Archive for the ‘Eat & Drink & Be Chinaberry’ Category

Family Talk Conversation Cards

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

I’ve used lots of conversation starter tools with children (and adults!), but these are my favorite. Maybe that’s why they’ve won more awards than I have room to list! Anything that gets families talking together these days deserves an award, don’t you think? Each of the durable conversation decks is attached to a cool carabineer clip, making them ultra portable. Whether you’re at the dinner table, in the car, or in a waiting room, just draw a card, read the question, and let the fun begin. Great for family get-togethers! I’ve used the Family Talk cards at the dinner table with kids from 5 to 55, and nobody wanted to leave the table! The deck includes 100 cards, and here’s a sample: ”If you could do any job in the world for one day, what would you choose and why?” (5+ yrs.)

#15365 - 100 3.5” x 2.25” cards
Our price $9.95

Cost Saving E-Cloth Microfiber Cloths Offer Best Green Household Cleaning

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Check out what Rebecca Lacko, writer at Examiner.com,  had to say about E-Cloths, available at our sister site, Isabella.

Where Will Armchair Travels Take You?

Friday, September 18th, 2009

For a recent birthday, my boys gave me a great book about entertaining. Beautiful pictures with ornate silver, hors d’oeuvres, garden parties — you know, just what I do every weekend in my spare time! And yet, I just love to read through these books —  and cookbooks too, even though I’m not much of a cook. In fact, for years, I’d go to bed with a cookbook and absolutely devour them. Even though I don’t entertain too often, I absolutely love to read books about fabulous meals set with gorgeous dishes and freshly ironed tablecloths and just drink in the luscious photographs.

Am I dreaming? Perhaps, but I think that’s what these stunning books do – they transport us to the south of France, or a beautifully set table, or an extraordinary garden. Although my travels have not taken me too far from home, I’ve always counted on my books to take me places in my mind. And perhaps when I step outside on my deck, or pull another weed (or twenty!), I’ll take some bit of inspiration from these books.

As the summer comes to an end, consider doing some armchair traveling of your own with a book filled with stunning photos that inspire you. Cuddle up with your children and turn the pages – you may be surprised to find they are ooing and aahing right along with you!

Incredible Earth, Eye-Opening Photos of Our Powerful Planet (pictured above), can be found here:
http://www.chinaberry.com/prod.cfm/pgc/11200/sbc/11202/inv/15369

For the Salad Days of Summer, a Couple of Our Favorites

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

Try out a couple of summer salad recipes from our Eat, Drink & Be Chinaberry cookbook (sorry, out-of-print).

SUMMER IN THE MEDITERRANEAN SALAD
This makes enough for an army of hungry eaters or for a few days of yummy salad eating.
-Patti Pitcher; Seattle, Washington

1 lb flaggolet beans (the small greenish Italian bean-very yummy)
3 giant tomatoes, diced
2 large cucumbers, peeled and diced
1 red pepper, diced
Small handful of each: basil, dill and oregano-mince
1-1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled (I use sheep feta-Valbreso)

Cook beans until deliciously tender. Add minced herbs, diced vegies and crumbled feta. Dress lightly with equal parts of:
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Add:
One clove garlic, minced (or more if you love garlic)
Salt and pepper to taste
Stir and eat.


CURRIED CHICKEN SALAD
A perfect choice for a cold buffet; not peppery.
-Joan Barasovska; New Orleans, Louisiana

1 chicken, cooked, meat diced
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1 cup chopped green grapes (seedless)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 T lemon juice
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp tumeric
Salt to taste
Chopped parsley to garnish

Cover chicken with water, bring to boil, skim foam, reduce heat, simmer one hour, remove from pot, cool, remove chicken from bones and skin, dice and place in large bowl.
Add celery, scallions, grapes.

Mix mayo, sour cream, lemon juice, curry, spices in a small bowl until smooth. Pour over salad, mix gently, refrigerate several hours.

