Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Why I make my bed

Because you never know when the tax assessor is going to stop by and want to do a room-by-room evaluation of the structural integrity of your house.

It's also just reasoning for keeping the laundry hampers from overflowing, and ensuring that whatever your kid dug out from the bathroom cupboards, was, indeed, returned to the bathroom cupboards.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Thanks All Around

It's St. Valentine's Day, and hijacking my wife's blog, here is a little note of encouragement.

To all of you faithful women who write your own blog, and graciously comment here on Leah's blog as well: Thank you. You have been a tremendous source of comfort and consolation in our family. You have made us laugh and provoked thoughts. Thank you for helping point us towards God's Word and encouraging us to live out our lives in the Gospel.

To our families: Thank you for all of your prayers, love, and support. It has meant so very much to us. We truly would not be here without our families (not in small part because you helped to get our stuff here!).

To my wife: Thank you for being my lovely bride and my beautiful wife. You have supported me through hard times and helped make me into a better husband, a better man. Your love and service is more than I would have ever hoped to receive. You are wonderful gift from God. Thank you for our son. Thank you for the pain that you endured to bring new life into our home. Thank you for all that you put up with on a daily basis. My family is a constant and daily source of joy for me. Thank you.

As rich as my love for...Nevermind, I'll stop before you get sick.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Perhaps I'll get the hang of this yet!

Ever since my son was born, I've second-guessed everything I've done.  Have I encouraged healthy sleep habits? Did I introduce solids too early?  Should I have weaned him months ago? I suppose it's a direct result of all the magazines and internet sites I used to browse, and all the uber-opinionated babyologists who claim that if I didn't follow their child-rearing instructions exactly, my child would end up in juvie before he turned 10.

I've stopped turning to Google with every baby question I have, and instead rely on my own intuition, the advice of seasoned mothers I personally know, and (most importantly) what my husband and I know about our child.  I still have my misgivings, and I doubt they'll ever fully go away.

So it was quite a treat when I found my son sitting on the floor, holding a book, pointing at the pictures, and saying the appropriate words.  For the first time in motherhood, I can honestly say, "There! I did something right."

Thursday, February 3, 2011

As promised, though a day late

First off, I have to say it's well worth it to invest in a good spice cabinet.  And I do mean invest.  They're expensive, but have say, a little curry, on hand will be just the thing to kick-up your chicken salad.  Or cumin for your meatloaf (go ahead and throw in some cheddar cheese, black beans, and a dash of salt while you're at it.*) A few new spices can make your bland grand.

With that in mind, here are couple recipes so you can try out those new spices I'm sure you'll dash off to buy.

Beer-braised pork and black bean soup.  Don't you dare open a can of Pace for this. If you don't want to buy the fresh stuff, make your own.

Serve with cornbread.

And, a new one I intend to try this weekend:
Chicken with Curry Sour Cream Sauce.

Heat some oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven.  Brown  4 breast halves (or 2 1/2-3lbs cut up boiler-fryer chicken).  Drain fat.  Sprinkle chicken with salt, add some chopped onion and a couple tablespoons of water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until juices run clear.  Remove chicken, keep warm.  Add 1/4c. water to the skillet,  2 tsp. curry, pinch of ginger and a pinch of cumin.  Bring to a boil.  Be sure to scrape up all those little brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Reduce heat, stir in 1c.sour cream until it's hot.  Pour sauce over chicken and rice.  Serve with chutney.

You can also put dry-roasted peanuts, shredded coconut, mandarin orange segments, and chopped green onions out to sprinkle on top of the chicken.

Vegetable options: Well here I'm no good. I'm not knowledgeable enough with Indian cuisine to know what would be good.  You decide.

As with the last one, if you have a great idea for a non-American salt-and-pepper-spiced meal, let me know.

*I ought to give credit to my Sister-in-Law for this idea.  I threw in the beans myself, but the cumin and cheese was all her.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Great Recipe Exchange (or What would you do with a freezer like this?)

I'm in need of new recipes.  I've been poring over my forgotten and little-used cookbooks hoping that something will jump out and say "I won't taste like anything you've been making for the last four years!"  I've gleaned from them what I can, and I'm still desperate for something different. So I propose an exchange.  I'll give you a couple of my best recipes (I promise not to mess with the proportions or leave key ingredients out), if you'll do the same for me.  I'll try just about anything.  Teriyaki chicken, Indonesian Peanut Chicken, and Tandoori chicken show up on my menus as often as enchiladas and broccoli-cheddar soup.


1. Your recipe must be frugal.  As much as I would love to cook up a standing crown roast or leg of lamb, I refuse to buy one.  Same goes for most steaks.  I can't justify spending $7.00 on a pound of meat. Meatless meals are fair-game.

2.  Tell me what else you serve with it.  I don't have to have  the recipes for all those- I just need some ideas.

3. It cannot contain tuna.  (As much as I like it, my husband won't eat it. Sigh.)

Old Standby 1: Cheddar Chicken

Shred 6oz of cheddar cheese (or cheese of you choice) into a medium bowl.  Add 16-20 crushed buttery cracker (like Ritz).  Add a teaspoon or two of your favorite herb (I've done dill, thyme, rosemary), and 1 tsp. pepper. Mix well.  Melt 4 Tbsp. of butter in a medium bowl.  Dip 6 4 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the butter, then into the cheese mixture. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet (don't skip the foil unless you like scratching baked-on crusties off your dishes).  Bake at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

I serve it with rice and green beans.  Broccoli would be great, too.

Old Standby 2: Pork Chop Dinner

Disclaimer: I know condensed cream soup isn't the healthiest thing out there, but this is super easy to make, and it's a one-pot meal, so it finds it's way to the table fairly often.  I figure if I buy the low-sodium stuff, I'll be okay.  It's not like we eat fast food every day.

In a large skillet (and make it large, you'll be cramming in quite a few veggies) brown 4 pork chops  (bone-in or boneless, it won't matter) in a bit of oil and some chopped onion.  Top with  4-5 small cubed potatoes (your choice of varieties), few handfuls of sliced carrots (I've used fresh, I've used frozen), and some mushrooms if you'd like (I'm partial to fresh, though you can use canned.)  Dump a can of condensed cream soup on top (chicken or mushroom or celery- low-sodium will taste fine), and add 2 cups of milk.  Bring it to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and forget about it for 25-30 minutes, or longer if you'd like.  Just make sure the veggies are tender before you serve it.

Serve with a salad.

Tune in tomorrow for my Ethnic-inspired recipes.