Tuesday, March 30, 2010

GI Jane, Grand Canyon rim to rim to rim, Gerbode Valley - Pelican Inn Ride

Yes, thank you all, my patient followers and not-so-patient followers.  I am now busy with work.  Needless to say, life goes on, and so should the Jib Jab.  There has been lots going on.  It's not that.  I just haven't had the luxury of so much blogging time.  It may even mean, Jib Jab gets more concise.  Heaven forbid.

Jib Jab and Swimming
So, getting to it, GI Jane.  One of my swim buddies, (starts with a D, ends with amon) sent an email to us, Zola swimmers, saying his inspiration for us is GI Jane.  Remember when she pulls master chief out of harm's way?  Remember her one-arm push-ups?  So, that's our inspiration for the Trans-Tahoe swim, coming up this summer.  I swam with this tight-knit group, as the new kid on the block, which is an oxy-moron because I am about 15 or more years older than everyone else on our team...  Anyways, there is a legendary battle with 'the girls' team.  I forget their name.  They always seem to win.  Last year, it seemed like the tide was turning.  As we were about 10 miles into the swim, we were gaining on them, about 100 meters every 30 minutes or so.  We were virtually neck and neck at 11 miles, and in the last mile, they disappeared.   I hoped it was behind us, but alas.  They beat us again.  We are sure they are cheating.

Jib Jab - continued - The Grand Canyon
On another note, my best buddy, and friend since college was out last week for work.  We got together, and did a little hike around my house, which is actually, a pretty amazing hike [note to self.  add pix]  You can see San Francisco, Stanford, east bay, the San Francisco bay, and bay trees.  Lots of them.  It's both wooded, and open fields, and very hilly.  It's an awesome trail, anyways, Mike is my favorite adventurer.  Just a super short list of some of our adventures, on the top of my mind; camping, fly fishing, Wind River, Wyoming.  Heli-skiing, Banff, Canada, Grand Canyon, rim to rim to rim, twice.  Numerous ski trips, and other fun stuff.  So, always wanting to take it one more level, Mike has been talking about rim to rim to rim, all in one day.  He has said it before, so this time he says, so, are you in?  I can't help myself.  I smile, and start laughing.  I know I can't say no, even though it's ridiculous.   So, I am like, okay, so, it's 50 miles, which, on a flat surface is probably a 15 hour hike at a fast pace.  The Grand Canyon adds about 35,000 feet of elevation change, both up and down, just guesstimating (nice word!).  So, yeah, all said, maybe a 20-22 hour hike, if all goes well.  With any hiccups.  Well, disaster.  So, he says, we better start training.  I love him. [i will add some pics]

Jib Jab -extreme - Mountain Biking
I think last section is the extreme, and this is continued, don't you think?  :-)
So, a new arena I have thrown myself into, and am loving is mountain biking.  I have some great new friends, and re-acquaintances, who I have been totally enjoying riding with, and getting educated on riding and trails to ride.  So, another friend and brother in law[starts with P and ends with ete] has been graciously and generously including me into his circle of life-long buddies he has been riding with, well, his whole life.  I have missed a couple of the rides, and especially missed going on the last one, as it sounded like a real adventure into areas uncharted by me [Tennessee valley].  So, he also sent, or forwarded another ride of another of his good friends, who lives by me.  I need to study it, but it's within 15 minutes of my house.  All these other rides are across the Golden Gate bridge, and beyond.  About an hour plus from my house.  So, that is good news, and it doesn't stop there.  The newest ride, I think is a long one.  Maybe 4 hours?  Gerbode Valley to Pelican Inn.  You may remember Pelican Inn from a previous post.  Awesome spot.
Good beer.  Super beautiful area.  Can't wait.  [another note, Matt essentially called me a sissy, until I do something called Alpine mtn, or something...more later....apparently, a long ride, 4 hours, and some hard hard sections...]

