Sunday, February 26, 2006

Icelanding Viking Princess

Photo from our friends Jen (Viking Princess) and Evan (Warrior God) in Iceland recently. Doesn't it make you just want to go out slaughter a village, hug a polar bear and eat some herring?

Sleep like a baby

Like baby animals there are few things in life as adorable as a sleeping baby :-)

Rumor has it there is a video that helps kids snooze by showing various baby animals falling asleep. If anyone knows how to obtain this said video please holler.

Last Thursday we had Jen & Ryan over for dinner. Jen is not only one of our best friend but also our realtor. She is currently planning to start a separate business part time in Hawai'i (we can all visit!) as well as climb 2 -3 mountains this year (Rainier, Shuksan...etc.). Ryan, her better half, is recoveing from foot surgery but is alread planning to climb 12+ mountains this year. All together much food, wine, beer & scotch were consumed (Lagavulin 12th year cask strength)

Dinner was grilled tri-tip w/t bbq sauce and vegetarian green curry

Ku's recipe for green curry (learned at cooking school in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand)

In skillet heat up coconut milk, do not add oil, do not let it boil

Add in green curry (I use the Mai Po brand paste from Thailand, available at most Asian grocery stores, but sometime I also like the Yeo Singapore yellow curry)

In waves add in chopped vegetables. For this dinner I used cherry tomatoes, asparagus, bamboo shoots, shittake mushrooms and snowpeas but in theory it could be anything (sliced mango is very good). Make sure you stage it so the veggie that needs the most time go in first (such as mushroom) and veggie that need to stay crunchy goes in last (such as snowpeas)

Flavor with sweet chili sauce (or sugar), fish sauce, kosher salt & garlic. Serve with steamed rice. Once the prep work is done the cooking time should be less than 5 minutes.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Training the Crumpet

Big A's mom (who was also a nursery school teacher for many moons) likes to say that the instructions in the pet-training manual Good Dog Bad Dog are pretty good for training kids, too.

Yesterday Big A noticed that the child care section in the local bookstore has a dog training book prominently displayed at the end of the bookcase. Perhaps her mom isn't the only one who thinks dog training and kid training go hand in hand.

With Crumpet looking on a bit nervously, Big A opened up How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend, by the Monks of New Skete. To paraphrase, the monks think that praising your pet shouldn't be seen as a reward, but as a normal, everyday part of your warm relationship with your dog. Okay, makes sense. Don't want to dole out praise to the Crumpet only to reward her for very good behavior.

The Monks: Treats should be given to reinforce the quick learning of good behaviors, not as incentive for all good behavior. Big A: Hmmm. This is like giving money to kids, right?

The Monks: To train your dog to sleep quietly in your room, you may have to tie the dog to the foot of your bed. Big A: Alas, this probably won't get the results desired with the Crumpet, who refuses to sleep in her bassinet and yells her head off every time Da Mao and Big A lay her down there. Perhaps it's time to move on to The Baby Whisperer Solves All Problems.

(Crumpet silently heaved a sigh of relief, then fell asleep. After all, she's not in her bassinet.)

Monday, February 20, 2006

Crumpet's trip to Mt Baker part 3

After snowshoeing we retired to the White Salmon Lodge for some apre-ski action (basically drinking beer and watching other people ski & snowboard). Dad carrying crumpet received suitable amount of delightful squeals from all the young, single women in the lodge, thus confirming for the millionth time that a cute baby is, indeed, a babe magnet

Next morning (after burgers & more beer the evening before) - more punishment from Betsy as she serves us French toast and eggs benedict. We stop by on the way home in Stanwood to visit cousin Wendy & her mom Doris who was visiting from CA. Made it home by six to some hungry and very much attention-deprived kitty cats. Mellow evening was highlighted by linguini with smoked salmon, capers & creme fraiche finished with a beer sauce - thus concluded Crumpet's first ever trip to the mountains with many more to come.

