Monday, October 31, 2011

Top Five - October 2011

October 2011's Top 5 Posts (most pageviews):
3/4 (tied) Eye Spy Bento
 How (Not) to Make Creepy Blood Worms (An oldie from Halloween last year.)

October's Top 5 Referring URLs:
1. What's For Lunch At Our House ( thanks to What's For Lunch Wednesdays)
2. Family Fresh Cooking - Project Lunch (Thanks to a link-up on ONE post! Amazing!)
3. (The link-ups just started this month, and I got an incredible response just for participating! Wahoo!)
4. Prior Fat Girl (A total surprise! Unbeknownst to me, she linked to my blog in a post about how making food fun leads to being happier about eating healthy. What a turnout! Thanks!)
5. EasyLunchBoxes - Fan Sites

And for a long time this month, there was a surprise contender (just got bumped to 6th by ELB at the last minute!) The Well-Trained Mind, where one of my firstest-ever 'followers' made a comment on a forum, with a link to my bento search label! (6th comment down; above link is to page 3 of the original forum discussion on bento!) Thanks Mommy Lydia!

October's Top 5 Referring Sites:
1. Google
5. Prior Fat Girl

I was shocked NOT to see EasyLunchBoxes in my top 5. First time ever! (No worries, Kelly. You're number 7!)

"creepy halloween food" and "creepy halloween recipes" (and with the words rearranged in other order, like "halloween creepy food") were 3 of my top 5 keyword searches (and 4 out of the top 8.) Which explains the surge in pageviews for my Blood Worms post! The rest of the top 5 posts make sense, since I pimped the heck out of them linked them up to a lot of fun new weekly memes!

October Bento Catch-Up

Monday, 10/3/11 - Mondays is our Barefoot Enrichment class, followed by co-op preschool. Since it was the first Monday of the month, it was our Parent-Ed day! I made myself a lunch with celery and cream cheese 'ants on a log,' but not only forgot to take pictures of our lunches at home, I forgot to snap a picture of mine in the car too! Ah well.
Her lunch: PBHoney, string cheese nibblets, trail mix, sugar peas,
peach/Granny Smith apple/blueberry fruit salad
We got the peach (or whatever. I'm not much good at identifying the pitted fruits) at the grocery store per Z's special request. She nibbled on about half of it the night before, so I chopped up the rest, along with a Granny Smith apple she had also chosen (sloshed in apple juice to prevent browning.) I tossed in some blueberries for color and variety.
Since there was a pick involved, she ate most of the fruit chunks, and most (if not all) of the cheese.
The pick in the fruit salad is from Wilton Add-A-Message Fun Pix which can be found at most party supply and craft stores. I think the pink silicone cups are from them as well.

Thursday, 10/6/11 - On Thursdays we have gym class, then drop-off preschool. Since I hadn't packed lunch the night before, and didn't manage my time wisely enough that morning, I had to toss together a last-minute lunch. I can't remember if I had packed myself a lunch as well, and just forgot to take photos (as you can see, I had to yank this one back from her after I had given it to her in the car, just to snap a quick shot of the lunch!) Maybe I had just planned on eating at McD's going back home for something healthy while she was in school.
Her lunch: peach/apple/blueberry fruit salad, string cheese nibblets w/
cheddar pumpkins, Ranch, green beans, ham sandwich.
The pumpkin cheeses and green beans were left over from the previous day's pumpkin patch bento. The fruit assortment was left over from the one above this. The cheese nibblets might also have been left over.
She enjoyed putting her own cheese on the ham sandwich, and used both kinds. I can't remember what-all she ate though.

Tuesday, 10/11/11 - We had our very first MOPS meeting, so I packed a lunch to eat between that and her drop-off preschool.
Top (my lunch): Onion bagel w/cream cheese, purple cauliflower,
broccoli, Ranch, blueberries w/grapes
Bottom (her lunch): Ham and cheese pocket, Colby Jack leaves,
nuts and raisins (in heart,) Carrot flower sticks w/Ranch,
Apples w/grapes
Since this was so similar to our Rainbow lunch the previous day, she was upset that this sandwich (made with Pampered Chef Cut-N-Seal) didn't have a face on it! And she wanted rice candy again! I told her that she could make her own face, using apples and grapes, or maybe tear up some cheese, since the grapes might be too roll-y.
"I made a 'me' out of sandwich!"
She made a face on her sandwich, all right. And far cuter than I could have done! In fact, she loved it so much she refused to eat it until after school.

