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The government would like all schools to be sustainable by 2020, and has produced guidance within an eight-doorway framework. SSS adheres to two of these doorways in particular; food and drink, and purchasing and waste. Schools can be sustainable through being model suppliers of healthy, sustainable food and drink; showing strong commitments to the environment; and maximising their use of local suppliers. SSS achieves this through increasing children’s awareness of where food comes from, food chains, and the processes used in growing, harvesting and food preparation.
SSS connects to the purchasing and waste doorway by carefully sourcing goods and services of high environmental and ethical standards that have been obtained from local sources where practicable. All of SSS’s materials for each book and accompanying pack compliment these principles.
2. Healthy Schools
In ten years the National Healthy Schools programme has become one of the country’s most widely embraced initiatives in schools. Schools need to satisfy criteria in the four core themes within the programme: Healthy eating, physical activity, PSHE, and emotional health and well-being.
SSS promotes inclusion through bringing together cross-curricular learning through an interactive approach. Children initially engage in a written and visual text, and have close links to ICT through the website extras. Connecting the imaginative seed-based characters with further learning opportunities brings an extra ‘real and meaningful’ experience to learning, and allows for children’s individual learning styles.
Activities such as growing seeds, or making recipes supports all areas of Healthy Schools and promotes positive emotional health and wellbeing so children can understand and express their feelings, build their confidence and emotional resilience, and therefore their capacity to learn.
3. Every Child Matters Agenda
Every Child Matters: Change for Children is a comprehensive approach to the well-being of children and young people from birth to age 19. The five outcomes for children and young people are: Be healthy, stay safe, enjoy and achieve through learning, make a positive contribution to society, and achieve economic well-being.
SSS encourages children to work together in more integrated and effective ways through growing, harvesting and cookery based activities that link with the central imaginative narratives of the stories. Children are learning and reflecting on their environment through a variety of creative and exciting cross-curricular links, and our fulfilling of outcomes of the Every Child Matters agenda.
4. Growing Schools Initiative
Growing schools promotes learning outside the classroom and has been founded in response to the government’s needs for children to have the chance to learn in new, more relevant and exciting ways. By having direct experiences of growing within the natural environment, this has been shown to be particularly effective in benefiting those who find classroom learning difficult.
SSS connects directly with this principle through developing children’s understanding of where food comes from and the role of farmers and growers, the interdependence of the urban and rural environments, and how and why we should care for the natural world.
I couldn’t have written a better script… J was off ill a few days ago and M stomped to school with fury all over her face.
“IT’S NOT FAIR! Why can’t I stay at home?”
The pavement (and my ears) got a fair bashing from M that morning, and before 9am I was already exhausted! But my book-fairy-godmother must have heard my exasperated cries for help; as if by magic the postman delivered…
Siblings Bill and Mary complain that when they get different things, life’s just not fair. Fortunately, the kids’ parents know about the It’s Not Fairy, who’s on a mission around the world to help sort out what’s wrong and right, but who also likes to eat those who complain a little too much.
Bill and Mary scoff at the idea of the It’s Not Fairy, but when they hear their parents complaining about life being unfair (for example, when Mum does all the housework and Dad just slouches in his chair), they are quick to remind their elders about her penchant for gobbling up grumblers.
When the parents produce their supposed trump card, “It’s up to us to say what’s FAIR!” the It’s Not Fairy can’t hold back any longer and makes an appearance to berate the family. She ask them to think about what really constitutes fairness and justice, and to see their gripes in a wider context. If they can’t do that, she threatens to bake them all in one big fairy cake.
In lesser hands this could be a pompous moral tale told with a big wagging finger hanging over the reader and listener, but Ros Asquith has brilliantly written a tremendously funny, (and, yes, useful!) story I can’t recommend enough. Everyone has fun poked at them, not only the parents, but even the It’s Not Fairy herself, reminding us that even though we’re not all perfect, and we do all complain from time to time, it’s ok to have a moan, and it’s even more ok to take a deep breath and remember the bigger picture.
A punchy way to start a more meaningful discussion about what is and isn’t fair, every primary school should have this book for use in classrooms. Every parent should have a copy too because it’s a gift – now when I get moans from the kids about things not being fair, I just remind them about the It’s Not Fairy, and a grumpy situation is turned round into one where we can laugh and actually talk about what we’re feeling.
It’s Not Fairy comes with a great recipe for baking your own It’s Not Fairy Cakes so of course we tried them out. For “Fairy Dust”, to sprinkle on the icing, we made
"True stuff doesn't have to be all solemn and serious and sedate," wrote Roz in her postlast week about humor in nonfiction picture books. If ever there was a biographical subject who was NOT solemn and sedate, it was Julia Child, who would have turned 100 this year. Serious is another matter, however.
