I remember making this scrumptious pizza last year around this time, and my husband and son both loved it. Again, another great way to introduce kale to those who would otherwise steer clear. I got the recipe from this blog. I made my own pizza dough using a different recipe and you could obviously cut your cooking time by using pre-made dough. I am crazy and cheap and still haven’t broken down to buy a food processor, but using one of these would have also helped me out in decreasing prep time. However, you can still make your pesto with a blender or food chopper, although a little grueling after repeated trials. I would just recommend putting some of the ingredients such as the nuts and garlic in separately to ensure even chopping if you don’t have a processor. To sum it up, you might want to have a little more time on your hands for this one, but it’s so worth it especially if you’re into culinary therapy and want to try a new and flavorful topping on your pizza! Just about any green will do when making pesto, so get adventurous and try out kale in your pesto next time. 🙂
As a mother of two now, boy am I finding a humbling moment everywhere I turn. I used to be slightly OCDish about household cleanliness, but am struggling to keep up among the many other beautiful responsibilities that come along with motherhood. Now, my kitchen isn’t “dirty”, I’m just “desensitizing” myself to a messy kitchen. Oh, can I also rescind my earlier statements about having time to read? Time and I have been battling it up these last few weeks. I could literally stay busy just feeding my two boys and unloading/reloading the dishwasher. Adding just one more little dude to our family has led to the subsequent doubling of our grocery bill, number of dishwashing cycles and piles of laundry. So strange how that happens? Furthermore, as a result of the continuous processing of language darting at me from two, child-sized mouths – I think I’m developing a new form of motherhood-induced ADD. Do the docs have an official diagnosis for this? This multiple kid thing is hard work! With that said, I am all the more grateful for a nutritious recipe that I can throw together, pop in the oven, and make mouths water with little effort. Ahhhhh……yes…..lasagna. Who doesn’t like lasagna? And it’s also a great way to sneak your seasonal kale in without getting any complaints from the kiddos. I used local kale from Dripping Springs Garden (one of my favs at the Farmers’ Market for greens) and local eggs from Little Portions Monastery (in Berryville, AR) along with a little oregano from my herb box. I kind of just threw this one together with what I had available in the kitchen at the time, but here’s what I did, and it turned out great!
9 Lasagna Noodles
1 bunch kale
1 zucchini thinly sliced
1/2 onion chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 jar pasta sauce
8 oz. ricotta cheese
1 tbsp italian seasoning
1 cup parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Dried or Fresh Basil and Oregano
First, rinse and remove kale from the spine and chop coarsely. Blanch for 2 minutes. Then rinse with cold water and let sit to dry in colander. Cook noodles according to package or use noodles that don’t require boiling.
You’re welcome to use whatever veggies you have in the fridge. In my case, I had zucchini and onion, but I’m not biased. In a skillet at medium, heat your olive oil and add onion, cooking until translucent. Then, add zucchini and cook until tender. Pour pasta sauce (leaving some in jar for the top of lasagna) into pan and let cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in kale.
To mix cheese sauce, place ricotta cheese, egg, italian seasoning, 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1 cup mozzarella, and salt and pepper into mixing bowl. Stir ingredients thoroughly.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Pour a small amount of pasta sauce into bottom of 9 x 13 baking dish. Place 3 pasta noodles on top of sauce, then layer with half of cheese sauce, 1/2 of veggies and kale sauce, and then repeat layer once more. Top third layer with noodles, remaining sauce, mozzarella and parmesan along with a sprinkling of oregano and basil. Cover baking dish with foil and put in oven for 25 minutes. Uncover lasagna and put back in for another 5-10 minutes or until slightly golden around edges. Enjoy another recipe without letting your kale go stale!
I gotta be real here and admit that I’m not sure I had ever eaten kale growing up nor did I know what the mysterious leafy green substance tasted like up until a few years ago. I remember I had baked kale chips for my co-workers around that time because I thought they were a good substitute for the wide array of greasy chips that I found myself attacking at the end of each workday. Crazy me, since I dug their crunchy texture and salty flavor, I thought my co-workers would too. Most everyone, with the exception of one or two people, gawked at the weird texture and thought they were strange. After that, I really didn’t expect to see kale chips in pre-packaged bags at the store just a few years later, but I guess they gained in popularity. They are incredibly easy to cook, so it seems so silly to me to waste money buying them, but I would understand when in a desperate, gotta-have-my-kale-fix-now situation, that one my break down and purchase a bag. There are far more shameful acts. If you’ve never made kale chips here is a super easy recipe for ya’.
