Thursday, July 22, 2010

Nursery Update

So, Theodore has gone from the bassinet in our room to the crib in his own room. I made him a bumper and crib skirt a while ago, and we finally bought his crib and put that together. We added a few more touches- his hand and feet prints on canvases, and some fish hanging from the ceiling for baby to look up at.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Blueberry Adventures (and Other Produce Pursuits)

So this summer, two of our main sources of entertainment have been going to farmer's markets and orchards. Two things I never really did in my own childhood. Since I lived on a farm there was no reason. We could get fresh eggs from an aunt or pick strawberries from my grandmother's patch. We didn't need a market or an orchard to help us connect to our own food supply. But out here in Delaware, we need to.

We've been up to Wilmington for a small farmers market in Little Italy (Saturdays, 9-1, 8th & Bancroft Parkway), headed over to U of D's own market on campus at Mentors' Circle (11-2 on Thursdays), and found the best selection at Newark's own farmer's market that operates every Sunday (10-2, 280 East Main Street) where we can easily head to after church. Among other things, we've gotten a lot of green beans, some rhubarb (made my first strawberry-rhubarb pie-it was fantastic), fresh herbs, and of course baked goods for Brian.
Theodore at the UD Farmer's Market.

Milburn Orchard has also been a favorite destination of ours this summer, and for the first time in well over a decade, my blueberry feign of a husband got to go blueberry picking. It was the orchard's first year for blueberries, and they had three different varieties to choose from. The first variety is probably the reason I mistakenly thought I didn't like blueberries. They just don't hit my taste buds right. But in the following rows, I finally realized that blueberries might not be so bad after all. For years I have baked blueberry pies without tasting them, skipped the blueberry sauce on waffles, and picked blueberries out of fruit salads. I just thought they were not the berry for me. However, by that night around 9:30 pm I had a piece of blueberry pie that made me seriously doubt my behavior. IT was delicious! I can understand now why Brian is always begging me to make this pie for him.
Since we the perfect fresh blueberries to use, I went all out and even made the pie crust from scratch, and watched the blueberries go from this:

We had a fun time at the orchard, though we are still riding this East coast heat wave to the fullest. Theodore and I ended up back in the car in the air conditioning while Brian was still picking. He would have probably stayed out there until his basket was full if I let him.

I've also kind of fell in love with my mother-in-law's garden this summer. I love to see things growing, and her garden has so much variety. She brought us out a bunch of peppers and eggplant and kohlrabi among other things. It's even better than a farmer's market.

First Haircut

Theodore had a bit of a mullet going on, so we decided to give him a little trim and clean it up a bit. He wasn't so happy about it.

It's a little off, but hopefully it grows in well. It also shows his birthmark. Apparently, Brian's brother and mother both have some sort of red marks on the back of their neck, and Theodore does as well.

Shy-Tomato Salsa

This weekend we have been embarking on tomatillo adventures. Brian bought two of these little "shy-tomatoes" a week or so ago and thought he might use them in a salmon dish. He didn't (thankfully, his salmon is perfect the way it is) and they sat on the counter and stared at us for a while, daring us to use them in something else. Neither of us have ever saw the inside of a tomatillo, and really didn't know how to use them. So I looked up recipes and found one for tomatillo salsa, and one for a pork and tomatillo stew. Together I needed 2 1/2 pounds of tomatillos, so I headed to Acme and got some more to go with the two lonely tomatillos on our counter.

Now of course I made the silliest mistake a math teacher can make, and didn't pay attention to units while I was weighing my tomatillos, and bought 2 Kilograms instead, which gave me about 4 1/2 pounds of tomatillos. I blame Theodore being so cute on my distraction. So, with so many tomatillos I went ahead and made the salsa in a regular batch, and once we knew it turned out well, we made a second batch, which is where these photos come from. The stew also turned out fairly well... and if I ever have another morning like this one where I'm up at 5 and can't sleep, I might just post it as well.

