Monday, December 15, 2008

predicting weather through cookies

Last week, Zeal read the weather report in earnest. The weekend forecast was snow, snow, and more snow. I quote, "we will be more surprised if there isn't snow, than if there is." So when the weekend came and went with only a small dusting that left as quickly as it came, he was, shall we say, disappointed.

So, what do you do when there is no white, fluffy stuff falling outside? Make it in the kitchen, of course.

Snowball Cookies (aka Russian Tea Cakes)
makes: about 3 dozen (depending on the size of your cookies)

1 c. softened butter
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 c. flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c. nuts, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix butter, sugar, & vanilla. Add flour, salt, and nuts. Mix thoroughly.
Roll into 1-inch balls. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 10 minutes. While still warm, roll in powdered sugar. Once cooled, roll in sugar again. Oh, so yummy!

Do I get points for this artery-clogging, completely non-nutritional treat being all organic?
Maybe not.
But it does work to bring on the real stuff.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Holidays are Delicious

Looking for a bit of holiday inspiration? The Savvy Source has created a holiday guide covering all things holiday, including this little piece by me...

Holidays are Delicious: The Creative Family Kitchen During the Holiday Season

Holiday magic often begins in the kitchen. Creating traditions is yet another way to build creativity, and the holiday season is a particularly wondrous time to begin a new tradition or rediscover an old one. So as you step into your kitchen this month, involve your children, explore together, and have fun!

Click here to read the rest of this article and to check out the rest of the Savvy Holiday Guide.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

our little soup factory

In preparation for baby (who should be gracing us anytime now) we spent the day making these various soups, putting them all in freezer bags, and all ready and waiting to be plopped into our crock pot for those days when we will likely be up to our ears in diapers and out of food.

In our stash and now helping to fill our freezer are these various soups:

-Tuscan White Bean & Escarole Soup
-Two-Mushroom Barley Soup
-Moroccan Lentil and Chickpea Soup
-Pesto Potato Soup
-Winter Squash and Sweet Potato Soup
-Black Bean Soup

All of these soup recipes came from the wonderful Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker (200 Recipes for Healthy and Hearty One-Pot Meals that are Ready When You Are) by Robin Robertson. I borrowed this book from a friend and have thoroughly enjoyed picking through it. So far, so great! There are many more things than just soups included in this little gem, such as breakfasts, grains, pastas, desserts and bread. Good thing winter brings out the slow cooker in me. :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

...and what to do with the leftover gingerbread?

And after making that traditional little house, we used the leftover gingerbread to make a few little men to nibble on. We popped them in the freezer and have been pulling out one a day (or every other) to decorate.

For easy decorating, add a tablespoon of icing to the corner of a ziploc bag. Make sure the bag is closed tightly and cut a very tiny hole in the corner. Instant kid-friendly (an inexpensive) pastry bag!

Monday, December 8, 2008

He goes traditional on me...

For the third year in a row, we have made our own gingerbread house from scratch. We've also done the kit kind in the past, but it is always much better when we make our own.

In years past, the houses were wild and exciting and I had high hopes for the creative magic I have come to expect from this boy, and what does he do but go traditional on me. :) Four straight walls, a slanted roof, one front door and 4 paned windows. Who knew?

Still, it was great fun to see his confidence in the process grow and watch him pretty much do the whole thing from cutting the pieces to putting it together to decorating all by himself. aaah, the sweet ginger-y taste of independence.

This year, we used this recipe and I highly recommend it for a sweet, but not too sweet, and not so gingery taste that the kids just loved.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Mama's Nuts

What happens when said child is working intently on a science fair project and pregnant mama gets a hankerin' for the pecans waiting patiently for her in the kitchen...

Mama's Cinnamon Nuts (You must, must, must try these!)

