Bullocks with Butterflie Wings

Never Give Up

Posted in cooking, food, Korea, military by MommyTaco on 17 March 2013

894900_10151281703917035_1691354965_oFor the most part, this past week was one of those that I’d prefer to forget ever happened, rather than write down in any type of journal. I was full of all types of emotional instability, sprouting from a difficult start on homeschooling on Monday. Add in the fact that my husband was gone all week with work, our first week in our new home, and a whole lot of feeling lonely and sorry for myself. I was badly missing my friends that would always be there to cheer me up whenever he was gone. I’m not going to lie to you, I flat out lost it on Monday. I was a mess.

Finally, on Thursday, good things had started to happen and I was starting to feel mostly better. I also had something to look forward to that day: Pie Day! (March 14th, 3/14, aka Pi Day) For Pie Day, I planned to use my new Korean oven for the first time and bake a cherry pie. It required minimal effort, minimal ingredients – all of which I can find at our minimal commissary – and resulted in a whole lot of awesome. I even went the extra mile and bought some vanilla bean ice cream to go along with it. Hey, it was a rough week, I definitely earned the extra treat.

Now let me start out by emphasizing the fact that not only are things different here in Korea culturally, but stuff flat out works differently. For some reason, I was having some severe issues getting the oven to stay on. I knew it couldn’t possibly be that the pilot light was out, because in Korea they have a gas line that you manually turn on/off to your stove when you are/not using it – for safety! So there is no way a pilot light would stay on when the fuel supply is off…it’s got to be an electric starter. On this oven, you push the temp knob just like you do starting one of the stove top flames. I could hear it click, I could hear the whoosh of the gas catching fire, but as soon as I let go of the knob, it went out. So frustrating!!

I gave up, paced the house in disappointment, and told my son we weren’t going to have pie after all. I’m not sure which of us was more disappointed. I tried once more on the oven, willing the stupid thing to work – and like a gift from God, it stayed on! I danced a jig in sheer delight and began my pie preparations. I had already thawed my frozen pie crust, so I grabbed my $3.99 can opener I’d purchased in the commissary along with the cans of cherry. It was one of those cheap metal can openers that practically cut your hand as much as the can when you crank that awful metal handle. I didn’t want to buy a regular one for $6.99 when I have a perfectly good can opener coming with our household goods in just a few weeks.

One crank on the can opener, good. Two cranks – SNAP!!! It broke. Naturally. The small piece of metal that causes the can to rotate when you crank it had gone flying across my dining room. It was now completely useless to me. Naturally. It just completely fit in with the crappy week I’d already had. I was devastated. I really didn’t feel like going out of the house again to buy a new one, but 1) I really wanted that pie and 2) I couldn’t just leave the can with a 1/4″ hole punctured in it.

So I started looking around for my husband’s trusty gerber, which I have been using in the past two moonths to knife open cans since I didn’t want to buy that $3.99 can opener in the first place. I couldn’t find the gerber anywhere, Taco was still not coming home for two more days, and I couldn’t call to ask where the gerber was. So I tested out a butter knife. I really didn’t think I’d have much luck, but I actually sawed 1/3 of the way around the can before I started to wonder if I was getting aluminum shavings into the pie filling. Also, my hand was starting to seize in a cramp from holding the butter knife like that for so long. I gave up, told my son to get his shoes on – we were going to the PX for a $6.99 can opener. And, not wanting to risk house fire, I turned off the oven, praying it would start up again when we got back.

We went to the PX, got the can opener, made a last minute decision on a bottle of non-ration-controlled wine that I was going to drink all by myself dagnabit, and headed home. Before we even left post, I decided that the frozen lasagna I’d planned for dinner could kiss my you-know-what and we were going to have chicken fried rice and cheesy ramen at our favorite Korean restaurant instead.

Afterwards, we went home and I started the oven after the 4th attempt. I finished the whole bottle of wine before the pie was done. By then, it was way past our bed time, I was too tired to wait for the pie to cool off and decided that we would just have it for breakfast the next day. It was, after all, still Pie Day in America.

