Friday, August 13, 2010

A day in the life of Alisha....Part Two.

(Click here for part one)

Okay, so as I was saying, The day wasn't totally shot. We would still have a great time, even if it killed us, because I have already gone through a lot of work doggone it! :0) I set out my perfect-for-outside blanket and piled on all the good stuff. I handed out lunches to the kids (cheerios on the baby walker for my littlest tot) and I got out my tuna sandwich. Ah...time to relax and enjoy the great outdoors...oh wait, there are bugs outside. Preston did NOT like that! Okay, there are lids to your lunch containers, so we'll just cover their lunches up between bites, to ensure that bugs don't get to our food before we do. Wait, not just ants, but mosquitoes too! Turns out we needed bug spray way more than all the sunscreen I used on the kids. Okay, so all the kids wanted to eat from their lunches was a few grapes and the two oreos I gave each of them."That's fine," I thought, "I didn't like my tuna sandwich anyway," so I ate Keely's bologna sandwich. Truly, we're still having a good time at this point. I did not yell at my kids for just eating the cookies. I didn't want to fight that battle "perfect mom" day. :) I would not be yelling at the kids today, besides look at how cute they are...I busted out the inflatable "kiddy pool" and filled it up. Preston and Keely were all about sticking their feet in the thing. They did not complain even once about the ridiculousness of the size of the "pool" I got them; which is one of the things I LOVE about this age. I let them get their feet wet, literally, while I tried to hook up the sprinkler to the hose.

***(Sidenote: Turns out this is a great way to rinse off the feet of your children before they come inside the house, since they will inevitablly have grass all over their feet, and Chadwick suggested that they are great for when you are serving drinks that you want to keep cold. Pop a little ice in there and you've got yourself a little cooler) I turned on our hose, and the hose connector popped off spraying water all over our house. (I won't elaborate on this one, but just know that it was a lot of me getting wet while trying to figure out how to get it reattached and stay attached.) When I was done with my escapades, the sprinkler was working, but with little pressure. My four year old was quick to announce that he did not want this sprinkler-- he wanted the "big one", which really meant he wanted more pressure so it would shoot up higher. "Whatever, just enjoy the one we have," I told him. And they did.
While the two older ones played in the sprinkler, I gave the itty bitty his turn in the "pool". He liked it. I decided I didn't like the kids in the grass because of the mosquitoes. I don't think they got bit, but I did, and I didn't want to chance it. We went inside. I got Kipton down for a nap and cleared off the floor of the kitchen.

Did I mention that I have a point? I do. :)
I moved the table and the chairs to the living room, all the toys to the toy box, all the magnets back on the fridge, the trash in the trash can, etc. What's funny, is that the point of this whole story is what I am just about to share with you...a fun way to MOP your kitchen with the kids still in the house, and then an encouraging word! So, now we have come full circle. We're back in the kitchen. The kids were already in their swimsuits, and our floor was sticky in some areas, and needed to be mopped really, really bad. I decided to try a mopping secret I read in a parenting magazine before. I poured water on the floor and got out a towel for each kid and told them to "slip and slide", and showed them how to "mop" the floor with their towel. I joined them in the fun, making sure to get right up against the cupboards, and such. When we were done, I tossed the drenched towels in the washing machine, and got out the wet swiffer. I gave each of them a turn at using the swiffer, and then I went over the whole kitchen one more time. WALAH!!! My kitchen floor has not been this clean since we moved in...and the kids helped, which they loved! I would say that this whole mopping with the towel on your feet idea would probably be the most fun for kids between the ages of 4-9...just my guess.

Okay, so now for your encouraging word. One of my older mom friends offered me this insight one day, when I was feeling like a failure, and I have felt to relay her message on multiple occassions, because it meant so much to me. Here it is:

As a mom, you feel all of the ups and downs of your day. You know what you had hoped for and are discouraged, frustrated, and sometimes even mad when things don't work out like you planned. Kids aren't like that though. They remember the tiny pool that was so perfect for their baby brother, the picnic where they got to eat the oreos and mom did not make them eat the sandwich, and a sprinkler that felt perfect on a warm day. They remember coming in and sliding all over the wide open, kitchen floor and having a great time. Fond memories. I share this message, because I am one of those moms who is always putting too much weight in the things of the day that I considered to be failures. If you are also one of those moms, take heart. Your children won't remember it like you did. It was a GREAT day for them, and they would do it over and over again if we let them. (but I would rather never do this day again, I need a nap) :0) Love you mommas! Be encouraged.

A little bit about my day, Part One.

Can I just share what kind of a morning I had today? I don't typically do that on our site, because this site is about meals. Today; however, was just one of those days and since this site is also about moms, I just had to share.

