The Easiest Tomato Sauce EVER

Ahhh pasta-pizza-pasta-pizza-pasta-pizza-meatball sub (Yikes, did I say meatball sub?)  I actually do not like meatball subs, but as a diner and a mother, I LOVE pasta and homemade pizza.  They are both so kid-friendly, leave room for variety and the inclusion (and hiding) of numerous vegetables, and I am indeed grateful to the Chinese and Italians who brought these wonders into the culinary world.

My willingness to chop and chop and chop some more and stir and stir and stir some more is very high when it comes to pasta or pizza sauce.  But what if there were an easier way? Continue reading

A Recipe for Warm Weather Munching

As the farmers’ markets open and Spring begins to reveal all the luscious yum that can grow from the ground, my appetites invariably change in search of lighter fare.  Sure, soup is still good (especially if it’s cold), but all those lovely green things that are in season just need to get on my plate and get in mah belly.  I discovered on our recent road trip (much to my delight) that my children continue to prefer raw to cooked vegetables (“you know, Mommy, like we eat them at home, crunchy”) and so this weather-driven shift in the kitchen is a happy time for all of us.  Following this instinct has revealed a certain pattern in my cooking, a sort of formula, that seems to work for the whole family and that is endlessly malleable.  Because the ingredients can change, I’m going to call it…

The Varia-bowl

As is our practice here on the pantry, I’m now going to throw a series of general recommendations at you that when I follow them, result in dinner.  For a nutritious and delicious varia-bowl, prepare a grain or noodle, a marinated or cooked green, and chop several other veggies according to your preference.  I always add nuts for crunch and protein and usually either parsley or cilantro for some yum.  Add seasonings to complement the cooked veggie.  Easy, right?

In the picture you can see last night’s varia-bowl.  After a successful dinner at Big Sis’ house, my son was interested in experimenting more with rice noodles, and so this was the base for dinner.  You can see both the buckwheat and the black rice noodles peeking out from under all the green.  I then added spinach namul, chopped raw peppers, chopped snap peas, chopped cilantro, raw cashews, and soy sauce.  It was fabulous crunchy eating.  And everyone enjoyed it, not because everyone here loves each of those items, but because I served them like this. They call this “deconstructed” in high cuisine circles; I call it sanity when dining with twin 5 year olds.  Keeping all of the elements separate makes it much easier to accomodate the various preferences of my crew.  They know they will still be having plenty of veggies, but they can skip one of the them and the ones that they choose can sit on the plate without touching, as this seems to make them undesirable.

The varia-bowl is a lovely little formula, and with a little experimentation with flavor profiles, you can create an endless array of dishes that are the same only in their basic structure.  I began fooling with improvisational ethnic cooking using a chart in the back of Mollie Katzen’s The Enchanted Broccoli Forest.  If you have a copy or can pick one up at the library, this is a nice place to start to play with different spice and flavoring combinations.  Cooking Light does a summary that has more ethnic variety, but unlike Katzen’s, this list only focuses on spices, does not include vinegars and other flavorings that can be useful.  The flavor combinations I suggested when describing namuls can easily apply here as well.  Not sure what vegetables to try?  Open that fridge.  Start with what you’ve got and what you like.  Slap it on some quinoa, or some brown rice, some farro, or even some oatmeal (yes, many people eat oatmeal with savory foods).  It’s fast, it’s easy, and it’s endlessly varia-bowl.  Delish.

Home Again, Home Again

A total of 12 and a half hours in the car yesterday and we reached home sweet home at about 10:30 at night.  As lovely as our trip was, it is always nice to come home…  at least until you look at your seedlings…  Note to self: when recruiting assistance for seedling care, be sure to specify that you need help watering seedlings INSIDE not just those OUTSIDE of the house.  Mass tomato, lettuce, parley and cauliflower suicide here in central Maryland.  Why, oh why didn’t I set up my seedlings the way Big Sis recommended in an earlier post?  I just flat ran out of time.  Poo.  Between the drive and the vegetable massacre in the living room, I have to confess the zen that I had achieved (okay, for me, my own kind of spastic zen) during our visits in North Carolina and Tennessee took a bit of a beating.  My kind husband poured me a glass of wine and together we sipped and left the rumble of the road behind us.

