Monday, May 30, 2011

Welcome to Fin Land Tour: Jimmy Buffett 2011

 I took Cayne to his first ever Jimmy Buffett concert on Saturday night to kick off Memorial Day weekend.  We left Ethan at home with Grandma and headed to the Margaritaville Nashville Street Party for music and drinks before grabbing dinner at Panera and then heading into Nashville's Bridgestone Arena for the show.

Little Parakeet
Ethan wants to be a Parrot Head too!
I had bought the cheapest seats in the highest section (section 314) because those were the only tickets available on Ticketmaster (I tried buying the second they became available online).  Unfortunately, they were "behind the stage" seats but I decided they couldn't be too bad...after all, the last time I saw Buffett in Nashville (my first Buffett concert) we were also behind the stage and still had fun.  Well, I guess they didn't sell many seats in our section because when we got there, they told us they had closed our section and that they were going to exchange our tickets for the section immediately below it.  So, we were still technically "behind the stage" although really we were "beside" the stage...right at the stage-left exit but we were moved much closer --- to section 108.  We had to make our way all the way back down to the ground floor to get to our seats but it was definitely worth it!  

Enjoying the street party!
At his first Buffett concert.
I'm not a big fan of Buffett concerts that take place in an arena because I think lawn seats are the best (and the most fun).  And it seems that every time I'm in an arena, the section I'm in is full of people who do not want to stand and dance to the music, even if the whole rest of the arena is dancing.  This concert was no exception but at least I had a great side-on view of Jimmy and the rest of the crowd having fun!  Cayne thought it was funny to see someone set out Jimmy's jandals (flip flops) for him at the stage exit every time he left the stage.  Kenny Chesney also came out a couple times to sing with Jimmy and Mac McAnally.   Also, this was the first time I've ever seen Jimmy have an opening act but he did come out to introduce the group and they were fabulous!  It was Ilo Ferreira and his band (and that link will take you to a story on the Bonaroo website describing how Ilo met Jimmy).  They only played 3 songs but were really great and then the concert started.  Jimmy also only took a brief one-song break (while Nadirah Shakoor sang).  I still think it's pretty impressive that he can entertain for over 2 hours with such a short break!

After the concert we were able to get out of the arena pretty fast since we were on ground level and made our way back to our car.  A friend suggested parking between Church and Commerce Streets, which is what we did and we left Nashville via Church Street and didn't get stuck in any traffic.

In all, it was a great experience.  Cayne got to see that people really do were coconut bras and grass skirts to a Buffett show even if he didn't get to experience true Buffett tailgating with fins-on-cars and parking lot inflatable pool parties but he did get to see lots of parrotheads making the most of a no-tailgating situation.  Kudos to Margaritaville Nashville for getting a permit to close down a block of Broadway for the Street Party...and for selling fabulous $6 margaritas (unlike Bridgestone, who sold worse-tasting margaritas for $12).

Friday, May 27, 2011

Dinner Tonight: Spring Salad of Arugula with English Peas, Radishes, and Strawberries

Ethan playing with food but not eating it...yet.
I found this recipe while searching for something new to do with our CSA radishes: Spring Salad of Arugula with English Peas, Radishes, and Strawberries | Earthbound Farm Organic | Recipes for Delicious and Healthy Food. It looked delicious and I had almost all the ingredients. I bought a Trader Joe's Champagne Vinagrette the last time I was there so decided to forgo the vejus dressing in favor of using our new dressing and decided that instead of arugula we could use our CSA mizuna, supplementing with some red romaine if necessary. We also had the English peas and strawberries from our CSA.  So, all I really needed was walnut oil, goat cheese, and a baguette.

The salad was delicious!  The goat cheese croutes were absolutely fabulous.  I will have to try these with other dishes.  I think marinating the cheese in the walnut oil gave it a great subtle flavor but a good olive oil would taste almost as good.  The mizuna was good too -- earthy but milder than arugula...I just cut off the ends of the leaves (some of stalks were a little thick) before tossing it in the dressing.  Oh, and Trader Joe's Light Champagne Vinaigrette gets two thumbs up and was the perfect complement to the fruit and veggies in this salad.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Strawberry Tea Bread

Strawberry Tea Bread
This afternoon I made some strawberry tea bread using some of our CSA berries.  This is a recipe I made once a long time ago and loved but then forgot about.  All these spring strawberries reminded me of the yummy-tasting bread so I had to try it again.  I think the ground hazelnuts really give it a great punch, although I'm sure you could also just add hazelnuts to the mix and it would be just as good.  The other great thing about it is that you can bake it in your bread machine, which must use less energy than having your oven turned on for an hour (and I think it keeps the kitchen cooler, too...although maybe a newer over would be just as good at that).

