Archive for July, 2010

That’s the Pits…Cherries I think

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

 

Around my house there are some amazing fruit trees that yield beautiful and sweet red and yellow fruits.  Does this mentionb of “fruit” sound vague?  Is it because we argue as to what they are.  They look like cherries, but they taste like plums.  They are growing all over the hills next to my house and at our local park.  Most people call them cherries, but everyone agrees they don’t taste like cherries.  Either way my kids and I love to pick and eat them.  Although we have to fight for the low hanging fruit as we have many neighborhood deer who get to them first.

Recently we went to a friends for a playdate and the mom offered a lovely bowl of pitted cherries.  My kids were amazed.  “Wow Mom! How come these don’t have pits?”  True I like a good kichen gadget, however I feel like the pitter is one that would just spoil everyone.  How often are we presented with pitted cherries?  And where’s the fun in spitting the pit if there’s simply a hole?

About a week after our playdate my daughter spotted this cute little gadget in a pretty little box.  I said o.k. to the “Cherry Chomper” as it looked like a fun summer afternoon project and it is extremely cute.  We tried it, but it just couldn’t get by on looks alone.  It removed almost the entire inside of the cherry.  There wasn’t much left to eat but skin.  My kids were dissappointed, but I said I’d try another pitter.

 

Enter a gun looking (unlock, load and fire) OXO cherry and olive pitter.  This works better, but certainly not as cute.  It makes a nice hole and leaves much of the flesh, but there is some juice spattering, despite the protective shield.  Plus the aftermath is quite gruesome looking. 

We’ll keep this one in case I need to do lots of cherries – a pie, a tart, etc. Actually it will inspire me.  However I like the plum-cherries right off the tree and I’m not toting around a cherry pitter down the trail.  After pitting a few cherries with the pitter my son said “You know mom.  We already have the best pitter…our mouths”.  Truer words never spoken.

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Sick Child? Guest Blog; Best Foods To Give During Recovery

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

This guest post is contributed by Shannon Wills, she writes on the topic of Physical Therapy Assistant Schools . She welcomes your comments at her email id: shannonwills23@gmail.com

The Best Foods for Your Child during Recovery from an Illness

It’s not an easy time when your child is ill or just recovering after an illness or disease. You’re stressed out from praying that their illness does not worsen and from caring for them when they’re down and out. But once your doctor certifies that your child is well on the way to recovery, you start to focus on how you can help speed up their journey to good health. Your child would have lost both strength and nutrition because of their illness, and your prime task is to ensure that they’re given the right kind of food to get them back to normal and fortify and strengthen their frail bodies.

Ask your doctor what you can and cannot feed your child because every illness has specific recovery rules. In general however, it’s best to:

  • Stick to foods that digest easily: Your child’s digestive system is delicate after an illness, especially if the illness was a prolonged one. So cook foods that are easy for them to digest and nutritious as well. Also, if your child is a fussy eater, make dishes that they enjoy instead of forcing them to eat foods that they don’t like. Come up with new recipes that look and taste good so that they’re tempted to eat and bolster their health.  
  • Give them plenty of fluids: Fluids are good when your child is recovering from an illness. If your child refuses to eat, soups and consommés are a good way to keep their strength up and provide them with nutrition. Ensure that they stay hydrated with water and fresh fruit juices.
  • Stay away from dairy products: Most parents think that milk is a necessity for their children to ensure nutrition and calcium. But when they’re recovering from an illness, it’s best to avoid dairy products because they’re gassy and hard to digest. 
  • Avoid fatty foods: Children love fast food like French fries and burgers, but when they’re just getting over an illness, it’s best to stick to home-cooked food that is wholesome and free of fat. Don’t allow them to indulge in chocolates and candy, eat salty and fried snacks, or fill up on aerated soft drinks that are loaded with sugar. Coax them into eating healthy fruits and vegetables and other food that is nutritious and healthy.

If your child has special needs and has to avoid certain food groups, consult your doctor for the best post recovery foods.

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Happy Birthday with Ghostly Good Cake Recipe

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

My children’s b-days are both in July.  (Actually mine is too, but who’s counting?)  There’s always a lot of gatherings and feasts as the various grandparents each come to celebrate.  Of course this also means birthday cakes.  I’ve talked about my cupcakes and cookies for birthday and my cakes at the half (birthday), but it was time to try someone’s else’s recipe.  Luckily we had been to the library and found a really great children’s book called “The Bake Shop Ghost” by Jacqueline K. Oghurn.

It’s the story of a baker named Cora Lee Merriwheather who ran a wonderful bakery and was relied upon by the town for all it’s cakes, pies and pastries.  Cora Lee dies and she haunts the bakery; scaring away all the new owners and sending them out the door in hysterics.  After the shop sits for years a pastry chef from a cruise ship, Miss. Annie Washington, settles in and has it out with ghost Merriwheather.  Annie asks the ghost what she wants and Cora Lee replies “Bake me a cake to fill me up and bring tears to my eyes, a cake like one that I might have baked but that no one ever made for me”.  Annie is stumped and makes hundreds of recipes from around the world but can’t  please the ghost for over a month.  Finally she figures out the thing that Cora Lee never got… a birthday cake with her name on it.  The ghost and Annie continue to get along and bake together (unbeknownst to the towns people, of course) , now for the Washington and Merriwheather Bake Shop. 

At the end of the book is a recipe for that birthday cake that my kids and I made to celebrate the birthdays.  It really is one of the best (for this world and beyond).

Ghost-Pleasing Chocolate Cake

This rich chocolate layer cake would satisfy the hunmgrioest ghost.  Is is adapted from my friend Luli Gray, a wionderful writer and baker, from a recipe published in Cook’s Illustrated magazine.  Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  Prepare two 8 or 9 inch round pans or one 13 x 9 inch pan, by lining the bottoms with parchment paper. 

In a Large Bowl Mix Together…

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups ll purpose flour, siften before measuring

3/4 cup cocoa

4 tablespoons buttermilk powder (available in supermarket baking sections)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

In a Medium Saucepan, melt over low heat (or you can use the microwave)…

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter

8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate

Remove from Heat and Add…

1 cup water

4 beaten eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until blended.  Pour evenly into prepared pans and bake on the middle rack of the oven about 30 -40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out with moist crumbs gathering to it.  Do not overbake.  Cool thoroughly on a rack before icing.

Easy Frosting

This frosting can also be tinted with food coloring for decoration or writing.

3 cups confectioner’s sugar

1/3 cup softened unsalted butter

1/4 cup water 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch salt

Combine all ingreidnets in a large bowl and beat until smooth.  If using an electric mixer, beat at low speed.  Add more sugar for stiffer frosting.

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A Visit to Nana’s Garden

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

I’m so proud of my parents.  My mom asked her gardener to pull up some lawn in their backyard and plant a vegetable garden.  Mind you it’s not that big – about 5 x 8, but there’s lot’s growing.  They’re growing tomatoes, carrots, squash, cucumber, peas and radishes.  Yes, lots and lots of radishes.

My mom was so excited to show my kids the garden on our visit last week.  And the kids had a great time watering the plants, and pulling up those radishes.  We also had them on salads and sliced them with butter and salt. 

My son shared a song with his grandparents he learned at school about growing a garden.  It’s so sweet and goes like this…

In by inch, row by row,

gtta make this garden grow.

All you need is a rake and a hoe,

and a piece of furtile ground.

Inch by inch, row by row,

someone bless these seeds I sow,

some one warm and from below,

til’ the rain comes tumbling down.

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