Saturday, January 31, 2009

Well lookie what we have here...

I took a little water color class today.
And this is the painting I did.

I look at it and see some things.

Like what happened to the other half of that shadow?

Why is there a petal missing on that flower?

I see that the composition and perspective are a bit off.

But do you know what else I see?

Someone who can still paint after not touching a brush in over 10 years.

Someone with some talent and ability.

Someone who was recruited by some pretty good art schools and some pretty good academic ones too.(SCAD and Harvard if you must know)(scholarships and everything)

Someone who has been afraid for no good reason.

Someone who is ready to pursue her dreams.

Because dreams don't die, and I'm not dead.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Why I missed a day

I had a tiny rough spot back on Wednesday.
I called my mom and found out my baby brother was in the hospital.
He had suffered a work related injury that crushed and partially severed his right index finger around 8am.
He was transfered to another hospital that had a hand specialist in the hopes that his finger could be saved.
Apparently hand specialists are in short supply because he didn't go into surgery til around 6pm.
He was in surgery for three hours but in the end they could not save/reattach the finger because it was so damaged.
Now, everyone I know that has died, did it in a hospital.
I don't like them for this reason.
Necessary evil, in my opinion.

Irrational yes I admit it.
You can not change my mind.
Don't try.
Anyway, you can not imagine the dread that consumed me until I heard my baby brother was ok.
Now I just have to worry about infection in the bone.
And I will.
I won't dwell on it.
But I will wonder.
And I will grieve with my baby brother as he grieves.
Because he will.
Even losing something so small as a finger will haunt him the rest of his days.
He will feel its loss every time he holds a pencil and brushes his teeth.
His budding artistic endeavors will be forever changed.

Oh, Baby Brother, I wish you did not have to feel this pain,
Feel the the ache that throbs in that empty space.
You will recover.
You will learn to live and work around it.
Eventually days will go by without you giving
your lost finger a thought.
Some days you will remember.
It is ok to grieve.
It is not silly.
It was not just a silly finger.
I love you Baby Brother.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Going Green

I am not terribly ecologically minded. Well, actually I am but I constantly go back and forth between being green and being well, nearly broke. We recycle and yes reuse. I have cut down on senseless driving considerably(which blows sometimes cause we live in the burbs-no sidewalks and scary traffic on the main roads) . Heck, sometimes I even try composting. I love thrifting or as I call it-scrounging. And not that long ago I purchased for my greenie pleasure a slew of green bags to use instead of paper or plastic.

Now it is an effort for me to remember to use those green bags-I have to take them inside the house, unload them, take them back out to the car, remember to take them in the store AND THEN remember to tell the bagger to use the damn things. That is a lot of stuff on top of trying to remember what I was even at the store for in the first place.

So I go to my local grocery store- not my favorite but the closest(remember I was feeling green)-to get a few things. Mine was a short list and I did not expect to be at the store long. And I would not have been except for one tiny incident.

The bag boy put my groceries in plastic bags.

I had put my green bags out for him to use and he used the plastic bags.

Now did I scream, pitch a fit or go off on a rant about saving the environment?

No, I acted like the wonderful grown up lady that I am and rebagged all my groceries.

Yes I held up the line-and yes it was long.

Yes I threw the plastic bags at the bag boy.

I am not that grown up and I was feeling green dammit!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sorry it took so long Lyvvie!

So I invited, begged, pleaded be interviewed and got two sets of questions back on the same day. You might be tired of learning more about me but well, I am gonna tell you more anyway! These are from Lyvvie. I was waiting on visual aids from my mommy. I finally got them!
Ready, Set, GO!

1. Is there one time in your life you refer back to often and wish you could change? If you could go back and change it, would you?

