Friday, June 29, 2007

Circus Freaks

We had a great time at the circus last night. Our favorite part was definitely the elephant ride! This was Franny's first visit to the circus and she did okay considering it was late for her. She really liked the beginning thanks in large part to Jill and her generosity when she purchased Franny her beloved "blue" (that's what she calls this light-up toy.) She really started to flip out at the end, but it was still a great experience.

Left: Franny before she had the blue; Right: Franny after she got the blue. (Thanks Jill!)

I almost forgot to mention something crazy that happened. When Franny starts to get upset, sometimes she'll just throw whatever she has in her hand on the ground. I had to retrieve her sippie cup at least three times. Well, towards the end of the evening, when she was getting close to hitting her limit, she threw her "blue" and it fell on the ground underneath the bleachers we were sitting on. Jill kindly went to go and find it for me and a circus employee offered to go underneath and retrieve the "blue." Emerging from beneath the bleachers successful with the toy in his hand, he asked Jill, "are these your keys, too?" They were her keys. She didn't even know she was missing them! Well, I soon realized later that I shouldn't have given Franny the toy back, because right after I did she chucked the blue five rows ahead of us and hit a woman in the head! Sorry lady!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Shrimp Pad Thai

Our last cooking club for this year was last night at Erin's house and we had such a good time! The theme was erotic ingredients, and we had some pretty crazy stuff there! Just kidding! The theme was exotic ingredients. The food was great! My exotic ingredient was fish sauce. It's been in my cupboard for a long time and I finally decided to use it. Fish sauce smells like feet.

I made Shrimp Pad Thai and it was pretty good. It comes from my Everyday Food cookbook, so it's like Thai Food for Dummies, but it was pretty decent. Another unusual ingredient for me in this dish was rice stick noodles. That was the first time I had ever used those as well. Bobby feels strongly that Asian food is best eaten in Asian restaurants and I'm going to have to agree that Thai, Chinese, and Japanese cuisines taste better when it's prepared by the pro's. It was fun to give it a shot though, since I can't get Thai food anywhere around here.

Cleaning house

Bobby and I have yet to have our own garage sale, but last year we participated in one for the first time and we got rid of all of our VHS movies, some clothes, and a lot of children's books that we didn't need. This Saturday we are participating in our neighbor's garage sale and I am parting with some old treasures, and although they haven't had any use in at least five years, I am still finding it a little difficult to let them go, so I thought what better place to preserve their memory than on my beloved blog.

First, our rollerskates. Bobby and I roller-skated together every Monday night when we first met. At Ricks, Monday night was skating night and it was free for us because we had our own roller skates that we carried in vintage bowling bags. (It was a whopping $1 if you had to rent skates.) We were both pretty good at it- especially Bobby. He could do jumps, skate backwards...

From left to right: Bobby and I in our skates; Bobby's sister Molly, me, and our wonderful friend Janelle; and Janelle and our old friend Trevor on the floor.

When we were done rollerskating at about 11:00 pm, we would head to everyone's favorite Rexburg spot in those days- the famous Craig-O's for chees-y-gooey-oh-so-delicious breadsticks, pizza bombs, and Oreo shakes. (When I think of Craig-O's, I always think of Bobby ordering his food. "Can I get a pizza bomb with pepperoni and an Oreo shake, and can you not charge me for the shake?" I was shocked at his boldness and then even more shocked when they would just give it to him! I also think of the time I stole a half-eaten pizza that I thought had been abandoned, and suffering from excruciating and painful embarassment immediately after when it's owner called out in surprise, "Hey, that's my pizza!" But most of you have heard that story. Someday I'm going to write an entire blog entry about my top 10 most embarrassing moments. I have some good ones and luckily, I don't have a problem laughing at my own foibles.)

So all of these wonderful memories are tied up in these roller-skates. I'm sorry to see them go but can't justify keeping them anymore. Thanks for all the good times, roller-skates!

