Monday, October 31, 2011

Reposting with a twist: How to clean a pomegranate without a mess

When I think of the Fall, one of the images that comes to mind is the eating of pomegranates. Those little rubies of juicy tartness that you can just pop into your mouth to wake up your tastebuds. Pomegranates are in season from September to February in the Northern Hemisphere, and we tend to eat them during October and November.


Pomegranates are one of the current, trendy "wonder foods" that you are seeing pop into salads, cocktails, curries and more on food blogs. TV cooking shows and restaurants. Every Fall, they are in my house. Always have been and always will be.  Of course, it has been part of the food chain much longer than my fascination. The pomegranate is being touted as a wonder food due to it's traditional medicinal uses that have been around for centuries.

In the Indian subcontinent's ancient Ayurveda system of medicine, the pomegranate has extensively been used as a source of traditional remedies for thousands of years.
The rind of the fruit and the bark of the pomegranate tree is used as a traditional remedy against diarrhea, dysentery and intestinal parasites. The seeds and juice are considered a tonic for the heart and throat, and classified as a bitter-astringent (pitta or fire) component under the Ayurvedic system, and considered a healthful counterbalance to a diet high in sweet-fatty (kapha or earth) components. The astringent qualities of the flower juice, rind and tree bark are considered valuable for a variety of purposes, such as stopping nose bleeds and gum bleeds, toning skin, (after blending with mustard oil) firming-up sagging breasts and treating hemorrhoids. Pomegranate juice (of specific fruit strains) is also used as eyedrops as it is believed to slow the development of cataracts. 
SOURCE: Wikipedia
Well then, eats those lovely arils (the "seeds")!!


As a wee one, I called them "yummy pits". You can see why. For my birthday, I would get one and my parents would sit me down in the middle of the den on a mat of newspapers and wearing old clothes where I could have at it. It was always a mess, but oh so good.


Well I have plenty of messes around my house these days, thank you. However, I want my kiddos to enjoy these fall treats, so I have been in pursuit of a cleaner alternative to the popping, crunching opening of a pomegranate I knew as a kid.


Supplies:
I {heart} my OXO mixing bowl

  • Pomegranates

  • Medium bowl 

  • Water

  • Kitchen knife

  • Hand strainer


Procedure:
1) Fill bowl 2/3 of the way with water.
2) Slice X's into the base of each pomegranate and set into bowl to soak for 10 minutes.
3) Tear the pomegranates into 1/4s and gently roll the arils into bowl.
4) The pulp remnants will float on top and the seeds will sink.
5) Skim the excess pulp from the surface of the water and discard.
6) Scoop the arils from the bowl and remove any extra pieces of pulp that have strayed behind.
Your arils are ready for snacking, a favorite dish or cocktail.

All of this being said, I still think I will take my kiddos outside to enjoy the messy version of the pomegranate that made it so enjoyable to eat as child.


<<UPDATED: Oct. 31, 2011>>
And just to show I can handle being outdone. Here is POM's version...in a tux. Very classy. on Vimeo.  How to Open a Pomegranate in Six Movements from POM Wonderful.




How to Open a Pomegranate in Six Movements from POM Wonderful on Vimeo.


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Friday, October 28, 2011

{this moment}: friends make birthdays special

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Inspired by Soulemama.
Thank you to my very talented friend at Flour Arrangements for treating me and my birthday buddies with such an amazing cake. (Click on her link to see how she made it. Incredibly talented woman.)




Thursday, October 27, 2011

Savory Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Grey cloudy skies. Cool breezes. Raindrops against the windows. Friends gathering for dinner. Fall is here and that means it is pot roast time!
I have tried many versions of this dish and this one has been a friend and family favorite. This is kid-tested and approved, even my 11 month old brought her bowl up to her mouth looking for more. Serve this roast with a fresh, green salad and a warm, crusty loaf of sourdough and happy bellies will be leaving the table. 



