Tuesday, September 21, 2010

You think you're SO smart...

Just in case you didn't know or don't know me, I have kids. Two, actually. This is where I could go on and on about how they're the "light of my life" or the "best thing that ever happened to me" and......that would all be absolutely true! Seriously, I love my kids. They are a joy and they make my days very interesting.

As a stay at home parent, I have lots of opportunities to enjoy them and to deal with the moods that come over most 3 year olds and 1 year olds. Most moods are great! Lots of giggles, hysterical laughter, and all around silliness. Some are....not so good, but those only come up from time to time. For this post, I'll stop and leave you with an anecdote and an introduction to my 3.5 year old:

Norah is my daughter. She is, well, her mother. Amazing, emotional, intense, brilliant and an absolute joy to be around. As the first born and a pure gift (we had 2 miscarriages before we were blessed with her), she has stolen my heart. With all of that, the best thing about Norah is that she is a walking "sound bite." I couldn't begin to retell the stories about Norah and the way she sees the world, but every once in a while, I'll post a little snippet:

Yesterday, Norah and Amy (my wife) were looking at a toy catalog that we had received in the mail that day. After Norah had flipped through it a few times, she began to tell us what she wanted for Christmas and her birthday. The one that stood out to her was a large play hospital for Playmobil figures that had everything from the doctors and nurses to the beds and ambulance. Amy asked her if we should start her letter to Santa to let him know and she responded, "No. He'll only bring me the ambulance. I think I'll write to Nana. She'll bring me the whole thing!"

Monday, September 13, 2010

Texas surprise

For the last four days, I have been in Texas.....more specifically, North Richland Hills, TX. It's between Dallas and Fort Worth, but it is more Fort Worth than Dallas. The moment I landed, I began to sweat. Not a, "Oh, it's a little warm here" sweat, but a "OH MY GOD! IT'S F'ing HOT HERE! sweat. It was 9am.

Anyway, I headed to Texas to spend a little time with my father in law, by myself, no kids. It was the first time I had left the fam for this long and I was very anxious. But, Amy approved the visit and we called for reinforcements; Nana. They were in good hands.

So, the trip to Texas was a little break from the norm for me, but it was also a working trip. My FIL retired in June from his job down there and needed to move his things back to Maine, so I volunteered to help. The days were very busy, but we did find time for some football (bar for OSU v Miami (FL) and great seats for TCU v Tennesee Tech @ Amon Carter Stadium), beer (lots of Shiner Bock....mmmm), and a couple of amazing meals (Old Barn BBQ for brisket....yum and tacos al carbon @ Anejo.)

"What's the surprise?" you ask? Well, in a word, Sangrita. No, not the Spanish wine made with fruit. That's Sangria, no T. This, my friends, is an amazing concoction of tomato juice, orange juice, lime juice, worchestershire sauce, chilies, and onion. Fan-flippin-tasic! Picture a very spicy Bloody Mary with orange juice served in a shot glass.

I've had this many times, as it's commonly served with tequila (future post), but this specific Sangrita was so spicy, so pungent, yet a little fruity, that I had to have more. The first two shots I consumed as I was savoring a shot of Don Eduardo and a plate of lightly fried plantains, but the last came in a tumbler which I enjoyed with one of my favorite Mexican beer, Modelo. Happy!

All in all, a great trip to Texas (Thanks, Mike) and a rediscovery of a favorite beverage!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Ode to the Tomato part 2

When it comes to these delectable spheres, I'm a purist. I do mostly salads with herbs (basil/oregano) or cheese (goat/mozzarella) or other veggies (fennel/cucumber/olives) or just throw together a huge bowl of gazpacho (see recipe below). This time, however, we had some unexpected guests stop by and I wanted to show off at least a little bit. Enter the Tomato Tart.

Now, I'm pretty new at this blog thing and so some of you might not know what my biggest culinary fear is. Well, it's flour. I have a fear of flour or really, anything that has to do with baking. I suck at it. Really, truthfully, suck. Thank god for puff pastry. Two sheets of frozen dough that, once thawed and cooked, makes you look like Julia Child.

This stuff was as hard as a rock when it came out of the freezer, but a quick zap of the microwave allowed me to unfold and roll out the dough pretty easily. The key to this tart thing is to make sure that the tomatoes don't make the dough too mushy, so they suggest making a barrier under the tomato. I decided on mustard, as I didn't have the sour cream that the recipe suggested. On top of the mustard, I layered the tomatoes and put the whole thing in the oven. 45 minutes later, we had a piping hot masterpiece.

Did I mention, Thank God for Puff Pastry!!

Chunky Gazpacho


  • 4 cups coarsely chopped tomato (about 2 pounds)
  • 16oz tomato juice
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped peeled cucumber (about 1 large)
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups finely chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced


Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; stir well. Cover and chill.

(4 servings - 95 calories per serving)

Ode to the Tomato part 1

There is but one season that Amy and I live for: Tomato season. It's exciting! It's glorious! It's....tomato-tastic!

Seriously though, there are few foods that get us more excited during the summer growing season. Why? Well, in short, it is one of the few foods that cannot be duplicated during it's "off" season. *Those tomatoes that you buy in the grocery in December just can't stand up to the August tomato. Sure, they taste fine, but they are best left to soups, stews, and sauces.

With that said, the McBee family made their way to our favorite farmer's market over the weekend and ended up with a plethora of heirloom and garden variety tomatoes. So many that we pretty much had some sort of tomato dish for every meal from lunch Sunday to lunch Thursday....well maybe not EVERY meal, but I did contemplate adding some to my rice krispies this morning.
*no, I am not a tomato snob and yes, I do make salsa in December. Ok, I got that off my chest.