29 January 2012

Stop and Smell the Rosemary.

Every once and awhile,there's a dish that is so delectable, I have to consider it blog-worthy, even if it has nothing to do with the G.  This is one of those entries.  For several years, I've had this awesome cookbook called Stop and Smell the Rosemary.  Years ago, I had dinner at a friend's house and she made a dish or two from this cookbook, and I was hooked.  It took me awhile to find it (oh the wonders of Amazon!) but once I had it in my grasp, I haven't looked back.  There's something about this cookbook that is almost elegant.  Maybe it's the cover with its fancy white vase, filled with a heaping bouquet of plush flowers.  You can almost imagine the fragrant aroma jumping off the page, wafting subtly under your nose.   

The dish in question is called simply Chicken Strudel.  It is a labor of of love.  It's easy but time-consuming, and the end result is well worth the effort.  It's been a couple years since I made it, but tonight felt like a special occasion, worthy of standing in the kitchen for a couple hours compiling this masterpiece.  It was a busy, fun-filled day. We met up with some friends this morning and took the Boo swimming, which was exhausting, exhilarating, and made us hungry.  Terry starts a new job tomorrow and so it just seemed like a good time to make this special dish. 

So here it is...fresh from the pages of Stop and Smell the Rosemary, Chicken Strudel:  
Before popping in the oven.

1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, poached and chopped
2 tbls olive oil
1 med onion, chopped
1 pound fresh spinach
3 cups shredded Muenster cheese
2 tbls dry white wine
1/2 teasp salt
1/2 teasp fresh ground pepper
1 lg egg, beaten
1 lb frozen phyllo pastry, thawed**
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup bread crumbs

Heat oil in med skillet.  Add onion and saute until tender.  Add spinach and continue to cook 5 min, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat and let cool. Stir in cheese, wine, salt, pepper, and egg.   Add chicken.  
Preheat oven to 375.  On waxed paper, place 1 sheet of phyllo, brush with butter, and sprinkle with bread crumbs.  Repeat to make 4-5 layers.  Spoon about a cup of the chicken mixture on one end.  Roll phyllo and tuck ends in on either side.  Brush with butter, and make a few diagonal cuts on top through dough, about 1 inch apart.  Sprinkle top with paprika.  Repeat process to make up to 4 strudels.  Place on greased baking dish and bake 20 minutes. 

**So the weird thing about this recipe is that the original tells you to spoon half of the mixture onto one end of the strudel and do this twice, making only two strudels.  I think if you did this, you'd be unable to roll it as well and you'd have a gigantic strudel to deal with.  So I break it up into four.  When you buy a lb of phyllo, you get two rolls in the box. Following these instructions with the five sheets of layering, I still have a roll of phyllo left over and still am able to make four strudels, each with about five layers of phyllo.  Besides, this is the type of dish where you want leftovers.  It's just that good.
20 magical minutes later.

27 January 2012

Music Together.

Growing up, I didn’t live in a particularly musical household.  There was no piano, no one played an instrument, and I don’t remember much random singing.  What I do remember was the chocolate brown 8-track stereo that sat in our living room, and my sister’s and my first record player with rack of 45’s.  I have fond memories of holding countless ‘concerts’ in our shared bedroom, using hairbrushes as mics and dancing around lip syncing to George Michael and the Pointer Sisters to our audience of stuffies. 

When G turned 18 months, I began looking for some kind of music class to enroll him in.  I wanted to expand his world just that much more, and also give us an opportunity to do something altogether.  I found one, it started just a couple weeks ago, and already I feel like my perspective on music involvement in a child’s life has changed and grown for the better.

His first class, while fun for T and I, was not so much for G.  He wasn’t really into it, never left our laps, and made me wonder if we had made the right decision to commit the next 10 weeks to this adventure.  But class 2, just last Saturday, was a different experience.  He was more active, definitely into the instruments, and began to show his own little moves. 

Then earlier this week, there was a parents-only education night to talk about why musical influences in early childhood development are beneficial, and to share more about the philosophy of Music Together.  I went solo, and on the drive home, it got me thinking about what musical influences had shaped my own experiences.  I’ve never thought of myself as musical because I can’t read music, didn’t up playing that saxophone that I entertained the idea of doing back in fourth grade, and like many, do my best singing in the car or the shower.  But in thinking about those impromptu bedroom concerts, how many cds I actually do own (G, ask me what those are someday, as I’m sure by the time you’re old enough to read this, they will have died the death of the 8track and record), and how much music and dancing ruled my 20’s, my definition of what being musical means, has shifted. 

