Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Birthday Week, 2011 Edition

We're in the middle of our annual birthday week. Had a tie-dye-pinata-horse-themed party over the weekend, which marked our first-ever "kid party." A bold step in parenthood for sure.

Today my daughter turned 6. She requested that I make beef stir-fry for dinner. It warmed my heart that she asked me to make something that I learned how to make within the past few years, and that I make without a recipe, varying it each time (very unusual for me). It made me feel a little bit successful as Mom-in-the-Kitchen, which is not an entirely familiar feeling!

My son turns 4 tomorrow. He requested pancakes for dinner, which should make a nice pairing with the cake we'll have for dessert. Syrup, anyone?

Pictures to come of cakes and/or party stuff. For now, I have presents to wrap!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Garden of earthly delights

My mom-teacher-political-sign-poster-working-on-a-green-thumb-writer friend Paysha has a special feature on her gardening blog each Friday that's quite unique. It's called "Plant Porn Phriday." Worthwhile not only for the creative ways which nature shows ALL its colors, but for her great copy. People actually PAY her to write when she's not blogging or gardening or raising a wee lad, so it makes her blog a worthwhile read.

I submitted some ballsy tomatoes to her blog this week, which she was kind enough to post. Take a gander. Look, but don't touch.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bow Tie Pasta with Fried Eggs and Cheese

12oz farfalle (bowtie) pasta 
1/4c extra virgin olive oil
1T minced chives 
1/2 tsp salt & 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2T unsalted butter
8 eggs
1 1/3c grated Swiss cheese
Bring water to a boil, cook pasta until done. 
Meanwhile, put eggs, oil, chives, salt, and pepper in a bowl large enough to hold the cooked pasta. When the pasta is ready, remove 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and add it to the bowl. Drain pasta and toss with ingredients in bowl.
Melt 1/2T of the butter in each of two nonstick skillets. Break two of the eggs into each skillet and cook, covered, over medium high heat for about 2 minutes until the whites are just set. Spoon pasta onto warmed plates and sprinkle on a heaping spoonful of cheese. Place 2 eggs on top of the pasta, add a little more cheese, and then a half ladle of pasta. (The egg yolks should be visible through the top layer of pasta). Cook remaining eggs and plate the same way.

Tears to my eyes

We slummed it tonight and grabbed one of those $5 Hot N Ready pizzas from Little Ceasar's. When we were leaving the parking lot, my daughter asked why the umbrella over the picnic table outside Ceasar's didn't say "Little Ceasar's," have the right colors, or show the little character. They had some cheesy drink company with lime green labeling on the umbrella instead.

I paused as I took in what she was saying. Joy. A budding designer? Just a person who cares? Thank you for noticing these things and asking why.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

All Grown Up

I took a momentous step today and purchased a big beverage cooler w/pouring spout. I don't know why, but this is the type of thing that I thought only moms bought for hosting large family events or kid parties.

That was the moment of personal insight. I AM that mom-type. Kinda scary how those things sneak up on you.

p.s. these are only $9 at Walmart. Watch out for the minivan stampede!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Bacon grease II

If you read yesterday's post about the mason jar full of bacon grease, you'll appreciate today's update.

I was making yet more bacon tonight (no comments about our arteries here needed) and I dumped a glass full of bacon grease once again, all over the countertop, cupboards, recycling, and floor.


Really nice? Husband cleaned it all up later that evening once it had cooled a bit. My hero.

The telltale mason jar

It looks pretty innocent in the photo, doesn't it? Just a greasy mason jar, ready for a wash or toss into the recycling bin.

Until you know that only moments before this photo was taken it was full of liquid bacon grease.

I walked in the kitchen after leaving my kids unattended for just a few minutes too long to find this empty jar. I asked where all the grease had gone (I collected it here after making bacon for lunch until it cooled enough to toss). My daughter said her little brother had dumped it all out into the sink as part of an experiment. She then said it was ok, she took care of it by draining the sink and putting in fresh water for washing dishes.

Mild freak-out on my part. Drained the sink, ran hot water down it for the next 10 minutes. Crossed fingers that it was enough. By this point, the grease that didn't make it into the sink had started to coagulate and I saw the full extent of the damage. All over the counter, the carton of eggs and tissue box on the counter, dumped in the recycling, down the cupboard front, and all over the floor. Oh, and on the leather chair cushion that my daughter was standing on to wash dishes.

Then my daughter informs me her brother has colored on the living room wall behind the couch. Another freak out on my part, slightly less mild this time. I sweep him up to take him up to a time out/nap, then come to my senses and instead put him to work cleaning up. By the time the living room is cleaned up from crayons, toys, strewn cushions, etc, I take him up for a nap.

My daughter comments, "Mom, isn't it nice we're such good helpers?" I wrench out a smile but don't manage to say anything. She offers to help empty the dishwasher, while polishing her own halo. I take her up on it. While we're working, she says, "Some days are harder than others." I burst out laughing to which she comments, "Well, I didn't expect that reaction!" And I laugh harder.

We finish up and simultaneously wonder what her brother has been up to. I go to check and find him covered in red marker on his belly, writing in his sister's special notebook. He says as sweetly as pie that he's making clues for me to follow. Ah ha. So cute. So maddening. So....life as a parent.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Week 97—Go Fish

Mon – Feta meatballs with orange glaze; fingerling potatoes
Tues –  BLTs (never made last week)
Weds – Brats w/grilled corn and asparagus
Thurs – Tacoritos
Fri – Pizza
Alts – eat out; pasta pot-luck
I've never actually played Go Fish that I remember. But my impression of the game is what I'm doing with menu planning this week. Open fridge. Pull something out. Like it, eat it. Don't like it, go fish. Happy cooking.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Main dish decision

We're hosting some neighbors for a mini-reunion this weekend and I'm trying to decide:
grill meat (brats/dogs/burgers)
enchiladas & tacos
big pan of some tasty pasta dish

I'm looking for easy, but good. We're eating outside, so grilling seems like the obvious direction. Maybe kabobs? They can be time-consuming to string, but lovely to behold. Hm. Any suggestions?

Update: Kebobs it is. Tonight my husband and I plan to have a kebob-threading date. Maybe put in a movie or some good tunes and thread away. Woo!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Things that would not be in my kitchen were it not for children (an abbreviated gallery)

Fairy wand

Vintage turtle toy

Plate of drying clay creatures

Sticker on tissue box

Cowboy boots

Kick board

Creature made for Mom's Day gift

Week 96—summer stride

Mon – Dogs and burgers, grilled sweet corn
Tues –  BLTs
Weds – Rigatoni Isabella
Thurs Squash soup and cheddar biscuits
Fri Grandma Barb's Spaghetti (thaw)
Alts – eat out; breakfast
I've hit some sort of rhythm with my recent grocery trips, spending precisely the same amount this week as last. I had some pretty good things happen last week, discovering some mature savings bonds yet to be redeemed and getting free 2-day shipping on a book order because of a nice customer service guy. Maybe that good karma will repeat this week as well?

The pepperoni-roll from week 94 was atrocious. So salty it made your tongue feel like it was shriveling up. Gah. Will NOT be using Pillsbury tube-o-french-bread again. You say I should have known just by the fact that it used Pullsbury tube-o-french-bread? True. So true. Happy cooking.