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Parenting Recipes Uncategorized

Recipe: Nourishing Pancakes

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Slowly but surely, pancakes have become our #1 breakfast staple.  L would eat bread, butter, and fruit all day every day if he could, but he also consistently likes pancakes.  And because I can put things like vegetables and eggs into pancakes, most days we have them.

I realized pretty early on that though L wasn’t adventurous when it came to eating a variety of textures or certain flavors, he would still accept a variety of colors and some different flavors when they were served in the shape of a familiar food.   I have fun thinking about how to make a batch of pancakes turn into a certain color or what new veggies or dinner leftovers I might include.

One thing that is probably already apparent is that I very very rarely follow a recipe when cooking.  I can’t bear to – there’s almost always something I want (need?) to change or add.  I prefer to get comfortable with a process, like cooking pancakes or muffins, and then follow a basic foundation recipe with regular tweaking.  I’ve finally forced myself to write down some notes while cooking, and have two recipes to share: 1) Carrots and Greens Pancakes is written out all the way and can be followed strictly to make yummy (and greenish) final products.  2) A basic Nourishing Pancakes recipe which provides you with the opportunity to play around with some of the add-ins based on preference or what leftovers and veggies are in your fridge or garden.  Both recipes are gluten free and leftover pancakes can easily be refrigerated or frozen and heated in the toaster.

One more note: I use ingredients like soaked oats and cassava flour because they are things we have in our pantry and fridge at all times.  I use oats soaked in water and a splash of sourdough starter and cassava flour because I generally avoid grains that haven’t first been soaked, sprouted, or soured.  These processes (soaking, sprouting, or souring) help reduce the amount of phytic acid in the grains (or beans, nuts or seeds) and therefore allow your body to absorb more of the nutrients the oats contain.  If you want to read more, I found this article to be informative.  Scroll down to find the section on oats.

 

Carrots and Greens Pancakes

Makes approximately 14 4-inch pancakes

3 eggs
2 carrots, chopped (cooked is even better, but I rarely have cooked carrots on hand)
1 banana chopped
1/4 cup packed cooked greens (spinach, kale, chard, nettles, etc.)
1/2 cup strained soaked oats (oats soaked in water with rye flakes + 2 T. vinegar or 2 T. sourdough starter for 24 hours)
1 T. cassava flour (if you bake with wheat flour, feel free to use 1T. wheat flour here)
1/4 t. ginger powder
1/4 t. nutmeg
dash of salt
butter for frying

  1. Adult: chop carrots and gather ingredients.  Toddler: chop banana with butter knife and small cutting board.
  2. Put all ingredients into a wide-mouth quart jar or mixing bowl with tall walls.  The adult can fill measuring spoons or cups, toddler can dump them in.
  3. Use an immersion blender to puree all ingredients.  Help your toddler know how to safely use an immersion blender (if you don’t have an immersion blender, put all ingredients into a food processor and blend).  This can be really fun for them once you can trust they will keep the tool in the liquid while pressing the button.
  4. Heat large cast iron skillet and have the toddler add a pad of butter. Once hot, turn pan down to low.
  5. Pour batter into pan in small circles (we like pancakes that are about 4″ diameter).
  6. Flip when tops are no longer liquidy looking.
  7. Enjoy with your preferred condiments.  L and I put pads of butter on ours, I add a sprinkle of salt, and Evan adds a drizzle of maple syrup.

 

Nourishing Pancakes

Makes approximately 14 4-inch pancakes

3 eggs
1/2 cup vegetables (cooked and not watery is best).  You can add more if dry roasted root veggies.
1 banana chopped
1/2 cup strained soaked oats (oats soaked in water with rye flakes + 2 T. vinegar or 2 T. sourdough starter for 24 hours)
1 T. cassava flour (if you bake with wheat flour, feel free to use 1T. regular flour here)
1 t. total spices (we like a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamon, and/or fennel)
dash of salt
butter for frying

Optional nourishing add ins:
– 1/4 t. turmeric + 1/4 t. ginger + 1/8 t. black pepper (this combo is very anti-inflammatory)
– 1/2 t. dulse flakes (adds iodine, important if you’re using non-iodized sea salt)
– 1/2 t. camu camu (adds vitamin C)
-whole blueberries, add a few to the top of each pancake after pouring into the skillet

