Last Minute

Sitting in the office, getting our taxes together to send in to our CPA, I hear Matt in the kitchen, busy making a birthday cake.  He is wanting to bring a birthday cake with us to the hospital so that when Olive is born, we can offer her first official birthday cake to visitors who come to our room.  I’m filling out last minute deposit slips, cleaning up my desk, organizing papers and occasionally feeling a contraction here and there.  The mystery of when this event will take place is overwhelming, but I’m so thankful that I don’t have a schedule of when she will be here.  I realize in this moment of doing “little things” that big things are happening.  Matt is practicing guitar, I’m occasionally gripping the desk to deal with a contraction, and all the while, God is orchestrating this whole event.  He has us in mind and he cares for us.  I know this, though at times, I let myself believe the lies that we are on our own.

I want to remember us how we are right now.  Matt and I are so close.  We’re the best team imaginable.  We love each other, we respect each other.  We laugh at the same jokes and annoyances and the same things excite and bother us.  We find it hard to have complete joy without the other.  We’ve experienced so much together, been to so many new places and have had extremely deep pain as well.  I know that no matter what happens in the week to come, that we will be okay. I know this first, because God is in control.  I know this second because of all the proof I’ve seen over the years.  God has given me such a blessing in a partner like Matt.  He cares for me and attends to my needs more than anyone else in my life.  He will do the same for Olive and for any other children we may have in the future. I know that his character and his love for us and for Christ will only grow in the coming months and years.  I always pray for his heart, that it will remain open to God’s will first.

We are ready for this.  We have read the books, taken the classes, lost one baby and have fully enjoyed the pregnancy of this baby.  I have enjoyed this pregnancy.  Up until this last month, I’ve felt wonderful.  I’ve loved the sweetness of feeling her move, the amazement at feeling a person inside me have the hiccups, seen the joy in Matt’s face as he felt her move for the first time – it’s all been wonderful and an experience that I’ll never forget.  If I go into labor tomorrow, I’ll feel ready to have Olive meet us and our families and this wonderful world God’s given us.  Thank you, Lord, for being strong and being in control and being the most amazing creator.  I’m putting this in your hands.

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7 Years

We celebrated our seven year anniversary today.  We just spent the day together – exactly like we prefer to be all the time.  We talked today about how we really won’t mind being homebodies when Olive gets here because we already are!  There really isn’t anything we’d rather do than to have a cup of coffee together in the morning, go to the bookstore, run errands and probably also cook together.  So when Olive gets here, there will just be a new person who is our favorite person to do all those things with.  That lessens the scariness of disrupting our little world.

We bought a few things for her room today and spent most of Saturday setting things up.  We moved some furniture around and made room for the crib and changing table.  Today we bought more drawers for the closet and will soon begin to organize the boxes of clothes that our friend, Ashley, has already brought to our house from her two girls!  Sometimes we both feel so overwhelmed – we really can’t imagine our lives changing 100% in just one day.  When we were holding Cali and Alex’s baby on Saturday morning, it both hit us that we’d be holding our own little life-changer in just 9 short weeks.  It’s impossible to fathom.  I just keep praying that she will be healthy and “normal” and full of happiness and that she’ll be a good baby and that we’ll be good parents.

Tonight we also shared a meal at Las Brisas, a nice steakhouse outside of town, and then laughed and cried (both of us!) at this video while sitting in our car in the Target parking lot:

Matt wants to set up some sort of email for Olive so that he can write her letters and I adore that idea.  How lucky she will be to have a father who is so interested in her and loves her so much.  How lucky I am to have that kind of husband.

We spent the rest of our evening scrap-booking about our trip to France (finally got it done!), eating chocolate chip cookies and just being together.  Every day is exactly how I want it if Matt is here with me.  Soon there will be more love to share.

 

Olive what?

We’re having trouble thinking of the perfect middle name to go with Olive.  Olive  is perfect and a middle name somehow makes it less perfect (with our current contenders.)  Matt’s even gone as far as to suggest going the Harry S. Truman route and having just an initial be her middle name.  (not really, but kinda)

Current contenders:

Ruth
Allison (this used to be the front runner but now I’m starting to fall out of love)

aaaaaand that’s it.  Noel has been thrown out there – I kinda like it, although I think something more common would be fitting for such a unique first name.   Ruth was such an impressive woman in the Bible.  So strong willed and sure of herself and of her God.  Allison would honor Matt’s great grandpa, Allison Cummings and my niece, Kari Alyson, who was the first grandchild in our immediate family (and kind of everyone’s favorite gal.)

