Sriracha and Omelettes

I first came across Sriracha, a Thai hot chili sauce, about 10 years ago in my brother’s fridge. Brother Dean loves the stuff. Over the years, a bottle of Sriracha surfaced in my parents fridge (from one of Dean’s visits) and during a trip to visit us last year, he put in a special request for us to add a bottle to our arsenal of condiments as well. Pretty soon, I was seeing Sriracha everywhere – at our favorite Asheville noodle bar, as a recipe ingredient in like every Men’s Health magazine recipe, so I finally succumbed to the marketing pressure and I decided to try it. Specifically, I added it to my scrambled eggs (like Men’s Health told me to). Any you know what, it was delicious! Sure, it has a bit of a kick to it, but it also has a ton of flavor (when used in moderation). How have I had this condiment around me for more than a decade without knowing it’s value? I must warn you that Sriracha is a bit addictive. The first couple of times I tried it, I thought it was just okay. I kept adding it to things and it progressively just got tastier.

Now, I add Sriracha to most anything. My favorites uses for it are the following:

1. Omelettes – I’ve been eating 2-egg veggie omelettes like they’re going out of style lately. After sauteing the veggies (usually mushrooms, green peppers, onion and fresh tomatoes), I add 2 eggs that have been whisked together with a splash of milk, salt/pepper and a tablespoon or so of Sriracha. Pour the eggs over the sauteed veggies, turn the heat to low, top it off with a 1/3 cup of shredded cheese and let it cook through. Delicious!

2. Custom condiment – We’ve been eating burgers a lot lately (beef and turkey for the boys, veggie for me). At the beginning of the week, I mix together a bowl of mayo, mustard, ketchup and Sriracha. You can add the various ingredients to your taste, but our mix comes out somewhat pink in color. Then, we use this all week on burgers, sandwiches, as a dipping sauce for shrimp, pretzels and french fries. I know it sounds somewhat bizarre, but it’s seriously good.

3. On pizza – Yup, I just drizzle a bit of Sriracha sauce on my homemade cheese pizza and gobble it up. Nothing fancy, but plenty of flavor.

If you happen to see a bottle laying around your favorite Chinese, Thai or Japanese restaurant, go ahead and give it a try. It may surprise you! Oh and while this started off as a specialty item, it’s now available almost anywhere. Trust me, if I can find it at our local Walmart here in the boonies, you can too.

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Generosity

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As much as it pains me to admit this, I was not a generous child. Loving? Certainly. Kind?Most of the time. A good sharer? HA! I was such a bad sharer that most of my teachers thought that I was an only child.  Not only was I not an only child, but my brother was much more generous than I was. He would usually spend all of his allowance buying the best Christmas presents that he could for everyone. I, on the other hand, would usually spend 75% on myself and split the other 25% on cheapo presents for my dad, brother and mom. Isn’t that awful!?! I’ve been overcompensating with presents ever since.

When Parker was born (and an only child for 4.5 years), I did my best to teach him about generosity and sharing so that he wouldn’t be like me. I would ask him to share his food and toys with us, especially the things that he held most dear to him (i.e. anything with sugar). It’s safe to say that he has surpassed my expectations by leaps and bounds. This child has a heart of gold. Not only does he share willingly when asked, but he often happily shares even when it’s not required of him.

For instance, during his flight back home last week, he put a handful of (unsolicited) cashews on the tray table of the passenger next to him. When my mother-in-law was telling the story, I felt really bad for that man who got a palmful of nuts from a 4-year-old who regularly picks his nose. Actually, I thought it was pretty funny. What was the poor guy to do? Return the cashews and crush the child’s feelings or eat the grubby nuts?  In case you’re wondering, he ate the nuts (clearly he has children of his own).

The other instance of generosity has to do with that picture at the top. Two nights ago, Parker had been holding a baggie of money (that he earned from his Nana by doing chores) when we had the following conversation:

Parker: “Mommy, close your eyes. I want to give the baby something.”

Me: “I’m sorry, you want me to what?”

Parker: “Please close your EYES so that I can give something to the baby.”

Me: “Sorry kiddo, I’d rather keep them open. And please don’t put anything in her mouth. Or nose.”

Parker: “Mommy, pleeeeease, just close your eyes. It will be just fine. Okay?”

