Monday, January 30, 2012

My First Jelly Roll

quilt for baby Kutemeier
Two years ago this March, Erica's had a super awesome sale where everything in the store was a certain %-off depending on what time you shop.  The earlier you arrived, the better the deal, the better the selection.  I was there at 5 a.m. and scored 30% off a mountain of fabric ..!! Most of which I used for a friend's baby quilt - so gorgeous!  But on this day, I also bought my first Jelly Roll and pattern book (Jelly Roll Inspirations)!  Once I finished that stunning baby quilt (from this book - Happy Hour), I dug into my Jelly Roll.
not my jelly roll .. just "a" jelly roll

What is a Jelly Roll?  It is a roll of fabric, beautifully bound together, containing any number of fabric strips (typically 40-45) that are 2 1/2" x 44" in size.  The appeal to me was the fact that they were all perfectly matched.  I have a hard time picking out and matching fabrics sometimes, and I prefer to shop in "fabric families," because, like any family, they were meant to be put together ..!  Another appeal? You have significantly less fabric to cut, something I don't necessarily LOVE doing ... especially when dealing with all of the fabrics found in the jelly roll.  A lot of the tedious work is done for you!  I was so excited to get started, that I popped it open right when I got home ...
And I was disappointed.  Something wild must've happened when the fabric was cut into it's beautiful roll ... because the strips were not cut beautifully.  There were about a half a dozen of the 40-45 strips that were uneven - randomly wide at points, cut off too thin in the middle or on the ends - such a disappointment.  If it weren't months after I made my purchase, I probably would have taken it back. =(  Disappointment aside, I found a pattern that would "work" with my usable fabric, and I thought my jelly roll would look fabulous as this pattern - double bonus! ... so I began to match my strips into pairs, working around the "damaged" strips.  I sewed all 19 sets together, draping them carefully over an unused table leaf so they wouldn't wrinkle ... and they stayed there for almost 2 years.

Until last Wednesday afternoon!  While Thomas napped, I began cutting each of my 19 sets into 16 strips to be pieced together into 4-patch squares.  Even when Thomas woke up, he was content playing on the floor of the bedroom, mostly rolling toward Otto... his new BFF and laugh-factory... or grabbing at the long strips of fabric awaiting their turn on my new self-healing rotary mat that fits perfectly on my table..!!

Given the business of the days to follow - trips to the mall of walking + window shopping, mom's group knitting, play date at a friend's house, mom's night "in" at a friend's house, errands out to the market and grocery with "Dad," family movie night with our mom's group ... the little strips sat awaiting my return to my freshly cleaned and tuned-up sewing machine!

Today, all 304 little strips were sewn together into their 4-patch squares!  All 152 squares are in a heap on my sewing table, though, taking a little break ... they are (almost) all attached too ... hahah  I love the convenience of being able to just buzz them thru the machine with out cutting them apart!  If it weren't for a run-in with an empty bobbin, they'd be all stuck together.  It might be time to invest in one of these little do-hickies to make separating them a bit easier ... ;-)

Tomorrow?  I shop for border fabric and separate the squares .. pressing them out!


So I bought 1lb of organic spinach .. and turned over half of it into baby food .. score!  And, Thomas really likes it!  .. especially following a recipe from our baby food book - his first combination - spinach and sweet potato!

The rest of the week has been figuring out how on earth to eat the rest of that spinach with out delving in to the world of pasta + cream sauces! (I have, after all, lost 5lbs. courtesy of weight watchers!)  So I got a little creative one night .. making a sausage + tomato + spinach + (a typical serving) pasta .. tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper .. we both loved it ..!

The next morning, the BST+E was born.  What is the BST+E, you ask? The best thing since sliced bread, of course!  Think BLT .. but with S instead of L .. on toast .. with an egg .. for breakfast.  Both Ryan and I loved up on these quick and easy breakfast sandwiches 2 mornings in a row.

The trick?  Once you flip your egg (runny, smashed, scrambled ...), pile a handful of roughly chopped spinach on top, cut the heat on your pan, and cover it up.  The spinach will be perfect ... slightly steamed but not mushy ... softer than if you were to eat it raw.  You could add cheese, if you'd like, but it's definitely not necessary!