Well, there are many times that I wonder what would have been different if I had made a different choice. The most obvious is of course Maggie. Should I have never picked up Big Daddy D? What if we had decided to split up rather than go to China together? What if I had been more careful with birth control? What if we had taken her to the emergency room just 30 minutes earlier? Would I choose to have never known her, and in so doing remove all the events that led to her birth-possibly even Big Daddy D and the life we have built together? Would I change the events that preceded her death? They would not have tried so hard to resuscitate her and called her death before our family had a chance to get there and see her one last time warm and breathing albeit with a machine. What if she had not died? Then Baby would not be here and how do I justify her lack of existence? Could I trade one life for another?
I can't change any of it. I wish many things-more than just this-could have been different but each of them- the good, the bad, the euphoric and the shitty, all of them- happened and shaped the person I am. It just is and I accept that I can't make things different. And so I keep on going straight ahead.

2. What was your biggest fashion nightmare where you thought you looked the hottest but on reflection, not so much?

Here are the visual aids: My Senior Prom

I am the one with the huge crazy hair and the crazy flowers. Yes I thought I looked hot-video vixenish if you will. Really, what was I thinking? And who is that short guy? I usually choose taller accessories.

3. Tell of a time you were really disappointed and how you got through it.

Hmm, I know there is one. I remember feeling really crushed about something. I do. I just don't remember what it was or when. So I guess I get through those times by not dwelling on them. Weird. I really can't remember.

4. What are your addictions; past and present?

Another easy one. I smoked for for nearly 3 years altogether-a few months before and then after my pregnancy with B. It was very hard to stop when I was preggers, but I did. Notice I did not say quit. I didn't quit, I just didn't smoke again until B was 3 1/2. Then- as I am sure you all remember- the lawsuit blah blah blah and the tax on cigarettes went waaaaay up on January 1, 1999 and I decided to smoke my last ciggie December 31, 1998. That was it. I am too cheap and stubborn to pay that much for something everyday. Yes I still crave them. But I am quit of them. My longest addiction is reading. I apparently taught myself to read at a very early age and remember-real memories-reading National Geographic magazines when I was 3. I have read voraciously ever since. The encyclopedia, dictionaries, every book in my early classrooms, special privileges in the libraries, you name it, I read it. Rebecca when I was 9. The entire works of Shakespeare and Stephen R Donaldson the summer I was 12 and every thing else I could get my hands on since. I read everything, everything except true crime and mysteries. I am one of the few people that I know who reads recipe books like novels. And reading for me fits the profile for addiction. I would do almost anything to get my fix, and yes, I do suffer severe withdrawal symptoms. I know that because for a brief period of time in China I had no reading material. It was ugly.

5. What are your passions; past and present?

I was a horse crazy girl though that has passed. I was passionate about Christianity until I realized it was-for me-a co dependant trap(plus I think too much and read too much to believe anything just because someone says to!). Hmmm, currently I am somewhat passionate about bentoing. I am always passionate about cooking-another thing I learned at a pretty young age. And I wish with a passion unbelievable to have my children grow up to be readers, thinkers and doers-able to stand on their own and weather life's storms with the power that comes from true knowledge and inner wisdom.
I now have a reason to love my washing machine. I still hate doing laundry, but the washer can stay.

I can't do it

I just can't do it.
Write just about food all the time, I mean. I cook-often and well, accept it as fact- and I will continue to do so and toot my own horn when it so pleases me.
But today I want to talk about sex. Because that is something else I do often and well. Except when I apparently "punch" my hubbie in the face with my pelvis.
Which I did last night.
Frustration followed.
Hilarity as well.
No broken nose or anything- which is almost a shame because I think it would have been freaking hilarious to have to explain to whoever it is you see to fix broken noses how it happened.
I could have gone on record as having broken an 8th degree black belt, Martial Arts Master's nose.
Alas Big Daddy D is a indeed a ninja, and even in the throws of passion had his wits about him and my now famous "Flight of Pelvis" move couldn't take him out.

Maybe next time.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Well it's only Monday...

But so far so good. The meatloaf was a big hit, and ended up going in lunch today-gah I had 2 glasses of wine last night and felt like warmed over dog shit this morning and could barely even do that. Just two glasses spread over the entire evening knocked me on my ass. I think my champagne overload at New Years must have taken a toll. I know it did because I cut my hand on a piece of glass from the exploded bottle on Saturday while getting some stuff out to make Pork Marsala for some friends who had come over for Big Daddy D's birthday.

