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  1. Sunday, May 31

    Week 436 Menu

    Hey everybody! We just got back from a hike with our kids and I’m finally sitting down to do some planning. I did cook last week, but not really anything from the menu. I think I was just trying to use up foods we already had. So, I have a few repeats from last week’s menu, sorry about that! That’s life!

    week 436 weekly menu from @janemaynard - includes FREE printable meal plan and shopping list!

    MONDAY:
    – Asian Spinach Salad

    TUESDAY:
    Caprese Paninis

    WEDNESDAY:
    Chili

    THURSDAY:
    – Food truck night at the kids’ school!

    FRIDAY:
    – Leftovers

    SATURDAY:
    Curried Coconut Soup

    SUNDAY:
    – Chicken Vindaloo (nothing fancy, I just got a simmer sauce at Costco)
    – Rice, Broccoli and Naan

    Click here for the free printable of this week’s menu plus the shopping list!

    Sharing time! Let’s see what you’ve got cookin’ this week! Remember, all menus welcome! Fancy, simple, month-long, week-long, gluten free, whatever!


  2. Friday, May 29

    Friday Show and Tell

    Happy Friday! It’s funny, usually weeks that start with a holiday feel short to me, but not this one…Friday couldn’t come soon enough! 😉

    virunga on netflix

    I know I can’t stop talking about Africa (which is a reflection of my mind, which cannot stop thinking about Africa), but I have to share a documentary with you. Joe Kraus from ONE recommended the movie Virunga while we were driving around the Malawian countryside. Nate and I watched it this week and it is so beautifully made and thought provoking I had to let you all know about it. So many of the issues that I witnessed in Malawi are explored in this film, with the added complication of the war that Congo is experiencing. I literally sobbed my way through the movie (fair warning!). The movie is streaming on Netflix. If you want to support Virunga National Park, click here. Also, this article on Huffington Post provides an excellent summary of the movie and what it’s all about.

    raspberry rhubarb sangria from @janemaynard

    Okay, food link time!

    That’s it! As usual, please share your own stuff! Just updates from your life, recipes you’ve found during the week, links to your own blog posts…anything goes!


  3. Thursday, May 28

    Strawberry Rhubarb Lemonade

    Summer is here! Well, sort of. Right now where we live it’s actually super cloudy, cool and misty every day. So, summer? Not so much. But if I do things like make lemonade then it will at least kinda sorta feel like summer, right?

    recipe for über flavorful strawberry rhubarb lemonade from @janemaynard

    Today I have an excellent use for the rhubarb simple syrup I shared with you last week: strawberry rhubarb lemonade. This über flavorful lemonade was a hit with every member of my family and we drank every drop. In fact, I made this last week to photograph then proceeded to wipe my camera’s memory card clean before downloading the photos. When I mentioned today that I had to remake the lemonade for photos, the kids and Nate alike were more than happy I was making more so soon and were glad that I made that mistake last week!

    recipe for über flavorful strawberry rhubarb lemonade from @janemaynardrecipe for über flavorful strawberry rhubarb lemonade from @janemaynard

    Strawberry Rhubarb Lemonade
     
    Prep time
    Total time
     
    Summer in a glass!
    Author:
    Serves: 6-8
    Ingredients
    Instructions
    1. Place 1 cup of the water and the strawberries in a blender. Blend until pulverized. POW!
    2. Mix together the strawberry puree with all the other ingredients in a large pitcher.
    3. Serve with lots of ice!

     


  4. Tuesday, May 26

    Snapshots from Malawi: Teach a Man and Woman to Farm and They’ll Eat Forever

    Over the last week, every time someone excitedly asks, “How was Africa?” I don’t know how to respond. There is no fast, small-talk response. “Amazing” pretty much covers it, but that word sounds trite and insincere. “Life changing” sounds clichéd, even though it’s completely true. On the other hand, “Malawi was wonderful and joyful and sad and informative and beautiful and heartbreaking and inspiring and frustrating and oh so much more” just doesn’t roll off the tongue quite like “amazing” or “life changing” does. As a writer and extrovert, I rarely find myself at a loss for words. But my thoughts and feelings about my trip to Malawi have rendered me speechless.

