March 8, 2014

Jack and the Giant

By Dylan (With conjunctions by Daddy)

Once upon a time there was a little boy named Jack. One day Jack looked outside and saw a beanstalk. So Jack climbed the beanstalk. At the top of the beanstalk, Jack found a castle. Inside the castle, Jack met a nice giant. Jack and the Giant decided to go on an adventure.

Jack and the Giant went to the forest in the winter. It was SO cold and snowy. Then Jack and the Giant tripped on a red rock and fell down in the snow. They were very cold. So they decided to get up and got inside a bus. They took the bus to a castle. Inside the castle, they found a beanstalk.

Jack and the Giant climbed the beanstalk. At the top of the beanstalk, they found a car. Jack drove the car, but the Giant had to take the bus because he was too big to fit in the car. They drove to another castle. Inside the castle, they found another car and a book.

The book told the story about Humpty Dumpty. Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty danced on the wall. Humpty Dumpty fell down. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again, so Kermit the Frog put him together again instead.

 

February 22, 2014

Elmo and the Witch

Dedicated to a boy who always reminds me that though he might be too little to do all the things he wants to, he’s getting bigger all the time.

An Adaptation of the Danish Fairy Tale “Esben and the Witch”

Okay. Technically it’s an adaptation of the Wikipedia article about the Danish Fairy Tale “Esben and the Witch”. With most of the wanton murder edited out.

Author’s note: It has come to my attention that there is apparently a popular children’s fiction character with the same name as the protagonist of this story. Not the same guy. While my Elmo is indeed small and cute, he is considerably less furry, and is able to use pronouns (admittedly, not well). The name of the protagonist was chosen when it was discovered that Dylan was too tired to lean how to pronounce “Esben”, having won a poll of the original audience with 100% of the vote.

Once upon a time, there were twelve brothers. And eleven of the brothers were big and strong, but the youngest brother, Elmo, was very small.

One day, the eleven older brothers went to their daddy and told him that they wanted to go out into the world to seek their fortune. And so their daddy gave them some money and gave each of them a white horse and told them to go out into the world and find their fortune.

But when Elmo asked his daddy if he could go out into the world and seek his fortune too, his daddy said, “You’re too little! You’ll never amount to anything!” and he wouldn’t give him a horse or any money.

But Elmo wanted to go with his brothers, so he took a stick, and he carved it until it was as white as the horses, and he rode it like a horse and followed his brothers out into the world.

Before long, the brothers came to the great woods. And while they were riding through the woods, they got very lost. But then they came upon a witch (Author’s Note: Depending on how tired Dylan is on any given evening, it may be that they came across not a witch, but a “fitz”. I have it on good authority that fitzes are very much like witches, but lack any of the unfortunate cultural connotations. For the sake of clarity, I’ve elected to use the more familiar term, in order to avoid needing to indulge in a lengthy parenthetical aside to explain this.). And the witch told the eleven older brothers that not only could they stay at her house for the night, but that she had herself twelve children, and the brothers could marry them. Except for the witch’s youngest daughter, who was small and not going to amount to anything, and who the witch wanted to keep to take care of her.

Then Elmo asked if he could come too, and the witch said, “You’re too little! You’ll never amount to anything!” and she would not let Elmo stay at her house. So when the brothers all went inside, Elmo had to stay outside and sleep on the ground.

But since Elmo was outside of the witch’s house, he could hear the witch talking, and that is how Elmo found out that this witch was not nice. In fact, the witch planned to use her bad magic to hurt the brothers when they were asleep.

Elmo went to the window of the room where his brothers were getting ready for bed, and he whispered in to them that the witch was a bad witch, and he told them to switch their hats with the hats of the witch’s children. So when the witch came into the brothers’ room during the night to use her bad magic to hurt them, because they were wearing the wrong hats, she used her magic on her own kids instead, and, let’s say, turned them into mice.

So the brothers escaped and got on their horses, and Elmo got on his stick, and they ran away so fast that they dropped all their money.

Before too long, the brothers came to the other side of the forest and found the castle. And they went to the king and asked for a job in the castle. And the king thought that the brothers looked big and strong, and how they didn’t have anything money or anything of value they could live off of, and he saw how pretty their white horses were, and he told them they could work taking care of all the horses in the king’s stables.

But when Elmo asked the king for a job, the king said, “You’re too little! You’ll never amount to anything!” and he wouldn’t give Elmo a job. So Elmo had to sleep on the streets and beg people for food.

