Thursday, June 18, 2009

Seasons Change

I have absolutely loved being a part of Citrus this past year and a half. But, admittedly, it is becoming too much for me right now. I did not know that life could become this busy :), but it has. It is becoming more and more difficult for me to find a minute here or there to write up a post (let alone check my email!:), as you have probably noted from the lack of consistent posts lately.
I am not alone in my time scarcity issues. My good friends who have joined me at Citrus are experiencing welcoming new babies, preparing for major moves, and making major life changes. It is time for us all to take a break, and focus closely on priority number one: our families.

I want to thank my friends Holly, Dinah, Rachel, and Sherie (my sister!) for their contributions to Citrus. I have always looked forward to your book reviews, recipies, product reviews, and project ideas. I have learned so much from you all. Thank you!!

So, now it is time to focus more on these guys:

Who wouldn't want to spend more time with these lovelies?

I will keep Citrus up for you to reference back to, if needed. Also, feel free to leave Citrus in your Google Reader. If any of us decide that the time is right to start up a new project/blog we will let you know here. Who knows, maybe Citrus will be reborn at some later date.

Thank you for reading!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Read it: Pssst!

by Adam Rex

New in 2008
This book was quite unexpected. The art is very different, but I love it (Recognize it from another of his books: Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich?)! There are so many things to look at on each page as a girl makes a trip through the zoo. As she approaches each cage, she is asked by each of the animals to bring them back an item. My little guy couldn't stop laughing when a sloth fell out of a tree onto his head (after the girl asked him why he wanted a bike helmet).
As for me, I can't stop laughing every time I hear my little 4 year old boy use the phrase, "Psst!" now when he wants to get someone's attention on the sly.

Enjoy the artwork and the story that "comes together" in the end.

image via

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sweets when you are on a Sugar Fast

Sugar controls me. I crave it after every meal and I can never stop at one bite or even one serving. So I decided it was time to go on a sugar fast. I have still been eating fruit and peanut butter (that is my next hurdle haha) and other things that may have a bit of sugar. But overall, for two weeks we have been doing no treats, no artificial sugars, desserts or afternoon Puppy Chow binges (Jack and I could make a batch in record time). I was so proud that I only had a taste of those pancakes from last week. The boys had syrup and pancakes, I had an egg.

So this evening I looked at my browning bananas and thought about how Banana Pudding sounded nice. I googled low sugar recipes, low fat recipes etc.. I decided it wasn't worth the sugar or the run to the store for pudding, wafers, whipping cream etc.. But I did attempt my own low-sugar "Banana Pudding". My husband I think was expecting something closer to the real thing and thought whipping cream or cool whip was a must "Otherwise its just mashed up bananas" But to me I thought it was a great low-sugar, whole food, alternative to the fake pudding and cookies.

Here is the idea:

3 Bananas
1 cup yogurt (mine was plain but I bet vanilla would be best)
1 cup milk

Blend in the blender

2 packets of Knox gelatin
1 cup hot, hot water

Whisk quickly to dissolve gelatin. Then pour in the blender and blend with the banana mix.

Pour into serving bowls, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for an hour or two until it jiggles a bit.

Meanwhile, take about 3 cups of some semi- sweet variety of cereal (Mine was Special K Almonds) and crush finely. Top the "puddings" with crushed cereal.

If you have whipping cream you can serve it with some sweetened whipping cream.

The gelatin will make it like a pudding- but don't worry its not like Jell-o.

I think the idea could work with a bunch of different fruits. Can you think of a good combination?

Here is what else I have been doing with those bananas, sweet, dairy free, protien and omega packed:

1 banana
1 cup frozen berries
3/4 cup oj
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup soaked flaxseed (soak the flaxseed in some water for a couple hours to help release the nutrients)
2 scoops protein powder

Blend and enjoy!

OKAY now for those of you that can control yourselves or you just don't care or you just are so naturally slim it doesn't matter, check out these recipes. Someday I will make and partake:

Jimmy Carter Cake
- chocolatey, peanuty, creamy pudding yum!

Homemade Girl Scout Cookies- Samoas, Thin Mints, Peanut Butter Patties!

Lemon Meringue Pie- Tart!

