vegetarian awareness week

Vegetarian Awareness Week: My First Live TV Cooking Demo

Did you know the second week in September is Vegetarian Awareness Week? If you’re like me, eating veggies over meat is just a no-brainer; I think the last time I remember actually consuming a red meat burger was during my college years in 1985…

Things have definitely changed since then. I could barely cook back in the 80s, and going out for burgers was an exciting dinner treat on our budget. Just look at me now! Some of my best moments are spent in my garden and kitchen with my kids, cooking and eating as healthy as possible.

vegetarian awareness week

Living in California, having space to grow my own veggies and citrus in my backyard, and easy access to local farmer’s market produce has been such a gift towards healthy eating and cooking. This year we planted San Marzano tomatoes and 30 pepper plants! It seems like there’s always something in season that’s so delicious and full of nutrients that raising my kids on a low meat diet was simple; they’ve become fine cooks and enjoy trying all sorts of seasonal fruits and veggies. To encourage a love of food, one thing I always did when they were little was allowed them to pick out one new fruit or veggie on every grocery shopping trip. This didn’t always result in a new addition to their palate, but it did always result in them trying something new, like it or not.

Vegetarian Awareness Week
Making vegetarian tamales – I love cooking with my kids!

Vegetarian Awareness Week is just a perfect opportunity for me to share my love of cooking and healthy eating, and thanks to the folks at Cucina Antica, I have the opportunity to do my first ever live cooking demo on TV! And yes, just a little bit nervous, but honestly knowing that the product I’m sharing is one I use and enjoy makes it easier. You can watch my live demo here. Have you tried Cucina Antica cooking sauces? Cucina Antica sauces are authentic family recipes with no added sugar or preservatives and made with imported Italian San Marzano tomatoes. I love the copious amounts of veggies in each jar, the lack of artificial preservatives and no added sugar, as well as the variety of dishes I can make with each one.

For Vegetarian Awareness Week I’ll be making this yummy recipe for Spaghetti with Sautéed Eggplant – I’m so excited!

 Ingredients:

  • 1 jar Cucina Antica Tomato Basil Sauce
  • 1 lb. Spaghetti
  • 2 tbsp. Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 6 baby eggplants
  • 2 tsp. Romano cheese
  • Fresh basil to garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  Preparation:

  1. Slice eggplants into 1/4″ vertical strips. In a medium sauté pan, heat the olive oil.
  2. Season eggplants with salt and pepper and sauté in oil until just slightly wilted. Set aside.
  3. Prepare spaghetti al dente. Meanwhile, heat Cucina Antica Tomato Basil Sauce.
  4. When pasta is finished, drain and coat with one cup of sauce to prevent noodles from sticking.
  5. Plate pasta and top with eggplant slices. Cover with remaining sauce and top with Romano cheese.
  6. Garnish with basil and serve.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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My Best Life, November 2013

when autumn

flares out at the last,

boisterous

and like us longing 

to stay- how everything lives,

shifting

from one bright vision to another,

forever

in these momentary pastures.
~Mary Oliver

November…that time of year when the world begins to slow down, the morning bike rides to work are brisk to the fingers and nose, and the afternoon returns with warmth and sunshine. November…that time of year when we begin to hunker down, reflect, prepare, and hug those we love just a little bit more tightly.

What I loved this November:

Best Views:

Super Soul Sunday

Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou

Whether you love Oprah or not, you’ve got to check out her Super Soul Sunday series. I may be a bit slow to become hooked, but this month she offered some thoughtful and thought-provoking episodes that had me watching them over and over again. One of my favorites this month was Oprah’s talk with Maya Angelou. She even inspired my fourteen-year-old son to watch with me and to write his Great American essay about what he learned.

Best Books:

Help. Thanks. Wow by Anne Lamott

Help. Thanks. Wow. morning read for gratitude
Help. Thanks. Wow. morning read for gratitude

Anne never disappoints me; this book may be less lengthy than some of her others, but it helped me start my mornings off with inspiration, gratitude and guidance. Next up on my Lamott must-read list: Stitches.

