Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A New Year's Perspective...The Value of Time

Now that another paper calendar (from Allstate Insurance) is recycled, and the new one is pinned on our kitchen door, I have some reflections on the Olivier journey through time, and the value of family, friends and good health.

1. As I reflect back on mom-hood these past four years, even at 40+ (yes, I am over 40), there are times I still want my mommy. Although the quantity, or how often I am needing mom changes, the level of "need" is still as strong. And she is thankfully here. I can only hope I'm around at least another 40 years when my daughters want their mommy, too.
2. Being a daddy's girl, I watch my girls bond with their dad with great affection and admiration. Paul is such an attentive and loving father. I can still appreciate events past and present with my father, who is also thankfully in my life. Paul better eat boku burgers from now on for another 40+ years as well!
3. Although retail therapy brings great joy, or indulging in good wine and chocolate, true happiness begins with good health - both mentally and physically (which will happen after our last year of NO SLEEP, we hope), and continues with family, friends and of course, our pets contributing to the meaning of our lives. As long as there are loved ones like you (within my circle of trust) and warm shelter (and good food), the rest has little value. (Yes, that means things like Glee and my iPhone).

Although this is my personal journal of adventure, in many ways, my blog is a tribute to all of you out there, my friends and family, without whom life wouldn't be an adventure. Thank you for being an important part of our lives.
Happy 2012 from our Family of Monkeys!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Blue Steel or Magnum?

Parenting has it's joys AND challenges. Especially when you have dark circles under your eyes from sleepless nights due to nights of gas or night mares or... who knows why they won't go to sleep.

But here's the beauty of 4. One book on childhood development says that my child is so happy to communicate at this age, that she will be testing all of the boundaries and will become extremely difficult. Great. The book further explains that I'm supposed to embrace it, not fight it, in order to make MY life easier. Yeah, right. I get the pouty look, fainting princess frown and scrunched face when Ms. obstinant is working me over. And my least favorite is when she mirrors what I say and scolds ME with a consequence in response to my warning.

The baby can't express herself so we have another host of issues (mostly in the form of emotional bursts when things don't go her way). Her latest expression reminds me of Ben Stiller in Zoolander - but I can't recall if it's Blue Steel or Magnum. Anyone?

Sometimes BEFORE she does something questionable, she looks at me and frowns, expecting me to say no or grab her before she puts herself in danger.
The looks are priceless and, although it's a daily double on attitude, boy are these two monkeys (well, one monkey and one lady-bug, I'm told) adorable.

Just one more book, pleasssse?

Don't you dare take my toothbrush.

Blue Steel Expression (Zoolander)

Monday, December 5, 2011

French or Chinese?

My daughter is learning French at the very young age of 4 and she now believes she can speak other languages including German, Spanish, "Jewish" and Chinese fluently. Why? Just because she's 4 and, at that age, they still believe they are the best at everything. Although, not everyone out-grows this philosophy.

Tonight she asked me if we could play restaurant. So I said yes and she took my food order. To be funny, I ordered "poop cookies" (which are the animal cookies from Safeway and were incentives for her to go #2 in the potty). These are now their branded name in our household. My "fluent in Chinese" waitress told me that poop cookie in Chinese is Clish. She left and went to her kitchen, then came back to give me pretend "clish".

Next on the menu? Poop-things (Another incentive, tic tacs, which she pronounces poop-sings).

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Have You Ever Re-rolled Toilet Paper?

Well, it only took 3 minutes. Paul was wagering it would take me hours. And then I began to roll faster and he changed his estimate to 7 minutes. But I did it in 3. 
I guess our 4-year old was being naughty. It's normally the 1-year old that grabs the first sheet of toilet paper and just tugs and tugs with a big smile. Lately, big sister is vying for attention and emulates baby sister's bad habits!

