Friday, May 29, 2009

My Peeps and Dinner

Get ready for a photo!

Staying still for the photographer...

Ok, last one...we are hungry!!

Have you ever heard of studies that prove that people live longer lives when they have a close-knit community? This is the kind of world I live in. I know all my neighbors in a 1/2 mile radius. Well, I guess that is easy when every one is on 40 acre parcels for the most part.... In fact, the only reason I may not be able to live in a big city again is because there is such a large community of wonderful people here I could not bear to leave. Big-hearted, kind, creative, funny, genuine people. When I attend any kind of event in my community, I will certainly know someone there. A rare kind of place nowadays.
Last night, I had a small group of friends over to watch the documentary "The Business of Being Born," which was lovely. And, considering all the women pictured above have had home births, it is a topic near and dear to our hearts. They let me cook them dinner, feed them a bit of wine and enjoy swapping stories about our lives. Perfect kind of night for me.
My super-duper excited five year old took the photos above. She is becoming quite the photographer.

Vegan Green Goddess Dressing with Endive Spears
Broccoli Crostini
Salad with Mint and Radishes
Zucchini Salad with Pine Nuts
Grilled Niman Ranch Sausages

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Caramelized Turnip Tart

This was dinner night before last. I saw the olive oil tart recipe posted on the wonderful blog Chocolate and Zucchini, and decided to make it. Inspired by the fresh turnips from our farm share, I went to work. Turnips early in the growing season taste like a mix of a radish and potato. Turnips are great sources of calcium and potassium and only 36 calories for a apple sized turnip.
I precooked the tart, then cooked it more with the turnips. Next time I will roll my tart dough out thinner so the crust is lighter and crispier; about 1/4 inch thick. It was so easy and so flavorful that I will be making this again and again. It would be wonderful with fresh summer heirloom tomatoes.

Caramelized Turnips:

7 or 8 medium sized turnips, washed and trimmed (peel outer skin if later in season)
1 tbls lemon juice
3 tsp tamari (soy sauce)
3 tbls evoo (extra virgin olive oil)
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesean cheese
Set turnip greens aside to wash and chop
Slice turnips 1/2 inch thick. Toss with evoo, tamari and lemon juice in bowl. Spread out on cookie sheet and bake in 350 degree oven for 25-35 min. Check every 10 minutes or so, and turn turnips atleast once to brown each side.

Blanch turnip greens for 2 minutes. Drain well and sautee until tender (4 min) with a tbls. of the leftover oil from the turnip bowl.

Cook empty tart for 15 minutes in oven while turnips are cooking. Remove tart from oven, and scatter the greens on the bottom of the tart and top with parmesean. Remove turnips from oven and arrange in tart pan over the greens and parmesean. Take the leftover lemon and squeeze any remaining juice over the top of the turnips. Return to oven for 20 minutes.
Remove and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ultra Cool Potholders

A very close friend of mine made these potholders for a girlfriend's wedding. The pictures do not even do them justice. She got all the wool fabric from thrift stores, then felted it in the washing machine. She designed and sewed them all herself. I love that they are naturally flame retardant by being 100% wool. I totally hijacked them when I saw them at her house and took photos. My personal favorite is the bird nest. Thank you for letting me post this very talented and inspiring friend who I also happen to love very much!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hubba Bubba

She learned how to blow bubbles today. She has been trying for a while now, but today was the day. She rushed over in breathless excitement every time she blew a bubble and wanted me to kiss them. As much as I like "natural" gum like Glee Gum, the old fashioned Hubba Bubba did the trick. Big day in kidland.

Spicy Carrot Dressing

Yesterday was the first vegetable pick-up for our farm share. I spent the whole day looking forward to it. I was not disappointed. Turnips, carrots, cilantro, spring onions, radishes and lettuce. For lunch I started digging into the fresh produce, hoping to come up with something creative. I remembered in the latest issue of Sunset Magazine there was a carrot dressing that looked good. So, here is my own incarnation of that dressing. Our little friend B. is here today, and he ate radishes dipped in the dressing. His little mouth was burning from the chili sauce, but I gave him a glass of milk and he kept on going! I imagine this would be a great dipping sauce for spring rolls, or on a salad too.

