Brown Baggin’ It

Well, they launched.  They made it.  They walked out that door, onto the bus (with only a little hesitation on Ms. Picky Pants’ part) and they are off to first grade.   I can’t flippin’ believe it.  Just yesterday I was using a food mill to grind their kale casserole (yes, I’m serious) and now they will be sitting at desks instead of tables… Oy. Honestly, we had a fantastic summer and I will so miss spending time with my little peeps, but I would be flat out lying if I said I’m not ready for a little quiet time now and again, time to work the paid job without taking time away from them, time to plan a meal without being interrogated about it simultaneously.  There are advantages to the return to school.

Of all the chores associated with the daily school grind, I have to admit that lunch preparation is not my favorite.  Apparently it’s not just me.  I’ve noticed that there is a lot of anxiety about packing lunch and what our kiddos are eating at school (well deserved in my opinion), so I thought I’d through together a little compilation of suggestions that Bigg Sis and I have shared as regards packing lunch for the littlest humans in our life, bearing in mind of course that all of these suggestions also work for the bigger ones, you just may need a bigger boat, as it were. So – ready to feed all the travelers in your life an awesomely healthful lunch?  I knew you were.  Let’s take it in stages… Continue reading

Smoky Baba Ghanoush

I like vegetables a lot. And there are many, many vegetables that I like a lot. There are others that I will confess I have no use for (lima beans are at the top of this list – don’t judge). Then there is a category of vegetables that I have often disliked, but for some reason keep trying to find a way to love. Eggplant falls into this category. I did not care for it and yet the eggplant itself is so beautiful that I kept being drawn back to it. The deep purple skin gets me every time.  I’ve tried it a variety of ways, including the French classic ratatouille, and just couldn’t get anywhere with it. And then I found baba ghanoush.

It’s no secret to those of you who’ve been with us for a while that I am a fan of versatile condiments. I love turning on the food processor and then finding myself with a bowl full of yum that can serve as dip, spread, flavoring for veggie burger, spoon filler. You get the drift. Baba ghanoush makes eggplant work for me AND it serves beautifully in every nibbling and lunching application I throw at it.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately if you think about it, the store where I used to satisfy my baba ghanoush jones stopped selling it and so I was forced to venture out on my own. Who knew it would be so easy and so delicious freshly prepared and served with humble crackers and olives?  Ready to get your snack on? I usually am, and a veggie based dip sounds like just the ticket for my persistent munchies. Take a little dip; take a little dip; take a little dip with me.

Smoky Baba Ghanoush – method and starting point borrowed from The Joy of Cooking

      • 1 eggplant (mine was about 2 lbs, big and VERY purple, just beautiful)
      • 1 T tahini
      • 2 large cloves of garlic
      • 1/2 lemon juiced
      • 1 t salt
      • 1/8 t chipotle pepper powder (you could also use an actual pepper, but be VERY sparing, you’re going for the smokiness, not the heat, you could also use Liquid Smoke I imagine)

Preheat the oven to 400.  Poke holes all over the eggplant with a fork.  Roast the eggplant (and garlic cloves (skins on) in a roasting dish or on a baking sheet.  Take the garlic out after about 15 minutes.  Leave the eggplant in for about another 45.  You’re looking for very dark skin and more importantly, soft flesh.  Allow eggplant to cool to handle it.  Scoop the flesh of the eggplant away from the skin of the eggplant and place in a colander.  When all the eggplant is in the colander, press down with a spoon or other flat utensil to squeeze the extra water out of the eggplant.  The hard part is now over.  Throw all of this with the other ingredients into the food processor.  Blitz.  Place in lovely bowl and garnish with olives.  Serve to your generous mother who has been playing with your children for several hours… or to whomever you like.  Delish.

Eggplant drawing a big zero for you, but you are intrigued by my take on condiments?  We’ve got plenty to spread around….

Big Sis serves up some artichoke dip and white bean and greens spread to give sandwiches a kick.
Craving another Middle Eastern favorite? We’ve got hummus galore.
And last but not least, my perpetual favorite sunflower cheez spread.

Enabling the Lunch-able

My kid would give one of his Wii games to bring a ‘Lunchable’ to school.  He’s offered to pay for one with his own money!!

How did this happen?  Is it purely rebellion against the ‘healthwhack’ Mom?  He actually has fairly refined taste: eats a lot of things other kids won’t even try and when he eats junk food he is satisfied fairly quickly and does not overdo it.  He has been fairly well trained.  For now.  But there is something about the little box in a box with a little of this and a little of that.  You can put stuff together from the different pockets!  You can eat them in any order you want!  You will be the envy of all you survey!  Or at least of the pepperoni crowd. Continue reading