Friday, October 24, 2008

Child Critic's Review of Odwalla Superfood

Quote of the Day:

"We're drinking motor oil with just a touch of poison in it."
--Cole, age 7

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Back To Basics

Judi: I dare say: you've given me a bit of a Fat Head with your lovely comment about searching out my recipes. Truth-be-told, I've neglected my freezer far too long, and my children have been subsisting almost entirely on the 160 lbs of jonagolds we picked a week and a half ago. They are actually to the point of begging me NOT to serve them apples anymore. Whoops. With Justin's help (I get dopey if I'm out of the kitchen too long) I finally made a meal plan yesterday--with plans to restock the upright built right in! Here's what's on the docket for this week:

Wednesday: my famous Hot & Sour Soup and potstickers (two batches--when it's available I eat this soup three meals a day, and for dessert)
Thursday: Homemade Spaghetti and salad (two batches--each batch makes about 12 servings, so we should get four meals out of this)
Friday: Brittany's Black Bean Soup and homemade cornbread (three batches--another favorite, and one that freezes well)
Saturday: ...taking a break from cooking...we'll have appetizers for dinner....
Sunday: Enchiladas Verdes (four batches; two pans for Sunday and two pans for the freezer)

Whew! When I started making my grocery list, I calculated that I needed 31 cups of chicken stock just for the next five days. 31 cups! I buy plenty of packaged stock, don't get me wrong, but with these numbers, it's worth making my own.

I think that people don't make their own stock anymore because they think it's scary, or time-consuming, but the truth is that it's easy and does most of its own work. Here's what I do:

Buy a whole chicken. Bring it home, unwrap it, rinse it under cold water and pull all the "extras" out of the cavity (I usually just toss these). Now at this point, you can decide whether you want to boil the whole chicken, boil part of the chicken, or roast the chicken. Boiling the whole chicken gives the most flavor, but you won't get to use any of the meat. Boiling part of the chicken gives you more bang for your buck, but it takes a few extra minutes since you have to cut off the breastmeat or whatever else you'd like to save. Roasting the chicken first makes the flavors deeper, and you can use some of the roasted meat before making your stock, but it will make a dark brown broth, which isn't suitable for some recipes that require a clear broth. You can't really make a "wrong choice" here, but it's worth thinking about what your end product will be.

Today I wanted a good clear broth (asian soups don't lend themselves to roasted stock) and the benefit of some of the meat, too. I carved my raw chicken and saved the breastmeat and thighs in a freezer bag to use later this week in the enchiladas. Everything else went in the stockpot. Now chop one onion, one carrot, and one rib of celery into chunky (like 2") pieces and toss those in, too. Add cold water to your pot until it covers all of that goodness by about an inch. Throw in 5 or 6 black peppercorns and a couple of sprigs of fresh parsley (or dried, in a pinch). Now, these are my two secret ingredients: seaweed and a splash of white wine. The wine (or you can use vinegar) in your cold water will work to draw calcium out of the bones--which we get excited about in our house, since we are sort of anti-dairy. And the seaweed adds so many amazing mineral and nutritional properties, but you won't notice the taste in the final product. I keep a small package of Kombu in my cupboard, and add a small piece to the water whenever I make stock. Don't wash it before adding it though, as you'll scrape off the white film--which contains much of the seaweed's nutritional makeup.

That's about it! See, now wasn't that easy? Set your heat a little past medium and check your (uncovered) pot anytime you happen to pass through the kitchen. Don't stir the pot at all, and don't let it come to a rolling boil. Once it really starts to bubble, it will develop a foamy cover on top, which you can skim off gently with a slotted spoon. At that point, go ahead and turn the heat down to medium-lowish and simmer gently, still uncovered, for a few hours while you go about your day. It will be done when two to three hours have passed, and you notice the level of the liquid has dropped about an inch. All the flavor should be gone from your chicken and vegetables. You can try a bit of chicken--if it doesn't taste completely bland and lifeless, keep cooking. You want all that goodness in your stock. Once you determine it's done, go ahead and pour it--through a colander or strainer--into a large bowl and let it cool. Refrigerating the stock overnight will set all the fat on the surface, and you can easily remove it before transferring your stock to the freezer. Just remember to portion it into smaller containers if you don't have plans to use the whole batch at once.