1 bunch kale
1 tblsp olive oil
salt and pepper
Make sure you rinse your kale. I soak mine in a bowl of lukewarm salt water for a few minutes just in case there are any little critters on the leaves (they like kale too!). I rinse it, spin dry, and then tear the leaves off the spine into 3 inch pieces. Place in a bowl, toss with olive oil, and a dash of salt and pepper. Spread kale across a cookie sheet and put in oven at 350 for about 12 minutes, turning 2-3 times throughout. Remove from oven and let cool. Then, throw it in a fancy bowl and watch it disappear within seconds!
Now, when seasonally abundant, we eat kale by the truckloads. Okay, okay, I might be exaggerating slightly there, but we do eat quite a bit of kale. Shhhhhhh, don’t tell your kids or husbands, but Kale is rich in many nutrients and is believed to have cancer-fighting properties. So, there you have it, just one more reason why you shouldn’t let your kale go stale.
Want PESTO? No Need for Basil!
I will be posting throughout the next few days different ways our family has cooked and enjoyed kale. One of my favorites is Kale pesto………..yummmmmmmm! I have a seriously strong addiction to, really, any kind of pesto, basil pesto being my absolute favorite, of course. However, until my basil plants come in and it’s more readily available locally, kale will suffice! Here’s one kale pesto recipe I used (http://en.julskitchen.com/tuscany/black-kale-pesto), but I used pumpkin seeds instead of almonds and a slightly different pasta since that’s what I had available in my kitchen. This was delish, and my little boys loved it!!
If you’re interested in attempting to keep it local when cooking, some useful sites containing seasonal produce charts and info. may come in handy to you. I find them helpful in meal planning for the coming week and knowing how much cash I wanna take with me to the Farmers’ Market. Here are some links that I’ve found useful:
I’ve been getting lots of delicious greens such as kale, rainbow chard, spring mix, arugula, and spinach. I’m also seeing asparagus, green onions, leeks, garlic, radishes, and some carrots and sweet potatoes (although minimal). This is a great time to get your herbs too! I got this beautiful rainbow chard from the Dripping Springs Garden at the Fayetteville Farmers’ Market last weekend!
Some helpful search engines for recipes other than the wonderful Google include:
Here is additional information regarding the area’s Farmer’s Market times:
Saturdays 7:00AM-1:00PM (April 27th-October 26th)
Site for details: http://www.downtownbentonville.org/events/farmers-market/
Saturdays 7:00AM-2:00PM (April 6th-November 23rd)
Please see Fayetteville Farmers Market Calendar of Events: http://www.fayettevillefarmersmarket.org/calendar-of-events/
Site for details: http://www.rogersfarmersmarket.com
Shiloh Square – Downtown
Site for Details: http://www.springdalefarmersmarket.org
Please feel free to add any additional information in the comments!!
We had so much fun sharing our adoption journey with everyone and so appreciate everyone’s support along the way! What a cathartic and thrilling experience it was. When we started the adoption process over a year ago, I pondered the thought of starting a blog, but was hesitant for several reasons. However, my primary concern was regarding the sharing of very intimate and personal stories pertaining to my children. I did not want to violate their trust in me or our relationship in any way. So, I held off. I decided to create a blog that could temporarily be used as a way to communicate the details of our adoption process with friends and family as well as those interested in adoption. However, my long-term goal was to eventually transition the blog’s topic onto another important, but less private topic such as…..drum roll……boom, boom, boom……FOOD! Come on, we all love it! This’ll be fun!
