Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Food Freedom!

Thank you to Arun from The Parenting Pit for permission to reprint this cartoon here. Your banana smoothie is forthcoming!

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Joyful Vegan Family

You are joyfully invited to a presentation on Monday May 5, 2008, 7PM at the Eugene Veg Education Network. I will be speaking on the Joyful Vegan Family. The presentation will include:
-nourishing kids with a vegan diet (whether they be young children, teens, grandkids or the neighbor kids)
-resources for vegan/vegetarian families
-other issues related to raising vegan children such as: travel, packing snacks and lunches, family and community meals, and cooking with kids
-recipes the whole family will love

From the EVEN website:
EVEN is a non-sectarian, official 501(c)(3) non-profit organization devoted to educating the general public about the impact of their food choices... By our own choices, through the example of our own lives, all of us can make the world better or worse. Each day the choice is ours. What do we choose?

Office Snacks

The issue of space has come up now again when I talk with mamas about where they cook and eat with their kids. Our kitchen’s too small. There’s not enough room for more than one. The counters are too high. I know the feeling. I’m embarrassed to put it out there in such a public forum, but when we lived in Indonesia, we called our kitchen a “one butt kitchen” – small kitchens we can’t seem to get away from.

So here might be one solution for those of you finding yourselves in a similar issue to us – with a “one butt kitchen”. This little nook of our house has always been known as “Zeal’s Art Room”, there’s a sign on the door to prove it. Lately he’s been calling it his “office”. It’s where we keep many of our art supplies, books about art, and often where some of his art gets displayed. It’s also home to our laundry machines and, often, our dog. It used to be the back porch of this 1910 Craftsman, until the addition was made.

Lately, when there are just two or three kids, it’s been our snack (and sometimes breakfast and lunch) place. With easy access to the kitchen and the outdoors, the kids can easily be involved in a variety of projects, including their favorite outdoor waterplay, and quickly sneak in for a snack.

So I said all that to say, that this inexpensive drop down table turned a tiny space into a space that is totally usable in an instant, and an open space again when we need it.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Table Where Rich People Sit: Community Meals

There are days when we do not want to come here, especially when the sky is threatening one of its Pacific Northwest out-of-nowhere showers. Yesterday was one of those days. But we came anyway. It’s our job. We volunteer here.

This place is Food For Lane County’s Grassroots Garden. It’s perhaps the most amazing place within a 100-mile radius of our home, and we’ve been delighted to be a part of it for four years now. About every other week (sometimes more often, when the weather is really bad less often) we come out for about 3-4 hours. We dig in the dirt, discover the creatures living there, weed, haul leaves, plant vegetables from seed and start, harvest (nearly 40,000 pounds of produce each year), and perhaps most importantly, with the other people who come here ages 0-80, from all backgrounds and of all abilities, we create community together while helping to grow a meal for those who need it.

While sometimes I long to get my hands in the soil more, I often get asked to work the kitchen, and become the one overseeing the preparation for the lunchtime meal for 30-40+ people, a monumental task for someone used to cooking for 3-7 people. I came this day all excited about planting, like these lucky souls:

And instead, I got asked to work here: the lovely and relatively new outdoor kitchen that I have seen so much of lately.

I smiled and said, “Sure” and got to work, this time without all the usual helpers. The garden is usually bustling with teens and children eager to help out. This time, Zeal was the only one under 15. It didn’t stop him from helping out though.

or playing:

It just meant I was in the kitchen mostly by myself: a strange and lonely rarity. Where’s my community, I thought to myself, but got to work, realizing quickly there was very little yet to harvest from the garden and I would have to get creative with what we had so early in the season.

The solution: sautéed leeks, a mustard, chard, and redleaf salad, a large pot of beans bulked up with some stored carrots, potatoes, celery, greens, and chipotle chilies, and a quick dash to the store for a large stack of corn tortillas.

