November 21, 2010


Have you ever heard of local, organic produce coops?  I recently signed up for a "small box" of the weekly assorted organic fruits and vegetables from Abundant Harvest.  On Saturday mornings, we pack the fam in the car and head on down to a local nursery...

where the truck drops off small and large boxes of organic produce from farms nearby in the bakersfield area.  There's my Knight, hooded and all, taking our empty box to the truck...

and returning with our box of good health!  I love that the boys (and I) are learning what's in season.  

Here's what's in season this week: broccoli, parsley, sage, rosemary, potatoes, arugula, shallots, sweet potatoes, radishes, spinach, apples!  Other than the amazing FLAVOR of fresh of the truck organic 
produce, WHY ORGANIC??

This week, our Abundant Harvest Flyer's "Fresh Facts" provided the answer to this very question... "Eighty five percent of your immune function and thus your ability to thrive healthily comes from the microbes in your gut--ga-jillions of 'em working away in symbiotic harmony the way they were designed to digest your food and make ALL the nutrients available to fuel your life."  Most of the conventional produce aisle is coated with a fungicide to stop decay.  Since fungicides kill microbes that cause decay, what do you think they are doing to the microbes in your gut that you're counted on for support??

Of course, you can take matters into your own hands.  But for $22 a week, I recommend looking in your local area for a similar program.  

November 17, 2010


Nearly three weeks have whooshed by and the Joshua Tree camping excursion is a misty memory now.  Of course, yesterday evening is a bit misty, too.  Time, however, can not diminish the memory of warm succulent cherry tomatoes bursting on the tongue, the spicy andouille sausages, sweet baby bell peppers and flavor-soaked mushrooms that my knight and I enjoyed from an iron skillet saute invented out of necessity: the necessity of needing to use what we brought so we didn't have to lug  it home!  There's nothing like cooking in an iron skillet over an open fire.  And no, the boys wouldn't eat it.  

First, you need an open sky...

a fire, grate and an iron skillet.  Ours is pretty well seasoned. (* Iron skillets are not washed, but oiled and put in your oven at 500 degrees for cleaning.  The skillet then begins to be seasoned through repeated cooking, oiling and heating which adds to the flavor)

Mushrooms first--they have a lot of moisture and require a lot of time to get that moisture evaporated--and, of course the stray s'more angling for some heat.  Most people wouldn't hear of s'moring until the evening, but not our brood.  

Carrots and sausages next.  Carrots because they are the hardest thing we are using today (need more time than say a bell pepper to soften).  

See the carrots looking softer and glazed, the sausage showing the signs of being well on its way, the mushrooms looking moist and browned a bit...see that?  Now it's time for the jalapenos and mini bell peppers.

Last, but certainly not least, are the organic cherry tomatoes!  We added our veg in stages of hardness.  Our deceptively moist mushrooms went first, though.  Otherwise, those items that are hardest and therefore require more time would go in first, while our tomatoes, the softest, would go in last.  If they all went in at the same time, the tomatoes would disintegrate before the carrots ever got soft.  Thus timing. 

 Then for a large pinch of my Knight's very convenient seasoning mix (sea salt, cracked pepper and red pepper flakes).

Now let it cook.  Moving things around with your fire forks because this will make you feel like your really roughing it (or because, like us, you forgot to bring a spoon of any kind).

Then my Knight, with his resourceful instincts, will rig up some way to get that skillet off the grill and over to... 'bout like a rock. (*note to self: bring hot pads to campsite)

Now for the feast!  And after feasting...


October 26, 2010


Ah Joshua Tree.  My knight, who is a camping afficianado, took us all out to Joshua Tree National Park for an overnighter to celebrate Soda's birthday.  We stayed at White Tank--a boys paradise.  It has rocks... 

Big Rocks.  
White Tank is so named because of the beautiful jumbo boulders of white tank granite that surround the campsite.  White tank granite is made of three kinds of rock.  Which brings me serendipitously to the traditional American camping treat known as the s'more which are also a composite of three things: graham crackers, chocolate and...


To begin...

Grab a fire fork or iron hanger thats been untwisted and straightened out.  To clean it off from it's previous user's marshmallows just 

Stick in the fire.

Clean.  Now for marshmallows...

2 seems good.  It seems balanced...not too many, not too few...

And in over the fire.  Now there are two camps when it comes to cooking s'mores.  Those who like to let it hang over the flame for just a second before strategically...

catching it on fire and burning it.  Very nearly to a crisp.  But those roasters who are in this "catch-it-on-fire" camp enjoy the crisp outside, goey inside, note of char in their roasted marshmallow...not to mention sharing a pyro streak.  I do usually fall into this camp.  But for the sake of this post and all of you who may not care for char and marshmallow pyrotechnics... I will also demonstrate the other camp...

The "perfectly-golden-marshmallow" camp.  Those in this camp have...

patience...perseverance...self-will to overcome the temptation of catching it on fire.

Ah...perfection.  (if I were in this camp, of course)

I've got my set up ready...chocolate, graham crackers...

Sandwich marshmallows between bottom graham cracker and chocolate and top graham cracker and...

gently remove the firework.

Et Voila!  

Which s'more camp do you fall into?? Are you a golden roaster or burn, baby, burn roaster?  Let me know in the "post comment" box!  