WHAT TO DO?!

The Happy Haps

So we have a little girl on the way, due in March! I am currently 30 weeks and only have 10 to go! I go from being really content to really freaked out, about every other day. It’s so much to think about owning a little human. To be the reason she eats, grows, thrives, learns and becomes a good person is a weight I don’t think I can fully carry. Good thing God gave me Matt. He’s been so amazing through this pregnancy and I know now for sure why God placed us together. He is my best friend and the strength I need to get me through most days. I know he’s going to be an amazing father and I can’t wait to see that.

There are so many plans still to do! I need to get the nursery figured out and I need to do some spring cleaning. January is blessedly blank for me, work-wise, so I can devote some good hours to making this house baby-ready.

I just wanted to write on this blog again to remind myself that we have this domain name and we might as well use it for all things occurring in the Palmer house. Recipes, future baby pics (a freakin’ ton of them), updates on life and family, and generally just things that us and maybe 3 or 4 other people might find interesting as well 🙂

Cook & Tell: Five Spice Elk Loin

Five Spice Elk LoinThis week’s theme was cooking from the pantry, which I’m sure for most people means cooking with staples. For me, it was an opportunity to use something that’s been sitting in our freezer for months: elk.

We don’t cook a lot of game, but occasionally we get a few pieces of whatever my Dad brings home from his hunting trips. I’d never had elk and wasn’t completely sure what to do with it, which was a big part of why it spent so long in the freezer. I thought of the fabulous deer chops at Lonesome Dove, and Dale’s incredible looking elk loin from the Top Chef 3 finale and figured I’d try something similar—spice rubbed and pan fried with a simple sauce.

I did a little research and the USDA assured me that properly frozen food remains safe indefinitely, and storage time is really only a question of taste. I moved the loin to the fridge to defrost and checked for freezerburn, discoloration, or strange odors the next day. Everything looked good!

We didn’t have any star anise on hand, but we did have some Five Spice Blend (another ingredient I’ve been meaning to use), which includes star anise, cinnamon, clove, fennel, and white pepper. To play up the Asian flavors in the rub I added some ground coriander, and a bit of chili powder to give it some of that Western cowboy flavor.

I served the elk with a side of Great Northern beans pureed with a bit of rosemary and olive oil. It all looked good, but having never cooked it before I was fully prepared for the elk to be awful. Thankfully everything turned out well – the elk was a nice medium rare, had a bit of that gamey flavor, and went well with the sauce. The rosemary was a nice addition to the beans, although I was initially worried I had used a bit too much.

Without the challenge this week I’m sure I would have declared “we don’t have anything for dinner” and we would have headed out to the store—and who knows how long it would have been before we ever tried the elk. So take a look in your freezer—you might be surprised what you can make!

Five Spice Elk Loin

  • 4 pieces sliced elk loin
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • For the rub:
    • Five Spice
    • Ground coriander
    • Chili powder
    • Salt + pepper
  • For the sauce:
    • 1 cup red wine
    • 1/2 cup Madeira
    • 1 sprig fresh tyme
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 2 tablespoons butter

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Rub the elk with the spice blend and sear on all sides. Remove elk and allow it to rest while you make the sauce. Deglaze the pan with the red wine and Maderia and add the herbs. Allow the mixture to reduce by half, then remove from the heat and swirl in the butter. Strain the sauce.

Rosemary white bean puree

  • 1 can Great Northern beans
  • Leaves from 1/4 sprig rosemary
  • Drizzle extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Heat the beans and rosemary together and blend, drizzling in a little olive oil. Add salt as needed.

Weekend Cook and Tell: Roast Eye of Round

Roast BeefI always love to cook something interesting on the weekend, so I was excited to see Serious Eats’ new Weekend Cook and Tell project. Each week they’ll select an article or recipe to use as inspiration for a weekend cooking project. I think having a selected theme will help me branch out and try some things I might not have otherwise, and I hope it will help get me in the habit of writing regularly.

