Thursday, December 30, 2010

both hands on the wheel and your shoulders rared back

Let me just say really quickly that we went on a mini vacation this year instead of giving our kids a bunch of stupid presents that they would immediately ruin, and it was rad and I think we're going to always do this from now on. I asked the kids about it this morning, if it was a good trade for presents and if they wanted to do it again next year, and they said, "Yeah, because we got presents anyway!" Which is true, which I knew, and that's how I was able to get away with it in the first place. Also John and I have always been kind of stingy about Christmas, because we don't want our kids to be greedos. So the older ones knew they weren't really giving up anything great, and that they'd get presents from their very generous and groovy grandparents.

I highly recommend.

Unfortunately, John watched Raising Hope the other day and said it's not even funny anymore. This makes me sad. If they could go back to the glory days of the third episode where they take a family picture and the boy eats his own eyebrow, then that would be really great.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

my favorite part is the whistling

Good morning, everyone. Topics for today's discussion include:
1. grave robbery/foraging
2. our irreparably broken school meal program and its implications for America's future
3. seafood pho

1. Some animal has been digging at Skiver's grave, which I think is gross. Whatever it is hasn't hit pay dirt yet, thankfully.

Question: Do you think it might be Faux Rex and Faux Groceries, the small, ugly copies of our cats who have recently adopted our grounds? We don't feed them, and perhaps they are taking matters into their own paws?

2. Yesterday The Hulk (8) was talking to me while he was getting ready for school. Our kids don't eat school lunch, but I do let them eat the Thanksgiving and Christmas school lunches as a treat. The school provides a free breakfast for low-income students.

The Hulk: "We missed Christmas dinner at school lunch. It was on Friday. But it's okay, because it was just like lunch and breakfast combined, and if lunch is mostly garbage, breakfast is ALL garbage!"
Me: "Yeah, well, that's why we don't eat it."
The Hulk: "At breakfast they have 10% apple juice, deep-fried French toast covered in sugar, syrup which is probably just high-fructose corn syrup, and you can get cereal, and on one side it's Trix and on the other side it's . . . " (At this point I had begun interrupting him for the purpose of lecturing and further indoctrination and didn't hear the second cereal choice.)

Question 1: How do my fellow parents out there feel about this? Is it elitist of me to assume that the kids eating the free junk breakfast are also less likely to have parents who are engaged in their education, and are therefore being handed a cocktail of ignorance, poverty and obesity? What chance do they, and by extension, the rest of us, have?
Question 2: How off-putting is The Hulk going to be when his Puritanical zeal for enforcing a strict dietary code reaches maturity? Formula: (current level of off-putting x projected age at maximum scoldhood) + (amount of piety in topical remonstration - own adherence to said code)

3. We were in Salt Lake last night and I had told the kids we could eat out. I wanted pho, but the place we usually go was closed, and they pitched a giant hissy fit when we started to go to a different place. We almost went to Golden Corral, despite my pouting, but it was closed too, so we got to eat pho after all, which tasted great, except for the one fish in the seafood pho (cuttlefish, perhaps?) that tasted like the turlet, and everyone loved it except Superman, who is coming down with a case of the s'poseduhs.

Question: Do you think that pho is more likely to be real food than what can be found at Golden Corral?

In conclusion, watch this video:

An oldie but a goodie. How can I help but love him? Also: that house is rad.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

why does baba yaga need both a flying mortar and a walking house? why is she so greedy?

The reason I ask about hummus is that I love it, as I love all porridgey things. I used to make Joy of Cooking's recipe, but switched to Bittman's with roasted garlic added, and liked it a lot more. But my hummus was always really thick, like Adams peanut butter. I didn't mind it, but nobody else was really a fan. Then I went to Hummus Place with Claire while I was staying with her this summer, and their hummus was so much softer and thinner--and it was way, way better. So I made the brilliant deduction that I hadn't been using enough liquid--I know, I'm a one-woman brain trust. I need a federal grant!

So here's a recipe for the cheater's hummus I made last week (cheater's because I used canned chickpeas instead of soaking my own--lazy):

1 can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1 T tahini
7 sun-dried tomato slices
1 clove of garlic, minced and sauteed

Drain the chickpeas, but reserve the liquid; you'll probably end up using all of it anyway. Dump everything into a blender. Normally I use a food processor, but the tomatoes require blender technology. Whip it up until it's a smooth, silky paste, adding liquid as necessary. Eat with pita chips. I used to make my own pita chips, but that was a mare's nest, by which I mean a drag. Until I start mass-producing my own pita bread with which to make chips I have already lost control of the ingredient list, and therefore feel no (additional) guilt about subcontracting my pita chip production to Stacy.

In other news, the children and I have spent the last day watching Youtube videos of somebody playing their way through Banjo-Kazooie. Question: how pathetic is this, on a scale of 1 to 10? Answer: NOT! It was a trick question, for you see, Banjo-Kazooie is one of the greatest video games of all TIYEEEEM.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

decaying organic matter

Well, I flew too close to the sun again. I was feeling all creative this morning when I was making my steel-cut oats. Maybe you think it's snobby that I call them steel-cut oats, but they really are different, and if I call them oatmeal you'll think I'm eating oatmeal, and I'm not. If you're the sort of person who likes the creamy, chewy texture with occasional textural pops of steel-cut oats, then nothing else will do. I'm sorry, but it's true.

Anyway, I was feeling creative, and I thought, why not add some germade to the oats? Then I could get all my textural needs satisfied. Chewy, creamy, silky, flavor crystaley . . . all my friends are here! But it was not a success. The germade just made it seem like the oats had started to dissolve and get all gritty. Pass.

Have you ever chewed a piece of gum so long that it dissolved? I have. It was gross.

We watched the Christmas Charlie Brown last night, and I was almost as disappointed as I was by the Thanksgiving special. He is such a whiner. I have to agree with Lucy and Linus that of all the Charlie Browns in the world, he's the Charlie Browniest. I kind of hate his guts now.

How do you feel about hummus?

Friday, December 10, 2010

aebleskiver two plunderschnecht, a good cat

We'll wait for the headstone until the . . . settling . . . takes place.

Superman's says, "I love cats because they're nature." Pinga's says, "I like Skiver in the box."

I try not to anthropomorphize animals. I think it is silly and degrading to both the animal and the human. But I feel a very keen sense of loss about Skiver. He was a grand cat, and a wonderful companion. And if you're the sort of person who believes in heaven (which I am), I'm sure you'll agree with me that heaven would not be heaven without animals. I hope he scopes out a good place for our mansion!

We got him the day after we blessed Superman, because a big fat mouse had brazenly run across the family room right in front of us while we were watching a movie with my sister Aleece and her husband Dave. I am not afraid of mice, but I'll be darned if they're going to be running around in my house, pooping in my Zoom cereal (kidding, I don't even eat Zoom--but I'd like to!) and eating my face at night.

We got him from South Salt Lake Animal Services. He only cost eight dollars because he had been returned by the last family who adopted him because "he wasn't friendly enough." They were obviously idiots.

He looked like a cat I had when I was a little girl who used to bat aebleskivers around on the kitchen floor, so we named him Aebleskiver Two Plunderschnecht.

As soon as we brought him in the house he walked downstairs, found the mouse hiding under the couch, and killed it immediately. To my knowledge, this is one of only two mice he killed. He was more of a bird guy.

My parents never allowed animals in the house, and I thought that's how I would be. But I felt so guilty about keeping him in the cold garage that I caved, and said he could sleep in the house, as long as the food and litter box stayed outside.

We had to give him medicine for his kennel cough, and he scratched the daylights out of my hand. I think most of the medicine went on the floor.

I held him like a huge, hairy baby for at least an hour the first night we had him, and he laid his head on my shoulder, purring happily.

He hated riding in the car, and when we moved here he moaned and growled the entire drive up. We had to shut him in the garage for the first week to teach him that we lived here while we were waiting to get the keys to the house.

There were mice in the house when we moved here because it had been empty, but they disappeared within a month or two. We never saw Skiver catch any of them, but we think just his presence told the mice they'd better clear off.

He loved killing birds. We found feathers on the back porch all the time. Usually starlings.

Superman does not know a life without Skiver in it. They were best friends. Superman used to pack him around like a sack of corn and dogpile on him, and Skiver suffered it uncomplainingly. He put up with untold amounts of abuse from countless babies and toddlers, and he never scratched or bit any of them.

He was huge and glossy and we joked that he was more like a dog than a cat.

Often when I was going to the bathroom he would push on the door with his head until it opened, then he'd come stand next to me and put his paw on my leg, trying to get me to pet him. He didn't understand private personal time.

