Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pork Vermicelli!

If there is one thing Mark and I miss about Colllege Station...ok.
Scratch that.

Mark and I miss LOTS of things about College Station. Friends. Family. Church. BCS. Climbing wall. And etcetera...

but, the one thing I was referring to that we miss tons are these 2 food joints off Texas. Pho Johns and Rosie Phos. Oh how we miss the pho. More than that, we miss the vermicelli. Last night I decided I'd try and whip up one myself from a recipe I found in this Gourmet Today cookbook.

Side note - this cookbook is amazing. We bought it for 50% off at one of the many Borders close out sales...and we've cooked every meal from it since. On Monday night we had some friends over and I made a delectable arugula salad with pancetta wrapped peaches, the most commented on corn and tomato gratin, and steph king even helped out by making the delish catalan tomato grilled bread...with a beer can chicken as the main dish. Every single bite was amazing and I am officially in love with this cookbook. 

Back to vermicelli. So. We found a pork vermicelli recipe in here and with all the amazingness we had on Monday evening, we had high hopes for supper last night. Mark even texted me during the day saying "I AM SO EXCITED TO COME HOME AND EAT!" That's not a normal occurrence. He was stoked about his vermicelli.

If you're just as stoked as we were here is what you need to do...

Get this stuff.

and this stuff.

To be even more precise for you here is a list:

1/4 pound thin rice vermicelli noddoles
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon + 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
1 tablespoon + 1/3 cup sugar
1/3 teaspoon + 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 carrot, shredded
1/4 cup scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup unsalted, roasted peanuts, chopped
1/3 cup fresh cilantro and mint, torn
8 (1/4 inch) boneless pork loin chops
1 finely chopped shallot (1/3 cup)
2 limes (juiced)

Once you have what you need you will first want to make the noodles.

Vermicelli noodles are rice noodles that can be found in the Asian section of your grocery store. If you don't have International sections, you should look near the rice and it should be there. The store should have a selection of various rice noodles - you'll choose the vermicelli style...aka the really thin ones.

To make them you first need to boil a pot of water and fill a different pot or bowl with hot water from your sink.

Place the noodles in the bowl of water from your sink and let it all soak for around 10 minutes.
Then, drain the vermicelli noodles in a sieve. If you don't have a sieve (such as myself) you can use a strainer.
Just make sure you watch the noodles because they could easily slip through.

Now place the drained noodles in the boiling water for 1 minute. 

If you are impatient like me and place the noodles in when the water is really just simmering, make it 2 minutes.

{it's boiling...kind of}

Once that has gone for 1 (or 2) minutes place it back in the sieve/strainer.


This time run cold cold water on it to get it to stop cooking.

Once all of the noodles are cooled, turn the water off and let the vermicelli strain away. You want these noodles dried off. It helps to use towels to make it even more dry. 
I used paper towels and patted it down pretty nicely. 

You can even have the noodles sit there while you get the rest of the dish ready.

Next, you can make the sauce that will go with the salad. This is a noodle salad. I don't think I told you that.

Whisk together 1/4 unseasoned rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon Asian Fish Sauce (watch out, this stuff smells real fishy), 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Whisk away until the sugar and salt are fully dissolved. Then set that aside.

According to the list way up top, you should already have one shredded carrot, a handful of cilantro and mint leaves (tear these up if they are big), thinly sliced scallions that equal out to be about 1/4 cup, and 1/2 cup chopped unsalted and roasted peanuts. Leave all of those items aside.

I keep everything in little bowls. If you don't have the counterspace...which will be me in 1 month from today because of small kitchens in can go ahead and combine the noodles, sauce, and all that's mentioned above. I don't like to do that because I like how it looks in the end without it. No difference though. 

Now that the whole salad/noodle part is done you'll want to make the pork.

Here's what you do. 

Get your boneless 1/4 inch thick pork and pound them into being thinner. About half the size. You can do this by placing them in between plastic wrap and pounding them away with a mallet.

{use the non spiky side on such thin meat}

Once pounded down cut each pork loin in 1/2 lengthwise.
Then place all the pieces in a bowl.

Then, go to your stove stop and place a little saucepan on medium heat. 

While that heats up take a shallot and chop it up.

You only need one good sized whole shallot. Keep the other one to use for something else later.

Go back to your (hopefully) medium heat sauce pan and put in 1/3 cup sugar.

{that's sugar...cant you tell?}

However enticing it may be, do not stir.

Now. once the sugar has begun to melt, you can give it a little stir. 

