Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pizza Pizza!



When Thatdad first died, we ate a lot of pizza. Pizza has always been one of Thatmom's favorite foods and we hardly ever ate it because it wasn't great for Thatdad's heart. After his death, I immediately tried to bring it back into rotation as a source of comfort for Thatmom, and she readily accepted. So much so, that finally Thatboy put his foot down and demanded we eat SOMETHING other than pizza.

So we reigned in our pizza eating and it's been ages since Thatboy has had pizza. Long enough where I thought I could sneak some back in.

I call this our "kitchen sink" pizza because it has all of our favorite things on it. For Thatboy it means it has pepperoni and garlic. For me, it has artichoke hearts, fresh basil, and roasted red peppers. For both of us - lots of cheese!!!! (And for anyone keeping track, I'm now making my mozzarella with 1% milk and it is just as delicious)

Align Center


Kitchen Sink Pizza
  • Whole wheat pizza dough, parbaked for about 9 minutes.
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • turkey pepperoni
  • sliced onion
  • roasted red peppers
  • red pepper flakes
  • artichoke hearts
  • 1 cup basil, chiffonaded
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Cover pizza crust with tomato sauce and then cheese.
  3. Sprinkle with pepperoni, onion, peppers, garlic, red pepper flakes, and artichoke hearts.
  4. Bake 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling.
  5. Top with basil.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Busy budget meals



Over the month of August we weren't home much, and when we were, we tried to keep shopping down to a minimum so food wouldn't go to waste when we weren't.

And thus began our weeks of chicken. We'd begin the week with a roast chicken, and then I would stretch that out for as many nights as I could. We had chicken fried rice, chicken wraps, chicken stirfry, chicken and pasta..... But with the warm weather we've been having, one of my favorite uses of chicken was turning it into chicken caesar salad.

I've been eating a ton of salads this summer. There's just something about the cool greens on a hot day. And I've been throwing everything in them. My current summer fave is actually a caesar with feta and watermelon thrown in. But Thatboy isn't a fan, so most of the time I only make that one for my lunch.

I've also become a huge fan of "pizza salads" or "salad pizzas." I've loved these ever since high school when I became addicted to CPK's tricolore pizza salad - a super thin pizza crust topped with a fresh salad. To make it at home, I use a toasted pita which has the same consistency as the thin crust pizza. Thatboy takes his toasted pita and crumbles it, so it becomes more crouton like.


Chicken Caesar Salad
  • 2 pitas, quartered
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded chicken
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite size pieces
  • 1/4 cup Caesar dressing
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  1. Toss the pita quarters in olive oil and toast.
  2. Combine the shredded chicken, lettuce, dressing, and cheese.
  3. Mix thoroughly until all leaves are evenly coated.
  4. Serve with toasted pita.

Monday, September 21, 2009

You know what autumn means, right?

Chili season!

And those loyal readers who have been here year after year know how much I delight in being able to come home and whip up a bowl of chili, whether it's filled with beef, turkey, chicken, or even completely vegetarian. It's all I can do to hold off all summer and wait for the first day of cool weather to begin my constant experimentation that will last until next summer.

I discovered canned chipotle peppers in adobo in the winter of 2007 and have been using them fairly regularly in my chili ever since - I love the kick they give, which is a different kind of spice than the chili powder and cayenne we used in my family chili recipe growing up. Thatboy likes to add siracha to his, but then again he adds siracha to almost anything - eggs, potatoes, and there was the one time I let him make spaghetti and he added it to the jarred sauce.

My favorite part of chili is how nice and full you get from the meal itself, even when carbs are nonexistant. It's a surefire protein powerhouse. And to make it even more of a powerhouse, I add one of my favorite protein ingredients - tofu. This chili is an excellent introduction to tofu if you're a little unsure. Tofu is fantastic at soaking up the surrounding flavors, and in this case it is completely "hidden" in the chili flavors. Plus there's beef in the dish, so meatlovers won't feel ripped off.

