Archive for April, 2006

Dinner

Sunday, April 30th, 2006

One of the many challenges I face as a blogger is that I have so many things I want to talk about some days. I sit down at the computer and start to type, and before I know it my entry is so long it’s overwhelming and I’m not even close to done yet. I end up saving it as a draft and it’s unlikely to ever see the light of day again. I have a lot I could talk about today – the kids, the knitting, life… tonight I’m going to force myself to just talk about dinner.

Dinner is simmering on the stove right now. I try to make something a little more involved on Sundays, something that takes too long or is too complicated for a week night. Tonight I’m making my dad’s yummy chicken recipe. I don’t make it during the week because the chicken and potatoes have to be fried and the spattering oil is too dangerous with the kids in the kitchen, and if I do it after Joe gets home then let it simmer for the additional 30 minutes called for, we’d be eating after Julie’s bedtime. Right now, Joe is watching the girls upstairs while I cook dinner, and I’m claiming that 30 minutes of “simmer time” as my own.

This dish was my favorite home cooked dinner growing up. I asked for it for my birthday. My dad won a cooking contest with it when I was tiny. It’s that good. I’m so glad that Julie can eat it, and she and Joe both like it almost as much as I do. I’m going to give you the recipe.

3 – 3.5 lbs bone-in chicken parts (I like to get just breasts, but a mix of everything is fine.)
1 lb small potatoes
2-3 T olive oil
1 T flour
1/2 tsp thyme
salt and pepper
1 cup red burgundy wine (I just use the cheap cooking wine from the grocery store )
2 T ketchup
1/2 cup water
a jar of pimento-stuffed green olives
two cans of artichoke hearts, quartered

In a large dutch oven or deep skillet on medium heat, brown the chicken in hot oil till near done – 8-10 minutes per side, then set aside. While the chicken is cooking, wash and quarter the potatoes. Brown the potatoes in the same oil – they don’t have to be cooked through, just brown on the cut edges. While the chicken and/or potatoes are cooking, mix the sauce ingredients – wine, ketchup, water, thyme and have them ready to go. Set the potatoes aside, then whisk the flour into the hot oil and cook for a couple of minutes till it browns a bit. Then whisk in the sauce ingredients and salt and pepper. Put the chicken back in the pan and spoon some sauce over it, then toss in the potatoes, olives and artichokes. Cover and cook on low heat for 30 minutes or till chicken and potatoes are cooked through.

Yum-yum-yummy! The combination of artichoke, olive and red wine flavors is amazing. I’m sure if I bothered to buy a real bottle of wine it would be even better. This makes enough that we usually have leftovers, and I make sure to debone and cut up the chicken before putting it in the fridge – it makes the reheating a breeze.

On the topic of dinners, I used the first few minutes of my “simmering time” to make a meal plan and grocery list for the week. This past week, I’ve been perusing two new cookbooks that I’d like to recommend and I picked new recipes from each of them to try. First, Saving Dinner: The Menus, Recipes, and Shopping Lists to Bring Your Family Back to the Table by Leanne Ely. I first heard of this book through the FlyLady’s web site. Ely has a couple of other cookbooks and e-mail recipe newsletters, and I had tried a couple of the recipes she samples on the website. She tends to use whole foods ingredients, and is a nutritionist by training, so her recipes are pretty healthy, with few processed ingredients and are fairly easy to make. I borrowed this book from the library and found about 6 new recipes that I wanted to try (after cutting out all the fish recipes, which Joe won’t eat, ones that aren’t easily modified for Julie’s diet, and ones that didn’t sound super appealing to me – 6 is pretty impressive.) And that’s after the couple of recipes that I had already tried.

The second book is a new one that I just ordered from Amazon. The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook: Two Hundred Gourmet & Homestyle Recipes for the Food Allergic Family Okay, if you don’t have food allergies in your family, don’t bother. But I am incredibly excited about this book because EVERY recipe is free of the major allergens. That means Julie can eat all the recipes in this book, with the exception of a couple that include pineapple. Kids who have food allergies tend to have more than one allergy, and I’ve ranted before about how allergy cookbooks tend to focus on just one offending ingredient. The meals in this book sound like things that we can all eat and enjoy together, so I won’t have to make two seperate-but-equal meals like I often do at dinner time. She suggests an avocado-based substitute for mayonnaise and creamy salad dressings, and I am really looking forward to making chicken salad again – maybe even tomorrow. I’m also really looking forward to trying her biscuit recipe.

