Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thank You for the Delicious Dinner, Mommy

How many parents wish their kids would say anything like the title of this post? Can you imagine your kids saying it unprompted? Make the soup we had tonight and your kids just might.

Last week our CSA gave us a butternut squash. All I could think was soup soup soup. Butternut squash soup... hmm... I had butternut squash soup at an Italian restaurant years ago and fell in love with it. Thanks to Stephanie O'Dea at A Year of Slow Cooking, I made butternut squash soup at home. In case you don't want to click to the other blog, here's the recipe straight from the source.

Crock-Pot Butternut Squash Soup Recipe
1 butternut squash
2 T olive oil
2 small medium onions, or 2 T onion flakes
4 cups broth, chicken or vegetable
2 small apples, peeled and cubed
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Use at least a 5 quart crockpot for this soup.

Cut the squash in half long ways. This is terribly hard to do. If you microwave the entire squash for 2 to 5 minutes on high, the skin will soften, but you will still need to use a pretty powerful knife. If you can find already peeled and cubed butternut squash use that. (JEN NOTE: 5 minutes in the nuker made this job REALLY easy with my very large chef knife.)

I couldn't believe how difficult it was for me to cut the squash. My knife got stuck. (JEN NOTE: REALLY - Just stick the squash in your microwave. You'll be glad)

Scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp. Brush olive oil on the inside of the squash and roast it in the oven at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until you can peel the skin away from the flesh. (JEN NOTE: My regular peeler worked fine for this!)

Plug in your crockpot and turn to high. Add the broth, and the onion and apple. Stir in the spices. Cover to let heat.

When the squash has finished roasting, add it to the pot. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or on high for about 4.

Blend in small batches with a stand blender, or carefully blend with an immersible wand. (JEN NOTE: Make sure you have a pot into which you can transfer blended soup!)


The reviews of this soup were unanimous. Aaron loved it. Caleb asked for seconds. Ellie finished what I gave her minus one small spoonful because she was distracted by garlic bread (what can I say? she is my daughter.) My kitchen smelled like warm apple cider and "autumn" for most of the day. I actually have leftovers (*whew*) and am totally willing to butcher another butternut squash to make more of this fantastic soup. If you think you don't like squash, you need to try this soup.

Monday, September 28, 2009

CSA Pickup and Menu

This week's CSA box included:

6 ears of corn
4 bell peppers
2 winter squash
a few bunches of broccoli
4 eggplants - 2 aubergine, 1 speckled, 1 round
2 bunches of kale - 1 dinosaur, 1 purple stem
1 bunch of arugula
handful of basil sprigs
2 small heads of lettuce - 1 red leaf, 1 green (probably Boston)
5 hot peppers
12 apples
6 peaches
6 pears

We split that with our neighbors but gave them the squash this week and kept the hot peppers and broccoli. Aaron almost immediately requested the cheesy eggplant casserole I made about 2 weeks ago. It makes great leftovers; the kids devour it. It feels good as the weather gets cooler. Here is a list of foods I'm hoping to make this week, based on the CSA box and food we have from the farmers' market this weekend.

Cheesy eggplant casserole
Butternut squash soup in slow-cooker
Peach cobbler (or at least filling so I can bake later)
Maybe some enchiladas
Chili (Aaron's meal to make on Saturday)

I still need to think about the rest of the box contents, but it looks like another yummy week. In sadder news, our CSA informed us that next week may be the last week of the season. Fortunately our local farmers' market continues for a few more weeks, so we'll stock up more there after the CSA ends for the season.

Break Fast and Fall Cooking

It feels odd to write about food at the end of Yom Kippur, but we celebrated the end of Yom Kippur with much cooking, baking, and preparing food for our new chest freezer. We also made pizza for the first time for dinner to end our fast (how did we wait this long?).

First the pizza! During naptime today, Aaron and I realized we had no desire to cook in our usual way because we were tired from our day without food. Dinner usually takes an hour to prepare unless we're doing leftovers, and we just didn't feel up for it. Aaron suggested using
the extra dough from bread I made on Saturday and leftover diced tomatoes as the base. When we picked up our CSA box today, we received a bunch of basil to add to the pizza. We added minced garlic, oregano, and our regularly stocked shredded cheese. There aren't any measurements - we just made the pizza look like we thought a pizza should look like before popping it in the 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes. We'll let it bake a bit longer next time, but it was fantastic. Food after Yom Kippur always tastes particularly good, but even Caleb who ate all day requested the pizza in his lunch tomorrow. Too bad there were no leftovers!

