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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

whoops

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

antisocial

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.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

everybody plays the fool sometimes

A blemish that I have acquired on my chin (despite the fact that I am a grown woman in her thirties, so why do I suddenly need acne medication?) has given rise to this important question:

If you had to choose the placement of a hairy mole, like a seriously hairy, Nanny McPhee-type mole, where would you put it? It will be hazelnut-sized, at minimum. Death is not an option.
1. chin
2. nose
3. forehead (Aaron Neville)
4. cheek (John Boy)

It's a toughie. Keep in mind that the fact that it is a hairy mole adds many degrees of difficulty (I think that's what I've heard) to the removal of same. Something about pores and hair follicles, maybe?

I think I'd go with chin and wear one of those belly-dancer face scarves to obscure it. But even thinking about it makes me break into a nervous sweat, and we all know that nervous sweat is the stinkiest. So now I have a hairy mole and I stink! I'll never be able to keep a man.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

into the great wide open

Man, it has been a while since I nagged or lectured you guys. It makes me feel all itchy and agitated. I could tell you about how I am the new Irrigation Mayor of our house, or about the giant disaster that is my garden, or about my chickens who are too stupid to learn that grasshoppers are a food source. I could tell you about the gorgeous new baby goats we got (technically we merely transported them), one of whom loves me as much as I love him (a lot), or about the delightful people in the campground Monday night who were swearing at each other about how their dogs (two chihuahuas, of course) need leashes and brush your damn teeth and show some respect, little boy. I could tell you lots of things. But here's this tip instead: pick the right tool for the job.

What I mean, more specifically, is to be careful which measuring stick you use to gauge your success as a human being. It may be a perfectly serviceable measuring stick. It may be a favorite of your parents, or your sister, or your neighbor, or your friend, or Madonna, but that doesn't mean it will work for you. And if you use the wrong one it will ruin your life. This is a lesson I have to be taught over and over again, and it goes hand-in-hand with another lesson I keep forgetting, which is this: that person whose approval you want most and can't ever seem to win probably doesn't deserve your efforts.

If the stick you're using keeps telling you there's something wrong with you or your kids or your house, well, unless that stick fell right from heaven into your hand, then get rid of it. Get a different stick, because that stick sucks. And if everybody else in your life thinks you're great, but there's that one holdout who thinks you're a screw-up, despite all the good you do, well, that's Lucille Bluth and she can cram it with walnuts.

I say this because I spent yesterday doing almost everything right, and at the end of the day I cried because I was so depressed. So, a hearty Bronx cheer to that.

Anybody who really is doing a crappy job or being a crappy person can disregard my advice.

Monday, August 2, 2010

I've only changed the entire pastry industry, is all

Too bad for all you naysayers, because remember the layered pie dream? LO, 'TWAS TOTALLY ACHIEVED. Behold, the play-by-play (these are always way boring, and yet, here we are):

I made the dough the night before--my own part butter/part lard recipe; I'm way creative and into science stuff. I was resigned to making a slab pie, which has substantial merits of its own, but in thinking about the nature of pie decided that since pies don't stick to the plate they could easily be unmolded, which is half the battle. So I just made two berry pies and put them in cake pans. Crafty!
I brush them with cream and sprinkle sugar on the top. It's a trick I learned from that cookie lady who hates me.
I was very disappointed that the one pie had already burst its seams. That did not bode well for its stackability.

I cooled them for many hours while I went to lunch at the Tandoori Oven with Heidi (thanks, Heidi!) and shopping. Then the time came to unmold and stack. It was pretty intense.

You can see by my pooface that I was concentrating very hard. I also think you should applaud my moxie for posting such an unattractive photo of myself.
Then it was time for the second layer, which is where the extreme likelihood of cow-pieness came into play.
But I unmolded it, flipped it onto a fairly flat plate, and slid it onto the other layer with no harm or accident, and it didn't collapse under its own weight or anything. Difficulty level: very high, probably. The finished product was everything I hoped it would be, at least appearance-wise.

Cutting it was where John was sure it was all going to smoosh into a pile of goo, but I am a wily slicer with very sharp knives.
See how beautiful it is? It just tasted like a pie, so I don't know if it's something that would have to be repeated, except I like the taste of pie, and the appearance of cake. I feel very validated.

Thanks for sharing this event with me. Now I'm off to start irrigating.