Jib Jab - PS Happy Birthday Sis!  [That's mom and Kathy].  We had my family, including Sarah's room mate and boyfriend, mom, Kathy and Mark down to Kabul's in San Carlos.  This is our local family Afgan restaurant.   We regularly get the same waiter, who we love, and who showers us with wisdom, sometimes at awkward lengths.  It's a great place.  Very good kabobs, of every meat, and always get the Kadu (is that how you say it?  - it's this amazing, delicious pumpkin with yogurt and meat sauce.  It's great with or without the meat sauce).  They have a whole veggie section of the menu too.
I guess it has been a while since I posted!!  We have been celebrating my sister's birthday.  Mom's in town.  Sarah's in town, her dear friend, Ann and Michael were in.   We went to one of my sister and Mark's favorite hang outs in San Francisco.  It's great food, super people, very cute place, newly spruced up.  It's called Ideale, at the corner of Columbus and Broadway- basically in the thick of North Beach, San Francisco.  [That's Kathy and Ann in the picture at Ideale.  Ann is Kathy's friend from Cherry Hills, going back to probably elementary school.]

What's next?  I am going to ABQ/ Santa Fe in April, next Friday.  I get to see some cliff dwellings, my sister and brother, and their families.  So, to all who have read to here, thanks!  Come back, I will post pictures.  Thanks for hanging in.  I am hoping to keep this up, even as my work schedule tightens...
That's mom and my sis.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Rocky Ridge Ride - Mount Tam

Awesome ride,
Fairfax, Deer Park, Rocky Ridge, 5 corners, Bon Tempe dam/lake, Java Hut. 
This is one we have done a few times. It's shorter than some, but some pretty serious hill climbing. It's a lot of fire roads, so plenty of space, but there are some challenging downs, too, and baby-head uphills and a couple really long uphill steeps.  

Jib Jab:
I wish I had a map of the area.  I can see the route, for the most part, but would love to have some reference, from a topo map or something.  I'm not sure how long or how much time we were on the trail.  

By the time we had a brat and a couple beers at Gestalt, it was 2pm.  We started at 10am or 10:15am.  My guess, we were on the trail about 2-2:30 hours.  It was perfect for me.  Hard, but not too hard.  Some long steeps, but not too long.  I cleared some stuff I haven't before.  And some technical sections, that were not too too technical, and again, I completed some stuff I walked/hiked through before.  All in all, I didn't hit it too hard, but somehow was able to stay on top of it more than usual... which made for a great day.  Some really nice progress and successes on the trail, and my trapezious didn't give me any trouble at all.

So, it was a great day for a few reasons.  I got the thumbs-up from the doc, to go ride. First day back on the bike after about a month. We had gorgeous weather- perfect for riding weather, actually. It could have been a bigger ride, but with my nascent shoulder recovery, I asked for a less challenging ride, just to ensure I would be able to ride again soon.  So, Chris and I had a great day on ms mt tam, and then a perfect conclusion at the Gestalt House, in Fairfax.

I have some photos, coming soon.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Vegetarian Mushroom and Barley Stew

This is based on a little known site, the star.  It's called a hearty vegetarian stew, a Barley and Mushroom stew.  I adapted it a little.  I made this for Moira, and Sarira, the vegetarians, for Saint Patrick's day.  The girls really liked it!!  I haven't even tried it yet...other than a small taste to check the flavor.

So, jumping right in, ingredients:

1/2 C dried porcini mushrooms  ( I didn't use these.  I think they would add some richness to the stew)
1 Tbsp Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 C carrots
1 C celery
3 C potatoes or about 4-5 potatoes - I used reds and yukons
6 garlic cloves, minced
4 C mushrooms - I just used standard mushrooms, sliced.  I think it would have been better to do some shitakes and oysters, to add more flavor
1/3 C pearled barley
2 tsp fresh thyme - i added a generous little bunch
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 C vegetable stock
Chopped parsley for garnish

Add 1 C of boiling water to cover porcini mushrooms and set aside.
Heat oil in large pot; add onion, carrot, celery, potatoes and garlic.
Saute until vegetables start to carmelize, about 12 minutes.
Save porcini juices.  Chop the porchins and add all the mushrooms to the pot.  Cook them
down about 5 minutes.

