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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Help us win!!!!

Most of you already know that I am a photographer.  We are honored to be in the running for Philadelphia's Best Children's Photographer!!!!!!! Please take a moment to visit the MyPhl17 Hot List and vote for us!!!! 

We would love you even more if you pass this along to family and friends so they can vote, too!

Leave a comment if you vote!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Make Your Own: Grilled Corn

This recipe comes from Ava's grandparents! We had it when we vacationed with them and have been making it at home ever since!

You can leave the corn in the husk or use foil- we use foil.

1. Husk corn.
2. Lay corn on a square of foil.
3. Add- 1-2 pats of butter, salt, pepper, parmesan cheese.
4. Roll corn in foil like a piece of candy.
5. Place on a pre-heated grill for 10-15 minutes until corn is tender.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Feed Your Soul.

What makes you happy?
For me, the list goes on and on but does include:
My family (including our pets!)
Amazing Food
 Farms (the food, flowers, animals, you name it!)
I have been making a major effort to visit local farms for eggs, milk, produce, and hopefully soon, for meat.  I stopped at one on my way home from a photography session on Sunday. I wanted to go with J and Baby A, but it was 99 degrees out, and was on my way home. Disappointed to be at the farm alone, I planned to grab my food and head home. I pulled in and my car faced rows and rows  and rows of beautifully colored zinnias.  I photographed Ava running in them last week, and have wanted to pick some ever since.  It was hot and I was tired, but I decided to go for it anyway. 

Aren't they gorgeous? I am excited to go back with Baby A and have her "help" me pick our bouquet, but am very glad I decided to spend some time in the sun on my own. Sometimes, your soul just needs it!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Strawberry-Lime Green Teasicles

These sound sooooo good- Kate decided to test some popsicle recipes to share with our teething babies and here is her first creation!

Thank you for sharing, Kate!!! We cannot wait to hear more!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pumpkin Butter

Mmmm! Today I picked up some pumpkin butter at Maple Acres Farm. Baby A and I enjoyed some pumpkin butter toast this afternoon and we both LOVED it!!!!!!

We are thinking this will be perfect on pancakes instead of syrup. The label does include the ingredients, but has left out the caloric information, so I'm not sure if it's better or worse than syrup, but it is amazingly tasty!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

What's in Season?

Thanks to the AWESOME website, Philly Homegrown for July's list of in-season produce!

  • Apricots
  • Beans
  • Beets
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Lettuce
  • Melons
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Radishes
  • Raspberries
  • Spinach
  • Summer Squash
  • Tomatoes

Mmmmm. What are your family's favorites?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Straw Girl!

A big thanks to my mother-in-law...she taught A how to use a straw and bought her some fun cups to practice on! 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Farms are WONDERFUL for Kids!

I really loved this post from Mrs. Q about all the reasons she loves farms.  She talks about the under three crowd and how farms are the perfect platform for learning and having fun, and I couldn't agree more!

This part says it all:

My kid loves going to the farm. There is a small touristy (but functional) farm not too terribly far away and we go there more often than we go to the zoo. I wish every kid could have access to a working farm. There's so many opportunities for learning as it offers a language rich environment (labeling animals and farm equipment, actions, cause and effect, etc). There are fewer animals in cages too. Not that I have a problem with zoos, but somehow it's different seeing a domestic animal behind bars.

Actually the farm is quite possibly the perfect place for children under three. Looking through various park districts' catalogs, there are tons of programs open to children three and older. But the little guys? Well, there is story time at the library and "play dates" with other mommies and kids, but for the under three set there's "gymbor*ee" and that's about it. Sometimes I feel doomed to letting someone run around at a playground, the pool or in the mall (admittedly there are few complaints).

For a toddler the farm is practically titillating! I mean, there's poop and smells of unknown origins. Then loud "cock-a-doodles" coming out of nowhere to startle you. And cows with soft mooooos. The big wheels of a tractor to kick and try to climb. Little homeless kitties running here and there. My kid is in heaven.

What local farms do you like to visit with your family?


Monday, July 19, 2010

Summer Treats.

Perfect for a teething baby...popsicles!  That being said, I hate what's in them~ what are your favorite homemade popsicle recipes?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Note About Applesauce. Ugh.

