Sunday, February 28, 2010

kale, chard and baba au rhum

We made a baba today...

I don't usually feel comfortable with yeasted doughs, but Rolf is good with them so I thought why not?

I did a hybrid of Martha & Julia's recipes, and left out most of the rum, because the kids were going to eat it.  I also made some fabulous kale, chard and spinach with ginger for myself, since no one else in the house would touch it!

Mark is out of town, so I am letting the kids have cake and fruit for dinner.

Both children had playdates today.  Freyja and her friend picked me flowers, and made me pictures, so the house is extra decorated tonight.

In the end we wound up overcooking the blasted thing, but it tastes good anyway.  

Cest La Vie! 

Rude Boy

I dug this old record out recently, and am really enjoying it, plus it is bouncy enough to entertain the five year old.
I remember hearing The Specials the first time in Jr. High, from my step sister (who had remarkably good taste in music, but she did go to private school, so perhaps was influenced by a better class of people?) then later from my boyfriend Leo, who also had excellent taste in music. 

I was trying to get Maxwell excited about the whole "rock against racism" angle on the record, but he was not as excited as me.  
My stories about kids slam dancing and an all ages video game club called the blue kangaroo downtown was more entertaining. 

I saw the Specials, The English Beat and the Toasters at a big ska festival concert in the mid 90's and they sounded good, but I felt absurdly old to be there. 

Friday, February 26, 2010

A bad hair day

I got a terrible haircut yesterday.  
What made it even worse, was the hairdresser's insistence on using one of those straightening irons.  
I left the place looking like a drowned rat.  
I have a really big face, that requires fluffy hair, not sleek, glossy limp hair.  
I thought getting a haircut would help me get over the fact that my skin has, at age 42 decided to go to hell in a handbasket.  Now I just have shitty skin AND hair- excellent, for the self esteem.

I knew getting a haircut without a lot of forethought was a poor idea.  I totally knew it!  

I rarely do anything spontaneously, and on the rare occasions I do, it has usually turned out badly. 

I spent the morning on a snipe hunt.  Driving around Beaverton looking for an electronics supply store, that my friend John thought would have the housing for the broken wire that we need to repair our bathroom fan.  

The bathroom fan has been a big thorn in our side for years.  

It works for a while then breaks, which is a huge problem since the bathroom has no ventilation, and consequently the paint is now peeling and looks hideous, and eventually the lack of ventilation will cause the whole house to fall down.  OK, that is an exaggeration, but it will surely cause some big problems in the bathroom, if it doesn't get fixed soon.

We have fixed the bloody thing over and over, only to have it poop out again and again.  

Like everything in this house, the fan is old, and was installed by a do-it-yourselfer, in a haphazard, and half assed manner, that makes fixing it a million times more difficult than it should be.

The fan is smaller than the fans they make these days, which means that if we wanted to say, put a brand spanking new fan in, it would require cutting a bigger hole in the side of the house, which is doable, but the place where the tiny fan resides is smack in the middle of a place that you should not go around hacking up, lest the whole house fall down, again, an exaggeration, but not by much.

Our dear friend John has been helping us along in this whole saga.  

John is both a chemist and an engineer, one of those obscenely over  educated people you hear about, that has mad skills, that rival Macgyver.  

John has repaired the motor in the old fan over and over, but this time it was totally dead, so he took the motor out of a new fan and welded it into the housing of the old fan to make it fit.  

It was all a go in his workshop, but when he plugged the frankenfan into the wall mounting, it wouldn't go.  
A little nosing around unvieled rusted and corooded wiring, that basically turned to dust in his hand.  So he and Rolf headed out to Home Depot to by a new plug in wire thingy, and came back empty handed because the stupid thing is so old they no longer make them, but someone thought that 
"if anyone in Oregon had them, Sylvan Electronics will!"

So I set off of my wild goose chase to Beaverton, after googling the address, since I don't work on Thursday, it seemed like I  could just pick it right up, and have the fan going again by Thursday night.   

I should have phoned first, which would have revealed that the phone was disconnected, and the place was no longer in business. 

As I drove back without the wire, I kept fiddling with my hair.  I had some extra time before picking up Freyja, why not just get a haircut and be done with it?  I had been putting off getting a haircut since July, for some reason, and the timing was perfect. 

All the signs that is was not a good idea where there.  My regular haircutting lady was gone, but I was being all bold and uncharacteristically devil may care, and went ahead anyway, so now I will pay the price by looking unkempt for six weeks and start all over again.
I  was able to pick up the replacement wire this morning at Platt, right here in SE.  

