Tuesday, September 30, 2008

11 months

last monday, bryan made that slow roasted moroccan chicken for dinner, with roasted tomatoes, chickpeas with raisins, and a salad of cucumber, tomato, and lemon balm. it all turned out very tasty. oliver *loved* the chickpeas, and those became a great dinner time item for him all week!

wednesday, our neighbor john brought over his heavy machinery, and he and bryan ripped out the tree in our front yard. i didn't mind the tree so much, but it was keeping sunlight from bryan's roses, so out it came. bryan and dad spent a good amount of time sawing it apart, and bryan made i don't know how many trips to the yard, as evidenced by the size of the darn thing:

for dinner, we had chicken fried steak with home fries. breaded and fried steak, with cream sauce? hello!! guess how much i love this dish. we had the cube steak on hand, and after reading about kristi's brother's chicken fried rib eye, we decided to have the original for dinner. not that we're not going to attempt that rib eye, mind you.

i spent that evening chasing oliver around the house. he likes to put a toy in his mouth, just like a dog. i kid you not - he will growl, shake his head from side to side, and crawl around the house as fast as can be. he must have learned it from the dogs, although they don't do it that much anymore (they spend a lot of their time looking at us woefully, as if to say, "remember when you loved me, too?"). that evening, we took a family walk to enjoy the GORGEOUS weather we'd been having, and the stuffed dog came along too - in his mouth of course. i swear he didn't chew on it the whole time.

thursday was csa day. we got, among other things, delicious radishes, brussel sprouts, green beans, and some kick ass carrots (in shades of purple, orange, and white). more tomatoes, too, of course, but i can't get enough of those sweet golden ones, so i was happy.

that night for dinner, i don't remember what we had planned (i blame mommy brain), but whatever it was didn't work out so we made what i will heretofore refer to as left over nachos. we used left over taco meat, and bryan made a pepper jack cheese sauce to mix that into. we also used the leftover home fries. put that on the remains of our tortilla chips from the previous week's nachos, along with lettuce, tomato, and sour cream and - ta da! left over nachos. :) they were delicious and i was too stuffed for ice cream.

friday, bryan made moussaka. normally, we make moussaka with ground beef, but as i have been liking lamb lately, we decided to try with half ground beef / half ground lamb. turns out i don't like ground lamb. i ate around the meat as best i could (and i did try to eat it - but just couldn't!), and filled up on ice cream afterwards. i was sad - i love moussaka, and bryan did a great job!!

saturday, i tried a new experiment: homemade sauerkraut. now, the old fashioned method of making sauerkraut involves a bucket, a basement, and a lot of salt (and perhaps 25 pounds of cabbage, depending on where you look). we decided that it wasn't worth it to do this with one head of cabbage (but just wait until next year). so instead, i packed sterilized jars full of raw, shredded cabbage and filled them with a simple brine of water, white vinegar, and mustard seeds, including a sprig of dried dill (from our garden) which had gone to seed, at the bottom of each jar. i processed the jars in the canner, and they're now hanging out in our basement. we'll see in a few weeks how that worked out. i made 8 jars, so hopefully it turned out well. :)

bryan picked me some gorgeous roses from my favorite rose bush in the back yard. this bush has the biggest, most beautiful, most fragrant flowers i've ever seen. and it keeps blooming! that bush won't quit. which is fine by me, because it keeps my house smelling like roses.

after oliver's afternoon nap, we headed to the zoo to kill some time. we went through the aviary. oliver had never been in that building before. he *LOVED* the penguins. he was so excited by them swimming and playing - he was jumping around in his stroller, flapping his arms, and talking excitedly to them. too cute!!

a few random pics from that day (hey, he's really cute, i take a lot of pictures, k?):

my boys, working hard:

his, "ooooooooooooooohhh, that's silly" face:

throwing a fake fit when i wouldn't let him do something (like chew on a laptop power cord, or climb the heating vent into the bay window):

hanging out at the zoo:

that night for dinner, bryan used the leftover cabbage to make a slaw, and served that with burgers and homemade potato chips. his burgers were outstanding, as usual, with cheese and that yellow tomato i love. the chips were thin, crispy, and the best ever. who knew i could be wooed with hamburgers?

sunday, the day started out great, but took a turn for the worse when oliver decided he didn't need an afternoon nap. it wasn't that he was cranky, but since we had dinner plans, i needed him to nap so as to not have a meltdown at 5 p.m. no such luck for momma. i thought about selling him back, but wasn't sure if i could get good money for a sweaty baby who wouldn't nap and was probably teething.

