Category Archives: Food

Green Beans and Kids Eating Them

Thanks for all your nice comments on my last post. Things have been spotty here lately and for that I apologize. I’ve missed you all terribly and appreciate your love notes.  And, you guys have some very clever ideas.

So, as promised, here’s how you make the green beans. Throw a bunch on a cookie sheet and pour on a little olive oil. Rub them around with your hand to get them all stirred up. Salt them. I like lots of salt. Put them in the oven set to 425 F for about 7 minutes. Stir them up. Put them back in for another 7 minutes. Ta-da. Make lots. They’ll go quickly.

If you want something a bit more precise, you can go here.

On another note, kale chips? Really? I hear they’re awesome but have not had a positive experience. Someone convince me. Email me or leave me a comment with a recipe if you have one that works.

Next week: kale rice.


Vegetables and Kids Eating Them

Do your kids eat vegetables? If so, which ones and how are they prepared?

If you don’t have kids, what are your favorite veggies and how do you like them best?

My kids are good eaters who are mostly fond of veggies. We exist primarily on roasted sweet potato/yam wedges, roasted parsnips and roasted green beans. I tell you what, those green beans roasted in salt and olive oil taste better than French fries. We’re also very fond of kale rice, carrot-orange soup and, good old, steamed broccoli. Little K can eat a good 2 cups of kale rice for dinner and Jo can eat carrot soup as fast as I can make it. Sometimes I pour it into a mug so she can drink it. We’re crazy like that.

Tell me about your faves and over the next few months I’ll plan to share my favorite recipes with you. Deal?

Breakfast: A Love Story

A few weeks ago, I taught a workshop in a foreign land. There was a long drive and a long night sleep. Then there was breakfast. There was a window booth. There was an egg and bacon. There was a big plate of fruit and a pot of tea. Oh, and yogurt. There was yogurt too. There were two New Yorker magazines and a very understanding waitress.

There were no dishes. There was no laundry. There was no spilling or crying or drama of any kind. There was quiet, uninterrupted peace, and, when it was all over, there was love. So much love. I hope you find love, whatever it may look like, this week.

SNL’s Version of Downton Abbey and Four Other Things I Love


  1. African American women with natural hair.
  2. Campbell’s Soup’s promise to make their cans BPA free.
  3. Christina Rosalie’s A Field Guide to Now is available for pre-order. Yes, please!
  4. Pam Houston’s ability to articulate the difference and similarity between fiction and non-fiction in writing “So rather than say my intent is to blur the lines, I would say that those lines are not useful to me as an artist. They don’t help me to get the story written.”
  5. Fancy Entourage – What’s better than Downton Abbey? The Saturday Night Live version of Downton Abbey. I can only find the video there. I can’t embed it but you can scroll down to the second image to watch. It’s worth it. TRUST ME!

What five things do you love right now?

The List

My grandmother was made of hardy Scandinavian stock and she died a month shy of her 99th birthday. She was forced to retire at 92 and, at her retirement party, she pulled me aside, holding my arm just above the elbow and said, “You know Katherine, I never meant to retire.” I called her Bestemor which I’ve been told is grandmother in Norwegian. I said, “Yes, Bestemor, I know, I know.”

When she started using a walker it became too difficult to get around the grocery store and she relinquished this task to me and my father. Every week, one of us did her “marketing.” When it was my week, I’d call her at 9:00 am Saturday morning and she’d answer on the first ring. She’d be waiting by the phone in her bathrobe and wingback chair with her note pad sitting on her drum table. She’d read the list over the phone, starting with produce, then moving to boxed foods, the dairy case and ending with meats. My dad and I tried to get her to email the list. She could type lightning fast, but she just never took to the computer (enter, Bestemor, press enter, or double click, that means twice). Eventually we gave up and resigned ourselves to taking the list over the phone.

With the list came detailed instructions. “I’d like two lemons. Katherine, do you know how to pick citrus fruit? They should be large. They should be large and have smooth skin. I’d like two large lemons with smooth skin. Did you get that Katherine?”

I did my best to not speak during our phone calls as she was almost completely deaf, but sometimes it couldn’t be avoided. “Yes, Bestemor.”


“Yes, OK.”

“I’d like two bananas if they’re big and three if they’re small. As green as you can get.”

“I’d like four kiwi, but only if they’re from New Zealand. Katherine, don’t ever buy kiwi that isn’t from New Zealand.”

“I’d like a spaghetti squash, a small one. If they’re large, ask the produce man to cut one in half, they’ll do that you know.”

