About this Site

This is my story.  It’s my outlet in a world completely governed by two painfully CUTE toddlers. The idea for this site was born out of an internal need that I felt driven to pursue.  It’s the journey of a food professional/food enthusiast who is profoundly inspired by motherhood.  I suppose it’s a way to mesh my passion for food with my passion for my babies.

This endeavor is my version of a scrapbook and recipe archive for my beloved children.  At our house, we cook a heck of a lot, making old favorites, experimenting and testing new recipes.  Little Epicure, in a sense, keeps me accountable through documenting at least some of the awesome goodness that comes from our kitchen.  Through my anecdotes, recipes, and reflections, my wish is that my daughter and son will get a sense of the woman that I really am.  Particularly who I am while they were young.  Does that make any sense?  At the very least, I want them to have a very personal family cookbook that is filled with my voice, emotion, humor and love.

Standard family chaos!

My hope is that by sharing my knowledge, keen interest, and most importantly, my enthusiasm for all-things-food, they will come to have their own appreciation for wholesome, local, nutritious, interesting, and decidedly delicious fare.  Alternatively, perhaps I can inspired you to try a new recipe, learn a tidbit, or just get a good laugh at the foibles of my mission to raise little epicures.

8 mos pregnant holding my baby girl of almost 10 mos.  Still confused as to how this happened!  Beautiful Mt. Hood in distance.

The idea for this site has been nagging at me since my first pregnancy.  With my subsequent pregnancy only couple months later (GULP), I was in utter shock for months.  The Divine One up above sure has a sense of humor.  My Irish twins (endearing term for two babies born less than one year apart) took every ounce of my being.  Not until my youngest turned one, did I feel like I could devote any time to refining my ideas.  Another year later (sigh), and finally, my vision for Little Epicure has a web presence.  Yippee!

Sometimes I want to kick myself for waiting this long to start “my project”.  As many of you know, little ones are all consuming.  “Me time” just didn’t exist for a very long time; a direct function of having babies so close together.  Regardless, this wee blog is my thing.  Us moms all need something of our own.  It keeps us sane.  A beautiful little pocket of cyberspace.  All.  My.  Own.

I’m humbled that you’re here and invite you to share in this experience.  This is my labor of love for my loves.  Here’s to delicious adventures while raising my little epicures.

 

Kate Margaret, exactly 2. Carter, exactly 1.
Kate Margaret, almost 3. Carter, almost 2.

The Evolution of This Food Obsessed Momma

It all started with my mom.  I grew up watching her captivate people with her cooking.  She was a fantastic cook and taught me the strong value of a home cooked meal and the impact on the family environment.  One of my most vivid memories of her cooking is rolling dough for tortillas; her strong arms pushing down rhythmically while Neil Diamond tunes filled the air.  Her best dishes were home cooked favorites and Mexican and Spanish specialties.  In retrospect, I can now see that one of her love languages was cooking for others.  Guess the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Through my college studies in Nutrition and Food Management, I was inspired on many levels.  Two instructors in particular were very dear to me: Mary Kelsey and Dr. Holmes.  For some reason, they took me under their wings and exposed me to a vast number of food opportunities.  They were staunch, strong women; an interesting mix of modern and traditional.  I SO envied their knowledge.  They were kind enough to drag me to professional meetings.  One time I even got to tag along to the IACP awards here in Portland (mid 1990s) –squee!  Before I knew it, I was shaking hands with Julia Child, umm, how amazing is that?!  They also taught the Cultural Aspects of Foods classes, hands-down my favorite.  One of these classes was particularly transformative. There was a 6-hour lab every week and the objective was to prepare a variety of dishes from specific cultures across the globe. I learned very quickly that culture and food are seemingly synonymous and the most delicious vehicle with which to learn about others.  My best girlfriends and I still talk about that class!  We’ve also labeled incredibly delicious finds as “Mary-Kelsey-good”  (inside joke Francie and Nhu!).  Through the confluence of my coursework, my mentors, and my exuberance as a young gal, I found the world of food and it’s many facets interesting and exciting.

Since my collegiate days, my palate has been my guide, I have made a commitment to cook as much as I can, read as much as I can, and generally immerse myself in all-things-food.  Formally, I have spent well over a decade working as a professional in the food industry with positions in product/culinary development, corporate nutrition, public/consumer relations, and marketing.

Nowadays, I’m no longer on the corporate ladder but on mommy-hiatus going on a couple years now.  I’m still that odd food obsessed gal, just now I’m a mom with a heightened sense of interest in the world of food and how it intersects with my wee ones.  My babies are my inspiration.  My mind is still constantly spinning with ideas for recipes…even mid diaper change…even while reading Dr. Seuss.  Abnormal?  Quite possibly.

