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The view from the floor

April 27th, 2009 | 11 Comments »

Hi everyone- Nina Pasiuk here; I’m 14 months old and I’ve got a lot to say so listen up. If I think you aren’t paying attention, believe me- I can talk over you. I’ve got three older siblings.
kate-and-nina-010This is me- with my Aunt Kate. She’s pretty cool. I spend some time at her house playing with her cats when my Mom has stuff to do. Usually I only have lunch and a nap there, but this time when I went to see Aunt Kate and Uncle Mike, my Mom left me there for a really long time! I had three sleeps and four whole days at their house, and we had some great fun.

I used to be kind of afraid of Uncle Mike- everyone would tell me he’s a lot of fun but I just couldn’t handle it and would cry whenever he came near me- but now I realize that they’re right; he’s GREAT fun! He likes to be fed too, like me. But he’s so big! Why does he need me to feed him his snack? Oh well- I’ll play along.
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It was really warm one of the days I spent here. My legs felt sticky and Aunt Kate said my cheeks were so pink. She gave me this really cold thing she called a fruit bar. I wasn’t too sure about it at first because I’m not a huge fan of fruit, but wow did it feel good to hold and put in my mouth. And on my cheeks and in my hair and all over my arms and under my chin and on my foot……

chilean-viognier-008See? My cheeks aren’t quite so pink now that I’ve covered myself with this cold thing. I did really enjoy it a lot, but I have to tell you, the bath Aunt Kate gave me when I was done with it felt even better. That’s my cousin Griffin in the background. He was doing dishes which surprised me. My brothers don’t seem to do that.
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Aunt Kate makes some really good food and I ate a lot. I ate delicious oatmeal that was nice and chewy, she made me chicken on the grill, omelets and scrambled eggs and soup, but my most favorite dish I ate was something she called Pesto Pasta. One time for lunch she made me a ham and cheese omelet and I was really enjoying it until she sat down with a plate of that pasta. Well that wasn’t fair! I wanted that pasta! I even helped her clean off my tray of all the remaining omelet so she could put some pasta on it. So then we swapped lunches. She’s so nice. She said she didn’t even care.

The best part was after each meal she would give me animal crackers. I love those! (Mom? Are you getting all this?) The cookies were major fun to play with and eat- sometimes they would hide from me too.
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My brother Matthew came to stay at Aunt Kate’s house too, and it was fun to have him around. I crawled around the house yelling out ‘MattMatt’ to make sure he was still there. I learned how to use the stairs really well there too, and Matt liked to help.
chilean-viognier-016There was even a party one day I was there and all these nice people came over to celebrate Griffin’s birthday. I couldn’t be bothered with a nap that day because there was just so much going on, and wow did we all have some fun. I even went to the park to swing (my FAVORITE THING EVER) with Uncle Mike and Griffin and Matt. Those boys aren’t too bad after all. I can still give them the business when they get in my face too much, but they’re OK sometimes.

I enjoyed lots of fun games too- Aunt Kate and I tossed things around on the floor a lot because I’m really good at throwing whatever I can find. The boys were playing a game where they throw dice around and I wanted to play too so I got my very own dice and Kate showed me how to play. We played for a long time! It was so fun! The boys played some video games too, and I liked sitting with them and telling them what to do. I’m good at that. On Sunday I kept telling everyone that I wanted to go for a walk and go swing at the park but all they said was that it was raining. Maybe that was why it was so dark outside. By then I was pretty tired out, and I had some nice naps snuggled up to Aunt Kate- she’s really cuddly and warm. I loved curling up next to her at night too; she made me feel really safe and comforted because I kind of missed my mom. Boy was I happy to see her when she FINALLY came back to get me!!!

So that’s the deal from this end- Aunt Kate and Uncle Mike were quite fun to play with and I love those cats! Especially their toys!! They didn’t seem to be all that interested in playing with me though…..hmmmm……..

Wordless Wednesday

April 22nd, 2009 | 2 Comments »

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Banana Bran Muffins

Mix in bowl until blended:
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
2 large eggs
2 T. butter, melted
1/3 c. unsweetened applesauce

Add in 1 1/2 c. All Bran cereal and 1/2 c. whole oats; stir to combine. Allow to sit for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Mash two ripe bananas on a plate and set aside.

