Friday, December 11, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Monday, November 02, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
4 or 5 years ago I signed up for this free magazine (wait, did I sign up or was it just sent to me unsolicited? I can't remember). Anyway, I usually read it and sometimes I clip a recipe. I should say here that this magazine's definition of a "recipe" is very liberal indeed. A recipe in Food and Family can be a complex as the 5 ingredient "Chicken Pot Pie" or as simple (and frankly silly) as "Macaroni and Cheese Dinner" (the recipe is the directions right off the box). All of the recipes are full of Kraft brand ingredients (of course, no surprise there) and there are lots of ads for Kraft. Basically, it's the Vogue of cooking magazines: mostly ads and then a little content. The current issue even has one recipe (a caramel-topped cheesecake) appearing twice. (A fetching picture of Katie Brown posed with mixing bowl in hand also appears three times, if I'm not mistaken.)
So it is a primarily ad-driven publication and I'm fine with that. It's RIDICULOUS, though, to ask me to pay $7 a year to subscribe to this magazine. I wonder if people who visit the website and pay for the subscription will be disappointed in the content.
It kind of reminds me of "Video News Releases" that so often appear in local news broadcasts. Although it is somewhat entertaining to try and spot them ("Up next... a new diet pill that has everyone talking!"), the blurring of true content and advertising is irritating and troubling to me.
I realize that a food magazine littered with promotions and advertisements is hardly the most pressing issue of our time. I'll think hard about global warming as I whip up a quick batch of "BLT Ranch Hot Dogs."
Monday, October 26, 2009
* 1 1/2 cups dried apple slices
* 3 cups water
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 3 tbs. cornstarch
* 2 tsp. cinnamon
* 1/4 tsp. nutmeg and add to apples
* 1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
Friday, October 23, 2009
WRAPS THREE WAYS
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 T bacon pieces (small)
For roast beef:
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 T horseradish (more or less to your taste)
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried dill
2 tsp prepared mustard
freshly ground black pepper
To make the filling, just mix the ingredients together with a hand mixer.
For each wrap, thinly spread 1-2 T of the filling on a burrito-sized tortilla. Leave the top 1/4 of the tortilla bare so no filling will seep out as you roll everything up. Lay about 6 leaves of fresh spinach (and/or other veggies) atop the filling. Place 2 large pieces of turkey or roast beef or ham atop the spinach. Roll up from the bottom (the end that is not bare). Secure each end with a toothpick; cut in half. Makes 7 full wraps (14 halves).
Monday, October 12, 2009
In a warmer life in Texas I had a wise friend, Micah, age 4. Her parents followed the Southern custom of teaching their kids to address all adults as "Mr." or "Miss." Micah tried to remember dh's name but always settled for a named that rhymed with his. She called him "Mr. Heaven."
The picture above doesn't do Mr. Heaven justice. Well, in a way it does, as it depicts him chugging a sweet, dark liquid (although it's normally Pepsi One and not chocolate syrup). Not to mention that the context of the photo (a very silly moment at the dinner table with the boys) occurs very frequently.
I don't blog much about Mr. Heaven because I'm afraid that such a post would deteriorate into a jumbled mix of Celine Dion lyrics and Hallmark Valentine's Day card sentiments. Suffice it to say that being married to Mr. Heaven--an even-keeled man with a ready laugh and a loyal heart--has made me very happy indeed.
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
This serves one but is infinitely scalable.
1 cup cooked pinto beans
1/2 of a chipotle chile (from a can, the kind "canned in adobo sauce")
3 T grated cheese (any kind will do--maybe not romano or whatever)
1/2 of one tomato, diced
splash of balsamic vinegar
Microwave the first 3 ingredients. Stir in the last 2 ingredients. Eat with chips. Think about sunny places where food like this is widely available.
Friday, October 02, 2009
*A person should not listen to sad Death Cab for Cutie songs (redundant, I know) on a rainy, cold day. It will only make a person sad about weather and unplanned moves and other inevitables.
*Do not plan to make complicated Chinese stir-fry dishes after a long day of doctor appointments, school events, and wandering around (on foot) in an unfamiliar part of town. Have a supply of Hot Pockets (or some kind of pockets) on hand for a day like this.
*52 degrees is too cold for the beginning of October.
*Glitter will someday fill the earth. The exotic names Martha Stewart (or some underpaid English major on her staff) assigns to these colors will supplant the names for colors we currently use. Ian Frazier has identified it as a societal problem (an abstract of his article can be found here); the holidays are a truly trying time for glitter-phobes like me.
