Sunday, June 22, 2008

My First Souffle

For my last birthday, Britt gave me a strong hint when she got me a souffle dish. Being the strong willed type (and lazy, let's not forget to give credit to...ah whatever), I pretty much left the bowl unused for about a year. Then one day, while perusing some of my favorite blogs in my Google Reader (the greatest time suck mankind has ever known), I run across the Amateur Gourmet's attempt at a simple Ina Garten souffle recipe. What really sealed the deal for me, besides the basic recipe, are the step by step pictures that Adam took along the way. It's one of the easiest recipes that I think I ever followed.

Of course, that means that reprinting the recipes or too many pictures would be highly redundant. So here a just a few of how mine turned out, and I highly encourage you give this a shot. As mentioned in his post, there are kind of a lot of bowls and such involved, so clean up is a bummer, but I found that it was a great way to distract myself while I tried not peeking into that oven.

The Ingredients

As promised, a simple recipe with very few ingredients. I had to substitute the cheese choice as all I had on hand was some lovely Swiss Emmenthal. I thought it worked out pretty well.

Ready for the Oven

This was what it looked like before it went into the oven. This is also one of the few times that I get to play with the stand up mixer. Britt is the baker, so she is usually the one mixing things with it. It was great to just put the whisk to the egg whites and walk away to other things.

Kind of a Rise

This was the final product when I took it out of the oven. I was hoping for more rise, but I think when I let Sara help fold the egg whites in the mixture, she was a little heavy handed and mixed everything in. It's OK though, I don't blame her or anything. It was a lot of fun letting both girls help throughout the process. Besides, the pretty rise only lasts a short time before the souffle cools.

Hannah Approved

See? No hard feelings...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Graduation Day

Preschool grad!

June is also the time of graduations, and it's no different in our household as Sara celebrated her promotion into kindergarten. It was challenging journey (she did have to repeat the grade), but she was able to buckle down on her studies and passed all of her finals. That finger painting exam had us a little worry for a minute there, but her excellent color composition and organization of her stick fingers really pulled her through.

Of course, all of that is ridiculous. As proud of Sara as I am for her accomplishment of progressing through school, it seems to me we put a little too much pomp and circumstances into this. The parents agreed to buy cap and gowns for their preschoolers, ones that will never be worn again, all for a ceremony that lasted all of 10 minutes. I remember when Hannah finished preschool they made paper caps and I thought they were the cutest thing ever. Why couldn't we do that now? It's preschool? Is there someone out there living on the streets because they were a preschool drop out and can't make art with dry macaroni? (that guy is probably running Microsoft of something)

Ramble all I want, the graduation took place with cap and gown, the kids look cute, and Sara is on her way to kindergarten in th fall. I can't wait to see her in another cap and gown next year for her promotion to first grade. And they say we aren't encouraging our kids enough....

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Happy Birthday to.....Me.

If you are wondering where the barrage of posts are suddenly coming from, you should know that we are in the midst what is known in our household as "Alan's month." There are just more events involving me than those other eleven months, so it's a busy time. I already took you through my anniversary, and there is also my birthday, follow by Father's Day. There was also a time when I would graduate from stuff this month too (ah those were the days) so really, you are getting a break from me compared to years past!

For my birthday, I wasn't looking to do a whole lot. Turning 31 is a lot like celebrating 9 years of marriage. People aren't exactly focused on the present year as talking about an adjacent year. So I decided to just volunteer it as a good excuse to have a little BBQ at my house, which people seem to like to attend. If you are my friend, then surely you like to eat, which is really what we do at these things. My parents stuff us with meat, we try to balance it out with some sides, and we sit around all day eating. Here is me balancing out all the meat by providing a refreshing watermelon:

Big watermelon

Well, that and me having way too much fun with a cleaver.

Birthday cake for me!

I did have a birthday cake too. I eventually shared.

Best of all, I found out I have a lot of very nice and generous friends. It seems that many of them got together and bought me what I always wanted: a digital SLR. The shipping didn't make it to the BBQ, but I was still pretty happy when I found out, as seen here:

Amusing birthday present

The stupid grin is of a little boy that got everything he wanted for his birthday.

In case you are interested, or was an investor in this venture and want to know where your money went, the camera arrived Monday morning in time for my actual birthday. Here's another picture of my stupid smile upon seeing the package had arrived:

The Birthday Present Arrives

And the premiere of the very first picture taken:

Kids brushing teeth

Hey, it's not artistic genius yet. I'm working on it...

