Sunday, January 27, 2008

Tonight's recipe: our favorite chili

is Clyde's Famous Chili (click on 'recipes' and select 'Famous Chili'.)

Eric made it, as he almost always does (I have made it exactly once, and hereby declare the recipe 100% foolproof.) It's relatively fast, for chili, and delicious, and it was a huge hit with the discipleship group.

For some reason, I expected them to be reticent about food, or maybe about messy red food composed of dead animals. I had totally misjudged them. They dug in like...well, like theatre students at a wine and cheese reception. (That's quite a sight, believe me.)

Even Ian likes it! Ian, in fact, loves it, and will be more than happy to sit in your lap for hours and scam most of your bowlful. One bean at a time.

So go forth and make chili. That is my advice to you.

Blog Maintenance Department: I just fixed my 'stalk me' links. Go me.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

It is so good, so good you see!

About that macaroni and cheese from the other night: I am eating almost-the-last-bit right now, and it is not okay or pretty good, it is awesome. I will be making this once a week at least for the rest of our lives, our cheese budget (cheese budget?) will go to hell and my kid will weigh 200 lbs at his 36-month checkup AND I WILL NOT CARE.

something else awesome:

It's "Tupperware" (it's not actually Tupperware brand, it's Rubbermaid brand. You know what I mean, though - stuff for storing leftovers.)
It's FLAT.
It stores with the lid attached. In regular-depth drawers.
It seals perfectly.
It's translucent.
It even looks nice in the fridge.
You can buy it at the supermarket.

This is by far the most excellent kitchen product I have ever used. I got it for Christmas a year ago from my mom-in-law, and it's allowed me to get rid of a lot of my miscellaneous food storage junk with lids that, you know, pretty much fit....Now it's all Rubbermaid.

Edited to say: Through the wonders of the Internet, I find that I am not alone in my love for the Rubbermaid collapsibles. No less unlikely a forum that the discussion board has a topic devoted exclusively to praising this product.

Sometimes I think the world is getting weirder - which is to say, more interesting - by the minute.

Friday, January 25, 2008


The mac and cheese only seemed screwed up - it actually came out pretty good. I'll use sharper cheese next time. (And I'll try the 'don't bother to make white sauce' recipes left the comments. Actual conversation in the kitchen that night:

Husband: I know this will be good, but jeez, it sure seems like a lot of work for macaroni. Couldn't you just, like, put cheese on macaroni?

Me: Snort. Philistine. Please allow me to enlighten you about the importance of white sauce in baked dishes.

Husband: (backs away quietly when I turn to stir the SOLID BOULDERS OF FLOUR that have formed in my pan of hot grease.) (actually, to whap them with my wooden spoon. Repeatedly.) (It worked out eventually.)

Anyway, as I said, a little bland, but good -good texture, balanced, fairly light. Fluffy inside, chewy crust.

But why take my word for it? Let's hear from the experts:

World's Cutest Toddler: (Takes one handful and gasps, loudly enough that I worried that he had burned himself. He gaped at his father.) Oh, this is SO good!

Thanks, too, for your CSA input. No shares are available at the one farm near(ish) us. I'm looking up 'community gardening.'

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Is it any good? Sir, it's too good, at least.

Tonight I screwed up this recipe.

I KNOW! Hardly seems possible, does it? It's pretty much the recipe I learned in Home Ec in 1978. And yet, it's bubbling away in the oven, safe to eat but bland and rather hideous and NOT what Alton ordered. At all. Most decidedly, it will look nothing like this:


I am looking for a manageable recipe for mac and cheese, since Ian loves it (and in fact, so do Eric and I) but the stuff in the box is just gross - it smells like melting plastic to me. We grownups already have veins stuffed with trans fats and other non-food items, but Ian's relatively intact, so if I can find a recipe that I can cook and freeze in portions, I'll feel okay about that.

This may not be the recipe.

