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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Raw Innocence.

We had been given prior warning from a friend that Miranda's teacher was very big on parent class participation. So it came as no surprise to find myself in front of 22 wide eyed, toothy cute kids this morning. My job was to teach the kids how to make an apple crisp as Wednesday is bake day and this is apple week. "First thing we do is sanitize" explained Mrs Barnett, "I want to see surgeon's arms in the air". I took my spot at the semi circle table and proceeded to layout my ingredients, I looked up and all the kids were staring at me with their arms raised like a surgeon ready to perform a triple bypass, they were not allowed to drop these arms or touch any classmates for fear of contamination.
Back to my ingredients from the Betty Crocker box mix provided for me,

1 bag of crumb mix-check.
1 can of apples-check.
1 bottle of water-check.

Yes, that is all it takes to make these kids Oooo and Ahhhh endlessly. First I hit them up with some apple facts. After all this still had to be educational, right? Their little imaginations were running amok and everyone did their best to stay with the subject of the day though I did hear how one girl had a chipped nail and how an other's mom stirred way faster than me, the quote of the day for me though came when another teacher helper came into the class and Mrs Barnett asked the class to thank Mrs Chee Chee for dropping of some popsicles, "That's my dog's name" cried one little girl innocently speaking of the lady's unique name. Ten of the kids had been given front row baker's seats for providing outstanding behaviour that morning, the other twelve had to make do with standing and looking over their shoulders missing out on a chance to help stir with the golden spatula. It pays to be good. Twenty minutes later the apple crisp was done and ready for the oven. It was a whole lot of fun and I go back in tomorrow for some more apple trivia.

I remember when we received our mommy meals when Quinn was born. This was the greatest thing ever, no cooking for weeks and hot food being delivered free to your house, score!! All the meals were fantastic and greatly appreciated. One meal did introduce me to something new though and it was a raw meal made by the amazingly talented Laura Gallagher . I really enjoyed the dinner and swore I had to eat more raw food. This is harder than it sounds though because to buy it from the store costs an arm and a leg and to make the majority of the recipes one needs a dehydrator, which can also cost the same arm and leg. Today I was determined to find some non-dehydrator recipe and after subscribing to another blog I was on my way to creating tonight's dinner. I was impressed by the flavors and even more impressed by Miranda asking for seconds of the spinach soup and telling me "Man this is good" when she tried the lemon bar.

The blog has lots of easy recipes and I cant wait to try another, food tastes completely different when eaten in this form, Thanks Laura this one's for you!

Cream Of Spinach Soup
½ head spinach leaves, washed
½ cucumber, peeled
1 tomato, in wedges
¼ cup water
1 avocado
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons nama shoyu or soy sauce
½ teaspoon sea salt
dash cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil

Blend all ingredients until smooth

Lemon Bars
1 cup almonds
1 1/2 cups pitted dates (Medjool, khadrawhi, or other semi-soft date)
Seeds of 1 vanilla bean
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup dried shredded coconut
In your food processor, chop almonds into small pieces. Use some of this nut powder to “flour” the bottom of a 9 inch square baking pan.Add remaining ingredients and process some more until well mixed.Press into baking pan.To serve, chill for a couple hours until firm. Then cut into squares

From this.

To this.

To this.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Green, White and Gold

Every Tuesday I take Miranda to her Irish Dance class. She attends The Celtic Gold Academy, in Garden Grove. Miranda has been dancing there for almost a year now and the owner, Doireann O' Maoileidigh (pronounced Deeran O Ma lady), has been Irish dancing since she was also Miranda's age. Her father, Maitiu O' Maoileidigh, was responsible for founding the original school back in Dublin 50 years ago along with his associate teacher, who is now the choreographer for Lord of the Dance. The family name is well respected in the dancing world.
Anyway, Doireann has very strict rules stating that parents must wait in a front room so as not to distract the children. This is fine with me except that I'm always wondering how Miranda is doing and is she any good? These are the exact opposite rules from her last ballet class where hordes of googly-eyed moms and grandma's, and the odd dad or two (OK, one dad and it was me) would watch their kids through a window which looked onto the dance floor. Children would constantly be in and out of the room, thus making it hard for the teacher to keep the dancers focused.
It turns out I have nothing to worry about in regards to Miranda's Irish dancing. We have watched her at home and I think she is actually pretty good at it and I'm not just saying that as a proud dad, she really can do a great slip jig. This coming December she will be in a Christmas Feis (Fesh) which is a traditional Gaelic celebration and I know she'll do just great.
Having her in an Irish dance class is just another Celtic connection in my life. There are a few more such connections as the Scots are very close to the Irish, only being separated by 212 miles of the Irish Sea, a mere 45-minute plane trip. Being this close to such a beautiful place does have its benefits such as my birthday falling on the day before St Patrick's Day. This meant that almost every year myself and my boys would combine my day and Patrick's special day and make it last for a week. Ahh, the memories. Here is where another Celtic connection comes upon me. Whilst celebrating one night in the place known as Templebar, an area of Dublin which is solely bars and restaurants I stumbled upon my future wife. Kisses, numbers and addresses were all swapped and here I am, eleven years later in California. It's interesting to note that as our two worlds collided we were watching a group of Irish dancers perform on stage....

