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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

Every morning I decide what's going to be served for dinner that day. I don't like to have too much food on hand and I make trips to the store every other day. Maura can't understand why I don't just fill the freezer and be done for the week. Sorry love, old habits die hard. Today had to be a chicken day, and being tired of the same old pasta tricks I looked up one of my handy phone apps and found a recipe for Thai coconut chicken soup. This meal has only a few ingredients and wasn't too expensive either. Coconut milk is $1.50 per can and is the heart of the meal. It was easy to make and how I usually gauge how good homemade food tastes is as if it had been purchased from a restaurant. Well for this meal, I would have been very happy to pay for at my local Thai kitchen. Here's the recipe courtesy of Mark Bittman.

4 cups coconut milk, (2 cans)
1 cup chicken stock
1 pound chicken breast cut into strips
3 stalks lemongrass (Bristol Farms)
10 thin slices fresh ginger
2 minced fresh chile's if you like it hot
1 cup sliced mushrooms
3 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper
chopped cilantro to garnish.

Combine milk and stock and bring to a boil, add chicken and cook for 10 Min's. Take out chicken and keep aside. Add smashed lemongrass, ginger and chile's to milk and simmer for 15 Min's. Remove these 3 last ingredients and add chicken back to milk. Add mushrooms and simmer for another 5 Min's. Turn off heat and add fish sauce, lime juice and sugar. Season with salt and pepper, adjust taste with more lime or fish sauce and spoon into bowls. Garnish with fresh cilantro. I chose to add some rice on the side.

The main ingredients.

The milk being infused by the lemongrass and ginger.

Finally, ready to be eaten. I omitted the whole chilies in the main dish as I'm the only one in the family with a taste for hot spice. I just added dried chili flakes to my own plate and it worked out well.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Beef and Guinness Stew

The meat which cooked for two hours.

Plenty of garlic.

I didn't quite use all of the beer but guess where the rest went?

Half way through cooking, garlic added then lots of beef stock, sausages, mushrooms and Guinness made the final casserole deep in color and rich tasting.

These cookies should have been for the camping trip but sadly they never made it.

Big Bear

It was long overdue for a camping trip so when this one eventually came around, I was more than ready. We went to Hanna Flat camp ground located just outside Fawnskin, across the lake from Big Bear. Accompanied by two other families it was the perfect three day play date for the kids. Three years ago wildfire had devastated this area but luckily the campsite was rebuilt and
is now looking great. We rented a boat and cruised around Big Bear lake which was fun and not that expensive. Lots of good food,wine and of course a few too many smores made for a good weekend!

Captain G and First Officer Miranda.

Even Quinn enjoyed getting his water legs.

Story time.

The Three Stoogies.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bizzy days

So today started with a visit to the dentist. All went very well and we learned that two front teeth will be leaving us soon.
Going to the dentist can go either way. It could be a battle to get there with lots of tears, screaming, throwing stuff around and that's just me, you don't even want to know how stubborn Miranda can be. Or it could be a really pleasant drive with no complications and lots of questions about teeth and gums and sugar bugs. Not until the examination is over, can you cease walking on the egg shells. It does help though to pull that ace from your pocket and throw in the "reward" word which I only like to use for times like these where any upset could be like a giant Japanese firework going off in the back seat. I had been promising to take Miranda to build her own bear at the conveniently named store and this became the reward for being excellent in the chair. If you choose to take this advice and use the reward scheme, tread lightly using it only a few times in a year as it may come back to haunt you.

Miranda helping build "Katie" which she named after the employee shown here.
Almost all stuffed, and doesn't Quinn have a lovely crown?

The finished bear. "Katie" is on her way home.

Katie is not impressed with Mr Vader.

Afterwards we planted some new herbs.

I even had Miranda help me rack my wine. Don't worry "pew" was her only thoughts on this stuff.
Quinn has recently been promoted from bouncy seat to high chair at the dinner table. You can see his happiness at this family decision, right? This is a huge novelty for Miranda to have her brother sit right beside her, did I say right beside her? I actually meant righhhhhttt beside her. Seriously she wont leave the little guy alone and takes forever to eat her own dinner. I'm not complaining, shes an excellent panda manager.

