Saturday, January 11, 2014

Putting the FUN back in dysFUNctional

I can't tell you how many times, and by how many people, I'll be recounting something that happened at a family party or the latest update on a family member and I'm told I should "write a book". That I could "make millions". My response is always the same. "Maybe. Someday. When I no longer want to speak with them because they would all disown me!"

And no, this isn't my attempt at a writing deal. I'm a firm believer that just because someone blogs doesn't mean they can write a book. I have a few friends who are (un)published authors and I would never begin to presume I could do what they do. Yes some bloggers can but that's by what this is about.

The Italian side - My grandfather fourth child from the right
While I may have to edit some stories, adding some fictional components or omitting some of the juicier bits, I will be sharing some of the giggles that are abundant in my family.

To give you an idea of my family let's start with how large it is - Italian Catholic on one side and German/English Episcopalian on the other. In numbers  I have four aunts and two uncles. Nineteen first cousins, Nineteen second cousins and one third cousin. However if you include spouses (because some have been a part of my family since before I was born) the numbers are: six, six, thirty-eight, twenty and one

The best way I've described family before is "Have you ever seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding?"

...yea that's about right. We're loud. We eat. We breed.....And despite both sets of grandparents being married for decades upon decades - until death did they part - the people in my family don't have the best track records for relationships. 

My parents? Divorced. Of my six aunts/uncles? Ten divorces, 1 never legally filed for divorced, and one just "shaken up" in her 70s.The cousins are doing a but better. Of the eighteen marriages only three divorces, six separations and eight children (heaven forbid) out of wedlock.
And truly this is only the beginning. Sure lots of families are large, lots of families are divorced and have children from different people. But the members in my family are less Norman Rockwell and a bit more Addams Family.

I was raised by Wiccan Hippies who took their 2-year old to a Grateful Dead concert.

My great grandmother once thought she swallowed her dentures. 

A great-uncle who started dating his ex-wife's cousin and then the ex-wife moved in with them for a while.

My sister's ex-wife #1 is roommates with her ex-wife #2. 

My five year old niece loves the Twilight movie "Breaking Dawn Pt.2" because "The RIP off heads!!"

I gave my sister a taxidermy hedgehog with a top hat and walking cane for her last birthday. 

The stories just go on and on. I do love my family and they do keep things interesting in life. I may edit and alter some a little but I'll start sharing more with you. My fun and dysfunctional family.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Homemade Carnitas

Being from Southern California carnitas is a staple on all Mexican restaurant menus; for some reason though we just can't find it here in the PNW. Thank goodness for Pinterest! I was able to come across this recipe a few months back and finally tackled it.

I made a few changes from the original recipe - I used a pork tenderloin (because there was no pork butt at the store), but next time I'll try to find the butt. Mine definitely needed that extra bit of fat. Oh and I also added a bit more on the spices level (I like it spicy). I also tried out my new slow cooker (instead of roasting the loin in the oven first).

Boneless pork tenderloin, fat trimmed and cut into 2 inch cubes
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 onion, peeled and halved
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried Mexican oregano
2 Tb fresh lime juice
2 C water
1 medium orange, juiced and keep the spent halves

1. Combine all the ingredients in a large slow cooker. Cook until the meat falls apart when prodded with a fork, about 2 hours.

2.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the meat from the pan and place it on a large foil-lined jelly roll pan.  Remove and discard everything from the pot except for the cooking liquid.  Place pot over high heat on the stove and boil until thick and syrupy, about 30-45 minutes.  You should have about 1 C of liquid remaining when it is finished.

3.  While the liquid is reducing, use two forks to pull each cube of pork into three equal sized pieces.  Once the liquid has become a syrup, gently fold in the pieces of pork into the pot.  Try not to break up the pork any further.  Taste and add additional salt and pepper.

4.  Spread the pork back onto the foil lined pan and evenly spread the meat around so there is a single layer of meat.  Place the jelly roll pan on the lower middle rack of the oven and broil until the top of the meat is well browned and edges are slightly crisp, about 5 to 8 minutes.  Using a wide metal spatula, flip the pieces of meat and broil the other side until well browned and edges are slightly crisp, 5 to 8 minutes.

 Serve immediately in a tortilla with all your favorite toppings.

*           *          *
It was delicious! It made plenty and we used the left overs for a Mexican cornbread tamale pie. Delicious.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Chocolate-Dipped Pistachio Crescents

2 C flour
1 C unsalted, shelled pistachios, finely ground in a food processor
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 C (1 1/2 sticks), unsalted butter, softened
3/4 C packed light brown sugar
1 egg
8 oz (about 1 1/2 C) semisweet chocolate chips
2 TB milk
1 C unsalted, shelled pistachios, roughly chopped

1. Heat oven to 350. In a bowl, stir together flour, finely ground pistachios and salt. In another bowl, beat butter and sugar for 2 minutes, until fluffy. Beat in egg. Pour in dry mixture and beat until just combined. 

2. Shape tablespoonfuls of dough into 2 1/2 inch logs and bend into crescents. Place on a baking sheet 2 inches apart. Bake at 350 for 14 to 16 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely. 

3. Melt chocolate with 2 tablespoons of milk. Dip cooled crescents into chocolate allowing excess to drip off. Sprinkle or dip into chopped pistachios. Place on parchment paper to dry.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year Giveaway

What better way to celebrate the new year and new beginnings - than with a GIVEAWAY!!

There are so many prizes and three changes to win!!

3rd Prize
a Rafflecopter giveaway

2nd Prize
a Rafflecopter giveaway

1st Prize
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Share with friends and maybe they'll share the prize. ;)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Blank Pages

A few friends posted this picture last night as midnight approached,

I really liked the sentiment. Especially with the major life events that have occurred, not only the last few days but also, this year. Friends are constantly telling me I need to write about my family and life. That the stories would make best sellers (I always reply with, "yes but then my family would never speak to me again.")

So, while this quote didn't mean "write a good one" literally I'm going to do my best to actually write everyday anyway. Not necessarily blog posts or long entries, simply a few words or prose about what happened that day. 

My hope is that this exercise will not only help me process my recent break-up and just general stresses I've been feeling lately. We'll see how it goes.