family-friendly - read: easy and non-fussy - dinner recipe that you particularly love and think I need to make...help a girl out? It doesn't have to be your personal recipe; just one that you love.

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A Little Life Milestone (Plus Creamy Chicken with Couscous, Bacon and Corn)

Remember when I started this site, and I didn't know how to cook, but pretended I did because I thought I was supposed to know how to do things if I was going to write about them? (I abandoned that ethos pretty quickly, but there was definitely a period when I authoritatively delivered tomato sauce recipes that included actual Prego - which I still enjoy as its own thing, because come on, Prego is delicious, but no longer add to meat to make "homemade bolognese.") My meal repertoire at that point was mostly a rotation of roast chicken from a recipe I'd found in Allure in the '90s and Bertoli four-cheese tortellini with, yes, Prego.

But writing this site inspired me to do many, many (many many many) things I never would have done otherwise, and among them was learning my way around a kitchen. I don't consider myself a "food blogger," obviously - I consider myself a person who likes food, and writes about it, but who still has to solicit advice from Google and my next-door neighbor Alisa whenever I run into something tricky. And while I might make little adjustments to recipes (usually more salt, less pepper, because in my opinion pepper should be illegal) I wouldn't ever really presume to have improved upon an actual recipe written by an actual food person. I always assume, in other words, that everybody who has ever come up with and published a recipe is a better cook than I am, and I should probably sit down and listen.

And then, last night, this cool little thing happened: I found a recipe I wanted to make on The Kitchn, and as I was reading it I thought...hm. Some of this doesn't sound like it'll work quite right. 

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While You Were Sleeping

Among my children’s less-than-lovely qualities: they treat breakfast time as if they are sitting in a diner with a thirty-page menu, and I am their chef, server, and dishwasher (who is, of course, also tasked with getting them dressed and washed and brushed and out the door by 8:35 on the dot with whatever toy absolutely must be carried to school and then carried back home with me, because toys aren't allowed in school but no one seems to have internalized that fact).

One of them would like triple-berry pancakes with a side of bacon (extra crispy), and for the other only house-baked muffins and hand-churned cream will do (if you could just zest that fresh lemon real quick it'd be much appreciated, mama). And all of these things must be on the table right. Now. (I am kidding, obviously, but only a little. Seriously, they are SO SPECIFIC.)

I can't do it. NO ONE could do it.

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Hello, Gorgeous

This is cereal that tastes (and looks) like a s'more.

While I was in LA, four boxes the approximate size of small vehicles arrived on Francesca's doorstep. They were filled with cereal - specifically Post's new cereals, OREO® O’s, HONEY MAID® S’mores, NUTTER BUTTER®, and CHIPS AHOY!®, which I was taste-testing and photographing for a sponsored Instagram. (This post, despite all those legally-required ® symbols -  is not part of any campaign; it is organic content in the very purest of ways, as in I want to eat and look at and think about and roll around in these cereals every day, all of the time.)

Francesca was far less excited about the boxes than I was.