Cordless Headphones – Better Than Sliced Bread

The Irishman recently got cordless headphones for himself so that he could watch television after Parker had gone to bed without disturbing him. I’ve since found a better purpose for them.

Photobucket

If you’ve never watched children’s programming for more than 5 minutes, what you may not know is that every show has a song that plays at least 3 times during the show. If you child is fixated on one particular show, that means that you have the potential of hearing that song dozens of times in a week. Of course, it seems that the more annoying the song, the more children like it.

It’s so bad that even when I was laying on the bathroom floor last weekend nearly unconscious, I had one of those songs stuck in my head. As if being violently ill wasn’t torture enough!

But now, everything is better. Parker is fascinated by the headphones and I can control the volume.

Photobucket

So these days, while he’s watching Thomas the Train or Tigger and Pooh or (heaven forbid) Handy Manny, I’m listening to Nora Jones, sipping a porter and cooking in the kitchen. Peace has been restored. Amen.

Tzatziki

Photobucket

Tzatziki is one of the most well known and most mispronounced Greek foods. In this country, it most often appears as the sauce in a gyro, but in Greece, it is a common appetizer served either which rustic white bread or warm pita bread. Before I show you how to make this lovely yogurt-based dip, I’m going to teach you how to say it. While we’re at it, I’ll teach you how to say gyro too.

Americans can most easily pronounce “tzatziki” if they drop the “t”s. So, if you can say “zah-zee-ki” (with the emphasis on the middle syllable), you’ll do just fine in Greece.

Gyro is pronounced “yee-row” with as little a southern accent as you can manage. Please, whatever you do, promise me that you’ll never say “jai-row” again. It’s more than this Greek girl can take.

Ok, enough about that – let’s eat! Wait, first we have to make it.

Our ingredients are simple: 1 container Greek-style plain yogurt, 2 cloves garlic, 1 cucumber (a seedless European one if you can find it) 1 Tbs. olive oil, 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar, 1 tsp. dried dill weed, 1 tsp. salt, pepper to taste.

Photobucket

**If you have just regular, non-Greek style yogurt, line a mesh strainer with coffee filters and position it over a bowl (the bowl should be small enough that the strainer doesn’t touch the bottom). Now add in your yogurt, cover with saran wrap and refrigerate overnight. The next day, you’ll see a pool of excess liquid in the bottom of the bowl. My mom always does it this way. The only brand that this won’t work with is Dannon because of the gelatin they add to their product.

First, grate your cucumber in a bowl. (if this was a seedless cucumber, there, uh, wouldn’t be seeds. I see that I probably didn’t have to point that at to you. My apologies.)

Photobucket

If you look above, you’ll see lots of excess liquids in our grated cucumber. If you’re the fancy type, go into your huge butler pantry, grab your cheese cloth and squeeze out the excess liquids. If you’re like me, take it over to the sink and just squeeze it out with your hands. Then, put it back into your bowl.

Photobucket

Much better. Now, add in your two cloves of garlic. You can either mince it or use a garlic press.

Photobucket

Now, just add in your yogurt and the rest of your ingredients all at once…

Photobucket

…and mix it all together. I’ll tell you a secret, I put most of the tzatziki back in the original yogurt container to store it. It lets me reuse the container and it reminds me that I have some yummy tzatziki still in there left to eat – tupperware tends to not get our notice.

Photobucket

I generally eat tzatziki the Greek way by just grabbing a chunk of a baguette and digging in or by warming up some pitas, quartering them and adding a dollop of tzatziki to each piece.

Photobucket

Enjoy!

Going International

Hi folks, just wanted to let you know that in two weeks, this blog is going international and, of course, I’m taking all of you with me. After a brief stop in Disney for my Danskin triathlon on Mother’s Day…

Photobucket

…we are headed over to Paris, France for a week.

Photobucket

Paris is one of my all-time favorite cities. I spent a summer there exactly 10 years ago as a college junior taking classes with Florida State’s study abroad program. It was one of the most influential experiences of my life. It was a turning point for me, which propelled me towards academics because I knew that I wanted to spends months traveling the world and experiencing as many different cultures as I could. I’ve missed you so much Paris and I can’t wait to see you again.

Then, we’re off to Greece…

Photobucket

Greece really is home to me. I spent all of my formative summers growing up there and it’s something that I fully intend to pass on to Parker. While Paris will be all hustle and bustle, Greece is where the relaxation will happen. We have a home there so it’s easy to get comfortable. Even as I type this, I’m yearning to go out to the balcony with my dad and have a glass of wine while watching the sunset. I’m almost there. I just need to make it through another couple of chaotic weeks, but the reward is well worth it.

Derailed

This weekend was not good. I started feeling slightly ill on Saturday afternoon and by Saturday night, I had a full-blown stomach bug with all of the joys that entails.

To make matters worse, the Irishman was out of town for the night, so I literally crawled to the kitchen to get some water. If you’ve never crawled through your own house with curious cats sniffing you along the way, I can assure you that it’s a humbling experience.

