Saturday, August 28, 2010

Why we love Chik Fil A for kids, and one thing we don't love so much.

We are still eating out and we end up at Chik Fil A a lot, because it is yummy and really very good for kids. Here's what we love about our Chik Fil A. Note that all of the stores are independently owned & operated so your mileage may vary. Ours is the one on Sunset Hills Road in Reston, across from the Target. Anyway, here we are:

  • Ambiance is pretty cool. There are flowers on the tables!

  • Kids meals are lovely. You can replace fries with fruit, and the fruit is actual fresh fruit and not canned/syrup stuff. Both kids love the fruit and my bigger one rarely asks for the fries. 

  • The toy that comes in the kids meal is usually not particularly annoying. If you ask for the under 3 toy, it's actually a book. Recently we've gotten some educational stuff. Not too bad.

  • They have lemonade as an option to drink, and it's real lemonade (I found pits in it last time we were there). It's a nice change of pace from the usual choice of soda or juice.

  • If you happen to have a baby who is going to be eat off of the table, they give you a plastic table topper to use.

  • If you walk in with a baby in one arm and a kiddo holding onto your other hand, they will take your food to your table and get a high chair for you, and make sure you're all set up. And, they'll come back and make sure you're ok and ask if you need a drink refill. That's pretty awesome. 
  • They have kid's events all the time. Like, on Monday mornings, you can bring the kids for breakfast and they have entertainment, crafts, story time, etc. And they have Family Night on Tuesdays. 

  • They have a nifty kid's play area.

So all in all, for the kids and me, it's a great place. Here's what we don't like:

  • They cook in peanut oil. 

Which means my husband cannot join us. I'm sure the flavor of everything would change if they changed the oil, but I don't think that it would change all that much, and it would open the place to far more people. It's pretty much my only complaint.  

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

CSA this week!

I traded weeks with Amy this week, so we got our share two weeks in a row. And boy was it an awesome one!

Onions  (about 6 of them)
Pole Beans
Cherry Tomatoes
Salsa Kit!!!
Thai Basil
Raspberries (YAY!)

There were a bunch of eggplants that had been left in the "take or leave" bin, so I got a couple of extra (they were small) in hopes that I can make a whole bunch of eggplant stuff for the freezer. I have offers of kitchen use from a few friends, and with all of the tomatoes and eggplant, I see both eggplant parmagiana and caponata in our near future. Also, if I can find the food processor, that Salsa Kit will be Salsa in no time.

I also think we will have to make some swiss chard empanadas. If I can prep them at a friend's kitchen, they will cook nicely in the toaster oven until I have a real oven again.

So yeah, really excited about this week's share.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Kitchen Update

The kitchen project turned into a monster that we totally were not expecting, for a few reasons:

  • underestimating how much help we would have from friends
  • underestimating the extent of changes that would have to happen to kitchen infrastructure and of course
  • having to add sub-projects after the start because of things that affected other things.

For instance, taking off the backsplash turned into a drywall/skim coating nightmare because we couldn't get the glue off the walls. Taking out the pantry left a big hole in the floor tiles that required a tile patch job. Deciding to switch from a range to a wall oven and cooktop, and adding a built-in microwave, required pulling another 2 circuits which meant cutting a giant hole in the wall.  And then there was the planned removal of the soffit that turned into extending it out and adding lights because it had too much stuff in it.

But things are finally coming to a point where we can hopefully call some parts of the kitchen Actually Done. Here's where things stand:

  • ceiling is done. This entailed scraping off the texture, sanding, priming, skim coating, sanding, priming, and painting. DONE. Gorgeous. Needs to be a little touched up.
  • skim coating on the walls is done. 
  • painting is mostly done. Touch ups will be done after cabinet installation, since we expect to have to touch up after the installation anyway.
  • patching the floor is done.
  • Lights are installed and beautiful
  • Wall cabinets on Wall 1 are done. 
  • Base cabinets for Wall 1 are assembled but need backs, cover panels, door hinges, and feet. 

OK, so still to be done:

  • touch up paint
  • Construct & Install Wall cabinets on Wall 2 (sink wall) 
  • Construct & Install Base cabinets on Wall 2
  • Construct & Install Wall cabinets on Wall 3 (oven wall)
  • Construct & Install Base cabinets on Wall 3
  • Construct & Install Pantry cabinet 
  • Over fridge cabinet, which is a PROJECT because Ikea did not have the right size cabinet. But I now have a PLAN and hope hope hope I really don't screw it up. If it comes out great I am totally going to post it to Ikea Fans.
  • Install molding over and under cabinets
  • Install covers under cabinets
  • Install all doors, drawers, and handles
  • Install interior fittings (lazy susans, etc)
  • Install appliances (bring back electrician)
  • Pick out granite slabs
  • Get Granite people out here to measure and come back/install granite
  • Plumbing hookups/stovetop install after granite is in
  • And then we have a freakin' party because it will be done!

So we're getting there, but there's still a lot to do. Meanwhile, we have a little table that will hold a rice cooker or crock pot, so I can do a little cooking. Someone freecycled a toaster oven to me so I can do a little bit of baking in small batches. I just can't do anything that requires a stove at the moment! Argh!

