Slow Cookin’

Our oven has been on the fritz for the last six months, turning off unannounced,
sounding alarms every other time when we cooked, not maintaining its temperature
well, and waking us with alarms(when it was off) in the middle of the night. We
finally gave it up and ordered a new one, but this meant about three weeks
without a stove or oven. The delivery guy who came to pick up our old oven
commented, “Pizza, eh?” but we took this as a challenge and made it all three
weeks without ordering pizza. My best friend all the while? Our slow cooker.

Slow cookers maintain a low baking temperature that radiates through a ceramic
dish. They’ve gained notoriety as chili vessels and make appearances at
potlucks to keep things warm.

We had only used our slow cooker every now and then, and had learned the hard
way that you really couldn’t speed meals along with it. But in the last three
weeks, we have learned that it is very forgiving (cooking a 6-hour recipe for
ten hours is generally no big deal) and brings out great complexity in very
simple ingredients. I set up the cooker now after the kids go to bed, and we
have fresh oatmeal with cinnamon and plump dried fruit for breakfast. After
breakfast, I chop veggies, meat, and toss in some broth, salsa, or sauce, and we
have soup, “stir fry,” wonderful shredded meat for sandwiches or tacos, or
perfectly tender casseroles by dinner. The only thing that failed miserably was
paella (the rice cooker would have been a smarter choice).

So why mention this in a Stroller Hikes e-mail? Because a slow cooker can
easily be a parent’s best friend by liberating the afternoon rush, as dinner
will be ready when you are, and that means more time for friends and exercise,
like on a hike, run, or bike ride. This next week launches us into holiday
party eating, when we’re prone to eat too much of the things we should probably
eat in moderation, so consider dusting the cobwebs off of your slow cooker and
dumping in vegetables, broth, and herbs for a healthy, fresh soup. (If you know
you’ll give in to temptation too much this season, you can always plan to come
out for more hikes or for some killer workouts like the FREE one provided by
Baby Boot Camp on January 14th.)

This week will mark the end of Thursday Toddler Treks for the season – we had a
wonderful, but rather dark trek back from the Big Oak Tree Swing last week, but
even though the toddlers love the flashlights, it’s just too dark to be safe.
This week we’ll have a “Turkey Trek” at Fremont Older in Saratoga/Cupertino,
where we’ve hiked on Thanksgiving morning every year. After this, we’ll still
hold events on Thursday – bring on the crafts! Come help break in our new oven
with holiday treat making on December 2nd, with plenty to do and taste for
little ones. Check out http://www.strollerhikes.com/Events.php for a preview of
other December Toddler Crafts in lieu of Toddler Treks. All are welcome, and as
with all of our events, everything will be free.

Here are this week’s events:

Monday, November 22nd at 11 am join Amy B. and her wee ones for a hike and
picnic at Shoreline Park in Mountain View/Palo Alto at 3070 N. Shoreline Blvd.
The trail is paved, so it’s great for all strollers or kid carriers. Meet at the
lake next to where the sailboats are kept (to the right of the cafe / bathrooms
building) in Shoreline Park. There are plenty of play structures and a beach for
toddlers – we’ll stop to play after the hike! Sorry, no dogs allowed. Bring a
picnic for your family. For information about the park and directions, see
Shoreline Park Page
(http://www.strollerhikes.com/Hikes/Shoreline/Shoreline.html) and Emily
Renzel/Byxbee Page (http://www.strollerhikes.com/Hikes/Byxbee/Byxbee.html). If
you’re running late, call Amy at 408-368-7161.

Tuesday, November 23rd at 4 pm hike has been cancelled.

Wednesday, November 24th at 10 am Pippa and Ruth will lead a Toddler Trek in
Sharon Park in Menlo Park. We’ll do a slow-paced loop of the lovely lake and
look for fishes. Toddlers will be encouraged to walk, but if you want to bring
transport any stroller/trike/wagon will work as the path is all paved. Meet at
the playground near the parking lot; see this Google Map
(http://maps.google.com/maps?q=sharon+park,+menlo+park&hl=en&cd=1&ei=nbDHTKvZLoi\
IsQP-2Y29Bw&sll=37.423878,-122.209013&sspn=0.021267,0.038418&ie=UTF8&view=map&ci\
d=14444930878651934401&ved=0CFUQpQY&hq=sharon+park,+menlo+park&hnear=&ll=37.4240\
26,-122.209253&spn=0.005393,0.011362&z=17&iwloc=A
). Call Pippa at 510-621-7471
if you are running late.

Thursday, November 25th at 8:30 am – Different Time!- let’s do a Turkey Trot of
our own, Toddler Trek style, up to Hunter’s Point at Fremont Older in
Saratoga/Cupertino. You’ll be done with plenty of time to put the turkey in the
oven. We’ll encourage toddlers to walk, run, and explore, and visit the “ruins”
by the creek, before heading up to a viewpoint to see the rolling grassland and
the valley below. Non-walking children should ride in backpacks or carriers.
We’ll talk about seeds, with grasses as examples, and notice how seeds hitch a
ride on socks with special adaptations. Dogs welcome. For more information about
the area and directions, see Fremont Older Page
(http://www.strollerhikes.com/Hikes/FremontOlder/FremontOlder.html). Meet at the
Prospect Road parking lot. Call Debbie at 650-776-1082 if you’re running late.

Enjoy the slow cookin’!

– Debbie, little Max, and wee Holly

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