Tag Archives: Food

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Take Drazil Kids Tea Back to School and or on a Family Adventure

My whole family is thrilled that we found Drazil Kids Tea just in time to enjoy this summer and pack into healthy school lunches. Drazil is immediately, amazingly good! The flavors are fantastic. Anna instantly loved Grape Bliss. Each of the other flavors – Punch Passion, Tropical Burst, and Yummy Berry – was a favorite of other kid (and adult) testers. This tea is really good.

In addition to the fabulous taste, there are a lot of things for parents to be excited about when it comes to Drazil Tea. The portability is fantastic. We’ve already taken Drazil along on many bike rides and hikes. It is backpack- and lunchbox- ready.

Drazil Tea is also a healthy alternative to many juices and juice drinks. Drazil has 35% less natural sugars than 100% juice and half the calories of many juices and juice drinks. It’s sweetened with real fruit juices, rather than cane sugar. The teas are caffeine-free and contain lots of naturally occurring antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. The yummy taste comes from a unique herbal blend of Hibiscus, Rose Hips, Rooibos, Pomegranate, and fruit pieces. The teas are pasteurized and contain nothing artificial. All good!

We’re thrilled that we can find Drazil Tea throughout Northern California and on Amazon because we will be stocking up.

Enter the Giveaway

One lucky reader of this blog will win a variety pack of Drazil Kids Tea (32 boxes in 4 flavors). Follow the instructions in the widget below for your chance to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post is sponsored by Drazil Tea. The opinions expressed are my own.

Best (and Worst) Candy Heart Sayings of All Time

Iconic, goofy and sometimes romantic candy hearts from Necco are the second best selling Valentine’s Day candy, right behind chocolate. 8 billion little Sweethearts are produced each year. Their bright, chalky colors and pithy and sometimes irreverent candy heart sayings have been entertaining people and helping them declare love for 147 years, ever since the brother of the original Necco creator designed a machine that stamped words directly onto the candies with red vegetable dye. The original candies were large and had various shapes. When the company arrived at the small heart shape in 1902, the sayings got smaller to accommodate it.

Necco wafers themselves have been around 166 years and even accompanied two explorers on their expeditions (Admiral Byrd’s to the South Pole and Donald MacMillan’s to the Arctic) in addition to feeding the WWII troops. Necco’s wafers and sweethearts even survived a move to “healthier” flavors three years ago, which was thankfully scrapped.

 

I’ve watched the sayings get updated over the years, as new ones like FAX ME and  E MAIL ME came and went. New sayings in recent years include TEXT ME and TWEET ME (how long will these last?) as well as MY PET and U R HOT, as an addition to classics like SOUL MATE, SWEET PEA, SAY YES, TRUE LOVE and ALL MINE. Perennial favorites from the early years include BE MINE, BE TRUE, MARRY ME and KISS ME. The company adds about 20 sayings, out of 80, each year, so naturally some older ones are not going to make the new group. New sayings are often themed, like these pet-themed ones from 2007.

Some of my favorite new sayings over the past decade include HEART OF GOLD, MELT MY HEART, CLOUD NINE and HONEY BUN. A few that have bitten the dust, mostly because their lingo became dated, include DIG ME, HEP CAT, HOTCHA, SAUCY BOY and OH YOU KID.

However you express it, Happy Valentine’s Day!

Photos: Necco, The Fun Times Guide

Bonus Trivia Question: What does Necco stand for?

Answer: New England Confectionary Company

 

Read more:

History of Sweetheart Candies, Smithsonian Magazine

10+ Years of Conversation Hearts, Readers Digest

How Do They Get Those Tiny Words on Sweethearts Candies?, Time Magazine

17 Amazing Retired Sweetheart Candy Sayings, The Atlantic

New Sweetheart Candy Sayings by Year, Infoplease

Mixed Reviews for New NECCO Sweetheart Candy Flavors, Slow Family Online


Super Food for the Super Bowl

We love to gather family and friends for fun TV viewing events. This year’s Super Bowl match up between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens, February 3 in New Orleans, provides plenty of opportunities for hearty themed food to keep viewers satisfied.

Geographically Themed Food

Crab Cakes

In the Battle of the Bays, it’s the Chesapeake in Maryland that nets the crab for yummy Maryland Crab Cakes. These irresistible ones are from Paula Deen.

New Orleans chef Emeril Lagasse is no slouch in the crab cake department. His Chesapeake Bay Classic Crab Cakes use homemade mayonnaise for superb flavor. He also offers Crab Cakes with Roasted Corn and Tomato Salad. I love that combo!

