Lessons my Grandfather Taught Me

Dear Grandpa,

It’s Father’s Day and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to write you a letter. Spending a couple of weeks every summer with you and grandma taught me a lot of about life, love, and people.

I have never been very tough, at least, not emotionally tough, but spending time with you was emotional boot camp. You were the quintessential grumpy old man getting angry at the drop of a hat.

Read More HERE

Grandpa and me

7 Summer Activities for the Indoors (AC Included)

My son finished preschool less than two weeks ago and we’ve already been hit by one summer cold and more than a few days of rain. Plus, we have a six-month-old in the house who needs to nap regularly, so while summer should be about sending our kids outside to play, it doesn’t always happen that way. So here’s some ideas I have for my kids that I’m holding in my back pocket for those days when we have to stay indoors.

Read more herehttp://redtri.com/7-summer-activities-for-the-indoors-ac-included/

Recipe of the Week: Spam Musubi + Bonus recipe

I am so excited to share my spam musubi recipe, a Hawaiian staple. This is a spam sushi for those of you who have never had one and it’s very simple to make. I usually have all the ingredients on hand, which is great because my son regularly asks for it. They are great for a party because you can prepare them in advance and you don’t need to keep them hot or cold.

My husband had to make them for work so he took the tools I’d usually use to make them, but this turned out to be a positive thing because my musubi mould is difficult to find. I buy mine at Longs Drugs Store when I visit my family in Hawaii. So, if you aren’t going to Hawaii anytime soon, you can use the method I used while my husband had my musubi mould.


For those of you who may be familiar with spam musubi or are from Hawaii, my version is very simple. Here’s a few quick notes:

  • I do not like teriyaki sauce on my spam. I will include a simple teriyaki recipe here in case you like it, but I don’t.
  • I do not use sushi rice. I like the simple taste of the white rice with the salty spam.
  • Keep a bowl of water near your workspace so you can get your hands/fingers wet. It helps to keep the rice from sticking.
  • These should be kept at room temperature. Bacteria grows on rice rather quickly, so you want to eat them within a day or two, which isn’t hard in my house.
  • My secret ingredient IS difficult to find, at least on the mainland. If you live near an asian grocery store, you will probably be able to find it no problem. But if your asian grocery store doesn’t have it, then you might have to do without it, like I did.
  • I’ve included pictures at the bottom of this post to help explain the instructions.

Ingredients

1 can of (low sodium) Spam – it doesn’t have to be low sodium, but this is what I buy

1 package of Nori or dried seaweed

3 cups of cooked calrose or medium grain white rice – cooked according to package


1 can of furikake – this is my secret ingredient and the one I’m currently missing 😦


Instructions

  1. Cut Spam into approximately 8 thin slices.
  2. In a non-stick pan, fry slices of spam over medium heat until lightly browned.
  3. When spam are cooked, put them on a plate with paper to drain grease. (If you’re using teriyaki sauce, you want to brush some sauce on the spam after it’s been fried). When cooled slightly, cut each piece of spam into 4 long thin strips.
  4. On a non-stick mat, wooden mat, or piece of parchment paper, have one sheet of nori. Cover the nori in rice, pressing down slightly. Leave about 1/2 inch of nori without rice at one end.
  5. Place 4 thin strips of spam about 1/3 of the way on the rice & nori.
  6. Sprinkle furikake over the spam.
  7. Roll rice over spam, pulling tightly. Continue to roll tightly till the end of the nori.
  8. Use your wet fingers to get the nori to stick to each other to seal.
  9. Repeat until all of your spam is gone.





    Bonus points if you noticed the half eaten spam musubi in the back. It’s hard work making these and NOT eating one while you work. 

    Simple Teriyaki Sauce

    Mirin (japanese sweet cooking wine)

    Sugar

    Soy Sauce

    Sauce Instructions

    There are no amounts listed in the ingredient list because you can make any amount, the trick is that all the ingredients must be in equal proportions. So if you want to make a half cup of sauce, then you can do 1/4 cup of soy sauce, 1/4 cup of mirin, 1/4 cup of sugar. I usually make 1 cup or more each batch, put it in a glass jar, and keep it in the fridge to have on hand for a quick tofu stir fry or baked teriyaki chicken. You can, of course, add minced garlic and freshly grated ginger to this recipe. Either or both of those would be a nice addition, but I keep it simple and use this family tested recipe.