So, for those of you that have never used tomatillos either, let me give a little background. They called green tomatoes in Mexico because they basically look like a tomato, but they grow inside of a husk. Though similar to tomatoes, though they taste distinctly different. Brian named them shy-tomatoes because they are modest in hiding behind their husk. They are found near the chilies or tomatoes in the produce section.

The husk peels off easily when they are ripe.They are a little sticky under the husk, but a good brush and rinse of water takes care of that.I advise you to look very carefully for any holes, because as I was reminded this weekend, this is real fruit, that grows in real fields, where they are real bugs. After I had rinsed all the fruit and let it dry in the colander, I came back a couple minutes later and found this little "friend". Though I am a farm girl through and through, I still don't take well to finding something like this in my food, and ran screaming to the other end of the house, waking my sleeping son on the way. Brian took this picture before he took this particular tomatillo as far away from me as possible.
After that chaos died down, I was able to settle down and get to work making this salsa. All it involves is a little chopping and a little blending. My two favorite cooking techniques!
You need:
1 1/2 lb tomatillos
fresh juice from one lime
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1/2 cup cilantro leaves (full, packed 1/2 cup)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
3 Serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped
Salt to taste

After you have cleaned the tomatillos as shown above, place them in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove tomatillos with a slotted spoon.

While they are simmering, prepare the rest of your ingredients. Since it is all going to be blended, it doesn't really matter if the chopping is precise. I just like to cut up things, so I probably chopped a little smaller than necessary. I also had Brian slice the tomatillos as we added them to the blender in the next step, just because I was paranoid of finding more friends.
Once the tomatillos are done, place the tomatillos, lime juice, onions, cilantro, sugar and peppers in a blender (or food processor) and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and mixed. Season to taste with salt. Cool in refrigerator.
That's it!! It's so simple!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cooperstown, NY

Sunday and Monday we spent a packed two days in the quaint and beautiful little village called Cooperstown. Known as the baseball capital of the world, it was a perfect trip centered around this American pastime. My friend Mariah's little brother Walker was playing in a tourney at the Cooperstown Dreams Park, and we trekked up toward Albany to be a part of the action.

Our first stop of the trip was Brooks House of Bar-B-Que. We called ahead and grabbed take-out to eat on the picnic tables while Theodore continued to nap in the car beside us. I normally don't eat chicken off the bone, but this was excellent stuff. I liked that it was a dry barbeque, without the sauce, though Brian and I both agreed it would be good to have a little sauce to dip the breast meat in. This was one of many places we visited that Rachael Ray suggested in her Aug 09 magazine. That article alone was enough to get me up to Cooperstown.

Our first stop in Cooperstown itself was the National Baseball Hall of Fame. It seemed like we had to look all over town, but we eventually found a parking spot right behind the museum. I would definitely suggest looking into the park and ride trains or trolleys to avoid the parking issues next time. We had an enjoyable time here, as anyone who knows Brian knows how he can read every article in a museum and spend the whole day soaking up information. I had to drag him out of there so we could get to Cooperstown Dreams park for one of Walker's games. When we got there they weren't doing too hot, but they soon put Walker in to pitch and the Wizards won a great game.

The next day, after an early morning game, we headed to Brewery Ommegang to have a tasting of the Belgian brews, and enjoy the scenery. A free tour accompanied the tasting, though I was disappointed they didn't actually have the bottling going. I would have loved to see that. After trying all the brews, I was able to finally get a handle on just what kind of ales I like (and don't). I always end up asking Brian if I'll like something, because I can never remember all the different kinds. I of course liked their lightest beer Witte, but also enjoyed Rare Vos as a great drink, and appreciated the quadruple Three Philosophers, though that may be partly because she had us try it with a side of dark chocolate. I wasn't a big fan of the BPA or the Abbey Ale (maybe the licorice turned me off?), but would love to try their Hennepin with some roasted chicken.
From here we followed Rachel Ray's advice to Alex and Ika where I agree that the BST (bacon, spinach, tomato) is a great sammy, and the fingerling potato fries live up to their praises (the Chipotle Aioli Dip was to die for). The last establishment we visited was The Penguin, an ice cream shop that boasted "custom ice cream". They basically take regular hard ice cream and blend in your toppings, more like a DQ Blizzard than a Cold Stone Mix-In but still being hard ice cream, not soft. I had a cone with butter pecan though and thought it was pretty great.