And then of course there is the backpack I picked up in Poland. I did study-abroad in 1999, and when I got there I saw a lot of people wearing these cool backpacks. I knew there were on their way to the US, so I started keeping an eye out for them so I could come back looking super chic with my new stylish backpack! You know, I never saw one when I got back, but I wore it for a couple years anyway. America just wasn't ready. Goodbye backpack.

Last but not least, goodbye old school NES. Thanks for all the great hours of Dr. Mario, Paperboy, and T&C Surf, as well as Super Mario Bros. 1 and 3 (Super Mario Bros. 2, you were just okay.) Zelda, you haven't seen the last of me. I promise you this: someday I will defeat you!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Waterproof Remote Control?

Lately we cannot find the remote control to our DVD player. It's driving us both crazy. We keep buying universal remotes, and they were for a month or so, but then they inexplicably cease to operate the DVD player. The universal remotes have never worked on our VCR, so we are forced to keep tabs on three remotes! I was blaming the baby for the last two days because I know she loves to play with it- I thought maybe it was hidden somewhere in the baby toys. Turns out I was pointing my finger in the wrong direction...

I've made an observation about myself that I'd like to share with you now. Granted, I have never been a perfectionist, but I feel like I used pay attention to the details and take the extra time to do a job right. I feel like with age and the addition of two children to this family, there is sloppiness where there used to be precision in household chores. I used to deal with all stain-fighting challenges head on, as soon as they came my way, and now I'm lucky if I remember to squirt them with Spray 'n Wash and leave them in a pile in front of the washing machine. [Sigh], last night I called to Bobby, "I found the DVD remote." It was in the washing machine. Sunday after dinner I grabbed the tablecloth after Franny spilled on it and wrapped the dirty bibs and wet washcloths used for wiping messy hands from the meals that day and carried the whole mess to the washing machine. I said to Bobby, "There's no way it still works, right?" I mean, the batteries were outside of the remote at the bottom of the washing machine. I couldn't imagine that any remote control could survive all that churning and rinsing, not to mention the Clorox 2! Bobby said we should give it a shot, so I handed him the so fresh and so clean remote along with the batteries and we were both shocked to find out that it worked! We were grateful for this little miracle until this morning when it didn't work anymore. Boo.

As for my sloppiness, I am slightly anxious to see what the future holds with more children. Oh yeah, another example of sloppiness (or maybe the word is absent-mindedness] - three times in a row I forgot about doctor's appoinments I made for my kids. I haven't been back. I'm too embarrassed to show my face. How does someone forget THREE TIMES IN A ROW?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Watermelon Bombe

This picture is not a great one. I even considered not posting about this at all, but I really simplified it this time and I thought you might like to hear about it. When Betsy and I made this together three years ago, we used haagen-daaz pistachio, vanilla ice cream (store-bought) and I made a watermelon sorbet that the recipe calls for- that looked realistic, but didn't taste great. Also I mixed in chopped chocolate wafer cookies to look like the seeds. We had to mix green food coloring into the pistachio because it was all natural and white (same problem as with Breyer's Mint Chocolate Chip.) This time Ashley picked up Blue Bunny pistachio almond. Already green, so that saved a step. Instead of the watermelon sorbet, we did a raspberry sherbet filling and this time I mixed it with mini-chocolate chips, which tasted a lot better than soggy chocolate cookie bits. It was easy and the presentation is so cool. I really like this dessert. Sorry about the crappy picture though! You can barely see the inside!

Here's some cute video of Franny from yesterday:

Friday, June 22, 2007

Sophie's first swing

Al Fresco

I mentioned the other day that I came up with a new salad dressing recipe, but I wanted to wait to tell you about it until I could take a picture. I am proud to present to you Ranch Dressing with Avocado and Lemon... or Avocado Lemon Ranch- whichever you prefer.

