Joey’s List Musical Interludes: Bossa Nova

With our angel Joey scheduled to come into this world in under two months, I have been playing songs on Jenelle’s belly to give her a taste, if only prenatally of her parents musical tastes.

Music is a very important thing to Jenelle as well as her Grand Pa Frank and Nanna Sandra. They all get such joy from attending concerts or singing Karaoke that I know that if Joey could grow up she would be attending all sorts of concerts all over the world with her mumma, Grand Pa and Nanna.

Friday’s selection was Best of Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’65. I have had this album for at least 15 years and it is one of my favorites. Now for people my age who hear “Sergio Mendes” and immediately think of elevator music and easy listening covers of rock tunes, that is Brasil ’66. And oh what a difference a year makes. You can check out the whole album of Best Of Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’65 at Amazon.com or if you prefer iTunes.

Here are the four songs I played.

Consolação

She’s a Carioca

Tristeza Em Mim

Favela

Joey’s List: Musical Interludes II

As you may know, Jenelle and I are expecting our first child next February. In July we found out our baby Joey was diagnosed with a severe, and unfortunately fatal, Neural Tube Defect and is not expected to live more than a day. To celebrate her all too brief life Jenelle and I are keeping a list of experiences she would have had if she wasn’t expected to leave us so soon.

Last night I played the following song for Joey. It is a VERY popular song in Australia as you will see in the second video.

You’re The Voice John Farnham – This version was played.

Having seen that, I played a favorite version of the song by Coldplay.

You’re The Voice Coldplay with John Farnham – This version was played.

After that Jenelle wanted to play a version that was her and her brother Matt’s favorite. She explained they would pantomime the actions of John Farnham as kids. In fact she started to ape his actions as she lay in bed.

You’re The Voice John Farnham – This version was played.

This final version was not played for our little Joey.  It is a scene in the Andy Samberg vehicle Hot Rod.  I had seen this movie before Jenelle and I met and the song didn’t register.  When I watched it on Netflix a few months ago, I recognized it right away.

You’re The Voice John Farnham

Joey’s List: Musical Interludes

As you may know, Jenelle and I are expecting our first child next February. In July we found out our baby Joey was diagnosed with a severe, and unfortunately fatal, Neural Tube Defect and is not expected to live more than a day. To celebrate her all too brief life Jenelle and I are keeping a list of experiences she would have had if she wasn’t expected to leave us so soon.

Songs For Joey

While we wait for our Joey to make her grand appearance I have been playing songs on my iPhone against Jenelle’s tummy. I wish I had cataloged them from the get go. Here are the ones I have been able to remember.

Note: Not all the videos are of the version I played.

Big Bad John – Jimmy Dean

This is a song I strongly associate with my oldest brother John who passed away in 1990.

Wives and Lovers – Ed Ames

Jenelle is not a fan of this song (nor am I of the outdated message) but it was played ironically because it is a great song and Bacharach is a genius. As that was not only not the version I played, but a different singer all together, I am embedding the most famous video of Ed Ames.

Linus and Lucy – Vince Guaraldi – A Charlie Brown Christmas – Version Played

This was the first jazz song I ever appreciated. (Along with countless others no doubt)

Camel Walk – Southern Culture on the Skids – Dirt Track Date – Version Played

This one was another goof as it gets Jenelle cuckoo.

Bill B – Cal Tjader Quartet – jazz at the blackhawk – Version Played

This is actually where Linus and Lucy compser Guaraldi got his start as the piono player for Vibraphone master Cal Tjaders Quartet in the late ’50’s

Traveler Bill Test Kitchen: Dim Sims

While Traveler Nell is away in her homeland I have had a lot of time to fill up, as well as I have been left to fend for myself. I decided to mash these two problems together to form one solution… Make myself Dim Sims.

Dim sims, or “Dimmies” are Chinese dumplings for the the Australian palate.  They are a particular favorite of Traveler Nell.  And while there are countless varieties her preference is for the Pork, Prawn and Cabbage.

In all honesty we have been planning on trying to home-make these for some time.  In fact, a while back when we found ourselves in Chinatown, we picked up a package of wonton wrappers.  Knowing that I had these in my pantry I decided to put them together this weekend.

With Traveler Nell out of town I had to determine a mix for the filling.  I opted for this Food.com.au recipe as a starting off point.

So this past Sunday night I ventured into the fray.  Essentially tripling the recipe, it ended up looking like this…

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The Filling Mix for the dumplings. Ground pork, shrimp, cabbage, scallions, fresh ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, eggs and corn starch.

