Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bulking up

I have been wanting a chest freezer for forever. But at one point, we were living in an apartment that didn't have space for one, so there was no possibility. And then we moved into a house, but again, no good place for one because the layout was.... strange(and no garage). And then we bought a house, and there was a garage, but the house needed a lot of other investments more pressing than my desire to have a chest freezer and freeze tons of things.

But then here I find myself, in a house, with enough space, with a garage, and not needing to spend money on this house because we rent it. And just last week I was looking at chest freezers online, but they were expensive! Well, I guess expensive is all relative, but they were more than I wanted to spend on something that isn't necessary, but would just make my life easier. Then on Friday night, while at dinner with friends, they mentioned they had just left Sam's Club and bought a chest freezer. Well, don't ya know, I hadn't even thought to check Sams' prices.

It ended up being a decent price, for a big enough freezer(7 cubic feet). And it's surprisingly not heavy, so I could unload it myself. And so now, hooray, I have a freezer in my garage!

The thing that makes me really excited is now I have the space to make meals in advance and freeze a bunch of them without having to keep a really small rotation. And I can also make a pilgrimage(the closest one is 2 1/2 hours) to Trader Joe's and stock up on a bunch of stuff for quick meals(like their frozen pizzas, heck yea!). And this will make my life so much easier when it comes to meals. Really. It will. My head is just spinning with ideas. Yay!!!

Yes, I know this makes me a big dork. Oh well.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

This smells sooo good!!!

Our meal plan shifted back a day because of going out to eat on Friday, and then me going off the plan yesterday.

But, today we're back, with quiche! This one came out of my new cookbook, but the recipe is also online, so I'll share it with you guys here, too.

Real Simple's Basic Quiche

1 9-inch pie crust
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
salt and pepper
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
4 large eggs
3/4 cup half-and-half
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
8 ounces Gruyere, grated
4 cups mixed greens

1. Heat oven to 375. Fit the crust into a 9-inch pie plate. Place on a baking sheet.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the parsley.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir in the onion mixture and the Gruyere.
4. Pour the egg mixture into the crust. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes. Drizzle the greens with the remaining tablespoon of oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Serve with the quiche.

I also added in half a chopped chicken breast because I had it leftover from last night and didn't want to waste it.

It was really, really good. I will definitely be making this one again.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Bikes and trikes and things

So, I had another blog planned, but after the Teddy incident overnight(Teddy having a major, ongoing seizure and having to take him to the vet ER) and me subsequently being worried all day, I didn't have the wherewithal to edit it and post.

So here I am, sitting outside, while Ansel runs off some much needed steam. On a normal day, we would have played outside earlier, but I've just been really blah all day. I am, however, so glad that the weather is cooling off some. The heat isn't oppressive now and there's even a frequent breeze, which is lovely!

It was today that I realized Ansel needs a new bike. The one he has now was a Christmas present from us in 2009. Look at tiny Ansel!
His birthday is in December, so I think that would be a good time to get him a new bike. I just feel like a bike is kind of a big 'whenever' present, and the bike he has now still works for him, it's just getting a little small.

As a bonus, check out my mom pointing and laughing at Ansel when he fell off his bike on Christmas.
Not really. She was pointing like, "Look! He fell!" It just looks like she's pointing and laughing.

Friday, September 23, 2011

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Idea completely adopted from Soulemama. Check out her blog!

Dun-dun-dun.... School lunches

Oh my, school lunches. Heated topic. Anyone seen Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution? Or checked out the awesome blog, Fed Up With Lunch?(I've been following it for a while) There's tons of info out there on why school lunches are terrible. And they are. Where we lived in Virginia, they were pretty bad. But here in Georgia, I would have to say they are far, far worse.

For example, at my son's school today, this is their meal:
Choice of: Cheese or Pepperoni Pizza w/Garlic Breadstick, Manager's Choice, or PB&J
With(pick two): Pasta Salad, Peas and Carrots, Fresh Veggies/Dip, Fresh Fruit
And of course, milk or chocolate milk.