* Sometimes bing is superior to google. After 4 attempts to find the above-referenced glitter article on google, I found it with one try on bing. I'm still not sure what "bing" is supposed to mean, though.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
The boys miss their (in the words of Flash) "lively", crowded school in Texas, and I do too. The process of carving out one's niche can be unpleasant and not without a few sharp jabs. All I can do is pray for lots of "nice kids" and put extra-trashy treats in their lunches until they settle in.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
rediscovering "treasure boxes"--looking through old school pictures, swimming ribbons, souvenirs. Then trying to sell these things to each other. Sidenote: Chinese renminbi is now acceptable currency in our house.
digging in a superfun, enormous sandbox at the local water park. (You dig for awhile, then rinse off the sand in a little shower area, then swim. Then buy a "junior slushee" for 75 cents. Genius!)
bicycling 5 miles at a very beautiful local park, followed by no small amount of bragging (5 MILES!) and moaning about sore legs I've got to find a cheap bike on Craigslist and take advantage of the many bike trails here.
napping outside on a blanket on a Sunday afternoon. (An anomaly. No one naps in our house except dh.)
buying $2.00 sunglasses at a sidewalk sale in Royal Oak. We were the only ones with kids at the sale and noticeably lacking tattoos and piercings. To say nothing of leather bustiers.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
In real life, she (Oprah) has almost nothing in common with most of her viewers. She is an unapproachable billionaire with a private jet and homes around the country who hangs out with movie stars. She is not married and has no children. But television Oprah is a different person. She somehow manages to make herself believable as a down-to-earth everywoman. She is your girlfriend who struggles to control her weight and balance her work and personal life, just like you.
This is true despite the fact that Oprah often appears distracted in her interviews with real people on her show (the non-celebrities), looking over their shoulders and sort of zoning out during their responses to her questions (and then magically summoning tears at the climax of their story). If she is everyone's girlfriend, she is the girlfriend that talks about AWESOME SHOES while you pour out your heart in the mall food court.
I know she has spearheaded some incredible charity projects. She is certainly a talented entertainer. I just don't relate to the conflicting values her show promotes: obsessing about body image /Girl Power, SHOPPING!/schools for impoverished children, living your best life/worshiping celebrities. I don't get it. But I am glad that she encourages reading, or used to. Does she still do the book club segments?
Friday, June 26, 2009
I am sort of reading The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. I pick it up now and then and read one of the short chapters. It has lots of nice ideas, useful for giving one the motivation to find joy in the journey and don't sweat the small stuff and other things like that. Mostly it makes me think about professors I have known. Some approached the status of demigods, causing me to recite embarrassing poems in protest of their dismissal. One film professor actually tested us on his tangential ramblings about celebrities he knew ("What did Elizabeth Taylor say when I made a joke about her shoes in 1978?") In the relatively small pond of a university, professors seem like Triton himself, able to banish us to the depths of humility with a critical comment on a paper.
Back to The Last Lecture. It's worth reading. Some best-sellers make that list for a reason. Some, like a certain unnamed book about a teenage girl and her vampire, do not.
Friday, June 19, 2009
- road signs that simply say "CHURCH". I always liked the idea that, should a spiritual emergency arise, I could easily find a church. It might have a slightly spooky preacher with really big teeth and a lot of advice on "How to Increase Your Money God's Way," but it will still be a church.
- you can buy a flat of mangoes on the side of the road. Also rhinestone Obama T-shirts and an assortment of tacky rugs.
- 75 different varieties of picante sauce in the grocery store, not to mention fresh tortillas made right in front of your wondering eyes.
- left turns allowed ! (not so in much of Detroit)
- hot summer days suitable for swimming almost every day.
- SONIC drinks.
- so many sweet friends. We really miss you guys!
Like many of my most favorite foods, my mom's salsa is bursting with vegetable goodness (side note: foods bursting with fruity goodness don't tempt me like vegetables. Don't know why.) I seriously like thinking about all of the vitamins and fiber in this salsa, which we eat by the naked spoonful around here, no chip needed. I have occasionally added chipotle peppers canned in adobo sauce (about 2 tablespoons) to this recipe, but it's fantastic exactly as written here. And, yes, those quantities are right. We do prepare it one gallon at a time and give away about half.
1 Gallon Recipe
4 28 oz. Cans of whole peeled tomatoes
3/8 pound yellow chilies, seeds and stems removed
3 large jalapenos, seeds and stems removed
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1/8 cup cilantro
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon oregano
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
Put one can of tomatoes at a time in food processor or blender, blend 2-3 seconds. Pout into a big bowl. Repeat until all tomatoes are crushed.
Process chilies, jalapenos, onions, and garlic in food processor until chopped. Pour into tomatoes.
Process cilantro for 5 seconds. Add to mixture.
Add salt, oregano, and cumin. Stir together. Chill and serve.
