Friday, October 14, 2011

Cubby Down

A cold may not get the raging typhoon Cubby down, but whatever he had yesterday sure did. Poor kid was plastered to my front for four hours yesterday afternoon. He had a very slight fever, but otherwise displayed no signs of illness. No signs other than the fact that he didn't want to run around and get into trouble. All he wanted to do was sleep on my lap on the couch, huddled under the sheepskin.

So that's what we did.

Because I was pinned to the couch by a quite heavy child, I was really unable to do anything but sit there and think. Always dangerous. Mostly what I thought about, of course, were various scenarios involving trips to the emergency room and that story A. read in the paper yesterday about the girl who died from contracting equine encephalitis from mosquitoes. And the three mosquito bites Cubby got the day before.

Wonderful. This thinking stuff will drive you crazy, man.

By bedtime, however, Cubby had removed himself from my lap, found his wooden hammer, and commenced to chasing the cat around the living room and pulling on the lamp cord. So, obviously a full and speedy recovery then.

Happy Friday, duckies! May your weekend be fever-free.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

For Those of You Lucky Enough . . .

To have fresh corn and tomatoes, you need to go to the kitchen right now and make something. Something I will tell you how to make. And you will then go make it, because you love me and trust me and DAMN, this is good.

But first! A story.

Several years ago, back when A. had just graduated from law school and I had just quit my job to move to Blackrock, I announced we were Going On Vacation. Capital letters, because we were going to Europe, dammit. That's pretty much how I announced it, too. A. was hesitant at first, suggesting maybe we could just take a nice trip around upstate New York? No? How about driving around Canada or something?

No. Europe. End of discussion. I figured this was the last time in a long time we would have the time and the money for a long, international vacation (and I was right), so we were leaving our continent, the end. I let him pick the country though, because I am all about a fair and equitable marriage.

So we went to northern Spain for two weeks.

I think his choice of Spain had much to do with the fact that I was proficient enough in Spanish to allow us to drive around for two weeks in areas that see no English-speakers, ever. Most of the Spaniards we encountered thought we were German, actually. And we didn't see anyone else that whole two weeks who spoke English. But in Madrid the night before we flew home, I bought an English-language cookbook called Cooking in Spain, by Janet Mendel.

I love this cookbook. Even though all the recipes use metric measurements and weights, because that's what, oh, pretty much the rest of the world uses, I still love the book. It mostly uses ingredients familiar to me, but in unfamiliar-enough ways to be interesting. Plus, the instructions are all pretty vague, assuming the cook knows how to navigate his or her own kitchen, which is just my style.

And so I present to you my version of stewed corn, originally culled from this book but then bastardized, because that is my way.

It only has five ingredients: corn kernels, fat, garlic, tomatoes, and paprika. Oh, and salt, but that's kind of a given, right?

The recipe has actual weights and real measures, but honestly? This is cooked corn with a tomato sauce, and I'm not getting out my scale every time I make this, so let's wing it, shall we?

So here's what you do. Peel and mince up about four cloves of garlic. Garlic is a dominant flavor here, so adjust accordingly for a larger amount of corn. Saute briefly in a bit of fat. The recipe calls for lard. I usually use olive oil or butter, but if I had good lard, I would use it.

Then add about four large diced tomatoes. Add some salt and cook the tomatoes down until the liquid is oozing out. Then add a good teaspoon or two of paprika. The recipe calls for one; I use more like one and a half. I assume, since this is a Spanish cookbook, the intention is to use smoked Spanish paprika. But I detest smoked paprika and always use the sweet Hungarian kind. Go with smoked if you like it (but then I would use only one teaspoon, so as not to go overboard with the smoky taste), but sweet is delicious too.

Okay! Now, you've cut the kernels off of about four ears of corn using my (the MiL's) ingenious method, right? Right. And if you didn't? Well, chuck in some frozen corn. I won't tell. Besides, the recipe actually calls for cooked corn, anyway.

In any case, add the corn kernels right to the tomato mixture in the pan and cook it all down until the liquid reduces and the corn is tender. Check if it needs any more salt, and then eat.

You're going to the kitchen now, right? GOGOGO.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Serious Bummer

I have mentioned this in passing before, but let me just state right now that few things make me feel more exhausted and ready to just give it all up than getting to the end of a long, tiring day and being TOTALLY READY to throw myself in bed and have it all be over with already . . . and then there are no sheets on the bed because I washed them.

Next time I'm just going to crawl into a sleeping bag and give up any pretense of civilized living.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What Every Boy Needs

A tractor just his size, of course.

Tuffy+Cubby=Tru Luv

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thanks, Mama N.

Last year we got so much rain in September and October that the potato harvest kept getting put off and put off and put off until when we finally dug them up they had sustained significant insect or worm damage or something. Whatever it was that burrowed into the potatoes caused an awful lot of waste. Every time I cooked potatoes I would end up cutting away half the potato to get rid of the nasty little brown holes.


But this year, Mama N. took some mercy on us. About time. She owes us, big time.


It's been dry and sunny and warm for about a week now, so I declared this Potato Digging Weekend. A. was way excited. He just loves digging potatoes.

He doesn't enjoy digging actually, not at all, but he does enjoy eating french fries. So he dug. And I picked up. And then I spread them out on tarps and flipped them so they would dry on all sides and picked them all up and rubbed some dirt off (I don't wash them--they supposedly keep longer if they're unwashed) and put them in wine boxes and brought them down to the cellar.

My back kind of hurts now, but no matter! For we have potatoes in the cellar, I just made a fresh batch of tallow*, and we can have french fries whenever we want. Winter can come now. We're ready.

* Yes, I had already used up the first batch of tallow. Who knew rendered cow fat would go so fast?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Rough Around the Edges

Yesterday afternoon, after we had already dug potatoes and stacked wood, A. wanted to go down to the beach to work on some boat stuff. It was a gorgeous day, 75 degrees and sunny. Probably the last really warm weekend we'll have this year. Cubby had just awakened from his last nap of the day, so we went to down to the beach with A. After doing his boat stuff and starting the water pump, A. asked if we wanted to go in the boat. Okay, I said, but no fishing.

Which is how we found ourselves in my future brother-in-law's boat heading for a winery.

There are lots of wineries in our area, but we rarely visit them. But it was like the boat just made its way there on its own. Or maybe that was A. at the tiller. Whatever, the point is that we went to a winery without any planning whatsover.

Do you know the sort of people that go to wineries and pull up at lakeside docks to do wine tastings? People in speedboats and cropped pants with cute sandals. Not people who pull up in Mississippi River fishing boats wearing holey, stained t-shirts, paint-stained jeans and hiking boots, towing a toddler wearing a grubby white t-shirt and pants with a hole in the knee.

I can't imagine what we looked like to those people at the winery. But it didn't matter. We got our bottle of wine, plus a bottle of water and some bread and cheese for Cubby. We sat on the lawn of the winery drinking wine and eating cheese, looking at the lake, watching Cubby gnaw on his bread and play with the tiny plastic cups. He was perfectly happy. We were perfectly happy. Life was good, ratty clothing be damned.

We should do that more often. But maybe next time I'll change my pants.