The Last Winter of Dani Lancing by P.D. Viner

This book wasn’t a ‘feel good’ read like Help.Thanks.Wow., but it did make me think about how grateful I am to have my children to love every day. The Last Winter of Dani Lancing, tells the story of a twenty-year-old college student’s murder twenty years prior, and her parent’s struggle to come to grips with life without her.

Best Blog Reads:

From the beautiful blog, Barnstorming, I loved the post about the Gift of Fragility. At this time of year, and when I’m feeling especially vulnerable to change, I find myself clinging to every fragile moment.

I love the daily posts from First Sip, and this poem about the love for a daughter made my heart weep. Made me think of my own beautiful, strong girl who is about to leave home. Consider having First Sip delivered to your inbox, too.

Day 1 of training: ✔️ #geterdone via _lilwolfey_
Day 1 of training: ✔️ #geterdone via _lilwolfey_

Best Recipes:

My daughter was on a Wednesday afternoon baking kick (must have had something to do with the stress of college apps due this month), and pumpkin topped the list. Our favorite? This recipe for moist and somewhat-healthy pumpkin bread.pumpkin bread

Twice this month my son requested spaghetti and meatballs; our favorite recipe was Giada’s Turkey Meatballs from Food Network. So easy and delicious-you should try them tonight!

Another sweet treat we tried this month came from one of my favorite recipe blogs, Iowa Girl Eats. Her recipe for Mini Pumpkin Sticky Buns uses pumpkin butter, crescent roll dough and November-flavored spices to create a sticky sweet bunch of yum!

Best Quotes:

Mr. Johnson (Sesame Street)
Mr. Johnson (Sesame Street) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Amidst all the hunkering down and reflection, when I received this quote in my daily email from Goodreads it sure made me smile and remember times when life was so simple. Happy birthday, Sesame Street!

“Sunny day , Sweepin’ the clouds away, On my way to where the air is sweet ” – Joe Raposo

Best Photos:

Instagram is my new fave photo website, and I’d love to connect with you there! Here are some of the shots I loved best this month:

My boy and my dog...love.
My boy and my dog…love.
How could they betray me so?
How could they betray me so?
I tried to spend more time looking up than down in November
I tried to spend more time looking up than down in November

Best Websites:

Looking for some good news? Try Daily Good as an alternative to other news websites-you’ll surely find something to smile and think about.

I’m always looking for education inspiration, and lately I’ve found it on Edutopia. It’s worth a look if you’re interested in cutting edge education practices.

Are you a pinner? I use Pinterest for all sorts of things: collecting recipes, ideas for writing, teaching resources, places I’d love to travel…the ideas are endless. I’d love to pin with you here.

Best Moments:

Our teenage daughters talked us into a spontaneous trip to the Warfield in San Francisco to see Hoodie Allen…yeah, we’d never heard of him either. After completely embarrassing our girls by insisting we watch over them until the entered the theater (the Warfield is in one of the sketchiest parts of SF), we enjoyed a fabulous girls night out on the town!

Girls night out in SF
Girls night out in SF

 While I can’t honestly say that grading all these notebooks was my favorite moment, I can tell you that when my daughter arrived with a surprise coffee it made the afternoon so much more bearable!

Coffee makes everything easier...
Coffee makes everything easier…

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday month ahead.

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Travel with mamawolfe: Healdsburg and Camellia Inn

Once a year, my husband and I get to take a weekend away to a bed and breakfast – you might remember our last adventure to Hanford House in Sutter Creek, California.

20130721-100702.jpgThis year our destination was Healdsburg, California, and in true road trip style, we made several stops along the way.

I love watching Food Network’s Diners, Drive Ins and Dives, and when I travel and don’t know where to eat, I always search for a place Guy Fieri has visited – so far, I’ve never been disappointed.

We stopped at La Texanita in Santa Rosa, California, and were delighted with our meal.  You seriously don’t want to miss this food – the chicken huarache was one of the best I’ve ever had!

La Texanita huaraches
La Texanita tacos

Simple veggie tacos were so yummy, made with homemade tortillas…what a difference a tortilla makes!

La Texanita huaraches
La Texanita huaraches

After enjoying a sunny table outside and stuffing ourselves silly, we finished our drive and landed at Camellia Inn in Healdsburg.

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I love to take photos of the room before we mess it up!

