Jill S. McIntyre

Life isn't about finding yourself. It's about creating your self.

Category: Thought Food

7 Easy Grow Veggies for Kids

It’s that time of year when winter gradually turns to spring, and the seed catalog find their way  to your mailbox. Now is the time to also involve your children in planning this year’s garden. Start your summer garden by choosing the seeds you will be planting.  My daughter enjoys looking through the colorful pages of the seed catalogs–oohing and ahh-ing over beautiful green peas and rainbow colored flowers.  Gardening with your children is so much fun! Kids learn not only where their food comes from but also care taking and patience. Plus, research shows that children are more likely to try a new vegetable if they have grown it themselves. Teaching your child a lifelong skill of growing her own food is a very valuable lesson indeed. Having grown vegetables and flowers with my oldest daughter as she grew has instilled a love of growing her own food, and now as a young adult she has her own container garden. My youngest daughter is also well on her way to becoming a master gardener as well at the ripe old age of 4.  One of the things I found that  parents can do to foster a love of gardening is to chose vegetables that are easy to grow and do not require anything beyond watering and weeding.

Here is a list of 7 easy to grow vegetables for your family’s garden:

Crisp and a little spicy, radishes are a very hardy, cool season vegetable. Radishes need a lot of sun so be sure to plant them where they will not be shaded. Many varieties will germinate within 3-7 days and can be harvested in about 3 to 4 weeks after planting making them very easy to grow. Be sure to pick them when they are ready as the texture of the radish deteriorates after maturity if not. Bonus: The leaves/greens are edible too!

Popeye was definitely on to this super food. Spinach is also a very hardy, cool season crop. Spinach needs about 6 weeks of cool spring weather from germination to harvest. Full of essential vitamins and minerals, spinach can be eaten raw or cooked. Encourage your child to try easy to grow spinach right out of the garden.

 Cherry Tomatoes
There is nothing in the world like a garden tomato! Although technically a fruit, cherry tomatoes are sweet and juicy and easy for small fingers to pick. Many people opt for tomato starts rather than planting tomatoes by seed. Children will learn transplanting from one container to the next or the garden. Provide full sun and lots of water and your plant will yield a bounty of tasty little tomatoes in late summer.

Eh, what’s up doc! Carrots are a must have for gardening with children. Not only do carrot varieties come in orange but also white, yellow, red, and purple! Carrots although easy to grow take up to 70-80 days to mature. This is where teaching your child gardening patience comes into play. Try planting carrot tape to ensure proper spacing and no need for thinning.

Yes please, pass the peas! Peas have been documented as one of the oldest cultivated vegetables in the world! Coming in many varieties from snow peas to sugar snap peas, your child will enjoy planting this tasty treat. Soil temperature is the deciding factor on how quickly your peas will reach maturity. Raised beds warm faster than the ground so peas planted in a raised bed will make this easy to grow vegetable germinate faster. Teach your child about seed saving by saving a few shelled peas: air dry the peas and save them in a sealed envelope in a cool dark place until next summer.

The almighty zucchini! A very prolific producer of summer squash, this easy to grow, warm season vegetable is also technically a fruit. Most zucchini varieties take about 60 days to maturity. To help stave off over abundance of zucchini fruits, harvest a few flowers from each plant. The edible flower of the zucchini plant is a fun delicacy to share with your child. Do not let zucchini get overly large or the texture becomes pithy inside the squash. Zucchini fruits can grow up to an inch a day so chose one with your child to measure each day until it is ready to harvest.


Have the most sincere pumpkin patch on the block, and plant easy to grow sugar pumpkins with your child! Sugar pumpkins reach maturity after about 110 days when they are orange and 6-8 inches in diameter. Roasted pumpkins can be used in everything from pies to soup. Seeds can also be roasted and enjoyed as a healthy snack.

12 Dates For the Foodie

If you are a foodie, or are dating or married to a foodie, try one or all these twelve dates to keep your romance sizzling!

1. Visit a local farmers’ market. Think farmers’ markets are only a summer and fall excursion? Think again. Many cities also have a winter market. Winter farmers’ markets typically have cold weather crops such as potatoes, cabbages, and winter squash. No matter what time of year many markets also include locally raised eggs, grass-fed beef, artisan cheeses, and specialty jams and breads. Purchase fresh organic, local, seasonal ingredients and make a delicious meal together!

