Friday, October 30, 2009

Most wonderful time of the year?

A quick errand to the store yesterday just made me feel overwhelmed. Right now, retailers are jumbling the holidays together and barfing them up like the aftermath of a bad party. A little Halloween here. A little Christmas there. And a teeny bit of Thanksgiving and fall flourishes crammed in just in case.

It’s no wonder my daughter was thoroughly confused when we were at the store the other day. Is it Halloween time? Christmas time? For a kid with little sense of time, it’s visual chaos. And for me, I’d just like to take a breather.

I realize my plea to let the holidays stand for themselves will fall on the deaf ears of retailers, who are quickly ripping down Halloween costumes to make room for Christmas lights, only by Dec. 24 to start ushering in Valentine’s Day. As a former retail widow, I fully understand it’s all about making the next buck.

But when does it stop? Can we ever enjoy the season for what it is?

Thanks for listening to me vent (and putting up with my horribly bad writing!) today!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

College kid catches composting buzz

Composting has been long on my to-do list, but the big hold-up is that it's just not practical for us. Unfortunately, we face an uphill battle regarding homeowner association rules, small lots, etc.

While I've heard there are actual indoor compost bins, I don't have hundreds to invest in one of those at this time.

Of course, today I read today's Star and had one of those "Why didn't I think about that?" moments. Inside was an article about a Butler University student who was inspired to start a composting business. He offers a weekly pickup of your compost pail to Broad Ripple area residents, and promises them some of "the goods" when gardening season's back in full swing.

Maybe this is an idea worth catching on!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cloth diapering: One year of dissing disposables

Cloth or plastic? It's a question I considered with the birth of my second child. Was going cloth worth it if you could only do it part-time?

One year into our family's experiment, I can say that yes, it is. I'm saying as a mom who's juggled cloth through wiggly babies, tumbling toddlers and, now, the start of potty training, all-in-ones are a great resource for moms to have on hand!

When I first seriously considering going cloth at home (our day care insists on disposables), I did the math, and found out that if I went conservative on quantity and washed each night (which I was doing anyways on weekends), I'd break even in 26 weeks. And that's with using them twice a week.

I have had to buy new diapers as the little guy's grown, but I've found that by shopping around you can find brands of diapers that stretch longer across the sizes. Luckily, I found great resources like Toasty Baby, which even delivered the diapers to my home, Zwaggle, and Craigslist. Granted, the latter two required a lot of visits to the sites to find cloth diapers, but when I found them, the prices couldn't be beat. I got 5 cloth diapers for $20 from one and a set of 6 new diapers for the cost of shipping with the other! So for the cost of three packages of disposables, I was set for another six months or longer.

Soon, I got braver and added cloth wipes into the mix. And you can even get by without those, in all honesty. How many infant washcloths do you have lying around your bathroom?

Sure, I may have a little bit more laundry to do, but I simply toss dry diapers and cloths into a box in the bedroom. No folding's required.

As potty training has approached, I've actually found cloth diapers are easier to manage than disposable. He responds to wetness faster, and the cloth diapers don't tear or get ruined after multiple times of opening the velcro to use the bathroom. And my laundry load has dropped as well as we're having more success!

Would I go cloth again? Absolutely. Investing in all-in-one diapers are easy, and, after the initial expense, well worth the hassle!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pumpkin smoothie

Our Pumpkin Smoothie recipe was made up on a whim Sunday afternoon. I sincerely thought I had printed a recipe like this when I ran off several "kids cooking" recipes, but didn't have it when I came to look for it. The kids loved it!

Pumpkin Smoothie
1/2 15-oz. can pumpkin
1 cup vanilla frozen yogurt
1 1/2 cups milk

Blend 30 seconds. Add ice cubes for a thicker consistency.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Our cooking competition (Round 1)

Lunchtime approached, and I was at a complete loss of what to do. Burnt out on mac 'n cheese, grilled cheese and pasta, I faced a fridge with, frankly, a lot of random items.

Two bunches of radishes, eagerly bought by a 4 year old at the farmers market the previous weekend and then forgotten.

A few small kolhrabi, grabbed from the garden before last weekend's promised freezing temperatures.

A bunch of bok choi, a few packages of mushrooms, an abandoned half of an onion and snow peas, all bought with the intentions of making meals that just didn't happen.

I was stumped. And the troops were hungry.

Luckily, inspiration hit: A cooking contest! Think Iron Chef meets desperate mom.

