Memories and healthy recipes for your dinner table.

Month: April 2010

Cilantro Lime Chicken

I found this really great Cilantro Lime Chicken recipe in the Eating Healthy section of Woman’s Day magazine. Normally I glimpse over the section and toss because they rarely have any recipes, that although I might enjoy them, I feel my kids would not eat […]

Grilled Vegetables with Pasta and Sausage

Grilled vegetables with pasta is one of my favorite ways to use up vegetables and left over meat. Except in winter when they all go in a pot for soup. This dish is a throw back to my days in college. It is cheap, quick, […]

Setting a Table and Dinning Etiquette

place-setting-guide

If we want to have an enjoyable and civilized dining experience with our kids we have to take the time to teach them. That means eating together as a family and practicing good habits at home. Etiquette is defined as the rules for socially acceptable behavior. Bad table manners are a form of disrespect. If you want to make a great first impression on a first date, land a job interview or be ready for Thanksgiving at Aunt Bertha’s practice makes perfect.

Consider dinnertime as an intimate social event. You are not only there to eat but to enjoy each other’s company. Etiquette helps us know what is expected of us and what we can expect from others. It is like a coordinated dance from the placement of the dinnerware to the movements of the dinner guests. Knowing and understanding table manners (the dance steps) allows everyone to enjoy the meal and avoid embarrassment.

Younger children require constant reminders. Over time if we stick to it they will surprise us. Avoid saying “do not do that” and never scold them when they slip up. Small children lack the coordination therefore; meals are going to be messy. Making negative comments or yelling at them only embarrasses them and encourages them to misbehave. Instead use positive reinforcement to explain what they should be doing and why. When a glass of water is unintentionally spilled quietly help them clean it up. The same rule applies when adults tip a glass. We would use our napkin to calmly and quickly stop the spill from running over to the persons next to us. Withholding our agitation at the mess teaches them by example how to handle the situation properly. Should a child want to purposely cause mayhem remind them of the rules; food belongs on the plate not on the floor. If they insist on making a mess they can eat dinner alone in the other room or take their meal away.

It is important to explain to children and teenagers precisely why we have rules of etiquette at the dinner table.
–Always wash your hands before eating.
— We wait until everyone is served or the hostess says to start eating because that is the polite thing to do. It is rude to eat in front of someone especially when we are a guest in someone’s home.
— Always place a napkin in your lap so that food lands in the napkin and not on the floor. You also do not want your napkin to invade your neighbor’s eating space.
— We don’t put our elbows on the table, because it crowds others and you could knock something over.
— We don’t burp out loud, because it is unpleasant and offensive to those around you.
— Chew with your mouth closed because no one wants to see your chewed food, it is gross.
— Take small bites because you could choke.
— Ask brother to pass the peas. Reaching for things far away on the table could knock something over.
— Always say please and thank you to show gratitude.

For everything you ever wanted to know about dinning etiquette visit EtiquetteScholar.com. The following videos will cover setting an informal dinner table and touch on a a few basic principles of etiquette.

Warm Spinach Salad with Ginger-Soy Vinaigrette

I am amazed that so many recipes have withstood the test of time. Take roasted chicken, green beans and mashed potatoes. A traditional dinner menu that has not evolved much over time. Add a few herbs to the chicken, a little garlic to the beans […]

Cilantro

The Coriander plant originated in 5,000 BC Greece, where it was first cultivated and used as a spice to flavor meats and breads. Its popularity grew throughout the Asian, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions as its medical and culinary properties began to gain appeal.  By […]

A love of the Earth

mother-earth

Photo By: Unknown

It was a beautiful clear day in Southern Florida. The date January 28th 1986. I was in fifth grade at the time and a member of the Jr. Science Academy. I joined the club with the promise that one day I would be the one looking out the window back at earth. I doubt anyone was more excited than our Science teacher as we stood on the lawn with our faces to the sky. We watched as the speck of light ascended upward our teacher radiant with anticipation for this monumental occasion. The mood changed from delight to horror in what seemed like an instant. I heard the words “Oh no” muttered and turned to see tears blinding my teachers eyes. I like many of the other students were confused. These were not tears of joy. Something was amiss. With eyes turned upward we gathered together as our teacher pointed out the scene before us. The boosters ejected but the brilliant star in the cloud of smoke dropping from the crystal blue heavens was not normal. The Challenger Space Shuttle had exploded.

The months following the Challenger disaster brought clarity and closure. Extensive investigations revealed the failure of an O-ring on one of the boosters that allowed gas to leak out upon take off. Fingers were pointed and the blame passed from department to department and person to person  until the country moved on and forgot. Cities, schools and clubs did their best to honor those fallen through memorials. Our group of Jr. Scientist banned together with our fearless leader to ensure that no one would forget the crew on board the Space Shuttle Challenger that frightful day. The press was called. The dignitaries invited. The school witnessed as we each stood around a young newly planted tree and dedicated it in the memory of Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis and Judith Renick. In

In 1993 I took a summer job with the City of Parks and Recreation Department in West Palm Beach teaching art and drama at different summer camps throughout the county. My last week of summer camp took me to the Christa McAuliffe Middle school in Lake Worth Florida. Being there reminded me of that day we placed plaques for each member of the Challenger team around the base of young tree. Last I knew the tree was torn down by a hurricane but the vegetable and herb garden at the middle school was vibrant and thriving.

