15 Nov 2011, 9:25am
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  • Of Food And Love: The Ways Of A Two Year Old

    I’m so glad that I blog about my children.  Because, honestly, I think I might forget half of their wonderful little antics.  They grow so fast and I mix my memories.  “Did Cy do such and such or was that Roma?”  Up until recently, I could not have told anyone exactly what my little girl was like.  She was just a little parrot of her brother.  He loves blocks.  She loves blocks.  He loves soldiers.  She loves soldiers.  He loves peeing on the driveway.  She loves peeing on the driveway.  (this is true)  My children were just a symbiotic little unit, no distinguishing features of their own really…they just worked together, round and round.  Until a couple weeks ago… 

    My children are SO alike and SO different it’s scary.  I catch myself shaking my head in disbelief, wondering how someone so little and full of life came from my womb.  Cy, as we all know, is a stick of dynamite with turbo thrusters.  And now, as you will all soon discover, Roma is emerging as my sneaky, determined, self-sufficient, spunky little weeping willow.  I call her a weeping willow because this girl can throw on the waterworks!  If I even raise my eyebrow at her funny, she is in tears.  Sometimes it’s hard to punish her because she’s so cute.  She will slump her shoulders and hang her head, the lower lip pops out and the tears flow.  She whimpers and sniffles and I’m standing there in the middle of her performance gripped with emotion.  Yes.  Moved, quite nearly, to tears myself.  Little actress, who in the next breath will whip around, and change the subject mid wail.  I.lie.not.  Then, like a little princess she will ask for a tissue for her “eyeths”.  (she has a lisp, just like Cy does)  She will dab at her eyes until the tears are gone and quickly move on with her life.  Just like that.

     

    Several times I’ve caught her in the fridge and I don’t just mean, the fridge door is open and she’s standing there, I mean. IN.the.fridge.  She is tucked in, with the door almost complete shut, sucking down Cy’s school drinks.  Her eyes are red-rimmed because she’s hardly catching a breath.  She knows that those are not to be touched, so she’s drinking it as fast as she possibly can.  Or, I’ve caught her under the bed, my packet of gum in her hand, furiously stuffing pieces into her mouth, wide-eyed, chomping madly.  Last night, she came into the front room and shoved her head under the couch pillows and was happily munching on apples.  We have a strict no eating anywhere other than the kitchen rule, here.  

    But aside from her spunky behavior she is also very aware and concerned for others.  I stubbed my toe the other day and was grumbling my woes she came to me and asked if I was “ok, mama? you ok?”  So sweet.  She cries if Cylas cries… although she doesn’t even know what she’s crying about!  She laughs if Cy laughs and he’ll bark at her sometimes, “Roma! Why are you laughing? You don’t even know!”  She likes her privacy in the bathroom, “mama, you goway pleasth.”  But you can be sure I’m standing outside the door to make sure our whole roll of toilet paper doesn’t end up in the toilet, on the floor or in various other places.

    My sweet, sweet baby girl.  She’ll be three this month and I wonder where her babyness has gone off to.  I catch glimpses every now and then, but she’s slowly leaving that world behind.  “No” is a the new spotlighted vocab word along with “Oh, commonnn” and “because, whyyy”.  Who are you?  And what did you do with my baby??

    2 Nov 2011, 8:45am
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  • Of Food And Love: Beef Stew

    ::Don’t forget to ENTER the Handmade Goodness Giveaway for Tata, the Punk Monkey::

    When I get a bee in my bonnet or a hunger pang in my stomach, I do something about it.

    Thank you Tasty Kitchen.  You always come to my rescue.

    In this case, it was a hunger pang.  My stomach wanted a good beef stew.  Like, a hearty one along the lines of Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon but without the extensive prep work.

    And  I found it!!  This is such a simple stew and we made sure every bit was wiped from our bowls.

    There are similar aspects to my first, very delicious and memorable, beef stew.  Browning the meat, for instance.

    The best part about stews is all the vegetables.  That’s the one part I think about the most, carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms…so delicious.

