Monthly Archives: July 2009

Changes

I’ve been gone a few days pulling my website over to WordPress. I like all the features here a little better than my Iweb. Hope those of you who have been reading will keep checking in — I’ll have some new things up and going soon.

Take care!

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Banh-Mi (Beware the Fish Sauce)

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Banh-Mi is a Vietnamese sandwich. 

 

Around these parts, a Banh-Mi will usually set you back about $2. My friend Duy introduced me to his native country’s Banh-Mi several years ago. My relationship with the Banh-Mi started off very rocky when Duy forgot to mention that these sandwiches often feature raw jalapenos.  Once I cooled my burning mouth and stopped glaring at Duy, I learned to simply remove the hot peppers and enjoy the small amount of spice left by them on the bread. After my introduction, I thought I should spread the word about a $2 sandwich that tastes great and is roughly the size of my head.  

 

This included my husband Nate. We went down to the local dive where I buy great Banh-Mi and ordered up several kinds. He loved them too. However, shortly after we ate the sandwiches, he started having some symptoms of an allergic reaction. We knew he has a peanut allergy, but didn’t realize that for some reason these particular Banh-Mi sandwiches had a peanut sauce on them (not sure if it was by accident or not). The reaction was thankfully mild.  However, poor Nate was left with a burning love for the Banh-Mi and a fear of having a severe allergic reaction if he ate one. What to do?

 

A few months later, Nate decided to make them at home so we would know exactly what was in the sandwich. Now, let me take a moment and do a small disclaimer here. Banh-Mi has a sort of cult-like following. We, by no means, want to imply that Banh-Mi we make is totally authentic or steeped in tradition. It is simply a recipe that we love and we think it’s a close enough to be considered “kissing cousins” with the Banh-Mi. No experts here – we just enjoy delicious sandwiches.

 

The first time we made them, we had to make a trip to the local Asian Market for ingredients. If you can’t buy the pickled daikon/carrot mix, then you can certainly find recipes for making them a day or two ahead of time – just do a google search. 

 

It was the Fish Sauce that caused us the most trouble. We thought we would walk into the store and see a bottle of “Fish Sauce” and we would skip happily away to enjoy our tasty sandwich. What we found was about a hundred different bottles with the words “Fish Sauce” on them. We debated and finally chose a bottle. We hoped for the best and took it home. Upon further inspection, Nate declared that we had made a terrible mistake and this version of Fish Sauce looked like a thick chunky stew with pieces of small fish suspended within. In fact, we never even opened the bottle and it made our pantry a little smelly. Seriously gross. It reminded us both of bait that one might use while trying to catch a large catfish. Okay. Regroup. Back to Asian market, but this time we knew we were looking for an amber liquid with no chunks. 

 

Once we overcame the Fish Sauce issue, Nate made a great sandwich. Once assembled, these sandwiches will even keep a day or two in the refrigerator. 

 

The following recipe is our best effort to date.  Also note that some are made with peanuts and some are not. However, almost without fail, restaurants that serve them have several peanut dishes on the menu, so there’s a slight risk no matter what. I would even be proud to serve these to Duy who introduced me to my first Banh-Mi, but I might hide a few extra jalapenos on his and not tell him!

 

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Banh-Mi Recipe

 

Filling:

 

5-Spice Marinated Pork Tenderloin (adapted from a recipe from www.spicehouse.com)

 

2 pork tenderloins sliced ½ inch thick

¾ cup of soy sauce 

½ cup Sherry

¼ Chinese 5-spice powder

4 TSP honey

2 TSP garlic powder

4 TSP crushed red pepper

½ cup olive oil

Mix all ingredients together, add pork and marinate several hours or overnight. Thread pork onto skewers – use metal skewers or wood skewers soaked in water. 

