September 16th, 2012
It’s September and generally that minds a transitional changing of the guard for dinner time options (at least in places with seasons. I understand it is 102 degrees in Encinitas right now–so this probably does not apply to my SoCal friends).
This summer consisted of a lot of random eating on the go. We grilled chicken shish kabobs, ate lots of salad, made tacos, had hot dog parties, and took advantage of the new Ann Arbor/Pittsfield Twshp Costco for some delicious pizza. Nothing too exciting but we were busy, guys.
Now that school has started and its the light is waning in the evening, I think its time to get back on board with meal planning. Hey–I did it for approximately three months back in January-February-March. Maybe I can jump start it again. This was all prompted by a recipe I saw on Smitten Kitchen for Baked Orzo with Eggplant and Mozzarella. I had never cooked with eggplant before, but it looked so easy. Plus it was vegetarian–and not that we are hardcore vegetarian–but its always nice to have a non-meat recipe in circulation. The first time I tried it was kind of a beast. I hate the first time making a recipe that has a sh*tload of ingredients and steps. I feel like most of my time is trying to cross check everything and re-reading the instructions over and over again. “What wait? You want me to do what? With a carrot?!”….okay this has taken a bad turn but you get the idea.
I was a little dubious when I pulled it out of the oven and sitting down to dinner with Lars. But then began the questioning.
L: So is this healthy?
M: Well…I don’t think its “unhealthy” but I wouldn’t classify it as “healthy”.
L: Was it easy to make?
M: Hard to tell–I can never tell how hard it is to make the first time around.
L: I like it. It has a nice combination of flavors.
M: **jaw drop**
I totally figured this was going to be a “B” recipe–of which I have many according to the Lars Jensen dinner-ranking-systems. But given the positive feedback (yes, folks, the above is positive feedback), I decided to give it another go and see if I could streamline the process a bit and learn from my mistakes previously. The second time around it was MUCH easier, but it did take more time than I normally like to cook. Its not a come home after dinner weeknight meal that you just whip up but its a nice weekend meal with two or three more meals to be had from the leftovers. I especially like the lemon zest in it.
Some more fall recipes I would like to entertain for this upcoming season are:
I’m sure there are more. There has to be. And there will be old favorites that are always in heavy rotation (Mock chicken tortilla soup, anyone?). Fall is a great time to cook.
July 27th, 2012
If we are to gauge our lives and parenting capabilities by how we have influenced our children to be contributing and conscientious members of society, we must also gauge our musical tastes but what our toddler’s favorite non-child songs are.
So, it is with great regret, that I admit that Bjorn’s favorite song is “Call Me Maybe”. We have watched the video on YouTube…and also the many parodies that the song has provided. A personal favorite is Share it Maybe by the Cookie Monster. In any case, a conversation between Lars and I happened wherein we realized this was a silent plea for help from Bjorn (he may not know it, yet, but it totally is!) and we are now determined to improve our music tastes in front of our impressionable little lamb. Current songs/albums on my rotation include:
- Scars on 45 (“Hearts on Fire” and “Give Me Something”, the two singles are fantastic melodic brit pop at its best).
- The new Keane Album, Strangeland. More brit pop amazingness…(I swear I’m not trying to turn Bjorn into Morrissey).
- Rediscovering some great old Jimmy Eat World albums. Bleed American Track 7 in particular (If you don’t, don’t); and the entire album of Futures. I haven’t been very invested in their recent efforts but these two albums. So good.
- Bon Iver is continuously on repeat. I can’t stop myself. I need my heart to break. Oh, Michicant!
- …speaking of Bon Iver, there is a great cover of Skinny Love by a British artist named Birdy who also covers some other really great songs, including 1901 by Phoenix and The District Sleeps Alone Tonight by the Postal Service.
….also, I am really really (really) excited about the new Killers album. It has been a long four years. I know it has been four years because I remember listening to their last album on our honeymoon in Hawaii, nearly four years ago. That is too long, Brandon Flowers! No more solo projects for you, please!
What are you listening to? Do you have any recommendations to improve our repertoire?
Love from the Mitten.
July 16th, 2012
When it hasn’t been hotter than hell in Ann Arbor, we’ve been doing little get togethers in our lovely backyard with family and friends. It has been a great way to enjoy good company, where out the kids from playing together, and cook for a large group. Thus far this summer we have entertained with burgers, pesto (using basil leaves from my very own basil plant, thank you very much!), tacos, spaghetti (not really backyard food but it worked), and these amazing chicken kabobs that I found on allrecipes.com. They were so good delicious and easy–it required a little planning because we marinaded them overnight–but it was worth it. Honey, soy sauce, garlic (that you don’t even have to dice!) and vegetable oil. Seriously, it does not get easier. Serve with rice and a watermelon salad.
