Friday, December 17, 2010

Holiday Break

yeah, like I haven't been on a break from blogging for most of the last 3 months.

Anyway, the family does have a joint holiday blog. I'm posting most of my bayberry-scented smart remarks over there at the moment.

In the past, we have found it nearly impossible to stop adding to/revising our 'Christmas letter' - so now we don't have to. We're saving trees. And stamps. And my sanity, which is in such short supply at this time of year.

Anyway:

www.mitchellhenning.blogspot.com.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Recipe: Echiladas

A friend was decluttering, and gave me a giant stack of Cooking Light magazines - maybe 4 years worth. So many that at least half of them are still stacked in my office at work. From the stack that has already come home, I was intrigued by this recipe from 2006.

I don't actually know much about enchiladas. I've never made them, I don't generally order them in restaurants, though apparently our fav place has good ones. But for some reason, I got weirdly fixated on the idea of making a pan of enchiladas.

I kept running out of this and that, and, happily, kept getting invited out to dinner, which I never turn down. But last night, having fed the kid his requested pasta, I decided to go ahead. We had 2 tortilla. We had a rotisserie chicken that was passing its prime. So, inspired by Cooking Light, I present:

Half-Assed Enchiladas


Preheat your oven to 350°.

Heat your cast-iron skillet, and squirt it with cooking spray. Cook a huge sliced onion for 5 minutes or more, until tender.

Add some cooked chicken, a couple cloves of chopped garlic, a small can of tomatoes, with their juice, and chilis.

The chilis are important. I had one can of pickled jalapenos, that looked like this:

they are tasty. They are HOT. This can is 11 oz; the recipe calls for 8 ounces. As you can guess, I used the whole can.

I recommend you use less than 11 oz of chilis.

Anyway, turn the heat down a little and simmer about 10 minutes.

Combine 2 cups milk and 2 tablespoons flour in a small pot with a little salt. Cook over medium-high heat about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. You're waitning for it to thicken, and it seems like it never will, but then all of a sudden it does. Take off the pan off the heat.

Lay a 8-inch tortilla on a plate. Spoon some of the chicken/onion/tomato/jalapeno stuff done the middle, add some shredded cheese (not much - a medium sprinkle.) You'll end up with 6 of these.

Roll each tortilla and line them up, flappy side down, in a baking dish. (if you only have 2 tortillas, like I did last night. you can use a pie pan.) Pour the milk mixture over tortilla lineup (you won't need it all if all you have is a pie pan.) Drop more shredded cheese over the top of everything, covering evenly. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or more - until cheese is bubbly.

If the cheese isn't brown after 25 minutes, you can run these under the broiler for 2 minutes or so.

These were really really good. I was shocked, they were so good. They were sinus-clearingly spicy, and next time I make them, I believe I will use the recommended 8 oz. But we ate every bite and are anxious to make them again. Eric declared them "as good as anything I've had in a restaurant." So, half-assed pantry enchiladas for the Epic Win.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The political trail may be littered with mud, lies, shouting, and personal attacks — but the polling place is sacrosanct. Here, we come to do our patriotic duty and exercise our precious right to vote. We don't come to argue, debate, or demean one another. Here, in hushed tones, we outdo one another in showing honor."


CANDACE CHELLEW-HODGE, Polling Place as Sacred Ground, posted on Religion Dispatches

God bless the election. (And God bless the election judges, on their feet for 12 hours and more, welcoming, helping, protecting, making sure. Polls here close at 8pm.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Fabulous Story about my Glamorous Life in Vocational Ministry in which I am shown in the Best Possible Light.

So, picture this scene. I'm at work, which is to say, church, on Wednesday afternoon. I'm just about on time to get out of the office and go pick up my kid, and as I run out the door and hop into the car, my phone rings in my back pocket.

I wriggle around, contorting to answer the phone. It's my husband. He has phoned me up to ask if I know where our duct tape is. Toolbox? Kitchen junk drawer? (His guess, as always, is as good as mine.)

Since I don't have much confidence in our ability to find what we need at the apartment, I slip back into the church building to borrow a roll of tape. It's in the sound booth, at the back of the sanctuary.

As I walk through the building to the booth, I continue the phone conversation with my husband. He told me why he needed the tape. As it turns out, a day or so earlier, my husband got himself a new prop for a magic effect. It is something handcrafted, rather technical, quite expensive, and terribly terribly delicate.

yes, indeed, it broke.

Joining him in his stress and irritation, I asked him a rhetorical question.

If you had overheard my side of the conversation, it would have sounded something like this:

"Umm hmmmmmm...

Ummm hmmmmmmm.... (punctuated with the slamming of cabinet doors and drawers as I search for tape in the booth.)

Really?

REALLY? Are you kidding me? And just what sort of fucking cheapass piece of shit is this, that breaks the very first fucking time one fucking rehearses with it?"


and it was then that I heard voices. Quiet, polite voices.

Prayerful voices.

Yes indeed, I was banging doors and snarling profanities into my phone while two people were holding a counseling appointment in the sanctuary. I didn't see them, and they didn't see me.

They certainly did hear me.


I stayed long enough to apologize to the boss. He, of course, thought nothing of it, and was very gracious, as he always is.

