There and back.

Life happens.  And when it does, it takes precedence (as it should).  I blog about life, rather than live to blog… thus the unusual several-days-long absence.

These last few days have required abundant amounts of coffee, but I am alive.  And I am well.  It’s been busy.  And good.  Good-busy.  But even good-busy can be bad.  (Is anyone still with me???)  Moving on…

In the midst of all this good-busy-ness, I was fortunate to be offered an amazing opportunity.  I and my family were invited to a FREE cooking class hosted by a local Bed & Breakfast under some sort of special grant (from the county, I think?).  I was lost on a few of the details.  (All I heard was “free” and “food” and “family” and after the week I’d just had, that was good enough for me.)
(Cleaning up a dozen raw eggs off the kitchen floor. And the 2-year-old.  Or a jumbo-sized box of baking soda.  Or Sharpie marker off of a little face.  And that was just one day.  When does age 2 end again?)

My dear husband did not seem all that interested so he opted to stay home with my darling little one.  (Probably a wise choice given the havoc she had already created in my own kitchen last week…)

So a date with my two big girls!  We were pleasantly greeted by three sweet ladies at the B&B who put us to work in the kitchen right away.  (This B&B also happens to be a licensed restaurant so it was especially interesting to get to work in their kitchen!)

The Menu:

Appetizer pizza
Whole grain pasta 
Vegetable salad 
Zucchini bread
Ratatouille (which I have always wanted to try since I saw the movie!!!)
Fruit parfaits

After going over the rules of the kitchen, I was assigned to tomato duty, dicing loads of local homegrown tomatoes.  They were the last of the summer crop.  So ripe, gushy, and red.  Perfect!  On of my girls began snipping fresh basil for the No-Cook Tomato Sauce, while the other one peeled carrots and cucumbers for the salad.  Another family went to work on the zucchini bread.

I forgot my “good” camera (calling it good is being very generous) but I was able to get a few decent photos of our day on my cell phone (also badly in need of an upgrade).

Patiently waiting for the peeler to work on a kiwi for the fruit parfait.

 The little one was super thrilled about the fruit parfaits. (And, perhaps, the fact that she was going to measure out the yogurt all by herself.  Yikes.  Something I would probably never let happen at home.  But probably should.) 

 Assembling the Ratatouille…

 Back to work on the fruit parfaits.

 Success!!!  She really liked everything on the menu.

 She was happy, too, and ate everything!

While the food was cooking and baking, the ladies at the B&B taught the kids how to properly set the table, then talked to them about nutrition, whole grains, etc.  I especially appreciated the fact that everything we made was homegrown and local.  I didn’t really know what to expect from this experience beforehand so this was truly a pleasant surprise.  As a bonus, they sent us home with all the recipes and packaged leftovers.  (Yay!)

At the end of the day, the ladies asked for feedback and I had plenty!  They are looking into doing this kind of thing in the future, but at a small cost to families.  What an incredible way to learn new, wholesome recipes, while spending precious time with family.  I am sooo in on this.

This was by far one of my favorite days ever spent with my girls and they enjoyed every minute.  I still can hardly believe that they ate all of those vegetables in the ratatouille!

I loved the recipe for the No-Cook Tomato Sauce.  This is an amazingly versatile (and quick!) recipe that is most definitely being added into my recipe repertoire.  We used this sauce on the appetizer pizza, tossed with whole-grain pasta, and also tossed with the vegetable salad.  It could also be used as a base for Ratatouille (although we used something different at the B&B) or to make Bruschetta.

6 large fresh tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 c. chopped fresh basil
1/4. tsp. kosher salt
Coarsely ground black pepper

1.  Chop tomatoes into a bowl.  Add remaining ingredients.  Toss gently.
2.  Cover and let stand at room temperature for up to 2 hours.  Toss with pasta, use on pizzas or make bruschetta or simply eat.  Could also be used as a base for salad, soup or salsa or as a sauce for baked chicken or Swiss steak.

(Letting the sauce stand allows for the flavors to fully come together.)

Check my Recipes to find these and many other great recipes!

  “For God is sheer beauty,
   all-generous in love,
      loyal always and ever.”

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