Baking to end childhood hunger

April 15th, 2011 | 1 Comment »

Minnesota’s amazing blogging and food community will come together on Saturday May 14th at Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis from 11:00AM to 4:00PM in support of Share Our Strength’s campaign to end childhood hunger.

The National Food Bloggers Bake Sale, initiated by Gaby of What’s Gaby Cooking? will occur for the second year in a row in cities all across the country. Bloggers of all shapes and sizes and abilities will hold bake sales in their communities to raise money for Share Our Strength.

I’m organizing the Minnesota event, and our team, Minnesota Bakes is chock full of talented and well-floured bloggers with a heart to support and share. We’ll be offering all sorts of baked goods on May 14th at Kitchen in the Market, located within Midtown Global Market in South Minneapolis. Do you have any interest in participating? Baking some delicious goodies to sell? Lending a hand on the day of the event? Any and all help is deeply appreciated. Please feel free to contact me directly by email – kate4797 (at) hotmail (dot) com and let me know what you would like to do.

If you aren’t able to participate in any way but wish to support this worthy cause, please visit our team page and consider making a monetary donation.

http://join.strength.org/site/TR/CEM/General?team_id=106257&pg=team&fr_id=1120

Please feel free to share this information with anyone you think would be interested. Many thanks in advance to you all.

a life in peanut butter

April 13th, 2011 | 11 Comments »

What goes best with peanut butter? Or maybe the question should be rephrased…..

What doesn’t go with peanut butter? And please, include your combinations.

Because this is all about the most ubiquitous spread available, the one that gleans passionate outbursts from even the most stoic souls, a food that fuels both bodies and debates -chunky or creamy, and which brand?- and even scorn, although I’ve only met a few people who turn up their noses at smoothly ground peanuts.

I love smooth and creamy peanut butter, always have. I won’t pass by a jar of good chunky PB, and if it’s all that’s available then I’ll take one for the team. I’m not picky about texture too much. But I’ve found that I can’t go more than a day and a half without consuming peanut butter. At all. I panic when the jar runs low in our house, or if we don’t have the right brand at our lake home in the summer. And I’m specifically loyal about my PB to a toddler tantrum, foot stamping fault; it’s got to be natural peanut butter. Hands down. All that ‘Take one for the team’ talk about eating chunky if I have to? It doesn’t apply to commercial peanut butter that tastes like thick brown paste. I grew up eating natural peanut butter and mourn the loss of Real brand PB from the stores. Thank goodness Parker Farms is a perfectly good option because the more well-known varieties (and I won’t name names; y’all know what types I’m talking about) will never grace my kitchen nor pass my lips.

Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve paired a lot of other foods with peanut butter. Out of curiosity, for the most part, and sometimes out of boredom and even necessity. Peanut butter is perfect poor-man’s food, like only a college kid can be. And when perusing your empty fridge late at night, your body in need of something substantial to carry you to morning, peanut butter becomes your go-to food, and in order to make that snack stick, sometimes you end up getting a little creative. And over the years, I’ve dabbled with a lot of interesting and varied combinations.

~~PB and a fried egg. On toast. It’s not bad. And for many years in college it was a staple for breakfast. These days, however, not so much.

~~PB and bacon. Oh yes. Crisp crackling pork, creamy PB that melts on your warm toasted bread. This is killer good, and even my Teen fell hard for it. However, due to it’s not so stellar nutritional outcome, it’s a rare treat these days.

~~PB and tuna. Ugh. Skip it. Trust me.

~~ PB and grated apple. Perfect, as we all know that dunking a thick slice of crunchy apple into peanut butter is almost a religious experience. Grate that apple, squeeze out the liquid and spread it on your toast. Add a shake of cinnamon if you dare. Divine. You might hear angels singing.

~~PB and crushed potato chips, or a Chip Butty, according to Susan’s Encyclopedia of Sandwiches. If you didn’t do this as a kid, raise your hand. I’d like to know you, and then maybe convince you of what you’re missing. Better yet, crush Doritos on your PB. Eeeek. Did I just say that?

