Category Archives: Food

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

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Do you hear that? No?

That’s because there’s no sound. Not a peep. Not a whine. Not a fuss.

Everyone has gone back to school and I hear nothing but the sound of my fingers on the keyboard.

It’s blissful.

Yesterday after all the kids were safely in their classes, a group of moms met at someone’s house to have brunch, pineapple mimosas and vodka lemonade. “Brunch” went from 930am until after noon.

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I laughed until I nearly cried as one mom told of how she had realized the night before that her son, who attends private school, had missed the first day of school when she received an email talking about how nice it was to see all the smiling faces back in the classroom. She didn’t tell him when she took him on the second day that he had missed the first day, and pantomimed to his teacher “He thinks today is the first day of school.”

Today I met another 3 moms for a fun, leisurely lunch. Life is good.

It’s been a bit since I last wrote, but I know you’ll forgive me once you hear of the craziness of the past few weeks.

First, a quick update.

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For those of you who have been following along, my husband lost his wallet following a late-night trip to the Dairy Queen on July 26. After his initial attempts to locate it came up empty, he eventually ordered a new ID and credit cards. Over the past 6 weeks he has occasionally asked, “Find my wallet yet?” as if I might have come across it and failed to mention it to him.

Last night, while he was out on a motorcycle ride around the block, I went into the garage to get down the hotdog buns from the top of the refrigerator for dinner. As I pulled the bag towards me, a small brown item appeared at the edge. I reached my hand up and grabbed it. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

As I held the wallet in my hand (and was disappointed to discover there was no cash inside) I began to formulate all the ways I could reveal this discovery to him.

I walked back into the house and held it out to show Zoe. I went into the living room where Parker and Nathan were inexplicably rolling around on the floor and silently held it up.

I said, “No one tells him I found this. You’ve got to give me a chance to mess with him first.”

I heard the rumble of the bike as he drove it up the driveway and into the garage. I was giddy with excitement and anticipation, and, knowing my terrible poker face, wondered how long I could keep a straight expression.

He walked into the kitchen and before I could say a word, Parker runs in and yells, “I know where your wallet is!”

My eyes got wide and I said, “Parker!”

Did that stop him? Nope.

“I found your wallet!” He said excitedly.

“Where?” Jeff asked casually. (Casually!)

“Parker! What are you doing?!”

“I found it on top of the fridge.”

I stood there, knife in hand (I was chopping fruit), mouth agape.

“I can’t believe you just did that.”

He giggled and ran out of the room.

Jeff walked over and I handed him the wallet.

“There’s no cash in it.”

“There wasn’t.”

“Sure.”

“I can’t believe he just ruined that. What a twerp. I was going to mess with you. Why do you seem so blasé about me finding this after all this time?”

“Eh. I always lose stuff, so I’m always finding stuff. It’s not that uncommon for me to find things months later.”

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Also, to update his sleeping issues, they have determined that he does have a slight case of sleep apnea which they feel is best treated by him using what he refuses to stop  calling a “C-pap smear” in spite of my repeated corrections.

 

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Summer ended with a trip for Zoe and Parker with two of their cousins and their Grandma Toni to Yellowstone. We haven’t been since we lived in Utah about 12 years ago, and Zoe and Parker have never been.

They left early on a Monday morning and I didn’t hear from them until around 8 that evening. My mother-in-law texted me, “Made it safe and sound. Got a warning about bears and don’t leave food out at night when we checked in. Then Zoe said THERE’S A BEAR! and now Parker is terrified. All is well.”

My response:

“Oh Zoe!! Poor guy. Spray water on him and tell him it’s bear repellant.”

I didn’t hear from them again until Friday, when I received a few photos in my email. I know a lot of parents might worry that, for example, their child might have actually been eaten by a bear, but when my kids are with their grandma I know she’s likely taking better care of them than I do.

I opened the picture attachment in the email and could see it was a photo of all of them riding horses. I zoomed in to the photo and began scanning from right to left. When I got to Parker on the far left side of the photo, I nearly choked on my own spit.

