green mama

green mama

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mad at Parenting Magazine

The woman that used to live in our house gets Parenting magazine, and I usually flip through it before putting them on Freecycle. I typically find it highly amusing, occasionally informational, and now-frightening. I got to the last page of the magazine and they have a top ten list of "things not to feel guilty about". 
"Feeling secretly glad when you catch your neighbor's "perfect" child in a nuclear meltdown" is number 4. Okay, I can identify. Although I probably shouldn't admit it. There are mostly harmless little tidbits such as that comprising this list. Enter number 5 "Introducing you sister's kid-little miss organic-only-to her very first Twinkie

Smart food choices have never been more difficult or more important than they are today. How dare this magazine suggest that it is okay to sneak toxic foods into your families diet or into someone else's diet or into anyone's diet? I will admit, I am a bit psychotic about it. But in an age of high fructose corn syrup, BPA, growth hormones, genetically modified foods, and antibiotics-how could I not be? Our children are suffering from obesity and type 2 diabetes in skyrocketing numbers-how could I not be? The FDA is worthless-how could I not be? Family farms are disappearing and be replaced by giant corporations-how could I not be?

It is a very sad thing that Parenting magazine is encouraging women to betray their friends and family in this way. No, it is not only a Twinkie. It is a life-style choice to be "little miss organic-only", and a responsible one that should be supported by everyone surrounding that child. Everything we put in our mouths is a conscience choice with so many repercussions. There are enough people influencing our children to eat the wrong thing; Hostess, Kellogs, Monsanto. We shouldn't have to worry about it being our sisters.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What can you do today?

I randomly made the mistake of driving through our neighborhood on the trash day after X-mas., typically I take the back way. Seriously, it made me want to cry. For many reasons; the amount of garbage from the new stuff, the amount of old stuff that was being thrown out,  the belief that if you just buy your kids one more toy that might be "the one" and they might start to like you, the idea that "stuff" will make you happy. Okay, okay, I will quit. 
My favorite tip for this time of year is to re-use that wrapping paper. We didn't do the whole gift thing this year, but inevitably the grandparents and such did. I could never just throw wrapping paper away. I have had a very scary private stash of used wrapping paper under my bed. Yes, scary.....I have been saving it for quite some time. I didn't know why. I can't explain it, but there it was.
Then it occurred to me how I might re-use it. And out came the shredder. This is quite possibly my favorite recycling program yet. I fed all that paper to my shredder and am using it to pack boxes, do art projects and who-knows what else. It is cute and a much better way of using it than just stashing it for that moment when I decide that wrapping a gift in used paper is acceptable. Although, I am sure that day will come too.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Meatless Monday

Today is a soup cooking kinda day here in Mid-MO. So I have raided the fridge and pantry and prepared a pretty delish veggie soup. I had some frozen vegetable stock in the freezer, that certainly made my life easier today.
My niece spends the afternoons with us after she gets out of kindergarten, they only go a half day. Today is the day after her birthday and she and E both have a bit of a sugar hang-over. I promptly fed them lunch and put them to bed. I can't think of anything better to cure that day after feeling than a warm bowl of vegetable soup on a cold, windy day. Oh, except maybe some fresh bread straight out of the oven. Yum.
This recipe originally called for jalapeno peppers, but in the interest of making it a little more kid friendly today....I used zavory. This is a pepper I had never seen until I spotted it at the Farmer's market. The vendor insisted I try one right then and there. It was amazing. What a wonderful sales tactic, I bought up the whole lot and went back for more the next week. You can just eat it right off the stem, it has a wonderful flavor but no heat. It is perfection in this bread, if you want to ease up on the spice a bit. I usually make two loaves of this bread, one for the grown-ups and one for the kiddos....just be sure you know which is which! It disappears so fast in this house, no need to worry about spoilage. I have also substituted other cheeses, such as asiago. Play with it!

