Cocktail: Elderflower + Limoncello

We are gearing up for school around here.  I have been slowly cleaning out every area of my house to get a fresh start.  I don’t want anything hanging over my head when I start teaching my baby-girl mid-August.  I know I will have less time for projects and for doing my crazy organizing of thing constantly, but I’m excited!  I am learning from myself in the past and getting a jump on it now.  I know we will have a blast and now that I’m mostly done with my lessons plans, I’m not quite sure why kids go to school for 8 hours.  This was one of those things that bothered me during the school year when I sent my baby girl to school for the whole day and only saw her for a few hours.  Even in those few hours, she was exhausted.  I’ve been doing a lot of reading about Charlotte Mason’s methods over the last few years and am really pumped to open up the eyes of  my wee ones to the wonders of God in every day life…math and writing included!  I’m even more pumped that they aren’t confined to a desk and they can learn the way they were meant to…through experience.  Plus, they can learn the ay that is best for just them and not the way an entire class full of kids does.  Hooray!

Today, I went on a date with my sweet girl to get her school supplies!  I love walking into Target and seeing the organized rows of supplies.  Huge breath in…and…enjoy (think Meg Ryan in “You’ve Got Mail” about her “bouquet of sharpened pencils”).  I just love Target in the Fall…er…summer (thank you year-round schools!).   It made me think of how much I loved getting my annual see-through binder to then later stuff with pictures/stuff and my row of Ticonderoga pencils.  My mom was reminding me of my Hello Kitty trashcan I used to have on my desk in elementary school.  Awesome.  I saw a little red metal one and I REALLY wanted it.  Would that be weird?

Either way, I made a summer drink to keep your summer going…ready for school?

This drink is a perfect summer drink because it’s super simple to mix up for friends and uses white wine which is usually always open, right?

Elderflower Refresher

(adapted from Mix Shake Stir)

3 oz white wine

1 oz Elderflower Liqueur

1 oz limoncello

soda water to fill glass

ice

mint for garnish

Add all ingredients to glass of ice and add mint.

Sit down, turn some awesome music on, and enjoy whoever is next to you.



Comic-Con Craze 2011

Last weekend we met up with some buddies at Comic-Con.  This is the kind of day you have to plan for a year in advance normally.  People wait in line in 2011 for 2012 tickets, but I got ours by pressing the refresh button 797 times for some tickets they released in February.  Craziness!  I never understood why there was such a draw until now.  It is truly a place where odd things are normal.  It felt very much like Alice in Wonderland because things/people would walk by as if they were normal when really they were dressed like Darth Vader or a giant piece of bacon, just as Alice saw things that were the opposite of the norm in Wonderland.  It may sound weird but for these people, this is the one day where the can be in a place and not be judged for being odd, but embraced.  It’s pretty cool.

We also got to enjoy some food from our food truck friends.  I was bummed MIHO gastrotruck was doing a private event.  Oh well.  I had a lobster grilled cheese sandwich (Devilicious) and a lobster club (Chop Soo-ey).  My husband had a breakfast burger with an egg, bacon, and waffle fry on top and some waffle fries with blue cheese.  My friend had the veggie burger on the bottom with the pink beet sauce  (The Green Truck…just found out this is a chain truck with trucks in LA and NY).

Such devotion to spend this much time on a costume.  I saw them posing for pictures the whole day.

Halo “people” were in full force.  The guy with the cell phone even had a cool compartment in his arm in which to slide his cell phone, that snapped closed after.

I love the top left photo because it really shows how everyone gets their chance to be normal there at Comic-Con.  So sweet.  I also enjoyed watching the man with the yellow gloves hold his coffee and a ferret whilst trying to take a photo of a cool t-shirt.

“The Walking Dead” had an interesting set-up with bloody zombies trying to get this guy.  I guess it’s a scene from the show.  There was a giant neuralizer from MIB.

We saw a few famous people.  Anna Paquin from True Blood and originally was the youngest to win an Oscar at age 11 for “The Piano”.  Megan Mullally with Malin Akerman (bottom left).  I would have a had a photo of the rare Chewbacca, who apparently lives locally here in San Diego, but my husband’s head was in the way…erg.  I wonder what brand of hair product he prefers…looks soft.

Her we have the cast from “Children’s Hospital” come down while the cast of “True Blood” goes up.

The Lego exhibit.  My kids would have loved to play here but they probably would have gotten lost with the crowds at some point.

Next year I will be sure to remember to bring my Star Wars trophy and my Captain America shield.  Bummer.

One of my favorite things of the day.  The men with their giant gift bags.  I wish I had focused it properly.  Oh well.

