Monday, February 25, 2008

Pad Thai

The kids loved dinner tonight!

I have a weakness for anything spicy, salty, sour, and sweet. And what better dish to capture all 4 of my favorite flavors than Pad Thai? I've been on a Thai food kick lately. I went to Thai Chili Garden for lunch 2 weeks ago, went to Thai Ruby last week, made Green Curry with Thai sticky rice (in the hat shaped bamboo steamer even) for dinner Sunday, and today made Pad Thai. Oh, what glorious noodles! I used the recipe from and found a favorite! It's in my book entitled The Best 30-Minute Recipe, one of my favorite cookbooks. Ok, any cookbook by CooksIllustrated/ America's Test Kitchen is a favorite.

My substitutions: I did substitue soy sauce for the fish sauce because I didn't have any. Honestly, I love dishes with fish sauce in a restaurants, but at home it just doesn't work for me. I'm sure I just bought a bad brand. After all, who doesn't love fermented fish in a salty solution? I hate shrimp, so I used shredded chicken. And I doubled this for a main meal for our family of 5. I also used lemon juice for the 1/3 cup lime juice, but I did have lime wedges to squeeze at the dinner table--that's the kids favorite part, squeezing the limes.

A wok might be the implement of choice in restaurants and the old country, but a large 12-inch skillet (nonstick makes cleanup easy) is more practical for home cooks. Although pad thai cooks very quickly, the ingredient list is long, and everything must be prepared and within easy reach at the stovetop when you begin cooking. For maximum efficiency, use the time during which the noodles soak to prepare the other ingredients. Tofu is a good and common addition to pad thai. If you like, add 4 ounces of extra-firm tofu or pressed tofu (available in Asian markets) cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 1 cup) to the noodles along with the bean sprouts.

1/3 cup water
1/3 cup lime juice, fresh
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional if cooking for kids)
4 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil
8 ounces dried rice stick noodles , about 1/8 inch wide (the width of linguine)
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon table salt
12 ounces medium shrimp (31/35 count), peeled and deveined, if desired
3 cloves garlic , pressed through garlic press or minced (1 tablespoon)
6 tablespoons chopped unsalted roasted peanuts
3 cups bean sprouts (6 ounces)
5 medium scallions , sliced thin on sharp bias
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
lime wedges

1. Cover rice sticks with hot tap water in large bowl; soak until softened, pliable, and limp but not fully tender, about 20 minutes. Drain noodles and set aside. Beat eggs and 1/8 teaspoon salt in small bowl; set aside.

2. Make sauce by combining lime juice, water, fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, cayenne, and 2 tablespoons oil set aside.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet (preferably nonstick) over high heat until just beginning to smoke, about 2 minutes. Add shrimp and sprinkle with remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt; cook, tossing occasionally, until shrimp are opaque and browned about the edges, about 3 minutes. Transfer shrimp to plate and set aside.

4. Off heat, add remaining tablespoon oil to skillet and swirl to coat; add garlic, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds; add eggs to skillet and stir vigorously with wooden spoon until scrambled and barely moist, about 20 seconds. Add noodles, to eggs; toss with 2 wooden spoons to combine. Pour fish sauce mixture over noodles, increase heat to high, and cook, tossing constantly, until noodles are evenly coated. Scatter 1/4 cup peanuts, bean sprouts, all but 1/4 cup scallions, and cooked shrimp over noodles; continue to cook, tossing constantly, until noodles are tender, about 2 1/2 minutes (if not yet tender add 2 tablespoons water to skillet and continue to cook until tender).

5. Transfer noodles to serving platter, sprinkle with remaining scallions, 2 tablespoons peanuts, and cilantro; serve immediately, passing lime wedges separately.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Nephites vs. Lamanites

The kids are always hyper after church. Always.

All three of them are playing around and 'rough housing' when the following conversation occurs:

Hallie: "Hey guys, let's plays Lamanites!"

Nathan: "No Hallie, let's play Nephites. The Nephites are good."

Hallie: "I don't wanna be good. I wanna be bad!"

Two minutes later.....

Hallie: "Now let's play Nephites! Because I'm good to Jesus and I teach people!"