There you have it - spinach, tomato - vegetables for breakfast?! ... yes ... with the best breakfast (any time?) food on the planet - bacon!! .. and the protein of an egg. Perfect. Perfectly delicious.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Spinach & Beets

I had been torn for a period of time ... about making baby's spinach and beet puree ... and at the same time at a loss as to other choices I had to offer T to represent a little more of the rainbow of food colors - more than just orange, yellow, white ...  I had read in a few places that you should avoid making baby spinach and beets because of nitrate contents, and after a few conversations about it with Ryan, we decided to go ahead and make Thomas organic beets and spinach.  Ryan was quite confident that the nitrate content in spinach and beets would come from fertilizers ... the best way to avoid that? Organic!

While Thomas and I were at the grocery, we lucked out ... there were 1lb containers of organic spinach and "4-packs" of organic beets - perfect!  Once we arrived home, and T was down for his nap, I slid out the Beaba baby food system that my parents bought us.  So far, we have absolutely loved the Beaba - it is so slick for warming food (albeit sometimes it gets a bit too warm), thawing frozen purees, and steaming fresh foods.  I have been very very happy with it.  It purees like a DREAM - most purees we make don't need to be pushed through the mesh strainer, and require very little spatula-scraping while blending.  The blade on the bottom of the bowl is angled, which I think makes the food whip around and puree very efficiently.

The Beaba came with a few accessories - strainer/steamer basket, handy-dandy slip-in spatula to remove the basket from the bowl with out steam-burning yourself, etc.  It's terrific. If you are thinking about buying a baby food system? Seriously consider the Beaba.  It blows the JCPenny Cooks out of the water ...

The one downside to the Beaba is the size of the steamer basket .. but it is so hands-off once set up to steam, that it is simple to steam multiple batches and puree in one larger batch ... which is what I did with the spinach.  I combined three full baskets to puree in one step.  I chose to run this batch through the mesh strainer because of the stems of spinach.  I'm not sure if Thomas will like the spinach ... so I decided to freeze it all.  I also froze the steaming liquid, which is nutrient rich, because we can use it to make cereal, upping the value of the cereal and maybe introducing the flavour of spinach gradually.  We'll see!

Instead of steaming the beets, I oven roasted them.  Coming out of the oven, all wrapped up in foil, they looked like foil-wrapped rats!! Then that bright red juice came pouring out on the counter top and it looked like a murder scene ... after posting a picture of two of Thomas eating the beets (which he adored) ... it was decided that he looked a little too  much like a vampire baby ... one happy vampire baby =) (**No animals, humans or Sophie Giraffes were hurt in the making of and feeding of .. organic beets .. hahah)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mini - Snuggy Quilt

My sewing space - the best part? The View!
Well. Way back in history ... err ... ok not that far back ... but back in June - June 6, 2011, to be exact - I finished a gorgeous quilt for Thomas.  This quilt was a Big Deal to me for many reasons.  First, I had fallen in love with this pattern months before I actually bought the pattern and spent big $$ on fabric ... I even bought the entire set of patterns for the nursery decor and toyed with the idea of using different fabrics that were less $$ ... but because the colors were perfect, the theme quaint, soft, beautiful - perfect for a new baby - I knew I couldn't find a less-expensive alternative.  I allowed myself to buy enough fabric to scrap together a 3-sided crib skirt first ... and not the big ruffly skirt in the pattern, but a simple box-pleated skirt ... money was tight! I wanted to take a 6 month maternity leave! Hahah spending $8-10 per yard on fabric was definitely out of the question!

But ... one day ... probably shortly after my last day teaching ... probably around the time I realized that nothing would make me happier than to quit my job and stay home with Thomas ... and probably around the time I was tired of sitting at home with my feet up in the air ... I bought about $60 worth of fabric for this quilt and overcame my fear of applique! Hahah (that took a few phone calls to my mom, some google-research, and a long conversation with a woman at Ericas...)

After I finished this large quilt, I wanted to make a smaller clutch-sized quilt for Thomas ... one he could take with him anywhere with out dragging around 3-5 feet of blanket ... so I sat down with a pencil and paper, cut out an extra little bunny, dug through my scraps ... and came up with this cute little "Mini-Snuggy," as I've begun calling it.

