Friday, May 30, 2014

Cluck Cluck Cauliflower

Continuing with our new recipe search, I picked up a cookbook at the library called Almost Meatless. It has some really great ideas for slimming down the amount of meat in recipes while maintaining great flavor. Well, if the first recipe we tried is any indication, it does all that. And their food photography is much better than mine, so don't let that scare you away!

Chicken and Curried Cauliflower Salad Sandwiches
adapted from Almost Meatless

1 medium head of cauliflower, chopped into 2-inch pieces (about 6 cups)
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. canola oil
1 tsp. curry powder
salt and pepper
1 large chicken breast
1/2-3/4 c. mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/3 c. salted roasted nuts (I used peanuts, the original recipe called for cashews)
1/3 c. raisins
Bread slices, toasted, for making sandwiches

Preheat oven to 400˚. Toss the cauliflower with 1 Tbsp. oil, 1 tsp. curry powder, and 1/4 tsp. salt.  Arrange in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet or in a glass baking dish. Put the chicken in a roasting pan or on a rimmed baking sheet; brush with the remaining oil and season with salt and pepper. Put both in oven. Roast the cauliflower for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Let the chicken roast for an additional 10-15 minutes (30-35 minutes total), until cooked thoroughly. Remove from oven and cool.

Add 1/2 tsp. curry powder to mayo. When cauliflower and chicken are cool, dice chicken in 1/2-inch pieces and roughly chop cauliflower so pieces are no larger than 1/2-inch. Combine chicken, cauliflower, mayo, nuts, and raisins, and toss until well mixed. Season with more curry, salt or pepper if needed (I used a bit of garlic powder too). Scoop onto toasted bread and serve.

Keith and I both really liked this one, and I was pleasantly surprised that Colter dug in too. I think it helps that he was in the kitchen with me and sampled each thing as it was going in so having it all mixed together didn't throw him off. I know having kids in the kitchen to help them become better eaters isn't a new idea, but I am always amazed by how much more excited Colter is to eat when he gets to help with the meal prep, especially when it comes to new or different flavors.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Whatcha Got Cookin'?

Elliott is moving all over the place and got into Colter's kitchen things, which prompted Colter to put the chef's hat on his little brother.

A good look, yes?

They might look good cooking but they aren't so productive so let's move on to real food. Keith and I have been talking quite a bit lately about how we eat and what we eat. With a couple of things in mind – health, expense, and sustainability, with health being the biggest factor – we're looking to shake up our diet. Keith was initially curious about a Mediterranean diet, with all the heart-health benefits that it are associated with, but as we explored that a bit, traditional Mediterranean recipes don't really jive with what is available locally and seasonally. The main focus there is loads of vegetables and lots of whole grains, and more fish, less meat. That we could do. So the current meal-planning goal is to have fish once a week, one meatless meal a week, and only one meat-centered meal each week (think meatloaf or a roast). The other nights can have meat (concentrating more on chicken or turkey, or small servings of beef or pork) but should be loaded up with vegetables.

So, that's a really long way of saying we are on the lookout for new recipes that fit these goals, and I'll be sharing some of them here. First up, one my mom made when we were up to visit at Easter and we both really enjoyed, and is perfect for our meat-free days. I went ahead and made a double batch and put some in the freezer for a quick and healthy meal another day.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1-2 tsp. dried cilantro (optional)
2 c. broth (I used chicken but I'm sure vegetable would be fine, and truly meat-free)
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 - 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes, in juice
1 - 15.5 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained

Cook onion in vegetable oil until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in chili powder, cumin, and cilantro. Add broth and sweet potatoes; bring to a gentle boil and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Add diced tomatoes and black beans; simmer until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.

With a nice roll on the side and a bit of sour cream on top, it was a really filling meal. Colter even devoured the sweet potatoes and beans.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Let's Talk

Colter is quite the chatterbox, and he often says funny (and sweet) things. So funny (to us, anyway) that we've taken to writing them down. I'm going to share a few from the last year, but be warned: there's some potty talk. And not 4-letter words, unless that word is "poop."

Me: When Elliott is born, Mommy will have to go to the hospital. Will you come visit us?
Colter: No.
Me: I'll be in the hospital for a few days, and you can come meet your baby brother.
Colter: I'll stay right here.

Colter: (talking about Elliott) We forgot to put gasoline on his pee-pee. 
(He meant Vaseline.)

Colter: I love my daddy because we go in the basement and work on our workbenches.

Colter: (laying next to Elliott) We're dreaming about rhino rides and tractors.

Colter: (to Elliott) Would you like your burp cloth so you can burp and spit up all your milk?

Colter: (sees a coffee pot in a store) I would like to buy that coffee pot.
Me: You would? What would you do with a coffee pot?
Colter: I would make Daddy some coffee.

Me: You are my sunshine.
Colter: I am your golden rock.

Keith: We use money to buy food. Where do we get the money?
Colter: At Turkey Hill.
(That's where the ATM is!)

Colter: (after putting his stuffed monkey, Percy, on the Boppy on my lap) Percy needs to eat.

Colter: I'm going to read you a story…Once upon a time there was a star and it loved its mommy. And a spider crawled on it. And then it crawled off. That was a great story.

Colter: (as Keith got home from work and put his wallet and money clip away) Awwwww…I just want your money.

Colter: It's good to pee on the farm.
(Further questioning revealed that he and Keith had an involved conversation about how the guys pee outside on the farm, but that he shouldn't do it in our yard.)

Colter: I'm just going to leave my work clothes on. These are my work pants, this is my work shirt, and I even have work underwear.

