Sunday, December 18, 2011

That DVD Mommie Tried to Veto, but She Got to See it Anyhow

Isn't it funny how kids can seem absolutely unimpressed and totally unaffected by something or someone, and then, much later on, even after months and months have passed, sumthin' happens and you find out that not only were they paying close attention, their feelings about the matter/person are quite strong.

Friday, December 02, 2011

"I Want to Eat My Pumpkin!"

Here are some things we've heard from our Jellybean over the last couple months:

It's the night before Halloween and we've finished carving our pumpkins:
"I want to eat my pumpkin!," she squeals as she grabs hers from the kitchen table.
"What?" we ask, kind of confused, "You want to eat it?"
"Yes," she says emphatically, like we're sooo slow, while shaking her little jack o' lantern held in her hands. "Let's make our punkins into pumpkin PIE," spoken with heh-heh-heavy emphasis on the word 'pie'.

We're in the middle of dinner and she's not interested in eating, stalling in any way she can:
"I have a secret to tell," she whispers to us. "Oh really?" we both say. Whispering now, leaning forward over the kitchen table, she says, "Yes, speesh spweesh calla fragelistic spweesh splah kaboom" (or something very much like that)" -and we all laugh. My honey-man tells her he has a secret for her too, and she's all excited and she hunkers down, so serious, so eager to hear the secret he has to tell her...
He leans toward her: "Eeeat youur peezzah," he whispers, followed by an enormously wide-eyed smile on his face. She giggles, puts her chin down towards her chest, maintaining eye contact with her daddy, and quietly shakes her head, no. She then whispers to him that she has a secret for him, her eyes big, all serious, but she cracks a little smile as she whispers: "Drink your wine!"

Her big brother, the angel boy-O, had left LV that afternoon to return to UT for the rest of his Thanksgiving holiday break, and we were driving home as she was coming to terms with the fact that he wouldn't be home once we got there: "Mommie, I hurt all over." Hearing this, I slowed my driving immediately, thinking she was ill, and I asked her if she needed me to stop and help her.  She began to quietly whimper and I could see in my 'spy on the kids in back'-mirror that her eyes were welling up with big fat tears, "No mommie, I'll be okay. I just want my big brother."

Talkin' Christmas tree lights:  I favor white tree lights, while my honey-man, he likes colored tree lights, so every other Christmas, we take turns.  This year it's my turn to have white lights on our tree. Neither of us said anything about this to Jellybean.  Well, we had bought our tree last Saturday and my honey-man put up its lights late the following Sunday night while our Jellybean was fast asleep.  The next morning, coming downstairs for the first time of that morning, she sees the tree all lit up and her face falls into a look of confusion... "Where are all the colors?"  And my honey-man whips around and points at me, "Ha!"

I'm looking for my wallet and can't find it anywhere:  Jellybean knows I'm looking for my wallet, and I've explained we cannot leave until we find it.  She's been watching me very closely, following me around, even trying to help me look for it, and she realizing that I'm getting a bit panicked...  "Mommie, are you upset?" Me - "Yes, sweets, I'm getting frustrated because I'm looking everywhere and I still can't find my wallet, and I cannot leave for work until I find it."  She smiles at me, mischieviously, "Mommie, I know where you're wallet is..."  - - - the short of what follows this admission is that she tells me with great enthusiasm that she threw it in the trash, and then looks at me all coy, when I don't respond well to this idea.  I calmly ask her if she really did throw it in the trash (I do not believe her), and she confirms, emphatically, "Yes, yes I did." I ask her if she's really telling me the truth, and she tilts her head to the side, squints her eyes and instead asks me if I think it's funny. I tell her, "No, it's not funny at all. If you threw my wallet in the trash, mommie would be super upset." She thinks about this for a couple seconds, shrugs her shoulders, and walks over to me and takes my head, "I'm sorry, mommie. I didn't throw your wallet in the trash. I just want you to relax mommie and laugh. Let's help you find your wallet. We'll find it, mommie, don't worry." (She's totally spoon feeding me my own approach to her own lil' moments of panic.)
Later, after giving up on the wallet search, we're in the car and I find my wallet, fallen underneath the middle console - - "I'm so happy for you mommie!", she beams.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Must Write this Recipe Down: Sinful Potato Soup

My honey-man's number one complaint about my cooking would be this:  I'm always making up my own recipes - - and I never write them down.  After tonight's dinner, it was demanded that I write this one up and pronto.

SINFUL POTATO SOUP:  Makes enough for 4-6 people.  To be prepared the day/night before you intend to eat it, so that the stock and seasonings are well infused into the potatoes... Note the actual ingredients have been bolded to help identify the needed items for one's shopping list.

