Monday, November 30, 2009

baba capra status report for december 1, 2009

Cooking class: I signed up for French Bistro Classics A, since that was the most popular, and when has popular ever steered us wrong? Thrill! As I shave my fingers off making Truffle Pommes Dauphine! Gasp! As I drop rosemary stems into the ice cream custard! Drool! As I eat my whole New York steak and don't share!

House: We're taking a break from remodeling for a while, because John made me promise. But once we're into the new year I'm painting our bed. I think I'll try a pale dove grey (am copying Sandi, but hers is really more of a charcoal grey, so no harm). Then the last piece of nasty pale purple office carpet is coming out. I might leave the wallpaper up, because it's a metallic gold damask pattern. So quirky! The woman who lived here before us was artistic and modpodged old-timey magazine pictures on all the doors, and hand-painted a cartoon swan on the outside of the tub.

A. Goat: We hear that the chicken is in the pot, by which I mean the buck goat has put his half of the baby-making ingredients into Traci's kid bed (calf bed for cows, kid bed for goats) and made a little zygoat. Get it? Zy-goat? Ha! Reproductive farming humor! I'm excited to have little babies running around in the spring. They're the best part of gentleman farming. Except when they're orphaned, because then they're mainly loud more than anything else.

How do you like his stupid tailypo eyes? Not pictured: the seven other cats who think they live here.

B. Cats: Freaking cats. It's like a cat army up in here. Last night John went out to water the chickens, and there was a cat inside the pen--getting ready to suck their breath, no doubt--and he was so wigged about John that he spent the next five minutes running and ricocheting off the sides of the chicken run. FwoompBAM fwoompBAM fwoompBAM fwoompBAM until John had mercy after he was done laughing and moved to the corner opposite the door so the cat could escape. They make a Cat King every night in our garage and we even bought litter for them, but do they use it? No, and I'll tell you why: they suck. They want us to hate them.

C. Chickens: I like letting them out to graze, but they really, really like pooping on the patio, and only on the patio. A lot, they like it. So there are only a few days a week I can pull that off before John starts getting eye twitches. They are laying eggs like they were born to do it, and I swear we've got a triple-yolker in the fridge. None of them have been eaten by a skunk yet, and I'm giving credit to either the Australorp rooster or the butch Columbian Rock hen. I think I'll name her Miss Boland, after the nurse in the Soup books who asks the kids if their bowels have moved today.

our thanksgiving

My pie carrier next to my rosemary tree that cost only ten dollars at Whole Foods. I didn't even think about the poor little eight-year-old who must have grown it in a sweatshop greenhouse. Shame on me.

We had about 75 people at our Thanksgiving dinner this year, so it's true what you suspected, that we are better than you. Your family totally isn't as close as ours. It was in my uncle's shop, because that's the only place big enough to fit our awesome bulk. He and his lovely wife my aunt (who is on track to run one thousand miles this year, I'm not joking) sell Motorola products and such. We saw the famous captive geyser in Soda Springs from afar after returning from our tree harvesting (we knock out the forest, extract the tree we want, then put the forest in a bathtub of ice and write "CALL FOREST SERVICE" on its chest in lipstick--try this at home*), but we didn't go play in it. It's warm, but not that warm. We'll save it for summer.

I went to the Oriental Market in Riverdale on Wednesday and bought two bamboo steamers, and aside from the big stoneware pie dish that my visiting teachers gave me instead of a lesson one time--which worked out great for both of us--all of my pies fit in it and could be transported without endangering their delicate lardy buttery crusts. Something bad happened after dinner, though. My grandma whipped a bunch of cream for her squash pie, which was amazing as always (and did I mention that the squash was the nice big one I grew in MY OWN GARDEN?), but somehow there had been a container of salt emptied into the sugar bin, so it was like a sugar/salt mixture, and when she put it in the cream it made it taste bad. In case you thought otherwise. Not good on pie at all. But then we whipped some more and everything was fine and our family ate at least ten squash pies over the weekend. By contrast I brought peach blueberry, apple pear cranberry, lemon, and three other pie crusts that my cousin filled with banana cream, coconut cream, and blueberry cream, and my aunt brought a couple of pecan pies. None of these pies got eaten all the way. We love us some squash pie. The other conclusion that can be drawn is that Bethie and Sandi and I brought sucky pies, which I refuse to believe. That would require self-examination and contemplation. No fun!

We accidentally left the cat in the house while we were gone. Overnight. He didn't poop anywhere that we can see, but he did sleep on my bed and get hair all over the down comforter. Hmm. Hair/poop. Hair/poop. I guess we lucked out.