He started getting sick a little over a year ago. He stopped cleaning himself and his hair turned dull and started falling out. Recently he started having regular accidents in the house and he walked with his back all hunched like his guts hurt him all the time. I picked him up the other day and he started peeing all over the floor. He smelled like there was something wrong with him. The bath I gave him on Tuesday morning didn't help at all.

When we took him to the vet they gave him an injection in a vein in his neck, and he died instantly. I cried, and we curled him in the box that we brought for him. It's the box my red ankle boots came in, just the perfect size for him to be curled up the way he liked to be. We used to say he looked like a hairy croissant.

He was our friend.

Thank you for permitting me to be a little bit maudlin and syrupy.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

like a dog . . . hangin' on your lead

If this song ever comes on the radio I can't not listen to it. I love it like one of my children.

I think it was a goodly part of Jimmy Fallon's inspiration for "Idiot Boyfriend." And now you'll be singing it the rest of the day. You're welcome!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold

Aebleskiver post-bath. This will probably be his obituary photo.

Have you ever bathed a cat? If you try it, I recommend that you start on a cat who's so sick and old he hasn't got any fight left, and then work your way up to young, healthy cats.

Skiver is just a disgusting vector right now, and I feel sad that nobody will pet him because he's so gross. He stopped cleaning himself a year or so ago, and this morning he hobbled into our room with his bones creaking and popping and so much goop on his eyes it looked like they had dissolved and run all over his face, and I decided it had gone far enough. So I put him in the tub next to a basin of warm water and started sponging him off. The tragic thing is that he was purring the whole time, probably because it was so nice to finally be touched.When I pet him I just sort of scratch the top of his head and run my hand down his spine a couple of times, and then go wash my hands, and I don't think anyone else even touches him except Pinga when she's trying to steal the heater vent from him. During the bath Pinga kept asking, "What is that smell?" I told her it's the smell of a wet, dirty cat, because it's true. I don't think the bath helped that much, except for the de-sliming of his eyes. He's still pretty rank.

Do you remember what he used to look like? He was like a lush, shiny ottoman! He was a ponderous cat!It breaks my heart. And this is probably cruelly pragmatic of me, but it would be really nice if he would die on his own in the next week while the ground is thawed. I'm having a very hard time deciding whether or not to put him to sleep. I think he'd still rather be alive than dead, but what do I know? I'm not a cat. Yet.

Monday, December 6, 2010

he was dirty from head to toe

What really bothers me is that there's no way the mother bear's porridge was colder than the baby bear's porridge. It's a simple matter of thermodynamics!

Friday, December 3, 2010

I'm movin' out to cherokee

I just heard Kenny G on the radio and it reminded me of this funny story John told me that someone posted on Facebook.

A while ago a guy goes to a jazz concert and afterward he went up to talk to the band. He said, "Hey, do you guys play any modern jazz? Can you play some Kenny G?" And one of the guys in the band said, "Which will it be, buddy, 'cause it can't be both."


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I don't think mushrooms even have eyes

I know I should share more vegetable recipes with you, because I'm just contributing to The Fattening of America right now, but I owe it to you to share this recipe for Salt Lick Bars. I always feel weird capitalizing recipe names.

A week or so ago my friend and yours All8 mentioned that she was making these as a treat for her family, and they sounded so intriguing I googled them and came up with this recipe--the same one that All8 emailed me later that day, because she's awesome like that.

And behold, they are good. I had a little scare with the caramel layer (I blame sucanat), but it worked out and now they are coyly eyeing me from the counter, telling me that it's okay that I keep getting fatter, despite exercising and controlling my food intake.

Monday, November 29, 2010

product may stay: misto oil sprayer

I'm getting pretty tired of cat poop. I'm also getting pretty tired of throwing away rugs. Also I guess I have to chop off my foot now.

But on to our topic for today. Do you sometimes feel guilty about all the cans of Pam you throw away? You do use Pam, right? Because the store brand is janky, and it's not even that much cheaper (this is why I am poor). I felt guilty. I tried to go without oil spray for a while, but you may have noticed that I am a lazy activist, and oil spray is really convenient. What to do? Luckily the internets are a boundless source of things to buy, and because every website has Terminator code written in, there are helpful suggestions geared to your interests. So Amazon recommended this to me, and darn if it isn't a totally awesome invention.

You fill the canister halfway with the oil of your choice (I'm using grapeseed right now), pressurize it by pumping the lid, and spray away. Every time I empty it I run warm water through it to keep it clog-free, and it's like new again. I've filled it three? four? times now, and it has already paid for itself. I will be completely honest with you and say that the spray that comes out is not as fine as from a Pam can, but it works all the same, and really, are we going to bellyache about slightly larger oil dots on the bottom of our cake pans? Why don't you just stab Mother Earth in the kidneys?

Buy it. It's useful, and for less than ten dollars (not including shipping) you can be kind to trees.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

get bent, ma'am

This. This was a terrific article. I was thinking "Testify!" and feeling a little bit indicted at the same time (visions of Smith's running through my head). I sometimes forget what a drag know-it-all missionaries are, so next time I'm up on the Rameumptom*, kindly tell me to cram it with walnuts. After all, the whole movement to eat normal food is mostly about it being better for everyone in every way, and only partly about making people feel stupid for not agreeing with you.

Also extremism is gross.

*A Rameumptom is a pulpity sort of thing in a church building where one person at a time stands to vocally thank God for making them so much better than everyone else. It's from a story in the Book of Mormon. Some other time we can discuss the irony.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

yeah, birds are happy--that's why they can fly

I know this lady who refuses to touch raw meat. She gets all fainting-couch about it, like she's going to vomit if she even talks about raw chicken. That seems pretty childish to me. I think a lot of phobias are that way. I have some of my own--e.g., sharks in pools--and I wonder if they only develop in privileged areas. I can't imagine there are a lot of people working 18-hour days who need smelling salts if they have to break down a chicken for dinner. Because who has time for that whiny baby nonsense? Grow a pair already!

This morning our magic neighbors came over to pick up their wether. He was a total freak and led us on a merry chase around the goat pen. But eyes in front will always outwit eyes on the side, and we eventually caught him.

The chickens have finally grown their feathers back, now that the rooster's reign of terror is over. He must have been a very vigorous lover, because they were still barebacked for months after John dispatched him.

A few minutes ago I set my oven mitt on fire. It was exciting. Just the end of it burned, though.

Do you want to see the lump of cat poop that one of our cats (not Skiver--he had already been banished for pooping in the dining room) left in the bathroom the day that we fed them canned salmon? Thought I'd never ask, didn't you? I made sure to have my feet in the picture so you could have a size comparison. John had just finished taking his shower, and he hunched right down, rubber glove on, all-purpose cleaning wipes in hand, nude save for the towel around his waist, and cleaned it up lickety-split. I laughed and laughed between cursing whichever cat it was (probably Rex, the attention whore). If it weren't indecent I would have taken a picture for you.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I met someone who's never heard of pandora's box

I rendered some lard the other day, because I realized that the lard at the store is hydrogenated (hence its shelf-stability, duh), which is kind of a major part of the reason I buy lard instead of shortening. So, since Tipsy says it's doable, and I've been looking for more ridiculous cooking jobs to do, I got some leaf lard from my butcher of choice (Premium Meat--try their amazing bacon) and rendered it up in a pan. It was a . . . disquieting smell.
I'm not going to describe the whole process for you; Tipsy has already done an admirable job of it for us here, as well as in her new cookbook due in . . . 2011, I believe? I will be buying it, and so should you.

I'll still use store lard for making soap, but for pies and biscuits it's home-rendered all the way.

In other news, I finally finished Pinga's Christmas sock, just in time for her fourth Christmas. I'm super prompt that way. I started these long ago when we only had two children. Now they're all done, and I told John we're not having any more kids, because I'll be darned if I'm going to make another sock (ha! unintentional pun). Patchwork, boo! The effort, she is too much.
In agricultural news, it's WINTER CHORE SEASON. The lesson in Young Women yesterday was about being optimistic and having a positive attitude, so I will not complain about winter chore season. Instead I will say that I enjoyed spending time outside with John, stringing extension cords and wrapping the connections with plastic and tape so they don't short out, and scrubbing dust and poop and black mold out of the chicken and goat water buckets with baking soda.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

there are some things beyond the ken of mortal man that shouldn't be tampered with

For crying out loud, all I want is a cowboy boot with a dark grass green 14-inch shaft, a chocolate brown oiled vamp, a block heel, and a narrow square or U-shaped toe! Why is this so hard?

I'm going to tell you an ugly story about myself.

