Monday, June 29, 2015

Monday Menus-and-Garden

Our garden currently seems to be just in that perfect balance of producing a nice variety, but without overwhelming-and-tiring amounts of any one vegetable. We've recently had baked flounder covered in abundant homegrown parsley, dill, and green onions; a parmesan/ricotta pasta with tons of shelled peas as well as sugar snap pods and a zucchini; and a head of lettuce every few days. We've also had good meal-sized harvests of beets, with more to come, and green beans are just starting.

I just hope my tomatoes and peppers get a little more on 'em, my pepper plants are huge and leafy but not really fruiting, while my tomatoes are rather sad and spindly-looking. I take care of about 180 tomato plants for my farm job and they're going like gangbusters, so I'm not sure what the exact difference is, they've been on the same timeline and have the same care.

In any case, here are our meal plans for this week:

Today: Curried potatoes, salad
Tuesday: Rice pilaf with coconut milk and peas
Wednesday: Chimichangas, canned corn
Thursday: Salmon burgers, fresh fridge pickles (made today with the dozen 'picklebush' cukes we've harvested as yet)
Friday: Pizza, zucchini
Saturday: Island pork roast, veggie TBD
Sunday: Salad with sweet peppers and leftover pork, biscuits

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Long Trip

If you've wondered where I've been, I was getting ready for, and going on, and recovering from, what was probably our family's longest camping trip yet. 

It was my husband's itinerary this year and since he's an explorer-type, we went further afield and crammed more in than I might have done. Plus, it was our first trip into true bear country. On the upside, since he wanted to visit two National Parks neither of which offered campgrounds with showers, we've made some progress in terms of learning what amenities we can survive without. [Background: our pact has always been that he's willing to camp in the dirty, messy outdoors as long as there are showers. I'm less picky, which isn't necessarily a compliment to me...]

Next ambition, a family backpacking trip! But I digress. Back to this year's trip, I'll tell you a little about our best camping meals.

One that we've repeated a few times is a dutch oven recipe for breakfast, called Almost Pumpkin Pie. It's not foolproof, though, especially if weather intervenes and makes coals impossible. Also, we didn't think through the fact that cooking overnight wouldn't really jive with bear restrictions. But, through a combination of luck and finagling, we enjoyed it again this year and it's becoming a tradition.

Another camping meal that is becoming a real go-to staple for us is chilaquiles. A bag of tortilla chips, a can of enchilada sauce, a jar of roasted red peppers, a can or two of chicken, some kind of fresh diced veggie (tomato or zucchini, for example), and a bag of Mexican cheese makes for a one-pot wonder. It was originally (a few years ago) planned as a dutch oven meal, but met with the usual fate of pouring rain that night, so I made do with a skillet. Since then I've honed it a little - stirring it in a mixing bowl before putting it into a well-greased skillet, then adding the cheese on top -- and it really hits the spot. Its other point of recommendation is that, aside from the cheese, nothing needs to be kept in the cold box. I have some kids that pick out the peppers and such, but so be it, they're still getting the benefit of the flavor.

Our other unexpected favorite this year was the sandwiches on our long, long drive home. We splurged on deli salami, havarti, and provolone, knowing that we'd have used up most of the goodwill of our week by then; and since we happened to be doing the longest drive on a Sunday, we couldn't plan on our usual treat of stopping for fast food to cap off the trip. Salami is a popular rarity here anyway, but I had also chanced upon a hearty sandwich loaf of king's Hawaiian bread, and putting the two together was fantabulous. Mmm, I'm happy right now just remembering it.

 


Of course, the whole expedition had far more highlights than the food -- that wasn't the main point of the trip! -- but since this is mostly a food blog, I hope you enjoyed the images and ideas of camping and eating in the beautiful wide-open world.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Menus (Let Garden Season Begin!)

Monday: Chicken cashew stir-fry (bok choi from our garden, along with white chard and spinach from our neighbor's)
Tuesday: Panzanella salad (lettuce and the first basil from our garden)
Wednesday: Potato and sweet potato wedges, cooked spinach (from the neighbor's garden again)
Thursday: Greek salad, buttered pasta (garden lettuce, spring onions from the farm I recently started working at)
Friday: Pizza, frozen veggies
Saturday: Chili, cornbread
Sunday: Pancakes, applesauce, scrambled eggs

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Menus

Monday: Hot dogs, corn on the cob, fresh sweet potato chips 
(with a few scary moments when my inexperience at frying caused a grease fire)
Tuesday: Cuban black beans
Wednesday: Pasta salad
Thursday: Baked potatoes, Brussels sprouts
Friday: Pizza, frozen mixed veggies
Saturday: Asian chicken salad, popcorn
Sunday (it's my birthday!): Seven-layer dip, spumoni ice cream 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Monday Menus

Look! Menus actually up on Monday! I always feel better when I'm not floundering my way along at the beginning of the week.

