Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Jennifer vs. The Grinch

The Grinch had been sitting so snidely at the bottom of one of my Pinterest boards, reminding me for 360 days that he had outbested me...well, outbested my time restraints anyway. Making a Grinch after Christmas just wasn't that compelling so I sneered back at it until Christmas Day itself, 2012.

I'd read the instructions last year (click the photo for the original source), mostly to find out what those weird eyes were made of, but didn't follow any directions this time, just stared at the picture a lot instead.

This picture:

Here is my version of the way to make a kiwi Grinch  a.k.a. the method to my madness:

Step 1: Cut the ends off the kiwi. The tough stem gives a bit of a fight so it needed to be cut around and pried out. Save the ends for later.

Step 2: Carefully peel the kiwi as smoothly with a small, sharp paring knife, saving as much of the fruit as possible. Save the peel for later.

Step 3: Carve the Grinchy sneer and his philtrum. (Yes, philtrum is another new word for me.  It's that divet-type spot between your nose and top lip.) A sharp little paring knife did the trick quite nicely!

Step 4: Take the cut-off end of the kiwi and carve out a small sphere or ovoid for the Grinch's nose. Push it into the top of or just above the philtrum.

Step 5: So...did you know that kiwis are very slippery little devils to work with? I really got a first-hand understanding of why those Jell-O boxes have reminded us for years NOT to include fresh pineapple or kiwi if mixing fruit into a gelatin dessert. The eyes were made from rolled Laffy Taffy with pupils drawn with edible markers. I assumed these would stick compliantly to the kiwi. Not so. They were sliiiiiiiiiiding down said fruit. This made it necessary to carve niches for the eyes to set into. Grrr, Mr. Grinch...

Step 6: Take a strip of kiwi peel and cut two long, thin eyebrows. Apply these to kiwi, above the eyes. Fortunately for Mr. Grinch, these did not require extra help staying put; I was ready to get out a mallet by the end of Step 5, let me tell you...

Step 7: Pick some mini marshmallows with which to make the puffy edge of the hat. Did you know that mini marshies come in lots of different sizes?! I had to pour them out and search out the skinniest, flattest of the lot. Unlike the eyebrows, the marshmallows did not stick on. Nor did they line up as nicely as the photo I was trying every-so-patiently to follow. More growling...

Step 8:  Wash a conical strawberry, trim of the stem end and the trip to make a nice Santa hat.  The berry joined the alliance of the eyes and the marshmallows and refused to stick to the kiwi.  I stomped around the island to get some rounded toothpicks.  With a not-so-gentle stab, on went the strawberry.  I'm a mean one, Mr. Grinch!  The marshmallow pom-pom did not give me much trouble about sticking to the end of the red fruit after witnessing the recent act of revenge.

I had purchased seven kiwis, one for each pre-teen attending our celebration. However, by the time I'd made three of the darned Grinches, I felt too grinchy to make another four.

Meet the triplets:

I'm not proud to admit my annoyance with the Grinches.  It had become personal.  When the youngest guest asked if he could eat one, I was more than happy to oblige.
And then Jacob himself, he carved the host's beast!
My thanks go to to Jacob for bringing humour to the situation, to my friends for the compliments on the photo I sent to my Facebook page, and to you for coming to the formerly agitated island.  I can laugh about it now. :-)

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Sing: "I'm Eatin' Veggies...For Christmas..."

"I'm eatin' veggies for Christmas.
Too much of the rich stuff is bad
I'm eatin' veggies for Christmas
'Cause fibre makes one's colon feel glad."
I continue with my third installment about December's activities at my island.  As I stated in the last post, I did make a few healthy offerings this Christmas and former ones.  One might try to or wish to live by bread or chocolate alone but variety is a good thing, too!

Red-White-And-Green Veggie Tray

A new dish for this year was a red-white-and-green veggie tray inspired by one I saw on Pinterest. My pickings were:

  • red = red pepper strips and should have included cherry or grape tomatoes (note to self: look closely at the Pinterest photo on my phone while AT the grocery store!)
  • white = cauliflower, bottom end of green onions (a.k.a. scallions - an afterthought so not shown below!) and lo bok (a.k.a. daikon or Chinese turnip) sticks
  • green = broccoli flowerettes, green pepper strips, celery sticks, top halves of the green onions, snow peas, and cucumber slices I prettied up by scoring the length of the cucumber's skin

The presentation I'd seen showed a martini glass filled with dip, the glass surrounded by the vegetables. I didn't have my favorite dip recipe for Dilly Dip from my parents' cookbook so I made up my own, trying to healthify it a bit.

  • For the base, I used a third each of plain Greek yogurt, light mayo, and light sour cream, that being 2/3 cup each. If using the thick Greek yogurt (plus mine was very low fat), it will need overnight for the texture to smooth out.
  • I chopped up a LOT of fresh dill - I just kept chopping and adding it...perhaps 3 tablespoons / 45 mL for the 2 cups / 500 mL of base.
  • I also put in 1/2 to 1 tsp. / 2.5-5 mL dried minced onion.
  • I think my original recipe might have had dried parsely flakes and a bit of seasoning salt but I didn't include these ingredients this time. You can do an internet search for Dilly Dip to find it; the one I found was on a message board for Plenty of Fish dating website so I'll leave it up to you if you'd like to go there for the recipe!
What do you think?


I figure that a similar arrangement with white and red vegetables might catch the eyes of the little ones on Valentine's Day.  Other foods of these colors which are more common and palatable to most are mushrooms and radish halves.  For St. Patrick's Day, one could keep the whites and greens and perhaps add said mushrooms, zucchini sticks or rounds, turnip sticks, and broccoflower, or choose a rainbow of colors.  Click here to visit my Lunch Love Part III: Veggie-licious entry to see the beauty of the latter!


Crunchy Christmas Tree

Another way we have displayed vegetables for Christmas was like a decorated tree. In case you are new to the blog and didn't see this earlier, here is my daughter's original creation from a few holidays back:


Cranberry Stuffed-Celery

At my school, the staff take turns supplying snacks for monthly meetings and PD activities.  I got the idea for this tasty celery snack from the Kraft website.  The recipe is called Creamy Cranberry-Stuffed Celery and is simply dried cranberries mixed into lower-fat Philadelphia cream cheese, then spread (read: jostled as neatly as possible) into celery ribs.  A helpful hint is to pick stalks with an opening at least as wide as your pinkie as the dried cranberries and cream cheese need more room than you'd think!  After spreading the mixture on the ribs, I cut them into snack-sized lengths.  The staff really enjoyed them.
On one occasion near Christmas when I was asked to bring a snack for a youth group, I toasted some sliced almonds, chopped them up a bit, and pressed them on top of half of the sticks.  Then I thought up a festive arrangement for them and this was the result:
The other healthy-ish creation I made this year was meant to be for Christmas 2011 but I'd run out of time. Stayed tuned for the story of "Jennifer Vs. The Grinch," coming very soon!

Thanks for crunching by my island and a very happy, healthy 2013 to you.