After making the filling I pulled out the wrappers…

They were stale.

And moldy.

So needless to say I was disappointed.  I had over a kilo of filling and nowhere to put it.  While on lunch the next day I went to a local hippy foods establishment and grabbed a couple packages of egg roll wrappers. Then, as soon as I got home, the steamer was set to HIGH and I set to assembling.

A dim sim is supposed to be larger than a typical dumpling.  That said, my dimmies were extremely generously filled.  After I had three ready I placed them in the steamer.

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Raw dumpling in the steamer basket

Let me take a break from the blog to do a little algebra

Raw Pork + Raw Shrimp = Bad News

That in mind I made sure to steam them for a generous 15 (closer to 20) minutes. Nerdishly I took the internal temperature of the dumplings before opening them up. The all registered around170° F. (75° Celsius)

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Serving suggestion, with low sodium soy sauce.

The first one out was opened in the kitchen for examination. I wanted to double check the doneness and give it a try.  It met my (admittedly low) bar of edibility.  I put the remaining two on the plate with the low sodium soy sauce and allowed them to cool as I wrapped the remainder, prepping them for the freezer.

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With one of the dumplings cut open

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Detail of the cooked filling.

I was amazed how easy it was to put these Dim Sims together. It was ridiculously simple (As long as you have wrappers!) and I will not hesitate to make these again. I’ll probably try to make them a skosh smaller as I only got a dozen dumplings out of my supersized adaptation.

Joey’s List: Home Time With Mumma

I know it has been a while since the last Joey’s List installment but believe me when I say that we have been checking them off .  But this update is about one I didn’t think would be possible.

Joey is in her mother’s homeland of Australia.

On Thursday September 19 Jenelle and I foreshadowed the trip with this Vine we posted on my account.

She left Brooklyn this past Sunday at 4:00 PM and arrived at her home in Melbourne a little before Noon on Tuesday. This is more than 30 hours of travel door to door. But Nellie is a champion long haul traveler; even with Joey wreaking havoc on her tummy.  A bunch of friends in family knew she was coming home but it just wouldn’t be a trip home if there wasn’t a surprise or two. Though not to the level of The 2009 Christmas Miracle.

The Surprise – 3pm Christmas Eve from Jenelle Blevins on Vimeo.

First off, Nellie’s Nan. Unsuspecting that Nellie was going to be there, she just figured they were getting together for Tuesday lunch all together. In fact everyone in Australia was so afraid they were going to tip the surprise they wouldn’t answer the phone when Nan called. Everyone except me. I told a gentle fib to keep her in the dark, saying that Nellie had hit the sack a little early.

A few short hours later, she was being hugged by Nellie as the met for a lunch of en she landed her parents had a variety of comfort foods waiting for her.

Clockwise from the left: Pickled Onion, Fish Fry, Potato Cakes and Dim Sims.
Clockwise from the left: Pickled Onion, Fish Fry, Potato Cakes and Dim Sims.

There were other adventures to be had in Australia.  An AFL Grand Final Party (although we were disappointed it wasn’t watching our beloved ‘Pies battle for the flag), a concert in a club, meeting friends (some by surprise) and getting her hair styled by old friends.

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Mumma Working It!

Additionally, this past weekend, Nellie was able to schedule a high quality ultrasound at a local clinic.  It was nice that her parents were able to attend and they got some wonderful photos of our Angel Joey.

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Nellie, is making the return flight later this week.  I am counting the minutes until she returns with my Angel.

An Update on Joey

We had a “second opinion” earlier this week. And while the Doctor at Cornell was imprecise in her explanation of what was wrong, the actual diagnosis has an identical prognosis.

As it turns out Joey has a condition called EXencephaly as opposed to ANencephaly, which despite the subtle differences, is essentially the same condition.

She was still spinning around, waving her hands in the air. But the “something odd” I thought I saw turned out to be “Floating Neural Matter” (which is how Dr. Miller at the ultrasound described it.)

We are soldiering on. Jenelle is convinced she will carry to term so we are continuing with the prenatal appointments. Next month we’ll be finding out officially if Joey is the diminutive of Josephine or Joseph.

Until then, please keep Jenelle and Joey in your thoughts and prayers.

Joey’s List: Home Made Pizza

Jenelle and I are expecting our first child next February. In July we found out our baby Joey was diagnosed with a severe Neural Tube Defect and is not expected to live more than a day. To celebrate her all too brief life Jenelle and I are keeping a list of experiences she would have had if she wasn’t expected to leave us so soon.