October 23, 2010


Last Saturday, we celebrated Boonie's (my oldest son's) 11th birthday in grand boy fashion--video games, bionicle / lego table, pizza and pinata.  And, as is tradition in our household, a Baskin Robbins ice cream cake.  All twelve guests came in their Halloween costumes.  Soda dressed as Buzz Lightyear (as seen in previous posts), the Horseman dressed as a Knight and Boonie, a pirate.  Now Boonie is a social guy who has friends that are both on and off the autism spectrum.  One of his dear friends, Frank, who happens to be on the spectrum dressed in an amazingly accurate...

Episode IV Darth Vader costume.  We had a ninja, a Luigi (Super Mario Bros.), a sparkle witch, a yoshi, a Mario (both from Super Mario Bros.), a wizard, a ghoul with a pump that made red liquid drip down the mask in a disturbingly realistic way and a USC football player.   So the party progressed.  We played video games, we built bionicles, we had faux Kung Fu battles on the lawn (ie. Luigi v. Ghoul, etc.), we put our hands in bowls of eye balls (peeled grapes) and brains (slimy spaghetti), and we whacked a Frankenstein pinata till the candy fell out and it was around the table...

feasting on Dominoes pepperoni pizza and bat blood (Hawaiian Punch, above), that Grandma Sung arrived.   We announced, "Hey, everyone, this is Grandma Sung!"

Then, from across the room, before Grandmas Sung even had a chance to sit down or sample bat blood or set her purse down, Darth Vader demanded, "Where is your husband?!"

And my eleven-year-old Captain Hook slash Jack Sparrow answered, "He died of a heart attack Frank."  
"Oh," said Darth and the party grooved on right past marriage and death over pepperoni pizza and Hawaiian Punch and onto "Happy Birthday to you" and ice cream cake!  

October 20, 2010

Butternut Squash Soup

I'll just say right up front -- my boys won't eat this.  But it's raining -- sweet rain -- and they want chicken tenders or a hamburger and my over-thirty metabolism would take three months to digest that ground beef patty (not to mention we just had hamburgers last night) and I want something vegetal and fallish?  That's when I'll whip up this simple, fall soup with a crusty baguette and cheese slices, and an arugula salad with chopped pears or apples, pecans, parmigiano reggiano and vinaigrette.  My knight feels like this is not a MAN'S meal--soup and salad--so instead of the baguette, I may do a large man's sandwich aka grilled cheese or I may just remind him about his over-thirty metabolism.

You'll need one of these...

a butternut squash.  Crank the oven on to 400 degrees.  Take out your chef's knife and ...

cut it in half and breathe in that sweet squash aroma.

Scoop out the seeds.  I like to get my hands dirty...but I think you're well within your rights to scoop with a spoon.

Drizzle olive oil on a baking sheet.  Enough to thinly coat.

Lay the squash halves on the baking sheet--halved side down--and slide them into a 400 degree oven.  Now it's time to start the soup base.

Grab an onion, carrot and small russet potato.  Give them a rough chop.

Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a sauce pot or stock pot turn the burner to medium heat.

Add your rough chop and season with salt and pepper.  Turn your burner to medium low, cover and let the veg soften but not brown.  10 -15 minutes.

Soft and easy to poke through with my skewer.  Turn off the heat.

Add a tablespoon of curry - the secret ingredient.  Time to check in with the squash.

My handy dandy skewer pricks the now-soft squash easily.  Flip your halves over...

Beautiful!  But to cool a little faster I use...

an ice bath.  It's a quick way to cool if you don't have one of those frozen paddles.  So ice and water in one bowl and the squash goes

in a dry bowl, sized a bit smaller, floating on top of our ice bath.  

When the squash is cool, scrape it from the skin with a large spoon.

Add the squash and three cups of chicken or vegetable stock to the pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

I moved it all over to a stock pot--it was one big squash.  I let it simmer about 10 minutes, breaking up the squash towards minute 9 with a wooden spoon.  Then over to the...

blender and push puree.  Then back to the...

pot for seasoning and thinning.  Taste the soup.  Is it too thick?  Thin with milk or stock.  Need more salt or pepper?  Add a few more dashes.  

Light a candle, dish it up and enjoy this creamy autumn soup!  

*Gluten Free Option / Vegetarian Option

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 3 c. no-msg chicken broth 
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 1 white or yellow onion
  • 1 small russet potato, peeled
  • 1 T. curry powder
  • 2 -3 T. olive oil plus drizzle for baking sheet
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Thinly coat a baking sheet with olive oil.  Cut squash in half and lay halved-side down on the baking sheet.  Roast until soft.  40 min. to an hour.
  3. While the squash roasts, heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat.  Roughly chop the carrot, potato and onion (smaller dice, more flavor from the veg).  Add the vegetables to the oil and toss the veg in the pot to coat it with the oil.   Cover and let soften over medium - low heat. 10 - 15 minutes. 
  4. When the veg has softened, add the curry and set aside.  
  5. Remove squash from the oven when ready and let cool.  Scoop squash pulp off of skin and add to the soup base.  Add chicken broth and bring to a low simmer over medium heat.  Let simmer for 10 minutes, breaking up the squash with a wooden spoon.
  6. Pour soup into a blender and puree, blending in batches if need be.  Return the puree to the stock pot.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and thin with milk or broth.  Serve warm.