Our menu for tonight:
carrot ginger soup
green salad with miso dressing
ice cream sundaes (Costco doesn't sell mochi ice cream balls anymore, a pox upon them)
Games we're playing:
Eat the Lifesaver Out of the Pile of Flour
Good news for the Myrmidons:
we have to replace our furnace
Poll on the sidebar.
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Our menu for tonight:
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
I was sent this amusing link by a friend and former coworker from the good old days of designing educational software complete with reward animations. She knows a runny from a thick.
Ten Words You Need to Stop Misspelling
It's not the most hilarious website ever, but it's worth a look. Much of his stuff is dang funny. There are some swears.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
A girl--college-age--in our ward told me on Sunday that:
1. she loved my coat
2. she wanted to trade me outfits
See how stylish I am? I'm totally a funky mom. I refused to trade because she looked cold. Also because I liked my outfit a lot that day. Russian spy coat, yellowish leather boots, moss green cable knit nylons, navy blue dress with a magenta elbow-sleeve top over it. I looked crazy, but in an awesome sort of way. I try to keep people guessing with a sartorial melange of hippie, sexy secretary, lady who lunches and rodeo queen. That way I can carry off more looks, because no matter what I wear, people say, "It figures." It's a strategy.
Tomorrow my sister Troy and I are going shopping and I intend to find a pea coat.
I saw a guy wearing Birkenstocks yesterday! In the snow! What is wrong with people? He'll catch his death of cold.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Things the stray cats will not eat:
1. buns from stale Subway sandwiches
2. chicken and rice
The gouda is working, I guess.
When I think of eating one of the wheels a year from now it sort of blows my mind. No wonder good cheese is so expensive, y'all. Here are the cheeses I took to Christmas dinner:
Buche--goat cheese, mildish, a good one for people who don't like goat cheese
Delice de Bourgogne--in the Brie family tree, but much better, smooth and buttery with just a hint of pepper
Reypenauer Gouda--so freaking good, aged for a year, sweet and tangy
Roaring Forties--still awesome, but if you like a mild blue you had better eat it with a quickness before it ages too much
Manchego--sheep are good, especially with quince jam
Thursday, December 24, 2009
All of the good gifts given today, ours is the sky and the wide open range.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
The other night we were leaving to go to dinner at Ricardo's, which is a quirky Mexican restaurant that we frequent. Really frequent. Their frijoles enteros are like the crack cocaine, if crack were perfectly firm on the outside with a smooth, creamy center. I can't speak to that. And their chili verde! Glagulagalaaaa (sound of drooling with tongue hanging out).
Anyway, we walked outside and Edna started just shouting at us. BAAAAA! BAAAAA! BAAAAA! She's always been more loquacious than Traci, but darnit, it's so nice to have both of them back there, even if Edna is a bossypants. I went out to help Captain America re-up their hay, and hugged and scratched them like crazy. I missed them so much. They are all fat and bushy in their winter coats and seem to be putting on weight like good little mamas. Captain America has been much better about not stiffing them in the food department--I think he does feel responsible for their well-being to a large degree. And all we had to do was bloat Finola to get here!
Have you read that story by Pearl S. Buck about the boy who gets up early on Christmas and does all the chores for his father? Every time it makes me cry. Probably because animals are involved. I was way more worked up about the leopard eating the baby gorilla than about Tarzan's parents. I know that we always have a good time getting up on Christmas morning and doing the chores together, so if you want your family to be close and loving you should probably get some goats and chickens. I think the goats are the most important part. A cow wouldn't hurt, either.
Some of the things I did not like about our activity last night:
1. Plowing through herds of people on Temple Square.
2. Waiting forever for the train and finding out that it was already full to capacity.
3. Waiting in a line to get into the stadium.
4. Waiting for the free Jazz and Buzz tickets until they ran out and we didn't even get any.
5. Having The Hulk get yelled at by the lady in front of us because he kept kicking her friend's seat after she had twice asked him nicely to stop, but the seats are crammed together so tight and he has such long legs he couldn't help it.