Yum! So economical, and good for the bod, too. I'm sitting here looking at the label of my Pacific Natural Foods Organic Free Range Chicken Broth, and it says: Organic chicken broth (filtered water, organic chicken), organic chicken flavor (organic chicken flavor, sea salt), natural chicken flavor (chicken stock, salt) sea salt, organic evaporated cane juice, organic onion powder, turmeric, organic flavor.

Now, does that make any sense to anyone else out there?

Know what's in my stock? Water, free-range chicken, carrots, celery, onion, black pepper, dried parsley flakes, kombu, vinegar. I like that ingredient list a whole lot better.

Heard Around The House

Mama: "If you put the clean dishes on your head, they're not clean anymore."

Cole: "I'm just like an orphan!"

Daddy: "....I'm thinking of making it my new profession, actually. I'm sure organized crime needs Project Managers..."

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Quote of the Day:

Mama (as Daddy comes in the back door from work): "So howzit in the world today?"

Daddy: "Not suitable for younger audiences..."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"Tag, Justin is it!"..."where did he go?"..."oh, there he is."

Hey, Justin here:

I didn’t know we were playing a game.

I feel like the kid who is in the field checking out some cool ant colony and all the other kids are playing tag and all of a sudden someone hits me on the back and yells “TAG YOU’RE IT” and I’m like, “Hey you almost stepped on this ant hill!” and that guy is like, “You’re IT man, stop looking at those bugs and play” and I’m like, “But I like ants and it’s sunny out and…I had…peanut butter for lunch…and that always makes me tired…and… (my voice is trailing off)” and that kid looks at me like I’m from space then he runs off to play with the kids that have already started again without him and I’m like, “hey…hey…I can play too” but they are gone and the peanut butter is making me tired again and I go back to watching my ants...

Thank you Dan for tagging me and making me feel included in this exclusive game.

Four things I was doing 10 years ago (not blogging on my wife’s blog site that’s for sure).

1. Digging myself out of an academic hole. My freshmen year of college was not my most productive year. I did poorly my first quarter (0.6 GPA) and the following 11 quarters were up hill the whole way. Ten years ago exactly, I was starting my junior year and loving my newly declared major (Psychology). I made it out in four years with a degree and a wife! Now that is some hard work, let me tell you.
2. Dating the hottest girl on campus. You know the type. The deep, artsy chick that cooks gourmet food, hangs out in cemeteries and won’t let you touch her pencils. Yeah, we were close. Btw: I ended up marring her and having 4 kids, but that is another story.
3. Eating dinner. “College Budget” dinner: Top Ramen, canned chili and Costco hotdogs almost every night. I know, gross. The only time, in my adult life, that I have put on any weight was in college. I gained 10 pounds (and then promptly lost it all my first year of marrige because we were dirt poor and I was unemployed and stressed out).
4. Playing video games. I lived in an apartment off campus with two roommates who had the TV on ALL the time. They were either watching MTV or playing video games every moment they were not in class. I joined in, often.

Four things on my “To-do-List” today:

1. Feed the chickens
2. Kiss my wife
3. Go to work
4. Play with my sons

Four random things I love about my wife:

1. She can make me laugh. I have a strange sense of humor. I usually only laugh when I see someone fall down or fall off of something or hit themselves with something. I don’t respond to stand-up comedy or “funny” movies (unless it is about people falling down). I don’t laugh at jokes or clever anecdotes. Kim can make me laugh (without falling down) on a regular basis. She has to catch me by surprise and she does. No one else can do that.
2. She can’t stand mold, spiders or wet cheese. So when those evil, menacing items of ugliness rear their awful heads I am called upon to dispose of them. I look like the “hero of the world” without much effort. It is like she is serving me up a huge slow soft ball that I can hit out of the park every time. The ego boost is nice. We haven’t ever had a moldy, wet piece of cheese shaped like a spider, but when that day comes, look out, cause I’ll win the day and get the girl.
3. She plays video games (I know I have already mentioned video games in this post. I enjoy responsibly. No, I do, really). She is a contender. When she was pregnant with our first child (Cole), she played through and beat The Legend of Zelda. As I am writing she is playing the LEGO Indiana Jones game with amazing speed and skill. It is nice to have an ally.
4. She tells me all the time that she would follow me anywhere. I believe her. She LOVES the Pacific Northwest and if I moved her anywhere else she would be miserable. I recognize the sacrifice she is willing to make. She loves me without any reservation.

