Friday, August 22, 2014

Visiting: Bavarian Cream

TMIL is currently visiting and staying with us.  This understandably adds an extra level of stress to my already stressful life.  Because TMIL is not an accepting, loving kind of mother-in-law.  Instead she's a negative, judging kind of mother-in-law.  When we told her we were buying a home, instead of being excited for us, she told us as many horror stories as she could about the area we were moving to.  Not that she had any actual knowledge about the area being as she lives hundreds of miles away and has never actually been there.

I feel like every meal I put on the table needs to be flawless.  (Tonight's meal included a salad, and apparently she can't eat leafy greens)  This means we have some sort of dessert every night, as the perfect way to round out the meal.  And because I'm short on time, it needs to be something I can prepare ahead of time.  And because I can't risk failure, it needs to be easy.

Puddings are a really hard dish to mess up, don't take long to prepare, and taste even better the next day.  This Bavarian cream is a cross between a pudding and a custard.  It's got the creaminess of the custard, but a more solid consistency.  It's sweet, it's easy, and it's pretty.  Perfect to serve for picky company.

 Bavarian Cream (From the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
1 envelope gelatin
2 eggs, separated
1 1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup heavy cream
  1.  Sprinkle the gelatin over 1/4 cup cold water and let soften for 5 minutes.
  2. Beat the egg yolks slightly.
  3. Heat the milk in a heavy-bottomed pan until very hot, then stir a little into the beaten yolks.
  4. Return the yolks to the remaining milk in the pan and add the sugar, salt, and gelatin.  Stir constantly over medium heat until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and refrigerate for 15 minutes or until cool.
  5. Add the vanilla.
  6. Beat the egg whites until they are stiff but not dry and fold them into the custard.
  7. Beat the cream until it barely holds soft peaks and fold it into the custard.  Spoon into a 2 quart mold, cover, and chill until firm.  Unmold before serving.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Summer Pick Me Up - Ice Coffee with Jelly

It should come as no surprise that we are insanely busy right now.  During the week it's nonstop action from the time I get up at 6am until I finally collapse in bed sometime after 11pm.  There's the getting ready process in the morning, then work, then coming home and taking care of dinner, bedtimes, and prepping for the next day.  Plus a little workout time worked in - when there's time. 

The weekends are no less stressful.  Sometimes I even wake up earlier to get a run in before the day starts.  There are errands to run, housework to catch up on, and always some sort of fun event to attend - like Little LO's birthday party last weekend.

So how do I get through these long, very full days?  I'm not much of a coffee drinker.  But sometimes I make exceptions.  I am very picky about my coffee when I do drink it.  We have a fantastic local coffee shop that really helps me get through my Saturdays.  I'd much prefer to drink there than at Starbucks.  In general I don't really like Starbucks.  But when I was in college, Starbucks introduced a drink that was on the menu for a very short time period which I adored.  It was the only time I willingly and gladly chose Starbucks over other coffee shops.

So what was this magical drink?  It was a coffee with coffee jelly.  Since I love Boba (drinks with tapioca balls) this quickly became a favorite drink.  I was really sad when they stopped serving it.  So of course I had to learn how to make my own version.   For me, this is the perfect summer drink.  I haven't ever tried it with hot coffee, but I worry that it would melt the jelly, and therefore lose the consistency.  But with a nice ice coffee, it's the perfect way to cool down and start the day.

 Ice Coffee with Jelly
1 pot very strong coffee
1 envelope of gelatin
6 Tbsp sugar
  1.  Mix the gelatin, sugar, and 1/2 cup of cold water in a small pan and let soften for 5 minutes.
  2. Add 2 cups coffee and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the gelatin dissolves.
  3. Pour into a tray and chill until firm.
  4. Turn tray onto a clean work service and cut into small squares.
  5. Place 1/4 cup of coffee jelly in each cup and top with cold coffee, milk, and sugar to taste.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Best Buds: Orange Jello

When we moved into our new house, we left a lot behind. Like our bed that was probably 10 years old, and our couch which was in such bad shape we couldn't even get any organizations to accept it as a donation. 

We've replaced the big things, but we're still waiting on the couch we ordered.  And I've been holding off on having people over, because I hate forcing people to sit outside, since there's no place for them to sit inside.  But the days and weeks are dragging on, and honestly, one of the best things about having a house is being able to entertain.  So despite the lack of seating, we had L&O&family over a couple weeks ago.

The nice things about friends is that they don't care too much about the lack of a place to rest their bottoms.  And Thatbaby and Little LO had so much fun running amok in the backyard.

They took turns riding the bikes and motorized wheels, but then Little LO realized there was room for him on the back and they could ride together!

We didn't take advantage of our orange tree the night they were there, but it's perfect for one of the classic kid's desserts - J-E-L-L-O.  Honestly, it takes just as much time to make it from scratch as it does to make the store-bought version, but the taste is worlds apart.  There is so much more flavor when you make it from freshly squeezed juice.  It's brighter, and the sweetness isn't as cloying.  Once you try this, you will have no desire to ever grab that little white box again!

Orange Jello (From the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
2 envelopes gelatin
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
3/4 cup sugar
juice of 1 lemon

  1. Sprinkle the gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water and let soften.
  2. Add 1 3/4 cup boiling water, stirring to dissolve.
  3. Add the orange juice, sugar, and lemon juice.
  4. Pour into a 1-qt mold and chill until firm.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Kid Stuff: Pasta with Chicken and Veggies

A couple years back we used to get together with Thatboy's coworkers on a regular basis.  We'd meet with all our kids and let them play while we ate.  Except Thatbaby was always an infant during those time periods, so he watched more than played.  Then they started having their seconds (and thirds) and got busy with babies so we kind of dropped our get togethers.

