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Archive for November, 2009

Your Vote Counts!

Ok, so perhaps it counts only for my own amusement, but that’s a worthy enough cause, right?

Our trouble-making little one is slated to arrive in just days and we still don’t know the gender.  Now, our kids have cast their votes (pretty much along gender lines with a “one of each” thrown in by one little turkey) because we like  for them to feel included.   Here’s your chance!

 If you don’t want to make a blind guess, I can give you some information that is absolutely no help whatsoever.  First, I always have a really strong feeling about what I am having, and so far, my intuition is 3-0.  Second, I bought a lot of blue stuff the other day, but I’m not removing the tags and washing it until after Wednesday.  Third, we have name options for both genders. 

So what do you think?

~K

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Present Perfect

presentBaby number four is five days away and we still don’t know the gender.  For the fourth time, we chose the wait-and-be-suprised option.  It’s fun!  It’s like receiving a wrapped gift and being told not to open it for nine months. 

( A gift that grows a little every week and causes indigestion, fatigue and periodic mental distraction.)

I know the suspense is too much for some people; we who choose to wait are in the minority.  Believe me, I know.  Because the same friends and family who cannot wait to know about their own baby get a little antsy about mine!

With every pregnancy I’ve had several people moan and complain, “I can’t stand it!  How am I ever going to wait until you have your baby?”  or “You’re killing me with this suspense!  Are you sure you don’t want to find out?”   After I politely suggest that they get a life, I assure them that yes, we are really going to wait.  (Just kidding on that get-a-life part, though I may have suggested a hobby or two.)

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I confess that with our third child I wanted to “find out” before the baby was born.  We had twice waited the full forty weeks to open our present and I thought it would be fun to experience a pregnancy the other way, knowing the whole time what we were having, calling my growing bump by name and getting to know her before we ever saw her. 

The suggestion was not well-received.  Considering his horrified response, I might have said to my husband, “Hey, you know, we’ve already got two cute little kids.  Why don’t we just pass this one off to the highest bidder when it’s born?”

So number three was also a surprise.  Until the moment she was delivered my husband and I wondered if we would soon hold a baby girl or boy.  It was exhilarating when finally the bows and paper were torn away  as the doctor cried, “It’s a girl!”  

Waiting to see,

~K

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woman_joggerbackTraining myself to run was one of the best things I ever did.  When I completed my ultimate goal of running thirty minutes without stopping, I established a significant reference point for the rest of my life. 

If I can make myself a runner, I would think, I can tackle that problem, survive this ordeal, figure that out, etc. 

I know, running nonstop for thirty minutes is hardly climbing Mt. Everest, but it was daunting enough that the sense of accomplishment seared itself into my memory.  It also taught me an invaluable lesson about breaking down an overwhelming task into manageable portions.

That’s exactly what my new running regimen did for me.   It was actually a run/walk program, a way of easing my body into the habit of running endurance. I had one thirty-minute workout every other day.  Every two weeks the amount of walking would decrease and the running would increase. 

For the first two weeks I ran one minute and walked four minutes for half an hour.  During weeks three and four, I ran two minutes then walked three.  (Each session was bookended by a few minutes of walking and stretching.)

I’ve just got to say it again:  it was so much better than simply deciding to be a runner one day and heading out the door for a “cold turkey” three mile run!

 I wish I could say that my new program made running a breeze. The truth is that it was still hard.  The training schedule made it easier, more manageable, but my body still had to endure the discipline necessary for me to become a runner.   At the end of my first few workouts, it was near-agony to run for sixty seconds.

But then, by the end of that first two weeks running for a minute  was no longer a challenge. My body and mind longed to be pushed a little harder, a longing I immediately regretted during the next training segment!  This cycle repeated itself each time I entered a new two-week phase.

I remember visiting my family once during the early part of the 3/2 phase.  My younger brother joined me for my daily run, playing drill sergeant when he thought I needed to pick up the pace and match the rate his six-foot, three-inch body managed.  It wasn’t bad actually.  I had never run with a partner before during my new training routine and it felt good to have the encouragement.

Then, in the very last week of training, during which I ran for the entire thirty minutes, something wonderful happened.  Shortly after the first mile, an incredible sense of energy and strength infused my body.  I felt as if I had been made to run.  I quit watching the time and simply ran until it didn’t feel good anymore, just a little over four miles. 

Finally, I understood “runner’s high.”  And I’m hooked for life.

Next time:  re-training or, wondering if the high is gone forever.

~K

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American Flag
In memory of my two grandfathers and father-in-law, and in honor of my father, brothers, and brother-in-law.

 

Thank you, veterans.

 

~K

 

 

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This week I tried recipes from a few of my go-to girls.  If you’re in a meal-planning rut, or simply need to avoid doing something tedious but infinitely more important, the following reviews might be just what you need!

