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Family Matters: Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with the Taste of Food


Hispanics love celebrations! One of the best times to celebrate their heritage and history is Hispanic Heritage Month. During National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15), companies can recognize the contributions and the important presence of the Hispanic community in this country. The Hispanic culture has had a profound and positive influence in the United States through their strong commitment to family, faith, hard work, service and food.

Naturally when we think about this holiday, we think about food. Hispanic food is one of the most celebrated cuisines in the world, and it typically provides the opportunity for families to get together and pass along their traditions. One of the customs of Hispanic Heritage Month is simply eating and cooking their favorite Hispanic dishes, such as mole, tamales, ceviche, quesadillas, enchiladas, tacos and tortillas…so many delicious choices!

When it comes to Hispanic food, there are so many different alternatives to choose from. Every Hispanic country and Mexican region has its own typical foods, drinks and cooking styles. This makes it fascinating and exciting for food lovers with all of those choices.

Hispanic cuisine influences come from all over the world, including Europe, Asia, the Caribbean and indigenous cultures. Some of the dishes, like tortillas and tamales, are made out of corn. The ingredients or spices used while cooking also play an important role. They are used slightly differently from region–to-region and country-to-country to give salsas, marinades and other sauces a distinct or unique flavor.

Most Hispanics view food as an extension of their culture, an extension of family’s love and tradition passed from one generation to another. It’s a smell or a particular taste that reminds you about a special time in your life. It is history and memories!

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Family Matters: Twice the Fun


Last week, my twin daughters turned 14 and decided they wanted to decorate their own cake for their birthday. I make cakes for family parties and have the decorating tips and coloring, so they have watched me prepare cakes for years. I was excited they wanted to decorate their own cake, knowing this would save me hours of work…nice break! I baked a large cake, mixed their desired colors of icing and let them go. 

First came a long discussion of what each was doing on “their side” of the cake. They wanted to make sure whatever the other one was doing would not make their side look bad. A line was then drawn across the center to mark boundaries. Now, picture two teenage girls in the kitchen working beside each other for hours…not all fun and games. Immediate frustration came from them both trying to decorate at the exact same time and needing to turn the cake closer to them. This was followed by the critical evaluation of the other’s decorating skills (and impact it was having on their side). I finally decided that mowing the lawn would be a good escape from the kitchen trials.

The funny thing is that after it was all said and done, the cake looked great. Apparently,  they actually learned something from watching mom over the years. They worked together to accomplish a task and realized how much hard work, time and effort it takes, and according to both, their back and feet were throbbing (all along I thought it was my old age!). They have never volunteered to help me on a cake, and I am pretty sure after doing their own, that will still be the case!  We laughed as we listened to them tell their friends at the party how much fun it was to decorate. Even after all the drama, the end results brought much joy and trials were soon forgotten. The next life lesson will be how to clean up the kitchen after you get through decorating a cake! 

Homemade Cake Icing

Ingredients:
1 Crisco Stick
2 Food Club Butter Sticks
2 tsp vanilla
3-4 Tbsp  milk
1 bag powdered sugar (sifted)

Directions:
Mix Crisco, butter and vanilla well, and then slowly add sifted powdered sugar. Add milk one tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency.   

Schedule a time to try this icing and encourage your kids to work together to decorate a cake of their own – life lessons learned. Count your blessings daily, and give thanks to the Lord for the time you share with your family. It “bakes” a difference!      

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Family Matters: Pets


A few years ago, I got a box in the mail that was labeled “Living Contents. Open Immediately.” 

Intrigued (and thankful I was home at the time of delivery), I ripped into the box. 

Inside was the most wonderful gift!

My mom had sent my boys a “Grow-A-Frog” kit. Along with a clear plastic aquarium, a lid and special food, there was a baggie of two tiny tadpoles. 

The boys wanted to get started immediately, so we carefully rinsed the aquarium and set it up to be the tadpoles’ new home.

Over the next months, we watched the tadpoles develop into frogs. We saw them grow tiny legs, develop a distinct head, lose their “tails” and finally morph into two good-sized frogs!

We eventually found new homes for the frogs in a friend’s pond, but then we ordered new tadpoles and repeated the process.

The joy of the pet tadpoles came in the daily discovery and the renewed wonder in my boys’ eyes each day. It’s definitely one of the best gifts we’ve ever received.



Family Matters: The Beach T-Shirt Tradition


Every year, my family congregates at the beach. In addition to other traditions we hold sacred, all of the kids make an annual beach T-shirt to commemorate the vacation.

