Wednesday, August 1, 2012

December 2011

The fall semester ended on Saturday, December 10, but it wasn't vacation time yet.  I was enrolled to take Human Physiology during the winter intersession, and the first day of class was Monday, December 12, so it was right back to school for me when the weekend was over!  The class was rewarding, and I learned a lot, but it was challenging in a number of ways:
  1. Class was 3 hours long and was straight lecture except for a 5 minute break halfway through.  Without fail, I dozed off at some point every class.  (I started buying energy drinks to stay awake, which only served to make me jittery and STILL end up falling asleep.)
  2. Class was held every day Monday through Saturday.  Sleeping in was never an option for 8:30 class everyday and 9:00 church on Sunday, but at least it was only for two weeks, so it went by fairly quickly.
  3. We went through a lot of material FAST.  Each day was basically a week's worth of material during a normal semester.  That also meant an exam every 3 days.  Thankfully, though, the exams weren't cumulative, so we were only tested on stuff from the previous few lectures.  I think this helped me retain information more easily because instead of having to relearn things taught to us weeks before like a normal semester, the material was still pretty fresh in our minds.
As far as Christmas decorations go, we didn't have much, but we were still able to fit some Christmas cheer into our apartment thanks to my wonderful mother-in-law Narayne!  As I mentioned in the last post, she gave us a pre-Christmas package when we were at her place for Thanksgiving.  She gave us the Charlie Brown tree, a tree skirt, a couple ornaments, a serving tray, and a snowman pillow (because Michael loves snowmen, so I'm led to believe).
 Our Charlie Brown tree, before and after ornaments!  It brightened up our home.  I have a couple of Raising  Cane's ornaments, a snowman that says "Merry Christmas," a fancy red one with an "R" on it, and Miss Piggy with her Kermit!  (That was a gift to me a few years ago mom? My aunt? Can't remember...but yeah, I so loved Miss Piggy as a kid.)
...I think we may need a bigger tree for the tree skirt, though.  :)  Maybe next year we'll get a big one!
I ended up finding a way to use our tree skirt, though.  :)
(Most of the shoes/clothes on the right were about to go to Goodwill. Merry Christmas, Goodwill-ers!)
 That's a serving tray propped up at the end of the counter that says "Season's Greetings."  I didn't get to serve anything on it, but I think next year I want to make good use of it with plenty of holiday baking.

Once class was done on December 23 (though for some reason the final exam was after New Year's), we went to Houston to enjoy the holidays with my Egan family.  We were all there (except for Nick, who was still on his mission...he missed us by 2 weeks!) We hadn't seen Emily, Jeff, and their daughter Evangeline I think since Mike & I got married months before, so it was really great to get to hang out with them.  It was an awesome week & a half full of singing, cooking delicious things, watching movies, swimming in my parents' pool, playing Zelda...there was never a dull moment, especially with two cute cute nieces running around!  Maybe every aunt thinks their nieces are the best/cutest/more adorable/prettiest nieces in the world, but I really DO have the best nieces in the world.  ;)  My favorite memories from the trip were when we had out fun family tradition where, before bed, we light candles and each open a present each night for a few nights before Christmas, and we sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus (in the most reverent way we can) and blow out the candles.  It's kind of silly, but it's something we've done as long as I can remember and I love it.  :)  I love my family SO much.

Jane took a family pic of us to celebrate the occasion.  What a talented "photographist." :)

My sisters Jane and Emily also keep blogs and posted about our little reunion.  They have TONS of pictures and go more into detail about the week, so definitely check those posts.

Mike and I stayed for New Year's, and then it was back to Baton Rouge.  I took my final for my intersession and got back to working at Cane's, and Michael went back to working full-time at his video game testing job at EA.  It was only one week until Nick was coming home and two weeks until school started again...

Friday, July 27, 2012

November 2011

Home-made dumplings

Earlier in the year, one of my best friends in the world, Lin Lei, taught me how to make Chinese dumplings (饺子, "jiaozi" in Chinese; but the shape I made here would technically be called 包子, "baozi..." they're made the same, though).  They are very simple to make, and so delicious.  When I have extra time and the ingredients, I like to make these.  The wrapper is made of just flour and water to make a dough that you roll out into small circles.  The filling is a small amount of just raw, ground meat with minced vegetables and seasoning.  Closing the wrapper is a little tricky, but you wet your fingers with warm water and pinch the top to make it stick and stay closed.  You can either boil or steam them for a few minutes to cook the meat and the wrapper, and voila!  A beautiful, tasty treat.  Dip them in your favorite Asian sauce.

