Usually, October 31st means it’s Halloween and we celebrate an observed day at another time for Stephen’s birthday.  Since we had Superstorm Sandy and Trick or Treat was moved, we will have observed Halloween on Friday.  So, we had a birthday party!  It was just the 4 of us and we had a great time.

The kids and I hung some decorations.  We also bought 4 Mylar balloons.


We (the kids) set the table with fun birthday décor.


They greeted Stephen at the door with happy birthday signing.  We enjoyed dinner at home.  Then, the kids used teamwork to carry a gift over to him.


Nick wrapped and decorated this gift all by himself.  He even made a card and punched holes to attach it to the gift.


There was singing and silliness and then there was dessert.  Once a year, I make apple dumplings.


They are hard to photograph, but are extremely tasty.  We use lots of cinnamon.  Everyone loved them.

Happy Birthday Stephen!  It might be quite sometime before we can celebrate on Oct 31st again.

 Posted by at 8:52 PM

Last week, the kids and I were in Target picking up a prescription and we bought some fruit cups.  I needed a few easy snacks for the kids.

These Del Monte packs were on sale on an end cap and I picked some up.


I needed a quick item to take to the J for a lifeguarding snack the other day and grabbed one of the peaches.  It tasted horrible!  I knew there was something fake in it.  Yuck!


When I got home, I checked the label and noticed SUCRALOSE.  I hate sucralose.  It has an awful taste.  It’s also known as Splenda.  It’s no wonder that I couldn’t eat them.


It was the same thing with the pears and oranges.


But, if you bought the mandarin oranges in light syrup….


they just had sugar.


Yeah, it’s my fault for not reading the “artificially sweetened” description on the front and reading further.  But, really Del Monte, you have a recipe that uses plain sugar and felt the need to make two different products.  One with real ingredients and one with fake ones?

This is just another reason why I can my own peaches and pears whenever possible.  I also like to use honey and maple syrup for my sweeteners most of the time, but I would pick sugar over anything artificial.

 Posted by at 8:54 PM

Last week, it was time to clean up our plot at the community garden.  Stephen and the kids came home with a bowl full of green tomatoes.  At first, I had no idea what to do with them.  Someone at church mentioned making green tomato jam.  I started looking at recipes and ended up looking at green tomato bread recipes.  The more I looked at them, the more they looked familiar.  Then, it hit me.  These recipes are zucchini bread with tomatoes instead of zucchini.


I immediately went to 100 Days of Real Food and printed the recipe for zucchini bread.   I just subbed the green tomatoes for zucchini and didn’t use any nuts.  The muffins turned out great, although they aren’t very photogenic.  I love being able to use local wheat flour, eggs, honey and tomatoes in the recipe.  I’ll definitely make them again.  I had chopped the tomatoes and then put them through the food processor.  I had enough for 2 batches, so I froze one.

The wind from hurricane Sandy is really blowing.  Off to charge my phone, just in case.

 Posted by at 9:20 PM

It’s a chilly, rainy night here.  According to the forecasters, we are in for a wet week since hurricane Sandy is 500 miles across and north east Ohio is in that zone.  Stephen went out to run an errand, and I thought it was the perfect time to try this recipe.

I adapted it from Heavenly Homemakers.


Hot Butternut Squash Custard Drink

3 cups Snowville Creamery whole milk
4 egg yolks, preferably from local eggs
1/3 cup real maple syrup, local
1 cup pureed roasted butternut squash
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
generous 1/2 teaspoon  ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon double strength vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, combine milk, egg yolks, maple syrup, squash, arrowroot powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until mixture begins to thicken.

Remove from heat and add  vanilla. Whisk until combined. Pour into mugs and serve warm.  Serves 4.

We have turned into milk snobs.  We love Snowville Creamery milk.  It’s just good.  I’m sure you could make this with any milk you’d like.  You’ll want whole milk (or a mix of other milk and cream).  I planned ahead and made pancakes with egg whites yesterday.  I saved the yolks for this recipe.  That was a good plan.  Alternatively, I would use the egg whites left over in French toast or a yolkless omelet the next day.  I buy a gallon of local maple syrup each season.  I supplement with more if needed depending on our usage that year.

A week or two ago, I roasted 9 butternut squash in the oven and froze the puree in 2 cup portions.  I used 1 cup in the pancakes yesterday and saved the rest for this recipe.  We did have a few spots in the finished drink where the squash wasn’t 100% smooth.  I’d probably figure out a way to double check it next time.  I’m thinking that I could blend it in the Vitamix or food processor a little longer to ensure smoothness.  I’m sure the pumpkin version is tasty as well, but we happen to have lots of butternut squash on hand.