Lunch takes longer when there are fewer hands, but it eventually makes it to the table for all the many hungry garden volunteers who have all spent their entire morning on their knees in the dirt, hauling leaves, or building new shelters for tools. They emerge from their digging places, and the food hits the table. Once again, we all enjoy a meal across generations, across abilities, across the table - together - “where rich people sit.”

There are days when we do not want to come here, but we are always glad, and grateful, that we did.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Kitchen Tool of the Week: Apple-Corer-Peeler-Slicer

When Zeal was about 3, he saved his money for months and months. It took him that long to earn up the twenty dollars it took to buy this wonder-filled kitchen gadget, the handy-dandy Apple-Corer-Peeler-Slicer. It remains a favorite cooking tool to this day. This amazing, and kid-friendly (once an adult has set it up), gadget takes an apple and simultaneously cores, peels, and perfectly slices it in a matter of seconds.

With it you can:
-eat raw apple snacks
-let your child combine the apple pieces with any combination of oats, butter, brown sugar, agave, and cinnamon, toss together and bake until browned for their own special apple crumble. (a perpetual hit here!)
-dip the peeled skin pieces in a batter and make apple skin fritters
-blend the apple slices into pulp and eat as raw apple sauce, or
-cook the apple slices with water and cinnamon down into a cooked sauce.
-of course, just watching the whole phenomenon of the gadget doing its job is truly amazing.

And here's a precious little book you can pair with your apple creations:

A beautiful story about "an old woman who wants to make an apple cake. She sets out with a basket of plums, and along the way trades her plums for feathers, feathers for flowers, and so on until, as last she finds an old man happy to trade for apples from his tree. A story, beautifully illustrated, about sharing, caring, giving, and less importantly, being rewarded."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

French Toast Frenzy

We've been in a little bit of a french toast frenzy these days. Perhaps its the weather and needing to warm ourselves with a special breakfast. Okay, that doesn't really explain having them for dinner, does it?
Still, we've been trying them all sorts of ways:

Traditional (well, not really "traditional" since they are without eggs and using spelt bread - but you get the picture):

Cinnamon Swirl style...MMMMmmmmm! (Yummy, although maybe a bit too sweet depending on your mood):

Or maybe the all time favorite: try it as a kebab! Even scary dragons love them!

These also make wonderful bring-your-french-toast-anywhere snacks and are perfect for late mornings reading in bed. (Our favorite way to spend a morning)

French Toast Kebabs (or just plain easy vegan french toast if you cut out the last step.
6 slices of the bread of your choice
1 ½ cups of soy or almond milk
1 T. flour
½ tsp Ener-G egg replacer
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sugar or agave
oil for cooking
bamboo skewers
maple syrup for dipping

Whisk the milk, flour, egg replacer, cinnamon and sugar together in a shallow bowl.
Heat oil in a pan over low-medium flame.
One at a time, dip bread into the milk mixture for 2 seconds on each side. Transfer to pan and let cook on each side for until browned, about 5 minutes.
Remove form pan and let cool slightly. Then cut each piece into 6-8 smaller pieces using a knife or small cookie cutters to make shapes. Place French toast pieces onto a bamboo skewer. Serve with maple syrup in a small container for dipping.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Longing for Popsicle Picnic Weather

Here's the scene from our house last week:

The flowers are blooming:

The magnolias are coming on fast:

Even the apple tree we thought we'd lost has buds:

It reached 84 degrees F one day last week here in Eugene, Oregon. We spent the day riding bikes, playing in the mud, and exploring down at the river. We came home and had our snack on the lawn with Zeal's new stuffed dog, Bengal-o (that he bought with his own money at the amazing Alpha-bits café in Mapleton, Oregon.)

We had a "Popsicle Picnic" with smoothie popsicles that have been patiently waiting for weather such as this:

All a tease, I suppose...

