Monday, June 28, 2010

Doing Food Penance

I am trying with all my Nesting Ground Mistress might to correct the terribly wrong nutritional turn our lives have taken. It's been weeks now since I became utterly overwhelmed and gave up on any attempt to bring at least SOME healthy food to the ballpark. Good-bye to fruits and carrots, and whassup to nachos, burgers, fries, polish sausage, etc. etc. ad nauseum. It's mortifying, really, to think of all the badness we've consumed. I didn't want to shock our systems by swinging too wildly back into the direction of a healthy diet, though, and so began easing our return to the world of proper living with a little Joe's Special tonight. Ground beef, yes, but with forty thousand pounds of spinach. Some potatoes on the side, yes, but roasted rather than fried. I hope this works or, frankly, WE ARE GONNA DIE.

In other news, I recently attended the 40th birthday party of my very sweet friend, J. at a shmancy locale in lovely Woodside. Let us discuss the appetizers. Why? Because they made me so happy I wanted to...sing. There were gougeres super-fresh from the oven; crunchy crostini with that super-milky mozzarella and tomatoes; demitasse cups of sweet corn chowder; prawns with some sort of spicy sauce, etc. I was so over-zealous (perhaps it was because of my near-constant diet of "snack shack" food) that by the time our actual dinner was served I was seriously regretting having Spanx-ed myself into my dress. My kingdom for a muumuu! Or at least something A-line.

Elsewhere in food...maybe things are not as gastronomically dire as I think. The other night (but when was it? Two weeks ago? Three? Everything is a huge softball blur...) I finally made the Slanted Door's Chicken in Caramel Sauce. I have a problem, though, with the name of this dish. Chicken in Caramel Sauce? Simply having brown sugar as an ingredient does not necessitate the use of caramel as descriptor, especially when the resulting dish tastes nothing like caramel. So, that's confusing. What's not confusing is the fact that it's so good and easy, and that the sauce over rice will make you dance a little dance, and that it's as satisfying as adobo in like a fraction of the time. I am a kind and thoughtful Nesting Ground Mistress, so I am cut and pasting the recipe here. If nobody currently loves you, you should make this, and then everyone will:

Chicken in Caramel Sauce

Serves 4 to 6

The inspiration for this dish that Charles Phan serves at his Slanted Door restaurant in San Francisco came from a street cart in Vietnam. It's a good example of the great food that is served from street stands throughout that country.

1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup Asian fish sauce (see Note)
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dark or regular soy sauce
1 teaspoon slivered ginger
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 small Thai chiles (fresh or dried), broken in half
1tablespoon canola oil
1 shallot, sliced
1 3/4 pounds skinless, boneless dark-meat chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 pound skinless, boneless white-meat chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
Steamed white rice
Cilantro sprigs for garnish

Instructions: Combine the brown sugar, water, fish sauce, vinegar, garlic, soy sauce, ginger, pepper and chiles in a small bowl. Mix well, and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large pot over high heat. Add the shallot and saute until brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the chicken and saute until it is slightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Add the sauce mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced by half, about 12 to 20 minutes depending on the pot size. Serve over rice and garnish with cilantro.

via the San Francisco Chronicle


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Good Day, Mini Rant, 500 Books, and Softball

Yesterday was my definition of a pretty much perfect Summer day. Behold:

1) Slept in slightly, awoke, made chocolate chip pancakes, ate one too many
2) Pilates. Ouch.
3) Drove to Menlo Park with the kids, singing Journey songs super-loud while enjoying the scenic 280 route
4) Ate a shrimp melt on sourdough for lunch
5) Moseyed over to Kepler's Books, where we browsed for well over an hour. Purchased 12 books.
6) Left and had chocolate milkshakes at McDonald's (and we're still alive!)
7) Drove to Risa's softball practice and, since it went for FOUR hours, played at the park with the other two and read our books

Lovely day.


