Saturday, June 30, 2012


Into another world for the weekend.....

Friday, June 29, 2012

Another Camp Recipe

Damp and dirty from a day outside in 96F weather and clutching a bag of trinkets from the camp trading post, Sis came home brimming with excitement about vanilla ice cream:

Camp Vanilla Ice Cream
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
6 cups half and half
2 cups whipping cream

She got to add the vanilla extract!

Sounds like enough for the entire camp!

Right Now

Outdoor camp is over for Bud, aka Camper of the Week, "for being well-behaved! "

What a Mess!

With leftover ingredients from Mama's birthday Pavlova, I made the famed British dessert, Eton Mess.  It's true that it's not attractive, but it tastes delicious (I actually first connected the two dishes here).

Eton Mess
whipping cream
meringue cookies

Wash, hull, and slice the strawberries and macerate them with some sugar.  Whip the cream until soft peeks form.  Crumble in meringue cookies (I used one 4-5" Pavlova cookie, but you can use store-bought cookies).  Fold in strawberries.  Serve immediately.

inspired by Nigella Lawson

Thank You, Haters

One of my favorite blogs, by Toni Bernhard, was hit by a troll this week.   No need to air the troll's absurdities.  I just want to dedicate this wonderful video by Isabel Fay and Clever Pie to that troll and others out there:

Camp Swapportunities

Sis had a big day at camp yesterday.  She tie-dyed a t-shirt.  She made whimsy bread and s'mores.  And she continued working on her pieces of Gimp.  Then she came home and made more "I love S'mores" swaps for today's camp activity.


She came home clutching a wet blue and pink t-shirt, which she had twisted herself (though they didn't let her color it, which seems odd), but she was more excited about the cooking they'd done.  She proudly relayed to me the recipe for Whimsy Bread, having memorized it so we could make it again (she'd shaped some before but without mixing it together.)  "Four cups flour, two cups water, one tablespoon sugar, one tablespoon yeast."  She even knew that it baked 40 minutes. That is, after you sprinkled your shape--hers was a bunny, of course--with cinnamon and sugar.  She's thrilled that they'll make dump cake next week.  "It looks awful, but it tastes good."

And the Gimp, which is multi-colored, braided plastic often used for lanyards and keychains, is now a family favorite--she's taught Bud and both have shown me.  I never made it at camp but have seen it plenty of times.  Babysitter last night remembered it from her camp days and was thrilled to get to make some with the kiddos.  They know the box and the barrel stitches but want to learn something called "Super Gimp" (see this site for instructions for different stitches.)

I wonder what delights she'll do today--in the 96F heat!


Whimsy Bread
4 cups flour
2 cups water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon yeast
cinnamon and sugar

Mix flour, water, sugar, and yeast, stirring until it forms dough.  Divide and create whimsical shapes.  Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar.  Bake for 40 minutes (I'm guessing it was 350F or so).

Girl Scout camp

Thursday, June 28, 2012

New Blooms

A few new buds are opening up while others, like the lobelia and lantana, are past prime.

Another One Bites the Dust

First Mothering, now the magazine Brain, Child has folded.  I missed the announcement conveyed via Motherlode earlier and only learned about it with my last issue today.  I'm sad.  I liked that the magazine, like Mothering, treated moms as intelligent, thoughtful, curious women and not as competitive consumers of trends and information (I'm looking at you, Parents and Parenting) or as bubbly, fun, full-time camp counselors (FamilyFun and Kiwi).  I'm glad I got through the baby years with the magazine on my nightstand. . . and have my back issues.  Still, the world of parenting got a little bit narrower today.


Oh, ugh.  I was just outside, taking out recycling, putting some donations in my trunk for later, preparing for a visit from a grad school friend who's been researching at the Beinecke (miss it, Mommy Goose?).  When I got back inside, I felt something crawling on my stomach . . . a beetle had decided the shade in my shirt was better than the rising temperatures.  I'm not such a good vegetarian or Buddhist that I didn't squish him like a . . . well, you know.

A Happy, Healthier, More Hopeful Day!

The Supreme Court upholds the healthcare law!

Fun and Games at Camp

The kiddos are loving their first week of camp:  wacky dress-up, hiking, tie-dye, fishing, row-boating, rock painting, swimming, campfire cooking, and playing games.  They spent last night telling us all about the various yard games they were playing, many of them unfamiliar to me:

  • 1 to 20--There's singing "one and twenty, two and twenty, three and twenty, four five six and twenty, twenty seven, twenty eight, twenty nine, thirty . . . " and some kind of movement (some of these games don't have clear rules or goals!)
  • What Time is it, Mr. Fox?-- Kids line up opposite Mr. Fox.  He calls out times.  If it's 1 o'clock, take one step, 2 o'clock, two steps. When he calls "midnight" or "dinner time"--run to the opposite side without being tagged.
  • Avalanche and Tsunami--You have five seconds to find a place when "it" calls avalanche or tsunami.  For avalanche, hide behind an object; for tsunami, get as high up as you can.  They weren't clear on the goal of the game.
Bud's camp is only a week and he's already sorry to go, asking if he can stay all summer.  Sis will feel the same way about her camp next week, for sure.  But then they'll have each other, after three full weeks of being separated, a very first for them.  It'll be interesting to see how it all goes.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My Kind of Weather

Hi:  72F
Lo:  56F
Humidity:  51%
Partly sunny with light winds, 7-10 mph

A jacket in the morning, sun in the afternoon, and a beautiful glowing-pinkish-golden-clouds-on-darkening-blue-background sunset to boot!

Summer Fun: Off-List Activity

We've done a few things on our summer fun list, but we've also done something I never dreamed of:  made up new languages!  Both Sis and Bud have been working on their own languages, translating our family's most common phrases.  Mama and I are finding as much humor in the common phrases as the translations (which are internally coherent, with repeated words the same):

Will you play with me?
What's for dinner?
S/he touched me!
Can I have candy?
Can I have a cuddle?
I feel full.
May I be excused?
Who is the cat-food kid tonight?
I want to help with laundry.
Can I go to Neighbor Boy's house?
Does this have beans in it?
Can I have a bookmark?
I'm brushing first!
I love you.

