Friday, August 29, 2014

Cottage Cooking: Refrigerator Stir Fry

We get a farm share each summer from our local farm.  We find it easier to use up in Spring when we are home for dinners between sports practices.  Summer gets a little harder.  We are out to dinner more, vacationing, eating with friends, or throwing together a quick dinner after a day at the beach.  We inevitably find a drawer full of vegetables on the day we need to go pick up our new share.  And we only get a half share.  Imagine if we got a full share.
This is just our leftovers from our farmshare.  Look at all those colors. 

Our farmers are great about including a list of the vegetables in the share each week (when you first start you receive vegetables you've never seen before) and some possible ways to serve them.  They also include recipes from other farm share recipients and some of their own favorites.

Our personal favorite is the Refrigerator Stir Fry.  The perfect way to cook up all your leftover vegetables into a delicious dinner.  Rod and I love this meal. Our oldest daughter does too.  The younger two are just happy to have something simple for dinner those nights like mac n cheese.

"Having trouble eating all of your vegetables? -Kevin & Brittany, our farmers
Kevin and I have a TINY fridge in the camper.  We are always trying to eat the leftover vegetables from the stand, and probably eat about 3 shares worth ourselves during the week, but definitely not in the same proportions. 
I always turn to the stir fry.  It is a fast awesome way to make a lot of vegetables taste great.  Lately I have been following this general recipe about every 3 days to use what’s left in the fridge and we have been loving it!
 Fridge cleaner stir fry:
Cook some noodles, rice or other carb (if you are into carbs) and set aside. (Rod and I don't-we add potatoes or turnips for our starch)
Chop up all the vegetables you want to use:
Peas, Turnips, Kale, Chard, Scallions, Scapes, Kohlrabi, Cabbage, radishes, broccoli, bok choy, zuccini etc.
Sautee in Peanut or Sesame oil in this order:
Scallions and Scapes
Cabbage, Turnips, Kohlrabi, Radishes, Chard and Kale stalks, Peas, Bok Choy
Greens, Broccoli, zucchini
 Once everything is just cooked (don’t let it get mushy!) Add:
About 2-3 tbsp soy sauce
A drizzle (maybe 1 tbsp) molasses
A drizzle (maybe a tsp or two) of agave nectar (not necessary)
And a splash of balsamic
A healthy drizzle of Sriracha or other hot sauce (to taste)
Add the noodle/rice and stir over medium high heat for 1-2 minutes

A twist I tried last night - add two tbsp of peanut butter at the end to make a peanut sauce.  Kevin loved it. (This is how we eat it every the peanut flavor reminds us of thai food!)

I hope this helps.  Remember, eating with what fresh food is available is a journey.  My path to healthy eating started with peanut butter and jelly and grilled cheese.  It’s a long road, but take the time to enjoy it.  Your body will learn to love this healthy food, you will learn to love the motions of preparing it and enjoying it.  Thank you for taking this journey with us!"
Not a bad view for all the chopping required to make this meal.  It feels like we
are in a boat from the cottage kitchen as we can't see the yard between us and the water. 
The colors of these beats are amazing! 

Sautee it all up in the pan!
Add vegetables that take longer to cook first like potatoes, beats, carrots and turnips. 
Then add quick to cook veggies like squash, zucchini, spinach and greens at the end. 
Serve up and Enjoy!
It helps when you have a nice view to enjoy it. Delicious!

And if you are staying in a cottage and don't have all your kitchen essentials on hand grab a
great simmer sauce from Trader Joe's and enjoy all the bounty of vegetables summer has to offer!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Feeling Adventurous?

We don't leave the cottage very often.  We are very content to just stay here and hang out on the lake. Our excursion to the waterfalls and today were the exception of the summer.  But fun nonetheless.  Today we headed to Mount Sunapee which is about 10 miles from our cottage.  It took about 20 minutes to get there and our GPS took us over dirt roads and up and down huge hills.  It was a gorgeous drive in summer time but might be a bit hairy in winter with snow on the roads.  We tried a more circuitous route on the way home that seemed a little safer for a winter pass.  We decided to do the Mount Sunapee "Play All Day" package which included an Aerial Challenge Course, Mini-Golf, Ride on the Chairlift to the top of the Mountain, Disc Golf, Climbing Tower and Airbag Jump.  We thought we would just do the Challenge Course and the Ride to the top of the Mountain and that maybe the kids would try the climbing tower and airbag jump.  We arrived at 11:30 and had plenty of time to do everything (although we only made a lame attempt at the disc golf).  

