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.


Today I took Nick and Sally to Eddy’s Fruit Farm in Chesterland to pick apples. We met a friend of Nick’s there, as well as his parents and grandmother. I enjoyed meeting them, and it turns out that his Dad and I have some links via my alma mater.

In any event, the purpose of the day was apples. As Lyn may have mentioned, the tree fruit crop this year was hurt badly by this spring’s weather. Some U-pick farms don’t have picking at all this year, while others, like Eddy’s, are open for picking fewer days than usual. That said, the picking was great today. The trees were laden with ripe apples. Here and there they were even bunched like grapes down a heavily-bent branch.

As usual, the picking on the low branches wasn’t very good near the entrance. There were still some to get up high (I’m over six feet tall, which helps) and, of course, the farthest corner of the orchard is always the least-picked.

We started with Golden Delicious. Nick spent some time picking with his friend, while Sally picked with me. She was full of giggles when she picked one apple and had the other one come along for the ride.

There was a chilly breeze blowing despite the sunny day, and Sally was cold. Worse, she was missing her nap, so she soon asked to ride in the stroller. A few minutes later, she asked, “Daddy, can I pick from the stroller?”  I found a low-hanging branch and let her try. After she picked two of the four apples on that branch, she was done and ready to nestle under her blanket. We switched to picking some kind of red apple, and Nick decided to give one a try. It disappeared quickly, so it must be good.


We picked 49 pounds of apples, which comes to about a bushel and a quarter. I was impressed with our haul until Lyn told me it took 21 pounds of apples to can 7 quarts of applesauce. Ah, well, I can pat myself on the back for hauling all 49 pounds to the car while pushing a stroller and conversing with an inquisitive Nick. Yes, there are special skills daddies develop.

All in all, it was a good outing. We left a few apples on the trees, but if you go, be sure to call first to check hours and availability.


The end of September brought us to Farmpark, one of our favorite family places, once again. This time was for the Fall Harvest Festival and Antique Tractor and Farm Engine Show, which is a bit of a mouthful, but lots of fun.

It was a grey day that threatened rain, but we went anyway. Right when we walked in the door, Nick and Sally found the Western Reserve Spinners and Weavers Guild practicing their craft. The ladies of the guild were friendly and patient and had just the right touch answering Nick and Sally’s questions, or in at least one case, just keeping on spinning as Nick inspected the wheel from all angles. I thought it was very nice that they were perfectly happy to stop their craft to answer questions from our two little ones. The weaver answered particularly many questions, and showed Nick and Sally all about her loom and the patterned weave she was making.

We went outdoors next, and saw quite a few fascinating tractors and other machines. I think I enjoyed this part the most, though Nick found some interesting things to look at, too. Sally quickly saw enough tractors and machines and preferred to stay comfortably cozy.

Farmpark had a corn maze to explore, but for the little ones, they also had a straw bale maze. Sally was hesitant, but Nick ran right in. Soon she saw the fun he was having and decided to dive in and had fun, too.


It was lunchtime, a very important time of the day for two young ones (and their father), so I tried to hustle them to the car. But no, they saw the woodcarver and had to stop. I’m glad we did. He was every bit as wonderful with them as the spinners and weavers were, and patiently explained what he was doing and let Nick and Sally touch anything they wanted except his blades, which he kept a little less obvious than safer things. Sally was tired and started out watching from her stroller, but soon she wanted to get into the action as well.


He explained to them that they could carve, too. My protective instincts got a little worried, but he soon explained to them (and to me?) that the chips he cut off with his knife were the same thing as the dust from sandpaper, and that sandpaper was like thousands of tiny knives that they could carve with. They jumped at the opportunity to participate and soon were discovering how sandpaper turns rough wood into smooth.

By then we were well into lunchtime. My plan for our grumbellies having collapsed, I invited Nick and Sally to lunch in Farmpark’s cafe. That’s a rare treat in our frugal family. Just to make it better, we sat next to some good friends that our family knows well. It took a few reminders to get all the kids to eat instead of playing. We went home tired, fed, and sleepy. It was another great day at Lake Farmpark.



Hi, everyone! Husband Stephen here with a guest post. Tomato season is upon us, we’re still in melon and corn season (yum!), and there’s pretty much produce everywhere this time of year. It’s great!

Here is what we received in this week’s Geauga Family Farms CSA small share.


First up are the tomatoes, in regular size and cherry. In fact, some of these cherry tomatoes are so small that they may count as the “grape” variety.


Next, some onions and a bell pepper. The onions are strong. I could smell them as soon as I opened the bag.


Corn and cabbage…


And finally, a head of lettuce and a medium watermelon.


The forecast is for a break from this unusually cool August now that these peppers have arrived to heat things up…


I love this time of year!


