Our girls are at an age where they really enjoy helping cook and prepare meals. It has been fun to discover new and delicious recipes, and teach our daughters the pleasure of creating meals from scratch. I am beyond excited thinking about this year’s vegetable garden (our most ambitious yet! Green Thumbs crossed!) and the meals that all that fresh food will inspire. Plus, we have a flock of 12 chicks arriving chez Cart in late April. Half will be added to our laying flock, the others we will process for meat around 10 weeks of age. There is no better way for us to ensure healthy meat than to raise it ourselves – so we’re going for it. We primarily eat a vegetarian diet, save for, at most, one meal a week. When we do purchase meat, we now buy it exclusively from local farms with locally grown and organically raised animals. We visit these farms and see firsthand the happy, healthy lives these animals lead before they make they’re way to our plate. Plus, visiting farm animals is always a great way to entertain the kids on a restless weekend.
Side story: In November, I visited Sunny’s preschool classroom to see the classroom turkey the children had constructed out of a colorful array of construction paper feathers. On the feathers, each kid was asked to describe their families’ Thanksgiving traditions. When asked where one gets a turkey for Thanksgiving, most children answered, “the grocery store.” Sunny answered, “the turkey farm.” Which is true, as we use a local farm that specifically raises an immense flock of turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner. The farmer processes the birds on the Monday before Thanksgiving, so we have one very fresh bird for our meal. When asked how one prepares a turkey for dinner, most children answered, “Mommy or Daddy cooks it in the oven.” Sunny answered, “You kill it, cut it up, and put it in the oven.” While mildly alarming to see the word “kill” on my 4-year olds art project, I am also incredibly pleased how clearly she understands from where her food comes.
We’ll see how interested she is in helping us process the chickens this summer. But as long as her beloved Dora (one of our original hens still in the flock) is safe, I think she’ll be cool with the plan.
And on that delightful note of poultry slaughter, let me offer up these recipes that we’ve made over the past week. They’re too good not to share, especially if you can find your appetite despite my stories above.
Kale Pesto with Walnuts (the easiest way to get Kale into my girls’ diet without complaint)
Kale Sausage Soup (we’ve been making this recipe for years, and it is a household favorite. Another great kale disguiser for the kids, and so comforting and filling during this (still) cold weather)
Quinoa Spinach Mac and Cheese (comfort food but with a healthy twist)
Spinach and Chickpeas (we eat a heck of a lot of chickpeas in our household – and there’s just something about this recipe – the fried bread is likely the something).
Broccoli Beignets with an insanely delicious remoulade (I’m a sucker for anything with capers)
Chewy Chocolate Cookies (we substituted a 1/4 c. of natural peanut butter (so used 1c butter, 1/4c pb) and cut the sugar by 1/3 using 2/3c white sugar, 2/3c brown sugar and didn’t use any chocolate chips. SO good)
Chocolate Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting (we made our own espresso powder like this)