August 31, 2012

Fridays of Intestinal Fortitude:
Catering to the Team of Chaos

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. 

Yesterday, as I was making some chicken saag, Anjali asked if she could help.  I don't push cooking onto my kids, but when they show an interest, I let them do as much as they are able to do safely (e.g. Arun rolls out his own cookie dough but I deal with the oven part.)  Anjali was more than willing to help with the chicken saag because it is one her favorite dishes.   Because of a kid like her, I could boast all day about my stellar parenting skillz.  Except I know that it was just the luck of the draw.  However, where Anjali is fierce when it comes to her food choices, conversely, Arun is picky.  Certainly, he is the one who keeps me honest and my humility safely intact.

We cater to our kids when it comes to food.  And I am unapologetic.  Yes, at every chance, we poke and prod them to try new things.  But we do not threaten or play games.  If they refuse, end of story. After all, as an adult, I do not eat things I do not want to eat.  Over the years, I have seen a variety of fights at kitchen tables -- the threats, the trickery, solemn declarations of "No Dessert".

I simply refuse to engage in that.

Generally, I keep plenty of healthy(ish) alternatives in the house and the kids are allowed to forage at will (it is also why I try to keep junk food at a minimum.)  Also, they usually get to choose the lunch option.  But dinner?  Is for the adults.  I enjoy cooking and simply put, boiling water for macaroni and cheese simply does not allow me to get my culinary jones on.  Generally, if it is a chicken dish, Anjali will partake - even if it is spicy (actually, she can now handle the same heat as Manoj and I).  If it is fish, Arun will sniff around and Anjali will bow out.

Perhaps, in another family, Arun would not be the picky eater.  He likes some veggies, salad, anything fish or seafood, chicken, and steak.  He simply prefers his food to be more bland (he does love a good Persian barg kabob, though)  And yes, to the rest of my little family, that is "picky".  Anjali has always preferred things with stronger flavors and scents and often, meals result in a 3 vs 1 situation.

I like to think that as time goes on, Arun will become more adventurous.  In the meantime, I will continue to cook as I normally do, while offering him blander options.  I will not push my cooking onto him, but I will continue to offer it.

What say you, Gentle Reader?  Do you push your kids?  Do you fight the Good Fight when it comes to food battles at the table??  Dad Cooks Dinner discussed this recently and the comments got interesting.

August 28, 2012

And Then There Were None

I nearly titled this one "The Worst Back to School Post Written By the Worst Mommyblogger".  Team Chaos started school well over a week ago, but then Stuff Happened and then Shit Happened and I never got around to writing the Obligatory Post about school and the rest of that.

Yes, Arun trotted off to First Grade without a backward glance and Anjali skipped into Kindergarten. Although, at least I got to escort her to the classroom and hold her hand (Thank you, Baby Zeus.)

There are many, many advantages to birthing a Tag Team (formerly known as Two Under Two) but one of the distinct disadvantages is that one day, your house is a crazy mess of food, toys, crayons and clothes strewn in every corner and then the very  next day, you are alone listening to the lonely hum of your refrigerator.  When your kids are spaced further apart, you are gradually eased into your children leaving you.

When you have a Tag Team, there is little transition.

 Kid #1, Grade #1

 He and the sharks are gone all day now.  THE ENTIRE DAY.  Sniff.

 Kindergarten demands a Halloween shirt, apparently.

 Fortunately, Anju and her woodland creatures are only gone for the morning.

 We live a few blocks from school.  You would think that we would be walking every day.  You would also think that my kids could get out of bed in time to walk every day. However, Gentle Reader, you would be wrong.

I came home, poured myself some grapefruit juice in a hollow stem, drew a bubble bath and settled in prepared to read about the betrayal wrought by a privileged, immature Hollywood star.

However, the bath was too hot, the story was insipid and the house was far too quiet.

August 24, 2012

Fridays of Intestinal Fortitude:

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. 