Happy Birthday!

To Mama Hungry . . . . please leave her some birthday wishes in the comments!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Two Snacks in One

Chips.  Cookies.


Yep, Potato Chip Cookies, in this case, with extra chips--chocolate ones.

The kids can't figure out the secret ingredient and Mama said she wouldn't have guessed it either.  Potato chips add a unique crunch because the texture doesn't break down in the baking and a pleasing saltiness.  I used the chocolate chips, inspired by the Kitchen Ninja, instead of the pecans suggested by the recipe in Cook's Country.

I don't know if I'll make them again but, as a curiosity, they were pleasing and will go well in camp lunches.


Potato Chip Cookies
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup reduced-fat potato chips, crushed fine
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened but still cool, cut into pieces
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a bowl, combine flour, potato chips, chocolate chips, and salt.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars for about 3 minutes until pale and fluffy.  Then add egg yolk and vanilla, beating until combined.  Reduce to low speed and gradually add flour mixture in three parts.  Roll into 1" balls and space 3" apart.  The flatten with flour-dipped glass to a thickness of 1/4".  

Bake 10-12 minutes, one sheet at a time, rotating pan halfway through.  Allow to cool on baking sheet for 15 minutes.  

Makes 2 dozens cookies that last 2 days in an airtight container.

Cook's Country

Right Now

First day of camp was great...and not too wet.

Right Now

Actually a bit ago....huge storm right at camp drop-off.  Kids were wet but happy.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Summer Fun: Check

We're making progress on our to-do list, just four days into summer (though we skipped 55. Celebrate Solstice and it will probably slow down a bit during camp)!

10.  Learn a new song on the keyboard.  Bud has learned a few from Sound of Music ("My Favorite Things" and "Do Re Mi") and "Simple Gifts," to go along with his first song, "Silent Night."

17.  Make paper airplanes.  Mama brought home a special paper airplane kit (you know, from the sale section of the bookstore), complete with book and paper.  The kids have made all sorts of fancy airplanes that actually fly quite a distance, over and over again.

26.  Try a new ice cream parlor.  It's new and new-to-us, with a tasty Maine Black Bear (raspberry swirl with chocolate chunks), Chocolate Rain Forest Chrunch (the description varied from the actual, which had caramel, not coconut, with the chocolate and cashews), and the usual strawberry and chocolate.  Yum!  Mama Teacher, it's Maine's own Gifford's ice cream!

39.  Go to local festivals.  Today, we went to the CT Irish Festival, with lots of step dancers competing in a Feis, as well as a tea house with scones, a special Irish breakfast of black and white puddings, bacon rasher, sausage, brown bread, and eggs, and corned beef sandwiches later on.  There were musicians--we heard the Mickey Finns and had wanted to see the Screaming Orphans but got too hot.  And CT's own Sugar Bakery Cupcake Truck that won on "Cupcake Wars."  We  especially liked the "Luck of the Irish" with Guinness cake and Irish Cream frosting and also the chocolate-covered cherry.  But the best part was watching the sheepdog demonstration with a Border Collie and a bunch of Border Leicester sheep (is that why they are border collies?  Nope, Wiki says it's because they were from near the Scottish border)--especially because the kids just saw Babe for the first time last weekend.  "That'll do, pig!"

41.  Make popsicles.  So far, mango and pear, separately, both from nectar.  In our new star-shaped molds (BPA-free).

48.  Go to the library.  We returned some books and picked up The Hobbit, which unfortunately turned out to be too much of a bug-bear to read aloud.  Just didn't flow trippingly off the tongue, even if I think the story is probably just fine for them.  They're both reading biographies and picked up Who Was Anne Frank?, which I had them put back.  Too young for that, I think.  But they made me explain why and what happened to her and who were the Nazis and why didn't they like Jews and how did she get food in the attic and who helped her and how could she still think people were basically good after hiding in an attic?  Might have been more clear just to let them read it.

56.  Celebrate Mama's birthday.  We did this yesterday, with presents--a Tibetan singing bowl and a new LOTR Lego (that's Lord of the Rings, a new series for them)--and a special dessert, a fruity Pavlova, which the kids enjoyed with sundae toppings and Mama and I ate with whipped cream and macerated strawberries.  

Individual Pavlovas
4 egg whites, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup sugar

1 cup heavy cream, chilled
1/2 cup sour cream, chillled
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat to 200F.

Using mixer with whisk, whip egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute.  Then increase speed and whip on medium-high until stiff peaks form, another minute or two.  Gradually add 1 cup sugar.

Scoop six 1/2-cup mounds of meringue onto parchment-covered baking sheet approximately 1 inch apart.  Make indention in mound with back of spoon.   Bake for 1 1/2 hours until meringues are dry and firm, then turn off the oven and leave them there to cool for another 2 hours, until they are completely dry and hard.  Serve or store at room temperature for up to two weeks.

Beat topping ingredients and spoon into meringues, serving with macerated fruit (or, the kids liked ice cream toppings!)

America's Test Kitchen Best Summer Recipes

Summer Fun: Camp Time

Lunches packed in disposable bags.
Extra water and a plastic cup.
Sunscreen and bug repellent.
Rain gear.
Extra clothes.
Money for the trading post.
Everything labeled in Sharpie marker, sometimes on masking tape.

Yep, it's camp time again.  Outdoor camp for both of them this year, which means games, swimming, arts and crafts, campfires, singing, hiking, and who knows what else.  Plus the very exciting bus rides. We made a last-minute store run for a few items that we needed duplicates of (namely sunscreen and bug spray) and a few lunch items (they are usually thermos kids--mac and cheese or soup--so disposable, non-heatable lunch is relatively new to them.)  They are both excited, also perhaps a little nervous, and not at all ready to sleep.

