What’s for Dinner: Feb 27 – Mar 5

This is a big week for us here at Overhill.  This week E will be turning 8!  And to celebrate we have gone all out Pokemon Style.  We have Pokemon food, Pokemon games, Pokemon crafts, Pokemon cakes, Pokemon gift bags filled with all sorts of Pokemon goodies, Pokemon cards…prepare yourself for a Pokemon Party Post sometime later this week!

But in the mean time we still need to eat!  And while Friday is a big day for the smallest Hobbit in our Home, and of course it’s Pizza and a Movie Night, this is also the beginning of Lent.  Which means no meat on Friday.  Boy am I glad we had that Thai chicken pizza last week!  Now since our little Lolly adores Fish, you would think this would be a no brainer, but fish on pizza was shot right down.  In flames.  Behind enemy lines.  So there won’t be a fishy pizza entry on Friday.  But then again, there may be anchovies.  Fair Warning!

So what are we eating for dinner this week?  For all that we have two meatless days, Ash Wednesday, and Friday we seem to be making up for it the rest of the week.  Starting with one classic non-Paleo sandwich favorite tonight:  Cuban Sandwiches.

Monday Night – We had lovely roast pork over the weekend.  It turned out crispy and spicy glazed on the outside and succulent just this side of pink on the inside.  And now the leftovers will be turned into one of my favorite sandwiches of all time – The Cubano!  Crusty Oval Sandwich bread, mustard, pickles, ham and pork.  Yum!  I’m also going to try a Paleo yeast bread found at Paleomom.com. I don’t need bread everyday – but the idea of a Cuban sandwich with out bread (using cabbage or mushrooms or just meat and mustard and pickles) makes me sad.  Cross your fingers that the Paleomom’s recipe turns out well for me!

Correction – I WAS going to try and make the Paleo yeast bread found on paleomom.com, but Lolly came home with a massive project due the on Tuesday and so I spent my evening guiding a research paper on Arctic Wolves.  Fun fact: Arctic Wolves have furry paws so their feet don’t get cold on the tundra.  So I know more than I ever wanted to about wolves, but I have no idea how Paleo Yeast Bread tastes.  But tomorrow is another day.  And since I get the night off from dinner cookery, I’m hoping to get the baking done!

Tuesday – Mardi Gras here in the states!  or Pancake Day in the UK.  And it’s pancake day for us too!  We’re going to a pancake dinner at our church for dinner tonight!  Lolly wants thin British Style pancakes with lemon and sugar.  We’ll be bringing our own since I don’t think that’s going to be on offer 😉  Lucy loves to drown her American Style Flapjacks in not-quite-Maple Syrup.  Kevin wants to flip pancakes in the air like Daddy Pig (I DO NOT want pancakes stuck to my ceiling Daddy Pig!) and then drown them in real-maple-syrup.  I want Pancakes, but they are most definitely not Paleo.  So, I’m gonna make some shrimp and chicken jambalaya over cauliflower rice at lunch time to feel that Big Easy spirit, and then stick to sausage and maple syrup at the Pancake Dinner (and probably a second helping of Jambalaya when I get home!)

Wednesday – Carrot, Swede (Rutabaga) and Coriander Soup with Crusty Bread.  If the bread works out I’ll have bread with lashings of apple butter along with.  If the bread doesn’t work out I’ll just skip it.  And I’m going to add Crispy bacon crumbles on the soup to provide much needed protein.

Thursday – Kevin’s in the Kitchen and he’s taking on the Jamie’s 30 minute meals Beef Hash with Jacket Potatoes and Salad with Green Goddess Dressing minus the Butter Beans.  IF I wasn’t trying to be all Paleo, those beans are absolutely divine.  I wonder if I can make something similar with diced white sweet potatoes instead…hmmmm.  But that’s a recipe for another day.

Friday – Happy Birthday Lolly!  We’ll be making Pizza of course!  But since its now Lent we’ll go meatless.  Since it’s Lolly’s birthday we’ll go Pokemon!  Red peppers, tomatoes and cauliflower, black olives and cheese to make Pokeball pizzas and of course we’re watching a Pokemon movie!

