Saturday, December 27, 2008

5:00 Fridays

Hot damn! I was too wrapped up, so to speak, to stay on top of my blogging this past week. Hence I totally missed my 5:00 Fridays post. Head bashing on wall right now.

Both Bird and Deal got bottles of hot sauce in their Christmas stockings. And yes, they both use it. On eggs. Pizza. Tacos. Quiche. Chili. Grilled chicken. Ribs. Sometimes popcorn. This spicy mama is proud to have equally spicy boys.

So today's cocktail, albeit a tardy one, is a:

Spicy Martini

1 shot of gin (I'd go with Tanqueray for this one.)
1 oz vermouth
10-15 drops Tabasco

Shake the gin and vermouth with ice in a shaker. Pour into a martini glass. Add drops of Tabasco into the shaken drink. Stir ever so slightly. Garnish with a whole pickled jalepeno pepper.

Sizzle. Sizzle. Sizzle.
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Monday, December 22, 2008

When Wrapping Becomes Obscene

Bird goes to a Go Green school. It is one of many reasons we adore his elementary school. And oh, do we adore it! His teacher (who rocks!) and principle share ideas with us every week to help us treat the earth in a gentler and kinder way. It's wonderful to see my children engaged in protecting the environment. What astounds me is the vernacular in their young conversations. Recycle. Reuse. Land fill. Soil content. Run off. Pollution. I assure you that I did not know these terms until about college when we started recycling all those Beast cans and bottle of white zin for the times we were feeling fancy. The other thing that makes me take note is that all of us, including the smallest of children, can have a hand, and indeed a responsibility, to help clean up our planet. The smallest, most inconsequential of acts can be enormous in aggregate. And by teaching our children a green lifestyle, we are giving them a gift. A gift of responsibility, civic engagement, sense of community, and a cleaner, healthier earth.

Christmas is perhaps the most un-Green of holidays, despite its evergreens and color scheme. The tinsel, garland, bows, plastic lawn ornaments, energy sucking light displays, blow up lawn art, boxes, styrofoam peanuts, bubble wrap (fun as it is to pop), greeting cards, fake snow. And that's not even including the damn toy packaging. Seriously, is it really necessary to require scissors, a regular screwdriver, phillips screw driver, pliers, wire cutters, and gorilla teeth to open a box of Little People and a Hot Wheels race track?

Wrapping paper is lovely, but let's be honest, it is a waste. A. Waste. Kids don't give a damn if you use the comics or fancy three-ply metallic embossed paper. And if the adults in your life care, they deserve coal. Pththtpthth (That's my attempt at a raspberry in onomatopoeia). So I struggle with the gift wrap thing at every birthday and tend to reuse gift bags. So I apologize if I have returned your gift bag. I assure you I am not regifting the gift. Unless it is the Lorax. We have three copies.

Tips for wrapping presents from our Go Green school: Instead of gift bags, buy reusable totes which come in all shapes and sizes! Instead of wrapping paper, reuse newspaper, brown paper bags, old posters or maps, pictures from calendar pages or heck, even old wrapping paper! It's fun to have the kids help decorate the brown paper bags with ink and stampers, stickers, markers, and my personal favorite (cough, cough) glitter glue. No one cares about the crinkles. They only care about the present inside. And I can't help you out there.

If every American family wrapped just three presents in recyclable materials, we would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. Reuse that ribbon! If every household reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet!

Now that's a present I'd love to give my children.
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Children Deserve Better Than Chuck

A few weeks ago the Parade magazine insert in our Sunday paper showcased TV news anchor Brian Williams, who talked of his mother's famous goulash. A can of Spaghetti-Os and half a pound of ground chuck. Blech. Gag. Yuck. More ghoulish than goulash in my humble opinion. No disrespect, Mrs. Williams.

Why do so many people presume kids don't have taste buds? They are not predisposed to mushy, salty, saucy, rubbery, processed foods. It is our job as parents to hone those taste buds and help develop our children's palates.

Our culinary responsibility as parents does not consist of sustenance alone. General rule of thumb: if I won't eat it, neither will my kids. This is precisely why we skip most of the grocery store aisles (unlike the parents of two with a third on the way shopping alongside me yesterday - their cart had enough sodium content and high fructose corn syrup to drive a race horse to heart failure).

Needless to say, no ground chuck in my house. Last night for dinner we grilled some rib eye steaks. Natural beef with no additives. I find it interesting that we spend so much time and money protecting our kids from touching hot stove tops, tumbling down stairs, and staying warm on a winter day, but we pay little to no mind to what we put into their vulnerable little bodies.

So back to the rib eye and our very simple yet delectable dinner...

Grilled steak, cut into quite manageable pieces, was a lovely treat. I assure you that I didn't get such good cuts of meat on my plate until well into adulthood. I made a "kitchen sink" steak sauce that made the unadorned steak even better, and besides, condiments make everything better. My semi-homemade sauce was equal parts of black pepper sauce from the Asian market, sour cream, and molasses. I added a tablespoon of fresh horseradish, a couple splashes of worcestershire sauce, and a few drops of cream. Stir it all up and dip away. And in terms of budget, flank steak is a great affordable alternative. Just slice it pretty thinly against the grain, marinate, and grill. Takes just a few minutes on each side.

Our dinner was rounded out by a salad of quartered tiny tomatoes, seeded cucumber slices, sweet onions, and chopped Italian parsley. A few drops of olive oil and red wine vinegar, along with the requisite sea salt and pepper finished it off. We also had roasted fingerling potatoes that are quite buttery on their own and green beans quick roasted with slivers of fresh garlic. Some warm french bread helped up sop up all the juicy goodness on our plates. Giving kids the opportunity to "play" with their food makes meal time more fun.

And for dessert, fresh madelines (those cakey French cookies) from the Costco bakery, raspberries, blackberries, and home whipped cream with a touch of vanilla.

Clean plate club all around.

And just for kicks, we ate in the dining room. But no fine china. I'm no risk taker.

Cross posted at Foodie Mama.

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