In other news, we saw Sweeney Todd today. Everything about it was done in a perfectly artful way, and beautiful, and yet I cannot quite say I enjoyed it. I appreciated it, but I spent two hours cringing, because I knew the story and people had said that it was shockingly bloody. And it is. It seems like Burton decided to play up the blood and squick out on the sex in the story (especially in the score), which is interesting to me.

The stars acquitted themselves quite respectably, and the supporting players were excellent. The vocals were quite good. Eric took issue with the physical choices for Todd and Antony, who, though they had spent years respectively in forced labor and at sea, affected walks that he called 'prancing' and 'mincing'. (And they were.) (I didn't notice during the film, but I must say he's right.)

I loved the costumes and all the art direction.

Also - Is that Michael Palin getting the closest shave? The internet is nearly silent on this vital point of information.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Incidentally, tonight's recipe: Banana Bread

Banana Bread.

Moosh 3 or 4 ripe bananas with your mixer (this should make more than a cup of very liquidy banana mooosh)

1 cup sugar,
1 egg
4 tablespoons butter, melted (but cooled so they don't cook the egg.)
Plus any spices or extracts.

In a separate bowl, mix together:
1.5 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda.
plus any dry additions like nuts or chocolate chips.

Drop the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir gently with a spatula. Don't overmix!!

Transfer to greased baking pan and bake at 325. In a loaf pan, this takes 45 min to 1 hour; I used muffin tins tonight, and it took less than 30 min.

question for the day:

Anybody know anything about CSA share farms?

I was reading a copy of Edible Chesapeake (not much at the magazine's site, but the blog has potential) that I picked up on my Friday Hamden adventure. There was a big article about community-sponsored agriculture - CSA farms, where a family could buy a 'share' in the year's crop.

I remember reading in someone's blog - maybe Brandy at loosetooth,com - about the thrill of picking up a little crate of fresh, ripe veggies every week, and the creativity of figuring out what to do with them. That sounds good to me, I thought! That would be a great thing for this summer!

But a Google search revealed: not much. If this is going to succeed for our family, I would need a pick-up spot that is really, truly convenient, one that requires very little 'going out of our way.' (Although, if we picked up on a Monday or a Friday, I could make the weekly trip to the farm a kid activity! That sounds wholesome and educational and like intentional living, doesn't it? Hmmmm...)

There seem to be quite a few in Maryland, but aside from Breezy Willow Farms, I can't find anything that's even vaguely close by. (Here's the best list I've found so far.)

Any advise or ideas would rock. Thnx.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

There is something, one specific condition of life, for which I have a huge, throbbing soft spot.

In fact, that's probably an understatement.

I'm a little obsessed.

I am a little obsessed with people who grew up in rural Pennsylvania (and, to a lesser extent, anyone who grew up in the rural Northeast) and turned out fabulous. Artistic, design-y, literary, eccentric, brilliant, cosmopolitan...just in any way interesting or sparkly.

Here's one:

Another big icon of I Survived Rural PA is, of course, Jay McCarroll, the first Project Runway winner.

Another is my friend Jon David (sadly, no pic.)

Of course I knew none of these men growing up. None of them lived anywhere near me (there's plenty of rural in Pennsylvania, it's a big state.) - Jon David and Jay are a decade younger than I, and I think Chip Kidd is too. (So, when you watch the video and see his astonishing graphic output, evidenced by the fact that he designed, like, EVERY BOOK COVER AND JACKET IN THE LAST 20 years, you can ponder what in the hell happened to your career.) (He writes novels too.) (They're good.) (The nerve of some people.)

I didn't know them, but I feel like I knew them. I feel a link to these men, so that if I passed Jay on the street, or met Chip at a party, he would not necessarily stop and hug me, but would glance into my eyes for a moment and then give me a look - I can't even describe the look I mean, just a look of understanding that passes anything that could be spoken of.

(Don't roll your eyes. I said I was obsessed. You must have known it was going to be weird.)

