Would you prefer peas?

Me: Would you like some broccoli?

Samantha:  I don’t like broccoli.

Me: What do you like?  Besides cookies and candy.

Samantha: I like ice cream and cake.  And icing on cake.

My mom claims she gets it from her, and that she got it from her mother.  I think it’s time to start making some “nutritional” cookies.  😉 (= sneaky mommy face)

December 14, 2010

Homeschooling Journal:

Visited the Farmer’s Market and Whole Foods.  The girls are getting to meet lots of new vegetables since Craig has decided we’re going to try to eat as “raw” as possible.  Yesterday I brought in the last bell peppers from the garden and each of the girls ate a whole one like an apple.  (They were small.)  That made us really happy.  Lucy also was chewing on cabbage like a dinosaur.

This afternoon we went with the Justice Walking group to the nursing home and the girls got to watch us sing Christmas carols and talk to the residents.  Lucy barely said a word, but when we left she said she liked it and wanted to go again.

We also cleaned the living room and they played dress-up all evening.  I think that covers it.

A month in the life of the Bakers

Well, it’s been a while, hasn’t it?  Nearly a month, actually.  If you’re still checking, I’m impressed.  There has been a lot going on, including my going offline for weeks at a time and some serious writer’s block.  But here’s the update.

School ended, thank God.  Everyone survived.  Summer is hot, hot, hot.  There will be not trips to the zoo any time soon, membership or no.  The goal is for everyone to survive the summer.

We’ve been keeping busy.  I can’t actually remember what happened right after school got out, but we spent some time at Craig’s parents’ house (mostly in the pool) and then came back to spend a day canoeing with Theresa and her friend Paul, and then a day of rapid laundry and packing, and off to Bunkie.  For nine days.  If you don’t know where Bunkie is, it’s in central Louisiana, near Alexandria.  It does not have its own Wal-Mart.  That tells you how small it is.

So we were on the outskirts of Bunkie, LA, helping to facilitate a leadership retreat for some of the finest Catholic youth of the Baton Rouge and Lafayette Dioceses.  It was really good (I think there are some pictures attached in some way I don’t understand to Craig’s Facebook page…or maybe he can see them but not share them…I don’t know) and we had a lot of fun and great prayer experiences and spent time with wonderful people.  The down side was the ridiculous number of chiggers and mosquitoes (which I am still scratching) and the two poor baby sitters who were left with my attached baby most of the day.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  There’s only one danger with attachment parenting – they might actually become attached.  And Samantha definitely is.  So that was hard on Samantha, me, and the two patient young ladies who volunteered to spend their week watching the facilitators’ kids.

Also, the camp is run by the Department of Education, so we had school lunches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a week.  On the last night, vegetables were brought out as snacks.  I have never seen teenagers attack bell peppers and carrots, watermelon and cucumbers like that before.  The cookies were abandoned.  The granola bars, abandoned.  The Big Cheez-its were not abandoned, as they apparently complimented the vegetables.  This should tell you something about the nutritional content of school lunches.

[I have been told that the nutrition in school lunches “balances out” over the course of a week – sure, sometimes it’s pizza, but sometimes it’s meatloaf.  That only worked for our week if all the students were pregnant and needed 80 or so grams of protein a day, but only needed one serving of vegetables per day.  Over the course of the week we had corn twice and carrots (overcooked and drowned in sugar) once, plus the lettuce for hamburgers and tacos, which I don’t count.  I do not call eating French fries at least one meal a day balanced.  But I digress.]

So we were happy, after another two days at Craig’s parents’ house (for meetings and a youth group softball game – which we won!), to return to our garden and our kitchen.  We had pizza with chocolate bell peppers, a tomato, and basil and parsley all from the garden for dinner tonight.  We’ve also had two yellow squash now, a couple of other tomatoes (including a beautiful Cherokee), and delicious purple beans which have all been eaten raw.  There weren’t really enough of them to cook, anyway.  I have battled slugs in the squash/melon patch, and finally have plants large enough to survive their onslaught.  There are now beautiful yellow, black, and white caterpillars eating my dill plant, but the thing was taking over the garden, so I’m letting them go to it.  They don’t seem to be bothering anything else, and Stephen Locke says they make pretty butterflies, although he couldn’t remember which kind in particular.

