My new favorite cooking magazine is Clean Eating. The current issue has several blackberry recipes, two of which looked good to me. One involved salmon, one scallops. I decided to try the scallops with chipotle blackberry sauce this past weekend.
Well, it sure looked pretty on the plate! It is seared scallops with a sauce made from blackberries, lemon juice, honey, and chipotle peppers served over couscous. I added a side of baby broccolini. The scallops were delicious! I bought them at Whole Foods that morning and they were perfect. The sauce was awful! I like spicy food, but the chipotle peppers were too spicy and ruined it for me. I think if I made this again I would eliminate the peppers and maybe just add a bit of chipotle spice from Penzey's instead. (but honestly, I doubt I'd ever make this again. Why ruin perfectly good seared scallops??)
I am a bit hesitant to try the salmon recipe now. This is the first recipe from this magazine that I didn't like.
Reading has been a part of my life always. From my parents reading to me before I could recognize letters to getting my first library card for the Philadelphia Library system to picking out books to buy from the Scholastic weekly reader order form in elementary school, I remember always loving to read and getting "lost" in a book. I have shared my love of reading with my son, who at 33 months is starting to ask what words letters spell and loves his story times before nap and bed time. Recently while at my parents' house I was pulling out many of my old books from childhood and have begun sharing them with Andrew. I found a full shelf of books from the "I can read!" series that I must have collected as an elementary student. While Andrew is still too young to read those books himself, I am anticipating the day when he can read one of my first "I can read!" books, Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff.
The "I can read" series of books debuted in 1957 when a librarian in Boston contacted a friend at HarperCollins because she noticed a need for simple, easy to read books for youngsters who were beginning readers. The first book that was published was Little Bearby Else Holmelund Minarik and was followed by Danny the Dinosaur. Today there are over 200 titles of "I can read!" books in five different levels. I recently bought my seven year old niece, a new reader, one of the Fancy Nancy beginning reader books. She was familiar with the Fancy Nancy picture books and now that she was reading on her own, she could identify and read the story herself. (Giving kids books is my favorite present to give.) What is really great about the "I can read!" series is the price...at under $4 a book, it is an inexpensive investment into a child's future.
How we embrace Summertime Reading...
With no scheduled classes for the summer, Andrew and I take advantage of the free programs offered at out local library. We go to the library at least once a week where Andrew likes to play on the computer with the age-appropriate games and to check out a few new books. He also is a big fan of the children's librarian, Mr. Jim, who has story time each week. During the summer he is holding a mixed ages group for babies, toddlers and preschoolers with their parents every Friday morning. The library has a Summer Read-A-Thon for children of all ages in which they can win prizes for reading books! Monday mornings @ the library is a program featuring a different theme each week for kids 6 years old and younger. I'm looking forward to the visit from the NJ Aquarium! There are also many programs for older children scheduled at the library. I love that our local library has so many wonderful and free programs for kids to encourage their love of reading. Making summer reading fun is a great way to take some boredom out of the lazy days of summer and giving children a chance to exlpore something in a book that will open their mind to new experiences. My goal for Andrew is to further his enjoyment of books and being read to and to encourage him to continue to explore the alphabet. I look forward to the day when he is able to read his first book. Maybe it will be Danny and the Dinosaur!
If you would like to learn more about this "I can read!" campaign for encouraging summer reading for children, please check out this Twitter Moms discussion!
I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms blogging program to be eligible to get an "I Can Read!" book. For more information on how you can participate, click here.
