Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Weekend Warrior

It was just the other night that I sat at the side of their bed and marveled at their size. Two boys who used to share a crib with lots of space to share, now sleep in a queen size bed with legs outstretched, just a foot or so from the end of the bed. Sometimes they split the bed horizontally with Dean stretched out across the head of the bed, laying across all pillows and Jack will sprawl at the foot of the bed. Other nights they share their bed like a married couple, legs intertwined, faces tilted toward each other. Some nights they spoon, the one on the outside with his arms wrapped around the other.
It was just Thursday night that I sat looking at my boys. Tom came in and wondered what I was doing. They're not babies anymore, I said.
Friday night Jack was running a fever. His breathing wasn't normal. Jack breathes silently, with little movement. I decided to sleep with him, in case he needed me. A short time after I laid down with him, he woke up coughing, scared. He sounded like a wounded seal. We've been through this before, he and I. I gathered him in my arms and carried him to the bathroom. Soon, the bathroom is steamy and I'm holding him, rocking back and forth, memories of this dance running through my mind. In times past I would take him outside and lay on the chaise, letting the cool night air soothe his lungs, whispering to him what he was like as a baby to soothe his mind. This option was unavailable to us because of the fires of the previous week. There was still too much smoke in the air. One of the reasons he was having this cough in the first place, I believe. After 30 minutes in the steamy bathroom, we went back to bed. His breathing was better, still not great. We fell asleep. I dreamt that I was being chased.
Two hours later he woke again, coughing, sounding worse than before. Mommy! His voice sounded cracked, hoarse. Again, we headed to the bathroom. This time I contemplated taking him outside. Maybe the air wasn't as bad as I thought? I didn't want to risk it. We stayed in the steamy bathroom for another 30 minutes but his breathing wasn't much better. I tried settling into the recliner thinking maybe if we were propped up he'd be able to breathe. It didn't help. I knew there was a bottle of prednisone (steroids) in the fridge. I've been cautioned by the doctor to not give it to him unless he's wheezing. I'm holding him in my arms, he's hot and he's wheezing. I lay him on the couch and go to the kitchen. Carefully, I read the instructions, afraid in my sleep deprived state I'm going to give him too much. I gave him the prednisone and tylenol for his fever. I pulled him into me, he rested his head against my chest.
So many nights we spent on the couch when they were babies, sleeping on our chests.
We fell asleep on the couch.
Today? He's all better.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Let the Games Begin!

Um Kelsi?
It's the daycare.
Jack has a fever of 100.1 and Dean just threw up.

Happy Friday.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Chicken Tagine

This recipe came to me by my friend Jeanne. She says that it's a favorite in her house and even the kids like it!
Thanks Jeanne! Miss you!

Chicken Tagine with Pine-nut Couscous (Sunset Magazine, March 2007)

Most people think of traditional Moroccan tagines as being long-simmered lamb dishes. When prepared with quick-cooking chicken thighs, they're actually relatively fast to make. Fragrant spices give this dish vibrant layers of flavor, and the cooked-down dried fruits create a silken richness. Prep and Cook Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes.

2 tablespoons olive oil
6 bone-in chicken thighs (with skin)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
2 small dried red chiles, such as arbol
1 teaspoon salt
15 dried apricots, halved
15 pitted prunes, halved
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
5 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs plus 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
1 1/2 cups couscous
1/4 cup lightly toasted pine nuts
1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon zest

1. Heat oil in a 6- to 8-qt. heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken, skin side down, and cook until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Turn over and cook 3 minutes more. Transfer to a plate; repeat with remaining chicken and set aside.

2. Drain all but 2 tbsp. oil from pot and reduce heat to medium. Add onion and sauté until golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add cinnamon, turmeric, coriander, black pepper, cardamom pods, chiles, and salt and stir to combine. Return chicken to pot and add apricots, prunes, 2 cups chicken broth, and parsley sprigs. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer 40 minutes. Take pot off heat and remove parsley sprigs and chiles. Remove skin from chicken.

3. In a covered medium saucepan, bring remaining 2 cups chicken broth to a boil. Turn off heat, stir in couscous, cover, and let sit 5 minutes. Uncover pan and fluff couscous with a fork. Stir in 2 tbsp. minced parsley, pine nuts, and lemon zest and toss to combine. Mound couscous on a platter. Top with chicken thighs and pour sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tbsp. parsley.

Note: Nutritional analysis is per serving.

