Thursday, May 31, 2012

School's Out!

Parker helping cook breakfast/brunch yesterday morning. Love having my eldest back for the summer (maybe longer since he's on the fence about going back to public school)! We made noochy grits and whole wheat blueberry pancakes.
Dema completed a end of 3rd grade math test (he's technically finishing 2nd grade, but he is doing math way above grade level and the 3rd grade curriculum was just for fun) on the porch in the beautiful weather.
Parker reading books to Josie. Dema usually reads to Josie during the school day, but Parker wanted to do the honors since he's home. Then he took a four hour nap in the afternoon (he might have stayed up a tad too late on his first night of summer break).
We had at least seven neighbor children/friends hanging out in the house at some point during the day yesterday and more at the park. I made some quick snacks with the leftover Trader Joe's care package Stef brought a couple weeks ago. Here is the Vegetable Pakoras that the kids loved.
I also made some quick black bean sliders. I don't know what officially makes something a slider, but I served them on potato slider buns so I'll call them sliders. I added Trader Joe's Mango Ginger Chutney (also from Stef, thank you!!!) which hit the spot and made the sliders somehow go with the pakoras...not like the kids care about such things. The sliders were made from the leftover black beans from the quesadillas the other night, nutritional yeast, bread crumbs, tomato paste, vegan Worchester sauce, and baked then lightly fried. Stuffed grape leaves on the side.
It filled the kids' bellies as they played and played at the park until we went to the vegan meet-up at Thara Thai. Fun to see all the meet-up peeps and new faces.
Always great to eat at Thara Thai. Thanks to them for being so accommodating to a large group of veg*ns!!

Food on the Go

Josie loves to help me grocery shop, especially when the shopping is at Common Ground Co-op. One Tuesday in April we hopped on the bus to Josie's soccer practice and then hopped another to Common Ground to pick up food for our Wednesday train ride to Chicago. She asked for A LOT of food from the deli since soccer made her so hungry. I couldn't say "no" when she begged for the Citrus Tofu Salad. She said she noticed someone eating this salad while we were shopping and it "just looked so good" she had to have one for herself.
A girl can't live on salad alone so she requested a bowl of vegan chili with whole wheat bread for dipping.
She saw these little peaches in the produce section and was so excited! She said they were juicy and delicious. She also ate a vegan yogurt. That girl was hungry.
Of course, Josie loves healthy foods, but once in a while it is fun to indulge. This huge molasses cookie was perfect for noshing on after lunch while we waited for another bus.
Once we put away all the groceries, Josie was ready for some park time so I quickly threw together Reuben Rolls with Homemade Thousand Island Dressing. Rob fried them up in the spring roll wrappers since he's better at frying and I was on park duty. Sorry the picture is horrible, but it was grab and go night so check out Spabettie's link above for beautiful pictures and the recipe. Parker gave them many thumbs up and asked for them in his lunch sometime soon. I made these with tempeh so Josie turned up her nose and opted for her leftover Citrus Tofu Salad (salad over fried food, couldn't really come up with an argument), but her park friends had a few bites and loved them.
Wednesday we set out for the train station - Chicago bound. (Dema turned eight recently and wanted a trip to Chicago as part of his present.) Parker stayed home with Rob and came up on Friday evening so it was just me and the littles.
 Josie and Dema asleep together on the train.
 Snack time on the train...
Spinach and Caramelized Onion Hummus from Common Ground, Pekara bread, baked tofu from home, along with apples and Veggie Booty (not pictured). All devoured in a matter of minutes.
Our friend Loretta and her daughter met us at Union Station in Chicago. I was sure the kids were full from the food on the train, but they said yes to eating at Native Foods. Secretly, I was very happy they weren't full since I hadn't eaten all day and Native Foods is so good. I was so busy eating I forgot to take pictures until we were almost done. Oh well, the weekend wasn't about food photos, but about relaxing with my family and our wonderful friends. Josie and Loretta's daughter, Teagan, both had a bowl of Freddie's Mac and Cheese. Dema loved his Native Chicken Nuggets so they were long gone before I could snap a pic.
I did get a couple pics of the kids eating dessert. My kids had the blueberry Cheesecake and Teagan had the chocolate Good Luck Cupcake. I wish I had a picture of Teagan eating her cupcake from the top without using her hands. It was too cute! Dema was so impressed with Native Foods, he asked for a repeat a couple days later.
We didn't just eat while we were staying in Evanston. The kids played. Dema built some Lego sets for Loretta's son - a big deal since Dema never builds the sets himself, that is what older brothers are for, but with Parker at home with Rob until Friday, Dema was able to enjoy being the eldest child for a while. Josie and Dema enjoyed playing with the light sabers and the neighborhood parks were their favorite destination.

