Friday, September 28, 2007

back to daydreaming

the week has been busy with work work work. we've been working hard to get some documentation done for a client, and today is D-day, so ready or not (right or wrong!), it's going out. i'm looking forward to a short day today.

i'm telling myself we will take it easy this weekend. all we have to do is the tour at the hospital tomorrow, and the bbq championship for dinner after that with mom and dad. i plan on staying in bed as late as possible tomorrow morning. i might even make it to 8am before i feel the need to get up!

bryan spent a good part of yesterday getting ramped up for halloween. in our old 'hood in atlanta, we hardly got any trick or treaters, and the majority that we did get weren't even dressed up in costumes. this always bothered him and he wanted to not give them candy. this year should be very different. there are lots of little kids in our neighborhood, and i have never seen kids trick or treating without costumes here. he has some plans for some crazy pumpkins; his plans involve power tools and road flares, so i'm pretty happy that our house is brick and can't start on fire too easily.

in other news... i managed to get another dinner into the freezer. i made a chicken and rice dish, so we'll see how that turns out when we bake it. i used whole, bone-in chicken breasts, which i seasoned and seared in the cast iron. once i took those out there was some lovely fat in the pan, and i'm not big on wasting that kind of goodness (waste not, terminate not), so i slightly softened some sliced onions in it, then deglazed with some white wine. i put the cooled chicken and onions with wine on top of *uncooked* rice which i had seasoned with salt, pepper, hungarian paprika, parsley, majorom, and thyme. i also tucked in some uncooked broccoli, and put in cubes of homemade chicken stock as well as half and half. i poured a little extra wine in there too, just for good luck. in theory, when we bake this, the stock, cream, and wine should get all happy, cook the rice, and poach the chicken. we'll see. this whole pre-made but generally uncooked frozen dinner thing is an experiment. even if some of these dishes fail, however, it's got to be better than delivery pizza.

only 5 1/2 more weeks to go before we will be diving into this stock of dinners! :)

and did i mention that last week when i made the roasted tomato soup there was enough to put in a freezer bag and stock away? the soup was really good, so i am looking forward to having that again.

going out of town for most of next week to present some stuff to a client. the 3 1/2 hour drive will suck as always, but we manage to have fun. not really looking forward to being away from bryan and the dogs though. :( at least the week should pass quickly.

that's it! i was boring this week and pretty much loved it. :)

Monday, September 24, 2007

nice and easy

the weekend was good. i even managed to nap both days!

i got bryan up super early so we could hit the new berlin farmer's market as soon as they opened. we picked up veg for the week, a cherry pie from the amish, and some flowers for mom. he wasn't aware of how early it was when we left the house, just when we got to the market and they were still setting up (they open at 7) so we had to go get him a big coffee as soon as we were done at the market. we headed over to mom and dad's house, where mom had prepared french toast, bacon, fruit, and coffee cake for us. that and the coffee helped wake bryan up. :)

then it was off to the airport to pick up bryan's dad, who is staying with us through tuesday. they had a list of house projects they wanted to accomplish, so we spent some of the afternoon at home depot after a tasty lunch at a local gyro place. their special that day was italian beef, which bryan had just read about in the new issue of saveur and he had a hankering for, so it was definitely serendipity that we wandered into that place. they ended up going out later in the afternoon to buy me a new vaccum cleaner, since mine seemed to die. it turned out it had just over heated (it actually started up on its own, out on the back deck, while i was napping and they were out) but i got a better vaccum cleaner out of the deal so it worked out ok. we had lemon basil grilled chicken for dinner (and that cherry pie for dessert), and i just barely managed to stay awake through the bourne ultimatum.

sunday, we skipped church, and i spent all day at home. i got us some donuts for breakfast (after being too lazy to make homemade chocolate waffles with creme anglaise). bryan and his dad built me some kickin' shelves in the hall closets, so i was able to organize bunches of kitchen stuff in the large closet off the kitchen (it was previously piled up wherever it would fit), as well as a broom closet. i'm super thrilled with the result. we plan on adding racks to the kitchen closet door for more storage too.