You really have to be careful out there. The hubs and I were doing some grocery shopping at Costco over the weekend and I was excited to see the individual servings of applesauce. Why I need to buy them when they come in nice big jars, I don't know---yogurt in large containers does not bother me, but for some reason I love individual steps.  I think the real reason behind it is: you can throw a pack of applesauce in your purse or diaper bag sans ice pack and you always have a yummy snack on hand.

Anyway.  I decided on a whim to check the ingredients and guess what the second one was? High fructose corn syrup. Blech.  I put them down and explained why to J.  Thankfully, we were headed to Target afterwards, and I was able to find Mott's Natural Applesauce (no sugar added) in little cups--the only ingredients are apples, water and vitamin C. Much cleaner.  Are you careful to check the labels, or do you faithfully purchase "healthy" foods?  It's pretty concerning to me because I tend to grab  and go. It seems that no packaged foods are truly safe (safe as in nutritious), you always have to check!


Friday, July 16, 2010

When in Doubt...Applesauce!

Baby A LOVES dipping and loves to put food items into yogurt or applesauce. She doesn't care if she's eating pasta or chicken- it all tastes good to her!!

Every once and awhile, she will refuse food/meals that I know she likes.  This also occurs when I know she is hungry (okay, I 99% know).  Enter: applesauce (yogurt works well, too)!

A dips, transfers, mixes, and finally, EATS! 

What silly tricks work with your kids?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Down to Earth Cafe- Perkasie, PA

My new favorite place.... Down to Earth Cafe.  I have been there two time in the last two weeks, and both times I have gotten smoothies as a treat to myself during this crazy 100+ degree weather we have been having.  As I blogged the other day, I am getting a little bit obsessed with supporting my local farms (I will say, my ideas are always swimming in my head, though daily life does not always allow for carry-over!), so when I visited Down to Earth Cafe's website, I knew I had to check it out.

Down to Earth is a casual Café located in the heart of Upper Bucks County. Our mission is two-fold. We want to create the most flavorful food using fresh ingredients and we also want to create a warm friendly place for you to enjoy our food. To ensure freshness, we will use organic and local products whenever possible. This practice supports the area and all of its resources and also reduces our carbon footprint on the world by reducing all of the bio fuels to truck these items across the country, or import them from foreign countries. 

We feel that local and organic foods are not only healthier to us and the environment, but simply taste better too.

As far as decor, we feature a local artist and their work on our wall, and the furniture was hand crafted from a local man using old barn wood. We hope that you enjoy all that we have to offer and share in our vision of a healthier place to live. After all, the minds behind our Café are.... just plain down to earth themselves. 

The Maxwell Family 

Pretty cool concept, huh? The decor is simple and fresh, the smoothies are out of this world, and the service is delightful. I have encountered three different ladies during my two visits and all three were very friendly. 

The menu features breakfast and anytime fare, and they support the following local farms:

You have to let me know you go. Next free weekend, I plan to go have breakfast with J and Baby A!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Speaking of Local...New Resource

If you look up to the top of the page, you will notice I have added a new resource---a list of local restaurants that make it a priority to use fresh, seasonal, local ingredients, as well as organic fair-trade options.  Do you know of more? Email me and I will add it:


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bucks County Taste.

I am getting really a little too excited about all things "local". Throw in "organic", "seasonal", or even "handmade" along with the word local and watch me become giddy!

For about a month, I have been following a local blog called Bucks County Taste.

Discover. Explore. Share.

Be it farms, markets, restaurants, bars, wineries, small producers and local merchants, we write about the best food that Bucks County, PA has to offer.

Need I say more? Go check 'em out!

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Once of our readers had an awesome idea! She hates the smell of soft-boiled eggs, so she heated up some fruit preserves and let her one year old dip toast in it!

Sounds DELISH, doesn't it?
Thank you, Kate, for the great tip!

Do you have a good tip to share? Email us!


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Goooo Wendys!

I will admit- I am not big on fast food, and I am really not big on Wendys (though my husband LOVES it).  I have nothing against the big W, just don't love it.

Anyway, my thoughts may soon be changing...

Due to their customers "asking for "real" food", Wendys has decided to re-vamp it's salad choices and use real, unprocessed food!  Will this send me running to a Wendy's? Probably not, but it will be good to keep in mind for those days when I have to grab a meal on-the-go.

You can read more here.