Yesterday, we woke up with SNOW on the ground. Can somebody please tell Mother Nature and Father Time that it is April 21st? It's officially been spring for a month now and I think they are in a state of utter confusion. While it is great fun, we're just about done with staying indoors to make large pots of soup and other wintery foods. We're ready for popsicles and picnics and campfire food! Anybody else?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Yummy Yarns: Veggie-friendly Reading

Cuddling up for a good read is one of the most precious ways to spend time together as a family. Yet, as vegetarians, storytime isn’t always easy. You likely find yourself changing words to match your own dinner table. You cringe when those loveable characters sit down to their ‘roast beast,’ and you realize you can’t quite force tofu burgers or barbeque tempeh into a credible rhyme. Even if the storyline doesn’t explicitly mention meat, often the illustrations reflect a carnivorous society. Well, look no further.

Whether you’re hoping to start a vegetarian friendly library or add to your young vegetarian’s already established literary collections, here are some choices that are as scrumptious as tonight’s veggie feast.

Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert
With simple words and pictures, Lois Ehlert takes even our youngest vegetarians on an adventure. From idea to seed to sprout to harvest to dinner table, little ones journey through what it takes to grow the best vegetable soup. Also available as a board book.
Ages 0-3 (Harcourt, Inc.)

Making Minestrone by Stella Blackstone; illustrated by Nan Brooks

“What do you do when you are feeling lonely?” Make minestrone with your friends, of course! This fun, simple rhyming tale through the garden and kitchen tells of five multi-ethnic friends who gather ingredients to make soup while the animals frolic about. A truly delightful menagerie of vegetarian flavors and friends! An easy vegan recipe follows this yummy story.
Ages 1 and up (Barefoot Books)

Scarlette Beane by Karen Wallace, Illustrated by Jon Berkeley

Scarlette Beane is born with a face that is as red as beet and green fingers, and she is destined to do something wonderful! On her fifth birthday, Scarlette is given a vegetable garden. With the tips of her fingers glowing and sparkling, amazing things begin to happen. A simple modern day fairy tale with vivid illustrations.
Ages 3-7 (Puffin Books)

Tops and Bottoms, adapted and illustrated by Janet Stevens
We LOVE this book! If you read just one of these stories listed here, let it be this one!
This well-told romp on the value of hard work is beautifully illustrated with realistic watercolors of organic homegrown vegetables. Tops and Bottoms is a clever Caldecott Honor book that will surely be treasured by the whole family.
Ages 4-8 (Harcourt Brace & Company)

To Market to Market written by Anne Miranda; illustrated by Janet Stevens
For all of us who have struggled to change the words to the traditional rhyme, To Market To Market by Anne Miranda is a delight! After multiple trips to market that only result in animals wreaking havoc in her home, this shopper decides to take the animals shopping for everything it takes to make veggie soup. Janet Stevens’ talent shines again with a unique mixture of realistic black and white collage and acrylic paintings that will literally have your little ones rolling with laughter.
Ages 4-8 (Harcourt Brace & Company)

Four Famished Foxes and Fosdyke by Pamela Duncan Edwards, Illustrated by Henry Cole

This is the fabulous tongue twister of a story featuring a family of five foxes.
Fosdyke, the one brother who chooses a different dietary path, prepares fungi, French toast, fresh figs, fennel and fondue. Each time his brothers return from an unsuccessful foraging, they are happily greeted with a vegetarian feast because “A fox is a fox, whatever the food.”
Ages 4-9 (Harper Trophy)

Herb, the Vegetarian Dragon by Jules Bas and Debbie Harter
For any child interested in castles, knights and dragons, Herb the Vegetarian Dragon is a great choice. In true Barefoot Book style, the illustrations are vivid and colorful. While the publisher lists this book as appropriate for 4-8 year olds, many compassionate young ones and their parents may find the subject and storyline too violent. Would make a good ‘tween read.
(Barefoot Books)

The Lady and the Spider by Faith McNulty; illustrated by Bob Marshall
This is an endearing tale of a head of lettuce, the spider inhabiting it, and the lady whose garden in which it grew. This Reading Rainbow Book and old favorite takes us on a journey from two perspectives, that of the lady and that of the spider. Connecting with the spider in the end, the lady returns the spider to its rightful home.
Ages 6-9 (Harper Trophy)

