Posts Tagged ‘Cooking’

At least it was a productive day.

Option 1:  Tackle massive pile of dirty dishes accumulated throughout a very busy, long day OR

Option 2: Put off tackling mound of dishes in order to feed my sourdough and write about my dishes.

Things I did today:

  • Showered (other mothers of many young children will agree that this alone qualifies as a productive day)
  • Taught the kiddos
  • Baked two loaves of Oatmeal Bread
  • Made Potato Corn Chowder (Yum.)
  • Baked a batch of Breakfast Cookies – this time with walnuts, dried cranberries and chocolate chips.
  • Took all five children to the dentist for cleanings (no cavities :))
  • Let the kids play with clay
  • Filed and paid quarterly taxes for Blessed Roots Farm
  • Created a pile of dishes that spans half my kitchen
  • Stepped in poop on a bathroom rug and lost a pair of undies, the rug, and my sock in the incident
  • Fed my sourdough starter

A full day, indeed.

Alas, the dishes did not do themselves while I was typing.  Guess I better get back to work . . .

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Zoom in deeper:

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We don’t get out much.  No huge surprise since we have 5 children ages 5 months to 7 years.  Few people are daring enough to take on the brood by themselves, and we are too miserly frugal to pay them anyway.

But, we do love our smoothie dates.  Late at night, Jason and enjoy piercing the lovely, slumbering silence with the deafening screech of the Vitamix – sheesh that thing is loud – and make our favorite date night smoothie.

Being the health nuts that we are, this is a huge treat for us.  It doesn’t even taste healthy :)!

1 c. almond milk

2 c. ice

1 ripe banana

6 – 8 pitted dates

1/4 c. unsweetened dried coconut

1/4 c. almonds

1 – 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder

Blend, pour, and suck through a straw with your sweetie!

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Around 200 varieties of Peruvian potatoes were...

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I do love Fall.  I would love Fall a lot if it weren’t followed by endless, bitterly cold, gray Winter.  But, that really isn’t Fall’s fault, and I try not to hold it against her.  Fall food is one of the things I really enjoy about this season.

Our farmers market is brimming with fresh produce and healthy meats.  Today’s dinner meal was a wonderful ode to the Fall farmers market.

Potato Kale Soup

Olive oil

3 very large red potatoes (thank you Brook Farm!)

1 large onion (thank you Nancy!)

2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed (thank you Garlic Guy from farm off of Walkup!)

1 large bunch of delicious, nutritious kale that will make you feel like a good mom when you serve it (thank you Windy Ridge Acres!)

1 can cannellini beans (thank you Trader Joe’s – some things do come from a store around here)

1 quart homemade chicken stock (thank you chicken from Manna Ridge Farm!)

2 bay leaves, salt and pepper

Wash and chop potatoes into small chunks.  Chop your onion.  Pop the potatoes and onions into your soup pot with about 2 Tbsp. olive oil.  Stir to coat veggies.  Cook on medium/medium high until the onions begin to turn translucent.  Add the garlic and stir.  Put a lid on the pot, turn the heat down, and cook about 5 more minutes.  In the mean time, prep your kale.  Pull the leafy part off the tough stem and tear into small pieces.  Wash the kale and drain.  After the 5 minutes is up, open the lid on your soup pot and toss in the kale.  Pop the lid back on and cook for a couple of minutes.  Open the lid again and add the whole can of beans (no need to drain), the stock, 2 bay leaves, salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer with the lid on for about 15-20 minutes more.

Pumpkin Dinner Bread

This is a recipe for a simple yeast bread that I originally got from Tammy’s Recipes.  She turns hers into 48 rolls.  I commend her, but I take the easy road and make 4 round loaves plopped on 2 oiled baking pans.  After the first rise, just divide the dough into fourths, shape into round balls, cut a smallish X in the top of the loaf, let rise for 30 minutes, and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.  LOVE THIS BREAD.  One recipe can feed us for the week if I plan well.  We use it for toast, PB&J, and eating plain.  YUM.

