June 29, 2012

Fridays of Intestinal Fortitude:
Honey Limeade!

Note: Fridays of Intestinal Fortitude is a weekly(ish) feature about food, food and more FOOD. No, I am not an expert, but I do enjoy talking about food prep, cooking food, eating food and making sweet love to food.  Okay, maybe not the "sweet love" part. After all, this is not meant to be an homage to 9 1/2 Weeks.

Recipe Index can be found here. 

Last weekend, I went to the glorious town of Pratt, Kansas!  I am still working on that food post (which involves beef.  Lots and lots of BEEF) and thought I would skip posting this week.  However, I made some fresh limeade this morning and when I posted the snap on Instagram, I received so many requests for the recipe, that I thought it was worthy of a post.  Last year, I came across this limeade recipe -- I love the smoothness that the honey adds, but felt the recipe was too sweet for my taste.  So, I added a tad more honey (for the smoothness) and a bit more lime juice in my recipe.

Honestly?  You really cannot beat fresh-squeezed juice and there is really a reason why fresh-squeezed has a different flavor than what you buy in the store.  In fact, Food Renegade had a fascinating article on how the process of making orange juice homogenizes the flavor:
Making OJ should be pretty simple. Pick oranges. Squeeze them. Put the juice in a carton and voilĂ !

But actually, there is an important stage in between that is an open secret in the OJ industry. After the oranges are squeezed, the juice is stored in giant holding tanks and, critically, the oxygen is removed from them. That essentially allows the liquid to keep (for up to a year) without spoiling– but that liquid that we think of as orange juice tastes nothing like the Tropicana OJ that comes out of the carton.
I really enjoyed that article because it did not demonize Tropicana and the like -- there is a valid reason for how orange juice (and fruit juices, in general) are processed.

Man, I do love a fresh-squeezed limeade and it took me all of 10 minutes to make it.  We don't need to be making gallons of it anyway and I prefer it to be a special treat.   So, I will be sticking with fresh-squeezed,

Honey Limeade Recipe

5 cups water
2/3 cups sugar
3 tbs honey
1 1/4 cups of lime juice (5-7 limes, depending on the size of the limes)

1. Pour sugar and honey into a pitcher with the water.  Mix well.

2. Squeeze limes! As I am squeezing, I continue to give the water/sugar/honey mixture quick swirls with the spoon, to ensure a good mixing.

3. Add the lime juice.  Mix well!!

Really, that is it!

June 22, 2012

Fridays of Intestinal Fortitude:
Where the Magic Happens

Note: Fridays of Intestinal Fortitude is a weekly(ish) feature about food, food and more FOOD. No, I am not an expert, but I do enjoy talking about food prep, cooking food, eating food and making sweet love to food.  Okay, maybe not the "sweet love" part. After all, this is not meant to be an homage to 9 1/2 Weeks.

Recipe Index can be found here. 
Brain Bytes:
1. Two of my photography loves are insect/arachnid photography and food photography (I often wonder what my kids will remember from their childhood what with me photographing our dinners AND herds of spiders and bugs!)  As such, I really enjoyed this video titled "A Picture-Perfect Quarter Pounder" which shows the process of photographing, you guessed it, a McDonald's Quarter Pounder.

2. Recently, I "discovered" Melissa's Alosha's Kitchen and then, I promptly trolled through a good portion of her archives. There is some yummy stuff there folks!  In particular, I cannot wait to try out her recipes for Blueberry Lemon Bread and her Breakfast Sandwiches.  Melissa's site was quite a find for me because so many of her recipes were easily adaptable to my food needs.  Also, she provides recipes of things we will actually eat whereas, many food blogs simply don't feature the type of food that Manoj and I eat.  Manoj doesn't eat salads or soups and he cannot eat pasta.  We also don't really do beef or pork.  And I don't bake (but I am trying!).  So...... this often limits me when it comes to reading food blogs because it feels like food porn -- reading and drooling over luscious things I cannot have.

