Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wordless Wednesday, Cottin's Market Picnic

Ice cream and fruit and enjoying the music.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Homemade Bread

Continuing on the healthy eating vain, we made bread. I am still nervous about making bread by hand with the girls so we got out the bread machine. The girls love watching it spin and they devour the bread when it is fresh out of the machine.

I have a goal to make homemade bread with the new Kitchen Aid soon. Maybe even this week! Any tips or great recipes you want to share? Post them to our Facebook Page and we can talk about them. 

When will it be done?!

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday, Yogurt and Dried Fruit

Audrey's daddy has taken one too many trips this summer and I am tired! My heart goes out to my wonderful sisters who have husbands overseas for military duty; I don't know how they do it! One difference is that they both have parents to help when the need to get away overpowers them. I saw some adorable pictures of my nieces sleeping at my parent's house this weekend and longed to be back home so I could drop my beautiful girls off with them!

That said, we have had a great time taking picnics and visiting parks while daddy is gone. For this reason we are almost out of fresh fruit. Audrey found a container of blueberries I was unaware of and then pulled out some carrots, dip, and yogurt. With the addition of Maurene's favorite pretzel sticks it turned into a meal.

Pulling the meal together.

Mo decided to 'help.'

Dried fruit, blueberries, two flavors of yogurt, carrots, pretzels.

As always, visit Muffin Tin Monday for some amazing meal ideas. You are also certain to find a number of fun blogs to follow while you browse.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

You Are What You Eat

I wrote a post a few days back about an eye-opening event that I experienced recently. While doing some work from home one night I watched the movie Food, Inc. It was such a shock that I have not stopped thinking about the ideas brought up in the movie. We try to eat healthy but I have now vowed to try to do better.

We know how to make many of the items we enjoy and have recently been purchasing at the grocery store. In order to make this transition easier, and more affordable, we are going to take it slow. The first post about the move toward more homemade foods was our Homemade Slow Cooker Yogurt.

Another key step we are taking toward our food health is eating locally grown meats. One of the perks of going to the Farmers Market almost every week is that we get the chance to talk to the local farmers a lot. One of our favorite farms is Hilltop Farms. They raise chickens, cows, and pigs. We have in the past purchased chicken and eggs from them. Recently we started buying pork. The owners post many pictures of the healthy animals they raise and I just love these adorable piglets. Talking to the owners, Jeff and Dena, really gives you a great sense of how much they love what they do. There is a photo book in their booth and they love to show pictures of the great care they take of their animals. They sold us the wonderful chicken Audrey is holding in the picture in our header. 

As we start the process toward making more homemade foods and saving more of our food budget for locally grown meats we will share our journey and our tips. But what I really want everyone to think about is how you are voting with your food dollars. Can you make a small change this week to purchasing in-season produce, or selecting organic? If you are able, visit a farmers market and buy a carton of eggs or some locally raised meats. 

This is my reason for making these changes, and I feel it is worth their health:

Riding the train at the City Market in Kansas City.

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Local Edition, Eat Local Challenge Finale

Lettuce and herbs.
These are the last days of the Eat Local Challenge. Audrey and Maurene both signed up this year and were able to complete the challenge. We started off our two week experience by earning a stamp for each passport for sharing a picture of our backyard garden.

The girls earned other stamps for purchases of local milk, butter and produce from our Coop, The Merc. We also received stamps for our weekly CSA distribution and items picked up at the Saturday Farmers Market.

Girls enjoying the market.

Flour, chicken, eggs, and flowers from our market.
Playing with paper mache veggies after CSA pickup.

We also gathered with other participants in the challenge for a pot luck at a local park. The girls helped me make Chocolate Zucchini muffins from almost all local ingredients.

All local except cocoa powder and baking powder.

Chillin' at the pot luck.

We love to participate in this challenge for many reasons:

  • It makes us think about where our food comes from
  • We get together with like-minded locals
  • The ingredients available challenge us in our eating
  • The girls get t-shirts to remember the experience
  • We work toward changing our shopping to include more local foods.
I can only hope that the changes we made for the challenge this year will carry on throughout the year. We could also earn stamps for eating in select restaurants that have local menu options. We may look into this more next year when the girls are a little older.

After we turn in our passports I will share pictures of the girls wearing their t-shirts. I know they have enjoyed this challenge as much I have this year. If you did not get a chance to participate this year please consider joining us next year.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Homemade Yogurt

With our decision to eat healthier we have gotten back into making a few staples. Homemade slow cooker yogurt is one of the easiest foods to make with young helpers. We can make it while running errands or cleaning the house. The result is tasty and very useful. I like to keep plain yogurt to mix with processed foods such as store bought dip, flavored yogurt, or salsas. We use a lot of yogurt so this is a good food to make ourselves. 

Mixing sauce while yogurt rests in blanket.

This is the first item we are getting back to making from scratch. Over the next several weeks we will share many of our favorite homemade staples as well as try some new recipes. We would love to hear what basic or staple items you like to make at home when you have a chance.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Can I Help?