Ingredients

  • 1 4-5 lbs of beef roast, any cut will do (Go local!)
  • 2 tsp of garlic salt
  • 2 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 small organic fingerling potatoes*
  • 6 large organic carrots chopped into 2" pieces 
  • 1 large organic onion cut into 1/2" slices
  • 6 whole cloves garlic
  • 1 cup of organic beef or vegetable broth
  • 1 can organic tomato sauce**
  • 1 quart of organic crushed tomatoes**



Procedure:

  1. Rinse roast and pat dry. Rub it down with 1 tsp of garlic salt and 1 tsp of black pepper.
  2. Place roast into a hot skillet and sear each side for approximately 2 minutes. It will get a little smokey in the house.
  3. Place washed potatoes in the bottom of a 6 quart slow cooker and layer the following on top: roast, carrots, onions and garlic.
  4. Pour broth over slow cooker contents.
  5. In a medium bowl, mix crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and remaining salt and pepper. Pour mixture over contents of the slow cooker and set to low for 8 hours.
  6. Remove roast and veggies from slow cooker and serve. If you are a gravy kind of person, see the following gravy recipe.

Gravy:
Ingredients:
  • Pot roast juices and bits
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp beef bouillon granules

Procedure:

  1. Pour one cup of roast juices and bits into a medium bowl. Slowly whisk in flour and granules until throughly mixed. 
  2. Pour remaining juices in medium sauce pot and bring to a gentle boil. Whisk in flour mixture.


Side note: 

* Potatoes are #9 on the Dirty Dozen list. Budget to buy organic, you and your family are worth it.
** Those of you who know me, know that I have issues with buying canned tomatoes; however Eden Foods and Muir Glen now have canned tomatoes that are BPA free. Incredibly good news.

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Feeling Fall

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Progress

Sometimes you get so caught up in the day-to-day that you can't see that things really have changed. They may not be where you want them ideally, but they ARE improving.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Winter Weather Outlook via Farmer's Almanac

Source: FarmersAlmanac.com


The Good Apple and I often talk about the weather, not in the way you would expect. When we lived aboard our boat in Bellingham, we would sit for hours at night watching the analog readout of our anemometer to see how hard the gusts were rocking us. Since those days, we are always looking for the extremes of wind, rain and temperature in our mild climate.


Last winter was a La NiƱa winter. Cool and wet. It appears we are in for another one. I remember last winter that it seemed the rain would never stop and perhaps that was because I was inside with the new babe and I was yearning to head out for a walk, to feel the breeze on my cheeks. I found myself wishing for a high pressure system to come through and knock out the clouds and bring down the temperatures.


Since this is the forecast of things to come, it also helps us seize the moment of THE NOW. Today is a beautiful, crisp Autumn day. We are heading out to take some fall pics and perhaps stop by the pumpkin patch. Camera in hand. I get to pick how today is going to roll out, thanks to the Good Apple and that is how I will seize the moment. Good Apple. Kiddos. Fall colors. Camera. Perfect.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Top 10 Favorite Educational Apps for Preschoolers

The world of apps is difficult to gauge for young children. Some apps look fabulous and kids have no interest. Others look bland and ridiculous and then they are a child's first choice. These apps are kid-tested and approved by a 3 and 4 year old.

Here is a list of our 10 favorite educational apps. Click the name of the app to go directly to iTunes to buy it!

1) ABC Pocket Phonics - Apps in My Pocket (iPad/iPhone/iPodTouch - $2.99)
Letter sounds and writing or a word game are the choices your preschooler is given. This app is an easy way for your preschooler to practice writing their letters with a friendly nudge. If they draw it incorrectly, they are told where they went wrong and can try again. The word game says a sound and then the user has to choose the letter that makes it. Combine all of the sounds together and you get a word! The focus is on lower case letters and there is a multiuser option built in.

2) Bob Books Reading Magic - Learning Touch  (iPad/iPhone/iPodTouch - $3.99)
If your child loves the Bob Books, they will adore this game. In addition to connecting letters and their sounds, colorful animations will aide your child to start spelling words. There are 12 scenes with a total of 32 words. Users can play at 4 different levels to increase the challenge level as their skills improve.

3) Build A Word - WordWorld (iPad/iPhone/iPodTouch - $0.99)
Give your iGadget a shake and then place the letters in order and give them a push to create your favorite friends from the TV show Word World. Easily navigable for the youngest users.

4) Dinosaurs: An Early Introduction - MPVM, LLC  (iPad -$0.99 or iPhone - $1.99)
A limited list, but a thorough appreciation by preschoolers. Wonderful illustrations lead you through the 14 dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals. Users can tickle the dinosaurs to hear them roar, click on the xray button to see their skeletons, and practice the pronunciation of their name. A perfect introduction.