Let me be the first to tell you that he bought his own cake. He will never let me live that one down, but hey, who's counting!

Tonight I changed things around a bit and made spam musubi, which is a Japanese/Hawaiian fusion sushi concoction. It is addictive, let me tell you! I am very thankful for my rice cooker which simplifies the process immeasurably. So, B and Big Daddy D will share what is left for lunch tomorrow.


Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In food processor or mini food chopper(which is what I have)

1 entire stalk celery
1 medium onion which you had the foresight to put in the freezer 30 minutes or so earlier
2 small-medium carrots

process to near paste consistency

Place in large bowl

veggie mixture
1 large egg
1 cup plain bread crumbs
2 tsp kosher salt
plenty of fresh ground black pepper
a few dashes worchestershire sauce
a squeeze of your favorite ketchup

combine well


2lbs ground chuck

Mix just enough, go ahead and use your hands if they are clean!

Spray with non stick cooking spray a regular size muffin tin and fill six of the muffin cups with meatloaf mixture-just level or a smidge lower

top with ketchup

On a jelly roll pan or in a large baking dish form the remaining meat mixture into a rectangular loaf shape and liberally coat with-you guessed it-ketchup

place both pans in the oven and bake for about 45-50 minutes.

The mini loaves get frozen individually when they have cooled.

Meatloaf at our house is always served with mashed potatoes and green beans-it just is, I don't question it and neither should you!
The left over meatloaf is good cold, in a sandwich and sometimes as a kind of hash thingy with some leftover mashed potatoes fried up crisp in bacon grease.
We usually have enough left for lunches or another supper, which ever comes first.

Soy Sauce Eggs

Per your request.
Boil some eggs(I usually do 6 and cover the eggs with water, put a lid on the pot and when they just come to a boil set the timer for 10 minutes then take them off and run under icy mountain water)
cool them off enough to to peel them
Put them in a non stick pan with about a teaspoon of soy sauce per egg
Cook at med hi rolling the eggs constantly to evenly coat them until most of the liquid evaporates. They will be a pretty shiny brown color and are absolutely delicious.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

$8 worth of ground chuck can be the start of 4 meals(each!) for 4 people!

That breaks down to $.50 per person per meal! Isn't that awesome? Don't you want to do it too?Today meatloaf with enough meatloaf leftovers for lunch for 4 on Tuesday. 6 mini meatloaves in the freezer for a quick meal sometime in the future and 1/2 lb of soboro(Japanese "taco" meat for lunches in the future(also in the freezer).
My meal plan for the week:
Sunday supper-Meatloaf and mashed potatoes with green beans and gravy
Monday lunch- Soy Sauce eggs, rice, carrots, broccoli, clementines and chocolate
supper- Country ham asparagus pizza from scratch(there are never any leftovers)
Tuesday lunch- Meatloaf, rice, steamed veggies, clementine, chocolate
supper- Spam musubi
Wednesday lunch- Spam musubi, clementine, chocolate
supper- Salmon Patties, potato cakes, frzn broccoli
Thursday lunch- Soboro bento(rice, soboro, nori), clementine chocolate
supper- Spaghetti and meatballs in marinara sauce, salad
Friday lunch- Spaghetti and meatballs w/marinara, salad, chocolate
supper- Homemade fishsticks with remoulade and sweet potato fries(all oven baked)
My grocery tab was a little over $40 to round out supplies, and even figuring in what I had in the pantry and fridge/freezer by my reckoning I will have made about 24 meals at roughly $3 dollars each. That is not bad in my book. I start each week with a meal plan and even thought I don't always stick to it, believe me it helps in the $ department. I am constantly monitoring the food I have on hand and if something needs, making I do it. I hate throwing away food! And really hate wasting money! And hey, if any of this stuff sounds good to you let me know and I will post the recipe-I would love to share. That is an idea, I'll post a recipe and maybe a pic a day.
Oh, I have no intention of this being a FOOD ONLY BLOG, but I absolutely love tooting my own horn in the budget and food department!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I am the best mom in the universe!

