Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

I love mac and cheese, but just not that slimy stuff that comes out of a box.  What is the point of that?  Sure it is quick and easy, but it really tarnishes the good name of a good ol' mac and cheese.  I have to start and say that there was a time when I didn't like mac and cheese.  I used to have a phobia of melted cheese, if you can believe that!  For this macaroni and cheese I have to give some credit to my mum, as most of this recipe is hers.  Here is what you will need:

Elbow macaroni (as much as you like, because it always expands, but I don't know, 2 dry cups?)
2 cups of milk
2 or 3 teaspoons of flour
about 2 cups of your favourite shredded cheese (I like marble, because it pleases both myself and Sylvia, but you can also use about a cup of really old and stinky cheddar cheese and a cup of mozzarella)
2+2 tablespoons of butter
some chopped up cooked ham
one shallot (or any other small onion), loosely chopped up
bread crumbs
squirt of mustard
Couple of dashes of Worcestershire Sauce
salt and pepper

Prepare the macaroni as stated on its package.  In the mean time put 2 tablespoons of butter in a sauce pan and warm over medium heat until the pot is warm.  Coat about a cup and a half the shredded cheese with the flour then add to the pot with a little salt and lots of pepper.  Whisk constantly until the sauce starts to thicken and then reduce the heat and add a squirt of mustard and the Worcestershire sauce.  Warm up frying pan with a little olive oil and fry the shallot until caramelized.

Put the drained macaroni into a casserole dish and mix in the onions, ham, and cheese sauce mixture.  Melt the remaining two tablespoons of butter and mix in with some bread crumbs until bead crumbs are moist, but not clumpy.  Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top of the macaroni and then sprinkle the bread crumbs on that.  Put the casserole into the oven at 350degF and cook until bubbling.  Enjoy :o)

Some alternatives:

-You don't have to limit your cheese to only two cups.  More cheese is always better ;)
-Replace the bread crumbs with some crumbled up regular potato chips (seems odd, but adds a nice touch)
-If you have any left over boiled potatoes, chop them up and mix them into the noodles.  My mother-in-law does that and it is surprisingly good
-Crumble up some blue cheese or gorgonzola and mix it into the noodles for some extra flavour
-Steam some broccoli and cauliflower, chop it up and add it to the macaroni to get your veggies with this dish.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Naming a Baby

Having a baby is one of those special, wonderful times yada yada yada... Everyone has heard those lines piped up many times. But what people don't know, especially those who don't have any kids, is how incredibly stressful it is. First of all, there is the wife portion of the equation. She is the strong one who carries around the baby and has to deliver. But what about the dad? We have to go through the having to eat ice cream and junk food all the time out of sympathy (please note the deadpan there).

Then there is the colour scheme of the baby's room. Since we don't know what we are having, we had to pick a neutral colour. But then the discussions happens of what exact colour to make the room. Do we choose a brown? A yellow? If yellow, a lemon yellow? Canary yellow? There are hundreds of different names and shades for the simple colour of yellow!

BUT, the absolutely most stressful part about having a baby (especially when you don't know the sex) is naming the little monster. Even before Sylvia was pregnant with our second baby, we were talking about what kind of names we like. There are never any (or so few anyway) that two people can agree on. I can't imagine how people come to the decision to name the baby. No wonder in the old days everyone was junior or the third or something like that, because that was easy. No arguing whether the names Zelda and Zoltan go with Cameron. No arguing that Flavio sounds too much like a gay adult star's stage name (not that there is anything wrong with that. A person's sexual preference is no body's business but their own). No discussion that Dario sounds too much like Mario (another great choice) who reminds a person of a small, fat plumber who jumps on Koopa Troopa's and mushrooms. No conversation that Trent reminds some people of the river in Peterborough, and not of the great Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails for anyone who doesn't know). No thoughts that Oscar would make people sing the Oscar Meyer Wiener song.