One important feature was the satin binding.  My baby blanket was bound in satin ... or as I called it ... New Soft.  The reason it was called New Soft, was because I would suck my thumb and run my fingers along the soft edging of my blanket. After many many hours of this, the edging would wear thin, and Mom would have to put "New Soft" on my blanket.  I have a few very vague memories of her working at her sewing machine to put  "new soft" on my blankey in the night - old enough to seek blankey out and realize it wasn't there .. old enough to know it was either in the washer/drier or down the basement with Mom, sewing away to repair the holes .. eventually old enough to realize that it took awhile to break in the New Soft to make it feel just right again.  (Brings a tear to my eye thinking of going through these rituals and building these memories with Thomas)  Dad has told me about how he built my desire for New Soft when I was sick in the hospital with haemophilus menangitis ... being so, so sick ... one of the sensitivities to the illness was a sensitivity to touch ... and so no one could hold me or love on me, until they started rubbing me with my New Soft ... so Dad says they would reach their hands in and rub my little cheek with the softness on my blanket.  Heart breaking.

** correction - Mom says we were living on Woodland drive while our new house was being built ... after I had been sick and recovered ... and mom decided she just had to replace the binding on my blanket ... but she couldn't get it away from me!  So one night, Dad put us to bed, coming downstairs with my  blankey in hand, he said, "Here, put it on!" and while mom was sewing away, I came "bumping my butt downstairs," as mom described it, and sat down on the table taking my blankey right off the machine ... when Mom was done, I took it right back upstairs and went to bed!  I had to call mom, because I was near tears just writing about it! <sigh>

Either way - my memories made it important to me to have a satin-edged blanket for Thomas to grow attached to. We'll see how attached he becomes to his little blankey!

My first time quilting anything larger than a pot holder ...
One of the big challenges I came across was sandwiching the mini-snuggy to be sewn together.  I wound up inverting it (all right sides together with the batting on top - lining the space between the backing and front with the sating edging) and using many many pins to hold the sating edging in place.  Because I just trimmed my batting v. cutting it to the exact size of the quilt front (because of bad memories of running out of batting one time I didn't leave enough extra edging...) it made it very difficult to see where the edge of my quilted top was in comparison to the over-sized batting and backing.  I hesitated to put the batting on bottom (under the backing fabric) because it can occasionally get stuck on the feed dogs of my machine ... but perhaps I will try that the next time I sew a quilt together in this fashion.

I finally finished this little mini-snuggy ... and while it isn't totally perfect ... it is perfectly cute and perfectly sentimental. <3

Next up - hand sewing the little hole I popped it right-side-out through ... My little chicken (no, not Thomas) holds my favourite hand sewing needles ... My mom made it for me. Cute, huh?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Pho Real, We Made Lasagna

This afternoon Ryan and I went out to lunch ... to a new restaurant in town ... we'd been drooling over the name of the place for weeks ..!! So we were eager to jump in the car and hit the road.  Well, Thomas is outgrowing his ridiculously cute teddy bear suit ... so we broke out his snowsuit!  Needless to say he was a bit tired, and not too excited about being stuffed into his "Ralphie Suit."  But he's pretty cute, eh?  By the time we got to the restaurant (about 10 minutes later) he was fast asleep, sweating bullets!

The restaurant we went to was Bowl of Pho ... Never heard of Pho?  We made it for dinner several weeks ago.  It's a Vietnamese beef broth based soup with various ingredients - some pretty basic staples are rice noodles, been sprouts, cilantro, basil, thai chilies, and various meets such as filet mignon (raw or well done, thinly sliced), pork, chicken, seafoods (Ryan had shrimp, calamari and err .. squid?), pork belly, etc.  The broth is indescribable - think Chinese 5 spice meets hour-long-simmering with stew bones and other beefy cow parts. YUMM.  In the area? Go to Bowl of Pho ... be sure to order their spring rolls as an appetizer, too, because they are amaaaazing! Yumm. Can't wait to go back.

Here is a great recipe / blog posting about Vietnamese Pho .. it is also one of the recipes we freelanced off of when we made Pho over Christmas.