You know what my hometown is like? What it was like?

Rent Nobody's Fool.

it's set in New York, and it has not one thing to do with the place I grew up. Nothing like the events in the plot ever happened to anyone I know. But I have to tell you, no movie has ever replicated the feel of my home town like that one.

Incidentally, the same caveats apply to Wonder Boys; no one at Western Maryland College in the early 80s sold an undergraduate novel or fathered a child with the dean's wife or tried to seduce her English prof wearing red cowboy boots. Or shot a dog. To the best of my knowledge.

But that movie is what college felt like. To me.

Friday, January 18, 2008

embarrassing, yet oddly satisfying.

guess what i did today?

I smooshed my nose against the vinyl-obscured picture windows at Charm City Cakes.

We made such a self-c0ncious fangirl fuss that Mary Alice came out and gave us an eyeball. "Oh, hi," we said before dissolving into mortified giggles.

Because whenever I meet someone famous, I rush home to tell you about it.

By the way - What the HELL was this building before it was a production bakery/reality show set? It's been bothering me for 2 seasons, and seeing it in person did nothing to alleviate my curiosity.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Question: #544 What if Christ does not accept me as I am?

Answer: You are seriously jacked.

You can admire Mark Driscoll or hate him (I'm not a fan) (duh) but this is fascinating.

What I think is interesting:
1. The whole idea - not unique, but thought-provoking nonetheless

2. The content of the questions that won a place in the series.

3. Driscoll's blog responses to the process (click on 'what mark is thinking' to see)

What I wonder about:
1. The idea of leaving the question open to the whole internet, rather than asking the congregation who will be in the room for the series. I understand it, I think, but I don't know that it's the decision I would have made.

2. Is there a place to see all the questions, and how they ranked?

I also want to give props to the web designer - yeah, the video ('How this works' page) loads slow and plays jerky, but major background love! And the empty chair. Also love.

(Don't hate me! I am not commending Driscoll's theology or personal charm! I just like the peeling paint. The peeling paint is worthy of commendation.)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

couldn't be better

Sideshow Bennie, a friend of my sis-in-law, has consolidated his web writing into one big, photo-packed, funny, smart food blog.

Do not resist! Go to Side Show Bennie's Road Food!

what we've done to Christmas

The most accurate portrayal of the nativity that I've seen is in the film Children of Men. The movie tells of a not-so-distant future where people are no longer fertile, and humanity is gradually dying out. There are no babies, no children, and no hope.

As inevitable anarchy descends, communities and their cities are destroyed; allegiance and faithfulness fall away. Friendship, forgiveness and trust are quaint relics from the past. Then one day there's a whisper, an impossible rumour of a woman who is pregnant. As the rumour spreads, the world fights for ownership rights to the baby.

Towards the end of the story, the protector, mother and the crying newborn make their way to a place where the baby's survival can be guaranteed. The people fighting in the street hear the cry of a baby.

They can't work out what could be making that noise. They haven't heard that cry within living memory. But when they recognise it for what it is, they drop their weapons, they drop their guard, they even drop their determination to survive. Just for that moment, the world stands still.

Don't let a Christmas carol tell you otherwise: the cry of a baby when the world has been holding its breath is the most beautiful sound imaginable. It's perhaps the only sound that can ever change the world. Whatever chance we get, in whatever place we can, whether we choose Christianity as our faith or whether we visit it twice a year, all of us are called to seek out that cry and find where it might be born in the world.

Cheryl Lawrie works for the Alternative Worship Project in the Uniting Church in Australia

go read the rest - The Age is a daily newspaper in Melbourne, Australia; Cheryl Lawrie's blog is [hold :: this space] where she posts amazing liturgy and poetry from her work creating worship in prisons and hospitals.

Reading her blog reminds me that this work is real...that facilitating worship and bringing people the sacraments is really precious, not just to me, but in reality. That communion isn't, you know, the garnish on the spiritual meal (where the meat is service and study...)

