Waldorf Schools on The Nightly News With Brian Williams Tonight.

November 30, 2011

If you are interested, The Nightly News will be featuring Waldorf Education tonight on NBC.  Reporter Rehema Ellis recently visited The Waldorf School of the Peninsula (the school in the NYT article a few weeks back).  I have not seen any previews, but I hope to catch it tonight.  I hope they explore more of the curriculum and don't just focus on the no technology aspect.  Here is a link to the program.  It's kind of crazy all of the attention Waldorf has been getting lately!

And I promise this isn't going to become my soapbox topic.  ;-)

How to Roast a Turkey For Dummies.

November 21, 2011

I have roasted many turkeys.  I have bought fancy, heritage varieties and supermarket ones.  I have tried many methods for keeping the meat succulent and moist.  There was the Martha-wine-and-butter-soaked-cheesecloth version.  Butter and locally-sourced herbs smeared under the skin method.  In the smoker.  In the convection oven.  Basting every 15 minutes.  Low temp.  High temp.  Brining -- wet and dry. Every year something different it seems.

What I can say for sure is brining works big time.  Don't even bother roasting one if it hasn't been brined, in my opinion.  The good news is that Trader Joe's sells ones that are already brined!  For like $1.99/lb.!  So you don't have to use a huge garbage bag of salt water in a cooler (or bathtub of ice, which happened to me one year as I recall).  Oh, and it is my understanding that kosher turkeys have already been salt treated so they are (effectively) brined, so if you can find one of those, that will save you some time as well.

But all that other business of trying to keep the breast meat moist?  I dunno.  Sure, butter is always going to help.  It helps everything!!  But who wants to be bothered with things that don't really pay off that much?  I roasted a turkey last week (just because I like it that much and Trader Joe's had them and I wanted to make a bunch of soup later in the week).  And I could not be bothered, friends.  It was like a Tuesday and I was tired.  It was a dinner just for the five of us (no guests, no pressure).  So I followed Elise's simple method, and you know what?  Best turkey ever.  Flip that bird upside down and almost every problem is solved.  The only thing is you don't get a pretty golden breast side, but who cares?  You get a pretty golden back (see below).   The one thing I would alert you to is a brined bird will cook more quickly than one that isn't so start checking the temperature early (my 14 pound turkey was done probably 45 minutes before the recipe said it would be).
{see? backsides can be pretty!}
The only other (strong) suggestion I would offer is to make this Onion Marmalade.  It's more like a chutney, in my opinion.  Whatever it is, it is the perfect sweet-sour contrast to all that starchy richness going on with a turkey dinner.

Oh, and here is a recipe for basic pumpkin pie that I love.  (But I made Smitten Kitchen's Baked Pumpkin and Sour Cream Puddings this week and those were to die.)  I also make my grandmother's "Spirited Cranberry Sauce" nearly every year.  Gosh, I miss her.

What do you make?  Any tips or favorite family recipes?

UPDATE: After reading this post, I am reminded why it is so important to seek out buying a "happy" turkey.  I am afraid the $1.99 ones from TJ's do not reflect the true price of raising a healthy animal!   

Brenda's Virtual Book Tour!

November 16, 2011

I'm not sure I ever told you guys this, but the very first blog I read was Brenda Ponnay's Secret Agent Josephine.  Her honesty and wit and playful approach to life sucked me in, and I became a life-long blog reader (hers and others!) because of it.

A couple of years later she was in San Diego house sitting and we had the chance to meet.  And you know what?  She is even sweeter in real life.  From then on we became "real life" friends.  The type of friend who would drive an hour to your house when you were 8 months pregnant to do crafts with your kids.  The kind of friend who would stay up late fretting with you over the details of your birth announcement.  The type of friend who "got it" when you poured your heart out about subjects that not everyone is interested in hearing.  A real friend.  And those don't come along very often.

Brenda is on some new adventures in her life, one of which includes her status as a children's book author!  She has written 3 darling books:

Of course the books are filled with her sweet and whimsical illustrations.  Did I forget to mention she is an amazing artist?!  The kids and I received advance copies and I'm happy to say they got the "mom and kid seal of approval."

In case you don't know much about Brenda (or "SAJ," as she is affectionately referred to around blogland), I thought I would put together a little interview....
{SAJ and her daughter Bug}
Have you always known you would work in a creative field?
No. I didn't think there was any money in art so I majored in Journalism in college. I thought I was going to be a newspaper reporter. I always wished I could be an artist but I didn't think I was good enough.  Turns out I'm better at art than I am at grammar and punctuation so here I am illustrating.  Life has a funny way of twisting and turning.

When are you most productive (time of day and/or under which circumstances)?
Morning.  I love to get up early, have a cup of coffee and just go go go. By about three in the afternoon I fizzle out dramatically though.

Have you ever had an a-ha moment?
I might be in the middle of one right now.  I'm not sure I can really explain it though since I'm still working it out in my head myself...but I do feel like being an author/illustrator might just be what I want to do with the rest of my life. I don't know. It's too soon to tell.  :)

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I like to imagine myself living on an apple farm in central California. I have a long dirt driveway and the grass grows naturally.  It doesn't matter if I don't mow it regularly.  There are chickens but I'm not so far out in the sticks that I can't drive into town for an espresso or a yoga class. I have a well-lit studio and I can lose myself in my art frequently. I want to be close to my daughter and I want friends stopping by to sip wine and chat.  That's my dream. That's where I want to be in ten years.  Or traveling the world, either one.