Now, in the still of the afternoon, having begun to wash the copious laundry that results from these kinds of trips, and having returned to our “normal” life, I’ve had a moment to reflect on our trip and all that I learned.

1) If you want raw oatmeal, all you have to do is ask.  It dawned on me rather late in our Asheville stay that any establishment that serves oatmeal could likely provide me with the elements required for me to make a yummy big bowl breakfast, and that most of them would be more than happy to charge me for breakfast without having to actually cook me anything.  This really is a more generalizable lesson for me as I tend to fail to ask for things that I want, but let’s not get bogged down with my inner workings, shall we?

2) Reinforcement from other adults can make an overtired Real Food Mom’s life so much nicer.  Big Sis revealed that she was able to get my little angel to eat.  (As a side note, she really can be delightful, just not so often at the table.)  While I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I found it a little annoying that my daughter so readily consumed her food for my sister, I was delighted that someone else took on the task a few times and that there is now evidence that mealtimes CAN be easier.  My attitude can use some work – Big Sis has this relentlessly positive thing going that I could try on more effectively from time to time.  It was nice, too to have the reinforcement of watching another family eat the way we eat.  The assurance that it is indeed well-worth the effort (and the run-ins with my daughter) to continue on this path.  In order to best take advantage of Big Sis’s kale smoothie deception of two days ago, I prepared a less deceptive kale smoothie when mine returned from pre-K today.  They related the tale of the tricky green smoothie to their grandmother with much delight, and we all gulped down some kale smoothie goodness together.

5 YEAR OLDS LOVE KALE SMOOTHIE

  • about 2 cups of kale leaves
  • 2 bananas
  • about 1 peach worth of frozen peaches
  • fistful of frozen cherries
  • enough unsweetened almond milk to achieve blending

Mix in blender until desired texture is achieved.  Add ice cubes if your team prefers a more frozen style smoothie.  The cherries make it a bit brown rather than green, although when blending there was a moment when the top half inch was still pure green and it was deep pink below.  I was tempted to stop and serve it right then, and next time I may do that very thing.

3) Sometimes the only thing to do is to pull inside of your shell and roll with it…

This fellow was alongside a walking path we explored whilst touring about with Big Sis and fabulous nephew. He tolerated our presence for a surprisingly long time. When he’d had enough, he moved to the edge of the retaining wall…


We all watched, coaching him as a group: “No, don’t go to close to the edge.” “Don’t jump.” “WHAT is he doing?!” He reached the very edge, pulled in all of his bits, rocked the shell a bit and down he went. Tush over tea kettle and into the brush below. We were a little horrified. I was afraid he’d been hurt and that we had driven him to his end. We watched for a moment, and once we found him in the brush, we saw that he was, in fact, just fine. He moved on his merry way.


And so did we.

The Overt and Covert Nutrifying of Little People

I have so enjoyed the feel of little tiny hands in mine as we cross the street or step into the creek.  And my11 year old seemed to be influenced by the little ones to allow more physical contact than is generally deemed ‘cool.’

We also had some lovely food moments and learned / re-learned a couple of lessons about getting kids to eat what you want them to eat.

Children will often be more adventurous or willing with non-parental adults.  Little Sis’ daughter is quite picky but ate with much less fuss and whining when Little sis was not around and so I was directing the oral traffic.  The change in her behavior was a matter of degree and nothing to do with tactics or skills, she just didn’t push the envelope so far with the non-Mommy, especially when Mommy was not around for her to needle.

And of course little white lies are a wonderful thing.  I made a smoothie of
2 cups squashed down kale
1 mango
2 & 1/2 frozen bananas
about 1/2 cup fresh pineapple
and enough unsweetened almond milk to make it go.
Then I told the little people it was green because it was a ‘green mango smoothie.’  I even had a green-ish mango in the fruit bowl to demonstrate the green.  After they had declared the smoothie delicious and were well past halfway, I allowed my 11 year old to let them in on the other contributor of  ‘green=ness’.  They continued drinking and professed delight in the concept despite having fussed previously over green smoothies that were too green in color.  Ah yes, the things an aunt can get away with.