After the kids' bedtimes, Aaron and I got busy cooking, baking, and preparing food for our new chest freezer. Tonight I mashed up approximately a triple batch of applesauce for about 14 cups of the delightful comfort food. While that was bubbling and cooling, I also made two more loaves of zucchini bread because I discovered a zucchini in our vegetable drawer that was screaming "Bake me!!" And how did I discover the zucchini but by realizing that I needed to pack Caleb's lunch tonight in order to avoid total chaos tomorrow morning. While I bounced between apples, zucchini, and Caleb's lunch, Aaron processed the corn we have both from the farmers' market and the CSA. He steamed it, packed it in freezer bags, and reorganized the chest freezer when he took it to the basement.

I shared "my" applesauce recipe in an earlier post. Caleb's lunch includes a turkey and cheese wrap, leftover grilled green beans, chopped cucumber, and diced white nectarine. I use my mother-in-law's recipe for zucchini bread. I've made variations on this, depending on whether I want to include nuts or use chocolate chips instead of raisins. Here is the original recipe:

Zucchini Bread

3 cups flour (I use white whole wheat, but other flours should work fine)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon (I also add about 1 tsp. nutmeg)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups walnuts (OPTIONAL)
1 cup raisins (sometimes I sub 1 cup chocolate chips)
2 cups zucchini, grated (this *might* be 2 medium zucchini)
3 eggs
1 cup oil

  1. Blend flour, sugar, cinnamon (and nutmeg), salt, baking powder and baking soda in large mixing bowl.
  2. Chop nuts coarsely. Combine nuts and raisins in small bowl and set aside.
  3. Discard tips of zucchini. Grate whole zucchini in food processor. Measure 2 cups of zucchini and add to the flour mixture.
  4. Blend oil and eggs (I do this in a measuring cup). Add to the flour mixture. Stir until moistened.
  5. Add raisins and nuts. Pour into 2 greased loaf pans. If you added nuts, you may want to sprinkle nuts on top.
  6. Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees or until loaf tests done.
I often skip the nuts so that I can send the bread to school with Caleb. When I substitute chocolate chips for raisins, I use 1 cup of chips for the 1 cup of raisins. I also have used this recipe with summer squash or combined zucchini with summer squash. You can use the same recipe for muffins by changing your pan (duh!) and reducing the bake time to 25 minutes.

Coming up next ... CSA box and this week's menu!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

CSA Pickup

OK, I'm already having trouble with daily blogging. What can I say? I'm a mom of 2, work part-time and am new to trying to blog daily. *sigh*

For our share of the CSA pickup, we received:
Cucumbers (2)
Lemon cucumbers (1)
Green bell peppers (1-2)
Eggplant (1)
Onions (1-2)
Hot peppers (don't know names, but one looks like a banana pepper and Aaron swears it isn't hot?) - 2
Brazilian eggplant (teeny tiny striped things that look like peppers. I have no idea what to do with them) - 3
Kale (yay! more curry!!) - 1 bunch
Arugula - 1 bunch
Apples (6, but we have a TON from our own picking on Rosh HaShanah)
Peaches (3, I think?)
Bartlett Pears (YUM! 2, I think?)
Butternut squash - 1 to be split with neighbor
Sunshine squash - 1 to be split with neighbor
Watermelon - 1 to be split with neighbor

I'm really excited to see squash because it means even more new recipes. I was thrilled to get to try the curried kale again and delighted to add to our apple stash. Have I mentioned that we have boatloads of apples? We picked a whole bushel! Since picking that bushel, I've made 9 quarts of applesauce (8 in our chest freezer and 1 for immediate consumption) and 2 loaves of apple bread without nuts so that I can send it with Caleb for his lunches at preschool. I'm figuring on a few apple crisps or cobblers (same dish really, just different topping) and maybe a few more loaves of bread as well as yet more applesauce. I think I want another 8 quarts of sauce, but I'll have to count apples. :) Crisp takes about 5-6 apples; 1 quart of applesauce takes about 8-9 apples; bread only needs 1 apple per loaf. The great thing about making apple recipes is that my kids will eat them, and I don't have to worry that they might be eating total junk.