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If you zoom in on the picture, you can see that he has a bandana covering the majority of his face. I was unsure if he was going for the outlaw look or ninja. My money is on the very likely possibility that he was envisioning himself on a “WANTED” poster.

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After they got home from their trip they regaled us with stories of animals and thunderstorms, their trip to Silverwood and river rafting.

This morning I opened the envelope of rafting photos and was thoroughly entertained.

Here’s a fun little game- “Where’s Parker?” Sort of like “Where’s Waldo?” only Waldo always has the same bland expression on his face, while Parker does not.

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In this photo, Parker is peeking out from behind his cousin. image

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This expression in particular is one of my favorites

Then suddenly…

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Whoa. Check out the rafting guide. How did I not notice HIM earlier in the series of pictures?!

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I had envisioned the time the younger two were out of town in grand fashion; Lunch dates, masses, facials, mani-pedis, date night out. Oh, and writing a blog or two.

Unfortunately that plan got derailed by the carnival coming into town.

Technically, it wasn’t just the carnival coming into town, but the opening of the State Fair.

My husband owns a marketing company, and one of the things we do is provide registration kiosks for large local events. We not only provide the equipment, we set up, tear down and staff the event from start to finish.

I knew he was super stressed about the fair opening because, as with any and all events, particularly those with any ties to governmental regulations and bureaucracy, things don’t always go quite as planned, nor do they go at the expected and desired pace. We were down to the wire for opening day and a lot of things still needed to happen.

One of the things I admire about my husband is his ability to handle stress, and usually by the time I notice he’s under any, it’s at the levels that would make an average person buckle.

I sensed he was getting to that point, and I knew I had two choices: go about my week as if he weren’t under extreme duress or give up my pampered child-free time for the greater good of our business and my husband’s sanity. I chose the latter. It’s difficult to enjoy that stuff knowing you could be helping out your spouse.

I spent quite a bit of time helping with the setup before the event. The morning the fair was to open, we were up at 6am because the head honcho  had informed us the carnival was unhappy with the location of our front gate kiosks, and we had to move everything- canopy, tables,10 touchscreen computers, wires, cables- about 15 feet closer to the entrance.

After moving the registration booth, employees began to show up, many of whom had never worked for us before and had been brought in just to work this event. Jeff had said, “We’ll only stay for an hour or so, and then we will go.”

We didn’t get out of there until after 5pm.

We bought 2 dozen raspberry scones for the morning shift. We walked the entire length of the fair, moving from one gate to our booth to the back gate multiple times.

At about 1 we decided to take a break and eat some of the fair food that had been tempting us every time we passed by. I went for the Walla Walla onion burger and Jeff chose the BBQ beef sandwich. Halfway through we both looked at each other with regret.

That regret was not enough to prevent me from leaving that evening with an elephant ear. (From previous blogs you know I have a fondness for those.)

The good news is that I got all of the desire to eat fair food out of my system by the second day, when 10 minutes after the opening bell I consumed a peach cobbler from the scone stand and immediately spilled peach syrup and whipped cream down the front of my shirt.

The fair is by far the best place in the world to people watch. At one point I passed by a woman in a full dashiki and a moment later a man in head-to-toe studded motorcycle leathers.  I saw odd couples, the American obesity epidemic in full display, cowgirls, women in leopard dresses and heels, and rednecks in full camouflage (I was able to spot them because the fabric wasn’t made of overpriced unwinnable carnie games or giant Rasta bananas)

Speaking of giant Rasta bananas, I was able to navigate Parker through the fair this year without leaving with a replacement for the one he won last year that “mysteriously” disappeared.

We did, however, come home with yet another carnival goldfish, because, apparently, I have a sadistic streak.

( See http://kbjackson.com/the-carnival-goldfish-has-a-case-of-the-dropsies/)

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Part of my back-to-school ritual is to try and get my house organized following a summer of chaos.

I started cleaning out my refrigerator and, after wiping down all the surfaces, cleaning out the produce drawers (gross) and reorganizing what wasn’t expired, I made a discovery.

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I have an unreasonable amount of horseradish.

I have no idea why I have 3 jars of horseradish.

The only thing I ever consume with horseradish is prime rib, which I typically serve no more than 2-3 times a year.