Cows Are Vegetarians: A Book for Vegetarian Kids by Ann Bradley, Illustrations by Elise Huffman ~ Cover by Stephen Kramer

Being a vegetarian is wonderful and Ann Bradley shows us exactly why! Now in its fourth printing, Cows Are Vegetarians is a must have for vegetarian families. It is chock full of simple explanations of the importance of being vegetarian and how vegetarianism is good for animals, people and the environment. This title can be ordered directly from the author at www.cowsareveg.com.
Ages 9-12 (Healthways)

Saving Emily by Nicholas Read, illustrated by Ellen Klem

In this compassionate tale, the lives of twelve year-old Chris, his friend Gina, and a young heifer named Emily from a nearby ranch, are brought together in a life-and-death adventure. Saving Emily is a great read aloud for early readers or independent novel for your ‘tween’ readers about the business of growing and killing food and what the efforts of a few can do.
Ages 10 and up (Prometheus Books)

Play With Your Food by Joost Elfers
Go ahead …play with your food! Learn to really see your food with this inspiring and creative ‘coffee table’ book. Play With Your Food is full of life-sized photos and step-by-step ‘recipes’. Learn to make okra grasshoppers, cucumber lizards, melon turtles, and my son's favorite, the bok choy buffalo, to name a few. These sure would make a great centerpiece for your vegetarian holiday feasts!
All ages (Stewart, Tabori and Chang)

I’m a Vegetarian by Ellen Schwartz, illustrated by Farida Zaman

Give your ‘tweens’ the gift of knowledge with this delightful, information packed resource. Whether they are thinking about becoming vegetarian or have always been one, I’m a Vegetarian will provide young readers with interesting facts, menu ideas, nutrition information and good healthy advice.
Ages 9-12 (Tundra Books)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Kitchen Tool of the Week: Chopstick Friends

When Zeal was about two, my mom gave him some of these chopsticks (the elephants, to be precise, because we had just moved back from India and he was on a "hati" kick). He used them a few times and then we moved and they got put away.

Well, they have just come back in style. Lately, these little elephants have been marching through our kitchen and across our dining table faster and more often than you can say, "A person's a person no matter how small."

He's been eating pieces of tomato, spinach leaves, chunks of cheese, pieces of popcorn, his morning oatmeal, cucumber slices, rice and beans, and even whole pieces of toast using these nifty little tools. They are a novel utensil that even gets him trying things he might otherwise turn his nose up at.

And oh yes, don't forget to put your lips together, hold them TIGHT together, and blow as hard as you can until you sound like you are marching through an Indian jungle with all the confidence of a 4 ton pachyderm. You didn't realize you too could be an elephant, now did you?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Our Little Sweetie Potatoes

Zeal is a big fan of pancakes, and especially waffles. Still, increasingly, I've been trying to cut back on wheat (and other glutens too) from his diet. This morning we made these sweet potato pancakes. It was an experiment in texture, and was a wonderful tactile, play dough type of "recipe", although we didn't use any particular recipe. Here's the ingredients in case you also want to try: sweet potato puree, potato starch, the equivalent of two eggs in Egg replacer powder, water (although I imagine milk would have added a nice creaminess) cinnamon, nutmeg, paprika, dash of salt.

We fried them in a tiny bit of vegetable oil.

And served with maple syrup.

This is the syrup we use, bought in bulk from Honey Heaven in Eugene.

Kinda like pumpkin pie covered in maple syrup for breakfast. They don't look particularly appetizing, but they were super yummy. And look mom, no wheat.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Kitchen Reminiscence

Yesterday we went to Jerry’s, our local independent hardware store – the store my dad drives 10 hours to go to and then actually has the gall to say he’s coming to see me (love ya, Dad, but you know it’s true). We went there for a curtain rod because Zeal has decided he needed curtains where his closet doors are.