Strawberry-Hazelnut Tea Bread

1.5 cups strawberries
2/3 cup softened butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs (at room temperature)
1 tbsp milk
1/3 cup ground hazelnuts
1 1/3 cup self rising flour, sifted
  1. If using a bread machine, remove the dough hook from the bread machine pan.  Line bottom of loaf pan with baking paper or wax paper (I used aluminum foil).  Spray with baking spray or grease and flour the pan.  
  2. Hull and coarsely chop the strawberries.  
  3. Cream the sugar and butter together.
  4. Add the eggs and milk to the butter/sugar mixture.  
  5. Mix the ground hazelnuts with the flour and gently fold it into the wet ingredient mixture.  
  6. Gently add the strawberries and fold in.  
  7. Spoon into the pan.
  8. Put pan in bread machine and use "Bake" setting.  Bake for about 50-55 minutes (I baked for 60 min).  Or, use a 350 degree oven and bake for 60-70 minutes.  Check for doneness by inserting a wooden skewer into loaf -- it should come out mostly clean when the bread is done.  
  9. Cool for 2-3 minutes in the pan and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. 

This was a great desert for our Broccoli Cheese soup dinner! :)  

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

7 Months!

Ethan turned 7 months old today!  Still a cutie and trying to discover new ways to get into mischief everyday!

Here is his 7 months update:

  • Ethan can turn over -- he loves to flip onto his belly as soon as you lay him down on his back.  
  • He likes to roll -- he can only roll to the right, and has done it a couple of times to reach a toy.
  • His rolling sometimes gets him into trouble in his crib -- he either turns onto his belly and gets uncomfortable but can't remember how to flip back over or rolls into the side of the crib and can't figure out how to push himself away from the side.  We've removed his crib bumper because of his rolling into the sides.  
  • He likes to eat food out of his mesh feeder.  He hates being fed.  He has had sweet potatoes, carrots, and bananas out of his mesh feeder.  
  • Still no teeth!
  • He can clap!  He likes to clap his hands together and say something that sounds like "yay".  He especially likes to do this while I change his diaper...I think he is trying to encourage me ('Yay!  My mom finally figured out what's wrong!").  
  • He likes to bounce up and down while sitting.  He started doing this in his highchair and now he does it anywhere.  We think he is trying to dance.  
  • He still stomps when he gets excited.  
  • He still only says "da daaa daah" and sometimes "babah"...and something that sounds like "yay".  
  • His favorite toys are anything that he can chew on (blocks, stuffed animals, teethers, rattles, etc).  
  • He is very curious about everything around him and wants to touch, taste, and experience everything he sees and hears.  

CSA, Week 3

In today's CSA box we received:
  • Broccoli 
  • Red Romaine lettuce
  • Swiss Chard
  • Mizuna
  • Radishes
  • English Peas (and we already opened 1 pod try some raw peas -- delicious)
  • Spring Onions
  • 2 qt strawberries (1 from the Fruitlover's portion)

ChicoBag Produce Stand Set/3All our CSA veggies fit into our new reusable Produce Stand bags I got at Amazon from a company called ChicoBag.  

It came with 3 bags and an apple-shaped holder (although I think it looks like a tomato):  1) a cotton/hemp bag for the greens (you moisten it a little before putting the greens inside and then it is supposed to keep them from wilting while not getting soggy either); 2) a bag made from recycled plastic bottles (rePETe) that locks in moisture for the broccoli and peas (this must be the most similar in function to the grocery store plastic produce bags); and 3) a bag that is half mesh and half rePETe for putting in veggies that release ethylene gas, like apples (I put the onions and radishes in there).

Our CSA veggies ready for storage.
I'm looking forward to trying new recipes this week with our veggies.  All the vegetables we've eaten have tasted so fresh and delicious -- much better than grocery store veggies!  And we are eating new things!  Here's a sampling of what we did with last week's produce:  
Skillet Supper Pork chops
  • Skillet Supper Pork chops (pork with cabbage, apples, and bacon):  used the cabbage and chives from the spring onions (a recipe from Mary Engelbreit's Queen of the Kitchen cookbook
  • Beef Bulgogi (from Trader Joe's):  used the Swiss chard and asparagus as sides
  • Salad (for lunch one day):  used the kohlrabi, radishes, and lettuce
  • Tacos:  used the remaining lettuce, onions, and radishes (BTW: Trader Joe's sells the best taco seasoning!)
  • We used the strawberries by just eating fresh berries, having strawberries and cream, and making strawberry shortcake with some delicious brown sugar shortcakes mom bought from Dozen at the Franklin Farmer's Market 
We still have the beets and broccoli from last week to use up...I think we will definitely have to make more Broccoli Cheese Soup!  