    snapshots from malawi: heifer goats by @janemaynardThe Mtika Family’s Goat Pen

    While I struggle for a good response in daily conversation, there are a few things I always find myself mentioning in these far-too-short conversations. One of those things is that organizations like Heifer International are doing truly transformative work and it’s because of the way they do it that the work is making such a difference. You know that phrase, “Give a man to fish and he’ll eat for a day; Teach him how to fish and he’ll eat forever”? THAT is what Heifer (and many others) are doing. And it works. I’ve seen firsthand that it works. People are eating every day because of what they have been taught.

    snapshots from malawi: the mtika family by @janemaynardThe Mtika Family

    Our first stop on the trip was at the home of the Mtika family. They live in a small village in the northern part of Malawi and have been working with Heifer for 4 years. Mr. Mtika is a lead farmer, meaning he helps train others in his community with the skills he has acquired through Heifer. I learned so much from Mr. and Mrs. Mtika, both about life in Malawi and about how Heifer works. The thing that stood out most to me, however, was their gratitude for being able to feed their children. When asked how Heifer has changed their lives, they responded that their children no longer go to bed hungry.

    snapshots from malawi: mtika family by @janemaynard

    snapshots from malawi: mr. mtika by @janemaynard

    Here’s the thing about Malawi. Poverty is everywhere. Poverty is the rule, not the exception, and the scale is mindboggling. We learned that for a diet to be considered nutritionally balanced, the goal is to get 6 foods into the daily diet. Malawians on average get only 4.3 foods. FOUR foods make up their ENTIRE diet. Even my most basic recipes have more than 4 ingredients. And, for that matter, the targeted 6 is still meager. These numbers were sobering to say the least.

    snapshots from malawi: cooking oven by @janemaynardThis is Rosie Bamoye, one of Mr. Mtika’s neighbors. She is fake cooking for the camera because she’s a good sport like that. These handmade ovens have improved the ability of these families to cook, including requiring 1/3 of the wood they used to need to cook. Rosie told us that she is herself transitioning from poverty to prosperity because of her goats that were passed on to her by Mr. Mtika. She has since passed goats on to others.

    As a food writer I was excited to try Malawian food. I learned quickly on our arrival that there really isn’t much traditional Malawian food to try. When people would find out I was a food writer they would excitedly ask, “Have you had nsima?” Nsima is a porridge-like food made with corn and water. That’s it. Corn. Water. For the duration of the trip I made sure to eat nsima at every meal where it was served.

    snapshots from malawi: cooking nsima by @janemaynardDorothy Mtika (11) making nsima in the family’s improved kitchen space.

    Gin and tonics are especially popular in Malawi. But even that seemingly fun fact was in reality a sobering discovery – tonic water contains quinine, an antimalarial ingredient. Bottom line: food and drink are quite simply about survival for most people in Malawi.

    snapshots from malawi by @janemaynard

    While visiting the Mtika’s village, a little girl in a grey dress was walking alongside me for quite some time. She had a bright smile that was never ending. I finally stopped to ask if she wanted her picture taken, which she did. Funny enough she would never smile for the camera like she did in person, but she still loved looking at herself on the small camera screen. After the photo she asked me something that I could not understand. I grabbed one of our drivers, who was able to translate.

    “Do you have a water bottle I can have?” was her question.

    I did in fact have one and readily handed it over. The driver was curious as to why this is what she asked for, so he asked her why she wanted it.

    “We use it so we can have lunch at school. We put maize in the bottle and add a little water. By lunchtime the maize is softened and that is what I eat.”

    Oh, this sweet girl. My heart just about burst.

    The driver and I asked her if she would take one more photo, this time holding her bottle. After much prodding we were able to get this one, joyful, smiley shot.

    snapshots from malawi by @janemaynard

    During our time in Malawi we did have delicious food, including fried chambo (a fish from Lake Malawi) and tons of Nali Peri-Peri sauce. I actually came home with 6 bottles of Nali because, apparently, I am crazy for African hot sauce.

    snapshots from malawi: fried chambo by @janemaynard

    snapshots from malawi: nali peri-peri sauce

    Needless to say all that I observed and learned about food in Malawi has been constantly on my mind. It has certainly made me even more grateful than I already was for what I have. And I can honestly say that making my daughters’ lunches each morning has transformed from a chore to an honor.

    And, when I start to feel emotionally overwhelmed thinking about food in Malawi, I think of the Mtikas and the many other farmers we met. Given the right resources and know-how they have been able to turn their lives around. These parents are now able to feed their families thanks to their own skills and abilities. It is a beautiful thing and is the key to having food “forever.”

