Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mofongo

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Because the cruise ship left from San Juan, Puerto Rico, our vacation started a day early. The party got started before we even set foot on the boat! We went to the beach that morning and the water was clear blue and warm. The Aanderuds flew in just about when we were ready to take a taxi over to the ship so we checked in and then headed back out to explore Old San Juan. We poked around in some shops, took lots of pictures, and hung out at El Morro, practicing our air guitar jumps and watching Capoeira dancers dressed in white show off their cool moves.






Some of my favorite Puerto Rico memories:
On the plane, Justin and Ash bust out two surgical masks. Smart move considering the recent outbreak of the swine flu, but Bobby and I laughed and pointed anyway.

We flew into P.R. the night before our cruise started, so we decided to save a little bit of cash and share a room with the Pace's. The room was very nice and very stylishly decorated. It was perfect except for the bathroom. The door into the bathroom was translucent, as was the shower! It was hilarious! Never before have I stayed in a hotel room with a bathroom that does not offer any privacy in the bathroom.

Air guitar at El Morro.

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I never did get to try Mofongo.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie

I am so happy to be done with dieting (for now) and back to baking decadent, indulgent desserts. I missed my butter and cream! This was AWESOME! It was a a big hit with Sunday dinner tonight.

My sister's sweet mother-in-law, Sheryl, sent me this amazing cookbook. Dorie Greenspan is a genius. You'll be seeing more from her book on this blog- I can promise you that. Thanks Sheryl!!

Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie
- makes 8 servings -

Ingredients

For the Filling
1 9-inch graham cracker crust, fully baked and cooled

1 cup sugar

Grated zest of 3 limes

4 large eggs, preferably at room temperature

3/4 cup fresh lime juice (from about 6 limes)

A 1-inch chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated

2 teaspoons cornstarch

2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces, at room temperature

For the Meringue
4 large egg whites, at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

Procedure
1. Have an instant-read thermometer, a strainer and a blender (first choice) or a food processor at hand. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.

2. Put the sugar and zest into a heatproof bowl that can be set over the pan of simmering water. Off the heat, rub the sugar and zest between your fingertips for few minutes, until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of lime is strong. Whisk the eggs, then whisk in the juice, ginger and cornstarch.

3. Set the bowl over the pan and start stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels tepid to the touch. Cook the lime cream until it reaches 180 degrees F. As whisk—you must whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling—you'll see that the cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as it gets closer to 180 degrees F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. Heads up at this point—the tracks mean the cream is almost ready. Don't stop whisking or checking the temperature, and have patience—depending on how much heat you're giving the cream, getting it to the temperature can take as long as 10 minutes.

4. As soon as it reaches 180 degrees F, remove the cream from the heat and strain the cream into the container of the blender (or food processor); discard the zest. Let it cool until it reaches 140 degrees F, about 10 minutes.

5. Turn the blender to high speed (or turn on the processor) and add the butter a few pieces at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed as you incorporate the butter. After all the butter is in, continue to blend the cream for another 3 minutes. If you find the machine is getting really hot, work in 1-minute intervals, giving the machine a little rest between beats.

6. Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface and refrigerate the cream for at least 4 hours, or overnight. (The cream can be packed airtight and and frozen for up to 2 months; thaw overnight in the refrigerator.)

To Finish the Pie with Meringue
1. Preheat the broiler.

2. Whisk the cream to loosen it and spoon it into the pie shell. Place the pie plate on a baking sheet.

3. Working in a clean dry mixer bowl with the clean whisk attachment, or in a large bowl 1ith a hand mixer, whip the egg whites at medium speed until opaque. With the mixer running, add the sugar in a slow stream and continue to beat until the whites are glossy and form firm peaks.

4. Spread the meringue over the lime filling, swirling it if you'd like. Make sure the meringue comes all the way to the edges of the crust, because it will shrink when it bakes.

5. Run the pie under the broiler until the meringue is golden and the tips are dark brown. (Or, if you've got a blowtorch, use it to brown the meringue.) Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool for about 15 minutes, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.

Graham Cracker Crust
- makes a 9-inch crust -

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs

3 tablespoons sugar

Pinch of salt

1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

Procedure
1. Butter a 9-inch pie plate.

2. Stir the crumbs, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour over the melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist. (I do this with my fingers.) Turn the ingredients into the pan and use your fingers to pay an even layer of crumbs over the bottom of the pan. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven. (The crust can be covered and frozen for up to 2 months.)

3. Center a rack in the over, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place the pan on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack.


Mmmmm.... rib-eye steaks for dinner. Rib-eyes could quite possibly be my new favorite cut of meat. We used Daddy Hinkel's southwest rub and sauce. (I'm pretty sure it's a favorite of the Codd family. Now it's a favorite of the Fields family, too.)

This is how we roll.