Today was the third week for the Geauga Family Farms CSA. It was a crazy evening for me (husband Stephen) to pick up the CSA,but I made it to Whole Foods in time to buy a bit of dinner (sushi and tomato bisque soup – a truly international combination) before picking up the CSA. Then it was off to the day’s next event…

Here is what I found in this week’s share:


First up was some good-looking lettuce and some bunching onions.


Tomatoes and peas. Yum! I’m not sure if these are garden or sugar snap peas. I’ll have to try one or two to find out.


Garlic scapes and zucchini.


Last, but not least, some cherry tomatoes.


We also ordered a dozen eggs as an extra item.


Hi, everyone! This weekend’s adventure with Nick and Sally was to the Great Lakes Science Center, where they took me (their dad) to see all the neat stuff.

Great Lakes Science Center main entrance

I was excited to go. Though I have been to GLSC for various events, I have never really been in the galleries to see the permanent exhibits. Even better, part of the museum has been redone as the NASA Glenn Research Center’s visitor’s center, after budget cuts forced the closure of the original visitor’s center. I have fond memories of numerous school trips to NASA and was looking forward to seeing it again after a few decades away.

Imagine my excitement when, as soon as we walked in the door, I saw a real Apollo capsule on display. This one carried a crew to Skylab, the US’s first space station. Nick has been very much into rockets and space ships lately. I wasn’t sure he understood at first, but he got excited once he had a look inside and saw the seats and controls. Later, he told Lyn, “I saw a real space ship!”

Nick and Sally take a look at the Skylab 3 Apollo capsule

Nick and Sally tolerated a trip into the biomedical engineering section, to humor their Daddy who has worked in that field for some years. They enjoyed it more than they expected. Nick liked working controls to move a dummy’s arm (the exhibit was about using electronics to move paralyzed limbs), and Sally liked playing with a giant DNA model.

Next, we visited the play area on the third floor. Nick enjoyed fixing a play car they had. Sally preferred to drive it.


Uh oh, it looks like Sally needs to make some repairs, too…

On the way out, we passed through the electricity exhibit. Nick asked recently how traffic lights work, so he took a few minutes to investigate.

After too many detours to count, we finally made it out of the exhibit hall and into the main entryway. I breathed a sigh of relief — at this age, lunch and naps are very important things. Suddenly Nick exclaimed, “Daddy, I can see the stairs!” I looked around, seeing an escalator, but no stairs. Eventually I saw what both children had already seen. This escalator had a glass side to show the steps circulating back down to the bottom. The escalator held their attention for longer than many of the exhibits.

Finally, we made it back to our car. The outing was deemed a success by all. We will be returning. We have plenty of museum left to explore.


Hi, everyone. I’m back for another guest post. Today Nick and I had a fun morning skiing. We finally got enough snow for some cross-country skiing. Conditions were not perfect, but Lake Metroparks’ Chapin Forest Reservation was hopping as skiers released their pent-up urges to strap boards to their feet and have some fun. This was Nick’s second time, and he had a ball. He still shuffles in the skis. I haven’t persuaded him to glide yet. I did hear, though, all about how Curious George’s friend Bill said that skis were the most fun way to travel in deep snow. :-) I didn’t get any pictures, though several people told me how cute Nick looked on his skis.

One great thing about Chapin Forest, by the way, is that they rent kids’ skis for $3 for the first hour, prorated for rentals less than an hour! Nick lasted about 35 minutes today, so I paid all of $2. I am grateful to the Lake Metroparks for making it so affordable. There are no other costs, by the way — the ski trails are free.

Being out in the cold weather also makes this a great time to think about heart-warming foods. This one is a doozy — a fabulous recipe that I’m definitely going to make again. As Lyn may have mentioned, I’m making an effort to give her a break in the kitchen by cooking a meal once a week or so. It’s a little intimidating, but I’m forging ahead. I think I was a reasonably competent bachelor cook, but my bachelor days are long past and my skills are a bit rusty.

Anyway, enough of that. A few weeks ago, our Fresh Fork CSA brought us andouille sausage. Lyn wasn’t sure what it was, but I’ve had this spicy pork sausage from Cajun country before and enjoyed it. If you don’t have andouille handy, chorizo makes a pretty good substitute. Andouille is fatty and flavorful. It is usually used as a way to add flavor rather than as a prime ingredient. We also had several sweet potatoes and a fistful of shallots, all stored from earlier weeks’ CSA shares.

With a goal of using up what we had on hand, I found Five And Spice’s recipe for sweet potatoes and andouille online. It’s kind of like a roasted hash. It would make a good side dish, though we used it as a light entree.