Last week I was in Smith's and I thought really judgmental thoughts about this dumpy, haggard-looking mom who was obviously way overextended with the three children under four running around pell-mell, pulling things off the shelves. She didn't seem too bothered by what was going on, but was half-heartedly threatening to take away their doughnuts if they didn't settle down, and they were yelling that they didn't want doughnuts anyway. She had a cart full of things that I would not call food, and I just looked at her and thought, "Well, duh." No wonder she looks and feels terrible. No wonder her kids are monsters. Garbage in, garbage out.

Maybe I think that buying better food than her makes me a better person. Maybe I take heart in knowing that there's at least one thing I'm not doing wrong. Maybe she was just having an off day. Maybe instead of looking down my nose at her I should have smiled reassuringly at her and said, "Kids! They're a handful!" But I didn't. Her kids were really bratty!

Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn't tell these kinds of warts-and-all stories.

In other news, after many, many treatments of lemon juice, baking soda, and Nature's Miracle, the smell has finally dissipated from the unvarnished section of the dining room floor where Skiver chose to experience diarrhea after I fed him canned salmon last week.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

jazzy tunes notwithstanding

This morning while I was in the bathroom re-combing Captain America's hair--his standards for "combed" are much lower than mine--Groceries hopped up onto the toilet seat and tried to climb me by sinking his claws into the part of me that would be called the round, if I were being divided into primal cuts.
image courtesy of wikipedia

Not a good time, especially in thin knit leggings.

Last night we watched "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," and I was reminded what a total bummer Charlie Brown is. No wonder he doesn't have any friends! He's a hopeless sad sack who brings everybody down! And Snoopy needs to ditch that flying ace affectation, because it is tired. Lucy is a shrew, Linus needs speech therapy, Schroeder is pretentious, Sally is vacuous, and Pig Pen is disgusting. The end. I hope the Christmas special holds up better upon review.

Friday, November 12, 2010

our daughters' daughters will adore us

The other day I had to go buy some more liquor for my vanilla extract. That's always a weird experience, since I can't just pick it up at the grocery store and hide it under the bananas if I see someone I know. Sorry if I've cost anybody their testimony because you saw me lugging a big paper sack out of the liquor store. I promise I don't drink it unless I really, really want to.

I've been using gold rum in my vanilla, which is a bonus if I'm making a recipe that calls for rum--two birds with one stone, you know. But I've read that rum has fruity notes, and bourbon has caramel notes, and since I am not a fan of fruity vanilla I decided to try bourbon in this last batch. My palate is nowhere near refined enough to even tell the difference, but I like to think that someday, someone, perhaps a truffle pig, may appreciate my effort. Maybe next time I'll try dark rum--hey, maybe I'll have a bunch of different vanillas for different applications! I think I'll start a business now. Don't steal my idea. Except I wouldn't feel right about selling something that's so easy to make yourself. You guys, cast off the shackles of Big Vanilla. Buy some good beans, maybe cut a couple of them open, and plop them in the liquor of your choice--heck, use vodka if you want to be boring and pedestrian. Wait a month, and you're done. Here's what I do.

Homemade Vanilla
1/2 gallon Mason jar
12-14 vanilla beans
2 liters liquor of your choice (you won't use all of it the first time--the extra is for topping off)

Put the beans in the jar. Pour the liquor over them. Close the jar and give it a shake every now and then for a month or two. The process will go faster if you cut a couple of the beans open. I decant the vanilla into a smaller jar with a pour spout--something like this: I keep it on my counter and refill as needed. When the alcohol in the big jar gets down far enough to expose the beans I add some more. It is easy as pie, and this way you also have vanilla beans nicely preserved for whenever you want to slash one open and scrape its guts into your dessert.

You can use any jar you want, as long as it's tall enough for the booze to cover your beans.

I made coconut cream pie filling with coconut milk instead of regular milk this morning, and it worked like I suspected it might. Why have I wasted so much of my life eating shredded coconut stirred into vanilla cream pie filling and thinking that was good enough? Boo, old-timey cooks! You know better!


Whoa, people! I did not realize how much Frontier charges for their vanilla beans on Amazon. That is steep, steep. I get mine wholesale, and it's about $20, including tax, for about 30 beans.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

a long-simmering feud erupts

I hope John's parents don't read my blog. At least not today, because holy crow, have you seen this commercial?


Now, John and I have analyzed this incredibly offensive commercial, and here are our findings.

John's findings
1. This commercial is targeted at men, because men buy jewelry.
2. The woman puts her arms around the man, and the graphics show the necklace doing the same thing, to connect the pendant to the woman's behavior, leading to:
3. The entire commercial is for the five-second scene that starts 23 seconds in, where the woman (using her sex worker voice) sends a clear message of "Jewelry! You can touch my boobs now." And the men will think, "Must buy jewelry."

Layne's findings
1. That guy is a serial killer. No, really, did you listen to his voice? "In all the years we've been coming here heh heh heh . . . and I always will be heh heh heh . . ."
2. The grossly overwrought fear response to thunder and lightning is infantilizing, sexist, and has earned Kay Jewelers an eternal rabid enemy (me).
3. If anyone brought me that hideous piece of jewelry, even separated from its archaic misogynist trope of an ad, I would throw him out.
4. Any woman who would accept jewelry from this company is a traitor to the sisterhood.

Is my reaction breaking Newton's Third Law of Motion?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

of baby candy

Hey, so, I came across a blog post about Halloween, and one of the commenters was griping "if your child can't walk, they can't have any candy!" What the crap? What is wrong with her? Why is she so evil and bizarrely fixated on Trick-or-Treat protocol? Not me. If you come to my house properly costumed at any age, I will give you candy. That lady is a bummer and she needs to cram it with walnuts. My only Halloween rule is NO TRUNK OR TREAT. Trunk or treat is a lame idea for lamewads.

My aunt gave me her Paul McCartney concert shirt, which was way righteous of her. I wore it yesterday and EVERYONE WAS JEALOUS.

Do you want to know how the park is progressing? Well, good, I'll tell you. We have to conduct an anonymous income survey of the section of town that will benefit most from the park to see if we're poor enough to get a grant. Hope so! I've spent the last week preparing packets for the Boy Scouts, one packet for each of the routes, full of maps, envelopes, surveys, scripts, pencils, sharpeners, and highlighters (red for refusal, green for completed survey, yellow for not home). I am bribing the Boy Scouts with donuts to make them happy about traipsing around in the frigid November weather asking surly townsfolk intrusive questions. Civic involvement is a two-edged sword, my friends.

Monday, November 8, 2010

what you need you have to borrow

Both Better Homes and Gardens and Country Living have been sort of weird with their phrasing the last couple of months. They keep saying things like, "Problem is . . ." and "Thing is . . ." with no 'the' in front. I don't know what that usage is called, but I don't like it. It makes me feel like they're trying to be all informal and hip. Look, nobody likes a grandma in a miniskirt, I don't care how good her legs are (Tina Turner excepted).

Over the last week we have talked ourselves into and out of a dog again (not literally). It was really hard for me to not take Captain America's wish for a puppy and just ride it into the sunset. I want you all to applaud my growth. I keep reminding myself that I will regret it the second we get a dog. I will resent the burden it is on my schedule. I will hate the smell and the mess and the guilt for not exercising it. But you guys, the shelter in Logan gets 4-6 new dogs a day. And it just makes me grit my teeth in frustration. Why don't people spay and neuter? Why don't they adopt from shelters? It's like they grew up in a weird alternate reality where Bob Barker and ethical animal husbandry don't exist! Also many shelters want to die on the sword of recouping their entire investment in the animal, rather than ask for "a donation of your choice" to try to at least get the animal into a loving home.

I'm pretty sure that using recycled materials and energy-efficient appliances in a monstrously large house do not tip the scale to "green." Sorry.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

oh render thanks

A few years ago I was watching Martha Stewart, and one of the audience members asked a question about pets ruining furniture, and Martha said she'd rather have animals than nice furniture, and she said it all sniffy-like, like the lady was a total buzzkill for caring about her furniture so much. Doesn't that seem like a lie to you? I love Martha, but she is a proven neat freak. I'm a proven slob, and when I had to search and destroy ANOTHER puddle of Skiver's pee this morning I was royally pissed. He's going to ruin our cowhide and wool rug! So I call shenanigans on Martha.

Since many (Jill) of you want the recipe for my grandma's squash pie, I will give it to you. But you have to promise to do it the right way--none of this baking-in-the-crust nonsense. To blind bake, if you are curious, means to bake the pie crust in the tin with no filling. Detailed instructions can be found here. I would add to their instructions this advice: don't stretch the dough when you're draping it into the pan. It shrinks as it cooks, and if you've stretched it, then your crust will end up smaller than the pan and will be gross and stupid. I know from experience. So be generous with your dough.

