Thursday, January 12, 2012

What's in your double-shot-caramel Latte?

No matter how many years I have lived in the US, one thing I still don't master are the choices of coffee-drinks that Starbucks, and to a lesser extent other coffee shops, have to offer. You could write a whole decision tree to order the simplest drink like a Latte: 1) Choose your size: tall, grande, venti (why "tall" means "small" still does not make sense to me!!) 2) Choose the level of cafeine you want (single, double, decaf, caf, tea) 3) Choose the milk you want (non fat, lowfat, whole, soy) 4) Choose any other customization (with syrup, with extra foam, etc...)...!!!
I admit that I do go to Starbucks (I even have the app to pay on my iPhone - pathetic??).  I'd rather go to an independent-better-tasting coffee place but I have to say that for the sake of convenience, it's easier for me to go to the Starbucks underneath my work building. AND also, truth is that the people at the Starbucks I go to ARE so nice (well trained?) that they know me by  name (yes, I know, it's maybe because I go TOO often!!)... but hey, they are also among the few people who can spell my first name correctly, "trema" included(!!)... and I can't state it otherwise, it's a really nice way to start a work day!! 
That said, no matter how often I go (a few times a week), I still can't understand half of the orders people place. It actually amuses me to realize that no matter how many choices the menu already offers, people manage to get yet another alternative that's NOT on the menu. Unbelievable!! 

I remember reading a NY Times financial article regarding how people, especially College graduates, would be better off financially if they were to bring their own cup of coffee (or drink the one offered at work) instead of spending $$ it at a Starbucks-or-the-likes. Yet, as another financial advisor would comment, you have to treat yourself with something but that's IF and only IF you manage to save in the first place...   
Beyond the price (you pay more for a Grande Latte than for a gallon of organic milk!!), as explained in this Daily Mail article, what people should really pay attention to are the calories they indulge on when they order a Venti Caramel Brule Latte (460 calories with whole milk) or worse, the Eggnog Latte (620 calories in its largest serving with whole milk)! Imagine: more than a hamburger??? And that's not counting the calories of any food ordered with the drink!! 
That's why, when I go, I stick to my regular coffee drinks (nonfat decaf Latte or decaf Soy Latte depending on the days if you care to know) because sitting in an office all day won't make me burn the extra load of calories of the new drinks Starbucks is launching. And besides, I am not big on sugar anyway so every syrup, no matter how "skinny", taste too sweet to me!  And the few times I take my children, I make sure to order one hot chocolate (no whipped cream) and ask for it to be divided in two cups (not on the menu but they'll do it if you ask!) It has worked well for us because what I realize is what my kids really enjoy is to drink out of the cup and lid and to carry their drink outside! That makes them feel like grown-ups! Funny, isn't it? As usual, read the label and enjoy with moderation!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Yesterday With My Children We Made ..."Petites Saucisses en pâte feuilletée"

Our children had two weeks off over the Holidays and since I only had one week, that whole week was about spending good quality time with them. When school is on, I see my children but I don't have enough time to spend playing with them, except for the word games we play while they eat dinner. I do read them stories but I don't have the time to sit down and play a card game for instance, except maybe on the week-end.
So during our week off together, we played. Everyday. I took them out in the morning but after their afternoon nap, we decided to stay home and relax. And play. Le Père Noël had been kind enough to bring new games (Qwirkle, Four-square,  Uno, in addition to legos & playmobils), so we were ready to play them and have fun. It was really enjoyable...

One of the things we also did together was to cook. BUT since it was also MY vacations, I made sure that everything I cooked was fast-and-easy (with the exception of Christmas Lunch maybe!!).
One of the things my children love to eat are those little snack sausages. To make it fun, I thaw puff pastry and cut it in rubans which they roll around the sausages. We dip the sausages in mustard before so as to make them a little bit more spicy. It's easy. It's messy (YES!). It's fun, quoi! It's really enjoyable to see them master the different tasks (the little drop of water to close the dough at the top!) and love to make them. I feel that at least, they know that they can have fun in the kitchen... 
My goal for 2012 (I don't have resolutions; too hard to keep!!) : to make time for them in the kitchen because I know they enjoy being des petits marmitons. Even if it's just to mix the granola as we make it... or to help me shape the baguettes in funny shapes. This is priceless... and on top of that you can make sure that they'll develop an interest in food and therefore become better eaters. So don't wait, have fun with your kids in the kitchen. Bonne Année!!

- 1 pack of snack sausages
- 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry dough- thawed
- Wholegrain mustard (or other mustard)
- a little bit of water
  • Preheat oven to 400F (200 C)
  • Cook the sausages according to instruction, dry them in paper towel
  • Spread the dough and cut it into lengthy rectangular pieces. Ideally you should make nice triangles, but that's too time consuming!
  • Dip the sausage in the mustard bowl then wrap it into a piece of dough. Place it on a baking sheet (parchmin paper or Silpat)
  • Bake in the oven for about 20 mn or until golden.