Wednesday, March 31, 2010

if we only had a lousy little grand we could be a millionaire

How do you feel about meatloaf? I love it, but it was not always thus. Once my mom cooked it for Sunday dinner--I know it was Sunday because there was Kool-Aid, which will also feature in this story--and I thought to myself the mid-eighties equivalent of "No freaking way am I eating that." But freaking hadn't been invented yet. I think.

So they made me try it, I hated it, I sat caressing it in my mouth rather than swallow it because kids are stupid, I tried to wash it down with Kool-Aid, it created a monstrous hybrid of suck, and I threw up on my plate. Ta-da!

But then I grew up and got married and had a baby, and one of our neighbors brought us a meatloaf. And it was so good that I decided to give meatloaf another try. Now, I know that people like to give Ina Garten a hard time because she's so astoundingly out of touch with reality (no, Ina, I am not going to discard the five chickens after I use them to make stock). But her recipes have never failed me, including this one for meatloaf, which is a nice big one. And it's amazing. You can swap out the turkey with beef and pork, which is what I did last night, and it was as good as ever. Better, maybe? I don't know. I just know that I couldn't shovel it into my mouth fast enough.

(from Ina Garten, courtesy of the Food Network website, so it's not even stealing)
3 C chopped yellow onions
2 T olive oil
2 T kosher salt
1 t pepper
1 t fresh thyme leaves (1/2 t dried)
1/3 C Worcestershire sauce
3/4 C chicken stock
1 1/2 t tomato paste
5 lbs. ground meat (she uses turkey breast, last night I did 3 lbs. beef and 2 lbs. pork)
1 1/2 C plain dry bread crumbs
3 extra-large eggs, beaten
3/4 C ketchup

Preheat oven to 325*.

Cook the onions, olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme over medium-low heat until the onions are translucent but not browned, approx. 15 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock and tomato paste and mix well. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Combine the ground meat, bread crumbs, eggs and onion mixture in a large bowl. Mix well and form into loaves. Ina does one big free-form loaf, but I found that mine got too spready and flat for my liking, so now I spray the inside of two bread pans, smoosh the mixture into that, then unmold the loaves onto a foil-lined cookie sheet. Spread the tops with the ketchup.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours until the internal temperature is 160* and the meatloaf is cooked through (if you do 2 smaller loaves it may take a little less time). She says that a pan of hot water under the meatloaf will keep it from cracking, but . . . it's meatloaf. Who cares if it cracks? Silly Ina.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

take heart, for mrs. pankhurst has been clapped in irons again!

Hi. Sorry about yesterday, with the yelling and the judging. I get like that sometimes. It's what happens when you spend all of your time with your husband, who shares most of your views, and your children, whom you've done an excellent job of indoctrinating. That's one of the reasons that everyone should travel--it forces you to be less myopic. Let's talk about chickens now.

Like childbirth, the horrors of last year's chicken harvest have somewhat faded in my memory. And it's been a long, long time since we've eaten chicken at our house. So, because I truly belong to John's family, I am making a spreadsheet about suitable meat or dual-purpose breeds. John is way excited about the idea of getting more animals, I can tell you that for sure.

In other news: you know how I like to switch out the ingredients of junk food so people feel all virtuous while they're eating it, so they end up eating even more? I did that with some sweet potatoes yesterday. I will post the recipe as soon as I reverse-engineer it.

Monday, March 29, 2010

in which I share more of my opinions

I have a feeling this might be a longish post, and those are almost always boring. Sorry about that. Blame Heidi and Amy. I usually skip long posts on the blogs I read, because I'm SO BUSY, and I just can't sit still for very long, you know? It's okay for the first five or ten hours, but then you start getting sore.

Anyway, we watched the second episode of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution on Saturday night, and first of all? He is not a convincing liar. A much more believable defense would have been to say, "The mother and I cooked a week's worth of meals of the food they typically buy, and once we got it out onto the table, it made the hair on our arms stand up." That way he wouldn't be betraying her, but he could still argue his way out of his insensitive, but truthful, comments. Plus it's true--she was sicked out by it. Now, I know that newspapers don't do a great job of keeping comments in context (having recently had an article published about my husband in which he is quoted as saying he has no brothers), but still. You could tell he was doing a little bit of a shell game there.