One year, the shirts were lime green with the year written on the breast pocket in Roman numerals. Another year, they were light blue with a skull and crossbones in homage to our annual “pirate scavenger hunt.”

The kids often decorate their own shirts. A few years ago, they used puffy fabric paints to detail fish on the front of their white T-shirts. We learned quickly that children really love decorating with large clumps of puffy paint that take days (and days and days) to dry.

Last year, the kids tried a new technique. They drew on the front of their shirts with permanent markers, then used a medicine dropper to drop small amounts of rubbing alcohol on the ink. The ink spread, almost like a tie-dye pattern. They were lovely!

This year, each kid received a bright orange T-shirt already emblazed with a superhero-esque styling of their initials on the front. The Man of Steel has nothing on CP, LP, JB, RB, GB, BH, CH and BB! My son Luke decorated his with thunderbolts. My nephew Greycen, who also answers to “Thor” this year, drew hammers on every available surface of his shirt. Claire, the only niece, got almost exclusive use of the purple, pink and silver fabric markers.

Throughout the week, the kids wear their T-shirts. Here’s to hoping we get them all in clean shirts, in one place at one time, for a picture. 

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Family Matters: Snacks Rule in the Toddler World!


You don’t have to keep resorting to the same old, same old. Break out of the snack rut and help your toddler learn new foods.

Some fun toddler snacks include cucumber slices, cheese sticks or cubes, peanut butter on mini waffles, zucchini bread, dried fruits and vegetables, tofu, whole grain cereals, quesadillas, yogurt, eggs in a pita, baked sweet potato  fries, kale chips, hummus with veggies, pasta (cold or warm), yogurt and fruit smoothies, graham crackers, homemade fruit leathers or granola, unsweetened applesauce and meats cut into bite-sized pieces.

TIP 13-36 months: Sometimes a simple “no” is best. Explaining, rationalizing and giving choices about good and bad behavior is appropriate for an older child, but if your toddler is doing something wrong, sometimes “no” is more effective.



Family Matters: Stacking Toys


At this point in life, baby is sitting up pretty well (maybe with help at the 6-month mark and like a champ by 12 months) and likes to play!

Use stacking toys for baby at this stage of development to teach many different skills.

Stacking toys promotes gross and fine motor skills.

They teach organization as you can stack by size or color.

Use stacking toys to introduce other simple words and descriptions, like yellow or red, big and little, or top and bottom. You can also use these toys to reinforce understanding of cause and effect.

Of course, you can also make the stack topple at the end! Everyone loves a good mess.

TIP 7-12 months: Don’t forget to introduce foods like mango, kiwi and lentils into your baby’s diet. Don’t be discouraged if they don’t like it at first; some foods have to be presented up to 10 times before a little one takes to it.



Family Matters: Tummy Time


Starting when baby is very tiny, it’s good for them to get supervised tummy time! Putting junior on his belly on a soft blanket helps him develop both physically and mentally, according to experts.

Tummy time helps strengthen baby’s neck and upper back muscles as they try to turn their head, look around and reach for toys, reducing the risk of SIDS because he can move his head away from objects blocking his airway.

When you first start tummy time, baby won’t be able to do much but attempt to move his head from side to side and maybe look up. However, it gives him a different view of the world than being on his back. Spending time on his tummy also helps prevent the flat spots many young ones develop on the back of their heads from always lying in that position.

Start tummy time right after birth, at least once a day, for about five minutes at a time and work up as your baby develops. Don’t push them. If baby is screaming, roll him back over to his back. Only go for as long as baby can tolerate it. You might want to wait until after their umbilical cord stump has fallen off, though, as that can cause some discomfort.

Soon, they’ll turn themselves onto their tummy to play. I had a textured blanket that we used for tummy time. It had bumpy fabric, silky fabric, ribbons and ties that my boys could feel and grasp for.

TIP 0-6 months: Sweet potatoes are a wonderful first food for baby. Buy organic sweet potatoes at Brookshire’s, bake them until soft, puree with a bit of formula or water and voila, a perfect meal for baby!



Family Matters: Kraft Recipe Makers


I sit here writing this on about four hours of sleep. My sixth-grader caused me some major worry last night and I couldn’t get settled. Plus, my fourth-grader was leaving for camp this morning, and I knew we had to be up and at ‘em early. It’s raining and my full-time job has been hectic, as it is most days.

