Saturday, June 26, 2010

Scenes from My Youth

Because I am SO hip and with it, I just found out about two days ago that there is a new Karate Kid movie out. My immediate reaction, of course, was, "How can you RE-MAKE The Karate Kid? It's a classic! Without scrawny little Ralph Macchio and Elisabeth-with-an-s Shue, how can it possibly be the same?"

I am, of course, a child of the 80s, and so The Karate Kid holds a very special and specific place in my childhood nostalgia. The thought of updating it is just wrong to me, because The Karate Kid is pretty much an icon of the 80s. If it's not an 80s movie, then what is it?

I haven't seen the new movie, but I did have a viewing of the original last night, just to remind myself of what it was actually like. And I am now more convinced than ever that there is NO WAY to re-make that movie properly in this brave new century. I mean, we're talking about a movie featuring kids from 30 years ago. Kids that had no cell phones, no computers, and apparently, at least in the case of Daniel Larusso, no attitude. The kid actually listened to his mother. How refreshing to see a kid without a smart mouth in a movie. If the kid had had an attitude, he sure as hell would not be sanding fifteen miles of wooden decks and painting five million miles of board fence just because some weird old man told him to.

Also? Arcades were the hang-out venue of choice and Alli-with-an-i actually lounged around the beach in a one-piece bathing suit. How quaint. I'm sure the new movie has much better fight choreography and more fashionable clothing, but it doesn't have the nostalgia factor for me.

I mean, really. Arcades. Totally rad.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Latest and Greatest

Wow, how long has it been since a garden update? Too long, right? I'm sure you're all worrying in bed at night, fretting until the wee hours about the state of my broccoli plants, and did the tomatoes survive The Great Stupidity of 2010, and WHAT ABOUT THE POTATOES--WE MUST KNOW.

I'm so sorry for causing you such anxiety. Allow me to soothe you with a detailed garden update.

The broccoli is fine, as are the cabbages, which are expanding rapidly. As cabbages are wont to do. Soon there may be Cabbage Patch Kids under there. Fun! Okay, that would actually be really creepy, but moving on.

We've been eating a lot of peas, both the shelling and non-shelling kind. I planted snow peas and snap peas for the first time this year. We're not wild about the snap peas, but the snow peas are definite keepers. Not least because they don't have to be shelled. And you know how I feel about shelling peas.

The lettuce and spinach haven't entirely bolted yet, but their days are numbered. The chard, however, is still going strong, so we won't have any shortage of leafy greens.

The corn . . . oh, the disappointing corn. I planted the corn a little early this year, because of the unusually warm weather we had in April. That was a mistake. We then had cold, rainy weather, with the result that I have about a dozen corn plants out there. Which represents maybe a ten percent germination rate. Awesome. We decided that instead of re-seeding, we'd just buy a bushel or so. Everyone around here grows it, so it's not exactly hard to find. So not to worry--there will still be maquechoux in our freezer this winter. I know that's a load off your mind.

The potatoes are huge and flowering and I can no longer get in between the rows to hill. Isn't THAT a shame. Now I just wait for them to die down. Which should be awhile.

And speaking of dying down! The garlic has started browning at the tips, which means harvesting isn't far off. The shallots we planted in the fall as an experiment are ready to be dug up at any time, and I think they are going to kick the asses of the shallots we planted as usual in the spring. Which means fall planting of shallots for us from now on.

Let's see . . . beets, carrots, and parsnips are all plugging away, awaiting their days of glory in the fall when all these fancy perishable vegetables are dead and only the hearty root vegetables remain to save us from certain starvation.

Or something.

Flea beetles have been plaguing the basil, but it's still growing nicely. As are the hot peppers and bell peppers. No flowers on them yet, but all in good time. The eggplants are being annoyingly slow, as always, except the one Ichiban eggplant seedling I bought that already has blossoms on it. Two thumbs up for the fancy foreign eggplant!