Then he made me mad by dismissing the chicken carcass as the gross part of the chicken. Yeah, you don't want to stick it on your plate and tuck in with a knife and fork, and I understand that he was trying to make a point, but my word. From a thrift and ethics standpoint it is irresponsible to portray the carcass as a disgusting thing that should be thrown away. Make some broth. Or don't, but don't teach the kids that it shouldn't be used. It's the same drum I'm always beating, but an animal has given its life for you to eat. Show some respect. Show some gratitude.

I was perturbed that they singled out only one son of the family for the YOU ARE KILLING YOURSELF AND ALSO AMERICA treatment. What about that sixteen-year-old who can barely breathe? What about the four-year-old Mama Cass (don't be hatin'--I love Mama Cass, but you've got to admit she was big)? Shouldn't they maybe be tested?

When he brought in all the parents and showed them WHAT GARBAGE THIS SCHOOL FEEDS YOUR CHILDREN there was a lovely moment of cognitive dissonance when one of the moms was decrying the laziness of the school cooks. Direct quote: "Is it easier for them to cook that, than to give, you know, our kids something healthier? That isn't processed." Gee, I don't know, mom, is it? Would your kids happen to be some of those who eat chicken nuggets every day? Maybe they aren't. Maybe you eat great food. And yeah, the cooks were probably thinking they don't get paid enough to be cutting up produce and using ingredients, dirtying knives and opening who knows how many jars, but this is a problem with plenty of accountability to share among the cooks, the government, and most of all the parents. They knew this was happening. If it's anything like our school, there is a menu sent home every month with the kids. If you don't want your kids eating garbage, then stop giving it to them.

Hmmph. Now I'm all upset to launch into my next topic. My friend Heidi asked me what I thought about this, and I say that if Walmart is going to encourage polycultures and small farmers and organics, and make produce, ingredients, and actual FOOD more accessible and affordable, then more power to them. It's progress toward conducting business responsibly. But my hatred of Walmart is so deep-seated, and springs from so many, many sources, that this does not redeem them for me. They are the easiest to hate because they are the biggest (and the most egregious offender), and yes, I do shop at big box stores. But not when I don't have to, and I'm one of the lucky people who aren't forced to shop at Walmart. So I don't, and I'm not going to start now--industry is not the remedy for what ails us. It's certainly a step in the right direction, and John believes that it may possibly perhaps not sure, but might (he put so many qualifiers on it that I'm not sure if he actually thinks this) be a catalyst that effects a sea change in the way people behave. I think he might be right. But a business does not have a soul, and it does not know right from wrong. All it knows is profit and loss, and when the right and responsible thing is not profitable, it is abandoned for the good of the business. The answer to our problems--whether it be supporting ethically-run businesses or feeding our children properly--is in our hands and is our responsibility. Get off my lawn!

Now for a palate cleanser. Have you seen the Clairol print ad featuring Angela Kinsey? It is terrible! For whatever reason, the colors in the ad are adjusted to a point where her hair matches almost perfectly her orange tweed suit. Why, oh why, would they think that women in that demographic want orange hair? Stupid.

Friday, March 26, 2010

while shopping today

I found this super neat shelf at Smith and Edwards. Behold!
There, on the top shelf? Those are bedpans and other things for peeing into. USED, MIND YOU. You're welcome.

This is the sortakinda thing I'm talking about, except for this particular hat has that LAME stenciling on the side.
People were staring at me funny while I was trying on hats and taking pictures. Jealous, probably.

it's not like there were any warning signs!

Let's not fly off the handle, folks. We don't know the whole story . . . maybe the guy told Cardinal Ratzinger that he felt bad about what he did, and he probably wouldn't do it again! How was he to know? I mean, are there even studies about the recidivism rate of pedophiles? Pshaw.

