Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Family Food

I doubt that my family is the only one with it's own cuisine, so to speak. The dishes that make the family come alive. The ones that well-meaning family members work tirelessly to prepare for their captive audience. What I wonder, though, is if there are any other families out there whose cuisine perhaps leaves a bit to be desired. You know, the British Food of the family circuit.

Don't get me wrong. There was plenty of good food growing up. My parents grilled a mean tri-tip. My grandma put on a Christmas-eve crab feast that left you drooling. But there were some meals...

some "cuisine"...

that left you a little ill.

Let me detail some of those for you now:
1) Joe Special.
If there was ever a terrible idea for a meal, it was Joe Special. So why, oh why, do the Kieffers not allow it to die? Here's the gist: you brown ground beef in a skillet. Then you take two perfectly innocent eggs and scramble them into the beef. Then (my gag reflex is starting...) you take a box of frozen spinach and mix it all around with the beef and the eggs. And, as if this weren't bad enough, you serve it in a bowl with...

wait for it...


You read right. Ketchup.

My parents think this is the best meal since Beef Wellington. Listen here folks: Joe Special tastes like death.

2) Mimi's Fire-Hell Cake.
Nobody could ever do a description of this culinary disaster like my dear brother. I will let his description do the talking. (I will post the full text of the email for your enjoyment because to date - this is the funniest email I have ever received. I have made one small edit - Mom you are the only one who may catch it.)

Heres your gift,
It was pretty good. Yeah there were some weird moments like Taylor reading off of a Wal*Mart receipt and acting like someone bought "large black dildos and heated lube" when they purchased her present. Then we all joined in and Dad yelled out "Junk in tha Trunk Volume 4!" Every time it got awkward we would just start laughing. Mom said she wouldn't have made it without Amber. Well I wouldn't of made it without that bottle of E&J's Brandy. Of which was supposed to be for Mimi's Carrot/Rum cake that I happened to pretty much polish off by the time desert hit, hahaha. It was so funny! They were like, "Oh my God who did this?!" My only justification was that they conveniently placed it next to a 2 liter bottle of Coke. Now who would sit alcohol next to the other beverages if it was going to be used for cooking? Yeah I know. Also, it was the only time in the history of my life that Mimi's cake was in fact enjoyably edible. I did everyone a favor. Every other year in the past it has been coated with burnt liquor. "Mmmm, heres an idea for a desert. Lets blend up some carrots and raisins, put them into a cake, then dump brandy all over the top and light it on fire. Yeah, then we'll take a half of a teaspoon of this really delicious frosting, but not too much, because we don't want people to enjoy this flavor so much that they can't taste the blended carrots, raisins and ignited brandy."
Overall the day went really well and I am showing a six pack from all of the laughing I did.
So what did you guys all do? Play Monopoly at the Steele's and listen to the Josh Grobin Christmas album, Kidding...sort of

Ah, it feels good to reprint that every so often. Carrots, raisins, and brandy... oh my. Mimi's hell cake. #2 on my list of Kieffer culinary disasters.

3) Poppy's Bean Tacos
There is nothing bad that anyone could ever say about my dear grandfather. It feels somehow disrespectful to even mention how bad his bean tacos were. I mean, when the nicest person in the world hands you a meal that tastes terrible - you eat it. And you tell him "Thank You" and smile and swoon over every bite. It is the least you can do. But 5 years after his death, I think it is ok to say that in addition to all of his wonderful qualities - Poppy's bean tacos were terrible. Really. Bad.

The ingredients were such:
Can of Refried Beans
Thick Slice of Cheddar Cheese
Corn Tortilla
Vegetable Oil

Cooking Instructions:
Spread 1/4 cup Refried beans in the middle of the corn tortilla.
Place thick sliced cheese in the middle of the beans.
Fold and fry, baby, fry!

Then, he would take out the oil saturated taco out and wrap it in a clean, white paper towel and hand it to you with love. The cheese would be unfazed, still greasy and solid in the middle of those damn beans.

