For Christmas buy me Nintendo stock.

31 08 2008

I’ve wanted to do a video game review for ages.  We like video games in our house.  Even Karen likes some games that aren’t marketed towards women.  She likes the Legend of Zelda games and she’s pretty excited about starting Oblivion.  Way cool, I say.  

There are very few games I purchase without reading a review first.  Trust me, it’s worth waiting a week after the game comes out to read a hands-on review of the game.  But sometimes it’s okay to break this rule.  For instance, you’re usually safe buying any of the Nintendo franchises because they’re all great games.  That’s why they’ve become so popular.  The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Super Mario Galaxy are two examples for the Wii alone.  But we recently realized that Nintendo is no longer trustworthy.  

I’ve been wary of Pokemon since the boys got interested in it this spring.  The whole thing sounded like a big money pit to me.  And I wasn’t disappointed.  There are Pokemon cards, action figures, video games, books, tv shows, movies, and now we own them all.  Released in 2007 are the video games Pokemon: Diamond, and Pokemon: Pearl for the DS and Pokemon Battle Revolution for the Wii.   We should have known better.

The Nintendo Wii communicates to the handheld DS via WiFi.  In Pokemon Battle Revolution you can battle your friends or family on the Wii with the little Pokemon dudes you’ve been collecting in your Pokemon: Diamond and Pearl games for the DS.  But here’s the catch.  That’s all this game does.  Battle with little fighters you’ve already got.  There’s no adventure, no story, nothing to unlock or collect.  You just battle.  But you can already do that with the DS games, so why do you need to spend another 50 bucks just so you can see the battle on your TV?  

We actually bought the Wii game before we had any of the DS games, so we were more than a little disappointed we couldn’t play it out of the box.  So, take 50 bucks for a Wii game and add 35 bucks each for two DS games and you’ve got a $120 investment in Pokemon.  You wanna know why I let them play so many video games this summer?  When you spend that much on video games you feel an obligation to use it or you’ve wasted all that money.

END NOTE:  I complain mercilessly about how dull and uninteresting Pokemon is.  But it has (for the moment) replaced Zelda as the video game that the kids play with Karen.  As parents we often look for things to do with our kids that everyone will enjoy, and right now Karen has found that thing.  It’s that thing they wake up talking about and go to bed dreaming about.  They will always remember this as the summer they played Pokemon with Mom.  And if that makes her the coolest mom in the whole second grade, good for her.

My first Zinger

27 08 2008

Since this is a family and food blog it could be easy for me to just ignore the Olympics. But Karen and I did watch a fair amount of events, and we did enjoy most of what we saw.  But nestled in there tightly among the hours and hours and hours of beach volleyball televised by NBC was something I truly found inspiring.  I was inspired by an athlete who did what few others in his situation could do.  He celebrated his silver medal.  

It never ceases to amaze me when sportscasters and TV hosts act all disappointed in people who “settle for silver.”  Like Bob Costas could do better.  But there, after the men’s 100m dash final, was Richard Thompson from Trinidad & Tobago celebrating his silver medal as if he’d won gold.  It was obvious that he felt he’d run the race of his life, and he was truly proud of his accomplishment.  All Karen and I could do was wonder how long the fete would be in Trinidad.  I’m sure nobody went to work for a week.  

So, being that a Trini won the title of the World’s second-fastest man, I got to thinking once again about Trinidad food.  In particular, what kind of Trini food makes me get up and run.  This usually includes a fair amount of pepper.  Actually it most likely only involves a little pepper, but humor me, okay?  So I thought of the one food that has scared me off by its very name: The Zinger.

The Zinger is a fried chicken sandwich from KFC with plenty pepper.  I’d never heard of a Zinger before, and I’m pretty sure they don’t sell them here in the States.  Here’s KFC’s website from the United Kingdom talking about the Zinger.  Yes I know that KFC sells the Zinger in other countries too, but I first heard about it in Trinidad, where half the street vendors have “Flame” or “Fire” in their name.  

I started with a basic chicken marinade found in the Naparima cookbook.  It includes the following:

Soy sauce
Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt
Black pepper
Pepper sauce
Trinidad green seasoning

After marinading the chicken breasts I dredged them in some flour, paprika, and cayenne pepper and pan fried them.  They came out crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.  

Okay, maybe the outside was a little charred, but it was crispy.  

Sliced up and put on a bun with some lettuce, ketchup, and mustard with fries chips on the side.  How yuh like dat, boy?  The sad thing was, there really wasn’t much zing to this sandwich.  The pepper sauce in the marinade never really made its way into the chicken, so the only trace of heat was in the breading.  And since I sliced the chicken I took away most of that.  Let’s call this one a work in progress.  

Next time I’m going all out.  I’ll trim the breasts down so I don’t have to slice them.  I’ll use a real batter with serious pepper, and they’re getting deep fried.  Oh, and I’m also making my own fries chips.

Out and about

25 08 2008

This is the new double stroller given to us at Karen’s baby shower.  Note that Ben’s feet are on Nathaniel’s foot rest, making him rock.

