Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fun with the Inlaws, Part 6

After work, Thatboy headed over to spend more time with his family, while I copped out and snuck in a nap. He ended up spending just time with his parents, since (surprise surprise) TBIL, TSIL, and the kids had ditched them again for the day.

They arrived a little early for dinner, so they could use our washer and dryer to clean their clothes. It's nice to know we're good for something - food and laundry. Isn't this supposed to wait until we have our own kids and they go off to college?

Green Salad with Italian dressing
Garlic Bread Sticks
Lasagna in Meat Sauce

TMIL had never had Sangria before, so I thought I'd whip some up. I modified it a bit, since she's a HUGE wine drinker (a bottle a night) but not much other alcohol. So I limited the alcohol to just wine, and sweetened it with sugar instead of triple sec, brandy, or grand mariner. Of course this meant it wasn't as strong as my usual stuff, but I think it was better that way.

2 cups OJ
1 bottle red wine
1 orange, sliced
2 peaches, peeled and sliced
1 lemon, sliced
confectioner's sugar
club soda

  1. Mix together the oj, red wine, orange, peaches, and lemon and refrigerate 4-6 hours.
  2. Add confectioners sugar to taste, until it's sweet enough.
  3. Add a splash of club soda and serve over ice.

Thatboy loved the garlic breadsticks I made a couple weeks back so much, he asked me to make them again for his family. Y'all already know how accomidating I am, so garlic breadsticks it was.

I've been making a ton of lasagne lately, which gave me a good base to figure out what kind of lasagne to make for my inlaws. Thatboy suggested a meat-based lasagne since his family isn't really vegetarian friendly. (If it doesn't have meat, it's not a meal.) TMIL is a little out of touch - she confided that she hasn't made lasagne since the boys were little because it takes so long to make. I confided in her that it's one of my easy meals because it only takes about 40 minutes to put together and cook because I keep marinara in the freezer. Then she let me know that most of the time she just bought storebought, because it was as good as her's anyway. Thatboy told her mine was always way better than storebought.

Lasagne in Meat Sauce
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/3 cup chopped carrots
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb lean ground beef
4 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes
3 Tbsp melted butter
1 tsp oregano
1 Tbsp basil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 box lasagna noodles
1/2 lb mozzarella, grated
3 cups ricotta cheese
1/4 lb parmesan cheese, grated

  1. Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the onions, carrots, and garlic and cook, stirring until they are lightly browned.
  2. Push to the veggies to the side of the pan and add the beef, cooking it until browned.
  3. Puree the tomatoes in a blender and add to the meat and simmer 15 minutes.
  4. Add the butter, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Partially cover and simmer 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375. Cover bottom of baking pan with 1/3 of the sauce.
  6. Put a layer of noodles over the sauce, sprinkle with 1/2 of the mozzarella and 1/2 the ricotta.
  7. Top with another layer of noodles, sauce, mozzarella, and ricotta.
  8. Top with final layer of noodles and sauce.
  9. Sprinkle with parmesean cheese and bake 20 minutes.

We finished the evening with my all time favorite dessert - tiramisu. I think it was the first time TFIL had ever heard of it, because he kept calling it "Mee-su" and missing the "Tira" part completely. Thatneice fell in love with this dessert. She even asked for seconds. Thatnephew was concerned because it "tasted like coffee" which I'm assuming they're not supposed to have. He ate it anyway.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Fun with the Inlaws, Part 5

Day 5 was a beach day, or beach evening depending on which of us you were. And really, I don't have any pictures of it. Thatboy took a half day at work and decided to take his parents on a tour of the coast. I joined in at their last beach of the day. Once again, we were ditched by TBIL, TSIL, and the kids who decided they wanted to go to a different beach than the rest of us. A beach I would never send anyone I liked after Thatboy and I watched a junkie shoot up on the street in front of us. It's not a "nice" beach.

