Monday, December 19, 2011
Thanks, Becky, for this cool decorative craft that kept us busy and knee-deep in glitter for days. A trip to Michaels, some fishing line, some marker and glitter, some jingle bells, and viola! The kids are excited about the tree and the cookies! And we had to do the Target dollar spot festive headgear.
Now that I'm selling out on the locavore life for the winter (I just don't have the energy for it this year), I'm back to shopping at Produce Junction and paying next to nothing for exotic produce.
I thought I'd share the tip a few years ago from some internet site about cooking artichokes, written for us east coasters with no idea what to do with them. It said to trim the pointy edges off and then cook them for 20 minutes with a half lemon, a garlic clove, salt, and a bay leaf. I really like the flavor!
So, I must say up front, making marmalade, for me, was so not worth it. I was feeling pressure, mostly imaginary, as the principal's wife, to come up with some creative Christmas gift for the teachers at Owen's school. I think it was about trying to live up to some ideal I'll never live up to. Anyway, not having a clue about making marmalade, I thought it would be the perfect gift to make.
I should have been clued in by the fact that the marmalade recipes I was finding were for a few pint jars. Here's why! It takes so long to peel the oranges with a peeler, peel the membranes off of the orange, slice the zest into thin ribbons . . . to make 15 jars, like I did, took about 10 hours. And then, to make matters worse, I just couldn't wait any longer for it to thicken, so I jarred hopefully. And found in the morning that I'd made orange syrup. Pretty, tasty, time-intensive orange syrup.
I must say, though, that it was lovely on greek yogurt.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Nikki's Healthy Cookie Recipe
You can use unsweetened carob, or grain sweetened chocolate chips, or do what I did and chop up 2/3 of a bar of Scharffen berger 70%. I sort-of shaved half the bar with a knife and then cut the rest into bigger chip-sized chunks. You can make your own almond meal by pulsing almonds in a food processor until it is the texture of sand - don't go too far or you'll end up with almond butter. And lastly, the coconut oil works beautifully here, just be sure to warm it a bit - enough that it is no longer solid, which makes it easier to incorporate into the bananas. If you have gluten allergies, seek out GF oats.
3 large, ripe bananas, well mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut oil, barely warm - so it isn't solid (or alternately, olive oil)
2 cups rolled oats
2/3 cup almond meal
1/3 cup coconut, finely shredded & unsweetened
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 - 7 ounces chocolate chips or dark chocolate bar chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, racks in the top third.
In a large bowl combine the bananas, vanilla extract, and coconut oil. Set aside. In another bowl whisk together the oats, almond meal, shredded coconut, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks/chips.The dough is a bit looser than a standard cookie dough, don't worry about it. Drop dollops of the dough, each about 2 teaspoons in size, an inch apart, onto a parchment (or Silpat) lined baking sheet. Bake for 12 - 14 minutes. I baked these as long as possible without burning the bottoms and they were perfect - just shy of 15 minutes seems to be about right in my oven.
Makes about 3 dozen bite-sized cookies.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Friday, December 2, 2011
So I thought I'd put a few more kid pictures on here. I promise I did not put them up to this to exploit them on my blog. They really were
this cute for their own enjoyment.
Simple Cranberry Sauce Recipe:Start your water bath and have sterilized jars ready.Combine4 c water,4 c sugar, and8 c cranberriesPut in a dutch oven and boil till they "pop." (You'll know, trust me.)They need to hard boil for 10-15 min. You can add OJ or orange zest (I didn't), and if you're canning, leave 1/4" headspace at the top and waterbath can for 15 minutes (Ball's directions).
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Nathan's Brussel SproutsChop brussel sprouts into quarters (don't worry if some of the leaves come loose, loose leaves are good).Saute in butter (with a few teaspoons of broth if you have any on hand).Just before the sprouts look done (5 to 8 min.) add some capers and lemon juice.Salt and pepper to taste.
Friday, November 18, 2011
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Sunday, October 30, 2011
I'm finally getting my Halloween post up. Our internet was down since Wednesday (and I was a few days later than I wanted to be anyway). So now I can share our kid pictures, pumpkin recipes, and costumes.