Too bad it's 90% chance of thunderstorms and hail!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Right Now

Amazing thunder and lightning, dropping temperature 20 degrees to 71F!

Right Now

Here comes the thunder!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Right Now

90F at 10 a.m.

Popsicles for breakfast.  Ice cream for lunch.  Lots of water.

Happy Birthday, Mama Teacher!

I hope you have a wonderful day and year!

And to start that out, here's the recipe of the goodies I made for you:

Naptime Chef's Glazed Lemon Coconut Squares

4 oz (original recipe says 1 stick, which is 8 oz; I made it with 6 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more as needed for the pan 
11/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted and divided, plus more as needed for the pan 
11/2 cups packed light brown sugar, divided 
2 large eggs, lightly beaten 
11/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (I might use lemon extract or even better 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 2 teaspoons lemon zest next time to up the lemon power)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled 
1 cup confectioners' sugar 
Juice of 1 medium lemon (or 3 tablespoons lemon juice)

1. Preheat the oven to 275ºF. Butter and flour a 13 x 9-inch baking dish and set aside. 
2. To make the bars: In a mixing bowl, combine the butter, 11/2 cups flour, and 1/2 cup brown sugar and work together with your hands until a crumble begins to form. Press the dough into the bottom of the prepared baking pan and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned. 
3. While the crust is baking, make the filling: In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, remaining 1 cup brown sugar, coconut, the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour, baking soda, vanilla, and salt. Using a wooden spoon, stir the ingredients until everything is combined. 
4. When the crust has finished baking, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 350ºF. 
5. Spread the coconut filling evenly over the cooled crust. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, or until the coconut is golden brown and the top is set. 
6. While the coconut filling is baking, make the glaze: In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the melted butter, confectioners' sugar, and lemon juice until completely smooth. 
7. When the bars have finished baking, remove them from the oven and drizzle the top evenly with the glaze while the bars are still warm. The glaze will sink into the squares and seem to disappear from sight. This is exactly what you want! 
8. Allow the bars to cool in the pan uncovered for 1 hour, then cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 2 hours, until they are set. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve. 
Make-Ahead Tips: These are ideal to make at least a few hours before you want to serve them since they need time to cool and set. Once ready they travel very well and will stay fresh for several days in a sealed container in the refrigerator. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

To Be a Cat

Food Poisoning

Sis has had an odd five days, with unpredictable cycles of feeling fine and then feeling very poorly.  After a long bout of it last night, we called the pediatrician and then went in this afternoon (though she hadn't felt ill since last night and had a fun, full day of school--it really comes and goes).  The doctor thinks Sis picked up some food-borne illness, very mild, that has wreaked some havoc, the remains of which she's dealing with now.  So she's on the BRAT diet (though, the ped interprets the "T" as toasted baguette, not sliced bread, much to Sis's extreme delight--though, it's way too hot to bake a loaf of French bread today!  The ped would also mix the cooked rice soup with the banana for a smoothie.  Sis will not go for that.).  And looks fine.  We'll be making Maple-Apple Cider Sorbet tomorrow, a treat in the heat.

BTW:  it wasn't our homecooking!  (Because there was very little this weekend.)  She had Friday dinner at the ballpark, Saturday brunch at Whole Foods, Saturday snack at a birthday party, Saturday dinner frozen pot pie, Sunday lunch at a church picnic!  Breakfasts were toast.)

Maple-Apple Cider Sorbet
3 cups fresh apple cider (or apple juice)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
juice of 1 lemon

Bring cider to a simmer.  Add sugar and syrup and dissolve.  Refrigerate overnight.

Add lemon juice and freeze in ice cream machine according to directions.  It will be soft but ready to eat or it can be frozen for 2 hours for a firmer treat.

(Option:  Instead of maple syrup, use 1 1/2 cups sugar and add 1 teaspoon orange zest and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon with the sugar for Spiced Cider Sorbet.)

Bruce Weinstein, The Ultimate Ice Cream Book

Mmm Mmm Good!

My new favorite smoothie actually comes from Panera Bread:  the low-fat Black Cherry smoothie, which has ice, Stonyfield low-fat vanilla yogurt, and . . . a secret relatively liquid mixture of cherry and other flavors.  I've read that it has marionberry in it!  I thought I tasted orange.  But the second time I thought it could be cranberry juice.  I'm going to experiment to see if I can recreate it (starting here, with 1/4 cup cranberry juice, 1 cup cherries, 1/3 cup yogurt).  And, even if I can't, that's a fun activity.

Summer Fun: There Are Not 104 Days of Summer Vacation

And my kids are kinda upset . . .because they only get 70!