    I traveled to Malawi as an expense-paid guest of The ONE Campaign (www.one.org) and Heifer International (www.heifer.org). We visited to see the economic progress—and the lives changed—made possible by U.S.-funded programs and Heifer International’s donor-supported programs.

    ONE is a campaigning and advocacy organization of more than 6 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. Not politically partisan, ONE raises public awareness and presses political leaders to combat AIDS and preventable diseases, increase investments in agriculture and nutrition, and demand greater transparency in poverty-fighting programs. ONE is not a grant-making organization and does not solicit funding from the public or receive government funding.

    Heifer International’s mission is to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth. For more than 70 years, Heifer International has provided livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of those who struggle daily for reliable sources of food and income. Heifer is currently working in more than 30 countries, including the United States, to help families and communities become more self-reliant.


  5. Sunday, May 24

    Week 435 Menu

    I simply cannot believe I have been home from Malawi for a week already. Time flies! I prepared a few menus before I left on that trip, but those have all run out and it’s time to get planning again!

    week 435 weekly menu from @janemaynard including FREE printable meal plan and shopping list!

    MONDAY:
    – Happy Memorial Day! Cookout on the grill (hot dogs, hamburgers, the usual)

    TUESDAY:
    – Busy night, so leftovers/cereal/whatever we can scrounge up

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Asian Spinach Salad

    THURSDAY:
    Caprese Paninis

    FRIDAY:
    Chili

    SATURDAY:
    – Takeout night

    SUNDAY:
    – Leftovers

    Click here for the free printable of this week’s menu plus the shopping list!

    As always, THANK YOU for sharing your menus! Keep it coming!


  6. Friday, May 22

    Friday Show and Tell

    Happy Friday! Hope you had a good week. Mine was okay. It was actually kind of rough coming off of Malawi – I was pretty emotional all week. But whenever I looked at these photos of Allison (from Heifer International) and I jumping in Lake Malawi, it made me happy!

    jumping into lake malawi from @janemaynardPhoto credit: Karen Walrond

    Just two food links for you this week!

    On Babble:

    On Parade’s Community Table:

    You know the drill – share your stuff! And have a great weekend!


  7. Thursday, May 21

    Rhubarb Simple Syrup

    I’m back in the kitchen! Yay! Today I have a fun seasonal recipe for you – rhubarb simple syrup!

    rhubarb simple syrup from @janemaynard

    Whether or not you like rhubarb you’ll like this syrup. With all the sugar involved it is anything but tart, and it adds a nice, subtle flavor twist to lemonades, punches, cocktails and more. You could even just drizzle a bit over ice cream or plain yogurt!

    rhubarb for simple syrup by @janemaynardrhubarb for simple syrup by @janemaynard

    I will have a recipe on Babble soon for Raspberry Rhubarb Sangria (including a alcohol-free version) that I will for sure share a link to when it goes live, and next week I just might have a Strawberry Rhubarb Lemonade recipe for you, too. (Okay, I do, but you have to wait!)

    rhubarb simple syrup by @janemaynard

    Rhubarb Simple Syrup
     
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
     
    Perfect for flavoring drinks of all kinds!
    Author:
    Serves: ~9 ounces
    Ingredients
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 cup chopped fresh rhubarb, ½" pieces (about 2 stalks)
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (optional)
    Instructions
    1. Combine sugar, water and rhubarb in a medium pot. Bring to a boil over high heat.
    2. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer mixture for 25 minutes.
    3. Strain mixture though a fine mesh sieve.
    4. Store in the refrigerator. Makes a little more than 1 cup of syrup.

     


  8. Tuesday, May 19

    Snapshots from Malawi: You Came and Held Our Hands to Bring Us Where We Are

    I don’t even know where to begin in telling you about my trip to Malawi. The trip was educational and fun, inspiring and disheartening, energizing and exhausting – it was basically all of the emotions stuffed into one week and I’m still kind of reeling from it all. I am planning to do a series of posts called Snapshots from Malawi over the next several months because that is the only way I can even begin to do justice to the stories from the trip.

    snapshots of malawi: gomani village | by @janemayanrdThe village of Gomani

    One of the main focuses of our trip was visiting with farmers who work with Heifer International. Luiza Mzungu, a 47-year-old widow from the village of Gomani, was one of those farmers. I will share more of her story with you in a future post, but she shared a phrase that resonated with me on many levels and is, I believe, the perfect way to begin this series of blog posts.

    snapshots from malawi: farmer luiza mzungu | from @janemaynardLuiza Mzungu

    As Luiza was talking with us about her cows and her life she said, “You came and held our hands to bring us where we are.” At the conclusion of that sentence, Luiza and her neighbors began to cheer and yell with joy. 

