Saturday, October 22, 2011


I enjoy the heat coming from our woodstove. I enjoy how the woodstove dries out our otherwise disgustingly damp and clammy stone house. I enjoy the fact that the woodstove allows us to keep the indoor temperature above 55 degrees without bankrupting ourselves buying heating oil.

I do not, however, enjoy getting a faceful of smoke first thing in the morning when I open the top to get the fire going again. Gross.

Friday, October 21, 2011

There's an Equation in Here Somewhere . . .

If I knew anything at all about math other than adding and subtracting*, I could probably come up with something important-sounding that would express how the amount of work I have to do in the kitchen is directly proportional to the number of fruit flies swarming around the house.

But since I don't have the ability to come up with anything important-sounding, I'll just tell you that I picked up many, many pounds of free and maybe a-little-past-their-prime apples yesterday (thanks, Alyssa's dad and the guy who owns the local orchard and gives the apples to Alyssa's dad!) and let you imagine how many fruit flies we have in the house at the moment.


I'm not sure how many pounds I actually have, since my inability to do math also seems to include an inability to estimate weight accurately, but I'm guessing about 75 pounds. When I mentioned to the MiL that I had picked up the apples, she asked me, "So how many did you get? A shitload?"

I think I'm getting a reputation.

I made a couple of batches of applesauce yesterday--about seven quarts--which I will can today. I keep telling myself this is the very last of the food preservation chores for the season and I just need to get through this next week full of apples and paring knives and food mills. Then I can sit back and rest on my laurels. And eat.

In the meantime, I'll be drowning in applesauce and swatting at fruit flies.

Have a happy, fruit-fly-free weekend, duckies!

* Speaking of math, I cannot tell you how much I dread Cubby coming home with math homework and asking for help with it. A.'s not a math whiz, either. Cubby may be on his own with that crap.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Another Kind of Deterrent

Yes, we have another deterrent. But since this one is meant for Cubby instead of the dogs, it does not have electric current in it and we have not baited it with electrified salami.

It's a baby gate. How lame. But how necessary.

We have not actually had a baby gate in the house before this because Blackrock, unlike a modern house, is all about the doors. Every room can be closed off from the rooms on either side just by closing the doors. No open plans here. This is quite handy when I want to corral Cubby in the living room so I can sit down on the couch for a few minutes without chasing him up the stairs or into the kitchen or away from that oh-so-fascinating toilet brush in the bathroom. (Kids are so gross.) I just shut the doors.

But now the woodstove is going. And woodstove heat does not go through a door. So if I closed the door between the living room and the dining room where the woodstove lives, it wasn't long before the living room was freezing and the dining room was boiling.

Enter the gate. A. bought it and set it up yesterday. He got the tall one, because Cubby is tall. Also spry. So A. thought he'd better get a bigger one to keep The Force contained.

An early appearance of the "Seriously, Mom?" face. I suspect I will see this face a lot in the coming years.

Unfortunately, the tall gate, though it does seem to contain the child*, is also a serious pain in the ass for the shorter adults in the house. That is, the MiL and me.

Due to our bizarre and definitely not standard-size doorways, it's not a permanently installed gate that can open and close; it just stays in place with tension. This means, however, that it's not very convenient to move it. The MiL and I can both juuuuust step over it, but not gracefully and certainly not easily. I'm going to eat it trying to get over this thing one of these days, I just know it.

But. It does allow me to sit on my ass in the living room with Cubby without freezing said ass off, so we'll just accept it as yet another irritating inconvenience of winter at Blackrock. It's a long list.

* So far. He's already tried to climb it a couple of times, so it's possible Cubby will be the one to eat it on this gate.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Elizabeth David Is a Pain. Plus, a Rabbit and a Bath.

Okay, here's where I piss off every serious cook and foodie in the country: I don't like Elizabeth David's recipes.

There. Commence throwing your fancy, heirloom, organic tomatoes and rotten free-range, humane eggs. I think her cookbooks are irritating and the recipes are ridiculous.

I say this, however, after making all of one of her recipes. And that only to please the MiL.

See, the MiL bought a bunch of eggplants at the farmers market awhile ago. And she mentioned that before I froze them or whatever, she wanted to try making a recipe in Elizabeth David's French Country Cooking book. But the MiL hasn't had a chance to make it, since it requires an hour in the oven, so I decided to make it for her. I mean, this is the woman who will make any ridiculous cake I request and has regularly baked things for me that she won't even eat, so I figured the least I could do was make her some eggplant.

Eggplant for cake. Fair trade, right?


Here's the exact recipe for Aubergines en Gigot:

In each whole, unpeeled aubergine, make two rows of small incisions; into these put alternatively small pieces of bacon and cloves of garlic which have been rolled in salt, pepper and herbs, either marjoram or basil.

