Saturday, September 17, 2011

Well I suck!

Sigh..... I'm not sure how I managed to mess this up but I did!  When I put up my post the other day for this year's Sock It To Me, I managed to thank the WRONG person!!

I thanked Rebekah Rose at Making Miracles for my socks when in reality I SENT socks to Rebekah Rose.
My wonderful, warm, GREAT socks were sent to me by Francie from Francie Speaks where she writes about her infertility journey.

So thank you Francie from the bottom of my socks!

How NOT to greet a house guest

We are babysitting "Rainbow-Butterfly" (owned by a recently turned 5 year old girl) for the weekend.  Of course Buster had to be the official family greeter!  We have since found Rainbow-Butterfly a very nice lid for her tank... just in case.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Daring Kitchen - Stock-Soup-Consommé

This month's daring kitchen was almost as much science and magic as it was cooking!
Blog-checking lines: Peta, of the blog Peta Eats, was our lovely hostess for the Daring Cook’s September 2011 challenge, “Stock to Soup to Consommé”. We were taught the meaning between the three dishes, how to make a crystal clear Consommé if we so chose to do so, and encouraged to share our own delicious soup recipes!

I started out by making beef stock.  I then turned that into French Onion soup.  We liked it so much that we used all stock and didn't have any left to try and make Consommé.  Peta also gave us an added challenge to make a side to go with our soups/consommés.  I bake fairly often so it's not really a challenge, so I decided to go with something different that I had never made from scratch - Caesar Salad.

I was very intrigued by the science of making consommé.
A consommé is usually (and traditionally) made by adding egg whites with ground meats or fish (no bones) and/or vegetables for flavour to a base of good quality stock. These solids form a floating mass called a 'raft', which is caused by the protein in the egg whites adhering to each other forming a fine matrix with many small cavities. The consommé is then gently simmering for 45 minutes to over an hour which percolates the liquid through the raft which captures and filters out the impurities of the liquid leaving a clear flavoursome consommé.
I really had very little belief that this was going to work. I made a second stock, chicken this time, for the sole purpose of making consommé. I caramalized more onions and finished them with Cognac.  I added that to my stock and reduced it, giving it a nice, rich flavour.

I then prepared my egg whites, cooked and cooled my ground meat, added in some crushed ice and poured the whole disgusting mess into my stock.  And I waited.  It took it a very long time to come back up to a simmer, and I don't think I ever got what I would call a "raft".  More of a floating, foaming, gross looking mound of ground meat.

But slowly the magic took over! I could start to see clear broth through the holes in my "raft".  After about 40 minutes of simmering I started to ladle out the consommé, very carefully!  I strained it through cheese cloth to catch any stray bits of egg and meat.

And Voilà ! I had made consommé.  Not only was it clear, it had the most delicious intense flavouring.

The difference between the stock and the consommé was amazing!

Be sure to check out all the other Daring Cooks Stock-Soup-Consomme posts at The Daring Kitchen.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sock It To Me

The week of September 12, 2011 is Sock It to Me Week.

It was started by Kym at The Smartness in 2009 for people because the "warmth you feel from your bloggy support is a warm and fuzzy pair of snuggly socks." You sign up, get matched with a blogger and then send them a pair of socks. It's a great way to start reading new blogs and it gives us a chance to reflect on the support that you get from other people through your blog:
Here is the topic of your post: It has been roughly a year and a half since the last SITM Exchange. Reflect on the past 18 or so months – how has support from others, either in the blogosphere or otherwise, helped you?
I started this blog in February 2008 as a fun way to waste some time and maybe update friends on a few things that were going on in my life.  Adoption quickly became a common topic as I navigated my way through my own "reunion" with Iris and as I tried to find my way as a parent in what was supposed to be an open adoption but turned out not to be. Liam, school, parenting and ADHD are other topics that I've written about.  Lately I've had more cooking/food type posts and the introduction of Gary in our family has made for some ahem humorous posts.

The common theme through all of my posts has been the support I've gotten.  Friends, people I've never met in real life (well, except Heather!) have been here for me through the death of my father, difficult parenting moments, Liam's ADHD and learning disorder diagnosis.  They've especially been here this summer for me as I dealt with the end of my relationship with Iris, my first mother. They've laughed at my goofs, and suggested ideas to make things better. 