But dude.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

"For Halloween, I'm going to be a skeleton, except with spider legs, a lizardman tail, and the speed of wolves. And teeth."
Ian's now showing his anteater to androgynous emo kid (skinny jeans, converse, dyed black shag.) He's making it talk to him/her. And expecting a response.
Ian to stoner teens at the playground: "I have a Batmobile and an anteater. I also have a Spiderman comic with Doc Oc and of course his greatest enemy, Sandman"

Monday, October 04, 2010

recipe: pumpkin cookies!


I made these pumpkin cookies last night. They are kind of weird - they have a texture unlike any other cookie I've ever made. They're soft and fluffy, only a tiny bit chewy around the edges, but very smooth. Someone on allrecipes compared them to muffintops, but they don't rise or have a bubbly crumb.

I added quite a lot of spices - ground cloves and ginger,allspice. Next time I make them (and I have most of a can of pumpkin left, so I imagine it won't be long) I think I'll try adding some fresh ginger and some walnuts. I'll report back.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What I Did This Week.

I know I haven't been posting much lately. We're all moved in, though, tragically, not quite all moved out yet. We have about 2 weeks.

I do have a couple of accomplishments - 3 of these chairs, to start with. I re-covered the icky stained beige fabric seats on these chairs - you can see one to the left, with my staple gun on it - and I am so pleased with the way they came out, I can hardly contain myself. I want to carry photos of them in my wallet and show them to strangers.

I had planned to use a solid red twill on the seats; they would have played off the painted twine seats on the two ladderback chairs that I finished back in 1992, our first year in our old house. The ladderback chairs look really great in our new apartment, so I thought I'd continue the theme.

But when I got to the fabric store, this riotous print jumped into the cart and wouldn't get out. Hmmm, I thought, it has yellow - and the table and wall are pale yellow. (As you can see in the photo.) It has pale blue..and the walls in the kitchen are pale blue! Plus it has red! Plus...well, I mean, just look at it. On the bolt, it's obviously either a stroke of genius or an unmitigated disaster,

You may not believe this, but it was quite weird for me, unusually daring, to pick the print.

You know what else I did yesterday? I bought a dress.

And I wore it to work today.

Monday, August 30, 2010

okay, enough with the suspense - we are moving. Across town.

We are in the midst of giving away about 50% of the stuff in our house. The Salvation Army is planning a new drop-off center just for us.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

here's me



created by internet champion Allie Brosh of Hyperbole and a Half.

my adventure is apparently coming in stages. This stage involves faxes and garbage bags.

Lots of faxes.

and LOTS of garbage bags.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dinner tonight - sweet potato soup.

Seriously, this came out really really good.

Cut the ends off a peeled Vidalia onion. Quarter it and then roughly chop it.
Peel a pretty big chunk - about the size of two thumbs - of ginger. Chop that.

Heat a cast iron skillet, film it generously with olive oil, and drop in the onion and ginger. Add a couple tablespoons of good curry powder (mine was hot) and turn the heat down to about 7. Give it a good stir.

Peel and chop 2 large sweet potatoes. (Take a break in the middle to stir the onion mixture so it doesn't burn.) Drop the potato chunks into the pan, stir everything together, let it cook for about a minute. Pour water into the pan, enough to mostly cover the vegetation, and cover the pan.

Leave it alone, boiling insanely, for a few minute. Even if the cover's tight, some steam will escape, so check back and make sure it doesn't boil dry. The stuff is ready when the potatoes pierce easily with a table fork.

Scrape the stuff from the pan into a food processor, and puree until very smooth.

Transfer to a saucepan, and warm gently, stirring in some skim milk. Perhaps some butter or salt. Or more curry powder, if you were timid before.

This will look troublingly like Jell-o brand instant butterscotch pudding. And it's a little washing-up intensive, with 2 pans, plus the processor, not to mention various knives/blades/boards/turner/ladle. But it's super, super fast, nutritious, and really delicious.


edited to add: here I had posted an extremely festive picture of some butterscotch pudding, which had been featured on the cover of the 1958-or-so cookbook, Gay Ways with Jell-O. But it isn't staying put. The Jell-O people must be having copyright issues. So sorry.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I've got issues.

I wanted to spiff up the place, but recent "improvements" to Blogger have given me the choice of 'plain ugly' (which I have settled on for the moment) and "way way way too distractingly busy ugly" (which has been my theme for the past month or so, until tonight.)

I need to figure out how to get my old template back.

Thanks for your patience.
Today is my first Godchild's birthday. Not her first birthday, which I celebrated with her. Her 17th birthday, which I celebrated 'with' her via Facebook.

Tomorrow is my blogiversary, which I celebrated by starting yet another blog. I guess, counting
my 2 LiveJournal starter blogs, Funky Fat Girl and Life With Sticky
my blogger blogs, this one, The Mulligan Years (On which i have not posted in more than a year and yet I keep thinking it's still a real blog), our "Christmas Newsletter" blog to which we post less than once a year, and now my hipster sell-out product recommendation blog, Extra-Fabulous...okay, seriously, why aren't I more famous?

Anyway, Happy 7th Blogiversary to me. And to you. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hello?

we should just quit now while we're ahead.

Ian said this morning:
"Watching shows is boring. DOING shows is fun."

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Dinner Tonight: beans and cornbread in the crock pot


So we have this great crock pot, right? Actually, we have 2; for years, we've had a 1970 harvest gold one that belonged to Eric's family, and it still works fine.

