Friday, September 30, 2011

Apple season around the corner.

There is a sense around here that fall is coming. It is only 100 degrees today so I am almost giddy. I have faith that someday we will be able to pull out the hoodies and play outside for more than a half hour at a time. It will happen! That means, apple season, pumpkin pie, holidays! Hooray!

A couple weeks ago, we were up at the cabin and the apples were ripe for the picking. It had been a couple years since we have had good apples due to the frost and Elk. The kids were busy gathering bags full to take home to munch. We needed to use them up fast so we ate lots and lots of apple dishes: Apple crepes, apple muffins, apple crisp, apples and peanut butter, apple sauce, etc. I still had a big bag full so I did the lazy girls version of canning; my favorite.

I used my handy apple corer/peeler and in minutes had those apples in cute little rings. Immediately they were dunked in a bowl with half water, half apple juice (no sugar variety) and about 8 drops of lemon oil (essential oil) to keep them from turning brown. As I would peel/core the apples, I would put them in the bowl. This way , they were kept from turning brown while I was getting the whole batch done. 

After the bowl was filled. I gently put them in quart freezer bags, making sure that there was a some juice in each bag so that they were not exposed to air. I would seal them up tight so there were not any air pockets and into the freezer they went. I always have a backup plan in case we all loose power , long term and my freezer food storage would spoil. I have a 3 burner camp stove with 4 extra propane tanks filled and ready to used. I have lots of mason jars and  good pressure cooker/canner. I would can them immediately so then they could go on the shelf. Same thing for the meats in the freezer. I prefer to have my food frozen, not canned so I usually go for the freezer first with the canning back up plan. When I run out of room in the big freezer, I opt for canning but I haven't been that good lately to stock up as I should. Hopefully I will be better the rest of the year!

These apples are great to pull out to use for waffle and crepe toppings or apple crisp. I love that they aren't in a syrup to ruin the nutritional quality. Apples are sweet enough. They don't get mushy if you use good apples.

Until next Wednesday, October 5th, Organic apples are on sale for $.99 per pound at Sprouts. Great time to get your apples stash going!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Now that I am 17 1/2 years into child rearing and into my second year of teaching those cute little chubby fingers in my preschool classes; I have some opinions about early education. Now, granted, this is my opinion so take it for what may but there are probably a few out there who may also agree with me. This opinion probably has changed a bit over the years and really takes watching your first born go from womb to graduation. Watching my children's journey in education has inspired me in my preschool teaching and what these little ones really need to succeed in their primary education.

Everyone will learn their ABC's at a certain time in their life, barring disabilities of course. They will be able to count to 20, recite their colors and label shapes. It will happen if they aren't already there by 3. So many measure their little ones success and intelligence by what they know at 3 and worry way too much if those milestones aren't met. What I have learned is that the pre-school years should be focusing on getting ready to learn. Of course, learning academia at this age is also important but a huge focus should be on learning how to learn.

For instance, if a child lacks obedience for authority, ability to hold still and focus or inspiration to learn, they won't be nearly as teachable. If a child is allowed to run the show and dictate their every wish; that will carry into their education. If they lack manners or social skills, education and friendships will also suffer.
Therefor, these early "pre-school" years should be focused heavily on shaping these little primary students to be. If they come out of it knowing how to read ahead of the game and are the smartest cookie in the class; great! However, the most important thing is that they are ready to learn. They become ready to learn by holding still when it is required, being polite, respecting authority, being attentive, being obedient. When these are mastered, everything else will fall into place. Not everyone is a rocket scientist. We all come with different levels of intelligence but social skills and manners will make up the difference. Guaranteed.

Teaching these skills takes patience and diligence. It means not letting the little ones run the show. It means not giving up when it doesn't go smoothly. This can be done in a sweet but firm manner. I run my preschool like this and somehow, they all love me despite my rules. I expect them to listen, to be polite and to follow the rules of kindness. It is a learning process so it does take repetition. So many times it is easier to let the little ones get what they want so we don't have to endure the fight but this will only carry on to bigger things in life. You need to nip it in the bud early on.

I get to see lots of little personalities. I get warned by moms of their child's precociousness and stubbornness. I sort of like these challenges. It really doesn't take very long to get them in the groove of things. They learn the rules quite well since there really isn't an option for them. It can be done without time outs and belittling. 

Every child is different. Some are born with more ants in their pants than the others. Every mom can testify to that. However, I am a firm believer that each and every one of them can learn all the skills they need to be successful in the classroom. That is true for the typical child as well as those with special needs. Just a little more patience is involved. This must start in the home as early as can be. Children really do best with rules. 

For me, I feel that if my preschoolers graduate from my class with nothing else than learning to sit still when asked, saying "please" and "thank you" without being prompted, sharing and being kind to each other, respecting my authority and following the rules; my job has been done. Of course, it is great if they can learn the basic preschool academia as well but that is done over and over again the next few years of school.

Just my thoughts but for my children, I think this has worked. Even my little Tater with autism is an extremely obedient little one for his teachers. Not always for mom but he respects his teacher. He follows rules like their wasn't an option. I know by learning this early, this principle has blessed my children's lives. I thank the teachers who have persisted to teach this to my children and have not let them get away with things. I thank the teachers who have made learning fun and creative. 

Children need to be inspired and that means they need to be allowed to be creative and hands on. Just one fun thing before I end this sermon ; the picture above is something we do often for snack time. Toothpicks; love them! It makes snack time fun and educational. On this day, I gave them toothpicks, Cheerios and raisins. We were learning patterns so I would tell them how many cheerios and raisins to pattern. They loved it and it was much more entertaining than writing it out on paper. It also teaches them to sit and focus and to develop a better pincher grip. Just a little idea to pass along.