And where do we, as parents, get the right to name the baby anyway? Olivia never asked to be an Olivia. Maybe she, when she grows up, decides that Ursula fits her personality much nicer. The audacity of parents to name a child. And what about poor Apple Martin, Dweezel and Moonbeam Zappa? What is wrong with these people! I know we want unique, but really. Or we can go on the other end of the spectrum and name our child the most popular name in the world; Mohammed (or the countless other ways of spelling that name). I am sure that Mohammed Cameron would go so nicely together. I saw four kids playing the other day and two of them were named Mohammed!

When it comes down to it, naming the baby is certainly the hardest thing. It has been at least 34 weeks now that we have been in discussion about the baby name, and we are only slightly closer than when we started.

Babies are a wonderful thing. We are lucky to be able to have one already, and then have another on the way, when there are so many people who aren't able to have children when they want them, so I can't really complain, because my ranting is really trivial.

Until next time

Monday, June 21, 2010

Homemade Baby Wipe Recipe

We decided the other day to try to make our own baby wipes, just for the shear reason because we can. We found a recipe for homemade wipes here, but I will summarize the method.

1 roll of strong paper towel, select-a-size (scott paper towel, Spongetowels)
2 cups of water
2 tbsp of baby bath soap
2 tbsp of either baby lotion or baby oil (or we did one of each)
1 container to put all the stuff in (We used an empty wipes container)

Cut the paper towel roll in half and remove the cardboard roll. Place it into the container and pour the slurry of all the ingredients over it and wait for about an hour for the paper towel to absorb all of the liquid. Ta da, that is all there is to it.

-Easy and quick to make
-Much cheaper than buying a tub of wipes
-You know what all the constituents are in the solution
-Clean the bum rather nicely

-Cutting a roll of paper towel in half is damn hard. I had trouble cutting through with my really sharp bread knife. It is almost as though you would need a band saw to cut through easily.
-Getting the wipes off the roll, either from the inside or the outside proved rather tedious, but that might be due to the tub that we used to house the wipes.

I figured a better way to prepare the wipes, so that it is easy to access the wipes.

Using the same ingredients as above, take a roll of select-a-size paper towel and tear them apart. Place them in the container, interlinking them when you over lay them, so that when you pull one out, the next one (ideally) will follow. When they are all in the container, pour the slurry over them.

Similar to above, but it is a heck of a lot easier to get to the wipes and pull them out

Much more time consuming, but really worth it when you have to do a midnight changing and you can't fiddle around with trying to find the start of a wipe.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010


One of our favourite meats to eat is salmon.  It is light and flakey and always turns out just perfect.  It is a very forgiving meat if you leave it in the oven or barbeque a little longer than needed.  I have a few ways that I like to prepare Salmon, and here they are.

Simple Steamed Salmon:

1 nice single serving size of salmon fillet
Half a lemon
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
pinch of dill (dill is fairly over powering)
pinch of sage
salt and pepper

Place the salmon on some tin foil.  If there is no skin on the piece, put a little olive oil on the foil first, to prevent it from sticking.  Drizzle with a little more olive oil and the lemon juice and add the herbs, salt and pepper.  Fold the foil together and pinch the ends to make it air tight.  Place on the BBQ at medium high for around 12 minutes, or until done (I listen to the package, and if it is just sizzling away, chances are it is pretty done).  If you can't BBQ, throw it in the oven at 375 for around 15-20 minutes (I find that the oven takes longer).

Kicked Up a Notch Salmon:

In addition to the constituents listed above add:
Cream Cheese
1 finely chopped garlic clove
Half to one full shallot (depending on the size, and the shallot can be replaced with any onion you have)

Slice the salmon around every 2.5cm so that there are spaces to put the cream cheese, just don't slice all the way through.  Stuff the cream cheese in the slots.  Sprinkle the shallot and the garlic on the salmon and finish preparing with the ingredients from the simple steamed salmon and cook as stated above.

Maple Salmon:

Serving size of salmon
Maple syrup (has to be real maple, and not Aunt Jemima synthetic stuff)
pinch of salt.

Take a fork and pierce the salmon in a few places to help get all that good maple syrup into the salmon.  Drizzle with the maple syrup and the pinch of salt.  The sweet and the salty work nicely together.  Prepare as stated above.