Crumpet's trip to Mt Baker part 2

Next morning, breakfast at Grahams. Betsy delivers her usual outstanding biscuits 'n gravy (best I have had anywhere) and biscuit sandwich (eggs, applewood smoked bacon & cheese in between freshly baked buttermilk biscuits - yes, it is as good as it sounds)

Resisting food coma we strap crumpt into the baby bjorn and head up to Mount Baker for some snoeshoeing. Weather was gorgeous. Blue skies, clear visibility. Over 200 inches of snow on the ground. Crumpet was nice & snug in front of dad and well protected from the wind. We had a fantastic time simply hiking into the mountains and enjoy the scenery.

Crumpet's trip to Baker part 1

Crumpet made her first ever trip up to Mount Baker/Glacier. We had so much fun the stories & photos will be broken up into 3 parts

On the way up we stopped in Bellingham to visit Rachel Adam & her baby daughter Gretchen (Gret) Adam. Gret is about 4 months older than Crumpet so had a great time comparing notes and to get great hand me downs. Thank you Rachel & Gret!

Continuing onto Glacier (human pop. 47; canine pop: unlimited) Crumpet made the rounds of visiting uncle Collins at Grahams, an eating/drinking establishment Crumpet will someday inherit (where she was greeted with the delight by the group of waitresses and baristas - the male gender were more unimpressed). Swinging by Wake 'n Bake (motto: get sconed) for some wonderful coffeee & desserts (lemon bar, blueberry coffeecakes) from Rebecca & Court. Then headed to the Glacier Ski Shop to see Drew, Scott, John & JT (whom we overheard saying to Drew - the proud pappa of Gret - ''just because you now have a baby that's no excuse for not skiing everyday''). 'nuf said.

Back at Grahams where Big A devoured the world famous phish tacos while Da Mao enjoyed the St Louis style ribs, employing my famous ''two fingers'' technique while using no napkins. Drank copious amount of Young's Double Chocolate Stout. Went home early to build a fire & hang out at the lodge and missed that night's band - Quickdraw Stringband.

Probably just as well 'cause later we heard the party went on until 4:30am and patrons (and Collins) were doing Sake bombs (balance cup of sake on chopsticks on top of pint of beer, bang table, sake cup falls into beer, drink, repeat). Well, at least nobody burned down anything (yes, it has happened before)

Friday, February 17, 2006

Jenni's birthday party

Sunny day in Seattle, as usual (howdy to all y'all eastercoasters). Went to Swansons Nursery to shop for trees & plants now that we actually have a backyard. Decided to come back since they're having a sale starting on Thursday but have our eyes fixed on Dogwood, Witch Hazel, shallots, rosemary, bay leaf & sage. Stay tuned for our gardening saga.

Lunch at the Old Time Ale House in Ballard. Yum. Big A had a Hoeggarden and chicken sandwich w/t pesto. Da Mao had an Imperial Stout w/t cornbeef sandwich and onion soup (yeah, I read La gringa's blog about onions). Crumpet slept through the whole thing.

Highlight of the day was birthday party at Jenni Gaynor's in Redmond. Met lots of new folks & new babies. The room was divided between Jenni's writing friends, sleep-deprived parents and Jim's IT buddies (there were so many IT guys in the house I thought a Warcraft game was going to breakout). Funny how each parent behaves different around their child. One person we met (forgot her name) already has 3 boys and recently adopted a 2 year old girl from China (who is a cute terror) and you can tell nothing short of the nuclear option will rattle her. Another mom however seemed perpetually on the verge of a nervous breakdown each tome her child went beyond 2 feet from her arm's reach. She also doesn't like when her husband flies so she is weird anyway.

We helped ourselves to plenty of beer, chips & cheesecake while Jim showed me how to organize photos on my ipod - now life is complete - but wait - you can do video too?

