Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Face it girls, I'm older and I have more insurance.

So I'm definitely not a food blogger, mostly because I don't have enough patience to take beautiful pictures of the results, much less prep steps.  If I was trying to do that I would forget half the ingredients.  Ask my mom about the time I accidentally made chocolate chip biscuits for a school party instead of cookies (I somehow mixed up the baking soda {or powder, who knows} and the sugar measurement).  But I do enjoy cooking, trying new things and making new favorites, so when I find something really delish I'll try to share it.

Two sides we have really enjoyed this summer are zucchini boats and fried green tomatoes (hence the title quote from namesake movie.)  The zucchini boats I found off the website Proud Italian Cook.  I'm not going to take her picture 'cause I don't know all the picture posting etiquette yet and I don't have pics of the ones I've made, but trust me, these are yummy.
Zucchini Boats:
  • Cut your zucchinis or squashes in half lengthwise.
  • Scoop out the middle seed part with a melon baller (I think you are supposed to chop up the middles and put them back in, but I steam the little squash balls for my Squish to eat.  She can't get enough of them) or a spoon would work too.
  • Brush with mixture of crushed garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. (Uh, I supposed you want measurements, but I don't have them, just go with it).
  • Arrange halved grape tomatoes in the groove, sprinkle with breadcrumbs (I always use panko), place in baking dish and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or so.  
  • Remove and place a delicious cheese (the recipe recommends fontina or mozz) in between the tomatoes.
  • Put back in the oven and broil 'til bubbly.  
  • The recipe says to drizzle with more olive oil and parm when you take it out, but I never do.
  • My delicious alterations - I put diced mushrooms in the zucchini bed before I put the tomatoes in or some caramelized onions.  So good!
Last night I made the best fried green tomatoes I have ever eaten.   And I have even been to southern-style restaurants in Charleston, SC before.  I have three super-secret Sara tricks, most of which I did not come up with, but I will take credit for them.  Wait, I even have crappy cell phone pics of these!
Recipe basics taken from Allrecipes before I added my Saratrix.  This is good for four good-sized tomatoes.
  • Slice green tomatoes 1/2 inch thick, discard the ends.
  • Lay tomato slices on plate and sprinkle lightly with salt to dry them out a bit.
  • Set up coating stations. Station 1) Recipe calls for plate of flour (1 cup) but here is my first Saratrix.  I use dry pancake mix* instead of flour.  Coats so well and fries up crispy.  Station 2) 2 eggs and 1/2c of milk whisked together.  Station 3) Recipe calls for 1/2 cup of cornmeal and 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs but Saratrix #2 is to use 1 cup of panko** instead (I'm going to have to trademark Saratrix aren't I?) (I put panko in everything, love it!), plus 2 teaspoons of coarse sea salt and 1/4 tsp of black pepper.
  • Coat tomato slices in pancake mix, then dip in egg/milk mixture, then dredge through panko.  Bonus Saratrix - Do all of the slices in pancake mix first, then one by one through egg then panko.  That way your fingers don't get all munked up.  Well, not as much.
  • Pour 1/2 inch or so vegetable oil in pan (canola is probably ok.  Ahh, who am I kidding, I don't know anything about oils.  Use whatever you want).  Heat over medium heat.  Place tomatoes in pan in batches depending on size of pan.  Don't crowd them, they shouldn't touch!  When tomatoes are brown flip to other side (I use tongs to flip).  Last night it was about four minutes per side.  When both sides are brown drain on paper towel.
  • Saratrix #3, serve with a dollop of orange marmalade***.  So stinkin' good!
Ok, if you make any of these let me know what you did.  All of my cooking is definitely a work in progress, so tips are appreciated!

