Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Veggie Tales - Part 2

I thought you would all enjoy seeing 6-week pictures of our little garden in action. Carter's corn occasionally gets beaten down by the rain, but seems to recover by the next day. The tomatoes are over 6-feet high and even our watermelon-on-a-stick (right there in the front) is thriving. Not sure what to do when it starts actually producing baby watermelons, but I'll figure something out. Maybe make a hammock for each one out of panty hose. Oh sorry, is the image too much for you there?

The sunflowers didn't make it. I had them growing behind the corn and tomatoes and I think they just got too much shade. Same problem with the sage. Our mutant tomatoes just shaded them out.
The boys aren't nearly as enamored by the whole farming concept as I am. Right after I took this picture, Griffin started stomping on the green bean plants at his feet. He was mad because he wanted to pull on the strings the beans are growing on instead of just holding onto the bamboo pole. (For the love of Pete, can you not just hold onto the pole for 10 seconds while I yell at you both to look at me and smile? Act like you are enjoying our garden.) Hopefully, the produce will eventually speak for itself...if I can save any of it from them, that is. If not, they are both destined for a life of squash. Punish them with meal after meal of slimy, revolting vegetables, yes indeed, that is my plan.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

My Constant Companion

I'm pretty sure Peyton is going to walk before her brothers. She's VERY advanced. Probably because she is home all day with her mom and we have absolutely nothing else to do except to think up innovative ways to get ahead of the pack. We're outnumbered here, so if we don't coordinate our every activity, the boys blow us over with all of their energy.

Father's Day 2007

For those of you who have been wondering how Jeff's new face looks AND what Peyton looks like in a bikini...wonder no longer. You'll notice I am not posting a picture of myself in a bikini. You may all thank me later.

Sure we did a lot of other things for Father's Day besides go to the waterpark, but this was easily the most fun. We're actually going to try celebrating Father's Day again next Sunday to see if we improve on the day as a whole, because other than the trip to the waterpark, the rest of the day pretty much sucked. I can use that word, right? Wait. Why am I asking all of you? This is my blog. But we're all wet and happy here, so try to think of us this way always.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

S is for Sucker.

This little beagle puppy followed Griffin and Cheryl (our friendly neighborhood babysitter) home from the park yesterday. For those of you who know me, I could probably end this post right now because you already have a sneaking suspicion as to how this story is going to end. But for those of you who don' on. She was very, very cute and tagless, which presented a problem. Our eager babysitter, who apparently is an expert on what people should do when a lost dog follows her to their home, took this picture. She was hyper (a statement that could be applied to either Cheryl or the dog) so it took an enormous amount of effort to corral her in order to get a glamour shot we could use for our ad campaign. Then I took Cheryl home, fed all three kids, loaded them all into the van, and started putting up "Found Dog" signs all over the neighborhood. I fully expected someone to call in immediately. In the meantime, I tried not to get too attached.

Alas, she spent the night in the kitchen. Jeff and I are both dog lovers, but it doesn't take even one brain cell between us to determine that this isn't the best time to be adding to the chaos underfoot by way of a needy puppy - although I will say, she is well on the road to being housebroken, which is more than I can say for some of the current members of our family. So this morning I called Animal Control. Six times. Three to schedule a pick-up, and three to cancel pick-ups. I just couldn't do it. I tried to focus on the word, "Humane", but once I started talking to the "Humane" folks, I decided it was a misnomer. Instead I took her to the vet who was infinitely more positive about the whole owning a dog experience. They scanned her for a microchip (none), gave her a flea treatment and a deworming pill, told me she was about 8-9 weeks old, purebred beagle, and was probably dumped by someone in our neighborhood hoping Melanie would find her. I do not need to be asked twice. I named her Roxy and told Jeff that the community at large had another 24-hours to claim their dog or there would officially be a 6th Freshour. This was his response, "Alright, sweetie. You're already emotionally invested. We'll have to get that fence up STAT." I believe he meant to say, "I'm already emotionally invested." but I let it pass.

