Friday, August 31, 2012

No Pectin Ginger Nectarine Jam


No Pectin Ginger Nectarine Jam
Makes about 2 Pints (4 jam jars)

10 Medium Nectarines (about 2-1/2 lbs)
1 T Candied Ginger (minced)
1 T Fresh Ginger (peeled & grated)
1 T Dried Ginger
1-1/2 C Sugar
2 T Lemon Juice

Wash, pit and chop nectarines. How small depends on how chunky you like your jam: smaller = smoother. You can peel them if you want to, but that just seems like way more work than it is worth as the peels break down a lot while cooking.

Put all of the ingredients into a large wide saucepan or deep frying pan. Bring to a boil them lower to a simmer stirring regularly for about 20 minutes.

You can tell when it is done a few ways: It will be about 200 degrees on a candy thermometer, when you stir it will leave a ‘path’ behind the spoon for a moment, or you can just test it by taking a small spoonful out and popping it in the freezer for 30 seconds to cool.

Ladle into jars leaving about ¼ inch head space, wipe the rims, lid and process in a hot water bath. If you plan to eat it up in the next 6-8 weeks, you can skip the bath and just keep it in the fridge.  
Based on a recipe  originally found on

Yummy on Honey Wheat Ritz!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What is Your Home Town's Claim to Fame?

From Bike The Byways

Everybody’s home town has a claim to fame. My home town, Gouverneur, NY is where the founder of the Life Savers Candy Company, E.J. Noble, was born. There is a giant roll of Pep-O-Mint Life Savers in the middle of town. This statue (along with the local museum’s two headed calf), is what has earned Gouverneur mention on the Roadside America web site.
This is not a paid promotion. I don't even get a free bumper sticker or anything. I have just found some cool stuff on the site. Roadside America is a guide to finding offbeat attractions, which in my mind are the best kind! You can find any number of small town museums, works made in homage to their originals (like Foamhenge in VA), and stuff that you have only seen in the movies (hint for Kevin Smith fans, head for NJ).  

From Earth Art By Brad
This brings me to the real reason for this post. When we were traveling a few weeks ago we stopped in a little town called Roscoe, NY. Along with claiming to be the fly fishing capital of the world, there were those photo props that you can put your head in all over the place.
Figlet & Her Daddy

 After taking a bunch of pictures I thought ‘This place ought to be listed on the Roadside America site’. So I sent them a tip, and now it is!
The End

Saturday, August 25, 2012

An Elephant You Can Play With - Toddler Art Project

An Elephant You Can Play With

Age: 18 Months - 5 Years (younger ones need more supervision)

Time: 10 min (+ Prep)

Theme: Elephants

Books: Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young, Listen to my Trumpet by Mo Willems (or choose your favorite Elephant & Piggie book)

Construction Paper (heavier/higher quality works best)
Bendy Straws
Adults get to use Scissors and Hole Punch

Prep: Choose different colors of construction paper for the head and body. For the body cut an H shape the size of ¼ of a sheet. For the head, cut a bow tie shape the size of 1/6 of a sheet. Punch two holes in the ‘bar’ of the H and one hole in the center of the head for the straw to feed through.

Activity: Each child gets a pre-cut elephant body, head and crayons. Decorate, draw, scribble! When done, have an adult help feed the long end of the straw through the holes in the head and body, leaving the ‘bendy’ as the trunk. PLAY!

Notes/Tips: Straws come in slightly different diameter, so make sure the ones you have fit snugly in the punched holes. If the straw is too narrow, cut a small ‘x’ with an exacto blade instead of punching holes. The easiest way to size the pieces is to fold the paper into quarters or sixths first. You can also cut multiples easier this way. This easily becomes a big kid project - just let them do the prep themselves.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Baby & The Booby - In Honor of National Breastfeeding Month

The Figlet has given up Boo-baah, but in honor of National Breastfeeding Month, here is a song we wrote back when she was latching strong.

The Baby & The Booby (Are The Best of Friends)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Little Swarm of Memories

Whenever we travel we like to find odd landmarks. Today we happened upon these in the parking lot of an out of business antique shop along Route 17/I86 near Liberty, NY.

Baby Bug & Big Bug Mama

Big Bug Daddy

Our Little Baby Bug Out On Her Own

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"Oh 5h1t!"? - Letter to a Home Town

Our Very Patient and Very Loved '2-Pid Tat' Rena

Olivia, the newest of the chickens, hopped on top of the composter, then made ready to jump the fence into the neighbor’s yard. I was worried and annoyed. Part of the unspoken agreement I have with my neighbor about the chickens is that they stay on our side of the fence. I had already clipped Olivia’s wings, but the allure of a safe haven from the flock bullies set her small mind in motion to find another way.  Seeing what she was about to do, the Figlet called out as I had so many times before “2-pid Chickie!”
It was contextual. It was eloquent. It was very nearly properly annunciated. It was funny. But as much as it made us giggle, it was also the proverbial warning shot. When I lofted the “2-pid tat!” from the bed for using me as a scratching post while we were reading stories, we knew it was time for the language police to start walking the beat.  

