A year of pescetarian parenting and related discoveries.

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Wednesday, June 30

Tex-Mex Casserole

     Once in awhile a single mom has to get out of the house, but because she is single she has to have a meal for the kids prepared in advance that they can manage on their own. Enter the casserole. I think a casserole shouldn't be just a one-dish, easy to heat meal, but also that all of your food groups should be present there-in. This is one that I created for my kids. You can, as always, tweak it, to better suit your tastes or needs.

Tameri T's Tex-Mex Casserole

     In a large baking dish layer;
all natural corn tortilla chips (I like to break them a bit),
then one can Mexican rice and beans, (I sometimes use or add a layerof one can of chili)
then one layer homemade guacamole,
then one layer of your favorite salsa (I used chunky tequila lime)
then one layer of plain yogurt (I used 4 oz. of grass fed organic)
then sprinkle top with chopped cilantro and shredded cheese.

Here is what it looks like before it goes in the oven;

And after it has been warmed up in a 300 degree oven for ten minutes.

Monday, June 28

French Fries; A Bad Habit We Can Improve

    "If you keep eating those you are going to turn into a French fry!" It's a fact - kids love French fries. (Sadly, they may have started this habit as teething toddlers.) I remember the actual physical craving I felt for them when I was a teenager. Now I am the mother of two teenagers. I don't buy them fast food very often, but have always felt that it is better not to altogether ban anything. Occasional treats are okay. Yesterday, I pulled through McD's drive thru to get Grace, who was hungry, a large order of fries and a yogurt parfait. It never occurred to me that in so doing I was giving her food which violates her commitment to vegetarianism. Today I learned that their fries are not vegetarian. They have always been cooked with a bit of beef flavoring. How could this not be common knowledge?! I am rather outraged. The following is a quote that seems to be the consensus from the vegetarian community. I did check the McDonald's official web site, but found their nutritional information to be much less than forthcoming. Surprise, surprise.
     "McDonald's fries are not vegetarian. They add beef powder to the fries, in the factory, before it is shipped to the restaurants. They then fry their fries in vegetable oil, once it gets to the locations. A lot of companies secretly add animal products to their foods, by listing the animal products as "enzymes", "mono-and diglycerides" or "natural flavors." McDonald's lists natural flavors, instead of writing beef powder, because they don't want to hurt their image or lose customers that would get freaked out, if they knew that even their potatoes have animal products in them. McDonald's was sued in 2002 for lying to vegetarians and Hindus about their use of beef products in their fries and hash browns. You're better off going to Burger King. They have vegetarian fries that are cooked in separate oil from their meat, and they have a BK Veggie burger value meal. They also have vegan Dutch apple pie slices."
     So I offer up this alternative from our friends at Meatless Monday which we are going to try at home;
Baked Zucchini Fries. They look really yummy, and so does the superfood dip.

Thursday, June 24

A Taste of The Taste

     Last night was a big night out for me, and one of my favorite social engagements of the year. It is called Taste of The Nation, a fundraiser for Save our Strength, an organization that works to end childhood hunger. You may have one of these events each year in your town. If you don't, you should. I will share with you just a very small sample of the vast array of amazing very small samples provided by hundreds of local food and beverage pros from my region. The emphasis is on gourmet goodness using fresh local ingredients.

The early evening sky over Strawbery Banke upon our arrival.

What it looks like under the tent. Each vendor sets up their own exhibit, and most feature two appetizers.

This was a delightful little crab cake operation.

I wish I had this recipe. It was a bruleed Caprese tomato where the balsamic glaze was torched and caramelized. I crazy loved it!

There was a huge assortment of tuna treats available. This was one.

Tomato croquettes with a variety of toppings.

This was one of the stand out winners for me, made by a little breakfast lunch spot that doesn't pretend to be high end. They are mini eggs Benedict Florentine made with fresh local quails eggs. Can't describe how tasty that was...

Shrimp Diablo deviled eggs

Fresh figs aren't quite in focus. Another winner was blue cheese stuffed dates.
Crab and cucumber canapes with yellow watermelon. Very refreshing on a hot night.

An entirely edible salad created, from seed to table, by master gardener John Forti.

Many wonderful wines and micro brews were available. This is one of my all-time favorites.

I was so full, I skipped all of the sweets, but took a few photos for you.


     The crowd was  cuckoo over Clyde's Cupcakes.

BFF Barb who will be my guest blogger if I ever get to go on vacation.

About that time I put my fork and camera away and hit the dance floor...
         Hope I have inspired you to participate.

