Monday, July 25, 2011

Indulge Me for A Mere 3 Minutes Please!

 I know that some people despise watching other people's kids show off on videos, so feel free to skip this post if you are one of those people. Sara Beth is learning so fast, and I am always amazed at her. I'm not the best at documenting all that I should on video, but I catch things when I can. Today, we filmed her building with blocks. When I watch this video, I find myself cheering her on. "Go, SB! Just turn the block a little to the right and it will snap on for you." Anyway, I'm a proud mama! Please indulge me and watch 3 minutes of my girl doing her thing! :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Farewell Friend Dinner

     One of our long-time friends, Yancey, is just a few days away from moving to the opposite side of the world. He sold almost everything he owned and bought a ticket to New Zealand. Believe me, a trip to visit him is already in the works in my head. We invited him over for a farewell dinner of sorts. He's an adventurous eater, like us, so I cooked up some of my favorite. . . Indian food. I didn't take pictures, but here are the recipes.
     The main dish was an eggplant curry of my own creation. It's one of those dishes that I threw together off the cuff one night and it ended up being so yummy that I've made it again and again.
Brandi's Eggplant Curry
1 eggplant, cubed
1 onion, diced
1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, diced
1 inch ginger root, grated
1 serrano, seeded and diced
1 large tomato, diced
4 oz. tomato sauce
2 cups chicken broth
juice from 1/2 of a lemon or lime
1 TBS each (garam masala, mild curry powder, hot curry powder)
salt & pepper
cilantro for garnish
1. Saute veggies in butter and oil, adding garlic and ginger toward the end so it won't burn. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Push veggies to the side of the pan and cook the spices for a few seconds. Then mix it all together.
3. Add tomato sauce and half of broth. Simmer until the curry thickens up. Then, add the remaining broth and simmer until it's the consistency that you like.
4. Right before serving, add the citrus juice and the cilantro.
5. Serve it alongside basmati rice. Here's a quick run down of how to make fabulous Indian rice. Toast whole spices (like cumin, coriander, cardamom, and cinnamon) in a little oil. Then add one cup of basmati rice and toast it a bit in the same spiced oil. Pour in 2 cups of boiling water. Turn down heat to a simmer. Cover pan with foil and then the lid. No peeking. 10 minutes on low. 10 minutes off heat but still covered. Remember, no peeking. Fluff with a fork. Yum!

     Alongside my eggplant curry, I served these delicious lentils from Food Network's Aarti Sequeira. Here's the recipe for Mum's Everyday Red Lentils. The spicy oil that you add at the end is the best part!

     Now on to dessert, which was not Indian at all. Thanks to our friends, the Reneaus, we had a bunch of freshly picked figs from the tree in their backyard. I drained some plain yogurt to thicken it up. If you've never done that before, you should. It's delicious and thick and creamy. Add some local honey and toasted almonds and you've got one great finish to the meal.

     Adam made spicy chai to sip with dessert. I love chai! I miss Rama's chai from our favorite Indian restaurant. No one can make it like her! Adam's is the closest I've had, but it's always a work in progress, getting tweaked and adjusted until it's just right.

So, farewell Yancey! Safe travels! And I hope you enjoyed dinner! We loved having you over.

Quick Trip to the Southwest

     I'm not going to lie. . . I REALLY miss traveling. We'll get back to it one day, but for now, this little trip will have to suffice. So, Adam needed a truck with a back seat so that he could take Sara Beth everywhere. We usually just go in my car, but since I'll be starting back to work soon, we thought it was important that Adam have a functional vehicle. Lucky for us, his friend, Nate, was selling his Toyota Tacoma in New Mexico. Sure, we could've bought a truck in town, but where is the adventure in that? :) So, while SB spent some time with the grands, we took a one way flight to Albuquerque, had some adventures while we were there, and then drove the new (to us anyway) truck back to Shreveport.
     Day 1- We purchased Nate's truck and then hung out with him and his fiance, Mary, at their home. They treated us to a delicious home-cooked dinner of ribs, corn on the cob, and some seriously yummy mashed potatoes. They graciously allowed us to stay with them while we were in town too!
     Day 2- We ate breakfast at Frontier Restaurant where we had our first, but not last, experience with New Mexican chile. Then, we worked off all those calories by doing some hiking. We explored petroglyphs in Piedras Marcadas Canyon and then headed over to hike among extinct volcanoes at the Volcanoes Day Use Area. We had lunch at Flying Star Cafe in the Nob Hill neighborhood. The food was overpriced, but really good. They pride themselves on using local produce in all their dishes. After lunch, we shopped at the farmer's market that was going on around the corner. It was a very different experience than the Shreveport Farmer's Market. It was teeny tiny, but so interesting. There were lots of little lettuces, currants, carrots, and breads for sale. I was dying to buy something, so we bought a big loaf of brioche to give to our sweet hosts. Dinner that night was pizza and cannoli at Saggios with Nate and Mary.
Petroglyphs at Piedras Marcadas Canyon