The cucumbers sprouted nicely, and will soon be rambling all over the patch of ground they share with the Ronde di Nice zucchini, butternut squash, and some random sweet potato vines the MiL was given. That's a whole lotta vines. It's going to be scary in there in another month.

NOT in the scary vine patch, but instead secluded off between the blackberries and the barn, are a few Chioggia pumpkin seeds I saved from some pumpkins given to us by a family member last winter (thanks, Mark!). Have you ever heard of these? They're DELICIOUS. The flesh is more like a sweet potato than a pumpkin, dense and kind of dry. And they get huge. I hope the damned squash borers don't ravish these, because I would really like to have some of these pumpkins to store this winter.

And last, but of course not even close to least, the tomatoes. Yay tomatoes! Not dead! Growing nicely! There are wee tomatoes on the Stupice plants, swelling every day!

Life is good.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


A couple of weeks ago, Cubby laughed for the first time. It's an indescribably adorable sound, the sort of thing that makes everyone in the vicinity laugh too. But he doesn't do it often. Apparently, he doesn't find much of anything amusing. Except when I pretend to bite his stomach. Complete with teeth (no, I don't actually BITE, but the teeth are a big part of it) and growly, monster-will-eat-you noises.

Yes. The only thing that makes my son laugh is when I pretend to take a chunk out of his belly while growling like a predator. He's gonna LOVE playing with the dogs when he's bigger.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Terms of Endearment

I'm not a honey person. Not honey as in the sticky sweet stuff that oozes from beehives, but honey as in, "Honey, could you go get rid of the flopping, half-dead bat that Otty is barking at on the porch?"

Sadly, I HAVE uttered those words, just not with the "honey" tacked on. Because that's not a term of endearment I use. Instead, I'm more likely to call both husband and baby alike "Lovey." I don't know why, since my parents were "Sweetheart" users.

Which brings us to today's Audience Participation Day topic. WHEEE!! How do you refer to the loved ones in your life? Dear? Babe? Sweetie? Or do you just skip the terms of endearment altogether?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It's Official

I really DO have a giant infant.

Specifically, a 17 pound, four ounces and 26 and 3/4 inches infant. That's a really, REALLY big four-month-old, in case those numbers mean nothing to you. They mean nothing to me, too--I had to look up the percentile thing to see what the averages are. Cubby is in very high percentiles for both height and weight.

Cubby credits his delicious fists for his shocking growth.

I may need a back brace before this kid is able to walk on his own.

And speaking of porkers! I actually took a picture of the Mock Duck before baking it, but didn't feel like getting the camera, downloading the picture, and posting it yesterday. How's that for lazy? But I have it now! And it looks really gross!

Bet you kind of wish I had left it on the camera.

With that lovely image, I bid you adieu. Have a fabulous Tuesday, duckies!

Monday, June 21, 2010

What's for Dinner? Faux Fowl!

As you all remember, I'm sure, yesterday was Father's Day. As you will also remember, we now have a resident father. Who thinks Father's Day (and Mother's Day, for that matter) is a stupid made-up holiday and shouldn't be dignified with acknowledgment. Accordingly, A. didn't want a present and didn't want to do anything special. Instead, he fixed the lawn tractor and mowed the paddock. Then he cleaned up a bunch of forsythia branches and burned them. Then he spent several hours cleaning out the shed and sorting and organizing the junk in there.

And then he was hungry.

Even though he claimed to not want anything to do with Father's Day, I figured I should at least make an effort to make something he would like for dinner. Not that I don't make that effort every day anyway, but I made an extra-special effort.

I made Mock Duck.

Mock Duck is not some weird tofu version of duck or anything. It's two pork tenderloins butterflied and pounded out into the approximate shape of a duck. If the duck had been flattened. And if you really use your imagination.