Dad’s Awesome Grilling Book by Bob Sloan

Monday, June 8th, 2009

Techniques, Tips, Stories and More Than 100 Great Recipes

I’m hard-pressed to decide whether it’s the recipes or the humor that makes this book one that the Man-of-the-Family simply must have. Sloan’s wit will make any grill-fearing or even ”there’s nothing I don’t know about grills” guy want to hunker down in the easy chair and read the book cover to cover.

A must-have for any family prone to BBQ, Dad’s Awesome Grilling Book has recipes for appetizers, beef, pork, lamb, poultry, fish, burgers/dogs/brats, pizzas…the list goes on and on. Add to that its funny musings and really helpful technical info, and the book lacks for nothing. Get it for Dad.

Review by Ann Ruethling

From the author, Bob Sloan:
If you’re like me, then Father’s Day is a chance to make a request for someone in your household to provide you with your favorite food. For me, that would be some barbecue. If you’re also like me, you don’t trust anyone else to smoke the ribs or brisket but yourself. So what’s a dad to do? Well, here’s a solution that’s worked for me–have your wife and/or kids throw together these Barbecue Pork Burgers for lunch. They’re not true, pure, unequivocally absolute barbecue, but they allowed my family to feel as if they were making something special for me–Dad–on my Day of Days. The burgers, in fact, do have that essential barbecue flavor, which is a perfect fix to hold me over until dinner. That’s when the ribs I have coated with my special dry rub the night before will be coming off the grill. Hey, I know it’s supposed to be My Special Day and everyone is supposed to be taking care of me, but I just can’t help myself. Anyway, there is no greater gift than my family eating together–especially when we’re getting our hands messy in unison eating barbecue. For great smoked barbecue recipes, check out Dad’s Awesome Grill Book.


An exclusive recipe for Chinaberry Customers from Bob Sloan:

Barbecued Pork Burger

This burger captures the spirit of an authentic down-home pulled-pork barbecue sandwich. Let the sauce soak into the bun and eat it with a fork. It will definitely give you a heady barbecue rush.

  • Burgers
    • 1 1/2 pound ground pork
    • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
    • 3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
    • 2 tablespoons favorite bottled barbecue sauce
    • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
    • 1 tablespoon chili powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
    • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 hamburger buns

Place the ground pork in a medium bowl. Add all the ingredients except the oil and gently mix together until just combined. Shape the meat into 4 burgers about 3/4 inch thick and 4 inches across, handling as little as possible. Make a 1/4-inch dimple in the center of each burger about the size of a half-dollar about the size of a half-dollar with the tips of your middle 3 fingers.
Place a skillet, preferably cast-iron, over high heat, and let it get very hot, about 2 minutes. Add the oil and spread it evenly over the pan. Arrange the burgers so they aren’t touching and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Turn and cook 4 to 5 minutes more, or until the meat is no longer pink inside (160 F).
Serve in hamburger buns topped with additional barbecue sauce.
For charcoal grilled burgers, make a medium-hot fire (see note page 14). Cook the burgers for 5 minutes. Turn and cook 4 to 5 minutes more.
For gas grilled burgers, preheat on high until grill is very hot, about 500 F. Cook the burgers for 5 minutes with the lid closed. Turn and cook 4 to 5 minutes more, again with the lid closed.
Makes 4 burgers

Healthy and Whole Foods on a Budget

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009


When my children were young, my husband and I were on the verge of being “poor.” One of the ways we kept costs down was to avoid buying packaged and processed food. Now recognized as not the most nutrient-filled items to eat, packaged and processed food didn’t give a grocery-shopper much bang for her buck back then (or today). So I attempted to cook using as many whole foods as I could get my hands on.

Trust me, I didn’t spend my days in the kitchen! I’d make a pot of legumes to use over the course of several meals, or freeze; a larger-than-needed serving of rice so that I could add some to soups or serve for breakfast with fruit, yogurt, and maple syrup; as many fresh vegetables available at a given time of year to use every which way. It really wasn’t very complicated. My family ate well and without spending too much money on food.