    Sauteed and then cooked slowly in the broth with fresh sprigs of rosemary.  Oh, that broth…Cylas couldn’t get enough.  I filled his little bowl twice with the steaming liquid.

    A little over an hour later, we ate.  The perfect stew for the wintery days ahead.

    Becca’s Beef Stew :: courtesy of Tasty Kitchen

    • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil (Divided Use)
    • 3 pounds Chopped Beef Stew Meat
    • 1 Tablespoon Salt (I thought this was a bit much so I only added half a tablespoon)
    • 1 Tablespoon Cracked Black Pepper
    • 2 teaspoons Cayenne Pepper
    • 2 teaspoons Dried Oregano
    • 2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
    • 2 teaspoons Paprika
    • 3 Tablespoons Butter
    • 1-½ cup Button Mushrooms (I used just regular white mushrooms)
    • 2 cups Chopped Onions
    • 1-½ cup Roughly Chopped Celery
    • 2 cups Sliced Carrots
    • 2 cloves Garlic
    • 4 Tablespoons Flour ( I only used 3.5 Tbl)
    • 4 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
    • 4 cups Beef Stock (I found that there wasn’t enough broth for our taste so if you added a little more liquid, like a half cup, it wouldn’t hurt)
    • ½ cups Dry Red Wine
    • 3 sprigs Fresh Rosemary
    • 3 cups Diced Potatoes

    A few quick notes:
    - Beef can be purchased as stew meat or you can cube up most any cut of steak.
    - I like to mix things up with the onions, sometimes I simply chop the onion I have in the house, sometimes I like to add pearl onions.
    - Any type of potato will work, I prefer the redskin potatoes for flavor and texture and they look pretty. Potatoes must be cut small – 1 inch cubes.
    - If you don’t want to use wine just add more beef broth.
    - Omit or add veggies as you wish. I use the large carrots and slice them penny thin but you could simply use halved baby carrots too. All measurements for vegetables are just approximate. I use 2 or 3 carrots, stalks of celery, 4 or 5 potatoes, just whatever looks right to me. It’s about what you want to eat most of. Add more broth/wine if you would like a less thick stew.

    Place Dutch oven on medium high heat and add 1.5 Tablespoons of olive oil to the pot. Spread beef in an even layer on a plate or chopping board. Season evenly with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, oregano, garlic powder and paprika. Place half the beef in the Dutch oven and cook until browned on each side (usually 2-3 minutes per side). Remove beef from pot and place in a bowl. Add remaining olive oil and repeat cooking with remaining beef. Remove beef to bowl after browning.

    Add butter and mushrooms to the pot to cook, stirring occasionally until well browned (about 3 minutes). I like my mushrooms diced very fine so as not to see them when eating my stew but you can simply slice them if you like mushrooms. Add onions and cook until caramelized again about 3 minutes. Add celery (finely chopped) and carrots. Add garlic (I use the jar minced kind – or you can mince your own) and stir well. Sprinkle veggies with flour and cook for about 3 minutes. Add tomato paste, beef stock, and wine. Stir well. Place 3 whole springs of rosemary in mix. Add the cooked beef and all the juices back to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, partially cover pot (I just turn my lid a little crooked) and cook for a half hour stirring occasionally. Then add potatoes to the stew and simmer for an hour or so longer, until potatoes are very tender. Be sure to stir fairly often, scraping edges and bottom of the pot. Give stew a good stir and remove from heat. Remove rosemary stems and serve hot. Makes excellent leftovers and freezes well.

    Some people like to serve their stew over rice or noodles, if that is your preference, enjoy!

    1 Nov 2011, 8:30am
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  • Of Food And Love: Free Candy Day!

    ::Don’t forget to ENTER the Handmade Goodness Giveaway for Tata, the Punk Monkey::

    Yesterday was Free Candy Day.  That’s what we call it around our house.  The one day in the year where most everyone is out on their doorsteps passing out candy, fruit, poptarts(?) and school supplies to the neighborhood children.

