Sunday, January 30, 2011

Kids Cook Monday

As I said last Monday, My husband has been cooking up a storm with my older daughter. A few weeks back she helped him cut mushrooms and then fell in love with them - awesome right?

Then, I read the Frugal Living NW blog series on beans. It was fate and time to cook up some beans and mushrooms. My genius husband came up with turkey chili and cornbread. They must have been in the kitchen an hour with my older cutting mushrooms and taste testing - then we all gobbled the entire pot down. It was awesome!

Meatless Monday - UnChicken Noodle Soup

I follow a blog titled Everything Is Homemade and I'm enjoying Amy's posts. A while back she had a great recipe for UnChicken Noodle Soup which I thought would make a great meatless monday

Looks super yummy and I love the idea of chick peas in the soup... she posted a lot of notes about how she would change things up the next time she made it so read all the way down :)

I'm out of town for MM this week so this will have to be it for now.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Girl Power

Maybe it is all the talk about strict vs. relaxed mothering, or the talk about what the princess complex does to girls - but lately I have had more of in interest in - well, girl power.

A while back I bookmarked this list from Non-Toxic Kids - 4 Books to Empower Young Girls
Then recently, a friend of mine posted an article and then I heard an NPR piece by Peggy Orenstein who recently released a book titled "Cinderella Ate My Daughter"
And just today I was listening to this piece on NPR about Tunisian women and their role in the revolution (which literally had me crying I was so empowered by the story).

I wonder nearly daily if my daughters will feel the same way I do now? Will they see any glass ceilings, will they feel differently about math or science, will they have a professional sport to play or team to route for? I really hope to keep encouraging them so that they just might!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Kids Cook Monday

Kids Cook Monday is fairly new movement but ever since I received the email asking me to participate I have been so very happy that I have. I actually have a few meals now lined up to talk about but I've been meaning to talk in particular about a project my older daughter and I took on over the holiday. It was the family tradition of making peanut butter balls!

Yep, this is something I have been doing in my family for as long back as I can remember (not even sure how old the recipe but these and popcorn balls go back as far as my memory). I believe some might know them as buckeyes or some other name - we just call them PB in Chocolate. It is a hearty helping of butter, peanut butter, and powdered sugar rolled, then dipped in some melted chocolate and dropped on wax or into little mini cups.Thankfully no one is allergic to peanut butter :)

I can hardly believed the patience my older daughter had - helping dad roll dozens of them, helping me dip and decorate 100's of them (and only eating a very few). It something we talk about every year and I just love having the memory of my mom and grandma, and I especially love the my kids will have that same memory now too.

PS these freeze well and you can top them for any season (a little red candy or colored white chocolate for any season drizzled on top and you have your own gourmet candy).

Meatless Monday

Lately we have been eating our veggie soup from Soup cycle that comes on Wednesdays with Quesadillas. So when I saw this recipe on MM a few weeks back for Sweet Potato Quesadillas it got me thinking about the various things I might be able to sneak into my kids tortillas... So far not much luck - my little on especially seems to be on a vegetable strike.

My older daughter started her new school lunch menu a few weeks ago (they have a seasonal menu and do a great job getting as much high protein, meatless, healthy food in the kids as they can). The new menu has quinoa on it twice. She has had it several times before and just basically treated it as rice - but to be honest I hadn't cooked with it much at home so I wasn't surprised when I heard complaints the first week. So last week I cooked up a very simple batch. I cooked the quinoa in vegetable broth rather than just water and I added in some steamed sweet potato, corn, and some black beans. We'll, I thought it was delicious anyway :) ...never-the-less, I did hear the very next week that she did in fact eat at least some of the dish at school which had cheese and zucchini - so hay! I'm really hoping that by cooking it every so often at home she will begin to see that we are on board with the new menu as a whole family.

Yea for Meatless Monday  - and for our meatless school menu for giving me the idea for last weeks dish.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

More connections to your food - er - drink source

We just recently brought home another half a hog (from a different farm here in Oregon than the last one- but still equally as nice). This of course got me thinking more about the post I did a while back about being connected to your food source. This can easily be true for what we eat - but what about for what we drink?

While you can get your milk from a local dairy and you can squeeze your own juice from local apples - I just can't resist a post about a friend of ours who makes an amazing local wine! Before I tell you more - I want to openly admit to not knowing much about wine and that I'm really not much of a drinker in general. That said - I do love Oregon Pinto a lot and as an average (I'm going to leave it at that) wine consumer I really love these wines I'm about to tell you about.

So, I recently stocked my very first wine rack with several cases of wine by Anne Hubatch with Helioterra Wines and some of her partner wine projects (you can read more on her site). I have never even thought to purchase wine by the case before because it actually didn't occur to me that this would be a very inexpensive way to purchase my wine. Through invitations to purchase early I grouped together a few friends and together we made several purchases of Anne's wine (and partner wines). Buying by the case I was allowed to mix my purchases and also get discounts the more I purchased. Her wines are made with local Oregon and Washington grapes, are very reasonably priced, and frankly I can't wait to see what 2011 has in store for her.

But what really makes me feel good (aside from knowing I can actually afford to drink more wine) is knowing her family. Our children and families are good friends, they have an amazing sense of adventure and spirit and tremendous love of the earth as well. I can't help but think of them or talk about them every time we open a bottle around other friends or family. This is yet again such a great reason to be connected to your food (ok drinking) source!

PS - thanks Anne for making me invest in a wine rack ;)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Guilty purchases

I hadn't been to Target in quite a while. I avoid these big places during the holidays at all costs. But last weekend I was on the lookout for some socks for my little one this time (seems my older was this age in the summer so not so many hand-me-downs). OMG there was so much on clearance that it had my head spinning. The $1 socks, the $1.98 and $2.20 shirts that I put in my cart had my mind racing (and it adds up fast).

