Category Archives: Food & Grog

On Feeding Our Neighbors



If there is one thing that astounds me living in America, it’s that people go hungry, and that very few people seem to care. Did you know that 30 percent of all food ($48.3 billion worth) is thrown away each year in the United States?

All the farms, the supermarkets, the corner stores, the farmers’ markets, the restaurants and cafeterias, the dinner tables. One third of all that food is wasted. We are just not very good at getting it into the hands of people who need it.

A month or so ago, I started researching food pantries in my neighborhood to see if I could volunteer. I found only one in our area, an incorporated city of 50,000 people on the north-east outskirts of San Diego. Statistics say that one in six people in San Diego County do not have a stable food supply. By rough estimate, that means our neighborhood has one food pantry distributing groceries once a month, trying to meet the needs of a potential 9,000 people who might need it.

A few days later, I happened to be in my local Starbucks and saw an event poster for a day of service at Feeding America San Diego (FASD). So I signed up.

Quick Facts About Feeding America San Diego:

  • They distribute 23 million pounds of food annually in San Diego, serving 73,000 children, families and seniors each week.
  • FASD’s Farm2Kids, BackPack and School Pantry programs give kids basic food items plus three to five pounds of fresh produce to take home each week.
  • Their mobile pantries reach under-served communities, and FASD partners with food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters across San Diego county.
  • Every dollar donated to FASD results in six meals. SIX!

Two Saturdays ago, Tau and I joined around 600 volunteers, mostly Starbucks employees, at FASD’s Mira Mesa warehouse. We worked on a team that sorted green apples, boxing them up for distribution. Our group also stripped the slightly moldy outer leaves off about 300 heads of cabbage and crated those too. Other teams stuffed backpacks, labeled cans and measured out family-sized packets of breakfast cereal from the mega packs that FASD purchases with donated funds.

Tau cleaning cabbages

During the three two-hour shifts organized for that day, volunteers prepared the equivalent of 31,280 meals, which will be delivered to our community. This organization is making a dent in hunger in our city, and I will definitely be volunteering again.

As for my kid, he learned in a very real way that not all children know where their next meal is coming from. He learned that food needs to be tediously hand sorted and distributed for people to eat. And he learned that both green apples (his favorite fruit) and cabbage (which he had successfully avoided up to that point) were key to our neighbors not going hungry.

God’s joke on us? That evening we got home to a meal prepared by Dave — a sumptuous one-pot pork dish with green apples and sauerkraut!


When Life Hands You Basil

Basil is one of the few things I’m able to grow and not kill! So it’s ever so thrilling to make a batch of fresh pesto and eat it!



Beef Boerie, Stywe Pap and Hummingbirds, Oh My!

With kids and summer camp and vacation and work travel, it’s easy for the grown-up birthdays in our home to go unmarked.

And so for Dave’s birthday, I invited some close friends round for dinner and decided to do a South-African braai — something we never do.

Our local supplier of all things South African provided the wors and the pap, and the good people of the Internets provided the wisdom:

Rather sad that I’ve been out of South Africa so long that I need directions on cooking mielie meal and making bredie!

We enjoyed Dave’s birthday out under the stars, with a bottle of sparkling wine to toast him, followed by something from our German vino stash. And a good time was had by all. 

The Angry Birds Cake

This year we gave Tau the choice of either having a party for his birthday (big bucks) or getting annual family Legoland passes (equally big bucks). Smart boy, he opted for the Legoland passes, and so to celebrate his birthday, we let him choose just two friends and have their families over for a barbecue.

Can I leave it at that? No. Of course not. Got to make a little bit of a fuss and have a little fun. So when Tau asked for an Angry Birds birthday cake, I went whole hog.

We’d seen this video:

With a new baby in the house, I had to take a few shortcuts — I bought readymade plastic birds and pigs online, and used wafer cookies, KitKat bars and other candy for the tower, but the effect was the same. Tau was thrilled!

I also used a fabulous free download from The Party Animal to create a few Angry Birds balloon decorations and goodie bags for Tau’s friends.

The kids (not to mention a few of the adults) had a great time launching the birds at the pigs and trying to annihilate the cake. A great time was had by all!

The rest of the birthday pics are on Flickr.

Cocooning Over the Holidays


After a very busy 2010, and Thanksgiving spent away at Solvang, CA, we decided to spend Christmas at home this year.

I had the week between Christmas and New Year off, and Dave only worked a few days, which gave us all lots of time for sleeping in, leisurely meals and playing with all those gifts from Santa.

A few highlights from December:

We spent New Year at home also with a quiet but yummy meal, and have been slowly easing ourselves into the new Year.

For more pictures, take a look at our Christmas and New Year 2010 set on Flickr!

Lego Party: Party in the Park


And finally, a wrap-up post on the Lego party. For those searching the Internet for ideas for a Lego party, here are a few ideas:


Lego Party: The Perfect Cupcake Swirl


I have two favorite cupcake decorating tools. Hmn. Make that three.

  1. My frosting spatula, which makes smoothing a flat layer of icing onto any cake a breeze (also used to to smoothe the Lego Marshmallow Pops)
  2. My disposable piping bags (I really should invest in a set of re-usable ones)
  3. My new #18 Wilton frosting tip.

Yes, I’ve finally taken a leap into the enchanting world of the swirl. When I knew I was going to make special cupcakes for my friend Andrea’s birthday and for Tau’s birthday, I decided to kick it up a notch in the frosting department.

Where do you go to learn the swirl? Duh. The Internet of course. I was pleased to learn that the swirl is even easier than it looks. Especially with the right tip.

Evidence. Even I can do it!

For Tau’s party, I made one batch of red and one batch of blue cupcakes, and then added a simple Lego cupcake topper based on these by Amy Locurto.

Though they were very cute, I’m not sure I’d do red and blue again. The amount of coloring required to get the right red and blue is downright scary.

Not that any health concerns deterred the kids from enjoying them! I love this picture of one brother and sister at the party. His cupcake matching her dress, and hers matching his t-shirt? Total fluke — but super cute nonetheless!