Search This Blog.. (I know I saw it in here somewhere...)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tag! You're It!!!

The highlight of my day is when Ash and Sadie play tag after dinner...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Dinner with my Dad... I wish!

It was that time again... when the sun begins to drop in the sky, and all the shadows and colors make that "pre-sunset" shift, bellies start to growl, and little boys and little schnauzers start to get twitchy and a little jumpy. Yep, dinner time.

I walked into the kitchen tonight, wondering what I could whip up fast. Ash was getting sleepy, and much earlier that his normal bedtime. You see, it has been a fun day. Ash and I went to Sea World to join a friend of ours and give the kiddos a play date. It was a blast. But our morning started about an hour earlier than we are used to and the sun was super warm (and oddly draining). The car ride back wasn't quite long enough so the usual nap was shorter. And we had to run an errand... we added some fish to our pond today. A 6 inch white goldfish, a 5 inch red goldfish and a 4 inch koi. But I'll tell you about that later, in another entry.

Back to the task at hand, as I started looking in the cupboards to get some inspiration for dinner, I saw the bag of loose chai tea Rich got me while we were in Australia. OOOOOhhhh how I LOVE Chai and all the spices in this delicious little drink. And, cooking is more fun when you are sipping on a lovely beverage, so I nuked a quick cup of hot water for the tea leaves and spices to infuse while I prepared the meal. I had put a few chicken breasts in the fridge to thaw before we left this morning, in case I got the cooking bug tonight. Good thing too!

So, there I was, salivating waiting for my tea and it hit me. Chai Chicken! Is there such a thing? I'm not sure... but I was about to find out. Into the spice cupboard I went and out came:  extra virgin olive oil, whole black peppercorns, coconut milk, whole nutmeg, red curry from Cambodia, coriander, ginger, ground nutmeg, Jamaican Allspice, Cloves, Cinnamon, Himalayan Pink Salt Crystals, Tri-colored peppercorns, mint flakes, fennel seed, thyme, rosemary, aniseed, and orange blossom honey.

I looked at my counter, and it hit me. This was a meal my Dad would love. For just a moment it felt like he was right there with me, experimenting with all these yummy flavors, and not 943 miles away. My heart tugged a bit.

When I was little, I LOVED going to the grocery store with my Dad. And honestly, I still do today. Going with Dad is fun. You see, he's quiet... but adventurous. I really cannot remember a single time when he didn't get something new. He is good like that, to try new foods, new flavors, new brands, and new treats. Don't get me wrong. Mom was always fun to be with too, especially when she'd bust out a HUGE brick of cheese and whack Nikki and Oliver upside the head with it for not minding her. I mean, she was raising 4 kids, and running a house. The woman was busy! (Thanks Mom for always making Dad take one of us with him. It was so much more than just giving you a much needed break, it was an opportunity to make memories I absolutely cherish!)

While Ash munched on a banana, I got the jasmine rice started on one burner. On another burner I poured a little oil into the pan and dropped in about 8 whole peppercorns. There's just something fun about hearing peppercorns pop when the oil gets warm and knowing how delicious their flavor is making that oil. I added a can of coconut milk. Then threw in a few nubs of nutmeg. You know what a nub is right? Those little chunks that you end up when you've grated the nut as far as you can but just can't bear to throw it away, even though it is too small to keep rubbing on the grater without leaving a piece of your fingers with it. I've always just thrown them back into the jar, hoping one day I'd know what to do with them. Well, today was that day. YAY! So, as the oil, milk, pepper, and nutmeg started to simmer and blend and fuse and transform into a magical base, I went to town on the other spices. They all went into my mortar and pestle to be ground up into little bursts of an amazing scent. Once finely ground, into the milk base they went. Mmmmmmmmmmm, it was smelling soooooooooo delicious! The chicken was chopped into 1 inch cubes and added to the base. As the sauce began to reduce, I added the honey. And I wondered which kind of honey it was again that my Dad liked. I know he has a favorite... but I can't remember what it is. Clover? Mesquite? Orange Blossom? Cactus? Can you even make a cactus honey? Ack. I'll have to ask him which one his favorite is again. I have 3 different kinds in my cupboard. They're from The Honey Stand in Pine, Arizona and SOOOOO good.