I bring this up because I think adults tend to believe that kids need their food jazzed up in some way and several generations removed from its natural state in order to eat it. Maybe kids believe that, too. (Madison Avenue has surely had its way finagling us into thinking we absolutely need what they are selling.) But truly, children are born with unadulterated taste buds and the real flavors of real food suit them perfectly. An apple slice is a fine treat to most. Almond butter on a whole grain cracker is a pleasure to eat. Sparkling water with a touch of unsweetened apple juice is an infinitely better choice than a soda, and unless your child has already consumed sickeningly-sweet soft drinks and thinks that is the way liquids are supposed to taste, will suit her just fine. Truly, unless and until we get our children addicted to food that has “flavoring” on the label, or is packed with sugar, they are generally delighted with many foods that are real and unadulterated.

To this day, my own kids, now adults, appreciate a piece of fruit from the farmers’ market and a sandwich made with real whole wheat bread more than they do something out of box that you have to unwrap. And they know their way around the kitchen and how to use basic ingredients to create meals.

There are many things I wish I could go back in time and do differently as a parent, but feeding my children real food from the start is one thing I know I did right.

Feeding Your Green Baby

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

 

Feeding Your Green Baby

Feeding Your Green Baby

I found this article on the MomsMenu.com website. It was written by Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers from http://freshbaby.com.

If you are looking to reduce your carbon footprint making organic baby food is a great way to go. Consider the green facts:

Organic- Organic fruits and vegetables are the best choice for making baby food. They are the most natural ingredients and organic foods drastically reduce harm to the environment.

Less waste - When you make your own baby food, there are no jars, labels or metal lids to dispose or to recycle.

No factory required - Just a little energy to steam foods and run a blender is all you need to make your baby’s meals! Did someone say near “zero” greenhouse gases?

Local - Your baby’s food does not need to trucked to you from a factory thousands of miles away. Instead you can simply buy organic produce from your local farm market and get started.

Healthy - Homemade baby food is safe and nutritious. Baby food jars are often lined with bisphenol-A, a controversial hormone disruptor that should be avoided. In addition, homemade baby food has no preservatives, additives or chemicals - it is pure and natural goodness.

Homemade baby food and healthy meals in less than 30 minutes per week:

To prepare: Wash, peel and cut fresh fruits or vegetables, then stove-top steam or microwave in less than 10 minutes. Create a very smooth texture with a blender of food processor. Add a little water if needed to reach pudding-like texture. Pour into baby food storage trays, cover and freeze overnight. Pop cubes out and store in freezer in an air-tight container or freezer bag. Frozen baby food cubes last up to 2 months.

To Serve: Select frozen baby food cubes from the freezer place in a dish and thaw or warm. Stir food before serving and check the temperature. If you want to thicken something, use baby cereal, yogurt or mashed banana. For thinning, use breast milk/formula, 100% juice or low-sodium soup stock.

Making healthy Meals: You can mix different baby food cubes together to create tasty, healthy meals. You can also add yogurt, melted cheese, ground nuts, mashed pasta/rice to introduce new flavors and textures. Here are a few ideas:

  • Green peas and sweet potatoes
  • Butternut squash and mashed banana
  • Broccoli, cauliflower and melted cheese
  • Peaches, pears and oatmeal baby cereal
  • Black beans, corn and rice
  • Strawberries, apples, yogurt and ground pecans

The bottom line: Making baby food is a great gift to give the environment and your baby. Plus homemade baby food tastes great. Who knows? Your baby may even grow up to like the taste of Brussels sprouts and mangoes!

Apple Puree

6 medium golden delicious apples

Step 1: Prep - Wash, peel, core and cut apples into one-inch (3 cm) slices.

Step 2: Cook - Place apples in a microwave safe dish. Cover. Cook 5 minutes and let stand for 5 minutes. Cook an additional 5 minutes. The apples are done when they can be pierced easily with a fork.

Step 3: Puree - Place apples and cooking juices into a blender or a food processor. Puree to a smooth texture.

Step 4: Freeze - Spoon into So Easy Baby Food Trays or ice cube trays. Cover. Place in freezer eight to 10 hours or overnight. Remove cubes from trays, place in storage container or freezer bag, and return immediately to the freezer.

Makes 24 1-ounce servings. Stays fresh for two months in the freezer.

To serve, select frozen apple cubes from the freezer, defrost and warm, check the temperature and feed.