So I went a little farther and longer than just tonight’s dinner – maybe I’ll get back to the kids and/or the knitting in the next couple of days. I hope you had a good dinner tonight too!

Exchange

Saturday, April 29th, 2006

Joe: What are you doing, Julie?
Julie: Jumping up and down and picking my nose.
Joe: Well, at least you’re honest
Me: sitting on the couch snickering, trying not to laugh too hard at my lovely family.

Julie’s been pretty into nose-picking lately, and Joe and I have decided to stop riding her about it. If we’re honest, everyone picks their nose some times. We just have to learn not to do it in public and use a Kleenex, then wash our hands. I know *I* don’t want to have a control issue over this one, and telling her to stop every time wasn’t working either.

I got to go to Yarnover today, and it was my longest time away from my family since Sophie was born – 7 hours total. Everyone here survived just fine without me, and I had a wonderful time taking Joan Shrouder’s entrelac class, catching up with my guild friends, and shopping the vendors. I even got Annie Modesitt to sign my copies of her books. Best of all, I got to come home and see my girls with fresh eyes. Laugh at Julie’s little funny comments and kiss Sophie’s little face and hands with an appreciation you can only feel after a break from the neverending day to day routine.

Cast-On-Itis

Saturday, April 22nd, 2006

In my world view, the possibility of having too many knitting projects going at once is questionable. I would much rather have lots of ideas floating around my head waiting to be knit up than face a dry spell of inactivity (like the one I had in the month or so after Sophie was born). I’ve been making up for lost time in the last couple of weeks, and it feels great, if a little crazy-making. Sophie seems to have decided, at least for the moment, that evenings are for sleeping. This leaves me once again with a few hands-free hours at night after the bare minimum of chores are done.

All that pent-up knitting energy seems to have brought on a case of castonitis, the disease in which the knitting can’t stop casting on for new projects. First, there were the socks. I always have at least one pair on the needles because they are an easy, portable project that I can work a bit on whenever I have to wait in a line, when I am riding in the car with Joe driving, or while Julie is busy playing at the park or whatever. You might be surprised how many opportunities present themselves if you are looking.

The current pair is a luscious, hand-painted, discontinued merino from Cherry Tree Hill . I ran into a little snag, though I ran out of yarn before I ran out of sock. (Why on earth did I pick this time to knit from the top-down when I almost always knit from the toe-up to prevent just this problem? I don’t know. I ripped back a bit, ordered some more yarn, and they are patiently sitting around waiting for some friendly contrasting purple to show up. See?

In the mean time, I had to have another pair of socks to cart around. I pulled out a ball of sock yarn from the stash and cast on. I’m using a ball of yarn that my best friend bought when she thought she wanted to try knitting socks, and it is – well, it is not exactly a colorway that I would have chosen. It’s knitting up nicely enough, but I can’t help thinking that it would have gone much better with her wardrobe than mine. I’m using a pattern called Dublin Bay from NWKniterati.com, which I found while reading The Yarn Harlot’s blog recently. (She knit her pair quite a while back – I was digging through her archives.) Notice that these are also from the top down – I was in a hurry to get them started to take somewhere that I knew I’d have a knitting opportunity; and I’ve used this yarn before so I knew I’d have plenty. Anyway, it’s living in the diaper bag and coming along pretty quickly.

Well, while I was digging around in the sock yarn, I remembered that I need to start a pair from the toe up to knit along with my toe-up sock class starting in a couple weeks at the store. I have a few balls left over from a super-cute sweater I knit for Julie a year or so ago, and decided to use them up. Not much to see here yet, but this is what the toe of a toe-up sock looks like when you’ve completed the short rows and haven’t yet started knitting around.

While I was digging in the stash, I also noticed that I’m getting woefully low on sock yarn. I mean, low on the sock yarn that’s actually screaming at me to make it into socks. Only 3 or 4 more pairs worth left! Never mind the entire tub of leftovers and solids waiting for a “someday” need. I did happen across some hand-dyed and home-spun alpaca that I bought from a Minnesota grower at the State Fair last year. Unfortunately, no web site or even name brand is listed on the ball band, but it is oh-so-soft and lovely and there are only 60 yards of it in worsted weight. I’m going to try to squeeze a scarf out of it. Wish me luck!

Remember that Kool-Aid yarn from the other day? Well, I started knitting it up into a pair of Glittens. They are going to be very loud, but still fun and hopefully cute. Julie wants them to be for her, so I’ll have to make up a pair of mitts for her with what’s left.

