Lucy Likes The Music, But Loves The iPhone

As I mentioned before, sometimes my guitar playing calms Lucy down. For a while, it seemed like she just wanted to grab the guitar or the strings, which made me a little nervous because the strings can be thin and maybe hurt her tiny fingers. Also, you never know where their hands have been.

Well, today, I played for her a few times, once actually plugged in as you can see in the above video. She was kind of cranky today and since all the usual boxes were checked off (fed, changed, napped) I plopped her down in the bedroom and plugged my amp in. She really seemed to like the song I played, which is actually the song I’ve been putting together for her for a while and only just recently breaking some actual ground on.

But, as you can see from the video, Lucy wound up being a lot more interested in my phone which I was recording her with. I had haphazardly leaned it against a shirt and while the sound coming out of the amp distracted her for a while, the allure of the iPhone turned out to be far too much for her to handle and you get to see the funny ending to the video. The kid’s got natural comedic timing, I swear.

Wok This Way: Getting Seasoned

My lovely wife got me a wok for Christmas. She knows I’m excited about trying to cook new foods and thought this would be a great way to get into a new arena. She also got me a cookbook that her research told her was the best around. But, as some of you may know, you’ve got to season a wok before you use it, much like a cast iron pan. You’ve also got to boil it a certain way to get rid of a film that’s put on there in the plants.

As you can see from these photos, I tried a few different ways just to set up the wok on my stove. We’ve got gas and some pretty high grates, so I thought it might make sense to remove the grate and get the wok as close to the heat as possible. But, I soon discovered that that didn’t work out because the wok was actually smothering the fire and only gas was pouring out. Whoops. So, I followed the directions (twice actually, just to make sure) and got rid of the film.

Up next I wast tasked with seasoning. This was another long process, but only because I tried the wrong method. The one I tried first involved charring some onion-like vegetables (I went with green onions and the tops of some leeks, because that’s what I had on hand) in peanut oil, but that didn’t get the brown/black coloring I was going for. So, I tried the next method which involved setting the oven, wiping peanut oil all over the wok and then putting it in the oven for a while. This worked great. I’ve even taken it for a test drive that I’ll get to later this week.

On another note, I have to say, it was difficult deciding on the name for this recurring post. A Wok On The Wild Side, Wok-a Wok-a, A Wok To Remember and more all flooded into my head, but I just had to go with Wok This Way. I’m a big Aerosmith fan and a Run-DMC fan, so it just makes sense.

Bonus Food Pic: Gordo’s Chorizo Quesadilla

I’ve bestowed the virtues of Gordo’s in New Hampshire already. Well, on our last visit to The Hampsh we went to Gordo’s and I tried something I’ve never had before, a chorizo quesadilla. It was the first time I’d had anything but a burrito there and the first time I’d ever had chorizo (Mexican sausage). While the meal was great as always, it probably wasn’t the best way to experience chorizo for the first time because the flavor worked itself in with all the cheese and salsa and whatnot. Man, that place is so good it makes me want to franchise them down the street just so I can have a good, cheap, easy Mexican place to hit up.

Bonus Food Pics: Teriyaki Wings From Frank’s

Frank’s
179 Temple Hill Road
New Windsor, NY 12553
(845) 565-4600

A few year’s ago a wonderful wing place called Tim’s Wings And Things opened up in a strip mall not too far from us. Like a lot of strip mall restaurants, it didn’t look like much, but they had some really amazing flavors in there including a chili lime sauce that I still think about to this day. Unfortunately, about a year ago (or maybe two at this point) they shut down. I think there might be another one somewhere, but I almost don’t want to know because I think it’s pretty far away. There’s a Planet Wings around, but it’s still kind of far away and not in the greatest area.

But, not being near wings doesn’t mean you don’t want to eat them. We like wings quite a bit. One day a few weeks back we were jonesing for some wings when I remembered that a pizza place right down the street from us (our addresses are around 100 numbers apart) called Frank’s had wings. Bam. My wife got either mild or medium (I have no idea what the difference is) Buffalo and I got some teriyaki because I love anything in teriyaki. While they don’t have the greatest variety of flavors, I’ve got to say that the ones we’ve tried (we’ve gotten wings from there twice now) were great. There are a few other flavors I’m looking to try which is fun. So, if you’re in the area and don’t want to go to far, hit up Frank’s for wings. They also have some pretty good pizza and a variety of calzones that I’m getting hungry just thinking about.

