Friday, May 16, 2008

My Husband Is a Lawyer (for Real)

I had a conversation with a friend of the MiL's today who reads this blog. (Hi, Mikey! Did you know your name always makes me think of the old Life cereal commercial: "Give it to Mikey. He'll eat anything!" Except this Mikey is female and probably won't eat just anything, and . . . Jesus Christ, Kristin, get back to the POINT.) I think everyone the MiL knows reads this blog, because she has disseminated the URL to every person she's ever met. Which is fine with me, because really, what's a blog for but to stoke my ego by writing obsessively about myself and pretending there are lots of people who find that interesting? Even if they don't comment (NOT-SO-SUBTLE HINT).

The point. Having trouble with the point here. So, Mikey-who-will-not-eat-anything mentioned that I am being careful not to disclose that A. is a lawyer. There was no intentional subterfuge on my part about this and I was not aware that you didn't know he's a lawyer. I might have mentioned it in passing at some earlier time, but I wouldn't want all of you to think he's just some one-dimensional redneck. So let me clear this up: He is a lawyer. And also a redneck. More a redneck than a lawyer, though. He wears a suit every day and sues the federal government. He is very, very good at his job, but he really prefers his sheep. And can you blame him?

So, yeah. Just thought you should know. Husband=lawyer. A lawyer who is at this very moment smashing apart a steel sink with a maul in preparation for a junkyard run. I love this man.

This public service message is brought to you by Mikey-not-the-Life-kid.

Confessions of a Non-Foodie

After reading the last couple of posts* about all the fancy, locally-grown, la-di-da dinners we've been having, I was struck with the tremendous urge to give myself a boot to the head. I sounded . . . pretentious (except for the part where I told you that I let our dogs do the initial clean-up of some dishes. Not so pretentious, that. Also, perhaps TMI.). I hate pretentiousness in all forms, and especially when it's food-related. And while it is true that we generally eat very, very well, there are always the exceptions. So I'm here to give you the no-holds-barred, partially hydrogenated, ugly truth about some of my own vices when it comes to food and food-like substances.

I think you know what I mean when I say "food-like." These are the things that we know damn well are not healthy by any standard (except maybe the standard that applies when attending The Great New York State Fair, where corn dogs seem like the most balanced meal ever. Hey, they have corn in them--that's a vegetable!). They will also probably make us feel a little sick later. But nausea be damned! I will have my partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and high fructose corn syrup!

Case in point: White Cheddar Cheez-Its. I do not know what that white powder is on those little crackers, but I suspect crack. It's the best explanation I have for my absolute inability to eat less than half a box at a time.

And when I was younger, my favorite sandwich was white bread, iceberg lettuce, mayonnaise, and potato chips--and not on the side, either. There is not one nutritionally redeeming ingredient in that sandwich. (Thanks, Mom and Dad! Don't worry, you made up for it later with prunes and flax seed oil.) I have not had this sandwich in many years, and I'm afraid to make one, for fear that I will discover that it is still absolutely DELICIOUS and I must have one every day.

Also, though margarine is considered a travesty by A. and the MiL, both of whom are products of God's Dairy Country here in upstate New York, I still like the taste of it. And I KNOW it's like 3 molecules away from plastic and those picky little bugs won't eat it if it's left out next to butter. Who cares? It's so deliciously salty. And easy to spread right out of the container, unlike our butter, which is often the consistency of Ivory soap.

But enough about me. Now that I've unburdened my soul, please, tell me your secret food vices. Ding-dongs? Slim Jims? Pork rinds? Cheez Whiz? And if you're planning on saying something like, "A perfect, luscious strawberry," you will force me to call BULLSHIT on you, because I KNOW there's something out there that you will stuff your face with when no one's watching, and it ain't fresh fruit.

Maybe you'll introduce me to some absolutely fabulous, nutrient-empty treat I've been missing out on all this time. I'm open to suggestions--I think I'm almost out of Cheez-Its.

*J. dropped by last night to give us more fish, brown trout this time. You see I was not lying when I said he fishes ALL THE DAMN TIME.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Clean-up Crew

I'm sure this will come as no surprise to you, but we have no dishwasher. I know, a 150-year-old house with no dishwasher? What outrageous thing will she expect us to believe next? But the absence of a dishwasher, and the insane amount of cooking that takes place in this house, leads to formidable piles of dishes day after day.

The way it usually works is I do the dishes after I have my lunch, then I make dinner and the MiL does the dishes at night. A. eats. This is a good role for him. But I would be remiss if I didn't give props to our little kitchen helpers--the dogs. Oh yes, the dogs. I was thinking about their invaluable services last night in particular, as the MiL made dinner and I did the dishes.

The MiL made Julia Child's Boeuf a la Mode recipe from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." Anything that involves a large beef roast and an entire bottle of wine is going to be good, and OH MY GOD, was it. The MiL followed the recipe to the point of thickening the gravy with a mixture of port and arrowroot starch. She went all the way with this one. But this is one of Julia's classic recipes involving all kinds of simmering, straining, mixing, and other things that take a lot of time and produce lots and lots of dirty, greasy dishes. (Once I made Julia's Boeuf Bourguignon recipe for a dinner party and it took me, no lie, an entire afternoon. Granted, about an hour of that was spent peeling those little bastard pearl onions, but still. Exhausting.)

What do you do with the grease in pots, pans, and bowls? Pour it down your drain and then run hot water to flush it through? Yeah, not happening here. Our water isn't hot enough, and the pipes are so old they probably have about a pinhole's width to drain through at this point. We have a hard enough time getting water to go down the drain, forget greasy water. Or do you wipe everything out with paper towels? We could do that, but why bother when we have four very willing little tongues literally begging to dispose of the grease?