Saturday – Happy Birthday Lolly Part 2 – Since I expect I’ll be run ragged at the Pokemon Party I’m planning a crock pot dinner for tonight.  Crock Pot White Chicken Chili in fact.  I’m still trying to find a good recipe that doesn’t involve coconut.  I don’t want this to taste like a Thai soup, I want chili!  It may end up being more like chicken tortilla soup (minus the tortillas).

Sunday – Roast Turkey (no its not Thanksgiving) and a tray bake of sweet potato rounds, brussel sprouts, red onions and parsnips and a homemade cranberry orange compote.

For desserts we’re having Eton Mess since that is one of Lolly’s Favorites and strawberries are still cheap in the stores down here.  I’m not sure where the name came from but there is a wikipedia article about it.  However as I tell my kids, Wikipedia is facts about facts…not the facts themselves, so I’m not sure how accurate this information actually is.  But history aside, Eton Mess – a delicious combination of strawberries, whipped cream and broken meringues is a real treat.   I tried to make this last weekend for our picnic outing, but ended up substituting lady fingers for meringues and making a sort of Strawberry-Mi-Sue instead.  This time I’m making my own meringues since I can’t seem to find those in stores.  Oh Trader Joe – why have you forsaken me?  And I suppose we’ll have to play a little cricket to go along with our dessert.  Ready Bowler?

What We Ate Last Week…Feb 20 – 26

Apologies for the really late update :-/  I’ve been really run down and under the weather.  Even though the weather has turned lovely.  I’m bracing myself for the return of the cold biting winds and frost.

These dinner posts are very popular.  And missing one is really made my blog stats go down – which leads to sad kitty faces.  So I thought today I’d post a double whammy, what we ate last week, and what we’re having for dinner for the coming week!

Last week started off okay but the week ended with me feeling icky.  Dinner was the last thing on my mind and I’m also sad to report that the 80/20 Paleo goal wasn’t met either.  Well, I should say, it was 80/20.  Just 80% not paleo and 20% paleo.  Cue the SAD kitty faces.  I have also noticed that switching back to the SAD (btw that’s Standard American Diet for those who like me are newbies to the Paleo world) has made me feel even more icky.  So, while I still have my cough and I’m not feeling up to walkies or strength training, or yoga or moving around in general, I’m hopping back on the wagon!  I’d love to get some words of encouragement…hint hint hint.

So what did we eat last week?  It all started off a bit weird…cue the wiggly fade and silly time warp music “bup-a-la-doo bup-a-la-doo bup-a-la-doo” Continue reading What We Ate Last Week…Feb 20 – 26


Yesterday was Yoga Day (or Yogurt Day as Kevin likes to say) and so Kevin was in charge of dinner preparations.  I love love LOVE a man who can cook.  And my man, he cooks!

It was very nice to come home from yoga and sit down to a lovely steamy bowl of Chicken Pho.  Buuuut I have a few critiques – not complaints.  I would never complain about someone else cooking me dinner – and he even helped with clean up.  I LOVE that man! Continue reading Pho-Pas

Wishful Thinking = Garden Plans!

I don’t know any one who is a complete realist when it comes to garden planning.  Most Gardeners are prone to Wishful Thinking and an epic amount of Optimism.  Myself included!  Especially when faced with seed catalogs or a large (or small) display of seed packets.  I have been known to lay out a square foot garden of seed packets on the floor while standing in the front of just such a display at Lowes.  My husband might think I’m nuts, but the staff at Lowes are very understanding!

However, this year Kevin went on a preemptive strike against my seed packet hording tendencies.  I thought he was hiding out, puttering, doing much needed and vastly important work in the office for a a few hours one Saturday.  I later found that he had been in the garage organizing my all my gardening supplies.  Dear Man!  Of course he seemed to locate every seed packet that I had bought last year with the intention of gardening.  So I suppose that means my yearly binge shop of seed packets is out.  I should use up the ones we already have.  Poo!