So, possibly, a child could get pepperoni pizza, breadstick, pasta salad, peas and carrots, and chocolate milk. That is a LOT of carbs and sugar. Wow. And the food is all so highly processed that it's scary. Needless to say, I send lunches to school with Kadin. He might on rare occasions buy lunch, but that's it. I think he's bought lunch twice so far this year, and his school has been open since the first full week of August.

I decided it would be fun to show you guys a week of what I pack Kadin for lunch. I will admit, usually there would be more redundancy, but for the sake of the blog I made sure not to have any repeats of main items. But I will vouch for the fact that this is representative of what I would send for him, and he does eat it. One day this week he didn't eat his apple, but that was because he said he didn't have time(he likes to talk). But other than that, all of this was actually eaten. Oh, and they don't have snacks at school anymore.


This is basically dinner leftovers. Beef and bean burrito, salad with french dressing, white grapes, and water.


Nitrate-free bratwurst on a whitewheat bun, green bell peppers, apple, and water.


Greek honey yogurt, apple, pretzels(it's a pretty big bag, fyi), and water.

Ham sandwich on whole grain bread with lettuce and mustard, red grapes, rice cakes, and water.

Peanut butter and Nutella sandwich on whole grain bread, apple, whole grain Cheez-Its, cucumbers, and water. I have no idea what of this he'll eat, but if I took any one part of it away, it looked naked.

What's your child's favorite lunch? What was your favorite as a kid? I used to look forward to tuna sandwiches.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Meal Plan for 9-23-11

Some of these meals had to carry over from last week's plan because we ended up having some leftovers we decided to use. This is also going to be a slightly redundant plan because I took advantage of a sale recently and stocked up on some stuff, like chicken breast, so I need to use a bunch of that and free up some space in my freezer so I can store leftovers for later use.

Thursday: Today was already planned. We're having slow cooker Chicken Tikka Masala, with naan and salad.

The rest come from my new cookbooks!

Friday: Chicken Salad with Peaches and Blue Cheese, with bread or rolls.

Saturday: Basic Quiche, with mixed greens salad.

Sunday: Chicken Souvlaki

Monday: Soy-Marinated London Broil, with rice and broccoli.

Tuesday: Vegetable Soup, with bread or crackers.

Wednesday: Chicken Cutlets with Herb Sauce, with vegetables.

I'm excited! Now all I have to do is make up my shopping list and I can get that all knocked out tomorrow! Fortunately pretty much all I'll need to buy is fresh produce because I have nearly everything else already. That is awesome.

Cookbooks!! I am so excited!

I LOVE these cookbooks!

I have previously purchased, and loved, the Real Simple magazine cookbooks. They publish them periodically, I don't know the intervals(seems about yearly) and I wanted more. These are the two I started with:


So I went on the hunt to see if there were more out there. If a little is good, more is better, right? So lo and behold, yes, Real Simple has published actual, bound cookbooks. So into my Amazon cart they went! And they sat. And sat. And I really wanted to buy them, and I waffled on it, but never quite did it.

Then last week, I needed to order new carseats for Ansel, and so I threw on the cookbooks as well(with dear husband's blessing, woot!). And now I am so excited! They're here, and I can't wait to sit down with them and pour over every single page and pick the recipes I want to try first.

If you haven't ever used these cookbooks or Real Simple recipes, you should. They're simple(obviously), they're almost all quick meals, and they use mostly whole foods. None of the recipes I've used have ever called for anything canned or odd. And everything has been awesome. There was one dish I made that we didn't love, but it's not like it was inedible or the kids were complaining. I expect that over the next couple of weeks, most of our meals will be coming from these cookbooks, and it's gonna be great. Ya'll will definitely be hearing more about them.

What's your favorite cookbook? Is there anything I absolutely have to check out?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The athletic gene

I lack whatever that thing is that makes you good at, or like participating in, sports. Whatever it is, I don't have it. I was in gymnastics, dance, and softball as a kid. Oh! And horseback riding and swimming lessons, but never swim team.