*I stole that joke from John.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

must . . . buy . . . single-purpose . . . kitchen tool

For heck's sake. I never even thought of this. Last week for our pre-Thanksgiving dinner we just strung pies behind the back seat and hoped they would survive, which they did. But this! The benefits are twofold: I get to carry my pies in smoosh-free safety, AND I get to go to the Asian Food Market and buy stuff! I have a weakness for Asian dinnerware. Just ask my sushi plates. And my soy sauce dishes. And my chopsticks.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

the one about heidi

"Superwoman" is a term that gets bandied about so often that it has lost its punch. Frankly, there really aren't that many superwomen around. You can thank Syndrome and his Omnidroid for that. But I do know a few--my mom is one, my friend Jenny's mom was one, and my friend Heidi is one. No, she doesn't clear tall buildings in a single bound or have X-ray vision (she claims), but she is a smart, funny, practical and very capable woman with many strengths. Among her skills is the ability to crochet. And I'm just the sort of person to take advantage of her talent for my own gain. I saw a beautiful granny square afghan on Apartment Therapy last year and knew that I must needs collect it. I commissioned one from Heidi, and all these long months she has toiled away on it, spending I can't imagine how many hours on color pairings and tiny, perfect stitches. Here it is: Do you see how it is that I can never, ever repay her for this? It's so beautiful I almost can't look directly at it. I think I'll enter it in the county fair on her behalf and watch her win the sweepstakes ribbon. Look at these color combinations:
If she lived here I would cook for her for a year. But she wouldn't need me to, because she's totally gifted in the kitchen, too! Talent piggie. To sum up: I wish all of you had a Heidi. She's pretty great.

Monday, November 23, 2009

a few times I been 'round that track, so it's not just gonna happen like that

Are you ever reading one of your home/lifestyle magazines (which Ina Garten calls "shelter" magazines, sooooo twee) and you find yourself getting angry at the people in the stories? This happens to me all the time. Not surprising, because I yell at the TV, too. I get it from my grandpa. He used to shout, and maybe he still does, what do I know, "WHERE'S MY TV BRICK?" He's also to blame for me crying at things like the ambulatory Statue of Liberty stomping on the naughty ghosts in Ghostbusters Whichever That One Was.

Anyway, the things the subjects say in the magazine features ("We really try to draw ourselves and our guests into the living room, where the environment is so much softer.") always remind me of that Ab Fab episode when Patsy has gotten caught shagging an MP, I think, and she gets the horrible botched face lift in preparation for her interview with Hello! magazine, and the whole episode she's fantasizing about the Hello! piece ("Would you like to follow me into my gracious drawing room?" "I bless the wonder of life, and the newness of living."). I think it's sad that the magazine makes everyone sound so facile and materialistic. Unless they are, then good job, magazine! Way to expose hypocrisy while pretending to glorify it!

One of the guys in our ward left John a message saying, "This is the Home Teacher Data Commander. All Home Teaching programs are operating within prescribed parameters." You can't tell me that's not awesome.

The men working on the road up the hill from our house broke a water line and we have no water pressure and the toilets won't flush. This is one of the reasons I don't want to be a pioneer. They expect me to wash my dishes by hand? Like a caveperson? (I didn't say cavewoman because I don't accept the perpetual dominance of the patriarchy.) I realize now that it would be easy to infer from my remarks that I do my dishes in the toilet, which is not the case. I did have to do them in the bathtub for a while when we were remodeling the kitchen, and I'm grateful I no longer have to mash chunks through the drain grate.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

papa don't farm: part 1

I've been wanting to do a biased low-budget documentary, or, failing that, a series of biased articles, on the continuing decline of the American farmer. Farming is dear to my heart because 1) there's nothing like it for building character, and 2) I've never had to do it myself. Living where I do I have a number of sources whom I can pump for information, among them my dad, who owns a farm equipment dealership. But the thing is? I'm sort of scared of my dad. Not that he's going to hit me or anything, just that he'll wonder--possibly aloud--why I'm asking him about the cost of computerizing tractors, rather than, say, mowing my lawn (Because it's winter, dad! What? Why am I not cleaning my house, then? Uh . . . ). So I'm going to have to be sneaky about how I interview him. My first attempt was this morning. It went a little something like this:

I went into his office saying that we were driving past and Pinga wanted to come see him (it's true, she did). We discussed Pinga's holey cheek, then I smoothly segued into my real reason for visiting.