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We had so much space to spread out; I could have stayed here for weeks!

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The rooms were beautiful, yet comfortable. It felt like a real living space, not something manufactured to look like one.

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Our room was tucked off the side of the main house, but just a short walk across the covered veranda took us into the dining room/living room area. I loved discovering all the collections!

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Just to keep pampering us, the owners of Camellia Inn host a wine and cheese tasting by the pool at dusk. We settled into the chairs, enjoyed the gorgeous warm evening and finished just a few bottles of local Zin.

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One of my favorite parts about this weekend was that everywhere I found myself I was able to sink in and enjoy the moment, the food, the wine, and the people. Downtown Healdsburg has a huge array of restaurants to choose from, and we eventually settled on Willi’s Seafood and Raw Bar. Our appetizer of fried calamari could and probably should have been an entire course.20130721-101021.jpg

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But we had read about the warm lobster roll sandwich, so we had to try that,too!

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As if we needed more food…but couldn’t resist the home made breakfast served family-style in the dining room.20130721-101101.jpg

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If you like botique-style shopping, Healdsburg has a lot to offer. We usually go for the antique stores, but on this trip I was entranced with these bright colored fabric and festive designs.

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For us, no trip to Healdsburg would be complete without a stop at Madrona Manor, the country inn where we were married 19 years ago.20130721-101149.jpg

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It still takes my breath away.

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Now, there’s an organic vegetable garden lining the path I walked during my bridal procession.

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The cutting garden is astounding – rows and rows of flowers, so many different colors and textures. I wanted to stay there all day.

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I can’t say enough good things about Healdsburg; it’s really one of those places where you can just sit back and enjoy the day.

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Sorry Paula Deen, But Words CAN Really Hurt You

Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.

– Rudyard Kipling

sticks and stones
sticks and stones and words (Photo credit: Lisa monster)

So much of my life is consumed by language. As a parent, I read all the What To Expect  books before and during my children’s younger years. I remember reading that to develop language, parents should speak everything out loud so the child would learn to acquire the correct vocabulary. I happily spent my days with baby Lily repeating “book”, “dog”, “peaches”, “Daddy”, “tree”, “bird” with endless enthusiasm. I wondered it strangers thought I was losing my mind. I never was the outspoken type myself.

Not surprisingly, it worked. She acquired lots of language, and with the help of ‘Baby Signs‘ became quite adept at expressing her feelings at a very young age. I loved it. I knew when she was happy, confused, and frustrated, and whenever she flashed that huge, drooly grin I knew the mind-numbing repetition was all worth it. Of course, until the day she oh-so-appropriately exclaimed “God dammit” at two years old. I had some explaining to do, but it gave me a strong reminder of the power of language.

My son would talk to anyone. I pitied the poor workers that came to remodel our house when he was two years old. He followed around the plumbers, the electricians, and anyone who would pay the smallest amount of attention to his burgeoning vocabulary. His precociousness usually garnered a smile from them as they went about their work, often engaging him in dialogue. He beamed and kept right on talking.

As a middle school English teacher, I start each year with an intense study of connotation and denotation of language. We read Lois Lowry’s novel, The Giver, and discuss precision of language in great detail. I know my students have heard the ‘sticks and stones’ nursery rhyme, but I want to break down that notion. I disagree. Words can really hurt you. Badly.

The real origin of that nursery rhyme can be traced back to the late 1800s, when it was presented in a publication of the African Methodist Episcopal Church as

Sticks and stones will break my bones
But words will never harm me.”

As any socially aware person knows, incidents of bullying and racism still exist in our world, and with the advent of technology and the ability to speed up communication, words spread faster than ever. We need to teach our children that words WILL harm them, and that just ignoring them isn’t enough. We need to choose our language carefully, always thinking about what the connotation is and the historical implications that may forever be associated with them.

Sorry, Paula Deen, but you’re learning this lesson the hard way.