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Is it really possible that we have 4 snowshovels and no rake? Really?

(I decided that it would be a kindness to our neighbors, some of whom are showing their house, if I cut down and hauled away the most obviously dead of the tropicals from our front 'flowerbed.' So I clipped, and hauled much of the brown stuff away to the woods - but the rest will require a rake. How can we not have a rake? We have a YARD. We have TREES. They make LEAVES.)

On the other hand, we don't have a mower, and that works out fine.

It's not like I want to be in a position of using a rake regularly.
It just seems odd, is all I'm saying.

I also dispensed with the pumpkin. The Halloween pumpkin. I'm sure the squirrels will enjoy eating it in the creekbed just as much as they have on the porch.

I want to point out, to their credit, that our neighbors do not seem to hate us. At all. Despite all this.

I am home with Barf Boy, who has not barfed in more than 28 hours. He's down for a nap, which gave me a chance for a few minutes of house maintenance (also threw in a load of laundry.) I have to get him up soon...

more domestic mysteries: if a family has 3 rubbermaid bins of Christmas decor, and used at least one-and-a-half bins worth (the unbreakable portion) for this year's celebration, why, when I go down to the basement to get something to put stuff away in, ARE THERE THREE OBSERVABLY FULL BINS???

Today's recipe: beef stew in the crock pot. After reading recipes at and other sites, I decided that you could pretty much chuck WHATEVER into a crock pot with some stock and some wine and be able to dish dinner out of it in 7 hours. I'll let you know if this is true.

[edited to add: apparently, YES! $2 worth of meat, some sprouted root vegetables, and a little icky zinfandel + 7 hours = delicious! It's like magic!]

Later tonight, I will go on my neglected mommyblog and tell you The Happy Tale of A Boy and his Lobster.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

something pretty

from, where I am auditioning color combinations for knitting inspiration.


...I was taught to be skeptical of the body, its aptitude for failure, its tendency toward disappointment and even danger. Don’t love your body—love your mind, your good will, your spirit. Your body, left to its own designs, will lure you into too much leisure, too much pleasure, too much selfish living. And at this time of year especially, resolve to tame the body’s undisciplined wildness.

And then fail. Feel shame. Make an uneasy peace. Buckle down and try again. I’ve always wondered, when Jesus’ closest friends began to be thought of as his body, was it a punishing, distrusting relationship they had in mind, or a depth of love for self and the rest of us that I can barely imagine?

Kayla’s typical body resolutions:

1. Lose weight.
2. Walk more.
3. Eat healthier.
4. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
5. Blah, blah, blah….

Jesus’ typical body resolutions:

1. Have a radically loving relationship with my body.
2. Treat my body as both treasure and vessel.
3. Be a faithful companion to my body as we act in ways worthy of who God created us to be.
4. Enjoy my body. Stretch us beyond what we think we’re capable of.
5. Let my body take me even where I’d rather not go, if God calls us there

- My Body, for You by Kayla McClurg

On Church of the Savior's lovely and thought-provoking blog, Inward/Outward.
(You should get their daily email feed.)

Monday, January 07, 2008

My kind of recipe site

Do y'all know about this?
Pick a recipe from the recipe file, click on the 'printer-friendly' option, and be dazzled by what seems to me perfection in the recipe writing arena:
clear, step-by-step instructions, illustrated with clear photos.

I am making a special surprise dessert from a friend's birthday, and the recipe on this site is the one I am using. I don't want to mention the recipe itself, for fear of spoiling the surprise, but I will give one hint:

I am making a dessert that will require a trip to the hardware store.
In fact, the hardware superstore.

Anyway, tip of the hat to Michael Chu, who is a good writer, apparently a good cook, and has a really good idea for a website.

not what I am making for the birthday.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

I am now the oldest non-perv with a facebook account.

This is all Stacie's fault.
These are great.