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Mac and Cheese Faceoff

May 29, 2016

Moose made mac and cheese for Acorn while I was napping, so I figured this would be a good time to try the mac and cheese Wit recommended. The grocery store closest to our new place has a pretty extensive selection of dairy free and gluten free products, which is exciting. I’ve been trying all the frozen stuff for quick lunches with the kiddos, but this is the first time I’ve had an opportunity to do some actual cooking. So without further ado…

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese

VERSES

Daiya Cheezy Mac

(As of this writing, the Daiya website appears to be non-functional, so here’s a link to Amazon in the meantime.)

image

On the left, Daiya Cheezy Mac, Deluxe Cheddar Flavor (with added bacon).  On the right, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Original Flavor (with added ground beef).

This is a somewhat unfair face off to begin with, since the Kraft is a powdered cheese sauce, while Daiya is a liquid cheese pouch.  There is a noticeable difference in the texture of the cheese sauce.  It would probably be a fairer comparison to use a more expensive macaroni and cheese products, such as Velveeta, but Kraft is what I tend to keep in stock for Moose and Acorn, so Kraft it is.  The noodles are also very different in quality, again probably due to how much more expensive Daiya is.

The Moose Taste Test was a pleasantly surprised “Huh.  It’s oddly smokey.”  He attributed this to the added bacon, but I pointed out that the cheese itself is kind of smokey, and he said that might be what he was tasting.  When I asked if he would have guessed the Daiya was a gluten free, dairy free product, he took a moment and decided “Probably not.  Especially not with bacon in it.”

As for me, I’ll definitely be getting more of this.  It’s been years since I’ve eaten mac and cheese that I didn’t prepare from scratch.  It was nice to make a quick, easy lunch that didn’t taste like a substitute.  It’s certainly not going to completely replace Kraft on our shopping list.  The price difference alone means it’s too expensive to feed the notoriously picky toddler.   Besides, it was very tasty and I didn’t want to share.

Long Walks and Longer Naps

May 5, 2016

We went for a walk this morning. Well, I went for a walk. Acorn went for a ride in the stroller and P’khan dangled from the Baby Bjorn. I should probably get a double stroller soon if we make this a regular thing. It’s getting too hot to wear him for long periods. Although he does make a great exercise weight.

We made it about halfway to the park (3/4 of a mile or so) before I decided we should probably turn back. My current post baby exercise goal is to be able to walk to the park with my kids. Eventually I want to be able to ride my bike with the kids in a tow trailer, but walking is pretty much my highest speed at the moment.

I probably shouldn’t have gone quite that far, since I almost didn’t make it back, but I felt really proud of myself just for making it to that distant corner. I stopped more frequently on the way back, but used the time to point out birds and flowers and butterflies for Acorn. She was pretty hot and cranky by that point, so she was unimpressed.

We didn’t actually make it to the park. If Moose had been home, I probably could have pushed on and just had him come rescue us. But we did get out for a bit into the world outside of our back yard. Which I call a win. And then we came home and all took 2 hour naps. Which is also kind of a win.

My Toddler Is A Cat (Pt 2)

May 3, 2016

– Whatever side of the door she’s on is the wrong one.

– Has accidentally closed herself in the bathroom more than once.

– The red dot is both fascinating and scary. It must be caught.

– No roll of toilet paper is safe.

– Knows the exact spot in the foyer where piteous wails will echo through the whole house.

– Will cheerfully ignore both Mommy and Daddy’s request for cuddles, but the moment there’s food involved, it’s all smiles and sweetness.

– Mommy and/or Daddy must be watching before things can be knocked over.

– Has a sixth sense for when Mommy or Daddy will need to get up soon, so that she may plop down in our lap.

– Likes to lick plastic.

Free Audio Books or How Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Local Library

April 30, 2016

I listen to a lot of audio books.  What started out as a way to help me get to sleep became a constant companion.  I listened to them when I drove, when I worked, while I did chores… Pretty much any time I had time to myself that didn’t require my full attention.  When I worked for the university, there were thousands of audio books to choose from in the library. There was a while there where I would go down the shelf in the fiction section and pick up anything that looked interesting.  Which for me pretty much covers any book whose description doesn’t start with “Former CIA agent Author McSelfinsert…” [1]

Now that I’m a stay at home mom, the library I have access to is considerably smaller.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that both floors of little public library here in town would fit in just one of the six floors of the main university library.  Then again, the university library didn’t have a weekly story time, either.  Or maybe it did and I just never knew about it.  Anyways.

I went to the library in part for the story time, and in part with the hope of picking up more audio books. Imagine how thrilled I was upon signing up for a library card to also get a card with information about Overdrive.

If you haven’t heard of Overdrive, let me tell you how awesome it is. It’s an app on your phone that is like having a pocket public library. It has both e-books and audio books. The only limit is what your own local library has access to at the time.  And if they don’t have what you’re looking for, you can do a search to see if it’s available in the Overdrive system and recommend your library pick it up.  Thus far, it’s taken anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks to get a book I’ve recommended, but none have been denied.

