wan-na find something?

Friday, April 29, 2011

food revolution

so who's been watching jamie oliver's food revolution?  come on, 'fess up.

it's totally entertaining, right?  and infuriating at the same time.  the teen has never been one to eat the food in school cafeterias.  it always grossed her out, and she much preferred bringing her own grub (especially during her year of vegetarianism).  so i never had to deal with how awful the food is at school, but i think it's awful that the school district officials are in such denial (or just don't want to make any changes due to budget or laziness or whatnot). 

none of this has anything to do with today's post.  heh.  it's a long, roundabout way of saying that i found this at the library and checked it out immediately:

the book has nothing to do with school cafeterias or the show in general.  it's really more about teaching average folks who may or may not have any cooking experience how easy it is to throw together a good meal from basic, fresh ingredients.  a lot of the items in the recipes are probably in your kitchen right now, and just waiting to be prepared into something super delicious.

i liked the simplicity of the recipes, and decided to try a pasta dish for dinner.  i already had everything i needed without having to take a trip to the grocery store, which was pretty awesome.

and, well, it started off with my most favorite ingredient on the planet - bacon, of course.

i strayed away a little to add some sauteed mushrooms and replaced the peas (which i despise with the fire of a thousand and one suns) with some shelled edamame.  still healthy and added the color needed in the dish:

i didn't have any mini shell pasta on hand, but i did find a box of whole wheat animal shapes that i'd obviously picked up with the bean in mind.  sadly, she had zero interest in trying it even with the novelty of the hippos and such in the mix.

it was pretty easy to prepare, and it was actually really good.  we ended up with a ton of the stuff, which i ate for lunch a couple of days afterwards.

when the teen came home, i decided to try another recipe - this time, for a yummy bolognese sauce.

again, it began with the best meat ever:

and the colors in this photo are really bizarre, but it's the only shot of the chopped bacon, carrot, garlic, and celery i got.  deal with it.

following the directions as written, i ended up with a thin sauce that carried an odd hue.  of course, this simply wouldn't do.  i didn't love the way the diced tomatoes just kind of sat there, so i pulled out the ol' food processor and gave the hot sauce a whirl.  when i poured it back into the pot, i added a can of tomato paste and the parmesan cheese, and it looked much better.

tossing the cooked noodles in half of the sauce and then topping each serving with more sauce made it look really scrumptious.

final verdict?  well, don't get me wrong - it was good and we all enjoyed it.  but as the teen said, it really didn't taste much different from the easy peasy sauce i usually make.  this had taken me the better part of two hours to make, counting the veggie chopping and sauteing, and my go-to sauce is always ready in a mere 45 minutes.

oh, well.  there are lots more recipes in there that i want to try before i have to return the book to the library.  or maybe i'll just pick up a copy of the book at the bookstore.  we'll see.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

ballerina girl

the bean started dance class last week.  i thought i was gonna die from the hilarity of it all.

it started with getting her dressed in her leotard and tights, and then trying my damnedest to put her long hair into a ballerina-style bun.  have i mentioned how truly awful i am at doing hair?  she's lucky i can do a [mostly] straight part and put it up into pigtails.  there are about a dozen bobby pins holding this sad little bun together. 

poor little thing - she'd missed the first class because she was sick, and then the dancewear shop we visited for her tap and ballet shoes (it's a combo class) was out of her size.  the shipment was arriving that day, but not in time for class.  we checked the local payless, but found that with the discount we got at the shop (i guess the dance center sends them so much business, they give the students a little added incentive to buy there) it would be cheaper to wait.  so i ended up throwing on a pair of fake ballet slippers from old navy on and hoping she wouldn't notice that everyone else had cool shoes that made noise during the tap dance portion of class.

the dance center is super close to our house, which is nice.  hopefully this won't mean that we're constantly late.  heh.

the studio for the "tiny tots" class is right in front and a few girls were already there, along with what seemed like a zillion parents.  she ran right in and made herself at home.

"mooooom.  no pictures! you're embarrassing me!"  she didn't actually say this, but i know she was thinking it.

as the class started, the teacher shut the door to minimize the distraction.  of course, for me (and a lot of other parents), this meant crappy pictures shot through the window.  oh well, better than nothing.

it was so. stinking. cute.  if you have about a minute and seventeen seconds to kill, this is pretty funny to watch.  again, i was at the window, so please excuse the crappy quality and the lame commentary in the background.

anyway, when it was all over the girls all lined up near the door to receive their sticker and lollipop.  the bean managed to snag a spot at the front of the line.  we'd gone the previous week to enroll and so she could see what it was all about before she got thrown right into the thick of things.  the prizes at the end of class had really stuck with her, as you can tell.

the instructor showed the girls how to curtsy as they were given their treats.  it was cute.

she showed me her lollipop proudly as i buckled her into the seat.