So, we're making our "Phineas and Ferb"-inspired list of things to do, starting tomorrow (in no particular order and, of course, with full knowledge that we won't get to all of them):
  1. Fly a kite.
  2. Campout overnight downstairs.
  3. Have a pj read-a-thon.
  4. Draw and play hopscotch in the driveway.
  5. Long midday bubble bath.
  6. Make ice cream in a roly ball.
  7. Draw with chalk inside and/or outside.
  8. Paint.
  9. Fondue party.
  10. Learn a new song on the keyboard.
  11. Build Legos--Friends or Ninjago world.
  12. A night 'round the firepit singing and making s'mores.
  13. Play with one of our science kits.
  14. Make friendship bracelets.
  15. Work on woven placemats on loom.
  16. Make paper beads.
  17. Make paper airplanes.
  18. Game-playing marathon.
  19. Play putt-putt golf.
  20. Go to a zoo.
  21. Sleepover with Ma and Gong, and Gommie and Pop.
  22. Go to the arcade.
  23. Go horseback riding.
  24. Go to an art museum.
  25. Go to a science or natural history museum.
  26. Try a new ice cream parlor.
  27. Go strawberry picking.
  28. Go blueberry picking.
  29. Make jam.
  30. Go to the beach.
  31. Build sandcastles.
  32. Go swimming.
  33. Make our own bubble solution.
  34. Make a bundt cake.
  35. Write to a pen pal.
  36. Playdates with friends.
  37. Tie dye.
  38. Have a movie marathon (Star Wars?  Miyazaki? Harry Potter?  Disney?)
  39. Go to local festivals.
  40. Go see a movie in a theater.
  41. Make popsicles.
  42. Have an astronomy night.
  43. Go birdwatching.
  44. Have a lemonade stand.
  45. Sort through books to give some away.
  46. Do community service projects.
  47. Go letterboxing.
  48. Go to the library.
  49. Build fairy houses.
  50. Scrapbook.  
  51. Go on a sketching outing.
  52. Do a Star Wars craft.
  53. Make something with Sculpey.
  54. Celebrate July 4th.
  55. Celebrate Solstice.
  56. Celebrate Mama's birthday.
  57. Make our own crayons.
  58. Make ice cube candles.
  59. Watch the Olympmics
  60. Host a culture night for England, Japan, India, Egypt, Thailand, Navajo, Ethiopia, Carpatho-Russians.
  61. Make fudge.
  62. Make sun prints.
  63. Go to concert in the park.
  64. Have a picnic at a new park.
  65. Visit an historic house or living history museum.
  66. Make a dance CD for a family dance party!
  67. Try new grilling recipe.
  68. Practice meditation together.
  69. Watch a new musical.
  70. Hang pictures.

School's Out!

They're second graders now!  Let summer fun begin....

Readying for the Heat

It's the last day of school!  And it's gonna be a scorcher.  The kids are off in shorts with full bottles of water. I have ice cream all ready for after school.  I just watered the plants, prophylactically, in hopes that at least some of them make it through now three hot days relatively unscathed (our New England plants can't handle the heat like Texas's).  We've got the shades drawn--our house gets so much light, a blessing and also a problem (not quite a curse) on days like today.  And I'll keep inching up the AC--ours can only keep the house about 10 degrees cooler than the outside (I've tried to have professionals tell me why y'all's ACs can get houses 68F when it's 100F and they just murmur something about your industrial units).  Which means it could get to 85-90F INSIDE today.  Which means if it gets too unbearable, we'll go to one of the big box stores--with those industrial ACs. We'll be fine; it's even kinda fun for a day or two.  But I'll be glad when it's 75F again next week!

(I really should figure out how to make a degree sign in Blogger.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Color Blue

We planted hydrangeas yesterday, one bluish-violet (hard to see much of the purple in this picture) and one pink.  Pretty soon, because of the acidity of our soil, they'll turn all blue, just like almost all the other hydrangeas in town (I understand they are the only flower that changes color like that as a direct effect of the soil).  And later still, they'll send their brown tumbleweeds blowing across our yard, like all the neighbors' hydrangeas do.

Let the AC Begin

This morning I wore a jacket . . . the breeze was moist and slightly, very slightly, chilled, or at least it felt that way to me in the cloudiness.

Tonight, the moisture continues as the hottest day of the year arrives tomorrow right on the last day of school, day before the first day of summer (and Mama Teacher's birthday!).  It's going to be 95F ish on the coast, more than 100F in Hartford.  Not exactly New England temperatures.

But then, very New England (Though, everywhere has that saying about "don't like the weather?  just wait and it will change."  Everywhere.), it's going to be only in the mid-70s next week.

Until then, we'll have our AC on, with plans of ice cream for dinner tomorrow.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Smoothie Operator

As you've no doubt noticed, I've become a bit obsessed with smoothies and my new Ninja blender, trying new combos practically everyday--just in time for summer!  Here are my attempts thus far, which I'll update periodically, as necessary.

Make Your Own Smoothie
1 1/2-2 cups frozen fruit (or mix of fresh and frozen, with ice cubes for thickness)
1/2-1 cup dairy or non-dairy (milk, soymilk, almond milk, yogurt, even silken tofu)
1 1/2 cup additional liquid like juice or nectar (mango nectar, orange juice, soda, tea)
1-2 tablespoons sweetener (honey, maple syrup, brown sugar)
add-ins:  almonds, fresh fruit, coconut butter, lime juice, vanilla extract, kale!

Blend, adding additional liquid for desired consistency.

Mommy Hungry

Orange Creamsicle Smoothie

2 frozen orange juice bars
½ cups cold milk
1 cup vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt
¾ cup cold orange juice

Blend the juice bars, milk, ice cream and orange juice in a blender. Can substitute frozen orange juice for orange juice bars.

Alternate: Orange Freeze
From Eddie’s Sweet Shop in Woodhaven, where they filmed part of Brighton Beach Memoirs. Very tasty! And easier than the creamsicle smoothie.
2 scoops orange sherbet
1 scoop vanilla ice cream

Tropical Slushie
This is a recipe from Scholastic's Parent and Child magazine that the kiddos can actually have. And it's pretty good (6/07).

1 cup mango nectar
20 oz Canned Pineapple Chunks in Juice

Freeze pineapple chunks overnight. Defrost 10 minutes before blending with mango nectar. Serve.
Parent and Child Magazine (2 points; 3 servings)

Peach Smoothie
1 bag frozen peaches, slightly defrosted in microwave (esp. if you don't have high-powered equipment)
1/4-1/2 cup milk, or more (cow, soy, even coconut works; I imagine yogurt would work, too, for really thick ones)--Miss D makes hers with orange juice and no milk
1/4 cup honey (or more to taste)

Mix in your blender or food processor until desired consistency.  Sometimes we like it chunky like ice cream or liquid like a smoothie; just adjust milk amounts.  It will refreeze but isn't as tasty later.  Enjoy!

Mommy Hungry

Mango Smoothie
1 bag frozen mangoes, approx. 16 oz. 
1/2 cup soymilk
1 cup mango nectar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
the juice of one lime

 Combine ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth.  Add additional soymilk and nectar, equally, as needed.