1 cup sugar (maple or cane)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 1/2 cups pecans or walnuts (NOT chopped)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 c. boiling water

Mix sugar, cinnamon, cream of tartar and boiling water and boil (to 246 degrees, if you have a candy thermometer, or until mixture forms a "ball" if you drop a bit of it in cold water). Add nuts and remove from heat. Add vanilla and stir until mixture sugars on the nuts. Quickly turn on a flat surface and separate the nuts.

You will not regret giving these EASY little treats a try! I promise. But beware, they don't last long!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Straws! Fabulous Kitchen Tool of the Week

I admit to being a slacker on posting a weekly tool lately. Here's one I couldn't let slip by without mention: straws!

Last week, while searching through the pantry Zeal ran across a half-used packet of disposable straws we bought way back when and used for a building project to make newspaper dowels (rolling a straw up in a sheet of newsprint makes a sturdy dowel to use in all sorts of construction). So this week, among other things, he has been testing how long he can get a straw and still be able to suck up the liquid. Amazing what joy a simple tool will bring!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

a holiday drink for mommy

So, I've been in the kitchen most of the day preparing for the holiday feast that will ensue around here come tomorrow about mid-day. Most of today's "cooking" consisted of drink making, the ones we usually have for the adults... drinks I won't be taking part in this year. But why should everyone else be without them? Still, I wanted something a little special, and non-alcoholic- for me (besides my usual-of-late "belly tea".

So, I decided to make a "Ginger-only" drink, featuring, what else, but....


For a brief while I became enamored by this spice that is my namesake. We even went out of our way on a trip years back in Australia, to visit this place:

So here's todays creation, something I've never made before but always loved. Ginger-ale.

How to Make Homemade Gingerale
1/2 lb. fresh ginger, cut into 1/4 inch "coins"
2 cups tap water
2 cups light brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
pinch cayenne pepper
sparkling water

Combine ginger, tap water, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a saucepan. Bring to boil. Once boiling, turn down heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cayenne. Let cool. Once cooled, strain syrup into a container/pitcher. When ready to serve, pour 1/4 cup of syrup and 1/2 cup of sparkling water over ice. Stir. Yum, yum!

And now, I don't think I'll ever go back to the store-bought stuff again. I have ended up sharing it with the rest of my family (I just couldn't keep it a secret - it was that good!) and they too agree, that it is definitely worth making at home!

Monday, November 24, 2008

bringing bread to life

One of the wonders of this "soup weather" is the bread that comes along with it. Lately, I've been doing a lot of experimenting with different flours, teff being my favorite, but there's something I just cannot ignore about wheat. Zeal has been asking to grow the stuff for a few years, and then gave up asking when I was always skirting the issue (for some reason the prospect terrifies me). Well, now he has renewed energy.

A few weeks ago, we picked up this video Bread Comes to Life while at the library. It's been sitting in our library box this whole time not being watched, just forgotten about. Today after getting a reminder that it is now due at the library, we pulled it out for a go. We are so glad we did! This little gem of a video is intended for ages 4 and up and is a beautiful montage of music and imagery that really does bring bread to life. I was as mesmerized as Zeal as we were watching.

Here's the word from the people at Informed Democracy, the producers of the film:

This newly released 22 minute video (June,2003) narrated in verse by Lily Tomlin with music by George Winston, tells the story of bread from a garden of wheat to a loaf to eat. The program is for the early elementary curriculum, and its purpose is to inspire wonder and provide information about the food we eat as well as the process and the people who bring bread into the world. Whether it's buttering morning toast, pulling a sandwich out of lunchbox, or eating pizza for dinner, bread is a cornerstone of every child's diet. Yet many have never seen a field of wheat, mixed and kneaded a lump of dough, or tasted a loaf fresh out of the oven. Using live-action footage, time lapse-photography and animations, BREAD COMES TO LIFE shows the sowing, growing, reaping, threshing, milling, mixing, kneading, shaping rising, baking and breaking of bread in a garden and home setting as well as on a farm and in a large mill and a commercial bakery.

More information about the film, with companion activities, resources, information about the book and clips of the video can be found on the Bread Comes to Life website.