My biggest fear that night was that Parker would wake up ill and that I would have to somehow drag myself away from the bathroom floor to take care of it. The next morning was no better. Sweet Parker woke up full of little boy energy, but I literally couldn’t leave the bed for more than 5 minutes at a time. I have never been more thankful of having a child who can self entertain. I left the bedroom door open and he would bring his trains in to show me and then went back to playing. I set up a breakfast buffet so he could help himself as he was hungry and I tried desperately to stay awake.

Around 11am, buddy Mel came to the rescue and took over for the next couple of hours. She played with the little guy and made him “acorns” (boiled eggs) and I slept…and slept…and slept… Thankfully, it was then nap time and then husband came home shortly after Parker woke up. I took a bath (standing was not an option) and passed out around 7pm only to sleep a solid 11.5 hours. Wow.

But, today is a new day and I’ve thus far eaten toast and an egg, so I think everything is on it’s way to normal, including this blog. I have more recipes coming shortly (including one for herbed basmati rice – yummmmm) and I’m wrapping up the training for my triathlon, which is in a mere 13 days!

Peanut Butter, Banana and Chocolate Smoothie

Photobucket

Let me just say, oh my goodness is this smoothie GOOD! I was not expecting the amazing deliciousness when I threw this one together. In all honesty, I was probably better not knowing because now this smoothie will need to be entered into my weekly rotation of things that I can’t live without. Oh well, at least it’s good for me.

The three simple, delightful ingredients are: chocolate soy milk, a banana and unsweetened peanut butter. Yup, that’s it.

Photobucket

First, put a heaping tablespoon of peanut butter into your blender.

Photobucket

Then add in a whole banana and a cup or two of chocolate soy milk…

Photobucket

and let ‘er rip. Let it run for 30 seconds or so…

Photobucket

and serve.

Photobucket

If you make this, I promise that you will not be disappointed. You may, however, become addicted. Now if you’ll excuse me, Parker and I have a date for smoothie happy hour.

Citrus Smoothie

Photobucket

We are full blown into spring and that means one thing to me…more fresh produce is in season! I would never entertain the idea of being a raw foodie full-time, but I love fresh fruits and vegetables. I could literally eats pounds of each a day and be perfectly satisfied. My blood, however, would not be so pleased (I’m annoyingly anemic). Anyways, enough about my blood – let’s talk about smoothies!

I have a Vita Mixer, which essentially pulverizes all parts of the fruits and vegetables (particularly those tiny berry seeds that get stuck in your teeth and no one bothers to tell you and you notice it hours later in the bathroom…), but this recipe (and pretty much all smoothie recipes) can be made in any blender you might have around.

This particular recipe, I snagged right out of my Vita Mix cookbook. It is one of Parker’s favorites. Here are our ingredients (as well as the nutritional information if you’re into that kind of thing): 1 medium carrot, 1 orange, 1/2 apple, 1 cup pineapple juice, 1/2 cup ice.

Photobucket

First, get all of your fruit and veggies ready (and yes, leave the skin on the apple and the pith on the orange).

Photobucket

This is the particular pineapple juice that I like to use because it’s pressed pineapple juice instead of “from concentrate” so you’re getting more of the real fruit.

Photobucket

Now, add all of your fruits and veggies and measure out 1 cup of pineapple juice and 1/2 cup of ice. ***If you happen to have a banana laying around, throw that in too. I made a second batch of this later in the day, added a banana and it was delish!

Photobucket

Now, turn it on full blast and let it blend for a full 30-60 seconds.

Photobucket

Pour into your glass (we have plastic ones naturally since Parker will always prefer to drink out of my glass instead of his own. Sippy cups are so last season)…

Photobucket

…and enjoy! This is particularly great for someone who isn’t a big veggie eater because you can’t taste the carrots at all. It just tastes citrus-y and refreshing. Because the pineapple juice needs to be finished within a week of being opened, I’ve been enjoying one of these every morning for the last three days. The fiber in the apple makes this a satisfying snack that stays with you while the sweetness of the pineapple makes it particularly enjoyable if you’re craving some sugar.

Prison

***Hi folks, sorry for the break in posting. Parker spiked a high fever on Saturday night and we went into major clingy mode until he got better.

Yesterday, I took the first of two groups from my university class to prison. I love taking students to prison because they’re reactions are priceless. It’s a mixture of fascination combined with fear of the unknown. I think as budding criminologists, this will be a turning point for them – stay in the field or run like hell because if criminology is what you’re into, nothing either excites or revolts you like seeing the system in operation first hand.

I really miss that rush of emotions that I used to get when touring prisons as a student. Strangely, prison is normal to me now. I know a lot of the staff and I see my students walking around. They always waive enthusiastically, which makes me feel like my presence there is making a tiny bit of a difference.

I only have a week left I go back down to one job…and being a full-time mom (so I guess my workload is actually increasing!). I’m going to miss prison. The stale smell, the dirty looks of the inmates who are not my students because I look like nothing more on the surface than a young, preppy idealistic girl who dares to bring some brightness into their personal hell. Ah prison, we’ll meet again. It might be different women (or men), but eventually I’ll find my way to another one because, as a criminologist, I can’t resist the allure of those barb-wire fences and guard posts.