Summer is Salad Season!

I love a good alliteration, don’t you? Well, I guess I enjoy any alliteration, thanks OCD… So I try really hard year round to keep as many fresh fruits and veggies in the house and in our meals as I can. Unfortunately I couldn’t afford to feed us balanced meals every meal if I bought all fruits and veggies fresh all year round. So I buy stuff in season, frozen, or canned.

*keep in mind when buying canned, look for “in its own juice”, “low/reduced sodium”, “no sugar added”, “packed in water” (as opposed to oil), and as a last resort “in light syrup”. These catch phrases can help you decide between the cans of peaches/tuna/peas or whatever.*

I think it’s completely ridiculous that fresh fruits and veggies are so expensive, but *shrugs shoulders* that’s the world we live in and I gotta feed my kids between now and when all the “reform” happens. (Don’t even get me started on school lunches or breakfasts– we don’t have time) I actually have a diagram and a cookbook Simply in Season (to find a diagram for your region check out your state’s EPA website, it’s there) that helped me learn (city dweller that I am) exactly what was in season (read cheaper, less greenhouse growing/truck traveling/etc) for my area when. In general, most of us have way more fruits and veggies coming into season this time of year, which is awesome cause I’ll eat raw broccoli all day long, but would rather never touch that stuff cooked. (remember, I’m the picky eater in my house) You probably noticed in a few other recipe posts we eat a lot of salad ’round here. In summer it gets more obvious. Because it’s the easiest, fastest, healthiest, don’t-heat-up-your-kitcheniest (go with it) meal for summer. I mean really, who wants to bake in the yard/at the pool/ on the commute home and then come home to stand at the hot stove? (or worse, the oven?) All you need to do is keep a base salad going (I’ll explain in a minute) and fixings and you can have salad several nights a week with no repeats. Here’s how:

Base Salad:

You are going to want a large bowl with a lid. I’m talking large mixing bowl size. The idea is you make/serve/store your base salad in it.

I use 1/2 head of iceberg, 1 heart of romaine and 1/3 bag of baby spinach. You can switch these around, add more adventurous lettuces if you like, these 3 offer a good green balance that is pretty damn kid friendly.

To this I add 1/3 bag of matchstick carrots (yes, more expensive, but makes up for it in ease, lasting crunchiness, and if you have kiddies with braces they can eat these raw carrots Bonus Mom Points-we will tally those later 😉  )

Toss all of this together, it is your base. When you are storing it fold a paper towel into quarters and place it in the bottom of the bowl, then salad, then lid. (this keeps things crunchy (read good) waaaay longer)

You will want to change the paper towel every 2 days or so. (when it feels damp to the touch)

When serving you pull base salad into individual plates/bowls and then top with the other ingredients to serve.  You can always just use this as a side dish to a main meal as well, in fact when I say “add a side salad” this is what I am referring to.  As a side salad I add whatever raw veggies are in season, cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms, etc.

Other great salad add-ons:

Tortilla strips (fun, colorful, less bread than croutons, which means you can have bread all buttered on the side, yum!)

Croutons (duh)

Raisins (any dried fruit really, I happen to love the cran-raisins)

Sunflower seeds

Chow mien noodles

Pecans/walnuts/peanuts (you get the idea)

Pineapple tidbits

Cottage cheese (try it instead of dressing)

Shredded cheese

Grated Parmesan

Alfalfa sprouts

Cooked & chilled green peas (surprisingly sweet)

Cooked & chilled white corn

Any canned bean (just THOROUGHLY rinse before adding)

What else can you think of? Stay tuned for meal time add-ons to this base salad recipe! (I might even remember to take pictures…)

*Below are links to Salad Meals. Feel free to share any suggestions you have/recipies that you like!*

Fancy Shrimp Salad

Baked Chicken Salad

Taco Salad 

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The Lucky One, I Love Oranges!

I just read the most scathing review I think  I have ever read. I was wondering what was being said about The Lucky One, the movie, because I read the book last summer and really enjoyed it. The reviewer basically crucified the book saying

“…the plot of “The Lucky One,” which rolls along on a series of square-wheeled coincidences, turning down rough roads of ridiculousness.”

