Wednesday, December 16, 2009


It's been a while since I've posted any updates on Baby! I thought I'd share about her "lovey", a stuffed bunny that she adores. When Baby was about one year old, she began carrying this bunny everywhere, sleeping with it, and kissing it on the lips whenever possible. She has decided that its name is Mon (think Jamaican accent here). Based on its name, I think it's safe to assume that Mon is a boy bunny.

About 50 times a day, she will lose Mon and go into a panic. Usually, it means she just left him in another room, so she will walk around the house calling for "Moooo-oooon! Mooo--ooon!" and go running up to him with a huge smile once he's found. She also brushes his hair with her hairbrush, teaches him how to walk, gives him rides in her little car, and showers him with love and affection.

During our family pictures at Target before Mon came to save the day.

After Mon arrived (still no smiles, though).

With Mon at her one-year portraits. He was significantly less mangy then.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Local Restaurant: The Warehouse Restaurant and Gallery

Now, I have to warn you...this restaurant is expensive. Unfortunately, we will probably not be returning often. But if you're looking for a unique eatery for special occasions, The Warehouse is amazing!

I was a little bit too excited about Nick's company holiday party this year. Hire a babysitter? Get dressed up? Eat fancy food? I'M IN! The Warehouse is located in downtown Colorado Springs at 25 W. Cimarron St. Despite its name and humble exterior, expect a classy ambiance once you step inside. This is what I ordered:

Peppered Elk Tenderloin with Mountain Mushrooms ($36): Marinated in dark beer and rosemary hoisin, grilled and finished with a creamy concoction of brandied morels, chanterelles and criminis, bacon crumbles and shirred lingonberries

It was absolutely heavenly. And for dessert:

Black and White Chocolate Pâté ($8): Rich dark chocolate truffle with white chocolate brownies, nougat crème anglaise, blackberry sauce and pistachios

Bon Appetit, Springs locals!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pikes Peak Flute Choir Christmas Concert

What: Pikes Peak Flute Choir Christmas Concert
When: Sunday, December 6 at 7:00 p.m.
Where: Broadmoor Community Church, 315 Lake Ave., Colorado Springs, CO 80906
Cost: FREE

I'll be the one playing the gold flute! See you there!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Morning, Afternoon, and Evening

Whoever came up with the name for Morning Sickness obviously had no idea what he was talking about!

We're happily expecting Baby #2 on June 25 (Nick's birthday!). I am 9 1/2 weeks along and counting down the minutes until the second trimester when I will hopefully feel like a human being again. Until then, unless you want to read blog posts about my take on So You Think You Can Dance or Glee, I don't expect to be doing much worth writing about. My goals for the next few weeks include getting plenty of rest, eating nutritiously, and keeping Baby #1 fed, bathed, and entertained. Notice that my list does not include a perfectly clean house, homemade Christmas gifts or decorations, or any extracurricular activities. Survival can be a lofty enough goal sometimes!

We are especially grateful for our growing family during this Thanksgiving season. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Books on Columbine

On April 20, 1999, I was a Columbine sophomore traveling home from a weekend in Vail for the Future Business Leaders of America state competition. We didn't know that anything was wrong until we pulled into our neighborhood around lunchtime and noticed several helicopters hovering over our school. I will always be grateful that I was kept safe on that day and spared the trauma experienced by my friends and classmates. In the aftermath of the tragedy, I remember listening to the widely varying accounts of students and the media and thinking that no one would ever really know the truth of what occurred that day or why.

A decade later, two valiant attempts have been made to tell the entire story in book form, from the killers' childhoods through the controversial detective work of the Jeffco sheriff's office. I began with Columbine: A True Crime Story by local Rocky Mountain News reporter Jeff Kass. I have to admit, this version didn't live up to my expectations. He went off on unnecessary tangents on subjects such as the history of the Wild West and several generations of Eric and Dylan's family history. His approach seemed to be to present the reader with all of the information in one place, but without jumping to any conclusions -- the approach I preferred before starting the book. However, after ten years, I now think that it's time to draw some sort of conclusion to the most pressing question: why?

