Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My Month of Attempted Congee

When I was approached by Lorelle over at Year of Congee about doing a guest post for her blog, I thought "Perfect! I'll get to hear Lorelle say 'congee' in person and will finally know how to pronounce it!"

Then I thought "oooooh, and I'll get to try a new kind of food! Then write about it! Yay!"

As you can see, I was optimistic
At that point I started to notice some things about congee. Namely, some of the ingredients. Oy, so many ingredients! Sometimes ingredients make me weary.

But when I agree to do something I almost always follow through - most of the time...eventually...when I feel like it - and so I decided to make congee and see what the big deal was. I chose an easy, crock-pot-friendly recipe, since I was also trying to learn to love crock-pot cooking and, incidentally, had just been gifted one by Lorelle herself (and her mega-talented chef of a husband - hi Adam!).

First Attempt: January 15th
I started with some rice, water, fresh ginger (you guys, I totally peeled and shaved some fresh ginger!) and some shitaake mushrooms. I threw it all in the crockpot and pranced off to work, thrilled that I'd have a delicious meal to come home to!

Paulie arrived home before I did and called me to ask what the hell was going on in the crockpot. "Looks like...porridge," he said. "It's supposed to," I informed him. I heard a little slurp and then he said "can I, uh, am I allowed to doctor this up at all? Kind of tastes like air. But, you know, gingery air, so that's good!"


I gave him permission to do with it whatever he liked, and when I got home it was still fairly bleh. We put it into the freezer to use as a soup base in the future. Or, several soup bases, given the fact that I'd made enough to feed my household three times over.

Since then I've done little more than grumble at the bulging frozen tupperware every time I open the freezer for ice. Paul, ever the master of utilizing leftovers, did make some soup (bless his heart) but I didn't eat it because it was too spicy for my delicate princess palate.

Between me and my cocktail ice: congee
Then Paulie got sick, eureka! I thought that surely this would be an opportunity for me to Cure him with Congee - but no, he made himself a black bean/salsa/cheese thing to dip his chips in before I had a chance to thaw one of those mothers and turn it into something great. And it would have been great, I just know it.

I'm not giving up. Mark my words!

For the love of god can we PLEASE do something with all this congee?!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Semper Feet

I'm kind of put off by most feet, but Liam's are cute.

An Early Selfie

One of the jobs you really can not neglect as a parent is "manicurist," because the other parents will notice. Bathing you can skip for days, feeding can be hit or miss, but if you let your kids' hands and feet go ignored for too long, prepare to be judged.

Finn is not a problem. He dons his laurel crown, wraps himself in a purple tunic, and is more than happy to let me groom the royal extremities.

Liam screams like he's on fire. Sometimes he'll let me do the fingers, but forget the toes. Recently things were starting to get out of hand so it was time for extreme measures.

Any attempt to attack the problem during daylight hours was going to land him in an institution, so it had to be a night op; 0400 hours to be precise.

Target in Sight

Holding clippers in one hand and a flashlight in the other while trying to remain inconspicuous under your son's blanket is awkward enough, but to make matters worse, Liam's a belly sleeper. I started slowly, and carefully, but with ten little piggies to take down and dawn looming on the horizon I had to pick up the pace. Things got a little rough. The end result wasn't pretty, but I managed to take care of all the real problem areas. I had to abort the mission prematurely as it became clear that my clipping away at his tender little toes was inducing some kind of elaborate nightmare.

Every mission has it's collateral damage. The important thing is I got out of there with my son's adoration and my "good dad" reputation in tact. Ooh-rah!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

In the Kitchen with Amanda and Paulie

Since we moved in together, Paulie and I have had fun in the unexpected anthropological study of food and eating habits that our new household offers.

We've been trying new recipes in an effort to get or keep our entire brood healthy all at the same time. I think it's working - throw enough kale and garlic into literally every meal and eventually something good will happen.

No one knows I sneak this into their food

When the kids are all with their other parents, we try not to buy groceries because, you know, we can make do. Often this means we raid the freezer and come up with some creative new foods. For example, the other night we had Thainese food for dinner. That's when you mix a frozen Thai noodly saucy thing with some frozen Chinese pork buns. It wasn't particularly good but the name is pretty catchy, you have to admit.

