Monday, March 31, 2008

Multi-Colored Pasta - Italy

I found this unusual looking pasta at Marshalls Department Store of all places. I bought some for a gift one time and since then the kids have been wishing they could try it. When I saw some more the other day at Marshalls, we bought it. This 8.8 oz bag of pasta cost $4.99. More than I like to spend on a bag of pasta - but beauty has it's price - and this pasta was beautiful!

Here are the ingredients: durum wheat semolina...if colored - violet (beetroot), green (spinach), yellow (tumeric), orange (paprika), black (sepia...Sepia is a dark brown-grey color named after the rich pigment that comes from ink sac of the common cuttlefish ...we actually tried cuttlefish before here), celery, gluten, salt.

The pasta is twisted and the edges look like they've been cut with pinking shears. Each strand has 3 colors yellow, green, pink (what they call violet) or black, orange, pink. Beautiful - looks more like candy than like pasta.

We all enjoyed it. The color did fade some as they cooked. I was in a hurry during meal preparation so I just served these with tomato based spaghetti sauce which did not allow the beauty of it to really shine through. Would have looked nicer with a sprinkling of herbs and parmesan and butter.

There was a slight difference in flavor to normal white had a bit of vegetable flavoring - but especially with the sauce on it you couldn't really tell.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Tofu - Soybean Curd

Today I cleaned out the fridge. That isn't quite a noteworthy event since I am not one of those people who only clean it out once a year or never. But as I was cleaning it out I came across this box of tofu. It has been in my fridge for at least a month or more and I decided it was time to do something with it.

There were a few different kinds of tofu - I thought the firm smooth texture sounded the "best". It was smooth but not what I'd call firm - more like a thick Jello density, rather than a block of cheese.

Tofu block

I read that you should put the tofu on a plate, place another plate on top of the tofu and then set something heavy on top of the plate to help drain the water out of the tofu for about an hour.

I drained the tofu first, then had my brave girl take the first bite. At first she made a sound of disgust when she felt it but once she took a taste she said she liked it..."plain...hint of water chestnuts." The boy of course didn't like it but agreed that it tasted "plain". I thought it was pretty bland.

I did want to see what the tofu was like once it was cooked so I went searching for a simple recipe. I came up with a recipe for "Hot and Spicy Tofu". It sounded like it might work since I had a few of the ingredients on hand and figured I'd skip the rest of the ingredients.

Tofu cubed and browned.

You cut the tofu into cubes, heat some oil, toss in the tofu and cook until browned. Once browned you toss in bell pepper and diced up jalepeno pepper (supposed to be a chili pepper and onion and garlic but I had none of those things). Cook for 5 min.

Mix together 1/3 c hot water, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, cornstarch and red pepper flakes - pour over tofu and veggies and simmer until sauce thickens slightly.

Cooked Tofu and Red Pepper

The tofu cooked with the peppers tasted fine. You ALMOST could think you were eating little bits of chicken breast with red pepper.

For all those tofu lovers out there - what is the benefit of eating tofu instead of say boneless, skinless chicken breasts (which I usually buy). It's not terribly high in protein, it doesn't taste all that good and the consistency isn't wonderful - so what is the allure? Is it primarily for vegetarians???

Frugal Friday - Free Legal Forms

Many public libraries offer free, to card carrying members, various legal forms. Official, State Specific, Federal, Business, Personal, Real Estate and General forms covering hundreds of legal subjects and issues, are available. All you need is a library card - and a library that subscribes to this service.

They do post a disclaimer that if you have SERIOUS legal problems or situations that are not normal (ie. you have an estate worth millions of dollars that you plan on leaving to some obscure charity rather than your 2 ex-wives, 3 step-children and your dog) – that you ought to consult an attorney.

But if you have a regular run of the mill situation, these forms may work for you. So if you have on-line access to your library check and see if they have Thomson Gale legal forms.

If you need help with filing for bankruptcy or divorce (hopefully not!) or want to legally change your name, write up your Last Will and Testament or give someone Power of Attorney – forms are available.

There are also sample letters you can print out – letters to enroll in COBRA, to request that your name be removed from mailing lists, to request a credit report of a minor, to request that your tenant vacate your property etc.

Tax forms are also available.

For more Frugal Friday tips - head on over to Biblical Womanhood.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

My Side of the Mountain

While wandering around the library last week I came across a book, actually 3 books in 1, that sounded interesting. The trilogy was "My Side of the Mountain", "On the Far Side of the Mountain," and "Frightful's Mountain", by Jean Craighead George.

I've been reading the first story, "My Side of the Mountain" in 1-hour or so increments to the kids and they have LOVED it. An added bonus for me, the reader of this lengthy book is that I also found it interesting.

Dd at least one time went off with the book to read some on her own, and I sometimes felt like doing that too. But I knew it would be unpleasant to have to re-read those portions that I had already read - so I controlled myself.

I should have known we would like the book b/c we found out the author also wrote "Tarantula in My Purse" - a book we read aloud about a year or two ago...also enjoyed by my dd.

I was (and still am) an avid reader - but somehow I missed reading this book in my youth.

It is the story of a young teenage boy, Sam, who runs away from home in New York to live on some land owned by his great-great grandfather in the Catskills Mountains. Sam lives off the land - all he brought with him was a penknife, $40, some string, an ax and flint and steel.

He finds and trains a baby falcon to hunt for food. He gathers wild plants/nuts...eats turtles, fish and wild game.

The book describes in detail his life during that period...the way he makes his shelter and survives for over a year.

This book seems like a winner for kids of all ages...both of my children - girl almost 9 and boy almost 6 enjoyed this book.

We found out that our library has "My Side of the Mountain" on video, so now that we are finished the first book, we've reserved the video. We can't wait to see the video!

Mini Mooncake Mhonthong - Thailand

When I purchased these cute little mooncakes, I did in fact notice the picture of our beloved "King of Fruit", the durian, on the front of the package.

But knowing that just because there is a cake called an "apple cake" it does not mean that all you are going to taste is pure sweet apples - but rather that it would be a nice cakish cake with a slight apple flavor. As well, carrot cake tastes NOTHING like carrots whatsoever. So I saw the cute little mooncakes, the picture of the durian and bought it anyway.

I thought today would be a nice day for the mooncakes. Dd had been bugging me for some time to allow her to make some "Bento Boxes" for lunch today - and I finally let her. It took her over a half hour to make her cute little boxes for her and her brother - consisting of soda crackers w/butter (since we were out of cheese) and pepperoni, shredded carrot and apple slices "carved" into various objects like a butterfly, moon etc.

Bento boxes are Asian and mooncakes are Asian - so it kind of all goes together.

Neither one wanted to try the mooncakes initially. Dd took the first bite (she can be very brave!)..."DURIAN! Sweet but like durian - this is going in the garbage." That didn't sound too encouraging to me - but I thought how much like durian could a little cake taste. A lot!

I took a small bite and it was PURE DURIAN tasting. No cake taste with a mild durian flavor. It was kind of a cake exterior but it was dense and inside was a paste? of what tasted like a spoonful of durian. I admit I did not even swallow it. Mine too went into the garbage.

The wee lad said "This is terrible smelling (it wasn't really) - like durian ...just say I didn't want to try it".