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Tonight was a great night with friends. Kids playing and having fun, good food, wine and beer under a beautiful southern Californian sky. Maura took Miranda and Quinn to Grandma's today eventually ending up at a Greek festival where Miranda feasted on Octopus tentacles of all things. I stayed at home preparing dinner and dealing with some errands.
I cooked up some ribs with skillet corn bread. I added ears of corn basted with thyme butter and baked beans. To top it all off I made a chocolate ginger pudding pie, recipe courtesy of Arti's Party of the Food Network.
Some people might think my blog is slowly falling towards being a food blog. I can see why but it's still going to remain a family blog, an output for me to document what I get up to in a world where my bosses are MM&Q. The fact is I like to cook and now I have a little more time to plan what I get to cook makes it more enjoyable, a hobby maybe. Eating food is something the whole world has in common, wherever you travel or visit you know food is always going to be in your mind.

Eat, drink and eat a little more..........

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

school days

Miranda has really taken to kindergarten. I'm really pleased as it hasn't been the easiest couple of weeks for a 5 year old. She started her new insulin pump regime, had to go to numerous doctor appointments and started school all at the same time. One thing I really like is being able to walk to school and luckily she is just as motivated to walk rather than drive.
All I have to do now is switch to the jog stroller and trade the flip flops for some sneakers......

Homework time

Monday, September 13, 2010

Brownie Olympian

Working for Whole Foods Market always brought plenty of samples from vendors eager to get their product on the shelf. So when I was given a Cabernet brownie I thought this was the best idea I had seen in a while. My favorite wine inside a brownie, what could possibly be wrong with that? Well it was more of a cake consistency and I like my brownies more fudgy but the idea stayed in my head. Today I looked at the bottle of wine on my kitchen counter top and thought to myself there wasn't much left from last nights dinner, but wait, what about if I use it for the brownies. A quick google and I came upon a recipe courtesy of Cookie Madness. Remember I like my brownies on the fudgy side so I tweaked the recipe a little and I have to say I like them. They are soft yet easy to cut and I like the fact I can taste some wine in the mix, but not overpowering. These would be great with a red wine tasting.
A note about the wine, It was a gift from my brother in law, Ace and his wife Lindsay. They just got back from a honeymoon on the Spanish Island of Menorca. Thanks guys it went great with dinner and helped make these brownies. Now to search the booze cabinet for my next creation!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dinner time...

I decided to go ahead and make something a little special for tonight's dinner. I like to think of Sunday as the day of the week where a little extra time is spent in the kitchen. Growing up I would watch my mum preparing a Sunday roast or ham and it would be the only time we would try to sit around a table and eat at the same time. The rest of the week didn't quite work out like that.
I was inspired to dig out my Bouchon cookbook due to Maura being invited to her friend, Kimberly Ohlson's birthday party last night. Whats the connection you ask? Well Kim's husband Ken just so happened to be a high school friend of Jeff Cerciello, executive chef for Thomas Keller owner of the famed French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley. Jeff and another friend are about to open a new restaurant in Beverley Hills called, The Farmshop. Ken somehow struck up a deal to have Jeff and his friend cook a private dinner for some of Kim's closest friends at his home in Malibu and try some of the menu items to be served at the future Beverley Hills Farmshop. Well the limousine came and picked up my exquisitely dressed wife last night and I watched them drive into the sunset...that's right I was on babysitting duty with Miranda and Quinn. Now I'm not trying to sound bitter as I would have LOVED to be going for this kind of special treatment, but I had a great night eating dinner in front of the television and watching Dr Dolittle with Miranda.
So to cut a long story short I was given this cookbook, written by Thomas and Jeff as a gift from Kimberly and Ken and have never used it to its full potential until today. Next time I wont let it gather so much dust.

We started with Mussels and braised leeks

I turned these into a ragout of shitake, oyster and cremini mushrooms

A simple roasted chicken with some chicken au jus and thyme
Cauliflower gratin
The finished plate
Sour cherry tart and vanilla bean ice cream, not from the book and not made by me, I'm fast but not that fast...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Catching up

Wow, has it really been that long since my last post? It has been a very hectic couple of weeks mainly due to Miranda starting kindergarten this week and also going live with her new insulin pump. This cell phone-like device will hopefully make her syringe poking days be distant memories and give her more freedom to eat, play and live like a true five year old should. Many thanks and credit to Maura for pulling the mountain of school paperwork together which includes additional doctors orders for the school nurse. Not an easy task being as busy as she always is. Hang in there babe I'm working on date night for us!
I have posted some pictures of our last trip to Disneyland. Our annual passes had been blocked all summer and I wanted to get one last fun trip in before school started. We certainly managed that, Miranda and I arrived at Disneyland at lunchtime and left at 10pm. I never thought she could last that long, or me but she just kept going and it was the best trip we have had their in a long time.
Quinn just had his 6 month appointment and continues to grow like a little weed. He is becoming funnier everyday and him and big sister are having a blast together.

Life inside a watermelon

Quinn and his buddy, Annabelle

Ready to go

The Boss, Mrs Barnett

Miranda's mug shot
First day is so much easier when your best buddies from pre - school are also in the same class!