Thanksgiving in Logan, UT

After school got out for Thanksgiving Holiday, we flew to Utah to see Michael's momma Narayne.  This was the first time we saw her since we were married in June.

Louisiana on the left, Utah on the right.  It's really cool seeing the landscape change when you're in an airplane.  Whenever I'm on a plane, I get a small glimpse at really how big, vast, and varied the world is (or at least the United States).

Upon arriving at the Salt Lake City airport, Narayne was there waiting for us, and she drove us back to her house in Logan.  Her dog Jack (and the dog Mike's known since he was little) came along for the ride.  (He recently had surgery to treat his diabetic migraines, which meant taking out his eyeballs...but he was blind anyway, so to make him a happy dog, his eyes were taken out and his eyelids were sewn shut!  He's as cute as ever still.  He looks like a Chinese dachshund now.)  He was SO happy to have Michael around.  As soon as we got in the car, he could smell and hear Mike and got excited, all wagging his tail and sniffing around for Mike.  What a cute little fattie.

Here's Narayne making our Thanksgiving dinner.  She did ALL of the cooking for us, and the food was all so delicious.  We had dressing, cranberries, turkey (of course), pumpkin pie, and much more, I just can't remember it all (that's what I get for posting 8 months late).  Boy, we were STUFFED by the end of it.  Before dinner Narayne was eating some of the turkey liver, and I decided to try some...oh it was gross!!!  I guess liver is an acquired taste.  At least I left more for her!

Among the other things we did were explore the cute and cozy downtown area, shop at the local stores, meet Narayne's neighbors, listened to lots of Christmas music, and saw the Lee's Marketplace where Mike used to work.  Narayne also gave us a "pre-Christmas package," which included silly, fun trinkets like a small felt snowman pillow and some ornaments, and a beautiful Christmas tree skirt.  It's a deep red with a cursive gold "R" on it.  While we didn't have a tree, I imagined how lovely it would look in our future home.  She also gave us a Charlie Brown Christmas tree!  It's the perfect size for our little apartment, so we were going to have a Christmas Tree after all.  It's good to have such an great mother-in-law.  She has a very giving and hospitable personality.  We felt very well taken care of while we were there.

(This is a picture I found online.  I'll have a picture of OURS in our apartment in my December post.)

It's hard taking pictures on my phone since there's only a camera on one side...  This is the best shot I was able to get of us on our way to church, hahaha.

The snowy mountains were so beautiful.  I love getting to see them every now and again.  They just seem magical, since I'm used to the Louisiana swamp lands: tons of trees, little to no hills, and rarely ever any snow.

So then it was back to Louisiana, and school...  I was sad to leave Narayne's company and Utah's landscape, but at least the semester was winding up, and it being almost December meant it was almost time to see my family in Houston!  November and December are my favorite months of the year because I get to spend so much time with family.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Time to catch-up

Now that it's summer, and I have had plenty of free time, it's time for a blog update.  I don't even know where to begin, since a lot has happened and I've got a good 8 or 9 months of our lives to cover.  My plan is to do a blogpost a day to cover everything.  Now that life is slow, I feel like keeping the blog current is going to be an easy thing to do.

Basically, our summer has been spent mostly working.  We've had a couple of nice vacations visiting family, but otherwise our summer has been very lazy, chill, and relaxing.  Looking back, I could have been more productive, as in I had plenty of opportunities to update the blog/do crafts/read books/exercise/etc, but it just feels so good to lay in bed all day when you have no obligations!  It's almost like I know I won't be able to do nothing when the semester starts, or when I start having kids, so I'm enjoying it while it's here.  Now that I've had my fill of nothingness, I'm ready to get things done.  And so now, a blog!

Here is  list of the happenings in the Rougeau home by month.  Over the next week or so, I'll go more into detail on these things in about a post a day.

