Saturday, June 30, 2012

On the grill, obviously

When it's 90 degrees out and I just spent the whole day at the beach, I'm not always one for firing up the oven and making things even toastier.  Dinner tonight was pork burgers, grilled brussels sprouts, and those yummy garlic fries again (I had to use some more of the scapes).  The bad news is that I burnt the fries this time.  The good news is that the rest of dinner was good, and many of the fries were salvageable.  

Pork Burgers
1 lb ground pork
1/3 c. panko
1/4 c. milk
1 beaten egg
1 tbsp mustard (I used dijon, but whatever floats your boat)
hamburger rolls for serving

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl using a fork, then form into 5 patties.  
Preheat the grill to medium-high and then cook the burgers for about 6 minutes per side (you want them cooked through, but not dry)
Note:  Apparently, if you like sauerkraut, these would be good topped therewith.  However, I think sauerkraut is vile, so I can't speak to that point.  

Grilled/Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Hear me out on these: they're good.  Forget all your preconceived notions about brussels sprouts (including the way that boiled brussels sprouts smell - blech).  Even the kids like these.  Pete won't eat them (wuss), but that just means more for us.

About as many brussels sprouts as you can hold cupped in your two hands is enough for 4 people.  (I never weigh things at the grocery store).
olive oil
sea salt

Wash and cut the brussels sprouts in half if they're small, in quarters if they're large, trimming the woody end.
Toss into a grill basket or on a baking sheet.
Coat with olive oil (I don't know - 3 tbsp?)
Season generously with sea salt.

If you're grilling, grill on medium high heat until the sprouts are both soft and browned (it's okay if they blacken in spots), probably about 20 minutes.  Stir them occasionally.

If you're roasting, heat the oven to 400-450 (depending on what else you're cooking) and cook until they are both soft and browned (it's okay if they blacken in spots), probably about 30 minutes.  Flip once during cooking.

Honestly, these brussels sprouts don't even need bacon.

What a Week

So this was the first real week of summer vacation, where Lea, Jax and I were all home together.  We kicked it off with a bang, taking a trip to Storyland with some friends.  The weather was "eh" but we had a great time.  Lots of rides, very few lines for those rides, very little fighting amongst the kids.  It really doesn't get better than that.  

(best picture ever)

I thought that we'd break up the 3.5 hour ride back by stopping at my brother-in-law's house, who is adored by the children and who has a pool in his backyard (an awesome combination, in case you're shopping for a new family.  I highly recommend it).  The weather could not have been more cooperative, and it was hot and sunny and the kids swam for hours.

While there, I checked facebook and found out that the Affordable Health Care Act was upheld.  What an amazing surprise!  I don't know what made Robert's lean the way he did, and frankly, I don't really care.  Of course my support is behind Obama, but if he loses, this is the sword to fall upon.  As of right this second the AHCA hasn't directly impacted by life, but I've spent enough time in hospitals this past year to know that worrying about health is enough worry.  Health and crippling debt is too much.  

Friday involved returning home and settling into a "normalish" routine.  Pete passed the 4th of his benchmark tests for his CFP, which is awesome!  But Friday night I got the tragic news that the son of a friend of the family had died after a long fight with complications from infections brought about by leukemia.  He was only 22.  What to say?  It's just so so wrong.  

And I've been thinking about what I wanted to say about all of this, because how does it fit together?  It's not a narrative.  It's a timeline - this happened, then this, then this, and that is a boring read.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this past week has been such a microcosm of all life.  Sometimes things go well even when it seems iffy.  Men (let's be honest, it's still mostly men) make important decisions in far off places, and sometimes they help us and sometimes they hurt.  Sometimes we rejoice and other times we threaten to move to Canada.  And I woke on this beautiful morning and prepared to take my children to the beach, thinking all the while that there is a woman who will never again hug her son, and that pain is too deep, too unbearable to fathom, and yet she is feeling it right now.  It really doesn't make sense that it all can be happening right now.  

But I'm going to stand up from writing this post and I am going to go make dinner, because that is what we do.  Get up and put one foot in front of the other when it's good, when it's great, when it's awful.  I will hug the kids a little tighter tonight and hope for another good day tomorrow, and we'll keep on keepin' on.   

Monday, June 25, 2012


Oh brinner, is there nothing you can't do?  