I proposed the idea to my oldest: I would make some different veggie dishes, and they would judge and see what tastes the best. Thankfully, she was sold.

Into a small pan went the kolhrabi, sliced and sauteed in butter. (Not fancy, but as we'd never actually eaten kolhrabi before - we simply picked it because the name was funny - I figured we would play it safe.) Another pan held radishes to be sauteed as well.

In the wok went the main event: Veggie stirfry with a splash or two of teriyaki sauce, served over leftover rice.

The kids eagerly waited. By now, my daughter had deemed herself as "Giada" the judge, and her brother would be "Ted."

The kohlrabi was done first. "It's really juicy and good," she said. Hmm, juicy wasn't quite the word I'd associate it, but I did like the flavor. "Ted" took one bite and spit it on the plate.

The radishes were next. "It's pretty good," "Giada" said, munching away. "You did a nice job. You have good ingredents."

Though we've had cooked radishes before, perhaps these just looked like a pinker version of the kolhrabi. "Ted" spit his out and threw it on the floor for emphasis.

While we waited for the stir fry to be ready, we agreed that we'd go ahead and grow the kolrabi again next year - that much was a success. And then we served the main event. "Giada" gobbled the shitake mushrooms first. "Ted" went for the rice, then took one bite of the snow peas, decidedly dropping the pieces in protest - first on my plate and then on the floor. As added emphasis, down went the fork as well. The plate appeared to be at risk of a similar fate.

Despite one grouchy judge, our little "competition" worked wonders. It got my daughter at least trying a new vegetable or two, and cleaned out my fridge. Now, I've just got to figure out what's for dinner!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Other people's stuff

I'll be straight and just say I've got flu big time on my brain. Thankfully, it hasn't hit the family yet, but I've been swamped with H1N1 communications at work the last few weeks in particular. It's interesting, but I'll be glad when I quit dreaming about it at night!

Rather than hear me rant about being smart and staying healthy again, here are a few articles I've seen that are worth sharing:

Erin writes a great story on eating seasonably on the Green Phone Booth. I have to agree with her - the tiny strawberries we picked from our garden the other day had far more flavor than the pound of red, tasteless things we picked up at the supermarket this weekend.

Beth writes about how cotton clothing just might not be over on Fake Plastic Fish.

I know we're all about saving money these days, but sometimes a little investing is good, too. Rachel writes about 3 great ways to save money over on Small Notebook.

The other day a friend said to me, "Your Facebook always says your work is making you nuts, or your kids are making you nuts..." While it's a bit of an exaggeration (I torment my friends with cute kid stories and social media articles too), I know it's tough sometimes to remember the joys in parenting. FishMama writes about balancing the two on Life as Mom.
And Kellie sums up what other APLS'ers have to say on prolesythizing green. Stay tuned for the November carnival topic.
Have a safe and healthy week!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Birthday blessings

Yesterday I marked the moment where my husband says lovingly I became "halfway to 70." Talk about a heavy moment, when you put it into those terms.

I wish I could say I had a fantastic party - friends together over a good meal and a better glass of wine or two. But I'm just fine with the way it turned out.

Our day was spent in the nuttiness involved with getting ready for guests, chasing two kids and harvesting what was left in our garden before it all froze. Sure, it makes you feel tired just reading that!

Sure, I had a stressful morning. My husband had class and then work - but then, at least the next two weeks he has work. The visit to the grocery store unnerved me. But at the point of becoming broken, my toddler looked up at me, with a huge grin, and proudly announced: "Birthday."

When my brother arrived first from Chicago, the kids clung happily to their uncle, which afforded me the opportunity for a quiet moment cutting herbs, pulling two purple carrots that made it and enjoying the silence until it was broken by a little girl wanting to color with her chalk. I was able to relax somewhat while I worked on washing my oregano and drying them in the oven. I had a great conversation with my brother as we washed and chopped apples from my babysitter - the bags of which will come in handy for some much less stressful apple streudel making for our Christmas gathering.

And after my parents arrived, they joined us for a huge bowl of pasta carbonara - which I was thrilled to have all of the ingredients for without making a second trip to the store (and some of which I'd just grabbed from the backyard) - and a comforting slice of pumpkin pie a friend of mine had made just because.

So it wasn't a wild way to celebrate #35. But, surrounded by the people who love me in their own strange way, it was fine with me.

Oh, and here's the recipe for the pasta. It was found in a friend's magazine, and everyone in the family enjoyed it - it's definitely a keeper!

