15 November 2014

Experimenting with Vietnamese Food

My husband and I like Asian food. We are slowly making our way through all the Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Thai restaurants in our town. We have sampled 4, and have about 16 to go. We may never accomplish this goal because we are poor and eating out is a rare and special occasion. So when I got The Slanted Door, we were very excited to try out the recipes.

This was more then just a cookbook though. The Slanted Door is a famous Vietnamese restaurant in California, and the book chronicles the restaurant's origins to the present day. There is a lot of backstory on the dishes, what makes it special and how they came to first serve it. If you like history with your food, you'll really enjoy this book. We were more interested in the recipes themselves, and not in the exposition.

The most successful recipe we tried was the cashew chicken. It called for ingredients we could easily get and didn't have any special equipment to cook with. The combination of cashews and raisins with oyster and fish sauce made for a savory meal, and we've been repeating those flavors in our stir fry and rice dishes ever since. The least successful dish was the rice cake. They were suppose to be crispy bite sized rice and mung bean cakes with shrimp on the top. Ours turned out pasty and bland with not a ounce of crispiness anywhere. The rice cakes called for a special pan, the kind that you use to make escargot in, which we did not have. Instead, we tried it with a mini-muffin pan. This is the source of our epic fail. If you get this book and want to try the rice cakes, don't use a muffin pan. Either skip it, or buy (or borrow) the special pan. I'm certain the pan is the key to rice cake success.

A big factor in our recipe selection process was which ingredients we could get a hold of. The preface says that most ingredients can be found in any Asian market. This may be true if you live in a city, but if you're in a small town, you may be ordering special ingredients over the Internet to make some of these work.

Overall, this is a gorgeous book. It has a beautiful cover, and each recipe is accompanied by a full page glossy picture of the dish.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

02 November 2014

Halloween 2014

This week has been busy, busy, busy with getting ready for Halloween. (A lot of other not so fun things happened too, which you can read about on Mark's blog.) Many moons ago we asked Emma what she wanted to be for Halloween. We found pictures to help explain what Halloween costumes are, and after a few minutes of thinking, she announced that she was going to be a pumpkin. Over the course of the fall she had gone back and forth between a pumpkin-moose, a moose, and a pumpkin, but in the end she remained a pumpkin.

We thought Kaylee was going to be a little kitty. But, we found a little baby animal body suit at Goodwill and thought she could be a pretty cute little Totoro instead. I don't know what animal the costume was originally suppose to be, as anything that could tell me what it was, was missing.

So the week was spent frantically crocheting hats, taking them apart, and crocheting them again. Its funny how hats can look big enough at night, and then be too small in the morning.

We were encouraged to dress up for Halloween at work. Every year the Youth department puts on a Halloween parade, touring the library and stopping at each department for trick-or-treating. I'd been debating about what I was going to be, or if I had time to put a costume together at all. But Thursday night I found myself with a couple of extra hours (well, it was before midnight anyway) so I pulled out some old fabric and whipped out a simple cape to go with my elf ears. I think everyone looked pretty good.

08 October 2014

Weekends and my Mini Photographer

Our past couple of weekends have been kind of exciting. First off was the Genworth 10/4 Miler with the Amazing Kids Race. This was the last weekend in September. Emma loves to run, so we signed her up for the 1/4 miler for kids 0-5. Before the race there was bubbles, face painting, and karate demonstrations. Emma went straight for the bubbles. These weren't ordinary bubbles. They had two kids swimming pools set up, full of suds. In each one was a little stool and a hula hoop. The kids stood on the stool and a volunteer pulled the hula-hoop up around them so they were inside the bubble. Emma loved it. She kept trying to touch it as they pulled the bubble over her, though. 