Cooking Turkey Chili

I love chili, but I haven’t quite landed on a recipe I love so much that I want to make it over and over again. The last one I tried was a Bobby Flay recipe that wound up being a bit too spicy. For Christmas, my mom got me a cookbook called (deep breath) Best Of The Best Recipe Hall Of Fame Fresh From The Farmer’s Market Cookbook. I figured it would be a good place to get a chili recipe from and decided on a pretty simple one for Turkey Chili (page 66).

I made a few deviations from the recipe including not being able to find a can of Rotel tomatoes (though I saw them on my next trip to the grocery store, of course), I also used up the taco seasoning I made that didn’t quite taste right and skipped the mushrooms. Aside from those things though, you basically brown a few pounds of ground turkey and put it in a pot with two diced onions, eight diced tomatoes, an 8-oz can of tomato sauce, two cups of canned kidney beans, a few cloves of minced garlic, splashes of tobasco sauce (green in our case) and Worcestershire sauce, the taco seasoning, one bell pepper, 16 oz of beer (they say “a 16 oz can” but I don’t think that exists) and a few tablespoons of chili powder and cook  for two hours on low and stirring every 20 minutes or so.

It was an alright recipe that tasted pretty good, but didn’t really wow either my wife or I. I think my chili quest is the kind of thing where I don’t really know what I want, but I’ll know it when I make it. Do you guys have any favorite chili recipes I should try out?

Words For My Future Self: Let The Kid Sleep In

I love sleep. Given my druthers, I like to stay up late and sleep in til whenever I wake up. That’s how it used to be before the baby was born and I’m (mostly) okay with the change that’s come since then. The other day I was thinking about how parents of teenagers tend to get upset when their kids sleep in through half the day. I guess I don’t get it. Isn’t that the perfect time to get some extra sleep yourself? You know, make up for some of those early sleepless nights and midnight screaming sessions? It’s kind of like the kid is unknowingly paying you back for days and nights they can’t even remember.

Maybe I’m still too close to my teen years or maybe my uncommon profession lends itself more to the world of teenagers than adults (I can really make my own schedule, being a freelancer, given no other commitments), but that’s the way I see it. So, assuming Lucy is otherwise responsible, doing well in school and (eventually) working some kind of part time job, she has my permission to sleep in when she wants. Assuming the internet still exists in 12 years and I haven’t sneakily come back and deleted this post, I hope this doesn’t really bite me in the butt.

Belated One Year Blog-O-Versary

I am way late in pointing this out, but I figured a shout out was in order considering I hit the one year anniversary for this blog back on January 17th. Why did I start that day? Don’t remember. Just did. You can check out that first post here and compare the above photo with the very first photo in the first post. I can’t tell if I look much different.

A lot has happened in the year that I’ve been doing The Monkee Diaries (which started off over on UnitedMonkee.com). The biggest change has been the arrival of our daughter on May 2nd which has completely changed pretty much everything in my life including, of course, these photo diaries. She’s pretty much taken over the picture portion for a few reasons. One, she’s way more interesting than I am. Two, I’m a dad now, so I’m primed to take pictures of her. Three, roughly 98% of my life revolves around her, so it all just makes sense.

In addition to content, another shift in the posts that came across thanks to our little bundle of joy has been a lot more purples and pinks as backgrounds and font colors. I don’t know if I’ve ever directly stated this anywhere, but I always grab the basic color for the background and the font from the photos. I’ll alter the tone to work better but the foundation is always from the pictures. Thanks to Lu’s clothes and toys, I’m working with a whole different color pallet than I probably would have otherwise. Mainly, though, she just gives me something to write about. Can you imagine what these would be like if I was just freelance writing every day? Man, that would be boring.

Well, I hope you guys enjoy reading them. I like having a visual representation of my life, but more importantly Lucy’s. I’d like to see these put together in a book some day, but don’t really know how to do that. Lemme know if you have any ideas!

