Too many cucumbers in the garden!

So, maybe you’re a gardener and you’ve got a cucumber bounty on your hands. Many do this time of year. It’s nice to put them on salads or maybe make a salad out of them, but another fantastic use for cukes is a chilly soup. It’s so refreshing on a hot day to have the crisp cucumber flavor on your tongue.

In a certain mood, I can even convince myself that some of this soup is “just as good as having ice cream.” Sure, it’s not sweet, but it does cool you down the same way. And that’s a good thing come August in New England!

This recipe is so easy you’ll wonder why you have never made it before.

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CHILLED CUCUMBER SOUP

3 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped, plus a few very thinly sliced cucumber rounds
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
1/4 cup sour cream
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
Fresh lemon juice, to taste
Cucumber slices, dill sprigs, for garnish

In a blender puree chopped cucumbers, yogurt, sour cream. Add freshly ground salt and pepper to taste and transfer to a bowl. Chill soup until ready to eat. Before serving, stir dill and lemon juice. Garnish soup with cucumber slices, and some extra dill sprigs.

Still thinking, “how am I going to use all these cucumber?” You can always put cucumber slices in your water for a more refreshing drink! Or on your eyes if they feel tired and saggy. Or a cucumber mask for your skin!!!


Green Gazpacho!

I love love love gazpacho. Cold soup is not something everyone can enjoy. I’ve found that sometimes it freaks people out. . . like it’s somehow “wrong,” that it’s cold. Or maybe they think it should be called something else because soup is inherently a hot thing.  I’m not sure what the reason, but once you try some garden fresh gazpacho, there is no denying it’s deliciousness.
I saw a recipe from Williams-Sonoma for gazpacho verde and I thought that was a great variation on the old favorite. I made a few small changes to their recipe to adjust it to my taste, because, gazpacho (like salsa) can be tweaked to your own specifications. So, I recommend that you nip and tuck or add where you see fit. Customize it. Make it yummy to YOU.

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It’s a crepe! It’s a pancake! Whatever it is—it’s yummy!

Breakfast is by far the easiest meal around here. In fact, some days I serve only breakfast foods all day because it’s easier than fighting to get my 3 year old to eat a chicken nugget or godforbid a vegetable.

Given that many of his favorite breakfast foods are sweet or have sweet syrup on top, I try to make healthy versions of things that go under the syrup like waffles, pancakes and french toast. Whatever a mom can do to keep healthy and still edible, you know?

With that, I give you Rolly Polly Pancakes. Part crepe, part pancake, all YUM. These arep2220008.jpg particularly fun for kids, because you can roll just about anything up inside them creating many different tastes in one snack-sitting. We like bananas, walnuts, raisins, jam, almond or peanut butter and sometimes even O’s (Joe’s Os or Cheerios). Cold glass of soy milk and we’re good to go!

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Homemade Graham Crackers

Continuing on yesterday’s track, I’ve got another great recipe that comes from a teacher at the Waldorf school that my son will attend next fall.

Over the last couple of years we’ve done a few sessions of their parent/toddler program on Fridays. It’s been a really great thing for us—not only is it something fun to do, but it gives you a chance to check out the school. I think most Waldorf schools do it, so if you are curious about the teaching style at all, this is a good way to learn first hand.

Anyway, at these Friday programs, we always made snack together. And this was by far my son’s favorite. It was embarrassing how much he ate! I had to get the recipe so we could make them at home. I figured if we made them at home, he wouldn’t hog them all when we were there!

While thinking about this post it occurred to me to ask myself, “what is graham?” and why don’t we use graham flour in graham crackers?? So, I turned (as I often do) to wikipedia.com for help. Here is what I learned:

Graham flour is a type of whole wheat flour named after the American Presbyterian minister Rev. Sylvester Graham, an early advocate for dietary reform. According to the Larousse Gastronomique, Graham despised processed white flour and believed that bran was the cure-all for the bad eating habits of his compatriots.

Rather than simply grinding the whole grain wheat kernel (bran, germ, and endosperm), in graham flour the components are ground separately. The endosperm is ground finely, initially creating white flour. The bran and germ are ground coarsely. The two parts are then mixed back together, creating a coarse-textured flour that bakes and keeps well. Graham flour is used to make graham crackers and pie crusts, among other things.

So, there you have it—mystery solved! Still it’s funny to me that you can make a graham cracker, have it TASTE like “graham” and not include any graham flour in it. You be the judge:

GRAHAM CRACKERS

2 1/2 — 3 cups whole wheat flower
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup canola or safflower oil
1/3 cup honey
2 tbs. molasses
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 — 1/2 cup milk (soy or cow’s)
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1. In a large bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups ww flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt & cinnamon. Set aside.

2. In a small bowl whisk together oil, honey, molasses, vanilla and 1/4 cup milk. Add to flour mixture and mix to combine—adding more milk or more flour if needed.

3. Turn the dough onto a floured surface, roll and cut into cracker-sized squares. Transfer to lightly oiled baking sheet. Prick each cracker a few times with a fork to create the “look” of a graham cracker. (the kids love to do this part—let them roll the dough and use cookie cutters to make fun shapes!)

p1190071.jpgExperiment with how thinly to roll them out—some folks like them chewy, some like them really thin and crispy. It’s your world—make em how you like em.