So, one after the other, I put bowls, pans, serving dishes, and plates on the floor, and Mia and Zoe cleaned those suckers up in no time flat. And they were SO HAPPY to help.

Now if I could only teach them to wash the dishes in the soapy water after licking them, I'd be all set.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Eatin' Good in the Neighborhood

I was going to post this yesterday, but then them coons got to fightin' and I found that much more entertaining. So here, let me show you part of our dinner from two nights ago, because that is . . . also entertaining?

This photo documents the beginning of garden produce season. Here we have some volunteer lettuce that sprang up out of a completely forgotten and neglected planting last fall, and radishes. It'll probably be awhile before we have much of anything else edible, but when the tomatoes come ripe, they'll all come at once and we will GORGE. I can't wait.

I didn't take a picture of it, but along with this salad we had an Atlantic salmon caught the day before and thoughtfully supplied to us by A.'s friend J., who is the most obsessive fisherman I know. No, really. Most guys are out every weekend fishing, right? Yeah, J. is out every day he's off from work, and also most nights, fishing in the dark until 3 a.m., then sleeping a few hours in his truck before going back to work. He is DEDICATED, y'all. The salmon was the result of one of these overnight expeditions.

Because J. fishes ALL THE DAMN TIME, he almost always catches something. No one at his house really likes fish (how is it possible to not like freshly caught salmon? HOW?), so he'll often just drop some of his catch off here. It's awesome. We love J. I always feed him when he comes over, because I want him to keep coming and bringing us fish. And plants. He brings us a lot of plants, because he works at a farm store. And he's also a landscape architect, so we can ask him what to do with the plants, too. We believe in having multi-purpose friends.

But this post was not meant to be an homage to J. (who doesn't even know about this site, so all the flattery is totally wasted). The point I was going to make before I got off on the most random tangent ever is that we are beginning our locavore season. Locavore means someone who eats food grown close to their home. We're sort of default locavores in the fall and summer, because there's just so much garden produce, fish, venison, etc., that the supermarket becomes kind of extraneous. This dinner I've been talking about (when I wasn't talking about J.) is a good example. I didn't plan on having all local food, but well, we had the fish, and the salad was right out in the garden, and the roasted potatoes came from our bag of extra seed potatoes . . . it just kind of works out like that.

I'm all about social consciousness, especially when I don't have to actually be, you know, conscious about it. :-)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

We Ain't in Arizona No More, Toto

I had always had this idea of the country as a very quiet place. You know, nothing to disturb your sleep except the busy chirping of crickets and the trilling of crazy-happy birds to greet the coming dawn. And then I moved here and realized that though we don't have a lot of human neighbors, there are a lot of furry animal neighbors out there, and many of them are nocturnal. The most notable of these is the squirrel that lives in our attic and frequently gnaws on walnuts at 5 a.m. His favorite dining area appears to be directly over our bed, about 2 feet above our heads. Hate him.

When the weather gets warm enough to open our window at night, we hear a lot more of the great outdoors. Like last night, when we were awakened from a sound sleep at 11 p.m. by a god-awful noise. It's really impossible to describe accurately, but my best adjectival effort would be a high-pitched, rapid-fire, chattering scream. It was LOUD, and it was kind of scary. I have never heard anything like that.

A.* got up and went to look out the window, while I huddled in bed mumbling, "What the hell IS that?" Here's his reply, verbatim:

"Coons fightin' in the crik."

Indeed. I'm a long way from Tucson.

* A. instructed me to inform you that the only reason he was drinking Corona Light is some more sophisticated relatives (hi, Tina and Mark!) left them at our house. He wants you to know that he normally drinks Pabst Blue Ribbon by the 30-pack. And I should add that he used to like to yell at every opportunity, "PBR me A.S.A.P.!" Thankfully, he's stopped doing that, probably because he realized that if he kept saying it, I would never, ever get him a beer again.

Monday, May 12, 2008

This Picture Is Worth at Least TWO Thousand Words

I think this photo tells you more about my husband than anything I could ever write. This is how he spent his afternoon yesterday. And I'm not supposed to tell you that the beer he's holding is a Corona Light. How can a man spend all afternoon cutting and loading scrap metal, and then come home and drink light beer? And here we all were thinking he was so macho.

But enough about him--don't you want to know what I was doing yesterday? Of course you do!

I was planting a field of potatoes. Yes, a field. That's what we're calling it anyway, because there are a LOT of potatoes out in that there garden, all the holes for which were individually hand-dug by me and the MiL. I can't lift my arms now, but I'll forget the pain in a couple of months when we're harvesting our fabulous potato crop. It's going to be meat and potatoes for us all winter.

We also planted some corn and lettuce, and in about an hour I'll plant beets. The beet seeds are soaking right now, in "bathtub-warm water." That's exactly what the seed packet directions said. What the hell is that? Everyone likes their baths at different temperatures, Seed People! Could you be a little more specific, please? I finally, and totally arbitrarily, decided that it meant water that won't scald a baby, so I went with kind of lukewarm. Which, incidentally, is usually about the temperature of our bath water in the winter. But if my beets don't germinate, I'm blaming the copywriters at John Scheeper's Kitchen Garden Seeds.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

For My Mom, Naturally

I didn't send her a card, or flowers, or, well, anything. Not because I don't love her (I do) or appreciate her (oh, believe me, I do), but because . . . I'm kind of lame. I'm not going to write an essay about how great my mother is, because it would be too long and it would just embarrass her, anyway. Let's just say that if I grow up to be like my mother, that'll be just fine with me.

So Mom, I took this pretty picture of a flower for you today, just to show you I remembered that today is Mother's Day, and I wish I could be there to celebrate with you in person.

Love you, Mere. Happy Mother's Day.