Sunday, February 28, 2010

Jamie Oliver's TED Prize wish: Teach every child about food | Video on

Jamie Oliver's TED Prize wish: Teach every child about food | Video on

I just watched this with my kids. It really affected my 8 year old. He finished watching it and told me he was scared. He also got up and ate a bunch of carrots. He kept saying "So that's why you don't want us to eat junk food?" He also realized that if the kids in the video didn't know what those veggies were, then they weren't eating them. It's sad that my 8 year old gets it, but our government and our world don't.

I really struggle with what to tell my kids about the food that is eaten. We've talked about the differences in how animals are raised. We've talked about food miles. We've talked about gardening a lot. It's so important to me that they know what good food is. I also want them to know how to grow and cook good food, to seek it out. We are not perfect in this area, my kids still get fast food sometimes, but we're trying and we're making progress.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

It's still winter

I found this sitting outside this morning.  Apparently the kids thought it would be good to play with all the mud we've had lately.  It's looking kind of rusty right now and seems to express exactly how I feel right now.  I just want this winter to be over so that I can go out and play in the garden.  
We have had some more crazy weather this week.  We've had snow, hail, rain (lots of rain), more snow and hurricane force winds just for good measure.  Next week will be no different, I'm afraid.  I have to keep reminding myself that we still have months left until full gardening season begins.  I should just be relaxing and enjoying myself, but I'm always wanting the next thing.  

While I was out, Noah's best friend was out walking his dog.  They decided to take the dogs for a walk together.
Toby is about 4 times bigger than this other dog, but they seemed to be having a nice time playing as well.  The kids were having a bit of a hard time keeping them controlled though.  They want the dogs to be best friends, just like they are.   It's very cute.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Signs of spring

This time of year always finds me outside looking for signs of life.  I'm usually dragging the kids through mud to show them the swelling buds.  They usually say something like "Great Mom." and then run off on their scooters to enjoy the sun and warmer weather.

Today was no exception.  We've had some fairly nice days this week.  The days have been in the upper 40s with lots of sun.  The snow is almost gone and although much of our state will get snow this week, we're forecasted to get mostly rain. 
Today I found daffodils poking their little heads up.

Peach buds swelling.

Cherry tree buds doing the same.

Toby was out enjoying the sun, but he didn't want his picture taken.  He was more interested in having me throw large muddy sticks for him to fetch. 

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cheese Straws

In my quest to eliminate the grocery store, I'm trying lots of new recipes.  This one is kind of like a cheese biscuit in flavor.  Hubby didn't like them, but Morgan and I loved them.  We're the cheesy types anyway.  These are certainly for someone who likes cheese.

I got the recipe from Allrecipes I'll rewrite it here for those that don't wish to click on the link.

Cheese Straws
2 C flour
2 C shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 C butter
1 t baking powder
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup water

Make sure your butter is soft, but not melted.  Combine all ingredients except water, until well combined.  Add water slowly, until you have a very stiff dough.

Roll the dough in small batches on a lightly floured surface.  You want to have snakes slightly thicker than a pencil and about 4-5 inches long.  Arrange on a baking sheet.  They will puff quite a bit.

Bake at 400 degrees for 5-10 minutes, or until browned.  The original recipe called for 5 minutes, but I found mine needed closer to 10.  Maybe I made them too thick.
The little boy from up the street is currently devouring them.  I will probably try them with some wheat flour next time.  That will probably up the nuttiness and texture a bit.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

February seed starting

Things are starting to get busy here.  This week I potted up the lettuces, basil and dill.  I had planted to much dill and lettuce, so some of the seedlings went into the compost pile.  This always kills me, but is necessary.  I don't have unlimited space inside or out.  Everything is looking good, but there is a white fungus starting on my onions.  I've started spraying them with a diluted hydrogen peroxide mix.  Hopefully that will keep them healthy.  Onions have been my nemesis in the past.  
This was also the time for me to start the next round of seeds.  The list for today is:
Prize Choy pac choi
Nutribud broccoli
Early Jersey wakefield cabbage
Shasta daisy
Black beauty eggplant
Early jalapeno
Anaheim pepper
Poblano pepper
Big Red bell pepper 
Quadrato D'Asti gallo pepper
This is my first year growing the Asian greens, eggplants and flowers.  The rest I've grown in one form or another, although many are new varieties to me.  Everything is on a heat mat.  The eggplants and peppers will stay on the heat mat until they are ready to go outside.  