2. Check out the local winery, micro-brewery, or micro-distillery. Many of these establishments offer tours and a tasting room while others offer a full dining experience. Be sure to call ahead to make any necessary reservations first. It will impress your date, even long-time spouses, if you have done your research on the brewery or winery before you visit. Don’t drink alcohol? Try a local milkshake shack or kombucha bar.

3. Take a “flight.” Wine or beer “flights” have become increasingly popular over the last few years. A “flight” is a sampling of wines or beers from around the state, country or even from around the world. Local restaurants as well as breweries feature flights. Pair your flight with an appetizer sampler plate to make your experience complete.  Teetotaler? Make your own flight of artisan sodas from World Market.

4. Eat at restaurants featuring locally grown and raised foods. Unsure where to find an eating establishment serving local foods? Websites such as The Green Restaurants Association have directories of restaurants featuring local foods. Still can’t find a restaurant in your area that serves local foods? Call around and talk to food service managers. Many places may use local ingredients but might not advertise this.

5. Support agri-tourism. Who doesn’t love a field trip to a farm? Agri-tourism activities include everything from picking berries in the summer time to sleigh rides in the winter. Find a listing of farms to visit in your area at Agritourism World

6. Have a picnic. Picnic’s can be both a romantic and inexpensive date. Avid picnic goers most likely have a special spot, but even a city park or your backyard will do nicely. Picnic foods can be as simple as a couple of sandwiches and pieces of organic fruit. Take-out from your favorite deli can make for a spontaneous picnic anytime. Be sure to have a plan for inclement weather such as a candlelit picnic on a blanket in your living room during an unexpected downpour.

7. Take a class together. Have you ever wanted to keep urban honey bees? Would she love to learn how to make biscotti? Does he want to grow micro greens? Find a class you would want to take together. Some classes are offered for a night or weekend, while others may be several weeks long. If you can’t commit to 12 weeks taking an organic gardening class at your community college, then find a one-night only or weekend course on a similar topic. Classes can be found for every budget and commitment level.

8. Satisfy a sweet tooth. Visit the local chocolatier’s candy shop. Get coffee and pastries from your favorite bakery. Take a trip to that new cupcakery together or that new little gourmet ice cream. Are you always to full for dessert after you eat at your favorite restaurant? Go just for dessert!

9. Food Truck Pit Stop!! The foods served from these trucks have become more gourmet to entice sophisticated taste buds and desire to try something new. These mobile kitchens serve everything from home-style ice cream sandwiches to Korean fusion foods, and many feature local and organic ingredients. If you are familiar with the food trucks in your area, follow their Twitter feeds as many of them tweet their daily specials as well as location that day.

10. Attend a chili cook-off. Support your neighbors and friends or enter together as a couple. Whether you sample the fares of others or participate as contestants with your killer 5 alarm organic chili, a chili cook-off is a fun social event. If you are worried about gas, opt for bean-free chilis. You can also add an element of competition and place friendly bets with your date such as who will win each category. Heat things up even more by competing against each other! And I repeat; if you are worried about gas, opt for bean-free chili.

11. Peruse an antique store. Does she love vintage cookbooks or cookie cutters? Does he have an affinity for vintage enamelware? Do you both appreciate classic food advertisement prints? The antique store is just the place to go. Make a day of it, and seek out several antique shops. Be sure to each come home with a treasure!

12. Rent a movie. Yes, rent a movie. Whether you stream them online or still go to the local video store, movies and movie nights are a staple in most relationships. Just take it one step further. From documentaries about sustainable farming to romantic comedies about chocolate, you can find a movie to satisfy your tastes. Don’t forget the gourmet popcorn and a snuggly blanket for that Netflix and chill session.

Book Review: Sunshine and Moonbeams: a Treasury of Poems and Prayers is a poetic harvest!


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Sunshine and Moonbeams: a Treasury of Poems and Prayers is a poetic harvest!

By Jeremy Fitzgerald

It would seem a great irony that poetry, like its origin in verse, requires any explanation whatsoever.  Nonetheless, poetry, or further, verse, and even deeper, song, is also of thought of as the most beautiful of the basic, universal expressions.  Whether you are a fan of poetry or not, the magic of verse oriented mnemonics has been in almost every human brain since “the mouse ran up the clock.”

