Rachel and I have some exciting news! Our publisher Zondervan is generously offering a fabulous “two-fer” deal. If you somehow missed out on our first book We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook–the inspiration for this blog–or have been wanting to share a copy with a friend, you can get both We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook and our new book Nourished right now for the price of one!
All of the details and purchase links to all major retailers can be found here on Zondervan’s website. Once you order Nourished, simply follow the steps on the BookShout FAQ page to get your free ebook. Your copy of Nourished will ship (or show up on your ereader) on January 6.
Word of mouth is and always will be the best form of marketing, so we would be so grateful if you would share this offer with your friends.
While we’re on the subject, if you’ve read We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook and haven’t already posted a review on Amazon, BN.com, or Goodreads, now would be a great time to add a review too!
With humor, honesty and faith Becky Johnson and her daughter Rachel Randolph determine to tackle the stuff that is stressing them out, once and for all. From interviews with friends and lots of research they came up with The Ten Most Common Stressors That Mess with a Woman’s Mind: daily challenges that routinely steal her sense of peace and joy. Together Becky and Rachel cook up a plan to live a less depleted and more nourished life. Opposites in many ways mom and daughter share their successes and failures as they make peace with their imperfect bodies, create living spaces they love, get wiser in their relationships, tame jam-packed schedules, settle into God’s love, and more. In short, they stumble and journey together toward a life that better nourishes them – body, mind, soul and spirit.
Published by Zondervan, January 2015.
Becky Johnson and her daughter Rachel Randolph come from a long line of laughter. The female side of their family tree is dotted with funny storytellers, prolific authors, hospitable home cooks, and champion chatters. In We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook, Becky—a butter and bacon loving mama—and Rachel—a vegan bean eating daughter—share stories of their crazy, wonderful, and sometimes challenging lives as Rachel becomes a mother herself. Becky is messy; Rachel craves order. Becky forgets what month it is; Rachel is an organizational genius. (At least before baby arrives.) Sprinkled throughout are the lip-smacking, nourishing recipes they love to make and share. From food for a family reunion of thirty, to lunch for a party of one in a high chair, to a hot meal for a sick friend, the authors demonstrate grace, acceptance, and love to others through the bonding gifts of humor, attentive listening, and cooking … whether diners prefer beef or lentils in their stew.
Published by Zondervan, August 2013.
One of Jackson’s first phrases was “Hair back.” Before this, he would point to my hair and just say, “Back. Back.” And now, still, at 2 1/2, he cares just as much. We have a morning ritual. I come in his room and lean over his crib and say “Good morning baby. How was your night?” And he responds with one of two phrases. He’ll either say with a disappointed, slightly surprised look, as if he can’t believe we are still going over this, “Put your hair up, mommy,” or with a smile of approval and gratitude, he’ll exclaim “Your hair’s up!”
Yesterday we went through this conversation again after a breakfast of blueberry waffles (recipe to come soon). He asked me out of the blue, “Is daddy going to pick me up from school tomorrow.” “No, I will, like I always do,” I told him. “And you’ll wear your hair up?” he asked. (Seriously? I thought I had at least another year or two before he cared what I looked like in front of his school friends! What kind of pressure is being put on two year olds these days?)
Tuesday I wore my hair down, but before cooking dinner I went to my room to put it up. Jackson and I bumped into each other as I was walking out of the room. He stumbled backwards, looked up and grinned sheepishly, almost blushing, “You put your hair up for me.” And then I knelt down to my knees, looked him in the eyes and asked, “Do you like when I wear my hair up?” “Yes, I like it.” “Then yes, it was for you. Thank you for thinking I look pretty with my hair up.”
You see, wearing my hair up is the tell-tale sign that I haven’t washed my hair today. It says I’ve been too busy to stop and take care of myself or that I don’t value my appearance. Every mom book out there suggests, “Even if you can’t do it all, at the very least, take a shower, wash your hair and get dressed for the day.” This is bare minimum self-care 101 folks…and I so often don’t get to it.
