How D’ya Like Them Apples? With Apple Crisps recipe

Tis the season to go apple picking.  Luckily we were only thinking pumpkins, but our friends reminded and invited us up to Gabriel Farm in Sebastopol.  We all had lots of fun.  I was expecting ladders and pickers to reach the trees, however we could all stand (even my 5 year old) to pick our own.  My husband was looking at them curiously and figured they must cut them in a certain way so they do not grow tall but out.  They also grow asian pears for sale, but not u-pick.  So all in all we bought 20 lbs of apples, plus another 5 of asian pears!  I know I was surprised too.  It’s just so fun and easy and of course each child wanted their own basket.  They do add up.

our apple haul

Luckily I had lots of ideas and recipes in mind….

First we made Apple Crisps…

 

apple crisps

Apple Crisps

(from Petit Appetit: Eat, Drink and Be Merry)

An alternative to boring potato chips, this simple treat satisfies a child’s need for crunch. Using a mandoline provides convenience and accurate cuts for even baking. However a careful, steady knife works as well. The apples crisp in the low heat, which dries out the moisture. Once in the oven these need no attention (just remember to turn off the oven overnight), until it’s time to pack them (or eat them) in the morning.

Makes about 48 apple crisps; 4 (12-chip) servings

2 tablespoons evaporated cane juice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 large organic apples such as Fuji or Braeburn

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Stir together evaporated cane juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl.

Using a mandoline or a steady hand and a knife, cut the apple vertically in to 1/8-inch-thick rounds. You do not need to core or peel the apple. The seeds will fall out or can easily be removed from apple slices after cutting.

Place apple slices on prepared baking sheets in a single layer and sprinkle with cinnamon mixture. Bake in the middle of the oven for 1½ hours. Rotate pans and cook for 1 hour more. Turn off heat and leave in the oven overnight if apples are not dry and crisp. Loosen chips with a spatula to remove from parchment paper.

Kids Korner

Shake it Up! The easiest way to lightly and evenly sprinkle sugars and spices is to transfer to a spice shaker. Having a specially marked shaker for cinnamon and sugar saves time when making other snacks such as cinnamon toast or spicing up plain yogurt. This is also a “neat” way to get children to help with decorating and flavoring tasks.

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Thank You Ms. Waters

Portrait for National Gallery

As many of you know last weekend was the 40th anniversary of Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, CA.  It is consistently ranked as one of the top 50 restaurants in the world.  Of course Chez Panisse was and is more than a restaurant.  It’s a place where a true pioneer Alice Waters, discovered and shared with Berkeley, California, and America about how simple slow cooking made with fresh ingredients grown locally, right out of the garden, benefits everyone and tastes best.  It seems so easy and obvious now, but not then.  Of course during the last 40 years Chez Panisse has been a spring board for not only a healthy eating philosophy but a spring board for hundreds of chefs and new restaurants.

Then of course there’s the Edible Schoolyard Project.  Where Ms. Waters planted a garden in Martin Luther King Middle School and turned it into a classroom (and now dining hall) for kids to learn about food, growing, cooking and community.  It has become a national and international model and curriculum for schools all over the world.

I can’t say enough about what she’s done and continues to do.  Neither can the National Gallery as her portrait (see above) will go there after being on display in Berkeley.  I got to see the portrait and experience what she’s built with the Edible Schoolyard Project last Saturday with my family as we attended the OpenEducation event where the Berkeley Art Museum was transformed into an open classroom and living kitchen.  There was a variety of “school” projects to highlight to the public what goes on in garden classrooms around the country thanks to Ms. Waters programs.  My family enjoyed fudge made from goat’s milk and saw the responsible goats.  My kids made a jar of pickles and tortillas.  We brought home seed bombs and lettuces.  We saw grain being ground by a bicycle.  And saw 5,000 honey bees in action.  It was a wonderful day to celebrate food, community and the power of teaching.  I was, and am, quite inspired.  Thank you Ms. Waters and Happy Birthday Chez Panisse!