The second book, Columbine by online news magazine Salon reporter Dave Cullen, was exactly what I needed to read. Cullen not only presented all the facts, including many more stories of victims and a more detailed account of the actual attack, but also presented a thorough psychological analysis of Eric and Dylan from leading experts. His sections on teacher Dave Sanders and principal Frank DeAngelis were particularly touching. I would highly recommend this book to anyone left confused by conflicting media accounts and police cover-ups that have occurred over the years.

One other recommendation, not specifically about Columbine...We Need to Talk About Kevin, a 2003 novel by Lionel Shriver, was an enthralling read. The author presents the life story of a fictional high school shooter from the perspective of his mother. This story about raising a probable psychopath (a term generally recognized as describing Eric Harris) is a haunting page-turner.

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

A quick disclaimer -- all of these books contain profanity and violence.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Making Yogurt in the Crockpot

I know this sounds a bit eccentric, but it is sooooooooooooo easy, guys! And totally worth it!

Check out this blog for detailed instructions, but here's how it works for me (so you can see how easy it really is):

5:00 Right about when I'm starting to make dinner, I pour 1/2 gallon of milk into the crockpot and turn it on low.
7:30 When I'm doing dishes after putting Baby to bed, I turn off the crockpot.
10:30 When I'm about to go to bed, I stir in 1/2 cup of yogurt (yep, plain regular yogurt) and cover the crock pot with a bath towel.
The next morning: I wake up to 2 quarts of delicious, creamy yogurt! Ladle it into some old yogurt containers and I'm all set.

See how easy that is? You don't need any special equipment or ingredients. I've been making yogurt for a couple months, and you don't even need to buy a new "starter" each time...just save 1/2 cup from your last batch. It will turn out a little bit more runny than store bought yogurt, but it's really not very different. I've read here that you can just add 1/2 cup of powdered milk at the beginning to thicken it up a bit. This blogger also recommended to add a spoonful of jam per bowl when you serve it for flavor.

It's nice knowing exactly what we're eating without worrying about too much sugar or artificial sweeteners. Baby loves this yogurt plain and I usually have it in a smoothie or with homemade granola (another easy treat!).

I'll let you do the math to see how much money you save with 5 minutes of hands-on effort: How does the price of 1/2 gallon of milk compare to two full quarts of yogurt? I felt like a criminal after discovering how amazingly easy this is and not sharing it with all of you, so now I can sleep again :).

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Love and Marching Band

Just some thoughts for you today.

Lately, on our afternoon walks, I've noticed the faint sound of a drumline practicing in the distance. This has lead to nostalgic memories of marching band, which, I'll admit, was 99.9% torture. From the 100 degree, 40-hour August Band Camp week to the frostbitten fingers on metal piccolo of late November, it was brutal.

Naturally, I subconsciously sought a mate who had gone through similar trials; another Band Kid. Little did I know while dating that Nick, a talented french horn player, was a marching band impostor. He attended approximately 10% of rehearsals. His uniform was...get this...a sweatshirt and jeans.

A sweatshirt. And jeans.

No starched white gauntlets, no tall feather plume. No oppressive uniforms individually tailored by loving band moms to fit an army of gangly teens. Sorry, honey, but we were in different leagues.

Which leads us to another dilemma. When a spit-valve-spewing brass marries a prissy-perfectionist-woodwind, to which instrument do we direct our posterity? The only neutral territories are piano, strings, and *shudder* percussion. We'll just have to see where her natural tendencies lie, because in the end she's going to grow up to be whatever she wants to long as she's in the band.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


What kind of a mom forgets to charge the camera battery on Halloween and is therefore limited to a couple blurry pictures? Sorry about that. Here's our sweet little chicken:

She was just happy to have her paci outside of bed (which is against the rules!). We constructed the beak out of orange paper and scotch tape about 5 minutes before we left to go trick-or-treating.

At least we were prepared for a snowy holiday! Instead, we had beautiful weather and a chicken who kept saying "Hot. Hot. Hot." So she ended up just being chicken-legs-sweaty-hair-beak-girl.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

There you go!

