I do have standards, you know…

Here’s one thing I won’t eat: Brussel Sprouts.

I never really remember having to eat brussel sprouts when I was growing up. I know that my mom planted them in the garden one year, but I don’t remember ever actually eating them. I do know that she never grew them after that.

A few years ago I figured out why. AJ and I were in the grocery store trying to think of an interesting vegetable to pair with a steak, (new york strip for those of you who wonder about that sort of thing) and we came across Brussel Sprouts.

“Have you ever had Brussel Sprouts? I haven’t.”

“No, I wonder what they taste like…a cabbage maybe?”

We took a whole bag of those cute tiny cabbages home, steamed them to perfection and served them with butter and seasonings alongside our steak.

First bite: Involuntary gag.

Second bite: dutiful chewing.

Third bite: spat into the napkin.

Here’s what I’ve always wondered since then; is there a scenario where brussel sprouts taste good? All you vegetable-haters can keep your comments to yourselves here–I love vegetables in all shapes and sizes…except small, round, green, and leafy.

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A Story in Pictures: The Life of a Pie

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This is Violet eating some chocolate-peanut butter pie filling. Here is the illustrious recipe for Creme de la Cream Pie.

First: make a crust.

It’s real simple but you need to  obey the rules. (cold butter, don’t touch with hands, don’t add too much water.)

  1. 1 1/4 cups flour.
  2. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  3. 1/3 cup butter (not not not margarine or anything that doesn’t say “butter” on the label)
  4. 4-5 tablespoons cold water.
  5. sugar

Mix flour and salt, cut in butter with two butter knives till the butter pieces are no larger than the size of your pinky nail. sprinkle water over the top and mix gently to form a ball. roll out on countertop using sugar to keep from sticking. roll the crust thin enough to fill the entire pie pan. bake at 350 for 10ish minutes or until lightly browned.

Next, The Pie

  1. 3/4 cups sugar
  2. 1/4 cup cornstarch
  3. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  4. 1 1/2 cups milk
  5. 1 cup whipping cream
  6. 3 egg yolks
  7. 1 tablespoon butter
  8. 2 teaspoons vanilla
  9. 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  10. 2-4 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter.
  11. 3/4 cup coconut lightly toasted
  12. 2 bananas
  13. 1 cup whipped whipping cream. (not coolwhip)

CUSTARD: Mix  dry ingredients in saucepan.  add milk and cream and stir till smooth. cook and stir constantly over medium heat till thick and bubbly. Add a small amount to the three beaten egg yolks and mix together. Pour egg mix to saucepan and stir quickly to mix the eggs in before they cook.  cook for 1-2 more minutes. remove from heat and add vanilla and butter.

ASSEMBLATIONISH: Immediately pour half the custard into another bowl. Pour half cup of toasted coconut into bowl, and 3/4 cup of chocolate chips into the saucepan with remaining custard. stir chocolate mix till melted. add peanut butter to taste. stir coconut mix till combined. Using an electric mixer, split the whipped cream and whip it into each pie filling until creamy and smooth and creamy.

STACKING: When pie crust is completely cool, pour the coconut cream onto the bottom and spread. cut up the bananas and place over the top of the coconut cream mix until you are satisfied with banana to creamy ratio. Next, dump the chocolate peanut butter cream on top of the bananas, and spread.

chill and garnish with coconut and banana slices. BAM!

 

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I never did have a problem with prioritizing…

Don’t judge me just because you’re jealous.

in threeish weeks we are going to the east coast for a couple weeks to bask in culture, history, adventure, and…food. That’s right; you say “DC” and I say, “Amazing selections of ethnic foods!” You say, “Philadelphia” and I say “Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches!” You say “New York” and I say “Cheesecake, Pizza, and hotdogs from a street vendor!” You say, “Boston” and I say “Boston cream pie and Boston baked beans.”

Whew! I get hungry just thinking about it. I have no problem admitting that I dearly love great foods. (Key there being great).

I mentioned earlier this year that we were going to Philly to find out once and for all who was better: Pats or Geno\’s cheese steaks sandwiches. Now we have to add Jim\’s because that’s what the locals have told us. We only have one full day in Philly, so that’s going to mean a lot of cheesesteak in a short amount of time. For those of you who are wondering, it’ll be “wit” please!

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“FREE! 10 Pound Bag of Apples With Every Purchase”

That’s what the sign said. You’re probably thinking I saw it at the grocery store or a feed store or something. Nope, a car dealership. That’s right.

