Preparing to Hand Over the Keys

Last night I received a text from the realtor that he would be putting up the “SOLD” sign.  Of course I was incredibly happy, this has been a loooooong time coming.  Each month paying for a home we no longer live in, a yard we no longer enjoy (definitely didn’t mind texting the gardener that he no longer had to come after this month), a life we no longer live.  It’s tough.  Even tougher is hearing your children ask “when are we going home”.

I intend on going to the house a couple more times.  There are peony tubers that were in my father’s yard that I dug up and planted everywhere I’ve lived, they must come with me.  There are a few items in the garage that I’ll pack up and take.  But what I really want to do is just say goodbye to the first home my twinadoes knew.

Not long after I left that home I mentally detached myself from it.  When I go there it doesn’t feel familiar anymore, if feels so distant.  However, if I stand long enough and let my mind wander I can get some of those feelings back.  I can hear my kids banging into the cabinets on their little motorcycles, or smell that familiar home smell, get glimpses of how I had my home set up.  But I can’t allow myself to do that, and I don’t.

My knowledge of the new owners is not much.  I know what they do, where they are from, and their names.  Honestly, I don’t want to know them.  What I do want is for them to enjoy their home as much as I did.  In a couple months there will be so many plants, herbs, and flowers coming to life in the garden, I almost want to leave them a note letting them know.  But I won’t.  I want to tell them how beautiful a Christmas tree looks in the front living room, but I won’t.  I’ll let them experience their new home without my commentary.  Bring in their life and world where mine once existed.

When we do the final signing I know there is a good chance I will meet them, and that’s ok.  I’ll be pleasant, wish them well in their new home then head off to find my new home.  This is an exciting time mixed in with some sadness.  I hate saying goodbye, but with this goodbye comes a lot of hellos.  So time for me to lock away the memories of our “snoho house” and get ready for all the new memories I’ll be making in our new home, wherever she may be.

Advertisements

Sichuan Peppercorn Shrimp

DSC_1864

Even though I’m not a fan of whole black peppercorns in food, and don’t even get me started on peppercorn crusted steaks.. I really like Sichuan peppercorns and pink peppercorns.  Their flavors are so much different, at least to me.  That tingle that the Sichuan peppercorns give your mouth is very pleasant.  Honestly, these shrimp take minutes to prepare, in fact, if it takes you longer you are doing it wrong!!

For the Recipe:

oil for frying

1 lb. shrimp, shelled and deveined (I used the 14/16 but you don’t have to use that big)

2 tbsp. + 1 tsp.(for sprinkling over the cooked shrimp) Sichuan peppercorns, roasted then broken up in a mortar and pestle, you want them to still have some substance to them, not turned to powder

1 egg white, beaten in a bowl

1/2 c. cornstarch

1 tsp. salt (adjust to your taste)

Heat enough oil in a pan to deep fry the shrimp.  I use my wok for this, the shape makes it perfect for deep frying.  Coat the shrimp with the egg white.  In a bowl add the cornstarch and 2 tbsp. peppercorns.  Coat the shrimp in this mixture making sure to get some of the peppercorns on the shrimp.  When the oil has heated up to about 350 degrees fry the shrimp, don’t overcrowd the pan.  Cook for about a minute then flip, cooking another minute and a half or so until they are pink.  Don’t let them cook too long or they will be tough.  Place them on some paper towels or paper bags to drain, immediately sprinkle with the salt and the reserved 1 tsp. peppercorns.

DSC_1865

Enjoy!!

Separating the Twinadoes

Thing 1 and Thing 2 have been together from their very, and I mean VERY, beginning.  When we brought them home we had a little twin sleeper that had two side by side compartments but they preferred to be in one together.  We only set up one nursery and figured we would separate them when we changed their cribs to toddler beds.  That idea was met with tears and “no!!”.  So we shelved the idea of separating them and decided to wait until they were ready and asked for it.

Well I think that time is coming.  Thing 2 has been mentioning she wants “her own space”.  I told her when we move we will set up their rooms so they each have one, she liked that idea.  Of course it was followed with “but Oliver and I can share each other’s room when we sleep, right?”.  So I think it will still be a transition and there will still be some room sharing at bedtime, but complete room sharing is coming to an end.

This makes me a little sad.  My little babies are just not babies anymore, haven’t been for a while.  They are growing up and becoming so very independent.  It’s exciting to see this, but also a little hard on my mom heart.  I totally get it when women with adult kids still try to mother them, I think it’s something that just never leaves us.  Even those of us that are not effortless mothers.  They are our babies no matter what.

I’ll take this next stage in stride.  I’ll have a little private cry after I finish setting up their individual rooms, then take comfort that they are doing what they should be doing…growing up.