Age to introduce: About 6 months.

About the Authors:
Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers are sisters, the mothers of five children and founders of Fresh Baby (www.FreshBaby.com). They are the creators of the award-winning So Easy Baby Food Kit and Good Clean Fun Placemats.

Adventurous Eater Jumps Right In

Friday, April 10th, 2009

Adventurous Eater Ian

Adventurous Eater Ian

Last night I took my son out to dinner at an All-You-Can-Eat Chinese food buffet. Generally buffets like this are wasted on me because I just don’t eat enough food to justify the price. However, my 5-year-old Ian is a bottomless pit so buffets are right up his alley! As we perused all the food choices, I piled his plate with Lo Mein noodles, sweet and sour pork spare ribs, and crab wontons. One of the food trays caught my eye and I read the label out loud, “Frog legs.” “Frog legs?” said Ian, “Frog legs! I want frog legs!” Okay, onto the plate went one frog leg. Back at our booth, the frog leg was the first thing in his mouth and he proceeded to eat every little bit and requested more.

As someone who was an extremely particular eater as a child, having a son who will happily eat frog legs is oddly interesting. When I was three years old, I told my mom, “I know I don’t like it because I’ve never had it before.” In elementary school, I would actually turn down dinner invitations to friends’ houses because I was afraid they would serve something I wouldn’t like and then I would get that dreaded label…”picky.” Oh, how I hated that word! I wanted to like everything, to be able to eat whatever crossed my lips without the gag reflex kicking in, without worrying what I was going to eat at a big event, without fear of getting labeled a picky-eater. In my early twenties, I noticed a list tacked to the refrigerator of my boyfriend’s mom. She’d been writing down notes about what foods I didn’t like so that she wouldn’t cook them when I was there for dinner. The list was at least 3 pages long. I was so embarrassed that I became determined to try new things without prejudice, even foods that I’d tried as a kid and disliked. I discovered that there were quite a few things I’d been missing out on, foods that my adult taste buds liked and my childhood taste buds had previously rejected.

Back to Mr. Frog Legs, when Ian was born I was set on having him try foods without the pressure that I’d gotten as a child. I offered him a wide variety of flavors and textures, encouraged him to try new foods, but never pushed the issue if he turned it down. If he didn’t care for something, I’d offer it to him again on another day. I think I just lucked out with a child who is more adventurous than most because it’s obvious that he didn’t inherit his gourmet taste buds from me. When he offered me a bite of his frog leg at dinner last night, I refused with a polite “no thank you!”

Featured Chinaberry Employee - Karen Knight

Friday, March 27th, 2009


Janet: How long have you been working for Chinaberry?

Karen: I was first hired in April, 2000 to do payroll and some bookkeeping. When I was offered a job elsewhere in 2007, I took it, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that Chinaberry is the place for me. After two months, I returned to open arms. You just can’t leave a place like Chinaberry and be happy.

Janet: How would you describe what you do now?

Karen: I work in three departments: in Human Resources, my primary job is payroll; in the Website Department, I turn the ads on and off as inventory changes, copy ads to different websites, and keep an eye on other websites that have links to our website; and in Accounting, I do sales taxes and anything they need help with.

Janet: What has been your most memorable experience at Chinaberry?

Karen: One of the most memorable experiences was when Chinaberry was threatened by fire. Everyone immediately pulled together to get a rental truck loaded so we could keep the business running if the fire were to reach our building. No one had to ask anyone to help; everyone just pulled together and got busy. The next year the fire was even closer, and in the wee hours of the morning, employees who could get through to the building left their homes to come and make sure things were covered to keep smoke from the merchandise. Together, they stood at the back of the building as the fire approached, hoping it would not hop the roadway below.  No one called and asked anyone to come; they just showed up and got busy doing whatever they could to help. Some employees lost their homes and everything in them. Immediately, the Chinaberry family tried to find out what they could do to help.

I love how employees are quietly watched for their strengths and how management works together to find the perfect fit for employees. Every book and toy is read or tested by employees and their families to make sure it is a fit for Chinaberry kids. We have books you would never find in the mall bookstores.