Friday, February 22, 2008

Chillin' with Chili

I love a good pot of chili in the winter. It’s a meal in a bowl—protein, fiber, and vegetables. And it’s a meal that everybody in the family likes—that in and of itself is a miracle. Oh, and it's healthy too. But I don’t make the authentic chili with dried ancho chilies and chuck roast because it just takes too darn long. Nope, I like the kind of chili that takes around 30 minutes to make. To me the perfect bowl of quick chili has to have three components—lots of veggies with a tomato base, beans, a good spicy (not necessarily hot) flavor. So after several attempts I think I finally created my perfect chili recipe. Let me know if you try it and like it. This makes a big pot! The pot is this picture is 7 quarts. It’s enough for my family of five to have dinner twice! I love leftovers for lunch during the week.

2-4 T. olive oil
2 chopped onions
1 T. cumin
1 T. chili powder
2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
1 pound ground beef*
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 large can diced tomatoes (28 oz)
2 cans tomato sauce (8oz)
1 tomato sauce can of water
2 can kidney beans, drained
1 can black beans, drained
2-3 chopped red and/or yellow bell peppers
½ a bunch of chopped cilantro

Toppings: pepper jack cheese, sour cream, lime wedges
Good homemade cornbread. (I like Mark Bittman’s from How to Cook Everything)

In a large soup pot or dutch oven heat olive oil. Saute the onions and spices for 2-3 minutes. Spices need to cook in oil to ‘bloom’ them. Don’t skip this step! Add the ground beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. After the ground beef has browned for 4-5 minutes, add the garlic. Stir until combined. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the onion and bell peppers are soft. Turn off heat and stir in cilantro.

Serve with toppings of your choice and lots of good cornbread.

*To make a chicken chili add 2 cups diced cooked chicken. I like to just shred a rotisserie chicken from Costco.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Surprise Babies

Ok, so my sister-in-law Ilene just blogged about her surprise pregnancy. I was particularly interested in the comments thus far to her blog about how many other ladies out there have had surprise pregnancies. I’ve never had a surprise pregnancy. Ok, so I’ve never had ANY pregnancy. I’ve never gone into details in this blog about our infertility, and I never will.

The closest we’ve ever come to having a surprise pregnancy is the surprises that come from finding out what all is entailed to adopt children in this glorious world. So my dear blogging friends, I’ll open up about something I rarely talk about. I don’t talk much about adoption because I just don’t think it’s a big deal, not because there is anything shameful or un-natural about it. Adoption has been the biggest blessing to our lives. If you ever say anything negative about it to me I’ll punch you in the face. Ok, I won’t punch you, but I’ll role my eyes and then give you a mouthful to your earful. Not that any of my friends would ever say such ignorant things.

But here, my dear readers are some SURPRISING facts that you may or may not know about adoption— (This is not going to be a blog about how awesome my kids are, that’s another blog, or actually all my other blogs.)

1. You have to be finger printed by a police officer. Yup, Paul and I got the full criminal treatment in the basement of the police station. The whole speech from the officer about, ‘Stand here on this line, keep one hand behind your back. We’ll move each finger across the paper, you just hold your hand limp.' I nearly cried as we did this. I felt like screaming, “Does every couple have to do this before they have sex and conceive?” They should, you know. Only fair.

2. You have to answer 52 essay questions in great detail. Well, if you go through LDS Family
Services you do. Here are some actual questions: I still have them on my computer: Describe your parents including education, occupation, personality, interests, etc.; What are the strengths and challenges of your marriage ?; Describe your methods to teach and discipline children.; List possible hazards in your home and how you manage them for safety. For example, firearms, medication, etc. Oh, lets save these questions for date night Paul!

3. You get to write out checks left and right to various groups. One is to the state for your
BCI (Bureau of Criminal Identification) check. What’s funny about these background checks is that after adopting three kiddies we now know that Paul’s will always be held up for further investigation. Yup, my hubby, the man with only a few traffic violations has an evil twin out there with a similar name who is a criminal so they always hold his BCI check to do further investigations. Again, I ask, do other couples have to do this before they have babies? What would the fertility rate in this country be if BCI checks were a must before conception was allowed? Yea, I know, sounds like Brave New World. Sort of.

4. You have a series of home visits. The first is to determine if your home is safe for a child. On the days we’ve had ours we put away our automatic weapons, our Samurai sword collection, and dump out the cigarette butts from all our ashtrays. After the baby is placed with us, the case worker comes 2-3 more times. So we put away all the contraband items again.