Four jobs I have had:

1. Aluminum recycling. I worked at a recycling station in Kenmore every Saturday for a year and a half. I came home smelling like rotten beer and the bottom of my shoes were sticky.
2. Caddy. When I was 12 I was a caddy at a local country club in Cincinnati, Ohio. I learned what club to offer the golfers and how to wash a golf ball and where to walk on the green. The other caddies and I would drink soda and watch a black and white TV in a swelteringly hot caddy shack until we were called up.
3. Port of Anacortes maintenance worker. I worked at the Port of Anacortes for a summer in college. I was the lowest man on the ladder. I had to perform such duties as sanding and staining 1.5 miles of marina railing, cutting down acres of wetland at the airport and removing bloated seal carcasses from public beaches. That was pobably the pinacle of my working career.
4. Property Manager. In a tough financial time Kim and I were given an opportunity to manage a rental home. She did all the money stuff, and I did all the fixing stuff. I am glad we don’t have to do that any more. Cleaning dead cats out of the basement and evicting people are not high on my list of things I like to do, even for money.

Four movies I have watched more than once:

1. Good Will Hunting, because I feel like Will sometimes, not so much in the "genius" way, but in the “selling yourself short when God has something bigger and better” way.
2. Serenity, because I loved the TV show and the movie was like one big 2-hour last episode.
3. 12 Monkeys, because I like Sci-Fi and the concept of time travel and apocalyptic event scenarios.
4. Nacho Libre, mostly because my boys LOVE it and I love to watch it with them and pretend to be Luchadores with them.

Four places I have lived:

1. Medford, OR – It was where I was born and lived for the first year and a half of my life.
2. Cincinnati, OH – My family moved there in 86’ and I had to uproot and move for the first time in my life. Our first house was a hotel (3 months) then we moved to a 100 year old stone house on a highway across from a biker bar and finally to a house in the suburbs.
3. Seattle, WA – Well, not really Seattle, more like the surrounding areas. First to a tiny house in Lynnwood, then to a bigger house in Bothell and then to an apartment in Woodinville.
4. Portland, OR – After Medford my family moved to a white house in Portland then we moved to a cul-de-sac in Beaverton.

Four places I have been:

1. South Dakota, to see Mt. Rushmore.
2. The United Kingdom - Just me and a bicycle for one month in 96’.
3. Tennessee – To a lake called Lake Cumberland for a family vacation.
4. So-Cal – Kim kidnapped me and flew us to San Diego for a long weekend.
(to name a few)

Four places I want to visit:

1. Maine, for the weather.
2. Australia, for the water.
3. France, for the food.
4. New York, for the…atmosphere, I guess

Four TV shows I watch (on DVD):

1. The Office – kinda funny
2. Battlestar Galactica – Any show where there are robots taking over the planet, I’m in to.
3. Planet Earth – Not as good as the real thing but more of the earth than I will ever see in my lifetime.
4. Firefly – Cowboy Sci-fi with an Asian twist. Oh – yeah.

Four things you might not know about me:

1. I love sweeping. You heard me right. Give me a broom and a dirty floor and I am in heaven. My idea of a retirement job is an empty warehouse that needs to be swept every day. I love sweeping because I have all the time in the world to think. Sweeping in and of itself takes very little brainpower and leaves my mind free to explore.
2. I am an INTJ. Look up the Meyers-Briggs personality assessment and you will find out what that means. I don’t put a lot of faith in these tests because I believe we are more than a list of questions and can’t be quantified by a matrix of attributes, but it is the closest thing I have found to an explanation of my personality. But know this, I am deeper than those four letters!
3. Silence is golden. I need silence. I could be deaf and happy. I don’t like loud noises at all. I don’t usually listen to the radio in the car or at work. I am trying to teach my sons the value of quiet times.
4. I had (still have, I think) a Cabbage Patch doll when I was a kid. It wasn’t your normal Cabbage Patch. It was the knock-off brand that you could by at the fabric store where you would buy the “head” and use a pattern to make the body. My sisters were excited to go “pick out their head” and have my mom make the body. I went along with it and “picked out” my own head. It had green eyes and brown hair like me and I named him Oliver David. I dressed “Ollie” in my old baby cloths and he sat on my bed for 6 years and then he sat in my closet for 6 years and has been in a box for the last 12 years. What a life.