Education: B.S. degree in Nutrition and Food Management (Business Option: Food Product Promotion and Development Emphasis), Oregon State University

M.B.A degree, George Fox University

Misc professional culinary courses through the years (most notably CIA Napa campus)

 

Two Wee Ones:  Irish Twins Omigosh

Upon the arrival of my second child, I took a leap of faith and decided to stay home with my two babies.  Literally: babies.  Plural: meaning TWO little beings.  See, I’m a mom of Irish Twins, which is a term of endearment for babies born less than one year apart.  51 weeks apart to be exact.  Ooopsie.  I remember a feeling of sheer panic when I brought my son home.  Thoughts raced through my head, “They’re both mine?  How was this allowed to happen?  Will I ever sleep again?  Calgon!!”

Not only was my son premature and afflicted with colic and reflux (not that I knew that at that time), but also my first baby was not yet walking nor talking.  How in the world was I going to manage?  Yep… one big oopsie.  The best darn oopsie in fact.  A blessing a millionfold.  Mind you, it took me a while before I could actually articulate the words, “I’m glad it worked out this way.”   The whole first year with two babies is still a bit of a blurrrr.  Times one hundred.

We’ve all come a long way. I’m much less dramatic about my Irish twins.  My Type A tendencies have softened a bit.  Kate Margaret and Carter are happy, healthy, beautiful, good-natured, AND full of joy at the grand ages of two and three.  They are so much more than Irish twins: best friends, pals, adversaries at times, partners in crime, birds of a feather, love bugs, mischief makers, double trouble, and angel babies.  I truly believe they have souls of gold.  They are the best parts of their daddy and momma all rolled up into diminutive beings with little potbellies.  Their lives are viewed through a lens filtered with their sibling.  They have never known life without each other.  I adore that.

Motherhood has altered every fiber of my being.  It’s just that simple.  Those little cherubs of mine have given me a sense of love beyond anything I’ve ever known and an understanding of what it means to be selfless.  There is nothing I wouldn’t sacrifice for them.  Period.  I won’t lie and tell you my life is perfect.  If my life were perfect, I would be skinny, tantrums wouldn’t exist (especially in public), a dream part-time job would exist, I would have a fabulous kitchen (heck, I’ll just take large), and my husband would ask me **on his own accord**, on a regular basis, if I needed some “me” time.  With that said, grateful doesn’t even begin to cover how I feel about my perfectly imperfect life.  Perfectly Imperfect.  And delicious.

 

Who are These Irish Twins?

Kate Margaret: Prideful big sis.  Adores all things girly: Princesses, tutus, and pink reign supreme.  Goes by Sissy & Buggy.  Favorite foods include mushrooms, ice cream and the general class of berries.   Detests butter.  In a long-term relationship with her giraffe lovey.  Adores sprinkles as they make most foods even better.  Empathetic, dramatic & creative.  Believes wholeheartedly that she’s a ballerina.  Particular like momma.  Demands an apron as she cooks.  Pure.

Delicate Kate Margaret at TWO
Just shy of THREE!

Carter: Bigger little brother.  All boy.  Thinks his “Thissy” lights the moon.  Choo-choo obsessed.  Loud.  Climbs everything in site.  Strong musicality.  Penchant for cupcakes and “boo-berries”.  Demands a candle lit for every dinner.  Extroverted.  Sensitive yet strong.  Gives random hugs to strangers in grocery stores.  Always stops to smell flowers.  Sings the Birthday song incessantly.  Blue eyes like Grandpa.  Goes by “Bra-Bra” (coined by sissy at age 12 months).  Happy-Go-Lucky.  Joy of our lives.

Full of life and oh so cool at ONE!
Just shy of TWO!

 

2010: Kate 2.5 years, Carter 1.5 years.
2011: Kate 3.5, Carter 2.5. What a difference a year makes!

 

My Philosophy & Encouraging the Palate

My babies are my best accomplishment ever, and I’m devoted to giving them nourishing food.  Eating well is a value that I hold dear for my family.  I’m not a fanatic, nor a radical, nor a purist.  I’m a practical mom who has implemented some strategic decisions that impact my family’s health and well-being.  Like many of you, I use natural and organic foods as much as I can, where it makes sense, and where it’s affordable.  I learned very quickly that it’s more expensive to stock my kitchen with natural and organic foods.  Significantly more.  Along the same lines, we have reduced our consumption of meats and purchase organic, natural, sustainable and local meats as much as possible.  Additionally, it just makes sense to minimize processed foods.  Truthfully, as a busy mom, there is no way to eliminate all processed foods unless you are making everything from scratch.  And if you’re doing that, well, I applaud you and frankly don’t know how you find the time!

Many times a homemade version of a food item is less expensive and healthier.  It just takes a little extra time and planning. For example, my kids love hash browns and pancakes.  Both items are a cinch to make, so why not save the moolah.  The BEST part is that you know exactly what is in your food!  No preservatives, colors, and random chemicals.  Don’t get me wrong, not all processed foods are evil.  And if you think that they are, then let me know how you plan to rid the toddler world of Goldfish crackers?! Not that I buy them regularly, but they are virtually everywhere we go.  Those orange little wonders have extinguished many a tantrum during grocery shopping trips.  Desperate means call for desperate measures, folks.  And yes, I have to do the grocery shopping with the kids en tow.  It bites.  Additionally, what would this world be without Nutella?  I’m certainly not giving that up.  And I don’t make my own puff pastry.  You get the picture, right?