I really do feel that the support I get from blogging, other online support sites, and even the time sucking social networking site that shall remain nameless, is really  like a warm and fuzzy pair of socks! There is something wonderful about a virtual hug sent from across the world or just across town when you need it most to help you get through the current crisis of the day.  And now I have a wonderful new pair of real socks to keep my toe-toes warm this winter!

My socks arrived last week in one of the BIGGEST boxes possible!  I was really not expecting it to be my SITM socks, but hey! there they were!  

My socks were sent to me by Rebekah Rose at Making Miracles.  Rebekah is a gestational surrogate, and is currently pregnant with twins for her intended parents.  

And while I suspect that Rebekah wouldn't have much use for wool socks where she lives, they are very much appreciated here in Nova Scotia!

Be sure to check out all the other SITM entries by visiting The Smartness this week.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Someone has a cold

Don't you feel better when someone tucks you in with a nice blanket on the couch when you're sick?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A young old

Today Liam starts grade three, or as his school refers to them, he is a young old. I hope he has a fabulous year!

Monday, September 5, 2011

How I almost killed Gary*

It was every parents nightmare.  What had I done?  What should I do?  How was I going to tell Liam?

It started out so innocently.  I was wandering the aisles of a store when I got to the pet section.  The decorations for aquariums beckoned to me.  Gary's tank seemed rather plan and brown, and I thought that it would be a nice surprise for Liam if I bought something to liven it up with.  They had some lovely castles in bright blues and greens.  Liam and Hilary are working their way through the Harry Potter books, so I thought the tie in of a castle would be a nice touch.

I brought it home and washed it.  After all I didn't want any dust or chemicals to hurt Gary.  That's me, always thinking!  I put it in the tank and introduced Gary to it.  He sat on the edge looking cute and I even snapped some pictures**.

I'm not sure when it happened or how I even noticed.  Geckos are nocturnal creatures that like to hole up in caves and hiding spots during the day.  I had missed a key problem with the castle.  It was hollow, empty all the way to the top of the turret.  Can you see where this is going?

Gary in all his gecko-ness climbed up into the castle.  At first it seemed okay, he was just hanging out.  But as time passed, he climbed higher and higher and there didn't seem to be any way to get him out.  I tried turning it on it's side and at Hilary's suggestion (always the voice of calm and reason) just ignoring him.  Luckily Liam was out on a play date during all of this.  My level of anxiety would have surely pushed him over the edge.

As the night wore on and it was getting closer to the time that Liam would be home I started to panic.  When I turned the castle over to check on Gary he was BENT IN HALF - the tip of his tail lying beside his nose.  He was as far up the turret as possible and in a section that was so narrow that I thought for sure he was stuck there for ever.  We tried enticing / poking him with a chop stick to see if that would encourage him to come out, but nope, he was either wedged in or quite happy where he was.  I did not want to find out which it was!  So I did the most logical thing I could think of.  I burst into hysterical tears!  I was positive that I had killed Liam's pet, doomed it to die a slow and painful death stuck in a tower while Liam watched on in horror.  What kind of parent kills their child's pet?  Would Liam ever recover from that?  He still mourns the loss of his $0.25 goldfish that died 6 years ago.

Hilary was still the voice of calm and reason, albeit at a slightly higher octave then before.  She told me to get a gripe of myself and that the gecko was NOT going to die and that we would fix this.  Through my sobs and hiccups I suggested that Hilary give the castle a really good shake in a last ditch effort to dislodge Gary.

WOOT WOOT!  Gary came flying out of castle and landed in his tank, unharmed but rather perturbed at being so unceremoniously dumped out.  I sank to the chair in relief, vowing that the castle would never find it's way near Gary ever again.

Liam came home soon after and is none the wiser of Gary's adventures.  Gary was a little skittish when Liam picked him up the next day, but has fully recovered since then.  And the castle?  It's being used as a lovely bookend in the living room.

* I promise that this is not going to become a herp blog and that we will return to our regular programming soon.

**All pictures have been destroyed because Liam must NEVER know about any of this.