A few weeks ago, I Instagrammed a snap of our kitchen:

Where the Magic Happens

Mostly, I really love my kitchen.  I am very comfortable with the dimensions and how everything is set up -- for me, it is a perfect Kitchen Work Triangle.   Some of my very favorite memories from this house will be the ones of all of us in the kitchen while I am cooking.  Also, I really appreciate that I have more than enough cabinet space -- I actually have quite a few nearly empty shelves!  Furthermore, to the left of the photo, just out of camera range are even more cabinets -- a pantry, 3 cabinets and a built-in desk area. Honestly, there isn't much I would change in my kitchen.  Except........

1. I hate, loathe, despise the counter tops - they are a yellow laminate that absorbs stains if I even think about turmeric, red fruits, coffee, or wine.   Or beets.  BEETS.  Those counter tops are the ugly cousin to our Jackson Pollack Tribute Carpet and I would love to burn both in effigy.

2. I am really over the double oven - I rarely use 2 ovens at once and would prefer to have a microwave in that space above the oven.  Although the oven is original to the house, I still cannot justify getting rid of it yet because it actually works and I have a difficult time wasting money buying a new oven to replace an old oven that already functions just fine.

3. I am also done with the florescent lighting.  Need I say more?

Frankly, those are my three chief complaints about my kitchen.  How lucky am I?  I am a little iffy on the paint color, but that is such an easy change equivalent to a bucket of paint and a day's worth of work.  And I would not even want to get rid of the small refrigerator because I have found that 18 cubic feet is just the right space for us -- any more space and I would start hoarding food.  Also, having a small fridge keeps me honest about food spoilage since I clean the fridge every week.  Which gives me ample time to force-feed Team Chaos slightly expired containers of yogurt.  Winning!

June 20, 2012

Objet d'Fart

Warning!  This post contains gratuitous photos of NUDITY. Queue up some Barry White, lock your children in their rooms, pop open a box of wine and revel in the glory that is the naked human form. You're welcome.

In the Kansas City area, there are two petitions circulating that are pushing to remove what they deem to be sculptures of "offensive nature".    One petition wishes to remove an "inappropriate" sculpture at the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens:

Another petition concerns "offensive" statues of Bare, Naked Ladies in the Country Club Plaza area:

OH MY GOD.  NEKKED LADY BITS!  Hide your children.... hide yourselves.  No seriously.  Hide yourself.  Because if you are offended by art like that?  You have got a mighty thin skin and probably should never leave your house.  Grab your Bible, fire up Faux News on the telly and settle in for a long, hot summer.

The best part of all of this is that these petitions were spear-headed by the lovely (not) American Family Association (a group that targets gays and lesbians), a Chinese Baptist Church and a bored housewife, Joann Hughes (to whom I would suggest just buying 50 Shades of Grey already).  It's a joke in the making, except I doubt any of these folks ever enter bars.  But the SECOND best part is this bit from the Hughes regarding the statue at the Arboretum:
No matter what the artist’s intent, she thinks the sculpture is, on the whole, “too mature for young eyes” and has the potential to expose children to difficult and unexpected images and force parents into conversations with children that they may not be ready to have.

“I didn’t take the time to understand the artist’s message,” Hughes said. “I was really thinking, ‘Good grief, what is that doing here?’ It is vulgar. It is provocative. I thought it was glorifying sexting. For me, it is very offensive.”

Hughes said she is not asking for the piece to be destroyed or hidden from public view. She thinks it needs to be in a museum or other more adult venue.

She rejects any argument that likens the arboretum sculpture to, say, naked figures from Greek or Roman antiquity or the works of Michelangelo or Rodin.

“I have seen the statue of David in person,” Hughes said of Michelangelo’s masterpiece. “It is beautiful. He’s also not taking a picture of his penis. There is a difference there. The message is different.”
(Sidenote: I wonder if the American Family Association knows that their fellow in arms supports gay artists such as Michelangelo and Rodin?  When will the madness stop!???)