Me: (talking to Keith) It would be ok if there were subcategories.
Colter: I like cat parties!

Colter: (clearing his throat) Daddies and Poppers and Pop-pops do that.

Me: (talking to Keith) It would be good to be within walking distance.
Colter: Walking biscuits?!?
Keith: Walking biscuits?
Colter: If they had legs!

Colter has a shamrock-shaped pancake for St. Patrick's Day.
Keith: Mommy made you a special pancake. What does it look like?
Colter: It looks like….cauliflower!

Colter: The flowers are sad because we're not looking at them.

Colter: (to Elliott) You have a crazy outfit.

Colter: (to a random woman at the library) My daddy is Bob and I am just Kevin.

Colter: We have to turn the fan on and get all the stink from the poop out.
Me: Oh yeah? Where did you learn that?
Colter: Popper.

Colter: I tried to do a pee but my pee-pee just needs new batteries.

I hope that brightens this dreary day for you!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Weekly Photo Outtakes

It's tough to get a good shot around here. Not just because Elliott moves, but because we have an inexperienced photography assistant who is not so adept at setting up a shot or posing the talent.

Why is it that when I want a picture of Colter, he pitches a fit but when I want one of Elliott, he feels the need to be in it?

Anyway, the weekly photo is up. Let's keep it quiet that I had to pull the white onesie out of the hamper, shall we?

Monday, May 12, 2014

How the Garden Grows

A little bird told me that a garden update was needed. To update you on the garden, I needed to actually do something out there. To be fair, I had put peas and carrots in, along with a bit of spinach, lettuce, and radishes. And we did buy some plants for the garden. They just desperately needed to get in the ground. Yesterday, while the boys napped, I finally got to it. Somehow it was much easier to attack the planting when I knew I had a couple of free hours later in the day to squander while Keith took the boys to see his parents. And, since I didn't have to rush, it was a lot easier to get a few photos too.

First up were the tomatoes. I planted twelve this year: four Roma and eight Amish Paste, a new variety for us. Since we mostly do sauce, I was looking for a variety that would be thicker and hopefully this will be the one.

Look! Action photos! Proof that I do some of the work around here.

We are also trying placing crushed eggshells in the holes where the tomatoes are planted. The calcium in the eggshells is supposed to help the tomatoes regulate the water it absorbs. I put about a quarter-cup in each hole before putting the tomato plant in.

Peppers (four bell, two sweet banana) also went in, along with two broccoli plants.

Then there's what I refer to as the salad bed, with radishes, spinach and lettuce that I planted a couple of weeks ago. I actually did a second planting of each so we have salad greens (and reds, I suppose) coming on for awhile.

It might be time to thin the radishes a bit more.

Four cabbage plants around the bottle tree again. 

While we were both able to work together, we laid the soaker hose around the tomato, pepper, and broccoli plants, running it right through the cages to help it stay put.

The peas are up, and we are hoping for another good crop this year.

We put a fence in each year for them to climb, helping to keep their footprint manageable and making them easier to pick.

We have some dill volunteering yet again.

Colter even has a little garden, complete with a fence to keep the bunnies away. He and Keith planted peas and carrots in there a week or so ago.

The apple trees have blossoms, having survived a tough winter and some miserable rabbits who chewed down the bark while standing on top of our multiple feet of snow, which rendered our 18" fences around the trees utterly useless.

I planted some cucumbers as well, and will plant the green beans in a week or so (I'm trying to time it right so they don't all come in during our trip to Maine). I also need to get some onion sets to put in. Definitely behind the eight-ball there. We are skipping potatoes this year as we seem to have a vole population to battle, but otherwise the garden list is much like other years. It is still one of our goals to do some late planting of brussels sprouts and cabbage in the fall. Maybe this fall won't slip by us like the last did with Elliott's arrival. But let's just soak in these beautiful spring days for the moment, and not jump ahead to fall!

Happy planting, happy growing everyone!

Thursday, May 8, 2014


A picture might be worth a thousand words, but this t-shirt is worth a thousand books.

We took part in a program at the library called 1000 Books Before Kindergarten, which is exactly what  it sounds like. We kept a log of the books we read with Colter, getting a sticker or coloring page for every 100 books. When we reached 1000, he got a t-shirt. It took us exactly six months, starting on October 31 and filling in the last book on April 30.

(Can I just say it drives me nuts that two out of the 1000 book titles are written in blue pen? What was I thinking? I should just rid the house of blue pens.)

We definitely read more that weren't recorded in that six month span, but if 1000 is about average for six months, that means we've probably read well over 5000 books in his lifetime. (I'd venture a guess that about 1000 of those would be Curious George.) It was within the rules to write down the same book every time it was read, as repetition builds language skills. That's good because our 1000 books probably has more like 300 titles listed.

It makes me so happy to be raising a little bookworm. I hope he continues to love to read all through his life.

And instead of wondering what to do with the book log now that it's filled up, I have the great pleasure of filing it away in his memory box.

Oh, and in case you are wondering about Elliott and reading, we are working our way through Anna Karenina. Just kidding. We are getting into a routine of reading two books before each nap and bedtime, and sometimes he lays on the bed with Colter for his nap and bedtime stories. So he's getting plenty of reading in, but we haven't started a book log for him. Is it wrong that I don't want to keep track of another 1000 books? Curse of being the second child, I suppose. (And I'm a second child, so I know.)

Anybody read something good lately? Something that doesn't start with, "George was a good little monkey, and always very curious…"?
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