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Mary Helen
Austin, TX
I can Haas Avocado?
Interests: Comfort food, healthy cooking, and ethnic cuisines are my obsessions. As a cook, writer, and culinary instructor these worlds collide in my kitchen on a daily basis.
Recent Activity
So it finally happened. I went outside my front door half topless. I didn't realize until I came in and sat down after taking the trash out that I had never rearranged myself after CC's last nursing session. Whoops. At least I don't think anyone saw me. Speaking of motherhood, I heard a pretty inspiring story recently about motherhood (and life beyond) from Troy Ball, the founder of Asheville Distilling Company. Troy has three boys, two of which have special needs. She ended up putting her personal career ambitions on hold to care for her kids for over a decade. Then she stumbled upon Moonshine. Curiosity and that old ambition cropped up and propelled her into the world of craft distilling. I was invited to a media tasting where I got to sample two varieties of Troy and Sons Moonshine as well as their Blonde Whiskey. Everything is made in small batches using heirloom grains. The spirits were tasty, and it was nice to hear from a woman who has found success and independence after a decade of full-time motherhood. I sometimes wish I had put my own career on hold so that I could focus just on CC, but... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Mary Makes Dinner
Disclosure: The giveaway below is sponsored by World Vision, a Christian charity. World Vision provided me with a set of spoons to photograph and keep and is supplying the second set to be given away. I'm on a diet right now - a strict diet, and I have a lot of feelings about that. Rather than prattle on and on, I'll sum it all up via haiku. Nutrient dense food A bottomless appetite I would kill for pie Are you feeling me? I know you get it. I'm dreaming of pizza, but instead I'm eating this kale salad here. Yeah I know, another kale salad. I promise to branch out to other greens as soon as this baby stops sleeping on my chest six hours a day. Until then, kale. Lemon Cashew Ceasar Salad with Roasted Squash Makes about four servings Ingredients 1 bunch of organic kale (because I think organic kale tastes better) 1 acorn squash, sliced and seeded 1 tablespoon cooking oil/fat (I used bacon fat because paleo - but any fat or oil will do) 1/2 cup cashews (either raw or roasted will do fine) 1/4 cup almond oil (or another healthy fat - virgin olive would... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Mary Makes Dinner
Did you have cutesy names for your bodily functions? I'd forgotten that I had until my Dad asked CC if he made a foof. Foof! It's all coming back to me now. The word "fart" was vulgur, and we got scolded for using it, but "foof" was A-Ok. We also... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Mary Makes Babies
Disclosure: I was given $50 worth of credit to Instacart in exchange for sharing my experience using the service through this post. My opinions are my own, and I've done my best to lay it all out for better or worse. Grocery shopping has never been a favorite chore for me, but after CC was born it became even more of a hassle. Anyone who has ever had to take a small child out into the world knows that it can be a ridiculously involved process. First you have to time the whole thing just right so that baby is well-fed and at just the right point between naps. Then you have to get a fresh diaper on him, get him into the car seat, on the road and into the store before that window closes. If the timing is off, you end up being that parent that everyone just loves - the one with a wailing infant in the checkout line While there's no shame in being that parent (we've all been there) it's no picnic either. Wouldn't it be great if you could just avoid going to the store completely? Thanks to grocery delivery services, like Instacart, you... Continue reading
Posted Oct 11, 2014 at Mary Makes Dinner
As mamas, we need certain things - like breaks, support, encouragement, and sometimes even forgiveness. It seems to me that us women have a tendency to expect these things to come from other people in our lives. Often rightfully so. In a perfect world our partners, for example, would be... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2014 at Mary Makes Babies
Disclosure: I've been invited to attend the R3 Prevention Summit and related VIP events for free as a brand ambassador. I was not otherwise paid to write this post. My opinions are, as always, my own. I recently met Jessica Chia, the beauty editor for Prevention Magazine at the R3... Continue reading
Posted Oct 9, 2014 at Mary Makes Pretty
I'm hard at work on my very first print book! Between babies, work, and blogging, I've been just about as busy as one little bee could, well, be! Not that I'm complaining. The inert workaholic within me is getting some kind of sick pleasure out of all this activity -... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2014 at Mary Makes Pretty
Lately dinner at home has been a simple affair. Between taking care of CB, keeping up with my blogs, holding down a full-time job, and writing a book, I don't have a whole lot of time leftover to cook. Scott Bobleo has stepped up to the plate, staking his claim in our kitchen by making dinner several nights a week. Sharing my kitchen with my husband is a whole other adventure that I have plenty of feelings about, but I'll get into that another time. Most nights dinner consists of a protein, prepared simply in a pan or oven accompanied by a veggie, and maybe brown rice or sweet potato. Every now and then, I still get the opportunity to take my time in the kitchen and whip up something really special. The last time my parents came to visit I took advantage of their enthusiasm for holding CB, and made up a massive plate of stir-fried noodles with grilled chicken, pickled veggies, and fresh herbs. By the way, the rice noodles in this recipe are gluten-free, so if you also use tamari in the sauce you have an entirely gluten-free dish. Sweet! You can also feel free to swap... Continue reading
Posted Oct 2, 2014 at Mary Makes Dinner
Tell Ryan hes welcome. Hehe.