Me: "So, how goes the biz?"
Dad: "Oh, it's moving along."
Me: "Sometime I need to ask you about why it is that farm equipment costs so much more than it used to, and nobody can start farming now because he'd be dead before he paid off his land and equipment."
Dad (facial expression): "Sigh. I don't have time for this."
Dad (aloud): "Mm-hmm."
Me: " . . . and you've got people like [redacted] who are farming, what, 800 acres? And he's not getting rich."
Dad: "Oh, he does all right. But he got a lot of help in the beginning from his dad."
Dad (facial expression): "I would really like to get back to work."
Me: "Well, I guess I'll let you get back to work."

Tricksy, right? I bet he didn't even notice. He's going to be a tough nut to crack. So my hypothesis for this project is that even with the renewed interest in supporting small, local growers, farmers are still not making ends meet. I hope I find out that I'm wrong. Stay tuned for more of my skillacious investigative journalism.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

lisa, you're promoted to bart

Man, kings are always wanting a flying ship, or somebody to eat a mountain of bread, or somebody to drink a lake of wine,or imprisoning their daughters in a castle made of glass. Kings are the worst!

Tonight after I got home from Fat Fighters everyone wanted a treat. The Hulk chose to unload the dishwasher rather than eat a piece of apple pie.

I'm really full, because I ate a bowl of soup and two breadsticks, and also half a piece of pumpkin pie and a bite of apple pie already, but I'm still going to eat a goodly amount of my Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino ice cream. Just try and stop me, why don't you?

I never thought I'd get tired of buying my kids toys, but I am. Tired of it, I mean. Really tired.

Today Captain America was telling me something, and I couldn't even listen to him, he was so darn cute. I hugged him and told him I wanted to pinch his little cheeks. Then he repaid me for the compliment by dinking around downstairs and not cleaning up the Legos. Parenting lesson learned: do not compliment a child, or call attention to good behavior.

I really miss Domino. It failed and they gave me Cookie instead, which failed. Now the only "home and lifestyle" magazines I have left are BH&G and Country Living, which are old lady magazines, and I am not an old lady. Would an old lady jump off the couch onto a giant beanbag? Didn't think so. I do have a mean case of rheumatoid arthritis, though.

John refuses to vote in the comments, so the cooking class question is now a poll on the sidebar.

choose my own adventure

What does Utah have? Hillbillies! Polygamists! Mormons! Which are not the same thing anymore, I promise! Farmers! Cheesemakers (they are blessed)! Bakers! Earth nerds! Yuppies! People who give themselves enemas! Super Target! Walmart! As much as I'd like to say otherwise! Ikea! Sur La Table!

It is with that last that I concern myself, and why I have invited you here today. Remember how John doesn't think I know how to cook, I guess, and gave me a gift card to take a class from Sur La Table? Well, it's time to pay the piper. He can give me a gift card all he wants, but he's going to have to watch our people while I'm learning.

Here are a few of the choices that look good to me:

French Bistro Classics
MENU Truffle Pommes Dauphine - Frisee Salad with Poached Egg and Bacon - Grilled New York Steak with Red Wine Pan Sauce - Creamy Potato and Leek Gratin - Apple Tarte Tatin with Rosemary Ice Cream

Holiday Cooking for Family and Friends
MENU Three French Cheese Fondue with Toasted Ciabatta, Apples and Brussels Sprouts - Pancetta braised Greens in Phyllo Pastry - Pork Tenderloin Roast, Yams and Pecans with Maple-Bourbon Glaze - English Toffee Bread Pudding with Warm Berries

I can't do this one:
Bon Appetit: Roman Holiday
MENU Parmesan and Smoky Paprika Frico - Herb-Roasted Lamb Chops - Broccoli-Pecorino Gratinata - Panettone Panzanella with Pancetta and Brussels Sprouts - Apple-Cranberry Crisp with Polenta Streusel Topping
because John is going to be singing (in Abravanel Hall! Get your tickets now!) that night, which blows, because now scarcity has increased demand, and I've decided that it is the only class I really want to take at all. Do you like how what John giveth with one hand, he taketh away with the other?