Tofu Chili

  • 1/2 pkg firm or extra firm tofu
  • 3 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1/4 cup onions, diced
  • 1/2 lb extra lean ground beef
  • 1 1/2 cups plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo
  • 1 cube beef bouillon
  1. Slice tofu in half vertically, giving yourself two thin rectangles. Wrap these rectangles in paper towels and place under heavy plate for 30 minutes to drain of excess moisture.
  2. Unwrap tofu and cube.
  3. Heat 2 Tbsp oil in large pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook 5-7 minutes until soft.
  4. Add ground beef to onions and cook until beef is browned.
  5. Drain excess oil and add tofu to pan, cooking until tofu is golden on all sides.
  6. In a separate pan, heat remaining oil over medium high heat and add tomatoes. Cook until tomatoes start to "melt."
  7. Add garlic, peppers and bouillon cube to tomatoes. Simmer 3 minutes.
  8. Add tomatoes to ground beef and simmer another 3 minutes.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Challah at your girl!



Welcome to the comedy of errors that is my life. Leaving no stone unturned. On Thursday night, I was talking to Thatmom and we were discussing the holiday and my imminent weekend arrival. She mentioned that one of the women in her knitting group had advised her to pick up a brisket for the holiday meal - which is when it hit me. The holiday meal! See, normally the holiday meal is on the erev holiday - the evening when the holiday actually starts, but since this year that happened to be a Friday, when we were all scurrying off work and making our way to the homestead, we decided to forgo a Friday night dinner. Instead we'd have our celebratory meal on Saturday night. And silly me completely forgot that I was probably in charge of making the whole thing. Which gave me 1 day to plan a meal, pick up supplies, and make it up to Thatmom's house.

Because I am super woman, I accomplished this task by whipping by the supermarket after work and securing one of the two remaining briskets. From there, it was just a matter of figuring out what I could serve with it.

Once all that was out of the way, the task became "when in the heck was I going to make all this food?" For those of you not familiar with Rosh Hashannah, the day begins with morning services. Then you get a little afternoon break before Tashlikh - the casting of the sins upon the water. For us, this meant a service held beachside, and it's always been one of Thatmom's favorite parts of the holiday. I decided that I'd use that little break to cook and prep, and then finish everything up after Tashlikh.

So after morning services, I came home and got to work on the challah. Making it was bittersweet. The first challah I made was almost exactly 3 years ago. It was my first bread baking attempt and one I was completely intimidated by. You see, growing up, Thatdad made challah every week. We had a "challah room" where the bread would sit, covered with dishtowels, rising overnight. His challah was sweet, doughy, and perfect. There was no way I could compete. But with a little push and encouragement from Cara, I was on my way to making my very first challah. And it came out wonderfully. Thatdad gave me a few tips, and from then on I was baking bread and experimenting on an almost daily basis. As I began to gather ingredients on Saturday, I was filled with sadness at the thought I don't have either my father, or his recipe for challah. I added more sugar than the recipe called for - his tip from 3 years ago.

And soon after is when things began to go horribly, horribly wrong.

First there was the kitchenaid. I make no apologies. I use the kitchenaid to knead my bread. Not always, but a good amount of the time. It's just so easy to turn it on, walk away and deal with something else while the bread is kneading. Except, on Saturday, when I turned it on - the bowl went flying. Something is terribly amiss with Thatmom's kitchenaid and the bowl refuses to lock in place. Determined not to knead by hand, Thatmom, Thatboy, and I all worked at holding the bowl in place while the kitchenaid rocked and lurched beneath us.

Once the challah was finally in the oven, we ran into the second problem. A black out. Perfect. Not only did the oven shut off, but the electric timer wasn't going to be very useful at letting me know how much time the bread had left. And since we didn't know when the power was going to come back, we decided it would not be a good idea to leave the dogs home while we ran to the beach for Tashlikh service. So we cancelled Tashlikh and I used the "feel" method (ie - I feel like the bread should be ready) to determine when the challah was done.

Right as everyone else was probably watching the seagulls make off with their sin, the power came back on. Quick as a whip I threw the brisket in the oven. And about 5 minutes later, the power went out again. Talk about having a bad day in the kitchen!

Lucky for me, although I seemed to have incurred the ire of the kitchen gods, everything turned out fantastic.

