Friday, August 27, 2010

Feeding picky eaters


I have some tricks up my sleeve for getting picky eaters (of which my husband and daughter are the pickiest!) to eat their veggies.

In my experience, tucking the (offensive) vegetable in with meat and a starch works wonderfully. Seriously, this little discovery has changed our lives. We have a much broader diet these days. In the past, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, and even squash were on the list of banished veggies. We subsisted much of the time on carrots, peas, and beans.

No more. Last night’s dinner consisted of organic pasta, mild Italian sausage, and yes (gasp!) cauliflower. It certainly helps when the vegetable blends into the dish, as in the above photo. And, texture is a key here, too. You want the cauliflower to be tender enough that it isn’t offensive on the discriminating palate. A little butter never hurts either. Another key is to make the pieces very small. Even mash it if possible. Trust me, this works. We’ve also enjoyed some mashed acorn squash mixed in with some chicken and rice this week. No one was the wiser. (Mama smiles.)

Cauliflower is probably the easiest vegetable to start with. It has a mild flavor and blends in easily. Just steam it until tender, add a little butter, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Then, mash or finely chop it, and add it to your dish. You can also do the same with broccoli. For winter squash, cut it in half (or quarters depending on it’s size), scoop out the seeds, and rub the flesh with a little extra virgin olive oil and sea salt. Roast it in the oven @ 400 degrees F for about an hour or until tender. Then scoop out the flesh, mash it, and add it to your dish. YUM!

I’ve also been know to add finely shredded kale to spaghetti sauce. It doesn’t need to be steamed first. Super easy and delicious. The sauce will look like you went heavy on the herbs. Soups and stews are another great way to slip in noxious (to them) veggies. I’m not ashamed to admit I’m a sneaky chef. Good nutrition is important. It’s a priority around here.

Here’s one of our favorite easy recipes if you need a jumping off point:

Just be sure to chop the vegetables very finely at first. As your diners realize that they actually like their veggies, you can chop them more coarsely.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Another last…


It’s watermelon this time. I noticed today that the majority of my last few posts dealt with lasts.

The last of the tomatoes, the last bit of summer vacation, the last harvest.


Well, we enjoyed our last watermelon this week. And it was so very sweet and delicious!


With plenty of seeds for spitting… and saving.


I preserved them the way my Papa showed me how:

Let the seeds sit in a bowl of water until the seeds sink and the pulp floats.

Pour off the pulpy water and rinse the seeds.

Then, let them sit on a cloth until thoroughly dry.

I let mine sit on the counter for a few days before I transfer them to a labeled and dated envelope.


These are next year’s Sugar Baby Icebox Watermelons.

They certainly lived up to their name… Super sweet and small enough to fit in the fridge!

We all agreed that this was the perfect size watermelon for us. Perfect for the 3 of us (the hubs does not eat watermelon – I know, the horror!) to share on a hot summer afternoon.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The last heirloom tomatoes of the season


This has been a difficult gardening year for us. We’ve only had a few significant rainfalls all summer. Once a month just doesn’t cut the mustard in a large garden.

And the record breaking heat (in an area already known for tremendous heat and humidity) has made it nearly impossible to coax sustenance from the ground. But with lots and lots of watering, we were able to enjoy a few varieties of tomatoes, eggplants, okra, zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, an abundance of peppers, watermelon, cantaloupe, and lemon cucumbers. The corn was a complete and utter bust, but we did get a few peas and beans.


Knowing that this was it from my garden, I wanted to really taste the veggies. We actually enjoyed this meal a few weeks ago, but I haven’t forgotten how utterly delicious it was… I opted to roast the veggies right on top of chicken tenderloins with just a bit of EVOO, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper. I almost always choose the simple over the complicated. Popped in the oven for half an hour at 425 degrees amounted to absolute dinner perfection. I particularly enjoyed all the flavors together… Green Zebra, Cherokee Purple, Gold Medal, Jubilee Yellow, Homestead, and Brandywine tomatoes… eggplant… zucchini… yellow squash… Cajun bell peppers… Sigh.

There’s nothing quite like eating homegrown produce.

Friday, August 20, 2010



Well, school is off to a great start this year… Daniel is finishing his first full week of school today.

I’ve got to tell you, I have a feeling this is going to be a great year. That’s his teacher on the right up above.

She’s so full of love and wisdom where children are concerned – what a blessing!


It was her idea that we have a class picnic out here on the homestead, so that the newcomers could get to know everybody before school started.


What a fabulous idea! I could see some serious bonding going on out there.


And it gave us parents a chance to get to know each other outside of school.


We had such a good time that I’ve decided to make this a tradition.


The trampoline was a big hit…


The hammock was turned over a time or two…


Daniel, our resident fisherman, helped his friends with their fishing.


Did I mention the trampoline?


Yep. Big hit.


The girls were enamored with the hens, but afraid of them nonetheless. Sara Lynn to the rescue!


Looking back, I probably should have had a few rules where the trampoline was concerned…

But no injuries, so all is good.


I can’t believe that our summer vacation is officially over. Can’t. Believe. It.

I’m on the verge of planting my fall garden. Football season and cooler weather are just around the corner…

Hallelujah! I can’t take much more of this heat. Seriously, it’s the hottest summer we have on record.

Many, many days of 100+ degree days.

Come on over October…. I’ll be your best friend.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Summer’s last hurrah


Sorry I’ve been out of pocket lately. It couldn’t be helped. Both my kiddos start school next week, and we were busy soaking up that last little bit of summer. And yes, that’s OIL on our beach. I’m so sad. We chose to love it from afar this visit. They (massive tractors and cleaning crews) were coming through each night while we slept plowing up the dirty sand, but it didn’t help enough for me to let my precious littles play down there. A local water park came to the rescue.

To be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t have gone had I realized the oil was making landfall. I have MANY friends who said there was NO oil down there. I guess they expected to see oil slicks rolling in… It wasn’t like that because of the TOXIC dispersants BP used. And if you didn’t have a view like we did, you couldn’t even SEE the oil. I was shocked at the number of people frolicking in the gulf despite the MANY posted warnings. I just wish this had gotten the media attention it deserved. If I had known, I wouldn’t have gone. And hence, the lack of media coverage. Homage paid to the almighty dollar. So sad. God, help us. We know not what we do…