Gymnastics was a joke. I think I lasted maybe a month's worth of lessons. I was(and still am) terribly afraid of heights and taking physical risks. So yeah. that rules gymnastics out pretty quickly.

Softball lasted, I think, four years. I think softball lost me when they switched from those cute short-shorts to the capri style(I'm sure this is not what actual softball uniforms are called, but this shows where my priorities were). I was sort of ok with softball for the first three years. I drew a lot of pictures in the dirt when I played second base. I caught exactly three balls when they made me catcher(Why? I have NO idea). And I was a huge fan of the free soda after games(Suicides anyone?).

Horseback riding was yet another joke. That fear of heights and physical risk? Oh yea. That reared it's head again. I think the straw that broke the horse's back was when the horse stepped on my foot. That.... hurt. I had already spent most of the lesson's crying, so.... That was a bust. I loved the idea of horseback riding. But actually doing it? Not so great. My parents weren't thrilled with that one. The boots and helmet had been expensive and now.... yea. Wasted. Sorry!

Swim lessons went ok. The water didn't scare me. I had a brief resistance to diving, but I was able to get over that one. I was also fortunate that no pool I ever frequented had a high dive, cause that would have been a total no-go. I came out of it knowing how to swim just fine. I can dive... kind of. I know the various strokes, but who in their spare time does the butterfly anyway?

Dance was the only one that had any kind of longevity. I started at 3, if I remember right. Stopped for a year at 5, then was back in at 6 or so, until we moved to Texas when I was 11. This is another one of many situations in my life where I really liked something, I was doing everything "right," but I just didn't have the right whatever to be really good. My body wasn't right, my this and that wasn't right, whatever. But it was a fun activity, and that was the end of it. I didn't pick it up again after we moved.

Oh. And there were two pathetic try-out incidents in middle school..... track and cheerleading. Both went, well, badly. I can't run to save my life and my ability to contort my body in air might be even worse.

I firmly believe that the value of sports is not in being good at them, but in enjoyment and the physical activity of it. I am the least competitive person ever. I hate competition, and so I'm not super excited about winning at sports. It's nice, but eh. You will never find me watching a sporting event by choice. I positively could not care less.

Which brings us to my children. I think Kadin inherited my non-athletic gene. And I'm sad, because my husband has the athletic gene, and he has it bad. Dear, dear, Kadin. He is so like me in so many ways.

But we started him in soccer when he was 5, I think. And he's never been a natural, but he tries(most of the time) and he enjoys it(generally). So we've carried on with it. I also really like soccer, as far as sports go. I kind of hate sports that require fifteen types of equipment and a special space to play at all and so on and so forth. Soccer's just you and a ball, and I think that's pretty great. And there's running. Running is great exercise. Back and forth, back and forth....

So Kadin's now 9, in the 4th grade. And this year, miracle of miracles, the kids are finally playing something that resembles an organized sport. There's finally technique, and defined positions, and real coaching, and an official ref, and it's amazing! Monday was the first game of the season, and Kadin definitely contributed, and his team won! Off to a great start! Their next game is tomorrow, and we're gonna hope for good things.

Do your kids play sports? Do they love it or hate it?

How about you? Did YOU play sports? Were you terrible like me?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My apologies

I've been a bad blogger. No posts at all since Friday, and that was just a picture entry. Sorry! I haven't been feeling great and we have a lot going on.

I'll be working on a school lunch post this week, taking pictures of Kadin's lunches all week and writing about it on Friday.

Tomorrow is Kadin's first soccer game of the season so I plan to make an entry on something along those lines, I'll have to figure it out as I go along.

I'm also planning on a couple of blogs including recipes that we use, maybe some old standards and a couple of new things we've tried. Tonight I made the "Taco Bell" beef and bean burritos that I found on Pinterest, and those were a big hit! (and really fast, which is awesome)

I'm also planning a post on meal planning, but the meal plans have been running on odd days of the week so I need to get that sorted out. Right now I have a plan through Wednesday, so I'm going to need to re-adjust and then I'll be able to post on it.

