Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

So, Baby wants to "borrow" a slice of bread, have a cookie or some blueberry pie. The kitchen is halfway cleaned up and B needs a ride home from her weekend get-a-way and Ashton Kutcher has a short neck. I apparently have no life because I have seen nearly 200 movies on someones list and I haven't done any laundry. And now I can add another movie to my list because TinkerBell is coming on and we will be watching that. While I don't fold laundry or wash dishes or straighten up. Not cause I'm a lazy bum, this time my back started spasming when I was loading the dishwasher and I decided to quit while I was ahead and be able to move on Monday. And maybe get back to work. We'll see!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Don't be afraid- it's easy really

Candy Sweet Potatoes
1 lb sweet potatoes,scrubbed peeled and cut into 2" chunks
vegetable oil for frying
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1 1/2 tsp soy sauce

Timing is everything here.
Heat oil to 350 degrees and start frying potatoes. Immediately start cooking your sugar syrup in a medium size pot to about 300 degrees(this can take 20 minutes +/- and seems like it will never happen and then you go from 280 degrees to burnt in a blink so use a candy thermometer and then look at it often) stirring occasionally.
Hopefully your potatoes will be ready when the syrup is done because the syrup is a one off, it won't wait on the potatoes- which by this time should be golden brown and puffed. Remove potatoes from the oil and drain on paper towels. If your syrup isn't ready- KEEP THE OIL HOT- and briefly reintroduce the potatoes before stirring them into the syrup which you will have just removed from the heat. Quickly stir them to coat and pour them onto a plate that you have lightly greased and seperate the chunks some. These are best served hot along side a small bowl of cold water into which you dip your hot sugar potato to make it "crack" before you bite into it-and cool it off a bit too of course. Or just let them cool off a bit on their own-they will still have the crunch though they will have hardened together and be harder to seperate.
This dish is one we ate often the year we were in China. We ate it "family style" with chopsticks and that's the way we like it best but of course you can do whatever you like at your house.

Friday, November 28, 2008


I wrote this earlier in the day and saved it without posting. I just reread it and decided to post it unchanged. It is a great picture to me(since I know how my mind works) of how a snarky for no reason thought, idea, or day segues into happiness and jollity and explains- at least for me- why most nights I go to bed happy.
Yeah, I'm thankful that it's over and that the in-laws brought plenty of wine. Everything was delicious and on time except the turkey. It is still delicious btw but I have discovered that I really do not like the convection feature of my bottom oven. Sure it roasted evenly but my small turkey(only 12lbs), brined and butterflied took about 45 minutes longer to cook than expected. That's a long time plus 20 minutes resting, for everything else to hold. So we ate all the fixin's then turkey and then pie. It worked out just fine but I really hate it when something like that happens. So I'll just have to go get another turkey and repeat the process with traditional baking feature to see what happened. We like turkey enough that it won't be a problem. I must say that brining the turkey overnight really improved the moisture/flavor of the breast meat. I mean the juices were coming out of the meat like they do with a super juicy steak and it was so tender you could just about cut it with a glance. And Derek and I were able to share for the first time one of our favorite dishes from China-candied sweet potatoes. Now I know you think you know about this but those ingenious Orientals have upped the ante on us poor Yanks. These sweet potatoes are cut into bite-size chunks that are deep fried to crispy golden perfection and then........dipped in a sugar syrup at hard crack stage so that you are basically eating something like a candy apple-not caramel mind you-crunching through that hard sugar crust into tender sweet potato still hot from the frying is a delight for the senses. I should add that this particular treat is not for the dentally challenged as biting into it can sometimes result in that "jolly rancher"-like fusion of molars that strikes fear in the heart of kids everywhere. The sweet was balanced by a delicious baked polenta chock full of caramelized onions that managed to be super crunchy(like fried cornbread for those of you familiar with that deep south delight) and remain creamy and delicious in the middle(like cheese grits ya'll!), add roasted red radishes-yes radishes, try it you'll love it- and brussel sprouts with fried out country ham chips and golden raisins, a super simple homemade cranberry sauce and turkey gravy and you have a well balanced meal in every way. Flavors, colors, textures, smells all complemented each other so well that the extra wait time for the turkey was hardley noticed(except by me of course). And lets not even go into the pies. Ok Ok, I'll tell you about the pies. Briana made her now famous pie, this year peach flavor and boy is it good, the ubiquitous pumpkin pie showed its scrumptious face- which was promptly eaten with cool-whip of course- though I am most thrilled with the pecan pie. Finally, after years of tinkering and some really good pies I have discovered, or maybe simply reinvented, the most wonderful of pecan pies and the true secret to pecan goodness and I am willing to share. Maybe. If you say please.