We have had similar experiences with my son seeming to be more flexible, reasonable and cheerful with other adults.  In fact Bro-in-Law helped with some ‘Tude problems during the visit!  Thanks!

And I’m going to take this opportunity to shamelessly self-promote (although it’s free, so maybe that’s okay) a couple of songs from a CD I’m working on of health songs for kids.  Having 5 year olds around and an upcoming performance at a festival on a Blackberry Farm has re-invigorated the project.  I thought the songs might be of use to you, or to folks you know who are trying to indoctrinate little people to eat Real Food.

Here are links to a couple of songs.

Real Food

Built for Motion

Hope they are fun and useful to some little people in your lives.  They’re gonna need all the help we can give to learn about Real Food and health.  It takes a healthy village….

Please let us know if you have any other ideas about teaching kids good eating habits!

2 Families = A Recipe for Variety

As some of you know, Little Sis is here visiting us in Middle Tennessee.  Yeah!  You’d think there’d be a whole lot of cooking and blogging going on… Sorry!  There HAVE been a whole lot of fun trips with kids and LOTS of talking going on instead.  However, there has been some eating going on as well, and where there’s eating … there’s cooking (at least around here)!  So with Little Sis’ clan set to arrive late afternoon on Bro-in-law’s birthday, I certainly had some cooking to do.

Now for the variety part of my title.   My fave Bro-in-law is a wonderful and trained cook, especially when it comes to cakes and pastry.  What to make for his birthday dessert?  On top of that consideration, my husband is going gluten-free, Little Sis is leaning heavily towards vegan-ism, her male twin is a meat lover and my 11 year old and Little Sis’ daughter are both pretty picky.  Plus, the only thing you can count on the picky twin to eat is bread.  Yikes!

Something for everyone was the only solution.

We started with crackers and olive tapenade copped from An Unrefined Vegan.  YUM!  Descriptions / recipes below for the rest of the menu!
Chicken soup
Asian noodle salad
Dosas
Almond Joy macaroons

The night before I had roasted a chicken after about 2 weeks with no meat.  That meant a carcass calling out for soup!  So I boiled the carcass with leek tops and swiss chard stems that I had in the freezer.  What a heavenly smell!  Picked the meat off the bones, chilled the broth to ease removal of some of the fat and then I added some Better Than  Boullion, celery, carrots, grape tomato halves, brown rice and finally baby spinach.  I think the most time consuming part of making soup is picking the carcass and that speeds up with practice.  The chicken was roasted with garlic and fresh rosemary sprigs in the cavity so those flavors were in the mix as well.

That satisfied the gluten-free contingent as well as Little Sis’ son who LOVES meat.  “Chicken!  Yeah!”  He said.

For an alternative dish I made a rice noodle salad.  Here is the recipe adapted from Mark Hyman’s Ultimate Metabolism cookbook.

Cashew Chicken Salad:
4 ounces dry rice noodles
Dressing:
1 Tbsp cashew butter (I used almond)
1 Tbsp. plain unseasoned rice vinegar (I used seasoned)
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp lime zest
Salad:
1 cup cooked diced chicken (I left this out – vegan contingent)
2 cups shredded Napa cabbage
2 sliced scallions
1 cup sliced carrots (I omitted these in favor of extra red pepper)
1/2 cup sliced red bell pepper
1 fresh orange cut into chunks (I used canned mandarins… shame on me!)
Cook noodles according to package directions.  When cool, cut into smaller pieces.
Mix dressing
Mix veggies and then mix everything
Then taste and if you think it needs more flavor or moisture you can add more rice vinegar and some sesame oil.  If you think it needs a little more zing add some Bragg’s or soy.