 

 

 

Assembled sandwich (Bahn-Mi):

 

Two crusty French Baguettes

½ cup lime juice

2 TSP soy sauce

1 TSP Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce – see note!)

½ TSP toasted sesame oil

2 TBS Canola oil

2 TSP minced garlic

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup water

1 jalapeno pepper thinly sliced

8 sprigs of cilantro

2 sprigs of Thai Basil

Pickled carrot and daikon Radish (You can make  your own by looking up a recipe online. Or, you can do what we did, which is purchase ours at the local Asian Market)

 

Stir together lime juice, soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, Canola oil, sugar and water. This makes the sauce for the sandwich. To assemble the sandwich sprinkle sauce on each half of the French loaf, place pork on the bottom half and sprinkle with more sauce. Top with jalapeno, carrot, radish, basil and cilantro. Put two halves together and serve.  It is also very common to add mayonnaise and/or Asian chili sauce to the sandwich.

 

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Catch of the Day

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Woke up this morning a little late, but we were on the lake by 8:30 or so. It wasn’t hot, but it was humid! Today was a strange day of fishing because I saw hundreds of fish, but they were not interested in biting our hooks. I can’t really say I blame them. The picture above is where I sat for awhile and fished. It was overcast and actually rained on us some during the drive to the lake. I literally watched fish jump all over the lake feeding on the bugs on top of the water. It was very cool to see, but frustrating that we didn’t catch much. 

 

I did finally reel in this small sand bass. I yelled for Nate as soon as he hit my hook and we had him out of the water for just a moment while I snapped a picture. We then released him and watched him swim away. In my mind, he went back to all of his fish friends and told them not to bite any of the yellow bugs thus ruining our big catch. Others without such a wild imagination might figure he continued eating bugs and sunning himself in shallow waters like sand bass are known to do. 

Here’s the whistle blower!

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At around 11:00 a.m. we gave up and had a sandwich — leftovers from last night. I had to remove all the peppers because they were too hot. I am posting the recipe for this next. This was really the catch of the day!


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Shrimp Boilin’

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We struggle to find meals we can cook at home that are easy and don’t require us to spend our time after work doing dishes. In fact, I hate doing dishes so badly that I have been known to cry. I’ve also been known to throw away a few dishes when the thought of cleaning them was just too much for my soul to bear. Anyway, I digress. We discovered recently that shrimp boil is actually a pretty easy dish to prepare and it’s great for company. You just follow a boiling schedule and make sure your stockpot is big enough for all the ingredients. 

 

It’s also a pretty healthy meal. We only make a few potatoes and we use low-fat smoked sausage. It’s not as great as the real thing, but it’s still smoky and flavorful. If done well, you will only use one pan for cooking and one platter for serving. Not bad huh? I give a lot of thought to these kinds of details. We also like that we can change the portions of the ingredients to suit our taste. Below is what we use.

 

Shrimp Boil (adapted from www.oldbay.com)

 

2 quarts water

1 – 12 ounce beer

4 Lemons quartered

¼ cup Old Bay Seasoning

1 TSP Liquid crab boil

2 TBS Salt

6 Medium Red Potatoes

1 Large onion quartered

1 lb. Smoked Sausage cut into 4-inch pieces

4 Ears of fresh corn shucked and halved

2 lbs. unpeeled jumbo shrimp

 

Bring water, beer, crab boil, Old Bay Seasoning, lemons and salt to a boil in a large stockpot. 


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Add ingredients according to this boiling schedule:

Add potatoes and onions and boil eight minutes. 

Add smoked sausage and cook five minutes. 

Add corn and cook seven minutes. 

Add shrimp and cook until shrimp turn pink. 

 

Drain liquid and transfer cooked food to large serving bowl or platter. Sprinkle with Old Bay or Creole Seasoning if desired.

 

 

Serve with French bread, extra lemon wedges, cocktail sauce and hot sauce on the side.

 

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Dark-Thirty

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My cousin’s five-year-old son, Parker, calls the early morning “dark-thirty”. 

 

In the morning, I’m getting up to go fishing at “dark-thirty” with my husband. I call the early morning many things that are not appropriate for this site — for now, “dark-thirty” will do just fine.

 

I’m not sure what many of the things in the tackle box above are, but I’m a little excited that the ones on the right are called “jitterbug”. I just like the sound of that.  I’m actually more worried about getting enough tea and snacks to get me through the morning than catching any fish. We went to Bass Pro Shops today. I think Bass Pro Shops is a shoe store and Nate thinks it’s a place to buy boats and fishing tackle. Either way, I got a pair of new shoes.