Consider then, Sunshine and Moonbeams: A Treasury of Poems and Prayers, written and collected by Jill S. McIntyre, illustrated by Rebecka L. Sasich, a new volume of verse, descended from the brood of Mother Goose, to rekindle a love for nature, earth, seasons and spirituality. Uniquely illustrated in a vivid Bauhaus style, each artwork creates a delightful visual tapestry that provides each verse with a depth of imagery re-defining the term “eye-candy,” and reminding the reader that as early as Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, life experience gathered, planted and sewn in poetry and verse has been marked out with glorious etchings from an illuminators hand. One of the great evocative qualities of poetry being inherent its ability to move an artful hand to canvas.

Yet what is the purpose of poetic convention?  What is it about meter and rhyme that instill us with recollection of sequence, image and melody? Truly, this is a question for the birds, set forth by Father Sky, Mother Nature or both!  Is poetry at its basic best, like the psalms and lamentations of scripture, humanity’s best effort at acknowledging, praising and connecting with those natural forces humans cannot fully comprehend? Or, dare I say it: our gods? If so, then what of our praises and tribute to the figure of our goddess instincts, our mother nature, our mother necessity? Indeed, many poets of old created odes to nature herself, celebrating the spirituality of the seasons, or perhaps further, the seasons of our spirituality.

Throughout time, the great myths of the universe have always involved, not only the tales, rhymes and songs of the male gods, but also the deeds, verses and poems dedicated to the female. One of the oldest creation myths goes even deeper to describe the evolution of our natural universe as a result of the love and passion between Gaia (Mother Earth) and Uranus (Father Sky).  In the realms of verse and spirituality the female manifestation can take many forms, high or low, but the most honorable form, the most feared and lovely form crowned has been that of the goddess. A specifically female celebration of a form infused with the powers of creation, harvest and nature itself, which adds a beautiful harmony to the male, mercurial essence of god and sky.  Originally dubbed as “a Treasury of Poems and Prayers for Children of the Goddess,Sunshine and Moonbeams is a warmly welcome addition to the canon of rhymes for children inspired by, in the words of Arthur author Marc Brown, “Thomas Fleet of Pudding Lane in Boston” who collected and published the “melodies” of his mother in law, the eternally beloved “Mother Goose,” in 1719.

It is no question that great visual art can emote a variety of emotion, both spiritual and verbal.  The illustrations that enliven the background of this treasury, as created by Rebecka L. Sasich and rendered in tribute to the spirit of Lyonel Feininger, the first faculty member of the famous Bauhaus group, give McIntyre’s verses the whimsical, kaleidoscopic vibrancy that they playfully demand, reminding us that poetry, like its sibling, song, is an art form that begs to be performed aloud, as the imagery converses with our souls in a universal language.

In her book, WEE RHYMES, author Jane Yolen presents an even richer rationale for poetic connectivity in her introduction, A Letter from Two Grandmothers:

“Rhymes are our earliest cultural artifacts.  Children who are given poetry early will have a fullness inside.  Mother Goose rhymes, baby verse – that kind of singsong, sing-along rhythm — is as important as a heartbeat.  Add pictures to them, and you have the whole early childhood package.  Just add the love.”

Which brings me to my concluding praise for Sunshine and Moonbeams: A Treasury of Poems and Prayers, a true chest full of original and archival verses for spiritual children of all ages.  These poems represent a fifteen year labor of love, achieved by two women who are earthly goddesses in their own right, as artists, cousins, daughters, and mother.  In faith, the very ribbon on this delightful poetic package comes from its original inspiration, the authors daughter, Emily Owenn McIntyre, now a creative artist on her own journey, which may have begun when, at four years old, she first wrote the verse that inspired this “treasury” in 1998 (see dedications):  Moonbeams, they glitter like stars!  Moonbeams, they shine on flowers!  Moonbeams, they sparkle on me! Sunshine and Moonbeams: A Treasury of Poems and Prayers is guaranteed to sparkle in the heart of every reader.  Available now on amazon.com.

Delightful Dandelions: Part 2–The Greens


Every Springtime, I look forward to the Delightful Dandelions to make their appearance.   For several years now, I have been foraging in my front and back yard for greens to add to salads, stir fry, and smoothies.  Recently I was telling an acquaintance of mine how I look forward to this foraging every year.  Her response?  “Are things really that bad financially for you?”  After I wiped the shocked look off my face, I explained how dandelions are a super food that just so happen to grow in abundance in my yard because I refuse to spray them with harmful pesticides.  I will definitely direct her to this article series. Part One gave a brief introduction to my love affair with the dandelion and some gardening tips In Part 2 –The Greens,  will discuss with you ,dear readers,  on the  foraging, preparation, and storage of Delightful Dandelions‘ greens.