I'll post again tomorrow with more updates on eggplant and what I do for nights when I have to be out at dinner time!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Kids Ate Eggplant!

We had 3 different types of eggplant from our CSA box. I did not grow up eating eggplant as far as I recall, so coming up with ideas for it is a bit challenging. I guess I think of it as a "grown-up food," which of course is a huge mistake. The moment you let your kids know that something is not for them, they either A) want it even more or B) won't touch it with a 10-ft. pole. Their reaction usually is based on watching whether or not you really enjoy the food you claim they cannot have. My son already begs for dark chocolate, and my daughter's eyes light up when she sees my nasty highly addictive diet soda (we all have our vices).

Back to eggplant. I immediately thought eggplant parmesan when I picked up the eggplant, but then I got the chicken nuggets bug and ran out of panko (Japanese bread crumbs). I had made mighty fine enchiladas with the eggplant and various squash last week, so I didn't feel like making more quasi-Mexican food quite yet. However, if I didn't do something with these eggplants soon, they would all end up in the compost. In fact, the reason we had 3 eggplants and not 4 is because one already became compost material.

How to make eggplant that my kids and husband would happily eat? I think this is why websites like and exist. I spent a few minutes searching for eggplant recipes, ignoring all of the recipes that required breadcrumbs or looked complicated. At last I found the recipe to go with our Friday night dinner:

Cheesy Eggplant Pesto Stacks

Wow are these good! It was like having a pesto pizza without a wheat-based crust. I wish I could say I used our own pesto, but I didn't feel like thawing out the large amount Aaron made (amount unknown, but knowing Aaron it will be a lot). I wish I could say I even grated my own cheese, but I was feeling extremely lazy and used some store-bought grated cheese. Even with less than ideal ingredients, this dish was delicious and not at all hard to make. We all loved them and complained that I had not doubled the recipe.

My next adventure with eggplant will be a casserole that claims to disguise the eggplant. Personally, I don't think eggplant has so much of a taste as a texture, but I'm all about casseroles.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Chicken Nuggets

Since Caleb started preschool a few weeks ago, he decided that chicken nuggets are his favorite food. Although we have "minimally processed" chicken nuggets in the house, I have been avoiding them for about a month. Don't get me wrong, bite-sized chicken is rather appealing - fun shape, easy for small hands to grasp and manipulate, very dippable. So why on earth do I avoid a "minimally processed" chicken nugget?

What is a chicken nugget anyway?

A chicken nugget is a breaded or battered "piece" of minced pre-cooked chicken, according to my friend Wikipedia. As I read more about chicken nuggets, I found out that McDonald's chicken McNuggets may contain 38 ingredients. Seriously? OK, so I went to the McDonald's website for an ingredient list.

Chicken McNuggets®:
White boneless chicken, water, food starch-modified, salt, seasoning (autolyzed yeast extract, salt, wheat starch, natural flavoring (botanical source), safflower oil, dextrose, citric acid, rosemary), sodium phosphates, seasoning (canola oil, mono- and diglycerides, extractives of rosemary). Battered and breaded with: water, enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), yellow corn flour, food starch-modified, salt, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium lactate), spices, wheat starch, whey, corn starch. Prepared in vegetable oil ((may contain one of the following: Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness), dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent).

How much of that would I recognize sitting on a shelf? Can this stuff sit on a shelf? I really don't know. Should food be this complicated? I thought it was called "fast-food."

Even though the nuggets in my freezer are not from McD's, I just don't feel comfortable with the technology in this so-called food. I decided that I would try my hand at nuggets because there has to be a healthier, less complicated way. I took a recipe for oven baked chicken fingers and cut the chicken breast to look more like a nugget. By the way, I don't bother making either of the sauces the recipe suggests. Someday I'll give the honey mustard a try, but so far my kids like nuggets without any sauce or maybe ketchup (not surprising).

My nuggets have 5 ingredients (not including seasoning for breadcrumbs): chicken, breadcrumbs, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and either oil or egg. The breadcrumbs get some herbs in them to make them "Italian."