Good Boy, Otto.
He knows to wait outside the kitchen!
Following lunch, we zipped thru target.  At this point we swapped Thomas from the full winter get-up to just the fleece liner of his snowsuit to reduce sweatyness ... how easy with Columbia!  On our way home he passed out in the car again ... poor dear was so fatigued he let me unbuckle him, pull him from the car and bring him upstairs .. plunk him in his crib .. and stay sleeping.  He napped this way for an hour and a half ... awaking covered in sweat, yet still dry thanks to our Gro-Via diapers! Hooray!

After a fabulous lunch we decided to make lasagna for dinner.  We've been making it the same way for about 5 years, ever since some good friends of mine, Melissa and Elvira, coaxed me away from boiling my noodles.  Never again will I deal with slippery, slimy lasagna noodles ..!  I follow a simple variation from the back of the Healthy Harvest whole wheat lasagna noodles box ... It goes as follows:

Ingredients for the Sauce -
1 Onion
Various Vegetables (if desired) / we use what ever is in the fridge - today? zucchini and mushrooms in the past? carrot, bell pepper, yellow squash .. what ever you'd like.
1 lb (more or less) meat - again, what ever you'd like - I only only ever use hot Italian sausage ... but that's how I was brought up..! You could use regular Italian sausage, chicken, beef, I guess, although that doesn't sound too desirable to me.  Ground turkey? Sure. Spice it up with some fennel, garlic, crushed red pepper, salt n pepper?
Spaghetti Sauce - about 1 jar
2/3-1 c. water

Today I chose to saute my veggies (mushroom / onion / zucchini) in a t. of olive oil ... removing it from the pan ... and then sauteing my sausage separate.  In the past I've sauteed them together and it's fine ... but since I'm watching calories I wanted to be able to save my veggies from the fattyness of the sausage ... it worked quite well.  I was also able to control the "done-ness" of my veggies, leaving them a bit firmer than usual, while still getting that nice dark crust on my sausage .. yumm!  Drain the fat from your meat if necessary.  Combine your veggies and meat, pour the sauce on top (reserving a small amount for the bottom of your baking dish) and add the water.  Simmer these ingredients for about 10 minutes.

Move on to the cheese filling.

Ingredients for the cheese filling -
1 container (or more, if you'd like) Ricotta cheese
1 c. Mozzarella
1/2 c. (more or less to your tasting) parmesian cheese
2 eggs
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley (yumm we didn't have any parsley in the house ... I miss it.)

Combine these ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Make your lasagna -
Pour the reserved sauce on the bottom of your baking dish.  Lay down some dry noodles on the bottom.  If they don't fill the pan you can leave them as they are (they'll be fine, I promise), or you can break up some noodles to fill in the gaps if you'd like.  But I promise it isn't really necessary.  Spoon 1/3 of your sauce mixture on top.  Spoon 1/2 of your cheese sauce on top of the meat/veggie mixture.  Add another layer of noodles.  Repeat with 1/3 sauce and 1/2 cheese mixture. Add another layer of noodles.  Top with sauce mixture.  If you don't have a lot of meat/veggies going on at this point it's O.k.  Top with about 1c. Mozzarella cheese and a bit of parmesian cheese.  Cover your pan with tinfoil and bake at 350/375 for about an hour. Uncover and bake another 10-15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let it set up for about 10 minutes.

Serve with delicious garlic bread -

tiny little foil gift, warming, waiting 
Slice up your loaf of french bread (we used some day-old bread I had baked on Wednesday...) ... melt some butter in a saucepan ... if you'd like, grab a coffee filter and plunk in 1 clove chopped garlic and a pinch of rosemary (fresh or dried, your choice).  Scrunch up the filter and staple it closed if you've got a stapler handy, otherwise just smush it and it'll be fine ... simmer them together until fragrant.  Use a basting brush to brush the buttery deliciousness onto your bread.  Wrap your bread in tinfoil and place it on the back of your stove top where the heat escapes as your lasagna cooks up and you'll have warm, tasty bread to go with your gooey delicious lasagna.

butter melting w/garlic n rosemary
Sounds good, eh?  And not nearly that much work once you get into the rhythm of things.