So, I've been disheartened by the constant barrage of complaints about President Obama. He's doing too much say some. But...isn't there an awful lot to do? And doesn't the list keep growing? He's not doing anything say others. Really? Maybe he'd get more done playing cowboy every other week at his Texas ranch like his predecessor? He's not doing exactly what I want him to do so he's an idiot others seem to be saying. I don't feel like there's an awful lot of time for special interests at the moment, do you? In the immortal words of LOST's Jack: "Live together or die alone." We can get to the special things when the not-so-special things have been resolved. He's going to be a one-term President scream the gloom-and-doom crew. Well, you know what? I hope he IS a one-term President just so he doesn't have to put up with this crap anymore. Jeeeezus.

I appreciate what Andrew Sullivan has to say in his Getting Shit Done post. Here's a piece of it:

I sure understand why people feel powerless and angry about the vast forces that control our lives and over which we seem to have only fitful control - big government and big business. But it seems to me vital to keep our heads and remain focused on what substantively can be done to address real problems, and judge Obama on those terms. When you do, you realize that the left's "disgruntleist" faction needs to take a chill pill.

And also:

[Obama's] refusal to pose as a presidential magician, and his resistance to taking the bait of the fetid right (he's president - not a cable news host) seems to me to show not weakness, but a lethal and patient strength. And a resilient ambition.

You can read the rest here. It's really good.


The kids have created a family goal of reading 500 books before school starts again. We have about ten under our belts so far, but these deserve special distinction:

Henry and Beezus by Beverly Cleary - read this out loud to Lea at bedtime.
The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen - I just finished this; I thought it was amazing. Go get it.
The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo - read this out loud to them. Another good one.
The Sisters Eight, Book 5 by Lauren Baratz-Logsted - Vida and Risa love this series.
Sophie The Awesome by Lara Bergen - Lea thought this book was pretty funny.


This coming weekend is yet another one devoted entirely to softball. But whenever I look at this picture of Risa with her teammates, I can't find the heart to complain. Look at her just right of center. Have you seen a happier kid?

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The Post About Keeping Secrets, Nonsensical Cheering, and Random Photos

I have in my fevered possession some book galleys to look over, but...oh, gee, I can't tell you because the whole thing is a big huge secret. Sorry.

I have in my fevered possession some architectural drawings to peruse, but...oh, gee, I can't tell you because the whole thing is a big huge secret. Sorry.

I bear the very great burden of burning secrets, it's true. I am a bee trapped in honey, a bird with clipped wings, a guitar without strings, a wallet with no money. Mostly, I'm bad at rhyming. But that's a whole different topic. Let's just say that I've come to understand that having to keep these two secrets a secret has prevented more frequent blogging. In casting about for something I CAN blog about, I settled on the following:

1) Over the Memorial Day Weekend, Risa and her All-Star Slammers team played six softball games. They were the victors in all six, and thus crowned winners of the tournament, which was all very wonderful and all, but by the sixth game, it's fair to say that we (we being the rest of our family) were sun-drunk, covered in softball diamond dust (this begs the question: why do I shower? EVER?), and generally just OVER it. To amuse ourselves, the spousal unit and I began to yell nonsensical things any time our team displayed particularly noteworthy softball prowess:

"Uh-huh! That's how we do it in SAN MA-TAY-O, people!" (other teams in the tournament had come from all over the Peninsula, East Bay, and San Jose) I screamed this one while bobbing my head left to right, prompting Vida to cringe in embarrassment and mutter, "Mother..."

At one point, the spousal unit yelled, "Yes! Yes! That's how it goes down in GLOVE TOWN!" The gloriousness of this outburst, the inanity of it, almost made me fall through the bleachers, where I surely would have drowned in a sea of sunflower seed shells, coins, and corn nut wrappers.

2) About a month ago, I read a quote from someone somewhere that went something like this: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle." I've been trying to live by these directions ever since, but you know what? It's a difficult thing to remember in the heat of annoyance with people who...test me.

3) I think it was Sunny who shared this video via Twitter earlier this week. It made me cry, and I'm not even PMSing or anything like that. What? Too much information? Never mind—just watch the video:

And! Here is Risa with the aforementioned trophy:

And here's one I've been meaning to post. This is when the spousal unit took the girls to Yosemite. The great outdoors is so lovely, especially when I'm not there and can enjoy them via pictures from the safety and comfort of my own home, free of bug bites, allergies, and the threat of being mauled by a bear:

I bid you good evening.