I especially like the game of hot potato everybody is playing with the accountability for this. Way classy.

On a lighter note, I disagree with the Pioneer Woman's instructions to run the Microplane zester over the lemon, not the lemon over the zester. I tried it her way once and zested the bejeebers out of my fingers. Eh, the evil you know, I guess.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

but what will I wear when I go to the rodeo?

You guys! I need help. I almost bought a slouchy straw cowboy hat today (yes it WAS a Stetson, if you must know), but it was the wrong size, and it gave me time to think about it. Am I losing my marbles? Remember how I am about rhinestone cowboys? But I looked RAD in it. We were there picking up our head lamps for nighttime chores, and I just happened to pass the hat department (shelf). I feel like they're sort of tacky and for rednecks/poseurs, but I refer you to the aforementioned radness.

Maybe I SHOULD buy it, so I can diversify my anemic hat collection, currently consisting of a felt fedora and a free promotional Case IH ball cap my dad gave me, which I am wearing right now because I have dirty hair and the cap is quite fetching.

I don't want to entrench myself in a specific appearance theme, and if I accidentally do, I CERTAINLY don't want that theme to be "dirt farming hillbilly." I will accept the occasional excursions into "gentrified hillbilly," though. Plus when we went to Wynton Marsalis last summer there was a couple in front of us who shared their picnic with us (nice!), and one of the girls was wearing a slouchy straw hat, and she looked super cute in it. Plus they were eating both Humboldt Fog and Morbier, so . . . clearly people of sound judgment and good taste.

Vote! Should I buy a slouchy straw hat? Or give it up as tacky/dated/stupid?

Oh! I forgot that we also have this hat. I guess I don't need any more hats after all.

I just wanted you to see what they look like without ear splints

Even cuter, if that's possible.

Sorry, it's just that we didn't get to do this last year, and it's a lot of fun. Babies! So awesome until they start growing horns and having sex!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

we have two baby goats! now with pictures!

Hands down, this is the coolest thing about spring. So much so, in fact, that the other parts of spring rock back and forth, chanting, "Not good enough . . . never good enough . . ."

I've noticed that I tend to over-parent with my goats. They just look so floppy and dead when they're first born that it's easy to get freaked out, which does nobody any good. So I took some deep breaths before I went into the goat pen, because I could hear that Edna was tripping a little. It's her first time, and she was understandably spooked. I feel bad I wasn't there to console her in her time of need. I am a sucky midwife, but luckily goats are very self-sufficient, and kid really easily (whereas sheep are just looking for a reason to die, so I hear).
Our magic neighbors to whom Edna really belongs now came over and helped me with the navel tying, cutting and dipping, and ear splinting. You wouldn't believe how much easier it is to splint floppy sock ears when you have someone to hand you tape. They don't always need their ears splinted, but if they come out folded you have to get on it right away before they dry, or their ears are folded forever and they look really stupid.
They are a black boy and a brown girl, and more gorgeous they could not be. After we got done with the maintenance we tried to get the babies to nurse, but they were just not into it, and their bellies felt full, so I left them alone for a bit. When I came out a couple of hours later I was able to get the girl to eat a little, and the boy peed, so I knew he'd gotten something. Seriously, is there anyone more obsessed about bladder and bowel voiding than a new parent? Possibly an old person. But you don't realize until you are in charge of living critters (furry and nonfurry) how much you can learn from waste.
The girl may have imprinted on me a little bit. Whoops. Hope I didn't break her like those people did to that chimp.
Like how I keep it real, do you? That's a glob of placenta back behind Edna. She nibbles on it now and then. Shut up, you're not better than her.
One of the neat jobs a goat mom gets to do is lick her babies' bottoms all the time to make sure they don't get pasted shut with poop. Finola was a champ at this.
Their names, as given by the magic neighbors' 12-year-old son, are Coconut and Eclipse. Eclipse looks so much like his Grandpa Bobcat--I wonder if he'll grow up to be as gentle and handsome?

One down and one to go. Traci looks miserable.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

just to be clear . . .