But more recently, a friend of mine was upgrading to a more technical crock, and he gave me his excellent cooker. It looks like this:

(Well, said another friend, if you're ever called upon to make curry in a duck blind, or a tree stand, you're totally ready. )

Anyway, I made some really good beans tonight, and I wanted to tell you how to make them. I based them on a recipe in a magazine, and they're quite related to this recipe, but of course I had to do my own thing.

Place in slow cooker:
2 vidalia onions, sliced thin
2 peppers (I had a red and a yellow), sliced thin
Open a large can of beans (mine were Goya pink beans, 19+ oz) and rinse them really well, God only knows what that stuff in the can is. Add the beans to the pot.
Season with: 1 teaspoon cumin,
3 Tablespoons hot sauce,
as much leftover salsa as you have sitting around in jars in the back of the fridge,
frozen corn kernels (up to a whole bag),
2 Tablespoons brown sugar. Stir everything together and cook on low for 4-6 hours (or more.)

When you get home, check on the beans. Taste to adjust the seasonings - I added a splatter of ketchup and a small can of black beans. I also threw in a couple handfuls of greens. Stir. Turn the cooker up to high.

Now, mix up a batch of cornbread batter. I used Betty Crocker mix, which I picked because it didn't have trans fats.

While the batter thickens, sprinkle some shredded cheese on top of the beans. Then pour the batter on top of everything, spread it around, and cover the cooker. Cook on high until the cornbread bakes - it won't get fluffy, more like spoon bread than baked or skillet-ed cornbread - but it will solidify so that a knife poked into the center will come out mostly clean.

Not a low calorie meal, but meatless and very very satisfying. We loved it. I don't think I would have missed the cheese if I had skipped it, so no cheese next time.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Friday, July 02, 2010

DUDE DUDE DUDE more random thoughts

1. hey, my uterus - seriously, wtf?

2. One of my goddaughters has announced that, as regards the Twilight Saga, she is "Team Guy Who Tried To Run Over Bella With His Car." I say, go Maeghan.

3. I think "Your Baby Can Read" products would more honestly be called "YOUR Baby Can't Read, because of your cheapass Parenting FAIL, so SEND US MONEY resistance is futile give the fuck up already." To which I reply: Never!

4. Last Airbender cartoon FTW. Voice work, animation, art, story - all terrific.
That fact becomes even clearer as I watch Dragonball Z Kai for the first time. Lord, this is undefendible crap. Worse than Pokemon.

5. Ian ran into the kitchen this morning as Eric and I were having lunch.
Ian: Can I have the fighting, attacking Zhu Zhu Pets?
Me: Like the battling armored Kung Zhu hamsters?
Ian: YEAH!!
Eric: Maybe.
Me: Yeah, we'll see.
Ian: I want the one that's part of an angry mob.
Me: Pardon me?
Ian: The angry mob one. It has a pitchfork.

6. It's 8:30. Perhaps we should eat dinner.

EDITED AT ADD: Incidentally, taking a big plastic cup of shiraz to the playground = WIN.

100% guaranteed true

Ian: When i close my eyes, all I can see is the dark.

Me: yep, that's to be expected.

Ian:....the dark, and the Crab and Lobster Army.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

tonight's dinner, an accident and an experiment.

1. I'm so relieved that my laptop and wireless card have mysteriously begun working again that I am afraid to turn the computer off. Ever.

2. Tonight's dinner (you won't believe it):

wheat berries
stir-fried baby bok choy with garlic and peppers
marinated, grilled, sesame-crusted tofu.

a. wheat berries:

I took what I thought was a bag of brown rice from the freezer (I'm a freak, I keep all kinds of things in the freezer.) (you can see from the picture how I could mistake this for brown rice, right? ) Anyway, medium saucepan, 2 cups cold water, one cup "rice", boil over high heat and then cover and drop the heat until the water's mostly gone. You know, like you were making rice. I have no idea if this is the recommended way to cook wheat berries, but it worked great. I loved them. I never remember making them before, but there they were, in my freezer. But I like them a lot.

"They're very chewy," muttered Eric through the chewing. "Tasty. And chewy." Right on both counts.





b. stir fried greens:

(that would be what they looked like if you cooked them without chopping them up. )


slice garlic cloves, chop greens. Heat a frying pan (I have never gotten the hang of the wok, sadly, despite having had several over the years.) Film with neutral oil (like, vegetable rather than olive.) Cook garlic for 3-4 minutes until it starts to brown JUST A TINY BIT. Add greens. Keep stirring.

Note: Huge amounts of raw greens will cook down to nearly nothing. Plan on chopping a completely ridiculous amount, or your portions, though tasty, will be invisible to the naked eye.

Also Note: Please do a better job washing your bok choy than I did. It's kind of like leeks, in terms of grit retention.





c. Tofu.
(This is pretty close to what it actually looked like.)



Today, because it was on sale and because we are on this wacked-out vegetarian kick, I bought some tofu. It was pre-packaged, in the conventional white-people chain supermarket, two qualities that a Korean co-worker warned me against, but I bought it anyway. The label said it was made from sprouted soybeans, and was more nutritious. Whatever; it was packaged in a manageable-sized package (my health kicks are traditionally marked by a good deal of thrown-out tofu) and it was on sale.

