Saturday, March 31, 2012

Death and New Life in the Kitchen. An Easter Tale.

We've been raising sea monkeys in our kitchen since Santa brought a kit for Christmas. The first attempt never really got off the ground, and after a month we conceded defeat and mailed in to the Amazing Sea Monkey Company for a refill pack of eggs.

The second attempt resulted in a successful hatch. Just as we'd given up on ever seeing the tiny little critters, close inspection revealed Topper, Sinker, Cinco, Tap, and Centro, and a couple others.

Aside: the names were mostly based on the location of a sea monkey at the moment it was being referenced. "Topper" was the sea monkey closest to the top, "Sinker" was the lowest, "Cinco" was the 5th one counted, and so on. They usually shifted enough that we never really needed the full 7 names.

We were enjoying our little sea monkey community, curious about the one with an extremely long tail, wondering how big they would grow.

Imagine my shock when I came into the kitchen for breakfast last week to discover an empty habitat. I have to admit that even as the grown adult in the room, I was fairly disappointed, and immediately began to go through stages of mourning. Denial, anger, loss. It was all there.
Exhibit A: Empty Habitat

An explanation came when I called my husband at work. His reaction: "There were sea monkeys in there?" In efforts to find the source of a slightly swampy odor in the kitchen, he assumed it must be dried sea monkey corpses and stagnant water, and tossed the water. And, of course, the sea monkeys. Apparently we hadn't shared the daytime joys of watching Topper, Sinker, Cinco, Tap, and Centro with the night crew (my husband). Uh oh. My reaction: "Want to talk to Oscar?"

We remedied the whole situation today with a new pet. We made sure we picked one that was big enough for Dad to see. So far so good. Matt's lesson from all this is that when you're in a house with kids, never throw away mysterious containers of water. He tossed a tooth left out for the tooth fairy at his nephew's house a couple years ago. He spent 15 minutes digging through the food disposal drain until he found it. No such luck with the sea monkeys.
Exhibit B: Very Visible Pet Beta

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Honey at Cub in Bear

Mmm. Honey. Honeeeeeyyyyy. 

Practically its own food group at our house. The only food that never spoils. What you're looking at here are two lovely samples given to me by a friendly bee-keeper at my local Cub Foods grocery store. He was stocking the shelves personally with his product, and after finding out we were honey lovers, offered us a sample of his regular and whipped honey. 

This image is my way of thanking him for his tasty gift. He was so excited to have his product at the store. It was a really nice moment of local farmer in the large chain grocery store. Buying local doesn't always require a trip to the farmers market, eh?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cinnamon Girl

Or in this case, boy, for all you Neil Young fans out there. He smelled great all day.

You can also see from this photo that I'm making progress in covering all of my interior home surfaces with plastic.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Week 118--Barking Dogs

Mon – Cube Steak Parmesan (from
Tues – Brats and dogs on the grill, asparagus
Weds – Broccoli cheese quiche
Thurs – Rotisserie chicken for something from "Simply Mexican"
Fri – Road Food 
Alts – pizza
Now that summer is here, I hear what feels like incessant barking through my open windows. 2 neighbors, 4 dogs that all love to bark. Me bitter? Annoyed? Ready to have some fun with some high-pitched sonic device that will make the four-legged furries as crazy as I am? Possibly.

But when it's dinnertime, here's what's happening in the kitchen this week. Happy cooking.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Fish Friday Recipes

I've had a couple of successful new recipes this Lent. Tonight was beer-battered fish tacos with an excellent (and easy) white sauce.

A couple weeks ago I went out on a limb and made a tuna noodle casserole. Probably the first tuna casserole of my life, and it went over much better than I expected. What I mean by that is my husband and I ate it, as well as the left-overs. My kids ate the noodles, or none of it, but it's a casserole/hot-dish, which means various foods are touching one another, so that rules out 1 child for sure, and possibly more if they aren't at starvation levels. Which they apparently weren't.

The funny thing about my search for the tuna noodle casserole was reading descriptions of what people described as "like mom used to make" or "with ingredients you have on hand." The recipe that suggested I would likely have all the ingredients on hand had precisely ONE ingredient that I had on hand. The tuna. Other ingredients included a couple different "cream of --" soups, American cheese, and oyster crackers. Strikes 1, 2, and 3.

The recipe that made the cut was, shockingly, from epicurious. How often do you have a) the time and b) the ingredients to make a spur-of-the-moment epicurious recipe? Not exactly my normal week-night go-to at this stage of life. Anyway, the directions fit on one iPad screen and had ingredients that I happened to have on hand. Vitally, the reviews sounded promising. FYI, I substituted wine for the sherry and skipped the mushrooms, subbing in some red pepper. I'm extremely proud of myself for these variations on the published recipe since only about 5 years ago I would have been completely incapable of this type of Bold Move.

So if you're feeling tuna-casserole-ish, give it a whirl here: Tuna Noodle Casserole.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Week 117—Spring has sprung

Mon – Pizza
Tues – Chicken stir-fry
Weds – Hot dog and asparagus cook-out
Thurs – Beef and Noodles (canned beef from my mom—SO good)
Fri – Fish fry out, or at home TBD
Alts – left-overs from the weekend
Can you say 70˚ anyone? Crazy warm weather this week, so we're enjoying picnic lunches and a mid-week cook-out. It's great to be outside without coats, boots, mittens, scarves, hand warmers, ear muffs, leg warmers, double socks, and hats. Happy cooking.

Chalkboard baby book

Sad, but true. You're looking at the 18-22 month portion of my son's baby book. The chalkboard wall in my kitchen is a stream-of-consciousness catch-all for me as I'm cooking meals or cleaning up. Without thinking about it too much, I started to jot down little notes to remind me of things I should include in his ACTUAL baby book. 

When I get around to it, that is. This does make me think that he might just have a section of chalkboard photos for his toddler years. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Week 116–Dinner for 5

Mon – Chili and baked potatoes (meal exchange)
Tues – Meatloaf (meal exchange)
Weds – Chicken fingers, corn, oven fries
Thurs – Enchilada Casserole (Taste of Home)
Fri – Crab cakes and salad, bread and butter (throwing a bone to the kids)
Alts – left-overs from the weekend
Since my youngest is now occasionally eating meal portions that rival his parents, I believe we're officially cooking for 5. By high school, they'll each need their own pizza to eat if I remember my own youth.

Hanging out with grade school and junior high best buddy, Susie Meffert (where is she now?), we'd order a Little Ceasar's "Pan-Pan" pair of pepperoni pizzas. Then we'd sit down with a pizza each and play Ouji board until we got a little too concerned that one or the other of us might end up in the spirit world permanently. Then we'd carefully pack it away, mop the grease off our lips and find something of this world to occupy our time. Like asking our parents if we could let our pet rabbits mate for a school science project. Good times. Happy cooking.