Thursday, January 31, 2008

Flour and Water... Doh!

When I was a kid my favorite dinner was ‘Beans and Dumplings’. Not only did I love eating it, I have fond memories of my mom making it. Sorting thought the beans, rolling out the dough for the dumpling – flour everywhere – cutting the dough into strips and then squares.
Beans and dumplings = happiness in a bowl.

I don’t remember my dad making Beans & Dumplings during my teens. I moved out (an act not directly related to the lack of Beans & Dumplings that I am consciously aware of). And then I took off to California. But whenever I went home to visit I would ask (more like beg and plead) for Dad to make them for me. And he would. But the dumplings were different. He didn’t roll them out into flat noodle-like squares. He would just add drop biscuits on top of the soup (yep, it’s really just white bean and ham soup, who knew?). And don’t get me wrong – it was still yummy in my book. But I really wanted those dumplings. I would ask him to tell me how to make them and he would say that he couldn’t remember. Ugh. Would I never have my childhood favorite again?!

And then - a kitchen miracle. I made Beans and Dumpling. With flat rolled dumplings!!! All because we left Santa Cruz a day early.

P had bought a ham to make for dinner on New Years Day. But when we decided to go home on New Years Eve she sent the ham home with us. Well. That ham sat in the fridge for another week while I would occasionally mutter something about having to cook that ham. Thankfully there was an entry for Holiday Ham in the 2007 edition of Cook’s Illustrated that Chris got for Xmas. And again Cook's Illustrated held my hand through the scary process of essentially re-heating our pre-cooked spiral cut ham. Cook's Illustrated told me to ‘throw away the pack of glaze that comes with your ham’ and provided me with a delicious glaze of maple syrup, orange marmalade, Dijon mustard, pepper etc. It sounds crazy but it worked! The ham was good. But damn there was a lot left over.

What’s a girl to do with all that ham?! I called my dad. "Dad, I have ham. How do I make Beans and Dumplings?" And do you know what he told me? My dumplings? Just flour and water. All those years and he couldn’t remember flour and water?!! Oh-kay then. Let’s not dwell on that. I was on a mission. He quickly ran through the process of making everything while I scribbled notes. I bought a rolling pin. And that Saturday I was as ready as I was going to get. Now you know that I only want to cook something when I have very specific directions and measurements. None of this "fly by the seat of your pants" "add a smidge" "to taste" "what ever I had in the pantry" kind of crap for me! So I was relieved to see that the directions for Bean Soup on the bag of beans pretty much matched the instructions my dad had given me. I just might be ok.

So, you’ll need a bag of Great Northern Beans (the grocery store only had 'Small White Beans'. I tried to be brave). No need to soak them overnight – just sort though them, throwing out any bean that's not up to snuff or that might be a rock, and rinse them thoroughly.

Put the beans in a large pot and cover with water. Water should be around 2-3 inches over the beans. Boil for 5-10 minutes and then turn off for an hour. Easy enough right?

While your beans are sitting there stewing in their own juices, chop up your ham – as much as your want – ugh! Chop up a yellow onion. And get ready to make a mess on your counter-top its dumpling time.

Hey - check out my new mandoline:

Flour the surface you are working on and make a ball of dough with you guessed it: flour and water. Dad said that I wouldn’t need to add any salt because of the ham – but in hindsight I would add a bit of salt to the mix. And no, I don't know how much a 'bit' is! Now roll out the dough dusting the ball, rolling pin and counter with flour as you go. Don’t forget to roll the dough on a nice layer of flour of your dumpling will stick. Roll roll roll (you're adding more flour as you go right?) until about 1/8 inch thick. Pull out your pizza cutter (or a knife) and cut dough into squares. Mine were about 1 1/2 inch squartangles (because of that sticking I mentioned).

When the hour is up – throw everything into the pot! Turn the stove back on and season to taste. Dad recommends garlic, pepper, thyme and maybe even some oregano. Again he was vague. Oh and you might need to add more water. Maybe.

My notes say to cook for another hour. Only when we receive the phone bill will I know how many times I called my dad that afternoon. But, it was all so worth it in the end!

Ta-da! The perfect comfort food:

But I still have some ham left over...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

a stitch in time

We interupt this blog with urgent news from Urgent Care...

