Saturday, August 21, 2010

In The Garden

It is totally cool to be able to toddle into the backyard and come back with dinner. THAT'S food security.

It seemed like it took forever for the tomatoes to set fruit. Now, the plants are loaded with fruits. I've been harvesting paste tomatoes for a while now, but no slicers. Yesterday I spied my first Cherokee Purple nearing ripeness (not pictured here). Woohoo! (Next year: blow off school and get the garden in on time!)

I've started planting the fall garden. This is broccoli. I have more to put in, but nowhere to plant it! Time to expand the garden again.

It will be a race to the finish to see if the melons have time to ripen. I was feeling pretty confident until today, when I noticed some kind of borer damage in the melon patch. Go melons, go!

These Echinacea have had a hard summer. Something has been eating the petals. This was actually the first time I saw them more with petals than without since I planted them in late spring.

Cozy Mystery Challenge Update

Knowing that I would have little to no time to read for pleasure come September, I jumped right into reading for this challenge. I've completed five of the six books so far- and enjoyed every minute of it!

All five books I've read have been by the same author, and from the same series. This is Louise Penny's Armand Gamache mystery series. All the books in this series are set in and around the cozy, if somewhat murder-prone, fictional village of Three Pines, Quebec, Canada. The first book in this series, Still Life, was Penny's debut novel. It was a strong start.

In all five books, Penny displays a great knack for describing the complexities of human feelings and motivations. She deftly illustrates how an individual can be both wonderfully good and startlingly bad. And she wraps these descriptions up in a package gilded with descriptions of scenes that paint a lifelike and charming picture of the fictional Three Pines community. I don't want to tell you what happens, or even tell you too much about the characters (and boy are they characters!). Suffice it to say that I think if you pick up Penny's books you will be pleasantly surprised. My only caveat is that I recommend starting at the beginning of the series in order to avoid prematurely learning things from books that occurred earlier in the series. In order, the series is:
Still Life
A Fatal Grace (US title)/Dead Cold
The Cruelest Month
A Rule Against Murder (US title)/The Murder Stone
The Brutal Telling

And, a sixth book, titled Bury Your Dead, is set to be released September 28. That's not quite enough time for me to finish the challenge, so I'll have to pick up a sixth book elsewhere (and my local library system just put out a list of recommended cozies- how convenient!). But I will definitely be looking for The Brutal Telling later this fall. For more info on the Cozy Mystery Challenge, click the bookshelf to the right in the sidebar.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Reinventing The Wheel

It's been a while since I've posted here. Life has been busy. And complicated. And challenging. I've started multiple blog posts, only to not quite be able to pull my thoughts together. Just too much happening all at once in my mind. Sometimes that's just how it goes.

On the up side, I've seen compelling evidence of the difference resulting from the dietary changes we've made, and that even The Boy, who has fought these changes at almost every step, is starting to appreciate the difference in how he feels- at least when he stops eating this way. That's worth a lot. And it's part of what pushed me over the edge to tackle another, long neglected, food goal. Tonight's dinner preparation was the first of the kids' cooking lessons.

Sometime back toward the beginning of this journey, the reality of my own spectacular lack of training in the "kitchen arts" sank in. It was an overwhelming realization to confront while also trying to radically change the totality of one's dietary habits. But it also made me cognizant of the need to prepare my children better than I had been prepared. Yet, being at the beginning of that journey myself left me frustrated and not ready to tackle teaching anyone else. The goal was shelved until recently.

I'm still learning how to cook with real ingredients rather than short-cut ingredients that are convenient but packed with stuff we shouldn't actually eat. I still get frustrated in the kitchen on a fairly regular basis. And, sadly, I still botch meals on a fairly regular basis. Fortunately, I have learned that thats's one of the lessons the kids need to learn- that developing cooking skills takes time. It takes trials and, inevitably, errors.

I had been getting frustrated with the restrictions on what I could prepare- not only from my own lack of knowledge, but due to the kids "won't eat" lists. And I had grown tired of complaints when things didn't go as planned in dinner preparation.

Finally, this combination of circumstances came together to push me to just jump in where I am and let the kids learn first hand the trials and tribulations of feeding your family. I feel like I'm reinventing the wheel. I know the knowledge to manage a kitchen well and prepare tasty wholesome foods is out there. I'm still working on tracking it down. But that's okay. We can learn together- and they can avoid waking up when they're pushing forty and realizing they don't know how to appropriately feed their bodies. It'll be an adventure. The kids will gain a useful skill. I'll gain a few nights off from cooking duty. And hopefully we'll all gain greater appreciation for each others efforts. Wish us luck on this new journey- we're going to need it!

How about you- have you taught your kids to cook? Do you have any tips to share?

This post is participating in Fight Back Friday, hosted by Food Renegade.