~~PB and bananas. Oh Elvis, you really were on to something, weren’t you? I love PB toast, topped with sliced bananas and a shake of cinnamon sugar.

~~PB and Nutella. Although I can easily see that this would be swoon worthy, not being on the Nutella bandwagon leaves me in the dark. I’m sure it’s amazing though. Anyone can attest to this?

~~PB and jelly. What’s your pleasure? Grape jelly? Strawberry? I kind of like both, but lately, it’s got to be blueberry preserves in my PB&J.

~~PB and honey. Even better…. this combination is far and away my absolute favorite. Especially when the honey soaks into the bread and the edges get a little crunchy. Oh my, there go the singing angels again.

~~PB and green olives. I have my Mom to thank for this one. Ever since I was a kid, and she handed me a PB sandwich stuffed with split green olives (sans the pimento) I have been hooked on this oddity. Nowadays, I scoop up a container of Sicilian olives from the gourmet olive bar at the grocers, speckled with mustard seeds and mouth puckering with a tangy vinaigrette. These massive meaty green olives snap against the salty smooth taste of the peanut butter, creating an odd flavor combination that is wildly addicting. If you’ve got an adventurous palate, try it out. But I warned you.

~~PB and mayo. Tried it once and it made the hair on my neck stand up. I tossed the remaining sandwich in the trash and promptly brushed my teeth. Some things just aren’t meant to marry. But PB and cream cheese? Oh my……

But then there’s those items that have been smeared with peanut butter as just a random means to enjoy my favorite spread; banana bread and tea breads of every style and flavor, pancakes, celery sticks (without the raisins- blergh) pretzels, marshmallows, coffee cakes, muffins of all kinds, scones, my most favorite butternut squash biscuits, grapes, strawberries, melon…. and likely more than I can remember. There really isn’t much that I won’t pair with PB, even if just to try out something new.

So tell me…. what’s your favorite way to enjoy peanut butter? Do you like creamy? Crunchy? Which brand do you buy? Are you loyal to that brand? And why do you like it?

 

 

spicy tuna wraps

April 4th, 2011 | 10 Comments »

I recently started working again. Just part-time, but for good pay and doing something I love, and really, that’s all anyone needs, isn’t it?

And I get to think about lunch too, bringing something with me when I work to help spur me through the day, give me a good dose of energy, keep me full but not stuffed with a strong healthy edge to it. Enter the Spicy Tuna Wrap.

I love lunch time. I’m not sure where this enamored state over the noon meal ever came from, but as long as I can remember, lunch has been my favorite meal. Maybe it’s the lunchtimes of grade school, where we clustered together, unwrapping our peanut butter sandwiches from brown paper bags, eagerly scanning the contents of our friends lunch sacks to see what treats they got each day. Maybe it was the excited chatter, the rustle of wax paper, the moment the last bites disappeared when we could all run outside for recess, for jump rope, Foursquare, tag and the incessant chatter that we’d bottled up inside us all morning long.

Lunch at home these past few months was a way to utilize anything from the refrigerator, crafting something unusual from the norm, making up a series of small plates to satisfy my hunger, re-purposing an original into a one-of-a-kind. It didn’t always matter if I made my lunch last through the afternoon, keeping hunger at bay until dinnertime, but now that I’m working and not always able to stop for a snack to re-energize, my lunches need to satisfy, and keep me full until I get home.

This Spicy Tuna Wrap sure does the trick. Based on the premise of a sushi roll, canned tuna is spiced with your favorite hot sauce and chopped green onion, then spread in a whole-grain wrap with brown rice, avocado, carrot matchsticks and shredded greens. The combination is full of flavor, and more importantly, crammed with nutrients to keep you going. It’s easy to have the ingredients on hand, and takes only a few minutes to put together in the morning.

It tastes like a heartier version of one of my favorite sushi rolls. And it’s endlessly versatile, from the greens you add to the seasonings you mix with either the tuna or the rice. Switch out the tuna for salmon, or finely chopped chicken. Use arugula to add some bite, or watercress. Add thin strips of cucumbers or radish. And be sure to have a little soy sauce, mixed with some wasabi if it’s your preference. These wraps are made for dipping.