they watched some football while i made 2 tuna casseroles to freeze (the mushroom thyme sauce turned out so well i was very tempted to eat it for lunch) and took a nap. after football they continued to putter around doing projects, including an outing to 2 more hardware stores.

mom and dad came over for steak dinner (and some power tool use in the driveway to cut off the extra tops of the fence posts). we had some of those rib eyes bryan sliced from that 12 lb prime rib, roasted potatoes, a salad mom made with raspberries and a citrus vinagrette, and some mini pecan tarts mom brought as well. it was quite delicious. they brought the crib dad built when i was born so we can use it for oliver. :) we tried watching a movie after that but i couldn't make it through and headed up to bed to read some this old house and watch an episode of the uk hell's kitchen (fingers are for burning!!).

i stayed up a little late, which was a struggle, but had the opportunity to sleep in some since i had a dr's appt this morning. i actually lost 2 lbs, which was kind of exciting. :) ollie took a little break from the rapid growing, and no complaints from me (nor the doctor)!

should be a busy week at work, as we're scrambling to meet a deadline. some papers are due friday to a client, and we're heading there next week to present them. it should be interesting. the business trips there are always a good time, though it's a long time to be away from home.

this coming weekend is the big pig gig, a big bbq competition. we also have a tour at the hospital and dad has a marathon (we're going to go see him finish), so we'll see when we're able to hit that up AND still fit in a nap. napping is very important at this point in my life!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

boil you in oil

our shrimp turned out well last night. i chopped parsley and garlic, and tossed those in little cazuelas along with olive oil, dried chile arbol, and salt. i heated that up on the stove top, and cooked the shrimp in there.

meanwhile, i toasted some thick slices of country bread with olive oil and marinated roma tomato slices (i marinated them just in sherry and olive oil with salt and pepper). once those had toasted some, i topped them with slices of muenster cheese and got them all bubbly under the broiler. yes, i did slack and used muenster instead of homemade queso freso.

overall it turned out very well. i think that next time i would use more garlic and parsley, however. i want the garlic/parsley to oil ratio to be more even, so it is
almost like a paste but not quite. all in all, though, it was delicious and a little different than what we normally do (we're generally based in french techniques and this was very spanish). the toasted bread was especially good dipped into the garlicky olive oil. nevermind that it already had oil and cheese on it. it was good. :)

not sure what we're having for dinner tonight. i have some broccoli rabe to use, so it will be something with that. i've left bryan in charge.

not much else going on. trying to decide where to hang all my pictures. i have lots of them so figuring out the perfect arrangement is proving difficult. bryan's dad is flying up this weekend to spend a few days with us, so i spent some time prepping the guest room last night (which mainly meant moving the piles of baby stuff somewhere else). i stayed up until *10:30* last night and would you believe, i am pretty tired today. maybe i need another nap this afternoon. too bad someone scheduled a 4pm meeting. what is up with that?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

some more food diaries

monday night's dinner was a success.
in addition to the cannelloni, we had braised swiss chard, which i had gotten at the farmer's market over the weekend, with some lemon. very simple (well, except for the pasta making part) and delicious. i also finally made that apple crumble i'd been promising bryan, with some mcintosh apples from the market. that, i must say, was delicious.

doesn't look too bad, does it?

that is a picture of my basement freezer. not sure how i'll fit another 14 or so meals in there! they may have to spill over to the chest freezer. it's a pretty happy sight, though.

dinner last night turned out quite enjoyable. i made a roasted tomato soup with truffle butter grilled cheese sandwiches, even though it was definitely NOT soup weather. we roasted quartered beefsteak tomatoes with oil, balsamic vinegar, whole garlic cloves, salt and pepper. i softened some onions and basil in oil, then added the tomatoes and water and let simmer. i blended the soup until smooth, and served that with a swirl of cream and the sandwiches. although we certainly didn't need warm soup on the 80+ degree day, it was very yummy and enjoyable. and! we made enough soup to freeze for a later fall meal. :)

tonight i am making my spanish shrimp menu item - shrimp poached in garlic parsley olive oil, with roasted tomato bruschetta. if i have the energy, we'll have homemade queso fresco as well. it's really quite easy so the only excuse i have not to make it is that i would require a trip to the store to get a half gallon of milk. which, believe me, is a lot more difficult than it sounds.

that's it from my world today.