And guess what, it is based on a book, which we are now on the search for.

And so now I guess I will do it: plant a little patch of wheat, that is. And thanks to these people, we have a good start on what fun we can have with it. Here's looking forward to bringing our bread to life!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Taco Soup

We're entering into soup-phase, that time of year when our cooking revolves around the many combinations of WARM we can come up with. And as in many years past, that includes one of our family favorites, Taco Soup.

Here's the recipe for this quick and yummy soup that has everybody smiling.

Taco Soup
1 lb. tofu, cubed
1/2 onion chopped
taco seasoning mix
1 1/2 quarts of tomato juice (more, if you like our soup more soupy and less chunky)
1 cup salsa
tortilla chips
your favorite taco toppings (cheese, olives, avocado, etc)

Sauté onion and tofu in a bit of olive oil until lightly browned.
Add taco seasoning mix (only half a packet if you want to cut the spice) and stir for one minute.
Add tomato juice and salsa and simmer until warmed through.
Ladel soup into bowls. Add tortilla chips around the edges of soup and top with your favorite taco toppings.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A little something for Daddy during this holiday season...

Well, I know I normally just stick to posting ideas for family cooking projects, or things Zeal and I have made together, but I just can't resist giving you this one too, because Daddy just loved it so much (since the pregnancy began our house has become rather... "dry").

Here's what Daddy got for Halloween...

A Pumpkin Martini!

Sugar the rim of a martini glass with a mixture of fine sugar and pumpkin pie spice.

Shake equal parts vanilla vodka, pumpkin spice syrup (such as the kind coffee/lattés are flavored with), and half and half (Silk creamer to make it vegan). Pour into martini glass.

Top with a bit of nutmeg and serve.

Monday, November 10, 2008

reaching for a bit of "love grass"

When I was in college, I used to head to Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, California on the weekends for a bit of entertainment, book store browsing, and of course to frequent all the lovely food choices. Down one of the alleys there used to be (I don't think it exists anymore) a small family owned hole-in-wall Ethiopian restaurant. Being 18 and raised in a small town in Northern Nevada, I had never experienced the wonder of Ethiopian food. I quickly fell in love, especially with the spongy fermented bread called injera, made from teff flour. I've tried to make injera over the years, but never had the "secret recipe". I'm still experimenting with it the perfect injera recipe, but mostly am finding that teff works for us and our cooking in many other forms too.
(image: man sieving teff grain, from WaterAid International)

Lately we've been using it to make bread, pancakes, these pumpkin bars, and muffins like these:

We simply used this banana muffin recipe and substituted ivory teff flour for wheat flour.

We've been getting our teff in bulk through The Teff Company, but it is available in smaller doses in some grocery stores as well.

Here's a bit more about teff and its many nutritious properties, making it a wonderful grain choice in any healthy family's cooking experiences:

The grain has a high concentration of different nutrients, a very high calcium content, and high levels of phosphorus, iron, copper, aluminum, barium, and thiamin. A big advantage, the iron from teff is easily absorbed by the body. Teff is high in protein. It is considered to have an excellent amino acid composition (including all 8 essential amino acids for humans) and has lysine levels higher than wheat or barley. Because of this variety, it stimulates the flora of the large intestine. Teff is high in carbohydrates and fiber. It contains no gluten, so it is appropriate for those with gluten intolerance or celiac disease.

One of the many things I just adore about using teff, is that it takes its name from the Greek word for Love Grass. That just makes me smile. :)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

How to Bake a Pumpkin & Pumpkin Pie Bars

We've been having fun just slowing down, which means spending a bit of time with our pumpkins. Here's what we did with our sugar pie pumpkins.

How to Bake a Pumpkin

Quarter pumpkin.

Work with a friend to scoop out the seeds. (Of course, save a few of the seeds for planting next year and the rest for roasting.)

Place the quartered pumpkin in an oven proof bowl. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Pour about 3 cups of water over the pumpkin. Cover and bake for about an hour (or until soft) in a 350 degree oven.

