October 2011 - Posts
When my family sits down outdoors on a warm summer evening
to a dinner that includes fresh corn, tomatoes from the garden and fresh peach
salsa over grilled salmon, everything just seems right. Having that bounty of
fresh, local food gives me comfort. I know where everything on that plate comes
from, that the gardeners and farmers who grew it are part of my community. It
all just feels right. I sure wish I could recreate some of that feeling of
security - not to mention the taste - in, say, the middle of January when the
dark, damp dinnertime offers none of that summer warmth.
This year, I will. Thanks to a few extra hours in the
kitchen this fall, I have a larder full of sweet local corn, Eastern Washington
peaches and spicy peach salsa. On top of all the canning, I froze about two
dozen full ears of corn on the cob just for the fun of gnawing its buttery
goodness on a chilly winter eve. In the next couple of weeks, I'll trade some
of our 30 cans of corn to a friend for this season's tomatoes and beans.
Then, some rainy night in January (and December, February
and March) I'll scamper out to the grill to cook up a salmon fillet and my
family will get to recreate that summer meal, albeit without the warm outdoors
Full disclosure: all canning is not created equal. Some
foods are a snap, others take some work. Peaches, for instance, are easy. Drop
them in boiling water for a few seconds, pop the skin off, quarter them and
you're ready to put them in jars with a little sugar water and seal them in
your canner. Corn, on the other hand, takes more effort: shucking, blanching, cutting
kernels off the cobs before you put them up in cans. I did 60 ears this year
and spent about 6 hours in the process. Not an eternity, but not anything,
So, sure, there are easier ways. At least easier in the
sense that you don't have to work as hard in your kitchen. But, like so many
items of convenience, there are hidden costs. Take corn. Most of what you buy
off a shelf or from a freezer is not from around here. In fact, much of it,
even organic corn, is grown in China or Mexico. Which is fine, I suppose. But
it does mean that after it is processed by machines and low-wage labor, it is
propelled by petro-fuels around to world to get to you. You know, it's a cost.
I'd argue there's another cost, too. Call it a psychic
opportunity cost. There's just something fulfilling in popping the lid off a
jar of food that you had a hand in preserving. You planned for this moment. You
put your own effort and love into the jar along with the vegetables. You can
taste those things along with the goodness of the food. It's worth it to warm
up the dinner table on a drizzly winter's night.
Please share your comments about this
recent article in Sunday's New York Times
A Silicon Valley School That Doesn't Compute
featuring the Waldorf School of the Peninsula, located 35 miles south of San
" The chief
technology officer of eBay sends his children to a nine-classroom school here.
So do employees of Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo and
Hewlett-Packard. But the school's chief teaching tools are anything but
high-tech: pens and paper, knitting needles and, occasionally, mud. Not a
computer to be found. No screens at all. They are not allowed in the classroom,
and the school even frowns on their use at home."
The article focuses in large part on the
issue of technology in schools, as well as specifically on how Waldorf schools
instead engage students in learning through physical activity and creative
hands-on tasks. The author writes, "Schools nationwide have rushed to
supply their classrooms with computers, and many policy makers say it is
foolish to do otherwise. But the contrarian point of view can be found at the
epicenter of the tech economy, where some parents and educators have a message:
computers and schools don't mix....The Waldorf method is nearly a century old,
but its foothold here among the digerati puts into sharp relief an intensifying
debate about the role of computers in education."
Our family loves Halloween.
We love the costumes, the decorations, the running around the
neighborhood after dark on a school night.
Really. But then, at the end of
the night, comes the pile of individually packaged, high fructose corn syrup
laden, tooth decay promoting Halloween candy-and that I do not love.
But I gave out candy last year. And tho' I hate to admit it, odds are, that's
what I'll be giving out this year too. I
know it's not healthy for my kids or the planet--I've been to www.GreenHalloween.org. But despite all that inspiration, I still
haven't kicked the candy habit. And
neither have most of my neighbors.
Oh there are mavericks out there. One friend gives out Halloween pencils,
another doles out balloons. Someone in
our neighborhood hands out dental floss every year.
But whenever I suggest that our family too could celebrate
Halloween with healthier, more sustainable, non-candy treats; my children wail
Kids: "NOOOOO!!! It's HALLOWEEN! Candy is the whole POINT of Halloween. No one wants to get dental floss."
Me: "Okay, I
understand about the dental floss. But
what about something fun like cool erasers or seashells or pinecones spray
The kids hold firm. "No Momma," they
say, casting a withering look my way.
Which is strange because almost all of their candy goes to
the Sugar Ghost. This benevolent
creature lives on Halloween candy and needs to gather all its food for the year
in one night. If you leave candy for it
at the foot of your bed on Halloween, it will leave a magical present as
But I digress.
My kids don't' really like candy all that much, but they are
adamant about tradition and not being "weird."
