In My Kitchen

Food, Faith and all things Family

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Family Book Picks – April

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I thought it would be fun at the end of each month to make a quick list of current favorite books.  Some are treasures unearthed form our own shelves; others are new library finds

Chasitie (age 3) – Lucky Ducklings by Eva Moore. Charming illustrations in a fun, true story about the near demise of a family of ducklings.

Naomi (age 3) – Who Put the Cookies in the Cookie Jar by George Shannon.  Simple text and colorful illustrations show how much work really goes into eating a cookie.

Andrew (almost 6) – Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne.  Even the big boys haven’t been able to stay away when I’ve read these stories of imagination and adventure out loud.

Jonathan (age 9) – Salamandastron by Brian Jacques.  This is the 5th book in the Redwall series–full of beautiful scenery, colorful characters and valor.  Considering there are more than 20 in the series, I’m thankful our local library is well stocked!

Samuel (age 9) – North Or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson.  This is the 2nd book in the Wingfeather series–intriguing, adventurous and suspenseful; full of honor and integrity.

Abi (Mom) – Tuttle’s Red Barn by Richard Michelson.  Wonderful narrative of the Tuttle family and how they’ve kept their farm in Dover, New Hampshire working through 12 generations.  As a farm girl born in Dover, I was delighted to find  this book.  It’s not just New Hampshire history; it’s American history.  Mary Azarian’s woodcut illustrations complement the story beautifully.

Harrison (Dad) – Since Samuel already picked North Or Be Eaten . . . How To Argue Like Jesus by Joe Carter and John Coleman.  The authors do a good job of explaining  different types of argument and illustrating how Jesus employs these methods to convey truth to His audience.

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Noticing the Rainbow Around Us – ORANGE

The unique thing about orange is that it is a fruit, a flavor and a scent in addition to being a color!  As a color orange is certainly not as prevalent as red, but we still managed to find quite a lot of it around us.

The orange haul!

The orange haul!

A few of the kids did manage to WEAR orange!

READ ORANGE BOOKS – we didn’t have many on our shelves, but the library yielded several

An Orange in January by Dianna Hutts Aston  A neat story that starts with the orange trees blossoming and ends with kids sharing an orange.

Orange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett  A silly board book that Naomi especially liked.

Each Orange Had 8 Slices by Paul Giganti, Jr.  A fairly advanced counting book (more like advanced addition or multiplication).   Definitely created my own text for the little kids. 

A Star in My Orange by Dana Meachen Rau  A unique shape book.

An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco  A christmas story for the big kids that made me cry (as many of this author’s books do)!

The Pumpkin Patch Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs  It may be spring-time, but . . . pumpkins are orange!

Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White  Again, more fitting for fall reading, but probably my favorite pumpkin story of all.

Mop Top by Don Freeman  The only thing orange about this book is the illustrations; great story about a boy who doesn’t want a haircut.

Sam and the Tigers by Julius Lester   A modern re-do of “Little Black Sambo” that my kids love; the tigers, of course, are orange.

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss  A boy’s patience and diligence are rewarded when he refuses to be discouraged by those around him.


We did manage to find a number of orange toys and various objects around the house.  If you have trouble finding much orange around your house, check the garage!  You may not want to cart those things into the house (we left the bike, extension cords and chainsaw there) but it may be good source of orange treasure.

Orange balloons were the prize of the week when everything was returned to its proper place.


Doing this one in the fall may seem like a better idea, but the scarcity of orange objects around made the few discoveries even more exciting.  We also saw a surprising number of orange cars and trucks out on the road this week!


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Carrots – how many ways can you eat a carrot? Try this slaw recipe if you don’t like the standard shredded carrot, mayo, raisin salad.

Oranges – how many ways can you cut an orange?

Goldfish Crackers

Colby cheese (or orange cheddar)

Dried apricots or mangos

Sweet potatoes

Pumpkin or winter squashes

If its rainy or cold and you want to bake try pumpkin bread or carrot muffins.


The orange crayons, markers and pencils certainly made their appearance, but we kids also made some shape collages.



Plant some carrot seeds (remember that they really do take a long time to sprout!) or pumpkin seeds.  Marigolds or nasturtiums would work if you prefer flowers.

INSPIRING THE OLDER CROWD – the little ones may also enjoy reading about the first two topics

Common Clown Fish


Learn why cheese is sometimes orange.  Read this post at  (I’ve also found some really yummy recipes there.)

Research the history of Orange County, California.  What other states also boast an Orange County and why?

I enjoyed reading this novel: One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street by Joanne Rocklin.  A mysterious story of camaraderie among neighbors; you may want your kids to be 10 or 12 before handing it to them.

