Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Reporter magnets

On Saturday, our little town (not really so little any more, but it likes to maintain a facade of small-townness) threw it's annual Lazy Daze Arts & Crafts Festival. There were upwards of 50,000 people there, but for some reason, my boys were both featured in the local newspapers.

First, a reporter from the town newspaper asked to take Kiddo's picture while he painted on a wall. It's on the front page of that paper today. Above the fold, no less. The link above goes to the picture.

Then, a reporter from the big Raleigh paper cornered Hub and asked him how he felt about the recent spate of civic "disasters." He had his quote featured in Sunday's paper. That was a bit more buried inside the City&State section, but still one of our friends read it.

Honestly, what are the odds?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Sorry, I don't have a recipe to share...this is my mother's specialty. They are off to Greece and Turkey for a few weeks, for the last Big Fat Greek Wedding my generation is likely to have, so tonight we went there for dinner. Kiddo shocked me by eating and enjoying spanakopita, then following that with eating an entire carrot. Hooray!

I'm tired and grumpy, so I'll do a meme I stole from Jenorama


Number of contacts in your cell phone?
<10. It's new, and I hate cell phones.

Number of contacts in your email address book?

What is the wallpaper on your computer?
Hub and Kiddo.

What is your screensaver on your computer?
It's a laptop -- a screensaver would be a power-waster.

Are there naked pictures saved on your computer?
Yes. Of me, chronicalling the hugeness of pregnancy.

How many landline phones do you have in your home?
Does VOIP count? If so, 4.

How many televisions are in your home?
One, and it's only 27". And over 10 years old.

What kitchen appliance do you use the least?
The bread machine. It seems to think it's a brick-making machine.

What is the format of the radio station you listen to most?


What do you consider to be your best physical attribute?

Are you right handed or left handed?
Very, very, very right-handed.

Have you had anything removed from your body?
A baby.

Would you like to?
I doubt it.

Which of your five senses do you think is keenest?
Sight, ever since I had it fixed with Lasik.

When was the last time you had a cavity?
I've never had a cavity. Ever.

What is the heaviest item you lift regularly?
Kiddo, who is almost 40 pounds. He's a bruiser.


If it were possible, would you like to know the day you're going to die?

If you could change your first name, what would you change it to?
I love my first name. It suits me perfectly.

How do you express your artistic side?
Cooking. My work is surprisingly artistic (Software architect). Singing in choir.

What color do you think you look best in?
Bright blue.

How long do you think you could last in a medium security prison?
As long as the library is well stocked, I could do a few years.

Have you ever swallowed a non-food item by mistake?
I have no clue.

If we weren't bound by society's conventions, do you have a relative you would make a pass at?

How often do you go to church?
Regularly, if you count a Unitarian Universalist Fellowship as church. Many UU's would loudly protest that designation. :)

Have you ever saved someone's life?

Has someone ever saved yours?


For this last section, if you would do it for less or more money, indicate how much.

I just won't bother with the last section. I wouldn't do any of those things for money. I'm just not that kind of girl.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Kiddo is 3!

In the airport on Friday evening, Hub called in a bit of a panic - E. coli had been detected in our town, and there was a Boil Water Advisory. This put a wrinkle into our planned water play for Kiddo's birthday party. But a quick call to Ms. C netted us the use of their big bouncy castle.

I made a solemn vow to NOT COOK A THING for this party. This is really hard for me. I guess I'm cook-proud -- I feel like I have a reputation to uphold or something stupid like that. I am proud to say that I managed to do this party without breaking the vow. And remember, this was a 4-7 pm party for kids and parents. Dinner was expected.