For me it’s about balance.  To feed your kids well, you need to be armed with knowledge, time, and have both a shopping strategy/list and a meal/snack plan.  The most insidious constraint that I have is time.  Fortunately, I love cooking for my family.  The moral of the story is: I’m a work-in-progress-mom who does the best she can.  Sometimes I rock it.  Other times, not so much.

I do not have the magical elixir for raising little epicures.  As my babies grow, I already see the creeping effects of peer influences and marketers; they erode my efforts to encourage good eating habits.  Pft.  Even so, we parents are the best example for our children!  I really believe that most practical approach to raising children who enjoy and appreciate good, wholesome foods is by modeling the behavior for them.  No rocket science involved, I swear.  Eat what you want them to eat.  Enjoy your food.  Learn about foods and nutrition.  Talk about it.  Prepare it together.  Let them choose foods.  Eat together.  I’m a firm believer in the powerful nature of a family dinner!  Let kids get creative in the produce section.  Get excited.  It will rub off on them like magic, especially if you start while they are little.  Sure, it might take a while, maybe even years for some children (I’ve got one of those), but it WILL happen.  I know because the research told me so :)

There are numerous benefits to teaching kids about food and cooking.  It involves following directions and fine and gross motor skills, paramount to toddlers and preschoolers.  It also touches global culture, math, science, nutrition, social studies, art, nutrition, geography, history, music, and reading.  Very cool.  Encouraging my children’s palates is never forced.  Right now, I’ve got one highly picky eater who has the capacity to influence my good eater.  I’m constantly wondering WHY won’t she try new foods?  For Pete’s sake, she does have good “tasting genes”.  It’s disheartening.  The key, I believe, is to continue to exposure to new items and a positive attitude.

Puddletown is our Home

My kids are quite fortunate to call Portland, Oregon home.  The accolades over PDX have been piling up in the press lately.  Hailed as the epicenter for the sustainable food movement and one of the most exciting food towns in the country, Portland even has it’s own show highlighting the endearing eccentricities.  Seasonal food consumption is a way of life here.  It’s all about F.L.O.S.S.U. = fresh, local, organic, seasonal, sustainable, and unique.  We’re blessed with a vast bounty of agriculture to make our love affair with FLOSSU even possible.  Just go to a farmer’s market.  I dare you to NOT be inspired.  Impossible I tell ya.  Chefs and food artisans seem to be held to a higher standard here, which makes for no shortage of knock-your-socks-off restaurants.  Food is part of the Portland culture.  It even permeates city government.  Just one example is that they work to convert vacant lots into community gardens.

Between Dungeness crab, wild mushrooms, berries, hazelnuts, it’s my version of culinary heaven.  Aside from all the mouthwatering gems, Portland is equidistant to the beach and mountains and surrounded by storybook vistas, which, hello, includes wine country.  Don’t even get me started on the other liquid assets of this great city: microbrews, distilled spirits, coffee, tea, olive oils, and hand made sodas.

What does this mean for my wee ones?  Food adventures abound.  It means exposure to lots of tasty experiences.  Mom’s happy.  They’re happy.  It may be something as simple as visiting our favorite market where we’ll discuss the produce types and the kids each pick out a couple items.  A favorite outing was last fall, when we went to the coastal range to hunt for chanterelle mushrooms.  Kate still talks about it!  Another outing that now makes me laugh is when I schlepped them all over downtown Portland, lugging them in a red radio flyer wagon in search of the hippest food cart.  IN.  THE.  RAIN.   What is wrong with me?   So there you have it, the one downside to Portland is the relentless rain… which, by the way, is not optimal with small fries en tow.  Oh, and when I finally found the Korean taco vendor, my darlings refused to eat.  Ugh.

This momma is just trying to nourish the minds, bodies and souls of her wee ones.  Sure I get very excited over peak-of-ripeness heirloom tomatoes, but doesn’t everyone?  All too soon, they will be teens rolling their eyeballs at me when I serve their friends kale chips.  Before that day comes, I will revel in the influence I have.  I hope they continue to always stop and smell the herbs.  It makes my heart melt, as I know that this seemingly innocuous action is a piece of me reflected in them.

And that’s my story.

2009 Double baptism. Carter 6 mos, Kate 18 mos.
2009: Carter 6 mos, Kate 18 mos.
2010: Kate 2.5 years, Carter 1.5 years.
Tulip festival 2009: Carter 3.5 mos, Kate 15 mos.
Tulip festival 2011: Carter, 2 years, 3 mos. Kate, 3 years, 3 mos.
Fall 2010: Kate 2.75 years, Carter 1.75 years.
Summer 2010: Kate 2.5 years, Carter 1.5 years.
2011: Carter’s 2nd birthday!
2011: One week after Carter’s birthday, Kate’s 3rd birthday!
Memorial Day, 2001. Almost 3.5 and 2.5.

Thank you for reading.  XO!

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