So now you know- if you didn't before- that my greatest pleasure in Thanksgiving is cooking. Some of the eating and a lot of the visiting but mostly the cooking. Having a dish come out better than ever and introducing new and delicious foods to friends and family, seeing the suprise and delight on their faces with that first tentative bite is what I am most thankful for.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Getting started

Cranberry sauce done, tea eggs done, pumkin pie done, pecan pie done, stuffed dates done, ambrosia done, herbed yogurt cheese done. Still need to get the onions caramelized, the turkey in the brine, and brussel sprouts and radishes cut and quartered, and a quick trip to the grocery for cool whip(how did I forget that?) and parmesan cheese and I'll be done for today, with very little to do tomorrow. Well, except for the housecleaning but I have people for that. Big Daddy D and B to be exact. I love Thanksgiving and I really wish my sister could have made it up. She and her family (of course they're her family, what-would she be with someone else's family? Sometimes the things we say don't make any sense ya know?) live in So. Florida and that's a long drive/expensive flight and it just didn't happen. Maybe they'll make it up to play in the snow at Christmas!

Monday, November 24, 2008

On a lighter note...

I have planned out my Thanksgiving dinner, obsessively made lists, modified recipes, written more lists, searched my pantry, made more lists, reread recipes, wrote another list, clipped coupons, wrote another list, read my lists and compiled the "master List". Let's just say I have some compulsion issues that are satisfied by all this list making. So......I just did my shopping for Thanksgiving and the following week and the grand total was, wait for it-$102!!!! Can you believe it? I couldn't. Occasional Compulsive Behavior can payoff! I am pleased as punch with myself and can't wait to get started on my timeline list! You know that's the one so you know when to start cooking everything so it's all ready at the same time....You guys do that right?
When you have a big company meal to prepare, you do that don't you?
Tell me you do that!
Just so you know I am only like this on special occasions-hence "Occasional Compulsive Behavior" moniker. So, I will be preparing 10 dishes, 5 of which I have never made before. I can do it, I have before , last year I had a 16 item menu that I prepared in someone elses kitchen some from recipes I had not even seen before.
Yeah, you read that right. 16.
And everything-I mean everything- was ready and on the table at 5. There's a story there but names would have to be changed including my own and well...I'll do my best to keep the peace. Anyway, you might think that's bragging and maybe it is a little but mostly it is venting and angst because though I have been preparing Thanksgiving meals or portions of them for 20+ years(I have been cooking full meals for a family of 8, including menu planning since I was 10, and started "helping when I was about 8) This will be only the second time that I will be preparing a Thanksgiving meal with my own menu, with my own stuff, in my own kitchen, and serving it when I want to. Finally! You will definitely think I am crazy now, but I only wish more people were coming to share my absolute favorite cooking holiday with me and my family. Wanna come?


Whoa! That smarted. Let me explain succintly about yesterday. 5 years less 7 weeks ago my third child, Maggie, died three days after her third birthday. Croup. No vaccine or antibiotic for it. We did take her to the doctor. He assured us that 99.99% of children survive and that we were doing everything right in taking care of her. That night she quit breathing. We were right there, did infant CPR and 911 responded within 12 minutes. They were able to resuscitate her body but she, our Maggie, was gone.

We found out the hard way not to count on percentages, to live every day as if it is your last and to let go so that you can go on.

