Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Modern tuna noodle casserole

Confession: I've always struggled with making dinner. For most of my adult life, I either ate out or made a box of Rice-a-Roni or something equally a) easy and b) not nutritious. Once Oscar came along, I definitely became more health-conscious in my food choices, but not necessarily ambitious. (For example, a microwaved bag of frozen organic brown rice plus a can of black beans is a standard meal for us.) Add devoted carnivore Chris into the mix and it's very rare to find a dish that we all like and will eat together. But occasionally I hit upon a success. This healthy version of tuna noodle casserole is so easy, adaptable, and best of all, tasty that we all like it. It's now in frequent rotation at our house.

Cook 4 cups of whole wheat pasta, such as penne or fusilli
Chop an onion, mix with 2 or 3 cans of drained tuna fish and the cooked pasta
Heat 2 cans of cream of celery or cream of mushroom soup and 1 cup of fat free milk
until smooth, add a cup or so of frozen peas (or whatever you have on hand), 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 TB Mrs. Dash (or other seasoning).

Mix everything together and put in a 13 x 9 casserole dish, bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Melt some shredded cheese on top (2-4 more minutes), and it's done.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Sneakery

Chris and Oscar were positively gleeful in The Sneakery, an emporium carrying casual footwear -- but more importantly the most awesome array of socks I've ever seen. Besides his standard Converse low-tops, Chris ended up buying three pairs of socks. Can you guess which ones? So many cute socks in one place -- and lots of kids' shoes and socks as well!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Book I love: Haiku Baby

When Oscar was a baby, he had dozens of all types of board books -- classics by Dr. Seuss, Sandra Boynton, Eric Carle, Byron Barton, Margaret Wise Brown, DK Touch and Feel, and of course many I had never heard of but bought just because they were so beautiful. Oscar learned his first shape words (triangle! square! arch!) from a set of board books that were so tiny he could manipulate them himself. I remember all those books like old friends. I loved reading to Oscar, and he loved being read to.

Anyway, I found a wonderful board book yesterday that he would have loved: Haiku Baby by Betsy Snyder. I was attracted to it because of the wonderful illustrations, but the whole thing is lovely. The haiku form (three unrhymed verses of five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables) is just the sort of soothing, rhythmic pace that babies enjoy; the 17 syllables paint word images illustrating nature elements such as snow, rain, leaf, and moon. Tabs on the side make it easy to get to each haiku. I'm sorry that this book was created too late for Oscar's babyhood, but if you have a baby in your life, it's not too late for you!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Bakery Nouveau

You might be getting the idea that all I do is eat croissants, but I have to tell you about yet another great French bakery, Bakery Nouveau in West Seattle. It has the best baguettes I've tasted since moving here! But as the saying goes, man does not live by bread alone: Lunch options include quiche, sandwiches such as veggie (kalamata olives, pickles, carrots, cucumber, cream cheese, Italian herbs and provolone cheese on a chibatta roll); turkey and havarti on a croissant; roasted duck on baguette; or a BLT on baguette. Our friend Karen, who first recommended Bakery Nouveau to us, said her favorite is the ham and cheese croissant. I love the Sicilian pizza. Today Chris and Oscar opted for stromboli; it had just come out of the oven when we arrived.

There is a vast array of handmade chocolates on display, and dozens -- maybe hundreds! -- of beautiful tarts, cakes, eclairs, and pastries, and the requisite colorful macarons. Alas, I didn't try any of those, but we did share a twice-baked almond croissant, because many of the tips on foursquare recommended them. It was yummy, but I could've done without all the powdered sugar on top. I saw so many things I'd love to taste! I'll probably never go to West Seattle without stopping here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Seattle Home Show Top 10

I was a little surprised that Chris wanted to go to the Seattle Home Show, but I think he was hoping for a mega cache of "miracle products," like the ones he always get suckered into buying at state fairs. I wasn't sure what to expect since I've never been to a home show, but I do like nice homes!

