March 31, 2010

Mama Jan Featured in MFT

I'm lucky enough to be able to write for a great farm publication, Missouri Farmer Today. I do a cook's piece each month and the most recent article was over my mother, Jan Baldwin.

(PHOTO: Mom holding a plate of ghetti. Find the recipe here.)

I thought it fitting that I blog about her because I would not have the love of cooking if it wasn't for her. She taught me so much and I still cherish our times gathered in kitchen making pies, holiday feasts and sharing great family memories over a glass of wine.

It's funny how something as simple as cooking with your kiddos can have such a profound effect on them after they mature and start families of their own.

In our family cooking brought us closer. We would cook dinner, talk about our day and share many laughs over the dinner table.

I hope to share this same tradition with my family someday...take the time tonight and cook a meal with your family. Trust me your children will thank you someday.

March 29, 2010

My Baby Keeps Growing

Caston turned 4 months old recently and I had to pinch myself. (How has it already been 4 months...)

(PHOTO: Daddy and Caston after a recent fishing tournament.)

Everyone told me that time would go fast this first year, but I had no idea. He's rolling over like a champ, talking up a storm, grabbing toys and playing, holding his head up and just recently started eating solids. Before long he will be crawling and then I will really be in for it.

I was at the grocery store last week and a woman complimented on how handsome Caston was. She asked me how old he was and I told her "4 months." She said he was so little to be that age and I said, no he's right on track. She then asked me how much formula he was taking and I told her none and smiled. She then proceed to tell me that since he was so small that I needed to not breastfeed and that women that breastfeed their babies "starve them."

Hummmm.....breath, breath, breath.

I took my long breaths, counted to 5 and said smiling, "thanks for your "unwanted" advice." Then walked off and continued my shopping.

For everyone out there that thinks they know best when it comes to giving advice to new mothers- mind your own business. Mothers get enough advice from family, they sure don't need it from perfect strangers in the grocery store.

I could have told that woman that she was in need of some eyeliner and a decent dye job on her hair - but I didn't. I just smiled, thanked her and went on my merry way.

For all mothers out there - you are number 1 in my eyes and your kiddos. Ignore those advice givers...they aren't worth your time.

On a lighter's a new recipe that will put some "jazz" in those plain old pork chops.

Parmesan-Crusted Pork Chops
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

2 large eggs
1 cup dried Italian-style bread crumbs
3/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan
4 (1/2 to 3/4-inch thick) center-cut pork loin chops (each about 10 to 12 ounces)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons olive oil
Lemon wedges, for serving

Whisk the eggs in a pie plate to blend. Place the bread crumbs in another pie plate. Place the cheese in a third pie plate. Sprinkle the pork chops generously with salt and pepper. Coat the chops completely with the cheese, patting to adhere. Dip the chops into the eggs, then coat completely with the bread crumbs, patting to adhere.

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a very large skillet over medium heat. Add pork chops, in batches if necessary, and cook until golden brown and the center reaches 150 degrees, about 6 minutes per side. Transfer the chops to plates and serve with lemon wedges.

March 26, 2010

Looking for the Best of What Missouri Has to Offer

Attention! Attention!

The 2010 Best of Rural Missouri is official...I'm always excited to see the annual results from this special contest. Best Agritourism Spot, Best BBQ, Best Pizza (BTW congrats to Hilltop Pizza in Fair Grove for winning that...I love, love their pizza) Best Outdoor Adventure, Best Ice Cream (oh, how I miss Central Dairy in Jeff City)...the list goes on and on.

My family enjoys each year when this contest is announced. We plan many weekend and day trips to visit many of the winners of this contest each year. We've discovered wonderful "hole-in-the-wall" eating establishments that have become some of our favorite places to visit when we are out and about traveling. It's funny how you can discover a new adventure right in your back door.

Make your own plans today and take a look at where your next family trip could be by looking at the contest winners.

March 10, 2010's What's Cooking at My Home

Being beef producers our family sits down to many meals that are centered around beef. It's always nice to have new recipes that incorporate hamburger. If your like me you go to your old standby hamburger recipes a lot, and always appreciate a new way to use hamburger for a fresh recipe.