It makes me kind of sad that Jamie Oliver was ragging on pizza served for breakfast, though. One of the chief pleasures of my college years was eating cold pizza for breakfast. Or steak! And he's from England, anyway, so what does he know about pizza? Uh, get back to me when you guys aren't using canned corn as a topping, buddy.

revolting food

This Jamie Oliver show is killing me, it's so hilarious. It's heavy-handed and preachy and won't-somebody-think-of-the-children, and his emotional breakdown about following his heart was terrific! But it does a good job of highlighting what a mess we're in. I'm looking forward to watching some more of it and hopefully seeing people take charge.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

are you feeling a little eleven o'clockish? is it time for a little something?

You're probably all pretty excited to read about this, since bees are the new chickens.

We popped in for a minute yesterday to experience the moist, sticky heat that is honey processing. IT WAS ALL I DREAMED AND MORE. I felt like I was in a Mr. Rogers video. I always hated how Mr. Rogers never shared the stuff he got from the places he went--just where in the world does he think he gets off? He's like Andy's vermin colleagues he met while he was living in the pit on Parks and Recreation! I told Mrs. Magic Neighbor that bees are my next step toward crazy, and she asked if that meant they were already crazy. Verbal backpedaling, the good kind of crazy, etc. But they are the good kind of crazy--the kind that you know to whose house you'll be headed during the next natural disaster (I have it on good authority that they stockpile dark chocolate).

First they put the frames under a heat lamp with a fan blowing, to help soften the honey and make it easier to extract. If you get them too close to the heat or leave them too long it melts too much of the wax and causes problems. Next they take their electric slicey knife thingy and slice the caps off the sheets of wax comb, so the honey will be able to come out.
Look how pretty and shiny all that honey is!
Then the frames go into the extractor (three at a time in this particular doohickey), and you turn it at about one turn per second, and you can watch as the strings of honey go flying out of the comb onto the walls of the extractor. I'm concentrating so hard in this picture I have pooface, which is why I chose this photo. You're welcome.
Then you open the spigot at the bottom and the honey comes glub-glubbing out into a bucket capped with a screen, to filter out any stray wax pieces.
Once it's screened you decant it into jars and admire its amber loveliness. ADMIRE THE AMBER LOVELINESS, I SAID.
Remember what I said about not leaving the frame too close to the heat? That's what happened to this frame, so they gave it to us to take home and eat. You just eat it with your fingers, or a spoon if you're uppity, and either swallow the little pieces of wax or spit them out when you've eaten the honey. It is really, really delicious. They also gave us some wild honeycomb.
The wild honey is on the left, the domesticated honey is on the right. The wild honey tastes a little spicier, and some bites have almost a smokey taste. They are both incredible and I think I have eaten about two pounds of honey since yesterday.
Something fascinating I learned: the frames come with a screen imprinted on both sides with a wax honeycomb pattern, so the bees will build their comb in the correct orientation. If the screen gets bent, or the wax gets mooshed, or if for any reason the bees are skeeved out by it, they will just build their comb all willy-nilly, and that makes it wicked hard to work with. We saw a frame like that, but I'm a cottonheaded ninnymuggins and didn't take a picture. This batch of bees was not as docile and compliant as their first batch, and had started building the comb across and sideways, with little tunnels and whatnot. Silly autonomous bees.

Something else I learned: when it gets below about 10*F, the bees stop doing anything and will huddle all together in the bottom of the hive. Even if they're right next to some honey they won't move over to eat it, and they will starve to death. One would assume that the bees in the center of the bee clump will stay warmer and survive? And repopulate? I don't know. Bees are still beyond my ken.

Wanna see a video? Here you go:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

a thought

A rookie mistake that a lot of evil people make is doing their own stabbing/waterhole poisoning/regicide.

This morning we had amaranth for breakfast. I was initially suspicious, having been burned by the very aggressive savory taste of teff, but amaranth is not so bad. It's for introducing more fiber into Pinga's diet, since she's currently more into storage than dispersal.