2 gallon quantities
8 28 oz. cans of whole peeled tomatoes (or 1 10 pound can)
¾ lb. Yellow chilies, seeds and stems removed
6 large Jalapenos, seeds and stems removed
2 medium yellow onions, diced
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
¼ cup cilantro
2 Tablespoons salt
2 Tablespoons oregano
2 Tablespoons ground cumin
Monday, June 15, 2009
dh obliged and I spent about 20 minutes marveling at this incredible fabric with an even more incredible $4/yd price tag. No, it was not cute vintage fabric, sorry, but it is real "drapery" fabric and beautiful! Yay!
Thursday, June 04, 2009
In the background of the above picture is a high-energy tambourine player for one of the opening bands, The Howling Bells. In between his tambourine explosions he squatted down back by the drummer. When it was his turn, he bounded out of his little hiding place and went WILD with that tamborine. Highly entertaining.
The best part was when the band came up to a tiny stage about 10 feet away from us and played "Green Eyes," a favorite of mine. You probably can't tell from the photo that they were so close, but believe me, they were so close to us! I think it was pretty hard on Chris Martin being on such a tiny stage; not much room for skipping and cavorting about.
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Oh, happy day! DSL is up and running, I am connected to the outside world. Even hung a few pictures on the walls today.
This cross-country moving business isn't for the faint of heart. Leaving Texas was much more emotional than I expected, considering how we made fun of Houston over the years. We miss our friends there terribly, and I often think of them and what they're up to (and what we're missing out on... sob!)
But we're here now, and soldiering on. By soldiering I mean that the kids are fighting almost constantly and my ability to parent in a consistent and calm manner is waning. Also I ate three Little Debbie cakes in one sitting the other night.
I'm trying to adjust to the Michigan definition of summer, a word that used to mean shorts and flip-flops, playing in the sprinkler, eating dinner on the back patio. Here it means gorgeous, long days with beautiful sunsets and a high of 65 degrees. I've got the heater going at night in JUNE!(With lows in the upper 40s, who wouldn't?) This is like a Texas winter, y'all!
So if the downside is the chilly weather, the upside is the terrain and all of these beautiful trees. Just beautiful. You can actually grow lilacs here, too.
The kids love the house. It has a huge basement and pretty big backyard with a swingset and a spooky storage shed. I like the wood floors and the picture window in the living room. Nobody likes the weird smell at the top of the basement stairs. We've been trying to identify it for days. My vote is stale cigar smoke. Super Q is voting for "dead rats." Antimicrobial Febreze has been a dear friend to me of late. Not a friend to me is the many boxes that we didn't label (?) or that just say "kitchen." What was I thinking? When looking for a can opener to open the only can of black beans in the house, "kitchen" is not a helpful guidepost. Note to self: label more specifically next time. Also, don't MOVE ACROSS THE COUNTRY AGAIN. Also, bring your own fresh ginger, as there appears to be no ginger in the Detroit metro area.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
But I visited a dear friend today, a friend who always provides very helpful advice (and chocolate). What she said brought a measure of peace to my mind: "Things are as they should be." I think it's going to be my new mantra. So I'll be getting rid of "By the power of Greyskull... I have the POWER!"
Friday, May 15, 2009
"Increasingly, the corporations that supply Americans with processed foods are unable to guarantee the safety of their ingredients. In this case, ConAgra could not pinpoint which of the more than 25 ingredients in its pies was carrying salmonella. Other companies do not even know who is supplying their ingredients, let alone if those suppliers are screening the items for microbes and other potential dangers, interviews and documents show."http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/15/business/15ingredients.html?_r=1&hp
*every fantastic person from our neighborhood and church who came to pack, paint, and keep me company
*my family, for their supportive texts, phone calls, packages,
* the good people who produce these items which make up the bulk of my diet:
*patient friends who read this blog even though it is really self-absorbed as of late
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Unrelated but quite amazing: our house is getting attention like it's a fire sale (which it is, essentially). We had one SUPER-low, even insulting offer. We're going to hold out for the big money, at least enough to cover our closing costs. dh rented a house in D-town (I can call it that now); we're making progress! Just need to get that voice back so I can talk to the realtor.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
2 days ago I was "released" from my position as the leader of the children's ministry at our church (that's Primary President for the LDS folk). I cried (of course) because I'm, like, totally emotional lately. I'm just going to miss all of those little faces, not to mention the text messages received 15 minutes before classes start ("sorry, I'm not going to be there to teach my class"). But seriously I'm going to miss hanging out with kids on Sunday. It's so easy to make kids love you. A fun game and some Little Debbies and you're as cool as Captain Kangaroo. Who isn't really that cool, now that I think of it.
