Posts filed under ‘Cooking and eating’

Checklist for home, garden and beyond in 2012

Winter sky

A western Oregon winter sky. Photos Rachel Beck.

Sometimes I think the new year comes at the wrong time. From kindergarten through college, fall was my time for a fresh start, with new teachers, classmates, clothes and books. In nature, spring is when things are born and emerge. But according to the calendar on my wall (even the Australian one, with its backwards seasons), the new year begins in a few days — January 1.

But what is there to do other than get a new calendar? I don’t have new subjects to study, nor is it the right time to plant a garden. Frankly, the chill and the short daylight hours don’t make me feel like starting new projects, unless they involve sleeping or eating more.

The next week, then, is the time to plan and dream. (more…)

12/27/2011 at 1:44 pm Leave a comment

Perfect recipe: Cheap family fun, plus education and bonding

Rolling out dough

Cooking and baking with kids is fun, cheap, and easy. Photo by eyeliam/Flickr.

Today’s post comes from Stella, our parent-in-residence.

I worked on a set of publications for OSU Extension called “Ten Tips for Tough Times.” I got some ideas from the one called “Ten Tips for Low-cost Indoor Family Fun” for some things to do together with my daughter. One idea was to “bake or cook together.”

This has been really fun. I started by showing my daughter how to do simple things, like rinsing lettuce, shucking corn, and shelling peas. Now, after a couple of years, she makes the whole salad by herself while I cook the main dish, and she mixes up the batter for Saturday morning pancakes and cooks them while I make us tea and set the table.

We like being in the kitchen together, she doing one food prep task while I do another. We both enjoy the easy feeling of companionship, working side by side, chatting about this or that. There’s something about working together toward a common goal (our meal) that’s very satisfying.

We’ve baked a cake together several times, too. Over time, she’s learned to use measuring cups and spoons (this has been great for helping her learn fractions, by the way). She loves to measure ingredients and mix the cake batter while I grease the cake pan and start the oven preheating. And of course, licking the frosting bowl is a great reward for a job well done!

She’s a young teenager now. These days, she’ll often get up on a weekend morning and say, “I feel like baking today.” I know she means “together.” And that means a lot to me.


Note: By the way, there are seven different publications with different tips, and they are available in Spanish also.

12/12/2011 at 5:17 pm Leave a comment

Show off your plate

Image of USDA's MyPlate

MyPlate shows you how a nutritious meal should look. Image from

The traditional Food Pyramid was recently replaced by MyPlate. It seems like a sensible move, as it’s much easier to put food on a plate than stack it into a pyramid. OSU’s Be Well blog is looking for examples of real plates. The Post My Plate contest is easy to enter: Take a picture of your (hopefully healthy and well-balanced) plate of food and post it to the Be Well Facebook page by midnight on Dec. 3. You could win a prize, or bask in the glory of inspiring others with your healthy eating!

If you need guidance, check out the resources on Extension’s Food & Nutrition community page.


11/30/2011 at 6:14 pm Leave a comment

Quince, no longer a mystery

Freshly picked quince fruit. Photo by Rachel Beck.

A few days ago, a neighbor of mine sent out an email. Her quince tree had more fruit than she could use, and she was offering fruit up to anyone who would pick it. I  didn’t even know how to pronounce “quince,” but I was intrigued by the offer, so I grabbed a bag and headed to her house. Twenty minutes later, I had as many pounds of quince as I could carry. And no idea what to do with it. (more…)

11/16/2011 at 11:25 am 2 comments

Green tomato update

We've got Roy G, no Biv.

I’ve been ripening my green cherry tomatoes for about 2 weeks now, with mixed success. The photo above is what they look like now, as they sit on a baking sheet in my kitchen. I’ve found that rearranging them to look as much like a rainbow as possible helps with the “watched pot” factor.


11/01/2011 at 10:28 am Leave a comment

Everything garlic, with guest blogger Camille Storch

In this post, we’re excited to feature a guest writer. Camille Storch is an off-the-grid mom of two living and working in rural Oregon.  She writes about ecology, agriculture, and the reality of her modest but joyful lifestyle on her blog, Wayward Spark.

It's garlic time. Photos copyright Camille Storch.

Garlic is amazing. I’m so happy that it exists on this earth. Yeah, there’s the whole bad breath thing, but really, I could care less.

Good garlic kept in a dry storage location will last for months or even over a year. It doesn’t really NEED any specific preservation, but I’m going to offer up a couple alternatives to keeping a heads on the kitchen counter: garlic braids and homemade garlic powder. (more…)

10/25/2011 at 6:36 pm Leave a comment

Green tomatoes? But I want them to be ripe!

So many green tomatoes.

This year has been cold and wet, and boy, did the garden notice. I’ve got a raised bed full of not-so-cherry tomatoes — in fact, I’d say they are simply green tomatoes. As fall winds down, Extension has heard “Can I ripen green tomatoes?” more than once.

An OSU Extension article (here) says the answer is yes. (more…)

10/19/2011 at 3:17 pm 3 comments

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