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

slaving over a hot stove

I am too  tired to write anything meaningful (not that I am trying to suggest that I usually do, I am simply stating that I am not even trying this time) yet I feel moved to work on this blog, since I am not doing anything else even close to creative at the moment.   So I will write about the cooking that has been going on over the past few days.

falafel, baked not fried, since I have a deep seated fear of hot oil.
  • 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 carrot grated
  • 1 tiny zucchini grated
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Oil for frying
  • Place dried chickpeas in a bowl, covering with cold water. Allow to soak overnight. 
Drain chickpeas, and place in pan with fresh water, and bring to a boil.

Allow to boil for 5 minutes, then let simmer on low for about an hour.

Drain and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

Combine chickpeas, garlic, onion, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper (to taste) in medium bowl. Add flour.

Mash chickpeas, ensuring to mix ingredients together. You can also combine ingredients in a food processor. You want the result to be a thick paste.

Form the mixture into small balls, about the size of a ping pong ball. Slightly flatten.

Fry in 2 inches of oil at 350 degrees until golden brown (5-7 minutes).

Serve hot.  or bake on a cookie sheet at 350 for 45 minutes of so, if you are a coward like me.

Sunday we were feeling too lazy to cook, so we had salad, and labneh, a fabulous, super sour, yogurt cheese, with some breadsticks, and a little can of octopus salad, which no one really liked except Mark and Rolf.

Everyone was much happier the night before with this knock-out mole, saffron rice, cabbage salad, and fresh tortillas from the Mexican bakery down the street.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

It was a nearly perfect sunny day today, and I was all out of sorts.

Restless to  the point of going shopping, an activity I hate, simply to get away from the house and from my restlessness.

I now am all stocked up on olive oil (from Yalhala), nutritional yeast (from People's) canned cactus (from Food for Less's Latin aisle) and fruits and veggies from New Seasons. 
I also mailed a box of toddler clothing to my niece, from the downtown post office and took the kids to dim sum in China town.  I could have kept going, driving and driving until I reached the beach.  I felt driven to be on the move, looking for distraction.  I hope I am able to settle down and feel more at ease in the morning. 

Friday, February 19, 2010

a sunny, sunny corner

We fell in love with the sunroom, with it's unpainted woodwork and windows floor to ceiling on three sides, when we first viewed the house.  It may have been the reason we picked this old dump.

On bright shiny days like today it all makes sense.  

The wrinkled tablecloth is purely a matter of my profound laziness, coupled with the fact that the iron is broken.

Mark brought me this lovely jasmine wreath, which looks nice on the table, but I know I really need to get it into the ground fast, which could present a problem.
 I am a neglectful and lazy gardener...
(are you sensing a theme here? No ironing, no gardening, I am on a highway to housekeeping hell.)
The roots are already terribly bound up, so it won't last long without room to spread out.

The kitchen table is also befitting from all the sun pouring in.  Normally I am happy and content with cool and gray weather, but for some reason today I feel delighted to see so much bright light. 

I found this little Polish pottery mug on my weekly thrift store treasure hunt.  I am beside myself with happiness, because I am such a huge fan of Polish pottery, but too cheap to ever buy it for myself- this one cost .99!  
It is sitting on a buffet that I found sitting on the sidewalk in NW Portland 20 years ago.  I tiled the top with tiles I bought in Mexico and from the free box at Pratt & Larson.  I didn't know what I was doing, tiling is harder than you might think.  I have a coffee table I want to tile, so I am slowly collecting 1" squares from P & L free box, and plotting the design in my head.
And finally, some deviled eggs and pickles for a little Friday night dinner party.  The pickles (cucmber and grape leaves) were made by the mother in law of one of our friends.  Baba Luba is from The Ukraine makes the most remarkable home grown preserves and has the good sense to give them to you in a gallon sized jar! No measly pints from this gal!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I finished reading a fine balance
which was well written, but the subject matter was really brutal, and so complex that I don't feel like I can even write anything well enough to do it justice, so I will cop out and copy this review...

From Kirkus Reviews

From the Toronto-based Mistry (Such a Long Journey, 1991), a splendid tale of contemporary India that, in chronicling the sufferings of outcasts and innocents trying to survive in the ``State of Internal Emergency'' of the 1970s, grapples with the great question of how to live in the face of death and despair. Though Mistry is too fine a writer to indulge in polemics, this second novel is also a quietly passionate indictment of a corrupt and ineluctably cruel society. India under Indira Gandhi has become a country ruled by thugs who maim and kill for money and power. The four protagonists (all victims of the times) are: Dina, 40-ish, poor and widowed after only three years of marriage; Maneck, the son of an old school friend of Dina's; and two tailors, Ishvar and his nephew Om, members of the Untouchable caste. For a few months, this unlikely quartet share a tranquil happiness in a nameless city--a city of squalid streets teeming with beggars, where politicians, in the name of progress, abuse the poor and the powerless. Dina, whose dreams of attending college ended when her father died, is now trying to support herself with seamstress work; Maneck, a tenderhearted boy, has been sent to college because the family business is failing; and the two tailors find work with Dina. Though the four survive encounters with various thugs and are saved from disaster by a quirky character known as the Beggarmaster, the times are not propitious for happiness. On a visit back home, Om and Ishvar are forcibly sterilized; Maneck, devastated by the murder of an activist classmate, goes abroad. But Dina and the tailors, who have learned ``to maintain a fine balance between hope and despair,'' keep going. A sweeping story, in a thoroughly Indian setting, that combines Dickens's vivid sympathy for the poor with Solzhenitsyn's controlled outrage, celebrating both the resilience of the human spirit and the searing heartbreak of failed dreams. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

