Thursday, July 30, 2009

Chicken & Sweetcorn Soup

Or: I poached a chicken for the first time, and it had no flavor.

The soup itself was really nice due to the corn and leek, but the chicken lacked flavor. I'm guessing that's because A) it was chicken breast which is pretty lean, and B) I accidentally used vegetarian chicken-LIKE gourmet chicken stock instead of the real deal. (Hey I had it in the pantry, and figured the other flavors could carry off the soup. They did, but the chicken flavor was just a bit lacking.) I would make again but probably with a bbq-ed chicken instead.

Serves 4-5 I'd say.

50g butter
2 leeks, washed and sliced
1 liter good-quality chicken stock
Kernels of 3 fresh corn cobs
2 chicken breast fillets (500g total), left whole
salt & black pepper
Handful fried shallots (in a jar, or fry yourself before the rest of the recipe), to garnish
1 red chili, seeded and sliced, to garnish
fresh coriander to garnish
crusty bread, to serve

1. Melt the butter in saucepan, add leeks and cook for about 3 mins until softened. (If you look in your pan and think "damn that's a lot of leek," you're on the right track, they will soften right down.) Add stock and bring to boil.
2. Add corn and chicken to pan and cook over gentle heat for about 10 mins, poaching chicken until cooked through. Remove chicken from pan and set aside on plate.
3. Blend soup, leaving some chunky pieces for texture if you like. Return soup to pan. Shred chicken with your fingers and return to pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with fried shallots, chili and coriander. Serve with crusty bread.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My Husband Cooked! Using a Recipe!

This is a first. We've been married for 15 months now and I have never seen my husband look at a recipe to cook. Not that everyone needs recipes, but in his case, not using one means we're either having spaghetti out of a can with curry powder added in, spaghetti bolognese using home-made meatballs of questionable quality and flavor (I love you!) or something he refers to as mock-fish. (Small tangent: I've mentioned it before but "mock-fish" is essentially hash browns. I don't know why it's acceptable for him to serve hash browns and only hash browns for dinner when they are labeled as "mock-fish" but when I suggest having a true breakfast with eggs, pancakes and bacon for dinner he makes it clear that this is not a pleasing option. The wonders of a cross-cultural marriage.)

Anyway, this past weekend he took it upon himself to look up two recipes online, print them out, buy the ingredients, and make them. Will wonders never cease! (Oh yes, 15 months of marriage is all it takes for this level of thinly veiled cooking resentment to build!)

In reality, I'm actually very proud of him! His first creation was the following Spicy Lentil and Chorizo Soup, made with those ingredients plus tomatoes and onions. It was delicious!! It wasn't thick and potatoey which is kind of what we were both craving with this cold weather but it hit the spot anyway, which was a surprise. I love tomatoes and chorizo so really, he couldn't go wrong with this one.

Photo: Chris Court
Spicy Lentil and Chorizo Soup Recipe

Next, oddly, he chose a chocolate cake. His first made from scratch actually. So even though it turned out dry I was very impressed. In the end we decided that the mousse recipe for the icing would go nicely on either a made-from-box cake or on top of the fresh pineapple in the fridge because it's luscious and chocolaty, but the cake base itself wasn't a winner. Photo: Con Poulos
Classic Chocolate Cake Recipe

Favorite quote of the evening from him: "I'm sure it will get better if we just leave it in the fridge uncovered."

My husband comes from a group of people who like to refrigerate their chocolate. I find this practice abhorrent on a visceral level. (Can't you just tell by those SAT words I put in there?!)

I understand when it's 115F outside that the need for this might arise, but in the middle of winter I cannot and will not do such a thing. Especially to a chocolate cake that required my asking several times, "are you sure you put the right amount of butter in here" as dry crumbs shot out of my mouth.

We're able to joke about our different preferences though, and he said to me shortly after, "Oh I just like the way it makes a nice dry crust around the outside of cakes when you refrigerate them."

Sadly, he's not joking; he would like a nice dry crust on his cake, but fortunately he compromised and we stored it inside the microwave.

Our Wedding Photo Teasers!

Our wedding photographer was the amazing Frank Amodo. His work was recently published in Pacific Weddings Magazine : those photos in his blog. You can also view his blog through my sidebar because I follow him :)

Here is the link to our teaser page.

If you're getting married in Hawaii I highly highly recommend Frank!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are!

Oh excitement. I remember seeing this trailer a few months ago and thinking, "yesssssssss" but this time I actually remembered to look up the music and such when I got home.

Now I'm sure some of us 80's babies remember this one....

They are re-making Maurice Sendak's classic children's book Where the Wild Things Are into a movie! With monsters and real people, and if I can judge by the trailer a possibly awesome soundtrack. Weeee!

Where the Wild Things are - trailer

The trailer song is "Wake Up" by Arcade Fire, who I don't think I've ever listened to willingly before, but you can bet this song is going to take me to work and back today :) I love finding new music and movies to look forward to, no matter how silly.

Friday, July 17, 2009

How was your day?

I was kicked in the head (repeatedly) at work on Tuesday. Now don't get me wrong, I've been kicked in the shin, spit on, and headlocked by 6 foot 3 clients before (all in the past 2 months), but this was different. Usually I work with adults, but this was a little boy. Usually I'm not terrified. Usually I'm not alone. Usually I don't have to fight back.