A couple of weekends ago, we got together with one of his coworkers to restart the trend.  It had been so long since we'd seen them, that Thatbaby had never even met their 2 year old daughter!

Unsurprisingly, Thatbaby was much more taken with the older brother.  A "big boy" which is obviously cooler than a baby girl.  Nevertheless, they managed to all have fun together.

There were games to play, puddles to splash in, and pianos to play.

Thatbaby loved having a day to play with his new friends.  He didn't want to leave.  The promise of pasta for dinner was definitely an incentive though.  Because kids?  They love pasta.  Or at least Thatbaby does.  He especially likes being able to pick out his own pasta shape.  And on those days when getting him to eat veggies is a chore, this is a surefire way to get them in!

Pasta with Chicken and Veggies
 8 oz pasta
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 chicken breast, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup your favorite chopped veggies (zucchini, spinach, broccoli)

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken, garlic, and onions and saute until chicken is browned.
  3. Add the tomato paste and cook for another minute.
  4. Add the chicken broth and veggies and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the cooked pasta to the chicken and veggies, toss and serve.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Mommy Mondays: Potty Time (Part 2)

We've hit a really good "midpoint" of our potty training adventures, so I thought it was a good time for an update.

As you may recall from previous episodes, we're doing the anti-potty training method in that we're not actively potty training.  If Thatbaby wants to sit on the potty, great.  If not, then he doesn't.  My instinct is that eventually he'll want to wear underwear instead of diapers.  And I'm not going to force it, he'll do it when he's ready. 

Our big turning point came when we were in San Francisco for Bay to Breakers.  Out of nowhere, Thatbaby announced he wanted to go "poo poo on the potty."  This was a pretty surprising move for us, because everyone I know who potty trained their children had real issues with bowel movements.  About half of them still can't get their child to poop in the toilet.  But Thatbaby hasn't pooped in a diaper since.  Which was a lot of fun in the airport, and in gas station bathrooms, but hey - the day had to come sooner or later, right?

Going pee in the toilet came a little later.  It was underwear driven.  He wanted to wear underwear, and knew that if he wanted to wear underwear, he had to pee in the potty too.  So he started peeing in the potty.  And at that point he also started waking up at night to pee. 

So potty trained, right?  Not exactly.  First, he's still sporadic enough with the night wakes that we keep him diapered.  (In fact, last night he woke up crying at 1am because he had peed and wanted to know if he was in underwear or a diaper)  Second, Thatbaby is "weekend potty trained."  All weekend he wears underwear and stays dry, but during the week, when he's at school, he asks to wear diapers.  And at this point, we're going with it.  The kid potty trained himself, but for some reason he's still not comfortable at school.  Whether it's the fact that he's still adjusting to the new school, he's afraid of having an accident, or he likes the privacy that the school bathroom doesn't afford. I have faith he'll get there on his time.  So far he's proven me right that kids will potty train himself, and it's been a really easy process for us because of that.  And that's why this is only Part 2.  We've got one more chapter left to go!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday Runday: Hit the Dirt

I wanted to take a minute or two to talk about trail running.  It's funny to me that some people are intimidated by trails - don't be!  Trails are fantastic.  They're better for your joints and body than pavement, and you don't have to worry about being hit by a car.

There are some cons to trail running.  The first is that most people are generally slower on trails.  They're a little more hazardous with loose rocks and dirt.  Some trails can be very narrow.   You often do have to avoid bikers.  And of course, there are the very real hazards of snakes and other wildlife.

But if you ask me, the benefits far outweigh the risks.  Trails have an inherent beauty to them because you're surrounded by nature.

I used to run on trails all the time, there was one just half a mile from our home, so that was my daily route.  Now I'm not nearly as close to a trail, so my daily route are the streets surrounding my home.  And then one of my running friends introduced me to a great nearby trail run.

 It's not half a mile away, I do have to get in my car and drive there.  But it's great for longer runs.  And so, often on the weekends I head there to get a nice, long, quiet run in.

The views always make it feel worthwhile.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Babies Babies Everywhere

On Sunday Thatbaby and I had a special mommy-son day.  And we took a road trip.  A very long roadtrip.  You see, I was heading up to LA to see some new arrivals - babies!  It's normally something I do by myself, but Thatbaby really wanted to come.  And so with the permission of the new moms, I found myself with a new little roadtrip buddy.

Our first stop was the visit NotMya's new little guy.  Thatbaby is really looking forward to him growing up a little more so they can play together.

We didn't come empty handed, Thatbaby brought a toy for the new little guy.  I brought lots of food.  Including some enchiladas

Chicken Gyros

and a Greek Salad

After we visited for a bit, we went to see JackieO's little bit.  Dixie, or Baby Dix as Thatbaby calls her, is a little older, and a lot more fun.  Thatbaby was smitten.  He wanted to hold her hands, her little feet, give her toys, and be her best friend.
I am always worried about bringing Thatbaby with me to see new babies, but he did remarkably well.  He was quiet, well behaved, and fascinated by the little ones.  And the car ride was far from the disaster I predicted!  Sure I had to listen to "baby bumble bee" for 15 straight minutes, but there was no crying or whining the entire 5 hours we were in the car.  It was a great day for both of us.