Spicy Tuna Wrap

2 5- to 6-ounce cans chunk light tuna, drained
1/3 c. low-fat mayonnaise
1 T hot sauce, such as Sriracha
1 scallion, chopped
2 c. cooked brown rice, cooled
2 T rice vinegar
1 T. sesame oil
1 T. soy sauce
4 10-inch whole-grain wraps
Shredded greens of choice
1 ripe avocado, cut into 16 slices
1 small carrot, cut into matchsticks

Combine tuna with hot sauce, mayo and scallion and mix to combine. To brown rice, add the rice vinegar, sesame oil and soy sauce, stir well.

On each wrap, layer tuna, rice, avocado, carrot and shredded greens. Roll up tightly and slice, or eat whole.

From Eating Well magazine, March/April 2011, with adaptations.

 

KATE’S NOTES:
I used a canned tuna in oil, leaving most of it with the tuna and then less mayo than the recipe needed. My hot sauce was Matouk’s Flambé Salsa. I added the soy sauce and sesame oil to the rice, but you can leave it out if you wish. I love the flavor it adds. Thin slices of cucumber in this wrap would be excellent. I used spinach for my greens, and Flat Out Whole Grain wraps, which made it a perfect size.

 

 

 

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Kellogg’s Virtual Breakfast Chat

April 27th, 2011 | Comments Off

Remember when I mentioned last week that I was participating in a virtual breakfast through The Motherhood with some other wonderful bloggers? The chat occurred this past Wednesday, when I was right about to be plunged over the cliff into complete sickness. I managed to deal with the chat perfectly, then set my computer aside and just about collapsed. The rest of that day I was immobile from fever, wandering in and out of sleep, twisting in fevered dreams.

Oy…..

But I survived. The chat was quite fun. It was video and text chatting, with two nutritionists from Kellogg’s, so you can bet it was pretty heavily geared towards eating cereal. I personally prefer something a lot more substantial for my first meal of the day. Still, cereal is a pretty standard breakfast for many, especially children. One aspect of the chat was to discuss the most recent dietary guidelines set forth by the Dep’t of Health and Human Services and the USDA. The Dietary Guidelines list four nutrients that American children and adults are not getting enough of: dietary fiber, calcium, vitamin D and potassium, and apparently breakfast cereals are noted specifically in these guidelines for helping people meet their B12, folic acid, iron and Vitamin D requirements. They even spoke about the fact that Fruit Loops and Apple Jacks both have 3 grams of fiber per serving. With information from health studies that points to fiber intake being a shield against the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, infectious and respiratory illness and, for men, certain cancers. Hmmm. At this point, I wanted to ask what the sugar content of these supposedly fiber-rich cereals were but decided to just quietly pass through that part of the discussion. I was a bit surprised to hear some of this information, and along with my caution about sugar levels in breakfast cereal, the main reason I won’t eat many of them at all, I’m still firm on my belief that there are much better breakfasts to start your day with.

Thankfully, my co-hosts agreed. They were filled to overflowing with amazing and delicious breakfast options; waffles and pancakes topped with greek yogurt, and copious amounts of fresh fruit, smoothies with berries and ground flaxseed, parfaits made with yogurt, cereal and nuts. Kids don’t automatically know what constitutes ‘breakfast food’ too, and when my son was younger I told him that I didn’t care what he ate for breakfast; I just wanted him to eat something before school each day. So he would often eat leftovers from dinner, cold pizza or sometimes mac and cheese. On occasion he would eat soup, or make a half a sandwich with turkey or roast beef. The most important thing to me was that he was eating something. After that, it was up to him.

I’ve become much more aware in the last few years of how a good healthy breakfast can make such a huge difference in the rest of your day. And I love exploring the multitudes of options that I can eat each morning, sometimes finding myself getting rather excited about what my morning meal will be! And it’s always good to get excited about your food.

