Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse - part deux

Matthew has been wanting to watch this from sun up to sun down lately. He asks for Mickey all the time and throws a fit when the TV is off. Anyways, Jordan posted a hilarious post tonight about Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Some of you don't know about his bitter blog so I wanted to make sure you saw this post.

MMCH IS a super cute show and I don't mind watching it over and over. It's fun raising another generation to love that huggable Mickey Mouse and his friends (Mimmie - as known in our household). Matthew never ceases to get excited about the show and waves to his friends in TV land. He even cups his mouth, throws back his head, closes his eyes, and yells toodles when he's supposed to.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Indian Curry - Recipe of the Week

I'm going to start posting at least 1 recipe of the week. I've been trying to experiment more lately out of my 30+ cookbooks. So you'll hear about our highs and lows!


We went to our first Indian restaurant while living in Virginia. Our friends Heather and John were great food experimenters and found this restaurant. I would usually get Tandoori grilled chicken, Naan bread, and some yogurt dippings. I regret not trying that restaurant's curries as it was a really good place to eat. While we were in London we discovered "curries". Mainly I think our friends Paul and Lindsey introduced us and we went from there. We would buy some great bottled curries that we would mix with chicken and vege's and we found this great Indian restaurant called Khan's of Bayswater. We even took my parents to Khan's when they were visiting and they loved it. It's a cute place, paper tablecloths, nothing too fancy, but oh such yummy food.

At my work in London once a month this book company would come and we could order the books they had on display for pretty cheap. One time I bought this curry book and today we FINALLY made our first curry. I can honestly say it might be one of our best dishes yet. It was totally yummy, spicy, hot and so mouthwatering. Mainly one of the reasons we hadn't made curry yet was because of the spices called for. I found a lot of Indian spices when I went to Penzeys my first time and finally used my Garam Masala today.

Side tangent: Penzey's has the best spices I've ever had. I read about them on a message board and decided to see if they happened to have one in AZ. They had one in Scottsdale so I made my first trek there about 4-6 months ago not knowing what it was. This spice store started officially in 1957 and you can read its history here. You can order spices online so if you want to do that you can do so here. This store is amazing. You can open up a container holding each spice and smell the goodness. Their spices have completely changed my cooking. Their spices are ten times better than the regular store bought ones and cost about the same or less. I am slowly replacing all of my store bought spices as they run out with Penzey Spices. They are building one somewhere in the SLC valley to open this year in the fall/winter. I'll definitely let you know when it's open because you can't even imagine what a difference this place makes in your cooking. Their Madagascar vanilla extract is so amazing and has an actual vanilla bean in the bottle of extract. Their vanilla beans are heavenly plump and full of yumminess. These 2 items have definitely made the difference in my ice creams and desserts. If you visit me I'll definitely take you. My mom looks forward to going every time she visits.

Ok, back to our cooking...
Jordan marinated some chicken this morning which sat all day in the fridge. It smelled quite yummy, but I was still a little nervous that we were hoping for better expectations than we were going to get. We stopped yesterday while in Chandler at this little Indian grocery store and picked up Naan Bread (traditional Indian bread) and Jordan bought Basmati rice while doing our grocery shopping with Matthew yesterday (I had to do some work...ugh!). Basmati rice is fragrant and goes so well with Indian food.

Jordan grilled the kabobs tonight and I made the sauce and was still a little nervous when I tasted the curry in the early stages. It simmered for awhile and then I added the final spices and cilantro and mixed the grilled kabobs in with the curry. My first taste made me jump for joy and we were very impressed with ourselves for making such an outstanding Sunday dinner. I feel this would definitely stand up or exceed any restaurant dish in a great Indian restaurant. Jordan is such a great helper in the kitchen and is a really great cook on his own. Some of our recipes he even makes better than I do.

There are some more recipes I can't wait to try in this book. Next Sunday is Jordan's birthday so we're going to try some recipes from our Wagamama cookbook. Wagamama is a great noodle restaurant chain in London and their noodles are so yummy and to die for. We'll let you know how it goes. If you look at the menus on their website our favorites were: Gyoza side dish, chicken ramen, chili beef ramen (we might make this next Sunday), and my absolute favorite which I discovered at the end of our London stay was Chicken Katsu Curry and I can't find a recipe anywhere-bummer! They do have 2 locations in Boston so check them out if you happen to be traveling through.