In separate bowl, sift together:
3/4 c. AP flour
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 t. EACH baking powder and baking soda
1/4 t. salt
2 T. ground flax seed

Gently stir the bananas into the milk/bran mixture. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry and fold gently to incorporate. Do not overmix. Scoop into muffin tins lined with paper cups (or sprayed) and bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes, or until tops are springy. Cool on wire rack.

KATE’S NOTES:
Regular milk, or soy milk can be subbed for buttermilk. To make buttermilk (or sour milk) mix one teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice per cup of regular milk. Stir to combine and allow to sit until curdled. Plain or vanilla yogurt can also be used- stir about 1 cup of yogurt with half a cup of water.

This recipe is wonderful with frozen or fresh blueberries. Toss one cup of fresh washed berries with a tablespoon of flour to keep them from sinking. For using frozen blueberries, gently fold them in, undrained and unrinsed, after you incorporate the wet and dry ingredients. Lemon zest is particularly nice with a blueberry addition; use about a teaspoon or two, with an additional 2 tablespoons of juice as well. Shredded apples also make a nice fruit substitution. Core and shred about two small tart apples and add to wet ingredients. You can stir in a half cup of extra applesauce with the wet ingredients, or even use apple butter (same proportion)  for more flavor.

Overload, and salvation

April 20th, 2009 | 9 Comments »

There’s a glut of food blogs on the ‘net, have you noticed? I’ve been trolling for some new inspiration, awesome lurk-worthy sites that are an instant source of excitement, chock full of recipes that I can’t wait to make.

I found myself gasping at what was in front of me; I was a bit taken aback, like thinking I fell into another era. The posts talked about mac and cheese, baked potatoes covered with canned soup, casseroles with frozen vegetables and potatoes, grilled cheese sandwiches with perfect squares of fake cheese…..and please excuse me for sounding snobbish as I certainly know I do right about now…. but this is the food that Jamie and I joke and laugh about, the stuff we were forced to eat coming of age in the 1970′s from mothers who only knew about Betty Crocker and The Joy of Cooking.  This is not, in all our 2009 understanding about our food, our health, the way we can nurture and protect ourselves from the plate up; this is not food. I’m sorry. Forgive the mini-rant, it’s done now.

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It gets better….I promise-  read on…….

Come in to my kitchen…

On the road to Spring and good health

April 16th, 2009 | 3 Comments »

I think everyone is trying to eat better for their health, and subsequently, their pocketbooks. Information abounds in money-saving tips, grocery shopping tactics and ‘Quick! Fast! Cheap!’ meals are everywhere.

I’m thrilled that Springtime, and the return of fresh produce is commencing. It changes the whole tone of what happens in my kitchen, and on our plates. There are sweet baby lettuces that need barely a gasp of fresh squeezed lime juice and a tiny drizzle of balsamic, rich asparagus stems in a quick sputtering stir-fry and tiny crisp radishes dredged through a bit of french sea salt. I keep dreaming about main-dish salads of smoky grilled vegetables. I long for summer cherries, melon season and corn plucked from the field that morning, dew still clinging to the leaves and tassels. It can’t come soon enough. I long to retire my soup pot and clean out the oven; bye bye rutabagas, thick skinned squashes and heavy braises. Nights may still need those extra blankets, but this girl’s in the mood for new food.

I’ve started to move a little from winter’s heavier fare to quicker, simpler and more varied eating, mostly by fulfilling my current hankering for anything cabbage related. This isn’t the most spring-like of offerings, but it’s cheap, chock full of excellent nutrition and it keeps like a trooper in the fridge when properly wrapped. I’ve been a fan of cabbage since I was a little girl. It was one of my Mom’s continual offerings. She would chop up an entire head of green cabbage, place it in the ‘cabbage tupperware’ (reserved only for that use) and then pour on some Good Seasons Italian dressing and grate a bunch of pepper over it. The cover would be pressed into place and she would shake that thing like crazy. I can still hear the sound of all that cabbage being tossed around. Cabbage makes me think of her and I still love it with little else besides that same dressing, doctored in my own fashion, tossed with a handful of chopped almonds for crunch and extra flavor, although there’s far more to this humble vegetable than most people ever realize.

