Greek Potato Salad

Photobucket

Hi folks! Today I want to share with you how to make Greek Potato Salad, which is one of my favorite sides. I’ve never been a fan of the mayonaise-y potato salads, so this is right up my alley. Plus, it’s healthy, uses just a handful of ingredients, and comes together in about 15 minutes. Those are all good things in my book!

Ok, let’s get started. These are the ingredients that you’ll need: small red potatoes, olive oil, juice of 1/2 a lemon, scallions, parsley and salt.

Photobucket

First, let’s get the potatoes started, so go ahead and put them in a pot and add water until they are covered by 1 inch. (Notice how I cut the large ones in half so that they’ll cook at the same speed as the small ones).

Photobucket

Now, bring the water up to a rolling boil.

Photobucket

While the potatoes are cooking, Let’s chop the rest of our ingredients. Oh, and the potatoes will take about 12-15 minutes to get fork tender (which literally means that you’ll cook them until a fork will slide easily into one).

First, I’ll start by chopping the scallions. Notice how I’m chopping all of them here. I’m only going to use half, but I know that I’ll use the rest later in the week, so I just chop them all at once and store the remainder in a tupperware container.

Photobucket

And now I’ll chop the parsley. Same deal here – I’ll only use a handful in this recipe, but I’ll chop it all and store the rest.

Photobucket

Ok, now we’re going to fast forward 7 minutes to when the potatoes are done cooking. Once I strain them, I’m going to add them to my bowl. Typically, I’ll cut them into slightly smaller pieces once they’re in the bowl…and probably burn my fingers in the process.

The next step is to add the rest of the ingredients. Let’s start with the olive oil, about 1/4 cup is good and I usually eyeball it. In Greek cooking, olive oil is one of the most frequently used ingredients and I always have about a gallon on hand. It makes me happy.

Photobucket

Next, we’ll add the juice of half a lemon. Notice how rebellious I am by squeezing the lemon right over the potatoes, just daring the seeds to make a break for it. The won’t though because I’m the law around here. Oh, and please ignore the Sharpei-like folds of my hand. Thank you.

Photobucket

Next we’ll add the parsley. (Chef’s note: If you don’t have fresh parsley on hand, just add a tablespoon or so of the dried stuff and it will still be tasty. If you serve a couple bottles of wine before dinner, your guests will never know the difference.)

Photobucket

And then we add my absolute most favorite salt in the world that my good friend Stella turned me on to. It’s called Redmond’s Sea Salt and it’s from Utah and it is the best tasting (and good for you!) salt in the whole world. It has over 50 trace minerals that are normally stripped from regular table salt. Did I mention that I’m a salt connoisseur? What, you’ve never heard of such a thing? It’s true folks, we’re quite the secret society and very exclusive.

Photobucket

Finally, I’m going to add my scallions. By the way, my Greek mother calls these new onions. The first time she said it my response was, “what the heck are new onions?” Well, apparently, that’s the direct translation from Greek. Even though she’s been in this country for over 35 years, some habits are hard to break. Like pronouncing the “L” in salmon. I think I’ve pointed this out to her at least 1,523 times, but I digress.

Photobucket

Now, all you have left to do is stir it up and eat it! Isn’t she purty?

Photobucket

This potato salad can be served warm or cold – it’s great both ways. Now go make it immediately and be sure to come back and tell me what you think!

A Mere Mortal?

Photobucket

Ever since I was a little girl and insisted on wearing my Wonder Woman underoos out in public, I’ve always secretly felt that I had some kind of super powers. For as long as I can remember, I have had the ability to get more done than should have been humanly possible. As a 15 year old, I had swim practice 5.5 hours a day (my days would start with a 5:15am practice), I took advanced classes in school, I worked a part-time job and I somehow managed to have a social life.

Fast forward 13 years and the same pattern still held. I was married, pregnant, writing my dissertation, working full-time (as well as over-time) in my main job, teaching a class at the University as my 2nd job, teaching 3 Spinning classes a week at the gym and somehow managing to both socialize with my friends and have a clean house.