And then after Christmas, when maybe I'll need something to do to keep from killing myself in the horrid stretch of nothingness that is post-holiday winter, there are these:

Dining Healthy for the New Year
MENU Roasted Butternut Squash, Lentil and Goat Cheese Salad - Panko Crusted Chicken with Mango-Mustard Sauce - Parchment Baked Black Cod with Fennel and Potatoes - Curried Coconut Soup with Chick Peas - Tangy Frozen Yogurt with Spiced Fruit Compote

French Bistro Classics, slightly different.
MENU Gougeres - Frisee Salad with Poached Egg and Bacon - Grilled Hanger Steak with Red Wine Pan Sauce - Creamy Potato and Leek Gratin - Apple Tarte Tatin

Classic Steakhouse Fundamentals
MENU Caesar Salad - New York Peppercorn Steak with Green Peppercorn Sauce - Twice Baked Potatoes - Creamed Spinach - Pear Bread Pudding with Crème Anglaise

So, I want all you crazy people to come on jump around, and also to choose which class I should take. Vote in the comments. Right now either of the the French Bistro Classics is looking the best to me, then probably the Dining Healthy one. And I realize that I may have chosen some of them based on hunger, not skill development. But I will bow to your mob rule and use any dissatisfaction to lobby for another gift card from my princely husband who knows what a girl wants, which is: to spend time doing what she loves.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

who wouldn't be happy doing the neutron dance?

I told you about that pie class our ward was having. People who came: the people who made the pies. But we could still trade tips and try new recipes and give each other mani-pedis. The flavors:
1. banana cream
2. peanut butter whose quirky name implied endorsement by a country-western singer
3. sort of key lime
4. apple
5. pumpkin
6. pecan
7. coconut cream
8. apple pear cranberry

Apple and pumpkin were mine. See:

A was once an apple pie before the pie making class.

P was once a pumpkin pie after the class that was made from real pumpkin for a change because I didn't want to sacrifice another of my blue Hubbards, so you can see how much I care about my lady friends.

Nothing fancy, just good traditional pies. I think my favorite was the apple pear cranberry, but I plan to make the coconut and banana cream pies too. Typically when I make pie I go for fruit of some kind, and besides, John the Communist doesn't like coconut (bad childhood). But next week is the pie superbowl, after all, and I've been asked to bring some pies, and I can bust out all over. I guess I've shown enough gumption to work my way up from janitor to salesman--last time they had me bring a green salad, which you know is for screwups that you're trying to help feel important (kidding, Sarah--artistic license).

But I showed them, and I brought perishable ranch dressing. It may have even been from Maddox, such was my thirst for validation. Oh, I've got your green salad. I've got your green salad right here. *makes lewd gesture*

This is the kind of turkeys we have around here, and did you know they were introduced? Like our own version of the cane toad? I feel so dirty. But then I look at how beautiful the turkey is, and I tell it to sing, damn you, sing, and then I forget about it not being indigenous.

I am going to kill some cats pretty soon.

Monday, November 16, 2009

while you're returning it, see if you can get in touch with australopithecus

The word "whence"=proof of time travel

People say, "Return that whence it came." I insist that it is a linguistic vapor trail indicating that its first meaning was FROM WHEN.

In other news, if I were to overhear someone having a conversation like the one I had earlier with the Caputo's cheesemonger, I would be rolling my eyes so hard they'd stick backward.

Friday, November 13, 2009

of numbers one and two

This may surprise you because I'm a grammar stickler and super concerned about people behaving correctly in public, but I think that potty humor is hilarious. Poop and pee jokes--done well--kill me. One of my favorite passages in fiction comes from "Us and Them," a humorous essay in Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris. In it he describes his backward neighbors the Tomkeys coming to trick-or-treat on November 1st, and how he shoved all his candy bars into his mouth rather than risk his mother giving them to the Tomkey children. Come along with me:

I had just started to mutilate a miniature box of Red Hots when my mother pried them from my hands, accidentally finishing the job for me. BB-size pellets clattered onto the floor, and as I followed them with my eyes, she snatched up a roll of Necco wafers.

"Not those," I pleaded, but rather than words, my mouth expelled chocolate, chewed chocolate, which fell onto the sleeve of her sweater. "Not those. Not those."

She shook her arm, and the mound of chocolate dropped like a horrible turd upon my bedspread. "You should look at yourself," she said. "I mean, really look at yourself."

The entire essay may be read here. Just don't blame me if you develop a Sedaris habit and you have to talk to your bishop about the adult subject matter.

When I re-read that passage to John last night--I'm always reading Sedaris to him, and he puts up with it graciously--I was sobbing with laughter. And it's got to be at least my fourth time reading it. But he says turd! Can you stand it?

