Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Bunch of Beets

I etched my last tumbler.  
This one has bunches of beets on a plaid table cloth.

Tomorrow morning it is off to the clay studio to throw a few more cups.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ivory is Five

Previous birthdays we invited all our our friends.  We had potlucks. We sipped beers and chatted while the hoard of children played in the background.  I anxiously eyed the weather forecast.  Her birthday day yo-yo-ing between sunshine and rain.  Our home is not suited to squeezing large groups of folks into, and this year it seemed the focus should be on the birthday girl. So I narrowed the list down based on her friends rather than mine..  hoped we would have sunshine and that everyone would understand...  and made invitations.

Ivory is five.

This birthday, more than previous birthdays, feels like a rite of passage.
Suddenly she is school aged.
She is enrolled in kindergarden and after this summer I will be dropping her off into the care of another for hours each weekday.  This is a change I can hardly fathom.  While I stitch the seams of her new touch-the floor-princess dress I worry about back packs, school lunches and if she will feel cooped up inside the four walls of a class room.

Ivory is five...  going on twelve.

A friend of her's had a Barbie Birthday Party, and she asked for a Barbie themed birthday party too - and Barbie dolls - I said no.  I'm struggling with sending her off to kindergarten I am definitely not ready for the tall, thin waist-ed  big boobed, over accessorized plastic toys that I would have to trip over, step on and pick up constantly. Ivory is five, and instead our house was filled with fairy winged girls and hatted gnomes. She from us she received (in addition to the princess dress) a pocket knife, a bike basket, a kickstand,  and new lego pieces. Barbie was never mentioned again.


Ivory is five.

The sunshine held - until all our guests arrived - and then it poured.  Magic wands were made around the dining room table.  Instead of gnomes and fairies frolicking around the garden,  the fairies and gnomes tore up and down the stairs, crawled under beds and played hide and seek.  We ate chocolate cake and Boston cream pie. Us adults still chatted and drank a few beers, but for the first time ever, everyone huddled around Ivory while she unwrapped gifts.

Later we forked macaroni and cheese.
Every dish in our house dirty, piled on the little counter space we have.  Beer bottles rinsed. Chocolate cake crumbles everywhere.
Only one gnome hat, one cape and one set of fairy wings remained.
We all crashed into bed early.

Ivory is five.

These are the patterns I based my party favors on:

Gnome hat pattern.
 - for the accompanying capes I simply made a half circle the width of the fabric.  For the neck I took out a smaller half circle with a 6 inch diameter.  I added a yard of wide ribbon on the neck for ties.
Fairy wing Pattern. 
- instead of using such a large piece of fabric I used 30" long pieces of fabric x half the width of the fabric.  That way rather than attaching at the wrists the wings attach at the elbows and are more fairy like (rather than butterfly like).   These took WAY LONGER than I had hoped.  If I where to do this again, all the kids would be gnomes.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Sunday Snapshots

Fairy slipper - This is the first one we say, and then we noticed them everywhere.

A two year old chopping down morels with glee!  

A quick dip in the hot spring. 

We made it home just as it was getting dark.   When we got into the car it was just after 7pm (Montana time). We had been tromping around the woods for 9 hours.  No complaints from the kids...  we stopped at the Lochsa Lodge for dinner... and did not clean our kitchen.  Here is our loot: 8 lbs of morels!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

5 Recipes to use up all the WIC Juice (okay, probably not ALL the Juice)

Half-awake I stumbled down the stairs early this morning with Sylvan on my hip.  He had requested a trip to the bathroom.  As much as I wanted to just roll over and tell him - "You are wearing a diaper.  Just pee in it." - I figured that would counter the daytime potty training efforts.  So I stood up, picked him up and we went to the bathroom.  He went right back to sleep and I stared at the clock: 4:30.  I might as well get up.
By the time the Ivory and Sylvan both joined me down stairs I had put the finishing touches on G is for Garlic, and was tediously painting rows of kernels on I is for Indian Corn.
By 9:00 we were mixing up our second batch of Whole Wheat Pretzels and were two loads of laundry into the day.
By 11:30 I was parking my bike under the tree and Ivory helped me unload the groceries (WIC run!) out of the bike trailer.
By 1:00 Sylvan was down for a nap, my list is half checked off (the laundry is hung) and I am trying not to lose steam.

Back to the pretzels:  They are one of my favorite things to make that use up some of that juice we pick up at the store when we use our WIC vouchers.

