Friday, June 25, 2010

Pick Your Own Lavender, The Yule Love it Lavender Farm

Lavender Farm

Today we spent thing morning at the VERY lovely Yule Love it Lavender Farm in Leonard, Michigan.  It is a wonderful place to visit.  We went there because my daughter loves to pick flowers and I thought it would be fun for her to go someplace where the entire purpose was to pick flowers.  I also happen to love lavender.  She had fun, but was probably a bit too young to pick lavender because we had to be specific about which stems we picked (they had to be flowering and we had to cut in between the first and second set of leaves), but we all still really enjoyed it because she could do other things like carry the stems we picked and put them into the basket.

Picking Lavender in Michigan

After picking the lavender we sat down for some amazing lavender ice cream.  We each had a bowl and it was superb!  I am plan on trying to make some in the future.

Lavender Menu

Then the kids headed over to a little play area that was set up close to the pavilion that had a child-sized clothesline, a sandbox and a small tractor.  They had a blast "washing" and "drying" the handkerchiefs they had there and playing in the sand.

a Play area for children

A Clothesline for Kids to Play With

We didn't participate, but they also offer an afternoon tea that looked really nice, but I think we will save that activity for when my children are older and can appreciate it more.

Here are some additional pictures from our trip today:

Lavender Fields

Lavender Fields

The Lavender We Picked

All Set up for Lavender Tea

A Lovely Lavender Tea

Lavender Drying

Lavender Sweets & Savories

AWESOME chairs!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Maple Creek Farm Share ~ Week 2

We got tomatoes, LOTS of lettuce (good thing we like salads), some garlic scapes, some onions, and some garlic.

I used a clove of the garlic in a salad dressing I made this evening for dinner, it was very good!

Thinking I will make some salsa with the tomatoes and green onions. I have some cilantro growing in my garden that will be nice in the fresh salsa. The tomato was very good. We had one in our salad this evening.

We will use the lettuce up in our daily lunch salads, and probably have some salads with dinner this week too.

I think I will try making some garlic scape pesto with the garlic scapes this week. Probably won't use it right away, but will freeze some for use later in the year.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Maltese Tuna Sandwiches

Tuna & Lettuce

My husband grew up in Malta and introduced me to a whole new world of tuna sandwiches when we first started dating.  His tuna sandwich didn't have a lick of mayonnaise anywhere in sight, instead it had Olive Oil in it, and when he first told me about it I'll admit my response was "that's gross."  But that was a long time ago, and now I couldn't imagine a tuna sandwich made any other way.

I have been avoiding tuna fish for the past six years because of the mercury.  But then I read this article about how the selenium in fish protects us from the mercury, and decided it was time to introduce tuna back into our lives.  So tonight we had tuna sandwiches...on white bread, a real treat!  My son looked at his sandwich and said "wow, I like the color of this bread." :-)

So here is how you do it, nothing too fancy and I think next time I would add a little more basil and mint.  I was a little out of practice after not making them for so long.

1.) Get out some olive oil, fresh basil, fresh mint, capers, and onions (pickled onions are REALLY good in this if you happen to have some on hand)
Ingredients Going into Tuna Mixture

2. Chop up everything and mix it up with your tuna.  Add some salt & pepper too.
Tuna Mixture

3. Put some tomato paste, olive oil, and pepper on each slice of your bread.
Bread Topping for Tuna Sandwich

4. Put the tuna on top of the bread.
Tuna Sandwich in the Making

5. Complete the sandwich for one amazing sandwich.  In case you were wondering, the lettuce isn't bad, it is a variety of Romaine called "freckles" that we got in our share this week.
Maltese Tuna Sandwich

......Sooo good with these Bubbies pickles.
Bubbies Pickles...Mmmm

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Maple Creek Farm Share ~ Week 1

Yeah! My kids have been out of school for a couple of weeks now, but it hasn't really felt like summer until today, when I picked up my first Maple Creek Farm share.

Lots of lettuce for our lunchtime salads, some Kale that I will probably make some Kale chips out of, purple onions, Garlic scapes that I will use to make the white bean dip from the New York Times, and some radishes, which of all the things we get in our share is the hardest for me to use, because they really aren't my favorite....but we'll eat them just the same :-)

So happy that my share has started and so has summer.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Preparing & Freezing Meatballs for Use Through the Month, with Video

One thing I have been trying to get better at doing is double prepping my meals.  There are so many things I like to do in summer that do not involve being in the kitchen cooking.  So I try to double every freezable recipe that I make so I cut my cooking time for the month in half.  For example, this week I doubled and froze everything I made so that the week of June 20th, I won't have to cook at all, I just have to pull things out of the freezer and heat them up.

