Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Veggie Recipe!

I was looking last week for non-dairy/ vegetarian recipe ideas. No we aren't vegan. We just eat free-range (which is expensive) and we are cutting dairy (because we think Aeneas might be allergic). AND I am getting tired of my recipes and am ready to purge my collection and start trying some new things. This week I started with this recipe and then adapted it for what suited my tastes and the crisper drawer. Here is what I came up with.

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • Bring the broth and quinoa to a boil, cover and simmer until water is absorbed.

1 cup frozen corn
Simmer in water until done. Drain.

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 3 cups black beans, rinsed and drained
  • Heat the oil in a saucepan adding the onions first, then the garlic and zucchini. Saute until tender. Add the beans, corn and quinoa. 

Season with:
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

  • Garnish with:
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Chopped avocado
  • lime juice squeeze
Serve over tortilla chips...or wrap with lettuce in a tortilla, or serve over salad with crumbled chips and jap-ranch dressing or make a quesadilla with it as the filling. So good and a nice healthy leftover for Mama for the next few days!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

School is in session!

It's been a crazy week! The USA Pro Challenge bike race has been here for the last week, training and getting ready for the start of the race in downtown Durango. The start of the public schools were even delayed a day since a lot of the roads en route to school were closed for the race. One of FLC's alum is on the Garmin team and one of the favorites for winning. He managed to win the King of the Mountain jersey twice out of the first 3 stages of the 7 stage race across Colorado. The are teams from all over the world and it was fun having them here staying across the hall! We made friends with the United Healthcare team and scored some hats for the kids as well as some autographs.  

Dancing on the huge painted logo in one of FLC's fields.

 Threatening rain, we bundled up to watch the race.

Serious spectator!

Waiting for the cyclists to come by.

Here they are. We were able to watch from the rim where they passed right in front of us.

We then ran to the edge of the rim and were able to see them dieseling down Florida Rd. back toward downtown and off to Telluride for the first stage.

After everything settled down on campus we got into bed early for our first day of school the following day. I have tried to cut down as much as possible on the waste associated with lunch food packaging. Last year I used reusable sandwich wraps and containers. This year I found these cool bento box containers on Amazon and thought we would try them out. 

I am a firm believer that if the presentation is there, you can get kids to eat most anything! They have two sides to them; one for a sandwich and the other with smaller compartments for things like veggie sticks, chips and fruit. No one makes a water bottle small enough for lunchboxes so I went to our local outdoor store and got some backpacking bottles for $2 each. I figured out the shaped sandwiches last year after I ran out of bread except for the heels. I cut a shape out and turned it over and Patrick thought it was the coolest. This year, I am trying pumpernickel and wheat combo and they think it is the best. So easy and fun.

Here they are, ready to go. It is cold in the mornings in Colorado, even in August! Patrick rode his bike and Aeneas rode in the trailer. Mom got a workout on the way home!

And here is the man of the day. First day of kindergarten!
They do a stagger start here so that the poor kinder teachers aren't facing a room full of first timers all wanting their moms. So Aeneas went on Tuesday and then he goes with everyone on Friday. What have we done the last two days he has been home with me?

We had fun doing a little face painting yesterday. Got on line to have him pick something out and he was determined to want this one. He's very creepy! Today Justin and I have helped haul boxes for our Animas residents who are moving in today and Aeneas served lemonade (and ate cookies the RA's set out for students all day. What a life)! It has been a fun and crazy week for sure! Happy back to school everyone!

Monday, August 13, 2012

The straight "poop" on poop! Dairy-Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Well that is what our Doctor friend Kip Boyd told me on the phone the other day. I know so many of our little guys are struggling with the big "C" these days. I know because I have spent enough time with all of them to experience it first hand. I've complained about it enough to our pediatrician that she has finally talked me in to trying a no Dairy/ no Soy diet on Aeneas to see what happens. Yeah, we've tried the Metamucil and we've tried the MiraLAX as well. But both have been hard to hone the dosage (which refers to my remembering to give it as well as the amount) without the risk of stomach aches. As a baby we actually switched him to Goat's milk for a time and even though I don't recall exactly, she says in his chart that I reported that it seemed to make a difference.

Ugh! Milk?!? Really? And with that goes cheese and butter? and since we are almost vegetarian, there goes tofu, soy sauce and edamame!!! We go through 3 gallons of milk a week almost! And our favorite snack is cheese! Impossible. What the heck are we supposed to eat? But it was only for 3 weeks and then we will start introducing foods back into the diet. Justin and I have both grumbled that we hope it doesn't work. Well something has. And now I'm hoping it's not the milk or the soy at all but that the cheese is the culprit. That we could deal with I think. We will see.

Dr. Boyd has sent me some really good information on the topic that sheds some light onto the subject. And I've received some info from my doctor about the nutritional aspects of Cow's milk and dairy in general and how to get it in other places. So if you are interested, leave me a comment and I will forward them both to you. It might be worth a try. Not that only cheese is the culprit for us, but maybe trying the cheese alone could make a big difference in the lives of your little guys.

On this little adventure, I have found that coconut milk in the can adds some really good flavor and isn't a bad substitute to butter and milk for things like cookies, oatmeal and pancakes. Here is a modified recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies that doesn't use butter, margarine or even shortening. This isn't exactly low fat but I bet it cuts the saturated fat content of the traditional cookie in half. So give it a try!