Apparently there was an episode of Modern Family called “Little Bo Bleep” that aired last winter and cause quite a stir. I can’t comment on it. We don’t have a TV. I also can’t blame the TV for any colorful additions to the Figlet’s vocabulary. Seeing as she doesn’t go to daycare, we can’t blame that either. The culpability sits squarely on our laps here at home.

The language police were doing a pretty good job throughout the spring. The pets apparently got smarter. “Please”, “Thank you” and “Excuse Me” all made their debut. Aside from being told a few times that I have a “Nice butt-butt” while getting dressed, the Figlet’s language development would make a pastor proud. (Okay, so there was that one widely publicized and highly overrated incident posted on Facebook by my Companion, but we don’t talk about that.)  

Then, a couple of weeks ago when the language police were looking the other way, something slipped out of hand onto the kitchen floor and “Oh 5h1t!” slipped out too. No sooner was it said that it was repeated. My companion and I looked at one another in a collective effort not to laugh. The language police rushed to the scene of the crime, but it was too late.    

The following week at the beach, crouching down letting the water lap at her feet, a wave just big enough to knock her over did just that. Out of the salty spray came the unmistakable words “Oh 5h1t!” It was contextual. It was eloquent. It was properly annunciated. It was funny. It was also hard evidence that removing the phrase from our own vocabulary and straight faced efforts of non-reaction weren’t going to be enough to alter her behavior this time.

At the urging of the language police, now when something falls, it gets sound effects. More often than not, that sound effect starts with an S; “Oh Shazbot!”or “Oh Sploosh!” It isn’t the easiest thing to condition ourselves to, but it has one big advantage: when the Figlet comes out with a creative expletive alternative, it is perfectly acceptable to laugh!  

I hope that this letter has found you and yours in good spirits and good health. Until I write again…

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Zucchini Peach Bread

Not too sweet and not to heavy, this bread is a great grab on the run breakfast
or afternoon snack - perfect for those up and coming school days!

Zucchini Peach Bread
¾ C Whole Wheat Flour
¾ C All Purpose Flour
½ C Quick Cook Oats (Uncooked)
1 t Baking Soda
½ t Baking Powder
4 T Butter
4 T Vegetable Oil
1/3 C White Sugar
1/3 C Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
2 T Milk
1 t Almond Extract
½ t Lemon Zest (or 1 T lemon Juice)
1 C Shredded Zucchini
2 Peaches Shredded or Mashed (Yes, this means peach mush!)
½ C Pecans (Optional)

Preheat oven to 350

Cream together butter, oil and sugars. Add eggs, milk, almond extract, and lemon zest and mix thoroughly. Mix in the zucchini and peaches, followed by the baking soda, powder, oats and flour. Fold in nuts last. Grease and spread batter into 2 small loaf pans 8” or 9” square baking pan. Bake for apx. 40 minutes.
Note: This bread will slice ‘cleaner’ after sitting overnight.
(Originally based on Garden Fresh Bread from

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Make a Llama with Art Mama - Toddler Art Project

Story Time Llama

Make a Llama with Art Mama

Age: 18 Months - 5 Years (younger ones need more supervision)

Time: 10 min (+ Prep)

Theme: Llamas

Books: Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney, Is Your Mama a Llama by Deborah Guarino

Card stock and printer
Yarn (the fuzzier the better)
Adults get to use Scissors & Hole Punch

Super Fuzzy Yarn!

Prep: Find a simple drawing of a llama. (I choose these by Kat Wong Instead of just printing out the page, copy the image and paste it into a word document. Adjust page orientation and the size of the image as desired. Print image onto cardstock paper. Cut out in rough outline, then punch holes within the body of the llama. Cut a length of yarn for each llama about 18” long.

Llama Full of Holes

 Activity: Each child gets a llama and a length of yarn. Thread the yarn through the holes every which way until your llama is sufficiently fuzzy. If you have extra yarn at the end, you can give your llama a scarf! Introduce your llama to your mama and your friends.

Llama in Progress

Notes/Tips: If little ones have difficulty putting the end of the yarn through the holes, demonstrate how to hold the yarn against the back of the hole so some of the ‘fuzz’ can be grasped and pull the yarn through. In Word, if you format the picture as ‘Behind Text’ it will allow you to move it freely around the page. Heavier paper makes a sturdier llama – but be aware of your printer capabilities.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Ultimate Hide-a-Veggie Recipe - A Letter to a Home Town

My Family Says I Try to Hide Veggies in Everything!