"Mooncakes are a Chinese pastry traditionally eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Typical mooncakes are round or rectangular pastries, measuring about 10 cm in diameter and 4-5 cm thick. ...Traditional mooncakes have an imprint on top consisting of the Chinese characters for longevity or harmony as well as the name of the bakery and filling in the moon cake. Imprints of a moon, a woman on the moon, flowers, vines, or a rabbit may surround the characters for additional decoration." (from Wikipedia)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Nestle Passa Tempo Cookies - South America

Hmmmm - it seems like a lot of the foods we are tasting these days are in the category of "junk food" doesn't it. Usually when we go to the world food store we just wander up and down the aisles and choose whatever looks interesting.

These cookies looked interesting. I figured since the word "Nestle" was on it - they were "safe".

They are little rectangular thin cookies with a brown (chocolate?) trim along the edges. There are various raised number face designs on each cookie. Definitely geared to the toddler crowd I'd say.

Dd - "Delicious...a hint of lemon, vanilla and chocolate". Don't know where she got the lemon from...

Ds - "A little hint of white chocolate."

Moi - buttery coconut flavor - all mild...couldn't taste any chocolate at all. They are a nice little size for those watching their calories...that is if you can limit yourself to only one.

Teach your toddler their numbers while they snack :)

This is kind of weird - Passatempo is the name of a virus! Hmmmm doesn't make the cookies sound too enticing..."Passatempo virus was isolated during a zoonotic outbreak. Biologic features and molecular characterization of hemagglutinin, thymidine kinase, and vaccinia growth factor genes suggested a vaccinia virus infection, which strengthens the idea of the reemergence and circulation of vaccinia virus in Brazil. Molecular polymorphisms indicated that Passatempo virus is a different isolate."

WFMW - Rolling Pin Substitute

I have a big, wooden, clunky rolling pin. Don't know where it came from but I've had it for years.

Sometimes I don't like dealing with the hassle of cleaning a rolling pin after using it, so I came up with a solution. A tall, thin, water glass.

If I'm making biscuits I just dust the glass with a little flour and roll out the dough. Works fine for cookie dough also. Just pop it into the dishwasher when I'm finished with it. And actually if you're making cut biscuits - you can roll out the dough with the glass and also use it for cutting out the round biscuits.

The only thing a glass might not work on would be a heavy dough like bread dough.

This little trick has been working for me for many years now. For more Works For Me Wednesday tips - head on over to Rocks in My Dryer.

Father Forgets - A Critique on Criticism

OK - maybe I am the only person on the face of the earth that has never read this little piece until this week...but in case there are others that have never read this - I'm posting it. It's called "Father Forgets"...though I'd say it could also be called "Mother Forgets".

Reading this makes me think there is a fine line between "training" or "correcting" and "criticizing" children. It seems throughout the day I am constantly "reminding" the kids of proper manners ("use your fork not your fingers"), the correct way to do things ("comb your hair so it doesn't look messy"), the things not to do ("don't leave your jacket on the floor"..."you left a mess at your chair") etc. etc.

Of course if we don't correct them - who will? We don't want them being made fun of because they eat like an animal or go out in public looking like they were raised in a barn. Yes we can set a good example and hope they will emulate us - but they are children and they forget or don't care.

Father Forgets
W. Livingston Larned

Listen, son: I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little
paw crumpled under your cheek and the blond curls stickily
wet on your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room alone.
Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the
library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guiltily
I came to your bedside.

There are the things I was thinking, son: I had been cross
to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because
you gave your face merely a dab with a towel. I took you to
task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when
you threw some of your things on the floor.

At breakfast I found fault, too. You spilled things. You
gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You
spread butter too thick on your bread. And as you started off
to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand
and called, “Goodbye, Daddy!” and I frowned, and said in
reply, “Hold your shoulders back!”

Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came
up the road I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles.
There were holes in your stockings. I humiliated you before
your boyfriends by marching you ahead of me to the house.
Stockings were expensive-and if you had to buy them you would
be more careful! Imagine that, son, from a father!

Do you remember, later, when I was reading in the library, how
you came in timidly, with a sort of hurt look in your eyes?
When I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption,
you hesitated at the door. “What is it you want?” I snapped.
You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge,
and threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, and your
small arms tightened with an affection that God had set
blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither.
And then you were gone, pattering up the stairs.

Well, son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped
from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What
has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding fault, of
reprimanding-this was my reward to you for being a boy. It
was not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too
much of youth. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own

And there was so much that was good and fine and true in your
character. The little heart of you was as big as the dawn
itself over the wide hills. This was shown by your spontaneous
impulse to rush in and kiss me good night. Nothing else matters
tonight, son. I have come to your bedside in the darkness, and
I have knelt there, ashamed!

It is feeble atonement; I know you would not understand these
things if I told them to you during your waking hours. But
tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, and suffer
when you suffer, and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my
tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it
were a ritual: “He is nothing but a boy-a little boy!”

I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you
now, son, crumpled and weary in your cot, I see that you are
still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother’s arms, your
head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Global Foods Market

Thought I'd post a photo of the store where most of our exotic eating foods are found.

I don't know how long the store has been around, but we drove past it many times I'm sure, before we decided to go in. It has the honor of being the largest international food store in Missouri and supposedly bus loads of tourists are deposited there.

It's never been busy when we go in the morning. The store is usually very neat and tidy and the food is divided by country/regions. The first aisle might be foods from Pakistan and India, the next Sweden, England and Scotland. Over each aisle there are flags depicting the countries.

It's the kind of store you need plenty of time to roam around in.

Hmmm I guess the outside of the store isn't too interesting...I'll need to take some indoor photos the next time we are there.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Pickles and Mustard Sandwich...Anyone??

Today we were driving home from picking up the kids free Pizza Hut "Book It" pizzas. Sign up for the fall - homeschoolers can take part in it.

Some how we got on the topic of the lunch dd made for her dad today. "I couldn't find any sandwich meat" she said. So I asked her what she did. "I just put on mustard and pickles". I thought perhaps she was joking b/c she likes to tease me and get me riled up about such things (hmmm wonder where she learned to do that??). She was serious. "Are you sure there was no sandwich meat?" I asked..."You should have told me b/c we could have at least made him a PB&J sandwich or I could have taken something out of the freezer". "Well there either wasn't any or I was too tired to see it" she continued.

I make a special trip to the grocery store for sandwich meat so that poor pops won't have two days of bread/pickle slices (4 per sandwich)/mustard sandwiches. At least it was some tasty homemade bread.

We buy the meat. I put it away in the fridge...look around for about 2 seconds and find the sandwich meat that was in fact, there, in the morning when the girl made her dad's lunch.

She was sorry. Probably not as sorry as a dad eating a pickle and mustard sandwich on whole-wheat. I called dh to ask if something was missing from his sandwich. The girl said I should not have told him b/c "maybe he wouldn't have noticed if you hadn't mentioned it". :)

Sweetened Red Bean Paste - Koshi An (Fine)

Sweetened Red Bean Paste from China. A couple of years ago at our library they were doing a little study on China or Japan, geared towards young kids. They read some books, did a craft and sampled some treats. One treat was "ice-cream" that had red bean paste in it. So when we saw a package of red bean paste we decided to try it. Dd insisted on having it served next to some vanilla ice-cream :)

The ingredients are very simple - red beans, sugar and water.

The package reads "Shirakiku "Koshi An" is made of high quality red beans which are boiled and sweetened according to our original recipe. Please enjoy with pancakes, anmitsu, zenzai etc.