A trick I've learned over the years .. cooking for 2 .. you don't need the big 13x9" pan of lasagna .. but you might be craving lasagna and stuffed shells eh?  So make your sauce .. and your cheese filling .. but make your lasagna in a bread pan or an 8x8" pan and use just half of your cheese / sauce mixtures .. boil your shells .. and stuff them with half the cheese, topping them with the sauce mixture.  Either the shells or the lasagna will keep beautifully in the fridge for a day or a few days ... and voila you've got 2 fabulous dinners in 1 ..!  You could also make 2 bread pans of lasagna .. lining one of your bread pans with parchment paper .. freezing it .. and then popping it into a ziplock wrapped tightly in saran wrap .. freezing it until you're craving lasagna again .. see? there are many possibilities. =)

Enjoy <3

Friday, January 20, 2012

Amish You

Holy Packages, Batman.

We have received many packages the last few days ... a new high chair, ritzy baby cereal with pre/probiotics for Thomas (surprise, they sell it at Target..), books bought on Amazon, our last Dinner of the Month for the 2011 year ... but on Tuesday I was watching for the mail carrier.  And when he parked his truck outside my door and started to walk toward the stoop I leaped from my chair and met him at the door.  I knew it was coming - I had known since Saturday!!  My sister Margaret had shipped me ...

... donuts!

Not just any donuts ... but red velvet cake donuts ... glazed and powder sugar coated!  Cake donuts are my weakness.  Red velvet cake, now that's like a luxury item (why? i'm not sure) you only see at weddings and special events it seems ... so when I was chatting with Margaret last week and she was telling me all about her red velvet cake donuts ... I must've been drooling and oo-ing and ahh-ing over the telephone to the point of gluttony, because she decided to send me some. In the mail. =)

 Amish you, too, Margaret!!


In other news, it has finally begun to feel like wintertime.  We've gotten a boatload of snow, a bit of rain, and a bit more snow.  Thomas and I sprinkled seed out on the sidewalk last week to feed the birds.  My little feeder doesn't drain well enough to keep the seed fresh, so we ran an experiment by just sprinkling it outside for them.  Each morning we enjoy spotting the bird-prints in the snow.  It's so sweet to notice them outside..!  Thomas has also enjoyed watching them from his sunny spot, perched in his high chair.  We went to our bi-weekly Breast Feeding Support group on Wednesday this week to weigh Thomas and visit with other moms, answer questions and pose questions of our own ... I was in shock to see that Thomas has gained 2 pounds over the last month..!! His typical weight gain is about 3-4 ounces per week ... so to pack on that much weight in a month is shocking!  Go Thomas!

Thomas is donating some of his boob milk to another baby in need.  We found a facebook group for Indiana that is organized by the website Human Milk for Human Babies (hm4hb), an alternate to the Human Milk Banking of North America organization I had contacted in December that said I didn't have 'enough' milk to donate ... and quite informal, as well.  I would definitely recommend the Human Milk Banking of North America organization to moms with a deep freeze who are willing to hop / skip / jump through a few hoops to donate 100 oz. or more, because I think it goes toward helping babies that are in the most need, as opposed to HM4HB that is not regulated by need, but rather a first-come / first-served basis.  A mom-friend of mine from the WTE June 2011 moms group I am a member of recommended HM4HB to me when I mentioned my desire to donate and denial from the milk bank ... she even provided me with the link to the Indiana facebook group! Wow. A facebook group for donating/acquiring breast milk!  Following her comment, a few other moms piped up about their positive experiences with the organization.  Ryan's only comment was regarding protection from liability ... which I suppose is a real risk, but considering the positive feedback from my mom friends, I went ahead and posted -

"Northern Indiana mom - I have about 3 gallon bags full of 3-5 ounce Medela and food-grade freezer bags available for donation. My LC (lactation consultant) and LLL (La Leche League) leader said it would probably be fine to use freezer bags and I have fed the milk frozen in freezer bags to my own child since freezing."

In less than 24 hours I had three women contact me asking when they could pick up my milk ..!! Wow.  I can't imagine feeding Thomas another woman's milk, personally, but it feels so good to be able to help a woman and her baby fulfill their wishes for breast milk.