FC 250 Grand Marshal, Paula Deen
FC 250 Grand Marshal, Paula Deen (Photo credit: Bristol Motor Speedway & Dragway)

Celebrities have the unfortunate responsibility of being scrutinized for their every action. As much as technology and social media helps actors, musicians, writers, artists, and even chefs to spread their message and boost their sales, the flip side is the enormous social responsibility that goes along with it. Celebrities can choose to use their words to promote positive social change, like Macklemore does, or they can carelessly toss about hurtful and discriminatory language that does nothing but show their ignorance and perpetuate stereotypes. Sorry, Paula Deen. Apparently no amount of butter, sugar and friendly ‘y’alls’ can grease your way out of this one.

Some may say that the media  is over-reacting. That Paula Deen really isn’t a racist, a sexist, or anything else that she’s accused of. They may say that everyone makes mistakes and she should be forgiven. They may even say that anyone over the age of 60 should not be chastised for using the ‘n’ world, especially if they grew up in the South.

I don’t buy it.

There are no do-overs here. Once a word has escaped our mouths, it cannot be retrieved. It hangs there, in space, like a cloud that could either dissipate or drop hail. But it’s there for all to see. Words do hurt. Names do hurt. Stereotypes are perpetuated through ignorant use of language and irresponsible adults who think that if they get ‘caught’, they can just deny their culpability and say they really didn’t mean it.

How does that feel to the gay person who is called a ‘f’?

A black person who is called a ‘n’?

A woman who is called a ‘b”?

A Latino who is called a ‘s’?

A child who is called anything they deem hurtful, deflating, or just plain mean?

So thank you, Food Network, and all the other corporate sponsors who are taking this opportunity to stand up for language. You did the right thing. Don’t back down to those who say she really didn’t mean it. Because even if she didn’t, she said it. She had a choice with her language, and she threw down words that hurt. And she got caught. There’s a lot of kids out there who are watching her, and they need to know the power of language.

I hope we can all learn from this.

Sticks and stones may break your bones,

and words CAN really hurt you.

Sticks and Stones
Sticks and Stones (Photo credit: alsokaizen)

 

 

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Julia Child Started It All: My Cooking Show Obsession

julia cooking

My name is Jennifer Wolfe, and I love cooking shows.

It all started when I was a kid-it’s my mom’s fault, you see.  Along with Sesame Street and the Dinah Shore Show, I remember watching Julia Child at a very young age. I was fascinated with how she could entertain and create food right there on the screen, and my mom could copy whatever she made.  It was magic.

Once I moved out of the house and into my own apartment, my cooking wasn’t so much magic as it was a mess.  I tried to duplicate my mom’s recipes, but usually I either ended up crumpled in tears or fanning black smoke from the kitchen. I think one of the reasons I agreed to marry my husband was the way he handled my first attempt at making spaghetti sauce from scratch, and ate every charred chunk of meat without complaining.

My little black and white TV became my companion as I discovered Yan Can Cook and the Frugal Gourmet...every Saturday morning I would do my house cleaning, study a bit, and then fill my Berkeley apartment with the glorious images of their culinary creations.  I bought their cookbooks and began to actually be a decent cook myself.the-frugal-gourmet-cooks-italian-31087l1

When my kids were little, Martha Stewart was all the rage; somehow I thought that watching repeats of her show at 3 am when nursing my firstborn was a good idea.  When I realized that I could not work full time, parent my children and keep my house moderately clean, let alone come up with marshmallows from scratch and decorate for every season, I clicked her off.

Then, along came Food Network.  My dreams had been answered; whatever I wanted to cook, at any time of day or night, was there at the click of the remote.  Guy Fieri took me to affordable diners, Giada tempted me with her laid back California cuisine, Barefoot Contessa reminded me to minimize my butter intake, and The Next Food Network Star was perfect family reality TV entertainment. Cooking is cool again.

Over the years I’ve tried endless TV chef’s recipes, and created a binder system to store favorite recipes.  I keep a healthy Pinterest account with recipes to try, and have even checked out a Meal Planning Template that helps to plan and purchase food for a week’s worth of recipes.  Currently, I keep a white board on the kitchen wall with menu options for the week, and the kids help me choose what to eat each night. Not super high tech, but it works.

Right now, I’ve got to get downstairs and get cooking.  Watching Paula Deen today made us crave watermelon and angel food cake…and Pioneer Woman’s Fancy Mac n Cheese!

What’s your favorite cooking show? How did you learn to cook?

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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