wash your veggies

I’ve always just rinsed off my fruits and veggies, naively thinking they would be clean. NOT!  Recently I started soaking my produce in a large bowl of lukewarm water with a drop of Meyer’s Clean Day dishwashing soap. Just a tiny drop. I know… soap? But I’d rather have clean fruit! After soaking for ten or fifteen minutes I remove from the bowl and rinse clean. You would be amazed at the amount of dirt, bugs and yuk will be at the bottom of the bowl.

Apples, well let’s just say you have to do more to the apples. That beautiful shine on the apples… after soaking becomes a yucky goo (notice in the photo below). Similar to the glue on a jar when you peel the label off. I will rub then with my hands or a soft bristle brush until all the goo is gone, then rinse. I realize this is what helps to keep our fruits and veggies fresher until we purchase them, but can a heavy coating or wax or pesticides ever be good for you? Do you wash your veggies? Share your thoughts.

look closely at the "goo" on the apple....

the art of nature

Beautiful Tetons in the background

Beautiful Tetons in the background

We’re here in Jackson Wyoming… Ariel’s class is here at the Teton Science School. They will spend a couple of days out in the wilderness doing a little wildlife observation, field journaling and sketching, ecological research and animal tracking. Fun stuff! We decided to head up a day early and check out Old Faithful before she had to meet the rest of the group at the school. Wow, how awesome! We didn’t have time to explore much while at Yellowstone but we did see Old Faithful let off some steam as well as another geyser!

We drove up on Sunday and spent a little time in Teton National Park. Drove through a herd of Bison. That was pretty cool! I have never been surrounded by so many large animals before (see Ariels’ journal entry)! We saw a herd of Elk. Beautiful lakes. Majestic mountains. I am always amazed at the beauty in nature. The sky never looks the same twice. The canvas is always changing. Perpetual art. This is how we have spent the last two days… Enjoying the art of nature… God’s canvas.

Ariel & Old Faithful

Ariel & Old Faithful

Bison Herd

Bison Herd

Ariel's Journal Entry

Ariel’s Journal Entry

vanilla ice cream with stone fruit lavender compote

This dish is so easy yet displays itself as a wonderfully elegant but simple dessert. All you need is :

  • a really good quality vanilla bean ice cream (I use Breyers)
  • any combination of stone fruits; peaches, plums, apricots and figs, fresh or dried
  • butter
  • honey
  • fresh lemon juice
  • dried lavender flowers

Cut fruit into quarters or large pieces. Heat a couple tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. Saute’ fruit in butter. Add a couple tablespoons of honey and a little lemon juice and about teaspoon of lavender. Continue sautéing for one or two minutes until you have a little caramelization. Spoon over ice cream and serve immediately. Enjoy!

The ingredients

sautéing the fruit

maple planked trout

I’ve always wanted to try fish on a plank. It’s just one of those neat things. Will the wood flavor come through? Where do I get the plank? The usual questions. My good friends and fellow foodies were out of town for a wedding in September. When they came back home they had a gift for me…a maple wood plank! Of course I had to try them right away. That next weekend I bought some beautiful Steelhead Trout, some lemon and fresh dill and was half way to making some of the best fish I’ve eve eaten! This was so easy if you can find the planks (mail order if you have to) you can do this. Soak the plank… I started soaking the morning of. Prepare your grill as usual. Since fish doesn’t take that long you’ll want to put the plank on the grill first for about 10 minutes before adding the fish. This is to give the plank time to actually smoke before the fish is done. That is where the wood flavor comes from. Note that the fish will take a little longer to grill on the plank than it would just on the grill.

To prepare the fish… Season well with salt and  fresh cracked pepper, a little fine grated fresh lemon zest and juice. Some sprigs of fresh dill and very thin lemon slices. Place onto plank on the grill and cook through. Fish should be firm and flaky. This made an absolutely beautiful presentation not to mention how good it tasted!  Ours was a maple plank. I really enjoyed the flavor it imparted. There is also cedar or applewood. I plan to try porkchops or pork roast on the applewood plank next. Try this one soon before it’s time to put the grill away for winter. You’ll be glad you did. Enjoy.

Trout prepared and ready for the grill.

Ahhh, This looks so good!

Maple planked trout...Yummmm!

fun at the fall festival

IMG_0502It’s fall. Everywhere you look the leaves are turning red and yellow. The air is more crisp. There’s a fall festival going on somewhere. What are you waiting for? Here’s something fun to do spending quality time together. Ariel’s school had a fall festival complete with teachers in the dunking booth, which absolutely was the place to be. First, down goes the School Headmaster. Next his assistant. Moving right along to the P.E. teacher. Just when you thought the kids couldn’t have more fun than that… the teachers were done with the dunking booth and the kids got to have a turn! There was also face painting; potato sack races; a cake walk and so much more. A fun day was had by all!IMG_0512