I recently interviewed a farm family in my hometown for a article I'm working on for one of the publications I write for.

Rocking Z Ranch- the Sauls Family -Dale, Connie, Rolly and Megan are beef producers that sell at some local farmers' markets in southern Missouri. The farm raises all-natural Angus beef that is free from hormones, steroids, antibiotics and growth enhancers.

Their website is full of great tips for cooking beef and recipes that the family create.

Check it out...I'm sure you will find a new recipe to share at your dinner table tonight! And be sure and take a look at the Missouri Beef Industry Council's website for beef recipes as well.

March 8, 2010

9 Ways to Shop Healthy and Save Money

My inbox is full each morning I get up, from business emails to family correspondence. But, one of my favorite emails I get daily is from Children's's even trumped my Google Alerts I have set for Missouri Ag and Local Foods.

Recently, the topic in the newsletter was saving money with a growing family and I thought the info made a perfect blog post for all us working mothers and fathers. My favorite tip is # 8.

Hope you find a couple ways to shave a few dollars from your grocery bill each month.

Grocery Shopping on a Budget: 9 Ways to Shop Healthy and Save Money
From Children's Health

1.) Plan, plan, plan. “If a family or head of household can take an hour to plan a week’s worth of meals and make a grocery shopping list and another hour to grocery shop, then the family can be good for a week,” says Shelley A. Rael, RD, a registered dietitian and health education consultant at the University of New Mexico’s Employee Health Promotion Program in Albuquerque. This is a win-win situation as food prepared at home is generally healthy and less expensive.

2.) Buy in bulk. Whether it’s choosing a “family size” pack of skinless chicken breasts and freezing what you don’t use right away or one large container of nonfat yogurt instead of individual servings, buying big can equal big savings.

3.) Cut those coupons. “Clipping coupons and shopping sales will never go out of style, especially when there are many mouths to feed,” says Amy Berns, RD, a registered dietitian with Medical Network One’s Michigan Institute for Health Enhancement in Trenton. Coupons are everywhere these days, from local flyers to the Internet. Check individual food companies’ Web sites for discounts, rebates, and coupons you can print yourself.

4.) Shop the perimeter of the store. Most stores are organized with packaged foods in the middle. As much as possible, stick to the outer areas where you can find the healthier fruits and vegetables, meat, and dairy. Also, while these foods may seem expensive, be sure to consider actual serving sizes and how many meals you can get from one purchase. “Produce may appear expensive at the outset,” says Rael, “but it can be part of a meal or a snack. Many people see ‘$3.99 per pound,’ but don’t think about how that pound could potentially be spread across several meals or people.”

5.) Try some substitutions. Instead of expensive and less healthy beef, buy more chicken and pork. Beans are another good source of protein and are usually much cheaper than meat. Fish can be bought frozen or canned to cut down on cost as well.

6.) Try the “IKEA” style of eating. That means “some assembly required,” says Ashley Koff, RD, a registered dietitian in private practice in Los Angeles. “Rather than buying the salad already made, buy the pieces and assemble it yourself. Instead of the ready-to-eat pasta dish, buy the sauce, the cheese, the meatballs, and some organic frozen vegetables.” Not only is it less expensive to purchase items individually, but you will also be avoiding the preservatives used to increase a packaged food’s shelf life.

7.) Skip the snack foods. Products like chips, cookies, and soda are unhealthy and represent an unnecessary expense for shoppers looking to save money. Popcorn, dried fruits, and nuts are good, nutritious substitutions for chips.

8.) Go local and buy in-season. “Look for fresh local and in-season produce as this is usually more affordable than choosing imported produce,” says Erin Palinski, RD, a registered dietitian in private practice in northern New Jersey. “If fresh produce seems too expensive, try choosing frozen or canned. It is more affordable and has a longer shelf life. To cut down on the sodium content of canned vegetables, try rinsing them before cooking and serving.”

9.) Be creative. Whether it’s trying a new recipe with ingredients bought using coupons or putting a new twist on an old favorite, shopping and preparing different foods can be fun.