Spicy Carrot Dressing:
1/3 cup fresh carrot juice
1 tbls toasted sesame oil
1 tbls olive oil
1 tsp sriracha chili sauce
1 tsp sweet rice vinegar
juice of one lime
1 tbls minced onion (I used spring onion)
salt to taste

Oh it was delicious. And spicy.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Farro Salad

Have you heard of it? It is a type of wheat, that when cooked produces a chewy, soft but surprisingly firm texture. It is cooked like pasta, in a pot of salted water for 20-25 minutes, then drained. I think it tastes and looks like a mix between barley and wheat berries.
Today we are going to a bbq in town, and I made a rasberry and ollaberry pie, and farro salad to bring.
Here it the recipe:

1 1/2 cups farro
1/2 head radicchio
1 leek
1/3 cup chives chopped
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cups fresh shelled peas (frozen will do if no fresh)
2 tbls olive oil
1 tbls lemon juice
2 tbls white truffle olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Trim and slice leek longways, and add to pot of salted boiling water you will be using for the farro for 7-8 minutes. Remove and grill for 5 minutes on each side.

2. Cook farro for 20-25 minutes in salted boiling water. Add peas to farro for last 4 minutes of cooking. Drain, set aside to cool.

3. Trim radicchio and grill with the leek for about 5 minutes, trying to get all the pieces a little bit grilled. Set leek and radicchio aside for 5 minutes. This will allow the radicchio to steam itself a bit, and make it more tender.

4. Chop leeks and radicchio and add to the bowl with the chopped chives and onion. Add lemon juice and salt.

5. After farro has cooled (I put mine in the fridge for 15 min to speed it up), add all the leek mixture, olive oil and truffle oil. Mix and season with salt.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Remedy Ingredients

The remedies the Dr. recommended to us were mostly compounds;they had more than one ingredient. A lot of the remedies were by Weleda.
Cinnabar Compound was recommended for sore throats. Ingredients: Equal parts of Apis venenum purum 5X, Belladonna (M) 3X, Mercurius sulphuratus ruber 5X (Cinnabaris 5X).

Here is a bit of information though....I found a medical Dr. that practices Anthroposophical medicine for women and children in Chicago. Dr. Andrea Rentea at the Paulina Medical Clinic 773-583-7793. Just another option to ponder!
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Broccolini Crostini

It is 8:20 pm. Kid just fell asleep, husband at his blue grass band practice, me blogging about dinner and about to eat some coconut bliss mint ice cream. The house is quiet, and it is my favorite time of the day. I have grilled out the last week almost every night. Our grocery store switched over to Smart Chicken Organics and I have been grilling chicken thighs quite a few nights in a row here because they are so much better than my old brand Coastal Organics.
My other current food kick is broccolini. Do you eat broccolini? It is supremely better than broccoli. It has less of a sulfur taste, and has a richer, sweeter more mellow taste. And, you eat the whole thing, stems and all. I blanch mine for 2 minutes.
Here is what I came up with for dinner tonight: (along with corn on the cob and grilled chicken thighs....)

Broccolini Crostini: Sourdough bread grilled, smeared with herbed goat chevre and broccolini

Goat cheese spread:
2 Four oz. pkgs goat chevre
1 tbls chopped tarragon
1 tbls chopped onion (spring, red or green)
pinch salt
1/3 cup chopped chives
Mix with a fork and let sit at room temperature for easy spreading

Blanch 1 bunch of broccolini in salted boiling water for two minutes. Remove and coarsely chop into 2 inch pieces.
In a bowl, toss with 3 tbls. very good quality olive oil
pinch salt
2-3 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Toast thick slices of good quality sourdough bread
Coat each slice of bread with a good amount of the herbed goat chevre
Top with Broccolini, making sure to scoop out olive oil from bottom of bowl with the broccolini too.

The tarragon is the star ingredient of the goat cheese spread. Having a very good quality olive oil is also very essential to this dish. The sourdough tang is wonderful with the olive oil and lemon. I really enjoyed dinner tonight. Can you tell?

