Saturday, January 9, 2010


So Jenny and I are of two different characters while cooking. Jenny requires, absolutly requires, a recipe. It frightens her that I can look inside the refrigerator, think about what is in the pantry, and whip together any number of dishes that all have multiple ingredients and are quite complete dishes. She can't do that. If there's a dish of mine that she really likes she needs to watch, measure, and write down what I've put in it since I can't tell her.

While my free-wheeling "Hey, let's add some of that!" style works fine for cooking, it may not be the best idea while baking. While there have been successes, I can make buttercream frosting in about a quarter of the time that Jenny can (I figured when they said "low heat," that was another way of saying "high heat and stir rapidly"). That said, there have been some memorable failures: the banana bread I forgot to add sugar to (that's very important it turns out), there were the espresso chocolate chip cookies/rocks (it turns out that if you add more liquid that you just shouldn't add flour until the consistency is right), and there was the flourless chocolate cake made with unsweetened Scharffenberger chocolate that seemed like a great idea (it wasn't).

Tonight was a bit of a failure, and success.

I thought Thomas and I should make gingerbread, so I got out the recipe from Baking Illustrated and went through it, sort of. We didn't have a 11" x 7" pan so I figured I'd use a 9" x 13" and just cook it for less time. After about 30 minutes, a toothpick inserted came out clean, but it sure looked short, it hardly rose at all. The gingerbread came out like some sort of dense ginger brownie.

I went and checked the recipe to see if this was what was intended. The first thing I noticed was a note that said if you didn't have that pan, use a 9" square. The second thing I noticed was that the recipe mentioned a cup of milk. I had added no milk. Perhaps that explained it.

Of course I did the mature thing and immediately blamed my two-year-old assistant. Then I ate them and drank milk on the side. They are delicious, but nothing, and I mean nothing, like gingerbread as far as the texture goes, but the entire family had seconds. I wrote notes in the cookbook so that Jenny could make them again.
The Letters of Horace Walpole (1754), vol. 2, Letter 90
This discovery, indeed, is almost of that kind which I call Serendipity, a very expressive word...I once read a silly fairy tale, called "The Three Princes of Serendip;" as their Highnesses travelled, they were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of: for instance, one of them discovered that a mule blind of the right eye had traveled the same road lately, because the grass was eaten only on the left side, where it was worse than on the right--now do you understand Serendipity?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sneek Peek at Baby Rosemary

Here she is in 4-D at 29 weeks. She kept her hand in front of her face the whole time.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Apron models

Santa baby

Rock you like a hurricane

Thomas discovered that he could play Rock Band which my cousins got for Christmas. I don't know if I should have been happy or disturbed when he beat my father's score. In Dad's defense he was playing the guitar while Thomas was on the drums and it did happen to be a song where the red and yellow colors were dominant and those are the ones that he likes to beat, but still.

Two chickens and one honorary chicken

My mother has three chickens in her backyard. The dog, who is now 13, has always suffered from a bit of an identity crisis. When he was young he thought he was a cat as we had a cat. With the cat having been gone for years now he is now convinced he is a chicken. In the morning you will see three chickens and a dog eating raw rice and chicken scratch out on the porch.

Dog pajamas

My mother tried to make certain that the family is outfitted in matching Christmas dog pajamas for Christmas. I think she succeeded.

Jelly Beans

So my parents love to go up to Shaver Lake in their motor home. (Or as Thomas likes to call it the "mo home") At their campground they have bear themed everything. There are wooden bears that are cut into just about everything. With that in mind, what did I think that my father needed for Christmas?

A bear themed Jelly Bean dispenser! How does it work you ask. Well you push on the head and out come Jelly Beans that are stored inside. It also answers the question that has always been posed. What do bears do in the woods? My sister thought it was great. She'll be getting one next year.

Fun with aprons

So Thomas got an apron, measuring cups, and a cookbook for Christmas all of which he loves.

Ruthann got an apron as well, as seen below. My sister got an apron also and figured that pictures needed to be taken of both her and Thomas in their new aprons.

Do you think Jenny was surprised?

Jenny and I usually don't get each other presents. I decided to give her one this year as a surprise. I think I succeeded.

Thomas's new apron

Ruthann's new apron

Thomas unwraps presents

Christmas with the Aunt Geek and Ruthann

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Thomas take pictures

Thomas figures that if Dada can take pictures, he can take pictures too. Of course Dada used a tripod AND camera while Thomas only used a tripod. He did make everyone smile so that their picture could be taken.

Hanging with Aunt Geek

Grandma and Aunt Renee

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Commitment is . . .

finishing a gallon-sized jug of soy sauce. Monday was our 7th anniversary. In many ways, it doesn't seem that long ago, but there's been a lot of life lived since this picture was taken.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Thomas's World

Why does Dada work? "Dada go work. Buy more O's." (Yep, gotta earn that buck ninety-nine.)
Why is he wrapping his play colander in a beach towel? "Thomas make col-der feel better."
What are you making in the play kitchen? "Thomas cook pasta. Thomas make milk." He also talks about making juice, popcorn, chicken, & cupcakes. Oh, and tea. Lots of tea. With milk.
"I luv you, Mama." "I love you, too, Thomas." "I luv you, one, Mama."
"One, two, free, five, nine, ten, eleven. ELEVEN!!!"
"Here you go, Thomas." "Fank you, welcome."
"No ride Mama's car! Ride Dada's BW (BMW) car! PCW car." (Kid's got taste.)
"R, S, T, W, car, Y" (more BMW's)
Playing with Ruthann: "Peep-by-you, Roo-fan!"
When he's feeling lazy and wants carried: "Thomas no want walk on floor!"
"Mama, music a bit loud."