Monday, September 17, 2007

19 dinners in the freezer

the weekend was busy and tiring, proving once again that i am overly ambitious. saturday started at 6am, so that i could bathe the dogs and finish house cleaning before target opened. i completed my chores and got ready, then headed out on my errands around 8. i hit target first, then kohls, then the new berlin farmer's market, then the grocery store. i had a lot of success at the market. there were lots of yummy looking veggies. i finally had to leave as i was too loaded down to buy anything else (the 4 squashes in my tote and big bag of apples were what did it for me, i think). i got home before noon so i could start my marathon cooking, and so bryan could haul some more yard refuse to the municipal yard before they closed.

i managed to complete:
- 2 freezer bags of meatballs
- 3 dishes of stuffed pasta shells
- 2 freezer bags of ham and portobello ravioli
- a big stock pot of red sauce (3 bags full for meals)
- the fillings for my beef lasagna
- the fillings for my sausage lasagna
- one freezer bag of cheese tortellini
- one dish of cheese tortellini bake (with sauce and mascarpone)
- 2 pork roasts with root veg and squash
- one big chicken with mustard mascarpone marsala sauce dish

since i didn't get around to rolling pasta until nearly dinner time, i unfortunately didn't get to make fresh pasta for dinner. bryan and i ran out to grab a quick bite at a mexican place, then grabbed some tulip bulbs and orchids from home depot (there are about 100 tulips planted in the planter off the rear deck now) and a few more things from kohls (they lure me with their constant sales). by this time my feet were killing me (and my back, and my legs), but i spent the next 2 or 3 hours rolling out and stuffing pasta dough. i did some more work on the pictures i want to hang around the house, and finally stumbled off to bed around 11. i woke up an hour or two later and could hardly get myself out of bed to hobble to the bathroom. i was SORE.

no rest for the weary, though, so i was up early again the next morning to get ready for church. it was the pastor's birthday, so we managed to snag a free lunch and some cake after the service. we headed to rupenas to buy some chuck roasts, which they had on sale and i needed. they have such a beautiful meat department. a bunch of kids work the front under the watchful eyes of the butchers, who are always in back slicing up meat. once home, i seared off the roasts and got them packed away with some veg and potatoes, then moved on to make my pasta for lasagna while dad and bryan enjoyed the packers game (which they won, woohoo!). i assembled my lasagnas and the cannelloni for dinner, and bryan and i headed out for more errands.

bryan needed to pre-reserve his copy of halo 3 ("need" is an objective term). boston store was also having a big sale - you could get a 20% off coupon for every item you brought to donate to goodwill. we got a stack of coupons and picked up some baby clothes for oliver (including some ADORABLE corduroy overalls) and some cosmetics at the chanel counter for me (i was in need and i had the coupons after all). we hit up jc penneys to get a few weekend t shirts for me (since i have no long sleeve maternity wear). at this point we were both in pain, being sore from all the working/standing/walking we had done this weekend. we were a pretty sad sight trying to make it back across the mall and to the car.

though i had put together our pasta dish for the night, i hadn't yet had a workable cream sauce for it, so bryan and i picked up some fried chicken from the deli on the way home, and crashed on the couch. we needed to stop at target to get some printer ink, but the thought of having to get out of the car and walk some more made us both want to cry. so we headed home instead for the aforementioned fried chicken and couch crashing. before bed i took a soak in some epsom salts hoping that would help. not sure if it helped my muscles but it did help me to fall asleep very shortly after my head hit the pillow. i'm still feeling pretty tired today. i see a post-work nap in my future. luckily dinner is already to go (homemade pasta cannelloni!) - bryan will be making the cream sauce for it this afternoon. i should be able to make that apple crisp i've been promising bryan for dessert as well.