Here is a website that shows how to make some yourself - includes a video with musical accompaniment.

Dd - "Tastes like beans - sweetened beans."
Ds - "Strange - I can't stand it!"
Moi - Very sweet and smooth but with some grittiness...I couldn't really tell that it was beans I was eating. A small amount mixed in with something else would be alright - but it was sickeningly sweet.

Every Child Needs A Little Country

We are city dwellers. We love some things about the city - the convenience...everything is within a very short drive, or even a walk if one was so inclined. The grocery store, the library, the bank, Wal-Mart, the gas station, and numerous parks can all be walked to in less than 1/2 hr.

In the city you are not stuck with one grocery store - but rather down the "main drag" there is a choice of four grocery stores. I can't even count how many banks. If you don't like Wal-Mart there is a K-Mart and a Target and some dollar stores. There is even a mall within walking distance. Fast Food galore!

The hospital and doctor's office is about 10 min away. But if you don't like that one - you need drive only about 20 min and there are 2 more hospitals.

Baseball, the symphony, museums, science center, children's activity center, the zoo etc. all within about 1/2 an hour.

My husband's job is about a 15 min drive. Church is about a 20 min drive away. The airport about 10 min away.

Convenience - that's what we like about the city. But we are not city people.

My dh grew up on a farm. The biggest town was a 30 min drive from home. School was an hour bus ride (school wasn't that far away but that's how long he had to sit on the bus as the driver stopped and picked up everyone else).

I grew up in a very small town - population 11,000. McDonalds didn't even arrive until I had grown up and moved away :(

So in our "souls" we are small town/country folk.

This weekend we drove out to the country. To the old farmstead. The kids were excited. They've lived in the city their whole lives - but they love the country, they love the farm.

Out in the country they can see the sky...they can smell the fresh air (well as fresh as the air can be with cattle around that is)...they can see things growing...they can explore. They can get dirty. They can clearly hear the birds chirping, the frogs singing, the cows mooing.

There is a creek nearby for swimming (if you don't mind the cotton mouths) and for crawdad, tadpoles and frog catching. For skipping rocks, and for hunting for arrowheads. There are cats for cuddling and dogs for chasing.

There is the tractor, the gator and the 4-wheeler for riding around in with grandpa, or dad, or an uncle.

There are hay bales for climbing on (and falling off of). Fences for climbing.

The kids get dirty (and smelly!). Their bodies are scratched up. But they are happy.

Every child needs a farm. A bit of country all their own.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Taro Net - Seaweed Flavor

Makanan Ringan Rasa Rumput Laut - don't know what it means but it means something as it's written on the front of the package. I think it says "this tastes very good - buy it".

Taro net are little snack crackers that are shaped liked nets. These are from Indonesia.

The flavor we chose was "Seaweed". It's not an artificial flavoring - the nets really do include some dried seaweed.

The texture and flavor reminded me of a plain pork rind. There was only a mild seaweed flavor...also reminded me of the flavor of Raman Noodles. They were tasty and we all enjoyed them. The kids really liked them - and kept wanting more.

Ds - "...also have a stange taste...kind of salty."
Dd - "salty and crunchy."

Frugal Friday - Cutting Out Toys

We had just finished shopping at Wal-Mart. The kids had looked around through the toy department, thinking of the different things they might like to own someday.

Dd's favorite toys of the moment are "Littlest Petshop" and ds's favorites are Playmobil. They are allowed to use their own money to buy more if they want - but we've limited it to 1 addition to their collection per month. Partly to control the toys and partly b/c we don't want all their money disappearing.

Dd is good at saving her money. She does inquire sometimes whether something is "wise" or if we think something is a "good deal" before she buys it. Her brother on the other hand would like to buy everything in sight, today.

As we were on our way home dd said something like, "if there is a toy that you like but don't have or don't want to buy b/c it's too expensive - then you can just cut it out of a magazine and play with it like paper dolls." She speaks from experience b/c I've actually seen her do this before. She has cut things out of paper from either catalogues or things she has drawn and attaches magnets to them and puts them on the fridge.

She has a real doll house (dad made it) with people and furniture (Playmobil) and the enjoys playing with it. But she also is currently building a house out of a cardboard box and adding furniture etc. from things she makes or finds. She cuts pictures out of magazines and adds them to her house.

When I was a young girl and visiting our grandparents I remember my grandma teaching us to do the same thing. We got a box, some old Sears' catalogues and began filling up our house. It was great fun.

My Frugal Friday tip is, if there is something you would love to have but can't afford it, or can't justify spending the money on - just cut it out of a magazine and play with it :) (courtesy of dd) I wonder if it works the same with new cars and new houses?

So the next time your child is bored, hand them a catalogue, some scissors, glue and have them design a home with a family. It's basically free if you already have those things on hand.

For more Frugal Friday tips click here.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

79 words


Kids and Cooking Shows

My kids enjoy watching cooking shows - particularly "America's Test Kitchen".

Yesterday dd commented about how great the cooking show was in "hi def". Today she was talking about how good something looked - they were cutting up beef. "Why?" I asked - "you don't even like meat (very much)." "Well it looks great RAW!" she replied. She continued, "I like pepperoni, hot dogs and ham". None of those things are regulars in our house - well pepperoni is for kids' pizza about 1x a dogs maybe 1 or 2x a yr when grilling - and ham maybe 1 or 2x a yr.

"Mmmm yummy" said the boy when they saw the beef/beer/onion stew completed on ATK..."Well at least the meat" said the girl.

Maybe my dd should move to Belgium - I hear raw meat is a delicacy there.

18 Benefits of Regular Aerobic Exercise

Heart Rate Monitor

We all know that regular exercise can result in weight loss and maintaining an ideal weight, but did you know that there are reasons to exercise that have absolutely nothing to do with weight? That even if your scale reads 105 and you are happy in your size 2 clothes - you still need to exercise. Daily.

For some reason when I think of aerobic exercise I think of body suits, leg warmers and some jazzy music.

What exactly is meant by aerobic exercise?

"Aerobic exercise refers to exercise that involves or improves oxygen consumption by the body. Aerobic means "withoxygen", and refers to the use of oxygen in the body's metabolic or energy-generating process. Many types of exercise are aerobic, and by definition are performed at moderate levels of intensity for extended periods of time. Aerobic exercise involves a warming up period at 50-60% of maximum heart rate, followed by at least 20 minutes of exercise at an intensity of 70-80% of maximum heart rate and a cooling down period at an intensity of 50-60% of maximum heart rate." (Wikipedia)

This explains it in easier to understand terms (at least for me) - "Using the same large muscle group, rhythmically, for a period of 15 to 20 minutes or longer while maintaining 60-80% of your maximum heart rate."

When I am involved in aerobic exercise I wear a heart rate monitor to make sure I am exerting myself enough. I don't want to waste 25 min a day on exercise that doesn't give me the full benefits that I am seeking. A heart rate monitor is a device that allows you to measure your heart rate in real time.