There is the draw back that you only get to keep the books for two weeks before they expire.  And there’s no keeping it from going back into rotation if you’re not done with it. Which is no big deal if the book isn’t popular. You can just go back and check it out again.  But if it is… you may have to wait two weeks before you get it back again.  Or more. Fortunately the program saves your place and any bookmarks you have made.

The best part for me? The app has a sleep function.  So I can still use it for helping me get to sleep at night.  Whether or not it works all depends on the book.

~~~

[1] The book store I used to work for called these “Men’s Adventure” novels.  They always stared a ruggedly handsome former CIA agent who traveled around the world solving international terror plots and getting into bed with beautiful mystery women who may or may not have been spies for the KGB whose loyalties were swayed by the power of his penis.  This section was between “Horror” and “Romance.”

My Toddler is a Cat

January 11, 2016

Ways in which my toddler and my cats are alike.

– The best places to sit are anywhere that Mommy or Daddy has recently vacated and intended to return to.

– The second best place to sit is on Mommy or Daddy’s chest. Bonus points for blocking the TV .

– The best food is anything Mommy or Daddy are eating.

– Don’t like something? Knock it to the ground!

– Absolutely no qualms about eating off of the floor.

– Makes incoherent mewling noises when they want something.

– Needs claws trimmed regularly.

– Prone to randomly running around the house at top speed.

– Constantly under foot. And usually in the kitchen.

– Climbs on things they’re not supposed to.

– Needs to have the blinds raised 8 inches, otherwise they’ll be ruined.

Scenes From A Marriage

January 10, 2016

Setting: In the car on the way home from a morning running errands. P’khan is fussing because he’s hungry. We stop at an inconvenient traffic light.

Moose: It’s okay little man. We’re halfway there.
Me: O.O
P’khan: *continues fussing*
Moose: We’re halfway there. We’re halfway there.
Me: @.@
P’khan: *still fussing*
Acorn: *decides to join in on the whining*
Moose: We’re halfway there.
Me: LIVIN’ ON A PRAYER.
Moose: What?
Me: WHOA, WE’RE HALFWAY THERE. WHOAAA-OOOH! LIVIN’ ON A PRAYER!
Moose: Acorn, remind Daddy to never say “halfway there,” again.
Me: I resisted. You just kept saying it!

Restaurant Review: Swamp Tails

August 14, 2015

Everything that is wrong with Swamp Tails can be expressed in one fundamental flaw:  They use Old Bay seasoning.

Don’t get me wrong, Old Bay is a great seasoning.  I’m personally allergic to it, so I make my own version for when the cooking calls for it, but it’s still good stuff.  It is, however, not Cajun.  It is very much a New England style seasoning with the slightly sweeter, more “baked goods” types of spices.  Creole seasoning tend to be more herbaceous and earthy, with a lot more “hot sauce” types of spices.  It’s a subtle difference, but if you’re going to run a Cajun style restaurant, the least you can do is use the right seasoning.  Especially when there are so many excellent and widely available Cajun seasonings out there.

The menu looked pretty good at first glance.  Gumbo, etouffee, jambalaya, all the usuals.  Aps included boudin balls, and there was a liberal use of andouille sausage throughout the menu (although I cannot personally speak to the quality of their boudin or the andouille).  I will admit to bombarding the waitress with a ton of questions about the various dishes.  Their roux is flour based, which is a usually a good sign.  However, the crawfish etouffee was described as being served over creamy cheese grits.

I’ll give the Cajuns in the audience a moment to recover.  I know I needed one.

For those of you who have never had a good etouffee:  1) I’m so sorry, you are really missing out and 2) Etouffee is served over rice.  Or sometimes under it, if the restaurant is feeling fancy.  Regardless.  Not.  Grits.  Apparently several reviewers found this to be a “nice twist,” but I personally think a restaurant should get good at the basics before trying to get fancy with things.  And sadly, the basics were lacking.

Moose got the fried catfish basket and while the portion seemed to be pretty decent, the fish was declared “a little bland.”  He also felt the Old Bay seasoning on the fries was a little much.  I got my fries without the seasoning and was given a small dish of Slap Ya Mama to use instead of the Old Bay.  The fries were pretty good this way, though they are thick cut fries, which is not my personal preference.

The major issue was my Po-Boy.  It came out on sub roll, not a baguette as promised by the menu.  So it didn’t have the nice crispy crust required to hold everything together.  Not that there was much to hold together.  Mine came with a meager 6 shrimp, all of no more than an inch or so.  It was also very over dressed, so the whole thing was just a sad, soggy mess.

And just for the hell of it, Acorn had the mini corn dogs.  It came with a side of mandarin oranges, so she refused to eat anything until she was allowed to finish those.  And then she ate handfuls of Slap Ya Mama (that’s my girl!) and refused to eat her corn dogs until Moose cut them up smaller.  She also ate a portion of his catfish, after stabbing it repeatedly with her fork.  She did like the catfish, so we probably would have done better with the kids portion of catfish bites.  Such are the vagaries of a toddler’s appetite.

We will probably not be returning to Swamp Tails.  There are quite a few decent reviews on Yelp, so it’s possible they will manage to break the curse of this location and stay in business for longer than a year.  But with a new Razzoo’s opening on the 17th, and a Pappadeaux’s on the horizon, this place is going to have to step up its game to compete.

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