easter vacation


Last week we spent a week with my parents and my sister and her family in Paris. It has become a tradition to take a family vacation over spring break, and is quite a treat to all spend a week together...we rent an apartment so that we have a comfortable home base, and so that we do not have to eat out three meals a day...something that is not so fun with lots of kids in tow. One of the things that makes these trips so special is that between trips to museums and sights Adam and I, and Lauren and Ben, can take turns going off to explore while the others take care of the kids. Knowing this, I planned ahead and brought the supplies to dye easter eggs using the tools used to create pysanka so we could dye eggs when it was my turn to entertain the kids at home. We always dye eggs, and always enjoy it, but the Ukrainian method is very elaborate and time consuming so makes great activity when you want to spend some time on it. While Lauren and Ben went exploring the Marais the kids and my parents and I worked on these eggs. Although they are not the precise and geometric patterns of typical pysanky eggs I love the more abstract results and we all really enjoyed the process. I think we will do this again next year, so hopefully I can take more photos and share the details in another post in time for next easter!


p.s. we came accross this cute little easter bunny at the paris bird market. I'll post more about that soon. 


page's power breakfast smoothie


One more post from Page! When we were in Montana she made smoothies for breakfast and everyone LOVED them. This was only a little suprising since she packs them with all kinds of things: almond butter, kale, flax seeds, etc. It was a delicious and nutritious way to start the day and the kids were asking for seconds.


Page uses frozen fruits and frozen kale to make a really thick and cold smoothie but you can certainly substitute fresh fruits or kale for frozen if you have them on hand - just use enough frozen ingredients to keep the smoothie cold.  Page also added nutritional reasons for all her ingredients in parentheses below. Thank you, Page!



(makes 4 generous servings)

2 11 ounce Vita Coca coconut waters (hydration)

1 large banana, peeled (potassium)

two heaping tablespoons almond butter (protein and fiber)

2 heaping cups frozen raspberries, blueberries, or cherries, preferably a mix (dark fruits are full of antioxidents)

1 heaping cup frozen peaches or mango

1 1/2 cups frozen kale

2 tablespoons whole or ground flax seeds (Omega 3's - some people say ground flas seed is better for absorption but they get at least partially ground in the blender)

2 tablespoons chia seeds (Omega 3's)

1 pack of frozen acai puree, optional (I use Sambazon which is available at whole foods in 100gram smoothis packages)


Combine all the ingredients in the blender and puree. Serve immediately.


rebecca ashley: corps de clone


My friend Rebecca and I have known each other since our sons were in preschool together and have spent many afternoons witnessing them battle in the park. Currently she is exhibiting her photography at a local yogurt shop, Culture. I really loved her story of how the work came to be, especially since I can imagine it so clearly. 


This is excerpted from her write up of the show:

"One night as I watched my son engage in a world-altering battle with his action figures, I teasingly grabbed one of his heroes and contorted him into an arabesque. In one moment my past as a dancer and choreographer confronted his present. Our response? To laugh and try another pose. Could he do a grande plié? A tendue?..."


The work in this exhibit brings Rebecca's worlds of dance, parenting, and photography together - if you are in Brooklyn please stop by Culture and see her show. If you are a fan of dance, or a parent of a clone obsessed child, you might even decide to buy a piece! You can also see Rebecca's work on her website here.




carol's lebanese chicken: riz d'jej


Our friend Carol cooked this dish for us on our Montana trip and we all loved it so much I had to have the recipe. The recipe involves a few steps but it is a perfect thing to make on a weekend. Different types of rice need varying amounts of liquid and cooking time so it is best to double check the package directions and compare them to this recipe before you start. Carol and I used short grain brown rice, which requires a 2:1 ratio of broth to rice, and cooks for 50 minutes.



for the chicken and broth:

1 whole chicken

1 onion, quartered

3 carrots, cut into 2 inch peices

3 stalks celery, cut into 2 inch pieces

1 bay leaf

1 whole cinnamon stick


For the rice:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, peeled thinly sliced

1 tablespoon allspice

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 cups short grained brown rice

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

4 cups chicken broth (reserved from cooking the chicken)


For the garnish:

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced

1 teaspoon butter

1/2 cup blanched whole almonds


For the gravy

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

1/2 cup white wine

2 cups chicken broth (reserved from cooking the chicken)


Place the chicken, onion, carrots, celery, bay leaf and cinnamon in large pot and cover with water by 2-3 inches (about 8-10 cups). Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook for about an hour and 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked and starting to fall off the bone. Remove chicken from broth and set aside. Strain broth and set aside for use in rice and gravy. 


Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepot and saute onions over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until jsut starting to carmelize around the edges. Add allspice and cook one minute more. Add chickpeas, stirring to coat, and cook another minute. Add rice and stir to coat with seasoning. Add salt and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for 50 minutes. If rice is finished before you finish the rest of the dish just turn off the heat and keep covered until ready to serve. 


In the meanwhile, prepare the garnish. Cook remaining 2 onions in remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until dark brown. In another skillet melt butter and brown almonds until golden, stirring frequently for even browning. 


When the rice is almost done (after about 40 minutes) start the gravy. Melt butter in a skillet and add flour. Cook until very bubbly but do not allow to brown. Slowly stir in the wine and and chicken broth and cook whisking constantly over low heat until thickened. Season with sea salt.


Fluff rice with a fork just before serving. Sppon into a shallow serving dish and top with chicken (strained from broth), onions, and almonds. Season to taste with sea salt and serve with gravy.




page's kale salad


My friend Page is a great cook and she made another winning dish while we were away together on our ski trip...inspired by a kale salad she had at a party she set out to duplicate it and then added one of her favorite fruits, pomelo. The crunch of toasted almonds and the citrusy zing of the pomelo and lemon vinaigrette are perfect with the fresh kale. Page served this salad with our dinner but it also makes a great lunch with bread and cheese. Since the kale stands up well to the dressing, you can even make it for dinner and enjoy any leftovers the next day.


Page likes to use dinosaur kale, also known as tuscan kale, nero di Toscana, or lacinato kale. The salad is best if the kale is thinly sliced into small bite size pieces. When I made this salad (for the photo above) dinosaur kale was sold out at my local market so I bought a curly leaf variety and it was delicious anyway...if you use a kale variety with a tough rib in the leaf femove it before chopping the kale.



1 bunch dinosaur kale (can substitute other varieties)

Juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup roughly chopped dry roasted almonds or marcona almonds

1/3 cup finely grated parmasan (use a microplaner if you have one)

1 pomelo, peeled, all membranes removed and sections broken into small pieces



Juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in a jar and shake thoroughly to emulsify.


Combine the kale, lemon juice, and salt in a bowl and let marinate for 30 minutes, massaging the leaves with fingertips to soften. When ready to serve add vinaigrette, almonds, parmesan, and pomelo and toss to combine. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.


ski trip 2013

Montana Explorer Lift from Madasebrof on Vimeo.


Every year we take a skiing and snowboarding trip with a group of great friends. My next few posts will be sharing some delcious recipes that people made on the trip. In the meantime here is a fun video Adam made of a family run we did one day.


igloo 2013


A few years ago when there was a big snowstorm we spent the day in the park with friends trying to build an igloo. We had a great time doing it, and did manage quite a large construction, but never succeeded in building the roof. It was a great day and I have wanted to try igloo building again ever since. I noticed some snow brick molds on The Land of Nod and ordered a few for our family. We have hardly had any snow since then so the molds have been collecting dust in the basement...until now.


When we woke up on Saturday morning to a beautiful snow covered street we were all eager to go to the park. We met a bunch of friends and all split up...Owen wanted to sled with one group, Oliver set to work making snowballs and a fortress, preparing for battle, and Bea and I started building our igloo. It was slow going at took us a few tries to get the hang of the brick molds, but we happily set to work. When we had only completed a few rounds and our igloo wall was about 18 inches high our friend Sam arrived. Sam was part of the original igloo building group a few years ago (and is also the father of a favorite friend of the boys) and apparently he left that first effort, like me, determined to build a successful igloo. Unlike me, he did some homework along the way, and as a result became the crucial partner in our effort!



Once Sam was on our team progress was much quicker. A few interested kids and parents came to watch and eventually many joined in the effort. Armed with a metal spatula Sam was stationed inside the igloo, carefully lining up our bricks so that the walls curved in nicely. The rest of us made the bricks...packing the wet snow firmly into the molds. As the igloo grew we had to go farther and farther from the site to collect enough fresh snow to make the bricks so Bea, Lila and I delivered bricks by the sledful. By the time we were ready to close the roof a small mob had gathered to watch and help.


