Barbara Kingsolver would be proud

As the temperature hovered in the 60s yesterday, I couldn’t help but feel that autumn is quickly approaching. The cool weather inspired me to finally make some headway with food preservation for the winter. I’ve done a little bit of preserving thus far – mostly freezing blueberries and strawberries – but I haven’t been motivated to do much more than that. While I spent a lot of time last year canning, I haven’t been excited about doing any this year (perhaps because we still have lots of jam left) – yet.

This weekend, however, I tackled zucchini and yellow squash. While I’ve only grown one measly zucchini in my own garden so far this year (which I pureed with a can of black beans and made into Black Bean & Zucchini brownies*), I managed to score enough off of Freecycle to make me a happy camper. On Friday evening I picked up 17 lbs of zucchini and yellow squash from someone in a nearby town. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it all when I got it, but I knew I would figure something out. In the meantime, the kids played with it. :)
(Please excuse the quality of these pics. They were taken w/ my iPhone.)

On Sunday I got to work. I shredded and froze 16 cups of zucchini to use during the winter for baking or adding to soups.

I also used 3 additional cups to make a triple batch of Barbara Kingsolver’s Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies (from the awesome book Animal Vegetable Miracle).

Then I used one huge yellow squash to make Kingsolver’s Disappearing Zucchini Orzo for dinner (I added spinach to it to give it a little more color and tomatoes as a garnish).

After all of that, I still have two large yellow squash remaining! I may chop and freeze them and throw them into a casserole at a later date.

*Below is the recipe for Black Bean Zucchini Brownies. The other two recipes (cookies and orzo) can be found on the Animal Vegetable Miracle web site. I was very skeptical of the idea of beans in my brownies at first, but now that I’ve made them, I can’t imagine going back to the traditional way. They are sooooo good (and, as Jody will tell you I like to argue, healthier!) Yum!

Black Bean Zucchini Brownies
1 box brownie mix (I prefer the kind that has chocolate chunks in it)
1 can black beans (do NOT drain)
1 small zucchini (Optional. You can make the brownies with just the beans and they will turn out just fine. If you want to add a little extra vegetable in though, add the zucchini.)

Puree entire can of black beans (including the liquid) in blender or food processor. Add the zucchini and puree until smooth. Add the beans and zucchini to the dry brownie mix. Mix well. Pour into greased pan and bake according to directions on the brownie box. You may have to bake a little longer than recommended on the box because there’s a fair amount of liquid added between the beans and zucchini. You could also add in some flour (maybe a 1/2 cup or so) to even it all out. When a toothpick or knife comes out of the brownies clean, they are done. Cool, cut and serve.

Jody, the kids, and I loved these brownies. And yes, I told them what was in them. Nobody cared. :)

Nearly 17 lbs of squash used or preserved in one way or another this weekend. I think Barbara Kingsolver would be proud.

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NaBloPoMo burnout

Julian at the park - 12/4/07Am I the only one who’s been feeling slightly less enthusiastic about blogging since NaBloPoMo ended? I admit having the pressure of posting every day removed has allowed me to be a bit more lax in my blogging efforts, and I’m enjoying the break.Julian & Ava at the park - 12/4/07

It’s allowed me time to take the kids to the park when the temps nearly hit 70 degrees on Tuesday (fun!), and to catch up on cleaning, grocery shopping and laundry (not so fun).

It’s allowed me time to submit some pictures to a magazine photo contest – America and the Sea (crossing my fingers).

It’s allowed me more time to spend reading “Pushed: The Painful Truth about Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care.” The book is now overdue from the library, but I can’t bring myself to return it until I finish it. Hopefully that will be in the next couple of days or I’m going to start racking up some serious overdue charges. ;) I plan on reviewing the book once I finish it so you will hear more about it. So far though it’s been excellent!

It’s also allowed me time to work on a new holiday gift guide for women (well, many of the gifts would be great for men too), with lots of giveaways and coupon codes, that I think you will like. That should be up early next week. Yes, I know that’s for my blog, but still. (Jody’s boss has told him that’s the way to win any argument. End it with, “yes, but still.” hehe)

What about you? Are you keeping up with the daily blogging now that NaBloPoMo is over or are you taking it easy and enjoying a bit of a break?