As usual Nathan was life of the party, even though it wasn't his party. Actually I think Nathan will be the life at any party, be it Paris Hilton's bachelorette blowout or the State of the Union address. Here are more photos of Nathan for members of his fanclub.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Crumpet is One Month Old!

Today, February 15th was suppose to be Crumpet's due date. Well, since she decided to arrive one month early she is one month old today. Of course if you use the Chinese system she would be one year & one month old (the Chinese, you see, believe a baby is one year old when they're born).

Went to the pediatrician this morning - Crumpet weighed in at 7 lbs 15 ounces. To put this into perspective. She was born 5 lbs 14 ounces. She left the hospital at 5 lbs 9 ounces (typical for newborn to lose body weight in first few days). One her last doctor's visit 2 weeks ago she clocked in at 6 lbs 3 ounces. So let's do some math, carry the 2, minus 3 - that's right - Crumpet is gaining on average 2 ounces a day. Do you know what that means? That means she is adding 2 lbs a month. Whoa. Feeding mom all those braised pork and dim sum is definitely paying off (mom is heard in the background singing to the Crumpet ''you will grow up big & strong and beat up other kids in the playground'' er......

Lots of other firsts today for Crumpet - she went to her first ever Thai restaurant (Jai Thai in Fremont), her first hardware store (ACE on Roosevelt to buy a shovel) and her first REI experience (so mum can buy ski pants, dad picked up new boots & clogs)

Dinner last night - roast pork tenderloin with sauteed spinach, collard green & garlic. Dulce con leche & 'smores ice cream after.

Happy birthday to Jenni Gaynor today!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Dim Sum Jam Sunday

Happy Valentine's Day!

Team Mia met up with Gracie for Crumpet's first ever dim sum experience. Our original destination was Jade Garden. Since it was too crowded we went to Four Seas - home to our favorite frying table (where they fry fresh dim sum tableside). A very enjoyable experience for us all.

After we ventured down to Uwajimaya, the gigantor Japanese/Asian food market and its neighbor bookstore, Kinokuniya. After stocking up on the usuals (halibut, bamboo shoots, baby corn, straw mushroom, fish sauce) I ran into Kaoru in the sauce aisle. Karou is on her way to vacation in Germany, France & Monaco so I guessed she needed some snacks for the trip. I seized the opportunity and asked her to give me a lesson in Japanese sauces. Well, what followed was 6 hours of lavish & eccentric lectur on the esoterics of Japanese sauces that went something like this:

Ku - so what's this sauce?
Kaoru - it's just like Ponzu, but different.
Ku - different how?
Kaoru - it's the same fruit but smaller, taste the same but different
Ku - O-kay, what about this sauce
Kaoru - it's called Naoya sauce
Ku - why is it called Nagoya sauce and what does it do?
Kaoru - because it's from Nagoya and you can use it on anything
Ku - OK - but I see it has 3 different labels, what's the difference?
Karou - well, that depends on the hierachy of your official position and the lineage of your ancestry

Anyway, I bought the Nagoya suace (the one with the black label) and 5 other ones - used the nagoya to make grilled halibut later (w/t ponzu & wasabi) and it was delicious. Also made white miso soup w/t carrots & chestnuts.

Just to complete the Japanese experience we watched THE CAT RETURNS on Netflix. Like all Studio Ghibli films this one deals with the experience of growing up of a teen girl and the imagination just soars without the cheesy, leaden wisecracks you get from Disney & Dreamwork movies. Bonus feature - see if you can recognize which character is voiced by Cary Ewels.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Reading w/t Crumpet & Truffles

Reading never starts too early with your baby & your cat, especially if it's a romance novel

Did Winter Olympics start? Yawn. Let me know if the Nordic combine team accidentally shoots a Japanese tourist then I'll watch. Can't stand the Olympics TV coverage and their friggin' human interest stories.

Dinner was left over tri-tip and green curry, yum.