So on to the matter at hand. I was just putting some podcasts on my microscopic mp3 player. I was doing the right-click "send to" method. It got me thinking. If I could be right-clicked and sent somewhere, where would it be? It would be Hong Kong, but two different days. The first was in the summer when I was there as a missionary, serving in a stressful area. We had a day off and went to the beach at Shek O to play in the sand and walk on the hills near the water. We missed the bus going back and ended up having to stay later than we planned. There was a diving platform there in the bay and a man came to dive. I watched him as the sun went down, diving over and over, his silhouette dipping into the water almost like he was pouring himself in--so smooth and dark against the purple sky. Just diving and diving. It was so peaceful, the rhythm of the repetition, the colors, the breeze.
There was another day, 12 years later, also in Hong Kong, this time with my dh. We sat in a park at night and I spilled it: I wanted to stay. I would give up the mainland leg of the trip for more time in HK. He was very kind and we promised each other another trip later, with more time in my favorite city. Better yet, he said HK was his favorite place too.
As I lay me down to sleep in my mattress on the closet floor (long story, that), I'll think of the diver and the conversation in the park and forget about the half-painted room and the carpet cleaners and the closets that need to be packed.
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Monday, April 06, 2009
This morning it was indeed chocolate sponge cake first (my kids were having danishes, so I thought, why not?) The sponge cake in question was a Whoopie Pie, recipe found here. They are so tasty and spongy and chocolatety. No, I haven't figured out why they are called Whoopie Pies, though. Please don't let it be that you want to shout "Whoopeee!" after tasting one. I hate explanations like that.
Friday, March 27, 2009
In an effort to drum up some interest in our house, we're staging some rooms... at least long enough to take a picture. It's very duplicitous, this staging thing. As you can see from the photos. These rooms are right next to each other. You would never know that the tastefully neutral living room would lead right into a hellish electronics dumping ground/playroom.
Incidentally, did you know there is an International Association of Home Staging Professionals? I love that it is international. Need someone to help you stage your yurt? Just contact the Ulaanbaatar chapter of the IAHSP.
Seriously, though, if you know anyone who is moving to Houston and would like to see my house, let me know! I promise the electronics will be cleaned up. Free swingset, too.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Grateful doesn't even begin to describe how I feel. I had some (read: a tremendous amount of) hesitation, mainly because I do not enjoy change. I still felt "right" and peaceful about this move so I agreed to it. Everything had fallen into place with the new job and now we know why. I know we are very lucky to have a new job waiting for us. Very lucky, and blessed.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
I just realized that that last post was somewhat lacking in details. (I had to go back and add in where we were moving exactly, for example.) dh is moving in mid-April, and the rest of us will follow in early June.
My mind is seriously spinning as I think of all that must be done in the next 2 months. A fair amount of the items on the to-do list are physical work: paint 5 rooms, touch-up paint 3 rooms, paint 4 million baseboards and door frames, pack some items, get doctor records, invite every last person we love here for a party, etc.
Other items have to do with enduring to the end. Namely, the end of the time that I will be a single parent trying to get the house ready to sell.
There are several items that deal with my attitude about snow. It is not a positive one. I'm cold when it's 70 degrees here because the inside of the house is 65. (Stress is affecting my appetite so I'm losing weight--so much the better to fit in the dress for Linz's wedding, but not so helpful with the padding of the cold bones). So the list includes some strategies for dealing with Winter. (So formidable is Winter in my mind that it must be capitalized). I'm looking at the overstock clearance section for cold weather stuff. I have no idea what to buy. Parkas? Down jackets? "Puffy jackets"? Wool? My approach to cold weather dressing in Utah was many layers of thrift store finds. I don't think the kids will go for that.
One last item is more introspective. I am leaving my responsibilities over the Primary in our ward (that's the youth ministry in our congregation) and, of course, I have mixed feelings. There are areas I did not emphasize and I have regrets about that. I hope the children felt my love and the love of God and the presence of his Spirit. That was my goal.
I'm trying to approach as like the wise lyrics in the "One Day at a Time" exhort:
This is it. (This is it.)
This is life, the one you get so go and have a ball.
This is it. (This is it.)
Straight ahead and rest assured you can't be sure at all.
So while you're here enjoy the view.
Keep on doing what you do
So hold on tight we’ll muddle through
One day at a time, (One day at a time.)
So up on your feet. (Up on your feet)
Somewhere there's music playing.
Don't you worry none we'll just take it like it comes.
One day at a time, (One day at a time.)
I'm planning on "resting assured that you can't be sure at all" and "holding on tight and muddling through." And wearing a vest like Schneider to help me get in the right frame of mind for fixin' up.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
dh got an offer at a more stable company with more responsibility and better benefits. This will be a huge change for us but I feel like it's going to be OK.