Some days I can't get into the kitchen myself, let alone have the children help. These days I try to work out meals that involve very little to no cooking. But when I cook I love to have my helpers with me. 

When I first started cooking with Audrey she was so excited to help and I would try to do too much. Now that I know she will be content with any project I give her I only let her help where she will be successful. Here is a list of some of the girls favorite kitchen tasks:
  1. Add the seasonings
  2. Get out bowls, plates, or utensils
  3. Measure ingredients (with help)
  4. Stir
  5. Turn on mixer, food processor, bread machine
  6. Push button on microwave
  7. Set table
  8. Wash vegetables
  9. Unload dishwasher
  10. Scrub counters
There are plenty more they can do but these are the basics that we do on a regular basis. It is so nice when they volunteer to help with one of the tasks listed above. That not only makes me happy but them as well.

Added ground pepper to the dish.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wordless Wednesday, Container Party

What do you think she wants to make with flour, rice, powdered sugar, lentils and pineapple?

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What's For Lunch Wednesday, Bears

We took some bears to the zoo. But we did not share them with the real bears. One of the first exhibits we visited was the black bears and boy, are they big! We now have a new baby giraffe and a new baby hippo. They are both so cute and fun to watch. This day the giraffe family was out eating near the picnic tables so we sat down where we could watch them while we ate. 

The drive to the zoo takes about 30 minutes and it is a small zoo. That said, we recently purchased a membership because the girls love going so much. This visit Audrey was fascinated by the fact that the black leopard, Annie, was hiding in the corner and we could not see her. She told everyone she spoke with that day about how Annie likes to hide. Maurene is continuing to overcome her fear of animals and was able to let the friendly goats and llama eat food from her hand. I was there to support and encourage her as well. Hearing the throaty laughs of the girls as they interact with the small petting zoo makes me so happy. We are planning a trip to a dairy soon and another petting zoo.

Here is Maurene making the bear sandwiches and then the final product. I had so much fun chatting with friends at the zoo I did not take any pictures.

Finishing her sandwich.

Bear PB&J, Teddy Grahams, raisins, Cliff Fruit stick, Luna Bar.

As always, visit What's For Lunch Wednesday for some fabulous lunch ideas.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Salsa & Prefense Giveaway

The girls and I are in the middle of our Eat Local Challenge. This past weekend we attended a pot luck with other participants at a local park. As part of the challenge we were asked to bring a dish made from local ingredients. Our CSA provided tomatillos, garlic, and tomatoes and we pulled onions out of our garden. I prepped and had Maurene use the manual food processor to make a fresh tomatillo salsa.

Loving the manual food processor.

We packed up the salsa and headed to the pot luck. It was a beautiful evening and the girls had fun at the park. During the potluck they kept running back to swing, climb or dig. I am so glad we found out about a wonderful product called Prefense Alcohol-Free Foaming Hand Sanitizer which actively protects against germs for up to 24 hours. It is soothing on the hands because it is made with silica and with one application I know they are protected from whatever germs they could locate on the playground. So many sanitizers on the market contain drying alcohol or don't protect for very long. Using Prefense is like getting up in the morning and putting a germ protection on your children's hands that you do not need to reapply. I love that it lasts 24 hours because we have been known to dig right into cooking without remembering to wash hands.

The best news is that Prefense is giving one of my readers an 8oz bottle. With a once a day application this supply could last you two years! And if you do not want to wait to find out if you win you can purchase from Amazon for only $16.99! A two year supply for less than $20! I pay that for a two week supply of diapers and they do not protect against germs. We love the Sanitizing Wipes and will be ordering a container for our emergency kit. They also have a Combo Pack available from their website for only $6.99!

*Mandatory* - How can you win an 8oz bottle of this awesome all-natural product? Simply leave a comment sharing where you like to have hand sanitizer. Audrey and Maurene love to have picnic lunches at the park. Having a good sanitizer makes it easier to stay healthy while having fun. Want extra entries? Leave an additional comment for each.
Good luck! This is a fabulous product that I am so glad we were able to review. No money was provided but we were given a 1.5oz bottle of the product to test and fall in love with.

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I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday, Protein

When I asked the girls what they wanted for Muffin Tin Monday they each asked for a protein. Being in an accommodating mood I decided to let them have their wishes. Maurene is enjoying her new-found skill of egg cracking and Audrey is enthralled with squeezing ketchup out of the bottle for hotdogs. They added bananas, clementines, and apples to round out the meal.

Cracking eggs.

Slicing hotdogs.

Finished product.

Check out the other meals presented this week for Muffin Tin Monday.

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Food, Inc., Review

After the girls went to sleep last night I watched the movie Food, Inc. I was overwhelmed. Having seen movies about food production before I made the decision not to watch this movie because I thought there was  little I could learn. 

I was wrong.

