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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Star for a Day!

At the beginning of the year, Alexander was asked to sell Citisaver Books to generate funds for his school.  We sold quite a few, mostly by scanning a hand-written (by Alexander) request and sending it to Peter's work colleagues.  Alexander got to attend a magic show and was put into a drawing to win a trip in a limo.  Well, all of Peter's our hard work paid off and Alexander got a bowling trip of a lifetime (or at least his lifetime thus far).
The Limo arrives!  It's HUGE!
Limo interior (without kids)
Zoe and Alexander are excited about the ride

Kids who hold hands are so cute (especially when one is mine)

All loaded!
Arriving at the bowling alley (still holding hands!)
Bowling shoes (note: size 13 is too big!)
Getting his game on!

Sweet friends!

Free lunch (he ate it all!)

Heading back home (That's Ms. Clark, the principal!)
 I think all of the kids had a great time!  They ended up bowling about 9 frames but were so hungry that they didn't seem to mind not finishing the game.  Thank you so much to Citisaver and Legacy Limousines who made this trip possible!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Kindergarten Graduation!!

I'm so proud of Alexander!  He made it through kindergarten with flying colors.  I'm thankful for his teacher, Miss Lash, who taught him to read, introduced him to Spanish, encouraged his creativity, and loved him for who he is.  Miss Lash, we'll miss you and wish we could keep you here in Nashville at Glendale!
Kindergarten graduation wouldn't be complete without a fun photo with friends (and a feverish little sister butting in)
It was hard to get a photo during the program but Peter managed a few while I sat in the back holding a squirmy Charlotte) 

Graduation?  Check!  Next stop, first grade!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

CSA Goodness!

Whenever I mention our CSA goodies, I get a lot of questions.  What is CSA?  Do you have to drive all the way to the farm to pick things up?  How do you use all of those strange vegetables?
First, CSA stands for Consumer Supported Agriculture (CSA Explained).  We belong to a CSA through Avalon Acres Farm.  Each week during the spring/summer we receive a box of Tennessee grown produce.  You can also choose to get a meat selection.  This season, we are sharing a full-share of produce with friends and our delivery is taken to Otter Creek Church on Sunday mornings.  There are lots of different delivery options and as of today, you can still sign up for the summer program.  I'd suggest sharing with someone so that you get a bigger variety of veggies to try.  
And, how do I use all of this stuff that we get?  I have to be honest.  There is a big learning curve when it comes to using up the produce.  Last year, I'm pretty sure that I had quite a bit of stuff go to waste because I didn't know what to do with it or just didn't have the patience to figure it out.  I'm trying to start out this year with a bang.  There are so many resources out there to help me identify our veggies and to figure out what in the world to do with them to make them taste fabulous.  Avalon Acres has a recipe blog and a facebook group that are great resources.  It's great for me to break out of the carrot and broccoli rut!  
Last night, I went a little crazy and tried to use up lots of our items in one evening.  I made a cream cheese and radish spread, a recipe that I got from my friend, Carrie.  I made stirfry with chicken, broccoli, and spring onions.  I roasted kohlrabi and beets that I sliced in the shape of fries (gotta trick the kids somehow!).  And for our lifegroup the night before, I made a strawberry cake with strawberry cream cheese icing.  I'm going to include the recipes for the radish spread and strawberry cake because I could eat both of them all day long.  Oh wait, I did eat them.  For breakfast.  Don't tell anyone.  

Radish Spread (Recipe given to me by Carrie)
10 radishes (about 8 ounces)
3 green onions, white and green parts
4 ounces (preferably) or 8 ounces neufchatel (low-fat cream cheese)
Salt & pepper to taste

Whizz all the ingredients in the food processor. Season to taste. Serve & enjoy!

Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing
Cake Ingredients:8 ounces cream cheese, room temp2 1/4 cups cake flour (sifted)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup butter, room temp (2 sticks)
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons strawberry extract (you can use vanilla if you can't find strawberry)
1 cup whole milk, room temp
3 eggs, room temp
3/4 cup hulled, pureed fresh strawberries
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice

strawberry cream cheese frosting
1/2 cup butter, room temp (1 stick)
1/2 cup pureed fresh strawberries (or frozen thawed)
1 teaspoon strawberry extract (or vanilla)
3-6 cups confectioners' sugar (powder sugar)