Nutrition Facts And Health Benefits of The Delightful Dandelion

Dandelion health benefits

  • Dandelion greens, flowers, and roots contain valuable phytonutrients  that  have anti-oxidant and health promoting and disease prevention properties.
  • Greens have  just 45 calories per 100 g.  The greens are also good source of dietary fiber (provide about 9% of RDA per 100 g).
  • The  root as well as other plant parts contains compounds  Taraxacin (bitter glycosides that are used as a diuretic). Further, the root also contains inulin ( a natural storage carbohydrate) andLevulinic acid.  These two  compounds work together for various therapeutic properties of the dandelion.
  • Delightful Dandelion Greens provide  10161 IU of vitamin-A per 100 g, about 338% of daily-recommended intake, one of the highest source of vitamin-A among culinary herbs. Vitamin A is fat-soluble vitamin and anti-oxidant (required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes, skin and vision).
  • Greens are full of flavonoids such as carotene-β, carotene-α, lutein, cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin. Flavonoids are known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Dandelion Greens are  good source of  potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, magnesium, folic acid, riboflavin, pyridoxine, niacin, vitamin -E and vitamin-C .
  • Dandelion greens provide 58% of daily-recommended levels of vitamin-C.
  • Dandelion is probably the richest herbal sources of vitamin K; provides about 650% of DRI.




Dandelion Greens can be picked throughout the spring and summer.  Some people recommend picking the leaves of the Delightful Dandelions before the flowers open because the leaves are less bitter.  I personally like them either way.   Chose a spot that you know for certain hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides.  I like to bring my storage container with to put the greens in so I save a step when I rinse the leaves.  Since we share the earth with a number of beautiful creatures who also eat dandelions, take care not to clean out an entire area.




Dandelion Greens, like other greens and lettuces, store longer if not washed previously before refrigeration. They will last about a week to a week and a half in your crisper or the bottom shelf in your fridge.



Dandelion Greens and Eggs Recipe

2 cups foraged dandelion greens (rinsed)

5 organic mini bell peppers (sliced–about 3/4 cup)

1/2 small organic onion (chopped)

3 TBS Amish  salted butter

2 local eggs



1. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat.

2. Add the peppers and onions and cook until onions are all most translucent; then toss in the Dandelion Greens



3. Slide vegetables and greens aside and add the eggs.

4. Cook eggs to your liking and enjoy!

Recipe make 1-2 servings

300 calories/serving, 4 g carb,  29 g fat (could be less if you use and alternative oil or cooking spray, I just prefer butter),  7 g protein

More Delightful Dandelions’ Greens Recipes

Liver Tonic Smoothie

Grilled Brie, Fig Jam, and Dandelion Greens Sandwhich

Cauliflower and Dandelion Soup

Dandelion Pesto



Next week in our Delightful Dandelions series,  we will discuss that beautiful yellow flower!






Embracing My Inner Kitchen Witch

I am a full-fledged Kitchen Witch and proud of it!  Here are twenty ways I embrace my kitchen witchery:

1.I love the magic I can create with my hands when I am in the kitchen.  From simple suppers to fancy birthday cakes, I come alive when I am kitchen.

2. I love being in my backyard garden harvesting vegetables and herbs for dinner that night, I get so excited to get my seed catalog in the mail every year so I can begin to plan out the upcoming season.

3. I can pour over my collection of vintage Betty Crocker for hours, relishing in the kitschy dinner party ideas.

4.Baking is “my thing”, but I love the stove top just as much.

5.I have my gadgets and power tools.

6. I love sharing my love of cooking and gardening with my daughters and nieces and nephews.

7. I know the healing power of foods for the body and the soul.

8.  Have you seen my Pinterest page?

9. I write my own recipes and have fun modifying others.

10. I don’t cook professionally, but dream of owning a food truck.

11. I would rather cook at home than go out to eat.  Dining out is a rare occasion around my house.

12. I have been paid for my sweets before.

13. I am usually first to sign up to bring treats for bake sales.

14. I have drying herbs hanging from my dining room ceiling and a laundry basket full of spaghetti squash stored in my home office.

15.  I was a member of allrecipes.com before the Dinner Spinner app.

16. I meal plan to an extent but like to go with the flow too.

17. I can make a 5 course meal out of thin air.

18. I was in charge of coffee hour for two years at a local church before I got also got sick of being in charge of the dishes as well.

19.  I am not afraid to order gourmet foods off of Amazon.

20. I come from a long line of great cooks many of whom never cooked professionally either.

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