OK, it's 9:30 and I'm apparently old so I'm going to bed. I'm really hoping to feel better in the morning.

Friday, September 16, 2011

This moment

Trying something new.

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

So about that high fructose corn syrup thing

If we were to put this entire conversation really succinctly, I would simply say that I think that when foods are closest to their natural form, I believe they are healthier for us. I think when foods are highly processed, a lot of the nutrition and benefit is lost, and many times what is left behind is a dense version of the less desired parts.

For example, apple juice. Apples are themselves quite healthy. They contain sugars, but not an extreme amount of them. The skin itself contains roughage that is good for nutrition and digestive processes. The "packaging" is simple and the food is portable. Now, make it into juice. You concentrate the sugars. You lose the roughage and fibrous qualities. You make it difficult to transport, as you now have to employ a container. You also lose the sensation and practice of actually eating, which does not provide the same cues to our body that we have consumed calories. (FWIW, it is a rare day when my children drink juice of any kind. We don't even keep it in the house.)

So, with that example laid out, we now have high fructose corn syrup. As I mentioned in the last post on this, the corn used to make HFCS is not even the same kind of corn we would eat as corn on the cob or stewed corn. It is corn that has been genetically engineered to be higher in sugar. (We could go into a rant on genetically modified foods as well, but I'll spare you this time around.) So not only would you lose 'good' corn parts in the process of making HFCS, this variety of corn had less to begin with.

There has been some mixed opinion on whether or not HFCS is more unhealthy than regular sugar. To me, the answer is simple, yes, because it is further from it's original source. But I know that we all need more proof than that, and that's fine. Science, thankfully, supports my opinion on this one. In 2010, a study was completed at Princeton that compared the health and weight gain of rats when they were fed diets either high in HFCS or standard sugar. The rats who were consuming HFCS gained more weight than the other rats, especially in the abdominal area.

In 2009, a study found that almost half the tested samples of HFCS contained mercury, and mercury was also found in almost 1/3 of the brands tested for it(which also contained HFCS). Mercury is not something that I want to add to my, or my children's, diets unnecessarily. Because I feel that some foods which contain mercury(like some kinds of fish) hold significant benefits of their own, I make a choice to consume and feed my children controlled amounts of these fish, in order to reap the other benefits, but not to overdo it with the mercury levels in mind. I would not expect or account for there being mercury in, say, our breakfast cereal. (For anyone who might need a quick refresher, mercury is dangerous for any number of reasons. It is actually a toxic substance, and it can affect your central nervous system, lead to brain injuries, damage your kidneys, and so on. It is especially toxic in children, who are more sensitive to small levels of it in their bodies.)

Additionally, the presence of HFCS often is a marker of a poor quality food item. HFCS is less expensive than sugar for manufacturers(thank you government corn subsidies!). It is also in some cases easier to cook with because it is more readily absorbed by the food. It is pretty simple to walk through a grocery store and compare what food items and brands contain HFCS and which do not, though in some stores it may be hard to find some products without HFCS(I recently I had to figure out how to make barbecue sauce when one grocery store close to me did not have a single variety of it without HFCS). Products with little or poor taste are often 'enhanced' with HFCS because it is far less expensive than adding nutritive herbs or spices. It is also a taste that is familiar and appealing to the palate of Americans(and people of many other countries, though the US is by far the worst offender on this one).

All of the above reasons are why HFCS should be avoided by people in general. For the sake of my entire family, I was avoiding most HFCS. But recently I decided to avoid all of it, 100%, because of Ansel. As I mentioned, Ansel is a "spirited" child. He's always been loud, super active, off the walls, prone to lack of restraint, and a real handful. I had heard for years some people mention that their children's behavior improved when they eliminated HFCS and food dyes. Let me say, I do not believe that this "cures" anything. I do not believe diet cures autism. I do not think diet cures ADHD. I do think that it can help some people. That is all. And I also think there is little to no harm in doing this with a child that is not already on a restricted diet and who is not a picky eater and is easily able and willing to consume a balanced diet, as, fortunately, both my children are.

