What does Hurricane Sandy have to do with a movie projector?  My son Nick has quite the imagination.

He and Sally love to darken the living room.  They turn out all of the lights that they can so the room is dark for their “movie”.  A movie to them is a 30 minute PBS show, a Wallace and Gromit episode or maybe The Muppet Movie.

During the storm last week, Nick asked me if he could use the flashlight.  It’s one of his favorite toys.  I told him that he couldn’t use the flashlight because if we lost power from hurricane Sandy, we were going to need the flashlight to have good batteries.

Sigh, and he went off to play with something else.

Today, Nick came running into the kitchen asking me if hurricane Sandy was over.  Yes, it’s over.  He excitedly asked me if he could use the flashlight now.  I said sure and got it down for him.  The next thing I know, it’s on the steps, turned on, facing the TV.  It’s now the movie projector.

Kids are great.

 Posted by at 7:02 PM

I’m glad that we have the right to vote.  I’m sick of the ads and all of the political talk.  I’m heading to bed early today.  I can learn everything I need to know in the morning.  My hope is that we actually know who the president will be by the time I wake up.

Nick learned all about elections in preschool this week.  They did some matching exercises with which candidate liked which food.  I hope that he grows up to vote by looking at the issues at hand and not based on which was likes the same food.

Sally didn’t really understand voting at all yet.  She’s to the stage where she knows that she has to “agree” with her brother to watch a TV show before I’ll turn it on.  I’m glad that they are learning how to share and negotiate their opinions.  I think some of our politicians could learn a ton from the little kids.  Nick learned the term brotherly this week as well.  I heard many words used to describe the debates and other campaigning, brotherly was not one of them.

I hope you all exercised your right to vote today (or in early voting).

 Posted by at 9:29 PM

Tonight, I attended the Fresh Fork Market first Thanksgiving Dinner and cooking class.  I had a great time.  I got to spend time with friends of Fresh Fork that I don’t see often.


This was mainly a dinner event, with occasional demos and commentary from Chefs Adam and Parker.  It was served family style with about 70 people in attendance.  The dishes just kept coming.  We had turkey, cabbage, corn, sweet potato hash, mashed potatoes, cauliflower, 2 types of stuffing, gravy, greens, 4 different desserts including fresh whipped cream.  Whew!  I don’t even know if I remembered everything.


The lighting wasn’t very good for photos, but I managed to snap a few.  Here’s Trevor (head of Fresh Fork)  and Parker (Fresh Fork’s chef in residence).


I didn’t get a photo of Chef Adam, but we enjoyed his discussion about turkey and his bacon panna cotta.  It was an outstanding dessert!  No Fresh Fork Thanksgiving would be complete without pie from Humble Pie Bakery.  Diane talked to us about pies for a few minutes.  One of the best parts of the night was that the chefs were available for questions.


If you haven’t had fresh whipped cream, you are missing out.  It was a great compliment to the apple, pumpkin, and confetti pie or on its own.


I surely won’t be hungry at breakfast.  Everything was great and I hope they repeat the event next year.  For the first time, I am going to be making Thanksgiving dinner with my mom.  I can’t wait to introduce our family to a couple of new recipes.

 Posted by at 11:09 PM

Saturday was a crazy busy day for me.  I headed to a class at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, followed by my weekly docent class there.  I had volunteered to work at the coat check later in the day for the West Side Market Centennial 100 Gala.  My shift was set to be 8:30PM – 11:30PM.  So after my classes, I headed to the West Side Market for a few photos.

It was a cold, dreary day.  But, the set up and preparations were fun to see.  There were several tents up.


I took note of the West Side Market Café since that was where volunteers were going to meet.


Several food trucks were on site.


The valet service was well staffed and ready for the VIP attendees to start arriving.


The black box in the middle with the big hose is the heater!


One of the pipes went straight into the coat check tent.


After taking a photos, I stopped at the Market Garden Brewery for a quick dinner.  Soon enough, I headed to the WSM and checked in.  Aseela gave me my badge.  I told her that I knew I was early, but I was just going to hang out and if she needed anything to let me know.


5 minutes later, I was holding a radio – just in case someone showed up to volunteer and we needed her.  She wasn’t gone long, but I was glad to be available to help.  After that quick stint, I took a few minutes to walk around the venue.  The VIP attendees had started to arrive.



Symon’s stand was one of the most popular.


I hung out in the café most of the early evening.  Around 8:15PM, I headed to the coat check.  It was super nice to have the heaters.  Everything in the coat room was smooth.

It was crazy during the night to listen to the radio traffic.  I’ve always enjoyed the behind the scenes look at events.  From a lobster allergy to get a trash can changed, it was not dull.  When people started to claim their coats, we were totally entertained.  Many guests had too much to drink.  So, hilarity ensued when they would try to find their claim ticket.  Our table was used for cleaning out many purses and pocketbooks.  We had more than one person tell us that their coat was the black one.  (Over 80% of coats are black.)  By the end of our shift, it seemed that everyone had received their coat back, so that was successful.  We were asked not to take tips since we were volunteers.  We had suggested a tip jar marked – all proceeds go to the market, but it was shot down.  That was really dumb.  We spent 3 hours trying to explain to people no tips, we are volunteers, keep your money, etc..