But Jackson sees the mop of curls wrapped up and twisted in a messy pile on top of my head as beautiful. That messy updo is the sign of a lady who spent breakfast sitting across from her son telling him made up stories about his Adventures on the Construction Site. It’s the sign of a woman who, on at least a weekly basis, snoozes her alarm because her boy woke up asking to sleep in mommy’s bed and she doesn’t want to wake him. It’s evidence she spent her morning pretending to fix the toy weedeater (that isn’t actually broken), instead of leaving him to play alone while she showered.
In reality, it probably all began because he didn’t like how my hair tickled his face when I rocked him as a baby or because on a bad hair day, I closely resemble Medusa. A few days ago, a picture of Prince was up on the tv screen, and he told me matter of factly, sure as could be, “That’s a monster.” We had a talk about all of God’s people being beautiful…but in truth, I might actually terrify him with my wild curls coming out of my head like tentacles looking for prey. Either way, it’s nice to be looked at in awe in my natural too tired for style mama state.
He loves my hair up.
When I worked at the Olive Garden in college, the biggest temptation was the bread drawer, the place where the fresh-out-of-the-oven garlicky bread sticks keep warm until they are to be swaddled in cloth like little dough baby Jesuses and placed in a basket, then delivered to anxious guests alongside a family-sized salad with large clumsy tongs.
Here’s a little server secret: to maximize your salad and breadstick dining pleasure, don’t bother asking for extra dressing or scooping up the last bit swimming at the bottom of the salad bowl. The real indulgence comes in dipping them into a boat of alfredo sauce, it’s a combination you won’t long forget. And the only thing it will cost you is $2.50, 380 calories and 35 grams of fat! Yeah sorry….total buzz kill. But good news is ahead.
This morning, an idea for a simple garlic cream sauce recipe popped into my head. It sounded so easy that right there at 10am, I whipped it up in my Vitamix. And when I opened the blender top ten minutes later, the steaming creamy sauce brought me right back to my shifts at the OG. The smell of garlic filling the air as you opened the bread drawer and winked to the cook for a little ramekin of alfredo. The combination so naughty, yet so irresistible. Hungry servers gathered around to share the quick indulgence, all the while looking out of the corner of our eyes to make sure a manager wasn’t swinging through the kitchen door or the skinny girl with self-control wasn’t looking down on us with judgement.
Somehow this sauce captures that naughty thrilling indulgence – the taste of garlic and cream dancing on your tastebud – but it’s oh so right in so many ways. No oil, no dairy, no cholestorol, just healthy fats from cashews. And with a rich creamy sauce like this, who really needs a refined white flour breadstick to dunk in it? Serve it over whole wheat pasta or vegetables or dip your favorite toasted whole grain baguette in it and you’ll be every bit as satisfied. It’s mind blowingly delicious and the easiest cream sauce I’ve made yet. I see many spin-offs of this in my future. Add a little cayenne for some heat, roast the garlic, garnish with some basil to brighten it up for spring, maybe even add some spinach and artichokes and cook it down to a thick appetizer dip. Oh the potential!
Note: I did not pre-saute the garlic, so it has a little bit of that raw garlic bite…that will stay the evening with you. I am a sucker for garlic, but if you like your garlic a little more milder and not as an overnight guest, then you may want to mince and saute it in a touch of water or olive oil before adding it in.
Garlic Cashew Cream Sauce
Recipe from http://www.laughcrycook.com
Makes enough for 16 ounces of cooked pasta (about four large servings)
1 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (available at health markets)
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large or 3-4 small garlic cloves
2 teaspoons cornstarch (flour will probably work too, but you’ll probably need 3-4 teaspoons)
2 cups milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
4 teaspoons lemon juice
Vitamix or High-Speed Blender Directions
1. Blend cashews, nutritional yeast, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt into a powder. Scrape corners down.
