Archive for September, 2008

Once my daughter was born, I began to think a lot more about food. I had no idea what would be best for her to eat.

So, I starting reading a lot of books about food. Here is a list of my favorite food books:

What to Eat and Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition, and Health by Marion Nestle. If you only have time to read one book, read What to Eat. The book is broken down into categories and Nestle explains the reasons for purchasing one type of food over another. For example, why buying local can be better than buying organic. 

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan. This book completely changed the way I thought about food. I love Pollan’s writing style. 

The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matters by Peter Singer. This book helped me to see how my food choices affected myself and the larger world. 

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser – Before you give your children any fast food, read this first. This was the first food book I read, and it is incredibly enlightening. 

Eating Local:

Both of these books are lovely narratives of two families’ adventures in eating local. After reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, I was ready to move to the country and buy a farm.    

Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally by Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver

All of these books changed the way I thought about food. Reading any of them will open your eyes and start you thinking about what you and your family eat. 

[Photo Credit: AnimalFast Food Nation]


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I love fall and fall recipes. I have so many recipes that I only make this time of year.

This is one of my favorite apple recipes. It’s similar to apple crisp, but the topping is more like a cookie topping instead of an oatmeal topping. It’s not the healthiest recipe (but it is so yummy), so I usually only make it once a fall. 

Apple Crumble

6 medium apples – cored and sliced thinly
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/8 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie plate. Prepare filling in a large bowl. Combine apple slices, both sugars, and cinnamon; mix well. Transfer apple mix to pie plate.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. With pastry blender or fork, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Gather small amounts of crumb mixture and press together to make large streusel-like pieces.  
3. Arrange crumble randomly on top of filling. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until apples are tender and topping is golden brown. 

Notes: I usually use a sweet apple for this recipe, such as Golden Delicious or Gala. If you are using a tart apple, such as Granny Smith, you might want to add more sugar to the filling. 

What are your family’s favorite fall recipes?

[Photo credit: Apple]

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Happy First Day of Autumn!


Fall, Leaves, Fall

by Emily Jane Brontë 

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away; 
Lengthen night and shorten day; 
Every leaf speaks bliss to me 
Fluttering from the autumn tree. 

I shall smile when wreaths of snow 
Blossom where the rose should grow; 
I shall sing when night’s decay 
Ushers in a drearier day


[Photo Credit: Blue Hen Falls]

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I do a lot of my grocery shopping at Whole Foods and I’m always looking for ways to reduce our grocery bill without sacrificing quality.

Last time I was at Whole Foods, the nice guy who bagged my groceries put the store’s flyer, “The Whole Deal,” in my bag.

I had never seen the flyer at the store before. It has articles about how to feed one person, two people, or four people on a budget, along with recipes. Inside the newsletter are coupons for some Whole Foods store brand products, as well as, name brand products.

Along with “The Whole Deal” newsletter, there was another flyer with Back-to-School information, that also has coupons in it. The coupons in the Back-to-School flyer expire on September 30.

“The Whole Deal” flyer is also available online. However, the version that I got in the store has more coupons in it. So, when you are shopping at Whole Foods, be sure to check out their flyers for some meal ideas and coupons. 

[Photo credit: Logo]

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Growing up in Northeast Ohio, fall meant Mapleside Farms and their apple cider. I remember going there with my mom, dad, and sister when I was younger, and now I’m taking my little girl there. I’m excited to pass this tradition onto my daughter.

Mapleside is an apple orchard in Brunswick. In the fall, they sell about 20 different varieties of apples. Their apples, cider and apple butter are all fantastic. 

This weekend, September 20 and 21, is Mapleside’s 35th Johnny Appleseed Festival. The festival has wagon rides, children’s activities, pony rides, corn maze, food, craft venders, and music. And lots of apples, of course. The apples we bought to take home were delicious. If you are going to be in the Cleveland area this weekend, you should check out the Johnny Appleseed festival. 

Where: Mapleside Farms. 294 Pearl Rd., Brunswick, Ohio 44212

When: September 20 and 21. Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Fee: Adults are $3, children aged 7 to 12 are $1, and children under 6 are free.

Note: There were a lot of bees at the festival. I’m not sure if bug spray works for keeping the bees away, but it couldn’t hurt. We didn’t take any bug spray and had a lot of bees around us. 

[Photo Credit: Farm]

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Even though my daughter is too young for school, I have lot of experience in the classroom – as a student and a teacher. 

Parents play a huge role in their children’s education. I believe, that parents should be involved in their children’s education and be their child’s advocate, especially when the children are young. 

I also think that parents need to support teachers. Parents and teachers working as team is the best scenario for the children, who are the most important part of the equation. 

Michelle, who writes “Scribbit: Motherhood in Alaska,” wrote an excellent post about the role of parents in the classroom. Read it here.

I agree with Michelle that teachers deserve the respect of students and parents. Yes, of course there are bad teachers, and every student will have a bad experience with a teacher. I did, and I know my daughter will. But, I also had excellent teachers, and I hope my daughter will too. 

[Photo Credit: Apples and Books]

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Hurricane force winds in Ohio. Who would have thought? They were not fun, and neither was the mess they left behind. I can’t even image what the people in the South are going through. 

My power just came on last night, which was long enough to get me a day off of work, but also long enough that I lost all my food in the frig. Now, I have a very clean refrigerator.

A friend of mine has been asking for some toddler friendly recipes, and I have a lot to share since I cook for a toddler and myself. Along with being toddler-friendly, I also want the recipes to be cheap, healthy and quick. One of my favorite recipes is my Black Bean and Cheese Quesadilla. It’s quick, easy, flexible, and healthy, and the munchkin loves them.

Black Bean and Cheese Quesadilla


Whole-wheat flour tortillas
Canned black beans, drained and rinsed
Cheese – my favorite is goat cheese, but any will work
Chopped veggies – my favorites are red pepper and green onion

1. Heat a skillet or pan over medium high heat.
2. Mash the beans with a potato masher.  
3. Build the quesadilla on a plate before transferring it to the skillet. Layer the beans, cheese and veggies on the tortillas.
4. Place the quesadilla on the skillet and cook for about four minutes on each side until it is toasted golden brown. 
5. Cut with a pizza cutter and serve with plain yogurt and salsa.

This is more like a plan, than recipe. It’s flexible and will work with whatever cheese and veggies you have in the house. Let me know what combinations work for you.

Note: I use half a can of beans for each quesadilla I make. One quesadilla is large enough for me and the munchkin to split.

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