    Cylas was really, really looking forward to it all.  I know that it’s a bit controversial this “holiday”, but I’d like to post this to celebrate the fact that I made their costumes!  Hah.  I couldn’t believe I did it.  I think my ideas are bigger than my hands can make sometimes, so their costumes were quite simple.

    Hey, Little Red Riding Hood, you sure are lookin’ good…

    Who’s there?  The Wolf, of course!

    I’m going to eeeaaatt youuu *big growl*

    Noooo.  Poor Little Red Ridinging Hood runs for her cute little life.

    I made her cape and pants.

    I re-fashioned his ($2 thrift store) hoodie and made his tail. 

    That’s all.  And so went our Free Candy Day :)

    27 Oct 2011, 8:35am
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  • Of Food And Love: Braised Pork Over Rice

    ::Don’t forget to ENTER the Handmade Goodness Giveaway for Tata, the Punk Monkey::

    I never knew what the term “braised” meant.  It sounded really, really complicated and I didn’t want anything to do with it.  But in actuality it’s very simple.  Essentially you’re cooking your meat two different way in the same breath.  First, you brown it, then you put it in a broth of sorts to finish cooking.  That’s it!  Be sure to watch your meat as you’re browning it so it doesn’t overcook, but that’s all braising is.  Voila’.

    Whenever I have a recipe that includes flour and dusty cutting boards it makes me smile.  Don’t know why.  I feel like I’m a real cook or something…

     

    Dredge your pork pieces in the flour then nicely brown them in the oil.

    Dice up your onion for the broth…

    Once all the pieces are browned, pour in the broth mixture and set to simmer for about 15 minutes.

    I served this up with broccoli for the veg.  My family just loves these types of meals.

     

    Braised Pork Over Rice  :: courtesy of Tasty Kitchen

    Make sure you have nice, even thickness, squared pieces of pork.

    Make sure you have everything diced and chopped prior to starting this recipe. It moves quickly and it’s better to have everything prepared ahead of time.

    Heat oil in a large skillet. Mix the flour and corn starch and dredge meat in the mixture. Add half of meat to hot skillet and brown quickly. Remove and set aside. Brown remaining meat and set aside. Pour off excess oil from the pan.

    In a small bowl, combine the broth, soy and sherry. Add onion, garlic, sugar, ginger, and pepper, stirring well to combine.

    Add reserved meat back to the skillet with the sauce mixture and simmer covered for 15 minutes or until meat is tender. Serve over rice.

    Tip: Do NOT over stir the meat while frying. You want it to get a nice crispy coating to it. Frying in two batches helps avoid steaming the meat and making the coating gummy. Two batch frying allows it to crisp instead. Well worth the extra five minutes.

    Ingredients

    • 3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
    • 1 Tablespoon Each Corn Starch And Flour, For Dredging
    • 2 pounds Boneless Pork In 1 Inch, Bite Sized Cubes
    • ⅔ cups Beef Broth
    • ⅔ cups Soy Sauce
    • 4 Tablespoons Cooking Sherry
    • ¼ cups Finely Diced White Onion
    • 2 teaspoons Minced Garlic
    • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
    • 2 teaspoons Ground Ginger
    • 1 dash Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste
    • 2 bags (6 Servings Worth) Boil In Bag Rice, Prepared To Directions
    25 Oct 2011, 9:51am
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  • Of Food And Love: Gyampa and Great-Gyampa

    Winner of the Pieces Of Three shirts is::  Melissa Munn!  Please contact me with your address so I can send them to you, thanks :)

    My dad and grandfather came for another one of their weekend visits.  Cylas could hardly contain himself.  My dad and Cy are connected on a very, very deep level.  A lot of my son’s antics are mirror images of my dad when he was that age.

    We did a lot of fun things while the Gyampas were here.  Cylas requested “parent pick-up”, so I obliged.  This photo captured the pure love and delight my son has for my dad.  It is so very precious.