6. The red pepper on my salad that tasted like lion poop.
7. Having my children run away repeatedly the entire evening.
8. Doing something I had no interest in.
Some of the things I did like about our activity last night:
1. Walking around Salt Lake.
2. The orange lighted trees next to the Assembly Hall.
3. Not having to eat free hot dogs and sodas and getting a sort of real meal instead.
4. Singing with my kids.
5. Wearing my spy coat.
6. Going to Gourmandise and buying a Peach and a Sable Citron.
7. Telling Captain America that the reason it's called Energy Solutions Arena instead of the Delta Center is because Energy Solutions wanted some good PR and bought the arena so they could try to put in people's minds another association with their company name besides the fact that they truck nuclear waste into Utah against our wishes.
8. Having fun even if I did think it was kind of a stupid idea.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Oh, I forgot to say--I always switch the station when that LAME "Fireflies" song comes on, so I don't know the lyrics, but the other day I was going through the rotation and heard some of the song, and did you know there's a part where he says he'll get a thousand hugs from ten thousand lightning bugs? DID YOU? Did you know that the lyrics to that song have the power to make your TESTICLES RETRACT?
I HATE THAT SONG. So much more than I thought possible. I knew it was sucky, but then? BAM, second encore! WHAT A TERRIBLE SONG THIS IS WHAT IS WRONG WITH AMERICA.
Listen to this: I have an idea for an ice cream flavor, and you can go ahead and steal it if you want, but just pay me royalties every time you make it. It's called Chocolate Chimp. Hear me out--there are no monkeys. There are little bits of cookie, with possibly a fudgey swirl or something, and either a light banana flavor to the ice cream, or maybe a banana custard swirl . . . I'm not sure yet what the final product will look like exactly, but the flavors present are chocolate, vanilla, banana, and cookie (which I realize is not a flavor shut up).
There may also be a variation called Oatmeal Chocolate Chimp, but I'll work on that later. Am I a genius or crazy? Or a CRAZY GENIUS?
Thursday, December 17, 2009
I've already made it into something that's not Gouda, I fear, because the milk was getting too cold while it was ripening, so I turned up the heat on the roaster oven, but then my piano student got here and I forgot about it until the milk was at 108* instead of 90*, whoops. But it will be an interesting experiment all the same.
I'm nervous. It's so long to wait before you know if you're an idiot or not. I'll brine them when I get home tonight. It will be cheese of some kind, I am sure, but I don't know that it will be especially tasty.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I am attempting Gouda for the first time. I am telling myself that it's going to bomb horribly, so that if it's edible I will feel like a queen of cheese.
I had two gallons of milk that had to be used, because four more gallons came today. I am rigging up my roaster oven to be a water bath for the pan of milk. This can't possibly work.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
In The Devil's Storybook by Natalie Babbitt there is a story about a man whose cremated ashes get mixed up with the ashes of a pork bone, and he has to spend years in Hell separating his ashes from those of the pig, because the pig is down in Hell with him and won't leave him alone. When the maid who accidentally mixed the ashes by knocking over the urn dies and is herself sent to Hell, she sees the piles of ash and--being a cleaner--of course sweeps them together and disposes of them in an out-of-the-way corner somewhere, unwittingly undoing all of the man's hard work. He eventually learns to get along with the pig, but that's neither here nor there.
I imagine that Hell is composed mainly of hard surfaces, because you don't want people to loll around on the carpet in front of the hellfire and brimstone--next you know, they'll be roasting marshmallows! As hellish as a loud Victorian floral carpet might be, I think that Hell's denizens would still be grateful for the comfort, and then it would cease to be Hell, and then the universe would tear, and what a mess that would be.