I thought this one looked like a kangaroo.

Hiking up the first volcano. Obviously, I was working hard! :)

I was amazed at how completely flat the landscape was right up to the volcanoes.

     Day 3- We took at sunrise hot air balloon flight with Rainbow Ryders. It was beautiful, despite the smoke from the nearby fires! Then we explored the Natural History Museum. I think the dinosaurs were my favorite, but doesn't everyone love a good dinosaur? Lunch was at 2000 Vietnam Restaurant (a recommendation from Mary's son). We adore Vietnamese food, and this restaurant did not disappoint. We ended the meal with an avocado tapioca shake. I know it sounds disgusting, but trust me, I'd order it again in a heartbeat! We spent the afternoon at REI and Performance Bicycles. Why do we torture ourselves by looking at cool stuff that is WAY out of our price range? Then we window shopped in the Nob Hill area and had the best coffee at Satellite Coffee. I had a "Dirty Chai" which is chai tea with a shot of espresso in it. Sounds weird, but tastes awesome! The day came to a close with a New Mexican dinner at Sadie's with our friends.  

Adam got to help inflate the balloon.

Up in the air

Two kissing balloons

Our shadow on the not so Rio Grande.

Adam enjoying the slightly smoky view.

     Day 4- On our last morning in Albuquerque we treated Nate (Mary was under the weather a bit) to a plate of blue corn pancakes with homemade butter at Sophia's Place which was featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives on Food Network. After we filled our bellies with deliciousness, we hit the road, on our way to Palo Duro Canyon in Texas. Four hours later, we arrived to EXTREME temperatures. Did you notice how I wrote that in all caps? EXTREME. . . like 125 degrees in the shade and over 140 in the sun. So what do you do in heat like that? Well, you hike, of course! We are stupid sometimes, I know. This was one of those times. I made it about a mile on the trail before we had to turn back. I really felt like I was going to pass out. I can't even explain how hot it was! I'd love to visit the canyon again one day in cooler weather. It's a beautiful area to behold! That evening, we had tickets to see the show "Texas". It's a musical about the history of Texas. Sounds cheesy, right? Well, the stage is right in the middle of the canyon so the background is beautiful. It was fun for all and a great way to spend the evening. We stayed overnight at a hotel in Amarillo.
You heard that right. . . 125 degrees of hotness!

We saw this thermometer after our hike

Scenic overlook from the top of the canyon.

Day 5- Driving, driving, and more driving. That's all folks! We made it back home and were sooooo happy to see sweet SB again after 5 days apart! She probably had so much fun at Nonni and Opa's and then at Nana and Papaw's that she forgot to miss us much.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

It's A Small World

Nanette and Sara Beth cooling off in the pool
     My friend, Madeline, invited us over Friday for a morning of splashing in the baby pool. She lives just a few blocks away and has the sweetest little girl, Nanette. SB doesn't have many girl friends so we especially love playing with Nanette when we can. Madeline also invited another one of her friends from the neighborhood, Carolina, along with her little boy, Felix. After discovering that Felix and SB share the same birthday, May 1, 2010, we realized that we delivered our babies in the same hospital too. I laughed and said, "You probably heard me. I think I was pretty loud." Carolina said, "That was you?" Apparently, I was the reason that she got an epidural. She said she was considering going sans medication until she heard me. If natural childbirth sounded like that, she didn't want anything to do with it! It really is a small world after all.

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