Since the birth of my first son and having family histories of heart disease, food allergies, and other chronic illnesses, my husband and I decided to just simply try something different. What started as a casual transition to this “something different” (i.e., a vegetarian based diet) led us down a 6-year journey of pescetarianism, albeit water critters are a special occasion meal. It wasn’t about joining forces against all meat eaters (meat is numma num) or removing meat for moral reasons such as animal cruelty (although sad), we just felt the path we were taking was not one that would end well for us. Whether you agree with the removal of meat from the diet or not, it has driven us to better understand food. Ya know, that stuff we put into our bodies all day long. It helped us glean a better appreciation for food preparation, food quality, and most importantly to us, it’s source. It forced us to stop eating fast food and it feels good to declare we haven’t “eaten” (I admit we have partaken in use of the facilities a time or two) at many of the popular Fast Food chains in over 4 years. We discovered the real sustainability issues related to food’s mass production/consumption and the consequences of GMO’s. We realized that there’s a whole community out there that cares about the future of our children. A community that encompasses people of all ethnic, religious, and political backgrounds that wants to leave behind a healthy place for the next generation. Through this change in lifestyle, I also had to learn how to slow down, plan ahead, and ultimately learn how to actually cook. I wasn’t the greatest and am still learning each day. We also discovered that by cutting out even a little meat, we saved money. We saved even more by going local. Later, a romantic trip to Italy pushed us further into foodism and opened our eyes to a country where there is no such thing as “local” food, it just IS local. Each region takes pride in it’s flavor, and that is where I began to see how food is not just food. It’s culture; it’s family; it’s friends; it’s our health; and it’s our community.
So, here we are after an adoption discussing food. It’s another passion of mine, so I wanna share it ! My hope is to document the use of local, seasonal foods in everyday cooking for a family of four. This has interested me for quite some time, especially the particulars of time management in the kitchen and food affordability. This makes me laugh out loud at myself because I’m a person of right-brain dominance who struggles to stay on task and can be a disorganized disaster in the kitchen if I don’t plan ahead. However, I want to show that even I can do it!! I want to be authentic and not just show you all my moments of glory in the kitchen, haha! Hope I can live up to that statement, could be quite embarrassing. I also want to share my experiences as a novice gardener, ventures to Farmers’ Markets, busy-mother friendly recipes, trips to local restaurants, and maybe even accounts of experiences at local farms in the area. My primary goal is to try to cook with what’s in season around these parts, hence, my blog’s name Seasonal Surroundings!! Although my switch in topic was abrupt, it is my hope that you will continue this journey with me anyway!! Maybe we can all learn something new together!!
When thinking of living in a society seemingly centered around materialism and “stuff” that we all just have to have, I’m reminded of myself when I was a child. Following a Teddy Ruxpin or Easy-Bake Oven commercial, I’d promptly turn to my parents and shout, “I want that!” Interestingly enough, the prices of my wants and my increase in age had a positive correlation. Now as a parent, I’d like to think I’ve turned a new leaf, but I still get disgusted with myself when I justify in my own mind need for any more things. We talk about this issue with Crawford as we don’t want his life and identity to be governed by the stuff of this world, but the “I want” still sometimes prevails just as it does with Dustin and me. But lately, “I want” has taken on a different meaning in this house. It represents a freeing of sorts. Roman’s freeing to assert himself through communication, and it’s a beautiful thing to see unfold. Roman gets so tickled with himself every time he hears a new word or phrase leave his mouth. If you’ve ever experienced Apraxia of Speech or know someone who has, you can understand how challenging producing even a single vowel can be. Roman is a bright little boy and is highly motivated to communicate. Only now, he has something to say and his words are honored! He has been working hard at building his expressive vocabulary and has recently begun using more phrases such as, help me please, up me please, love you too, I go home, eat snack please. So, we felt he was ready to start adding to this. We gave him a very high-tech piece of equipment to assist him in his communicative efforts. Check it out:
My art teacher sister, Alexis, would be so proud of my renderings. This very cost-effective and highly durable communication system (accepting orders now) provides Roman with a way to retrieve and organize his words. He’s been saying, “I want nack/snack” for about a week now pretty clearly, BUT yesterday was an extra joyful day for us! He generalized “I want” on the way to the park and said, “I want wing/swing!” This was huge. Tears streamed down my face. Moments like this make all the hard, more challenging moments so worth it. And one day later, he is saying, “I want more cracker please.” Can you say language explosion?! He is also identifying himself by name and is answering “How are you?” with “good”. The word bank is expanding big time. Here is the ever expanding list: I, want, up, more, cracker, milk, apple, banana, car, boon/balloon, yellow, blue, green, mama, papa, bwa-bwa, kick, ball, go, hot, cold, open, close, no, yeah, hi, bye, good, my, turn, Roman, hello, down, ball, water, on, off, boon/spoon, eye, no/nose, mouth, eeping/sleeping, tain/train, bubble mumih/music….and more that I’m sure I’m forgetting.