I'm coming to my point, I promise. I too have a lot of hard surfaces--wood from stem to stern upstairs, except for the bathroom and my bedroom (until January, mwah ha ha hah). And I have had the devil's own time keeping it clean. Our vacuums, even though they have a "hard floor" setting, have always done a pitty job of sucking up the filth, and sweeping takes forever, especially when the cat keeps pouncing on the broom, which for some reason he does. But then recently we got the "Hoover Flair Bagless with Power Nozzle," and this, THIS is the one. I've been waiting . . . for a vacuum like this . . . to come into my life . . .
It is light, extremely maneuverable, and gets everything off the floor. I love this vacuum. I love it forever. I want it buried along with me in my pine box (you know the one the leg lamp comes in? like that) so I can vacuum with it in the afterlife. I would have those human and pig ashes mixed together so fast, along with any other ashes that were lying around. Except I bet if I were to be so unlucky as to end up in Hell, I wouldn't get to bring the vacuum! And I bet Heaven is way clean, so I wouldn't need the vacuum! Oh, snap! The universe is tearing again!
To sum up: if you have wood floors you need this vacuum. Buy it. Product may stay.
Friday, December 11, 2009
My sister sent me this link and said I would laugh, and darn if she wasn't right. I bet you'll laugh, too.
I did an experiment with the mushrooms the other day. I love when experiments aren't shameful failures that you either can't even serve or that get left in the fridge for a few days until they look gross enough to feed to the chickens (strawberry cream pie). I took my cremini mushrooms and tossed them with some olive oil and salt and pepper. Then I thought how boring that was going to be. Then I put in some thyme and oregano. Still boring. So I added some minced garlic and turmeric and curry powder and paprika and a little cayenne pepper. Then I thought, why not? So I splooshed some cream in there as well.
Here's what they look like before they're cooked:
Here's what they look like on top of spinach with a poached egg that turned out SO RAD:
Way good. I had to put them in a container and stick them in the fridge because they breached my portion control defenses. Superman and Pinga picked out the mushrooms and left the rest. Looking at that last picture, I don't deserve my children's trust, do I?
The radicchio that I was so looking forward to, however, was a crashing, fiery ball of yuck. I oversalted it to a degree heretofore unseen by humankind. I could taste the good intent far, far beneath the briny crust, but I think I would have needed hypertension medication if I had consumed it.
So I'll just give you my best stabbing guess at the mushroom recipe. Amounts are very approximate. I don't measure! Just put in what you think is fair.
Serves 4 stingily
1 large package of fresh mushrooms of your choice (about a pound? two pounds? I don't know--it's the big package of mushrooms in the produce section at Costco)
2 T olive oil
coarse salt and pepper to taste
1/2 t oregano
1/2 t thyme
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 t turmeric
1/4 t curry powder
1/4 t paprika
small pinch cayenne pepper
splash of cream--somewhere between 2 T and 1/4 C
Drizzle the olive oil over the mushrooms, toss with the rest of the ingredients, roast at 425* for fifteen minutes, stir, then roast for another ten minutes. Or so. Serve alone or with a spinach salad topped with a poached egg.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
The salad with a warm bacon dressing and the second batch of poached eggs because of clumsy me. I love eggs with greens.
These were our amuse-bouche. He even called them that, irony-free. It was thin slices of baguette spread with tapenade. Fine.
Potato caterpillars, or Truffle Pommes Dauphine if you don't like that imagery. You take pate a choux (cream puff dough) and mix it with some mashed potatoes, put it in a piping bag and pipe it in pieces into hot oil, where the pieces bobble around until they are golden brown. Texturally they're sort of like a cheetoh ate mashed potatoes, which doesn't sound good, but is.
Potato and leek gratin. Very good, unsurprising. Our teacher mentioned doing a gratin with apples and sweet potatoes, which I'm finally crazy enough to be interested in.
And this . . . this was the Steve Perry in our Journey meal. A superb medium-rare flat iron steak sliced thinly crosswise and perfectly sauced.