**Oops, forgot to mention that we are moving to Detroit.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
I just watched this week's episode of 30 Rock. One of the storylines is, naturally, a mini-microwave naming contest . (spoiler alert) The chosen name is "The Fun Cooker," a term that just happens to capture the feeling of my afternoon. An afternoon spent at the multiplex watching "Race to Witch Mountain," starring that guy that used to be called "The Rock" and now has some boring anglo name like Kevin Smith or something. Also two scary blonde kids that are aliens who look like humans (I actually think the girl looks pretty much like an alien). Anyway. As I suffered through this totally predictable movie with the obligatory snarky and well-timed one-liners and an enormous amount of shooting and hand-to-hand combat I thought to myself, "Is this supposed to be fun? Are the kids actually having fun?" Sure, the bucket o' popcorn and something called Squeeze Pops were sending them into a gradual and prolonged carbo-shock, but sugar aside, were they having fun? I wonder about these activities we spend our leisure time on. Movies, McDonald's playland, Chuck E. Cheese's. Are they actually fun or do we feel like kids want to do these things so we plan them? After the 2.5 hours spent in the fun cooker, I'm wishing we would have stayed home and built a pillow fort or just spent time hanging out and joking around instead of cookin' up some prefab "fun."
Thursday, March 12, 2009
I always use the Bisquick-based recipes because as much as my family loves waffles (not me so much, but my family), I refuse to whip egg whites for 5 minutes just for waffles.
2 1/3 cups Original Bisquick mix
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup chopped pecans
Powdered sugar, if desired
Combine everything with a whisk. Heat up your waffle iron. Make waffles like you always do. Why am I typing instructions? You know how to cook waffles.
If you don't happen to have pumpkin pie spice in your pantry in the middle of March, here's how to make it:
PUMPKIN PIE SPICE
1. Measure 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon into a small bowl or cup.
2. Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger.
3. Add 1/8 teaspoon of ground allspice or ground cloves.
4. Add 1/8 teaspoon of ground nutmeg.
5. Stir to blend.
6. Makes 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
*I had peppermint patties for breakfast.
*A whole big bunch of friends of ours made plans and didn't invite us and I'm a little bit hurt by that.
*I watched "Arthur" on PBS yesterday. (Arthur the animated aardvark, not Arthur the charming 1980s drunk, although those Arthur movies were a staple for our family when I was young. Also "What's Up Doc?")
*I've been eating Cinnamon Life cereal out of my hand as a snack in a probably vain attempt to fit into the dress I bought on clearance for my sister's wedding. I had to buy a size that just might be a little tight to get the color I wanted. So it's cereal, kale, and coke zero from now until May. Oh, and peppermint patties.
* My son had to remind me to "pull the plug, Mom, NOT the cord" when I was unplugging the toaster the other day.
*I'm sick of certain responsibilities and thinking of doing something drastic to my hair to show my wild rebellion.
Sunday, March 01, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
Hi, thanks so much for all of your very kind emails, comments, and phone calls. I'm feeling a bit less panicked now. Sleeping a little better, which helps. My current occupation is Distraction from Worrying Thoughts.
The boys, of course, are a very good distraction. ("Oh, Mom, we hate juice boxes now.""Mom, is a tree a renewable resource?" "Mom, what does that guy think he's doing?" "Mom, an iPod cost like a million kajillion dollars, right?") Endless entertainment. In the photo above they are relaxing in the backyard on a Sunday afternoon. Super Q was every inch the hausfrau, puttering around, making sure the blanket was perfect. He wanted to get pillows and blankets and stuffed animals. Flash, meanwhile, was quite annoyed and wanted to get on with the relaxation. It was a pretty funny scene.
Rock Band has been a bit of a distraction. dh has to talk me into it each time, as I am the non-video-gamer in the house. I'm on drums, naturally. (The better to bang out stress, my dear. Also I suck at the guitar part.)
Taco Bell sells their mild sauce in a bottle at the grocery store. This has very much increased my lunchtime ritual of black bean nachos and Charlie Rose. My sister was, I think, appalled at the fact that I like Taco Bell during her last visit. We fancy ourselves the gourmets (or at least gourmands) of the family but she's learning that I have a trashy side. Taco Bell and King of Queens. I think she's drawing up legal documents as we speak to cut me out of the family. Amicably, of course. And my kids can stay in.