Netflix: Watched THE LAST SAMURAI. Tom Cruise is absurd as a samurai, otherwise I enjoyed the movie. Great cinematography and watching Ken Watanabe (the Japanese Laurence Fishburn) is always a joy.

Big Daddy Stu in da house

My buddy Stu was in town meeting with Amazon and came by for some salmon, beer & crumpet action. Watch him show off the technique of baby cuddling.

Dinner was the classic & easy cedar plank salmon w/t sauteed oyster mushrooms.

Ku's recipe for cedar plank salmon

Soak the plank in salted water for couple of hours (I reuse planks until they fall apart)

Rub the salmon (sockeye is my favorite, or King) with kosher salt, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, wasabi, honey, lemon, yogurt or dressing, ponzu and cracked pepper.

Take it out of the water, rub in olive oil on the side where the salmon will go and put it immediately on the grill in direct high heat for a few minutes, or until the plank starts to smoke but make sure don't let it curl or burn.

Put the salmon on the plank, skin side down, close lid, turn heat down to indirect medium, and let it cook for 15 - 20 minutes depending on the size. Serve with the entire plank & sauce on the side - easiest salmon dish you will ever make. The meat will be tender & juicy and the sides and sometime top will be caramelized. Yum!

Saturday, February 11, 2006


'nuf said

Ion-Marc + Julian

From time to time we're committed to publish photos of OPCK (other people's cute kids) - in this case frenchboy Julian with his hunky dad Ion-Marc in Paris

Because Da Mao can't help himself - here are some comments about recent news events:

MUSLIM CARTOON - I think both the western & muslim world media & politicians has misinterpreted the events as a matter of freedom of expression vs regligous freedom. The uproar has to be with repressed emotions by certain (not all) Muslim communities all over the world - remember this started in europe and has spread to asia and africa - it's not a middle east issue - with the feeling of dissatisfied youth over lack of opportunities, respect, jobs and a sense of prosecution by the United States of America. The cartoons are just an excuse to channel that anger. The newspapers published these cartoons not because they are such defenders of free speech. They did it in on purpose to provoke, to stir controversy and I think the results suprised them. To not publish something offensvie is not censorship, it's called editing.

HAMAS - In a twisted way it's a classic example of democracy. They had a free election and they elected right wing wackos. The governments in Israel & the US are beside themselves and blaming Hamas - but what of the people who voted Hamas in? Are we paying attention to why they voted for Hamas. I think that's a very important question.

Speaking of elections it's interesting the west and the middle-east are all getting more right-wing. Conservative governments now run the US, Canada, Australia, Britan, Denmark, Netherlands and Germany on one side and Iran, Palestine, Egypt and soon Israel. Even the fake election in Iraq gave more power to the more conservative Islamist parties, and don't forget last time Afghanistan had a real election the people voted in the Taliban. I think this booster the argument of the coming clash of civilization as both camps dig in.

BUSH: Americans are funny because we really only care about things that matter to us today. Take for example the approval rating for George Bush - arguably even by conservatives to be one of the worst president of all time because he has wasted our surplus and balloned the deficit, he has allowed government and pork spending to grow, gave more money to the super wealthy, tout education while cutting the budget to students, tout energy while giving huge contracts and subisidies to energy companies, spys on americans, invades Iraq for no real good reason that has cost us billions of dollars, thousands of lives and now the whole world hates us and took resources and attention away from fighting terrorism. But you know what - none of these matters because these things really only interest pundits and intellectuals. You know what Americans care about? Rising gasoline prices and poor people crying on TV (Katrina). Bush's rating only dipped when TV showed Katrina victims (those poor people....sniff, sniff) and when gas price went above $3 - nothing else matters.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Baby Shower

Friends Jen, Megan & Troy threw a baby shower for Big A & Crumpet. Ihe shower was originally scheduled for Jan 21st, but since Crumpet decided to arrive on the 19th the party was, er, re-scheduled.