I should note that I do have nearly (if not over) 100 ounces of breast milk in my freezer.  It's sort of a problem, because it's becoming difficult to store food in our freezer around it's bulk ... hahah ... but it's nice to have in case of emergency ... but we haven't had any of those emergencies, really, since September ... and since breast milk freezer bags (such as the Medela / Lansinoh brands) are so expensive, I eventually started to freeze milk in regular freezer bags.  They thaw super fast, which is convenient, and they are significantly less expensive - 50 for $4 compared to 20 Medela bags for $10!  This choice was the primary reason the Milk Bank would not accept the majority of my "stash."  I toyed with the idea of pumping and freezing everything I pump for a month in Medela bags, then going through the freezer temperature verification process with the Milk Bank and completing their required blood work to verify my health as well as Thomas' ... but in reality, I haven't been pumping as much as I was because Thomas has been waking a lot in the night (growth spurt? teeth? both?) and nursing back to sleep ... so in the mean time, it feels great to be helping a woman in need, and to have a few women in my contact list who may be interested in milk should I build up my stash, again!

Monday, January 16, 2012


Monday Night - Mexican Night?

It just dawned on me that we weren't the only ones noshing on Mexican food this evening ... Margaret texted me from her Date Night w/Bug - a woman was breast feeding her baby in the restaurant - score! ;-)   Breast feeding also came up in Madonna's reflection of the Golden Globes, as I learned while watching Access Hollywood by accident .. playing "squat-stand-squat" with little Thomas ... apparently there was a year she donned a black dress and was basically falling out of it by the end of the night because she hadn't breastfed her child in 4+ hours.  I know the feeling .. and I can only imagine how it feels on the red carpet!  Go Madonna!  I think this picture is from 1997.

 Anyway ... Back to the Fiesta!

Margaret and her BF skip off to Acapulco's Restaurant each Monday night for Date Night - $.50 tacos and giant mugs of beer. Mm sounds great!  Acapulco's Restaurant has the best cheese sauce - drizzled over any type of burrito you can imagine or ordered a la carte with chips ... it is fabulous!  They also have giant mugs of beer - dos equis amber, anyone?

Our dinner wasn't quite as exciting, but it was easy and very flavourful.  While zipping through Target yesterday I was pleased to see that they carried Rick Bayless' Frontera brand of taco/enchilada/fajita seasonings.  I am always drawn to Rick Bayless' name and brand because we know his food is amazing - we've been cooking it for two years thanks to his cookbook, Mexican Kitchen, that was gifted to us from a good teacher-friend of mine.  What makes them unique to those pouches of flavour you might purchase (McCormick frequently flavoured my life growing up - tacos, chip dips, you name it.) is that they are liquid, all natural, and chemical free!  ... they are also a bit expensive for my taste, considering we can make most of the sauces from scratch quite easily.  Regardless, they were on sale - $.50/off and buy 2 get a back of 8" flour tortillas for free!  So I picked up the green enchilada sauce (my all time favourite!!) and roasted tomato-chipotle steak taco seasoning. Sounds good, eh?

After discussing technique (dredge shells or keep 'em dry?) and contents (chicken or chicken + bell pepper and onion?) I set to work.  I like to sprinkle Penzey's chicken taco seasoning on my chicken before throwing it onto the George Foreman grill. I hate the foreman ... but it's easy and convenient because you can literally throw you chicken on and forget about it for a few minutes ... buying time to get other things done.  The chicken then emerges from the foreman perfectly cooked and crispy on the outside, adding some texture to your filling and a somewhat shredded look when roughly chopped.  It's nice. It's easy. It tastes good. <thumbs up>

I sauteed some onion and bell pepper until slightly soft and a bit blackened for extra flava - I think we called these fajitaladas (fajita + enchiladas) because of the veggie aspect to our stuffing.  I also love to pile the toppings onto my enchiladas ... so I sliced up lettuce, tomato and avocado.  Avocado is a must for green enchiladas after a day of Christmas shopping at the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis.  It is such a cool place to poke around ... a bit maze like, you can find just about anything you desire inside - childrens' items, incense and bath soaps, all-natural foods, sauces and goods from local farms and manufacturers, and of course ethnic food.  It was so hard to choose a place to eat..!  There is an amaaaaazing little Mexican restaurant named La Loma tucked inside boasting the best tamales ... but in my opinion, unless you have a wild craving, (or, in my case, I was pregnant and using that as an excuse to order the sample plate) skip the tamales and go for the enchiladas.  They were amazing. Topped with a dainty wedge of avocado. Mmm ... I have yet to craft an enchilada of that caliber .. but believe me, the day will come!