Ouch. For the record I am a Nicholas Sparks fan, liked his books before the whole current make all of them into movies with teen starts craze. Most people (who read the genre) here in North Carolina are, a lot of his locations are real and that’s always cool when reading a romance. The reviewer goes on to say

“…Director Scott Hicks and screenwriter Will Fetters try, but there’s not a lot they can do to customize what feels like a product that’s rolled off the Sparks assembly line with every ridiculous plot contortion hard-welded into the structure.”

So it seems to me the critic, James Rocchi, hated the book and felt like the movie was the best possible, considering the material they had to work with. Well, damn. I haven’t seen the movie, obviously, that was why I was reading reviews, but the book was good. My GirlChild & RedBird both want to see the movie so I have loaned the book out. (I have a feeling that at least one of them just wants to see a sweaty Zac Efron, but whatever gets teen girls to read, like I said in Gluttony for a Cause, right?) Anyway, back to the bloody stripping this man has given ole Nicholas. First of all, I think the reviewer is comparing apples and oranges. With words like “assembly line” to describe the plot and

“but really it’s about rigorously, robotically following a predetermined “tried and true” phony and false formula”

 it sounds like he thought he was reading classic literature, something that might of won the Warwick Prize for Writing, or some other lofty award. If that was what The Lucky One was, than I would totally agree with his assessment of the book. The problem? That’s an apple, a shining piece of literary work, suitable for English class dissection and to be hallowed as a classic for generations to come. It’s not Pride and Prejudice, it’s a romance novel. It’s an orange, which I thoroughly enjoy. I do not expect my oranges to taste like apples, my Aerosmith to sound like Mozart, or my romance novels to have any literary merit. In my opinion, romance novels are not supposed to be very realistic, real-life isn’t romantic, that’s why some of us read this stuff. It’s an escapee from reality, like a grown-up fairy tale. Handsome guy woos damsel in distress, toss in over the top lines and a quirky additional character or two, stir and voila, romance novel. Each one should be a little unique, sure but they are supposed to be fun, light, a little unrealistic, something you can read in the park or the carpool, or the bathtub. I think this guy really needs to lighten up, no movie with Zac Efron in it is based on any apple, they are oranges and I enjoy citrus, thank-you-very-much.

 

Will you be seeing the movie The Lucky One? Have you read the book? If you have seen or read either what did you think?

Gluttoney for a Cause

Yesterday was one of those go to Barnes and Nobles and the proceeds will benefit your child’s school days. Well, I always go to the library or buy books on consignment (because they are too expensive new). One book? Not super expensive, but as you can see from our haul in the picture, I can’t physically buy just one book. To me they are like potato chips, 10 seems like a serving size, but I’d happily gobble up a few over that amount as well. I love to read, depending on the books, I can go through 3 or so in a week (this is working 2 jobs and not thoroughly neglecting anything except my sleep). And “earning” money for the school  is exactly the sort of excuse I need to go a little overboard in the bookstore. I have been trying for years to get all of my children (hell, I’d be happy with 1 child) to enjoy reading as much as I do. We have family reading time, I rent movies/go to see movies only after the book is read, I read “big kid” books aloud (think The Westing Game – a household fav) and we have discussions about what we read. Every once in a while I’ll think I’ve got one hooked, but, alas, it is always temporary. The lure of TV is too bright, the video games too flashy… Sigh.

Back to yesterday! We went (and I blew our “extras” budget so no candy/eating out/ driving too much this month) and everybody picked out some really great books. I thought it’d be fun to write little reviews/recommendations as we go along with our new books. So these are the books here (divided by who purchased them), I will link the titles to reviews as they come in. Should be fun…

BoyChild I:

  • The Witches by Roald Dahl
  • The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies
  • If You Give a Dog a Donut by Laura Numeroff

BoyChild II:

  • Ranger’s Apprentice Book 1 The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan
  • The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan

GirlChild:

  • Taming the Star Runner by S E Hinton
  • Try Not To Breathe by Jennifer R Hubard

Mama & Household Library:

  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • Fifty Shades of Gray by E L James
  • And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Did you notice? I finally broke down & got the book that everyone’s talking about, Fifty Shades of Gray. I’m going to see if it’s as erotic interesting as everyone says, I’ll let you know. I will start as soon as I finish reading the hysterical book I am reading right now. I got it at a yard sale recently, Family-The Ties that Bind… and Gag! by Erma Bombeck if you can find a copy it’s a great laugh out loud book that you can actually repeat the jokes in. She’s a great author for a fun read anyway, should you run across any of her stuff. She coined the phrase “Motherhood, the second oldest profession”. She would have been a Mommy Blogger in the 80s had there been such things then, seriously funny stuff. 🙂