Anyway! Here is what I think about Bare, Naked Ladies:

I think the human body is beautiful and it is simply not my place to judge an artist's interpretation of it.  Aesthetically, I do not really care for the art that is the subject of the Arboretum petitions.  But I do not support the stifling of it, either.

Last July, I took Team Chaos to see the Monet Water Lilies Exhibit at the Nelson-Atkins Art Gallery.  I adore Thomas Hart Benton and wanted to share some of that with the kiddos as well.

Honestly? They did not really notice the lovely Persephone there with the creepy farmer in the background leering lasciviously at her.   Furthermore, later in the main hall, they did not notice the Greek statues of naked men with their junk hanging over our heads like wrinkly bunches of grapes.

And lest you think the Nelson-Atkins  is not meant for children, let me point out their Youth and Family Programs for your viewing pleasure. In fact, I was at the Nelson a few weeks ago and that very same program was hosting something just a few paintings down from the gorgeous painting of Persephone and her agrarian stalker.

But don't tell Joanne Hughes that.

What say you, Gentle Reader?  Would you risk your precious progeny's eternal soul on this one?  When does art cross the line into obscenity?

June 19, 2012

So, Branson. That Happened.

God, how irritating it is when bloggers come back from their Fancy Pants Vacations and then spend the next goddamned week subjecting you to the titillating footage depicting their glamorous life while you sit in your yoga pants downing stale coffee and toast made with  storebrand bread?  Even worse?  When that vacationing fool of a blogger has the audacity to live in the Midwest (YAWN) and only goes to such places as fucking Branson, Missouri (and potentially, Pratt....Salina....Hays....Omaha.....  See a trend here, Gentle Reader??)

So, Branson.  That actually happened.

Nearly every year, the Oliver Clan weaves its way through the state highways of southern Missouri in our annual quest toward Good Old-Fashioned Family Fun.  And usually?  We succeed.  We keep our trip simple - we stay just a few days and we focus on Silver Dollar City.  For those of you just joining the program, Silver Dollar City is an amusement theme park where the theme is essentially "hillbilly".    A place where my dad takes a deep breath and says "Ahhh...."  Quite simply, Silver Dollar City is one of his favorite spots on earth.  As I always say..... YOUR dad may like to vacation in the South of France but MY dad loves the South of Missouri.

Whatever, I probably hate you and your Fancy Pants bread anyway.

All week before the trip, Anjali was very anxious about the barbecue lunch.  Her wish was granted.

The old-fashioned candy store is an Official Team Chaos Approved Activity.

A boy and his journal.

Besides Silver Dollar City, I take Team Chaos to the Butterfly Palace every year.  This year we spent time at the Night Exhibit, then went back the next day for the Day Exhibit.  When it was all said and done (and paid for!) we spent well over five hours at the Butterfly Palace.  FIVE. 

Towards the end of our second visit, I was answering general questions and pointing people toward the restrooms.  At least during this visit, Arun didn't kill any butterflies (2009 was not our proudest moment at the Butterfly Palace, ahem.) although he did manage to break an electronic harp during the Night Exhibit.  Fortunately, Jewel the Mute Fairy was understanding as I hurriedly rushed my destructive progeny out the door posthaste.

The next morning when we went back for the day exhibit, Jewel the Mute Fairy was magically transformed back into a talking human.  To her credit, Jewel pretended not to know my kids, but did whisper to me that all was kosher with the harp.  Thanks, Jewel!

The Mirror Maze! Which we did three times.  THREE.  Because we were there for five hours.  FIVE.

The obligatory snap of the Face Behind the Magnifying Lens.  'Tis a Butterfly Palace tradition.


June 15, 2012

Fridays of Intestinal Fortitude:
Judgment Day

Note: Fridays of Intestinal Fortitude is a weekly(ish) feature about food, food and more FOOD. No, I am not an expert, but I do enjoy talking about food prep, cooking food, eating food and making sweet love to food.  Okay, maybe not the "sweet love" part. After all, this is not meant to be an homage to 9 1/2 Weeks.

Recipe Index can be found here. 

