Saturday, March 3, 2018

I'm Going With Better Late than Never

Pop quiz: What do you know about Cumbria?

Yeah. I didn't know anything about it either. Except now I know that Joanne--a.k.a. Europafox--lives there and I can read all about it on her blog. This is way fun, because she talks about cocklers and uses words like "stodge" (for comfort food) and I just love that.

Also, you should know that A., who is something of a savant about geography and can rattle off facts and statistics for the most remote regions of the globe, knows little to nothing about Cumbria.

Anyway, Joanne included me in a group of bloggers she had some questions for, and I'm just now getting to them. I typed this whole thing with a sleeping baby on my lap. That sleeping baby--and the fact that she won't sleep anywhere BUT my lap lately--is my excuse for the delay.

Here we go.

1. If you had 15 minutes in a super-market sweep to grab what you could, what would it be?

Meat, dairy, eggs. We eat SO MUCH meat, dairy, and eggs, and it's so expensive. We go through about four gallons of whole milk in a week, approximately five dozen eggs, and Lord knows how many pounds of meat. And let us not forget The Cheese, of course.

2. If you could invite 5 people to a dinner party (can be from history), who would they be and why? 

Actually, if I could invite five people to a dinner party, it would be my family, because they live many hundreds of miles away and I don't see them nearly enough. Meeting Jesus or someone would be cool, I guess, but I think I would rather eat dinner with my brother.

3. Describe your ideal party. 

I, uh, don't really do parties, being a rather extreme introvert. So the only parties where I feel comfortable are ones where I know everyone already. And my ideal party would not involve my children, because while I love them, they pretty much destroy any attempts at relaxation. In addition, there should be good food of the easy to eat variety--chips and dip are always good--and gin. So that means I have to not be nursing or hauling children, and . . . yeah. My ideal party is definitely a fantasy.

4. What is your favourite Christmas film?

A tie between "A Claymation Christmas" (a family tradition) or "A Christmas Story." But I have to give a shout-out here to a movie called "Christmas Story"--no "A"-- that we watched for the first time this year. It's a (dubbed) Finnish movie that tells the backstory of the legend of Santa Claus, and it's so pretty and charming and Cubby and Charlie loved it. You should try it if you can find it. I got it from Netflix DVD.

5. If you could institute one global law what would it be?

No talking on cell phones in public restrooms. I would actually ban them entirely if I could, but starting with public restrooms would be first. So obnoxious. And echo-y.

6. If you could belt a tune out on karaoke better than the original artist what would it be and where would you sing it?

I have no answer for this, except to share that A. often says I should enter karaoke competitions and win lots of money (I have a pretty good voice, but he's kind of tone deaf, so take this with a grain of salt), and I have to kindly respond every time that I would rather smash my thumb with a hammer again.

7. If you had to choose between living without make-up for a year or a smart phone for a year what would it be? 

I don't regularly use either, so you can take 'em both.

8. Who inspires you most in your day to day life?

A., because he also challenges me the most. This is both good and bad.

9. If you could pick any epitaph for your life – what would you choose?

I mentioned this one to A., and he intoned solemnly, "She always cooked dinner." I can't decide if that's funny or pathetic.

10. Who was your first famous crush on?

Dalton James, who was in a forgettable movie called My Father the Hero. He appears to have aged pretty well. And is now 46 years old, which is only eight years older than I am. Funny how I remember him seeming to be SO much older when I was 15 years old and he was 23.

11. Do you have a hair or fashion faux-paux from the past you would like to obliterate with a magic wand, if so what would it be?

Not really, because I've never been into fashion or hair. These are the lamest answers ever, aren't they? 

Joanne has outed me as remarkably boring. But I think you all knew that already, right?

Friday, March 2, 2018

Friday Food: The Inaugural

I know, you all just couldn't wait to see what we ate this past week, right? Well, please allow me to satisfy your raging curiosity. (With some random photos that are not of food, just for fun.)


Short version: Pizza.

Long version: When the MiL was here last Friday, she offered to buy pizza for dinner. I was all for it. Charlie, however, when informed that Grandma was going to buy pizza for dinner, from a restaurant, told us that he only likes the pizza I make. So much for the fun treat from Grandma. I made tuna melts Friday instead. But I still really wanted pizza. And I just happened to have already started sourdough for bread on Friday. So before I added the rye and whole wheat flours for the bread, I pulled some dough out for pizza. I figured the tomato sauce would have to serve for a vegetable, because getting dinner on the table without A. to help me with Poppy was a significant challenge, and I was very over it by Saturday.

