Archive for the ‘Viva la Food!’ Category

Get it together, Mom.

August 22, 2017

Okay. It’s “only” Day 2.  I have lots of days to recover. And it could be worse. I realize there’s perspective. I just haven’t…found…it yet.

A good mom would remember to re-up Gracie’s lunch account balance.

A good mom would remember to create an account for Bee, in her new school district.

A good mom would have remembered to check on school lunch pack-ability at their other house before 9 p.m. But at least I offered to drop packed lunches off if it was needed?

It’s going to be a long, long year.

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#Riotgram, Day 8: Books and ice cream.

June 8, 2017

I almost forgot to post today. I framed and snapped my photo a day or two ago, and it didn’t quite slip my mind, per se, it just wasn’t quite at the front.

Perhaps it was because what I wanted to do was snap a picture of my collection of poems by Wallace Stevens, the one I had left over from 19th Century English Literature class. There was a poem, “The Emperor of Ice Cream,” that would have been perfect for this assignment. I remember discussing the poem at great length in class, and then the professor refused to give us his take on it! But…that’s besides the point. Because instead, for “Books and Ice Cream”, I got you this:

BooksIceCream

A comfort book, paired with comfort ice cream. The book in questions just happens to be a better picture of the edition of Anne that I told you about earlier. Isn’t it gorgeous?! The cover is soft; I don’t quite know what it’s made of.

The ice cream it’s hanging out with is almost as good a friend as that Anne-girl. You can’t find black raspberry ice cream here in Tejas, but the Haagan Daz Raspberry Sorbet is pretty tasty. You just know Anne Shirley would swoon over the word “sorbet”!

It’s a silly #Riotgram prompt. It’s my least favorite so far. But I swung at the pitch when it was thrown at me. What about you all – are there food pairings you think of to go with your favorite books?

The tradition we got suckered into.

March 28, 2017

I spent half my drive into work trying to figure it out: was it the first free program to get yanked, or had a short grant finally ended? Today is STAAR testing day – statewide mandatory testing of all non-testable skills and subjects of all classes ever classed. Or something. NOT BIG ON MANDATORY ONE-SIZE FITS ALL TESTIACNG. (Can ya tell?) And every other year, since Gracie was in 3rd grade and we kicked off on this adventure, the girls got a voucher for a few breakfast value meal from McDonald’s. This year? No coupons.

I actually tried (and think I succeeded at) mathing it out – if it was a five-year grant, and it started the year Gracie was in school, that means this would be the first year post-grant. Thus, no coupons. Maybe it was a grant funded by McDonald’s, aimed at getting good breakfasts every year into kiddos on test days in major cities. Maybe some other major city gets to start their five-year run this year. Maybe it was funded by the city and they put it on the chopping block. Maybe our school’s free breakfast program for every student was so successful they didn’t need to pay twice for the same advantage. Maybe not enough of the coupons were being redeemed. Dude, I better not have been the only parent dragging my butt outta bed early on test day!

Because I totally got suckered in. I think I did it the first year and it was a catastrophe – buying breakfast for the Bee-meister Meister-Burger because her sister had a coupon – and then made Gracie late or me late or something. And so I wasn’t going to do it the next year, but the Ex offered. And then it was a tradition and we all just kinda made it work for two days. Yes, eating a good breakfast is a good thing. But forcing little kids to get up 30 minutes early? A little counter-intuitive.

But! Test day. If the kids wanted to get up early, then fine. My sleep schedule has been so screwy, I didn’t care. Of course, then I didn’t fall asleep until 2:30 a.freakin’m., and really could have used that extra thirty minutes, but whatevs. I could pull it together. I even remembered to tell the Ex what the plan was for the morning, in case the girls were a little early or a little late. And offered to grab something for them or especially for the girls’ niece – because I believe walking into someone’s house with delicious breakfast food is rude, unless you’re going to share. Especially when one of the peoples is a three-year-old who wants whatever her aunties have!