 

If you’re interested in the newest Dietary Guidelines, the entire document can be downloaded from this link:

http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/DGAs2010-PolicyDocument.htm

If you want a full summary of our virtual breakfast, you can find that information here:

http://www.themotherhood.com/talk/show/id/62187

 

DISCLAIMER:
I was financially compensated for participating in this chat. All opinions are my own.

pushing through

April 25th, 2011 | 4 Comments »

Last Spring at this time, our perennial garden was full of glorious color. The tulips were opened….

The Creeping Phlox was a lovely carpet of purple…….

 

There were Johnny Jump Ups leaping up all around the garden beds.

And I had managed to keep the Prairie Smoke from being devoured by hungry critters.

Which, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do this year. Somebunny devoured all the pink buds and leafy greens on these native plants. Ah well…..

We’re a lot further behind this year on the revival of the earth, it’s flowers and new grass. It’s almost May and the Star Magnolia bush, my harbinger of Spring, has yet to open even one of it’s gorgeous and fragrant flowers, although with current warm temps and sun, it’s reaching it’s fat buds to the sky and starting to come alive. This is possibly the latest in the year that it’s started it’s bloom, according to the garden journal I’ve kept since 2006. I love recording the rhythm of the seasons, the sightings of birds in the yard, when the migrations start and the seasonal visitors like Hummingbirds and Orioles return, the first (and last) snowfall, the last ice-out on the area lakes, the foxes, possums and creatures that roam the night time. It’s a wonderful way to keep track of the ebb and flow of the life outside our windows.

And everyone is impatient for Spring, for warm weather, for shedding the pants, shoes and sleeves to bare their skin to the sun. For me, more this year than any I’ve been really, really eager to see the bounty of the season begin. I’m craving all forms of green; vegetables, tender baby lettuces, spring spinach, asparagus….. you name it. It’s like I can hear my body complaining loudly about the lack of chlorophyll. Even my Teen said that he was craving a salad. So when Mike pulled some items together for dinner recently, he brought home a large amount of lettuces from the store. Since Farmers Market time is still a few weeks away, these greens will have to do. We washed them, and consumed large bowls of salad with our burgers and roasted potatoes. It was the first real meal I’d eaten all week due to my sickness. And it tasted glorious.

Just prior to getting ill, I came across kale at the grocers for $.99 a bunch. I haven’t been that adventurous with kale much, although for the life of me I can’t figure out why. I bought a large, deeply green bunch and it promptly languished in my crisper drawer due to the toxic onslaught I endured. A small handful went into a smoothie I tried to drink, the rest just sat. And kale doesn’t mind sitting too much, as it’s quite hearty. When I finally pulled it out, it looked no worse for the week it spent in my fridge, and it happily blended with scrambled eggs to make an awesome breakfast sandwich, then later, with quinoa and toasted pecans for this nutritiously rich and flavorful salad.

With finally climbing out of the ick and funk that settled on me last week, I really was feeling the need for some healthy options to start restoring my immune system and begin cleansing my body of the after-affects of a sinus/respiratory infection, especially the medications I took. What a perfect recipe for that, and so simple too. Cook quinoa, saute your kale with shallot and garlic, and toss it all together with a little salt and pepper. Add in toasted pecans, or pine nuts or almonds and get out your fork. There just doesn’t need to be anything more complicated than that.

 

Add in the weathered redwood stairs to our patio, and a cat languishing on the sunlit bricks, it made the small bowl I consumed taste a little bit like Spring. It was just what I was craving, for both body and mind.

 

Quinoa with Kale and Toasted Pecans

1 c. quinoa, rinsed and shaken well
4 c. loosely packed kale, chopped
1 small shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. pecans, or nut of choice, lightly toasted

Start by cooking your quinoa. It can sit in the pan for quite some time after it’s done. Heat 1-3/4 c. water or broth of choice on the stove. Add half a teaspoon of sea salt and a thin drizzle of olive oil. When the water boils rapidly, add the rinsed quinoa, stir quickly and reduce the heat, allowing the quinoa to simmer gently. Cover the pan and let cook for 15 minutes, or until the water is mostly absorbed. Keep covered and remove from heat. Allow to stand for at least 10 minutes.

