Monday, March 31, 2008

I fought the law and the law won

As some of you may know, when traveling on the highway, my foot is often made of lead. I have caught myself going 90 on our way to Boston. I don't consciously try to break the law so badly, I just don't like to be behind other drivers. That, and I love the feel to power of our seven year old Hyundai. There have been a handful of times when I have zoomed past a state police car, feeling sure that they just clocked me going 80-something but they never pulled me over. Until Saturday. We were making our way to NYC to attend an art show that included the film of a friend of ours. I was driving so husband could finish his book for his bookclub. I wasn't really paying attention to my speed and I don't think I was going that much faster than other drives, but at this one instance I was traveling at 81 mph in a 65 zone. As I drove past the turn around and noticed the cop I had the same feeling in my stomach that I had finally been caught. When I noticed that I was only going 80 or so I felt better. I mean, I wouldn't get pulled over for going only 80, right. Surely they would wait until I reached the 90 mph point.

Then the lights started flashing, urging me to pull over. I had never had to do that. I didn't know if there were any special rules for when you get pulled over. Husband sat quietly, turned off the ipod and pulled the registration from the glove box. The officer asked if there was any particular reason I was going 81 in a 65 mph zone. I had control of my mouth enough not to say, "Because I had just had to slow down due to the heavier traffic. They really need to do something about that so this doesn't happen again" and instead said something about just moving along with traffic. He took my license and registration and went back to his car, presumably to check for outstanding warrants. He came back without too much delay and asked me to do him a favor and slow down. Which I did. So since I did him this favor and slowed down, does that mean that there is now a state patrolman in Westchester county who owes me a favor?

The City was good. We'll add some photos later, but for now is sufficeth me to say that I had a deep fried mars bar (much like a milky way) for lunch, and Magnolia's cupcakes for dessert. Even a ticket couldn't have ruined a day that included such goodies.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Who's With Me?

This week's dream--cooking school in Mexico. I like to cook and since I am working on perfecting my corn tortillas I think I'm ready to enroll. Maybe a trip to Oaxaca where I can take a few days' worth of lessons. And get in touch with my ancestors-in-law.

I have tossed the idea around and the most usual response is disbelief that I would want to go to Mexico. People say that I won't even be able to drink the water there so why would I want to cook with it? I just tell them that I've drunk water from the Green River in southern Utah and I was fine. Lost 10 pounds overnight but no lingering affects.

So that's where I'm leaning to celebrate the big 3-0.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Cafe Rio a la Matt

Okay so we've held out on you guys for far too long. Well that's not entirely true if you checked out our recipe team's blog you would have had these recipes a long time ago. But since most of you don't follow are every move like you should you haven't had these recipes. So, without much further ado I give you Cafe Rio-lite recipes (with all credit to Matt who first posted them yadayadayada, except for the flour tortilla recipe which is a family trademark (all rights reserved) and my only tie to my ancestral Mexican roots (happily my new found Finnish culinary roots are completely absent from my pallet)).

Monty's Flour Tortillas
3 Cups Flour
1 Tsp (or so) Salt
1 Tsp (or so) Baking Powder
2 Tbsp (golf ball sized) soft butter
1/4 Cup Oil (I prefer olive but some find the taste too strong)
1 Cup Warm Water

Mix the dry ingredients together. Cut in the butter so that it's thoroughly mixed. Add oil and mix well (flour mixture should be a little clumpy at this point). Add water mix thoroughly into dough. Knead thoroughly and let rest for 10 minutes. Divide dough into golf ball size pieces and roll out as thin as desired. Please note that they'll never be perfectly round. Cook on high heat on a cast iron griddle (crepe or other flat pan will work if necessary). Flip when tortilla begins to bubble (10-20 seconds). Remove soon after flipping. Stack on top of each other and cover with towel to keep moist.

I have to admit that while this is loosely based on my great-grandma Alvina's recipe (such a cool name) it was modified by my friend Karla. I find the modifications make it a bit lighter. Also I'm glad that I don't have to cook with lard in this version.