Sam ended up completely enclosed in the igloo and had to use his trusty spatula to cut a doorway out. The crowd cheered and the kids poured inside. Eventually I made my way in too, with Bea, and I have to say it was beautiful to see the white walls glowing from the inside.




million moms for gun control


I've been debating whether or not to post about this for the last two weeks...this blog is really not meant to be political...however, it is a blog about family (mine in particular) and this is something really important to my family. After the shootings in Sandy Hook my husband I ended up in tears almost every night thinking about the senseless tragedy and the devastating loss that all those families were going through. It shook us to the core, hitting close to home for so many reasons. Since then there have been so many more shootings that I have lost track of the numbers. In the wake of that tragedy there have numerous marches and petitions asking for increased gun control laws -- I have marched for various things in my lifetime and I felt strongly that this was one I wanted to be a part of. As for taking the kids...I think it's important to teach them that if you really believe in an issue that you do have a voice and you can make it heard. 





shaved fennel and endive salad with oranges


I recently noticed red oranges at our food coop and was excited to try them. They were fantastically sweet and juicy, and were perfect on this salad, but any good oranges will do.



3 oranges (if you see red oranges they are a beautiful addition)

1 bulb fennel, very thinly sliced (use a mandoline if you have one), reserve fronds for garnish

1/2 cucumber, seeds removed, very thinly sliced

2-3 heads endive, depending on size, sliced into 1 inch pieces

juice of half a lemon

a drizzle extra virgin olive oil

coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Remove the peel, pith, and outer membranes of the oranges by following the curve of the fruit. Slice into 1/4 inch thick rounds. Place all remaining ingredients in a serving bowl and toss until combined. Arrange orange slices over top of salad and garnish with fennel fronds.


quinoa with roasted vegetables


I made this recipe for our annual New Year's Eve party so it is big enough to serve a crowd, but it can be cut down easily since the amounts do not need to be precise. I wanted to try something new and since I love all the winter squash and root vegetabes at this time of year I decided to start there. The experimental part was the dressing: I made a vinaigrette flavored with garam masala and cardamom and sweetened slightly with maple syrup. A little fresh mint stirred in at the end added some brightness to the dish.


When you cut all the vegetables, make them small enough to be bitesize, but not so small that they get shriveled when roasted. I roasted the beets separately because I find it so much easier to slip the peels off once roasted than to peel them raw. Roasting them in their skins also keeps them nice and moist. You can substitute delicata squash for the butternut of you like - this would be a good idea if you want to do a smaller batch since delicata are much smaller than butternut. Another great thing about delicata squash is that you do not need to peel it - the skin is quite tender once it is cooked. If you use delicata, cut the squash into rings and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds before roasting.



1 bunch chiogga beets

1 bunch yellow beets

1 small butternut squash

6 purple carrots (regular carrots can be substituted)

6 small shallots

olive oil

coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 package red quinoa

a handful of mint leaves, finely chopped


for the dressing:

1/3 cup white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1 teaspoon garam masala

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

pinch cayenne

pinch ground cloves

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil


Heat over to 425°. Scrub beets and trim stems. Wrap in aluminum foil (I did 2 packets with 6 beets in each) and place on a sheet pan. Roast in the oven for about an hour, or until beets are easily pierced with a knife. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Using a paper towel wipe skins from beets. This step may be done the day before if desired but bring to room temperature before adding to the quinoa.


Remove peel and seeds from butternut squash and cut into small chunks. Scrub carrots and cut into small chunks. Remove papery skins from shallots and cut into halves or quarters. Toss the vegetables with olive oil and salt and pepper and roast for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown and tender. The exact cooking time will vary depending on the size of your veggies.


While the vegetables are roasting, cook the quinoa according to the package directions. Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients except the olive oil in a blender and whir to combine. While the blender is running slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream until emulsified. Taste and adjust seasoning with more salt if needed. Cut the roasted beets into bitesize pieces and add to the quinoa. Add the roasted carrots, squash and shallots to the bowl and toss with half the dressing. Continue adding dressing until the salad is moist and flavorful -- I had about 1/4 left over for another day. Stir in finely chopped mint just before serving. This salad may be serve hot or at room temperature.