The net result?
Good as new!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


This evening I was reading a story to my darlings as they were perched on my lap. The eldest was trying to get comfortable on one leg, complaining that it was too soft, while the baby, on my other leg, was pushing the open book with her feet and covering the words as I was trying to read them. Then the other one grabbed the baby's legs, and was moving around again trying to get comfortable on mama's 'soft and squishy' leg. I can't imagine life any other way - squishy mama bathing them, reading to them and putting them to bed (with skinny dad).
How frazzled I feel. I'm a frumpy Grump and tired. And soft in the middle. But I enjoy every tired moment reading to my two peanuts. Mom-hood is such a wonderful thing.
Hey Hey, We're the Monkeys!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Shrinking My Sweaters

Well, you can guess from the title, that there's a story here. I don't have a lot of sweaters, and the few I have I wear with pride. This story is about two sweaters, both gifts from Paul and both from Anthropologie. It was about 2 days ago when Paul held up my favorite blue hooded sweater and looked at me. He had a serious look but when I grinned and said "on no", he smiled and shrugged his shoulders.
From size M women's to size 4 toddler's...
You see, wool doesn't dry without shrinking. My daughter said, "mama, it's like a shrinky dink. Right mama?" We had just finished an art project consisting of shrinky dinks, and so she was now a pro.
Well, yes, I guess it was. My favorite wool sweater now fits my 4 year old. So, I told her, she got a brand new sweater. But I said it with a somber voice. Suddenly, my emotional little girl just started crying because she was sad for me. She was consoling me in between sobs, but I began to really console her and tell her not to be sad for me.
After all, it happened two years ago, too! Paul felt so bad, he bought me another one. So now I need to find another blue one!
Now we have twin sweaters, my eldest daughter and I!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Silhouette Art

Silhouette art is such a creative and delicate form of art, and it harkens to my childhood. In fact, I wonder where the framed silhouettes of my siblings are that used to be on a wall at my parents.

Karl Johnson is a 3rd generation silhouette artist. I was watching him cutting with his entire arm (and shoulders) a silhouette of my child faster than I could cut out a basic paper heart (not kidding). http://www.mygreenlake.com/2011/11/silhouette-artist-karl-johnson/
 The results are stunning... Can you tell these are my children?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Monkey Business

Monkey 2
I had an absolutely hilarious moment I thought I'd write about. Although one part of it is sort of embarrassing, it's pretty funny.

Here goes the TMI: My morning ritual begins with Monkey 1 pattering into our room between 6 and 7, and either Paul or I getting Monkey 2 in her room. Meanwhile, I get followed into the bathroom by one dog and two kids. Our sliding door is always open and I can watch Lily when she's stumbling along. Usually I play peek a boo and she comes toward me with a big smile. This time I was taking a little longer and kept peeking around the doorway, but I realized she wasn't right outside. She was at my night table but now walking, no running toward me with my large full glass of water in her little pudgy hand. Her little fingers barely held on to the rim and she was so proud of herself as she was trying to run, teetering and smiling at me. I was up and off the toilet so fast, racing toward her in what felt like slow motion, and just barely got to the glass before it spilled all over the floor. She just smiled somemore and was off looking to grab the next thing.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Autumn Comfort Food

One of my previous entries was about staples. Well, actually it was about a restaurant called Staple and Fancy. This entry is about staple and homely. There is nothing like pairing pumpkin with an old homely staple in our house. Staple that is, since children entered the picture. Homely that is, since I make it that way. Mac n Cheese and pumpkin, please? Glenna sent me a fail-safe recipe. I altered it ever-so-slightly based on what I could find in the fridge and cupboard. It was a hit! By the way, Paul still added more flavor to it after he got home. That's what he does... Sorry folks, I didn't add bacon, which Paul considers a spice. But I bet foraged mushrooms such as Chanterelles would have been fabulous. Paul bought an entire box from a friend who works at Whole Foods. Here's a tip: Don't try to pair it with a German Gewürtztraminer which was all that was open in the fridge. In fact, don't ever buy a Gewürtztraminer! Torsten's theory is that Germans export it so they don't have to drink it. (I agree!)

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
·       2 cups dried elbow macaroni (8 ounces) I used rigatoni.
·       2 Tbsp. butter
·       2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
·       1/2 tsp. salt
·       1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
·       1 cup whipping cream I used half & half·       1 cup whole milk I used skim milk
·       4 oz. Fontina cheese, shredded (1 cup) I used Quattro Frommagio
·       1 15-oz. can pumpkin
·       1 Tbsp. snipped fresh sage or 1/2 tsp. dried leaf sage, crushed I used Herbes de Provence
·       1/2 cup soft bread crumbs I used Panko·       1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
·       1/3 cup chopped walnuts I omitted these (Lily is still too young)
·       1 Tbsp. olive oil
·       Sage leaves (optional) I didn't have sage!

