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Posts tagged ‘childhood’

Bruschetta In Eleven Minutes Tops!

Bruschetta landscape

A favorite in our home because we love Italian food anything, it’s healthy and a snap to make.

Bruschetta in the making

When my daughter was four she came in from munching sweet cherry tomatoes and basil in the garden and exclaimed ” We have a grocery store in our backyard!”  Then she asked…”can we grow a mozzarella plant?” She asked the proper question; can we? If only that were possible. “I wish we could.” was my answer. However, these questions did open the door to researching how mozzarella is made, and where it comes from. I’ve not yet ventured to make it myself, but I hear Mozzarella is pretty easy to produce, so I’ll have to try it and get back to you about that.

Until then, here’s our favorite bruschetta recipe:


1 Local baguette sliced (I love the Mazama Store’s because it has a wee bit of salt on top)
2-3 Red, preferably heirloom, garden tomatoes (however with snow still on the ground, organic vine-ripened tomatoes have the most flavor)
15 Basil leaves or as many as you have slices of bread
Fresh mozzarella (you can find the pre-sliced kind at some stores) to top the slices of bread
salt for sprinkling
Olive oil (Italian) to drizzle
Balsamic Vinegar (aged has a sweeter flavor, but any will do) to drizzle

Bruschetta olive oil drip drop bottle


1. Toast the slices of bread, or if you have time put them over the grill or gas burner, to toast
2. Add sliced mozzarella
3. Add Basil face up to catch some of the oil and balsamic drizzle
4. Add sliced tomatoes to each
5. Sprinkle with salt
6. Drizzle with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar

Bruschetta Ready To Eat!

Buon Appetito!

* Thank you to Diane, Geof, Linda, Marc, Hannah and Eva for patiently waiting to devour these tasty bites while E.A did his photo dance to capture the bruschetta when freshest.

Head Shot RachelleRachelle @ Caramelize Life

“making life a little sweeter, through food, travel and community”



We at Caramelize Life wish you a wonderful Valentine’s Day filled will all that matters most to you.


Head Shot Rachelle Rachelle @ Caramelize Life
“Making Life a Little Sweeter through Food, Travel and Community”

Garden Love: Kids & Carrot Soup

Kids love to garden ~ as long as we elders help that love along:)

How can we as parents hook kids on growing their own food for life?

The main ingredient for kids of any age ~ FUN!

This spring, my daughter was given a single bean to plant inside.  She named the beloved bean–ready for this–“Beanie,” much to our great shock.  She labeled Beanie, watered her and put her in a sunny window.  She invested much in Beanie, singing to her, fanning her, telling her stories.  Now Beanie is about 5 inches tall and needed a home, so a bean teepee was built for Beanie (methods below).  Now, one of her favorite places to be is camped out, making “salad” in the bean teepee.

It’s in this–determining what is really fun for your child–that hooks them on gardening.  Here are some other ideas.

Grow What They Eat

The first vegetable my daughter wanted to eat out of the garden was a sweet pea.  Imagine that.  A sweet pea wanting to eat something as sweet as she!

She proclaimed “these pea pods are just little sacks of sugar!”

She told all her friends in case they hadn’t discovered that definition:)

The first veggie my son loved was the carrot.  We looked up different carrot varieties and he got attached to the type called “short and sweet.”  From 4 years old to the present, he is in charge of the carrot patch:)

Carrots! Easy to grow with children, wonderfully sweet to eat fresh.

Read for Inspiration

Books about families gardening self sufficiently are wonderful introductions as well.  My all time favorite is Oxcart Man.  It teaches about the cycle of the seasons and all the family does to make their own food all year.  Here is how the beautiful tale begins:

Ox-Cart Man, a beautiful description of self-sufficient living in poetry.

“In October he backed his ox into his cart

and he and his family filled it up

with everything they made or grew all year long

that was left over.”

Another great one for kids is Carrot Soup.  Not only is it a hilarious, creative story of a carrot obsessed bunny and his collective of gardener friends, it has a good carrot soup recipe for you and kids to try at the end.

A bean teepee for Beanie:)

Make a Space that Kids Love

If you set aside a corner or two for your little ones, they will love taking ownership of it.  Even a 1 x 3 ” plot is enough for a child to grow food they’ll eat through the summer.

Give them a choice of seeds, and help them decide by thinking about what they like to eat.  Consider an edible flower to enhance the experience ~ my kids are fascinated by any pretty flower to safely consume.

Consider a bean pole teepee.  It sets apart a space that can be just for kids.  They will learn to be careful of planted beds and delicate seedlings, and know that they have a sanctuary where they can also creatively play.  After all, encouraging kids to love the garden through work is not going to be the most effective ~ that comes later!

Include play space in the garden and your kids will join you:)

A bean teepee can be anything you like, but we like to use skinny lodgepole downed in the forest.  Dried river wood offers some wonderful shapes.  The teepee itself can be a work of art in your garden.