Scoop out pumpkin and purée in a blender.

And then, make whatever pumpkin goodies your little hearts desire.
Here's our pumpkin pie bars. So yummy!

Here's our recipe (made up that very day):

Pumpkin Pie Bars

2 cups flour (we used 1 cup of teff flour and 1 cup buckwheat)
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup olive oil (or whatever oil you like to bake with)
puréed pumpkin from one average-sized sugar pie pumpkin
3 eggs (we used Ener-G egg replacer)

Mix a little powdered sugar with a bit of milk (we used soy)

Combine dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Drizzle topping and let cool. Cut into bars.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Pan de Muertos (Bread of the Dead)

For all of you readers of Wonderwise, you are well aware of our plans to make Bread of the Dead a few days ago.

Well, here's Zeal's loaf as he was about to cut into it. He began the process saying he was going to sculpt his into a skull.

When it came out of the oven, he decided it was not a skull at all, but rather Echidna, the Greek mythological "Mother of All Monsters". Oh, this child. :)

Here's the recipe we used (taken from the book Look What We've Brought You from Mexico). We veganized it by using soy milk, Earth Balance, and Ener-G egg replacer.

Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead)

1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup (half a stick) margarine or butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup very warm water
2 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted
1/2 teaspoon anise seed
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons sugar

Instructions: Bring milk to boil and remove from heat. Stir in margarine or butter, 1/4 cup sugar and salt.

In large bowl, mix yeast with warm water until dissolved and let stand 5 minutes. Add the milk mixture.

Separate the yolk and white of one egg. Add the yolk to the yeast mixture, but save the white for later. Now add flour to the yeast and egg. Blend well until dough ball is formed.

Flour a pastry board or work surface very well and place the dough in center. Knead until smooth. Return to large bowl and cover with dish towel. Let rise in warm place for 90 minutes. Meanwhile, grease a baking sheet and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Knead dough again on floured surface. Now divide the dough into fourths and set one fourth aside. Roll the remaining 3 pieces into "ropes."

On greased baking sheet, pinch 3 rope ends together and braid. Finish by pinching ends together on opposite side. Divide the remaining dough in half and form 2 "bones." Cross and lay them atop braided loaf.

Cover bread with dish towel and let rise for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix anise seed, cinnamon and 2 teaspoons sugar together. In another bowl, beat egg white lightly.

When 30 minutes are up, brush top of bread with egg white and sprinkle with sugar mixture, except on cross bones. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sandwiches to Smile About: National Sandwich Day

Today, November 3rd, is the birthday of John Montague, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, the namesake of the sandwich, and thus it is National Sandwich Day. Yes, there is actually a National Sandwich Day.

Sandwiches to Smile About

Life is like a sandwich, the more you add to it the better it becomes.

Sandwiches say lunch in a way that almost no other entrée does. When children are encouraged to join in the building of them, sandwiches offer a wonderful outlet for developing independence and creative expression. They are easy for even very young children to pick up and feed themselves. Perhaps as they were originally intended, sandwiches are among the best of packables. However, it is very easy and common to get in a sandwich making rut. Offering as many types of sandwiches as possible will develop a child’s palate, getting them used to more ingredients and textures, and adding that extra spice to life. And as we turn from winter to spring, there is no better time to breathe new life into lunches that might be getting stale.

The Outsides
Bread is the most traditional sandwich outside. From pizza crust to pita bread to Indian naan, the options for using wheat sandwich outsides are plentiful. Sandwiches can be made sweet using cinnamon-raisin, pumpernickel, or challah breads. For a more savory experience, try using a light rye or seeded bread. If you are packing your sandwiches for later, toast or grill the bread to prevent them from getting too soggy. Additionally, pack dressing or sauces and pour them on just before eating to further prevent sogginess. But in a world where children are consuming more and more carbohydrates, a sandwich doesn’t have to just mean bread. Crackers, rice cakes, a piece of lettuce, “cheese” slices, or a crunchy piece of nori seaweed can be wonderful alternatives.

