Mother to Taj and Kai, Anna Andersen takes caretaking, which in our opinion is the heart of motherhood, to the next level. With no formal training this stay at home mom is a pro in the kitchen. She’s one of those people that intuitively knows how to create dishes that would put restaurants to shame and does it all while keeping up with her two boys. She goes above and beyond as a mother, wife and friend, and leaves everyone around her table feeling nurtured and delightfully full. We were lucky enough to spend the day with the Andersen clan watching for ourselves how Anna so effortlessly puts her skills as a mother to the test. Let’s just say anyone in a rut would leave her abode feeling beyond inspired to garden, eat raw, cook at any time of day, and serve others with a glad and generous heart.
TELL US ABOUT TAJ…
Taj is sensitive, kind and curious. His competitive and adventurous side are in full effect as he’s always gung-ho to go surfing with his dad, learn new tricks at the skate park, or play football with his friends. He’s Mr. social which is easy to do seeing he’s so well liked and a total people pleaser.
TELL US ABOUT KAI…
Kai is a quiet soul. He is one of the most loyal little humans alive and thrives on spending one-on-one time with the ones he loves, especially if it involves snuggling his mama. His thoughtful nature and concern for others make him appear wise beyond his years. But he fights me on wearing underwear which reminds me of just how little and silly he can be.
I’M SO PROUD THAT MY BOYS ARE…
confident and sensitive.
I want my boys to be proud of their achievements and the things they’ve created so I display their art and trophies in their room. It adds character to the space and gives them a sense of accomplishment.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR HOME…
We bought our house knowing it’s where we want to raise our kids. It needed some work but we decided to live in it for a year to figure out what would work out best before remodeling. We wanted the home to have a spacious feeling that opened up and reflected towards the backyard. We opened up walls to create an environment that was cozy but open, and filled with fresh air and natural light.
FAVORITE PURCHASE FOR THE HOME?
Hands down our dining table which is not so much of a purchase, seeing my crafty husband made it. I truly enjoy cooking and sharing my food with my friends and family. So finding something large enough that people could gather around was a must. Not only does it host 10 plus people but it’s a true work of art (and has held up against my groms which is no easy task).
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON COOKING…
I’m passionate about food. I love to cook – it’s my art, my hobby. To me it’s the art where I use all of my senses, and my heart and soul. Variety is the spice of life – or is it vice versa? I cook with color, emotions and spices. And I see colors in not just the ingredients but also the flavors. For example, when I need the taste of red, I’ll add sweet paprika. Or sometimes I like to add cardamom on my sticky bran muffins because it seems to open me up and triggers my creativity. When my friends and family sit down to absorb the colors, textures, flavors and all the love that I put on the table, I know that we are all on the same page.
ANY TRICKS TO ENTERTAINING?
We always love having people over. I wish I could just order pizza but that doesn’t seem to be enough for me. All we really have in our backyard to entertain is our outdoor table, fruit trees and a small little herb garden. Add in a handful of funny friends who love to hear me cackle, and my wino family members. We cook, we eat, we drink, we laugh and that’s all we need to have a good time! So I guess my trick to entertaining would be good friends.
WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION FOR MEALS?
People inspire my cooking. When someone has allergies I don’t see it as limitations but a motivation to get even more creative and widen my perspective. I love the challenge. (BUT BEWARE don’t come over when I’m mad. My meals taste horrible, just ask my hubbie, it’s one reason he wears the shirt that says “happy wife, happy life”…smart man!)
THREE MUST HAVE ITEMS FOR THE KITCHEN?
1. really good extra virgin olive oil.
2. sea salt
3. rice cooker
EVERY HOME NEEDS…
a theme song to have a proper dance party.
FAVORITE THING TO DO SANS KIDS?
This gets better with practice: I date my man. Both of us trying not to miss those little guys.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT SUMMER?
Probably the roses. My boys are home with me all day and our only plan is to take our time, to hang out and to get to know each other. During the school year, even though I’m a stay at home mom, we get so caught up in a pretty tight schedule, with crazy amounts of homework and sports, and a few play dates in between – we spend a lot of time checking things off the list which we think is essential. At the end of a long school year they’ve grown a few inches and you wonder…where did all the time go? So, summer is the time for us to just take it slow and reflect, let our minds wander while we soak in the sun and enjoy each other. And of course to stop and smell the roses.
TYPICAL SUMMER DAY FOR YOU GUYS?
We eat. The truth is we use gloomy mornings as an excuse to be lazy and make a big breakfast. Usually hash browns, turkey bacon and eggs for Taj and gulten free french toast dipper with blueberries for Kai (and that’s only the “first breakfast” sometimes in the summer we go for round two with a second breakfast). Then it’s lunch time and then off to the market.…Second half of the day is spent at the beach with our puppy or dear friends. And there are days where we just snuggle, watch movies and eat “healthy” junk food. I may gain a few pounds from doing that but at least my kids still snuggle with me.
My kids love to set up shop. They are crafty and will sell you anything from limes off of our tree to painted rocks. Kai does it for his creative outlet and Taj loves to make money – plain and simple. This is the best time for me to trick, or as you might say “encourage”, them to purge their play room and help me clean out the garage.
BEST PIECE OF ADVICE TO PASS ALONG TO MOMS…
Laugh with your kids everyday and soak it all in.
ANNA’S EASY GF OLIVE OIL CAKE
1 pinch of lavender or cardamom
1 cup of agave
3/4 cup of milk (I use the coconut milk from Trader Joes but can use just about anything)
1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I prefer Arbequina Olives)
1 lime (juice and zest)
2 jumbo eggs
2 cups gluten-free flour (I use Trader Joe’s)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
Throw everything into the blender for about 2 minutes. Lightly grease a 9″ cake pan with with olive oil and line with parchment paper. Pour batter in and bake for 45-50 minutes at 375 degrees. Once cooled, I love drizzling it with more a bit of olive oil and honey then garnishing with some sprigs of lavender. I usually serve it with some seasonal fruit.
Here are a list of my favorite spice, herb and fruit combinations to serve it with…
Spring /Summer: Lavender, Cardamom / Berries and peaches and plums
Fall / Winter: Rosemary, thyme, cardamomor ginger / Pomagranate, Figs, pear