One thing I did this year that I will now do every year is to save and dry our sunflower stalks for the following year.  Those long fibrous stocks dry to rock solid by spring.  I leaned them against the garden fence so they wouldn’t rot and let them stand all winter.  In spring they were hard as can be and I cut them to make a criss-cross trellis around the teepee.  (Beans need stalks smaller than lodgepole to climb:)

We planted three varieties of beans and my daughter took up immediate residence in the teepee.  She even asked to sleep there.

Pick the Fruits of Your Labor ~ Together

No matter what, involve your kids in the harvest!  The satisfaction of eating off the vine or picking the fruits of your labor is tough to beat.

Encourage the chillins to set up a little veggie stand if your family has extra, and show them the value of home grown food–for belly and pocketbook.  Rachelle has a great post about involving kids in local farmer’s markets, FIND YOUR MARKET.

I’ve found that the single most powerful way to encourage your kids to love to garden is simple: eat what you love, and grow what you eat!

Carrot Soup

At many farmer’s markets across the country you will find carrots ~ possibly the most kid friendly veggie.

Known to granola crunching vegetarians everywhere, The Moosewood Cookbook (1977 edition by Molly Katzen) is a fabulous addition to any chef’s library.  The carrot soup here is a modification from the Moosewood.

2 lbs peeled or scrubbed, chopped carrots
4 c stock
1 1/2 t salt
1 medium potato, chopped (optional)
4 T butter
1 c chopped onion

Moosewood Cookbook

2 cloves crushed garlic
1/3 c toasted nuts (pumpkin seeds, cashews or almonds)

1/2 pint heavy cream, or 3/4 c sour cream or plain yogurt

Season with:
~ 2 pinches of nutmeg, a dash of cinnamon and 1 t grated ginger.

1.  Place carrots, stock, salt and potato in a medium sized soup pot and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer it for 12-15 minutes. Let it cool to room temp.

2.  Saute the onion and garlic in the butter until the onions are clear. You can sprinkle in a little salt to help draw the moisture out of the onions. Towards the end of cooking, stir in the seasoning combo you choose.

3.  Puree everything together in a food processor or blender until smooth.

4.  Whisk in cream or yogurt just before serving.

5.  Garnish with toasted seeds, nuts or toasted croutons and serve.

Happy Gardening from Georgina @ Caramelize Life

Find more carrot soup recipes on

Read more:

The Barb is On

Rhubarb: how we love thee.  You are full of the zing of spring, yet you are humble and hearty.

And how underestimated you have been in years past!

From early childhood, my mother always made rhubarb sauce (recipe herein), pie, crisps, cobblers and froze whatever was left over for winter delights.

Farmer’s Markets right now have an abundance of Rhubarb, and likely your neighbor does too.  Our last article, Find Your Market has links to markets across the country and rhubarb is one of the most common items sold at this time.

Harvesting rhubarb is easy for kids ~ and produces tasty treats they love

I’ve often heard folks describe rhubarb as a weed or make comments like, ‘what would I do with it?’ To which I respond, ‘I’d be happy to take that off your hands so it’s not in your way.’ I’ll never say no to free barb.

Rhubarb sauce over yogurt was a staple growing up as it is in our home now. We regularly harvest, beginning now, and make sauces for breakfast dishes, lunches and snacks. If the seed stalk is kept cut back, and you trim your barb as it ripens, you can keep a plant producing all summer long.

Bring on the barb!

Kid Friendly Harvest & Recipe

This week, my son Phoenix worked the entire process, garden to table.

He harvested the rhubarb, washed it, cut it and cooked the sauce, all himself.  (Well, I did the taste testing for sugar ratio, otherwise it would have come out heavy on the sweets:).

This is a wonderful recipe to use as a tool to get your kids into gardening and cooking.  The resulting food is something kids love ~ a sweet and tangy sauce that goes well over yogurt, ice cream or, my favorite, breakfast waffles and pancakes.

Rhubarb Sauce

Fresh Rhubarb



~ Chop washed rhubarb into 1 inch chunks and fill a quart sauce pot.  Add enough water to cover the bottom with at least 2 inches.

~ Bring to a simmer on medium-high heat, stirring frequently.  Once the fruit starts to break down, reduce heat to medium-low.

~ Add sugar and continue stirring; once the sauce is simmering again, turn to low.  You may add your sugar to taste, but for a quart pot full of fruit, I generally use about 5 cups sugar.

~ Eat fresh on yogurt, waffles, over ice cream, or jar in Masons and freeze.

Guest Food Blogger Recipe:

Check out a delicious way to use fresh rhubarb in a fruit crisp ~ fellow foodie, Mary Miller shared this great recipe for Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp.  We recommend giving it a try:)

Mary shares good food on her blog, A Passionate Plate.  

NOTES on Rhubarb

Breakfast Treat: waffles, yogurt and sweet rhubarb sauce.

~For planting, try finding an existing plant to cut from.  The root of the barb is like one solid mass.  You can cut right through it to divide the plant.  Don’t worry about damage–this root is hard to kill.  It will grow almost anywhere.