Monday, 10/17/11 - For some reason I had resisted packing our lunch the night before, even though our Mondays have very little time to get ready before we have to head out for our Barefoot Enrichment class, which is roughly 35-40 minutes away. And then we have 60 minutes to get back in the car and drive to our co-op preschool, which means we'll be eating in the car. But THIS particular Monday our preschool was meeting at the pumpkin patch, which is an even further drive away. So instead of making a third pumpkin-themed lunch for our third pumpkin patch trip, I got up early Monday morning and only had time to toss together something simpler. I had even entertained the idea of skipping the field trip altogether and just going home after Enrichment class, thus negating a need to pack a lunch at all. Oh, the irony.
Top (her lunch): Toasted ham and cheese, cheese nibblets
and torn-up Colby Jack, Ranch, snap peas, apples w/blueberries
Bottom (my lunch): PBHoney, broccoli, apples w/blueberries
The toasted ham and cheese was a special request. And with the Cut-N-Seal (or KrustBuster) I can seal all the saved-up bento scrap bits inside and pop it into the toaster, rather than buttering it all up and heating up the stovetop! Super easy! And fewer calories, without the butter or oil! Plus I was able to just have it cooking on its own in the toaster while I worked on the rest of the lunches, rather than having to devote my time to watching it burn cook. *Special note: Our toaster slots are wide enough to toast bagel halves, so these pocket sandwiches might not fit in normal ones.
She enjoyed her toasted sandwich, and ate most of it. She did a fair amount of playing with her cheese bits (in a square Wilton muffin cup,) but enjoyed having the torn up Colby Jack (the remainder of the slice that went into her sandwich.) And she ate a bunch of them too. She ate her apples, but not the blueberries (kitty pick from a liner/pick set from Dollar Tree last Halloween.) And she maybe ate a pea or two. Mostly she smeared Ranch all over.
I had planned on sharing the Ranch, so didn't put one in my lunch, but I hadn't thought it out well, since it's hard to share a sauce container while driving. So I ate my broccoli plain. Blech.
As it turns out, I should have paid attention to my instincts. After racing down to the pumpkin patch (several minutes late,) I shelled out my $6 and last-minute permission slip just before our group headed off to the hay wagon to ride to the pumpkins. As we were getting off the wagon, a wasp started buzzing around Z's head, and freaking her out. She ended up bumping her head on the side of the wagon trying to avoid the wasp. Then, as I was reaching around her to pull her back into my lap to get her away from the stairs down from the wagon, since other people were trying to get down too, I apparently trapped the wasp between our hands and it stung her!
I then got to carry her the entire way back, to where the farm had their first aid kit. Z wanted to go home. We applied some hydrocortisone cream and a baking soda paste, then a band-aid, while I tried calming her down and seeing if she would really be willing to stay. No. By this time, our class was headed back in from the field, so I told the teacher we were heading home. Ah well. All that work to make a lunch, just to get her stung by a wasp!
The farm gave us a pass to come back another time. Which was super nice of them. Z fell asleep before I had even pulled out of the parking lot! Poor thing!