These pancakes were a hit.  Jax declared that I made the best pancakes in the world, and Lea described them as "softer than a feather pillow."  I swear I'm not making that up.  The hyperbole's cute here, but less adorable when she's declaring that I'm the worst mother in the world (which is hyperbolic, I hope).  

This is a heavily modified epicurious recipe.  You should note that it is not sweet, so if you're looking for something sugary, this ain't it.  But if you like your pancakes a little less sugary, or like an excuse to use a little extra maple syrup, these are perfect.  

Sour Cream Pancakes
2 c. flour
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 scant tsp salt
3/4 cup light sour cream*
11/4-11/2 cups milk
3 tbsp canola oil
2 eggs

In a small bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.  
In a slightly larger bowl, mix the sour cream, milk, canola oil and eggs
Mix together thoroughly, but it's okay if a few lumps remain.

If you have a griddle, heat it to about 300.  If not, heat a nonstick skillet to medium heat, and spray with cooking spray (or use a touch of butter, if you'd rather).  Onto the griddle or skillet, ladle between 1/4-1/2 c batter, and cook until bubbles rise to the surface (about 3-5 minutes for the first batch, a little faster thereafter).

(look, I remembered pictures.  You can see the expansive and modern kitchen in which I do all of my gourmet cooking. Hopefully the pictures get better).

Flip and let cook about 2 more minutes, then keep warm in a 200 degree oven.  

I served with butter, maple syrup, and a side of fruit.  

(notice that the children require their syrup in little bowls, because heaven forbid it touch something, even though they dunked every single thing on their plate into that syrup).

*yogurt would probably work just as well - go with plain greek if you like the tang, or regular vanilla if you want something a little sweeter.  Go light on the milk if you're using yogurt, as it's thinner.  

Why a blog?

I am totally late to the blog party.  This is passe, but not yet retro.  

And yet here I am.  I have been toying for a while with the idea of putting together a cooking blog, and that will be a big piece of what this is.  But even though I spend an inordinate amount of time each day figuring out what we're all going to eat, I do more things than cook.  So I think that this is going to be a place that tries to weave together a bunch of different things; kind of a "how do we find the time to eat well when there's so much other stuff going on too?"  It'll be a place to share that "stuff" and how we nourish ourselves in the process.  

The name?  Even though I am constantly juggling 900 different things, sometimes even I have to stop to do some basic self care.  This isn't a place to be Martha Stewart, or the penniless parent, or the pioneer woman.  It's the place to share how I do the best I can as often as I can, and how I do that.  But sometimes I fall way short, and that's ok.  Even Mom has to pee.  

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Dinner without the kids

I think that the best part about this dinner was that I didn't have to get up during it once.  That said, it was pretty tasty too.  My goal is to get pictures of this kind of thing, but for now, recipes only.

Southwest Turkey Burgers 
1 lb ground turkey 
2 tsp taco seasoning
diced black olives to taste
sliced pepperjack cheese
slices of sweet onion
slices of bell peppers

Mix the turkey, taco seasoning and black olives together, and form into patties (I made 5 good sized burgers).
Heat a grill to medium high heat, and place the onions, bell peppers and burgers near the middle.  Cook about 8 minutes, then flip them all.  
Cook about 8 more minutes, then top the burgers with the pepperjack.  Cook until the cheese melts, then pile it all (burger, peppers, onions) onto buns, with a little lettuce and tomato (if you're into that kind of thing).

Grilled Garlic Fries
These were good.  Really good.  Worth the 3 step cooking process.

5 medium potatoes (I used yukon gold, but regular baking potatoes would work too)
5 inch piece of garlic scape or 3 large garlic cloves, minced
olive oil 
2 tbsp butter

Peel and cut the potatoes into a basic fry shape.  I wasn't too picky about it.
In a steamer basket, steam the sliced potatoes until they have softened, but aren't mushy (err on the side of undercooked here - probably about 5-7 minutes)
Dump the potatoes from the steamer basket to a grill basket, give them a minute or two to air dry, and coat them with olive oil (about 3 tbsp)
Cook them on medium high heat for about 20 minutes, stirring every so often so they brown evenly.
When the potatoes have about 5 minutes left, melt the butter in a skillet over low heat and cook the garlic 'til it's soft but not brown.  
Remove the potatoes from the grill and toss them in with the garlic butter to coat.  Season very generously with sea salt and pepper.

We also had a salad.  Like I said, it was a good dinner.  

Friday, June 22, 2012