I love warm pudding. It just tastes like comfort. It's also fast and easy and you don't need to keep a dorky box of mix around. Here's my recipe that I just made up.

Fast Chocolate Pudding (with a minimum of dirty dishes)
Equipment: Small pot, whisk, 1/4 c measure
1. Whisk together 1/2 c sugar (i.e. 2 of your 1/4 cups), 1/4 c cornstarch, 1/4 c cocoa powder, and a pinch of salt in the small pot. Make sure to break up all the lumps in the cocoa.

2. Stir in 2 c milk (I just use the 1/4 c measure and count to 8) and a splash of vanilla. Whisk well to dissolve the cornstarch. You'll be left with a foam of cocoa powder floating on the top.

3. Turn the heat on to high or medium-high and whisk constantly. Don't let gunk accumulate in the corners of the pot. The cocoa powder will dissolve when the milk gets warm. When it comes to a boil, the cornstarch will activate and it will get very thick very fast. Turn off the heat.

4. Gently whisk in another cup of milk to cool the pudding to the proper warm temp for eating. If you like it chilled, pour it into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Keep the wrap touching the surface of the pudding to avoid forming a skin. Stash in fridge until cool. But really, it's better warm.

I was in the mood for Mexican chocolate, so I added a teaspoon and a half of cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne to step 1.

Other ideas: add in some chopped chocolate after step 3 for added decadence. Replace some of the milk with cold coffee for a mocha flavor. Leave out the cocoa for a vanilla pudding. Warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, and black pepper are all possibilities. Vanilla + nutmeg = eggnog flavor. Replace some of the milk with fruit juice (may want to reduce the sugar). Chocolate orange maybe? Imagination is so tasty! Just don't add lemon or lime juice or the milk will curdle (not good eats).

And now my bowl is empty. It's time for a refill. I'm going to warm it up on the stove a bit first. Mmm! Mmm! Mmm!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I don't know what to say.

Still here, still alive, not smoked out yet.

Life in Southern California has definite seasons, there's the dream perfect season (Spring), followed by heat (Summer), followed by fire (Fall), and then mudslides (Winter). Right now we're apparently in the early part of fire season. Last year was really bad with the highlights being ash raining on the sidewalks and evacuation of the school. This year we're on the other side of the hills. The particulates all are on the other side, but this is the view behind our apartment. No, those are not clouds, it's smoke.

Great idea?

One of the advantages of coaching is that you have access to a large amount of stuff that people think is pretty cool, but that few people have lying around. As a result I decided that I would try to see what would be the reaction if I walked in the house wearing a football helmet. I placed in on my head and Thomas just stared at me for about five seconds and the a soft voice filled with awe, "Thomas want!" These pictures are the result.

Of course if it's good enough for Thomas.

It's good enough for Ruthann as well.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ruthann's Baptism

We realized that Ruthann had been baptized a year ago on the 20th. It's also her great-grandfather's birthday. We thought that this meant that we needed a party. What does any party need? Pulled pork, coleslaw, and ice cream sandwiches! This is how Ruthann eats an ice cream sandwich. Let me also say that I can think on no other meal that she has ever eaten where there we no crumbs left over at the end.

Where's Thomas's ice cream sandwich you may ask. Thomas thought that the best part of ice cream sandwiches was that if you hold it in your hand it will melt, onto the carpet. If we broke off a piece of it and put it in his mouth he screamed. This resulted in his ice cream sandwich being taken away if he wasn't going to eat it. Who ate it then? Ruthann did. It was a double dose of joy.

If you're taking pictures of Thomas...

He's going to want pictures of Gilgamesh.

Dada get camera

Dada take pictures of Beowulf!

Jenny and Ruthann

Note the black eye, someone opened the door of the play kitchen into her face.

Thomas no sleep in bed

Can you believe that we make him try to sleep in a bed?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Take Pictures Thomas Bear

I got out the camera and I heard an small very insistent voice, "Take pictures, Thomas, bear."

This is it.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Ruthann is Hiding

So out of the kindness and generosity of my dear, lovable wife's heart we've upgraded cameras to a DSLR and even got image software. Expect more high quality pictures in this space more often and e-mail me or Jenny if you want a higher quality file so that you can make a print at Costco or somewhere else. I shrink the images way down for posting on the blog.

Talking to Grandma

Hanging with Jimbles

Ruthann and Mugsy

Saturday, June 20, 2009


It mewed at the door to come in Thursday and hasn't left yet. Very friendly and purrs. Beckham tolerates her. A lahar is a volcanic cloud of ash and mud that can flow downhill at over 100 mph. Her color reminded me of ash and of clouds.

Synchronized Sleeping

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

First Cow's Milk

Once you're one, you're allowed to drink cow's milk. I think this is the first time she's drank from a sippy without spitting all of it back out.

Birthday Morning-After

Ruthann's First Birthday

Thomas thinks the German Chocolate Victoria cake is for him. Well, one piece of it is.

Is this all for me? I'm not sure what to do with this big thing.

Pieces go in The Mouth! Oh, it's so good!

Here, Mama. Want some that I found on my dress?

Could the day get any better? Yay! A bath!