November 2011

  • Natalie starts teaching a Sunday School class for chuch
  • Thanksgiving with Narayne in Logan, UT

December 2011

  • December 10 - Fall classes end
  • December 12-23 - Winter Intersession class (Human Physiology) for Natalie
  • Christmas and New Year's with my family in Houston

January 2012

  • January 11 - Back to Houston to welcome Elder Nicholas Egan home from his mission to Phoenix, AZ
  • January 17 - Spring classes start, Natalie starts working on her Dental Hygiene application to the LSU Dental School in New Orleans
  • January 28 - Go to Houston (again) at the end of the month to see Jennifer play as Hedy LaRue in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying


  • Natalie starts playing kinda takes over her life

  • Natalie submits her Dental Hygiene application and is invited to interview


  • April 1 - totally prank Facebook on April Fool's Day by announcing Natalie's pregnant.  (people are STILL mad at us about it)
  • April 2 - Interview for Natalie at the hygiene school
  • April 7 - Crawfish with the Huddlestons in Pineville, LA


  • May 7 - Spring classes end, Natalie's first "C" in college (darn Parasitology)
  • Natalie receives a rejection letter from the Dental Hygiene Program
  • Natalie becomes the Relief Society Visiting Teaching Coordinator for church


  • June 2-4 - see family in Houston for a few days, Natalie starts working on her Raising Cane's T-shirt quilt and pillows
  • June 8 - Narayne comes to Baton Rouge, on June 9 we three drive to Lake Charles to see Grandma and Grandpa Mills
  • June 10 - Our wedding anniversary
  • June 16 - Blue Bayou with Narayne


  • June 30-July 8 - 4th of July celebration in Bartlesville, OK, with every member of Natalie's family present for the first time in two years
  • July 7 - Michael starts his new salaried job at Trendsic Coorporation
  • Natalie is asked to become a manager at Raising Cane's
  • July 13-23 - Steam Summer Sale!!  Michael buys a lot of much wanted PC video games for dirt cheap
  • July 28 (this Saturday) - visit to Pineville to see the Huddlestons and welcome Elder Cory Huddleston home

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

So I realize it's been a while.

And this blog is CRYING OUT for a new post.

It's not that nothing has been going on.  A lot's been happening in our lives, so I definitely have things to report.  It's now just that I've come up with an hierarchy of things to do, a list that tells me what tasks are more important than others.

It is as follows:

  1. School work & my job
  2. Getting my Dental Hygiene Application finished early, but definitely by the mid-March deadline
  3. Having my home clean(ish)
  4. Finishing Thank You cards (I've been married almost 8 months!! They should be done already...)
  5. Updating the blog
So there you have it!  Updating the blog is important, but not as important as those other things.  I've been trying to fill my free time with items 2-4.  Maybe one day when I find I have accomplished  good bit of the other priorities, I'll get on here and post about something from the past few months.

Until then, you can sometimes find snippets of my and Michael's life mentioned in the blog my sister Jane updates since we're both in Baton Rouge and do a good bit of hanging out!  My latest adventure was at the zoo with my precious niece Halle.  Jane blogged about it here (

So sorry!  We'll be seeing y'all around.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sleepnessless, Squirrels, SEC, and Spooks

Earlier today (yesterday?), like usual, I got home from school, ate some food, goofed off on the Internet for a bit, then started some schoolwork.  Today it was Chinese, since there's homework due and a quiz on these words on Friday.  Unlike usual, as I was working on my homework I decided to take a short nap and finish it later.  And as what always happens when I decide to take a "short" nap, I wake up 4&1/2 hours later to find it's 10:15pm and barely any of my homework is finished.  Did this affect my ability to sleep tonight?  Yes.  Once 1:00am rolled around, I was still wide awake...ruh roh! So after and hour and a half of trying to go to sleep, I decided to just go sit on the futon and blog on my laptop.  It's now 3:00am.  Hopefully that 1/3 dose of NyQuil will kick in before too long.

Part of the reason I think for my nap is that we have a darn squirrel that decides right outside our bedroom window's the place to be.  We have an AC unit under our window that keeps our home relatively cool, but the way it's hooked up to the wall outside makes a prime place for a squirrel to make a lot of noise.  He gets right under it and scratches or something on the metal supports, which carries the sound throughout the entire unit and wakes us up at 7 in the morning (I know you probably get up then or earlier, but our first obligations are at 10:30, so you can see how this could bother us).  Every morning for the past week has been interrupted by our new neighbor!  I've started trying to scare it with loud noises and spray it with a water bottle.  I even bought a fake rat (half off after Halloween!) to put in the squirrel's favorite place to try to deter it, but to no avail.  The pesty creature must have figured out the rat's not alive or a threat because we still woke up to scratching sounds this morning.  Michael wants it dead--like, he wants to set a trap for it or put out poison for it to eat.  I don't want to kill it because I kind of like having squirrels and birds and other animals hanging around our apartment complex, but this is just bothersome.  We're considering calling up management to see if they can do anything about it.

