Thursday, February 21, 2013

Tropical Snow Day!!!

Hethyr:  We had a heads-up that a big snow was coming our way yesterday, so after running errands in the morning, I decided to swing by Jon's school to switch cars in case the roads were bad on his way home.  I got all of my stuff out of the Subaru and ready to load into the Piece of Shit - oops, I mean Jetta - when I realized the front passenger-side tire was flat - again.  Oh, goody!  With Jon needing to get back inside to pick up his kids from lunch, I offered to take care of the car myself.  He, of course, insisted that I just drive the Subaru and said he'd deal with the flat after school, but being (way too) well-trained by my resourceful Dad in the art of changing tires, I told him I'd do it. 

I call this one "Jetta on a Donut in the Snow."
Pure beauty.  Um, yeah.

Mind you, I have probably changed upward of thirty tires in the twenty years I have been driving.  Yes, I know that sounds like an exaggeration, but in college, I had a sweet little Nissan Sentra with pimped-out rims and when it would get cold (keep in mind that I lived in central Illinois at the time), I would inevitably get a flat tire.  It was something about the metal expanding and contracting with the weather.  Anyway, I have pretty much become a pro at changing flats.  Once when I still worked in an office, a good friend walked out of work to a flat so she called her boyfriend and came back inside to wait for him.  After she told me, I offered to at least take a look to see if I could help.  By the time her boyfriend got there, I had the tire changed and we were just standing in the parking lot waiting for him.  They were both pretty impressed.  Although I'm sure my Dad knew he was teaching me a useful skill when he taught me to change a tire, I wonder if he had any idea of how indispensable this skill would become!  :)

Needless to say, I changed the Jetta's tire without too many issues and left the Outback with Jon.  I felt like I deserved a gold star or something for being wife-of-the-day, but instead I got a hot shower to get all of the grease off of me when I got home...

Oh, and I got rewarded with an honest-to-goodness SNOW DAY today... and so did Jon!  Since both of us were home for the day, we slept in late (hey, 8am is late for us!) and decided on a tropical muffin breakfast against a blustery external backdrop.  Happy snow day!!!

Coco-Maca-'Nana-Nut Muffins (Gluten-, Dairy-, and Refined Sugar-Free)

Makes 21-ish muffins
2 1/2 cups gluten-free flour mix
1/2 + 1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (1 1/4 teaspoons for high altitude)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted (divided use)
3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 extra-large eggs (I used turkey eggs)
1 cup maple syrup
4 tablespoons vegan butter, melted and cooled slightly, plus extra for greasing pans
1/4 cup macadamia nut butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup alternative milk (I used macadamia nut milk)
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

1.  Preheat oven to 425F; grease muffin pans with a bit of melted vegan butter.

2.  In a large bowl, mix together GF flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, macadamia nuts, and 1/4 cup shredded coconut.

3.  In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and bananas together.  Add maple syrup, melted vegan butter, macadamia nut butter, and vanilla extract.

4.  In a small bowl, mix the alternative milk with the apple cider vinegar; set aside.

5.  To dry mixture, add about 1/3 of the banana mixture and stir until combined.  Add about 1/3 of the alternative milk mixture and stir until combined.  Repeat until all ingredients are well mixed.

6.  Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full (if any cups are left empty, fill about halfway with water), then top with remaining toasted coconut.

7.  Bake for 19-20 minutes or until golden brown on top.  Cool in the pans for about 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.  Of course, we couldn't keep our hands off, so we ate about 1/3 of ours while they were still warm.  :)
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Jon:  I fondly remember the joy of the snow day as a child.  Sleeping in late, eating a titanic breakfast, then playing twelve straight hours of Zelda on my Nintendo.  As an older kid, when my interest in video games had withered away, I simply replaced my video game time with cable TV.  A day that I thought was destined for applying brainpower to academics fortuitously became a teeny-tiny vacation destined for sedation and ignorance.  It was a little slice of heaven.

I always imagined that the simple and unexpected solace of a snow day as a kid would never be matched.  But I was mistaken, because I have discovered something even better.  Much better.  A snow day as a teacher.

Teaching first grade is way more exhausting than just participating.  Don't get me wrong, I love my job.  But I get paid?  And I don't have to take a sub day?  And I don't have to work at all?  What?  Hell yeah, snow!  Admittedly, it is tempting to do schoolwork at home all day since I always have a hundred things to catch up on.  But not today.  Today I am destined to return to my roots...  sleep in late, eat a titanic breakfast, and watch seven consecutive movies (with a bearded-brothers theme in loving memory of JR and Garr).

Here's to delicious snow-day muffins, a grease-monkey wife, Wes Anderson, Adam McKay, Garr, and JR.

JR and Garr - Bearded BFFs

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

We Go Together Like Chinese Food & Chocolate Pudding!

