CSA Box Week 8

Another fun CSA box:

Greens! — Help me identify them (the middle is chard)

A bag of lettuce and radishes

Onion, tomatoes, kohlrabi, broccoli

Two acorn squash, a cabbage, and a carrot

I made fried green tomatoes for the first time — thanks to a commenter I don’t remember who gave me the idea! They were great — all I did was slice them, dip them in egg, batter them (plain gf bread crumbs), and fry them in a pan with a little olive oil. For dinner I paired them as a side with bean chili and tortilla chips. My husband was a big fan. I fried up some red tomatoes as well, but green really is the best. Not sure why…

Oh yeah — the CSA box comes to about $17 per week/$35 per box. It takes us the full two weeks to get through the whole box.

And I almost forgot —

All that and a sack of potatoes!

One week until the reveal…

Thank you for being patient. Just one more week to go! Can you make it?

Then I’m out — my real name, my face and everything!

I’ll send you details soon about the reveal, but know this: It’s going to be on TV and in print.

How am I holding up? Most of the time I’m not thinking about it at all. I’m good at compartmentalizing. I have a lot going on. When I remember “oh yeah, it’s next week,” I feel a surge of nerves/fear/anxiety/excitement. A big mess of emotion. I’m just taking it one day at a time –for my own sanity.

When I blogged about the book a few weeks ago, many of you asked if it would be available via Kindle/Nook/ebook, etc and at the time I had no idea. The answer is yes!

Everything will be available on October 5th (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Chronicle Books).

One week away.

Ready or not

Lunch Wrap Up: Week of Sept 12th

I’m already sick of packing my son’s lunch. September is not even over!

My son’s lunches

Banana bread muffin, pickled beets (farmer’s market), peaches (farmer’s market), omelette with sliced turkey and broccoli (CSA), applesauce, pepitas

I did not pickle those beets myself. I bought them from a stand at the farmer’s market already in jars. My son loved them. Child care menu: Salisbury steak (!), mashed potatoes, diced carrots, orange and wheat bread.

Applesauce, peaches (farmer’s market), pickles (farmer’s market), fish, spinach (CSA), potatoes (CSA), pepitas

That’s tilapia with a sweet red chile sauce (Thai Kitchen brand). It was a hit all around. Child care menu: BBQ chicken, rice, salad greens, pear and wheat dinner roll.

Chicken nuggets, peaches (farmer’s market), potatoes (CSA), spinach (CSA), cucumber muffin (CSA), crunchy green beans

I crumbled and sent chicken nuggets. I asked my son if he wanted leftover lamb or chicken nuggets in his lunch and big surprise — he wanted chicken nuggets. I shouldn’t have given him a choice. I had to dig out the gluten free, extra special ones from the freezer but still. What has it been? Chicken nuggets maybe twice in 2011? I feel like a hypocrite since I do rail on chicken nuggets. At least these ones are not 50% or more fillers. Sometimes I just feel bad for the kid, you know? At least he loves spinach. Child care menu: Chicken tenders, cheesy mashed potatoes, broccoli, applesauce, and rye bread.

Yogurt, pickles (farmer’s market), nachos with turkey, beans, and dairy-free cheese, peaches (farmer’s market), green beans (farmer’s market)

It was after this lunch that I was told that I’m not packing enough food for my little guy. So I’m trying to bulk up the lunches. Frankly, that shocks me because I pack more that I imagine he’ll actually eat. Portion-wise he might eat two of these containers at lunch. Child care menu: Cheese ravioli with meat sauce, cucumber slices with dip, and watermelon.

Yellow rice, hummus, pepitas, applesauce, pita (gluten free), two eggs, peaches (CSA), bar

Well, at least I won’t be accused of packing too little. Child care menu: Turkey hot dog, baked beans, salad and an apple.

My lunches

Egg salad sandwich, pickles (farmer’s market), peach half (farmer’s market), spinach (CSA), pepitas, mini-KIND bar

I love egg salad. It’s so delicious.

Tilapia with potatoes (CSA) and pickles (farmer’s market), spinach (CSA), peaches (farmer’s market), mini-KIND bar 

That fish was so good. The potatoes are an odd accompaniment, I know.

Lamb with “fried quinoa” and spinach, cucumber muffin (CSA), peaches (farmer’s market), mini-KIND bar

I decided that if you can do “fried rice,” that you must be able to do “fried quinoa” so I tried mixing up egg in the quinoa and I thought it turned out great. The true test is the husband and he thought the quinoa was good. He likes the plain quinoa, not the black quinoa (at least not straight), so I mixed them up.