I see feta...I see pickles...and prunes. Hm. Should be good.
Lately we've been working diligently on a project I like to call Operation: Eat All of the Leftovers. We recently had a couple of events which required more shopping than usual. One required cheeses and snacks and sandwich supplies; the other required steak and mashed potatoes.

Paulie is really good at getting creative with food on its way to spoiling. We've had goat cheese and cabbage potato pancakes every morning this week.I'm not kidding.We've also had sandwiches using the various deli meats and cheeses, steak and cabbage tacos, turkey and cream cheese rolls made with tortillas because when we looked in the fridge that morning we realized we were out of day I bit into the burrito Paulie sent to work with me and I shit you not, it was filled with eggs, cheese, leftover beans, leftover potatoes, and leftover pasta. Fucking pasta salad, to be exact. I'm all about mixing worlds and stuff but this guy takes it to a whole new level.

What we don't end up finishing we feed to the chickens, who are all too happy to finish the 'almost made it!' last bit of cabbage in exchange for the faint hope of seeing an actual egg. Mostly they just follow us around bawking for more softening grapes and scraps of toast crust, then openly laughing at us when we check for eggs. They're like "ha ha, it's winter bitches! Maybe between the three of us we'll give you one in a couple of days, but probably not. Keep checking though, suckers!"

It's a good system.

So good, I'm not even worried about what I might find in today's burrito. Not even a little bit. Even though I know what we had for dinner last, you know what? It'll be fine. Bring on the leftover pho soup burrito - I'm ready.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Anger Management

Of the seven deadlies I'd say 'wrath' is my least favorite. I'm more of a 'gluttony' and 'sloth' type of guy. In fact, few of my friends have ever even seen me mad, though it does happen. Anger is perfectly normal. I'd like to say that my rare moments of fury are brought on by noble and worthy causes, like the protection of human rights, but that's never the case. The same level of blood-boiling rage usually witnessed when a mother is fighting to protect her child, or an innocent victim is served injustice, is sparked in me when I stub my toe while searching for my keys.

It's pathetic.

Yesterday was one of those 'perfect storm' type of days. The only real tragedy was I didn't get a job I was going for. A rare opportunity had opened up at work, a position that I was perfect for with a salary that was going to solve all of my problems, but it went to the other guy. That laid the foundation of my mood, but what really set me off was just your usual petty irritations.

After a full work day of outwardly being a good sport and inwardly wishing for terrible things to happen to good people, I headed out to pick the boys up on my way home. I needed groceries so I checked my bank balance to see if I'd won this month's round of overdraft roulette. You know that game where rent is due on the fifth and payday is on the seventh. I'd lost again and was $302 dollars overdrawn. You know what, FUCK YOU bank. No need to publish my balance in such a violent shade of crimson. I can see it's negative. Save the drama.

So dinner was on Discovercard. I picked the boys up from daycare and learned that, due to some missing keys, Liam stayed home from school and spent the entire rainy day inside, and Finn has decided that his new found ability to climb out of his crib was way more fun than napping. They were both completely nuts, and inexplicably covered in yogurt.

I took them home and stripped them (after waking Finn up from his ten minute car nap) and I made them three different dinners they didn't want. I took a little time to check my email and apply for an offer from my bank for a low interest credit card balance transfer. Unfortunately, the kind of bank that would offer me a balance transfer is the kind of slap dash organization that forgets to include a "SUBMIT" button on their lengthy application. As I was turning red, trying to snap my keyboard in half, and feeling the kind of rage that would have no hope of subsiding until morning, I hear Liam's voice.

"Daddy! Shoes!!"

And just like that I was all better. Completely restored.

It wasn't that it was his funniest bit (though it wasn't bad), it was the look of anticipation on his face. That "I'm wearing your size 14 shoes and it's hilarious, right?" look. You know, like eels have.

I think he knew I was having a rough time and he wanted to fix me. I picked him up and gave him hugs and kisses and told him he was hilarious. Meanwhile Finn was off in the corner contemplating a fist full of butt mud he'd just pulled off of his back after having the most catastrophic diaper blow out to date. Of course.