It reminded me of the time I unpacked my canned foods following our move to Southern California when I came across a can of bean with bacon soup. I had no idea why I would have bean with bacon soup, seeing as how I couldn’t remember ever buying bean with bacon soup, much less eating it.

It was at that moment that I spotted the expiration date…

1994.

I wish I was joking.

That can of soup had survived 6 moves in 11 years.

It was the same age as my eldest daughter.

It almost seemed a travesty to throw it away, seeing as how it had been with us for longer than most people’s family pets. Almost.

So summer is gone; it feels like it passed quickly. Backpacks were filled and hanging by the front door Tuesday night, similar to stockings by the fire on Christmas Eve. The first day of school often feels like Christmas morning to  parents.

I found myself waking up yesterday morning with a desire to tell from the rooftops, “we made it!”

 

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I’m sure you can sense how cooperative Parker was in these photos.

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Nathan’s first day of school photo this year is very similar to his first day of school photo as last year. 645 is really early.

 

 

 

Eat The Frog. With a Side Of Shawarma.

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The other day my friend Liz said, “I’m gonna eat the frog.”

I looked at her for a moment, my face scrunched up in a combination of confusion and disgust.

“What frog?”

“It’s a thing. Eat the frog. Do the hard stuff first, then everything else is easy.”

The side of me that loves a good metaphor thought this was great. The literal side of me couldn’t stop thinking about actually eating a frog.

I don’t want to eat the frog. Metaphorically or literally.

Besides excelling at being a procrastinator (everyone has their gifts) I also excel at being a giant chicken. I’m not typically a risk taker (see previous posts about being a rule follower). Part of being a rule follower is the logic that parameters are put into place for a reason. Rule followers love the feeling of security that boundaries create.

We also tend to be creatures of habit. We find what we like and we stick to it. Going outside of the norm is scary, taking risks terrifying.

Risk taking hasn’t always worked out for me. Like the time I jumped off a cliff at Flaming Gorge. I spent over an hour trying to psych myself up.

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This photo doesn’t do these cliffs justice. It was a 30 foot drop. I’m afraid of heights. And deep water. And falling at tremendously accelerating speed.

When I finally got the nerve to jump off, I was amazed at how slow it felt like I was moving. I started off in a straight vertical position, but as I moved closer to the surface of the water, my posture began to shift, so that by the time I landed, I was in the same position someone would be in if they were sitting in a recliner. (see diagram below)

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For three weeks I had large purplish-blackish bruising on the backs of my arms and the back of my thighs, and a bruised tailbone that required sitting on a donut shaped pillow.

For me, taking the risk only confirmed my worst fears, and pushed me back into my safety zone.

I should point out that some of the things I view as risks, other people view as a normal part of life. When you read my examples you may say to yourself, “what’s the big deal about that?” You’d probably be right.

If you ever go out to dinner with my husband and I, you are likely to hear him say, “She’s a meat and potatoes kind of girl.” (My vegan friend Sam is starting to hyperventilate. Get a paper bag, Sam and breathe deeply.)

While not a very flattering statement (am I the only one for whom that phrase conjures up an image of a burly woman in a flannel shirt and a slight mustache?) , it’s also not an inaccurate one. If I had to pick my final meal on this earth, it would be a nice filet smothered in Béarnaise with a loaded baked potato.

My husband likes to use this phrase A LOT, however. He gleefully announces it whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Growing up, I wasn’t exposed to a lot of exotic foods, it’s true. Unless, of course, you count some of my father’s food creations. Sometimes they worked, sometimes they did not. My mother served delicious casseroles, pastas, salads and a lot of Mexican food. Mexican food was very common in my house as a kid, and very common in my house now. My father was the griller. Still is, actually. During the summer months my mom often took a “cooking hiatus” so my dad would take over. We would have something off the grill nearly every night all summer long. His grilling wasn’t limited to summer months, though. His barbequing philosophy is similar to the US postal service-  “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays this barbeque from the swift completion of grilling this meat.”

My dad likes a little seafood, my mom not at all.