So. I wish I could link you to some amazing study here, but to my knowledge there isn't one. I don't know that this is scientific fact. I know I have read plenty of anecdotal tales of how this worked for someone's child. I know there's hardcore activists saying this is the end all be all of childhood cures for anything that ails you. I know that if you Google it(as I have) you'll find all kinds of blogs that address this. But studies? I don't know of any studies. There might well not be any studies.

But what I do know is that Ansel has calmed down, a lot. I know that he is much faster to respond to directions and corrections. I know that he will more readily recognize his own fault in situations. I know that he is quieter, kinder, and less destructive. I know that after a couple of weeks of a total elimination of HFCS and food dyes, he and I were in a situation that forced us to wait in a VERY long line(about 5 1/2 hours) unexpectedly. I did not bring activities for him. I didn't bring a lot of snacks for him. He only got to go to the bathroom once(fortunately, he only asked that one time). And by the end of that awful day, I had two strangers compliment me on how well behaved my son was. And that has never happened. Ever. And that weekend, we were at a party with friends that have known us for quite a while, and they all commented on how different Ansel's behavior was, and were very impressed. And I am still very impressed.

I have allowed him one 'cheat' occasion, the ice cream truck, which very rarely come down our street They of course didn't have any "safe" options. Also, at the above mentioned party, I brought snacks and treats for him that were ok. I picked up a cupcake from a bakery that doesn't use HFCS or food dyes, and we brought that with us so he could eat it when the other kids had cake. He's also hooked on the same seltzer I drink so I brought that in lieu of fruit punch and soda, and that worked out just fine.

Has anyone else eliminated HFCS from their or their kids' diets? Did you find any foods that were especially difficult to obtain without HFCS? Are there some things you simply cut out of your shopping because you couldn't find alternatives?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Nature fun time at the lake

I didn't update yesterday..... I will now hang my head in shame. I was doing SO WELL! Hmph. I guess that's ok anyway.

I had been planning on my next post being more information on HFCS, but that can be either tomorrow or later today. We had an impromptu trip to the lake on Sunday, so I decided I'd post on that first.

This summer we realized our county has a park with a lake for swimming, boating, and camping. We've been in this area for two years now and it took me this long to figure it out. In my defense, our county's website leaves much to be desired and the parks and recreation information is even less available, despite our county's parks being thus far quite impressive. So. Once I figured it out, we went and checked it out.
It's great! The park is quite large, with several different areas designated for boating and swimming. The swimming beach has not been busy any of the times we have visited. The busiest time had about two other groups of people there. This time, when we arrived, there was only one sunbather actually on the beach. It's really nice! The water is as clean as one could expect from a lake. They have obviously trucked in sand, which is fine with me. The water is pretty shallow in this area, though if you go far enough out it's hard to say how deep it might be. The only time I tried that was when we had another adult along with us(I guess I just don't trust my swimming skills that much!).
On this particular day, I had intended to stay in and clean the house. But the weather ended up being amazing, it WAS a weekend, and being almost mid-September, it's impossible to know how long this weather will hold up. So upon the advice of two friends, I let the responsibility wait and we went and had fun. I packed a lunch, and only took the necessary swimming items to minimize effort necessary, and off we went! Another great thing is that the drive out there is through a rural part of the county which is pleasant, and then admission is $3 per vehicle, so that's simple enough. We turned on some jams in the car, and off we went!
The kids had a great time, as always. They didn't want to leave, even after staying for a couple of hours, but that's par for the course anytime we do something fun. It also sufficiently wore them out so they were much more laid back for the rest of the day. It's a win-win for everyone!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Corn sugar? Really?

High fructose corn syrup. HFCS. And apparently, corn sugar. Sugar derived from corn. Really, really highly processed corn. Corn that isn't even something you'd want to eat in its natural state. It's corn specifically designed for making "sugar."