I usually use a buttermilk ranch dressing mix and follow the directions, and then I just mash up an avocado and mix in some lemon juice and add that. I bought a ranch dressing mix, but somehow it didn't make it home with us from the store yesterday. Luckily I found a recipe for ranch dressing made from scratch and just added the avocado to that.

Avocado Lemon Ranch

1 c buttermilk
1 1/4 c mayo
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp parsley
1/2 T minced onions
1/4 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp salt
juice of half of lemon
1 avocado, mashed

Mix the first eight ingredients together, then add avocado mixed with lemon juice.

Erin's chicken and spinach stuffed shells and homemade oreos. Erin made these for us after Sophie was born and I've been dying to have them again ever since.

Those rhymes they were kicking were quite


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Another great weekend in P-burg

This is my father-in-law's house. The kids love the "moonbounce."

There was a family reunion this weekend in Pittsburg that we didn't want to miss, so we made the 5 hour drive to Kansas for the second time this month. We stopped in Louisburg and spent the night at Wes and Jen's place and made them dinner to say thank you for all the fabulous picture-taking she's been doing for our family. I don't know what I was thinking, but I have dreamed of having Jen take pictures of my food and I was right there and neither of us even thought of it. I made Erin's Pesto Pizza, a garden salad with a new salad dressing I concocted (which I will reveal once I can make it again and take a picture) and Natalie's chocolate caramel browies a la mode.

The next morning we drove the rest of the way to Pittsburg and spent the day playing with cousins, eating snow cones, and helping make preparations for the party. (Okay, the "we" is generous on that last bit- Bobby helped all afternoon while Franny watched Shrek and Sophie and I napped.)
Barbie, Raspberry Colada with Cream, Vanilla Voodoo with Cream

Saturday was the big party and a good time was had by all. Franny had a blast- she wore three different outfits that day because she kept getting them wet in the pond. Finally we wised up and let her just play naked. We played washers, sat around and visited, and my sister-in-law and I tried to figure out all the relative's names that we should know after being part of this family for nine and six years, respectively. (Bobby's dad is one of fifteen children.)

Aunt Molly took Franny on two paddle boat rides while we were there. Thanks Aunt Molly!
The only down side to the weekend was wet dogs everywhere.

I don't think anyone even asked these girls to hold hands. It was so sweet and so perfect because Bobby just happened to be walking behind them with the camera. These girls are so sweet.
From left to right: Nicole, Franny, Zoe

At the end of the day everyone was really tired. Except for me, I guess. Somebody had to take pictures of all the cute sleeping babies!

Peanut Butter Banana Cake - Franny's gluten-free life

Starting tomorrow Franny is going gluten and dairy-free again. I want to do what is best for my daughter and sincerely feel that she has these intolerances and biomedical intervention will help her get better. I am committed to helping her recover from autism and that means doing whatever I can, but can I just complain for a second? This diet sucks. No cheese, no bread, no crackers, no McDonald's, no convenience when fixing a meal. This diet simultaneously makes me feel like a mean mom for withholding foods that all children should be able to enjoy like pizza and ice cream, and a great mom for being willing to make such a huge sacrifice to help her. There, I feel better getting that off my chest.

For more info on the GFCF diet, click here.

Along with my usual recipes, this blog will now feature gluten and dairy free recipes as well- mostly geared towards children, as I hope to be able to help other moms of picky eaters who have to implement this impossible diet.

I actually liked this cake. Franny, however, did not. I cut the cake into pieces and froze them. Maybe she'll like it a little better once she forgets what cake tastes like when it's baked with real flour. Poor kid!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Family Reunion BBQ

I love big family potlucks in the summertime. Bobby's dad has a big barn filled with a lot of old cool junk he acquires from local estate and garage sales. There is so much to look at in that barn! It is the venue which hosts the annual Fields family reunion- which seems to somehow always fall on the hottest day of the year. Here's a picture of everyone in line for their food. The picture on the right is my brother-in-law Craig, one of Pittsburg's finest, grilling up some burgers, hot dogs, and brats. Once I took Franny to Pittsburg by myself for my niece Riley's baby blessing, and I was pulling into town driving WAY too fast and I got pulled over. I was devastated to be getting ANOTHER ticket as I had been caught speeding somewhere in Iowa only months before when I looked up to see Craig step out of the police car. I ran and gave him a hug since I knew he wouldn't ticket me. Phew!! I think I was going 50 in a 20.