The menu:
- PB&J sandwiches (the frozen Smucker's kind, 32)
- Juice boxes
- Bottled water (lots, especially since tap water was out of the question)
- Mac & Cheese, which Mom made
- Fruit salad, which Dad made (OK, my solemn vow does not include my parents)
- Veggie tray, which Mom made
- Spinach dip, that I bought
- Hummous, that I bought
- Deli station, which consisted of sliced meat and cheese I had to call to Raleigh to order (because of the whole Boil Water Advisory thingy) and which I ordered way too much of, but am very much enjoying the leftovers of...
- 2 lbs roast beef
- 2 lbs roast turkey
- 1 lb sopressata (really not a mover. But I love it)
- 1 lb cheddar
- 1 lb havarti
- 1 lb lemmi (don't ask me, they recommended it)
- mayo
- 2 mustards
- sliced tomatoes
- lettuces
- 3 types of excellent bread
- butter
- assorted pickled veggies
- purchased fancy roasted potato salad
- purchased fancy cole slaw
- beer
- wine

We had 28 kids. Actually, 30 if you count the infants. I'm not even going to try to count the adults. It was a really fun party, with multiple generations and everyone pretty much stayed in the backyard and we didn't lose track of Kiddo too many times and he only had one pass-out episode and no one else got hurt...he has a strange reaction to hitting his head, which is really too frightening to even write about...but luckily it happened 5 minutes into the party and he recovered by 30 minutes in.

Generally, it was a really good party. Kiddo was very happy, surrounded by all his friends. And that was the point.

Today we went for his 3-year well child visit and received a height prognosis...6'1" to 6'4". I'm a little freaked out by that. Where is that coming from? I'm 5'4" in shoes and Hub is 5'9". The only tall guy in my family is my brother, who's adopted. I buy mostly organic milk and meat, so it's not hormones...and yet Kiddo has been at least 95th percentile in height practically since he was born.

BTW, I would be remiss in not mentioning all the amazing cleanup, de-bugging (literally, our backyard is full of mosquitos) and toy setup Hub did for this. He's a rock.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Pasta with fresh tomato sauce

I have about a hundred permutations on this easy, so delicious. This is what I accompanied the lamb meatballs with tonight.

2 large tomatoes
1/3 lb feta cheese, preferably sheep's milk, also preferably in brine
1 zucchini
2 T mint
12 oz whole wheat or multi grain pasta

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions
  2. Chop the tomatoes, put in a bowl, making sure you keep all the juices. At my house, that means guarding the cutting board from Hub, who is very likely to stick his face right down onto it and slurp.
  3. Chop the mint, add to the bowl
  4. Use a vegetable peeler on the zucchini to make "ribbons", keeping the peel but stopping when you hit seeds. Toss those into the bowl.
  5. Crumble the feta into the bowl
  6. Add a little salt and pepper to taste, and toss.
  7. When the pasta is done, take 2-3 ladlefulls of pasta water and add them to the bowl.
  8. Then drain the pasta and add it to the bowl, toss, and serve.

Minted Lamb meatballs

As mentioned in the previous post, I'm in a minty mood lately and have been buying and using a lot of it. Tonight I made minted lamb meatballs, which I served separately from pasta with a fresh tomato sauce (which I'll put in the next post, sort of trying to keep a recipe index thingy going here). The reason I kept them separate is for Kiddo's sake, they could be thrown in. Also, I froze the leftovers for use as an appetizer for Saturday's big 3-year birthday party. Which I'm starting to stress out about. I did a preliminary count tonight and we are expecting at least 25 kids, plus their parents. What was I thinking?

1 1/2 lb ground lamb
2 cloves garlic
1 t kosher salt
3 T mint
1 egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs

  1. Toss all of the above into a food processor (or bowl, in which case, mince the garlic)
  2. Mix it up.
  3. Fry in olive oil, turning frequently
  4. Drain on paper towels

Minted Shrimp salad

If you follow the link, you should see the recipe that inspired this one. I made this last night for my parents. Basically, the substitutions are due to what I had on-hand. As you can tell, I've been in a minty mood lately.

2 lb shrimp, shelled, deveined and poached, cooled
1 cup quinoa, cooked according to package directions, cooled
Juice of 1 grapefruit
.75 oz Mint, chopped
2 T Olive oil
2 green onions, green and white parts, sliced
2 large tomatoes, chopped

  1. Combine the shrimp, grapefruit juice, olive oil and 2 T mint in a bowl to marinate for about 30 minutes
  2. In another bowl, combine the quinoa, green onions, tomatoes, salt to taste and rest of mint (about 5 T).
  3. Mix it all together
I didn't put any feta in last night, and I think it probably could use it.