Squash Pie
(makes 1 pie)

Whisk in a large bowl:
3 eggs

Whisk thoroughly into eggs:
2 C cooked squash or canned pumpkin*
1 1/2 C heavy cream
3/4 C sucanat or brown sugar
1 T honey or liquid sugar of your choice
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t ground ginger or 1-2 T of fresh grated ginger
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1/4 t allspice
1/2 t salt

The spices are all rough estimates, of course. Use as many as you want. Pour into a pan and cook at 375* for 1 1/2 hours or until it is the desired consistency. Spoon the cooled filling into a baked pie crust, top with whipped cream and serve.

*My grandma uses Blue Hubbard squash, always has, always will, but my mom usually uses canned pumpkin. My grandpa says he can tell the difference, but he is full of it, according to the blind taste test we did many years ago. I use Blue Hubbard myself, because it's a delicious eatin' squash and it's huge, so I always have some left over. But the other day I used a Rouge Vif d'Etampes pumpkin, and it's just as good.

Pie Crust
(makes 2 single crust pies or 1 double crust)

2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 T sugar
1 1/2 t coarse salt
1/2 C chilled lard
3/4 C chilled butter (1 1/2 sticks)
ice water

Combine dry ingredients, then cut in fat until there are a range of pieces from crumbs to small peas in size. Add the water, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture holds together when pinched. Do not overwork the dough. When the dough holds together, shape it into two equal balls and flatten each ball into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour before using.

I love this recipe. The butter makes the dough extremely easy to work with (and not as easy to overwork), and the lard makes it flaky.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

or by a comma when the feeling's not as strong

I just want to remind everyone really quickly that Republicans like big government just as much as Democrats do.

Because I am a pessimist who chafes at being bossed, I cannot see the benevolent hand of government. I think of government as a mink that while in its cage is somewhat manageable, but at liberty will eat the heads off of all your chickens. Then it will bite your hand--the fleshy part near the thumb. And it will get infected and ooze green pus, and you'll eventually die a horribly painful death of rabies or some other blood-borne disease.

Sorry to get all issues-driven on you.

Have I told you yet how everybody else in the world makes their pumpkin pie wrong? If so, too bad, because I'm going down the only road I've ever known. Here's what you SHOULD be doing: cook the filling in a pan, then blind bake your crust and put the filling in the cooled crust. Spoon a bunch of whipped cream on top and have at it. Trust me, it's so much better. As John describes it, there is a spectrum where 0 represents nasty crap he doesn't want to eat, -50 is regular pumpkin pie, and -2 is pumpkin pie my family's way. How can you disregard such a glowing endorsement?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

it's a drag it's a bore it's really such a pity

I reread Dracula for Halloween this year. The last time I read it was in high school, and it was a fun romp and all, but I'm irritated by Bram Stoker. I imagine he was fairly typical of his era and I got pretty tired of the constant surprised statements of how special Mina Harker is because she has a "man's brain," and the men's fear that she would lose her sanity if they discussed the nature of vampires with her . . . you know how hysterical women are. Groan. Then there's the xenophobic Westerner way in which he voiced Van Helsing and described all the minor players. Perhaps I'm seeing bigotry where there was none, or none intended, but he already lost me with his Madonna/whore complex.

Also I read Stiff and The Secret Life of Bees. Stiff was okay. It kept not being as entertaining as I wanted it to be. The Secret Life of Bees was better than I anticipated. I was afraid it was going to be an Oprah's Book Club-type, all full of rape and incest and whatnot, but it wasn't (spoiler!). It did irritate me all over again and made me marvel at the ability of humans to be thoroughly despicable.

Speaking of which: hey, it's Election Day! Good luck.

this is to help me remember

Coming soon to this space: introspective musings about underlying and overt misogynist themes in Dracula.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

from beneath you it devours

After reading this interview, specifically this sentence:

"My focus began to shift to figuring out how to make a pastry healthier for the kids while maintaining the flavor and structure that I was accustomed to."

how could I not buy this book? The one I wanted so long ago and still haven't gotten? Well, that's that. I'm buying it today. I'll call it groceries or something. Not Groceries, groceries. Groceries with an uppercase G looks like this:
I can see how it would be easy to get the two confused, though.

I think Skiver is dying. It's upsetting. He looks and feels like a hairy skeleton . . . sort of like newly grown antlers on a caribou, maybe. I think it's his kidneys.

Monday, October 25, 2010

could we have kippers for breakfast, mummy dear, mummy dear?

Maybe some of you thought I was lying about the white alligators. We also found a house elf in the airport.

It makes me laugh when I see new parents trying to reason with their toddlers. We all do it, but it sure looks funny from the outside. The parent's all, "Bodkin, why did you spit on your brother? Hoosfoos, would you like it if someone bit you?" And the kid's like, "Umm, I'm two. I'm just going to keep throwing poop, if that's okay." Because it's basically like trying to converse with a gibbon. I get that all the time with my kids. I keep forgetting that they're not rational.

Friday, October 22, 2010

they're calling it remoulade, but it tastes a whole lot like fry sauce to me

I have a doctor's appointment today, and this guy has the most boring magazines. I like to use my time at the doctor to catch up on my smut, and how am I supposed to do that when they're only stocking garbage like educational pamphlets and RV Life? It's a real struggle.

Since we're getting our fancy new goat for next spring, I've decided to cut way, way down on the garden. You should see the shocking disarray of our vegetable garden right now. And after last year was so beautiful and well-tended! Now it's all wild, evil fruit, and I'm going to have to cleanse it with fire or something. Yuck. So next year, the only givens in the garden are tomatoes and zucchini. Everything else has to submit a notarized request in triplicate, keeping the goldenrod copy for their personal records. Pink goes to HR, white goes into their permanent file. I wish I were a better person, but as it is, I can't do kidding and gardening in the same year, especially when kidding next spring is also going to mean milking. Finally. I'm stoked. You guys think I'm lying, but milking is such a relaxing activity. It's the setup and takedown that are no fun.

Question: do you have a down comforter? If not, you should get one. If so, can you imagine life without it? I can't. I'd rather gut a fish with my mouth than live without down. For real.

Monday, October 18, 2010

it's laserbeak! run, windcharger!

Want to hear about our vacation? I will oblige. Technically this falls under the heading of "family outings" and belongs over on Sehr Laut, so I will be briefish. LIE!

First off: Florida, I am sorry, but you are not as magical as Oregon or California. I think that the TWELVE-hour drive to California and the FOURTEEN-hour drive to Oregon served the purpose of making us so very, very thankful to get out of the car that we could have ended up in Urinetown and still felt as though the sun shone only for us. Also a hellishly long drive with four children bonds you all together like infantrymen, and I seem to remember there being a lot more camaraderie and a lot less sniping and yelling and base ingratitude on our California and Oregon vacations.

But aside from that, our trip was wunderbar. Florida has such gorgeous, balmy water, and the beach had soft, compliant sand, and John only saw one shark as big as his arm. We went to Gatorland and saw monstrous alligators--even some white ones! Not albino, but leucistic, which is way more rare and gives them blue eyes. They're super fierce. We went to Islands of Adventure and experienced Wizarding Worldish things, which were fun and a little bit scary (dementors!), and we wanted to buy a Marauder's Map, but they cost fitty dollars! Gougers! We went to Typhoon Lagoon and went snorkeling in their big saltwater tank and I did not have a (very big) panic attack.

Pinga peed the plane going to and from, and also the rental van while I was in the Great Satan buying a car seat for her on the Sabbath Day (confluence of wrongnesses), since I had forgotten our own car seat. But she is in diapers! How is this accomplished? Three times? I don't know. All I know is the pee came burbling up out of the diaper and went everywhere. Upsetting.

We ate some she-crab soup that was pretty much life changing. I can't explain it to you.

welcome back, welcome back, welcome ba-a-ack

It's not a secret that I have a laundry problem. If you've ever been to my house you've seen the baskets full of clean, dry, unfolded laundry sitting on the table, or the buffet, or the couch. If you haven't seen them it means we were showing off for you and we hid the baskets in our bedroom or in the office. We call that shame hiding. When we are expecting guests we always set aside 5-10 minutes to shame hide before their arrival.

I think I've told you that I don't even bother with socks anymore. We just keep them in a basket always, and here's why: when John was in MBA school one of his professors would ask, "Is it Coke or toilet paper?" If you have a bunch of toilet paper, it's not going to change the rate at which you use it, but if you have a bunch of Coke, you're going to go through it much more rapidly, and use it all up. So it doesn't make sense to buy a big supply of Coke, no matter how on sale it is. At our house socks are Coke. If we keep them jumbled in a basket, the kids have to ferret around in the basket to find a matching pair, and it's a hassle, and they don't want to do it any more than they're forced to. But if I sort and pair all of the socks and put them in the kids' drawers, then they'll go through two or three pairs a day because they take their shoes and socks off every time I turn my back and string them all over the house and lose them and think, "No big, I'll just get another pair out of my drawer." That's bull plop.