    1. Simply combine the ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium low heat. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low.
    2. Let simmer until the sugar is dissolved and the sauce is the consistency you prefer. I like my sauce thick, so I usually let it go for about 10-15 minutes. Just make sure you watch it so it doesn’t boil over. You can burn this sauce!

    BONUS RECIPE: I made teriyaki chicken with this teriyaki sauce this week. I bought about a pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I put the chicken in a ziplock bag and added about 1/4 cup of teriyaki sauce. I let it marinate in the fridge for a few hours. When I was ready to cook, I preheated the oven to 400 degrees. Lined a glass pan with foil and placed the chicken thighs in the pan. I baked for about 20 minutes, then checked to see if it reached 165 degrees internally (we live at a high altitude so you may have a different cooking time). I let it rest for another 5 minutes on the counter. I served it with white rice and steamed broccoli. My kids loved it!

     

    Memorial Day Weekend

    I hope everyone had a lovely Memorial Day weekend. It’s an especially hard weekend for those who have lost families, friends, or brothers/sisters in arms, but I hope that by enjoying our freedom, we pay tribute to those who lost their lives.


    Our family spent the day out at a local festival. Our boys had tons of fun, but as luck would have it, when they were next in line for the bounce house, the bounce house had to shut down due to rain. So of course we went back the next day so they could cash in their tickets and enjoy themselves. That day also coincided with my husband tweaking his back and me coming down with a cold. That meant my kiddos had a quiet Monday with little outside fun.

    My fallback activity when I’m sick is letting my kids watch tv. Since it was both my husband and I who were sick/injured, we couldn’t really help each other the way we normally do. The only other time this has happened is when we both got food poisoning. Luckily, we only had our oldest son at the time, and he was about six months old so he was still sleeping a lot and not very mobile. Now that the kids are older, being sick takes on a new heaviness.

    What do you do when you’re sick or out of commission? I’d love some ideas so the next time this happens, I have some alternatives to television.

    Recipe of the Week

    I’m giving you another vegetarian recipe this week. As you can tell, I try to cook vegetarian a few nights a week. I’ll tell you a little secret too. I’ve never made the more classic version of this recipe: chicken pot pie. But my family and I adore this vegetable pot pie and it’s easy enough to make.

    You’ll find the recipe at the blog, What do I Eat Now? Here’s the link: http://whattheheckdoieatnow.com/2015/11/25/the-tastiest-veggie-pot-pie/

    Here’s my notes:

    –If you use unsalted butter instead of the vegan replacement suggested, then you’ll need to add a lot more salt. Make sure to taste test your filling before adding it to the pie shell.

    –If you use chicken broth instead of the vegetable broth, then you won’t need as much salt. Again, tasting your filling is important.

    –Make sure you chop your celery into small pieces. So I’d suggest chopping them through the length, and then chopping them normally. I’ve chopped them without cutting them lengthwise and the celery overpowers the other vegetables.

    –I’ve used Lactaid milk instead of almond milk and the recipe still tastes great.

     

    Have you made pot pies before? If so, what have you filled them with?

    Getting Outside

    Today was a beautiful day and since I had checked the weather report yesterday, I knew it was the perfect time for all of us to get out of the house. We also had to mail a couple of cards and since our mail person is not very nice, I have to drop them off at a post office box (those pretty blue ones that I’m always afraid are defunct since they look abandoned). In an effort to multi-task an enjoyable activity with a practical task, I decided to take all of my kids on a walk to the mail box. It’s a little less than a mile and the mail box is right in front of our local grocery store. We also pass our neighborhood park on the way to and from the mail box.

    So I loaded my boys in their double stroller, but the baby in my bali wrap, and we walked to the store. The bonus for my boys was they each got a donut from the grocery store, as did I, and on our way back home, we stopped at the park. We ate our donuts at the park and then played until it was time for the baby’s nap.


    It was so relaxing to chat with my kids, while they relaxed in the stroller and enjoyed the sunshine. It was great to get a little exercise in without worrying about what the kids were doing. And it was nice for all of us to get a special treat of donuts. The donuts only cost us $2.40 all together (I got 4 for $0.60 each), so I think it was a relatively inexpensive way to create a special occasion for the kids.

    Really though, I love combining a task I must do with a task that is enjoyable. Anytime I can balance to two out, makes the “chore” into something less “chore-like.” Do you have any tricks for making your day more fun, while still getting things done? What type of activities do you and your kids enjoy doing together?

