Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Lenten Reflection

My daughter Lauren attends a Christian preschool.  Not that we would consider ourselves "religious."  My husband and I were both baptized and confirmed Lutheran but do not necessarily consider ourselves "Lutheran."  This preschool came highly recommended and is very close to our house.  Two pluses in my book.  I found myself pulling away from organized religion when I was in college.  Growing up in a small town, church was a big part of my social world.  I attended church almost every Sunday, went to confirmation studies and Sunday School.  I was in the junior choir and with that came lots of activities that in my book had nothing to do with religion. 

I then went through a period of time where I was nothing but "doing religion for the sake of doing religion" and put no heart into any of it.  It was just something I thought I should do.  (you sometimes can't shake those maniacal mid-west religious roots)  In my early engagement and marriage to my husband I found myself trying to change his thoughts, beliefs and questioning how I could be with someone who held little or no belief and yet put his "faith" (he wouldn't call it that) into things like proof, science and fact.  How funny that I have now, after 14 years of marriage with all it's ups and downs and two kids later, come around to his belief.  (or lack there-of)

But what I can say I appreciate and thank my parents for, is the foundation.  They gave me the groundwork, the training and conditioning that enabled me to make a choice that was right for me later on in life.  What is faith?  What is religion?  Is there a God?  Is there a Heaven or a Hell?  hmmmmmmmm...........all good questions that my daughter will most-likely ask me about as she learns and grows.  My sister-in-law helped me to come to a neutral place abut a religious school.  Her belief is that the basic information taught are simple facts on how to be a better human being.  Treat your parents with respect, be kind to others, don't steal, don't cheat, don't lie, etc.  And I agree.  When we dealve into specific religions and all the rules and regulations for any particular sect, that's when I get a little crazy.

So tonight my simple thought is this.  Love one another.  God loves everyone.  Is that the message your religion thought you?  I hope so.  Call it religion, spirituality, or what have you.....tolerance is love. 
The below "reflection" was in the March newsletter for preschool.  It spoke to me.  Relgious or not.  Anyone can find some piece of this that resonates with them. 

Give up complaining ~ focus on gratitude

Give up pessimism ~ become an optimist

Give up harsh judgements ~ think kindly thoughts

Give up worry ~ trust in Divine Providence

Give up discouragement ~ be full of hope

GIve up bitterness ~ turn to forgiveness

Give up hatred ~ return good for evil

Give up negatism ~ be positive

Give up anger ~ be more patient

Give up pettiness ~ become more mature

Give up gloom ~ enjoy the beauty that is all around you

Give up jealousy ~ pray for trust

Give up gossiping ~ control your tongue

GIve up sin ~ turn to virtue

Give up giving up ~ Hang in there!!!!

(The picture posted on top is an ice dam in Door County, WI.  Beautiful yet ragged and ripped.....kinda like life.  Yet Spring comes and the ice melts.)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Composting...fun for the whole family!

No impressive composting bucket here!  Just an old (very) frozen margarita mix bucket!  : )

Composting 101 - What Is Compost?

Compost is simply decomposed organic material. The organic material can be plant material or animal matter. While composting may seem mysterious or complicated, it’s really a very simple and natural process that continuously occurs in nature, often without any assistance from mankind. If you’ve ever walked in the woods, you’ve experienced compost in its most natural setting. Both living plants and annual plants that die at the end of the season are consumed by animals of all sizes, from larger mammals, birds, and rodents to worms, insects, and microscopic organisms. The result of this natural cycle is compost, a combination of digested and undigested food that is left on the forest floor to create rich, usually soft, sweet-smelling soil.

Our family compost bucket is under the sink and gets filled up at least twice a week!  It's amazing how quickly that bucket gets full.  And remember, this is all fruit and vegetable waste.  At least that is all I use.  The above mentions animal matter.  I include my brown (non-bleached) coffee filters, coffee grounds and egg shells and any houseplant remains or cut flowers that would be tossed when brown.

This is all fabulous waste that gets dumped into our very large compost containter outside.  This all becomes "gold" soil for the garden.  (over time of course with a little mixing of the waste)  All this waste doesn't end up in landfills.  How cool!  I am doing my little (easy) part that the garden benefits from, which in turn we benefit from after we eat the garden veggies that were planted in the soil. 

Lauren's job is to dump the kitchen compost bucket into the big one outside (weather permitting) and so she is taking part in the garden from a very early stage of prepping excellent soil. 

Evan's job is to.........well, get into the dog-gone bucket under the sink and drive me nuts!  I caught him chewing on a banana peel last night.  I realized it was time to feed him dinner : )


Kale K R A Z Y....

Okay, enough with the kale talk I know!  I promise this is the last one.  But the two giant bunches of kale that I purchased was enough to do something else with.  Something as fantastic as KALE Potato chips...or rather "kale crisps."  But I swear they taste so much like chips it is insane.  Don't judge.  Just try them!  : )
BEFORE:  you will have a lot of kale which will get smaller as it crisps.......I just put washed and dried pieces of kale on a cookie sheet with a silpat (non-stick baking sheet) and I also have a cookie cooling rack that the kale is on top of.  This will ensure crisping on both sides of the kale.  I sprinkled some olive oil, salt and some balsamic vinegar on the kale before baking.  350 degrees for 10 or so minutes on the lowest rack of your oven.
AFTER:  significantly less in volume and significantly RIDICULOUS in flavor..........the kale is salty and crunchy and melts in your mouth. 
No more kale talk!  I get it.  Now, onto to my cauliflower "steaks" .........no lie.  Coming soon.  : )

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Two Yolks are better than none....

In my burned out state of prepping food for the kids I scrambled up some eggs for dinner tonight.  They love them and Lauren refers to them as "cheesey eggs" when I put some grated cheddar on top.  I claim "good protein and healthy" as well as brain-less for me to prepare!  I thought it was sorta funny and interesting that these two yolks came out of the same carton.  So what kind of eggs do you prefer?  Scrambled or Sunny-side up? 

G is for Groundhog....

Lauren brought these gems home from school today......punxsutawney Phil in magenta on the left and "pop-up Phil" on the right.  All the cool kids are making them!

I heart KALE!

Kale or borecole is a form of cabbage (Brassica oleracea Acephala Group), green or purple, in which the central leaves do not form a head. It is considered to be closer to wild cabbage than most domesticated forms. The species Brassica oleracea contains a wide array of vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, and brussels sprouts. The Cultivar Group Acephala also includes spring greens and collard greens, which are extremely similar genetically.  The name borecole most likely originates from the Dutch boerenkool (farmers cabbage).

There you have all the scientific goodies!  Kale also contains all the Vit A, C and K that you need in one day.  There you have it.  Another "super food" ranking up there with broccoli. 

I approached it in the same fashion as I have been cooking with my beloved brussel sprouts.  I have discovered http://www.thedailygreen.com/ and http://www.thekindlife.com/ (Alicia Sliverstone's blog...she also has a new book out entitled "The Kind Diet")  Both have given me some new inspirado and ideas and recipes.  I boiled the kale, then braised it in a pan with olive oil, garlic and shallots.  I added some balsamic vinegar, chili flake and honey.  DELISH.


As I was prepping dinner Lauren and Evan got in on the action and you'd think that these kids had no toys.  Lauren seriously was playing with the kale....come on.  I am not making this stuff up people!  Above you can see the "salad spinner fun" that was also had in the house tonight.  Even Evan got in on the action....so cute!



KALE Muffins anyone???  : )