Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Birthday Party

Sara & MK
Originally uploaded by Alanmine

Saturday was Sara's 5th Birthday party, and as strange as it sounds, the weather cooperated and it rained for most of the afternoon. You see, being an election year, my street is scheduled to be repaved. The original plan was for the construction to take place right through the weekend of the party, which means no parking for anyone on the street. Luckily, it did rain (not as much as on Jan 4th though, the weatherman on TV said) and construction was delayed and party guests were free to take park wherever they want.

Of course, that meant 30 some odd people were crammed into my smallish house with no place to hide. It was festive and cozy, but I think it went pretty well. Thank you all who came and ate and partied. We readily admit that we are terrible at thank you cards so we didn't keep very good track of the many, many presents Sara receive. Just know that they were all very appreciated (even the messy and loud ones).

Of note:

- Who knew a plastic afro would be such a hit? I think I will start a Photo Set on Flickr of people in the 'fro. Stay tune, but here are some quick samples....



- Occasions like this allow me to play with my sister's fancy photography equipment. It's fun and I like how it makes me look like I am good at photography (which I most certainly am not). At the same time, it makes me want one SOOOOO bad. If anyone knows where I can get a cheap Nikon D70/40/60, please let me know. I don't know how much longer I can hold out and there really are more responsible things I can do with my tax refund.

- The first picture at top is currently my favorite picture anywhere. I told you that camera makes me look good....the beautiful subjects doesn't hurt either.

- I still can't believe we never took advantage of the Valentine's Clearance sales to decorate Sara's party before. A Love party every year! wait...that doesn't sound right....especially when she becomes a teenager....ack!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I Eat Your Brussels Sprouts! I Eat It Up!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Oh, a quick word about the brussels sprouts. I love roasted vegetables. It is my preferred way of cooking almost any vegetables. The dry heat intensifies the flavor rather boiling it away in a big pot of water. It started with asparagus, and then broccoli, and now I even eat brussels sprouts!

(Ok, a clarification here. I don't actually remember ever having brussels sprouts before. I may have as a young kid, but I don't recall, so I was going along with their poor reputation along with everyone else. Britt claims to love it and always ask me to make it for her, so I figured if I was going to start, I would at least apply the best method possible)

Thanks to my new Food hero, Mark Bittman of the NYT for the inspiration. I liked it with a little balsamic vinegar, Brittany liked it the way it was. It didn't quite pass the Hannah test, but that might be shooting a little high....

The Food Section

So apparently I've been kicked out of sharing my food exploits from my "food band" because everyone wants to have their own solo projects. I am certainly not the Paul McCartney of the group, (or even the Justin Timberlake...maybe I can be the Joey Fatone of the group. "Fat One" I love that....) but I have been a little more inspired to try some new things lately, courtesy of all the food blogs that I am suddenly subscribed to (thank you Google Reader, you have pretty much monopolized the last remnants of my free time), so I need to share things somewhere. (wow, I just looked back and realized that last sentence was like 89 words. my old English teachers all probably hate my right now) So the 'mine has a food section as well...

There is a general theme to the cooking renaissance . First, it must be relatively cheap. No running out to the store and buying exotic things like saffron , Italian ham, or fancy French goat cheese (or red meat, with the way food prices are going....har har). All of those things are delicious, but just too costly to buy, for possible one time use only. The family is in the midst of trying to be better about finances, so along with living without cable for a while (and Tivo! Nooooo!), we are sacrificing as much eating out as possible. So I am cooking to save money, not for extravagance.

Secondly, it must be relatively fast. The second thing I usually hear when I get home from work is how my kids are starving and about to pass out (they should get honorary Oscars. just take one from the Coen brothers. Do they really need two?). I have probably an hour or so before they walk into the kitchen with forks and look like they are ready to pick out my meaty parts (too many of those parts, if you ask me) for dinner. So I have to be creative sometimes. If I am extra good I can make some preparation the night before, but honestly, when have you known me to be so prepared and un-lazy? (Yes my wife is home and can totally handle dinner, or at least help. But cooking has sneaked its way up to being a genuine hobby with me and I like to try new things, along with the challenge of making things my picky kids will eat. You will just have to live with my wife's baking after you get through my dinners...)

So with that in mind, I decided to go with a classic and made Tilapia with broccoli in parchment paper packets. Not only is it easy, but a cinch to clean up, and the kids truly feel extra special getting their own little packet to open up. It was a last minute decision so I just threw a bunch of stuff together. There is some inspiration from here, but what I ended up with bares little resemblance.

First I cut the broccoli into small florets and place them in a bowl. I tossed with olive oil, soy sauce, and a little salt and pepper. I also wanted lemon juice and realized that I was all out, so I went out to my yard and picked two blood oranges off my tree. We have some decent size fruit this year for the first time, but they are WAY sour, so I thought that would be perfect as a lemon substitute. Besides, the color is cool....

Tilapia with Blood Orange

I place some broccoli on each of the parchment paper sheets, and then placed the tilapia in the bowl and rolled it around in the remaining sauce. I placed it on top of the broccoli, and crimped closed the packets, making sure that there is enough room for the steam that will be doing the cooking.

Tilapia Packets

The packets were placed in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Let the packets rest for about 10 minutes before opening, being careful of the hot steam escaping. Made some cous cous while the fish is cooking as a side. Roasted some brussel sprouts while the fish was cooling, and a meal was completed....

Tilapia Packet with Brussels Sprouts and Cous Cous

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Snow Day

Family Snow Day

As promised, I took a day off during the kid's ski week vacation and took them to the snow. We realized that it was Sara's first time in the snow and that is really a shame. We tagged along with a friend's family and ended up at a snow park that is barely two hours away. Why didn't we do this sooner? The kids had a ball, getting braver as the afternoon went on and going higher. Unfortunately, our seldom visits to the white flaky stuff also meant that we don't really have the cloths for it. The rain boots you see on the kids are cute, but they are far too loose and snow got into them easily. Sara went through 4 pairs of socks and is now the proud owner of $8 wool socks, courtesy of the snow park store. If it were up to me, she will be wearing those on all future trips to the snow....until she's 16.

Tany and I in the Snow

As a bonus, I also learned something that probably everyone who lives in the snow already knows: Never park your car next to a slanted roof full of snow. I had never seen snow smash a windshield before, and if I wasn't feeling so bad for the guy, I would have taken a picture to show you. Alas, you will have to just watch my kid in action:

Monday, February 04, 2008

Get it while it's hot!

Overexposed events like the Super Bowl makes it hard for me to be motivated enough to say too much about it (and from the scarcity of post here, one would think not many things motivate me to say anything here). I didn't have too much rooting interest in the game, so I was glad it was entertaining. For once, I think the game was better than the commercials...

...I did come across this for sale at Amazon though, which I thought was pretty funny. I wonder if they also sell those Dewey Defeat Truman posters too....