  1. 1. Combine sifted flour and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside. Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs 1 at a time; mix well after each addition. Next add pureed strawberries and extract and combine well. Gradually add the flour (and baking powder) and the milk alternating between them until completely mixed. Then add lemon zest and juice and mix well.
  2. 2.  Lightly grease and flour a 13 X 9 pan or (2) 8" round pans. Pour batter into pans and bake at 350 degrees for 25 - 30 min or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.  (My cakes fell a little bit when I took them out of the oven but it didn't affect the taste one bit.  In fact, it may have been better. *Suggestion: have your 6 year old help you and you'll probably have flatter cakes too!)
  3. 3.  For the icing : using a mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter until nice and smooth. Add the extract and pureed strawberries. Gradually add the powder sugar until it has the consistency and sweetness you desire.  If it gets too sweet, add a little bit of lemon juice.  I ended up doing this because Peter doesn't like icing to be too sweet.

To-do Tuesdays

That's my not so little boy sporting his first gap due to a lost tooth.  He was SO excited for the tooth fairy to arrive!

Back to the normal grind.  I'm still in my broken foot boot but am getting around a lot better.  I've mostly given up the crutches although the end of the day still calls for a little bit of crutching around due to being sore.  I go back to the doc in a week or so and hope that I'll be all done with the boot!  I need to get better so that I can safely drive and sew!
Things to do this week:

Laundry (why is this always on the list)
Send thank-you notes
Call my mother-in-law who has left me two messages on my voicemail (I'm not avoiding you Irene, I promise!)
Order everything in my amazon cart to prepare for our trip to England/Italy

Yes, I made this week fairly light in to-dos because it's still pretty hard to get around.  The boot is not all that comfortable to walk in any further than from bedroom to kitchen.  Maybe I'll do more next week before school is out for summer (Does anyone want to break into song?).  

Monday, May 16, 2011

Broken foot and kale.

So you're probably wondering where my to-do Tuesdays have gone.  I didn't stick with that for very long, did I?  Well, two weeks ago, Peter went on a trip to Hungary and Turkey for his MBA program (check out Vanderbilt's Executive MBA program - it's fabulous, aside from all the work).  I did my best to stay busy and didn't do much on top of regular kid-care.  I certainly have a lot of respect (and lots of awe) for my friends whose husbands travel on a regular basis.  I would go crazy!
Then, last Tuesday I was on my way out the door to hunt for cicadas with the kids and fell down our deck stairs, breaking a little bone in my foot.  So, I'm on crutches for a little while and then will transition into a walking boot.  Hoping that it will heal quickly!
We were privileged to get to go to a friend's Harvest Kickoff party and I took my favorite Kale recipe.  I modify it a little bit each time I make it but here's the main recipe:

 8 oz. kielbasa, thinly sliced (I use a turkey sausage that doesn't have skin)
1Tbs. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
29 oz of reduced sodium chicken broth (2 cans) (I make my own and freeze it in plastic canning 'jars' or in freezer bags)
4 cups chopped kale (sometimes i use fresh spinach but the kale holds up better)
2-3 cans of white Canellini or great northern beans (You can also use dried beans but make sure you soak them overnight and cook them before adding to the soup).
1. Brown kielbasa in large saucepan over med-high heat about 4 mins. Remove from pan.
2. Add oil to pan and cook garlic about a minute. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add beans,
and simmer 5 minutes.
3. Remove 1 cup of soup, including beans, and puree in blender until smooth (I use my immersion blender instead). Stir bean puree, cooked sausage, and chopped kale into soup and simmer until kale is tender, about 5-7 mins.
Makes 6 1/2 cups (4 servings)

I always double this recipe and freeze half so that I can pull it out for a quick, easy meal.  And, just in case you've gotten SOOOOO much kale that you don't know what to do, here's another kale soup recipe that's yummy!

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 C. chopped onion
1 C. coarsely chopped carrot
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 C. chicken broth
1 Tbsp. basil ( fresh) or 1 tsp. dried basil
4 C. coarsely chopped kale
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground pepper
1 1/2 C. cubed cooked chicken
1 med. tomato chopped
1/2 C. lentils

1. In a large saucepan heat oil over medium low heat.  Add onion, carrot, and garlic.  Cook, covered, for 5 to 7 minutes or until vegetables are nearly tender, stirring occasionally.
2. Add broth and, if using, dried basil to vegetable mixture.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Stir in kalesalt, and pepper.  Return to boiling, reduce heat.  Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
3. Stir in chicken, tomato, lentils, and, if using, fresh basil.  Simmer, covered, for 5-10 minutes more or until kale and lentils are tender.