Fun in the kitchen
On TV, Julia had a natural, relaxed attitude that belied her seriousness about French cooking. Of crucial importance were fresh, high-quality ingredients, prepared with classic techniques that had been developed over centuries. Fortunately, Julia's serious approach was always tempered by an earthy sense of humor. At heart an educator, she knew that learning goes down easiest when you're having fun. Above all, she would say, are the pleasures of sharing a delicious meal with family and friends. For Julia, relationships came first.
In my new picture book, Minette's Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat (Abrams), all these facets of America's most beloved chef and cookbook author are on the table. The challenge for me as an author was to find the right balance of seriousness and playfulness, and to do it in a way that kids would enjoy.
Flowers for Julia Child's 80th birthday party, complete with kitchen whisk.
A Julia fan since childhood, I'd wanted to write a book about her ever since we met when I designed the flowers for her 80th birthday party, at the Rainbow Room in New York. But I struggled to find a way to make the subject child-friendly. Would six-year-olds really be interested in fancy French food?
Then I learned that Julia got her first cat, Minette, when she and her husband Paul lived in Paris in the late 1940's. This fortunate French feline ate meals lovingly prepared by the future Queen of Cuisine. In return, Minette brought Julia little tokens of affection—in the form of fres
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When S was born I breastfed her diligently, mashed my own organic purees and prided myself on my brilliant parenting when she grew up to love her broccoli and kale, sardines and lentils - happy to try everything and always wanting seconds. E was fussier but also quite greedy so could usually be cajoled into eating her cucumber in exchange for a yoghurt. I used to think that she was a fussy eater because she didn't like tuna!
And then came D who hated my purees, rejected finger foods and would quite happily eat nothing but cornflakes (but only with added sugar). I can count the foods he will eat on one hand and he has never knowingly eaten a piece of fruit or a vegetable. And I don't mean, "He doesn't like fruit but will eat blueberries and bananas because every child likes those fruit" - he has never eaten a piece of fruit, never mind a pea or a carrot.
Yes, I've tried 'hiding' vegetables plus he picks his own on the allotment, he eats with other children, we do lots of cooking together, blah, blah, it never makes the slightest difference, he will retch if there is onion hidden in his pasta sauce. When I'm feeling particularly guilt-ridden I blend spinach into his pesto (one of his five foods - he is a true SW child <blush>) but most of the time I just give in and allow his plate of casserole to be replaced with peanut butter and toast, of which 90 per cent of his meals consist.
Therefore D's willingness to eat a new food is a cause for celebration in our house, especially if it's not a sweet. Ok, it's practically a cake - banana bread with chocolate chips - but it also contains lots of banana (fruit!), hopefully enough to stave off scurvy. And it's delicious - we made three last week and each one got eaten in a day.
Image: Adrienne Yong
I used the recipe from the Great British Book of Baking - I was a bit snobby about the book because of that annoying TV show (baking as a competitive sport is one of my irrational dislikes - Jane Brocket wrote a great post about this on her blog here) - but I've used it lots and every time the recipe has turned out great (unlike the error-ridden Hummingbird book). And if even D will eat it, it can't be too bad...
Hey! I’m Mingo Mung Bean the speediest sprout in Seed City! Mung Beans are ready to eat in just 3 days, let me share with you some of the hows and whys of sprouting beans and seeds.
You can make your own sprouting jar with a jam jar conversion kit – a piece of net and a rubber band. The book The Mighty Messenger starring me, Mingo Mung comes with Mung Beans, the jam jar conversion kit, instructions and a recipe.
This is what mung beans look like when they are ready to eat, shiny white skin like my face, curly bits like my hair and green shells.
Sprouting with Mingo Mung
So you sprouted your little pack of mung beans, how did you like them? Did you pop them in to your mouth as soon as they were ready? Or did you choose some delicious ingredients to mix them with in a stir fry? However you ate your mung beans, they aren’t the only things you can sprout, have a look in your store cupboard and see what else might sprout.
What else can you sprout?
I asked Shena to take a look in her kitchen cupboard, this is what she found…
Lentils sprout really easily and have a great flavour. You can also try peas and other beans like aduki, you may discover more mung beans, chick peas too. Have a go! Some beans can’t be eaten raw, kidney and black eye beans. If you are unsure as to whether a seed or bean can be eaten raw have a look here. Let us know what you sprout.
If you can not find anything in your store cupboard visit Secret Seed Society Shop there are variety packs of beans and seeds and gadgets so you can sprout for all the family.
Why should you sprout beans and seeds?