Today I made and froze my meatballs.  These will actually serve us for about 4 meals.  Here is how I make them with the ingredients shown below.
Ingredients for the Meatballs

1. Mix the eggs, sprinkle parsley, salt and pepper over the top.
Parsley in the Egg Mixture

2. Put in 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder.
Adding Garlic Powder

3. Put in 1 cup of breadcrumbs in the mixture.  I make my breadcrumbs by saving the ends from my Food for Life Sprouted bread in a freezer bag for a couple months, then once I have enough, I chop them up in the food processor and put them back in the freezer for use when I need them.
Adding Breadcrumbs

4. Mix that up well.
Breadcrumbs, Eggs and Seasonings before the Meat goes in

5. Add your meat into the mixture and bring it all together with your hands.
Meatball Mix

6. Line a baking sheet with foil, parchment paper or plastic wrap and shape your meat mixture into balls.  I like to use a melon baller, but your hands work just as well.  Note: I have never tried it, but I think if you really wanted to prep a lot of meat, this mixture would probably work well for burgers.  You could double the recipe and pre-shape and then freeze some burgers to have on hand as well.   

Making Meatballs

7. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the freezer.
Meatballs ready to go in the freezer

8. Once they are frozen, take them off the tray and put the meatball in a bag.
Frozen Meatballs

What are your favorite dishes to use meatballs in?  I usually use mine for pasta or Italian Wedding Soup.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Strawberry Picking at Rowe's Produce Farm

Yeah! June is here, and that means Strawberry Picking.  Today my mom and I went Strawberry picking at Rowe's Produce Farm in Ypsilanti , Michigan (we also picked some sugar snap peas that were amazingly good).    Thought I would share some pictures of the day with you, followed by a few pictures that show how I freeze them for use through the rest of the year. 

Rowe's Produce Farm

Walking to the Strawberry Fields

Strawberry Plant



Picking Strawberries


Our Strawberry Bounty

Here is how I Prep the Strawberries for the Freezing.
  1. Wash the strawberries
  2. Hulled the by hand (didn't even need the OXO strawberry huller because they were easy to just twist off).
  3. Placed them on a dishtowel that was on top of a cookie sheet, put another dishtowel on top of the strawberries.  
  4. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer
  5. Once they are frozen, put the strawberries in a plastic bag for use during the year.  

Washing the Strawberries

Drying & Hulling the Strawberries

Freezing Strawberries on a Cookie Sheet

Individually Frozen Strawberries for use during the year

We had a great time.  When I was helping my daughter into bed tonight I said "I had fun with you today my little strawberry picker."  She replied, "Mama, I am not a strawberry picker, I am a strawberry eater." :-)

Book Review: Family Feasts for $75 a Week

Family Feasts for $75 a Week

I checked this book, Family Feasts for $75 a Week, out of the library.  I found a number of recipes that I adapt to the way I like to cook.  For starters if you are cooking almost 100% organic like I do, you will go over $75 a week, but her techniques, tips, suggestions, and resources can still help you lower your organic grocery bill.  Much of it I already knew, but I did a learn a few new things, like the fact that you can freeze cooked beans to have on hand.  Since I don't use canned beans, this was helpful information to learn.

This is a great book that has a lot of resources on how to save money in the kitchen whether you cook organic or not.  She has an AWESOME recipe for a make-your-own taco seasoning mix that we tried.  We have also really liked the recipes for Chili Corn Pone Pie and the Thai Lettuce Wraps.  I really like that she has some "ethnic" recipes in there that provide some variation in flavor to our dinner table menu.  I still have many more recipes I would like to try as you can see from the flags on my book.  Too bad it is a library book, I might just have to buy it!

Here is a photo of the taco seasoning mix we used on our ground beef / ground turkey mix for tacos last night.  The only change I made was I put a little less Cayenne pepper in so it wasn't too spicy for the kids.  The mix makes a lot, so you have it on hand.  You would only use 1/4 cup per pound of meat.  I don't want to post the recipe here because I don't want to infringe on her copyright, but you can either buy the book or search Google for other Make Your Own Taco Seasoning Blends to find your own version.

Taco Seasoning Mix

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Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Preparing Lettuce and Salad Greens for Easy Salad Prep

We LOVE Salads, but I used to eat fewer salads than I do now because of the time involved in prepping everything; washing, cutting, and drying the lettuce, Chopping up the toppings, making the dressings.  Until I discovered that by prepping all of the "work" of a salad once or twice a week, we would have everything on hand for great salads throughout the week.  Here is a video that describes my process.

What I forgot to mention in the video is how often I will store some lettuce in the salad spinner and put some in individual Pyrex Containers for us to grab during the week for an easy lunch to grab.  I prefer the 6-cup rectangular size for our salads.

There are obviously more ways to prep greens, and if you have any suggestions on how you keep salads ready to go at your house, I would love to hear them in the comments.

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