Mommy Hungry

Green Smoothie
3 leaves kale
1/2 cup water
1 1/4 cups soy milk
1 1/2 cups frozen fruit
1 ripe banana
1-2 tablespoons honey

Blend kale, water, and soy milk for 30+ seconds.  Add fruit, banana, and honey and blend for 60+ seconds, adding more liquid for desired consistency.

Enjoy in a dark-colored glass!

Mommy Hungry adapted from Heather Bruggeman

Strawberry-Almond Smoothie
1 cup raw almonds, soaked overnight
1 1/2 to 2 cups water 
2 to 3 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
1 tablespoon raw honey (we used closer to 2+)
1 whole vanilla bean (we didn't use this)

Place the almonds and water into a high-powered blender. Add water and blend until very smooth, about 30 to 60 seconds. Then add the berries, vanilla bean, and honey, blend again until smooth. Serve immediately.

Almond Energy Blast
1 cup low-fat low-sugar vanilla soymilk
3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
6 ounces firm silken tofu
1/4 cup dry-roasted almonds


Raspberry Sodas
1 cup frozen raspberries
1 cup fresh raspberries
1 (12 oz.) can gingerale or lemon-lime soda
1 (6 oz) container raspberry or plain yogurt
brown sugar to taste, depending on raspberries
1-3  ice cubes, depending on thickness preference

Blend until smooth

Blueberry Smoothie

2 quarts (2 1/2 lbs.) frozen blueberries, slightly thawed; or 2 quarts free blueberries
1 quart pineapple-orange-strawberry juice blend; or pineapple-orange juice
1 quart low-fat vanilla yogurt
8 tsp. Sugar

- In a container of an electric blender, combine blueberries, juice, yogurt and sugar.
-Blend until smooth, about 1 minute.
-Serve immediately in tall glass.
-Garnish with blueberry skewers spiraled with thin stripes of orange peel, if desired.

Our Very Cherry Banana Smoothie
1 1/2 cups vanilla yogurt (this was lowfat)
15 frozen sweet cherries
1 banana, fresh

Combine in food processor/blender. Let kids watch. Server immediately.

Mango Lassi
1 ripe mango
1 cup whole or lowfat plain yogurt
3 tablespoons sugar
½ cup cold water

Peel, pit, and coarsely chop 1 ripe mango (to yield about 1 cup fruit). In a blender, purée mango with yogurt, sugar, and cold water until smooth. Pour through a fine mesh sieve to remove pulp, if desired. Serve immediately over ice.

Everyday Food

Rise 'N Shine Smoothie
1/2 cup uncooked old-fashioned oats
1 cup orange juice
6 oz. vanilla yogurt (or plain, with 1 tablespoons sweetener)
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk
4 whole strawberries
3 ice cubes
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Grind oats into fine crumbs in blender.  Then add remaining ingredients, blending until smooth.  

Makes 2.

Smoothies and Summer Drinks recipe booklet

Not Coffee

I'm working on my iced coffee habit.  It's not so much that I like coffee; I'm an indifferent coffee drinker at best, preferring heavily milked or sweetened varieties that preserve only a bit of coffee flavor.  So, cold, creamy, and sweet for breakfast . . . a smoothie!  So I'm experimenting.  And this one is pretty good.

No kale though.


Rise 'N Shine Smoothie
1/2 cup uncooked old-fashioned oats
1 cup orange juice
6 oz. vanilla yogurt (or plain, with 1 tablespoons sweetener)
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk
4 whole strawberries
3 ice cubes
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Grind oats into fine crumbs in blender.  Then add remaining ingredients, blending until smooth.

Makes 2.

Smoothies and Summer Drinks recipe booklet

Double Boiler

I'm on a tear this morning, either because it's the last Monday of school or because it's been cooler at night (around 55F last night) with pleasant mornings.  I've already got two slow cookers going with dinners for the first part of the week:  Slow-Cooker "Baked" Chicken for the kids and Indian Beans and Peas for the adults.

Besides cooking dinner at breakfast time, I'm spending the last few school days, half days!, breakfasting with a couple of friends, reading, blogging, and, frankly, lazing around.  I don't think summer is too bad, though--especially because the kids start camp next week!  And we have lots of other fun plans.


Slow-Cooker "Baked" Chicken
1 whole chicken (around 4 lbs)
1 cup water
onion, garlic, salt, pepper to taste

Place chicken breast-side down in 6-quart slow cooker.  Salt and pepper (sometimes I even oil it a bit) to taste.  Add one cup of water and garlic and onion as desired.  Cook on LOW or HIGH until chicken is cooked (I'll get back to you on times--I think it's 8-10 on LOW, with 1 hour on HIGH to start, or 6 hours on HIGH).

NOTE:  You can also raise the chicken up on balls of aluminum foil or on vegetables like carrots, onions, and potatoes.  I like it in the water to make stock; some people cook it dry.  Some people also flavor with lemon or paprika.

Mommy Hungry


Indian Beans and Peas
1 cup yellow split peas, rinsed
1 tablespoon oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon gingerroot, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 bay laeves
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 cups vegetable broth
1 cups frozen sliced (French cut) green beans
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup coconut milk

Heat peas in 6 cups of water, boiling for 3 minutes and soaking for 1 hour.  Drain and rinse thoroughly and set aside

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium and saute onion, cooking until softened.  Add spices and cook another minute.  Add tomatoes and peas and bring to a boil.  Transfer to slow cooker.  Add broth and green beans.  Cover and cook on LOW for 8-20 or HIGH for 4-5.  When peas are tender, add lemon juice and coconut milk.  Cook an additional 20 minutes on HIGH.  Discard bay leaves.

adapted from Judith Finlayson, The Vegetarian Slow Cooker

Shakespeare in Bed

How much Shakespeare can you quote?

At 6:30 in the morning?

Bud woke up early and was reading Who was William Shakespeare? by Celeste Mannis, a biography for children.  Both kids are devouring biographies now--Harriet Tubman, Paul Revere, Ben Franklin, Ferdinand Magellan, and more.  And Bud picked up Shakespeare when he woke up.

