Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Pitiful Peanut

More video was requested by the people at Jeff's office, so this is for them.

Drumroll, Please...

Tara is actually going to blog!

I have neglected my blog for a long time, so I am going to quickly update if I can before the Peanut wakes up.

So, we are about halfway through Kev's second week as a "Man of Leisure." It has been nice having him home, and we have done lots of family activities. I have also been cooking. Below is experimental Stuffed Artichokes from my New Orleans cookbook. They were good, but I will probably never make them again. Artichokes are a real pain to work with, and they proved in this case to be really only a vehicle for the stuffing, which was excellent. Next time, I will stuff mushrooms with it instead.

Our big outing last week was DOWNTOWN. We took the Peanut on the train, which is fun but is also a breeding ground for germs of all kinds and I was paranoid that we would all get sick. So far, we have survived. We got off the train at the West End, and wandered our way to the Dallas World Aquarium, via Downtown Corn Dog (below).

I could kick myself for not following the directions on the door, and getting N there for a corn dog. (I later read a review of the place that said it's very good!). The funny thing is, you can tell it used to be called Downtown CornyDog, but they scratched out the "Y." I guess they thought Corn Dog is a little classier.

Anyway, we made it to the Aquarium, which is a great place to go. There's me and the Peanut in a fish tank above. Fun times. Except when the toucan flew right at Daphne's face (it was behind a plexiglass panel) and she screamed like she saw Freddy Kruger. I am happy to report that nobody got pooped on by the Spoonbill this time.

After the aquarium, we walked to the House of Blues for lunch. Daphne was wearing the right hat for it! Man, oh man, do I love the House of Blues! It is a really cool place, and the food is terrific. It was a big day, and Daphne was wiped out.

Saturday night, Daphne spent the night with Gma and Gpa so Kev and I could go out. We had big plans to go bowling, but when we got to the place, there was a 2 hour wait, so we went to the Studio Movie Grill instead, and got tickets to the movie that was starting next. Unfortunately, this movie was "Vantage Point" and it was one of the worst movies we've ever seen. On top of a really gimmicky plot, there was a car chase scene that lasted about 30 minutes. It was really loud and stressful, and there were tons of scary crashes and by the time we left, my nerves were shot. But, at least I got to hang out with Kev and have a BBQ chicken wrap and sweet potato fries.

Sunday morning, Kev and I went back to the House of Blues for their Sunday Gospel Brunch. The food again was awesome, and included things like cheese grits and bread pudding. There was a big show on the stage...several large African-American women singing very shouty music about Jesus, while waving scarves all about. It was fun. Definitely something you don't see every day.

Yesterday, we went to the Arboretum for a picnic because it was 80 DEGREES. In February! More big fun. Daphne ran and ran. I got to see the first tulips of the year. So pretty.

Now I am tired. I need a day off from fun. Today it is windy and cold out. I am going to go take a little rest now.
Tomorrow night I am going to dinner with a couple of friends to a restaurant that is All Souffles, All the Time. I will report back.
So long for now.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Happiness in a 9 x 13

Officially, Kev's position on Valentine's Day is "against." This is based on it being a made-up holiday pushed upon us by the people of Russell Stover, Hallmark, Zales, and the like. I am pretty sure that a quick search of Wikipedia would prove that Valentine's Day was around long before "Every Kiss Began with Kay (sic)", but I can see his point. All that being said, Kev always gets me a nice gift and gives it to me the day before so as not to be accused of participating in the madness.

This year, he gave me a cookbook from Williams Sonoma's series of cookbooks from cities around the world. I got New Orleans, which is where we spent our honeymoon, and is the city, in my opinion, that has the best food on the planet. Williams Sonoma cookbooks are great because in addition to good recipes, there are lots and lots of pictures. It's a really nice gift.

So, I decided to try some of its recipes over the weekend, and I made variations of a grilled chicken in the book, and some fried bananas as well. But the best, BEST thing I made was a Cheese Grits Souffle. Oh my gosh. Just when you think cheese grits can't get any better, you find out it can be made into a SOUFFLE! I swear, I would have been happy if the grits were the whole meal. It was like eating a fluffy cloud of happiness. I know all the clouds in Heaven are made of Cheese Grits Souffle. I am tempted to make Saturday night officially Cheese Grits Souffle night at our house. Just look at them up there, all puffy and steamy and golden and cheesy.

So, happy Valentine's Day to me...I don't think Kev knew just what a great anti-Valentine he was giving me.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

My Funny Valentine


Daphne and I went on a Valentine's date today...breakfast and ice cream at the mall. She's a good little kid and we had fun. Now, I am going to take a Valentine's nap.

Groovy hat knitted by my friend Cheryl, who once had a cow in her living room. On purpose.

The Big V

Happy Valentine's Day to you all, and just for you, I have a little Valentine's Day tip: If you are having trouble expressing yourself to your friends and family this Valentine's Day, you can go here and get all the help you need by simply filling in the blanks. Have fun!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Na-Nanny Boo Boo

Na-Nanny Boo Boo
Originally uploaded by Tara H.