I have two juice rules in my house:
1. I never offer juice.  I only give it on request.
2. White grape, purple grape and the apple juice gets watered down.  Adding water to the grape juice makes it fizz up momentarily and the kids love, love it.

These rules mean that I usually have a backlog of juice on my pantry shelf.

Here are my favorite uses for all that juice:

1.  Whole Wheat Soft "Pretzels"(uses apple juice)

2. Butternut Squash with Apple Cream Soup (uses apple juice)

1 butternut squash (WIC item)
  • cut in half and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes.  let it cool and then scoop out the insides, set aside until needed
3 Tablespoons butter
4 leeks (white and pale green part) chopped (or a large onion) (WIC item)
2 carrots, diced (WIC item)
2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped (WIC item)
  • saute over medium heat for about 15 minutes, add the squash
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme 
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup apple juice (WIC item)
  • add the spices, broth and juice and bring to a simmer
  • cover and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 30 min
  • let cool slightly and then puree half of the soup.. 
1/2 cup of milk (optional) (WIC item)
  • stir in half a cup of milk
Make the apple cream sauce:

1/2 cup of apple juice (WIC item)
  • reduce the 1/2 cup of apple juice over medium heat until 1/4 cup remains
  • whisk the reduced juice into 
1/2 cup of sour cream or plain yogurt
  • serve the soup with drizzle of the apple cream

3. Full of Fruit Cupcakes (uses frozen apple juice concentrate)

4. Molasses and Orange Waffle Sauce (uses orange juice)

1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup orange juice
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon orange zest (optional) 
  • combine all the ingredients in a small sauce pan and heat, stirring until the mixture is smooth and well blended.  Serve warm over whole wheat waffles 
and last but not least is one of our favorite summer time treats:

5. Orange Creamsicles (uses orange juice concentrate

Well, Sylvan is awake and Ivory and he are throwing themselves off of the sofa.
On to the rest of the day's list: tracking down a white sheet, setting up the projector, washing those pesky dishes and starting dinner.  Weeding the strawberry patch and planting sunflowers are on my list, but will probably not happen today.  There is always tomorrow. 

Previous WIC related recipe posts:

Monday, May 13, 2013

Sunday Snapshots: Mother's Day!

Flowers, French Toast Casserole with Blue Berries and Cream Cheese and a Fantastic Straw Hat (not pictured).  What more could a Mama want?

A Marlies and Susan Collaboration - my newest flower pot purchased at The Clay Studio's Mother's Day Sale. 

A late, late afternoon walk in the bright sun.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Eating the Alphabet

F is for Fennel
D is for Dill 
E is for Endive (unfinished)

N is for Nectarine
W is for Watermelon (Oklahoma's state Vegetable - no joke)
S is for Strawberries

Thursday, May 9, 2013

R is for Radish

L is for Leek
S is for Strawberries 

I spent the early morning hours painting. 

I started the project when Ivory was about 6 months old. By started I mean that I purchased a set of wooden letters and a box to store them in.  I had enough foresight to include enough letters to spell Mama, Papa and Sylvan.  I knew then that if our future included a little boy, he would be named Sylvan.  Since then I have managed to sand all the letters and paint a few.
Each letter features a fruit, vegetable or herb that starts with that sound.  

I hope to finish painting all the letters before Ivory learns to read... and that is a skill she could master at any moment.

C is for Carrot
E is for Eggplant
D is for Dandelion

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Peanut Butter and Cereal: 5 WIC Ingredient Based Recipes

I remember walking the home from my first WIC appointment. I felt happy and proud. I had taken the initiative and was contributing something to the well being of my family.  Over the next two years we have walked through the tunnel or over the pedestrian bridge to check in, say hi, weigh the kids, annually measure iron levels and print out new vouchers.  I look forward to the visits - because - I get to chat about kids and food with folks that deal with kids and food.
I don't feel that using the vouchers is difficult.  I just try to come up with a way of using this resource in a manner that is compatible with the nutritional goals that I have established for myself and my family. (No Corn Syrup, No Hydrogenated Oils, as much real, unprocessed food as possible)  Along the way I have tried many different things. Some of those things I have not repeated: African Ground Nut Stew for example - good - but we have some peanut butter based recipes that have been more well received and appear on our menu frequently.
Some things don't require recipes - Peanut butter, banana and honey sandwich on whole wheat bread - why not?