Being A Mom Is Tough

On several occasions I’ve mentioned the issues Mr. Housewife and I had trying to have children.  There’s no way anyone could say my twinadoes were not planned or wanted.  When we had not one but two babies I was in complete shock and so incredibly happy, there would be two people in this world that called me Mom.  But now that I’ve said the obligatory precursor to any complaints about motherhood I’m going to get real honest.  For me, motherhood is freaking tough and at times sucks.  Yup, I said it.  There are times in the day when all I want to do is run and lock myself in a room and turn up the television so I can’t hear their yelling and noise.  I don’t live for taking my kids to the park or endless jump places.  My head still bobs and weaves to avoid sticky gross hands coming at my face.  And that patience everyone said I would get when I had them, uh, still waiting for that to show up.

There are some women I know that just ooze maternal goop out of every pore of their body, I am envious.  I want that, really I do.  They make being a mom look so effortless.  Oh I know they have their moments, I’m not completely off my rocker, but it just seems like their moments are less frequent than mine.  It’s like they were seriously born to be mothers, (and yes, I know technically that is what we are born to become) to be these wondrous nurturers of the world.  How in the hell did I miss that gene?

I’ve always known that I wasn’t the kind of woman that had this strong maternal instinct.  When people would have babies or bring them around, while everyone else was squealing in delight over this tiny person I was standing in the peripheral hoping they wouldn’t ask me to hold it.  No, I didn’t like holding babies, still don’t.  Now don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on my babies, I was attached to those two little lovey lovies like Superglue.  I was very reluctant to hand them over to people, and when I did they were a very selective few.  But when those few were around I was more than happy to hand them off and get a break.

Nor was I the type that thought every baby was adorable, not even close.  I’ve never told a mom that her child was hideous (I do have some tact), but I’ve thought it.  Those maternal women see adorable faces in every baby they see, and look at them with such glazed eyes.  Uuuugghhh….

I really have to work at being a mom.  And some days I have to remind myself that I can survive this and actually enjoy it.  Having two kids at once is tough, sometimes I wish I could also know what it’s like to have just one baby that needed my time.  To be able to focus on just one little person, and take a little extra time and savor the mundane.  With my two, it has always been a race.  Race to get them both fed so one doesn’t complain that the other has something they don’t.  A race to get them both dressed.  The unending fights because they can’t agree on anything and then don’t want to wait their turn so you race to satiate them both.

My wish and hope is that in the end my kids look back and see that I tried to do my best, even though compared to those maternal monsters I looked as though I was a fish out of water.  Daily I struggle to make sure the twinadoes know I love and care for them.  Though I know there are days when they think I’m the mean mom that is here to squash their fun with rules and structure.  I may not be the mom that is always rolling all over the floor with her kids, spends hours and hours making sheet forts or playing never ending Shoots and Ladders but I am the mom that will make you wish you had jumped in front of a bus rather than face my wrath if you hurt my kids.  The bus would be a much quicker end than what I would give you.

So to all you maternal goddesses that look at those of us that are not as maternally blessed with those judging eyes, knock it off and cut us some slack.  Go spend that time shooting out another kid you’ll no doubt have great ease in mothering or bake a casserole or something.  Me?  I’m going to go force myself to sit and watch Horton for the 307th time because the twinadoes love it.

Momofuku Buns with Ground Beef Filling

Every so often I find myself looking up the Momofuku Pork Bun recipe pondering if I should make it or not.  Normally I would just say “I’ll try it later”.  Well later finally came, I made it today.  What in the world was I waiting for?  Seriously.  Now I should say that I only made the buns, not the pork belly filling, rather I got a little creative using what I had on hand.  An has offer made, and accepted, on the house, one that we are very hopeful will leave us homeless, so I have been looking around thinking of all the food I want to use up rather than toss or pack up.  In the freezer were several packages of ground beef, so I decided I would add some Asian flavors and make it work with the buns.  I succeeded.  The original recipe had a quick cucumber pickle, but I did a quickie vegetable medley instead, and honestly, it worked really well.

A note on the bun recipe, it makes 50 buns.  Now these are not large buns, but unless you are serving a small army you will not eat them all at one meal.  The good news, they freeze wonderfully so you can have a super quick dinner another time.

For the Recipe:

DSC_1848

Momofuku Buns

DSC_1850

1 tbsp. canola oil, I used my wok so I had to use a higher smoke point oil

1 lb. ground beef (I used 93/7), you could easily substitute pork or chicken

1 tsp. sesame oil

1/2 tsp. pepper

3 shitake mushrooms, small dice so they match the ground beef

2 thai chiles, seeded and cut into thin strips (use only one for less spice)

2 tbsp. fish sauce

1 tbsp. ginger, grated

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 scallions, cut thin

DSC_1851

For the Quickie Vinegar Vegetable Salad

1/2 c. snap peas, thinly sliced into matchsticks

1/4 c. cilantro, roughly chopped

1/4 c. daikon radish, thinly sliced into matchsticks

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

1 c. nappa cabbage, thinly sliced

juice from one lime

1/4 c. rice wine vinegar

2 tsp. sugar (I like mine to have a lot of the vinegar flavor, add more sugar if you prefer it more sweet)

1/2 tsp. salt

Optional Topping: Thai Basil, julienned right before serving

I cooked the beef in a wok but you could just as easily do this in a frying pan.  Add the oil to the pan and add the beef.  Cook for a few minutes while you break it up into small pieces.  Add the sesame oil, pepper and shitake mushrooms, cook for a few minutes while stirring to incorporate the sesame oil evenly.  Now time to add the chiles, fish sauce and ginger, cook for a few minutes to get the ginger all happy and friendly with the meat.  Throw in the garlic and stir well.  Lastly, add the scallions and turn off the heat.