Thanks for listening.

P.S. I have ordered some extra immune boosting supplements and allergy pills for those who missed my order today. First come, first serve.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Tour

I am simply in love with the Queen Creek Olive mill. After years of wanting to go take the tour, I finally did with my hot date and we both fell in love with it all. This mill is truly a "5 star" establishment and sticks to the Enlightened Homemakers strict guidelines for acceptable foods. I learned so much about the process of making olive oil and what true, good olive oil is about. I learned that "light Olive Oil" in the stores is the worst of it all; the garbage oil. So many think that means low calorie. Stay away from that. You want Extra virgin, expeller pressed and from the Olive Mill if you can! (you out of towners can order from them).

First,  I must tell you a bit about the great people who brought this to us. The owner, Perry, had a lucrative auto parts business in Detroit (I think it was there?) and decided to retire from it and do something different with his life. He had a gaggle of kids and wanted them to learn something new. He had farmer stock in his family and decided that would be a good venture. Now, he did what I want to do in the worst way ever. He yanked those kids from their home and moved them far away to become farmers. He decided on olive trees and before he knew it, he was making some amazing olive oil that fine restaurants were begging for. Today, he is on top of his game with some of the best oil in the world. I will leave the rest for you to learn about. My dream is to have a plot of land, away from the worldly things of this life (not too far), away from chaos and rush of life and to have my hands in dirt and up to my elbows in canning and homemaking. I love that this man had a dream and went with it. I love that he makes quality and does not , at all cost, cut corners jeopardizing it.

Back to the olive oil; these trees are grown under sustainable farming. No pesticides, no waste. They use the left over olive pulp for mulch. They press the oil using the best possible techniques so you get all the flavor and all the nutrition. Perry hand makes all the oil blends with his amazing touch. If you go, you get to sample them all. I had the chocolate olive oil drizzled on my roasted banana gelato. Heavenly. I had an amazing roasted veggie foccacia sandwich and their homemade prickly pear lemonade. I wish you could have all joined me. 

The Backyard Farmer just delivered the Garlic Olive Oil to me from the Olive Mill and I can't wait to use it tonight. This is going to be an expensive new hobbie!

Anyways, I simply love how there is still quality in this life. I love that people find passions and go for their dream. I love that kids are learning to work hard. I love that there are people like Perry in this world and I so hope that I can meet him soon. (Anyone at the Olive Mill reading may hook me up anytime. I will do dishes or shovel olive manure; whatever it takes)

Hope you all can take the tour. It is a great date. Go in October and you will get to actually see the whole process as it will be harvest time. It really is fascinating and makes you appreciate food. We are so detached from our food. If we saw how things were made or grown, we would be much more picky about what we eat. I now will only be able to use this Olive Oil. I am spoiled on the good stuff. It is rough being a foodie.

**P.S., you can still get the Groupon for $18 that is good for two tours, two gourmet sandwiches and two drinks. Super great deal:
Olive Mill Groupon

Friday, September 9, 2011

My new addiction....

I don't know how I have survived this long on my culinary journey without the encounter of these delectable oils of splendor. Honestly. How did I not splurge before now? This was my first lot of Gourmet olive oils from our very own Olive Mill in AZ. I came home with 3 oils and one vinegar. I will be going back very soon. I will not rest until I own them all. I started with Blood Orange, lime, rosemary and the pomegranate vinegar. I opened the blood orange and really could have drank it. It was amazing. If you haven't tried fresh pressed olive oil, you have no idea what you are missing. It has a whole different taste to it. I drizzled it on my cantaloupe with a little chopped mint. I then put some of the blood orange and pomegranate vinegar together for a salad dressing. Nothing else needed. The rosemary vinegar was half gone after my Sunday dinner. I rubbed a whole chicken with the oil and put some rosemary and thyme sprigs in the cavity. I tossed the new potatoes with the rosemary oil along with  the roasted vegetables. Divine!! The lime oil was used in my veggie fajitas. 

You can get some of this delicious oil at the Langley's market on Guadalupe just west of Higley (click here) or at the Queen Creek Olive mill (click here). Did you know they have some of the best olive oil in the world? Even better than Italy? So I am told and now believe. The Olive Mill has an oil of the month club that I am itching to join...just for fun! You can also get some of this oil delivered right to your house from the Backyard farmer along with some local produce. (click here) I just ordered up some roasted garlic olive oil with my Backyard Farmer order next week. Can't wait for Wednesday. The jalapeno olive oil will be on next weeks order, ooooh and the Backyard Farmers fresh cranberry beans and sweet peppers; a lovely pair!

It is so nice to be able to completely season your food with just a little drizzle of olive oil and vinegar. They even have a chocolate vinegar. Not sure about what to do with that one yet....strawberries? 

****Supplement and oil orders are due Monday. B complex, D3, Spice of Life, C? Stay healthy this year!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sprouts deals for the week.....

Yipee! Sprouts has organic green grapes on sale for $1.49 per pound right now. Doesn't get better than that! Great time to stock up and freeze them. They taste like candy when frozen.

They also have Organic Pluots for $.99 per pound, also great to freeze and put in a smoothie. 

Their organic So Delicious Dairy free ice cream is 2/$7.

Neti pot, aka, the Nasal Cleansing Pot is $12.99. This is a great thing to have on hand for the upcoming flu and cold season to flush out the gunk.

Their whole , seedless watermelon's are $1.49! 

Sale prices are good until the 7th.