Tonight Caleb and I made the nuggets together. I was nervous to cook something involving raw meat and eggs with my 3.5 year old. He helped with nearly every step and did a fantastic job! He rinsed and patted dry the Trader Joe's all natural chicken. He cracked and scrambled the eggs. I removed bits of eggshell. He took the cut up chicken and put it in the eggs and then into the gallon-size freezer bag full of the "Italian" breadcrumbs. We took turns jostling the bag to coat the chicken. He even helped wipe off the counter when all the fun mess was done.

All four of us enjoyed the nuggets - yes, a food that both kids and adults enjoyed. :)
We made enough nuggets to freeze some for later and store some in the refrigerator for more immediate consumption.

Given that the bake time alone was 20 minutes, I realize my nuggets are not fast food, but why should food be fast anyway? What do we really gain from fast food, other than weight and a mental disconnect from how our food is made? Sometimes fast food or convenience food (e.g., ready-to-eat) is OK and even necessary. Not being involved in our food preparation should NOT be the norm.

Preparing your own food can be an immensely satisfying experience. For families, it can be a great way to come together throughout the day, and it can be a wonderful educational experience for kids. Cooking combines math, sensory table fun, history, and much more all into one activity. If you haven't cooked with your kids before, I highly recommend it. Start simple and with something you know they will like. Since it is fall, try making your own applesauce with the whole family. Applesauce is super easy - 3-4 ingredients, about 3 steps once you have the apples. Adults can cut apples; kids can mash the boiled apples; everyone can eat the apples.

From The Better Homes and Gardens checkered cookbook:
3 pounds cooking apples (~8-9 medium), cut and cored (peeling OPTIONAL)
1 cup water
1/3 to 2/3 cup sugar (1/3 is PLENTY for us)
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon (OPTIONAL)

1) In large pot, combine apples, water, sugar, and cinnamon. Bring to boil; reduce heat. Cover; simmer for 8-10 minutes or until apples are tender (mashable). Add water as necessary.
2) Remove from heat. Mash mixture with potato masher OR process in a blender or food processor to desired texture. Serve warm or chilled. Stir before serving. Makes about 4.5 cups of applesauce.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tuesday Food

Yesterday was a preschool day which meant breakfast needed to be quick and I had to pack lunch the night before.  Aaron had to work late, so dinner would end up being leftovers of something.  Not a very inspiring day in the food department, but it's our reality sometimes.

Breakfast for the kids included zucchini chocolate chip bread, oatmeal, and some fresh fruit from the farmers' markets.  I make the bread myself whenever I have some zucchini and/or summer squash around (often this time of year).  The chocolate chips were Aaron's suggestion and a mighty yummy one.  The oatmeal is a store-brand organic - cheap, quick and really tasty.  Fruit always tastes better from the farmers' market or from our CSA share.  

Caleb's lunch included leftover curried chickpeas and kale from last night's dinner, Veggie Rotini Spirals courtesy of Hodgson Mills, and some cut up nectarine.  I fully expected to see none of the pasta or fruit at the end of the day and all of the curry.  I was mostly wrong.  He ate every last bit of curry and fruit and didn't touch the pasta.  Weird, right?  What preschooler doesn't choose pasta over curry?  I'm not complaining!

Dinner was saved by some advanced planning.  A few weeks back, I made chicken enchiladas with summer squash, zucchini, and white eggplant.  I made enough to fill both a 13 x 9 and a 9 x 9 (or do I have 8 x 8's? I never remember).  I froze the 9 x 9 for one of those nights when I didn't feel like cooking.  Well, that was last night.  It took forever to heat up in the oven (should have stuck it in the fridge in the morning to thaw!), but it was yummy and enjoyed by all.

The enchiladas recipe is below.  It sounds complicated if you have never made enchiladas, but seriously it is really easy.  I don't do complicated - remember, my kids are 3.5 years old and 15 months old.  I don't have time for complicated! :)

Chicken Enchiladas w/in-season veggies - variation from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest Cookbook

Ingredients for enchiladas:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups minced onion  (I used 1 rather large onion, chopped)
6 medium cloves garlic, minced (I used pre-minced garlic and guesstimate)
3/4 tsp. salt (I skip salt)
Veggies: I used 1 medium white eggplant, 1 medium summer squash, 1 medium zucchini.  You can use other combinations of veggies as well such as bell peppers with squash or you can add beans.