Open Education Event
the bees
the goats
grinding grain with a bicycle

 

making pickles
making tortillas
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The Whole Foods Parking Lot – Hilarious

http://www.fogandsmog.com/whole-foods-parking-lot/

Check out this video by Fog and Smog about the Whole Foods parking lot in Santa Monica, CA.  It’s hilarious, and oh so true.  It does seem like the stores have become so popular it’s hectic to get in and out of the parking lot.  I have my own story about a Whole Foods parking lot in San Francisco as a few years ago I smashed my fender into a pole.  Yep.  I was backing out and heard a noise.  I thought I was running over a to-go container, only to look up and see my fender wrapped around the pole.  Yep, “It’s gettin’ real in the Whole Foods parking lot.”

A few of the best lines:

“You’re the most annoying dude I’ve ever seen, brah/ Could you please move? You’re right in front of the quinoa”

Everyon’es favorite line “…Pay my 80 bucks for six things and get the heck out…”

By the way Whole Foods likes it too.  See article on Today show here.

 

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Zuckerberg’s New Deal – If You Don’t Kill It, Don’t Eat It

First, let me tell you I am not a Facebook fan.  Just too much info for me.  I provide enough here.  You don’t want to know more and I don’t want to read more.  Anyways….

 

I am a fan of Mark Zuckerberg’s new eating program and that is to take responsibility for your food and know where it comes from.  Here’s what he said

“This year, my personal challenge is around being thankful for the food I have  to eat. I think many people forget that a living being has to die for you to eat  meat, so my goal revolves around not letting myself forget that and being  thankful for what I have. This year I’ve basically become a vegetarian since the  only meat I’m eating is from animals I’ve killed myself. So far, this has been a  good experience. I’m eating a lot healthier foods and I’ve learned a lot about  sustainable farming and raising of animals.

“I started thinking about this last year when I had a pig roast at my house.  A bunch of people told me that even though they loved eating pork, they really  didn’t want to think about the fact that the pig used to be alive. That just  seemed irresponsible to me. I don’t have an issue with anything people choose to  eat, but I do think they should take responsibility and be thankful for what  they eat rather than trying to ignore where it came from.”

Read more:  Zuckerberg eating meat he kills | San Francisco Business Times

This isn’t new, but it is brave.  Shows like “Kill It, Cook It, Eat It” show gueling tests of raising, killing and eating animals.  Some can do it, while others can’t.  Michael Pollen researched and wrote about the various ways animals are raised and killed for your dinner table in the Omnivore’s Dilemma.  He too killed his own meal.  But Mark Zuckerberg is commiting himself to eating only meat from animals he personally kills for an entire year.  It’s an interesting choice and responsibility and I’m sure one where most would quickly become vegetarian.

Coincidentally here’s the conversation my daughter and I had when she was being tucked in last night:

“I don’t want to eat animals.”  she said.

“That’s fine.  It shouldn’t be too hard for you.  We’re eating more vegetarian and vegan meals like Aunt Christy, and if you don’t want to eat meat when we’re having it, that’s fine.  But you also need to know what you won’t be able to eat”, I said.

“Like what?  I already don’t eat chicken and steak.  And I only like vegan hot dogs,” she proclaimed.

“What about bacon?” I asked.

“Bacon comes from an animal?  Which one?” she asked.

I answered, “A pig”.

She started laughing in disbelief.  Then said “Turkey bacon comes from a pig?!”

I then laughed and said, “Turkey bacon comes from a turkey.  But bacon you like in a restaurant comes from a pig.”

“Oh, ” she said.

The conversation ended there.  She doesn’t have bacon often, but she does like it.  Not sure what will happen next.  We had chicken left-overs and grilled veggies turned into burritos tonight for dinner.  She skipped meat and went bean, veggies and cheese only.  I’ll keep you posted on her eating habits.

And I’m sure Mr. Zuckerman will too.

