My New Toy

 
I have been intrigued with air fryers for a while, and when a friend told me how much she loved the one she bought, I was sold. I just needed to figure out where to store it. I’m running out of room in my kitchen. 

I bought the Big Boss because I got a good deal, and I could see the food cooking in it. I’m not going to lie, that weighed in my decision making.  I wanted to see what was going on. 

The first thing I made was teriyaki chicken thighs. The recipe was in the book that it came with and I try to do things by the book so to speak, before I play. The marinade was soy sauce, (or tamari for us GF folks)  honey,  garlic and ginger. Simple enough… It said to cook on the bottom rack, though I had too many, so I used both racks. 

 
Because of the sugar in the honey and the closeness to the heat source, the sugar burned, I swapped them out halfway through the cooking process. 

   

 

Because of this, I was not able to check the crispiness of  the skin, but that was my fault. 

Next up I found some sweet potato fries in the freezer. These came out perfect. Not mushy like they can be from the oven. I’ll try fresh cut fries in the near future. 

  
Even my ever skeptical husband was impressed, but next came the clean up. Which was basically two wire racks, a mesh pan, and a giant glass bowl. I hate washing mesh and wire racks. So much more surface area, so many more nooks and crannies. It wasn’t to bad though. I got them cleaned pretty quickly, and basically I just wash the big glass bowl (and worry that I will drop and break it) then I use it as a big basin to wash all the other stuff.  

The next day I was like a little kid, looking for things to cook in it. I made a pork roast, corn on the cob, avocado fries, roasted asparagus, and heated up a frozen pizza in it.  All of them turned out great except the frozen pizza, but that is hardly the fryer’s fault. 

As someone with a high maintenance baby, an almost four year old, and someone who doesn’t always feel great, I don’t always remember to get something out to thaw in the morning, and if I do, it’s wishful thinking because cooking is a luxury these days. If the stars align when the kids both nap in the afternoon, haven’t whooped me down, and I feel good all at the same time, AND I remembered to thaw something…. I should buy a lottery ticket.  With this, I can pull a frozen roast out, rub it with salt, and throw it in there to be done in 90 minutes. Now it’s not fall off the bone tender, but it’s not shoe leather either. Plus, it browns the outside as if you were cooking it on the stove. I have a lot more experimenting to do, I’ve read that taking a frozen steak, browning it with a torch or some other high heat, then baking it will give an extremely tender steak. I want to try that in this. I also want to bake with it. I want to make donuts, turnovers, maybe a cake in it. I’m glad I bought it, and can’t wait to experiment more with it!  

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I don’t care if my kids do well….

  

(This applies to these two yahoos as well)

I truly don’t. If my kids want to grow up and have average jobs and live a life in the rut of mediocrity, that’s just fine with me. If they are happy, I’m good with that. They don’t have to do great things, as long as they do good things. My job as a parent isn’t to get them into a top school, or get them to land that once in a lifetime job, if that is what my kids want, then that is their job to reach for those things. My job as a parent is to teach my kids love, compassion, fairness, and how to do good. If they do well too, that’s up to them. 

You can have all the intelligence and money in the world, but if you’re not a good person, then you’re kind of a waste. Now don’t get me wrong, they are both smarter than your average bear, and my son knows it. I think he may fall into the “gifted underachiever” category that he is genetically predisposed to.  He is a human sponge, always learning and picking up on things, but when you ask him something straight out that you and he both know that he knows the answer to, he pretends to not know. He plays dumb or makes up an answer he thinks is funny. As frustrating as this is, it’s ok. My success does not rely on his brains. I will consider my job a success if he thinks of others. If he sees a classmate hungry so he buys him lunch that day. If he sees someone in need and he helps them out. If my kids think of others, I don’t care if they go to Oxford or Whataburger university. 

There is so much going on in the world now, it truly is a small world. You can no longer turn a blind eye to things that don’t affect you. I recently read where a student was planning on making a bomb to take to my former high school. A school where some of my friends’ kids go. It knocked the wind out of me to think this could happen where I grew up. I was so glad to see that his friends stopped him, not by trying to tackle it themselves, but knowing when something was beyond their capacity and alerting the right people. These kids are heroes, and I hope mine can learn from them. Did anyone, even once, ask what kind of grades these kids being home? No, they were too busy thanking them. 

We put a lot of pressure on our kids to succeed, but is anyone teaching manners anymore?  Or common sense -don’t get me started there. We have the world at our fingertips, the answer to any question we can think of, but are we losing the connections that make us human?  We don’t treat each other like people anymore. In the quest for perfection and the right college application, we have thrown out common decency and manners. It’s easy to do with a phone full of “friends” and “followers” whom we never actually see face to face. 

  

Feelings are an afterthought in this world, and I hope, our kids rebel against us. I hope they see that their mom has posted over a thousand pictures of them on Facebook before they even turned one, and yearn for privacy. I hope they reject the technology that numbs them and reach for actual interactions and compassion that were the first things abandoned when we were shuttling kids to all the activities they need as preschoolers to get into an Ivy League school. 

I will never be impressed by what school your kids get into, it doesn’t matter. I will, however, be highly impressed to watch you teach your son to give your seats at a funeral so an older lady can sit and say goodbye to her friend. In the end, when it comes to your own funeral, what do you think will matter, how much money you made? Or how you treated the people in your life?  