“I’d like a quarter pound of that ham you like.” I don’t like ham.

“I’d like a four pack of that soft toilet paper that’s on special for $1.49. That’s a good price. You should get some for yourself.”

It went on like this for 45 minutes – carrots with the tops cut off at the register, two pears soft at the stem, and head lettuce, not to be confused with a head of lettuce.

Once I had the list I would drive to the grocery store near her house. I’d fill up the cart and load the contents onto the belt. Three-quarters of the pile was always produce. More than a few of the checkers, assuming the food was mine, commented on my healthy diet. I usually laughed and corrected them because back then, I ate to please my mouth without a care for nourishing my body. I was an invincible 20-something with a taste for peanut butter milkshakes and a vague idea that vegetables were important.

Bestemor was still alive and I was still occasionally doing her marketing when, at 31, I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer and given a 10% chance of living 5 years.

I was in the midst of six months of chemo and wasting away when I started seeing a nutritionist. She told me I had to rebuild my relationship with food. This was shocking for me to hear and also completely right. After years of undiagnosed gastro pain, without realizing it I’d developed a paralyzing fear of food. She gave me baking assignments every week. She told me to eat what I made. She told me I had to start thinking of food as something that would nurture me and save me instead of something that would make me sick.

I knew exactly what I needed to do. Bestemor had been training me, teaching me all that I needed to know for years. It wasn’t only that I needed to eat more whole foods, clearly I did. I needed to plan what I would eat. I needed to make a list. I needed to go to the store and choose the best produce. I needed to prepare meals I enjoyed. I needed to eat them. I needed to nourish myself.

I started right away, rebuilding my diet from scratch. I eliminated soy and gluten which were known trouble-makers for me, and I minimized processed foods and sugars. I planned a menu every week, sitting down with my favorite cookbooks, choosing a few recipes, making a detailed grocery list and doing my own marketing. I discovered the healing nature of the creation and consumption of a meal.

Now, I’m almost seven years out of treatment and cancer-free as far as I know. My husband and I have a four year-old and a one year-old. Keeping the family fed, especially the picky toddler, can feel like a chore piled on to an already full to-do list, but I find few activities to be more satisfying. On good days, when I can get the kids to occupy themselves, or, better yet help out, it’s a cause to slow down and to take a moment to nurture my family and myself. For me the process of meal preparation has become a meditation in healing.

It’s been five years since my grandmother passed away, but I think of her all the time, like in the co-op market where I shop. I know the produce men there. We chat. They’re very knowledgeable and she would have liked that. Sometimes I think about her while I look for cantaloupes that are heavy and sticky on the outside and watermelons that sound hollow. Sometimes I pick up a few kiwis if they’re from New Zealand, and I almost always buy carrots, though I never ask them to take the tops off at the register. I can do that much for myself because, after all, I’m made of hardy Scandinavian stock too.

Katherine Malmo is the author of Who in This Room: The Realities of Cancer, Fish, and Demolition. It can be purchased anywhere books are sold. For more information visit

The Peanut Puzzle Part II

To continue where I left off the last post, this is all summarized from “The Peanut Puzzle: Could the Conventional Wisdom on Children and Allergies Be Wrong?”

Since the conventional wisdom about when to introduce solid foods to babies was overturned in 2008, Doctors Sampson and Sicherer have continued to study food allergies. They have been experimenting with giving children low doses of the food they are allergic to, sometimes in a different molecular structure, to reeducate the immune system that the food is acceptable.

They observed, “…for example, that baking caused milk proteins to change shape in a way that could be less provocative to the immune system. The allergic person might be able to eat the altered proteins and become tolerant of them in all their forms.”

The article also follows Maya, a little girl with an anaphylactic reaction to milk. In spite of her parents’ vigilance she’d had some frightening reactions. On a family outing she struggled to breathe and lost consciousness after eating something labeled “vegetarian cheese.” Another time she was rushed to the hospital after eating a hot dog that contained milk protein.

Under the instruction of Sampson and Sicherer, and in the presence of a nurse, Maya was given a muffin that contained a small amount of milk. She took one bite and had no reaction. Then she ate the rest of the muffin and after a few minutes the vomiting started and hives appeared. They gave her an injection.

When the reaction stopped, they sent Maya home. Her parents received specific instructions to feed her baked goods containing milk every day. Maya came back six months later and they inserted an IV and had epinephrine at the ready. They gave her a slice of pizza. She ate the entire thing without a reaction.

