Monday, September 24, 2012

Dinner is served

I have no plan. I need to finish a freelance project. I went to bed waaaay too late. One of those days where I want to point everyone to the fridge and say "Have at it."

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

136—Cooking for the ever-changing zoo

Mon – Tomato Quiche (still enjoying garden tomatoes!)
Tues – Beef Asado (this recipe is stunning. ADD THE OLIVES, even if just a few. I used kalamatas. Adds a really interesting richness to the dish. So good.)
Weds – Pancakes, by popular demand
Thurs – Out?
Fri – Pizza
Alts – Chip plate; Chinese takeout if it looks like our student is starving to death

We have been in a state of constant human motion at our house lately. Visitors, family near and far, exchange students, kids, all in this stirry soup of changing beds, bedrooms, arrivals and departures, and middle-of-the-night adjustments. Less of a still pond, more of a gently flowing river that kicks up and threatens to slosh over the banks now and then.

So, meal planning this week is less about a solid plan, and more of a dip-your-toe-in-and-see-how-it-feels approach. After all, at almost any moment there might be 4 more people here. Happy cooking.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sweet Morning

Found a decent recipe for no-rise, no-yeast cinnamon rolls, after I couldn't find my usual recipe this past weekend. My 5-year-old and I had fun making these together. For better or worse, he's a pretty skilled cinnamon roll roller.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


It happened! I got to try an Aussie hamburger tonight, in all its glory. In order of assembly:
- bun
- lettuce
- tomato
- burger
- beet slice
- over easy egg
- bacon (heart stopped yet?)
- grilled mushrooms and onion
- thick slice of fresh pineapple
- ketchup on top (or whatever you want)
- optional bun lid

It was fabulous. It should have been photographed, but I was too immersed in the flavor festival to bother getting up, mopping my sopping hands off, and digging out my camera. Thanks, JJJ&J for a great new taste experience!

Friday, September 14, 2012


Mon – Lasagna (Von Hanson's)
Tues – Crock-pot beef roast
Weds – Tomato white bean soup and crusty bread; Sushi?
Thurs – Goulash (kid-requested)
Fri – Pizza
Alts – Chip plate; Chinese takeout if it looks like our student is starving to death

Tried a Fast Chicken Soup recipe from last week. It starts with chicken broth and a rotisserie chicken.  I'm not sure you can go wrong no matter how you make a chicken soup, and this was no exception.

My daughter started violin lessons a few days ago and was practicing a folk tune called "Boil the Cabbage Down." She said the song made her feel warm, but that she didn't like cabbage. I couldn't remember the last time I made it. Tempting to try this week, maybe as a wrapper in some Greek dish or something equally distracting from the very cabbage-ness of it. Or maybe we'll just hum the tune as we pass some lovely heads in the produce aisle.

Also just learned that Wednesdays are $5 sushi day at Lund's grocery store. Might grab some Weds to supplement the soup. Happy cooking.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Chinese exchange student's observations on American food

There are meals that have been barely touched, and others that have been more inhaled than eaten. It's easy to tell what this kid likes. Here are some of Vince's observations on food, a week into his stay with us.

1. KFC is more common in China than McD's.
2. Americans use a lot of sauces.
3. Chinese people eat out almost every meal (home late), so there's a ton of good food available cheaply, at all hours.
4. Teenagers in China like to go to DQ with their friends.
5. "We don't have this in China. It's not exactly cheese...I like it." referencing our tub of Smart Balance "butter spread" he was smearing on his toast (and butter/margarine products in general)
6. His mother's advice: "If you're going to drink soda, drink Sprite. It's not as bad as Coke. Even better, drink water."

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Birthday Week 2012

I'm going to start out by saying that this was not a spectacular year of cake-decorating. But truly, the kids didn't really care as long as they had candles to blow out. 
I enjoyed that my daughter threw together a literal napkin sketch for me as I entered the kitchen to decorate. The mountain is the cake, sitting on a glass cake plate. The little dots are frosting. The vague figures under the dots were to be various Littlest Pet Shop characters drawn in frosting.

I was pleased she thought I had that level of skill in decorating a BUNDT CAKE. So what I created looks a little more like a hat a frail little grandmother would wear. No problem. At least the fluff on the Pet Shop character didn't ignite when we lit the candles.

My son's cakes are supposed to be Lego Ninjago spinners, dueling right there on the table. Everyone thinks they look like alien space ships, so at this point I'm going with that. 

Which reminds me. I made a "classic yellow" cake mix for my son's cake. Tell me what the difference is between Classic Yellow, Light Yellow, and Vanilla Yellow. Why do they sell all three of these at my grocery store under the same brand name? I must have debated that for at least 2 minutes before settling on Classic Yellow. It was much better than I expected for a box cake mix. Good thing I didn't go with the Light Yellow. Might have been terrible!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

134--Back to School

Mon – Grandma Barb's Spaghetti
Tues – Turkey kielbasa, potato, garden-veggie fry 
Weds – Hot dogs cooked over the fire, beans, s'mores
Thurs Exchange family picnic
Fri Pizza
Alts – Chicken stir-fry; cod & squash
Love this week of getting back into some sort of sane routine. We have had more fun this summer than you can shake a stick at, and it's time for some serious normalcy to set in.

Monday was no school, enjoying-the-day-with-spouse-at-my-side cleaning like mad. And enjoying free breakfast at IKEA for the last time this summer. Ah.
Tuesday was the 1st grader's first day back and we picked up our Chinese exchange student from the airport.
Wednesday, Vince lights the fire and roasts hot dogs in the backyard fire pit. We learn he is NOT a fan of s'mores. Must not be American.
Thursday is the Kindergartener's first day of school.
Friday will be pizza and movie night, I think.

Happy cooking.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Google Query: What should I feed my Chinese exchange student?

Fortunately, I found quick answers to this search I plugged into Google within an hour of Vince's arrival this evening.

"Vince" is staying with us for a month or two from southeast China. The little movie I just watched online assured me, as a host-mom of a Chinese student, that they eat everything. In fact, she said they have a saying for people from the southern part of China: "They eat everything with legs except the table and chair."

Nice! Maybe this will rub off on my own "Nutella sandwich - honey and butter sandwich - olive oil sandwich" threesome.

I'm off to make some sort of Tupperwared lunch for the kid to take tomorrow. After that, maybe a trip to the grocery store to find at least a couple things he'd find as comforts from home. If he's at all like our Chilean exchange student, it'll be something horrifying and all-too-American like Cocoa Puffs.