Friday, October 28, 2011
Sunday, October 23, 2011
I thought these pictures were just a little too cute to keep to myself! :)
Monday, October 17, 2011
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Here's what I did, to anyone who's interested:
Butternut Squash-Pesto Ziti with Eggplant
Pre-heat oven to 375 (you could do 350, I'm just always running late and push it a little higher).
Roast a butternut squash. I must admit I don't actually know what kind of squash I used. It was that mystery volunteer squash that appeared in my garden, but it was in a similar taste family to butternut. I did this step beforehand.
Cook a package of ziti or penne noodles.
Make pesto: I used olive oil, basil, kale, marjoram, cashews, almonds, parmesan cheese, salt, and garlic.
Grill thin slices of eggplant (to put on the top of the completed dish).
Take the squash out of the shell, cut it up into small pieces, and mix with the pesto and a container of ricotta.
Add a pint of tomato sauce, a quart of diced tomatoes, and an egg to the pesto/ricotta mix.
Stir in the ziti noodles.
Cover the top with mozzarella. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Bake at 350 (or 375 if you're in a hurry, like I was) about 45 min. to an hour.
I actually decided that the ziti noodles were better with the pesto than lasagna would be, don't know if that's true, just a feeling I had. A very tasty treat, all told.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Wish me luck!
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Abigail is gearing up for when it's her turn. She loaded up her toys into a backpack the other day and said, "Bye, bye." Pretty adorable, I thought.
1) I'd actually have to plan the meal beforehand,
2) I'd have to package all of these little portions of things somehow, and
3) Micah's friends would think his lunches were weird.
So a few things really helped, and, so far, I'm still pretty excited about how it's going. (It is still September, so check back with me in a few months.)
The first thing that really helped was a ridiculously expensive lunch bag/bento box system from laptoplunches.com. They have a bag that holds a plastic box (BPA free) with nested containers (some with, some without, lids). Here's Micah's lunch for tomorrow, with the lovely little containers to fill that I just knew would inspire me to pack healthy sides (for the simple fact that I can't send three things, it looks like I forgot something).
As I hoped, Micah thinks his lunch bag is super-cool, which I hope balances out the fact that his lunches are healthy-dorky. Twinkies may have more street cred than broccoli (they used that term on a sitcom tonight, not an original idea).
Also, I didn't have to search wildly for lids (what on earth happens to all of them??????) like I do when I use our regular plastic containers. I mean, you can't miss the neon green.
The other thing that is helping is that the kids and I brainstormed a list of foods for lunch, and that has helped keep me from doing the same thing every day. Here's some of our list ideas:
nutsI don't know why, but I really think the actual lunch box frees me up from wanting to just do sandwich, apple, carrots every day . . .
carrots with peanut butter
crackers with hummus
chips with salsa
soy beans in shells
peas in shell
chick peas or black beans
sunflower seeds with raisins
tomato, basil, mozzarella
. . . "not that there's anything wrong with that." --Seinfeld
What are your favorite foods to put in a kid's lunchbox--or your own? :)
Friday, September 9, 2011
I picked it. I have no idea what it is. I mean, I think it's a winter squash. But what if it's a gourd that I just let get way too big? I'm thinking I'll cook it up and see. But I'll wait a few days. I'll see if any of you have any strong feelings as to whether it's a squash or a gourd.
Monday, September 5, 2011
So the main reason I haven't been blogging (or cleaning, or anything else deemed non-essential) is that I've been canning pretty much all the livelong day. It stated with tomatoes (diced and cooked) this year. Then I moved on to hot peppers, then peaches, then back to tomatoes (sauce), then applesauce, and then back to tomatoes again. I canned four bushels of tomatoes (which is about eight full computer boxes worth), which is about twice as much as last year and perhaps a little more than I can even use. That took a long time. There were four different days of heavy tomato preservation. At least for my last batch the tomatoes were tiny and my mom told me of a friend who blends her tomatoes whole and then cooks them and then cans them. A very speedy method. The only thing that took any time at all with that batch was cutting them in half and sniffing them (some looked fine but were rotten inside). I added lemon juice this year to my jars when I remembered (which was, sadly, only a little better than half the time). Lemon is supposed to ensure that the tomatoes are acidic enough to can since farmers have started to grow some lower acid tomatoes in recent decades (though, as my mom pointed out, she canned without it for her whole life).