After the beginner course when everything seemed easy peasy!
We started with the Aerial Challenge Course.  They put on your safety harnesses and teach the kids how to do the zip line portion on a mini one basically 6 feet from the ground.  You start on a beginner course which feels quite tricky at first.  Until you get to the second, third and fourth courses.  I grew up doing a ropes course like this as a kid at family camp.  My parents remember feeling my tears like raindrops while they stood on the ground below watching me in full terror crossing the tightrope 35 feet in the air.  They would have been proud of me today.  I bit my tongue, only swore and got tears in my eyes once and at the same moment (when I fell off a skateboard 30-40 feet in the air and got rope burns on my armpits).  I continued on and zip lined to my finish.  The kids and Rod went on to the fourth course.  I was done.  The fourth course was 10 feet higher, was more physically challenging and included swings (which make me nauseous when I have my feet on the ground).  I was glad to be on the ground again taking pictures of my brave girls and my husband who tried every which way to challenge himself (sorry there are no pictures of him..he was the brave one that wasn't encircling the trees on the platforms with both arms and could actually let go to take a picture).  The girls worked together to help each other cross different challenges and really were amazing up there.  For a mom who has had a fear of heights since I was a child and continues to have stress dreams that involve me jumping from one high height to another and missing I was so amazed and in awe of all of them.  Rod of course makes the whole course look easy.  There was one point on the course when he was encouraging me from behind when I reminded him that I'd prefer he act like I was in childbirth (Don't talk!  At all!  Especially when I'm focusing on not loosing my cool!) He was great and so encouraging but I told him to not even try to guilt me into do the fourth course because it was NOT HAPPENING!  

Cheering me on in the middle of one of her most difficult challenges. 
Kelsey doing dance moves 30 feet in the air. 
There was definitely some tree hugging.  It felt so good to get to the different canopies between challenges. 
Funny you can't see me trembling in the pictures.  Haley was so sweet on the canopy ahead of me encouraging me when she saw true fear in my eyes.  She kept saying "You can do it Mommy, you can do it!"  I would hear the other girls who were a few challenges ahead of me cheering me on too.  I think they all knew that this was harder on me than any of them. 
The girls made it look easy!

They were so great at encouraging each other and showing each other the ropes!
Nothing to hold on to except for your own safety line!  Very hard to take that first step..
But I did...I didn't know the hardest part was ahead.
In the form of that green skateboard in the sky.  The girls made it look easy.
I finally got the courage to step on it and was left hanging up in the sky by my armpits
as it zoomed away from under me.  I then had to scoot back to the platform using my armpits.  Wanted to ask
for a belay to the ground right then.  My glasses fogged up from the tears in
my eyes so I had to hand them to Rod.  Then and there I knew I wasn't doing the 4th course.

But this was the only way back to getting my feet on the ground again...

Not really smiling.  Can't believe they roped me into this!
So glad to have my feet on the ground watching this one!
This challenge was the main reason I didn't do the 4th course.  
As if one adventure wasn't enough we decided to refuel before heading to the next challenge.  We were all famished.  I felt like I'd had 5 cups of coffee from all the adrenaline.  After a great lunch at the base lodge we headed to the climbing tower and the Airbag Jump.  Kelsey and Haley went right up and did the airbag.  Harder to land on their bottoms than they thought so they never made it to the higher jump.   Rod and I went later and Lindsay tried several times but just couldn't take that final step.  She gave it a go though.  I told her if chicken little (me!) could do it than she definitely could.  Wasn't happening.  At least not today.  On the other hand she makes the climbing tower look so easy.  The man working their attached her to the belay and then went to add Rod to his.  Before he looked back she was already at the top.  She is a monkey that one! She tried all of the different courses.

Show em how it's done Haley!
Way to go Kelsey!

This was scary to me too but after the
Aerial Adventure Course even I could handle it.  

So glad we experienced this Adventurous day together.  Even if I was scared out of my mind!
Can't wait to come back this winter and ski this mountain!  

Pictures From A Paddle

Went for a morning paddle with the girls and got a few more shots of the other end of the lake....

These two are so fearless.  Will go out in kayaks together or alone.
Love swimming in the water and floating in the lake.
Our middlest loves being attached to mom or dad or an older friend/family member
in some way, shape or form to be in the water.  Her mode of transportation is the canoe.  She is not
loving kayaks yet.  Will go in a floatie if she is attached to someone.  She's getting there..
said she wasn't even going to enter the lake water...

My new favorite house on the lake.   An antique like our house at home but right on the water.
Love the patio, established gardens and plantings too.  Always thought I wanted modern for
my lake house/ski house but this house would do...

A little blueberry picking from the boat...
Shared beach.  Beautiful gardens down by the water.  
Blueberry bushes protected from the birds.  We could see the berries from the water.

This was just one cove on the other end of the lake.  We headed back to our own dock after this.  Will have to take some more pictures on tomorrow's paddle.  Love the grandiose house with the wood fired hot tub and sunset views.  But realize that some of the quaint cottages are my favorites...  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Looking for a waterfall...

So I had it in my head that I wanted to head on a hike to a waterfall today.  Last of the warm weather when my girls just might go in to cool off.  Hoping for a nice hike with the dogs.  Couldn't find anything near us at first.  So frustrating.  We are in New Hampshire!  There has to be something so we kept looking...and then we found it.  No hike and not sure if we could bring the dogs.  But extraordinary waterfalls on the edge of the road.  We are sandwiched between Newport and Claremont.  Two small towns but bigger than the town our lake is in.  The places we go to the grocery store and to do errands.  And apparently the places we should look for waterfalls as well.