all in all it was a good weekend - extremely tiring though very productive. i'm thrilled that we already have 19 meals in the freezer. this was definitely the most agressive weekend for that project, since i wanted to get all that pasta rolling out of the way. i have plans for another 14 or so meals, one or two of which i may even be able to knock out this week since they are easy and i have all the makings.

i may even get to laundry tonight. after my nap, of course.

Friday, September 14, 2007

fall feasts

fall is tentatively here in milwaukee. the weather has gotton cooler, though we will still have a few warmer (low 80s) days to come before the real stuff hits. i, for one, have been loving it. ignoring even the fact that i am far more comfortable and do not need to ac the bedroom to icebox level temperatures to sleep, fall is my favorite time of the year. the weather is unbeatable - cool, crisp, utterly delightful. the air always seems to smell of grass and burning leaves. the leaves actually change up here in the north, and it's been awhile since i've seen that glory. halloween! and last but not least, of course, is the food.

just when i am getting antsy about wanting to cook something new, fall comes. roasts, root vegetables, apples - heartier fare, including the inexhaustable selection of soups one can make. i was never a big fan of soups, probably due to eating canned soups, which taste like tin, salt, and overprocessed bits which were perhaps at one time vegetables (i have my doubts). don't get me wrong, my mom made some fantastic homemade soups, but with 4 children and a job, not every soup was homemade. i avoided soup for a long time. then a few falls ago, i decided to make soup my food project. for those of you not familiar, bryan and i generally have a food project of some sort going on. bryan began inventing these to get me to eat things i normally wouldn't. so i decided homemade soups in the fall was something we must be missing out on. i found some really good recipes which we've added to our permanent arsenal. and now, i always look forward to being able to incorporate them back into our menus.

i'll be making a roasted tomato soup this week. rather than a cream of tomato, it will use fresh roasted tomatoes, with some basil, garlic, and balsamic vinegar. i plan on serving that with a swirl of crema and truffle butter grilled cheese sandwiches. i'm slightly irked at the moment that i can't make my own crema (is it really too much to ask to have access to a cow?), but we'll chalk that up to hormones and i'll live. it will be a relatively simple and decidedly delicous meal, i think. let's just hope the weather agrees and stays cool. :)

some other menu plans...

a spanish shrimp dish, with garlic and parsley. i will warm olive oil in cazuelas with garlic, parsley, and salt, then essentially poach the shrimp in the warmed oil. i am thinking i will serve this with a rustic "bruschetta" of sorts: slices of ciabatta type bread, rubbed with olive oil, and topped with slices of marinated tomatoes (i am thinking olive oil and sherry for the marinade, maybe some fresh oregano from the herb garden), and roasted slightly; these i will top with some homemade queso freso, which, if i am lucky, will melt on the roasted tomatoes just enough to become warm and soft.

i will be having a homemade pasta marathon this weekend, to start making freezer meals for when the baby comes. with all that fresh pasta laying around, it would be a shame not to eat some. so i'm thinking of making cannelloni tomorrow night, with italian sausage. i'll have some fresh red sauce as well, and of course the requisite bechemel. apple crumble for dessert, since bryan has been craving a crumble, and the smell of apples in the fall is indescribable.

i am slowly compiling more menu items. i like to savor the hunt.

unfortunately i won't have much time for active food projects this fall and winter, so i'm hoping that in the next 6 weeks i'll be able to throw caution (but not the budget) to the wind and spend more time in the kitchen (which should be easier now with the cooler weather). we'll have all sorts of yummy things stashed away in the freezer (every weekend from now through 10/20 is planned out for meal making), and the holidays are coming... i'm sure even with a new baby we'll find a way to make sure we get through the fall and winter with minimum help from the chinese take out place down the street. :) we'll also be working to plan out our garden for the spring (bryan has it completely tilled), which should be fun. it will be a blast to have our own fresh veggies next summer. and perhaps i'll even be able to convince bryan to get a few fruit trees and bushes next fall (there is little better than spending an hour next to a blackberry bush eating ripe, sweet, juicy blackberries in the summer - it is high on the list).

now, i think i shall go reward myself with some chocolate for coming up with some delicous menu ideas. chocolate is way better than a pat on the back.