1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin (I probably used 2 – 2.5 tsp. when all was said and done)
1 Tbsp. dried basil
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
cayenne and black pepper to taste
1 1/3 cups (packed) grated jack cheese (I used at least this much IN the filling and it was a mozzarella and cheddar blend.  I put a bunch more on top)

Ingredients for sauce:
5 medium ripe tomatoes, diced (I use a 28oz can)
1 large red bell pepper, minced/chopped
1 tsp. salt (pretty sure I skipped it)
5 large cloves garlic, minced (see above – Iestimate)
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
Instructions for enchiladas:
1) Heat oil in a large, deep skillet.  Add onion, garlic and salt.  Saute over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until the onion is quite soft.
2) Add chicken and seasonings.  Cook until chicken is done.  Add veggies and seasonings.  Stir and cook over medium heat another 5-8 minutes, or until the veggies are just tender.
3) Remove from heat and stir in the cheese.  Allow to cool for a few minutes before filling the tortillas.
Instructions for sauce:
1) Place all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Lower heat, partially cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes.
2) You can leave it chunky or puree in a food processor or blender.  For extra smooth sauce, pass the puree through a fine strainer or sieve.  I also have used a potato masher like I would do for applesauce.
3) Pour a small amount of sauce into a shallow baking dish (e.g., 13×9 pyrex).
Assemble the enchiladas by placing a few tablespoons of filling on one side of each tortillas and rolling up the tortilla.  Lay each enchilada seam side down in the baking dish.  Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas.  Add cheese on top if desired.  Cover with foil, and bake for about 30 minutes in a 325 oven.  Serve hot.

Monday, September 14, 2009

What about the rest of those CSA veggies?

I realize I didn't answer about the rest of the CSA veggies in my last post.  So here are some ideas I have for the rest of the veggies.

Cucumbers make a great side for my kids, and my husband makes a wonderful cucumber and tomato salad.  I don't like uncooked tomatoes EXCEPT in this salad.  He dices cucumbers, tomatoes, and a red onion.  Sometimes he adds a bit of a bell pepper.  Then he adds olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, pepper and sometimes salt.  I call it Israeli salad, but I don't know whether it has an official name.  Anyway, cukes and tomatoes are pretty easy to get through in our house.

Green peppers are great for salads or in enchiladas.  I may make enchiladas this week to get through some of the eggplant.  I might also think about trying my hand at some kind of eggplant parmesan.  Maybe I could use panko for it!  Panko is Japanese breadcrumbs, and I love them because they seem crunchier to me.

Onions are a staple in our house.  We use them in everything from eggs to enchiladas.

I suspect we have more than 3 ears of corn right now since I don't remember eating much corn last week.  We have a few whole chickens and chicken parts (legs and thighs, I think) from Chestnut Farms in our freezer as well as the "All Natural" chicken from Trader Joe's I like to use for chicken fingers and such.  The corn goes so well with chicken, so I see that in our future.

We still have kale from last week in addition to the dinosaur kale we picked up this week.  Given the success of tonight's dinner, I foresee making a larger batch of the curried chickpeas and kale - maybe enough to freeze.

I'll keep you posted on how things go with the vegetables!

CSA Pickup

Our family joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) this year.   We split a full share at Stillman's Farm with our neighbors across the street.  From the end of June through the end of October, I pick up a large box of vegetables and fruits weekly and divide the bounty with my neighbor.  Earlier in the season, we received loads of dark green leafy vegetables, beets a-plenty, and glorious berries.  As the season has progressed, we continue to receive delicious diverse produce.

Perhaps more importantly, my family has learned so much in just one season.  Aaron and I have learned new recipes; Caleb and Ellie have learned where food really comes from.  I think we all appreciate just how much work really goes into providing nourishment for ourselves and each other.