Baby has been working on developing her vocabulary lately. It seems that every day she learns at least one new word. One of my favorites is "coke", which is her version of "coat". Also, whenever she catches her reflection in a mirror or window, she pauses, pets her hair, and says "pretty". She's very right!

Her best phrase so far is "There you go!". I realized that for some reason, I say it all the time. Whenever Baby fits a puzzle piece in, stands back up after falling down, or throws her pacifier in bed where it belongs (oh, and she calls her "paci" her "sassy"), I invariably reply with an enthusiastic "There you go!". Baby has been following my example...

1. Yesterday, Baby informed me that she had finished her lunch by both signing and stating "Done. Done. Done. Done." I asked, "Are you sure you're done, Baby?", because she still had quite a bit left. Yes, she was sure. I cleaned her face and hands, removed her bib, and picked her up from her high chair. Almost immediately, she began screaming "More! More! More! More!" and flinging her body in the direction of her food. OK, Baby, you can have more! Once she was strapped back in her chair with her food before her, she said "There you go."

2. Baby has some little animal-shaped boards with holes around the border and a shoelace to "sew" with. She will sit quietly and work on these for a long time, and each time she completes a stitch, she says a very quiet "There you go."

3. Baby has been teaching her stuffed bunny (her "lovey") how to walk. This makes sense, since in her case, walking didn't exactly come naturally either! She holds him up on his hind legs and says "Walking, walking, walking" as he cruises along next to her, with the occasional "There you go!" for encouragement.

4. Now that we've been having colder days and we're spending more time indoors, I have started playing a Toddler Songs CD every so often. Baby LOVES it, dancing her little heart out. The first time we listened to it, whenever a song ended, she started to panic a little bit, saying "Eh? Eh?" and looking to me to fix it. A few seconds later, when the next song began, Baby would visibly relax and say "There you go".

Baby and I went to Lil' Biggs on one of the colder days. She spent the entire time pushing around either a baby stroller or this shopping cart, ignoring the huge indoor sandbox, bouncy house, and other fun toddler equipment. I'm not sure if that was worth the $6 we paid to get in!

So, there you go!

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Rather Boring Post

Boy, am I a lucky mom! We went up to Fort Collins to visit my in-laws on Saturday and came home on Sunday...without Baby! She's spending a few days on the farm with her grandparents, being spoiled rotten. Of course, I have a long list of things that I want to accomplish while she's gone, but today...well...I sortof goofed off instead. I slept in. I went shopping; not boring grocery shopping, but fun shopping at Old Navy, Hobby Lobby, and Salvation Army - I like searching for treasures :). Sure, all I bought was a scarf, but it was heaven to be able to try on clothes in the dressing room and take my sweet time. I also went to the gym and didn't have to worry about Baby catching swine flu at the daycare center. Nick and I are off to a fancy dinner at Johnny Carino's (I know, it's not local, but their Bowtie Festival is too tasty to resist).

Maybe I'm the one being spoiled rotten!

Tomorrow I intend to winterize the garden a bit; just pull out all the dead veggie plants, add some compost and mulch, and plant my garlic bulbs.

Oh, and for those who are worried...Baby is officially walking now! I had a feeling that a change of scenery might inspire her to try it again. It turns out that a half dozen cats and dogs are enticing enough for our "under-motivated child" to chase. Just a couple hours after arriving at the grandparents' farm, she decided to stand up and, in her own words, "walk walk walk walk walk". Everyone dropped what we were doing to applaud her efforts, so she rewarded us with the proudest little smile. A couple wobbles and crashes later and she's still walking all over the place!

AND she got her first two teeth this weekend! Well, just the little white tips are poking up from her gums. Only 3 days before her 18 month birthday! The best part? She didn't even complain at all. She never woke up in the middle of the night; in fact, she's been sleeping 7 p.m. to 8 a.m. every night! What a good baby!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Good Books on Autism

Autism is so prevalent in our children's generation that I would imagine most of us have been touched by it in some way. I won't pretend to be at all knowledgeable on the subject, but I wanted to pass on a few good book recommendations that I have found inspiring or educational:

Dr. Offit is chief of Infectious Diseases and director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. I am absolutely fascinated by the influence our media has over public opinion, and in his book, Dr. Offit explains away some of the confusion surrounding autism-related theories (such as parents' fear of vaccines caused by some rather questionable science and unbalanced media coverage). I would highly recommend this book for new parents who fear they can't fully trust their doctor's recommendations to vaccinate; at least this will give you one side of the story.