 

We are taking Vietnamese Sandwiches with us for lunch tomorrow and I will be posting the recipe soon. I’ve also got to find fishing-appropriate clothing and shoes before I go to bed tonight. Insert a big eye-roll from Nate here. 

 

See ya at “O-Dark-Thirty” aka %^**&^%%^%$%*

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The Great Quinoa Adventure of 2009

 

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Quinoa is pronounced “Keen-wah”

Quinoa is an herb seed, though most think it is a grain.

Quinoa must be rinsed, rinsed, rinsed and rinsed again. 

 

Nate likes to say “Keen-wah” over and over again until I lose my mind.

 

After seeing Quinoa on several websites, I bought some and after a long day of working we decided to make it. First, we had to look up some recipes. We finally settled on adapting a recipe we found on Epicurious. We added onion because we love raw onion flavor and we changed some ratios. 

 

The end result was that we LOVED it. There are several suggestions for cooking quinoa, but this worked perfectly for us — boil ten minutes and then steam ten minutes. It was fluffy and the texture was great. We also think this same recipe would work well with barley.  Next time we plan to add more jalapenos because we would have liked a little more heat.

 

This also is a great recipe for vegetarians, which we are not. We paired it with grilled chicken. 

 

Quinoa Salad

1 cup of Quinoa

1 can of Black Beans (rinsed)

1 ½ tablespoons of red wine vinegar

½ cup of frozen corn

1 chopped green bell pepper

2 pickled jalapenos minced

¼ cup of cilantro

1 medium tomato chopped

¼ white onion chopped

 

Dressing:

5 tablespoons of lime juice

1 tsp of salt

1 ¼ ground cumin

1/3 cup of olive oil

zest of one lime

 

 

Rinse the quinoa several times under running water. You can use a strainer and then let it drain into a bowl between rinsing. Then add the quinoa to two cups of water and 1 tsp of salt. Bring it to a boil, reduce heat to simmer for ten minutes and steam for an additional 10 minutes. We used our strainer sitting in a small saucepan. Just make sure the quinoa doesn’t touch the water.

 

Mix in the veggies and dressing and serve cold or at room temperature.

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Happy Birthday!

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Last night was Keely’s birthday party and I think it’s safe to say we all had a good time. Angee was my co-host for the day. She came to my house around three and we set everything up. It was hard not to eat everything before the party started at six.  I picked up the cake shown above from La Baguette Bakery. We have had it before and it’s unbelievably delicious! This time I got it frozen and just set it out a couple of hours before the party.

 

Miss Angee

Miss Angee

 

Angee was the bartender until Duy arrived.  She made Nate a really tasty Cosmo. Nate likes to make these drinks sound really manly by calling them “The Mountain Man” or “The Tough Guy”, he’s not yet comfortable with the girly drinks.  Here’s a pretty shot of the final drink.  I had a sip and it was really good.

 

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Below is a final picture of the table. We sat everything up in the living room, but like always everyone congregated to the kitchen island where we spent most of the night. Later we moved to the back patio. By the end of the night most of the food was gone and we sent leftover cake home with anyone who would take it! Nate and I still ended up with several slices in the fridge. 

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I mixed up my rendition of a Fuzzy Navel for Nate. It’s about the only drink I know how to mix and I don’t really follow the real recipe. I put a shot of vodka, a shot of peach schnapps, a shot of pineapple juice, and fill the rest up with orange juice. I usually top it off with a little cherry juice or grenadine just to make it look pretty. It’s one of his favorites.

 

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Then Duy arrived on scene and saved us all from my bad mixes. He’s a pro and so is Angee — we were in their capable hands the rest of the night. Duy won everyone over with a drink called “Nuts and Berries” — I don’t have the recipe for this post, but it is a creamy sweet cocktail that tastes like a decadent desert! It seemed like he was mixing one every few minutes! 

 

Here he is in action.