We’re still trying to take things easy and are staying home most of the time with a few visitors here and there. He went on his first big family outing to my parents for Easter for a few hours and did so well. We also went to our first dinner on the patio at US Pizza where mama preordered before the big guy arrived so that it would be ready when he got there, and yes, he loves pizza now – yay! It’s quite the balancing act when you have another little one who has places to be such as Crawford’s soccer games twice a week. Each child has different needs, and I feel both parents should be present for both. So, we’ve also been making trips out to the soccer fields, and Roman is learning to cheer for his big brother. It’s so sweet to hear, “kick that ball!” We’re just trying to let Roman lead the way and show us what he can and can’t tolerate. We just have to be prepared to leave any one place as soon as possible if things go awry. But for now, we’re still trying to chill here at the house a majority of the time.
He’s slowly getting to know his gama and gampa along with Aunties and Uncles. He’s truly adjusting beautifully. We’re so grateful for this! Here are some more recent pictures:
Crawford is also fulfilling the role of big brother beautifully! He is becoming a teacher and encourager. So sweet to see! Often times, what bwa-bwa does, Roman does!
Man, am I thankful for such an awesome father. He’s been helping us juggle our schedules and allowing us to maintain as much of a routine with both Roman and Crawford as possible while also just being an amazing dad and Grandfather. My boys will KNOW him and for that, I’m so very thankful! They will see a shining example of what a good man is and does at an early age.
Here’s my father talking fishing with Crawford. Crawford is beside-himself-ready to go fishing with his Grandpa when the weather gets nicer.
Here are some more pics from Easter!
Hope to be posting more with some possible video soon! Enjoy this beautiful weather everyone!
It truly is astounding how much growth can occur in just one week. So many firsts were observed these last 7 days that I can’t even begin to capture them all! We’ve been spending much of our days as a Roman and mommy pair. The days have been filled with constant learning and fun while interspersed with several healthy snacktimes and main dishes to keep my little Roman belly happy. We’re still trying to slowly introduce him to the outside world as he gets used to our routine at home and begins to feel more and more secure with us.
One of the most important firsts was Roman sat through a book this week, several, in fact! Literacy is so important to me as a therapist and mother. I see so many children who struggle to keep up in school due to weaknesses in this area (myself included), yet they get minimal assistance once they’ve fallen behind it seems. My father has dyslexia and over his lifetime has learned to compensate in brilliant and creative ways. He’s incredibly gifted (so were Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, and JFK), and I believe in many ways his giftedness is attributed to his different neurological wiring. We waste so much time cramming ourselves and others into our society’s cookie cutter molds that we forget to celebrate each of our different minds. We all have something valuable to contribute. While I’ve never been formally diagnosed, growing up I struggled to process print myself. I, too, learned to compensate by putting extra time into my studies and by learning to tackle difficulties head on as I found avoidance to be much more painful. After investing my entire childhood into sports activities (which has its own benefits) and adhering to the less than thrilling requirements of academic reading, I finally have time to sit down with a book for pure entertainment (although many of my picks still tend to be educational). I often wonder if my life would have looked different if I had been stricken by the right book at the right time. It’s just so exciting to open a new/used book for the first time, taking in the smell of it’s pages and being pulled into an alternate world for a short time. So, I WANT so badly to share this treasure with my children. I want their lives to be full yet slow enough to see the value in a good book. I want to read to my new son just as I did and still do with Crawford. However, Roman was not having it at first. When we intially introduced him to a book, it was destroyed within 2 days. Overtime, we learned to use ‘soft hands’ and gradually began learning to turn individual pages without severing mom’s thumb in the process – haha! Up until yesterday, he had no interest in jointly attending to a book. I’ve been incorporating book readings every moment his little body is still, whether it be snack time or during another activity. We practice turning the pages on cue and filling in rhyme words when able. Yesterday we reached a milestone. Ten books were jointly attended to in momma’s lap, my friends! It was glorious to watch him go retrieve yet another book and excitedly return to my lap for me to read to him. I thought I would have to wait a long, long time before enjoying this day!