I don’t know anyone in Blogland who has not been tagged already, but here is my list.
1. Link (from The Legend of Zelda)
2. Al Gore (because he invented the Internet)
3. The state of Utah (it would be interesting to read what Utah was doing ten years ago)
4. Oliver David (I would like to make contact with my estranged son, so Ollie if you have access to a computer look me up, what are you like 24 now, man I wasted those last 18 years, maybe we can go an have a beer, you are old enough now, daddy loves you son.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Remembering Creation

Quote of the Day:

"I can't remember what it feeled like when God was making me." --Reese, age 4

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fall Window Hangings

I have to show you what we did this week. I've been so excited to make these window hangings with the boys since finding them here a few weeks ago; we finally bought a new roll of clear contact paper Monday morning and got to work. The boys had such fun, and they turned out so beautiful, and I am so in love with them-- I just sit and stare at the window all day long. You know how I feel about kids and art and how I wish I was creative enough to give my sons opportunities to just fill my house with color...

They're so lovely, truly. The photos don't do justice. I LOVE that Cole's is made of all the different bright fall colors, I LOVE that Reese's has that beautiful branch right in the middle, I LOVE that Reuben chose to do his ENTIRELY in green. They make me so happy.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


justin one:

nine years ago I said "I will"
eight years ago I said "I do"
today I say "I still"

my friend assures me:
it's all or nothing
I am not worried
I am not overly concerned

my friend implores me:

for one time only,

make an exception

I am not worried

wrap her up in a package of lies

send her off to a coconut island

I am not worried

I am not overly concerned

with the status of my emotions

oh, she says, we're changing

we're always changing

Remember when you were eighteen? So stubborn and bullheaded, so sure you knew what your future held, so in control. I was so captivated by you and calmed by your surety; your stubbornness thrilled me and frustrated me...

Remember rock climbing at the park and pizza on the scaffolding? Remember water towers at night and the ribbing of friends? Remember missing your One in England and lunch at Fridays?

Remember moving north, and starting again? Remember lawn games before dinner? Remember new books, new profs, new schedules to coordinate? Remember waiting to be buzzed in to the building? Remember calling Naked Guy and asking him to please put some clothes on? Remember rapelling off the look-out tower? Remember photographing the cemetary, and walking all the way home? Remember pre-bought tickets and (root) beers on the builders' swing?

Remember the realization that it wasn't a game anymore, that something bigger was beginning?

it does not bother me to say:
this isn't love
so if you don't want to talk about it then
it isn't love
and I guess I'm going to have to live with that
but I'm sure there's something in a shade of grey
or something in between
and I can always change my name
if that's what you mean

Remember loud silences and frenzied writings? Remember tearful walks in the night, muddling through miscommunications? Remember wanting so desperately to make it work? Remember knowing that something larger was at stake?

it seems like I should say:

as long as this is love....

but it's not all that easy

so maybe I should

snap her up in a butterfly net

pin her down on a photograph album

I am not worried

I've done this sort of thing before

...but then I start to think about the consequences

and I don't get no sleep in a quiet room

Remember waking exhausted, but starting another day?
Remember not giving up?

this time, when kindness falls like rain
it washes me away
and Anna begins to change my mind
and everytime she sneezes I believe it's love
and oh lord, I'm not ready for this sort of thing

she's talking in her sleep
it's keeping me awake
and Anna begins to toss and turn
and every word is nonsense
but I understand it all
lord, I'm not ready for this sort of thing

her kindness bangs a gong
it's moving me along
and Anna begins to fade away
it's chasing me away
she disappears and
oh lord, I'm not ready for this sort of thing

justin one:
thank you for taking a chance on us
eight years added to our cache of memories,
four olive shoots around your table

and I am crazy in love with you (I think hearts about you)

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Quote of the Day:

"Mom, COME QUICK! The world is falling apart!" --Cole, age 7

(I know. I was worried too. Apparently it was just a small matter with the globe.)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Tag, I'm It

So, back in August, my new bloggy friend leah tagged me for a blog post, and....well, I am apparently THAT behind. But it's great fun--and leah, I am doing this mainly for you, because my parents and my best friend (the only other people who read this blog) probably already know these things about me!