Me: “Okay.” (at which point I proceeded to look through my fingers to see what he was doing).

What he wanted to do, was share his money with his sister. In fact, not only did he place a dollar in her lap, but he added exactly half of the money in his bag to her piggy bank.

I’m sorry, but are you kidding me?!? At his age, I wouldn’t even have shared monopoly money. Cashews are one thing, but cold, hard cash that can buy toys and candy? Unbelievable. It is my everlasting parental wish that the two of them are always that kind to each other (keep dreaming, right?). But seriously, adults could take serious lessons from Parker’s behavior. In fact, I’m going to take the last box of Girl Scout cookies out of its secret hiding place right now to share it with the husband when he gets home. If that isn’t a grand display of generosity, I don’t know what is.

P.S. I hope that’s the last time that someone throws ones at my daughter.

Right Now…

Parker is soaking up these last couple of days with his Nana while Lexi and Payton are also getting in on the love.

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A mother Carolina Wren is staring me down because her babies have hatched and her nest happens to be hanging less than 2 feet outside of my back door (which we go in and out of only 183 times a day).

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Did I mention that she built her nest in my hat?

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A bunny (formerly named Peanut, now named Mr. Fluffy Tail) is playing bunny roulette in the backyard. The rabbit waits until the dogs are out and when Nona gives chase, Mr. Fluffy Tail zips away. It’s kind of like being at the track.

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A family of Blue Jays have taken residence in our pear trees. I thought only partridges lived in pear trees? I don’t think I even know what a partridge looks like. I’m not even sure this is a Blue Jay.

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The menu is up and tonight’s Taco Bar was super delicious.

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Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Tomorrow at 11:30 in the morning I have an appointment to cut my hair. Specifically, I plan on cutting off 13 inches. This morning, I casually mentioned to my morning class that I was sick of dealing with long hair and that I was thinking of chopping it. I was not prepared for their response – almost the entire room of 18 to 20-somethings gasped in terror and outrage. Talking over one another, they said things like:

“But you CAN”T cut your hair!”

“But it’s so beautiful!”

“You’re not cutting it boy-short, are you?”

“What will your husband think?”

My answer to them all was this: It’s just hair. I mean, I wasn’t proposing to shave my head, but simply to substantially shorten the length. It’s crazy to me how much meaning people attach to their hair. For some people, it completely defines who they are and they would feel less feminine, attractive, desirable,etc… without it. For me, that’s just plain crazy talk and frankly, I’d like to think that my life isn’t driven (entirely) by vanity, but by practicality. And practically speaking, my hair is currently a pain in my ass. Between blow-drying and straightening it (which I need to do in order for it to look somewhat professional), I’m spending way too much time on it. Plus, Lexi is getting into the habit of grabbing everything in sight, which most of the time happens to be fistfuls of my hair.

If I had any doubts about cutting it before today, my students’ responses solidified the decision for me. I want to show them that the essence of who you are remains the same regardless of your hair length, choice of clothing or any other physical characteristic.  I can and will cut off the vast majority of my hair. It will not make me any less of a woman and frankly, if my husband doesn’t like it, he at least has the wisdom to keep his mouth shut about it. Amen. Incidentally, I’m going to get this haircut on the left (probably and inch or so shorter).

I’m then going to donate the 13 inches or so that I cut to Locks of Love. Then, once my bangs grow out a bit more, I’m eventually going to transition to this haircut on the right, which is even easier to manage on a daily basis. I figure that I’ll probably save 20-30 minutes or so every day by not having to deal with hair that is halfway down my back. I plan on using that time to make funny faces at Lexi and to make Elmo pancakes for Parker on the weekdays. I think that it will be time very well spent. Plus, some kids with cancer will get to take advantage of the hair that I no longer need. Sounds like a win-win to me.

 

Tallulah Gorge State Park

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On our numerous drives back and forth to Tallahassee, we pass by a number of National Parks and I’ve always lamented that we never seem to make time to stop at any of them. This past weekend, I decided that we were going to make a special trip down to Tallulah Falls, Georgia (about 45 minutes from us) so that we could finally see the spectacular gorge that I’d been reading about. Here’s a description of the gorge from their website:

One of the most spectacular canyons in the eastern U.S., Tallulah Gorge is two miles long and nearly 1,000 feet deep. Visitors can hike rim trails to several overlooks, or they can obtain a free permit (limit 100 per day) to hike down to the gorge floor. A suspension bridge sways 80 feet above the rocky bottom, providing spectacular views of the river and waterfalls.