The Mt. Everest obsession has returned. I watched all of a Discovery Channel documentary about it in one sitting the other day. I am flummoxed as to why people do this to themselves. I can't stop thinking about it. A climber from Lebanon said it best (after he summited and witnessed a man dying by the side of the trail on the way down). "It's crazy how people come up here... to die." I promise this is the most depressing thing I've watched or read lately. It's been all old Barbra Streisand movies and Annie Dillard books around here. Our book club is reading The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and I'm having none of it.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Monday, February 16, 2009
"We stand at the crossroads, each minute, each hour, each day, making choices. We choose the thoughts we allow ourselves to think, the passions we allow ourselves to feel, and the actions we allow ourselves to perform. Each choice is made in the context of whatever value system we've selected to govern our lives. In selecting that value system, we are, in a very real way, making the most important choice we will ever make. "
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
So tonight it's Cilantro Rice, Lime Cilantro Chicken (that recipe comes from the master chef and maker of the awesome Christmas quilt, Meredith), guacamole, and black beans. It's going to be heaven.
Although I like the idea of chunky guacamole with tomatoes and lime peel and jalapenos and onions, my kids are purists: avocado, lemon juice, salt, pepper. Mash. Lick your fingers, eat it straight with a spoon, spread it on anything and everything.
Cilantro Rice (sorry, Pianogal, I tweaked the instructions a bit to make it faster)
1 cup fresh cilantro (go ahead, leave the stems on, no one will ever know)
2 garlic cloves
1 fresh jalapeno chile, stemmed, or ½ can green chilies
2 ½ cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 carrot, cut into chunks
2 tsp olive oil
1 ½ cups long-grain white rice
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp ground cumin
In a blender, whirl cilantro, garlic, chile, carrot, and broth until smooth. In a 3-4 quart pan over medium heat, stir oil, rice, onion powder and cumin until rice is a pale golden color, 5-8 minutes. Stir in cilantro/broth mixture. Cover, bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce and simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 18 minutes. If desired, season to taste with salt.
2 large cloves of garlic
½ Tablespoon grated lime zest
1/8 cup fresh lime juice
1/8 cup fresh cilantro (chopped)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
3 Tablespoons olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 ½ pounds)
Lime wedges for garnish
In food processor pulse first six ingredients (garlic, lime zest, lime juice, cilantro, salt, and pepper). Add olive oil; process until blended.
Pour into Ziploc bag; add chicken and marinate in refrigerator for 3 hours.
Preheat broiler. Place chicken on foil-lined baking sheet. Broil, turn once, for 8-10 minutes, or until cooked through.
To serve, garnish with lime wedges.
Sunday, February 01, 2009
Our Sundays can be s-l-o-w. Church is from 8 to 11 am, come home, eat lunch, then 8.5 hours until bedtime. And we don't shop, go to work, or play sports either (we observe it as the Sabbath). We limit TV and movie time. So sometimes we get bored. dh is content to literally sleep all day if given the opportunity, so lots of times it's me and the boys trying to find activities that fall within our family parameters and aren't a total snooze.
Today we made Bad Guy Soup. Super Q tells me we are meant to leave it outside. When bad guys see it, they think, "Oh! Free soup!" They drink it, then die. And don't ever make it into the house to steal the XBox.
Our soup had water, soul seasoning, old lemon pepper, some nasty salad dressing that none of use like, dirt, bark, grass, weeds, etc. It reeks. Not a bad way to clean out the pantry.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
I was listening to our local access radio station today and heard this woman, Patty Wipfler, (her website is http://www.handinhandparenting.org/) talking about the kinds of reactions Super has all day long to anything that doesn't go his way. I thought she had some very interesting ideas. Maybe a little NewAgey, I don't know.
Her take is that when kids are in the middle of a power struggle, whining, or a big meltdown, their brains are not engaged. They are really, truly "out of their minds." They need a mental and physical connection with a parent, a little reassurance, some hugs, a hand hold, something like that. They may push you away. They may not immediately snap out of it; in fact, they may cry more for awhile to "dump" their emotions. But then they will snap out of it and be much more agreeable afterward. Super Q has shown some symptoms of feeling disconnected and alone when he's melting down, so I'm going to try this system. Any other ideas?
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
I don't really have quantities. I mean, it's salad. Adjust the amounts of extra stuff based on how much green stuff you are using.
Ruth's Chris Chop Salad
The chopped salad is a mix of julienned iceberg lettuce (I used romaine), spinach (I substituted kale), radicchio, tossed with red onion (I skipped the onion), mushrooms, green olives, bacon, hard-cooked eggs, hearts of palm, croutons, blue cheese and lemon basil dressing ... topped off with cherry tomatoes and crispy fried onions (these are key). Oh, and everything is chopped to a somewhat uniform size.
Below is the lemon basil dressing. It was really tart; probably should have added some sugar. I substituted Marie's Blue Cheese Vinaigrette (a favorite at our house).