So here are some of the benefits of regular aerobic exercise:

1. Strengthens your heart muscle and blood flow, while reducing blood clot risk
2. Increases lung capacity
3. Lowers blood pressure
4. Protects against the start of adult0onset diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity
5. Strengthens your bones, slowing down the process of osteoporosis
6. Helps to move about more easily by keeping joints, tendons, and ligaments more flexible
7. Quicker recovery time from sickness or surgery
8. Improves sleep
9. Increases levels of HDL or "good" cholesterol, while reducing "bad" cholesterol
10. Boosts the immune system
11. Reduces the risk for the most deadly diseases: heart disease and cancer
12. Longer life expectancy
13. Greater enjoyment of active leisure activities
14. Improves mood due to endorphins releases in the brain
15. Raises self-esteem
16. Reduces emotional stress and muscle tension
17. Reduces the likelihood of depression
18. Increases intellectual capacity and activity

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Foodoodler Eggs - Winter Bazaar

I hadn't planned on dyeing Easter Eggs with the kids this year. Partly due to laziness, partly due to the fact that we will be out of town for Easter and partly b/c the kids didn't ask.

Well they didn't ask b/c they thought up the idea on their own to just color the eggs with markers...without mom knowing about it. They turned out OK - my concern was that the marker ink got through onto the inside of the egg...though the marker pkg had been long thrown away, dd was "sure" that they were non-toxic (probably all kiddie markers are anyway). But this gave me another idea.

Last yr I bought some Foodoodler markers - markers that are specifically for writing/drawing on food. So today when we boiled some eggs for eating - dd asked decorating eggs and since mom was in on the project this time - I got out the Foodoodler markers. A package of 8 markers costs about $8 (plus shipping). I found mine on eBay.

Dd liked using the doodlers better than the traditional way of coloring eggs b/c it allowed more creativity. Ds who had a hard time coloring his eggs - said he liked dyeing eggs better.

For more Winter Bazaar ideas - head on over to Scribbit.

Samosa - Indian Snack

Well I've tried a few Indian foods thus far and I've come to the conclusion that I don't care for it.

I like the hot spiciness of it - but the mix of spices I'm not crazy about. And the smell - it has a very distinct smell and I don't like it.

Samosa are like little fried dumplings. They are a popular snack in South Asia.

The package said, "Spicy Indian Snack with Green Gram, Cashew Nuts & Raisins". It sounded quite tasty - a nice combination of spicy and sweet (so I thought). Ingredients are: refined wheat flour, peanut oil, split green gram pulse, cashew nuts, raisins, sugar, salt, red chili, aniseed, black pepper, coriander powder, cardamom, mango powder and cumin powder.

Inside crumbly mixture of spices and cashews

Incidentally, it seems like so many of these foreign packages have the tiniest print ever - especially the ingredients.

The outside of the samosa is a flaky, crisp pastry like pie dough...inside there is a dried mixture of nuts/raisins and spices. It was not sweet at all - which was a disappointment - I was thinking the cashew nuts & raisins combo would be kind of trail mixish. But it wasn't. I actually could not taste any raisins in there at all. Actually I just cracked open another one and I did not see any raisins in there.

If you'd like to try making your own - here is a recipe.

Neither of the kids liked the samosa "too spicy".

Now speaking of India...growing up there were a lot of "East Indians" living in our city. When I got to the USA - I was told they were not referred to as "East Indians" but just Indians. To me Indians meant "Native Americans" or "Aboriginals" (as called in Canada in these politically correct days).

So my question is - are Indians (from India) just referred to as Indians? Is the term "East Indian" just something people around us made up in order to distinguish them from the large Aboriginal Indian population? Just curious...

WFMW - Packing Checklist

My memory isn't nearly as good as it once was (or at least I once thought it was). It all changed when my first baby entered our home.

We tend to travel quite a bit. Whether its a week long trip or just a weekend out at the farm (in-law's place), there is a lot of stuff that we need to bring along. Of course now that the kids are older there is less to cart with us (no diaper bags, baby wipes, diapers, bottles, etc) - but still too much for me to remember without my handy dandy packing checklist.

I typed up a word document with 5 or 6 columns - 1 column per family member, 1 extra column for things not pertaining to a specific person and one for things to remember to do before we go out the door.

Under each person's name is a list of what I need to pack for that person (ie. underwear, socks, pjs, sleeping toy, barrettes, hairbrush, day clothes, Sunday clothes, shampoo etc).

Under the "Remember" column - water plants, turns off computers/printer, turn off dehumidifier, heat off (programmable thermostat now - so that just needs to be reprogrammed), take out trash etc.

Under the general column - snacks, cell phone, hand wipes, sun screen, medicine etc.

The document is easy to change, so before printing it out I just add/delete items that might apply to our current trip - like rubber boots for the farm this weekend...

When I'm ready to pack, I print off the checklist and then cross off the items as they are added to the suitcases. Dd likes to help with the packing so sometimes I'll print out her section separately and let her help out (though I check her stuff to make sure she hasn't forgotten something).

This doesn't guarantee that I won't forget something - but it sure cuts down on missing things.

For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, head on over to Rocks in My Dryer.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Eel Fillets - Thailand

No doubt about it - eels are downright creepy! "Eels are bony fish that have a muscular, snake-like body. There about 500 species of eels worldwide. Some eels live in salt water, but many also live in fresh water." That phrase "bony fish that have a muscular, snake-like body" says it pretty well.

Now I've always wanted to taste snake (cooked of course). I've thought about it, but never had the opportunity. I like looking at snakes from a distance and find them pretty interesting. I used to enjoy wading in the creek at my in-law's farm, until I read up on cotton mouth snakes (which are residents at the creek).

But eels tend to have a creepiness about them that is different than snakes. Perhaps b/c they live in the water, one imagines them to be rather slimy and very fast moving. And any time a species looks like a different species, it's a bit unnerving. An eel is a fish but looks like a snake. At least the picture on the wrapper didn't look as creepy as this type of eel.

A young eel is called an elver - which is a cute sounding name.

Well I found the eel tasting to be disappointing.

The fillets just looked like flat, small pieces of fish. "It smells like bacon" said the boy.

I thought the texture was softer/mushier than other canned fish like sardines. It wasn't nearly as good as sardines and had an unpleasant flavor...which in part could have been from the soybean oil it was packed in.

Dd said, "Mmmmm, sort of like sardines. I want more! Really soft." She probably would have eaten the whole tin if I had let her. She did not want me to throw any of it away.

Ds said, "Totally fishy...wouldn't say it tastes like sardines - it's like the inside of Captn D's fish".

Adventurous Eating

Someone asked me the question, in regards to my kids willingness to try new things, "How do you get your kids to be so adventurous?" and "how do you get picky kids to try new things"?

Regarding picky eating - from the time the kids were very young, we tried to have some consistent rules at the dinner table. The kids were to eat everything on their plate. We started out with very small portion amounts so it would not be an impossible task. If the kids wanted more - that was fine. If they got seconds of something and were unable to finish it - they did not have to finish it.

If there was/and still is a food that the kids don't particularly like - and I happen to be serving it - they get some. For example my son doesn't like potatoes. I will not give my ds a huge serving - but if we are having stew that contains potatoes, he might get 2 or 3 small potato chunks. It might take him longer than usual to eat them - but he eats them. Dd hates tomato sauce based meals like lasagna (well she likes everything about it except the tomato sauce) - but she still gets a small portion of it.

I generally never make a separate food item for the kids b/c they don't like something we are having. If I have time, and am feeling so inclined - I may leave some meatballs out of the spaghetti sauce for dd. I do pick the banana chunks out of my boy's fruit salad. I don't make a big deal about the kids eating around the bell peppers in their stir fry - but if THEY make it into a big deal - I halt it (ie. fingers in a bowl of soup trying to pick out something they don't like).