Monday, September 10, 2007

i bet jesus would have used his turn signals

i saw that on a bumper sticker today, and just loved it. while i still maintain that milwaukee drivers are 10 times better than atlanta drivers, there are jerks no matter where you go.

our weekend was lovely. the weather was absolutely beautiful. it feels like fall is coming, and i couldn't be happier about that. it is my favorite time of the year.

friday, we had mom over for dinner. bryan made a chicken soup. we had amassed about 7 chicken carcasses in the freezer, so he made a stock on thursday. he simmered some with chicken, celery, celery greens, carrots, and onions. he served it over some egg noodles, and it was very delicious. hearty, and yet the broth was so light, it was no where near heavy. mom brought some custard and hot fudge from kopps. it's hard to resist good custard.

saturday, dad came by with the tiller so bryan could begin working on the spots where the bushes used to be. they had fun tilling the front yard. bryan hauled some more brush to the municipal yard (i swear it's multiplying back there), and then we met up with mom to go downtown to indian summer fest on the lakefront. it was a little warmer on the lake than we had expected, but overall the weather was great. i was able to eat some fry bread, even though the stall i bought it from didn't have any jelly to add. we walked around and looked at some stuff for sale (most of it the same junk you see for sale at any "indian" themed place), and saw some really neat dancing, drumming, and chanting at the drum circle contest. mom and i got tired and headed home to rest on the couch.

bryan and i ended up hitting up home depot to get a few items he needed, and we found all their rose bushes on sale for $2. bryan had wanted to put roses in the front to replace the bushes he ripped out, so this was providence. we grabbed up 8 bushes with hearty looking stalks, and bryan planted them as soon as we were home.

after he planted the roses, we had some dinner and watched amores perros. it was a very good movie, even though the dog fighting made me want to cry. alejandro gonzález iñárritu is a fantastic director, and you know i love me some gael garcía bernal.

sunday, our church had a pig roast fund raiser. one of the members roasts a pig and some chickens, and everyone brings a dish to share. i made a sweet southern cornbread, and more was eaten than we had expected. the pig was good, well flavored though a little on the dry side. before the food was served, we were peeking into the kitchen to find the pastor, and were invited to eat some pig skin while they were carving the beast. mmmmm. smoked pig skin is high on the list of delicous things. we enjoyed ourselves.

we had to hurry home, though, as the football season's first packers game was also yesterday. dad came over so bryan could show off how great football looks on the plasma tv (which, i admit, is pretty awesome). dad and bryan had a lot of fun watching the game (which the packers won, woohoo!), while i took a nice long nap.

after the game, bryan and i did some driving around to get out of the house. we headed to stein's garden center, and wandered around a bit. we then went over to home depot, where we ended up getting another 5 roses, smaller ground cover type bushes. we figured we would need another row of something in front of the bigger bushes, and something low to fill in would be nice - so we got more roses! :) all told, there are now 13 rose bushes in front of our bay window. hopefully they all make it through the winter. they will look so beautiful once they start blooming! bryan is doing lots of reading on rose bushes so he knows just how to manage them through the winter.