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Dinner Tonight: Bulgogi and Chard

Tonight I used some of our CSA vegetables and something new I found at Trader Joe's:  Beef Bulgogi.  I always love Trader Joe's marinated meats and I used to like the Bulgogi cart that would come to the NIH campus for special events.  While I didn't prepare a traditional Korean meal, it still ended up tasting delicious and we discovered a new way to cook Swiss Chard (I'm honestly not sure if I've even eaten chard before).  I steamed the asparagus and cooked the chard (leaves and chopped stems) in olive oil/garlic/crushed red pepper and then added some lemon juice before serving -- a simple recipe I got out of The Joy of Cooking.  BTW -- apparently you are supposed to wrap your bulgogi in lettuce leaves but I just mixed some of the chard with the beef and it tasted great.  The best part was that everything cooked really quickly -- once things were chopped and ready to go, the cooking time was only about 10 minutes.  Now I'm ready for my next CSA vegetable challenge.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Solid Food: First Month = Epic Failure

Ethan "enjoying" his sweet potatoes this afternoon.

We've been trying to feed Ethan solid food for just over a month now and the results have been awful! Sweet potatoes are the only thing he will eat and he will only eat them sometimes. On a good day, we can get him to eat almost 1 ounce of pureed sweet potatoes. Most days, we are lucky if he gets 2-3 spoonfuls of sweet potatoes down. I try to time his solid-food feedings for when he is awake and not starving (if he's too hungry, all he wants to do is nurse). We try different times of day and different foods. So far he has sampled rice cereal, apples, avocados, bananas, sweet potatoes, and carrots. He likes the rice cereal OK but the sweet potatoes are by far his favorite. The apples were the worst experience (I tried them twice, the first time mashed and the second time pureed). We ended up having to hose off the stroller the second time he tried apples, so we definitely won't be trying those again for a very, very long time. It has been a very frustrating month and it seems that we've wasted a lot of food. Perhaps it is time to take a break from feeding the solids and try starting again in a couple weeks.

This is his "I hope you're finished trying to feed me" look.

CSA, Week 2

This week we got:

  • asparagus
  • broccoli
  • spring onions
  • lettuce
  • cabbage
  • radishes
  • Swiss chard
  • beets
  • kohlrabi
  • 2 quarts of strawberries (we signed up for the fruitlover's share to get the extra quart)

The kohlrabi (the vegetable we couldn't identify last week).

Now I just have to figure out what to make with all this produce! The strawberries are easy -- they are so delicious Cayne and I have been snacking on them for "dessert" while watching TV after we put Ethan to bed. Last night I found some delicious-sounding beet and kohlrabi recipes in a book Cayne's friends Jono and Anna got us, Stephanie Alexander's Kitchen Garden Companion, so we'll have to try those.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Delicious Broccoli Cheese Soup

A couple of days ago I tried making some broccoli cheese soup using the broccoli we got in our weekly CSA share. I was a little apprehensive because I love broccoli soup and the last time I tried making it (a long, long time ago) the recipe I used (in Joy of Cooking) had a step where you are supposed to puree your soup until smooth. Well, no matter how long I tried pureeing in my food processor, my soup turned out grainy and unappetizing. This time, I looked around online for lots of recipes and found some that call for pureeing and some that don't. I decided to make a non-pureeing recipe, where I would just add the broccoli florets at the end.

My favorite-looking recipe called for putting shredded carrots in the soup too and I figured that if I was buying carrots to shred anyway, I might as well shred and steam extra to make baby food with (our pediatrician recommended shredding the carrots before steaming so that they don't need to steam as long). So, I started off with the carrots and while those were steaming I chopped the broccoli and came to a realization: I was going to be wasting a lot of broccoli stalks if I only used the florets and I figured that the stalks would add good flavor to my soup (after all...there are all those broccoli soup recipes that call for pureeing your soup after putting both florets and stalks into the soup). I decided that pureeing not the entire soup but just the vegetables might help to keep the soup smoother while adding great flavor.