Put the aubergines in a roasting dish with a little oil poured over them, cover the dish and roast them in a slow oven for about 1 hour.

That's it. I mean, how easy is that, right? Except for the fact that . . . wait. A WHOLE eggplant? Whatever, I cut the stem off at least, because that's not even edible, okay, Ms. David?

Also, two rows? What's a row? Long ways? Around the whole thing? I did two rows around the circumference of eggplant.

Next, whole garlic cloves? How small were your cloves, Ms. David? Because short of hacking a fairly large hole in the side of each eggplant, there is no way a whole clove is going to be inserted in a "small incision."

I sliced the garlic cloves into smaller pieces. Then I rolled them in the salt, pepper, and basil, as instructed, all of which came right off as I attempted to force the pieces into those small incisions.

The pieces of bacon wouldn't even go into the small incisions, so I ended up hacking pretty big holes in the eggplant anyway.

There was cussing, I will admit.

Last, what the hell is a "slow oven"? At this point, sick of Elizabeth David and her stupid recipe, I just set the oven at 300 degrees and trusted to luck.

It tasted like . . . eggplant. But the MiL pronounced it delicious, so that's all that matters.

Next! The rabbit! Nothing to do with Elizabeth David. Though come to think of it, she might have some recipes for rabbit in that handy cookbook of hers, but I'm not going to bother looking.


Last night as Cubby was splashing around in his bath and I was reading an old National Geographic Magazine article about Sherpas in Nepal (so sue me for being a negligent parent for not kneeling next to the tub and making boat noises for twenty minutes), A. burst into the bathroom waving a dead rabbit by the feet.

"Look, Cubby!" he said. "Look what Daddy shot!"

Cubby looked up, grinned, correctly announced, "Ra,"and then went back to drinking his bath water from his plastic alligator mug.

Not even two years old and already unimpressed by dead wildlife. A child of Blackrock, without doubt.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Almost There . . .

We're almost at that most exciting day of the year, duckies: Jar Tally Day. Better than Christmas, that.

Yes, soon I will be adding up my hastily scribbled and much-amended list to see just how many glass jars of food have made their way from my kitchen into the Pit of Despair. I know already that there are more than two gallons of pickled jalapenos down there. Now that, I think we can all agree, is a SHITLOAD of jalapenos.

I guess my dad knows what he's getting for Christmas this year.

I have not yet contacted my friend Alyssa* to see if there are apples again hanging around somewhere, but I suspect there might be just a few extra. A few meaning a thousand pounds or so.

So! After some apples have been sauced and stored, THEN I can do the final tally.

Brace yourselves. The fruit is going to rule the world this year, I can tell. And the jalapenos, of course.

* Alyssa, you there? There are just a few left in those pallets I saw Saturday, right? And I can have some, right? Like, fifty pounds or so?

Monday, October 17, 2011

This Is Not Goodbye

I couldn't really figure out how to say this, so maybe I'll just, uh, say it: I think I'm done posting every single day come hell, high water, or a child who refuses to nap.

I don't want this to become an obligation. And that's what it feels like when it's two o'clock in the afternoon and I finally get Cubby to sleep for 45 minutes and I have gallons of jalapenos to pickle and dishes to do and I haven't eaten lunch but wait! I haven't posted yet either! SHIIIIIT.

That's how I'm starting to feel. I don't like that, I don't want that, so I'm just giving you a fair warning that there may be days when I'm not here. It doesn't mean I've been attacked by a rabid raccoon and rushed to the hospital or fallen into the cistern, it just means . . . I didn't post. Because life gets in the way.


And now! I would like to tell you that I went to see the re-make of Footloose on Saturday night. By myself, because Cubby can't sit for ten minutes, much less two hours; the MiL is much too cultured for such a movie; and A. would rather make both his thumbs explode with a hammer than sit through two hours of teenage angst and dancing. And, uh, apparently I have no friends.

Anyway. I'm a big fan of the original Footloose. I mentioned that last time I watched it, I realized that I have most definitely become an Adult since the last time I had seen it. And this new version? Well, holy shit, it just made me feel OLD. Not just because the original was so long ago and I remember it (and own it), but because the crowd in the theater was so young, I had no idea who any of the young actors in the movie were, and I find myself less and less patient with teenage shenanigans now.

Yup, old. For sure. But not so old that I'm not entertained by a movie put out by MTV. And entertainment is really all I ask for.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

No Worries, Duckies

I was just busy yesterday with various things and a child who wouldn't nap and then I went to the Small City for an outing and to see a movie (I KNOW! I'll tell you all about it later) and then this morning there was Stuff and . . .

Well. Nothing bad, just . . . nothing. Sorry for the worry. Carry on.