Monthly Archives: February 2010

Sausage and Corn Chowder

This is one of my favorite soups right now and perfect for a cold, rainy day like today.

I picked some of the vegetables used in this recipe up at the farmer’s market this morning. When I left my house it seemed like the storm was finally subsiding with little peeks of blue skies and sunshine. Boy was I wrong. It started sprinkling when I arrived with Sprout and was in a full on downpour complete with lightning flashes and peals of thunder.

I didn’t have my front-pack all weather cover so Sprout was getting soaked. One of the vendors let me borrow an umbrella so I bought some pita bread from him. At one booth whenever the thunder boomed, the lady selling apples to me would put her hand on her chest and freak out. We don’t get much weather in Southern California so I guess some people are really thrown off by it.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this hearty soup (preferrably in a cozy home with a sweater and some fluffy slippers on or maybe the fireplace going).

Ingredients
-1 package sweet Italian sausage
-1 bag frozen corn (I used the roasted kind they have at TJs because that’s what we had in our freezer, but regular corn is just as good)
-2 red potatoes, chopped
-2 medium carrots, chopped
-1 red bell pepper, chopped
-1 onion, chopped
-2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
-1 box chicken broth
-1 bay leaf
-1 cup milk
-1 tbsp olive oil
-2 tbsp corn starch
-salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Cut sausage links into bite-sized pieces. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat and add sausage to brown. Remove sausage from pan and place in soup pot.

Add onion, garlic, carrots, and potatoes to pan that sausage was just cooked in. Cook vegetables until tender. Add to soup pot.

Add bell pepper, corn, chicken broth, bay leaf, to soup pot. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until vegetables are tender. Remove 1/2 cup broth and mix with corn starch until smooth. Return to pot and cook until thickened. Stir in milk. Remove from heat.

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Happy Friday Everyone

Sprout (and Mommy) slept for seven hours straight last night. It was glorious and I feel amazing. So this is a very happy Friday indeed.

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Bean – month seventeen

Bean is seventeen months old today.

New words (mostly for my own documentation): I know, doll, hot, night night, Ee nn (Ethan), beans, TV, fish, all done, Mommy (Yeah, I’m not sure when she started calling me Mommy versus Mama or where she learned it, but she does it sometimes), mine, nose, eat, socks, belly, ball, bottle, juice, she recognizes and can say the letter b, she also recognizes the insect bee (which obviously sounds the same).

 And then some pictures from this past month:

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Helping Mommy in the kitchen or how to get your kid to eat Brussels Sprouts

I’ve read time and time again that the best way to get your kids interested in food is to have them help you in the kitchen. Stephen and I have constantly worried about kitchen safety and mostly keep Bean out of there. I just don’t want her to get hurt because she got into something or accidentally got underfoot.

However, I’ll admit it can be a bit hectic and frustrating when I am cooking each night to have Bean going into a meltdown because she’s bored and left out of what’s going on in the kitchen.

So tonight I decided that I could come up with a way for her to help and still keep her safe. I created a little work station for her and had her place cut up items on a cookie sheet. It was so much fun and she was so cute to watch getting excited over food and helping me.


Ack! The coloration is so off on this photo, but it’s my only proof. I forgot to reset my white balance when I first started shooting and I was already done with the Brussels Sprouts by the time I realized it. She was totally munching on the raw Brussels Sprouts!


So this was our little system… I’d cut stuff up and hand it to her…


Then she would take it over… (usually snacking along the way)


…and place them on the cookie sheet.


Assessing her work and feeling very accomplished.


“Hi Mama. You don’t mind…


…if I snack a little while I help, do you?”

The taste of victory…


Brussels Sprouts!

OK, as you can see from the photos she mainly played with the finished product, but she did eat a couple leaves off one. 🙂

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A hike.

I meant to post these last week, but forgot and got busy and whatnot. And there will be a fourth post for the day to follow this one. I’m sure it is a bit overwhelming to some of you, but I’m not sure when I’ll have this kind of time to post again and I don’t want a buildup of posts to be waiting in my brain.

So anyway, last week I took the kids on a short hike on the trails right by where we live.

We love our stroller! (Thank you Dad, Andrea and Auntie Linda)

It was green and some wildflowers were just starting to bloom. I can’t wait to see what it looks like out there in a couple weeks when things really start to go wild.

And I caught the sunset before heading home.

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He makes my kids look really good.

I am seriously spoiled when it comes to photographers by my friend John.

The day I went out to take some photos for Sprout’s one-month-aversary, John met me out there and snapped a few too. While my photos turned out pretty good, John got there when the lighting was INSANELY awesome and grabbed these:

In short, if you are in need of a photographer, contact John. The end.