What do you think (other than it's about time!!!!!)?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Feelin' Salty?

I came across a great article about sodium in the recent issue of Metro Kids. 

Sodium is under fire as a nutrition no-no. Here's why and how to avoid it.

Move over, transfat and sugar! Sodium is under fire as the next nutrition no-no. Sodium levels in foods have been on the nutrition watch list for years because too much of this mineral is associated with high blood pressure, which can increase the risk for heart disease and stroke.

The main source of sodium in the diet is salt (sodium chloride), which is 40 percent sodium by weight. In April, the Food and Drug Administration announced its intent to examine ways to reduce salt in the American diet, beginning with a call for voluntary cutbacks from the food industry.

Click here to read more.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Green Balls----Make it FUN!

Tonight, Baby A was eating peas while her homemade mac-n-cheese was heating up.  We were experimenting with the fact that if placed at the top of her high chair tray the pea rolllllllled down to her. She LOVED it and gave a good belly-laugh with each pea. 

That got me thinking about my sister- she calls peas "green balls".  My sweet niece did not prefer peas until she heard about their cool name. Genius, right?

What cool tricks do you have up your sleeve?


Monday, July 5, 2010

Chicken Nuggets- What is in them??

I saw this on CNN and knew I had to share. Blech.
I honestly have not had chicken nuggets since reading this, but this is just icky.

All McDonald’s   nuggets are not created equal.
U.S. McNuggets not only contain more calories and fat than their British counterparts, but also chemicals not found across the Atlantic.

CNN investigated the differences after receiving a  blog comment asking about them.
American McNuggets (190 calories, 12 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat for 4 pieces) contain the chemical preservative tBHQ, tertiary butylhydroquinone, a petroleum-based product. They also contain dimethylpolysiloxane, “an anti-foaming agent” also used in Silly Putty.
By contrast, British McNuggets (170 calories, 9 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat for 4 pieces) lists neither chemical among its ingredients.

“I would certainly choose the British nuggets over the American” says Ruth Winter, author of  “A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives.”

McDonald’s says the differences are based on the local tastes: In the United States, McNuggets are coated and then cooked, in the United Kingdom, they are cooked and then coated. As a result, the British McNuggets absorb less oil and have less fat.

"You would find that if you looked at any of our core food items. You'd see little, regional differences," says Lisa McComb, who handles global media relations for McDonald's, which has more than 32,000 restaurants in 117 countries. "We do taste testing of all our food items on an ongoing basis."
One apparent difference is only a matter of labeling, according to McComb. U.K. McNuggets list ground celery and pepper, which are labeled simply as "spices" in the United States, she says.
Marion Nestle, a New York University professor and author of “What to Eat,” says the tertiary butylhydroquinone and dimethylpolysiloxane in the McNuggets probably pose no health risks. As a general rule, though, she advocates not eating  any food with an ingredient you can’t pronounce.
Dimethylpolysiloxane is used as a matter of safety to keep the oil from foaming, McComb says. The chemical is a form of silicone also used in cosmetics and Silly Putty.  A review of animal studies by The World Health Organization found no adverse health effects associated with dimethylpolysiloxane.
TBHQ is a preservative for vegetable oils and animal fats, limited to .02 percent of the oil in the nugget. One gram (one-thirtieth of an ounce) can cause "nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation, and collapse," according to “A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives.”

In 2003, McDonald’s launched smaller, all-white-meat McNuggets after a federal judge dubbed the food “a McFrankenstein creation of various elements not utilized by the home cook." Among the ingredients that remained in the new McNuggets: tBHQ and dimethylpolysiloxane.
Christopher Kimball, the founder and publisher of Cook’s Illustrated magazine and host of the syndicated cooking show America’s Test Kitchen, says he suspects these chemicals are required for the nuggets to hold their shape and texture after being extruded into nugget-shaped molds.
“The regulations in Europe, in general, around food are much stricter than the U.S.,” Kimball says.

What do you think? 

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Guest Post: Make Your Own Viili (Yogurt)

Homemade Viili (Finnish yogurt)

This was simple to make and fantastic! I picked up the dry culture from Cultures for Health.