Yes, these are great deals on clothing for kids and I'm obviously not judging anyone who buys clothes at target - we have lots of clothes from target. My kids are in daycare and they actually do "play" so I'm sure this is all useful and affordable - but is it sustainable. My heart is really torn when I make these types of purchases.

Now, let me tell you why...

I was recently told by a vendor that cotton prices are going up very soon. Also, Inc. had a great article on this topic recently (see Clothing start-ups seek solutions as cotton prices climb). Seems cotton farmers have suffered this last year and cotton is actually in shorter supply than demand. For these prices to be on the clothing at Target - someone is probably not getting paid their due (I'm not saying who it is - this I don't know for certain- but it's my guess anyway).

I grew up in the central valley of California and there were plenty of cotton farms in and around our town. In fact I can clearly remember seeing the yellow stains on my dads truck after driving to and from work near crops that were being sprayed with pesticides or defoliants. I even had to do a paper on how cotton grows and visit a cotton farm and processing plant in the 6th grade.So I know it is a labor and petroleum product intensive plant - this cannot be good for the environment.

So, how can clothing sell for $1.98? Where was it made, how far was it shipped, at what environmental cost? To deal with my now guilty conscience, here are some things I'll be trying to keep in mind the next time I see these "great deals":
  • There is both a goodwill and a second hand consignment store right in my neighborhood (though I really wish the kids second hand shop was open on Sunday - for working parents this is tough).
  • There are more places than ever to find organic clothing (lots of daily deal sites like even offer reasonable deals on organic clothing).
  • Though I haven't used any of them there are more and more clothing swap sites popping up like this one advertised on a daily deal jasmere just today.
  • I care for the clothing I do purchase and gladly pass it on to someone else to use (hay sis, hope your little one likes the new shirts she's going to get in a few months). 
I'm not saying I'll never buy clothing from Target again, but if anyone wants to go on a shopping spree at Goodwill or another second hand store soon look me up - I could use some clothes but I'm feeling like a swap or second hand purchase would ease my heart and my wallet right about now!

*photo courtesy of kirsche222 @ stock.xchnge

Monday, January 10, 2011

Meatless Monday

Meatless Monday has been difficult for us lately. Not only did we recently get a half a hog recently (we had the great excuse before this pickup of not having much meat in the house forcing us to find meatless alternatives), but we have also been in a bit of a rut cooking the same meatless dishes we know the kids will love (tofu stir-fry still seems to be the most popular - my kids both just love tofu).

That said - this week I will be attempting to make a quinoa salad that the family will actually eat. I'm going to cook the quinoa in vegetable broth and add in some sweet potato, corn, and black beans. For some folks this isn't too crazy of a recipe but for a family that hasn't had quinoa on the menu much this will probably be a funny face dinner night.

The main reason I'm adding quinoa to the menu is that my older daughters school has it on their weekly lunch menu and I have heard my daughter mention she doesn't like the "rice with squash" at school. I wanted to be sure to show her that her school menu and home menu are both similar in nature and that has a family we will all try new things together.

I should add that my daughter is very good (usually) about trying new foods. A few years back we used to use the phrase from Green Eggs and Ham "try them, try them and you may. Try then and you may I say." and the smiles were usually met with at least one bite going down. She is also terrific at actually saying she does in fact like something she whined about having to try - which I have to admit I never would have done as a kid ;)

Oh, and if you know of any other kid friendly quinoa recipes you want to share please do. Our adventures will begin one night this week.

Kids Cook Monday

I know this post is way beyond the holidays and really has nothing to do with cooking food of any kind but I still wanted to share it under Kids Cook Monday anyway.

For a couple of years now my daughter and I have always celebrated winter and summer solstice (winter with hot chocolate and summer with a popsicle) but this year I had work travel on the solstice. So instead we had a solstice crafting and hot chocolate party with a bunch of her friends - a few days before the actual solstice.

In advance of the party we decided to make some salt dough ornaments (just google it - there are a million version of the recipe). She and my husband diligently spent hours rolling and cutting out various holiday shapes - including this super fun ninja gingerbread kid (or as she called it a warrior pose ornament). We baked them and the kids had a blast painting them!

I love the idea of working with dough or clay and this was so fun that I think in the future I'll make some and let her shape it by hand and we'll dry it out and paint it for some presents (maybe some hears for valentines day).

Like I said - not cooking food - but still super fun :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Its a paradox

I don’t know why I’m having trouble writing to this blog these days. Maybe it is because I am a full-time working mom with a full-time working husband with two kids in two different daycares. Maybe it is because year one in daycare I was immediately reminded of year one with my older which was full of illnesses, coughs, infections, tantrums, teething, and sleep regression (but now times two – or maybe times ten). Maybe it is because many of the reasons I started this blog are long gone as we are now once again two working parents. Whatever the reasons, I’m slowly putting pen to paper and forming ideas again – so we shall see.

Last night I was listening to my husband explain what a paradox is to my older daughter (he did a terrific job by the way). One thing that remains true about this blog was my desire to write about my families struggles with life’s big and little balances. It is so hard to give up and give away – but it brings you so much in return. It is not easy – to live simple. We need modern items - but old ways should not be forgotten. That has been and will continue to be our struggle. To find balance, to live more – have more adventure, love, a sense of wonder – but to do it with less – less impact, money, time, etc. 

I’m contemplating the yin and the yang of my life right now and my goal now is to write more about it here. I hope you will join me in comments, ideas, and even blog contributions if you wish.
Thanks especially if you stuck around and waited for this post. 

(royalty free photo from stock.xchange)