While we were there, we wandered into the kitchen section and played a bit in the kitchen displays. Zeal paused in one of the particularly fancy ones. He caressed the granite countertops and drooled over the shimmering backsplash tiles.

“Think of all the cooking we could do in this kitchen, Mom!”

“It’s nice,” I agreed. I was quietly thinking much the same, but continued with “Why do you think we need a fancy kitchen, Raj (my nickname for him since his birth in India)?

He tilted his head slightly, looking thoughtful.

“More space.” He finally said, nodding his head and opening a large drawer, peering all the way into the expanse that it was.
I nodded in agreement, and we smiled at each other, raising eyebrows just a bit – knowing it wasn’t really happening any time soon.
So we left the kitchens that reminded us what we didn’t have, paid for our simple curtain rod, and went home.

Later, we made breakfast for dinner. And laughed. And told stories. And came back for more. In OUR kitchen. And he said, “It’s really small in here, but it sure is fun.”
I thought of the earlier scene in Jerry’s.

And then thought of all the places we have cooked together.

The Grassroots Garden outdoor kitchen (that we also helped to build):

The remote village in Irian Jaya (now West Papua), Indonesia, on the island of New Guinea:

where we prepared the ground oven with hot coals

and baked sweet yams.

The little kitchen in the top floor apartment we rented for a few months in Ithaca, New York:

The kitchen we started to redo in the hills (but then decided to move instead):

And now, finally, our present little kitchen, so full of soul, where we create together daily. It may not be the biggest kitchen. It may not be the best kitchen. It may not be the worst kitchen. But it is OUR kitchen. And we love what happens here.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Kitchen Tool of the Week: Nut Grinder

The little tool that engenders such fun in our kitchen: the nut grinder!

These nut grinders are found in the cooking tool section of your grocery store, and cost just a few dollars. They usually come with a glass jar attached to the bottom half, but Zeal chooses to hold it over a bowl or cup instead. They're great for grinding nuts over oatmeal, salads, or for adding to your favorite recipes. And they are much more fun, easier, and uniform than chopping with a knife.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sandwiches to Smile About

Here's my article this month for my column over at Vegfamily.

Sandwiches to Smile About

By Ginger Carlson

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.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Friendship Bread

About 10 days ago, we were presented with a neighborly gift, the best kind: a bag of goo, a starter for our very own loaf of Amish Friendship Bread. It was an easy recipe. Let it sit the first day. Mash the bag on days 2,3,4,5,7,8, and 9. And on days 6 and 10 you add a few yummy things. Day 10, of course, is baking day.

Here's what we started with:

Now, once this said bag sits and gets mashed for a few days, it ends up, well, bloated, if you will.

That makes mashing, a bit harder.

So, he took to shaking it.

And, when you shake a fermentation-laden bag with all the gusto of what seven years brings, you get this...

and a few tears, I might add. But no worry, because this mama is sure it will work with the starter we have left. Let's keep going.

Alas, day 10 arrives and we add the final ingredients: eggs (we used ener-g egg replacer), oil, milk (we used soy), sugar, cinnamon, vanilla (we were all out, so scraped out the innards of a 1 vanilla bean), baking powder, baking soda, salt, flour, and 1 large box instant vanilla or chocolate pudding mix (we used this one - not instant, but the only one I could find that didn't have a thousand ingredients - somehow I doubt this is the original Amish recipe...do the Amish use instant pudding?)

The friendship bread comes out of the oven, and we are all smiles again.

And we have 4 new starters and he doesn't want to give them all away to friends. Spread the love, I say. Okay, we'll keep one and do it again. We are, after all, friends with ourselves too.
Welcome! Here you will find simple recipes, inspiring ideas, personal stories, inspiration, and tools to experiment and explore the kitchen together.  So enter the family kitchen with absolute abandon, and begin your journey towards thinking outside the recipe!