I woke up today, thinking, "okay, it's Friday and I have not made it to the YMCA all week. I WILL get there today." I was getting myself syked up and ready to go, and I was getting everyone else ready too, of course. I got to the part of making lunches for my kids (besides watching our children while we work out, my YMCA also feeds the kids if I am there between 11 am-1 pm and have packed food for them, and this was part of my plan) I was using my new lunch containers and I was feeling good about myself. I had just finished preparing the lunches when I looked up at my two children and saw the one thing I really hoped not to see today...SNOT! Lots of it. They've had colds all week long, which is why I have not taken them to the YMCA, and apparently they were not over them yet. "Noooooooo". (That's me) I let out a sigh, and decided that exercising could wait just one more day. "We've already got their lunches all packed nice and neat, so we'll just do a picnic in our backyard," I told myself. The day did not have to be totally shot. I looked over at the inflatable kiddie pool I had bought a couple of weeks ago at a garage sale, still in its package. I decided to be "Mom of the Year", at least just this one day. I imagined the kids playing in their swimsuits, and us all having a lovely picnic, as the sun shone down on us in our perfectly mowed backyard. (What? It could happen) I got out the swimmers diapers, put swimsuits on the kiddos after chasing them around the house, slathered up some sunscreen, pulled together the essentials for a great time: blanket, baby walker, etc. etc. I was ready to go, and the kids were getting more and more excited with each second that passed. Now it was time to blow up the kiddie pool. I took it out of the package.... Wait a minute! What's this? It looked like a DEMO version of a kiddie know, a smaller version of the real thing. "This can't be right!" I laughed to myself. I read the packaging one more time. Hmmm..." "Ring Pool" was the big font, but up in the left hand corner, it read, "swim inflatable". Sure enough...this was not a pool at all, it was an inflatable for a pool! Okay. That's alright. My kids won't care. They'll still have fun. (I imagined the kids splashing in the pool, and having a good time) Here we go. I blew the silly little thing up...if nothing else, my ten month will get some joy out of this thing...besides, it was 25 cents.

(To be continued...the kiddos need me right now. I promise to finish this story, though, and I promise it gets better.)

To read part two go here.

Friday: Quinoa and Blackbeans

This is absolutely one of our favorite Quinoa recipes. This is where it all began for my family and our love of quinoa. I have posted this before and am so happy to share it again.

What is quinoa?  This grain is a power packed amino acid. It has a large amount of magnesium and riboflavin. It apparently was the "gold of the Incas" giving warriors more stamina. I showed this grain to my husband and he asked if we should just order a pizza! I get that a lot! After a few months of cooking and baking with quinoa I am so glad that we forwent the pizza and stuck with the grain adventure.

You can purchase quinoa at your local heath food store, through food co-ops, at places like Trader Joes and Whole Foods Market and through! Give it a try!!!

 This is a grain to bring into your kitchen.

What you will need for Quinoa and Black Beans:

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

What to do:

Step one~
Chop your onion and place it into some olive oil in a pan. Add a bit of garlic.

Step two~
Add 3/4 cup of the quinoia. Admire it as you toss it in! Those tiny grains are going to do good things!

Step three~ Add 1 1/2 cups of vegetable stock/broth.

Step four~ Add your cumin and cayenne pepper. I love the smell of cumin! It makes me happy. LET THE QUINOA cook for TWENTY MINUTES. Those little grains will actually pop open a bit. Cute little guys....

Step five~
Drain and rinse your black beans. Set aside one cup of corn. Chop your cilantro. Add them to the quinoia and stir.

Step six~
Be proud of yourself for cooking something new!

We ate the Quinoa with a little bit of salsa. We also filled a sprouted grain tortilla with avocado. This was a vegetarian meal, super healthy and oh oh oh so good!

Note: Several times I have made this meal without using vegetable broth. It turned out fine without the broth. My preference is to use it, but when we do not have any handy water works fine.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Summer Spicy Vegetable Soup

Perhaps some soup recipes are difficult, this soup is not one of them.

It is summer. The farmer's market and garden are overflowing with vegetables.

I will tell you how I made this soup, but have fun with it. Get a big soup pot, have the kids chop up some fresh veggies, and eat this with the knowledge that it is nourishing for your body and better yet~ easy to clean up afterwords! Meaning more time to play. Gotta like that.

We chopped up summer squash, carrots, onions, okra, garlic and peppercini's. The peppers give this the kick, so don't leave them out! I sauted them in a bit of olive oil before adding the broth.

I also had two white potatoes and leftover red potatoes from a few nights ago. So, I added them into the soup. I hesitated  at first, but figured that soup was the perfect place to use up some potatoes so that they would not go to waste.

Next, I added some vegetable broth that I had in my freezer. And, several herbs.  I cooked those vegetables until the flavor had been infused throughout the broth.
Then, I added some corn.

And, I put it all in my blender.

And, blended it up.

Then, I put it back into the pot and added a bit more corn. I wanted it to have some texture.  Adding the corn at the end made it seem like a corn chowder.  Really tasty, very spicy,

This soup was incredibly frugal because I used mostly vegetables from my garden and our CSA box. I think there are many ways to change this up depending on what you have. We cleaned the blender, washed the pot, tossed the bowls into the dishwasher and headed out for a family walk. Perfect.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

For Pete's Sake Peach Cobbler!

I am...speechless....with a mouth full of cobbler...that was so easy to make....that I have made three times in two weeks...and plan on making again oh let's say....tonight.