So as I was trying to think of some incredibly witty way to end this post, which is basically an announcement for WE GOT A DOG! I got a phone call. Roxy is really Brownie (what kind of a dumb name for a dog is Brownie?) and she belongs to our neighbors. They are very happy to have her back. I was very sad to give her back. So sad, in fact, that I gave them a very hard time on the phone when they were trying to describe her and then a very stern lecture on how to care for beagles when they got here - which was way too fast for my taste. I was actually still on the phone with them as they were racing up to my door. But then when I realized Brownie really was theirs, I gave them the new puppy bag I had gotten from the vet. Because, clearly, they need some instruction. Now I am left with just a kitchen full of dead fleas. It is a dismal day in Melanieville. I would dwell on it, but someone has to make dinner.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Curried Couscous Salad

This post is mainly for my Mom and Joy, faithful readers of my little effort here, and fellow salad lovers. I hate to post a recipe so soon after Carter's creation, but this one is fantastic. I took it to a preschool graduation luncheon yesterday for about 100 people and folks LOVED it...mostly because the crowd was mostly vegetarian Indians and I think they were just delighted to see something on the table besides sweet and sour meatballs, but hey. Anything with curry in it cannot possibly be bad, right?

1 10 oz. box of instant couscous
1/2 c. sweetened dried cranberries
1 Tbsp. curry powder (one with fenugreek in it)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 orange, juiced
2-3 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
3-4 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced on an angle
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley (don't be tempted to use the curly stuff - for anything...EVER)
1/2 lemon, juiced
3/4 c. pistachios
freshly ground pepper to taste

Stir the couscous, cranberries, curry powder, salt, and sugar together in a heatproof bowl. Bring water (amount will be listed on the package directions) to a boil and pour over the couscous. Add the orange juice. Give it a big stir. Cover the bowl tightly and let it stand until the water is absorbed and the couscous is tender, about 5 minutes.

Fluff up the couscous with a fork. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir until everything is evenly distributed throughout the couscous. Make up to 2-hours ahead of time and kept at room temperature until you are ready to serve.

The original recipe is Dave Lieberman's and called for walnuts, but I had to question the curry powder-walnut combination. Pistachios seemed more "Indian" to me and they worked wonderfully. Also, toast the curry powder in a dry fry pan first until fragrant or it will taste raw. That isn't in the original recipe either, but it's a critical element. I didn't toast it yesterday and no one seemed to notice...except me, but I really noticed.

I also brought Joy's Spinach-Orzo salad (rivaled my couscous as far as hits go) a Pesto Tortellini salad (which Jeff hates and I love), 8 lbs. of little smokies (gag), and 4 gallons of Strawberry-Limeade. All in all it was a full day of cooking, and cleaning, and cooking some more (dinner) and cleaning. AND IT WASN'T EVEN MY KIDS THAT WERE GRADUATING!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Cooking with Carter

Firstly, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that before beginning this recipe you make sure anyone who could possibly interrupt you is otherwise engaged. In this case, my dad was at work, Griffin was sleeping, and my mom was upstairs putting Peyton down for her nap so I knew the coast was clear. You want to have both the time and freedom to let your creative juices flow. I generally find I am at my most inventive just after my mom has told me that I can have an apple and string cheese for a snack. How boring. This recipe I found to be both fun to make and delicious.

Milk Shake

1 c. whole milk
20 tsp. Strawberry Hershey’s Syrup
1 raisin
1 container of yogurt
Water (optional)

Directions: Get your sippy cup of milk out of the fridge. Remove top. Put more and more and more strawberry syrup in so that it can be extra sweet. I estimate that I put in about 20 teaspoons although I didn’t actually use a spoon, I just squirted it in. Stir it up with a straw. Then put in one raisin and two scoops of yogurt (I use Yo-Baby). The raisin is fun to watch sink to the bottom and the yogurt makes cool purple clumps. Lastly, add in a couple drops of water. I added in the water because I had it on hand. It was supposed to be part of my original snack. But water isn’t a snack, it’s a drink. Mix again with your straw. Enjoy with sliced apple and dried mango dipped into it.