    My youngest sister was here visiting as well.  My weekend was packed.  We took time out on Saturday to go for a little hike.  I ran from our house to the hiking trail, 4 miles, then took the 2 mile hike with them.  It was very refreshing. 

    Cylas was determined to bring a suitcase and a bag along for the trip.  Why?  Because it was an adventure.  My son is Max…I promise.  He is the epitome of Where The Wild Things Are.

    We saw cool mosses and mushrooms.

    Giant leaves.

    Weird stacks of tree parts.

    And incredible scenery.

    Gyampa helped Roma up the steepest part of the hike, but she managed it on her own two feet, otherwise!  Such a strong girl.

    We slipped, ran, tripped and finally, 2 miles later, ended our hike.

      D gathered some flowers for me along the way and arranged a bouquet.  He’s so sweet.

    These may be simple memories and moments in my life, but I don’t ever want to forget them.  Sometimes, we take these times for granted and later, when we can not recover them, regret not stopping to redeem every moment we can with our loved ones.

    24 Oct 2011, 8:25am
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  • Of Food And Love: Making Strides 5k

    :: Don’t forget to ENTER the Handmade Goodness Giveaway featuring Pieces Of Three! ::

    Saturday was a great day.  I had the wonderful, awesome privilege of walking a 5k in support of a friend of mine who has breast cancer and will soon be undergoing a bilateral mastectomy.  She is 31.  My age.  Her name is Crystal.  I met her at the gym last year while trying to run my way through winter on the dreadmill.  We started chatting about California…then she invited me over for a little scrap-booking and our friendship developed from there.  We ran a 5k together earlier this year, celebrated 4th of July together with a group of her wonderful friends…she and her husband are such sweet people.

    But Saturday close to 50 of her friends showed up to “make strides” with her on her journey.  I wore my homemade *Team Tice* shirt.

    She was one of two special speakers who shared their stories.  It was a bit emotional.  She is one of the lucky ones.  It was by accident that she found that fateful lump.  She implored each of us women to make sure we’re checking ourselves monthly and to not make light of such a serious disease.  Cancer is no respecter of persons, it will attack who it wants…

     

    Some people showed up in their big girl panties.

     

    Others in their boas.

     

    But everyone was there for the same reason.  To “make strides” for the cure. 

     

    Crystal’s group had the largest turn out of supporters and the highest amount of money raised.  I was so proud to be there with everyone for her.

     

    Ah, the company of good friends, look how many people showed up for her.  It warmed my heart and I’d do it again, for her, too.

    17 Oct 2011, 10:19am
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  • Of Food And Love: Honey Grilled Pork Chops

    I feel like I’m the queen of “letmefindtheeasiesttastiestrecipes”.  I always challenge myself to find recipes that are good but don’t take forever.  They take about 30 min to an hour start to finish but I don’t mind because I know it’s time well spent.

    In the same breath I won’t think twice about spending two hours making an unforgettable gravy, either.  Julia Child, you ARE my culinary hero.  But back to making food that is quite tasty but not as time consuming (not all of Julia’s recipe are time consuming, so don’t be afraid to try them out).  I’ve discovered this amazing secret.  The key to making people think you’re a good cook is picking the right recipes!  Hahah.  *sigh*  Oh, all the people I’ve fooled into thinking I know what I’m doing.  It’s just a matter of scouring through cooking sites, cook books, trading recipes with friends, tweaking recipes you have, combining recipes…that’s all!  Now, in order to make those technically perfect dishes.  Go.to.school.  But for a stay at home mom like myself, I have fun choosing recipes that make bellies happy.

    These honey grilled chops did just that.  D was in awe because this dish was totally last minute and the chops didn’t get to marinate the full time.  They sat in the fridge for only an hour, I can’t imagine how much more fabulous they would have tasted with the full 4 hour marinate time.  mmm

    My husband is seriously a master griller.  The meat was perfectly cooked.

    I served these with fried potatoes and sauteed zucchini.  A total home run, this meal was.  Give it a whirl and let me know how it turned out!