Except, I don’t think the warning that the girls might be early really hit home because we pulled up to the house and it was dark-dark. “Dad sleeps until 6:30,” Gracie announced. “But I told him!” I whined. And then, as it hit me, “Uh…is the house alarm gonna go off if you use your key to go in?” “I think so,” she answered in a way that took all the doubt out of “think”. I thought we might be a few minutes early, but not 15-20 minutes. The only times I’ve gone through the drive-through, there’s been a huge back-up…probably because of the free coupons. I had no idea I was only going to need five extra minutes, or we all coulda slept in a bit more.

Dang it.

It was kinda funny when the three of us girls just looked at each other, collectively shrugged, and then Bee started handing out sausage biscuits. The hot cakes were a little messy for the car, but breakfast sandwiches? No problem. So we got to eat breakfast together in the dark of the car, idling in their dad’s neighborhood (sorry, neighbors, if that was keeping any of you up).

At least I don’t have to worry about it for another whole year. The girls get to spend the night with their dad tonight and the breakfast tradition baton is all his. Mwa ha ha!

Five for Friday.

March 10, 2017

I can get through this day. I can. And you can, too. C’mon, one foot in front of the other. And one bullet point in front of the other, too. C’mon, Katie…

1 The tree in my front yard is beginning to bud. Just teeny, tiny little green buds right now, so small you can only see them if you unfocus your eyes. But the buds are coming, and then there will be leaves. And even though I know allergies will kick it up a notch at Casa de Katie, it still fills me with hope and happy every time I see my tree come to life once again.

2 My mom’s birthday was this week, and I got to talk to her a little bit after the girls took turns. It wasn’t for very long because she was tired, and I could only make out a few words, but my mom rallied at the end long enough to yell at me to make everyone call more often. I sighed (to myself) and promised I would, but really I was thinking that my mom was going to garble the story with my aunts and you just know I was going to get yelled at for not calling my mom on her birthday.

3 I stopped at my favorite local Lebanese place for take-out last night. Um…again. The girls and I stopped on Wednesday, too. Yes, that’s two dinners in a row <insert Count von Count cackling muppetly over some thunder>. I walked in the door and stopped short when I saw it was the same waitress as the night before, but that’s okay because she did the same thing, too. We averted our eyes. She didn’t say anything about me being in two nights in a row for the same exact meal, and I didn’t mention that she was wearing the same clothes as the day before. Win-win!

4 I’m trying on a different outfit today, one that requires skinny jeans, Barbie sandals, a blousy shirt, and a fancypants spring-weight scarf. The scarf is killing me. I feel like I’m choking! I have to remind myself not to disassemble the scarf (who knows how twisted on it is at this point) and tear it from the outfit; that it’s the one piece tying everything else together. This is why we can’t have nice things. Friday is for comfort dressing. Not fancy dressing.

5 Here’s hoping I can bust through a few books from my backlist this weekend. I’m feeling like shaking off the cobwebs and curling up with allllll the books. Maybe I’ll treat myself to a coffee or four from my local bookstore and curl up on a chair there. It’s a good way to try the books on for size (and read an expensive hardcover or two).

There we go! Not a very glamorous list, but it got me through. It’s been that kind of week. The only excitement was when my brother turned the corner last night to find the house surrounded by fire trucks and ambulances. My mom fell – not seriously, she’s okay. They just needed help getting her up and my dad is nearly as bad off as my mom. I told my brother to tease my mom that there are easier ways to get our attention during the first day of free agency. And so she whacked him, which was my whole point. Heh.

Hope your weekends are the same: full of jusssst enough content that you keep from pulling crazy stunts to get attention. (But if you have a really good diversion tactic planned, let me know!)

Quote of the day.

January 19, 2017

It’s not often I get to capture these any more, and I thought we could use some levity this morning.

The setting: Bee and I were talking about food and our days, when all of a sudden her face lit up.

Bee: Oh! Mom! I had time to try something today at lunch and they were really good! The…I forget what they’re called. They’re pasta squares?
Me, thinking of cookies squares: Pasta squares?! Like…lasagna?
Bee: Nooo….
Me: Thick like a cookie square, but made of pasta mashed together?
Bee: No… You know, like the…
Me: Oh! Ravioli!
Bee: Yes! Those!

Little. pasta. squares. Oh my good gravy.

My favorite little monster chef.

