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Monthly Archives: August 2015

This dish looked amazing in the photograph. Perfectly seared white fish ever so delicately topped with a colorful mixture of baked vegetables. I had had a few successes so far with my yogurt recipes, and this one yearned to be the next one I conquered. I think my book laughed at me silently as I made my shopping list and quietly chuckled, “We’ll see about that. We’ll just see.”

Off to Sprouts I went. Garlic and Ginger, check. Lemon and Coriander, check check. Fresh Sole? Not due till Saturday. I made a mental note that I could check my other usual grocery spot, Homeland. Just in case I threw in a frozen bag of Tilapia. It could be used as a substitute or stashed in the freezer for a rainy day. Next wrench in the monkey kitchen: no canned green lentils.

Homeland did not have either of those necessary items, either. My mom suggested I just get bagged lentils since they are quick to make. No rinsing and slow cooking over night. Sure enough, the bag read they only take about 15 minutes to cook. Crisis averted. The only really bad thing that happened at the grocery stores today was my bad joke to the fish counter personnel after I asked about the sole. “But do YOU have SOUL?” I got a courtesy half smile. I’ll take it.

Next hurdle: cooking with a newborn after having a full day. She humored me while I boiled the lentils and chopped the spinach and coriander, but then demanded to be fed. At a stopping point, I drained the lentils and left the tilapia to defrost in the sink. Sitting down was actually a welcome pleasure since I had been going since 7:30am. I’ve got quite the smart and considerate little newborn.

Back in the kitchen, I chopped away, reading and re-reading the instructions, always worried that I would misread a direction. Which of course happened. Many of the fresh ingredients would be added in together, the spinach, lentils, garlic, cumin and lemon juice. So I was just chopping away and putting them in a big bowl together until their sautéing time came. As is my habit, I re-read the directions and realized I had in fact gone wrong: “reheat pan and sauté onions until glassy.” STOP THE AUDIO BOOK so as to concentrate fully. Jim Gaffigan, you are very funny but obviously distracting me from my cooking.*

Sauté the onions. By themselves.

I sadly glanced at my bowl of chopped veg, where the onions were happily sitting on top of the spinach, under the coriander that was dusted with the cumin. Did I mention the onions were finely chopped? Ugh.

I carefully picked out what I could, collected my determination and excitement, and resumed cooking. Sautéed the onions, mixed in the veg, added the lemon from the fridge skipping the fresh squeezed, and topped the fish. Which was when Ty walked in the door from work and I realized I had again decided to take a detour from the recipe: mix in yogurt, and THEN top fish and bake.

Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh!

Teetering on losing total control of my emotional (STARVING) facilities, I scooped what I could off of the delicate fish back into the bowl, mixed in the yogurt, re-topped the tilapia, and finally put the pan in the oven to bake. At this point I also skipped adding fresh lemon zest to the top of the fish. The fish would have to dazzle us with flavor without the crutch of lemon zestiness.

Fifteen minutes later, out it came and to the table it made its way, looking like a sad rendition of the picture. As my mom had said the night before about a new recipe she had made, I announced to Ty, “It may not LOOK good, but it’s good FOR you!”** And we tucked in.

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And it was delicious. Moral of this cooking story, wrenches may be thrown in your kitchen, but with a little quick thinking and perseverance, it can still come out a winner. The only thing we threw out was the wine, which was a bottle that had been sitting in our fridge for over two months with a broken seal (accidentally opened by us, not from the store). Not the tastiest with faint hints of vinegar, it just made the bottle of beer we split taste oh so much better.

A RECAP of the finished dish: pan seared tilapia smothered with a topping of lentils, spinach, coriander laced with garlic, ginger and cumin mixed with yogurt, this dish is a protein punch. Great for breastfeeding mammas and any kind of folks getting fit, I’d make it again. Next time I’ll try it with the suggested sole, top it with lemon zest to get the full flavor, and I’ll take the time to put on some soul music. Because I’ve got soul.

*I was listening to Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan.  I highly suggest it-especially if you have any newborns in the house, or kids at all.

**This is a common saying in my parents’ house right before anything that is a new recipe is served. It is always delicious, as was my mom’s dinner that night: carrot and apple soup with grown up grilled cheese sandwiches.

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Yogurt!

During my pregnancy, I ate a lot of yogurt. A LOT. It helped me from gaining a ton of weight. I craved shakes, which I did indulge in, but one cannot have a shake every time you crave one pregnant or not. When I craved a strawberry shake, I had a cup of yogurt. Creamy, fruity, and cold, it satisfied. I also didn’t feel guilty when I had two in a day-which was almost everyday. Calcium anyone? My daughter’s bones aren’t complaining.

My favorite were the Chobani cups. I worked in a restaurant, and when the hunger pains came, there was no ignoring them. Eat or throw up is the way of pregnancy. The cups of yogurt were easy to grab, quick and satisfying to eat, and kept me out on the floor where I needed to be.