     

    Courtesy of:: Tasty Kitchen

    Ingredients

    • 1 pound Boneless Pork Chops
    • 4 Tablespoons Honey
    • 4 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
    • 4 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
    • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
    • ½ teaspoons Ginger
    • 2 cloves Garlic
    • Salt And Pepper, to taste

    With a meat mallet, flatten pork chops to approximately 1/2″ thickness. Trim off excess fat and put them into a bowl.

    In another bowl, mix all of the remaining ingredients. Pour 1/2 of the mixture over the pork chops. Cover the bowl and marinate pork chops in the refrigerator for approximately 4 hours. Reserve other 1/2 of mixture for grilling time.

    Heat grill to medium-high heat. Place pork chops on grill, and baste with the marinade. Grill on one side for 4 minutes. Flip pork chops and baste again. Grill for an additional 4 minutes. Set meat on a plate for approximately 5 minutes to settle juices.

    Serve!

    13 Oct 2011, 8:52am
    cylas Of Food and Love:
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    Top of the list is: Handmade Goodness Giveaways Project! Please be sure to ENTER. Just click the link (when there is one) at the top of the most recent post! This project is in an effort to promote local and independent artists. Crafters, photographers, designers (of all types) -- man, woman or child all are welcome. Each giveaway will feature a different artist with a different talent, please join, if you will! Contact me: mommyhobbies [at] gmail [dot] com
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  • Of Food And Love: A school morning

    Having a child who goes to school changes the morning routine forever.  Cylas is pretty chipper in the morning (thank the lawd).  It doesn’t take too much to get him up and he’s always good for some conversation.

     

    Today he asked to eat Kix for breakfast.  So did his little sister.  This miffed him a bit.  “Why does she always follow me??  I dont.want.her.to.follow.me.”  I put my hand on his shoulder and looked him square in the eye.  “She is your little sister.  She loves you.”  He accepted that and then we talked about more important things like his dreams and firefighters.

     

    His clothing selection routine goes something like this: I pick it out, he complains and sheds a tear or two because I picked a shirt that wasn’t cool.  So, he picks out the “cool shirt and cool pants” and all is well with the world.  But this morning mama struck gold.  One can never go wrong with skulls and khakis.

     

    His socks are equally as important.  Today he was trying to figure out if it was a Spiderman day or not.  Eventually, he informed me that it was Spiderman’s birthday and so Spiderman socks it was to be. 

     

    The rest of the morning he was singing happy birthday to Spiderman…even while brushing his teeth.

     

    I have to admit that my least favorite part of the morning is the shoes.  I am not a fan of trying to loosen all the strings and hope that they are just perfect so his foot can slide in.  Today he was being silly.

     

    Thank goodness he taught himself how to tie his shoes, so most mornings, it’s just me wrestling to get his foot in and then he ties the shoe.  I can work with that.

    Lastly, the wait.  This is the best part of my morning, because I get to listen in on his conversations with himself.  He sings, talks, solves problems, schemes, makes noises.  It’s really cool.  I love my school mornings with my little boy.

     

    But most importantly, we pray right before he leaves.  We pray that he would make good choices, be responsible, show kindness and be a good example.  Have a good day, my Spiderman boy.

    11 Oct 2011, 9:01am
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  • Of Food And Love: Bell Peppers and Smoked Sausage over Rice

    Handmade Goodness Winner:: Sue!  Please contact me with your address so I can ship it to you.  Thank you.  mommyhobbies[at] gmail [dot] com

    They say: the more colorful your meal is the healthier you’re eating.  And isn’t this a beauty?

    We love bell peppers.  Each color has its own flavor and specific dishes that it compliments.  My wonderful friend Amanda made this for me years ago and it has been a wonderful addition to our table.  Most of you know that I’m all about the “quick and healthy” with a little bit of Julia Child in the mix.  (can’t say no to her — that would be akin to sacrilege)

    D and I take great pride in the variety of foods served in our house and the fact our children eat most every dish with gusto!  Sometimes, it takes a little explaining before certain veggies are accepted, but for the most part, open minds = open mouths.