And then for a gluten free bread-like-substance, I decided to try Dosas.  I am embarrassed to say that I found this recipe on-line and did not note the website when I copied it into my recipe folder.  Apologies to the author!  This recipe is simple and could easily be amended and varied.  Plus I’ve had Bob’s Red Mill chickpea/fava bean flour in the pantry for a couple of months working up the gumption to try some gluten free baking.

Dosas:

1 cup chickpea flour
1/4 cup rice flour
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (I used this and this amount of cumin powder and it was not overly strong)
1 cup shredded zucchini

Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl.  Add water slowly and mix thoroughly.  Then add shredded zucchini, mixing it in. Heat up skillet until it is quite hot, add a small amount of olive oil and then add the dosa mixture, spreading it out like a bit flat pancake.  Flip it over when the first side is cooked.  I found that if the dosas are thick they are a little heavy and gummy, so try and thin with water and with spreading in the pan to make a thinner dosa.

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Dessert was coconut macaroons adapted from a recipe found on Snack Girl which I made less sweet.  They were pretty and VERY tasty.  Bordering on too sweet for me (can’t believe I just said that) so I really think the sugar could be cut a little more.  Here is the original with my changes in parentheses.

Almond Joy Macaroons Recipe

1/3 cup unsweetened crushed pineapple, well drained (I used fresh, chopped small)
1 3/4 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
1 cup sugar (I used 3/4 cup)
3/4 cup liquid or fresh egg whites (I used fresh)
1/4 cup all purpose flour (I meant to use rice flour but in a rushed moment used wheat – ooops!)
1/8 tsp salt (I used 1/4)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
nonstick pan spray (I did not use at all)
30 whole almonds
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Put first 6 ingredients into sauce pan on medium and cook, stirring constantly for 5 or 6 minutes until mixture resembles oatmeal.  Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

To bake: Preheat to 350 with rack in center.  I used parchment paper or you can use silicone mat or spray.
Scoop out Tbsp. size balls and arrange 1/2 inch apart.  They will not spread.  Press an almond into the top of each cookie.  Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  Rotate tray halfway through.  Cool completely, at least 1 hour.

Melt chocolate in double boiler or slowly and gently in microwave and  drizzle over the tops.

Will keep up to 1 week in container at room temp.  Dough can be made up to 2 weeks in advance.  These were very good and soft enough to shove a candle down into for singing Happy Birthday.  I had to quickly make a chocolate chia pudding because I absent-mindedly used whole wheat instead of my intended rice flour so my husband could have dessert as well.  Whew!  Then I was done and we ate.

Ahhh… lots of leftovers for our trip to the science center the next day, and everyone had at least one thing they wanted to eat… even the picky twin and the picky 11 year old.  Gotta love it.

Thank you, Thank You Sam I Am

Thank you, thank you Sam I am, because if it weren’t for my willingness to try zucchini again, I would never have been able to eat this for dinner last night. It is zuchinni manicotti from Laughing Seed* in Asheville, NC. It was unbelievable, fantastic, otherworldly. Really, really good. And the funny thing is that the “noodle” in this manicotti, as you may have guessed from the picture is simply very thinly sliced raw zuchinni. I do not like raw zucchini, Sam I am. I will not eat it in a boat. I will not eat it with a goat. I will not eat it and I’m not bashful; I will not eat eat it while I’m in Asheville…. Unless it’s this…. Holy Moly.

It was filled with what I believe was some sort of cashew cream and grated zucchini with pesto. Chunky marinara as a sauce, and drizzled basil infused olive oil. Olives on the plate and a basil garnish, as you can see. It was all raw and while not cold, not heated. I will not eat a cold squash dish; I will not eat it with a catfish. I will not eat it in the mountains; I will not eat it in the fountain… until this dish, which I fully intend to attempt to reproduce at home and will eat in a fountain to amuse you…

In the past, as you may have guessed, I have not been a fan of zucchini, and more recently while having conceded to eating cooked zucchini, I have specifically been an anti-fan of raw zucchini in any form. The interesting lesson for me over the years is that from time to time, one dish that can transform how we feel about a food that we have “always hated.”  I will try it Sam I am.  If you will leave me be, I will try it.  This has happened twice for me with the unlikely zucchini.