Nachos with turkey and beans, peaches (farmer’s market), pickles (farmer’s market), and green beans (farmer’s market)

Nachos can be made healthy and delicious! I also want to note here that I have always hated pickles, but these “bread and butter” pickles I bought at the farmer’s market are to die for! Who knew?

Repeat with broccoli (CSA) and mini-KIND bars

By Friday I’m usually so sick of packing lunches. Luckily I could repeat the nachos again.

My Journey to the Farm: Making Goat Milk Ice Cream

Close Encounters with the Goat Kind

This summer we took a trip to a farm that is affiliated with our CSA. I found the experience to be life-changing.

But first, a little background. Before I started this blog, my son was very sick. He was getting ear infections every two weeks. He had a constant runny nose and a rattle in his chest. No one was sleeping. I started the blog after the Christmas where we took him to the ER twice. Throughout the first month of January 2010 when I was eating school lunch, my son was eating day care food and was ill all the time. Finally in February 2010 he had ear tubes put in. I thought they would be the magic cure I had been waiting for. They weren’t (but they can be for a lot of families — listen to your doctor).  My son continued getting ear infections, though they were occurring less frequently, averaging once per month. By age 16 months my son had had eight ear infections and eight rounds of antibiotics.

In April 2010 I talked to my doctor about taking my son off of cow’s milk. Our pediatrician, who I adore, told us that the cause of my son’s troubles was child care and not the food. I couldn’t ignore what I thought was going on with my son, especially because I had started this blog and discovered that food really did have an effect on people. My son was already drinking lactose-free cow milk. One of my friends mentioned goat milk to me and I found some at the regular old grocery store. I compared the nutritional facts between cow milk and goat milk. The milks are virtually identical in nutrition (goat’s milk is slightly lower in fat content), but goat milk costs around $4.00 a quart. I thought I’d give it a try in spite of the cost.

My son didn’t protest the change in milk. The ear infections disappeared.*

All this to say I guess I have a particular fondness for goats.

***

Earlier this year my husband and I were talking and I told him that one day I’d like to have backyard chickens and keep bees. He was less than thrilled, but commented, “I would rather get a goat.”

I thought that was a strange idea because a hoofed animal strikes me as way more work that backyard fowl and insects. But my husband was thinking about it economically: we spend a small fortune on goat milk.

When we got the flyer from our CSA saying that they were offering a two-hour session onsite entitled “Making Goat Milk Ice Cream,” I highlighted it with a bright yellow. It would be something that my son would enjoy as he loves animals and farms and, the best part, he could eat the fruits of his labor without worry.

Weeks later we drove to the farm. We were in the car for a very long time. I had to use my phone’s GPS when we found ourselves on a dirt road. I was sure it couldn’t be that rural. We almost drove right past a field with lines and lines of produce just coming up. That green stuff was headed for my CSA box!

Who wouldn’t fall in love with a farm like this?

We got a tour of the farm and the animals. At first I was interested. We all enjoyed hanging around in the little goat paddocks letting the goats come up and sniff us. A goat even tried to eat my small metal key chain that I had left hanging out of my pocket. They were curious, friendly, and ready to eat anything — really endearing animals. But after about an hour, I was getting a little impatient. I was there to milk a goat. This was a relatively short session and I wanted to have plenty of time for goat milking. Luckily my son and husband were enjoying themselves and were unaware of my getting slightly annoyed at the wait.

Finally our guide told us that we all were going to go ahead and make goat milk ice cream. As we followed her inside, I run up and quickly asked about the actual milking of the goats and she explained that the goat milk we were using to make the ice cream had been milked previously and pasteurized. We were not going to be able to use raw goat milk to make ice cream so we would make the ice cream first, while the ice cream machine was making the ice cream we would milk goats, and then we would sit down and eat the ice cream.

At least the goat milk we were about to use to make the ice cream was from the goats that we met — the farm has pasteurizing equipment. I had been interested in maybe trying raw goat milk, but that was not going to happen. Why would I want to try raw goat milk you ask? Because people like me (who have figured out they can’t drink any kind of dairy product without having “problems”) sometimes respond well to raw goat or cow milk. It’s great that my son can drink goat milk from the store and be ok. Me? I realized that my body gets mad at both cow and goat milk. Frustrating. I miss dairy and I’m only dairy free because I don’t want to be in the bathroom all the time (like I used to be).

We settled in to make the ice cream and I noticed the instructor bringing out goat milk, a huge jar of honey, and organic cow’s milk heavy cream. I pulled her aside and mentioned, “I thought there would be no cow’s milk products when I signed up for the class.” She said, “Well, goat milk doesn’t have enough fat in it to make cream. So we use organic heavy cream.”