Now, the king’s favorite knight was Sir Red. But Sir Red was not nice. Everybody knew Sir Red was not nice except for the king.  The king thought Sir Red was a good knight. Sir Red saw that the king liked the brothers, and Sir Red got jealous. So Sir Red decided to make up a story about the brothers so that the king wouldn’t like them any more.

Sir Red went to the king, and he said, “King, I heard that the brothers have a bird with gold and silver feathers. And they told you they were poor and didn’t have any money just to make a fool of you.”

So the king called for the brothers, and he said, “I heard you have a bird with gold and silver feathers. You better give it to me, or I’m going to throw you out of the castle!”

And the brothers were very sad, because they didn’t have a bird with gold and silver feathers. They didn’t have a bird of any sort. But Elmo came to his brothers and said, “Don’t worry, brothers. I can help you. All I need is a bag of peas.”

So the brothers gave Elmo a bag of peas. And Elmo took his stick, and he said a magic word that he’d heard from the witch, and it made the stick fly, and Elmo rode it back to the witch’s house. Because as luck would have it, when they had been running away from the witch, Elmo had just happened to see that the witch had a bird with gold and silver feathers that lived in her back yard. So Elmo waited until the witch went out to do her laundry, and he snuck up to the bird, and he said, “Bird, you’re coming with me.” And he gave the peas to the bird. And the bird liked the peas, so the bird came with Elmo.

Elmo got back on his stick and flew back to the castle. And Elmo gave the bird to the brothers. And the brothers gave the bird to the king. And now the king liked the brothers more than ever.

That made Sir Red even more jealous. So he decided to make up another story about the brothers so that the king wouldn’t like them any more.

Sir Red went to the king, and he said, “King, I heard that the brothers have a pig with gold and silver whiskers. And they told you they were poor and didn’t have any money just to make a fool of you.”

So the king called for the brothers, and he said, “I heard you have a pig with gold and silver whiskers. You better give it to me, or I’m going to throw you out of the castle!”

And the brothers were very sad, because they didn’t have a pig with gold and silver whiskers. They didn’t have a pig of any sort. But Elmo came to his brothers and said, “Don’t worry, brothers. I can help you. All I need is a bag of carrots.”

So the brothers gave Elmo a bag of carrots. And Elmo took his stick, and he said the magic word, and he flew on the stick back to the witch’s house. Because as luck would have it, when Elmo had been getting the bird, he just happened to see that the witch had a pig with gold and silver whiskers that lived in a pen next to her house. So Elmo waited until the witch went out to do her shopping, and he snuck up to the pig pen, and he said, “Pig, you’re coming with me.” And he gave the carrots to the pig. And the pig liked the carrots, so the pig came with Elmo.

Elmo got back on his stick and flew back to the castle. And Elmo gave the pig to the brothers. And the brothers gave the pig to the king. And now the king liked the brothers more than ever.

Now, Sir Red was even more jealous than ever, so he decided to make up another story about the brothers so that the king wouldn’t like them any more.

Sir Red went to the king, and he said, “King, I heard that the brothers have a magic lamp that can light up the whole kingdom. And they told you they were poor and didn’t have any money just to make a fool of you.”

So the king called for the brothers, and he said, “I heard you have a magic lamp that can light up the whole kingdom. You better give it to me, or I’m going to throw you out of the castle!”

And the brothers were very sad, because they didn’t have a magic lamp that could light up the whole kingdom. They only had the regular kind of lamp, and they didn’t think the king would like that. But Elmo came to his brothers and said, “Don’t worry, brothers. I can help you. All I need is a bag of salt.”

So the brothers gave Elmo a bag of salt, and Elmo took his stick. And he said the magic word. And he flew back to the witch’s house. Because as luck would have it, when he had been waiting to get the pig and the witch had gone out to do her shopping, Elmo had seen that she had taken a magic lamp with her that could light up the whole kingdom.

Now, this time, Elmo knew that the witch would only take the lamp out at night, so he waited until it was dark, and he climbed down the witch’s chimney and hid.

That night, the witch told her youngest daughter, who hadn’t been turned into a mouse, to make her a bowl of porridge with no salt. So the little girl made the porridge. But when she wasn’t looking, Elmo took his bag of salt and poured it into the porridge. So when the witch took a bite of the porridge, she said, “Yuck! This porridge has salt in it! Make me another bowl and this time no salt!”

But the daughter said, “I need to get water from the well, and it’s dark outside.”

And the witch said, “Then take the magic lamp!”

So the daughter took the magic lamp and went out to the well. And Elmo snuck back outside and took his stick and bonked the daughter on the head, and took the lamp away.

