Monday, August 30, 2010
We are in Germany for 12 days. Patrick's parents are living in Germany right now so we thought we better take a trip and visit them. We got here on Friday after flying forever and sleeping very little, London slept only 3 hours and I slept only about an hour. We stayed up and just relaxed until 6:30 and then crashed our first night. We then drove to the Netherlands where we visited Amsterdam, Voldendam and Edam. Such an adorable area. I loved all the houses, the manicured gardens, flowers and the countryside. We got to eat some gouda cheese and see how wooden clog shoes are made. I ate some really yummy soup but forgot to take a picture of it. I am going to try to re-create it when I get home. It had leeks, kale, noodles and carrots in it. Very tasty and very warm seeing that it was raining, windy and cold that day.
A few great things I've loved seeing while here have been the cows. Lots of cows grazing in the grass. I love this, seeing cows in their environment. Eating fresh green grass, and I really mean green. The grass is so green it is vibrant.
Germany has been trying to reduce their energy costs and go a little greener and so all through the countryside you see windmills. Sometimes 10 in an area. They look neat against the country backdrop. They are huge and almost always moving.
Amsterdam is known for their bike riding. It is said that there are more bikes than people in the Netherlands. There are bike paths all over the place and bike parking garages. How cool is that?! Everywhere you looked there were people riding bikes I even saw kids in the little seats on the bikes. I wanted to rent bikes but there wasn't enough time. Next time I hope.
The last thing is something I've only seen once and it was so cool. A solar farm. I have heard of these but not seen them. It is a farm field, like a field that would grow corn, but instead in neat rows are solar panels. It was amazing, and sadly I did not get a picture. :( We were driving north and I was just seeing it when I realized I should take a picture and then it was gone. What an amazing aspect to this country. They are trying so hard to meet the energy need of their country by using solar and wind energy, something I think the United States should definitely try harder at.
Today we took a little trip to Strasbourg France.
I love France. I have to say it is one of my favorite places. The architecture, language and of course the pastries. Oh the pastries. We went to see the Cathedral of Notre Dame, not the Notre Dame in Paris, a smaller one but very beautiful. It is Gothic and impressive. When we got there we were hungry and needed to use the bathroom. We looked for a cafe, mind you it was raining and cold and windy again, and we found a little ice cream shop, a glacier, that had some panini's for a good price. We sat down and ate. Mine was a mozerella, tomato and pesto panini that was very good.
I got to practice my french, merci, and use the restroom. :) We then crossed the street and what was staring me in the face? A raspberry tart. I don't mean any raspberry tart but a beautiful, shiny, yummy, made in France raspberry tart. I had to have it. We went in and bought some treats and it was orgasmic. This tart put all others that I have had in a long time to shame. (We are going to Paris in a couple days so I might have another that will be better but until then this is the best.) It not only had the custard but a layer of chocolate, which I didn't know was there until I bit into it. Oh my goodness. The raspberries were tender and juicy and sweet. The crust perfect. Even though I was walking in the rain, wind and cold I was in heaven. (I never thought that could happen all at once seeing that I am a sun, light breeze and warm kind of girl but it did.)
I hope you are tasting vicariously through my blog today because if you are, you are smiling.
Monday, August 23, 2010
I promised you my recipe for Eggplant Parmesan so here it is. It's super easy and very light but so filling. If you've never eaten eggplant before, this is a good recipe to try it out with.
Eggplant, pick a firm one with no soft spots. You will cut it into 1 inch thick slices so pick one that will feed all of your family.
1 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup parmesan
1 egg, beaten
fresh mozzarella sliced
Pre-heat oven to 350. Spray a baking sheet with non stick. Heat a skillet over med heat. Beat your egg in a bowl. Mix the bread crumbs, salt and pepper, and parmesan cheese in a shallow dish or plate. Place next to stove. Slice the eggplant. Add some olive oil into the skillet. Place one slice of eggplant into the egg, then into the bread crumb mixture to coat. Then place in the skillet. Space them out, you might need to do a few batches. Once browned on each side place the slice onto the baking sheet. Once all the eggplants are browned, place in the oven for about 15 minutes. Take them out of the oven and layer on each eggplant a basil leaf and a tomato slice.
Place into the oven for about another 5 minutes. Take out of oven and place a slice of mozzarella on each eggplant and place into the oven until melted.