The Insides
Peanut butter and jelly have long been staples in houses where children dwell. With an increase in nut allergies and parents wishing more and more to add variety to their children’s sandwich repertoire, experimenting with the insides of your sandwich can be the answer. Try filling your sandwiches with hummus and chopped sweet peppers or tomatoes arranged in the shape of a star or flower. Pumpkin and apple butters make a great alternative to your usual jams. As well, any salad makes a wonderful filling in pocket bread. Remember to sprinkle in your favorite sand-wishes before you finish off your creation.

To Cook or Not to Cook?
Sandwiches are a wonderfully easy food item for kids to make on their own because generally they don’t need involvement from a heat source. That said, toasting or grilling your sandwich adds an extra bit of fun to your child’s experience. Served warm, even standard fallbacks like a pb&j are given new life.

As a sandwich creator, it is important to understand that the way a meal is received is directly connected to the visual experience. It is all about the presentation. Vary the way you serve sandwiches: rolled up inside bread, open faced, in pockets, or traditionally inside two pieces of bread. Use cookie cutters (any shape will do) or cut sandwiches into bite-sized pieces such as fingers or odd shaped corners. Anything you do that will add to your presentation of the sandwich will make it a more exciting and novel culinary experience for your children.

The Art of Sandwich Making
With some varied ingredients and a few toothpicks, sandwiches can become your child’s own personal canvas. Stack varied sizes of sliced items like cucumbers, radishes, carrots or small pieces of cheese for eyes, body pieces stacked together, noses, and ears. Corn makes great teeth or buttons for a robot. Olives and grapes easily become bulging eyes, bug body parts, headlights, or hooves. Lettuce, especially red leaf or other types of lettuce that have frilly edges, make beautiful dresses, Tomatoes and sweet bell peppers slice nicely into petal shapes. Add some parsley sprigs and your flower is complete.

Ironed Sandwich
This is a fun vegan variation of a classic grilled cheese sandwich. Try varying the ingredients for any type of grilled sandwich your little ones might prefer. Adult supervision required when making this sandwich.

Two slices of bread
Almond cheese slices
Earth Balance soy margarine
1 piece of aluminum foil about the size of a legal-sized piece of paper
Iron and Ironing Board

Evenly spread Earth Balance on both slices of bread.
Place cheese between bread, with the Earth Balance on the outside.
Fold aluminum foil in half and place sandwich inside of foil so that both slices of bread are covered.
Iron both sides of the foil until the cheese begins to melt and the bread and Earth Balance browns.

Smiling Apples
Here’s a sandwich that makes kids smile. This can be used as a snack or main sandwich in a lunch. For a smoother version, leave out the slivered almonds.

1 large crunchy apple like a Granny Smith or Braeburn
Almond or Cashew butter
Slivered almonds

Slice an apple into rounds that are about a quarter inch thick.
Spread one apple round with almond butter.
Sprinkle with slivered almonds and cinnamon.
Place another apple round on top and enjoy!

Cucumber Caterpillar
My son loves a good old-fashioned cucumber and” cheese” sandwich. Here’s a fun way to add more veggies while cutting down on the bread.

1 small cucumber, sliced thin
almond cheese slices, cut into small circles using a cookie cutter
two tiny pieces of bread, best are the heels of your French loaf
two raisins
1 bamboo skewer
1 toothpick

Begin by sticking one heel of bread onto the end of the skewer (heel side out). Add the cucumbers and cheese slices in a pattern, and then the other bread heel, on the skewer. Finish your caterpillar by breaking a toothpick in half and use them to attach the raisins to the bread.

Sunflower Faces
This sandwich makes a great interactive breakfast, snack, or lunch experience. Sunflower butter is a nice alternative to peanut or other nut butters and is high in Vitamin E.