The apple and walnut upside down cake which for some unknown reason he served right side up. Not beautiful, but I swear to you that the fresh ginger in the cake is enough to give you religion.
Someone come eat at my house so I can make this meal again!
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
You know, far be it from me to second-guess the great Barbra Streisand, but what is her deal? Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes and snowflakes that stay on her nose and eyelashes really, really do not require the emotion volcano she's throwing out there. Get a grip, Barbra. Or at least save the anguish for the bee stings.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Here's the thing. I can't so much interview my dad. I had a great conversation with him over our plates of Thanksgiving dinner, but because of my admiration for him I lack the emotional distance required to ask him probing questions, because I'm afraid of coming across like a clueless townie with no respect for farmers.
I did ask him why tractors are so much more expensive now, and he does think it's at least partially because tractors are capable of so much more. A tractor can now use GPS to drive, plow, and cut a field almost by itself. John the computer talker says "It's like a Word macro for tractors. You say, 'Record what I do,' and it does it." It's this sort of thing that makes it possible to farm 800 acres and still see your family every once in a great while.
" . . . as a vegetarian, I would end up defending myself against vegans and meat eaters at the same time. And the cause gets forgotten. Most people are concerned about the environment, but say they don't relate to environmentalists. Yet we're all breathing the same air."
" . . . I think you make a good point--environmentalism, or social consciousness, or whatever one calls it, is so full of striations that people who should be sympathizing and banding together end up bickering about the shades of grey within their cause, and therefore don't have a unified voice with which to accomplish their common goals. And they end up being the Captain Bringdown whom everyone ignores because it's just too depressing, man!"
In reviewing this email I'm painfully aware of how much of a Captain Bringdown I am at times. But I'm straying from my purpose here. And my dad made another good point. Barbara Kingsolver, my platonic celebrity girlfriend (buy her new book, The Lacuna, available in stores now!) who is unaware of my existence, said in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle something about the most productive farm, labor-to-return-wise, is one that is four acres in size (or thereabouts). I'm paraphrasing from memory, but her point, unless I misunderstood, was that a farm of four acres has enough land to grow everything you need to feed a family, but not so much land that you can't farm it without tractors, which require ownership of more land, which requires more tractors to farm it, and here we go 'round the mulberry bush. My dad disagrees, and when he put it to me that our own "farm," let's call it, produces enough hay to feed our few goats--and nothing else--I saw that there might be a sticky wicket there. I imagine that I'd have to have our entire yard planted in food-producing plants, and that's probably what Barbara Kingsolver meant. That you can do it, but you don't have room for luxuries, and you certainly aren't going to get fat on it. I need to go back and read that part again, because I want to believe her. I want to believe that we can be content with enough, not too much. But now we're veering away from my What's Killing Farmers speech and into my What's Wrong with America speech.
Anyway, I can't have this conversation with my dad, because he likes working more than talking about working. Plus he's busy trying to sell farmers the tractors that will make the difference between them eking out an existence and collapsing.
Conclusion: I'm going to talk to some other peoples who don't know me as well and will not mind me being nosy.
I've tested this recipe for you, and it is good. A simple preparation for vegetables, and a nice change from buttersaltpepper.
Broccoli Salad Recipe
John, Superman, Pinga and I all liked it very much.
Monday, December 7, 2009
I forgot to mention that I think my hotel pillow gave me torticollis or possibly necrotizing fasciitis, because I have such a headache! Also John (who couldn't sleep) reports that the person in the next room over spent the entire night coughing and/or vomiting, and in the laundry room on the other side someone was loudly doing their wash at three in the morning.
We did drive past some of the apartments we lived in while we were first married, including the divey fourplex, the dumpster of which was often filled with things like couches and baby walkers. It is this sort of apartment I picture when I read David Sedaris's story about his younger brother standing out on the balcony of his apartment in his underwear, stomping his frozen brick of chicken parts into smaller, more manageable pieces.