This was different.

I was terrified, I was alone, and I tried to beat the hell out of the little brat in order to defend myself. (Quite unsuccessfully.)

I won't go into the full details of my day but I'll just describe the incident itself. I was sitting in the van, parked, with 2 clients while the other staff member popped into the store quickly to grab something for one of the clients to drink. (Shall we call him the perpetrator? Is that a little too dramatic?) While we sat there, I was in the middle seat buckled next to a little 6 year old client, and behind me sat a much bigger approximately 12 year old client. (He was taller than myself, but that's not saying much.)

He was pretty irritated because we had gone to do a children's activity where there were LOTS of other kids because it was school holidays and raining, so the park was out of the question. We had to leave early before he had a "meltdown." (Code term at my workplace which means: do something shitty. This ranges from running across a street half naked into oncoming traffic, screaming in a public place in such a manner as to make other people question parenting and/or caregiver skills, or attacking someone.)

As we sat in the car I was helping the other boy to sort out his lunch, peel his orange, etc. The "perps" dad hadn't packed a full lunch for him, as he requested we just grab him some "hot chips and a coke." (Absolutely no comment on how many times a week I hear this comment.) While the other staff was grabbing him a coke I turned around to offer him a slice of the other little boy's orange.

Wrong move, apparently. He instantly grabbed my right arm with both his hands and a look came over his face that I can only akin to the look my dog gets right before he runs throughout the whole house covered in mud and carrying something he's found outside in the dirt.

I asked him to please let go of my arm. He took the orange slice so I relaxed a little bit, but wouldn't let go and then thew the orange towards the front of the van. I asked him again to let go. His grip tightened. Starting to get a bit worried, but failing to hide the strain in my voice, I asked him again. He proceeded to start screaming, and put his legs up on the back of my seat, on either side of my head and began kicking with full force. I tried to stand up but was buckled in, and my pulling on his arm only brought his legs closer to my head and face. I turned away from him and this only made him aim at the back of my head with his legs. I began screaming at full lung capacity. "LET GO OF MY ARM!" over and over again.

(All of this with the van door wide open in an extremely busy parking lot, but with no bystander intervention.)

It is truly a miracle that I didn't curse at the boy because I do curse like a sailor, but that's besides the point. At this point I started to do the only thing I could think of: digging my nails into his arm. This was unsuccesful.

Finally, the boy slipped and kicked the 6 year old in the head.

After that I don't remember what happened, I only know that I must have unbuckled my seat belt and done some extreme lurching because the next thing I knew I was carrying the little boy out of the van, had sustained a sprained hamstring, and the other staff member was back shortly thereafter.

She asked if everything was ok because I was putting the other little boy upfront.

I was shaking and shaking (but not yet crying) and told her what had happened. I'm shaking again as I write this, but at least I'm not crying anymore.

After we got back (we can't drop the boys off before 3:15 because there is no facility for them to sit and wait or play, so we had to just drive around for the next several hours with very irritated boys in the car) we made an incident report about what had happened.

I drove home crying. I got home and cried some more. I called my mom at 2 AM in Texas and cried to her (a rarity for me). I went to my media make-up course and cried when someone asked "How was your day?" I got home and saw my husband and cried to him. I went to training the next day and found another supervisor at work to tell again what had happened in more detail, and cried to her. And then I told her I won't be doing those shifts anymore, but that if they had another position in a different capacity I would think about that.

They offered me counseling of course because I looked like an insane person, but this happens all the time at that workplace; I declined. The woman I spoke to in detail told me it would happen again, it always happens again, she just couldn't tell me when. I told her that given I normally work with adults, if this had been one of them, I wouldn't have any teeth at the moment, so I think I'll call it a day.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Slow Cooked Lamb Shank Pasta with Pesto

I love you DH!

I won't post the recipe I'll just link to it because this one is available online. And yeah, my picture isn't that great but dammit I slow-cooked lamb for 2 hours! I made pesto by hand! I found buffalo mozzarella! and it was delicious....

I'm pretty sure it was a heart-attack in a bowl due to all the fat melting into the sauce, but it's worth it. And besides today I made that chickpea and spinach dish (previous post) to help cleanse the arteries out.

I normally don't really like lamb, unless it's in a kebab/gyro in Germany covered in garlic sauce, but this was pretty tasty.

Sauteed Spinach and Mushrooms with Chickpeas and Poached Egg

A Quick Veggie Dish:

Inspired by-
Shauna's Chickpea and Spinach Fry

olive oil and/or butter
1 clove garlic chopped
1 container sliced mushrooms
1 400g can chickpeas
1 bag fresh spinach
juice of 2 freshly squeezed mandarins
salt and pepper
poached egg

1. Heat olive oil in a frying pan. Lightly fry the garlic for a minute.
2. Add the mushrooms, and some slivers of butter to help them moisten. Wait until these are almost all the way cooked, then add the chickpeas and warm through.
3. Add the spinach and wilt down.
4. Add the mandarin juice, salt and pepper.
5. Top with poached egg.