“Hey there sucker! If you buy a car from us, we’ll even throw in seven or eight dollars worth of apples.”

I bet they were red delicious too. I totally love apples, but I draw the line at red delicious. Maybe if I had an organic one straight from a tree I wouldn’t mind it, but in general i don’t classify them in the apple family; I classify them in the “gross” family.

The best part about having two of my siblings staying over for the week is their eating habits. 1: they aren’t picky at all. 2. it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to get rave reviews at the dinner table.

that sounded really bad. of course there are other wonderful things about them staying over for the week. like all the free babysitting.

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This is why you’re fat

It’s actually the name of a website. We visit it often. Here it is. Before you progress any further into this post, please click on the “here” link so you can get an idea of where I’m coming from.

AJ desperately wants to get something to submit to this website. I told him that if he came up with something I would make it. My mistake. Here, is his idea.

  1. First, you take 2 slices of chocolate chip banana bread
  2. then, you smear one side with marshmallow cream and the other side with Nutella
  3. Then, you sandwich these together with banana slices in the middle.
  4. After which, you dunk the whole thing in yellow cake mix batter.
  5. Next, deep fry the sandwich, taking care to keep it together.
  6. When it cools, dip the whole thing in melted milk chocolate,
  7. and roll it in toasted almonds and coconut.
  8. serve with whip cream and a cherry on top.
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Say Wha?

Yes, I actually meant to type “wha” instead of “what”. It’s for dramatic effect. That however, is probably not the reason a local home daycare posted the following sign out by the side of a busy street.

“BLOOMING YOUGSTERS”

Try as I might, I can see no dramatic effect achieved by eliminating the “N” in “youngsters”. The best part? Someone obviously spent a lot of time and energy making this sign. Seriously, there was a lot of work put into this sign. Sadly, real life doesn’t have a spell-check button.

As I told my sister earlier, sometimes when you’re an adult and you go into the kitchen to make something for dinner and you have hardly anything to choose from, you end up making some pretty weird stuff. Case in point: tonight’s dinner was “Porcupine Hash”. Yes, I just made that name up. Yes, I know it’s brilliant, and yes, it is already copyrighted.

Here’s what I did. (When you have a $150 food budget for the month and you don’t use food banks or anything else, you get creative).

1 can tomato soup

1/2 jar leftover spaghetti sauce

3 cups cooked brown rice (short grain)

about the same amount of raw hamburger meat

a little water to rinse the leftover pasta sauce into the casserole dish

4 or 5 carrots, diced and peeled (but not in that order)

1 can of white great northern beans

Dump everything except the hamburger meat into a casserole dish and mix together. season to taste with salt, pepper, chipotle seasoning, seasoning salts, etc. add hamburger and mix well. cover with foil and bake at 350 for at least an hour.

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I’ll admit it…

I’m a foodie blog stalker. There, I said it. I realize you probably have more important things to do with your day than look at luscious photos taken by people just like us who cooked up something crazy good and posted a picture and recipe for us to drool over.

Here is a list of just a smattering of foodie blogs for you to whet your appetite on. Please please please look. I promise you’ll be hungry or inspired, or both.

http://oneordinaryday.wordpress.com/

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/category/all-pw-recipes/ (this blog deserves some time spent looking around as it functions more like a website and not like a single-paged blog, but it’s time well spent in my opinion)

http://smittenkitchen.com/

http://annies-eats.com/

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2008/09/cooking-with-ryan-pasta-carbonara/ (here’s a good example of a foodie blog at it’s best. You could probably be a bad cook and still make it turn out perfectly becuase you get to see the step by step process. Seriously, look at this link–you’ll poop your pants.)

 

And one more link for good measure:

http://1000awesomethings.com/

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random

Violet has a booster seat/highchair now, so she sits at the table with us during dinner. I made her some spinach/banana/rice cereal stuff.  Tonight we all held hands and prayed before the meal; AJ’s big hands, Violet’s tiny chubby hands, and my medium-sized hands. The first of many.

I bought paint today. So excited. The guest bathroom is going to be blueishy, Violets room is going to be winnie-the-poo-y, the hallways are going to be creamy goldish, and the master bath is going to be a lighter green version of our bedroom walls. Now I am looking for some glass tile pieces to glue to the mirrors for a faux frame.

