Sunday, April 25, 2010

I’m In Mourning

I lost my very best friend yesterday. I’m so very, very sad. The house is very lonely with out her.

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Koho
October 9, 1995 – April 23, 2010

I miss you bubba

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tasty Tuesday

delicious3

I don’t know why I keep doing these dumb posts. I don’t think all my readers really care for them as I only get 1 or 2 comments. Since I blog to get comments, these posts sometimes seem pointless. However, this week I made a really yummy meal and I want to share it. Please still comment.

As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes I really miss the Italian food that I used to have on the East Coast. Every-so-often I am on a mission for some really good pasta.

The last couple of weeks, I’ve been craving Chicken parm - chicken parm with pasta and chicken parm sandwiches. I love it but even though it’s not too hard to make, it’s just messy and fried. This weekend I experimented with it and boy the experiment turned out great! Slainte!

Chicken Parmesan
Ingredients
1/2 cup finely crushed stuffing mix
3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp curry powder
1 tbsp Italian-style seasoning
3 tbsp butter
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (sliced into 8 thinner pieces)
8 thin slices of mozzarella cheese

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a shallow dish combine the stuffing mix, cheese, parsley, curry powder and seasoning. Mix together.
3. In an 8x11 baking dish, melt the butter in the microwave.
4. Dip the chicken breasts in the stuffing mixture, coating both sides of each breast and place in the baking dish.
5. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, then turn chicken pieces over and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. (While the chicken cooks, start the marinara sauce to serve with it.)
6. If you like your chicken crispy like I do, place under the broiler after the regular cooking time. The chicken will brown up and become crispy.
7. Add a slice of mozzarella cheese to each piece of chicken while still hot.
8. Serve chicken over pasta or in a toasted roll. Cover with marinara sauce.

Simple Marinara Sauce
Ingredients
6 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup diced onion
2 (14.5 oz) cans stewed tomatoes
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
3/4 cup white wine

Directions
1. Heat the olive oil in skillet and then add the onions. Cook for about 2 minutes. Turn of the heat. Remove onions from the oil and add to the food processor. Set skillet with oil to the side for later use.
2. Add Italian tomatoes, tomato paste, chopped parsley, minced garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper to the onions in the food processor. Blend until smooth.
3. Heat up the skillet again and add the blended tomato sauce. Stir in the white wine.
4. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

blog 003 Yum-my! Chicken Parm with pasta for dinner. Chicken Parm sandwiches tomorrow for lunch. Yay!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Winking

I had a flat tire the other day. I took it to the tire store to have it repaired and put back on my car. I tried to pay, but the manager told me it was no charge. When I thanked him he said, “No problem,” with a wink.

I didn’t really think about it again until I watched “Body of Lies” this weekend. This clip in particular…
video
(Well, the video is tiny and it's hard to tell it's a wink - looks like a blink. But trust me, it's cool)

I think “the wink” is usually thought of as corny or creepy. But in both these scenarios, it was kind of cool.

I don’t know how to wink. Not that I’m really the type of person who’d be a winker, but still, if I wanted to be, I couldn’t. I’ve tried a couple of times this weekend, but all that happens is one side of my face scrunches up. Maybe it takes practice.

Do you know how to wink? Are you a winker?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Goopy Scones

Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop this week is about a mistake in the kitchen.

About nine years ago I had a surprise party for my parents’ 30th anniversary. As it was planned for St. Patrick’s Day, I planned on making some of the many St. Patrick’s Day foods that my parents had made while I was growing up like corned beef and cabbage, Guinness pie, boxty, brown bread, and scones.

I took the day off before the party and spent it at my friend Kristen’s house cooking. Kristen, Robyn, another friend who helped me plan the party, and I worked all day and into the evening. The cooking went well until we got to the last recipe – the scones.

