Lemon breaded haddock and apple-cranberry pearl couscous

1/4c plus 2 tsp olive oil
1/4c lemon juice
1c bread crumbs
1 tsp salt
2 tsp garlic powder
Sprinkling of rosemary
1 tsp black pepper
2 lbs haddock

Put fish in a single layer on glass baking dishes. Mix other ingredients into a paste and press onto fish. Bake @ 350F for 25 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.

This turned our great! The black pepper was pretty peppery, omit or reduce for less bite. I actually set my oven for 400, because my new thermometer said that it was actually only 350 when set to 400. I want to calibrate the thermometer, but if that’s true it explains why my cookies take forever to bake and my crayon melting had to happen at 250.


1.5c cous cous
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion
1 cup apple cider
Water to cover
1 tsp salt
1 cinnamon stick
1 c craisins

Fry the onion, diced, in the oil. About two minutes in, add the cinnamon stick and cous. Toast the cous for 2-3 minutes, until it starts to brown. Before it burns, add 1c of cider and enough water to cover. Cook 10m or so, until the cous has absorbed most of the water.

This was a big hit, but that’s no surprise as it’s a variant on a fall staple and quite sweet.

I served the two of these together with green peas, which worked well.

MIT Hackathon: Make the Breast Pump Not Suck

I was lucky enough to get to attend the MIT “Make the Breast Pump Not Suck” Hackathon this last weekend.  It was a great experience: I’ve never been to a hackathon before, and while I hear that this wasn’t quite a typical experience (one attendee commented that this group was 40% men, 40% women, and 20% babies, and it was totally true—there were tons of babies and toddlers and even a handful of older kids).  The format was pretty neat: they had some inspirational speakers who talked about why this is a big issue and an important problem to solve, and about the biggest issues with current pumps.  They also had thousands of comments from users printed out, which they color-coded by issue and posted on the wall so everyone could read them, visually classify the problems, and get inspiration.   After the inspirational talks, 18 people (including me) gave “rocket pitches”, and then we organically formed teams over lunch, combining ideas and making teams with diverse backgrounds and skill sets.  We ended up with a team of 12: users (and spouses), educators, designers, educators, and engineers (some with no previous exposure to breast pumps or lactation), which made for enthusiastic discussions and experience sharing.

It was really a whirlwind experience, since the official event was 10-6 Saturday and Sunday (already only 16 hours) and the first two and last two were occupied with talks and final pitches/judging.  We made a video to explain our idea and the inspiration behind it, and I enjoyed the experience of video editing with iMovie in the 15 minutes before the deadline.  It was completely insane, but it was also awesome to do ten little clips (all but two of them in a single take!) and be able to email them to each other, pull them into iMovie, and sort them into order with little title cards to make a (low-budget but) awesome pitch.  I *do* wish I’d had a few more minutes to fix the spelling errors…

We actually ended up pitching several related ideas: the Mighty Mom Utility Belt itself, the ZipTube, and the sensors for smartphone data collection and feedback.  We got the bottle level optical sensor working in a demo (narrated by me, because we were really not sure whether you could hear the pump well in the video—you totally can, those things are loud), and got a prototype of the belt itself:

My sewing skills could totally use some work, and my sewing machine badly needs service, but I got this made in about two hours after I got home on Saturday night and helped put the kids to bed.  I’m pretty pleased with that!

The other cool product our team created is the ZipTube.  One big problem with a wearable pump is how to get the milk away from the breasts so it can be stored.  We went round and round with a variety of ideas, searching existing products for inspiration.  The Freemie solves this by *not* moving the milk—it’s stored at the breast—but that has some obvious drawbacks, particularly with overflow. Tubing to get the milk away from the chest is obnoxious, though, because it has to be cleaned—and anyone who has cleaned a breast pump and all its little parts, or a bottle, or a sippy cup knows that milk is *really* sticky.  Two of our members were inspired to make the tubing cleanable, and made a prototype zip-open tube with a soldering iron and ziploc bags.  It’s so crazy, it just might work.  Better materials are needed so it can be dishwasher or sanitizer-safe, but it fixes a lot of the issues that have limited innovation in the pump industry.