Mexican Chicken
5 lbs chicken breast, boneless, skinless
1 sm bottle zesty italian dressing
1 T chili powder
1 T cumin
3 cloves garlic, minced

Mix all ingred together in a large crock pot. Cook on high for 5-7 hours. Remove chicken and shred. Reserve a small amount of juice and pour over shredded chicken. Keep warm.

I love this recipe. It's the only way that Wife and I will eat Mexican Chicken at this point and is absolutely wonderful cooked enchilada style!

Mexican Pork
3.5 lbs pork roast
1 bottle taco sauce (8 oz)
1 T cumin
1 C brown sugar
1 can Coke (not diet)

Cook pork in pot on low for 6 hours (cover roast 1/2 with water. I cooked for a couple of hours on high and switched to low, that made it shred easier; also, when you add the other ingredients, please take out some of the water, leaving only about ½ in. in the bottom of the pot). Add ingred. to pork 3 hours before it is done.

You can also do this with Dr.Pepper instead of Coke if you're feeling daring. I found it a bit too sweet with D.P. but some of you might like it.

in a saucepan, saute:
2 T butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced

In a large pot, bring to a boil the following:
6 2/3 cups water
8 t chicken buillion
1/2 bunch cilantro chopped
2 tsp cumin
2 sm cans diced green chilies
1 T lime juice
1/2 t pepper
3 cups of rice (maybe a half cup more, you'll have to play with it)

This makes a buttload of rice. Just be warned, you will have leftovers.

Pico de Gallo
4 fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 white onion, chopped
1/4 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t lime juice
1 t salt1/2 t pepper

1 pkg Hidden Valley Buttermilk Ranch Dressing mix
1 C buttermilk
1 C Mayo
1 to 2 tomatillos
1/2 to 1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 to 1/3 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/2 t lime juice
1/2 to 1 small jalapeno, seeds removed!

And now for my new favorite band. I hate having to put you guys through the fickleness of my musical tastes, but I swear this band is one of the best I've heard in ages. Plus this video's just cool. Enjoy Malajube's "Montreal-40 C".

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Mexican Identity Crisis

First off thanks for the Tripps for the cool widget. Although it probably over inflates my already over inflated ego. Does that make me a super-ego? I never did understand Freud.

On to my current crisis. For those of you who didn't know, in college I dated a Finn...That is an individual from Finland...Finland is in Europe...That's east of Boston for some of you less cartographically inclined readers.

Now the Finns are an interesting people. Their language is impossibly difficult. In fact it would probably be easier to learn to juggle without hands than to learn that language. I'm amazed their children can even learn it. Astrid you live next to Finland, couldn't you Swedes have done something during your centuries of domination to eradicate that language?

Besides the linguistic problems other difficulties existed in that relationship. Notable on the list was what can be described as a fierce ethno-nationalism amongst the populace that sometimes borders on xenophobic racism. Oh the fact that I kissed Wife before I broke up with Finland-Girl might have been another strain on the relationship, but I digress, race was the main issue. As with most Finns, Finland-Girl was fair skinned despite her dark hair. I on the other hand look like I'm either coming from a Bar Mitzvah or a Ramadan celebration. Needless to say her father wasn't pleased with the prospect of her dating me.

I mean honestly I look like a rabbinical student.

My ethnic ambiguity has actually been a source of great pride for me. Quite like our friend Sina I have been blessed with the ability to "pass" in nearly country bordering the Mediterranean and not look like a tourist. Indeed I've taken pride in my Franco-Scots-Mexican heritage to the point that I might have made a tiny oversight in my genealogical research. While my dad's family is 50% Scottish and 49% French (1% other, we don't like to talk about them (Irish)), my mom's family is 25% Mexican. Of course I tend to forget about that remaining 25%, largely because they've been in American since before the Revolution. I just assumed that they were English and quite frankly who pays attention to the English.

How surprised was I then to get the results from the mitochondrial DNA sample that my sister sent in to the Genographic Project (greatest Christmas present ever). For those of you not familiar with the Genographic Project they basically take DNA samples from you and trace the most dominant genetic line. For women this means they sample your mitochondrial DNA which is passed from mother to daughter. This means that they can trace the dominant female line genetically and based on mutations in your genetic code they can determine where people with your genotype constitute a large proportion of the population. Thus they can tell you fairly accurately where that line came from. They do a similar thing with men but using the Y-chromosome. Here're my results (okay actually my sister's but we're fairly confident we have the same mother):

As you can see, I quite clearly was dating my cousin in college. I must ask though if I have to have Scandinavian blood in my veins why can't I be one of the cool viking ethnicities like the Swedes or Danes. Why the Finns? They're like the Welsh or Arkansans of Scandinavia.