(Funny it was a pig that got both my daughter and Zuckerman thinking…but in opposite directions)

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Someone’s in the Salad…

This is for all those who don’t wash their produce….

My son’s school has an amazing garden with fruit trees, herbs, veggies, and even chickens.  Last week my son’s class was able to pick and bring home a bag of assorted greens.  When we got home we put the bag in the fridge.  I was quite surprised that evening, when I opened the bag to wash the lettuces and found a few hitchhikers…slugs and snails.  I thought the kids would be bothered and not eat the lettuce, but I was wrong.  We relocated the critters and washed (and washed again) the leaves to look for any other visitors.  Finally we spun it in the salad spinner.  Even in the spinner we saw one last tiny slug.

Note the round object on inside of bag
escargot anyone?

My son was proud of his lettuce and we enjoyed a tasty salad together.

Now of course if you buy your lettuce at the supermarket, it is unlikley you’ll have slugs and snails.  However it is still possible to have their feces.  So remember to wash and spin no matter if your lettuce comes right from the garden, picked at the farmer’s market or purcahsed at the grocery store.  (Yes, even that bagged salad should be washed)

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To Market To Market…What To Buy Where?

I thought these articles about what to buy at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods was very interesting and pretty true to my life.  Especially since these are my main markets.  Trader Joe’s for staples such as flatbread, crackers, cereal/oatmeal, baking supplies, cheeses (and of course orchids).  Whole Foods for well, whole foods (produce, meat, fish, specialty items). 

Take a look at these articles from Eating Well Magazine ….

Trader Joe’s

http://shine.yahoo.com/event/financiallyfit/what-foods-to-buy-and-what-to-skip-at-trader-joe-s-2450975/

Whole Foods

http://www.eatingwell.com/blogs/healthy_cooking/_4-healthy-food-deals-whole-foodsand-skip

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Dad’s Magic Chicken

My 4 1/2 year old hasn’t eaten chicken in 4 or 5 months.  She says she doesn’t like the flavor, although I think it’s more a texture thing.  She didn’t eat much turkey at Thanksgiving either.  Or maybe it’s because she adores her aunt, who is vegan.  She loves to ask “Can TT (Aunt Christy) eat ______?”  The other day is was “Can TT eat snow?”  Although when she says she’s vegan like her aunt, her brother is quick to remind her of all the lamb with mint jelly she likes to eat.

As you probably imagine, I do most of the cooking at our house.  Although my husband does most breakfasts (including weekend pancakes and waffles) and all outdoor cooking.  When the weather is nice you’ll find me inside as sous chef:  making side dishes and prepping veggies and meats for my husband to grill outside.  However sometimes my husband doesn’t wait for the weather to turn warm.  Last weekend he decided to make a new recipe for chicken from the How to Grill Cookbook.   We tried to remember the last time he made a new recipe from a book or even cracked this book (he’s had it about 7 or 8 years).  I was poking fun of him and told the kids he was making “Magic Chicken”.  It got them excited and it was such a hit, my daughter not only tried and loved it, but asked for more.  So much for her vegan ways (this week).  There’s always a tinge of jealousy from mom when dad comes in and makes a great meal (once a month) and gets lots of kudos.  (My son even said “This is the best chicken I’ve ever had!”).  I must admit it really was good.  Now I’m trying to come up with a “mom’s magic” something recipe to compete.  Or maybe I’ll step aside more meals, and suggest dad make more magic.

Dad’s Magic Chicken Marinade

(aka Chicken with Walnut Dill Pesto from How to Grill by Steven Raichlen)

makes enough for 6 – 8 pounds of chicken

1 bunch fresh dill, washed stemmed and chopped

1 bunch basil, washed, stemmed and chopped

5 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 cup walnut pieces

1/2 cup freshly grated romano cheese

2 strips lemon zest (1/2 by 2 inches)

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 teaspoon each coarse salt and black pepper, or more to taste

Place the dill, basil, garlic, walnut, cheese, and zest in food processor and process until very finely chopped.  With the machine running add the oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and 3/4 cup water.  Taste for seasoning (it should be highly seasoned). 