November 7, 2016

Bee is serious about her cooking and baking, you guys. Just look what she’s up to…

cookiemonster

We were baking monster cupcakes for Halloween, and little Miss asked if we had blue frosting. She’s getting better about this, because she thought to ask before we went grocery shopping. Which means even if I couldn’t find ready-made blue frosting, I could grab vanilla and we could make some.

But, no need! (I did grab extra googly eyes, though. You can never have too many googly eyes if you live at Casa de Katie.) Bee-girl baked the cupcakes for her new cooking show “Kids Can Cook!” and then decorated them all by herself. I was quick impressed with how furry she was able to get those monsters on her first attempt with any type of frosting tip.

She had a blast – right down to posing as Cookie Monster herself. As one does.

I have the girls again this weekend, and Bee is already pouring over cookbooks and Pinterest, and making notes in her Chef Cookbook journal. I’m scared I’ve created a…(wait for it)…monster.

 

Culinary superstar: coming soon to a TV near you.

October 5, 2016

As many of you heard, we have a newly elected Student Council Secretary in residence. I am so proud of my Bee-girl! She has just bloomed this last year and is poised to take over the world. And I’m going to do everything in my power to help her. (In return for the tiny favor of eternal benevolence from our future ruler.)

One of the ways I can help is to keep our Queen Bee motivated. She can only stay in Student Council if she keeps an A/B average – something that she’s maintained since late last year, but is by no means guaranteed. So we add some incentive. It’s something I’ve always done, and Bee remembers. She asked the other night if we could look for some gymnastics classes if she had As and Bs on her report card next week. Bee used to take tumbling and gymnastics with the Redheads in second and third grades. But the classes were smack dab in the middle of Saturday morning, meaning we couldn’t really plan anything else for our day, or else we had to miss a class that we paid for, show or no show. So I wasn’t really very keen on signing back up. But I needed to do something.

So what I did was I schemed. I schemed and dreamed, and thought, and let my imagination run wild with ideas. Maybe instead of gymnastics, I could find cooking classes. Maybe Mommy & Me classes. Or, hey, maybe we could run those classes! Maybe…

Maybe Bee could teach some cooking classes.

Don’t ask me how I made the connection; I couldn’t tell you. I thought about how the girls love watching their YouTube stars post videos, and follow vlogs about this and that, and how much fun they have posting Musical.lys. They’ve become adept at all the terminology and lighting and scripts and their creative little selves just explode with ideas. What if I tied that to Bee’s love of cooking? What if I let Bee host a cooking vlog? I mean – !!!  I’m not crazy about her face being out there where people can see it – there’s a lot of crazy in this world – but if I made her understand why I’m concerned and sign off on anything that gets posted, this could be amazing!

I floated the idea to Queen Bee and told her we needed her dad to sign off on the project. If he said no, then it was absolute – and I would understand. If he said yes, then she would need to keep her grades up. Her dad or I could step in and halt production at any time for any egregious behavior on her part, or any disastrous grade. But if you saw my Bee-girl’s face… That look! That look was the look parents live for. I had handed my baby the moon.

And her dad said yes.

We won’t start off on any kind of schedule, at first. We might work up to weekly or every other week, depending on how smoothly it goes. Bee will need to pick her projects, research whether we have the ingredients or will need to purchase them at the store. She’ll need to write out a “script” to follow (more or less). Will she talk about the best places to find ingredients? About budgeting? What about design and formatting – will she have the type of show where ingredients are pre-measured and set aside in bowls, or will showing kids how to measure ingredients be part of the video? Is there a time limit that she wants to aim for? Or will each video expand or contract to fit her recipe? So many questions! So much room for fun and creativity!

I am so excited for my girl. I am so proud of her for working her tail off and getting her grade to this point. I’m happy that she knows her own heart and what makes it sing. And I’m wicked excited that I get to work on a project with her and have some quality mother/daughter time – other than lounging on the couch and watching Jane Austen movies, because my Bee-girl is always good for that!

(Gawd, now I don’t know who will cry more if she loses her A/B average – her, or me!)

Here’s to your new, fancy-fantastic chapter in your life, Queen Bee!

The magic continues.

September 27, 2016

If you know me, especially if you know me in real life, you’ve heard of this place called Magic Target. And you know the special place that it has in my heart.