Recently, I read an article on Slate, Ignore Your Oven Dial (You can’t control the temperature of your oven very well, so stop worrying about it.) that I wished I had read years ago.  I have written extensively over the years about How I Cannot Bake.  However! Gradually, I am getting better at it and that Slate article is a good reason why -- I simply needed to learn how to stop relying upon my oven timer and temperature gauge (within reason).  I have learned to use my peepers, my nose and a carefully placed finger or fork.  In short, I am learning how to observe the baking process. Over the past few years, I have been baking more and more -- sometimes,  I am even pulling things out of my oven which are actually edible (Hell's Bells, I now make Romanian Kifli every year for Christmas.  Oh my, how the times have changed.)

The other day, my friend Katy gave me a recipe for pancake muffins.  I tried her recipe, but it never came out quite right for me.  Although, judging from how quickly each batch disappeared, they were obviously edible.  In fact, at one point, Arun hugged me and said "Mama, even though you are not a good baker, I like these muffins. "

Anyway, since Katy and I use different pancake mixes, I began to experiment with my mix.  And then, suddenly, I had a recipe.  A baking recipe. Well, not really a recipe since I nabbed the idea from a friend, then snatched the ingredient list  from Aunt Jemima.

Whatever, nitpicker.

Pancake Muffins

1 cup Politically Incorrect Aunt Jemima Original Pancake mix
1 egg
⅔ cup milk,
¼ to ½  cup syrup

1. Mix together, pour into greased muffin pan (or liners -- these things are pretty sticky.)

2. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees and serve!

Note: Yes, more syrup is delicious, but also stickier.  Guess which one Team Chaos prefers? Also, fruit, nuts and even bacon (BACON!) can be added for a higher Yum Factor.

August 10, 2012

Fridays of Intestinal Fortitude:
Getting Fresh

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. 

We have managed to wring as much fun as possible out of this last full week of summer! Turns out that playdates with special friends, Dinosaur Camp and the Leavenworth County fair are a great way to wrap up the season before the drudge of school starts. Still, I am going to miss our easy days and even more, I am going to miss my kids, so I was glad that we were able to relax a bit this week.

One of the best parts about the end of summer is the influx of fresh produce. Although I live deep in the heart of the soul-sucking suburbs, a local farm sets up a stand just down the road from me. Additionally, my friend Christy (yes, the same Christy of Bourbon Slushie and Kansas Beef fame) has had a bumper crop in her garden and more importantly, she watched her fair share of Sesame Street growing up and loves to share.  At one point, I was so inundated with tomatoes and cucumbers, I was running out of ideas until one evening, out of desperation, I chopped, diced and mixed myself into a salad of mouth-watering perfection and finished with   Trader's Joe salad dressing.  (I did experiment with Ranch dressing and have included an alternative for that.  I don't like recipes that are dependent upon an ingredient that might be hard to find if you do not happen to have a particular store in your area.)

This salad is alive with zest and texture.   I love how the arugula gives this salad a distinctive burst of flavor.  Although, if you don't like arugula, spinach would do just as nicely.  Also, chop the cukes however you like.  In this case, size actually does not matter. Sure, I prefer smaller pieces, but the food police are not going to show up if you use bigger pieces. And tomatoes?  I've used everything -- big, watery beefsteaks and small, halved cherry tomatoes (Bonus Points? Use a mix of tomatoes.)  And the Trader Joe's dressing?  Is to die for.  No really.  I have already started some reconnaissance on how to make a similar cilantro dressing from scratch and if I figure it out, trust me, I will share it with you, Gentle Reader.

After all, I grew up on Sesame Street, too.


Arugula, Cucumber, and Tomato Salad

2 cups chopped cucumber (any size!)
2 cups chopped tomatoes (any tomato!)
2 cups finely chopped arugula
3 tbs Trader Joe's Cilantro Dressing
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Mix ingredients and serve!

Not a fan of arugula?  Use spinach!  Don't have a Trader Joe's?  Use a Ranch dressing instead and omit the sugar and salt.

August 3, 2012

Fridays of Intestinal Fortitude:
Soul Food

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. 