In a large deep skillet (with a cover), saute the shallot and garlic in olive oil until soft and translucent. Add in the kale and toss to coat. Stir and toss the kale until it’s a deep emerald green and starting to look a bit shiny. Add a half cup water to the pan, cover it and reduce the heat to a bare simmer. Steam the kale, stirring occasionally, until it’s slightly wilted but still has some toothy bite, maybe 10 minutes or so.

Add the quinoa to the skillet with the kale and toss until uniform. Taste and season with more sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Add in the toasted nuts and combine. Can be eaten warm, room temperature or chilled. Reheat gently in the microwave.

 

sick days and french silk pie

April 22nd, 2011 | 3 Comments »

It’s never convenient to get sick. Lots of people try the old ‘mind over matter’ thought process when they feel that scratchy throat come on, or the sniffles begin to build. I used to do that, but often I think that it makes it worse. While there are some ways to help ward off illnesses when they wage war on you, often the best defense is to realize that it likely has you beat, and to surrender.

So I surrendered this week when I felt the pain form in my throat and then move into my chest. I’m familiar with this type of respiratory illness, having been plagued with it my entire life. Thankfully, as I moved into a healthier way of living in the last 15 years or so, the severity of these illnesses is much less, and the frequency has dropped off too. I know, just by the symptoms, when I’m about to be dealt it’s blow. And this one couldn’t have come at a worst time.

For one thing, there was my son’s 17th birthday. And although I managed to make it through his celebratory dinner out, I felt horrible the entire time. My food tasted off, my head hurt and I just wanted to lay down and shut my eyes, waking up maybe, in a few days after the ickyness would pass. But, even through the ‘Blah’ that settled on me that day, I did manage to make his birthday requested French Silk Pie.

We like to treat birthdays with the consideration that nothing is off limits. And French Silk Pie was the gleam in his eye when I asked him what kind of cake he wanted. Even given the fact that I’d never made one from scratch, I agreed, because this is my boy, you know? There might not be that many more birthdays that he’s around to make a special request.

And muddling through the impending doom that was settling over my body, I churned out what has to be one of the best pies I’ve ever made. Then I promptly fell into an illness that left me shaking with fever, prone on the sofa, and unable to taste anything. Even if I could eat something, bringing forkfuls of rich chocolate pie to my mouth was just not going to happen. One bite and my stomach flipped over in protest. No rich foods! It called out to me. Soup! Eat Soup!

It’s been a long time since I’ve been that sick; that bone chilling, fevered sickness. I couldn’t sleep despite being exhausted. I couldn’t do anything like read a book or one of the magazines that are piling up on various surfaces around the house. I couldn’t summon up the energy to do much but flip over and over in bed, brushing the sweaty hair off my neck and forehead, and shaking with fever. But during the process of working this illness from my body, I began to think about it as some sort of transition I was going through. Lately I’ve felt really unmotivated in some areas of my life, this blog being one of them. I blame it solely on the transitional status of our weather, that strange flux state between winter and spring when you can’t stand the thought of one more heavy winter repast, yet the light refreshing springtime offerings aren’t quite ready to indulge in yet. My meals have lacked excitement, or creativity. I’ve submerged myself in throwing quick simple meals together, most often with a poached egg and some sort of vegetable like asparagus, or tiny new roasted potatoes and Griffin has made several delicious meals these past few weeks. But the food is consumed and the moment passes before I think ‘Hey I should have photographed that to blog about!’ but then, it’s done and gone.

