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Monday, January 31, 2011

Food Obsession #1: Thai Curry

I never understood food obsessions, until this past year. I'm sure you've met people where specific foods are their weakness. They can eat it every day, any time, and never grow sick of it. One well known example is chocolate. I know people that absolutely love it! They get chocolate syrup in their coffee, they get chocolate ice cream, candy, cake, cookies, you name it! I'm not a big chocolate fan (which my blog may portray - I just like the design), but let me tell you, I have found my obsession: Thai Curry. Red, green, yellow, panang... I love it all!

First, a little history. My husband and I had found a local Thai restaurant not far from our home that delivers. We began ordering a couple of their dishes, and from that moment... I was hooked. Anytime I didn't have to cook, I wanted to order curry. Eventually, I decided that since I liked it so much, I should learn to make it. This ended up being months of trial and error before I mastered my recipes for each type of curry.

My first dish was a bit of a fiasco. I bought the wrong curry - I bought a powdered yellow Indian curry - which has a completely different taste. I tried putting it in sauces, including spaghetti, and was a bit disheartened. The second go-around, I found an Asian Supermarket not far from my home. I found the right curry pastes, and other needed ingredients.

The next few tries were better, but far from perfect. My green curry nearly melted my taste buds right off, my yellow curry tasted like someone dropped a pound of salt into it, and my red was encouraging... but not quite right. To see one of my beginner Yellow Curry recipes, you can see one of my previous posts, just click here.

Over time, I researched all kinds of recipes. I reduced my green curry to half the original paste requirement, added pork, peas, green onions, and nailed it! My red curry became a masterpiece as soon as I made it with salmon instead of chicken, and my yellow I finally nailed this week! Less of the salty ingredients, and a lot more brown sugar!

I can't tell you how much my poor husband must be sick of curry by this point. Not only did I make it a lot at home, but I made it for my parents, friends, and grandparents as well! He now lets me take ALL of the curry leftovers to work for lunch. We recently had a dinner party at our friends, where I taught my friend Kristen how to make each recipe (amazingly she shares my love for curry). By the end of the night, I ate so much, I thought I finally reached my breaking point... (I'm eating leftovers right now as I'm writing this).

I've realized that I gravitate towards Asian cuisine. If I had to choose something I really love besides curry, it would have to be sushi (I've learned how to make those as well). Although, I'm thinking that for my husband's sake, I'm going to cut back and expand my dinner options. :-)

Anyone else have food obsessions like this?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Working vs. Homemaking

I have a confession...

I no longer am a full-time Housewife. This month I received the opportunity to take on a temporary position as an Executive Assistant for Bernards Builders & Management Service. The position lasts one month at the company's satellite office, and 3 months at one of their job sites. After that, an opportunity may or may not arise to continue working; however, this has provided me with the opportunity to really compare and contrast being a working woman vs. being a housewife.

Here are the Pros and Cons I found with being a housewife:
I loved having enough time to cook meals for my husband and me, do all our laundry, keep the apartment clean and orderly, garden in the backyard, complete projects I usually don't have time for (crocheting/scrap booking), grocery shopping, exercising, reading, and always getting a full 8 hours of sleep. I was always in a good mood for my husband when he got home, did my best to look nice for him, and made sure he got to relax once he was home.

On the down side, many times if everything was already done, I would find myself alone while everyone I know was working (sadly, in today's times, housewives seem to be scarce). I also can't lie... sometimes things simply got boring. Not bringing in money can play havoc with your feelings of worth as well, especially when people ask what you do for a living.

Now here are the Pros and Cons I have found with being a working woman:
I love the feeling that I'm helping make money. My feelings of worth have definitely increased now that my husband is not the sole provider. I like being around people, and constantly staying busy. When people ask what I do, I feel good knowing I have a job to answer with. I sense more respect.

On the down side, I have already started getting frustrated at home. I'm sometimes too tired to cook, resulting in my husband and me eating out more. We try to make time for working out, but many times we're both too tired. Laundry, dishes and cleaning are now responsibilities added onto my husband's plate to share with me. There's less time to do these things during the week, so many times they get pushed to the weekend, making it difficult to make fun/relaxing plans for us then. I feel like these things are my main responsibility, and so when chores get pushed off, I start feeling like a failure as a wife.

Conclusion:
Living in today's times, I think women feel guilty for taking care of the home, and not being at work. What's worse, is that women seem to have pressure to be everything at the same time. Work full-time, take care of the house, the kids, AND look good for her husband.

In America today, people define themselves according to what they do. Why is it not openly accepted for women to be housewives today? Before, women were encouraged to be home, and not go to work if they were married; however, wouldn't you think that now women should have the choice, and not feel frowned upon? This all being said with the husband's support of her decision.

While I was a full-time housewife, I found that my husband and I were more synchronized. We each played our part: him at work, and me at home. The result was getting to spend more quality time together without the burden of figuring out who would cook, clean, etc. We made up for the cut income, by simply cutting back on eating out and spending less.

Now don't get me wrong, there are plenty of couples, where both husband and wife work full-time, and they find their synchronization. I simply want to emphasize having the choice without the pressure from society.

As for myself, while I prefer taking care of the home, I also enjoy the benefits of working. My desire is to do what helps my husband out the most, whether it's helping at home, or helping bring in a paycheck. But with full understanding that I can't do both 100%. If given the opportunity, I would work until we have kids - to help build a good financial cushion (especially with the economy the way it is). Kids are a whole different arena... they ARE a full-time job, coupled with housework. That then brings up the whole debate on whether women should be working moms, or stay-at-home moms.

Maybe someday, I'll get to do a comparison of that as well. ;-)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Homemade Wassail

This Christmas I discovered a new recipe to add to my family's holidays! Homemade Wassail!
For anyone that doesn't know what wassail is:  it is a hot mulled cider that was traditionally made as part of an old English tradition with the intention of ensuring a good crop of cider apples for the next year's harvest.  This usually involved singing, and drinking the cider, known as wassailing.  And so over time, the cider became known as wassail.

Ingredients:
  • 1 Gallon apple cider
  • 2 Cups cranberry juice
  • 1/2 Cup honey
  • 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 2 oranges
  • Whole cloves
  • 1 apple, peeled and diced
  • 1 tsp. Allspice
  • 1 tsp. Ginger
  • 1 tsp. Nutmeg
  • 3-4 cinnamon sticks (or 3 Tbs. ground cinnamon)
  • 1/2 C - 1 C brandy (optional)
Preparation:
Set your crockpot to its lower setting, and pour apple cider, cranberry juice, honey and sugar in, mixing carefully. As it heats up, stir so that the honey and sugar dissolve. Stud the oranges with the cloves, and place in the pot (they'll float). Add the diced apple. Add allspice, ginger and nutmeg to taste. Finally, add the cinnamon sticks.

Cover your pot and allow to simmer 2 - 4 hours on low heat. About half an hour prior to serving, add the brandy if you choose to use it.