Color ideas:
– using one beet for your vegetable choice will turn pancakes magenta
– using greens will turn pancakes green
– using sweet potatoes + turmeric will make pancakes orange-yellow

  1. Adult: prepare and gather ingredients.  Toddler: chop banana with butter knife and small cutting board.
  2. Put ingredients into a wide-mouth quart jar or mixing bowl with tall walls.  The adult can fill measuring spoons or cups, toddler can dump them in.
  3. Use an immersion blender to puree all ingredients.  Help your toddler know how to safely use an immersion blender (if you don’t have an immersion blender, put all ingredients into a food processor and blend).  This can be really fun for them once you can trust they will keep the tool in the liquid while pressing the button.
  4. Heat large cast iron skillet and have the toddler add a pad of butter. Once hot, turn pan down to low.
  5. Pour batter into pan in small circles (we like pancakes that are about 4″ diameter).  If adding blueberries, add them now.
  6. Flip when tops are no longer liquidy looking.
  7. Enjoy with your preferred condiments.  L and I put pads of butter on ours, I add a sprinkle of salt, and Evan adds a drizzle of maple syrup.

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Recipes Uncategorized

Winter Recipes

I love cooking in the winter.   Darkness comes early, leaving plenty of time for food prep before I get hungry for dinner.  Warmth and good smells contrast with the brisk cold outdoor air.  And the final result is a hot delicious meal.

Though I’ve cooked a bunch of new recipes recently, I failed to take any photos or document the ingredient tweaks made as I adjusted each dish to taste.  Oh well.  It turns out I’ve already documented many of our go-to recipes that incorporate stored, frozen, and canned garden harvests.  Here are some favorite recipes for the depths of winter:

Chicken Soup and Elderberry Syrup: Two of our favorite get-well-soon foods.

elderberry-syrup

Squash:  A variety of simple flavor combinations that allow you to enjoy last year’s bountiful harvest day after day.

Butternut squash

Winter Sweetened Kale & Brussels sprouts: Sweetened and tender from frost, these brassicas are nothing like the peppery and sometimes tough summer versions.  You can’t go wrong with these simple go-to recipes.

Winter-Kale-brussels-harvest

Chili and cornbread: Nourishing and delicious.  Perfect for enjoying in front of the fireplace after a day filled with snowy adventures.

chili-up-close

Tomato soup: A standard in our household.  This is our favorite way to use tomatoes canned in the height of sunny summer.

Tomato-soup-with-toast

Ginger and Turmeric recipes: Miso squash bisque, curried broth, and Golden milk tea: Warming, comforting, delicious, and SO good for you!

Ginger-and-Turmeric1

Cream of cauliflower soup: So creamy you’ll forget it’s packed with veggies.

cream-of-cauliflower2

Enjoy

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Recipes Uncategorized

Fresh-from-the-Garden Spring Rolls

Sometimes you just don’t have the time to dive into a multi-step recipe.  Summer days are often quite full of activity.  But summer is also the time when beautiful fresh ingredients abound.   Spring rolls to the rescue!  All you need to do ahead of time is keep a package of thin rice-paper spring roll wrappers on hand.  Follow the directions on the package, adding whatever fresh herbs and veggies are in season to make a beautiful but easy meal.  It can be fun to lay out the different ingredient choices and have each person make their own.  After ingredients are prepped, it only takes a minute or two for assembly.

spring-roll-ingredients

Delicious ingredient options:

-Any fresh herbs on hand: I love thai basil, regular basil, cilantro, mint, scallions, and parsley.

-Edible flower petals: It never hurts to add extra color inside and out!

-Thinly sliced veggies: really this can be any veggie you like eating raw.  Be conservative in your amounts – it is easy to be tempted to over-stuff your rolls.

-Protein and fat: A great way to use leftovers!  Sliced avocados, already cooked fish, pulled or ground meat, tofu (see below), toasted sesame seeds, strips of omelet, or bits or sausage or bacon turn your spring rolls into a satisfying and complete meal.

-Pickles: I prefer the garlicy gingery spark of kimchi in my spring rolls, but really any freshly fermented veggie will do.

-Leftovers: Do you have small amounts of cooked veggies, meat, or beans left over from a previous meal?  Include them in your ingredient offerings.

