Life is too short to eat bad food! Sharing great recipes, farm life, stories and photography from our Northern California dairy farm.

August 25, 2014

Tips for Keeping Kids Safe Online

Today is back to school day for many of us!  My kids are not yet teenagers but my almost 10 year old is constantly trying to negotiate time online while at home.   Back to school is always a good time to go over online safety with the kids, no matter the age and especially considering that 60% of teenagers, aged 13-17 years old have at least one online profile.  Receiving an email from Private Giant with some tips to help keep kids safe online has reminded me this would be a good time to talk to the kids about online safety.
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Here are tips to share with you...

Social Media Security Tips for Parents

1. Don’t allow your children to include any Personally Identifiable Information (PII) in their account user names. Even something as simple as a first name and the city you reside in can be enough for a criminal to piece together a bigger picture of your life through your online presence. A photo of a school shirt, friend connections, a comment about weekend plans, can be collected in a process called Doxing and used to build an exact profile of a person. A stranger can easily gain intimate knowledge of your child’s entire life by trolling online profiles that are not properly safeguarded. Another level of protection can be added by having your child create unique user names for each account, never reusing the same log in information between sites.

2. Turn off any geo-tagging features. Allowing social media sites to have knowledge of your children’s location at any time of day can create a dangerous history that stalkers, cybercriminals and child predators can gain access to and exploit.

3. Monitor your children’s monthly download data usage. If you notice a spike in data usage, ask your children what they have been doing online and check for yourself to see what apps, videos or other files have been downloaded. A spike in data usage could indicate the presence of malware.

4. Create a guest account for your children on their computer instead of allowing them to use the computer as an administrator. Setting up the computer this way will give you more control over what your child can access and install.

5. Prepare ahead of time by joining social media. Before you allow your children to create a social media account, take the time to download the app or create an account of your own so you are familiar with how the program works.

6. Stay up to date on social media privacy settings. Privacy settings are constantly changing and if you are not checking them on a regular basis your children could be inadvertently sharing personal information with the world.

7. Check your child’s browser history weekly. If you come across a site that looks suspicious or you are not familiar with, check it out. Also keep a look out for any sites that seem like your child might have been shopping online.

8. Have open communication about the dangers of being online. Explain to your children how being online and freely sharing information or not having the proper safeguards in place could result in your family losing money, home, valuables and safety. Share real life examples with them to help them understand how vulnerable they truly are.

9. Schedule surprise check-ins.  Have your children log in to their accounts so you can browse them freely with them. Every few weeks, collect your children’s devices and have them show you their accounts. Make it an opportunity to get connected with their online social world, and to detect if any of their online actions are inappropriate or potentially dangerous.

10. Only allow your children to communicate with or “friend” people they have met in person. Set a house rule that your children are not allowed to communicate or connect with people online that they have not met face-to-face and enforce it by having them “friend” you on their social media accounts so you can check at will and stay connected to their feeds.

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August 14, 2014

Three Minute Coleslaw Salad

When I find something that's healthy, easy to throw together and very tasty, I eat it every day.  This versatile three minute coleslaw salad is my current addiction.  I buy the pre-shredded cabbage, or coleslaw mix that you can find bagged in the pre packaged salad section of the grocery store, pour on my favorite low-cal poppy seed dressing and mix in some rice wine vinegar for some kick.  That is all!

I've been eating this salad every day for lunch for a week straight.  I can't buy enough packaged coleslaw. I'll even mix in sliced leftover chicken breast from the previous night's dinner just to mix it up a little.

I am obsessed.

And because I can't get enough of it at lunch, I throw this tangy slaw on top of my shredded beef tacos for dinner.  Oh MY!  Heaven.

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August 4, 2014

The Powerhouse Kiwifruit

We're sliding in to my favorite time of year, Autumn.  The harvest of all sorts of favorites is beginning to happen, one being Kiwi fruit, which is available in stores from June through early autumn.  My kids love Kiwi, we just cut them in half and spoon out the vitamin packed, powerhouse fruit with a spoon.  Bryce can eat at least three in one sitting.  So when Zespri Kiwifruit sent me these delicious looking recipes, I wanted to share with you all.