Bonus Food Pic: Bacon Cheeseburger From Five Guys

Five Guys have been popping up like crazy for the past few years. My wife was really excited because she LOVES burgers. I was less so because–and I only realized this in the past year or so–while I like burgers, I don’t usually crave them. They’re usually an easy food that I can run out and pick up when I don’t feel like cooking or something that winds up appealing to me once I’m in a place. Occasionally I feel like making my own burgers but even that is usually just an easy dinner to put together or seasonally appropriate (burgers in the summer just feel right, you know?).

Anyway, a few weekends back, we were out running some errands and decided to hit up the nearby Five Guys. We’ve had some problems there before with them getting my wife’s burger wrong, but decided to give it another shot. And you know what? It was great. I might not crave burgers, but I can appreciate a good, sloppy, cheeseburger covered in bacon, ketchup, mayo, lettuce, tomato and the rest. At the end of the meal, I looked like I had stalked and killed a burger instead of simply eaten it, but that’s a sign of a good burger–especially because I’m not a big fan getting messy. Looking at this picture is actually making me crave a burger, maybe I just needed a good visual to think about!

Apparently Babies Read Lips

So, it looks like I’ve been doing something right when it comes to our daughter’s vocal development. According to a recent story that I first heard about through my wife and then read about on The Huffington Post, babies between 6 and 12 months old watch a speaker’s mouth when they’re talking instead of the eyes. The researchers postulate that they do this in order to understand how we make the sounds we make when we talk.

This is what I was going for when I started doing alphabet sounds with Lucy. I was focusing on sounds instead of letters because she needs to be able to talk because she can read or write, but I also made sure that my face was very close to hers so she could see what I was doing with my mouth. Well, the study shows that that is exactly where babies are looking when it comes to language acquisition. It’s pretty cool stuff when you think about it and makes me wish I had my linguistics notebook from college here to see if there are any other things I can be doing to help out.

 

Baking Peanut Butter Banana Bread

I don’t do a lot of baking. For one thing, my wife is a killer baker, so I don’t feel the need, but I’m also not that big on sweets. Never have been. But, we had a trio of rotting bananas sitting in our fruit bowl and I figured I’d give banana bread whirl. I don’t believe I’d ever cooked it before, but I know it’s a pretty basic baking thing, so I said I’d try. My wife suggested using a recipe she had for peanut butter banana bread. I have no idea where this recipe came from, it’s just printed out in her cooking binder, but it was pretty simple and I got to work.

First I greased the loaf pan with Crisco, set the oven to 325, got my 1/2 cup of butter softening and started measuring things. I got a cup of sugar, 3/4 cup of peanut butter, 1 3/4 cup of all purpose and 1 teaspoon of baking soda (combining those last two in one bowl). After smashing up the bananas, I broke out the mixer and mixed the butter and sugar–which is apparently called “creaming”–then added a pair of eggs, beat that, then mixed in the peanut butter, bananas, flour and baking soda until it was all mixed together.

That went into the greased loaf pan which went into the oven for 70 minutes and we had some tasty bread. I was worried that it hadn’t cooked long enough because the center was kind of mushy, but it turns out that I like banana bread with some mushiness in the middle. Overall, this was really simple and I like how baking is more of a science with exact measurements and the like. You don’t have to think as much when making simple things like this, which was perfect at the time.

Pizza Party: Pizza Mia’s

Pizza Mia
176 Windsor Hwy #600
New Windsor, NY 12553-6975
(845) 563-9100

I’m embarrassed to say that I can’t remember which pizza this is from the wonderful Pizza Mia (yet another fantastic pizza place within ten minutes of our place). I think it’s the Margarita Pizza because it had the basil and fresh mozzarella on it, but I snapped this picture a week or two back, so the details are fuzzy. The point is that the missus and I were looking for a fresh, light pizza and this was the perfect pie. Pizza Mia is a place that we usually hit up when we want slices, but this pie with their awesome sauce (it’s kind of sweet and always tastes like it was just made right before you got in), fresh basil and mozzarella was perfect for us. If you’re in the area, do yourself a favor and try them out. Between the pizza, the jalapeno poppers and salad we ordered, this was a great meal. Maybe not as light as we originally thought with the poppers, but still awesome. The great thing about this pie is that it tastes just as good if not better the second day. Awesome stuff.

