Friday, May 8, 2009

5:00 Fridays

I have been very into blood oranges lately. I squeeze the juice into vinaigrettes, salsas, and seltzer water. My friends at Mez have shared the absolute best way to enjoy the sultry red juice of the sinisterly named blood orange.

Blood Orange Margarita

Milagro Silver Tequila
Triple Sec
Blood orange juice (Freshly squeezed is best, natch, but Whole Food’s Kennesaw brand is pretty darn good too.)

Grab your silver cocktail shaker. Tell me you're not using not using that crummy plastic shaker you got for a wedding present back in the day...from your starter marriage! Pour 1.5 ounce shot of Milagro Silver Tequila over ice. Add 1 ounce of Triple Sec and finish with blood orange juice (about 1/2 a cup). Shake well and pour into a kicky little cocktail glass or a sexy tall fancy glass. Garnish with a slice of blood orange.

I promise you'll have a bloody good time. Cheers!
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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Eating On Board the Marrakesh Express

One of the ways we teach our children an appreciation of the world around us is through food. Exposure is everything. Since I'm half Indian, it's no big deal to belly up to a dinner of dal, chicken tikka masala, spinach paneer, and a steaming bowl of Basmati rice, cooked perfectly in the rice cooker. For spring break, we took a little jaunt to Morocco with the kids.

And we drove there from Raleigh in only five hours.

While on a spring break vacation in the delightful city of Savannah, Georgia, we ate at a Moroccon restaurant . The dim lighting, velvet draped walls, tented ceilings, music, and decor transported us to Marrakesh. It was a not a particularly child-friendly place, but it was a slow Sunday night, and we were confident in our boys' restaurant manners. Neither they, nor the restaurant, disappointed.

Here's a rundown of what we all shared:

Bread with harissa, a Moroccon hot sauce (that was divine!)
Cornish hen bastila, cornish hen, onion, parsley, spices wrapped in phyllo dough and baked
Lamb kebab with roasted vegetables and saffron rice
Shrimp and scallops sauteed with tomatoes, peppers, paprika, garlic, parsley
Roasted cornish game hen with couscous
Tropical fruit, coconut, and chocolate wrapped in phyllo dough and baked

A solitary crumb was not to be found.

The best part? In traditional Moroccon custom, we ate with our fingers! The boys thought it was a hoot, and truth be told, so did we. The other highlight was the belly dancing. And I mean the real deal, not the lame stuff I did my senior year of high school when I played Tintinabula in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum." The kids were mesmerized, mouths agape, eyes owl wide.

From the boys' perspective, every meal paled in comparison for the rest of our trip. All they wanted was to eat with their fingers again. And they were begging for more lamb. So our little international foodies have expensive taste.

At least it beats the expense of a trip overseas to Morocco. For now...

Cross posted at Foodie Mama.

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Boy Toys: Shame on Toy Manufacturers

I am the only woman in a house full of dirt and noise. We don't have tea parties or wile away the hours quietly coloring. There's not a Disney princess to be found here. Once in a while we make construction paper party hats and have a birthday party for Teddy. We do our share of art projects; my table bears the marks of glitter glue and stickers and paint and markers that weren't washable after all. We concoct new stews and fancy meals in the toy kitchen. I have a borderline unhealthy affinity for play food. Seriously, have you seen the fantastic toy sushi? And don't think that I don't totally hog the toy grocery cart. But I digress...

Lately I have been having trouble finding appropriate toys for my boys. I'm a firm believer in the power of play. Sure, not everything must be educational and erudite in nature. There's something to be said for just a good old fashioned knee slapping laughing good time with some Tupperware and wooden spoons. My sons had more fun with the ginormous cardboard box that the oversize bean bag came in than the bean bag itself. That box was a spaceship, gnome house, race car, sail boat, train car, animal shelter, treasure box, and umpteen other things before it collapsed on itself. That box was Imagination captured, yet not contained.

The toy aisles at big box retailers have proven to be a resounding disappointment. I'm not talking about the likes of the marvelous Tookie's Toys here. I mean the Targets and their ilk. No disrespect to Target. You know how much I love the bull's eye. But if you wander the toy section you will see a clear gender delineation. The kitchen stuff is all pink and ruffly. Even presumably unisex things such as instruments and hand held games scream with cotton candy pink and rugged camouflage. The toys geared toward boys are so jacked up with testosterone that I find myself puffing out my chest in a show of manliness. My sons just might grow hair on their soft little bottoms by just being among all that testosterone. Everything is chock full of flames and neon and muscles and growls and fists and lasers and grime and snarls. Every action figure bears a grizzly grin or gritted teeth. Even the Legos, perhaps my favorite thing besides toy food, has disappointed me the most. Must every kit be movie merchandising? Enough with the Star Wars and Indiana Jones crap! Where are the boxes of Lego pieces that allow kids to engage their own imagination? Why are there teeny weeny toy guns in the kits made for five year olds? And why is there one lousy box of random pieces in a pink box on the bottom shelf, as if it were an after thought?

Meanwhile, the "girl" toys are bursting with unicorns and rainbows and sparkles and charms and toothy smiles and tulle and fluff. And pink. All that nauseating pink. The irony of the color of Pepto Bismol is not lost on me.

The old adage "the more things change, the more they stay the same" seems fitting in these times. Here Lily Ledbetter has paved the way for equal pay. We are seeing more and more stay at home dads heading up families. A woman almost because President of the United States for cripe's sake. Women, while facing a long, long journey ahead, have made great strides. Yet we as a society are forcefully shoving our children into gender traps. Yes, traps.

Girls' toys should be pretty (and pink!) while boys' should be rough and rugged. Let's extrapolate this lesson into how children develop emotionally. Are we not telling our girls to just sit pretty and our boys to suck it up and be tough? How are we emotionally equipping our sons to express the crazy quilt of emotions that they feel? How are we teaching our daughters to stand up for themselves? If children do indeed learn through play, we are setting up a pretty poor, lopsided playground for their future.

Come on toy manufacturers and buyers, girls shouldn't be relegated to the kitchen. And boys need more than dirt and noise.

Reposted from an original Deep South Moms Blog post.

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