    Recipe of the Week: Quick Veggie Dinner

    Tonight I made one of my favorite dishes. My kids are kind of blah about it, but my husband and I love it. It’s from Damn Delicious, which is one of my favorite and most trusted blogs. Here’s the link to the recipe: http://damndelicious.net/2014/04/09/one-pan-mexican-quinoa/


    I love this recipe for a couple of reasons. 1) It’s meatless, which I’m always looking for recipes that keep our budget, and myself, lean. 2) It’s delicious. 3) It’s quick; only 30 minutes from beginning to end, including prep. 4) It’s a one pan dish, meaning less for my husband to wash. 5) Most of the ingredients are from the pantry. The only exception is a jalapeno, which I omit, lime and garlic, both of which I usually have on hand. 6) Related to five, but a key component in my mind, almost no chopping is involved.

    So, here’s how I tweak this recipe:

    1. I omit the jalapeno because… kids.
    2. I use whatever broth I have on hand. Tonight it was chicken broth.
    3. I use whatever canned tomatoes I have on hand. Tonight it was petite diced.
    4. I omit the fresh herbs, unless I happen to have them on hand.

      A shortcut to make this recipe even easier involves mincing the garlic:

      I’m not sure how you usually mince your garlic, but I used to do mine by hand. I don’t particularly like buying jarred minced garlic, but I understand some people do out of convenience, and I do not turn up my nose at convenience. But I recently discovered grating garlic. It is the best thing ever and as far as my somewhat dull taste buds can tell, works even better than trying to mince garlic by hand. So for this recipe, I did not need to pull out my cutting board! That is always a win in my book.


      What do you look for in quick and easy recipes? One pot recipes? A quick cook time? Crock pot recipes?

      Recipe of the Week: Dark Sweet Tea

      So today’s recipe is a drink recipe and it came about, as most drink recipes do, out of a need for alcohol. Well, my husband’s need for alcohol. We went to this fantastic local distillery and my husband came home with a bottle of Blue Fish Clear, a kind of moonshine. One of the recipes the distillery recommended called for iced tea and simple syrup. Instead of making simple syrup, I decided to make him sweet tea. It struck me as simplifying an otherwise simple recipe. But here’s what I did that was different:

      Ingredients:

      4 quarts of cold, filtered water

      1/2 cup of granulated sugar

      1/2 cup of light brown sugar

      4 bags of black tea (I use decaffeinated)

      Instructions:

      Heat water in a pan over medium heat. Turn off burner before your water starts to boil (there should be bubbles forming at the bottom, but they haven’t risen to the top yet), but keep the pan on the burner. Add the sugars. Stir until all of the sugar has melted. Then add the bags of tea. Let steep for at least 30 minutes, or all day. Serve it over ice. If you’re like my husband and have a taste for an adult beverage, feel free to add a clear alcohol. He’s also added orange juice to great reviews.

       

      Notes:

      *It’s important to turn the burner off before the water begins to bubble vigorously. Tea can burn if the water is too hot. This prevents that bitter taste tea can sometimes have. If you’ve tried tea before and haven’t like it because it’s bitter, you probably had tea that was burnt. Tea should NOT taste bitter.

      *Because this uses brown sugar, feel free to reduce the amount of sugar. I’d actually recommend reducing the brown sugar to 1/3 of a cup, but because this tea is actually being used as a mixer, the higher sugar content is better. If you’re drinking this by itself, play around with the ratio a bit.

      *But the great thing about this tea is that the flavor is a lot deeper than traditional sweet tea. If you leave the tea to steep for a long time, you can taste the tea at the very end.

      LIFT Auction is LIVE! Plus two Giveaways

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      It’s LIVE!! The LIFT 4 Autism Auction is open for bidding!

      charityauction.bid/lift4autism

      Win a $25 Winner’s Choice Gift Card in the LIFT Celebration Giveaway!

      The Lift 4 Autism Auction is a bookworm’s dream! Featuring hard-to-get, much-sought items from romance favorites like Nicola Yoon, Kristen Ashley, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Corinne Michaels, T.M. Frazier, Marie Force and more than 200 others in celebration of Autism Awareness/Acceptance Month.

      Authors Ginger Scott and Kennedy Ryan founded LIFT 4 Autism a few years ago as a charitable initiative rallying the romance community around autism. All proceeds go to this year’s charitable partner Kulture City, who is doing amazing things for the autism community. Learn more at kulturecity.org.