First step is to make a starter from the dry culture:
1 cup whole milk
.08oz of dry mix (various forms of Lactic Acid Bacteria)

1 - Put the ingredients in a mason jar.
2 - Stir it up with a wooden spoon (for some reason they said a stainless steel would hurt the starter) and place a towel over the top.
3 - Set it in a warm place (70°-80°) for 48 hours.
4 - After the 48 hours are up place it in the refrigerator for 6 hours to set.

That's it for a starter. Now its time to make the yogurt.

The formula is 1 tablespoon of starter per cup of yogurt. I wanted to make 1 quart so I needed 4 tablespoons of starter.

1 - Put a quart of milk in a mason jar with the 4 tablespoons of starter.
2 - Stir it up with a wooden spoon and place a towel over the top.
3 - Set it in a warm place (70°-80°) for 24 hours.
4 - After the 24 hours are up place it in the refrigerator for 6 hours to set.

At this point scoop out 4 tablespoons, and place it in another jar to keep as starter for the next batch (this can be done indefinitely to keep the process going).

I wanted my yogurt a little thicker than it was, so I strained it with a cheese cloth for a few hours in the refrigerator.

The final yogurt is slightly tart, so I mixed in 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract for the entire quart.

And there you go - homemade Viili yogurt without a yogurt maker.

Thank you so much, Josh!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Bake Your Own: Banana Bread

I will be the first to admit this horrifying fact:  I hate baking!!!!!

I don't know why, but I think it's because it's so messy (flour/sugar/eggs/blech), takes a lot of work, and then I feel like I want to eat whatever I baked and it's usually not too healthy!

My aunt gave us banana bread last week, along with the recipe, so I decided this is one I would like to try and I am so glad I did. It's EASY and really tasty!

Sour Cream Banana Bread

1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup butter

3 cups white sugar
3 eggs
6 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 (16oz) container sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking soda
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional--my aunt used them, I did not)

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  • Grease four 7x3 inch pans (she used 8 small loaf pans; I used 5 small, 2 large)
  • In a small bowl, stir together 1/4 cup white sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
  • Dust pans lightly with cinnamon and sugar mixture.
  • In a large bowl, cream butter and 3 cups sugar
  • Mix in eggs, mashed bananas, sour cream, vanilla, and cinnamon.
  • Mix in salt, baking soda and flour.
  • Stir in nuts.
  • Divide into prepared pans.
  • Bake for one hour*, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
*The little pans are fully baked after 45 minutes, the larger take an hour.  When you touch the top of the bread, it should be springy.

I do not know where she got this recipe, as I only have a copied paper, but thank you to whoever created it...YUM!!!!!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Tip: Keep Your Formula Scoops!

Recognize this?  

If you have ever had a can of formula in your kitchen, then you have had a few of these scoops.  We saved a bunch of them and then have so many uses!

  • Coffee scoop
  • Sugar spoon
  • Flour scoop
  • Baking soda/powder scoop
  • Fish food scoop
  • Sandbox/Bathtub toys
  • A toy kitchen toy

Can you think of any other uses for these?  I find them so little and convenient for uses all over the house!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

10 Tips for Joyful Summer Eating

Thanks to Serious Eats for this inspiring list of ways to eat mindfully and ENJOY our food!

10 Tips for Joyful Summer Eating

You may know Carolyn Cope as Umami Girl. She stops by on Tuesdays with ideas on preparing the abundance of fruits and vegetables you might get from your CSA or the market. —The Mgmt.
With farms and gardens across the northern hemisphere bursting into bloom, it's the perfect time to kick back and enjoy being a food lover. Ripe summer fruits and vegetables make a vibrant palette for the ambitious cook and an easy-peasy meal for the casually inclined. What could be more inspiring than a rainbow of heirloom tomatoes on the kitchen counter, or more relaxing than a picnic lunch that pairs them with fresh cheese, warm bread, crisp wine and absolutely nothing else?
Isn't it almost unbearably delightful? I think so, too. I'm drunk on the headiness of the season like Ruth Bourdain is high on pixie tangerine zest.
It's a good thing, too—because the sober alternative isn't pretty. Everywhere you look, anxiety about the state of our food system is reaching proportions as epidemic as the obesity it's contributing to. With thousands of opinions about how and what to eat—some inspired, some merely shouted—it's enough to cause a serious case of analysis paralysis at the market. I know I've personally fallen prey to indecision and frustration more than once, and I spend a good part of every day paying attention to the ins and outs of the what-to-eat discussion. It can't be much prettier for the rest of you.
I'm raising the issue for a serious reason, which is that sometimes I get a little worried about the fate of the sustainable food movement. Speaking of heady buzzes, I really, really like some of the changes afoot in the nether regions of the food chain at the moment. But if eater anxiety wrings the joy out of enough people's relationships with food, it won't be easy for all those wonderful, super-secret, magic developments to see the light of day. And where's the fun in that?
Do you know what's a lot more fun than bossed-around, humorless eating? It's remembering to take wholehearted pleasure in our food, and truly allowing ourselves to do so. Life in a state of imperfect uncertainty is nothing new, so as far as I'm concerned, we might as well weather it happily and with bellies full of sour cherries.
In that spirit, and without further ado, a gentle reminder to love the food you're with, and ten small ways to do it.