Inside every bean and seed is the secret to life. A seed contains so much goodness that it can grow into a whole plant, so seeds are very nutritious. The magic of seeds is that all that nutrition is locked away and preserved. Once you you sprout a seed you unlock it and your body can access that goodness easily and without the farting that beans that aren’t sprouted are famous for! Yes, no farting!
Beer and beef, wine and chocolate, butter and olive oil - all the good stuff is properly represented among the nominees for the annual James Beard Foundation awards, which are given to cookbook authors, food writers, and chefs in numerous categories. The nominees announced today include three of Amazon's Best Books of the Month picks from 2011, including Blood, Bones & Butter, chosen as one of our Best Books of the Year.
A Delicious Way to Bring your Favorite Stories to Life
When I was a child, I fell in love with a cookbook called Wild Foods. Just the idea of foraging the woods for berries and creating a delicious soup filled me with wonder. Years later, when my daughter was small, we discovered a lovely cookbook for dolls called Mudpies and Other Recipes. We lovingly prepared Wood Chip Dip, Dandelion Soufflé, and Rainspout Tea for her dolls. Cooking with children is such a wonderful way to spend time together. Within these superb cookbooks, you’ll recall your favorite stories and feast on mouth-watering dishes.
Your children will scream with delight when they read and recognize the many treats from Roald Dahl’s memorable books. Bunce’s Doughnuts! Bruce Bogtrotter’s Cake! Frobscottle! Both of these cookbooks are a great tribute to his nutty genius and were largely compiled by his widow Felicity after Dahl’s death. For adults, I recommend Memories with Food at Gipsy House and also Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights by Roald’s granddaughter Sophie. She has a new cookbook Very Fond of Food available from Random House in April. (Ages 8-11. Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) and Puffin)
This exquisite cookbook reminds us of the beauty of Burnett’s classic The Secret Garden and the magic of making things come to life. Mary’s rambling walks along the moors in the countryside with Dickon and their hard work in the garden stirs a great appetite for porridge, little sausage cakes, and jam roly
This year, for the first time, Little Dude asked me to MAKE the cake for his birthday party.
For a moment I sat, stunned. "You don't want me to get it from the bakery?"
"No, I want you to make me chocolate chip-cookie dough cupcakes. Because I love your baking the best." He flashed me a smile and dashed off to play Ninjago or Pokemon or some other game that involves teenish boy-men smacking each other with magical creatures or swords.
Because he loves my baking the best.
I was sunk.
Happily, I found that chocolate-chip-cookie-dough cupcakes are quite The Thing on the internet. I made my own with this mix of methods, with my very own mixed but tasty results:
1. I made the this "cookie dough stuffing" recipe for the middle and froze it overnight, which all the recipes seem to agree is critical. I went with an eggless recipe because I really didn't want all of Little Dude's friends to get food poisoning along with their rock-and-roll goody bags at the party.
2. I mixed up a boxed yellow cake mix and filled the cupcake tins. Then I plopped a dough ball in each. No need to cover it or otherwise mess with it. The cake will take care of it.
Now here's the first thing I wish I had done differently. I didn't have any boy-birthday-appropriate cupcake wrappers/papers: I only had Christmas ones. So I merrily sprayed the heck out of the pans and trusted that would work.
Wrong. I spent a lot of time and anxious energy trying to coax those cupcakes out of the pans. Thankfully, first graders don't really evaluate whether a cupcake is PERFECT before shoving it in their mouths. Husbands are a different story. They point out the raggedy sides. And then they shove the cupcake in their mouths.
But here was my second mistake: the recipe says to dump all of the confectioners sugar in at once, then blend. DO NOT MAKE THIS MISTAKE. The sugar went everywhere. Happily for me, my sweet and helpful mother was visiting. As she wiped away probably a half pound of sugar, she simply smiled and said, "you have never done anything halfway, my dear". Look, at left. She really did smile.
Blend the sugar in gradually. Little bits at a time. Or you'll wish you had listened to me.
So how were the cupcakes? Raggedy. Rich. Delicious. I would definitely make these again, so long as I had suitable cupcake wrappers. In fact I have some extra dough balls stashed in the freezer, just waiting for another opportunity to whip these up.
Little Dude's review: "They were really good, Mom. But I didn't like the frosting."
Me: "Oh. OK. Well, I won't freeze the leftovers to put in your school lunches, then."
Little Dude, panicked: "Wait, no, you can freeze them. I'd eat them for LUNCH." (As opposed to breakfast, I guess... not that we EVER have cake for breakfast in this house...)
So, you might want to consider vanilla frosting if you're making these for kids. But for grown-ups? Go whole-hog and do the dough frosting!
People are beginning to notice that big publishers are not really all that interested in authors or readers; they are interested in consolidating control of distribution channels so that the only participants in culture are creators who work for little or nothing and consumers who can only play if they can pay.