Way, waaaay back, when Target (and similar stores) only sold toys and household goods. If you wanted a “combo” store where you could shop for both home goods and groceries, you had to wade through Walmart. Back then I was broke enough that I often did. Then I heard of this magic rumor: these things called SuperTargets were opening, and they offered the same groceria/home goods experience. I turned up my nose because I didn’t think it was very sanitary, having dust from my birthday presents and sundry landing all over my food. I was so silly.

In between then and a later (but not too much later) time, Kim introduced me to my favorite wine: Jam Jar. It’s a sweet red wine, and for a time, we thought that, like black raspberry, it must only be available in New England. For we could not find it here. I tried every liquor store around – and believe me, there are quite a few! And then when I was perusing through the SuperTarget that is sort of near the house, but not as close, I found some. And lo and behold, Magic Target was thusly named.

But it didn’t stop there!

There was the summer that Kim and I were beckoning to each other wildly from opposite ends of the same aisle. I can’t remember what it was that I had found, but Kim had found a special release of Black Raspberry ice cream. I think we bought every last half gallon they had.

The next summer I found their black raspberry again (for the last time, sadly), and I was so excited, I whipped open the freezer door…and bounced it right off Gracie’s head. But her tastes run so similar to mine that she forgave me as soon as she saw what had caused me to run mad.

Magic Target is the only groceria around here that carries my new favorite quick dinner: Cracker Barrel Macaroni and Cheese. I don’t want to hear about how many preservatives or calories or anything else bad, please. I loves it and that’s that. Every single flavor (that doesn’t include the word “jalepeno”) goes straight into my cart, and then into my belly. And then I am happy.

A few weeks ago, my new colleague introduced me to the wonders of Noosa’s Mexican Chocolate yogurt. It tastes just like the mayan hottie cookies that Kim discovered! Only it’s yogurt! And GOOD FOR YOU! She could only find it at Walmart, and we all knew I wasn’t making that trip. It would take 40 minutes, just for a pack of yogurt. (Even if it was the tastiest, most cookie-est yogurt ever.) We started looking at every grocery store we visited. And you will absolutely guess where I found it: Magic Target. (Where I bought some for me, and some for Corrie. Because I am a good bestie.)

You’d think the magic would taper out, or at least wait awhile before dispensing the next little bit of magicky goodness. Except, last weekend when Gracie and I were out shopping, my eye happened to catch on something as I was looking around for my 90-calorie soft-baked chocolate chip cookies:

carrs

Carr’s Ginger Lemon Cremes! I tried them once before during one Superbowl or another. I found them at Costco and even though it’s been years since I’ve seen them there, I still check every single time I make the pilgrimage, hoping against hope. They’re ginger snaps sandwiching the most perfect lemon cream, and somewhere is just the right amount of lemon zest that sings with a pop! of happy! at unexpected moments. I’m a little in love with them.

Magic Target has delivered yet again. Because MAGIC! Everyone needs a little magic now and again. Luckily for me, I know just where to find it, even if I don’t know what shape and form to expect from trip to trip. Dang if if that doesn’t make the adventure a little more exciting!

The girls who needed mama, but not really.

August 29, 2016

Gracie is at such a fun age. No, really! Sure she has her moments – any tween would – but she’s incredibly fun and smart and killin’ the bit about finding her own groove.

And Gracie-girl has always been independent. She’ll want me to double check on things (“Mom, is the stove set to the right temperature?” “Mom, does this look good?” “Mom, look how I rearranged my room – is that thing there put together the right way?” “How long do I heat this up for?”), even if she has the gist of it down and is really just lacking confidence. And I get it. I do. Baby bird is getting ready to fly on her own and wants to make sure she has the mechanics down. I tried to remember if I was quite the same way when I was a kid, but mostly, I just remember the bit from right after this stage, like making secret cookie dough when I was home sick and my mom was at work.

Except then it happened, and all of a sudden. Last week, one night after dinner, Gracie asked if she could make cookies. “Uh….sure?” I answered. She got out one of the molasses cookie mixes (woohoo – it’s gone) and got to work. Not to be left out, Bee got out my recipe for chocolate chip cookies and make those from scratch, too. (Only she required a bit more supervision.) Gracie all of a sudden had cookies from her batch. Just bam! Cookies. Without her mama. She didn’t ask me for help with the stove, or with watching the cookies, or with spatula-ing them off! She killed it.