Tuesday, 10/25/11 - Had to pack a lunch to eat between MOPS (our chapter meets twice a month. Some meet only once) and preschool. Since I hadn't planned ahead the night before and MOPS starts at 9:30 AM, I didn't have time for anything fancy.
Top (my lunch): PB and apples, bagel w/cream cheese,
Halloween JoeJoes
Bottom (her lunch): Ham and cheese
 pita, Apple Straws,
string cheese nibblets, carrots w/green beans, gra
I knew there would be tons of yummy food at MOPS, so I packed a light lunch for myself. Unka Seesee had bought some regular-sized bagels (the kind that come 6-to-a-sleeve, not the New York style.) Since they were so tiny compared to the New York ones I love, and I wasn't planning on filling it up with other food anyway, I used my Snapware box, since it's smaller than the EasyLunchBoxes. The pumpkin-face "Oreos" are from Trader Joe's (JoeJoes.)
Since she only gets a snack in the kiddie room (I tell her it's called "The Fun Room,") I made a 'real' lunch for her. The paper muffin cup is from Wilton's Halloween line this year (graphic on the bottom is a bowl full of eyeballs!) The eyeball picks came with them. The Apple Straws were found at Winco. They are a flour/apple puree formed into straw shapes and then baked, and quite tasty. Her mini pita is from Trader Joe's as well. I've only found the little ones there, but don't buy them often since they don't last long before they go bad, and I can't use up all twelve before I have to toss them out.
She ate most of the sandwich and all the veggies; some of the grapes, and all of the Apple Straws. Also one of my JoeJoes (as a reward for eating her green beans.) I can't remember how many of the cheese nibblets she ate.

Wednesday, 10/26/11 - We had Movie Club with my MOMS Club group, followed by preschool. (Movie Club is like a book club, but instead of reading the same book and talking about it, we watch the same re-chosen movie each month and discuss it.) I figured the Movie Club hostess would feed us fairly well, so I packed a medium-ish lunch. I was right. Z ate virtually none of her lunch. She was still full of grapes, popcorn, and "Witch Hat" cookies from Miss Mary's house! (So was I, but I'm pregnant and was able to 'power through' and eat mine up anyway!)
To (her lunch): PBHoney pita, Apple Straws, string cheese
grapes, green bean and carrot
Bottom (my lunch): 
apples, green beans, 1/2 onion bagel w/
cream cheese, 
Apple Straws, Halloween JoeJoes
The witchy cupcake liners and pick came from a set from Dollar Tree last Halloween. Her carrot came from our CSA share. She really likes the small carrots we've been getting. It's pretty much the only thing she ate on the way to school. She ate the sandwich the following day, since I had this whole already-made lunch left-over, and didn't bother to make ANOTHER one for Thursday. But ate virtually nothing else. In fact, the green beans went into my lunch, and the cheese nibblets and grapes got rolled into her "Dem Bones" lunch the following Monday! (Halloween)

Dem Bones bento

I'd been promising her a "Dem Bones" themed lunch, since it would be Halloween-y, and we'd just checked the book out from the library. But the week before Halloween I hadn't planned my time well, and she ate very little, since several of our AM activities involved her getting fed, right before heading off into the car to (not) eat lunch on the way to preschool. Where they feed her a snack, so she's not too hungry after. So a lot of food getting rolled into a fresh EasyLunchBox for the following day.

So I decided to make an effort and get one ready for Monday's lunch - on Halloween!

Dem Bones
Her lunch: Candy "bones," ham and cheese bones, string cheese "spine,"
carrot "finger bones," grapes
The Candy Bone's Connected to the Yummy Bone: I found little packets of these hard-candy bones and skulls at the Dollar Tree and bought them just for this lunch. The rest of the packets will go in the bowl for trick-or-treaters. The red silicone mini cup is from World Market.

Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Dem Sandwich Bones: I used my dog bone cutter on a ham and cheese sandwich (on a new multi-grain bread we're trying out from Costco. Double the price of the brand we normally get, but still 3g fiber per slice and whole grain wheat, which are my requirements. But my husband was getting tired of the same old bread.) She's been on a ham kick lately, and asking for it a lot, so I figured it would be a safe bet versus her usual peanut-butter-honey.

The Cheese Bone's Connected to the Spine Bones: I chose string cheese into nibblets, since they look kind of like a spine when stacked. And I wasn't in the mood to slice cheese large enough for my bone cookie cutter. And these were already sliced up from a previous lunch that she'd barely touched. Square silicone liner is from Wilton.

The Carrot Bone's Connected to the Grape Bone: The carrots are from our CSA share, and I picked out that curly one specifically for this, since it looks like a gnarled finger. The grapes are a combination of organic red ones bought at the CSA farm, and an organic green/black mix from Trader Joe's I bought for my snack day at her co-op preschool.

The dancing skeleton picks were from Bake It Pretty, but I'm not seeing them there anymore. The colorful skeleton toys were from Dollar Tree last Halloween.