I do try to make meals that I think we will all enjoy. When we are eating at someone's house - the kids are expected to have a bit of whatever main dish is being served and side dishes are a bit more optional. If there is a buffet meal somewhere - basically the kids get to choose what they eat (with a bit of guidance).

Eating basic, healthy food items isn't always a choice. If kids had their choice they'd eat pizza, Doritos and soda and ice-cream. When ds was younger he HATED water. But especially in the summer I was not going to just give him Kool-Aid or other sweetened waters - he had to learn to drink it even if he didn't like it.

When my dd was about 4 or 5 she refused to drink something and sat at the table for a couple of hours and still refused to drink it. This was kind of a "test" for us both. I was hoping she'd give in, she was hoping I'd give in. She never drank it. It wasn't anything nasty. That was the last time we tried that method...though she figured she eventually won - she never held out like that again.

Especially with ds, it has been a bit of work to get him to eat things he says he doesn't like. But the things he tends to not like are things that are good for him (there isn't probably any fruit he would say he likes) - so he needs to eat some every day. We've used various methods to "encourage" him to eat the things he doesn't like...if a child refuses to eat a food then you treat it as you would any other situation where your child does not do what you tell them to do. Now of course when we are trying out some new food for fun - that does not apply. I am not going to discipline a child for not wanting to try some eel.

So how did they end up being so "adventurous" in their eating? I think some of it has been that I have tried to make things sound exciting. "Hey wouldn't it be fun to try this?" I think some of it is a "game" to them...seeing what unusual thing they can eat and tell other people about. There is some personal pride of experience in it...even if they don't tell someone else about it - they can feel good in knowing "I tasted the King of Fruit and lived to tell about it." Both kids are of a very inquisitive nature - that may also have something to do with it.

When I asked dd herself why she was willing to try different things she said, "Because it's fun...and it's interesting." I think ds does it more in order to not be left out...a little sense of competition between him and his older sister.

I don't want our kids to end up being picky eaters as adults. It's always seemed a bit shameful for grown-ups to be picky eaters.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Finnish Sweet Licorice Carpet- Finland

Now who wouldn't want to grab this cheerful face off the shelf. This licorice is from Finland and cost about 80 cents. The website referred to the licorice as "licorice carpet" with three layers. You can peel the layers apart - kind of hard, they do end up tearing.

The website is cute - just like their packaging.

The licorice was super soft, very sweet and delicious. Best black licorice I ever tasted. Kind of had a funny aftertaste though. If I had my druthers I would have eaten the whole package...but I did share some with my dh and son.

Dd hates black licorice so she didn't even try it - but ds loved it... "Mmmm yummy...this kind sticks to my teeth. It's good - great!"

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Porridge and Raspberries

I actually stole this idea from someone else. It was a tip I came across one time and if I knew who posted it, I would give proper credit - b/c I think it's a great idea.

To cool off hot porridge / hot oatmeal for children - throw in some frozen fruit. Blueberries and raspberries work best. It adds some fruity flavor while making it cool enough for a little one to eat it.

Now all that being said - my kids don't do that. Dd loves raspberries, but hates porridge, ds loves porridge but I doubt he'd want any fruit in his at all. So really I am the one that does it all the time. Not because I'm a sissy and can't eat hot porridge - but b/c I think it tastes WONDERFUL! I love raspberries any way, any time - but this makes some boring hot cereal taste better, more colorful, and if you add enough of it - you can get in some extra serving of fruit for the day.

All Things Come to Him Who Waits

If you have a child like I do, once they get within about 363 days of their birthday - they begin asking "how many more days until my next birthday?" There is still left over cake from their recent party, their new toys are still new - but they are anticipating the next birthday. Whether it's greed (more presents!) or just excited about being bigger and older...they want to know how much longer.

Well I found a website where you can type in the present date and the date you (or more likely your child) are anticipating - and it will tell you how many days. You can even type in the current hour and minutes so you can figure it out even more exactly. - it also features a time zone converter, sunrise/sunset calculator, distance calculator (even between countries), and other fun calculations.

Here are some fun facts -

- To visit my sister in Papua New Guinea it's only a matter of 8379 miles or 7282 nautical miles.
- I have been married for 4578 days.
- 2206500 seconds until my son turns 6 (though this number of course is continually decreasing)

"They that make the best use of time have none to spare."
"Every day in they life is a leaf in thy history."
"It will be all the same a hunred years hence."
"The longest day must have an end."
"Never is a long day."
"He that has most time has none to lose."
"Now is the constant syllable ticking from the clock of time."
"What reason and endeavor cannont bring about, time often will."

Saturday, March 15, 2008

No Power. No Authority.

The kids and I went on a walk yesterday. We were almost home when ds blurts out, "That's what I don't like about being a power or authority!" I don't even know what we were talking about that brought that on. He was probably lamenting over something that he couldn't do or had to do, or something older dd could do and he couldn't do. It's hard being six!

I'd say that's a good thing about being a power or authority. How would you like to be six and have to make earth shattering decisions with lasting consequences..."should I buy or sell?", "invade or not invade?", "plastic or paper?", "beef or chicken?".

It would be pretty scary to have six yr olds running around with power and authority...though in some families you kind of get the impression that the kids are the ones with power and authority...

Friday, March 14, 2008

Koala's March White Chocolate Creme - China

Dd spotted these and thought they were too cute to resist. She bought them with her own money and paid about $1.50 for this little package. A product of China.

The box is kind of octagonal shaped and has pictures of koala bears. It is cute. The kind of treat that definitely appeals to little girls (and boys).

The cookies inside are little puffy "X" shapes with various picture outlines of koalas doing different things like driving a car, playing a musical triangle etc.

The box says "white chocolate creme filled cookies" and the picture kind of looks like there would be a lot of creamy chocolate pouring out with one little bite - not the case. Rather the cookies are somewhat hollow inside, with the walls coated in white chocolate.

We all liked the cookies. They are not overly sweet and it's only a hint of chocolate that you taste. Dd did think they tasted a bit like Oreo cookies.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Zentis Kartoffeln - Marzipan "Potatoes"

For a very long time (she'd probably say, "All my life") dd has been wanting to try marzipan. Whenever we'd pass some in a store she'd comment about how she wants to try some "someday".

Today another of her wishes came true - for the small amount of $2.09. There was a small bag of marzipan with little balls in it that were made to look like potatoes. I'm not sure why potato looking candies are popular enough to actually be a candy by itself - but it is. These candies come from Germany.

I found this quote "There are a few things which belong to Christmas, such as the delicious genuine Zentis Marzipan Potatoes. They have often made eyes light up."

The ingredients are: sugar, blanched almonds, cornsweetner, fat-reduced cocoa, humectant invertase. Don't know what humectant invertase is but it sounds kind of gross.

We all agreed these candies were tasty.

Dd - "Tamarind candy! Sort of nutty, sweet, and coconutty - really, really coconutty."
Ds - "(Like) chocolate covered cherries."
Moi - I thought it was chewy and tasted like fudge - almond extract flavored fudge.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Eye Spy....

Nothing really to do with eating...though I just thought of something about eyeballs that is food related...I still remember a film in grade school talking about how some kind of whale or fish eyeballs were like candy for the Eskimos (which I believe is a politically incorrect name now-a-days...but I don't know the politically correct name).