bryan made us some delicious steak sandwiches with mushroom and leek jack cheese for dinner, and then we watched next, the new nicolas cage movie. it wasn't as bad as i thought it was going to be. there were some very amusing parts, and the plot was an interesting one. there were some gaping holes, of course, but you have to suspend your belief some. ;)

this morning i had my 32 week appointment, and the doctor was happy to say that ollie and i are still the model patients. blood pressure, weight gain, measurement, tests - everything is right on and looking good. just 8 more weeks to go (though we're aiming for just under 7 ;)

this week should be pretty boring. no plans, which will actually be nice. there are a couple of fun events going on this coming weekend, though i am not sure we'll make it to any of them. friday evening is forks and corks at the west allis farmer's market. wines, beers, food, and local artwork - the makings of a very fun event, the kind i absolutely love. i had just been thinking about how around this time last year, we attended the les dames d'escoffier atlanta chapter's day in the country, and how it is probably my favorite event we have yet attended. wine and incredible food from atlanta's restaurants - all my favorite things. so when mom told us about the forks and corks event, i got pretty excited. however, in trying to research it, i found a lot about the wine and beer, but nothing about which restaurants will be there. since i can't drink and would be going for the food only, i'm not so excited that i can't find a single thing on who will be there. so, not sure if we will attend. saturday and sunday, the town of cedarburg will be holding their annual wine and harvest festival. the cedar creek winery in cedarburg makes some great wines. my parents took us to the festival when we were young. bryan and i love the cedarburg area. i can't drink, but i am sure bryan, mom and dad would enjoy it very much. :) so we shall see! i'm sure it would be lots of fun, but staying home and napping sounds fun too. ;)

Thursday, September 6, 2007

some like it hot

we managed to get our hands on some fresh cayenne peppers at the west allis farmer's market. which means bryan will be whipping up a batch of hot sauce. we had gotten some through our csa last year, and tried out our own hot sauce. it's not a difficult process, and the results are fantastic.

the sauce, for those of you unfamiliar, is similar to tabasco sauce. however, making your own allows you to adjust the hot to vinegar ratio - not to mention the obvious benefits of being way more delicious (and natural). the resulting flavor brings out the depth of the pepper. we make it spicy but not too spicy. in general, we prefer our chiles to taste like chiles and not nothing - just searing heat.

splash some on mac and cheese, douse your chicken wings, spice up an autumn soup... once you've had the good stuff, it's hard to keep it off your food. :)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

pregnancy cravings?

i was reading an article on a pregnancy website talking about cravings, and i think i understand why women have cravings (and why i seem to be having none). the article states:

"You confessed to wanting pickles wrapped in cheese, salsa spooned straight out of the jar, and yes, even steak fat."

to me, these are not strange cravings. pickles wrapped in cheese? a dill goes great on a sandwich, and i've always loved cheddar with sweet pickles. this is a normal snack for me, pickles and cheese. salsa spooned straight out of the jar? well, i don't eat jarred salsa, but i've been known to overload a tortilla chip with fresh pico just to taste the pico. steak fat? who doesn't eat steak fat?

aside from the weird stuff (black olives on Sara Lee cheesecake?), these "cravings" are normal to me. the article goes on to debate the link between the cravings and dietary deficiencies, generally short term ones. some say yes, some say no. which got me thinking...

in my ever present and slightly sub conscience quest to always eat what is good, i don't go out of my way to deprive myself. i still skip junk food, fast food, anything fake, but i'm not one to say no to cream, butter, or steak fat - before my pregnancy, nor now. perhaps these cravings during pregnancy for women are linked to their dietary choices *before* pregnancy? if they restrict their intake of salts, fats, sugars, etc. to a below average diet, they are bound to continue once pregnant. a lack of this food during their non-pregnant days presents itself during pregnancy, when the body is by no means shy of telling you exactly what it needs when it needs it? the body needs a little bit of everything anyways. growing a baby means your body maintains a list of must haves - including those fats and sweets most people associate with the evilest of evils. even the strangest cravings point out a need for something essential (black olives are salty and cheesecake is sweet, after all). but if your body demands these at a time when you can't afford to cut them out of your diet, what does that tell you?