2. Add garlic, cornstarch, 1/2 of milk. Blend until combined.
3. Add remaining milk and blend on high speed until hot and steamy (about five to seven minutes) and to the thickness desired.
4. Blend in lemon juice and check for seasoning. Add more salt if desired.
5. Serve over pasta or vegetables or as a dipping sauce for bread. Sprinkle individual servings with a touch of pepper.
Vitamix is having a sale on their reconditioned models this month (January 2014). I bought the standard reconditioned model in November when they had the same sale and have officially fallen into the “How did I ever live without it?!” camp. You can use the code 06-009318 at Vitamix.com to get free shipping and to help support Laugh, Cry, Cook.
Food Processor/Stove Top Instructions
1. In a food processor blend cashews, nutritional yeast, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt into a powder. Scrape down sides as needed.
2. Mince garlic finely or use microplaner to grate into food processor.
3. Stir cornstarch into 1cup of milk. Add to food processor and blend until well combined.
3. Add remaining milk. Blend again.
4. Transfer to stovetop sauce pan and heat on medium to medium high, stirring often until it is heated through and reached the desired consistency (like a thick alfredo sauce).
4. Stir in lemon juice and check for seasoning. Add more salt if desired.
5. Serve over pasta or vegetables or as a dipping sauce for bread. Sprinkle individual servings with a touch of pepper.
Teachers around the U.S are counting down those last few days of school. Christmas break is just a couple of days away. They made it. And you know what they deserve? To CELEBRATE!
My son is 2 1/2. His Mother’s Day Out teachers may not have to deal with testing or teenage attitudes…but they help potty train eleven children…and they are better at it than I am with one child. They do pinterest worthy activities EVERY class day. They taught my child his colors, when all summer long EVERYTHING was blue. I seriously thought he was color blind…but no. They text me pictures of my son at sensory stations and my mother-guilt for not doing enough of these activites at home is lessened. They are my Pinterest arms and legs. My son will not grow up in a generation of Pin Kids and be the only one who never played in a “sensory bin.” Thank you Mrs. H and Mrs. T!
So cheers to teachers everywhere. If you are a teacher, I hope someone is celebrating you this week…and if not, I raise my glass to you. Here’s what my son’s teachers and his school’s director are getting from The Randolphs this year. It’s not expensive, but I hope it expresses how grateful we are for them…because we totally are!
The makings of pomegranate spritzers and some delicious dark chocolate covered almonds (I bought the Archer’s brand from Target. They are dairy-free and dangerously tasty). I had these little gratitude stones from one of my old clients Michele Wahlder. She had them made up to go with her book Alphatudes: The Alphabet of Gratitude, which also makes an absolutely beautiful gift or addition to a gift basket.
Homemade Simple Syrup is so easy and CHEAP, but adds a nice homemade touch to this gift. Simply boil equal parts sugar and water until the sugar dissolves. I did one cup of each and filled three medium sized baby food jars. (If I’d thought ahead, I’d have bought small mason jars–so much cuter–but I went with what I had). You can sweeten any drink (iced tea, cocktails, coffee) with simple syrup without leaving undissolved granules of sugar in the bottom. It’s also the perfect stocking stuffer for the sweet tea lovers in your life.
You can also make all sorts of flavored simple syrups for a special touch by adding things like peeled ginger, jalapeno, orange peel, mint, or basil. Unflavored syrups will keep for about a month in the refrigerator. Most flavored will keep for 2-3 weeks. Just toss it when it gets cloudy.
Makes one drink
2 ounces pomegranate juice
2 ounces sparkling water
.5 – 1 ounce simple syrup (see below for recipe)
Optional: 1.5 ounces of white rum or vodka
Wedge of Lemon
Pour all ingredients into a martini glass. Squeeze in lemon wedge. Give it a gentle stir. Add some ice cubes if needed. Serve. (You can shake the pomegranate juice, optional rum or vodka, and simple syrup in a shaker with ice and then top with sparkling water and lemon if you’re bothered by a few cubes of ice in your martini glass.)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Put sugar and water in a pan. Bring to boil. Boil until the sugar dissolves. Only takes a few seconds. Remove from heat. Let cool. (You can also just put sugar and water in a jar and shake, shake, shake until it dissolves.) Store in refrigerator for up to one month or until it gets cloudy.