Leftovers Lunch
My lunch: onion bagel w/cream cheese, apples and
raspberries, green beans and peas (Ranch underneath)
My apples were the last few slices from a lunch earlier in the month (still good! And almost no browning, thanks to being sloshed in apple juice right after I cut them.) The raspberries had been uneaten from her Eye Spy lunch. The peas were left untouched ages ago and I put them in a little Take-N-Toss container in the fridge and forgot about them. Time to use them up! I'm surprised they're still good! The green beans were also left uneaten from one of her recent lunches.

Naturally we couldn't eat this tasty lunch without the book that inspired it! She loved the "Dem Bones" video by Scholastic, and I was excited to see the book at our last trip to the library. She's been very interested in books about bones and skeletons lately, which is a great tie-in this time of year! And who I am to interfere with her wanting to actually learn something! The down-side is that this book is a verrrrry long read. At least longer than I like to read out loud. "See Dick run. Run Dick, run!" is more my pace, for reading out loud. More than one or two sentences per page, 10-15 pages, and I start doing some heavy editing of the story. Luckily Daddy is a sucker will read her longer stories. But I read it all anyway, just this once.

BOTW: Halloween
Bento Lunch
Shibley Smiles

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Eye Spy Bento

This bento was originally going to be something completely different - a spider theme, in fact. But as I was digging through my paper Halloween muffin liners, I found the new eyeball ones from Wilton I just bought, and quickly turned it all around into an eyeball theme!

Eye Spy
Her lunch: Ham and cheese sandwich balls w/olives, string cheese nibblets,
strawberry-mango fruit snacks, green beans w/carrots and olives,
apples w/rasberries
Eyeball sandwiches: I had originally planned to make sandwich balls for this week's Bento of the Week theme into spiders (using some licorice string.) But apparently I got my dates messed up, and that theme is really for next week. Ah well. And the silicone spider cup was going to hold some leftover caramel corn from our visit to Seattle Center earlier in the week. But when I switched over to an eyeball theme, I had the brilliant notion to turn the spider cups sideways, making the legs into eyelashes! Brilliant! And I had some super-huge-jumbo olives, which I sliced up to make the irises or pupils or whatever.

Eyeball Snacks: The cheese nibblets were the reason I was looking for a mini paper liner in the first place, since with the balls-that-would-become-spiders and the silicone cup already in there, there wasn't a lot of room left. I found these mini Wilton liners at Safeway, and don't really see them online anywhere. They are super cute with tiny eyeballs up the sides, and one big eyeball at the bottoms.
I had toyed with the idea of drawing eyes on some of the cheese, but the Wilton markers I have totally suck for drawing on cheese. I had also thought about using some of my sugar eyes, but they tend to melt into cheese over time, which was kind of creepy. And I forgot to actually get them out and do them on the cheese, fruit snacks and fruit after I had decided to go for it anyway. Ah well.
The fruit snacks were left over from our visit to the Starbucks at the Seattle Center (on our way out. Venti white mocha frappucino for me! Yum!) She decided she wanted to try them, and they were pretty cheap, so I got a packet.

Carrot Eyesight: I chopped up the green beans to be eyelashes, and in hindsight, should have stood them upright. Ah well. Several large carrot coins, stacked into two piles, with olive slice irises.

EyeFruity: The pick came from the a set with larger eyeball paper liners. The organic raspberries were the last good ones from our most recent CSA share, and I had to toss the rest. They did not hold up well, and wouldn't stay skewered. The organic apple slices came from a pre-sliced package from Costco. They last a long time, stay nice and crisp and white, and taste very sweet! And I don't have to cut them and slosh them in juice, which makes mine kind of slimy. I know it's a waste, with all the packaging and whatnot, but she loves these ones, and I love these ones, and the Costco ones come with more in each baggie (enough for four lunches) rather than in individual serving sizes.
My lunch: Trader Joe's Halloween JoeJoes (Oreos,) hummus,
peanut-butter-honey sandwich, purple cauliflower w/broccoli,
After pretending to be scared of the eyeballs, she actually enjoyed them. "Today isn't an eyeball theme!" she sassed, since usually I try and theme her lunches around something we're doing that day or for the lesson or activity planned at school. I love how quickly she's caught on to how I choose themes normally, as well as knowing what's coming up at school!
She ate both sandwich balls, all the carrots and olive slices, the apples and some raspberries, and most of the cheese. She 'traded' me her fruit snacks for one of my cookies (I had packed three - one for her, two for me!) She then rearranged her leftovers into the silicone spider cups and told stories about why they were there. I was driving, and wasn't really paying attention (to her,) so I missed her food play.