1 slice of bread
sunflower butter
banana coins (1 banana sliced into coins)
shelled sunflower seeds
granola pieces
about 1 tsp. agave nectar (optional)

Spread sunflower butter on bread. Drizzle agave nectar on top of sunflower butter, if extra sweetness is desired. Arrange other ingredients in the shape of a face, sunflower, or any desired pattern or design.

Pizza Sandwich
This recipe makes two small rounds of pizza dough, enough for one pizza sandwich.

1 tsp. yeast
3 T. very warm water
1 tsp. oil
1 tsp. agave nectar
8 T. flour
Pizza or pasta sauce of your choice, such as: marinara, pesto, or blended tofu
Pizza toppings of your choice, such as: artichoke hearts, olives, shredded mozzarella cheese, pine nuts, mushrooms, or baby corn.

Sprinkle yeast over the water. Stir. Let the yeast dissolve until it forms a bubble surface. Stir in the oil, agave, and flour. Knead the ingredients together on a lightly floured board. Cover dough with a cloth and let ruse for about 20 minutes. Divide dough into two equal pieces. Roll dough into circles. Place onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake 8 minutes at 450 degrees. Remove from oven and let cool. Add toppings onto one of the circles and top with the remaining circle. Place back into oven for a few minutes to melt cheese.

Tablespoon Pockets
This sandwich is a salad in a pocket. It makes a great picnic meal.

1 Roma tomato sliced
1/4 cucumber, diced
1 T fresh basil, chopped
1 T fresh parsley, chopped
1 T vegan Parma “cheese”
1 T. olive oil
splash of balsamic vinegar
splash of lemon juice
Pita bread

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Scoop into a pita bread pocket just before serving.

Spinach Pinwheels
The spiral that appears when these sandwiches are cut is a great novelty that will have your kids eating their spinach. I like using pumpernickel bread (a dark bread made with molasses) for both the contrast in color and sweetness that it adds to the roll, but any leavened bread will work.

1 slice of pumpernickel (or any favorite) bread, crusts removed if desired
Tofutti cream cheese (or your favorite soft, spreadable)
fresh spinach, washed with stems removed
herb salt

Using a rolling pin to roll your slice of bread until it is cracker thin. Spread cream cheese all over the bread, leaving a half-inch around the edges. Cover cheese with spinach leaves and sprinkle with herb salt. Tightly roll and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about an hour (or overnight). Remove from refrigerator and slice before serving.

Sandwich Timeline

1 century B.C. – The first sandwich, lamb and herbs inside of Matzo bread, is enjoyed by Jewish Rabbi Hillel.

The Middle Ages (between the 6th and 16th centuries) – The first open-faced sandwich appears. “Trenchers” (thick slices of hard bread) are used instead of plates to soak up the juices, grease, and sauce of the meal.

1760’s – The sandwich gets its name. John Montague, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, is said to have, while not wanting to take breaks from his work, repeatedly ordered his meat between two slices of bread.

1840 - The sandwich is introduced to America by cookbook author Elizabeth Leslie. She suggests ham sandwiches as a main dish.

Early 1900’s, Industrial Revolution – Bakeries begin selling pre-sliced bread. Sandwiches become a favorite lunch packable and went to the factories with workers and schools with children!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Jack-O-Lantern Stew

We always host a potluck meal on Halloween night with friends, and I usually make stew in a pumpkin. This year, running short on time for my usually 7 hour recipe, we used one of these wonderful, tasty Cinderella pumpkins and did a simple pumpkin and black-eyed pea combination that I will have to work hard to recreate as it wasn't a recipe. Served with black wild rice, it was a definite hit!

Tomorrow, I head to the fourth and final potluck of the weekend, so I will try to recreate it for that and this time write down the measurements and ingredients. Until then, hope you had a fun-filled Halloween night!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Parantha fun!

Re-discovering a bit of India in the kitchen. Here's our favorite combination for making gobi parantha (flat bread stuffed with cauliflower), but it works just as well with potatoes, paneer, or any of your favorite combinations.