I bought arrowroot powder at Penzeys a while back, so I had it on hand.  Cornstarch should work as well, but I didn’t try it with that.

We grate our nutmeg as needed, so I always approximate the measurement on the high side.  We generally like the dishes that we make with extra cinnamon, vanilla (hence the double strength) and generous nutmeg.

I liked that it wasn’t heavy and was sweet without being “sickening sweet”.  It was a nice treat.  I wouldn’t make it everyday, mostly because of the “whisking constantly” step, which took a while.  Stephen and I enjoyed a couch date this evening as we enjoyed the drinks..  We resisted the second serving and put some in the fridge.  I’ll be anxious to see how it reheats tomorrow.


Tonight, was the Fall Fun Fest (Halloween Party) at church.  It’s a fun event for the kids with lots of activities and trick or treat – indoors!  I’ll talk about their costumes on Halloween this week.


The kids had a great time.  The Brush High School Key Club was volunteering and it was nice of them to man the activity stations and play with the kids.  Nick tried to toss the balls into the Coke bottle.  Sally enjoyed getting a heart tattoo.


Nick picked out a friendly smile and a scary spider.


The filled gloves with candy corn finger nails and popcorn to make hands.


This year’s highlight was the donut eating contest.  The clown was my favorite costume of the night.


First round of donut eater ready!


Yum, but no hands!



It was a riot to watch!


Toward the end of the evening, Sally was surprised to notice this spider decoration.


While I passed out candy for trick or treat, a friend helped the kids out.


They were super tired.  That’s always a sign of a good night.

 Posted by at 10:00 PM

Today we had a cold and rainy pickup.  We gifted our greeter with a hot Starbucks beverage.  Starbucks makes everything better.  The kids enjoyed their special chocolate milk and it was a nice treat.  We arrived at the pick up just about 4PM when it opened and were in and out quickly.  We didn’t stay and hang out due to the weather.  There’s only so much room under the tent.


I’m starting to recognize the weather based on our bags.  It’s October and getting cooler.  We’re seeing more greens again and the start of more winterish crops like potatoes, rutabagas and cabbage.

Here’s what we were expecting to receive this week:

  • 1 head either savoy green cabbage or red cabbage (smaller heads)
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 to 2 rutabagas with tops, depending on size (some are rather large)
  • 3# bag red Norland potatoes
  • Approx. 1# onion
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 8 oz. piece goat gouda
  • 1 lb. Spelt Flour and Rosemary Linguini
  • 2# Roma tomatoes
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard
  • 1 package sirloin pork chops, approx. 1.5#
  • 1 carving pumpkin or bag of corn chips

It’s definitely the end of tomato season.  These are the “good” side of these Romas.  I have a couple that aren’t going to be usable.  We’ll be making mashed rutabaga/potatoes or creamy soup with those ingredients.


We ate the cauliflower for dinner with the pasta.  It was tasty.  It had one bad spot so I wanted to wash, cook and eat it quickly.


I’m a little behind on cooking our cabbage.  This will be a 2 head consumption week!


I’ll chop and add the onion to the “unstuffed cabbage recipe I hope to put in the crockpot tomorrow.  The small sweet peppers were a nice surprise.  I might stuff them with the red pepper Havarti from last week and roast them in the oven.


We had a choice between pumpkins and chips.  We took the chips since we already have a pumpkin.  If I could find some mild black bean and corn salsa from Blaze, we’d be all set.  The pork will probably get baked for a meal this weekend.


I’m not sure what to use the Gouda for.  It’s probably going to be enjoyed in its own so we can taste the flavors.  I don’t think I’ve ever had goat Gouda before.  We also have more greens this week.  Swiss chard and kale.  I’m pretty sure the Swiss chard will go into the Andouille sausage/sweet potato dish similar to what we made last week.


I haven’t decided on a use for the kale yet.  We may have another quiche in the cue for this week.  That’s one of my go to dishes when I don’t know what to do with a green.


It’s hard to believe that next week is the last week for summer.  I’m glad there no break before the winter CSA starts!  I’m also starting to think about getting a turkey.  We don’t host Thanksgiving at our house, but last year I bought a package anyway since we like many of the ingredients.  It was just a bit too much food at our house all at once.  If I buy a turkey, I’d cut it up and freezer the parts and probably also make some turkey sausage.  I need to decide soon.  Turkey deliveries are three and a half weeks away.


I’m such a party animal this week.  I was out both Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

On Tuesday, we had the monthly gathering for the Ohio Bloggers Association.  Instead of a scheduled activity, we met at The South Side in Tremont for dinner.  We had most of their enclosed patio for our group.  It was nice when we first arrived, but the room didn’t have good acoustics and it quickly got very loud and hard to chat once everyone had arrived.