Cheese and Pepper Bread

1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon warm water (105-115 degrees)
4 cups flour plus additional for dusting (I have used all-purpose, bread, and wheat flour. all work well)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup olive oil
5 tablespoons chopped fresh pepper (if using a mild pepper, including seeds and ribs. if using a jalapeno I do 3 tbsp. with seeds and ribs and 2 tbsp. without)
5 ounces coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar (1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp.)
3/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 large egg, beaten with a pinch of salt

Stir together yeast and 1 tablespoon warm water in a small bowl; let mixture stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (if it doesn't foam, start over)
Mix together flour, salt, oil, yeast mixture, and remaining 1 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat at low speed until a soft dough forms, increase speed to medium-high and beat 3 minutes more. Add pepper, 1 1/2 cups Cheddar, and 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and mix until combined.
Scrape dough down side of bowl into center, then sprinkle lightly with flower. Cover bowl with a clean towel to keep a crust from forming and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface (dough will be sticky!) and gently form into a roughly 11-by 8-inch rectangle with floured hands.
Fold dough in thirds (like a letter) with floured hands, pressing along seam of each fold to seal.
Put dough, seam side down in an oiled 9- by 5-inch loaf pan. Cover pan with same clean kitchen towel and let dough rise a draft-free place at warm room temperature until dough completely fills pan and rises above it slightly, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400.
Brush loaf with egg, then sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons Cheddar and 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano down center of loaf.
Bake until bread is golden and sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, 50 minutes to 1 hours. Run a knife around edge of pan to loosen loaf, then remove from pant to test for doneness.
Return bread (not in pan) to oven and turn on its side, then bake 10 minutes more to crisp crust. Cool completely on a rack, about 1 1/2 hours.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It has been round-about five months since my last post. Jeez, time flies. What have I done in that time? Hummm...
Well for starters L started to walk, which in and of it's self is enough to flip my world upside down. She is into everything! I finally have all the outlets plugged, and the cabinets under lock and key. Yet, still she is fearless. Her favorite place to hang out in the whole world is standing on top of E's doll house. It still gives me a mini-heart attack on occasion.
I also have done quite a bit of canning, which makes another one of my "to do" list items done. Yeah me!
We canned about 80 lbs of tomatoes in various concoctions, salsa, spagetti sauce, tomato juice and whole tomatoes. We had to supplement a bit with goods from the farmers market. We got 20 lbs. of onions and two cases of peppers from a produce auction. In addition to the tomato goodies we also roasted and froze peppers, shredded or sliced and froze zucchini and squash, and I still have a few onions hanging out in my garage. We also made tons of pesto and froze it into cute little cubes.
We ended up canning about 2 dozen quarts of peaches. They are beautiful. I so sincerly wish we had done that earlier in the season, so that I would have had time to realize that 24 jars is not nearly enough to get us through til next season. Damn the luck. They are going so fast I can hardly beleive it. Everyone in the family loves them and I am inclined to hide a few jars so we can enjoy them after the first snow.
Picking apples was quite a treat. The orchard we choose also is home to alpacas. It was awesome seeing the girls get to pet them and learn about them. Plus, we scored some cheap wool socks. The trees were dwarfs so there were no ladders involved, huge bonus. We ended up coming home with 100 lbs. of apples and quickly turned them into super yummy applesauce and apple butter. We also chopped and froze some for pies. They keep for quite a while, I think I still have about 20 lbs. in the fridge that will just get eaten casually throughout the next few months.
I have also fallen into some absolutly delicious pears. Twice this week friends have shown up at my door with large bags full of pears that they basically found on the side of the road. One of the friends works for a gentleman that has trees on his land, but he doesn't do anything with them. I think I am headed up there this weekend to see what I can find. There is also rumor of nut trees....Yum.
All in all it has been a bountiful fall so far. I am mourning the last weekend of the farmer's market. Our CSA was officially over two weeks ago. The market has still had quite a few brave souls, but the selection gets more and more grim with each passing week. We shall see if there are any sweet potatoes or peppers left this weekend and I will be sure to stock up on that delish goat cheese, then that will be the end of it. Poor me.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Gotta love the egg timer

I have been feeling a little dejected busy lately, and totally worthless for blogging. However, today I took a peek at my blog, mostly to see what other people were doing....and found out I can mark another item off of my "to do" list. Yeah me!

We got rid of our microwave. I was thinking I might do an experiment on the effects of microwave ovens, but then I realized how much I love both my Jade plants and opted just to get rid of the damn thing. So onto Freecycle it went.

I was a little nervous in the aftermath. I have a 5 month old baby who I am making food for and thought I would be microwaving this food. Guess again. I am okay with that, as she is much better off for it anyway. Somehow in my sick, twisted mind I have to keep my babies safe, but my health on the other hand is a free for all. I eat right and get plenty of exercise, just by default. Because I am the defender of my little ones, I also eat organic broccoli, herbs from the backyard and free range eggs.

