Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Brazilian Rice and Beans...

Yes, this is a recipe post, but it's also a post to give a shout out to my wonderful husband. He called me yesterday afternoon and told me to not worry about dinner for the rest of the week; he wanted to take care of it. What a relief! I love my cooking responsibility, but I also love a break. He was so cute last night taking inventory of our food and then making a menu. It has been so refreshing to experience new flavors on our plate the last few nights. Tonight's dinner was fabulous even though it may seem a little bland and basic. Trust me and try it out for yourself if you are looking for a tasty, inexpensive meal. I will post more yummy recipes as they follow this week! :)

Brazilian Rice and Beans
1 cup dried Pinto beans
1 cup uncooked rice
1 medium onion [or two small], chopped and divided
1 large clove garlic, chopped
Hillshire sausage
1 small red chile pepper, seeded and chopped [optional]
olive oil
1 bay leaf [optional]
1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
cumin powder, a pinch
salt and freshly ground black pepper

I start by soaking the dried beans in water. To speed up the process, I boil some water and place the beans in a bowl and cover them with the hot water. I leave them there for 15-20 minutes. In the meantime, I boil some water in the pressure cooker. When the water is boiling, I drain the beans and place them in the pressure cooker, close it and cook the beans for 35-40 minutes, depending on the amount—yesterday I cooked about 1 cup of beans. They have to be soft but not too much, or they’ll be destroyed on the next step.

In the meantime, start making the rice: wash the grains in advance and leave them in a sieve for a while, so all the excess of water goes away. The drier they get, the better: The grains will be more separated from each other after they’re cooked.

While the beans cook, I prepare the part that’s gonna boost the flavor: chopped onions, chopped garlic and chopped bacon. I didn’t have any bacon yesterday, so I used a sort of sausage we have here, called calabresa. This is a pre-cooked type of sausage, made of pork. You can use a little red chile pepper too, but my husband is afraid of heat.

Cook half the chopped onion, garlic and bacon [and chile pepper, if you’re using it] in a little olive oil. The delicious smell will take over your kitchen, that’s for sure!

Add the cooked beans and some of the water that turned into broth to the onion mixture. Season it with salt, cracked black pepper, bay leaf [I don’t use it, but it’s very popular here to season beans]. I add 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste to make it a little redder, but you can even use ketchup. A pinch of cumin powder goes well too.

Cover the pan and cook over low heat, stirring every now and then. Let it simmer, because then you’ll have a very thick and dense broth.

While the beans mixture simmers, cook the rice. Start a kettle of water to boil. Heat a little olive oil over medium-high heat and cook the remaining chopped onion until it starts getting golden. Add the rice and cook for 1-2 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent the grains from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Season it with salt—any other seasoning would cause the rice to turn another color, and we like our rice very white here.

Add boiling water until it covers the rice by 1/4-inch or so. Leave it to cook down. When the water starts to disappear into the rice, cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Check it from time to time to make sure the bottom doesn’t burn. When I started making rice—I was 11—I tasted some grains from the top to check if they were already cooked. You can do that if you wish.

When you notice all the water is gone—you’ll notice there’s no longer the “noise” of water boiling on the bottom of the pan—the rice is done [about 15 minutes]. I know it sounds a little subjective, but after you’ve made it once you’ll get the hang of it.

Check the beans: After 15 minutes or so [about when the rice is ready], the broth will be creamy and the flavors will be more evident.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sky Walker: "I want one of those!"

My brother and sister-in-law had their 4th baby girl on Wednesday. They named her Sky Walker. She is a beautiful baby just like the rest of their children. She was big weighing 9 lb 6 oz. We had the privilege of visiting them Friday. It was fun to hold a newborn again and remember that precious feeling of new life. However, it made me in no hurry to have another, and Pete felt the same way. On the other hand, after Sam had a minute to see his cousin Sky he said "I want on of those!". Sorry, Sam, until that time rolls around for us again you will just have to enjoy your beautiful new cousin Sky.

