True Food’s “The Natural” Ginger Soda

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True Food Kitchen Website

One of my favorite places to eat here in the Phoenix area is True Food Kitchen.  They embody my three favorite things in a restaurant – healthy, delicious and relaxing.  Sitting out on the wrap-around porch, sipping “The Natural” and enjoying light fare puts me in a perpetual summer mood, whether it’s August or February.  You know, that feeling of being on vacation with only thoughts of “I have no place to be, I may as well stay here and have another”.

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True Food Kitchen Website

Well, you can only imagine my excitement when I found I could bring a little piece of that bliss home with me.  No, not the wrap-around porch, although that would be my preference.  I’m referring to their delicious ginger soda drink called “The Natural”.  It’s refreshing, yummy and easy to make.  I found the recipe on the Phoenix New Times website after a quick Google search and I was very pleased with the outcome.  I make it one glass at a time instead of by the pitcher since the Club Soda will lose its fizz quickly – just a word of caution.  If you like ginger, this drink is for you!

INGREDIENTS:

Syrup
½ cup Agave Nectar
1 (3-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finally chopped
1 cup Sparkling Water

Ginger Soda (pitcher)
½ Cup Ginger Syrup
3 Cups Sparkling Water
Ice Cubs

DIRECTIONS:

1. To make the syrup first peel the ginger
2. Next grate the ginger on a cheese grater
3. Measure out the Agave nectar (1/2 cup)
4. Measure out the Sparkling Water (1 cup)​
5. Place the agave nectar, ginger, and sparkling water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook until your house fills with a strong smell of ginger, about 1 hour. Let cool. ​
6. NOTE: you can refrigerate this mixture for up to 1 week​
7. To make the soda: By the pitcher, combine ½ cup syrup with the soda water. By the glass, combine 2 teaspoons of the syrup with soda water​
8. Pour over ice and serve cold

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Lessons from D

Lessons.  New lessons, old lessons, lessons that bear repeating.  Lessons that come from my nearly 4 year old daughter.  I think these are the lessons I love the most.  Those that come without judgment or purpose; those that come from just living and observing.  Just this past week alone, I’ve put into practice two lessons that I learned from watching my daughter:

D running in grass

Take off your shoes and run barefoot through the grass.
We are lucky (and invested) desert-dwellers who have nice soft grass in our backyard.  D has repeatedly walked through the door after school this week, taken off her shoes and socks and run free-willing around the yard yelling, “wahoo!”  The other day she said, “mommy, take off your shoes and run in the backyard with me.”  How can I pass that up after a day inside in heels?  What a simple, yet relaxing way to start off the evening!  We ran around for about 5 minutes waving our arms and being goofy.  It was the best 5 minutes of my day.

Look forward to the simple things.
D is a child who likes to know what to expect.  In the morning during breakfast, we usually talk about what we’re going to do after school.  I’m always so delighted to see her excitement when I pick her up and she asks, “can we go to the park now?” or “are we going to the library?”, after having been to both a zillion times.  Last night, T and D had a rare night at home without mama and it was planned that they would go to McDonald’s for dinner.  The minute she walked in the door at school, she told all her teachers and friends about her plans and how excited she was to have chicken nuggets (it’s a rare treat, indeed).  She had a great day filled with anticipation.  I loved that about being a child – getting excited over the little things.  My little thing now?  I get to come home and spend time in my child’s world for a while.  A world that’s simple and very present.

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A Trip to the Mall

DSC01570Remember the Chore Chart we created back in September?  Well, I’m proud to say that household chores have become a regular routine now for one 3.5 year old.  Tahoe’s food bowl is overflowing most of the time, and the table gets set with utensils and napkins on a regular basis – ok, sometimes I have to ask twice, but it gets done.

Let me reiterate how great the Chore Chart is when you’re introducing household responsibilities to your children.  We used it for a few weeks and it quickly became routine.  The stickers were the initial motivator, followed by the allowance at the end of the week and, ultimately, the trip to buy a gift with our savings.

We had been to the Disney Store a couple times to check out the inventory so D could understand how much she needed to save for her favorite item.  When we saved up $12.00, we went back and she darted right for the princess dolls and chose Belle – her yellow dress is beautiful, after all.  With our bag of money, we picked a patient cashier to count out all the quarters so D could see and understand her money being spent.  And, with change still in our pocket and Belle clenched tight to our chest, we left the store very proud of our accomplishments.