Use a wooden spoon. Metal on metal is no bueno. And plastic stirring in such heat equals melted plastic.

Keep stirring OCCASIONALLY (does anyone else have a habit of wanting to stir a lot?) until the sugar dissolves and becomes a golden caramel color. 

Resist the urge to put that over a bowl of ice cream. 

Instead. Pour in the chopped shallots, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon of fish sauce, and the juice from 2 limes.

I know the picture is poor, but in case you can't tell, this thing is lighting up and boiling like crazy.

Not lighting up really. That was an exagerration.

It was a bit crazy for a bit though. I had moments of wanting to take it off the burner. 

Once again, resist, and instead stir like mad for 2 around 2 minutes. The caramel will dissolve away and the shallots will be softened and your kitchen will smell good. 

Take that sauce and pour it over the pork (which should still be in the bowl). 

Make sure each piece gets the mixture soaked in it.

Then place a grill pan (or a good saute pan if you don't have one) on medium-high heat. 

Once hot, lightly oil the pan, and place the pork on it.

After just one minute flip the pork over

The pork will have this caramel colored glaze on it.

After one more minute, take off your done pork and put it on a plate to the side while you finish up the other pieces. 

Once down you are now ready to assemble your dish. 

First, place the noodles in a bowl or a plate. Follow that with the carrots and the green onions.
It should look like this...

Then add the chopped peanuts, the pork, and the fresh herbs. 

Pour the fish sauce over it (what you whisked together earlier) and boom. 

A Meal. 

Post bite thoughts:

Mark and I loved this meal, but it definitely was not up to par with what we missed so dearly from CStat. I've decided next time I need to make more fish sauce, add some jalapeno peppers in it for a kick of spicy, and add some chopped lettuce as well for more vegis. 

But, this was still really good and will definitely be made again (with those few additions). 

Rumor has it that in California the Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, and Thai food restaurants are incredible

Along with the Gourmet Cookbook we bought at Borders, we also bought some California and San Francisco reading guides. The Chinatown and Japantown sections were read instantly.

Mark says that is what he is most excited about. 

I semi-agree :)

Friday, August 19, 2011

keeping up to date

Good morning, friends

Yesterday, after many weeks of knowing I needed to do this, I finally made and filled out a little calendar for the following months. I have been wanting to make a fun calendar for Mark and I to just hang in our office and have birthdays/holidays/etc. reminders on. I have put it off saying I would wait until December and make one for the next year. I soon noticed this was a problem due to my ability to forget important dates. 

This mind needs things to be written down. 

Yes, mom, even grocery lists. Aren't you proud? 

Anyhow, I found some calendars online for inspiration, and this is what I ended up with...

There are a couple of things I would change, but because it is only a couple months, I decided it was good enough for now. Some of the sayings are inside jokes between Mark and I, which makes it fun and unique to us!

For example...

"i can pencil you in" 
what I told him after he asked me out on our first date, and after he proposed to me

"california, here we come"
well, that's when we will "come"

"if i'm hermione, then you're my ron" 
 we just love hp. mark was a bit upset that he couldn't be harry when he saw this. i couldn't think of what to put and seeing as that was the month for halloween, i figured it would do.

Anyhow, after making this I realized we have only a few weekends left in Texas... because of that, we have big trips planned for mostly every weekend leading up to California. 

This weekend we are going to see Scott, Anne, and their adorable boy, Boone, in middle of nowhere Texas. The Chapman's (Scott & Anne) work full time at Camp Eagle, a camp Mark worked at in college. This camp is awesome. Mark and I secretly wish he had a full time job there. We are super excited to get some good climbing in while we are there, but even more excited to see the Chapman's before they head off on a European adventure and before we head off to California.

You can read about their soon to be Europe backpacking trek with a 1 1/2 year old here.

{our 2 minutes of talking time at the wedding}
.thank ya'll SO much for coming.

The weekends following will consist of... a trip to Austin, College Station, our soon to be new home in Cali, and at least one weekend to pack up things here in Houston.

This month is going to go by fast!

It's a good thing I have this calendar to keep me organized now. Do ya'll ever have problems forgetting important dates amongst the chaos of life?!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Letters to the Littles

Dear Cade, You are such a stud 6 (almost 7) year old. Not only are you super smart, but you are super witty too. Jokes come out of nowhere for you and I love that. You are an amazing big brother to your little sister and Mr. Coleser. Thank you for always showing enthusiasm about everything and for doing your best work with what you're given - whether it's painting a mural, learning to dive into the pool, or playing basketball.