The party was at Troy & Megan's lovely house in Greenlake (or was it really Wallingford?). People in the neighborhood should check out Troy's private Pac Man machine downstairs. It was great to see all of our friends : Francoise, Gracie, Ben, Susan, Henry, Jenni, Jim, Nathan (pictured inhaling a balloon), Ryan & Kaoru. Food highlight include bacon wrapped jalapenio, Ryan's spinach dip and the Danish Kringle Gracie brought from Ballard. Much wine, beer & Macallan 12th year cask strength were consumed by the adults. Much balloon were consumed by the kids.

Nathan was the life of the party as he welcomed everyone with a warm smile & big hug. Troy got him hooked on Perrier, in fact Nathan drank so much Perrier he wet his pants and finished the party pantless. I always said it's not a good party until someone loses their pants.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

It's crumpet's world, we just live in it

Life with Baby Crumpet continue to be pure bliss (with the occasional lapse into pure rage, but more on that later). She is eating well, sleeping well and pooping really, really well. Oh boy can't wait for her to start eating solid food.

She travels especially well. Just 2 weeks old and already she has been to Alki Bakery, Coastal Kitchen, Five Spots, Blue C Sushi, Starbucks and Top Pot Donuts. She has inherited mom's penchant for sleeping with her mouth open and her dad's habit of kicking away blankets. She also likes to eat, REALLY likes to eat. Hmmmm......

Did I mention we like to eat too? Made our favorite gumbo dish last night:

Sautee chicken, sausage & bacon. Set aside.

Sautee garlic, shallots, okra, tomatoes, celery & bell peppers. Set aside.

Mix everything together, add file, joe's stuff, kosher salt, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, cracked pepper, bay leaf, rosemary, paprika and chicken stock. Add roux. Simmer for, well, as long as you like (can be days, the longer it cooks the better it will taste. Gumbo makes an excellent left-over dish)

Serve with steamed rice and cornichon.

Watched Shark Tales. It was OK. Really liked Jack Black and Robert di Niro as sharks. Will Smith was a very annoying fish (and robot, and Ali, and cop...)

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Even more doughnuts...

Crumpet and Big A are beginning to be recognized at Top Pot Donuts, since they hang out there so often. The atmosphere is inviting, the conversation stimulating, and the Bavarian cream doughnuts not to be missed. And Big A hasn't missed one yet.

Since it was sunny outside for five hours straight, Crumpet decided to cruise around the neighborhood in her SUV stroller, then patiently waited while Big A struggled to remember how to unfold the darn thing. Showing off fashionable new duds, Crumpet wore a stylin' fuzzy sweater from friend Nicole, owner of knitting store The Naked Sheep, and cute little booties knit by Book Stud. Then Crumpet came home and channeled her inner Super Bowl fan by alternating between yelling and eating her head off for several hours straight.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Life with Crumpet, Rosemary & Truffles

Our friend Eva & David (who are expecting their first offspring this summer) asked how are we handling living with newborn baby & cats. We pondered this question as well. Reality is, nothing. The cats for the most part have decided that Crumpet is a) not a threat, b) not food, c) not a toy and d) not a competition for food or toy and have pretty much accepted her as another member of the useless, strange pinkish creatures we call ''human'' who live to serve them (see photos for proof of the cats' sheer dominance)

Jamie, Todd & their daughter Autumn came to visit. Had braised pork for dinner and then the ridiculously delicious home made brownies Jamie brought. Jamie is pregnant with their 2nd child (baby boy this time) and has been a great source for us through out the pregnancy and now, baby. Jamie works at Costco and revealed their generous family leave policy (3 months of paid leave, up to 6 months of unpaid; husband gets 6 weeks of paid leave). Hooray for Costco for preaching employee loyalty. Todd works for a freight shipping company owned by the Russians. Definitely no mafia connections at all, nope, not one bid, never, of course not....

Milestones for Crumpet!

First, gratuitous cute baby photos

Several milestones were passed this week:
1. passed six pounds
2. received birth certificate
3. received social security card (she can work now, right?)

