Saturday, July 28, 2012

Weekend Cooking; Market fresh produce with an easy recipe

Weekend Cooking:

It's a busy day here in the Holt household.  My husband is off doing a shoot for 3M and I'm diligently working on homework to finish my Fantasy Literature course for Fresno Pacific.We also have a casual wedding this evening.

I did sneak out early this morning to go to our beautiful Farmer's Market which I missed while in Colorado. 

I picked up two baby eggplants, a basket of okra, and a nice-looking cucumber. I've been making a lot of easy dishes using garden produce especially using the large box of tomatoes I carted home from my mom's house.

I plan to make this eggplant recipe from The Chew; a cooking show my mom introduced me to. For dinner last night  I whipped this recipe up created by me using lots of fresh produce.

Garden-Fresh Vegetables and Rice

1-2 T. of olive oil
1 yellow squash, diced without the inner seed section
1 small zucchini, diced
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
4-5 soft tomatoes, diced
1 can of garbanzo beans
Several large pinches of sea salt and curry powder
Fresh ground pepper
Cooked brown rice as much as will feed your family

Saute the zucchini and yellow squash in olive oil for a few minutes and then added the garlic.  Continue to saute to soften the dreaded squashes that my children despise but will eat if cut small enough. Add the chopped tomatoes which will create a nice juice. Add the can of garbanzo beans and stir to mix.  Sprinkle in sea salt, ground pepper and curry.  Serve in low bowls over brown rice.  Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese, cilantro, or torn basil leaves.  This is a perfect summer recipe because you can tailor it to what ever extra veggies you have on hand or what you find at the market.  Spice it up with cumin or change the garbanzos to black beans for variety.

My husband just finished Ragbrai (the famous ride across Iowa) yesterday and he had three helpings.  My kids each ate one bowl and the only complaint Groovy Girl had was that I hadn't added enough tomatoes to her bowl. Enjoy! 

Oh and Adam Duritz:  What? Yes.  He was part of my week!

 The last night of Ragbrai I met up with my husband and we saw The Counting Crows together.  I still love Duritz's hair (real or not).  He was fun to watch and the music was fantastic!

 Happy eating.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A 9-year-old's view of the farm

(You can see which part of the farm Groovy Girl, holding Henrietta, loves the most-this one I snapped)

My two children and I just spent the last day and a half at my mom's house in Northern Iowa.  We went to relax and spend time on the farm.  The basil was flowering and my mom had beckoned me to make a few batches of pesto as well.  Groovy Girl ran around today taking photos of her choice on my new phone.

(the pretty girls)

(the wind tunnel)

(Herb's Tub-my stepfather's humor)

Thanks Mom-we had a great time!  We did make two batches of pesto (now in my refrigerator), rested, ate two delicious meals, and played a great game of Spite and Malice.  Great photos, right?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Friends and Salads

This is my friend Jennifer.  We've known each other for 20 years.  We've laughed and cried together.  She's seen me at my best and my worst.  She was my maid of honor when I married Greg and she was there for the birth of my first child.  We bumped bellies when our daughters were in utero-our girls are two months apart in age.  I love her dearly and she truly is like a sister to me.  I miss her terribly because some how we ended up in two different states; she stayed in Colorado and I moved to Iowa.  We travel  back there every couple of years but  I've always wished our children could grow up together.  These last few weeks I've been in Colorado for an extended stay and it was perfect.  I hung out with her four beautiful children while she worked and when she was off we played.  The photo above was taken at the Denver Zoo.  

Some of my earliest adult food memories are shared with her.  We used to make lunch together and one of our favorite meals was grilled cheese dipped in ketchup. Yep.  Healthy.  We were vegetarians together for years. We loved sushi with saki and Mexican food~usually accompanied by several margaritas.  While we did make some margaritas one night our eating was a little more healthy this time around.  She's turned into a fabulous cook and whipped up several great meals while we were there.

She shared two recipes with me that we made together and I will make again soon 
on my own, thinking of her.

(Our beet salad next to magazine photo)

Tomato and Beet Salad
(adapted from Everyday Food by Martha)

Roast 1# beets
Slice 2# garden fresh tomatoes
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
Arrange tomatoes on platter

Remove beets from oven and run under cold water, using a paper towel to remove skin.  Be careful-they are hot!  Once skin is removed slice beets and add to platter.
Sprinkle 1/4 cup (or more) feta cheese crumbles over top.  Add 1/4 cup chopped cilantro.  Drizzle with olive oil and sea salt and fresh ground pepper.  

Garbanzo Bean Salad
(We dug in so quickly we forgot to take a photo)

1 can garbanzo beans or soak your own
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
olive oil (more)
red wine vinegar (less)
sprinkle sea salt

Mix together and eat. Yum.

Thank you Jen for such a fabulous holiday!  You are courageous and even more amazing now!  I love you and hope our friendship continues to grow for more years to come.

This post is linked to the ever friendly Beth Fish Reads weekend cooking meme hosted by Candace.  Feel free to head over there by clicking on the link and read other food-related posts.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Happy Monday from sunny Colorado!

We've had an excellent trip to Colorado.  Teenage Boy and Greg returned last week.  Groovy Girl and I have been lucky enough to stay for an extended time to help my brother move into a new house and we are happily spending a lot of extra time with my dearest friend, Jen and her four kids.  These photos share Teenage Boy and Groovy Girl's trip to Grand Lake to fly fish.  Teenage Boy has lots of experience as every summer he has been able to fly fish with Grandma Janice and Grandpa Dean but it was Groovy Girl's first time. She caught a 10-inch brown trout but that didn't get captured before being returned to the stream. You can see they saw a lot of wildlife while fishing!

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Year without Autumn by Liz Kessler

I have to admit I did expect something magical from the woman who generally writes about mermaids but the magic in this tale comes from time travel not ocean creatures.

A Year Without Autumn
294 pgs

Summary:  Thirteen-year-old Jenni's much-anticipated vacation with her family and best friend Autumn goes awry when an old elevator transports her to a future in which everything has changed, and she must not only return to her time but find a way to prevent what she has seen from coming true.

Jenni doesn't choose to travel forward in time; it just happens and what she finds is confusing and unhappy.  How did all this mess occur? It takes her awhile to figure out what has happened to make her and her best friend's life so miserable and then how to sort the trauma into something good.  Jenni discovers that a missed horse riding date with  Autumn causes a near-fatal accident for Autumn's little brother, Mikey.  The trickle down affect of this accident is what sheds light on a sad future for her best friend's family and her in retrospect.

This is a wonderful book to share with a friend or a class full of students.  Problem solving and cause and affect would be good discussion topics.  Jenni grows as a character and I love how this makes her more sure of herself and her friendship with Autumn.  You got to trust yourself first. I think young readers (probably girls) will love this time travel book about friendship.  It reminded me of that famous line "There but for the grace of God go I".  You never know what circumstances can bring a family down if Autumn's family can change in an instance.

Random quote:
I slink out of the house like a burglar, silently closing the front door behind me, and head for Autumn's building.
The lobby is empty.  It looks the same as it's looked every day, the same as it looks every year.  The marble walls, the fountain trickling out behind a glass panel, the archway to the first-floor hallway.  The elevator.  The one we've always used.  And next to it, the other one: the one that's never worked.  Until yesterday. (146)

While it doesn't have mermaids for characters this story is a though-provoking twist of fate tale. Perfect for understanding the complexities of family life and how simple moments can change everything.