Quick Asian Pickles

I am so glad to be done with termites…for now anyway.  We have had these crazy creatures in our house bugging us since we first saw their first “kick-outs” right after we moved in to our house 2 1/2 years ago.  You see, our house was supposed to be tented before we moved in but while I was giving birth to #3 that wasn’t really taken care of for me by my realtor.  Bummer to move in and find that out later but I’m over it now that everything is finished.  We had to move out anything that might possibly enter your mouth (I even packed up my play-dough) and all of our plants.  If you’ve seen my pantry, you know it was a lot to move.  A big thank you to my parents for housing it all in their guest room.  Thanks, Mom and Dad :).

This week I was recovering from a Sat/Sun migraine and the kids really wanted to make something so I opted for a surprisingly quick, quick pickle.  We had 2 pickling cucumbers and 1 lemon cucumber we picked from our backyard local Red Farm.  I knew it was enough for a jar so off we went.

 I’ve been staring at this “Asian quick pickle” recipe for a while.  I don’t know if any of the Asians make this kind of pickle but I’ve had similarly marinated Japanese cucumbers on my travels to the land of the rising sun.

Mix together all of the ingredients until the sugar is dissolved…minus the pickles, of course :)

Grab your cucumbers.  Cut off the ends, peel, and take the seeds out.

^—  They will look like this. Put the onions on the bottom of a jar (any jar because it’s not going into boiling water).  Then, have the kids stuff the cucumbers in a jar.

Pour the liquid and put in the fridge.  Enjoy almost immediately, but i think they were best the next day.

I let the kids snack on the leftover skins and seeds, then took them to my husbands office where he fangoriously devoured them all.

Asian Quick Pickles

(adapted from “Put ‘Em Up!“)

1 c. seasoned rice wine vinegar

2 T. low sodium soy sauce

2 T. sesame oil

2 T. raw sugar

a pinch or red pepper flakes

3 pickling cucumbers

1/2 a red onion or 1 large shallot

Here’s a lovely photo of my man and I whilst engaged, in Japan.  I love that country, the people, and the honor that abides there.

Pasta Caprese

I think the number two question I get from people related to food and cooking is, “Do you have any easy and fast recipes you make for a just a regular night at home with the family”.  YES!  I find most of what I cook to be easy but I think what people are looking for is something to make in 30ish minutes with only a few ingredients.  Is that about right?  I give you:  Pasta Caprese!  I thought of you all who have asked me that question because it came together with some things I have leftover from a big dinner and was super easy.  We don’t really eat pasta anymore for health reasons, but every now and then I like to break it out when it’s just the kids and I at home.

Pasta Caprese

1 box of rotini pasta, cook until al dente

2 cloves of garlic, pressed

2 pints of cherry tomatoes, squished

1 large handful of basil, chopped

4 balls of burrata cheese or mozzarella cheese*, torn or cut into pieces

1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

dash or two of walnut oil

many dashes of aged balsamic vinegar or a reduction

With pasta, mix garlic tomatoes basil, cheese, and olive oil until combined.  I mention the tomatoes are squished because it’s a fun way for kids who can’t use knives to help with dinner.  They simple hold the tomato down in the bowl and squish.  Get ready for giggles and tomato seeds gone wild.  Season with salt and pepper to your own taste.  Add the dashes of walnut oil and balsamic vinegar.  Remember the pasta spreads the flavor out a bit so don’t be afraid to add more seasonings.  This is a VERY simple dish for a nice summer evening.  It could be very much enjoyed with a nice glass of Sauvignon  Blanc, if you choose.  Make it good wine though, not that cheap 5 buck stuff :)

*Burrata can be found at your local cheese shop.  San Diegans’ can go to our awesome local store called Venissimo!  Whole foods and Trader Joes have it but it is not nearly as good.  The one I prefer to buy is made with love in LA by an Italian family and is brought down here.  I’ve now seen it popping up at our local farmer’s markets, but most sellers (even cheese stands!) haven’t learned quite yet that it is very delicate and goes bad after only a few days so selling it in that condition is a bad idea :/  If this all sounds like too much work, you can either trust me that the real stuff is just THAT good and better than anything you will ever experience in the mozzarella family, or you can just be regular and buy mozzarella.  Your choice really.  No pressure.

Too busy to cook? Try this…

We’ve been super busy around here and although I’ve still been making regular meals, I haven’t had any time for projects.  These jars are an easy way to enjoy the strawberry season and not let it pass you by.  Alcohol and vinegar both allow you to throw whatever you want in without worrying about it needing to be sealed or processed.  Endless possibilities!  I am going to make lots of these this summer.  The combos can be used for cocktails but you can also make some yummy fruit vinegars for salad dressings.  The only requirement is that the fruit be covered by the liquid. Let them sit in a cool, dark place for at least 6 weeks.

Easy, right?  Let me know what kinds of combos you come up with!

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