Tonight: Mexican rice, corn on the cob
Tuesday: Caldo verde
Wednesday: Quiche lorraine, roasted carrots
Thursday: Polenta with marinara sauce, salad
Friday: Shepherd's pie
Saturday: Ni├žoise salad
Sunday: Pancakes, waffles, applesauce

Friday, May 15, 2015

Soaking and Sprouting

I've mentioned before that I really try to grind my own grains and soak whole, dry, grains and beans. I posted some of the scientific/nutrition reasons about two years ago, but I had a hard time finding more solid and clear information to share.

Well, I found some today! I ran across a wonderful blog I'd like to share, called weedemandreap, which I think is a delightful name. The image below is a link to a comprehensive, illustrated, just plain happy article on soaking and sprouting. I highly recommend reading it, just to get thinking about it, even if you don't plan on implementing a sudden change.



Monday, May 11, 2015

Flourishing: Mother's Day Prayers

I often pray for specific people I know, who happen to be mothers in many cases; but a really tender prayer I keep in my heart is for mothers generally, everywhere. I've read enough, and served enough, and let's face it, just plain lived enough to know that some of the most important effects in the whole world come through mothers -- and not just the obvious sentimental ones. 


So these are the people I pray for:

Mothers who have lost a baby or young child to death
Mothers who go home to abuse every day
Mothers looking for a mentor but can't find one
Women whose own mothers have passed on
Mothers who are completely exhausted and stretched to the breaking point
Mothers who have children lost to addiction or other harmful habits
Mothers mourning their lost selves
Mothers trying to respond with thought and kindness to difficult toddlers, teenagers, or anyone treating them rudely
Mothers who desperately want children but can't overcome the obstacles of infertility, or singlehood, or simply of husbands who refuse
Mothers facing sickness themselves while continually giving care to those around them
Women who wish to know the qualities of Heavenly Mother and are told that's taboo
Mothers who live surrounded by violence
Women whose own mothers have abused and belittled them
Mothers making life look abundant when there's actually not enough
Mothers with no education
Mothers who don't know how to ask for help
Mothers struggling with deep depression and anxiety
Mothers seeking answers to prayer
Mothers who feel invisible

Do you know any of these people that you can pray for? Are you one of these people sometimes, or often? You are not alone.

Monday Menus

Last week included a few big food days, including my son's birthday and Mother's Day. 

The birthday boy requested honey walnut shrimp (a first for us) and a black forest cake, which turned out so beautifully from-scratch with layers that actually stayed together! 

Mother's Day included huevos rancheros, potato waffles with smoked salmon, sour cream and chives, roasted brussels sprouts, and a lemon meringue pie. S. is really learning how to chef it! Maybe there are some pictures on the camera I'll be able to dig up soon.

Meanwhile, here are the menus for this week.

Today: Mexican rice and frijoles
Tuesday: Spaghetti, frozen veggies
Wednesday: Harira, salad
Thursday: Fish chowder, green beans
Friday: Pizza, fresh veggie tray
Saturday: Invited to a barbecue
Sunday: Pancakes, applesauce, scrambled eggs

Monday, April 27, 2015

Monday Menus

Today: Vegetable-cashew stir fry
Tuesday: Spaghetti, salad
Wednesday: Potato salad, broccoli-slaw, baked beans
Thursday: Tuna melts, tomato soup, carrots
Friday: Chili, cornbread
Saturday: Pizza
Sunday: Chicken divan

A Few Numbers, Just for the Heck of It

20% of Americans are at church on a given week, though 40% report weekly attendance. There are roughly 300,000 individual religious congregations in the U.S.

Though a vast majority polled think fast food is not healthy to eat, still, nearly half (47%) of Americans are eating it at least weekly. There are 160,000 fast food restaurants in the U.S.

The number of children born every year stands at just under 4 million, with a lifetime childbearing rate of 1.9 per woman. 40% of children are born without married parents, and almost exactly a third of babies are now born via C-section.

The number of U.S. babies dying in their first day of life is the highest among industrialized nations, in fact higher than all the others combined. The number of mothers dying due to pregnancy and childbirth is high and getting higher, with America being one of only 8 countries in the world (this time, including non-industrialized nations) losing ground on maternal mortality.