Also, we were in the middle of the “goodie bag” drama.  Each attendee was supposed to get a goodie bag that included the special “Butchers Brew” from the Great Lakes Brewing Company.  But, 900 people and 800 bags was not going to work.  They decided that each couple would get a bag.  The staff quickly figured out that wasn’t going to work.  They set too many bags out at once, which gave the appearance of “plenty of bags”.  People were taking at least one per person, in some cases 2 or 3.  We weren’t in a position to be the bag police, but we watched it from the coat room.  At the end of the night, they were short bags.  I would be ticked if I spent $250 or more on an event and didn’t get the beer and I don’t even like beer.

I had fun watching the event.  I’m glad that the attendees all seemed to have a good time.  The event raised a lot of money for the market and that was the idea.

I should note that as volunteers, we were not permitted to partake in the food or beverages for the guests.  We were supposed to have dinner and water provided.  It was mediocre at best and I was glad to have eaten before I arrived.

 Posted by at 9:50 PM

With Sandy this week, our Trick or Treat was postponed until this evening.  It worked out great for us since we had Stephen’s birthday party on Wednesday.

Our Halloween started with the kids enjoying It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown on TV.  It was taped earlier in the week.  Stephen was able to get home a bit early and brought us Chinese take out for dinner.  As soon as we ate, we got the kids ready.

Meet our shape monster and shape princess.


I’ll take 39 degrees and no precipitation for Halloween.



Besides deciding that a coat was in order, she also needed mittens.


Nick wanted to be a monster for Halloween.  I asked him what the monster looked like and he didn’t know.  I thought for a bit and they were learning about shapes at school.  I said, “I know, you can be a SHAPE MONSTER!!!!”.  He loved the idea.

My mom helped with Nick’s costume.  We started by looking at poncho and other costumes that could be made out of a sheet.  A bit of sewing later and he had a costume.  Then, we used foam pieces and cut out tons of shapes using cookie cutters.  I glued them with a hot glue gun.


Of course, he had to practice his roar.  He later decided that he didn’t want to be recognized, so the mustache was born.


If big brother was a shape monster, then Sally had to be a shape princess.  We had borrowed a princess dress from a friend.  Stephen worked on a tulle skirt for overtop of it.  Using foam, glue gun and cookie cutters, the skirt was turned into a shape skirt. (In the photos above, Sally has a heart on her nose. If brother has black on his face, I want it too.)


She was so excited.


Both kids loved their unique costumes.  I loved that they were the only ones dressed like that.  I can’t wait to see what next year brings.

 Posted by at 8:01 PM

Because of Sandy, our Trick or Treat was moved to tomorrow, so we decided to pick up our share today.  I didn’t want to be in a rush to put it away, have dinner and have the kids ready.  This is our last pick up for the summer season and also the coldest/wettest pick up.  I planned a nice butternut squash soup for dinner from the freezer today.  It’s a great day for soup.

Here’s a group shot of today’s pickup:


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

  • 1 bunch carrots with tops
  • 1 head jumbo white stem bok choy
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 2# turnips
  • 1 bag salad mix, lettuce
  • 2# bag of sauerkraut
  • 1 quarter peck Empire apples
  • 2 frozen pizza dough balls
  • 1 package goat feta cheese
  • Baby Peppers (came in last week’s package)

The carrots will make a nice simple side dish.  Everyone likes them in our house, so these won’t last long.  The pork and beef is intended for meatloaf.  Maybe Stephen will make his famous meatloaf this weekend.  That would be delicious.


I’ve started looking at lamb recipes and found a Lamb and Feta Stuffed Cabbage recipe.  I think the feta will go into that recipe soon.


We were almost out of apples again.  Those will go into oatmeal.  I can’t get enough winter squash.  I’ll be roasting this along with pie pumpkins that I picked up today.  Uses are endless.


For the first time, we received fresh sauerkraut.  I’m excited to try it, but I am also glad that it will keep a while in the fridge, so there’s no hurry.  This broccoli looks outstanding.


We’ll have it as a side along with pizza for dinner tomorrow.  With Trick or Treat, we’ll need an easy to clean up meal.  The lettuce will go into salads tomorrow or Saturday.


I’m not sure about the bok choy, but I am thinking a stir fry like we made with the Napa cabbage last week.


I don’t have any current plans for the turnips, but I am glad they will last a while.  Maybe we’ll make soup later in the week.

I’ve enjoyed trying out the large package this year.  I’d never go back to the small.  I love the bag size for us.  It worked really well.  I’m not interested in the full access package.  I like getting the variety in the large and then supplementing with extras as needed.


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.