sunday night for dinner, we headed over to gram & gramp's house. gram made pot roast, mashed potatoes, and a cauliflower and broccoli bake with cheese and bread crumbs. i love gram's pot roasts!! for dessert, she served ice cream, which included a homemade lemon ice cream. i had that *with* a scoop of chocolate, because i know how to get down. oliver had a blast exploring a new house and charming gram and gramps. gram brought out a box of little toy cars and trucks, which oliver marveled at - they rolled! i know what he's getting for his birthday! for skipping his afternoon nap, he was in a great mood. i was duly impressed, and decided to love him again.

yesterday, day care had the day off, so i worked from home. bryan and i split caring for oliver so we could both get some work done. oliver was incredibly well behaved; played nicely and napped well. after we shut down work for the day, i shoved some food in oliver's mouth, and then we ran off to target to get that errand out of the way before the weekend. dad dropped by so he and bryan would work on the tree stump some more (and determined that due to random pieces of metal being embedded mysteriously throughout the stump, bry will have to pay the city $25 to pick it up rather than ruin 18 chain saw blades trying to cut it down). oliver took his sweet time going to bed, so dinner wasn't until after 8 p.m., but it was so delicious that it made up for it being so late. bryan seared steaks on the cast iron, for which i made a quick mustard horseradish sauce. he also braised swiss chard from the csa along with garlic, yellow tomato, and a pepper from our garden. so flavorful with just a little bite. we also had the green beans from our csa. dessert was butter pecan ice cream. we watched heroes, then i crashed in bed.

oliver is 11 months old today! i can hardly believe it. he'll be 1 next month - totally crazy. where did all the time go? oh, yeah - sucked into a vacuum of sleep deprivation, that's right. i'm pretty excited for his birthday!

bunch of random new pictures in the september gallery.

WFD: if bryan gets a chance to finish the prep, it'll be pastitsio. pastitsio is a greek pasta dish, traditionally made with ground lamb (ours will be beef), tomato sauce, cheeses, and a bechemel sauce. in short, most of the things i like, all in one place. if that doesn't work out, it'll be organic frozen ravioli, with ground beef and a sauce of some sort. either meal calls for wine, me thinks.

Monday, September 22, 2008


another week (and weekend) have flown by... does it ever slow down??

last week tuesday, i had a hankering for burgers and shakes. bryan, being the superb husband that he is, obliged my whimsy and made hamburgers with white cheddar, and chocolate shakes. ahh, his hamburgers are the things of dreams. the ground beef, from the outpost, was so delicious it needed to seasoning. and who can resist a homemade chocolate shake??

wednesday was "use that vegetable" day; mainly, we needed to use tomatoes! bryan made a pasta with mushrooms, red tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, basil, yellow squash, and garlic. although it was meatless, that pasta, along with a salad and breadsticks, STUFFED me. made for delicious lunch leftovers the next day.

thursday, bryan again bowed to my fancy, and we made a big pile of nachos. inspired by a recipe from saveur, we piled corn chips with 3 kinds of cheese (provolone, muenster, and cheddar), refried beans, chorizo, our bread and butter pickled jalapenos, lettuce, tomatoes, and sour cream. they did not disappoint!

our weekend was equally fantastic. saturday, oliver woke up around 3:30 with some gas, but we were able to get him back down - and then he slept until 7:30! we spent the morning running errands, as we are apt to do. we had a lovely lunch together of fuggets (i.e., Fake chicken Nuggets), pears, and sour cream & chive potato chips. i'm not normally a fan of potato chips not made by bryan in my own kitchen (not that i'm spoiled or anything), but the kettle brand aren't half bad. oliver chowed down and we got through the meal without having to break out any baby food! that afternoon, we went to a birthday party for the daughter of katherine, a girlfriend from high school. we had to make a small detour on the way there to buy some baby motrin, as oliver started crying like nobody's business in the car and wouldn't quit. teething stinks. we made it to the party though. katherine's daughter, charlotte, turned 3. she is such a beautiful little girl; absolutely precious! katherine is pregnant and absolutely glowed. oliver had a blast observing all the big kids, and we headed home prior to meltdown time.