My husband would lightly hint that he wasn’t happy about the price we were paying for the individual cups of yogurt-especially since I was consuming a large amount every week. He also was eating tubs of plain yogurt with his muesli in the mornings. So when my mother offered us her unused yogurt maker, he jumped on it.

And then it sat in the corner…as we talked about all of the money we could save from making our own yogurt. And how about the health benefits! No preservatives or added sugars!

And still it sat, until we finally broke down and took the effort to find where we could get the starter cultures (which is practically any grocery store). That same weekend fate blessed us at the bookstore where I found a yogurt recipe book in the “Discounted Gotta Go!” section.   The directions for each recipe were not too involved, and not too many ingredients. Perfect for my budding cooking skills.

The first recipe I made from the book was chilled ginger and lime soup. It was delicious. Rave reviews. Perfect on a summer evening with some grilled fish, this soup was cool and refreshing yet had a kick to it. All freshly grated ginger, garlic, and coriander melded perfectly with the lime and creaminess of the yogurt. The only thing that really took time was the chopping of the vegetables, and that really didn’t take a lot of time. It can be made in the morning or even the day before cutting your cooking time in the evening drastically.

We ate it up before I thought to photograph. So here is a picture of the bowl I served it in garnished with some coriander.  Take a page from Peter Pan and imagine the coriander floating on top of a thick white soup speckled with bits of green.  Fabulous, yes?
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Next I made some scones. While in the past I detested cooking, I loved to bake. Maybe because it was on my terms. I was not required to do it every day, and when I did it always (and still does) please and delight. Who doesn’t like the surprise of walking in the door and being greeted with the aroma of chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven? Or knowing that waking up in the morning a fresh croissant with melted butter is yearning to be drizzled with honey and enjoyed with a hot cup of coffee? Oh, there’s chocolate tucked inside of the croissant?  I’ll go to sleep early, thank you.

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Other than the scones being baked in a muffin pan and so resembling muffins more than scones, they were a hit, too. They called for a tenth of the sugar my blueberry muffins use which made me happy with how much healthier they were.  (A side note-I had to promise my husband I would not stop making the blueberry muffins no matter my excitement for the yogurt book or the fact I could make them with blueberries.)

I am so taken with this book that I have decided to work my way through all of the recipes. Ty expressed his doubts, as I am new to cooking I have not experienced that most recipe books contain a few great recipes, mostly moderate ones, and a few not-so-great ones. Each recipe I have made beginning with the post to follow of Sole with Spinach and Lentils continues to satisfy and amaze with the flavors that shine through.

The recipe book I am using is Yogurt by Sarina Jacobson published in 2008 by Sterling Publishing Company. I encourage you to check it out as I have been thoroughly delighted by each recipe. I did find it on Amazon for a cent. A CENT. You have to pay more for the shipping for a total cost of $4.00. You can use the money you save to buy a good quality quiet yogurt maker-because ours runs a lot in our house!

Three years ago I decided to start a blog. This blog, actually. I did all of the things you do when you start a blog, entered my email, uploaded a fantastic picture of myself, chose the color of the background, and then checked my email. Or went to work. Or read a book. I’m not sure. It was three years ago. As Sarah Koenig points out on Serial, it is very hard to remember exactly what you did a long time ago on a random day. I hope nobody accuses me of murder on the day three years ago when I created this blog, because I can’t remember what I did for the rest of the day

I do know either that day, the day before, or the day after, I made Indian Tacos. That was my planned first blog post. Luckily I did take pictures to prove it.

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Well this weekend I made them again. Which reminded me of my blog. I decided OK! It’s time to jump back in!   I have posted twice to get my feet wet, and now I have decided to do the long awaited Indian Tacos post. Luckily, we had theme dinner and a movie night this weekend, and so I have NEW pictures of slightly different tacos.

In Oklahoma, we look forward to the Great State Fair of Oklahoma every September. Many Oklahomans will agree that the best thing about the fair is the food. Cinnamon rolls, fried butter, fried Twinkies (I could honestly go on and on about the available fried food), turkey legs, funnel cakes, and more. The most famous of our state fair food is the Indian Taco. Get ready to wait in line, because they are delicious and you can’t go to the fair without having one.

What is an Indian Taco? Navajo fry bread topped with juicy beans, lettuce, tomato, and cheese. Toppings vary, and just like Mexican tacos, these are the most common toppings. Navajo fry bread is a golden light puffy fried bread that is best when the juice from the beans seeps down and makes it more tender to eat. If your bread is hard at all, this is the fix to cover the most likely cause of over mixing the dough, which makes the bread on the heavy side.

We topped ours with green chilies and added Buffalo meat to the beans. If you haven’t had Buffalo meat, I highly suggest you do. It is lean and tasty.

Fixing these tacos is a great option if you are feeding a lot of people and are on a budget. The most expensive part was the buffalo meat, which cost us about $10 dollars. The meal is also quick. I love to bake, but I am not particularly fond of cooking because you have to do it EVERYDAY and there are SO MANY OTHER THINGS I could be doing. There are only a few ingredients to mix and it only takes about 30 seconds a side to achieve the finished golden brown loveliness. Then hold yourself back from eating each puffy bread pillow as it comes out of the oil.