Lemon Basil Dressing
2 tablespoons Pommery or Dijon mustard
freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 basil leaves, very thinly sliced
coarse salt, to taste
freshly ground pepper, to taste
Monday, January 26, 2009
I'm not endorsing every view that you will find on democracynow.org. I watch/listen to programs on both ends of the spectrum and everywhere in between.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Sometimes I feel incredibly silly trolling for images of food/products/evil dolls on the internet. I just spent about 8 minutes finding this picture of Shout! and cropping it, etc. In that amount of time I could have done any number of more productive things; soothed a child's worried brow, made toast, read 8 Emily Dickinson poems. Anyway, it was worth it because I am a such a fan of Shout Advanced. I'm sure it's chock full of petroleum horribleness. Nonetheless, it has its uses like removing blue crayon from an entire load of clothes and THEN removing gum from yet another load of clothes (this one went through the dryer). Why check pockets when you can just spray something that smells like paint thinner on everything and wash it again?
Geez, this post is getting depressing. I'm now on facebook, sort of feeling like the ancient maiden aunt at a wedding. I'm almost 37--facebook? Really? So now I check the status of friends and family and they're always doing something cool like hanging out at coffeehouses. My statuses have thus far been about cooking, cleaning, PTO stuff. I think I'm going to start fibbing on the ol' status bar. "Status: strolling through the Louvre." Do you think anyone will catch on?
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Wow, that title is atrocious. Please forget it ever happened. Focus instead on this: kale. Not an immediately appealing vegetable, right? Won't ever compete with eggplant or even cucumber. It looks like it might get stuck in your cheek like a fish hook. I'm here to ask you to give kale a chance. My fancy beautiful attorney sister made a kale salad that changed my life. In the spirit of hope and change I share it with you.
1/2 a head/large bunch of kale
1/2 - 3/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
fresh lemon (about half of a lemon's worth)
freshly ground pepper
Toss. Eat. Enjoy the antioxidants.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
We headed west this past weekend for my niece's baptism. It was fantastic. The kids had an absolute blast playing outside in the perfect weather, we ate many delicious meals c/o my sister, a cheesecake surfaced, and we watched old movies of my Dad's childhood. Perfect.
The hotel, however, was a bizarre throwback to our Asian Vacation of 2007. It was a Travelodge, you know, with the sleepwalking bear? The bear was always a HUGE selling point for us as kids. "Oh, please, let's stay in the one with the bear!" The Travelodge was a little pricey for our family then. But now, well, let's just say we have arrived and we stayed at the one with the bear. And the super-hard beds, one-ply TP, scanty breakfast, and non-working TV remote.
The undisputed highlight of the trip for me and dh was seeing my sister's baby, Carmelita, who is a sweet little ball of cuteness. She has decided against crawling on principle and scoots instead. She does this sitting up, using a sort of one-cheek-at-a-time approach. It is very adorable, and my sister's floors get a good swiffering in the process.
Another sister, the beautiful and fancy attorney from Phoenix, also came and stayed some extra time with us. My boys LOVE her... maybe because she spoils them rotten. We drove away from the airport quite solemn, already missing her and the rest of our family.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Friday, January 09, 2009
Crock Pot Red Beans and Rice
1 lb dried red or kidney beans (don't use canned)
2 T oil (I omitted this and used a nonstick pan)
1 lb spicy smoked sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 stalked celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
6 cups water or low-salt chicken broth
4 cups cooked rice
To soak beans, rinse well. Place in a bowl, and add enough water to cover by at least 2 inches. Let sit 8 hours or overnight. Drain before using.
Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Saute sausage until slightly browned, about 3 min. Remove and set aside.
Add onion, bell pepper, and celery to the skillet and cook until softened and fragrant, about 3 min. Add garlic and cook for 1 min.
Season with salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, and cayenne; stir and cook 1 min. Add reserved sausage and beans and stir to combine.
Pour sausage/bean mixture into a 5-6 quart slow cooker (water should cover beans by at least 1/2 inch; more if you like a soupier meal).
Cover and cook on high for 2 hours; then on low for 6 hours. Remove bay leaves before serving over cooked rice.
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Man, I am so prolific today! I'm sure I'll hit a nice long dry spell soon and not post for 2 months or something. Patty O's comment about the $900 skirt in O Magazine reminded me of my very successful trip to a certain thrift store in the Great White North. I always stop in when we travel up there because it's a gold mine. dh's family lives in a sort of snooty town ("most PhDs per capita" is one of their claims... REALLY? I would have thought Cambridge...) and there are many good deals to be found. This time it was Adidas running pants for Flash ($2), a couple of books, and a Talbots skirt for me ($2) and one from the Gap as well ($2). I actually am not a brand-conscious person--I mean, one skirt in heavy rotation right now I sewed myself from curtains. I know, very Maria von Trapp of me. So I'm not really interested in the brand itself, it's the fantastic bargain and the knowledge that these skirts will hold up better than brand new ones from Old Navy or Target. The hilarious part is that I stood there and spent 15 minutes thinking hard about buying a $2 green wool sweater. "Will I wear it? Will it smell weird forever? Will it be too itchy?" I chalk it up to the Thrift Store Theory of Relativity, wherein an item that cost $40 new seems prohibitively expensive if it's more than $2.50. Of course I would buy that sweater if I was in Banana Republic and it was marked down to even $10. But at that moment I really had to think about it. (I decided against it: itchy).