And maybe my body knew this illness was coming, and began a sort of shutdown process ahead of time. The week that the illness fell was full of social activities and fun events, and being sick caused me to cancel out of every one of them. I don’t think I’d ever been more disappointed. But I couldn’t ignore this, nor could I have rose above it to go out anyway. So this purging through fever and downtime might be thought of as a motivator. Goodness knows I’ve got a stack of workable recipes, waiting to be turned into  blog posts just looking for the time, energy and verve to work through; current food magazines are brimming with ideas, beautiful recipes and fresh means to explore the bounty of Springtime. We’re still waiting for the nice weather to arrive and stick around, and every chilly day that brings yet another coating of fluffy wet snow makes it feel like some drawn out joke on us poor Minnesotans. So I accepted the illness, and the shutting down of my life and plans, letting Mike care for me, bring me soup, do the laundry and refill my water glass. He’s pretty amazing that way, and after nearly 10 years together, I’m still floored at how blessed I am to have someone who takes such good care of me when I’m sick. He makes it easy to just stop my life, and recover.

But…… there was that pie too.

It was delectably rich; creamy, fudgey and delicious. My guys were in heaven, and watching them consume their slices, topped with fresh whipped cream, was pure bliss. Even in my fevered state. I tried a piece when I started to feel better and was amazed at it’s creaminess, the intense chocolate flavor. But still, it wasn’t what my tummy wanted. At least I know now that when the request for French Silk Pie comes again, and I’m pretty sure it will, that I have this terrific recipe to offer.

Ok, so indulge me……What’s your favorite pie?

 

French Silk Pie

Pie crust of choice
2/3 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1/3 c. butter, softened
2/3 c. heavy whipping cream
2 t. powdered sugar

Prep pie crust as needed, crimping edges. Preheat oven to 400° and bake pie crust 10-15 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Allow to cool completely.

In a small saucepan, combine sugar and eggs, whisking to combine. Set over low heat, and whisking or stirring constantly, bring mixture to 160° , to where it thickly coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and add the chocolate and vanilla, whisking to melt chocolate and blend thoroughly. Cool to lukewarm, about 90°.

While chocolate mixture cools, beat butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add cooled chocolate mixture and beat on high speed for about 5 minutes. You want this to be light and fluffy, and flow in a continual thick ribbon when you lift the beaters.

In a separate bowl, beat heavy cream until thickened. Add in the powdered sugar and beat until cream holds very stiff peaks. Fold this whipped cream carefully into the chocolate mixture. It’s ok if it’s not completely uniform.

Spread into cooled pie crust, pressing into place with an icing spatula and smoothing the top. Place in refrigerator and chill for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. Serve with extra whipped cream, and chocolate curls if desired.

From the Taste of Home website

 

KATE’S NOTES:
I used half pure cane sugar and half pure maple syrup for my sugar content in this. The added liquid didn’t make any difference in the final product. I also had an extra 1/2 oz of chocolate and added that for extra richness. More chocolate is always good.

I’m not the best when it comes to pie crusts, and for this pie I used Marie Callendars pre-made pie crusts from the freezer section in the grocer. They come ready to fill in reusable tins. I was really pleased with the results, and the flavor of the crust is pretty good. It also has the purest ingredients. Another good ready-made pie crust is Pappy’s. It has lard in it, which obviously makes it amazing, but comes in squares that you need to roll out. So if you roll out a mean crust, go with Pappy’s. Of course, if you’re a whiz with pie dough, ignore all of this.

To my 17 year old…..

April 19th, 2011 | 5 Comments »

It’s your 17th birthday.


You were once small enough to fit on my forearm, and I remember it but I don’t believe it. Not now, not when I look at you, the age of 17 and on the brink of being your own man. I’m ok with it though. I really love watching you grow.

 

I hope you remain compassionate like you are now. You’ve always been that way, so I think it will stay with you. Remember that even though the world around you may look like we’re all very different, fundamentally we’re pretty much the same. We hurt the same way when the world doesn’t unfold like we think; we bleed when we’re cut and we cry when we’re sad. We all struggle, some of us more than others. Be aware of that, and tread kindly with those who come in to your life.  Everyone is just trying to do the best they can with what they’re given. Including you.

It’s not always easy to listen to the adults around you, or to think you need to pay attention to what they say. I know that you feel like you know everything because I was 17 once too. But I hope that when we talk that you’ll take my words and file them away in a place you can always go to, so that somewhere, when you’re ready, you can remember what I suggest. By no means do I think you should do anything I tell you. I raised you to make up your own mind about your life and you will do that, I have no doubt. But please, just try to remember what I tell you, and what we talk about. I’ve seen things in my lifetime that I pray will never happen in yours.