Our "balcony" on our second-story apartment.  (note my use of a door stopper after searching all over for something wedge-like)
 The squirrel likes to, I think, break acorns on the supports, causing that awful scratching sound.
 And I often find him dashing into our little water heater closet outside.  Is he stockpiling acorns in this warm spot for "winter?"
The fake rat we bought!  I thought it would surely work, that he would be too afraid to encroach on this scary guy's territory, but I guess squirrels are smarter than we thought (but they STILL run the wrong way in traffic).

Another reason for my inability to sleep has to do with the fact that I got out of bed at 7:30 this morning to go hang out at Dr. Shea's Office.  "Why?" you might say, "Didn't you get fired?"  Well...yes.  I got let go because my school schedule just wasn't conducive to dental assisting, and it's too weird to be a part-time assistant.  BUT, I feel I'm still part of the practice!  They've invited me to still come and hang out when I want, this week especially because this Saturday is the LSU/Alabama game!  "What does a dentist's office have to do with football?" you might ask.  Well...Dr. Shea, while he went to the LSU dental school, got his undergrad from, you guessed it, Bama!!!!  The week these two school play, his dental office becomes a sea of Dr. Shea's crimson and white and every one else's purple and gold.  I went over there this morning for a couple hours to partake in the festivities, of course dressed in true Tiger Spirit.  I like that, even though I don't work there anymore, everything left off on a good note.  I enjoy those guys.

Me showing off my tiger hat and festive, heeled, Chuck-like Steve Madden boots.
There's an elephant in the room...literally.

In other news, my Halloween night was spent studying for we didn't do anything FUN or EXCITING for Halloween.  But I did dress up for class!  I figured, "It's Halloween, I'm sure a bunch of people are going to be dressed up today."  I also had items lying around my house to dress up like a girly Homestar Runner, so I also figured "Hey, I'll dress up like Homestar, and since people are my around age here tons of people will know who I am and tell me 'Hey, cool costume!'"  Both of these assumptions turned out to be FALSE.    I got comments like "Wow, what are you dressed up as?" and stares.  Even the girl in my Chinese class who I thought was WAY nerdier than me didn't recognize my guise.  I only saw three other people dressed up on campus, one being a ketchup bottle and the other two being Mario & Luigi.  Looks like I'm pretty dorky for dressing up like an online cartoon character that's little known in Baton Rouge.  But oh well!  At least I was extremely adorable!  I'm proud of my make shift costume, no matter what people say (or don't say, in this case because of the lack of comments...).
Homestaw Wunno!

Maybe I'll try to get some sleep now...we'll see how that works.

**update: I got to sleep, woke up at 7:10 to tell the squirrel to take a hike, then went back to sleep & got up at 10:40.  I feel pretty well rested!

Sunday, October 23, 2011


I would have blogged about this earlier, but school got in the way.  Now I have this lovely Sunday afternoon to blog.

Our birthdays are very close to each other: Mike's is September 23rd and mine is October 10th.  With only a few weeks between them, it's a great time for us to do a bunch of partying!

Michael's Birthday
We didn't do all of the celebrating for Michael's birthday on just one day.  We would have had it not been for our school and work schedules: he goes to class before I do, I was at work before he came home, and I worked until 9 that night.  Instead of going somewhere and doing something then, we decided to just have a nice dinner the next day.  I wish I had pictures, but we were having too much fun to think about getting out the camera!

What we did on his birthday:

  • I tried to make his day special by cooking him breakfast.  The day before, I bought potatoes, eggs, onions, a green bell pepper, bacon and orange juice so I could make him scrambled eggs with diced vegetables, hash browns (using our lovely America's Test Kitchen cookbook), and...well, bacon.  (I ended up making two batches of the hash browns because I didn't make the first one right and it burned, so it was quite icky.)
  • After we both were off of work, we went to Jacob and Jane's house, where Jane fed us a SUPERB steak dinner.  We were too full to eat the cake right afterwards, so we had to chill out for a while until our stomachs could fit it in.  How great it is to have family so close!  I love getting to hang out with Jane, listening to Jacob and Michael talk law and politics, and watching Halle jump around like a frog.
What we did the next day:
  • We wanted to go to our favorite Jamaican restaurant about half an hour from us (Michael served his mission in Jamaica, and this place had a Jamaican woman cook everything there), but when we called they didn't answer.  Mike told me that they weren't getting enough business and that they were going to close down, so we wondered if they were gone now.  (Their website is still up, though.  I thought we might try going to The Chimes ( because it's close and a big part of LSU culture, but there was an away LSU game that evening and we figured it would be PACKED with loud, drunk people watching the game on a Saturday night.  After asking Jane about her favorite places, we decided on a place called Zea Rotisserie & Grill (  It was a little bit expensive, but we sure got some amazing food.  I ordered a rotisserie chicken.  It was weird/funny to see half of a cooked chicken sitting on my plate.  Mike got this great salmon dish that was absolutely perfect.

