Seasonal Spotlight: Kale & Grapefruit

I am trying to make an effort with my meal planning to be more intentional about selecting vegetables and fruits that are in season.

Why? For one, it’s cheaper. Abundance drives the price down. But also, it tastes better! The flavor and texture is superior because it doesn’t have to travel as far to get to the grocery store. It often requires minimal human assistance (think less pesticides/genetic modifications) to increase shelf life. It also helps us vary our diet and anticipate the awesomeness that is the local u-pick strawberry. (That’s not to say there isn’t always South American bananas in my cart- I’m not killing convenience just to achieve perfection.)

Keeping it simple here with a couple of basic ways we incorporate these seasonal selections into our diet.

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Purple Smoothie

A cup or two of kale, a banana, some frozen blueberries, with a splash of milk or dollop of yogurt. I used unsweetened applesauce and some water instead of the milk in the photo and it’s deep purple- color is very important to my kids.

Greens

Heat some olive oil with some minced garlic and red pepper flakes. Add the kale and toss a second or two until shiny. Add a bit of chicken or vegetable stock and cover for a few minutes until the liquid is absorbed. My husband tolerates this, but the kids won’t touch it.

Sugared Grapefruit

Just cut in half or make the effort to segment the grapefruit and sprinkle with sugar. Be sure to squeeze after you segment to get all the juice!

Citrus Marinated Chicken

Add a splash of olive oil and honey to some fresh squeezed grapefruit juice (or lemon or blood orange). Season with salt, garlic powder, and onion powder. Marinate chicken for 30 minutes or so before grilling.

How about you? What’s cooking in your kitchen?

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Cooking Night

We are back to square one on meal planning- eating the same foods and lots of complaining from the peanut gallery.

Cooking nights with the kids were a joy for our family in the past.  It honestly started by taking a cooking class at a children’s museum, followed by the kids watching youtube videos of kids cooking, then we all watched a season of Master Chef Junior together. Their interest really peaked, and while it sounded fun, I certainly didn’t think it could impact the harmony of our house the way it did.

We can’t remember why we stopped making the effort, so we want to make a push in the new year to include incorporating more kids cooking nights. I’m sure it will change as our activities and school responsibilities change, but we can give them one night each week to plan.

They research recipes and add the ingredients to the grocery list, then cook a meal for the rest of the family, all with parent help. The objectives are to develop an appreciation for the effort that goes into meal planning, to develop some confidence in the kitchen, to try a few new foods, and bring a little more harmony to meal times. Life skills!

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We started by making a list of main courses and vegetables, which they marked whether they liked it, were okay with it sometimes, or did not want to eat it at all. It helped to brainstorm and talk about different foods so that their minds were open to cooking new things. Fertile ground makes for a better harvest! Then they made a list of some possible meal plans they could try. Note to self: grab some cookbooks on my next library visit to keep the momentum up.

We are a couple of weeks into it again, so it’s probably too early to boast, but I feel it’s going pretty smooth so far. Dare I even say… I think they are more appreciative when I plan and cook for them. (It’s going so well that my husband wants to creating a sharing program for the dirty dishes, but he’s not getting much buy-in on that initiative so far!)

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And Bonus!, we made breadsticks! Do you intentionally include your children into the rigamarole of meal planning?

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Everyday Reading Book Club: This is Where You Belong

One of my 2019 reading goals was to join a book club. And being the introvert that I am, I joined an online one. Janssen of Everyday Reading fame picked 12 books, and her book reviews and comments from her followers is one of my favorite places to find new and exciting reads for both myself and my girls, so joining was a no-brainer.

However, I wasn’t really excited about Janssen’s January book club pick- This is Where You Belong by Melody Warnick. I wasn’t sure this topic would be interesting to me.

I am a member of the small percentage of people that would consider themselves rooted. I love Knoxville, Tennessee, and while I occasionally catch a little wanderlust, it’s most often stifled because I love being near my family, enjoy being so close to the Great Smoky Mountains, have incredible neighbors, and my kids love their schools.

What could I learn from this book?

Turns out, many things. I especially love the idea of investing more in my local community. I’ve never given it much thought but am interested in trying to consciously spend my money where it can provide the most local benefit.

I’m also involved heavily at my church, including being a member of our pastor search committee. I can use these tips to help this new family fall in love with Knoxville. I have family and friends that are realtors, and I think this would also be a great housewarming gift from a realtor, along with some insider info on local restaurants and shopping. (Much more useful than the set of knives and personalized night lights I received upon my closing.)

Are you also one of small minority of “rooted” people? Or do you act on your wanderlust?

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Best of 2018

While my days might be numbered where I can consume a book in less than 24 hours, disregarding family obligations and sleep- these books fall into that category. So awesome and consuming that finding time to read will not be a problem. I have linked to my initial review where possible, but post September reads were not recorded. I will try to do better in 2019! Have you read any of these?