No need for vegetable deception if you breastfeed?

Do you recall the recent controversy over Jessica Seinfeld’s book “Deceptively Delicious?” Some people think the book is a godsend and others (myself included) think she goes a little too far to deceive her kids all in the name of sneaking a very small amount of vegetables into their food. (You can read my thoughts here).

Ava eating carrot soup with a carrotA new study confirms what I have long suspected, breast-fed babies are more likely to like fruits and vegetables (if their mother ate them while breastfeeding) than their formula-fed counterparts. It makes sense to me. A breast-fed baby is able to experience all of the flavors of the foods that his/her mother is consuming through her breast milk. A formula-fed baby, on the other hand, is just experiencing the single flavor of the formula (until, of course, he/she starts eating solid foods).

“It’s a beautiful system,” says Mennella. “Flavors from the mother’s diet are transmitted through amniotic fluid and mother’s milk. So, a baby learns to like a food’s taste when the mother eats that food on a regular basis.”

“Babies are born with a dislike for bitter tastes,” explains Mennella. “If mothers want their babies to learn to like to eat vegetables, especially green vegetables, they need to provide them with opportunities to taste these foods.”

This makes me curious if Jessica Seinfeld breastfed her children? Anyone know?

I’m not saying there aren’t picky eaters who were breastfed, because I’m sure there are (though my kids don’t seem to fall into that category). But I am curious what your thoughts on all of this? Is breastfeeding the solution to getting our children to enjoy a variety of foods and flavors? I’d love to hear you/your children’s experiences one way or the other. Keep it respectful, please.

Yes, that is Ava at 1 1/2 yrs old enjoying some carrot soup with a carrot spoon. :)

I Love You More – book review and giveaway

EDITED TO ADD: This giveaway has been concluded. 

NaBloPoMo – Day 14

I love you more

There’s nothing else in the world quite like the love between a mother and child. The book “I Love You More,” written by Laura Duksta and illustrated by Karen Keesler, depicts the tender relationship between a mother and her son, and if you flip the book around, between the son and his mother. That’s right – this unique book can be read from either direction, each way offering a different perspective of love.

The art is beautiful and the prose is rhythmic, creative and sweet. It is a wonderful book that will no doubt be enjoyed through countless readings.

Win it!

If you’d like to win your own copy of “I Love You More,” simply leave a comment below stating who you would give this book to if you won. A link back to this contest would be appreciated, but is not necessary to enter. The deadline to enter is Tuesday, Nov. 20. A winner will be selected that day using and posted on the 20th as well.

Up to my ears

PushedI’m up to my ears in books that I want to read. The priority is going to “Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care” because I’m picking that one up from the library today and will only have three weeks until it is due back. It’s been on hold for me since Friday, but I haven’t been able to get over there to get it yet. Well, that’s not entirely true. The kids and I went to the library yesterday to return some books and hang out, but found it closed for Veteran’s Day. Shucks. Anyway, I can’t wait to get my hands on that book. You can be sure it will work it’s way into a future blog post.

The other two books I bought and have waiting for me are “Connection Parenting: Parenting Through Connection Instead of Coercion, Through Love Instead of Fear” – which came highly recommended by a friend, and “Mothers and Daughters: Loving and Letting Go” – recommended by a different friend. Both of which look like they will be helpful in my relationships with my children as well as with helping me deal with some issues from my own childhood. It’s amazing how much baggage we can carry with us from our own childhoods into parenting our children. There are so many things that I thought I’d swept under the rug and forgotten about that have resurfaced since I had kids of my own. Hopefully these books will facilitate the healing process.

It seems there are so many good books out there that I’d like to read, and never enough time to do it. I need to find a way to set aside regular time for reading or else find a way to download the information from the books directly into my brain. Wouldn’t that be something? :)

To all my vegan friends

Help! I’d like to buy a vegan cookbook (just one) so that I can start experimenting with vegan meals once or twice a week. I am looking for something with relatively easy to make, quick if possible and kid-friendly (in that the meals aren’t so elaborate that the kids will turn up their noses) recipes. I’m mostly looking for dinners though desserts are always welcome too. ;)

So my question is: what is your favorite vegan cookbook and why?

Thank you! :)