Learning to cook … one kid at a time

Pasta Bolognese October 27, 2011

Filed under: Recipes — gastromami @ 9:02 pm

If there was ever a day to book plane tickets to Miami, today was it

The weather cooled, wind was blowing down the street rustling the leaves (and litter – the obvious sign that we moved out of the center of Philadelphia tourism!), and my kids were wearing warm coats and hats.

If there was ever a day for bolognese, today was it

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium-high heat

Once hot, add 1 medium onion, coarsely diced & 4 cloves garlic, minced

Lower heat to medium and cook until the onions are tender, about 8 minutes

Add 4 carrots, peeled and medium-diced & 2 celery stalks, diced

Cook 5 minutes

Increase heat to high and add 1 pound ground chuck

Cook until no longer pink, about 8 minutes, breaking up any large chunks

Add 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes

Season with 2 teaspoons basil (dried), salt & pepper to taste

Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened, about 30 minutes

* Give your super-cute cooking partner a kiss *

Serve over pasta and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese

Ren approved


small style & a review: Frankford Hall October 13, 2011

Filed under: Restuarant Review,Small Style — gastromami @ 1:47 pm

I realized a few weeks ago that, since at least before Fiona was born, I have not looked at any Memphis blogs.

While sad that I no longer feel a deep “I need to know what is happening” connection to my old home, I have truly, honestly begun to feel right at home here in Philly – at least I was until we moved 3 miles away from that home. 

*** In fact, Tricia and I were out walking on Saturday and I saw countless people on the street – and now I’m a stranger again (sigh) ***

One of my favorite blogs in Memphis was Dining With Monkeys – written by local writer Stacey Greenberg

(also of Memphis Rock-N-Romp – my NUMERO UNO, would fly back for, need to start here in Philly, favorite Memphis activity!!!!)

So, unable to find anything of comparison here in Philly – I’m going to start my own little Philadelphia food review, for families, here on GastroMami.

To start, I’m going to “cheat” and use a meal prepared, somewhat, by my husband (but it’s not his restaurant!)

There is this thing about my husband:

He must cook a pig 3-4 a year

Or else he gets all grumpy, and twitchy & wants to take off and head to Austria

Despite the fact that he did this recently:

(that would be the lamb that kept humping the pigs)

There is something about The Swine that feeds his Cuban soul

And, although he makes a killer Lechon Asado at Alma de Cuba,

when Frankford Hall asked him to do a pig roast for their Oktoberfest, he said yes without hesitation

(and without asking me if he could disappear for 48 hours to smoke said pig,

but, with that said, I married him with full knowledge that he would drop everything for pork)

Little did we know that we would be doing a super-duper quick move during this period.  Good thing my wonderful, beautiful, spirited sister Tricia was able to head our way to help wrangle my children while I packed & Reny roasted some pork.

Reny picked up the smoker on Friday and began his own spiritual ceremony.

Tricia rolled into town on Saturday (with a piece of Ren’s new bed – wait until you see it!!!!) and we got to work drinking wine packing.

Sunday morning came and I was desperately feeling the need to GET OUT and away from toddler who won’t get dressed, a baby who keeps finding bubble wrap to eat, and boxes piled up in my tiny apartment.

So I went for a run and decided to make a water stop at Frankford Hall where my husband spent the night in his car, tending to some pork.

I was running down Girard Ave. and, immediately after emerging from the SEPTA bridge I smelled it – heaven.

The smell of this pig did something to my soul that made my little legs pump faster and faster … was I becoming part Cuban or was it the fact that I knew I would be eating multiple pork sandwiches in just a few hours and, therefore, must burn the calories now?

Whatever my motivation, I headed back home, showered, piled the kids into the stroller and set off with Tricia for lunch – ’cause nothing says “let’s get motivated to pack” like hitting up a Oktoberfest celebration (complete with beer) at noon.

We met a few friends at the restaurant and I was immediately impressed.  Besides during my early morning run I had not seen the space before.  The restaurant is a converted warehouse space, complete with exposed ceilings and brick walls.  While half of the space is inside, large garage doors open completely to reveal an open-air, gravel patio with numerous picnic tables.

