Stuffed Eggplant

So I’m trying this.  Posting a photo from my phone, with the app thing.

I got a new cookbook, called Going With the Grain.  I have been wanting to do more with whole grains.  The ones that people rarely eat anymore.  The ones that Nature gave us, to keep us healthy.  Like quinoa, barley, and faro.

So I made a roasted dinner tonight. I already made some veggie patties with quinoa.  I made extra quinoa, and then found this recipe in my book, so I knew what I wanted to do with the eggplant I had bought. I thought I would just roast the chunks,  like I usually do.  But this was even better.

I had some peppers so I stuffed those with rice for the kids.  Let’s bed honest, they are eating more variety, but eggplant is pushing the boundaries.  LoL

I kept up my Roasted theme and did up my roasted red potatoes, which are tossed in dijon mustard and herbs de Provence.  The kids love them.  Add a salad and it’s dinner.

Oh and it was yummy. 🙂

Tim, Elise and I took a trip to the Apple Hill region last year.  Lots of different apples, cider, and fritters to make us all sick, if we weren’t careful.  50 years ago a few of the local farms, orchards, got together to promote tourism in their area.  They have grown, and the line of cars can stretch for miles.  Its so worth it though.  I always learn so many new things.  Like how many different varieties of pumpkins, and squash are being grown now.  🙂

I’m grateful that we went as early as we did, this year.  And on a Sunday rather than a Saturday.  I can only imagine how much more crowded it would have been. 

Pumpkins!!! Although we were there for the apples, and all that can be done with them... I was surprised to learn so much about pumpkins.   Ahhhhhhh

Although we were there for the apples, and all that can be done with them… I was surprised to learn so much about pumpkins.

The scenery though is just breath taking.  I love the way it all looks.  I was surprised at how warm it got though.  Even being up in the mountains, although Tim kept reminding me that we were only in the hills.  LoL

The scenery though is just breath taking. I love the way it all looks. I was surprised at how warm it got though. Even being up in the mountains, although Tim kept reminding me that we were only in the hills. LoL

These were growing right on the side of the highway.  Interchanged with roses.  The winerys all seem to grow some sort of flowers at the ends of their rows of grapevines.   Tim says that they, along with the shiney bits of streamers, are to attract the bees.  To get them to have a bit of "Fun" ;) in their vines.

These were growing right on the side of the highway. Interchanged with roses. The winerys all seem to grow some sort of flowers at the ends of their rows of grapevines.
Tim says that they, along with the shiney bits of streamers, are to attract the bees. To get them to have a bit of “Fun” 😉 in their vines.

Another Day trip - another Wine tasting.  We can't take a day trip in NorCal without a stop at a local winery.  It would just not do.  LoL This one though was not all that great.  We had a better time with the vinegar tastings at the Fudge Factory.

Another Day trip – another Wine tasting. We can’t take a day trip in NorCal without a stop at a local winery. It would just not do. LoL This one though was not all that great.
We had a better time with the vinegar tastings at the Fudge Factory.

We had a Blast!

We had a Blast!

This is the phrase coming out of Bronwyn’s mouth last night.

Yes, that’s correct.

Now keep in mind, that she had a mouthful of roasted eggplant and golden beet roots, at the time. So it sounded more like: “Frerfs my brufsles ts?”

In my slowly-evolving from carnivorous to vegan, table, even the children are coming around to the wonderful world of food. It started about 3 years ago now. I just stopped consuming 4-legged creatures, along with liquid milk. I had noticed years before that there was a direct correlation between, how much dairy I consume and how much pain my hands are in, during the winter months. So even in the winter months, I will eat less cheese, and cut out ice cream and milk. I started to have more ‘digestive issues’, which I attributed to old age, in some fashion. It wasn’t old age though. I found that my ‘digestive issues’ went away when I stopped eating beef and pork. Don’t get me wrong, the smell of bacon is still alluring. I am my father’s daughter, after all. Yet, the idea of spending the rest of the day, and possibly most of the night, for having enjoyed the taste of, even 2 oz., of the stuff; makes me put it down each time.

Then of course I started reading. Trying to find out if there was some science behind what was happening to my body. There is, but I’m not going to sit here and preach. Its out there. Go look it up for yourself.

The more I learn, the more I realize that eating a plant-based diet is better for my body. And the bodies of my children. Not that the children, nor their father, is very thrilled with this. Nor do they want to follow it. He even tried to used it against me back in the spring. He called up DCF to have the children taken away from me, it turns out the claim was I wasn’t feeding them. The truth was I wasn’t feeding them meat. It turns out that, refusing to buy dead animals, and serving them up as food, is not against the law.