I assembled our enchiladas, deciding not to dredge the corn tortillas, following the package instructions on the back.  I made 8 enchiladas in an 8x8" pan ... I squirted a little sauce on the bottom and the rest on top ... and after 20 minutes in the oven (15 covered, 5 uncovered to get that gorgeous crusty cheese texture?) ... I probably could have used 1 1/2 packages of sauce, or perhaps I could have watered it down a bit with about 1/4c. of chicken stock ... The flavour was awesome, but they were a bit dry.Everyone had a little Fiesta this evening ... even Thomas, who had a few bites of avocado this evening.  We attempted to coax him to crawl over for a bite with a little dish of avocado pieces ... to which he scoffed ... at first ... but once I laid near him on my belly, offering him bites off my thumb and index finger, he began to squirm and wiggle.  He's got to figure out those little crawly legs!! I think as long as he is satisfied with his mobility via rolling ... he'll put off crawling.  I think I'm o.k. with that. =)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Bo Ssam Miracle

Snuggles before bedtime <3
Thomas was up with horrible gas last night ... 3 times ... it was rough, considering he'd been sleeping through the night for 2 weeks.  Needless to say, we all slept in after tag teaming our little gas bomb.  As mom put it - you should have tied a string to the kid so he didn't up and float out the window!  I just don't understand where the gas is coming from ... carrots? rice cereal? breast milk? banana bits?  He's also has been plagued with pretty hideous gas bubbles in his tummy after nursing ...

Our bird feeder
as promised
cute, huh?
We've been working on "weening" from nursing to sleep, because with the hideous gas bubbles come burp-time and a reluctance to nurse, leaving me high-and-dry with tricks to get him asleep since he probably thinks, "MOM why aren't you NURSING me!" while crying and wailing in my arms ... Poor dear.  Last night was the first time in a very long time where I was able to sit down and rock him to sleep. It was so peaceful and delightful that I was practically giddy coming down the stairs!


Yesterday morning I made my weekly call home.  It's become a ritual .. wake up on Saturday morning .. make coffee .. call dad.  He's usually at the pc playing games, listening to music, staying up-to-date on the latest current events or planning his day.  This time I caught him bragging about a recipe he found for Bo Ssam.  It sounded curious, and picking up the ingredients for the recipe quickly became a part of my daily plan.  He told me not to tell anyone about the recipe, though, because it is so simple, yet simply delicious ... that you can surely impress your friends with it ;-)

I followed the instructions listed throughout the article, delighting in telling Ryan about the story that preceded the recipe as it was found in the NY Times (sorry, dad).  Mmm ...  I would devour this beastly delight after a 10-course meal, too!

The recipe: Momofuku Bo Ssam

Some substitutions -

We bought a much smaller roast ... with no bone ... In hindsight I would go bone-in so it would be easier to identify that "fall-off-the-bone" stage that is so obviously a visual cue that your roast is perfectly complete.

Our roast was super salty .. using about half the 'dry brine' recipe .. Perhaps ditch the tablespoon of salt in the brown-sugar-basting that takes place at the end.

We could not locate the chili-fermented-bean paste or the chili paste ... so we created the second Ssam sauce using Sriracha (rooster sauce, baby - it's really good for everything ;-) hahah).  We both agreed that while it was deliciously perfect, the fermented bean probably added that last note of flavour we both craved.

Make a trip to your local Asian market for the ssamjang and kochujang ... as well as the Kimchi.

Read the story before you commit to the recipe. You'll enjoy telling your diners a story while sharing a meal together.

Chop Sticks - a MUST! (enough to convince me to buy some for us ;-))