I also enjoy seeing a chimp in a dress, who is roller skating and smoking a cigar. I hope you don't think less of me.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I hold it very much against her

Let's talk for a minute, shall we, about the movie that made me burn my pie crust. I haven't seen many Jennifer Aniston movies, because why would I? She's probably a nice person, but I don't feel compelled to seek out more venues in which to see Rachel. So, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the premise of the movie Picture Perfect, as was I, let me educate you:

Single girl works for an ad agency. Girl attends a wedding, high jinks ensue, and she has her picture taken with the wedding photographer. Girl badly wants a promotion, but can't get it because she's free and easy and not dependent on the company, so they don't want to waste their time on her (hostile work environment lawsuit). Girl's friend tells everyone that Girl is engaged to Wedding Photographer (would not happen). More ludicrous high jinks ensue, including but not limited to clunky, unconvincing swearing, and the movie climaxes with Girl regretting dumping Wedding Photographer to advance her career, so she goes to a wedding he's filming (would not happen) and interrupts him while he's working to ask him to give her another chance. And when they totally steal focus from the bride and groom to work out their bizarre Rube Goldberg relationship, everyone cheers and applauds them (would not happen)!

My problem with this movie is that they didn't even try to make her character relatable or sympathetic. She's an acquisitive, vapid doormat of dubious moral character. And she's so self-absorbed that she barges into a wedding of complete strangers and jeopardizes the job of someone she blandly professes to care about, even when he asks her to leave. The movie shows her purportedly coming to terms with his unimpressive career of Life Event Capturing, but then she shows such a gross lack of respect for him, as well as the poor couple who hired him--it's not like it's a real job, filming this wedding, so who cares that she refuses to shut up and wait for him to finish? What would it take, a half hour? MY WORD. I cannot support this.

While I'm upset, I want to take this time to tell you that there are people who call me and just launch into a conversation without introducing themselves. People I don't know very well. That bugs me.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

in which I fail at life

This is what I did tonight. I lost track of time while watching a Jennifer Aniston movie. Chew on that for a minute, would you?

before dipping also very delicious

I'm not saying it was the peanut sauce that caused me to have a dream that one of my cousins stole a baby from one of my other cousins, or that I was caring for a newborn baby that belonged to someone in my family who had died, or that I was wearing an ill-considered turquoise and brown polka-dot bikini at the beach, but I'm not saying it wasn't, either.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

in which I am pleasantly surprised by the lack of tantrums

Some conversations that were had concerning the spring rolls we ate for dinner:
Captain America: "I don't like these. I tried them, though!"
The Hulk: "I think I would probably have left out the chicken and the carrots, but they're good. Can I just eat one more velociraptor bite and be done?"
Superman: "Mom, you know those things we ate that had the rice noodles in them? Can I have one of those for lunch tomorrow?"
Pinga: "Uh bite dat!"
John: "I would never order these from a restaurant, but I like them. They are . . . unfamiliar."
Me: "I ate three of them. It was hard for me to stop."

Many thanks to the proprietress of the Asian Market in Ogden who steered me toward the correct rice noodles. I almost chose the angel hair size instead of the spaghetti size! CAN YOU IMAGINE! She was great--"Uh, you can use those noodles, but they're the wrong kind." Noodles are the best. Unless they're from these people. Never again.

I've seen those commercials

Just a heads up: I bought John some of that chocolatey Axe deodorant, and ladies? I don't want any funny business.

Monday, November 9, 2009

future bestseller

I'm writing a book called "The Christmas Turnip." It's about an author who writes a different formulaic holiday-themed emotional blackmail book every year, only he has finally run out of ideas. Then he finds a turnip sitting on the side of the road, and he squeezes and squeezes and squeezes the turnip until blood comes out. Then he writes a story about it and all the Costcos in the country sell it and everybody buys it even though it's a stupid book.

Don't steal my idea.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

thank goodness I got that education so I wouldn't have to do all the work that I do anyway

In the past few days I have swept and mopped the kitchen, cleaned out the garden and laid cardboard over the melon patch, mucked out the chicken coop, and dumped the poop onto the cardboard. I am accomplishing the CRAP out of my jobs.

My new chickens are all hyper dingbats. This is not a value judgment, merely a statement.

It was a lucrative day dumpster diving for cardboard at my dad's work.

I think I managed to offend our City Recorder/Clerk after voting this morning.

Lately I make Dutch Baby (new official name of German pancakes at our house) with half oatmeal and half flour. It makes a thicker and slightly stodgier, but better, product. Says I.

I've volunteered to help with making pie(s) for a church cooking class, and I can't decide which kind to do. Squash, obviously, but what about my mother-in-law's lemon pie? It isn't right to make those fake neon blobs when this is so much better, and everyone must know! But then both of the pies would be single crust, and I must say, I make lovely top crusts. And what is church for, if not upstaging your sisters in the gospel?

This weekend we're going out to dinner and I will be wearing my cheetah leggings. One of my requirements was that we go to a place where cheetah leggings are appropriate, because all too soon it will be too cold to wear them, and that will make me sad. Viva las leggings! Y los platform heels!