There are some signs of impending spring around here, but we still have at least another month until anything can be done outside.  They are predicting snow over much of the week, it is still February in New England.

Friday, February 19, 2010

And the winner is.....

Kit!  Congratulations Kit.  I wish I had more sets to give away.  Enjoy your seeds.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Reusable canning lids?

For those that have read my blog for a while, you'll know that I do quite a bit of canning.   In the past few years I've become concerned about a few things.  First the lids are not supposed to be reused.  I know that many people still do reuse them, but I'm not very comfortable with it.  Second, the lids have a coating that contains BPA.  I'd really like to avoid that if at all possible. 

Today I was reading a canning forum and saw a thread about some reusable lids.  They're called Tattler reusable lids.  They're made of plastic and have a separate rubber ring that is also reusable.  Have any of you heard of these or used these?  I still have tons of lids that I bought in bulk, but would be thrilled if there was an alternative.  They wouldn't rust and destroy the seal either.  Moisture wouldn't be such an issue.  I'm going to have to think about these a bit more. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

English muffins

As part of my goals for the year, I've been working on making more items from scratch that we would normally buy.  Today, it was making english muffins.  I wanted them to be whole wheat and made with ingredients that I could pronounce.  They were remarkably easy. 

The recipe is
1/4 cup warm water
1 package dry yeast (1 T of bulk yeast)
2 C whole wheat flour, plus about another 1/2 C for kneading
1 C white flour, or use all WW  (guess what I did)
1 t salt
1 C milk
3 T oil
1 T honey
1 egg
cornmeal for dusting

Bloom yeast in water, until foamy.  Mix flour and salt in large bowl.  In separate bowl, mix milk, oil, honey and egg, then add water and yeast.  Add liquid to the flour slowly and mix to combine.  I did this in my kitchen aid with the dough hook. 
Add enough extra flour to make a loose dough.  I tend to make my whole wheat doughs on the wet side.  It needed another 1/2 C of flour for me.  Then let rise in oiled bowl, covered with a towel, until doubled.  It will take an hour or so, depending on how warm it is.  My house is cold, so it took over an hour, even sitting next to my crock pot.
Then turn the dough onto a surface covered with cornmeal.  You then pat, or roll it to about 1/2 inch thick and cut out your rounds.  I used my 2 3/4 inch biscuit cutter.  Put a towel over them and let them rise for another 20-30 minutes.  
Lastly, heat a griddle, or large skillet over medium heat.  Cook the muffins for 5 minutes, flip for another 5 minutes.  Continue flipping every 2-3 minutes until they are browned and the insides are soft, but not gooey.  You may need to cut into one to test it.  

They look like english muffins, don't they?

I had to try one with butter and my Triple Berry Jam.  It was delicious!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Survival seeds giveaway

Welcome to my first giveaway!  Today I will be giving away seeds from Hometown seeds.  They are offering a pack of Survival Seeds for a reader.  Please check out all the great items that they have to offer. 

This pack contains seeds for a complete garden.  They are all sealed up for you and will keep for 5 years without any work from you.  If you put them in the freezer, they'll keep for at least 10.  This pack contains many of the same seeds that I use every year.  They are all open pollinated, non GMO seeds.  Some of my favorites are Detroit Dark Red beets, Waltham Butternut squash and Black Beauty zucchini.  All of them are proven winners in the garden and will feed your family quite well. 
I know lots of us have the box of seeds.  If they are like mine, they are loosely organized and have way too many.  The beauty of this package, is that you will have enough of the right seeds if there were ever an issue and you couldn't get seeds for yourself.  I'm learning to save seeds, myself to prevent any issues in the future.  Many are easy to save, but there are quite a few that are difficult.  
To enter, please go to Hometown Seeds and see what they have to offer.  Then leave me a comment telling me if there are any seeds in the pack that you've planted before, or are interested in.  I'll draw the winner on Friday.  The Survival Seeds packet will be mailed directly from Hometown seeds.  Make sure that in your comment you give me an email address, or link to somewhere that I can contact you. 