It was much better, in flavor and texture, than the national-brand stuff I have bought in the past. Score one for the supermarket! (i almost said "Score one for the white people!" But that just seemed inappropriate, in some way I can't put my finger on exactly.)

I opened a package, drained it briefly but did not squish the fluid out as I usually do. I sliced it into patties and marinated them briefly (less than 10 minutes) in a mixture of Asian vinegar, honey, black pepper, soy sauce, ONE drop of fish sauce and about one drop of sesame oil.

When I removed the patties from the marinade, I dredged them in sesame seeds (which I keep in the FREEZER) and grilled them on the well-oiled George Foreman.

despite the oiling, this led to a lot of well-cooked sesame seeds stuck to the Foreman, which has surrendered its non-stick coating.

I boiled the left-over marinade in the microwave, hoping to reduce it (it didn't seem to reduce at all) and splashed some over the finished tofu patties.

This wasn't completely perfect, but I am pretty damned pleased with myself for making it up, completely off the top of my head, and having it turn out so well.

I squeezed a lemon over the whole plate.

Seriously. It was actually very good. Lots of different textures and flavors: the chewy, popping wheat berries, the crunchy and grill-marked tofu, the slippery greens with some still-crisp stalks, the brightness of the lemon, the depth of the soy and fish sauce...the seasonings need work, and Eric gave up on the wheat berries eventually (his jaw was tired), but definitely a worthwhile experiment.

The success of the experiment was helped by the fact that Eric had the Veria channel on in the background all afternoon, and had just seen an hour-long cooking show all about quinoa. I think this paved the way for the accidental wheat berries.

Eric is off to the natural foods market tomorrow, without me, so God only knows what we'll be eating in next week. I am encouraged and apprehensive in equal amounts.

Monday, June 28, 2010

two completely fabulous things I found on the internet today:



That was tonight's dinner. That's her photo - our dinner was not as pretty, but just as delicious. I am a huge fan of Heidi Swanson's 101 Cookbooks site,and I think you should be too.


and




I am somewhat weirded out by the way Allie Brosh, in her blog Hyperbole and a Half, not only describes how I often feel but, in fact, ILLUSTRATES IT.


"[after a couple days of accomplishment] What usually ends up happening is that I completely wear myself out. Thinking that I've earned it, I give myself permission to slack off for a while and recover. Since I've exceeded my capacity for responsibility in such a dramatic fashion, I end up needing to take more recovery time than usual. This is when the guilt-spiral starts.

The longer I procrastinate on returning phone calls and emails, the more guilty I feel about it. The guilt I feel causes me to avoid the issue further, which only leads to more guilt and more procrastination. It gets to the point where I don't email someone for fear of reminding them that they emailed me and thus giving them a reason to be disappointed in me.

Then the guilt from my ignored responsibilities grows so large that merely carrying it around with me feels like a huge responsibility. It takes up a sizable portion of my capacity, leaving me almost completely useless for anything other than consuming nachos and surfing the internet like an attention-deficient squirrel on PCP."
.
Dude, seriously. That's my life. That's been my life for as long as I can remember, and I have never been able to tell anyone about it so clearly or completely. I've been able to let go of some of the guilt and regret about it in the last couple of years (I think I'm a lot older than Allie, and I think advancing age helps you say "ah, fuck it" more easily). But over the last year I've been learning things about myself that have helped me come to grips with that, that STUFF, the fact that the inside of my brain is what she puts into words.



so go read that.

Friday, June 18, 2010

still alive.

Haven't been able to blog much lately, which may well be for the best:

computer broken (I think it's the wireless card AGAIN)

brain broken (by a summer cold, blah)

pre-schooler has broken into my toolbox, which will be NO END OF TROUBLE. Now I have to either padlock it, or find a new place to hide it.

garbage disposal has been leaking a little, and as of today is leaking A LOT. ick, ick, ick.

hung up the hammock today, and nearly killed myself getting into it. Apparently I have been knitting so long that the only knot I remember how to make is a slip knot. Pffft.



AND YET it must be said that, even though practically everything around me at the moment seems to be somewhat damaged, or at least in need a good wipe and maybe some hand sanitizer...









i am working on an adventure.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

jeez, I wish I had something to write about.
I'm knitting something kinda cool.
work's going okay.
Where are all those sites about which I said "Oooh, I should blog that!"?

Monday, May 17, 2010

It's never good news when you're in the bathroom shouting "Aim! AIM!!"

we've recently convinced our son to start sleeping in his own room, rather than wedged in between me and Eric.

Tonight, he went down after 8, nearly without incident. A few minutes ago, I heard him crying quietly, and when he kept it up for a couple of minutes, I went upstairs to see what was wrong.

He was in one of those half-awake states, running in circles and crying, eyes open, slapping the front of his pajama bottoms. Ooops, I said to myself. I know what that means.

"You have to go, don'tcha, dude?" I ask, but he can't actually hear me. I take him my the arm and start to hustle him to the bathroom.

He decides he's already IN the bathroom and starts to remove his jammies.
I tug them back up and hustle with renewed focus.

When he has to go really bad, even when he's fully awake, he panics and forgets the procedure. I got him to stop hopping up and down, and got him positioned in front of the toilet. His aim, which is Olympic-marksman perfect under other circumstances, is a little off, and he sprays down the room before getting things under control. He's still crying softly.