Monday is our pick up day, so after the kids napped today, we made the trip to the pick up site.  Our share of the box today included:

  • Dinosaur kale
  • beans of some kind
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 2 eggplants
  • 1 green pepper
  • 3 onions
  • 3 corn
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 6 apples
  • 2 pears
  • 1 peaches - neighbor got 2 this time
  • basil
  • lettuce to neighbor because we have plenty
It's a bit overwhelming at first, but we have a bit of a groove with how to get through the food in one week.  The fruit is a no-brainer.  It gets eaten anytime - breakfast, snacks, Caleb's preschool lunch, after dinner when we're trying to avoid junk food.  With 6 apples this time, I could make applesauce, but I think I'm going to wait until we go apple picking in another week or two.  What about all those veggies though?  How do I get my kids to eat them?
Tonight's dinner attempted to use up some of last week's CSA veggies.  Check out this recipe for Curried Chickpeas and Kale.  I honestly didn't know if my kids would touch it.  Both kids like Indian food, but neither kid has taken to cooked kale.  I made a side of mashed potatoes and made a mock-naan with garlic buttered whole wheat pita toasted in the oven.  I knew they would eat one of those sides.  No, potatoes and bread do not a healthy meal make, but I planned ahead and made sure the rest of the day is more balanced.  I offered up scrambled eggs, oatmeal, and zucchini bread at breakfast.  Lunch was leftover tomato soup (thank you Trader Joe's!) and leftover pasta casserole (thank you dear husband Aaron!).  Both kids had Trader Joe's fruit bars as a quick snack after nap before CSA pick up. 
But guess what?
Yes, the kids LOVED it.  We told Caleb it was like "dipping sauce" from the Indian restaurant, and he ate it up, asked for more, and told me that it was delicious and would I please send it to school with him tomorrow?  Ellie showed a preference for mashed potatoes, but she also ate up the curry dish when I mixed it with her potatoes.  The only mistake to the meal tonight was not making a double recipe.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Welcome to Real Food For Kids!

I love food. I love my family. I love making good real food for my family.

One night while settling my daughter down for bed, the idea of writing about my quest to provide real food for my family. Allow me to introduce my family. I am a mostly stay-at-home mom, 33 years old, living in a western suburb of Boston. In addition to the blessing of being a mom, I also have the honor of teaching middle and high school students at a Jewish supplemental school for 6 hours per week. I am married to a wonderful man, Aaron, who I met in my last semester of college. He works as a university instructor and computer consultant. I think he is quite talented -- he can fix and build all sorts of things, is a great cook without using recipes, plays guitar, and he is just a great guy. I'm sure I'll share more about him as this blog progresses. Aaron and I have two children. Caleb is 3.5 years old, passionate, inquisitive, extremely active and rather direct with his opinions (of which he has many). He keeps us right where we belong -- on our toes. Elisheva (Ellie) is 15 months old, playful, curious, becoming more opinionated and increasingly mobile.

My hope for this blog is to share how Aaron and I attempt to feed ourselves and our family reasonably healthy real food. In the past few years, we have learned a lot about food and changed our eating habits as a result of what we've learned. We cook an increasing number of our meals from scratch or at least from minimally processed foods. We try to follow the idea that food is what our grandparents and great-grandparents would recognize as food. We eliminated high fructose corn syrup from our house and reduced how many "ready-to-eat" meals we buy. We also started thinking about how our food is created, produced, and distributed which led to our buying more food locally and food grown sustainably or organically.

As far as our eating habits, Aaron and I have our quirks like most people do. For starters, we choose not to eat mammals. I choose not to eat mammals because I get sick every time I try, though at this point I have a more philosophical reason as well. They make milk; I make milk. That's too close for comfort. Seriously though, I just don't like being sick enough to eat red meat. Aaron feels like it's too close in the food chain, though he originally gave up red meat thinking he would lose weight. Other than not eating mammal, we also wrestle with the idea of kashrut/kosher. We don't have a kosher home, but we don't eat foods which are "overtly treyf" (treyf = not kosher). For example, we don't eat shellfish/crustaceans or pork. And of course, we each have our likes and dislikes (I love chocolate and hate olives; Aaron loves peanut butter and hates sweet potatoes).

Then toss our two young children into the food puzzle. Fortunately our children do not have allergies and they are reasonably open to trying new foods, but they are kids. We never make eating into a battle, other than to establish a one bite/one taste rule. I always ask the kids to try a taste of each thing being offered. I don't enforce this rule with Ellie so much yet, but it works well with Caleb. We try to make food fun and tasty, and we try to make sure there is at least one thing at each meal the kids will eat. Sometimes we succeed; sometimes we don't.

And that's what this blog will be about - our successes and failures with providing our family with real food. I'll include recipes, photos when I have my act together, and lots of stories about making and trying different foods.