Add barley and cook, stirring, until shiny and coated. Stir in thyme, salt and pepper.
Add vegetable broth and porcini juice to stew.
Bring to boil and then simmer covered, about 30 minutes.
Garnish servings with chopped parsley.

Jib Jab
This was easy.  I wish I had the porchinis.  I used a lot of mushrooms.  I wonder if they would have been better if I had browned them a bit.  None-the-less, it was good, according to Moira.

Irish Soda Bread

Okay, credit to allrecipes.com - I am wondering if I should just link to this one, because I think I used this recipe directly, without changes.  If you want to see the original, it's called Amazingly Easy Irish Soda Bread.

So, 2 things.  Yes, it's amazingly easy, and yes, it's amazingly delicious.  Okay, and the best comments EVER on this one.  Gotta love those comments.

4 C white flour (you can substitute some wheat in there, but it makes it heavier, so not too too much)
4 Tbsp white sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick (1/2 C) butter, softened (okay, I changed to butter from margarine)
1 C buttermilk
1 egg

1/4 C butter, melted
1/4 C buttermilk

Preheat oven at 450 degrees.

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Add butter, and mix in well.  I used my hands.  You can use a pastry cutter or fork too.  Then add the buttermilk and egg.  Mix well.  Make into a ball, and put out on lightly floured counter.  Kneed a couple times.  Put the dough on a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Slice an X across the top with a knife.  Glaze with the butter mixture.  Bake until pretty brown at 450, about 20 minutes.  Keep an eye on it.  Lower to 350 to finish.  Check with a toothpick, to see if it comes out clean.  About 45 minutes plus or minus 10.

Jib Jab
This was so delicious.  Perfect crusty outside, soft inside and so tasty.  I could/should have doubled it.  Not one big loaf, but 2.

Irish Colcannon

Credit to Food Network again, for the basis for this recipe.  I love this FN recipe, because of all the comments!! It's a 5-star, but I always love everyone's comments.  Definitely the best part.

Above maybe all else, the Irish are known for their potatoes.   They don't eat as many as they used to, but still, about 300 pounds per person per year today.

The American traditional St Patrick's meal is corned beef and cabbage.  Well, we used to do this, and I used to look forward to it, and then about two years in a row, I tasted it, and thought...geez this is gross.   So fatty, so salty, and just, yuck.  I am sure the plastic-sealed corned beef probably was not the best, and if i remember, boiling huge chunks of cabbage and carrots and potatoes together...yeah.  Anyways, not my favorite.

On the other hand...this recipe rocks!  From what I hear, a common theme in Irish recipes is potatoes, cabbage and meat.  I think most colcannon recipes are that way.  I will look around to see.

Alright then.  Got off on a little Jib Jab, even before we got to business.

4 pounds potatoes, peeled and quartered (I used red and yukon, but russets are fine too)
2 sticks butter (1/2 pound)  (in the end, I didn't use it all)
1 1/4 C hot milk (just use the microwave - keeps your 'tates warm while mashing)
fresh ground black pepper
1 large head cabbage - cored and finely shredded into strips
12 oz bacon strips (the Irish would probably use a chunk of ham or bacon, boiled) fry the bacon, not too crisp, chop finely.  remove as much fat as possible with paper towels.
4 scallions, finely chopped (I omitted, due to dietary restrictions of a guest/sister)
chopped fresh parsley for garnish - use a lot

Boil potatoes for about 20-30 minutes, until tender.  Pour out the water, and start adding the butter and slowly add in the milk while mashing.  Add some ground pepper to taste.  Set aside.

Steam cabbage strips in a tiny bit of water, until they darken.  Just a couple minutes or so.  Add two Tbsp butter, and cover for 2 minutes. Drain if there is too much liquid. Remove from pan, and chop it up small.  Add to mashed potatoes.

Add chopped bacon and scallions to mashed potatoes.  If needed, and it may not, add salt/pepper to taste.
Serve a dollop on each plate, with a big divot/crater in the top, which you can add a pat of butter, followed by lots of fresh chopped parsley for garnish.