Brain Bytes
I LOVED this article by Foodbabe -- FoodBabe Investigates: Is Subway Real Food?!  Admittedly, I do love a Subway Italian sub, I don't fool myself into thinking I am eating "real" food.  In fact, pretty much every time you leave your house these days, you are at risk for Not Eating Real Food since many restaurants take shortcuts and rely on highly-preserved ingredients (yes, even the high-end, casual restaurants)  So, I will lovingly bite into that Steak n' Shake cheeseburger with my eyes wide open.

I also appreciated this post by Monica Bhide,  "Does Ethnicity Matter?" where she discusses whether a person's ethnicity affects whether his/her cooking can be considered authentic.  Obviously, I do not believe a person's ethnicity has much influence on one's ability to cook.  However! The Indian food that I cook is not authentic and I would never claim it be so.  Not because I host White DNA, but rather because I have made modifications according to our lifestyle.  For example, I will never use ghee in my Indian cooking.  Never.  And I will probably always use a mix when making idlis and dosas.  Probably.  I will most certainly always buy frozen parathas. Always. I think you get my drift.

Big News!
I won something!  I enter giveaways all the freaking time and I never win, but this time, I actually WON SOMETHING.  Daniel over at the Casual Kitchen hosted a giveaway for the cookbook "The Farmer's Kitchen".  The giveaway rules were simple -- post a comment with links to your own favorite recipes that use fresh ingredients.  The giveaway was fun because I stalked the comment section for fun recipes.  Fortunately, Daniel put together a lovely, concise list with all of our recipes. (Seriously, I cannot wait to try Louisa's Avocado and Beets!  I had an avocado ready to go this week, but when I cut it open, it was bad.  Grrrr!)

So!  Last week I went to Branson, MO with Team Chaos.  It was fun, but there was not much to report in the way of interesting food.  At one point, Arun was begging for sushi which.  Um, hello?  We were in BRANSON.  So, Red Lobster, it is.  Arun was beyond thrilled that lobster tail was on the kid's menu.  At one point, I had to say "Arun, stop sucking on the tail.  You are DONE.  Put it down."   (Sidenote: Today is National Lobster Day!  YUM.)

Both kids were also freakishly excited with their "colored cereal" at the hotel breakfast.  Nothing spells "treat" to my kids like artificial food coloring since they do not get it very often.  Sigh.

Vacations and junk food seem to go hand in hand, no?  I tried to offset the food with granola bars, but seriously?  A granola bar will never compare to a bloomin' onion.

Go ahead, judge me.

June 13, 2012

Like Sand

I know that time passes quickly.

I know this.

And yet. I would like to request a reprieve.


Hopeless.  That's me.

Anjali finished Pre-K last month and was officially declared "ready for Kindergarten".  At the beginning of the school year, I was hesitant about the whole "Kindergarten thing" since she doesn't even turn 5 until July.  However, a few months ago when I brought her along to volunteer in Arun's class, it was obvious she was ready because she did the assigned activity right alongside each group that came to my station. Five times.  FIVE.  Also, Anju's Pre-K teacher was clearly NOT hesitant during our conference a few weeks ago when she made the recommendation to send her to Kindergarten.   (Also, I'd like to give huge props to my friend LuAnn. She is an AP English high school teacher and was able to give me perspective on what it would mean for Anjali to be one of the youngest in her her class.  Additionally, LuAnn gave me some great advice overall on challenging children vs. holding them back -- advice that I am using for Arun, as well. THANK YOU, LUANN. )

So, in the fall I will have a Kindergartner and a 1st Grader.

I remember a time when I thought I would never have a quiet moment to myself again.

However, those quiet moments came sooner than I thought since these days, Team Chaos often disappears in the house to play with each other.

Or, they disappear outside to play with neighbors.

They are the best of friends....... the worst of enemies.

There is no middle ground with these two.  They either hate each other with the passion of a thousand burning suns......  Or they simply adore each other.

Some days, I simply do not feel worthy of this life.

How did I get so lucky?