We have had several friends ask if they could get an autographed copy of We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook as a Christmas gift. Why, we would love to….thank you for asking!
And since you asked so nicely, we’ll even gift wrap it if you like.
Autographed, wrapped copies of We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook make the perfect Christmas gift for teachers, family members, girlfriends, or cooks. Funny, uplifting and warm-hearted memoir with recipes at the end of each chapter.
To order a signed copy, simply send us payment via paypal. Each book is $12 + $4 each for taxes and shipping & handling. (If ordering more than three copies to one address, send us an email and we’ll work out a lower shipping rate for you.)
Go to www.paypal.com >> Send money >> Send money online>>Buy something>>Fill in amount ($16 for one book, $32 for two)>>Send to laughcrycook (at) yahoo (dot) com (write in email format). Make sure the from email is an account you check regularly. You will be prompted to log in or create a free account if you haven’t done so already.
Once you send payment, we’ll send you a confirmation email within 12 hours to coordinate personalization, gift wrapping, and shipping instructions. If you don’t hear from us, check your spam folder or send us an email at laughcrycook (at) yahoo (dot) com.
Thank you so much to those who have asked us to sign a copy of We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook for their friends and family (or themselves). That is the highest compliment and greatest gift to us!
Trying to shop for a foodie friend or just planning your own list and not sure what kitchen item you might want or need next? These are some of my go-to, use almost daily, wouldn’t want to be without them items.
Trader Joe’s Olive Oil with Pour Spout – I have bought at least six olive oil pour spout jars over the years and every one of them has failed me. The cork crumbled into the oil, the plastic spout slipped out every time I poured, the handle broke, the spout clogged… Recently, I tried the $7.99 bottle of Trader Joe’s olive oil. At __ ounces, that’s a fantastic deal. And the best part–the spout that comes with it stays put, doesn’t fall apart, doesn’t slip out! It isn’t as pretty as my others, but it’s not an eyesore either. And at that price, I don’t even have to mess with refills. I can just buy another bottle.
Cute Easy Pour Spice Jars – I found these jars at a closeout sale at the container store Outlet. Of course I did. And of course, I immediately regretted not buying more. I love the three generous pour options on this set. It’s too generous for the table, but when I’m cooking, I can pour a teaspoon or two of salt easily without breaking out the big carton of Morton’s like I used to. I keep salt, pepper, and seasoning salt in them because I tend to reach for those most often when cooking. But I’d love one for my nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder. I have a lot of favs! I found this set from IKEA that while not quite as easy because you have to pop open the top, they are cute enough to leave on the counter and cheap. These are pretty too. I might have to snag a set of them for the seasonings I tend to measure out, like cumin and chili powder. Oh and these are nice as well but pricier. They have the twist lids I prefer, so if you don’t close them, they don’t look sloppy.
Come Apart Kitchen Sheers – I use these every day for cutting up toddler food, to clipping flower stems, to cutting pizza. I have a red pair and black pair. I used to designate the red ones for meat (great for cutting chicken into strips and such) and the black for everything else–just so I never accidentally cross contaminated anything. Now I don’t need to do that since we don’t eat meat, but I still love having two pairs because I use them so often.
Ikea Stainless Mixing Bowls – I have a lot of pretty (and pricey) mixing bowls, but I reach for these 95% of the time. They are lightweight, easy to clean, easy to store, unbreakable. Love them!! I have two really big ones, two medium ones and four small ones. The really big ones are wonderful for kale salads or kale chips. Plenty of room to toss a head or two of kale around in some seasoning or dressing.
Pampered Chef Cutting Board – I’m sure there are other great cutting boards out there, but of the ones I have, this is my favorite. It’s simple, dishwasher safe, grips well to the counter so it never slides out from under me.