Final Jib Jab
At first, I hesitated on this recipe, which seemed too complicated, and would take too long.  In the end, it has a few steps, but each step is easy, and I simplified the meat by using sliced bacon.  I should have doubled this recipe.  It really went over well.  Better than I thought.  I made a vegetarian version for the girls, and skipped the scallions for my sis, and everybody loved it, and there were no left overs!  I didn't add the dollop of butter on everyone's, but did on a couple.  It's tasty, and not necessary....

Roasted Vegetable Irish Lamb Stew

First, credit to the Food Network Kitchen, for your recipe.  I leveraged it heavily below.  I had an idea of what I wanted to do, like using leeks and turnips, and this recipe added a bonus twist, which looked really good.  Roasting the vegetables. 

So, here we go.  I think I had enough for about 12 or maybe a couple more people.  I served 8 and I would say I had about a third left when we were finished....mmmm leftovers...

4 Tbsp Olive oil (I always use generously, so not sure how much I used)
1 boneless leg of lamb (5.5#-ish)  I diced it up myself, about 1 inch cubes
salt, pepper to taste
2 leeks chopped somewhat fine.  Just the white part.
1 onion, chopped
1/2 C flour
1 stick (1/4 #) butter
1 can Guinness (mine was a pint)
4 C beef stock
2 C of tomatoes - I used canned.  Just use a whole small can
1 pound parsnips, peeled and diced, about 1 inch cubes
1 pound carrots, peeled and diced, as above
3 pounds red and yukon potatoes, peeled and diced as above
7 cloves garlic, minced
6 sprigs rosemary, plus 2 Tbsp chopped ( I forgot the chopped!  Add it.)
2 C peas (I skipped this.  I might try this next time, and would use frozen, myself)
1 bunch parsley (chopped and use whole for garnish)

Preheat Oven 400 degrees.
Heat 2 Tbsp Olive oil in large pot.  Add lamb cubes and brown.  Remove browned lamb and set aside.  Add a touch more oil onion and leeks. Saute until soft.  Add the butter and flour to make roux.  Cook low to brown, about 15 minutes (I made the roux in another pan so I could use it in two recipes, one without leeks).  Add Guinness, stock, tomatoes and browned lamb.  Simmer for 90 minutes.

Roasted Vegetables
In a baking dish or sheet ( I used 2  9x13 inch dishes to spread the veggies out), mix together carrots, parsnips, potatoes, garlic, rosemary sprigs.  Salt and pepper to taste, then drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat vegetables.  Roast for 45 minutes, or until starting to brown, stirring every 15-20 minutes.  Remove rosemary sprigs.

Add roasted vegetables, peas (if you are using), chopped rosemary to stew.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Serve.  Garnish with chopped parsley.

St Paddy's Day - the day after

Everything turned out great.  We had 5 fewer guests than I expected, and we didn't make the Guinness Chocolate cake.  That said, it didn't seem to get in the way of us having a great time.  It was a big day, on a few fronts.  So, first, I think we made 6 dishes.  Probably an all-time high!  Okay, maybe not, but still, it was a lot.  I will post all the recipes as soon as I can.  I am nursing a super sore neck/shoulder, maybe some sort of repetitive stress, maybe from swimming or using the laptop..or maybe both or something else all together.  Anyways, getting an appointment for the doctor today.  Such a bummer!

St Patrick's day recipes:
- lamb stew without garlic, onions, or leeks - omit leek, onion, garlic
(because i love my sister, who is allergic)
- vegetarian mushroom and barley stew (i love you, mo!)
- roasted veggies irish lamb stew - i chopped up a whole leg of lamb, turnips, leeks, and roasted all the veggies before going in the stew
- colcannon (even my sisters didn't know colcannon is mashed potatoes and cabbage and ham)
- irish soda bread (dang, this was good!)
- guinness chocolate cake (okay, we got all the ingredients, but haven't made it yet.  i'm putting up the recipe anyways...)