Finally put a spoonful, or however much you want, of marinara sauce on top. You can heat it before so you don't need to place back in the oven. Top with garnish of chopped basil and parmesan cheese.
My measurements are usually not exact so you will need to play a little with this recipe. Along with that my times are never timed but this time I know that my eggplants were in the oven for a total time of 25 minutes. So your oven might take a little less or a little more. Just check on them to make sure they are doing well.
This is London's favorite dish. For the last year she has asked for this dish periodically and when she does, how can I refuse?! This time i just served this like this with a little salad on the side but if you need more serve with some pasta.
London and I just ate the leftovers for lunch today. It's best if reheated in the oven so that it doesn't get soggy.
We really needed a healthy lunch since yesterday we went to the Idaho State Fair and ate bad for you food! Once in a while that's okay though, right? Had to show the picture of the ice cream Idaho potato that we devoured in record time.
Hope you love Eggplant Parmesan as much as we do!
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Every year downtown Boise holds Tour de Fat. A bike parade that ends up with beer drinking. It is a fun spectacle to watch, especially with a 3 year old. Most people on their bikes are dressed up, some as cowboys, indians, bumble bees, tutus, caterpillars, bananas you get the picture. My favorite this year, the girl with the big butt, it was stuffed to full capacity. :) So many fun loving people in one place makes for a good parade. This is how we started our Farmer's Market Saturday.
Today we needed some ground beef and another eggplant. In general we as a family eat a lot of vegetables however I don't like to label us as vegetarians. We do eat meat, not a lot of it, but we do. In this day and age meats are plentiful and cheap. It has come to pass that most people eat meat with every meal and lots of it. In my opinion this is where the economy has failed us. By making all these meats cheap and mass producing cattle, chicken, pork etc, we have made society fat and unhealthy. (Please, either read Omnivore's Dilemma or watch Food Inc, better yet, do both. They are both very informative and life changing.) Growing up on St. Croix where we saw the dairy cattle grazing on South Shore and the meat cattle grazing out at Annaly Farms we knew that our cattle were living the life they were meant to, eating grass, plants, resting in the shade of a large tree, drinking from ponds therefore filling their milk with nutrients and making their muscles lean. The government and big corporations decided to mass produce meat taking the cows out of their pastures and putting them in dirt piles, that later turn into manure piles, feeding them corn and injecting them with antibiotics. (Cows do not need antibiotics when grazing on grass, corn makes them sick.) This makes meat fattier and the milk as no nutrients. This is why now meat with a marbled look is touted as good and milk has to be fortified with vitamins. What I was getting at is that if you live in the Treasure Valley and wanted a place to buy meat that in my opinion actually is meat, Homestead Naturals is a great place to buy it. They are a co-op of farmers that raise cows in the environment that was meant for them. Please visit www.homesteadnatural.com to see what I'm talking about. The meat is going to be more expensive because of the way the animals are cared for but it is so worth it. The cost is okay in my book because meat should not be eaten every day, we've just gotten used to it because it so darn cheap at Walmart. Homestead also sells chickens, whole,pork, and eggs. What's great about Homestead as opposed to the other meat stands at the Farmer's Market is that they don't "finish" their product with corn. The other stands finish their product to create more fat for months before slaughter. Not good, you want the meat to be lean and the cows to eat only grass or hay. Look around for a place near you to find meat the way it should, or visit this website to help you find it: www.eatwild.com So at the end of this information we bought some ground beef. I bought a pound and plan on using it later for hamburgers and tacos.
Again Peaceful Belly stood out from the crowd today. They were not roasting today, :(, but they had a beautiful eggplant that screamed out for eggplant parmesan for tonight's dinner. While I was paying I asked one of the farmers about a problem I've been having with my squash plant. He was uber helpful and so friendly. Also while we were talking London, my vegetable loving princess, reached her little hand up into the yellow green bean basket and grabbed one. Before I could tell her to put it back, into her mouth it went! I looked at the farmer about to apologize and he said to London," You just needed your bean fix didn't you?!" He smiled and told her to take some with her. How nice! He let her grab a handful and put them in a bag for her to walk around eating. She cracks me up. Of course she said Thank you and was very content. Please go visit them! They are so nice and their produce looks amazing! I know they do a CSA so if you are interested in that for next year visit www.peacefulbelly.com
Will post later after dinner to show my eggplant parmesan, London's favorite dinner of all!