And, well, I have my suspicions that it's not especially good for you. I know, I know, everything in moderation. And I agree with that. Except, when the thing you're talking about is an ingredient in just about everything, it's pretty hard to be "moderate." I think most people have no idea how much HFCS they're actually consuming. I know I didn't. Even once I became aware of these things and started checking labels, there were a whole lot of products I didn't check because, why would I? Why would they have HFCS? Like, Italian salad dressing. I mean, come on, it's not sweet. But sure enough, it was there. (Same with ranch, and thousand island, and I'm sure plenty of others) Oatmeal. Something you'd think is healthy enough, but the instant kind had HFCS. Great!

So over years I've been cutting these things out. And it's been good. But over the summer I decided to make a serious push and cut all of the high fructose corn syrup out of our diet, for our overall health, but also in an attempt to see if it improved Ansel's behavior. Ansel has always been a... spirited child. He is loud, and active, and opinionated, and lacks self control. Sometimes I can see that he wants so badly to be restrained, but he just can't seem to do it. So in order to give him every chance I can, the HFCS had to go. (I'll touch more on this tomorrow.)

What have I learned? I need to make all my own desserts. And salad dressings. I need to do a lot more shopping at the natural food store. And to check labels! Once I was on "allergen" alert and militantly checking every.single.label I realized just how many bizarre things are in foods you would expect to be pretty to the point.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fresh mountain spring water!

Or.... Water from the tap. Yea. Let's go with that.

I am on a mission. My mission is to drink at least two liters of water every day. I am not counting non-water beverages in my daily intake, so in addition to this water I am drinking about two cups of coffee in the morning, one to two cans of seltzer, and occasionally a glass of iced chai.

Why am I doing this? Well, hard to say. For one thing, everyone says you're supposed to drink water. I'm trying to get my weight loss back on track. I'm trying to increase my weekly exercise. I'm trying to get more restful sleep. I'm trying to avoid EVER having a UTI again(cause those things, man, not fun). I'm trying to avoid eating because I'm actually thirsty and just not reading my own cues right.

But really when it comes down to it, why not? What do I have to lose? Unless I get to the point of dealing with water poisoning(which is such a farfetched possibility it's not even on the radar) I have nothing to lose by doing this, I only stand to gain.

So for now, I'm keeping this handy pitcher in the fridge and filling it up at night prior to going to bed so it's full and cold for me to get started in the morning.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Exercise by deception

I'm very fond of tricking children into exercising. I'm even more fond of putting small children on the treadmill and forcing them to run until their little legs give out, but the children only let me do that to them once. So.... I have to get creative. I also admit, I felt a little bit guilty when I realized that I stocked up on water balloons after the summer sale two years ago. And.... I had yet to ever use any of them. So there's no time like the present, right!
So this afternoon, I filled up 250 water balloons. I probably popped about 20 of them in the process, but that's just the way it goes. So we now have 210 water broken water balloons scattered in our backyard. Who needs gardening when you can add "a splash of color" with latex balloons!

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Now realizing just how long it has been since I actively posted, I realize that I left you with my older son, Kadin, being a vegetarian. Well, that didn't last. We had a single incident where we went to Outback(as a whole family plus a friend), and upon being presented with shrimp, ribs, AND steak, he folded. And then it all went from there.

He seemed to be pretty ok with that. I had grown increasingly frustrated with his demands. He wanted non-meat items, fine, but then he got particular about WHAT non-meat items. And I was not at all ok with simply replacing meat with fake meat products. I don't think that's healthy, nor is sustainable long-term. So now, Kadin is in 4th grade and is an omnivore again.

He does, occasionally, ask about being a vegetarian again. He tells me he likes animals, and he doesn't want to eat them. But at the same time, he sometimes asks me if we can have steak for dinner, or can we make shrimp, and so on. Admittedly, I don't want to go back to it. It got old fast. It was a lot of extra work for me, and it got tedious explaining it to people all the time. My in-laws thought it was awful, my parents thought it was crazy, and can you blame them? My husband and I both come from meat loving families, and Kadin has always LOVED meat!

I guess we'll see what happens. Only time will tell. The question I have to ponder now is one that Kadin posed, "So.... when can I be a vegetarian again?" Hmmm....