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook pasta in a large pot following package directions. Drain cooked pasta, then return to pot.
2. For cheese sauce, in a medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper. Add whipping cream and milk all at once. Cook and stir over medium heat until slightly thickened and bubbly. Stir in cheese, pumpkin, and sage until cheese is melted. Stir cheese sauce into pasta to coat. Transfer macaroni and cheese to an ungreased 2-quart rectangular baking dish.
3. In a small bowl combine bread crumbs, Parmesan, walnuts, and oil; sprinkle over pasta. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until bubbly and top is golden. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. If desired, sprinkle with sage leaves.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Little Bit of Sunshine

This weekend was all about reconnecting with a very dear friend. We go way back to the days when we were carefree and even reckless in Munich (although, really, not very) over 20 years ago. Could it be that long? We both are still young, of course!  Torsten came from Munich and stopped in Vancouver, B.C. for two days of shopping before arriving in Seattle. First stop: U-Village for some more shopping (and it poured rain the entire time - where was that little bit of sunshine for our guest).
Later that evening, dinner was take-out Indian food (after debating between Mexican, Thai and Indian).  We had Lamb Vindaloo, Butter chicken, rice, naan and vegetarian samosas.  I tried giving the baby some of the samosa but her bottom lip suddenly puffed out and curled down after we all realized it was too spicy!  (Warning: even "mild" was a little bit spicy for both girls, but mainly for the baby). 

Eggs Benedict, lecker!
This morning, Paul poached eggs the old-fashioned way and whipped up a hollandaise in order to make Torsten's favorite (which he cannot get in Germany) - Eggs Benedict. I have to admit, it was "lecker" as they say in Deutschland, but it's a bit too rich for me. So I had to stick to one and give the other one to Paul who obliged without hesitation.

We then headed off to Golden Gardens and spent time enjoying the fresh chilled air.  It is definitely Fall here!

Beim Spielplatz

And then it was time to say goodbye. The visit was too short. Komm' doch mal mit Peter das nächste Mal!  Wir vermissen Dich schon...

Torsten mit der RIESEN Gepäck!

This evening, Paul needed to head off to work while I was trying to figure out what to do for dinner. It wasn't too hard when I realized we had left-overs from our lovely dinner last night with Torsten.  Linguine with olive oil and Parmesan and a chanterelles, cream and bacon sauce. Sadly, I did the thing that probably kills all nutrients. I threw both plates in the microwave on 30 and Elle and I ate brussel sprouts and asparagus with our noodle dish. Lovely. Lily was already full from the fruit, avocado and noodles I put in front of her.

The girls had an eventful weekend - preparing for trick-or-treating on a Saturday afternoon (Paul took the girls while Torsten and I shopped).

Ich bin einer Marienkäfer!

Le coccinelle

Aren't we the cutest.

Friends dressed and ready to go!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Living in a Zoo (or Circus)

Sweet Pea in the Kitchen. We had to move the dog bowls...
Every day in the Olivier household holds adventure. Whether we are all madly rushing around to leave the house in the morning to get to school and work or we are rushing around at dinner time to get the cranky girls fed, there is 'never a dull moment'. I have a theme song that ties back to the multitude of people and animals in our house. Our dog and two cats fuel our chaos. "We live in a zoo, zoo, zoo. We live in a zoo, zoo, zoo." And so on.  (Sing to the chorus of Addams Family tune).
In August we were hosting four Germans (Garth, one of my best friends, is actually American but he has now lived in Germany longer so I think he counts there, too!) and spending time enjoying the sites and sounds of the market (Pike Place). After indulging in Jack's Fish and Chips which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND, we took our oldest to get some balloons. It was a long day and we were tired by the end. But now we have these cherished images to enjoy our zoo - and circus - life.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Flying Squirrel