This post was inspired by HuffDaddy. I agree wholeheartedly that we are all role models. All that we do and yes, all that we say impacts everyone around us. I am a firm believer in the value of eating delicious healthful food, and even many non-healthful foods in moderation. That we should support our local food producers and reestablish a closer connection to the land have long been pet rants of mine. That our new president could perhaps be a supporter and motivator of the people in this area is exciting to me. Better lunch programs, fewer giant corporate farmers getting paid to not grow cantaloupes, and the possibility of a kitchen garden at the White House-things could be looking up for our "Fast Food Nation". We need some better role models and I hope that President Obama and his family will be.

What does that have to do with me being the best mom in the universe?

B was telling me today that her friends think I am the best mom. Not because I am cool and like their music, my house is definitely not party central and they all know that B has to earn money and buy all her own clothes and gadgets, and does chores including her own laundry. They know I am rather strict and don't put up with too much foolishness. But I do cook. It seems their moms don't. Maybe never. And B takes leftovers-often bento style, and often prepared by me-to school for lunch. Not sandwiches or prepackaged lunch kits, B takes real food and enjoys sharing it with her friends. She takes whatever protein we had, veggies, fruit, rice and, yes, usually a chocolaty treat. Guess what, she is the right size for her age/height/activity level, unlike many of her friends who are overweight from eating crap. B even has a few friends who skip meals on a regular basis to be thin-beginning anorexics for pete's sake! School lunches in our area are terrible. "Chicken nuggets" and tater tots are ubiquitous and share space with chocolate milk and sports drinks in the cafeteria line. How could I in good conscience allow my daughter, whom I love, to eat stuff that is barely classifiable as safe for human consumption when even on our tight budget I can fix delicious goodness for her and the rest of us from scratch?
Here are a couple of her lunches. Yes she ate every bite.

Moving on.

How do people think that preparing rice a roni or hamburger helper is cooking? And don't give me that crap about not having enough time after a busy day. I am busy, and I fix most of our meals in less than 30 minutes and sometimes just 15. It is not that hard. I am pretty sure the only prepackaged dinner in my pantry is one box of macaroni and cheese. But even that is organic. I am not telling you that just because it's organic it is good for you-that is definitely not true, and a trap that some people fall into.
Of course I am fortunate that I learned to cook at a very young age and from all the women in my life. And I am trying to pass on that knowledge to my children. B is learning cooking skills, meal planning, how to shop at the grocery store and how to use everything in your pantry. The Baby "helps" me in the kitchen(OK, mostly she annoys me but I want her to understand- just like her big sister- about food and preparation and to be comfortable in the kitchen). I have even offered to teach B's friends these vital skills-especially the ones whose parents(in my opinion) don't have a clue.
Enough, I think I had a specific point, but you get the gist. Oh yeah, we need good role models for this nation of overindulging instant gratification seeking people who by and large seem incapable of making good choices for themselves.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Brook will now take questions from the floor Fun Tests - The Nerd Test, Version 2.0

Well that was supposed to have a cool graphic but failed. Anyway I am a cool nerd queen, mostly in history and science fiction.

Now then, I have some questions to answer. These are from an interview from WanderingGirl. I will try to keep my answers short, try I say because I am rather long winded and occasionally rambley and know it, so...See there I go again!

1) How in the world did you meet Big Daddy D?

Back in the days when I actually had a job with a paycheck, I worked as a FSR for a large bank. Big Daddy D was a customer of said bank. I was behind my desk the first time he came in,and noticed right away his rather awesome ass. Accordingly I was very helpful, and continued to be so for months afterwards. Yes, you read that right, months. ( I had even called my dad that first day and told him about Big Daddy D-and Dad and I have never really been on speaking terms!) Anyway, as time went on I became more bold and flirtatious, and honestly I am pretty bold and flirtatious anyway so that is saying something. Now part of my job was to work on the teller line if someone was sick, or on vacation-whatever was necessary I did. So one day I was working as a teller, Big Daddy D came in and I decided to go for broke. I mean I pulled out all the stops for this guy and well, when he left without asking me for my # or a date or anything! I turned to my coworker and asked "Could I have been any more obvious?"