It's February, and we have spent the whole weekend playing outside. As Kev said, this is our reward for making it through August in Texas.

Yesterday we played in the yard, grilled burgers, and ate dinner on the front porch. Today we went to the lake and fed the ducks and coots and gulls.

It has been a good weekend.

And to make things even better, it is close enough to Mardi Gras that I decided to make Jambalaya for dinner. Hoooo-Weeee!

Just a note: We told Daphne to make a happy face for this picture, and this is what we got. I guess Fake Smiling is a skill that takes more time to develop.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Palo Pinto Kitchen Disaster Causes Panic, Ends Happily, Then Causes More Panic

Last night I decided to continue my effort at trying new recipes, and attempted this one for potato-chip crusted chicken. As I was putting the chicken in the pre-heated 450 degree oven, my hand slipped and all the chickens slid off the cookie sheet and onto the oven rack. Potato chip crumbs were everywhere, the oven started smoking, the fire alarm went off, and I ran around in circles like Robot from Lost in Space, crying "Danger! Danger!". What a mess. Dinner was ruined, the yummy Indian food smell was replaced by charred potato chip and smoke smell, my recently cleaned oven was no longer clean, and I got made fun of for crying, "Danger! Danger!".

So, we went to Gloria's and had a much better dinner. Everyone went to bed fat and happy.

Today, I debated about re-self-cleaning the oven. Mysterious comments from my cousin Brad made me concerned. But, since I needed to use the oven tonight, I decided to do it. Guess what. Just minutes ago, the house filled with smoke, and the smoke alarm went off and I saw a small flame in the oven. So, I turned on the vent, opened a window, and shut off the oven cleaner. And this time, I thought, "Danger! Danger!", but I did not cry it out, because I didn't want to wake Daphne unless we needed to run from the burning house.

The flaming stopped and the fire alarm stopped, and miraculously, Daphne slept through it all.

Maybe I better not be the one to teach Daphne to cook after all.

Parakeet Peter

A very special thanks to GG for sending me..uh, I mean Daphne... this great vintage children's book about a boy and his bird. I remember having some of these Elf books when I was a kid. This one is great. Daphne enjoyed it at story time the other night.

Speaking of birds, I walked outside this morning to check the temperature (hot) and saw a yellow-bellied sapsucker! It was cool.

Thanks, GG. Watch your mail for a surprise.

Chef Daphne's Cage

In response to my mentioning that I wish Daphne had a place to stand and help me cook, my dad went to Lowes and bought supplies to make this one-of-a-kind PVC pipe Sous Chef Cage. I am going to paint it a pretty color and let Daphne help me cook more often. The sooner she learns, the sooner she can take over. Thanks, Dad!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Tula '08

My penguin, Tula, had two more chicks this season, and in spite of a lot of difficult weather, they have both survived thus far. You can see them there, hiding behind their mommy. So dang cute.

If anyone is trying to think of an interesting and unique gift for Valentine's Day or whatever, I recommend this Adopt-a-Penguin program highly. Email me or Kev if you want more info. I originally got the gift of Tula from my brother-in-law, Pat, and it made me cry when I opened it. Not that it's that hard to make me cry. But still.

Weekend Update Update

OK, so I lied. There is nothing similar to the hot fudge cake in my chocolate cookbook. A little internet searching found lots of versions of this recipe, mostly the same, sometimes with vanilla and an egg. Here is one I found that is basically the same, but with coffee (and vanilla, and an egg yolk). I may give this a try next time. It might be a little better.

Weekend Update

So, I told you I was going to make this recipe. And I did. On Friday when I was at my parents' house, I made this cake, which is cakey on top and hot-fudgey on bottom.

Here it is with some ice cream. Looks pretty good, huh? To be quite honest, it wasn't that great. It needed something. More salt for sure, and maybe some vanilla. Plus, I had to use 1% milk, and I think whole milk would have been better. Anyway, I probably won't make it again anytime soon. But it was fun, and it wasn't bad. I think there is a similar recipe in my chocolate cookbook, so I will compare and contrast sometime in the near future.

The Peanut was sick on Friday and Saturday, but she was feeling better on Sunday so we went to the Arboretum. Not a lot going on there at the moment. Mostly pansies. But it was nice to get outside, and Daphne had a blast running and running and running.

Our Super Bowl Sunday meal was Rogan Josh (below). I LOVE Indian food! All the spices and herbs (above) make the house smell so good. Every once in a while this morning, I have caught a brief whiff of cardamom. Mmmmmm.

We watched the Super Bowl, which is weird. I haven't watched football in years, and don't care a bit about the teams that played yesterday. As usual, I was for the Jets. But since they weren't actually in the game, I found myself cheering for the Giants. Next best thing I guess. I love a good upset anyway. And Tom Petty was so great.
What kind of a name is Plaxico, anyway?
Hope all y'all had a good weekend.