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The Little Mommy That Could

Forgive me for a second while I draw out far more introspection and reflection from a children’s book than was probably intended by the author…

We recently received a vintage copy of The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper from a collection of things that Stephen’s mom has been saving for when he had kids of his own.

I love everything about it from the well worn corners, to the “This Book Belongs to: Stepen W” (yes the ‘h’ is really missing) in my husband’s childish handwriting, to the slightly faded, obviously not digitally retouched prints on the pages.

Yesterday when I was reading it to Bean for, oh, about the 30th time that day it seems, I started to reflect on the story as it relates to my own life.

We start off with a happy little engine pulling toys and good food for good boys and girls in a city over the mountain. Unfortunately, the engine breaks down before it reaches the destination.

So the toys try to get other engines passing by to pull their load over the mountain. The first two engines that come along are much too important to be pulling along silly loads like theirs.


But the Shiny New Engine snorted: “I pull you? I am a Passenger Engine. I have just carried a fine big train over the mountain, with more cars than you ever dreamed of. My train had sleeping cars, with comfortable berths; a dining-car where waiters bring whatever hungry people want to eat; and parlor cars in which people sit in soft arm-chairs and look out of big plate-glass windows. I pull the likes of you? Indeed not!” And off he steamed to the roundhouse, where engines live when they are not busy.


But the Big Strong Engine bellowed: “I am a Freight Engine, I have just pulled a big train loaded with big machines over the mountain. These machines print books and newspapers for grown-ups to read. I am a very important engine indeed. I won’t pull the likes of you!” And the Freight Engine puffed off indignantly to the roundhouse.

I feel I must repent. How often I have felt the same as these two engines in regards to my current circumstances and job. “I have a degree. It is all going to waste. I should be doing more important things with my time, mind and energy,” I have said to myself all too often. Important things like freelance writing or furthering my education. Just doing something with my life.

Yesterday when I was filling out doctor’s office paperwork I noticed I felt a little weird, as I always do, about the line asking for “occupation.” What is my occupation? It doesn’t have a fancy title like my husband’s “technical director”. I sheepishly wrote, “at home” on the line next to the question.

I know I am not alone in thinking this way. In fact, I think in some ways I was indoctrinated to this way of thinking. One can blame feminism, Western culture in general, the “need” for two incomes in every household, and probably a lot of other sources. Being at home with children is just not looked upon as being as valuable or successful as say a woman who became a high powered attorney or physician that is researching a cure for cancer.

It wasn’t always this way and in much of the world it isn’t at all this way, mothers and motherhood are valued, sometimes even worshipped. With our increased incomes and ability to buy care for our children, we have decided that this occupation isn’t as worthy as other worldly pursuits. I think this thought is supported by the fact that those we have charged with the care of our children in our place (teachers, nannies and day care workers) are payed some of the most abismal wages.

I was reading some essays the other day on this website and this excerpt sums up the importance of being at home:

A child can learn right from wrong by watching her mother’s actions. Daily life can be difficult, whether the activity is shopping for groceries, interacting with neighbors, dealing with rude salespeople, or responding to a driver who will not stop for pedestrians. There are innumerable situations in which a mother can use her intelligence and other talents to go about the daily task of living. The primary point is that stay-at-home mothering is not a passive occupation. A mother does not sit down all day and play with the children. Every woman has a unique life, and she is busy with myriad things associated with maintaining one’s home and family. In the meantime, mother-child interactions provide dynamic learning experiences. A mother who attempts to make appropriate responses to the challenges in her environment is teaching her child how to think and solve problems.

I am not wasting my life. What I do is important and you other moms out there, what you do is important too, even if it means you’ve had to put your life goals on hold for a few years or change them completely.

Anyway, back to our story. The third engine to come along is old and tired.


But the Rusty Old Engine sighed: “I am so tired. I must rest my weary wheels. I cannot pull even so little a train as yours over the mountain. I can not. I can not. I can not.”


And then finally, a little engine comes along that is used in the train yard for switching out trains. She is not very big, but she agrees to try to take the load over the mountain anyway.


Puff, puff, chug, chug, went the Little Blue Engine. “I think I can–I think I can–I think I can–I think I can–I think I can–I think I can–I think I can–I think I can–I think I can.” Up, up, up. Faster and faster and faster and faster the little engine climbed, until at last they reached the top of the mountain.


“Hurray, hurray,” cried the funny little clown and all the dolls and toys. “The good little boys and girls in the city will be happy because you helped us, kind, Little Blue Engine.”

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