Friday, August 29, 2008

Willpower Wednesday (on Friday)

You know how blogs often have cute theme days . . . there's "Muffin Tin Monday" (of course!), Tackle It Tuesday, Wordless Wednesday, Recipe Thursday (ha!), Photo Friday . . . and so many more. Well, I think I need Willpower Wednesday - because I have NONE and I need some . . . fast!

I thought about titling this post, "My DVR is trying to kill me" but really it's me again. I have a compulsive need to empty it. There's no reason to stay up so late watching inane shows . . . but I do it. I NEED MORE SLEEP! The solution is simple - go to bed earlier - but for some reason I simply can't. 11:30 pm seems to be the earliest I can hit and even then I open up a book, do some stupid sudoku, write or lay there staring at the ceiling before my eyes close. Insomnia sucks. I make deals with myself from time to time . . . don't turn the t.v. on past a certain time. Close the book once this chapter ends . . . it may work for a bit but I always end up breaking the deal.

Don't get me started on nighttime snacking! The pounds are creeping up on me and it's (again) up to me to fight it!

Maybe admitting there's a problem (in print) will help me to change. One can only hope!

Oh and I did end up going to bed early last night (to bed at 9:30 and lights out 10:30--pretty good since the past few nights I've looked at the clock and it's been 1:30 am). But then Monkey was up off and on between 2:00 and 3:45 . . . that hasn't happened in months! I guess he knew I was trying to catch some zzz's. Damned if you do, damned if you don't!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Poached Halibut

This recipe is very easy and Monkey will even eat bites of the fish! I've started getting our seafood delivered from Surfin' Seafood. It's great to have it on hand and not have to go to the store (especially now that we're eating fish at least once a week). It's also been very yummy!

And now for the recipe (adapted from Rachael Ray on food network) I use less fish but the same amt of shallots/garlic for four pieces . . .

You'll need:

pan with tight fitting lid
olive oil
2 halibut fillets
sliced shallot (or a thinly sliced 1/4 of an onion if you don't have shallots on hand)
garlic clove (diced)
enough white wine to fill pan about 1/4 inch or so (1/4 - 1/2 cup?)
about a cup of diced tomatoes (or 1/2 - 2/3 of a well-drained can)
thinly sliced basil for topping

Season the fish with salt/pepper.
In a large pan (with a tight lid) add a bit of oil (less than a T).
Lightly dredge the fish in the oil (turn over so both sides get a bit of oil)
add garlic, shallots and wine to pan
Top each piece of fish with tomatoes
Heat to boiling over Medium heat, then put on the lid
Cook until done (but not too dry) about 7-10 minutes

Transfer to plates (add some of the cooking juices and garlic/shallots)
Squeeze lemon over the top and top with basil

Serve immediately

I like to serve this with whole wheat pasta with Newman's Own tomato/basil sauce (if I don't have my own and I usually don't!) or quinoa (then put the fish on top and the quinoa will soak up the juices).

This is a great weeknight meal that looks fancy and tastes great.

Monday, August 25, 2008

It's Official!

Not too much time today (Monkey has a cold and is SUPER needy--I'm not used to this . . . but I better get reminded fast as sucky sick season will soon be here) but I wanted to share that I'm finally officially included as a Contributor at Seattle Picks. Check it out!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Omnivore 100

A friend sent me a link to Very Good Taste (a blog about eating and drinking). Well, I love eating and drinking so I thought I'd join in on the omnivore 100. Here are the details from Andrew (and my results below):

Here’s a chance for a little interactivity for all the bloggers out there. Below is a list of 100 things that I think every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food - but a good omnivore should really try it all. Don’t worry if you haven’t, mind you; neither have I, though I’ll be sure to work on it. Don’t worry if you don’t recognise everything in the hundred, either; Wikipedia has the answers.