It's just pizza, so how adventurous is it for a night out?  Well, that may be true, but the fact that it was girl's night out made up for the venue AND we were erring on the side of "cheaper" eats (although it's not quite in the "cheap eats" category). 
Glenna, Les, Liz and I were deciding between Tutta Bella and Flying Squirrel. We all love Tutta Bella so it's an easy decision, but Liz suggested trying this new pizza place in Maple Leaf. The service started out a little slow, but once they took our order for a pitcher of Kolsch and Anti Pasti, we were well on our way with good conversation and good food.  The pizzas were delicious, and my preference was the fig, goat cheese, prosciutto and arugula... Mucho bene, grazie.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Eat Your Heart Out

Despite the fact that one of my old familiar hangouts closed in old town (Bad Alberts), I still love Ballard. One night on the town, Paul and I met good friends for dinner at Staple and Fancy Mercantile and had the Chef's menu ($45 per person). This is the lowdown. You select it. You commit to a surprising four course family style dinner. You eat things like Peppers with tuna hearts.
Holy Mackerel that fish was good!

You love it, and even your foodie husband loves it. You still pay an arm and a leg but at least you got more than what was served at the other damn French place in Madison. Rovers? Yes, Rovers. Where we had 2 whole scallops for $20 and hence ordered about 6 courses each AT that price. Dad-in-law bought (Pierre) and subsequently told Thierry (Chef) that this is not French (he said this all in French), because never had he experienced this type of dining in France. And then he proceeded to ask if the Chef if he only bought one crab to feed the entire restaurant. His disarming smile kept things amenable but I wonder if Thierry was cursing that damned Frenchman! 
Well, anyway, Ethan Stowe impressed us at Staple and Fancy (and once a long time ago at How to Cook a Wolf). So, we'll have to go back or try another!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Craft Night

Eliana, my friend and neighbor, invited me and my mom to a Mosaic party.  At first I was sort of dreading it.  I was thinking of about 20 other things I'd rather be doing when nodding my head in agreement to attend the event.  But I thought about mom and how much she might enjoy it, and so I started talking myself into it.  And then we drew names last weekend for our annual family Christmas home-made gift exchange (which we celebrate during Thanksgiving) and I drew Rick's name. I was imagining a fish-themed stepping stone or something either he would absolutely love or that his dog would just pee on.

Thankfully for him, I gave up on that idea when Laura, the host, told me the wood mosaics could not be stepping stones. So I chose to make something for my eldest daughter since she would appreciate it more than Lil'. 

Mom's mosaic masterpiece
I had to rummage around a few children's books before deciding on a giraffe
Eliana brought a halloween themed picture (a scary house). Mom knew immediately that she wanted to make a bird. We were all thrilled with our mosaics, (and the prosecco)! Upon our return around 9 pm, Paul offered mom and me some of his home-made yummy potstickers prior to cooking up a pot roast at 10 pm. 

Paul's gourmet masterpiece
Paul decides to make Pot Roast at 10 pm
What a fabulous and adventurous evening.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

What's So Special About Exit 82?

Occasionally I need to drive to Portland (usually with a friend, thankfully) for a quick day trip. Client meetings tend to be a quick 1 to 2 hours, and it's the travel time that makes it a 10 or 12 or 15 hour day, depending on departure times and traffic.  Just two days ago my co-worker and friend, Christina, drove us to Portland via Interstate 5. We absolutely had to stop for a quick nature-break thanks to a syndrome called A-G-E (for me, not for Christina), and I had suggested we take exit 82 in Centralia where there is a Starbucks near the Safeway complex. A client once told me that 82 was the optimal exit every time he traveled to Portland from Seattle. Ideal for a coffee or gas stop, exit 82 is the half-way point to break up the monotony of I-5.  After heeding his advice, it's become a happy routine. So happy, in fact, Christina and I stopped there to and from Portland where we grabbed a cuppa and a bite and even did a little work. We had a great time with engaging conversation, almost no traffic (except for Tacoma on the way back), and the meeting was a success, too!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

On the Road, Again

Food on the road can be an adventure. I was recently in NYC with a co-worker and friend, and we tried out a place called "Eataly". Clever way to say Italy like an EATALIAN. The specialty foods and eatery reminded me of some of my favorite places in the old country. Fauchon, Hediard or Galeries Lafayettes (on the 3ieme etage).
How was the food? I'd give it an 8. I'm not the foodie my husband is, so I'd be curious to know how he rates it. The company (and glass of rose) were fantastic. :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Weekend Rituals