“It was nothing less than miraculous,” her mother said.

Maya returned the next day and drank a glass of milk. As soon as she finished drinking she began vomiting but they were able to control her reaction with Benadryl. A few months later, Maya was able to eat macaroni and cheese but still unable to tolerate a full glass of milk.

“Even if she never progresses past this,” Maya’s mom said.  “I have no regrets about being in the study, because now she can go to a birthday party and have a slice of pizza. It’s huge.”

It is miraculous. So miraculous that I was considering doing some baking. Then I remembered Josie’s food allergies – egg, whitefish, soy and tree nuts. Codfish pecan muffins, anyone?

The Peanut Puzzle Part I

After my last post, I know you’re all relieved to know that we finally settled in around the one pool in the greater Las Vegas area that did not have loud music. It was a plain rectangle that was in the shade of the high rises until 1:00 every afternoon but we made do.

The highlight of my reading was this: “The Peanut Puzzle: Could the Conventional Wisdom on Children and Allergies Be Wrong?” Sorry, they won’t let you read the article.

Um… YES.

Since 2000 the “conventional wisdom,” endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, has said that parents should wait until a child is 6 months old before introducing solid foods. Then parents should start with the foods that are least likely to cause allergic reactions. This late introduction was thought to make children less likely to develop food allergies.

In the past decade peanut allergies have doubled. Clearly there’s something wrong with our “conventional wisdom.”

I hated giving Josie formula. Spooning powder from a can seemed like the antithesis of nourishment – it was the ultimate processed food. I was anxious to start her on solid foods, but I followed the conventional wisdom and waited until she was 6 months old to give her a bite of cooked sweet potato. In spite of my efforts, or maybe because of them, she’s currently allergic to eggs, soy, white fish and tree nuts.

Doctors Hugh Sampson and Scott Sicherer at Mount Sinai Medical center have found that food allergens are unavoidable and babies come into contact with protein molecules though particles in the air and on skin and in other food and that by giving them such small doses we are actually making their systems more sensitive and more likely to develop allergic responses.

“You can’t avoid food proteins,” Sampson, said. “So when we put out these recommendations we allowed the infants to get intermittent and low-dose exposure, especially on the skin, which actually may have made them even more sensitive.”

Based on a report submitted by Sampson and Sicherer, The American Academy of Pediatrics overturned this practice in January of 2008, stating – “Current evidence does not support a major role for maternal dietary restrictions during pregnancy or lactation… There is also little evidence that delaying the timing of the introduction of complementary foods beyond four to six months of age prevents the occurrence of [allergies].”

Now what? The retraction of the previous recommendation leaves a hole where the current advice should be placed, but there’s nothing there. At this point, all we know is that we don’t know what we thought we knew and I guess that’s a great first step.

When did you introduce solids? How did that work out? Does your child have allergies?

To be continued…

Calcium and Vitamin D

Oh, hey, hi there. How’s everyone doing?

It’s February, that dreaded, dark, gray, rainy month where not a whole lot good happens in Seattle. The light is starting to come back, we’re past the winter solstice but it’s still really dismal. Are you taking your vitamins? Are your kids taking their vitamins? There’s a lot of chatter out there in the world about how much Vitamin D we all should be taking. This new chart came out in late November and I think it’s a great guide. You can read the whole article that went with it here.

Three Sisters Stew

I’m long overdue to share some culinary genius with you guys. Of course, this genius is not mine but from my favorite cookbook, Feeding the Whole Family. It’s a vegetarian stew that’s meaty and filling. Josie can’t get enough. If you use delicate squash, you don’t have to peel it. You can just scrape out the seeds, chop it up and drop it in.


  • 1 cup dried Christmas lima beans, soaked 6 to 8 hours and drained
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2-3 cups winter squash peeled and cut in chunks
  • 1 (14 oz) can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1.5 cups fresh or frozen corn


  1. Place beans, 2 cups of stock and 1 teaspoon of cumin in a pot and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until beans are tender (50-60 minutes).
  2. Heat a 4-quart pot to medium, add oil and saute the remaining cumin oregano and cinnamon for 30 seconds. Add onion, salt, and garlic; saute until onion is soft (5 minutes). Add squash, tomatoes, and chili powder, bring to a simmer and cook until squash is soft (about 20 minutes). Add 1/2 to 1 cup stock if mixture is dry. Add cooked beans and corn; simmer until corn is tender. Adjust seasoning to taste.