Wednesday, March 31, 2010

an animal I can handle

Anyone who knows me knows that I like animals…from a distance. I pretty much grew up without pets, and I’d like to keep it that way. Animals belong in the wild, and I want to keep the wild out of my home. The smells, the hair, the going to the bathroom without diapers or toilets- it’s just not for me. But, last night Brad decided I needed something to take care of, so we went to PetSmart to get a pet.
We walked by the snakes and birds, it only took one loaded glance at Brad for him to realize that was out of the question. Next we looked at fish, a good choice since I don’t like animals to touch me. I felt bad for the guy helping us because he was taking so much time to explain things and I knew we wouldn’t really buy anything. The Betta fish all looked mangy and depressed. The tropical fish required lights and filters and were getting too pricey and complex for a sporadic one night joke. Brad was ready to buy all the fancy stuff, but I wanted to keep it simple. So we looked at the betas again. I found a blue one and a red one that looked cool next to each other, but obviously that wouldn’t work. Then at the back of the shelf I saw the prettiest little fish with a perfect fin, bright blue and bright red. He was the one, the new addition to our family. I picked out some rocks that matched him and we took him home at once.
The idea of a fish began to grow on me, it was like doing service getting him out of that tiny, dirt cup into a relatively big, beautiful new home. I hope he’s happy here and lives a long life (in fish terms) because I really like the little guy. Welcome home Solo! (I like the old Star Wars, but this isn’t after Han Solo. It’s short for Señor Macho Solo, an episode from our favorite 30 rock and he has to be alone in his tank. So fitting.)
Like any proud parent, I immediately began taking pictures.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

April Madness!

I can’t wait for April to arrive, especially this year. If you happen to not be a sports fanatic, but have loved ones who are, you know what I mean. I just can’t wait for April madness! You probably haven’t heard of it because I just made it up. As a (soon to be) march madness veteran I recognize the need to balance things out, even out the playing field if you will. I declare April the month of nonsports fans. It’s a great month anyways: Easter, General Conference, and more predictably springy weather. Beyond this, the month should also include home improvement projects, yard work, and plenty of HGTV and the food network. If you don’t enjoy it, you should pretend to because you realize how important it is, and after all, it’s just once a year! This is the month to spend that $20-30 dollars on a Vietnamese pedicure guilt free. It might be the month to buy a full priced item from Anthro (or your preferred store where you don’t dare glance anywhere else but the sale rack). It’s the time to go to your favorite gourmet store (be it William & Sonoma, Orson Gygi, Sur le Table, or Spoons & Spice) and get that new kitchen gadget you’ve been pining for. Your loved one should even change the channel away from PTI when they sense a strong urge coming from you to slap those yelling men, without being prompted they should say "hmm…maybe its time to watch 'what not to wear'”. Now that's an April attitude! So sportsfans, soak it up like a sponge while you can, because before you know it, the NCAA tournament will be over... and after March, comes April.
From a month of this:

 to this:

Good riddens March, HELLO April!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

how to make your home smell like an indian restaurant

Per request I decided to share my favorite Indian meal I’ve made from home, its a combo of a recipe I ripped out of a magazine at my dentist's office a couple years ago (oh so sneakily), some google research, and experimentation.  The only ingredients out of the ordinary is garam masala seasoning (on sale a few months ago at albertsons) and some chiles del arbol (or dried serrano chilis) that I had left over from making roasted salsa. I used to be so scared of those little dried chiles, esp. when they appeared on my plate at a restaurant. But when I made the salsa I discovered when you deseed them they give great flavor w/o too much heat. Now I leave a few seeds in cause I know I can handle it. 
I was also introduced to pollo boullion seasoning from Brad’s Guatemalan grandma “mami oli”, it’s like a secret ingredient, and I’m pretty sure it’s got MSG in it, but so do boullion cubes, and it’s so much easier to sprinkle in…

CHICKEN: ½ tsp cumin      ½ tsp coriander       ¼ tsp pepper
1 tsp salt                              3 chicken breasts     1 C plain yogurt
1 Tbs fresh ginger, grated     2 tsp minced garlic   2 Tbs oil
MASALA SAUCE: 1 Tbs oil, 1 Tbs butter    1 onion, finely diced
2 tsp minced garlic    2 tsp fresh ginger           2 serrano/chiles de arbol
1 Tbs tomato paste   1 Tbs garam masala       1 (28 oz) can tomatoes
2 tsp sugar                ½ tsp salt                      2/3 C cream/yogurt
2 tsp chicken bullion
In a small bowl mix cumin, coriander, white pepper, and salt. Rub onto chicken, place on a plate and cover, refrigerate ≈1/2 hr. In the bowl with any leftover seasoning add 1 C yogurt, 1 Tbs olive oil, 2 cloves minced garlic, and ≈1 Tbs grated ginger. Heat ≈1 Tbs butter and 1 Tbs oil in a large pan. Sauté onion 8-10 min. Add minced garlic, ginger, 2 chiles (mostly deseeded and broken up), 1 Tbs tomato paste, and 1 Tbs garam masala; stir and cook ≈3 min,  thoroughly enjoy the aroma. Drain tomatoes, blend, then add to the pan. Add sugar, bullion, and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to med-low, cover, and simmer 15 min. Remove from heat, cover to keep warm. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat broiler. Dip chicken into yogurt mixture to create a thick coating, place on wire rack in foil-lined baking sheet. Add remaining yogurt to the tomato sauce (make sure to bring to a simmer), then additional yogurt/cream as desired. Broil chicken 5-10 min per side till lightly charred and cooked through, cut in 1” chunks and stir into warm sauce. Adjust seasoning with salt and sugar until it makes your mouth water, serve with rice and nann.