Friday, June 06, 2008

Anniversary dinner

Ah yes, the dinner. Eating a a big part of this blog and I would be doing a disservice to you all if I don't at least mention the slightly fancy meal that I had for my anniversary. After last year's extravagantly enjoyable dinner at Gary Danko and before next year's...uh... something special for a nice round 10 years, we weren't really looking for anything extra fancy. As luck would have it, the semi-annual (that's twice a year, right? I always get bi-annual and semi-annual mixed up) Dine About Town coincides with our anniversary so I looked for an interesting place to try. By pretty much random chance I went with One Market, who has a recent reputation around the city and I am a fan of it's locale...well, on One Market, across from the Ferry Building, where I always try to take a stroll if I am in the area. My sister's favorite casual meal, Foreign Cinema, will have to wait until next time....

Overall, I would say that One Market is a good reliable place for good food. It didn't blow me away with any of their offerings, but it was all well prepared, well portioned, and overall satisfying. The ambiance can be a little on the loud side as there are a lot of business folk who work near by who drops by for drinks and a bite to eat. It may seem unromantic to you, but Britt and I like the bustling crowd as we can people watch a little bit. I don't want to say we like to make fun of other people... well yeah, we do that sometimes...but when you are married with kids, getting out around other adults is part of the fun. There is always alone time every night after the kids go to bed. You know, those couple of hours where you are half asleep while the TV is on sitting next to each other? What is more romantic than that?

Oh, but back to the food. At One Market, the Dine About Town special allows a choice of two starters, two entrees, and two desserts. It's a great deal for getting a full meal at a reasonable price. Britt went with the white poppy seed encrusted skate wing (following a hilarious discussion of whether Skate was fish or fowl. Thank God for my iPhone). I scanned the menu and decided that maybe if I forgo dessert, I can get something else for about the same price, along with a side (which for me, can count as dessert. I'm a savory man). So after much deliberation, I decided on Alaskan halibut "Sous Vide" (which I learned, is like poaching, but with the food in a vacuumed sealed bag) over bamboo rice, peanuts, shitake mushroom, shrimp-coconut nage (another poaching like method). As I said before, it was solid and satisfying, if not spectacular.

Anniversary Dinner

The sides you see behind the fish are what are known as "Big Fries", and big they are. Britt remarked that they look like French Toast sticks and indeed they do. I wanted to try them because I had heard that fries at One Market were fried in duck fat, and who wouldn't want to try that? I can tell you now that ...I can't tell if they are fried in duck fat. It was a delicious fry, don't get me wrong. How they get just the right doneness inside and out with just a thick cut is something to be admired. I couldn't even eat them all even though there were only seven fries (to the equivalent of what seemed like 3 potatoes). Any uniqueness of duck fat frying though, I can't really say...

Finally, good thing one of us had dessert planned. The kitchen would never be able to send their congratulations if Britt didn't order the Peach Brown Butter Tart with blueberry compote as follows:

Anniversary dessert from One Market

Aww what a nice touch. It was delicious too. I like good vanilla ice cream. And yes, we did try to eat the letters. The chocolate was hard to get off the plate, but it was delicious. After a brief, and intense discussion, we decided that licking the plate would just be a bad end to the meal.

So there you have it. Another year capped of (or is it kicked off? ah well, one of those) with a good meal, good atmosphere, and most of all, with my wife of 9 years.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Happy 9 Years!

OMG that is a long time ago...

Oh my god that picture is from a long time ago. Granted, technically, this was while we were dating so it's more than 9 years old, but this picture is way funnier than some stuffy wedding photo that I could have showed you. I always liked my wind blown coif that day... and if I remembered correctly, I hurled after the tilt-a-whirl that day too. How romantic....

So yes, 9 whole years. Certainly no less significant because the big 1-0 is looming. It's still a wonder to think that is has already been that long. I don't really have anything profound to say, other than the somewhat generic, "It goes by fast" or "I wouldn't have changed a day of it." In today's society, we may already be viewed as a couple who have "made it". Our marriage have probably lasted longer than about 30 celebrity marriages combined. At the same time, I very much look forward to what lies ahead for us in the next 9, 19, or even 90 years. I may have read it in a fortune cookie once, but I believe the best part of marriage is the journey. An adventure that you take with someone who can share in the joy and excitement of each day. So from that perspective, my trip is only beginning. Through 2 kids (and working on a third), and a few interesting places we've called home, I wouldn't want to go get more stamps in our passport of life with anyone else. So Happy Anniversary, honey! We are just getting started.

Oh, here is us today. Right before dinner which I guess I'll share next time...

Nine years!