Lots of cooking and a freak hailstorm

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted!

Now that it’s back to posting about regular old Seattle life, I guess that isn’t as motivating as talking about Italy.  🙂

Last week was a busy week at work for both Mike and me so on Friday night we relaxed and went to the giant Southcenter Mall south of Seattle.  It was a really rainy, cold, windy night, so it was perfect weather for just wandering around an indoor mall!  We didn’t buy very much at all, but it was just fun to look.  Mike wanted to eat at the Rainforest Cafe because he’d eaten there once before and liked the food.  It was very kid-friendly and was decorated to look like a rainforest.  We were seated next to a giant saltwater aquarium so Mike and I enjoyed looking at all of the big, gorgeous fish swimming around inside.

Last week I got an email reminding me that I’d signed up to run the Portland, OR half-marathon in mid-May.  Oops.  Not only had I totally forgotten about that, I hadn’t been running a whole lot since the weather has been rainy and windy the past couple of months.  I’d been doing quite a bit of weight and plyometrics training, but that’s pretty different from running.  So on Saturday I went for a 12 mile run and was relieved that it felt like a very doable distance.  So I guess Mike and I will be going to Portland for a weekend in May!  A few hours after my long run when Mike and I were relaxing at our apartment there was a giant crash of thunder and it started hailing little balls of ice.  !!  Piper bolted off of her kitty condo in one giant leap and made it to the bedroom in two big bounds.  She catapulted under the bed and stayed there, refusing to budge, for the next three hours despite Mike’s and my coaxing.  The hailstorm lasted about 20 or 30 minutes, and it was crazy!  It was hailing really hard and within a few minutes the roof of the neighboring house had turned from black to white.  After the storm ended, I walked to the grocery store, and their power had been knocked out so they were closed.  Definitely a crazy storm!  I’ve only heard thunder about three times since I moved to Seattle, and Saturday was one of them!

So let’s talk about cooking!  (Mostly just because I’ve been doing a lot of that the past week and because there are no new trips to talk about.  :)).  Last week I made Cheesy Chicken and Rice for Mike, and it turned out well.  I made a few substitutions though.  Mike has a hard time with broccoli, so I substituted frozen peas.  I also chopped up the chicken breasts prior to cooking them.  Call me paranoid, but it makes me nervous to see those chicken breasts and have no idea whether or not they’re cooked all the way through.  With bite-size pieces it’s much easier for me to determine when they’re done.  This turned out pretty well, except that it looked so bland to me that I added extra paprika.  Mike definitely noticed the extra paprika though and needed to drink a lot of water during the meal.  Oops!  At least it seemed to cool down  on subsequent reheatings.

Last Sunday I made Garlic Chicken Stir Fry.  It turned out really well.  It smelled authentic, but that might just have been the smell of fresh ginger and soy sauce.  I made a few modifications just to make everything easier.  For starters, rather than chopping up an onion, cabbage, red bell pepper, and sugar snap peas, I bought a bag of frozen Thai stir fry vegetables and used those instead.  HIGHLY recommended… so much easier!  I still used fresh ginger and fresh green onions though.  Those are things that really add a lot of flavor if they’re fresh.  Also, I used sesame oil instead of peanut oil, because I priced peanut oil at the store and it was expensive!  And I already had sesame oil.  With all that substituting it still turned out really well.  Interestingly enough Mike’s only complaint was that the rice I served it over was too crunchy.  Admittedly, it was a little overdone.  I don’t know how I keep screwing up brown rice, but it always seems to get overcooked.  I do fine with white rice.  Does anyone have any rice cooking tips for someone who doesn’t have a rice cooker?

I had some dried split peas to use up, so I also made Split Pea Soup on Sunday.  SO good!  I had more like 2.5 cups of split peas, so I just used all of them and added extra water.  I also replaced about half of the water with vegetable broth and added one extra carrot and one extra stalk of celery to balance out the extra split peas.  I also skipped the barley since I don’t eat gluten.  I let it simmer for two hours, and it was done.  I suspect that mine got done so quickly compared to the one in the recipe because I soaked my split peas in water for about eight hours beforehand.  This not only makes them easier to digest since it breaks down their starchy coating, it also makes cooking times much less.  Even Mike said he’d try some.

“Really?  But whenever I eat split pea soup you say it doesn’t look appetizing.”

“No I don’t.”  There was a pause while he looked in the soup pot.  “Yeah.  Actually this doesn’t look appetizing.  It looks like green goo.  But it’s good for me right?”

“Yes.  Lots of veggies.”

So I gave Mike a small bowl to try.

He ate it but was strangely silent as to how it tasted.  In contrast, he commented on the stir fry being good.  🙂

I asked Mike if he had any preference on things for me to cook up this week and he thought about it.  “Root vegetables and beef,” he said.

So on Sunday I went to the grocery store and got the ingredients for Traditional Beef Stew.  Then I chopped everything up and threw it in the slow cooker, and that was dinner last night.  I omitted the tomatoes and added one extra potato.  I also put in an additional stalk of celery and three cloves of garlic.  This is an old recipe that I used to make a lot about a year ago, and it’s one that Mike always likes.

All in all, it was a reasonably successful couple weeks of cooking.  🙂

Mike and I  also found a hobby we can do together… iOS (i.e. iPhone/iPad app development).  Now that I have a Mac I’m pretty interested in learning to program for the Apple family of products.  I’m already semi-familiar with the programming language used and XCode, their application development environment.  So we’ve been watching some free videos from iTunes University from an iOS development course.  I would definitely have to say I’m more into it than Mike is, but he’s watching along and showing interest too.  I’m even going through and doing the homework for the class.  It’s a lot of fun… a different type of programming than I’m used to.

Mike spent a lot of time this weekend trying to get the midi setup for his music studio going.  There were many problems and we made multiple trips to Guitar Center and Best Buy before he got everything he needed.  Most things seem to be working now, but it’s going to be a busy week at work for him so I don’t know if he’ll get the last few bits finished up before next weekend.

I hope everyone else had a great weekend!

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