Tomorrow we're going to help our magic neighbors process their honey. I hope they let us keep a jar of it, but I don't dare ask.

what I love most about rivers is you can't step in the same river twice

Yesterday when I gave blood the girl stuck the needle into my arm and totally missed my vein. So she started poking the needle hither and yon inside my arm, and I could see it moving around under my skin while she searched for my vein. It was pretty grody. But then she won and I filled the bag in about five minutes, so there. I drank a bottle of water before I donated, and I think it made a difference. The lady behind me almost passed out, and she hadn't even given enough blood that they could use it. They didn't compare her unfavorably to me, at least out loud, but I bet they were thinking it.

Here is the salad we ate for dinner yesterday:
It looks like bridal shower food (my fault), and up until and including yesterday, if I had been served it at a bridal shower I would have groaned and made disparaging remarks. But I'm determined to learn to like beets, and I had apples and dill and shallots, so there you go. It actually wasn't terrible. I was able to eat my entire helping without gagging once (it's a beet thing). Some people might even really like it. Roasted beets, tart apples, celery, shallots, dill, sweet mustard, olive oil, balsamic and cider vinegar, salt and pepper. The recipe I used came from the clever and much fancier than me people at Choosy Beggars. They're good with food.

Adventures in bread, most of which include eggs, because of the chickens:

challah with two egg washes

baguette--the non-epigastric hernia one

challah with one egg wash

I know challah is old news and everything, and you're like, "Yes, Layne, you make challah sometimes. So what?" But it's so pretty that I can't help but take pictures of it! It's one of those things that are disproportionately impressive for the amount of work you do. Plus--six strands? It's the kewlest! It looks like a caterpillar, and if there's anything I love more than imagining I'm eating larvae, I don't want to know about it.

In closing, remember that part in The Lion King where Simba and Nala are reunited, and during Can You Feel the Love Tonight, there's this part where they're rolling around in the grass and looking at each other with mating eyes, but they're face to face? Whatever. I've seen cats, and that's not how they do it. Hollywood is so out of touch.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

baba capra status report for march 17, 2010

First of all, you should be pronouncing it "dikkity-ten," not "two-thousand-ten" or "twenty-ten." Duh. You would know this if you repeatedly watched old Simpsons episodes like you're supposed to.

House: no current projects. I don't think I ever posted a picture of my room, but it looks good. Still waiting on the artwork. I don't want to spoil the surprise, but there is a pending picture of a sitting elephant.

Yard: it can wait. Dreading it.

Chickens: all practically barebacked, because the rooster is an eager and vigorous lover. He is none the worse for being kicked last night, except hopefully humbler. Did you know there are breeding saddles for hens, so their feathers don't get all pulled out when the rooster is getting his purchase on their backs? We're getting about six eggs a day, and it will probably double once the days lengthen a bit. Their coop needs cleaning, because fifteen chickens poop more than three chickens. Biology math! It's magic.

Goats: are loving the warm weather. They've been basking in the sun with their distended bellies looking fit to burst. Traci has bagged up, and good news! Both of her teats appear to be the same size, at least for now. I'm not sure why, because usually she has one phenomenal cosmic teat and one itty-bitty teat, which, if you were wondering, makes her a real chore to milk. As in, I have to fold the one teat around my thumb in order to close it off and get the milk out. Have I mentioned the minuscule orifices yet? Because she has those, too. Also her udder is so poorly attached that she needs a sports bra, because when she gets on the milking stand she scrapes her udder, and I'm afraid she might step on it. You know when you have a really long skirt and you're going up the stairs and you accidentally step on your hem and then you tear a hole/pull off your skirt and everyone laughs at you? Like that, except add to it bleeding and infection and euthanasia.

Garden: peas planted! Seedlings being not dead! One month until I plant my beets! The soil is rich and dark! Exciting stuff. I even put stakes in the ground and made a straight row. The string got in the manure and is now a big clump of poopy cotton string, which is going to be the name of my all-girl rock band.