Thursday, August 19, 2010
I made this cake for my fondant cake class. The cake is made from scratch, a chocolate cake with a raspberry cream cheese frosting. So yummy. I made the roses and all. This has been such a fun class. Definitely not healthy but very good. Sometimes you gotta splurge! :)
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
"Thanks for dinner. It was good." said London after dinner was all over. Nothing sweeter can come to a chefs ears after or during a meal than a compliment. There are certain tips I have on creating a wonderful eater and that is to start early. One of my good friends told me once that her friend, I know complicated right?, that young children don't have developed enough taste buds which is why they naturally don't like vegetables and fruits and only like candy. What a bunch of crap. Start early by introducing a variety of tastes, if nursing through your milk by you eating a variety of foods, and then later when you start to introduce solids to them. A GREAT book is Super Baby Foods by Ruth Yaron. She is so detailed in which foods to introduce when and how to prepare and make sure they get a varied diet with adequate vitamins to be healthy. I think I had it easy because London liked them all and when she refused I would try again the next day. The key is to try, try, and try some more. Now that she is 3, she eats everything. Three main rules at our house: 1. "Hay que probar." You have to try. We explain she doesn't have to like it, but she has to try it and that we are sure she will like it because we do and it's yummy. 2. Never ever say a food is yucky. She is not allowed to say this and neither are we. (Be careful when describing rotten food, try not to say yuck but more oh no, this has gone bad!) 3. Never tell the child you don't like a food or that dinner is not your favorite tonight. They totally pick up on this and are likely to decide to be just like you. (I don't care a lot for zucchini but you'll never hear me tell London this, and I still make it and eat it in front of her. shhhhh)
Now enough of my tips for kids and let's get back to dinner. Tonight was Mahi in a pesto wine sauce, quinoa salad and corn. All of these dishes used seasonal ingredients. Tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, zucchini and basil. Let's start with the Mahi:
diced onion, maybe a 1/4 of an onion
1/4 cup pesto, I make my own but you could use a store bought one
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup liquid, either broth or water
Start by heating the pan, medium high heat, and then adding some olive oil, not a lot because the pesto has olive oil, and onion. Add the white wine and pesto and heat until onion is soft. Add filet, tomato, zucchini, and liquid. Cover and simmer until done. Simple, easy and delish!
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup dried quinoa
diced tomato, seeded
diced cucumber, seeded
Bring broth to a boil and then add quinoa. Exactly like rice, let is boil until broth is absorbed. Take off heat and toss all remaining ingredients together. (Super good cold as well.) Enjoy!
Corn, either grilled or boiled. :)
Quinoa is a great food. For those of you unfamiliar with it, google it. It hails from Peru where the people in the mountains grow it and basically survive on it. It has protein and is very filling without feeling heavy. I buy it in bulk at Winco, a local grocery store chain here in Boise. All the vegetables I either grew or bought from a farmer. How great to know I supported our local economy. I grew the tomatoes, basil, and mint. The zucchini came from our neighbor and the corn and onion from a farm stand. (Oh I guess I bought the cucumber, mine aren't big enough yet.) Not only does everything taste delicious but you feel good about what you are putting into your body and your families bodies.
(After I took this picture of my tomato plant his evening, I reached inside and got 4 red ripe tomatoes!) Hope you enjoyed this as much as I did!
We have some friends that have chickens. They are so nice that they let us have a dozen of eggs whenever we need them. We don't go through many eggs a month because I usually just use them for baking. This is one of the items that I just have the hardest time buying at the grocery store. I just imagine the chickens in their tiny little wire cages not being able to stand or move, their beaks clipped off, and most of their feathers gone. All for an egg?! That just isn't the way to do it. Besides, those eggs are not full of nutrients like the ads would have you believe. Those chickens don't eat the proper food to pass on the nutrients to the eggs. (There are no standards set for the free range eggs you find at your grocery so there is no sure bet those chickens really are free range.) Another option for eggs is buying them at the Farmer's Market. But $4.00 a dozen is kind of steep for me. I have bought them from the market before and they were super yummy and they were this gorgeous orange color that was so vibrant I had my husband come run and look at them. (He laughed, crazy wife!) Luckily we have Terry and Rhonda. Patrick's co-workers and our friends have a bunch of chickens they keep in a coupe and let run around their property. The eggs are equally pretty and we get multi colored eggs thanks to them. These eggs get all the nutrients they should due to their diet of a free range chicken. Yesterday morning I made scrambled eggs with parmesan cheese for London and a mushroom, tomato, bell pepper and muenster cheese omelet for Patrick. Buying free range fresh eggs is the smallest task I can do to stand up for my beliefs and to stand up against the many corporations of chicken farming.
