We love sushi in our family. Going out for sushi is high on the kid-friendly restaurant list for us. There is this great little restaurant in town with the sweetest owner who brings the kids a complimentary meal of rice and tofu with miso soup poured over the top on a plate shaped as a fish. They both really love it along with an order of edamame. Ewan also enjoys the sushi, so I thought it would be a simple and fun snack or part of a meal to eat at home, minus the raw fish.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, we have a white peach tree in our yard, and this year I've been preserving a lot of the peaches by drying them...with a little help from my favorite almost four-year-old and my mom while she was here last week. Ewan loves these dried peaches (as he loves every dried fruit or fresh fruit or frozen fruit). Every time he helps me pick peaches from our tree he says, "maybe we can dry some of these peaches," or, "I was thinking about drying some of these peaches."
Today on our way home from the library Ewan said, "I think we should dry some eggs in the dehydrator." Let me know if anyone has tried this. He told me they would still taste like eggs.
This was a little snack I came up with the other morning to utilize some of our dried peaches a little more creatively than just eating them or mixing them into trail mix. It was really delicious and could easily be used as an appetizer for adults too!
I hope everyone had a lovely Fourth of July weekend. My parents were in town, so we had an activity-filled week with museum and beach trips; blueberry, raspberry, and peach picking; gardening; and lots of cooking. Jason and I even made it out on a second date in less than a month thanks to more family being in town to babysit.
This dinner was actually made before my parents' arrival, but I'm just getting the chance to post it as part of the Monday Meals series. Ewan really loves making pasta with our crank machine, so we did this one recent afternoon as a little activity while Isla was taking her afternoon nap. I like this kind of activity so much better than making playdough since we can eat the final product.
Peach season has officially arrived at the Training Taste Buds household. We have a white peach tree in our yard, and I spend a few weeks each summer trying to let as few as possible go to waste. We give them away, trade with friends for other garden items, freeze them, cook with them, eat a lot, and this year I'm adding drying to my list of things we do with them. I don't know if it's the drying or because we thinned the peaches for the first time this year, or possibly my three-year-old helper/ eater, but we are doing a pretty good job of keeping very many peaches from getting overripe and falling off the tree so far.
One of my favorite things about summertime is evening picnics. The kids and I usually have several picnics a week at lunchtime since we are fortunate enough to live where the weather is nice enough for picnics year-round. But, it tends to cool off so much in the evenings even before dark that we don't do many evening picnics until the days are longer.
I recently heard about packing salad in a jar, and it is pretty brilliant. I used to do something similar, always placing the lettuce on top when packing a salad for work, but the tall, skinnier container works really well and makes for a great presentation when dumped out onto a plate. I conveniently have a lot of jars that I already use for making yogurt, sprouting legumes and grains, and storing all sorts of pantry items.
Our usual Saturday tradition includes a trip to the Farmer's Market in downtown Santa Barbara. At some point during our shopping, there is always a detour to our favorite coffee shop, The French Press. Ewan has always enjoyed our coffee shop visits. He used to request to go just to watch the baristas grind coffee, but once Jason started including a scone with our coffee order, I believe the eating of the scone became his favorite part of our entire Saturday morning tradition.
Along with the scone comes a lesson in patience and a lesson in sharing. Our rule is that we all have to wait to start eating the scone until our coffee drinks are ready, and the scone has to be shared between everyone except Isla. Ewan is pretty good with both of these things, although he always wants the last bite to be under his control (mostly eaten by him, with possibly a little crumb or two handed out to Mama or Papa).
We've been missing our usual tradition sometimes lately due to busy work schedules and/ or Isla's napping, so I decided to make some scones at home to fill this void in my life. They don't quite live up to the ones from The French Press (which I highly recommend to any locals or vacationers), but they're pretty delicious, and I haven't seen the chocolate-blueberry combination yet...
Gluten free seems to be everywhere right now. The subject made big news again last month when Dr. Peter Gibson, the researcher who performed an experiment proving the presence of gluten sensitivity in people (other than only those who suffer from celiac disease), disproved his original theory.
I read numerous blogs written by people who eat gluten free diets because it has greatly improved how they feel, so I would never discount that. No one person's body reacts exactly the same to each food or type of food. And when a food is removed from someone's diet for awhile, the reintroduction can have pretty obvious and undesirable effects. As Dr. Gibson states, gluten is usually attached to FODMAPs, so they may be the bigger cause of sensitivity than the actual gluten in many people.
I know from personal experience that I feel much better when I completely remove processed sugar from my diet. I used to feel awful for hours after I ate pancakes at a restaurant that were made from 100 percent white flour (which I stopped doing because of this). I could continue my list and go into great detail about how different foods affect me, but my point is that although Peter Gibson's study was sound, if people feel better when they eat gluten free, let them eat gluten free. Not everyone has chosen to eat this way just because it sounded like the cool thing to do this month. It seems that educated people on a gluten free diet eat a more healthy diet because they have to eliminate so many processed foods and cook real food (like all of us should do anyway). Although the food industry is trying to ruin this necessity by jumping on the gluten free train, offering more processed gluten free foods by the day.
We had both a dinner and breakfast potluck at the campground, and this was my contribution to the dinner. The meatballs could easily be omitted for a vegetarian dish. I chose to serve this over pasta, but it would go well with just about any grain, or even by itself.
Here's a recipe for later this week once you're ready to take a break from grilling after the long holiday weekend. Ewan actually loves balsamic vinegar (he is so different from me as a child) and really likes when we have a salad made with tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. So I thought, why not put that salad over fresh pasta, and add some greens to the noodles?
Making homemade noodles is a very fun toddler activity if you have the equipment and the patience for the mess that almost definitely accompanies it. I have a hand crank machine that I actually lent to Ewan's preschool a few months ago so that the kids could make noodles. They had a great time with it, but it is very time consuming when a three-year-old is your assistant, so we save it for making ravioli or lasagna noodles (neither of which we've made in quite some time).
My juicer came with several pasta extruder attachments, and it's like a giant, motorized play dough fun factory that actually makes real food. Since we got this juicer, I've made homemade pasta a bit more frequently.
We actually had this for dinner tonight, something baked in the oven! I am so happy that our most recent heat wave finally ended, and I was able to turn on the oven last night and tonight for the first and second time in two weeks. We were out of town for part of that time, but that's still a pretty long time for me not to use the oven. We have been grilling, eating salads, occasionally using the stovetop to cook eggs, and eating out more than normal. Anything to avoid making the house hotter than it already was.
Like the majority of Santa Barbarans, we do not have air conditioning, something I hope to never need. However, a couple of back-to-back days over 100 degrees was really warming up our indoor space. It honestly wasn't that bad, nothing like those St. Louis summers I remember as a kid, but I felt bad for the kids since it was still so hot when it was time for them to go to bed. They were both always so sweaty anytime I had to check on them.
I mentioned last week that we had afghan food while we were recently in Monterey. One of our favorite dishes was eggplant that was part of the vegetarian platter. We asked the restaurant owner how it was prepared, and he told us they brown the eggplant and then cook it in the oven for a long time. He didn't mention what kind of spices they used, so I decided to just cook an eggplant this way and see what resulted. I only added a little oil and salt, and nothing else. It was really good and very easy. Plus, I find that minimal seasonings go over better with kids.