Blog Archives

The Disney Dining Plan

The Disney Dining Plan, get it, use it!  I love it!  Seriously.

Having the quick service dining plan made our lives so much easier.  We didn’t have to carry cash, or watch prices.  It was great!  And the amount of food you get with this plan is crazy!  In addition to your main course and side dishes you get dessert with every meal.  Not into sweets?  Get grapes, apples, or a mixed fruit dish.  These are super handy to take with you both in your room and at the parks.

The quick service plan includes two quick service meals and a snack daily.  And I’ll admit, before getting to Walt Disney World I was worried about whether it would be enough.  The kid and I tend to be grazers, and like to eat throughout the day.  I was concerned about the dining plan meeting our needs – but it did, with a bunch left over at the end.  We’d always pick up some fruit or other portable snack item as our dessert, so we always had something healthy to munch on whenever the urge struck.

I’m so glad Karla (our travel agent) recommended the dining plan.  It really did make things so much easier…  and we always had a ton of food, smoothies, and great snacks whenever we needed them.  If we make it back (we certainly hope to, and soon) we’ll definitely get the dining plan again.

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Hot Water Heater Blues

We took possession of our new place on November 10th.  November 15th we handed over the keys to our old place.  November 21st our hot water heater spews water on the floor.  Yep.

So, we kinda figured, after trying our first bath here, that we’d need to be looking at replacing the hot water system here.  If your heater can’t produce enough hot water to get the tub to your five year old’s belly button?  It’s a good sign it’s not working well.  But yeah…  todays epic adventure (complete with cat stranded on top of the washing machine terrified and mewing loud enough for the whole neighbourhood to hear as the water crept closer, and in the end trapping her in the laundry room) kinda synched things.

This is not fun.  We need to find an eco-friendly professional who understands the need to balance a desire to be as green as possible with a practical need to stick to a budget.  Someone who can help us figure out the best system for our family, which may well include multiple options working together to create a system friendly to both our Earth and our pocketbook.  I’m not looking forward to having to find said professional in a hurry.  This is definitely the kind of search I’d like to take my time with…  but I suppose that’s the way it goes.

Here, something fun.  Go make food in jars:  http://www.bystephanielynn.com/2011/07/50-different-foods-you-can-put-in-jar.html  ‘Cause mason jars make everything look cuter and taste better.  🙂

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds – DIY

We roast pumpkin seeds every year.  Along with carving the jack-o-lanterns, it’s part of our rituals on the eve of Samhain (or Halloween, if you prefer).  As we were boiling our seeds, a few questions started coming in on FB – where I’d been sharing videos.  So I figured a blog post was in order.  Which brings us up to date.  😉

Home made, roasted pumpkin seeds are my very favourite Halloween treat.  Candies, chips, chocolates may be nice…  but nothing beats the yummy crunch of pumpkin seeds done right.  And to be honest?  I find the process of harvesting the seeds, washing, boiling, drying, and roasting them to be very zen.  I just enjoy the whole thing, which only adds to their natural goodness.

Tonight we’ll cover the basics, and by the end you’ll be on your way to developing your own way of seasoning and enjoying home roasted pumpkin seeds.

We were rather grateful that Damon had purchased two great big pumpkins this year, as we discovered our first one was partially rotten inside – which meant we wouldn’t be harvesting anything from it.  It still made a good jack-o-lantern, but I wouldn’t have trusted anything to be edible.  Thankfully our second pumpkin had such a wealth of seeds that we’ll have as many from one pumpkin as we often get from two!

So, the obvious steps to this process:

  • harvest your seeds
  • wash your seeds

freshly harvested and washed pumpkin seeds

Now, this next step is the one that seemed to generate all the questions:

  • boil your seeds

Yes.  I boil my seeds.  I didn’t always though, and I had the same problems many people report when doing their own home roasting.  The seeds were tough, and inconsistent.  I started boiling them six or seven years ago now, and it makes a world of difference.  My pumpkin seeds are crispier, lighter, and more flavourful.  It’s definitely worth the extra step.

I use a medium sized sauce pan, and add a couple of inches of water.  Roughly enough to cover your seeds and allow for an extra inch or inch and a half of water.  Bring it to a boil and add your seeds.

This is also when I add my seasonings or spices.

We try something different almost every year.  It’s fun to experiment with different spices or seasonings.  This year we kept it pretty simple and went with a tablespoon of garlic powder a teaspoon of salt.  Seasoning salt works nice, and things like dill pickle popcorn seasonings are even pretty good.  Try taco blends too.  There are lots of options – I’ve yet to find a dud.  LOL

Click the links below to watch the progression of our seeds as they boil:

All told, they boiled for about 25 minutes.  You’ll notice the colour change, then keep boiling until most of the liquid is gone (the steam clouded the iPhone lens):

seasoned and boiled - pumpkin seeds

At this point you have two choices.  You can pop them directly in the oven (on a buttered, oiled, sprayed cookie sheet or on parchment paper)…  or you can dry them first.  If I know I’ll have time to babysit them I’ll often pop them in the oven.  Kid kid has a hard time having the patience needed to dry them out any other way.  So at 350 degrees it will be between an hour and an hour and a half – and do watch them carefully because cooking time varies.

We didn’t get started on the process until the evening (we usually start on them in the afternoon), so it means I get to do them up the leisurely way – which I prefer.  I spread them out on a sheet to dry, and then put the girl to bed.  Which is where we are now:

the boiled pumpkin seeds, spread on a cookie sheet to dry overnight

Tomorrow morning, when they’re nice and dry, I’ll pop them into the oven at 350 degrees for about fifteen minutes.  The house already smells yummy from having them boil, but tomorrow will smell even better as they roast.  I’ll pull them out to cool for a wee bit, and we’ll have my favourite treat.  Some we’ll bag up in a ziplock to keep in my bag as a treat for when we’re out and about and happen to feel snacky.  But most of them will get eaten before they have a chance to be bagged…  though…  I will stash away a small handful or two, just for me.  LOL

So that’s it!  That’s how you make the very best homemade roasted pumpkin seeds – from scratch.  Follow the steps I’ve outlined here, and they’ll be perfect, every time!

Joyous Samhain and Happy Halloween!

Collective Kitchen!

The Lentil Ladies were at it again today.  🙂  We made a lovely vegetarian shepherds pie with celery, red peppers, carrots, lentils, quinoa, and topped with sweet potatoes.  We also did a sweet potato and squash soup.  Cooked up some whole wheat bagels, and baked some delightful vegan chocolate raspberry cupcakes.  Mmmmmmmm…..  good good good.

Here are the kids all helping to clean up afterwards.  😀  Love that they all shared the vacuum.

kids helping clean up

Collective Kitchen Clean-up

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