He is my helper in the kitchen! Those of you who know me know another joy of mine is cooking. Roman has become my right-hand man in the heart of the home. We made pizza the other night. He also helped me make kale chips which he gladly followed up by eating the entire pan. Seriously? The kid is eating kale chips? I’m still in disbelief because the first few days out of the orphanage it appeared we might have a seriously picky eater on our hands.
He went to the park for the first time and loved it! He has a mild form of cerebral palsy, so he’s struggling to walk up the steps and climb without assistance, but with repeated exposure, I know he’ll have it down independently. Just as I anticipated, he loved the slide and swing. He also has a mean left foot too. Watchout all you soccer dudes!
He went to the ice cream shop! He had no idea what we were saying when we told him we were going to get ice cream, but I bet he’ll know after last night’s excursion to Maggie Moo’s. We followed the park up with some ice cream. Imagine the four of us…. windows down, music blaring, with windblown hair and ice cream covered faces. We kept getting a thumbs up the whole time. Roman was so happy, he kept singing in perfect rhythm “la, la, la, la, nah-mmm, nah-mmm”. It was just so sweet to look in the backseat and see Crawford and Roman back there together, finally!
So, with the first week now complete, I’d say it was a great success. After all, happiness is our goal!
Ahhhhhh……..such a good feeling to be home at last! Freshly brewed coffee, hot showers, cozy beds, and kisses and hugs are abound here at La Casa de Murphy.
We started our very long trek home early Wednesday morning and 24 hours later, with maybe a few hours of sleep under our belts, we finally made it to NWA. Roman did pretty well given the intense and stressful circumstances that come with the long lines, large crowds, and lengthy flights of traveling abroad. When we got to the airport, we were welcomed by a wonderful group of friends and family. So many of you have poured your time, love, and energy into us throughout this process. We feel so loved and are thankful to be surrounded by such selfless and thoughtful people. We also came home to an immaculate house, fully stocked refrigerator and cabinets, and welcome home and happy birthday signs drawn by Crawford and other sweet little family members. My mother-in-law created a beautiful Album full of all our blogposts to commemorate Roman’s adoption. This, of course, brought me to tears.
Once we got home that Wednesday night and tucked both boys in bed for the first time, Roman had a smile on his face as he laid his head on his pillow. It was a smile of “I have finally arrived.” That next morning we shared our first meal together as a family, and the boys played until it was time for Crawford to go to school. Roman seems to have already made a huge transformation since we’ve been home. He’s enjoying all the new words to everything and is talking more than ever before. Some of his new words and phrases are banana (full word), on/off, up/down, open, all gone, help me, hold me, love you, up please, and all done. He’s starting to use a few three-word phrases too! He is becoming less interested in cords and light switches and more interested in interacting with us and playing with toys. He’s loving being outside and playing in the grass and picking the flowers. Bath time is definitely a new favorite – there is no holding that boy back when the bath water comes on.
So, for some reason I’m struggling to keep a clean house. Not sure why that is….hmmmmm? I think I can live with this, it means life exists within these walls, BUT life does not stop here! Can’t wait to post about our first, outdoors camping excursion – hehe!
Here’s a little glimpse into life at our house since our return.
The world of boy! haha!
Just can’t help but think of Ozzy’s hit, Mama, I’m Comin’ Home!
Well, we were all able to finally reunite in Kiev Sunday afternoon. I picked up Roman for his final departure from Antoshka on Saturday morning. He was precious and looked like a completely different little boy once I got him in the clothes that we brought him. The feeling was surreal. With this process, you learn to just wait and wait……then everything just starts happening! Here he is in his final minutes at the orphanage. Please excuse the shakiness and sidewaysness of the videos!
