Sunday, June 26, 2011

Share Our Strength - No Kid Hungry

Good Sunday Morning Everyone!

Photo Courtesy of

As I stated in yesterday's post, there are a few issues that I'd like to bring awareness to in the coming weeks. What follows is information about an issue that is of great importance to me and after you've read more about it, I believe that you'll understand why that is.

You may have noticed the link on my side-bar for the organization Share Our Strength (SOS). Well, this amazing organization is very dear to my heart and I'm always more than happy to spread the word about them and their incredible achievements whenever I get the opportunity. I received an email  recently from Oscar winning actor, Jeff Bridges, who is the National spokesperson for SOS's No Kid Hungry (NKH) Campaign. In it, he speaks about NKH/SOS and their nation-wide campaign to enroll millions of qualified children across the country, in the summer breakfast/lunch programs that are already available in many of their cities and towns. I'd like to share a few excerpts from the email. 

Photo courtesy of Google Images

"Kids should be kids. They ought to be going to the playground, or going to the pool. But instead, when school lets out for the summer, millions of kids will go hungry. In fact, there are 17 million low-income children who rely on school lunches but don't get free summer meals.

During the school year, these kids get most of their meals at school, but each summer millions of them go hungry. That’s where you come in. Your support today is critical to making sure we connect kids with meals this summer. Don’t forget that when you make a gift, it will matched dollar-by-dollar up to $25,000 by the Ansara Family Fund at the Boston Foundation — doubling the power of your gift. Together, we can expand our reach and connect more kids and families to resources and tools that will prevent them from starving.

There’s going to be a lot happening this summer, starting with a Summer Meals Road Trip that pulls out of the driveway on June 7. A few staff members from Share Our Strength will be visiting more than 25 sites across 9 states—highlighting local resources and partner organizations, drawing attention to childhood hunger, and working face-to-face in the community to connect hungry kids with summer meals programs in their areas. The team assures me they’ll keep you in the loop when the wheels start rolling. In the meantime, let’s make sure this matching donation goes as far as possible."

Jeff Bridges, for Share Our Strength

I've been aware for some time, of the multitude of children in the US who rely on free or reduced price breakfasts and/or lunches from fully funded programs during the school year, but I am ashamed to say that it never crossed my mind that these same children would likely go without what is probably their one and only nutritious daily meal, during the summer break. Even more shocking to me, was the fact that many of these children live in areas where there are already fully funded and established breakfast or lunch programs available to them during the summer, but are not enrolled in these programs simply because their families are not aware that they exist. SOS and NKH are on a mission to change all of that.

Photo courtesy of

I found this short video that helps to better explain what this seriously worth-while project is all about. I hope you'll take a few minutes to check it out.

I've never been one to discuss or debate politics or religion and I'm not about to start now, but frankly, this campaign is a completely non-partisan effort, backed by Democrats, Republicans and everyone in between. It isn't about which side of the aisle we agree or disagree with.  It's about kids.  Beautiful, bright, talented kids who are hungry and families who are struggling to put even one square meal a day on the table.  Mr B and I are not wealthy by anyone's calculation, but we've been blessed with the ability and the resources to provide food, clothing and shelter for our family over the last 25+ years. I couldn't even begin to fathom what it must be like not having the resources to feed my children. I have a lump in my throat just writing this post.

I'd like to add a few last words from Billy Shore, Executive Director of SOS:

"Around the country, summer marks a critical time for the millions of children who rely on free or reduced-price school lunches every day. As Erica, a first grade teacher told us, “For most of our students, the meals that they receive at school…are the only food they receive all week.” When school is out, these children are less likely to have access to adequate nutritious food. And when they return to the classroom in the fall, they often have not received proper nutrition, making them less likely to retain any of the skills they had learned previously."

If you'd like to make a donation or find out about other ways that you can support Share Our Strength and No Kid Hungry, just click on the SOS badge on my sidebar and it will take you to their website. No child should go hungry anywhere in the world, and certainly not in our own cities and towns here in the US.  So, Please... Take the pledge. Make a donation. Have a neighborhood bake sale. Spread the word. No effort is too small. You'll be doing so much more than feeding hungry bellies. You'll be feeding the hungry minds that will one day lead this great nation of ours.

~Mrs B

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Honey, I'm Home!

Howdy friends!

Thanks so much for all of the well wishes for our trip! You'll be happy to know that they worked!!! As much as it's always fabulous to take a vacation from the everyday routine, it's always just as nice to get back home.