Monday, August 14, 2006

A summer week of fun...

Two reasons for not posting recently... 1) just not in the mood to cook so much and 2) been hanging out with my buds too much. But here's the lowdown on the past week.
  • Tues. 8/8: went to book club, where we selected the books we'd be reading for the next nine months. Ms. H2 made a gorgeous fruit tart, I'll have to get the recipe.
  • Wed. 8/9: went to the pool in the evening with Kiddo, ate really bad pizza
  • Thurs. 8/10: headed over to Ms. H's house for Thursday night play date. I'm a somewhat infrequent participant in these because during the year I have choir rehearsal on most Thursdays, but it's a neighborhood women and children night and the guys go for beers. I brought the corn and tomato salad, but instead of zucchini I used an avocado, which made it quite different...nice and creamy. I think I prefer the zucchini, though. Ms. H. made an excellent linguine with tomato and goat cheese sauce, which was incredible, and Ms. D. brought and nice salad with walnuts and dried cranberries. The kids ate mac & cheese, chicken nuggets and broccoli, and basically ran wild. Kiddo was very, very happy.
  • Fri. 8/11: I have no idea what we did on Friday. Nothing, I think. Chilled. Played with Kiddo.
  • Sat. 8/12: Actually hired a babysitter for the first time, because my parents were out of town. We went to Mr. T's (that sounds funny) 40th birthday party, and it was great. They live on the lake, and Ms. T. hired caterers to do a "Hawaiian BBQ". Also hired a steel drum band, and even a was swank, and I drank waaaaay too much white wine. I had great conversations with new and old friends, and it was a great night out. And Kiddo had fun with his sitter!
  • Sun. 8/13: We were going to have Ms. N. et famille over, but they canceled, so we did ribs for ourselves again. This time we tossed the broth, though, since I'll be out of town later on in the week.
OK, I have some cool cooking plans tonight, I'll see if I can actually write down any of the recipes. My parents are home, and haven't seen Kiddo in 2 weeks, so they're coming over. It is shocking how much he has changed in only 2 weeks, actually -- and he'll be 3 on Friday! Check out my budding chef...cutting ribs with his Dad.

Monday, August 07, 2006

"Asian" noodle soup

After making Carolina BBQ Ribs, you'll have a big pot of lovely broth left. Let it cool, then skim the fat off the top. Then have fun creating your own "Asian" soup - this is what we did on Sunday, but it all comes down to what we happen to have in the fridge and pantry.

3 Quarts broth
4 pork chops
2 inches fresh ginger, skinned and chopped
4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
4 green onions (we happened to have the whole bulbs, not the green parts)
1 box rice noodles
2 hearts of Romaine, chopped
2 T hoisin sauce
2 T chile and garlic sauce
  1. Simmer the broth
  2. Add the ginger, garlic and green onions
  3. Add the pork chops, cook gently for about 30 minutes
  4. Remove the pork chops
  5. Add the rice noodles and lettuce, cook for 5 minutes
  6. Add the sauces
  7. In the meantime, cut the pork chops from the bones, remove the fat and cube the meat.
Serve in big noodle bowls with chopsticks. If you have cilantro and lime, garnish away.

This is soooooo good. You can substitute about a million ways - using tofu or chicken for the protein, using actual bok choy or spinach for the greens, adding mushrooms, heck, you can even use angel hair instead of the rice noodles. The real key is the fresh ginger, I think.

Oh, and by the way...we threw this together as a quick meal before going to see Fiona Apple in concert last night. Kiddo really enjoyed the cubed pork and noodles, sans broth. And he enjoyed his first non-classical concert, too. The boy is destined to play in a band, I'm sure of it. After all, his mom did!

Carolina BBQ Ribs

Ms. C. called at about 10:00 am on Saturday, with the news that they were filling up the wading pool and doing a casual cookout at 5:00. This is not atypical, and really one of the best things about this neighborhood -- spontaneity.