Jib Jab
Just a few notes on the whole thing.  As usual, I scoured the Internet for recipes, and basically went to the store with ingredient lists for several versions of the above, so yes, I got a few too many things.  Extras include:  large turnip, stuff for chocolate cake.  extra 8 pack of Guinness, plus i think a couple in the first 8 pack.  I guess I was the only one dying for the Guinness.  A bunch of extra potatoes.

More Jib Jab
Cutting up the leg of lamb took a lot longer than I was planning.  Basically, about an hour.  I cut it up into small pieces, because I like it that way.  It's kind of hard to eat those big chunks, straight up.  After getting that ready, I browned it, and then split it into two pots, one for the onion-less version and the other for the rest of us.  Then I got the leeks and onions in there to saute.  Then it's major peeling and chopping veggies.  Thanks for chopping, Moira!  Carrots, 2 kinds of potatoes, parsnips - was that it?  So, cover in olive oil, add rosemary sprigs.  Roast in oven.  In the meantime, make a roux.  Add broth and tomatoes, split between two lamb stews.

While the others are roasting and simmering, get veggie stew going.  Onions, leeks and so on.  Then carrots, celery, mushrooms, potatoes, I forget what else.  Saute in olive oil.  Add broth, barley simmer.

While that's simmering, Moira is making vegan cupcakes for school, trying to use the oven at the same time.  Oh, and then making pesto... tons of fun!  For her no-meat club, they are serving vegan cupcakes and pesto pasta to non-converts, to show vegan is healthy, and delicious.  Go Mo and Sarira!

And then, do we still have time?  We have to!  Okay, Mark, you be in charge of the soda bread, and Kathy, will you do the colcannon? (while i micro-manage!)...  We pretty much ran out of pots and burners.  We were boiling potatoes, while steaming the cabbage, and cooking the bacon, with the other 3 stews going...and the vegetables in the oven.  yeah, it was a bit of a shuffle, and at the same time on 4 burners, pretty dang fun getting it all going...  Thanks Mark and Kathy!

The soda bread is so crazy easy (especially when you can tell someone else to do it :-)).  Basically, you mix all the dry ingredients, then cut in a stick of butter,
and shape into the loaf, slice a cross in it, and I had Mark glaze the top with a butter,/buttermilk mix to get it to brown nicely.  I did another thing, to speed things along, and I kinda remember seeing it somewhere - I threw it in the oven at 450 degrees, instead of 350 or something like that.  It took about 30 minutes to brown up, glazing it every 15 minutes or so.  Then after 30 min, I turned it down to 350 to cook the inside.  It turned out so perfect.  I have pictures, but I am not optimistic on how the pics turned out.

The colcannon was easy too, really.  Once I figured out what the recipes were saying.  Essentially, you make potatoes like mashers.  Peel, dice, boil, smash with butter and milk...little trick, heat the milk, then your 'tatos don't get cold.  The recipes call for ham or bacon slab or chunk or something like that.  I decided to go with bacon, american style bacon...hate to admit it, but oscar myer.  I know....but hey, it worked.  So, I just fried the bacon, tried to go not too crunchy, but not under done...so get all the grease off with paper towels, then dice, pretty finely.  I didn't want big chunks of meat in there...and actually I went way light on the quantity, because I was looking for just a hint of meat flavor.  The cabbage, just slice real thin, throw in pot, steam, add butter, once it goes darker green, then out, dice, and into the potatoes, with the bacon.  Done!!  Oh, and of course, a big pat of butter on every serving...and parsley chopped on top, as garnish.

Pog, thanks for bringing in the folding tables and chairs, and finding a table cloth and all that jazz.

So, there you have it!  We also had some nice Irish cheese.  I forget what kind, with crackers, and of course Guinness, and wine, and Coors.  We had the Collins' over.  Jim is Irish, and even has Irish citizenship, and so do their kids, Christian and Jillian.   Even with that said, they brought over their stout, which they only know me, who likes it...Jim is a Coors drinker...(which I like too!).