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I'm a Georgia peach!

Really, I am. I heard this my entire life. I was born in Georgia, but never lived here until two years ago when my family moved here for my husband's job. I was born in Georgia, but I'm adopted and my adoptive parents did not live in Georgia. So, I only spent a couple of weeks and was whisked away! But for my entire childhood, family and family friends would remind me that I was a Georgia peach.

Here in Georgia, there are plenty of peaches to be found, especially at this time of year. Last summer, it took me a while to figure out where to get actual Georgia peaches. Most of the grocery stores sold peaches from other parts of the country(very strange, I know). But now that I am familiar with our farmer's market and a really cool produce stand that's open pretty regularly, I can get real, local, Georgia peaches for a pretty good deal!

This past week I picked up a small basket of peaches from that stand. Some of them were huge! It was amazing. And we did eat a few, but I soon found myself with four large, ripe peaches that needed to be used somehow or they were going to rot and then I'd feel guilty.

If you follow me on Pinterest, you may have seen me Pin a peach bar recipe the other day. I used that recipe and tweaked a couple of things. What I found, though, is that this is less of a "bar" and more of a "crumble." There is some firm texture to it, but unless you're eating this cold, out of the fridge, it's not that solid. It's very much like a cobbler, but not as wet. Therefore, it's a crumble.

This is apparently adapted way way back from an All Recipes recipe, so I'll notate that.

Peach Crumble

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
1 egg
4 cups(about 4 large) peaches, peeled and sliced
4 teaspoons cornstarch

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan.

Slice and peel the peaches if you didn't already.

Then, in a medium bowl, combine the flours, 1 cup of the sugar, baking powder, ginger, and salt. Add the lemon juice and butter and toss with the flour mixture. Use a fork to blend the butter until the size of peas. Whisk the egg and stir into the crumb mixture. Dough will be crumbly.

Press half the dough into the greased baking pan.

In another bowl, stir together the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and cornstarch. Add the sliced peaches and gently mix.

Spoon the peaches over the crust.

Crumble the remaining dough over the peach mixture. I also gently pressed down to try and form more of a 'bar.' I don't know how much of a difference that actually made.

Bake for 45-55 minutes, until slightly brown. Cool before cutting. Store in the fridge.

I'm a fan. Though in the future I might stick with cobbler cause it's less work(and less mess) for pretty much the same result.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What's in my freezer?

Here's your second opportunity to snoop in my kitchen, the freezer!

Because we use so many whole items, I end up freezing a lot because the lack of preservatives gives things a short shelf life. I'm pretty ok with that. I also try to avoid canned products, so I freeze more than I otherwise might.

Here it is! Again, not a very exciting appliance, but it gets the job done! There is much less of a system in my freezer than in my refrigerator. I work on that sometimes, but nothing seems to stick because the contents vary so much.

Top shelf: In the back is a meal-sized serving of green beans and red potatoes, on the other side is a meal-size serving of taco soup, a single size serving of coconut chicken with rice, in the front is chili on the left, and on the right are two two-cup containers of chicken stock.

The top shelf here is basically my "breakfast" section. When I make breakfast items, I try to make extra to freeze. So we have french toast, waffles, pancakes, cooked sausage and bacon, and parathas(not cooked, these are a dough you fry to make a breakfast bread). Oh! And bagels from Panera.

Below that is a whole bunch of naan that I bought already made. I'm working on getting back to making everything from scratch, but I decided to cheat on naan. Then sausage patties, half a bag of wheat flour, and behind that is about half a carton of three-chocolate organic ice cream.

Next shelf is another scattered one. The two big containers in front hold spaghetti sauce and pinto bean soup. Behind that is several packages of fish from Trader Joe's, next to that is a container of macaroni and cheese, and the butcher paper is a half pound of shrimp.

The bottom is the bagged produce. There's broccoli, spinach, peas, mixed vegetables, blueberries, strawberries, and mixed berries.

The doors! Three pounds of butter, fruit juice popsicles, ice packs, and frozen basil.