My relationship with zucchini began in a more modest preparation than the spectacular raw zucchini manicotti – a baby step that was a bit of a squash revelation for me. If you are not a zucchini fan, you may want to give it a go; if you are, try a new way. As I recall,l I read about this preparation in Cook’s Illustrated and it turned me on to zucchini – and helped me identify what I didn’t like about the veggie as usually cooked. It was the mush. I don’t like sliced sautéed squash because it gets too mushy. So here, we are, another way…

Grate Green Zucchini
I usually prepare at least three average sized zucchini at a time in this way to serve as a side dish. Wash the zukes, cut the ends off. Using the large side of a box grater, grate the little devils almost to the core. Do NOT grate the middle part with the seeds; this is where all the liquid is. Put grated zucchini into a fine strainer or sieve. Add a quarter teaspoon of salt and let sit for at least 15 minutes. Occasionally stir and press down to encourage the liquid to leave.  Give the zucchini one final (and thorough) press from the top. Remove to a towel and squeeze out as much remaining liquid as possible. Warm small amount of olive oil in pan on lower medium heat. Add zucchini to pan and sauté, stirring gently until the green from the skin becomes more vibrant and the flesh is slightly softer. Add salt and pepper to taste. I also like a little lemon with mine. We like ours as a simple side, but it also good mixed into any number of dishes, and added to sandwiches, tortillas, you know how we roll over here. Before you know it, you may be adding sautéed zukes to all kinds of things… and one day, you may even find yourself slicing some paper thin to wrap around some basil cream… Delish!

*For those of you interested in the restaurant, or in vegetarian and vegan cuisine specifically, we also ordered a fantastic seitan curry and the boy had a seitan and hempseed burger. My picky one was delighted to sample the pita pizza. We all enjoyed the dinner immensely, ate at a table outside in the 78 degree sunshine and relished our last evening in North Carolina.

Humble Pie and Hummus?!

When last we spoke, I was in a bit of a snit.  While I am happy to have shown you that I am a complex individual with an impressive range of emotions (for those of you who know me well, let’s keep it to a snicker here, shall we?), I would like to apologize for the road weary negativity that drove my last post.  A night of sleep (even with the pre-K snoring) did indeed make the difference.  In the morning I was able to find my big girl panties, put them on, and greet the new day.  Asheville is awesome.

While Daddy was busy at meetings, the squirts and I meandered over to the Western Carolina Nature Center.  Once we slowed down enough to allow the eighteen field trips that were there get a head start on us, we settled in for a tour of the local flora and fauna which included all manner of fox, wolves, bears (good gravy), cougars, bobcats, farm animals, LOTS of snakes (I tried to remain scientifically engaged and not shudder while the kids were looking), and MY personal favorite, the otters.  It was a lovely visit, and the fact that our earlier membership purchased at the Maryland Science Center got us in free just made it that much sweeter (shamelessly cheap, I am). I convinced the kids to walk the short nature loop with me, so Momma got some exercise, green spotting, and the kids had their first honeysuckle.  We ate a picnic lunch (of our car lunch leftovers) and it was glorious.  78 degrees and de-freakin’-vine.  There is something soft about North Carolina breezes that I have always loved.  And the hummus that we continue to rely on to fill in the meal gaps is SUCH a winner, that I thought I would share yet ANOTHER hummus recipe.  This one incorporates fresh herbs, and so I think it could be a really fun recipe to play with.

NAVY BEAN HERB HUMMUS – adapted from Dreena Burton’s White Bean Hummus in Eat, Drink and Be Vegan

  • 2 c cooked navy beans (cook until decidedly VERY soft, unless you like chunky hummus)
  • Juice of 1 small lemon
  • 2 T tahini (or other unsweetened nut butter)
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • ½ t mild (such as Dijon) mustard
  • ½ t sea salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • water as needed
  • 2 T chopped fresh thyme
  • ¼ c chopped fresh basil
  • 2 T chopped fresh parsley

Throw all ingredients except water and herbs in food processor.  Got to it until desired consistency, adding tablespoons of water as required to achieve your hummusy heart’s content.  Pause periodically to scrape the bowl so all of the beans get through the blades.  Add herbs at end and pulse a few times to blend without mutilating.  (Wow.  I may need to go get some right now.  Just talking about this one makes me hungry.  Serve with whole wheat pitas, crackers (like these homemade power houses on Angela Liddon’s site), or a fresh baguette.  Best enjoyed after fresh honeysuckle in a North Carolina breeze.  Delish.

