Monthly Archives: June 2012

Cooking with Kids

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Today felt like the best day ever!  The boys (11 and 9) rode their bikes with me as I trail ran, and they mountain biked.  Immediately there after we hit up a roadside produce stand run by a local couple that has been farming 4 miles from my house for years.  Not only did I get excellent quality produce for practically nothing (I tipped too), I also got great advice for my own garden.  Then I took the boys to the lake and taught them how to  canoe.  We saw so many amazing things, like a Blue Heron gliding just above the water 20 feet in front of our canoe then landing just of shore and feasting.  All of these things were amazing, but the best part of the day was cooking with my kids.

When we got home Cooper shucked the corn, Will cut the green beans, and I grated the carrots and zucchini.  The boys had talked with the growers today, and knew the food had been picked that morning.  The boys handled it, and prepared it themselves.  Then Cooper came in and made his first loaf of home-made bread entirely by himself.  They had a hand in preparing food from it’s raw natural state to what we ate for dinner.  HOW COOL IS THAT!  They learned quite a bit in the process.  There’s measuring, chemistry, cause and effect, bonding, among many many other lessons.  Bonding, I haven’t found a better way yet.  Of course they are still young.

Carrot-Zucchini Burgers ready to be cooked up!

The best part is that when you are done, you get to eat it!  They were so proud of themselves.  They couldn’t wait to watch their Dad eat it.  Perhaps, in the future, they’ll be more compassionate towards me when they don’t absolutely love what I’ve worked to make for them.

Nearly finished. The green beans and corn are there some where!

I only spent 6 dollars on the produce I bought today, and I didn’t even use it all!  I just can hardly put into words the amazing feeling of watching your kids comprehend FOOD, watching them comprehend where food comes from, how food is cooked, that food in boxes is different from food in the ground.  Food preparation, and meal sharing has long been a central part of cultural identity.  I feel like we all gained a sense of family culture today, more so than ever before.  It felt really important, I don’t know why but it did.   Also, it was amazing to watch their little chests puff out with pride when their Dad took his first bite!  Now I can’t wait for my own produce to ripen!!!  That’s going to be ultra splenderific!

Our “trash” from this meal.

OH I ALMOST FORGOT!  RECIPE:

Carrot Zucchini Burgers

5 medium carrots (2 cups): grated

1 medium Zucchini (1.5-2 cups): grated

1 cup corn meal

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1/2 c plain yogurt or sour cream

1 egg

2 10ish garlic cloves minced, OR 2-3 tbsp (sounds like a lot you can do this to taste.  I LOVE GARLIC.  I’d say at least 6 cloves/2tbsp)

dash of oregano, and basil or any other spices you chose

Mix it all together (hands work best)

Form into patties

Cook in a thin layer of olive oil until brown.

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Changes

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I haven’t posted in a while.  I’ve been busy setting up our gardens.  I thought I’d take a moment and list the changes we’ve made in the past year or so.  We are a normal family, in a normal house.  If we can make these changes anyone can.  Each of them majorly reduces harmful environmental impacts, and saves money.

1.) Switched to Florescent bulbs.

2.) We only use our air if it is over 85 and humid. (as foster parents this is not allowed if we have foster children in our home.  We have to down grade the temp to 77)

3.) We air dry our laundry unless we HAVE to wash it on a rainy day.  In the winter we can use our greenhouse.

4.) We collect rain water and use it to water our garden.

5.) Make our own cleaners.

  • Laundry Detergent is easy to make.  I use this recipe.  I have two boys and am married to a soldier.  I need a something that works well!
  • Household cleaner: I use 1/2 water, 1/2 white vinegar and add orange peels.  THis works well.  The vinegar absorbs any nasty odors.  It may stink at first, but after a few minutes you’ll only smell the oranges.

6.) Grow our own veggies:  I do not have a green thumb.  I started with a few herbs, and slowly worked my way up to actual food.  This year we will have; pumpkins, tomatoes, eggplant, carrots, onion, strawberries, and several varieties of pepper.  I have also expanded my herbs to include; lemon balm, and lavender. or buy at veggie stands, or pick your own farms.

7.) along with #6, Learn to can.  I started with applesauce and apple butter.  I would suggest starting there because the high acidity requires less equipment and is forgiving of errors.  You will need the ball/mason/kerr jars, tongs, and steril cloths to start.  When you move to veggies you need additional materials.  This site was terribly helpful.

8.) also an offshoot of #6; Learned to make Essential Oils, Tinctures, and Medicinal oils.  This was important, and easy.  The oils are used to scent things (lavender, rosemary) as well as in making things like, bug spray, soap, perfumes, and deodorizers.  I use the cold fusion method.

9.) Composting;  We have a single trashcan set aside for all food scraps and animal waste.  We throw some lime (or sawdust if available) on it to keep the odor down.  We turn it over every once in a while and viola we have our very own fertilizer!

10.) Stopped eating beef.  Beef is the #1 cause of agricultural environmental abuse.  It is the cause of the destruction of millions of acres of rain forest and violence in Brazil.  We didn’t die, even though my husband was raised on a cattle farm (a small free range operation I doubt his father knew what a gold mine he had).  In fact after eating the beef from my in laws small farm the stuff in the store only tasted like chemicals.  It was a pretty easy switch for both of us.  We made it a long time ago to be honest.  (though the man will slip up and eat a stake on RARE occasion.  I can’t really blame him).

Each of these changes means that our family is buying less prepackaged food.  Yes, this is great for our own health, but more importantly we are no longer contributing to the production of foods that use industrial farm methods, factory processing that emit harmful waste products, corporate practices that exploit the farmers.

The earth only has so much to offer us.  We are quickly approaching the limit, science has proved it.  We already have contaminated our water based food sources, and killed off 70-95% of our ocean based food sources.  My husband, a Deep Sea Diver, can attest to this.  He has observed NOTHING, not a single fish after 6 hours on the ocean floor miles from shore.  He says it looks like a lifeless desert.  The more efficient we become in meeting our NEEDS, the less addicted we are to the idea that we deserve endless comfort the better off our children will be.  This IS an emergency.  These are very easy ways to address the problem.  The thing is, most of these changes require little sacrifice on your part, so there are no excuses.  It is easy to take some herbs, put them in jar and let it set for 2 weeks.  It is even easier to boil water… the hardest part of making laundry detergent that is “organic”.  It’s a matter of conscious.