We spent our long, 13-hour day in our very small hotel room. Yes, it was long; and yes, we had some hard moments, especially at nap time, but it was a situation that would push anyone to the limit. Typically, we would venture outside, have more access to toys, and our environment at home will be more conducive to safe exploration, but this was not our reality, and we just had to make the best of it. I felt Roman did very well given the situation (i.e., the cord and light switch haven and very little to do, but play with the same old lady and few select toys for 13 hours). We took walking breaks down the hall and in the lobby where we boogied to the Jewish music playing in the dance hall.
Then we left for the midnight train. Roman was so exhausted that he slept the whole way! Once we got to Kiev, he and I waited at the apartment for Dustin to arrive later in the afternoon. Again, eye level light switches and a plethora of exposed electrical wires saying, “go ahead, tug us,” made for another long day – haha! Finally, Dustin arrived and Roman was a bit speechless at first, but was very happy to see his papa! It was a welcomed reunion!
We had our first appointment at the Embassy yesterday and it went very well. We came back for our interview at 2:00 today. The longest part of the process was the wait. We waited about 45 minutes, and then the interview lasted about 30 seconds. We got Roman’s visa 15 minutes after that, and that’s a wrap folks!!!! We are done! We head home bright and early at 5:55 AM and should arrive to NWA at 6:49 PM tomorrow evening!! Please feel free to welcome Roman home at the airport if you so choose! We are overjoyed to know we will be back in beautiful Fayetteville in just a little over 24 hours!
Here’s Roman on his iPhone 6 using his new word “hello.” We heard lots of “papa, hello,” “hello, mama” “hello, bwa-bwa”
In addition to all the excitement of the impending leave from his orphanage, I was also able to snatch Roman’s baby picture!
Here’s baby boy, Roman!
When I got back to the hotel, I stared and stared at his picture as if maybe I could jump into the photograph myself and scoop him up to allay his worries and tell him “Momma is here sweet boy.” I wanted to kiss his worried eyes and draw out coos and giggles to calm whatever fears seem to reside behind them. But I also look at this picture and see a little warrior that’s saying, “Bring it!” He has those little fists up ready to defend himself – haha! I don’t see these eyes today. Today, I see eyes filled with hope, love, strength, affection, curiosity, and sometimes mischief (especially when we play hiney ball) – haha!
When pondering moments of the last 42 days and the moments that have not yet come to pass, I recall a poem that my mother wrote. She has written many poems, and I’ve always admired her ability to paint such beautiful imagery and tell such moving stories in the form of rhyme. My mother is a token of strength herself as she overcame polio as a young child ,which continues to have lasting effects on her physical health, yet she perseveres! She’s a woman of beautiful insight and has loved me through many hardships. I’m thankful that I will have her poetry to look to for strength and comfort in the years to come. Here is Cocoon.
Wrapped in silky threads,
Secure against the wind,
Cocoon holds fast to tender leaf
As branches sway and bend.
Each day makes it stronger
As it feeds and grows and feeds,
And the gentle leaf it’s anchored to
Fulfills its every need.
The silken thread begins to loose
T0 free the life it holds.
The butterfly sees worlds anew
As shaky wings unfold.
Now it soars at edge of sky
With sun-drenched wings at flight,
And cocoons itself in memories
Of a tender leaf—FIRST SIGHT!
© Carlene Welch, 2012
When I look at Roman, I see a little butterfly whose cocoon has begun to give way to beautiful wings, wings eager to feel the air beneath them as they take flight over creations abound. They will no longer feel entrapped, but will finally fly freely. My hope, though, is that he can find refuge in a new cocoon with anchorage to a much stronger and more nurturing leaf in the love of our family. We are family, baby boy! We will be your leaf, just as you will be ours. We love you sweet Roman and can’t wait to see you spread your butterfly wings!!
This will probably be my last post until I see Dustin tomorrow!! (Ahhhh…..I get to see my husband – wahooo!) I’ll have a little youngster to chase around our 10 x 5 ft. hotel room for about 12 hours today, so imagine that will leave me few hands to type up an inspirational piece – hehe. Wish me luck guys! I better load up on the ol’ instant coffee! Love you all!! See you all very soon!!