Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Marrying A Peruvian

My almost husband, Mike, is Peruvian.  And not just a tiny bit Peruvian, but his mother was actually born and raised in Lima, Peru.  I have loved learning about Mike's Peruvian heritage, which is so different from my own. 

When Mike and I first started dating, he kept telling me about this tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurant that was right by my apartment that him and his mom loved going to because they served authentic Peruvian cuisine.  When we finally went, Mike ordered his favorite Peruvian dinner, Lomo Saltado.  He raved about this dish and would talk about his mom and grandma made this for him when he was a kid.  I always knew that to be the best wife to Mike, I had to learn how to make a mean lomo saltado.  Partially to be able to prepare his favorite dinner and also to pass on his Peruvian heritage to our children.

Mike's mom helped me a bit with putting together a recipe and the other night I whipped it up.  Voila!  It was actually pretty simple and Mike said it was near perfect.  Win!  Here's a real Peruvian lomo saltado recipe:

Ingredients (this is approximate to what I used and it made 4 portions)
-flank steak (you can use a cheap steak) cut into thin strips
-about 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1 red onion
-2 large tomatoes
-french fries (I used about 1/2 bag of the frozen french fries and prepared them per package instructions, Mike's mom said that she sometimes uses McDonald's french fries, or you could fry your own potatoes)
-about 1 tbsp. ketchup

First I cut up the steak into thin strips.  I would actually cut them more thinly than you see in the picture above, that was one of the corrections Mike asked me to make next time.  Put the steak strips into a large bowl with the red wine vinegar and the garlic.  I used about 2 tbsp. of vinegar, but eyeballed it so that all of the steak was sitting in vinegar, but not drowning in it.

I let the steak sit for a bit in the vinegar while I cut up the onion and tomatoes and prepared the fries.  If you are using frozen fries, you want them to get a bit crispier in the oven so they don't get soggy when mixed with everything else.  Cut the onions and tomatoes into strips (DO NOT chop up into tiny pieces, they should be the same shape as the french fries).  Also finely chop the cilantro.

Heat a large wok skillet on high heat.  If you don't have a wok, use your largest frying pan, but you might have to work the steak in a couple of batches.  Once the heat is high, put the steak in and pour the vinegar mixture over it.  You want to use all of the vinegar in the pan.  Cook the meat through.

When the steak is cooked, take that out of the pan and put it on a clean plate.  Leave the juices in the bottom of the pan and throw in the onions.  Once the onions start to turn translucent, put in the tomatoes and french fries.  You want to cook these for a bit, tossing them in the pan juices and then put the steak back in the pan. Mix everything together (do this gently as you don't want anything to break).  

Once everything is mixed, do a couple turns of the pan with ketchup.  It's probably about a tbsp.  Then you want to mix that all together.  The ketchup and remaining juices thicken to make a sauce.

Serve it up on your cutest plates and put some cilantro on top.  

I think traditionally this would be served with rice.  If you haven't tried lomo saltado, try it.  It's so good and a different meal for your loved ones.  Plus, who doesn't love steak and potatoes? 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Sense and Sensibility

Jane Austen is boring me.  Is that really terrible?  I mean, is that something that's almost unforgivable?  Because I feel like I should never be forgiven for being bored by Jane Austen.  However, it's the truth and I am nothing if not a truth speaker. 

I thought Sense and Sensibility was boring.  Or, at least, not as good as Pride & Prejudice.  Part of my issue is that I don't totally understand the English society issues of the late 18th century, so sometimes it takes me awhile to figure out what in the hell is going on.  For instance, there are a lot of "offensive" things that happen in the book that really don't seem that offensive.  So, the "offensive" thing happens, but you don't really know it's offensive until 5 pages later Austen tells you that a particular event was, indeed, offensive.  Then you have to go back and re-read about the "offensive" event so that you can figure out why it was offensive.  Tired yet?  

Towards the end, I got really into the story of who would end up with who, but it took a long time to get there.  The characters are endearing and yo do care about them, but not in the way that you care about the Bennett sisters.  

3/5 or 7/10 stars.  I read this book a year ago and must have really liked it when I finished it because in Shelfari, I gave it a 4/5 stars.  After a year's worth of thought, I'm devaluing it.   