Born On A Blue Day book cover

This book is incredible. Mr. Tammet is (or was, when he wrote this) a twenty-something autistic sevant, highly functioning on the autistic spectrum and living a completely independent life in spite of his challenges. His mind is amazing; he sees numbers as colors and shapes and is able to memorize an entirely foreign language in one week. I was enthralled by his description of memorizing the number pi to over 22,000 digits. He describes the numbers as a landscape, complete with rolling hills and geographic features that help him recall each and every digit perfectly.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

This was an interesting fictional novel narrated from the viewpoint of a 15-year old autistic boy. He sees the world around him from a completely unemotional perspective. One scene that sticks out in my mind was his feeling of being overwhelmed by all of the people and objects in a busy train station. He needs to find the information desk. While most people would simply scan the room until finding it, Christopher must place his hands next to his eyes to physically block out all of the extra stimuli, such as advertisements and faces. Once he finds the sign he is looking for, he imagines a red line on the floor between where he is standing and where he needs to be and walks along the line to cross the station. This book is a quick read and very interesting.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

False Alarm

So, in my last post I mentioned how excited I was that Baby FINALLY started walking.


Baby isn't walking. She walked.


Sure, last Wednesday she walked all over the living room and kitchen for like 10 minutes with hardly a wobble, but apparently she's done now. She hasn't walked a single step since!

Why couldn't I have a perfectly average, normal kid first...let the second kid be the challenging one! Not that Baby is necessarily "challenging", but what (almost) 18 month old doesn't have ONE tooth yet? I have never even heard of that happening!

Well, I'm just taking this whole parenting thing one day at a time. I have our pediatrician's office on speed dial and just hope that I'm doing maybe 1% of this job right. Thank you to all of my mommy friends who pass on your hard-earned wisdom! I couldn't do it without you!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

We have an official toddler now!

I've been meaning to post a really cute video of Baby for at least a week now, but have come up against a couple roadblocks: (1) our computer was fried by lightning (I heard a loud bang during a thunderstorm that sounded like it actually hit our roof, but there was no damage so it likely struck nearby), and (2) I can't figure out how to upload the video to our new computer.

I also don't have any new pictures but just wanted to share the news that Baby took her first independent steps today! What a relief! At 17.5 months, she's been grudgingly "walking" while holding our hands for a couple weeks now, and recently it's seemed that she is perfectly able to walk, physically, but is only lacking the confidence to strike out on her own. Well, today she seemed to have discovered some inner ambition because she couldn't stop saying "walk, walk, walk, walk, walk" as she requested help. I was excited when she took two steps from the wall to my hands, but didn't get my hopes up too high yet.

I moonlight as a secret shopper (sweet gig), so I left the house when Nick got home from work to go pick up our (free!) dinner for a carryout assignment. I was only gone for a few minutes, and while I was waiting for my order, I got a text saying that Baby was walking all by herself! Apparently, she walked across the living room and kitchen several times. Nick said that she looked more stable on her own than the wobbly girl we're used to holding hands with. I rushed home, but by then it was nearly bedtime and she didn't feel like performing. I can't wait to see if she'll do it again tomorrow!

So for those of you moms with full-time jobs who might be sad about missing the big milestones, like those first steps, rest assured: it happens to stay-at-home-moms too.

Congratulations, Baby, on reaching this exciting milestone! Hopefully I'll post some video or pictures soon!

Swimming on Labor Day.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hungry Families

Several months ago, Nick decided that he wanted to eat Lean Cuisine personal pizzas every day for lunch. I stocked up when they were on sale and soon had a freezer full of little pizza boxes. One day, he decided he didn't like them anymore. Since then, I've had 10 pizzas taking up precious space in the back of my freezer.