-Sauce: Dipping sauce is what really makes spring rolls so yummy.  The simplest option is a mixture of whatever of the following items you like and have on hand: soy sauce, rice vinegar, grated ginger, grated garlic, hot sauce, miso, olive oil and/or sesame oil.  Be sure to include at least one salty ingredient, something sour, and an oil.  I like to mix in a generous dollop of peanut butter for a wonderful peanut dipping sauce.

Thinking ahead?  Marinate some tofu. This is great to do in the morning before going to work.  Drain tofu and put into a container with soy sauce, rice vinegar, grated ginger, grated garlic, and sesame oil and shake gently.  Smear with a thin layer of miso paste and leave to marinate during the day. You can also give the same treatment to shredded carrots or sliced cucumbers for some yummy quick pickles.

spring-rolls

Categories
Home Gardens Musings Personal Sustainability: How-To Recipes Uncategorized

Summery Garden Recipes

harvest

I’ll admit it: I’m not a recipe follower.  My approach in the kitchen is to start with whatever item we have in abundance, add spices or flavorings that we didn’t just eat in the past few meals, taste, adjust, and enjoy.

This leads to a broad diversity of results that carry us through weeks of enjoyable seasonal meals.  But sometimes I feel the need to switch things up.  To try something new.  Or to use some new combination of flavors I just wouldn’t have thought of when trying to pull together a quick dinner from scratch.

Sometimes, especially starting around August, I also start to feel overwhelmed by the abundance of certain veggies and tired of my standard way of preparing them.  Bring on the recipes!

Here are a few ideas we’ve enjoyed this summer:

beet-risotto

Beet Risotto: Crafted by a friend and creative chef, this fun combination, enhanced by a generous amount of lemon zest, was a great way to enjoy our first true harvest of beets.  Check out her other recipes if you ever need in-season inspiration!

kale-ribbons

kale-salad

Raw Kale Salad: I was doubtful at first – I don’t love raw kale or dishes without enough sour, salt, and fat to balance out kale’s strong bitter green roughage.  It turns out the trick is in fine cutting and dressing ahead of time.  Yum!

rainbow-pizza

Rainbow pizza: When I saw this online in January, I immediately thought: “I can’t wait to try this in August!”  If the cauliflower crust in this recipe intimidates you, try it with a regular crust.

zucchini-fritters

Zucchini Fritters: After inventing a handful of variations on meals featuring zucchini and summer squash, I was excited to find this one to add to my repertoire.

Homemade fudgesicles: Ok, we didn’t grow any of the ingredients in this one.  AND, we ate them all without taking a picture.  BUT, it is a simple recipe with relatively whole foods and very delicious results!  I especially appreciated how the subtle sourness of the yogurt enhanced the overall flavor of these delicious cold treats.

Be sure to send your favorite summer veggie recipes my way, I’m always in need of new ideas!

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Recipes Uncategorized

Back to Basics: Simple Winter Veggie Dishes

Thanksgiving is certainly an exciting and delicious celebration for those of us who love to prepare and eat food. Having enjoyed my fair share of tender meat, freshly baked breads, sweet fruit sauces, and dessert, dessert, and more dessert, I’m very much looking forward to a return to simple vegetable-focused meals.

 

Winter-Kale-brussels-harvestDecember is a wonderful time of year to enjoy the many varieties of sweet and earthy squashes and frost-sweetened mildly bitter greens. Though complex recipes often reward cooks with delicious results, equally yummy meals can be cooked up with very little effort. Add some shredded cheese, a poached egg, or a sprinkling of nuts and you’ll be well on your way to a satisfying, flavorful, filling, and nourishing meal.

Butternut squashSquash: Squashes come in all shapes and sizes and can be enjoyed in a huge variety of textures with a wide range of flavorings.  Read this post and decide which recipe you want to try next!

 

Winter-Kale-brussels-harvestKale: When cooked just the right amount with plenty of healthy fat and seasonings, kale really can live up to its hype.  These are my two favorite ways to prepare kale – they’re quite different and equally satisfying.

 

brussel-sprouts-gardenBrussels Sprouts: Here are my two go-to methods for cooking Brussels Sprouts .  Lucky for your dinner prep plans, they are really much better when cooked quickly at a high heat.  This helps cooks avoid any of the mushy or sulphery versions of this delicious kale cousin.