Friday, February 12, 2010

How do you feel about Valentine's Day

I must confess, I'm not much for V day.  When Hubby and I were newly together, he would get me flowers and chocolates, balloons and teddy bears.  Over the years, we've stopped with it altogether.  It seems too much like a Hallmark holiday.  Created to sell more stuff.  Hubby and I know we love each other, we don't need candy to say it. 

The kids are at the age that they love stuff like this, though.  Today we're off to a Valentine's Day party with our homeschool friends.  After filling out 72 cards, complete with Barbie and Lego stickers, I'm about done in.  They love giving and getting fun cards and candy.  It's another party for them.  Who doesn't love a party?
My feeling is to look at this and think about the waste.  Yes, I could have had them make cute little valentine's from scrap paper and recycled items.  The fact was, that I could barely make myself get the easy pre-made valentines from CVS.   Maybe I'm just not a romantic person.  Maybe I'm just a Valentine's Grinch.  Either way, I just don't like this holiday.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Seedling update

These are the seeds planted on 1/31.  From left to right are Pinetree lettuce mix, winter density lettuce, bouquet dill and genovese basil.   They all came up quite quickly.  I had a heat mat under them until they germinated and then shut it off.  In past years I've done this in my chilly basement.  Even with the heatmat, I had very slow germination on everything.  This year they're in my schoolroom, which is still relatively chilly, but better than the basement, by at least 10 degrees. 

I'm really curious to see how the peppers do.  In years past, they've taken weeks to germinate and then were very slow to do anything.  I typically start them in mid February for that reason.  With the new setup, that may be too early, but we'll have to see.  

In this tray are my onion.  Yellow sweet spanish and red bull.  The yellow sweet spanish came up 2 days before the red bull, but both seem to be coming along quite nicely now.  The heat mat was turned off on those as well.  
My plan for next weekend is to start peppers, and eggplants.  It's still ages until anything can be done in the garden yet.  The ground is frozen quite solid, with snow in the forecast for midweek.  The month of February is always the month I decide that I want to move somewhere warmer.  It will never happen, but I wish it every year.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


I just love getting things like this.  A friend came over with her 3 boys the other day and spoiled me rotten with these wonderful gifts.  The first is a jar of maple syrup from her own trees.  The second is bread and butter pickles from last summer.  The third is a jar of assorted dried beans that she grew last year.  Wow!  I feel so blessed.  I had to take a picture of them before they got gobbled up.   It's wonderful to have friends that do so many wonderful things.   I'm very blessed to have such a talented group of women to spend my time with.  Some are crafty, others organizational geniuses, DIY go-getters, gardeners, cooks and decorators. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My chickens and Crunchy Chicken's challenge

Food Waste Reduction Challenge - February 2010

Crunchy Chicken is running another challenge.  This one is about reducing our waste in the kitchen.  The problem is that I've become rather lax in this area as a result of the chickens.  It's far too easy to just give the leftovers to them, than to find a way to use them for us.  Sad, but true.  Crunchy caught on to this chicken loophole pretty quickly and closed it for us.  Darn her!  

They get so excited whenever I come out to see them.  Their little food bowl (an old dog dish) is empty and they'd really like some treats please.  "But Crunchy says I have to eat the people food myself!"  They didn't like that one bit and said some not so nice things about her that I won't repeat here.  "Don't worry" I tell them. "I just read an article in Mother Earth News about growing chicken feed.  I had already planned to grow some extra greens for you."  They still aren't very happy, but what can you do, they're chickens.  These are the same animals that when given yogurt to help their tummies, decided to step in it and then eat it off of each other's feet.

So, onto the challenge.  This is actually a good time of year for this one.  The garden isn't producing and we're using up everything that has been canned and frozen.  My biggest issue will be making just enough for us and/or freezing any leftovers, until we can get to them.  I'm sure the chickens will still get a few things here and there, but I need to make a concerted effort to reduce our waste, and not cop out and give it to the chickens.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sprouts already

They're up already!  Those are sprouts from Winter Density lettuce  and Pinetree Lettuce mix.  They are coming up rather quickly.  Just 2 days and I'm in business.  I love instant gratification.  

These are a little harder to see, but are sprouts from the Yellow Sweet Spanish onions.  The Red Bulls haven't poked their heads out yet.  Only 3 weeks until I can plant more seeds.  Patience is not one of my virtues.