Sweet success - FamilyEducation

Sweet success

January 27,2012
Professor Mom
Aliki McElreath

Aliki is a writer and college English teacher. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, two children (ages seven and ten), a dog, a cat, a rabbit, and too many fish.

T. had her first solo performance at school yesterday. She even slept in curlers the night before, so she could have real ringlets for the Big Day. Her class has been working on an "Expressions" project the past few weeks. The assignment was to pick a motto that best describes their values, write up a paragraph describing the motto, and telling why it is important to them, and then they could pick an artistic way to express themselves--through art, music, skits, dance, etc. T. saw the musical Annie (hence the wish for curly hair) on DVD over Christmas and fell in love with the story, and the song "Tomorrow." I think she loves it because the sentiment behind the song so matches her personality: think about tomorrow, look forward to the new day, and don't get weighed down by what goes wrong today. Her motto she picked was: "Don't let today take away your tomorrow" which is her creative variation on my favorite one: "Don't let yesterday take up too much of today"--advice I have to work hard at implementing in my own life. 

T. chose to sing the song "Tomorrow" for her Expressions project, and she's been practicing it for weeks now. L., in true big brother fashion, has gotten pretty good at running from the room with his hands over his ears as soon as he hears the first note of the song. I was so proud of T. yesterday for sitting nervously through over an hour of other children's performances, before she got to stand up on that stage on her own. I was so proud of her for having the courage to sing out the words of the song, without any background music, in front of an audience of her peers, and way too many grown-ups and teachers. I'm not sure I would have had the courage to do that at her age.

Further proof that she is, still, the bravest soul I know.

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To celebrate her first official performance, I bought a package T.'s favorite dessert.

Technically, it can be considered a food, rather than a dessert, since you can do all kinds of amazing things with mochi, and it is vegan, and cholesterol and gluten free, too, with a very low sugar content. I discovered brown rice mochi a couple of months ago when I was looking for seitan at Whole Foods. There, on the shelf below the tempeh and tofu, were some mysterious flat square packages labeled mochi, but they were unlike the mochi I was familiar with. This mochi was a flat, hard, rubbery-looking square that I later found out you cut (with a sharp knife) into small pieces and bake in a 450 degree oven for a few minutes until they puff up into intriguing-looking shapes.

Once puffed, the mochi are chewy and melt-in-your mouth lovely, texture-wise. You can drizzle honey or agave syrup, or even maple syrup over a bowl of puffed mochi and top with chopped nuts. T. loves the mochi so much she's had leftovers heated up in the microwave for breakfast, washed down by a mug of warm soymilk. She's also had mochi for dinner, served alongside vegetables like broccoli, and even kale. I like the mochi puffs dipped in soy sauce, or a thai chili sauce, fondue-style, but our favorite way to eat them is hot out of the oven, with honey/agave syrup, and a generous sprinkling of cinnamon and chopped walnuts.

Happy Weekend!