Thursday, April 12, 2018

Thirsty Thursday: Infused Strawberry Vodka & a Cocktail!

Hey there folks!  I decided to share this tasty concoction in honor of the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival, going on this weekend in Ponchatoula, Louisiana.  If you're anywhere nearby, I highly recommend attending.  It's family friendly, lots of fun, and you get to eat a LOT of strawberry foods.  And pick up a few flats of fresh Louisiana strawberries, of course.

NOTE: I did not come up with this stroke of brilliance. I got it from a "moms who drink" group I follow on Facebook. Because that is TOTALLY OKAY. No judgement here.  

So one of the moms noted that her kids go through a ton of strawberries over the summer, so she started keeping a jar of vodka in her fridge, and would just throw the strawberry tops into the jar and let them infuse over time.  A light went off in my head--"we eat strawberries--like almost a pint a week! I can totally do that!"  
So I did.  I used 360 Vodka (made in Missouri), and just threw in my strawberry tops as I cut them off each day.  When the jar got too full, I would use tongs to fish the strawberry tops out, squeeze them out as much as possible, and then continue to put more strawberry tops in.  Probably did that for about a month before we tried it.
Y'all...this doesn't even need a mixer.  But because I'm a lightweight, I added some Fresca.  And it was DELIGHTFUL.
(Editor's note: These pics are not great.  I was in a rush, so I apologize.  But still.  DO IT.  You will thank me.)

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Adventures in Parenting: When Your Child Isn't Perfect.

So, I mean, we all, as the humble parents we are, KNOW that our kids aren't perfect.  The lack of sleep we're accustomed to, their tantrums when you tell them they can't watch Bubble Guppies because dinner is ready and they just finished watching an hour of Elmo, the nose picking, the sass-mouth.  Come on.  We ALL already fully comprehend that our kids aren't perfect.  They are (for the most part) normal, but definitely not perfect.

BUT...when someone else points out an imperfection...reality comes swooping in with big bold letters.
Last month, our son's daycare hosted development screenings by Parents As Teachers.  We filled out a questionnaire, and they came in to do...whatever it is they do to determine how language and fine motor skills are coming along.  And for the most part, our kiddo did great.  

For the most part.

After the screening, The Hubs got a call.  Letting us know that Lil' Man's communication skills are behind all his peers.  And they think it's because he has a lot of wax buildup in his ears, and/or because he seems to have constant ear infections (most of which we've likely never even known about because he's completely asymptomatic when they show up--during at least 3 well-baby visits, we were informed that our kiddo had an ear infection).  Just recently, he got sent home with a fever and after he stayed fussy for another day, we decided to take him to the doctor, thinking it was an ear infection.  It was Strep...AND an ear infection.  If it hadn't been for the Strep, we wouldn't have even known he had an ear infection.

So, because of said wax and ear infections, the PAT folks surmised that this whole time while he's been learning language, he hasn't been hearing it properly, and thus many of his words are mushy and sound more like babble--even though he's actually trying to use real words.  Most of the time, The Hubs and I can eke out the essence of whatever he's trying to say---and some words/sentences are very clear, like "*insert name of his BFF* bonk his head chasin' da vacuum". (Something he was very excited to tell us when I picked him up from school earlier this week.)
To be honest--we had already noticed this.  We asked his pediatrician at his 2 year appointment if we should be concerned about his speech, since it seemed like some of his classmates already spoke pretty clearly.  She said that because of his age, there wasn't much they could definitively tell, but since he knew over 100 words that it probably wasn't a problem. And that if we still had concerns when he was closer to 3, she'd schedule something for us.

And then, 6 months down the road, it gets pointed out to us again, this time by another professional.  

And that stings.  

It stings partially because you feel like you've finally gotten past most of the stupid mom-guilt floating around out there, and can feed your kid non-organic food without any twinge of regret...and then something REAL comes along, and it's hard not to internalize it.

"Is this somehow MY FAULT?"  

Is it because we still let him sleep with a paci?  No, surely not--he's not talking in his sleep, that's not the problem...could we have taken him to the doctor more, any time he even touched his ear?  Should we have been more diligent about cleaning the wax out of his ears?  Are we talking too fast and he can't learn how to pronounce things properly because WE'RE mushing up words? And why can't he pedal a trike yet? (Entirely separate issue, but still...)