After cleaning him up, I wipe up the floor and wall, and Ian starts to giggle. And I start to giggle. We sit on the moderately icky tile floor and laugh until we can't walk, can't stand up, can't breathe. He creeps into my lap and we cling to each other, trying to catch our breath.

He's asleep again before his head hits the pillow.

Friday, April 30, 2010

mother of the year

Hi there. I'm at the New Wave IHOP, one of Laurel's landmarks, and the site of several very significant events in my life and the life of our little family. It was here Eric and I spent several of the hours of our first post-college date, here I wrote a journal entry that was the first writing I ever shared, here we celebrated Ian's first birthday and, I think, Sandy's 40th.

And right now, it's where Ian is sleeping. He is so completely laid out that I am tempted to hold a butterknife under his nose, to make sure his breath fogs it up.

I have finished my crepes (and a certain percentage of his 'kids eat free' pancake) and written in my paper journal. And now i'm thumbin' away on my Blackberry. Next: a few more rows on the shawl I started (and started over, and started over again.) Can I watch Hulu on this thing? If I can catch up on Glee while this waitress bring me iced tea, we may never have to leave.

My original intent was to confess what a crap parent I am, happy to let my kid sleep, sweat-pasted to a vinyl restaurant booth, while I people-watch and write and swill iced tea, possibly until well after dark.

Restaurants (inexpensive ones) (I'm actually guessing, my experience in fancy restaurants remains limited) are such an interesting study in family dynamics. Back when Eric used to do a call-in radio show, and sometimes meet clients afterwards, I spent many happy hours in the deli near the radio station. I'd munch on pickles and pretend to read a library book...and evesdrop. Perhaps this made me the neglectful mother I am today. Er, tonight.

The dad at the next booth is also thumbing madly, cradling his head in the other hand. His infant is awake, but can't do much.

And someone at a nearby table is digging into some unidentifiable entree that smells very unfortunate. I'm not sure the quality of peoplewatching is a fair trade for having to smell that. (This from a woman who routinely roasts a pound of Brussels sprouts for just herself.)

So to recap: evesdropper, cook (and enthusiastic eater) of stinky vegetables, helps herself to her sleeping child's pancake, loves indefensible 80s pop music, Mother of the year.

Good tipper, though.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

corduroy

everything has changed
absolutely nothing's changed

Sunday, April 25, 2010

It's been a month. Have some cake.

At the moment:
the kid is sick.
the husband is at the grocery.
I am covered with paint.
Also chocolate.

(I scraped a little something off my shirt and licked my finger a moment ago, not thinking that it might have been acrylic rather than cake batter. I lucked out.)

THIS is my favorite cake recipe, combining, as it does, ease, pantry ingredients, deliciousness and fanciness.

I found this in a La Madeleine cookbook that my brother gave me years ago. As near as I can tell, this book is not currently available (which is kind of a drag, because it's quite good and I can't find my copy, but it does make me feel better about putting the recipe here.)

Cake Tres Simple

Put some water on to boil, and preheat the oven to 400.

In addition to a cake pan and a couple of bowls, you'll need a large pan to use as a bain marie, some parchment or foil, and a spoon rest.

Put 2 sticks of butter and 9 oz of chocolate in a bowl. (I usually combine a cup of chocolate chips with 3 oz of unsweetened baking chocolate.) Melt this by nuking 30 seconds, stirring with a fork of a minute or so, and repeating until its completely smooth and liquid.

Transfer this to the bowl of your mixer, if you have one. Mix in:
4 eggs (one at a time)
then 1 cup of sugar (a quarter cup at a time)
then 3/4 cup of flour (also a quarter cup at a time.) Scrape down the sides and mix one more time.

To prepare the pan - butter a cake pan, and cut a circle of parchment or foil to fit the bottom of the pan. Dust the pan with cocoa (FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE, DO THIS OVER THE SINK. SERIOUSLY.) Transfer the batter into the cake pan - it's thicker than regular batter, you'll have to spread it in the pan.

When the oven is ready, put the larger bain marie pan on a middle rack, pour in about an inch of hot water, then gently place the filled cake pan in it.

Bake for 25 minutes, then start checking. The cake forms sort of a 'crust' on the outside, while the inside stays a little gooey (in a good way.) A knife or toothpick should come out mostly clean. It'll be done somewhere between 30 and 50 minutes.

Ideally, you would let this cool completely in the pan, and let it rest overnight. To serve, unmold it onto a plate, gently peel off the parchment, and dust with powdered sugar.

This is a serious cake.

Friday, March 26, 2010

I can't get this funny thing to embed properly, so you'll have to go here and watch it.

Please do.

via @scottmccloud

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Friday, March 19, 2010

You can read it in the Sunday Papers...

So a blogger I enjoy, Alice, who writes Finslippy, now has a regular column in the women's magazine Redbook and at Redbookmag.com. Because I find her to be a stitch - does anyone say that anymore, to characterize someone who is witty? I bet not even old people say that anymore - at any rate, she's just a stitch, so upon seeing that she was writing for a real live magazine, I surfed right over to read her first column.