However, one of the vices I have yet to relinquish is my coffee habit. That being said, I am not the type to consume multiple double shot latteblahblahblahs. I have my cup in the morning, made right in my kitchen, and drank out of a ceramic cup. So, I don't feel toooo terribly guilty for this small pleasure. In the back of my mind is the nagging thoughts of how bad my coffee is for me and the environment, so it is on my to do list. Oh, and I like to microwave old coffee.....

The things I use(d) my microwave for
-old coffee
-"softening butter"
-the timer feature

But all in all it has been a pretty smooth transition. I never realized how dangerous it could be to put a cup of water or coffee in the microwave. I have a whole new system for getting my old coffee warmed up which involves adding a mini-scoop of new coffee and a bit of water and turning the pot on. I just have to remember to only do that for two days, otherwise who knows how long I would be recycling coffee grounds. yuck. My mother questions this technique, but I figure it is at least better for me than radiation.

As far as my butter, it softens pretty quickly in a cast iron skillet. duh. Plus, why would I want to soften my butter in something so toxic, to make bread that is "good for me."

And I splurged on an old-school egg timer, which I am in love with.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sometimes one is enough

With the Hallmark Holiday of Father's Day quickly approching, I am losing sleep. My Guy prepped me weeks ago. He sat down at the computer and was shoppping Amazon out loud. You know what I am talking about.
"oh, this one looks nice. let me read you the reviews...."
"now, I like that this one comes with suchandsuch...."

So now, with only 5 shopping days till Father's Day, I don't know what to do. My dillema lies in to buy or not to buy.

Part of the problem that I am having is completely and totally selfish. I didn't get a damn thing even get a card for Mother's Day, and barely got a Happy Mother's day wish. I don't expect a new iPod (that is what my girlfriend got, ahem), something cute and thoughtful would have been wonderful. Some examples of what I would have liked from My Guy include: teaching my daughter to say "happy mother's day", a painting or drawing done in secret for said holiday, breakfast cooked for me (not the kind where I get to clean up a huge disater in the kitchen afterwards). And although I got none of those things, I do not want to let my raw feelings ruin Father's Day. However, My Guy is more of a *stuff* person than I am and he would like something, I am sure.

Now, we have already made a super cute "I love Daddy" book out of cardboard. And if he knows what is good for him, he will gush over it. I have plans to head out to the farm that I bought our CSA from and pack a picnic and go fishing. I think this sounds like fun, and it will be a memory maker.

But, then what? The reasons I don't want to buy (in no particular order)

1.Our children are young. We have a lot of these holidays ahead of us. I don't want to set the bar too high at this stage in the game.
2. I try not to buy anything we don't have to have. We are saving for a house, and I am just an not the consumer I used to be.
3. I am still secretly sad about my mother's day. Even though I tell everyone I put no stock in these stupid Hallmark holidays.
4. I know that if I buy him what he wants, it will sit in his shop, unused, 364 days of the year. Annoying.
5. That one day of the year that it does get used, I will have get to hear all about it. "honey, its a good thing i've got this. what would i do without it?" Annoying.

So with all these reasons to not buy, I only have one reason to buy. It will make him happy. I guess I better get to the hardware store.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Meatless Monday

Tonight we are going to enjoy the bounty from the farmer's market and our CSA goodies. We got a bunch of strawberries, and last night I made strawberry shortcake with them. Yum! The difference between a strawberry from a local farm and a strawberry from the grocery store is astounding.
We also got a few sprigs of asparagus, damn that short-lived season. Mostly we got greens, spinach and such. So tonight we are having big salads and these goat cheese and herb souffles. I found some seriously delicious goat cheese at the Farmer's market, it is a tad expensive but I can't help myself and have bought some every week. I can justify it because I get the fresh herbs out of the garden and don't have to pay $3.00 for a litte bunch at the grocery store. So I think it works out.


7 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup whole milk
3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup crumbled soft fresh goat cheese
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Large pinch of cayenne pepper
4 large egg whites


Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter six 3/4-cup soufflé dishes. Place 1 tablespoon Parmesan in each dish; rotate dishes to coat with cheese, leaving excess in dishes. Place dishes on baking sheet. Whisk milk and yolks in bowl to blend.
Melt butter in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, thyme, and rosemary; sauté 3 minutes. Add flour; whisk 1 minute. Whisk in milk mixture. Whisk soufflé base until thick and bubbling, about 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Add 1/2 cup goat cheese, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper; whisk until cheese melts. Beat whites in bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/4 of whites into base in pan. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup goat cheese and 1 tablespoon Parmesan over. Fold in remaining whites in 2 additions. Divide mixture among dishes.

Bake soufflés until puffed and beginning to brown on top, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.