and see if they come and bust me for copyright infringement.  Ssssshhhh don't tell my husband.

I am nearly finshed with the girl with the dragon tattoo and I like it.  It is a good thriller.  Does it live up to the hype?  I dunno, but then again, what does?  I will go find Larsson's other books, if for no other reason than to transport myself to Sweden for a while. 

I also reread (not intentionally) Her last death, by Sussana Sonnenberg.  It was a fun trashy read, without being poorly written, as so many trashy memoirs can be.  Know what I mean?

I am super tired and not at all eloquent, witty or writerly (even in my own mind) tonight. UGH.

Monday, February 15, 2010

 Ginger, walnut brownie

Saturday we had friends over for a little Valentine party. 
For some reason Blogger is scrambling, eating and otherwise messing up my posts from that day. So  I am now giving up.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Monday, February 8, 2010

simple brownies

I made these for the fam on Sunday, not the best ever, but super simple and most likely you have the ingredients on hand. Not overly sweet.

makes one 8x8 pan
preheat to 350
grease pan well

1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 Tablespoons coco powder
1 melted stick of butter
I added chopped walnuts because I happen to like them a lot.
stir together and bake for 25 minutes
There was something delightful about making it through my first day in my new job, without running screaming from the room, or being carted off to the asylum.  In my mind, that is exactly what I imagined, but it didn't happen.

I did it! Hooray for ME! 

People kept piling up little peices of paper and presenting lots of problems and SNAFUs and I kept on solving them, until the clock said


I left.

Walked right out, and shut my work mind off, which is something I have not done in the six years I have worked here.

Friday, February 5, 2010

My dear grandmother's birthday was this week.  

She would be 86, if she was still alive.  

She died a year before I had Maxwell.  

She never understood why I was so old without being married, why I didn't want a baby.

"when you have a baby I am going to buy you a crib, and a rocking chair" 

That was an enormous pledge from a woman who came from nothing a woman that was never gifted a single thing in her life.  

When I got a degree in English, then Women's Studies, she shook her head...  

"all that money for something that doesn't pay anything, all that work to teach kindergarten" 

She loved me fiercely even when I was a puzzle to her, in my black clothes, in my mannish shoes.

"Heidi doesn't like anything purty"

Even when I insisted on living in this hundred year old flat, with no stairs, and substandard heating (she made my grandfather and cousin build me stairs,  a handrail, a porch and a gate for the poodle).  

She dutifully mailed me a check for $100 each wintry month to pay for the feeble gas furnace that mostly blew dust around around and made  the poodle's ears fly  up when he walked past,  then quickly disappeared out the big windows.

She was thrilled when I moved to the big apartment on Flanders with Rolf.  She loved Rolf, loved to drink Coke and talk about cows with a cow enthusiast.  He would set me straight.  He would make sure I finished grad school, got a job, got it all pulled together. 

When my aunt phoned me to say she was in the hospital, I was devastated.  Something real, and big would be required to drive her to the hospital. 

She hated doctors. 

I had only returned from Rome  a few weeks before, had just begun my romance with Mark.  I lay in the hospital bed with her and jabbered on and on about my new love.

 "you had better like him just the way he is, or leave it alone."

She cautioned when I veered into foolish romanticism. 

He left for Dallas on a business trip that week.  

Rolf and Lily comforted me when she died a few days later.   

I picked him up from the airport a few hours after her funeral.  This woman, not my mother, so important to me, nearly a mother.  I drank a bottle of champagne, I sobbed in the stupid tacky church, I wore an absurd black dress, purchased by my mother at the last minute. I felt that  nothing would make me feel cared for again.  No one would commission stairs and a handrail on my behalf ever again.   I was thirty years old and totally alone.

My funny Valentine


Bootiful Princess has to have 25 homemade Valentine cards ready for a party next week, so we busted out the glitter tonight.  

She is a more is more gal, just like her mother, so the kitchen was pretty dang sparkly by the time we got through. 