And here's the fussy baby herself. Hairstyle courtesy of Cubby.


Short version: Pot roast, mashed potatoes, green salad.

Long version: A. and Cubby were due home around 7:30 p.m., and I didn't know if they would be eating. So I needed something they could eat if they wanted to whenever they got home, but that was easy to make ahead of time. (Still with the fussy baby.) So I cooked a beef pot roast in some tomato-y liquid. I cut some of it up into chunks after it was soft and fried those in tallow. This is like carnitas, and is the best way to cook tough cuts of meat, in my opinion. They get tender, but then crispy. Yum. Charlie and Jack ate theirs with leftover mashed potatoes and salad with homemade ranch dressing. I ate my meat in the salad with some leftover cooked carrots and broccoli. And A. and Cubby didn't end up eating it at all. Which means . . .


Short version: Leftover pot roast.

Long version: The boys ate theirs the same way as the night before, with more leftover mashed potatoes, and some frozen peas. I added some of the meat to a soup I made with some of the leftover cooking liquid. I like to use a lot of liquid to cook big pieces of meat, and then use the liquid for soup. My favorite soup is tomato-based with lots of vegetables and white beans, but I only had black beans. So I made a chili-inspired soup with the meat, black beans, butternut squash, cumin, and chili powder. Then I added some sour cream, because it was kind of boring. It was still kind of boring, but okay. I ate it with cheddar cheese.

Cubby working up an appetite trail running in the Chiricahua Mountains.


Short version: Sweet Italian sausage links, roasted butternut squash/red bell pepper/onions, pasta with pesto, more peas.

Long version: I put the sausage right on the pan with the vegetables and roast it all together. A. likes his parmigiana-style with mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce, which I happened to have this time. I make gluten-free corn pasta for the kids because it's better for Charlie's digestion. And I used the very last two cubes of pesto from last summer's garden. Sad.


Short version: Hamburgers, tater tots, Holy's Burned Cabbage with cheese added, fried mushrooms and onions, baked apples

Long version: We don't eat buns, so it's just the hamburger patties. I have to make so many that I can't fit them all in one pan at a time, so I brown all the patties in a pan on the stove, then put them on a half-sheet pan to finish cooking in the oven. After the hamburgers were out of the pan on the stove, I cooked the mushrooms and onions in the remaining tallow in the pan. The tater tots were the last of the bag from the week before I bought for a treat for Charlie and Jack. I don't know what kind of oven the tater tot people have, but I always cook mine about twice as long as the directions state, because who wants damp tater tots? Gross. Cubby and Charlie don't like the cooked cabbage, so they ate wedges of raw cabbage. I made the apples because the oven was on anyway and I love baked apples with yogurt.


Short version: Ribeye steaks, rice, braised leeks with heavy cream, green salad

Long version: A. went to the grocery store for me on Wednesday and got everything on my list along with a GIANT SLAB OF BEEF. It was a whole boneless ribeye. It was fourteen pounds. That's only two pounds lighter than the baby. It was HUGE. So I cut it up into many steaks (plus some random bits that will be for soup) and A. bravely cooked some of them outside on the grill, 35 degrees be damned. The rice is basmati. The salad was the most anemic thing you've ever seen, as I was down to iceberg lettuce and carrots. I added the sliced steak to my salad along with some of the leftover roasted vegetables from Tuesday. The leeks came from the MiL's garden. I sliced them and braised them in butter and then doused them in cream. So good.


Short version: No meat.

Long version: Fridays in Lent mean tuna or eggs. I only have two cans of tuna left, so eggs it is! Maybe I'll ask A. to make a cheesy omelet. If I'm motivated, I'll pre-cook some potatoes to make fried potatoes. If I'm not motivated, the kids will have bread and butter. And, let's see . . . steamed broccoli and carrots, probably.

Woah. That was long. Maybe I should leave it at the short version.

What'd you eat this week, my lovelies?

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Coming Soon . . .

