August: Vacation/Staycation: Recipe

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This isn’t quite a recipe, however…

Whether traveling to somewhere new or visiting somewhere you’ve been before, snacks are important. Here are five Snacks to Pack!

Snacks to Pack!

1. Craisins or Raisins. These come in individual packages or you can share them using Ziploc snack sized bags.

2. Pretzels. My kids always want cheese doodles. Orange fingers in the car? Absolutely not!

3. Bottles of water.

4. Granola Bars. They come in all kinds of varieties; my favorites are Nature Valley’s Pecan Nut Crunch.

5. Cereal in Ziploc bags. Cheerios, Kix, Lucky Charms are great for this kind of traveling snack.

Enjoy your summer, whether you’re traveling far or staying near.

July: Sum Sum Summer: Recipe

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Homemade Popsicles. (c)2018

One way to have fun and beat the heat is to make homemade popsicles. We tried this earlier in the week, and it was fun as well as refreshing.

I bought the popsicle makers for 99¢ at Wal-Mart. I’m going back for another one, maybe two. They’re an easy to use contraption. You could also use ice cube trays or silicone ice trays in different shapes. We found mini watermelon shapes in the dollar section at Target.

The flavors we used were Simply Lemonade with Raspberry, and Hawaiian Punch Fruit Punch. The latter is a favorite of mine from childhood. I almost never drink it because it’s just too sweet, but it has the perfect fruit punch taste, and it reminds me of being a kid in the summer heat.

What fruit juices or drinks do you recommend for freezing into popsicles?

June: School’s Out: Recipe

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​For the past several summers, my kids have enjoyed taste testing. They’ve already asked about it this year, and school isn’t quite finished yet. I would go to the supermarket and pick out three to five new foods to try, usually exotic fruits that they didn’t typically get on a regular basis. I’d only get one of each and cut them into pieces for each of us to have a taste. If we really liked something, we’d go back to the store for more.

This is truly a great summer activity. Try new foods, offer healthy choices, add to our vocabulary, increase kitchen skills, and tick another day off the countdown back to school. At this age, the kids join me about halfway through wanting to return to their friends and schedules.

Not everything will go over well. My son desperately wanted anchovies. We ordered a pizza with two slices only with anchovies. The picture of his face is priceless and still makes me laugh. Just mentioning the word anchovy makes his whole face scrunch up. He did not like them at all.

Here is a list (below the cut) of some of the things we’ve tried, some we’re still thinking about fot this year, and suggestions for your own taste test day.

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Tea Kettles

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​Our stainless steel tea kettle, which we loved, kept retaining sediment on the bottom as well as the inside flaking off. It was also really difficult to get it properly cleaned. Our municipal water tastes good, but it has crap in it. Once we decided to stop using it, we had been bolling our water in a saucepan for instant coffee and tea. We did this for more than a year. It’s doable, but without a lip for pouring it was sometimes messy. We finally decided this past winter to make the investment in an electric kettle. It’s not terribly expensive, but even thirty dollars just after Christmas is a budgetary stretch. My husband had been eyeing a Hamilton Beach brand; the kids thought I bought it because of my love for Lin-Manuel Miranda, but honestly, my husband picked it.

I liked it.

 I mean it worked well.

Fill it to the line with water, press the switch and wait until it flips back. No whistle, but when it was on there was a blue light. It seemed faster than the saucepan and even the stainless steel whistle blowing kettle, and he made his coffee and I steeped my tea. It lived on the counter next to the toaster as it made morning waffles or toast easier. Kind of like a breakfast nook or space like in those shelter magazines for home decor.

One day, a few weeks ago, I had a writing assignment. I knew if I left the house, I’d spend money and if I sat in my office chair, I’d play a game on my kindle, check Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and then fall asleep, so I moved the kettle to the dining room table and turned off my wifi, and in a final act of defiance, set up my keyboard.

The kettle plus, like slow cookers, is very short, so I moved the table closer to the outlet. I make this point to show my determination to accomplish my writing task. I am a professional after all.

I flipped the switch and the blue light glowed. Like an inspirational candle light. My loose tea was already in my strainer of infuser, resting on the rim of my Ireland mug. When the blue light and the switch went off, I poured the boiling water over the tea leaves.

After three minutes (or so, I don’t keep count; I check the color), I removed the strainer, added the sugar, and got down to work.

Soon after, my cup was empty but my writing wasn’t finished.

I didn’t even hesitate or think about; it was pure muscle memory: I pressed the switch. In about two minutes, maybe three I had a second boiling hot cup of tea.

Then I did it again.

And then one more time.

I could not have done this so easily standing at the stove waiting for the saucepan of water to boil.

This could completely change my writing ritual.

Not only that, using half the dining room table kept it from getting cluttered, so it was already half cleaned off for dinner. Win-win.

The point, though, is that tea makes the work possible. I mean, it makes all the things possible, right?

Tea makes the world go round, and should be thanked in every book dedication as far as I’m concerned.

May: Flowers, Birds, Dances: Recipe

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I found the most delicious curry chicken salad at The Fresh Market. Unfortunately, The Fresh Market isn’t convenient for me to get to as often as I’d like, so I deconstructed the salad, and devised my own recipe. I share it with you here:

Curry Chicken Salad
Ingredients:

1 cup Mayo

1 TB + 1 tsp. Sweet Curry Powder

Scallions, 1-2 stalks

1 small box Golden Raisins, about 1/4cup

2 TB Mango Chutney

2 1/2tsp. Chopped Pecans

Fresh ground pepper (I did five turns with a pepper mill)

Chicken, cooked, cut into cubes (in the picture that goes with this, the chicken is cut much smaller than I would have liked) – about 2 cups is what I used; with cubed it may come out to more if you’re actually measuring it.

Water chestnuts, drained – about 1/8-1/4cup (I just grabbed a handful and diced them)
Mix 1 cup of Mayonnaise and 1 TB + 1 tsp. Sweet Curry Powder and set aside.

Most of the rest is to taste.

Cut up chicken and put into a separate bowl.

Add diced scallions, chopped water chestnuts, a handful of golden raisins, 2 TB of mango chutney, about 1 tsp. of pepper (put in however much you like for your own tastes), 2 1/2tsp. pecans.

Mix with a fork.

Add in the mayo mixture and mix again, then add more until you have the desired consistency. If it’s too wet, add more chicken or solids like the scallions and water chestnuts, etc. If it’s too dry, add more of the mayo mixture (you should have a little left over.)

April: Quiet, Rebirth, Reassment: Recipes

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The beginning of April saw Passover fill that first week. Passover is the Jewish holiday commmemorating the Jews escape from slavery in Egypt. Part of the observation is forgoing all bread in favor of unleavened bread: matzo. When it came time to run, there wasn’t time to bake the bread, and so they took it as it was.

With kids being picky eaters, it can be difficult to suddenly simply remove a staple from their diets such as bread. It’s not just bread. It’s cereal, oatmeal, muffins, bagels, and I could spend hours listing all the ways they claim that I’m torturing them.

This year we tried two new recipes. Continue reading