This week we headed out to dinner with our Rod's brother, our sister-in-law Jody and their two boys.  They bought a house on the same lake as us this Summer.  Ours has been rented out since the beginning of summer.  We finally overlapped time at the lake this week.  We have been enjoying every minute of it.  Heading to their house for pancake and bacon breakfasts, swimming off our dock, bbq's and dinners out.  It's been a nice time for the girls to connect with their cousins.  Good times!  We even went out to dinner at the Common Man in Claremont one night together and sat on the patio next to the waterfalls.  Loud but beautiful.  A perfect spot for a summer meal!  And the company was pretty cute too!  After dinner we walked to a bridge that overlooks the falls and the cousins threw rocks down into the river below.  We headed off to grocery shop and they headed off to put the boys to bed.  Our only regret is that our cottages aren't closer so we can't hang out together after the kids are in bed enjoying the fire and their company!

Today we wanted to find a waterfall.  I finally found Pollards Mill Falls on Falls Road in Newport NH.  Literally 10-15 minutes and 7 miles from our lake house.  Apparently it is privately owned and the current owner allows people to swim in the watering hole all day as generations have done for years.  We met Dale the current owner and the place was in fact his grandparents.  He has been swimming here since he was a little boy and it was quite spectacular to see the little kids who know this river like the back of their hands.  They flip and dive and jump in without a single hesitation.  Frightening and fascinating at the same time.  We hung out for a while and walked the river for a bit.  Found calm pools to cross and swim in.  Watched daredevils do things we couldn't imagine doing.  By the end of the day we had all jumped in.  The exit from the pool is a little tricky.  A little slippery from the algae and the smooth rocks from years of wear by the water.  But the pools themselves are amazing.  Seventeen feet deep, waterfalls, slides, amazing jumps, and calm pools.  What a wonderful way to spend a summer afternoon!  Even I jumped in and I'm the biggest wimp of them all!

We met some wonderful people there today.  Dale the owner, whose grandparents owned this house before him and who allows the public to swim here for free as generations have done.  Apparently everyone in the area learns to swim in the waterhole below the falls.  He walked up all red faced and sweaty from work at his house and dove into the "bath tub".  Chatted with us for a bit and then showed us the "alligator pool" and other good spots for beginners.  Adam, a precocious teen, who lives around the corner and did every possible dive, flip, and jump as a literal tour guide of the place for us.  He showed us things we never even imagined were possible.

Another gentleman whose kids entertained us for hours.  He has owned a house on a lake in NH for 30 some years and said it is the best decision we will ever make.  He found out about these waterfalls 4 years ago on Chronicle.  He was watching a show on Hidden Waterfalls of New England and right before a commercial break they mentioned that a waterfall in Newport NH would be coming up next.  He says he drove by this road daily and never knew the falls existed.  He owns a pontoon boat and never wants to leave the lake.  He offers to take his kids to Water Country or other paid attractions and they beg to come to the falls.  Every day.  For hours!  They spend 3-4 hours here on a daily basis.  He had a 15 year old daughter and 13 year old twins, a boy and a girl.  They held hands and jumped off the waterfall for hours on end.  What a wonderful gift he is giving them by spending the afternoon there when he could be home working on his addition.

He pointed out another couple who are probably in their 80's from the Czech Republic who have travelled the world and spend more time at the falls than the owner himself does. They told him of all the places they have seen in the world, this is the most beautiful.  They sat basking in the sun most of the time we were there but then the husband got up and walked into the largest waterfall.  He let the water fall on his back and let the river rush at him.  It must have felt like the best massage ever.  As they left he held out his hand to help his elderly wife traverse the rocks back to their car.  This is their one daily excursion and what an excursion it is.

The gentleman we were chatting with says the drive to his NH lake house is like the best blood pressure medicine his doctor could prescribe.  He feels his blood pressure dropping as he drives the familiar roads to his house.  Sort of like the power of the water that wears holes in the rocks and circles on the shore of the river.  It has a powerful yet soothing affect on his stress.   He comes year round even though he hates winters.  While his kids snowmobile and play outside in the snow with neighbors he prepares hot chocolate and warm drinks for all of them upon their return.

After the majority of people left and the teenagers were long gone we decided to have a go at the pool.  Without everyone watching it seemed easier to attempt the exit from the main pool.  Kelsey jumped off a number of times and as I saw her sisters hesitate, a little worried to try, I decided that I would be a good example for them at risk taking and try it next.  I am normally all about safety and control but didn't want my middlest to not try it and regret it later.  I took off my shirt and walked over in my bathing suit and without saying a word just jumped right in.  The kids were shocked to say the least.  Getting out was a little tricky but we managed.  Before we knew it Haley was jumping in and Lindsay even jumped in from the lower rock.  Not to be outdone Rod had to jump in and then try the higher jump that his teenage daughter had done before him.  I'm sure we will be coming back soon!  Next time one of us will try the waterslide into the pool.  We came home chilled from the falls to start up our gas stove and eat warm burgers with red wine.  A great way to warm up after a wonderful day in a cool NH river experiencing the falls!  (The battery in my phone died half way through our adventure which is ok since I was in the pool!)