this may explain my lack of (new) cravings. i don't deprive myself. i don't diet. i don't sigh and eat chicken with rice and steamed broccoli because i know it's good for me. i grin and eat rib eye steak with homemade biscuits, grilled corn, and sauteed zuchinni - because i know it's good for me AND it tastes good. my diet may be richer than most, but i'm not eating foods that are *bad* for me, and i'm not eating anything in excess. i combat the effects of an especially rich meal by working out (i'll admit the bone marrow risotto, while a treat, can and should only be a rare treat). so now that i am pregnant, my body, usually happy with my selection of cuisine, doesn't need to complain and cry out for something it doesn't normally get, but needs. i've happily continued on my normal daydreaming of food in general with the random thoughts of "oh, wouldn't that taste good..." i'm just hungrier than normal at times - which makes sense, since in addition to needing nutrients and such to keep going, and to produce more blood and oxygen than i was 7 months ago, there's another little person in there that needs the nutrients to grow.

so is my pre-pregnancy diet more balanced than those who shy away from fats, sweets, carbs? is my mantra of "everything in moderation" not totally crazy? am i right in thinking that except where health needs dictate the concept of dieting is just sad, and an easy out (why have chocolate cake AND a walk when you can skip the workout by skipping the cake)? just a theory.


bryan and our neighbor john pulled all of our bushes out yesterday. ok, not all of them - i still have a lilac bush in the back, and something else that looks like it may flower, and the evergreen in the front. our neighbor john has access to all sorts of fun boy toys (including a helicoptor), and he seems to have fun doing heavy duty projects with bryan (like digging giant holes with the 2 man auger). so, he hooked bryan up with a piece of equipment for pulling bushes out of the ground.

so he and bryan spent the afternoon ripping everything out of the backyard. bryan wants to plant prettier bushes. i came home yesterday to find my back yard fairly well ripped up. which means bryan has to plant grass seeds. this is actually one of his favorite things to do, and here in wisconsin, it'll actually grow, which will be pretty exciting for him. in georgia, grass doesn't grow in the sand and red clay, which is pretty frustrating. so having lush green grass makes him pretty happy to do yard work. and having lots of loose dirt to walk in and track into my house makes moose pretty happy, so he's excited about the project as well.

bryan will be planting rose bushes in the front. we have some on the side of the house he was planning on transplanting, fearing that having dirt on the side of the house would lead to a leaking basement. it doesn't look like that is a risk, so we're going to get some new bushes for the front. it will look so nice! and i am sure opening the living room windows in the spring and summer will make the house smell lovely. we certainly have the room for a few now. :)

dinner last night was extremely satisfying. bryan had smoked some eggplants on monday, and made babaganoush. i made a hummus. we served those with warmed pita, sundried tomatoes in oil, caper berries, feta, spiced salami, greek yogurt, and figs. it was one of those delicious meals where everything tastes so good, and so good together, and you positively satisfied afterwards.

we watched away from her, which was a very sad and compelling story. i thought that the dialog was superb, as was the acting. it was very enjoyable.

bryan hung some shelves and pictures for me, so our bedroom finally has some decorative elements. we also started hanging pictures in oliver's room; pictures to come soon!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

and then there was meat

the weekend was busy as i had suspected it would be. it was fun and tiring as usual.

friday evening mom came by to get some more stuff for shannon to take off to school. dad was at a cross country meet and shannon was at work, so mom had no dinner plans. thus when we invited her to stay for home made fried chicken and biscuits, she could hardly turn us down. who would be able to turn that down?

saturday morning bryan and i headed out to mom and dad's to say goodbye to shannon before they trekked across the state to move her into her new apartment at school. she had the rental van packed very orderly and to the brim. they managed to fit everything which was good. shannon was pretty excited to move into the apartment, even though she's on a 3rd floor walk up and had lots of furniture and other heavy items. luckily, a superman-strength shot putter lives in her complex, and he was able to carry all the heavy stuff up the stairs without a problem.