We enjoyed one last game before we headed back from an awesome trip.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Book Recommendation: Pride and Prejudice

So I picked up this the other day at the bookstore, keeping with my desire to catch up on "the classics."  Once I started reading it, the prose felt so familiar and I wondered if this was just from seeing glimpses of the movie from time to time over the year. I didn't think I had ever watched the movie in it's entirety, or read the book, but by the time I finished with Jane Austen's prose, I was convinced that I had just read "Pride and Prejudice" for a second time. For whatever reason that I don't remember the first time I read it, I will definitely not be forgetting Miss Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy again anytime soon. Now that I'm more accustomed to reading things written in the early English dialect, I could find the comedy behind the words and truly enjoy this story. Though Theodore was not nearly as interested in it as I was :)

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Philly Fourth

This year we headed up to Philadelphia for their big July 4th celebration. Wanting to avoid traffic, we "park and rode" up there from the outskirts of the city (Marcus Hook). Had it been a weekday, we could have just rode from Wilmington or Newark, but those trains don't run on Saturday. Theodore just loved watching everything go by on the train, and I laughed as his eyes moved back and forth tracking passing objects. We have not really spent a lot of time in that part of Philly, so it was a bit of an adventure for us. 30th St. Station was our destination, which is a classic train station that is actually listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built in the 30s, back when beauty and details in architecture was considered a necessity in public buildings. Check out the columns in the picture linked above.

Once we got down to the "Party on the Parkway" (after just a few mistaken streets) we scoped out the place and got down to business getting dinner. We had some pretty good gyros and humus, something I would never pick out on my own but Brian suggested we try it. I always forget that I really like Mediterranean/Greek food, and it reminded me of the place in Arizona that we infrequently got to enjoy, The Phoenicia Cafe.

The Benjamin Franklin Parkway leads right up to the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum (think Rocky Balboa) and looked beautiful lit up in the evening.

(We were about half way down the street in this picture... and it actually goes a lot further.)
(Theodore in full patriotic regalia.)

We found a decent place to set down our blanket in the shade, and we relaxed and enjoyed the music. Theodore napped through most of his first official concert, but did wake-up and enjoy dancing with mama for some of it. Green River Ordinance were a pretty good start to the show, and then The Roots helped put us in a decidedly Philadelphian state of mind. The Goo Goo Dolls finished off the night. Unfortunately, by the time they were over, we had to start heading back to the station for our 11:50 (!) train back (the last train of the night). Apparently, there was some miscommunication about the start time of the fireworks, and they didn't start until way too late in our opinion. We had to watch them as we walked. Had they shortened all the music a bit and started the fireworks sooner, it would definitely have been a perfect July 4th.

Friday, July 2, 2010

In Lewes

So back in June, we spent a few nights in Lewes while I had a training down there and Brian didn't want to stay in Newark alone with the baby. Here are a few pics:

Brian and the baby spent a lot of time admiring the "Cannonball House."

And spent some time planning for their future boating adventures.

We went back to Cape Henlopen, where Theodore became the cutest little beach baby ever.

We also enjoyed a fancy, delicious meal at Kindle. And of course, as is our tradition, found the best ice cream in town at King's Ice Cream Shoppe. Otherwise, we just enjoyed spending time strolling the streets and admiring all the beach front houses, and chatting with the very friendly locals.