The shape is not important. What's important is that this recipe calls for stuffing in between the two flattened tenderloins. And layering salt pork over the top of it all. This is important because pork tenderloin is a nearly fat-free meat, which means it tends to be dry and tasteless. But if you fill the stuffing with pork fat and layer more pork fat on top, that pretty much takes care of the fat-free problems. I made this once about five years ago and we really liked it, but I sort of forgot about it after that because pork tenderloin is not something we usually buy. But we were anticipating a visit from my parents and my dad really likes it, so we bought one. Then they didn't get to come, so we had this tenderloin sitting in the freezer.

The original recipe for Mock Duck came from Aunt Maud's Recipe Book, which is recipes from L.M. Montgomery. Yes, the author of Anne of Green Gables. I will admit to being a huge fan of the Anne of Green Gables books, and so when I saw that the MiL had this cookbook, I just had to try something from it. Mock Duck won, mostly because of the name. The original recipe calls for a stuffing of just bread, onion, and salt pork. For yesterday's version, I made a rice stuffing instead, with bacon, onion, and some leftover saffron rice. This is spread in the middle of the pounded tenderloins to form a sort of sandwich. Of raw pork. Ew.

The raw-pork sandwich is "sewn" together with toothpicks, and then salt pork is draped across the top. But I used bacon to cover the top, because we didn't have any salt pork. Then it's baked. I REALLY did not want to turn the oven on yesterday, because it was very, very hot and we do not have air conditioning. But I did. For the Father in the house. The things I do for love.

But the Mock Duck was really good, even if I was sweating like the pig I was eating during the whole meal.

And with that lovely image, I leave you. To take Cubby to the doctor for more shots. Wish me luck. I think I'll need it.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Paternal Epistle

Dear Dad,

Hi! Happy Father's Day! It's been awhile since I've had a chance to talk to you (tell Mom to stop hogging the phone when I call), so I thought I'd bring you up to date on the exciting happenings at Blackrock. Because you know there are ALWAYS exciting happenings at my house.

Like strawberries! Yes! Of which the MiL and I picked 20 pounds on Friday at a local farm. Cubby came too, but he wasn't much help. Except that he didn't scream his head off the whole time in the fields and instead sat in his chariot and watched us labor. I guess that's a help.

We don't have 20 pounds left anymore. We have maybe ten pounds. We've been eating a lot of strawberries in the past few days. The MiL froze 6 quarts and made a very interesting dessert of strawberries in champagne jelly. I made a batch of strawberry-rhubarb jam with some of mine. You might find a jar of that under your Christmas tree this year if you're a very good boy.

The other berry to be dealt with this time of year is, of course, the mulberry. Though that should be mulberries, plural, because there is nothing singular about the multitudes of berries raining down out there on that slope. I have three quarts of juice so far, and some really disgusting-looking black cuticles. Three more quarts (and yet more disgusting cuticles) and I'll can it. You probably will not be seeing any of this under your Christmas tree this year, however, as jars of mulberry juice are precarious travelers and you really do NOT want that stuff to blow up everywhere. So you'll just have to come visit to get your mulberry juice fix.

The garden is coming right along, producing many, many peas at the moment, along with vast quantities of lettuce. I'm sure your garden has been drowning you in tomatoes for some time now, but since I don't live in the desert, I'm just now seeing the first wee tomatoes on the Stupice plants.

But it's not all food, all the time here (although it's mostly food, most of the time . . .). I must inform you that your grandson is putting his new standing skills to good use. A couple of weeks ago, we discovered that he can hold onto the coffee table and stand by himself for a minute or so. It's kind of ridiculous to see a two-foot-tall, four-month-old infant standing there like that. It also frightens me a bit, because walking can't be too far behind, along with the inevitable falling and screaming. Good times are ahead.

But anyway! We won't dwell on the scary future of a careening eight-month-old boy right now! No, we'll just live in the present. For you, that means enjoying the family reunion in Wisconsin today. For me, that means hiding out in my house with the fan on full blast in an attempt to avoid melting in the heat. So, have fun today, give my love to the family, and a very happy Father's Day to you.

Lots of love from
Your favorite daughter in New York