In the afternoon we had another special drink time. We don't do this every day, but when we are hanging out in the backyard on a 90 degree day, splashing away in our little blow up pool, it just calls for a drink. I asked London what she wanted and she said "Vanilla!" Okay, how to make a just vanilla special drink. Hmmmm It took a moment and then I remember we went strawberry picking at a local berry farm in June with Marisa while she was visiting.
We had so many I froze a bunch. I asked London if she wanted strawberries too, and of course she said yes! Perfect. Here is yesterday's special drink:
Food Processor or Blender
a few fresh strawberries or some frozen ones
1 cup plain yogurt, I like Greek yogurt
2 tbsp cane sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups milk
If you are using frozen strawberries let them thaw for a few minutes so they don't damage the blades. Put all ingredients into the blender or F.P. Process until as smooth as you want it. Mind you, the measurements are not exact and should be adjusted to taste and size. This was perfect for two people to have about 8 - 10 oz each. Hope you enjoy it like we did!
In this blog post you will notice London's special cup for her special drinks. This is the cup she always uses, pretty funny if you ask me. :)
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Today is Saturday. I look forward to Saturdays in the summer the same way I used to in high school. YIPEE! Saturday is Farmer's Market day. For the last four years I have been going to the Capital City Market in downtown Boise to either buy some yummy foods or just to browse and enjoy the environment. There are a few markets on Saturdays in the Treasure Valley but the one in downtown Boise is by far the best and biggest of them all. It grows every year too! Today we didn't need much, thanks to my garden, but we still bought a couple things. The first was honey.
Honey is one of those things that I have started to use more of recently. There are benefits to honey. When you are coughing and sick take a spoonful of honey every hour and it coats your throat so that you don't cough as much. (My mom taught me that! Except she used to try to make this concoction of aloe, lemon juice and honey and make us drink it.... bleh!) This has become a life saver with a child. I try not to turn to cough medicine right away with a young child but I can give her honey when she's sick and not worry at all! (Although remember not to give honey to infants under 12 months due to possible allergies.) Today I bought some honey from a local Beekeeper who makes all kinds of honey treats! Visit www.idahohoney.com to read about them. It is said that if you have allergies you should eat some local honey to possibly help relieve your allergies and you might build a resistance to them. (This is because the bees use local pollens to create their honey!) Talk about natural remedies!! Today London got a special treat. Honey comb on a stick. Genius idea for children and adults alike! A small piece of honey comb, dripping with honey and a popsicle stick. The owner was even nice enough to give us a moist paper towel in case someone were to get sticky. I used it. :) We also bought a bottle of honey.
The second thing I bought was an eggplant, I bought one of the longer skinny ones. This is London's favorite food, better believe it! I figured I would roast it along with some carrots or parsnips tomorrow or the next day. You should try to use eggplants as soon as you buy them as they go bad fairly quick.
Along with the benefit of directly supporting my local economy, going to the farmer's market is just so fun. This week the smell of roasting peppers was in the air. A local farm called Peaceful Belly roasts them every year around this time. So every Saturday there is a line of people patiently waiting for their roasted peppers. London and I could smell them two blocks away from the market. It made my heart, and liver, smile. (Read Eat Pray Love and you will understand.) Maybe next week we will wait in that line and buy some.