It’s always nice to catch up with local bloggers and hear about what’s going on in the area.   We did some mingling and when we sat down to order, we did a quick roundtable for introductions and announcements.

I ordered the pulled pork pita and a cup of chili.  Both dishes were excellent, however the chili was quite spicy for my taste.  We had close to 20 people and 2 servers who did a great job with our group.

Other bloggers in attendance:

I sat near Jen, Kimberly, Nadine, Julie and Tammy.  It was nice to chat, meet and catch up with them.  Next month is a virtual blog swap.  We’ll be paired with another blogger and exchange guest posts.  It should be fun!

Last night, after we enjoyed the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, I headed to Brothers Lounge in Lakewood.  I’ve been taking the docent class at the museum and one of my classmates plays trumpet in M2B2, specializing in big band music that was playing.    I met up with 3 other classmates to hear the band.  I also had the burger special for a late dinner.

The band was fun and reminded me of when I played in jazz band.  I’ve always enjoyed music and last night was no exception.  Oh, and if you ever go to the Brothers Lounge, they have some painted renditions of a few artists on the walls.  Included are Phil Collins, Mick Jagger, Jimmy Hendrix, and Gregg Allman.  Trust me, everyone will want to figure out the photos and you can stump them with Gregg Allman.  We asked several people that worked there and finally our friend in the band found out for us.

After two nights out in a row, I volunteered to guard at the pool at 5:15AM this morning.  I’m beat and definitely crashing early tonight.

 Posted by at 7:41 PM

The warm weather this week made it a perfect evening for a trip to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Nick brought a friend from school this time. They enjoyed some time in the new whale exhibit before I arrived. Then it was time for a fall dinner at the picnic tables outside. (Don’t forget to brush the leaves off the table!)


After dinner, Nick found the boulders nearby an irresistible challenge. Sally spent some time hanging out with Steggie the stegosaurus.


We went back in, and after a whirlwind tour of the dinosaur hall and the Perkins Wildlife Center, spent the rest of our evening at the museum in the basement, at the Smead Discovery Center. It’s a perpetual favorite.

All in all, it was a fine family evening out.


Continuing with greens week.  One of the items that we received this week was Napa cabbage.  It looks more like romaine lettuce than cabbage.  One of my friends had suggested using it in stir fry.


My husband likes Asian flavors, including sesame oil.  I do not care for many Asian spices (especially sesame oil).  So, this dish was going to be for him and probably Nick.

I cleaned and chopped the Napa cabbage and put it aside in a bowl.

I put some sesame oil in a pan and heated it for a bit with a chopped garlic clove.  I added 1/2 cup water and some broccoli crowns.  I cooked it for a few minutes and then I added the cabbage along with some chopped mushrooms and leftover (cooked chicken) that we had in the fridge.

As the dish was cooking, I thought about spices and added some powdered orange peel.  I thought it would go well with the garlic and sesame oil.

I also realized that I had a package of Ramen noodles in the cupboard.  I discarded the flavor packet, crushed the dry noodles and stirred them in.

In just a few minutes, the dish was done.  Unfortunately, I didn’t snap a photo.  The reviews from Stephen and Nick were great.

Greens day two is complete.  Napa cabbage works well in improvised stir fry.

 Posted by at 9:51 PM

It’s greens week in our house.  In our CSA pick up on Friday, we received collards, lettuce, mixed greens, Napa cabbage and mustard greens.

I don’t like to waste anything from our CSA, and I like to find recipes for all of our items that our family enjoys.  Occasionally, we get a few new or unfamiliar things at once.  Last week’s pick up was one of those weeks.


These are mustard greens.  I’m sure that we’ve received them before, but I had no recollection of using them.  My friend suggested using them in quiche.  Since quiche is easy for me to make, that seemed like a good suggestion.

I cleaned the greens and removed the larger stems.  I chopped them and boiled them for about 3 minutes to soften them up.  Then, I put them in the bottom of an already prepared pie crust.  I had a weak moment at Whole Foods and bought a few already made whole wheat crusts.  They are not as good as homemade, but made for a few quick and easy dinners.

I added some left over cooked chopped chicken and cauliflower along with the egg/milk mixture (5 eggs, 1 1/2 cups whole milk) to the crust.  After baking for 20 minutes at 350 degrees, I added 4 oz. of smoked cheddar to the top.  I continued baking for about 20 more minutes until set.

It was fabulous and everyone liked it.  I’ll be open to other ideas for using mustard greens, but this one is a keeper.

 Posted by at 1:01 PM