 

Tomato-soup-with-toastCanned Tomatoes: Don’t forget to start using your supply of preserved fruits and vegetables  Here’s my Basic Tomato Soup recipe.  It’s my favorite (and easiest) way to enjoy sun-ripened garden tomatoes canned during the growing season.

Categories
Musings

House Photo Update + Harvest Bounty Recipes

Introducing another split-personality blog post!  With Thanksgiving just a few days away, I  predictably have autumn recipes on my mind.  Luckily, many of my favorite fall harvest veggies already have posts devoted to them.  If you’re looking for some ideas, check out my favorite way of preparing Brussels sprouts, kale, winter squash, and chard.

The real purpose of this post will come as a relief to friends and family who are eagerly (and not without a few subtle and not so subtle hints) awaiting photos of our latest house progress.  Our exterior walls are nearing completion – they’re actually two walls with insulation sandwiched in between!  The roof is ready to accept shingles.  Interior walls have been framed in so we’re really able to visualize where each room will be.  For anyone who has adventurously attempted the rough drive up to the site, this may be the most exciting progress: our construction road is now a real driveway, covered with a smooth packed layer of fine gravel!

View from the west - the exterior walls are almost ready for clapboards!
View from the west – the exterior walls are almost ready for clapboards!
View from the northeast
View from the northeast
View from the southeast
View from the southeast
View from the southwest
View from the southwest
A new driveway, and a battalion of tools occupying our future kitchen
A new driveway, and a battalion of tools occupying our future kitchen
Studs.... studs.... and more studs
Studs…. studs…. and more studs
Imagine the most amazing dining room table (and walls, and floors, and a ceiling) here
Imagine the most amazing dining room table (and walls, and floors, and a ceiling) here
Categories
Home Gardens Uncategorized

‘Tis The Season…

…when extra large industrial bowls are no longer big enough

harvest-counter

…when I find forgotten husk cherries in my pocket

husk-cherries

…when bubbling pickle jars start building up on the counter

pickling-counter

…when I’m glad we (Dad) did some trellising earlier this summer

squash-trellis

…when the chickens enjoy a never ending buffet of greens

chicken-yard

…when “just going up to get a cucumber” turns into a day of harvesting and food processing

harvest-tableHappy Gardening!

 

Categories
Home Gardens Musings

Summer Photo Update: Veggie Edition

The season is changing.  School has started, we’ve had several frost warnings, and geese are headed south.  In my transition from summer vacation to a new job this fall, I take a moment to remember many special memories from the past several months.  We had a busy summer filled with family reunions, weddings, evenings with friends, and weekend guests.  Reflecting on such a full social season, I decided to look back through my pictures.  All I found were images of vegetables, herbs, and meals we enjoyed.  Though I wish I documented some of the fun we had with people this summer, I’m happy to be reminded of this peaceful and rejuvenating slice of a busy season.

dill

summer-harvest

pickles

drying-petals

summer-pizza

green-beans

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Personal Sustainability: How-To Recipes

Fermenting Foods

While I wait for food to grow in the garden, I’ve been playing around with growing things in the kitchen!  Fermenting foods – with fungi and bacteria – makes them more digestible and nutritious.  They can seem like an acquired taste, but I’m guessing you’ve already acquired a taste for cheese, beer, and chocolate.  These are all fermented.  Many sterilized canned products containing vinegar today, like pickles and mustard, used to be live fermented foods.  It seems we are just starting to learn about the complexity and importance of our “microflora” – all the things living in our digestive system that help us process food and stay healthy.

sauerkrautTo get inspired and feel more confident, I attended a Fermentation Workshop at our local Waldorf School.  Jason from FolkFoods was great.  In just two hours, he helped the interested but hesitant audience become confident fermenters.  We all left eager to go home and make our own lacto-fermented vegetable creations!