Here’s what I want you to do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4.Steak Tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects - it was in H.S. Biology (extra credit for trying them!)
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin (not sure what this is!)
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Please leave a comment here if you decide to add to your blog!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Naked Days

We are currently in the throes of potty training. Last week it was warm so we tried the naked/mostly naked approach. He would have been all naked but the house behind us is doing some sort of remodel (for the past two summers . . . argh! Just imagine classic rock, power tools, loud talking/singing EVERY DAY in your backyard) and so when they come out the undies go on.

One day it was gearing up to be pretty warm so the morning was perfect for a little naked boy. Here is how we spent the morning:

First a round of naked painting

Then we made a house out of a big cardboard box (gotta love a cardboard box!)

Then we decorated the house

After that he picked strawberries for lunch

All in all a good day--and no accidents!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


It's that time of year (finally) when the squash is getting ripe. You spend so much time waiting for it and then it's finally here . . . and then you're thinking, "what the heck do I do with all this squash???" Yeah, you could make some muffins but what about dinner?

Here's a recipe that can use up some of your squash and rosemary (I have a bounty of both) and you can also throw in garden tomatoes. We don't have enough yet (Monkey keeps eating them as soon as they are ripe so there's no build-up).

This dish is good vegan and even yummier with the addition of Pecorino or Parmesan cheese.

You'll need:

Pasta (I like to use a short tube pasta)
olive oil
1/2 onion (diced) - optional - I like onions
about 3 squash or zuchs (or use up a bunch!) - cut into 1/2 moons about 1/4 inch think
garlic clove (minced)
T chopped fresh rosemary (I use a bit more than this)
Can of diced tomatoes (or fresh!) drained
2 cups garbanzo beans (or well-rinsed if using canned)

Start the water boiling for your pasta (salt the water). We've been using 100% whole wheat pasta but I long for the days of its non-brown compatriots. Sigh . . . okay, back to the recipe . . .

Heat the olive oil over medium/med high heat until it shimmers
Cook the onions until almost translucent
Add your squash and cook until tender (3-5 min)
Add the garlic on top (don't let it burn) and cook for about 30 seconds or so
Add in the tomatoes, beans and rosemary
Stir to combine and put it on low until the pasts is ready (or at least 10 minutes)

Serve immediately with cheese to pass (I like the sharper bite of pecorino with this dish but parm is fine too!)

optional: toss a bit of white wine in when adding the tomatoes

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Foot Frenzy

Here's a fun (outdoor!) project to do with your toddler . . . foot painting! No, not a painting of your foot but painting with your feet. Foot prints to be exact. If I'd been prepared I would have used those big washable stamp pads (but we don't have any and I'm never prepared) so we just used plain old tempera. It's a bit slippery on the feet (but that's part of the fun) so I would advise holding hands as your little one steps.

I used the big dishes from our bubble wand sets for the paint. I have to give a MAJOR plug for these bubble wands. They are really easy for young kids to use and make their own bubbles (as any hyperventilating parent knows this is a GOOD thing). My son's been using them since before he turned two and has always been successful at producing bubbles without help. You can get your own at street fairs around town (they often have a booth) or here. I recommend getting the two wand set with the dish--great for playdates!

Okay back to the foot art experiment:

As I mentioned, big washable stamp pads would produce a better product but this was really just about messy fun in the driveway. I let Monkey pick out two colors of paint and I put a bit in each dish.

I had set out a large piece of paper on the edge of the patio so he dipped a foot and went to town. He insisted mama feet be included on our masterpiece so I dipped in as well. It was squishy, good fun. Afterwards we washed our feet with the hose (I put it out ready for us and made sure he couldn't get anywhere near the house w/out a rinse first) and stomped our feet on a towel. I highly recommend having a nearby water source and a towel at the ready.