~Water Rhubarb liberally.  I made the mistake years ago of thinking the wild plant on the side of the house didn’t need tending.  Not so–the barb takes a lot of water in spring and through the summer if you want to harvest repeatedly.

~ Save it for later!  If you don’t want to make sauce out of all your barb, wash it, cut it in one inch chunks and bag in the freezer.  It is just as good taken out months later for pies, sauce, chutney or crisps.

~ In the Methow Valley, purchasing rhubarb plants is possible at the Local 98856.  They also have great advice on the plant and others.

Love from Our Kitchen to Yours!  Georgina @ Caramelize Life

Fresh Fish & Zesty Salsa Warm up Winter Nights…

Perch Tacos with Salsa Verde

This taco recipe is a simple, full proof meal that can be easily modified to your liking.  Combining the sweet tang of tomatillos (even easier to grow than tomatoes) and the smokiness of jalapenos hits a perfect balance.  Paired with the light fresh texture of winter white fish, we see it pleases almost any palate.

“Son!” is the constant refrain heard from inside the Ice Shanty throughout the winter.  That’s short for “it’s on!”-a phrase we learned quickly when perch and trout fishing out on the ice with family and friends.  Once the state fish and wildlife department announces the ice is thick enough and safe, the shanty is skied out to live on Lake Paterson until the spring thaw.  (It is converted into “deer camp” in the fall.)

And through the winter, patiently braving the cold is rewarded with buckets of fresh, flaky perch, delicate trout and delectable Kokanee (lake dwelling sockeye salmon).

Since the fish and water are so cold in the dead of winter, there is never a trace of “fishy” flavor in these perch.  They may be smallish, even tiny, but are so fresh and prolific that it is completely worth the effort.  Being small fish, they are perfect for tacos, chowders or an easy fish and chips.

Ice fishing is fun and productive.  It is a wonderful first fishing experience for children because they can easily bait their own hook, catch their fish and keep going at it, all by themselves.

The first time that Phoenix  age 6, went ice fishing, he was so ecstatic that he plunged his hands into the icy water, refusing gloves, bringing up one fish after another off his line.  (That’s not to suggest you catch the perch with your hands, he was just very enthused.)

Paired with the Salsa Verde below this recipe is packed with flavor.

1 lb Perch or other white fish such as halibut or snapper
t 1.c bread crumbs
1 large organic egg or 2 small
1 c. Jalapeño Salsa Verde
1-3 T. Olive oil
8 tortillas
1 c. shredded purple cabbage
½ c. Mexican crema or creme fraiche
½  c. additional Jalapeño Salsa Verde or Tomato Salsa
1 c. chopped fresh cilantro
½ c. green onions
Lime wedges for serving

The fish works well breaded and fried, or quickly broiled.  For frying, mix your eggs, briefly soak the fish fillets, then bread.  In a heavy sauté pan over medium heat, warm the oil. Arrange the fish on the pan and cook until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn over and cook until the fish is opaque throughout, about 1-2 more minutes more. Timing depends on the thickness of your fish.  Rather than time it exactly, take your cue from the fish.
To assemble each taco, place 1/8 of the fish in the center of the tortilla and top with 2 T. cabbage, 1-2 T. crema, 1-2 T. salsa, then garnish with 1 T. cilantro and 1 T. green onions.  Wrap and bake briefly or sauté in a heavy skillet.  Serve the tacos with lime wedges, sour cream or topping of choice.

Jalapeño—Tomatillo Salsa

2 Pint Yield

This salsa recipe is one of our favorites.  It combines the exotic sweetness of tomatillos with the smoky zest of jalapeños.  Without being big and chunky in texture, it is much thicker than similar tomato salsas.  Go liberal on garlic and cilantro to taste, as the salsa benefits from each.  And feel free to change up the ratios to your liking–with this recipe it is fun to get creative.

We’ve been whittling down this salsa for years and one thing is for sure: amount does not equate to quality.  Even the smallest batch of this salsa goes a long way, both because of its flavor and thickness.  It’s definitely spiced up our winter nights:)  Enjoy!

5 1/2 c. husked and chopped Tomatillos
1 c. chopped Jalapenos, fresh or roasted
1 c. chopped onion
6 cloves minced garlic
1/2 t. salt
2-3 T. freshly ground cumin
1/2 c. cider vinegar

up to 1/2 c. other pepper variety to taste such as green chills or cayennes (optional)

1/4 c. lime juice

1/2 c. cilantro

Chop tomatillos, peppers, onion and garlic separately by hand or food processor.  Combine all ingredients except cilantro and lime juice in a sauce pan over medium high heat.  Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for at least 5 minutes.  Add lime juice and cilantro for last 2 minutes of cooking.  Ladle hot salsa into jars.  Can in water bath or pressure cooker, or enjoy fresh.

recipe Serves 4

Note: We usually make a double or triple batch of this salsa.  It is just as good preserved by canning or freezing. 


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