New Remedies

Just a bit about our Anthroposophical Dr. visit last friday.
I started my home remedy kit after visiting the Dr. She was very interested in M's constitution, and gave me a remedy for her separation anxiety at school. I have been giving it to her every morning before school this week, and there has been a dramatic change. No crying, almost no whining, and the other day she said she did not want to leave school when I went to pick her up. Total turn around!
I got remedies for the following
1. beginning of fever
2. fevers that are lasting
3. sore throats
4. infections of lungs, throat, ears
5. ear aches
6. sinus congestion
The Dr. explained to me the main goal of this style of alternative medicine is to support a child's body so that any infection or virus moves down and out of their bodies, and does not settle in their vital organs where it can become more dangerous (I am thinking like bronchitis, pneumonia, meningitis etc). This is done by keeping a child extra warm, compresses on the skin and homeopathic remedies. What I really love about this form of care, is that it is not dangerous and is very gentle on little people's bodies. And, you can do all of these treatments along with allopathic treatments and it won't interfere!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Fundraiser dinner

Saturday night was a fundraiser for our beloved cultural center. Six families volunteered to open their houses to those who wanted to pay $25 each for a night of drinks and food. After, everyone met at the cultural center for dessert and live music. D and I were one of the hosts for this event. I thought we were only going to have 10 people, but we got 20 guests, and it was a blast. We choose to have a pizza night since it is so informal and fun. D has gotten pretty good at pizza making.
We decided to make homemade margaritas and our friends inspired us to make negronis also. I set up an impromptu bar in our kitchen, and everyone helped themselves. Lets just say quite a few people has quite a bit of fun that night (myself included). I thought to post pictures and give you my drink recipes, since this is a holiday weekend coming up. Good margaritas are a wonderful thing. I invested in a citrus juicer I plug into the wall so I can juice a bunch of limes at once and get a big jar of juice. I feel very strongly against sour mix while making a margarita, so here is the 100% handmade version.

1 shot cointreau
1 shot tequila
1 shot fresh lime juice
Shake with ice, pour over ice

1 shot gin
1 shot campari
1 shot dry vermouth
1 twist orange peel
Shake with ice and pour over ice

I also put out my Green Goddess Dressing as dip with endive spears. Everyone really liked it. In my photo my endive looks a little mangled. I assembled it 5 minutes before guests arrived, so I tore some. D prepped all the pizza ingredients and set them out on the island. He cooked 14 pizzas in 1 1/2 hours!

Jedi mind tricks

Somehow my 5 year old has managed to sign up for a Jedi Mind Tricks class. She goes to class after her parents go to bed. She is receiving very good training, and although we do not know her teacher's name, I know they must be an old master with lots of experience. She will not tell me the specifics of this class, but has eluded that it is something along the lines of "Torture with Whining".
Since friday she has managed to say the same phrase over and over and over again. In fact, it has been the first thing she says as she wakes up, and the last thing she says going to bed for three straight days. On saturday she managed to say it for almost three hours in a row.
In a row. (but the last hour she was in her room saying it to herself due to us putting her there because she would not stop saying it)
I might speculate how many times my daughter has uttered the phrase
"I don't want to go to swim class" at about 500 times, but I cannot be sure. I know it is over 400 times though, and by the end of today it may be up to 700.
I am marveling at her stamina. I am thinking about how when she is an adult I will appreciate this trait in her. Not today, however.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

officially summer

One event happens in my life that is the true sign of summer.
I shave.
Go summer.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Swimming lesson part two

Dr. visit went well. Swimming lessons, not so well.
She got dunked again by the teacher, and the novelty wore off. So we are leaving swimming lessons and she starts in. But I was having a hormonal, I have-had-enough day.

Momma, I hate swimming lessons
(of course you said hate. that is your favorite word now!)

I am sorry you hate swimming lessons

No, I really hate them. My eyes were stinging in the water and I don't want to go anymore. I really really don't like swimming lessons. Please don't make me go again.

Sorry. You are going. You asked for them, I paid and you are going. We all had to dunk our heads under the water and no one likes it. You will get used to it. Every time you finish a class I will take you out for ice cream. But, you are going.
(that is the part when I became a really bitchy mother, right about when I got my period, my blood sugar got low and I had stop the car and latch her seat belt for her new booster seat for like the 20th time of the day.)

