Toilets and the Men Who Use Them: A Rant

In CategoryNavel Gazing

I was reading Tracy at Just Another Mommy Blog this morning, and she was talking about keeping her house clean. And then she said something about bathrooms and man-pee.

That’s when my head began to pound and the room went black. Then red. Because OH MY GOSH WITH THE PEE!

Seriously – what is the deal? We are talking about a hole a foot in diameter, and it’s only a couple feet from the business end of the . . . ah . . . business. Maybe if they actually PAID ATTENTION to what they are doing, it wouldn’t go everywhere. I walked past the bathroom once and my husband was LOOKING OUT THE WINDOW.


One mystery solved.

Forget separate sinks in a bathroom. I can share a sink. I want separate toilets. NO! Separate bathrooms entirely! Separate houses! I could live in a tiny guest house in the backyard where no other humans are allowed. Imagine — no muffin crumbs, no dirt, no football, no man-pee . . .

It’s probably what heaven is like.

At the very least I should get one of those wall-mounted toilets like they have in WalMart. No pressing your face against the side of the toilet to scrape the pee out from behind it, just mop underneath. And instead of a rug, throw down one of those disposable paper drop clothy thingys like they put in your car when you go to the mechanic. Toss it in the trash at the end of the day!

Or how about a bathroom that is completely tiled and waterproof, with a big sprayer in the ceiling and a drain in the floor? I can just spray scalding hot water everywhere to clean it. Like a car wash. Or a dishwasher. Or something. Just as long as it doesn’t involve me being in close proximity to dried pee.

I don’t know why I’m not rich. Look at all these terrific ideas.

*Did I say “toilet” too many times? No? TOILET.

Knock-Off Beef Burgundy

In CategoryCooking

A while back I bought some Mediterranean Beef Skewers. They were seriously on sale and it seemed like they would be handy to have in the freezer. However, they taste very strongly of rosemary –  which it turns out, I don’t really like. 

Naturally, I don’t want to waste the meat, so I decided to use it in my knock-off version of Beef Burgundy. I don’t make that very often because the recipe calls for cooking a bunch of bacon and then browning the meat in the bacon grease. I don’t care for browning large batches of meat – it’s messy and gets grease everywhere. It can also be very time consuming when cooking large quantities. 

Note: I do not have a problem with bacon. Bacon Makes It Better. Remember that.

But the other day when I decided to use the Mediterranean beef, I figured we might as well grill it since it’s already on skewers. I could avoid the messy browning of the meat, assemble the stew as usual and continue cooking it in the oven. Plus, the smoky grill flavor might be a yummy added dimension. 

It was TO DIE. Seriously. I might even order more of the skewers I don’t even like, just to make this stew. 

Awesome Knock-Off Beef Burgundy 

  • 3 boxes Mediterranean Beef Skewers, grilled (about 6.5 pounds of meat)
  • 2 lbs bacon, diced and fried
  • 1 lb mushrooms
  • 2 white onions, diced*
  • ½ cup flour
  • 30 ounces tomato paste
  • 3 32-ounce boxes beef broth
  • 1 bottle Tisdale Shiraz (cheapie red wine recommended by Emeril himself)
  • 4 bay leaves

Get two really deep disposable tin foil roasters – mine were 9 x 11 x 4 inches deep. Put half the bacon and half the meat into the bottom of each roaster. In a pan on top of the stove, sauté the mushrooms and onions together in a little bit of oil (or bacon grease). Pour half the mushroom/onion mixture over the meat in each roasting pan. Add 2 bay leaves to each pan. 

Wisk the remaining ingredients together thoroughly, except one box of beef broth. It might be very thick. Feel free to add in the reserved broth, some V-8, or even some water. Pour half of the mixture into each casserole dish. Stir to combine, cover with foil and bake at 350° for 1.5 hours. (I put my roaster pans on cookie sheets to help me get them in and out of the oven) Uncover, stir, and bake uncovered an additional 1.5-ish hours or until meat is super tender. Stir occasionally. Depending on how thick you want the gravy, pour in the reserved beef broth until you get the desired consistency. Serve over egg noodles or mashed potatoes. 