It was just about done, but needed something else. Yeah, I know, as if 14 spices was not enough. It needed something more to the texture. Something crisp, yet softened. Like... AN APPLE!  After a quick dice of the fruit, and a fast simmer with another douse of honey, it was ready. My kitchen smelled absolutely Divine. 

It tasted even better than I had imagined and hoped it would!!! And the chicken was perfect! It was so moist and not overdone  - which is a TOTAL rarity for me, unfortunately! (Click on the pic below and you can see the whole, but shriveled peppercorn. Soooo yum!)

Ash liked it too. He had THREE servings!

Eating with both hands, he piled in that rice and apple and chai chicken creation and devoured it!

It was super easy, super fast, and super delicious. And clean up was pretty quick too! Although, if you're not careful, the longest part can be putting all the caps back on the spices.

But this can be avoided if you have a good kitchen partner... like a spouse, or a roommate, or a boyfriend/girlfriend. Or, you can do a little wiggly jig to the Toddler Tunes playing on Pandora to entertain a little person and still make clean up fun. 

Come visit us Dad. I'll make this for you. You'll love it.

And I love you.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Naptime Buddies

It's not uncommon for Ash to join me in the kitchen while I'm preparing a meal, eating, and then cleaning up after it. Or cleaning out the fridge, or cupboards, or scrubbing the oven and stove. It's a pretty familiar room to him, and one we spend a lot of time in.

Lots of the time, he sits in his highchair and munches on little puffs. They're awesome treats. They're easy on his sore and teething gums, full of nutrition, and easy for his little fingers to grasp. Sometimes he just plays with his trucks until they find their way over the edge (which usually doesn't take very long, remember that whole dropping phase I mentioned...). But he's also got his trusty little buddies in the room with him. When he was about 6 months old, Ash was introduced to his new Friends - the Monkey, the Rhino, the Wheel, the Spinner, and all the fun musical noises that come with them when they bounce. This chair is worth far more that we paid (which at the time I thought was outrageous). He has spent HOURS in this, very happy, and very entertained. It's been used in the bathroom while I showered, in the living room while I folded laundry, upstairs while I worked (a life that seems so foreign now), but is usually in the kitchen - right smack in the middle of the floor. This way, we can still talk to each other and make eye contact, and sing, and all that good stuff.

Today, he was bouncing along - hard as usual - to where the sounds of the springs are actually louder than the music. I took advantage and slipped into the living room to get the front entry swept and change over the loads of laundry. Then suddenly, it was silent. All I could hear was the hum of the dishwasher. This seemed very odd. Extremely odd. So I quickly, but calmly and quietly, walked into the kitchen to find Ash face down and out cold. Taken completely by surprise I laughed out loud and he didn't even flinch! Luckily, my camera was still laying on the kitchen table and I captured a few shots.

Just as I was putting the camera down, with a jolt, he threw his head back and began jumping again - but with his eyes still closed! I gasped. Back forward his head went, legs still jumping, and finally it rested on the side. With just little twitching legs.

You know, I've read in books and online that a child is like a light switch - when they wake up they go right back to what they were doing. After witnessing this, there is no question! I contemplated just leaving him there, to sleep so peacefully with his naptime buddies but it looked so uncomfortable (I was having flashbacks of falling asleep in my desk at school). I figured I'd spare him from waking up to a kinked neck and puddle of drool. I gently slid my hands down under his arms and as I began to lift him up his legs started to jump again - at the same time his little head laid down on my shoulder. These are one of those moments when your heart skips a beat and you loose your breath. I softly started up the stairs - and his little legs just kept on bouncing! When I gently laid him down in his crib, to get a good nice nap in a cool and dark room, I just stood over him to soak it in... and just as I was turning to walk away, I got one last frog kick.

Ash, I could have never in a million years imagined just how much I would love you. Sweet dreams lil man.