It made me laugh out loud, and was a fitting evocation of an experience I had all the time when Ian was younger, when, out of sheer exuberance and poor depth perception, he would routinely smack us. Really hard!! With no aggression or malice - more as a greeting! Or to say thank you! My dentist informs me that one of my teeth - the one that still tingles randomly, a year later - bears the marks of 'trauma'. Perhaps a head-butt. I can't even remember an impact from around that time, but it wouldn't surprise me one bit.

Dude, the day I have to get a root canal, that child had better be hand-puree-ing my food, fluffing my pillows and standing at the ready with the Percoset 24 hours a day.

Anyway, I'm an older lady now, and occasionally I need things like moisturizer recommendations and slow-cooker recipes, so I poked around the Redbook website for a few minutes.

Something I didn't know: Redbook is a veritable fount of, get this, sex advice. (They just don't put it on their cover like Cosmo does.)

I noticed this, since there's a block of links at the bottom of this page, and the first category is "sex and love". But the second link stopped me in my tracks:

"New sex positions".

REALLY? Are there really literally new sex positions? Are they new to the editors? New to (gulp) me? They might be, but I cannot imagine that there are actually any NEW sex positions.

And of course, being a new-wave girl, I now have Joe Jackson poundung in my head.

The volume's a little low on this clip. So, um, pump up the volume or whatever.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

fainting from the lovliness:




and if that wasn't enough:





via @knitthecity, via adfreak

Monday, March 15, 2010

Dinner tonight - a pretty, good salad.

We went out to breakfast today, and Eric and I each ate a huge plate of SOMETHING NO ONE SHOULD EVER EAT - mine included cheese, bacon, sour cream, potatoes, and 2 fried eggs with runny yolks.

It was absolutely delicious.

I spent the day mentally running through the signs of stroke and cardiac arrest.

So for dinner, we had a really pretty salad.

Microwave a huge sweet potato for about 8 minutes. It should be cooked but not totally cooked.

dice a red bell pepper.

peel a carrot, discard the peels and then keep peeling, so you end up with wide, translucent ribbons of carrot.

Once the microwave dings, leave the sweet potato alone for a while. Then, holding it with an oven mitt, slice the peel off and carefully dice the sweet potato. Throw all those veggies in a bowl.

Make a vinagrette. Mine contained apple cider vinegar, olive oil, orange juice, salt, pepper, sugar, and a squirt of Dijon mustard.

Pour the vinegrette over the red and orange veggies in the bowl; add the green parts of 2 spring onions, clipped small. Let this sit for 5-10 minutes.

Open a can of chick peas and rinse and drain them.

Using dinner plates, plate some butter lettuce (mine was a Salad Express bagged mix, and it was really good!) Add a large portion of chick peas, and a couple serving-spoon-fuls of the red and orange mixture. Serve.

It's gorgeous, and a great mix of textures and tastes, plus it's a really balanced meal because of the chick peas.

How my life has been for the last 4 years:

I sat down after dinner, in the comfy chair in the living room.
I closed my eyes.
40 seconds or so went by.
I could feel my son crawl up into my lap.

He crouched on my left thigh, and, very gingerly, with his thumb and forefinger, and pulled my eyelid open, so he could stare into my eye.

"Um, hi," I said.

"Hi, Mom." He said it in a heartfelt way, as if he'd been expecting me, as if I had just arrived to visit him at his apartment.

And I thought, there is it. There is my life, the last 5 years of my life, and presumably the next 15 or 20, all condensed into a single minute.

I was awful to him today - short-tempered, sarcastic, crabby. To be fair, he was pretty obnoxious too; as much as we enjoy cartoons together, he's picking up some phrases and inflections that are pretty unbecoming for a 4-year-old. I think we need to cool it on the animated smartasses.

I love him. I'm so proud of him, so fascinated by him, so astonished by him, and so so so so sick of him.

I'm embarrassed that I'm not more embarrassed by that. But not enough to backspace over it.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Confession Time:

would you believe that I am fb chatting with my bff ABOUT CELEBRITIES STRETCH MARKS?

I am ashamed.

Jesus loves me anyway, but jeez.

Friday, March 05, 2010

I am now 48.

Or, as I said to Carl the other day, 18 - with 3 decades of experience.

Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come - just in the past 5 or so years, in fact - and I think that, including everything, I am probably the happiest I have ever been.

Tomorrow night - a movie, in an actual movie theatre! With my actual husband!

And then dinner! A dinner at which no one will offer us a paper placemat or a package of cellophane-bagged crayons. No juice boxes will be produced from my giant, magical carpet bag.

In fact, I will leave my tiger-striped Mary Poppins bag in the closet. I will carry a tiny clutch. With no plastic dinosaurs in it.

(and I will sit at a table in a restaurant, mooning over some stranger's baby. Just watch. I can practically guarantee it.)

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

graphic c. 2009, core77, from here. All rights reserved, I'm sorry, please don't sue me.


My birthday's coming up this week, and I just wanted to commemorate this aspect of my life.

I started journaling in earnest - after a few false starts and assigned class projects in high school - on my birthday, 15 years ago. I don't write every day (by a damn sight) and I don't write in tremendous volume, but for the last 15 years, I have never been without a notebook to catch my most boring, mundane, totally-not-worth-sharing thoughts and feelings, sketches of outfits I've seen, designs for bags, sweaters, and completely unwearable tops, jokes, book titles (ones that I want to read and ones that I want to write), notes about great dishes I've eaten, indecipherable diagrams, sarcastic cartoons during sincere ministry meetings, and the fortunes from a hundred cookies.