Joey’s List: Home Made Pizza

I love pizza.  I acknowledge this isn’t a very controversial position.  That said, I am certain at some point I would have taught Joey how to make home made pizza.

During Jenelle and my 2012 trip to Rome we visited the Coliseum and it was there I found a round book, entirely in Italian, giving 50 pizza recipes.  I wanted to buy this book…I’m talking REALLY wanted to buy it.  But Jenelle made some excellent points…namely it was in Italian, so on the shelf it remained.

It was a few weeks after we got back that I received a mystery package at work.  Inside was this.

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Conveniently translated into English by the good people at Readers Digest.  I’ve have the book for a year now and this is the first time I have used the recipe for the dough, which was amazingly simple.

1 cup of warm water divided.
1/2 tbsp Active Dry Yeast
2 cups of Bread Flour plus more for the counter
1/3 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil (optional)

In a measuring cup add the yeast to 1/2 cup of warm water, put aside until frothy – 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile mix the flour and salt together in a medium bowl.  Add the yeast mixture along with the oil if using into flour and stir.  Add the second half cup of warm water gradually until you have a sticky cohesive dough.  Turn onto the counter and knead for 8-10 minutes until a smooth ball that does not stick to your hands or the counter.

Place in a large oiled bowl and let rise covered for an hour. Turn your oven to it’s highest non-broil setting (500°F) and shape your dough into a disk.  Add whatever topping you prefer; we used ham and pineapple on one (a VERY popular pie in Australia) and the leftover ham on the second.

They turned out pretty good.  I cannot wait to try the recipe again.

Here I am, kneading the pizza dough.

The first pizza was a ham and pineapple pie as that is a popular flavor in Australia a favorite of Jenelle. Obviously I approve.

The second pizza I made…mostly cheese with a smidge of black forest ham.

Here is the Hawaiian pizza, close up.
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Such is my dedication to the craft that I found myself with this mild burn at the base of my thumb.
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Joey’s List: Piccola Italia – Little Italy

Jenelle and I are expecting our first child next February. In July we found out our baby Joey was diagnosed with a severe Neural Tube Defect and is not expected to live more than a day. To celebrate her all too brief life Jenelle and I are making a list of experiences she would have had if she wasn’t expected to leave us so soon.

Joey’s List: Little Italy

This week we met with the comfort team at Columbia Presbyterian that will make Joey’s birth as gentle and memorable for us all.

Here is a window our Joey could be looking out one day. Jenelle and our doctor were chatting about immigration tests. Joey’s doctor is from Italy, one of our very favorite places in the world.

Since we aren’t going to be able to bring Joey to Rome, we decided to do the next best thing. On our way we decided to shop a bit in Little Italy. (Admittedly, the gap between “best” and “next best” is quite wide.)

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In the first of two stores we got some imported tortellini stuffed with porcini mushrooms
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And dried Cannerone, a macaroni.
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In the second store we picked up a package of fresh stuffed shells.
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Note the string that was applied at the shop with a machine that is easily as old as me.

While we have other Italian adventures planned, they all pale to Rome. Two years ago I never even thought about visiting Italy and it saddens me our Joey will never visit the Eternal City, one of the places her parents love most.

Joey’s List: Our Happy Little Vegemite

Yet another update to Joey’s List. Todays checkmark is Vegemite on Toast with Hot Chocolate.

For those unfamiliar with Vegemite it is a staple in Australian cupboards. To my palate it tastes like a salty beef bouillon paste. That said, I really enjoy it. A thin schmear on lightly buttered toast with a sliced boiled egg is my idea of a great on the go breakfast.

You may also remember it from the Men at Work hit ‘Down Under.” (Scroll to 1:10.)

Jenelle has always been a “Happy Little Vegemite.

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She eats it for breakfast, lunch and tea. Here she is having lunch earlier this week. As you can see she also likes to dunk her toast into the hot chocolate. (Much to the chagrin of Joey’s Blevins half)

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And as a special added bonus, here is a vintage Vegemite ad.

Ear Worm of the Day: Mike and the Mechanics

Have you ever had an Ear Worm?  Of course you have because you are a human being or a sentient animal.  I’ve had one for a couple days now and it’s time for me to pass it on to you.

Mike + the Mechanics “All I Need is a Miracle.”  Off their self titled debut album from 1985. For the record, the recording below is a live version but this Ear Worm (which is from 1:25 to 1:46) is perfectly captured in this performance.

Ear Worm Annoyance Level: Inchworm