So yesterday I was basking on the proverbial beach, soaking up the rays and enjoying the moment, when suddenly a tidal wave of grief broke over me.
It happens.
I just hold my breath, look for daylight and start swimming up.
I refuse to drown in grief, that does no honor to my Love.
I head for shore because I can't swim in grief, it does no honor to my Loves.
I walk in sunlight.
I love and laugh.
I live to honor my Loves.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

mice and men

We are sitting here, snuggling, watching "the Nutcracker". The Baby(the 3yr soon to be 4 but that takes too long to type so I hereby dub her The Baby, or Baby for short) and I. Not Big Daddy cause he's out with a friend watching "Quantum of Solace", and not with the B(the almost 16yr old) cause she is now playing her new Pokemon Emerald game. What's really great about this (and it is great!) is that we are watching the Pacific Northwest Ballet's production/movie with the sets done by Maurice Sendak of "Where the Wild Things Are" fame. It is stunning and intense-fraught with tension and the thrill of a girl on the cusp of young womanhood caught in a dream with only the vaguest ideas and notions of what lies ahead. Definitely not Disney or Barbie or some other diluted cartoon. Baby is watching, enthralled by the dancing, the costumes, the sets and maybe even the music. B is sneaking glances when whe thinks I am not looking, and together we watch as Clara defeats the Mouse King and takes off with the Nutcracker Prince to a magical land full of Delights. We(B and I) were lucky enough to get a VHS copy of this 14 years ago, second hand as the movie was filmed in 1985 I believe. She and I watched this movie often, sometimes 2 or 3 times in a row, usually with her snuggled in her "nest" as she liked to call my lap. Whoa!!! Baby and I just had an unpleasant moment when she put her head in my face and we had to decide who went where. But that's real life, not the soft fuzzy pink picture I am trying to paint here. Anyway, there is something wonderful about sharing this movie, this experience with both my girls, seeing their differences and their similarities. For example, Baby here does not want to sit in my lap, only beside me and she sure as heck has no stillness in her- unlike B who, like, me can sit for hours hardly moving except to go to the bathroom. And to be able to talk with B about her thoughts and feelings watching this movie now is wonderful, and looking forward to talking with Baby in 12 years about these very moments helps me keep on trucking along. Btw we seem to have embarked on a mini marathon of The Nutcracker since Fantasia has found its way into the player. B and I have watched this movie together many times during the past 14 years as well and had the pleasure of sharing this movie with our Maggie,now gone. Oh how I long for Maggie and ache to have her in my lap and....but more on that another day. I am suddenly a raw open wound and need a cuddle with Baby who is finally still and warm and sweet at my side.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I Love...

  1. Bacon!
  2. Red Hair!
  3. Snow Days!
  4. Autumn Leaves!
  5. Recipes!
  6. Size 6 Jeans!
  7. 34H Bras!
  8. Handknitted Slippers!
  9. Making My Chibi Onis!
  10. Homemade Truffles!
  11. Trying Every Mattress at the Store!
  12. Red Nail Polish!
  13. My Toes!
  14. Peep and the Big Wide World!
  15. Claymation!
  16. Girly Giggles!
  17. Laughing During Sex!
  18. Bologna Sandwiches with Mayo!
  19. Natural Opals!
  20. Big Daddy D!
  21. My Girls!
  22. Opal(My Shmoopsie)
  23. Wood Fires!
  24. Eating the Last Tomato!
  25. Peaches!
  26. Charlie & Lola!
  27. My Living Room Wall Color!
  28. Thrift Stores!
  29. Myself!
  30. Ballet! (Did You Think I Forgot?)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Gigolo-Meter: What're You Worth in Bed?

Gigolo-Meter: What're You Worth in Bed?

Saw this on a blog I unofficially follow and thought it was funny. Wait til Big Daddy D gets the bill! $1172 per hour, average 15 hrs per month for 10 years thats uhhh, $2,109,600! Maybe homemaker isn't my calling after all! Not that I ever thought it was, it's just what I do baby, it's just what I do.