Somewhere around 3-5% of Americans are vegetarian or vegan; but an additional 10% are former vegetarians who have gone back to eating meat. (Et tu, bacon?) According to surveys, an American non-vegetarian is a lot more likely to be interested in vegetarian options nowadays, but still eats an average of nearly 6 ounces of meat per day.

While 30% of Americans aren't getting any physical activity whatsoever, about half are exercising regularly, at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes a pop. We're more likely to put on those workout clothes in spring and summer when it's nicest weather.

And on that note, I need to finish this post and get out for a little jog myself!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Monday Menus

Today: Basmati rice pilaf (see recipe)
Tuesday: Buckwheat pasta with sausage and peppers, green beans
Wednesday: Fish sticks, curried potatoes, green salad
Thursday: Minestrone
Friday: Vegetarian tamale pie
Saturday: Asian chicken salad
Sunday: Pancakes, strawberry sauce, scrambled eggs

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Flourishing: Report, Still in the Saddle


After a week or two of home improvement and garden projects, along with Spring Break, I feel like I should have something big and flashy to jump back in with. I don't. However, I do have a lot of thoughts and accomplishments to share, as I've continued to try to live in a true, genuine, and productive way. So today's post will be an appetizer-platter of Food for Thought rather than just the normal Food.

Edible Schoolyard 101. Refugees. CSA job. Foster care. Refinishing furniture. Rock climbing. Police violence. Naps! These have all occupied my time or mental energy in some form in the past month.

The Edible Schoolyard (http://edibleschoolyard.org/ee101) is a series put on by UC Berkeley that I just discovered this year. I've watched four of the lectures so far on YouTube, and plan on catching all of them before too long. I've really appreciated the energy, sincerity, and breadth of the lectures, by famous 'food people' such as Bittman, Pollan, Schlosser, and Patel, to name a few. One of the most eye-opening segments focused on the labor conditions of farm workers, with actual public service lawyers and clients presenting their stories. I've known of the sometimes-horrifying conditions both humans and animals are put in for meat production, and I've read Tomatoland which highlights the Florida tomato industry's deeply disturbing practices, but this was focusing on the plight of California produce pickers, and I got that sickening feeling of realization that this is just everywhere. So, food is not just about what is healthy for my body and for the environment -- which is a hard enough balance to aim for -- but also about the lives of the workers who provide it to me. (See also the book The American Way of Eating on my reading list.)

A while ago I watched a TED talk that has never quite left me. It's by Melissa Fleming, the United Nations High Comissioner for Refugees. I've kept up with her by Twitter since then, and would like to share her inspiring talk with you, as well as recent news reports of hundreds of refugees perishing while attempting to cross the Mediterranean by boat to Europe. (here, or search for 'Mediterranean refugees') I feel like these are good issues to be aware of, as they increase my global perspective and my ability to exercise compassion.

In personal accomplishments, I got my first paying job since the year 2000! There is a local farm that operates a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) as well as some educational events as a subsidiary of the state nature society. I will be working there on Saturdays throughout the summer season (May-September) to welcome visitors, help promote and sell produce in a little farmer's market for the public (beyond just the CSA members, in other words), tend a small U-pick area, and various other roles around the farm. (I'll start the training next week, and I think I might get to learn how to milk the cows, too! But I'm waiting to see for sure.) I had actually hoped for a more involved position that I initially applied for, but they turned me down for that. However, this will certainly still be wonderful, and I'm happy to be a part of this great organization and to gain connections and experience. And to be outside doing what I love, for a little bit of money! (I'll probably earn in an hour what those California migrant workers earn in a day, under a lot more pleasant and safe circumstances. Sad comparison.)

S. and I are turning in our foster care application this morning. We've completed the training and filled out all the paperwork and documentation, other than getting our medical and fingerprint/background check done. Those will be soon. So, I expect a call from the state agency in the near future to set up an initial home evaluation, we'll have to start scrounging an extra bed from somewhere and probably fixing up a few things at their request, and then after a second evaluation visit they'll 'open' our home within 3 months of now. I've felt really strongly that we should do this, but what a roller coaster ride it will be, I'm sure!

