Easter 2011

For over a month Eliza would get excited whenever she saw Easter eggs, begging her daddy to hide them outside.  But Easter turned out to be quite rainy, so we had to celebrate (and let Eliza hunt for eggs) inside.  At church we celebrated our friend Tony’s baptism (perfect day for it, right?) and Eliza went to the 2 and 3 year old room for the second time.   She gets a little overwhelmed by all the kids running around, but after a few minutes of playing with the toy kitchen she really seems to settle in and interact with some of the less rowdy boys and girls.  Her favorite activity at Sunday school is sitting at the children’s table to eat a snack and drink out of a Dixie cup.  Last Sunday she had to take the cup home with her, it was so exciting.

Of course the real joy of Easter was not overlooked as we praised the risen Lord.  This year it has been great sharing our faith with Eliza, and over the last month we’ve began to pray together.   She thanks God for her food, her water, and her ice.  If we leave one of those three out we will have to pray again.  There have been times where we pray five or more times during a meal.  We’re working on praying for other things, like our family and friends.

After church we headed home to open a few Easter gifts and hunt for eggs around the house.  Eliza loved the search and finding nickels inside the eggs for her piggy bank.  Then we headed to Gram and Papa’s house for lunch with Cece (Cindy) and Steve.  We don’t get to see Cindy and Steve very often (and sadly they’ll be moving to South Carolina soon) but Eliza talks about Cece all the time – it’s hard to resist her smile and curly hair!

Kiss Z Cook

Thanks to a perk from Kirk’s company, we had the opportunity for an “inspiring” activity, so we decided to sign-up for a cooking class.  There aren’t many places in town where you get to actually do the cooking and not just watch a demonstration, but we discovered Kiss Z Cook in Carmel which has a variety of weekly classes, including Friday couples “date nights.”  The theme we registered for was Brazilian and we were excited to learn about this country’s cuisine having never previously thought about it.

The setup: two couples work together in one kitchen to prepare the meal.  We were making seafood stew, duck and tomatillo salsa tacos, and coconut soufflĂ©.  Having four hands was a great help in getting all the prep work done.  We enjoyed working with another husband and wife team and then shared a delicious meal together. 

The chef in charge was Dwight Simmons, a really fun guy (you can see him making a scene behind Lynne in the photo above) who had been the head chef at local seafood star Kona Jack’s and the former Keystone Grill.  Chef first walked us through some prep skills and knife techniques, emphasizing the mise en place.  It was helpful to watch a professional do things in a different way, and we learned a few pointers.  I would say that the class is mostly designed for people who are beginning to average cooks.  We both thought that it would be a bit more advanced, but it did help us correct some bad habits and get inspired by a new cuisine.  Maybe there’s a good place in Indy for advanced classes?

So how was the food?  First, there was a really great tomatillo, chile, and avocado salsa that we made for the duck tacos that we will definitely make again this summer!

We marinated the duck breasts in a mixture of chipotle chiles, red wine vinegar, garlic, and coriander.  It was a great marinade for grilling, but next time we’ll add more chipotles to spice it up a notch.

After the duck was cooked on the indoor grill the chef showed us how to cut and prepare it for the plate.  Kirk couldn’t believe that he said to cut the fat off before slicing it for the tacos.  I thought that it was a great idea!  Kirk cut his own meat up leaving on the fat and all that “flavor,” and he even ate the grilled duck fat from the other pieces.  He’s a huge fan of duck, so this really wasn’t a surprise.

The Brazilian seafood stew was great and very flavorful!  Again, this is something that we will definitely make at home in the future as it combined some of our favorite flavors.  The dish included shrimp, white fish, peppers, onion, lots of garlic and cilantro, coconut milk, green onions, and tomatoes. 

By the time we got all the food done we were so hungry to eat it that we forgot to take pictures of dessert.  The coconut “soufflĂ©” (calling it that because that’s the closest comparison I have), was pretty good, and quite heavy on the shredded coconut.  I don’t know if we’ll make it again at home since we rarely cook a dessert with our meal, but served with some lime sorbet, it would have been even better.

The only criticism, other than the class not being as advanced as we expected, was that the “Brazilian” theme was never explained, so it might as well have just been a “tropical” cooking class.  What makes this food typical of Brazil and why did the chef choose it?  Regardless, we had a fun time, learned a little bit, and ate some great food.  The chef was a lot of fun to work with and we got to know him more while we chatted and ate (and were the last to leave as Kirk continued to eat everyone’s leftovers).


Our Cookie is Two

To celebrate Eliza’s second birthday, we had a “milk and cookies” themed party.  This included twelve types of cookies (two courtesy of her grandparents) and a cookie sandwich cake.  Of course, I had to make a lot of decorations and utilize my mom’s expert sewing skills!

Table 1

We had three different kinds of milk available (2%, whole, and homemade chocolate – Kirk refused to serve skim), and we served them out of traditional glass jugs into glass Ball canning jars.

Eliza’s favorite cookie of the day was the chocolate spritz.  It was my favorite cookie growing up, and I’d always ask my grandmother to make them.  We aren’t sure how many Eliza grabbed throughout the party.  If I had known I wouldn’t have placed them so close to the edge of the table.

Eliza loved seeing some of her friends and family.  Thanks for celebrating with us!

It’s become difficult to get a picture together where Eliza isn’t saying “cheese” with a funny face.  These were also taken after all those cookies and cake, so she was easily distracted!


Eliza Turned Two!

Celebrating Eliza’s birthday this year was quite fun for us.  Eliza knew what was coming as the day approached, and she loved asking us to sing the “Happy Birthday” song to her.  Kirk was able to take a long lunch with us and we had a great family day.  It was perfect and we had a lot of fun together and some great laughs.

When I was around Eliza’s age my grandfather made me a doll house.  I loved it and played with it for many years.  It hadn’t been touched for almost twenty-five years (I can’t believe I’m so old!) and needed a good cleaning and “renovation.”  I didn’t realize how much time it would take to “flip” a doll house, and a few weeks before her birthday my dad helped me get the project started.  After a lot of sanding and delicate painting, it was done…at least for now.  I even added some pink shutters to the outside that I think my grandfather would have liked.  However, he’d probably be mad that I painted the wooden trim white, although I left the stairs as-is under strict family orders.

Eliza got new furniture for the doll house thanks to her grandparents.  This was definitely needed since some of the older furniture is thinner and easily broken.  She loves moving the dolls throughout the house, changing the baby on the changing table, and having them all cook in the kitchen.  Of course she has to put them all to bed, too.

We went to Patachou for lunch since it’s one of Eliza’s favorites.  She loves their French toast – and this time she had it with poached pears.

Eliza’s Gram came over to see her, too, and they read some new birthday books together.

We ended the day with a special dinner outside (after some quality playtime outside, too).  Now she wants to eat dinner outside every day!