Meanwhile, Lucy has taken to singing made-up songs with repetitive words, which is pretty funny, and she is writing beautiful letter “L”s and upside-down letter “U”s.  Samantha continues to learn new words to say, and to mimic whatever Lucy may be doing.  They both swim fearlessly with floaties now, which is great except we have to make sure Samantha doesn’t get near the pool without them, because she will jump in and expect to float.

In case you were wondering, the pooping on the potty seems to have been a fluke on all accounts.  There have been no repeat attempts.  Two steps forward, one step back.  Or something.

I have tried to update my reading list, but the plug-in is on the fritz, so that will have to wait.  I’m busy with several sewing, framing, and card-making projects, which will hopefully be posted when they are done and/or delivered.  There are pictures, I just have to sit down and put them up.  I should really get Craig to work on that part I guess…

So for the rest of the summer we have a week planned with my mom’s family in Florida, and a week in North Dakota (actually, a weekend in North Dakota and the rest of the week driving there and back), and another weekend in Bunkie for Taylor’s wedding.  After last week’s experiences, I, for one, will be wearing eau de bugspray with my bridesmaid dress.  I’m still scratching.  And then the rat race starts again.  If, of course, you consider it ever to have stopped.

God provides…popcorn

Lucy has been waiting, oh, about two months for the kettle corn man to re-appear at the farmer’s market.  I don’t know if we just missed the weeks he’s been around, but we haven’t seen him there in a while.  But today, there he was, and the popcorn was purchased, and nibbled around the rest of the market and back in the car.  And as we were driving down Magazine on the way to the grocery store to finish our shopping, in the midst of proclaiming the delight brought on by the popcorn and retelling the story of its finding, Lucy cried, in what must have been her best revival voice, “Thank you, Jesus!”

I said, “For the popcorn?”

Lucy: “Yes.”

Me: “Oh.  Good.”

Ok, it wasn’t quite that dramatic, but those are direct quotes.  And she was really excited about the popcorn.  We had a terrible day yesterday (whining nonstop from waking to sleeping), so I think that helped make up for it.

Things Lucy ate this week

For once, the pause in posting wasn’t my fault!  Last Saturday Craig put insulation in our attic, and bumped something that killed the electricity in the room with the computer.  So that was finally fixed yesterday, when Craig was home in the morning when it was cool enough to get up in the attic again and fix it.  But now we’re functional again, anyway.

We’ve been busy in the garden, and I’ll have to put up some details and pictures sooner or later.  But the exciting thing, we realized last night, is the variety of foods we’ve had this week.  Almost all of which Lucy has at least sampled.  Many of which are things I’ve only started eating recently myself.  Here’s the list, at least what I can remember, from the last week:

radishes (and their greens) dipped in vinegar

head cheese

frog legs

sushi of various sorts

her first icee

fava beans

I think those are all the interesting things, but I thought it was an impressive list for a three-year-old.

On Waiting

“The main barrier standing between ourselves and a local-food culture is not price, but attitude.  The most difficult requirements are patience and a pinch of restraint–virtues that are hardly the property of the wealthy.  These virtues seem to find precious little shelter, in fact, in any modern quarter of this nation founded by Puritans.  Furthermore, we apply them selectively:  browbeating our teenagers with the message that they should wait for sex, for example.  Only if the wait to experience intercourse under the ideal circumstances (the story goes), will they know its true value.  ‘Blah blah blah,‘ hears the teenager: words issuing from a mouth that can’t even wait for the right time to eat tomatoes, but instead consumes tasteless ones all winter to satisfy a craving for everything now.  We’re raising our children on the definition of promiscuity if we feed them a casual, indiscriminate mingling of foods from every season plucked from the supermarket, ignoring how our sustenance is cheapened by whole sale desires.”

-Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Thanks for the book, Fr. R.B.!

I think she has a point, don’t you?  What do we wait for anymore?  Not information, there’s the internet.  Not food, there are microwaves.  Not TV shows, even: we have DVR.  Not letters, a phone call is quicker.  Not babies, their ‘delivery’ is scheduled for our convenience or our doctor’s.  There does seem to be a pattern.

Can you say “Soy-sage”?

Craig was pretty excited about his Whole Foods deli purchase. We brought it all home (going to Whole Foods is like a pilgramage – it’s forever away and only done on occasion when we’re feeling rich) and I heated up the roast. We started to eat, and Craig wondered out loud if it was cooked through when purchased, or if we should have cooked it more than the quick nuclear reheat. I asked him if he was sure this was meat.

Of course it was meat!  It was “field roast”.  What could roast be, besides meat?  Probably meat which lived in a field.  What kind of meat didn’t matter, it had looked good in the deli window.

I dug out the wrapper.  Field roast.  See for yourself: http://www.fieldroast.com/index.htm

And we laughed.  Well, I laughed.  Craig plotted his revenge, musing over whom might be the most likely victim for a mock-meat trick.  So watch out, all you carnivores, when you dine with us.  Consider yourself warned.

Blame it on Spring Fever

In an attempt to make up for the long, long silence, here are some pictures.  First, the “man pit” that Craig build over the old (dug out hole in the grass) fire pit.  It is now an oven and stove.  I picked up the brick off the curb, in my church clothes, no less.  Dad would be proud.

The roasted (in brick oven) vegetable quesidillas (cooked on brick stove) were really, really good.

We have done a little planting.  We’ve had several dafodills bloom, and the tulips and iris are ready to bust.

In other garden news, an orange bell pepper, orange mint, dill, lemon balm, dill, and chives are in the ground.  The lettuce which over-wintered is going crazy, and some of it tastes like bacon.  I don’t know what it is, because it’s from a mixed lettuce seed packet, and process of elimination hasn’t worked it out yet.  But it’s bacon-lettuce.  Who knew.

In Lucy news, she is fiesty as ever.  Wants to watch a movie every day, and rarely gets to.  But she likes “writing” scribbles and “reading” books she has memorized, or just looking at the pictures.  And she loves the zoo.

In Samantha news, she is getting the last four pesky teeth through.  She is running.  And she has a nice long list of words now, including Da, dog (which also means cat), doll, bowl (which also seems to mean spoon and basket), Papa, Ma, banana (which is sometimes “ba” and sometimes “nana”), ball, no, diaper, book, door, open, hot…those are all that come to mind at the moment.  She has been walking around the house “reading” books out loud over the last couple of days, which is really, really cute.

So that’s the update.  Craig’s working a lot, and I spent the day baking.  Which reminds me, happy St. Joseph’s Day.  Here’s the bread I made:

It’s supposed to look like St. Joseph’s beard.  Judge for yourself.  I also made egg-free chocolate chip cookies (surprisingly delicious, once you make it past the cookie dough that acts like toasted bread crumbs), vegetable broth, two pans of bread pudding, and dinner today.  I wish I could say days like this were the reason I haven’t written in so long, but it’s really been more a combination of distraction and laziness.  So hopefully more interesting things will happen soon for me to share with you, and I’ll feel like sharing it.  In the mean time, here’s a pic of the girls with their friend Cylis to hold you over.

Black beans and sweet potatoes?

Last week was black bean and sweet potato week here at the Baker house.  I know that probably sounds strange to you, because it did to me a couple of weeks ago.  But we (and by “we” I mean Craig) had purchased many, many pounds of sweet potatoes about a month ago, and they needed to be eaten.  And black beans are cheap (as were sweet potatoes, hence our abundance).  And I generally trust Moosewood cookbooks, so I thought I’d give the “black bean and sweet potato hash” a try.  Now, I’m not one to make hashes, as a general rule, so this involved a little bravery to start with.  Here’s the recipe, so you can see for yourself what I was getting into.