On the other hand, TFIL and TMIL LOVED the beach we brought them too. TMIL kept oohing and ahhing and remarking about what a wonderful beach it was. After the sunset, we went back home for dinner. A little side note - I had originally planned on serving fresh pita from our local "International Market" which specializes in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern foodstuffs, but then I saw this gorgeous gigantic fresh round of what they dubbed "Mediterranean Bread" and I just knew I had to pick it up. As large as a Super Extra Large Pizza, it was fun to pull apart, and pretty tasty.

Green Salad with Greek dressing
Mediterranean bread
Roast Lamb
Couscous with Melted Leeks and Thyme

Broiled Tomatoes

  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  1. In a small bowl mix the vinegar and salt and let stand a few minutes.
  2. Add the pepper and slowly whisk in the oil.

TFIL considers his rack of lamb to be "his" signature dish. So of course I wasn't going to make rack of lamb. I make a pretty mean leg of lamb, so I figured that would be easy and impressive. It was.

Roast Leg of Lamb
leg of lamb
olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, cut into slivers
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Rub olive oil over lamb and on a rack set in a shallow baking pan.
  2. Season lamb with salt and pepper. Cut 10-12 slits in lamb and slide slivers of garlic into the slits.
  3. Place lamb on rack and roast for 1 1/2 hours.

I'm not sure the inlaws have ever had couscous before. I know TFIL was totally intrigued by "melted leeks" but had a very hard time understanding how I made and incorporated them. I tried to explain that I just cook the leeks in butter until they "melt" and then add them to cooked couscous, but I think "leeks" and "couscous" might be a stretch to begin with.

The tomatoes were a nightmare. I tried to broil them, but I would probably recommend baking them next time. As you can see, they browned pretty unevenly. I'll give you the recipe I used to make them - even with the uneven browning the tomatoes were nice and soft and would be a great base for a soup or marinara sauce.

Broiled tomatoes
4 tomatoes, halved
1 cup breadcrumbs
  1. Preheat broiler
  2. Sprinkle tomatoes evenly with breadcrumbs
  3. broil tomatoes until tops are browned.

My original plan was to make something with phyllo dough for dessert, but I also wanted something impressive because - heeellloooo inlaws. I had seen these gorgeous kataifi on Kalofagas and they looked like exactly what I needed - something that was incredibly simple to prepare, but looked way more complicated (one of my favorite kinds of dishes.) My only problem? I have NO idea how to pronounce it. Thatmom, who recognized it immediately and worked in a Middle Eastern grocer, but is not known for her pronounciation skills calls it "kah-tah-yeef". I'm just waiting for Elly to chime in with the real pronounciation. Here that Elly? I NEED you. TFIL was ridiculously impressed by these and asked about them for the rest of the trip. I sent the leftovers in with Thatboy for an office birthday party and they quickly disappeared and caused quite the sensation there too. Don't worry - I saved one to bring up to Thatmom.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Fun with the Inlaws, Part 4

Let's call today "The Catholic Indoctrination." I should preface this by saying my own religious beliefs are that there is no right or wrong religion, religious belief, or path to G-d. TFIL doesn't agree with me. He spent almost half of his life as a Catholic Priest and has expressed on numerous occasions that Catholicism is the only religion without fanatics. He believes that the Catholic church should control everything the public hears, sees, reads, experiences. (Because he believes that you and I, or the general population, aren't capable of making wise decisions regarding books, movies, newspapers, etc. etc. etc.) If the Catholic church speaks out against something - he is against it, without ever doing any further research or experiencing it himself.

Given his own obsession with all things Catholic, I thought TFIL would really enjoy a visit to Mission San Diego de Alcala, the first mission built in California. There was one small problem, all the inlaws came down in one vehicle, and TBIL and TSIL decided they wanted to spend the week their friends. They made plans to go to SeaWorld, Legoland, and other activities which didn't include TFIL or TMIL who were stuck at the hotel all day without a car. Don't worry though, TBIL and TSIL made sure that their plans ended JUST in time for dinner at our place.