Obviously not everyone is going to have 7 pounds of skewers in their freezer, waiting to be turned into a delicious stew. But you could easily chunk some stew meat, and either marinate it in a rosemary salad dressing before putting it on skewers and grilling it, or do what my original recipe calls for and fry the meat in batches in the bacon grease. 

The sauce was VERY thick and rich, so next time I’ll probably use less tomato paste. Maybe I’ll even cut it down by half and use V-8 juice along with the beef broth for the liquid. I had originally intended to quarter some red potatoes and cook them in the stew, but the roasting pans were so full, there wasn’t any room. 

The method was not dissimilar to the Irish Beef and Stout stew I made the other day. The flavor was totally different though. I am more of a method cook than a recipe cook. The idea of a beef stew cooked in the oven for several hours could have all sorts of ingredients – use beer instead of wine, use V-8 instead of tomato paste, leave out the mushrooms and add carrots… the possibilities are endless. And it turned out to be a great way to use some meat I had in the freezer. 

I was thrilled to put 9 quarts of this delicious stew in the freezer. Let me know if you try this!

* Actually they were puréed in my Magic Bullet to accomodate my husband and his Onion Issues. I wrote diced, because I assume that’s how normal people would do it.

Boys and Girls…

In CategoryNavel Gazing

Here are some things I have noticed about my son (5) and my daughter (3).
My son does not use toys for their intended purpose. Blocks are not blocks, they are concrete to be stirred up in a bucket and poured out in the middle of the floor, or birdseed to be scattered (also all over the floor). A pretend shopping cart is the foundation of a big tower to be climbed, once a chair and the aforementioned bucket are stacked on it. The vacuum is the coolest thing ever, and when he was ONE, he casually dismantled it as we were walking past.  

He cannot find anything he is looking for, even if he is standing right on it. (If you have a husband, you may be familiar with this phenomenon. My husband once was looking for something and couldn’t find it even after I told him it was on the kitchen counter. I walked into the kitchen, found it exactly where I said it was, and handed it to him. He actually said that it was my fault, since I said it was by the stove, not the microwave….which was an entire distance of three feet. He also has accused me of hiding things, so I can later swoop in like a hero and “find” them. Seriously.) I am continually amazed at my son’s ability to understand how to take things apart, put them together, and his endless imagination for construction stories (which are themselves, also endless). 

He will not rest until he squeezes every drop of information out of us on any given subject. He regularly gets into bed with me early in the morning, questions pouring out of his mouth almost faster than he can articulate them. A few months ago, he stayed up an hour past his bedtime, badgering me about how babies come out, until I finally broke down and drew pictures of ovaries and a uterus; a placenta and umbilical cord.
My girl, on the other hand, can occupy herself quietly for entire minutes in a row with her books, her crayons, or her dollhouse. When she was two, she could draw a better circle than her four year old brother. Not only does she know where all her toys are and her sippy is; she also somehow remembers where all her brother’s things are, and often will toddle off to retrieve them while he and I are still in the middle of the “I don’t know, where did you leave it?” conversation. She also learned how to use a spoon and fork before she turned two, whereas he was three. 

She amazes me with how caring she is, asking “you ok?” every time someone sneezes or says ouch. She likes to climb up in my lap and whisper secrets in my ear, and stare intently into my eyes. When she turned three, and we were encouraging her to do new things, we would always say, “you can do it – you’re Big Three now!” Once, when I offered her ketchup with her dinner, she waved her hand dismissively at me and said, “Big Three don’t LIKE it” and I almost peed my pants laughing. She went on to refer to herself in the third person as Big Three for about six months. “Big Three wants some JUICE!”
I was so nervous about having a boy. I only had a sister, never babysat, and had zero experiences with males other then my husband and father, who were grown when I met them (mostly). But when Big got here….he is the light of my life. All that stuff about mothers and sons is true. He totally digs me, and it fills my heart. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I fretted inside about whether I could ever love anyone as much as I loved my son; my true love. 