Shortly after my son was born, I told my husband if it turned out that our son was gay, I would probably have to cut off a good portion of my family.  I was serious then and I still stand by those words.  Oh sure, I had always been a supporter of the LGBT community.   However, when I became a parent, I became an advocate with a clarity I had not possessed previously.  I finally understood that it is not only about LGBT rights, but rather, human rights.  Every member of the LGBT community is someone else's child and it was not enough for me to simply stand up for my own child's "potential" rights.  No worries.  I will not bore you (yet again) with details on my feelings regarding these issues, I have already written extensively about them in posts published here and here.

But this does bring me to the entire Chik-Fil-A "thing" and since it involves delicious chicken , I decided to place it here on Friday.   Yes.  As a family, we will no longer eat at Chik-Fil-A until they cease contributing to hate groups.  Yes, the CEO has the right to say what he wants on just about any topic he wants.  This is not about free speech.  This is about a restaurant that has explicitly stated they do not want a certain segment of the population in their restaurants.  And yes, that is EXACTLY what they have stated.  The restaurant contributes to hate groups which seek to disenfranchise the LGBT population and it is inarguable they would welcome this group into their restaurants.  Otherwise, how would that scenario work?  "Um, sorry about that money that went to murdering gay Africans, enjoy your chicken sandwich??" After all, if Chik-Fil-A contributed to the KKK, it would be doubtful they would welcome African-Americans in their restaurants.  Right?


I discussed this with my children in very simple terms -- Chik-Fil-A does not welcome people we care about into their restaurants and I mentioned names.  Both of my children agreed that we really should not give our money to people who do not welcome our friends.

And I think that's all I have to say about that.

I do want to end with a few links that truly resonated with me on this particular issue.

First and foremost, Zoot wrote two eloquent pieces on her opinions regarding this:
It's Not About Ethical Spending...It's About Embarrassment Spending
Why I Cried

Zoot's posts meant a lot to me -- this is a topic that we have discussed before, off-line, the whole "how do we decide where to draw the line on boycotts?"  After all, most companies are probably giving money to organizations and causes with which I do not agree.

And Owldolatrous Productions wrote this:
The Chick Fellatio: Stuck in the Craw

This is probably one of the best posts I have read on this.  Period. (Hat tip to my friend Kara for the link. Kara gives me hope for Christians and shows me constantly that not all religious people are small-minded folks.  Thank you, Kara.)

August 2, 2012

On the Road Again

My Pretend Lawyer Made Me Write This:  In exchange for mentioning the Head for the Cure 5k, my entry fee was waived, a value of $25.  All words and opinions expressed are my own.

Considering how rarely I do reviews/promos here on Rancid Raves, I would hope that it is very telling how much I believe in something if I am willing to offer up space on my blog for a mere $25. Indeed, a 5k run that seeks to raise money for a cause that fights brain cancer?  Yes, I will be there.

This will be my 8th 5k this year.  Yes, #8.  What happened?  Well, earlier this year, I decided to do at least one 5k a month, ending with the Waddell and Reed 5k in the fall.  I wish I could say that "Wow!  I am really loving this running thing! I cannot wait to train for a 10k/half-marathon/marathon"  but, alas, I am not.  I don't mind doing a 5k -- it is not misery but I do get bored with running by mile 3.  I keep signing up for runs because I do appreciate having the motivation for getting out and exercising.  However, I already know from vast experience in high school as a cross-country runner that I am not a long-distance runner.  In high school, I loved track, but I was crap at long-distance.  Still, doing a 5k is not the end of the world and it is good to have goals, right?  As such, my only goal this year is to run a 5k comfortably in 40 minutes and that is it.

Originally, I did not have a run lined up for August and thought I would skip that month, but then I received a request to help promote the 10th annual Head for the Cure on August 26th:
The Head for the Cure Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness and funding in the fight against brain cancer.

Dedicated to the memory of Chris Anthony, the flagship event — Head for the Cure 5K - Metro KC — has grown from a small 5K to one of the largest in the Kansas City area. In 2003, the inaugural event with about 300 participants raised approximately $10,000. In just eight short years, Head for the Cure 5K - Metro KC surpassed 4,000 registered participants and raised more than $300,000.
The run is at Corporate Woods, which is a bonus since that will surely be a nice course.  Register by August 6th and the entry fee is only $25! You can find more information on their Facebook page

If you sign up, let me know and we can organize a coffee klatch with Average Jane afterward!