The girls and I shop at a Farmer's Market at least once a week and most weeks visit two. We are lucky enough to live in an area that values quality over quantity when it comes to food. Our local Saturday market has been running since 1973. We have many options for CSA. All but Walmart and Target carry milk produced in a town less than a 30 minute drive from our house (even Kroger). We are members of a local co-op that carries and labels foods grown within a 200 mile range. All of these options are wonderful.

We still have changes to make. I try to keep our food costs down by purchasing meats from the traditional grocery store. That will be the first change we make. To offset the costs we will need to start buying our chickens whole and cutting them up ourselves. From the bones and leftover meat we will make our own stock. And we will need to eat less meat. 

Please take an evening to watch Food, Inc. and see if there are some changes you can make to your diet. One of the best messages I was able to take away from the film is that my dollars are my vote. And I am going to be a little more selective with my votes these days. 

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lily Pad Pancakes

I have raved before about how much we love our Toddler Cafe Cookbook but running across an unpublished post reminded me just how many ideas we have pulled from that great book. We tested half the book in January and have incorporated several of the ideas into regular rotation. This is a recipe we adapted and have used with several other vegetables to make fun, colorful pancakes.

  • 8 ounces frozen peas, thawed
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • Vegetable oil, as needed
  • Yogurt, for serving
Blend peas with water and eggs. Pour into a bowl and mix in flour, salt and baking powder. Let mixture sit for ten minutes. Place oil (if needed) in a saute pan and warm over medium heat. Pour 1 tbsp batter into pan and cook as you would pancakes, until you see bubbles around the edges. Flip and cook on the other side until lightly browned. Serve with yogurt.

Audrey's and Maurene's Tasks:

  1. Crack eggs
  2. Place items in food processor and blend
  3. Mix batter
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Assist girls
  2. Cook pancakes
These were amazing. The girls had a great time making them and very much enjoyed eating them. I highly recommend the yogurt to serve them with as it is a great accompaniment. We typically keep a jar of homemade yogurt around so I can really feel good about serving this meal to the girls.

Blending peas.
Mixing batter.
Fruits of labor!

Look how young they appear and this was just the beginning of the year! They grow up so fast!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Local Edition, City Market

Eenie, meenie, miney, moe.
The girls and I took a short trip to the City Market in Kansas City recently. It was amazing! This year round market brings hundreds of local vendors in the summer with so much variety in produce it is phenomenal. On the day of our visit the market was so crowded we had trouble making our way through the covered aisles. Audrey spotted a fruit vendor selling blueberries and nectarines. She could not resist. I also picked up some purple potatoes and a small watermelon. We could have spent many hours at that market.

Watching performers.

Playing with the displays.

You are what you eat!

A little train ride.

As you can see from the pictures there are many fun activities in addition to the food. We spent several hours there and could have stayed longer if we had the energy. Plan to arrive early and enjoy the food, sights, and activities. There are restaurants as well as food truck vendors to supply your every food desire. SNAP dollars are matched up to $20 so your budget goes further buying local foods. More on this soon. 

We stopped to talk to the nice people from the Missouri Extension office and they shared an amazing watermelon smoothie recipe that Audrey could not get enough of. They were also kind enough to photograph us in front of their tiger even though Mo was wearing her Jayhawk dress. If you are not from the area you should read up about the Lawrence Massacre on August 21, 1863 by William Quantrill to see why this is amusing. 

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Friday, August 19, 2011

PB&J Toddler Style

Audrey has been in the kitchen a long time. She was first introduced to the joys of cooking by her grandparents two years ago during an extended visit. When she got underfoot in the kitchen they found her a stool and had her help. We are forever grateful to their patience in helping us understand how much fun cooking with children can be. 

In the beginning Audrey could help if assisted, then she moved to helping without assistance, and now she tries to do it on her on. I decided to let her make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with very little assistance. She was provided with all of the necessary tools and guidance along the way.

Spreading peanut butter.

Adding jam.

Finished product.

It ended up being a little bit of a messy project but she completed it with style. She kept working on the bread to make sure every inch was covered with peanut butter and jam. In the end she was so proud of the fact that she was able to make lunch all by herself! Next time you are making sandwiches you might consider allowing your toddler or preschooler to help a bit. It really was a fun project and not too messy!

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Chocolate Banana Ice Cream

The girls and I ate some bad food. It did not get us very sick but the doctor recommended no juice little milk and have some foods to soothe the stomach. You can only eat so many bananas and crackers. Unless you are Maurene, that is. She loves pretzels, crackers and bananas. So I had her help us make banana ice cream. 

I sliced some overripe bananas and froze them overnight. The girls blended the frozen bananas in the food processor with a little milk. We added a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder.

What fun!

Audrey loves it as well!

We got the idea for this recipe from our Sneaky Chef Cookbook but did not follow an exact recipe. Add two frozen bananas and a few tablespoons of milk and adjust as needed. When this is first blended is it soft like soft serve ice cream but after freezing it is hard like ice cream. We love the way this tastes and how it helps our tummies. Keep this in mind the next time you find a good deal on bananas or the supply you have on hand is overripe. They freeze easily overnight.

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