How to overcome their resistance-and let's face it, mine as well? Because indeed there is a small, secret part
of me that looks forward to a stash of leftover candy bars
This year, we'll go slow and try mixing glass pebbles in
with our usual "treats." It's not a
break with tradition, just offering a choice.
Like having a vegetarian entrée alongside the turkey at Thanksgiving.
After all, we've learned to love our alternative fuel car,
and their alternative education. Surely
we could all learn to love alternative Halloween treats as well.
By Sarah B. Weir, a Yahoo
I recently read this article and found it eye opening about the
world of social media for our girls. I wanted to share with all of you and hear
what you think. My daughter feels pressure to own a phone, have an email and
engage in the social realm through technology---after reading this article I feel
even more compelled to protect her from social media for as long as possible.
Its 10 pm, do you know
where your children are? Whether at home or out, odds are they are online and
social networking. Even if parents do see what their kids post, they might not
understand how living life online actually feels. Facebook Me, an original play
written and performed by teens at the upcoming New York International Fringe
Festival is a revealing exploration of what's going on behind millions of young
people's computer screens.
I recently sat down with
the cast (whose names have been changed below) and asked them to share about
their experiences with social networking. I also spoke with a professor
specializing in the psychology of technology, who offers some timely advice for
parents. What the kids had to say:
"There's more ‘life'
happening online than offline. If you are not online, you are completely out of
the loop-you don't have a life, you don't really exist."
-Hannah, 13 years old
"I'm online even during
class. I'm supposed to be taking notes but instead I'm commenting on stuff and
-Emma, 14 years old
"I feel safer online than
I do offline. So I do things online that I wouldn't do in real life."
-Sadie, 14 years old
"I've become very good at
taking pictures of myself. I know what angle is best, I know how to part my
lips...you know. It's like the number one thing on my mind is ‘I need to get home
right now and take a new profile picture.' All because I want someone to
comment on how I look."
-Katie, 15 years old
affects all the things you do in real life now. Like, if you go to a party, one
of the most important aspects of going to the party is to document yourself for
online posts. You have to prove you were looking good, you were having fun, and
that you were actually there! It's not about the party anymore but about the
pictures of the party."
-Caroline, 14 years old
"I feel sad, depressed,
jealous, or whatever when I don't get a lot of "Likes" on my photo or when
someone else gets way more Likes than me. Honestly, I'm not sure that parents
realize how drastically it affects our self-image and confidence. If I see a
picture of a really pretty girl, it's like ‘Goodbye self-esteem.' It forces me
to compete and do stuff that I don't want to do, so my confidence will get a
-Samantha, 14 years old
"Sometimes I feel like
I'm losing control. I want my parents to tell me to get off the computer.
Actually, they would need to literally take the computer away because I can't
-Nina, 15 years old
"My friendships are
really affected by social networking. You have to constantly validate your
friends online. And everyone's like ‘Where were you?' ‘What have you been
doing?' ‘Why haven't you commented on my picture yet?' So you have to be online
all the time, just to keep track, so you don't upset anyone."
-Jasmine, 13 years old
"There is so much
pressure to look happy all the time-you can never just be yourself- because
everybody is always taking pictures and posting them."
-Nikki, 13 years old
"I really want my mom to
be proud of me. Obviously, I want her to think I'm writing my essay or doing
things I should be doing instead of being on Facebook. But I also want to be
online. So I lie or accuse her of not trusting me. It's awful, but I've become
really comfortable with lying."
-Maya, 14 years old
Some new research has
shown that social networking can also have positive effects on teens such as
helping introverted adolescents forge relationships or providing a venue for
activism and political engagement. But, given the lure of spending too much
time plugged in and the self-esteem issues related to the constant scrutiny of
one's online persona, how can parents help their kids have a healthy and
productive relationship with technology?
When the berries are ripe, I love to make shortbread
cobbler. It is the perfect foil for
sweet, juicy fruits. When apples are in
season, I prefer to make crisps with a crunchy oat and nut topping. My favorite recipe for peaches and plums,
however, is a French specialty called, "clafoutis."
A clafoutis is part cake, part pudding and part soufflé. It
is easy to make, adaptable to whatever fruit is in season and delicious. Most recipes do not call for separating and
beating the egg whites, but I have found that folding in the beaten egg whites
just before baking makes the clafoutis lighter and prettier-and more like a
1 c milk
2 TBSP sugar or honey
½ c flour (wheat or any other combination of flours for a
Line the buttered bottom of an 8 X 8 or 6 x 9 baking pan
with peach slices or plum halves.
Separate the egg yolks and whites.
Put the egg yolks, milk, flour and vanilla in a blender and blend
well. Beat the egg whites and fold them
into the blended batter. Pour the
mixture over the sliced fruit and bake at 375 in a preheated oven for 25-30
The clafoutis will fall a bit as it cools. It is most delicious while still warm, but
still tasty once it cools and can even make a nice addition to the next
morning's breakfast. To ensure that there will be leftovers, double the recipe
and use a larger baking dish.