Sunday, October 19, 2014

A sentimental fool with cake.

I was catching up on one of my favorite blogs Rosie little things, and became awash in sentimentality, seeing all the tiny, beautiful details prepared for a little girl's 2nd birthday party, made my heart hurt. 

I think of all of the lovely, homely things I made for my children before they became giants, yearning for plastic objects and cold hard cash. 

All the knit animals and felted crowns and pirate vests and fairy skirts and grand capes and embroidered pillowslips, and fanciful Halloween costumes free of zombies and ghouls.

And cake. 

Cake and cake and cake.  
















Saturday, October 18, 2014

We were gifted a giant box and a whole bag of produce, from the winery/farm of a friend of a friend.  If I had any decency at all I would can up a few pints of pickled beets, but let's face the facts; I am just not that good.  I hope to give a great deal of the beets away- there is a limit to how much of a good thing anyone can deal with.  There are also oodles of peppers, mostly jalapenos, but a few other varieties.  An embarrassment of riches.

I'm making a vegetarian pozole, to get rid of some of the tomatoes and peppers.  Rolf is very fond of hominy, which I personally detest, but I am a giver, what can I say?

And from the other side of the world we have beets and beetgreens with dill.

Moonshadow is supervising my efforts

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

with all that free time

Mujadara- Lebanese rice, lentil, caramelized onion, and in this case 
chanterelle mushrooms, foraged by Rolf and Freyja! 

and for the less adventurous among us...

I put out the Halloween decorations and Moonshadow supervised.  She said I did a so/so job.



White beans, brown rice, Sunday

A Monday all to myself, in the sun, with Ms. Rosie, to keep me warm


What in god's name have I gone and done?
So I quit my job. 

I totally did. 

It was a really hard thing to do and possibly quite foolish.

Mark said "you are more important to me than money". 

Which is why I keep him around and don't punch him in the face when I sometimes feel like it. 

I will be totally fine, but I am pretty sad and a little unmoored, and curious if I will ever feel settled again. 

I miss the children and I miss people needing my help, but I need to be less worried and nervous. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Salty





You need to buy salt next time you go to the store.

Is what Mark said.

We have a lot of salt, a whole bag of salt, what do you mean?

Is what I said. 

I don't want weird salt. I don't want shitty foreign salt in a burlap bag!

Is what he said. 

You mean the Ukrainian salt? The sea salt?  Which one is weird.

Is what I said, (but I knew exactly what he meant).

I am a staunch defender of the weird salt, my commie loving heart swells each time I fill the salt cellar, each time I see it sitting in the cupboard looking homely and plain, filled with clumps. 

The austerity of that salt, blesses my heart. 

I ignore it's short comings.

I ignore it's humble brown package.

I want American salt! I want MORTON'S salt, in a cylindrical box, with a metal flip top! 
That Ukrainian salt tastes weird, and the sea salt is too salty!

He what he said.

Now you are just being silly! 

Was my reply. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

I bought this absurd floral dress on a whim.  Freyja says she would wear it, if it were sleeveless and in her size.  I might just wear it every day, just because.

I vacuumed this guy up the other day, and felt immediately terrible, which resulted in digging around in  a full vacuum bag.  Little did I know it was foreshadowing something similar to happen to Ripley. 

As we were preparing a dinner party for 12 friends, Rolf and I heard dog screams.  We ignored it for a while, because sometimes Ripley is too lazy to walk into the next room and howls for transportation.  Eventually we discovered that he had fallen to a hole in the back yard Rolf and Freyja had dug, for a project, they never finished. 


I made a cocktail out of the elderberry syrup I made from our berries.  It turned out well, with the addition of rosemary, lemon and cherries.

We made  Käsespätzle for dinner, but Rolf disproved  of my onions, which is just fine because I disprove of his, so there!  For the past two years or so he has been into making these dry, burned onions, which he never did in the past.   In the past he made them exactly like I made them here, jammy, caramelized and unctuous.  His noodles were also a bit tough, which I attribute to him adding too many eggs, even when I said "you are adding too many eggs!" HA!

No one compleained about either the tough noodles, or the soggy onions though. 

A friend brought us a great deal of tomatoes, earlier in the week, so we had another traditional accompaniment, tomato  salad, which was fantastic.

I bought this fantastic French bowl at Goodwill, and noticed today that it is cracked.  I am using it for apples, as I am not ready to part with it just yet. 


We went to the Lents Farmer's Market today, mostly for tamales, but Freyja wanted radishes and peppers too, so we have a lot now. I am crazy about black radishes, I love how they look in a salad.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

a lovely fried egg

From the moment I opened the door, I knew things weren't good, Freyja was curled up on the sofa, and her spelling list was crumpled up next to her on the coffee table. 

My mother was in the kitchen.

They walked home from school together my mother, very generously volunteers in Freyja's classroom on Thursday. 

Like really, VOLUNTEERS, using her teaching chops to assist the teacher with testing and the challenging children, for the whole day. 

Freyja struggles with traditional school and rote learning. 

Spelling and math facts are hard for her. 

They were hard for me. 

Very hard; I hated school, despite being an early and strong reader. 

Despite being talented and gifted. 

My mother is academically gifted in a different way than I was. 

She is an excellent speller, and good at math. 

She is a successful student. 

I was always c r e a t i v e, and that is not a very good thing, unless you are rich.