I do compromise. I do buy chicken from time to time, and even try to consume it. But more times than not, these days, find even the chickens not agreeing with my body. So I skip it out, and stick to fish. Letting the children eat it, and I just stick to the other things cooked up, or some leftovers from another meal.

The kids have become more accustomed to what will be served for food at our table. They always find something that they like. Even if its just some of the fresh tomatoes, or carrot sticks. They enjoy roasted veggies, like potatoes, and beets. Along with Brussels Sprouts. I knew that Rebecca liked them. She was with me, when we were at the market that day. She pointed them out, and asked for them. So I bought them for the 2 of us. It wasn’t until I was putting them on our plates, that Bronwyn and Russell piped up.

I am happy that my kids are enjoying the food more. Learning to eat things that are good for their growing bodies. Helping them to perform better on the sports fields. Not complaining at the table. Although at no point in any parent’s life do they expect to cook up some brussell sprouts, and only get to have 2, out of the pan.

Must remember to buy twice as many next time.

I guess if you’re “Poor” you are not allowed to have nice things…. This is what I see on FaceBook.
Posted by people that I love and care about. But who make me sick, when they post things that say “You are Poor… you are not allowed to have nice things.”
Who. (or What?) gives the RICH people the right to decided what Poor People are allowed to have, or not have?
Read all of the comments….
Maybe you’re eyes (and more importantly your heart) will be opened a little bit.

If you Have Food Stamps

Let’s be clear here. I am on Food Stamps.
Yep. Me.
I have 2 jobs – 1 mortgage – 4 kids and very little financial support from the Ex.
I qualify for Food Stamps.
I am grateful for the $253.00 a month that I am allotted to feed my family of 5.
That breaks down to $63.25 a week.
Or $9.04 a day.
Basically $1.81 a person / per day.

Ever see that show on the Food TV, about eating out for as little as $30.00 a day? I think about how there’s no way I could ever spend $150.00 a day on food. I shop for sales. I use coupons. I take donations from my parents, when they go out on vacation, and clear out their fridge. I try growing my own food, in a garden. I’m doing amazing on Sweet Potatoes. Which is good, because 2 of my kids LOVE Sweet Potatoes.

I am not ashamed of my Poor Status by some, because of my qualifications to receive Food Stamps. I got over my guilt a long time ago. I got over it when I remember back to being a child, and my stomach hurting at night; from hunger. I don’t ever want my children to ever wish that there were “more” at dinner. I don’t ever remember there being leftovers when I was growing up, because there was just enough for each of us to have some. Not extra. I know that my own parents grew summer foods, and my dad brought the ‘cheaper’ stuff from the grocery store, where he held his 2nd job. We were not allow to have Food Stamps because he was a teacher, and back then, teachers were prohibited from receiving them.

I appreciate not having to stretch my food budget so far and that allows me to do the nice things for my kids. I do have other budgetary sources for food. I do have the 2nd job after all. Which allows me to buy the wood for a small shower deck. Which allows me to barter for a plumber to install the shower head. Or a great massage, by doing someone’s tax return.

Which also allows me to save up for those special birthday gifts like the newer phone. Which by-the-way, phone companies give you the phone for free, if you agree to pay for the service for 2 years. It may not be the newest I-phone, but a later model. Not to mention, there are Iphones for sale on places like Ebay, and the local pawn shop. A used model, but an Iphone just the same.

So Yes, My kids will have them – AND we are on Food Stamps.

It was a “tater tot” sort of day.

That day when all you want to do is lay around, and fill yourself up with tater tots. Those little balls of ‘not-good-for-you-at-all’, ‘nothing-but-chemical-crap’, that when baked to a golden brown, make you feel better.

They aren’t the best thing to eat. They are better than filling up on something worse, like vodka. Which I don’t drink, ewe. So I’d have to replace my glass with tequila. Patron with a slice of orange, please. But knowing what sort of day it is, I can say that I knew better than to fill myself up with that.

The bag of tots though, sat there, already opened, and getting freezer burn, so it really was a win-win situation, in my eating them. Not a whole bag, mind you. Bronwyn and Russell helped me eat them. And it was just a 3/4th’s full bag. Okay, it was the largest bag possible. I only buy them big, you never know when you’ll need more tots. Its always a good thing to have on hand.

