Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Crock Full of Morocco. Sort of.

Years ago, I made this dish. And it was delicious (with more salt.) I lost the recipe, then thanks to Google found it again, and it's got a permanent home on paper in my recipe box, as backup in case the internet goes down. (shudder)

Today, I was in a chickpea/chicken/crockpotty mood. With a dash of butternut squash. So I decided to experiment, and made a variation on the original. And it rocks. Really.

It's really, really not traditional. I assume. (I am not Moroccan, I have no idea.) But it tastes fabulous and really fills that hole that needs filling on a cold, blustery January day where you are stuck inside the same four walls you've been staring at for months.

It was even worth the reaction to the cinnamon. It's worth taking a Benadryl. (Not like I'll need help sleeping after all this starch.) It would be better with cilantro, but I don't have any. Either way, yum.

Moroccan-Style Chicken Stew for the Crock-Pot. With Butternut Squash!

1 T. Olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped

Put that in the crock pot.

1 lb. chicken breasts or thighs, cut in 1 1/2 inch chunks

Dump that in, too.

2 T. flour
2 t. ground coriander
2 t. ground cumin
1 t. salt (or more, to taste. I oversalted a bit. You should measure.)
1/2 t. chipotle chile pepper (I ran out of cayenne.)
1/2 t. cinnamon

Mix flour and spices, pour over meat, toss until well coated.


1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut in 2 inch chunks. (Don't worry, most of it will sort of dissolve anyway.)
1/4 cup chopped green olives with pimiento, drained (the salad ones)
1/3 cup dark raisins, plumped with hot water if they are dried out like mine were.
1 16 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
I added a splash of lemon juice, but I don't think it was necessary.

Mix it all together and cook over high heat until bubbly, then turn to low. Mine cooked about 6 hours, until the chicken was done and the squash was falling apart.

Then I added a can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained, and cooked until it was hot.

Serve over prepared couscous or rice.

Rowan's reaction? "YUM! More? More?"

I agree. :)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

She Got Me: Photo tag!

Potbelly pickles, originally uploaded by MrsBinParis.

The rules are simple...
1. Go to the 4th folder in your computer where you store your pictures.
2. Pick the 4th picture in that folder.
3. Explain the picture.
4.Tag 4 people to do the same.

I had to do the 4th, then the 4th, then the 4th, etc. because of the way my pictures are stored, but this was it. Rowan was eating one of the ENORMOUS pickles at Potbelly in Washington DC two weeks ago. She usually loves pickles, but I think these were too much for even her. (The three of us couldn't finish it.)

OK, I tag Putyourflareon, AndieenParis, Anju, and Mrs. Chicken.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Where's WaldoObama?

Rowan is a typical 19 month old. She loves to identify things she knows, and will continue to do it repeatedly, insisting that you confirm her statement. "Cow!" she yells from the backseat. "Cow! Cow! Cow! COWWWWWWWW!!!!" "Cow," I answer, and she is silent.

She knows a lot, but not everything. Parts of the body, she knows. Clothing items. Books. Diapers (and wipes, but those are also "diapers".) Juice, milk, water. Snacks. Banana, grapes, apple, pineapple (also known as "apple"), bread, pasta, chicken. Shoes, shirt, jeans, pants, tights, mittens. Daddy, Mommy, Baby, Kitty, Puppy, Elmo. Daddy. Elmo. Daddy, Elmo. Lights. Lights. LIGHTS. L*I*G*H*T*S!!!

She sat on her dad's lap while supper was cooking, surfing the web with him. He was looking at a political website, scanning the headlines of the day. Soon, she was helping.

"Obada!" she said, pointing to a small picture. Soon, again. "Obada! Obada! OBADA!!!!"

And now, every male is one of the three. Daddy, Elmo, or "Obada".

Really, what more do we need?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Handmade Love

I've been planning my Christmas cards for a long time. I keep making new versions on various websites, fiddling with photos and colors, design and text. And, yeah. It's the end of January and I haven't even ordered them yet. I consider this fulfilling my New Year's Resolution, early even! (My resolution was to stop being so hard on myself.) Will they get done? No promises.