So it was up to us to make sure TFIL got to see the mission.

Mission San Diego de Alcala was the brianchild of Father Juniperro Serra. I would say "built" but as TMIL pointed out, it was most likely built by the Native Americans who were living on the land before the church and Father Serra showed up.

This room was marked as Father Serra's living quarters. Portions of the original frame and adobe were visible. Around here I got a fantastic lecture about how well educated Father Serra, and the education of priests in general.

Okay, this for sure was the coolest part of the visit. Inside the chapel. You don't see anything unusual do you? Well TMIL took the same picture and in her picture, on the left hand side, behind the roped off area, there is a perfectly formed, blue/white orb. Now, when Thatboy and I were in Savannah last September we went on a ghost tour. The tour guide told us that ghosts and spirits are usually visible in photographs as orbs of light. Having never seen the phenomena for myself, I shared the theory with TMIL who decided to try again and see if it showed did....only this time it was on the right side, and halfway down the aisle from us. Spooky huh?

The bells of the mission. TFIL told me about how he was used to bells telling him when to do what. I offered to get him and alarm clock with the sound of bells for his next birthday. That was a big mistake. TFIL believes that humor is the root of all prejudice and doesn't appreciate my jokes. He went on to tell me that moving from one activity to the next is a sign of maturity. The immature will dally between activities or tell you they'll be there "in a minute."

All 21 California missions associated with Father Serra. TFIL and TMIL have been to most of them.

Father Serra himself.

This is a Carmelite chapel - for Carmelite monks. I'm still not 100% clear on what Carmelite monks are.

I did a bunch better job of taking pictures at dinner, since we weren't in a hurry to get anywhere. Although Thatneice was anxious to finish since I had promised her she could watch "The Phantom Tollbooth" after dinner. (She had recently finished the book). And it's a good thing I had made plans for the kiddies, since after dinner Thatboy and TFIL got into a heated discussion over gay marriage rights. As you can assume, TFIL is against anything having to do with homosexuality, because the church is against anything having to do with homosexuality. Nevermind that this same church used to be for slavery, or against interracial marriages (like TBIL and TSIL), or even divorce (like TMIL and her first husband). TFIL made arguments such as "against biology" and "the definition of marriage is for procreation." As I listened to my kind, sweet, wonderful husband attempt to dissuade and bring reason to a stone I thought about how lucky I was to have him in my life and how thankful I was that the apple fell far from the tree.

Green Salad with Vinaigrette
French Bread
Roast Chicken with bread stuffing
Steamed Baby New Potatoes

Spring Vegetables with Tarragon Butter

Chocolate Mousse

TFIL, the same man who has thrown out multiple loaves of bread I have made and brought to his home, has finally realized that I am a fantastic bread maker. He's been packing away my baked goods like a squirrel waiting for the winter. One of my tricks with bread baking is to make the dough ahead of time, on a day when you have a lot time to wait for rises. Refrigerate or freeze after the first rise. Then when you want it, you can just pull it out of the fridge or freezer, shape it, give it the second rise, and throw it in the oven!

French Bread
1 pkg yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp melted shortening
3 cups bread flour
1 egg white

  1. Stir the yeast into 1 cup hot water in a large bowl and let stand for 5 minutes to dissolve.
  2. Add sugar, shortening, and 1/2 Tbsp salt - stir well.
  3. Add 1 cup of flour and beat thoroughly.
  4. Add 1 1/2 cups flour and mix well.
  5. Knead by hand, or if you're a cheater like me, this is where you let the bread hook on your Kitchenaid take over.
  6. Let the dough rest 10 minutes. While you're doing this, turn on the oven to it's lowest setting- 175/200, whatever.
  7. Knead again, adding in remaining flour until dough is no longer sticky.
  8. Turn off the oven, pour the dough into a greased bowl, cover, and place in the warm (but off) oven until the dough has doubled in size.
  9. Punch down the dough, and knead for a few seconds.
  10. Shape the dough by rolling and stretching it into a long cylindrical loaf.
  11. Cover, and let rise again until double in bulk.
  12. Preheat oven to 375. Lightly beat egg white with 1 Tbsp water and 1 tsp salt. Brush top of loaf with the egg wash and bake for 40 minutes.