And if you were curious, lace-up boots are totally a thing, just like I said they would be, and I saw the cutest pair in Cocoa that were black leather and grey canvas . . . not the right size, though.

Skiver is not dead, Rex and Groceries are furry and healthy, and the goats are in good temper. The chickens all seem to be alive as well, but there are so many of them it's hard to tell. Groceries especially is looking good--he has been laboring on his carriage during our absence, and he is a ponderous cat.

Friday, October 8, 2010

I told you getting pregnant at fifteen would pay off eventually

Here are a couple of food adventures we had recently.

When I was milking my neighbor's goats for a week I made some chevre that was, according to John, my best ever. Roasted garlic flavor. We couldn't eat it all and had to give it to the chickens when it got all furry. Hard cheese I'll wash off and carry on, but soft cheese . . . that's not as cool.
Also I got drunk with power one night and attempted a party-size omelet. It was a disaster.
My parents brought home some lobsters from Maine, and we had a 'strornry big lobster boil on Sunday. No pictures, sorry. It would just make you jealous, anyway, because you wish YOU could be eating some ocean floor scavengers of your own. Lobsters are sort of like the pigs of the sea, I guess, because they parteth the hoof, but they cheweth not the cud.

John and I watched the pilot of Raising Hope while we were packing last night and laughed ourselves silly. We had to stop it and backtrack to listen again during one part, and we've only ever done that with 30 Rock and maybe Community. I know none of you had the love for the Sarah Connor Chronicles that we did (thanks for getting it cancelled, jerks), but Cromartie/John Henry is superb as the father. Something Dillahunt . . . Garret. Thanks, Wikipedia!

Do you think the fact that I just googled "how long does it take a body to decompose" will count against me at my insanity hearing? Nah, I didn't think so. I just want to know, because I've made my kids promise not to embalm me.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

they can cry themselves to sleep on their huge piles of money

Thoughts upon reading this article:
1. Ah, vengeance is sweet.
2. I feel bad for all the farmers they've snookered into buying their products.
3. Who would ever have imagined that living organisms would adapt to their environment?
4. Here's to financial ruin!
5. If only it meant the end for real.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I'm not your friend

We're leaving for Florida this weekend. If any of you are thinking about robbing us while we're gone, you probably shouldn't, and here's why:
1. We don't have any nice stuff.
2. Our next-door neighbor is good at shooting and killing things. He also has experience with butchering pigs, which, as you know, are very anatomically similar to humans. Just saying.

While we're in Florida we're going to Islands of Adventure. I can't even talk about the Wizarding World without dissolving into grunts and squeals of excitement, and launching into an impassioned lecture about the Eternal Themes Within the Harry Potter Series; i.e. Good vs. Evil, Agency vs. Coercion, Creation vs. Destruction, ad nauseam. I'm a hoot at parties. Ask me about Madeline L'Engle, I dares ya.

Ugh, I read I Am Legend last night, and sure enough, it broke me even worse. This is what I know about the future: no matter what, it's going to be ugly. Take your pick of terminators, vampiris bacteria, cloned dinosaurs, nuclear winter, blood cults, the four horsemen . . . it's going to be a bumpy ride. So looking forward to it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

is it conquest or pestilence? why is there no consensus?

Every time I chew a piece of gum I chew it really fast at first, and get all the flavor out. I just like it so much that I don't take the time to savor it. It would be better if I weren't so impatient.

I think I'm going to have to start keeping a loaf of bread and some shelf-stable peanut butter and jelly in the car.

On the way to my kids' school there is a dead and bloated Border Collie. I have never seen what happens at the end of this--does a bloated animal eventually explode?

My shirt finally arrived, and now I can show you what it looks like. It is here.

Friday, October 1, 2010

would a snoop dogg cameo rap make you extremely likely, somewhat likely, somewhat unlikely, or extremely unlikely to buy this single?

I was going to film the lancing of Traci's abscess yesterday for you guys, but I forgot. Sorry! But it's okay, because there wasn't even any pus, so it wouldn't have been very exciting. What the vet thinks happened is a bit of June grass worked its way down into her neck. He found a bunch of it way back in her cheeks, too. Poor Traci. She behaved very well, even though he was cutting into her throat and making her bleed all over the place. It took all three of us to restrain her, but considering the circumstances, I think that's understandable. And she didn't yell at all, not like some I could mention (Edna).

I feel bad for Katy Perry. I know she's just trying to be cool and popular and represent the zeitgeist and everything, but whenever I hear her music I just hear a girl who resents her parents and her churchy upbringing and is whacking clumsily away at all of it with a wooden sword. Her lyrics are so awkward and ugly . . . there's no seduction, no allure there. I mean, she gets it done anyway, because partial nudity and autotuned dancey beats make up for a lot. But you can see her counting. Like an amateur production of Swan Lake; the steps may be there and correct, but you can see the dancers going, "Move here two three, turn two three, leap two three, leap two three, leap two three." Every move is calculated, not organic and instinctual. I hate it when things feel focus grouped.

Except for my four little ponies of the apocalypse shirt, which still isn't here.

I'm eating Angelus peaches this week. A little nervous about it. But so far they haven't murdered my family to drive me insane. Maybe they have been cursed with a soul?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

how do dinosaurs extend their product line?

Oh, man! Have you ever seen a praying mantis in defense/attack mode? It is crazy! Just now Rex had one cornered on the front porch, and it swelled its behind and made it all curvy like a scorpion, and it had these ear-looking things all flapped out and bright orange--they are super scary!

Funny story about a former coworker of John's: a number of years ago one of his sons, who was about twelve at the time, said, "Hey, Dad, how many letters are in the alphabet?" And Brad said, "Twenty-six." Whereupon the son exclaimed, "No, twenty-five! Wasted! You don't count the and! Duh!"

Ha ha ha ha ha! Kids are so stupid and bratty.

I don't mind being just a little bit sick with gastrointestinal upset, because it makes me feel so skinny until I get better and start eating again.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

product may stay: jelly belly french vanilla gourmet soda

You guys might not believe me, but one of the best cream sodas I've tasted is Jelly Belly French Vanilla. I bought it at Ross or TJ Maxx last week for John, because he loves cream soda more than any other drink in the whole wide world, except maybe cold milk at the end of Fast Sunday.

In my opinion, cream soda should taste like vanilla, and strongly so. I hate, hate, hate a sour or tangy cream soda. So the Jelly Belly soda is perfect by my standards. Creamy and sweet, but not cavity-sweet. It makes a delightful pour-on for Breyers All Natural French Vanilla ice cream. That, my friends, is what an ice cream soda is meant to be.

If you're going to be drinking empty calories, shouldn't they at least be delicious?

Monday, September 27, 2010

are you sure?

Okay, death is not an option. Would you rather be stranded on an island with Giada de Laurentiis or Rachael Ray?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

keep all your money in a big brown bag

Tomorrow morning Rex and Groceries are going to the vet to, as John put it, get the junk out of their trunks. That means get their testicles (pronounced tes'-tih-clay) cut off so they won't make babies, of course you understand. They can't have breakfast--DANGER!--and I think this will happen: they will claw their way through the screen in the boys' room and eat their faces. They are feral cats, after all. I heard recently that of all domesticated animals, cats are the ones that most readily return to their wild state. I'm going to say sure, makes sense to me.

I got bangs. I'm still on the fence about it.

I've been trying to feed Traci some kelp to help with her goiter, but no luck so far. We may have to use conventional medicine. Translation: Captain America and I will go out there with his Old Timer pocket knife, which looks like this: Then I will tell him about how the goiter needs to go, and he will earn his Veterinary Surgery merit badge. It's going to be great.

Friday, September 24, 2010

the antioxidants will help with that

John and I belong to a group of like-minded people who buy hippie food in bulk. We like to pretend that it's part of our food storage. Which is why I make sure to buy lots of Endangered Species and Green & Black's and Chocolove and Newman's Own chocolate bars. Because if our family ever gets to a point where we're living on our food storage, we're going to want something to take our minds off the crushing despair of destitution and make us think instead about cavities and flabby bottoms.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


So they're breeding eel salmon; so what? When are they going to start making gryphons and regenerating pigs and flying monkeys? I mean, flying monkeys were conceptualized ages ago! Why is the scientific community sitting around goldbricking?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

well at that point really I'm going on adrenaline

My favorite hotel to stay in with my family is Comfort Suites. Here's why:
1. down comforters
2. Belgian waffles
3. not so nice that we're going to feel stupid staying there with kids

Would you like to hear about my new project? 'Course you would. It's fun. I am the squeaky wheel who wondered why the big field of grass up by the cemetery is a puncture weed habitat instead of a park. So now I get to do sketches and drawings and a written proposal for my vision for the park in order to get moneys given to us at the City Council's planning meeting. And something I've already learned is that playgrounds are a racket. Any playground that costs less than twenty thousand dollars is totally lame. So I'm going to try to get the playground peoples in a bidding war with each other and see if we can get some sweet molded-plastic-and-powder-coated-steel action going on up there.

