Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Pickleball

Ah....pickleball. I love pickleball. I loooooooooooove it. I'm so excited that it is spring time and the court next to my workplace is dry and ready for another year of pounding. A couple guys at work and I are splitting the cost of a new outdoor net. If anyone has played tennis, badminton or ping pong, it is pretty much a cross of those three. IMHO it is more fun than all of those combined. Rallies are fast and last longer, and it isn't as frustrating as tennis. Sure, the name of the sport doesn't spring to mind toned masculine men roughing it out with heavy weaponry in some caged enclosure. At least you won't hear something like "Hey Randy, be a sport and toss me the birdy." Nice short shorts Randy.

I scoured the internet for a good "hardcore" video of singles pickleball, and couldn't find even one. The ones on youtube are either of seasoned citizens playing doubles at a snails pace, or kids goofing around in gym class. Instead, here's a badminton video that reminds me of the fast speed, coordination and quickness that is required for a healthy game of pickleball.



Here's an ok video, skip to the end to see some high school noobs play to give you an idea of how the game is played. They're playing doubles which is a little slow for my taste - singles is best!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Recipes

I've been wanting to post these awesome recipes for a while now. I made these for Bill's birthday, we had a little dinner party with friends. The meal was fantastic, and I'm not saying this to boast, I just followed the recipes. Good food, good wine, good friends, it was a great way to celebrate Bill's birthday. In addition to the following recipes, we had sliced red potatoes with parmesan and sage, crusty bread, and red wine.

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herb-rubbed top sirloin steak with peperonata (epicurious)


Peperonata

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 small red onions (about 12 ounces total), halved, sliced crosswise

2 pounds mixed red and yellow bell peppers (about 4 large), cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-wide strips

1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

Coarse kosher salt

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons salt-packed capers, rinsed, drained, or 2 tablespoons capers in brine, drained

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme


Steak

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt

1 (3- to 3 1/4 -pound) top sirloin steak, 2 to 2 1/2 inches thickExtra-virgin olive oil (for drizzling)


For peperonata:Heat olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until almost tender, about 6 minutes. Mix in bell peppers and crushed red pepper; sprinkle lightly with coarse kosher salt. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until peppers are tender and silky, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes. Stir in red wine vinegar, capers, oregano, and thyme. Increase heat to medium; stir uncovered 3 minutes. Season peperonata to taste with coarse salt and pepper. Transfer peperonata to bowl and cool to room temperature. DO AHEAD Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.


For steak: Mix oregano, thyme, pepper, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over both sides of steak. Place on large plate; cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to 6 hours. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before grilling. Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Drizzle both sides of steak lightly with olive oil. Grill steak to desired doneness, about 15 minutes per side for medium-rare, or 17 minutes per side for medium. Transfer steak to cutting board; let rest 5 minutes. Cut steak crosswise into 1/4 - to 1/3 -inch-thick slices.Arrange steak slices on platter; surround with peperonata and serve.

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crisp haricots verts with pine nuts (epicurious, I used almonds instead of pine nuts)


2 pounds haricots verts, trimmed

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 cup pine nuts

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Have ready large bowl ice water. In large pot boiling salted water, blanch haricots verts until crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain, then plunge into ice water to stop cooking. Drain again and pat dry. (Haricots verts can be blanched 1 day ahead, drained and patted dry, and refrigerated until ready to use.)
In large skillet over moderately high heat, melt butter. Cook, uncovered, until dark golden and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in pine nuts and toast, stirring, until golden, about 30 seconds. Add haricots verts, oregano, salt, and pepper; toss until heated through. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thanks Chuck!

Today was the best day! Caley's playgroup went to Chuck E. Cheese's for Fiona's birthday and we all had a great time. I haven't been to Chuck's since I was maybe 12, so it was pretty nostalgic for me. It was also really cool to see all the kids sit together for pizza and cake. I love having a community of friends with kids!


Friends are fun!


Amelia didn't go on many rides, but she kept quite occupied with chewing on my sweater. Whatever works for ya...


We like pizza! And tickets!
She was really into the piece of cake and then it fell off her fork.




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Thursday, April 17, 2008

My darling Clementine's



When I was in high school, I worked at a local B&B called Clementine's. It was right next to my dad's dental office and I worked there for about 2 years. It was a great job, the innkeeper Judith was really flexible with letting me work when I was able. In the fall and winter I worked only on the weekends because I had sports, and in the spring she let me work only in the afternoons, and in the summer I worked full time. My job title was "do anything girl" and I definitely did everything. I learned how to fold hospital corners on beds, I cleaned the rooms top to bottom and cleaned when there was a stay-over. I answered the phone and made reservations. This was actually kind of hard because it was before everyone used the internet for everything and I actually had to write it down in a book and it got kind of confusing. I pulled weeds and mowed the grass. I picked up dog poop because Judith had two, sometimes three huge Australian shepherds that wandered around. In the summer when I worked more mornings, she would let me help in the kitchen too, and I'd collect nasturtium flowers to garnish the plates. After breakfast I'd be responsible for cleaning the kitchen too. I'd also be responsible for cleaning the birdcage and the common areas of the Inn. One time I got to make cookies with her Kitchenaid. That was pretty awesome to a 16-year-old.

She also had a separate building that used to be a restaurant, and they were in the process of converting it into two suites, so I helped with some of the major cleaning. One time I had to clean out the nasty kitchen area so it could be a little kitchenette for the Moose Temple Lodge. I almost barfed. I also almost barfed a few times when Judith made me clean her fridge.

The Inn was gorgeous, Judith really had a way of making things beautiful and welcoming. The Inn is an old Victorian home with tall ceilings and stained glass windows. Her kitchen had huge glass cabinets and shelves where she displayed her beautiful dishes. There was a huge island in the kitchen with pots hanging from the ceiling. Each room had a theme. There was the schoolhouse room, garden room, sunriser room, Clementine's suite, and the French Violet room. Next door there was the aforementioned Moose Lodge and above it the River View Loft. My favorite room was the French Violet because everything coordinated so beautifully and it was (suprise!) purple. It also had it's own bathroom. There were elegant featherbeds and sometimes I just wanted to take a nap while working.

Another reason I loved working at Clementine's was because of my coworker Katee. I was all of 16 and she was probably 24 or 25. She was/is awesome. She had such a fun way of looking at the world! She also did my hair for homecoming and prom in my senior year of high school and I think she did a great job. It was really fun to work with someone so fun, it made the gross jobs I had to do that much easier.
Working at Clementine's wasn't my favorite job, but I sure learned a lot and had a lot of fun at times. I would love to someday have a Bed and Breakfast or work in one again, but it's a lot of work!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Meet Minako


Meet our new "daughter"!

We are hosting Minako for the next few months. She is part of an international exchange through her high school in Japan. She and her classmates are in the US for 3 months and divided among local Christian schools. So far we have really enjoyed hosting her. She is so sweet! Caley loves her and is so excited when she comes home from school.
Please say hi if you see her with us.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Sisters

Sisters take care of one another.


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