Barbara elegantly collapses into one sentence the last several years of the ebook wars and, even more importantly, identifies all stakeholders in the reading ecology: not just publishers and libraries, but authors and readers.
The Growing Crisis
Over the last year or so, there has been spluttering (sometimes from me) at individual publishers such as HarperCollins (they of “26 checkout” fame), distributor-packagers such as Overdrive, and of course, the idiot library administrators who sign contracts they obviously haven’t read, or they would never have entered into those agreements, right? (That spluttering definitely didn’t come from me, being one of those administrators.)
But Barbara is pointing out that while the problem has many moving parts, the entire reading ecology is at risk; we are, in her terms, in an “apocalypse.” It is really nothing less than an outright assault on fair use; the publishing-industrial complex won’t be happy until readers are paying, not just by the title, but by the page-turn.
Barbara and I have an interesting convergence: we are both librarians-authors-readers (except she can write entire books, while my attention span ends at the essay). By author, I mean (full disclosure: HUSTLE AHEAD!) non-industry writing, such as the forthcoming The Cassoulet Saved Our Marriage (Roost Books, Fall, 2012; edited by Lisa Catherine Harper and Caroline Grant), in which you will find my revised and republished essay, “Still Life on the Half-Shell” (first published in Gastronomica) about oysters, the locavore movement, and how I came to terms with life in Tallahassee. My essay includes exquisitely clear instructions on eating oysters Southern-style (complete with a photograph), making Cassoulet an obvious “must buy” for all library collections.
But my point isn’t about whether I am expecting to make a living from essays such as “Half-Shell.” My day job is my income; I can’t even remember if I am getting a small one-time payment, though I had such good editorial input from Lisa and Caroline that the revision process was its own mini-post-grad workshop, and I have a food essay floating out there that is significantly better for the lessons learned for “Half-Shell.”
My point is that it’s important, both ethically and strategically, for advocates of the right to read to understand that creators should have the option and the right to make a living from their creations, and that our advocacy, right now, at this moment in history, is crucial to ensure that right.
It’s also the reader’s right to support creators, which they can do either directly (buy my book!) or indirectly (fund libraries, and they will buy my book). Some of us in society will “buy” books, by way of funding libraries, that we never read ourselves or that we choose to purchase on our own, but we understand that the town pump benefits everyone — a take on the world that is less popular in certain circles, but only underscores our value to society.
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3:00 am on a Saturday morning—Granny in her nightclothes, repeats a welcoming ritual for our family. We’ve just arrived from Indiana to spend the weekend or a holiday. She and Grandpa knew we were coming.
Granny had prepared for our arrival with her usual comfort feast. She knew we’d be famished by the time we stepped through her door. To stave off those awkward growling sounds that would surely keep everyone awake for the rest of the night, she loaded the groaning board with a southern breakfast. It doesn’t seem to matter to her or Grandpa that by the time we finish eating, and unwind enough to go to sleep, they will be preparing for their farm day.
My brother and I sit at that big farm kitchen table, eyeing the platters, bowls, plates, and jars that she arranges down the center of the space. Medium platter supports three different types of fried eggs: hard, soft, and scrambled.
Her infamous small square biscuit pan sits on a handmade potholder near the homemade jams, jellies, and syrup for the golden brown pancakes hoarding their own personal bowl. Sausage patties, country ham, and leftovers from last night’s fried chicken hold court on a large platter on Dad’s end of the table.
Fresh coffee perfumes the room, aided by fresh milk, and rounds out the “impromptu” meal, along with real farm cream to use on cold cereal.
Yep, we’re down home. An hour later, family talk has dwindled enough to expose sleepy eyes and yawns. Bedtime has come at last.
If we’d come during the winter, those upstairs beds would act as ice cube trays waiting to be filled. The upstairs of that house had no heat of its own. Heck, the down stairs only had Warm-Morning stoves that could take wood or coal. Finances determined which fuel was used.
Mom and I would take one bed and Dad, with brother, would get the other one. There were so many of Granny’s homemade quilts on the beds that Mom would have to hold up the covers so that I could position myself. Once I was comfortable, she’d lower the bedclothes.
I had to be very certain of comfort in that position because once those quilts lowered; I wasn’t strong enough to shift my position under them. They were heavy and cold upon first entry to the bed. As a rule, I would try to put my back to my mom’s. Her body heat would keep me from becoming an ice cube until my own body heat took care of warming my space. Sleep was the only refuge until real heat came along.
In the summer, only those floor to ceiling windows gave relief from the sweltering upstairs heat. No quilts were required for that season. The fear then was melting into the feather beds.