When its too hot to even be outside (and this has happened a couple of times this summer) we look for light fare that we can whip up inside. Recalling my need for something citrusy, I decided to try Giada’s Lemon Spaghetti Recipe. This was good–because it had lemon–but bad because I could not figure out how to get the Parmesan not to clump up with I mixed the sauce in with the noodles. I think I must need to have to wait a while to blend the two because there were just big clumps of Parmesan in the pasta and I think it was supposed to be a more subtle tasting. Truly, cheese makes anything and everything better but not in clumps in my lemon pasta!
May 17th, 2012
Being green is big around our house—and not in the environmentally friendly kind of a way. Bjorn is obsessed. This is difficult for a family that bleeds Maize and Blue in such close proximity to Michigan State (because everything boils down to college rivalries). In any case, we’ve found ourselves in some pretty interesting situations that involve the color green. For instance, if you pour milk into a lovely blue cup, it is rejected outright. It is only worth Bjorn’s digestive track if it comes straight from the green cup. At the Chelsea Tree House (this lovely indoor park in Chelsea, Michigan), there are these rings that you can swing from in multiple colors. Bjorn will not swing. He will only hang. From the green hoop. Sometimes we let him pick out Dada’s work shirts…and let me tell you, Lars has been wearing a lot of green, lately.
Here is a picture of him in his favorite shirt: bright green with a frog wearing sunglasses.
Bjorn at the Ball-Machine at the Hand's On Museum in Downtown Ann Arbor. He would eventually gather every single green ball and put them in his bucket. Everyone has to have a mission.
Of course, green is a color of selective love. Does he like broccoli, zucchini or [insert name of any vegetable here]? No. Does he like green shampoo? Nah. Here he is in a few non-green moments:
Ready for a day on the town with Mama. This is his "say cheese" face. Beautiful, no?
Bjorn assisting with Miracle Chicken Tortilla Soup in the kitchen. He would eat PB&J for dinner despite his culinary aptitude.
May 12th, 2012
Everyone knows the best way to celebrate finals is to get summoned for federal jury duty in Detroit, right? Its like the universe knew exactly what I wanted, bundled it up in a nice little official document and mailed it to my house.
I have not been asked to report, but I have been “on-call” for the past week. I have to call every night at 6pm and check to see if I am to report to the US District Court in Detroit (about an hour away) by 7:45am the next morning. Now I am all about civic duty but ugh. So much ugh about this situation. I can’t tell you how awful it is to constantly be preparing for two scenarios every day. In one, I am doing business as normal in an already chaotic time at work. In the other, I am preparing to delegate all tasks in case I am put on case. I almost wish I could just get assigned in order to stop constantly prepping for both of these cases. I’m on call through next Friday. Worst case scenario will be if and when on Thursday night when I call-in to check and see if I am to report, they tell me that I need to come in and then I get assigned to a case. Blech.
But we are trying to get back to something normal…and trying to get more organized. Enter the re-birth of dinner scheduling, although you won’t see much in the way of anything new…
Saturday May 12 (rogue entry): Burgers on the Grill
Sunday May 13: TBD
Monday May 14: Kung Pao Chicken
Tuesday May 15: Mock Chicken Tortilla Soup
Wednesday May 16: Leftovers
Thursday May 17: Red Pepper & Onion Fettuccine
…and so it goes.
May 12th, 2012
A couple of photos from the past month. We’ve been out and about in Ann Arbor with friends and took a sojourn to Chicago to show Bjorn the definition of a “big city” (ie, not Ann Arbor).
He looks so innocent, right? He was running to head butt me in the face.
Bjorn (white shirt), Yassen (blue shirt) and Morgan (yellow shirt) running along the path lining the Huron River at the Arb.
Exploring the banks of the Huron River at the Arboretum
This photo was ridiculously hard to take and turned out only sub par. Anyway---here are Bjorn and I at the Cloud Gate in Chicago's Millennium Park.
At the window washing exhibit at the John Hancock building.
Tulips blooming at the Lurie Garden in Millennium Park
April 22nd, 2012
So this is the wrong week to try and get back into a schedule, despite finishing up finals this past Friday. I’m going to Columbia, Missouri on Tuesday and won’t get home until late Thursday night. I will avoid talking about how angsty I am at leaving my boys–because that is another entry, best written when I’m drunk and alone in a hotel room in Missouri. Wait, what? Anyway.
I did end up making some meals for Lars so that he and Bjorn wouldn’t have to think much about dinner while I was gone. And by “making some meals” I mean “I made taco meat and re-enforced that he should eat the leftover chicken tikka masala”. So that’s what’s on tap for this week. Otherwise I will be eating out at fine dining establishments in the Memphis Airport (apparently Lenny’s subs is awesome?) and the college town of Columbia. Next week, though. Count on it.
I did cook, as previously mentioned, for my HBHE 651 class as a kind of “gimmick” if you will, for our presentation. We made a zucchini bread recipe from the Mayo Clinic and it wasn’t half bad. In fact, I dare say, it was good! I would make it again. Next time, I won’t underbake the second loaf. LOOKS CAN BE DECEIVING WHEN YOU BAKE BREAD, OKAY?