While we're on the subject of the Dakotas (I know, I know they have some redeeming qualities), I have to recommend this gallery of photos on the National Geographic website. It's called "The Emptied Prairie," and it features photos of abandoned homes, roads, churches. There is an obligatory creepy doll in there, and a schoolroom still full of desks and yellowing books. The photos are fascinating and eerie, and worth looking at.
I remember LOVING this kind of activity when I was young. Trivia! Brand-new markers! Showing off what I've learned! The result is a life-long affinity for the places that I've studied for school reports over the years. No, I have not visited Ireland but after studying it in 5th grade it's like the sacred motherland to me. (My sister has this same relationship with Switzerland. My whole family knows that Switzerdeutsch is one language spoken there. Sadly, I had no opportunity to use this knowledge when I visited in 2000.)
Because I've lived in Hong Kong and visited China I am the official China representative whenever we have an International Night at church. I try not to abuse my power and fill everyone's minds with bogus information or confuse everyone by serving sushi. I could talk about China for hours, especially my theories about craaaazy government policies and what Mao did to permanently screw up the country. But I'm content to explain a little about the language, demonstrate how to use chopsticks, and pass around shadow puppets. I'm still waiting for my chance to showcase my knowledge of merry old Ireland.
*By the way, we play a fantastic game on road trips where we decide which states should be forced out of the Union. One of us proposes a state that (to us) doesn't add much to the country and we debate its merits. Inevitably the Dakotas are voted out. (Sorry Dakotas! Two people who have never even visited you have decided that you don't contribute enough resources or scenery to stay on.) Hours of fun.
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
At the risk of sounding snarky, mean, and un-American, I just have to say I loathe Oprah. Always have. She comes across as so phony! Some poor woman who just lost her children in a horrible fire could be on her stage sobbing and Oprah's sort of looking over her shoulder or checking her hair in the monitor. Ew! I just can't stand her! I caught about 15 minutes of her show yesterday (I'm sick, we don't have cable, my standards have officially slid) and WOW. The economy's in shambles, no one trusts the government anymore, millions of Americans are losing their homes, everything's bleak and grey and Oprah devotes an entire hour to why she has gained 40 pounds. COME ON, OPRAH! You've got such a scary and loyal following! Your word is gospel for so many women! You could make a serious difference in the way people deal with this recession. Get a financial expert on there like Elizabeth Warren from Harvard who is smart and real and telegenic. Share some information about how to market one's skills when it becomes necessary to work two jobs. Book a chef who can talk about stretching your food dollar. Invite a psychologist to talk about the emotional impact of recession. Don't sit on your shiny pink couch and talk about how you are "a little depressed" and "the light has gone out of your eyes." And put someone else on the cover of your magazine. Just once.
Sunday, January 04, 2009
We made it home and I went to the doctor Friday. She gave me some shots (steriod and antibiotic) and a cough medicine with codeine. Hooray! Codeine! It suppresses even the tiniest thought of coughing. However, loving codeine too much (1/2 tsp too much) resulted in the WORST headache known to man. And vomiting. This pain/vomiting/crying cycle lasted for 10 hours. I wanted to die.
This is where the silver lining peeks out, finally. In my agony (and I am not overstating the pain I was feeling), I begged dh for what we (in our church) call a "priesthood blessing." He laid his hand on my head and blessed me that the pain would subside. And it did. I felt it sort of drain away, until there was about 15% of it left and I could relax enough to sleep.
I don't often blog about religion, but I can't set this experience aside. God's power is real. I know it is increasingly uncool to think so, but I can't deny it. Life is so sweet--even the difficult parts--when we seek Him out.
I often think of this song by the innocence mission. It's called "Look For Me as You Go By"
Hang my head low, so low.
Don't see me only as I am but
see me how I long to be.
Shining like a flowering tree
under a gray Pennsylvania sky.
Look for me as you go by.
Hang my head low, so low.
Every burden shall be lifted.
Every stone upon your back slide into the sea.
It's me for you and you for me.
That's what Jesus means to me. "Every burden shall be lifted. Every stone upon your back slide into the sea." All of us help each other in this effort, this relieving and lifting. "It's me for you and you for me." A hopeful thought at the end of what was for many a very difficult year. We can all lift, relieve, and help to heal in 2009. That's my hope.