Making scones is super easy. They only have 6 ingredients. While I mixed the flour and the baking powder, Robyn put the butter in the microwave to soften it. I then added the butter to the flour. After that, the sugar, egg, and milk were added to the bowl. During this time, Robyn and Kristen left the kitchen to deal with Kristen’s kids who were out in the back playing. I stirred and mixed the ingredients and read the next step of the recipe. It said to mix the ingredients well to make a sticky dough and then knead it for about 5 minutes. I looked at the mixture in my bowl and it was a lot more liquidy than doughy. Kristen’s husband Brian came in at that time and I told him my dilemma. He told me to keep stirring and maybe it would thicken.

Awhile later Kristen and Robyn returned and were also concerned about the “dough”. We decided to add a little more flour but it was still pretty wet. Kristen suggested we pour it onto a floured board and just try kneading it. I was skeptical, but did as she said.

It had been a long day and I think Kristen, Brian, and Robyn were done with cooking. They hung out in the kitchen and family room talking and playing with the kids while I “kneaded” the dough. “I don’t know you guys, I don’t think it’s working,” I told them while trying to keep the soup-like liquid from dripping off the side of the cutting board. “Just keep kneading!” they called.

After a few more minutes of running my hands through the slop I knew we had done something wrong. It was late and we decided to call it a night. I cleaned up the scone mess and resigned to just not have scones for the party.

The following morning my parents were tricked into golfing with some friends so they would be out of the house for the day. Robyn stayed over and helped me get ready. Kristen called me early in the day after talking with her mom. Her mom said that if the butter had been too soft or melted the mixture not have turned into a dough. A-ha! About half of the butter that Robyn had softened had actually melted. I didn’t know any better and used it anyways.

We quickly whipped up another batch using softened, not melted, butter and the scones turned out AMAZING. The party went off without a hitch, and the food, including the scones, was a hit.
scones

The image of me trying to turn goop into dough with the others calling, “Just keep kneading!” still makes the four of us laugh.
mamakat

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dually Trouble

Last week I was talking with some teachers from another school in my district about the friendliness of our various school office staff. During our discussion, I remembered this particular incident that is funny now, but wasn’t at the time.

In the early 90s, my dad bought a brand new Ford truck. It was huge, and it was his baby.
1This truck was purchased for two things – to pull my parents’ fifth-wheel camping and to pull the horse trailer to horseshows. It was quite a step up from his previous truck as this new one had a full backseat which sat 3 and 2 additional wheels.

For some reason, once I turned 16, I wanted to drive this truck. To this day, I don’t know why. The only thing I can think of was that he always told me there was no way in hell I would ever drive it. So maybe that made me want to.

After moving back to California from the East Coast and starting my job as a teacher I lived at home for about a year and a half. My dad was retired by that time and his truck was his primary vehicle. However, it was big and if he had to go anywhere far it guzzled way too much gas. My dad would usually take my mom’s car on those occasions. On one such occasion during my second year of teaching however, my mom needed her car. I, too, drove a smaller car so he had two choices. One was to drive the giant truck out of town and pay a lot of money for gas while the other was to switch cars with me and let me drive the truck to work, which was only about 2 miles from our house. He reluctantly chose the second option.

Even as an adult with a new career, I was giddy being allowed to drive the giant truck. My dad made we drive with him the night before so he could be sure I knew how to turn and park such a large vehicle. I passed, and we switched keys.

The next morning I grabbed my lunch and teacher bag and skipped out to the truck, excited to be driving it on my own for the first time. The drive to school was a pretty straight shot – only one left turn and one right turn into the school driveway. Which was no problem.

Once into the driveway however, there was a right turn into our parking lot. Our parking lot had a security gate with a key pad on a large metal pedestal. In order to get to the key pad, I pulled up real close to it. Leaning out the window the code was punched in and the gate opened. I rolled up my window and pulled into the parking lot.
2 Now, please notice the wheel wells on this truck. Seeing that it was a dually (two back wheels on each side) the wheel wells stuck out further than any other part of the truck. Please keep that in mind as you read the rest of the story.

So, as I pulled into the parking lot the wheel wells got a little too close to the key pad pedestal. By the time I got in the parking lot, there was a giant hole ripped into the wheel well and the pedestal had been knocked over. In my defense, with the window rolled up, I had no idea that any of this was happening until it was all said and done, completely inside the parking lot.