1 pkg yeast    1 C warm water       ¼ C sugar
3 Tbs milk     1 egg                        2 tsp salt
4 ½ C flour    2 tsp minced garlic   2 Tbs butter
Heat a pizza stone in the oven to 450°. Dissolve yeast in a large bowl with warm water. Let stand 10 min, until frothy. Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt, garlic, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead until smooth. Place in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, let rise 1 hr (or I microwave 30 sec and let sit in the microwave 5-10 min). Knead on a floured surface and divide in 4 balls. Cover and let rise 30 min. (or 30 sec more in the microwave and let sit 5 min) Melt butter in the microwave. Spread out dough to ≈1/2” thickness (it was easy to spread in the air just picking it up w/ my hands) and brush butter on both sides. Place 2 of the nann on the pizza stone and bake on each side ≈1-2 min till lightly browned. Enjoy the soft yumminess that follows, so perfect for a flavorful sauce.

Namaste! :)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Jamaican Jerk

Earlier this week I learned that you can’t get scotch bonnet peppers in Utah. I even went to a Caribbean and African “supermarket”. There were 3 almost-bare, dusty shelves and luckily they had a bottle of scotch bonnet sauce, it was worth the suspicious looks I received from the lady in a headdress running the store. I’ve wanted to make Jamaican Jerk chicken, and last night I decided to make it into a pizza. I feel like it was my first successful attempt at yummy, soft pizza dough. I feel so proud! I have a pizza stone (it was just cooling on a cookie sheet), but all of the sudden I want to go buy a pizza peel and make pizza all the time- margarita, pesto, alfredo, BBQ chicken…so many options. I think I want to have Pizza Fridays now at our house. Too much? Naw… that crust was too good. All you gotta do is say the word and we’ll let you in on the party. As long as you can handle the fact that your pizza might be rhombus shaped rather than circle...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Brad’s big 30 Birthday!

He’s just so wonderful, and I want to make sure you understand why.

Top 10 things about Brad: (Just in the order I happened to come up with them, not ranked by importance)

1. He is all my nieces and nephew’s rockstar, he is going to be such an amazing dad. Associated with this one is his ability to give my babies real Latin blood.

2. He is literally young at heart…okay, not literally, but seriously. He has the sense of humor of a little boy most of the time, and most of the time…it’s actually pretty funny.

3. He’s not satisfied with ordinary. In any aspect of his life- work, school…(although this one might not be a good thing), church, romance (hello, he proposed under the Brooklyn bridge without so much as asking me if I might be interested in marrying him at some point). He’s passionate about life, me too. I love that!

4. He’s smart. He called me from work once and just said “I thought you should know you married a really smart guy. I’m smart.” And he can do that, because he IS smart. Not just nerdy book smart, but street smart and all aspects of smart. I have confidence that this is the year he will earn his degree, this may never affect his success, but it’s still important, and I know he’ll do it. : )

5. He’s adventurous. Who else gets arrested in China while scalping tickets at the Beijing olymics, sneaks into Cuba with his future wife, and takes her to ride camels in Morocco for their honeymoon? I’m sure one day we’ll do some normal vacation, a cruise or something, but we both have the same desires to get off the beaten track when we travel, and I love that.

6. He’s smooth. He somehow managed to convince me he didn’t mind “just being friends” at the beginning of our dating relationship, I was so surprised by it, it made me want him.

7. He’s confident. Did I also mention after saying he was cool just being friends that he told me I’d one day realize what an awesome guy he was and want to date only him, and that he would wait around as long as it took me to figure that out? Because I was worth it? This goes back to the smooth one. But he’s so confident, without being cocky or trying to bring down others.

8. He’s a guy. Look up the definition of guy, it is synonymous with Brad. Loves to play sports, loves to watch sports, loves to watch other guys argue about sports. Leaves the toilet seat up. Is entertained when I accidentally sit into the inner rim of toilet because of this. Thinks logically, easily disconnecting emotion from decisions and conversation. Is perplexed when I am upset by his logical answers and statements. Thinks it's okay to lightly rinse his cereal bowl with water and use it for weeks.
I’m still getting used to living with a guy, and even though sometimes it makes me want to scream and go find some girls to eat chocolate with, shop, intimately discuss our lives and offer one another laughs and emotional support because we know just how each other feels, I’d have it no other way. Obviously, because I like guys. And brad is one of them. The best one, really. In my opinion. It’s a learning and growing process for us both and it’s fun. I live with a boy. It’s the way nature intended it to be, you see, we balance each other out. Together we make one awesome human being.

9. He’s a hustler. He’s got some of that red personality in him that makes him a leader. He makes things happen. (check out Zinch, he's a founder.) He’s not afraid to talk to anyone, about anything. He’d defend me if I wanted him to, even if I didn’t deserve it. I think this is important to me because its how my dad is and it’s awesome. When guys aren’t like that it makes them seem so wussy to me.

10. He’s cool AND spiritual. I was always looking for that. Not the "cool guy" RM who reverts back to lame highschool ways while forgetting everything learned in the mission. Maybe fun, but the clearly skewed priorities are a problem. Not the good-but-ultra-nerdy BYU boy with khaki cargo shorts, high white socks with tennis shoes, and a BYUSA t-shirt. A good guy, but not outside of the box enough for me. Brad- just right. Takes the gospel seriously, but still cool and fun. My vocab has gotten way less nerdy since marrying him. “I’m down with that.” (yeah, I'm a nerd...)
Happy Birthday mi Amor! I can’t believe I found someone with all the qualities I need in a guy to keep me happy forever. You know how to put up with me and my crazy ways, and that makes you a saint. You deserve an awesome birthday, and I will give that to you the best way I know how, with food mostly. : )


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