Rest of Recipes

Okay, last post we covered a few drink recipes, and some links to seafood items and a cold salad option for those down under. Also we got salad dressings, how to do bacon in the oven and roasted veggies checked off the list. The other requests were “brunch” and “egg-free” brunch.

Here’s the links and options that I found.

Brunch with no eggs is a bit like a dinner with extra fruit and baked goods. Ham and bacon work well for the meats. If you really want to think “meat free” for brunch, then this menu from vegan chef Bryant Terry has a lot of flavor, but no eggs or meat.

I also did an egg-free search on epicurious for brunch items. Lots of biscuits and scones. Some good ones there.

If eggs are okay to be on the menu, a kind of light and unique brunch recipe I came up with is for a savory waffle with smoked salmon and salad greens and creme fraiche. You can make the waffles the day ahead, then reheat them in the toaster easily.

I think the one I have not gotten to work on yet was a bread pudding recipe. I’m kicking around a way to use a sweet bread like pumpkin or banana for the bread base, then make that into a pudding. But, time is running shorter, so look for the final version of that in January for a Valentine’s brunch item.

Happy holidays everyone!


How Can I Help?

I’m thinking I will work on some brunch recipes for Christmas. Don’t have to host a dinner for this holiday, which explains why I have a ton of Thanksgiving recipes and very few. But, what are you cooking for holidays? What kinds of recipes do you need most? I can either point to some sources, or even (time permitting) make a new recipe based on what you all need most.


American Girl … Stay Away from Me

Just this year my child has begun asking for specific Christmas gifts. Since we don’t watch television with commercials for toys or junk food, so far the requests are not brand specific. Until kindergarten. This year’s request is for a doll, an American Girl doll.

As I almost, clicked “Buy,” I thought, wait. What is she made out of? I did a quick check on’s Toy rankings. Lanie is made from PVC, known for its content of harmful phthalates. American Girl dolls were not always made in China from these materials, but Mattel changed the manufacturing methods and location when they bought the company.

I decided to see what other options are out there.

My first thought was, okay, at least its not Barbie. While Barbie now holds down many jobs — veterinarian, pediatrician, even once running for president — most of her wardrobe really looks like she works in the oldest profession. Age appropriate dolls are not such a bad request.
This year’s American Girl doll is Lanie, who learns about the environment and outdoors and even has her own (THREE HUNDRED DOLLAR) camper. We can go camping for that money, but Lanie seemed fairly harmless, if not very green. She would be a doll we could save for the next generation, I thought. And, at a price of nearly $100, well, we darn well better keep her in the family.

Turns out, Lanie, outdoor adventures and all, is not so environmentally-friendly or child-friendly. I’m more than a little disheartened, if not at all shocked. But, I refuse to support a company that pushes its brand so heavily with a museum and entire stores dedicated to the dolls, then won’t make them from safe materials. It’s not like the significant retail price requires cheap manufacturing.

Safer Alternatives to American Girl

Most similar to American Girl in style is a company called Karito Kids. The dolls are prettier, I think. They also have the story book and charm, accessories and online game similar to the American Girl brand.

According to their site, they manufacture the dolls from phthalate-free vinyl, they have an independent testing and certification company in Switzerland test the dolls regularly for adherence to safety standards. And, they manufacture the dolls to be safe for ages 3 and up even though the recommended age is 6. They also donate three percent of their profits to charity, and focus the book and theme of the dolls are different cultures. If I go with any vinyl doll, this one is likely it. They also have a soft fabric version of the dolls.

More Options

Pottery Barn Kids sells dolls similar to American Girl, but made by their original German manufacturer, Gotz. Given the different standards in Europe, these dolls are described as being made from phthalate-free PVC. Unlike the Karito dolls, the two offered through Pottery Barn Kids are not ethically diverse. You can find Gotz dolls for younger girls and more diversity from this retailer, which claims to sell only phthlate-free toys.

Kathe Kruse is a European manufacturer that even includes “organic toys” in addition to soft dolls and also manufactures “American Girl-style” dolls in phthalate-free PVC.

Finally, if you wish to avoid PVC altogether, Pottery Barn, Karito and Kathe Kruse all offer a soft cloth doll version. Cloth dolls are considered much safer than phthalate-free PVC. Here are some other options for cloth dolls.


School Lunch: Learning from the Past

Congress is making a decision on School Lunch legislation today. On the table is a plan that would remove competitive junk foods and fast foods from schools, and increase funding a bit. However that funding comes from taking away SNAP (food stamp) funds.