But he had questions, first about the Elizabethan age.  "Mom, did you know Queen Elizabeth's mom was beheaded!?!"  Sure, I said, "Divorced, beheaded, died.  Divorced, beheaded, survived." This kept Bud busy for awhile, wrapping his mind around the profligate king.  Then, "Mom, do you know Romeo and Juliet?"  When I told him the bare-bones story, he was upset.  "Why did the message take so long?  How did he get poison?"  Never was there a story of more woe . . .

So I tried to distract him with the comedies--the love-hate of Much Ado About Nothing, the faeries and dreams of A Midsummer Night's Dream.  We talked about how the stories are dramatic representations of the best and worst of humanity, meant to instruct, inspire, entertain, but the were not real.  "So how did the actors play dead?"  Thankfully, we eventually got distracted by the actual book, specifically the quotes in the front.  Mama and I tried to complete the snippets--"To thine own self be true," "Good night, sweet prince," "A horse, a horse, a kingdom for a horse!"  It was definitely early in my day to be recalling Shakespeare!

Finally, as he left to get dressed, "Mom, did you know they think Shakespeare went into hiding?  He might have been a secret Catholic!"

I think these books might be a little old for Bud.

Maybe even for me.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Peony for Remembrance

"Flower Communion"

What a gathering-the purple
tongues of iris licking out
at spikes of lupine, the orange
crepe skirts of poppies lifting
over buttercup and daisy.
Who can be grim
in the face of such abundance?
There is nothing to compare,
no need for beauty to compete.
The voluptuous rhododendron
and the plain grass
are equally filled with themselves,
equally declare the miracles
of color and form.
This is what community looks like-
this vibrant jostle, stem by stem
declaring the marvelous joining.
This is the face of communion,
the incarnation once more
gracefully resurrected from winter.
Hold these things together
in your sight-purple, crimson,
magenta, blue. You will
be feasting on this long after
the flowers are gone.
--from Blessing the Bread by Rev. Lynn Ungar, DRE, Starr King, CA

Today our UU congregation celebrated the annual Flower Communion started by Norbert Capek, mid-20th century Unitarian minister in Prague who spoke out against fascism and died in a concentration camp.  Our congregation celebrates by each member bringing a flower from home to deposit in communal vases which the children carry in; at the end of service, each person takes home a different flower.  It's a lovely summertime ritual, filling the sanctuary with color and scent.  We brought two roses--a large pink one and a cluster of miniature pink ones.  We came home with what look like mini-cheddar pinks and also a giant, lovely peony.  

But today, we also said goodbye to our minister, Rev. Kathleen McTigue, who has been called to national office in the UUA.  While we were only members of this congregation for half a year, we were touched by her example of spiritual reflection and growth, eloquent and erudite sermons with liberal doses of poetry, strong moral code and sense of social justice, and lighthearted and welcoming manner with those around her.  We will miss her but will keep her words, spirit, and example with us . . . 

Go in peace.  Believe in peace.  Create peace.

Hey, You Guys!

Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Right Now

NOT watching Nik Wallenda tightrope walk across Niagara Falls.  Nope.  Can't even watch the pre-show. Going to shower and whatever else for the time it takes.

I wish him luck and safe journeys, though.


It's the last Friday of the school year, with only a few days left to go.  We are busy making cards and packaging teachers' gifts--candles this year with an extra gift card for the classroom teacher.  And getting all set for summer camp, a session of which starts right away.  Plus this weekend has birthday parties, church activities, and more!  Whew.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I Drank a Green Smoothie!

I did it!  I climbed my own personal Mt. Everest of healthy, whole-food eating:  I drank a green smoothie!  Complete with 3 big leaves of curly kale.

You should know that I don't particularly like juice, fruit or vegetable, and don't even like to smell V-8.  I've seen Green Smoothies and read about their health benefits a lot recently (but also know that people also believe too many of them can be unhealthy, of course), but I couldn't get over their color.  I tried, once before, with a store-bought Naked green smoothie but just couldn't.

But I wanted to, realizing it was quite a milestone these days, or even just so it wasn't a big deal to me anymore. So today, I made one--no pears, not too many bananas, a lot of mango for sweetness and flavor, only one kind of green vegetable.  And I drank it!  And I might drink the rest tomorrow.  It wasn't that bad (or that green--I find the color bothers me much more than the taste.  Well, unless there are pears or too many bananas--I don't really like those in any smoothies.).  But I don't think I could ever do a 21-day green cleanse like some famous people.

Mama says to get opaque glasses so I can't see what I'm drinking!

(But not to dwell on the green, I didn't take a picture.)

BTW, I believe if I were more clever, I could have written this whole post to Katy Perry's tune . . . "I drank a Greenie and I  liked it!"

Green Smoothie

3 leaves kale
1/2 cup water
1 1/4 cups soy milk
1 1/2 cups frozen fruit
1 ripe banana
1-2 tablespoons honey

Blend kale, water, and soy milk for 30+ seconds.  Add fruit, banana, and honey and blend for 60+ seconds, adding more liquid for desired consistency.

Enjoy in a dark-colored glass!

Mommy Hungry adapted from Heather Bruggeman (and more from her onsmoothies here)

Help Bud Be a Boy Scout

Please sign Jennifer Tyrell's petition to the CEO of AT&T who sits on the Boy Scouts of America board and tell him you want the homophobic policies of the BSA rescinded so everyone can be a Boy Scout.  If they eliminate their policy, we'll sign him up.  Help us make the change we wish to see in the world.

A BIG THANKS to all of you who saw my post/email and signed the petition!

Sleeping in the Rain

The goslings who appear every spring on the edges of a local road were sleeping through the misty rain today.  We love watching them progress from downy chicks to full-grown geese, bigger each time we go to the store!

Hats on to Sunscreen!

