And So It Begins…

High school.

How did we get here so fast?

Parent orientation …. sigh.

Feeling all of the feels.

A little bit of yay us!

A big ole batch of tears (keeping those contained).

And a overwhelming amount of holy shit.

The beginning of the end.

Or at least the beginning of the end of this chapter.

Please fasten your seat belts kids. Remain seated with arms, hands, legs and feet inside the vehicle at all times.

Enjoy the ride!

Inspired By Hunger

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“Delicious.”

“Spectacular.”

“This is soooo good.”

If you’re thinking you’re going to score a great new recipe that was boy-pleaser, then let me bear the burden of your disappointment. They were marveling at their own creations… none of which had anything to do with my cooking.

Sigh.

The Man spent the day fulfilling baseball-head-coach, testosterone-filled, heavy-lifting duties while I got the short-end-of-the-stick, run-of-the-mill referee, maid, disciplinarian duties. Who’s the lucky one in this scenario???

And when it’s Sunday and The Man isn’t home – Mama doesn’t cook. I can’t give a good reason for this – I can give a reason, but definitely not a good one.

On this particular Sunday, I was also trying to rally the children to get ready for our upcoming ski trip. Which means laundry. Winter creates a never-ending laundry abyss anyway, but trying to get it all washed and folded and packed in the same day with no husband to help … you’re feelin’ me, right?

And I had to take them to the grocery store. The fun overfloweth!

The Bread Guy was grumping and pitched an eleven-year-old fit about something (you all know what I mean) so I left him home. Which left me with the 2 goofs. In the store. On a Sunday. Oh. My.

They decided on french bread pizzas for dinner. Super easy. More time for the other things that we needed to accomplish.

But wait!

No lunch. No laundry done. And computer games when we got home.

I decided that since they were going to do whatever they felt like, then I was, too. So, I made some delicious hazelnut snack bars (recipe forthcoming) and did a few other things in the kitchen before I was ready for a quick workout.

Yes, I deliberately set them up for failure. Because I am such an awesome mom.

You can imagine the rest of this little tale.

Hunger really is the Mother of Motivation.

They did everything to make their own dinners – unseasoned tomato puree and everything.

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If I would have made this, they would have complained about something: the way the bread was cut, the bland tomato sauce, the cheese that spilled over the edge and got crispy … but because they made, they loved it.

A secret was revealed to all of us this fine evening … when they help with MAKING food, they are more likely to EAT it.

“Awesome.”

Real Food. Modern Realities.

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Do you ever feel like you’re living with the Cleavers?

Me, neither.

(If you answered “yes,” then feel free to skip the rest of this post ’cause you’re livin’ the dream!  If you have no knowledge of the Cleavers, then you need to study up, friend.)

And we certainly don’t live in a world that is anything like it was when that show was popular.  Can you imagine June Cleaver with an iPad in her kitchen?  Hahahaha! Ha?

But wait … But stop and think about the food that she fed to Ward, Wally and the Beaver (and Eddie Hascal, of course).  I’m betting that it was a closer approximation to real food than anything served in most households today.  And I would also imagine that because it was a part of their culture, it was much easier to get fresh milk and local meats, fruits and vegetables than it is for most of us.

Of course, I do realize that this was, in fact, a television show.  It does, however, depict with some degree of accuracy, the general reality of life during that era, albeit with an overly dramatized glossiness.

Although we are not very far removed from the Cleaver decade, our reality has “advanced” so much more rapidly than similar passages of time throughout the course of history.  They had black-and white television and AM radio;  we have iPads, iPods, television in myriad forms, DVRs, Blu-Ray and on and on and on.  And while they had milk delivery and local farmers, we have GMO-laden milk, GoGurt, Skittles, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Funions, and McDonalds.

Frankly, I think I’d rather have to deal with the Beaver’s trouble-making than have to deal with the constant complaining that I get as a result of the overwhelming barrage of junk food that my kids come into contact with each day.

No matter how much we would like to insulate our children from all of that nastiness, they are so inundated with technology and well-targeted advertising that it’s nearly impossible to avoid.  Plus, if you are coming to the real food table as we are, with children who have already been directly exposed to junk food, it is difficult to divorce them from it.