I had such a terrific time at my cooking class! The food was incredible, and I got to use the sharpest knife--it's one of the the new Henckels Miyabis, and I diced the garlic and shallots soooo tiny! The cutting boards were that dark gray composite stuff that seems too hard for knives you care about--like those horrid glass cutting boards which you should NEVER EVER USE--but I guess they know what they're talking about. I also poached the eggs for the salad (two batches--I didn't get the first batch out in time FAIL EMBARRASSING) which was very helpful--all this time I thought I'd been poaching eggs incorrectly, but it turns out that they're just messy like that. We put a bunch of fresh ginger in the batter for the upside down cake, and it was a revelation. I'd never considered fresh ginger for that application, and I'll never go back. I've got the knobby little bugger on hand anyway, so it may as well diversify its portfolio.
As soon as I figure out how to get pictures off my phone I can show you each of the dishes we made, but I can tell you that all the browsing holiday shoppers and the clerks' weird friends who were hassling them and making them appear spacey and unprofessional were very jealous of what we were eating. Little potato thingies that looked just like blond woolly bear caterpillars, for instance. Those were the Truffle Pommes Dauphine, which sounds slightly more delicious than potato caterpillars. I need more people in my family, but not kids. Except adventurous ones that will eat whatever I tell them to.
My sister's lovely and well-behaved baby was blessed yesterday, and I brought a strawberry cream pie that nobody ate. John thinks I overestimate people's love for pie. Is this so? I prefer a fruit pie to a cream pie, but still. Pie is good, isn't it? Isn't it often better than cake?
Friday, December 4, 2009
So, it's citrus season, right? Yesterday I drove to Logan to buy some radicchio from Lee's because their produce section is phenomenal. Okay, that may be a little strong. But it's varied like few others unless you're talking about the snobby ones. Their radicchio was not the best, but at least they had some. I'ma roast it like Tipsy said.
Anyway, citrus. One of the other things they had at Lee's yesterday was a display of navel oranges, half boxes of them for $6.99. We ate them for dessert last night, and while I was busy showing off my knowledge of horticulture to the children (which is sort of prodigious, in an ignoramus sort of way), explaining how all navel orange trees everywhere are grafts (or grand-grafts, or great-grand-grafts; I'm not a scientist, I just work here) of the one sport tree that first grew seedless oranges, I learned something TOTALLY FASCINATING. Did you know that the little mini slices in a navel orange are a conjoined twin orange? It's actually a smaller orange formed inside another orange! Biology is the coolest.
Thus, since selective breeding is impossible with the navel orange, every orange you taste is genetically identical to those oranges that grew on the mutant tree in the Brazilian monastery. It's impressive that it's kept up with our growing appetite for sweets, and worrisome, disease-wise. It makes me start fretting about biodiversity and cloned beef ranches--total downer.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Me while hugging John: Mmm. I really like the smell of your new deodorant. Like, really like it . . . (moments pass) . . . is this weird for you, with my nose buried in your pit?
Remember the cartoon swan I told you about? This is what it looks like:
But that's not why we're here, is it? Instead, let's talk about the latest issue of United Caprine News, which I'll give you a minute to go get off your coffee table. Everybody got their copy? All right. On the third page there is a recipe for Rigatoni with Roasted Pumpkin and Goat Cheese. Here's what I like about it: it has all the flavors of that quintessential winter ravioli dish, but not so dang much work. Who needs work? Not me. The time I spend on cooking is time not spent blissfully cleaning my house, and that's the real tragedy.
We haven't eaten this yet (the pumpkin is cooking right now so I won't have to worry about it later), but here's my prediction:
Me: Slam dunk.
John: This is nice. Maybe too much sage?
Captain America: It's okay. Can I have dessert?
The Hulk: I'm not eating that. Goodnight.
Superman: How many more bites before I can have dessert?