The bag is gone now… I wish that I could say the same for the reason I ate them all.

So today I took a day trip with Tim. Just the two (2) of us. Elise really wasn’t up for going out. She has seemed more tired lately. I understand that need to just retreat into her shell, and hibernate. I get that way sometimes too. Other than taking trips to the store, or running errands, she is attached to Tim. She rarely has the house to herself, and gets to just vegetate.

So after being reassured by her, and Tim, that she was okay. That she really didn’t feel left out, in some regards. And that for her, she understood that I wasn’t upset at her not joining us. That I didn’t feel short-changed, that she didn’t want to come along. We headed off for a day trip adventure in the Foothills.

Tim had planned a route for us. 😀 We headed up, along the interstate 80, turning off onto SR49, into the foothills. More like mountains if you ask me. LoL We went up 1,000 feet above sea level. That’s pretty far up, for me. Especially considering that I’m the one doing the driving. And the roads along mountain, (okay hills) are not just straight lines. They are curvy things, that go back and forth. Hugging the side of the mountain.

We drove up to Auburn (not the SEC school 😉 ) and took a little tour of the town, before heading out on the winding road, that is SR49. I saw a winery, advertising, the way that they do, with a sign about hours, now open, etc. I missed the turn of course, so I made a U-Turn. Tim wasn’t sure that they would be open, but I said, let’s give it a shot. Who knows. It could be some undiscovered gem. It was.

Hart 2 Hart was one of those great little wineries. Complete with tasting room. Things for sale, which Elise would have loved. They had facilities that made it easy for Tim and I to get around. The patroness was very accommodating. We were having a lovely tasting of some interesting grapes that I don’t normally see in FL.

Then an RV of people came in. There was a group, traveling around for the day, complete with a couple of children. All, but 1, of the adults, doing some tastings. Having a good time. Then of course, did what tourists do… wanted something for free. 🙂 The elder of ladies stated, in that ‘I can’t believe this’ voice: “What do you mean there is a $5.00 tasting fee? We were just here a couple of months (meaning: a year) ago, I never had to pay before.”

Please note: That more and more wineries are going with such a fee. This particular place went beyond what is normally served, by not only giving you back your $5.00 towards any purchase; BUT also a snacking plate, with meats / cheeses / crackers / nuts. Heck, even the small wine shop, that I love to shop at, has a Tasting Fee, when they do their monthly tastings. That they, also return to you, against any purchase.

I have to hand it to the owners. They did the right thing. He kindly explained to the complaining woman, that unfortunately they were getting large groups of people in limos, (* He did good not to mention their RV *) who were coming in and just drinking for free. They were losing money, because they were ‘tasting’ more than they were selling. This offered to keep their wines at a lower fee, instead of having to increase the prices to cover such a loss.

We found a new grape that I like a great deal: Voignier. (*check spelling*). It’s very much like the Sauv Blanc that I like, with the citrus finish. So that bottle, along with a red blend, that I actually enjoyed, are coming to me later this week. Knowing that I am not a great big red drinker, to find one that I enjoy, I think make Tim’s day. He’s a big Merlot fan. I’m trying to expand my palate.

We had good time, then drove along the curvy road, and went to the place that Tim had destined would be our destination. Gold Hill Winery. Recent winners of the California State Faire. Which gave them a write-up in the local papers. Which is why Tim picked it for our adventure. Another winner, despite the crowds. I think half of the bay area had also picked this winery, for their destination. Probably because of the newspaper article.

The male half of their staff was great, the female, must have been having a bad day. (shrug) Noticing that we were unable to come inside to sample the mustards, he brought us our own sampling plate. She on the other hand, questioned me, as to the type of wine I had just sampled, when I asked for my next one. There was little room inside, so we were forced to stay out on the balcony. The noise level was deafening, in their room.

Despite the crowds, and overly stressed patroness, we sat upon their balcony and enjoyed the scenery of rows of grapes, on vines. The beautiful day. The wine. Although Tim enjoyed a local brewed beer. A treat for him. It was nice to just sit in quiet enjoyment of the day.

For Elise, she said that it was her greatest blessing. She didn’t have to worry about Tim; because she knew that I would take good care of him.

Oh today was fun… Not!

I had a lot of small talks with Daphne last night and this morning. One of them being about how I am not ever going to be the parent that she wants. I just can’t walk away from her, or any of them. I care too much for that. We had a version of this conversation several times today. She was feeling better, because she came out of her room, and played cards with Russell and me. She even ate a little bit of food. Good for her food. Strawberries and toast.