No Dairy Peanut Butter Cookies
1/2 cp peanut butter
1/4 cp almond butter (or some other nut butter)
1/4 cp coconut milk
1/2 cp white sugar
1/2 cp brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cp flour
granulated sugar

Cream nut butters and milk, add sugar, sprinkle in the soda and powder. Add egg and vanilla. Stir in the flour. Scoop dough, roll into balls and then into sugar. Put on baking sheet and press with a fork. Bake at 350 for about 10 min.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ossie Mae and Chicken and Dumplings to die for!

Not many people can say they were blessed to grow up with all four of their grandparents, much less any great-grandparents however my family has been an exception to the rule. I was so lucky to have spent lots of time with both sets of my grandparents and especially blessed to spend so much time with my Great Grandmother, Big Mama, too. All but 1 of the 5 lived long enough to even meet my own kids if you can believe it. Big Mama was our lifeguard at the pool, and my bed partner all of my childhood. (I was a kicker so I'm not sure she liked that arrangement when she came to visit) but I was sure she had chosen me! And she could crack the whip on behavior like anyone.

She was happy to let us skip naps but it meant watching her "stories" with her. Most of us grands and great-grands decided naps weren't that bad after all! Watching stories was a deal breaker of the highest order and we could think of nothing more mundane. Staring at the black of the inside of our eyelids was entertaining under the circumstances! Our favorite family foods that came from her were her delicious Fried Apple Pies and Chicken and Dumplings. I am realizing that these old family favorites that my generation found as a delicacy, were merely a way for a family to survive during the tough times of the depression back in their day. Grandma McBrayer's "Lumpy Soup" was made with what they had on the farm in abundance, eggs, milk and flour. Chicken and dumplings wasn't much different. It was made with a whole chicken, boiled and picked to the bones, water and flour.

Growing up on a cotton plantation, I have heard how sad my great great grandfather was to have Ossie married off. Said he was losing his best cotton picker. They lived through some slim times, like everyone of that era.

Top: Ossie Mae in her 20's. Bottom: Big Mama on the right (clockwise) Aunt Barbara, Betty (my grandmother we called Nana), Grand (whom I never got to meet) and Uncle Jack.

I still remember the phone call like it was yesterday when I was old enough to take down the recipe for Chicken 'n Dumplin's. I remember making sure I had a pen and paper to write down the measurements. Here is how the explanation went:

"You take some flour, in a bowl, add a little bit of salt and then start addin' water, doin' yer hand around to mix it 'til it looks right. Then you roll it out to the right thickness, cut 'em in strips and drop them in your chicken broth while it's boilin'. They only need to cook a few minutes 'til they done, you know."

Needless to say I never wrote anything down. So it must be in my blood. I can make some mean Chickin' 'n Dumplin's! Here's how. 

Get a whole chicken and cut it into it's pieces. Boil until cooked through. Pull out the chicken pieces, allow to cool and then pick all of the meat and chop. Freeze half of it since you really only need half of it for the soup. Allow the broth to cool and then separate the fat off the top, strain and return to a big pot. I throw in chopped celery, onions and carrots or whatever I have on hand even though Big Mama's never had any of the extras. Simmer the soup while you make the dumplings.

Take about a cup of flour, add salt and pepper and mix it together really well. Run the water "doin" your hand around until you get a soft dough that's not too sticky. 

In the good old days, Big Mama would roll the dumplings out with a rolling pin. There came a time when the family told her she would throw her back out rolling them out and would no longer allow her to do it. At the time I rolled my eyes thinking they should let the poor old lady roll her dumplings if she wants to! It only took me once to realize they were right! It could throw out your back, your neck and everything if the dough isn't soft enough. So I cheat and run batches of it through my pasta maker until it's smooth and thin enough, roughly 1/4" to 1/8" thick.

Cut the dough into strips (place them between wax paper and put in the freezer keeping everything dusted with flour to prevent sticking while you are working on the other batches.) When they are all ready and your veggies are soft, you can drop them into your simmering soup. Allow them to cook for about 5 minutes and that's it!

If you ever had Big Mama's "Chickin' 'n Dumplin's", then do yourself a favor and make these for your family and pass along a long standing tradition of good ol home cookin' at it's finest! You won't be disappointed and there is no doubt you will curl up with your bowl and not only relish in the sweet culinary reminder of the past generation but remember the extraordinary woman that chose to share her legacy with us. 

Now to dig that Fried Apple Pie recipe out of one of the family members...

Monday, August 6, 2012

Summer in Durango

Here are some fun things we've been up to lately...

Check this guy out! Found him in our yard along with a Black Widow spider the other day.

Foamerator bubble snakes!. Find out how here.

 Learning to balance on the basketball. He's starting to get it!

 Marshmallow Fondant. WE had a bunch left over from past birthday parties so we used it like edible play-doh one day. Anyone remember Kartusch and the Furry Eyefulls?

Mama's garden gnome. Recipe: Take a bag of marshmallows and put into a microwave safe bowl. Toss with 3 Tbsp water. Melt in microwave by checking carefully and stirring until all of them are melted. Add powdered sugar until it's no longer sticky. Once you start handling it, it will become sticky. Use shortening on your work surface and hands if need be to keep it from sticking.

This is what brothers do. Sneak into each other's beds after the padres tuck them in.

Patrick is composing a new song.

Riding the pump track behind our house.

And now we are going to go for one last camping spree before school starts. See you in a few!