Carbonara Pasta
1 box spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 oz. bacon
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped
4 cloves garlic (or more), diced
1/2 c. sherry
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 eggs
1 c. Parmesan
1/4 c. fresh parsley

Cook spaghetti according to directions. Meanwhile, in large skillet heat the oil. Brown the bacon until crisp. Add walnuts, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook 1-2 minutes, stirring often. Add the wine and cook 2-3 minutes more. Drain the pasta and add to the skillet.

In a small bowl, whisk eggs with 1/2 c. Parmesan. Remove skillet from heat. Pour egg mixture into the spaghetti and mix. Top with rest of cheese, parsley and black pepper.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Having faith in your actions

“If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.” – St. Francis of Assisi

Sustainable living, living green or any other catchphrase of the week, in part, can be argued a part of living out your faith. After all, what is more appropriate to living your faith than caring for God’s creatures? (Which, in case you forgot, includes us.)

Yet, for as vocal of a person as I am about the little things in life, I’ve always struggled with the idea of pushing my values onto another person. The people who shoved politics or religion down others’ throats – the “my way or no way” types – were the ones I’d avoid the most. So not preaching loudly is (hopefully) what I’ve not practiced this many years.

I do believe actions speak louder than words. For as trite as a saying as that is, it’s true. I can tell you how plastic is choking the fish in the ocean – but I can far easier show you that it’s simple for you to do something about it, that it doesn’t take much time or resources to make a difference in these uneasy times.

Hopefully seeing our very small examples might rub off on you in some small way. After all, our family is living proof that even a one-year-old can grasp the most basic concepts of caring for the earth. Does he understand it all? No. Does he make an impact? I believe so.

I’ll be honest too, that I do hide behind my blog and in real life often have to hold my tongue. I tolerate the husband of a friend who truly thinks being green is a conspiracy. We simply agree to disagree. And there’s too little time in the world to nag a person for sending their kids out with a disposable milk container or single-serving bag of pretzels. Instead of worrying about the little details in life, I focus on the ways we can make small changes to make the biggest difference. That mostly ends up in slight tweaks in our lifestyle, rather than a overwhelming “event” that impacts our extended family.

Which leaves me once again with the words of St. Francis: "Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible."

This post is part of the APLS October Carnival on "Proselytizing Green,” hosted this month at Greenhab. Check out the carnival posting on Oct. 19. Want to participate? E-mail greenhabgoods {at} gmail {dot} com.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Another reason to unplug your appliances

Unplugging your appliances seems like a hassle. Sure you can save energy, but you have to re-plug it in...

Let me give you a reason to reconsider.

Today my husband, who was working on a few projects at home, walked by the coffee maker -- only to see it was sparking! (And it wasn't an old coffee maker.)

I shudder to think what would have happened if he wasn't around. Clearly God was looking out for us!

So if being green isn't a good enough motivation, consider having to replace your home!

Real ways moms save money

Saving money is the mantra these days. Where can we cut corners without impacting ouf lives? And everyone seems to have an answer. But it's not the one that fits you!

The other day, a friend - and not one I'd expect to hear this from - complained about how the many articles on how you can save money are just not helping. Nine times out of 10, the tips are common-sense items that we should be doing anyway. Eat out less? Check. Drive smarter? Check. Shop sales? Check. Cook everything from scratch? Great idea, but sometimes the execution is a bit questionable, and frankly, I have about an hour a day at home when I'm not in full "mom" mode. Time is sometimes of an essence. Negotiate a new rate? Sure, but if you're underemployed, that might not help. Shut off your cable? In my house, no matter how bad things get, I can't win that battle until after the Jayhawks take the Final Four.

I looked at her and gave her my best advice of the day: I let my kids pick dinner. The eyebrow raised.

Really. Think about it: Once a week, usually on the night my husband has school, my kids decide what's for dinner. Typically what they decide on is mac 'n cheese or a grilled cheese sandwich. Paired with sliced peppers, cucumbers or apples, and you have dinner for less than $3. It may not be gourmet, but it's healthy - and eaten. And food that's refused to be eaten doesn't help anybody.

Sometimes we go a little more creative. Pasta dishes seem to be a common theme. Sunday, we tossed pasta with some chicken-apple sausages, some sauteed garlic and about a cup of riccotta - to rave reviews. And tonight my daughter selected chicken and noodles, which are surprisingly easy and a crockpot staple.

Other times, we'll think of ways to get my oldest more involved with the cooking. She's a pro at helping me make a fall seasonal salad of lettuce, apples, raisins and walnuts. And with an interest in being "big," she is learning to cut softer items like bread or some fruits as well.