I think I'm going to make a necklace of all the teeth my kids lose/have lost. Plus my own wisdom teeth, because they'll add a little heft. I'm not sure how to do it, though. Should I drill a hole through the center and string them like pearls? That sounds the best, but I worry that some of the teeth are so small that they might crack if we try to drill them. Maybe this sounds a little morbid to you. Maybe you're boring.

Monday, September 20, 2010

if he eats any more heartily he will turn into a pie shop

I have decided not to teach piano lessons anymore. I do not feel conflicted. I will miss the money, but since it was only twenty-eight dollars a week I think I'll be able to get past it.

Sometimes I think that flossing only makes it easier for stuff to get caught in my teeth. I wish the ADA would address this important topic. My dentist told me to lay off the Oral-B Sonic Complete toothbrush for a while because I'm brushing away my gums again. He gave me another one of those soft toothbrushes, and I hate it! I hate furry teeth so much. Somebody should invent scrubby gum and it would solve all my problems.

While I was losing weight (Weight Watchers worked for me, modified somewhat to exclude the non-foods they endorse) I learned that I eat until the point of physical pain. That's what full is to me: when I cannot fit any more food into my stomach without causing organ damage. Maybe it has something to do with my having been abandoned as an infant and raised by a friendly grizzly bear. I must have acquired similar binge-eating habits. That would also explain my fondness for sleep. It's all starting to make sense now!

Pretty much our family is on the brink of financial ruin right now, because we (John) still haven't done our taxes, but we knew we were getting a whopping return (we use the government for a savings plan, because they are wiser and more careful stewards of our money than we are; yes, this is embarrassing) and we went ahead and did all the projects we were planning on anyway. Trees, driveway, my trip to NY, family vacation to Florida (still to come), etc., and now there's a teensy problem called "we are out of money until Thursday." I would nag John more, but I figure if we've made it this far without using the tax return, and we're still technically financially solvent as long as I don't spend over one hundred dollars before Thursday, then maybe we can just use the time he would spend doing taxes watching TV and eating popcorn instead. Also nagging doesn't work on John. It's like water off a duck's back, only the water, as it drips off the duck, turns into acid and burns stuff. Who needs that?

Friday, September 17, 2010

better not be present tense

I used to look at kids on leashes and think snotty thoughts about their parents. I used to listen to the stories John told me about the many times he ran away as a preschool child, with random strangers and police officers bringing him home, and the neighbors saying to the policeman, "That woman NEVER watches her kids--they're always running all over the neighborhood," and think, "Not me." I used to think that any child could be taught to behave properly, given boundaries and discipline.

Let's say it together, shall we? "Shut up, Layne!"

Because it seems increasingly likely that Pinga has been sent here for the sole purpose of humiliating, enraging and defeating me. And though I still think leashes look crazy, I can understand why people use them. I quite literally can't ever take my eyes off of Pinga, or she's in the road, or locked in the car, or eating gum off the top of the fridge, or sneaking over to the neighbors' house to paint her clothes and body with fingernail polish, or tearing the end off her toe, or being brought back to me by a stranger who found her wandering around (these have all happened at least once since last Wednesday). And yeah, there are probably a few things (many things) I'm doing wrong that make her so mischievous and wandery. But I'll be darned if I know what they are.

So I'm sorry, everyone, for judging you.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

life, I love you . . . all is groovy

I was feeling pretty mutinous yesterday when I was planting the first of the oak trees. I had to dig three melon farming holes before it was in the right place because I was being stupid, and it kept tipping over--what is the deal with these POTS?--and busted some branches and now a bunch of the leaves are all crispy and the tree will probably die, also there were rocks and rocks and rocks in the dirt, some-nay, many-of them potato-sized. MUTINOUS, I tell you.

But then John came home and planted the last tree in about half an hour, and he made it all fancy with a trough to hold water. Showoff! I was very thankful.

Man, when we moved up here to "chuck it," as it were, I never imagined myself being this busy. With all the things I rail against, no less! We never get the kids to bed on time because the second they walk in the door it's chores, homework, reading, soccer practices/games, milking goats (this is new and temporary), dinner, baths, stories and bed, with no break. That may not seem like a lot, but once you intersperse each task with yelling (me), fighting (them), compromise of core values (me), and not being able to find the cleats and shin guards they had on yesterday (them again), it takes up a lot of time. I guess I'm probably the most overworked and underappreciated mother in the world, except for all of you who are moms, and all the other moms who have it worse than me, and probably any of the wives of those cheating miners. They seem like they've got a pretty hard row.

We have a book called ABC Animals: A Bedtime Story. It sucks so bad you can't imagine. The rhymes are the absolute worst and so contrived. I hate this book. The illustrations, which are fantastic, do not make up for the putrid text. Death to this book.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

yellow matter custard

It's not that I mind being pear-shaped. It's as good a shape as any other, I suppose, and any scientician will tell you that it means I won't get heart disease or something. Pity the apple-shaped ladies whose legs we all envy, for they have purchased those legs with an increased risk of heart disease! Sometimes I wish I were noodle-shaped, but I suppose the noodle shape comes with problems of its own.

I had a lecture all ready for you guys about government and politicians and opportunistic curtailment of civil liberties and megalomania and duplicity and oppression, but it makes me too sad. Deleted! Plus, whenever I'm reading somebody's blog and they're trying to be all serious and earnest about some Great Cause, I think to myself, "Self, that person needs to shut up. This is off-putting." We're all idiots, and if we spent more time with our kids, trying to turn them into decent human beings, then the world might not need quite so much saving. That's what I think to myself every time I sit down to write some lame blog post, is, "Self, you need to spend more time with your kids. They are going to turn out creepy."

Canadian Harmony is the best peach, but it's pretty much gone now. Cresthaven is the next best--a thicker and slightly hairier skin than Canadian Harmony, but extremely sweet. Almost like a honeydew melon. Buy some and freeze them.

Yesterday in desperation I planted the elm all by myself with no help from John, just to keep it from tipping over. Now I've got to go out and do the same thing with the oaks. It's a darn nuisance, is what it is. John promised that if he didn't have to help pick them out he'd plant them. To make up for it he'd better get me that shirt from woot that I want.

Monday, September 13, 2010

you'll bring honor to us all

Remember Hazel, the goat we're buying this fall? Her family is out of town this week at a show, and Hazel and her herdmate Sage are staying home. So Mrs. Magic Neighbor (who is buying Sage) and I are taking care of milking them. We tried out my new Henry Milker, which is pretty much like a breast pump with a dial to show you how much pressure you've got. And it's got a different-shaped adapter on the end, since goats aren't shaped like humans, in case you didn't know. It works fairly well--either Hazel or Sage (we can't tell them apart) has teats that are just a tiny bit too small for the syringe, so I'll need to get a smaller one. I won't talk about it in front of her though, so I don't hurt her feelings. It's not her fault!

Okay, now to business. I was reading Lucky the other day, and their featured fashion luminary this month is Ellen Pompeo, whom I will begin to dismiss right . . . now. She says her eyes are her best feature, which is not true, because they are actually small and piggy. Not her fault, either, and I think it's great that she's so confident. But she's also wrong. She also makes a prim, righteous statement about how she's trying to stop buying leather (next to a picture of some $495 Stella McCartney synthetic leather shoes), which is, in my opinion, uninformed and reactionary. Replacing leather or fur with plastic is not your friend. Buying $500 plastic shoes is wasteful, extravagant, self-indulgent, and by its very nature environmentally unfriendly. Pfft. She is full of baloney.

We watched some of the 9/11 footage on the History Channel Saturday night, and it's just as horrible as ever. All those doomed people waving their shirts and coats out the windows, the jumpers, the firemen resolutely walking to their deaths, the sheer volume of destruction, the depth and breadth of evil. It's overwhelming.

Have a great day!

Friday, September 10, 2010

if you pop that gum one more time . . .

Okay, I've got a bur under my saddle about something. "Bur under my saddle" means "angry."

It's my bedtime now, and I'll probably forget what I wanted to yell about, but when I get back here at a more opportune time remind me about vegan leather and parabens and conspicuous consumption.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

so papa's free to read the holy book

It's raining and cool today, and even though the house is finally at the temperature where we have been trying to get it to stay all summer (66*), I feel like the fire in the parlor should be going. But it won't! The pilot light says it's on, but maybe the thermostat is broken, like every other thing in this entire house!

