Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy 91st Birthday to my Dad!

             Happy 91st Birthday to my Dad today!  Yes, 91!! How does someone get to be 91?  Patience.  And people.  And good food!  My dad is the most patient person – I wish that I had about 10th of the patience that he has.  He always says, “what’s your hurry” or “no need to rush.”  And he lives this.  In the past few years he has slowed down, but that’s a relative term because he still takes care of his own rose garden of over 100 rose bushes and volunteers at the E. M. Mills Rose Garden at Thornden park.  And he cuts his own grass (he’s actually doing that right now as I am writing this!).  He loves being around people and says that it’s important to always surround yourself with people – they keep your mind sharp.  He keeps active and is out somewhere everyday all year round. 

                And good food!  Being Italian he was raised with and continues to eat a healthy, fresh diet.  Fresh, healthy food has been a way of life.  We have always eaten fresh fruits and vegetables, buying fresh produce from the local market.  Or picking the produce of his garden.  Every year there is an abundance of tomatoes, lettuce, basil, and Italian parsley growing in the back yard.  Growing up my mom and dad hardly ever made anything from a package.  Everything was and still is homemade.  We eat a lot of olive oil and a lot of garlic. 

                So for my dad’s birthday cake, a healthy chocolate cake!  Yes, healthy.  I have had this recipe for a while and use it every now and then when I want a chocolate cake, but don’t want to have a lot of leftovers.  It’s easy too!

Jiffy Devil’s Food Cake

1 ½ cup flour

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons canola oil

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup cold water

1.        Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2.       Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into an 8X8 ungreased glass baking dish.  Make 3 holes in the dry ingredients.  Pour oil in one, vinegar in another, and vanilla in another.  Pour water over all, and mix with a fork or whisk to moisten.

3.       Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Yields 9 servings at 146 calories each.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Market Dinner

          A couple of weeks ago we were faced with an unscheduled Saturday morning – I know – shocking!  I decided to take the boys to the Syracuse Regional Market  I love going to the market.  I always went with my dad when I was little.  I remember holding on to his pocket as his arms filled up with fresh produce.  I also remember getting a greasy lunch bag filled with sugar waffles!  My dad always had a route and I still follow this, as does he!  You have to go up and down each aisle in each shed and outside before buying anything.  This way you ensure you get the best produce at the best price. 

            So we did this and made a mental list of the produce we were going to buy.  But first:  a snack.  There were a lot of homemade food choices from crepes to donuts to full lunch.  Jacob chose a donut – of course.  These are the fresh out of oil donuts that you get to see being put into the sugar coating.  You can’t take a bite too soon or you’ll burn your mouth!  Joey and I chose crepes.  We watched as the man spread the batter on a special iron at least a foot across.  You can order the crepes filled with jam or other fillings that would qualify as lunch.  We chose cinnamon and sugar – he said that’s the European way.  They were absolutely delicious, light and airy and definitely filling. 

            Shopping at the market also comes with sampling now!  We sampled all kinds of fresh cheese including goat cheese which was our favorite.  Even my five year old was willing to sample the goat cheese, so we decided on the goat cheese with nut pesto!  Fresh and tasty, this was our afternoon snack.  We also tasted homemade lentil pie.  They lady was so impressed that Jacob liked it she gave him a second sample.  We ended up buying a soup mix from her that caught our eye.  It’s Thai Red Bean Soup – I haven’t made it yet, but she included everything I need – I just have to add water and boil it.  We sampled muesli made right here in New York from a company called Mu Mu Muesli  What’s muesli you ask.   It’s a blend of “whole grains, fruit, and nuts which Europeans have been enjoying for centuries.”  This one has cranberries, dates, coconut, raisins, roasted almonds, flax seeds, and whole rolled oats.  It is delicious mixed in with yogurt, cold with milk like American cereal or cooked like hot oatmeal.  We will have to get more on our return trip to the market. 

            On to dinner.  There were various choices of organic, local meat.  We chose a pound of hamburger to make into patties for grilling from  They had a lot of different choices of cuts at varying prices.  The hamburgers we made were juicy and wonderful.  It was great to eat meat, knowing just where it came from.  We also bought fresh homemade rolls to eat the burgers on.

            Vegetables.  Of course this is a staple at the market.  We chose brussel sprouts because Jacob asked for “those little green balls.”  Yes, he loves brussel sprouts!  I have to say that they are not my favorite vege, but I can’t say no to a five year old asking for them.  I like them roasted with olive oil better than steamed.  He likes them cooked any way!

            So, with our trip to the market successful, we can’t wait to make this an every week event when we can go during the week.  There are many markets that will be starting to pop up during the week days – take a look at where your local ones are.  The one in Bayberry started this week and will be going on every Wednesday.  Also, there are a lot of local farms that sell their own fresh produce.  Can‘t wait for a field trip!  I’ll keep you posted.