But, we haven't forgotten those we love. Rowan and I have started making valentines for her grandmas, grandpas, aunts and uncles. She loves doing it, and it usually ends with a tantrum from her because she never ever wants to stop playing with the stickers. (Stickers are BIG with the 19 and 1/2 month old set.)

Here's one of her first few cards. She's doing a great job making them.

Now let's just see if I get them sent before Halloween.

Making Valentines from Ronica on Vimeo.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Dear Pennsylvania,

This is where I'm from.

She ate it.

Cold Weather Behavior:

60 above zero: Floridians turn on the heat. North Dakotans plant gardens.

50 above zero: Californians shiver uncontrollably. People are sunbathing in Fargo.

40 above zero: Import cars won't start. North Dakotans drive with the sunroof open.

32 above zero: Distilled water freezes. The water in Devils Lake gets thicker.

20 above zero: New Mexicans don long johns, parkas and wool hats & mittens. North Dakotans throw on a flannel shirt.

15 above zero: New York landlords finally turn on the heat. People in North Dakota have one last cookout before it gets cold.

Zero: People in Miami all die. North Dakotans close the windows.

10 below zero: Californians fly away to Mexico. North Dakotans dig their winter coats out of storage.

25 below zero: Hollywood disintegrates. Girl Scouts in North Dakota still selling cookies door to door.

40 below zero: Washington, D.C. finally runs out of hot air. People in North Dakota let their dogs sleep indoors.

100 below zero: Santa Claus abandons the North Pole. North Dakotans get upset because the Mini-Van won't start.

460 below zero: ALL atomic motion stops (absolute zero on the Kelvin scale). People in North Dakota can be heard to say, "Cold 'nuff fer ya?"

500 below zero: Hell freezes over. North Dakota public schools open 2 hours late.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Chop Suey Blah Blah Blah

I heard a speaker on some podcast Dr. B was listening to say that Chop Suey means "odds and ends" in Chinese, sort of. Leftovers. So here's some random thoughts from the last few days. This is a long one. Sorry about that.

My space bar is still gone. I have no idea where she could have put it, or how she got it off, but she did. Ordering one, but having trouble with paypal. Dr. B is supposed to help. He fell asleep after supper and is passed out snoring on the couch. Blame the DayQuil + the first week of the semester. (I stole his laptop to write this.)

Rowan has a cold. This means she needs 2 naps, but doesn't want them, so the 2nd one is forced and she wakes up disoriented and cries for about 45 minutes afterward because she didn't want to sleep. It doesn't help that she wakes up after sundown and thinks she missed something really important.

On the bright side, she is coming to me when she sneezes. (Sometimes.) She points to her nose and says, "Nose!" and then I wipe it. She even says "Thank you!" as she runs off to grab another toy.

She is learning so quickly, it's almost scary. She knows appropriate times to say please and thank you, and now says "EXCUSE ME!" loud and clear when anyone burps, farts, sneezes, or makes a funny noise. This includes shopping carts. Then she giggles.

The nurse at her 18 month check up asked if she knew 4 or 5 words. I said closer to 200. And growing. We really have to watch our language, because she repeats whatever you say. She knows lots of animals and what they say, especially the cow. She yells "MOOOOOOO!!!" whenever she sees something black and white. I'm hoping this doesn't result in any embarrassing situations in the future. She loves to identify puppies, kitties, babies and Elmo. Going to Target or Walmart is interesting--you can find us easily by listening for the call of "ELMO!"

She's very helpful, and loves to put things in the garbage, in baskets, by the stairs, etc. This does not extend to picking up her toys, except when I do 90% of the work. (I'll take 10% for now.)

She watches carefully and notices things you'd never expect. Sometimes I find her with a dishrag in her hand, scrubbing at a spot on the floor, or mimicking dancers on television with unbelievable precision for a 19-month old kid. At Cosi the other day, she piped up with a quick "thank you!" when the server brought out my croissant. She looked her in the eye and gave her a big smile.

She has amazing manual dexterity. This includes taking apart laptop computers, starting dishwashers, messing up the stereo, and almost ordering porn on TV (until I put some parent blockers on the cable.) She likes pushing random keys on my clarinet while I'm playing, too. (This doesn't work so well.)