All photos and recipes courtesy Zespri Kiwifruit

Black Rice Salad with Kiwifruit and Cashews

2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 1/2 cups cooked and cooled black or brown rice
2 Zespri® SunGold Kiwifruit, peeled and cut up
1 cup quartered strawberries
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
1/3 cup salted cashew pieces

In small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, honey, mustard, salt, pepper and garlic. In large bowl, stir dressing into rice. Stir in remaining ingredients except cashews. Cover and refrigerate up to 2 hours before serving to allow flavors to blend. Stir in cashews just before serving.
6 (3/4-cup) servings
*1 cup uncooked black rice yields 2 1/2 cups cooked rice.
Recipe tip: A serrated peeler works best for peeling kiwifruit.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Start to Finish: 15 minutes.

Baked Brie with Spicy Kiwifruit Compote

1 (13.2 oz) Brie cheese round
2 tablespoons red pepper jelly
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 Zespri® Organic Green Kiwifruit, peeled and diced
1 Zespri® SunGold Kiwifruit, peeled and diced
Assorted crackers

Heat oven to 350°F. Unwrap Brie; trim and discard rind from top. Place cheese on ovenproof baking dish or pie plate. Bake 15 minutes or until softened and beginning to melt.
Meanwhile, in microwavable bowl, stir together jelly, mustard and pepper. Fold in diced kiwifruit. Microwave on high power 1 1/2 minutes, stirring halfway through heating, until hot.
Transfer cheese to serving plate, if desired. Top with kiwifruit mixture. Serve with crackers.
16 servings
Recipe tip: A serrated peeler works best for peeling kiwifruit.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Makes: 16 servings

Sungold Kiwifruit - Raspberry Cobbler

1/4 cup butter-canola oil blend
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch
4 Zespri® SunGold Kiwifruit, peeled and thickly sliced
1 cup fresh raspberries
1 cup whole wheat or all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups low-fat buttermilk

Heat butter-canola spread in 9-inch oven-proof skillet or 8-inch square baking dish in oven until melted, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from oven; set aside.
Heat oven to 375°F. In medium bowl, stir together sugar and cornstarch. Gently stir kiwifruit and raspberries in to sugar mixture to coat.
In medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in buttermilk just until combined. Pour into pan over melted butter without stirring. Spoon kiwifruit mixture over batter.
Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until cobbler is golden brown and bubbly.
8 servings
Recipe tip: A serrated peeler works best for peeling kiwifruit.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Start to Finish: 1 hour

And lastly, I must include a cocktail recipe.  This one helps ring in the change of seasons with the spiced rum and brandy...

Southern Cross Golden Kiwifruit Cocktail

1 Zespri® SunGold Kiwifruit, peeled
1/2 ounce lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 ounce dark or spiced rum
1/2 ounce brandy
1/4 ounce triple sec
Lime wedge
Muddle kiwifruit, lime juice and sugar in cocktail shaker. Add rum, brandy, triple sec and ice. Shake 10 to 15 seconds or until very cold. Strain into old-fashioned glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with lime wedge.
1 serving
Recipe tip: A serrated peeler works best for peeling kiwifruit.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Start to Finish: 5 minutes
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July 29, 2014

Sonoma County Fair Recap

One final fair for the summer, for us.  The Sonoma County Fair encompasses 2 1/2 weeks in total, thankfully the Jr. dairy group comes in on the first week and stays for five days, not the entire two week period. The kids love it.  They look forward to it and work their 4H fair projects all year long to be able to participate in the summer county fairs. 

This was the first year my son, Bryce, participated in the Sonoma County Fair so it was a new experience for him and for me. Dominic showed at this fair, as a child, for many years 30 years ago.  Things are a little more spread out at this fair as compared to the Petaluma, Sonoma-Marin Fair.  A good walk from the barns to the camp trailer, if we couldn't flag down any one of the numerous golf carts zipping around.

Days began at around 7 a.m., for Bryce, with a ride to the barn to feed, water and wash the our case one frisky heifer named, Roxy.

Show days were excruciating hot standing in the show ring under the covered arena.  

But all the kids were troopers and seemed to manage the heat swimmingly in their sweat soaked "whites".

In between show days, there's down time where we just sit around, try to catch poop before it hits the hay, and make sure all the animals are kept clean, watered and comfortable.

With hot, muggy days, comes beautiful sunsets over the fairgrounds and RV park almost every night and if we weren't busy feeding hungry kids, showering or feeding animals, we would be fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of them.

On the last day of the fair, some of the kids competed in Dairy Challenge in the show ring.  To help raise some prize money for the competitors, Dominic graciously offered to let the kids shave his head if enough money was raised.


