Friday, December 28, 2012

How Kristian convinced his wife and mother-in-law that they really do like fried oysters AKA Thursday Night

This past Christmas Eve (my birthday), my father ordered two big buckets of fresh oysters to make the above-pictured scalloped oyster dish...

...and it was delicious!

Here's the recipe base that was used (it's for 4 servings so things were multiplied accordingly)...

1 pint oysters
6 TBS. heavy cream
2+ C. crushed Ritz cracker crumbs (++)
1/2 C. melted butter
2+ TBS. dry sherry
salt and pepper to taste
~ ~ ~
Toss cracker crumbs in melted butter. In a buttered 8"x8" baking dish, cover bottom with 1/2 C. crumbs.
Cover with oysters, cream, sherry, and oyster liquid. Finish top layer with remaining crumbs. (Dust with paprika? ~ I don't.)
Bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes. 

But even after multiplying the ingredients for more servings, there were still 1.5 buckets of oysters left to be cooked and consumed, so I stopped over my mom's last night to pick some up for frying.  I wasn't sure if I had vegetable oil nor did I remember where the skillet was, so she gave me both of those things as well.

Thanks, Mom!

Once I got home, I told Julia and her (visiting) mother of my plans to fry the oysters, but they seemed a little hesitant about eating them and let me know that there may be other foods in the fridge that they may be more interested in eating instead.

Translation = more for me!
I went into the kitchen to get things ready: draining the oysters, dipping them in beaten egg and passing them through some breadcrumbs with a bit of flour, salt and pepper.

And there really was a lot of them!

After letting them rest for 30 minutes...

...I began to fry them...

...and they were looking/smelling good.

So much, in fact, that Julia came in to check things out and ask if she could try one.

She squeezed a little lemon juice on one followed by a few drops of sriracha.

Her eyes lit up seconds later.

"Mmmm!  That's good!" she smiled.  "I didn't think I would like them but I do.  I may be having these for dinner after all, if that's OK with you."

Her excitement only continued to build as I continued to fry...

 ...and it was only a matter of time before there were pics posted on Facebook of me in my Sicilian apron.

Then somewhere in the frying frenzy, Julia's mother also tried one of the oysters and eventually declared that she would be eating them for dinner as well.

Translation: Not as many for me.

But, honestly, that was OK...

 ...because there really was a lot!

So, that evening, we all ate fried oysters...


 ...along with brussel sprouts pan fried with shallots and garlic and some sriracha for heat and color.

Beautiful, no?


Thursday, December 27, 2012

How the world ended up not even ending and we got to eat sushi and dress up the baby into characters I don't particularly believe in unless they bring me presents

This past Friday, as the Mayan Calendar End approached...

...natural enemies ate together in harmony... nephew developed a weird skin rash...

...and I began to fear the worst.

But when Julia and I attended an End of the World Party in Oberlin, we had a good ole time...

 ...and even got to have some of this delicious chocolate Mayan temple cake.

And long after the cake and party and the day, not only did the world not end... kept on spinning so that we could enjoy some sushi at Ohashi in North Olmsted...

...and even celebrate Christmas.


Someone must had been a really good boy this year*.

* = only two months really, but an impressionable two months


Friday, December 21, 2012

A first trip to Fat Head's Saloon - North Olmsted


 Two months after Max's birth, not only was he doing great...

...the kitten once trapped in my car (and adopted by Mom) was great too.

Whoo hoo!

With everyone so great, it was a good reason to celebrate at a place I've been wanting to go to for some time...

...Fat Head's Saloon in North Olmsted.

Located on the corner of Lorain Road and Columbia Road, the place used to be the Danny Boy Farm Market for many years.  Now it's a HUGE restaurant and brewery where we could eat comfortably at a table of six with some cousins and enjoy complete food decadence.

In order to do this, I ordered the Bay of Pigs Sandwich...

...a pulled pork sandwich with ham, bacon (I think), hot sauce, pickles and other fun things.

 I sort of wish there was less bread, but it was still rather tasty.

Julia got some spicy Parmesan wings...

...and some HUGE spicy smoked wings.

All the wings were great overall...something I definitely recommend!

For the record, I did get some beer (Holly Jolly Christmas Ale), as did my cousin (Bumble Berry Honey Blueberry Ale) and both were tasty as well.  My cousin's beer even had some berries in it.

So, thanks, Fat Head's.  It's been great!  I don't doubt we'll be back sometime soon.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

How to travel around the world in four days

From Friday to Monday, Julia and I did some culinary world traveling...