4 things

4 things I was doing 10 years ago:

1) Moving into my first apartment! Lovingly called the Peach Pit by the locals (90210 nod, yes?), it was a four-story peach stucco building on the south side of campus with bright turquoise doors. Lovely. (And all I could afford). On move-in day, I entered the apartment to find candles burning and the TV blaring, and the roommate nowhere to be seen (she was in another part of the building visiting a neighbor). I wondered what I had gotten myself into....but sure enough, we survived two years in that flat with no fires! Hurrah!
2) Swooning over My One, knowing that he was absolutely the missing half of me and trying to do the hard work of sorting through our baggage ahead of time so that we could (hopefully) have an uncomplicated marriage in the future...
3) Volunteering as a counselor at the local pregnancy center. Important work, yes, but very overwhelming. Every Friday afternoon, when I returned home from my shift, I would collapse on top of my bed and sleep for about three hours--sleep being my No. 1 Coping Mechanism.
4) Biting my nails off with the stress of having to "write on cue" for all of my major classes.

4 things on my to-do list for today:

1) Make 7-layer burritos for dinner (check)
2) Make a model of the Nile River, plant its banks with Cereal Rye and flood it to make the crops grow (tabled--forgot to buy the potting soil)
3) Wash a load of cloth dipes (check)
4) Spend 15 mins cleaning my entryway (Flylady....check....good thing, too, since one of the boxes sitting there has been there since July!)

4 random things I love about my husband:

1) He understands me. Absolutely. My every moment, be it Crazy, Scattered, Furious, Weepy or Stressed (how are those for dwarves?) fits perfectly into his understanding of who I am....which means that he is never surprised by me....and which means that I never have to be something that I am not. He loves me unconditionally.
2) He turns the light off for me when I fall asleep reading, and tells me stories on the nights I can't sleep.
3) He has gifted me with my four most favorite sons on this planet.
4) He knows how to FIX stuff....anything! Oh, and he sews. And irons. (Is that six? Sorry.)

4 jobs that I have had:

1) Restaurant critic for a local online guide.
2) THE BEST bagel sandwich maker. Test me on this. You will not be disappointed.
3) A server at Red Robin. Yes, I made good money, No, I didn't like it (I had to talk to people--apparently that's part of the job), Yes, I once dumped a chocolate milkshake on a little boy, No, he didn't sue.
4) Vault teller at our local credit union--a job I LOVED (money and numbers, ahh)--and would have done longer if God hadn't decided that honeymoon babies are cool.

4 movies I have watched more than once:

1) The Office DVDs (standard Sunday afternoon fare at our house)
2) Pike Place Market: soul of a city (my mother-in-law bought this for me and I can't tell you how many times I've watched it...Great background movie for laundry folding!)
3) Sliding Doors
4) Keeping the Faith know what I have never watched, even though it's sitting on my shelf? My wedding video!

4 places I have lived:

1) my childhood home in Kirkland WA--where I lived until I moved away to college

2) on the 39th floor of a 42 floor highrise in Honolulu...but just for a summer

3) in a condo on a golf course on Hawaii....but just for a summer

4) in a teensy shoebox of a house on Iron Street...our first house!

4 places I have been:

1) building a church in Jamaica

2) at the theatre in London

3) at the rim of the crater on Mt St Helens

4) wandering the Louvre and Notre Dame

4 places I want to visit:

1) the Grand Canyon

2) Alaska

3) Norway

4) Greece

4 TV shows I watch (on our two channels! woohoo!):
1) Survivor
2) The Office
3) Cosby show reruns
4) The Andy Griffith show

4 things you (leah) may not know about me:
1) When I was little I was a tomboy too. Most of my best friends were boys. Two of my girlfriends and I started a club where we gave ourselves boys' names: Tom, Tommy and Thomas. I was Thomas. I wanted to have a baby brother and live on a farm.
2) My dad helped me buy my first car at 17 so I could start classes at the local community college. It was a stick shift and I was anxious about driving it...and about going to college...and on my first day, I missed my exit back to high school and ended up in downtown Seattle!
3) In high school, I took Photography, International Cuisine and Auto Technology.
4) In kindergarten, I won a goldfish at my school's Harvest Carnival. It went on to live for five years and got me into a lot of trouble. It would jump out of the water at night and the splashing kept me from sleeping. Of course my parents didn't buy that story and I got reprimanded often for making up untruths about the poor goldfish and not staying in my bed. (they finally saw him one night and all was made right!)

Your turn! The four people I tag are:
1) Jill (can you do this with dial-up?!)
2) Karissa
3) Janine
4) Lynne!