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Archive for April, 2010

The Bumbo: First Attempt

Today Mom and I decided to surprise dad at work.  Dad isn’t getting home til ten tonight, so it was going to be his first day ever not seeing me.  (Well, really this wouldn’t be the case because of course Dad will be up with me at least 4 times in the night but still!).  We couldn’t let that happen and decided it was the perfect opportunity to bring Dad lunch and let him introduce cute little me to all of his co-workers.

So because we were taking dad lunch, mom needed a few minutes to be hands-free and cook.  So she introduced me to the bumbo, this funny-looking, blue thing that I have a feeling will be fun to chew on when I figure that out.  She thought maybe if I got to sit on the counter and see the action, I might be happy for a little while.  She wasn’t really sure what age kids are supposed to start the bumbo at, but knows it is supposed to be genius for helping little guys like me with not a lot of muscle control sit up.

First minute in the bumbo: Pretty good, right?  I’m sitting up without the help of my mom or dad.  I look goo-ood.  And I’m kind of interested in watching mom cook.  I’m just grunting mildly and looking around.

Fifteen minutes later:  Gettin’ a little tired guys.  This whole sitting thing is harder than it looks I guess.  I think I’ll try to whine a little and see what happens.

But we’ll call the bumbo a success because mom was able to put this together in the time I sat in my bumbo like a big boy:

Off to go give it to dad now …

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Sometimes trying new things comes in waves.  Like, I decided to try out having a kid and then two weeks later decided it was time to try out my hand at my first chilled soup recipe.  Okay, so maybe there isn’t a parallel there but I do have a kid who wakes every 45 minutes or so and so recipes that can be done really, really quickly … or in steps done over several hours or days … are about all we can handle these days.  And this chilled soup was perfect for that.  I charred and chopped the poblano chile a day before I needed it.  The rest of the soup came together in about ten minutes.

The flavor of this soup was nicely tart from the lime and cilantro.  The consistency was very smooth, but not overly decadent, due to the plain yogurt.  The pepitas made this work by added a juxtaposing textural element that kept the palate from being bored with all of the smoothness.  (I really don’t like yogurt because of the lack of textural inspiration).  However, this soup tastes RICH.  I served it for a simple lunch and found myself “done” with the soup before I was done with the lunch.  This soup, in my opinion, would work best as a very small starter to a nice, Mexican dinner.  In fact, I have the menu in mind but no way to execute it until my newborn starts sleeping longer hours.  So try this soup, but don’t plan on filling yourself with it or you might end up with a little too much of a good thing.

Cold Avocado Soup with Chile-Lime Pepitas
From Fine Cooking 103, p. 50
Serves 6

1 medium poblano chile
1 small white onion, sliced into 1/4 -inch-thick rings
2-1/2 cups lower-salt chicken broth; more as needed
2 medium firm-ripe avocados (6 to 7 oz. each), pitted, peeled, and cut into large chunks
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tsp. chopped fresh marjoram or oregano (optional)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 2 medium limes)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
Kosher salt
1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/8 tsp. pure New Mexico chile powder; more for serving

On a gas stove, turn a burner to high and set the poblano directly over the flame, turning it with tongs, until completely charred, 5 to 8 minutes. Alternatively, on an electric stove, heat the broiler on high and char the poblano on all sides on a baking sheet placed directly under the broiler. Put the poblano in a bowl, cover, and set aside to steam and loosen the skin. When cool enough to handle, peel, seed, and cut the poblano into 1/4 -inch dice.

Heat an 11- to 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, add the onion and cook, turning a few times, until soft and browned in places, about 5 minutes.

In a blender, purée until smooth all but 1 Tbs. of the poblano, the onion, broth, avocado, cilantro, parsley, marjoram or oregano (if using), 2 Tbs. of the lime juice, cumin, coriander, and 1 tsp. salt. Blend in the yogurt. Season to taste with more salt. Chill well.

Heat the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the pepitas and cook until they begin to pop and color a bit, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining 2 Tbs. lime juice, the chile powder, and 1/8 tsp. salt and stir until the juice has evaporated, leaving a film on the pan.