The pool opened for the summer yesterday and it felt so good to step back into the water and sit next to Jayne while our kids played on the frog slide. Then we came home, stripped the kids of their wet bathing suits and enjoyed a late dinner of bratwurst and Cheetos. I just love summertime.

If you look really close, you might spot Sophie's fake tattoo. I think it really completes the look I was going for in this picture.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I got my swim trunks and my flippie-floppies.

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Leaving St. Thomas

Life on a boat is pretty sweet. I could get used to it.

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Here's our boat. (I just typed that out as, "Here's our goat." I thought it was funny. I even considered leaving it.) Once as we approached the ship after one of our days at port, Bobby said, "It looks like a skyscraper laid down on it's side." See all those windows wrapping around the front of the boat at the very top? That's the gym. There's a long row of treadmills and elliptical machines lined up so you are looking out the front of the ship at the ocean while you jog. It was AWESOME. I haven't worked out once since I got home. There's just no coming back from something like that.

I absolutely loved having a window in our room. I paid $100 dollars extra so that we could have a window in our room, only to find out that I had purchased a room with a "fully obstructed view." What the what?! I was so mad at myself for wasting the money, but we totally lucked out. Our window was behind a lifeboat, but we were on the side of it, so our view was basically unobstructed as long as we stood slightly to the right when looking out the window. I love Bobby for humoring me when I asked to take this picture.

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Wait a minute, what's Justin doing out there? ;)

Our rooms were cleaned twice a day. The first night they left chocolate-covered strawberries for us, and every night after that we had chocolates on our pillows and a turn-down service.

The entertainment on the boat was good. Justin and I both volunteered to be hypnotized. It didn't work for me- I think the problem was I was over-thinking it. I was totally paranoid that I was going to wet my pants! And you all know my history of embarrassing moments, so my imagination was running wild with possible scenarios which might bring me and my family completely humiliation. So I didn't make the cut. Justin was AMAZING. So hilarious. I can't remember the last time I laughed that hard. There were a couple comedians on the ship that were definitely worth writing home about. The first guy had more of a self-deprecating kind of humor. He joked about marriage and having teenagers and getting old. I wouldn't want to be his wife or daughter, but he still made me laugh pretty hard. There were two jokes of his that I want to remember:

1.) He was talking about how his wife gets mad at him for stupid little things. The most ridiculous fight he's had with her was over an old friend of hers from high school that he ran into. His name was Merlin. When he came home and told her, she was angry with him because he couldn't remember Merlin's last name. So he said, "How many Merlins do you know, you wizard whore?" He said she did not like that.

2.) Then he was talking about how angry his wife gets at him for being such an embarrassment when they're out in public. He joked about hoping the paparazzi wouldn't find out that he had farted in the dollar store. (For the record, I hate that word. We don't say it in our house. Somehow I didn't think "boofed" would make the same impact.) It was so funny. I wish I could remember exactly how he put it.



The other comedian had a totally different style. He used a lot of magic tricks and he was really hyper and energetic and as a result extremely entertaining. At the end of the show, the cruise director came up to the stage to make some announcements and the comedian popped his head through the curtain and made some funny faces at her, then disappeared before she noticed. After she turned her head back around toward the audience, he popped his head out again, only this time from underneath the curtain so he could peek under her skirt! Of course that got a huge reaction from the audience and the cruise director caught him and freaked out! She was really embarrassed and couldn't stop laughing. If it was part of every one of his three shows that night, she's a pretty good actress. She said, "Maybe I should have worn trousers." Then the comedian popped out of the curtain a third time and said, "Maybe you should have worn panties" then made a gesture with his hand up near his hear and whispered "call me," a flourish he had perfected through the course of the performance. It was so funny.

We all sang karaoke. Paul was the only one who sang solo. And rightfully so, considering he probably has the best voice out of all of us. The three guys sang a Red Hot Chile Peppers song and after twenty minutes of discussion, we three girls settled on Joy to the World by Three Dog Night. We get up there to start singing and they start playing the traditional Christmas version of Joy to the World. Luckily we had a backup and ended up singing Oh-Bla-Di, Oh-Bla-Da.


The food. Oh, I think maybe the food deserves it's own post, so I'll come back to that later.

Another one of my favorite ways to pass the time on the boat was laying out on the lounge chairs near the pool in front of the giant movie screen. Our first and only day at sea, we all met outside in the morning, scouted out six chairs (which was quite the ordeal) so we could all hang out and watch Baby Mama. It's getting close to show time, and a trailer for Mamma Mia! comes on. Justin turns to me and asks, "Are we watching Baby Mama or Mamma Mia?" I said, "Oh Justin, I wouldn't make you three guys watch Mamma Mia." Well, the movie of the day was in fact Mamma Mia. There was a misprint in the newsletter the night before. I felt so bad! (I happen to love Mamma Mia, so we stuck around and watched it for a while anyway.)