But really, I never expected I could do as much of this myself as I did! I'm really proud of both me and my husband. We have the best contractor ever for things like pulling electrical and doing plumbing but we really did almost all of the cosmetic work ourselves. And Adam is now a drywalling pro. And he likes my overall plan for upgrading the whole house, and was even looking at bath vanities this weekend! HAHA awesome!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

CSA Goodness!

CSA pickup today and nearly everything can be eaten raw! Yay!

- Tomatoes. It said "take as many as you can eat in a week." Micah decided that was 10.
- Cherry Tomatoes. Because you can never have too many tomatoes
- Peppers. About 6 of them
- Carrots. Lots
- Beets, without the greens this time. Lots (will have to find a way to cook them)
- Lettuce
- cucumbers
- Okra (need to find a way to cook them too)
- sage
- basil. A LOT of Basil. To go with the tomatoes of course
- Eggs

I'm pretty sure I'm going to make some tomato salads. If I can figure out how to get the skins off, I will probably puree and freeze some of the tomatoes, too, since we still have some from last week too.

Plus, there's salad. Yummy yummy salad.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I don't like...

There are very few foods that we consider to be "food" in the United States, that I will not eat. I don't necessarily love every food there is to eat, but generally speaking, if you put it in front of me, I will eat it.  I prefer not to try a few things that I can't wrap my mind around (like tripe or various other types of organ meat) but I've had things that other people I know think is yucky, like squid, octopus, sea urchin, sushi in general, etc, and as I said, for the most part if you put it in front of me I won't turn most foods down. I will turn down peanuts if I'm pregnant or nursing.

And I'll turn down watermelon.

I don't like watermelon.  I know this makes me some kind of a freak, because EVERYONE likes watermelon. But I don't. And I'll point out that my mother in law doesn't either, which is something we can kind of bond over. I don't like the flavor. I don't like the texture. I don't like having to eat around seeds. I simply DISLIKE it. And somehow, people get weirdly annoyed at me when I don't want it.

I try it every so often. If they're putting out testers at the farmer's market, and it doesn't have seeds, I'll test out a piece to see if my opinion has changed. So far, it hasn't.

There was a short time during my last pregnancy when I liked watermelon. I think it is because I had it in a salad and it seemed to work as an ingredient better than it does on its own. But I was also pregnant, and you know, I also thought that pineapple and blue cheese tasted good together.

I know it's weird, but I also think that as someone who will eat just about anything, I am entitled to my little watermelon hatred quirk. And the thing is, I'll eat it if it's a matter of being polite, and I'll not enjoy it, and it will ruin an otherwise awesome dinner for me. Just so I can be polite!

There are certain circumstances under which I will eat watermelon and not absolutely abhor it. It has to be completely fresh and not over-ripe or under-ripe. It has to be crispy and not a drop mealy. It has to be nearly seedless or have only edible seeds. It has to be not refrigerated.  I almost never come across a piece of watermelon this way.

Yesterday when we picked up our farm share, it included a watermelon. I kept it out of the fridge and cut into it for the kids after dinner. Alas. Seeds. I had a tiny piece that had no seeds, decided it was still not my thing, and gave the rest to the kids. My children ate half of a (small) watermelon on their own, all the while the 4-year-old asking me when I was going to have some. *sigh*.

So that's it. The food I don't like. Considering how many people I know who won't eat fruit or vegetables, I think I can live with the quirk.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

We have been Tomatoed! Plus, the Kitchen is Nearly Ready For Cabinets!

Today when we arrived for our CSA pickup, there were 5 bins of heirloom tomatoes and a scale saying that mini-shareholders should take 2 lbs, Regular shareholders should take 3 lbs, and Robust shareholders should take 4 lbs. Three pounds of tomatoes should keep us going until the next pickup we have in 2 weeks (we are sharing our farm share with a friend this year)

We also have basil and parsley, many many onions, cucumbers, peppers, chives, eggs, cabbage, carrots, and a watermelon. All of which means I need to borrow someone's kitchen to make bruschetta, cucumber salad, and cole slaw. And more hard boiled eggs. My friend Amy was kind enough last week to allow me to boil a bunch of eggs at her house last week, so that all of these wonderful eggs do not go to waste. Here's hoping I can also make some egg salad while I'm at it.

In other Kitchen News, I am now fully baffled at why anyone would ever do a popcorn/textured ceiling. I've been told that it's easier than making the ceiling look nice and smooth. Well, I can tell you that I am an amateur and my ceiling is now Gorgeous. And it was my first one. When I get to the dining and living rooms, it will go much more smoothly, because now I know what I'm doing. Three weeks ago I didn't know what I'm doing. Now I do.

That's one of the reasons I love that we are doing the kitchen ourselves, even if it's a pain in the ass. I learned how to take down a stippled ceiling and make it look gorgeous. I learned how to make a wall made from 7 pieces of drywall look like a wall made from one. Soon I'll learn how to install recessed lights.

I just wish I could cook. But SOON. SOON we will be able to cook.