Saturday, March 31, 2012

Tae Kwon Do

Liam and I have started Tae Kwon Do.  Liam was very excited to get his uniform this morning, especially his belt.   This is the first sport/activity that he has done that he is excited to go to every time, and genuinely disappointed when it's cancelled.  I think we might be in for the long haul with this one.

Ahn Young Hee Kah Say Yo

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Le chat et la lune

Liam has never been a fan of French, so we were very surprised to find out that he has signed up for the lead role in his French play.  He plays the cat who thinks that the moon has fallen from the sky and is trapped in the pond.  I was very pleased to go over his lines with him this week to find out that he not only knew them, but could pronounce most of them and understood what he was saying!  

This is a far cry from the little boy who used to put his hand over my mouth when I spoke French to him, while he wailed "No French Mama! Engish!! Engish Mama!!"

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Daring Kitchen - Braising

Blog-checking lines: The March, 2012 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Carol, a/k/a Poisonive – and she challenged us all to learn the art of Braising! Carol focused on Michael Ruhlman’s technique and shared with us some of his expertise from his book “Ruhlman’s Twenty”. 

When I first read about braising, it sounded a lot like boiling food.  But it really isn't just that.  In fact for the recipe that I made, I only used 1 cup of liquid to cook 3.5 pounds of meat.  The key to braising is to slowly cook the food and to use acids (orange juice in this case) to break down the connective tissues, making the meat very tender.

Carol provided us with several recipe options, and I chose to make "Pork Belly with Caramel Miso Sauce". Either be daring or get out of the kitchen!

I was pleased to find out that our local grocery store sold pork belly.  But when I got there, they had it all sliced up like bacon, which is what pork belly really is, just not smoked or cured.  Luckily the butcher had more in the back and was able to cut me a chunk.

I dry roasted some coriander seeds and peppercorns to add to the braising liquid.

Along with the spices I added onion, garlic, bay leaves and 1 cup of orange juice.  I then covered the pot with tin foil and put it in a 250 oven and let it cook for six hours.  The smell by hour 4 was divine!

Pork belly has a thick layer of fat on the top, much of which cooked down during the braising process.  The meat was so tender when it finished cooking, that you could not have taken it out of the pot without it falling apart.  The good thing is that the next step was to refrigerate it for up to 5 days, which allowed the fat to congeal.  This meant that I could easily scrape off the extra fat as well as take the meat out and cut it into cubes without it disintegrating.

A cut up cube ready to be seared.  Notice the thick layer of fat on top.

Pork belly is best served seared, with a nice crispy outside to all the edges.  

I finished it off with a caramel-miso sauce glaze that is to die for.  We will be trying this sauce out on many other meats.  I served the finished product with garlic mashed potatoes and mixed sautéed greens.

Overall, another successful challenge from The Daring Kitchen.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Out of my comfort zone

I do not do well with new places, people or situations.  I hate going anywhere for the first time.  I`m generally very shy and I certainly don`t like to be the center of attention.

So how did I end up in a gym, in track pants (something that only gets worn as far as the end of the driveway on garbage day, and never in public), with a group of people I`ve never met (all of whom were under 10 years old), while being watched by 20 grown up strangers who sat around the edge of the room chatting?

I blame the new phenomenon of Groupon, Team Buy, Wag Jag.....  They offer these amazing deals for the things that you didn`t even know you needed.

This week they had an AMAZING deal, SAVE $180.00, 90% OFF!  How could I turn it down?

$20.00 for 20 sessions of Tae Kwon Do, held in a church basement less then 2 blocks from my house.  That`s a dollar a lesson!  When would I ever get a better deal?

When I first saw the offer, I of course thought of Liam.  This would be something that he would love to do.  But I worried that he would not understand that this was not ``Ninja Lessons`` and that he would not have licence to go out and start bar fights with his new skills.  So I had the BRILLIANT idea of taking the lessons with him.  After all, I`m trying to get in shape and lose weight, so it would be a win-win.  And it was only 20 bucks! If we hated it, oh well, no big loss.

And that is how I ended up in a gym, doing push-ups, jumping jacks and laps with a bunch of kids.  The 20 minute warm up nearly killed me, with kids passing me and having much better form with their push ups (but I am proud to say I did do 2 full push-ups, not even on my knees!)  Then the actual Tae Kwon Do started.  And you know what?  I had fun.  Kicking, punching, blocking.  Who knew?  I forgot that I was a foot and a half taller then everyone and even blocked out the bored parents sitting around the room waiting for their kids to be done.  I was in the ZONE.  Liam had a great time too and is ready to go back tomorrow.  I might need a slightly longer recovery time.  His only disappointment is that we don`t get  uniforms till we sign up for regular classes.  Since he wants to go 3 times a week, we`ll work through our 20 sessions pretty quick and he can get his coveted white belt.  My only clothing concern is that I need to invest in a better bra!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lego Stop -Motion

Liam goes to a really great, think out of the box, school!  For his first novel study, he had to do a final project, and it would seem that they were given pretty open interpretations to what they could do.  So Liam decided to make a stop motion Lego movie.

The novel he had read was called "The Moon Robber" and in this scene the 3 children enter a toy store, feel what seems like an earthquake and then a magic door opens leading to a magic world. If you watch really carefully, you will see that the door is open at the very end.

Liam had a great time making this movie and I forsee a great number of stop-motion movies in our future!