I find these frozen pizzas to be rather disgusting, so they did not get eaten. Pretty soon, they passed their expiration date. It's not like I could drop them off at a food bank, so today, I put a quick ad up on Craigslist offering them for free and clearly explaining that they were expired (thinking I would probably just end up throwing them away tomorrow if no one responded).

Well, people responded. The ad went up at 3:00 and by 5:30 I had 18 responses, to be exact. Several people said in their emails that their family was struggling and needed all the help they could get. Many people even said that they live right in my neighborhood and could be at my house in a matter of minutes.

This was a wake-up call for me. I knew that many families were going through difficult times financially, but today it hit pretty close to home. If we can afford to give, even just a little bit, let's not delay, ok?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Apples Galore

On Saturday, we made a trip down to Penrose (about 90 minutes from our home) to visit Third Street Apples, a pick-your-own orchard. We had a great day!

We picked Jonathan's, Golden Delicious, Jonalicious, Mcintosh, Seek-no-Further, and one tree labeled "Mystery Apple" :). The owners encouraged us to sample the apples; here's a shot of a cranky Baby chomping on what we thought was a small bite!

Baby got a chance to crawl freely amongst the trees while Nick and I picked apples.

We couldn't pass up the fresh apple cider and apple butter for sale in their gift shop.

When we got home, I made a batch of applesauce with Jonathan's. It turned out pink because I included the skins. Soooo yummy! We still have tons of apples left so hopefully we'll get enough applesauce to last us...a month? If we exercise restraint, that is.

I clipped this recipe out of the Gazette a couple weeks ago (9/16/09) and couldn't wait to try it for dinner tonight. I didn't take a picture, but it turned out beautifully and would make a nice breakfast for company.

The Ruby's Dutch Apple Pancake
(from The Ruby of Crested Butte Bed and Breakfast)

5 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large, tart apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. In blender, combine eggs, vanilla, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar and blend until combined, about 5 seconds. Add flour, baking powder, and salt and mix until smooth, about 10 seconds.
3. To 10-inch ovenproof, nonstick frying pan over medium heat, add butter. When butter hhas foamed and foam has subsided, add apples and saute, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4-5 minutes. Sprinkle apples with cinnamon and remaining sugar. Stir together and saute until apples are glazed and edges are slightly translucent, about 2 minutes longer.
4. Spread apples evenly in frying pan and pour batter slowly over top, so apples stay in place. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until bottom and sides are starting to firm up, about 8 minutes. Transfer to oven and cook until top of pancake is firm and golden brown, about 10 minutes longer. Remove from oven, invert pan over serving plate. Cut pancake into 6-8 wedges. Sprinkle each portion with confectioners' sugar.

Happy apple season!

A Few More Pictures

I found that helmet for $1 at Salvation Army! Sweet!

And no, it's not on backwards. I'm 99% certain.

Climbing up on the coffee table like the little monkey she has become.

Inspecting (with a beautiful face) her new cloth wipes made by mom & grandma.

A pokerfaced princess wearing pink piggy pajamas.

After rubbing handfuls of yogurt in her hair, shampoo-style.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Wow, two posts in one day. I just wanted to pass on a bit of advice that I may actually be somewhat qualified to give.

Before becoming a stay-at-home-mom (does anyone else HATE that title? We need to come up with something better but I don't have any ideas yet), I worked in banking as a branch manager. Part of my responsibilities included looking through people's personal financial records for loan applications. I also got the fun job of deciding whether or not to refund overdraft fees for bounced checks and other mistakes. I learned the importance of keeping a monthly budget and watching my own personal finances closely.

Here is my little gem of wisdom for you. Nick and I decided a couple years ago to make room in our budget for personal allowances. Nick thinks that "allotment" is a less embarrassing term. Whatever we call it, I make a trip to the bank every Friday to withdraw our cash. Everything that's not an approved household expense -- monthly bills, groceries, medical expenses, gas -- must be spent out of our personal allowances. That includes dining out, clothing, entertainment, etc.

