I am a big fan of being earth friendly and all that jazz, but what I am not a fan of is all this anti- immunization crap. Cultural fear, coolness and peer pressure have made a whole slew of parents that refuse to give their babies the immunizations that have saved millions and millions of children from horrible diseases.

Now that we are so progressive that we refuse to give our children the vaccines to fight disease, now that we are so advance that we know SO much more than our parents did, now that we are so evolved that we are single handedly “saving” our children from autism (thank you Jenny McCarthy), now that we are just *SO* smart, what do we have on our hands???

A Whooping Cough Outbreak.

Are you surprised? I am not. As we have become so proud and smug about our intelligence and have started to listen to celebrities without a single ounce of medical evidence for their believes we have brought back a horrible disease that can kill your child.


Tomato Sauce

September 24, 2010

Normally at this time of the year I am finishing up on our family’s canning and food production but this year that is not the case. We have had a cool summer with only eight weeks of heat, therefore it is mid September and my tomatoes are just now ripening.

The bad thing of a cool summer is that my tomatoes have grown to the size of eggplants! I have Roma’s the size of softballs and an amazing amount of green tomatoes for this late in the year. Luckily, the weather forecast says we should be having some warm days coming in next week ~ come on tomatoes!!!

I did manage to scrape together enough tomatoes to get in a batch of sauce. I like to make my sauce very simple: onions, garlic, olive oil, herbs and wine. Nothing extra, nothing artificial, just plain tomatoey goodness with proper spices. After blanching my tomatoes to loosen the skins I like to run them through a tomato puree machine.

After running them through the machine I heat up some olive oil ( save your extra virgin, cold pressed stuff for a proper vinaigrette, a basic olive oil will do just fine here) and sauté a whole diced yellow onion, three cloves of garlic and a big bunch of thyme, basil and oregano. I like to grow my herbs in pots outside on my patio and they definitely come in handy during tomato canning season. All the herbs used in my sauce come from these pots.

After all the aromatics are soft and fragrant, I add a third of a bottle of red wine. The wine give the sauce a deep, heady flavor that I think is needed in tomato sauce but luckily you cannot detect it. Now the kind of red wine you use really depends on your taste: use a Cabernet if you like the heaviness, a Zinfandel if you enjoy the tangy, but I would stay away from a Pinot Noir just because they really are too light for the tomatoes and its flavor would get lost with all the other ingredients. After the wine I add the tomato puree and let the whole thing come to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for about two hours or until it has reduce by about a third and is as thick as you would like it.

My family uses this sauce for pastas, lasagna, and soups all winter long. This batch made my three quarts of canned sauce, which should be a good start for our winter canning.

Hope you enjoy!!

Long Beach, WA

September 21, 2010

What a lovely time we had at the beach!

Despite the rainy days, we had a chance to walk on the beach, eat some fabulous seafood and even take a few walks on the beach and to a small secluded Cape. Ever heard of Cape Disappointment?? That’s where we were!


September 18, 2010

For my inlaw’s anniversary, the whole family will be going to the beach. Some serious play time with the kiddo, walks on the cold Oregon beach and yummy, yummy seafood!

If you’ve never been there, I highly recommend The Breakers in Long Beach, Washington. It is an old motel refurbished to be family sized condos with full built in kitchens where you can fix your family meals. If you have ever gone on vacation with kids or pets then you understand the issues that arise from eating out all day long. This is the place to go.

On the menu this weekend: Spicy clams with white wine sauce and corn, Manhatten clam chowder, chips and my husband’s fabulous guacamole, and whatever else our little hearts desire!!!

I will post pictures once we get back, sandy and exhausted!!!

Higher Education

September 17, 2010

After anxiously waiting two months for this book to become available from my library, I finally am reading Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes. If you have never heard of it, it is  a cutting edge story of “reclaiming domesticity from a consumer culture.” Hayes talks about the role of our economy in our lives, men and women’s roles in the workplace and at home and how by reclaiming the home as the center of the family life we can return to our familial values and purposefulness.

There is a part of this book that really caught my attention:  ” The purpose of higher education should be to prepare students to perpetually teach themselves, cultivate their interests, talents and skills, and ultimately use them to serve their communities in a meaningful way.”