So, happy reading, we will be in touch…

Also, if you are familiar with any on our list feel free to comment on any of them with your own opinion. (Obviously some of these books are classics, well depending on your definition of that word, but we didn’t have a copy of our own & I enjoy building our family library) 🙂

Happy Birthday Dr Seuss

So this week has been “Dr Seuss week” at the boys school. I love this week every year, it combines so many of my favorite things. There’s reading, there’s silly clothing/hair/hats/socks, there’s a birthday party, and we made an entire week a holiday to celebrate a children’s author. For those of you who are not in the know, Theodor Seuss Geisel was born March 2, 1904 (I Googled Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Seuss for the exact year). I’m not sure when public schools started celebrating Dr Seuss’s Birthday week, but they were doing it when GirlChild started kindergarten, so I assume a while now. Each year they have themed days and the entire week the school collects gently used children’s books to donate to charity. It’s a fun week injected into the nasty, gray, cold end of February/beginning of March. This year we did silly hat day, Dress as your favorite book character day (the picture of the boys is them dressed as Harry Potter & The Thing in the Zoo-which is from the Dr Seuss book Put Me In The Zoo, if you don’t recognize it you should totally check it out), crazy hair day (in which I use hair gel to twist & spike my sons’ hair), wear green like the Grinch day & crazy like a fox in socks day. So what a fun week, right? It got me thinking about all the great Dr Seuss books that there are (I’m excited to see The Lorax movie as that was my mother’s favorite)and I was trying to decide which was my favorite. I can’t think of a single one I don’t like, so this was a serious list making/brainstorming frenzy. Then it came to me…   

Fox in Socks.  Yup that’s it Fox in Socks is my fave. It’s not the deepest, the most meaningful, or the most thought provoking of the Dr Seuss books, but for me that epic nonsense poem is the epitome of sharing the joy of a book with a small child. Why? I’ll take you back to when BoyChild I was about 18 months old, he speaks maybe 4 words and sometimes will go a day or two without uttering any of them. (this is 3 years before he was finally diagnosed with SPD-Sensory Processing Disorder) I was in a panicky place regarding his development, I still had Pediatrician’s patting me on my 19 year old head saying, “each child develops at different rates” and “he’ll talk when he has something to say” and the knife in my heart, “maybe you don’t enrich his days enough” . I read to him, I kept one-sided convos going constantly, I sang, I danced, I eschewed TV, all of these things I did with his big sis as well but since she started talking in sentences at about 12 months I was less concerned about her. But my sweet cherubic looking baby boy? He would tilt his head to the side for a little bit and gaze at me with those big brown eyes, occasionally I’d get a smile or a raspberry blown my way, but only for a minute, then he’d turn away or just close his eyes. He’d been like this for months and I was desperate, I tried different books, different songs, different toys. Then one day GirlChild wanted me to read to her and her Brubby (which is 2 year old for brother and buddy-I asked back then)she brought along a book. It was a tattered copy of Fox in Socks from my childhood so I sat with them on either side of the couch and began to read. Normally I am a great reader, inflection, faces, the whole nine. But I’d forgotten how crazy all those made up words were to try to wrap my tongue around and I kept stumbling. GirlChild giggled, “Mommy, this book is hard for you to read!” I replied something like, well these words are hard to say, but it is kinda fun and laughed with her. That’s when I felt a small hand on my arm, I looked into those soulful eyes and smiled, “Mommy’s having trouble talking, huh?” A nod, then a giggle, then “Noodle eat Poodle.” Huge smile with 4 tiny teeth. And then there were 7 words.

I read that book at least once a day for years, I eventually got to where we would race to see how fast I could read it out loud. I haven’t read it or thought of it in a while but today I did and it made me smile again. So here’s to celebrating reading with your kids. I hope you are having a “Noodle eating poodle in a bottle in a puddle…” kinda day. Go read some one a book, then come back and share it with me.

What is your favorite Dr Seuss book and why?