Old Fashion Popcorn Maker – I wish we didn’t love this little guy so much…but we do! Jared’s mom bought him this for Christmas last year. I never liked popcorn and didn’t understand why Jared’s family loved it so much. But I’d never made fresh popped popcorn. Sprinkled with a little nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, onion powder, and seasoning salt…it’s so good.
Rice Maker – I actually have a cheaper model, a $15 Rival model from Wal-Mart I think (probably on par with the $19 Black & Decker model on Amazon). It is fine. It would make a great under $20 gift. I use it all the time…but it’s not perfect. It sticks some and doesn’t have different settings for brown rice, so it’s a bit of a guessing game. If I were to buy one now, I’d buy this model. I mostly use it for quinoa and brown rice, but apparently you can cook all kinds of things in a rice maker. Who knew?
Salad Spinner – Every healthy kitchen needs a salad spinner, in my opinion. Washing and drying lettuce without it is a pain…and when something is a pain, you’re less likely to do it (and therefore eat it). Bagged lettuces have their place, but other than delicate lettuces like baby spinach, I generally prefer buying heartier lettuces like kale or romaine by the head. A salad spinner makes it a cinch to wash, dry, and store for later use. It’s also perfect for washing and drying herbs like parsley and cilantro. The OXO brand is my favorite. If you shop sales, you can find a good deal on it. I found one last year at Kohl’s for $20 with a sale and a coupon.
Cuisinart Stainless Steel 3.5-quart Saute Pan – I wanted a set of heavy-bottomed stainless steel pans last year for Christmas to replace my old warped pans that heat unevenly on my glass stove top, but I couldn’t decide which set to buy so I bought this one pan at a steep discount from Home Goods to see if I liked it (and stainless in general). I could not love this pan more. I use it every day. I plan on completing the set at some point, but if you just want to add one good pan to your collection this year, this is a great starting point. Mine is a different model number and came with a glass lid, but I think this one is basically the same thing.
Baby Bullet or Magic Bullet – I received this as a gift for a baby shower. I already had the Cuisinart food processor and a blender and thought I wouldn’t need a little one. Plus, I had a Magic Bullet years ago and the motor burnt out and I just never felt like it did a good job at blending. I think I had a dud…or I just expected too much out of it as it was my only blender at the time. But I use the Baby Bullet all the time now. I blend up a can of black beans to make quick refried beans, make quick small batches of white bean dip or hummus in it, blend salad dressings, and of course, you can blend up a little bit of dinner to make a quick meal for baby too. I underestimated this little guy. We even bring it with us on vacation. (I will say that I hated the baby food freezer system. I much preferred regular ice cube trays, but Jackson has fun playing with it, so there’s that.)
Vitamix – I finally got a Vitamix…and I’m a believer! Smoothies and soups and cashew queso and banana soft serve…oh my! I could do all of these with my blender and food processor…but Vitamix does it better and faster. I bought the refurbished model during their November sale. Today is the last day for that sale. If you use my affiliate promo code 06-009318, you’ll get free shipping anytime. I believe they are doing free shipping right now on all orders for the holidays, but if you use my code anyway, I’d be super grateful as I’ll earn a little kickback to put toward expenses related to running this blog.
Luca and Company’s Little Helper FunPod – I talk about the FunPod all the time. As a mom, this is my absolute favorite kitchen product. I could never get all the cooking I do done without it. It safely elevates children to counter height so they can help in the kitchen or watch you cook, or play in the sink independently while you make dinner. Total lifesaver for toddler moms and dads (and Grandmas too).
What are your favorite kitchen items?!
I’m on the lookout for a better set of measuring cups and spoons and a go-to water bottle for sipping on around the house and throw in my bag or purse when I’m out and about.
I was thinking of doing a favorite things for little boys post too. Would anyone be interested in seeing some of Jackson’s favs (or my favs for him)?