Everyone really liked their dinner.  Even Mark, who quietly brought baked chicken because he didn't think he liked lamb...  He was wrong.  :-)  The girls liked the vegetarian mushroom barley stew, and even Patrick and Bryce liked the lamb stew, potatoes and bread.   Dang, that was fun.  Finished off with an Irish cream liquor...nummm.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Saint Paddy's - any minute now!

I got a leg of lamb, a rack of lamb, lots of red and white potatoes, 2 cabbages, bacon, mushrooms, turnips, leeks, Guiness, and other stuff.  Getting the menu together for tomorrow...

Lamb Stew
Mushroom, leek, carrot, kale stew
Irish soda bread
Maybe potato leek soup (okay, maybe not)

I know, not many vegetables.  Hey, that's how us Irish roll. 
By the way, we have plenty of vegetables, other days. 
Can you tell, I am sleep-typing?

Happy Saint Paddy's Day.  Enjoy a drop of the craythur. 
Or, as my dearest sister-in-law says, how about a drop of the creature!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

St Paddy's Day plans

Today is another Jib Jab first.  I'm actually planning a post, before I've cooked it.  I am feeling a bit under the weather, so I am thinking about St Paddy's day.  I am thinking lamb stew, Irish soda bread, and not sure from there.  Yes, of course some Guinness.  And I haven't figured out the potato and cabbage recipes yet.  I am watching a Bobby Flay show on the food channel as we speak - he's full blooded Irish, and the show is on the food history of Ireland...let's see what we come up with. 

So, 92% of beer in Ireland is consumed in the Pubs.  Pub food is only 25 years old!- since the 70s... wait, the math seems to be not too robust there... Ireland is more relaxed than America.  Guinness has 70% of the beer market in Ireland.  The largest brewery in Europe. Irish Literature; Yates, Joyce, Beckett - drinkers with writing problems... gotta understand the pub culture...  Sir Walter Raleigh brought potatoes to Ireland in the 1600s, from America.  Then, they ate 10-12 pounds of potato per person per day before the blight.    Potatoes col-cannon.  Today, 300 pounds per person per year.  Red rooster potatoes are Irish.  Rice the potatoes.  York cabbage....deep fried potato bacon cabbage...brown bread...smoked salmon...the salt goes on the fillet to kill any bacteria, and draw the moisture to the surface before smoking...smoking takes a day or two or three.    Dorina Allen, Ballyboe Irish house cooking.  Bacon and cabbage is the Irish national food.  sliced cabbage, butter, cook with herbs.  scallion champ?  bacon, cabbage.    Ester Barron, Baron's bakery.  Waterford countyCrystalTeaJameson.  Irish are more like Mediterraneans than Europeans.  10,000 pubs are in Ireland. Tullamore Dew, Ireland

One last note.  What's the difference between Scotch and Irish whiskey?  A couple things.  Some I remember:  Irish uses some non-malted barley, and Scotch is all malted.  Irish malted barley is dried in kilns, whereas scotch is malted over peat bog fires.  Also, scotch is typically distilled twice.  Irish whiskey 3 times minimum.  So, to the single malt story.  There is no such version of Irish whiskey.  By definition, it has different types of barley used.  Malted barley, and raw.

I am thinking about Ireland again, from my mutt ancestry, I am mostly Irish, from my dad's side and 25% on mom's side.  My dad has a bit of a secret family history, which he really hasn't shared much of (hence the secrets).  There is definitely some severe mental illness involved, and probably other secret things as well.   I have heard bits and pieces.  It brings up strong emotions, and in general, has been dealt with by ignoring it, or at least not talking about it.   Well, my dad doesn't talk much all together.  Not sure if that's all part of the plan or just him.  All that said, I am curious about my Irish heritage.  I would love to go there, some day soon.

Okay, just thinking out loud on the menu, grocery store wise-
lamb - safeway or a better butcher
do i need oatmeal, wheat flour for the bread?
potatoes, carrots, ruddebeggas, turnips, barley, parsley for the stew, beef stock
potatoes and cabbage for the potatoes and cabbage
lamb chop appetizers?
Anyways, that's it for now.