In honor of Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Day (August 8th) here is a Letter from the archives.

Those with a garden of significant size can tell you: now is the season of bounty! Veggies abound in midsummer. Tomatoes shine like red Christmas balls on the vine. Carrots have grown beyond wee fingerlings. Summer squashes could squish out every other dish on the table.

Thanks to the CSA I mentioned a while back, even without a garden of our own, this year we are lucky enough to partake as though we had. The quantity of fresh vegetables delivered weekly reflects the bounty of the season. (Bonus: knowing it would cost far more if we bought them at the grocery store.)

Contrary to planting our own garden, we had no say over what seeds were sown in spring. The result is that nearly every week we receive some vegetable that I have no experience preparing: garlic scapes, purple kale, fava beans, etc. I consider this incentive for culinary exploration. I am also thankful that my companion has an adventurous pallet!

Along with the unusual, sometimes the sheer quantity of produce presents a challenge. Nearly every dish I have prepared over the past few weeks, from stuffed eggplant to fresh squeezed lemonade, has contained fresh basil. One week’s surplus of cucumbers became refrigerator pickles for the elder kids to enjoy when they come home from their upstate adventures. Lately the challenge has been how to use the gluttony of zucchini.

Excess zucchini is not an unfamiliar experience. Zucchini grows well in the North East. Almost everyone with space enough grows them. This means a bumper crop in one garden is a bumper crop in every garden. This inevitably leads to sneaking zucchini onto neighbor’s porches in the dead of night; a well meaning, yet desperate measure that an unyielding overabundance of zucchini may yield.

Thankfully zucchini is a versatile and easily disguised vegetable. (Come to think of it, I don’t remember Grandma ever making plain zucchini.) Zucchini bread was the first thing I made (Joan’s recipe from the church cookbook.) I’ve snuck it into omelets. It is a staple in stir fry. Marinated in Italian dressing, it is fabulous on the grill (an idea borrowed from Aunt Patty). With eggplant in the CSA basket, ratatouille is on the menu. My latest endeavor: Chocolate Zucchini Cookies - an ultimate hide-a-veggie treat! Just in case anyone else is looking for a way to use up some zucchini…

Chocolate Zucchini Cookies

* 1/2 cup butter *1/2 cup white sugar *1/2 cup brown sugar *1 egg *1 teaspoon vanilla extract *2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour *1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder *1 teaspoon baking soda *2 cups grated zucchini

Mix butter, egg, vanilla & sugars – then the baking soda and cocoa then the zucchini and finally the flour. Drop rounded spoonfuls onto baking sheet the bake at 350 for about 10 minutes. Makes about 3 dozen.

Optional additions – a scant cup of chocolate chips in the batter or swipe of cream cheese frosting on top. If a veggie hater asks what the green stuff in them is, tell them it’s apple.

             I hope this letter has found you and yours in good spirits and good health. Until I write again…

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Messy Art - The Fun Is In The Making

Most of the toddler art projects that I post here are relatively low on the mess scale. Glitter, paint, even liquid glue are rare items on the materials list. Just so no-one gets the wrong idea thinking that art has to be neat, here is what went on in our kitchen tonight:

I taped paper to the floor then put liberal
gobs of paint in an old lunch tray.

She painted with her fingers

And with her toes

And when she had had enough,
she headed off for a much needed bath

While her masterpieces were left to dry.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Let Your Little Lion Roar - Toddler Art Project

Let Your Little Lion Roar - Paper Plate Puppets

Age: 18 Months - 5 Years (younger ones need more supervision)

Time: 10 min (+ Prep)

Theme: Lions

Books: Do Lions Live on Lily Pads by Melanie Walsh, A Beach Tail by Karen Williams, Dandelion by Don Freeman

Orange, Yellow & Red Tissue Paper
Red & Black Construction Paper (you can use scraps)
Small (desert size) paper plates
Glue sticks
Masking tape (if you are making them into hand puppets)
Adults get to use Scissors

Prep: Cut small triangle shapes from the construction paper to be used for eyes and noses. Rip tissue paper into workable size pieces. To make the handle, cut a ½” strip at the widest point of a second paper plate (exact length is not essential, so you can get 3 handles per plate).

Activity: Each child gets a plate, assorted tissue paper, eyes, nose & glue stick. Rip, crumple and twist bits of tissue paper, then glue them to the outer part of the plate for the loin’s mane. Don’t forget to glue on the eyes and nose. With some adult help, attach the handle to the back with masking tape. Give your lion a name then let everyone hear your best lion roar!

Notes/Tips: If you fold the handles in 1/3rds then fold the two ends in half again it will create a tab on each side that can be taped down easily (see pic in this post). Crayons can be used instead of construction paper to create the face. Challenge older kids to create a pattern in their lion's mane.