You may be thinking that having a limited weekly allowance would be prohibitive. It's actually quite freeing. If I want to buy a new handbag (my weakness), I don't need to sell Nick on the idea first. If Nick wants to buy a new video game (I will withhold my opinions here), he can save up his allowance for a few weeks or months until he can pay cash for it. I think this system has prevented many arguments and reduced the stress in our marriage.

This takes some restraint; "bigger" expenses, such as shoes or a new winter coat, can take a long time to save up for. We're far from perfect. There have been some interest-free loans and even a couple bailouts. Originally, we intended to have all gifts and dining out covered by allowances, but eventually discovered that my gift expenses were unfairly higher (Nick doesn't go to a lot of bridal or baby showers), and our Saturday lunch out tradition is now "on the house".

In the end, this system keeps our monthly budget simple. I have no idea how much we spend on movie rentals or fast food or gum or socks-- and I'd like to keep it that way. We are each responsible for our own variable expenses. Best of all, if we have cash in our wallets to pay for something, we know we can afford it. That cash has already been set aside in our monthly budget. It doesn't really matter how big or small our allowances are -- they've shrunk during tough times and increased with job promotions -- it's the feeling of autonomy over some small portion of our expenditures that makes a difference.

One bonus we didn't anticipate? A small gift for each other is extra special now. A candy bar at the gas station or a concrete mixer from Culver's represents a small, thoughtful sacrifice.

Anyway, this is what works for us, so I thought I'd share the idea in case it will help you!

Sabey Update

It's been a while since I've posted anything on here. I realized that all I've been writing about is food, and that I am in no way qualified to give advice about cooking! It's probably time for a good old fashioned family update.

Now, I am REALLY bad about taking pictures. But here are a couple of our little Broncos cheerleader:

So, what have we been up to lately? Baby has been very busy, of course. She is soooo close to walking! She will walk holding only one hand or pushing her walking toy. Her physical therapist thinks that she is plenty strong enough; all that she is lacking is confidence at this point. I made her a little indoor "sandbox" with rice and various tools (funnels, shovels, cups, etc.). She loves picking up the rice one pinch at a time and scattering it all over the kitchen floor. We've been working on the concept of not doing that, but it hasn't quite sunk in yet! It's been really cute watching her personality and imagination develop. Today she was playing with a little horse toy, making it walk around with her car sound ("vroooooom, vrooooom"). I taught her to say "neigh", so she started walking the horse around shouting "NEIGH NEIGH NEIGH!".

Nick has been pretty busy with work lately. He loves his new job at A.I. Solutions. They basically try to predict when satellites are likely to collide with space debris or other satellites. The company is based in Maryland, but the branch in Colorado Springs is quite small; only 6 or 7 people work in his office. He is thrilled to work so close to home; no more leaving the house at 6 a.m. to try to find a decent parking space at Schriever Air Force Base.

I've been enjoying life as a stay-at-home-mom, as usual. I take a nap almost every day (my dream come true). I promised myself when Baby was a newborn that I would never feel guilty about napping again after all of the sleep deprivation she caused :). I'm been practicing my flute lately after joining the Pikes Peak Flute Choir. Baby crawls on my lap and puts her face right in front of mine while I play, squinting as I blow air into her eyes (silly girl!). My garden DIED due to the early snow this week. So sad! I've actually been enjoying the cooler weather. I will soon miss my daily walks with Baby or hanging laundry outside to dry, but it is nice to spend full days indoors whenever I get a chance. I love sitting on the floor reading books to Baby (a thousand times), doing puzzles, making play-doh (which Baby just thinks is a nasty food), walking Baby up and down the stairs (two thousand times), and of course, cooking. I've been baking all of our bread (sandwich bread, rolls, tortillas, naan, whatever), sometimes successfully, sometimes not, and trying other experiments like making yogurt in the crock pot. I'm discovering that I really love all things domestic. The feminists of my mother's generation would probably disapprove of how I spend my time, but you know what? I LOVE having the freedom and time to learn all of these interesting skills. Maybe someday down the road I'll start a home-based business or take a part-time job or become involved in local politics or something. For now, I'm just not ready to give up my naps and time at home with Baby. I'm enjoying every minute of it.