Here's our curry recipe if you'd like to try. It's not as hard as it might look.

Silken Chicken 'Tikka Masala'
Here is an Indian dish with an unusual pedigree. It was, most likely, developed by Indian restauranteurs in the United Kingdom. Its closest relative in India is 'Tandoori Chicken in a Butter-Tomato Sauce', where the chicken pieces are marinated, grilled in a tambor oven and then folded into a spicy, buttery, tomato sauce. For the Chicken Tikka Masala', carried on the menu of every single British-Indian restaurant, it is boneless chicken cubes, already marinated and grilled, that are folded into a more conventional curry sauce. To make it, you must first prepare the sauce, then the Silken Chicken 'Tikka' Kebabs, and then combine the two.
This may be served with Indian flatbreads or rice. Serves 4

Curry Sauce
4 tablespoons corn, peanut or olive oil
1 small onion, sliced into fine half-rings
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
5-6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed to a pulp
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons bright red paprika
4 tablespoons natural yogurt
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and very finely chopped
12 fluid oz chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon salt, more if the stock is unsalted
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
freshly made Silken Chicken 'Tikka' Kebabs

Pour the oil into a large, preferably non-stick, lidded pan and set over a medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, put in the onions. Stir and fry until they turn reddish-brown, about 6-7 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic, and continue to fry, stirring, for a minute. Add the coriander, turmeric, cayenne pepper and paprika. Stir for 10 seconds. Add a tablespoon of the yogurt. Stir and fry until it is absorbed. Add the remaining yogurt this way, a tablespoon at a time. Put in the tomatoes. Fry them for 3-4 minutes or until they turn pulpy. Keep mashing them with the back of a wooden spoon to help the process along. Add the stock and salt, and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer gently for 15—20 minutes. The sauce should turn thick. Stir in the garam masala and cilantro, taste for balance of flavours, and add more salt if you need it. Whenever the kebabs are cooked, reheat the sauce and fold in the meat pieces. Serve immediately.

Silken Chicken 'Tikka' Kebabs (Reshmi Tikka Kebab)
These kebabs are very easy to prepare and have a delicate, delicious flavour.

1-1/2 lb boned and skinned chicken breasts, cut into 2½ cm/1-inch pieces
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and very finely grated
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed to a pulp
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon bright red paprika
1/2-3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
3 tablespoons corn or peanut oil

Put the chicken in a bowl. Add the salt and lemon juice and rub them in. Prod the chicken pieces lightly with the tip of a knife and rub the seasonings in again. Set aside for 20 minutes. Then add the ginger, garlic, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, cream and garam masala. Mix well, cover, and refrigerate for 6—8 hours. (Longer will not hurt.) Just before serving, preheat the grill. Thread the meat on to two to four skewers (the flat, sword-like ones are best.) Brush with oil and balance the skewers on the rim of a shallow baking tray. Grill for about 6 minutes on each side or until lightly browned and cooked through.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Einstein Baby

Matthew was an Einstein Baby mostly because I forced him to be. He had the Einstein swing (gift from Jordan's parents), playcenter (gift from my sister and brother), DVD's (which he loved), a few toys, and books. I do think he's pretty smart so maybe some of it rubbed off on him.

When Matthew was almost 1 month old I took about 30 pictures or so of him in his Einstein swing. I've loved those pictures for a long time and finally scrapped them the other night.

Awhile ago I also scrapped some pictures of Matthew in his Einstein playcenter. He loved that playcenter so much! He still has that same smile and crinkly eyes and unfortunately the exact same binky.

Our newest plan of attack is to move on from the binky. It's been hard since he's been sick, but we also cave way too easily. It's against the rules to have a binky when he's at daycare so we know he can go without it. Maybe we're just not ready for the fight yet? I've read some good strategies so we need to implement them soon.