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Luckily I was able to delegate the rest of the meal fixing to Ty, who cooked the meat, beans, and chopped the veg. This sounds like he did more, but since I could only cook one fry bread piece at a time we ended at almost exactly the same time. We heaped our tacos and watched Last of the Mohicans. A very nice evening.

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Taco Tip: Your Taco Should be 3D. Don’t skimp on anything.   It should be at least as high as two Harry Potter books. Hardcovers. And the later books, we’re talking HP and the Half Blood Prince, not the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Theme Movie Tip: If you decide to do this, a couple other movies you could choose are Dances with Wolves or Jeremiah Johnson.  Great Actor + Movie classic + Native theme=perfect movie for Indian Tacos theme night.

One Last Etymology Thing…Once I was describing these tacos to a Canadian friend.  Every time I said “Indian Tacos” he would kindly interject, “Native Tacos?” While making these this past weekend, I brought this up with Ty.  Is it un-PC?  Have I been terribly wrong in using the word indian?  While our friends to the North all use Native, here in OK everyone still refers to this dish as Indian tacos.  He made a great point in comparing ‘Indian’ to ‘Oriental.’  People are Asian, things are oriental.  In our area, people are Native while things can be indian.  So please, get some flour and try making these delicious Indian Tacos.

But if you are at a Pow-wow, don’t be the obvious tourist that asks for an Indian Taco.  Just ask for a taco.

Babybooking-it’s what I’m all about right now.  One page until today has alluded me: the handprint and footprint page.  Why was I so nervous?  You have one shot to get four different prints without being a print-taking expert.  I was nervous because with ink, there is no erasing and no do overs.  If it smudges, it will be smudged for life.

First thing I tried: an ink less kit.

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What you need to know: they are $5 dollars and you get one shot with them.  The package says you can reuse them, but it was not so for me.  I wasted one practicing, and thought I must have just pressed her foot too hard and used up all of the ink.  So I tried again, and got the same result.  $10 dollars and no print in the baby book.

How do they work?  It is a piece of plastic with the ink on one side in a plastic frame that holds it just above the paper.  You place it ink-side down, and press baby’s foot on the ink less side.

While I won’t try it again for baby book purposes, I do suggest trying it once because I did end up this reverse print that I plan on doing something with in the future, I’m just not sure what yet.

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Next, I went to my hobby shop and got an ink pad .  I waited until right after she nursed and was in a sleepy state, and got ready to print.  I decided to practice on some colored construction paper.  I had the baby book ready, but you can practice only so many times before baby starts waking up and deciding that it’s time to do something else instead of cooperating with mom.

After cleaning her up and examining my practice footprints, I realized I had a few prints that could contend for the baby book spot.  Since they were on a pretty blue piece of paper, they would look nice in the baby book.  So cut and paste I did.  A few days later, I repeated the process with her hands.

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What you should know about my printing:  I’m pretty sure I used the first print I took of each hand and foot.  Maybe you are willing to take the chance and print straight into your baby book, but if you are like me, you know that doing so will jinx you and you’ll have a nice record of how well baby can smudge ink.  I personally like how it turned out in the end, and hopefully she will too when she is old enough to look through her book in a few years.

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I did a ton of research when preparing for my new baby.  I’d always known I’d try cloth diapers, and now I got the chance.

After checking out books on cloth diapering from the library, going to the cloth diaper store, searching the internet, and purchasing, I was ready for baby and anything she could expel from her nether regions.  Only problem, all of these information sources explained why I should buy (Save Money Save the Earth) and explained all of the choices in detail.  I could teach classes on All-In-Ones, Covers, and Pre-folds.  The only thing I didn’t find was how to use the diapers effectively.

We ended up at home with a large stack of pre-folds and really cute covers and a newborn ready to do some business.  We diapered, and then did what everyone does best with a newborn.

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We cuddled.

And got wet.

I found myself slipping disposables on the baby more and more when my husband wasn’t looking.  I was all for saving money; but was I?  All I seemed to be doing was more and more laundry.  My clothes, husband’s clothes, blankets, baby’s clothes, bassinet insert, bouncy chair cover.  Frustrated?  Yes.  Buyers remorse on all of the money we spent on the cloth diapers?  Big time.  Saving the Earth?  Not so much.

I went back to the store and for less than three dollars fixed all of my problems.  I bought a Snappi.

This magical little rubber t-shaped piece of plastic is what nobody tells you to get, yet it is integral to keeping your sanity-and your pants clean.  It locks the cloth diaper in place so it doesn’t come apart and allow baby’s refuse to seep all over your lap.

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I say “nobody tells you to get it,” because I was told I didn’t really need it if I was wrapping the cloth diaper correctly.  Sorry, but I didn’t and still don’t have time to learn baby cloth diaper origami.  This little piece of plastic helps me change baby quickly, have confidence she won’t pee all over me in ten minutes time, and get back to the cuddling.   Which is the only thing I really have time for.