I realized what happened when I noticed the cars lined up on the other side of the security gate. They were not able to get the arm to lift since the key pad was torn out of the ground. Mortified, I quickly parked. I was so scared to get out and look at the damage I had done to the truck. Yah, it was a giant jagged hole across the entire wheel well.

I apologized to the other cars as I ran through the parking lot to the school office to tell them what happened. The friendliness of the office staff at my school at the time was much to be desired. On most days they just ignored the teachers and parents waiting to ask a question to finish their own personal discussions. On this particular morning, they were having a very important conversation about massages. I waited for a moment, bouncing up and down trying to quietly get their attention. That didn’t work so I tapped my hand on the counter and blurted out, “Excuse me! I’m sorry to interrupt but I just crashed through the parking lot gate and no one can get in!” They looked at me with annoyance that I was interrupting their massage conversation. “The gate is broken?” one of them asked. “Yah! I broke it, no one can get in.” Once they realized I wasn’t just bothering them with trivial things like needing new pencils, they got on the walkie-talkie and sent the custodian out to open the gate.

Anyways, that was one of the longest days of my life. Every time I thought of the hole in my dad’s truck, I got sick to my stomach. I drove home after school and waited for my parents to get home. My mom arrived first. She didn’t believe me when I told her. When I walked her out to show her she said, “Oh no.”

My dad arrived home later. I nervously said, “Um, Dad, I got in a little accident with your truck today.” He chuckled and said, “Yah right.” He too didn’t believe me until I took him out to see it. When he saw the hole he looked like he was going to throw up. He didn’t though. He actually handled it MUCH better than I thought he would.

After a couple weeks of dealing with insurance and the harassment by my dad’s friends, the hole was fixed and it was as good as new. After the incident though, I never asked to drive the truck again.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

English is Stupid

Mama Kat asks “If you could change the alphabet, what would you do? Add? Subtract? Combine? Simplify?”

I don’t have a beef with the alphabet or the number line. My issue is the English language as a whole. Many of the students I teach in second grade do not speak English as a first language. My instruction to them in both phonics and spelling over the last few years has made me realize just how screwed up English actually is.

This past month one of my reading groups has been working on long vowel sounds, more specifically vowel teams or pairs like ‘ea’ or ‘ai’. One of the general rules I teach is “when two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking.” This is just a reminder for the kids that in most vowel teams, the first vowel is heard in its long form and the second one is silent. For example…
beak – the e is heard, the a is silent
paint – the a is heard, the i is silent

As we go along, the walking/talking rule works until we get to…
field – the i is silent and the e is heard

In fact, there are so many ways of making long vowel sounds in our English words, it’s crazy…
Long 'U' shoe, grew, through. do, doom, flue, two, who, brute, duty

Long 'O' go, show, though, sew, beau, float, bone,

Long 'A' may, weigh, late, pain, rein, great

Long 'E' free, bean, magazine, gene, be, receive, believe

Long 'I' fine, rhyme, fight, align, bayou

The ones that really get me don’t even use the letter of the sound that they make – bayou, sew, weigh. Really?

In one of my other groups we have been practicing the ‘ough’ family. Well, it’s not really a family, because there are so many different sounds those 4 letters can make. Case in point…
enough, rough, tough (uff)
through (ew)
though, although, dough, thorough (o)
cough (off)
bough (ow)

Not to mention our multiple meaning words…
There’s no time like the present to present the present.
I’m going to study about rocks while listening to rock so I can rock the test.
We’ll have a ball playing ball at the ball.

Plural nouns have four basic rules…
1. add ‘s’ to most nouns dog –> dogs
2. add ‘es’ to words that end in s, x, sh, ch, z dress –> dresses
3. drop the ‘y’ and add ‘ies’ to words that end in ‘y’ puppy –> puppies
(except of course if the word is a one syllable word that has a vowel in addition to the y boy –> boys)
4. drop they ‘f’ and add ‘ves’ to words that end in 'f’ calf –> calves
Now those four rules can be reviewed and reviewed so our kids can master them, but then we throw in the irregular plurals that don’t follow any rule. We don’t say persons but people. We don’t say mouses, but mice. We don’t say mans but men.