Season the soup to taste with salt and thin with broth if necessary. Divide among 6 cups or small bowls and garnish with the pepitas, the remaining poblano, and a few pinches of chile powder.

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Auntie Kim

My sister came and took care of us all last week.  And let me tell you, she was a lifesaver!  She cooked, she cleaned, she helped with Canaan … all in between putting in 8 hours each day for her office.  We were very grateful for all of her help and for the fact that she wanted to come up and meet Canaan so quickly (so did her husband who joined us later in the week.)  We appreciated the chipotle chicken tacos and tostadas, the margherite pizza, the french breakfast puffs, the corn, poblano, and cheese gratin and so much more!  She got an earful of first-time parent questions as we tried to figure out what to do with Canaan’s feedings and sleeping.  Thanks Auntie Kim!

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Father and Son Moments

We’re spending this week home just the three of us.  We don’t get much done in the day.  Sometimes we wonder how it’s 8pm when it seems all we’ve done is make bottles, wash bottles, feed Canaan, rock Canaan, put him down, pick him back up.  We’ve tried to take a small outing each day and each time it takes us about 45 minutes longer to leave the house than we planned.  But through it all my husband and son are spending time together.  Nate is doing an incredible job being patient, waking up to feed and change him, and just making things easier on me.  I will be sad for this week to be over and to be doing it all on my own next week!

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Most marinades start or end with the addition of soy sauce or lemon juice.  This marinade rests on some pretty different flavors, namely coffee and molasses.  While both flavors are known for having some powerful flavor behind them, the act of using them as a marinade on a sturdy cut of meat results in a pleasing subtlety of flavors.  There is coffee present, but just a hint.  And there is molasses present, but just a smidge.  Mostly there is good flavor.

Oh and the color, the gorgeous color that these chops turn thanks to the caramelization of the molasses against grill.

Coffee-Molasses Marinated Pork Chops
Originally from April/May 2010 Taste of Home
Yield: 4 servings

1 c. strong brewed coffee
1/4 c. molasses
2 T. cider vinegar
1 T. dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. lemon-pepper seasoning
1/2 t. ground ginger
4 bone-in pork loin chops (1 in. thick)  (I had boneless and they worked just fine too)

In a large bowl combine the first nine ingredients.  Pour 1/2 c. marinade into a resealable plastic bag; add the pork chops.  Seak bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  Cover and refrigerate remaining marinade until ready to cook.

For glaze, place remaining marinade in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil; cook until liquid is reduced to about 1/2 cup.

If grilling the chops, coat grill rack with cooking spray before starting grill.  Drain and discard marinade.  Grill chops, covered, over medium heat or broil 4-6 inches from heat for 4-5 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees.  Spoon glaze over chops.

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I am that mother

When your baby falls asleep in the middle of feeding, wearing nothing but a onesie and a diaper and lying on the couch you leave him … even though he is sleeping on his side on a potential ledge.  When you realize he’s really asleep and he’s gonna be there awhile, you cover him with the nearest burp cloth and say a prayer.  Yes, I am that mother.  The one who uses a burp cloth as a blanket and won’t wake her baby for anything.

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Not a typical side to appear in our house.  But I was looking for something less starchy, but equally filling to accompany our pork chops.  This recipe that had been languishing in the back of my “to try” section seemed to fit the bill.

While not a health food, I’d give these credit as a healthy alternative to the potato version.  I think they are a great way to get non-zucchini fans to give it a chance as the cheese and flour really mellow the zucchini flavor.  Without the sour cream they might have come across as a bit bland.  Another suggestion was to serve with a tomato sauce for dipping.  A great side for dinner, these could almost be served as a main part of a brunch or lunch.

Zucchini Patties with Sour Cream
Originally from allrecipes.com
Serves 4

2 cups grated zucchini
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
salt to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

In a medium bowl, combine the zucchini, eggs, onion, flour, Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, and salt. Stir well enough to distribute ingredients evenly.

Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Drop zucchini mixture by heaping tablespoonfuls, and cook for a few minutes on each side until golden.

Serve with a bowl of sour cream.  I added a bit of Hidden Valley ranch dressing mix to my sour cream for an added touch of flavor.

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