let's hope these dance classes result in her being a much better dancer than her mother.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

egging the bean on

we kicked off easter weekend with not just one egg hunt, but two.  the first was bright and early, starting at 9:00.  the big draw to this one was the fact that a helicopter was going to fly overhead and drop 4,000 easter eggs for the kids to scramble after.  a clusterfuck for sure, but the teen and i really wanted to see that mess.  the hub, not so much.  so off we were to check it out.

we'd arrived about 45 minutes late, and as we made our way to the party there were already a gazillion plastic eggs on the ground.  poop.  but there were lots of fun-looking bouncy things and activities to go see, so it was okay.

as we got in line for the first bounce house ("tweeeeety bird!" the bean pointed), announcements were being made behind us and we learned that the main attraction was still yet to come.  yay!  apparently, the staff had spread half of the eggs and sent the other 2,000 up in the sky with the helicopter.  sweet.

as folks scurried to catch free t-shirts and candy being flung from the stage, the bean hopped right into the jumper and went to town.

because of the growing line, the kids were ushered out after about five minutes of bouncing around to allow more to enter.  and by then it was time to stake out a spot along the yellow caution tape to get a good view of the chopper anyway.  we'd only been standing there for a few seconds when we heard the whizzing overhead.

everyone watched in awe as the helicopter swung down way low and the dude sitting at the door started chucking bags full of eggs out of the side.  he realized that they were all piling up in the same spot, and had the pilot scoot up a bit in an effort to spread the wealth.

after what seemed like ten giant bags later, they gave us a wave and took off.

the bean had been given a sticker to wear that designated which age group she was in.  of course, we were on the very opposite end of where we needed to be.  by the time we got there, the crowd was pretty large and in charge in front of us.  bah!

of course, this meant that she had to squeeze through a bunch of kids - well, really their parents.  these grown folks were totally throwin' 'bows to get their paws on as many eggs for their little ones as possible.  sheesh.  my poor bean, still not really sure of what she was doing, did the best she could under the circumstances.

lately, she's been pretty defiant when i want to take pictures of her.  and she barely let me take one of the three sad little eggs she managed to grab.

of course, with all of the kids still occupied with the grabbing and snatching, this meant that the obstacle course she'd been eyeing when we arrived was completely empty.  and she took full advantage.

we got her out long enough to see if she'd do something else.  up the ladder she clambered, but when she got to the top, she saw that the only way down was via the rather steep slide.  and so she sat her little ass down and refused to budge.

you know what this means, right?  yeah.  after a few minutes of trying to talk her into joining the sliding fun, i ended up shedding my warm and comfy uggs to climb up the steps and slide down with her.  i'd handed my bag and the camera to the teen, who was busy texting or whatever she does with her phone, and in my haste to get to the bean forgot to remind her to snap a few shots of us coming down.  oh, well.  it was fun, and as we sped to the bottom together the bean decided she wanted to do it again - but only if i went with her.  uh, no. 

instead, she settled for another go at the obstacle course before we left.  except that by this time, it was pretty full of kids ranging in age from about 2 to 10.  she can usually hold her own with the bigger kids, but this crowd was crazed.  deranged.  seriously.  she tripped at one point and couldn't get up, and those bitch ass kids who were lucky the teen couldn't get at them totally trampled over her.  we could hear her scream and cry out, and all we could do was encourage her to get up and head on out.

"is she okay?" one stupid little girl who'd literally stepped on her asked us.  um, no, you dumb little ho.  does she LOOK okay to you?  and why are you asking us?  i wanted to smack her.  or better yet, find her parents and shove a size 7 right up their ass.

we got out of there pronto, and decided to make up for it with a second egg hunt - this time, one that i knew she'd have more fun at.  the gym where she takes her gymnastics class had one planned, and other parents who'd been before told us that it was really fun - but to get there early.  it was a solid half hour before the scheduled time, and we were pleased to arrive and find that we were only the third family there.  as we got in line, the bean made like a koala bear and clung to her sister, unwittingly showing off her "dora the explorer" chonies.

it didn't take long for the line to grow.  and grow, and grow, and grow.

when the doors finally opened, it was totally worth the wait.  there were a ton of eggs just waiting to be scooped up, and it was definitely less of a madhouse than the first event we'd been to.  the bean and the teen happily sashayed around, filling her basket in no time.

as instructed, once she was all done, we headed towards the door and emptied all of the candy into her basket, leaving the eggs behind for use next year.

and we were excited to find little slips of paper with numbers on them, which meant that she'd scored a couple of prizes in there, too.

before she claimed her prizes, she stopped for a quick hug for the easter bunny.  we hadn't had a chance to take her before, and so i was glad to get this picture (even though it's a little fuzzy, dang it).

she had fun selecting her two prizes - a fuzzy caterpillar and a blue ring, both of which lit up.

i tried to get a shot of her with that ring, but - well, you'll have to take my word for it.

oy.  three.  such a funny age.

squeezing in all the sightseeing

this was our NYC home for a whole week: it was one of only a few hotels that i could find that offered two beds in a room rather than, say, ...