I wanted to make my turn turn turn chicken, but I couldn't find a bird big enough. I was stuck with two 4 pounders and I'm really too lazy to mess with turning two birds. So I just did a basic roast. I did, however, fill the birds with stuffing which is a surefire easy peasy way to impress anyone. Thatneice informed me that stuffing was her favorite food. TSIL says she only gets stuffing at Thanksgiving, so she was very happy. Here's the recipe for 2 chickens, cut it in half if you're serving less than 8 people!

Roast Chicken with Stuffing
2 sticks butter
4 Tbsp onion, finely chopped
4 Tbsp celery, finely chopped
4 cups bread crumbs
2 four lb chickens

Melt 1 stick of butter in large skillet.
Add onions and celery and cook until onions are tender.
Mix the butter, onions, and celery into the bread crumbs and season with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 325. Rinse the chickens and pat them dry. Stuff the chickens with the stuffing.
Rub about 4 Tbsp of butter over the chickens and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place chickens in a v-shaped rack in a roasting pan and bake breast side up.
Melt the remaining butter in a small saucepand and use this butter to baste the chickens every 15 minutes, until there is enough pan drippings in the pan to use them instead.
Cook about 25 minutes per pound (for my 4lbers, this was 2 hours)

Sure you could bake these potatoes, or throw them in the roasting pan, but there is something so fresh and springy about steaming them. I have a steamer as part of my rice cooker, which makes it ridiculously easy.

Steamed New Potatoes
2 lbs tiny new unpeeled potatoes
  1. Wash the potatoes and put them in a steamer basket.
  2. Steam just until potatoes are tender (30 minutes in my steamer)
  3. sprinkle with salt and serve hot!

Thatmom saw these vegetables in Bon Appetit and thought they looked delicious, so we made them a couple weeks back. They were so good, I thought they'd make a nice addition to the inlaws' dinner.

Thatnephew was a little nervous about eating a chocolate mouse for dinner. Guess he missed the second s. Super rich, and not even that bad for you - it's cream free! Thatnephew told me he did not think it was very delicious, and asked if he could have apple pie instead. No one else seemed to have his problem, as the rest of the bowls were licked clean.

Chocolate Mousse
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla

  1. Melt the chocolate in a pan over very low heat, stirring often to prevent burning.
  2. Beat egg yolks in a large bowl until pale and lemon colored. Add the melted chocolate slowly and blend well.
  3. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add a third of the egg whites to the yolk and chocolate, add the vanilla and mix well.
  4. Carefully fold in the remaining whites.
  5. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fun with the Inlaws, Part 3

or - I hope you like organ music!

One of my gripes about the inlaws is that even though they live 30 minutes from San Francisco, I know very little about the city. Except the MOMA. For some reason, my inlaws believe the MOMA IS San Francisco. So everytime I suggest we go into the city, we go to the MOMA. I go to the MOMA about 3-4 times a year.

This dogged determinedness to do the same thing over and over again has resurfaced here in San Diego. As I mentioned, I made them a 15 page guide of activities to do in San Diego, and yet, I know you won't be surprised to discover that we followed our Organ Concert of Sunday with another Organ Concert on Monday! 2.5 more hours of organ music. TBIL insisted we stay for the whole thing because it was free, and he wanted his money's worth. Right before the intermission TSIL disappeared to go wander somewhere. Thatneice and Thatnephew slept through most of the second half. Don't get me wrong - it's not that I don't like organ music. And the pieces were played very well, it's just....maybe generational, but I don't need to do the same thing every day. I mean, we missed a fabulous free concert in Coronado on Sunday because we were at the organ concert that day. We missed another free concert in Seaport Village Monday night so we could attend the organ concert...again.

