Playful feet

30 09 2008

Sitting in the double stroller facing each other, the boys find a way to occupy themselves.

Okay, it was mostly Ben.  But he had a blast and Nate seemed to be thinking “What is that odd sensation at my feet?”





Birthday girl

28 09 2008

There’s only one girl in our house, and Sunday was her birthday.  She’s a beautiful woman and a great mom and a really fun wife to have.  She enjoys Pokemon battles and green tea ice cream.  She hasn’t had a lot of down time lately, she’s got a newborn you know, and she just went back to work.  As such she hasn’t been able to update her blog as often as she’d like.  But her blog is still way cooler than mine, so everybody click this link:

Ben and his Brothers

and wish Karen a happy birthday.  





My first fry

24 09 2008

A while ago I posted about eating chili cheese fries from the Hot Dog Shoppe back home.  Since I’m not back home any more I decided to try my luck making my own chili cheese fries.  I say luck because things don’t always go so well when I try out a new cooking technique.  I’d never deep fried anything at home, and the possibility of me burning down the house (again) added a little excitement to the kitchen.  And I needed the distraction since Big Ben was getting sacked 147 times by the Eagles on Sunday.

Step one of my quest involved tweaking my chili recipe.  I decided on something less chunky than my usual awesome recipe, and to use ground beef because it would allow the chili to flow down into the fries, melding the flavors and, wow, I’m making myself hungry again.  ANYWAY since I’ve been making my own Italian tomato sauce for a while now I figured it’s a simple thing to make a more midwestern tomato sauce.  Of course I did.  Here’s how it went:

Chili:

Ingredients
Tomatoes 
1lb. ground sirloin
2 Chipotle chiles
1/2 red bell pepper
1 medium onion
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1Tbsp. Chili powder 
1 1/2 tsp. Cumin
Salt 

FIrst thing I did was roast the tomatoes.  Don’t ask why, I just did.  Until the skins were charred and easy to remove.  Then I diced up the onions, bell pepper, and garlic and put them in the pot with a little canola oil to sweat.  Once the onions were translucent I added the tomatoes and Chipotle chiles.  I let that simmer for about a half hour and then pulverized it with a stick blender.  In a separate pot I browned the ground beef and then combined it with the tomato sauce and added the chili powder and cumin and let that simmer a while.  Done.

Cheese:

I shredded some orange cheddar and monterey jack cheeses and tossed them together in a bowl.  Done.

Fries:

Ingredients
Potatoes
Salt
1 gallon canola oil

This was the fun part.  I went out and got a mandoline slicer just for this occasion.  Check out those blades.

Very cool.  It slices fries like this:

Impressive, huh?  Here’s where I originally put the plate to catch the cut fries.

Yeah, that first set of fries ended up on the table instead of the plate.

So I went to my source for all things culinary (That would be Alton Brown) for advice on deep frying.  I learned that peanut oil is most used for frying, but we’ve got a peanut allergy in the house so we’ll just play it safe and get something else.  Safflower oil (whatever that is) has the same high smoke point as peanut oil, but we can’t get that out here in the country, so I had to use canola oil, whose smoke point is 435°, which was a surprise to me.  

The very first thing you read about deep frying in Alton’s book is that it’s scary.  Hot fat contacts the water in your potatoes and causes bubbles, and if that overflows your pot and you’ve got a gas range your house burns down.  Because of this I kept my fire extinguisher handy and I didn’t take any pictures during the frying process.  Two reasons: I didn’t want to be distracted, and I also didn’t want any evidence for my homeowner’s insurance to use against me.  Alton says to use a two step frying method.  He suggests 2-3 minutes at 300° then take out the fries and let them cool to room temperature, then back in the oil at 350° for another few minutes until they brown.  That way they’re flaky on the inside and crispy on the outside.  Here’s the problem, though.  When I did this the oil went back down all the way to 215° when I put the fries in the first time.  And the second time the oil went down to 275° or so.  As a result they were in there for 10 minutes or so the second time while the oil got back up to temperature.  So I’m thinking if I ever do this again I’ll ignore that first frying step.  The potatoes will steam on the inside while the oil is heating back up.

And then, right after I put the second batch of fries in and the bubbles reached all the way to the tippy top of the pot, when my horror was at its zenith, my sister called.  Karen told her politely that I’d call her back, I was too busy screaming.  She didn’t hear me shrieking in terror, but trust me, I did.  But alas, the oil did not boil over and the house did not burn down.  I didn’t need my trusty fire extinguisher.  And the fries were darn good.





Special guest and a quiz

23 09 2008

In this week’s episode of Twosday Tuesday, little boy #2 makes a special guest appearance.

Now for the quiz:  What did Jonathan have to drink for lunch on Monday?

(A) Beer
(B) Chocolate Milk
(C) Red Bull

Not sure how you answered my question, but the answer to your question is yes, he stayed in that shirt all afternoon, even though he’s got a change of clothes at school.





See? They’re still alive.

16 09 2008

Monday was Karen’s first day back at work, and my first day home with the (rug) rat pack.  When she came home she announced with relief “You didn’t choke the older two and you didn’t starve the younger two!”

That’s my girl.  Always feeding my ego.  

Photo credit: Jonathan.





Indoctrination

9 09 2008

“Move over Ben, I can’t see the game!”

“Make me.”





Mark Ruins Football

4 09 2008

Football is here again, and I am rejoicing along with all those who will revel in NOT hearing those words “World Champion Patriots” all year long.  But we probably will next year, since they got the NFL’s easiest schedule this season.

Last year I made a simple suggestion to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell that would improve my enjoyment of watching football.  He ignored it.  Since I’m used to being ignored (I have four kids you know) I decided to add another suggestion at the beginning of this football season.  So here it is:

End Zone Celebrations

The NFL is often called the “No Fun League” since they don’t allow elaborate touchdown celebrations.  I’m not sure why, maybe it cuts into time better spent on a commercial break.  But these celebrations are enjoyed by fans, players, and members of the media alike.  The only people who seem to dislike them are the owners.

My solution: I propose a new rule.  As long as it’s not taunting, any touchdown celebration goes.  Anything. (Remember when T.O. did the Ray Lewis dance in front of Ray Lewis?  Guts, my friend.)   You want to bring the whole team out and do the Hustle in the end zone, go for it (but practice, please).  So long as it’s tasteful and you keep your clothes on, it’s fair game.  You’ve got 45 seconds until the PAT attempt, it’s all yours, take the stage.  

BUT…….  

For any other play celebrations are banned.  With a 15 yard penalty. Heck, I’ll make it easier.  Any scoring play is allowed a celebration.  I loved watching those kickers hurt themselves celebrating a 15 yard field goal.  That’s good television.  But other than that, get back in the huddle or back on the sideline.

It’s really annoying to see players who are supposed to be professionals celebrating after mundane plays. This is much worse than any touchdown celebration.  Remember the NY Giants’ defense a couple years ago with that silly “jump shot” celebration after every tackle they made?  On Monday Night Football, no less.  That made the game almost unwatchable.  Even Al Micheals commented that “This has to stop.”  

So that’s the rule: You wanna celebrate, you gotta score.

The above comments were not intended to be inflammatory and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Mark Ruins Dinner.  If you are a member of the 2006 NY Giants’ defense and would like to come and beat me to a bloody pulp my name is Neil O’Donnell.