5) Dora's Skywriting ABC -Nickelodeon  (iPad/iPhone/iPodTouch - $1.99)
Crazy Tico is making letters in the sky and Dora needs your help to trace them. Preschoolers follow the acorns in the sky to create the letters while hearing their sound and then bounce them into the right spot for a picture. Dora reinforces the sound of the letter and then the picture appears. Users can choose to work on Upper Case, Lower Case or both.  Multiuser option.

6) Intro to Letters - Montessorium (iPad/iPhone/iPodTouch - $4.99)
Trace, read, write and record letter sounds, names and phonograms. Works with both upper and lower case letters. iPad and iPhone users can record their voices saying letter sounds.

7) Math Easy HD - Onelamp Studio (iPad - $1.99 or iPhone - $0.99)
There are 10 steps to this math learning game. Through the games on this app, preschoolers can learn to count to 20 and identify even and odd numbers. Additional games within work on addition, subtraction and even multiplication. This app is very ambitious and is best when played with a learning partner (ie: parent). Users can easily navigate to the games.

8) Monkey Preschool Lunchbox] - THUP Games  (iPad/iPhone/iPodTouch - $0.99)
Pick a sticker..ooh ooh ah ah! This is the call you will hear as your child plays along through the 7 games that teach them about: matching, numbers, letters, shapes and differences. Preschoolers can easily self-navigate through the games and they will love the animated monkey who cheers them on throughout.

9) Super Why! - PBS (iPad or iPhone - $2.99)
Calling all Super Readers! Users can work on their alphabet, writing, spelling, reading and rhyming with their favorite characters from the "Super Why" TV show. Choose to work on a single section or through each one during a single session. Gather sticker rewards throughout.

10) Wheels on the Bus - Duck Duck Moose  (iPad - $1.99/iPhone/iPodTouch - $1.99)
The traditional song "Wheels on the Bus" with an interactive spin. Users can tap the screen to spin the wheels, open and close the bus doors, swish swish swish the wipers and more in their choice of English, Spanish, German, French and Italian with the music being played by a piano, cello, violin or kazoo. Your preschooler will love all of the choices they get to make including recording their own voice to the song.

Coming up: Watch for Top 10 Book Apps and Top 10 Travel Distractor Apps
Let me know if there are any others you would like to have rounded up!

{this moment}: piggy

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Inspired by Soulemama

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sing with me now: Little Potato

When C was a wee babe, a group of families joined together each week under the lead of an incredibly talented friend to sing and dance with their kids for a magical window of time. One evening, one of the island mamas shared this song by Metamora called "Little Potato". The unique sound and entertaining and endearing lyrics were an instant hit. When we returned home, "Little Potato" was added to our favorite song list. It drifted away for a moment, but was resurrected during our recent potato harvest.


I was hoping to find a video of the original but, no such luck. Here are the Valley Singers doing an impressive version.







So listen up. Sing along. ...let's talk about root crops...and lamb chops....and things to eat like apples and cheese.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Windows

My Good Apple is probably going to kill me for writing this...or maybe the same would be true if I DIDN'T write it.

You see, for the last two years we have had some window "issues". One of the features that sold me on our house was this beautiful 9-pane window feature. Yes, a beautiful 9-pane window feature that had rot at the bottom of each sill. Lovely, right? Well...ER...um...2, yes TWO years ago plastic was carefully put over the top to protect our house. In May, the windows were removed and plywood was put in place. Yes, I have had plywood over my windows since May. Yes, it is October. Yes, during all of those sunshiny days that I had waited for, I was looking at plywood. Pretty.

Today. Today was a glorious day. My hardworking husband has been busting his good-looking buns to get this done before that weather hits and ladies and gentlemen...the windows are in, the caulking is done and they have been framed and primed outside!

Freaking fabulous beyond words. I am so thankful and appreciative and relieved and ecstatic! If I don't slow down, I just might write exclamation marks until I fall asleep.

So neighbors, no more plastic.

To My Good Apple, thank you for finishing before my birthday. You are the best. XO

!!!!!

Fall Gardening Progress...finally

Taking a breather
Well I am proud to say, the garlic is in. I threw K in the backpack, since it was nap time, and went for it.