Friday, February 22, 2008


Ok, I pretty much hate spiders. Yes, I do mean hate. I detest them, too. I am an aracniphobe!! I had a horrible thing happen to me today. I was folding laundry. I shook a baby blanket hard to smooth it out to fold. I felt something small and a little hard drop on my foot. I looked down to see a BIG, blackish brown spider with spiky legs crawling away!! It definitely looked poisonous. I panic! I threw the blanket on it and started stomping. After mustering up the courage to move the blanket to determine the spider's fate I discover he looks dead. I got a big piece of toilet paper to pick him up and flush him. Of course he wasn't dead and moved as soon as the paper touched him. I panic again, throw the blanket back on top and smash enough that there was no chance of survival. Success. I flushed him, but do you think I wanted to finish folding the laundry in the basket? Do you think I want to wear any of those clothes again? Does it feel like I have spiders crawling all over me today? YES!!

candy always helps

today Sam was crying about some insignificant, unimportant event. I had given him my best attempt at comfort and understanding to no avail, so I continued about my activities. A few minutes passed, he stopped crying, and he said this to me "mommy, a little candy will help me feel better." How do they figure that out so soon! How can you resist that?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Will's big day

Will showing off his new teeth

Will just being cute

Will sitting up on his own

Gosh, as much as I'm ashamed to admit it perhaps Will just wasn't getting enough food. Since he has been eating so much more he has really come to life. He seems bigger, happier, and just way more alive. He has even started sitting up almost totally on his own. My very favorite thing is his first new word "bababa". He says it over and over and just laughs and smiles the whole time. He even loves repeating it. He also had his bottom 2 teeth break through yesterday, and you wouldn't even know because his behavior hasn't even changed. He is seriously one of the cutest, sweetest babies of all time!! I love how different Will and Sam already are. I love them both so much!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Pete's new do

Pete has teased me relentlessly about having a blog and my obsession with it. However, he caught the fever with his funny poll (thanks to all of you for humoring him with your hilarious vote! :) ) and became much more interested. To hold his interest we have another post and poll about him.
He goes through many phases with his hair. He has been growing it for quite some time, but he decided to have me cut it off on Saturday. Give us your vote... long or short?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Will's weigh in

Will still isn't growing much, so the Dr. has requested monthly weigh-ins just to monitor his weight. He was not too pleased this time. Will only weighs 13 lbs. One might think 13 lbs. is ok, and it would be for a 3 month old but Will is over 7 months now. He is a little concerned about the weight; Dr. Durham feels like he should be growing more than this even though he was born early. Will's head is growing consistently though, and that is the most important thing. However, we do need to try to get some more weight on this kid. We now have to power pack his food. That essentially means that he is only allowed to nurse and eat cereal mixed with a high calorie formula and a 1/4 tsp. of olive oil twice a day. It's probably just a mental thing, but he already seems bigger to us. We know he is fine, just a little small. I love having a little baby; I just want to be sure he is healthy. I'm so grateful this is all we have to worry about. It could be so much worse...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Is Pete funny?

Pete has seemed to think throughout our whole marriage that he is really funny. Well, maybe at times, but I believe he thinks he's much funnier than he actually is. After an experience last night we decided to post a poll and let everyone else decide how funny he is. I was saying our prayers last night in a voice that he found to be a little less than enthusiastic. In the middle of my prayer he said "a little more enthusiasm please". I did what any normal person would do and stopped praying and it turned it over to him. He was laughing so hard that he was unable to take over the prayer for a few minutes. He is still laughing about it today and sending me hilariously harassing emails all day about showing more enthusiasm. He thinks he's so funny. Help us decide by taking our poll.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

what took so long to figure this out?!

Sam is about 95% potty trained. He has had very few accidents, and we have even been able to successfully take him out in public. Because he is so good at using the potty, I have been very concerned about his teeth rotting out because he would get a candy every time after using the potty. One day he wanted me to take the lid off the toilet so he could see how it worked. Watching the internal workings of the toilet has proved to be far more rewarding to Sam than a piece of candy. Every time he uses the toilet now he comes to get me to take the lid off so he can see what happens when he flushes. Thankfully he is no longer rotting his teeth, and he is just adding more working knowledge to that great brain of his. No one can convince me that he didn't come to this earth with a natural talent and interest in how the world is built and how it all works!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

a sad dose of reality

I had a depressing reality check today about motherhood. A client reminded me today that children feel differently about their parents than parents feel about their children. All this time I have been subconsciously assuming that my children will always want me around and that they would walk to the ends of the earth for me just as I would do for them. Think about it, do you feel the same about your parents that you feel about your children? I don't, and I don't currently know anyone that does. How is it possible to love someone so much? I'm just having a hard time wrapping my mind around how differently children care for us. My client also told me this quote: "A mother can take care of 10 children, but it takes 10 children to take care of 1 mother." If this is the case then I'm in trouble, I've only got 2 kids!!

Such a random thought I know...this blog is starting to turn into my journal...
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