-Combine 1 cup of chapati flour with 1/3 cup water and a teaspoon of oil (optional) and knead until forms a soft ball.
-Roll dough out until flat and thin.
-Place a heaping tablespoon (or any desired amount) of a combination of grated cauliflower, garlic, salt, masala into the center of your dough.
-Fold the corners up over the stuffing and pinch the dough together to form a ball around the stuffing.
-Roll the ball out again until flat.
-Cook on an oiled griddle until brown.

Happy Diwali everyone!

*Thanks Valerie for the photos!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Best Apple Crisp!

If you buy one new gadget this year/season, let it be an apple-corer-peeler-slicer! We've been having fun lately with ours coupled with all the apples we're getting in our own backyard.

Here's our favorite recipe for apple crisp, which freezes wonderfully for a fabulous winter dessert!

Our Best Apple Crisp

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream together:
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar

Stir in until crumbly, a mixture of:
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Arrange in a greased pan:
4-6 peeled and sliced apples.

Sprinkle with crumb topping.
Bake in preheated oven for 40-50 minutes or until apples are tender and topping is golden brown. Serve warm.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Super Sand Clay!

(cross-posting from The Wondershop, because, well, it just seems appropriate :)

For a boy who has had a history of getting engrossed in sand play, has been forever fascinated by anyone who works with cement, sand or gravel, and has a most recent fascination with the art, science, and play of Ancient Egypt, working out a recipe that we could simulate stone blocks with has been a major coup!

Above is the recent game Zeal made with this sand clay, a coiled up snake waiting to be painted and played. (Rules yet to be determined)

Here's the recipe:

Super Sand Clay
3 cups sand
1 1/2 cups cornstarch
3 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 1/2 cups of hot water

Combine all ingredients in a wok or large saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture becomes thick and heavy (several minutes). remove from heat and turn onto cookie sheet. Once mixture is cool, it will be able to be modeled. (Don't try to use it before it is cooled or you'll just get a sticky mess on the hands - spoken from experience)

I so wish I had a picture of him making this dough and the mess that ensued when he decided he needed to sift the sand with our various-sized strainers and funnels in stock in our kitchen. Oh well -- I have the experience!

And here's the new favorite book with one of the Pyramids of Giza, which has a remarkable resemblance to the texture of real stone blocks!

He's so proud of this feat of ancient architecture!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Concocting Creative Minds

Concocting Creative Minds: The Wonder of Potions and Other Experimental Mixtures

A perfectly mixed concoction conjures magic and intrigue. Developing an experimental mindset, the most important step in getting ready for creative thinking and problem solving, can be daunting. The task instantly becomes a bit easier when we step into the kitchen, onto the front porch, or in the bathtub for a bit of potion-making. Whether fizzy, smelly, gooey, tasty, or astonishing to witness, having the opportunity to mix, combine, and play with the reaction of a variety of materials is a wonder-filled way to concoct thinking, creativity, and fun...

Click here to read the rest of this piece as it is featured on VegFamily this month!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Are you vegan and pregnant (or plan to become pregnant)?

If so, Karen Rae Ferreira is looking for you. I cannot participate myself because I have reintroduced dairy into my diet, but here's the message from Karen:

I am working on my masters thesis project to study 50 or more pregnant vegan women, in order to clarify for women, their
families, midwives & physicians, how well-nourished a pregnant woman and her baby can be on a 100% vegan, 70% or more raw, organic diet. I am sending this to a few others who I hope will be interested as well. I welcome any input or suggestions, and I would love for you to share this with others.

I feel honored & happy to provide this service for the sake of future generations of raw, vegan children. Before this study can become a reality, I will need at least 50 women who are pregnant presently, or plan to become pregnant in the next year and a half. Of course such plans do not always match up with the hoped-for time-frame; still I am happy to include on my email list those women who would like to participate. The actual data will be compiled on women who participate for at least 13 weeks during pregnancy & immediate postpartum.