Boy, was it worth the drive. Here are some pictures from the North Rim Trail:

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Here, you can see hikers making their way down to the gorge floor.

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Here are some pictures from the South Rim Trail:

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You’ll notice that I was in jeans and flip flops – not exactly perfect hiking gear. I had researched the difficulty of the trails and since we had Lexi with us, we had decided to stick to the easy paths on this first trip. You can see here that the trails are quite smooth and very well trod.

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Now that we’ve taken this first exploratory trip, I cannot wait to go back (in full hiking gear) in the fall to get the full experience. I’ve been to a number of gorgeous locations on this earth and Tallulah Gorge is definitely up there with the most breathtaking of them.

This Week’s Menu

Thanks to the crazy weather and power outages over the last week, I am quite behind on just about everything (work, laundry, Words with Friends,…). As a result, I planned this week’s menu with level of ease and speed in mind. For breakfast, I’ve been sticking to either 2 hard-boiled eggs with a bowl of fruit or Greek yogurt topped with natural granola. Both options keep me full until lunch and since I lost another .9 lbs. this past week, I’m not messing with my caloric intake much. It seems that I’m right where I need to be to stay on target.

Lunch:
– Mozzarella, basil and tomato panini (my version of a glorified grilled cheese)
– Mediterranean bulgur salad (I’m still not sick of it!)
– Tuna salad Salad (a house salad with 6 oz. of tuna salad on top)
– Hummus, cucumbers and feta in a whole wheat pita

Dinner:
– Black beans and brown rice
– vegetarian lasagna
– Shrimp pasta salad with buttermilk-herb dressing (I’m obsessed with this dish)
– Baked salmon with a dill-mustard sauce with steamed broccoli

Workouts
Well, I’ve fallen short of my target number of workouts yet again and I’m starting to wonder if I simply set the bar too high. I’m going to cut myself some slack for the next 2 weeks and try to find my rhythm again on July 1st when I’m neither teaching nor prepping classes. My new mantra in the meantime is, “You will get there again.” I keep reminding myself that I didn’t start training for my first marathon until Parker was 16 months old, so it’s okay to take it slow in these early months. Easier said than done, Eh?

A Taste of Scotland – Franklin, NC

In the spirit of spending more time together as a family, we’ve decided that Saturdays are for exploring. We’re turning off computers, cell phones and TVs in favor of scouting out local festivals and hiking trails. This past Saturday was our first adventure and we decided to start things off with the Scottish Festival in nearby Franklin, NC. We’re fortunate that our little town is less than 20 miles from Franklin, Bryson City, Cherokee and Waynesville (and just over 40 miles from Asheville) so we have a ton of opportunities around us each and every week.

Franklin is a lovely town with a vintage feel that is common to this area. The buildings on Main Street haven’t changed much in the last 100 years and the signs probably haven’t been upgraded in the last 50.

Like all of western North Carolina, everywhere you look, you’ll have a view of the Smokey or Blue Ridge Mountains. Even after two years here, I still breathe a sigh of contentment upon glimpsing the mountainous skyline.

Back in the 1700s, Scots emigrated to this area in droves. The Highlanders in particular had the hearty constitution to brave the wilderness and the mountains reminded them somewhat of home. The largest Clan gathering in the world is near Boone, North Carolina and Franklin is home to the Scottish Tartans Museum.

The Festival started with a parade, introducing the Clans that were in attendance.

They marched with their dogs big…

Irish Wolfhound

…and small.

Scottish Terriers

There was music abound…

…and plenty of men in kilts.

Of course, Lexi missed all of it…

but who can blame her? She had a nice spot in the shade and it was a beautiful, breezy day.

As I stood there and watched the crowds showing their pride in their homeland (however many generations removed), it made me homesick for Greece. This is only the second year in the last decade that I haven’t spent part of my summer there and the absence of my annual trip is like a wound in my side. I know that we will be headed back next year (as a family of four!), but in the meantime, I’m going to drown myself in olives and feta cheese and pretend that I’m sitting on the balcony enjoying the sunset.