I may not address all the rest of my list of issues, as I'm running out of time for this morning. But one remaining piece of news is that our time here in [our state] is likely finite. My husband had a miraculous step forward in his ambitious plans for continued career change, and will be starting a year-long position come mid-August. The fact that it happened at all, and so quickly, and HERE, is completely beyond rational expectations, and was clearly inspired and orchestrated by Someone Up There. There's no way of knowing why it happened here and now instead of other times we've been scrambling and struggling, but we're very very grateful. However, he has to then job-hunt for the next step after that year-long, prestigious-credential job, and I'm not expecting two miracles in a row. We'll probably have to move. We're so slow, frugal, and un-handy that we'll need all that time to get the house ready to sell...and to console the kids, one of whom is already panicking. But in the meantime, I just refinished the vanity in our master bath. I'll continue with some painting and new fixtures, etc., and then I'll post a before and after picture when it's all finished. It's not a professional job, it's my first time refinishing furniture, but it makes a big enough difference. I'm proud of myself!



Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Menus

Monday: Polenta 'pizza' with sauce, cheese, and pepperoni, and assorted pickled veggies
Tuesday: Chili mac
Wednesday: Baked potato bar
Thursday: Fish sticks, carrot slaw, and biscuits
Friday: Mulligatawny stew
Saturday: Asian chicken salad
Sunday: Pancakes, applesauce, and scrambled eggs

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Menus

Yesterday: Chilaquiles (verdes this time, heavenly), green beans
Today: Corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, all that
Wednesday: Tuna noodle casserole, roasted carrots
Thursday: Minestrone
Friday: Pizza, mixed veggies
Saturday: Pottage
Sunday: Pancakes and applesauce

Friday, March 13, 2015

6 Years

I just looked back, and I've been blogging here for SIX YEARS as of yesterday.

I started posting mainly because I was tired of people asking me, "Then, what do you eat?" and thought I could just direct them to read for themselves rather than explaining over and over. (Also, because most of the time I was pretty sure their question was just a rhetorical/incredulous one and I didn't want to spend my time answering if they just wanted to gawk.)

Since then, I've really worked hard both to eat in a way that I feel deeply nourishes my family, and to make it accessible to others in my little blog. Over 450 posts and 14,000 pageviews later, I'm glad I'm going strong. It's been wonderful to have carved a place where I can be myself and speak about things that matter to me.

Six years ago, I had a little 18-month-old as my youngest; six years from now, she'll be a teenager. I'm not sure what technology will have come along by then, but I hope I'm still out there, sharing my food and thoughts.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Blitz Torte

So, last summer my husband did an internet search for 'world's best cake' and came up with a recipe on a website. I posted about his successful cake initiative here.

It was a kind of cake that we had never seen done before, with a meringue topping baked simultaneously with and right on top of the raw cake batter, and it was delightful. Amongst ourselves, we thought it was nearly perfect, but needed berries.

Well, it turns out that the cake we were really looking for was a Blitz Torte. (Sorry, Norwegian recipe, it looks like the German tradition bests you in this.) Recently, among my mother-in-law's old cookbooks, I found a copy of a Cook's Country magazine with a cover that looked a lot like our last summer's cake, only with berries. (See right.)

Well, that and professional food photography. But I digress. They called this concoction a blitz torte, and if you run a web search, it turns out it's a fairly popular but old-fashioned cake. No wonder we like it so much.

I made the full-on, elaborate version last night for my book club. It was a fair amount of work and expense, more than the simpler Best Cake version, but I think it was worth it.

Except that next time, I'll borrow some extra cake pans and double it if I'm going to be serving 12 people. One slice was most emphatically not enough!





(Recipe for this version here.)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Monday Menus

Monday: West African peanut soup (thawed from the freezer from the last huge batch I made)
Tuesday: Chef's salad, French bread
Wednesday: Flounder fillets, tarragon-lemon rice pilaf, cooked carrots
Thursday: Spaghetti marinara, green beans
Friday: Split pea soup, biscuits
Saturday: Taco salad
Sunday: Pancakes, applesauce, scrambled eggs

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Zuppa!

The sidebar now has a page with my soup and beans recipes


If your weather is anything like mine, you'll still enjoy these this winter.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Monday Menus

Monday ≈≈ Cuban black beans
Tuesday ≈≈ Corn chowder, salad
Wednesday ≈≈ Pasta primavera
Thursday ≈≈ Quiche, garden salad
Friday ≈≈ Pizza, mixed vegetables
Saturday ≈≈ Tuna melts, tomato soup
Sunday ≈≈ Egg rolls and potstickers

Monday, February 16, 2015

Monday Menus

Monday: Thai curry featuring sweet potatoes
Tuesday: Cheddar scones, scrambled eggs, spinach
Wednesday: Harira (Moroccan stew)
Thursday: Chinese New Year! Potstickers
Friday: Spaghetti carbonara, salad
Saturday: Polenta with marinara sauce, green beans
Sunday: Corn chowder