after we left mom and dad's, we headed out to the super amigo hispanic grocery in waukesha. oh boy that was fun. we had decided to make tamales to bring to my uncle frank's sunday cookout, so we picked up a bunch of tomatillos to make a salsa verde. then we had a lot of fun in the meat department. they had what was listed as "rib eye" - but as it was uncut, it was prime rib. so we got a 12 lb prime rib for $3.69/lb. what a steal. it was a very lovely looking piece of beef, and for that price, katie may be able to afford prime rib for her wedding!
bryan sliced that up into some very fine looking rib eyes. 17 rib eyes, to be exact. mom says to just let her know when to come over. she figures showing up at our house around dinner time just about any day is a good bet.

we also got 4 skirt steaks, 4 lbs of pork stew meat, and 2 racks of ribs the length of my arm and i swear nearly as wide as my stomach (no comments from the peanut gallery, please). all in all not a bad trip.

saturday night i went to go see maggie's new house, and have dinner. it is such a cute old house! i am so excited for her. we went and had a quick dinner at casa del rio, then spent a few hours gabbing. i didn't even realize how long we had been chatting until bryan called me at 9:15pm to see what we were up to. :) maggie and i can always find something to talk about, apparently.

bryan also roasted a pork roast and prepared the tomatillo salsa, so that it would all be ready for tamale rolling on sunday. that morning, he prepared the masa dough and allowed it to chill for awhile. we worked together to get them all stuffed, rolled, and tied. that made the entire process run much smoother and much faster.

in went the roast pork, some fresh diced tomatoes, and the salsa. so delicious and not even steamed! we ended up with close to 30 tamales. it turns out i must have the abuela gene, because i was able to get those gorgeous little suckers tied and into the steamer in no time. they turned out so incredibly scrumptious! they were a huge hit at the pool party. i made my much loved pico to bring along as well. the party itself was lots of fun as well. the weather was very nice, though i did hide in the shade the entire time to avoid wilting entirely. lots of yummy mexican snacks. i pretty much sat and snacked all afternoon. what can i say, i can't resist taco dip. after the tamale's and aunt mo's enchiladas though, i was too stuffed for cake. we took cake home for later that night.

we watched the movie sunshine, which is a decidedly strange movie. i'm not 100% sure how i feel about it. it was nearly sci-fi but not quite. bryan pointed out a lot of similarities between it and the black hole. cillian murphy was quite good in it, but i love him, so maybe my opinion is tainted.

sunday, we tried to get an untrimmed brisket from rupena's, but they didn't have any. so we bought a pork shoulder instead, and smoked that in the pit at mom and dad's on monday. we served that up for dinner there, along with some roasted corn from the west allis farmer's market (which we managed to roast right on top of the metal roof of the smoker), and a cold beet salad (beets, fennel, clementines, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper). the pork was positivly incredible. and now we have a smoked pork bone to freeze for split pea soup once the weather cools a bit more. i had made chocolate chip cookies so that served for dessert. we tried to sit outside after dinner, but even with tiki torches and OFF lamps, i was still getting bitten by mosquitos so we had to move the discussion inside. we made it home in time to lay on the couch and watch oliver kick before the need to be in bed became overwhelming.

as part of the tamale prep, bryan made a batch of his famous chicken stock (also known as chicken jelly due to the lovely viscosity of it), so with that we plan on making a chicken soup on friday. hopefully the weather agrees and becomes a little more fall-like, which would make the soup perfect.

indian summer fest starts this weekend, so we're going to hit that up with mom on friday evening. i haven't been in ages, probably since grade school. i am looking forward to having some fry bread though, that's for sure.

i've emailed the child care provider we met with last week to see about enrolling oliver. after talking with a few, we really feel she is our best bet. we can look and interview forever, and while we may find others as good as her, we won't find any better. i am excited to have this all set up, and with someone we feel so comfortable and happy leaving oliver with. bryan wants to start out having her watch him part time; he is hoping he can watch him while he works. we'll see how that works out - i don't think he realizes how much time ollie will take up! :)

my plans for today include napping after work and getting to bed early. i know you're jealous of my exciting life.