Anyway, one parent was allowed to run with each child, if they wanted. Since this was Emma first race, we decided that I would run with her. I really thought that I would chase her across the track because that's what happens whenever we go outside. She says "Catch Me!" and takes off. The crowd probably threw her off a bit. So we held hands the entire time.
She wanted to stop about halfway through. But then the cheerleaders started putting their hands out for high-fives and that got her going for the rest of the race. (I don't know her time, I can never see the clock at the starting line. Sorry, Grandpa.)

On Saturday, I ran the 4-miler. Well, walked really. I did try to run parts of it. The uphill parts. Crazy I know but sometimes it is easier to run it then to walk it. I did the 4-miler last year too. My time didn't improve, however I did not hurt as much this year. Not being 5 months pregnant with a baby swashing my hip joints probably had a lot to do with that.

For the first weekend in October, we went out to Yoder Farm. This is becoming a tradition with us. They have a corn maze, goats, a play area with rubber duck races, a corn pit with bouncy balls, tricycles, and pumpkins and apples. So, the tradition is to go through the corn maze and get some apples for canning, stopping to play with the toys and the goats along the way, of course.

Emma is a big fan of the rubber duck races. She was not a fan of the corn maze. Last year she ran through it, getting ahead of us and making me worry that she might actually get lost. This year she stopped dead the the entrance and had to be persuaded to go in. She did not like the corn and did not want to touch it at all.

Kaylee didn't have a problem with it. She was asleep for most of the farm experience though. Which was fine. It was her nap time anyway.

This should really be second blog post, but sometimes its just easier to load all the pictures at once and type around them.

Its hard to take pictures around Emma because she will insist that its her turn to have the camera. We can always tell when she's had it because we get pictures like this:
And this:

She got a hold of the camera recently while we were hanging out with Kaylee. She surprised us with these:

As you might be able to tell, Kaylee is pretty fascinated with the camera too.

23 September 2014

What birthdays mean

For the past two weeks or so, Emma has been talking about birthdays. She's learned that birthdays are something that people have. Because my birthday was coming up, we talked about what we would do for it: have cake, open presents, and go to a restaurant.

Yesterday was my day and Emma was exited about everything. We opened presents before I left for work. She helped Daddy make cupcakes. And she was so thrilled to go the restaurant that she burst our in tears when we immediately leave the library when picked me up. I think its safe to say that she likes birthdays.

This morning when we got up, we have this conversation:

Emma, "Presents?"

"No, my birthday was yesterday. I don't have anymore presents."

"Daddy's turn?"

14 September 2014


What do you do when the drawers under your bed fall apart? If you're 3, you turn the empty space into a nice, cozy, hide-away.

Not that she stayed hidden away for long. But she did tell me that she was going to sleep in there. I didn't argue with her because I remember dragging my pillow and blankets in the closet to sleep. In the end, she decided that her bed was much more comfortable.

Now for the grandparents, here is our baby laughing:


30 August 2014

The Kids (Yes, plural)

Kaylee is now 7 months old. She has two teeth, loves to smile and laugh, and scoots around on her butt a lot. She is almost crawling, and can pull herself up to stand. She may skip the crawling altogether and go straight to walking.

Emma is 3. She loves to climb things, spin, and run. She likes dinosaurs, trains, and cats. Sometimes she will help wash or feed Kaylee, but most of her interactions involve the phrase "No, Kaylee, don't grab it."

They do enjoy having tummy time together though.

27 August 2014

Pop Culture Funnies

Letters, memos, text messages, diary entries, and online forums are just a few of the formats that the correspondences take in Dear Luke, We Need to Talk, Darth: and other pop culture correspondencs.  The pop culture references range far wider then I expected. From the titular Star Wars to Jaws and The Walking Dead to the Superbowl to The Eagles and Lenard Cohen, plus a lot more. There's reference for every genre (movie, music, tv) and decade, starting from the 1950s on. While I enjoyed this book, I'm not sure of its fit in my library. The other few pop culture books we have do not check out much, except for How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You, so there may be hope for it.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

3.5 Stars Because all humor is subjective and some things were just funnier then others.