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Thoughts for a Thursday – 10 Minutes for Tea


“My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him.”  Psalm 62:5

The world is full of chaos and confusion.  Our house is full of noise and commotion.  My head has an endless litany of conversation swirling about.  Yet God calls us to be still . . . not just to be still, but to be still and remember that He is God (Psalm 46:10).

For the last couple weeks I’ve been trying to take 10 minutes somewhere in the middle of my day to do that.  To remember that God reigns over the chaos and confusion of the world.   That God reigns in the noise and commotion of our house.  I also want God to reign over the conversation in my head.  Taking 10 minutes to wrap my hands around a warm cup of tea, close my eyes and take a few deep breaths helps orient my mind, my heart, my soul back toward God.

I reflect on God’s incomparable character and remember that He alone is worthy of highest praise.  I look for His blessings and am thankful that He cares for me.  I consider that only through His abundant grace and unlimited wisdom will I successfully navigate the rest of my day .  My heart returns to hoping in God.

So, find a quiet spot to sit.  Take ten minutes to close your eyes to the mess around you.  Reflect on the character of God, Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  Remember that “tho’ the wrong seems oft so strong” in our world, maybe in your home, “God is the ruler yet.”

“Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.  For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name.  Let Thy lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us, according as we have hoped in Thee.”  Psalm 33:20-21

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Noticing the Rainbow Around Us – RED

Our week to notice the color red contained lots of food, color, fun and, of course, books!  To plan your own red week, consider the following options:


We wore red shirts, though not everyone managed to find theirs all clean on the same day!  Whoever did have a clean one was the red mascot for the day.


We had a number of classic “red” titles on our own shelves and discovered a few more treasures at the library.

The Little Red Caboose

The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and THE BIG HUNGRY BEAR  by Don and Audrey Wood (have strawberries on hand for snack after reading this one; cut them in half and share so the big hungry bear doesn’t get them!)

The Little Red Hen – there are many version; we like this one by Jerry Pinkney.  We were inspired to make “Little Red Hen Bread.”  Everyone who wanted some had to participate in the process.

Red Sled and Red Hat by Lita Judge

Tuttle’s Red Barn by Richard Michelson (too long for the little ones, but I loved it)

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton (Mary Anne was, after all, a “beautiful red steam shovel.”)

Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown (one of the best loved board books in our home)

Little Red Riding Hood (a little scary perhaps – the girls were somewhat wide-eyed through a good deal of the story – but a great illustration of the dangers a child can encounter when straying outside the circle of safety found within a parent’t instruction; find a retelling or illustrator you favor)

We discovered that red is in almost any picture book you pick up.  Looking for the different red objects on each page was a popular “I spy” game.

HAVE A RED TREASURE HUNT (encourages concrete thinking)

Let the kids search the house for anything and everything red.  I was surprised by both what they hauled in and what they overlooked.  The food processor thudded onto the floor in front of me was the biggest shock!

Warning:  It is a lot of fun to collect stuff and make a big pile out of it.  Returning it all to where it came from is not.  Some kind of incentive is a good idea.  The leftover strawberry twizzlers in the back of the cupboard worked wonders for my crew.


First we talked about red things that we might see outside (encourages abstract thinking) such as a cardinal, red cars, fire truck, flowers, mailbox flags and stop signs.  You can also be on the lookout for red objects while driving around town.


Red peppers in a supper dish or salad

Strawberries, cherries or red delicious apples for snack

Radishes for snack, in salad or made into soup (even the radish resistant happily ate the soup.)

Strawberry or raspberry jam on toast or in sandwiches

Red potatoes for breakfast or dinner


Get as elaborate as you want.  I had visions of helping the kids make an Eric Carle style red bird, but that didn’t happen.  We just got out all the red crayons, markers and colored pencils and some blank paper.

FOR THE OLDER CROWD – Inspire the big kids to participate by reading about some of the following:

Red Pandas

Mars, The Red Planet

Eric the Red

Red Tides

My boys also suggest forest fires, red wolves and blood as possibilities.

For more mature reading options try:

Redwall by Brian Jacques

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

A RED MINISTRY FOCUS – Check out, pray for or support the Red Bus Project, a ministry of Show Hope.

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The Waiting Chain – A Birthday Countdown


This is Andrew.  He’s 5.  Andrew’s been waiting for his birthday since the beginning of the year.  Four other people in our immediate family have already had birthdays since January 1st.  Each one has been a mixture of celebration and angst.  Andrew knows the date of his birth and where to find it on his calendar.  He regularly counts the squares to determine how many more days he has to wait for the big day–still more than a month away.   Yesterday I finally remembered an idea I’ve seen in a couple different places for counting down the days–a paper chain.