Here are my contributions:

Fresh Pico de Gallo and Guacamole,

and snickerdoodles and Natalie's delicious chocolate caramel brownies.

Pico de Gallo
(These are all approximations since I don't really follow a recipe.)

4/5 large tomatoes, small-diced
1 small yellow onion, small-diced
1 small bunch of cilantro, minced
1/2 tsp minced fresh jalapeno
salt and pepper to taste
the juice of one large lime


4 large avocados
2 garlic cloves, minced
the juice of one or two lemons
8 dashes tabasco sauce
red onion, small-diced to taste
1 small tomato, small-diced
1 tsp kosher salt
pepper to taste

Gay Horse

I don't know if there is such a thing as a gay horse, but if there is, here's what one would look like:
The horse seemed kind of shy when I was taking the picture up close, so here is another one I got when he wasn't looking:

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

my adorable little niece
Originally uploaded by J.Fields
I've been really trying to hone in on my photography skills lately... Ha ha! Yeah right! My sister-in-law Jen is so talented and she took this. I love her work! If you look at Franny's eyes, you can see Jen and Bobby's reflection.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Saturday is a special day

On Saturday Bobby and I were outside testing our new double jogging stroller when we ran into our neighbor Tommy. His wife and daughter are out of town and so we asked him if he'd like to join us for dinner. He said he had tons of meat and offered to grill some up and we could combine forces! Score! I shamelessly suggested we have it in has backyard so that we could make good use of their playground. (They have the coolest backyard!) So this is what we were able to throw together without a trip to the store. I go grocery shopping WAY too much.

Fresh garlic croutons on a green salad with a creamy Italian vinaigrette

A special request from Bobby for Pilsbury Funfetti Cupcakes with Duncan Hines Strawberry Mist frosting. (I like how I can even make a cake mix sound sexy.) Aren't they pretty?

I think we were too excited to eat to remember to take a picture of the main course, which was grilled marinated pork with raspberry chipotle sauce. (The raspberry chipotle sauce is fabulous and can be purchased from Costco if you're lucky enough to live by one.)

Saturdays are always fun for me and the kids because I usually don't bother with housework and let everything go so we can just play and make the most of Franny's day at home. Tommy was lucky enough to see what happens to our house on Saturdays when he helped us in with the dishes. Yikes. I'm sure that will change as the kids get older and I need their help with Saturday chores, but for now I like this arrangement.

Pool pictures are my favorite. This is Sophie's first ride on our new floatie! She liked it a lot more than Franny did. I was trying to get a shot of Sophie and Abbey calling out their names (SOPHIE! ABBEY!) and Franny got in there and said to me: "FRANNY!!!" Apparently she was not to be left out.

Bobby and I noticed a big improvement in her speech on Saturday. When she'd had enough of the pool, she came up and very clearly said to me, "Let's go." She had been sort of acting like she wanted to leave, but I was holding her off because I was having fun chatting with my friends. But after she said that I was so impressed I said, "Yeah, let's go!!"

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Tomato, Pesto, and Mozzarella Panini

Okay, this is one of my better finds lately. We have been eating these quite often and this is the recipe I submitted for the June/July edition of the SAA newsletter, but I was excited to share it with you, so I sent it a little early. If you're part of SAA, consider it a little "sneak preview." I'm just joking around. Sort of. I'm fully aware that I take food a little too seriously.

I found this recipe in Barefoot Contessa at Home. If you don't have a panini grill, don't worry about it! We don't either and we love what our George Foreman does with it!

