It’s as if you were there…

26 03 2009

The school where Isaac takes his piano lessons had their annual performathon.  It’s always fun, we can sit for however long we want and listen to students of all ages and abilities performing on piano, violin, guitar, voice, etc.  We really enjoy it.  But Jonathan gets restless, so this time Karen handed him her point and shoot digital camera.  I always love seeing Jonny’s photographs; it’s like seeing into his brain and how it works.

nothing odd here

quite lovely

what is that thing on the ceiling, exactly?

okay, I suppose the chairs are interesting

yes we all knew this one was coming...

He made me show him these pictures right after he took them.

At this point I'm shaking with laughter

whew!  Back to normal.

omg why am I laughing tears?

So there you have it.  A peek inside Jonathan’s brain.  We hope you enjoyed the show.

Battle Royale

24 03 2009

Nate and Ben have been battling it out over toys lately.  It’s a toss up who’s going to win each one, but Nathaniel has been winning more and more of them.  Ben, however, has a secret weapon.  Once the toy is gone, he often loses interest. 

Let the games begin

This wonderful activity table was a Christmas present to the little ones from their dear Auntie Dawn.  It’s very cool that they can both play with it at the same time.  Nate still wants to keep pulling it away from Ben, though.

The groundhog was right this year

15 03 2009

I’m not sure if I’ve done a “signs of spring” post in the past.  This is my third spring in the blogoshpere.  But I don’t care.  After months of cold and wind sucking the life force out of me I noticed three things this past week that that boon a change in the seasons.  

The birds have come back.

He looks delicious.  I'll bet he's lean from flying all that way.

The crocuses have sprouted.

It looks like they've sprouted, seeded, and died all while I was locked inside.

And the lilac bush is budding.  

Right next to the trash cans.  They make our garbage smell real nice.

So winter is on the decline and spring is speeding towards us.  You know what that means.  I’ll have to start cutting the grass again.

Perhaps a little humility…

8 03 2009

It’s a very bad thing to upset karma.  Sometimes karma waits and pays you back after you think you’ve gotten away with something.  And sometimes you run out of the church after stealing from the collection plate and get hit by a bus.  I’m not sure how I got on the wrong side of karma. Maybe it was me claiming the ability to affect the outcome of Super Bowls (even if I was right).  I’m not sure.  But to whomever I offended, I’m sorry.  

“What is he going on and on about?”  Let me tell you.  Pull up a chair and enjoy the show.

The Death of the Cockroach

Karen’s car, the cockroach, the 14 year old Olds Cutlass, had been overheating.  I made an appointment with the mechanic and we took it in to be checked out last Wednesday.  I got a call midday telling me the repairs would cost $650.  This exceeds the value of the car, so we made a tough decision to say goodbye to the old girl.  I started shopping online for a car for Karen.  In the meantime Karen drove the van to work.

The next day – Thursday – I got a call from Karen after work.  “The van won’t go.  It goes – kind of – forward, but it won’t reverse at all.”  Yes, that’s right, after 150,000 miles of abuse the transmission in the van failed the day after we decide to replace the Olds.  So Karen bums a ride from somebody at work to the mechanic’s to drive the overheating Olds home.  I told her to get a ride to work the next day.  She drives the Olds to work anyway.

The next day  – Friday – I get a call from Karen on her way home.  “I’m on the interstate and the car is really overheating.  I can’t make it home.”  She drives back to work (stopping often to let it cool down) and leaves the car there while I find an angel of a friend to go pick her up and bring her home because – remember – I DON’T HAVE A CAR EITHER!!!!!!  No, I’m stranded at home with four kids while my wife maneuvers the interstate in a car that is minutes away from exploding into flames.

Saturday I get out of bed and I’m ready to go car shopping.  Except one thing.  You kind of need a car to go car shopping.  I call around and get my next door neighbor to drive me to pick up a rental car for a week.  I go car shopping.  I find a van.  I buy the van.  Everyone at the dealer enjoys my story.  But it’s an hour away from home and I’m in a mid-sized rental car that seats four.  Luckily the dealer offers free delivery so they promise to bring it to my house Monday morning.

Cars are evil.

Pepper Steak

2 03 2009

Every Valentine’s day the local butcher shop has beef tenderloin on sale.  And every time we get tenderloin we make a roast (this roast) because, well, it’s really good.  I tend to stick with winners when dealing with expensive cuts of meat.  As a result I’d never made a filet steak and now I had a perfect opportunity.  You see, I was planning a surprise dinner for Karen.  One thing I’ve learned is that if you’re planning a surprise dinner and they might come home late, a roast is a bad idea.  If you think that special someone is coming home at 6:30 and she comes home at 8:00 then you’re stuck with a really overdone roast.  But steaks cook quickly.  Steaks can be prepared while they watch, preferably after the kids go to bed.

Most of my culinary knowledge comes courtesy of Alton Brown.  And it is on his show that I was first introduced to Steak au Poivre.  (Here’s the recipe)  It’s got just a few ingredients.

Pepper, cream, and brandy works for me

Step one is to season the meat all over with salt.  Then crush the black peppercorns and press them into the meat, covering both sides.  Then cook the steaks.

No I didn't set off the smoke detector

When the steaks are done take them out and let them rest.  Then pour in some brandy and let the alcohol cook off.   Now I’ve read elsewhere (like Anthony Bourdain’s cookbook) that to make the sauce you need veal stock and demi-glace, but Alton just adds heavy cream and that’s good enough for me.  Let it reduce until it coats the back of a spoon.  You’re done.

It's almost done here, but not quite

Now I looked for more interesting things to serve it with than merely potatoes, but I haven’t seen many who mess with tradition.  Who am I to disagree?  I served mashed potatoes and a green salad that, I’ll admit, I asked Karen to make.  But I made 2/3 of dinner.

Nice dinner, yes? Only if the kids are asleep.

I did, however, overcook the steaks.  They were medium well to well, just a tiny bit of pink in the middle.  Too bad.  I’d rather they moo in pain when I cut into them.