Category Archives: Tips & Tricks

Grow Winter Salad Greens: Build A Simple 4 X 4 Raised Garden

4-x-4-gardenby donR September 25. 2006

It may not be too late to start a family garden- the 4 X 4 way.  it’s easy to put together, care for, and makes for a great family project. Read more about how to build the garden  plus two links to helpful growers’ websites:

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5 X 3 $10 Meals Part 2; Using Pork, Biscuit Mix, & Beet Greens

The biscuits on pot pies can be made with a master biscuit mix

The biscuits on pot pies can be made with a master biscuit mix. see video

by donR   September 12, 2016

“5 X 3 meals” means that your family can have a Cook-In to prepare 5 different foods for use in 3 dinners. You could easily assemble more but for now let’s keep it simple and use the time to play with the kids.

Our last post used pork loin roasts for several entrees. But this saves little time because you still need to prepare future meals separately. Instead, how about cooking 5 ingredients on one day with family or friends and use those for 3 or more future meals? Here is one example to give you an idea for a Cook-In.

  • Roast the pork and place in convenient packages for your first ingredient.
  • Combine 10C flour, oil, baking powder and soda, plus salt to make a biscuit master mix. You can make the biscuits ahead of time or bake them later as for pork sliders, pot pie, fruit tarts or strawberry shortcake.
  • Roasted beets can be eaten as-is or in salads. See Epicurious recipe.

    Roasted beets can be eaten as-is or in salads. See Epicurious recipe.

    Harvest 4 lbs beets with beet greens. Wash and cut greens from red beets. Cut beets, potatoes, onions and other veggies to be ready for roasting in oil and garlic butter.

  • Cook 2 lbs penne whole wheat noodles in boiling water until al dente. Rinse and divide for use in two meals: IE; 1. Penne salad with chopped celery, nuts, tomatoes and dressing. Chill before serving. 2; Penne Lasagna: Layer noodles with low fat cottage cheese, beet greens, tomato sauce, and pulled pork. Sprinkle with Parmesan and bake or freeze for later meals.
  • Wash chop, slice and dice the beet greens and your favorite veggies and leafy greens. Place a damp paper towel on the bottom of several plastic or glass containers. Fill each container with salad greens, cover and refrigerate for up  to 5 days. Add nuts, seeds, pickled beets, cheese or diced pork and dressing just before serving.

Note: If your family follows the “Choose My Plate ” recommendations, simply add dairy, water  and fruit for a balanced meal.  Once your family gets accustomed to planning and cooking together they will look forward to these memorable gatherings.

 

 

 

The Family Cook-In Part 5: How To Carry On A Meaningful Conversation

Families use good listening skills and add to the conversation

Families use good listening skills and add to the conversation

by donR    March 6th 2016

The Family Dinner Project website has “tons of conversation starters” appropriate for any age level and on a variety of topics. These prompts can be written on cards and shared during the family dinner. This is just one of their many strategies  for promoting thoughtful conversation and this is the easy part. Yes, I repeat: “Starting a conversation is easy” …compared to “Carrying On A Meaningful Conversation.” Read more about how to keep a conversation going. Continue reading

The Family Cook-In Part 4: Having Fun With Games & Challenges

Kids young and old love mentally challenging games.

Kids young and old love mentally challenging games.

Playing games is one way to have fun. Creative elementary school teachers use them to fill in time or give kids a break from the regular routine. They are equally useful on long trips in the car and at the family dinner table while food finishes cooking. Visit The Family Dinner Project website and download game ideas categorized  by age levels.

Another way to have fun is to challenge your family with riddles, mental tasks and  interesting puzzles. Here are three types of challenges I used while teaching at all levels:

Riddles:  Browse the internet to find interesting scenarios like the

Man In Apartment 5C”

“On rainy days a man grabs his umbrella and hat, leaves his fifth-floor apartment at 7:30 AM, rides the elevator to the first floor lobby and walks to work. He returns at 5:00 PM, rides the elevator to the fifth floor and retires to his room.

However, on sunny days he grabs his sunglasses, leaves his fifth-floor apartment at 7:30 AM, rides the elevator to the first floor lobby and walks to work. He returns at 5:00 PM, rides the elevator to the third floor, takes the stairs to the fifth floor and retires to his room.

Challenge: What does the man look like?.

Procedure: One family member can keep asking questions until getting a “no” answer. Then it’s the next member’s turn and so on until they solve the challenge. (The answer is somewhere on page.)