I couldn't decide between naming this bento "Eye Spy" or "The Eyes Have It," so I let Z decide!
Bento Blog NetworkBento Lunch

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Harold and the Purple Crayon

Seattle Children's Theater has specially priced tickets for schools and homeschool groups, which I found out about through a friend who homeschools her kids. This season, there are a few fun plays/musicals for Z's age that they're doing, so I snagged tickets for all three shows. The first one was Harold and the Purple Crayon. Next up is A Year With Frog and Toad in November, then a bunch for older kids until The Hungry Caterpillar and Other Eric Carle Favorites in May.
Since the show started at 10:30, and she had her annual eye exam at 2, I figured we could eat lunch at the Seattle Centerhouse, or in the car, or outside (weather permitting.) I couldn't really figure out something to do with the Harold theme, short of custom cutting and drawing a sandwich - um, no thanks! I toyed with the idea of letting her loose with my purple food coloring pen, but the Wilton ones really don't write well - on anything. I also thought of including some purple cauliflower, but I knew she wouldn't eat it. And then I didn't end up making lunch the night before, so I had to toss something quick together that morning.
Top (her lunch): ham and cheese pita pockets, hummus, cheese
nibblets and CoJack scraps, peas w/carrots, 
grapes w/blueberries
Bottom (my lunch): bagel w/cream cheese, 
grapes w/blueberries,
Ranch, carrots and broccoli
The only thing I did to fancy up the lunch was to add a cute cocktail pick (from a vacu vin Snack Markers set.)
I chose this one because it looks like a
bunny - she loved it!
She'd never been to a play before. She's seen movies in the theater, and she's seen a few big shows, like Disney on Ice and Sesame Street Live! But no plays. My grandma used to get season tickets to SCT and ACT theaters and rotate which of my siblings and I got to go (based on age, interest, and whose turn it was to visit that particular weekend. I recall getting to go a LOT, but I was the oldest. And mostest awesomest. And I loved going.)
We got there after it had started (I know, I know. Big surprise - but it wasn't my fault this time!) The parking lot wouldn't take my debit card or credit card, and wouldn't take a $5. So after wasting precious minutes trying those a few times, I had to scrounge around for ten $1's. Gah! And then hand feed them in. One. By. One. That ate up the extra ten minutes I had planned to use to walk the few blocks (uphill! Huff puff!) to the theater. And then we came at the building from the wrong side and ended up walking 3/4ths of the way around before coming to the side door (the school performances entrance. Front door was locked.) Halfway up the first block my body started rebelling, since I'm not exactly in shape, and my pregnant body has the stamina of a yam.
So they let us in and take us up to seats in the very back. Z was upset that it had already started, and got super pissy when intermission started, thinking that it was all over. "I wanted to see ALL the parts!" She was mollified by getting to see more, and forgot all about getting there late.
It was interesting how they chose to do the whole thing. There was Harold (a big dude with a full head of hair,) and two 'narrators' who sang with him, moved and interacted with props, and did all the animal puppets.
Harold, with one narrator 'attacking' with the pirate,
and the other steering the boat.
I was worried that the ladies being there holding the props would be confusing for Z, but after asking me who they were when we initially got there (no clue, at that point!) she seemed to understand that they were kind of in the background. And that THIS Harold had hair!
To mimic the magic crayon, they had backgrounds that were screens and they projected the lines onto them as he drew. Sometimes the backdrops would have bits that unfolded or popped open to make the rest of a tree, say. Or a door. Or he would draw something and then pull out a 3-D version of it from behind the screen, or one of the narrators would bring it to life. It was really quite clever, and Z was totally convinced that he had a magic crayon.