Finally, I was given some styling instruction from her majesty and this is what I created. I based it on a Jennifer Anniston look and I think I pulled it off. It also reminded me of my time in the eighties when I had my fringe hiding one eye, yip the apple doesn't fall far from the tree....
Have a nice weekend!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010


A good end to a good day.

Riding on Chris's lap.

A Tyranna..... I forget.

She made it look so easy.

Miranda listening to Coach Johnny.

Touching a sea cucumber, which felt just like jello.

A great white jaw bone.

All alone, it felt like we were vip's.

The week began with a trip to the aquarium. It opens at 9.00am and it definitely pays to be early as we had free run of the exhibits until around 11.00am. After this it becomes full of school kids on field trips and your chances of seeing any fish up close decrease dramatically. Take a picnic and lie on the grass by the lighthouse, feed the birds and watch the sailboats.

Miranda's first T Ball class has started and she seems to really like it. I was so proud of her holding her own in a class full of boys. This class was learning to run the bases.
Tuesday saw us taking a trip to the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History in Exposition Park. I fought my way through the millions of kids on field trips and made it to the front desk getting my nine dollars ready and expressing my happiness to the clerk that Miranda and Quinn were free. Little did I know every first Tuesday of the month the museum is free for everyone, donations are gladly accepted though. So that was why it was as busy as LAX. Afterwards we also spent some time in the California Science Center. Again a picnic is best unless you fancy some MacDonald's from the Science Center.
There are some good deals at the Orange County Fair and after purchasing our unlimited rides wristband for $25 Miranda set off with her friend Sky and her mom, Chris to maximise their fun. I tagged along with Quinn. Chris was a lifesaver as Miranda would never have had the chance to enjoy herself as much as she did if it was just the three of us. The fair opens at noon, Wednesday through Sunday and parking is $7, cash only. Check their website for daily deals.
August 7Th was my ten year anniversary being in the United States, so after swimming in Grandmas pool we went for dinner at a small seafood restaurant in San Marino. I found this place using a really cool Yelp application from my iPhone. It has never failed us any time we have needed to find a restaurant. The place was called The San Marino Seafood Market and I recommend it to anyone who may be in that area. The fish was fresh and the service and location was amazing which can be hard to find these days.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sunday Funday

I remember going to the circus with my dad when I was a kid and having a great time. Now years later, going to the circus can open a whole can of controversial worms regarding the treatment of the animals which perform in the show. I did think about this before buying the tickets but went ahead and pressed the purchase button anyway. I really didn't think much about it before or during the performance but became well aware of it afterwards on our way back to our car. Protesters had positioned themselves outside of the Honda Center in Anaheim and a few of them were exhibiting their right of free speech. I was approached by a girl who asked me if I would like a brochure on the treatment of circus animals. I politely refused and she said thank you and wished me a good day. Now I can respect her opinion and it almost sounded like she respected mine, shouldn't this be the way we honor each others beliefs and opinions instead of being bullied into someone else's life choices? I experienced the exact opposite after crossing the street where my ears were subject to some mindless verbally abusive screaming from another protester in front of my family and putting a perplexed look upon Miranda's face, who later asked "why was that lady shouting at us?" I have zero respect for that kind of protester who, in my mind is accomplishing nothing towards her cause. We all choose different things in life and have our own opinions. I'm tired of that guilty feeling when leaving grocery stores and being bombarded by kids asking me if I want to save the ocean or support women's rights. Don't get me wrong, the foundations for which they are fronting are extremely worthy causes, but their are better ways to build solid public support.

I realise that not everyone may agree with me, I can respect that but this is my blog about my life as a dad which is why I am writing about it and posting a few pictures. I would not be true to myself if I only wrote about the noncontroversial things in life. I did enjoy the show and it did bring back memories of when I seen my first circus show with my own father who was just trying to give me a happy day. Little did he know that I would duplicate that day with my children. I hope I was as successful as him.