I was about to write about how 'journaling has kept me sane."

But, since I filled my prescriptions today, I'm reminded that that would not be technically true.

Nonetheless, I want to say that there is something of inestimable value is honoring your story by writing it down, especially if you expect that no one else will ever see it. That, in this world, someone cares what you think - even if it's just you.

So this is my advice to you. Get a notebook. Get a decent pen. Carry it around. Write shit down. Process stuff on the page. Bitch about your spouse. Worship your dry cleaner. Write about your sex life. You don't have to be fair, and it doesn't have to make sense, not even to you, if you were to read it later. You don't have to read it later. Draw your terrible, terrible pictures that would mortify your elementary school art teacher. If you're really into it, you can carry colored pencils and a glue stick, like I do.

It really will make a difference.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"I think that cheese might have died in that cottage."
I am obsessed with Fanboy and ChumChum.
Testing my mobile blogger. Did a 'yoga for beginners' dvd routine tonight. Used to pride myself on my flexibility. Um, not now. Maybe again, but not now.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Unlikely and Awesome.

Last night, I made the most awesome-smelling foodstuff I have ever made - a kind of garlic-basil pesto, which came about when I filled my mini-food-processor (YES I have 2 food processors. I got this little one, a cuisineart mini-prep, for making baby food; my brother gave me its big sister for Christmas a couple years ago.) Anyway, whiz up about 10 cloves of garlic, peeled, a big handful of basil leaves (I buy the fresh and keep them in the freezer). about a tablespoon of sea salt, about a teaspoon of peppercorns, and once all that dry stuff is chopped up, drizzle in 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. It makes a thick, chunky pale green paste that smells better than any other food item I have ever made.

I made this to stuff into slits in a pork shoulder, before I unwrapped the pork shoulder and found that it was, um, had been in our fridge wayyy tooooo loooong. Geh! So now I have this little bowl of astounding yumminess and no meat to season with it. And...scene.

Well, tonight, after putting the adorable child to bed, I came down to the kitchen to hunt for some food. I was pleased to find some Brussels sprouts. Oh, how I love Brussels sprouts! And incidentally, that bag of sprouts had been in the fridge even longer than the pork shoulder had. But sprouts survive much better than The Other White Meat. Believe me.

So here's something really good to do with Brussels sprouts.

Wash and clear the gross-looking outer leaves from some sprouts - how much? Oh, I don't know, like 3 cups? Anyway, clean your sprouts, cut the stem ends off, and quarter each one.

Heat up a cast-iron skillet over high heat. Reduce the heat a bit (say from 10 to 8) and film the skillet with olive oil. Let that heat up for about a minute, and drop in a tablespoon or so of the chopped garlic stuff.

Stir it around, and drop in the sprouts. Leave them undisturbed for a minute or two, maybe pressing down on them with your spatula, to brown them. Stir, cook, press. Stir, cook, press. Once things are a showing a little brown, pour in a half-cup of water and cover the pan.

Stir occasionally. Cook until you can pierce the sprouts with a fork with a little effort. Remove the lid and keep cooking until the water evaporates. Sprinkle with a little salt and a little grated Parmesan.

Seriously.

I wouldn't even know I liked Brussels sprouts if not for Heidi Swanson's Golden Crusted Brussels Sprouts recipe on 101 Cookbooks. I love the photography on her site, and every recipe I've ever tried from it has been great.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

expect an upswing in blog posts

in volume, if not quality.

I am giving up knitting for lent.

I know, it's unbelievable, isn't it? Recently I have been rather productive in the knitting area - mittens, hats, a nice triangular shawl...but also a little obsessive. The other night, I was blasting away on row after row, and it was gorgeous and fast and worthwhile and not fiddley at all, and it occurred to me that if I wanted a challenging practice, I could give up knitting for Lent.

I laughed out loud when I thought that, but I also had kind of a sinking feeling. I have begun to suspect that maybe I think/read/sketch/work on my knitting a little too much, maybe at the expense of other things...like attention to Eric and Ian. Like sometimes, my knitting is a way of disengaging. I don't see it as a terribly unhealthy way, and I think it's good to have interests that are just mine, involving neither work nor Eric's work nor The Backyadigans.

But I'm giving up knitting for 40 days for the same reason I gave up blogging last year - because I love it, because I already miss it...in fact it feels a little tragic (melodramatic? Moi?) and I feel a little nervous, like whatever will I do with myself? Or like I'm putting a beloved pet in a kennel for a month. I've been feeling wistful ever since I decided.

(Why, yes, I am a very unusual person. How nice of you to notice.)

Anyway, before I go to bed tonight, I'm actually going to stash my stash in the sewing room. I usually keep a couple of projects, in baskets and cache pots, out where I can admire them, or pick them up and work a few rows while plastic dinosaurs maraud around the carpet. Tonight at the library, I intentionally didn't take out or renew any pattern books.