My dad enjoys Asian foods, my mom not so much. I remember as a kid going to the Peking Duck downtown Snohomish ONE TIME. She probably is intolerant to something in Asian foods and that’s why she’s naturally disinclined to consume them. Her stay in the hospital with major stomach pain a couple weeks ago following a rare dinner at a Thai restaurant has reinforced her aversion. Forever.

So, as a result of not being exposed to these foods, I never developed a taste for them.

When I was about Zoe’s age, we had a Japanese exchange student come live with us for 3 weeks. She despised us. Seriously, she barely spoke to us. My mother kept lamenting why we didn’t get the fun one, like the neighbors had.

FILE0165Her name was Kyoko. Do you see how happy she was to be with us?

Part of her program included her making a traditional meal for her host family. She didn’t choose teriyaki.

There was soup with floaty things and seaweed, rice wrapped in seaweed, seaweed with a side of seaweed. I, with my impeccable manners gagged, cried, and was banished from the table.

I survived my high school trip to China by subsisting on cookies, a hunk of chocolate I bought at a marketplace, and rice. The pizza I ordered once we arrived back in Hong Kong after 10 days on the mainland tasted like the best food I had ever consumed in my life up until that point. It was Domino’s. That tells you how desperate I was.

Over the years, many people tried to cajole me into trying new foods but I resisted.

My ex-fiancé’s mom insisted I would like lobster. I told her not to buy me any. She swore if I just had it fresh, cooked the right way, I would like it. I begged her not to buy me any. She did. I gagged, I cried, and she ranted about how much money she spent on the lobster that I refused to eat.

My husband eats almost anything, which makes my job as a cook way easier. He’s mostly just grateful for the meal, and has endured a lot of my mistakes over the years with a smile on his face and a “Thank you.”

His former assistant was from Cambodia and she often picked his lunch up for him. I remember one day he came home and I asked him what he had for lunch, since his breath was a little strange.

He answered, “I have no clue. It was some sort of soup that looked like they took a giant scoop of whatever was lying on the ocean floor and threw it in a bowl. Including sand.”

As I have gotten older, though, I’ve become more interested in taking risks, particularly with food.

A few years ago we celebrated my friend Christin’s birthday at a Vietnamese restaurant. When the invite went out along with a link to the menu, I started panicking. I’d never eaten Vietnamese food before.

As we arrived at the restaurant and were seated at the end of a table filled with 5 other couples, my husband loudly announced “She doesn’t eat this stuff. She’s a meat and potatoes girl!”

As a result, although the restaurant serves food family style, someone ordered me a bowl of Pho. Determined to prove my husband wrong, I tried several of the items that were ordered for the group and LOVED them. The thing I liked least? The Pho.

A few months ago, Christin and I were meeting up for dinner. She called me and said, “What are you in the mood for?”

I said, “I’m open.”

She laughed and said, “Katie. I know you. You don’t like anything strange or out of the ordinary.”

I said, “Well, I’m trying to get over that.”

She told me she would send me a menu of a restaurant and I was to look it over and see what I thought. It was Mediterranean.

I texted her and told her I thought it looked good. She nearly fell over in surprise.

The place is the Mediterranean Kitchen In Bellevue, WA. It’s a tiny little place, and day and night there are lines out the door of people waiting to get in. It’s Zagat ratings are off the charts.

Christin chose something she couldn’t pronounce- DAJAJ MISHWI. I decided to go with the chicken shawarma. It was love at first bite.

shawarma It was so good I wanted to take a bath in the tahini sauce.

A new obsession was born.

My husband seemed slightly offended that I was willing to try new foods with someone else, when I never will with him. He was also terribly offended at the garlic breath that meal produced.

In one week in January I took Sydney to the Mediterranean kitchen on a Monday and ate at Shawarma King in University district on a Wednesday. (also amazing!)

shawarmaking Shawarma King

Yesterday Jeff said, “What did you have for lunch?”

I looked at him sheepishly. “Shawarma.”

“From where?”

“There’s a new place at the mall. The Blue Olive.”

“You know, I was impressed at first that you were willing to try something new. Now you are so fixated on shawarma, I will be more impressed when you choose to eat something else.”

I guess that makes me a meat, potatoes and shawarma girl