13 October 2006

Some things never change…

Posted in C-boy, parenting at 8:57 am by Tricia

Apple Machine in 2001On the left is C-boy on a trip to the orchard in 2001,

Apple Machine in 2006and on the right is a picture from 2006

Some things (like his fascination with the mechanics of the apple sorting machine) never change – they just come into sharper focus! :^)


7 October 2006

Apple Days

Posted in C-boy, food at 8:01 am by Tricia

Last Wednesday, C-boy’s class was going to (our favorite!) local apple orchard. Z-boy’s class was supposed to walk to the Farmer’s Market, where our favorite orchard has a stand (but his trip got cancelled due to thunderstorms). And T-boy and Jonski Papa had to accompany me to the Farmer’s Market, since my immobilized arm couldn’t readily manage the CSA share pickup. The three of us stopped by the Wasem corner in the market to pick up our favorite cider, some honeycrisp apples (which I discovered and loved at least 2 years before they got noticed by the paper), and plums. Then I was tempted by some vintage / heritage apples at another stand, and picked up a quart of Greenings. We also bought some ginger gold apples at yet another stand, but they seem to have passed their prime as they have gotten pretty soft.

Friday was apple baking day in C-boy’s class. I’d volunteered to help before my accident. His teacher reassured me that they could probably manage without me, or I could come and help as much as possible. So I went, and helped C-boy’s group – 5 boys in an apple pie group. With the crusts pre-made, our task was pretty simple. We had an apple peeling machine, which was used with great gusto by our team. Once we had “apple slinkies”, we broke them up by hand into our mixing bowl rather than chop them. Given their enthusiasm with the peeler, I think I’m glad none of them were wielding knives! We mixed in some cinnamon, sugar, and cornstarch, then spooned onto the crust.

There were two pie groups (for a total of 4 pies), two crisp groups (apple crisp with flour, apple crisp with oatmeal), and one muffin group. Since I didn’t get to stay for the taste off, C-boy’s teacher sent a muffin home for me to try, and it was quite tasty.

So I’m not sure if I was inspired by the apple day muffins, or the overwhelming quantity of apples in our fruit drawer, but either way, I decided to make muffins on Sunday (using 1 Greening and 1 Ginger Gold). Since our apple peeler got left at school over the weekend, I had to chop the apples for these muffins by hand. I thought I’d use some apple cider as part of the liquid, to add an extra apple punch. And once I started mixing, I realized I was low on vegetable oil, so I did the “low-fat substitution” trick of substituting some applesauce for the missing oil. The result I named:

Triple Apple Muffins

2 eggs
1 cup milk + 1/2 cup apple cider
3/4 cup vegetable oil + 1/4 cup applesauce
2 medium apples, peeled and chopped
4 cups flour (I used 1.5 c whole wheat + 1.5 c white + 1 c wheat germ)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons baking powder
1.5 teaspoons salt

topping: 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup chopped pecans, 1 tsp cinnamon

Tip: prepare crumble topping and apple before preheating oven.

Heat oven to 400F. Prepare 24 muffin cups (I usually use liners, but was out today so used non-stick spray).

Mix 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup chopped pecans, and 1 tsp cinnamon in small bowl and set aside.

Beat eggs; stir in milk (and cider), oil (and applesauce), and chopped apples. Stir in remaining ingredients all at once until flour is moistened (batter will be lumpy).

Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full. Put a spoonful of streusel topping on each muffin. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Immediately remove from oven.

Cooking with one arm immobilized isn’t as hard as I’d feared, but does take a little extra time. Some containers are really hard to open. Some tasks are nearly impossible, so I hand them off – such as lifting (or pouring from) heavy pots, dumping or scraping from a lifted pan, using our garlic press, etc. Knife work is possible but requires some extra attention. There are times when I wish the counter were higher, and times when it could be lower (like when i need to hold something still for chopping with my left hand). But I’m managing!

