Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Shrimp and Grits, sort of

I have made "real" shrimp and grits before. I love them. My mom grew up in the South, so we often had grits as a breakfast side dish growing up. Sometimes sweetened with sugar, a nice companion to salty scrambled eggs; or savory with cheese, which is perfect with any syrup covered breakfast goodness. Grits are almost more of a textural thing, as on their own they don't have much going on. They become more of a vehicle for other flavors, although once you simmer them with liquid and stir in fats such as cream and butter, aromatics such as garlic, shallot, green onion...they become something else all together. They are up there on my comfort food list along with mashed potatoes.
Grits are made from hominy, which is the dried corn kernel after the germ and hull have been removed. Grits are also what the Italians call polenta, which ok there's a slight difference in the type of corn used and a slight textural difference, but essentially is the same thing. When I make a grits dish, I use old-fashioned (not quick-cooking) grits. When I make polenta i use regular old yellow cornmeal. The resulting outcome is similar and in my opinion one could be exchanged for the other. Alton Brown probably did a show about this and there may be some foodies out there who dispute this, but c'est la vie.
Last night I had a windowsill with a small row of happy round ripe tomatoes from my parent's garden. Not enough to make marinara sauce with (and did not feel like blanching, skinning, etc), no peppers or cilantro on hand to make salsa.
They became the supporting role in what I'm calling Shrimp and Grits, sort of. Or Parmesan-Polenta Stuffed Tomatoes with Spicy Shrimp. Whatever...it was good and I'm always happy when I find a good way to use up a food on hand. Here goes:


For the polenta stuffed tomatoes:

1 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. diced shallot (or minced red onion would work or in a total pinch a shake of onion powder)
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups chicken or veg broth
1/2 cup half and half
1 cup yellow corn meal
a pinch each of fresh or dried thyme and rosemary (optional)
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs or so of fresh or dried parmesan cheese
salt & pepper
4 - 8 large tomatoes

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Add the broth, bring to a boil. Add the half and half and then whisk in the polenta in a steady stream while stirring. Reduce the heat to a simmer, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Add the thyme and rosemary and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the polenta is tender, creamy, and thick, 5 mins or so. Remove from the heat and whisk in 1/4 cup of the cheese. Season to taste with s & p.

Preheat oven to 400° F (I used my toaster oven -worked great). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Halve the tomatoes lengthwise and hollow them out. Cut a very thin slice off the bottom of each tomato half so the filled tomato can lie flat without rolling. Arrange the tomatoes on the baking sheet and season them lightly with salt. Fill each tomato half with some of the polenta, mounding just slightly (depending on the size of your tomatoes, you may or may not use all the polenta). Sprinkle the remaining cheese over each. Bake until the tomatoes are soft and cheese is golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

NOTE: If you do not have tomatoes, just make the cornmeal mixture. If you don’t have parmesan, use sharp cheddar! This would be more traditional “shrimp and grits”. Serve the shrimp over the cornmeal/polenta mixture.

For the Shrimp:

1 tsp. Tabasco, Habenaro or other hot sauce (Frank’s is great!); more to taste
½ to 1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce

2-3 Tbs butter

A splash of half and half

Heat 1 Tbs. of the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and season with s & p. Cook until the shrimp is opaque about 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce, stir. Add the remaining 2-1/2 Tbs. butter and a splash of half/half, stir to melt/mix. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more hot sauce.

Make sure to spoon some of the sauce over the polenta tomatoes, yum!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

First Day of School!

Today was Bek's first day of second grade.
Waaahhhh!! I am not one of those moms who can't wait for school to start. Well of course I had the occasional days where I really wanted my solitude and just wanted to go to Target in peace, but for the most part I want to keep him around and even worse I don't want him to grow up! I know it's an inevitable part of parenting and possibly even unhealthy to want such things, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. It's not the milestone like first grade or kindergarten was, it's just regular old second grade. It's just proof that time is marching, no, marching is too slow, more like zipping - along. And he is growing up. I am reminded of a great quote:

“In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you love?
How deeply did you learn to let go?” – The Buddha

Each year you can feel them gaining more independence, becoming more and more whole people on their own. They need you less and less. And it is during this time that you should be learning to let go 'deeply'. It is not an easy lesson to learn and a class that I'd prefer to skip!

Fortunately, I have Baby Girl to focus on, which helps tremendously! I know, the Buddha probably never said something such as "Fill empty space in your heart with another child". But I believe the Buddha was childless as well, so what does he know? Actually maybe when he was Siddhartha he had children, but when he became enlightened he did not...but I am getting way off track.

This adoption, like the last one that went uncompleted, has served as a tremendous salve to my heart. Today, instead of looking over baby pictures or moping around in the quietness of the house, I can get some paperwork completed or make yet another annoying phone call to Ohio Department of Job and Family services to pester them about WHERE our clearance reports are!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Moving Right Along...

It's been a while since I posted! It seems I've been busy with birthday parties, holiday parties, a surprise party for Brad, summer fun in general...with all that behind me I feel like I can finally give my full focus on baby. Of course I have been multi tasking and doing adoption related stuff all summer long, but it's always been in this distracted, not fully there mode.
Today we have our visit with our social worker to update our homestudy. It is an integral part of the process, and once it's done we are really on our way! I also heard from our placement agency on Friday, saying that our formal application should go out this week, also a huge step! And the genache on the flourless chocolate cake, we got our i171 on Friday as well. That is approval from Homeland Security/Citizenship and Immigration for anyone who doesn't know the numerical acronyms of international adoptions! Things are moving and it feels good.
The latest development though...is that we've decided...that the best fit for our family is to request a girl! Ok I know, it's what the original plan was, and then it was changed, and now it's changed back, so it's a bit like old/new news. But still!
With that said...instead of sitting here on Blogger I should probably be cleaning and baking cookies in preparation for the social worker's visit. Better clean up all the wine bottles, firearms and loose electrical while I'm at it work too...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Fingerprints and Fat

Friday we had our FBI/BCI (the BCI is Bureau of Criminal Investigation, not Body Condition Index thank goodness) background checks. This included another set of fingerprints! Dear God, how many times can one couple be fingerprinted for the adoption of a child! If I put them all together, going back to the pre-Bek paperwork days, I've been fingerprinted 7 times!! Who knew the tiny cooking-worn ridges on my fingerprints held so much information.
I don't care though, it's one more thing to cross off the list. At this point they could advise me to have my toe-prints done, while wearing a top hat and leopard print jacket, and I'd do it. Whatever, just get 'er done so we can go get this baby and move on already!!
Today I have my physical. It's another redo for the Homestudy...but I have a form that is for the Korea end of things that needs to be filled out too. They will take my weight and calculate my BMI, as anyone with a BMI over 30 is not eligible to adopt from Korea. I'm pretty sure I'm ok and according to the charts I've seen online I'm in the "normal" range, but I could be on the cusp of being overweight. I've always had a few extra pounds. What can I say, I like real butter, carbs of any sort, ethnic foods, and pretty much anything cooked with love. I like to call it pleasantly plump, however I'm worried Korea won't see it the same way. Which really doesn't make sense..the Koreans love their food, you'd think they see this as a positive character trait??
*Sigh*....Cross your fingers for me that I pass the BMI part. How pathetic sad and terrible would it be to not be able to go to Korea to get our baby because I've eaten one (or two) too many tomato confit pizzas covered in french goat cheese and fried shallots...