He's getting over some nastiness again. He had a temp of 103 the other night pretty much all through night and woke up at 3 am crying his eyes out. He was having almost a mini-seizure and finally calmed down when I held and soothed him and went back to sleep. It freaked us out as he was so stiff and would not calm down. Jordan googled it and I guess it can happen when kids are having high temps. When we went to the Dr.'s he still had a temp of 100 and we found out he had a really bad throat and ear infections. This is the last time for infected ears so one more time and we are definitely seeing a ENT Dr. In some ways I'd just like to go the tubes route and get the surgery over with. I think Matthew would be much healthier if we could keep his ears clean and off the antibiotics. I hate doing this antibiotic stuff over and over. We have another check-up next week so we'll go from there.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Before Matthew was born, Karin was seriously beginning to question whether I was completely dead emotionally. Maybe I was just a typical guy, but she told me for several years that if I didn't at least cry when our first child was born, there would be no doubt. I wasn't sure what I could promise, because I really didn't know how I would feel. I'd had some friends/family say that they had an instant emotional bond with their children, and others say that it took time. I almost expected the latter to be the case with me, given my track record.

Two years and eight days ago, something in me changed. The moment I saw my son, it was like I had tapped into some emotional well deep within myself that I hadn't known existed. I was overcome in a way I never had been before, and to some degree every time I see my son that feeling comes back a little bit. Part of it, I think, comes just from him being my son, but I think a lot of it comes from the amazing little spirit he has and the realization that the father of my spirit has entrusted me with him and given me the privilege of being his father. I think I do a better job of that on some days than on others, but I do feel truly blessed to be a father.

I also truly feel blessed to have been raised by my father. Much of what I am - at least the good parts - are due to him, and there are other less-than-perfect parts of myself that I am trying to change and am grateful for his tremendous example as I do so. My dad has endured (in the best sense of the word) trials that are completely outside the confines of the relatively uncomplicated life I have lived to this point, and in spite of that (or perhaps because of it) he has a strength of character that I'm only able to emulate in my best moments. Underlying that strength is a complete lack of pretense, a combination that seems to be increasingly rare and one of those things I need to work on a bit.

Another thing I've been conscious of lately is that I need to be more willing to volunteer. Sometimes it's easy to convince yourself that you are somehow more busy than everyone else and be a bit of a "free rider," but I'm amazed at people who always seem willing without much consideration to stand up and get things done. I found out tonight that my dad has volunteered to be trained and become an ambulance driver in Beatty because there are not really enough now to keep it going, and I honestly wasn't really all that surprised. As I get older, I'm increasingly grateful not only for the things I learned from him growing up but also for the things I'm still learning now.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Coconut Cream Ice Cream

So I found a recipe for Coconut Ice Cream a few weeks ago and decided to make 1 batch of this ice cream for Matthew's birthday party. Oh my it was heavenly and smooth and if you love coconut you would L-O-V-E this. Seriously, one of the best ice creams I've made so far (right up there with the decadent chocolate ice cream).

My parents got us an Ice Cream maker for Christmas and we haven't eaten much store bought ice cream ever since.

The key to a really smooth ice cream is once you make the base is to freeze it for an hour before you put into the ice cream maker. I don't know why but this helps make the ice cream smoother (my brother taught our whole family this trick). Jordan made a batch without doing this step and it was definitely not as smooth.

This recipe is not low cal, but if you enjoy just a little bit at a time it can go a long way. It's so smooth and creamy and rich you really don't need to eat a lot to feel satisfied.

Coconut Ice Cream:
1 cup milk (I used whole for extra smoothness)
1 (14 oz.) can cream of coconut (not coconut milk)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut

Combine the milk and cream of coconut in a mixer, and mix thoroughly. Stir in cream and flaked coconut. Freeze 1 hr. Transfer to the ice cream maker and mix thoroughly. Transfer to freezer container and freeze again in freezer.

-Cream of Coconut is not coconut milk. It would be like substituting canned milk for sweetened consensed milk. It's just not the same. I had never used before and finally found at a specialty store in the liquor section for making pina coladas. It kind of looks like shampoo, but yummy!
-I found this set of bowls at Ikea that have been perfect for my Ice Cream. They come in a pack of three and include lids and are perfect for the freezer. They are cheap too!
-My parents bought us this ice cream maker. I love it. It's the perfect size and I can usually make 2 batches of ice cream in 1 day. Once in the morning and then in the evening. The bowl has to be frozen solid before you mix the ice cream so it takes a little bit to refreeze after a batch.

So if you have an ice cream maker and you haven't indulged yourself yet, at least start with a basic recipe and go from there. I have some great vanilla and chocolate recipes and I made a killer Oreo this weekend too. Email me if you need help ( I'd love to get you on the homemade ice cream bandwagon!

Enjoy yummy summer treats!