We munch on ours with cream cheese, jam of any kind and almond butter. They are also a great take-along snack for toddlers on the go! And really, is there any other kind?

Oh, and be sure to check out cupcakeblog.com for this crazy-amazing sounding recipe for S’mores  Cupcakes! Mmmmmmmm!


A Simple Bread Recipe

My boy is going to a Waldorf School next year. We’re pretty excited about it—and nervous. The Waldorf style is a mixed age Kindergarten. So, even though he’s only 3, he’ll go 4 days a week, full days. Granted, we’ll probably work up to that over the first few months, but it’s a big adjustment. We found a great school that we are so excited about and that feels good. Any of you who have kids know that finding the right place with great teachers is. . .invaluable.

The reason we even know about Waldorf education and this school in particular is because my husband’s much younger half-sister and brother went to this school and stayed in Waldorf schools until high school. And now, my husband’s mom is a Waldorf kindergarten teacher herself. She’s a great resource on many topics having to do with child rearing and education. Most people roll their eyes when they talk about the in-laws. Not me. She’s a guru.

So, for today I have a simple bread recipe that she passed along to me. I’ve used it many times with my son and his friend who I care for in the mornings. We put on our aprons (you will see in the photos included) and make bread together. It’s easy, fun and satisfying work. I highly recommend it!)

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Tofu sticks! No, really, they’re good!

I like tofu a whole lot, so, I thought, maybe there was a chance my kid would, too. Turns out I was right. But he only likes it one way—battered and fried. What’d I expect, right? Well, at least he’ll eat the stuff.

Here’s what you do— Continue Reading


Apple-Oat Pancakes — a healthy snack for all!

We just had my son’s 3rd birthday party. It was a big hit. I tried to take pictures of the food spread, but my camera chose that day to be out of battery power. So, no photos, but it got me thinking about kid food. For the first 2.5 years of my son’s life I was really insistent on him eating as healthily as possible. He had no refined sugar in his first year. I made all his baby food myself which was largely organic. He didn’t even have ice cream until he was 2, I don’t think.
I have no idea what has happened in the last six months, but I’ve become lazy, lax. . . tired, I guess of working at it so hard at it. But, I’m hard on myself. I feel guilty when I give him Goldfish Crackers instead of Kashi crackers. That’s me. Also, his palate is not what you would call refined. Breakfast is easy. He’ll snack the rest of the day, then fight me over eating dinner. All he really wants is tortilla chips, fruit, cheese and muffins. A mom just can’t abide that kind of diet. He’s also a big fan of pancakes and waffles, but then who isn’t?
What I’d like to share with you today is my absolute favorite recipe of all the healthy foods I’ve ever made him. I wish I could take credit, but it’s not one of mine. Apple-Oat Pancakes. It comes from this fabulous book called, Simply Natural Baby food; Easy Recipes for Delicious Meals Your Infant and Toddler Will Love, by Cathe Olson. Continue Reading


A plum tart to please the masses

Isn’t there some nursery rhyme about a kid who pulls a plum out of his pie or something?

This tart may make you want to do that. It’s juicy innards are enough to make you dive in before it’s cool enough to eat. But, your patience will pay off, I promise.

This is one of those desserts I recommend when people think they don’t like a certain food. “I don’t care for plums” becomes “this is one of the best things I have ever eaten.”

It’s easy. It’s basic. It’s got good strong, smooth flavors and it’s sure to satisfy, so tuck in. The recipe comes from Williams-sonoma.com and needs no improvement that I can tell. Continue Reading


The dish on pie dishes

If you are in need of something to bake one of these summer pies in, I have some ideas for you. There’s lots of options out there for pie dishes—many sizes, colors and shapes, even.  I’ve recommended here some basics. Good standard dishes that will serve up just about any pie recipews_pie_dish.jpg with style and ease.

The Emil Henry Pie Dish, 9” from Williams-sonoma, because you can’t really go wrong with Emil Henry—it could last you a lifetime if you don’t break it, like I pieplate.jpegdid mine. $38

Fluted Pie Plate from Crate and Barrel—a 10” for only 6 bucks. Sweet! But also probably not as durable as some.

I love to check out etsy.com. for handmade gifts. You can find just about anythingil_430xn5453999.jpg and it’ll be way hipper than what you’ll find elsewhere.  And you’ll be supporting an artist and that’s always a good thing. This is a sweet little pie dish for $59 that’s totally handmade and cute.

So, there you have some ideas of totally serviceable pie dish options. Go forth and bake!


The Zucchini; I love it, but man is there a lot of it

I love zucchini. I do. It’s one of the easiest veggies out there. It’s happy with a quick slop of olive oil and being tossed on the grill. It can be chopped into salads, grated into quesadillas, added to corn chowder. The opportunities are endless!  However, even this zucchini-loving gal needs new ideas for the stuff. We get so many of these squashes from the CSA farm that I sometimes run out of ways to eat it. . . I mean one does need a little variety, right?

So, I went a’ searching. The only way I won’t eat  zucchini in a quick bread. It has no place there, in my opinion. I understand while people do it, but it ain’t for me.  Then I thought about all the good corn that’s around and the amazing tomatoes and it hit me that I needed a good, NEW recipe that combined all these things. And then I found it at good old epicurious.com.

Head out to your local farmer’s market, get your garden fresh veggies and go home and whip this up. You won’t be disappointed. Continue Reading