Before I go any further, please let me apologize for missing two Seasonal Food Friday Posts while I was away. I'd set up last week's post to launch on Friday morning, but for some reason it didn't (Blogger??) and I was so busy doing all the things that you do on vacation, I never had time to check in on the blog to see what was going on. My laptop never even came out of the bag! We decided to stay on for a few extra days and after an exhausting 12 hour car ride home yesterday, this week's post never made it off the ground either!  I promise that I'll do my very best to make it up to you all with some extra recipes in the coming weeks!  Any special requests??

As far as the trip was concerned, we had a great time! The weather cooperated quite nicely, but the best part of the whole trip was getting the chance to see our daughter for a few days! Even better, she missed us so much that she actually decided to hop in her car and drive up here this morning and will be here until next Tuesday! Yay!!

So.... Since I'm not unpacked yet and my house is not even close to being ready for the gang of out of town family and friends who will be decending upon us mid-week and staying here through the July 4th holiday, I've planned a few different posts for the week ahead. There will be some scoop and photos from our trip and a few recipes of course, but I also have a couple of very important "food themed" issues to share with you, starting with tomorrow's post.  If all goes as well as I hope it will, I'll have a couple of surprises coming up too!!

Last, but certainly not least, I couldn't possibly close this post out before giving a special shout-out to local boy and "Amazing" newly drafted Sacramento Kings point guard (possibly?) Jimmer Fredette, with this newly released video by his older brother, hip hop artist (and friend of my daughter's) TJ Fredette.  Go Jimmer!  Congrats on your incredible success, past, present and future!

Live Well, Eat Well !

~Mrs B

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Road Trip!!!

Howdy folks!

Mr B and I are taking a little trip down D.C. way, to visit family. (including our beautiful daughter! Yay!)  We're leaving some time in the wee hours on Wednesday because Mr B likes to avoid rush hour around NYC and some of the larger cities to the South.  We might very well be on the road as you read this!

I'll be doing my best to pop in here when/if I can, but the Seasonal Food post is all set for Friday and  should be up first thing in the morning.  We should be back by next Wednesday, but who knows?? A little side trip on the way home is never out of the question!!!!

Maybe a little detour to a beachy resort town?

Possibly a trip into Boston and one of my faves, Quincy Market? (a little eating and shopping never hurt anyone, right?)

Might try a stop-over in the City of Brotherly...
 Or... A leisurely drive down Millionaires Row, perhaps?

How about just coming straight home and relaxing in our own "backyard"....

Hmmm.... What do you think?  Well, one thing I do know for sure is that wherever we go we'll be praying for fair skies and mild temperatures.  I'll miss you all and I'll be thinking of you while I'm out shopping, dining and sunning myself on the sand! hee hee...

Mwah!!  See you soon!

~Mrs B

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It's Time To "Pay It Forward" !!

Good Tuesday Morning Everyone!

The time is here for my second week participating in the great new meme, hosted by my good friend Holly at A Life-Size Catholic Blog" called "Pay It Forward".  (just click on the button below to learn all about it and/or join in!)

The blog/blogger/post that I've chosen today is a post titled "The Nesting Instinct, OR Why Writers Do What They Do" at  Acquainted With The Night, a blog written by an exceptional author (and truly lovely lady) by the name of  Piper Maitland.  I've already pre-ordered her current book "Acquainted With the Night" for my Kindle and I'm soooo looking forward to it's hard cover and e-book release in November of this year! With the warmer weather finally arriving, it seems like I don't have five minutes to sit down and read, but by the end of Autumn, I'll be itching to curl up with this thriller! (Did you ever notice that we humans tend to rush around all Spring & Summer getting things done - just like squirrels do in the Fall?)

While I always enjoy Piper's posts, the one that I'm focusing on this week made me stop and really think about how I view myself as a "writer".  Trust me, I have never written a novel or even a short story (that was published, that is) but I can relate to Piper's sense of needing to nurture and tend to her words as if they were fragile eggs huddled in a nest.  I guess when push comes to shove, all bloggers are "writers" at some level. We write stories about how our day has been, or about childhood memories or a job or our families. Even a recipe post can be like a short story. (or a rather long meandering one if you're me. LOL) Call it obsession. Call it passion. No matter why it is that we we write, whether it's fiction or something biographical, I believe we all want the words we choose to genuinely reflect who we are.

Piper Maitland
Trust me, I have no delusions that my posts are great literary works.... But they are, in the end, a reflection of me. "Me" the person. "Me" the writer. Even when it's only a paragraph or sometimes just a sentence or two, I think we all want to give the best impression we can when we speak or when we write. Piper's thoughts on being a writer, reminded me that words can be powerful and precious and it's up to those of us who publish our words to nurture and protect them. We may all go about it in our own unique way, but I think we all "sit on our nests" whether they're in a book or in a blog.

