Jimmy Fallon, The Roots & The Gang Singing The Sesame Street Theme

Sorry for the lack of posts last week gang, but our whole family got walloped by a cold and it’s been all I can do just to work and keep us moving along. We’re all on the mend now and this video from Jimmy Fallon, The Roots and the Sesame Street gang definitely helped.

Even with the cold and a crazy-busy week this week, I’m still planning on posting the podcast tomorrow and hopefully catching up at least a little bit on Photo Diaries. Wish me luck, I’m gonna need it.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 28

pop poppa nap cast logo Trips to the park, birthday parties, foiled parties, how angry babies are like drunk people and more get covered in the 28th episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast.

et blending in in the closetThe classic E.T. scene I mentioned in the episode.

The article I read from is called 10 Things To Remember When Your Child Gets Angry by Dr. Laura Markham as seen on Aha! Parenting.

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The Pop Poppa Seal Of Approval went to the Music Together program. If it sounds like the kind of program you and your kid would enjoy, give it a look. red tornado

Finally, the Pop Poppa Of The Week is one of the few superhero dads: Red Tornado. I wrote about him over on UnitedMonkee in the context of Brad Meltzer’s Justice League Of America.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

Cooking Alton Brown’s Sweet & Sour Pork

I haven’t tried as many recipes from my copy of Alton Brown’s Good Eats: The Early Years for a few reasons. First, I know the book is based on the chronology of the TV show, but I’m not a big fan of the book’s layout. It makes sense for what it is, but I prefer my cookbooks organized by type of meal or ingredient, that kind of thing. I also get a bit distracted by the overly busy page design. And yet, every time I make something from this volume, it turns out good, so I should probably stop complaining about it.

Sweet And Sour Pork (page 342-3 or this link on FoodNetwork.com, if you want to check it out for yourself) was my most recent recipe attempt and, like most of the others, it turned out really well. As noted in the recipe, the first thing to do is cut up a bunch of pork butt and marinate it overnight, which means this recipe takes a bit more forethought than most. I think I forgot to do this the night before and wound up putting it together earlier the day-of and still had pretty solid results.

When you do get to the actual cooking, Brown suggests using an electric skillet. We happened to have one in our kitchen by way of wedding present, so I used that, but it seems like a pan would work just as well. As per usual, I did a lot of my prep beforehand. My wife had cut up the pineapple earlier in the week, so that wasn’t as big a chore as usual. I then got to work on the onion, celery, carrots and peppers, organizing them together based on when they went into the pan. With that out of the way and a flour dredging spot set up in a pie plate, I was off to the races.

After cooking the pork in the pan, you throw in the onion, celery and carrots. Once those get their cook on, it’s time for the more colorful peppers and pineapple to join the party along with the previously removed pork. At this point in the process I was really struck by how colorful this dish is. You can see it in the pictures, but anything with such bright yellows, greens, reds and oranges has to be good right?

The recipe actually called for an easy-to-make ketchup-based sauce to be added to the meat, vegetables and fruit, but it came out a bit sweet and I figured it would be better as a side sauce. I’m glad I made this move because I put a bit too much sauce on one of my servings and it basically washed out all those great meat and vegetable flavors. Drop some of that mixture on top of some rice — I went with Jasmine — and a drizzle of sauce and you’ve got a plate of food that not only looks amazing but also plays to most of your taste buds.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 27

pop poppa nap cast logo

My apologies for the lack of episode last week and this one’s lateness, but life tends to get in the way of all my internet aspirations. Anyway, the 27th episode of the Pop Poppa Nap Cast runs down our recent vacation to Ipswich, gives an update on our house hunt and gives the Pop Poppa Of The Week to one of my favorite authors!

me and lu at the beach

Lu and I had a pretty good time at the beach, even though it was chilly.tangled

Tangled is a reimagining of the Rapunzel story. It’s pretty cute, but just about everything loses its cuteness after the 300th viewing.sid the science kid

I thought I’d done a post about my dislike of PBS’ Sid the Science Kid, but apparently I hadn’t. Basically, no other kid show bothers me this much. Even though the general message is “science is cool,” something I completely agree with, it just seems incredibly dumb and filled with one-note characters. Bleh. sesame street

Here’s the Geek Mom article about the new season of Sesame Street! Thank Henson for new content.the little endless storybooks

Jill Thompson’s excellent The Little Endless Storybook and Delirium’s Party: A Little Endless Storybook earned the Pop Poppa Seal Of Approval. I also recommend reading the actual Sandman comics either in regular trade form or the exquisite Absolute editions.brad meltzer the book of lies

And, finally, Brad Meltzer easily earned the Pop Poppa Of The Week, not just for writing a series of novels I’ve gotten hours of entertainment out of, but also reminding me how important it is to tell your story to the world. Seriously, check out The Book of Lies, it’s pretty darn great. I wrote a review of it a few years back over on UnitedMonkee, check it out!