Hethyr:  Jon and I sort of have our own little language.  There are probably a few other nerds (or cable-less folks) out there who would understand it, but most people would think we're nuts if they heard us talking to each other much of the time.  Several years ago - for many reasons - we decided to get rid of cable television.  While less TV proved to be awesome, the silence in the house while either of us was home alone proved to be not so great sometimes, so we got in the habit of having a movie on in the background for noise.  We only own so many DVDs and for a long time, we didn't have a way of watching streamed movies on anything other than one of our laptops.  So, we got to know a select number of scripts INCREDIBLY WELL.  Now we speak movie to each other most of the time.  Lame?  Maybe.  But it would be REALLY lame if only one of us did it.  At least we're both dorks, I guess.

With that being said, I saw this card while looking for something for Valentine's Day for him...

Not the greatest card in the world to the untrained eye/ear, I realize.  But it immediately made me think of a few lines from Talladega Nights, an Adam McKay/Will Ferrell/John C. Reilly gem, which is in our very regular (embarrassingly so) movie repertoire.  Okay, okay, we like really stupid humor - I admit it!  So, I added a few choice words and made the card "my own"...

After getting sick with a fever and cough earlier this week, I wasn't up for dinner out on Valentine's Day (not that we would have ever thought to make reservations early enough anyway!), so I decided that as a treat for Jon (and, of course, for myself!), I'd make some gluten-, dairy-, and refined sugar-free pudding.  I found a couple of good recipes here and here at the Gluten Free Fix blog.  Only after deciding to make these did I realize the chocolate pudding reference in my card, so it was only fitting that I should make Chinese-ish food to go with it.  In the morning, I gave Jon the card (which he loved, of course!) and later, I sent him a text to let him know that we were, in fact, having Chinese food and chocolate pudding for dinner and dessert.  He responded by asking if he should bring home some peanut butter and ladies... or cocaine and waffles.  Oh, my!

Anyway, I do realize that our last post was a recipe for a noodle bowl, but this one is quite different, fairly easy, and every bit as delicious.
  I hope you enjoy it, too!

Now You See Me, Now You Don't Chinese Bowlful o' Love (Gluten- and Dairy-Free)

Serves 2 (plus 2 servings of leftovers of the shrimp and veggies for lunch the next day so sick wifey doesn't have to cook!)

1-inch knob of ginger, peeled and minced
2 green onions, sliced
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 small to medium head of broccoli, cut into florets
1 small yellow bell pepper, seeded, ribbed and sliced
2 large carrots, sliced
1 small bunch of bok choy, chopped
2 cups sugar snap peas or snow peas
1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cut into bite-size pieces
3 tablespoons tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons sweet chili sauce (I realize this isn't refined-sugar free but on a rare occasion, I've got to splurge a wee bit)
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
4 ounces brown rice Pad Thai noodles

1.  Prep all vegetables (ginger through peas) and shrimp.

2.  In a small bowl, stir together soy sauce, honey and sweet chili sauce; set aside.

3.  Cook rice noodles according to package directions; portion into bowls and keep warm, reserving a little of the cooking water.

4.  In a large skillet or wok, heat oil and sesame oil over medium-high to high heat.  Add ginger, green onions and garlic and stir-fry for approximately 30 seconds or until fragrant - be careful not to burn.

5.  Add veggies to skillet and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes.  Add shrimp and stir-fry for another 2-3 minutes or until shrimp is just cooked through and veggies are cooked but still crisp.  Remove from skillet and toss with sauce.

6.  To each noodle bowl, add plenty of veggies, shrimp, sauce, and a little bit of cooking water to reach your desired consistency of soupiness.  Add chopsticks to make it more Chinese and serve with chocolate pudding for dessert!  :)
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Jon:  Hethyr, can I please have your attention.  I've just been handed an urgent and horrifying news story.  I need you to stop what you're doing and listen...

I wanna say something.  I'm gonna put it out there.  If you like it, you can take it, if you don't, send it right back.  I want to be on you.  You have an absolutely breath-taking... heiney.  I mean, that thing's good.  I wanna be friends with it.  Mmmm.  That sounds good. I'll have that.

You see, a pimp's love is very different from that of a square.  We are like friends who ride majestic, translucent steeds, shooting flaming arrows across the bridge of Hemdale.  I would follow you into the mists of Avalon, if that's what you mean.  No one knows what it means, but it's provocative.

Really, if we went to a Halloween party dressed as Batman and Robin, I'd go as Robin. That's how much you mean to me.  And we will dance till the sun rises.  And then our children will form a family band.  And we will tour the countryside and you won't be invited.

Little ham 'n eggs comin' at ya.  What do you say we go out on a date?  Have some chicken, maybe some sex... you know, see what happens.  Me without you is Rice without Montana. Ali without Frasier.  Han Solo without Chewbacca.

Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?  We have so much in common, we both love soup and snow peas, we love the outdoors, and talking and not talking. We could not talk or talk forever and still find things to not talk about.

Great Odin's raven!  Holy Santa Claus shit!  Mind-bottling, isn't it?  You know, when things are so crazy it gets your thoughts all trapped, like in a bottle?  I'm in a glass case of emotion.  It's more that comfortability.  I fuckin' love you.  And you got those.  I like those on a woman.

I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful.  Let's capture the dream.