Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Excuse me, please, and thank you

One of the things we've tried to teach the kids from the start are excuse me, please, and thank you. You say excuse me when you're interrupting someone or you want someone's attention (not "Excuuuuuuse me!", the polite "Excuse me?"). You say please when you'd like someone to do something. You say thank you if someone has done something for you (or something you generally appreciate).

These words are more than just polite manners (this isn't like keeping your elbows off the table). They inform how we view the world. By using please, thank you, and excuse me you're acknowledging the other person, and re-enforcing your empathy and compassion towards them. You're saying "I understand that you are a person with your own plans, thoughts, and feelings, and I respect that."

I'm hopeful that the kids, as they grow up, will continue to use these words even if they aren't face to face with someone. If everyone kept "excuse me, please, and thank you" in mind while driving, for instance, there'd be a lot less problems with traffic. The internet would be much better if people used these words in earnest instead of in sarcasm.

It's essential that our kids know that they are important, and have a sense of their own self worth; it's equally essential that they know that they aren't the center of the universe and that other people are also important. Excuse me, please, and thank you are good steps to remembering the humanity of others.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Jambalaya - chicken, shrimp, pork, sausage, seafood, whatever

Photo by liz west
I know there are tons of recipes for jambalaya out there; this is the one we use (and put up by popular demand). One thing you'll notice with our recipe is that we puree the vegetables. This is a good way of hiding the veggies from the kids so that they don't even know that they're eating them.


Makes enough to serve 6ish, depending on people's appetites. The nice thing is you can sub a pound of whatever for the chicken and or shrimp; often I'll make a braised pulled pork several hours or the day before, rubbing it with the spice mix and then braising it in a little water at 350 until it was fall apart tender (6ish hours), and then add it when I'd usually add the meat. For seafood, chicken, and tender cuts of pork, you'll want to add it raw when the recipe says.

  • 8oz raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined
  • 8oz chicken breast, cut into 2 inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregeno cut fine (for dried 1/2 teaspoon powdered)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, crushed (for dried 1/2 teaspoon powdered)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder (or whatever your favorite hot pepper powder is)
  • 1 andouille sausage, chopped
  • 1/2 large yellow onion
  • 1 large red bell pepper (or two. Really. Can't have too many red peppers.)
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • 6 roma tomatoes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (I recommend Bourbon Barrel Worcestershire sauce, it's YUM)
  • 2 teaspoons Louisiana hot sauce (Franks is probably the most well known, but any Louisana style that you like would be fine)
  • 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
  • 5 cups chicken stock
 Mix together spices and coat meat in it; set aside (if using more/other meat, just use about a teaspoon per lb). Puree onion, pepper, and celery in food processor and saute in large stock pot over medium heat for about four minutes. Meanwhile, puree the tomatoes. Add garlic, tomatoes, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce, and cook for 4-5 minutes longer. Add rice and chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add meat and sausage and cook 12 minutes more. Serve in bowls.