Rowan loves music. Loves LoVeS LOVES "moodic!" Classical, country, jazz, rock, pop--anything. She dances and boogies and giggles and howls and it's just wonderful. Sometimes I don't even want to answer my phone because she's got such a funky groove going to the ringtone.

She's showing signs of being close to potty training, but so far all we've done is read books on the pot (like mother like daughter.) She'll get off the potty chair, but would rather not put her diaper or pants back on afterward, so I end up chasing a half-naked babe around the room hoping she won't poop on the floor. I have a special potty that plays a tune when you go, so I'm looking forward to the first time she actually does the deed. Once, she got close, but stood up and leaned against the wall while it happened, so the floor got wet, but not the pot. I'm not worried--I know it's really early.

Despite all her successes, though, she's still very much a little kid. Big tantrums are thrown when she doesn't get the crackers she wants 2 minutes before dinner, and she rips her mittens off the minute you put them on, over and over again, and then screams when her hands get cold. (I have a few solutions for this in the works; will let you know what is effective.) I am grateful for my years of teaching middle school band--I am good at ignoring these fits, and she's learning that I don't give in easily. I've sabotaged her, too--yesterday I took the handle off the pantry door so she can't open it and pull down juice boxes and cracker packages.

I joined a band that rehearses once a week. Dr. B's class that night goes too late, so he has to have Rowan join the class for a bit while I head off to rehearsal, and then she goes home on the bus with him afterward. This was the first week of it, and he made the mistake of adding a meeting with the dean after class. He paid the price with an over-tired screaming toddler to deal with on the way home. It didn't help that it was 14 degrees and snowing and they had to walk quite a ways to get to the bus. (Of course, she wouldn't put her mittens on.)

Oh, and we went to Washington DC last weekend--it was great. Dr. B had a conference for the Solar Decathlon, and we got really cheap rates at a posh Marriott. Due to the storm (and how tired we were) we decided to stay over an extra night, so the ride home was much less stressful. While he was in conference, Rowan and I went to the national mall (where the houses will be come October) and to the Smithsonian American History museum. I love history, but was a bit disappointed. I was hoping to see more of the collection, and less exposition--I'm a history buff, so knew a lot about it already. I didn't need 8 panels describing Lincoln to see the Gettysburg Address--I would have loved to see more stuff from that time and less of the storyboards. But I did get to see the desk where Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, an early Constitution copy, many Stradivarius violins and even a cello, and a real Kermit the Frog. Rowan had her picture taken in front of Steven Colbert's portrait. (I'll get those on Flickr soon.) She had her first subway rides, and is now officially obsessed with "choo choos". The Natural Fusion house will be on the mall for 3 weeks in October, so we will see more sites when we're there then. By then, the Obamamania will no doubt have died down a bit. (I'm glad I'm not in DC this weekend!)

And last but not least--it's cold and snowy in PA. We're above zero, but they're calling it "frigid" and "bitter". When it hit 30, people at the store were complaining about how cold it was. I can't stop giggling. My hometown currently has -40 degrees. Sorry, 5 above is not frigid. Not even close. IMO, if your snot doesn't freeze when you walk outside, it's only chilly.

And... scene.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I want to blog

I have lots to say but my spacebar got stolen by someone short and it takes too much effort to type.

So here's a video of our "Moodic!" lover. More soon about our DC trip, potties and politesse.

At the end she really rocks out. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Give You What You Need

The cuddles are gone.

Those lovely evenings, the rocking, the snuggling--no more.

All she wants now, when the teeth are brushed and the story is told (with me in the big rocking chair, and her in the small one), is bed. "Nap? Nut? (Nuk) Bed?" as she points to her crib. A quick hug and kiss for mom when demanded, and then excited jumping in my arms as I stand to carry her over to her little nest. She arches her back, attempting to dive into her crib.

I cover her, she rolls on to her belly, and I go to the door.

I look back, wishing I could go back. But no.

"Goodnight, Sweetheart. Have a good snooze," I say.

"Bye." Her answer, so blunt. "Bye!" She wants me to go.

"I love you," I reply, my hand on the door knob.

She pulls the nuk out of her mouth.

"Nye nove you."

My new favorite.
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