So when I walked into the scene in my livingroom this afternoon, I knew exactly what was going on. 

My mother was attempting to practice spelling and Freyja was shutting down.  Her shutting down looks quit different from my shutting down looked like at that age. 

I was a crier.

A crumpler.

A fall aparter.

Freyja snarls, argues and covers her ears.  She is way tougher than I ever was, possibly than I ever will be. 

Bullheaded.

When my mother left for home, I unwound Freyja from the sofa, after some halfhearted shouting, which she didn't really mean. 

I looked in her lunch box, and discovered that it was full. 

Untouched.

Both of my children take after their father, they fall apart when they are hungry. 

I would have to starve for days before I had that type of reaction, but they flip their wigs after a couple of hours. 

It is a constant, annoying battle to keep the three of them fueled up.  

I asked if she would like an egg.  She is a terribly picky eater and our pantry options were limited.


 Would you like an egg? How about one perfectly lovely egg and a slice of white toast?

 Yes.

Would you like it scrambled, or fried? 

Fried... Is fried the kind with the white all around, and the yolk, soft in the center?

Yes. Would you like it with cheese?

No.

Would you like it fried inside a cutout of bread? 

No, just fried, with a slice of toast, no butter, and separate.

So I made one perfect over easy egg, and a side of toast, on separate plates, and then another, and when she was finished, she practiced her spelling with Onkel and Maxwell. 

It was one of those parenting wins, you have every once in a blue moon. A moment that could have easily gone the other direction.







Thursday, September 18, 2014

This has not been a good week of meals for my family.

Out of the blue, I have found myself preparing casseroles. 

One pan mishmashed, mixed ups of grain, protein, vegetable, bound together with a sauce.

I have no idea where this is coming from. 

I am a good, creative and skilled cook, who typically takes pride in preparing, if not lavish, at least well coordinated and executed meals.

It has been as if I hopped into a time machine and returned to the culinary horrors of my own childhood, a place fueled  by French sliced frozen green beans and  Rice-a-Roni.

I know what drives a loving mother and wife to dump a number of things into a skillet and turn the knob. 



BEING TIRED.

That is what.

I started  helping with cooking family meals in 5th grade, encouraged by Millie Delker, our German babysitter, who lived in a little falling down house in the little falling down town we lived in until I was 10, Millie drank wine out of a tea cup in the middle of the day and let me stay home from school and help her with her sewing business. 

I liked cooking, I liked to help my mother with housework, they were things I was good at. 

I only really like to do things I am good at. 

That much has remained the same.

By Jr. High I was an insufferable quiche and moussaka baking twit. 

Obsessed with French cooking and ethnic food. 

I made my first baked Alaska in 7th grade.  It was chocolate, and my mother bought me a pastry bag, to pipe the meringue on, so it would look fancy.

I wasn't close to my mother, as a child, and I judged her harshly, for the crock-pot soup, the Hamburger Helper and other boxes and long cooked meals favored by working mothers of the time.

I adored and was adored by my grandmother, who wore an apron, and darned socks, fried chicken, baked biscuits and cobblers, and had tea parties.

My mother was thin, smoked Tareytons seated on the sofa, with her legs tucked under her, a novel in her hand- a picky, uninterested eater.  She would eat a Twinkie,or a Heath Bar, over the course of several days, slicing off a bite at a time with a knife, once in a blue moon, otherwise I never saw her eat sweets.


I would chastise her and my brother for eating dinner on the sofa, in front of the tv, and she would say
"you are outnumbered sister!" 

HA! 

I longed for a housewife mother, a real mother, not the youthful, exuberant, theatrical, loud mother that I had.

My mother cooked at a level that I approved of as a child, once a year, on Thanksgiving

She made the best stuffing in the whole world, (which we called dressing), milk gravy, rolls, Waldorf salad,she got up at 6:00am to bake a giant turkey that would barely fit in the oven, with all the racks removed. 

She made her hideous macaroni salad, which only she liked, and her baked beans, which are still the best I have ever had, and corn bread.

She made tiny pickled beets and arranged a cut-glass relish tray with radishes and black olives. 

She minced celery into perfect and uniform U shapes.

She stuffed celery with cream cheese.

She boiled, then sauteed in butter, yellow sweet potatoes (because my grandfather said that "yams are hog feed")

She peeled a whole bag of potatoes, and mashed them, cigarette dangling, Gilbert and Sullivan egging her on. 

She would pour heavy cream into a pint jar and my brother and I would shake it until it turned to a round, glistening, glob of fresh butter. 

My father cooked. 

He also made economical food, but his fare was less revolting to me than my mother's soups (to this day, if you don't watch her like a hawk, she will try to sneak old lettuce into the pot!).

I remember eating tacos with my father, with Resers Guacamole, which in the mid 70's seems very exotic. 

In Jr High, we moved into a  beautiful, ramshackle house in a fancy neighborhood, with a man that cooked.  I learned a great deal of technique, from him.

When I was 16 I began dating a boy that came from a new agey, vegetarian family.  I expanded both my technique and my horizons exponentially in the two years we dated. I ate cilantro and felafel and brown rice. I ate beans that were not brown and not baked for the first time. 

Tonight I put rice, egg, frozen green beans and soy sauce in a pan and served it to my family, like it was the most ordinary thing in the world. 

I may call my mother later.