So, after steaming and then pureeing Ethan's carrots, I steamed some broccoli stalks and carrots together and then pureed them with a little chicken stock to add to my soup. The end result was delicious! And since it's a mash-up of a bunch of different recipes, I can call it my own, right? Here's my recipe:

Betsey's Broccoli Cheese Soup

2 medium or 3 small bunches of broccoli
2 cups shredded carrots
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 TBSP butter
1/8 tsp nutmeg
3 cups chicken stock
1 can cheese soup
2 cups shredded cheese (I used Mexican blend but think Sharp Cheddar would be better)
1/4 cup milk
1.5 tsp mustard
1.5 tsp Hot (Hungarian) Paprika
1 tsp Mexican Oregano
1 tsp Basil
salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste

1. Chop the very ends off broccoli stalks. Then cut the broccoli florets off and set aside in a medium bowl. Chop the remaining broccoli stalks into small pieces and put into a steamer basket. Add 1 cup of the shredded carrots to the steamer. Stem broccoli and carrots for approx 10 minutes or until very tender.

2. After broccoli and carrots are tender, put both into a food processor with up to 1/2 cup of chicken stock and puree until smooth. Set aside.

3. In a large pot, melt butter and add chopped onion and nutmeg, cook until onions are transparent.

4. Add remaining chicken stock and the can of cheese soup (if you'd rather not use the cheese soup, add extra milk and cheese later). Add the pureed carrots and broccoli. Stir to mix.

5. Add the mustard, hot paprika, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper.

6. Add remaining cup of shredded carrots and broccoli florets. Heat until bubbling and reduce heat.

7. Add the milk and shredded cheese (save some cheese to sprinkle on top of each serving). Heat for 5-10 minutes on medium-low. Add extra salt and pepper to taste.

8. Serve in soup bowls with a side of bread and sprinkle extra cheese on top of the soup.

This soup tastes great the next day after flavors have had an extra chance to mix!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Our First CSA

I picked up our first CSA box today from our Doe Run Farm pick-up spot at Maryland Farms.  Cayne and I are excited to eat farm-fresh produce without having to try and decide what exactly we should buy.  I figured that this way, once a week we'll get a box of fresh veggies and can then decide what to make with them!  We did the mini-share -- there's no reason to get too much of a veggie overload our first time trying this out.

This week's box included a pint of strawberries, a cauliflower, 2 broccolis, spring onions, some greens (either kale, swiss chard, or turnip greens), and what I think is a rutabaga.  Jamie Oliver would be very disappointed in my lack of ability to positively identify the rutabaga and the greens.  However, Cayne and I are going to love eating all these yummy-looking veggies and we are already looking forward to next week when we'll also start getting a box of fruit with our veggies!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Gardening, Take 1

A couple of weeks ago, Cayne put together a 4x4 raised bed garden for us to try to grow some of our own vegetables this summer.  I planted seeds last week and we were excited to see some green leaves sprouting through the topsoil so soon!  We planted tomatoes, red potatoes, broccoli, cantaloupe, zucchini, lettuce, and carrots.  We also have some barrel planters where I've put some herb seeds (oregano, cilantro, basil, rosemary, parsley, and tarragon) -- those haven't sprouted yet though.  We hope to have some delicious vegetables to put with our CSA vegetables this summer!

We're going to have to thin our some of these seedlings soon!

Our herb barrels
I also bought a bunch of mulch at Lowe's when it was on sale 4 bags for $10 to finally try to make our front landscaping beds look decent (they've been neglected for a couple of years, I think).  Cayne started with trimming some of the shrubs in the front and I finished the job (trying to make the bushes look nice and round -- it's harder than I thought it would be!).  Then I weeded and added our new mulch.  So far, I've only done one bed -- I'm waiting for Cayne the edge the other ones before adding the mulch with his new birthday present (the Stihl Trimmer)...and I ran into an ant nest while weeding one of the beds so I have to finish that up as well.  However, the one bed I did finish (the main one in front of the house) looks awesome compared to how it looked when we moved in!  Now I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the mulch really will keep those weeds down all summer long.

The finished bed.
This makes the house look so much better!
A view of our house from the street.
This is the bed that still needs edging, mulch, and a little more weeding.
A little much will make a big difference here
 (and Cayne needs to trim that holly bush -- it's too tall for me!).  

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mackenzie is ONE!

The Wade Family
Our newest niece, Mackenzie, turned 1 on Friday and we got to go to her house to celebrate with her family.  It was so much fun!  She had the traditional Wade family lambie cake that her Grandma Wade baked and her own special smash cake baked with love by her mom.  The birthday cake was Mackenzie's first time having sweets and she LOVED it (following a Wade family tradition of cake lovers, I think)!  I didn't get many pictures but here are a few that we took.  I'm sure there will be lots more photos posted at Wade's World soon!

 Happy First Birthday Mackenzie!!!
Here, Aunt Sarah...try some of this delicious cake my mom made me!
You don't want any?  OK, I'll eat it!