Elmo got on his stick and flew back to the castle. And he gave the lamp to the brothers. And the brothers gave the lamp to the king. And the king liked the brothers more than ever.

By now, Sir Red was the most jealous he had ever been, so he decided to make up one more story about the brothers so that the king wouldn’t like them any more.

Sir Red went to the king, and he said, “King, I heard that the brothers have a blanket that sings when you touch it.” And just to make it harder for the brothers, he said, “And the songs the blanket sings always tell the truth. And they told you they were poor and didn’t have any money just to make a fool of you.”

So the king called for the brothers, and he said, “I heard you have a blanket that sings when you touch it and always tells the truth. You better give it to me, or I’m going to throw you out of the castle!”

And the brothers were very sad, because they didn’t have a singing blanket that told the truth. They didn’t even have a singing blanket that didn’t tell the truth. They only had the regular kind of blanket, and they didn’t think the king would like that. But Elmo came to his brothers and said, “Don’t worry, brothers. I can help you. And this time I don’t need anything.”

So Elmo got on the stick, and he said the magic word, and he flew back to the witch’s house. Because as luck would have it, when he had been hiding in the witch’s house, he had heard a blanket singing. Now, this time, Elmo had to sneak into the witch’s room. And he snuck in very carefully. And he found the blanket. But when Elmo tried to pick up the blanket, the blanket started singing. And it sang:

I’m a magic blanket
And I’m getting stolen
By a little boy
It makes me jump for joy
He’s gonna take me away
Right this very day
From the mean old witch
Because she’s such a–

And in came the witch, and she was very very angry. And she said, “Aha! I caught you! And I bet you’re the little boy who stole my bird! And my pig! And my lamp!” And of course Elmo had also bonked her daughter on the head, but the witch didn’t care about that. She said, “I’m going to eat you all up!”

So she threw Elmo in the dungeon and had her daughter fatten him up. And the daughter remembered that Elmo had bonked her on the head. So Elmo said he was very sorry for bonking her on the head. And the daughter thought that was very nice of Elmo, because lots of people had bonked her on the head over the years, but none of them had ever apologized. And Elmo told the daughter all about his adventures and how he helped his brothers. And the daughter told Elmo about how mean the witch was to her because she was so small, and how much she wanted to fly away and live in a castle. And the daughter started to like Elmo. So when the day came for the witch to eat Elmo, she didn’t tie his hands up the way she was supposed to.

The witch turned the oven all the way up, and she opened the oven and put a big pot in front of it, and she told Elmo to sit down in the pot. But Elmo said that he didn’t know how to sit down in a pot, so the witch climbed in the pot to show him. And Elmo, whose hands were not tied like the witch wanted, pushed her into the oven and closed it up. And that was the end of the witch.

So Elmo took the blanket, and he took the witch’s daughter with him, and he got on his stick, and they flew back to the castle.

By now, the king had put the brothers in jail, so Elmo had to give the blanket to the king himself. And when the king touched the blanket, it started to sing:


Elmo’s brave and clever,
He never gives up ever,
Threw a witch in a fire,
Because Sir Red is a liar,

And the king realized that Sir Red had tricked him, so he had Sir Red thrown out of the castle forever. And he let the brothers out of jail and made them all his knights. And little Elmo, who had been so brave and made something of himself even though he was so little, the king made his Chief Knight. And the witch’s daughter grew up to be a very good witch, and they all lived in the castle and were very happy for ever and ever.

January 26, 2014

Ross Cooks! Delicious Failure (Not-Quite-Coxinha)

So Friday, one of my coworkers introduced me to Brazillian Coxinhas, something kinda akin to a chicken nugget, only awesome. The things were fantastic, and the answer to “What should we have for dinner tonight, Dylan?” is almost always “Chicken nuggets!” these days, so I thought I’d have a go at reproducing them.

It didn’t work out. Any resemblance between what I made and Brazillian Coxhina is pretty much coincidental. This is in part because of my lack of skill, in part because I wanted to use the new pressure cooker, and in part because the recipes I found on the internet diverged from what the aforementioned coworker had said. But when all was said and done, what came out was actually pretty delicious.