Use kindness in your words, and in your voice. I know that we all have the right to say what we want, but once those words leave your mouth, you can never, ever take them back. Learn to use a filter between your brain and your tongue. Sometimes it’s hard but when you learn how to really use it the right way, it leaves you much happier. I know. Trust me, I know.

I never reached far from home to find out what it was like. I hope you find a spark inside you that leads you away to explore, to visit, perhaps even to live. I’m ok if you go. I want you to go when you’re young enough to boldly explore the wild places, to climb the mountains or forge the streams that cause others to balk. I want you to be the one to answer a call, or a yearning. I want you to stand up and go when something needs to get done. I want you to know that when that voice inside you says ‘Let’s lend a hand’ that you jump up and do it. That voice inside you always means something. I hope you will listen. And trust it. Explore the world, go to places far away, share your smile and laughter with people of other cultures. We all laugh when we’re happy, it’s a universal language. Spread your beautiful smile, and amazing laugh around the world, if you dare. I know it will change you for the better, and take you to places of staggering beauty, that which you can see with your eyes but more importantly, beauty which will dwell inside you forever.

No matter where you go though, how far you move or reach or dream, my door will always be open to you. You are my only child, my only blood. I will be your landing pad no matter how old you are, or how far you go. You can always call me, regardless of the hour, or the need. Even if you just want to talk. Or not talk. I’m happy to just hear you breathing on the other end of the line. I hope you remember that.


I hope that you never resist doing something out of fear that you’ll fail. We all fail. I failed. I failed many, many times and yet I still got up and kept moving because I had no other choice. Even when it was hard, and it was hard more times than I will ever tell you. This life that you’re growing in to can be terribly hard and difficult. And imperfect. And unforgiving. And you will fail, but don’t ever turn your back on this life. Someday it will all make sense and you will find the path that’s right for you. It’s ok if it takes a long time. Mine did. Just know that every experience you have, those that deeply move you and the ones that bring you tears of sorrow, they will shape  and mold you in ways you can never imagine. Don’t ever wish a bad season of your life away, because when you rise up out of the fog and the view becomes easier, you’ll find a deeper appreciation of that beauty when it’s placed next to life’s ugliest moments.

Remember when you were little, and I used to tell you that I would never punish you for telling me the truth but that if you lied and I found out, there would be consequences? Do always tell the truth. It’s far easier, even when it’s hard. Lies are dark and ugly, and they become absorbed by your soul and live inside you, telling you all sorts of awful things. We really mean it when we say  ‘The truth will set you free.’ Because it does.

I hope you learn to trust your gut instinct; there’s a reason why some things just feel wrong to us. Don’t disrespect that instinct, or brush aside that uneasy feeling if it comes. Pay attention to your conscience, we all have one. And it’s the real deal. That voice inside you is the voice of your God, your Creator and He speaks to you through your heart. When you listen and pay attention, it becomes this glorious guide you simply can’t ignore. If you don’t listen, you may head down roads that take you to places no man should ever tread. Listen. Respect. Trust. You know that your God would never steer you wrong, but this world will try hard to drag you down, to immobilize you and close your eyes to His beauty and Grace. Many times you may not feel God’s love in you, but it never, ever leaves. Remember that.

You have a story, Griffin. It’s just beginning to unfold and it will be at times exciting and full of promise, but also will have moments of darkness and self-doubt. But it’s your story, and no one else’s. You build it and shape it according to the path that God has set you on, and no one has any right to push you off that road. Listen to your story, learn from it, but at the same time, pay attention to the stories unfolding of those around you. Care for their stories too. Never discount anyone’s life experience, never try to tell them their story is wrong. Every moment matters, even if it seems trivial and common. We’re all searching for the same thing; a place to belong, a life to call our own. Carve your path and allow others to carve theirs too. There will never be another You in all of time. In the thin vapor that is your life on this earth, make it shine farther than the deepest galaxy, trickling into the people around you. Others may forget what you’ve said; they may not remember everything you’ve done, but they will never forget how you’ve made them feel or the way you touched their hearts.