A Singular Taste

I have a friend who brought me a bunch of wild ramps yesterday.  A lovely and generous thing to do as they were foraged by her son and are quite the rare delicacy.  They are an allium, a wild leek / onion sort of thing that is quite pretty to look at and NOT so pretty to smell… but on the other hand (or leaf), ramps probably find me wildly lacking in scent!  It’s all relative.

At any rate… she included some pages from the internet that suggested a pesto from the greens.  I chopped the leaves, tossed them in the Vita Mix with some olive oil, walnuts and a bit of salt – and lots of tamping later… I had a pesto for the brave of heart.

Tasting that very strong taste got me thinking about how I don’t always just taste ingredients.  I get so eager for the end product that I lose sight of the wonderful components.  And of course the expectations I have for how something will taste can definitely interfere with my ability to appreciate a new taste.  I know this is a BIG problem for my 11 year old.  We try to avoid enticing him to try things via comparisons with the familiar as that usually ends in failure : “It doesn’t taste like _____ at all!  I don’t care for it.”

Ruminating on single tastes, new tastes and expectations reminded me of the portion of our home Sunday morning service contributed by my son last weekend.  We are trying to find ways to be more aware and mindful and ‘in the moment,’ so he wanted us to touch some things with eyes closed, listen to some things with minds open and taste some singular things.  He looked in the frig and chose strawberry, apple, baby spinach, and kiwi.

I was quite surprised that he chose baby spinach and even more surprised when he himself pronounced the taste to be ‘pretty good’ and ‘kind of nutty’.  Interesting how differently we perceive things when the aim is to perceive them and not to judge them.  I, in a moment of bad role modeling, did not even try the kiwi because I knew it to be less than ripe and therefore quite tart which makes my right eyelid close and flutter and causes an expression that is an endless source of delight to my husband and son.  But I too was impressed with the flavor of each item.  I was interested by the complexity when I ate it with the sole intention of tasting it.

So what to do with the rest of the ramps?  How to taste the other parts of this unique gift?  Along with some asparagus and some Brussels sprouts, I cut a few of the bulbs in half and after drizzling all with just enough olive oil to prevent sticking, roasted them in the oven.

No salt, no pepper, just some veggies.  I appreciated their flavor and tried to eat them without asking what would make them better.  The ramps that were thin got a bit crispy and were very mild.  The thicker bulbs retained some of their pungency and were smushy and moist in the middle.  I enjoyed tasting them all and nourishing myself with this bare bones meal (served with Little Sis’ bean sprout namul).

On a good day I take the time to be grateful for the wonderful bounty around me… to see it, and smell it, and taste it and appreciate each single moment.

Sharing the Kudos

Little Sis and I are having such fun writing this blog!  It truly adds to the fun when we think someone is enjoying our blog or is learning something from little ol’ us.  We certainly have learned a lot from our fellow bloggers.  So as our friend Anna at oceannah has nominated us for a Liebster award, we would like to thank her…

Thanks Anna!  It’s great getting to know you through your wonderful blog about organic gardening in NY!  Little Sis and I do love all the gardening help we can get : )

And per protocol we are going to share 5 interesting details about ourselves and also nominate 5 up and coming blogs to also receive a Liebster award.  Liebster means favorite and here are some of our favorite up and coming blogs (blogs with less than 20o followers).  We will post on their sites to let them know they’ve been nominated.