Also today at supper ds was having trouble finishing off his fruit salad. He is veryyyyyy slooooooow at eating foods he's not crazy about. He eventually will eat them - it just takes awhile. Well first he had to pick out the 2 small banana slices that I missed when I doled his fruit out. Then he was still kind of being slow and there were a bunch of green grapes sliced in half - so I said (thinking it would sound cool) "why don't you pretend they are Sith eyeballs?" With that he spit out the grape that was in his mouth. It "grossed him out" - who would have thought?? Now I don't know what Siths even are (and my dd piped up to say that Siths is not the proper way to pluralize Sith) but they have something to do with Star Wars.

WFMW - Vacation Travel Planning

Since vacation season will be upon us soon, I thought for "Works For Me Wednesday" I'd write about what "works for me" in trying to make our travel go as smoothly as possible.

All of our family travel is via car and we make all our travel arrangements ourself.

Our trips are usually about 7-10 days in duration and we like to make the most of our vacation time. Something that has helped us to keep on track and have all our important information in one place, is a travel binder.

Inside the binder are maps/driving directions, hotel reservations, restaurant recommendations, planned activities, emergency information etc.

The binder is divided into sections for each day of our trip - even if the day is only spent driving.

The first sheet for each day contains a summary of that day - with information like below:

Date: Saturday (28th) Driving Day

Depart: 5 am
Arrival: Tucumcari 8 pm
Drive: _____ miles (____ hrs)

Motel: Name, Exit Number, Price

Breakfast – in car
Lunch – packed lunch
Supper – eat out

Activities: Driving (bulk of day)
Eat supper
Sight seeing

Possible restaurants - addresses and brief summary if necessary.

Comments: Here we can either make notes about the hotel (good/bad), the restaurant and the activities we participated in.

2nd Page: Driving directions and maps for that day

3rd Page: Hotel reservation confirmation sheet

4th Page: Detailed information on planned and alternate activities (location of activity, hours open, fees)

On our return home we can file away these pages for future reference and to assist in any written documents for "Scrapbooking" and family journaling.

Visit "Rocks in My Dryer" for more Works For Me Wednesday Tips.

Winter Bazaar - Tickle Sticks

Here is my Winter bazaar fun activity.

When we were traveling in Canada this summer, we visited a store that was selling some interesting candy-on-a-stick, called tickle sticks. They looked super simple to make, so I decided to have some for the kids to make at my dd's birthday party last year. All my pictures were taken with a regular camera - so no pictures to upload here :(...but you can check out the official "Tickle Stick" website here.

You start with a wooden skewer (like you'd use for kabobs) and poke on all sorts of wiggly gummy candies (there are many different gummy candies besides bears...sharks, worms, rats, spiders, octopus) and marshmallow candies. I purchased one of those styrofoam blocks for everyone to poke their sticks into until they were ready to go home.

Of course this is an activity you'd want to supervise young children with, to make sure there are no poking out of eyeballs or similar incidents. The danger of supervising, for you, would be that there would be a great temptation to taste test all the different gummy and sour candies.

For more activities visit Scribbit.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Groovy Girl's First Post

My dd aged 8, wants to have a blog. Her mean old mom won't let her have her own blog :( today she made up a "blog" in a word document. She came up with it all on her own.

So anywhooo - I told her I'd post her blog entry on our family it is. The only thing I did was correct a couple of spelling errors...

"MAKING A PLAYHOUSE Most people have a garage or a shed - so why not make it a playhouse for your kids? Fill a pail with water for a sink, a ladder makes a bookcase, and a box a table! Use empty cans, cartons, and jugs for food holders. If you want rooms use chalk to draw them! Now for my time-saver Tuesday tip! If you home school before you start a new spelling list have a test to see what words to practice! POSTED BY GROOVYGIRL "

Red Cargo Rice - Thailand

I purchased a 5 lb bag of Red Cargo Rice. It comes from Thailand - I bought it some time ago so I don't recall the price.

From what I could tell it was about as healthy as brown rice, so I thought it would be a colorful addition to brown rice.

It is a pretty color. Problem is it stains. I cooked some in the microwave in a white Pyrex Casserole dish and it stained the dish! Even when I was rinsing the rice I could see the water turning a bit reddish.

The red rice tastes similar to brown - but it has a bitter edge to it. Probably mixed with other things you would not notice the bitterness so much. Though I did make some rice pudding with it - and it did have that bitter flavor.

Like I do with brown rice, I soaked the red rice for about 6 hours. This cut down on the slow cooking time.

Today I made some chicken enchiladas and added some cooked red rice to it - a good combination.

When looking at rice at the world food store - I was tempted to buy one of those huge bags of rice that are packed in cool zippered cloth bags... But I don't think we'd eat that much rice in a year...

Healthier Cornbread - Cornbread With Whole-Wheat

We are big cornbread eaters in our family. We prefer it sweet and plain (ie no corn kernels added). I prefer mine with a little butter and some honey or syrup - yum!

Today I went a searching for a cornbread recipe that didn't have 200+ calories in each little square. Not wanting something necessarily fat-free, but rather less calories. I came across a recipe that seemed to fit the bill, made a few changes and came up with this:


1 c white flour
1/4 c whole-wheat flour
3/4 c cornmeal
3 T sugar (can use more if you want it sweet - this had only a touch of sweetness)
2 t baking powder
1 c nonfat plain yogurt
2 eggs (beaten)
approx 1/2 c milk (I say approx b/c I did not measure the amount - the recipe I had as a guideline didn't have any milk added but mine was too dry so I poured in some milk)

Pour into an 8 inch square pan (spray w/cooking spray first) - bake at 400 degrees for about 20 min. Now the time might vary depending on the type of pan you use. Usually I bake my cornbread in a flat, glass casserole dish - but today I used a deep, square, ceramic-type dish and it probably took about 30 min to bake. So I would check the cornbread after 20 min.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Idli with Urad Dal

We all like rice. I love white rice! So these Idli - "Soft and Moist Rice Cakes Steam Cooked Using Rice & Urad Dal" sounded like a good idea.

We tried something from this same food manufacturer before here...

The cakes were pretty easy to prepare. You take them out frozen, poke a couple of holes in the bag, pop them in the microwave for 3 min and then let them sit for another 3 minutes.

I thought these would be more rice like and less cake like. When I say cake I don't mean sweet cake - I wasn't expecting that. The texture and appearance was very much like a white cornbread. Dd and I both thought it didn't have much flavor. I wasn't crazy about the flavor - maybe it was the fenugreek flavor I didn't care for. I don't think I've ever tasted fenugreek before so I'm not sure if that was the unpleasant taste or not. No doubt these would taste better with some sauce or vegetables and seasonings.

The cakes' ingredients are: water, rice, urad dal (split matpe beans, salt, corn oil, feugreek seeds, baking soda). Sounds pretty easy to make.

But - the kids did like it. They kept taking more bites. They both ate about one each. They liked it even better after adding a bit of soy sauce (or soya sauce to you Canadians).

There are 6 cakes in the package and it cost $1.99.

Saturday, March 8, 2008


I've been having fits lately - of the coughing variety that is. And to my family, no it's not the habitual familial cough that I tend to have - this is from the tail end of a head cold.

And for some reason they conveniently begin to affect me about 5 min after I lie down in bed. Five minutes after I've laid down in bed, gotten warmed, and am waiting for that happy, fuzzy almost asleep feeling to set in - and then it begins. It's the involuntary kind of coughing fit - where you can try to repress it, but then it just pushes it's way furiously up your lungs and bursts out. I lay in bed as long as I can stand it (or as long as my dh can stand it) and then get up to get a drink of water or a cough drop.