It is an undeniable that I am a food voyeur. I love reading about what people eat. Any article that tells me what a celebrity eats for breakfast every day is good. So is a story about what famous chefs make their children for lunch.

But most of all, I am fascinated by what normal people eat. How do the great masses manage to feed themselves day in and day out? What do they cook? Do they cook?

Two of the blogs I read have a regular Friday feature where they list all the dinners that family ate for the previous week (with pictures!). It sounds ridiculous. Like, why would anyone care?

Based on the number of comments those posts get, a lot of people care. Including me. I always share our dinners in the comments (at the authors' invitation), often in a too-wordy manner. I just love to talk about food.

And then I finally realized, hey! I have my own blog! I can talk about food here without hijacking someone else's blog! So on Fridays, I will.*

If this sounds unbearably boring to you, you should feel free to absent yourself from this site on Fridays. But if food is your thing? Join me in my crazy. Starting tomorrow. Whee!

* I will probably not be posting pictures of our food, however. I can barely manage to get the food made and on the table for the hordes, never mind photographing it.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

It's a Sarah Kind of Day

Night before last I only had to get up three or four times with Poppy. The sun was shining yesterday and it was fifty degrees, so (despite the wind) Katrina and the Waves were singing my theme song for the day.

Then last night I was up and down all night long with Poppy and I woke up to a cloudy day with ten inches of snow in our forecast. Plus, the toilet seat broke.

That means that this song by Sarah McLachlan is now on a loop in my head.

I like the Katrina days better.

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Clampetts Come To Canada

Remember how I mentioned that the exhaust dropped out of the Subaru when A. and Cubby were on their way to the Montreal airport? Well, they had to drive it home from the airport too, of course. The wire that A. had hurriedly patched it with failed shortly into their drive, leaving them dragging metal and leaving a trail of sparks in their wake.

A bit conspicuous, yes. And not really ideal in a country that is not your own. Even if that country is Canada.

Also, do you know how loud a car sounds with no muffler? I do, and it's ridiculous.

A. stopped and tied the dragging metal up with one of Cubby's shoelaces. That held for awhile. Until it didn't. He used the other shoelace. That worked for long enough to get them out of the urban areas of Montreal and onto the unpopulated road home. At which point A. decided to choose speed in favor of more temporary repairs and booked it home, roaring like a dragster and shooting sparks the whole way.

The agent at the border crossing was somewhat incredulous that they had driven all the way from Montreal in that condition, and just shook his head before waving them through to drive the last ten minutes home.

So now we have to get the Subaru fixed. But first we're bringing the Honda in on Wednesday to get some brake work done, because I could feel--and hear--that things were not quite right when I was driving home from the pediatrician's office last week. It needs new brakes in the back.

I am sorely tempted to give up on one of the cars and just go to a dealership and drive home a brand-new car that will not have been compromised by rust or 130,000 miles of driving. Maybe someday.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

After-the-Fact Empathy

My dad was a pilot in the Air Force, so when I was young he would occasionally have to be gone for weeks at a time on temporary duty. He went to Japan once, I remember, and once to Turkey.

I don't remember how old I was when he went to Turkey, but young enough that I told everyone my dad had gone to Chicken. To the everlasting amusement of my family.


In addition to that, we moved every three years--or more frequently--and he almost always went ahead of us to his new assignment to get a house set up for us. This meant that my mother was the sole parent for the last month or so of our time at our old house, and also that she often handled all the moving stuff and drove three little kids cross-country by herself.

I have no idea how the hell she did this.

Now that I'm a mother of small children myself, I can understand how incredibly difficult it is just to be the only parent at home, handling all of the meltdowns and the bedtimes and the book reading and the feeding and the other constant needsneedsneeds of kids. I can't imagine doing that and also packing up a house, dealing with emotional children leaving behind friends, and then driving long distances.*

I am thinking about all of this, of course, because A. has been gone for five days now. The MiL was here for part of that, but it's still been a long, long stretch of time alone with three children under six.

And so, from my older and wiser vantage point, I would now like to publicly acknowledge the fortitude of my mother--and all the mothers or fathers like her--who managed as a solo parent with some regularity. A round of applause and a salute with my (non-existent, because I'm too tired for alcohol) cocktail to her and them.

* In the days before portable DVD players, no less. We played a lot of Travel Battleship and checkers in the car. When we weren't fighting, that is.