Excerpt from the post:

"If you don’t take your work seriously, how will anyone else respect it? Some people are blessed—bolstered by their nearest and dearest. For some, the words might hatch in abundance. No struggle. No defensive clucking. The rest of us are in the hen house, guarding our wee egg, flapping our wings at intruders."

Please pop over to "Acquainted With The Night" and say hello to Piper. I doubt very much that you'll leave there without learning and understanding more about yourself as a writer. And as a bonus, you'll be meeting a truly talented author and very gracious lady. (While you're there, don't forget to check out her tab about the book!)

Monday, June 13, 2011

I've Received A Lovely Award!

Good Monday Morning Everyone!

I'm pleased, humbled and flattered to say that I've received The Sunshine Award from my good friend, Holly at "A Life-Size Catholic Blog" !!

It came as no surprise to me that Holly received this award. She's an extremely bright, upbeat gal who blogs about her personal journey to truly know, understand and embrace her Church, to strengthen her knowledge and to serve God in a new (and rapidly growing) "cyber based" world of worship and stewardship.  Her posts are extremely well written, often humorous, and always passionate about her family, her friends and of course, her faith.  Holly and her blog have even gained some recent notoriety surrounding Matt Lauer's "curious" gift to Pope Benedict during his visit to Rome! You should definitely stop by and check Holly and her fabulous blog out for yourself. You don't have to be Catholic or deeply religious to appreciate who Holly is and what she writes about. I know you'll get hooked, just like I did!

So, here's the skinny on what this award asks of it's lucky recipients...

  1. Thank the person who awarded you and link back to them  
  2. Tell one thing about yourself 
  3. Then nominate 10 blogs 
  4. Stop by and let them know you chose them 

OK, I've taken care of point number one.  Now, I guess I need to tell you all something about myself.

Hmmm... The first food I ever cooked without any assistance from an adult, was Pot Roast. I was such a fan of the whole meat and gravy, with slowly braised potatoes, carrots & onions thing that I guess I wanted to have it for dinner more frequently than Mama wanted to make it. So, after watching her a couple of times, I made it myself one chilly September day and then several times again over the years.  Mama checked in on me here and there, to make sure I wasn't burning the house down or lopping off a finger, but I was basically on my own. That was 40 years ago and I was a whopping 9 years old that first time.  I guess that was the beginning of my love of cooking....

Now, for the part that I find the most difficult...  Who do I pass the award on to?? Call me crazy, but I always feel like a mom favoring one child over another. (or in this case 10)  So, what do I do?  Well, I genuinely enjoy all of the blogs that I choose to follow but I can't choose them all.  Then take into account that I've never been very good at following all of the rules.  Then add in the fact that Mr B and I are heading out of town this Wednesday in the wee hours and I'm running around like the proverbial beheaded chicken. So, all of that being said, I've decided to go with 5 blogs who are relatively new (or newer) to blogging or maybe haven't had long to build up as many followers as they'd like to. I look at it this way... The majority of these awards are meant to help provide exposure to fellow bloggers so they can get the recognition they deserve, so why not help each other?  We all like making new friends! And, since I'm no good at just choosing a few out of many, I'm also putting it out there for everyone else who'd like to grab it and pass it on. So, without further ado...  Here we go! (In no particular order)

 Please make sure to stop by and visit all of these great blogs!  I'm sure you'll be glad you did!
~Mrs B

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

It's a Busy, Hoppy Tuesday!

Happy Tuesday morning! No... That isn't a typo in the blog title. I've recently learned of two new blog hops/memes that are being hosted by an older (not chronologically older!) friend and a brand new one.

The first is "Pay It Forward" hosted by the very lovely Holly at "A Life-Size Catholic Blog"  and the second is "My Week At A Glance" hosted by my new blog friend, Cindy at "For One Another".  The two hops/memes aren't exactly the same, but they both have a little something that makes them seem like they'll work well together.  So...... I'm linking up with both of these good ladies today! (You can read about the rules of each by clicking on the blog names above)

Now, about my post......

This post took a lot of time and thought. (and a whole lotta reading) Not because I don't have a plethora of amazing blogs and bloggers to choose from right at my fingertips. Conversely, it's because I do have a plethora of amazing blogs and bloggers at my fingertips that I had such a hard time. I did make a decision and it was a bit easier to make when I remembered that this is a weekly opportunity for me to spread the love.