We like to have this with spaghettini and Rose Sauce with steamed vegetables.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Rose Sauce

So I had some company come over the other day and I needed to whip up a sauce that was both tasty and easy because I was limited with time and I was cranky, so I came up with this Rose Sauce.

1 or 2 shallots (depending on the size) finely chopped
3 or 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of butter plus 1 tablespoon of EVOO (prevents the butter from burning)
1.5 cups of milk
3 teaspoons of flour
1/2 cup of crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons of fresh or dried parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons of shredded mozzarella cheese
couple of shakes of crushed red peppers
pinch of sage
few generous pinches of Basil
few generous pinches of Oregano
salt and pepper
little bit of chipotle seasoning if you can get some

In a sauce pan, heat the butter and EVOO over medium heat. Add the shallots and the garlic and saute until nicely caramelized. Add flour to a measuring cup and add water and stir until flour is blended with the milk, then add to the pot. Whisk continually until the sauce start to thicken. Add the tomatoes and the seasonings and cheese, and reduce the heat to low, stirring occasionally.

I used dried herbs, as that is all I had, but fresh herbs is absolutely welcome when available.

This took me about half an hour to make, as I wasn't entirely sure what I was making until I really started going at it. The sauce was served over a bed of spaghettini.



Monday, June 7, 2010


I don't think in history anyone has ever said "You know what, being a Dad is a piece of cake." Well, maybe there are some people who have said that, and those people fall under two categories: The fathers that are never around, and have the mother completely take care of the baby and the deadbeat dads who run away from the family. But those types of people don't really count anyway, so I will not further discuss them.

For the past year and a bit I have been a stay-at-home dad. I started when I was still writing my thesis, and continued until this day, and will continue now until I find a job. The decision to stay at home was was easy and tough at the same time. It was easy, because who wouldn't want to have a Sugar mama (thanks hon) to take care of the bills while I get to play with my daughter and toys all day. It was tough, because I really want to try my chops at working in a real job, where I have to use my brain (I currently work at a video store part time).

It has been a satisfying year. I have learned much in responsibility and how to take care of another human being. I have been able to teach my daughter in the ways of the Force, about Yoda, how to count, colours, help her master walking. All the good things. For me, it would be tough not to want to be involved in these learning steps in her life. I know that my wife says it sucks to be gone all day, and only getting to see the little turkey for a couple of hours at most every day.

I will have to continue my thoughts on fathering on another occasion, as my kid has just taken all my video games out and they are scattered all over the floor.


Ironing the Carpet

So I never thought that my first post would be on some sort of useful house hold activity. Since we have another baby coming, we have decided to move around some furniture in the living room to make room for even more baby stuff! I, being the wonderful husband that I am, decided to move a shelving unit full of movies down into the dungeon (the basement). It weighs a ton, so when I removed it from its resting place for the previous three years, there were some serious carpet dents (you know, those indentations that are left when heavy things are stationary for an extended period of time).  

Me being me, these bothered me to no end, so I decided to do a little research on line to see if there were any methods to remove, or hell, even lessen the visibility of said marks. There were two methods that I found that people were talking about. One was to take an ice cube and place it in the dent. Apparently, after the ice cube melts and starts evaporate, that will fluff up the carpet. This seemed a little odd to me, and with the size of the indentation it would have taken until we move to another house to get the indentation out. In addition, the carpet would be like a swamp with all the ice I would need to use. Also, what I don't understand is why an ice cube? Why not just pour a little water on the area? Seemed a little odd to me.  

The second method was to take a shirt and an iron, with the iron set on steam. The idea being that the steam would penetrate (hehe) into the carpet and lift the dented fibers up. The shirt was used as a barrier between the iron and the carpet to prevent the carpet to melt (because the carpet is nylon, so high temperatures = bad news). I decided to try this method, because the area that the dent covered was large, and I thought after likely five years, that the iron should be used at least once. To my complete and utter amazement, after about two minutes and a whole whack of steaming the area, the dents were completely gone. Now I have to go to all the other areas in the house and start to iron the carpet like a mad man.  


Edit: Apparently, the official name for these furniture dents is Furnident! Thanks Karin.
P.S. This is a repeat post from the 29 Minute Mark
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