In other words, I had super powers (although not the kind that gets you a comic book). Instead of super human strength and x-ray vision, I had great time management skills, extreme efficiency and a great immune system that kept me moving at full speed ahead even when I should have been flat on my ass from fatigue, stress or just good old germs.

All of that changed when I had Parker. He is the most amazing part of my life, but I think that my super powers left me at some point during the birthing process. Suddenly, I found myself bleary-eyed and overwhelmed. I could scarcely take care of the basics for myself (showering, eating, changing out of my PJs) let alone provide the kind of support to everyone that always counted on me. I became flighty, and (gasp!) scatter-brained. I started going to sleep without doing the dishes (a capital offense in my prior life) and rewearing my socks. For a period of about 4 months, I don’t think that I answered a single voicemail or email. My purpose was singular: survival.

Since I’ve resurfaced to commune with the outside world, I realized that my super powers have shifted from Superhero to Supermom. Supermom is mortal, but to her kids, no one is more powerful. Instead of flying by deadlines at warp speed and using three alarm clocks, I’m now the finder of lost toys, the inventor of imaginary games and the driver to parks, pools and playdates.

The interesting thing about this shift is that I don’t really seem to mind. With Parker in my life, I’ve learned to say “no,” which is quite the feat for someone with my personality. I used to think that not being able to do everything was a sign of weakness, but now, it seems compeletely irrelevant. Parker’s happiness is my biggest ambition at the moment and while I can’t promise that I’ll never again have 3 jobs or put in an occassional 16 hour day, the most important job that I have is experiencing the world with my son.

So the other day, when the little voice inside of my head mocked, “What’s the matter Cyn, are you now a mere mortal?” I smiled at the thought and responded with a resounding, “Nope, I’m a mom.”

My Favorite Time of Day

Photobucket

I’m a morning person by nature. If I had my way, I would be up and down with the sun. There’s something so peaceful about 6am that I wish I could just bottle it and let it back out when my house is in full chaos mode and I need a reprieve.

I hoard the mornings like nobody’s business. If I get any kind of decent sleep (like 5 hours or so), I will stealthily sneak out of the bedroom and tip toe to the coffee pot. As I get that going, I will let the dogs out, feed all of the house animals (except for the Irishman, who is still sleeping) and savor the next couple of hours.

The problem is that this is my favorite time of day for everything. For running, working, drinking my mega cup of coffee and reading. Try as I might, I can’t seem to get all of that squeezed into the two hours that I have. The other problem is that the tranquility of the morning only lasts until just before 8am. This is when people start coming out of their houses to get chores done, go out for breakfast and when my own family wakes from their slumber.

Like a secret lover, I bid my quiet morning farewell until we meet the next day….unless Parker didn’t sleep, in which case I’ll pull the covers over my head and curse the sun for intruding in my life. I’m fickle that way.

It’s Time To Get Serious

It’s time to get serious…about marathon training that is. I’ve upgraded my shoes, my shorts, my sports bra, my heart rate monitor, my music on my iPod and while all of that is considered an integral part of the preparation (well, in my world it is), I have officially taken my marathon training to the next step. I have a marathon trainer.

That’s right folks, I officially have arrived in the world of training for a marathon. My new coach (that sounds very official, doesn’t it?) and I are going to meet about evaluating where I am now and developing a plan on getting me to the finish line in record time. (Ok, so we’re really going to focus on my best time and the beauty of that is I’ve never run a marathon before, so any time would be a personal record.) My new trainer, Lou, has been taking my Spinning class for years. He’s retired and spends his days working out (this is my dream!) and runs marathons several times a year. He’s qualified for Boston on numerous occasions and for fun, he takes on charity cases like me. Also, it just so happens that the Disney Marathon was the first one that he ever did. I asked him jokingly in my Spinning class the other night if he would train me (I really only wanted the ability to say that I had a trainer and thus sound cooler for the next 7 months), but he agreed without hesitation and told me to give him a call.

Then I got really excited because now I wasn’t just going to sound cooler, but I was actually going to be cooler. I’ve already thought of ways to work “my marathon coach said” into virtually every conversation. To use the words of my brother, I think I just got 15% more fit for just having a marathon trainer.