Dinner was a very quick ordeal since we had to hurry and eat before the concert, so I didn't get a picture of a lot of the stuff. I can tell you that the unpictured mojitos were inspired by a drink WeezerMonkey had at Takami. And the unpictured spring onion pancakes were thoroughly enjoyed by all. Thatneice and Thatnephew filled up on them and didn't have much room for anything else. The unpictured fruit salad? Well it's just as you would imagine it looked. Cut up fruit. Yeah - I'm one creative mofo.

Lychee Mojitos (Lilikoi Soda for the kiddies)
Green Salad with Sesame Dressing
Spring Onion Pancakes
Ma Po Tofu
Steamed Rice
Sauteed broccoli, mushrooms, and snow peas

Fruit Salad

The adults liked this dish, but Thatnephew decided he doesn't like tofu. Which is interesting, because TFIL has just decided he doesn't drink alcohol and likes to tell Thatboy how everyone who drinks is incoherent and can't process thoughts. In reality, what TFIL is experiencing is called "age" and "narcissism" which affects his ability to hear what anyone else has to say and process his own thoughts in a timely manner. Another interesting note is that TMIL has decided she's allergic to dog hair, even though they have a dog at home and Thatboy had dogs growing up.

I thought you all REALLY needed a picture of steamed rice. Just in case you forgot what it looked like. And otherwise this post is a little light on pictures. Soooooo take it away - rice!

Sauteed Broccoli, Mushrooms, and Snow Peas
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 lb broccoli
  • 8 oz snow peas
  • 8 oz shitake mushrooms
  1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Add broccoli to the skillet and sautee 3 minutes.
  3. Add in snow peas and sautee 2 minutes.
  4. Add mushrooms and sautee until mushrooms brown.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fun with the Inlaws, Part 2

Try to imagine the worst Father's Day you can possibly have. First, we'll get rid of the key ingredient for Father's Day - the father. Next, we'll have you spend it with people who don't care for you very much and who drive you nuts. Finally, we'll spend it doing things that are of absolutely no interest to you. Yay! Fun! That's how I got to spend my Father's Day.

To begin with, TBIL and TSIL decided to ditch us for the day. They told Thatboy that they wanted to catch up with some friends who work during the week so "they can only see them today or next Saturday." Nevermind those are also the only days they can see Thatboy, or that the day happened to be FATHER'S day. That's not how they work.

TFIL decided that he wanted to start his Father's Day with mass, so the night before Thatboy and I searched for the nearest Catholic Church and mass times. Thatboy decided I should come too - which I agreed to, only if I got to pick where we went for lunch. So we awoke bright and shiny and headed to church. Well, I awoke bright and shiny when Thatboy kicked me out of bed to go on my run while he got to stay curled up in the covers. I won't share the evil thoughts about him I had during the first couple of miles.

After church we brought the inlaws to the Zinc Cafe for sandwiches and lemonade. The Zinc Cafe is a great choice for a light lunch. Everything on the menu is vegetarian, fresh, and delicious. The inlaws spent a good hour or so trying to figure out what they wanted. TFIL didn't want to share his sandwich, but TMIL wanted to split one with him. Eventually she won out. Thatboy and I split an egg salad sandwich with tabasco. I love egg salad sandwiches in the summer, and it's so much nicer when someone else makes them for you. Although I am trying to keep hardboiled eggs in the fridge, just in case.

We then headed to Balboa Park. Every Sunday at 2pm there's a free organ concert at the Spreckles Pavilion. Starting on Monday, the summer organ concert series began with free organ concerts on Monday evenings. I had tried to talk TFIL into attending the evening concert instead, because there's no shade at the organ pavilion and TFIL is very sensitive to sitting in the sun. He refuses to go to the beach, or sit by the pool because of the sun. But no one listens to me, so we headed out in the middle of the day to sit in the sun and listen to the organ.

The Spreckles Organ was donated to Balboa Park in 1914. With 4,530 pipes, it is one of the largest outdoor pipe organs in the world.