Quaff some local beer with your crab cakes, such as Flying Dog, Union Craft, or National Bohemian (“Natty Boh” to the locals.)

Sourdough Bread

Sourdough bread was invented in San Francisco, and many say that because of San Francisco’s unique foggy weather, no other sourdough can quite match it. Sourdough is really fun to make with kids. Not only is the resulting bread chewy and delicious, the rising dough provides a fun-to-watch kitchen science experiment. Try this recipe for Sourdough Bread, and eat it the San Francisco way, by scooping out a “bowl” in a round sourdough loaf and filling it with clam chowder, cioppino (below, another San Francisco food), or your favorite soup.

In times past, bakers made sourdough starters (or mothers), some of which were passed from kitchen to kitchen to create the perfect bread. Here’s how to make your own  sourdough starter. Unlike the version, above, you don’t even need yeast! Learn how sourdough starters work.

Cioppino

San Francisco’s 19th century Italian fishermen gave us this dish, which is a melange of crabs, clams, mussels, shrimp, scallops, and other fish gathered from the bay and served in a tomato base. You can easily make a cioppino most anywhere with fish on hand.

Grab some beers from any of a number of San Francisco area breweries and microbreweries, such as Anchor Steam, Sierra Nevada, Lagunitas,

Read about more San Francisco native foods.

New Orleans Gumbo

I didn’t think I could mention Cioppino without summoning New Orleans Gumbo. If your taste runs to the rich and Cajun-spiced, this is your dish. Serve over rice, if you’d like. Try a chicken, sausage and seafood Gumbo from Paula Deen or this New Orleans Creole Gumbo from Epicurious that features crab and sausage.

New Orleans Beignets

I’m not sure how my family came to associate doughnuts with the Super Bowl. There have been years when we’ve gone out early Super Bowl morning to the best doughnut shops to procure them. As the sweet, doughy beignet is the doughnut of New Orleans, you might want to give this Beignet recipe from Southern Living a try.

Team Themed Food

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers get their name from the miners and others who swarmed into California just before 1849, at the discovery of gold and its promise of riches. Though the Gold Rush lasted just a few short years, it swelled the non-native population of California from 1,000 to 100,000 and made a few people rich — largely the merchants and others who sold goods to the 49ers, rather than the miners themselves. Because the 49ers loom large in the area’s history and imagination, you might want to invoke them at your Super Bowl Party.

Think “Chuck Wagon style” and serve hot dogs and beans, chili, or even Sloppy Joes in pie tins, a version of which the hungry miners would have eaten around a campfire. Add sourdough bread (above), cornbread, biscuits, chips, or goldfish crackers. Wash the food down with good ol’ sarsaparilla — known in these parts as root beer.

If you’d like, decorate your table with gold nuggets — paint small rocks with gold paint or glitter glue. Decorate your table or food in Niners colors, red and gold.

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens are a little tougher, as far as a theme goes. The team that reportedly got its name from Edgar Allen’s poem, The Raven, might inspire a dish with small foul, such as squab, quail, or chicken cutlets, like one of my favorite recipes, Chicken Cutlets with Raspberries, from the Silver Palate Good Times cookbook. (Frozen raspberries work as well as fresh.)

And if Ravens got you thinking about Blackbird Pie, you could make your own interpretation, and create a savory Chicken Pot Pie or a sweet Lattice-Top Blackberry Blackbird Pie from Paula Deen, in which the “bird” is merely decorative. The Baltimore Ravens’ colors are purple, gold, white and black.

Football Themed and Game Food

You didn’t think we were going to leave without presenting some football-themed food, did you? No matter who you’re rooting for, these are fun for any game day.

This impressive and super-fun football snackadium from Sunshine and Sippy Cups will feed a crowd.

I offer a wonderful guacemole recipe — my husband’s! — to use in your snackadium, or as a separate dip.

Soft pretzels are another Game Day crowd favorite. Kids love to make these, too. They begin, like the sourdough (above), by waiting for the dough to rise.

Looking for unusual and tasty cheese for the big game? Try Comte Raw Milk Gruyere, Hirtenkase, Coolea, Rolf Beeler

Need sweets? Decorate gingerbread or your other favorite cookies to make football cookies.

Both sides will be able to agree on these Double Chocolate Football Cupcakes from The Baker Chick.

Have fun enjoying enjoying an American pastime with family and friends. Go team!