And our nominees are…

the imagination muscle which presents wonderful photos of gardens, art and life

What Would Happen If?…. a wonderful blog following one woman’s journey from lover of comfort food to locavore and making them overlap

Hippie Itch  wherein a woman chronicles her quest to include more yoga, tree-hugging, animal loving, and DIY projects in a life with a desk job

Healthy Family Quest is full of wonderful recipes and advice from a healthy, mindful, vegetarian family.

and New Home Economics – in the author’s words “New Home Economics is where saving money and reducing my carbon footprint meet.  This is my journal of my family’s attempts to improve the health of our bodies and our planet, on a budget.”

Please visit these sites as they all have wonderful things to share!

And as for our interesting tidbits:

1) I used to torture Little Sis in the car by SAYING the lyrics to “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” over and over and over.

2) Little Sis and I don’t look very much alike but have similar laughs and many of the same facial expressions and gestures.  Sometimes we say the same thing at the same time and then often simultaneously say, “That was spooky.”

3) We both have been classroom teachers, me in elementary special education and Little Sis at the high schol level both in an upscale suburban school and an urban school for kids in trouble.

4) I’m kind of gross – I’m a nurse and enjoy bodily fluid and noise jokes, whereas Little Sis often stops me from sharing stories… “Wait!  Do I need to know ALL the details of this?”

5) Little Sis knits beautiful things including the poncho I am wearing in my profile pic.  Maybe she’ll teach me someday ; )

That’s it for the Liebster Award post.  We’ll be back today or tomorrow with more on our sisterly adventures with food, health, and fighting the good fight against poisoned ‘food.’

A Glass Half Fuller

A glass half fuller would say that we made it through a grueling day relatively unscathed, but I am disappointed that my careful planning…. okay obsessing did not prevent the oogie belly I have right now….  It happened like this…

The drive was long, but relatively uneventful.  Movie GORP was a huge hit – 100% approval, which doesn’t really happen at our house, ever.  The kids were strapped in and zombified until we took a break and made them go pee with us.  The “what a nice job you’re doing” mini chocolate was dispensed at 3 and we arrived at our destination 10 minutes before my husband’s meeting was due to begin.  It’s a good thing they’re nice in the South; we couldn’t even try to be impatient and DC Metro hustle-y.  We just would have felt like jerks, so we rolled with it and everything turned out just fine… until dinner.

While my hubby had his meeting, we explored the very posh playground at the hotel, or I should say the kids did and I researched where to take them tomorrow while poor Daddy has to work.  The kids started talking about bed at about 6 pm.  What is it about car trips that makes us so dang tired?  It’s not like we did ANYTHING but sit on our big behinds, but nevertheless they were pooped.  The parents had hoped to venture beyond the castle walls into the land of spectacular veggie packed restaurants in this beautiful town, but timing did NOT work in our favor.  My husband’s meeting ran long and the kids’ biological clocks ran short.

So the kids and I ended up at one of several hotel restaurants (the one you didn’t need a several days old reservation for) with the children practically eating their hair and nary a healthy food option in sight.  I still had car packed food, and in retrospect I should have just been mean and done a repeat on lunch (as it would have ultimately been the kinder choice), but I didn’t.  And so they ate chicken with some kind of breaded coating that the picky one had me remove for her in order to advance in the meal (no, I am not usually that accommodating).  They had fruit (the only redeeming characteristic) and of course the meal came with home-made kettle chips (way to read the fine print, MOM), which were, predictably, quite popular.   By the time Daddy’s meeting was over, the team had forfeited the game and was ready for the showers.

Mom and Dad’s dinner came up to join us.  I will not go into the problems I ran into there.  The restaurant is a fine establishment, although clearly not accustomed to accommodating my increasingly specific requirements.  And so I’ve spent most of the evening on my cell phone (as the reported wi-fi access doesn’t work from our room, where we are trapped listening to my son snore) researching the variety of options that exist outside of the castle walls.  I look forward to exploring this land where restaurateurs don’t see my particular brand of food snobbery as a difficulty but as an exciting avenue for culinary exploration.  Hello Asheville, I will meet the real you in the morning! (And I promise I will restore my glass half full lenses after I get a little shut eye.)