4-5 large Shepody potatoes = you need 8 cups, thinly diced = also amounts to about 2 lbs.

The Specifics on the Dicing: Cut the potatoes lengthwise into 3/4"-thick, fry-like long pieces, about 12-16 per potato... Keep these long pieces all stacked atop each other and then cut them together crosswise into 1/8"-thick, thinly diced pieces . . . think small Scrabble pieces!  But be careful with your knife!
The Specifics on Shepody Potatoes: Larger and more elongated potatoes are easiest to cut/dice the aforementioned way.  In terms of potato quality, the potatoes for this recipe need a sturdy yet thin skin, and they also need a texture that will retain some firmness when cooked in liquid... Red potatoes lose their skins too easily, while the skins of Russets and Idahoans are too thick/rough. Furthermore, Reds, Russets and Idahoans, they are all too grainy, too starchy in texture, better for baking or for potato salads. A 'white' potato is best for this soup. If one can't find Shepody potatoes, Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn can substitute, but their smaller, rounder shape make them more difficult to dice like mini-Scrabble pieces.  For the total cooking geek (that would be me): Try this LINK re: Shepody potatoes.

As you're dicing up the potatoes, keep the diced potatoes barely submerged in 3-4 cups of cold water plus 1 teas. either Rice vinegar or White distilled vinegar to both prevent browning and to help the potatoes retain their shape during the cooking. The vinegar is a trick I learned via Cooks Illustrated. Once done with the dicing, throw the potatoes along with their water into a 5-6 quart stock pot on medium heat. Keep in mind that later on you'll need to be able to cover this pot with a lid and store it overnight in your refrigerator.

Immediately add 32oz of chicken stock - I use salt free, free range organic stock; I swear good stock makes all the difference!
As you prepare the rest of the following ingredients, allow the potatoes and stock to reach a gentle rolling simmer - - but do NOT bring it to a full boil!  Reduce the heat once the mix begins to boil. Hard boiling bursts the starch cells of the potatoes, resulting in a mushy, grainy soup texture -- another lesson learned via Cooks Illustrated.

3 small/regular shallots or 2 large shallots, finely minced = aim between 1/4 cup n' a 1/3 cup
Note: Shallots provide a nuttier flavor than onions and they nearly dissolve into the soup.
1/2 teas. white pepper
1 teas. freshly ground/cracked pepper (rainbow mix with green, red, white and black is best)
1/4 teas. red pepper flakes
1 teas. kosher salt (or to taste)

Place all the above ingredients into the pot with the potatoes and stock on medium-low heat for a gentle, rolling simmer, stirring maybe 2 or 3 times over the duration. The pot should be left uncovered, allowing the liquid to reduce.  I must repeat:  DO NOT BOIL! 

From the beginning of the cook time, to end when you'll turn off the heat, the potatoes should simmer for about 40 minutes, give or take, just until tender - - but NOT long enough for them to fall apart if stabbed with a fork. You can easily do other things about the kitchen while the stuff simmers. There's no need to watch over the pot.

Let the pot cool to a slightly warm temp - - cool enough that placing it in your refrigerator won't devastate the temperature of your fridge. So yeah, once significantly cooler, cover the pot and keep overnight in the fridge.  NOTE of REASSURANCE:  Don't worry if it doesn't smell all too great just yet.  It will be amazing once fully created!  I promise!

About 30 minutes before you want to serve your soup, place the pot on medium heat, still covered so as to help speed the re-heat, stirring maybe once or twice until it reaches a strong simmer - - we still don't want any uber bubbling boil here! Did I mention NO BOILING?! Once a steady simmer is reached, reduce the heat for a gently rolling simmer for about 10-15 minutes and then turn off the heat. Let it cool for about 5 minutes.

Next, you'll want to mash about 1 cup's worth of the potatoes somehow... either strain out some with a slotted spoon and mash 'em with a fork and return them to the pot, OR do what I do:  I have a long handled potato masher and I simply stick it down into the pot for 2-3 smashes into the pot's bottom. 

This last part requires a whisk: First dump in 1/2 c. real sour cream - - the full fat, tangy kind; this is no time for wimpy 'lite' sour cream people! Quickly whisk-mix it in and allow it to bring down the temperature of the pot.
Next, throw in an entire 8 oz. block, plus 4 oz. more, of cream cheese. Oh yes! And whisk, whisk, whisk until all the cream cheese has melted.  It may look a bit chunky/curdled at first, but keep whisking it and will smooth out as you continue to whisk at it. Shouldn't take more than 5 minutes, give or take.

Serve with a lil' Tabasco sprinkled on top each serving, or with some cheese shreds, or some freshly ground pepper.  Buttered, toasted sourdough bread is fabulous -more like essential- for dipping!