Payton, My Bionic Cat

Photobucket

Payton is my first born cat. Way back in the day, before the Irishman and Parker, before I had dogs and custom orthotics, I got a gorgeous little grey kitten. He’s a French Chartreaux. (Ok, so he’s really a shelter cat of questionable breeding, but I had just come home from my Paris trip a couple of months back and everything in my life had to be French.) He came home with me a couple of days before Florida State won the 2000 National Championship and, like the rabid football fan that I was, I vowed that he would be named after a football player if we won. I had been calling the gorgeous grey kitty “sweetness” for several days (which of course was the nickname of the football legend Walter Payton) so Payton it was.

Payton was a handfull from the beginning. I tried to let him sleep in bed with me until the little stinker took to biting my cheek when he wanted to play. So, I relocated him to the floor only to discover eight months and a $1500 surgery later that Payton chewed and ingested EVERYTHING (a laundry bag cord was the offending item that got lodged in his intestines). Anyway, it wasn’t long before I had a completely Payton-proofed house.

A couple of years after the stomach surgery, we noticed that Payton wasn’t finishing all of his food in 1.3 seconds. (Now, this is a cat that would gorge himself if you allowed it, so a single morsel left in the food dish is usually the sign of a major problem.) So, off we went to the vet and his wonderful vet discovered that he has a “luxated lens,” which meant that the lens was separating from the eye (or something like that). The next step was to visit the animal eye specialist (yes, they do exist and yes, we did go). The prognosis was that Payton had glaucoma at the tender kitty age of three.

Essentially, we had two options. The first option was that they could remove his eye and stitch his eyelids shut. Of course, it goes without saying that we would have had to buy him a little eye patch and re-name him Pirate. The thought of someone going “Argh Matey” every time they came over did not sound very appealing to me nor did the thought of my poor little kitty never being able to open his eye again. So, that left us with option number two. In option two, they would use a laser to open his eye (is anyone squeamish yet??), remove the internal part of the eye and replace it with a small grey silicone ball. In this scenario, Payton would still be able to blink, use his tear ducts and move his eye, it just wouldn’t be functional for him.

I would like to add that while I was tearfully pondering my options, the Irishman (who was only my boyfriend at that point) asked if the silicone implant came in an eightball. As I looked at him in disbelief, he was trying to explain that he thought it would be cool if we could shake my cat to get answers to various questions…. I don’t think I need to tell you what I thought of his sensitive commentary.

So, we went with option two (and no, they do not make eightball kitty eyes) so my sweet kitty became one of the first Bionic cats in Florida. I have to say that most people don’t believe me that Payton has an eye implant and without fail, whenever we go to the vet, he gets taken around to all of the new vet techs so they can see his cool bionic eye.

Here’s a picture of Payton the bionic cat. The golden eye is his real one and the grey eye is a silicone implant.

Photobucket

So, here we are, 9 years and two surgeries later. Poor Payton has been slowly displaced as he’s had to share my attention with a second cat, two dogs and Parker. I think he’s adapted to these changes pretty well, but I still don’t think that he’s forgiven me for bringing home the Irishman. From time to time, Payton gives me this look that says, “Why does he get to sleep in your bed and eat your leftovers? I used to be everything to you. We used to share so much and now I’m left to fend for myself. *Sigh* I thought you loved me…” Ok, so that’s probably just mommy-guilt talking. Knowing Payton like I do, I’m sure his look really means, “Where’s my dinner, lady?”

Itchy Feet, Mildly Scratched

I have itchy feet. That’s the term I use when someone likes to travel…a lot. When you love to travel, I mean really love to travel, you can’t stay put for an extended period of time without feeling that internal tug to just get up and go. I have permanently itchy feet. It’s completely my parents fault. I’ve been traveling internationally since before my first birthday and if I don’t take one or two major trips a year, I get seriously restless and I feel the need to move. The Irishman knows when this is coming because I start calling him at work with increasing frequency asking questions like, “have you ever been to the Grand Canyon?” or, “I’ve always wanted to see Maine, what do you think?”