Here's another Matt Costa video. This guy rocks, thanks Ty.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Problem With Daylight Savings Time and Cooking

Okay so it's 1:15 AM (yes that exists) and do you know what your husband is doing? Nothing nefarious, or at least not in this case. I'm sitting here with my work laptop. I just finished writing a long email in my broken French, broken because when I'm sleepy I ignore things like conjugation and pronouns (which isn't too unlike my English now that I think about it). Now I'm debating whether or not I really want to start work on the flow chart I wanted to finish for work over the weekend. And before you ask, no this is not a sign of my devotion to my work, it's merely a sign of the boredom I feel on the weekends.

Of course I might have been able to finish my flow chart (seriously does anyone even look at them in the corporate environment) if not for the geniuses in Congress who decided to move up daylight savings time. Now I have issues with time changes in general. Mostly my issues can be boiled down to the following problem. Why is it 1:24AM at this moment today when exactly 24 hours ago the same moment was actually 12:24 AM? How can I have gained or lost an hour (I'm too tired to figure out which right now)? Why does this have to be so arbitrary? Most importantly of all, why would I be awake at either hour?

Now this antipathy I feel for Daylight Savings Time, and Standard Time for that matter, I don't want to discriminate, comes from a few experiences that have forever marked me. The first was in France, in the beautiful town of Soissons (see Natacha I mentioned it). This is a place of beauty and wonder for me, that will forever fill my heart with joy. Just look for example at the American monument at Chateau Thierry:

For me as I might have mentioned before, I'm too tired to see if I'm repeating myself, this was the place of generational juxtaposition. I was living in France relishing the freedoms of Western society and the Faith that my parents had found. Walking the same ground upon which my great-grandfather had fought and shed much blood. For me and my children that area will always be holy ground (if they don't think it is they're so grounded).

That said I first became aware that I hated time changes when one Sunday morning, a brisk and beautiful one as I recall, I arrived at church at my usual time only to find the building abandoned. Now I did have a proclivity towards being early so I didn't think much of it. However as the minutes passed into quarters of an hour and beyond, I began to worry. Had the world ended and no one told me? Finally a woman from the congregation showed up and seeing my perplexity asked me what was wrong. Explaining that I'd been waiting there for over an hour and that I was disappointed everyone was late she laughed uproariously and apologized that no one had told me to change my clocks back.

Fast-forwarding to this morning I'm sure you can realize the sequel. Wife and I awoke at our usual Sunday time, which means that we barely have enough time to prepare for church. There is, however, always time to settle down to read the Sunday paper. With sleep still clinging heavily too my eyes and savoring the taste of the wonderful blueberry cake that Wife had made the previous night you can imagine my surprise when I read the following banner on the paper.
A Reminder:Did you turn your clocks ahead one hour?

Well obviously not because no one mentioned it to me that I needed to. (We'll conveniently ignore the fact that I adjusted the time clock at work on Friday afternoon for DST) The result of this mix up is that I've been off an hour all day. This meant that I couldn't take the Challah (or Jewish Sabbath Bread) that I'd wanted to have done for lunch, out of the oven until Midnight. Mmmm nothing like a good hot bread at Midnight. It came out quite pretty though.

It has been a day in which everything has gone okay, just an hour later than I expected. At least I got some more Girl Scout cookies from my niece today. I love the peanut butter ones. Well it's 1:49 AM now and I don't think that sleepiness is enough a sickness to get me out of work tomorrow.

Here's a cool vid that Tyler turned me on to. The guy is named Matt Costa. Cool stuff.

Friday, March 07, 2008


It's official, we're coming to Utah over General Conference weekend. Actually, we'll be flying in and out of Vegas and driving to Utah, probably not for more that General Conference weekend. My plans include seeing my sister's dog, eating Cafe Rio and hitting some used bookstores. It should be good.