sunday morning, again oliver woke up early (4) then slept in until 7:30. doing that really throws his schedule for the day, but i like the feeling that i'm sleeping in! i made pancakes and bacon for breakfast (which both oliver and bryan decimated), then we headed out for a bike ride. the weather couldn't have been more perfect for it, and we had a great time. mom came over, and after a delicious lunch of grilled tomato and cheese, we headed to(wards) the cedarburg wine & harvest festival, held in downtown cedarburg, with events centered around the cedar creek winery. the directions i had were different than the way we've gone out there before, but i decided to trust google maps. oops. let's just say that the google maps way took twice as long (and thus an hour), took us on an extra long detour (due to construction), and necessitated a slightly panicked call to my father in law (since the stop sign and church we were stopped at were the first things other than fields and farm houses that we had seen for 20 minutes). we did eventually make it, and spent a good hour and a half attempting to maneuver the stroller through the crowds. mom and i had a glass of wine, so that pretty much met my expectations, and bryan got to eat some greek food, so he was happy. one of the vendors was selling little golden books for $1, so we picked up a stack for ollie. he loves reading. :) oliver held up pretty well; he started to get a little cranky, but a few greek butter cookies took care of that. we were able to stroll up and down among the vendors (which made me realize that local or not, the same festivals have all the same crap, and which made bryan realize all he needs in life are electronics). they had giant carved pumpkins; the pumpkins themselves were impressive, though the carvings were a little creepy. we took the much quicker way home (which still involved a small detour).

after a sweaty nap, oliver enjoyed his dinner tremendously:

we had planned on making a delicious morrocan chicken dish last night, but the bird was still frozen solid when we arrived home. while oliver and bryan napped, i made the executive decision to have pizza. :) we had picked up one from the outpost, made by the folks there, to have on hand for an easy night. bryan and i devoured it in no time, and so we needed to pick up frozen custard. we had to go to target after dinner to buy dog food, so it just made sense, really. ;) tonight we'll have the chicken, which is perfect, as today is the first day of fall and dinner will mark the first day of le creuset dutch oven cooking for us. :)

Monday, September 15, 2008

fried green tomatoes (and other southern specialities)

last we left our brave (and hungry) heroine, she was eating:

tuesday 9/9: grilled pork chops with whipped maple and thyme glaze; smoked cheddar orzo with chives; and broccoli. we picked up the whipped maple from a local maple farmer and the family farm weekend at the zoo, the previous weekend. the chives were from our garden, and the broccoli from the csa. oh, and did i mention the pork was local (from the outpost)?

wednesday 9/10: smoked pork ribs (again, local) with onion mop; corn, with plenty of butter; collard greens with bacon; biscuits. i slathered my ribs with sauce, since i like a saucy rib. it was so good i would have told myself to shut up, but my mouth was full of pork.

thursday 9/11 was csa day. bryan picked up our bounty, which included more tomatoes (which is fine until our estimated 975 tomatoes ripen), eggplant, lettuce, basil (which we really don't need, considering the 18 foot basil tree in our garden), beets (so many beets!), cauliflower, lettuce, swiss chard, garlic, and radishes (which are just calling out to be lightly warmed in butter).

friday 9/12: bryan picked some unripe and thus green tomatoes from our garden, dredged them in cornmeal and breadcrumbs, and fried them up. he also made cornmeal fried chicken, and linguine with basil pesto. he didn't hear me complaining. the fried green tomatoes were a new one for me, and were pretty tasty. i can see how they would be great with a pan gravy. or remoulade (and why not shrimp?). or in a toasted cheese and bacon sandwich. or in a salad with tender baby greens, toasted pecans, and a soft cheese (take that, alice waters). let's just say i see a few fried green tomatoes in my future.

and our pièce de résistance: last night's meal. grilled lamb chops (local), with a garlic and herb marinade, which doubled as the sauce. bryan also made a traditional greek tomato and cucumber salad, with feta, onions, and a red wine vinegar dressing. he made a chickpea rice, which may seem like an unnecessary amount of grains, but let me tell you, it's not. omfg. best. lamb. ever. the lamb was from the outpost and thus local. it was SO tender, and tasted nothing like what i have always thought lamb tastes like. i hate to admit it, but i think i love lamb. i just wanted to nibble it's tiny little bones clean. the marinade/sauce double agent was made of greek oregano (from our garden), mint, dill (also from our garden), garlic, spinach (the recipe called for watercress, which we weren't able to find), parsley, lemon, red wine vinegar, and, of course, olive oil. bryan used tomatoes from our csa bounty, as well as the black uglies from our garden, as a base for the salad. he included cucumber, onions, and i made sure to add plenty of feta cheese. the chickpea rice was moist and flavorful, with cassia, hot paprika (the recipe called for aleppo pepper), marjoram (the recipe called for bay, which we oddly didn't have); salt, stock, and plenty of onion. i can see how a little more time in the oven would create a lovely crust, the kind you pick off the pan at the table, even when you're full. oh, and warm pita bread, did i mention? perfect for making sure none of the sauce escaped. for dessert, i made a cornmeal cake, which we topped with quenelles of greek yogurt, mini kiwis, and drizzled with a raw, local honey. we win! i think next time i would add vanilla and cognac to the yogurt. just sayin'.