This is a great sandwich, but make sure you use good-quality ingredients. I like to use the fresh Italian peasant bread that Hyvee is selling now with fresh mozzarella (also can be found at Hyvee).

2 large ripe beefsteak tomatoes
1 (16-oz) ball fresh mozzarella
12 slices bakery white bread, sliced 1/2-inch thick
about 1 cup prepared pesto
kosher salt
butter, at room temperature

Preheat a panini grill machine.
Core the tomatoes and slice the tomatoes and mozzarella 1/4-inch thick.
Place the bread slices on a work surface. Spread each slice evely with pesto. Place a layer of mozzarella (about 2 slices) on half of the bread and cover with a layer of tomato. Sprinkle the tomato with salt. Place the remaining slices of bread, pesto side down, on top. Spread the top and bottom of each sandwich with softened butter. Grill the sandwiches in batches on the panini grill for 2-3 minutes, until the mozzarella starts to ooze. Cut each sandwich in half, and serve warm.

On a side note, I was grocery shopping late last night and was thrilled to learn that after the construction is complete on the only grocery store we have in town besides Walmart, the store will be expanding and will include a health food section! There's some more stuff they're adding- I can't remember what, but more space will surely mean more products and more ingredients that I can find! Hooray!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Me and Bobby McGhee

Today Bobby and I celebrate our 6th anniversary! I thought it would be fun to write about how we met. I'm sure I have it written in a journal somewhere, but it will be nice to write it again from this perspective after being married for six years.

It was probably sometime in April 1997, and Bobby was my second cousin Aaron's roommate. My roommates, Janelle and Manna, went by Aaron's to pay him a visit. He was on his way out with some friends and Bobby was one of them. I remember noticing how goodlooking he was, but there was no time for introductions. Then after Spring semester ended and my cousin Aaron had left, we were at this dance club in town called The Underground (hee hee), and we saw Bobby and his roommates there. Again, we never spoke but I remember thinking how cute he was and how a guy that cool would never go out with a girl like me.

This may be my favorite picture of the two of us. It was taken by my roommate one morning when Bobby came over early and we spent several hours talking. I already knew I liked him, but it was the first time I thought, "hey, this guy might actually like me." Janelle took the picture really casually like it was no big deal, but really she was being a good friend because she knew how much I liked him and knew I would want a picture with him. If you look at the bottom of the picture, you can see he has his hand on my arm. :)

Well, the night we actually met came a few weeks after the Underground. We met at a Rick's college dance. His sister knew my roommates so we all started hanging out and dancing together. Before the dance, my roommates and I had filled water balloons with water and we were planning on hiding in the bushes and throwing them at people coming out of the dance. We asked Bobby and his friends to join us. And in case you're wondering, no, I am not at all ashamed on what we did. It was a lot of fun and we were only 18!! I think you can get away with a lot of stuff when you're 18 and still be considered a good person. :) On the way home from the dance, we were all walking together. At that time I was walking a lot for exercise, so I was really fast. I was up ahead of the group and my roommate Manna was explaining to Bobby that I had tripped over a 2 x 4 that was raised about 1 ft. above the ground for some construction they were doing in that area. Right as she was telling Bobby this story, I tripped over the SAME 2 x 4. Bobby thought that was hilarious. After that, we all hung out together a lot. There was definitely an attraction there between the two of us from the beginning, but we took it very slow and were friends first and you pretty much know the rest of the story. (Or if you don't I'll tell you really fast that we dated for a year, he served a mission for two years, I waited, and then we got married seven months later.) Bobby was as cool and funny then as he is now, but he was also very sweet and genuine and kind, not conceited or cocky like a lot of the guys I'd known or dated before. Bobby of course had me rolling with his hilarious and witty sense of humor, just as he does now. I was always sort of awkward around guys I liked, but I remember being really impressed with myself when Bobby and I first met. I remember thinking to myself, "Nice job, Katherine- what you said was actually funny!!" Or he was just being really nice and laughing at my jokes because he liked me. Either way, we hit it off right from the beginning.