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 26

pop poppa nap cast logo

Thanks for your patience once again regarding this holiday-belated episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast. The 26th episode covers the Labor Day Weekend, taking care of house business and my thoughts on gender and how niceness comes into play.

You can read Catherine Newman’s complete article, titled “I Do Not Want My Daughter To Be ‘Nice'” over on The New York Times sitemagic trackpad

Apple’s Magic Trackpad earned the Pop Poppa Seal Of Approval this week. As an added piece of goodness, I used this bad boy to help while recording and editing the episode. The-League-Kevin and ellie

Finally, here’s Kevin MacArthur (Steve Rannazzisi) with his daughter Ellie from The League also known as this episode’s Pop Poppa Of The Week.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

Cooking Heirloom Grilled Cheese Sandwich & Chunky Tomato Bacon Soup

After hitting up a great farm stand and making caprese with heirloom tomatoes, I knew I’d have a few left over and did a little looking around on FoodNetwork.com until I came across Rick Massa’s Heirloom Grilled Cheese Sandwich and Chunky Tomato Bacon Soup which fit the bill pretty perfectly. I did a few things differently than the suggested recipe, though. First and foremost, I didn’t do all that stuff with the butter and whatnot. A while back, my wife turned me on to a grilled cheese method that’s pretty fantastic: put mayonnaise on the sides of the bread that will be exposed to the pan (I used a flat cast iron skillet). I also decided to bake the bacon, as I have in the past. I like this method because you don’t have to watch it like you do on the stovetop.

Before actually making or assembling the sandwiches, but after putting the bacon in the oven, I got to work on the tomato soup. For me, BLTs and grilled cheese always have a connection to tomato soup, but growing up, it was usually the canned stuff from Campbell’s with a little milk thrown in. I thought this soup would be pretty solid thanks to the bacon involved, but it actually wound up being kind of thick and not overly interesting. It wound up being more like sauce than a soup. Part of the problem was that I put the whole tiny can of tomato paste into the mix, which I realized after the fact probably lead to the problem. We wound up not eating much of it, but I did freeze it, to be thawed up and possibly mixed with some chicken stock to thin out a little ways down the line.

Back to the sandwiches, though, they were fantastic. I got the bread prepped with Dijon mustard on the insides as well as the cheese on both sides of the bread, tomato and some of the bacon. After that it was just a matter of throwing them on the cast iron pan one at a time. Once I flipped them, I smushed it down with another cast iron pan (be careful, even though it’s not directly on the heat, this pan will get hot!). Oh, I nearly forgot, I also steamed the green beans that I bought along with the heirloom tomatoes which came out delightfully crisp and clean-tasting. The grilled cheese was just wonderful and, like with the caprese from yesterday, got a nice boost of flavor from the heirloom tomatoes. I’ve got to say, I’m pretty partial to those green ones!

Cooking Heirloom Tomato Caprese

Is it pretentious to talk about buying heirloom tomatoes? I know they have a much richer depth and variety of flavor than your average reds found in the grocery store, but for some reason, every time I think about them, I picture a snooty chef in one of those funny hats or a mustachioed hipster sporting jodhpurs and old timey airplane goggles. Is this some kind of reverse engineered attempt by Big Food to paint local produce in a bad light? Or maybe me just being weird? Probably a little bit of both, but mostly the latter.

Anyway, last week, my wife, daughter and I got some lunch in New Paltz and walked around for a bit. Afterwards, we stopped at one of our favorite farm stands and walked away with a bag of super sweet peaches, crisp green beans and a variety of heirloom tomatoes. I hadn’t figured out the week’s menu at that point, but as you can imagine, I decided to base two separate meals around the colorful fruits masquerading as veggies.

Since I really wanted to showcase the tomatoes, I decided to make caprese and came across a recipe on Food Network’s website that happens to have been submitted by Joe and Jill Biden. Huh. Anyway, this was an incredibly easy preparation with no cooking aside from the pasta which, of course, I got working on first.

With the water on the stove, I got the garlic, lemon juice, shallot and olive oil together. After that, I got to chopping tomatoes. As you can see in the photo I was working with some redish-purple ones, a yellow one and a few green ones. The red ones were pretty sweat, though not overly so while the greens were a bit tangier (one was a little less ripe than I thought and actually had a green pepper quality to it) and the yellows were in the middle. Then the tomatoes went into the olive oil mixture and when the pasta was done, that joined the party along with the mozzarella, some chopped basil (from our herb garden) and some lemon zest. And that’s it! Easy caprese. Yeesh, sorry about that one .

So, was this dish transformatively better thanks to the use of heirloom tomatoes? It would probably be pretentious to say, “Yes, of course!” while twirling my hipster mustache. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t really know how advanced or developed my pallet is, but I do know that there was a lot more going on flavor-wise thanks to their inclusion. Everything I mentioned above came through in the dish which made for a really fresh meal that was perfect on yet another hot end-of-summer night.