Tell Ryan he's welcome. Hehe.
I've always been a big fan of chubby babies. The pudgier the better. A week or so before my due date I visited Deep Eddy with a girlfriend and saw an adorable specimen of infant portliness. "I hope my baby is nice and fat.", I confessed to Keeley. She laughed... Continue reading
Posted Sep 29, 2014 at Mary Makes Babies
Discolosure: I'm acting as a brand ambassador for the R3 Prevention Summit 2014. I'm not being paid for this post, but I'm receiving free admission to the summit and to related VIP events. My opinions are my own. I spent Thursday night under a canopy of oak trees, in the company of friends, and enjoying a meal made from fresh local ingredients. The R3 Prevention Summit Preview Dinner was held at Eden East, the farm to table dinner club over at Springdale Farm. The space is simple and beautiful, with a carpet of straw and wooden tables lit by candles and gas lamps. It is decidedly romantic, but the communal tables make the mood better suited to groups of friends than a pair of lovebirds. We were treated to a five course meal, each small plate arriving one at a time. The pacing was very very leisurely, so if you go there, don't expect to eat and run. I wasn't aware of this, but a normal dinner at Eden East takes between two and three hours. The portions are also on the small side - another thing to keep in mind when planning your evening there. When dinner takes two... Continue reading
Posted Sep 27, 2014 at Mary Makes Dinner
Knock loud, Charlie. Knock loud!
I'm glad to know I'm not alone in despising door-to-door fundraisers. Rarely am I in the mood for an unexpected guilt trip! It's the worst!
Baby finally falls asleep after two hours of resistance. Right on que the doorbell rings and the dog begins to bark madly. I open the door to find a girl dressed like a hipster Ellie Satler standing there with a clipboard. "HI! I'm -" "Look, I'm really sorry but I... Continue reading
Posted Sep 26, 2014 at Mary Makes Babies
It's been seventeen weeks since a tiny naked Charlie was plopped into my arms. When he was born his entire torso was just about the length of my outstretched hands. When I hold this great big boy in my arms now, just under four months later, it's hard to believe... Continue reading
Posted Sep 22, 2014 at Mary Makes Babies
Scott Bobleo and I are still working on getting back into a rhythm when it comes to food. Baby Charlie tries to take it easy on us, but his needs and patterns can be pretty unpredictable. I've found that I can't really count on having time right before dinner to cook, so meals that are started way ahead, or can be prepared in several different chunks of time work out really well. Pot roast, for example, is pretty much a set it and forget it sort of thing. A quick sear, a splash of broth, a handful of herbs and spices, then it's into the oven for a few hours, giving me a huge window to cook a pot of rice and prep some kind of easy vegetable. The only beef I have with pot roast (see what I did there?) is that it can be a little dull. The classic French flavors in most pot roast recipes are delicious and all - but after making a few roasts I started wondering how this classic dish could be reworked. I went for an Asian theme with this recipe, but really, you could make countless variations on a pot roast just... Continue reading
Posted Sep 16, 2014 at Mary Makes Dinner
Have you ever wondered how to get yourself a freelance writing gig? Perhaps you are dreaming about turning your blog into a book but you aren't sure how to make it happen. Maybe you just bought a shiny new camera and need some help figuring out how to use it. These kinds of questions (and many more) are about to be answered by fellow food bloggers at The Byte of Texas Conference later this month. The two-day conference is featuring panels on everything from SEO and monetization to finding your voice and Texas food culture. The schedule is pretty dang impressive, but what's even more exciting is the food! Conference eats include lunch from Whole Foods, dinner at The Salty Sow, and a breakfast taco brunch! There is even a whole panel dedicated to beer and cheese pairing. One thing is clear: Austin bloggers know how to eat! I'll be speaking on a panel about publishing, sharing my own story about how I landed a book deal for Mary Makes Pretty. Addie Broyles (Austin Statesman), Adam Salamone (Harvard Common Press), and the ever-adorable Hilah Johnson (Hilah Cooking) will be joining me, each sharing their unique perspective on authorhood and the... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2014 at Mary Makes Dinner
It's more than just a race! There are several events going on during the Fit Foodie Weekend, and I have tickets to give away for three of this weekend's most popular events. Fit Foodie 5k - Saturday Morning The big race is happening Saturday morning at Mueller Lake Park. The best part of this race (if you ask me) is the finish line. Here's the scoop on the mini food fest that will be waiting for us there: Delicious bites from award-winning Chef David Bull of Congress Austin, beer samples from Stella Artois and Stella Cidre, refreshments from Bhakti Chai and Cuvee Coffee, tasty hummus from Zilks Foods, wines from Cupcake Vineyards, bites from Punchbowl Social Club, The Carillon, Dang Banh Mi, A-OK Chinese, and How Do You Roll? Not to mention Executive Editor of Food for Cooking Light Ann Pittman will be serving up tasty chipotle pork and chicken tacos directly from the Culinary Demo Stage. - Fit Foodie 5k Race Weekend Sunrise Yoga - Sunday Morning Refresh and revitalize with Sunrise Yoga. Awaken your mind and body during a sunrise yoga session, led by Tom Leverett of Del Sol Yoga, where anyone from beginner to intermediate levels can... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2014 at Mary Makes Dinner