So here are a few peanut butter based recipes (I use the brand Adam's both chuncky and creamy) and a few recipes to use up some of that cereal.

My little boy has grown so much...  a one year old Sylvan (practically a baby) getting into the cheerios

1. Peanut Sauce and Steamed Vegetables

3 Tablespoons oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
  • saute in saucepan until the onions are soft and transparent 
  • add
3 1/2 cups hot water or vegetable stock
1 cup peanut butter (WIC item)
2 bay leaves
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
dash of hot sauce (optional)
  • stir until everything is well blended 
  • serve with steamed vegetables (cabbage, green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, etc), or fresh cucumbers and radishes, hard boiled eggs are also great (WIC item)
  • if you want a meat option, strips of grilled chicken are delicious

2. Rice Noodles with Peanut Sauce

8 ounces rice stick noodles
  • cook according to package directions
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (WIC item)
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground Ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground Red Pepper (optional)
1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • combine ingredients and whisk until smooth
Steamed Vegetables (WIC item)
  • pour the peanut sauce over the noodles, it is always an option to add a few steamed vegetables

3. Curry 

Over the past decade my husband and I have made many, many versions of "curry".  My earliest memory of cooking curry together is in my mom's kitchen.  Adam, his best friend and I jostling around each other in her narrow kitchen. Chopping, scooping, smelling and tasting.  "You're really going to put a banana in that?"  He did.  And it was delicious.  Each and every time it is different and wonderful and so I will give you the basic guidelines of what I do....  the only change I have made since my college days is that it no longer is burn-your-face-off-spicy and that I leave the chopsticks in the drawer and serve the dish with forks and spoons. 

Choose some vegetables - 3 or 4 (WIC Item):
Bell pepper
  • put some oil in the pan, when it is hot add onions and the toughest vegetables first (carrots, eggplant,etc,)  add mushrooms a bit later and leafy greens last 
1 can coconut milk
1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce 
1/4 cup peanut butter (WIC item)
1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar, Honey or a ripe banana 
1 Teaspoons oregano
1 Teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon ginger 
2 Tablespoons of Green or Red Curry Paste (more or less to taste)
soy sauce, salt and pepper (to taste) 
fresh basil (optional)
  • all measurements are approximate - add these and then let simmer until the vegetables reach the desired tenderness add fresh basil
  • serve with over brown rice (WIC item) 

4. Puppy Chow (a very special snack at our house)

9 cups Rice and Corn Chex
  • pour check into a very large bowl
  • in a saucepan on the stove mix
1 cup chocolate chip cookies
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
  • remove from heat and stir in
1 teaspoon vanilla
  • pour the mixture over the cereal while stirring gently with a spatula
  • once the cereal is evenly coated stir in just enough powdered sugar to keep the chex from sticking together
about 1 cup powdered sugar

5. Baked Chicken

heat up the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit

2 cups Corn Chex
  • put the corn chex into a zip lock back, squeeze the air out and seal
  • hand the bag and a wooden spoon to your little helper and let them smash the chex into small crumbs
  • while they are smashing away, melt together
1/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • with a basting brush coat 8 chicken drumsticks
  • pour the smashed chex into a pie plate and roll the drumsticks until will coated
  • place on a greased pan and bake for about 50 minutes

KITCHEN HINT: Smashed corn or rice chex can be substituted in any recipe calling for bread crumbs 

More WIC Recipies here:

Monday, May 6, 2013

Sunday Snapshots

I woke up and put on SANDALS!

Mediterranean Pasta Salad with Roasted Vegetables and Fresh Basil in a giant wood fired bowl I threw out of 25 pounds of clay 

A Northside get together at the Northside Park

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

What to do with all that Milk: 5 WIC Ingredient based Recipies

I have two children on the WIC program between the ages of 2 and 5. Every month, per child we receive:

3 gallons of skim, 1% or 2% Organic Milk
36 ounces WIC Breakfast Cereal
2 64 ounce Plastic Bottles of Juice or 12 ounce Can Frozen Juice
2 16-14 ounce Whole Grain Choice
1 16 ounce Package WIC Cheese
1 18 - 16 ounce jar WIC Peanut Butter
1 dozen large "A" or "AA" White Eggs
$ 6.00 Fresh Fruit and/or Fresh Vegetables and/or Frozen Vegetables

Before Sylvan turned two he was allowed no peanut butter (he had the dry legume option) and whole milk.  I wish the whole milk was allowed for older children, especially since there is established research linking lower fat content in milk to higher rates of obesity on children. My solution - I allow the kids to add half and half to their milk on request.