Participation begins by filling out an application & questionnaire (currently in progress). Once accepted into the study, the only
requirements for continuing with the study are:

-Maintaining a predominantly organic, 100% vegan, 70% or more raw foods diet
-Lab results & clinical findings for perinatal visits, as ordered & assessed by the woman's midwife or physician, to be sent to me via fax or mail
-Maternal testing for DHA, vitamin B-12 & folic acid, and vitamin C, at
the beginning & end of pregnancy
-Newborn screening for vitamin B-12
-Supplemental vegan food-sourced DHA, vitamin B-12 & folic acid, and vitamin C is highly recommended

I will be submitting a brief article to various publications, magazines & internet groups during the next few weeks to give as many women as possible the chance to partake of this study. I would love to receive feedback on the process of conducting the study, and recommendations for places to submit the article would be greatly appreciated. I am looking forward to all of the connections that will be made during the next two years, and sharing the outcome with all of you & the childbirth & health professional communities.


Karen Rae Ferreira, CCH, RSHom
Registered & Certified Classical Homeopath
Services & Online Courses in Homeopathy; Homeopathic Childbirth
Assistance; Sustainable Living
Healing & Detox Coach - Utilizing Ayurvedic Raw Diet & Nutrition &
Western Herbs

Sunday, September 28, 2008

September 28th... A great day for PUMPKINS!

Who says it needs to be October to start harvesting pumpkins?

Can you say, "anxious"? Thing is, there's no tellin' who is more anxious, me or him! Can't wait for pumpkin pies, bread, jack o'lanterns, the whole shabang!

October, here we come!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Lunch with Daddy - Tomato Tart Style!

We don't often get Daddy at home in the middle of the day. But, lucky for us, yesterday he decided to work from home. He actually needed a bit of concentration time, so we took our play outside and found another bounty of tomatoes in the garden. Zeal picked a huge bowl of the cherry tomatoes, and then stayed outside to play while I went in and "did something with them."

Since we had a bunch of fresh dug garlic and these wonderful little tomatoes, I made this tomato tart. Since I had been making pie crusts lately, it was easy to whip out another. I think the Fontina cheese (and fresh organic tomatoes, of course) is what made this so good. I thought we could eat half for lunch and half for dinner, but alas, it got all eaten up with lunch.

I usually only share dishes Zeal makes with me here (or does on his own) but since he grew and harvested the main ingredient, I figure that is doing his part and it's okay to share.

This weekend, I will be going to a Harvest/Gratitude Women's Circle, and need to bring a dish representing the harvest. Since tomatoes and garlic are the only things I'm harvesting right now, this will be the perfect dish to bring.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Did I say, "Enough for ONE pie?"

I meant 32!

Okay, it looked like we had picked blackberries enough for one whole pie, which we were actually pretty excited about.

Until... Zeal pulled out this old favorite kitchen tool - a pastry mold - and we decided to make a bunch of little snack pies instead. Now he's jumping up and down about it; he's so pleased!

So we ended up with 8 for us now (enough for dessert tonight and leftovers for lunches tomorrow)


24 to stick in the freezer for yummy winter snacks:

And so begins our freezer journey... more to come, for sure.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Backyard Treasures

So we're up in the morning, and getting things going around the house and decide to go throw the dog a ball for a bit before we leave for our day out.

We're busy admiring the growth in our backyard, amazed that things are flourishing the way they are even though we've done a less than stellar job of watering this summer. Thanks, I guess, to our unseasonably wet August.

Zeal ventures to the back corner of the yard, where we rarely travel, to "fetch" the ball when Bengali doesn't do her job as well as she normally does.

And lookie what he found? Just sitting back there in the corner, doing a beautiful job of ripening while we had no idea they were there. A treasure from the alley --- blackberries!!!

We had heard they were spraying the plants down by the river, so we lamented that we wouldn't have free blackberries this year. But here they are, in our very own yard --- and FREE!

Just enough for one pie!

But it will have to wait till tomorrow, for now we must head out for our day.
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