the mini kiwis were a great find. at the outpost yesterday morning, i noticed them but had no idea what they were - they looked like little, soft, sort of oblong green cherries. the produce hippie guy saw me pondering over them, and came running out, insisting that i try one right then and there. to my happy surprise, they were sweet little kiwis! they are not fuzzy like your normal kiwi, but have thin green skins you can eat. to our even greater delight, they are grown locally by a guy in mukwonago, wi (about 20 minutes from here). he has a very small farm, and the store gets maybe 60 pints in a year. we decided right then and there that they would made a perfect dessert, with greek yogurt and honey. i had wanted to make a ravani (greek semolina cake) to go with it, but forgot to pick up semolina, and hence the cornmeal cake. nobody was mad. ;)

and here ends my culinary tales (but not my culinary day dreams... we have so much rice left over, and i had noticed the other day just how many grape leaves dad has on the vine... and did you know that rice goes very well in a grape leaf? which i think sounds wonderful with the whole trout we have, perhaps grilled...).

friday, i worked from home, since i was feeling pretty lousy. half the people here at work are sick as well, so i figured i'd be better off resting at home. oliver still toddled off to day care, though, so i could get stuff done. his allergies/sinuses have been pretty bad off as well, and he seems to be teething.

the rest of the weekend was fairly normal. it was rainy all weekend, so we were stuck indoors. i think we watched the mechanics episode of blues clues ummmm 18 times. saturday morning we generally hung around the house. oliver was being a total ham and he and i were having fun playing hide and seek and "tickle me mommy!". he's started giving this super cheesy grin, where he shows all his teeth and squints his eyes closed. the picture does not do it justice.

he did manage to do pretty good with his naps, teething, stuffy nose, and all. which was good, because we had maggie's wedding saturday afternoon! mom came over and worked on school work while he napped, and bryan and i attended the ceremony (and forgot our camera, ack!). it was *beautiful*. maggie looked absolutely gorgeous. her colors were pink and orange, very festive. enrique, the groom, is mexican, so the programs were printed in both english and spanish, one reading was in english and the other in spanish, and the music was provided by an acoustic trio who sang in spanish. the music was amazing; bryan wants to hire them for his next birthday party so we can do a fieta authentica. after the ceremony, we zipped home to find oliver still napping, wonder of wonders. once he awoke, we all headed to the reception (and forgot our camera AGAIN, grr), held at the rotary building on the fox river. oliver charmed everyone he could, of course. the meal was catered by maggie & enrique's favorite mexican restuarant, casa del rio. mexican = bryan's favorite food, so he was trilled. we ate a *ton* - even oliver. we were home shortly after 7, boring married people with a kid that we are. it was a great time.

sunday, we did our outpost run, and bryan did some work around the kitchen, including prep'ing for that fab lamb dinner. ihad been hoping to start canning, but as the tomatoes are not ready and i wasn't about to attempt to do all the beets we have in 2 hours, i held off. oliver's godfather chris was in town, so he and his girl charity came over for dinner. oliver flirted mightily with charity, and was enthralled with chris' beard. i think that oliver very much enjoyed having someone else other than mom and dad to play with.

oliver's sleeping has been off, what with being sick and this teething business. i am very much looking forward to him feeling better, and me feeling better as well. fall seems to have arrived, and i really want to enjoy this gorgeous weather before we're knee deep in snow (evil, evil, evil). sigh.

WFD: pasta with chorizo and chipotle pesto cream sauce. and maybe something green, like swiss chard. that would work. and beer. doesn't beer sound good? ahh, if only i could quit my job and do FOOD all the time...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

pick a peck of pickled peppers

i put up 6 jars of bread and butter pickled peppers last night. 4 were jalapenos, and 2 were what looked like cubanelles. i added some onion this morning. in about a week, we'll have some tasty pickled peppers!

bryan also has a pepper sauce in the works, with some cayenne, tabasco, and habaneros from dad's garden. dad used a pepper mix seed packet, and ended up with 5 habanero plants. what to do with so many habaneros? bryan added a few to his sauce mixture, and that sucker is gonna be HOT this year! no idea what else can be done with the rest... i have some research to do, that's for sure!