Our little veggie garden continues to thrive. This week I discovered some tomatoes finally growing. Hopefully they will become full-sized and red so we can eat them! Today is fertilizer Friday...the day I water with fertilizer. It's the only way I can remember to do it weekly is by creating a mnemonic saying...I'm that unorganized! The cucumber plants are huge too and beginning to flower. The kohl rabi and broccoli are just green, but growing. The watermelon plants are doing well too, although I really will be surprised if we get actual melons produced. I had to move some basil plants out of there, since the gigantic tomatoes are taking over and blocking the sun. They are now in the herb/flower bed. The squirrels and bunnies seem to prefer the herb garden. I haven't see the cocoon for that wayward caterpillar, but I'm keeping an eye out for butterflies. We are keeping our small bird feeder filled and enjoy seeing all the little finches, chickadees and sparrows feeding. Andrew corrected me yesterday when I pointed out the "little yellow birdie." He informed me that it was a finch. He now calls it a gold finch while I still like little yellow birdie.
On Tuesday, Andrew and I headed over to the Morris Arboretum in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia to meet up with our friends for a walk in the sunny weather. I had never been there before but had heard about the train display. Andrew wasn't feeling great that day, and in retrospect was probably getting sick, but running outdoors in the sun seemed like a good idea at the time.
The Arboretum began in 1887 as a summer home/estate of the Morris family. The brother and sister duo that started the horticultural collection collected specimens of various plants from around the world on their travels. There are more than 13.000 labeled plants of over 2500 types. While our visit did not involve much reading, as we spent much of the time chasing toddlers, we did get a chance to walk around most of the Arboretum. I was really impressed with the greenhouse filled with the fernery collection--it was just beautiful and unlike anything I've ever seen before. The train collection was fun too--and a favorite of Andrew's. They even had a Thomas train on the tracks. My other favorite was the Rose Garden, an elaborate English style garden filled with blooming roses and other flowers. Of course, I forgot a camera that day, so my only photos are from my phone.
One exhibit that particularly caught Andrew's attention was something called Out on a Limb. It was a tree house structure of sorts about 40 feet above the ground! In one section a suspension bridge led to a giant nest filled with huge blue eggs (robin's eggs maybe?) The other section was a series of walkways and nets hung in the trees that one could climb on/in. Through the nets, one could view the ground below--and 40 feet down is really high! Andrew had no problem walking on them, but the visual of the height made me queasy, so I stayed on the wooden and steel walkway.
This is a place we will definitely be exploring again in the future. It was a beautiful day to explore nature.
So if you know me in the "real" world or have been a long time reader (all five of you, thank you!) you may recall that I am not a fan of bugs, spiders, or snakes. I know we have a snake or family of them living in close proximity of our yard, but thankfully I haven't seen him/her/them yet this year. We have our share of insects, but thankfully I have courage to garden with my trusty rubber coated garden gloves, which makes me feel like I can conquer most creepy crawlies that are small. So today I was planting the latest batch of annuals and a sage plant in the garden when I discovered a really fat green caterpillar on the new parsley plant I planted on Sunday. The squirrels and/or rabbits have been enjoying the salad I plant for them and half my herbs have been munched or completely eaten, including the parsley, but I started to realize that maybe this giant caterpillar had eaten some of them. It was a really pretty caterpillar, so while my first instinct was to don my gloves and annihilate the sucker, I decided to photograph it first and look it up on google. I believe what is munching the parsley is a Black Swallowtail Butterfly caterpillar! So he is lucky and is still living. If I have to sacrifice one more herb plant, at least it will be for a butterfly.
The second photo was of the little orange fork-shaped organ on his head that he uses to ward off predators--apparently it is smelly. I had poked him to get him to do it. I know, not very nice, as I would say to Andrew! According the info I found on this type of caterpillar he most likely will not use the parsley to form his cocoon, but wouldn't that be cool if he did? Hopefully he'll hang around long enough for Andrew to see him.
My veggie garden continues to thrive. I borrowed a bunch of books from the library today to learn more about taking care of them, since I sort of winged it with what I did so far. I did fertilize them today and realize that may have been one of my problems in the past--not fertilizing properly. My herb garden has evolved into a flower and herb garden this year and is shaping up nicely as well. Hopefully the basil will flourish so that we'll have an abundance of pesto this summer.