Hay field: groan. This is a real headache. Alfalfa needs a lot of phosphorous, according to my uncle Kenny and the USU Extension agent. Organic fertilizer options are manure, compost, rock phosphate, and bone meal. Since we have used no fertilizer or pesticide on the field in the time we've lived here, I think we're almost to the point of being able to be certified organic, for what it's worth (nothing). After I talked to my uncle he told my dad I had called about organic farming, which I think you'll agree is a clear violation of farmer/client privilege. But I think everybody has come to terms with the fact that I'm an incompetent weirdo, and it doesn't really bother them. Then a guy told John in church on Sunday, "You realize fertilizer is organic, right? They mine it from the ground and process it, it's not like pesticide." I don't even want to get into that, but I think you already know how I feel about divorcing a nutrient from its natural source.

Happy St. Pat's! Eat something green.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

maybe he should talk to the last rooster who pecked one of my kids

John, calling from the back door: "Honey, the rooster just attacked [Pinga]."
Me: "Is she all right?"
John: "Yeah, but she's kind of sad, and I think she's poopy. Also, I may have kicked the rooster halfway across the yard."

Monday, March 15, 2010

product may stay: avon supershock mascara

When I was younger I rarely wore makeup. Call it a healthy self-image, call it hubris, call it sloth; I didn't like spending the time to put it on, and I looked fine without it. But then came the ravages of age and motherhood, and I find myself in the Dagobah personal time oasis between the Tatooine starvation of infants/toddlers and the Alderaan impending doom of teenagers/young adults. And like Yoda, I find that I need a little help making myself look foxy.

I have an Avon lady, as you do, because they are everywhere. I ordinarily just buy those round jars of perfumed lotion when they're on sale, but on a whim I decided to try some mascara. This Supershock stuff is sort of impressive, in that it really does make your eyelashes look voluminous and plentiful. I am quite fond of it. Two minor complaints: initially it feels stickier than other mascaras, and it doesn't seem to last quite as long--it starts getting a little flaky by the end of the day if you put it on in the morning. But those hurdles are easily overcome. And it makes me look foxy, which I like. Product may stay.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

his beard was pretty great, too

Sad about Merlin Olsen. He was a stand-up guy. Remember that episode of Little House where his wife dies when Chachi burns down the blind school? Man.

He was Logan's favorite son and I've been ice skating at his park. Sniff.

some of them are built so the front doesn't fall off at all

It's okay about the many barfings last night from Pinga. It's okay because this morning we have something to take our minds off of it. Like this: the fridge door fell off. The basement fridge, so instead of the important on-deck groceries we merely lost the reserve groceries (those may be inaccurate baseball metaphors or similes or whatever, but I'ms a little frazzled right now and baseball is a lame sport anyway, you know it's true, and it doesn't even encourage physical fitness, really, so what purpose is there for it and while I'm at it, shut up golf, [note to self: apologize for golf comment the next time I see Taylor]).

The reserve groceries are these:
clementines (salvageable)
cheese (salvageable)
peanuts (salvageable)
pecans (salvageable)
lard (salvageable)
6 gallons/$24 dollars' worth of milk (probably not salvageable, we'll see)

So if anybody wants ricotta/mozzarella/yogurt today, you know where to find it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

you stay classy, murderers

Feel like a bad parent? Heck, I do. I am, sometimes. Here. Go feel simultaneously reassured and indicted.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

spreading sunshine, by which I mean manure

The neighbor who manages our hay field talked to John in church on Sunday, and wondered if it would be all right if he fertilized it to get better yields this year.


I hate this part. The part where someone who's been farming since before I was born wants to do something that has always worked, and I say, "Dur, let's not do that because I saw on the teevee that it's bad. Also: dur."

So we have some options.
1. Option the first, spread manure.
a. Pro: It doesn't make the fish and birds cry.
b. Con: We don't have a manure spreader or vast quantities of manure.
c. Pro: We could probably find someone with a spreader and more manure than we could ever want fairly easily.
d. Con: That someone is probably a little busy doing his own farming.