To celebrate our anniversary Bobby and I are going out on a date. We're eating at a very fancy nearby restaurant and then we're going to see Ocean's 13. I'm so excited to have all that time with Bobby to myself! The medical school gave Bobby a gift certificate to this restaurant when he started and we've been saving it all this time. As for the movie, I think we're going to love it. We liked the other two and we're not really all that picky. I saw an interview with Brad Pitt and he said, "It's not any worse than the other two." Janelle wrote a post about celebrity look-alikes the other day and it just occured to me that this is Bobby's look-alike:

So, yeah . . . I'm pretty lucky.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Almond Ice Cream Terrine with Bittersweet Chocolate Truffles and Raspberry Sauce

Oh yeah, baby. You know what I like. Long wordy recipe titles.

This was my first attempt at an ice cream terrine. I first became interested in terrines about 3 years ago, when I made my first ice cream bombe. I've been collecting recipes ever since, and I've been holding on to this one for quite a while. I think they are awesome! This one is especially cool because there are chocolate truffles hidden inside and when you slice it, they look like cool brown polka dots!

I was only a little disappointed with the ice cream recipe, however, only because it calls for a cup of coarsely chopped almonds when it should have been no more than 1/2 cup. There were just too many nuts. So I will make that adjustment some day when I feel like making it again. I think next time I might try a white chocolate terrine, maybe with some almonds (1/4 cup only) and the truffles and raspberry sauce OF COURSE!

Wading Pools!

The weather here in K-ville has been LAME. A few of the parks here in town have wading pools open in the afternoons for the young kids to play in. Franny really enjoys it as do I, because people like Jayne are there to hang out and chat with while the kids are in the pool. Well, the pools have been open since Memorial Day, but we've only gone once because of the weather. It was an interesting afternoon! I'll spare you the swim diaper story, but I'll share another story about our up and coming social butterfly Franny. There are some public restrooms near the pool and I saw Franny run off past them and around the corner. I thought I better follow so Sophie and I quickly walked to catch up to her. As I am telling you this story, I am sitting here deeply regretting that I did not run to get to her, so I could have spared both Franny and I from what happened next. There were three boys and a girl who were, let's see... what's a nice way of saying white trash? The grass where the kids were standing was flooded and there were large puddles everywhere- Franny loves to splash around in puddles. They were standing around one larger puddle and giggling in a suspicious way. I don't know for sure, but I can only guess by some comments that were made that the boys were practicing their "aim." I could be wrong, it all happened so fast, but then the boys ran off and Franny followed, right after stomping her bare foot right in the afore-mentioned pee puddle! Oh Franny.... One more dip in the over-chlorinated pool and we headed home for the bath tub.


It doesn't look like it, but the title of this post is actually a quote from The Office. I found this recipe idea for a yummy and easy ice cream sundae in my Everyday Food cookbook. I was excited to make them mostly because I thought the green ice cream looked so pretty. I went to the store and picked up a carton of Breyer's Mint Chocolate Chip. I love how the soft store-bought ice cream gets on the way home from the store, so I ALWAYS open the carton and have a spoonful before moving it to the freezer. I was disappointed because Breyer's Mint Chocolate Chip isn't green- it's white!

Stupid all-natural Breyers without any artificial colors or preservatives.

We served these with oreos instead of chocolate wafers. I thought the chocolate sauce was decent, but not fantastic. Certainly very easy.

Chocolate Sauce:

1/4 cup light corn syrup
6 oz. semisweet chocolate, broken or cut into small pieces
3/4 cup heavy cream

In a small saucepan, combine the corn syrup and chocolate. Stir over medium-low heat until smooth, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Whisk in the heavy cream until smooth. Serve right away, or let cool to room temperature before transferring to an airtight container.
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