As cliché as this sounds, human beings are creatures of habit. This fact is punctuated by my 11 month old when she plays a new game with me in her crib at bedtime. She starts by looking straight at me above the crib gate, then she bends down and peeks at me through the jail bars of the crib and smiles or giggles. Then it starts again. We are defined by our rituals to varying degrees (although these rituals are less and less appreciated over time because they are more of a necessity). Work schedules, workout schedules, feeding schedules, sleeping schedules, and for some of us who have more time or who simply make more time (because maybe they are way more organized than I am), there are additional hobbies like golf, volunteering, or even sewing, knitting, cooking or going to city council meetings! But one ritual I really appreciate with my family is weekend breakfast.
Although I used to savor a simple cuppa with my face buried in a newspaper, it never felt as rewarding as a chaotic morning does now chez Olivier. When Paul is frying up bacon, I can't resist. Bacon really is the gateway meat.
And whoa I love me some good pancakes, especially Paul's French Pancake Recipe from A Taste of Oregon cookbook (a wedding gift from Julie Vincent 12 years ago this month). If you want that recipe, with even just one request, I'll post it!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Where Are the Green Bits?

Mom is here. You can tell because the house becomes wonderfully transformed. The kitchen is filled with desserts. She absolutely had to bake zucchini dessert and zucchini bread.
This dessert came from catholic nuns.
Ironically, neither the bread nor the dessert looks much like zucchini. She shaves off all of the green so the textured look from dark green peel is missing. And yet...the taste is so, so, so amazing. One bite and you stop looking for the green bits. You just close your eyes and smile.

Monday, August 22, 2011

One Shot, or Two?

There are moments in our lives when we stop and think about how short life really is. Or how precious life is. As a mom of a new-ish 10-month old baby and soon to be 4-year old, I'm reminded quite often about this fact. I watch my children change every day. It's marvelous to see the curiosity in their eyes when exploring a new subject of affection. And then to watch the transformation from curiosity to joy or "glee" on their innocent faces when they make a new discovery.

So in addition to enjoying one or two shots of espresso as a sleep deprived mama, I think about how life is a one-shot deal. Whatever my belief, I know I am here for a limited time. I can't imagine living to be 120. Why, when it means I extend my old-age habits for another 20 or 30 years?

So why not enjoy these moments of "middle-age" and give it my best shot? I often think about playing the lotto so I actually have a shot at winning. But then my strategy is that life is, in a way, a lotto. So why not play my hand at several different entrepreneurial ideas, to see if one of them is the winning ticket?

With one shot, might as well make it the strongest, boldest espresso each and every day.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Mystery Soda

My husband is not really a soda drinker. (I call it soda because I grew up calling it soda, or pop, or soda pop). I occasionally relish a diet coke, and during the summer it seems like my default drink when I am not hankering for a micro brew of the local sort. I do like me a good Manny's pint on occasion! But one day, when I was hot and we were going to the Festival for Wooden boats on July 4th with the kids and we parked in his work garage, I asked if there was a d.c. in the fridge upstairs near his office. He said probably not, but to his surprise, there was a nice shiny can of diet coke. Sitting alone on the shelf. Looking lonely and unwanted. So he grabbed it without thinking too much about it. Or so I thought.

It turns out that, just last night he confessed to me that he bought a case of diet coke and it's been under his desk at work. "That's funny. Why?" I asked. Well, he proceeded to tell me about how guilty he felt about taking someone's coke from the fridge, so he replaced it.
"Trouble is", he proceeded to tell me, "I've taken it out and replaced it about a half dozen times so now half the case is gone". We both laughed at the ridiculousness of this Steve Carell or Will Ferrell type moment where he continues to trudge to the fridge with a warm coke in hand, replacing the missing coke he took hours earlier, repeatedly going back. Most likely looking suspicious from doing something bad.