So, on to my first week with these two hops/memes:

I've chosen a blog/post written by my very dear friend, Robin  at "Your Daily Dose" for this week. I really debated whether I should or shouldn't put any new focus on her blog this week because she's been through a terrible tragedy recently.  The loss of her beloved father.  On the one hand, I didn't want to make it seem like I was exploiting my friend during this very difficult time, but at the same time her posts over the last couple of months (especially this last week) have made a difference in my life.

Robin is a true example of someone who believes that it's possible to forgive others, even when they might not deserve it. She's shown me through her strength (even though she doesn't see herself a strong right now) that we need to (and we can) persevere through very painful periods in our lives, by recognizing and leaning on our faith our family and our friends. It's not the first time I've been in awe of Robin's spirit. She has inspired me and taught me, cried with me and made me laugh right out loud more times than I could ever recount here. I sincerely hope she doesn't feel that I'm intruding on her grief by choosing her for this post. But knowing Robin, she'll understand...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Happy Monday!

Good Monday Morning!

I haven't joined in on Java's fun Monday meme for quite some time, so I thought it would be a fun thing to do this week!  It's a sweet way to start the week and I love the fact that right out of the gate, it allows you to learn some intersting little tidbits about each blogger that you visit. If you've never linked up to Never Growing Old's  Meet Me On Monday meme before, give it a try! I know you'll have loads of fun!  (to learn more about our hostess, the lovely Java, just ckick on her name above)

So, here are this weeks questions!

1. What is was the last piece of candy that you ate?
2. Do you "read" in the bathroom?

3. I can't stand when someone _________?
4. Do you do daily, weekly or monthly grocery shopping?

My answers are......

1.  The last piece of candy I ate was actually a handful of M&M's ! I know that's not just one piece, but in candy parlance I'd say it counts!  Hub's prefers the Peanut M&M's, but I'm a traditional kind of girl and I loooove the originals!

2.  Well... Some folks might not like to admit it, but I think everyone at some point in their lives picks up a magazine, a good book or maybe the flyers from the Sunday paper and heads on in to the "throne room" for what we call around here, a "sit down".  Judging by the photo below, some people take this very seriously....

3.  I can't stand when someone....  doesn't use their turn signal!  Grrr!  My daddy drummed it into my head that you must always use your turn signal. Even if there's not another car in sight.  We've always chuckled about the fact that the first place he took us when teaching us how to drive was at a nearby cemetery!  He never said it in so many words, but I'm guessing that he wanted to make sure we weren't going to kill anyone. LOL

photo credited to Rich Thomas, here

4.  Now that the nest is empty, we grocery shop when we need to. Sometimes we'll go and get a cart full of stuff but more often than not, we just stop when we're out running other errands and pick up the few things we need at that time. (don't forget to bring your reuseable shopping bags!)

 Have a great week!
~Mrs B

Friday, June 3, 2011

Seasonal Food Friday - Week Six

Welcome to the sixth installment of Seasonal Food Friday!  This weeks featured recipe is for Asian Chicken and Noodle Salad. There are probably a thousand variations out there for this salad, but that's the beauty of a dish like this. It's so versatile that you can make it 50 times and never have it exactly the same way twice!
Aside from the fact that it's delicious, it's THE best way to get loads of nutritious veggies into your kids without their knowledge.  Shhh.... They'll have no idea that all those super delish noodles and that moist, tender chicken are just part of this vegetable packed  meal in a bowl.  You can also add juicy mandarin oranges or plump green grapes and they'll think you've lost your mind and given them a forbidden treat, instead of a hearty and healthy meal.  After all, June is National Fruit and Vegetable Month!

The traditional/original recipe calls for the packaged ramen style noodles and I made it this way for many years, but as time went by and the daughter-child eventually flew away from the nest, I no longer had them in the house on a regular basis. That's when I realized (took me long enough!) that I could use any old pasta that I wanted to!  Pasta is one staple that I always have plenty of on hand.  Different styles of Asian noodles happen to be part of that selection. 

I generally use Soba Noodles for this salad.  They're made from buckwheat flour and are high in fiber and jam packed with essential amino acids and antioxidants.  More importantly... They're delicious! I just break them in half or in thirds before cooking them to keep things bite-sized. If you don't have ramen or soba noodles on hand, linguine, fettuccine or any long or even "cut" pasta you have on hand will be just fine.

Now, what would you say was the most versatile component of this salad?  Yep... you guessed it. The Veggies! I change up the vegetables that I use based on availability, either here in my kitchen or from the Farmer's Market or grocery store.  In the original recipe the ingredients for the dressing call for the contents of two of the seasoning packets from the noodle packages. Since I don't really use the ramen packs anymore, I've come up with my own blend of seasonings that come close to the "Oriental" flavor packets. I'll post that for you below the salad recipe. You can also substitute almost any meat or seafood for the chicken, or go completely "meatless" if you're a vegetarian or vegan.