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In vol. 9

Posted in blogging, cooking, food, military, travel by MommyTaco on 20 August 2010

Holy cow, I’m actually posting the Q&A on it’s debut day! My apologies to those who read/follow my blog that I haven’t posted anything other than these fill-ins for the last several weeks. Trust me that there is a lot going on in my head, but unfortunately so much that I can’t seem to sit down and wrap my head around any one thing in order to blog it. So for now, this post is again dedicated to Wifey of A Sailor’s MilSpouse Friday Fill-In (which I am seriously loving, btw). Don’t forget to check out Mr Linky on her page so that you can meet/read about the other amazing MilSpouses who participate in this weekly meme!

This week’s questions are extra special since they come from fellow participants, whose blog links are included:

1. If you could be a fugitive from the law for whatever reason, what would your crime be? (from It’s a Hooah Life)
I can’t think of any reason that I would WANT to be a fugitive, but one that I probably SHOULD be in trouble for is speeding. I have a serious lead-foot and can easily shave off 30-45 minutes (minimum) from suggested arrival time on any road trip that I take.

2. How long do you think you will be a military family? (from Julie the Army Wife)
Forever and ever, amen. My belief: once a military family, always a military family – even if your family no longer actively serves in it. It is an experience that makes such an impact on your life that there is no way to erase it. Our plan is for Taco to retire from the military, but we will always be a military family and a part of THE military family as well.

3. What’s your favorite recipe? (from Keep Calm and Soldier On)
Good grief, that is a hard one to nail down! I am gonna have to go with good old rolled dumplings for chicken & dumplings. I really don’t need any chicken or veggies, just the broth & dumplings is enough to keep me quite happy!

4. What would you want your last five words to be when you leave this life? (from My Goal is Simple)
“See you on the flip-side!” (from Boondock Saints)

5. Where do you hope to retire? (from Pennies from Heaven)
I always said that I would like to retire in Colorado, even though I had never actually visited there until a couple of weeks ago. It is still very high on my list but now the glorious state of Washington is a prime candidate, after the trip I took there with one of my besties, MeganDubyuh. All I really want is to live in GREEN, pine tree covered mountains on a nice big plot of land in the middle of nowhere, but close enough to a fairly large city/community for good shopping fixes. I have recently been considering the idea of opening a small bed & breakfast somewhere as well.

“happy” anniversary to me

Posted in cooking, deployment, food, military, parenting by MommyTaco on 30 July 2010

“Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be.”

Five years ago today, I married the love of my life and my very very best friend. I walked down a home-made aisle in my grandparents’ backyard to one of the most beautiful songs of all time – “Grow Old With Me” (originally by John Lennon, but we used the Peter Breinholt cover, which is BEAUTIFUL). My grandfather gave me away on behalf of my family. It was dusk and we had twinkling white lights surrounding the alter and yard (see pic, taken after the ceremony). We were in the presence of family and very close friends, but most importantly, God. I know He has a crazy way of dealing some of the cards in life but it keeps us on the edge of our seats, wondering what is coming up next.

I think that days like this are harder to face alone than the usual birthdays or holidays missed…everyone gets a chance at celebrating their birthday every year. Not everyone is blessed to celebrate their wedding anniversary, and I mean REALLY celebrate it. Also it’s one of those days that not everyone knows so they don’t call or text all day long to wish the day be happy. It really can give the feeling of being forgotten. So…I don’t really know what to say about today, since there’s a lot of obvious mixed feelings involved.

I’m sad because this is the second year (in a row) that we haven’t been together for our anniversary.
I’m sad because this is one of those milestone anniversaries that it would have been freaking awesome to be together for.
I’m sad because I have not been able to talk to him on our anniversary, my time – we chatted last night when it was our anniversary in his current time zone.
I’m sad because I don’t REALLY have anyone to make a half-assed attempt at celebrating it with while he is gone. There is only so much that a 4 year old can understand when you try to explain this kind of day to them.

I’m happy because wow, 5 years have already gone by! It partly seems like it zipped by fast, but then at the same time it feels like we have been together for forever.
I’m happy because even though we have had our share of roller coaster ups and downs, I know that we are in it for real and will do whatever it takes to come together and make it work.
I’m happy that I know he is missing me just as bad as I am missing him.
I’m happy that even though we don’t get to talk every day or even every other day, no matter how long our communication is gapped, we are okay with it and are strong enough to not need to talk every day.
I’m happy that we can live our lives together but still retain our individuality and not be 100% dependent on each other.
I’m happy that the card he mailed me arrived yesterday, so I got to open it first thing this morning (my card to him still hasn’t arrived yet).
I’m happy that he is MY husband!

