Tuesday, June 28, 2011

yummy summer food

I think I've mentioned (once or twice....every other minute) that we joined a CSA, Embarras Valley Farm. We have been getting fresh produce, once a week, for about 5 weeks. We split the share with our awesome friends, Steph and Jake, and even split in half, it is still a ton of yummy veggies. Aside from it being grown locally and sustainably, the other big benefit is that we, as a family, have been trying all sorts of new things. Some have been hits, others misses. Either way, we are trying things we never would have tried before! Here are a few of our culinary adventures over the last week or so.

One veggie that was new for all of us was Swiss chard. (Doesn't it look so pretty in the pictures?) I decided to use the chard to make a creamy Swiss chard pasta. I thought it looked really lovely, with the oranges and reds of the chard. However, it was not a huge success with my taste testers. The chard had a really fresh, outdoorsy taste, which is my nice way of saying that it kind of tasted like grass clippings. It wasn't terrible, though, and since there are tons of leftovers in my freezer for another day, it is something we will try again. At least once.

Another new to us veggie is the radish. I was under the impression that I didn't like radishes, and that they were super spicy. I think I just didn't know a good way to prepare them. I used our radishes to make an amazing radish tart. I added some chopped tomato, green pepper, and green onion, and just used the whole egg instead of just the yolks. It increased the baking time a bit, and tasted so, so good. I will definitely make this again if we get more radishes. (I also used the greens to make a modified version of radish green soup. I froze it to save for soup-weather.)

I also made this easy and delicious kale salad (kale, carrots shredded in my food chopper, one chopped apple, a handful of craisins, and raspberry vinaigrette.)

Pretty cucumber mint "fancy" water

Taco pizza with dough from my awesome yard sale bread maker, (thanks Bethany!)and lettuce and cilantro from the farm (hopefully, between the farm and my planter garden, I will be able to use fresh salsa next time I make it!)

Also in the past week, thanks to abundant amount of fruit from our backyard mulberry and cherry trees, Domingo for picking said fruit and my Ball Canning House Party, I canned mulberry and cherry jam! (The boys loved mashing the berries!) It was pretty easy and tastes really great! It also looks so pretty!
I had enough cherries to also make a crockpot cherry buckle. Easy and tasty. (I, obviously, used cherries instead of blueberries, and I added more sugar, as my tree is a sour cherry tree.)

It has been fun trying new things! I can't wait to see what this week's share has in store for us!

Friday, June 17, 2011


In kindergarten, we had a problem with Jack getting bullied. He is such a sweet, friendly, enthusiatic, tender-hearted boy. The same characteristics that make him a great kid also make him an easy target for bullies. Cory and I talked and talked to him about how to handle the bullies (which he usually forgot as soon as the bullies started to pick on him.) We talked to his teacher many times, which did not do anything to help the situation. Eventually, we talked to the principal. He seemed genuinely concerned about the situation and tried to help, but at that point it had been going on for so long, and it was so close to the end of school, that I don't think much changed.

The bullying situation has left me in a tough spot as a mother. It was completely heartbreaking, infuriating, and frustrating that these kids were picking on my sweet, wonderful little boy. And there was nothing I could do about it. Even when volunteering at the school and witnessing it, I had no authority to step in and discipline the bullies. There is nothing worse than feeling completely helpless as you watch some kid hit your baby while unable to do anything about it. Jack would look at me as if saying "Do something." It was horrible.

Now, we are preparing for first grade. I have been carefully considering what to do. Do I request Jack not to be in the same class with the bullies, or do I let him learn a real life lesson about fighting his own battles? Both choices have appeal. Jack has been taking karate over the summer, so hopefully he will have some self confidence to stand up to the bullies. On the other hand, these particular kids have already marked him as a victim, so maybe they won't care about his new found confidence, and will pick on him anyway. It is hard to balance wanting to protect him from everything, and letting him learn to handle things on his own.

After agonizing over it, I decided to request him to not be in the same class as the bullies. Cory went to the school today and filled out the paperwork. I know that there may be other bullies, but hopefully, he will not be an easy target for them. These (2) particular kids already have him marked, and I don't think I would be okay with not being able to do anything about them for another year. I know I can't micro-manage every aspect of his life, but he is still just a little kid, and I have to do whatever I can to protect him. I feel like I made the right choice. I hope I am right!

Monday, June 6, 2011

It's summer!!!!

I know that Memorial Day is considered the "unofficial" start of summer, and that the summer solstice, marking the actual beginning of summer, is a couple of weeks away. But none of that matters. The way you can tell that summer has officially begun is Jack starting to play t-ball! Last week, he had his first two games. Few things are as nostalgia invoking or apple pie-y as watching two teams of little kids play baseball. It is adorable and hilarious, and pretty much defines summertime. This is Jack's first year playing, and even if he never plays again, every kid should play summer t-ball at least once. He is still getting the hang of the game, but he enjoys it. He is also one of the oldest kids on the team. I am relieved for him to finally be involved in something where he isn't the youngest! So far, his strengths seem to be making piles of dirt on third base, hugging his friends from the opposing team, and throwing his mitt onto the roof of the dugout. He is having fun and learning, though, so that's what's important!

Another better-than-a-calendar sign that it's summer is the fact that we have already been to the cabin twice! Last year, I'm pretty sure we didn't make it out at all since Addie was just a newborn. We had so much fun both times! The first trip to the cabin, we swam, rode the pedal boat, and got to see Auntie Erica. The second time, Aunt Jane took the kids for rides on the ski boat, (Addie's first boat ride!) Aunt Elaine started to refresh the kids memories on how to swim, and we went tubing! (Harry for the first time. Jack had been once before. Addie stayed safely on land!) We've already had a lot of summer fun, and it's just the first week of June! Looking forward to lots more fun!!!

****Also, the winner of the yarn was April! I will get your prize in the mail sometime this week! Congrats!!!***
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