Chocolate Fudge- Okay drooooool!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Read It: Guess What I Found in Dragon Wood

by Timothy Knapman
illustrated by Gwen Millward

I don't want to tell you much about this book, except that you'll read the first couple of pages, then go back and read the first page again.  I love books that aren't what you expect.  I think school-aged kids will really get a kick out of this one (especially when they "get it" all by themselves.)

image via

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Illustory Pt.2

We received our published Illustory books in the mail the other day- just in time for Father's Day! The girls are quite proud of their work, and love seeing it all bound up and looking "professional."

I think we have read these books 100 times since the package was opened. The girls are giddy with excitement.

Now we just have to keep it a secret until the big day. If we succeed, this may be the longest kept Father's Day present secret to date.
For more information on Illustory, go here.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Best Buttermilk Pancakes

I am not so good at making them pretty, but these babies 3/4 inch thick and light and fluffy.

I have never really thought much about pancakes. I know I don't like them to be dense or soggy, or to taste like too much baking soda (ie IHOP pancakes). With those requirements alone you would think I would have put some thought into what makes a pancake just right, right?

Well, I didn't have to. I opened up my latest issue of Cook's Illustrated and a test cook basically experimented and went back and forth trying to make the "Perfect Pancake". After reading the "experiment" I realized I had no idea the intricate dance each ingredient plays in making a pancake.

Buttermilk gives a unique taste that makes regular pancakes boring (and tasting like too much baking soda). But the acid in the buttermilk causes the baking soda to rise too rapidly which leads to deflated pancakes that are dense and soggy. Too much butter milk and you basically have two crusts mashed together with no light and fluffy insides. Lower the baking soda content and your pancakes are bland and pale. Lower the buttermilk and you don't have enough of that good flavor. So after a few tests the experimenting found a secret ingredient- sour cream!

Then I learned that the more you stir the more gluten forms in the batter and gluten makes baked goods tough. So to make the ultimately light and fluffy pancakes, whisk briefly (yep, its okay to have a few lumps) and then let the batter sit for 10 minutes so the gluten can relax.

After making these pancakes. I must agree, they are perfect. Now my next step is to work on making my pancakes "Look" perfect. My burners heat a little uneven and I am not good at pouring perfect circles. Oh well, my toddler and my husband eat em right up before they can even notice those details.

Best Buttermilk Pancakes
Marcus Walser

This recipe was tested using a lower protein flour like Gold Medal or Pillsbury. If using a higher protein flour like Kin Arthur, use an extra two Tbsp of buttermilk.

On an electric griddle, cook at 350 degrees.

Recipe says it makes 16 four inch pancakes. But mine must have been a little bit bigger since I only had about 10 and my toddler ate about 6 of them. So double up!

2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
3 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled slightly
1-2 tsp vegetable oil

Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In a second bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, sour cream and melted butter. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the well. Gently stir until just combined and do not worry about lumps. Let sit for 10 minutes

Meanwhile, add 1 Tbsp oil to the griddle or skillet and heat over medium heat. After a few minutes, wipe the oil out with a paper towel so just a thin film remains. Repeat after you have used half the batter for pancakes.

Test one very small pancake on your griddle to get an idea of how long a side needs to cook and if the temperature needs to be turned up or down.

Then, pour batter from a measuring cup into 4 inch circles on the griddle and cook about 2 minutes or until the sides begin to look cooked the bubbles about the size of a pencil eraser in the middle of each pancake are just beginning to break.

Serve with cut fruit, pureed berries, syrup, preserves, whipped cream, chopped pecans or caramelized apples Yum!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Read It: Good Night, Gorilla

by Peggy Rathmann

The zookeeper says goodnight to gorilla, who silently slips the keys off the zookeeper's belt.  As the zookeeper says goodnight to all the animals, gorilla walks behind him, quietly opening the cages as he goes.  All the animals follow the zookeeper home where his wife is already asleep...

This is one of those books you can't imagine anyone would dislike.  But, with an average of 5 stars (as I suspected), out of 184 reviews on Amazon, three people gave it one star.  One of them reasoned that they didn't like seeing the animals in cages (seriously?), others that there wasn't much to the written story.  It's true, the writing is very simple, but the story that's being told goes beyond what is being said.  I would be very disappointed if every book spelled out exactly what is happening in the story.  And when I see my pre-reader proudly "reading" the book, I'm not complaining one bit. 

I highly recommend buying the boardbook version of this story.  It will be well used (especially if there happens to be a little "Goodnight Gorilla" in your family).

image via