BTW, are we all watching the Olympics?  I've become obsessed.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Things I Don't Understand

Here's a list of things that are bothering me:
  • Kate Middleton, Fashion Icon.  I am not saying that Kate Middleton isn't gorgeous and doesn't have fabulous clothes.  Because she is and she does.  Plus, she's got beautiful hair and a gorgeous figure.  However, I don't think she's slapped us in the face with her fashion sense.  I think she was actually more fashionable prior to marrying into the royal family.  I loved her in her flat boots and skinny jeans or wrap dresses.  These days it's basically her in a shift dress with nude heels.  It's boring me.  I'm hoping that she amps it up for the Olympics, but for now I think it's too early to be calling her an icon.
  • Ombre nails.  I've seen this trending for awhile now and I don't totally understand it.  When I first heard about it, I thought it would be an ombre effect on one nail, but it's actually painting each nail a different color.  First, that would take a lot of time.  Second, you'd have to buy a lot of nail polish to keep this up.  Third, if you're really going for the ombre look, are you really achieving that by painting each nail a different color?  Because how often are people looking at your nails all together?  People might see a thumbs up, or a middle finger, or a pointing finger, but when do they ever get a whole hand?  And if you are still giving people a "talk to the hand", then your problems are worse than your nails.
  • Target.  I really love Target, but some days it just makes me angry.  They don't carry Traiminic medicine anymore.  Triaminc medicine, while for children, is the only thing that I take when I'm sick.  It's a miracle medicine.  Why would you discontinue it?  And they don't even have an Up & Up brand replacement.  Also, Target has been really stingy on bagging your things with paper bags.  Before you start yelling at me, normally I do bring my own reusable bags into Target and other grocery stores.  However, there are times where I forget and at Target they just start bagging your items into their plastic bags and if you ask for paper, you get a look.  I don't appreciate the look. 
  • Fall TV.  Last year, a few of my favorite shows weren't renewed.  The Secret Circle, GCB.  And while I have plenty of TV shows to watch, I always love adding new things to the mix.  I've seen some previews for the new fall shows and I feel very Meh about it.  Really, is that the best they've got?
  • KStew.  First, you're a terrible actress.  Now you've proven yourself to be a terrible actress who is also a real dumbo.  At least you're pretty. 
Okay, enough whining.  Today I have lots to be excited for.  The Olympics are here.  If you need to find me in the next two weeks, try my couch.  I don't plan on moving from it.  I love how the world's largest sporting event turns me into a real couch potato.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Secret Garden

My gardens have been amazing this summer. I've had some fails.  My anemones haven't flowered yet, I planted 12 morning glories and only one is still climbing the fence, the celosia and double impatiens that I planted are dying for reasons unknown to me.  However, the victories have far outweighed all the things that have gone wrong.  Take a peek:

First came the tulips.  I had tons this year.  This pretty pink and white one was my favorite!

Next came the peonies.  I love peonies and the flowers did not disappoint this year.

Then the day lilies started going.  We have 5 different day lily plants and 2 regular lilies.  Our neighborhood bunny rabbit ate one of the lilies early this spring, so that one didn't make it to bloom this year.  The red ones are my favorites.

Finally, we come to my favorite part of gardening, the produce.  The previous owners of our house planted numerous raspberry bushes in one side garden.  They are awesome.  They are both spring producing and "fall" producing, so we had an abundance of raspberries this spring until early July and now the "fall" raspberries have started.  Here's a sampling of the crop:
Awesome, right.  It's funny because we found out that Kirby is obsessed with raspberries.  Every time I'd bring my pickings into the house he'd go nuts trying to sniff them.  Mike finally looked up whether dogs could eat raspberries and the internets said they were actually good for dogs, so we gave him one as a treat and he was obsessed.  Now when we really want to get his attention we say "Raspberry" and he sits immediately.

We also planted grape tomatoes and peppers. 

We have had insane luck with both the tomatoes and peppers.  Our grape tomato plant actually toppled over during a windstorm.  We were never able to get it to stand up again, so now it's literally laying in the dirt, but still producing grape tomatoes. 