Raw Applesauce

Couldn’t be easier recipe from my Vitamix recipe book.  I washed, peeled and cored 8 apples and popped them in the blender with 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice.  Blend.  Done.  Seriously.  That cannot really be considered a recipe, can it?

Now I just need to remember to double the soup and applesauce recipes next time so that we might actually have leftovers!

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2 wicker baskets full of muffins sit on a blue...
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Real food just takes longer.  Sometimes I just want to throw up my hands, buy a giant case of cheap processed foods, and chuck my “from scratch” lifestyle down the garbage disposal.  Then the moment passes, I get a grip, and I remember the zillion reasons I don’t do that in the first place.

Reality is though that the time required to cook and serve a whole foods diet, while parenting and teaching 5 children 7 years old and younger, is challenging.  Admittedly, I start to turn a little green when I think too long about the hours that other families don’t spend in the kitchen.  Even though I meal plan extensively, I still find myself wishing I could freeze time a few times a week while I cook.  (I am going to take for granted here that you do realize that you must begin with having a meal plan.)

But, there are ways to make preparing real food more palatable for everyday real life.

Here are several of my common sense tips for the day:

1.  Involve the kids as much as possible.  I know, I know.  TRUST ME – I know.  Allowing 4 little people to “help” with bread baking or muffin making when I only have 30 minutes to get it done before the baby is going to want to nurse again is not my ideal culinary experience either.  But, the joy is not found in my own experience.  The joy is found in watching them all learn and grow and delight in theirs.  And, the more hours I spend baking at the speed of a sloth now will pay off in the coming years when I can say, “Sophia, please go make a quadruple batch of pumpkin muffins.”  And she won’t say, “How in the world do I do that?!”

2.  Keep them in the kitchen.  This is not groundbreaking advice, I realize.  But, all too often I forget this one myself.  When the kids aren’t interested in helping me cook or bake, or I am making something that they are just too little to help with – they can still be there.  They don’t have to have their hands in the actual process in order to take part in the fellowship of working in the kitchen.  I love to tell the kids that I have a few hours of work in the kitchen, but I want us together.  I send everyone off to get something that they can do or work on quietly in the kitchen for an hour or so – drawing, books, puzzles, stitching – and we can still hang together even if I am stuck in the kitchen.  Waiting for bread to rise or muffins to bake is the perfect time to sneak in a few wonderful picture books, or even listen to an audio version together!

3.  Keep most of the meals simple.  Jason works from home most days, and works out of the house most evenings.  He works a lot.  But, we are blessed to have Daddy join us for lunch just about every day.  This means that we keep breakfast and dinner simple, and have our bigger meal of the day around noon.  Simple meals could mean a lot of different things, but at our house we eat fresh fruit or a fruit and veggie smoothie with some kind of grain (toast, bagel, oatmeal, granola) for breakfast.  Dinner is usually some kind of grain (bread, pasta, granola bars, etc.) and fresh veggies or a fruit and veggie smoothie, and nuts or beans.  Sometimes I make a fresh fruit sorbet for dessert.  Keeping two of the three meals of the day quick and easy is a huge help.

4.  Batch bake.  I make one batch of pumpkin bread which makes 4 loaves.  Double, triple, or increase even more the recipe for muffins, granola, granola bars, etc.  Set aside one week or weekend to pound out as many baked goods as you can and freeze what doesn’t get eaten the first day.  Next week all you have to do is pull your baked goods out a few hours before you plan to eat them.

5.  Batch chop.  Since we eat tons of fresh veggies every week, it is nice to chop all at once and just serve later.  When we come in from the garden or home from the market, I try to wash and prep a few days worth of veggies at a time.

I have found that if I make it too complicated I will start to slide back in to the mentality of, “Oh, one box of this or that isn’t too bad.”  Which quickly turns into far too many boxes of this or that.  My budget and our nutrition suffers from my lack of planning and common sense!

Following these tips myself helps us to keep it real.

Don’t forget to head over to one of my favorite blogs, Tammy’s Recipes, for more great kitchen tips.  Happy cooking!

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