See? He’s not so bad.

19 08 2008

Ben’s even willing to share the swing with Nathaniel.  

For a minute or two.

…because it was 68 degrees outside

17 08 2008

Being married to someone from the Caribbean is kinda cool.  No, it’s really cool.  I love Karen’s heritage and the culture of Trinidad.  And the food is pretty awesome too.  But here’s the thing.  In Trinidad they have a different definition of the word cold than we do here in the temperate zones.  Chilly in Trinidad is 70 degrees (21 Celsius).  Cold is anything below 70 degrees.  They wear jackets in Trinidad on chilly evenings.  Some even have electric blankets for when the nights drop below 70.  I, on the other hand, have trouble sleeping if the room is above 70 degrees.  So at home I turn the thermostat way up during the day and way down at night.  Karen has adapted to this for the most part, but the rest of her family isn’t so used to it.  During a visit in December I found her brother sleeping bundled up with a blanket and comforter as well as his winter coat and hat.

The good thing about Karen being pregnant during the summer is that she never complained about it being too cold in the house.  But she’s not pregnant any more, so it has returned.  And I thought she was finally adapting to the climate.  So when we had some unusual weather last week with rain, hail, and cooler temperatures, it took her (and us all) by surprise.  We took the kids to Borders one evening after it had finished raining, and Karen was shocked at how the temperature had dropped.  It was 68 degrees outside, and when Karen felt that cold Pennsylvania air she went and put on some long pants and long sleeves.  And since her motto is “If I’m cold then the baby must be cold,” she also found some warmer clothes for Nathaniel.

To be fair, he is less than a month old and this was one of our first outings with him.  But I thought it was pretty awesome to have him bundled up like that in August.

Mark for President

13 08 2008

In the US Constitution it stipulates that to be President all you need is to be a natural born citizen and be 35 years old or older. Click here to learn all about the Presidency.   Being that today is my 35th birthday, I decided to celebrate by announcing my candidacy for President of the United States.  My campaign slogan will be “Because I’m old enough!”  As a VP running mate I choose my sister, since she’s much older more qualified than me.

Why should I run for President, you ask?  It came to me as I remembered civics class and the minimum age requirement.  I realized that in this and all future Presidential elections I must ask myself “Is this person more qualified than me?”  So I did some research about the two candidates we have to choose from I came to an important decision.  I’m running for President.  

Think about it.  This has got to be the easiest job interview in the world.  Even Wal-Mart asked me on its employment application what was the date of my last employment.  They offered me a lower wage because I hadn’t “worked” in six years.  But if you want to be President there are only three questions.  1. Were you born here?  2. Are you at least 35 years old?   3. Do you have enough signatures?   Hmmm…. I’ve got the first two.  What about the signatures?  Maybe if I do another giveaway…

Before you ask, yes he has long toes.

12 08 2008

Why it took me over a year to paint the stairs

7 08 2008

I’m big on excuses.  I’ve got lots of excuses for why nothing gets done around the house.  But Karen has employed a brilliant strategy.  She’s been playing along with this whole “house hunting” idea, and because of this many of these projects have been completed.  

So, what’s my excuse been this time?  I hate heights.  Let me clarify.  I hate ladders.  My first summer job was with a roofing contractor, so as long as there is something solid under my feet I am fine.  But ladders bounce.  They move when you climb them.  I hate them.  And I could paint that whole stairwell with my paint roller on a stick, but there was only one way to paint that window.  And that was to put up a ladder over the stairs.  Note that I had to lean out over the stairs to get to part of the window.

Just so you know, that blue painters’ tape is very difficult to remove after a year.  But the window did get painted, and I put up the new blinds as well.

This is exactly how those blinds are going to look forever.  I’m too short to reach those strings, so they’ll never get opened or closed.

Their first group activity

5 08 2008

Guest Contributor: Book review by an 8-year-old

2 08 2008

I love Children’s fiction.  I love the Harry Potter books, I like Cornelia Funke, and I even read (and enjoyed) Eragon, even though the author was 17 years old when he wrote it.  And I’m thrilled that Isaac and Jonathan are getting old enough that we can start reading these stories together.  Last year I read James and the Giant Peach to them and we all had a great time.

I read The Tale of Despereaux last year (by myself), and while it had some suspense, I didn’t think it too scary for an 8-year old.  So I put it on the shelf and saved it for this summer.  After school let out I read it as a bedtime story to the now 8-year-old Isaac and 5-year-old Jonathan, and they begged for it every night.  I liked the fact that the author uses “big” words in the book.  Words like “perfidy.”  I’m not sure I knew what it meant before I read this book either.  I asked “Do you know what that word means?  What do you think it means?” a lot.

Here’s Isaac’s review:

My dad read me and my brother the Tale of Despereaux.  It is a story about a small mouse who saves a princess.  I think all my friends should read it too!  My favorite part is when Despereaux eats some soup.

Not bad for his first book review.

NEWS FLASH: During my search for links about the book I discovered that it’s being made into a movie, due out this Christmas.  Way cool.