Feeling Good In The Neighborhood

Friday, January 29, 2010

When you move to Seattle it's hard not to become a salmon snob. Before you know it, you find yourself in restaurants asking, "where is the salmon from?" and getting excited about copper river season. Our family eats salmon regularly at home and when we eat out. I love the taste of salmon so much that I don’t need a special preparation. Last year I did find a new favorite preparation: grilled with pistachio and arugula pesto. The peppery lettuce and rich pistachio is a perfect combo with salmon. Love it!

And then there’s the crab. Dungeness Crab is my absolute favorite with its nutty taste. Awsumb loves simple sweet snow crab. And Kenneth’s favorite is the monster of all crab’s, Alaskan King Crab. After you have real crab you can never have imitation crab again? What is imitation crab anyway? It’s just a white fish died with a bit of red to make it look like crab. What’s the point when it tastes NOTHING like the real thing?!

The other thing I never thought I would become snobby about is apples. We are so lucky to have access to so many varieties of apples grown right here in the state of Washington. When I go to the supermarket and see apples from New Zealand I turn my nose up at them and choose something else instead. And of course we all await the honeycrisp season to get a taste of those juicy, sweet - practically caramel apples! But the year-round favorite around this house are the Fuji’s.

Here are a couple of our favorite recipes

Chicken Curry
4 breasts of chicken, cubed
2 cups apples peeled and diced (Green apples are best in this recipe)
1/2 cup chopped onion, or one small onion
3 tbsp. flour
2 cups milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. curry powder ( to taste, I end up doubling it!)
black pepper to taste (at least 1/8 teaspoon)
1 tsp. sugar
1 -2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 -2 cups Frozen Green Beans, thawed

Brown chicken, set aside
In the same pan sauté apples and onions in 2 tbsp. butter, until soft. Add four, cook for a minute or two to develop the flavor of the flour, this is called a "roux". Add milk to thicken (bring to a boil, then turn heat back to low, stirring often). Add spices, chicken, and thawed green beans. (you may also use shrimp instead of chicken)
Serve over rice and Pita Bread. Serves 4 -6

Pork and Apple Stew

2 green apples, peeled and sliced
1 small onion diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
About 2 lbs. cubed pork
1/2 cup wine or chicken stock
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 pepper
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. dried sage

Cook about 7 hours on low

As always when cooking with a crockpot you will get better flavor from your meat if you brown it first. Coat the pork with a tsp. or so of flour before you put it in the crock pot.

Before serving use corn starch to thicken, and stir in about 1/3 cup whipping cream. SALT to taste.

I prefer to use this stuff called Thick N' Thin Non Starch Thickener- About 2 tbs. (instead of flower or corn starch). Although the cream does make is rich and delicious I have left it out and it is just fine. And used about 1 tsp. of kosher salt to season.

Serve with fresh steamed green beans and corn bread.

(When I make packaged cornbread I do a Rachael Ray trick and add 1 cup frozen corn and sometimes some pepper jack cheese, shredded and green onions to the mix.)

And after all that I think I need a carmel apple cider from Starbucks!
What are your favorite foods that are native to your area?

A Procrastinator’s New Year

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Now We Can Leave Last Year Behind!
Having a January birthday can be a procrastinators dream, come true. While others might have slipped up or even already given up on a New Year’s resolution I don’t even decide upon mine until my birthday. I have always considered January 20, which is my birthday, my own personal New Year.

I was thinking, "What’s better than a resolution, which you may or may not keep?" Answer: A prediction. But often predictions are really no more dependable than the weather forecast. If so where are our flying cars and the other amenities we drew pictures of and wrote about in 5th grade as our predictions about the year 2000?

And speaking of crazy predictions- Art Bell, a quirky late night talk radio host, who spent the long nights talking about aliens and conspiracy theories, had a prediction show each year in which he would let the unscreened callers state their predictions. He would then review these predictions during the next year while he took note of the new predictions. This show always included a few crazy “end of the world” scenarios, some personal predictions and a few funny ones.

Art Bell would have loved the spirit of the “This American Life” episode “2010” in which instead of resolutions or predictions that we really have no control over, the stories focused on real predictions, things that we know for sure will happen.

So this was going to be my, “real predictions of things that are actually – no kidding, going to happen this year, to me, to people I know, etc.” And to follow their format I was going include: "A death, a birth, a 2nd graders fate in school and the fate of the middle east.”

I decided to skip the morbid thought of death for now and move onto births. My brother and sister-in-law, Jeff and Mickie will have a new baby. Kenneth’s brother Eric and his wife will also be having another baby. As I begin typing this info I think will pity, “And we will NOT be having a baby this year.” And right then I was brought back to the year 2001.

January 2001, having exhausted the fertility treatments we were willing to try at the time we had decided to adopt a baby. We had begun working with an adoption agency and had chosen an orphanage in Russia. They kept telling us, “By the end of the year, you will have your baby.” I began repeating this phrase, to myself and others. “We are having a baby, by the end of the year we will have our baby.”

In the middle of January I lost my Grandma Awsumb and by February the adoption and a baby was the last thing on my mind while I flew back to spend time with my Auntie Laurel. I wanted to help her clean out Grandma’s house, but also to just be with her during such a sad time. My relationship with my grandparents had always been pretty formal and that week I was able to really get to know them while I cleaned out their home. My Grandpa and I made up our own silly games and inside jokess - as Laurel was the boss. As I found all the mementos she kept of us grandkids I could see how proud of us she was. And as I sorted through her personal items, I got to learn more about her relationship with my grandfather and see how much they had loved one another and their personal commitment to each other for over 60 years.

On February 28th Seattle experienced a 6.8 earthquake. Later that evening we went to dinner with a friend and his parents. The food made me so sick to look that that I lined up drinks and menus to keep me from viewing the meat, which lie naked on the plates mocking me. Bonnie asked her son, “Is Wendy pregnant?” Our friend Robert answered, “Don’t ask” knowing we had been trying to have a baby without success for years.

Of course a few weeks later we found out that by some miracle I was pregnant. And after a few scares at the beginning and end of the pregnancy we were blessed with our little miracle baby.

What was so funny about that year was that I didn’t make a resolution or a prediction. I made a statement. Do I dare make the same statement for 2010?

“We will have a baby by the end of the year.”

Maybe not yet, but from now on, no more resolutions or predictions, simply statements.

What’s your statement for the year 2010?

Common Sense Media

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Common Sense Media is a great resource for parents. This site review movies, games, etc. We have been using this as a reference for years. I love it because, instead of just listing "language or violence" this sight give specific info and descriptions about the language or violence in the movie. These reviews include comments from kids. They also rate how scarey or intense the movies might be. Check it out!