Earth Day and Arbor Day reside in the month of April. It is only fitting as Basho told Annie and Jack in The Dragon of Red Dawn, “After something is destroyed by fire, a good new thing often takes its place…just as after the bleakest winter, beautiful flowers return with the spring.” When I think of Earth Day I am reminded of all the bounties Mother Earth gives us. The towering trees for shelter and shade. A babbling brook for respite and thirst. Flowers for beauty. Clouds for the rain that cleanses the dusty fields. It is our job as caretakers of this world to minister to the land. We each are charged with the task of keeping the grounds clean and beautifying the planet. The thing that moved me most about the memorials for the Challenger astronauts was the thoughtfulness of planting a tree and garden. It was not just an hour of band music and crafted speeches that die off with the close of the ceremony. I believe these seven men and women cared deeply for the earth and the galactic space around it. What better way to pay tribute than to plant a life that in return can help sustain us.

Caring for the earth should be an everyday mission. On April 22 the world will come together to celebrate our amazing planet. Many will join with local groups and organizations to plant, clean and educate. Here are just a few ideas to teach your family and friends about caring for our home and to usher in the glorious spring.

Trash Duty: Clean up the trash around the neighborhood, school, park, beach and highways. It is important to keep our beaches clean. Trash can be deadly to the native animals that live near and in the water. In addition to picking up trash along the shoreline we can plant grass and plants that aid in the building up of the dunes to deter erosion.

Graffiti Patrol: In the city where we used to live there was a graffiti task force that went out every morning at the crack of dawn looking for tags to clean up. Where we live now the city is not so concerned about vandalism. If your town does not have a system in place local volunteers can work together to keep the signs and fences free of graffiti.

Green Thumb: Plant a garden, trees, flowers or herbs. Use egg cartons as pots to start seeds. Learn how to compost. Composting is a way to recycle kitchen scraps and and yard waste. When done properly compost becomes a healthy chemical free fertilizer.

Earth Friendly: Switch to earth friendly cleaners such as the Shaklee brand of chemical free products. Spruce up the home with energy efficient light bulbs and appliances. Always ask if antibiotics are necessary. Dispose of harmful chemicals, batteries, cell phones, appliances and paint at designated depositories.

Conservation: Use less water by turning the water while brushing your teeth and taking shorter hot showers. Monitor the sprinkler system to avoid over watering the lawn. Start the dish washer when there is a full load. Adjust the washing machine to the size of the load. Quickly change loads as soon as the dryer stops. The dryer will not have to work as hard to heat back up again. Turn off the lights when leaving a room that is not occupied and unplug appliances when not in use.  Change out air filters. Make repairs to leaky faucets and toilets. Carpool, take the bus or ride a bike.

Declutter: Vow to live within your means. Buying less unnecessary items equals less stuff in the land fill. Sell, donate or freecycle unwanted items.

Recycle: If you do not have a recycling service help implement one or take your recyclables to a local school that has a recycling program. The money they earn goes right back into the school for programs and supplies.

Recycled art: Milk jug bird houses, pine cone bird feeders, paper necklaces, cardboard doll house, Egg cartons space ships, kids clothing and tote bags from t-shirts. Family Fun, Kaboose,

Ways to Celebrate: Enjoy a hike or picnic. Relax, connect with nature and enjoy the little things around you. Host an Earth Day Party. Have booths set up to teach your guests how to compost, seasonal cooking, plant a garden and recycle clothing and toys into something else.

Classic Carrot Cake with Variables

Carrots were used in Europe as an inexpensive sweetener in cakes and puddings dating far back as the Middle Ages. It is no surprise baked goods sweetened and flavored with vegetables and fruits remain a favorite commodity. The Classic Carrot Cake arrived in America in […]

The Science of Baking Cakes

It is said that baking is not only an art but more importantly it is a science. First let’s take a look at the science of baking a cake for each main ingredient in a recipe serves an important purpose. The basic carrot cake recipes […]

Add the Final Touch to the Dinner Table

Dinnertable Flare

In many a household dinner has become a rush of events. From mine own experience with little ones crying from hunger, the baby begging to be held and the chaos that ensues now that mom is not looking can dampen any attempt for a peaceful family dinner. In a rush to console the masses plates, cups, silverware and napkins are piled on the table followed by a weary call to come to dinner.

Make dinnertime special by adding a little flare to the table.

– Use fun tablecloths to add color.

– Arrange a small bouquet of flowers for a centerpiece.

– Move dinner outside on a blanket or enlist a couple helpers to carry the table outdoors.

– Pull out the cloth napkins.

– Put away the plastic kid-proof plates once in a while.

Moroccan Tajine Chicken & Lentils

Morocco is located at the northern tip of East Africa spanning from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea to the Sahara desert. Morocco is largely mountainous with a great expanse of coastal plains and desert. It is noted that Morocco has the the most […]