1. Go Picking

For cheap outdoor entertainment that doubles as both educational experience and healthy dessert, head to your local u-pick farm to pick berries and stone fruits. To find a farm near you, check out and

2. Then, Make a Crisp

Once you're home and swimming in fruit, make the ultimate in breezy, riffable desserts: a fruit crisp. It's so flexible it even serves as an unapologetic breakfast. Crank the oven to 375°F. In a deep-dish pie plate or small casserole, toss three pints of berries or cut-up stone fruit with a scant 1/4 cup each of sugar (depending on the fruit's sweetness) and cornstarch, plus a big squeeze of lemon juice. In a small bowl, mix together with your fingertips 3/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats, 3/4 cup flour, 2/3 cup brown sugar, 8 tablespoons butter, and a pinch of salt. Distribute the topping over the fruit and bake until browned and bubbly, about 45 minutes.

3. Cook and Eat with Friends

The desirability and benefits of sharing a meal with friends couldn't be more obvious, but sometimes it's tricky to fit it in as much as we'd like. Next time you're waffling about whether to initiate a get-together, don't let yourself rationalize against it. Host a simple pot-luck, or cook together, so no one gets stuck with too much prep. The time you invest will pay dividends in clearheaded happiness in the following week.

4. Drink a Really Good Beer from Your Region

It's gotten pleasantly possible to find good craft beer in just about every region of the U.S. I'm no brewmaster, but I know that there are five or six really good, easily obtainable beers from my region, whose brewers I suspect I'd like if we met in person one day. And I know that good beer makes people happy. So.

5. Leaf Through the Pages of an Edible Publication

For inspiration in both the methods and motives of cooking locally and seasonally, pick up a free copy of your region's Edible magazine or the gorgeous new book Edible: A Celebration of Local Foods, which draws the best from each region together. These publications strike an inviting, inclusive tone that will make you love good food so much you'll want to marry it.

6. Plant Some Basil

Short of an apartment with zero windows, there's not much excuse to have a working kitchen without a pot of basil and maybe a few other herbs. Don't get me wrong: I had exactly that for many years, so I'm not judging. But now that I know the pleasures of snipping fresh leaves to my heart's content, I can't imagine it any other way.

7. Corrupt a Perfectly Respectable Vegetable

If you find yourself acting overly virtuous in the presence of vegetables, editing your behavior the way you might with a distinguished colleague or elderly family member, try to let loose. Make something ridiculously rich, like creamy kale or zucchini tempura, to break the ice. Afterward, you'll feel much freer to express yourself, which only ever improves a relationship.

8. Try Something Crazy

Next time you're at the farmers' market, buy something you've never tried before or aren't overly familiar with. Let the farmer talk your ear off about the best ways to prepare it. Then go home and give it a try. It'll be delicious more times than not; and if you loathe it, the story will be all the more interesting.

9. But Don't Forget About the Old Stand-bys

Food is a powerhouse of memory and emotion. Let it fulfill its destiny. Cook your grandmother's recipes for your kids. Try to re-create the perfect salad from the restaurant you splurged on, that last night of your vacation. Dip organic baby vegetables generously in the horrible/wonderful onion soup dip you secretly still love. (Share it with your friends—they love it, too, along with David Lebovitz and Kim Severson. Don't you feel so validated?)

10. Share Your Own Food-joy Wisdom with Your Friends

No, seriously. As always, we want to hear from you. If you're the type to think about your food and love it, too, how do you focus on enjoying good food without shouldering the weight of the world?

Let us know in the comments.