Everything is a video game!


Last night I had my teenage son help me prepare supper. We were making Chicken Étoufée, so there was a lot of: cook this for a while, then add this and cook it some more, then add this other thing, etc, all while stirring continuously.

At one point, I was stirring, and asked him to add the next set of ingredients. He picked up the container of diced vegetables and tipped it over the pan. He then started to jab at the mirepoix with his rubber scraper, flicking little bits of it at a time into the roux.

“You could turn your scraper to more efficiently…,” I began. Then I heard the giggling and saw how the mini vegetable bombs were just missing my stirring hand, the container trying to get into rhythm with arm.

“You turned this into a video game, didn’t you?” Louder giggling. “OK, just be more careful not to get it on the neighboring burners – stoves are a lot of work to clean!”

Chapter 2

This afternoon I received an email from our church inviting us to “Fun, Food and Fellowship.” Thinking it sounded interesting, I dove in to learn more. It was an invitation to join a ministry at our church called, Chapter 2. I had never heard of the ministry, so looked it up on our church’s website. I guess it is a new group for those starting the second chapter of their lives and focuses a lot on outreach. Sounds cool. But I couldn’t figure out how I had gotten on the email list.

Then it hit me. My hubby just turned 50 a few weeks ago, and our church has a database that lists each of our birthdays, so we automatically got added to the Chapter 2 group’s email list. Then I remembered that I had received an email from this same group several weeks ago. While they sound like a great group, I didn’t want them to get their hopes up, and I don’t need any extra messages to sort through, so I searched for an unsubscribe button.

At the bottom of the message I found a note that said to reply with, “Remove,” in the subject line and they would stop sending us messages. So this is the message I sent.

Thanks so much for connecting with us, as this sounds like an awesome ministry that I think I would very much enjoy being a part of in the future. However, as we still have young kids, we are sort of still in Chapter 1 – we got a kind of late start. I guess you could say we are slow readers:)


My kids have the weird names!

Being the oldest daughter of an oldest son, I tend toward the traditional. My husband, while being a second child, so much more non-traditional than me, is the oldest son in his family. He also took on a bit of the father role to his two younger siblings when his father was no longer in the picture. So he tends to be a bit more traditional than a lot of middle children.

All of this to say that we picked fairly traditional names for our two children: Mark and Molly. They never get asked how to pronounce their name by the teacher the first day of class. Each name has only one or two spelling variations, but since we picked the most common spelling for each name, they usually get their name spelled correctly.

But oddly enough, they have the weird names in our family and in their school. There is not one other Molly in their school of 400 students. And I don’t think there is another Mark, either. On the other hand, there are two Reece’s (well, one Reese, and one Reece) – a name that you never heard until the last decade or so. And in my family, while my nieces and nephews have very nice names, they are anything but traditional.

My youngest brother and his wife just had a baby. He tends to be more conventional, like me. So while I expected my sister to name her kids artsy monikers – she is a fashion designer and her husband is an artisan in wood, after all –  I did not expect a hereto unheard of name from my brother and his wife. Again, it is a very nice name. But upon hearing it, I looked at my kids and said, “Sorry, I guess you have the weird names in this family.”

What could be more Minnesotan?

This past summer (can you tell that the school year has been a bit busy for me? Trying to learn how to help kids manage homework has really kept my mind occupied – but I am tired of having it steal all of my time, so I am sneaking in a little blogging time) my family and I went to the “Great Minnesota Get Together.”

We love the Minnesota State Fair – amazingly yummy things to eat, farm animals having babies, the midway for the guys, and the wild animals at the DNR building for us girls, with a stop by the horse barn for good measure. This year I had the good fortune of talking with a good friend before going, and she clued me into some tasty Scotch eggs that I had not realized were hiding on a side street we don’t often venture down. My rule for myself is that I don’t eat anything that I can easily eat somewhere else. So I never eat hamburgers, hot dogs or pizza at the fair, though I usually do indulge in a corn dog, since I don’t make those at home.

This year we had promised my mom that we would pick up a poster for her at the fair. It was the special artwork done for that year, and it had a huge rooster painted on it. She has gotten into chickens in the last few years since she and my dad started going to Kauai for the winter. There are a lot of beautifully colored wild chickens that roam that island. Go figure!

We realized that we would need to get to the other side of the fair quickly to be able to pick up the poster before the sales booth closed, so we decided to take the “Sky Ride,” which is gondola that transports people from one end of the fair to the other. It is a family favorite. We got into what looked like a reasonably short line – little did we know that it wrapped back and forth on itself on the backside of the ride entrance!

I started to stress out about whether or not we would make it across the fairgrounds in time – should we ask for a refund and start hoofing it? Then realized that I could always come back to the fair another day to pick it up – the $11 entrance fee was still significantly less than the $40 they would charge my mom to have it shipped to her – my parents usually attend the fair, several times some years. But my dad’s foot was bothering him at the time, so they ended up missing this year. I think it may be only the second year he hasn’t made it to the fair since he started taking us before I can remember.

As I was mulling this over, my husband was doing his favorite thing at the fair, people-watching. Suddenly he turns to me and says, “look just a few people behind us.” Wouldn’t you know, but there was Garrison Keillor and his daughter! To be at the state fair with Garrison Keillor – you can’t get much more Minnesotan than that!

We were able to get my mom’s print; too bad Mr. Keillor couldn’t have signed it. But we didn’t want to impinge upon his time with his child. That is the only way we could have had a more Minnesotan day.

New pizza flavor

Introducing the world premiere of Cilantro Chicken pizza.

My husband loves curry and cilantro, so while perusing a curry cookbook, I ran across a recipe heavy on the cilantro. According to the cookbook, the recipe is from Kenya, and involves cooking chicken in a yummy cilantro, ginger, garlic, tomato, yogurt sauce. It is my husband’s favorite dish, so I cooked up a batch that would last for a few meals last weekend.

Last Friday night we were invited to my husband’s best friend’s house for a pizza party, just bring along an ingredient to share. So we brought the cilantro chicken. I wasn’t too sure how it would taste. Kenyan chicken on Italian pizza? Not too promising.

Wow, was it good! It is our new favorite pizza topping –  just it on some red sauce then sprinkled with a little mozzarella cheese. Another friend at the party really enjoyed it, too, so we knew it wasn’t just us being enamored with our ingredient.

What unique ingredients have you tried that were really good (or not so good!)?