Crumpet is growing about 1 ounce per day. Mom & Dad are heading back to the gym to work on our arm strength.

THANK YOU all for the thoughtful gifts we have received. Too many to mention and I can't even remember them all.

Highlights: Flowers from Desiree; a giant pot of plant from Bob & Diane Salvatore; baby clothes from Gracie, Kate & John, Prescott, Wendy, Shawn & Rachelle, Terry & Judine Brooks, Hector & Kerri; hand knit baby socks from Book Stud (truffles ate the strings from the pineapple purse, BTW); hand knit toys from Jenni & Jim; box of goodies from the folks at Becker & Mayer; Chinese food & beer + gold pendant from Uncle Chris; flowers from the family of Tupac Shakur (long story); Baby toys from Jessica Callahan; baby clothes & toys from Todd & Jamie; baby books (how to eat sushi & dim sum!) from Kate & John; boppi & toys from Jen Risko....

...gotta go, my cat is throwing up....

Crumpet meets Uncle Chris

Uncle Chris came down from the mountain to meet Crumpet and promises to teach her everything he knows - which would include: Kung-fu, cooking, kayaking, snowboarding, skiing, motorcycles, firemen and EMT. Uncle Chris also gives a mean massage. Did I mention he is single?

My buddy Jerry Magners also came by for dinner. He has been on the road for 4 1/2 weeks doing gift shows (with 1 1/2 more weeks to go) so I decided he needed some home cookin'. Jerry is a walking disaster. He has been in a coma with a childhood bike riding accident, broke his neck during a sea kayaking accident, and otherwise broken every bone in his body in various other accidents. DO NOT play sports with him or you could die.

Dinner was braised pork chops in Da Mao's own invention:

Brine the pork chops in water, kosher salt, sugar & bay leaf

Marinade in paprika, kosher salt, garlic, rosemary, sage, cracked pepper, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, joe's stuff, mead and OJ.

Dip in flour then brown about 2 minutes each side. Add the marinade, add chopped cremini mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. Turn heat down to simmer. Cook for 1 - 2 hours with lid closed - depending how tender you want your meat to be. Stur in butter right before you serve.

Serve with steamed rice and sauteed french beans

Crumpet meets Satchel and Bucky

Crumpet meets friends from Get Fuzzy (no, you can not buy these plush toys. They are one of only a few handful factory prototypes ever made in the world. Their net worth is probably higher than our house)

After mom, dad & La Gringa left we're alone to deal with Crumpet ourselves. How quickly we forget how nice it is to be able to hand her off to someone else for a few hours? A las we game on soldierly. Signed up to Netflix(tm). Since Crumpet's first ever movie was Gladiator we decided her second will be something less bloddy and watched Shrek 2. It has a few moments but I was disappointed with the movie. Two things that bugged me: 1) Much of the jokes were a re-hash from the first movie; 2) overuse of pop songs to tell the story (I counted at least 9 songs, even though give them credit for using Tom Wait and Nick Cave in the same movie). Thumbs down.

Continue to eat well. Made our favorite roast chicken (adapted from Marcella Hazan's Essential Italian Cooking - or known as The Bible in this household)

Brine the chicken in water, kosher salt, sugar & bay leaf

Rub the chicken with olive oil, kosher salt, Joe's stuff, paprika, cumin, cloves, nutmeg, connamon and cracked pepper

Stuff the chicken with whole lemon (with holes pricked in them), rosemary & sage

Roast in the oven at 325 degrees, 20 minutes per pound. Do not turn. Do not open the oven during cooking time.

When it's done, let chicken cool for 5 - 10 minutes before carving. Make gravy with white wine, roux, sage and shallots.

Served with roasted sweet potatoes (rubbed with olive oil & kosher salt) and sauteed oyster mushrooms.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Crumpet in a Diamond box

Who needs plane tickets!