Marinate chicken for 2 hours or up to 12 hours, turning once or twice.  The longer the chicken marinates the richer the flavor.  Grill or cook marinated chicken as desired.

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Books Reviewed – Calling Parents and Geeks

I’ve been getting a steady stream of books and a few have stood out in terms of offering some good information, while also having recipes as well.  I wouldn’t call them cookbooks, but they are informative books about food.

Beter Food for Kids by Joanne Saab, RD and Daina Kalnins, MSC, RD (of Canada;s Hospital for Sick Children) is rich with information about nutrition for kids ages 2 to 10.  There’s everything from reading food labels, to how much vitamins and nutrients are in which foods, to food allergies and safe food handling practices.  This book also has quite a few recipes (over 200) for snacks, and mealtimes throughout the day.  The quinoa with broccoli and chocolate chip squares were well received at my house.  Note: The health standards are Canadian, not American.

Pros: Lots of quick and easy recipes and nutritional info for each.  Most information is presented clearly with helpful charts.  Great for parents with children with nutrition issues, and those who want a real guide about vitamins and nutrients.  I’m a sucker for books that advocate healthy eating habits for kids.

Cons: Dissappointed the book does not advocate for organics and takes a government line that food manufacturers are honest (“Manufacturers of food products cannot make claims about their products unless they are proven to be true” – maybe this is true in Canada, but not in the US).

Cooking for Geeks by Jeff Potter is a for those who want to know the how’s and why’s about food and cooking.  This is for someone who wants to go outside a recipe and create their own combinations, experiements and inventions in the kitchen.  Want to know the physiology of taste and smell?  Want to know the temperature when sugar carmelizes?  Anyone for molecular gastromomy?

Pros: Good for those with food science questions, who need more info than a cookbook.  Lots of recipes as examples to tips and experiments to test your new knowledge (and make good food).  Interesting interviews with food experts in many fields.  Good reference to have on hand, if have food question.

Cons: Not for everyone.  Small print and lots (sometimes too much) of information.  Wish the pictures were sometimes bigger or in color to stand out.  For this type of book, I prefer the simple layout and presentation of Harold McGee’s, On Food and Cooking.

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Tis the Season….Cookies and Milk

Tis the season (any reason really) to break out the cookie cutters.  I know I’ve told you I have quite a collection.  It still amazes me that every year I can still find one or two seasonal cutters I’m missing.  Today I bought a reindeer and a holly leaf.

my collection

We’ve had two cookie playdates so far in December and there’s lots more time and dough left.  I like to always make double batches so we can make some and freeze some.  You never know when you need a baking activity or a warm cookie.  Last week I made sugar cookies as well as gingerbread cookies.  I have to say that doubling my gingerbread dough was a bit of a challenge, especially for the motor on my KitchenAid mixer.  It’s just to dense and heavy for so much dough.  But we made it work.

For some playdates I prebake the cookies and just set up for icing and decoration and for others I have dough only, so kids can practice their rolling and cutting skills.  For the latest I did both, which actually worked well.  Some could be decorating while others are rolling and cutting.  Either way it’s lots of fun.  Just remember your patience and allow extra time for clean up.  Here’s some of our lovely creations.  My daughter is the one who uses too much icing and makes everything a “winter wonderland” (her words).  Notice I don’t limit the cutters to only holiday.  Kids can choose from all of them.  So you’ll see football players, next to candy canes, next to butterflies, etc.  They all taste great.  Of course a few got a bit dark, as my holiday music and children’s voices were a bit loud and I missed the timer.