Then finally.... One chicken breast(raw), two chicken sausages, paneer, deli ham, and then below that is nothin' but nuts. Walnuts, pecans, almonds, sunflower seeds, and so on. To keep these fresh for baking, I freeze it all. Works out great!

Maybe once I get the pantry in working order(which it is NOT right now, lemme tell ya) I can show you that. Then there would be a complete picture of the food we actually keep in our house. Exciting!

Monday, September 5, 2011

What's inside my fridge?

Holy cow! Has it been almost a year?? A year?? I thought surely it had only been a few months. I guess that goes to show what a blur this last chunk of time has been. I perceived 10 months of time as about 5 months. Oops!

But I want to get back into the swing of blogging. So I'm coming back with a 'what's in my fridge?' post. I love seeing these when other people do them. I don't know why. Maybe it's some hidden voyeuristic tendency, but I find it absolutely fascinating. Some magazines have featured celebrity fridge tours, or chef fridge tours, but I find the everyday people way more interesting.

In the past six months or so I've made a big shift toward simplicity. I've made some changes to my home and to my cooking and to my life in general to simplify. I find it aesthetically and mentally pleasing. I'm guessing my fridge will reflect that, and I'm also guessing that what other people perceive as a bare fridge is what I see as sufficient. Because we eat very little processed food, we tend to just have a lot of whole ingredients and those come together into meals. We have very few 'grab and go' food items, even for the kids. If the kids want to grab something quickly, we have plenty of fresh fruit in the pantry.

Ok, here goes!

And here it is! No fancy fridge here. Just a boring, basic white side-by-side. I will say that I do much prefer side-by-sides to the over-under variety. Additionally, this is our fridge about mid-week. I grocery shop once a week, and this is about four days after I did that.

Top shelves... Eggs, of course. Though from the store, not our chickens. With the crazy heat we've been having, they haven't been laying a whole lot, so I've been buying eggs. Gasp! Yogurt(two kinds, blueberry and plain). Sour cream, veggie dip, and behind that a big ol' container of yeast.

Next row down, a pound of bacon, sliced Havarti, deli chicken breast, and a hunk of cheddar cheese(chosen by Ansel).

Next row down..... A package of frozen strawberries from Trader Joe's that are thawing for later use in crepes, overripe bananas waiting to be made into banana bread, a carton of chai, and half-and-half.

Bottom shelf.... This is where I would usually have the giant container of bread dough, but we're in between batches at the moment. A bottle of chilled wine and a bottle of chilled lemonade for guests.

The crisper drawers! These used to be packed to the gills every week, but I've re-worked how we store some items and now the contents are actually accessible. Local tomatoes, local cherry tomatoes, a container of 50/50 mix lettuce and spinach, a head of green leaf lettuce, and a giant stalk of celery. Oh! And what's left of the bag of baby carrots.

Below that, red potatoes, jalapenos(local), onions(local), and half a red onion.

And then the doors.... I so wish we didn't have to hang onto so many things. It makes me kind of twitchy to look at it. But with condiments and sauces, you're sort of stuck. I've pared down as much as I can, but I really do need these things.

Top shelf, pepperoncini, pimientos, red curry paste, peanut butter, garlic paste, ginger paste, and apparently four kinds of jelly!

Below that, the butter. Yum! Three sticks of salted butter, a spreadable butter blend, and cream cheese.

Then, minced garlic(just can't bring myself to mincing my own), dijon mustard, deli mustard, yellow mustard, parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, and ketchup.

And finally, two kinds of milk. Normally we would have two gallons of the kind on the left, which is local non-homogenized milk, but we went through one gallon of that really quickly and rather than drive way out of my way to get an additional gallon, I just picked up an easy to come by organic milk.

Next row, pickles, chocolate sauce, worcestershire sauce, salsa, fish sauce, hoisin sauce, and salad dressing.

And the bottom.... bottled water, seltzer(my newest obsession, no sodium, no sweeteners, yay!), and lemon juice.

Tomorrow..... What's in my freezer?!