    For this particular recipe it’s really up to the general preference of the family how much to use.  To feed a family of four, use two whole bell peppers thinly sliced and one medium onion thinly sliced.  And for the sausage, take your pick!  I usually use Hillshire sausage links (one whole package will work. the sausage is in a U-shape).  They have a great variety.  We use the smoked.

    Toss them in about tablespoon and a half of olive oil until they get a little crispy.

    Once they have their crisp, throw in the veggies.  But only cook them lightly.  The crunch in the bell pepper makes the dish complete.

    Serve over white or brown rice!  We love Jasmine or Basmati.

    28 Sep 2011, 8:30am
    cylas life Of Food and Love:
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    Top of the list is: Handmade Goodness Giveaways Project! Please be sure to ENTER. Just click the link (when there is one) at the top of the most recent post! This project is in an effort to promote local and independent artists. Crafters, photographers, designers (of all types) -- man, woman or child all are welcome. Each giveaway will feature a different artist with a different talent, please join, if you will! Contact me: mommyhobbies [at] gmail [dot] com
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  • Of Food and Love: The Dentist

    I may as well have said, “Cylas, you’re going to the tooth-ripper”, because he was scared.  Yesterday was Cy’s first visit to the dentist.  I picked him up after school and headed straight for the dentist’s office.  Cy was really, really quiet.  Like, disconcertingly so…  my child is only quiet when he’s asleep.  I lie not.

    “Whatchya thinkin about, hunny?”

    “The dentist.  I’m scared.”

    “What?  Why, baby, there is nothing to be afraid of…”

    “Well, why do I have to open my mouth soo wide?  Like ALL the way open?”

    I made reassuring sounds and he stopped worrying, for a little bit.  Then, I got lost.  Don’t ask me how.  This town has one main street that runs through then a bunch of side streets and alleys.   Cylas knew I was lost and asked me what my problem was.  Dude.  I don’t know, why do there have to be so many alleys and side streets?  I looped around two times, then, I found it.

    I snapped a couple of pictures and we started up the sidewalk.

    Cylas got distracted in the bushes behind me, then I heard him yell, “He doesn’t have a jacket on, mom, why?”  So, there I am, peering through the bushes, looking at some guy in a tank top, standing in the rain only to realize, he was peeing in the bushes!!
    I grabbed Cy and started hustling down the walkway REALLY fast.  Only to find out that we were at the WRONG dentists office.  Yes, after getting lost, looping in circles, spying on a urinating man, we managed to park in ANOTHER dentist’s lot and barge in.  Worst first dentist visit in the history of a five year old’s life.  No joke.

    No fears, we only had to walk three whole blocks down to the right office.

    The cool thing about living in a small town is the history.  A lot of places have original hardware, furniture, or equipment.  And this was just such a place. 

    The sweet dentist had to have been in his late 70′s and wouldn’t you know…Cylas noticed, too.  No sooner had his little bottom sat in the big chair he says, “You’re getting old.  You’re going to die.”  These are the moments when I would GLADLY welcome a fireball from heaven striking down and hitting somewhere in the room, making just enough noise to drown out such embarrassing moments.  Or, a sinkhole would have been nice…

    Mr. Amos, all smiles, turns around and says, “What?”  Me.  Trying to act like nothing happened tells him nothing is the matter…but he heard.  He repeated Cy’s words and I’m over there with my mouth open, kind of sucking at the air, not coming up with anything witty or even a transitional phrase like, “Oh, my, would you look at the size of his canines.”  Shoot. Me.

    Moving on, Cylas was obsessed with the little bowl that had a constant flow of water.  He wanted to spit soo bad.  Eventually, he got to.  Happy boy.

    The dentist was impressed with his teeth, said that his canines were a “healthy size” and then offered him a plastic ring for his troubles.  We left with a bunch of toys made in…well, whatever, we left with a bunches of throwaway toys, a happy little camper and an embarrassed mother who is seriously considering carrying large cotton balls in her purse for such occasions that her child opens his mouth to say anything unseemly.

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