Friday, October 31, 2008

Sweet and sour pork

Matt's Men's Health magazine had some excellent Chinese recipes in its September issue. The writer actually went to China and learned from top chefs how to cook authentic Chinese food, which is soooo much healthier than the take-out variety (and tastes better, too!).

We tried a few of the recipes, but our favorite is the sweet and sour pork, which is also great with chicken. It's delicious!! I also like these recipes because Matt does the cooking! He likes the fact that he gets to cook the foods really fast over really high heat. It's almost as good as cooking with fire.

The most important thing about this recipe is to prepare everything before you turn on the stove. The cooking process goes very quickly.

1 lb. pork butt or shoulder, with fat trimmed off
2 tbsp. soy sauce
4 tsp. rice wine or dry sherry (we used the sherry)
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/4 tsp. each salt and ground pepper
1/2 tsp. plus 2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. plus 1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 can (20 oz.) pineapple chunks in juice
1/2 c. each ketchup and white vinegar
1 c. plus 1 tbsp. peanut oil or other vegetable oil (we used olive)
4 slices fresh ginger (we used a little dried ginger)
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares

1. Cut the pork into 1-inch cubes. In a bowl, combine the soy sauce, rice wine or dry sherry, sesame oil, salt, pepper, and 1/2 tsp. sugar. Mix, add the pork, and marinate 10 minutes.

2. While the pork is marinating, be sure your green pepper is chopped. Also, drain the pineapple chunks, reserving 1/2 c. of the juice. In a bowl, stir together the juice, ketchup, vinegar, 2 tbsp. sugar, and 1 tbsp. cornstarch.

3. In another bowl, combine the flour and 1/2 c. cornstarch. Drain the pork, reserving the marinade. Lightly dredge the pork pieces in the flour-cornstarch mixture and set them aside on a plate.

4. Add the reserved marinade to the pineapple juice mixture and stir.

5. Heat 1 c. of oil in a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok until it's hot but not smoking. Add half the pork, spreading pieces around in the oil. Cook 1-2 minutes until they begin to brown, and then turn them. After 3-4 minutes, when they're brown on all sides, transfer them to a plate lined with paper towel. Repeat with the rest of the pork.

6. Wash and dry the wok, and return it to high heat. Add the remaining 1 tbsp. oil and the ginger, and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Add the green pepper and stir-fry 1 minute. Add the reserved pineapple chunks and swirl the sweet and sour sauce into the wok. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until it's just thickened, about 1 minute. Add the pork and cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes.

Makes 4 servings. We served this with instant brown rice.


And here's us attempting to take a picture of ourselves.

And Matt pushing on my elbow to try to get my finger up my nose. Would you expect anything less? Please note this was after the food was finished being cooked!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Live strong challenge

On Saturday morning we ran in the Live Strong Challenge, a 5k run held in Austin and put on by the Lance Armstrong Foundation. The event was one of four Live Strong Challenges held across the country over the last few months. Thank you to those who gave donations for the cause. They are very appreciated!

Our friends James and Courtney came with us to Austin. Courtney and I drove down to Austin (about five hours) on Friday afternoon, while Matt and James flew a T-37 over (about one hour). It was good though, because Courtney and I just chatted the whole time. We also got the hotel rooms paid for by the Air Force (because it counted as training time for Matt and James), which was a nice perk.

The run on Saturday was awesome. We had to get up bright and early to get parking. We thought it would be packed with the thousands of extra people in town, but it was pretty easy. The run started and ended at the state capitol downtown. There were all kinds of vendors handing out free foods, drinks, and give-aways before, during and after the race.

All the runners and walkers (Courtney and James opted to walk since she is carrying a little one) crowded the street at the start line. A woman with a beautiful voice sang the national anthem. I cried, thinking of Dad, missing him, but also knowing how happy he would be for us to be running for him. He would be thrilled that the benefits from this race may mean even one less person won't have to experience what he did.

I reminisced to my days in middle school track when Dad would come watch my meets by the fence. Dad never wanted to pay to get in, of course, because there was a decent and free view from the fence by the bleachers:) He would call me "Track Star" with that goofy sound in his voice that told you he felt like busting into air guitar mode at any minute. He would have called us track stars on Saturday. We really enjoyed the run and did pretty well. We certainly didn't sprint and aren't the fastest people ever, but we were content with our 32:36 time. My goal was to finish happy and without stopping somewhere between 30 and 36 minutes. We definitely did, and it was really exciting to run so hard that last 100m or so that I thought either my lungs would collapse or I would puke. Brian would say that means we could have given more during the race, and he's probably right. Next year, Bri. Yummy pumpkin muffins and strange guava smoothies welcomed us at the end.

Kreutz Photography took pictures of the race, which should be on their website soon, You should be able to look them up by our BIB numbers (4494 and 4495) and last name.

We also got to hang out with Gary on Saturday afternoon for the Michigan/Michigan State game and that night at a downtown oasis called ThreadGills for a fun country rock band called Mother Truckers. Matt has found some of their music on iTunes. By the way, Deb, we noticed on their website that they will be in Boise in a few weeks if you and Ryan are interested in checking them out.

On Sunday, Gary and the girls came to the airport to check out the jet. It was so good to see them! They really got a kick out of trying on the heavy parachute and the fancy helmet.

All four of us look forward to doing the run again next year. Austin is a great city to visit!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My sister, the artist

I am so fortunate to have artistic talent in the family bloodline. The three pieces pictured on this post were created by my sister Marcy. She is so talented! She creates images in her mind and transforms them to tangible pieces of art...and all in seemingly about five seconds!

The first piece (above) is called "Red Onions," and the second piece (below) is called "Fleming Creek". They were both gifts for my birthday. I love them and they are perfect in our place. Marcy, thank you so much and I hope you approve of the frame job.

Feel free to check out Marcy's work online at

She will also be participating in the Detroit Urban Craft Fair, Michigan's largest juried alternative art fair on November 15th, 10am-7pm at the Fillmore Theater in Detroit. For more information see,

I am so proud of Marcy's art and thought all of you would enjoy seeing it, too.

This last piece is our wedding gift, also painted by Marcy. Sorry about the glare. I thought I had a photo without glare, but couldn't find it.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Spouse taxi day

Tuesday was Spouse Taxi Day at Sheppard (also known as "Hot Brakes Day"), which is when all the spouses get to taxi around and down the runway with their IP. So I got a Tweet "ride" (except we never left the ground)!

I got geared up in all of Matt's usual stuff. Flight suit. Check. Parachute. Check. Cool nametag with wings. Check.

This is us at the jet, ready for the walk-around. It was a beautiful day!

Can you believe Matt gets to fly around everyday? And he gets paid for it?

I even got to wear a helmet, oxygen mask, and that cool visor, all worth nearly $2000. Mental note, don't drop the helmet.

Here we are ready to go! Matt even let me do a radio call: Sheppard tower, Dicey 85, Number one, One Five Center.

Yay, we made it! It was awesome to experience this small part of what Matt does everyday. At the end though, I was still left really wanting to get off the ground. Maybe another day...

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