Monday, June 21

Sunday Shrimp on the Barbie and Rhubarb Bread

      We weren't really celebrating Father's Day here yesterday, it was just me and two kids, but I did prepare a slightly special dinner on the deck. I marinated a good pound of jumbo shrimp in a marinade I whisked up on the fly. A mixture of lime, lemon, and orange juice with some garlic, olive oil, and low sodium soy sauce, and lot of parsley and cilantro. I left that chilling in the fridge along with a baby red potato salad blended with a dressing of half mayo and half Greek yogurt and lots of my fresh chives, and I left the half husked corn on the cob to soak in cold water, while I worked out in the yard all afternoon. After lighting the grill (you may have read in a previous post that I will only cook over charcoal or wood outside) the corn on the cob and shrimp veggie kebabs grilled up quickly and deliciously. It all went down very nicely with an ice cold lemonade. Toasted marshmallows were offered for dessert before the coals died out.

     And here is a recipe I scored from Meatless Monday today that I really want to try because I still have some rhubarb in the garden that I need to harvest and I have never made a bread with rhubarb before. I have a couple of social engagements this weekend and I am going to need something to bring, so I would like to try this. http://www.meatlessmonday.com/rhubarb-nutmeg-bread/?utm_source=Meatless+Monday&utm_campaign=8428d3dd63-Eater%27s_Digest_Monday_06_21_2010&utm_medium=email

Sunday, June 20

Save the animals

Happy Father's Day.

     My daughter asked me to pull over as we were driving through our neighborhood yesterday so that she could take this photo, and I said I would post it on our blog;

          I'd also like to share this link about a great idea called Gumbo for the Gulf;  http://www.environmentwashington.org/action/oceans/gumbo?id4=tafsent    It is a wonderful way we can do something for the gulf coast catastrophe.  Please take a look and share the idea with your foodie friends.

Saturday, June 19

Fattoush, A Vegan Salad

      Crazy week here. Sick people and puppies. Has been very little attention paid to good meals. Except for the night my daughter graduated from the 8th grade. That night I took her and her best friend to her favorite Japanese restaurant for her favorite meal. She is not a very reliable vegetarian. At home I have to pay very careful attention to her diet to make sure it is balanced. But I just love watching her at a Japanese restaurant. She ordered a bowl of miso soup, an order of vegetarian sushi, and iced green tea. Makes me very happy to see her eat that meal. That night I ordered something called the tropic roll; a delicious blend of mango, shrimp, and avacado sushi.

       She was less excited about the Fattoush I made last night. Fattoush is a middle eastern dish, and if you have noticed anything about my style of cooking you will see how Fattoush is right up my alley. It encourages the cook's creativity, and allows you to use what is on hand. In fact the dish was designed as a way to use up Syrian bread that is becoming stale, which was just my motivation. I also have lots of mint and parsley on hand, so this was perfect. Children are not likely to be crazy about Fattoush, but you never know. The more they are involved in the growing/ picking/ preparing process the more likely they are to enjoy it. It is a very tasty and refreshing summer salad. It is a bit more tasty if you toss the chopped Syrian bread with olive oil and garlic salt and toast in the oven first, but this is not necessary. I couldn't resist that step myself, though I would never fry it which is often done in the middle east when this salad is made. Don't fold the pita pieces in more than a half hour before you are ready to serve. Also, use whatever lettuce you like. Purslane is traditional, anything somewhat bitter like Mizuna would work well. I used three very fresh Belgian endive heads. Not traditional, but seemed perfect. Herbs are important with sumac being traditional. I didn't have any on hand. Use this recipe only as a jump start for your own creation.

Fattoush is Arabic: فتوش, also fattush

1 clove garlic, minced
1 T lime juice
1 T lemon juice
3 T red wine vinegar
2 T olive oil
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
1 large ripe tomato, chopped
1.5 cups lettuce, thinly sliced
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
10 mint leaves, chopped
2 or 3 cups toasted pita pieces
salt and pepper

     In salad bowl whisk together first five ingredients to make dressing. Toss with chopped vegetables and herbs, saving bread until almost ready to serve. Serve at room temperature. This is enough for a large gathering as a side dish, or lunch for about four people.

Thursday, June 17

snack food idea

     I think it's important to promote other like-minded blogs in my blog, and this one called Weelicious is written by a mom after my own heart. There are meat based recipes at her site, but lots more very creative ideas designed just for children like this French fry looking yummy that I am dying to try;
     Her site is particularly useful to parents of babies and toddlers. I realize I write primarily about feeding teenagers and thought I should offer some good guidance about the little ones, which really is the time to start healthy eating practices, and the time when most bad habits are developed.
      Give her a look and in the meantime I'll test these out on my brood, and report back to you. I invite you to do the same.