Dawn and downstairs activity led to anxious dreams and disrupted, food-induced sleep. Grandpa had milking to do. Granny had to get lunch on the stove so that she could take a bit of socializing time once all the kin arrived for that meal. These things didn’t take care of themselves.
Throughout our visit, for however long it lasted, that lady of the South, cared for the feeding and comfort of her quests. She prided herself in always having enough for anyone who happened to drop by on any given day. No one left he home without taking a meal with them.
A weekend lunch would supply victuals for a minimum of sixteen to twenty people, depending on family sched
Just a few photos to give you the flavor of making these big, decadent babies:
You start with double-stuf Oreos and a cookie dough that has an especially high amount of flour (I'm guessing it keeps the dough from spreading too much).
Then you put a full scoop of dough on both the top and the bottom. Here's the progression: innocent Oreo, having no idea what's coming for it. Nervous Oreo, wearing a dough hat and pants, wondering where this could all be doing. And finally, enormous Matzoh-ball sized Oreo, fully enrobed in dough and regretting the day it ever ventured out from the supermarket.
I found it easiest to just take the scoops of dough between my palms, with the Oreo in the middle, and sort of just squish the dough all around the cookie.
Above, the deed has been done, much like Han Solo dunked in Carbonite.
And then finally, the cross-section of goodness:
You could make a meal out of one of these things. Or... maybe two of them. Or three, laden with both happiness and regret.
They really weren't hard to make and if you can get your kids interested in helping, they'd be a great family cooking project. Little Dude was only interested in CONSUMING them!
THE PRINCESS OF BORSCHT is about Ruthie, who is afraid that her beloved grandmother will die of starvation in the hospital, where she is temporarily bedridden with pneumonia. Grandma, who is a bit of a character, says borscht—beet soup—might prevent this starvation, and when Ruthie and her father (who thinks borscht is yucky) return to Grandma’s apartment, Ruthie searches for the recipe. All the busybody neighbors come by to help and order each other around. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking. Why is Ruthie a princess? You’ll have to read the book! It’s filled with royalty.
My grandmother, Sonia Broffman (nee Lerman), was a great cook. I remember her faux chopped liver, made from green beans and something (walnuts? Chime in.), and her chicken-in-a-pot. My mother was also a great cook, but she owned her own business and rarely had time to inhabit the kitchen. Not to worry; I always managed to eat and maintain my plumpness.
Though I myself am an only child, I have a whole lot of second cousins who are very proud of being descended from the seven Lerman brothers and sisters. Perhaps I wrote THE PRINCESS OF BORSCHT as an homage to the women in my family, though I’m not sure I knew what it was about until I read a few of the reviews. This is not uncommon with writers, by the way. We need readers!
I first drafted the story in a writing group many years ago. Bonnie Christensen, esteemed illustrator, joined the group and drew me a picture of Ruthie, which I loved to bits and which I treasure. We dreamed of doing the book together, and thanks to Neal Porter, we did! Bonnie included subtle tributes to her family, mine, and to Neal himself. Look carefully. She also messed up her kitchen by throwing borscht around to get the drips just right. Ah, research.
I don’t particularly like to cook, but I do love beets. I plant them every summer and watch them come up. Shortly thereafter they disappear. Is it the dog? A slug? Beetles? Mysterious forces from the universe? Then I go to the farmers’ market and buy some. Roasted, boiled, served in salad or in soup, they can’t be beat. The recipe on the back cover is only one of many possibilities.
Readers, I hope you like the book.
[Above, Bonnie throws borscht around (you can see her reflection). Photo by Bonnie Christensen]
On this Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful for my brother Richard. He died earlier this month. He loved his wife Val, his daughter Emily, and his birth family. He also loved acting, cooking, and laughing. Rich is the one in blue. His obituary follows. It does a good job of speaking about his life. Rich will be missed by many.
SOTTILE - Richard John, Thespian, 58, died Thursday at WaterviewNursing Center after a beautiful life & long struggle with Lewy BodyDementia. Dick was born in Jamaica NY & grew up in Lindenhurst in the househis father built. His interest in theater was piqued at Lindenhurst High &cultivated at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. His adventures included:experimental theater; cross country travel & fatherhood. He laughed easily;loved acting & reading; was a skilled baker & could cook up a mean potof chili. Rich was devoted to his parents Molly & Tony. He leaves behind:devoted daughter, Emily Valentine; beloved twin sister, care taker & life-longcompanion, Margie; brothers Tony, Joe & Bob; dear friends, cousins& in-laws; as well as his best friend (& former wife) Valerie Gene.Services will be held at Lindenhurst Funeral Home 424 S. Wellwood Ave.Lindenhurst, NY Saturday 11/12/11 2–6pm. In lieu of flowers please makedonations to LewyBody Dementia Association, 912 Killian Hill Rd. SW Lilburn, GA30047 www.lbda.org orthe SAGE Project www.sagesf.org
One of my New Year’s resolutions is to learn some new “more exciting” vegetable dishes, even if the kids won’t eat them. I figure more interesting veggies will mean more veggies eaten, at least for me (though hopefully my husband will eat them too). After all, nothing tastes very good if it’s just nuked in the microwave. And my kids tend to try new things when I’m eating them, especially if I don’t serve it to them or try to make them eat it.