  • 1.5 lb chicken breasts
  • 1 liter lemon-lime soda
  • 1/2 onion, cut into large pieces
  • A Few Sprigs of fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • A Handful of Baby Carrots
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 6 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 oz goat cheese, softened
  • Cumin, Ground Coriander, Chili Powder, Garlic Powder, Salt to taste
  • 4-5 potatoes
  • 2 tbsp evaporated milk
  • 2 tbsp butter or butter-like substance
  • 1 egg
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Oil for frying

In a slow cooker, cover the chicken breasts in soda and chicken broth, and add the carrots, onion and cilantro. Slow cook on low heat 3-4 hours or until the chicken is cooked. Shred the chicken with a pair of forks and mix with the cheese and spices. Coxinha doesn’t call for any extra seasoning on the chicken, but I thought that the filling reminded me so much of Buffalo Chicken Spread that I reckoned that spicing it up would be delicious. Roll the chicken mixture into little balls about the size of… Um… I dunno. Eyeballs?

Boil the potatoes in the braising liquid from the chicken. If your slow cooker was big enough, you probably could have cooked the potatoes and chicken together. Me, I flipped the knob on the slow cooker over to “Pressure Cooker” mode and pressure cooked them for 20 minutes.

Mash the potatoes. If you cooked them the way I did, they’ll basically crumble into mush if you look at them the wrong way. Add the milk and butter. I did it with the skin on, but your mileage may vary.

This next bit was problematic. You basically want to wrap the chicken balls in a thick coating of potatoes. If you know how to make some kind of quickbread-type dough out of mashed potatoes do that. I didn’t, so I just balled them up as best I could.

Fill a deep, heavy-bottomed pot with enough oil to cover the “Coxinha”. I used my dutch oven and it worked out pretty well for me. Heat it up to, I’m going to say 300 degrees, but that’s just me shooting in the dark since it’s not like I actually measured the temperature.

Whisk an egg in a shallow dish, and put the breadcrumbs in a second shallow dish. You should know where I’m going with this: dredge the potato-covered balls in the egg, then in the breadcrumbs, so that they’re coated.  I ran out of breadcrumbs halfway through and, in a bind for time, finished the batch by pulverizing some pretzels in the food processor. Surprisingly tasty.

Deep fry in batches. Just leave them in until they turn golden-brown. It only takes 2-3 minutes. Be ginger with them when you take them out, placing them on a couple of layers of paper towel to soak up the grease. Sprinkle with salt.

 

January 25, 2014
January 22, 2014

Scene After a Late Breakfast

Scene: The morning after a snowstorm. DADDY and MOMMY are in the family room. DYLAN is in the kitchen with a waffle.

DYLAN enters the family room, holding a waffle.

DYLAN: (Indicating couch) I get up! (Holds out his hand) I need help!

MOMMY: Oh, Dylan, finish your waffle first.

DADDY hands DYLAN a tissue

DADDY: Wipe your hands

DYLAN wraps the waffle in the tissue and places it on top of his toybox

MOMMY: Don’t put that there. Why don’t you eat the rest of your waffle? Here, bring it to me.

DYLAN: No, mommy. I might need it later.

Fin

December 5, 2013

This Bodes Ill

Scene: A Friday afternoon. DYLAN and DADDY are in the family room. DADDY has been incapacitated by a painful neck spasm for several days.

DYLAN approaches DADDY holding his thumb up.

DYLAN: Boo-boo, Daddy! Ice! Ice!

DADDY: You have a boo-boo on your thumb? You want some ice?

DYLAN: Okay, yeah.

DYLAN and DADDY go to the kitchen. DADDY opens the freezer

DADDY: Okay Dylan, let’s get you some ice.

DYLAN: No, Daddy, no ice. Candy.

DYLAN points to the bucket of leftover Halloween candy in the foyer.

DADDY: (after a moment) Okay. You can have a piece of candy.

DYLAN runs to the foyer. DADDY closes the freezer door and follows.

DADDY takes a Fun-Size Nestle Crunch Bar, unwraps it, and gives it to DYLAN

DYLAN: Daddy, some?

DADDY: You already have some.

DYLAN: Daddy some. Daddy eat candy too?

DADDY: You want Daddy to have some candy too? Okay.

DADDY selects a Fun-Size Milky Way bar

DYLAN: No, Daddy! Blue candy!

DADDY returns the Milky Way bar to the bucket and takes a Nestle Crunch Bar

DYLAN: (holds up his candy bar) Dylan, Daddy, candy: same thing!

DADDY: (chuckles) That’s right, Dylan. They’re the same.

DYLAN: (excited) Daddy, eat candy. Candy make Dylan boo-boo much better! Make Daddy boo-boo better?

DADDY: (astonished) Dylan, did you want Daddy to have the blue candy because Daddy had a boo-boo in his neck?

DYLAN: Yeah!

DADDY: (a beat) Thank you, son.

Fin

November 28, 2013
November 24, 2013
November 23, 2013