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Cruciferous vegetables-like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale-are rich in a variety of compounds that have been shown to slow cancer growth and development in a number of laboratory studies. Other larger human studies have shown that cruciferous vegetables can help to reduce the risk of lung, stomach, colorectal, prostate, and bladder cancers. (from the Living Strong Living Well website article ’11 Cancer Fighting Foods)

Cole slaw is a very favorite dish of mine as well, only I am not one to beam and shout over most recipes, drenched as they are in a mayo based dressing to the point of giving the term ‘limp and soggy’ a run for its money. Although that tastes pretty darn good on a pulled pork sandwich, from the end of a fork it doesn’t resonate quite so beautifully. Coleslaw needs to be made and eaten quickly. It’s one food where ‘leftovers’ in my fridge tend to cause immense shuddering and a wrinkled nose.

The whole idea of coleslaw has changed dramatically in my mind, thanks to the endless food blogs that pour out every variation of the stuff. It isn’t just about the cabbage anymore, and by definition, if it adds something more, is it still just humble coleslaw?

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This recipe evolved from several sources and plenty of inspiration. It mixes green and red cabbage, jicama sticks, garbanzo beans, cooked bulgur and chopped almonds, with a few cool cucumber slices on the side for color and crunch and in return, it promises you a plate of superb antioxidant protection, a powerhouse of vitamin C, omega-3 fats, whole grain goodness and loads of crunch. It sticks with you long after the fact too, with an amazing amount of fiber that leaves you feeling satisfied and full without being too overbearing. No one needs food to continually outstay its welcome; these days we want a good meal without wishing for a sofa and pillow afterwards. And it’s so good that it won’t take long for you to turn a lovely pile of vegetable goodness into a near  bare and heavily appreciated empty plate.super-cabbage-salad1-004

This is also a perfect offering for the blogging event happening over at Mele Cotte- Cooking to Combat Cancer. Chris is now in Year Three of being cancer- free and calling all food bloggers to offer up recipes with cancer-fighting appeal.

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There is no shortage of good people around me fighting with everything that they have against the ravages of cancer, and this event can help everyone arm themselves with good tools to put in their pantries and tummies that will offer some support to a body that is constantly exposed to an wide range of harmful properties. I owe an enormous amount of my well-being and overall health to the foods that I eat; whole foods, plenty of vegetables and fruits, lean meats, whole grains, nuts; it’s all there. I stepped up my efforts to make our meals even better over the winter, and we were rewarded with only a smattering of illness that took little time to disperse. While food itself isn’t the only way to stay healthy, it’s one good tool you can use to help your body be at it’s very best.

Super Slaw Salad
by Kate

1/4 head of both red and green cabbage, shredded or chopped
1/2 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 c. cooked bulger
1/2 c. (approx.) of thinly sliced jicama
1/4 c. chopped almonds
Cucumber slices
Dressing of choice

Combine all ingredients in large bowl and toss to mix, adding dressing to taste and seasoning with fresh cracked pepper or a dusting of good sea salt. Allow to sit for 15 minutes to allow flavors to blend.

KATE’S NOTES:
Obviously, endless variations on this abound. It’s almost silly to make a cut and dried recipe out of it. I would have added carrots if I had some. Shredded apple would be delicious. I love the addition of shredded bok choy and napa cabbages to my slaws also. Vary the dressings too for a different flavor profile, like an asian style with sesame seeds. Change up the nuts, the beans or the grain.

Wordless Wednesday

April 8th, 2009 | 8 Comments »

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Recipe after the jump

Come in to my kitchen…

When you know the notes to sing….

April 7th, 2009 | 5 Comments »

If this doesn’t make you smile like crazy, there quite possibly could be something wrong with you. Even some of the passengers in the station looked like they were joining in the fun!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EYAUazLI9k&hl=en&fs=1]