So, I’m looking to one of my favorite blogs, 101 cookbooks, for inspiration, and for some reason her cauliflower recipes are just calling to me. Ha ha ha! No, but seriously, she makes cauliflower seem so delicious and fascinating.
I tried this recipe the other night, though I have to admit I did the lazy-I’m-not-going-to-the-grocery-store-again version with ginger paste (rather than fresh) and no chilis (not easy to find here), thinking the kids might eat it if it wasn’t too spicy. My six-year-old ate one bite after being bribed with a Skittle. She didn’t like it, but I’ll try again. The three-year-old wouldn’t touch it. I thought it was really good, though, and so did my husband. Since I had no chilis, I sprinkled a little red pepper flakes on top. I went really easy on the salt, but needed to add a little more. The difference between the slightly salted and properly salted versions was like, totally decent vs. totally delicous. I’m always trying to cut salt, but sometimes it’s necessary.
One thing that struck me about the recipe—–I had never thought of slicing cauliflower rather than cutting it in chunks. It’s so simple but really it makes the whole dish so much easier to cook and eat. So much more appealing, too.
I also finally broke down and bought Mark Bittman’s tome How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. It’s so huge (perfect e-book possibility, methinks,but it doesn’t seem to exist in that format), but chock full of good stuff to try. The author of 101 cookbooks, Heidi Swanson, has a book coming out in the spring—yay!
For those of you who religiously read our blog here, you know that I'm a foodie, through and through, and adore cooking. But, when I'm on deadline for a new book (25 days to be exact!) and lock myself into the writing cave, how do people get fed?
In fact, a friend on Facebook asked me, "how in the world do you write and cook?"
The answer is simple: Crock Pot.
(My carnitas that was muy excellente!)
Okay, I'll admit that I was slow to jump on the crock pot wagon. My ex never wanted me to get one because 1) he didn't want something plugged in and on all day while we were away, and, 2) he didn't believe it actually cooked the meat to a proper temperature. While I agree mostly with the first point, the second point couldn't be more incorrect. Crock pots totally cook the meat to a proper temperature. It just takes...time.
And when I'm in the blood fever of writing my book, time isn't necessarily on my side. I'm the world's biggest procrastinator, so I'm always working my tailfeathers off to get the book done...always on time. Writing RADIATE is no different.
With the crock pot, I can toss something together in the late morning or early afternoon and then when us night owls are ready to eat around 9-10-ish, voila...a complete meal. LIke last night's beef stew!
So...if you're working hard on a book and don't think you can get a decent, nutritional, hot meal on the table for your family? Think again. Try a crock pot...it's no...crock. LOL!
Leaves me more time to write...with the help of my two new muses, Madi and Boo.
Would love any recipes anyone would like to share! This is a whole new world for me.
The weather forecast for our area tomorrow includes the words "bitterly cold." UGH! I'm not looking forward to wind chills of -15 to -30. All this cold weather calls for some hot soup. Nothing hits the spot on a cold day like a steaming bowl of soup. No wonder January is National Soup Month -- it seems every day lately is a great day for a soup day!
Soup Day by Melissa Iwai. Henry Holt and Company (September 2010); ISBN 9780805090048; 32 pages Book Source: Advance Reader's Edition provided by publisher
On a cold, snowy winter day, a little girl and her mother visit the market to buy ingredients for a batch of vegetable soup. When they return home they make the soup together. The little girl helps out by cutting some of the vegetables with a plastic knife, and she decides to add some alphabet pasta to the soup. After a little playtime fun, the little girl happily eats her yummy soup along with her mom and dad.
Where's your soup pot? Kids will want to help make their own batch of soup after reading this book. The colorful, collage illustrations and cute story perfectly depict the steps involved in preparing a batch of soup. Tailor made for little kids, the steps even involve a little counting, color and shape recognition, and pasta identification. Do you know what Pastina and Farfalle look like? -- You will! Plus, there's a recipe in the back of the book for the very same "Snowy Day Vegetable Soup" made by the mother and daughter. It's packed full of healthy veggies. There's no better way to get kids to eat their vegetables than having them help with the preparations, and it's fun to create memories in the kitchen by cooking together. All in all, it's a great cooking together book, a perfect read for a cold day. Even if you don't plan to cook a pot of soup on the stove, the heartwarming illustrations of the little girl with her steamy bowl of soup will warm you up on the inside.