Violet stayed in the nursery the whole time we were at MOPS today (Yay). Thats because I told them not to try changing her diaper and also there were new toys. When I came to get her, several of the babies were crying but she was just sitting there…playing with her new toy and watching them.

side note: is it wrong that it totally makes my day to see people I know driving crappy cars too?

FYI: be on the lookout–we are trying to think up an outrageous story to email Dave Ramsey so he’ll read it on the air. any ideas? (am 630, 4-7pm)

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Quote of the Day

“Somewhere between my brain and my hand, it got all goofed up.” –anonymous

AJ and I went to a little Mexican bakery in town today. Now, I’m all about eating authentic foods, but Mexican bakeries are a joke! Its like they take one type of bland cookie/breadish dough and then just shape it into different shapes and fill it with different things and cover it in sugar–they all taste the same! Plus, the bakery was pretty nasty inside.

So I’m curious; quite a few of you read my blog, so answer me this:

Have you ever had anything good? Do they make good things? Don’t get me wrong: I’m a taco-truck devotee with the best of them, but the whole bakery idea just isn’t working for me.

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Words cannot express…

how much I anticipate the arrival of the greatest film of the year, perhaps the decade…nay, the century. Here It Is. This is a must-see–for everyone.

Anyway. You should seriously watch that preview, it’s…interesting.

It’s official–AJ is sickish too now, so today I made a huge pot of chicken soup. I always make it from scratch (like a whole chicken, and no pun intended). I put olives, mayo, radishes, and brussel sprouts in a pot and just cook that sucker up! Actually no, that would be disgusting. What I actually put in my chicken soup is a little more orthodox; carrots, onion, celery, garlic, cilantro, my secret seasoning mix, and of course, chicken.

Step 1: boil whole chicken in pot with salted water. (this time i added chipotle seasoning)

Step 2: debone chicken. Place all meat in fridge and throw away skin, bones and everything else. This of course assumes, that I threw out the nasty stuff inside in the first place like the kidneys and heart.

Step 3: Here’s hoping you haven’t thrown out the broth from step 2. Chop up all vegetables. Add them in the order of how long they need to cook: carrots, onions, potatoes, celery, garlic, cilantro. Sometimes I also add other things like spinach, parsley, uncooked winter squash, sweet potatoes or yams, summer squash, whatever. I also prefer to use a garlic press instead of dicing it up.

Step 4: Add secret seasoning mix. (Salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper powder, dried red pepper seeds,dried herbs (italian seasoning, rosemary, basil) and anything else that looks interesting…chipotle seasoning, Mrs Dash, etc) Don’t make it so spicy that you can’t eat it, but enough so that your nose runs. That’s what napkins are for.

Step 4.5: Alternately, you may also add rice or pasta at this point–be careful, it gets really thick really fast.

Step 5: Add chicken to pot when vegetables are tender, not soft. Turn off heat.

I always cook everything at a boil. I know most recipes say words like “simmer” but if you stay in the kitchen and watch the pot, you dont have to worry about it boiling over. Honestly, by the time I finished putting the last vegetables in, it was almost ready. This recipe can make anywhere from 4-8 quarts of soup. This depends on several factors: the size of the chicken, how much vegetables you use, and how much water you use. This meal gets “tupperwared” and frozen for lunches, and quick dinners.

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Snapshot into my day

Time: 1:30pm

Place: My kitchen

Me: in the middle of making pie crust for my blackberry pie and my peach banana pie. still wearing pj’s.

The counter-tops: covered in mess from pie crust, and melting bags of last summer’s fruit.

Violet: sitting at my feet waiting patiently between spoon-fulls of melting blackberry bits as a bribery so I can bake.

 

Side note: this happened right before she discovered that the walls in the kitchen could open to vast chambers containing an amazing new toy apparently called “Tupperware”.

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One if by land, two if by sea…

This fall when the leaves change–that’s where I’ll be. D.C, Philly, and Boston.

We are budget travellers, but we know how to treat ourselves right, so right now we are in the planning stage where we network, pit airlines and hotels against each other, and look up fun places to see. When we went to Europe, we followed the advice and tips of Rick Steves , so we are looking around to see who/what can give us tips for the east coast. We will look into couchsurfing again, as long as we can find some non-creepy people to stay with, as well as AOR/KOA look-alike possibilities.

One thing is for sure: We plan on finding and eating the finest Boston Cream pie in Boston, comparing the two best Philly Cheesesteaks in Philadelphia, and whatever food is significant in originating from D.C. Any ideas?

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