Here are some real ways moms can save money. You may not see huge savings, and you've likely seen it before somewhere, but at least they're attainable!
  • Make dinner be double-duty. It's not much more difficult to pack your lunch for the next day as you're serving dinner. Usually you have enough anyway!
  • Wipe it up. Cloth wipes are great! While paper towels are easy to use and easy to toss, it's not much more difficult to go cloth. I have a rag bag that the kids know they can tap into to wipe up a spill or a dirty mouth, and then they toss it into the washer. (And yes, you can train a toddler to do that!)
  • Drop the single-serve treats. Not only do they generate an insane amount of trash, but also they're far more expensive. I keep a container or crackers or other non-perishable treats in my car for those emergency situations.

What works for you? Are there ways you're able to save money and live greener without a lot of extra effort?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Feeling homesick in the fall

Fall is one of those times when I feel the most homesick. Even though it's been more than eight years since I left Kansas City, I've hit that time of year when I wish I was home.

My in-laws are notorious for marking the seasons, and fall and the Christmas season are the times I miss most. Maybe it's been our working schedule or just being the parent of young children, but I've yet to replicate some of the things I miss most:

Driving to Louisburg for a stop at the Louisburg Cider Mill. My husband grew up in Louisburg, Kan., and went to the cider mill from when we was a small boy and it was a small mill, not the enterprise it is now. But it was always a treat to stop by the mill on the way back from a trip to his grandfathers, splurging on apple cider biscuits, a cold gallon of freshly pressed cider and a bag full of seasonings.

Visiting the Mound City Arts & Crafts Fair. Yes, a drive 90 minutes south of Kansas City for a craft show seemed strange for me when we were dating, but the fair was a huge deal for my husband's family and still is. It was a fun way to window shop - as long as weather permitted. I saw a posting on it from my aunt's Facebook page the other day, and felt a twinge of sadness.

Going to the Haskell Indian Art Market. Housed at Haskell College in Lawrence, it's well worth the drive. I wish there was something remotely close to this in Indiana - the kids would love the native dancers, the fry bread, the music.
Losing my voice at Late Night (or, more optimistically, at a basketball game). I'm a Jayhawk fan through and through. 'Nuff said. It's just not the same catching Allen Fieldhouse on ESPN.
Seeing the Plaza lights. While I never did get to a lighting ceremony in all the years I lived in Kansas City, we loved to wander the plaza looking at the lights after it got dark.

So what did I miss? And what even comes remotely close to this in Indiana?

Note to self

Never plan to successfully take your toddler anywhere in the morning he receives a flu shot. Duly noted for next year.

I had great mommy intentions this morning. I was going to finally get the seasonal flu shots from the VNS at our church (our pediatrician won't do her flu shot clinic until November). If we didn't have massive meltdowns like last year, we were going to pop over to the ice cream shop for a treat. As we've gotten ice cream out maybe twice in my daughter's life, she was sold.

And then life happened.

By the grace of God, there were no screaming kids at the church when we arrived, and the shot experience went fairly smoothly. But even with a pre-dose of Tylenol for the little guy, I was still doomed for failure.

First, the ice cream shop was finally closed. Whoops. Now we have trechery on top of the whole shot experience.

So we stopped at the farmers market, where the little guy progressed until full melt-down mode for the next 20 to 30 minutes. And of course, with fewer vendors and visitors this time of year, everyone knew who the culprit was (sigh). He'd scream over having to go a different direction, lay down on the pavement, scream it out and dust himself back off. Repeat about a dozen times.

And then he saw the "cookie." We walked past a small church baked goods stand, and his eyes were glued to the "cookie." I didn't have the heart to tell him it was a quiche. Instead I offered them both a sample of a "cookie" (OK, pumpkin/cream cheese muffin). They had seconds. And then the little guy, after petting a ferret who was at the market, tried to dive in the bag with his slobbery, ferret-petting fingers for thirds. I cut them off. More meltdowns ensued.

After another stop and pathetic attempt of making an uninterupted purchase, tired of the whining over cookies, I walked back to the church stand. And sadly, I negotiated the purchase of - or more realistically, begged the women what would she'd take for - the entire bag of muffin samples. Seeing that she was sold out of the muffins, I didn't feel too bad at the time. In retrospect, I'm shaking my head in disbelief!