For lunch we're going to be eating spaetzle. Superman loves it and eats it by the gross. I first ate it probably ten years ago when my friend Jenny made it for a ward activity. She has German ancestry and a very cool story about her grandmother bartering a manicure set in exchange for permission to cross the border into West Germany. Which reminds me: boy, those Nazis. They were a giant pain!

For a long time I didn't make spaetzle, because I didn't have the proper tool, and couldn't justify buying one for what I thought would be only an occasional dish. But the other day I realized that I could just use my large-holed grater, and it works like a charm. I feel bad about all the years I missed out on homemade spaetzle. If I had them now . . . like gold in my hand.

My mom grew kohlrabi this year and it tastes like turnips. What should I be doing with it? Do you think my new Indian cookbook will tell me?

The neighbor boy was over here the other day, and when I gave the kids some cauliflower for lunch he said, "This tastes a lot like farting." He likes eating Doritos and Twinkies and other stuff like that. He has a closet of them at home.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

we're not going to open all the bubbles right now

Today we went to Tri-City Nursery, which is part-owned by a couple in our ward. In my mom's words, it is as big as the whole world. I don't know how they could possibly keep track of everything, but somehow they do. Brother Lawson (that's his name in Mormonese) drove us all around in the mule and we picked out two Bur Oaks and an Accolade Elm. We may turn our ankles on the acorns.

A few weeks ago John and I walked around Utah State's campus to share the memories we never made with each other, since we didn't date until he started MBA school at BYU and I moved to Provo to work for Waterford. We got some Aggie ice cream, renewed our True Aggiehood, discussed the many potential complications and embarrassments that could have occurred the night my roommates and I rode the bull in our bras and panties, and had an altogether lovely evening until we started walking down the huge big sidewalk that goes in front of the Ag Science building and discovered that all of the gorgeous, stately Horse-chestnut trees have been chopped down and replaced with I think (it was dark) ash trees. Ash trees! I ask you! Those pukes. I am so mad at them.

I wish that cats pooped iron, because then maybe our Autumn Blaze maple wouldn't be getting chlorosis already.

Do you think that people are going to start getting sick of fondant pretty soon? I hope so.

That is all.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

gonna use oil-based paint, 'cause the wood is pine

We have a couple of bare patches in our lawn where we pulled out our giant hideous juniper bushes at the beginning of the summer. In a few weeks there will be trees there, but right now they're just scabby dirt holes. When we pulled the bushes out we discovered that every stray cat since the beginning of time has been pooping under them. Now Skiver and Groceries and Rex want a piece of that sweet action and have ceased even the pretense of using the litter box.

We let the chickens out to eat grasshoppers, which they don't do. Instead they go scrape around in the shrub holes, and every time it's like, "What's this? Is it treasure? Is it a bug? Oh, it's poop. What's this? Is it treasure? Is it a bug? Oh, it's poop." This goes on for hours, and you can see the crescendo-diminuendo of anticipation and disappointment played out over and over again right before your eyes. It's like a Police concert writ small.

Should I buy a Henry Milker? I'm thinking probably so. I love hand milking, but there's no denying that it takes longer; the catching, washing, kicking, milking, finishing the grain, kicking, dipping, straining, cooling . . . it adds up. And when I've already got a busy morning trying to get (human) kids ready for school (waking, waking, waking, nagging, hiding, wearing dirty clothes, camping out in the bathroom doing hair, losing shoes, eating, hating breakfast, bus coming, refusing to run), it means that I usually (read: always) decide that buying raw cow's milk is the way to go, even though cow's milk is probably single-handedly responsible for everything evil that has ever happened. Ask the hippies! They'll tell you. And of course I don't like underwriting evil, so if there is an easier and faster way to milk my goat, that sounds good to me.

Speaking of the goats, we finally got in touch with Sir Yellsalot's proper owners and he's going to go away, away, away! He is going to make gorgeous babies, but I hope they aren't as loud as he is. He gets to live with some Jersey calves, and I bet having company will fix his wagon.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

out there on your own

I don't want to ruffle any feathers, but I'm pretty sure that this song:

borrowed its introduction from this song:

And possibly some of the subject matter.

That is all.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


This is what I call ten pounds of cinnamon rolls in a five pound pan.

In other news, the baby goats (except for Tenacious G, who has an appointment at Premium Meat on the 22nd) went away today, and Edna is fit to be tied. She hates change. I am looking forward to her departure. And Traci has a ginormous goiter--not enough iodine, maybe? It's not eating brassicas, I know that. Ugh. Goats are a headache.

Monday, August 30, 2010

we got rid of the sugar in their vitamins, for one thing

First day of school today. I'm not going to lie, it was awesome having everybody gone but Pinga. Now, how to get rid of her?

I kid! She can stay for a while.

So, it was nice having them gone, but we did have a good summer. My children are cool and smart and funny, and hopefully we have addressed some of the, umm, recurrent behavioral issues that have beset us so often (read: always) in the past, and this is going to be the best school year ever. If it is we might have to buy Captain America a dog. I make rash promises sometimes.

I used to think that people who let their animals live inside were the worst kind of people (they sort of are). But think! Think of a boy and a dog snuggled up together. Shh. Don't think about the smell or implications for laundry and vacuuming. It would be cute and heartwarming.

Friday, August 27, 2010

I didn't know he was going to be doing bear jokes

Is it just me, or do the twisty, low-energy light bulbs burn out about twice as fast as regular light bulbs. So, they're poisonous, and we're going through twice as many? Should I be concerned?

When you're still single and trying to show off, or if you're married and want to do something a little special, go to Tona for your sushi. It's all hip and artsy-fartsy, the plating is gorgeous, and the food is delicious. After you're married and a little more comfortable with each other, or you just want good food without fuss, go to Koko Kitchen. No frills, but if the rest of their food is anything like the Tequila Sunrise roll I ate yesterday, you will be speechless with delight.

We ate at the Vienna Bistro last night, and I had veal for the first (and hopefully only) time in my life. I wanted to see what it tastes like, so I can choose the right cut of meat to replace it with when I attempt saftschnitzel at my own house. I'm thinking pounded pork tenderloin medallions will work just fine. You guys. The saftschnitzel. The mashed potatoes, good, the vegetables, great, the veal, good, the chanterelle cream sauce, heavenly angels singing a chorus of hallelujahs inside my mouth. Unbelievably delicious. I cannot live without it.

Then we went to The Lion King, and I was expecting to like it okay, but the puppets! Holy cow! I about unhinged my jaw when the elephant came marching out. Evidently I am easy to please, and if you throw enough money at something, I can be snookered into loving it. Other than the puppets it's like watching the movie with people doing the voices wrong. And because it's live instead of a cartoon, Rafiki couldn't totally whale on Simba's head with that stick, which was a shame. I miss Benson.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

well out of order

Okay, so, the other night John and I were watching Food Network at his parents' house--this is how we celebrated our anniversary, because we don't have the cable teevee, and I love Iron Chef. But! Instead of Iron Chef there was a show on called Cupcake Wars. Query: is it 2008? Because, how very current of them, no? Like, way to have your finger on the pulse, Food Network.

Additionally, in Better Homes and Gardens this month is a big article about the resurgence of cooking at home, and how people just love using the best ingredients and making jam, etc. Taken with the cupcake show I was feeling like maybe I dreamed that all of this stuff was big news a long time ago. But then I remembered that the demographic of Better Homes probably skews older and less trendy--not a slight, just a fact. Maybe they were waiting for the food movement to really prove itself as a going concern before they reported on it.

We entered our tomatoes in the county fair this morning. I predict white third place ribbons for all of us. It's a bad year in the garden.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I can serenade and gently play on your heartstrings

Last night on our way to the birthday party we were listening to "Somebody to Love," and Captain America asked, "Is this Mika?"

You know those moments you have as a parent, like when your kid gets caught printing money or pronounces 'facade' as 'fuh-kodd,' and you realize that you have completely, totally failed? That's how I felt. I don't mind Mika, I think his songs are catchy and fun. But that I have shirked my responsibility as a cultural mentor so extremely as to have this occur . . . it is sorrowful. What should have happened was the first time we heard "Grace Kelly" Captain America should have said, "This guy sort of sounds like Freddie Mercury--hey! He's talking about Freddie Mercury!"

I thought I was doing okay. I'm not a rabid Queen fan or anything, but their contribution to and influence on popular music is significant and impressive. We used to listen to the maroonish Greatest Hits album pretty often until Captain America (who was about three at the time) starting singing the words to "Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy," and I took that as a sign that he had successfully internalized the Queen sound and we could stop listening to it. Sigh. I see that we have much remedial instruction before us.

Monday, August 23, 2010

it is useless to resist (my haaaannnd!)