Since my childhood, my dad has been telling me to put on a hat.  More recently, he passes around the sunscreen.  I never liked hats much and complied with the sunscreen for longer beach or boating outings, still getting several significant sunburns in my youth.  When the babies were young we used lots of sunscreen, but now, when they get off the bus and play for an hour, I didn't think to put on sunscreen.  We do on longer outings but often forget on random outdoor play.  And never hats.

But, with Dad's skin cancers and repeated warnings about sunscreen, we're more vigilant now.  Even more, the kids now have to wear hats outside!  We all do because the scalp is vulnerable (and never gets sunscreen!) and cancers there are often not detected until late (see Mary Elizabeth Williams's chronicles on the stage 4 malignant melanoma on her scalp at Salon).  Reading this recent post was my main motivation--it argues that sunscreen and hats are habits that must be started in childhood, like helmets and seat belts.  It's not a habit I picked up, despite my dad's gentle suggestions, but it's one we're instilling in all of us now.

Smell the Flowers . . . and Bow

A practice for the summer months . . . . 

"Summer Silence"

In summer, I do not come to worship so much as worship comes to me.

In the morning, golden light splashes across my room,
and roses the color of wine greet me in the alley.
As they bow to me in the breeze, I bow back.
At noon, sunflowers refuse to turn their faces from me until again,
          I give a slight bow.
In the evening, the thunderclouds pile higher and higher,
          gathering pink and purple from the setting sun,
creating a vast mountain hanging suspended in the air.
Again, I pause and bow.
At night, when the pastel sky melts into a dark blue lake overhead,
the rusty beacon of Mars beckons above the horizon,
so that I cannot fail to notice and bend a knee.

The bows are small gestures, I know,
but surely better than all these ineffective words. 
And so in the end,
my praise turns to silence,
and the silence turns to me.

from Sonata for Voice and Silence: Meditations by Mark Bellitini. (adapted), Senior Minister First UU of Columbus, OH

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Having a Field Day!

Remember Field Day?  That elementary school outdoor  break in the school routine, with games, chaos, parents, and cold drinks?  I loved Field Day--not because sports were particularly my thing, but because I liked the holiday-like atmosphere:  it was the only day we could wear shorts (this was the 1970s and there were no shorts in my school); there was a lot of class pride, with special team names and classroom t-shirts with our names on the back (made at the local t-shirt shop, you know with rainbow sparkle bubble letters pressed on with big hot presses, same place you had your Star Wars shirt made with your name on the back!!  One year we were the Schakett's Super Sonics, lots of letters!); we drank ice-cold, dripping-wet Cokes out of various Igloos; we picnicked outside; there was no work all day; and a general air of chaotic happiness reined with lots of yelling and rooting and running around..  I dreaded the balloon pop, but otherwise enjoyed the races enough, like three-legged race, water balloon toss, all the relays and speed races, and the big finale tug-o-war competition.  We each got 3 or so events, choosing our best players for their best events--I think we even did advance time trials in PE.  I was a filler but always on tug-o-war because I was the tallest girl in the class (and often the grade).  If I remember correctly, ribbons were awarded and classes got points and could win.  Again, this was the 1970s--we competed, kept score, won and lost with no points just for participating.

Today was totally different.  Classes stayed together with no interaction much less competing.  Games were almost cooperative ("soccer croquet") or at least non-competitive with everyone getting a turn at everything and no winners--they just stopped when they were finished and then often just did it again.  Mercy, they didn't even all start together with "On your mark, get set, go!"  Six graders oversaw the relatively calm activities (ball toss in hoops with self-reporting of scores, clothes relay (we had this), wet ball toss (less messy than water balloon toss), etc), with just a few  parents in attendance, and almost no cheering.  I did cheer for Sis and Bud when it was their turn.  It seems odd to root when you can't win, though there was a general air of help and support.  And still lots of fun, essentially an extra-long PE class (except, disappointingly, they NEVER go outside for PE!) . . . I wonder if it will be more like an old-fashioned field day when they are older?  I'm not sure kids today would no what to do with that!

And they'll never top those t-shirt shop t-shirts!!


We saw Mama's doctor today, who will be referring us to Dr. Roboto!  Yep, Mama wants a special DaVinci robotic hysterectomy--tiny incisions, short  hospital say, less recovery time!  We'll see.  Don't know what the turnaround time is, though still probably relatively soon (i.e. summer).

Right Now

Raining as we leave a lovely lunch at Bloodroot, with favorite marinated tofu cabbage salad, best grilled cheeses, and a Grand Marnier custard over strawberries.

Right Now

Field Day is on!  Though under a cloudy sky ....

And the school parking lot looks like a minivan rally!

Happy Birthdays!

To Goo, on his big test day (that has to be lucky, right?), and to Gong!

Right Now

Albus wants to place fetch with me and his toy mouse....nothing like the love of your cat at dawn.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Right Now

After putting off bedtime more than an hour with various complaints (maybe she should do that exercise!), Sis is now sawing logs, which only means one thing:  she's getting sick.

It's not quite the first week of the month, but given her track record February to May, I won't be at all surprised if she has a fever in the morning.

Good Luck!

Super-special best wishes to Goo, who sits for the D.O. equivalent of the U.S. Medical Licensing boards tomorrow--for 8 hours!!!  We'll be thinking of you!!

Complaint Department

An enlightening exercise from the ever-inspiring blog of Toni Bernhard, author of How to Be Sick:

1.  Make a list of the complaints (dissatisfaction/unhappiness) in your life, i.e. places/events/people that you wish were different.