That's where Kyle and I ended up this afternoon.
I was at the office happily working on a new post (I was on my break of course) when I got a call from the school nurse. Kyle got hit with a purse on the playground and his lip is cut. She thinks he might need a stitch or two. There is a pretty big chunk of flesh missing. Ok then. Did she say purse? Who has a purse on the playground during recess? Did a teacher wallop my child? I must have misunderstood. Not panicing (hey- it's my story and I'll tell it like I want to), I save my work, leave the clean up for the morning, put the FedEx shipment in the hall and drive to the school. Call Chris on the way so that he can pick up Erin from Jen's. Call Jen who reminds me that Chris will need a carseat for Erin. Alrighty, we need to switch cars at some point. And hey - did you know that they closed the Urgent Care at the hospital? Me neither. So back to the car in the parking lot 2 time zones away and off we go to find the Med7 Clinic. One stitch is not worth the $100 emergency room co-pay. We are both very brave. And 4 hours later we are home with a stitch in Kyle's lip because some girl likes to carry bricks in a purse that is bigger than mine that she then swings around until it lands against my poor baby's face.

Oh I double dog dare you to click on that photo!

Friday, January 18, 2008

All by myself

Everybody sing! “Don’t wanna be all by myself anymore…”

Oh wait. Yes I do! And I will be! Starting this evening, for roughly 24 hours! Completely and utterly alone. Hmm. I’m missing them already. Well, some of them.

Kyle is at his dad’s this weekend. And after his behavior the last couple weeks, it’s a much needed break for all of us. Chris was trying to plan one of his speed-runs to the coast to dive on Saturday. The only snag was that I have an appointment to get me hair done on Saturday afternoon and all our usual babysitters had previous engagements. Hmpf. I suggest Chris goes on Sunday. Well, that would be ok for him but he wants to go with Victor who can only go Saturday. Ok then. So, we are pondering how to make this work – do I call Kyle’s 12 yr old cousin Sandy to watch Erin? The highly recommended babysitters from the next block who I don’t really know? …hmm…what to do, what to do…

Then Chris casually mentions that he talked to his mom earlier and she was lamenting the fact that she hasn’t seen the baby in weeks and doesn’t know when we’ll be coming back down to Santa Cruz…

Ding! (insert light bulb going on here)

Chris can take Erin with him! He was planning on driving down to Carmel Friday evening, spending the night at Trents’s and then diving all day Saturday before coming home around 6pm. So, now he drives down to Santa Cruz, spends the night at his folks place, leaves the baby with Grandma and goes to Carmel to dive all day Saturday. Rip the baby from Grandma’s arm – I mean pick Erin up- and drive home as planned. Win win win!

A couple phone calls later and everyone is happy and I am declared a genius! Well, it’s about time.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Do you want to know a secret?

I don't like keeping secrets from you. But "you", my readers, can be counted on one hand and 2 of those fingers are my in-laws. And I bet they are my most devoted lurkers - slinkin' by day after day looking for that grandbaby fix.

Anyways, when you are planning a gift for said in-laws you find yourself having to watch what you say. And censor what you add to your flickr account. Not an easy task. But now that the holidays are over and it is no longer all "hush-hush don't ruin the surprise" I can tell you (if there is actually anyone else out there besides Chris and his parents) that I published a book!

Published. Is that correct? Should I say self-published? Made? Created with down-loaded software and then paid to have copies printed?

Either way, here it is!

By Dawn Blanchfield

And then there was Bean... - a Christmas present for the grandparents. Check it out and then buy 2 or 3 copies.

Edited to add: I don't know why the 2 badges are not showing up properly. I'll look into it later. Right now the boss-man is sending me out in the rain to buy oatmeal. I really do love my job.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Because I Can

Yes, it's another bouncy baby video. Now with more screeching.

Question: Can I get in trouble if the Shaken Baby Syndrome is self-inflicted?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Happy New Year

Wow. We had weather. Real weather. And I’ve had a headache. For 3 days. That is so not good. By the third evening you mind goes to bad places. Lucky for you I can’t even begin to think about typing during a migraine. I think Chris worries enough what with my frequent requests for an ice pick. If you suffer from migraines too you’ll get that. And my sincere sympathies.

But today I feel better. And not a moment too soon because tonight we have tickets to go see Walking with Dinosaurs at Arco Arena. And yes, the tickets are through Chris’s company so we will be sitting center stage in the private box again. To quote Kyle: “Awesome”.

And the last 3 days weren’t a total waste – Chris got a lot done! He was in baby-proofing mode and finished cleaning up all the wiring in the office and installed those annoying latches on the cabinets under the kitchen sink. That baby is everywhere and into everything!

Oh dear – it’s after 3. I have less than an hour to get everyone ready to go. Fun for me. I just need to remain calm. No tension. No more headache! Wish me luck.