And so, while I would sometimes like to live in a Cleaver-esque reality where I (as June) tell them in the most gosh, darn, aw-shucks way possible that they should really avoid those M&Ms and then they say “Gee, okay, ma” and happily run off to play outside, I do realize that this is but a dream.

I set out on this journey to get my kids eating fewer things out of packages and more things that come from my kitchen.  But I also recognize the realities of the world in which we live – a world that includes lots of things that I would prefer that they never experience, but that experiencing these things is a consequence of their reality. I don’t want them to ever feel ostracized or deprived because I don’t allow them things that other children are allowed, but at the same time, I want to educate them so that they are capable of making intelligent choices when I kick ’em out into the cold, cruel world and they are forced to navigate these waters on their own.

So, we make compromises.  We have Dunkin’ Donuts.  We indulge at the county fair.  We go out for ice cream.  I don’t freak out if someone gives them a handful of Skittles.  We also stay away from fast food.  We try to eat out in places that serve locally sourced food or, at the very least, places that make an effort to be real.

And I have learned to be okay with that.  We do the best that we can, keeping in mind the reality of our reality.

Even if it’s nothing like the Cleavers!

Coconut Oil Popcorn

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I know what you’re thinking.  “What on earth is THAT, Tracy?” (Pardon the poor shot quality – my dad was helping his girl out and took this for me.)

Well, friends, that is the best popcorn pot on earth.  You see, popcorn was a staple in our house when I was a kid.  And this is the pot that my mom has used for as long as I can remember.

This pot has likely cranked out millions kernels of deliciousness over the years.  I’m not sure what we ingredients we used before I had memory, but when Orville Redenbacher came out with his specially-formulated butter-flavored popcorn oil, that became our go-to.  Combined with his big ole tub o’ corn, we were a full-on Redenbacher house.

Ah, fond, GMO-free memories. So beautiful…

And then there was the great topping debate.  Redenbacher’s butter-flavored salt or McCormick’s Season-All?  I was always on team butter.  I think as time passed, I became its lone member.

After I left the nest, I married a man who does not share my love of the popped corn.  I would make it and he would nibble here and there, but he just wouldn’t eat it by the handful – as it is truly meant to be eaten.  There’s something about the popcorn experience that requires someone with whom to share it.   And so, my popcorn eating days waned.  And over time, they disappeared altogether.

Makes me a bit sad, really, to consider my sacrifice.  All those years with no popcorn.  Years, friends, that I can never get back…Sniff…Sniff.

When my children arrived, they fell in love with the bagged cheese popcorn.  Smartfood (a puzzling moniker as it is in fact, not smart food).  It wasn’t a regular thing, though.  No matter how far we fell down the processed food hole, there was always something about powdered cheese that didn’t sit well with me.  I mean, think about it, how do you turn a brick of cheese into powder?  It just isn’t right, friends.  But my kids loved it.  Mr. Selective could probably have eaten an entire Costco-sized bag in one sitting, had I let him.  And he flat refused to eat any popcorn that wasn’t fully cheesed-up.

Until, that is, I formulated this most awesome, deliciously perfect, you-could-eat-an-entire-potful-in-one-sitting recipe for popcorn.  Mr. Selective can’t get enough.  And even He Who Doesn’t Like Popcorn has been known to indulge when I make it.  Which is, sadly, not as often as it used to be.

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And fortunately, it is ever so simple.

Coconut Oil Popcorn
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • ½-1 Tbsp ghee
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • ½ c. non-GMO, preferably organic, popping corn
Instructions
  1. Drop oil and a few kernels into the bottom of a heavy-duty stock pot (I use a 6qt) .
  2. Heat on medium to medium high, with pot lid cracked to let out steam. I have read that some cover the pot with aluminum foil and poke holes in the top. You can if you want, but that makes the next step a bit trickier.
  3. When the few kernels start to pop, dump the rest of the popping corn in and shake the pot so that the kernels evenly cover the bottom of the pan and are fully coated in oil.
  4. Make sure that you lift the lid slightly and leave it cracked for the duration of popping.
  5. When the popping begins to slow, turn the stove off. I usually leave the pot on for about 30 more seconds and then move it to a cool burner until the popping stops.
  6. Dump popcorn into a bowl and season as you like. We like ours served simply, with just a little pink salt.

No go forth and pop some corn!

And try to resist the temptation to keep the whole bowl for yourself.

Because the popcorn experience really is meant to be shared.