My four year-old nephew Nicholas has been visiting this summer from San Diego. During his stay in Tucson, we’ve had so much fun together. With lots of pool time, he’s been learning to swim, we’ve been practicing our Italian together (Nicky the pesce!), and he even created his first song, inspired by a recent thunderstorm.
Before his return to California this week, we asked Nicky what he thought about spending a night at Aunt Sharon and Uncle Seth’s house. He liked the idea, and together we planned the activities. First, we baked a cake together using Cherrybrook Kitchen mix. Then we had a “movie theater night” with air-popped popcorn (drizzled with Earth Balance); Nicky shared his popcorn with his canine cousins Otis and Galileo while we all watched Tangled. After the movie, the whole family piled onto the bed for storytime — we read Olivia, the story of a little pig with big dreams.
In the morning, we made mochi for breakfast. Mochi is a kind of Japanese rice cake: you can buy a small block of mochi, made by Grainassance, at Whole Foods. Although Alicia Silverstone has a great recipe for Pan-Fried Mochi in her book The Kind Diet, we baked the mochi in the oven because I thought it would be fun for Nicky to watch how, in a matter of minutes, the squares of dough puff up like magic. We kept the oven light on for him to see.
To make the breakfast experience extra fun, I put out little dipping bowls of agave nectar, brown rice syrup, and maple syrup. Mochi-dipping was a hit!