Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It's Oscar week, and the best thing about movies is...

Popcorn!!! Ok, this is a bait and switch...another post about food;)

I LOVE getting popcorn at the movies. I don't do it often - I know how many calories it has, but it is SO good. I've always assumed it can't be duplicated at home. Microwave popcorn doesn't come close in taste. Well, after doing a little research, I have learned how to make it at home! It takes specific ingredients - ones that you may not be able to find at your grocery store (I don't even know if my grocery store carries them…we have Amazon prime so I just ordered everything there).

First, is the oil used to pop the kernals. Movie theaters use coconut oil. I know - not the healthiest (but you never really thought movie theater popcorn was healthy did you?). I tried the coconut oil (the "popping oil" below, with yellow food coloring added) and thought it DID make the popcorn a little crisper, more like the theater. But, unless it is a special occasion, I think olive oil or any other kind of oil tastes fine.

Second, is the salt. This is key, in my opinion. Theaters use very finely ground salt that is powdery. You can apparently run your regular salt through a blender, or you can just buy "popcorn salt." This really improves the taste of homemade popcorn.

Third, is the butter. If you put regular butter on top of your popcorn, it will make it soggy and wet. This is because regular butter has a lot of water in it. Theaters use clarified butter, which is the butter without the water. You can make your own by melting butter and skimming the pure butter off the top when it separates, or you can buy it. It is called "ghee" and is used in Indian cooking.

Fourth, (and this is not necessary but I think VERY helpful) is to get a Whirley Pop. I just got one a few weeks ago and I'm in love. Before, we would make popcorn in a heavy bottom pan. This can be done, but it can be tricky to keep the pan moving fast while letting the steam vent. A Whirley Pop is an aluminum pan (so it heats up very quickly) with a crank that you turn to keep the popcorn moving so it doesn't burn. I love it - you can make popcorn start to finish in about 3-4 minutes (the same as microwave popcorn!) and it tastes SO much better! It's crispier, I've never had it burn, and you can also use less oil in a Whirley Pop.

Here are 2 recipes - the first is for "real" movie theater popcorn. The second is a modified version that is healthier and still tastes pretty darn good, to me!

The Real Stuff
3 T coconut oil (only 1 or 2 in Whirley Pop)
1/2 cup popcorn kernals
3 T clarified butter, or ghee, melted
1 t powdered salt

Healthier Version
1.5 T olive, peanut, or canola oil (in Whirley Pop - may need more if using a regular pan)
1/2 cup popcorn kernals
1.5 t clarified butter, or ghee, melted
1 t powdered salt

Melt oil over low in a heavy bottom pot or stovetop popper. Add kernals and cover, leaving slightly ajar, and increase heat to medium. Shake pan until kernals stop popping, about 3 minutes. Transfer popcorn to a large bowl and drizzle butter and sprinkle salt on top. Toss to coat evenly and serve immediately.

Makes 10 cups

The Whirley Pop also makes a fun toy for 18 month olds:)

Friday, February 18, 2011

19 months

Will is 19 months old today!

My sweet Will,

  • You LOVE reading books. You CONSTANTLY bring us books to read to you and loudly say "Book! Book! Book!" until we read it. And you sit still and seem interested in them!
  • You weigh 25.5 pounds (42nd percentile) and you are 2 feet, 9 inches tall (77th percentile).
  • You like to hold our phones up to your ear and pretend to talk on them!
  • You've just started "putting up a fight" when it is naptime/bedtime. When you can tell we are about to pick you up, you go running off as fast as you can, making us chase you down. You still go to sleep pretty quickly and easily though.
  • You don't get upset anymore when we drop you off at the church nursery, or at small group or at Bible study. You seem to like playing with other kids!
  • You make a million funny faces each day - you constantly keep your dad and I laughing at you:) We love you so very much!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentines day! (Our weekend part 2)

After church on Sunday we left to go out of town for a quick overnight trip! We went to Lake Geneva in Wisconsin - it's about an hour and a half north of Chicago. The lake was frozen and you could actually drive on the lake! There were all these shanty's out there where people were fishing - just like this scene in Grumpy Old Men!

I got this picture of a fisherman as we drove by - notice the blue manual drill! I think it is about time my dad and all his fishing buddies try this out!

We spent a lot of good time with Will. He had a great time just playing on the bed…

Matt took Monday off work and we drove back in the afternoon. When we got home, I had these waiting for me from my Valentine!!