Of course, we had to try out the soup recipe. Just like in the book, my kids counted and then cut the mushrooms and zucchini with a plastic knife. We even found some alphabet pasta to add to our batch. I like Iwai's suggestion to make the pasta separately. That way the kids can add as much alphabet pasta to their bowls as they want! The recipe is quite tasty (our photo does not do it justice), and we definitely plan to make more soon. Mmmmm ... we love soup day, too!
Now Playing -
I Will Survive by The Puppini Sisters
The other night, at 3am, while I was straining to concentrate on my PTCB studies, I decided that I needed a cookie. But not just any cookie. I needed the motivation that comes from a hot, crispy-chewy-scrumptious cookie that can only come from cooking the thing yourself. So I hopped over to AllRecipes and found a basic
Today is Friday the 13th, so it makes me think of lucky and unlucky things. Personally, I like this date; but I know some people are uncomfortable with it. So, in keeping with the unlucky theme, I am reminded of a recent article about a very unlucky phenomenon in the marine environment. A level of ecological success that has been very lucky for one fish turns out to be extremely unfortunate for many other creatures in the Caribbean Sea.
The beautiful lionfish, with its red-striped face and body and long dorsal spines, is a native of the Indian and Pacific oceans. But in recent years it has gotten into the Caribbean Sea. How? It is thought that just a few lionfish escaped from a smashed aquarium tank during a hurricane in Florida. Usually an animal that gets loose in an alien environment is at a disadvantage. But the stealthy lionfish is a clever hunter and a successful breeder, producing thousands of eggs every four days. A few lionfish were first spotted in the waters around the Bahamas in 2005. Within three years, they had taken over the reefs, experiencing a population explosion by eating many of the native fish species, as well as shrimps and crabs. Scientists have found that the lionfish can reduce a reef’s native population by 75 to 80 percent in just a matter of weeks -- very unlucky for the local inhabitants. The same problem is now happening around the Grand Cayman Islands as well.
Just why are the lionfish so lucky in their new environment? It appears that, unlike the local reef fish, the lionfish are not infested by parasitic worms. Without parasites or any local predators, their mortality is quite low. And they are voracious predators, able to consume up to 30 times their stomach volume! This has caused a problem for local tourism, since people dive on the reefs to see all the beautiful native fishes--only to see an abundance of lionfish. In addition, their venomous dorsal spines can deliver a painful sting, making them a potential danger to divers who come too close. They are also a threat to the local commercial fisheries, since they are eating up native species.
So, what can be done about this fish invasion? Scientists catching a few here and there have not had an impact on their increasing population. But now, unfortunately for the lionfish, the tables have turned and there is one local predator it does have to worry about. Quite recently it has been determined that the lionfish makes a very tasty dish for humans when fried with nice seasonings. And this is turning out to be lucky for local residents and tourists in the Caribbean. Now the fishermen, not just the scientists, are turning their sights on the not-so-lucky lionfish!
"Jam on biscuits, jam on toast, Jam is the thing that I like most. Jam is sticky, jam is sweet, Jam is tasty, jam's a treat -- Raspberry, strawberry, gooseberry, I'm very FOND ... OF ... JAM!" - Bread and Jam For Frances by Russell Hoban
After picking eight pounds of strawberries on Father's Day, I decided it was time we tried making a batch of strawberry jam. I called on the experts (my mom and grandma) for a little advice and decided to make the Sure-Jell cooked jam recipe found inside the box of Sure-Jell pectin. The recipe calls for 5 cups of crushed strawberries and 7 cups of sugar and makes a nice sized batch. My grandmother warned me that I should wear long sleeves and rubber gloves while boiling the jam on the stove because it tends to splatter. I felt a little silly wearing gloves while cooking but at least I didn't burn myself! I didn't can my batch but instead put the filled jars in the freezer after they cooled. It's been awhile since I've had homemade jam, and I had forgotten just how good it tastes! The jam is well worth the time and effort --- I am very FOND OF JAM (and so are my kids)!
Of course we enjoyed reading a few books while eating our yummy jam:
Jam Day by Barbara Joosse, illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully. Harper & Row (1987); ISBN 0060230967; 32 pages Book Source: Copy from public library
"Mama and Ben take turns squashing the berries with a potato masher. Then Grandmam pours the mashed berries, shiny and red, into a big kettle to boil into jam."