I actually didn’t stay through the end of the presentations, because it was dinnertime for kids (and me!) so it was a total surprise when our de-facto team leader, Erin (who cleverly collected all our email addresses and without whom we totally would not have gotten nearly as much done) sent us mail that we’d won! (In fact, only about a third of our team was able to stay through the end, and the first comment to the “we won” email was “won which?” since there were some audience favorite categories, and that would have made sense since our video, I think, is pretty funny.)

The experience since the hackathon has been unreal.  Tons of media have been interested in talking to us, and several of our members have been interviewed (including me! I’m quoted in the New Yorker!) by local and national publications.  We’re not sure what happens now—part of the prize is that two of us get to go to California to pitch the product to VCs, so we need to figure out who goes and what exactly we’re pitching.  Even if I don’t get to do anything else on this project (and I expect to help improve our prototype before someone goes to California—we reserved some of our prize money for parts to make it a better demo) I’m so pleased that this topic is getting press and thought-hours!

Recycled crayons

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I bought silicone moulds to recycle crayons. I’ve been learning a lot, mostly that they need to be all the way full or the resulting crayons will break too easily—often while being unmoulded. This is an easy craft project, though, and kid-friendly, since artistically arranging the crayon bits is safe for anyone old enough not to eat them. They take about 15 minutes to melt in the oven at 250F (200 melted many but not all brands of crayons).
I’m not going to be able to reuse these moulds for food, which is too bad—not all the pigment comes off cleanly.
I’ll have to get separate ones for chocolates, and keep these for crafts. I bet they’d work great for clay or soap.

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Tortillas

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We usually don’t buy breads. We keep a sourdough starter (although we need to restart Herman from a save point, as we neglected him during the Month Of Travel), and prefer to make our own, with a very short list of exceptions: bagels, tortillas, and English muffins. I’m not going to start making my own bagels any time soon, but apparently tortillas can come off that list, because they are easy!

I had promised the Little Baker black bean tacos for dinner, because B made us four dry cups of apple cider black beans on Sunday and there were a lot left. Half an hour before dinner time, as I was heating everything, I discovered that the package of tortillas I had found in the fridge was open—and had two, not six, left. New plan required.

Some quick searching led me to this recipe which looked pretty reasonable given that my backup plan was serving bagels.

They turned out beautiful! Dividing the recipe into 16 makes little taco-sized tortillas (6″, depending on how good you are at rolling balls into circles—I am rolling pin challenged, so mine are weird shaped) so I might only cut it into 8 for “normal” tortillas—which would also help them get eaten up faster, as the recipe says they only last 24h even if refrigerated.

The dough was pretty sticky, but no fuss at all with the mixer’s dough hook:

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Rolling isn’t my strong point, but it wasn’t hard to roll these as long as I kept the pin and board floured:

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The cast iron pan was perfect for this!

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GF DF Mocha Cookies

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I made the Mocha Cookies from the Gourmet cookie book for a party the other day. I’ll post about that batch separately, eventually, because it was a good learning experience. But I was inspired to modify the recipe to make a GF DF version for my allergenic and dietarily-restricted friends.

I started with Sirius chocolate: The 70%, naturally 🙂 and melted it with Enjoy Life chocolate chips, because everything else at Whole Wallet had “processed with milk” or “may contain traces of milk”. Not good enough!

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I used olive oil instead of the melted butter, and used GF all purpose flour, normal salt and baking soda.

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I beat together the eggs and sugar, then added the espresso powder and the melted chocolate and warm oil.  (Remember, kids, hot things look just like cold things, but the bowl from the double boiler is a Hot Thing.)
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Then the GF flour mixture, and the conveniently sized other bag of chocolate chips (exactly 1.5c!)

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The instructions said to let the batter stand for 15m, so I did, and then I put just one sheet in to bake rather than my usual 2.  As usual, their 8-10 minutes of baking is 12 in my oven. (The instructions say “err on the side of underbaking” but I already did that, so this time I’m letting them go a little longer).  At 11 minutes they came out too gooey, even after cooling 1-3 minutes on the sheet and completely on the rack. They were nearly impossible to remove from the baking sheet.  At 12 minutes, they came off the sheet pretty cleanly, but are still nicely soft without being liquid.