Pinga: (thought, not spoken) It's good, but not as good as scratching the living crap out of my face.
Rigatoni with Roasted Pumpkin and Goat Cheese (adapted from United Caprine News)
Serves: your family, I imagine
Hippie Control Freak Trying to Get Rid of a Pumpkin Roasted Pumpkin:
medium-sized cooking pumpkin, halved and seeded
4 shallots, peeled and quartered lengthwise OR 1 onion, diced
1/4 C fresh sage
3 T (give or take) extra-virgin olive oil
Put the pumpkin in a large roasting pan in halves, or peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks. Toss with shallots and sage. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 450* until soft. (This will take a long time--at least 30 minutes for pumpkin chunks, an hour or more for pumpkin halves.) When the pumpkin flesh is soft, scrape it out of the rind along with the shallots and sage and mix together in a large bowl.
Spare Me the Sanctimony, I Just Want Something Good to Eat Roasted Pumpkin:
1 large can of pumpkin
4 shallots, peeled and quartered lengthwise OR 1 onion, diced
1 T rubbed sage
3 T (give or take) olive oil
Heat olive oil in a pan and add shallots/onion. Saute until they are softened. Then mix with other ingredients and bake in a lidded pan at 350* for 30 minutes or so.
12 ounces rigatoni or large tubey (no, not Tubey) noodle of your choice
2 T butter
5 ounces fresh goat cheese
About twenty minutes before the pumpkin is done bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and add the pasta. Drain the pasta when it is al dente, reserving 1/2 C of cooking water. Return pasta to pot and add butter, cheese and pasta water. Toss until butter is melted.
Gently fold in roasted pumpkin with shallots and sage and season with salt and pepper. Divide among bowls and serve immediately.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
I was in Smith and Edward's today wasting time while I waited to go pick up Superman from preschool. I keep waiting for those buckaroo boots I want so much to go on sale, but so far no luck. They would look so freaking awesome with my skinny jeans, and if I could just find a pair of spurs and a feather hair clip--you know, the kind that people wear in their braids when they're trying to pretend they're Native Americans--and then a shirt with pearl buttons, I will have recreated the outfit I wore once a week in fifth grade, until the mocking shouts of the chorus of "Rhinestone Cowboy" got too painful. Aside: my fifth grade teacher used the Vulcan death grip on unruly boys and sometimes threw desks.
The Hulk just came into my room and started into this:
Hulk: Mom, it's too bad that I can't have what I want most for Christmas. Isn't it too bad?
Me: Yep. Goodbye.
Hulk: No! Mom! I just want to tell you what I want most for Christmas! Can I tell you?
Me: (sigh) Yeah, go ahead.
Hulk: The thing I want most for Christmas is peace on the whole earth. Wouldn't that be nice to have peace on the whole earth? The second thing I want most is quietness on the playground and on the bus. Because everyone is so noisy on the bus all the time and there's so much yelling on the playground and everyone is talking and . . . (he continued like this for about three minutes until I forced him out).
First of all: BULL. Kacy over at Every Day I Write the Book (read her, she's way funny) was telling about a similar experience she had lately in which her son said that what he wanted for Christmas was for people to remember Thanksgiving. Now, it is very possible that her son was sincere. But I have my doubts that The Hulk was, other than peripherally. Sure, peace would be nice, but he's a pragmatist. He knows that people like fighting too much to be peaceful--heck, I sure do--but if he says kumbaya stuff like that it might get him brownie points with the Buyers. I call shenanigans.
None of my kids believe in Santa anymore, and of course they're the killjoys that tell all the other kids Santa is a sham. I haven't tried very hard to cultivate the belief, since John is also a killjoy, and it always struck me as weak and desperate when parents would threaten their kids with the Santa stick. Who wants a child who only behaves because he thinks it'll get him better presents? I'd far rather have a child who only behaves because he thinks he'll get to watch TV.