Looking for more activity and game ideas for kids? See also:

Super Bowl Food and Games for Kids and Families, Chicago Now

How to Make Your Super Bowl Party Super Fun, Red Tricycle

 

 

 

Photos: Sunshine and Sippy Cups, Paula Deen, Romulo Yanes/Epicurious, Pillsbury, Sunshine and Sippy Cups, Morguefile, The Baker Chick

 

Make Yummy Desserts with Tillamook Yogurt

Ever since Tillamook introduced its regular and light yogurt, we’ve been eating it, well, almost as quickly as we eat Tillamook cheese. We recently decided to branch out from breakfast and check out some of the yogurt recipes on the Tillamook site. We were very glad we did!

My mom used to make yogurt pie, using a graham cracker crust. I so associate it with my childhood summers, and have made it for my family over the years. I was especially delighted to find this recipe for Yogurt Pie made with a shortbread crust and drizzled with melted chocolate. It’s delicious and kicks the traditional yogurt pie up a notch, while still being very easy to make.

Yogurts also make wonderful bases for smoothies and shakes. The Bronson Sunrise Smoothie is terrific in the morning, after a bike ride, or after school. We also like all these Shake recipes, which can be made in a blender to create a shake or a smoothie.

Tillamook yogurt contains no artificial sweeteners, no artificial flavors or colors, no high fructose corn syrup, and no artificial growth hormones.

Click the coupon below for “Buy one, get one free” Tillamook yogurt coupons.

Read my review of Tillamook yogurt flavors.

Tillamook provided sponsorship and coupons to facilitate this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Tillamook Yogurt: Spoonfuls of Flavor from Oregon Creamery

My whole family has been longtime fans of Tillamook cheese, especially sharp cheddar slices, which work really well for my daughter Anna’s favorite sandwiches. So we were naturally delighted to learn that Tillamook had branched into yogurt and that it was available in our local stores.

I bought a few different flavors and brought them home. In addition to cheese, I’m a longtime yogurt eater. (Never met a dairy product I didn’t like.) Anna and yogurt, however — that’s a different story. She never liked any yogurt I urged upon her (and there have been many.)

And then she tried Tillamook. And things changed.

What did she like so much? She and I both like the lowfat strawberry. (All the flavors we tried were lowfat.) The Oregon strawberry yogurt is very bright and full of sweet strawberry taste. It’s very pleasing and bound to be a kid favorite in many homes, just as it now is in our house.

The raspberry yogurt is also bright and fruity. The blueberry yogurt has a very nice distinctive  blueberry flavor, partly drawn from sweet bits of fruit. Mountain huckleberry boasts a big, dark berry flavor. We found the marionberry yogurt tasty and the most subtle of the berry yogurts.

French vanilla bean yogurt is also wonderful. The vanilla flavor is extremely smooth, distinct and tasty.

All the flavors and textures we tried were very kid-friendly — pleasing, full, a bit on the sweet side, and very yummy.

The Tillamook web site reveals 31 yogurt flavors in all, including lots of exotic ones that sound fun to try, such as strawberry lemonade, pomegranate blackberry, dark cherry, baked apple pie, and country orange cream, just to mention a few intriguing sounding ones.

Tillamook yogurts have a very smooth texture, with the fruit already mixed in.

All Tillamook yogurt contains no artificial sweeteners, no artificial flavors or colors, no high fructose corn syrup, and no artificial growth hormones.

Click the coupon above for a chance to win free Tillamook yogurt for 6 months.

Tillamook provided sponsorship and coupons to facilitate this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Empty Calendar, Full Days

Last weekend, we experienced one of the rarest of occurrences. There was not a thing on our family calendar. The coming weekend spread before us on paper, a completely blank pair of days. There were a couple of things we thought we might do. The annual Fall Arts Festival would be in our town, an unusually lovely art show with fine artists’ booths that wind along a path in a redwood grove. The Jewish New Year began Sunday night, and I knew I wanted to cook a special meal. But unusually, we had all of the two days and nights to leisurely do those things and whatever else struck us.

We rode bikes to the art show fairly early on Saturday. We immediately saw good friends and beautiful art and artists, some of which also appeared as old friends, as they’ve been happy fixtures at the Festival since we started attending 20 years ago, the very weekend we first moved to Mill Valley. The grove had the moist redwood-duff smell that I’ll always strongly associate with my first days here. Still other Festival memories? Being seven months pregnant and buying a backpack of books at the adjoining library sale and laughing that they were balancing me front to back, and taking Anna to the Festival the next year when she was almost a year old. (This picture was taken that day.)

This weekend, we joined younger families in taking in a sweet and magical marionette show (its qualities only enhanced by being performed in what is known as the “fairy ring” of redwoods). I marveled at how very enraptured and still the audience of small children was as they sat on their tarp and on tree stumps. Other talented friends of ours, father and daughter Austin and Caroline de Lone, sang and played a variety of instruments through a fabulous set to which other of our friends wandered over, lured by the beautiful music. We saw more friends and got into long, deep discussions under the trees.

