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You're About to be Redirected to the New Home of Ground Control to Major Mom: 7/31/11 - 8/7/11

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Dave's Chicken and Shrimp Fried Rice

Dave enjoys cooking.  It's an occasional indulgence for him -- he has a suite of yummy recipes that he likes to call his own.

Sadly, he doesn't cook as much as he says he'd like to, since on on most weekdays he's coming in from work while I've been working on dinner for some time.

Since today is Saturday, tonight he took the time to make the family the fried rice recipe he enjoys making while I'm on reserve duty.  It's really easy, and you'll find it isn't really a recipe, per se.  It's more of a set of ingredients tossed together in a wok or large skillet.  It's a great way to use leftovers!

The first thing Dave does is chop, chop, and chop some more.  Onions, carrots, and cooked chicken.  We had a couple Huli Huli chicken thighs leftover from earlier this week and these were chopped up.  I also cooked a couple more chicken breasts in the microwave, see below for more on that!

This is our version of a "Slap Chop"-type of food chopper.  It made chopping the 1/2 large onion, 1 c. of carrots and 3 cooked chicken breasts very very easy.



Cooked chicken breast.  I learned a new trick to make preparing cooked chicken for recipes super-dooper easy...see the next caption.

Do you have one of these?  It's Pampered Chef's "Deep Covered Baker".  I know it's expensive, but all you have to do is host a Pampered Chef party and get it for free, like I did several years ago!  3 chicken breasts, 14 minutes in the microwave in this baker -- who woulda thunk it?
Along with the chopped vegetables and chicken, also beat 2-3 eggs together, peel some raw shrimp and have 3 cups of cooked rice ready to go.  Heat up a wok or large skillet on "high".  Add oil of your choice, we use sesame oil.

I love my Zojirushi rice cooker!  A gift from my parents about 8 years ago.  Hinode medium grain Calrose rice is our family's rice of choice, we eat about 10 lb. every 6 weeks.

Fresh shrimp, caught off Jacksonville on Friday night, ready to cook on Saturday night, did I mention how much we love Florida???
Start by scrambling the eggs.  Remove the eggs to a dish when they're finished.  They'll be added in at the end:

Next you'll add the onions, carrots, rice, chicken and some soy sauce to the wok, stir frying it, adding oil as needed to keep it from sticking to the pan.  With luck you'll develop a nice crisp to the rice, which is oh-so-good!

At the end we tossed the shrimp, and then put a lid on the wok for about 5 minutes to let the shrimp cook.  It doesn't take much heat, or a very long time at all.

Serve it with a glass of milk for a complete dinner.

Yikes, we almost ate it all up before I remembered to take a picture of the finished product!  Hence the small pile on the greasy plate with the fork in the background!

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tadpole/Pond Update

I'd been writing about the tadpoles and our pond every couple weeks, so here's the latest:

The pond has been doing very very well.  The water is nice and clear, we've had very little issue for the past couple weeks, although the "hair algae" is starting to grow again, which means a manual scrubbing of the stone surfaces.  I have to do this every 6-8 weeks as it big deal, except it's really hot outside!

The goldfish are continuing to flourish and grow well.  I guess that addage is true: goldfish will grow into their surroundings.

As for the tadpoles, when the kids and I returned from New York, the three tadpoles each looked distinctively different from each other.  One had his front and hind legs, one had long back legs, and the third one still looked like a tadpole.

Here's the one with the front and hind legs, he was stuck to the side of the Critter Carrier when I first saw him after getting back.  You can see the one with only the hind legs just below him.

Unfortunately, that well-developed one had passed away the following morning. now we're down to two.

The one that only had hind legs on Sunday now has his front legs, and the most-tadpolish looking one has hind legs coming in.

I'm now at an impasse about what to feed these guys -- allegedly they transition from eating green matter to wanting more bugs and stuff.  I might pick up some crickets at the store tomorrow.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Road Trip II 2011: Eufaula, Alabama...Pretty Antebellum Town

Pardon the glare, I had the window down on the driver's side, but not the passenger's side of the car.
On this last trip, I changed things up and bit and took US Route 231/431 up the eastern border of Alabama.  This took us through Dothan, AL and Columbus, GA.  In the past we've gone through Montgomery, AL to head towards I-85.

About halfway through this north-south route was a town called Eufaula, Alabama, which sits on a gorgeous lake that straddles the Alabama/Georgia border.  The Wikipedia link will describe the town's antebellum and post-Reconstruction wealth, and this was evident in how gorgeous this town is.  Luckily, the town was (barely) spared during the American Civil War.  This visitor's guide has more information about the town's history, and how the surrender at Appomatox might have spared the beautiful homes!

Not only are there the beautiful buildings and impeccable landscaping, but the lake that winds through the town makes it a popular vacation spot for southern sportsmen.  I saw so many boats and RVs traveling up and down US 231/431, likely headed for Lake Eufaula (also known as Walter F. George Lake, named after a Georgia Senator, so it's mainly those on the Georgia side who give it the latter name).

