Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hide and Seek

Laurel disappeared into the kitchen yesterday and after realizing it had been quiet for a while, I peeked in to see what she was up to. But I couldn't find her anywhere! I thought maybe I was mistaken about where she had wandered, but I finally heard a little girl mutter that led me to her hiding spot.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Morning Mess

Oma sent Laurel some accessories for her/my doll. When I walked into the kitchen to make breakfast, this is what greeted me.


Our congregation's play group held a hunt earlier this week, and Luke created a hunt Sunday afternoon in Laurel's room. (I was in the throes of last-minute dinner preparations, so we opted for an indoor event.) I love Easter dinner - and naturally, pork and a lamb cake anchor the meal. My lamb cake looked the most like a lamb it ever has (although my friend arrived and said, "Cool puppy." Sigh.) Well, it tasted good! I am no cake decorator, but I truly don't feel any shame in this. Maybe next year I'll have a long-distance apprenticeship with my sister and learn some skills! The pork loin was stupendously awesome - tender, moist, flavorful. This recipe is a keeper!

Stuffed Pork Loin With Figs (adapted from Mark Bittman)
Yields 6 or more servings
1 1/2 cup dried figs
1 boneless pork loin, 2 to 3 pounds
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 or 4 fresh rosemary sprigs, minced
1/2 cup red grape juice, more if necessary
1. Put figs in hot water to soak. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Wriggle a thin, sharp knife into each end of meat, making a kind of pilot hole. Then use handle of a long wooden spoon to force a hole all the way through meat, making it as wide as your thumb.
3. Drain when figs are tender but not mushy, reserving liquid. Stuff figs into roast, all the way to center from each end.
4. Combine salt, pepper and rosemary and rub it all over meat. Put meat in a roasting pan and pour about half a cup of fruit-soaking liquid over it. Roast undisturbed for 20 minutes. Lower heat to 325 degrees and continue to cook, basting with pan juices (or added liquid, like wine or water, if necessary) every 15 minutes or so. When an instant-read thermometer registers 145 to 150 degrees — probably after 40 to 60 minutes — remove roast to a warm platter. (When checking meat, be sure thermometer is in meat, not fruit.)
5. Let sit for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, put roasting pan on stove over one or two burners set to medium-high. If there is a lot of liquid, reduce it to about half a cup, scraping bottom of pan with a wooden spoon to release any brown bits. If pan is dry, add half a cup of juice and follow same process. When sauce has reduced, slice roast and serve with sauce.
Time: 1 1/2 hours

In what sort of home do Girl Scout cookies remain uneaten?

Seriouly, we have an almost full box of Thin Mints and a few Caramel Delights in our pantry. Luke has been on a no-sugar/low-sugar diet as a means of reducing some chronic pain (it has helped), and I recently decided to give it a go too. Mind you, just a 3 week go, as Easter was fast approaching, and I certainly couldn't survive without a lamb cake. But I needed an incentive. Resisting baked goods is really hard for me, but a good home decor item is just the sort of incentive I need. Behold, the lamps. I'd seen them at Target a few months ago and couldn't get them out of my head. I have a love affair with glass lamps...these are just lucite, but then, I love lucite too! I bought them at the beginning of my three week sugar fast and put them on the table, wrapped in plastic and told myself they'd have to go back if I couldn't practice some self-discipline. Needless to say, it was the easiest diet I've ever been on. Aren't the lamps just so pretty?? I LOVE them. The shades are a great greige color, but I'm sure they'll be spray painted another hue once I decide on the living room decor. [And I don't normally decorate with dolls and stuffed animals - those are just Laurel's Easter goodies.)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Playing Dress Up

She loves wearing both Mommy and Daddy's shoes.

Laurel Meets a Longhorn

At the Driskill Hotel in downtown Austin.

Unusual Toddler Behavior

Laurel always drinks with her cup held out to the side - she really hates it when it blocks her view of what's going on around her. She doesn't want to be left out of anything! (Laurel with a friend from the church playgroup.)

How Laurel prefers her bread....

...with mustard on it!


One of the women in the ward lives a few buildings down with her daughter, Maddie, who is 2 weeks younger than Laurel. Laurel loves seeing her, and last week began greeting her with "Ma-mie". That plosive "d" sound is just too hard for her to make right now.


Laurel had a rough teething spell a few weeks ago when her molars began to push through, and she started going into her room, extricating her baby blanket and her puppy from the crib, pulling these items into the living room and just cuddling on them, while sucking her thumb. I wish the photo had turned out better, but it really was adorable. Seems like a healthy way of dealing with stress...we adults just eat junk food. Maybe we need more stuffed animals and cozy blankets in our lives!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


I don't quite mean for all my postings to be about food...So...burgers. Love them! My mom makes great burgers and she will often cook them for our family when she's in town. Which I so appreciate! Thus for some reason, I have this entrenched idea that if company is around, homemade burgers are on the menu. But I have never made burgers. Before January. (Yes, I really am 29 years old!) When my sister and brother-in-law were in town, I finally pulled out one of my many burger recipes I've clipped over the years and decided to go to town. And this Bobby Flay adaptation is a definite winner. The thick-cut slices of onion really send it over the top. And yes, we really have a grill pan. One of those wedding presents that I wasn't sure we'd ever use, but it's great fun with veggies - and surprise - with meat!

2 lbs 90% lean ground beef
2 ½ t. coarse salt
1 ½ t. ground pepper
8 ½-inch thick slices sweet onion (from 2 onions)
2 T olive oil
8 slices cheddar (about 4 ounces)
8 hamburger buns, split
8 small romaine lettuce leaves
8 ¼-inch thick slices beefsteak tomatoes

1. Preheat outdoor grill or stovetop grill pan over medium heat. Preheat oven for toasting buns.
2. Divide beef into 8 portions; shape into thick burgers (handle as little as possible). Season with 2 t. salt and 1 t. pepper. Brush onions with oil; season with the remaining salt and pepper.
3. Grill onions 5 minutes per side. Meanwhile, toast buns on cookie sheet in the oven.
4. Grill burgers 5 minutes per side. For last 2 minutes of cooking, top each burger with a slice of cheese. Cover grill (or invert a stainless-steel bowl over grill pan) for 1 minute to melt cheese.
5. To serve, place burgers in buns and top with lettuce, tomato, onion, and mustard.

Note: Flay suggests making his horseradish mustard for these burgers (1 cup Dijon mustard + 2 T finely grated and peeled fresh horseradish or prepared horseradish, drained).