After we finished he was much more interested in watching the water run down the driveway . . . but art time was fun while it lasted.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Muffin Tin Breakfast

Today's tin is in response to the breakfast challenge at Sycamore Stirrings. Monkey's first ever muffin tin meal was a rainbow breakfast so we tried it again (sans rainbow).

spinach eggs
toast fingers
more spinach eggs
white flesh nectarine
black velvet apricot (who knew! I had to get it when I saw it at the store--kind of plummy and good)
plain old cantaloupe.

Check out the other muffin tins here.

Friday, August 15, 2008

It's Better Than Butter

Check out my latest piece on Cafe Besalu in Seattle Picks (and then head over there for some munchies--because I wasn't exaggerating--it is sublime).

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Recipe Thursday - Vegan Enchiladas

Now, before you stop reading at "vegan", there are no soy products or fake cheese, or anything like that in these enchiladas. If I hadn't mentioned vegan you wouldn't even realize something was missing--I mean it! This was the first thing I made for Mark after his diet change that he didn't say, "it's good but it needs some meat" or "this would make a good side." It's also the first thing we decided we could make for friends. I've taken this to a lot of summer bbq's this year so Mark would have something to eat and have gotten a lot of requests for the recipe. Okay, now I've built it up too much--but really, it's yummy! Let's get down to the recipe:

Black Bean & Roasted Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Two large sweet potatoes
T olive oil
Clove of garlic (minced)
small chili (I've used mild and medium but hot would be good too--I like to use red for color)
2 cups (or can of black beans--if you use a can be sure to rinse well--I like to use a can & 1/2 when I haven't had time to make my own)
Small can of diced tomatoes (I think it's 14.5 oz) or whole plum tomatoes chopped & drained (I've also used a big can and added more beans)
T Chili Powder
Tortillas (I use whole wheat)

Preheat Oven to 400
Peel & dice the sweet potatoes and put in a single layer on a lightly oiled baking sheet
Roast for 20-30 minutes (shake or turn over once) set aside to cool
(you can do this the day before too)

Lower oven to 350

Heat olive oil in large pan over medium heat
Cook the chili and garlic until fragrant (30 seconds or so) don't let them brown
Add in the beans, tomatoes and chili powder and cook for about 5 minutes
Add in the sweet potatoes and lower heat. Let flavors blend for 10 minutes or so.
Remove from heat.

Lightly oil a baking dish
Spoon a thin layer of salsa on the bottom of the dish (I like to use green salsa)
Place a few spoonfuls of the mixture in a tortilla, fold the ends in and roll up (place in dish)
Continue until dish is filled.

If you have leftover filling, spoon it over the enchiladas
Spoon more salsa on top
Sprinkle with chopped red onion

Cover and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes (sometimes I remove the cover to crisp it up a bit for the last 10 minutes or so).

These are also wonderful with jack cheese (just add a bit to each tortilla and sprinkle on top). I made two pans for a party (one with cheese and one without). They both emptied out but the cheese went first of course!

This recipe was adapted from Vegan Planet which I HIGHLY recommend. We've liked almost everything I've made from this book.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Keeping Mine Small

Last weekend we went to a family bbq and I was amazed at how my cousin's children (whom I haven't seen in a long time) have grown . . . and yet I haven't aged a day! It's truly amazing . . .

Just the other day I realized how summer seems to be passing by way too fast but now I feel that LIFE is suddenly stuck on fast forward. I've decided that Monkey will just have to stay the way he is. I'm keeping him small. In fact, I think I might just encapsulate him in amber. He turns three in September and, apparently, it's really beginning to freak me out. I feel like I've spent so much time waiting for him to be a certain age for classes, cool projects, etc. and now we're there and time is speeding up. It feels like the next time I turn around he's going to be a lanky teenager.

Speaking of lanky teens, I see small hoards of boys roaming our neighborhood and I shudder as to what we're in for in the future. Will Monkey be a little hooligan? Will he be nice to girls and kind to puppies and . . . but I'm getting ahead of myself (like usual). It's hard for me to stay focused on the present but I'm going to try this year. I don't want to miss out on any of this--crazy tantrums and all. I fully realize that he won't automatically run to me with that open, beaming face forever.