Tulips are my favorite! And Matt made a fantastic dinner - steaks with a demi glace sauce, lemony garlicky zucchini that he made up (I'll post his recipe below), and twice-baked potatoes. It was the best I've ever had - I am SO blessed to have a husband that is such a good cook!

And for dessert I made a coconut cake! It was in the same gluten-free baking cookbook that I've been using. I've never made a coconut cake but it was SO good! Matt and I agreed it was the best gluten free cake that we've had.

It was a great weekend and a great Valentine's Day!

By the way, you may remember awhile back I mentioned the Sullivan's blog - this guy's wife died a few days after their first child was born. I've been following his blog ever since. Well, be sure to check out his blog today for an update!

Lemony Garlicky Zucchini

1-2 T olive oil
2 or 3 zucchini, cut into quarter inch half circles
1/2 onion, cut into end to end strips that are then cut in half lengthwise
5 cloves garlic, minced
juice from 1/2 a lemon

I needed bacon for my potatoes, so I cooked a couple slices and left
the grease in my enameled cast iron skillet (nonstick pans won't work
as well to brown the zucchini, so use stainless or enamel if you can).
Turn up the heat on the grease (or olive oil if you prefer) and add the
vegetables when it is quite hot - you want a good sizzle when they hit
the pan.  Ideally, they would be spread to where the vegetables are
not stacked on top of one another (if they are, they will release
water quicker than the pan can cook it off, resulting in boiled
zucchini instead of sautéed zucchini).  After stirring initially, stir
only periodically every minute or two to allow browning to occur.
After the zucchini and onion look cooked and browned in spots, add the garlic
and stir to incorporate.  Let it cook for a minute or two and turn off
the heat.  Add the lemon and season with salt and pepper to taste (if
you're using plain cast iron, do not add lemon directly to the pan -
it will react to the iron and give off "off" flavors).

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Our weekend part 1

We had a great weekend and I have so many pictures that I'll probably break this into 2 posts. Saturday, we did one of our typical winter Saturday activities and went to the library. I think we got a little over-zealous because we came home with all of these:

And this wasn't including the ones we got for Will! The top 4 are for me (I've taken suggestions several of you gave me!) and the rest were ones that Matt picked up.

We found Tinkyada gluten-free lasagna noodles at the grocery store (we'd never seen them before) and so Saturday night we decided to make lasagna! This was especially fun for Matt because he got to use his new meat grinder! He was so excited about it:)

The lasagna turned out great - even Will thought so…

I know, what kind of mom lets her kid eat like this while she goes to get the camera?!

But he sure was happy:)

more pics to come...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pretty cool photographers

I came across two youtube videos this week that I thought were worth sharing. The first one is a story that I found fascinating - and she just happened to be from my neck of the woods - the north shore of Chicago.

And the second one I thought was SO creative…wow!

I also came across this photographer a few months ago and forgot to share it - although VERY odd, I dare you to find more creative kids photography!

Friday, February 11, 2011

First "real" haircut

All of the Darts got haircuts this week. Will's hair has been getting pretty long for the last couple of months. I thought he would cry and not sit still if I took him in to get it cut. So, I bought barber's scissors and watched a few youtube videos on how to cut boy's hair. I felt pretty confident about it and waited until Will was in his highchair in front of the tv and eating to try it. He went crazy. He shook his head and swatted his hands at me and made it impossible. Still, I tried to "sneak" cuts every chance I got, giving him a REALLY bad cut with weird cuts all over. Poor kid.

Matt went in to get his hair cut this week and mentioned all this to his hairdresser, who told him that she was confident she could do it. So on Wednesday, when I went in for my haircut, I told him to take Will to his hairdresser…

She was able to do it! I was amazed! Of course, it required 2 suckers at the same time, but hey, you have to do what you have to do! Here's a video Matt took…

My two guys with new haircuts!

He was not about to let that lollipop go!

Showing off his new 'do!

I also got a haircut. I said I wanted 2 or 3 inches off the bottom and I think she got a little carried away. It feels so short, and it's layered again! Oh well, whatever :)

And last but not least, the other female Darts also got cuts. Aren't they cute?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Budro's day out

We took Will to Kohl Children's Museum. He had the BEST time! He couldn't look at everything fast enough - Matt and I had a hard time keeping up with him! We were SO worn out by the time we left!

They had a "grocery store" and Will strolled his buggy around and picked out all his food!

A bit of a hoarder with the milk…I guess he wanted to make sure he wouldn't run out:)

He LOVED the water area! He got really wet but he had a great time!

He also had fun in the music area! He got to play all kinds of instruments!

In camo!
Hiding out in a tree!

I think he had a pretty fun day!
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