5 September 2006

Back-to-School Treat

Posted in C-boy, food, T-boy, Z-boy at 11:50 pm by Tricia

In honor of eating seasonally, I made a special treat for back-to-school. What’s in season now? M&Ms, of course! In particular, the “Jack’s Gems” ones that are being discounted as the associated pirate movie wanes in popularity. :^)

I have an M&M cookie recipe but results were not stellar the last time I made it, so I turned elsewhere. Also, I wanted to make bar cookies since it would be quicker. I looked at the bar cookies chapter in one of my cookbooks, but didn’t find any chocolate chip bars recipes to adapt, so I turned to the back of the toll house morsels bag and adapted that.

M & M Bar Cookies

1 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
3 large eggs (mine were local! :^)
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups all-purpose white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cup M&M candies

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 15×10 inch jelly-roll pan (or if you don’t have one, combine a 9×12 cake pan with a bread loaf pan).

Beat sugar and butter in large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in eggs and vanilla extract.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Gradually beat flour mixture into creamed mixture. Stir in the chocolate bits. Spread into prepared pan(s).

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until top is golden brown. Cool in pan or wire rack.

Changes I made:

1. The original recipe only calls for white flour, but I didn’t have quite enough so I topped it off with wheat flour. It adds a nice touch (although at such a low percentage, it probably doesn’t improve the nutritional value much!).

2. The recipe calls for 2 cups of chocolate chips. I only put in 1 3/4 cups of Ms, but that seemed like too much, so I would try 1 1/2 next time.

First Day of School 2006 Here’s a picture of the boys on the first day of school. C-boy is entering 3rd grade, Z-boy is entering 1st, and T-boy will start going to a co-op preschool next week. And yes, they got some of these cookies in their lunchboxes today!

15 August 2006

Skateboard Mom? Not me!

Posted in C-boy, fun, parenting, T-boy, Z-boy at 9:59 pm by Tricia

A few weeks ago, Z-boy turned to me in the kitchen one night and said: “Tell me the truth. Do you put on heelys and skate around the house after I go to bed?” Where this came from, I have no idea, but after assuring him I did not, he proceeded to ask “Do you have any other secrets you’re hiding from me?”

Z-boy has been obsessed with skateboarding for months now, so Jonski Papa read him the biography of a current skateboard phenom, Andy Mac. Although they’ve been visiting various skateboard parks in this part of the state this summer (Z-boy on his skateboard, C-boy on inline skates), T-boy usually stays home. He’s too little for skate parks, plus he still needs someone to hold him up while skating. So I was surprised while planning a trip to the library the other day when T-boy insisted he get a book about Andy Mac. I dutifully found the book, and let him carry it on the way home. He showed it to his dad and proudly announced “We got a book about Andy Mac!” “Oh. What does Andy Mac do?” his dad asked (expecting to hear something along the lines of “ride a skateboard”. “He drops in!” T-boy replied. The title of the book, in case you didn’t follow the link, is Dropping In With Andy Mac (‘dropping in’ is the name of a particular skateboard trick).

Skateboard Mom Back Cover We also got 2 picture books about skateboarding on that same trip: Cosmo Zooms and Skateboard Mom. You can probably guess the plot of the latter book from the title (if you can’t, here it is: boy gets skateboard for his birthday, mom grabs it away and rushes out the door to show her stuff). But what got me was when we finished the book and I turned to the back cover and saw: “You better ask your mom what surprises she has up her sleeve…” Deja vu! Wasn’t Z-boy doing that just the week before? Eerie.

As it turns out, the author of this book used to be on an amateur skateboard team as a kid, and has founded The International Society of Skateboarding Moms which is “about making time for play, no matter your age.” I really wish I were better about making time for play, or had a more playful spirit, but I just don’t see myself stepping on a skateboard any time soon. A scooter is okay, but that’s about as extreme as I’m willing to go for the time being!

(And no, I’m not going to tell you what surprises I have up my sleeve – at least not today!)

14 August 2006

More Back Formations

Posted in C-boy, T-boy at 11:34 pm by Tricia

More great back formations from toddler minds:

At one point when C-boy was little, we branched out and added Kix to his prepared cereal repertoire. (They are, after all, kid-tested and mother-approved!) He decided that each little ball should be called a “kick”, as in “can I have one more kick?” (“kik”, perhaps?)