The challah:


The brisket:


Pineapple Kugel:


To show his gratitude (and because he was too hungry to wait for Thatmom and I to get back from our run), Thatboy made breakfast this morning. Since I've known him, Thatboy has never made breakfast. And he doesn't quite know how. When I suggested he make some french toast from the challah, he looked at me with wide, questioning eyes. So I made him up the egg batter, told him to dip the bread and fry it in a pan, and headed out the door with Thatmom.



We came home to a dish of perfectly browned french toasts! Nice work Thatboy!


Thatmom was a little jealous I was taking pictures of Thatboy's french toast, and pointed out that she had made the lattes for our breakfast. The sweet little barista demanded I take a picture of her contribution also.



L'Shana Tova everyone! Happy New Year!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The fruits of summer

Be careful - we are getting dangerously close to autumn. The time of year filled with apples and cider, pumpkin and chili.

I wanted to get one more summer treat in before the summer season is officially over - and mother nature must agree with me, because we're looking forward to another SUPER hot week coming up. Sounds like someone else isn't quite ready for autumn either.

Fresh berries are one of my favorite parts of summer. And I've been using them on an almost daily basis. Especially when I can get a carton of strawberries or raspberries for a mere $.99! Which means we've been having sorbets, ice cream, and of course, frozen berry pie. Thathouse has turned into a regular ice cream shop, and Thatboy loves my nightly experimentations. He doesn't even mind the fact that most of these fresh berry deserts are *gasp* relatively healthy! Sorbet with sweetness coming from the fresh fruit, ice cream made with half and half and skim milk, and berry pie made with fat free cool whip (although this last one is a bit of a cheat since sweetened condensed milk isn't exactly what I'd call healthy.......although we're both in love with it.)

Happy end of summer y'all!


Frozen Berry Pie
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 cups raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries
  • 1 container of fat free cool whip
  • premade graham cracker pie crust
  • 2 cups strawberries, halved
  1. Mix condensed milk and lemon juice.
  2. Stir in raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries.
  3. Fold in the cool whip and gently stir to disperse the berries.
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared crust.
  5. Freeze overnight.
  6. Top with strawberry halves.

Friday, September 18, 2009

To Market, to Market, to buy a fine pig

For our second restaurant week dinner, Thatboy and I decided to stay closer to home. San Diego gets a bad rap for restaurants, and North County bears the brunt of most of this untruth. While I can definitely say I've eaten at my fair share of terrible North County "hot spots," I can also attest to the fact that there are more than a few gems.

I've been dying to go to Market for a very long time. Since it's so close, we pass it on a fairly regular basis, and each time, I point to it and say "I want to eat there." Thatboy knows this routine by heart.

So as soon as restaurant week was announced, I made us reservations.



The inside of Market is dark, draped in heavy red curtains, with beaded light fixtures, making us feel like we were eating inside a gypsy's tent. When we first sat down, the curtains and doors were open, because the woman at the table next to us was claustrophobic and the heavy draping was bothering her.



Shortly after we were seated, a basket of bread and corn muffins was brought over. The bread was perfectly sweet, which Thatboy loves, and I could swear the sweetness had a tinge of anise to it.

Then came the amuse bouche - salmon with capers and creme on a homemade lemon soaked potato chip. There are definitely some perks to dining with me, which Thatboy appreciated since he got to eat both of them.





We both had a really hard time choosing an appetizer, since they all looked amazingly good. Thatboy began with a sweet corn soup with a carnitas taco. We discussed the fact that neither of us usually likes hard tacos, but this one was fantastic. The shell seemed to melt right into the meat - not too oily, not too dry.



I had the blue cheese souffle with a fugi apple salad. I loved going back and forth between the rich, cheesy souffle and the fresh and light salad. Crisp-tender-sweet-tangy. Thatboy isn't always a fan of blue cheeses, they're sometimes too flavorful for him, but he really liked this souffle - although between the two of us, we still couldn't finish it. And this would be a good time to point out the HUGE portion sizes we were given, which isn't always the case with restaurant week menus.