...with some Friday night pad thai from Oberlin's Tooo Chinoise...

...a nice Saturday afternoon Jalapeno Crunch burger from Steak 'N Shake...

...a wonderful Saturday night home-cooked Nepalese dinner in Oberlin (Thanks, Erika!)...

...and an interesting Italian-esque Monday night concoction.

In case you are curious - the concoction consisted of the following layers from bottom to top:
  • from a can of diced tomatoes/garlic/basil - the juice and some of the tomato pieces
  • peeled eggplant slices that I previously broiled
  • broiled tomato slices
  • shredded pizza cheese
  • chicken that I pounded, floured and browned in a pan with olive oil
  • the rest of the diced tomatoes
  • lots of basil
  • more cheese

I baked this all for 25 minutes at 400 degrees and it came out pretty well.

I'm having some of the leftovers for lunch today!

So there you go: Thailand (at a Chinese restaurant), United States, Nepal and Italy (I also had sushi for lunch on Sunday...just no pic)...all in only a few days!

There may have also been an eggnog milkshake in there somewhere!


Monday, December 17, 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012

CLE Blogger Holiday Party and Cookie Swap

On Tuesday, the Ohio Blogging Association had their CLE Blogger Holiday Party and Cookie Swap...

...and Max was more than ready for a night on the town (just ask his Mom)!

Equipped with a bottle, extra clothes, a diaper bag, and a baby carrier, the two of us headed out to the Battery Park Wine Bar...

...and got to catch up with some blogger friends like Nidhi from Nidhizzle. (Photo: Jen fromWhy CLE?).

Other bloggers present who I got to chat with included...

Although Max and I decided not to take part in the actual cookie exchange...

...I couldn't pass on the happy hour menu...

...with some nice smoked chicken sliders (not so easy to eat with a baby at your chest)...


...and some nice coconut shrimp (which were easier to eat).

In fact, Max got hungry around the same time my food arrived (a constant phenomenon that only tells me he can't wait for solid food), so I took bites in-between bottle sucklings... bloggers circled the cookie table...

...and grabbed many of the delightful-looking creations.

Just look at that yummy frosting (made by Julie)!

Meanwhile, as the bloggers grabbed and Max and I ate, Alicia of Poise in Parma (and Ohio Blogging Association leader) was sweet enough to grab a container...

...and make us a care package to take home.

Thanks, Alicia!


Thursday, December 13, 2012

When pounding your meat will only bring compliments (and not jail sentences) - Plus one way on how to use all that extra sauce

Usually, when Julia and I pick up some meat from the store to cook for the week, she often suggests boneless, skinless Amish chicken breast.  I can't help but say that I'm usually lacking enthusiasm with this selection.

The meat gets dry (I prefer dark meat) and there are usually leftovers that she doesn't eat, which means I take them to work for lunch because it pains me to see food tossed in the trash.

But recently, one of her colleagues and friends brought us some homemade mole sauce with just enough chocolate and spices to bring a big smile on my face.  I've was putting them on eggs and eating spoonfuls every so often... was just THAT good!

So when my trainer was telling me how she made chicken piccata, I thought...

I can make something similar with the mole sauce!


On the night of the experimental dinner, I pounded the chicken breast - which is crazily therapeutic -  passed it through flour, fried it quickly with butter/oil (yes, I used both) and then removed the chicken to heat up the some mole sauce with freshly squeezed lime juice.  Once the sauce was bubbling gently, I put the chicken back in and let it simmer.

Melt some cheese over top and... you go - the leftovers that I happily took to work the following day!

The pounded chicken breast just seemed more tender and delicious.  I even tried it a second time...

 ...with a sauce consisting of green olives, grape tomatoes, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic.

Delicious once again!

And notice that toast in the background...that was to collect the sauce (Julia's idea)!

Before signing off and advising that you should all pound your meat for more satisfying meals, let me just show you one more recent creation...

The setup:  Julia and I didn't know what to eat for dinner and neither one of us felt like cooking.  We did notice that we had bread, turkey and ham lunch meat (limited), some cheese (very limited) and lettuce.

So we rather unenthusiastically decided to toast up some sandwiches.

Then I remember the ton of cranberry sauce I cooked up the night before...

...we could put this on our sandwiches!!!

I put a heaping tablespoon of cranberry sauce on both slices of bread, a decent amount of turkey, a little ham, some cheese and then toasted it up...