I guess it's called, living with a conscience! I told him his next career move is to become a comedian. That, or to go to d.c. anonymous because maybe he's a closet soda drinker!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Simple Recipes

It's summertime, and the livin' is easy. We are spending time in Montana with family, celebrating birth years and reminiscing about our youth. There are some funny pictures of our family (and the clothes we are wearing!) But all in all, I can see the smiles on all of the faces as they thumb through photo album after photo album of our past. This family reunion is a savory recipe of one part nostalgia and one part creating new memories.
Our family reunions are always potluck style. Julie brought Goulash, a macaroni and hamburger stew with tomatoes (Dode used Tomato Soup); Deanna made baked beans with bacon, our favorite, Vonda made a healthy salad with huckleberry dressing, Connie made old fashioned fruit salad with cool whip, and Marci brought granola baked in a pan with melted chocolate chips on top. Mom, dad and our siblings contributed to A LOT of meat, and Paul grilled it up. We all ate too much. So now I am thinking about something I want to try to make (of course - food obsessed!)

Marci's Granola recipe goes something like this:
2 cups granola
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1 pack chocolate chips (melted)

I guess I need to try making it, but I'd like to start with home-made granola and use Adams or 365 brand peanut butter (no lard). Let me know if this works for you!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sleepless in North Seattle

I have two beautiful daughters. Absolutely the light of our lives.

And yet I am so very sleep deprived, there are days I can hardly think beyond the perfunctory. Wake up, drink coffee. Get dressed, drink coffee. Change diapers, dress and feed children, and maybe one more espresso for the road en route to school drop off and work? It is no wonder working parents cannot keep up with the news, or put much thought into which local or state initiatives really matter to their families. That is why, when I do get involved in an event, I need to care enough about it.
Seattle BioMed is one of those "causes". I was so very touched by the event my husband and I attended at Seattle BioMed's Passport Event, and thrilled to see the work they are doing. Selfishly I felt the glowing pride of a "mother" who also helped to define the new brand personality of their organization. The birth of a 30 year old organization who has spread its wings, or the birth of our baby and toddler who have yet to really define their place in this world... I guess there are so many things that matter, and it is so very hard to prioritize it all. But I feel the rewards far far outweigh the sleepless nights.

Coffee and China

Most of us drink tea in our fine China, or we drink tea when traveling in China. In this case, I was drinking coffee (there is an ongoing theme of sleep deprived mama) while HEARING someone speak about China! I was at an APCO sponsored breakfast talk at an ungodly hour (like 7:00 a.m.) which featured good coffee and guest speaker James McGregor, an expert on China relations. This gathering was for the Seattle business community to learn and discuss how to effectively do business in China. James McGregor was both entertaining and compelling. At times, even depressing when he mentioned some very real problems with both the Chinese Government and the U.S. Government. But he might have been foreshadowing the recent Presidential nominee when he was giving glowing reviews about the former ambassador to China - Jon Huntsman. James seemed invincible when expressing his admiration and respect for someone who would be an incredible loss in his role as ambassador, and in the same breath he exclaimed "Jon is truly a class-act. He is presidential material". I'm probably not stating his exact words, but you get the picture. This event took place on April 26. Fast forward to earlier this week when Huntsman, officially announced his candidacy for the Republican party. Coffee talk turned presidential candidacy, now that's some breakfast!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Where are all the women?

I was looking at a new neighborhood company that sprung up in the online travel space and was excited to see a venture near Greenlake. When I went to the site, I was interested in the bios of this distinct team of executives who put it all together. To my surprise, there were no women. One founder came from Microsoft, one from Marchex, and so on. Each time I see these Seattle based tech-y start ups, I have to ask, where are the women? I think I'll go drink an iced tea and get my nails done.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Did I Mention Fiddleheads?

From the various comments I've received, many of you have been asking this question, what the heck are fiddleheads?
I was at the University Farmer's Market with mom and saw these green spirals that almost looked like alien forms from another universe. So I bought a half pound, par boiled for 2 minutes and sauteed with bacon. They were still somewhat crunchy but tasted fresh and healthy. Well, except for the bacon part of it. That part tasted decadent. Okay let's face it, bacon is a spice. So anything sauteed with bacon is mighty flavorful...Paul even subscribes to bacon and peanut butter sandwiches. But he IS Canadian, afterall.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, Oh My...

Easter Sunday and no special meal plans. What's a girl to do? Family is still sick, so mom and I decided to spend time at the University Farmer's Market on Saturday to purchase fresh produce for Sunday. Our fresh finds included rhubarb and fiddle heads. (More on fiddle heads in the next blog).

