Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Local Flavors

My garden is growing well, but some plants have been lacking. I should have eggplants and peppers by now but I don't even have flowers on my plants. This growing season got started late, heat waves, heavy rain and cool weather are not helping my warm loving plants grow to their full potential. So today I ended up buy an eggplant from a local farm. They had mostly stuff I am growing well, but I do get my corn from them. I don't really have to room for corn in my small garden. I love eggplant parmesan. It is one of my favorite meals and now I that I have perfected my recipe it has become my husbands too. There is one trick that makes the perfect eggplant parm. You need to salt the eggplants and let them sit to remove some of the water. This makes the eggplant cook nice and tender and that good Italian restaurant flavor that mine was always missing. I thought I could do with out salting to save on sodium, some recipes call for salting, some don't. But it does not taste right with out salting. I cut the eggplant thin, lay them on a plate,sprinkle the eggplant with salt, top them with a paper towel then top it with another plate to put pressure and help draw out the water. Let it sit for an hour. Next step is the frying. Get 3 shallow bowls, fill the first one with flour, the second one with 2 eggs, lightly beaten, then the third bowl with bread crumbs. Heat oil in a pan, have the oil come up maybe 1/8 or 1/4 inch. While the oil is heating dip the eggplant in the flour, then eggs, then bread crumbs. Fry them for about 2 min on each side, til golden brown. The place in a baking pan that has some marinara sauce on the bottom. Make a bottom layer with eggplant. Top the eggplant with marinara sauce, the fresh mozzarella cheese(local if you can find it). I also sprinkle some real parmesan cheese on too. Repeat the layers til you are out of eggplant. Bake covered in a preheated over at 350F. Bake 15-20, uncover and bake an additional 5-10 min til the cheese is nice a bubbly. Serve with pasta. I'm hoping soon to make this with my own sauce. Eggplant parm, one of my favorite local treats, from local sources.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Storybook Land

Last week we did our annual Staycation, our stay at home, daytrips, vacations. On one of our trips we visited Storybook land in South Jersey. For us its a decent drive so we had other plans in the morning. We also know no one who has been there before so we were a little apprehensive about making our whole trip about it. I can not say enough wonderful things about this place.
Its inexpensive, we also went on a Tuesday for 25% off. That is a huge plus to a family on a budget like ours. Last year we visited the Land of Make Believe and couldn't believe how expensive it was for such a little family place. Guess that water park jumps the price and of course you can't buy them separately. I was very impressed with how clean it was. The rides, the park (which is smoke free) the tables, restaurants. Everything was spotless. When we stopped for a snack there was someone right there to clean off the tables when you were done. There was very little wait on the rides, which is very important for little ones. They have these little "story" stations through out the park in addition to the rides. They will have a little house or something set up with a window on one side. Then you push a button and the story begins. The figures, which look like they are from the 50s, start to move and a brief synopsis of a classic story begins. Goldlocks, Sleep Beauty, Red Riding Hood, Snow White (which my almost 2 year old said was scary) and more. They are cute, kitsch little places to break up going on rides. The rides are perfect for toddlers, preschoolers and other kids up to around age 8. There is also a little splash pad to cool off in if you go in summer. It was a wonderful afternoon, that is really all the time you need to enjoy the park. Family owned and perfect for regular families looking to enjoy themselves.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Summer Treats

Its hot, steaming hot out here. Summer is in full swing and the heat is above 90 most days, with a nice dose of humidity mixed in. We are doing anything and everything to keep cool, playing with the hose, swimming, relaxing in the air conditioning, and eating lots of ice cream. I don't mind the occasional treat but I'm not a fan of it as an everyday thing. We have also been eating fruit bars and other pops. Most fruit bars contain a lot of sugar so are probably not the most healthy option either. Well I decided to stick a pop in a slice of watermelon, stick it in the freezer and give it to my kids as fruit pops. They love them and so do I. Its the easiest, coolest and a very healthy summer treat. Frozen grapes are also one of my fav ways to cool down, but the fact that they are lacking popsicle sticks they aren't as kid friendly or appealing. So frozen watermelon on a stick it is. Enjoy the heat.