I always get the 8.9 ounce box of cheerios, and the regular size of rice chex and corn chex.  It used to take me half and hour to select cereals.  But after spending many, many minutes reading all the labels these are the only cereals that add up to just below the 36 ounce limit and do not contain High Fructose Corn Syrup, or plain old Corn Syrup. Yup.  Trying to avoid one ingredient sure narrows the choices.  How often do I give my children these cereals as a breakfast option?  Maybe once ever 6 months or so - even when they ask - my answer is NO 99.99% of the time.  There are just so many better, healthier, more filling options.  They are allowed to take baggies of Chex along on hikes, or have a bowl of cereal with milk as a before dinner snack when they are whining and hungry and I just started to pull things out the fridge. This means that I have come up with ways to use all this cereal too... but that is not the point of this post.

Whole grain choice.  All I ever get is the brown rice or the corn tortillas.  Why?  Well, if you are trying to avoid  Corn Syrup or Partially Hydrogenated Oils those are the only options.  Even the whole wheat wraps that blatantly state NO Trans Fats across the font side on close inspection contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils when you read the label on the back side.  ALWAYS READ LABELS!!

Cheese, Eggs, Peanut Butter are pretty self explanatory. I was elated when recent changes in the WIC program allowed Adam's Peanut Butter as a choice.  Prior to that I purchased the peanut butter one time. That one time, I used it in a craft project and even then felt a little guilty for feeding all those partially hydrogenated oils to our backyard birds.  (I know, I know that is NOT what the WIC program is for.  As I said, I did that only once.  I did feel more guilty about poisoning the birds.. than miss using peanut butter that we all would be better off not eating.) Now with the Adam's option we make all sorts of human foods.  More on those later.

Last, but not least, my favorite WIC voucher: $6 to spend on fruits and vegetables. I usually try to buy all produce organic, so the $6 usually does not stretch very far.  For my last voucher, in the name of research (this blog post), I purchased conventionally grown produce.
I came home with 3 nice sized zucchini, a 2 lb head of cabbage, 1 head of lettuce, a bunch of green onions and a pint of strawberries - not bad right?  And they have all disappeared already so we are headed to do a WIC run (bike ride) after both kids wake up from their nap.

Back to the milk - so right now we get 6 gallons of milk a month.  That is a lot of milk, and for a part of our WIC experience Ivory pretty much refused to drink milk and that meant that I had to find a way to use a lot of milk - GALLONS AND GALLONS OF MILK.

Naan and Royal Tomatoes with Paneer

Here are 5 milk centered (and meatless) recipes:

1. Homemade Yogurt

1 quart milk 
1 small container of store bought plain yogurt with live cultures
  • warm the milk 113 degrees Fahrenheit and stir in 1 - 3 Tablespoons of store bought yogurt 
  • let sit in a warm spot up to 15 hours, sweeten if desired and serve with fresh fruit, in pancakes, on pancakes in cucumber salad...  etc...  

2. Paneer 

1 half gallon of milk
1/8 cup of lemon juice or vinegar
  • bring the milk to a boil, add lemon juice or vinegar and stir until the milk curdles and separates
  • pour the content of the pot into a strainer and drain liquid
  • I often set a plate on top of the curds to make a firm block of cheese to use a few hours later

3. Curried Lentils with Paneer 

onion (WIC item)
curry and cumin 
  • sautee onions, garlic in oil add cumin and curry (I use a lot of both) 
1 large carrot (WIC item)
1 cup peas (WIC item) 
2 cups lentils (WIC item)
4 cups of Water
salt and pepper
  • add chopped carrot, peas, lentils and water into the pan
  • cook until lentils are soft, approximately 15 minutes
8 ounces of paneer (WIC item)
  • stir cubes of paneer into the lentil mixture and heat until warmed thoughouly
  • serve on it's own or wrapped in whole wheat tortillas (WIC item) or with flat bread

4. Royal Tomatos with Panner

5. Soda Crackers - a perfect use for spoiled Milk

Soda Crackers in all sorts of Fun Shapes

My previous WIC based meatless meal recipes can be found here.
Peanut Butter and Cereal
5 Juice Recipes