...and the holiday Monte Cristo was born.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Mirror Game

The other day, Max and I were matching our many expressions...




I'm not sure who was mirroring who, but it sure was fun!


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

First come babies, then kittens

On Friday morning, a coworker told me she heard a kitten crying from the direction of my car.

When I went outside to listen, I heard a kitten as well, but I couldn't make out exactly where it was crying from, thanks to traffic and the other parked cars near mine.

I checked under my hood and under the car, but I didn't see a kitten.  As the traffic increased, I also didn't hear it any longer.

When the end of the work day arrived, all the other cars were gone and I heard no crying kitten... I figured it wasn't my car.

Of course, as I headed to my mom's to meet up with Julia and the baby, I happened to hear the faintest kitten cry while at a 4-way stop.

Uh oh!

I pulled in my mom's drive, parked the car and turned off the ignition, popping the hood and jumping out of the car.

I heard that kitten cry, I felt its presence and there, under the hood, I saw it look up at me and...

...meow meow meeee-ow!

I quickly grabbed a broomstick and we nudged it out of the front of the car.  When I peeked under the car, I saw its little paw try to come down, but it was too scared to make the jump.  It rested there in the car frame and looked at me, unsure of what to do.

I was unsure as well.

How the hell would I get it out?

Every 20 minutes, I came back out and tried to figure a new approach...

...tuna fish, honking the car, knocking on the car, etc...

...but the kitten couldn't come out.

Eventually, it even disappeared inside the car, still crying occasionally.

I decided to leave the car there for the night, coming back the next morning with Julia to try again.

My mother was convinced that the hose was the best bet (I was leaning toward jacking up the car), so we moved the car up to the garage, brought the hose down and turned it on.

The little kitten jumped out of the car in 2 seconds flat!

With gloves, I eventually nabbed him (although he threatened to jump up into Julia's car at one point)...

 ...and got him in a carrier.

After a vet checkup and shots... mom started keeping him in the garage...

 ...where he initially took to hiding...


...but initially came out to eat. 

Of course, it wasn't long before she brought him in the house and exposed him to the dog...

 ...making him want to hide again...

...but I think they'll be fine together.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Storytime with Max: Peacocks

Storytelling is apparently genetic.  This little guy can talk my ear off for hours.



Monday, December 3, 2012

Troikas, liver and a short nap - Mole (Mo-lay!)!


Friday, as the baby went through his usual cycle of eating, pooing and sleeping, my Uncle Dave and Aunt Kim stopped by with a very special baby gift...


 ...a specially made hand puppet.

What made it particularly special was that it is a Troika...

 ...a character from the book I wrote/illustrated...

Needless to say, Julia and I were both really moved and tearing up as we hugged and thanked them.  It was definitely the most memorable gift we've received...


 ...and Max seemed to like it...

 ...almost as much as his daddy.

Later that evening, we took Max out to Berardi's Restaurant in Huron so that I could get myself a good ole plate...

 ...of liver and onions with a side of famous Berardi fries.

Although rather delicious, I unfortunately couldn't eat them right away.  Max, who usually slept through dinner after a long car ride, decided to stay up this time and I let Julia eat as I fed him a bottle and bought us some eating time.  Once she finished eating, she took Max and I got to splash my plate with plenty of malt vinegar and enjoy.

So good!

Toward the end of the meal, plenty of people came up to us to admire Max and tell us about their own children and grandchildren.  It was really nice talking with everyone, especially since we are still a little wary of taking him out to eat with us (since we don't know what he's going to do).  But everyone there complimented us on how we calmed him and we felt like more confident parents in the end.

With our chests proudly out, we ended our evening with a nice drive out to Sawmill Creek Resort's Festival of Lights and relived our experience two years' ago, which you can read HERE.

Max, all the meanwhile, slept.

On Sunday afternoon, I got to take a nice 20 (maybe 25?) minute nap as Julia fed the baby.  Since he was a little fussy afterwards, I offered to take him so that she could take a nap.

I rested him on my chest and he squirmed a bit before finally finding a spot...

...and falling right to sleep.

So adorable and what a wonderful way to end the weekend!


Before ending this post, I would just like to compliment Julia's colleague and our friend Nanette for the wonderful mole sauce she recently made.  I added some to this morning's eggs...

...along with some avocado and cheese that I melted over.

I loved the flavors, the chocolate and the heat that all came with it.  I even dragged my finger along the container to get the remaining sauce.

You can bet I'll be making this again tomorrow!