What is so great is that you continue to strive towards your best even when you've failed when you were learning to catch that ball while jumping into the pool. You tried and tried and tried and FINALLY YOU GOT IT! But you didn't stop wanted to keep doing it, with your best effort, until you caught it multiple times. Wow. You are a hard worker, Cade. You taught me a bit about persistence this last week and for that, I am thankful.

I pray you grow up desiring to do well in life, but not for the benefit of you, but for the benefit of making Christ known. I pray you are able to realize that we live in darkness and perfection is not attainable except through the saving work of Jesus on the cross. I love you, boy. Thanks for being so darn witty and teaching me to not give up. It reminds me of Paul in Phillipians 3.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. {Phillipians 3:12-14}

Press on, boy.

Miss Grace. You are all bits of a good way. I had SO much fun with you this last week. I have loved watching your personality evolve over the past few years and can't wait to see how it grows even more as your grow up. I know we have told you this all growing up, but you are such a wonderful balance of girly girl meets play in the mud girl. We used to laugh about how you would be in a tutu playing in the mud. That is definitely you.

I saw it evolve even more this last week.

 I saw you hold your own with your brothers; I saw you make your point known; I saw your ability to keep things ordered and in control. But, then I also saw this gentle way about you would help your little brother on the play ground, how you would share anything and everything given to you, and how you would cuddle oh so well (I can see already what a great nurturer you will be!)

So many people think that a woman of the Lord is one who stands idle, who is gentle and quiet. But looks at Proverbs 31! This woman has strength. She has dignity. She plants vineyards. She is orderly. She speaks (with wisdom). She does not eat the bread of idleness.

Girl. You are beautiful. You taught me this week to not eat the bread of idleness. To stand strong and work hard, but in a gentle way. I have struggled so much lately feeling that I don't have a I sit at home without a job tending to the ways of my household...but that is such a lie. I have an opportunity now to work hard and to manage my home well. Thank you for reminding me of that; thank you for reminding me of my calling to be a woman who takes action, yet still submits, honors, and reveres my husband.

And I pray just that for you, miss. I pray you grow into a strong woman who fears the Lord...who manages her household well...but who still submits to her husband as the church submits to Christ. I am definitely still learning much about that.

Keep playing in the mud. Keep painting your nails. Keep eating paleo if you want to (but I know you secretly like the sugar). Keep growing into the woman the Lord has called you to be.

Love you, pretty pretty princess.

Coleser. Cole Beart. Colbert Report. Cheese. That's right. You are such a cheese. You made me want to have kids so much sooner than Uncle Mark and I are planning... like now. Tell your mom that proably won't happen though...even though it would be nice to have a cousin close to your age. Just wait 2 more years :)

I just love your smile. You smile at everything. And then you have this look. This look that I think is kind of flirtacious and mom and dad better watch out for when you grow up....this look of "Yeah, I know I'm cute...and I know you know it." It's pretty cute. It's real cute.

Anyhow. You, sir, are a delight. Thank you for smiling at every possible moment. Thank you for your manners. Thank you for gladly doing what Nana and I asked you to (except with that instance of the grape and the couple times of climbing out of your crib).

Side note: I hope this means that you'll be a stud rock climber. My bet is in and I say yes.

I love that you listen and you obey well. If you do something wrong and you are told no, you stop pretty immediately. You aren't too stubborn and you don't get upset that easily. I'm not saying you're perfect. I'm just saying, by the grace of God, you are often quick to obey and quick to forgive...and quick to smile :)

Thank you for reminding me to rid myself of stubbornness and bitterness that I often hold.

Thank you for reminding me to smile in a cheese kind of way sometimes.


Love ya'll. Come visit me in the San Fran area? MmmK?

Tell mom to just put you on a flight (because you are all pros by now).

We'll go rock climbing, kayaking, build tents, climb trees, play hide and seek, paint, cause mayhem, and I'll even give you some icees and ice cream.

Don't tell Mom though...that's just between us ;)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Oh, Happy Day!

Well friends. As mentioned in the previous post, keeping up a blog is a difficult thing to do when you are working...does nannying even count as a job?! I'm back on the bandwagon for a while though (I hope). My temporary nanny gig ends on Friday and then I will be spending the next month prepping for a big move to San Francisco. Yes. A month. Insane.

Yesterday marked 4 days that Mark and I were married! Marked. Ha.

{i'm probably the only one that laughed at that one}

And this past week also marked the day that we got all our pictures from our big day! Daniel (who is married to Mark's sister) shot our wedding pictures for free. Such a blessing. We owe you big time :) Good thing we will be living a short hour drive from you in a month from now.