So with my stash of seeds in hand (and not scattered to the four winds throughout the garage) here’s what my planning sheet looks like so far:

Square Foot Gardening:
Possibility Vegetable Name # Per Square Weekly Need: Planting Schedule (64 week): Start Date:
Def Arugula 16 8 8 per 1 week March
Def Carrots 16 8 8 per 1 week March
Def Chard 4 1 1 per 1 week March
Def Cucumbers 2 2 1 per month May
Def Leaf Lettuce 9 3 3 per 1 week March
Def Patty Pan Squash 1 1 1 per summer March
Def Radishes 16 8 8 per 1 week March
Def Romaine 4 2 2 per 1 week March
Def Spinach 9 3 3 per 1 week March
Def Tomatoes 1 1 1 per month April
Def Zucchini 1 1 1 per summer April
Def Strawberries 4 1 1 per spring, summer, fall March
Def Garlic 4 1 1 per 1 week March
Def Green Beans 4 2 2 per month March
Def Parsnips 16 4 4 per 1 week March
Def Peppers – Green 1 2 1 per month April
Def Peppers – Red 1 2 1 per month April
Def Jalapeno 1 1 1 per summer April
Def Melon 1 1 1 per summer April
Def Watermelon 1 1 1 per summer April
Fall Winter Squash 1 1 1 per spring, summer, fall April
Herb Basil 1 1 1 per month March
Herb Chives 1 1 1 per summer March
Herb Cilantro 4 1 1 per month March
Herb Dill 9 1 1 per summer March
Herb Parsley 2 1 1 per month Already
Herb Rosemary 1 1 1 per summer March
Herb Sage 1 1 1 per summer Already
Herb Thyme 4 1 1 per summer Already
Low Rutabaga 4 2 2 per 1 week April
Low Turnips 9 3 3 per 2 weeks April
Low Eggplant 1 1 1 per month April
Low Cabbage 1 0.5 1 per 2 weeks March
Low Summer Squash 1 1 1 per summer April
Med Cauliflower 1 1 1 per 1 week March
Med Celery 2 1 1 per 1 week March
Med Leeks 9 2 2 per 2 week March
Spring SFG 2017
Spring SFG 2017

One reason I love the SFG method is that it is very easy to determine how much to actually plant.  I don’t need 16 arugula plants to be ripe and ready for harvest all at once.  I estimate I’ll need about 8 plants per week.  Which means that week 1 I will plant 8 seeds in the 16 plant grid.  Week 2 I will plant 8 more seeds to fill up the grid.  Week 3 I will plant another 8, and so on and on until I start harvesting (for arugula that’s usually about 4 weeks time).  After that point I can carefully dig up my first week’s 8 arugula plants, use them and plant 8 more seeds in the vacant spot!  So I get a rotating crop of arugula that will last for months (or at least until the weather turns too warm here and they start to bolt).

Another method for continuous harvest is to plant several squares all at once and then harvest a few leaves from each plant and allow them to continue growing.  I have used both methods in the past, but I think this year we’re going with the ‘remove the entire plant when ripe then start fresh seeds’ method.

For fruits and veg that are more “ever-bearing” like squash, cucumbers and tomatoes you must harvest to encourage new growth, but you only have to plant 1 for a longer period (such as 1 per month or 1 per summer).

I already have parsley, sage, mint and thyme growing in pots on our front steps.  And I’m planning on adding Rosemary, Chives, Dill, Cilantro and most especially Basil ASAP!  I’ll also be planting more Parsely, Cilantro, and Basil because I usually use SO much of those that sometimes cutting back the plant to make a recipe on monday doesn’t leave me with enough for a recipe later in the week.  Obvious solution…I need more plants!

In my attempt to make the garden look less like a veg plot and more flowerbed like (hopefully to appease the homeowners association) I’ll be throwing in a few zinnias, marigolds, cosmos and daisies.  Folks will be so entranced by the pretty flowers they won’t see the lettuce or tomato vine right?  Wishful Thinking!