We had picked up a couple of racks of ribs when at BJ's earlier in the week, so we decided that would be our contribution to the potluck. This is an all-day process, but not at all difficult. I can't be specific on some aspects of it...but here goes.

2 racks pork baby back ribs
1 onion
vinegar-based BBQ sauce, mixed up with some ketchup

  1. Fill a very large stockpot (I use this one) half full of water. Add about 1 T salt.
  2. Cut the ribs at every 2 ribs
  3. Chop the onion coarsely
  4. Simmer the ribs and onion in the water gently for 1 hour, basically until the house smells strongly of pork&onions.
  5. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove the ribs from the water and put in a large container,
  6. If you are so inclined, keep the broth for the next recipe.
  7. Pour the sauce over - this is where I have to be vague. We have a good friend, Mr. R., who makes batches of the best vinegar-based Eastern North Carolina BBQ sauce that we've ever encountered. He has instructed us on how to combine it with ketchup, but beyond that, it's a secret recipe. We get batches by feeding him regularly. I would have to guess that it contains apple cider vinegar, red pepper flakes, whole peppercorns, lots of other spices...oh, heck, who knows? Find a BBQ sauce you like.
  8. Fire up the grill, get it hot, then put the ribs over indirect heat.
  9. Cook them over low, indirect heat for 2-4 hours, turning every 30-60 minutes or so.
The party was great fun. Everyone brought something, cooked or bought - including a cole slaw, potato salad, green salad, lots of chips/crackers and dips. Mr. M. grilled turkey dogs for the kids and set out bowls of popcorn and chips for them. For the adults (fed after the kids) they grilled a turkey breast and a pork loin that had both been marinated in teriyaki sauce. There were 2 coolers on the back porch - one for juice boxes and bottles of water, one for beer.

Out front there was the "wading" pool - a bit larger and deeper than your traditional plastic one - and lots of camp chairs for the adults to sit around and holler at kids from. Kiddo actually got completely wet (he tends to resist his head going under) and learned lots of bad splashing habits from the older boys -- at one point, they decided the best game was to soak me (the sole watching adult) and did a fine job of it.

We ended up closing out the night, as our Kiddo likes to stay up late, as do Ms. C and Mr. M's kids. The only downside of the evening was that Mr. J. cut his finger pretty badly on a bottle that didn't open properly, and Ms. H had to take him to the emergency room. He's OK, though.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Macaroni & Cheese

I used to always make mac & cheese by first making a white sauce, then stirring in grated cheese. While this is still a fun thing to do, my sister-in-law found a super-easy, lower-fat baked mac & cheese recipe for Thanksgiving a few years ago...I found the link as she did on the Cooking Light website. Try it! It is really great.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


I hate insomnia. I should be used to it, it seems to hit me about once every month for 2-3 days at a time. Unfortunately, I have no clue why, maybe I need to start an insomnia diary. What did I eat today? Where am I in my cycle? What is the weather like?

Nah. I'll just ride it out like always.

What I'm mulling over is what to do for Kiddo's birthday, which is on Friday the 18th. I'll be travelling for work that day (argh) but probably want to have the party on Saturday anyway. I certainly don't want to spend much time cooking or preparing for it, because Kiddo will be wanting serious Mommy time - today when Hub told him I would be traveling on an airplane, he said "But I just miss Mom all the time." He then repeated that sentiment to me...making me feel glad, very loved, and guilty as hell.

So, do I give in and get the catering trays from Chick-Fil-A? Ms. H. did that for A's birthday, and it was a hit. Or do I have Hub grill burgers and hot dogs, and make mac & cheese, etc, etc? That's what I usually do, I just don't know that 1) Kiddo will appreciate that and 2) it's his day, not mine. None of the 3-year-olds will care if I made the pesto from scratch.

I'm thinking a compromise...get the catering trays, but make the cake myself. And Kiddo can help me make the cake. I'll even make it chocolate, which he loves, but which revs him up to insane speeds.