After the show, she decided to go eat in the Center House ("What's a center house?") The tables were packed, from all the school groups, but we managed to find a place to eat.
Look at that freshly-washed hair!
Farrah Fawcett, eat your heart out!
She ate her carrots, grapes and sandwiches. And some of the cheese. She did end up eating one of the pea pods with surprisingly large peas inside, but had me eat the rest. And no hummus. I ate that too.

After the eye doctor, it was the perfect opportunity to read Harold and the Purple Crayon together. It's a fun story, but the Mommy in me just wants to tell that kid to GO TO BED already! :)

Shibley Smiles

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Priest and a Kohlrabi Walk Into a Bar...

While trying to figure out what on earth a kohlrabi was what to do with the kohlrabi we got in our CSA share, I came across this recipe, for what looks essentially like Parmesan-kohlrabi fries. It looked yummy and easy enough for me, so I flagged it. But when reading the comments, I was intrigued by an alteration, where she added ham, carrots and potatoes and baked them together in a casserole dish (rather than spread out on a baking sheet.) I decided that ham and potatoes would make it more of a meal than a side, and so decided to try it that way instead. With some last-minute alterations of my own...

Roasted Kohlrabi-Veggie-Ham Casserole (or, Random CSA Vegetable-Ham Casserole)
2 kohlrabi
2 large potatoes (roughly 1lb)
1 head cauliflower
2 c diced ham
2-3 tsp minced garlic (roughly 2-3 cloves)
1-2 carrots
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp Italian seasoning (or seasoning of choice)
1 tsp each salt and pepper (add more or less, based on your tastes)
1/4 c (or less) grated or powdered Parmesan cheese
Potatoes, cauliflower, alien babies kohlrabi, carrots
Preheat oven to 450 F.
Step 1: Prepare veggies.
Peel kohlrabi (optional - I did) and cut into desired form. I used a mandolin to slice thinly, or you could dice into cubes, or into fries. It's very hard to cut through, so I would have used a knife rather than the mandolin if I didn't have one with a safety slider on it to protect my fingers.
Peel potatoes (optional - I didn't) and cube or cut into short fries.
Peel carrots (optional - I didn't) and cut into coins or desired shape.
Chop cauliflower florets into desired size. I went for bite-sized. I also added in some slices of the stems. (As you can see, I used purple cauliflower. It had weird blackish spots on the tops, so I used my knife to shave those off first.)

Step 2: In large bowl, combine olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and seasoning. Add in cut veggies and toss to coat.

Step 3: Combine veggie mixture and ham cubes in large casserole dish. Bake at 450 F for 25-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

Step 4: After 25-30 minutes of cooking time (and stirring one last time,) add Parmesan cheese over the top. (I added less than 1/4th cup.) May leave on top or mix in, as desired. (I mixed it in.) Cook 5 more minutes to brown.
I was worried that the cauliflower would either get mushy or burnt cooking that long, since the potatoes were still too raw for me after 20-minutes, but it all came out okay. You may not need to do all that stirring, but I prefer crispy to mushy, and figured it'd have a better chance to crisp if I stirred it up. If you prefer mushy/casserole-y, you could probably cover the whole thing and leave it alone, but cook it for less time.

Instead of kohlrabi (and cauliflower, for that matter,) you could add more potatoes, and/or sub in some small broccoli florets/coined stem bits. Another option would be to add grated cheese (Colby Jack, cheddar, whatever your preference) instead of or on top of the Parmesan.
The ham and Parmesan added enough salt you could easily use less to no table salt in the olive oil mixture.
If you leave out the ham, or substitute tofu (maybe add it later during the cooking process? I know nothing about cooking tofu,) this would make a very tasty vegetarian/vegan dish as well. (Obviously you'd leave out the cheese or use soy cheese or something. I don't know a lot about vegetarianism either.)

I liked it okay. Would prefer it without the cauliflower. But cauliflower is so mild it didn't ruin the flavor or anything. I just really liked the ham and potatoes part, and it was very cauliflower-heavy, since I used an entire large head. The kohlrabi and carrots weren't prevalent enough to annoy me. Very glad I decided to add the Italian seasoning. And it, with the ham, made the house smell divine!
Husband loved it. I'm not sure how much of his raving about it was to motivate me to cook again more regularly, but he had seconds.
Little Z wanted a tuna fish (and PICKLE!) sandwich instead, so I made her try one slice/chunk of each item. She liked the ham and potato, made no comment about the carrot, and made "BLEAH!" and gagging noises for 5 minutes after eating the kohlrabi and cauliflower (together as one bite.)