We spotted our friends who were drinking beer on a beautiful fall day while their kids played in the gravel with shovels & dump trucks!

There is no server at Frankford Hall – you order your drinks from the bar & your food from a separate food window.  They give you a number to take back to the table and a runner brings your food when it is ready.

The menu is small – but perfect for a beer hall:

Sausages & sauerkraut, pretzels, spaetzle & fries dominate the menu


Homemade applesauce, fries, mushroom spaetzle (by far the winner – cream, thyme, mushrooms, dumplings!!) & the special of the day:  Reny’s pulled pork sandwich:  Bavarian marinated pulled pork served on a pumpkin seed roll with a pumpkin vinaigrette slaw.

The winner of the day was the soft pretzels!

Warm, soft, baked – they were perfectly cooked, salted and paired nicely with either spicy mustard, sweet mustard or a provolone cheese sauce.

(napkins, silverware & mustards are all self-serve)


Pros of Frankford Hall

Great space for hanging out with kids (during the day) – we were there for 3 hours!

Menu appeals to both adventurous & timid eaters

This Sunday featured:  Kids eat free!, face-painting, a magician & balloon clown

Great beer selection

Games for kids & adults alike!  A giant scale, ping-pong & arcade games.

Cons of Frankford Hall

Clean bathrooms but no changing table

Plastic silverware, paper serving containers – come on, it is 2011 … at least use biodegradable and/or recycled items


We will definitely be stopping by Frankford Hall again when the weather is nice!



On Ren:

Shirt:  Gap

Lederhosen:  direct from Germany, hand me down from Uncle Nate

On Fiona:

Dress:  Mini Rotation via The Mini Social

Diaper:  gDiapers

Espadrilles:  Mexico, gifted from Abuela

Linking up at Small Style on Mama Loves Papa


small style: It’s Fall & Life is Changing October 6, 2011

Filed under: Small Style — gastromami @ 7:17 am

All of the sudden it got cooler out

There was one day of that “hint of Fall” in the air and then


Sweaters, cider, chili & the promise of

Halloween, Thanksgiving & Christmas

I have to admit that an election-less Fall makes me both thrilled to enjoy this time

moseying along with my kids, stopping at Starbucks for a Pumpkin Spice latte

and sad that the knocking on doors, shaking the hand of a Clinton, marching in parades & crazy hours

seem both so far away and so far off

(I love election years 🙂

But, alas, Fall made its big announcement about a week before the cold hit

(and no, it wasn’t the fact that Starbucks brought back my favorite drink)


“They’re Baaaaaaack!”

And so, although I love the smack-dab-in-the-middle-of-the-hustle&bustle big city livin’

We are headed (still in The City) to another part of town

Where the house is our own and we aren’t just an apartment where the mice venture because everyone else has an animal

(I’m sure it has nothing to do with the toddler dropping food everywhere)

And we will be living the big-city American Dream:  3 whole bedrooms and,

wait for it,

A Yard!

(well a small paved outdoor area but we can have a grill again!)

So whether Fall announced itself with little rodent friends or a warm Ican’treallyaffordit drink

it is most definitely up on us and I was woefully prepared

Thank goodness for Sanus Baby and their current 50% off everything sale when I desperately needed a hat for Miss Fiona

Now, if I could only figure out where Ren’s old 6-12 month leather shoes are … those poor toes

On Fiona:

Hat:  Sanus Baby

Sweater:  Koala Kids

Pants: Tea Collection

Socks:  Trumpette, gifted

Linking up at Small Style on Mama Love Papa


October ONE October 1, 2011

Filed under: ONE — gastromami @ 11:42 am


There’s a definite chill in the air today

So we headed to our favorite, closest park

Fall is here

Although our little rodent friends informed us of that last week

We are moving – quickly

So I’m busy doing everything BUT blogging

I’ll be back – wait until you see our new kitchen 🙂

We will miss Franklin Square

Reny is 2

Fiona is 5 1/2 months



Inspired by Adventures in Babywearing