From Jamie Oliver’s School Food Revolution to my own battles over “Why Can’t I Eat What My Friends Do?” now that the kiddo is in public school, there is a whole lot out there on school lunch.

But how did we get here? Did you know school gardens a la Alice Waters were NORMAL in the 1900s before National School Lunch legislation in 1946?

That as early as the 1800s in France, there was a better system for keeping free lunch recipients anonymous to prevent social stigma — something many school programs DO NOT do today?

How did processed food get into schools anyway? And what are the worst of the worst issues with those lunches?

Did you know the National School Lunch program originally fostered a kind of Jim Crow barrier to minority kids attending schools? Or, that even in 1946 the national program was DESIGNED to be an outlet for “agricultural surplus” commodities in order to prop up food prices and was not purely designed to feed healthy meals to kids who need them?

Hate to hijack the conversation here, but these are LONG posts. So, here are some links and part of the text from the most recent.

School Lunch: The Next Big Challenge
Dark Tales from the School Lunch Room
History of School Lunch Part 1
History of School Lunch: Politics on the Plate


Crazy Running Injuries

It’s well past Easter, but I’m not sporting any open-toed shoes. Maybe because I don’t want to explain why only two of my toenails are red.

For those of you who have done a long run or two, you are probably nodding your head and thinking about your own “black toe” and other odd discomforts. If you are new to longer distances, well, read on for the bizarre details. I had forgotten a lot of this! Kind of like labor pains. But over vacation I tripled my mileage in a week since I had the time. Probably a big mistake … one I will be reminded of again and again as I work toward a small triathlon soon.

Curse of the Black Toe
Red under the toenail, or black toes, or even the loss of toenails is a pretty common problem for distance runners. Two sources of pressure are contributing here. The easy one to solve is if your toes are sliding forward or hitting the top of your shoes as you run. Get bigger shoes. Preferably fitted by someone who knows running.

The other pressure is from below. Basically, just pounding the pavement, and especially if you increase your mileage too quickly.

The pressure can be made worse if your socks and shoes are too tight, or if your feet are prone to swelling in the warmer months. Or, you have feet like a duck, like me. Narrow ankles and a wide forefoot may be perfect flippers, but are a real pain for finding running shoes that fit. I leave the top few lace holes undone to give my toes more wiggle room. Even with perfect shoes (and normal feet) black toes still just happen.

Here’s the Rub
When I ran my marathon, I was really grateful to see aid stations with Gatorade and water, as well as gels and bananas. What I did not expect to see was “aid” stations staffed by Army Reserve guys proffering large jars of Vaseline.

Turns out, this was not some kind of proposition for “alternate exercise” in the bushes, but the man was there to help me. After the race, I was walking like a duck on my duck feet since my “delicate” areas were chafed.

Anything that rubs as you run — whether its lycra or skin — will chafe, especially on long runs. You’re best bet for any area you would not expose in public is to lube up, and don’t forget about inner thighs, between the toes and the armpits.

If you do forget, you’ll sure remember once the hot shower hits. Ouch. Try borrowing a little ointment from the diaper-clad family members. You don’t have to admit it if you do. I did a short run today and still might be searching through the cabinet for an old supply …

Run for It
No, not the finish line. The port-o-potty. Up to a third of marathon runners will experience this condition commonly called “runners’ trots.” Being adequately hydrated and watching the foods you eat the day before and the day of a long run or race can help. Dairy, sugary foods and excess caffeine can also be a factor. Unfortunately, the one and only time I experienced this condition? Race day. For all those nice folks in Duluth who put out rolls of TP along the marathon course a few years back, you’re the best!

Hoping I never have this issue again no matter what mileage I get to. Ugh.

I Love You, But …
A good while back, I dated a hard core triathlete. Date after date and never more than a handshake. “Wow, what’s wrong with me?” I thought. He finally admitted, the long hours of training zapped his libido. I felt better, sort of.

Years later, during my own training, I had to laugh and relate to this all over again. My idea of a perfect date then became anyone with a half gallon of ice cream and a burning desire to just rub my feet. Black toes and all.

These days, long hours at work and parenting are enough to zap the drive! If you find yourself on the couch after a long run, bit of time on your hands, watch the movie “Run, Fatboy, Run.” Even if you don’t run, these tips might help you get some of the inside jokes.

So, now that I’ve bared all, chafed bits and everything, what’s your strangest minor injury from training?