Oh yes, you are going. You Are Going. And then I heard haunted house music in my head.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Anthroposophical Dr. visit

Tomorrow I am taking M. to get her kindergarten well check at a new doctor's office. She is a Anthroposophical Doctor. The focus with this kind of medicine is treating the whole person. They prescribe homeopathics and botanicals along with traditional medicine. I love my naturopath, but if I need antibiotics, she cannot prescribe them, nor does insurance cover her visits.
I am very excited about this for a couple of reasons. First, I am going to ask for a homeopathic remedy that may help my daughter's sudden case of anger issues which is manifesting as body slamming, growling, defiance and separation anxiety. Secondly, the doctor is a MD which means my insurance will pay for the visit. Third, this clinic offers vaccines that are separated (no more MMR together!) and free of all preservatives. These are not available at traditional pediatrician's offices because they are from europe. Our local mainstream pediatrician told me these kinds of vaccines do not exist. Well at least in her mind they don't.

M. has had four vaccines; 3 DTaP and 1 Polio. We have rampant whooping cough in our county, due to all the unvaccinated kids. Whooping cough is a major nightmare. Coughing for months. That means months of listening to my kid cough all night for a very long time. No thank you very much.
So I made my pediatrician Swear to God M. would not get autism before she got stuck with the needle. Literally, I made her say "I swear to God your kid will not get autism from this shot".
No wonder she doesn't like me so much.
I am sure she has put me in the category of "Annoying Parent".

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

May Day Festival

May Day was great. I always am apprehensive because of my introverted nature, but each year as time goes by, I am more comfortable. Plus, girlfriends help. A lot. We are lucky that this is our property, and it is only a 2 minute walk over to the big party. If I need a break, I just walk home.
This year I took pictures. The day begins with the ceremony, which is a mix of different representations of spring like May Maidens, Crones, Green Man, Bumble Bee Parade and Speaking From the Heart. Everyone is in a big circle and afterward, everyone walks down to the big meadow for picnic, merriment and partying late into the night. A festival of the community that has been organized for over 30 years to celebrate the arrival of May. There were too many pictures to post, so here is a link to my Picasa web album if you would like look at them.
Click here to see photos.

Green Goddess Dressing Take Two

And then I made a salad for lunch.
Butter lettuce
Grilled Asparagus
Chopped Pink Lady Apple
Kalamata Olives
Green Goddess Dressing
it was tasty.

Vegan Green Goddess Dressing

I know I made vegan dressing then ate it with a grilled steak! Mostly I was trying to make a dairy-free dressing.
I love Green Goddess dressing. It comes in all different styles. This dressing requires a blender, but took 10 minutes to make. We ate it over blanched broccolini and it was very tasty. Although broccolini drizzled with great olive oil and salt is wonderful on its own.

Vegan Green Goddess Dressing

1 pkg. Mori-Nu Firm silken tofu
3 green onions, tops and bottoms trimmed
1 tbls good quality olive oil
pinches of salt
1 tbls apple cider vinegar
1 bunch chives roughly chopped
1/2 cup cilantro
Blend until smooth. This is a great spread for sandwiches, salad dressing and dipping sauce.

I am working on MayDay photos. I have so many of them I am doing a slide show on Picassa. I will post soon!

Friday, May 8, 2009

swim lesson #1

It went well, she was not scared, and was all smiles as you can see. The teacher was a hard ass. I say that in the nicest way possible though. My M. needs a hard ass. I will call the teacher a cuddly hard ass.
M. put he head under water or rather was dunked under water three times by the teacher. But, she did not cry and did not choke and was totally excited about the whole darn thing. The gross me out state of the pool was another factor though, but as long as there was chlorine in the pool to kill things....
Of course I say this after I swear to god the teacher fished out a big loogie floating around, out of the pool.


If you have 30 minutes, you can have great risotto.
You can add almost anything that you like to customize.
Here is what I did

1 cup Arborio rice
2 1/2 cups chicken stock hot on stove
2 Tbls olive oil
1/2 onion chopped fine

Sautee onion in olive oil until translucent then add rice and sautee for about 6-8 min slightly toasting the rice. Then, add 1/2 cup stock at a time. Stir until stock is soaked up and then continually add 1/2 cup until the rice has absorbed the stock. This will take about 20 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to stir the risotto. This will prevent the rice grains from breaking.
I added fresh peas. I shelled them while I was adding stock, and added them after the last bit of stock to slighlty cook them.
I added sauteed baby artichokes, spring onions and proscuitto.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Acting Out