*Thanks to husband's co-worker for this tip!
** Thanks to South Carolinian transplant friend for panko tip!
***Came up with this one on my own!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Thirty Second Book Reviews

I think I've mentioned I don't usually take time to synthesize plots and characters after I've read a book.  I made it through grad school thanks, this is what I do for enjoyment.  But as a card carrying goodreads member I at least try to record an initial good/bad reaction so I can remember reading the book.  I also get asked for recommendations all the time, so having an idea about the book helps.  That being said, here is my thirty second book reviews for the past two months or so worth of books.  Probable spoiler alert.  Definite SPOILERS.

another piece of my heart - Jane Green - Ok, so I read Jemima J and the lot when I was in my '20s and enjoyed them.  This might be my counseling background, but I rarely enjoy "life journey" books anymore.  All I keep thinking is, for fart's sake, go to a freakin' therapist!  Your life would be much easier.  Also, I can't imagine that they wouldn't push to find out who the father was.  Just sayin'.  My dad wouldn't rest until he had that boy's balls mounted on his mantle.  (We didn't have a mantle.)

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake - Anna Quindlan - adored this book!  But can't really remember why.  I checked it out of the library of course, but I want to buy a hard copy to highlight and take notes on and then make my mom do the same, so we can talk about her insights and ruminations on having and raising a family and getting older.  And I never think that about books.  Usually I'm one and done except for a few favorites.

And, not to bore you, but the rest of my reading time was taken up by the first four books of the Song of Fire and Ice series (Game of Thrones) by George R.R. Martin.  I'm not a newbie to the fantasy genre.  I read The Hobbit in the eighth grade (although I don't think I've read the rest of LotR), and I've made it through nine or so books in Jordan's Wheel of Time series.  Usually these are books I read so I can have conversations about them with my husband.  Plus I have watched the first two seasons on HBO (which I love) before starting any of the books (which I almost never do, but was dragged in) Here ya go -

Game of Thrones - Thoroughly enjoyed!  A new take (for me) on the seasons, a little bit of magic.  Interesting characters who are both heroes and villains.  What the what, he is killing main characters?  Crazypants!
A Clash of Kings - loved Tyrion as the hero and Joffrey as an a**hole.  Not as much fun as the first one.  Scared of the smoke vagina monster.
A Storm of Swords - Uhh, this is where I run out of patience in the fantasy genre every.single.time.  The wandering.  For goodness sake people, everyone head to the same city.  The endless wandering drives me batty.  Sad about Robb.
A Feast for Crows - wha??  I understand why half the characters are missing, but I didn't like it.  Thank god I started reading after the next book came out or I would be irate.

Getting to work on the fifth Game of Thrones and the third book in the Spellman series.  A friend turned me onto those and they are fun.  Also a new Jasper Fforde is coming out, so I'm on the (eagerly) waiting list for that at the library.  If you haven't heard of Jasper Fforde, go find him and read something.  Particularly Shades of Grey (NOT the same as Fifty Shade of Grey!).

What are you reading?  What should I add to my list?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Relief Pitcher

A good friend came over this afternoon.  When she walked in, the girls and I both breathed a sigh of relief.  It was almost as if we were all thinking, thank god an adult is here.  Even though the friend had worked a full day and dealt with a commute, she stayed with the girls for an hour while I went to Target to pick up a prescription and wander around and look at things.  It was much needed.  Somehow I managed to FUBAR the nap schedule royally (I know, you organized people have no idea how this happens, but it does to me.  Regularly.) and everyone was a bit of a grump.  Squish is crawling everywhere and has come thisclose to tumbling down some stairs a dozen times.  Bug is majorly testing boundaries.  She "counts" me to time-out regularly (uh, 34 minutes where I can sit by myself and not talk to anyone?  Yes, please!) and for some reason has started hitting my face.  She tackles her sister who is just starting to pull up and wrap her big brain around walking and also whacks her on the head with anything and everything.  Not acceptable.  I started out patient and calm as you please, but by the end of the day I was doing my best not to hit back, use a major yelly voice or just hide in the bathroom.  So an hour of mindless consumerism was much appreciated.  Cheers to good friends and kids who are a thousand times cuter after a peaceful wander through the $1 Spot.

How long does the boundary pushing last?  Will Squish ever manage to balance those big brains over her tiny feet?  What is your fantasy Target shopping list?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Shhh, I'll let you in on my lazy parenting secret

So I think I'm a fairly good parent.  I research upcoming milestones and developmental stages, make plans with my husband to be consistent, buy any gadgets needed.  I try my best to make what I feel are positive decisions for them (these are just OUR decisions, no negativity towards other parenting decisions) which for us involved breastfeeding, no HFCS, attempting on water or milk to drink, making my own baby food, buying what I can organic, etc.  I couldn't get my husband on board with cloth diapering and my babies are late-spring babies and I found babywearing to be just too hot.  But other than that we are fairly crunchy.