Seriously!?!?!

“Miss Delight, sometimes English is so hard,” lamented one of my second language learners.

I know honey, I know.

mamakat

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Truck Food

Over the last year or so, gourmet food trucks have become all the rage here in Los Angeles.  These trucks have quite a following as their fans keep track of their locations via Twitter and Facebook.  My friend Mike has been talking about them for months now after having enjoyed some of the more popular ones like Koji (Korean Tacos) and The Buttermilk Truck (various pancakes include red velvet).  The food on these trucks sound tempting, but standing in long lines AFTER chasing them all over the Valley never sounded too appealing to me.

Last week was the Americana Street Feast in Glendale.  Some of the most popular food trucks parked inside the Americana (a fancy outdoor mall) for a few hours for all to enjoy.  Since there would be no chasing I joined Mike and a few other friends on a food truck field trip.

foodtruck_homepage_promoUpon arrival, the food trucks were just driving in or setting up.  We explored our surroundings and staked out the trucks that sounded most appealing.  While we came up with our game plan (grilled cheese, fries, and then dessert) we were tempted by the Willoughby Road food truck. 
4299675294_7ed8ac8e09 They had a pulled pork quesadilla and four-cheese macaroni and cheese.  We were one of the first to place our order. 

While some of us waited for our Willoughby’s order, others waited and waited and waited at the Dim Sum truck. 
dim_sumThe Grilled Cheese Truck was at the top of our list, but on our walk through we didn’t see it.  While we enjoyed our “soul food” we asked a security guard where the Grilled Cheese Truck was.  He told us it was on its way and then showed us exactly where we should stand to start the line.  Woo Hoo!  We were first in line for the grilled cheeses!
27208_1319459600491_1650818802_744394_1242067_n    Enjoying our quesadilla, mac and cheese,
27208_1319473760845_1650818802_744436_4236882_nand dim sum while waiting for the TGC truck. 

We probably waited in line for The Grilled Cheese Truck for almost an hour.  It was a long time, but we were the talk of Street Feast because we were first in line!  We cheered, jumped up and down, and told others to “step off” when the truck arrived. 

Since we had an hour we killed time and used our phones to look at the truck’s menu.  We decided to each order something different and then share them.  
blog 001
Our order – The Signature (mac&cheese, pulled pork, grilled onions, and cheese), the Cheesy Mac Melt (mac&cheese and cheese), Plain and Simple add bacon, and the Dessert Melt (Nutella, marshmallow, roasted banana). 
3 Oh, boy, they were good, well, all except the dessert one which just tasted like ripe bananas to me.  Nom, nom, nom.

At that point I wanted to sprawl out onto the grass and unbutton my pants, but there were more trucks to go.  We decided to pass on Frysmith, the french fry truck.  For one, we were stuffed, but also the line was wrapped around the street for that one.  It just didn’t sound as good of an idea as it did when we first arrived. 

However, we were still on for dessert.  The Coolhaus truck is an ice cream sandwich truck.  The sandwiches are actually cookies and the ice cream flavors range from typical to unique – red velvet or bacon flavored.  They are also wrapped in edible paper.  The red velvet ice cream was the only thing that got me off the grass and back in line.  We waited and waited and waited.  After about an hour, Mike walked over to the menu board, which is little magnates of ice cream and cookies.  He came back with bad news – NO MORE RED VELVET!!!  That magnate was gone.  I was ready to go, feeling full and grumpy.  The others shrugged like they didn’t care, and we continued to stand in line for another 30 minutes or so.  With about 3 groups left in front of us we checked the menu board again.  Just about all of the cookies and ice cream had been removed from the board and we decided to just call it a night. 

It was a fun night, but most of it was spent standing in line.  Good thing I was with fun people and the food WAS delicious!  The food truck craze isn’t completely lost on me, but the lines have the potential to make me very cranky. 

Have you had the chance to try one of these trucks?