5. And my favorite surrpise of all, the on going questions from morons, such as; “Which ones are yours?” or “What is she?” or “Is her Dad dark?” See, this is where I know the camera from heaven is zooming in on me because all Christian thoughts have now left my brain. I feel like it’s a test from above or below, not sure which. Do I have compassion on this ignorant soul and nicely answer the question? Or do I go with my instinct and humiliate them? Either way, its being written in the book of life and I’ll have to answer for my behavior. Dang it.

Give me morning sickness and stretch marks any day.......

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Pillow Talk

Yards of linen.....too many scraps to count.....inspired by Denyse Schmidt's book on quilts........the result? Lots of pillows!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Ode to Postum

Oh Postum, Postum please come back
How could Kraft just give you the ax?
I should’ve stocked up, for that I am berated
Even Seinfeld knew you were so under rated.
I’ve drank you all these years so long
Now I’m singing the Postum-blues song

You’ve been my drink since I was small
I still love you now, though I’m almost 6 feet tall.
In the winter I loved you hot with sugar and cream
In the summer, so cold, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream
That former delight I called it a Postu-ccino
Twas the drink of choice for this girl from Chino

I could never make my husband on you sold
But what does he know? That boy likes Rocky road!
Now my kids, my kids, here’s my big “Oh No”
I never shared you with them, instead giving them cocoa.
Perhaps if I shared you we would’ve bought more
And now I could find you at the grocery store.

Alas, you are gone, gone, with the likes of Tab *
Perhaps I could brew you in my kitchen, my lab?
No, no, I don’t think that will cure my fix
I’ll just have to switch to Pero or Cafix

So farewell, farewell to my hot anti-coffee friend
And just know that I loved you all the way to the end.

* I know you can still buy Tab but it rhymed, back off.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Haute Couture

Paul and I went away last night to Salt Lake City. When we came home today we discovered that Hallie has dressed herself--floral pants, soccer jersey, Grandpa's old camping hat, marshmallow coat. We even took her out in public like this. No, not to Wal-Mart where she would fit in, but to the good ol' library.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Liverpool Dress

Inspired by the housedress in Amy Butler's Midwest Modern Book (left photo), I am making myself a tunic to wear over jeans. I've been toying with the idea for months but thought I was too old to pull it off. After seeing Amy Butler, who I think is around 40, wear it on page 142 of her book, I decided I aint too old! So I bought her pattern for the Anna Tunic and away we sew!

Amy called the dress on the left the Liverpool Dress "after deciding that it looked like something the Beatles' girlfriends might wear in the early 60s." So see, it's more rock-star girlfriend, than housewife. It's all in the packaging.

A ScreenSaver that Saves

I realize I blog too much about our long winters here in Utah, so quit reading if you're tired of the whining until April or so.

This is the wall paper on my computer right now. It reminds me that somewhere on this planet we could still use the phrase "God's green Earth." Because right now if I were to use that phrase I'd change it to "God's white snowy slushy Earth." Not quite the same effect.

(This is a picture of me at Akaka Falls, near the city of Hilo, on the island of Hawaii. Sigh.)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Take That You Evil Snow!

Snow is powerful stuff. After 3 months of constantly having this white stuff on the ground it begins to affect me in strange ways. Snow has the power to make me want to sell my house and move closer to the equator. Snow leaks toxic fumes into the air which, if inhaled enough, make me yell at my kids. These toxic fumes also lead me to long bouts of baking cakes, pies, and crisps. It makes me log onto the internet and browse airline rates to Heaven, aka, Southern California. Snow is what your mother warned you about.

But today, for the first time in a few months, we hit 44 degrees. The kids were all excited as I picked them up from the bus stop, coat in hands. "Mom it is HOT today. I don't even need my coat!" So like all good kids with cabin fever in February, Ilene thought it was perfect bike weather. She got this very pink bike for her birthday in January and it has sat in the garage due to all the blankety-blank snow that just won't melt. On Saturday, Paul took our snow shovel and cleared ALL the sidewalks on our side of the street so that his little girl could ride up and down. So today was her second time getting to ride the bike in the sunshine. Enjoy the weather little girl, tomorrow it goes 'cold' again.


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