At some point, TBIL decided that he was a HUGE organ fan. Apparently he believes he knows everything about organs, so he decided to join us. The truth of the matter is, everything TBIL knows about pipe organs comes from his childhood pizza place "Pizza and Pipes" which featured a Wurlitzer. So he after the concert he tried to impress everyone from the organ society by asking if they knew of any "Mighty Wurlitzers" in the area. Seriously? You're standing inside one of the largest pipe organs in THE WORLD and you're asking about a Wurlitzer? Not impressive dude.

I mean really, check out the size of those pipes!

This is what they look like from inside the organ.....

We then took the inlaws to the area where Thatboy's photography is going to be exhibited and sold, if we're ever in San Diego during a weekend. Around this time TBIL was getting bored and wanted to head back to the hotel for a swim. We grabbed Thatneice and promised to meet them, but first we stopped and grabbed her an icee. We love spoiling Thatneice and Thatnephew with sweets since they don't get them at home. Sweets, loud instruments, and really messy toys. We're the best Aunt and Uncle ever.

For dinner we took everyone to our favorite local Chinese restaurant. We're really blessed to live somewhere where we are surrounded by really good restaurants. We like China Cafe because it's family owned and run, and you always feel like you're eating in someone's home. For instance, Thatneice got to help make the sizzling rice soup. Because it was Father's Day, we let TFIL and TBIL do the ordering which meant there wasn't enough food and they didn't make very good choices. It's a good thing this restaurant does everything well ;-) At least they were happy with the restaurant which is all that really matters. They thought it was some of the best Chinese food they'd eaten (which isn't saying much - they were very annoyed that the moo shu dishes weren't listed with the appetizers.....).

Thatnephew wishes everyone a Happy Father's Day!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fun with the Inlaws, Part 1

I just wanted to start out by giving a quick shout-out/plug to Best Western Stratford Inn. Seriously, it has recently become our number one favorite recommendation for places to stay in San Diego. It started out when I stopped by to drop off gift bags I made for the inlaws. (What do you put in a gift bag for the world's most difficult people? San Diego Wines, Chocolates, Strawberries, coupons, and a 15 page guide of activities broken down both by location and type of activity) I kindly explained the situation to the front desk (my inlaws are terribly unhappy people who hate everything. Even though Thatboy and I have been together 9 years, this is the first time they have ever come to visit us. They believe that nowhere is as good as their beloved San Francisco, and don't think San Diego has anything to offer) and they sweetly let me right into the inlaws rooms to drop off my goodies.

I called Thatboy to tell him of my success and might have mentioned that while the rooms were adjoining, they didn't have the best location or view. So Thatboy stopped by the hotel himself. After he kindly further explained the situation, the hotel upgraded both rooms to oceanview suites. TMIL and TFIL were actually put in the honeymoon suite! The hotel bends over backwards to accomidate their guests. I'm bringing them cookies later on this week, as soon as I have a free minute to make them!

I have a very special task while the inlaws are here. That task is a week's worth of menus. "Why is that a task?" you may ask, "Don't you already plan a week's worth of menus?" Why yes, yes I do. But I plan them for Thatboy, who thinks everything I make is wonderful. Unlike Thatboy, my inlaws are not so flattering. First of all, TFIL considers himself a gourmet chef. He actually used to be fairly good in the kitchen, but age has deteriorated his skill. It now takes him close to 4 hours to prepare a meal that could be cooked in less than 1 hour. And it usually involves overdone leather meat and overdone mushy veggies. And that, my friends is because TFIL doesn't know how to make veggies other than by boiling them - bleh. Second of all, TFIL will only eat "French" food. Well, he considers anything European to be French. Soooo no Mexican, no Thai, and their knowledge of Chinese Food is the most Americanized version you could possibly have. Third of all, in the 9 years I've known the inlaws, TFIL has refused to eat anything I've made. When I bring them bread, he trashes it and serves storebought. Truffles go straight in the trash. Cookies and things I make with the kids, he passes (and then I catch him sneaking them in the middle of the night). The rest of the inlaws are similar because TFIL does all the cooking for the entire family. That's right - TBIL, TSIL, and their kids eat dinner almost nightly at TFIL's house because they live next door.....and TBIL is as tight with money as you can be.