To start, we all brought a pint canning jar.  Crocks or buckets can be used as well, but canning jars allow for smaller experiments which probably are best for beginners!

ferment-taste-testTasting a variety of fermented foods helped us understand how different chopping methods, time, and ingredients affect the flavor of the final product.  In the photo above, there are fermented garlic scapes, leeks, beans, fennel, cabbage, cauliflower, and a red cabbage/veggie blend.

chopping-veggiesNext we chopped.  Pretty much any vegetable can be made into a nice pickled product.  Beans can make dilly beans, beets turn into pickled beets, and cabbage transforms into sauerkraut.  Experimenting with cutting the same veggie into different shapes and sizes can help you learn what you like best.

chopped-veggiesOnce our team had chopped the beautiful array of vegetables laid out by Jason, we packed our jars.  After filling each jar with  our favorite veggies, we packed them down and fit in even more leaving about an inch of head space.  Any spices or herbs were then added along with salt, and water was poured over everything to make a brine.  For every quart of veggies, 1 tablespoon of salt is needed.  If you add in brine from a previous lacto-fermented pickle batch for whey from strained yogurt, you don’t need to use as much salt.

My jar after three days.
My jar after three days.

At home, I loosened my ball jar’s cap to avoid carbonating my contents and placed it in a safe but visible space in the kitchen.  Each day I press down the veggies to make sure everything is under the brine.  I’ve watched the colors blend more and more.  The veggies started out tasting salty.  Each day they get a little bit more sour thanks to the activity of my bacteria friends.  I expect to find my favorite flavor between seven and ten days, when I will put the jar in the fridge.

For really great information and recipes for fermented foods, check out Sandor Katz’s Wild Fermentation or Art of Fermentation.

Categories
Home Gardens Recipes School Gardens

Becoming a Vegetable Whisperer

I’ve seen it over and over again.  Parents, baby sitters, cafeteria directors, or after school staff trying to figure out how to get their kids to eat vegetables.  Too often it seems like a battle.  “If you eat your carrots, you can have a dessert” or “You can’t leave the table until you finish all the beans on your plate.”

Helping kids learn to love vegetables has been part of every job description I’ve ever had.  Becoming a vegetable whisperer isn’t as hard as most people think.  It does, however, take time and strategy.  Children often dislike new foods the first time they taste them but will change their preferences with multiple exposures.  Your efforts, in other words, will pay off!  I’ve listed some tricks of trade below for you to try out at home or school:

Provide healthy choices: Too often we are given a choice between something healthy and something unhealthy – salad or fries, for example.  We like having options and know which choice we should make, but it’s often different from the one we want to make, causing us to feel guilty and conflicted.  Providing choices allows your child to feel empowered, so why not allow her to chose which vegetables she eats?  In making a selection, she decides which vegetable she thinks she likes the most.  Seeing that vegetable in a positive and empowerd light will make it much more likely that she will enjoy her selection.

Taste testing: Better yet, she can take some of both veggie options to taste test, and then have seconds of the one she likes the most.  Taste testing very similar items such as peaches and nectarines, or different colors of the same vegetable, helps children take a full serving of produce.  I have a student who takes only two carrot sticks when orange carrots are offered.  He takes two sticks of each color (eight in total) when white, yellow, purple, and orange carrots are offered.

Student-grown: Anyone who has worked with students in a school garden will tell you: kids are more likely to try new veggies and love familiar vegetables when they grow that produce themselves.  Having ownership over the plant’s entire life cycle has a logical result: wanting to have ownership over the eating of that plant!

Cooking together: Helping with meal or snack preparation can have similar results.  When we cook with ingredients, we strengthen our relationship with them.  Their smell, texture, and color becomes familiar.  We’re naturally inclined to attempt (or even pretend) to like things we cook – if we put all that work into it, it better taste good!

Experiment with raw vs. blanched veggies: My students prefer blanched (or steamed) green beans over raw green beans, but prefer fresh carrots over blanched ones.  When blanching vegetables, I make sure to cook them very lightly – just enough for the color to deepen, but not so much that the vegetable becomes soft or mushy.  Some vegetables taste better cooked, and some taste better raw.  Do taste tests with your kids to learn their preferences, and then serve them what they like!  Try blanching broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, or pea pods.

“But it’s hard!”: Offering choices and increasing student involvement takes time, energy, and money.  Families and school districts struggling to provide healthy eating options rarely have time, energy or money to spare.  School gardens, back yard gardens, and partnerships with local farms can make a huge difference. I’ve never found rainbow carrots in a grocery store.   Growing multicolor produce, however, makes a school garden more fun without adding any expense.  Community members can be a great resource, and may be willing to help garden or cook with students.  In the end, each of these partnerships and projects help bring neighbors together to grow stronger as a whole community.  Celebrate each small victory, and enjoy plenty of delicious vegetables along the way!