**taking off imaginary mom medal**

I let my kids watch TV.  Probably too much TV.  I adore my children and I'm glad that we are able to make it so I can stay home with them, but I don't think stay-at-home parenting is my calling.  So when it gets to be too much for me (coughcougheveryotherhourorso) I turn on the screen.  No one has ever commented here so I'm not superworried about this turning into a minefield of TVBAD comments, but I know, I've read the research and been lectured by our pedi.  Anyway, enough with all of this heated, but boring talk.  Here it is, my little secret...

I put on the show they want to watch.  But I turn the TV volume down really low.  Almost barely audible.  I find this a win-win-win.  I don't have to be blasted by annoying children's show music.  And the kids either have to 1) settle down and watch the show quietly or they can't hear it or 2) they get bored and wander away and use their own little imaginations to play (yes, I know even TV on in the background is bad.  Let it go people).  If they even identify that the sound is too low, I shrug and point at the remote indicating this thing is broken, take what you can get (no lectures on taking responsibility for my decisions either, gah, ya'll are strict!).  If they come and interrupt my bon bon eating diligent cleaning, I tell them their show is on, they can either watch it, or it gets turned off for the day.  Or they can help me clean. 

Other than letting their brains be eaten by the hynotic trash, it seems to be a win all around.  Except maybe I should take Jersey Shore off the watching list.  Just kidding.

Do you have any parenting downfalls?  Do your kids watch TV?  Anyone else think its weird there is some kind of Fresh Beat Band/Yo Gabba Gabba war going on? 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

From Inside My Brain - Childhood Edition

These are thoughts I remember having at any certain point in time from thirty years ago until about college.  These aren't memories from stories; I can actually remember them going through my brain.

About age 2.5 - "Start fussing between when the first time Grandma and Papaw say they are leaving and when they put their coats on and they will take me with them to spend the night."

About age 3 - *After watching a McGruff safety commercial while mom was getting ready for work*  "Mommy's purse is just sitting there on the table.  I should lock it in the bathroom so no one steals from her."  *I locked her keys and wallet into a bathroom with a curling iron that was on.  Saying she was pissed off would be stating it mildly.*

About age 4 - "Mommy loves to dust.  I bet if I sprinkle baby powder down this entire flight of stairs she will so excited!"

It's a wonder I made it through childhood.

About age 10 - "I wonder how to draw those cool squiggles from the flags in the movies dad is always watching" (swastikas - yikes!  No wonder he reacted so strongly when I asked).

About age 13 - "Watermelon bubble gum is the best tasting thing on earth.  I don't understand why anyone would ever chew boring mint-flavored regular gum." 

About age 16 - "Forrest Gump looks like a terrible movie.  Poor Tom Hanks, he is such a nice guy, but I bet this movie ruins his acting career."

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


All my stuff.  Diaper box is new.
So I think I mentioned that I went to my hometown a bit ago while my husband was at a conference.  Now that we have a house with adequate storage (hahahaha *deep breath* hahahahaha) an attic we can shove stuff in, I thought it was well past time I get the remainder of my crap out of my parents house.  I brought back one huge tub, three smaller tubs, a few shoe boxes, a trash bag full of decorative bulletin boards still tacked with a million pictures, tickets, etc, a jean backpack (stylin') and a strange satchel, all full of my shit circa 1978-1996.  *Attempting to insert picture for first time* My husband thought by dropping it all in the kitchen it would encourage me to go through it faster before we gently and lovingly place it in the attic.  He was wrong.  It's been a week and two days and its still there, our kitchen is in utter chaos, but I am going through it bit by bit.  I thought a long afternoon would do it, but that certainly hasn't given me enough time to reminisce, cringe, and laughsnort my way through everything.