The looseness of the day called for meandering. There was a bliss to the spontaneity and complete lack of schedule. We didn’t have to be anywhere else, then or later. Still later, we ran into another friend while buying food for a simple dinner and ended up inviting her over. This so rarely happens — people call first and plan and shoehorn events into busy schedules far in the future. And yet the way the whole day played out struck me as the way things are supposed to be. This certainly seemed like a way to build community, by taking the time to stop and engage with people we meet in our daily travels.

 

Sunday brought more relaxation. We read. Anna did homework and worked on her essays for college. We leisurely planned dinner and I went shopping and later made two of my favorite dishes, Chicken Marbella and honey spice cake. Michael made mashed potatoes. At one point Anna called our attention to colorful oak leaves that were falling and swirling in the wind outside, and we all talked about how much it looked and felt like Fall.

At dinner we talked about the New Year and the big change to come of college. We dipped apples in honey to signify a sweet new year. We lingered at the table an especially long time, precisely because we had time. We even cleaned up in a leisurely way.

While many people relish an empty calendar, still others are afraid when confronted with one. Both of these extremes should tell us something. Lots of us are so conditioned to being booked up that free time is a rarity, and sometimes even a burden. This weekend showed me that an empty calendar can result in exceedingly full and rich days.

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

 

Peter Rabbit Organics and Giveaway

Too bad Peter Rabbit Organics weren’t around when my daughter was little. We would have snatched the pouches up by the dozen. For starters, they’re delicious — extremely flavorful and unusually fresh tasting, not qualities normally associated with purchased baby food. They’re completely organic and contain 100% fruit or veggies — no added sugar, salt or artificial ingredients. The portions are generous – each pouch contains 70-85 calories and plenty of fiber and vitamins. The pouches are easy to use, either with a spoon or to eat directly from. They’re extremely portable and durable and don’t need refrigerating before opening. And, unexpectedly, you can even re-cap each BPA-free pouch and refrigerate to finish later. All good!

Our testers of all ages (kid to adult) enjoyed all 5 sample flavors. “Strawberry Banana” and “Mango, Banana and Orange” were exact blends of those ingredients, resulting in flavors that were very bright and evenly balanced. “Sweet Potato, Corn and Apple” had a deep and distinct sweet potato-and-apple taste, with a subtle hint of corn. Both squash and apple flavors came through nicely in the bolder tasting “Carrot, Squash and Apple” blend, with the carrot being exceedingly subtle. “Pea, Spinach and Apple” offered a nice taste appropriately dominated by fresh pea, with a hint of sweet apple. (We couldn’t taste any spinach, though we’re sure it was there!)

All the flavors we tasted were quite good. You’ll have to try a few to find your little one’s personal preference. (Older testers liked the fruit flavors and thought those would make good on-the-go snacks for sports teams.) Peter Rabbit Organics are available at lots of stores around the U.S. and online. (I also learned that the products are U.S.-made.)

I’m giving away a box with 12 assorted flavors of Peter Rabbit Organics, so that one lucky reader can try them, too! To enter, leave a comment on my blog and let me know what flavor you or your little one is most looking forward to trying. I’ll choose a computer-generated random winner. The giveaway closes Friday, March 9, Midnight, Pacific Time. Good luck!

Please note: Though I am occasionally sent products for review, I am not compensated, and reviews are honest, factual to the best of my knowledge, and my own.

Bake Your Own Soft Pretzels

My family has had the joy of folding and baking soft pretzels in the 150-year-old Sturgis Pretzel Factory in Lititz, Pennsylvania, the oldest commercial pretzel bakery in the U.S. There’s nothing quite like rolling and then shaping the pretzel dough into its classic shape, and then seeing it placed into giant brick ovens on large wooden boards, all in the stone basement of a building that dates back more than 200 years. Pretzels themselves date to 6th century Italy, say the folks at Sturgis, where monks molded them into the shapes of children’s praying arms.

Baking pretzels at home offers the same delights – the pleasure of working with dough, the wonderful way it smells when it’s cooking, and of course, that classic soft-pretzel taste.

You’ll need:

1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
1 ½ cups warm water (110° to 115°)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
8 cups water
½  cup baking soda
Coarse salt or mixture of equal parts cinnamon and sugar
Pat of butter, to grease bowl and dough
2 bowls, 1 greased
Towel
Saucepan
Paper towels and plate
Baking sheets
Cooling racks

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.

Add the sugar, salt and 2 cups flour and beat until smooth.