  • Cranberry Applesauce, by Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes:  I don’t know what was better, the fragrance of cranberriesthis sauce as it cooked or the sweet, slightly tart taste of the final product.  Oh, it was delicious!  Three more points in its favor: it was quick, easy, and the kids loved it.  From start to finish it took about thirty minutes, twenty of which were hands-off cooking time.  I served it warm with a pork roast, accompanied by mashed potatoes, Caesar salad and these rolls…
  • Buttered Rosemary Rolls, by Ree Drummond at The Pioneer Woman:    I bought a 12-inch, pre-seasoned cast iron skillet just to make this recipe and it was worth every penny. The melted butter slid down between the rolls to the bottom of the pan where it worked with the hot skillet to give an almost crispy texture to the bottom of the rolls.  I used the frozen Rodes rolls that Ree recommends  and a coarse-grained sea salt that can be found in any grocery store.  I can still taste that first salty, buttery bite.  Bread, butter, rosemary and sea salt.  Is there anything left to say?
  • Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas by Lisa at Homesick Texan:   I’ve been eager to make this recipe for
    chicken-enchiladas

    Photo courtesy of Homesick Texan

    several weeks. When our family dined at a “Mexican Food Restaurant” near our new home the other night, I knew it was time to make these enchiladas. What a hit!  The filling is pretty basic, so it’s all about the sauce.  The texture was pleasantly creamy and neither too thick nor too thin.  But best of all was the perfectly balanced flavors.   The combination of freshly roasted tomatillos (you can also used canned), hint of cumin, and fresh cilantro lifted it far above the pale, over-salted sauces too often found on a Tex-Mex plate.

How much did we love these dishes?  Well, they’ve all earned a place in the family cookbook.  And that’s as good as it gets around here!

Happy eating!

~K

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Finally, I’ve reduced the stack  on my nightstand! This was a light read, easy to pick up and put down as time and responsibilities demanded.  

Leeks

I have a thing for leeks. I hope they're actually mentioned in this post somewhere...

Julia Child’s memoir of her time in France is that of a love affair with a country and its rich culinary tradition. 

For this reader, the details of classic French cookery are frankly, sometimes nauseating.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m a friend to butter, cream, fat, and all those awful things that taste so delicious.  But I enjoy fresh or lightly cooked vegetables and food that hasn’t been overly fussed about.  Consider this passage, a brief description of her three-day’s labor to create a “mammoth galantine de volaille“:

First you make a superb bouillon–from veal leg, feet, and bones–for poaching.  Then you debone a nice plump four-pound chicken, and marinate the meat with finely ground pork and veal stripe in Cognac and truffles.  Then you re-form the chicken, stuffing it with a nice row of truffles wrapped in farce and a fresh strip of pork fat, which you hope ends up in the center.  You tie up this bundle and poach it in the declicious bouillon.  Once it is cooked, you let it cool and then decorate it–I used green swirls of blanched leeks, red dots of pimiento, brown-black accents of sliced truffle, and yellow splashes of butter.  The whole was then covered with beautiful clarified-bouillon jelly.

Whew!  Call me pedestrian, but after reading that, all I want it is a fresh plate of greens with a bit of nice oil and vinegar and a tall glass of cool water. 

The charm of Child’s memoir is not the food, it’s her  enthusiasm for her work.  She pursues her beloved with relentless energy and curiosity.  When evaluating the recipes that would eventually form part of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, she writes that

Working on soups, for instance, I made a soup a day chez Child. On the day for soupes aux choux, I consulted Simca’s recipe as well as the established recipes of Montagne, Larousse, Ali-Bab, and Curnonsky.  I read through them all, then made the soup three different ways…my guinea pig, Paul, complimented the three soupes aux choux, but I wasn’t satisfied.

She is a perpetual student, a scientist, an evangelist, and at the end of her story she has converted her home country to the joy of cooking in the tradition of her beloved France.

Happy reading and happy eating,

~K

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Chili Weather

 Chili PowderAs soon as there’s a discernible chill in the air, I hoist my crockpot onto the kitchen counter and dump in a few ingredients for one of our family favorites, a hearty meat-and-bean chili.  There are a lot of reasons to love this recipe, not the least of which is that it reminds us of the lovely couple, Tony and Marie, who first shared it with us. 

But, since you don’t know Tony and Marie, you might be more intrigued by these facts:  it’s tasty, easy and economical.  And that’s a culinary trinity that’s certain to get me into the kitchen! 

Please, give it a try and let me know what you think.

 

Crockpot Chili

This makes a large batch.  With two adults and three young children, we always have enough left over for at least one more meal.  So I usually make this once a month and freeze half of it to enj0y a couple of weeks later.   One of my favorite uses for the leftovers is Taco Salad.  Delicious!

1.5 lbs lean ground beef or turkey

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

3  (15.5 oz.) cans beans, drained (I use all black beans, but you can use a different type or three different kinds altogether — it’s your chili!)

1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce

1 (4.5 oz) can chopped green chiles (such as Ortega)

2 Tbs. cumin (ta-da! the star ingredient, here!)

1 tsp. chili powder (or more, to taste)

Garnishes and sides:  shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa, pico de gallo, saltine crackers, sweet yellow cornbread, Fritos, Tortilla chips, warm corn or flour tortillas

Put it Together:  Brown the meat in a large skillet over medium heat.  After the meat starts to brown, add in the chopped onion.  Dump the meat and onion mixture and the remaining ingredients into the crockpot and cook 6-8 hours on low heat.  If you want this to be ready a little faster, cook the meat all the way through before adding it to the crockpot, then heat all ingredients together for 3-4 hours on high.

 

Enjoy!

~K

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