Update: After hounding Unka Seesee incessantly online so he'd be sure and try my food Unka Seesee got home from work (after Z's bedtime,) I buzzed out to the kitchen to catch him as he made his customary after-work meal. I practically shoved the container of leftovers at him suggested he try my veggie-ham casserole. He's been our primary dinner cook for the past three years, until he got this new job, and a lot of his recipes are trial-and-error/"let's see if this works out" kind of recipes, which is what I've been doing these past few meals.
He said it was really good. SUCCESS! It's one thing for my husband to say he likes something (he directly benefits from me being motivated to cook again. And he might be anglin' to "get some" at some point.) It's another for Seesee, who plans to move out soon, and who might never see any leftovers by the time he gets home from his late shift anyway.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Our CSA Haul, Week 3: Ruta-whata?

Only one week left now on our CSA! Other than being totally overwhelmed with veggie bounty, making the drive down to Tacoma each week hasn't been a hardship. And since they've had raspberries each time (although I doubt we'll see any next week,) Z was happy to go. And she enjoyed perusing the selection and choosing some of the foods. I will probably try this again when their Summer share starts up again in 2012. If I'm actually cooking once in a while regularly by then...

left to right, top-to-bottom-ish: raspberries, rutabaga (peachy turnip-y thing,)
kohlrabi (purple alien baby,) pumpkin peppers (red lumpy freaks,) cabbage,
random freebie mini squash (yellow,) delicata squash (striped,) corn,
beets (purpley-red lumps,) onion, cauliflower, green tomatoes (lower left corner,)
potatoes, more beets, tomatillos (with papery 'wrappers')
For this week's share we got:
1lb potatoes (ie: 2)
1lb beets (they were kinda mushy, and my husband was allergic to beets as a kid, so I only took half.)
0.6lb tomatillos [groan]
0.6lb green tomatoes
1 rutabaga
1 onion
2 sweet pumpkin peppers
1 cabbage
1 kohlrabi
1 bunch greens (chose rainbow chard again, not pictured)
2 ears corn
1 bunch cauliflower (chose orange this time. Still have white and purple.)
1 container raspberries (on their last legs. Found a few moldy ones after we got them home.)
1 Delicata squash
3 seckle (or seckel, depending where you look on Google) pears (not pictured. SUPER tiny. Like, fig-sized.)

Still have from week 1:
1lb red potatoes (apparently they aren't good for fries, since I know he's made fries, and they're still here!)
some carrots
some romaine (maybe it's no longer good)
some rainbow chard (might not be good anymore)
purple cauliflower (purchased, not part of CSA share)

Still have from week 2:
most, if not all, of the carrots
green beans
1lb potato
pears. Although my husband may have eaten one/them. There's just too much stuff in our 'fruit bowl' to bother digging through to double check.
jalapeno pepper (started out dark green, turned orangey-red over the weekend!)
purple bell pepper
green tomato (turned orange over the weekend)
cauliflower (white)
mystery head of lettuce
mystery greens bunch

The carrots, broccoli, and potatoes should be good for a while, although I found a recipe for mashed rutabaga and potato that I think I'll try. I'm going to try and make radish chips for Unka Seesee before they go bad, and eggplant fries look easy and yummy. There's a baked kohlrabi recipe that looks doable, and will also use up some more of our prepared-for-Armageddon potato stash (if I try the altered recipe in the comments.)

I've never been a huge fan of cauliflower, and prefer raw to cooked (for most veggies, actually,) but I might try this recipe and use all 3 colors. Z loves when I get the noodles that are 3 colors (regular, tomato-reddish and spinach greenish) and calls them 'rainbow noodles. So she might go for trying some 'rainbow cauliflower.'