An extended family gathers together to cook up a batch of strawberry jam in Joosse's Jam Day. Ben travels with his mother by train and watches all the families on the train with longing. "Ben and Mama are just two," and he wishes his family was bigger, not just two. When he arrives at his grandparents' house for a "Jam Day" he joyfully realizes tha
Yvonne Pat Wright returned to live in the United Kingdom from Jamaica in 2006. She fulfilled her desire to write by taking a course in creative writing. From Spice to Eternity is her first book, and she has plans to follow this up with a sophomore book.
Hi Yvonne, Please tell everyone a little about yourself:
Yvonne: I was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and lived there for the first twenty years of my life. By the time I left to go to England, I was married and had two daughters. I matured in the UK and sometimes I feel I am more anglicised than Caribbean, but I cherish my Jamaican roots and will never relinquish them. I’ve worked in real estate, the world of media, radio and advertising.
I seem to shift bases in twenty to twenty-five year cycles. So it was the UK for twenty-five years, Jamaica for twenty years, and now the UK for the remainder of my life, I believe. A devout Christian, I teach Bible Studies and am a Lay Preacher.
When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?
Yvonne: I have always been a scribbler. In school I did a lot of essays. I remember, in boarding school, a group of us would gather round and I would read. In much later years, I did poems, none of which were published. I produced church magazines and ended up writing most of the copy when there were not enough submissions. From Spice to Eternity was my first attempt to do substantial writing, and because of the genesis, it had to be non-fiction. I can see myself moving into the biblical saga type novels, which is the plan for my second or third book.
When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?
Yvonne: In whatever sphere, my aim and goal for the reader, the listener, is to come away thinking that there is something better to be had and having a desire to obtain it.
Briefly tell us about your latest book.
Yvonne: From Spice to Eternity is probably part one of two parts. It is a collection of inspirational true life stories drawn from my life and the lives of family and friends. The theme for the story is based on the characteristic of a herb or spice, which is described at the beginning of each chapter. The story is rounded off with a delicious spicy or herby recipe.
Do you have a specific writing style? Preferred POV?
Yvonne: I think I prefer a limited POV, and I rather like to use the ‘show’ rather than the ‘tell’ style of writing.
How does your environment/upbringing colour your wrting?
Yvonne: So far, I have written from my experience and the environments that I am very familiar with. I am likely to always anchor on to a very familiar aspect of my environment or upbringing as I am very comfortable in that zone.
Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve even had.
The passion for both her cooking and her faith has allowed Yvonne Pat Wright to write a marvelous book that is both a cookbook and a devotional to God. Each of the forty-two recipes for cooking has an accompanying recipe for living a Christian life. The author first gives a description of an ingredient used in a cooking recipe. Not only are the ingredient’s uses given
Varon, Sara. 2011. Bake Sale. New York: First Second. (Advance Copy supplied by publisher)
Sara Varon, author of the acclaimed, Robot Dreams,has returned with Bake Sale, a story featuring Manhattan bakery owner, Cupcake, his best friend, Eggplant, and themes of friendship, determination, and self-determination.
With humor (imagine Cupcake and Eggplant in the Turkish Bath with Celery and Kosher Salt),
Whoa! Your wrapper is starting to peel!
Oh my gosh! That's so embarrassing! We'd better get going!
and with heartfelt expressiveness (Cupcake wistfully watches the band pass by, with Avocado taking his place on drums)
Sara Varon has given us another honest tale of friendship, though one with a cautionary note. We cannot have it all, and through our priorities, we determine what we will have.
Following the story is an illustrated chapter containing "Cupcake's Repertoire," and a delicious repertoire it is! Raspberry Squares, Brownies, Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting, Marzipan, Dog treats, and Peppermint Brownies.
(And oh, yeah, the illustrations of Madison Square Garden are spot on!)
I think I may be forming a favorable bias towards anything published by :01 (First Second). Their offerings are top-notch!
*spoiler alert* I should point out that both of my teenage girls enjoyed this book but expressed disappointment in not knowing the outcome of the Exotic Baked Goods Contest. As for me, I
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I was feeling domestic today so I retrieved the pumpkin from the freezer - I have a new crop coming in - and made pumpkin butter in my crockpot. The recipe I used called for apple juice. I used apple cider and my "pumpkin" butter tastes more like "apple" butter because of it. I used about ten cups of pumpkin puree to 1 cup of cider. You'd think that would balance out. Next time I will use water. The resulting apple/pumpkin butter is pretty tasty nonetheless.
I also decided to try making candied - or crystallized- ginger. Now that recipe called for a pound of ginger and a pound of sugar. I had half a pound of ginger so I halved the sugar. I did NOT halve the water. So I had to overcook the ginger to boil off the extra water.
The ginger has a very strong taste and is crispy but yummy. So I am happy. Life is a learning process.