Photo Credit: Mel Bartholomew, http://www.melbartholomew.com/the-very-first-sfg/

Mel Bartholomew may be one of the only Garden Realists!  His method certainly helps bring about Garden Achievements rather than just a bunch of Wishful Thinking!  I was given his first book from my Papa several years ago.  And then later bought the new edition of the same book.  I’m actually partial to the older version.  And this groovy picture which can also be found in the original book is basically my idea of garden nirvana!

Valentine’s Day, Shmalentine’s Day

I’m completely and totally not into Valentine’s Day.  My children usually hate it.  The whole forced to bring in something for everyone in the class even the person who makes you feel awful day after day part of the equation can be overwhelmingly upsetting when you’re in elementary school…or high school.  However Lucy (and her Boyfriend!) have plans for Valentine’s Day.  She’s been cooking up some plan for a movie date and making him a box of treats.  She also mentioned making him brownies.  Young love!

The real kicker though is that for some inexplicable reason Ella is actually looking forward to it as well.  Despite her love of all things hearts and pink she’s never been too enthusiastic about this holiday.  She says it always makes her feel left out.  Awwww, my baby!  Well this year, the year of the Fenniken (for those that follow the Pokemon astrological calendar), I found her just the Valentine Poem:

Charmander is Red(ish-orange),

Squirtle is Blue,

If You were a Pokemon,

I would choose You!

And for the last 11 years Kevin and I have had more to celebrate on February 11th rather than the 14th.  February 11 is the day that we got engaged.  He kneeled on a rock out on Olmsted Island in Great Falls MD, sang me a beautiful song and asked me to be his wife.  Of course I said yes!  Greatest Not Valentine’s Day Ever!

So in honor of Valentine’s Day and Not Valentine’s Day we’re having a very pink, red and strawberry day.  Starting with strawberry friands adapted from a similar recipe from one of the most beautiful blogs/cookbooks of all time “What Katie Ate” by Katie Quinn Davis.  So what the heck is a Friand?.  Friands are similar to muffins, but they’re made with almond meal instead of wheat flour (so already heading to a Paleo Place of Happiness!).  They’re originally a French food, known over there as financier, although they are super popular in Australia and known there as friands.  Any which way, they’re very tasty and make an excellent dessert or can stand in as a paleo breakfast muffin.

For dinner we’re still having Tacos…’cause its still Tuesday, but I thought I’d make a special dessert in honor of the day.  And since Ella is still undecided about chocolate, (sometimes I wonder where we went wrong…honestly how can she NOT like chocolate?) I decided to make panna cotta with strawberry elderflower compote instead.

Panna cotta is like grown up creamy jello/pudding.  The first time I can recall having panna cotta was at River Cottage (see, there it is again!).  We harvested the little yellow flower buds from a Scottish Broom Hedge (which incidentally has an almost tropical smell to it) and steeped them in milk before adding gelatin and sugar and letting them set up to a seductively wobbly texture.  Yes, wobbly can be seductive.  But for Valentine’s Day I think I’ll add a wee dram of elderflower cordial (found at Ikea of all places!).  It’s very sugary and not very Paleo but come on…it is Valentine’s Day!  You could skip the cordial and add a bit of vanilla extract and or vanilla seed pod to be more paleo.  I should also mention that while this recipe can be made with almond milk (behold a recipe from nom nom Paleo) I plan on making mine with milk and cream.

Here is my adaptation of the BBC Good Food Recipe for Elderflower Panna Cotta but in approximate US measurements and with out the vanilla, I think it competes too much with the very delicate elderflower flavor.

Elderflower Panna Cotta

2 cups heavy cream

2 cups whole milk

3 oz (by weight) pure cane sugar

4 tbsp elderflower cordial (they call for elderflowers but cordial works fine too)

2 1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin powder (such as Great Lakes or Knox, see my note about gelatin below)

Note about Gelatin: the recipe originally called for 2 leaves of gelatin…see this website for information on how to convert the amount of powdered gelatin to leaf gelatin.  The information on the website is for making a hard set gelatin, and that’s not what we’re going for here, so take this advice with a measure of salt…er gelatin.  We’re making panna cotta…remember we want a seductive wobble not knox blox or jello jigglers that can withstand the abuse of a toddler before being consumed!)