It was a totally beautifully sunny warm day, and I was gonna go riding, but felt too achy, headache, bla bla bla.  Oh well, hopefully I will be better soon.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Something New

Patrick is swimming.  Moira and Patrick are getting up for breakfast.  I have been working in the gym.  My fish had babies!  I have a new job.

Peach pancakes with yogurt and peach sauce.  Peaches from Anne and Gary's garden, frozen. 

Pog has been talking about playing water polo next year for about 6 months.  Backstory: He quit soccer to play rugby.  He lasted a few weeks playing rugby, then quit.  So, for a few weeks, he has said, I am going to swim, twice a week.  And the weeks go by.  Pog, do you want to swim?  Not now, maybe later...was the typical response.  I am too tired.  I just want to chill.  Finally, he said, I promise.  I am going to swim twice this week.  Every day, Pog, how about today?  So, Finally, the week goes by, and no swimming.  So, then it's next week I will.

On Monday, he "swam".  It's a struggle.  He can't breathe and stroke.  The other shocker, is he asked me for coaching.  I thought, okay, get in, 1-2 tips, work on it, I will go do something else.  But he wanted me to stay.  And he kept working at it.  He had so much to learn.  At once, it was hard to see how far he had to go, and at the same time, admiring his determination.  I decided to sneak in a target.  500 meters.  And he made it.  It took an hour.  Whew.  Tuesday, he swam again.   Again, it was a struggle, and we set the same goal.  500 meters.   He made it this time in about 40 minutes.  We swam again on Wednesday and Thursday too.  Thursday it was about 30 minutes, and he swam the whole thing with me in the clubhouse.  Then no Friday, or Saturday.  And then, we went again on Sunday.  He was really swimming.  The whole length, breathing, albeit with extraordinary effort, but he had a rhythm going.  Dang!!  I am impressed.  Admiring him.  We went into the gym too, just for a short bit.  He benches about as much as me, he is really getting strong.  On top of it all, he has been talking with me.  Without arguing!  Anyways, I just wanted to jot that down.  It's really nice to think about.

Okay, the breakfast thing.  I've been talking about it, Moira has been talking about it.  She even said, she wants to get up early to sit down and eat breakfast before she goes to school, instead of frantically grabbing the toast Kirsty makes for them (and fruit and cheese).

So, I was thinking about balancing out my carb-loaded breakfast too, so I made oatmeal- steel cut, with filberts I toasted, and Breaburn (sp?) apples, sliced thin, and brown sugar.  Okay, still a lot of carbs there, but including nuts!!  So, this morning, I made the oatmeal, and tried to get Mo and Pog up.  It still seemed like they might, so I put the whole dang breakfast together, and sure enough, Mo comes out, all dressed up, and sits down, actually smiling, eating her oatmeal.  She said, wow, this is really good. (I frigging know!! It's outrageously good!!)  Every time, I am amazed how excited I am to see her happy from my cooking.  Well, anyone for that matter, but especially Mo, and Pog, who are on their own teenage journey.  So, yes, Pog too, but he doesn't like nuts in stuff, so I said what about your protein, Pog?  And strangly, he had this half drunk protien powder and milk thing in the fridge left over.  It looked horrible, so I offered to blend it with my new immersion mixer.  Dude, that thing rocks!!  It pulls the liquid under the blades, so no mess, and it blends like crazy, and so easy to clean!!!  So, yeah, he drank it.  I tasted it, and yeah, very pasty flavor, but drinkable!!  So, yeah.  Stupid, simple, but made my day.  Both kids with a reasonable breakfast.  [Okay, a crazy good breakfast, if I do say so!!]

Okay, there's been trauma in my fishtank.  We've reached a new equilibrium.  And...holy cat fish, we have babies!!  Little guppies everywhere.  I counted about 10.  Way cool.  So far, none of the other guys seem to be eating them either...so we will see...  Can you find him?