Janet: What are your top two all-time favorite Chinaberry books?

Karen: Eat, Drink and Be Chinaberry is a cookbook I’ve given to all my children and friends. The recipes are simply wonderful, but more than that, you can find helpful hints like making your own diaper wipes. With five grandkids in and out of our home, we have used that one more than once. In this time of financial struggle for so many people, there are ways to save money and this is a great one. This cookbook is the favorite one in all our homes.  Also, James Herriot’s Treasury for Children is one that my grandchildren and I love to sit and read together.

Janet: What are your top two all-time favorite Chinaberry products?

Karen: The Marble Whacker is a game we really enjoy playing. It gets really noisy with the sound of the marbles clicking as you hit them, but the laughter is the greatest. Also, the Butter Bell Crock is sitting on my counter all the time and part of setting the table.

Janet: Want to share a little bit about your family and/or hobbies?

Karen: My husband and I have five children and five grandchildren with another on the way. We enjoy our Sunday family dinners, especially since all we have to provide is the house because they all do the cooking!

Watching the kids grow and mature and having the opportunity to play ball and go on family bike rides is the best, but never more fun than camping together. Of course our son-in-law claims he will never camp with us again because every time we’ve gone, we’ve run into a bear or two. The last time we went camping, it took us three hours to get to our campsite, but only 1-1/2 hours to load up and run back to the car after bears were headed toward our tents! We’re going camping locally in two weeks and hope to prove we don’t always have bears around. This time, we’ll be in mountain lion country! (We’ve never seen one there, but keep your fingers crossed!)

Hot and Delicious Soups

Friday, March 13th, 2009


With much of the country still within winter’s chilly grasp, it’s a great time of year for warm, comforting, and delicious soups. Enjoy!

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ITALIAN SAUSAGE AND PASTA SOUP
From Nancy Jacobson at Chinaberry

1 pound of Italian sausage
2 small carrots, chopped (about 6 oz.)
1 onion, chopped (about 6 oz.)
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1½ quarts of chicken broth (I use the Trader Joe’s organic)
1 14½ oz. can diced tomatoes
1 15 oz. can white beans (rinsed and drained)
½ tablespoon dried basil
1 cup dry pasta shells (or some kind of small shape)
2 quarts of fresh spinach leaves (about 6 oz.). I measure them by packing them into a quart measure
Parmesan cheese

  1. Squeeze the sausages from casings into a 4-6 quart pan over high heat and brown, stirring often, breaking the pieces apart until crumbly (8-10 minutes). Drain all but one tablespoon of fat.
  2. Add carrots, onion, and garlic; stir often until onion is limp, 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add broth, tomatoes (including juice), beans, and basil and bring to a boil.
  4. * Add pasta, reduce heart, and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until pasta is just tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in spinach and cook until just wilted, about 30 seconds.
  5. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

* Note: This is fine if you will be serving/eating it all at one sitting. I cook the pasta separately so that it’s not sitting in the leftover soup swelling up.

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WINTER SQUASH AND KALE SOUP
Janet Kelly’s (Chinaberry) wonderful vegetarian soup was adapted from a recipe in Today’s Health & Wellness magazine.

1 tsp canola oil
1 small onion, chopped; or 1/3 cup frozen chopped onion
1 small red bell paper, cored, seeded, and chopped (about ½ cup)
1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 14½-ounce can reduced-sodium diced tomatoes
2 cups peeled, seeded, and cubed kaboche, acorn, butternut, or blue Hubbard winter squash
1 cup reduced-sodium vegetable broth
2 Tbs reduced-fat peanut butter
4 kale leaves (about 6 ounces), stemmed and shredded
¼ tsp salt

  1. Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Swirl in the canola oil, then add the onion and bell pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened and aromatic, about 2 minutes.
  2. Stir in the cayenne, cook 5 seconds, then stir in the tomatoes, squash, broth, and peanut butter until the peanut butter dissolves. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the squash is soft, about 15 minutes, stirring once in a while.
  3. Stir in kale, cover again, and cook until kale is tender and squash falls apart to thicken the soup, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and spoon into bowls. Serve at once.

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