Tuesday, June 15

"weggebobbles and fruit"

     This gave me a chuckle. I was doing some research for my other blog (http://aintiawriter.blogspot.com/) about James Joyce's novel Ulysses (Happy Bloomsday!) when I came across this Huffington Post article on the subject that was more appropriate for my pescetarian blog. Ellen Kanner writes a syndicated column called the Edgy Veggie. So here it is, just for you. If you see it through to the end there are a couple of interesting recipes given, though you should have a nice Guinness to go with them... http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ellen-kanner/bloomsday-celebrate-james_b_604291.html

Monday, June 14

Orange Blueberry Banana Pancakes

      I have posted about pancakes before. I'm not a big pancake fan myself, but it is one of my fussy daughter's favorites, so I do whip up a batch every now and again. And yesterday morning when I woke to a house full of guests, it seemed the only thing to whip up in a jiffy. I do prefer to add nutritious mix-ins to the batter, which my daughter frowns upon. For example, I would love to serve this super food version shared by Meatless Mondays today; Orange Blueberry Banana Pancakes
     I hadn't thought that a meal of pancakes and fruit was a bad thing, but have been feeling just a bit guilty about that since I read this post at another mom's blog; http://trueslant.com/dreenaburton/2010/03/03/do-you-know-whats-in-your-pancake-syrup/.
      I do completely concur about allowing children to eat fake syrup. That stuff is nasty, and usually what you will be given in a pancake house. Seems ironic, but is all about $. As with the use of good butter, I think the best solution is to buy the best locally made products you can find, and teach your children what they are, how they are produced, how much they cost, and how necessary it is for the health of their bodies and the planet, to use them very sparingly and respectfully. My children have participated in churning butter and making maple syrup from first tapping of the tree to last bite.
      Any New Englander eating fake syrup "should be 'shamed".

Monday, June 7

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

     I wish I had found this recipe last week when I needed to make 3 dozen cupcakes for my daughter's 8th grade dance, but I just discovered it today when it was published by Meatless Mondays. I really like the use of applesauce to make these treats healthier. Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

Friday, June 4

Pie as Promised

     As promised, I will now post about the pie I created a few days ago; Strawberry-Blue-barb with walnut streusel topping. A couple of factors were at work in the creation. As always I was trying to take advantage (again for both health and ecology) of fresh local produce. I grew the rhubarb and picked the blueberries myself.
That said, I'm not a big dessert eater, and am always trying to super-food up every dish I make. How can I tweak a traditional recipe to make it better for my body and the earth?
     With old fashioned desserts I start by reducing the white sugar that the recipe calls for. It's simple to do and often can be as much as halved. I find this actually improves the taste most of the time. Even though the strawberry jam I use is sweetened only with fruit juice it still does the trick quite nicely, especially when combined with the streusel topping.  Then I eliminated the top crust usually called for, reducing the fattening pastry by 50%. The addition of the streusel topping with both oats and chopped walnuts boosts the nutrition factor a bit. To stick with the super-food concept I would serve this with vanilla frozen yogurt if going a la mode. Anyway you slice it, this version got a lot of thumbs up.

Strawberry Blue-barb Pie with Walnut Streusel Topping

1 1/2 cups fresh rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, drained
small jar of all natural strawberry jam
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pastry for double-crust pie (9 inches)
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup oats
1/4 brown sugar
1/4 chopped walnuts


1.In a large bowl, combine rhubarb, blueberries and jam. Combine sugar, flour and salt. Sprinkle over the fruit; toss lightly. Line a pie plate with pastry; add filling.
2. Cut butter into last three ingredients to make a streusel and sprinkle on top of pie.
3. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350; bake 35 minutes longer or until golden brown. Let stand awhile before slicing.

Wednesday, June 2

Grilled Striper and Corn on the Cob

     Came across this site, located in Germany, on another blog. This group seeks to offset the carbon dioxide emissions of my blog by planting a tree just for me. I'm all for that. Check them out;
carbon neutral offers and shopping with kaufDA.de 

     Had a guest griller in last night to cook freshly caught striper for us. It was a decent meal, all of the dishes cooked over charcoal in my back yard. Both the fish and the corn on the cob were steamed, the fish in foil with an Italian marinade and some fresh herbs. The corn right in the husk (actually half schucked first) after soaking in cold water for several hours. It is my favorite way to prepare corn on the cob. learned in my childhood growing up in a corn growing town. The potatoes were tossed in herbs as well, with turmeric (I add that to most of my dishes for it's health benefits) and olive oil and also grilled in foil. Fresh mushrooms were pan sauteed in butter and herbs. Last a garlic focaccia was heated on the hot grill too. We had this meal with a locally brewed oatmeal stout. The result as I think the pictures show was a little bit too monotonous. It needed something green. The fruit pie I made for dessert was quite colorful though,and will be the subject of my next post. Here are a couple of before and after photos for you;