      Specifically, LIFT 2017 will benefit Kulture City’s lifeBOKS program, which provides families with free kits to curtail wandering, a common and potentially life threatening challenge. Proceeds will also benefit Kulture City’s tablet program, which provides iPads to improve communication for non and limited verbal children on the spectrum to families who cannot afford them.

      Learn more about the mission of Kulture City and the dangers of wandering in today’s USA Today HEA feature here.

      Watch the lifeBOKS video: https://www.facebook.com/AutismOnTheMighty/videos/1591316364511099/

      HOW WILL WE RAISE FUNDS?

      1. Online Auction, featuring many of your favorite romance authors!

      Browse all the amazing items up for bid here:

      charityauction.bid/lift4autism (Must register to bid)

      Auction Frequently Asked Questions:

      http://lift4autism.com/auctionfaq

      Find the full Author list here: http://lift4autism.com/contact.

      The auction is LIVE until Friday, April 28, 8:00pm.

       

      1. Make a financial donation through the LIFT Campaign.

      DONATE here: bit.ly/LIFT4AutismGIVE

       

      1. Buy LIFT Wear (T-shirts, totes, mugs, etc…)

      https://teespring.com/Lift2017

      LFIT 2017 t-shirt
      4. Buy the YA Fantasy Anthology Ever In the After for 99¢

      insta 6

      Amazon: http://buff.ly/2kM0D2j

      Nook: http://buff.ly/2kM83SX

      iBooks: http://buff.ly/2kLTS0j

      Kobo: http://buff.ly/2kM2J2f

      *All proceeds go to Kulture City!

       

      Connect with LIFT!

      *Subscribe to the LIFT mailing list at lift4autism.com.

      *Join the LIFT Facebook group: facebook.com/groups/1705524696326889/

      *Follow us on Instagram: instagram.com/lift4autism/

      *Follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/LIFT4Autism

       

       
      NOTE FROM CHRISTINE: I will give away 2 copies of the YA Anthology in support of LIFT here on my blog. Simply watch the lifeBOOKS video and leave me a comment here on the blog with one thing you learned, or one fact the video talked about. I’ll pick two winners randomly on May 05, so you have until May 04 to enter!

      Recipe of the Week: Simple Hamburger Stew

      I have been totally exhausted the last few days so when my husband came home yesterday from work, I really didn’t want to make dinner. Instead of making an awesome veggie chili, I decided to fall back on a meal my dad used to make me growing up. I don’t think it would hurt my dad’s feelings to say he wasn’t the best cook when I was younger. We mostly ate fast food or hamburger helper. This is a simple version of hamburger helper that you can dress up or down, depending on your mood.

      WARNING: This is not a dish to serve guests, or even a dish for those with fancy palates. This is a quick and easy meal that you can fall back on when you’re exhausted and can’t imagine cooking, but you cook anyway because you’re on a budget and you have to eat something.

      Simple Hamburger Stew

      Ingredients

      1 lb ground beef (I used 70% because that’s the cheapest beef I can buy in the store. Use whatever you like to get, including ground turkey.)

      1 can condensed vegetarian vegetable soup

      Ketchup to taste

      Salt and pepper to taste

      A starch: cooked rice, baked potato, a couple of pieces of bread


      Instructions

      Brown the ground beef in a large pan until cooked all the way through. Once it’s cooked, drain the grease, leaving the beef in the pan. Add the condensed soup to the beef and cook on low heat until the soup is warm. Add ketchup, salt and pepper to taste. I generally use about 2 tbsp of ketchup and a tsp of salt. Serve immediately with your starch.


      Changes

      You can make any number of changes to this recipe, depending on how much energy you have, but the point of this recipe is to eat at home and save money even when you are too exhausted to think. It has some veggies from the soup, protein, and your choice of starch depending on what you have in your pantry. It’s not going to win any awards, but I try to keep veggie condensed soup and rice in my pantry at all times so I always have something to make.

      • If I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll saute chopped garlic and onion in the pan before adding the beef.
      • I may also season with garlic salt for more flavor.
      • You could easily replace the condensed soup with diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and a frozen foursome medley of vegetables.
      • I like to eat this with white rice, but it tastes great on a baked potato and is also an easy alternative to sloppy joes.

      What is your go-to recipe when you are too tired to cook? What are some staples you keep in your pantry so you have a meal to make no matter what else you have in your fridge?