But here's the deal - Poppy's tacos gave me inspiration the other night. I made my own tacos for the kids, and after about the third time that the filling fell out, I remembered the genius of Poppy's tacos. No, it wasn't the canned beans - it was the paper towel. It held all the contents in! So I wrapped the taco (grilled chicken, mango relish, shredded cabbage, avocado, and pico de gallo - take THAT Joe Special!) and the kids gobbled it down, with no spillage.

Thanks Poppy!

I've escaped justice - again!

Ok. I know. I don't post for over 2 weeks and now I am posting 3 times in 24 hours - but seriously.

Check this out.

This is a crime? Really?
Have you ever thought about all the things you've done that could've landed you in jail? Darn. This wasn't even on my list.

My rap sheet has just expanded.....

Children's Lit

Last night, I finished reading "The Tale of Despereaux" to my kids. To say I enjoyed it is to only tell part of the story: I relished every short chapter, I revelled in every delightful word. I listened attentively as the narrator personally addressed me, the reader, at every crux. It is a beautiful story of tragedy, chivalry, forgiveness, and moving on. I believe it is destined to be a classic among children's literature. However, I was left a bit disturbed.

"The Tale of Despereaux" like so many of it's contemporaries, delves into some very dark themes. I simply do not understand why most all kids books/films must have some allusion whether overt or implied to the abandonment or death of a parent. WHY!? Isn't the loss of a parent at the core of every child's fears? Isn't it the one fear that trumps all other fears?

As is well chronicled on this blog, I do not have a vast understanding of literature or it's reasons. Could someone please explain the purpose or the dead or deadbeat parent that is featured in most of the genre aimed at children.

Casting this disturbing element aside, I loved Despereaux. I want another book like it. Do you have any suggestions for a good read-aloud book for medium-aged kids? Leave me a comment. I am trying to get my writing/photographing groove back and I am inspired by conversation. Talk to you soon.....

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Taco Pockets - and a Big Fat Case of Bloggers Block

Long time no post. Why? I just can't say.

But the more I think about my "bloggers block" the worse it gets - so here is my attempt to negate it. Cancel it. Free my creative mind. Here goes...

I can't do it. I just tried to write several beginnings of ideas that are trapped in my head and they just won't materialize. This is why I never became a writer. Oh, yeah, and that tricky little fact that I don't read books. Well, except for Twilight. But that's not a book, is it?

But I really do have a story to tell. It is about Taco Pockets, how to serve a burrito to a 2-year old and have them actually ingest protein, a shoestring ratchet that will transform the world (promise...), a beautiful new bathroom, and more.

There is a lot to say - I just need to put it together. And throw in some pictures. Stay tuned, dear friend. I have a story to tell.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Quickies: From Our Home to Yours...

1) Josh lost his first tooth this week. He was disappointed because the Tooth Fairy only brought him $1. Sheesh! What on earth was he expecting?? Hasn't that kid heard we are in a recession?

On a related note, his teacher has an "I Lost a Tooth" binder where the kindergarteners can write down the gory details of their falling out teeth. One kid wrote that the Tooth Fairy brought him $20! Twenty Bucks? Shoot. I am going to pull out one of my teeth and stick it under my own pillow if I can get that kind of loot.

2) I always know when the kids have something big planned for us. It is something in the way they run, the way they shush themselves before they barge in to reveal their plans, the way they chatter among themselves for several seconds before approaching. Yesterday I could sense their excitement and knew that they had done something for me. I could hear the running, the chatter, the excited shushes.... they opened the garage door and entered the kitchen where I was preparing dinner with armloads of flowers among them: All of the bulbs from our garden. Well, all except one lone daffodil that survived the mass clearing.

What do you do in that situation? I gave them each a big hug and thanked them for their gift. The irises and the lilies have yet to bloom - all is not lost. But perhaps a lesson in horticulture might be in order before the next round of blooms graces our yard.

3) I took the kids on a hike today by myself - and I am proud of that. We had so much fun. Wanna see some pictures? Here ya go:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


There are some things that get better with age.....

And there are some things that do not....

This blog is starting to stink... don't you think?

I need some inspiration for real.

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