Finally, I do have one finished object to report. Before Julie (my best friend from college – not my daughter, although they are intentional namesakes) died, she started knitting. She bought a pile of yarn, some of which is the sock yarn I mentioned earlier. Another project she had planned was a shawl out of 100% silk worsted weight. It’s lovely yarn, although I don’t think I would have picked it for this purpose – she was a beginner, though, so the mistake is understandable. Still, when Julie died, her mom and sister gave me all of her yarn and knitting supplies as we were cleaning out her closets. I knew what she intended for this yarn, and today I mailed off this shawl:

I don’t know if Jenny will like it or not, but I feel a sense of fulfillment and closure. Even though Julie’s hands didn’t create each stitch, I feel that somehow her will and energy did. A bit of her is in that shawl and I sure hope that Jenny will feel it.

Now, what I really want to get started on is a new sweater for my little Julie for Fall. Even though she really doesn’t like wearing sweaters, and even though fall is a ways off – I want to have it done in time for the State Fair, and with two kids it could take me a while to knit up even a little sweater. I’ll have to finish something first.

oO, and sorry. No baby pictures today. I have some new ones, but Julie needs some attention and I’ve already spent more time at the computer than I should.

To Dye For

Wednesday, April 19th, 2006

For years now, I’ve wanted to play around with dyeing my own yarn with household food-safe dyes. To be honest, I’ve done it once or twice in the past for little projects when I needed some yarn. Once, I used coffee to dye the yarn for these socks:

and another time I used some food coloring to dye the itty bit of red yarn I needed for these socks:

But I’ve heard so many stories about how fun it is to use Kool-Aid and Easter egg pellets to dye wool that I knew I wanted to try it for myself some day. One thing holding me back was not knowing what I would use it for once I had it colored, and the other thing was just never getting around to it. Well, Easter came around again and reminded me of my desire to go all woolly mad scientist in the kitchen. At the same time, I’ve been throwing ideas around in my head for mittens to replace the ones I lost this winter. The two thoughts converged and suddenly I had a plan.

Last week I brought home the necessary ingredients from the grocery store along with my regular weekly shopping, I dragged the girls to the yarn store for some nice, white Cascade 220, and on Sunday I found enough time to get started.

Sophie was asleep in the swing (how could I deprive the world of a Sophie picture in a blog post)

Julie came in the kitchen to help out, and got to play with a big bowl of water and some spoons and measuring cups. What two-year-old could ask for more?

I knew that collection of Ball jars in the basement was there for a reason – they are the perfect vessels for small dyeing projects. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many empty Kool-Aid packages at one time in my life. We weren’t allowed to drink much of the stuff when I was a kid. At the time I thought it was horrible, but now I have no desire to drink the stuff or serve it to my kids. Heck, Julie is thrilled when I let her drink apple juice!

I split up the three skeins of Cascade 220 into .70-ounce mini-skeins so that I would have enough chunks of yarn to try each of the Kool-Aid colors I had bought plus each of the 6 pellets that come in a box of PAAS. For the Kool-Aid, I left the mini-skeins twisted and fully expected to get the flecks of white that I ended up with in the finished product. For the PAAS, I tried un-twisting the skeins and still ended up with the white flecks. It’s an experiment, and I think it looks cool either way, so I’m fine with that. Here is the first batch of yarn all set for a nice steam bath in my big ole canning pot.

And here is Miss Julie admiring the results. The PAAS yarn is drying on the swift (and little duckie is getting a ride on the top – I think I’ve finally found a place to keep that thing, a gift for Sophie from some friends, where Julie will keep her sticky little mitts off it). The Kool-Aid yarn is already wound and ready for knitting on the table. Notice the other stuffed animals watching the process – more gifts for Sophie; and if you look out the window you can see that our next door neighbors have started setting their large collection of lawn ornaments back out for the summer.

If you’re interested in how to go about dyeing your own Kool-Aid wool, check out this article on Knitty.com.

A Busy Day

Friday, April 14th, 2006

It was an action-packed day of fun in the Kang household. Really – it was a good day, just very busy. First, Joe’s parents came over to watch Julie while I went to an appointment. Only just as I was leaving, the appointment called to cancel. But Julie and her grandfather were already deeply engrossed in Playdough so I made up an errand – Sophie and I took a little trip to the yarn store – YAY!