What are some of your favorite children's books?  (Besides your own -- haha!)
Old 60's books about Paris!  I love Ludwig Bemelmans' classic Madeline stories, of course. I grew up with Beatrix Potter so those are close to my heart too.  I love Ian Falconer's Olivia books and Octonauts by Meomi... there are so many more but I think those have to be my top favorites.

What is something on your to-do list that never gets crossed off?
Bookkeeping. I need to do my profit and loss statements for the year and I keep putting them off. I hate math.  I'm also really bad at scrubbing toilets.  I always leave that to last too.

Most valuable life lesson to date?
Don't try to do too many things. Just pick two or three and do them really well!

Best advice to other moms who are contemplating a new venture?
Save your money!  I guess that's sort of a moot point with the way things are going with our economy but I've seen the dark days of desperation and I don't wish them on anyone.  Also, treasure your time with your kids.  There's room for both your venture and your kids but don't sacrifice your kids for your venture. You'll always regret it.  The black dog walks in the noon-day sun.

The books are available on Amazon in print or compatible with your iPad, iPhone, Kindle, Nook, etc., etc., etc. for just $2.99!  Entertain your kids at the dentist office without resorting to Angry Birds!  Buy a set as a gift!  Support a mom just like yourself!

And more good news: Brenda is offering you a chance to win a print of your choice from the ABCs book.  (They would be perfect hanging in your child's room!)  To enter, leave a comment on this post by November 30th sharing your favorite "D" word.  Mine is (obviously) "domestic"....what's yours?

Also, be sure to check her blog for other stops on her virtual book tour over the next month....she's got a bunch of fun bloggers lined up!

pumpkin spice lattes.

November 11, 2011

It's that time of year again.  People go a little crazy for the PSL at Starbucks.  I have been known to indulge in a couple every season.  I think they are worth the hype personally, but at nearly $4 for a "short" (yes,  I still order "shorts") and with the extreme sugar headache which always ensues, I decided to take matters into my own hands.  (Well that and a friend was coming over one afternoon and a fancy-ish coffee drink seemed in order.)  I think these cost something like 20 cents each and were made with mostly organic ingredients.  They were barely sweet (the way I prefer), but you could certainly add more brown sugar if you like.

Pumpkin Spice Latte For the Rest of Us
(makes 3-4)

2 c. half and half (although I think almond and coconut milk would do nicely here....or regular whole milk)
1/2 c. pumpkin puree
2 t. pumpkin pie spice
pinch salt
2-4 T. brown sugar (could use agave, honey, etc.)

Whisk all ingredients in a saucepan and warm over medium-low heat.  Pour in heated mugs.  Top with a shot of espresso and (unsweetened) whipped cream.

{bonus: your sweet girl will like it too -- just make sure you skip the espresso part!}

meal planning monday.

November 7, 2011

{that's a fuyu right in front and a hachiya on top}
OK, did my grocery shopping, took inventory of the fridge and I'm ready to plan some meals.  Also, we are in full swing with persimmons right now....Fuyus from our tree and Hachiyas from the neighbors.  I think they are my favorite fruit ever!


Roast Chicken 
Cornbread Stuffing
Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Pork Chile Verde (using leftover pork roast)
Green Salad (with sliced persimmons)

Turkish Lemon Egg Soup (I add spinach and will use chicken stock made from the roast chicken)
Fresh Bread

Spicy Squash Salad with Lentils and Goat Cheese


Honeycrisp Apples with Aged Gouda (kudos to my friend Jehanne for hooking me on this delicious cheese!)
Persimmon Pomegranate Salad
These super yummy Persimmon Bars

things that make me happy.

For awhile now, I've been wanting to come come up with a list of things that make me happy.  Not in some self-indulgent, look-at-all-the-cool-things-I-like kind of way, but one that I could go to when I'm feeling a little down or depleted or not grounded.  Too often, I feel I click the "Buy Now" button or reach for a cookie in those moments, instead of doing something to cause a more meaningful shift.

I really didn't intend to share it here at all as it's sort of a personal thing, but the idea (not mine) seemed like such a good one, I decided to post it.  (I was inspired by this list.)  Perhaps you will create your own.  And maybe share it on your blog (or here)?

Turn on music
Bake something and deliver it to a friend or neighbor
Go outside and check on the garden
Paint or draw with the kids
Do a few sun salutations
Read something inspiring (I just found this blog and love it)
Make a to-do list
Clean off my desk
Clean out my closet
Take a hot bath
Get under a blanket with the kids and read to them
Call a friend I haven't talked to in awhile
Write a thank you/thinking of you note to someone
Talk to my dad
Laugh (I have two friends in particular who can make me laugh within the first 3 seconds we start talking)
Get a pedicure
Check something off my to-do list that has been nagging me
Drink tea (I am especially fond of PG Tips with a splash of half and half and a little sugar)
Go to a bookstore
Go to a coffeeshop by myself and order a fancy coffee drink

**I  plan to add to this list as I think of things (or when you give me good ideas), so check back!

I even started a pinterest board of photos of things that make me happy!  OK, now it's your turn.  :-)

photo credit: 1, 2
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