That's about it!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Chimichurri Sauce and the Old Stone Church

First things first: Have I ever mentioned my favorite restaurant, the Old Stone Church? Located in Castle Rock, it's nearly halfway between Colorado Springs and Littleton, where my parents live, so we occasionally meet for lunch when a granddaughter visit is required. The restaurant is located inside a renovated church built in 1888; not only can you request the booth in the old confessional, but the atmosphere is quite elegant and quaint with stained glass windows and a bubbling fountain inside.

We've only been for lunch, as the entree prices are $8-12 versus $18-25 per plate for dinner. My favorite menu items include the Crab Cakes with Anaheim chile cream and angel hair pasta or the Brie cheese, grilled and served with roasted garlic, blackberry jalapeno chutney and flatbread. Nick usually goes for the flautas (crispy flour tortillas filled with grilled chicken and mild jalapeno salsa) or the traditional fish and chips with amber beer batter and jalapeno tartar sauce. I've tried half a dozen other menu items that were absolutely perfect. Don't get me started on the desserts - the bananas foster or white chocolate bread pudding are nearly impossible to share.

Perhaps the best part of the meal is the grilled flatbread served with bright green chimichurri sauce brought to your table as soon as you sit down. Chimichurri is a traditional Argentinian barbecue sauce made with fresh herbs, olive oil, and vinegar. While gauchos may have originally served it atop grilled steaks, the flavors can brighten up a variety of dishes, including pasta, bean salads, grilled chicken, fish, or vegetables, or a simple dipping sauce for bread.

Each batch turned out a different shade of green, but they all taste delicious!

Since my garden is overflowing with fresh basil, I decided to make a huge batch of chimichurri sauce this week. I froze most of it in Ball's freezer jam containers and reserved a bit to freeze in ice cube trays for use whenever we just need individual servings for bread dipping with dinner. If you are a guest at my house this winter, chances are you will be served beautiful, fragrant chimichurri sauce with some home-baked bread; that is, unless we eat it all first!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Tomato Time

I thought I'd pass along a few more recipes for the home canners out there!

This is my second year making this recipe, and it is much more flavorful than store-bought salsa. Last year, I made 14 pints, which lasted, oh, about a month (I set aside 10 for Christmas gifts). I really want to make enough this summer to keep us swimming in all the salsa we can eat for the next year. So far, I've made 16 pints, but only 13 remain after eating and gifting a few already. Salsa is SOOO much work, but hopefully I get my act together to make some more this month!

I discovered this recipe in Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal Vegetable Miracle. It's quite tasty, but I'm not sure if it's cost effective to make tomato sauce. For some reason, whenever I can anything with tomatoes, it only makes about half as much as the recipe promises. My 7 pints ended up costing about $4.50 each (plus the cost of jars, which I re-used from last year). You can easily buy a 28-ounce jar of tomato sauce for about $2.50, so homemade ends up being quite a bit more expensive (although I don't know the cost of a jar of organic tomato sauce, which would be more comparable).

I'm just glad to have some barbecue sauce in my pantry whose #1 ingredient isn't High Fructose Corn Syrup! I've canned 15 jars, 12 ounces each, and may even make more so that I have plenty for Christmas gifts. I served some roasted chicken with this BBQ sauce on it for dinner the other night; it's delicious!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Colorado Balloon Classic

We were out of the house by 6:15 a.m. this morning (a Saturday!) to visit the Colorado Balloon Classic for the first time. This is the largest hot air balloon festival in Colorado, taking place every Labor Day weekend at Memorial Park.

Baby was a little bit tired; very sweet, but very quiet. We packed chocolate zucchini muffins for breakfast, which seemed to cheer her up a bit.

Unfortunately, the weather was a bit foggy and they decided not to launch the balloons this morning. Usually, they do a mass ascension at 7 a.m., but today they just filled them with air and kept them tethered to the ground.

Mmmmmmmm....pork chop on a 7 a.m...

There's that smile!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Vegetable Garden: Harvest Season

Baby eyeing today's harvest.