When I came home, they were still doing Playdough. Thank goodness they’re willing to do Playdough with her, because I hate the smell of the stuff – especially after it’s been used, put away and brought back out – blech! Therefore, we don’t get it out nearly as often as we should. The in-laws quickly packed up and left, we ate lunch, and then there was time for another fun activity…



Even though we are godless heathens, dyeing eggs is kind of fun. I feel bad because I was a little uptight about letting Julie do much of the actual dyeing. She doesn’t quite fully understand the concept of “careful” and “gentle” and we came oh-so-close to ruining our clothes with the dye. As it is, we just have colored hands for the next day or two along with a dozen or so hardboiled eggs that I’ll make into devilled eggs for the family dinner on Saturday night. Yum!

Then, we had Sophie’s two-month checkup. Even though we’re a week late on the measurements, she’s still measuring much smaller than Julie did at this age. Since Julie was in the 100th percentile for everything, this is nothing to worry about. In fact, it totally makes sense since Julie takes after me (Big) and Sophie takes after Joe (not quite so big). Everything else about our little girl is perfectly normal and healthy.

When we got home, I even managed to squeeze in making roast chicken and veggies with mashed potatoes and gravy for dinner, and Joe came home a bit early and took Julie for a bike ride in the new trailer. Whew!

Well, That’s a First

Wednesday, April 12th, 2006

I was grocery shopping tonight (weeknights after toddler bedtime is the only time to go when you’ve got two little ones, I’ve discovered) and somebody STOLE my grocery cart when I was halfway through my shopping excursion. Let me just say ARGH! I had already finished in the produce and health food sections, which is where I spend the bulk of my shopping time. I looked around hoping to spot someone who had just been distracted and accidentally taken the cart. I walked around the whole store looking for the damned thing, and even had the idiot woman at the service counter page the store asking people to check their carts and if they had the wrong one bring it up front. No luck. I needed the groceries, though, so I started over again. Back through the produce and health food sections I went angrily collecting all the same things I had already picked out and put in the other cart. I turn the corner to cut through the meats, of which I didn’t need any, and bingo – there was the cart. Someone had apparently stashed it in a different aisle when they discovered it wasn’t theirs. At least I was able to retrieve my cloth shopping bags which in my ire I had forgotten were lost. Blah! A one-hour round-trip to the store, usually a nice quiet break from the neverending responsibility of stay-at-home-mom life, had turned into a two-hour nightmare.

At least I have some fresh, cute pictures to share with you. Are you ready, ’cause they’re really cute. Brace yourself.

First, a couple of Sophie and Julie laying together in the baby gym. Like everything baby-related, Julie wants it to be hers. At least she’s willing to share it with Sophie and seems even to enjoy having her sister there with her. Even Daisy cat wanted in on the action.

Today, Julie layed in that baby gym with Sophie for almost half of Sesame Street, watching it upside down from the floor. Note the extremely cute sailor suit on Sophie. An internet friend of mine sent it to us as a gift. Joe can’t stop making comments like “Ahoy, Matey” and “Shiver my Timbers” when he looks at her in it.

I love baby feet. I love Sophie’s little feet. It is so nice that the weather is finally warm and I can leave her litte feet naked and smooch them up all day long. Like everything else on Sophie, her feet are much more like Joe’s than mine. Shorter and stubbier than Julie’s were, and oh-so-deliciously cute. Yum!

Finally, a little bit of the tummy-time workout. Sophie can actually lift her head much higher than this, but look at all that hair and the little spit-bubble from all the effort of looking up at Mama and giving me the stare-down.

About Freakin’ Time

Tuesday, April 11th, 2006

It’s about freakin’ time that I got back in here and posted something. I know. The thing is, I have tons to say and talk about, but I know that what my friends and family want – and they are the people who are most likely to read this boring little blog, and certainly the most important of the readers – is pictures of the girls. My petty rantings are relatively ignored, and rightfully so.

As anal-retentive as I tend to be, I needed to get Sophie’s picture-page started and organized before I ran around posting any more new pictures, and finally I found a couple of chunks of time in which to do that. I have to say, life is still going so much better than I expected it to be – having two kids is still a cake-walk compared to the experience I had with one uber-colicky baby. But there’s not a whole lot of time when I can sit at the computer with both hands free and no toddler needing supervision. By the time Julie goes to bed at night, Sophie is wide awake for her evening play or crabby time. If Joe happens to be in the mood and available to hold her, there is usually some form of cleaning or laundry desperate for my attention. Which is why I’ve been away from the blog for over a week now.

Anyway, I finally updated Julie’s page with the last four months worth of pictures, and I created a new page for Sophie’s pictures. If you don’t see a link on the navigation bar to your left, hit the refresh button on your browser and it should show up.

Now I have to go fold some laundry.