2. Option the second, rotate with a different crop like wheat, oats, or corn.
a. Pro: When we replant it in alfalfa it will be much more healthy and productive.
b. Con: To completely kill the alfalfa in order to rotate, people say we have to Roundup the field first.
c. Con: If that's true, no thanks.
d. Con: Buying that much new seed sounds expensive to me.
e. Con: Who is going to do the killing and replanting?
f. Con: Who is going to harvest the wheat? I know the good-for-nothing pig and duck aren't going to help.

3. Option the third, start a baby Polyface farm.
a. Pro: A completely sustainable and responsible way to manage our land.
b. Pro: A farm that could support our entire family and then some.
c. Con: Is grass farming possible in our climate?
d. Pro: This is my dream.
e. Con: It is a lot of work.
f. Con: I don't like work.

Right now the manure solution is in the lead, but I think I'll get Joel Salatin's book all the same. Baby steps to agricultural freedom.

Speaking of which, last night I planted some seeds sent to me by the lovely, talented, and seditious All8 (she saves her own seed, the recalcitrant!). This is why the internets are awesome. Can you believe my luck? I am particularly anticipating the Sungold Selects. And did you notice her handwriting? It is beautiful and neat, the kind you don't see anymore. Kids today with their txtng, harrumph.

Monday, March 8, 2010

of tomatoes and pooh

What I'm doing today is going to the nearest Associated Foods store and buying a mess of canned goods at their case lot sale. And by "mess" I mean "some diced tomatoes and maybe other things that strike my fancy."

I used my last can of diced tomatoes the other day, and I know I should have bottles and bottles of canned tomatoes downstairs in the fruit room, but I don't. I planted the tomato plants too close to each other last year, so they weren't able to get the light they needed. Be ye not so foolish! This year will be different. This year I will can some of my own tomatoes, but I'm telling you right now that I'm still going to buy cases of diced in juice, as I have neither the time nor the desire to preserve all of our food. I do have my primary residence in Crazy, but I like to keep a summer home in Sane. Ah, who am I kidding? I have years of work ahead of me before I can be certified crazy. I don't home-school, I use conventional medicine fairly frequently, I don't have guns OR ammunition to protect my food storage from starving marauders of nefarious intent . . . it's like I'm not even trying!

A while ago I bought some Muir Glen diced tomatoes, and last week when I used them I did a blind taste test of Kroger vs. Muir Glen, and it's true, Muir Glen tastes more like a summer tomato and less like a handful of dirty coins. Bam! There's some knowledge dropped on you.

Last night on our way to and from Salt Lake we read "In Which Kanga and Baby Roo Come to the Forest, and Piglet Has a Bath" and "In Which a House Is Built at Pooh Corner for Eeyore," from Winnie-the-Pooh and The House At Pooh Corner. I'd tried reading Pooh to my children before, but the humor was totally lost on them, so it was rewarding to hear them giggle at Rabbit's list of the Plan to Capture Baby Roo, and Eeyore saying that when people have quite finished taking a person's house there are sometimes one or two bits left over that they're quite happy to have the person take back again.

In sum: go buy some canned goods for The Rapture, or failing that, The Earthquake For Which We Are Due (Utah and California Residents Only). Then read a funny book to your kids. But I don't want to see any of you buying fifty cans of corn, because that's nuts. Who would do that?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

exciting new series

Musicals I hate for their gross reinforcement of outdated gender stereotypes, Part 1:
My Fair Lady

Songs I don't ever need to hear again, Part 1:
Sweet Home Alabama, Lynrd Skynrd
Sultans of Swing, Dire Straits

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

and there was this snake wearing a vest . . .

Last night I dreamed that my family was staying in a hotel, and a fire started on the fourth floor. While we were waiting for the fire department the Terminators showed up, and one of them looked like Jim Halpert. Also the hotel turned into a mental hospital.

Translation: Oreo truffles are not good for the body or the belly.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I love your friends, they're all so arty

Firstly: I've assigned myself fifteen lashes because I wanted to try out a Bountiful Baskets Week A, whatever the crap that is, and their Week A signups are on different days than their Week B signups, so I missed out. Some complaints I have about their site:

1. No explanation of what the difference is between a Week A and a Week B.
2. No mention of the fact that you might want to bring your own basket to cart home your stuff.
3. Their web design is sort of scrapbooky and in ugly colors.