I promise I’ll get back to cooking soon, there are just a few things I need to get off my chest as I’m up in the early morning hours with the baby…

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The Top of a Roller Coaster

It’s been a while, I know, but I finally had baby girl, and she’s beautiful of course. I won’t go in to how I saw the whole Csection in the reflection of a light, or how the spinal block messed with me and made me think I was losing my mind because it messed with my spinal cord, I’ll write about that later.
Right now, I’m looking at my baby napping in her swing and thinking how it’s all going to start now. Continue reading

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I Love Farmers!

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Every Wed, my little guy and I head over to a goat farm to pick up our CSA. It’s not the farm that grows the food, but it is a farm that my farmer takes our shares to, so we can pick them up without driving all the way out to his farm.

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Playing by the Rules

Every once in a blue moon, I have to admit that I am not in control of my own health. I have to hang my head and succumb to the fact that as much as I like to believe it, I cannot will my body to behave. I do stand by my beliefs that I can sense something is amiss and that I clue in to things much more readily than the average person, but I still am not a doctor, and I need to consult with a professional.

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Preschool

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In an attempt to give my little guy a head start on school, I’ve been working with him on a curriculum that I bought from The Learning Box. A friend recommended it to me, and so I figured I’d try out a month to see how it works out. To be honest, we both really enjoy it.

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Chili…. With Beans

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I realize that beans in chili is a very polarizing argument. I also know that here in TX, beans in chili is not only just not done, but goes over about as well as Ted Nugent at a PETA convention. And still I do it, and I do it unapologetically. Here’s why: I want to. Yep, that about sums it up.
If you want more reasons, I can give you three:
1) beans are good for you, and anytime I can get fiber in a meal that my husband and kid will eat, I’m going to, cultural traditions be damned.
2) I’ve lived in Texas for roughly 12 years now, it is my home, but I’m not technically from here, I’m from Wyoming originally, where its common to put beans in your chili.
3) I love Texas food, I do, but whether you are PETA, or the ‘Nuge in this scenario, it’s just food. Go ahead, break the rules, go against tradition… It’ll be ok.

Here is how I made this one:

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Chili Recipe

Ingredients
1 lb Ground Beef
1 lb Ground Pork
2 cans diced Tomato
1 can Tomato Sauce
1 can Black Beans, rinsed
2 cloves Garlic
4 sprigs Thyme
3 small fresh Bay Leaves
1 Tbs Cumin
1 Tbs Chipotle Powder
Salt
1/2 tsp Anise
1/2 tsp Oregano

Instructions
1. Brown meat in pan
2. Add in diced onions
3. Add minced garlic while onions are cooking
4. Add spices
5. Stir in tomatoes and sauce
6. Add Thyme and Bay Leaves
7. Simmer for 30 mins to a couple hours
8. Remove Thyme and Bay Leaves
9. Serve with Shredded Cheese if desired

Salt generously, usually every time I add an ingredient, I add a pinch of salt, but that’s with everything I make. If you want to play with the rations of seasonings, or add, take out, whatever. If you want to add paprika, knock yourself out. I don’t do paprika.

Another thing I don’t do, is play into the whole mentality that chili needs to be as spicy as you can stand it. While I can tolerate a great deal more heat than the average person, I would prefer to taste my food, and not blow out my palate. There have been many of times when eating something that people say it’s too hot, and it’s not a blip on my radar, I have no one to impress, though, is anyone really impressed by another’s ability to eat spicy food? Chili should taste good. At the very least, you should be able to taste it, not tolerate it. Again, though, I’m a rebel, and break the rules.

Long story short, play with your food. Enjoy it, and add whatever you want. What’s the worst that could happen? You end up making a PB&J?

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Okra: The Gateway

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I don’t know if you know this or not, but my home is very hostile towards vegetables. They are ignored, called names, and cast aside in a pile on the plate. I have hidden them in things, and tried to disguise them as much as possible, but I wish I could just put a vegetable on the table and my family would eat it.
Enter okra: the gateway veggie.

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Pregnant with Chiari

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It’s no secret on here that I have Chiari. It’s also no secret that I have a toddler, and I’m pregnant with my second child. I’ve mentioned all of these, though not together until now, plus 95% of you reading this are family or close friends, so you know all of this anyway.

When I was first pregnant with my son, I did as much research as possible on giving birth after having decompression surgery. Here’s what I found:_____________. Yeah, a whole lotta nothing. It’s not uncommon to have kids, and Chiari, but those of us who have had children after being diagnosed, are not out there talking about it, and even fewer who have been decompressed, (I know why, but more on that in a minute) so I was not surprised when a few of my Chiari sisters approached me with questions.

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The Incredible Edible ……Eggplant?

Ok, going to try this again, as my iPad decided to get rid of my last post.

I was admitting that I could truly give or take eggplant. I don’t dislike it, but I don’t seek it out, and in culinary school one of my teachers hated it. Truly HATED it, the flavor, the texture, everything about it. Needless to say, we didn’t work with it a lot.

When you think of eggplant, you can’t help but think of ratatioulle.

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