Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Wendy Almeida has been writing about enjoying the outdoors with kids in her monthly Kid Tracks Outdoors column for the Maine Sunday Telegram for 10 years. Her kids have grown up exploring the trails of Maine on foot, skis and bikes as well as through the geocache and EarthCache games. The family has found treasures of all sorts while out on the trail and the journey continues to be as much fun now that the kids are teenagers as it was when they were preschoolers.
On Twitter and Instagram at @wea1021.
A while back I shared a homemade vanilla yogurt recipe in Wednesday's Food & Dining section and have tweaked my recipe in honor of Cinco de Mayo. It's a Latin American inspired cinnamon-flavored treat I have dubbed, "Horchata" yogurt.
My husband grew up drinking horchata, a rice milk spiced with vanilla and cinnamon that is popular in Latin America. It sounds a little odd if you're not from a culture that pairs milk with cinnamon but during the years I lived in California I developed a love for this drink.
Unfortunately, the smooth creamy horchata I enjoyed on the other coast is not so readily available on this one. I've experimented with making it from scratch with mixed results. (If you're interested I think this recipe is tasty as long as it sits in the fridge overnight to smooth out the taste).
We do a lot of hiking in the spring. Part of the appeal at this time of year is the cool weather, views, exercise and quality family time but it’s also the sub sandwiches. As things happen with kids, you do something once or twice that meets with the kids’ approval and you suddenly find you’ve started a “family tradition.”
Eating lunch near the summit of Caribou Mountain in the Caribou-Speckled Wilderness area of the White Mountain National Forest in Maine.This has been the case with eating subs at the summit of our mountain climbs. It’s the incentive the kids tell me they need to hike the bigger mountains. Since I want to enjoy the hike as well, I accommodate their request for lunch. I can’t seem to replicate the bread or the specific condiments of a store-made sub at home so it’s lucky for the kids the Subway shop near my house is open early in the morning. We’ve had a few logistics to work out with our sub pick-up before a hike and appreciate our local shop having helpful employees who agree to wrap them to fit in our insulated lunch packs. We need a foot-long to be stacked side-by-side before being wrapped to make things fit correctly. The kids joked last weekend while at the summit of Caribou Mountain that they could do a commercial for eating subs on various Maine mountains.
I figure as long as they continue to happily climb mountains with me so we can chat and reconnect after a busy week, I can buy them a sub to eat at the summit. And really, if that’s all it takes to get the kids to agree to do a 7-mile hike up a mountain with a nearly 2,000-foot elevation gain (that would be Caribou Mountain), then I can make a sandwich purchase for them. The summit of Caribou Mountain was a 7-mile, nearly 2,000-foot elevation gain (according to my GPS unit - you can check out the specs of our hike on everytrail.com). This hike tested our fitness level but a tasty lunch at the summit and plenty of water and snack breaks along the way made the reward of the views at the top worth the effort. The kids ate subs at the summit of Sabattus Mountain in Lovell last month. That was an easy 1.5 mile hike with about a 500-foot elevation gain. You can find an interactive map with photos of this particular hike, along with our review in the Outdoors section of PressHerald.com
My husband and I have been experimenting with making the fermented tea-based drink, kombucha. A friend recently offered me a scoby (the mushroom-like culture) because she's a fan of making it. I enthusiastically accepted it, along with her instructions on how to make it. My latest trial was a really tasty batch that my 16-year-old daughter documented through the fermentation process.
My co-worker Avery just wrote about the Urban Farm Fermentory, a local company now selling this drink commercially in Maine. Right now it is considered alcoholic per Maine's guidelines for selling it but kombucha has a very long history for its health benefits (and none of it related to anyone getting drunk on the very small amount of alcohol it can develop as a result of its fermentation process).
My daughter decided to learn more about the science of kombucha and being a photography enthusiast, opted to document her daily observations of the fermentation process with her camera.
It was fascinating.
I like popcorn and prefer to make it in my Whirley Pop popper on my stove top. But my dad? He is a true popcorn connoisseur and has made his nearly daily supply (60+ years) on his stove top with a regular pot. He has his favorite type of popping corn and oil and his own method for melting and drizzling on butter and adding salt. It's a ritual kind of cooking for him.
I inherited dad's love of popcorn but I don't make (or eat) it all the time. When I do, I enjoy butter on top but also like seasonings and lower fat choices as well. That's why I decided to pick up a bag of Little Lads herbal popcorn a couple of months ago at a local farm stand.
Little Lads has just enough salt and tang, along with some tasty spices, that really appeals to me. I thought when I mentioned trying this herbal version to my popcorn-loving dad, he would turn up his nose at the idea. I've only ever seen him eat popcorn with butter and salt. He surprised me though.
"I'd be willing to give it a try. I am a versatile popcorn person."
A popular meal at my house is soup. It’s easy to make in large quantities and ensures there are always leftovers to freeze for future lunches. This makes my life a lot easier during my busy work week. Needless to say, I make a lot of soup.
I have been looking recently to expand my soup making horizons to find a recipe that packs a bigger fiber punch by incorporating beans. I found one using lima beans and leeks that I adapted to appeal to my family’s love of potato leek soup.
The use of an emersion blender (a hand-held blender you submerge to blend directly in a pan) is the key to this recipe. It smoothly blends ingredients in to a rich, creamy base that is very potato-like. That was the selling point for my kids. The soup didn’t look like it had beans in it.
I will admit my kids don’t love this recipe nearly as much as my usual potato-based soup, but they said it tastes OK and they eat it. That’s a big success in my book. The fiber content of this lima bean leek soup is significantly higher and, it has a lower carbohydrate count than its potato counterpart.