Ideally in our family, you change into “day clothes” before going downstairs in the morning. You definitely wear “day clothes” to go outside (exceptions: pajama shirts are allowed, especially if they are dearly beloved space-themed or otherwise cool; fleece footie pajamas have been allowed at times in winter). T-boy has decided that the singular form of “clothes” is “clo”, as in “I need a day clo shirt” or (more likely, in recent weeks) “I don’t like that clo!”

15 June 2006

Astute Observation

Posted in C-boy at 9:52 pm by Tricia

On the way home from school the other day, we saw a truck from Ductz outside a house. We also saw a Ductz employee outside the house, smoking a cigarette.

“Well that’s strange” C-boy commented. “The truck says that they make your air cleaner, but that man’s polluting the air by smoking cigarettes! And they’re polluting it by leaving the truck running.”

Maybe he needs to get a job in the Attorney General’s office, in the “false advertising claims” division.

5 April 2006

Not Beef Pie

Posted in C-boy, food, fun, Z-boy at 12:03 am by Tricia

Ingredients - Foolin Dinner Take “beef”, “potatoes”, “carrots”, “corn”, and “peas”.

Mixed - Foolin Dinner Pour into “gravy” and mix.

Foolish Pies Top with a crust, and what do you have?

Fooled Diners Not quite beef pot pie – but good enough for these two boys!

I saw this recipe for “Chicken Not Pie” in Family Fun magazine a few weeks ago, and knew I had a mission for April Fool’s Day. Since Z-boy was kind of in a funk as I was working on them, I decided to let him in on the surprise. About 5 minutes later, he went downstairs to inform C-boy that mom was making pot pies with candy and pudding. I was just about ready to throttle him! But the joke was on me – or maybe really on C-boy – because C-boy thought I was trying to fool Z-boy. Follow that? But he tried it nonetheless. And enjoyed it! I wonder if i could make real beef pot pie sometime, and get him to eat it because he thought it was this!

(Personally, I found the contrast of textures between pudding and chewy candies [starburst and jellybeans, standing in for peas, carrots, and corn] to be too off-putting, especially since the cold refrigerated nature of the pudding served to harden the candies. The chocolate [beef] and banana [potatoes], on the other hand, were nice and tasty!)

25 February 2006

Is this my child?

Posted in C-boy, food, parenting at 3:12 am by Tricia

Here’s a conversation C-boy and I had in the fall:
Me: You have snack day this week. What should we send?
C: How about banana chocolate chip muffins?
Me: Muffins? I don’t think we’re supposed to send muffins. I think your teacher prefers things like fresh fruit, or cheese and crackers.
C: But A-girl brought in muffins!
Me: Maybe it was her birthday, and that was a birthday snack.
C: No, it wasn’t. It was a regular snack.

So I agreed to email his teacher and ask for the low-down. She approved muffins, and that’s what we sent (after all, our recipe has considerable whole wheat flour and wheat germ, plus bananas, to counteract those chocolate chips!).

Fast forward to this month. Z-boy and C-boy had snack duty for their respective classes, on consecutive days. We had some bananas going beyond the pale (and into the brown spotty), so I was cutting them up for the freezer.

Me: Hey guys, how would you like to take banana chocolate chip muffins for snack this week?
Z-boy: Yeah, that’s a great idea!
C-boy: I’m not sure… We’ve had an awful lot of birthdays and half birthdays this month.
Me: But it’s not like we’d be sending cupcakes, these are healthy muffins.
C: But they’ve got chocolate chips in them!

I acquiesced, but goodness – is this my child? He’s never had as much of a sweet tooth as his brothers – in fact, he used to turn down candy as being “too sweet”. The first time at the neighborhood egg hunt (~18m), he opened his plastic eggs and fed us the candy. But there was one time, around age 2.5, when he surprised me. He fell down on a sidewalk, and cried as the goose egg started rising. I hugged and rocked and soothed him, and asked what would help him feel better. “Chocolate!” he responded. Once I got over my initial shock, I laughed and told him “that would make me feel better, too.”

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