Daniel is insane. Not only has he competed in MANY iron mans, but he is also a genius engineer and a great photographer. Check out his incredible work here.

So, with pictures in hand I figured I would share some of our fun from April, 16th! Most of the pictures were taken by Daniel, but some are from my sweet grandma, Grammy, who also had her camera in hand!

Our wedding was held at Double Creek Crossing.

A beautiful place for an outdoor venue.

The rehearsal dinner was at the Kyle House. I think the rehearsal dinner was one of my favorite parts - simply because it was time to just relax and chat with those we loved.

Even some of the guys had something to say...

Even Phillip had something to that's crazy. P.S. Dan. I see your rattail. Props to you for hiding it from me on the wedding day though :)

And on to the wedding day...after grabbing a delicious breakfast from Madden's the girls and I headed off to Double Creek to get ready for the day!

{my aunt, me, grandma, and mom at Maddens}

So many things were already set up! It was such a relief. Most brides or bridesmaids are running around the hour before the ceremony getting everything ready or at least delegating things. I was doing none of that. Our wedding started at 6 pm and all the decorations were easily done by noon. It was amazing.

Here are a couple pictures of the set up:

{trail mix buffet}

we had 5 selections of trail mix and some awesome bags to put them in for the guests to take home! It went well with our outdoor theme. The bags were the brown coffee bags with a stamp on it that had a tree, "oh happy day!" and Mark & Ash written on it. The trail mix seemed to be a hit according to the guests!

{gift table}

The tables were either covered with quilts or an ivory cloth with burlap as runner. This is the gift table with some of our engagement pictures around it.



I made that chalkboard out of plank of wood and chalk paint. So simple. I now use it for recipes on this blog!

{the tree guest book}

This was set up right before the entrance to the ceremony. An art student at BCS painted this for us and did such a great job! She even put our initials in the tree and put wildflowers on the ground, which went with our theme. The sign says "Please leaf a thumbprint on our wedding tree!" I bought the Kleenex box from Hobby Lobby and placed some baby wipes in it. The little metal trash can was also bought at Hobby Lobby, along with the easel.

{guest book table}

The normal guest book was set up on this table, which was across the aisle from the tree! Along with the guest book were the fan programs and some activites for the kids. Those cards had a word search I made on one side, and a mad lib made up about our wedding day! Some of the kids came up to me at the reception to share me their stories. Some adults did as was fun :)

You can see a bit of the wording on the fans was another simple project to make!

{cake and pie tables}

The cake was a simple cake, but oh so delicious! I had an assortment of pies out and placed little flags in them for some added decoration. The sweet love bunting was a simple DiY project! There was also bunting on the trail mix table that said "Happy Trails!"

{close up}

Anyhow, as mentioned earlier, everything was set up. It was amazing. All I had to worry about was being ready in time to see my soon to be husband at 3 for before the ceremony pictures :)

Hair, check. Make up...almost check :)

While the girls got ready, so did the guys...

And after a long wait I was ready to see my groom :)

{it was so hard not to kiss him}

Along with seeing eachother before the ceremony, we also opted to take pictures with our bridal party before as well. I am SO glad we did this. It meant that after the ceremony we could take our 30 second walk to the reception site and get to partying right away. It also meant Mark and I could have some quality us time (not rushed) before the ceremony while taking pictures. I am so glad we did it this way. Walking down the aisle and seeing him standing there was still just as great even though I had already seen him all snazzed up in his suit :)

The girls had on JCrew dresses in different shades of blue. We got them on sale, which was a BIG plus! They wore various colors of gray shoes and can see their bouquets :)

The guys pants were from Express (along with Mark's coat). They wore gray Toms, which we gave them to as a gift.

Cade got TOMS too, he just didn't have them on yet ;)

We also took pictures with the families before too!

{missing you mike f!}

Here are some shots of the ceremony...

WOO HOO! We're hitched :) CELEBRATE!

{that was my mom's veil}

{flower girls/ring bearers/niece/nephews/adorable}

the rest of the evening was filled with...

and eating some more...


And after hours of dancing and eating we were out the door and well wishes and lots of rice were thrown our way :)


I shared a lot more pictures than I thought I would.

I still can't believe this day happened. I am so glad I have pictures and videos to look back at because it all went by so fast! I am so thankful for each of you that were there that day and each of you who were there in spirit .

Thank you :)

I hope you enjoyed the little recap of our wedding day!

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