During > {thanks Lucas}


Mug Shot.

The Sonoma County Fair also has horse racing.  Always fun at the races.

And NO fair is complete until copious amounts of fair food is consumed.

Until next year!  This year's fair theme.... "Peace, Love & Fair"

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July 25, 2014

Dog Days of Summer with Fresh Ginger Moscow Mule

Because we went from rain and 65 degrees on Sunday/Monday to 99 degrees and sweltering today, the only thing that might give some relief while hanging out with the animals at the Sonoma County Fair is this Fresh Ginger Moscow Mule by Bon Appetit......just in case you see me roaming with a sippy cup at the barn, you'll know what it contains.  Happy Friday.  Cheers!

Photo and recipe courtesy Bon Appetit

Fresh Ginger Moscow Mule

2 oz. vodka
1½ oz. simple syrup
1 oz. fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon finely grated peeled
2 oz. club soda
1 lime wedge
Candied ginger (for serving)

Combine vodka, simple syrup, lime juice, and ginger in a cocktail shaker; fill shaker with ice. Shake until outside of shaker is frosty, about 30 seconds. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice; top off with club soda and garnish with lime wedge and candied ginger.
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July 21, 2014

Gluten Free Banana Chocolate Muffins

The past few days, here in northern California, has been overcast, showery and a humid 70 degrees.  It NEVER showers in July in our part of northern California.  I kinda liked it though.  Put me in the baking mood!  Gluten Free Banana Chocolate Muffins was what I came up with.

I'm not normally a "gluten free" kids are not gluten free, my husband is not gluten free but I do have friends and family who are. 

Although the thing that inspired me to come up with a new gluten free muffin recipe was actually the fact that I despise wasting food.  I had a few brown bananas on hand and I love banana bread.  I also had this in my cupboard...

Bob's Red Mill whole grain Brown Rice Flour.  Not sure why.  It's been in my cupboard for a while now so I decided to go bananas and bake some gluten free banana chocolate muffins to see if anyone in my family would notice.  Normally they would, but these muffins were THAT good.  

Okay, here's what you need for success....

Gluten Free Banana Chocolate Muffins

1 1/2 cups Bob's Red Mill whole grain brown rice flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
3 large very ripe bananas
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350.  Coat muffin pan with non stick cooking spray or use paper muffin liners.  Measure flour and mix together with baking powder, baking soda and sea salt; set aside.

Combine bananas, sugar, egg, coconut oil and vanilla extract in large bowl.  Mix in flour mixture, little by little, in thirds.  Mix in chocolate chips.  Using a ice cream scoop, scoop batter in to muffin tin.

Bake for 23 minutes.  Enjoy!
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July 10, 2014

Oven Baked BBQ Chicken

A few nights ago we met a group of friends at Marin French Cheese Factory for a sunset potluck, cocktails and a friendly game of whiffle ball.  I wanted to bring something that was easily transportable and that would be tasty served warm or cold.  BBQ Baked Chicken inspired by The Pioneer Woman, was the chosen dish. Very easy to bake, only a few ingredients and something all would enjoy.

This is also a great cost effective meal any day of the week.  I think I bought a package of 16 drumsticks for $8 dollars.  What child would give up the chance to eat food with his fingers and maybe even be allowed to lick them afterwards?!  (note to self, next time bring a package of wipes...napkins don't really cut it)

Okay, here's what you need for success....

Oven Baked BBQ Chicken


Your favorite BBQ sauce 1/2 bottle or Dippin' Sauce and 1/2 bottle of Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce
Skin on chicken drumsticks and thighs


In a sauce pot, heat over medium/low heat, the BBQ Sauce and the Sweet Chili sauce until combined, about 10 minutes.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Oil a baking tray with extra virgin olive oil, so the chicken will not stick to the tray.  Arrange drumsticks neatly on the tray and the thighs, skin side down, on the tray.  Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Brush on the BBQ/Chili sauce and turn all chicken pieces over on tray.  Bake for another 8 minutes, remove from oven and re-apply the sauce to the top side of chicken.  No flipping.  Bake for another 8 minutes, remove and reapply sauce.  Bake for an additional 10 minutes.  If you have remaining sauce, reapply one last time and place back in the oven and broil for 4 minutes, until the chicken skin becomes a little crispy and gooey along the edges.  Done!

This is what it looks like after coming out of the oven 25 minutes later, before brushing on the sauce.

After the second time out of the oven.

Last time out of the oven.

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