i think that next year we'll have a little more focus in the garden overall. bryan will plant a few cayenne plants for sauce purposes alone, so we can start making bigger batches. that sauce is so delicious, it always goes so fast!

so what have we eaten & done lately?

last thursday, bryan made cast iron grilled wild salmon with garlic aioli, a vinegar dilled salad of cucumbers and tomatoes, and vera cruz style vegetables (onions, kholorabi, tomatoes, and yellow squash) with cream. the salmon was so tasty. i'm usually iffy on my salmon (i prefer it smoked or wood grilled with balsamic), but i really liked how salmony it tasted without being fishy.

friday night for dinner, bryan made a lamb steak with pan gravy, and israeli couscous with raisins and an eggplant from our garden. the lamb tasted pretty much like beef, which surprised me; i expected it to be a bit lamby. don't get me wrong, i was happy with it!

oliver had some watermelon with his dinner. he has determined that watermelon is a LOT of fun to suck all the juice out of, then spit the pulpy mess that remains all over yourself. fun for everyone except mama.

saturday morning, we decided to take a bike ride. we had planned on finding a trail and testing oliver's endurance in the kiddie trailer, but realized we didn't have our bike rack. we saddled up anyways, and rode around the neighborhood for 20 minutes or so. oliver *loved* it. every time i rode up next to him, he'd give me a big silly grin. i can't wait to take him on a longer ride!

after we got home and oliver conked out for his morning nap, i made bryan some beignets, which i had been promising to do for awhile. i didn't have any powdered sugar, but found that normal sugar topped them just fine. i tossed some shredded coconut on a few as well, since bryan loves coconut. i didn't hear any complaints!

after oliver's morning nap, we headed over to the zoo. they were having a "family farm" weekend, and had a guy from a maple syrup farm, a farmer with vegetables and flowers, a bee/honey farmer, basket weaving, etc. we had a lot of fun walking around and looking at all the animals, though i think oliver had more fun looking at all the other little kids. we also finally went on the zoo train, which bryan had been dying to do. oliver had a BLAST on the train! cutest baby EVER! he was fascinated with it and hung out the window the entire time, letting the air blow through his hair, looking up and down the train to see the other kids hanging out, and generally taking in the scenery. lots more cute train pictures in the september gallery.

that afternoon, we headed over to mom & dad's house and ended up staying for dinner. oliver had a lot of fun having somewhere else to explore for awhile, chasing kitties and climbing the stairs 400 times.

sunday was rally day at church, which is a pig roast and i'm not sure what else, really. pot luck and hanging out, i guess. oliver woke up around 6 that morning but then went back down until 7:30, which is totally abnormal for him, but it meant he wasn't napping at 9 and could go to church. so it was nice for him to get a chance to play with some of the kids. he and bryan headed home while i stayed to work the kids' games for the rally thing and eat some pig. that afternoon, i *finally* matted and framed the painting adrianne made for us for last christmas. now let's see if we get it hung before this christmas! it looks really good and i can't wait to see it up.

while bryan made dinner, ollie and i took a quick spin in the stroller around the neighborhood (he was in the stroller; i pushed). we both wore our sunglasses since it was a gorgeous 75 degrees and sunny, and to my amazement, he kept them on his head the whole time. he usually only lasts about halfway with them on, but perhaps with the sun he wanted them on. he looks pretty bad ass in his spiderman shades, no?

that night for dinner, bryan and i stuffed ourselves with steak. he had a porterhouse and i had a rib eye, which he topped with some grilled peppers (which were pretty spicy!). he also roasted one of his heirloom tomatoes, which was so sweet, and tasted great with the steak. he baked some potatoes with a salt crust, which were to die for as usual. we had left over vera cruz veggies as well. brownies would have made a great dessert, but it's ok i didn't make any because we were too full to eat them anyways!

that night, oliver didn't get into bed until nearly 8pm since his schedule was off for the day, but then he slept in until nearly 7am yesterday, so go figure! he was up a few times last night, as his allergies are kicking in. he was pretty miserable this morning, with red, watery eyes, red splotches on his face, and a runny nose. poor kid, i wish there was something i could do for him!! i guess tonight is a benedryl night.

in other oliver news... he is trying very hard to walk! when he's not paying attention to what he is doing, he can stand without holding onto anything. he will try to take a step and fall, but he is getting there. any day now that kid will be running everywhere! scary!

the weather here has turned to TEH SUCK. cold and rainy, WTH? i'll have to write a letter to wisconsin. i want a nice fall, dammit!