I will try to post some pictures every Saturday about our Farmer's Market experience just to make you want to live here in Idaho. ;)
Thursday, August 12, 2010
London and I love to have a special drink on some afternoons. Since it's summer we take our drinks on the patio. A special Mexican drink is called Agua Fresca literally fresh water. It is basically just pureed watermelon. I know what you are thinking, yummy! Right? Well we make it even yummier here at my house! You will need:
*optional for parents vodka or tequila
blender or food processor
Just make sure the big black seeds are not in the watermelon and put all the items into the food processor or blender and mix away. I leave it slightly chunky but you could go crazy and make it really smooth if you'd like. Don't forget if adding the alcohol don't add it until after you've served your little one. (That could be fun I know, but better not to be safe.) :)
On another note, we went to one of my favorite market places that sells a lot of locally grown produce for a great price. I have discovered my new favorite type of peach. The donut peach. Looks like a saucer, has white flesh and is super sweet and yummy. I bought a bunch today because last time we ate them within two days. yikes! We also bought some Oregon blueberries. I know, they aren't local but Oregon is only a state away and besides they are delish and freshly picked. They didn't have far to travel to get here either.
Have a wonderful day!
With a high of 69 in the middle of summer, today definitely screamed for soup. One of my favorite soups is Vichyssoise, or Leek and Potato soup. This soup is typically served cold but I like it hot as well. So being that it was a cool day I decided hot it would be and then we would have cold leftover soup for the warmer days that are coming back. I don't make mine with all the cream either so it ends up being lower calorie and it can be a vegetarian soup if you want it to be! (I have even decided that I am going to grow some leeks in the garden. They can grow in winter as long as there is no frost for all you more southern friends out there.) Again I am not great with measurements but you can eyeball it just like me!
1 bunch of leeks (usually around 3) chopped, only the light green and white part, you can discard the dark green ends.
2 tbsp butter
3 yukon gold potatoes, medium sized, peeled and diced
salt and pepper to taste
chicken or vegetable broth, enough to cover
*optional milk or cream
Place your pot over medium heat to warm up. Clean the leeks under water in a colander. They tend to hide dirt in their many layers. Add the butter and leeks to the pot and then soften. Add potatoes. Then with your broth, you may use either chicken or vegetable, cover the vegetables by 1/2 an inch. Bring to a boil adding your salt and pepper to taste. Then cover and let simmer until the potatoes are soft. Once they are soft turn off the heat.
I use my food processor for a lot. If you don't have one you could always use a blender or a hand blender, which is on my wish list for Christmas if anyone needs an idea. In batches blend the soup, it is still hot so be very careful with splatter. If you are wanting to serve cold you could always wait until chilled to blend. Place the blended soup back into the pot and if you want to add about 1/2 a cup of milk or cream do so now stirring to incorporate. Serve and garnish with chives if you want and then above all ENJOY!
After I slaved away, wink wink, in the kitchen last night, I went to teach yoga. It was a great class. Small but lovely. My theme was compassion and seva, or selfless service. Throughout each posture we tried to be compassionate with our bodies looking at ourselves and others through eyes of compassion. I urge all of you to take the same principal and apply it to your lives. Do a random act of kindness and expect nothing in return. You never know when you might be changing someone's day or even life. Hope you enjoyed this recipe and I hope to have more that follow.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
So here it goes. My first blog. To say food and eating fresh healthy foods is a passion would be an understatement. I love eating fresh foods and making my meals and snacks from scratch. Cooking has become a love for me. Yesterday I did some experimenting with coloring cupcakes pink using beet juice. I will have to make more cupcakes, much to the dismay of my family ;) , because this batch did not turn out pink. I think I will have to add more or try using some berries instead.
Today for dinner I made Snapper. Snapper is not a fish I grew up eating even though it is plentiful in St. Croix. My mom always chose to use other types of locally caught fish. I found a recipe online, which I do quite frequently, and revamped it a bit. I am no good with measurements because I eyeball everything but here it goes:
Lemon zest and juice from one lemon
minced, or crushed garlic (to taste)
capers, maybe 2 tsp
a yummy medium tomato, diced
a dab of butter
freshly grated parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350
Take a baking pan and add Lemon thru butter to pan.
Dry off the snapper and add them to the pan taking the mixture and spooning it on top of the filets.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Take out of the oven and add parmesan and bread crumbs, bake until golden.
It should be very yummy. A great dish for summer since I used a tomato right from the vine and it's pretty light. I served it with rice, but it could also be served with a salad and/or some green beans.
After dinner I went to the garden, yes I love to garden, and picked four red tomatoes. We bought the early goliath type, which so far is doing awesome! A little green one fell off. Sad but true. It's okay though cause I know there are at least 60 more tomatoes on the vine as we speak.