The Mommas & The Poppas

I made my bed, but that didn’t make sleeping in it any easier. That’s how I felt when Lucy starting saying “momma” before “dada.” I thought it would be nice to teach her how to talk to her mother first, not really thinking ahead to the days when all I would hear for hours on end as I feed and diaper her is “momma momma momma momma.”

Well, I succeeded. “Momma” was her first word. Now, whether she knows what it means or not, we’re not quite sure. Instead of meaning “mother” we think it might mean “adult” or “parent” in her developing brain. She doesn’t seem to say it to anyone but us, but she does babble it at various times. Heck, I was walking through the grocery store with her last week and she screamed “momma” out at the top of her tiny lungs. It’s kind of embarrassing because I don’t want people to think I stole this child who is crying out for her mother while I’m trying to figure out which kind of canned tomatoes to buy for that week’s pasta sauce. It would serve me right for reasons I’ll get into in another post. I have a surprising number of stories from my childhood where I almost got both my parents into somewhat serious trouble by being a wiseacre.

Anyway, Lucy’s had the “momma” thing down for about a month now. I’m glad she’s developing, of course, and know that it does my wife’s heart good to hear it, but I was really glad when, on Friday, I finally got her to say “poppa!” I always assumed I’d be called “dad” or “dada” or something along those lines, but I think it’s fun that she can say the paternal sobriquet that I named this blog after. My wife asked me “You want to be called poppa?” And I was like, “One, I’ll take what I can get, and two, it’s good for the blog.” She still says “momma” more than “poppa” but she slips it in enough to keep me smiling, which is nice because she spends about half the day screaming her head off just to see if she can do it.

A lot of people say their kid learned to say “dada” before “momma,” but when you think about it the M (and P) sounds are actually a lot easier to make. Say all three and pay attention to where your tongue and lips are. When you do M and P sounds, you’re just moving your lips and pushing air out in different ways. But, the D sound involves getting your tongue up behind your front teeth and moving it downwards. That’s a little bit more difficult for someone trying to figure out what the heck this whole talking thing is all about. She’s doing great and I’m proud of her. I hope all those times doing alphabet sounds has helped out.

Cooking Mushroom Soup

I love mushrooms, but my wife isn’t such a big fan. I’ve been slowly introducing them into some of the dishes we eat and I think she’s turning the corner a bit, but I try not to push the subject too much. I had bought a bunch of mushrooms for some recipe that fell through the cracks and was therefore left with a package of baby portabellas and a mixed pack that included more baby portabellas, shitake and another kind I can’t quite remember. I didn’t want to waste them, so I flipped through the Ultimate Soup Bible and came across a Mushroom Soup recipe n page 182. I had all the ingredients and some time one day, so I made it for myself for lunch and it turned out pretty great.

Basically, you put some butter and oil in your soup pot and cook one chopped onion and four chopped potatoes in oil and butter and let them sweat for 5-10 minutes until browned. Then you toss in 12 ounces of chopped mushrooms along with one or two garlic cloves and either apple cider or white wine (I went with a mixture of white wine vinegar and water that gave it a tangy taste). After that cooked for 15 minutes, I ladled the soup into our larger food processor and wound up with some smooth mushroom soup. The recipe called for the addition of sour cream, which I tried later and was quite good, but at first I added half and half because that’s what I had in the house.

The half and half didn’t quite add the right flavor that the sour cream did, so I would recommend sticking to that part of the recipe. I wound up eating this soup throughout the day because I was so taken with the flavors. It is VERY mushr0omy, so I didn’t bother trying to have my wife try it, but a pretty simple recipe wound up giving me lunch for the next few days. I was happy with the results.

Bonus Food Pic: Avocado’s Carnitas Burrito

Avocado Mexican Restaurant
2576 Route 9W,
Cornwall NY 12518
(845) 534-3350

If you like Mexican food and live in the Orange County area, do yourself a favor and head over to Avocado. My wife and I have been fans of the place since it opened a year or two back and recently went there to celebrate a special occasion. As usual, we were not disappointed with the results and both walked away full and happy.