My newly turned five year old is suddenly experiencing separation anxiety. We are also having bouts of scratching, growling and acting out like nothing I have seen. I pulled out my Parenting with Love and Logic book last night to study up. Three days this week she has cried when we have dropped her off at school. Highly unusual. Even the first day I left her at preschool almost two years ago she did not cry. The teacher pulled me aside to discuss this and we are scratching our heads. And although I am working again, I am only working while she is at school. Quite mysterious.
And so tomorrow, she starts her swimming class. I will be there watching, but not swimming. I think I need to do a rain dance or something so it does not end in disaster. The teacher is a no nonsense, post-menopausal German lady, who I hear does not take "no" for an answer. This all sounds like a good blog post....I will have to remember to take pictures.

Oven Roasting Leeks

Oven roasting leeks produce a buttery rich inside and a crispy skinned outside. I find even my daughter will eat them. Sometimes I roast 7 or 8 at a time and save the extras for my lunch sandwich or an impromptu pasta dinner.
Last night we had friends over for dinner and I did not have a lot of time to pull of a major dinner project. So, I roasted everything except my meatloaf in one dish. It turned out really great. I even kept changing the oven temperatures because of my meatloaf and the vegetables did not seem to mind. I posted pictures of how I trim my leeks to get the dirt out. Tell me how it turns out if you whip this up in your kitchen.
1 bunch asparagus
10 little yukon gold potatoes
3 really large leeks (or 5 small ones)
a generous amount of olive oil to coat
a couple of pinches of salt
Cook uncovered in around a 375 degree oven for 60 minutes or until potatoes are tender with a knife

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

More on Undenatured Whey Protein and Glutathione

Undenatured Whey Protein is a way to increase the glutathione (GSH) in your body. Glutathione recycles antioxidants in our body, transports toxins out of your body and is a "first line of defense" antioxidant working hard to neutralize free radicals that we are exposed to from bacteria, viruses, aging, pollution and stress. Some doctors estimate around 50% of us are glutathione deficient.
Glutathione is so useful, it is used as n-acetyl cysteine (NAC) form in emergency rooms for tylenol overdoses. It works beause it sticks to toxins in the liver, moves it to the bile and then is excreted out in bowel movements.I choose not to use NAC however because it does not convert into glutathione very effectively and I think whey protein is the safest choice.
If whey is processed at or below 150 degrees (how undenatured whey protein is made), its fragile disulfide bond is intact and is resistant to digestive enzymes, and easily absorbed into the bloodstream. Cystine is important in boosting GSH in our bodies, and whey protein is made of a tripeptide protein with glycine, cysteine and glutamate. These are broken apart and re-organized in the body as GSH. Blood levels of GSH can be measured, and there have been studies done on GSH and COPD and exposure to ozone related to air pollution. The county I live in has the highest levels of ozone of any rural county in the US. The American Lung Association just gave our county a F rating for quality of air. This is a constant problem with so many parents worried that their child's asthma is related to bad air quaility and warnings every year for children not to exercise on "bad air days". I was at a seminar last year about our local air pollution and listened to a physician who specialized in asthma tell a room of 100 people there was nothing nutritional you can do to help counteract exposure to air pollution besides use inhalers. Wow.
Of particular interest with whey and influenza, GSH it is the principal antioxidant of deep lung cells, so can be of value to deep lung issues like asthma, COPD and respiratory viruses. In fact inhaled GSH is used as a treatment for cystic fibrosis, but from the research I have found, not as effective as undenatured whey protein. Influenza creates oxidative stress, and can cause pneumonia as a result. If drinking a protein drink will offer so many benefits with little to no side effects, count me in.

double chocolate peanut butter cookies with walnuts

An indulgence! I added peanut butter just to see what would happen. Gives the cookies more depth. Very easy kid recipe!

2/3 cup cocoa 1 1/2 cups unbleached whole wheat flour (but any kind will do)
1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

pinch salt

2/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup white sugar (I used a little less..)
9 Tbls butter room temp

1/2 cup peanut butter
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Cream the orange ingredients until fluffy then add peanut butter and blend in by hand. Sift the blue ingredients into the orange ingredients. Stir in chips and walnuts.
Form 2-3 inch balls with hands, put on cookie sheet spacing apart at least 2 inches. Cook 20 minutes in a 325 degree oven.


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