We did take in a movie, Chimpanzee. I love the city with movie theaters that serve alcohol (too early for that though and we did have four children to look after) and coffee (never too early for coffee and they also have soy milk). Chimpanzee was a sweet story (a little too scary at parts for the kids, but I knew the ending so I could reassure them) and amazingly beautiful footage of the chimps and their surroundings...totally worth paying to view on a big screen. After the movie (and a little shopping) we met Loretta's sweet husband (he brought the wine) at Olive Mountain. I can not say enough about the nice staff (so friendly and happy to see four energetic children and two tired mamas) and the great tasting inexpensive food. We will visit again when we're in Evanston.
Parker and Rob came up Friday night so we all (Loretta's family and ours) went to the Museum of Science and Industry. Here the kids are watching the Rube Goldberg machine.
 Here Dema is waving to the crowd before he helps out with the carbon dioxide experiment.
 Dema is carefully taking balloons out of the container of dry ice.
 Cool! This was Dema's favorite part of the trip, second only to Native Foods.
When we go to Chicago we want to see all our friends, but it is rare we get them together at the same place. I organized a meal with Stef and Ollie (seen here), Loretta and her family (four in all), Todd and Katherine (with their two kids), and us. What vegan restaurant in the city could handle a big crowd (eight kids and seven adults) with ease? Native Foods was the answer (Lakeview location on Belmont). The staff was awesome!
 Native Chicken Wings with a spicy sauce or ranch like sauce.
 Ollie eating a Pizza Finger
 Saigon Rolls (oh my, I could eat these all day!)
 I think this is the Scorpion Burger. I just order whatever is on special that day and I always enjoy it. Oh if they would just open a Native Foods in C-U, I would be in heaven!
Josie playing with Tai and Parker enjoying his food. Sunday morning we were going to get on the road, but not before David made awesome character pancakes.
Josie with her butterfly. David mad dragons and more for the kids. Huge awesome points to David and the kids officially want to live with them.
You would think the kids would have been so full from the pancakes that they couldn't eat another bite, but we had promised vegan donuts to Dema for his birthday trip to Chicago so we stopped by Chicago Diner on the way out of town. The boys ordered vegan milkshakes (and shared with each other).
 Josie really enjoyed the donuts. We can't get vegan donuts in our town and I rarely make them.
 Rob went healthy with the Bi Bim Bap.
I went unhealthy with the Egg (Tofu)-Biscuit Sammy with both the optional cheeze and bacon, but the kids helped me eat it.
Parker loved his macaroni and cheeze. We had so much other lovely food on this trip, like the African Stew Loretta mad in the slow-cooker (I need that recipe!!!) and her homemade donuts. Samosas (the best I've eaten since we left DC) from JD Mills in Evanston. Great gin and tonics made by the lovely Loretta. So much fun and great food. It was a lovely visit, as always. It just took me over a month to blog about it. Dema was SO happy with his birthday trip to Chicago and we all can't wait to go back!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Quesadillas and Kiwi

Dinner tonight in between Parker biking four miles home from a friends house (last day of school!) and all of us playing at the park on another beautiful day. Whole wheat quesadillas filled with black beans, red peppers, kale, and a little Daiya (topped with guacamole and salsa, but not pictured). Kiwi for dessert.

Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush

We pick mulberries from a tree close to the park. Josie loves them and asked if we could make a smoothie out of the berries. The problem is that we can only pick about a handful each day so not enough for much more than eating right off the tree.
I found organic mulberry juice through our buying club and Josie was so excited. We tried it for the first time yesterday and everyone loved the understated sweetness (we don't usually drink juice because most juice is way too sweet). I appreciate the load of iron, vitamin C, and calcium in every glass.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Stir Fry, Strumming, and Swimming

Still summer temps today so we all had naps, Rob and Josie had fun strumming and singing,
Rob made an awesome brown rice stir fry with mushrooms, yellow cauliflower, and asparagus from Saturday's farmer's market,
and more swimming. I hope you all are staying cool!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Oh My, Strawberry Rhubarb Pie!

Looky what our friend/neighbor Gita brought over today:
A homemade strawberry rhubarb faaavorite! Nom, nom, nom...delish! Yet another reason we love our 'hood and especially being friends with Gita. Dema says if Gita and Seth ever decide not to be married anymore, he's available.

We've been swimming all weekend in our neighbor's, Vicky and Greg, pool with lots of other neighbor friends.Vicky and I even started out the morning doing some yoga by her pool which was the perfect way to beat the 90's heat (it is 84 in my house right now downstairs, don't want to think about what the temp really is upstairs). Yoga is so much better outdoors. It helps that the humidity is pretty low for Illinois standards so the heat isn't killing me, but then I think about the fact that this is May not July or August and I get a little scared what the summer has to offer us.
One upside is simple satisfying meals. Our normal (and favorite) meal or brown rice, tofu, and kale with tahini sauce was quinoa, tofu, and kale with Gita inspired lime sauce*. Everyone loved the quinoa instead of rice so this will be our go-to meal this summer. It helps that this meal comes together in minutes because our weekend completely filled up with Parker getting together with friends who are moving and some he is reconnecting with again. Lots of running from one thing to another. Just the way I like my weekends, but Rob needs another weekend to recover. Good thing we all have tomorrow off (sort of).

*Gita made this awesome cilantro lime sauce for our tacos on Cinco de Mayo. Rob has been talking about it ever since and finally tried his hand at it. This is Gita's recipe: "The green sauce was just equal parts veggie mayo and tofutti sour cream blended with lots of cilantro and salt and lime to taste."