Yield: Makes 4 to 6 servings

CALORIES 793 (40% from fat); FAT 35g (sat 8.5g); PROTEIN 46g; CHOLESTEROL 124mg; SODIUM 1043mg; FIBER 6.2g; CARBOHYDRATE 75g

Sunset, MARCH 2007

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

More Pastusky Tales

At dinner last night, Dean informed us (me and Jack) that he heard from one of the kids at school that if you kill a pastusky bug that it will come back to life and kill people.

Jack was terrified. He didn't want to let on how scared he was but his eyes were big and round and he just looked at me with this worried expression.

Later that night, they were tucked into bed with the door open and my promise to check on them every 4, no 2, how 'bout 3 minutes. I went into the living room (which if you know my house is about 10 feet from their bedroom door) and fired up the TV. About 30 seconds later Jack comes over to the couch and in the smallest of voices tells me he's scared.

I told him he should be! The pastusky bug is known to be one of the most ferocious insects in all of blogland!!

Just kidding. I wrapped my arms around him and whispered that I needed to tell him something. Pastusky? No such thing. It doesn't exist.

But, don't let Dean find out about that, ok?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sick Day

Jack is sick today so I'm staying home with him. He's acting fine but he had a fever that started last night and lasted throughout the night. Dean is staying home, too but he's not really sick. He was coughing a lot last night but that's probably partly due to the Santa Ana winds that are whooshing through the valley.
Even illness manifests differently in these guys. For instance, Jack just acts very tired and sluggish when he's sick. His cheeks flush slightly, his eyes darken and get glassy and he always complains that he has a headache. He loses his appetite (unless it's dessert) and just wants to lay down. Last night, he only had a few bites of rice and some butterscotch pudding. Of course, during the day he was fine. He helped Tom trim the rosemary bush and played football with me.
Dean, on the other hand, wilts the second he doesn't feel well. He can't hide it at all. Heat radiates off him, he falls apart at every little thing, and he cries a lot.

I'm hoping that Jack's fever stays away and Dean's cough doesn't get any worse so we can be back to our regular routine tomorrow.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Friday, October 19, 2007


Dean: Mom? Do you know what a pastusky bug is?
Me: Uh, no.
Dean: Well, the pastusky bug is a little bug and it goes in your thumb here (points to thumb) and it travels up your arm and your body into your brain (emphasis his) and you know what it does? It puts the think in your brain. An' then? After it puts the think in your brain, it goes back down your body and out of your thumb and it evacerates. It does! It just disappears!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Pizza Party

Dean's pizza had a pesto base (fresh basil, parmesan cheese, toasted pine nuts, garlic and olive oil) with three cheeses: fontina, mozzarella and parmesan and a sprinkle of dried oregano on top. Baked in a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes. It was delicious.

Jack's pizza was a marinara base (jar of Newman's own Garlic and Basil marinara) with three cheeses: fontina, mozzarella and parmesan with dried oregano sprinkled on top. Also baked in a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes. It was also delicious.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Cauliflower Au Gratin and so much more

These recipes are courtesy of my brother, Chad. In my dream world we would live close enough to one another that we could collaborate on dinners together. He would be dancing around the kitchen, singing a goofy tune and taking long gulps from his Guinness - all the while effortlessly throwing together a delicious meal. I would be sitting back, taking notes.

one word: Cauliflower Au Gratin
simple, hearty vegetable side dish popular in southern France.

1 head of cauliflower.
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups hot milk
4 ounces cubed Gruyere (or Swiss) cheese
1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Mornay Sauce:
Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Add flour and cook slowly for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. The mixture should get foamy or frothy but not brown. Add the hot milk and whisk vigorously until smooth. Season and return to the heat and boil for about 1 minute over medium high heat. Remove from heat, add cheese and stir until incorporated completely. Makes about 2 1/4 cup.

Cut a head of cauliflower into florets. Steam until it falls apart, drain. Mash cauliflower in a casserole dish and sitr in Mornay Sauce. Sprinkle shredded parmesan and crisp under a broiler for 2-3 minutes.

two more words: Cazuela de Cabra
Warm tomato and goat cheese tappas dish (or appetizer) popular in Spain.

6 medium juicy tomatoes
1/3 c. dried basil - (or 1/4 c. fresh minced basil)
3/4 stick unsalted butter, cut into pats
8 oz plain white goat cheese, softened and mixed with 1/4 c. dried chervil
1 loaf crusty french bread, cut on the bias into 1/2 inch slices
1 small jar prepared pesto

Tomato basil beurre-blanc sauce:
Blanch tomatoes in a heavy sauce pan for about 1 minute (until skins become loose). Drain tomatoes and shock with ice, remove skins and return to heavy sauce pan
Add basil (if dried, wait if fresh) and cook over medium heat, about 10 minutes or until tomatoes have broken down - remove from heat (if you're using fresh basil, add it now). Wisk in pats of butter until it is all incorporated, and the sauce turns from reddish to pinkish.