    Luiza is right. Heifer did come to Malawi and held her hand, guiding her to greater economic independence and a better life for her family. But the hand holding is not a one-way action. The Malawians we met wholeheartedly welcomed our group to their villages and not only held our hands but grasped them firmly. These people held our hands, looked us in the eye and shared their sorrows and their joys, their challenges and their hopes. They held our hands and taught us things we could never have learned any other way. They held our hands and proved that the world is indeed small. They held our hands and brought us to where we are today.

    snapshots of malawi: welcome to gomani village | by @janemaynardThe Gomani Village Welcome Wagon. Much more interesting than a basket of blueberry muffins.

    Our first night in Malawi was near the capital of Lilongwe, on the outskirts of town. As I lie in bed that night, the quiet was striking. The silence gave me a chance to ponder and wonder about what was coming that week. As morning arrived, the sounds of birds and roosters began to fill the air and I was ready to go! Honestly, looking back on that night and morning, I had no idea what I was getting into or just how profound the week would be. Sure, in theory I knew it would be a “life-changing” trip. But I didn’t know I would hold so many hands. Those hands have led me to a new place and I look forward to grasping your hands to bring you on this journey, too.

    I traveled to Malawi as an expense-paid guest of The ONE Campaign (www.one.org) and Heifer International (www.heifer.org). We visited to see the economic progress—and the lives changed—made possible by U.S.-funded programs and Heifer International’s donor-supported programs.

    ONE is a campaigning and advocacy organization of more than 6 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. Not politically partisan, ONE raises public awareness and presses political leaders to combat AIDS and preventable diseases, increase investments in agriculture and nutrition, and demand greater transparency in poverty-fighting programs. ONE is not a grant-making organization and does not solicit funding from the public or receive government funding.

    Heifer International’s mission is to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth. For more than 70 years, Heifer International has provided livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of those who struggle daily for reliable sources of food and income. Heifer is currently working in more than 30 countries, including the United States, to help families and communities become more self-reliant.


  9. Sunday, May 17

    Week 434 Menu

    Happy Sunday! Today is the day I get home from Malawi, but knowing I will be a zombie (yay for jet lag!), I actually put this menu together two weeks ago. I think I’ll be very happy with myself tonight when I don’t have to think about menu planning and can just go to bed. I picked lots of easy meals to ease back into real life.

    week #434 weekly menu from @janemaynard including FREE printable meal plan and shopping list!

    MONDAY:
    Sausage, Pepper and Onion Subs
    – Fruit and chips

    TUESDAY:
    – Mac & Cheese (the yummy Trader Joe’s kind from the freezer section)
    – Salad

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Pancakes
    – Fruit salad

    THURSDAY:
    Chicken Caesar Wraps
    – Chips

    FRIDAY:
    – Eat out night

    SATURDAY:
    – Hamburgers on the grill
    – Fresh raw veggies

    SUNDAY:
    – Leftovers

    Click here for the free printable of this week’s menu plus the shopping list!

    Can’t wait to see what you’ve got cooking this week, please share!


  10. Friday, May 15

    Friday Show and Tell: Farewell to Malawi

    Hello Friends! Today is my last day in Malawi and I’m about to head off to the farewell dinner. As I expected the week has flown by and I have seen so many beautiful parts of this country, met so many of its wonderful people and learned so many things about the challenges Malawi faces. You better believe I’ll be writing a whole bunch of posts in the coming weeks.

    a visit to lake malawi by @janemaynard

    The Internet has been very spotty all week, so I didn’t end up doing blog posts like I had planned. But I did keep Instagram updated, so if you haven’t been following over there, please be sure to check out the videos and photos I’ve been posting. They are among some of my favorite images ever.

    See you in the U.S. on Sunday! Have a wonderful weekend!

    Oh, and, OF COURSE feel free to share stuff for Show and Tell!