I’ll be honest, I tend to have a bad memory when it comes to exactly what combination of tortilla, meat, cheese and rice I’m ordering at any given Mexican restaurant is, but I love a good burrito and thankfully, they have awesome ones. This time, I tried the Carnitas version which is described on the menu as “Michoacan style pork carnitas, refired beans, rice, pico de gallo, cheese and chipotle sauce.” I wasn’t really sure what any of that meant ahead of time, but what I wound up with was a burrito packed with porky goodness and covered with a sweet sauce that I wish I had in my refrigerator at all times. I had eaten kind of a late lunch that day, so I took some of the burrito home and ate the leftovers the next day for lunch and it was just as good. So, there you have it. Eat burritos at Avocado and you’ll be happy.

Baby’s First, Second & Third Chirstmases

I know Christmas was a few weeks back by now, but I figured even late pictures of a cute kid opening presents wouldn’t bother too many people (if you find yourself bothered, please leave). For those of you still around, I hope you had a Merry Christmas, New Years and any other holidays you might celebrate. We had a pretty good time with not one, but three different Christmases this year.Our first Christmas involved just my wife, daughter and I getting up Christmas morning and opening presents at our place. My wife came up with the idea and I was completely into it because that’s how my parents and I usually did it when I was younger. Sometimes family members would join us, but we always had Christmas morning at our house. Anyway, we put Lucy down in front of the tree which, among other presents, included a giant stuffed giraffe that she immediately went for, grabbing it and practically pulling it all the way out from under the the tree. While she played with some of her new toys, Em and I also exchanged gifts and we had a wonderful time. We took things pretty easy that morning since we didn’t have to be anywhere until that evening, so we had some really awesome French toast for breakfast that she made.By 1PM we were on the road to Massachusetts for a party with Em’s family at her uncle, aunt and cousin’s house. It was a really nice party and fun to see everyone. Nearly everyone had met Lucy when we stayed near the ocean over the summer, but she’s changed so much that it was a good chance for them to see how she’s grown. That night we went up to Em’s parents’ house in New Hampshire and, after Lu went down for the night, we opened our presents. The next morning it was all about Lu who really started to get the hang of opening presents, though she was still very careful and delicate with the process.After spending a few more days at Em’s parents house we came home and had a couple days to ourselves before my folks came and we celebrated our third Christmas on New Year’s Eve. Again, Lu had a great time and the grandparents always enjoy seeing her. Having a kid really does change your perspective on the holidays. I’ve moved away from the GIMME obsession that most kids have when it comes to Christmas and really do enjoy giving gifts (and I had some pretty great ones to give that I was really excited about), but it all takes on a new meaning and feeling watching those tiny hands ripping the paper and flashing that huge smile. Of course, that old thing about babies appreciating the paper and boxes more than the presents is pretty dead on. We actually had to take the tissue paper away from her because the green dye actually turned her hands and mouth colors. At least she looked festive!

Cooking Rigatoni With Beef & Green Olives

A few months back I started getting a mysterious subscription to Good Housekeeping. I asked my mom if she knew anything about it and she said no, so the best I can guess is that my information got crossed when I meant to re-subscribe to Wired through my wife’s cousin’s magazine drive for school. My wife said I should call and get it fixed, but I don’t really care. I would have spent the money to help the kid out anyway and now I can flip through GH to see if there’s any interesting recipes, which has already paid off. A recent issue had a series of quick meals you can make from things found in your pantry and Rigatoni With Beef & Green Olives stood out to me because I am a fan of all those things and had most of them in my pantry (how did they know?!).

So, the gist of the recipe is to chop up a jar of olives, a small jar of roasted red peppers, an onion and three cloves of garlic and use that at various stages to make a tasty beef pasta. As always, I got the chopping out of the way first and also got my pot of water on the stove to boil. From there it was game time. The meat went into a skillet with olive oil and cooked until brown. Then I removed that and threw in first the onions, then the garlic and finally the olives and peppers along with some dried parsley and oregano (I didn’t have fresh and didn’t feel like buying a whole bunch just for this one supposedly simple recipe). Once that cooked for a few minutes and the pasta was done and drained with some pasta water reserved and added to the combination, dinner was ready to be served. I picked up a loaf of bread and we had a petty tasty dinner. I like quick and easy recipes like this that you don’t have to think too much about but that are also pretty diverse. I think I might try some different herb and spice combinations to make it even tastier. You could also even use different ground meats and see how things go.