Oh boy, I thought. Well, now our son is going to have trouble with this ice cream. My husband told me to relax and I tried to shrug it off.

***

After we got everything going with the ice cream machines, we went outside to the barn to milk the goats. The guide instructed us that milking a goat is not like what you see on TV when people milk a cow. She told us we had to pinch with our thumb and forefinger and then squeeze with our remaining fingers, sort of like wrapping the other fingers around the teet. No pulling down.

My son was so excited seeing all of the adults and kids moving their hands and learning the correct hand motion that he was practicing, too. I looked down at him moving his hands and I had to snap a shot of his adorable attempts.

 He’s trying so hard

Finally, it was our family’s turn so we went up to the goat. The instructor held the goat’s rear hooves. My husband milked the goat, my son got the hand movement right and milked him too! I was shocked and a little choked up. Then it was my turn and I didn’t get it right. I was trying to milk a cow I guess so the instructor reminded me “pinch and squeeze” and then I got it. Yeah me!

When we finished milking, the group went back to get the ice cream, bowls, and spoons. We set up on some picnic tables and the instructor started serving everyone up. I decided that I would try a spoonful and just suffer through any “after effects.” We were not going to deny our son at all. I told the instructor to “just put a little in my bowl” and she obliged.

I put the spoon to my mouth. I tasted the ice cream. The rich taste of dairy swirled in my mouth and oh the honey. It was dark and and astonished my last taste bud.

It was the best ice cream I ever had. Immediately I wanted a second helping. And thankfully there was a lot to go around. My son had three helpings and, well, I had at least two. Maybe three. I don’t know.

I got choked up. The ice cream made my eyes water because I didn’t know that ice cream could be that wonderful. Just pure and sweet. Just thinking about that moment brings tears to my eyes.

***

Leaving the farm was tough. We had a great time and we all felt connected to the animals. An hour later I waited for my son and I to have “digestive issues.” Two hours went by. Nothing happened. Five hours went by. Nothing at all.

Everything agreed with both of us. I’m still stunned.

Now I want to 1) Move to a small farm 2) Get a goat 3) Make goat milk ice cream as much as I can.

Open sky on a gorgeous summer day

Still in the process of convincing my husband that we need to move more rural. The fact that he also thought the goat milk ice cream was divine is working in my favor!

Dreaming of my next spoonful….

*In September 2010 I took him off all day care food and cow’s milk-based yogurt and cheese. Finally in October all gluten. There went the chronic diarrhea and asthma! 

Guest Blog: Lunch Tips from Project Bread

Kirk Conrad is the Chef in Residence at Project Bread – The Walk for Hunger, the largest antihunger organization in Massachusetts. For the past 5 years, Chef Kirk has worked in schools to change the food culture and eating habits of elementary, middle, and high school students. For more information on Project Bread, please visitwww.projectbread.org

As the Chef in Residence for Project Bread, I spend my days preparing nutritious lunches for students in schools, and ensuring that the meals kids eat at school are healthy ones. However, as a father of two, I know how difficult it can be to pack lunches that are both appealing and good for them. I’ve come up with a few tips that can make packing a wholesome, nutritious lunchbox a lot easier:

  • Pack tomato and lettuce separately from sandwiches, as they can make sandwiches soggy and unappealing to kids.
  • Making the switch from chocolate milk to 1% white milk can be easier than you think. To enforce this, you can take the hard line and make it the only thing you’re going to offer. A second thing is to make sure to educate your kids on how important it is for them to have the nutrients in white milk as opposed to strawberry and vanilla milk. Education and reinforcement are the best tools you have as a parent. And, finally, make every effort to keep milk very cold. Do this by keeping it in the refrigerator until morning and packing it right by the ice pack.
  • At the grocery store, look for low-sodium and low-fat deli meats.
  • To convince your kids to eat fruits and veggies at lunch, cut them into small, easy-to-eat pieces. If you cut up apples, douse with a little lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown.
  • If your child is a picky eater, substitute classics for healthier options. For example, if your child is a big peanut butter and jelly fan, you can give him or her a no-trans-fat sunflower-seed spread with a no-sugar fruit preserve.
  • If my kids eat their healthy food, I feel that they can have a treat. Sometimes I buy baked multi-grain chips or vegetable chips in small packages. Look for reduced salt varieties. Also there are 100-calorie cookies that make a nice treat. We discuss the fact that their lunch comes first and then the treat.