Parenting . . . it's bittersweet!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Handbag Giveaway

The Contest is over . . .

A friend of mine was just telling be about a cute bag she sewed out of place mats (I've yet to see it but it sounds darn cute). I can't sew to save my life but would love to try (hopefully not in order to save my life). I just stumbled across this giveaway for a handcrafted handbag from this talented lady. Check it out!

Muffin Tin Monday at the Beach

Monkey's latest muffin tin was eaten on the deck at Kingfisher Cabin on Vashon. The beach was much more interesting than the day's muffin tin so not much was eaten (although all the blackberries were promptly inhaled). Here it is in all it's beachy glory.

Cheese & Turkey
Grape Tomatoes
Blackberries picked from the driveway
Baby Belle Cheese
Black Beans

Alas, we are now home from the beach. I miss it, but I love sleeping in my own bed WITHOUT Monkey!

See all the muffin tin mamas at FrannyKate's Creative State (Sycamore Stirrings is on vacation).

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Mormon Muffins

Recipe Thursday

A lovely friend of mine (who grew up in Utah) brought these muffins to share for an overnight we had with the kiddos at the Kingfisher Cabin on Vashon. Monkey loved them (and I inhaled a few too many myself). I made them again this trip and they were well received by all (and I'm not a pro baker like she is so this was an amazing feat). This time I made them with whole wheat flour so they weren't quite as attractive but just as yummy. What's great about this recipe is that the batter stays good in the fridge for a week so you can bake what you need each day. Fresh muffins without going to the coffee shop--yum!

These muffins were made famous by the Greenery restaurant in Ogden, Utah. Get the recipe here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Fun with Snails

I love to watch Monkey exploring his world. When he discovers something new (and let's face it most things are new to those that are two) I feel like I get to experience it all over again too. It reminds me of how I felt as a child. My dad used to try to explain this wonderful parenting phenomena to me via this story:

When I was little, my dad would take me on walks around the neighborhood. When this began he was really into getting from point A to point B--that's what a walk is all about, right? You're going somewhere for goodness sake! Well, that (of course) was not what walks were about for me. Walks were about discovering new things and picking up gross stuff. One day I stopped (yet again) and was bent down looking at something up close and personal. My dad stopped to look too. I was about to touch some chewed up gum and his instinct was to pull me away from the disgusting glob and continue on the walk. But on this day I looked up at my dad, pointed at the glob and said, "horsey!" with such joy and wonder that he stopped and looked at the gum blob. He's told me this story again and again and always says, "and damn if it didn't look like a horse!" So from that day on he decided to slow down and look at life from kid-level (and he hasn't stopped since--love you dad!). I try desperately to do that and some days I succeed (and of course many days I don't).

Last week we played with a snail. It had rained in the morning and the snails were all over the place. They were desperately trying to get back to cover as the sun was now blazing. He found a few in the driveway and then (after I was ordered to find more snails) we went all over the yard looking under big leaves and finding whole families. After his interest dwindled he decided to ride his trike around the deck while I fixed up his muffin tin lunch. As I was arranging the fruit I hear, "Mommy! It's moving!" so I come out to see what the fuss is all about. He'd found another snail stuck to the bottom of the plastic cup he uses to water the plants with his leftover pool water each night. Now, as a child I thought snails were cool and exotic (because we didn't have any that I know of in Seattle--the first time I ever saw them was in California and I thought they were the cutest things). Well, times have changed for me and snails and now they are the bane of my existence (well, my garden's existence) and when I see snails I don't feel all cuddly anymore. But enough about that . . . I held all my hatred for the snail inside and shared the moment with Monkey. I showed him how the tentacles shrink when you touch them gently and how it pulls back into his shell, etc. I brought out lunch while he was still "experimenting." As I came out he was talking to the snail and he offered to share his lunch. He decided the snail would like some cantaloupe so gave him some. All in all it was a great little moment in kid-dom that I got to share. After all the cuteness was over he threw him onto the driveway (oops). I feigned concern for the snail but inside I was cheering that the little bastard wouldn't be eating our tomatoes (although I'm sure his cousins will).

