Monday, February 15, 2010

Foodie thoughts...

Shhh, don't tell anyone but the kids are in their room right now playing so nicely that I can even post.  Let's not bring it to their attention, though, or they may have to resume their normal behavior to save face.  I guess this abnormal interaction may be the result of a house full of grumpy, sickies suddenly feeling better on this Monday morning with a week full of no school ahead.  Bliss...for the moment.

So, just in case anyone is interested, I have found an amazing new ingredient that I now need to buy stock in...

smoked paprika!

I use this wonderful flavoring in everything.  Not hot like hungarian paprika or bland like regular paprika but really wonderful smokey flavor.  Awesome on pork, chicken, great in curries, and takes scrambled eggs to a whole new level. 

Unless you are a vegetarian or vegan, you know how bacon makes everything taste amazing?  And I mean everything.  For example, my kids love quiche with asparagus in it, why?  Because I add bacon.  They love wilted spinach salad.  Yep, bacon again.  Now I am not saying that my husband kids only eat vegetables with bacon on it.  They are actually pretty good about eating vegetables.  They just eat so much more of them if they have bacon on them.  My point?  Smoked paprika has a similar effect without all the fat and clogged artery consequences.  Now, you can't really substitute one for the other.  Smoked paprika in broccoli salad instead of bacon?  Don't that would do the trick but it does add such a nice smokey flavor that I think you will find all kinds of reasons to use it.

Tonight, in fact, I am using it in a recipe I found on for slow cooked sweet n sour pork. 

Kids love it, Matt loves it, I love it and it goes in the crock pot!  Hard for me to find all those things in one dish.  In case you want to try it, here are my modifications:

 I use smoked paprika instead of regular (obviously!). 
No green peppers.  I think they would be a great addition but they do not like me.
2 Tbls of cider vinegar - 1/4 cup is just a little too much
No sugar at all.  The pineapples are really sweet enough on their own.

If you try the recipe or smoked paprika in anything, let me know.  I would love to have more reasons to use it.  :-)


Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Friends of ours share a beautiful farm with thier parents and will eventually take it over themselves one day.  They have recently acquired around25 chickens and started selling the eggs by word of mouth.  I just love the various sizes that come in one carton, the bright yellow/orange of the yolks, the way the whites just zoom out of the fresh! 
For the past several weeks our friends have been delivering their eggs to interested people in our church.  I have just loved watching these exchanges: people bringing back their cartons from the previous weeks to be reused, trading their hard earned dollars for farm fresh, hand gathered, lovingly raised free range eggs, seeing all the eggs cartons carefully labeled by name and date in the church frig.  I love when agriculture & community take on this interconnected relationship: farmer and eater exchanging goods in person, talking about the chickens, how the weather is affecting production, what future plans of the farm are, and chatting about life, community, work, etc.  Person to person, instead of farm to truck to store to consumer to table.  It is amazing how much more valuable an investment becomes when it has a face & a name, when it is your neighbor.  This is how all of us do more than merely eke out an existence or make ends meet, this is how we live a life: face-to-face.


Monday, February 1, 2010

A birthday party!

Abigail had her first friend birthday party this year and all in all it was a success (despite the sad face on the above snowman!).  Our original idea was to have a snow party having her friends bring their snow gear and go sledding, play a snowball game and a snow treasure hunt with a treasure chest of goodies buried in the snow.  
The weather, however, had different plans.  With a forecast for air temps to top out at 5 degree plus the wind chill...well, let's just say we decided to move our party indoors.  Ah, New England... 
But the snow theme didn't end just because we moved indoors.  I mean, a January birthday girl just has to use the season she has been given, you know?  So we had an igloo birthday cake, cut out snowflakes, played pin-the-clothes-on-the-snowman, and finally had a treasure hunt with clues hidden inside "snowballs" (ie wadded up pieces of white paper) all over the house.  We wrote a clue to the hiding place of the treasure on the back of a 24 piece puzzle and then hid 2 pieces in each snowball.  Once all the snowballs were found (note to self - keep track of where you hide all the "snowballs" in case some are not found:-), the kids then had to put the puzzle together, read the clue, and figure out where the treasure was "buried". 

Let's see if you can figure it out too!  The clue read:
To find the treasure...
Open the door for goodies galore,
Take a peek inside to a place
That tumbles your clothes warm & dry.
Leave your guess in the commments section and see if you are smater than a kindergartener!