Maybe I do have a bit of musicality in me.  I still love listening to music. I still love singing to it in the car, holding my own pretend concerts in the kitchen while cooking (the wooden spoon makes an awesome mic), and I still get psyched when a really good 80s song (and G, I will teach you the definition of a ‘good’ 80s song versus a BAD 80s song) plays that I haven’t heard in a while.

What I love now is that I’m already seeing the influence of this class in G at home.  At the first class, we were given a songbook and cd of all the music that’d be played this session.  It’s called the Bells collection, and has a series of really catchy songs meant to get moving, shake those maracas.  We play it in the car and on weekend mornings.  I sing the songs to him while we get ready for ‘school’, or getting cozy for bed.  And he’s now starting to repeat it.  And even better, liking it! While he may not appear to always to be into it in the actual class, that little mind is soaking it all up like a juicy sponge that is bursting with new knowledge.   

One of the important lessons I took away from the parent-education night was not only is it important for the parents to participate as freely as the child, but to allow the child to express himself in their own way. Meaning, if we're listening to the music and G's not banging on the drum to the exact beat, don't correct him! He's doing it his way and having the most fun doing so.  That's what matters.

We have eight weeks left to the class. I can't wait to watch him continue to express himself in creative, fun, and carefree ways as he learns to appreciate the music. Something we should all take a lesson from in this fast-paced, busy adventure we call life.

03 January 2012

A Year in Review.

2011, what a year with you, our sweet little dear
You learned to crawl, you mastered the walk,
and more everyday you're trying to talk.

You got your first haircut, you've tried many foods,
Our love for you keeps growing, even in cranky moods.

You love the freezing Atlantic, you adore the Maine beach,
You loved chasing seagulls that were just out of reach.

After walking you discovered how to charge, how to run,
and Mama slathered on sunblock to protect that fair skin from the sun.

You've learned how to play and had many playdates,
You're a hit with my coworkers here at work, at Bates.
(and don't forget the cuties at daycare who are your playmates!)

You've got a best friend and he's the bear Pooh,
I wonder, when you're 20, will we still call you Boo?

Pooh and Giraffe are your two favorite loveys,
tho the nest of your crib is overflowing with stuffies.

Now don't forget the one, the only, the great Mrs. Bear,
who's giant bear paw you like to rub on your hair.

We've done some fun travel; Camden, Bar Harbor, Ogunquit to name just a bunch,
On a side note, I'm always amazed at what daycare tells me you've eaten for lunch!

We've hit the museums; gone on some great hikes,
Love watching you 'drive' your red Cozy Coupe by Little Tikes.

You've gone from spiked peach fuzz to long golden strands,
If only I could get you to stop tasting your crayons.

You love looking at books, we've got some great reads,
Including ones that help you learn head, shoulders, and knees.

You're smart as a whip, that much we already know,
You have no fear of heights, water, the dark or the snow!

You climb like a monkey; couches, stairs, and toy chests,
You launch onto Daddy without a break or a rest.

You've got another pal in Gabby the pooch,
Who's most favorite thing is to give you a smooch.

The kitties, they are not really your fans,
Except maybe Winston the Manx, from the Isle of Man.

This year was full of events, both strange and of new,
To recap all would take time so here are just a few.

There were earthquakes and tsunamis, revolutions and scandals,
Royal weddings, 'celebrity' trials and vigils with candles.

Sheen's tiger blood caused a stir as did his 'winning',
We learned that the Terminator and his housekeeper were sinning.

Whitey Bulger was captured after years on the run,
Kim Jong Il and Gadhafi both dead, as is Bin Laden.

It was a year to mark the end of an era,
Am I talking Oprah Winfrey or the space shuttles of NASA?

The Oscar went for the speech of a king,
and we lost some folks who could act, invent, and sing.

Taylor, Jobs, and Winehouse were some who have died,
and then Mr. Rooney, who, although crotchety, had a great ride.

The S&P gave a downgrade, Herman Cain had his nines,
There was Occupy Wall Street; protesters, tents, and signs.

There were championships and scandals that rocked well-known schools,
UConn Huskies won March Madness and your mom won the pool! :)

Yes, Boo, it's been quite a year; ups, downs, good and bad times,
Bring on 2012 and the end of my rhymes.

Here's to another fun year with the sweet, delicious Boo,
I'm not sure we can take another with endless watchings of Pooh.

Happy New Year!