Scald the milk, cream and sugar in a small sauce pan.  Add the cordial and allow to cool for about 15 minutes.  Then add the gelatin (the liquid should still be hot enough to melt the gelatin) and stir until the gelatin is dissolved.  Allow to cool to room temperature before pouring into ramekins (or a heart shaped silicone muffin mold).  Place them in the fridge for at least 4 hours until set.

When ready to serve, dip the ramekin into hot water briefly before turning out onto a plate.  You may need to use a knife to break the suction at the side of the ramekin.  A slightly damp plate will help you position the panna cotta as you wish (freezing plates and allowing the resulting frost to thaw will give you just the right amount of water).  Garnish with a fruit compote and mint leaves if you want to get fancy.

Or just eat them with a spoon straight from the ramekin.  But you won’t get to see the seductive wobble if you leave them in the ramekins 😉

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Or if you’re like me and mine and mostly give this day a miss, at least have a Happy Two-Desserts-in-One-Day Day!

Photo Credit: BBC Good Food Website, http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/elderflower-panna-cotta-strawberries-brown-butter-crumble


What’s For Dinner Feb 13-19

I’m feeling a bit under the weather at the moment so I’ve planned next week’s menu to be full of easy to prepare family friendly staple meals.  Although it may seem a bit counter-intuitive I believe roasts are some of the easiest meals to make.  Just season a cut of meat (or a whole bird) and toss it into the hot oven.  A pan of roasted veg that cooks along side the main roast makes the rest of the meal a breeze too!   The only drawback to the roast dinner concept is the time it takes to make.  However, since most of that time is passive rather than active for the cook it’s really just a matter of planning to start dinner prep at an appropriately early hour so that dinner is ready for the family at your usual time (i.e. if you plan to eat around 6pm you may need to start the roast about 4pm – which admittedly is not usually the time I’m beginning dinner preparations.) Continue reading What’s For Dinner Feb 13-19

What’s For Dinner? Feb 6-12, 2017

February 6 – 12, 2017

As we were sitting down to enjoy our Chicken, Butternut and Gnocchi Skillet Dinner last Monday, Lolly chimed in with an idea for dinner this week.  “You know Mom…I love tomato soup.  The really thick kind, not chunky.  Can we have that tonight?”  Totally oblivious to the bowl of steaming gnocchi goodness that had been placed before her.  As she was already reaching for her spoon even!  Yay, we’ve gotten to the selective vision stage.  Well, hopefully she won’t miss the thick (not chunky) tomato soup being served up on Monday.  Actually, I know she won’t miss it because I’m putting her to work making it!

Fact: Lolly’s favorite animal is the lamb.  She was preschool age when we lived in England.  Kevin’s “Typical Dad” answer to the question about “where do lambs come from?” was that the farmer planted Lamb Seeds.  Every spring (usually in March) we’d wait anxiously to see the pristine white lambs dotting the verdant green hillsides near our house in Oxfordshire.  And Lolly would exclaim in her best Peppa Pig voice, “Look Mummy, the lamby seeds have sprouted!”  It made for an interesting conversation with the teacher one afternoon when I picked her up from school.  I was laughing too hard and had to send Kevin in to straighten things out with the teacher.  Fitting really since it was he who started it! Continue reading What’s For Dinner? Feb 6-12, 2017

The Lay of the Land

Before I begin any discussions of my goals for the garden areas of the house I would like to take a moment to show everyone the lay of the land.

Our house is named Overhill – with good reason!  Not just because we’re huge Lord of the Rings fans (there was a Hobbit family called Underhill, and we thought it was fitting).  Our entire lot is a steep hillside!  In fact we have a 4′ high concrete retaining wall near the bottom of the garden that was installed by the builder to help create a “flat” section closer to the house.  It didn’t really work.  But we’re doing better than our neighboring house.  They have a 10′ retaining wall! Continue reading The Lay of the Land