Asian Chicken and Noodle Salad
(aka Chinese Chicken Salad)

  • 4 Pkgs Oriental Flavor Ramen Noodles, cooked and drained
  • 4 Stalks Celery, chopped
  • 8 Scallions, chopped
  • 2 Cups Mixed Sweet Bell Peppers, chopped
  • 2 Cups Chicken, cooked and cubed or shredded
  • 1/2 Cup Real Mayonnaise (no Miracle Whip, please)
  • 4 Tsp Light Soy Sauce
  • 4 Tsp Lemon Juice
  • 2 Packets Oriental Flavor Seasoning (or 1/2 recipe of the homemade mix**)
  • 1 Tsp Cayenne Pepper or Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (optional)

Cook noodles in boiling, salted water. (only 3-4 minutes for the ramen style) Drain and set aside to cool. In a small mixing bowl, combine Mayo, Soy Sauce, Lemon Juice and the seasoning packets from 2 of the Noodle packages (or recommended amount of the homemade**). In a large mixing bowl, gently toss Bell Peppers, Chicken, Scallions and Celery with the cooled Noodles. Add the dressing to the bowl and carefully mix it into the salad so that the Noodles, Chicken and Vegetables are well coated. (be gentle when mixing because the ramen noodles tend to break apart easily)  Place the salad in a serving bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  (Serves 4 - 6)

**Homemade "Oriental" Seasoning
    (equals 4 Seasoning Packets)
  • 1 Tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tsp Five Spice Powder (available in the majority of grocery chains)
  • 1 Pkt Chicken Bouillon Granules (or 1 Tsp)
  • 1/2 Tsp Sugar

Some of the additions and changes that I make are:
In place of the 2 cups called for in the basic recipe, I add a total of 3 cups of fresh, coarsely chopped vegetables, including: some of the originally called for bell pepper, plus one or more of the following: carrots, green or red cabbage, broccoli or cauliflower florets, seeded cucumber, fresh green beans, fresh asparagus, sugar snap peas, fresh corn from the cob, water chestnuts, fresh bean or pea sprouts. AND, fruits such as mandarin oranges, sliced green grapes, chopped fresh pears, lychee fruit.

I've substituted many protein options for the chicken, including: cooked shrimp, lump crab meat, shredded pork, thinly sliced steak, toasted almonds, avocado, hard boiled eggs, steamed and cooled edamame.

I really hope that you give this delicious salad a try and that you use the ingredients that best suit the needs and appetites of the people you're cooking for!  I'd love to hear your version of it!

I'm linking up with:

hosted by Designs by Gollum (here)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Great Grandma B's Lemon Bread

Good morning! Happy June!

After the long, cold, never ending Winter we had, this last week full of sun and blue skies and warm breezes has been like Heaven..... It's got me thinking about lemons.  I use fresh lemons in so many recipes, both sweet and savory, but my favorite thing to make with them is hubby's Great Grandma's Lemon Bread. It's moist and it's sweet, with just the right amount of lemony tang.  I love it just as it is, but I also make other dishes with it, like Stuffed French Toast made with the lemon bread in place of regular bread and filled with a mixture of fluffy cream cheese and fresh plump blueberries or strawberries.  Mmmmm!

OK... Now that my mouth is watering, I'd better just post the recipe.  Enjoy!

Great Grandma B's Lemon Bread
  • 6 (scant) Tbls Shortening
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 2 Lg Eggs, beaten
  • Rind of 1 Lemon, grated
  • 1 & 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder
  • Pinch Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Whole Milk
  • Juice of One Lg Lemon ~ use two if they're small
  • 1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, baking powder and salt onto waxed or parchment paper. Sift again into a large mixing bowl.  In a separate bowl, cream together the Shortening and 1 cup of sugar. Slowly beat in the eggs, lemon zest and milk.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix just until combined.  Pour into a standard size loaf pan and bake for 1 hour. (test at 50 minutes)

When loaf is removed from the oven, mix the lemon juice and 3/4 cup of sugar until the sugar is dissolved completely.  Pour this over the still hot bread a little bit at a time, allowing the mixture to fully soak into the bread.  Cool in the pan for about 15 minutes and then turn the loaf out onto a plate, making sure to run a knife around the edges of the pan first to loosen it.  Slice and Enjoy!

***I never double this recipe. I don't know if it has something to do with the lemon juice throwing it off or not, but I tried it once a long time ago and it did not turn out well. It's really no big deal to make a fresh batch for each loaf and besides, it is soooo worth it.  Trust me!

I'm linking up today with:

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