The gallon bag was half-eaten by the time they got home, and it wasn't me. Maybe I should have asked for the recipe instead...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Crayons off the walls: One green (working!) solution

Artistic expression on our walls. I knew it was bound to happen sooner or later. Who knew, though, that it would be so prolific in our household?

Not a week goes by when I don't stumble upon a scrawl or two lovingly created on my windowsills, my walls, my bills, my tables. These are all created with a particular fondness for the color green. I suppose I should be grateful that they coordinate with my neutral color pallete. But still...

The day had to come when my boy picked up the non-washable crayon. Those sneak into the house in such unauspicious ways. From the dinner out with the grandparents. Or a gift of art supplies. Regardless, those wiggled their way into our homes and into the hands of an artiste-in-training.

Sadly, the green look on my bathroom door didn't work for our decor. Sadder still was the fact that not only the water-and-rag method of cleaning wasn't working, but also the 409 and other store-bought cleaners were failing the test. The scrawls might have stayed.

Thankfully, I stumbled online and found out that baking soda or vinegar might be a solution. And I'm thrilled to report, with a little elbow grease and baking soda, my door is scrawl-free! Keep that in mind in case your toddler decides to express himself in a more unusual place.

What do you do with 4 cups of rosemary?

A forecast of lows in the low 30s this weekend means my herbs are facing a losing battle. Last night, I stood in the rain as I started a very soggy harvesting process.

The early results? A bunch of rosemary the diameter of a Nerf ball and the height of my 4-year-old from her head past her waist. I'm guessing that even with sharing with coworkers this morning I've got a good 4 cups or so of fresh rosemary left in my home.

So here's my question: What should I do with it? Post any and all ideas here! Otherwise I'll spend my weekend just drying my branches, which isn't the most exciting way to spend the day.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Strawberry season comes to a close

Stealing strawberries from our yard has become a family tradition of sorts.

Picking berries after we get home from daycare has been an easy activity for the kids. They love the thrill of the hunt and poking among the green leaves to find the tiny red strawberries nestled underneath. And they love the taste even more.

You see, even though we start out with three separate containers for picking, only a drop or two of juice will actually grace the bottoms of the containers before we return inside. More often than not, those berries just go straight to their mouths. I really can't complain...except for the whole eating the leaves bit that the youngest has developed is just a bit too wierd for my tastes.

While I love that they're interested, I'd love to try a strawberry or two this year. Sadly, it's just too late.

I know I should be thrilled that we're still getting strawberries this late in the year. That thrill, though, will soon be gone. I'm watching the forecast, and we'll hit below freezing in just a few short days. Those last few flowers and snow-white berries just don't stand a chance.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Goodbyn: Our Saturday snack solution (a review)

Saturdays on the go are inevitably punctuated by the panic of it being 11:45 and the kids haven't yet been fed. Seeing that they're happily on an 11:15 a.m. lunch schedule at daycare, an early lunch and nap attempts are just part of the routine. But there are weekend days we just need an exception to the rule.

When errands are planned en masse, it typically means racing around the kitchen to grab a few granola bars and sippy cups to hopefully tide them over. I know it doesn't always work, but I can tell you it's tough to pack fresh fruits, accepted vegetables, crackers that won't crumble or other foods into a snack bag.

And then I was approached to review the Goodbyn, a lunchbox made of recycled plastics that's pre-divided into containers for your meal. While the makers promise significant savings from avoiding the heaps of Ziploc bags over the school year, I know that packing lunches are at least a few years away for me. But I'll tell you, it does work for my family's needs.

The Goodbyn is a little challenging to use at first - there's multiple pressure points to snap the lid shut, as opposed to having it hinged - and takes a bit of finessing to get it right. And the amount of food included is huge. I have a hard time seeing that a young elementary-school student, which it's obviously aimed for, could (or should) eat as much as it holds.

To give you a sense on the size, you can hold:
  • the 8-oz. bottle that comes with it (or several cheese sticks, for the parents of preschoolers)
  • two pints of blueberries from the farmers market or a trial or single-serving size box of cereal
  • three or four granola bars
  • several handfuls of dried fruit, crackers, etc., in the small spaces
  • and still have room for more.

We've happily fed three kids out of the box during an outing this weekend and have made a meal for two as a "picnic" in the park.

Of course, the budding artist would love to customize it in the 200 or so stickers included in the set (and hidden from interested fingers at this point).

The cost seems a bit high on the surface - about $30 retail - but if you offset it by the cost of toss-away containers and baggies accumulated over the course of a year, you'd easily come out ahead. Not to mention have a few less dishes to wash, and you can recycle the whole thing once your kid is too "cool" for it next fall.