And no matter how many times people say, "hey, you're catching it early--the majority of kids who have speech issues as a toddler are completely fixed by the time they go to school..."

Fixed.  Which means he's broken right now? (Or "BOH-enn", as Lil' Man would say.)
Does this kid look broken?

And then there's envy.  Envy of the parents of the kids who talk clearly.  What did they do differently?  Or the friends who have tots who were speaking clearly and using compound sentences before they were 18 months old.  I know every kid is different, and that boys develop slower--I've heard it all.  It doesn't make it sting LESS.  

So...we talked with the pediatrician again, who's making us an appointment with an audiologist, and then an ENT doc if the first appointment seems to indicate a problem.  And we're trying to enunciate when we speak.  We're repeating words back when he mushes them to try and enforce the proper speech.  We're doing all the things.  And maybe someday, our kid will be slightly less imperfect.
Maybe he can't hear, but his fine motor skills are on point.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Crunchy French Toast: A Recipe Review

So, here's the thing: I don't really like french toast. I mean like, typical, traditional, made with sandwich bread french toast.  Because I'm a texture gal, and french toast is just...mush. You can put real maple syrup on it, powdered sugar, fresh bananas or strawberries...whatevs. It's still soft on soft on soft.  And I just don't dig it. add an element of crunch or crustiness, and I'm all in. I've talked about the UH-MAZE-ING Bananas Foster French Toast I had at Surrey's in New Orleans, and I've had dreams about this stuff called rabanada from Brazil that's essentially deep fried french toast with a creamy custard inside and crunchy churro-like outside.  Or a good french toast casserole or bread pudding where the corners that stick up have had a chance to get crusty while the interior is soft and delicious?  Count me in.
Surrey's banana's foster french toast. (Click on photo for recipe)

Well...we have a big loaf of Italian bread in our fridge, so I was thinking, hey, maybe it's time I finally try to make pain perdu ("lost bread", or traditional french toast)... But then I was thinking...what if pain perdu is just an even bigger chunk of soft on soft?  I're supposed to soak it overnight...what if it's just a big blob of squish?  (Also, the recipe called for like, 6 eggs, and what if I WASTE six eggs on squishy toast?)
Pain Perdu, from Time Life's "Creole & Acadian Cookbook", 1971. 

And I couldn't pull the trigger.

So...instead, I did a search for "crunchy french toast"...and the first recipe that popped up was from The Pioneer Woman.  And while I've never met Ree Drummond, I have a lot of faith in her.  Mostly because she's never let me down.  She seems to share my appreciation for relatively easy recipes that taste darn good.

So I showed the pictures to the Hubs, who said, "yeah, I'd eat that", and decided to go for it.

Now--the original recipe calls for regular sandwich bread, but I still wanted to make fancy french toast with my fancy bread.  So that's the only change to the original recipe--I used about 1-inch thick slices of the Italian bread.  I still made 4 big pieces of toast--and probably could have made a little more, I had plenty of egg mixture but would have had to mix up more of the crust. Plus, if you serve with some fruit on the side, one piece is PLENTY for the average appetite.

Since it's not my recipe, I'm not sharing here, but I've littered this post with links back to the original recipe so you can snag it.  The secret to the crunch?  Panko breading (mixed with sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter). SOOOOOooooo good.

I made this on a Sunday morning before church.  Takes about 5-10 minutes of prep, and then, depending on how big your pan is and how many servings you're trying to make, about 10-20 minutes to cook (I could only fit 2 slices at a time in my pan).  I think if I'd used my 14-inch skillet, I could have fit 3 pieces at a time, but I didn't want to risk splattering butter everywhere in the frying process.

And everyone in the house loved it. I cut it up into sticks for the toddler, who devoured them (even without syrup--I just put a little powdered sugar on his).  I will DEFINITELY be making this again.

And maybe someday I'll woman-up and try out pain perdu. I'm sure it's amazing. ...Maybe.
In case anyone is braver than I, here is the recipe for pain perdu from the 1971 Time Life Creole & Acadian Cookbook. This recipe also calls for a pound of lard and "orange flower water"...both of which I don't exactly stock in my pantry.