For the peppers, we went a little bit nuts.  We planted 32 pepper plants.  We have peppers coming out of our ears at this point.  Mike and I both like spicy food, so we use peppers in everything.  Because of the heat this summer, the peppers have thrived and are way more intense than they normally would be.  We have these little red peppers called super chiles that are so hot.  I am scared to taste our habaneros. 

With all of the wedding planning, gardening has been a great way to relax.  I love going outside with Mike and watering or picking the peppers and raspberries.  BTW, if anyone needs peppers, please let me know!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Muppet Vision 3D

I was always a huge Muppets fan.  Beaker and Professor Honeydew are my favorite characters.  I used to have all of these Muppet cassette tape story books that I would listen to over and over (This screams child of the 80's to me).  When I would hear Beaker's famous meeps, I would usually rewind so that I could listen to it again.  I really connect with Beaker.  In fact, one of Mike's nicknames for me is Beaker because in the mornings I don't like to speak words, so I've developed a system of hums to accurately get my feelings across.  Mike is like my very own Professor Honeydew.

At Disney's Hollywood Studios, Muppet Vision 3D is an interactive movie.  For some reason, this is one of those attractions that I never think about unless I'm right on top of it and then it's always "I guess we can go in."  It just doesn't excite me that much.  However, once it starts, I am reminded that it's actually a very funny and cute 3D movie that people of all ages can enjoy.

The thing that works about Muppet Vision 3D is that they really go for the 3D gags.  What is the point of a 3D movie if things aren't flying at my face?  This is what I still don't understand about today's 3D movies.  What's the point?  Plus, I hate wearing those goggles during a 2 hour movie.  Anyone else with me?

Back to the Muppets.  The movie is one 3D gag after another, but there's also interactive portions and a pull-at-your-heartstrings storyline.  The reason the movie hasn't been changed for 20 years is because it's so freaking cute!  Don't be like me and pass the Muppets by, this attraction is a hidden gem, plus it's air-conditioned. 

On a side note, I've talked before about how Hollywood Studios has a really bizarre layout and that there are some areas that you would totally miss if you weren't a slave to the guidemap.  Muppet Vision 3D is one of these areas.  So, if you swear you've walked around the entire park and haven't found it, pull out the map. 

4/5 or 8/10 stars for this attraction.  It's sweet, cute, funny, what's not to love?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Those Stamps Don't Go With My Outfit

In college, my friend Kara swears that one day I asked her for a piece of gum and when she asked me why I told her that chewing gum would really go with my outfit.  Which I don't remember, but don't deny because it's totally something that I would say. 

Which is why these stamps are really pissing me off.
Allow me to explain.  In a couple of months, I will be sending out the invitations for the wedding.  With the wedding, I really wanted to create an ambiance that said "modern fall preppy."  The invites are the first thing that people will see for the wedding, so I really wanted it to evoke the feeling of the wedding.  I ended up having the invites custom done (I will blog about these details after the wedding in a post that is much more cheery because the invites turned out AWESOME) so that the colors and design would be exactly right. 

I can't show you the invites until after the wedding, but I will describe them as bright, colorful and most definitely modern and preppy. 

So, today I toddled over to the U.S. Post Office to get stamps for my modern, preppy and beautiful invitations.  First, they weighed the invite and gave me some pretty wedding appropriate .65 cent stamps.  Perfect!  Next, I gave them the RSVP card and said that I will need postcard stamps for that.  The cashier measured it and said that yes, indeed, I could use the .32 cent stamps for the RSVP cards.

One problem.  The .32 cent stamps only come in one, tacky design.  Aloha, Hawaiian shirts!  Are you freaking kidding me???  I couldn't believe that this was the ONLY option.  I asked if they just had the standard flag .32 cent stamp, but they don't.  They only have postcard stamps in Hawaiian shirts. 

I realize the need to be logical here.  A regular stamp is .45 cents and I need 150 of them, so I'm saving .13 cents per stamp.  I realize that spending .13 cents more for a stamp just because of the design is not thrifty.  But, holy Hannah, could you find some design that was a bit more generic?

The Post Office employee told me that the "rational bride" would go for cost saving over aesthetics.  I felt like I was being lectured at the post office, so I bought them.  Now I'm having buyer's remorse. 

Please tell me, how terrible are these stamps?