Last night I went out for a walk with Corrie, and Jeff decided to grab a beer with a friend at about the same time. Just before I left, Gracie complained (rather erroneously) that there was nothing to eat for dessert. “Can I make these cinnamon rolls?” she asked, holding out the tube she found in the vegetable crisper. “I don’t care,” I replied, happy that she wasn’t intimidated by cooking for herself. And so she did. Thirteen minutes later, we had slightly burnt (but still delicious) cinnamon rolls.

After Gracie frosted her freshly baked dessert, Bee asked if there was more icing. I thought I had one more cream cheese frosting, but alas. “Can I make frosting with confectionary sugar?” she asked, just as I was about to go out the door. “Uh…” I started, not really sure how to react. “You don’t care that I’ll be gone?” She didn’t. “You’ll have to look it up on my computer,” I warned. She didn’t care. And so Bee made her tasty, tasty butter cream, double-sugar frosting. With butter. With beaters. The last one made my eyebrows shoot up when I got back. “You used beaters?!” I asked. “Yeah,” Bee answered nonchalantly. “That’s what the recipe said to do. Oh, and vanilla extract!” But I was still stuck on beaters. “And you got the beater part out of the hand mixer okay?” Bee just looked at the beaters in the sink before answering the obvious, “Uh, yeah?” Well, okay, kiddo.

Independent kids are the way to go, folks. They might make you worry about burning their hands or making a mess, but they feed you snacks when you get back from your walk, and so that’s all right.

Twice-stolen Peruvian Roast Chicken.

February 18, 2016

PeruvianRoastChicken

Those of you who know me know what a thing I have for garlic. I mean, the garlickier, the tastier! So when my friend Jenna posted a recipe for Peruvian Roast Chicken and Garlic Butter Rice (that she, in turn, borrowed from Nagi), I knew I needed to make it immediately. All that garlic!

You guys. You guys! It might be the best meal I’ve made all year. The chicken was delicious and flavorful and toasted to the perfect degree of crispiness. The rice was buttery and garlicky and melted in my mouth. The green beans were buttery and snappy. And the crescent rolls…

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

Chicken
4 skin-on chicken breasts or 2 lbs. of other skin-on chicken pieces
1 tbsp freshly minced garlic or 3-6 garlic cloves, crushed (to taste)
2 tsp cumin powder1 tbsp paprika (Nagi recommends smoked; I used plain and it was fine)
4 tbsp soy sauce (Yes, even if you don’t like soy)
2 tbsp lime juice, fresh (1 lime)(Though I used lime juice from a bottle)
1 tbsp “good” olive oil

Garlic Butter Rice
4 garlic cloves or 2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp “good” olive oil
2 cups white rice
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
4 tbsp butter

HOW TO DO IT

1. Whisk the marinade ingredients in a bowl.
2. Place the chicken pieces in a freezer-grade ziploc bag, then pour the marinade ingredients over them. Seal the bag and shake to coat.
3. Ideally, let the marinade work for a couple hours. Your chicken will still be tasty if you don’t have enough time to let it sit.
4. Bake the chicken as you would usually. I did my bone-in breasts at 375° for 1:20.

1. Heat oil and garlic in a saucepan big enough to hold two cups of cooked rice (medium to large).
2. Add rice and stir until the rice gets coated and starts to look translucent. Then add water and broth, cover, and reduce heat to medium low.3. Cook for about 15 minutes. If your stove sucks like mine, panic when the water isn’t even reduced after 15 minutes, turn it up a bit, and check every five minutes until done.
4. When the water/broth is nearly all gone, remove from heat and let stand 5-10 minutes. Add the butter and mix, letting it melt. Don’t taste test, or you will go face down so you can make out with it a little.

I made cheesy biscuits instead of garlic butter to give our mouths a place to rest after all! that! garlic! in the rest of our food, and resisted (barely) adding any to the green beans, too. But experiment away! It’s one of those recipes you could tweak a dozen different ways. And I probably will because zomg so good I already want to make it again!