Stir in remaining flour to form a stiff dough.

Turn onto a floured surface and knead about 5 minutes until smooth.

Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top.

Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place about an hour, until doubled.

Punch dough down and divide into 12 portions. Roll each into thin rope (approx. 12”) and loop both halves up and back around to the middle to twist into a pretzel shape. Apply a little pressure to make the ends stick.

Preheat oven to 425.

In a large saucepan, bring water and baking soda to a boil. Place pretzels into boiling water, one at a time, flipping once, for 15 seconds on each side.

Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Place on greased baking sheets.

Brush with water and sprinkle with salt or cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on racks.

Yield: 12 pretzels

Gone: in about 2 hours

Photos: Susan Sachs Lipman

The Blessings of an Early Morning (with Biscuit Recipe)

I’m an early riser by nature, but lately I’ve been getting up especially early. I’m not sure why this is, though changing rhythms of self and season certainly play a part. It really feels like Fall now when the sun doesn’t rise until close to 7 am, and the mornings are fog-bathed, chilly and cozy. Though I relish bustling family time (and I sometimes wish I didn’t begin to yawn extravagantly by 10 pm or even earlier), there is something about being awake and alone in the quiet early morning hours that is extremely special, calm and naturally slow. The knowledge that the whole day is ahead, and one can be present for its entirety, lends a feeling of gratitude and fullness to the early-morning moments, a feeling that can too easily slip away as the day contracts and fills with busy-ness and chores.

I recently used an early morning to luxuriously pick up a sewing project – mending a pair of overalls for Anna – and bake biscuits, both of which I knew would surprise the family when they awoke. Like much handwork, running thread through a garment can be an especially calm and purposeful task. Filling the house with the smells of fresh coffee and biscuits tends to make early risers of others, too.

When Anna woke up and saw the biscuits, and especially her overalls, I got the biggest hug.

The biscuit recipe is adapted from Marcia Adams’ wonderful cookbook, Heartland, The Best of the Old and the New From Midwest Kitchens:

You’ll need:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold butter, cut into pieces
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400. In a food processor (or with a pastry cutter) combine flour, salt, sugar and baking powder. Drop in the butter and process until coarse crumbs form. Pour in the cream and process until just combined – do not overmix.

Transfer bowl to floured board and knead 6 turns. Pat or roll dough into a circle about 3/4 inch thick. Using a standard or other cutter, cut out biscuits. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet and back for 10-12 minutes or until golden.

Yield: Approximately 16 biscuits.

Enjoy your morning!

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Happy Bastille Day! Stir up a Pot of Ratatouille

Are you wondering how to use your abundance of mid-summer tomatoes and zucchini, and celebrate Bastille Day at the same time?

One word: Ratatouille.

This tasty, colorful melange never fails to summon summer, while providing a few helpings of vegetables or a fool-proof side-dish that works with fish, chicken, lamb, noodles, and more. It works great hot or cold, and keeps well, refrigerated, for about two  weeks. Ever since I first lived on my own in college, it has been the rare period when I haven’t made some.

Food historians generally date ratatouille to 18th century France, and to the area of Provence, and the town of Nice, in particular. Its name hails from the French verb, touiller, which means “to stir, mix, or toss”.

My own ratatouille has changed a lot since the days when I cut cubes of zucchini and eggplant and set them to boil in a pot of canned tomatoes. It’s as if the recipe itself has both mellowed and allowed for more complication, just as a good pot of ingredients, over time, coalesces into an especially flavorful whole. Diehard ratatouille purists may insist on sautéing each ingredient separately, but here you get the same effect, while also saving a little time.

6 Tbsp. olive oil, or more as needed
1 onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, pressed
3 bell peppers, in assorted colors, chopped
1 large eggplant, chopped
2 medium zucchini, chopped
2 summer squash, chopped
20 or so olive halves
2 14 oz. cans tomato chunks, or equivalent fresh tomatoes
2-4 tsps. each oregano and thyme
Feta or parmesan cheese, optional

Place eggplant pieces in a baking dish.

Toss in 4 Tbsp. oil and bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until soft.

Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in heavy skillet over medium high heat.

Add onions and sauté, turning occasionally, just until golden.

Add pressed garlic and sauté.

Mix in peppers, cooked eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, and olive halves.

Sauté whole for 10-15 minutes.

Add tomato chunks and spices and heat the mixture to just boiling. Reduce heat to medium and cook for another 5-10 minutes.

Serves 4-6 as a main course. The recipe can easily be halved or doubled. Serve plain, hot or cold, top with feta or a dry Italian cheese like parmesan, or spoon over pasta.

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

 

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