That night, D and Rapunzel introduced Belle to all her stuffy friends and Belle had a birthday party.  She’s been the constant companion of the week

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Happy Valentine’s Day

Poor D has been sick most of this week, fighting a terrible cold and cough and, ultimately, missing her classroom Valentine’s party.  However, we weren’t about to allow the party to go on completely without us.  We still made our special Valentines and dropped them off so her friends could receive a little D love.  My mom sent me this idea and I thought it was so cute.  I also liked that it didn’t involve candy.  Everyone can use a cute pencil, right?!  I found this template over at Bits of Everything  and printed it on construction paper.  Easy and something a little different – everything a working mama can love.

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This year, instead of a count down chain, we made and decorated 14 paper hearts and hung them up garland style (see our Thanksgiving garland).  Last night, I took all the removed hearts and decorated D’s door so she would see them when she woke up in the morning.  Through blurry eyes and a running nose, she smiled – my Valentine’s Day is complete.

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Enjoy your day of love!

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What season is it again?

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While a lot of the country is experiencing record setting snow storms, power outages and closed airports, we here in the Valley of the Sun are experiencing record warmth.  Now, before you take my words as gloating, I will add that we could really use some rain, and although I prefer my shorts and flip flops to sweaters and coats, a little cold spell here and there gives me a sense of the true season which is short in these parts.

Right now, this week, the season is spring.  Therefore, last weekend we did what we love to do in the spring – play outdoors.  A nice morning walk to the coffee shop for breakfast, followed by a family bike ride around the neighborhood, ending with an evening around the fire in the backyard.  D brought out her books and a flashlight to read at the fire.  She even chose two outdoor-themed books for the occasion – Going on a Lion Hunt and Just Me and My Dad Little Critter.

This weekend is showing to be another warm one.  Good thing the bike tires are pumped and ready to go.  What’s the weather like where you are and how are you rolling with the season?

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Music to our ears

_DSC1762We enjoy music in this house.  If we’re not listening to music then we’re making our own.  Ok, most of the time we make our own; singing about ordinary, every day things. Yesterday morning at the breakfast table, D and I made up a song about various animals…I fly so high, I’m like a birdie, I’m like a birdie in the sky; I climb a tree, I’m like a monkey, I’m like a monkey in a tree…if you will.  Add some interpretive dancing and it was quite an entertaining breakfast.

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I find music to be very helpful in raising a child.  It can soothe a crying baby, entertain a restless toddler, get a preschooler to listen, calm a mama’s nerves and create family bonding moments. This weekend, D’s basket of instruments came out for some off-key music fun.  Guitar, recorder, triangle, sleigh bells, maracas and a drum were back up to mama’s vocals.  A tutu was donned for dancing, and laughter ensued.  They say laughter is the best medicine, and while I’m not one to disagree, I will add music to that list.

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Oven Baked Fish Sticks

_DSC1679I found these yummy Fish Sticks in my Real Simple magazine a couple years ago.  They’re easy to make and can be frozen and baked later for those nights when you just need something quick.  Add a little coleslaw or cabbage salad on the side for a full meal.  For dipping sauce, we mixed ketchup, mayonnaise, finely diced dill pickles and a splash of pickle juice.

OVEN-BAKED FISH STICKS

3 cups panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp seafood seasoning
Kosher salt
3 large eggs
2 1/2 pounds skinless tilapia fillets, cut into 1-inch strips (we use and prefer halibut or cod)

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the bread crumbs with the oil, seafood seasoning and 1/2 tsp salt.  Toast in oven, tossing once, until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes.  Transfer to a shallow bowl and wipe out the baking sheet.  In a second shallow bowl, beat the eggs with 1 Tbsp water.

Working with a few pieces at a time, dip the fish in the beaten eggs, then coat with the bread crumbs (pressing gently to help them adhere).  Place in a single layer on 2 parchment-lined large baking sheets.

Serve immediately by baking until fish is crisp and opaque throughout, 12 to 15 minutes.
or Freeze the uncooked fish sticks on baking sheet to firm, then transfer to freezer bags and freeze for up to 3 months.  Bake from frozen, 18-20 minutes at 450 degrees.

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