Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Belated Birthday - Part 1

I think blog posting should work kind of like a 21-day billing cycle. As in when something noteworthy happens, you have a 21 days of grace to post about it. In this case, Griffin turned 3 back on September 29th, so I believe I am just barely within the grace period here. And since I'm working with such a tight deadline - also because I'm trying to cook dinner simultaneously - you will all please pardon the lack of creativity and humor.

Exceptional child that he is, Griffin enjoyed a rather extended birthday extravaganza this year. On the Thursday prior to his birthday, we took cupcakes and balloons to his preschool class and had a little party. One in which we were not responsible for the clean-up. I believe this is explanation enough as to why we are so happy to bring the festivities there year after year.

The theme was Spiderman. It is mere coincidence that he is sitting next to a pink bag with three Disney chicks on it. Just thought I should clarify that. Jeff and I have pledged to stick with theme parties inspired by their given gender until our kids turn at least 12. After that, if the boys would like to dress up like ballerinas and have a princess party, so be it.

Our big plan on Griffin's actual birthday (Saturday) was to open some gifts and then go to Chuck E. Cheese, followed by a trip to the NASCAR Speedpark for putt-putt golf. But during the gift opening ceremony, my really, really old digital camera failed to perform...

causing me to throw a fit of rage. It's had some on-going issues for over a year now so I'm at the end of my proverbial rope. See how it is incapable of focusing if any part of the object is moving? Here, I'll give you another example. This is Griffin playing with Moon Sand. Note what portion of the picture is completely out of focus.

Every picture is like that. In my world, there is no such thing as a picture of a child in which the child isn't moving. This camera was great when my kids slept all day, but now it only works for still life photography. Or turtles munching on cantaloupe. Which could be considered still life.

It was fortuitous that I did not realize the camera was not working until we were trying to get out the door to Chuck E. Cheese or my tantrum might have put a bit of a damper on several precious gift giving moments (all of which I have very fuzzy pictures of). Instead it prompted a last ditch effort trip to the camera store for a new rechargable battery which put us a little behind. Speaking of rechargable batteries, is it entirely unreasonable to think that they should come charged like regular batteries? Fortunately, my quick thinking husband packed the charger, but when we got to Chuck's, we couldn't find an outlet. Anywhere. Look around next time you go. There is clearly an abundance of electricty flowing through the place, but nary an outlet to be found. Alas, I have no pictures of Griffin's party at Chuck's either. You'll just have to believe me that he had a fine time. So fine, in fact, that we didn't get out of there until 2:30pm and then he napped until 5:00pm. Effectively killing the minature golf outing.
Over the course of the next week or so Griffin...
made roads out of Moon Sand with Carter,

watched Peyton learn to navigate the play area at Northlake Mall,

and showed his support for Calvin College where Aunt Emily coaches.

We finally made it to play minature golf last weekend, but Blogger is having some problems at the moment and won't let me import any pictures of the event, so I will leave you all here in suspense for a few hours. Or days. Depending on when I can steal another few moments to continue this chronicle.

(Any Blogger users out there thinking about moving to Word Press or am I alone in my frustration here?)

Friday, October 19, 2007

I Didn't Say it Was Good FOR You, I Just Said it Was GOOD

This recipe is OUT OF THIS WORLD DELICIOUS, and when you see the ingredient list, you'll know why. Please don't anyone forward this link to my cardiogist.

Chicken Alfredo

3 Tbsp olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch wide strips
4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 pt. heavy whipping cream
1 3/4 c. grated Parmesan
1 lb. Fettucini pasta, freshly cooked
2 c. frozen baby peas, defrosted, or 4 c. broccoli florets, lightly blanched

Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a heavy, large Dutch oven over med-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Working in batches, saute chicken strips until just cooked through, about 4 minutes. Or if it's 5:03pm and you realize your husband is going to be home in less than 12 minutes and you forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer, then you may have to cook it slightly longer than 4 minutes. Because a mere 4 minutes at that point is just going to get the ice melting. But whatever you do, DON'T TRY TO DEFROST THE CHICKEN IN THE MICROWAVE IN AN EFFORT TO SAVE TIME. No one wants to admit this to Whirlpool, Jenn-Air, Kenmore, or any other microwave manufacturer, but chicken that has been defrosted in the microwave tastes A-W-F-U-L. Don't be ashamed. It's not you. It's the whole defrosting process. Your buddy, the microwave, defrosts chicken unevenly so that some parts start to cook and become rubbery while other parts remain completely frozen. And then there is really no cooking method or flavor that can possibly over come it because not only can rubbery chicken not brown no matter how much fat you fry it in, it can't absorb salt, liquid, or any other seasoning. Worse, you've given our enemies; salmonella, staphylococcus aureus, campylobacter jejuni, and listeria monocytogenes, a completely X-rated playground upon which to gleefully frolic.

I took several microbiology classes in college. They affected me deeply. So deeply, I decided not to become an infectious disease specialist after all. Instead I pledged my life to fight the battle against various food borne illnesses related to the improper defrosting of poultry products. Cold running water is your friend in the quick thaw mission. Just in case I ever come over to your house, I thought you should know this. Science is at work here. Try to respect the sheer velocity at which bacteria can multiply.

Anyway, I'm going to assume by this point that the chicken is now browned, and those browned bits swimming in whatever is left of the olive oil is where all the flavor is in this recipe. Transfer the chicken strips to a bowl and add to the pan another 1 Tbsp. of olive oil and all of the garlic. Saute until fragrant and a very lightly browned. I think you'll agree with me at this point that it smells quite heavenly. Add the whipping cream to the pan and bring to a simmer stirring constantly to help release the browned chicken bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the shredded parmesan in and stir constantly until the cheese is melted. Then add back in the chicken and any juices that have accumulated in the bowl. Stir well to coat chicken, reseason with salt and pepper if necessary, and continue to simmer and stir until the sauce is thickened slightly. Add the defrosted peas (or blanched broccoli) right before you are ready to serve. Cook only until heated through.

If you were a real chef, at this point you would pour your drained pasta right into the Dutch oven with the alfredo sauce and gently toss it to coat. Here at Chez Freshour (Shay Fresh-Oooour) we are not so fancy...and the kids like their pasta a little less adorned, shall we say. So we just scooped up the alfredo sauce and unceremoniously dumped it over the fettuccini - like you would with plain old bolognese sauce. A word I believe in my 36 years I have never used in print before, and probably will never use again. Especially since I had to check the dictionary twice to make sure I got the "g" in the right place.

It's unspeakably yummy. Try it. You will not be disappointed. I fully guarantee your gastrointestinal fulfillment via the blogspere.

A note to my health conscience mother and my mother-in-law, whom I'm sure are reeling at the very thought of perhaps having to ingest this at my home over the next few weeks. Not to worry. I made it this last week. It's not going on the regular weekly rotation like Jeff's bacon and pancakes. Hee, hee, hee. : )

This recipe courtesy of my friend, Carol Reynolds. She also makes a mean Pig-in-a-Blanket.