Finally, I have a new job.  I am product manager for a telco blade server line.  I am also newly an Oracle employee.  So, a couple of really brief thoughts on that.  1)  I am excited about this product.  Customers love it.  The value proposition is strong.  I have some background in the industry, so I don't feel completely like a fish out of water.  I am working with a team I used to work with.  They asked for me back, which is affirming.  My VP has been given new direction, and has asked us product managers to spend more time with our sales team and customers.  My sweet spot.  It's what I love.  [Jib Jabbing!]
Mom sent us some St Patrick's Day dish towels.  Totally made my day.  Woo hoo!

Okay, sneak peak on another topic.  We need a new family car.  I got a little windfall cash from the end of my Sun stock.  Sarah took the family car to LA for school.  With my new job, carpooling the kids is really getting cumbersome [although I love that little time with the kids in the afternoon].   So, just thinking about what to get.  Then thought, they can have my 10 year old car, and I get something.  So, I am just starting the process.  What to get.  So, I thought.  Hmmm.  How about a Porsche?   So, anyways, not sure it's what I want, but fun to think about.  I was looking at a 2003-2004 Boxster.  Total two seater, very fun looking.  Convertible.  Anyways, just thinking.  Actually, I am afraid I would like it about once a month, and the rest of the time, prefer something more like a Subaru or something...so, more to come on that.  I have been avoiding the BMW thing, but may have to revisit that.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Squaw Valley, Winter Olympics and more

I have a bunch more to add to this trip.  Here's some of the topics to come:
- Squaw Valley, 50 years after the Olympics, during the Vancouver Winter Olympics
- Giving up my dream to ski with my kids
- Skiing with the Newman's after 25 years of trying
- Skiing and sledding and playing with the Whyte/McDade side of the family (and Louie!)
- Skiing and snowboarding with the Reilly's, our new friends
- Hanging with my family in the mountains
- A new dream, and it's better
- Oh, the last picture is out of place.  I think that's the aspargas soup from the other day :-)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Minestrone Soup

I really wanted something tasty and hot, but not overly filling, and Minestrone came to mind.  I had an idea of what I wanted, but yes, I did take a look at Closet Kitchen, to see if he had anything of interest.  He did.  A minestrone with butternut squash.  I wanted to do that, but they were out of it at Whole Foods, so, modifications...  They had acorn squash, but I wasn't up for that and decided on potato.  I had lots of fresh herbs, and pretty much doubled all of them, and also browned the sage in butter.  Oh, he used sausage in his too, which I opted for on the side, since we have non-meat eaters in the house too - I love you Moira! :-)    I didn't do his cheesy toast this time, but did slice up a baguette and drizzled it with olive oil, salt and pepper, and broiled it.  I cut up the veggies smaller, like between 1/4 and 1/2 inch cubes.  It cooks faster and I wanted them that way.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Large yellow onion, chopped, diced
4 large cloves, minced
4 carrots, diced small
4 celery stalks, diced small
8 cups vegetable stock (Traders, low sodium, NOT the hearty)
1 28 oz can of plum tomatoes (Traders)
6 white potatoes, diced small - I prefer not to peel them
2 19 ounce can cannelloni beads (rinsed and drained- Trader's again)
2 Tbsp rosemary (chopped up)
2 T Tbsp Thyme
12 sage leaves - brown in butter, salt and pepper
6 bay leaves - I get em in the park behind our house....nice...!
pepper flakes to taste - i didn't use enough, maybe a teaspoon would be better
grated parmesan or other hard cheese
salt and pepper to taste
parsely, chopped, garnish

1 Heat the oil.  Saute the onions, 3-5 minutes, add garlic, 1 min, add the celery, carrots 3-5 more minutes.
2 Add stock, tomatoes, potatoes, beans and all the herbs and simmer for 20 minutes.
3 Grate the cheese, sprinkle on top, add parsely on top.  Serve with the toasted baguette slices.
4 We also had that italian sausage from Traders.  I cooked it on the grill, but you could do it on the stove, or whathaveyou.  Chop it up into slices, and add to soup.

Away you go!  Delicious.

Jib Jab
- It was good.  I wonder if I added too many herbs.  It just gets better the next day.  I will try it with butternut some day.  The potatoes were my thing.  Normally minestrone is with noodles.  You can try that.  I really liked the potatoes though.  That's it!