As is indicated by the title of this post, I had pork for dinner. Well, to be more exact I had pork weinerschnitzel. I knew I was going to have it as soon as I saw it was an option. I haven't had a fantastic schnitzel since Austria. This was as far from traditional Austrian fare as you could get. And phenomenal in its own right. Served with heirloom tomatoes, and an "up" egg. Which Thatboy figured out probably meant sunny side up. I thought it meant served in a martini glass, with no ice.



Thatboy had the salmon with lobster tortellini. He thought both the lobster and tortellini were fabulous, but after our bread, appetizers, and his potato chips neither of us could finish our meals. Plus, there was dessert to think about.



Thatboy had the lemon pudding cake - remember when he told me he didn't like lemon desserts? Yeah, he forgot too. He forgets that a lot. He thought it was really sweet - and did a little sugar shake after eating it. And then didn't sleep for 14 days.



I had the strawberry cheesecake creamsicle - which was strawberry sorbet atop cheesecake ice cream. It reminds me of Thatmom and my favorite summer dessert - raspberry sorbet with vanilla ice cream. Mine also came with a "cardamon" doughnut, which was delicious, but didn't taste cardmon-y at all. Instead, it tasted like a churro. Yummy, fried dough goodness.



I was so glad we finally got to try Market, and that it lived up to all my expectations. Thatboy also appreciated the fact that we were "home again, home again, jiggidy jig", which means we'll be going "to market, to market" again.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

If they serve Italian food, then why is the name Spanish?

Thatboy has a lot of fantastic qualities, but foreign language skill is not one of them. In fact, even though he’s the one with high school Spanish under his belt, I had to point out that “Cucina Urbana” was in fact Italian, and not Spanish.

When restaurant week first started, I was in my first year of law school. And we poor students took advantage of the super cheap meals. A group of us hit up the restaurant “Laurel” which was super hoity toity million dollars a plate kind of place. Well, maybe not quite - but the dark chandelier lit local with leather armchairs at the tables, serving foie gras and caviar certainly seemed, to all of us, a bit out of our element.

Fast forward a few years and Laurel is no longer. Even with a makeover a year or so back, the restaurant wasn’t able to keep up with it’s younger, hipper neighbors. Now Cucina Urbana, owned by the same group, has moved in.


It was kind of fun to go back to the same place I had been for restaurant week years before, with a completely different feel to it. The place looks completely different - although our waiter pointed out we were seated in the same white leather chairs, and he confided that the chandelier at the desk was the same as before “just covered in more stuff.”


Cucina Urbana has the feel of a neighborhood bistro, someplace you’d pop into after work for a quick easy dinner. And I think they relish this idea, with a menu that boasts “nothing over $20" and specials almost every night of the week, including a $30 takeout night which includes pizza and a bottle of wine.

And wine is definitely a big part of the restaurant’s personality, as it is attached to its own winestore - supplying both your pantry and the wine list for the restaurant. The wine store sells at normal, grocery store prices and the restaurant charges a $7 corkage fee - which still makes bottles cheaper than at most restaurants.

But once Thatboy and I saw the cocktail list, we knew we’d be bypassing the bottles of wine. I am such a mad fan of places with housemade liquors and specialty drinks. It’s definitely the cook/mad scientist in me. Cucina Urbana makes their own vodkas, gins, grappas, and burbons infused with fruits and herbs. And they use fresh fruits and herbs in their signature cocktails. After discussion with our waiter, Thatboy decided to go with one of the infused alcohols - the vanilla bean bourbon, while I decided to try the very popular rosebud- vodka, muddled watermelon, and rosemary. Neither Thatboy nor I could really taste any vanilla in his bourbon, or rosemary in my rosebud, but we both loved the muddled watermelon. Thatboy remarked my drink was more like candy - which is my favorite kind of drink!


The Rosebud

Vanilla Bean Bourbon

I was very pleasantly surprised when we were looking over our menus. Normally with restaurant week you’re given a choice of 3 appetizers, 3 entrees, and 3 desserts. Many of my favorite restaurants have expanded on their “restaurant week menu” and Cucina Urbana was one that followed suit. Instead of limiting our choices, they pretty much included everything on the menu! Which was great, because Thatboy wasn’t very impressed with the 3 entrees we thought were going to be offered and had been eyeing the pizzas since we came in.