  • Kids who stay up way past bedtime (I can hear them chatting now.)
  • The ache in my SI joint from stresses today.
  • The loud firecrackers being set off by the neighbors right now.
  • Not knowing if field day is cancelled tomorrow due to forecasted rain.
  • The encroaching heat of summer.
  • Mama's discomfort and illness.
  • Not being confident about driving to Pilates.
  • Having a long to-do list before Mama's surgery this summer.
2.  Divide the complaints into three groups--things over which you have no control, partial control, and total control.
  • None:  firecrackers, field day, summer, illness
  • Partial:  bedtime, driving, SI joint, to-do list
  • Total: none!
3.  Toni recommends, "it’s worth thinking about what kind of skillful action might lessen these [partial-control] complaints—which would, in turn, ease our suffering. I define 'skillful action' as speech or action that relieves suffering in ourselves or others."
  • bedtime:  maybe change bedtime ritual?  Or just relax about this here at the end of the school year.
  • driving:  keep practicing and accept my limitations, at which point I will either not mind as much or transcend them.
  • SI joint:  hating pain, as Toni notes, hurts more than helps; mindfulness practice can help me address both the pain and the stresses.
  • to-do list:  there are certain things that need to be done, but I can lower my expectations as well as ask for help

Toni concludes:
Once we become mindful of our tendency to complain, we can begin to see that our peace and contentment don’t depend on controlling every circumstance we find ourselves in; they depend on learning to respond skillfully to those circumstances. 
When we truly recognize that we have no control over most of our complaints, it’s easier to accept that many of our experiences in life simply won’t be to our liking. Acknowledging and accepting this, we can begin to take those unpleasant experiences in stride. When we do, we’re likely to find that our tendency to complain subsides. What a relief that would be!

Tastes of History

Mama and I have taken to watching Chef Walter Staib's PBS series, Taste of History, which focuses on the foodways of 18th-century America.  We knew of Staib from the historical restaurant, City Tavern, in Philly, where we've eaten twice (most recently with t he kids over Memorial Day weekend)--the first time, ten years ago, we actually met the chef, who came out to talk to us and signed our copy of his cookbook.  He is famous for researching, recreating, and celebrating colonial foodways.  And it's not just baked beans and apple pie but surprising combinations of fresh ingredients and international spices (and meats many Americans don't eat anymore--kidneys, oxtail, or tongue, anyone?).

But we didn't know he had a tv show--Emmy-winning, no less--until we visited the Tavern again.  And it's wonderful!  There are historic houses, costumed interpreters, old recipes, and open-hearth cooking!  Plus his charming and enthusiastic explanations, in his endearing German accent. With soccer over for another half-hour, we just watched the episode where the chef goes to Montpelier and cooks for the interpreters reenacting James and Dolley Madison.  You can watch the fourth season now on PBS, or old episodes on WE, I think, or on DVD, which is what we have.

It's really perfect tv  for us in these anxious times.

Chunky Smoothie

We're still forging ahead with healthy smoothies from my new blender.  Today:  Strawberry-Almond Smoothie adapted from   It reminds me of an Almond Energy Blast we made years ago, which would also be great with strawberries.

And today, I bought kale so that I can finally try a green smoothie!  More on that when it happens.

Strawberry-Almond Smoothie

1 cup raw almonds, soaked overnight
1 1/2 to 2 cups water 
2 to 3 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
1 tablespoon raw honey (we used closer to 2+)
1 whole vanilla bean (we didn't use this)

Place the almonds and water into a high-powered blender. Add water and blend until very smooth, about 30 to 60 seconds. Then add the berries, vanilla bean, and honey, blend again until smooth. Serve immediately.

Almond Energy Blast
1 cup low-fat low-sugar vanilla soymilk
3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
6 ounces firm silken tofu
1/4 cup dry-roasted almonds


Right Now

Watching Euro 2012 with Mama, who came home not feeling well (vertigo + disc tears + cramping = doesn't feel well most of the time).  She'd be napping if England and France weren't tied.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Life Cycles . . . in Texas

Birth:  This weekend my cousin R was honored at a baby shower for her first child.  Hope it was a wonderful day!

Marriage:  Soon, my Aunt T (Gommie's sister) and Uncle R are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary!  Congratulations!!!

Death:  On Friday, my Uncle T (Gommie's brother) and his wife Aunt A honored the life of her grown son, who died a month or so ago.  Our thoughts are with them.

Presenting the Hungry Family Circus!

Remember how we saw the traditional, old-fashioned circus a few weeks ago, with one tent of acrobats, trapeze artists, tumblers, etc., as well as other displays of juggling, stilts, etc?   Sis was enamored of the ancient Chinese yo-yo aka the Diabolo and learned how to get it started and keep it spinning, while Buddy was introduced to the rudiments of juggling.

Well, the circus continues.  I got Buddy a set of scarves and he has been practicing arcs and back-and-forth tosses.  And this weekend, a Diabolo arrived in the mail for Sis, who is really pretty good at the basics (and it's much harder than it looks!).  So this afternoon, Bud was juggling, Sis was yo-yoing, and I was juggling, too!  Mama was helping Sis with the finer points of keeping the spin going.  All we needed was some good old circus organ music!

It's like we were channeling P.T. Barnum, who lived around here (and was a Universalist, too!) a century and a half ago . . . .


Mommy Hungry's Tips on Learning How to Juggle:

  1. Get three bean bags, koosh balls, or hacky sacks (tennis balls are too hard to catch easily and bounce away when dropped).
  2. Practice  tossing one ball back and forth in a nice arc.   If you drop it a lot, practice sitting down.  Also, to keep your arc in one plane, practice facing a wall so you can't throw the ball forward.
  3. When you can do that, add the other ball and practice tossing back and forth.  See #2, if needed.
  4. Now, put two balls in your dominant hand and one in  your other and continue the back and forth.
  5. Repeat, repeat, repeat.  And don't get discouraged because it takes everyone time to learn how to juggle.
  6. Best yet, once you learn, like bicycle riding, you don't really ever seem to forget and can surprise and impress friends for years (really, aren't you surprised I can juggle?  I used to be able to do pins for a few tosses!)
OR, better still, buy the Juggling for the Complete Klutz book (with three bean bags!), which is what really helped me learn to juggle (after an initial lesson from my cousin, Frere Jacques) and probably where I got all the above ideas anyway!

And if I can learn to juggle (and successfully teach Mama . . .and maybe Goo (I can't recall)), then you can learn, too!