Ripping out the remains of the summer always makes me feel a little nostalgic. I think about friends, gatherings, adventures and experiences that have defined this year. It has been full of ups and downs, thank you hormones, and now we can get to know one another again. While summer has that go-go-go feeling full of fun, I welcome the relaxed pace of Fall with open arms. 

Easy smiles and easy conversation.
Late rising sun and dark evenings.
Summer's garden sleeping and the colors of the trees awakening.
Hot bowls of soup and warm bread.

So today, I gently raked the bed flat, added a little fertilizer, covered her up with a couple of inches of compost, added some Magic garlic bulbs an inch and a half below the surface for the summer and then tucked her in with some hay.  I decided to cover the cloche hoops with bird netting, my latest attempt to keep the wildlife out over the winter. 
Good Night Magic Garlic

The Fall garden wrap-up still leaves a lot of unchecked boxes on a lengthy to-do list. I want to set up our second bed for lettuce, chard and carrots over the winter under clear plastic to attempt a greenhouse-esque cold frame and I would like to put my oh-so-tired pea bed, strawberry barrels, asparagus bed, pumpkin bed, and raspberry bed to sleep. So much to do...so little time! 

The final hurrah of our fall gardening is when we do the BIG CHOP. We still have a little time, but all of the Russian Sage will be cut down to the ground and the spirea trimmed back...until next summer.

P.S. I HAD to include this collection of photos that I took while I was outside and the kiddos were inside. Goof balls.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

CSA week of October 11

Our sweet surprise today was a beautiful little pumpkin in our basket. The sight of this beautiful fruit sent C off into fits of glee. "Pie! Pie! Pie! We are going to make pie!" K just stared at him while he started chanting his new jingle within an inch of her face. (Side note: isn't it amazing what siblings tolerate from one another?)

As I was leaving the CSA stand, I had to snap some pictures of the presence of rain. Broad leaves and rain drops, who can resist?



While I was clicking away, I heard some shuffling off to my side and noticed four curly little tails cruising around in the corner. These are Tamworth pigs. These piggies are a special heritage breed. This is not the pork you will find in your grocery store since these breeds cannot stand up to the stresses of mass production farms. However, you can find these grass loving pigs at Heritage Farm. After reading a bit, I found that Tamworths are supposed to make the best bacon. I will have to chat with the owners to see if I can, um, agree with this statement by acquiring some when the time comes. *wink wink* Their pen has been taking a regular trip, cruising around the property so they have fresh grass. Bacon.

Ok, so here is the list of this week's beautiful gathering:


  • Bagged arugula
  • Bagged mizuna
  • Beets
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Chard
  • Collards
  • Eggplant
  • Fennel
  • Flower bouquet
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Peppers: various varieties
  • Pumpkins (sugar pie)
  • Scallions
  • Tomatoes

There was a little note that this might be the last week for tomatoes. It has been a delicious and plentiful run!!


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Elf on a Shelf

A friend just reminded me that it is time to pull out Sharden. Who is Sharden you ask? Why he is the precious and precocious little elf who pops into your house some time before Christmas. Yes, June is probably to soon, but I think we are ready.

You see, Santa sends him to your house to keep an eye on your kids. You read the story to your kids and then they wake in the morning looking for him. You see, he is always there, just easier to find once they start looking for him. Last year, I brought him out two days after reading the story and once he disappeared earlier than usual. You see, the weather was treacherous outside, so we figured that he had to get a head start on his way to Santa.

Every night the elf flies off to Santa to report on the dsy's activities and your kids have to find him in the morning.

There are some rules to follow with your family's elf:

  • He must have a name. C named him Shardon because that is what he wanted to name K, but I just couldn't go for it.
  • It is important that he MUST NOT BE TOUCHED. If he is, he will disappear and then will not report to Santa. This would be tragic.

I had a lot of conversations with Shardon last year, he appeared shortly after the new babe was born. My favorite aspect of having him around was that I could tell him what a great big brother C was and how he was such a good helper. I could also ask him "not to look" when C was being, um, mischeivous and it usually stopped. Usually.

If you are starting this tradition with some older kiddos in the house, you can tell them that they must not have looked very hard for him in the past.

So thanks to the friend for reminding me to bring Sharden out. Let me know if you get involved in this fun Christmas tradition and share your Elfin stories.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Goals

This week I will aim to get to last week's goals. Although they probably won't happen since I am booked until Friday.

Climb towards something attainable this week.