I did, of course. One day when she was only a few weeks old and I was bathing her, I suddenly had an image of us doing girly things together – playing with our hair, giggling over nail polish colors. Turns out, she is also my true love. Her first word was “hair.” Her second word was “shoes.”

Irish Beef and Stout Stew – Sort Of

In CategoryCooking

We have been ordering steak from Big Name Mail Order Meat Company for several years. Jim and I will grill some little filets on weekends for our We Have Kids Now at-home date nights. They have a sale a couple times a year and I stock up. 


The last couple of batches we have gotten have not been up to their usual standards. Our favorite little 4 ounce bacon-wrapped filets have been truly awful. Like, I would send this back in a restaurant awful. The beef is livery tasting and the bacon seems almost rancid. I’m sorry Big Name Meat – we have enjoyed a long and delicious relationship, but I am afraid we need to move on. 

It’s not us, it’s you. 

I am not the kind of girl who can just pitch a bunch of filet mignon because it doesn’t taste great when it’s grilled. No. So I checked my cookbooks and cruised the internets until I decided that Irish Beef Stew sounded like just the ticket. A nice long braise in the oven with some strong Guinness ought to take care of it. 

I read enough recipes to get the basic idea, and headed to the liquor store, where I was rudely awakened to the fact that beer is kind of expensive. I bought some cheap-ass inexpensive red wine for my fancy pants Beef Burgundy (more on that later) and the beer was twice as much. 

I chickened out on the Guinness. I don’t like beer and I thought it might be too strong – maybe even bitter. So I got Heineken instead. 

I defrosted the steaks, removed and discarded the bacon*, and cut the meat into 1 ½ inch cubes. I ended up with about 5 pounds of meat. 

I roughly followed this recipe from Martha Stewart. Except I used Heineken, changed the amounts of the liquids, and puréed the onions**. 

Irish Beef and Stout Stew – Sort of 

  • 5 pounds beef, cut into cubes
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 18 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 medium white onions, diced
  • 2-ish tablespoons garlic paste
  • 3 32-ounce boxes beef broth (use two, reserve one)
  • 2 bottles Heineken
  • Salt and pepper
  • Red potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
  • Handful baby carrots 

Get two really deep disposable tin foil roasters – I think mine were 9 x 11 x 4 inches deep. Put half the meat into each roaster. Wisk the remaining ingredients together thoroughly, except the potatoes, carrots, and one box of beef broth. Pour half of the mixture into each casserole dish. Stir to combine, cover with foil and bake at 350° for 1.5 hours. (I placed my roasting pans on cookie sheets to help me lift them in and out of the oven) Uncover, stir, and add the carrots and potatoes. Bake uncovered an additional 1.5-ish hours or until potatoes are done. Stir occasionally. Depending on how thick you want the gravy, pour in the reserved beef broth until you get the desired consistency. 

You could easily cut the ingredients in half and make a smaller batch, but I am all about leftovers. We ate dinner and put 8 quarts in the freezer. My picky eater reviewer said “I LOVE this and I want you to make it like this EVERY TIME!” I am taking that as two thumbs up. 

I think next time I will be brave and put a stronger beer in it, and maybe a smidge more flour to make it thicker. Other than that it turned out great. Plus it was EASY, since it did not call for browning the meat first. Just chuck everything in the oven for 3 hours and walk away. That’s my kind of cooking. 

*I really want to describe this bacon as flaccid. flaccid…flaccid…FLACCID! It’s just funny. 

** I have to purée onions because my husband will file for divorce if he sees an actual piece of onion in anything. He has Issues. It’s my mother-in-laws fault.