Rules of Magic Alice Hoffman

A Letter to My Congregation, 2nd Edition Ken Wilson

Educated Tara Westover

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine Gail Honeyman

Far from the Tree Robin Benway

Little Fires Everywhere Celeste Ng

Beloved Toni Morrison

Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again Rachel Held Evans

I identified with her struggle to see the good in some Bible stories, especially Old Testament. And I firmly believe that God is good. I love that the author encourages you to embrace the struggle and use that doubt to engage with God.

The Sun is also a Star Nicola Yoon

I listened to the audio version of this young adult novel and the narrators are superb. I think it was Mother Theresa who advised the importance of the work of serving our neighbors by saying that we are not obligated to finish it, but neither can you abandon it. Listening and sharing immigrant stories is one excellent way to broaden our minds, and open our hearts to serve a borderless world.

The Great Alone Kristin Hannah

Oh man, Alaska is a character you want to meet. Alaska comes alive in Kristin Hannah’s story of a broken family, broken by war and passion, pride and loss.

Honorable Mention: Victuals Ronni Lundy

If you want to learn more about Appalachian cooking, this is the best resource. Home- that’s the best way to describe this book.

Any others you’d suggest?

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Reading Goals

Last year, the reading goal I shared was simply to read more than I did in 2017, and focus on quality over quantity. Truthfully, I wanted to hit 100.

In 2017, I read 72 books. Trying for 100 books was lofty, but in my mind doable.

Turns out, not doable at all. I read 77 in 2018. Increased- check! 100- notsomuch.

Quality over quantity- check. I will share my top 10 this week, and it was hard to narrow it down to 10.

I read diverse authors to increase my knowledge and stretch my mind, read for simple entertainment, and read many award-winning books. Overall, I think that goal was met.

So, 2019 goals?

  • Read more, of course. Hoping to improve the 77 number, maybe get closer to 100!
  • More quality over quantity. Women authors, new authors, new perspectives, old classics are all on the list.
  • Read for Entertainment. Reading what you love is the easiest way to read more. Cookbooks, love stories, happy endings are my jam.
  • Try a book club. I’ve joined Janssen’s Everyday Reading 2019 Year of Reading Book Club. Some of her picks are ones I’ve wanted to read, some are new, so this is exciting!
  • Read for my girls. Our family rule is to ditch the phones and tablets and tv and read before bed, to wind down and sleep better. So I’m always looking for good young adult and middle grade fiction to recommend to my girls. (Currently, my 12 year old is working her way through Wednesday Wars, and my 8 year old is loving the Boxcar Children series.)

What are your 2019 reading goals?

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Knitting Through the Wall

I had big plans friends, big. I love making ornaments for our tree and for gifts. And this year I wanted to make mice, specifically mice in fairisle sweaters. Nevermind that I don’t have much practice with fairisle. And that I knit extremely slow on small dpns.

Well needless to say it was not exactly successful. Sweater design just blended together because the color didn’t vary well enough. It was massive, so didn’t resemble a mouse and would look monstrous on a tree. I tried a smaller scale version, with a variagated yarn and raglan sweater, considered a sheep head instead of a mouse, but it was just not working.

While exasperated and searching through the stash for just the right mouse color, I found two colorful skeins of Noro Kuryeon that whispered sweet nothings to me. Phrases of “quit with the toys” and “so you like big needles, that doesn’t make you less of a person” and my personal fave “if you knit something with me, we can be finished in hours.”

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So I dumped the toys and knit myself a shrug- and it’s warm and colorful and just what I needed to restore my confidence. Ta-da!! What can I say, aran yarn is powerfully seductive!

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Knitting: Finished Hats

Long time, no see, friends! I was sick most of November and December came through like a hurricane. But good news! I finally have some finished projects to share!

I may have been sick in November, but it didn’t impact my knitting too much. I managed to finish a hat for each of the girls.

d1531b49-fe95-46b1-bb14-b5ff0f81e500.jpegAnna specifically asked for a hat with ‘bear ear’ poms, and I have been wanting to knit Elena Nodel’s Rivulet hat for months. It is an easy knit, but lovely and well-designed. I used Shepherd’s Wool in Misty Blue and stash for the poms.

b707373f-750b-4b04-89c1-e3b3e3e1a13e.jpegMy eldest daughter, Sarah, requested something simple and without too much drape, and this soft blue-gray matches her school colors and compliments her beautiful face! I took some quick measurements and made this one up as I went along. The yarn is Cascade 128 Superwash in Dusty Blue, and it feels so soft and silky, yet quite sturdy. I only used one skein for this, but I think I would need two for most other hat designs I have in my library.

I will be back tomorrow to share my December knitting woes. Spoiler- I hit a wall. Does that ever happen to you?

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