Monday, August 4, 2008

Muffin Tin Monday

Monkey's latest muffin tin:

salami & cheese
butterfly pbj
alpine strawberries from the garden

Check out the party tins over at Sycamore Stirrings. I couldn't get my party in gear this week, but we did eat this in the garden.

Monkey left some in the tin but instructed me to "save it in the fridge & put back in tin later." So I then had to wrap it up and take it on the ferry with us since we were off to Vashon. I ended up snacking on it since he fell asleep! But now we have a muffin tin at the cabin just waiting to be filled.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Time is running out!

It happens every year . . . you're finally into the swing of summer and suddenly you realize it's almost over! I had grand plans for this year. We were going to do all sorts of exciting side day trips and overnights and, and, and . . . and now almost all weekends are taken up! What happened to the camping trip I so wanted to plan? Hopefully the weather will stay decent into October and we'll get out there to experience a night or two in a tent with Monkey. Mark thinks I'm CRAZY for wanting this :) but he'll indulge me as long as I can get us all out there. I bought a tent and everything (there's no way we're going in our teensy backpacking tent!).

Other things on the list we haven't gotten to:

Remlinger Farms
Biringer Farms
Wolf Haven
NW Trek

There's more I'm sure but the list is at home and we're on Vashon so let's focus on what we HAVE done!

Kingfisher Cabin on Vashon the best part (aside from the beach) is the grandparents next door!
Lots and lots of digging and splashing at Golden Gardens
Exploring at Carkeek
Checking out the fish (and boats) at the Locks
Fish & Chips at the Totem House
Splashing in the backyard pool with friends
Monkey learning to ride his tricycle
Margaritas on the deck, more margaritas on the deck . . . and more . . .
Park dates with lots of friends
Boat rides with Monkey
Monkey visiting his cousins
Feeding the goats
First vegetable garden ever
Swimming in the Sound (yes, I'm a crazy born & bred Northwesterner)
Fun with snails
Picking berries
Farm Tots at South 47 Farm (sans wagon ride as Monkey balks each and every time)
Painting in the backyard
Naked days (for Monkey, not for me!)
Monkey's first popsicle (first of many now!)
many trips to get CHOCOLATE ice cream cones at The Scoop at Walter's
Outdoor "soccer"
Swim lessons
Owls, eagles, kingfishers, seagulls, ducks, etc.
Muffin tins
Point Defiance Zoo trip
Family Reunion
Countless hours of throwing rocks into the water
Looking for crabs (and watching Monkey's face as one scrabbles across his palm)

and hopefully we'll stuff a few more things in before fall arrives!
What have your favorite activities been this summer?
Or what's still on your list?

Act now!

p.s. Let me know if you have any good (nearby) campsites to recommend. I am DETERMINED!

Friday, August 1, 2008

What a difference 7 days make!

This year we finally filled in the planters Mark built when he covered the hideous green concrete patio with our new deck (he's cute AND handy!). So I decided to jump into the wild world of vegetables. I've always been a perennial gal and have only grown tomatoes in pots but this year I wanted Monkey to see some edible stuff grow--and I hope and pray he may EAT some of the bounty. Gotta stuff some veggies in that kid somehow!

Well, the weather and my plans did not coincide too well this year. I didn't think we'd ever have tomatoes after weeks of watching my plants just sit there. Who knew all we had to do was go away for a week! Everything shot up while we were gone (thanks to M for watering so well!). My beans have gone past the top of the pole and are madly twirling themselves towards the clouds. Monkey's beans are almost to the top of the pole (he insisted on planting his own spot). The squash has exploded and today I saw actual squash! Wahoo! Let's hope the pumpkins are on the same track.