Getting an 'A' 101...Or how I learned to bake zucchini bread for a program development class.
April 22nd, 2012
We’ve been so horrible about sharing photos these past few months. That said, I’ve purged my iPhone of a couple select shots from this past month and here they are…Sorry some of them are a little blurry but you get the gist.
Bjorn rocking his Red Wings jersey at Joe Louis Arena. The Red Wings would end up destroying the Columbia Blue Jackets.
A (blurry) photo of Bjorn and Grandpa at Bjorn's first Red Wings game. I just love the way Bjorn is looking at him.
More mud. (At Eberwhite Elementary)A quick trip to the Big House to see the Spring Game. Most important to Bjorn, the band was in attendance.
A hard week's work culminates in a trip to Old Town for some libations for all ages.
Replacing one vice with another...after Old Town, we walk to Washtenaw Dairy for some "delicious ice cream". Bjorn and Morgan kept each other company by holding hands on the walk back.
April 18th, 2012
Allergies kicked my ass this spring. We’re finally on the other side (hopefully for the foreseeable future!) and I can now get back into a routine. What that routine may be, I have no idea. I’m done with finals on Wednesday and then next week I’m off to Missouri for my first meeting for the new research project I belong to. These two nights away from Bjorn will be the longest I have ever been from him and it will be hard. The anticipation of leaving is already eating me up. I never thought I would get to be this bad.
Bjorn has been high-larious these past few weeks. The things that come out of that boys mouth! He has also become somewhat obsessed with Ballet, the Red Wings, and Dvorak’s 9th Symphony (he ‘doots’ it).
The other day we were hanging out in the living room and he just gets up and tells me “bye bye mama!”. I asked him, “where are you going?”. He replies, “to play hockey! with the red wings!”. Then he proceeds to walk towards the door. You buy a kid ONE red wings jersey and they think they’re part of the team. Its adorable. Kind of ready to embrace being a hockey mom. Kind of.
One of these days I’ll post some photos.
We have been cooking. All things I’ve posted before and don’t require too much effort. However, I did make a brand new recipe for a party I went to on Saturday night. Our friend Joe hosted a dinner and asked for me to bring an appetizer. Now–I LOVE appetizers, but I’m always horribly uncreative at cooking or providing them. Coupled with a shortage of time and this caused a great deal of stress (I believe an assortment of cookbooks are strewn across my bedroom floor). Anyway–I don’t really have a “go to” appetizer so was on a frantic search to find something that would be suitable for a gay man’s party. A tall order.
Enter Smitten Kitchen. I found this great recipe for Olive-Artichoke Crostini (its especially great if you love green olives and artichokes–which I do!). Slices of baguettes and a delicious spread. Can’t go wrong. The only thing I wish I had done differently was chop up some parsley to sprinkle on top for coloring.
This upcoming week I’ll be trying a new recipe for a school project. That’s right. We are working on a nutritional intervention for type 2 diabetes prevention among adolescents–and our presentation involves feeding the audience a Mayo Clinic endorsed zucchini bread. I know, right? Will keep you posted on if this tastes like cardboard. I will beta on Bjorn and, let me tell you, he is a man of discriminating tastes.
Anyway–have friends coming over to bake tomorrow. Best school project ever.
March 24th, 2012
It is lovely in Ann Arbor right now. I mean, I could write poetry. Here’s a quick non-thought out verse while looking at our magnolias in the backyard
Pink, it’s my new obsession, yeah
Pink, it’s not even a question
Pink, on the lips of your lover
‘Cause pink is the love you discover
…okay, so maybe I am quoting Aerosmith, but you get the idea.
On Wednesday, I took my first ever allergy medication. I received it when the pediatric allergist I work with told me I looked terrible and gave me an Allegra. I’ve been so hesitant to take medication for this. I’m not some holistic hippie…but I never had allergies before moving to Michigan and I’ve been in denial the past two years….(last year I was also miserable with allergies). The Allegra helped but not with the insane amount of congestion I was dealing with–so when I went to the store to get more, I decided on “Allegra-D”…which is a horse-pill that lasts for 24 hours (!!).
So I took it. And I got really tired. Then I woke up and couldn’t sleep all night. Then I was at work tired all day. Then I vowed I wouldn’t take it again because I felt so crappy. Then I woke up at 3am last night congested and with itchy eyes and sneezing like the dickens (I don’t know how the dickens sneeze but I’m going to say that I did the description justice)….so I took another one at 3am. Then I took a shower. Finally I fell asleep and I’m now just waiting to see how today goes. I’m meeting up with my group for survey methodology over coffee and hopefully my questions won’t be too influenced by my altered allergy-medicine induced haze. Sigh.
But really, its beautiful here. Ugh.