Jupiter’s Acorn, a very fun name for a plain old Walnut

I am not a tree hugger by nature, although my East Coast family thinks that since I live in California I am. I do love trees though, especially, Walnut trees.
I never thought much of the Walnut, or so I thought.  Although my family did not live in a nut-growing region we always had a bowl of Walnuts on our coffee table. You know, orange shag rug, plaid couch, bad haircuts and a bowl of nuts, ahh..the 70's!

I had no idea how they were grown, They came from the store I supposed.  I did know they made my tongue dry, looked like little brains and were fun to smash. The Latin name for Walnut is Jupiter's Acorn, cute isn't it?

Nuts faded away for a few years, I’d forgotten about them like and old friend you don’t talk too much, but still really like. When you see them again it is like you were never apart…it was like that with walnuts.
Lucky for me, my husband and I bought a small house last year and in the front yard are two very old English Walnut trees. They have given our family so much, we make Nocino a green Walnut wine starting in the summer and we bottling it in December. Our daughter loves to help pick the nuts and help decide on the aromatics to put in the wine. We use orange, coffee beans, cinnamon, clove, she gets to smell them and help decide on the amounts to add in.
In the fall the nuts start dropping. We have to get them before the crows do, they toss them in the road and wait until the cars smash them, brilliant! It is always fun to see who can pick up the most nuts with the Nut Wizard, the kids love it!
I love that the weather is getting cool and we can watch our trees change from season to season. I am always looking for walnut recipes so feel free to send me yours!
So give your kids a rock and a bunch of nuts and let them smash them open and eat the yummy nut meats.

Here is a recipe you may get your kids to eat if you let them help shell the nuts!

Walnut Pesto
Try it spread on crusty bread. The bright lemon flavor and fresh herbs give this pesto a sunny feeling even in winter. Freeze in small portions and use it to add extra flavor to, rice, top fish or chicken or stir into soups.

2 cups (tight-packed) flat-leaf parsley leaves
3/4 cup toasted chopped walnuts
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cloves (large) garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest


Place parsley, walnuts, cheese, garlic, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse until well combined. Combine oil, lemon juice, and zest in a small bowl. Add the oil mixture to parsley mixture in a slow stream, pulsing to combine. Serve immediately or freeze.
Freeze the pesto: Divide pesto into preferred serving sizes and place in small containers Pour a bit of olive oil on the top to keep the air away from the pesto. Seal
with airtight lids.

This recipe was adapted from Country Living.

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Chase the Gray Days Away with a Spring Birthday

With Winter approaching why not throw a little spring themed princess or princely birthday party, or heck just throw a party for the fun of it!
Keep the grey away with lots of ideas on how to create an easy bright and colorful party. Spur your creativity for healthy colorful foods and fun party ideas. You can get just about everything you need at a large craft store.

Princess and Princely Capes:
Purchase inexpensive fleece fabric or go to Ikea and get cheap fleece blankets there.
Cut wide rectangles about 3 feet long and make a 6 inch slit about 10 inches below the top. (See photo of prince)
The slit will slide over the head of the prince or princess. Remember get two colors if there will be boys attending.
Use the scraps to make “cuffs” by cutting a doughnut shape to slip over tiny wrists. Add fringe by cutting around the “doughnut with scissors.”

If you are feeling adventurous you can make a princess cake from a mold. You can get used molds on Ebay for less than a brand new one. You can also go on line to find out how to make a doll cake in a mixing bowl, just search “making a doll cake in a mixing bowl.” If you purchase the mold you can reuse it as a volcano for another child’s party. The doll for the cake comes with a spike in place of legs to be put directly into the "skirt" of cake; they can be purchased at most craft stores.

Dipped Strawberries:
Buy melting chocolate, little disks made especially for candy making. Get any color and follow directions on the bag for melting. Remember make sure your berries are dry, adding water to melted chocolate will turn into a hard lump. Drizzle berries with a contrasting chocolate color.