I have a confession to make: I haven't stepped foot in my vegetable garden in weeks except to pick veggies. The weeds are persistent (as shown in every picture below!) but they don't seem to be crowding the good guys out yet. I've had some successes and some failures this year. Since we live at such high altitude, I thought I'd share what's happening in my vegetable garden for those gardeners in my region that want to compare notes. If you don't care, you may want to get out now...this is a long post :)

1. Lettuce: SUCCESS!

We had much more lettuce and mesclun that we were able to eat this year. Yay! From my understanding, lettuce is a spring crop that starts to bolt and go to seed during the hottest summer days. I planted it in a shady corner of the garden and thanks to our moderate weather at high altitude, we were still eating salads through late July. Now, some of it has gone to seed and I haven't made a salad in a while, but it may still be good -- I'll have to try a salad for lunch tomorrow.

2. Tomatoes: FAILURE!

"Uh, mom? Are you sure this is how a tomato plant is supposed to look?"

No, dear. Sure, there are a fair number of tomatoes (these ones are mini yellow pear tomatoes). They're tasty. It's just that there are no leaves for some reason. I wanted LOTS of tomatoes this year, so I planted 8 seedlings this spring. Maybe I didn't water them enough. I only applied fertilizer twice. Does anyone have any ideas why they turned out so sad?

3. Banana Peppers: SUCCESS!

All of my pepper plants are producing perfect-looking banana peppers. The above picture doesn't do them justice; many peppers are clustered in groups and hiding behind leaves.

4. Purple Pole Beans: FAILURE!

My first few bean seeds sprouted and grew to be about 4 inches tall before stopping. They were located near the ant colony and were riddled with bite holes, so I assumed that was the problem (ants or aphids). In July, I replanted them on the opposite end of the garden, in the same spot where the garlic grew. The same thing happened! Weird.

5. Zucchini: SUCCESS!

Now I understand where zucchini gets its reputation. Every time I visit the garden, there is at least one huge, shiny zucchini waiting for me; they seem to appear overnight! I think they taste best when harvested small, but sometimes they're practically the size of baseball bats by the time I notice them.

6. Basil: SUCCESS!

I'll admit, I didn't have much faith in my little basil plants. Only 9 seeds out of the dozens sowed became sprouts, and they were pretty puny for a while. In the last few weeks, every one of them has really blossomed into a decent sized plant. I desperately need to harvest it so they will grow even bigger!

7. Carrots: SUCCESS!

I've been cooking with carrots for most of the summer. It's nice to just head out to the backyard whenever a recipe calls for a carrot or two. It's my understanding that you can just leave these in the ground until you need them (instead of needing to harvest them soon after they reach maturity like most other veggies). The only problem I've had is that the dirt is so clay-like (too dry? too wet? not sure) that it's nearly impossible to pull those suckers out of the ground without a trowel.

8. Cucumbers: ????????

I've been excitedly watching the cucumber plants sprawl this summer, expecting a bumper crop. The strange thing is, today I harvested my first cucumber. It seems that the leaves and plants are doing OK, but for some reason it's not producing much. Maybe it's just a bit behind schedule and I'll be making greek salads all September and October.

9. Miscellaneous: some good, some just OK

Sugar snap peas: These finished producing in late spring, and I only harvested a couple bowls full. They were OK, not too exciting.

Cherries: Our poor little cherry tree just is not thriving. It produced a couple dozen cherries this year, enough to give the birds a tasty little snack. We planted it 3 years ago and it should be much more than just a little twig by now. We suspect that the clay soil is the culprit. It was nearly impossible to dig the hole, and our baby apple tree died the first winter.

Rhubarb and raspberries: I just planted the rhubarb this year, but the raspberries have been going for 3 years. This summer was AWESOME for raspberries! Baby and I went outside every other day or so and she sat on the ground, arms outstretched as I tried to pick berries fast enough for her. I didn't keep track of how many we ate this year, but every time we went out back for a month or so I picked 20-40 berries. Baby LOVED them!

Chives and Cilantro: FAILURE. Do chives ever get white flowers? I thought they were supposed to be purple. I sunk a plastic pot underground to contain the cilantro, but there were only a few small plants and I missed harvest time.

How are your gardens this year? Do you have any tips for my tomatoes?