I remember being a Goody Two Shoes in school, but as I was sorting through paperwork I found that I was clearly mistaken. 
detention slip

speeding ticket

parking ticket
I am particularly indignant about the detention.  I DID NOT misbehave.  I made it through elementary school without ever getting my name on the board, much less checks beside it.  I was in French class and the girl sitting next to me asked me something about an assignment and I was explaining it to her.  I thought I was being a helpful classmate!  The speeding ticket came right after my friend got a new car and we took it for a spin.  I was going 70 in a 55.  O_O  We tried to hide in a neighbor's drive way.  It didn't work.  The parking ticket was the first of many "gifts" I received from the office of parking services at my university.  I think its funny that two of these happened on the preanniversary (can I just make words up?  Yes, apparently I can) of my wedding.

Alright, got to get back to sorting.  I know you can't wait to check out my epic NKOTB collection so have to go get to it and snap some pics of that!

Do you still have stuff at your parents' house?  Were you a high school delinquent? 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

YOLO peaches

I've decided I'm going use the word peaches in place of bitches.  I don't have the cleanest mouth, but naughty words are much easier to say real quick then type and look at.  My mother might read this one day.  So go read the title again with that in mind and then I'll try to get to the topic.  Go ahead, I'll wait...

I'm about to go "turn down your crappy music and get off my lawn while you are at it" old person on you.  I have a handful of teenagers (mostly younger relatives) that are on my Facebook as well as a dozen or so young adults.  Now I'm not hip to all of the current lingo these days, but I finally got YOLO and sorry I'm not sorry under my belt (uhh, Skrillex is not some sort of tool? or a newly found type of dinosaur?).  I'm guessing they come from some music that I am too old to be listening to.  And youngins, I get it, I understand, I too lamented the out-dated, misunderstanding mindset of the older generation when I was your age, but apparently they were right because these are wrong and annoying.  YOLO in and of itself is a good concept.  Generations before you have celebrated it as "Carpe Diem," but fine, you are welcome to use different words.  But you are using it to define stupidity.  If you only have a certain amount of time, what you do with that time is more important, not less.  So using limited time as an excuse to do stupid things is, well, a waste of your time.  Because, after all, you only live once.  Not to mention most of the things you are doing while YOLO-ing it out on Facebook may even cut that time shorter.  Go ahead and YOLO some sky diving or other extreme sport if you need an adrenaline rush, but riding on the outside of a moving car, doing an extreme amount of drugs or picking fights with people bigger than you is a sad embodiment of a good concept.  After all, YOLO on your tombstone ain't gonna help much.

As for "sorry I'm not sorry," the millennials doth protest too much, methinks.  S,Ins (ha!  I needed an acronym.  And it spells sins.  How awesome is that?!) practically oozes "I want you to know how much I care about not caring about you, trifling peach."  Why don't you use some of that pretending-not-to-care energy and go YOLO backpacking through another country or running for office or picking up litter or something.  If you care enough to point out how much you don't care you still care too much.  

Right.  Anyone feeling old?  Got any "get off my lawn" stories?  Anyone like YOLO?  Heard anyone over the age of 24 use it sincerely?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Rhetorical Questions - Road Trip Edition

The girls and I went to stay in my hometown for a week while my husband was at a conference.  I'm sure I will have lots of funnies to share with you from that experience, but for now, I leave you with some rhetorical questions about road trips.

1.  Why haven't we built a separate interstate system for big trucks by now?  Go ahead, raise my taxes!
2.  Who in their right mind would give a child a kazoo to play with in a busy restaurant?
3.  Who in their right mind would ask to hold a stranger's baby in the bathroom?
4.  What are the odds that the only ten minutes of the trip that the children are asleep at the same time is when my pee meter is on 9.5 and we have one gallon of gas left?
5.   Dear XM/Sirius 90's on 9 - I lived through 1997 and remember some rockin' hits.  Blackstreet, Biggie, Monica, Jewel, Third Eye Blind, Usher.  So let's lay off the Candle in the Wind, Duncan Sheik, Hanson, Spice Girls, Freaknasty and for god's sake, if I never hear Tubthumping again it will be too soon, ok? 
6.  If you have a kids' menu, you should have a changing station in the bathroom.  Or at least a flat surface that isn't the floor.  Oh wait, those last two weren't questions?  Bite me.

On a slightly related note, Bug's favorite thing to eat at the Cracker Barrel is...the crackers.  Ironic?  Doncha think?