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a night at the theatre

IMG_0553When I was a child my favorite movie came on once a year. This classic was a favorite of many and still is…The Wizard of Oz. I remember being so excited waiting for it to come on the TV. What a movie, a mix of fairytale and fantasy with a little spooky mixed in! “I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog too”! I’m not sure which is my favorite character, Dorothy. Scarecrow. The Cowardly Lion… I love them all. Well, it’s still one of my favorite movies today. The Grand Theatre here in Salt Lake City had a theatre production this weekend. Once again, like a kid, I was so excited to take Ariel to see it. We had her friend Lina with us. We made an evening of it, out to dinner and then on to the theatre. First row in the balcony, not the worst seats considering I almost forgot to order my tickets! Actually, it’s a small theatre so we were able to see really well! The cast put on a wonderful production…even Toto did a great job! What a nice way to bring back good childhood memories all while making new memories with my own child. A great evening was had by all. One last thing…my favorite line from the movie? Of course, “There’s no place like home”. What’s yours?IMG_0552

class president

photoAriel is in fifth grade now and in preparation for middle school, they have Class President elections every two weeks. This is so that all of the kids have a chance to run for president. I get a phone call from her at school…”I’m running for President, Can we go to Michael’s to get stuff for a poster? Quinn’s my campaign manager, can she go with us?” Oh, the excitement. Come to find out, elections were the next morning…Not much time to pull it all together but we all managed (with the help of Quinn, her Mother and Sister) to get a poster and campaign buttons prepared along with her speech! Somewhere in there she also had to do her homework.  The next morning,Ariel was beat out by her opponent Wesley. The second term, she was voted out of the running…I know, heartbreaking, right? The third term…she forgot to tell me she was even running. She gets in the car after school and says ” We had elections today, Guess who won?” Well of course I had to “guess her”!

So, as Class President, you have a two week term to provide lots of extra fun for the classmates! During Ariel’s Presidency, she has so far provided for her classmates… extra recess and an electronics day. Electronics day just perfectly coincided with our first snowstorm so the kids stayed in during recess and played with said electronics! On Monday we will provide the class with cupcakes and a buffet of toppings for them to create their own. Then, on her last day as President, I will stay with the kids after class and have a movie and popcorn party. I’m not really sure what this teaches the kids ( In Ariel’s case maybe…Don’t give up) but they do have a lot of fun in the process!

pizza night

photoPizza night. No, not takeout pizza night. A new and better pizza night. This falls into so many categories on my blog. Things for mothers and daughters to do together; quality time; kid friendly foods and in a rush – quick and easy recipes! There’s something great about  family spending time together in the kitchen. It can be as grand as you like spending all day preparing a holiday meal or a theme night with lots of new recipes. It can also be as simple as hanging out around the bar putting your favorite toppings on your own personal pizza!

For the crust, I just purchase naan bread which as an Indian flatbread. This should be available at most grocery stores, I get mine at Walmart supercenter. If you can’t find naan bread or if you just prefer, you can use pita bread (not the pocket kind). I just prepare a platter with all of our favorite toppings. Get the whole family involved in washing the vegetables, slicing and placing on the platter. The toppings are endless. Instead of tomato sauce, I like to use  chopped fresh tomatoes…all varieties, orange sunburst cherry tomatoes are excellent used here. You can use grape tomatoes, roma, whatever you like…mix them up!  I get pepperoni sliced fresh at the deli, super thin. You only need 1/4 to 1/3 of a pound for 4-6 people. Some other favorite toppings at our house…fresh mozzarella, mushrooms, basil and red bell pepper.

When all of the toppings are sliced, diced and ready, have everyone start by brushing a little olive oil on their naan bread and let the toppings begin! Place all of the prepared pizzas on baking sheets or a pizza stone really works nice if you have one. Place in a preheated oven at 400°. Bake till cheese is melted and bubbly…this only takes about six minutes. Quick, easy, fun and delicious for the whole family. What night is gonna be your “new” pizza night?photophoto

cranberry walnut french toast with warm apple compote

photoSaturday morning and the girls (Ariel and her friend Olivia) want breakfast. Last weekend I made them my pumpkin pancakes with some maple sausage links. Olivia wanted pancakes again but Ariel wanted something different…what’s a mom to do? I looked around in the freezer a found a loaf of cranberry walnut bread from the farmers market…. French toast! But as I start making the egg mixture I’m thinking about fall and all of the wonderful flavors. I look over and see the bowl of apples on the counter and here we go…the thoughts just keep going. In a skillet I sauteed apple slices in butter and a little fresh squeezed lemon. Then, I added a little brown sugar (maybe a couple of tablespoons) some dried cranberries, a few shakes of apple pie spice (cinnamon, cloves and ginger) and a splash of cranberry juice. I let this simmer on low while I prepared the french toast.

For the egg batter, I used 3 eggs, about a half cup or so of milk, a couple drops of vanilla extract and apple pie spice. Beat this well, soak the bread slices and cook on a hot griddle or skillet until golden brown and cooked through. As I said, my cranberry walnut bread came from the farmers market but large grocery stores usually carry some specialty breads in their bakery department. If you can’t find cranberry walnut you could use a nice tuscan loaf or even a wheat loaf. If so, just add some walnuts to the compote! Top your slices of french toast with a little of the warm compote (you can also add a little syrup on top also if you like) and enjoy!

lemon waffles with lemon curd and macerated strawberries

IMG_8237This is one of those great Saturday or Sunday morning breakfast items, but it is easy enough for the weekday! To make it a time friendly and simple breakfast use your favorite waffle mix. Prepare as the package directs. Add the zest of 1 lemon stirred into batter. To macerate the strawberries…(This can be done the night before or at least 30 minutes before serving.) slice enough strawberries to top number of waffles you’ll be making. Sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons of sugar and fresh lemon juice. Stir and set aside.(you could also add a little fresh chopped mint if you like)  If doing this the night before place in refrigerator. Cook waffle in waffle iron as directed. Top with some store bought lemon curd, macerated strawberries and dust with powdered sugar. Careful, you just might become addicted! Enjoy!