So here's my menu for the first night of the visit. They had just gotten in to town a couple of hours earlier.

Vodka Spiked Lemonade (Regular Lemonade for the kiddies)
Green Salad with Green Goddess Dressing
Drop Biscuits
Broiled Sirloin
Baked Potatoes
Sauteed Zucchini
Apple Pie

A little hint if you're entertaining kids - I froze a bunch of fruit juice in an ice cube tray and filled our ice bucket with the special pink ice cubes. The kids liked the lemonade, but the LOVED the ice cubes they got to put in their drinks.

I've been wanting to make a Green Goddess Dressing ever since I read about Mollie Wizenberg's Alice Water's experience in Bon Apetit. This is Fannie Farmer's version and it was a hit. I make Thatboy do the "finger test" with all my dressings where he dips into the mixing bowl and he loved the way the flavors on this one develop after you're done with your bite.

Green Goddess Dressing
1 egg yolk
2 Tbsp tarragon vinegar
1 Tbsp anchovy paste
1 cup canola oil
4 Tbsp heavy cream
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp finely chopped chives
2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley

  1. Combine the egg yolk, vinegar, and anchovy paste in a bowl and stir until well mixed.
  2. Slowly beat in the oil, a drop at a time, increasing flow as the sauce emulsifies. The sauce should be smooth and thickened.
  3. Stir in remaining ingredients.

Those of you who have been to a party at my house have probably had my drop biscuits. They're addictive. I think they were the hit of the evening. I think TFIL had 2 or 3. TMIL was impressed they weren't made with bisquick, which is used for almost all baked goods in their house.

I found a gorgeous (and gigantic) sirloin steak at the market and decided it would make for a VERY quick and easy dinner. Thatneice had thirds.

Broiled Sirloin
Sirloin Steak
1 Tbsp canola oil
  1. Bring meat to room temperature. Preheat the broiler. Rub oil on a broiler rack set in a drip pan and place the meat on the rack. Broil for 5 minutes per side until desired doneness.
  2. Remove from the broiler and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.

The zucchini was a favorite. TBIL remarked he had only ever had boiled zucchini before. I told him that this was how I got Thatboy to eat zucchini. TFIL must have agreed too, because he had thirds of this. It's amazing what a little olive oil and garlic can do.

Sauteed Zucchini
4 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch slices.
  1. Heat oil in skillet. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes.
  2. Add the zucchini and cook over low heat, stirring occassionally about 10 minutes.
  3. Season to taste.

Double baked pies always worry me, something about not being able to check on the doneness of what's inside. This one gave me a little extra trouble when I realized I forgot to put the butter on top of the apples...after I had already put the top crust on and cut pretty designs in it. Uggh. So this looked a lot prettier before I had to unpeel the top and smoosh it back down.

Apple Pie
Pie dough (enough for 2 crust pie)
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 Tbsp flour
6 granny smith apples
2 Tbsp butter

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Line a 9-inch pie pan with half the pie dough.
  2. Mix the sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and flour in a large bowl.
  3. Peel, core, and slice the apples and toss them in the sugar mixture, coating well.
  4. Pile them into the lined pan and dot with the butter.
  5. Roll out the top crust and drape it over the pie. Crimp the edges and cut several vents in the top.
  6. Bake 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 350 and bake 40 minutes more or until the crust is browned.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Last Day of Freedom

Before we get into the meat of "the visit" I'll entertain you with what Thatmom calls our "Last Day of Freedom." (Why yes, Thatmom has met my inlaws! How did you guess?)