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Lots of great conversation, cocktails and then a few tunes from Lisa Curl and Nate ended the night for us. Duy and the birthday girl stayed and helped me clean up everything and I think they left around 1 a.m. Today was just a lazy day for us (I did go to PF Chang’s with Duy for a bite to eat this evening and then to Barnes & Noble to read for a bit). However, with the exception of the cake, we woke up to no leftovers, no dirty dishes and no one sleeping on the sofa. That’s a successful party in my book!

 

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Keely’s Birthday

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Wow! It’s late. So please excuse any typos you may see as I am dog tired. We are hosting Keely’s birthday party at our house today. It required a trip to Wal-Mart on my part so that proves that I truly love Keely. Just in case anyone questioned it!  And, damn The Pioneer Woman and her butter-laden recipes!

 

Here’s the Appetizer and Cocktail Menu for the party!

 

  1. Roasted Red Pepper Hummus with Pita Chips (compliments of Angee)
  2. Piggies in a blanket (Dear sweet Angee)
  3. Home-made Salsa and Chips (Thanks Nate)
  4. Grilled Shrimp with Chipotle Aioli (Thanks again hubby)
  5. Bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers (PW)
  6. Bread bites with blue cheese and butter (PW)
  7. Assorted Cheese and Crackers (that’s me!)
  8. All sorts of cocktails (Thanks Duy)
  9. And Happy Birthday cake

 

The picture above is the birthday lady herself with Angee’s little one Maxwell Dean. It was taken almost a year ago now. Hopefully, I will be posting some pictures from the party tomorrow night!

 

It’s 1:00 a.m. so I am signing off — g’nite.

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Aunt Gail

 

Aunt Gail and Loretta Lynn

Aunt Gail and Loretta Lynn

Tonight I’m going to dinner with my Aunt Gail. She is in town for a school conference and I always love to see her. After I talked to her today I thought about this picture that I have saved on my computer. That’s Aunt G in the center holding the trophies with an expression that only a true rodeo queen can do justice.  And, yes, that’s Miss Loretta Lynn on the right. Aunt Gail used to be a rodeo queen and, if I remember correctly, this picture was taken at the 4-States Rodeo Arena in Texarkana, Arkansas (maybe Texas, depends on which side of the road it’s on and I can’t remember!). Loretta Lynn used to own the Lynn Rodeo Company and it later became Longhorn Rodeo. Years after this picture was taken, I met many of the people who worked for the Lynn Rodeo Company at that time.  Through the years, I probably heard my grandfather tell the story of meeting Loretta Lynn a thousand times. 

 

What really makes me smile is the clothes. I think it’s called lame’ and it’s really shiny and itchy. When I was a little girl, I would put on these sparkly cowgirl suits that hung in the back of my Aunt’s closet and beg her to let me wear them to school. She had gold, pink, purple, practically every color of the rainbow! She also had the colored felt cowboy hats to match! I was always devastated when she wouldn’t let me wear them to school. Now, I’m thankful. I’m thankful she didn’t let me be the strange kid who wore purple lame’ and a pink felt hat to school.

 

… if she had only been around to keep me from wearing that shiny silver glove and red-zippered Michael Jackson jacket to school in 7th grade, I might have made it through unscathed. I’m gonna ask her about that tonight!

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First Blog

 

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Here we go! This is my first blog entry. Today, I went to lunch with my friend Angee. She got to have “grown up” lunch — meaning that she was out of the house without her two beautiful kiddos Isaac and Maxwell. 

 

We went to eat at San Marcos and discussed Keely’s birthday plans. We also stopped by my house on the way home to check out the progress on Nathan’s urban garden. Angee and Nathan love to garden. I love to eat things from their gardens so we all win!

 

I also got to show Angee my new camera and she took the photo above — pretty good for her first pic. It’s a picture of my “guitjo” or “backwoods banjo” — It chords just like a guitar, but it looks and sounds like a banjo!

 

Here’s my favorite photo of Angee. I took it a few years back at the Old Settler’s Music Festival in Dripping Springs, Texas. www.oldsettlersmusicfest.org — She looks so pretty in this picture and we had a great time!

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