For anyone who needed all the rain and hail: you're welcome. We cut our hay last week, so . . .

The hail is really thanks to the peach farmers, though. The peaches are just starting to come on, so obviously the hail needed to come and punch divots in their plump, juicy flesh.

I'm making carrot cake for Mrs. Magic Neighbor's birthday party tonight. I feel exactly like a famous caterer, I'm just not sure what any of them are named.

IT'S THE COUNTY FAIR THIS WEEK! The fair so important that we have to start school a week later than everyone else in the entire state. Plus the rodeo, at which I appraise the relative talent of the entrants, and whether or not the bulldoggers are any good. It's not exactly humane, but I grew up with it and love it anyhow, and pry, cold, dead fingers, etc.

Off to Sumida's fruit stand for my first box of peaches! It is the best day of the year.

I bet I've already linked to this song before, but it is so glorious and we were listening to it again this morning, and all of you with smart little kids who love Star Wars must, must, must play it for them.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


The other day I was talking about pickles with a woman I know, and I told her how I had used Bittman's recipe for kosher pickles, which I thought had turned out too salty. So then she recommended a different recipe that has whey in it, and I told her I had seen that recipe but didn't have any whey on hand, so she said to make cheese. With some people you'd think this was useless advice, but in my case it's okay . . . except that it's not at all helpful. If I don't have whey, it's not because I didn't know how to get some. She said it like, "Oh, you probably don't know this, but there is a lot of whey left over after you make cheese. You could make yogurt, too. That has whey in it." I might be projecting inaccurately, but it seemed really weird. And then she was giving me advice about draining the yogurt to make it thicker, and it was sort of like being in a dream where somebody keeps telling you something you already know, but for some reason you can't talk, and they just keep blah blah blah until you finally wake up all frustrated that you couldn't say, "Yeah, I KNOW this already. Give me some new information, like how to get the Jinjo under the pier without Snacker eating me. GOSH."

I think Skiver is dying. He looks like a meth addict. Minus the energy.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

form of . . . something way lame!

Hoo, boy. Irrigating was a horrid disaster yesterday.

I got the belt I commissioned from my local boot repairman (what, don't you have one?). It's a double-wrap belt which I have been trying to find everywhere with no luck, even though it exists in plain sight on the internet. So Brother Nicholas made one for me, and it is fetching, and I can't wait until he starts making boots. I want some lace-up high heeled boots, and you can stop talking about my boot fetish right now. It seems, at least according to Endless, that the only people who buy lace-up high heeled boots are Vanderbilts and whores. Gee, I hope I'm a Vanderbilt . . .

Today while we were school shopping I bought a DVD collection of Justice League cartoons for the kids, and I somehow had forgotten how bad it sucks to be the boy Wonder Twin. Talk about disproportionate powers! In one of the episodes Zan (that's his name, I know, gross) made an ice jail to house a creepy lowlife who had picked up a girl who was evidently raised in a cave on Mars, because she was hitchhiking, and then he wouldn't let her go, dur, so the Wonder Twins came to the rescue, as they would for you, and stuck him in the Zan-form-of-ice-jail, but . . . it was at the beach. In California. In the middle of summer. So how did they think that was all going to work out? Why didn't Jayna take on the shape of a T-Rex and carry the perv in her toothful mouth to a real jail? Sheer laziness. I'm sorry, but I expect more from my cartoons than that.

Monday, August 16, 2010

only the sickest horses

I hope my neighbors don't come after me with torches and pitchforks today, because the baby goat who is still here yelled his fool head off all night. He seems to have forgotten how to get to his food and water. Maybe he just wasn't that hungry when I fed him this morning, but I have suspicions about his brainpower. I think he might be the one who accidentally got caught in the electric chicken fence at his old house.

Our dishwasher is now actively seeking my demise, and I fear it will have to be replaced. Never, never, never again will I buy an appliance from Amana. Remember when they were a good and reliable brand? Ah, the Clinton administration . . . we were so young then. Anybody out there love their dishwasher and want to give me recommendations?

If you drove past my house this morning and saw a lady putting a dam in the ditch while wearing dry-clean only corduroy capris, a handmade apron given her by her talented sister-in-law, and her husband's gloves, singing "Scarborough Fair" softly to herself in between grunts as she moved rocks (lifting with her back, gasp) onto the tarp, that was me. And if you drove past my house a half hour ago and saw a lady making cuts in the side of the ditch and falling off the shovel blade into the ditch in her dry-clean only capris, that was also me.

This "farming" thing is starting to take up sort of a lot of our time.

I got some awesome new stainless pans off of Woot, and though All-Clad they are not, cost what All-Clad does they do not. I know All-Clad is the shiznit, but I suspect that for my unschooled hamhands, the difference in quality is so minor as to be almost undetectable. I have quite enjoyed them thus far, and plan to use the six-quart stock pot tonight to make a zucchini bisque that I love and my children will really, really hate. You might not, though. Jenny's family grooves on it. Here is the recipe:

Zucchini Bisque
minimally adapted from Bountiful Harvest, an earnestly-titled but useful cookbook
(makes about 5 cups, so you know I'm going to double it)

1 onion, diced
1/4 C butter
2 1/2 C shredded zucchini
2 1/2 C chicken broth*
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1/4 t nutmeg
1 C cream (or whole milk, if you're slimming)

In a large saucepan, saute the onion in the butter. Add the zucchini and chicken broth. Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes, then add seasonings. Puree with a blender, fopro or immersion blender (the best choice, because: easy cleanup for lazy cooks like me!). Return to pan, stir in cream and heat through.

*Speaking of which, Cook's Illustrated did a taste-test of boxed stock, and Rachel Ray's is low in weird ingredients and high in decent flavor. Good for her.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

premature long-winded and meandering cookbook review: 660 Curries

When I moved to Provo after graduating from college I lived all by myself in a studio apartment on the side of a huge Tudoresque trophy house. Let me describe my apartment for you: after you climbed up the nine bajillion stairs you walked past the hot tub on the deck and entered through sliding glass doors (Richard, my realtor friend: would such doors have met code for an apartment?) what once had been a bedroom, I think. There was a log sofabed, a log nightstand, and a log coffee table with one of those glass tops that are invisible until you've gashed open your shin. There was a peninsula with a sink, a teeny gas range and a teeny fridge. There was a closet and a bathroom and a door into the main house, kept locked. It was very New York, now that I think about it, other than the rustic furniture. There was another apartment in the basement where a quarrelsome couple lived and screamed at each other and took my laundry day.

I spent most of my time in solitude watching TV, learning to love so many wonderful shows; Newhart, The Simpsons, Melrose Place, South Park . . . my parents would have been shocked and disappointed by the amount of time I spent in unprofitable and morally questionable boobtubery. I even watched TV on Sunday. Shh. But every once in a while a boy in my ward (named Hyrum, of course, this being Provo) who felt sorry for me would take me out on a date. For one of our early dates he took me to the Bombay House . . . and my life was changed.

Do you remember the first time you had Indian food? It almost brought tears to my eyes. I didn't know food could taste like that! There were flavors, textures, smells and spices I had never encountered, there were men wearing turbans, yogurt in my drink . . . what magical world was this? I fell completely and irrevocably in love.

I'm sure other lovers of Indian food are familiar with the disheartening quest to replicate the restaurant experience at home. Being young and less able in the kitchen, I wasted a good deal of time on things that I would never try now, but that's youth and inexperience. Patak's curry paste delivered heat, but not flavor, Golden Curry Sauce Mix delivered Asian flavors and probably carcinogens, and none of it was ever right. Over the years I gained skills in the kitchen and began trying recipes, which were more work for more failure. How frustrating!

A year or so ago I found Pastor Ryan's Chicken Tikka Masala on Pioneer Woman, swapped cabrito (goat meat!) in for the chicken, and finally, at long last, had something that didn't serve as a painful reminder of my culinary inadequacies. Then John bought for me (ON my birthday, not FOR my birthday, lest we think I'm spoiled for getting a New York trip and a Paul McCartney concert as well as presents) 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer. The reviews from everywhere have been glowing, and if last night's meal (Ginger Chicken with Peanuts and Coconut, or Murghi Ni Curry) is any indication, it is my new Indian bible.

Iyer's voice is personable, the recipes are clear and easy to follow, and the flavors you will get are, at least to this white girl's palate, delicious and very authentic. I should probably cook more from this book before I endorse it so avidly, but I had to share with you my success. There is a fair amount of prep work to get the ginger paste and garlic paste ready for use (thank goodness Claire was here to peel the fifty cloves of garlic while I was peeling and chopping eight ounces of ginger), but once they're made you're about a half hour away from an incredible Indian meal. I will happily cook a dish from it for you in order to convince you of my sincerity.