Andrew was ready to get to work right away.  I told him I’d get him colorful construction paper if he could just wait until after breakfast, but Andrew waits for no man or mom or breakfast.  He is a go-getter who takes the bull by the horns.  Mom’s pretty ideas of brightly colored paper carefully measured and cut with a paper cutter meant nothing to him.  He knew where to find paper and he knew where to find scissors, and the job was begun.



After breakfast (since I told him I’d help him finish the chain after he’d eaten!), I started to number and date* the strips of paper.  I made #1 the date of his birthday, so we’re counting backwards.  Once I started, he wanted to do most of the numbering**, so I just added the date.


We stapled (apparently I moved the tape so the kids wouldn’t use it up and can’t remember where I put it!) the strips to form a chain.  We hung the birthday end from the curtain rod in his bedroom and looped the other end over his clothes hook.

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*Adding the date to a counting chain is certainly not necessary.  Andrew likes to mark each day off on his calendar, so that lets him connect the two concepts.

**If I had asked him to number the strips, he probably would have fallen apart.  None of my boys have ever enjoyed the prospect of a large (any) writing project.  Seeing me start it though,  made him want to get in on the fun!

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Our Many Colored Weeks – Noticing the Rainbow Around Us

source: D Sharon Pruitt

source: D Sharon Pruitt

We’re spending each of the next six or seven weeks focusing on a color of the rainbow. ( I haven’t decided if indigo and violet will be two weeks or get lumped into one week of purple.)  My two girls are both three years old and fairly color savvy.  They love to notice all the “matches” around them, and we often talk about the colors of objects.  I don’t consider it imperative that we make sure they know their colors at this stage.  I do, however want to make a priority of planning ideas that they will have fun with.  I spend a lot of time planning and doing school work with their older brothers, and sometimes it just seems like the young ones get left out or pushed aside.

I’m sure color recognition will be strengthened throughout our adventure, but my main focus is three-fold:

  1. Spend time having fun with the younger members of our family
  2. Notice the wonderful variety of color that God has placed into our world
  3. Encourage gratitude for simple blessings

Our times will include, among other things, reading, eating, nature walks and artwork.  I will plan to post about each color as we complete it.  For now I will leave you with a few of our favorite multi-colored books and games.


Hailstones and halibut bones by Mary O’Neill (we have an out of print version; I’m not familiar with the illustrations in the newer ones)

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert

Color Zoo by Lois Ehlert

Freight Train by Donald Crews

Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carle

Vincent’s Colors



Dutch Blitz (OK – this one is not for the young ones, but the big guys have started to enjoy it with me!)

Jumping Pixies

Duplo Legos

Andrew loved making unique lego creations out of each color.

Andrew loved making lego creations out of a single color.

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Any Season Raw Vegetable Salads

In the summer we have plenty of fresh, local, in season produce readily available.  In the winter, however . . . until we set up a greenhouse of some kind, we have to rely on readily available grocery store fare.  Two of our favorite salads are easily made with vegetables widely available any where any time of the year.

Carrot Slaw


1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (increase or decrease according to the heat of your cayenne and your family’s taste!)

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 medium to large carrots

1/2 cup fresh cilantro**, chopped and loosely packed

1/2 cup raisins

2-4 tablespoons diced red onion, optional

Combine first 7 ingredients in a measuring cup to create dressing.  Wash and/or peel and grate carrots into medium size serving bowl.  Add cilantro, raisins (I like the golden ones best for this recipe but any will work.)  and onion to carrot and mix briefly.  Pour dressing over all and mix thoroughly.  Can be served immediately but flavors will meld if allowed to rest for half an hour or so.

**Fresh cilantro is wonderful!  If you have extra you don’t know what to do with, add it to green salad, serve it with tacos or add to any mexican dish.

recipe adapted from Abundant Harvest Organics, a wonderful CSA type produce delivery in central and southern California

Celery Slaw


1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons dijon mustard (we prefer smooth over grainy types in this dressing)

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

1/2 – 1 teaspoon sugar, optional but does help to balance the acidity of other ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil

3/4 cup sour cream

1/4-1/2 cup finely diced red onion

1 bunch celery, thinly sliced (somewhere between 4 and 6 cups)

Thoroughly combine first 8 ingredients in large measuring cup to create dressing.  (This does make a lot of dressing.  I often use 1/2 a recipe of dressing on about 4 cups celery.) Slice celery, including leaves, as thinly as possible and place in medium size bowl.  You want somewhere between 4 and 6 cups of sliced celery.  Fold dressing into sliced celery and mix thoroughly.   Can be served immediately but flavors will meld if allowed to rest for an hour or so.  The original recipe recommends marinating in the refrigerator for at least three hours.  If you remember to make it that far ahead of time, great!  Otherwise, it is still very good.

recipe adapted from The Victory Garden Cookbook, a great resource for what to do with many vegetables