This restaurant week (the second of the year) is being sponsored in part by Fresh Express bagged salad (I know, right?) So Thatboy decided to start off his meal with their chopped house salad. I thought it tasted a little Olive Garden-y with the iceberg lettuce, but Thatboy loved it and proclaimed it the best salad he’s had in a long time.


Since I’m a sucker for anything with the word “gnocchi” in it, I started with the ricotta gnocchi, which were the best gnocchi I’ve had in a long time. Thatboy said he’s never had gnocchi like this, and he was right. Big round pillows stuffed with ricotta cheese in a brown butter amaretti sauce with crispy sage leaves. A mess of contradictions in my mouth - they were salty and sweet, crispy and creamy, buttery and tangy. I could have made a meal from this alone!



For the second course, I had the duck confit tagliatelle with roasted parsnips and pancetta. I thought each ingredient individually was great, but I wasn’t bowled over by how they interacted in my bowl. The truffle oil gave the dish a creamy, richness, making it feel heavier than it actually was. The pancetta was perfectly salty, and the duck very tender, but I don’t know how I felt about them together, with carrots and parsnips. I probably would have preferred the dish if the duck came without the pasta.


Thatboy had the pepperoni pizza. Now before we all roll our eyes at how simple his taste is, I should point out - I’m not a huge pepperoni fan, so we rarely have it on our pizzas. Plus this pizza also came with fennel sausage and papadew peppers. Thatboy thought the peppers added a lot to the pizza, saying they were both sweet and spicy. Like his beautiful wife. (His words)



For dessert, we both knew what the other would order. I had the tiramisu, and he ordered the only thing with the word “chocolate” on it.


He tried to describe his bittersweet chocolate budino to me by telling me it tasted like lava cake - only cold. After trying it I determined it was much more like a pot de creme, and then had to translate that - “like a pudding.” His chocolate crackle cookie he thought tasted like meringue, and I’ll have to take his word, because by that time I was too full to take even a bite.

My tiramisu was good, the lady fingers were moist, the mascarpone was sweet and creamy, but it wasn’t quite as light and fluffy as I like my tiramisu. It was more like a dense cake, which meant I was happy to share it with Thatboy since there was no way I was going to finish it.

As we left, we were already planning our next trip back, what we’d order, and who we’d take. Our first restaurant week dinner was definitely a success!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Time for another AVM break!

It's been a few days since I posted a recipe from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and after today it's going to be even longer because of the important trinity of holidays coming up. First, this week is San Diego Restaurant week, culminating in Rosh Hashannah this weekend and Yom Kippur next weekend. Whew - I get tired just thinking about it.

Besides, I just got notice from my local library that my next book is waiting for me. I love my library. I request a book and if it's there, they pull it off the shelf and put it on hold for me. If it's not there, they have it sent there, and once again, they put it on hold till I can go pick it up.

So before we delve into amazing restaurants, detective novels, and fun holiday fare, I'll leave you with something quick and easy - something where you can let your kitchen appliances do the work for you, and you just have to reap the benefits.

The green bean dip in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is described as similar to guacamole - and that's where I ran into a little problem. As I've mentioned before, we (meaning I) make a lot of guacamole in Thathouse. Enough where Thatboy was very quick to point out, this was not guacamole. And he was not very happy about that point. As for me - I thought it was a good change up from other bean dips (white bean, black bean, garbanzo bean). It is definitely more comparable to them than something smooth and avocado-y. So while I wouldn't recommend serving this up with your fajitas, I think it would definitely be a nice addition to a backyard bbq or cocktail party if served with some nice flatbread.

Frijole-Mole (recipe can be found at animalvegetablemiracle.com)

Local ingredients used:

Green beans (from Hillcrest farmer's market)

Monday, September 14, 2009

The worst part of having a pet

When I was a little girl I was always fishing for pets. Once a year I would come to my parents with a science fair project that inevitably included some kind of animal. Whether it was betta fish and music, or rats in a Skinner maze. And since it was for "science" my wishes were usually granted.