Bonus Food Pic: Baked Meat Ravioli From Gloria/Napoli’s

Napoli’s Restaurant & Gloria’s Grill
306 Windsor Highway
New Windsor, NY 12553-6908
(845) 565-1711

My wife and I go to Napoli’s/Gloria’s on a pretty regular basis. It’s right around the corner from us and the food is always great, plus the owners tend to be around and have always been really nice to us, as is everyone else who works there. This actually used to be two separate restaurants right down the street from one another, but a year or two back they combined which is great because you can get pretty much whatever you want, from a full menu of classic Italian dishes to your basic, tasty diner food. They’ve also got a pretty killer breakfast. Anyway, a few weeks back, the fam headed over to the restaurant for dinner and I decided to try the baked meat ravioli, something I’d never had before. Boy, was it good. I don’t remember a whole lot about the meal, but I know it was a cold day and this warm, hearty meal that made me feel very good with all it’s cheesy, meaty goodness.

Breastfeeding In Public And On Comic Covers

So, some comic book artist I’ve never heard of complained about Brian K. Vaughan’s upcoming comic Saga because the cover has a woman breastfeeding her baby on it. He didn’t really make a solid point as to why he found this offensive, but he did say that the cover means he can’t read the book along with his 7 year old. At one point, I thought he was saying that the image was somehow using breastfeeding as a way to draw controversy, then I thought he’s just a close-minded fool who can’t distinguish between a basic human function and sexy time. I admit, I didn’t read his entire post and only read the segment that was copied over on Robot 6 yesterday, so I might not have the full story, but it’s a good jumping off point for a post.

First off, I’ve interviewed Brian K. Vaughan about this comic and I’m not entirely sure it’s supposed to be all-ages anyway, so the very building block of one possible argument is faulty at best. It’s a sci-fi/fantasy story about a new family trying to survive in a world that’s less than safe. If you click through that link, you’ll see preview pages from the first issue showing a baby very soon after birth in all its goopy glory. So, no, this probably isn’t an all ages comic (though it could easily be argued that children should not be kept in the dark about the reproductive process). Besides, I don’t think he’s the kind of creator who would use an image like this to shock people. I haven’t read the issue, but I’m guessing it’s a very vivid representation of the world the comic is taking place in. Not only is she breastfeeding, but she’s doing so while walking next to her husband who’s got a weapon of some kind on his hip. This is a dangerous world–one that probably doesn’t have formula anyway as one of the Robot 6 comments noted–and these basic needs need to be taken care of on the fly.

More importantly and more indicative of the off-balance society we live in, breast feeding should be the least offensive thing in the world. It’s food, plain and simple. And, it’s food specifically made for your baby, that’s how it works. If the mom is sick or the baby has picked up germs, there’s a kind of physiological communication between mother and child that provides the appropriate antibodies so the child doesn’t get sick. It’s pretty amazing stuff. So, what’s the big deal? Well, it’s no secret that breasts have been sexualized beyond belief, but that doesn’t mean their true, basic purpose should be something so widely misunderstood and sometimes feared. Also, real quick, the argument that there are other basic bodily functions that don’t need to be seen in public is ludicrous. If it makes you uncomfortable that’s you’re problem, not the mother feeding her child.

I’ll admit, I was uncomfortable with the whole breastfeeding in public thing when our daughter was first born. It’s in my nature to be generally reserved, but several amazing talks with my wife on the subject really opened my eyes. It’s food. Why should a breast fed baby be neglected their nutrition out in public because it makes people uncomfortable. It helps that my wife is like a ninja with this stuff. She’s got a whole system of shirts and latches that I don’t fully understand, but she makes it work and doesn’t make a big deal of the process. But even that’s because that’s what she’s comfortable with. I think each woman should figure out what she’s comfortable with and go with that. I do think the purpose of the process should be kept in mind though, you’re supposed to be feeding your kid, not making a statement.