Use a sandwich press or shape cutters to remove crusts and cut in to simple shapes.
Fill them with cheese and a thinly sliced apple slice or your child’s favorite filling.
A springy salad and bread for the grown ups makes them feel welcome too.

Use molding chocolates (the same ones you use for the dipped strawberries) and a flower mold to make these cute flower arrangements. Buy a few pots of cat grass from the pet store and “plant” enough flowers (or bugs) for each child.

I like to invite a small group that way we can give out nicer favors. Fore this party we had one my little pony bought on sale, one cool marshmallow twist, a necklace and bracelet in a cute pink purse. For the little prince we had a brown more cowboy-looking horse in a more boyish bag.

Make sure you have a craft to occupy the time.
We made foamy crowns and wands with foamy-s that have sticky backing. Each child gets to be proud of the craft they made!

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Taste Testing Peanut Butters - Not Just for Kids!

I love peanut butter, maybe it’s that nostalgic icon the pb&j that brings back the memories. Although I was never a fan of the jelly part, I just preferred the sticky nutty spread all alone. A tasting comparison is a great way to get your kids eating foods they may not think about.  Any ingredient can work, whole wheat pasta, jelly, juice, cheese, tortilla chips, anything you can think of. Give each of them a plate with samples of one type of food item, have them taste it, smell it, and look at the color. Discuss or write down the findings and decide by voting which food they like the best.

This particular Peanut Butter tasting was all grown ups from the SFPFS. Our panel ranged from master taster to recipe developers to home cooks. We each had a plate with 11 samples of “oil on the top, natural peanut butter." I can’t say we were very scientific about the tasting, just that we tasted, and then yelled out our opinion across the room. It was a lot of fun, and I’d do it again, even with jelly!

Here’s our sticky conclusion:
8 votes – Trader Joes Organic $2.99
7 votes– Santa Cruz Dark Roast 3.99
6 votes – O Organics (Safeway) 2.50

5 votes - Laura Scudders 3.89
4 votes– Santa Cruz Light Roast 3.99
2 votes– Trader Joes regular 1.79
0 votes - MaraNatha Organic 3.15
0 votes - Adams 3.89
0 votes – 365 (whole foods) 1.69
The no-stir Skippy and MaraNatha products received no votes.

The overall winner was Trader Joe’s Organic at $2.99. The group agreed it had a focused peanut taste with mild salt and a bit of sweetness.

The second choice was Santa Cruz Dark Roast at $3.99, it was the most expensive. We all agreed that the deep peanut color and roasty flavor set it at second place.

The third choice was O Organics 2.50 (Safeway brand) it was considered to have mild flavor and a smooth texture a typical peanut butter.

Sunflower Butter is a great alternative for peanut butter.
There is also a new almond product called Barney Butter go to What's Cooking to read about it.

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Freaky Friday

Welcome to Freaky Friday. I happen to be the lucky owner of a set of recipe cards from 1973, a lot of recipe cards, and most of them are a bit freaky! I thought I'd share some of my thoughts and possible ways to update these recipes. Some cards are just too far gone and can't be fixed but hopefully, at least I can get you laughing. Now don't be afraid because some of these recipe cards have a good foundation for creative recipe ideas. We have come a long way baby...

You can't really go wrong with a cupcake but these seem to have gone really wrong. It is not Halloween yet but these sure are spooky!

Maybe it's the dried leaves they are sitting in, or the creepy faces, or the dangerous fire sticks positioned to burn off all your arm hair as you grab for one. These are perfect for your next front yard séance, don't forget the fire extinguisher.

Old School

unsweetened chocolate
baking powder
1 pkg fluffy white frosting mix
licorice laces
candy corn
Chocolate chips
chocolate sprinkles

Update Suggestions...

1 package organic cupcake mix, chocolate
assorted candies and some free time

Homemade Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

4 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon orange peel (optional)

Combine cream cheese and butter; beat until smooth. Gradually beat in sugar and grated orange peel.

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