More than once a year I would come to my parents with another kind of plan. The plan went something like this:
"If I had a _____ I would name it _____ and I would teach it to ____ and it would be my best friend forever." (Note - I continued to do this with Thatboy once we were married, and by that time my repertoire had expanded to include a song that went something like "Thatgirl and Ringo...best friends forever...singing and dancing...playing together.....") Usually this ploy was unsuccessful. But when I was in 6th grade, I finally hit the right note - or name. I came home from school one day right before my birthday to find the tiniest little ball of fluff in a box waiting for me.



Because of his beautiful caramel color, I suggested naming him "Caramel" - but Thatdad informed me that he only got the cat for me because of the name I had said I would name him if I was given a kitten. (And for the record, I was going to teach him to dance and we were going to be best friends forever - obviously)


From the start, Thatcat and I were inseparable. As soon as I'd come home from school, he'd plant himself on my lap, or my homework, or wherever he could get a bite of my hair if I had just returned from swim practice. At night, he would curl up beside me on my pillow (quickly learning that curling up beside my body meant he'd get rolled on when I tossed and turned). He let me do just about anything to him - our favorite tricks were "Cat hat" where I'd put him on my head, with his arms hanging off one side, and his legs off the other, and "Cat scarf" where I'd wrap him around my neck.


Due partly to his name I'd imagine, Thatcat had some very uncatlike behaviors. In fact, he was much more like a puppy. He was completely dependent, following me around the house, coming when he was called, playing fetch, and even wagging his tail with happiness. Once, when my bird figured out how to get out of his cage, Thatcat followed the bird around the house meowing until I came and found the two of them and put Thatbird back where he belonged.


Perhaps Thatcat's uncatlike behavior is why Thatdad fell in love with him. As a rule, Thatdad was not a cat person. And he's never liked either of my brother's cats. But he LOVED Thatcat so much, that when I went away to college, he refused to let me take Thatcat with me. He insisted that he couldn't lose both of us - it would be too much. So Thatcat stayed with my parents for the past ten years. Which probably suited him just as well since he and Thatdog DO NOT get along, and Thatboy is allergic to cats.


In April, Thatcat turned 16, and it was shortly after that we noticed him beginning to have some issues. I noticed he was having difficulty eating his kibble, mostly just pushing it around the bowl. Thatmom thought maybe he was having teeth pain, so she brought him in to the vet for a cleaning and exam. The vet determined he'd need a couple teeth extracted, but by the time of the cleaning, one of his teeth had already fallen out on its own, and the vet was too worried about the stability of his jaw to pull out any more. So they did a quick biopsy of a lesion in his mouth, cleaned him up, and sent him home.


It got worse from there. Soon after Thatcat stopped eating. We spent a couple weeks trying to find a wet food he would eat - we tried everyone on the market. When we finally found one he liked, we thought that was the end of our issues. It wasn't.



Right before we left for Kauai, I noticed that Thatcat's jaw was swollen. He couldn't even close his mouth and was drooling a lot. We brought him back into the vet. Although the biopsy had come back negative, the vet was convinced that Thatcat had cancer, which was causing his entire jaw to be "reconstructed." Based on his symptoms, it was surmised the cancer was pretty far progressed, and at his age, not much could be done. So we took Thatcat home and put him on "hospice" - twice daily doses of pain medication (the Michael Jackson drug) to alleviate his pain and help him stay with us a little longer.



But Thatcat's health continued to deteriorate. The drooling from the mouth became bleeding from the mouth, and even with the pain medication Thatcat was finding it more difficult to eat. He spent most of the time in "his room" - the guest bathroom, lying on the tile behind the door. And so this weekend we made the decision to let him go. We brought him to the vet who let me hold him as she administered the medication. He was gone in seconds. The vet assured us that we had done what was best for him, and how lucky he was to have people in his life that loved him so much - but we all knew we were the lucky ones to have him in our lives.


Thatcat (April 12, 1993-September 12, 2009)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Confession

Thatboy and I haven't eaten a homecooked meal since Tuesday. Well, that's kind of a lie - we've had homecooked lunches, just not dinners. Wednesday was girls night out, which meant take out for Thatboy. And Thursday was our night out!