I had to reread this comment a few times due to the sheer honest, plain truth of it. Isn’t this what education is all about, to find and fulfill your potential, use your talents at their best to find your place in your community?

The reality is that we, as a culture, have steered so far from this plain and simple idea that many of us graduate from university without a clue as to what we will do. We go to school in the hopes of finding something we want to do and then enter the workforce looking for a purpose.  How many continue on to Graduate school just to keep going, as if it is a race you must finish without a clue as to what they will do afterward.

I know many, many friends and family members that cannot teach themselves. They wonder how you can learn something new on your own, with a book or with a friend. It is this ability to self teach, to be interested in something new and be able to learn without being spoon-fed the information that will make us a viable culture in this ever increasingly consumer world. The more we depend on others to teach us and guide us toward by-the-book learning the more we lose the ability to adapt ourselves to the creative learning process. If we cannot be self sufficient in at least learning then are we not merely sheep?

So, that being said go cultivate your interests! Learn something new!!

Roasted Milk

September 16, 2010

Today was a rather mellow, boring day of getting stuff done: laundry, vacuuming, dishes, dusting, diapers, blah, blah, blah. You know, all the stuff you have to do and rarely enjoy doing. After a morning of chores and playing with the munchkin I decided that we needed to get out and get a treat: Peruvian food at the the wonderful hole in the wall El Inka.

El Inka is this fabulous tiny, and I mean TINY, restaurant in Gresham owned and operated by a lovely Peruvian couple and their son. It is known for their wood fired oven in which they roast Pollo a la Brasa, or roasted Peruvian spiced chicken. If you have never tasted Pollo a la Brasa, I highly recommend it, it is succulent, spicy, juicy and earthy from the wood fire. Yum! This chicken comes with a salad and fries or salad and beans, all for under $8 bucks.

Well, during this trip to El Inka I did not have the Pollo, I ordered the Daily Special of Tallarin Saltado (Sauteed Noodles) that came with a lovely dish is spiced noodles with chicken, tomatoes and onions. It was fantastic.

For dessert I ordered one of my favorite dishes: Leche Asada (Roasted Milk). This is a soft cooked custard of milk, eggs, sugar and citrus poached in a water bath and chilled. It is softly creamy without the headiness of a creme brulee.

Since this is one of my favorites, I took it upon myself to try to make it at home. Here are some photos and my recipe! I hope you can make it and enjoy it as much as I have.

Roasted Milk

1 liter milk

2 eggs, separated

1/2 cup sugar

zest of 1 lemon or lime

Heat oven to 350. Bring milk to a boil and turn off to cool.

Whisk egg whites to soft peak adding small amounts of sugar as you whisk until the sugar is fully blended in. Set aside.

Blend yolks with some of the scalded milk, slowly incorporating the milk till it is all blended.

Add zest to yolk mixture and slowly but gently using a rubber spatula fold the yolks into the whites.

Take a roasting pan and place a dish towel in the bottom. Place nine ramekins in the pan and carefully fill them to three quarters full with the custard.

Open oven door and place pan on the door. Fill area surrounding the ramekins with boiling water to create a water bath. Bake in the water bath for 30 minutes at 350, remove from oven and let sit in water for another 15 minutes. Remove and chill overnight. Serve cold.

Sick Days

September 10, 2010

I have been away for a few days and I apologize. My little one has been sick with an ear infection and croup, therefore my days have been a frenzy of cuddles, sniffles, coughs and lack of sleep! Of course, as a mommy who is constantly used as a tissue and has been coughed, sneezed and spat on for four days straight, it is no wonder that I, too, am under the weather.

This period of illness and motherhood has led me to learn a whole different lesson of parenting: along with patience and love, sometimes it is important to just sit and love. I am usually a run run run person, someone who has to constantly be doing something and usually has at least three projects going on at once, but this week has taught me the wonders of sitting in my nook and just watching a show with my little guy. It is a wonder to watch the Muppets with him, to see him laugh over the silliness of Kermit or Gonzo even if he can’t quite understand the concept.

We read a ton in this house and I often find myself reading to him at bedtimes and throughout the day, but this week has been a different experience for me, a time of bonding and nurturing, of love and understanding that it will be all better soon.

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