s’mores granola bars

s'mores-granola-bars-tx

I posted these scrumptious looking things on Babble.com today, and wanted to be sure you all got a look at them here first. I made these with the sole purpose of creating granola bars that taste like s’mores. They’re very chewy, and very messy, and I think you and your kids will love every bite.

I started with a blend of five rolled grains I found at my local health food store. I would have used plain oats, but since no one in our house is allergic to wheat, I thought the addition of some other rolled grains would give us added health benefits, not to mention help them taste more like graham crackers.

ziti with zucchini and sausage

ziti-with-lemon-and-sage-tx

It’s been awhile since I have posted anything in the well-fed section. I have been blogging with Babble.com so much that I feel like I’ve gained ten pounds, so  Plus, my last several entries here have been a long list shameless desserts.

Anyway, I thought it was high time I posted something we ate for dinner around here. This pasta dish was something I came up with from stuff I had in the fridge, and I must say I was a bit unimpressed with it at first, but the more I sampled, the more I loved it. I used some zucchini someone gave me from their garden and some chicken and apple sausage I had in the freezer. I thought these flavors seemed very fall-ish and wonderful, so to them I added some fresh sage.  However, since it’s still hot here, and I’m not quite ready to curl up by a fire, I thought I’d add a dash of lemon to keep the dish bright.

One thing I want to mention: tomorrow I will be on AmberLee’s The Giver’s Log blog for a bit. So stay tuned, and I’ll give you the link when it’s up!

katie brown and a splendid cause.

blackberry-tart

I live in the middle of a desert, with endless weeks stretching ahead before I can reasonably hope for a cool breeze.  And yet, today, the heavens winked in my direction.  It rained in torrents for at least an hour and swept in a cool dry breeze.  I felt for the remainder of the afternoon, that I was living one of the lovely summer days we have on occasion in Massachusetts.

To add pleasure to perfection, I had the opportunity to interview Katie Brown of PBS’s The Katie Brown Workshop on the phone today.  She is incredibly real, funny, and open, and loves so many of the same things I love. It was like talking to a best friend, or even a sister.

At one point in our chat, she described one of her viewpoints as sounding “traditional and geeky.” We must be kindred spirits.

She is in New York this week, promoting a campaign sponsored by Splenda to donate $50,000 to Meals on Wheels, plus an extra $5,000, in what they are calling the “Apple Pie Initiative.  Since the Fourth of July, Katie, Splenda, and Meals on Wheels teamed up to deliver thousands of slices of pie to some of the nation’s hungry.

If you would like to help with this cause, you can participate by sending slices of virtual pie to your friends on facebook. If 25,000 pie slices are sent through cyberspace by Labor Day, Splenda will donate an additional $5,000 to Meals on Wheels. So don’t hesitate to create a virtual pie, and send it along to all your friends  (By the way, that blackberry mascarpone tart, is my little virtual pie for all of you, and if you want the recipe, click here).

After a long day of being on Good Morning America, and attending to other business in the media, she was kind enough to let me interview her on the phone. I confess it felt less like an interview, and more like we were gabbing on a lunch break.

We talked about Meals on Wheels first, a charity that delivers food to people who are sick or living in shelters, and seniors with limited mobility. She discussed how happy it makes her to get behind a cause she believes in so strongly.

She loves what her friend Mario Batali says—that hunger is the one disease we can cure.

After we discussed the important business, we got to talking about all kinds of things.  I’ll share a few of the things that stood out, since if I tell you everything, I’ll be typing all night.

Katie grew up in Michigan, and one of the things she relishes most about her childhood is the time she spent outdoors in the “Four seasons of beautifulness” that was all around her there.  She said her connection to Mother Nature and the earth gave her grounding and a centeredness.  She hopes she can pass on a similar love of nature to her daughters.

She wants to teach her children to dream big, lofty dreams, to take a big bite out of life, and not be intimidated, yet at the same time maintain a sense of being in the world but not of the world.

Katie has had several cookbooks published and said it is her favorite thing she gets to do in her career.

As talented a chef as she is, what I love about her is she is quick to share she isn’t above taking shortcuts to get dinner on the table. She loves things like bagged salad and coleslaw mix.

She has inspired me to be more organized. She was not born organized (like me), but says how essential it is to being a successful working mom.

Katie is one of those people who has gained wisdom through striving to have a fully realized life. Now if I could just spend the next few years as her shadow, I could learn all I need to know.

reaping the benefits.

garden-tx

My family moved to Massachusetts when I was six, and after awhile, my parents would chide my brother and me for being “afraid of getting our hands dirty.” Prior to that, we lived in rural Connecticut and practically lived in the dirt.  Josh and I made countless mud pies, roasted marshmallows in the back yard, picked huckleberries in the woods, and spent all our time outdoors.

I am sad sometimes that my own kids aren’t as lucky to grow up where I did. Even after we moved to Massachusetts, we still roamed the woods and spent a lot of time outside. We always spent part of the summertime pacing beaches, looking for shells and sea glass.

Lately, I have been looking for ways to help my kids “get their hands dirty.”  I want them to learn the value of hard work. To know what nature is, and to feel comfortable there.

So when my friend left me in charge of picking the vegetables and berries from her garden while she and her family is on vacation, I jumped at the chance.  She is a wonderful gardener (as opposed to me, who believes in gardens but have never successfully grown anything for longer than three weeks).  I wanted to teach my kids how fun it is to be in the soil, to have the satisfaction of picking a perfect berry, or an enormous squash (and as I said, they would never know that satisfaction if it it’s up to me).

She warned me it would be a hard job. But I can’t see how sneaking around in someone else’s neatly planted rows of cucumbers, blackberries, currants, zucchini, and tomatoes—at liberty to pick whatever I want like it’s a produce shopping spree—could be difficult, much less fair.

garden-montage

I’ll admit, it gets a bit hot out there, and one of the kids got stung by a bee (remedied quickly by the remaining drop of hydrocortisone cream in our first aid kit), but overall, it’s been fun. The kids have loved getting their hands dirty. Yesterday they had their own game of whose tomato/blackberry/green bean tasted best. The winner was awarded another tomato/blackberry/green bean.

I have been posting recipes throughout the week on babble. Be sure to take a peek at the blackberry soup, fresh tomato sauce, and zucchini cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting.

And a HUGE thank you, JoLene. This has been fantastic.