Friday, November 18, 2011

Playing Chopped at the Christensen house

For the last couple of weeks we've been buying a Bountiful Basket every other weekend. Bountiful Baskets is a coop that buys a truckload of fresh produce every other weekend. The produce is supposed to be half fruit and half vegetables, and you buy it by the basket. It's really fresh and a good price, but each time you get a semi-random basket of produce. So, after we get the basket it's a bit like the Food Network show Chopped. We have a basket of ingredients that we have to use to make a meal.

A few weeks ago, our basket included, among other things, limes and sweet potatoes, so I made lime cookies, virgin mojitos and sweet potato fries.

Last week our basket contained some celery, onions and lemons. We decided to make split pea soup from scratch to use the celery and onions. Amy and I knew that a soup with a deep green color and a thick texture would be a big hit with our gastronomically adventurous daughters. (That's sarcasm in case you don't know Abby and Molly very well)

Here's how Abby choked down her poison and maggot flavored soup.

She closed her eyes, pinched her nose shut and waited for me to drop food in her mouth. She would then quickly force it down against her gag reflex and then grab a drink to wash the poison down.

After such a valiant effort she was rewarded with the rest of our Chopped menu, home made Lemon Meringue Pie. Amy made the crust from scratch, we used fresh squeezed lemon juice from our lemons to make the custard, and I made the meringue.

The meringue recipe made a lot more than I had expected.
We tried to spread the mass of meringue over the top of the pie. It ended up more of a rounded top, then the more traditional thin layer with pretty peaks.

Since it was so tall, the meringue didn't really scorch at the tips of the peaks and stay nice and white in the valleys. We got more of an even, overall light brown.

Next time I might need to use a blow torch to get the pretty dark brown peaks.

When we cut into the pie, you can see how tall the meringue is.

After Abby forced down her soup, she was excited for the pie. She took one bite of the lemon custard and declared that it was too sour. But she attacked the meringue and the crust with gusto.

Zeke, maybe you and Abby should share a pie next time we're together...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


This year the kids got to double dip for Halloween. On Friday we had a "Trunk or Treat" at the church. Amy was in charge of portions of it and I was working. So the kids were unsupervised at a party with free candy. There's no way that could be abused...

After loading up on sugar Friday and Saturday night, we carved pumpkins on Sunday night. Each of the kids picked out their own design and drew it on the pumpkin. The parents then cut the tops off and the butchery began. They had so much fun gutting the pumpkins.
Once the pumpkins were gutted, we cut out the designs on the front. I baked the pumpkin seeds for a snack. Once they were done, Molly and Abby each took some seeds. I reminded Molly that she needed to only take one and to make sure she actually liked pumpkin seeds before she took a hand full. She scornfully informed me that she already knew she loved pumpkin seeds and that she would eat everything. She popped one in her mouth to prove her point, bit down, and then quickly spit it in the garbage and walked around "spitting" for several minutes to get the taste out of her mouth.

The kids posing with their pumpkins.

Amy found this great skeleton at the store, so the pumpkins and the skeleton met trick'r'treaters at the front door. We decorated the entry way with webs.
I handed out candy, while Amy took the kids around. All night long, I'd hear groups of kids talking loudly as they walked up the drive way. They were chatting and joking and laughing. I could follow their foot steps as the came up the drive, turned the corner and ......


There are so many kids who are deathly afraid of spiders...

Especially 3 foot long spiders.

Some kids wouldn't even go up to the door. They made their friends ring our doorbell, and then stood in the back of the pack until I opened the door. Then they would meekly stretch out their arms and holding the bag at arms length, look away from the door until I'd given them their candy.

We also put "bloody" foot prints in the front hallway. If anyone asked I told them that a zombie had almost gotten in the house.

While I was scaring trick'r'treaters with the spider, the kids were out getting loot with Amy and some friends.

Abby was a witch with a wart on her nose.

Initially Molly wanted to be a ballerina, then a skeleton ballerina, then a lollipop and finally a skeleton. But she wore her dress shoes, so she could be a pretty skeleton.

Our friend Belin offered to do Thomas' zombie makeup. So we took him over to their house, expecting some pretty standard makeup.

She started with the standard eye make up and bloody scratches on his face. Then she pulled out the wax and started building up cuts and wounds.
She designed an open wound for his chest.

At the end, he looked really gruesome.

All 3 of the kids as they were getting ready to leave.

Our 3 kids went around with Belin's 2 and a kid that she babysits. They were able to cover most of the neighborhood and really got a good sized stash of candy.