Start out with some fresh in season peaches. These beauties were just picked today. I blanched, peeled, and froze 30 bags of peaches which was supposed to last us until next peach season. If I keep making this cobbler they won't last but a couple of months.

You can peel the peaches or you can blanch them to remove the skins. Blanching requires putting them into boiling water for a few seconds and then directly plunging them into ice cold water. The skins come off easy, but either way of removing the skin is fine. Pretty, huh?

Next, take the peaches you want for the cobbler (about six) and cut them up. Place them into a pan with 3/4 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of butter.  I used organic unrefined cane sugar. Heat them up until warm and well mixed with the sugar.

In a bowl mix together the batter. This is a really great batter to mix in a blender. I like using the blender for batter's like this because it mixes it up into a frothy perfection that creates a light and airy cobbler.
Put the following together: 
¾ cup whole-wheat flour
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup milk
2 teaspoons baking powder

Does anyone else love butter? I do. I do.
Pastured butter, bright yellow, and creamy....makes the world turn.
Take 1/4 cup of butter and melt it. Place it at the bottom of a dish.

Now we are going to put it all together for baking. On top of the butter pour your peaches. Perfection is not an issue here. This is the beauty of cobbler!

Next, pour the batter directly on top of the peaches. Do not stir it into the peaches. The batter will sink and mix around all on its own! This will create a soft top layer perfect for a scoop of ice cream.

Bake this cobbler, wiping the drool from your mouth, for 25-35 minutes. You will know when it is baked by testing to make sure the batter is cooked through. 

Serve warm and enjoy all season long!

I know that there are many ways of making cobbler out there....a few ongoing debates as well.
Cobber with the crust on top? 
Mixed in? 
Biscuit style? 

What way does your family eat cobbler?
You give us a recipe and we will test it out for you, featuring your recipe on Meal Planning Mommies!

Stir Fry, Hamburgers, and a some panko breaded tastiness!

This recipe is completely made up. Ever since participating in the community supported agriculture program I have been making up my own recipes. I think is stems mostly from having bushels of veggies that must be eaten each week.

Thus, this stir-fry recipie was born. I imagine that you could adjust it according to what is available in season and in your fridge.

Brown Rice (Soaked)
Dressing: Brown rice vinegar and Tamari sauce to taste.

Step one: If you are soaking your brown rice then put one cup of brown rice in a bowl with one cup of water and a TBS of your acid medium. I use kefir. Lemon juice would work well for this recipe.

Step two: Cut up your greens.  In a wok (Hey, the MPM's saw some wok's on a great deal at Ikea!) put your greens. Cook them in a tiny bit of sesame oil or olive oil.  Cook them long enough to have them soften up, about ten minutes.

Step three: Add your soaked/cooked rice to the wok. Stir and fry.
Step four:  To taste add in brown rice vinegar and tamari.

 Step five: Serve with something else!  I was just going to eat just this and my non-vegetable loving husband suggested some hamburgers on the side. Meat for us now, is a side dish rather than the main course. This hamburger is local grass fed beef.  It is the best we have ever tasted.
He grilled them while I finished the stir-fry.
We also made some home made cheese sticks and zucchini. Hey, we went a little crazy.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Our next giveaway....

I was doing the happy dance yesterday when our box was delivered from the UPS man. I saw who the package was from and I knew right away...IT's OUR NEXT GIVEAWAY! My kids always share in my excitement when the doorbell rings. Here are some pictures of my daughter helping me dig it out of the box, to get your curiosity going. I can't show you the what the giveaway is yet, because I want to show you pictures of it being used when I do the giveaway. Just wanted you to know that it is coming. Stay tuned mommas. This is one you are going to want. ;0)

Homemade Blackberry Freezer Jam

A few Saturdays ago I woke my four year old up early for a special momma and son time.
At 6am we were out the door, picked up coffee and breakfast at the local doughnut shop, to his thrilled surprise. By 8am we were out in the blackberry fields picking away.

I was having a great time.

He was not.

Mommy (in an attempt to rally the troops!) got into corny mode and was encouraging the singing of silly songs as we labored.

My four year old looked at me, smiled and said, "I have a song to sing."
"Great! Let Mommy hear it!", I replied.

Ready for this.....

This is great stuff....

Remember, please, the following: we have driven over and hour to the blackberry farm, we have just begun picking, we have several hours to go in the fields.

He cleared his throat.

"Oh, I wish I could go home but I cant! Mommy has me out here in la-la land. Oh I wish I could go home but I can't!"

Nice, huh?

Well there are good times and then there are times such as our blackberry picking day. We survived.

And, as a result we made jam.

Using fresh organic berries, raw unrefined cane sugar, my great-grandmother's jam press, and fruit pectin this is what happened~

I don't know what this is called, but it belonged to my great grandmother and I love it. It usually sits as decor in my house, but several times a year we use it for jams. It makes me think of her and pecan pies. And, jam of course.
Look at that color. Blackberries galore.
3 cups freshly mashed berries.
And, five cups (whao!) of unrefined organic cane sugar
Pectin. Follow the Sure-Jell recipe. Its a piece of cake. Or a jar of Jam.
Enough blackberry freezer jam to last us six months.