I was at a loss for using the beets, since I know nothing about them or how they even taste, really. But I found a beet-blueberry muffin recipe that might be fun to try. Most of the recipes I found were either just beets as a side, or recipes fancier than I'm interested in trying.

Cookery-blogger-friend Morgana suggested fried green tomatoes when I got my tomatillos that first week, so I think I'll give them a shot with the actual green tomatoes I have now. Maybe also the tomatillos we just got, but maybe hubby can make chili again, and use up that jalapeno too!

And I found a simple-looking recipe for the delicata squash that I think I can do. We keep buying various squashes (squashi?) and not cooking them, so maybe it's time. Z loves sweet potato stuff and pumpkin stuff, so she'll probably enjoy most squash items as well. I have a Pavlovian aversion to them, since for some reason as a child, whenever I would have sweet potato, yam or squash (especially spaghetti squash,) the very last mouthful would kick in my gag reflex and I'd sit there and have a couple of dry heaves before I could finish the last bite. I'm okay now with sweet potato chips and fries, and when Seesee cooks them up into thick coins, but haven't really eaten any squash lately. Mostly not interested in finding out if I'll still react the same way. Now that I'm all growed up, I understand that it's probably a sensory issue, and probably was related to the slimy/mushy texture or something. But as a child, squash and yams were my arch-nemesis. And that last gagful bite was the only barrier between me and my dessert.

I know these recipes are all mostly sides, since I chose recipes based on laziness ease and lowest number of fancy ingredients. So now I'll have to figure out what to do about making DINNER too... maybe I'll just take baby steps and order a pizza to go with our eggplant fries, or whatever. The thought of trying to cram in just these recipes in the upcoming week has me reaching for my current book and crawling under the covers. [Just finished the Hunger Games trilogy (which I started on Saturday. Finished by Tuesday. Seriously. They're THAT good!) and The Help, and now on a random book pulled out of my Half-Price Books $1-section emergency stash. Yeah. I read a lot.] I can't even picture trying to coordinate an entire meal all at once. I think my brain would just clock out.
On the 'plus' side, I just found out at my 28-week appointment that my iron levels are lower than they were at the beginning of my pregnancy, when they put me on an iron supplement (I get the generic time-release one. Seriously, SO much better, if iron makes you nauseous.) So even while taking a supplement my levels went down. Which explains my constant state of fatigue. Now I'm on twice a day. But I can now use not only the general facts that I am being drained of nutrients to create a new life and that normal everyday activities are harder to do than before, but also that I have a specific mineral deficiency that explains my lack of willingness/ability to do anything around the house the past several years 6 months. But I've been feeling bad, knowing that I really should be doing something - clean something, blog something, make a fancy lunch, whatever - and still turning around and staring blankly at my computer, or curling up with a book and shutting out the world (once my hubby's home. I still pay attention to the Podling until then. Most days.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Little Clicks - Pumpkin Patch Pix

Our second trip to the pumpkin patch was kind of tough. We had to get up early to get to the school on time, since they were combining the AM and PM classes into one field trip. We chose the PM class because we are NOT good at getting up and ready in the morning! So I had to wake her up, which means we were already starting the day off on the wrong foot.
She did okay at the Kiddie Korral. At least, there was nothing that required my attention, since I don't remember any of it. But then... the corn box. Since this trip was two classes-worth of kids, it was twice as crowded in there. So she started bawling when kids would step on her "corn snow angel." *sigh* The hay maze went okay, but then she was upset again at the farm animal petting area, since it looked like the rabbit cage had been moved and was empty. So Meltdown City again. Even after I discovered that the rabbits were, in fact, in their cage. AND that the cage had been moved to make room for... A KITTEN! There was no consoling her... until I asked if she'd like to use my camera to take photos of the bunnies.
Since I had basically gotten all the 'good shots' our first trip here, I was happy to relinquish the camera to her. Plus it kept her hands off the animals, so we didn't have to wash and sanitize after.

She got one shot of the kitten before she was put back into her carrier.

And then many shots of her feet, backs of other kids' heads, and random bottoms.

When she finally got past the other kids to the rabbit cage, she took about a million shots of the rabbits...

...And then some!
Most of the rabbit pictures were of their bottoms, since she thought that was a hilarious joke. But she got in some good ones too.