We were going along just fine, then Rebecca and Bronwyn came home. Then more shit hit the fan. More of the crap that happens when people are not communicating effectively – and making assumptions. The girls all wanted to go down to Taco Bell. They had their allowance. I consented that would be fine, although I just bought them snacks for the football game tonight. The snacks could wait for another night. Maybe Friday. Anyhoo, one of them complained that they wouldn’t have enough time to walk there before the sales, ended. So I offered to drive them there, and drop them off.

Drop them off: To me this means that I get there, park, let them out, and leave.

Well, Russell was feeling leftout – so I consented to buying him a drink. I asked one of the girls to go in, and get it for me. That was my mistake.

What they did instead, was to lump all their stuff into one order – and thus I had to wait for Russell’s treat. By the time I was done waiting, and going inside to fetch it, they were all coming out. And getting into the car.

Which was in direct opposite of what I agreed to doing. They wanted freedom. They wanted to go to Taco Bell, sit and socialize, and walk home — ON Their own. I was just getting them down there, in time. But now, I was playing chauffeur and I wasn’t happy with that. Its not what I signed up for. I don’t even like them going down to Taco Bell, and putting that crap in their bodies. The drink is at least just sugar, but the rest of it …. Gross!! Especially, not after agreeing to buy snacks that I’m not thrilled with either, that were now, not going to be eaten. I felt manipulated.

I voiced my displeasure, and I yelled and screamed my frustrations.

I know, I know, I know, this is not a healthy way to react to the situation. But I was pissed. I’m still pissed about it, as I’m typing this up. By the time we got home, nobody is happy. They eat sullenly at the table. Nobody enjoying their food. Me sitting in the living room calming down, waiting for them to be done. We are going to talk. Like it, or not.

The shit has literally hit the fan. They are all aware now of the DCF investigation. Daphne having filled in her sisters. Although nobody tells Russell, because I think that we all agree, he is too young to be worried with what if’s. I don’t talk to them about DCF. I talk to them about the actual issue. Them not liking who I am as a parent, me feelings of manipulation because of this; and how its not going to change, and why.

We talk about the Taco Bell incident. They don’t want to talk about it. I tell them that we are, because I don’t want this issue to come up again. I don’t want to just ‘move on’ and ignore the real reasons behind what happened at Taco Bell. I ask them to put themselves into my shoes and tell me what I was supposed to do differently. What was I supposed to do, beyond remaining calm, which I admitted to them, I failed at. Should I have driven away, while they were waving their arms around, chasing after my car? That would just feed right into the shit Barry is claiming about me being a bad mother.

I watched Rebecca and Daphne discuss, calmly how they had mis-communicated to each other. Made assumptions. Listened to Bronwyn jump in and tell them what she had thought was going on. Then asked each of them, what was I supposed to change? How was this Mom’s fault? They all agreed that my only fault was being loud and yelling, at my frustrations of being manipulated. That didn’t make me a bad mother.

That I do things for them, that I wouldn’t do for myself. I do things that they like. Like the TV today. They complained to me in our discussions, that I should just shut up and go back to watching TV. I ignored it at the time, for the outburst that it was. Instead, I waited till this moment, and used it as an example of how I wasn’t watching TV for me; but had it on only for them. “So that you can watch your Austin guy perform during the pre-show. I couldn’t care less about the Super Bowl, its not college football.”

I am going to keep feeding them a vegetable based diet because they get plenty of the crap-foods at school, after school when they go to places like Taco Hell, and every other weekend from their dad. That as a good parent, I’m going to use the other 50% of their foods, in good and healthy things. I’m not going to reward them wasting food, good food, by giving them sugary desserts, if they haven’t eaten the good stuff. That this is what a good parent does. They provide the things that a child needs, not always the things that they want.

I talk to them, about some of the same things that I talked to Daphne about last night and this morning. I am always going to be an Involved Parent. Like it, or Not. I am never going to be that parent that just gives them their every want, desire, and freedom. Never questioning them, or know what they like, or hate. Not knowing what their strengths are, or their fears. I am going to know all of that, and more.

When I asked them: “And do you know why I am going to be that parent? When it could be so much easier to be the parent that just throws some frozen food in the fridge and never asks you anything? Do you know why I choose the harder path?” The only one who answered was Daphne. 🙂

Her reply: “Because we are worth it.”

She was listening. My baby heard me.