I was getting worried for a minute there! I missed 2-count them-2 ballet classes and was thinking that maybe subconsciously I was bored or didn't love ballet as much as I thought I did(you know that circuitous logic that takes over rational thought at 4am!). As a kinda grown up person and a mom to boot, I have gotten used to plugging on and trudging through and all that jazz no matter how I actually feel and honestly, most of the stuff I do is horrid chore type crap that I hate and never feel like doing anyway, so when I didn't feel like going to ballet I assumed it(ballet) had been relegated to chore or- GASP-exercise level and I couldn't believe I had tricked myself so thoroughly that I(who have major schedule commitment issues)would sign up for not one, but two ballet classes per week! Sooo, anyway, determined to keep on keeping on but mostly not have to tell everyone that I was wrong about loving ballet or become a quitter, I set my alarm for 7:15 am so as not to miss yet another class. Am I ever glad I set that clock! My class was awesome, I felt so good and less silly ostrich in tutu(just watch Disney's first Fantasia to get my mental picture)than I ever have to date and had so much fun that I didn't want to stop! I just wanted to do ballet all day, I was sad to have to leave and I can't wait for my next class! What does it all mean you ask? What's the moral of this story? Did I have a semi psycho moment brought on by insomnia or what? As whats his face used to say "And now for the rest of the story". Remember that I was stricken recently with an evil stomach bug and a not so evil but well thrown lipstick case? Well, as it so happens, when you're sick and mildly concussed you actually don't want to do anything-even those things you really truly love to do- like cook or have sex or especially BALLET! I hate being sick. Well, sometimes being sick is good cause then someone else will clean the toilets. Okay okay! That never happens, but I don't feel so bad about not getting those toilets clean when I am under the weather. Back to ballet. I love ballet. I love that it is just for me. Let's face it, cooking is about fixing delicious food and getting a thrill from other peoples enjoyment and, well, sex- as much as I love that particular activity-is generally a 2 person party. I absolutely love ballet, and I am so glad that I have something that I love that is mine! So whew! I DO LOVE BALLET!

On a completely different note, as you might or might not know the 3yr old was a baby Munchkin in the ballet school's very professional production of Dorothy's Adventures in Oz and just now decided to paint herself with green toothpaste and become the "evil witch". What will she think of next?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

every day?

Did I say every day? I of course meant when I can get to it -which is apparently less than I thought. I have decided, though, that working with kids requires a brand of crazy that I just don't have. This is a good thing because if I had "it" I would have more sick days like the last three after I helped watch the little turds. They weren't turds- they were good actually- but one of them was secretly spreading stomach bugs all around and I was lucky enough to get a few! Top that off with the 3year old I call my own pegging me right between the eyes with her rather large, very hard plastic lipgloss case(think deck of cards size people) and giving me a goose egg, killer headache and maybe a concussion and you have the picture of my lovely weekend. In Big Daddy D's favor he immediately jumped to my rescue and visited retribution on my attacker- in her defense she apparently thought she and I were playing the game where we say "hey you! throw me that remote!" (or in her case lipgloss) and didn't know that both people should know what the heck is going on! D later said she had great technique, excellent form really and that she had an instinctual knowledge of how to put as much force in her throw as possible. I am still not impressed and have since explained to her the importance of making sure everyone is on the same page with gameplaying . Maybe it worked 'cause she hasn't tagged me since!

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Kids! Why do we have these again? I mean I like it when they enjoy the food I prepare and do all those niggly chores I don't want to do but then I have to turn around and pick 'em up from club, take them karate, dance, rehearsals, performances and indoor play facilities when it's raining. What about me? Who is gonna cart me around to all my fun stuff-oh wait! I don't have time for fun stuff(or the $$ either) cause it's all spent on them. I spend more time than I should asking myself these questions and then this happens blowing my annoyances out of the water and I find myself falling in love with my kids again!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


A venue for me! My story, my way, everyday! I just can't wait to learn to type so I can really bang this out. Happy reading!