the cookie playdate
"winter wonderland" cookies

So what goes best with cookies?  Milk, of course!  Lately my daughter has not been wanting the usual cow’s milk.  Perhaps my vegan sister’s influence?  My son loves milk – of all kinds.  So we’ve been trying more alternatives for my daughter – rice milk, soy milk, almond milk, etc.  She’s had them all in various flavors and combinations.  I always have non-fat organic cow’s milk and then another organic unsweetened variety such as soy and rice on hand depending on tastes and guests.  On occassion I buy the flavored (vanilla, chocolate) which work well in smoothies or for steamed milk.    (Secret – I like the vanilla in my oatmeal).  Anyways…we set up a little milk taste test for my kids to see if they could tell the difference.  They were quite good.  They picked out the cow’s, rice and almond, but were a bit stuck on the soy.  They also said it was their least favorite.  I was surprised, as they never complain about it.  We just learned of a new organic soy and almond version from Whole Foods, found in the refrigerated section.  They have a few flavors as well as unsweetened.  I’ve never found an organic almond milk, so I like this option.  Also I find it a much better texture than the shelf version I had been buying.  What’s at the bottom of those shelf stable cartons anyway?  Refrigerated just seems fresher.  For now my son will stick with his cow’s milk favorite (and almond and coconut for smoothies, as requested) and my daughter is enjoying the new organic unsweetened almond milk.  With or without cookies.  Who knows about next week. 

That gets me wondering…What kind of milk would Santa like?  Do you think he’s lactose intolerant?  Is he vegan?  I can’t wait to hear the discussion between my kids on which milk to leave out with Santa’s cookies.

the milk challenge
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Cookbook Review – Raw Food for Real People

I have to admit while I like a challenge in the kitchen sometimes I am indimidated by certain kinds of foods and cookbooks.  This was the case when I received Raw Foods for Real People; Living Vegan Food Made Simple by Rod Rotondi.  Raw foods are not new, it’s what most humans ate for centuries – nuts, fruits, vegetables, grains etc.  Basically whole foods not cooked above a certain temperature (118 F). 

My family eats vegetarian and even vegan sometimes, but when I think of raw I think of salads and veggies (good of course as a snack or on the side, but not a regular diet).  There is a thoughtful foreward for people like me that are not quite comfortable with the whole co cooking thing.  I mean I write cookbooks, not non-cookbooks.  He talks honestly about his road to raw (living and traveling all over the globe) as well as the health benefits and history of raw foods.

Of course I can do anything in moderation, which is Rod’s point.  He doesn’t necessarily set out to change everyone’s diet to raw, he’s giving the info and recipes and hopes you incorporate more raw food in your meals.  So I started off by making a few of the smoothies.  The Tropical whip with bananas, dates, pineapple and coconut milk was declared by my son as “the best smoothie I ever made”.  And we make a lot.  Some other things weren’t so off our usual like vegetable slaw and guacamole.  I made the Hale Kale salad to varying criticisms, but mostly a problem with texture (my daughter) and sour (my son).  I rather liked it and will experiment next time by adding tomatoes and olives and maybe feta, and less lemon juice. 

I like having this book in my collection.  It gives me some good inspiration and also rounds out my books to be something for everyone.  You never know when a raw enthusiast is coming to dinner.  And it may be the perfect gift for someone thinking about a diet change or in need of more healthy inspiration.

Pros: Healthy recipes and good diet information.  Some quick and easy such as dressings, salads and smoothies.  Using whole and organic foods, not only good for the body but for the environment as well.

Cons: Some recipes just too time consuming and not simple, such as soaking nuts to make “cheez” and require some unique pantry items such as “nama shoyu”.  Also can make more recipes if you have the right equipment such as a hydrator (I don’t have). 

And here’s a link to a TV interview / cooking demo (kale salad) that Rod did about the book when the hardcover came out last year:  http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=view_from_the_bay/food_wine&id=7077899
Note: the author is also a dad and has stuck to his prinicipals by feeding his daughter only raw foods – she’s 4.
(Hopefully he’s working on an interesting follow-up book once she starts going to school functions and birthday parties.  Those outside influences are tough.)
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