When packing your child’s lunch, include them in the process. This is the most important step in making healthier lunches for kids. Talk about what ingredients are going in, you need to gain buy-in. If the kids don’t like what’s in the lunchbox, they simply will not eat it. You have to educate your children that what they have for lunch matters. My girls have taught me that it’s important to urge them to try new things and to compromise as we start the new school year.

Why your education is important: Letter to my child #mcblogathon

Last week Parenting’s Mom Congress hosted a blog-a-thon inviting parents/bloggers/anyone to write a letter to their child(ren) as a new school year starts telling the kids how they will make their education the best it can be, using the Twitter handle #mcblogathon. Here’s my belated contribution to the blog-a-thon:

Dear Sweetie,

You are still very young, but I’m already thinking about your education. Part of the reason why we changed daycare centers was that we wanted to make sure your needs were being met. I wanted more structure for you in a school-like setting. The transition has not been easy, but I think you are doing great.

When I was a little girl, I went to a lot of different schools because my parents moved all over the country. It was very hard, especially in middle school and high school. My parents made decisions to move based upon financial motivations, not educational ones. In college, I was envious of some of the high school education experiences of my peers. Thankfully I was prepared for college, but I want more for you.

I can’t promise that we won’t move and there won’t be difficulties in your young life. Growing up is tough. However, I will tell you that I will make sure that you are challenged at school as well happy and healthy.

What I have learned in my work is that there is no “do over” for childhood. Every school year must be another opportunity for new growth. Now is a critical period of development for you, little guy. Dad and I love watching you grow and mature — it’s such a joy.

All you get is one shot at an education. It better be damn good because you’re all I got! We are so proud of our terrific little boy.

Your biggest fan,

Mom Q

Join Parenting’s Mom Congress on Education and Learning on Facebook at www.facebook.com/momcongress to connect with parents around the country who are standing up for great schools.  Want to make your school great right NOW?  Enter the Mom Congress School Transformation Grant contest to win $20,000 for your school. 

Lunch Wrap-Up: Week of Sept 5th

Loving my job and new surrounds. School meals are the same, exactly the same. BUT!! I’ve been waiting to tell you something… The kids get a recess! What a revelation! More later on that development…

Here’s what I packed (four day week):

My son’s lunches

Homemade dairy-free mac and cheese, applesauce, eggs (from the farmer’s market), crunchy green beans, peaches (farmer’s market)

To make the sauce, I found her recipe online and used it as a guide. My kid ate everything, but left some of the mac and cheese. One of you guys reminded me that I should use egg molds. I bought and used them back in December (during the Eat Along Challenge) and promptly shoved them in the back of the silverware drawer. They are a huge hit. Also — “day care” or “daycare” ?? — every week I can’t be sure! Day care menu: Chicken cacciatore, pasta, mixed veggies, peach applesauce and rye bread.

Half of a bagel with goat cheese, peaches (farmer’s market), tomato soup, tomatoes, breadsticks.

My son saw the baby tomatoes at the grocery store and told me he wanted to buy them. I don’t like to refuse him veggies he requests, but I should have. He only ate two of the four. Day care menu: Mac and cheese, salad with French dressing, and apple.

Bacon, broccoli (CSA), cheesy mashed potatoes, peaches (farmer’s market)

Too small of a lunch. He was ravenous when I picked him up from daycare. Those potatoes were terrible! Whoops! Day care menu: Turkey hot dog, au gratin potatoes, peas, banana, and wheat bun.

Goat cheese cracker sandwich, broccoli (CSA), egg, pickled beets (farmer’s market), peaches (farmer’s market), pepitas

Big hit of a lunch. Only the pepitas came back. Day care menu: Chicken marinara, pasta, “winter blend,” peaches, Italian bread. A lot of pasta and bread on their menu for the week, eh?

My lunches

Homemade dairy-free, gluten-free enchiladas, peaches (CSA), corn muffin (corn kernels from CSA), carrot (CSA)

I used corn tortillas and ground bison for a twist. I also used the sauce I made myself. My husband was in heaven. My son? Not so much. Just ate the bison meat. I couldn’t send it in his lunch because I didn’t want him to waste the precious enchiladas.

Repeat! If it ain’t broke…

Bacon, broccoli (CSA), mini-KIND bar, carrot (CSA), mashed potatoes, peaches (farmer’s market)

Not enough food! The potatoes were so bad that I couldn’t eat them.

Crockpot FAIL, egg (farmer’s market), peaches (farmer’s market)

I have decided that rice is a permanent FAIL in the crockpot. I tried to mix up potatoes, squash, wild rice, and pinto beans (with water, etc) in the crockpot and cook it all day. It turned out TERRIBLE. I could get through it all. Mark my words, I will never do rice in the crockpot again!