This is the first year since 2000 that I won’t be heading over to Greece and while I wouldn’t have been heading over for another couple of weeks, my feet are already seriously itchy at just the prospect of missing this trip. So, when my mom suggested that we take a day trip around Florida’s Panhandle, I jumped at the chance to pack a day bag, my camera, a thermos of coffee and head out the door. With kisses to my boys, we were off on a teeny, tiny road trip, but it felt great!

The great thing about traveling with my mom is that we both love to stop spontaneously when something catches our interest. The first random place that we stopped was close to Eglin Air Force Base when I saw some really cool (and old) military planes. We make a quick u-turn (ok, it wasn’t really that quick of a u-turn and it took a couple of detours to find out how to get onto the grounds where the planes were, but we eventually got there) and parked in a giant field of planes. Here are some of the pictures I took of these beautiful planes that I know nothing about (my husband and my father are currently shaking their heads in pity that I can’t distinguish an F-15 from a Thunderbird. Is a Thunderbird even a military plane?? It’s possible that I just made that up.)

Here’s an old propellor of a very large, old plane:

Photobucket

And here’s a black plane, dare I say it’s either called a Blackbird or a Stealth fighter? I’m probably wrong about that, but I feel smarter when I make random guesses, so there you have it. By the way, why do I want to call every plane a “bird” of some type? That’s pretty stereotypical on my part. Just because it flies, doesn’t make it a bird. I apologize to any birds or planes I may have offended with my prejudice.

Photobucket

And this thing was jutting out of the wing of the black (non-bird) plane:

Photobucket

So, then we left the military aircraft museum, but came to a screetching halt just 20 minutes later when we saw this sign:

Photobucket

(I took that picture with my telephoto lens from an adjacent shopping center). Once we stopped laughing long enough for my mom to put the car in gear, we continued on our drive. By this time, we were both getting kind of hungry so I started searching for places to eat using the GPS. We picked a place that sounded promising, but once we got there, it left a lot to be desired. Fortunately, they had free wi-fi internet service, so I grabbed my laptop and started researching restaurants in the area from the comfort of the passenger seat. We finally decided on a seafood restaurant that was situated right on the water. We had a horrible waitress, but a great view.

Photobucket.

After our lunch, we hopped onto Highway 30-A, which takes you along these quaint little towns along the water. When we got to Seaside, we decided to get out and walk around. They had this cute little post office there that I had to get a picture of.

Photobucket

There was a 3 day JazzFest in progress (that’s what the metal structure and tent are behind the post office) so there was a lot of traffic there. As we were walking back to the car, I saw this Airstream trailer that was converted into an Organic juice stand and it was just lovely. If we hadn’t just eaten, I would have definitely bought something here:

Photobucket

By this time, it was getting late in the day so we hopped back on the highway and headed home. I have to say that it was a wonderful trip and while my feet are still itchy, they’ve been at least mildly scratched.

Oh, and my mom and I are now planning our next trip…to Peru!

Parker the Entertainer

Back in high school, I took a class called American Musical Theater. I’ve never really been much of a singer (much to my husband’s relief), but there’s just something about show tunes that really speaks to me. When Parker is waiting for his dinner and getting impatient, I’ll often break out into song as an attempt to distract him. It generally works (much to the Irishman’s dismay).

The other day, Parker was in his high chair waiting for dinner and right as I was about to break into song, he beat me to it. It was amazing! It’s like every single song I’ve ever sang to him has been absorbed. You don’t believe me, huh? Well folks, here is photographic evidence of his concert.

“Give my regards to BROAD-WAY! Remember me to Herald Square! Tell all the gang at forty-second street that I will soon be THERE…”

Photobucket

“Memory…all alone in the moonlight..I can smile at the old days…I was beautiful then…”

Photobucket

Uh-oh folks, he’s switching it up!

“Aaahhh-ve Mariiii-ia…”

Photobucket

“Billy Jean is not my lo-ver…she’s just a girl who thinks that IIII am the one….but the kid is not my son…”

Photobucket

Please join Parker in giving himself a hand.

Photobucket

Thank you folks, that concludes your entertainment for this evening. Please visit us again soon.

Photobucket