Natalie's Birthday
Unfortunately midterms fell on the week of my birthday (but I got A's on all of them, so that's a nice birthday gift), which meant I had to do a bunch of studying on and around my b-day, but luckily Fall Break was at the end of that week!  Like Michael's, my birthday was spread out over a few days as well.
  • The first event of the day was dropping my car off at the local Campus Car Care to get an oil change!   Then started class, took my Speech midterm, came home, and then picked up my car.  After Mike and I got back from that, we heard a knocking on the door.  When I opened the curtains to see who it was, I saw that it was my Halle girl!  She gave me a rose she and Jane picked from the store.  It was so sweet!  Jane also gave me a tray of assorted cheesecakes and some left over groceries from her WIC benefits...namely a block of cheese and a dozen eggs!  I really was stoked to have them, which surprised me, but even more stoked that Jane and Halle took time out of their day to wish me a happy birthday.  After thy left, Michael went to a mock law class and informational session put on by the LSU Law School, and I studied for my Psychology midterm and quiz for the next day.
    When Michael came home, I looked over at the door, him dressed up all nice from his law thing, and he had a dozen red roses in his hand!  They were absolutely beautiful!  I put them in a vase and set them in a prominent spot in our home (namely, next to the computer).
    Then we went out to do our own celebrations.  I didn't really want to have an actual  cake, all I wanted were beignets, so we headed over to Coffee Call ( and ate our fill of those glorious fried, powdered delights and washed them down with hot chocolate.  I liked how it felt like a fun date, and the whole time Michael made me feel so pampered and so special.
    Our cute little Coffee Call in Baton Rouge.
    Hot chocolate and beignets! Yum!
    Michael got powdered sugar on his nice black pants.  Oh no!  We put the really flimsy napkins they provided on the table on his lap....I think it helped.
    The aftermath, plus the last beignet neither of us could finish. We put it in a bag and brought it home.

    The best part was when we came home.  Before we left, Michael ran back inside to "grab something." What he actually did was pull something up on the computer, so when I came home I saw this on the screen:

    IT WAS THE BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!!!!!!!!1111!1  :D  Oh man, I've been so excited to play this game.  I beat it yesterday.  What a masterpiece of gaming.  Great writing, funny/epic storyline, awesome characters, mind-boggling puzzles...   I feel enriched and satisfied.  I love my husband so much.
  • Fall Break started that Wednesday, October 12th, and we had the whole weekend off.  We went to Houston to spend time with my family.  While I was over there, we did a lot of relaxing, my mom and I did a lot of shopping at garage sales, and Jennifer did a lot of playing Zelda on our Nintendo 3DS... ;)  My parents were very kind to us!  They fed us yummy food, bought me a bunch of housewarming stuff, and made a chocolate "cupcake cake."

    A few of the fun things we got.  The red caddy, most of those utensils in it, cutting boards, and a blender I've been using a lot.

    We got this lovely thing at a garage sale. It ended up making my official "birthday cake."

    I had a great birthday week, but at the same time it's weird how different this birthday has been from how I viewed them as a kid.  22's really not an exciting number...  The past few years it's been "License!" "Voting!" "Not a teenager any more!" "Old enough to buy alcohol!"  Now it's like "Oh, I guess I'm older today."  That's how I felt the entire morning of my birthday.  It wasn't a bad thing, though.  It just seemed like a normal day.  And all I wanted were beignets.  BEIGNETS!  I didn't want prime rib or Melting Pot or diamonds or clothes or jewelry or a huge cake or a party or anything like that, I just wanted to be around the people I love.  I suppose that's how most of my birthdays will be for the rest of my life!  I'm lucky, though, to have friends and family who still make it special for me even when I feel like it's just any other day, and I'm so blessed to have such a wonderful husband who makes me feel like a princess not just when I'm a year older, but most days in general!

    Life's pretty good.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Slow cooking

I am absolutely in love with my slow cooker. (Sorry Michael....but you know you're in love with it, too.) One of my favorite wedding gifts is our huge, red Crock Pot. It makes life so convenient.