1-2T olive oil
2c chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
6c peeled diced sweet potatoes (1/2″ pieces)
1 jalapeno, minced
1T coriander
1T cumin
1t salt
1c frozen corn kernels
1 1/2 c black beans (15 oz can, drained)
splash of water or OJ
dash of salt
cayenne or hot pepper sauce
Heat oil in large, deep, nonstick skillet. Add onions and saute on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften. Stir in garlic, cook for a few seconds, then add sweet potatoes. Cover the skillet and cook for 3 minutes. Add jalapeno, coriander, cumin, and salt; then use spatula to turn potatoes, cover, and cook for another 3 minutes. Add corn and black beans, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. If potatoes are still too firm, add a little water or OJ, cover, and cook on low heat until potatoes are tender. Add salt and stir in cayenne or hot pepper sauce to taste.
3. Serve topped with minced scallions or chopped cilantro, or sour cream.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Hash

Not complicated, just a bit of chopping.  Let me just say, it was amazing.  And there was nothing in it that Samantha can’t eat!  And it’s all baby-bite sized.  That is always a bonus.  And it’s loaded with nutrition.  And the leftovers were amazing – I added cheese and put it in a tortilla and went to that happy place where rich, sweet, delicious things take me.

In fact, it went so well that I decided it required a follow-up recipe.  Namely, “Caribbean sweet potato gratin”, which again pairs sweet potatoes and black beans, but adds…well, see for yourself.

Caribbean sweet potato gratin

That’s right, lime.  Lots of it.  Now, I won’t claim this is “quick and easy”, because it’s not complicated (as long as you remember to shake the coconut milk first) but it did take a while.  But then I sat back and waited for deliciousness to prepare itself for my tastebuds.  I’m pretty sure this is the most nutritious thing I’ve cooked ever.  Yes, it’s fatty, but it’s better fat than Oreos or any of the other things I could have eaten instead.  And everything in it is rainbow-colored “superfood”.  Choose your diet, all but the coconut milk should fit in.

Craig loved it.  Lucy and Samantha ate it.  I was a little overwhelmed by the lime and cornmeal, possibly because I had been grating/juicing lime for a while at that point and reeked of it.  But it was good.  Sweet potatoes and black beans.  Who knew!

And I was thinking, it’s strange really that I write so little on here about food, since food takes up so much of my time.  (Actually, maybe that is why I write about it so little!)  I really like cooking, provided no one is wrapped around my legs and screaming, and I like thinking about cooking, and talking about cooking.  And it doesn’t bother me to be “tied up” in the kitchen for an hour or two making dinner.  (The dishes are a different story, but I’m working on that.)

Anyway, if you like sweet potatoes, you owe it to yourself to try the hash at least.  If you like lime, too, try both!  Let me know what you think.

Mother knows best

So Lucy likes to take down the spices (and extracts, and colored sugar) from the spice rack and smell them.  This is usually a harmless passtime, which possibly develops her sensory awareness, so usually I let her be.  There have been a couple of spills (sesame seeds come to mind), but, as I say, it’s all usually harmless.

So yesterday, I noticed Lucy pouring the orange sugar from the bottle into the bottle cap and eating it.  I questioned her, and she denied eating it.  I warned her that the things on the spice rack go in foods, but aren’t very tasty by themselves.  (Not true of colored sugar, but it was a general statement.)  I walked away.

I heard screaming.  I returned to Lucy, who had an empty bottle of peppermint extract in her hand.  She reeked of peppermint.  And she was screaming.  She claimed she had not drunken it all, (I’m not sure how much “all” was to start with) but it was gone.  So I hugged her, trying not to laugh but failing miserably, and poured her some water.  Thus ended Samantha’s nap, and Lucy and I had a discussion about listening to Mommy and the proper treatment of things in the spice rack.

When we told the story to Craig, I asked Lucy if she would be eating anything else from the spice rack.

Sheepish smile.  “No.”