So, naturally, I HAD to make Strawberry Rhubarb pie. But mom also dug up an older recipe and asked me to make Rhubarb Cake. The recipe is from her favorite cookbook which is a "home-made" compilation of local moms and grandmas in her home town. A grandma's recipe for cake? It had to be winner.

Well, here's what went right. Both ended up tasting delicious. Here's what went wrong...

For the cake, we didn't have a clean 9 x 11 pan, so we used a 10" square pan. The cake was thicker and, as a result, the 40 minutes wasn't long enough. We hadn't noticed until my daughter asked us to cut into it and I realized that the goo sticking to the knife was not from moist and gooey cake, it was gooey batter! So back in the oven it went for ANOTHER 20 minutes.
Secondly, the cinnamon / sugar sprinkle wasn't spread evenly and so there were crusty bits that melted and just sugary "unmelted" bits.

The end result was still a tasty and moist cake. But with amendments next time, it'll be better. If you want the recipe, just leave a comment.

For the pie, well, oh my oh my here's what I did wrong! Rule number one - don't forget to put a tray UNDERNEATH that pie. When 30 minutes went by, I was in the other room when Paul was opening doors and windows and turning on the fan above the range. I ran to see smoke billowing from the oven and opened it to breath in more (cough cough) lovely fumes from the strawberry juices which were burning profusely on the bottom of the oven. And so Paul tells me the pie is ruined. Nope it isn't. I rescue the pie because I WAS going to enjoy it. I grabbed a metal spatula to begin to scrape burnt strawberry sugar from the bottom of the oven [Paul did put a tray under the pie before I arrived to rescue the pie] which was collecting at least 1/3 cup full of juices to be tossed out - what a waste) and the fire alarm went off.
Which leads to rule number two - have your phone ON when the ADT alarm company calls so you actually hear the phone and cancel the fire truck. We managed to hear the fire truck before it was called off about 100 yards from our house. Phew!
Rule number three: let the dog out, take the baby to a bedroom and close the door, and lead your 3 year old to the back porch. Elle was crying when the beeping went off. Poor thing wasn't quite fully recovered from the flu so her whine-radar was on high.

But despite the trials and tribulations, the pie was WONDERFUL. We all enjoyed a piece of it this eve.

Friday, April 22, 2011

How do mom's do it?

Okay, so what is the burning question on your mind? Is it, what is your boss gonna promise next? Well, maybe. Is it trying to figure out the secret ingredient on the Throw Down with Bobby Flay's Carribean spiced chicken wing episode? Well, that, too. But for me, it's how do working mom's do it? HOW oh HOW do they keep the house clean AND cook AND take care of the children's separate and distinct and competing needs AND manage to have their act together at work? So, I had this GREAT idea. I was thinking how great it would be to create a blog about busy moms and maybe focus on biz-e-moms. Naturally it's been done. WHATEVER. Although the focus is different. So it's still looming...
But seriously, if you are reading this and have an answer (or several answers) please please please let me know. I'm frumpy and exhausted and currently managing a household with two sick children and a sick husband...and it's EASTER WEEKEND. So mom and I are going to eat croissant (and brightly colored foil wrapped CHOCOLATE eggs) whilst the rest of the family eats matza [and drools]. Note to all, Paul is the cook in our household, so when he's sick, we all suffer. Sigh.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Eating for the very first time

Food. It's one syllable that is always on my mind. Like that first time, if I could remember, when I had a spoon shoved into my mouth at the age of 6 months. I watch it on my daughter's face. She is happy and almost pants with excitement at the thought of those seaweed green colored mushy (one syllable) peas - in a jar. Imagine how low our proverbial bar begins, from breast milk to formula to mush.
But I am a foodie and so it DOES matter whether it's good or bad mush. And now, my new mission, on the subject of one syllable words relating to food, is to find all one-syllable restaurants [starting in Seattle], and trying one restaurant a month in 2011. I'd say one per week, but with two children, it's highly unlikely we'll get out and enjoy eating when the restaurateur is giving us dirty looks for the loud company. So we'll need to proceed with caution, and find babysitters! This was, just to set the record straight, my New Year's resolution back in 2007. Or maybe it was 2008. But since our first child was born before the new year of 2008, we managed to eat at one restaurant that fateful year - Crush. So we'll begin anew, as of April, 2011.