If I had to describe myself based on a defining skill, I'd have to say that I'm an idea person at heart. Nothing really gets me going like a good brainstorming session. My husband shares the same over-active imagination. We've spent many a road trip engineering make-believe business plans, inventing impossible machines, or dreaming up imaginary characters and stories. When it comes to food, coming up with new ideas can be trickier than you might think. Thanks to the internet, it seems like almost everything has been done before. So when I come up with something new, I try to stay away from Google while I'm working things out. Nothing takes the winds out of my sails like finding out that my great new idea has been done umpteen times before. This soup, for example, was a fairly simple thing, but its newness gave me a thrill. I steamed the squash, pushed it through a food mill, then whisked it together with chicken broth and miso paste. I tasted it, then decided to add a little salt and a splash of sesame oil. Developing this recipe wasn't rocket science, but with my belly full of warm soup I felt kind... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2014 at Mary Makes Dinner
A little ways back I talked about my decision to stop eating an exclusively vegetarian diet. This wasn't an easy choice for me, and I've spent a lot of time struggling with how I felt about making that change. One thing that helped me feel better about it was making the decision to stop buying factory-farmed meat. If I was going to continue being carnivorous, I wanted to do so in a way that I felt was still somewhat environmentally and ethically conscious. The trouble is that buying ethically raised meat can get expensive - really expensive. Just take a look at the price tag on an organic grass-fed steak next time you visit the grocery store. Scott is in retail and I'm a writer. While we're far from paupers, we're not super wealthy either, which makes eating well within a reasonable budget kind of tricky. I shopped around, and considered a few different options before making a plan. Wheatsville, a local food co-op here in Austin offers surprisingly reasonable prices on ethically raised meat and poultry. Becoming a co-op member can save you even more. Another option I entertained was going in on a cow-share. If you've got the... Continue reading
Posted Sep 4, 2014 at Mary Makes Dinner
I was a little nervous about the whole thing. What if I dropped him? What if I slipped? What if my nudity somehow traumatized him? These were my fears as I filled up the tub, but as soon as his little feet touched the water they were erased. His face... Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2014 at Mary Makes Babies
Last week the folks over at Ulysses Press hooked me up with a copy of Mason Jar Salads and More: 50 Layered Lunches to Grab and Go . At first glance, I thought the concept was a little silly. I mean, do we really need to put EVERYTHING in mason jars? But when I read the introduction it made me stop for a moment and consider Juliana's reasoning. It actually makes perfect sense to pack salads ahead of time in glass jars. First off, salads in jars are visually appealing - which really helps boost morale when you are looking at a whole week of salads for lunch. (We all know that we'd really rather be looking at five giant sandwiches - at least I would.) Packing the ingredients tightly, and in a thoughtful order, helps keep the ingredients fresh and crisp, a challenge for salads made ahead of time. Jar salads also provide a clever solution for the problem of portable dressing. Rather than carrying around an extra container or stashing a bottle of dressing at the office, you can layer the dressing into the jar on the very bottom where it won't soggy up the greens. So, after... Continue reading
Posted Aug 25, 2014 at Mary Makes Dinner
I've been invited to participate in the Fit Foodie 5k Race Weekend this September here in Austin. Of course, for me it will be a bit more like the Slightly Chubby Foodie 5k Walk. While I did my best to keep fit during my pregnancy with loads of walking and swimming, it's been well over a year since the last time I attempted to jog. But even as a imperfectly fit foodie, this race is pretty appealing. First of all, it's short! I can walk the whole thing, and if the temperature is right, I'll push a stroller to legitimize my slothful pace. There's also a cocktail party the night before and a mini food-fest at the finish line! On top of all that, there will be chef demos, fitness demos, boot camp, and yoga! It's a whole weekend of eating, drinking, and working off the fun. The Fit Foodie Run also benefits a great cause. 10% of tickets sales go to City of Hope, a leading research center for cancer, diabetes, and other life-threatening diseases. Here's a rundown of the weekend's events: Friday September 12 Light Up The Night VIP Cocktail Party Saturday, Septermber 13 Fit Foodie 5K Love... Continue reading
Posted Aug 22, 2014 at Mary Makes Dinner
The Diagnosis After almost three months of drama it has finally been established that little Charlie-Boy had not just one tongue tie - but two! That means that the frenulum (that little flap of skin that holds your lip and tongue to your mouth) is too short for him to... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2014 at Mary Makes Babies