Cooking Sausage & Egg Casserole

After my exploits with pierogies I was left with a pound of bacon and no real plans for it. On a trip to the grocery store after that I procured some sausage. I think I was going to do breakfast for dinner or something along those lines just simply making eggs with a side of bacon and sausage. However, after making Alton Brown’s Shepherd’s Pie I had an idea to make an egg casserole. I had eggs, sausage, cheese and vegetables so I actually combined two recipes, Alton’s and Robert Irvine’s Egg Casserole Recipe and wound up with something pretty tasty. My idea was to do a pretty simple egg casserole by cooking onions, carrots, peas and corn and then adding the de-cased sausage before tossing that into a baking dish, adding Irvine’s egg mixture and covering with cheese and bacon.

The first step involved cooking the bacon. I had heard about baking it in the oven instead of in a skillet or pan, so I found this recipe on About.com’s food section and went with that. I think it would have worked awesomely except I hadn’t completely defrosted the bacon and had to run hot water over it just to get the pieces separated. It was kind of a mess and cooked unevenly, but I’m guessing that’s all on me.

Anyway, after that, I got to cooking the onions and garlic then the carrots in olive oil. The Shepherd’s Pie recipe called to add frozen corn and peas after putting the mixture in the dish, but I tossed them in now so the flavors could mingle a little better. After that, I got the sausages out of their casings, mashed them up and cooked them with the vegetables. Once that was all done, I put the whole mixture in a baking dish.

For the eggs, I didn’t completely follow Irvine’s recipe because I didn’t have everything in the house. I just mixed five eggs in a bowl and added some milk, then added that to the baking dish. I had shredded some cheddar cheese and chopped up the good pieces of bacon and topped the meat, vegetable and eggs with that. The dish then went into the oven and cooked for 30 minutes or so.

I was pretty proud of whipping this together and having it come out pretty tasty. You can’t really go wrong with eggs, bacon, sausage and cheese in my opinion, especially all in one simple package, but actually combining two recipes and figuring everything out without explicit directions was nice, made me feel like I actually know what I’m doing in the kitchen.

Restaurant Review: Gordo’s Burritos & Tacos

Gordo’s Burritos & Tacos
64 Freetown Road
Raymond, NH 03077
(603) 244-3410

I don’t do a lot of Restaurant Reviews from outside of New York because, well, we don’t go a lot of places. But, we do travel to New Hampshire to see my wife’s parents quite a bit and they always know great restaurants to check out. Gordo’s in nearby Raymond, NH is a favorite of theirs–they go there once a week–and has quickly become a regular stop when we visit as well. I love huge burritos. It’s a love that goes back to college when I first discovered Chipotle and then to my Congers NY-based Wizard days when we frequented the Palisades Mall and I frequently got Qdoba for lunch. Unfortunately, neither of those chains are up where we live now, so I don’t get a lot of big burritos (which is probably for the best now that I think about it).

Anyway, that’s all a roundabout way to say that I like getting burritos and Gordo’s has excellent ones. Unfortunately, I didn’t snap a picture because I figured it might be rude (we all met one of Em’s friends there for the holidays), but the last two times I’ve been there I had their Philly Cheesesteak burrito and IT IS AWESOME! The beef is great, the cheese is nice and creamy and the onions and peppers weren’t too hot and cafe just the right amount of goodness to complete the flavors. I know it’s not your traditional burrito filling, but it’s so tasty I have trouble getting anything else. My wife usually gets the nachos and those are great too.

The restaurant itself has a nice feel to it with lots of bright colors and hot sauce bottles around. They even have a stuffed monkey they hide throughout the place for kids to find. When they do, they get a treat of some kind (can’t remember what it is because I’m too old, even though I almost always find him;). The service is also great. Since my wife’s parents go there so often, they on a first name basis with the woman who works behind the counter who’s super nice. I think we’ve even met the owner a few times, though I don’t know for sure.

So, if you happen to be in New Hampshire (I have no idea where Raymond is, but you probably do if you’re from NH) do yourself a favor and check out Gordo’s. The food is spot on, the people are great and the margaritas are tasty too!