Seriously, this is going to be hard. That's why I'm doing it.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Saturday, January 30, 2010

lazy Saturday

Snow: 3 inches and still falling like crazy.
Husband: drove an hour to entertain at a one-year-old's birthday party in Frederick.
Entertainment here: Ice Age 3, the Emperor's New Groove.
Lunch: Avocado burritos
Also made: apple/cranberry cobbler - far from perfect (a little too wet, the topping isn't as crispy as I imagined, but hey - it's homemade cobbler. How bad can it be?)
and spicy Chai, in my seemingly eternal quest to make some as good as I get at Sorrettis for a dollar. I'm closer today than usual.

My son now - at nearly 6 - want to go out and play in the snow. I told him that would mean putting on a whole lot of clothes, to which he has in theory agreed. (I imagine he'll punt when he's about half-way dressed. I know I would. He has requested his 'turtletop'. (It's a long-sleeved knit shirt with that high neck...you call it something similar. We speak our own language here.)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ooooh - I changed my mind. Buy me this instead.



2 minutes ago, I had no idea these existed. Now I am devoting my night to acquiring one. And maybe some for gifts.

somebody buy me this

just kidding, they're sold out. (But if they weren't, they'd be here.)


The Dude and I have been 'batchin' it' for a couple of days now, while World's Best Husband is off at a convention. EVERYTHING has gone completely to shit around here. Hygene, discipline, nutrition, housekeeping. Everything. We have to turn into the white tornado tomorrow (which means I will be whirling around cleaning and the Dude will be motionless in front of Fanboy and Chumchum, which is okay with me.)

I have been remiss at participating in the @platea knitting project. Haven't lifted a finger on that, either.

I did make Rice Krispie Treats tonight.



For dinner.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

yeah, we recycled our tree too.



via Sweetney.com

and speaking of knitting:

IF you craft, you may think this is interesting. I do.

Basically, all over the world, a whole bunch of people will be making art (or perhaps just making stuff) at the same time, following instructions from people on Twitter. It's mostly targetted at knitters, and there'll be some knitting technical talk and especially abbreviation in the tweets, but the writer specifically mentions that it would be interesting to see how other art forms interpret the instructions.

Obviously I won't be knitting with my Blackberry in hand (right, picture THAT) for the entire duration of the 'performance piece.'
/DIGRESSION: In all probability, I will have no audience, so with my theatre background it's hard for me to think of this as a performance... but it is people all over the world performing an action, intentionally, at the same time. So that's what it's called. A performance. I am being held back by the old-fashioned art education, obviously./disgression/

Anyway, I can probably devote an hour a day to this, evenings, on the days it's happening (Jan 25-29.) I'll document it here. Somehow. I am fascinated by this idea.

off to retweet -

I said I would return.

Or, maybe I didn't. I wasn't actually sure that I would return. I had a brief and mild stomach bug, which wouldn't be a big deal for a normal person but made me whine uncontrollably. (In actual fact, what I was doing uncontrollably was shivering. For HOURS.)

There is nothing like a couple of awful days to make you appreciate just how fabulous your regular days are.

I should have that made into one of those huge vinyl wall decals, and put it where I would see it upon waking up in the morning.

Anyway, speaking of knitting (were we? Am I ever not speaking of knitting?) I am in the middle of 2 projects at the moment -

a simple wool watch cap, which I have turned into a 2-month project by deciding it should be in 1x1 ribbing. It's part of a Christmas present - I made 2 people mittens for Christmas, and then decided at the last minute that they needed hats too. So, um, Alex? If you're wondering where your mittens are? They're standing at the bus stop, checking their watch, waiting for their matching hat. (And the Clock Said Four of Two.)

and

a huge rectangular wrap that's designed to use up all the millions of single skeins and half-balls or cheesy novelty yarn that I've bought over the years. It's got fuzz! It's got glitter! It's got slubs! It's got rayon rainbow wraps! It's got lace rows between the garter stitch rows! I love every single bit of man-made, faux-glamourous, falsely-economical yarn in the thing, and since I the colors I love fall into one of two families, so far (despite my disclaimers) it is actually not an eyesore. Yet. I keep waiting for it to fall over the edge into crazy-lady-land.

Anyway, the hat is in my bag, for working on in a quiet moment; the Thing is upstairs beside the bed in a huge bowl, where all the glittery fuzzy things keep winding into knots with one another. It's like Plato's Retreat for acrylic. I have no idea if this thing will ever be done.

Here's the other motto we should have lettered somewhere in our house - we used to have it on a piece of yellow legal paper on the wall in Eric's office:

Stop When You're Done.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Hmmph. It's been a while.

but of course I barely have a moment to myself, between setting up my new blackberry and facebooking everyone's unmentionables and whatnot.

I am thinking about starting a monthly or more-than-monthly knitting evening at my house. This has only one advantage over the various weekly knitting meetings of which I am already a part -that I would not have to leave my house to go to it.

Plus it will make sure the house is semi-presentable at least a couple times a month.

A couple of local peeps on fb said they'd be interested. Hmmm.

And so, this Blackberry. I am handling it pretty well so far, setting convenience buttons and choosing from the AWFUL pre-loaded ring tones and wondering how many songs it will hold. I have exactly 3 phone numbers in it - apparently I have to go to the Verizon Store and have them install my card or download something or wave a chicken over their heads while they recite a secret incantation in order to get my phone numbers off the Razr and onto this thing.

I am pretty sure that I don't like getting email in my pants pocket. All day long.

Which reminds me, I have to turn off the cute little noise it makes when email comes in. It was cute when I set it last night, at least.