We registered for it on our Target registry but didn't get it right away (but we DID have a Crock Pot cookbook...), so the first little while we were married I tried to feed both Michael and myself by cooking over the stove. While we had some good meals, it was so tedious to have to slice different vegetables in varying sizes, prepare meat, simmer sauce before anything cook be cooked, coordinate which vegetables to put in so each are cooked at the same time...ugh!!! It's fine every now and then, but trying to make a good meal a few times a week was difficult. To top it off, when I finally had the meal done, it wasn't enough to feed both of us and there would be no leftovers, so I would have to do all of that vegetable cutting AGAIN next time we wanted real food. It was more time than I wanted to spend with us both working full-time, so consequently we've had our fair share of pizza, bowls of cereal, oatmeal, PB&J's, Raising Cane's, and mac&cheese for dinner. One's body really notices that a few days of that just makes it feel BLEH. What could be done??

The glorious day came when we received our beautiful CROCK POT!!! Oh what a happy day that was. Since then, I've made four recipes that have each fed us for days and days, and each recipe increases in tastiness as I get better at the "art of slowcooking." I love being able to cut up a bunch of vegetables and meat once, then throw it in the pot and have it be cooking while I work, study, run errands, or clean. Then, when I'm done, we eat our fill and have PLENTY left. Bliss.

  1. Chicken Noodle Soup: Our first Crock Pot meal. This was the one I choose because it was the only one we actually had ingredients for. I say "had ingredients for" not really truthfully, though, because I didn't have chicken broth, egg noodles, or bouillon cubes. But I DID have a can of cream of chicken soup and a pack of ramen noodles with chicken seasoning! I used those instead. (It also needed chicken thighs and celery, but I didn't deem them completely necessary.) I was so excited to use my crock pot for the first time, I threw everything in the pot and plugged it in, but two hours later I realized...I forgot to turn the knob on. So we had soup at 10pm instead of 7:30... Once it was done, it made a yummy meal as well as leftovers for a few nights. Michael, who is kinda "eh" about chicken noodle soup, nommed it up and said it was the best chicken noodle soup he ever had.
  2. Cajun Beef Stew: Very yummy, and very Cajun! I didn't have a Cajun seasoning mix, but I had something better: TONY'S! I even remembered to turn on the crock pot that time. :) This time we had stew beef cut into cubes celery, carrots, onions, potatoes, and peas (it called for frozen, but I just used canned peas we already owned) in the mix. I had to go buy corn starch for this one and simmer it separately before adding it. Does it actually add to flavor, or does it only serve to make the juices pretty?
  3. Spin on Cajun Beef Stew: We had left over beef and vegetables from the last one since I cut up so much it wouldn't fit in the pot. I also had my family coming in to town for Labor Day, so I wanted to show off my apartment AND feed them a meal we bought and cooked ourselves. I opted out of using corn starch because I didn't feel like it, and I put in some balsamic dressing I made the other night as a glaze for some asparagus. Then I threw in brown rice...and lentils. I wasn't sure if it was going to be yummy or weird! My dad absolutely loved it, and my mom (who apparently wasn't hungry enough for a big bowl) went for seconds! Halle (my wonderful 2-year-old niece) loved it, too, and wanted to each not only the rice, but all of the meat and vegetables. William liked it, but didn't like the texture of the "beans" (the lentils). Great success that could have been an odd failure.
  4. Pork Ribs: Not in the Crock Pot cookbook, but in the America's Test Kitchen recipe book I own (which is amazing). This was the first time I bought a huge chunk of meat from the store (5 lbs!), and was kind of intimidated by it. I just cut the ribs apart like I'd seen anytime I'd eaten ribs before, but it was SO WEIRD to see this rack of ribs and imagining it as part of a pig that was once alive. It's different when you buy chicken breast or pre-cut cubes of beef. This time we used great northern beans, barbecue sauce, sausage, sage, thyme, bay leaves, onions, and a can of diced tomatoes. The recipe called for browning the meat, simmering the tomatoes and onions with white wine, and more work, but I was lazy and just threw it in. The result was perfectly seasoned, fall-of-the-bone, melt-in-your-mouth style ribs and tasty soup on the side. We're still enjoying this now.
The best part about cooking is figuring out what tastes good together and what you can do to alter a recipe. Well...the best part is actually EATING what you make, and having your husband love it, too. :)