I took a nap almost every day. Sometimes it was in our room before dinner, sometimes on the lounge chairs on the boat, and once on the beautiful beach in St. Thomas. Now maybe I'm just easily pleased, but to me, the ability to take naps like that seems like the ultimate in luxury.

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So, when can I go again?

The Green Chevy Truck

The first time I met Bobby's Dad was in August of 1998 in Laredo, TX. I had flown out to Kansas for a visit with Bobby and his Mom, and we decided to drive down to Texas to visit Larry. He took us for a drive in this 1950 Chevrolet truck. He told me that when Bobby graduated from medical school, he would get this fabulous green truck. Well, Mr. Fields made good on that promise and showed up to support his son at graduation and deliver this fine automobile.

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I walked out with hot rollers in my hair to capture the moment.

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If the definition of a great gift is something you dream of having but would never buy for yourself, then I'm not sure Larry could have given him a better gift. Well, except for maybe a 2009 Dodge Challenger. Bobby has been following this car since 2006 and he found one on the way to our car after graduation.



I asked him which he was more turned on by, the sexy brunette or the hot car behind her. I'm not sure if I ever got an answer for that one...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Medical School, √

It was a great day.

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There's my husband, the doctor.

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That's one proud mom.
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We were so thrilled that all but one of Bobby's siblings and their families and both of his parents were able to join us for his graduation. It meant a lot to me and I know it meant a lot to Bobby.
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Hmm, I wonder why she's so happy.
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Ashley and Justin look so adorable in this picture. And Bobby looks like a total rockstar with his diploma guitar. But who's the freak on his arm making a monkey face?
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Thanks Jen and Ash for taking such fabulous pictures!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Family Circus

We're back! Our big graduation trip that we've been planning for four years is over. We did a seven night cruise to the Eastern Caribbean. We hit Aruba, Bonaire, Grenada, Dominica and St. Thomas. A different beach for every day. It was perfect. I'm not sure it could have gone any better. I'm so glad we did it! And I'm so sad it's over!

I have some big ideas for how I want to blog about it. I hope it won't take me forever to get around to actually getting it done.

Ash and Mel and I are going to exchange pictures this weekend at graduation. They take the kind of marvelous pictures that I only dream about taking, so I'll wait to see what they've got before I commit to any posts.

In the meantime, I thought I'd tell you about our first family excursion since we got back from our cruise. Bobby, Louise (Bobby's mom), and I took the girls to the circus tonight. It comes to K-ville every year and we've only been once before. (Franny and I went with Jill and Alyssa and Brenda and Ellie. Holla!) Admission is kind of pricey for such a small-scale circus. But we had a good time and I thought the girls would love it so we thought, why not?

Well, this year I was a little more impressed because they had lions and tigers. In my opinion, a circus is not a circus without lions and tigers. Franny and Sophie even got to have an elephant ride again. I wanted some pictures, of course, so I ran around the arena like a spaz, bumping into other parents on stepping on the feet of small children just so I could snap a shot of my kids on their $10 elephant ride. Here's one of my best.


Awesome. I had it on the macro setting because I'm a freaking idiot.

It didn't get much better after that.




My favorite is the picture of the elephant's rear end.

Oh yeah, and in case you didn't know, I have the sense of humor of a 12 year old boy. Check this out:

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Edited: Sophie is saying, "Elephant's peanuts." I promise, she doesn't know that other word yet. We used to love it when this kid used to ask for a "fork." Once she actually said, "Fork you." I laughed all day along about that one.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Dominica

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Cliff Jump
We had quite a few Dominican guys who guided us down the river. We stopped for a few minutes and they all climbed up this bank and jumped off it. We asked if we could. The six of us and a few others were the only ones who wanted to try it. It was so much fun we did it again and asked someone to take our picture for us. The picture didn't turn out too great because it was our cheapo water camera. But at least we have a picture of it.


River tubing in Dominica was a lot of fun. A funny thing that happened was we came to a fork in the river and Ashley followed me to the right and we got stuck maybe about four different times. The kicker was that we could hear all the smart tubers, the ones who chose to take the left, screaming with delight as they rushed down a really fun set of rapids. Meantime we're over on the right using our feet and our arms to try and disentangle ourselves from the reeds and the rocks that were getting in our way. It was pretty funny.




After the river tubing, we stopped to watch a short performance from some Native Carib dancers while we ate an authentic Dominican meal. We were starving and it tasted delicious. Bobby and I even volunteered to join the dancers.

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Like how I'm giving Bobby the "stink eye" for ogling that Carib dancer? She was totally coming on to him. ;)

After that it was on to the Emerald Pool. Dominicans are the wildest drivers. We were all holding on for dear life in the tour van every time the driver turned a corner and nearly hit opposing traffic.




The Emerald Pool was gorgeous. See for yourself.

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