To make the vinegar salad add all the vegetables to a bowl.  Add the rice wine vinegar, sugar, and salt, mix well.  I like to make this first so it has time to let all that glorious vinegar and lime get into the vegetables.

DSC_1853 DSC_1852

Now time to build these little perfect handfuls of deliciousness.  Open a warm bun, add a couple tablespoons of the meat, top with some of the vinegar salad and thai basil (if you choose to use).

Enjoy!

The Best Flan

DSC_1846

Flan used to be one of those desserts that I thought was way too difficult to make at home, yet, when I would order it at restaurants it was hit and miss.  Sometimes you would get a really delicious one that reaffirmed my love of the creamy dessert, other times it would be some gross jiggly thing that was probably made the week before with crappy ingredients.  So I decided to take matters in my own hands and do a little recipe hunting.  There were zillions of them, some were so ridiculous sounding to me that I just shook my head.  So, like I usually do, I combined several to make this one.  I’m really happy with it, it’s not that difficult to make, doesn’t take much time, and uses only a handful of ingredients.  I’ll be honest, the most difficult part is the caramel part.  For those of you that just can’t contain yourself and must stir everything, you will fail.  For those of you that think you can wander off because nothing is happening in the beginning and you think you have time to make just one call, you will fail.  With that said, I know you can do this!

For the Recipe:

1 3/4 c. heavy cream

1 c. whole milk

1 vanilla bean, split

3 whole eggs

2 egg yolks

6 tbsp. sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1 c. sugar

1/3 c. water

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  In a saucepan add the cream, milk, and vanilla bean.  Heat to almost a simmer, but not quite, then remove from heat and let the vanilla bean steep for 30 minutes.  To prevent the cream mixture from forming a skin place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of it.  While you wait for this you can make the caramel.  Before you start this you want to have your ramekins ready and lined up.  I use six of my Le Creuset mini cocottes, filled 3/4 full.  In a sauté pan heat the sugar and water.  Now you do not want to stir this, you can give the pan a little shake to get the water dispersed, but no stirring.

DSC_1843

Also, it’s a little slow to go, but once it starts to bubble and turn golden it will be very quick to get to a deep amber.  If you walk away you run a high chance of burning the caramel, then you will need to start over.  Also, remove it from the heat when it’s about two shades lighter than you want (should be a deep amber), it will continue to darken even after you remove it from the stove.  Use extreme caution this stuff is extremely hot and will give you a burn like you cannot believe.

DSC_1844

Immediately pour the caramel into the ramekins.  Set aside.  In a bowl add the eggs and sugar, whisk until well blended.  Add the cream mixture to this, whisking just enough to blend but not to much that it starts to foam up.  Strain this mixture to filter out any clumps and the vanilla bean.

DSC_1845

Evenly distribute between the ramekins.  Place the ramekins in a water bath and bake for 35-40 minutes, until the centers are set but still have a little wiggle to them.  Let them cool, then refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving.

Enjoy

Easy Peasy Gravy

WP_20150105_11_23_00_Pro

Gravy seems to be one of those mystical things that you either do well or you don’t.  I’ve had way too many from people that are the latter, but kudos to them for trying.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my fair share of gravy fails, but I’ve gotten pretty good.  When I make a roast meat I will use the pan drippings as the main source of flavor for gravy, but when I want just a quick gravy I do this little trick.  Better Than Bouillon has got to be one of the greatest inventions, seriously.  I use it for so many things, quick gravy is just one of them.  I’ve served it a zillion times and it always gets thumbs up from my guests, and even more “really, that’s how you made it”.

For the Recipe:

2 tbsp. butter

1 shallot, minced

8 oz. mushrooms, chopped small (optional)

2 tbsp. Better Than Boullion

3 c. water

salt and pepper to taste (add in small increments and taste)

2 tbsp. shaoxing cooking wine or red wine (optional)

1 tbsp. flour or cornstarch

In a saucepan heat the butter, then add the shallots and cook until translucent.  Mix in the Better Than Boullion, it will just melt and blend with the butter.  Next, slowly add the water and bring to a heavy simmer.  Let the gravy cook and reduce just a bit, taste and add salt and pepper if needed.  Now time to add the flour/cornstarch, don’t just dump it in or you will get clumps.  I do this one of two ways, just depends on my mood.  The first way is to use a small sifter/strainer and sprinkle it over the simmering liquid while you whisk.  The second way is to dissolve the flour/cornstarch in a little water to make a slurry and pour that in while stirring.  If you choose to use the wine you could substitute that for the water.  You want to bring it back to a simmer and let it cook for a minute or two to get rid of the raw flour taste.

That’s it, easy peasy.  Enjoy!