In the spirit of the season we purchased a really tacky paper heart mobile and one of those center pieces that folds together and becomes three dimensional.  

I am definitely mellowing... I never in a million years imagines such things in my house, and tonight they feel fun.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

hey check out Maxwell's new story!

I got to get Organezized

Don't you just love a good Taxi Driver quote?

 I spent the morning cleaning as I always do on Thursdays, but I have given up on trying to put much order into Maxwell's  office/film studio corner.  
He has been feverishly putting out film after film with his stop motion camera, which generates a lot of paper mess.  
The sets must be constructed, the scripts written and edited and then there are the comic books, the masses of rough drafts... on it goes.  
He may be personally responsible for wiping out an entire forest before he turns eleven.

I can't say much, this is what my bedside table looks like these days.   I am not exactly a paragon of order, myself.

 Then there is Freyja.  At five she dutifully makes her bed, and tidies up.  We moved things around a bit, before her birthday party to make more space for playing, and I think it is working out well. 

 I also made my weekly trip to Goodwill and no I don't always buy stuff, only when I find something really awesome, like this 60's Japanese mug, this tray perfect for Valentine's cookies, and THREE duralex glasses.  They stopped producing the glasses a few years ago and they cost a fortune on E-Bay.

They are the best glasseware in the world, you can for instance, get totally drunk, knock them off a table onto a wooden floor and they don't break.
You can use them for votive holders and let the candles burn all the way down and singe the side of the glass and they don't break.
You can bake custards and tarts in them and they do not break.

In fact in the past 18 years I have only had one break, and that was dropped outside on concrete.

What I have experienced a lot is old housemates stealing them, so I keep my eyes peeled for them whenever I am at a thrift store. 
Rolf likes to drink wine out of them, and I like to use them for the kids, since they hold 4 oz, which is the perfect kid size, and I freaking hate those hideous plastic tippy cups. 

Monday, February 1, 2010


Friday night Mark had a going away party to attend after work, so I decided to take the kids to the Skyline Drive In for dinner.

The Skyline is an old school diner that sits at the the crest of a 20 mile stretch of road that winds through the hills west of Portland.

The winding road is quite charming in the daylight, but at night in the rain it can feel a bit scary, but the long and treacherous drive was not going to put me off my mission to kill as much time outside of the house as possible, before bed, so off we went- Maxwell, Freyja, Rolf and a tiny stuffed moose, named Moose.

When we finally arrived, it appeared that half of Portland had the same idea of what would be a good idea for dinner!  The tiny place was jam packed with families and rowdy teenagers taking up all the seats at the counter.

So we waited, and waited, and waited, which is never a good idea with Freyja.

She is impatient and a little wild, not a good combo in close quarters.

By the time we were seated, it was 7:00pm, and we were all starving!

We speed ordered and Rolf and Maxwell got started with milkshake, Freyja refused, insisting that the only thing she would eat was a hotdog, with no catchup, and NO bun.

While Rolf and Max enjoyed the milkshakes, Miss F. harassed the waitstaff each time they passed, demanding to know where her naked hotdog was.

I pretended not to notice.

Eventually we got the hotdog, the coleslaw and the split pea soup for which the place is known for and finished our meal, only to discover that they only take cash, which meant a much more meager tip than I had interned,  particularly considering the cranky five year old's relentless tongue lashing of the waiter.

We left to take out lives in our hands driving through the twists and turns back to the  flat safety of SE.

Right as we were about to cross the Ross Island Bridge, Freyja lets out a scream!



We forgot MOOSE!   

I cannot sleep without Moose!

I assured her that we could call and pick moose up the next day, but she was not convinced and screamed the rest of the way home.  

When we got home I started to phone the restaurant to ask after Moose's safety, but hardly had I picked up the phone book when Freyja  screams from the bathroom

There is water pouring out of the potty!!!!

and there was indeed a flood of water pouring out of the potty, filling the bathroom and working it's way into the kitchen.  

I waded in, turned off the valve behind the toilet, plunged and got the water to stop, got Rolf to put Freyja to bed, and spend the next two hours mopping, disinfecting and doing laundry (since it took every towel in the place to sop up the water). 

I was very tired and went to bed, around midnight, only to be awakened a half hour later by Mark coming home. 

At six the next morning Freyja wakes me up to remind me that we have to go and get Moose. 

So she and I sneak off and let everyone else sleep.  

The diner is open for breakfast, so we were able to get the moose without incident. 

As we drove away Freyja asked me to turn the rearview mirror so I could see greet & see Moose.  I told her that I couldn't because I needed to watch the road, and that I would greet Moose when I got home. 

Now you've hurt his feelings Mommy, he doesn't want to talk to you!