Find you, your dream, your path and your heart, and make your life remarkable. Make it extraordinary. It’s my hope that your 17th year on this earth is full of the bottomless joy of discovering more of who you are and where you are to go in this world. I’ve been blessed, amazed, humbled and honored to be your guide and I look forward to your adulthood with joy and wonder.

 

My truly thought-provoking friend Heather, who writes at The Extraordinary Ordinary, penned a letter to her two sons recently that inspired this post to my young man in honor of his birthday. This isn’t the first time, nor will it be the last that her words have stirred a response in me. Love your heart, Heather. xoxo

Where Griffin’s name came from……

The griffin, griffon, or gryphon is a legendary creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle. As the lion was traditionally considered the king of the beasts and the eagle was the king of the birds, the griffin was thought to be an especially powerful and majestic creature.
{{info and photo courtesy of http://www.listze.com/lists/Most-Popular-Legendary-Creature}}

big important event announcements

April 18th, 2011 | Comments Off

Every once in a while, exciting new things sprout up around my kitchen; fun events that I’m participating in that I think you would find interesting. Most of these fun events have arrived via my relationship with The Motherhood, which began last November and has proven to be a win-win for both of us.

The first event happens this Wednesday. And it’s all about breakfast.

Once again, I’m co-hosting a virtual chat on The Motherhood, and we’re going to talk all things breakfast, most importantly- what’s the best meal options to start your day? Did you know that the USDA nutritional guidelines have changed once again? They have. There’ll be some talk about nutrition too.

Here’s the details:

What: You’re invited to a Kellogg virtual breakfast to discuss morning nutrition and the recently released 2010 Dietary Guidelines.

When:
The virtual breakfast is happening on Wednesday, April 20, at 11 a.m. ET.

Where: In TheMotherhood – http://themotherhood.com/talk/show/id/62187

Who: Join Sarah Woodside, registered dietitian for Kellogg, and Liz Ward, registered dietitian, author and one of the Kellogg’s Breakfast Council members, to discuss the nutrients a good breakfast should provide, options for healthy breakfasts on the go, recent research findings on nutrition, and more.  Sarah and Liz will speak to us via live streaming video, while we chat and ask questions through a real-time, text-based conversation.

 

And if that isn’t enough……

Do you know this coming Friday, April 22nd is Earth Day? It is, once again. And through The Motherhood, I’ve agreed to be a state representative for Minnesota, taking my own measures to Be Kind to the Earth, on Friday, and every day.

I’m a huge advocate of reusable shopping bags, and carry a big stash in my car. During the growing season in Minnesota, I put all my compostable kitchen waste on our garden, digging it right into the soil and often getting lots of volunteer plants coming up from the seeds. Our garden and yard is all organic (much to our neighbors chagrin!) We recycle, of course, and we have a yard waste bin that our trash haulers collect each week from April to November. We just replaced our washer and dryer with more environmentally friendly options, including a water sensor on the washer that only fills it according to the amount of clothes you place in the tub. I’ve eliminated paper napkins in our house by using cotton washable napkins, and old worn out towels get re-purposed for garage and cleaning. Last year I swapped out all my personal care products for natural, eco-friendly options without sulfates, petrochemicals or pthalates. This year, the cleaning products are on my hit list.

What are your best eco-friendly habits? Will you join in and make your own pledge to care for the Earth?

 

DISCLAIMER:
I am being compensated for participating in the breakfast chat, but being the Earth Day representative is just a lot of good karma. And everybody needs good karma.

 

Make Earth Day count for you and your family this year!! In all fifty states on Earth Day, families will get outside, appreciate our planet and do good things for the Earth – and their collective actions are going to count, big time. B Kind 2 Earth Day is a project of Nickelodeon, the National Wildlife Federation, TheMotherhood.com and incredible bloggers across the country.
 

 

 

To encourage people to promise to do at least one earth-friendly action on April 22, 2011 — and beyond.