I got smart the second night and left some water and a cough drop by the bed. Well, last night I thought I won't need it - so I only had some "old" water next to the bed and a tiny, mostly eating cough drop. I usually cannot finish an entire cough drop due to the nasty flavor - so kind of like a kid putting their chewing gum on the bed post for the next day, I wrap up the cough drop in it's little paper and leave it for the next time.

I shuddered when I realized I was gonna have to take a sip of water that had been sitting out for about 24 hours. I even hate the look of it - with all those little bubbles in it. Sure I could get a refill but that would require getting out of bed and climbing a flight of stairs to the kitchen. I took a sip of that tepid, sweetish water and popped in the mostly eaten cough drop. Then I fell asleep.

Woke up an hour or so later with another coughing fit - again I tried laying there hoping it would all go away and that I would not need to get up and hunt for another cough drop. But alas, I got up and got another one. Then I had to worry that I'd fall asleep with the cough drop in my mouth.

Now I'm leading somewhere with all of this - to the question of whether or not you have a "thing" about getting water from a faucet in your home that is not the kitchen (ie. bathroom or laundry room) and whether or not you have a problem drinking water out of a mug.

See if I wanted to refresh my water last night I would have had to bypass the two closest water sources b/c ever since I was a child, I have not been able to drink water out of a bathroom or laundry room faucet. I really can tell that there is a taste difference and just the way the water comes out of the faucet looks different (to me). It has nothing to do with drinking filtered vs unfiltered water (b/c they are all unfiltered).

And the idea of drinking water out of a mug gives me the shivers. I can drink milk out of a glass or a mug. I can drink tea out of a mug or a tea cup. But water or juice or soda - must be in a glass!

Am I the only one who thinks this way??

Friday, March 7, 2008

Brown Rice Pudding

Today I went searching for a recipe for brown rice pudding. I have delicious memories of the white rice pudding my mom used to make - it was wonderful!

Throughout the years I've tried various rice pudding recipes and today made some with white rice. I've gotten smarter with brown rice and recently came across a tip about soaking brown rice overnight to cut down on the amount of time it takes to cook. I forgot to do it the night before but it worked by soaking the rice beginning in the morning. After soaking it all day, I can cook the brown rice in the microwave in about 1/2 hr (not sure if that amount of time is good or bad - I know it's better than what it used to be before I soaked it - but the microwave is "vintage"...I keep hoping it will die so we can replace it with something smaller - but this one seems like it was built to withstand a nuclear holocaust, so it'll be with us for some time yet).

This rice pudding was great! I kind of combined a couple of recipes and actually found I used too much cinnamon - but it didn't stop me from eating a lot of it. It only contains 1/4 c of sugar (I would have liked it sweeter but sweeter means less healthy). The kids liked it some - but they didn't like the raisins in it. It reminded the boy of cinnamon raisin porridge/oatmeal which he suddenly doesn't like and I think it may have been a result of his sister reminding him of the following story:

One day I decided to make some chocolate covered caramel popcorn. Nothing sounds much better than that does it? Seems like it was around some gift giving holiday b/c I was going to make it for someone. I bought a couple of boxes of caramel popcorn and some chocolate chips or chocolate bars to melt. But before I got down to the difficult task of making said treat - I needed to fortify myself with some of the extra caramel popcorn...while laying on the couch...eating it straight out of the box...and probably reading a book at the same time.

After awhile I decided it was time to stop eating all the caramel popcorn and poured it into a bowl and got ready to add some melted chocolate. And then I saw it. Well actually saw them. A bunch of creepy crawly critters had been inside my boxed, sealed foil lined package of caramel popcorn. Some might say it served me right for eating it straight out of the box and while on the couch no less. Needless to say I did not eat anymore. I packed up those things I purchased earlier at the store (kind of a close-out discount store which I won't name - but it wasn't anything like expired goods or such)...and returned them all. It just gave me such a creepy feeling to thin of having (possibly) eaten creepy crawlies. Wouldn't bug me too much to eat a dead/cooked insect (preferably chocolate covered grasshoppers - remember that from Blubber?) - but not something that was alive and covered only in the melted chocolate I was pouring on it.

Anywhooo - now ds won't eat raisins in his oatmeal...and since the pudding reminded him of the oatmeal that must have reminded him of the caramel popcorn bugs (he might not have even been born when it happened!) - he wasn't crazy about that aspect either.

OK now that I've squashed your appetite I'll give you the recipe. It's all approximations b/c like I said I combined two recipes and I didn't measure all that well.

1 c uncooked brown rice (soaked about 12 hrs)
2 c water (add to brown rice and cook in microwave for 20 min - then see if you need to do it longer - or you can do it on the stove)

In a greased oven safe covered baking dish add the following:

1 1/2 c milk
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c raisins (optional)
1/2 t vanilla
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1/4 t ground cloves
2 small Jonathan apples (peeled and grated)

Bake covered, for 30 min at 325 degrees (I did mine at 350 for about 35 min) - then remove lid and bake for 5 more minutes.

This tastes great either warm w/a bit of ice-cream, or plain or cold the next day.

I'm not really sure if the grated apples added much to the pudding - other than some healthy nutrients. I couldn't taste the apple part...I think when I make it again, I'll use more apple...maybe even some larger chunks of apple.

Is It Really A Bargain? - Frugal Friday Tip

Is it really a bargain?

The sign says "50% OFF" in big bold letters. The regular price was $100 and now it's only $50 - get it while you can! But wait, $50 is not a wonderfully good price for a new've seen them before regularly priced for $45. So it's better not to consider the original price on an item (especially in discount or close-out type stores - I find the original prices to sometimes be unnaturally high) - but rather the current price of the item.

When someone has told me "wow look at these great shoes - they were regularly $60 and I got them for only $30." Well if the shoes are exactly what you want/need and you are gonna get a lot of use out of them and you have the money for them and they are of good quality - then they are probably worth what you paid for them. But if you primarily bought them b/c you thought you were getting a great deal, but they are still over-priced or you had to slip out a bit of money from your grocery budget - then maybe the deal isn't so much a good deal.

One day I was looking to buy some dill pickles. The sign in front said 10 for $10 - save $25 by buying ten. The savings of $25 would have assumed I was buying 10 at the regular price - well since I would not have bought 10 at the regular price - is it really such a great deal? Think about it first. Yes, they were a good deal at $1 a jar - but when you see the "save $25 by buying 10" it might make an unsuspecting shopper think "I'd better buy 10 b/c I'll save so much money." You'd save even more than $25 by buying none. I did buy about 4 jars b/c we go through a lot of dills but I also had to consider whether or not I had a place to store the excess. We have a small house and not a whole lot of room for storing things. It might be a financial bargain on those 4 giant packages of toilet paper, but if the kids each have one package under their pillow due to a lack of storage space, then it's probably not the best deal.

Not too long ago I purchased one of those "bed in a bag" sets. I wanted everything to match and I hunted around for a long time and finally found something I could live with. The regular price of however much, made me assume (wrongly) that I was getting a great quality item for a great sale price.