If there’s one cooking technique I’ve learned from Lyn, it’s to use recipes for inspiration, not as laws. Here is my version of the dish:

  • 5 medium-to-large sweet potatoes
  • a handful of shallots
  • 1/2-3/4  pounds andouille sausage  (I used 1.3 pounds, but see below…)
  • some fresh baby spinach
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • paprika, smoked or regular (optional, see below…)


  1. Peel the sweet potatoes. Remove all yucky parts. If they are late-season organic sweet potatoes, as ours were, you will definitely have some yucky parts to cut out. Cut the sweet potatoes into cubes about 1/4″ on a side.
  2. Peel and chop the shallots.
  3. Clean the spinach.
  4. Preheat oven to 425  °F.
  5. Put the andouille in a frying pan and sear it on all sides until a probe thermometer in the middle reads a safe temperature. I cooked ours to 160 °F. It coasted to above 165 °F after I took it off the heat, which was my target temperature for killing any little nasties that might be in it.
  6. Toss together the sweet potatoes and shallots with the olive oil. I forgot the paprika, but this is where you would include it if you have a better memory than me. Put them in a roasting dish. (I used a 9×13 oven-safe glass pan.)
  7. Roast the potatoes until they are starting to get tender, about 20-25 minutes. While the potatoes roast, let the andouille cool enough to handle, then break it up into 1/4″ pieces.
  8. Stir the andouille into the roasted potatoes. Roast until the potatoes are deliciously tender, about 5 more minutes.
  9. Remove from oven. Toss with the spinach, which will wilt.
  10. Serve hot.

The flavor of the andouille melts all over everything and makes a wonderful savory-sweet mix with just a touch of zing. The small pieces of sausage and potatoes let the full flavor emerge in every bite.

I have a few things I would do differently next time. First of all, I used the full 1.3 pounds of andouille that we had. If you are used to lots of meat in your dishes, you would probably love it, but we, chez Lyn Style, have been gradually growing accustomed to vegetable-centric meals. I will use less andouille next time, such as the 1/2 to 3/4 pound I suggested above. Second, I might try leaving out the olive oil. Between the oil and the sausage, it was a bit too oily for my taste.

[I wouldn’t use less andouille. I would double the sweet potatoes instead. – Lyn]

Don’t worry about it being too hot because of the sausage’s Cajun roots. Nick and Sally couldn’t get enough of the sausage. I doubt they would have liked it straight up, but the veggies tempered its heat nicely.

Enjoy the snow, and try some sweet potatoes and andouille. Until next time, this is husband Stephen, signing out.


Hi, everyone! This is Stephen, Lyn’s husband. I’m doing a guest post today.

Parsley… what to do with it? Several times a summer, our CSAs present us with big bunches of parsley. It is far more than one might want for garnish or flavoring. We could dry it, but dried parsley doesn’t keep its flavor as well as other herbs do. As a lover of world foods, though, one thing comes to my mind when I see a big bunch of parsley: Tabouli!

Tabouli is a middle eastern salad of parsley, mint leaves, and bulgur. The versions I made in our kitchen this summer were always from items at hand, so mine may not be particularly authentic. In any event, it is a light and refreshing dish, perfect for a summer evening meal.

Here is how I make Tabouli. It is a forgiving dish. I recommend measurement-free cooking for it.

1 large bunch of parsley. Flat parsley is best. A mix of flat and curly will work. Curly alone makes an odd texture and inferior flavor.

1 handful of fresh peppermint leaves. I usually aim for anything from 2-to-1 to 4-to-1 of parsley to mint, by volume. It depends on how much parsley we have and how much mint there is to harvest in our garden. I tried spearmint and can’t recommend it. Garden mint would probably be good.

2-3 small tomatoes or 1-2 larger ones, chopped. It is possible to put in too much tomato. A green-to-red ratio like Christmas holly is about right.

1/2 to 2 cups of a grain, cooked. Traditionally, this should be bulgur wheat. I’ve used couscous (not a success), quinoa (pretty tasty), and wheat berries (good flavor, but a bit chewy).

1 clove garlic, finely minced, and/or some onion, chopped

olive oil — extra virgin is nice, but any variety will work.

Combine the parsley and mint leaves, then chop them up finely. I like the texture best with pieces about 1/16″ in size. A food processor is the best way to do this. I’ve tried doing it by hand and don’t have the patience to get the pieces small enough.

Add the tomatoes and grain, as well as the onions or garlic.

Drizzle with olive oil and toss. Add olive oil if needed in order to get the leaves lightly coated, but not drenched.

Refrigerate until serving, and enjoy.

Lyn, Nick and Sally do not care for tabouli, which means I get to keep it to myself. It keeps fairly well for a few days  in the fridge, so I can enjoy a batch in a few days of packed lunches.

It’s easy to make this a local-foods dish. Olive oil isn’t produced locally, but all of the other ingredients are available from growers near us. In fact, the herbs and tomatoes may be in your garden already!

As you can see, you need not fear a big bunch of parsley in your CSA box. Instead, whip up a batch of tabouli and enjoy a delicious summer treat.