Disclaimer: In the name of full disclosure, yes, I received a free sample from the makers of Goodbyn to test. But you probably realized that anyway.

Soap's on!

For a toddler who's suddenly obsessed with lining things up, nothing seems cooler than lines of multicolored, scented soap at the farmers market.

For a full 20 minutes on Saturday, I watched as the little guy brought one bar after another up to his nose, then carefully placed them back down in a train-like line. A near-meltdown occurred when I tried to coax him away from the table. The owner was amused, chuckled and tucked away her card in the bag when I broke down and placed an order.

Her parting gift? Two slivers of soap, one for each child.

My guy proudly clenched that soap in his fist as we trotted around the market, occasionally catching a sniff of his bar. We had an nearly incident-free morning, until I began to drive away.

"Moooommmm!" I heard in that whiny drawl, strung out as only a tattle-telling kid can do. "He ate the soap!"

Dang. It's bad enough we had to call poison control a few weeks ago because he ate my deoderant. (And, I might add, not only the "powder fresh" but also the "shower clean" varieties!) Now we had to call the poor soap lady, who was thinking she's getting an order and instead was peppered with questions on what actually in those bars. Thankfully, we had no health issues as a result.

Some parents threaten to wash their child's mouth out with soap. Ain't going to work in my home.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Going handmade this holiday season? Start now!

Handmade holiday gifts - it's surprising that they didn't take off much last year, following the gas crisis, the credit crisis, etc.

This year, though, the idea seems to be everywhere - from a host of environmental blogs to Paula Deen's Christmas magazine.

If you're a shopping slacker, the key to remember is you can't start most presents on Dec. 23. You have to plan ahead.

Crunchy Chicken recently had a discussion on this topic, and the readers posted some very creative ideas, including:

  • gift certificates to a CSA
  • market bags made from repurposed denim jeans
  • buying vintage
Determined to make gifts on your own? Check out sites like, or if you're looking for other ideas, check out last year's posts:
Not the crafty type? That is completely OK. There are plenty of people who are willing to sell handmade goods that you can pull together for a holiday gift. Check your farmers markets for vinagrettes, sauces, soaps or candles; visit the multitude of holiday fairs; or check out etsy for ideas from small business owners.
Of course, the one gift idea I can't beat - or ever dream to replicate - is from Abbie at Farmer's Daughter:
my then-boyfriend (now husband) gave me a 4-poster cherry bed that he built
on Christmas Eve, then proposed on Christmas morning.
If only all of our gifts had such meaning!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Graham crackers for dinner

Graham crackers for dinner. It's not something one normally thinks of (unless of course, you're 4 years old).

Graham crackers for a snack before dinner? Sure. For lunch? Sure, I'll confess: I have caved on occasion and just served graham cracker and peanut butter sandwiches. As part of the main course for dinner? Not so much.

But the other night, I was stumped. I had some random items and no idea what to do with them.

I started out with some mahi mahi, which I'd splurged (OK, got as a steal) on at the grocery store. I had no idea how to cook it, and googled some recipes.

Then I came up with Oven Baked Mahi Mahi With Orange and Graham Cracker Crust. Having stumbled across some graham crackers that were feeling their age (going a bit stale), I was sold.

You can read the original recipe here, but I had to adapt given my pantry limitations and a few customers of discerning tastes.

Here's what I came up with.

3 pieces mahi mahi
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

For Marinade
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons coriander, chopped
1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375.

Add all ingredients for marinade and marinade fish for 15 minutes.

In another bowl, combine orange zest, brown sugar, lemon juice, orange juice and graham cracker crumbs until thoroughly mixed.

Coat fish with graham cracker mixture and place on non-stick baking tray.

Drizzle with olive oil. Cover with aluminium foil and place in oven and let bake for 20-25 mins until tender and cooked thoroughly.

The verdict? Surprisingly good. One gobbled up the topping, the other loved the fish. (So in reality, it worked out.)

But what really got the kids excited was the Peach Cobbler I whipped up after the farmers market. I sliced up our peaches (about four), supplemented with a drained can of peaches, and topped in a casserole dish with 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs, a few tablespoons of butter, a bit of brown sugar, 1/2 cup of oatmeal and some cinammon. (And as I am writing this, I know understand my high blood sugar later!) I microwaved it for seven minutes. It was a success. Both kids couldn't get enough of it.