Eufaula hosts a traditional Southern pilgrimage every spring, I'd be interested in heading up there and touring some of the historic homes.

When driving north last Wednesday through the town, I was delighted at how beautiful it was.  I made a plan to drive r-e-a-l s-l-o-w down N. Eufaula Street on the return trip on Sunday with my arm out the window with the camera.  That's precisely what I did.  Enjoy these pictures I took...the traffic was very light and I was able to go about 15 mph down N. Eufaula Street.

The streets are lined with live oaks and beautiful local flowers.

I want to live here :-)

Shorter Mansion is a museum.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Road Trip II 2011: Technology Can Make Those Long Drives Interesting!

I have a geeky obsession.

"Say it ain't so Major Mom!"

We have a 2006 Toyota Prius, which we absolutely LOVE!  Sometimes Dave and I wish we had a Mustang instead for the coolness factor, but the practical side of us really appreciates having this car!  All the techno-gadgetry is a Geek Dream come true!

Last week I drove from the Florida panhandle up to Long Island to pick up the kids from their grandparents' house, where they had spent the 2nd half of July.  This meant two days of driving all. by. myself.  I actually welcomed this, it was a beautiful drive -- particularly among the pecan farms of eastern Alabama, and I had minimal traffic and weather problems.  I was well rested, and made sure to eat healthy foods on the road so I didn't have food comas or tummy troubles on the drive.

I try to keep my brain engaged on my drives, and with the Prius I had not one but two mental exercises that kept those dull kudzu-covered stretches of I-85 tolerable.

Activity #1: Guess What Time I'll Arrive

Garmin GPSes feature a definitive arrival time.  Ten points to anyone who can guess where this is!!!!  Oh wait, the name of the city is written right there on the screen...never mind!
I have a Garmin StreetPilot c340 GPS, circa 2006, I guess.  It's older, but it still works.  We updated the maps in 2008 but haven't done it since.  Unlike our Honda Pilot's built-in GPS system which tells us how many hours/minutes until our arrival (independent of what time it is), our Garmin presents in the lower left corner the calculated arrival time.  This is great because I can pass along this information to friends and family when I'm getting near my destination.

That anticipated arrival time isn't very accurate when you pull out of your driveway at 7am with an 11-hour drive ahead.  Last Wednesday I decided to try to arrive at my sister's in North Carolina as close to the arrival time shown as of 6:15am Central Time.  The arrival time shown when I pulled out of my driveway: 6:08pm Eastern Time.

Equipped with two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, sodas, water, fruit and nuts, I only had to stop for gas and bathroom breaks, and didn't even feel the need to buy any food on the road.  I only needed to put gas in the car every 300-350 miles, so I attempted to stop every 150 miles or so just to keep the blood circulating.  Every other stop was a gas stop.

When I stopped -- whether for gas, a restroom break or even at a traffic light in some of the small towns I drove through -- I'd see that arrival time tick upwards and I'd get frustrated.  When I'd cruise on the interstates at 5-7mph over the speed limit, I'd happily see the minutes peel off the arrival time...about 5-6 minutes per hour.

I arrived at my sister's house at 6:13pm Eastern Time, 5 minutes later than the GPS predicted I would.

Once the kids were in the car with me for the return trip, there was no way I could play such a game.  But on Day 1 it was fun and kept my brain engaged!

Activity #2: Maximize the Mileage

This is why it's wonderful to own a Toyota Prius!

Having a Prius means having that nifty screen in the center of the dashboard that can continuously update your mileage.  It's admittedly quite a distraction when you first get the car, but now I've learned to tune it out and pay attention to the road.  On this trip, however, I was greeted with incredible mileages and it made me return my attention to the console.  And it became somewhat of a challenge for me -- how high can I get this mileage???

I wrote about this a little bit last week.  This picture was taken at a rest stop on the New Jersey turnpike on Day 2 of the trip. The previous day only averaged about 45-48mpg, so I was particularly surprised at this.  I'd NEVER seen the mileage this good in all the 5 1/2 years we'd owned this car.  With a Prius, the braking action returns energy to the battery.  On I-95, the New Jersey Turnpike and in New York, there was plenty of braking as the traffic was very tight, but moving quickly.  This means more battery use, less gas use.

It turned out my route between Washington, D.C. and my destination on Long Island provided the ideal conditions for maximizing the Prius's mileage: not too fast, not that much terrain, and plenty of soft braking action, which is more fuel efficient than hard braking/stopping, such as at traffic lights.

There were off and on rain showers, which isn't as great on the mileage because the windshield wipers and headlights were on...those accessories compete with the engine for battery energy.

However, the temperatures weren't that high for most of the route, and this meant little-to-no air conditioning.  Also good for the mileage!

If you are a hybrid vehicle owner and would like to learn more about how to maximize the mileage, check out this list of tips.

Now we're all home again safely, with no more travel for a few weeks.  There's another trip coming up, but it's just a quick weekend jaunt up to Atlanta for some sightseeing with the kids...

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