This week’s theme is “Off cuts,” taken from the NY Times article “It May Be Cheap, but It’s Also Tasty.” I think “off cuts,” which suggests things that you might spot Bourdain (or for the truly “off,” Zimmern) advocating on the Travel channel, isn’t quite the right term—the article is really about inexpensive, overlooked cuts of meat. While these pieces are usually tougher than more expensive cuts, I think they’re often more flavorful (a skirt steak is never going to be as tender as a fillet, but the fillet doesn’t have the flavor to make a good fajita either). Learning about these cheap, overlooked cuts is a great way to help the growing number of people who are looking to cut their grocery budget — some of the best dishes in the world came from poor people trying to make the most of the only meat they could afford.

In the article, Carlo Mirarchi, chef/owner of Roberta’s pizza in Brooklyn, suggested

searing the $3.99-a-pound supermarket eye round and marinating it overnight in red wine, rosemary, sage and black pepper. Then it can be roasted rare and sliced, cold, as thin as possible for sandwiches.

It sounded great to me, and the thought of having lunch for most the week taken care of sealed the deal. It turns out eye of round is only $2.99 per pound here, making this even more economical.

Marinated eye of round roast with red wine reduction

  • Eye of round roast (mine was 2 lbs – just $6!)
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • Handful fresh sage
  • Red wine to cover (amount depends on size of roast – do what we do and just get a box of cheap red wine for cooking and don’t worry about the precise amount)
  • Salt, pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil

Heat oil over medium-high heat, then season the roast with salt and pepper and sear on all sides. Allow the roast to cool slightly then place into a plastic bag with the herbs and enough red wine to cover the meat. Refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat your oven to 350°. Put the roast and the marinade in a roasting pan or oven-proof skillet and roast until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the roast measures 140°. Burn your finger really bad on the thermometer. Remove the roast and allow it to rest before slicing. Heat the marinading liquid and roasting juices over high heat and reduce by half. Remove the pan from the heat and swirl in a tablespoon of butter. Strain to remove any chunks.

Slice the roast thinly and drizzle with the reduction – makes great sandwiches, or serve over arugula and top with Parmesan for a nice salad.

Food on Sticks: Thai Meatballs

Thai Meatballs

Thai Meatballs

We wonder if there is any food that can not be improved by putting the word “Thai” in its name?  Thai Basil Chicken, Thai Curry, Thai noodles, Thai hoe cakes (for a future post!) Perhaps it’s the combination that Thai food presents in each dish – a perfect balance of sweet, salty, spicy and sour.  Maybe there is something magical about peanut oil – whatever it is, we love it and these Thai meatballs are no exception.  Plus, we’ll make any sauce that calls for Sriracha.

This recipe says to cook on a grill but seeing as though it’s mighty cold outside, you can use a cast iron grill on the stove like ours.  Or, if you’re not even that fancy, we suppose you could just pan fry.  And if you think they might be too spicy for your delicate palate, our friend, Trevor, self proclaimed sissy pants when it comes to heat, went back for seconds.

An alternative sauce that is equal in deliciousness is sweet soy (kind of like an Asian molasses) and can be found in most Asian food markets.

Thai Beef Rolls with Sweet Chili Sauce
– serves 6 –
Adapted from Weber’s Charcoal Grilling: The Art of Cooking With Live Fire by Jamie Purviance and Tim Turner.

Ingredients

For the sauce:
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon thinly sliced green onions
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons Sriracha

For the filling:
1 pound ground chuck (80% lean)
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon finely chopped Thai chilies
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 bunch of Thai basil
12 wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes

Procedure
1. Mix all the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl until the sugar has dissolved.

2. In a large bowl, gently combine the ground chuck with the rest of the filling ingredients.

3. Shape a tablespoon of the filling into a small log. Wrap 1 basil leaf around the beef and thread onto a skewer. Repeat until all of the filling is gone.

4. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread coals out evenly over the charcoal grate.

5. Clean and oil the cooking grate. Grill the rolls until the filling is fully cooked and slightly firm, about 6 to 8 minutes, turning once during cooking. Serve immediately with the dipping sauce.

As seen on Serious Eats.