Sunday, July 28, 2013

go West young men.... and enjoy your mama's baked (not fried) fritters before you go

We made it to WY! After a completely hellacious day of travel (you can't make this stuff up: not one but two broken planes...four airports...connections missed...lost luggage...and a generous wrangler willing to come fetch us at our final (rerouted) destination late, late, late at night-- or was it morning?), waking up on an electric blanket this morning to the sound of the creek racing by our cabin window was sheer bliss. We were back at HF Bar.

My kids had their boots and hats on by 6am, and were reacquainting themselves with all of the memories of last summer. (And yes, the (infamous, chick magnet) leather vest was fetched from the dress-up trunk before we departed CT.)

After a breakfast hearty enough for a cowboy, we headed off on what will be our horses for the week, and my heart swelled as my 6-year-old confidently maneuvered an animal several times his size, and my two boys chattered away confidently, even though they hadn't been up on horses since last summer on the ranch.  

We took in vistas, so magnificent and calming.

Then, of course, my kids got back to their normal brotherly antics. Some end better than others.

There is no wifi here, except in a little corner of the long covered porch. So, I don't think I'll be touching base again this week. Instead, I've got a pile of books I can't wait to delve into.*

But,  don't you worry. I won't leave you empty handed when it comes to a quick and easy cooking project for the week. Before I left CT, I shared a fabulous recipe with Walter Stewart's Market that you really must check out (click here for the recipe) if:
a) you're long on zucchini;
b) you're looking for another veggie recipe your whole family will enjoy; or
c) you want to start cooking ahead before you hit the ground running with a new school year.

Here's the recipe in pics, and a few notes. First, to shred large quantities of veggies, I use the shredder attachment on my Cuisinart, though you could always do it by hand if you'd like.

Placing the veggies in a colander

and pressing them with a few paper towels will help remove excess liquid.

Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty...

that's the best way to make sure the ingredients are well-combined. This time, I made the fritters using gluten-free flour (Bob's Red Mill brand) because I get a lot of questions about whether a recipe of mine will work if friends make it gluten-free. Totally worked. Delicious. Couldn't tell the difference.

As far as size goes, you can make the fritters any size. Big, small, up to you. Sometimes I make them appetizer size, but this time I made big ones-- perfect to pass to the backseat as an afternoon snack.

Another quick note: I tried baking this batch two ways, on a rimmed baking sheet drizzled with olive oil (pictured above) and without oil on parchment paper. Both ways worked perfectly, but you don't get the crispy outer edge if you go the parchment route. For the ones I was planning to give to the kids, I went the parchment route-- less mess. (As if that really matters, given the nasty state of my backseat...)

I listed a bunch of toppings on the recipe over on our local market, Walter Stewart's website. On the ones pictured above, I simply mixed Greek yogurt with sriracha (in ratios to get to the flavor I wanted). Later in the week, I simply drizzled them with hot sauce. And one day I gave the kids ones (quickly heated about 10 minutes, straight from the freezer) for breakfast, topping with maple syrup. Any way you top these, they're a delicious recipes, and one of my favorite summer make-ahead ones. Hope you all like them as much as we do! If you have any questions about the ingredients or method, just leave me a comment below. I'll happily get back to you after our week at the ranch!

* P.S. If you're looking for your next great read, here are some that I've recently enjoyed... and here's what I look forward to reading. August is always a big reading month for me, as I switch from chauffeur mode to vacation mode. And for those of you will 10ish-year-olds, I've also kept a running list of books my older son has read and enjoyed, and ones he's checked out of the library or added to his wish list. Like the blog, these Pinterest pages started out as a way of trading ideas with friends... and the rest is history.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

getting my groove back

Well, this is embarrassing. You'd think I'd be checking in, after my few week break from blogging, feeling all relaxed and svelte. Nope. See, even though I took a few weeks to dial things back and prioritize spending quality time with my family, that was only half of what I needed to do to feel swell. I know the food part is important. Of course, I know this. Sometimes {achem} it just takes takes my shorts getting snug to remind me that I need to pay attention to what I am eating. Either I can admit that, or I can give the dryer stink eye... even if the dryer settings haven't changed in the past month.

So, what happened? Well, let's see... I started the summer off with too many balls in the air, and between (the craziness of) day camp shuttling and lots of afternoon activities, the heat of the summer (which makes this CA girl absolutely wilt), a few work projects, the bevvy of normal home/mom responsibilities, and seemingly 'no time' to shop, we ate out too many nights. Don't get me wrong, eating out is fun. I love it.

As a family, we frequent local Mexican, Indian, Korean, Thai and Japanese places that whip up meals different than those I make at home. The problem with eating out is that you don't really know what the ingredients are in your meals... and then there's the cocktail (or two...) that always seems a part of a meal out. And while the notion of having someone else cook/serve/clean up is hugely appealing to me as a busy mom, it's time that I take my own advice so I don't feel like a sausage stuffed in casing come August.   

I am determined to get back on track, but this is going to take a little more organization/planning than I'm used to, if I am going to keep all the balls in the air, be present for my family, and take care of myself. I have a wealth of amazingly delicious-- and simple-- recipes here on the blog, in my head, and filed away in notebooks. My goal is to create a simple program for myself so I can easily stay on track. As I muddle through this 'return to swell', I am taking copious notes. If it works, I look forward to sharing my plan, recipes and tips with all of you! How does that sound? Have you gotten yourself in a similar rut this summer? Leave me a comment and let me know your biggest stumbling block to eating well when you're super busy. I'd love to hear I'm not alone... and please do share any tips you may have for getting back on track! Together we can do this!!