Peaches became a bit of an obsession. I froze some, then set about to make jam. I gotta say, making jam is no joke. My first attempt based on an internet site was to slice the peaches and that batch resulted in a peach syrup with slices of peach floating in it. That we'll use as a yogurt topping. The next batch I cooked in the crock pot, and that batch turned dark brown: viola! Peach butter!
The next batch also turned too dark, so I made those into peach leather. I found a good recipe for that on A Sonoma Garden. That would have been awesome if I hadn't started talking and accidentally left the oven turned on (you're supposed to heat the oven and then turn it off right away) and burnt them a little. Eventually I managed two good batches of peach jam. Which translates to about 30 jars of jam. We should be pretty set in the peach jam department.
Next came applesauce. I made pretty much of that, too. Thankfully, my parents came one day last week and peeled like the wind (I'm a pretty inept peeler compared to my farmer's daughter mother), which is the only way I made it through my four boxes of apples.
Finally, I did a small batch of red raspberry jam.
And now I'm done until next week when the farmer gives me some pears. I'm out of jars, so that should slow me down a little. I'll need to get my red peppers and roast and freeze those. And I did get my zucchini grated and frozen (for baking). I'm feeling pretty good, and ready to rejoin the world. :)
Friday, September 2, 2011
So my son was working on a notebook put out by Creativity for Kids called "How do you Doodle?" The first page has a black and white simple sketch of a bathroom mirror and tile wall with toothbrushes and soap on the sink. The child is instructed, "Draw the one who is looking back at you." So I read that to Micah and told him he was supposed pretend he was looking in the mirror and draw himself. Later I saw that this is what her drew in his book . . . and it blew me away.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
So we're in the red finally. We've got ripe tomatoes. We've had to pull most of the zucchini (except a few "8 Ball" variety which I think are not really zucchinis but look like little round ones--and I did actually find a few squash bugs on those so I'm sure their days are numbered) and all of the cucumbers (how sad is that?!).
The star of the season has definitely been the swiss chard and kale bed this year. Beautiful. So beautiful. I pick a bunch once or twice a week to steam and blend for Abigail (the poor girl--I mean the lucky girl, obviously--gets it added to everything from her morning oatmeal to her PBJ sandwiches). And then sometimes I saute some for supper. Tonight we had sauteed chard with our split peas and sausage and rice, and it just made the meal. Even Abigail wolfed it down, and she is way pickier than the boys ever were.
Red beets are some of my new favorite vegetables (up from the bottom of my list) because I found an awesome way to prepare them. I don't know if I mentioned this on my blog before, but Mollie Katzen's book was a gift from my aunt and I cannot tell you how amazing her recipe for "Complete Beets" is. She has you boil the bottoms and then toss them (cut up in segments) in with the sauteed greens. They are amazing. I had grown a few in early summer, but I was sad I didn't have more planted once I tasted it. In honor of that recipe, I planted a whole slew of red beets for my fall garden. Complete beets, here we come!
The next exciting feature of my garden will be the red raspberries. I know I mentioned my black raspberries, I was totally enamored with those in July. But I have to say, I may be just as excited in a few months to be eating the red ones. I almost pulled out the red raspberry plant I had when I got my black ones. I was afraid that I'd end up having them cross-pollinate, and my black ones were my priority. But I didn't get any blooms last year on the red when the black were in bloom, so I let the plant stay. The trick this year (since the canes were bigger and healthier) was to make sure I pinched off the few flowers it got earlier in the summer. That way I could avoid the cross-pollinating and also guarantee a better fall crop of raspberries. I got a few the last couple of days, but it looks like late September we should really get some. I will be sure to include pictures. Micah said today that the red ones are even better than the black ones. But I think the fruit just coming into season always seems like the sweetest fruit. That's my favorite part about seasonal eating.