Riddles: ” How far can a puppy walk into the woods?” or

“What do they call a home for several puppies?”

Puzzles: 

  1. Find an interesting photo and  cut it into six pieces with the most interesting part completely on one of the 6 pieces.
  2. Number each 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 and save 6 for the interesting piece.
  3. Place each piece in separate numbered envelopes.
  4. Procedure. Place part #1 on table and ask your family: “What is the whole picture about?”
  5. Put #2 with #1. Now what’s the big idea?
  6. Place #3 on the table and so on.

d and d gameHere is the whole picture and you “Now know the rest of the story.”

answers: Man: He’s very short. (needs the umbrella to reach the 5th floor button)

Puppies:  A)   an apupment or pup tent

B: half way  when the middle is reached the puppy is walking “out” of the woods,

Note: It’s often  more fun to encourage any answer for a week or two to prolong the discussion and find better answers.

 

 

The Family Cook-In: 25 Tips For Quick Meals

Slicing & dicing is fun but food procesor saves time while bagged produce saves $. It's your choice

Slicing & dicing is fun but a food processor saves time while bagged produce saves $. It’s your choice

by donR March 2nd 2016

Preparing the meal during a Family Cook-In is fun. However it is just one of several activities planned for the gathering. Prep and cooking needs to unfold in a short amount of time to allow for lots of game activities and meaningful conversations.

There are ways to assemble a nutritious meal without resorting to highly processed foods like Uncle Ben’s Instant Rice or Jello Instant pie filling. Here are 25 ways to cut prep and cooking time: Continue reading

The Family Cook-In Part 3: Food.

Freshly steamed veggies and chilled fruit are favorites with most children.

Freshly steamed veggies and chilled fruit are children favorites.

by donR February 29, 2016

Okay, you’ve set goals and the agenda for your “Family Cook-In, aka Family Meal Series.” Now it’s decision time as you plan the food menu, a fun game, and age-appropriate conversation starters. Let’s start with a simple food menu and save games and conversation for another day. Choosing the right food for a Cook-In can be difficult but here are a few tips to make meal planing easier. Continue reading

The Family Dinner Table: Fill It With Love

Bring "Love" to the dinner table every day.

Bring “Love” to the dinner table every day.

by donR  February 15, 2016

Valentine’s Day is over. Well, it’s over for Hallmark as they prepare their shelves for St. Patrick’s Day and Easter. But that doesn’t mean the “Spirit of Loving” cannot be expressed every day as we go on with our lives. Wouldn’t it be easy to reflect upon the goodness and love that each member brings to a family meal? Here are some possible rituals that could be incorporated into your family meal, game or conversation. Continue reading

Family Cook-In: Kick-Off Preschool Luncheon

Pre-schoolers made stuffed baked apples while Don & Nicole shared ideas with parents.

Preschoolers decorated tables & made stuffed baked apples while Don & Nicole shared ideas with parents.

by donR  February 14, 2016

Six families from the Loving Tree School gathered for “Food Fun and Meaningful Conversation” around the UCF dinner tables in Ferndale Washington.  This event was our first “Community Dinner” (aka locally as “Family Cook-Ins”) and was designed using  The Family Dinner Project  core ideas. Over the next five days we will share how the FDP Organizers Toolkit helped us plan the “Family Cook-In” and make it such a fun-filled experience for everyone.

Part one: The Goal: Continue reading

Kids Holiday Gift: 8-Page Mini-Cookbook From 1 Sheet of Paper

A 6-page mini-cookbook is a great kids gift project.

An 8-page mini-cookbook is a great kids gift project.

by  donR

Holiday gifts made by children are always fun to receive, especially when we see how proud they are about their creation.

In keeping with the holiday spirit of  giving, I am posting 5 days of gifts children can make for the kitchen. The good news is they keep on giving because they will be used again and again. Our first gift is the 8-page mini- cookbook: Continue reading

Let’s Talk Turkey: Parts 1-5 Revisited

by donR November 23, 2015

5 Tips & Tricks for better turkeys

5 Tips & Tricks for better turkeys

Two years ago we wrote a series of articles about choosing, preparing, and serving a turkey for budge-friendly holiday meals. We went on  to suggest safe  ways to use turkey and side dishes for several planned-over meals. Since that time we’ve picked up 5 more tips and tricks we want to share with you as well as review the 5-part series Continue reading