But the produce was of such incredible quality, and the whole process so relatively painless that I will not quibble. If any of you are curious about this new beastie, fear not. I will figure it out and report back to you, my eating readers.

Secondly: do you sometimes want some nice, chewy bread with a thick crust, much like the no-knead bread, but you forgot to set it out the night before? Or maybe on the night before you thought, "Look, I am tired. I don't have time to stir together FOUR ingredients." I know that's what I sometimes think. That's why I'm thankful for our friend Tipsy Baker. Some of you may read her blog as obsessively as I do, so you will have already heard of this bread. But for the rest of you, here you go. You're welcome.

Moro Bread
from Moro, via Tipsy Baker

Mix together in a small bowl and let sit for a few minutes:
125 mL of tepid water (about halfway between 1/2 and 2/3 C)
rounded teaspoon of yeast

Mix together in the bowl of a stand mixer until smooth and elastic:
3 C water*
2-3 C wheat flour
5-6 C white flour (you should have around 8 C total flour)**
1 T kosher salt
yeast water

seeds of your choice (when I do add seeds, I use 2 T each of pumpkin and sunflower, 1 T each of flax, sesame, teff and poppyseed)

This should be almost like a thick pancake batter in consistency--far too wet to handle. Oil 2 bread pans well and ease the dough into the pans with a rubber spatula. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let raise for 3-5 hours, or until double. Preheat oven to 450*. Bake at 450* for 25-40 minutes, then remove loaves from the pans and bake directly on the rack for 10-15 minutes more.

*Replace some of the water with whey, yogurt, kefir, or sour cream for a more robust flavor. Otherwise it can be sort of bland.
**Be careful with the flour. The original recipe goes by weight, not volume, so sometimes 8 cups is going to be WAY too much. Hold out a cup or two just in case, or just add more liquid (which is what I did--I ended up with almost a cup of extra liquid once).

Thirdly: right now there is a discussion going on over at Tipsy's blog. She is currently cooking her way through the Pioneer Woman's cookbook, and it has ignited a crapstorm (appetizing image, that) about PW's particular brand of cooking. Some of the comments have raised my hackles, for reasons that are obvious to long-term readers of this blog. Here is an excerpt from an email that I was going to send to Tipsy, but I wanted to be off-putting to a larger group of people, so I'm giving it to you instead:

So, the canned soup casserole. I don't know why so many people like those, but they certainly do. I hated when people would bring us meals when my mom was having a baby, because they would invariably bring some nightmare concoction with canned soup and tater tots and green beans in it. Bleh. There is one I had about five or six years ago that has pasta and chicken and cream cheese and canned soup and an Italian dressing packet and a crap-ton of butter in it that I could eat an entire crock pot of, but most of them are horrifying. Did [your son] like it? Because The Hulk would rather die than take a bite of a multi-texture sauce and pasta dish. So sad. He misses out on so much.

And I vigorously dispute the idea that one must choose EITHER canned soup OR good conversation, or that homestyle cooking must consist of value-added (such a dissonant term!) packaged ingredients.

My children stick their noses up at a good many of the foods, I cook, it's true. But that's because they're kids, whose mission it is to make their parents despair. The stuff they love is made the same way as the stuff they hate: without plastic. And this Thing I Do is not to turn my family into foodier-than-thou snobs. It's to teach them that real tastes better than fake, and that a good meal, like a good life, requires work. Also that we're better than everyone, and will be chosen first to ascend to the Star Chamber when the Day of Enlightenment arrives.

But we're not perfect, and convenience foods are not going to bring about the destruction of the entire human species (yet). And I should probably wash my dishes before I start my Baba Capra Discourses: The Value of Work lecture series.

Fourthly: I want to turn my front lawn into a mixed flower/vegetable garden. I think it would be cool and LESS TO MOW.