I really ought to have returned the whole thing when I washed the fitted sheet and it came out torn around the elastic. But I didn't. Bad mistake. The rest of the pieces have held up - but the quality of the sheets/pillowcases are so thin and cheap that I finally took them off the bed b/c they were driving me crazy! Each time I'd turn over in bed and pull the sheet up I was afraid I was gonna tear a part of it off.

Cheap isn't always better and sales are not always sales and bargains aren't always the best deal.

Visit Crystal for some more Frugal Friday tips.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Rocks In My Dryer Spur-Of-The-Minute Dish Carnival!

Rocks In My Dryer is having a Spur-Of-The-Minute Dish Carnival! To see more dishes head on over there.

My every day dishes are pretty plain Jane...they are white and mismatched (though various shades of white).

My "nice" set of dishes are my scarlett Fiesta Ware dishes that I love. I don't just save them for good occasions... my meal menu and my level of laziness (do I want to have to hand wash some dishes? Do I want to carry everything into the dining room?) - determines whether or not I use my red dishes.

My dear Mother-in-Law (MIL) started me on my Fiesta collection quite a few years ago and continues to add to it (as do I). I love the cheery red color...and they fit in great for Christmas and Valentine's Day.

For those Fiesta experts out there - yes, the covered casserole squarish dish is NOT Fiesta but the color is almost exact and it looks great together. When I bought it my dd was surprised and said I thought you were only collecting the "name brand" dishes. Well I liked the covered dish and the price was right so I bought it.

Some of the dishes I have purchased on eBay but that's a bit tricky. I'm always worried something will break and one item (packaged shoddily) did break...I could hear it while I was going through the box. I had insurance, but it was still a pain, and I was out shipping on the broken item. I've also purchased some pieces on Amazon and they've arrived packaged very well.

Parsnips - the "Other" Carrot

Parsnips sound like a mean veggie. The grouchy old aunt of vegetables. Maybe b/c it reminds me of words like persnickety (fussy about small details - having the characteristics of a snob), or parsimonious (frugal to the point of stinginess), and snippy (short tempered, snappish). Makes you kind of think parsnips would taste hard and bitter.

As mean as it sounded, we bought some. I do think I have tasted it cooked before (maybe mixed in with some potatoes??) - but my earliest association with it might have been when I was just a young girl. I think of parsnips and I think of Rosie.

Rosie was a little girl that lived in the house behind me. She had super long, beautiful, brown hair that was always done up in two very tight braids. Her hair was so long and heavy that she claimed it gave her headaches... or maybe it was the braids being too tight that gave her the headaches... One day her dad chopped off her hair. It didn't look beautiful anymore. Her dad also pierced her ears for her with a needle and thread when she was young (and she had loops of thread or string hanging from her ears until they healed). Her parents were from Germany and they seemed old and grouchy.

I can almost picture the two of us out in her backyard digging up parsnips from the garden and eating them (I'm sure we rinsed off the dirt or at least wiped off the dirt first) . This was very likely how it happened b/c she also introduced me to the delightful snack of eating a raw potato with salt sprinkled on it (gag). Since the neighborhood rhubarb patch that us kids sometimes "borrowed" rhubarb from, was just across Rosie's driveway, she is probably the one I also shared stalks of rhubarb with (w/some sugar of course).

I couldn't remember though what those parsnips tasted like, and since the kids had never tasted them before - it was basically something new for us all.

I found it odd that there was such a heavy coating of wax on the outside of the parsnips - but that all got peeled off. I placed the cut up 'snips in some water and boiled them like I'd boil potatoes.

The taste was interesting. Sweet, a bit nutty, and also another flavor that is hard to describe - it kind of has a "bite" to it, some type of spiciness...reminds me of a radish or turnip maybe. I think I'd like them better mixed in a stew or mixed in with potatoes, so the flavor would not be so strong.

Ds kind of dreaded tasting it being that when cooked it looked like potatoes, his least favorite veggie. But he tasted it and thought it was sweet and maybe even a bit better than potatoes.

Dd, who LOVES carrots - wasn't all that impressed with this white carrot interloper. She actually would have liked it better raw I'm sure since she loves raw turnips.

You got to feel a bit sorry for parsnips - they've been around for many moons and were the veggie of choice before people realized you could eat potatoes. In "olden times" b/c the parsnips are so sweet - they would even be eaten more as a dessert cooked up with some honey. I guess you could use them instead of carrots in a carrot cake.

Do you have any great parsnips recipes??

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Jackfruit - Thailand

There wasn't too much enthusiasm from the three of us, on trying this fresh frozen Jackfruit.

Jackfruit is grown in parts of Asia, Australia, and Africa, and is the national fruit of Indonesia. Jackfruit is the largest tree-borne fruit - it can grow up to 79 lb. Here is a picture a whole one. Sure wouldn't want to be under the tree when the fruit starts falling.

"The jackfruit is something of an acquired taste, but it is very popular in many parts of the world. An unopened ripe fruit can have a unpleasant smell, like rotting onions. The light brown to black seeds with white innards are indeed about the size of dates. People often oil their hands with coconut oil, kerosene, or paraffin before preparing jackfruit, as the rest of the fruit is a loose white mass that bleeds a milky, sticky sap often used as glue."

I thought the taste was sweet with the texture of a canned peach, but more chewy.

Dd - "Too hard and chewy - tastes sweet." She didn't like it and didn't want more than a small bite.

Ds - "Too pea-y" - he spit it out.

WFMW Backwards Edition - Book Recommendations for Young Boys

My Works for Me Wednesday - Backwards Edition question is what are some good books for young boys. My son is almost 6.

We just finished all our Dan Frontier books (about frontiersman, Indians, soldiers etc) - that is the kind of stuff my son loves.

So I'm looking for another very boyish series of books that he will want to keep reading. They need to be simple enough for him to read on his own - but more than just a couple of sentences on each page.

Any ideas??

For more WFMW - Backwards Edition questions, visit Rocks in My Dryer.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Northern Canadian Blood Triumphs Over Snow Filled Drive-way

This was one of those days when my hearty Northern Canadian blood, and vigorous weight lifting regime (slight exaggeration) came in handy.

It snowed. And snowed. And snowed. The kids were happy. Dh was at work. I was at home. The driveway was filled with about 10 inches of snow. What to do - what to do??

Since I had not performed any cardio activity today, I decided to go out and shovel the driveway. It was the light fluffy kind of snow on top - but kind of melty and slushy at the bottom. I could push the shovel some of the time - but still had to heave the snow over my shoulder when I'd come to the end of the row.

I included this photo so you could see the big pile of snow on the side to get an idea of how deep the snow was.

I didn't think I could do the whole driveway. A few times I thought about quitting. My wrist hurt the most. But since the city had not even plowed our street, I thought my dh would have a hard time even parking on the street if he couldn't get up the driveway - so I persevered.

It took me 1 - 1.5 hrs to do the whole driveway (no breaks). I was pretty proud of my work. Of course I had only been in the house for about 1/2 hr when the plow finally came down our street and pushed a huge pile of snow in front of the driveway - blocking access. I hummed and hawed wondering if my dh would be able to get up the driveway still - hoped he would be able to. I finally decided I ought to just go out and fix that little bit and it only took about 10 min.

Dh is somewhere on his way home - a drive that usually takes about 20 min at the most - has so far taken 1.5 hrs...

I know this doesn't sound like much snow to my Canadian kin - but it's a huge deal here.

I know this much - I could never move back up North... if the cold didn't kill me, the shoveling would!