I met Thatboy at his office after work and we headed to dinner. We actually didn't have any clue what we were going to have for dinner, until we passed by Thai Time. "Thai sound good to you?" Thatboy asked me. I quickly agreed and we headed in. At the time we arrived we were one of a few tables, but shortly after the place filled up with people who probably were likewise getting off work and heading for a bite.

It was our first time to Thai time, which means I always get the usual - pad thai.


I figure if the place messes up pad thai, then I'm probably not going to like anything else there. The good news is, the pad thai was good, but the tom ka soup was even better.



And Thatboy almost licked the bowl of his yellow curry.


Maybe the best part of the meal though was the price - it's not often you can get two entrees, two drinks, and an appetizer for under $30!

After dinner, we headed across the street for our main purpose of the evening:



SPAMALOT! I've been dying to see this show for going on four years now, but there are always other shows to see, so it's just never happened yet. But I definitely spent many nights in high school watching "Holy Grail" with friends until we could quote every line. And then re-act out all the scenes....

I thought the performance was fantastic! I was notably impressed by Merle Dandridge as the Lady of the Lake. HOLY COW what a voice! The rest of the cast was almost as talented, with the except of the female dancers, who couldn't seem to keep their counts straight. It's kind of distracting when legs are all a second or two off. As with the best musical theater, this one stayed topical by adding in ad libs about Obama's healthcare address as well as the Merriman/Tequila brewhaha which has overtaken all of San Diego's news media.

It's been a while since Thatboy and I have done dinner and a show, and Thursday night reminded us why we need to do it more often!

Friday, September 11, 2009

A walk in the park

Poor Thatdog. He's being neglected lately and he's sure to let us know. This morning he looked up at the two of us with his saddest dogface ever to remind us how we leave him alone all day.

We tried to make up for our bad parenting by taking him on an extra special excursion this weekend. We didn't want to go to a beach, because it's been so warm, we were concerned about him getting overheated. And while I suggested spending the day in an air conditioned Petco, Thatboy wanted something a little more outdoorsy.

So we decided to head to the park down the street. Well, a little ways down the street, but I still consider it our "'hood" since it literally is down the street from my gym.

The park is kind of divided into two parts - one is green, shady, and woody:

And the other is more deserty/arid.

We started on the hot, dry, deserty side because that's where all the "fun stuff" was. Thatdog decided he was NOT a fan of rope bridges. (He must take after me) He was also very timid about the lookouts posted throughout the park - accessible only by crossing a log-like balance beam.

It took a lot of coaxing and several trys to get him up on the first one.

But after that he was a pro - well, except for the one with the big hole in the middle of the log. He looked at Thatboy like "Um are you crazy? We'll fall right through!"

Thatdog reminds everyone that when you're outside in the hot sun, it's important to drink LOTS of water to stay hydrated.

We headed over to the green side for a shady hike under trees, and also got to play on the grass by one of the duck ponds.

At the duck pond, Thatdog made friends with a group of kids who tried to tickle him with feathers. Although they were disappointed he wasn't ticklish, they delighted in petting him and telling him what a good dog he was. And he was a good dog - finally getting the attention he deserves!


A couple more recipes from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - combined because they were both good (shocking) AND because they both utilize zucchini. (One of my favorite veggies I can usually get Thatboy to eat) The idea of zucchini chocolate chip cookies didn't strike me as unusual, having grown up with Thatmom's AMAZING zucchini chocolate chip bread. Thatboy didn't even notice the zucchini in the orzo, but he DEFINITELY noticed them in the chocolate chip cookies.

TB: What is that? LIME? You know I don't like lime and chocolate!
TG: It's not lime. It's zucchini. You know, like my mom's zucchini chocolate chip bread?
TB: But that's BREAD! These are COOKIES!

Despite his protest, Thatboy really enjoyed the cookies. And when he brought some in to H the next day he had me warn her "there be zucchinis in them thar cookies." I gave the same warning to my coworker when I brought her in her own bag - so far no complaints!

Disappearing Zucchini Orzo (recipe available at animalvegetablemiracle.com)

Local Ingredients Used:

Thyme (Hillcrest Farmer's Market)


Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe available at animalvegetablemiracle.com)