The event is at the CenturyLink Field Event Center, a huge space near the baseball park. Inside are vendors of everything from hot tubs to lawn care services, and since we don't have a definite remodeling project in mind, we just wandered around to see what caught our eyes. Here are 10 things that intrigued me.

There are a lot of pest-removal services with scary displays like this. God, I hope our house doesn't get rats!
I looked at about a million door handles. If I didn't restrain myself, my whole house would probably have whimsical handles like this woodpecker.
I really love the colored appliances. But will orange become the avocado green of the future?
We found a place that makes the original wood-framed windows in old houses functional and easy to open. And they had this cool twiggy window on display!
This CargoCottage by ShelterKraft Werks is so cute! It has a kitchen, living room, bedroom and bathroom in one tiny 20' space, and it actually looks pretty cool too. This one's just $35,000. Perfect guest house?
I love these giant refrigerators. There were so many cool ones! Guess there's no way it would fit into the CargoCottage, though.
I am strangely attracted to these tile murals. Too tacky?
Unfortunately, this display of astroturf got Chris and Oscar set on finishing the basement in pseudo-backyard style. They were also intrigued by the faux stone grotto shower display.
This is the coolest idea! A solar-powered roof vent fan. Hey, I just made a pun.
The highlight for me was an "Antiques Roadshow"-like event called Dr. Lori's Trinket or Treasure. Each show attendee can bring one object for Dr. Lori to appraise. Before we left our house I couldn't think of anything I own that I thought was valuable, but now that I've seen the show I wish I brought something after all. The show was educational, but Dr. Lori is also extremely funny. She's very sarcastic (or mean, depending on how sensitive you are), so if you don't have a thick skin, maybe stay away. Anyway, here she is, and a cookie jar that turned out to be a treasure! If you like antiques and/or vintage stuff, check out Dr. Lori if she comes to your area. She even hosts vacation cruises.

Finally, I really like this sign encouraging everyone to pay top dollar. Ha ha!
All in all, the Seattle Home Show is a great place to go to get ideas for your home, so if you're into home improvement, I'd recommend it. There are also seminars every day, from maximizing your closets to working with an architect to improving energy efficiency. If you buy tickets online, you get free parking, a free subscription to Better Homes and Gardens, and can even use an online coupon code to get $5 off each ticket, so it's not expensive at all to get in (it ended being about $13 for two adults and one child), but the food prices are outrageous ($3.75 for small bottle of water, $9 for chicken nuggets, $7 for a slice of pizza, $3 for one doughnut), so eat before you go! The show ends February 26.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Issian: Japanese stone grill

It's hard to believe, but I think it's true: I hadn't had sushi since I moved from San Francisco in JUNE. This past weekend, one of Chris's friends told him that the very best and most authentic izakaya in Seattle was right in our own neighborhood, so last night we tried it for ourselves. Issian is now Chris's favorite Seattle restaurant thus far.

We got there during Happy Hour (4:30-6:30), when you can order yakitori (grilled chicken) and yakiton (grilled pork) for $1 a skewer, gyoza for $3, edamame for $2 -- which is what we started with -- but they also have a bunch of other small plates (seaweed salad, fries with wasabi mayo, crispy chicken wings, agedashi tofu, korokke (croquettes) ...). Obviously you could make a whole meal out of these appetizers, but I really wanted sushi, so we also had some of that (sadly, not at Happy Hour prices). The stone grill method of cooking kept the meat juicy and tender. Yum!

There's a big menu of saki and beer, but I wanted to try something new, so I ordered Takara Plum Wine. It comes on the rocks, and I LOVE it -- and truthfully, I was actually expecting to hate it. The taste reminded me of a Shirley Temple (though it's not fizzy), and while it's definitely sweet, I didn't think it was overly sweet. Oscar had a Ramune, a lemon-lime soft drink that comes in a glass bottle stopped with a marble. Anyway, every scrap of food was consumed. Oishii -- delicious! We will definitely be back!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My funny valentines

Happy Valentine's Day! I couldn't pick just one, so I thought I'd share a bunch of my favorite Internet valentine cards this year. Enjoy!