Monday, August 15, 2011

Raising Belle

You might have noticed the new blog title.  Or maybe not!  In any case, I've been trying to figure out what to name this blog since we don't have our dog anymore, and I've settled on "Raising Belle." 

Wanna know why? 

Well, it's pretty simple.  Our little girl has several nicknames, one of the most popular of which is "Belle."  This is really a shortened version of Ellabelle, which was another nickname of hers.  (James is big on the nicknames....he's got a million of 'em.)  It's appropriate for several reasons.  First, she's beautiful, and "belle" is the French word for beautiful.  Second, her mama is Southern, and soon she will also live in the deep South, so she will be a little Southern Belle.  Finally, she's a little wild woman, so it makes sense to give a nod to the expression, "raising hell"....thus, we are Raising Belle!!


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Adventures in Spaghetti

I might have gone a little bit nuts at the farmers' market in Tower Grove Park this morning.  Okay, maybe I went a LOT nuts...whatever.  Since James is on call all weekend, I figured I'd spend a little time in the kitchen working on my spaghetti sauce recipe.  Over the past 10 years or so, I've used a spaghetti sauce recipe that starts with a commercially jarred sauce, simply adding fresh ingredients to that base.  But I thought it would taste even better if everything in the sauce was fresh, so today I decided to experiment.

Here's the lineup...onions, tomatoes, red peppers, garlic, carrots, olive oil, wine, garlic powder, onion powder, san marzano tomatoes, and fresh herbs.

A really huge cast iron pot...

 even bigger cutting board...

...lots of fresh herbs on the back deck...

Unfortunately, I had to buy the tomatoes, since the local wildlife have already enjoyed ALL of mine on my behalf.  Stupid squirrels.

So here's what I did.  I chopped up the onions.

...and the carrots...

I made the carrots really small, so they'd soften quickly, and I tossed them (along with the onions) into the pot with olive oil to soften up for about 8 minutes. 

Meanwhile, I peeled and grated the garlic.  Yes, I grate my garlic rather than chopping it.  Just call me Rachael Ray.

The next step is where things went awry.  I thought that I would make the tomato puree by pulsing some canned San Marzano tomatoes in the food processor.  They are supposed to taste great, because they grow in the fertile soil at the base of Mount Vesuvius in Italy, and they're really famous.  Well, let me tell you that I didn't really like the taste.  SO....I made two batches - one with the SM tomatoes pureed, and one with some tomatoes from the farmers' market pureed.  I liked the fresh stuff much better.  Lesson learned.

Then, I chopped up some (like a LOT of) tomatoes and threw them in the pot. 

For some extra tomato goodness, I put in some tomato paste.

Then I picked some basil and oregano from the garden, chopped it, and tossed it in.

Then I added salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, a little sugar, and about a fourth of a bottle of chianti.  I let that simmer for about an hour, and it was fabulous!!

The stuff with the fresh tomatoes was much tastier than the stuff with the canned ones, although they were both much better than what you buy in the spaghetti sauce section of the grocery store.  Why not try to make your own?  It's actually not hard, and it's delicious!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

House Cleaning

Ella's hanging out in her high chair eating lunch, chowing down on hotdogs, black beans, spanish rice, and wheat bread.  Someday, she'll realize that those things aren't meant to be eaten together, but for now, she thinks I'm the next Paula Dean, so I'm going to go with it.  Besides, I'm having brain freeze.

Why, you ask? 

Well, I'll tell you.  I just cleared over 3000 emails out of my inbox.  I had to sort them through, rather than just deleting the whole inbox, because there were some things in there that had to be saved.  It's mind-numbing, which is why I haven't done it in probably 2 years.  I'm so glad that's done.  I really need to do my other email address's inbox, too, but I'll save that for another day. 

In other news, we're back home from Saratoga, and we had a BLAST.  I'll do some blog posts about it soon, so that you can see what we did.  I've unpacked the suitcases, straightened up the house, and now I need to go to the grocery store. 

Okay, Ella's done with lunch and wants to get down, so I'd better go.  Bye!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Backyard Fun!

By now, I'm sure everyone has heard about the mythical "heat dome" that is trapping a horrible weather system over the midwestern United States, causing record high temperatures for weeks this summer.  And if you haven't heard about it, I want to know where you live, so that I can live there, too. 

But anyway.

After six straight weeks of telling Ella that she couldn't play outside because it was too hot, James and I realized that we needed a new strategy.  Our little girl has breathing problems, and they get worse (like scary worse) when she gets overheated, so I couldn't just let her run around in the yard.  Then, we went to the seminary's summer picnic, where they had kiddie pools set up outside, along with a slip and slide (blast from the past!) for the kids to cool off from the heat.  (The Dean of Students also climbed into the pool and took several runs down the slip and slide, too.  That's why we love him.)  That gave us an idea...we needed to buy our own pool!

So the next day, we went to Target and got a fun little blow-up pool, and Ella thought it was the greatest thing ever.  Here's how it works.  Ella wakes up, and we do our usual morning and afternoon routine.  Then, around the time that James usually comes home from work, she starts making periodic trips to the front door to look out at the street and see if daddy is home yet.  I eventually get her a little popsicle to combat the heat, and we go out to sit on the front porch and wait.  Before too long, she sees his car pull up, and he gets out.  She squeals, "DADDY!!!!" as he walks up, and she starts to jump around and run into the house.  Before he even gets his shoes off or puts his keys down, she starts trying to pull him towards the back door.  After a few minutes, he humors her, and she leads him to the garage, where they pull out the swimming pool, as I head upstairs to get swimsuits for both of them. 

It's adorable.  Seriously. 

You might notice all of the letters and numbers floating around in the water...those are her bath toys.  She loves to bring them downstairs and put them in the pool.

Ella doesn't seem to think the pool is nearly as much fun if James doesn't get into it and splash with her.  She's such a sweetheart.