Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Another Post about Food

I know I've written about food a lot lately, but, well, it's either that or the cute two-year old and goodness knows I can write volumes and volumes about her (and do). Plus, it's kind of fun when the food comes with a story, right?

First up, a garden report. We've been dining on fresh onions, sad zucchini, broccoli, a variety of peppers, and of course, lovely sweet tomatoes. The other night I asked Dan to bring in some veggies for the next day's meals. This was the haul:
Not bad, even despite the plants that have been nipped by the early frost we woke up to twice already. The zucchini and most of the other vines were hit and probably won't produce much. Some of the earlier corn in almost ready and we've eaten green beans a few times.

Then, there is the BEEF. I'll admit it; I'm a beef snob. I didn't mean to become one, but after years of refining my beef palette by only eating high-quality, locally raised, custom cut beef, I had a hard time eating anything else. But alas, our steers weren't ready when we ran out of beef and the freezer spent about a month empty, and during that time I had to break down and buy grocery store beef. We survived and now we (finally!!!) have our freezers full of beef we raised on our pasture.
And it's goooood. Oh so very good.
Let's take a look, shall we.

This is a sirloin:

I know, it doesn't look like the petite sirloin steaks from the grocery does it? It's ginormous and quite tasty.

We had one for dinner along with garden-fresh green beans and baked sweet potatoes.

Dan recently spent some time in the kitchen too. He's been wanting to make Moo-wiches, which are the Northwest Washington Fair's signature treat. He didn't get an authentic Moo-wich prepared by a member of the dairy women's organization because we didn't venture to Lynden for the fair this year, so I suppose making your own is the next best thing. He asked me to make large, fairly uniform chocolate chip cookies. (I just followed the Nestle' Toll House recipe.) Dan picked up a tub of Tillamook vanilla ice cream. He wanted the cookies to be big enough so all he would have to do is cut the round ice cream tub into slices to build the perfect ice cream and cookie sandwich.
Well, the picture won't lie, it worked out pretty darn perfectly, and these guys taste even better than they look. Dan ate the last one tonight after power-washing the deck and I'm really hoping he wants to make more soon.

Oh, and Dan snapped this picture. I've been reading tutorials on taking great food shots and setting up plates and lighting and all that, and he just puts two Moo-wiches on a red plate, sets them on the table and SHAZAAM! he has a perfect food photograph.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The First Tomato


The above picture is NOT of the first ripe tomato from our garden. This picture is probably the fourth or fifth ripe tomato. There's not really a great story about this tomato, but there is a story about the first tomato.

This summer has been pretty cool, so the tomatoes have been sllllooooowww to ripen. I'd been waiting and waiting so patiently for the first ripe tomato. I'd check the garden almost daily, only to find all the tomatoes were still green.

One evening, Lana stayed outside with Dan to "help" feed the animals and check the garden. I stayed inside to get dinner ready. After a few minutes, Dan and Lana came back in the house. Dan stood at the door, whispering instructions to a clearly excited two-year old. She came toward me very slowly, her outstretched hands cupped in front of her chest, her face beaming with pride. She walked slowly and deliberately, taking care of the fragile treasure she was carrying.

When she made her way to me, she held up her cupped hands. "See! Look!" It was a beautiful, petite, fully-red, ripe cherry tomato. Finally! I looked down at my sweet girl, certain in that moment she could do no wrong. "Thank you so much Honey-Bear. Mama has been waiting so long for a red tomato. Can Mama eat it now?" In an instant Lana's sweetness turned into independence and defiance and she looked right at me and said, "No way!" and promptly popped that ripe tomato in her own mouth, clearly enjoying the first satisfying bite. She did it so quickly I had to stick my fingers in her mouth to retrieve the still-attached stem.

Alas, I had to wait a day or two later for my first taste of a summer-ripe tomato, but I don't mind. It's okay Lana-girl. Mama will share her tomatoes with you whenever you want.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lentil Festival, in words and (sorry, only a few) pictures.

This weekend was the National Lentil Festival in Pullman. Yes, the town dedicates a weekend-long celebration to this most versatile legume and I love it. (It was also recently pointed out to me how perfect a setting it would be for a Christopher Gest-type mockumentary. If you have Hollywood connections, let me know - my sis and I have a great plot outline already sketched out.)
Friday night I helped to set up the 4 booths our church ran and helped out in the children's booth. Remember for next year that we rent strollers for free for your kiddos with tired legs and give out free balloons and popcorn for all!
Of course we got our free cup on lentil chili (really pretty good stuff) and we sampled all the classic fair foods like deep fried twinkies and oreos. It was a fun evening for all.
(the lentil chili was made in this giant pot)

The next morning I ran in the Taste T. Lentil 5k Fun Run. It's a tough race, but I like to do it to see how much/if I've improved from the previous year. Despite being tired (up in the middle of the night with a 2-year old who threw up in her bed and needed to be bathed and changed) I improved my time. Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm still the slow, chubby girl, but now I'm at least a little less slow.

Of course we forgot to grab the camera for the 5k and the street festival, but I was sure to have it handy for the Grand Parade. Okay, so really, it's kind of a lame parade, but it gets an A for effort. Candy gets thrown, princesses wave, the boy scouts and helpful and the little kids are cute.

Our little kid thought it was pretty neat, especially once she got a balloon and a lollipop.

How was your weekend? Did you make it out to the Lentil Festival or do something equally cool and Americana-esqu?
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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

And so we dance.

I had a thought about Lana the other day that nearly knocked me down and made me weep.

She will never be this small again.

This should be obvious, right? She's a healthy, growing girl and her shoe size and ability to learn new things just keep increasing as the days go by.

In the past year I have been making a concerted effort to be more intentional with regards to how I interact with the members of my family. Time with Dan is held sacred, and I really do try to make playtime with my daughter more about our relationship than the act of play itself.

If you know me at all, you understand how difficult this is. I'm pretty goal-oriented with my check list of things to do never far away. But tickle time with Lana shouldn't be listed as a to-do that promptly gets marked off, instead it should be savored and oh-so-thoroughly enjoyed because, she will never be this small again.

And so we dance. We dance in the kitchen while making dinner or putting dishes away. We dance to music or to the songs we sing ourselves. Sometimes she likes dancing in her pink tutu and slippers and other times in pajamas and freshly-painted toenails. We dance because I love holding her growing hands in mine and twirling in convoluted circles. We dance because her eyes shine and her smile lights up her whole face and I can feel her pure joy radiating off her fair skin. We dance because for a fleeting moment I know I am doing exactly what I was meant to do.

She will never be this small again.

And so we dance.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

July was....

...4th of July celebrations in Lynden.

...visiting cousins in Oregon.

...swimming lessons for Lana. (unfortunately no pictures) She loved swimming lessons and actually got to where she would hold her breath and float on her back a bit. Her favorite part was jumping in the pool and splashing.

...ZUMBA class for me. (fortunately no pictures) Have you ever done ZUMBA? It's super fun and a great workout and boy oh boy did it ever kick my booty.

...playing dress-up with her new present from globe-trotting Grandma Carol. This dress came to Lana straight from Austria.

...putting in new flooring. (more of it's done now and it looks FABULOUS!)

...watching the garden grow.

...trying out some new recipes to use up our garden's bounty - raspberry chocolate torte was a hit!

...playing school. Yup, she's only two, but the way she loves to sit and color at her desk (a $10 craigslist find), you'd think Lana was getting ready to start kindergarten.

So, how was your July? Any fun August plans to share?