But, I know you, reading this, have NEVER been tired, worried, harried and bummed out all at the same time.

(SHE SAYS, LAUGHING SARCASTICALLY.)

Ha-ha, right? We’ve all been there- Some days more than others.

That’s where Kraft Recipe Makers come in. When you’re at the end of your rope (and even when you’re not), you can feel good about putting a nutritious, delicious meal on the table for your family with little effort and maximum comfort.

It’s quite simple; I can even do this math.

Take the Kraft Recipe Maker, add a few other ingredients and you have dinner. Voila! “Kraft Recipe Makers give you a jumpstart to a variety of fresh, home-cooked meals,”  according tothe Kraft website. “Each provides a recipe developed by our chefs, along with 2 carefully selected sauces that work together to provide layers of flavor. Just add your own fresh ingredients and follow the four-step recipe for a delicious dish your family will love.”

For the skillet, choose from sweet and sour chicken, chicken bruschetta pasta, beefy burritos, and sweet and sour meatballs, plus many more.

For the oven, choose from Asian fish tacos, Verde chicken enchiladas, Florentine stuffed chicken breasts and more.

Don’t forget the slow cooker, a personal favorite of mine. Try hickory barbecue beef, beef stroganoff, Tuscan stuffed flank steak and more.

Found on the shelf at your local Brookshire’s, Kraft Recipe Makers make dinner a breeze.

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Family Matters: Hand-Me-Downs


I don’t know about your family, but our kids love to get “hand-me-downs.” It is getting new things without the hassle of shopping and it costs nothing…what could be better! When we get a bag of hand-me-downs from a friend, our girls put it in the middle of our living room and tear through the bag to see what fits and what looks good on them, and then they claim it as their own. Of course in a house where three of the girls wear the same size clothes, nothing is really ever your own, but it feels good at the moment to think it is all yours!

Our family takes all of our hand-me-downs to a local clothes closet that benefits less fortunate families.  We can take clothes, shoes, toys or anything that is still in good shape and donate it to be used for the good of others. We have a saying at our house: “Your hand-me-downs can raise someone else up.” This means that something we can no longer use or wear can be given to someone who is in need, and it will bring them comfort and a sense of joy. What is more rewarding than knowing you are helping others by just giving — something that cost you nothing? 

Don’t throw good, used clothing away for there is always someone who can benefit from items that your kids have outgrown. If you can’t find a local charity that takes used clothing, I promise there is some friend with kids that would love to have them, just ask. Rule of thumb: don’t donate items that have holes in them or stains (things that your kids would not wear).  When you want to raise someone else up, make your hand-me-downs something they will be proud to wear. A great time to do this is right before your kids go back to school. If they are like mine, they grow out of everything by the next school year. Clothes and shoes are expensive so this is a great way to teach your kids how to give to others.

Count your blessings daily, and give thanks to the Lord for the time you have to share with your family and the opportunities you have to raise others up!



Family Matters: Pets


Summertime poses a pet problem you might have not considered: water.

Yep, I said “water.”

I’m not talking about the kind you pour into their bowls from the tap, but the kind lurking in all other kinds of summer situations, particularly salt water and pool water.

If your pooch likes to play in the surf at the beach, keep a careful eye on him. Salt water can be toxic to pets. Sure, they’ll lap at the water, but they don’t know that excessive salt water intake can result in severe hypernatremia, or salt poisoning.

The first signs of hypernatremia include vomiting and diarrhea, but the condition can progress quickly to neurological impairment with physical incoordination, seizures, depression and, ultimately, brain swelling. It can be treated with IV fluids at the vet’s office.

To avoid the problem all together, designate a bottle (jug!) of fresh water for your dog to enjoy at the beach. Whenever you hydrate, make sure he hydrates, too.

The other danger comes from your backyard pool. Well, the chemicals to be exact. Algaecides and chlorine shock water treatment products are generally safe once these chemicals are diluted appropriately (i.e. in the pool water), but when undiluted, pool chemicals can quickly be fatal to your pet. Corrosive chemicals can result in severe ulcers in your pet’s mouth, esophagus and stomach, and they can ultimately cause holes in the GI tract. Always store your pool chemicals and cleaners in a locked closet that your pet cannot access.

Always have fresh water available at all times for your pet, too.



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The products mentioned in “Share, the Brookshire’s Blog” are sold by Brookshire Grocery Company, DBA Brookshire’s . Some products may be mentioned as part of a relationship between its manufacturer and Brookshire’s.

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