If it hadn’t been for a prior agreement to help a friend out with childcare at her church during VBS, I probably would have spent the day on my couch crying and feeling completely sorry for myself (that’s still coming, don’t worry). I would not have answered my door or telephone, had anyone actually called. I also originally was to have company for the night with friends traveling through, but they are postponed for the time being, and a raincheck was needed for the dinner entertainment at Peter Piper Pizza with some other friends.

This evening on our way home, The Boy and I went to Albertsons and bought a small carrot cake (for supper, yes…I didn’t feel like cooking), the same kind we had for our reception. I also bought a pack of 7-UP and a tub of pineapple sorbet to make punch, also served at the reception. I think it’s a cute little tradition that we may be able to start every year, whether we are together or not. And hey for nights like this where my better half is on the other side of the globe, what better way to drown my sorrows than with cake and punch? Maybe I’ll even add a little rum to make me feel better.

cooking, out of the box – mac & cheese

Posted in cooking, food, recipes by MommyTaco on 2 March 2010


(sorry the pic is crap-dark, I have poor lighting in my kitchen)

I have decided in order to try to update my blog more frequently, I will try out a new theme which I will call “Cooking, Out of the Box.” I call it this because I try to cook from scratch whenever possible. I am just as guilty as anyone else at buying the occasional Hambuger Helper for days when I am just too tired or unmotivated to come up with dinner ideas, but whenever possible I always try to make things myself. That goes for bread, cookies, muffins, soups, pie crusts, and so much more. The more I control what goes into my food, the more I can control what goes into my tummy. And that, friends, is a GOOD thing!

So to start this out, I am filling a request from one of my BFF’s, @megandubyuh,. Here is my own personal recipe for Mac & Cheese. It’s from one of my many attempts to re-create the wondrous mac & cheese that they have/had on menu at Cotton Patch Café, where I used to be a waitress/cashier/trainer. Their mac & cheese is truly irreplaceable and was one of the only two things that I actually craved when pregnant with my son. Fortunately (or maybe not) my sister was still working there and on Wednesday and Friday nights I looked forward to her bringing home any and all leftover mac & cheese from closing time. I could very well attribute my excess weight gain to the pounds, I kid you not, POUNDS of mac & cheese that I consumed during that time.

I’ve played around with this recipe a few times, but keep going back to the basic cheese sauce. I know most people (including myself) prefer the extra saucy mac & cheese, though nowadays I actually halve mine – trying hard to lose that a fore mentioned pregnancy weight. I haven’t halved it in the recipe below though, I don’t intend to subject my diet upon others!

This is also really great as a casserole base if you were to add some other stuff like bacon, broccoli, diced red bell peppers, ham or chopped cooked chicken breasts. Just make sure you’ve taken proper measures to cook them ahead of time, and use a bigger dish like a 9″x13″ pan to allow for additional content.

Mac & Cheese a la MommyTaco

Ingredients:
1/2 14.5oz box short-cut pasta (elbow, rotini, penne, etc.)
1/2 TBS olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1 TBS minced garlic
4 TBS butter
2 TBS flour
2 cups milk
1/2 cup half & half
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs OR 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. Cook pasta until just past al dente. Drain & set aside into mixing bowl.
2. In medium sauce pan, brown garlic in olive oil. Add onions and sauté. For a sweeter flavor in the finished mac & cheese, cook onions until carmelized. Add onions/garlic to mixing bowl.
3. In same sauce pan, on low heat, melt butter & whisk in flour to create a reux.
4. Whisking *CONTINUOUSLY* – add milk slowly.
5. Add salt & pepper and simmer mixture, continuing to whisk, until a light light sauce is formed (coats inside of pan but not thick like gravy).
6. Mix in cheddar cheese and pour over pasta & onions.
7. Allow to cool about 10 min, in the mean timme preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 1.5 quart baking dish. (Double ingredients for 9″x13″ baking pan).
8. Add beaten eggs & mix thoroughly.
9. Transfer to baking dish and top with bread crumbs or shredded cheese.
10. Cover with lid or foil and bake 30 min. Remove cover and bake 10 minutes.
11. DIG IN!!!