It's that time of year again! The time of year that sends my arteries on strike and pushes Thatboy's adrenaline envelope. It's a time of fun and frivolity. It's FAIR TIME!

Since the fair is a source of fun for children of all ages, we knew the Inlaws wouldn't be interested. I asked Thatboy if he had ever been to a fair growing up and he said he went every the one at his school. I'm not sure how he can call a tent city in the school parking lot a "fair" but it just goes to show how messed up his family made him. Anyway, we decided Friday would probably be the only day we'd be able to get to the fair, and so after work we headed over to the secret free parking lot. The best part of the lot? The mode of transportation from the lot to the fair.

I love double decker buses! The San Diego Fair is in a fantastic location, blocks away from the water, so traveling by double decker bus means you get a view of the ocean as you head into the fairgrounds.

Of course I forgot to take a picture of the entrance on the way in, so we're stuck with this dark monstrosity, but the theme this year was "music mania" which means loads of good music throughout the grounds. Know what else there is throughout the grounds?

FOOOOOOODDDD! Fair food is one of my favorite kinds of food. Everything is fried, sugared, or dipped in something fried and sugared. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

For dinner I grabbed the Indian Taco - served on Indian Fry Bread. Guess no one gave them the memo about "Native Americans." Fry bread is like savory funnel cake, which is the best fair food of all times. More on that later. I love the doughy quality of the bready, full of yummy air pockets.

Thatboy ordered himself a side of onion he could put one on his giant burger.

He ate that whole thing. Impressive, no? Thatboy found us a great place to sit, up above all the action. We had a great view of concerts on either side and the seats and a view of the rest of the fair. It was nice to watch a concert while we enjoyed our meals.

This is also the exact spot I decided to leave my camera. Have I mentioned I'm not always such a smartie? I placed my camera right on the counter where we were eating and then Thatboy and I headed to the photography exhibit. Then we listened to a bit of the Loretta Lynn concert (gotta love free concerts at the fair). And then we went to check out the rocks and minerals. After that it was time for a rousing couple of games of ski ball. And then, then, my friends it was ride time!!!!!!!! I have very specific rules for which fair rides I will go on. Thatboy wants to go on all of them, but I have this sinking feeling about anything that can be constructed and deconstructed in a matter of hours. So each year we compromise and I pick the ride we'll go on together. And my rule of thumb is, I'll only ride a ride, where, if it broke, I would only suffer a tumble to the ground. Last year I made a mistake and picked the WRONG RIDE. I was hysterically in tears throughout the ride, so this year I watch the ride through before picking it. As I reached into my bag to pull out my camera to take a picture of the ride, I realized I no longer had my camera!!!!!!! We sat through the ride with my heart in my stomach. I don't remember anything about the ride at all. Thatboy said it was an excellent pick on my part though. After the ride, we hurried back to where we had eaten dinner 2 hours earlier. And guess what - the camera was still there. 2 hours later. Have I mentioned how much I love San Diego sometimes?

Since it had been 2 hours since we'd eaten, we decided it was time for dessert.

Thatboy always likes to try one of the deep fried novelty treats. This year it was the fried smores. He felt there was too much "fried" and not enough "smores."

I went with the classic - funnel cake. As I said, this is my favorite fair food. Now, normally I like mine unadulterated. Just powdered sugar. But Fridays are freebie days and so they gave us free whipped cream and strawberries and I thought "why not." The strawberries were fresh fresh fresh - not goopey syrupy canned strawberries. And the lemonade I had with it, just about made my evening!

Next we headed to the livestock area where we got to see a bunch of baby goats, and cows, and pigs, and hatching chickens.

We arrived right after they had finished judging the roosters. I've never seen so many different kinds of roosters!!!! Our favorite were these guys who looked more like Himilayan cats than birds if you ask me.

After the animals, we went to one more concert before heading back on the double decker and heading home. We were strung out on sugar, and exhausted from running all over the fair. I told Thatboy I felt like an overstimulated 3 year old. And yet he still refused to carry me around on his shoulders.