Pesto toast:
Brush bread with pesto and flash under a broiler until crisp

Final prep:
Place cheese/herb blend in a mound in the middle a gratin, or shallow casserole dish. Pour tomato basil beurre-blanc sauce around the perimeter of the cheese mound (like a moat). Broil for 2 minutes, serve with pesto toast.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Rustic Mediterranean Chicken

Rustic Mediterranean Chicken Accompanied by Roasted Brussel Sprouts (serves 2)

Mediterranean Chicken

2 T. Olive Oil
2 Skinless/Boneless Chicken Breasts
Small Yellow Onion, coarsely chopped
1 Garlic clove, minced
½ C. White Wine
1 Can Diced Tomatoes
1 C. Chicken Broth
½ C. Pitted Kalamata Olives
1 T. Capers
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme

Rinse and pat dry the chicken breasts, season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Brown the chicken breasts on both sides then remove and hold on a plate. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute or so. Lower the heat to med-low, add the white wine and scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the canned tomatoes, including juice followed by the chicken broth. Let reduce for 5 minutes then add the chicken breasts back into the pot. Let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add olives and capers, oregano and thyme. Simmer another 5 minutes. Sauce should be fragrant and thick.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

¼ C. Olive Oil
1 lb. Brussel Sprouts (with outer leaves removed)
6 Pearl Onions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet w/ aluminum foil.
Rinse brussel sprouts and pat dry. Spread the brussel sprouts and pearl onions on the cookie sheet, season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Pour the olive oil over the vegetables. Toss with your hands until the vegetables are all well-coated with oil. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes.

Serve with Basmati rice, if desired.

If it's Sunday

It must be football.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Under Construction

Look for some additions (you might have noticed some already) to the blog! As part of my commitment to NaBloPoMo (which is nothing really, I just have to promise to post every single day for a month - p'shaw), I'm going to make a few changes to the blog. The overall color scheme and set up will stay but there will be some new features that will hopefully, help me get through NaBloPoMo without resorting to posts like this:

Today I got up and went to work.

You'll thank me later.

False Alarm?

When I picked up the boys yesterday, Dean was happily playing with the girls - B, her twin sister S and their friend E. When we were in the car and about to drive away, the twin girls were walking to their car with their dad. I lowered the windows so the boys could say goodbye and the girls waved back and yelled "We love you!".

Dean's ego has been saved.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

And so it begins

When I got to daycare today Jack ignored me. I waved and he just turned around and kept playing with his friend. I turned toward the back corner of the backyard to find Dean. He was by himself on the treehouse. Suddenly, he climbed down and started running toward me. He flung himself into my arms and buried his face in my shoulder. He seemed upset. I asked him what was wrong. Well, he said, no one wants to play with me so I'm playing by myself.
Oh, that hurts. I didn't think I'd be dealing with this yet. Especially since he's a twin. I thought he'd be thrilled to get to play by himself! He went on to tell me that he wanted to tell B_____ something but she wasn't listening to him. I looked over at B_____ who was playing with her twin sister and another little girl. I tried to explain to him that sometimes the girls just want to play together and may not want to do what he's doing. He didn't care. He still felt slighted. Then he asked me to follow him all over the backyard to see this treehouse? And this one has curtains? And this has curtains, too? Look at this! You get the picture. Finally, I told him it was time to go but no, he wanted to show me one more thing. Off we go back to the treehouse where he was when I arrived. He showed me that he could climb up the ladder to get up to the treehouse but there's an opening in the "fence" that surrounds it and he could jump from there to the ground (it's only 4 feet high).
I gush about how impressed I am. He's so strong, etc. etc. He goes to E__ (one of the girls with B_____) and wants to know if she'll come with him to the treehouse so he can show her a trick. She just looks at him and walks towards B_____ and her twin sister. Dean turns to me, pride injured, and says accusingly, "See what I mean!". He stomps up the ladder to the treehouse and announces, "No on will play with me!".
I look at him and say, "I'm playing with you".
He looks at me and with a sheepish grin says, "Oh. Right."


That's me committing to posting every single day in the month of November.


I promise you that by December you will be so sick of reading about what I ate for lunch that you'll be begging me to never do this again.


Monday, October 08, 2007

Quote of the Day

From Dean to his Dad:

Do you know what "weirdo" means?

It's dough that is weird.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Goofy Boys