"NO, not unless you pulled your clothes off and laid yourself out for him!"

Hm, what to do. I am a pretty traditional gal so asked a few people about the implications of asking a guy out. The consensus was to go ahead and do it, if I really wanted to go out with him.

So, breaking many rules and maybe the law, I used bank information to call Big Daddy D's home # and leave him a message that went something like this, "I will be home until 7:30, if you would like to get together tonight, call me before then."

No phone call, and I waited til 7:31, then forced myself to go to my mom's house.

When I got home he had called me-after 9-hoping it wasn't too late.

Well, I decided to give him one more shot and called him Saturday morning-getting the answering machine again-saying call me by 12:30 or don't call at all. I maintain that I was basically telling him to ask me out, not actually asking him out!

Now I did not know this at the time but in addition to his day job he was working as head instructor at the local martial arts studio and worked Friday nights and Saturday mornings, so I was really putting some serious time constraints on him. Anyway, his brother gave him a heads up and he called me right as I was leaving the house-I was literally on my way out the door when the phone rang and debated for a moment about whether to answer it or not. Well I did and we made a date for that night. We went out and discovered that our tastes in beer and movies were dead on and ended up going back to my house and talking til 3am. Here's the funniest part of the whole story to me, when he finally went out the door I was thinking to myself "is he ever gonna kiss me?" and he was apparently thinking "I like her so much I don't want to mess it up by kissing her too soon." So, as I had already "chased him til he caught me" I thought what the hell, stopped him on the second step(remember I am approximately 15 inches shorter than him), and laid one on him. And the rest is history. From first meeting to first date took 9 months of serious flirting on my part, and well, I don't sometimes call him "Oblivious Man" for nothing!

2) What is one of the defining moments of your life, and what did it teach you?

This one is easy, when I was about 5, we were on a car trip and I realized no matter which way you turn you are always going straight ahead. No matter what happens in my life this lesson has stood me well, I mean really every step we take moves us forward. You can turn left, right or even a 180-but it doesn't matter, you are always going straight ahead. There is no getting away from it so enjoy the scenery!

3) If you weren't a stay at home mom, what would you do for a living? Is that what you would do if you could do anything?

Well, the only other job I would really enjoy and be good at is "Trust Fund Baby", and since I am not anywhere close to that, I am actually quite happy for the time being as a stay at home mom. Oh, and that was a serious answer. I will tell you all about my many job adventures at another time. Suffice to say, I have not yet found anything I would rather be doing-except maybe reading and strangely enough, now writing. Though those are not really easy money makers either.

4) Do you have any recurring dreams?

Yes, usually apocalyptic in nature where in the follow up dreams I am able to make better choices and save those who matter to me. Truly apocalyptic in that the world is on fire, or ice(don't you like that poem?) Oh, well, I wish they were sex dreams but that hasn't happened-maybe tonight! MM, I also had very disturbing recurring dreams as a small child that I remember to this day,and which probably contain the seeds of my adult insomnia. Don't worry-those weren't sex dreams either.

5) Why did you start your blog? Are you worried people you know (other than those you want to know about it) will read it and it will cause trouble?

I started blogging because I have stuff to say and my mom sometimes gets tired of hearing me ramble on for hours-she, unlike me, does work. Seriously. Well, that is part of it but I also wanted a way to talk about anything and everything without worrying about adjusting my comments for the audience. Well, I have found out that I actually want an audience and that I am willing to make some adjustments to keep that audience. However, adjusting and compromising are two different things and I am a person of very little compromise. I have written about that to some extent and will likely do more writing about it in the future. Stay tuned! I am one of those people without much of a filter in most areas, and I know this, if I think it or feel it-I end up saying it. I try at times to be politic, tactful, PC-whatever you want to call it-though many are the times I regret, not what I have said but rather, how I have said it. Not because I lack empathy, quite the opposite really, it because of my empathy that I have those regrets. Actually, typing gives me opportunity to express my thoughts as they come and then go back and shape them to have the effect I intend. So, no, I am not worried about causing trouble with my blog because you can be sure everyone I know has either heard it, or I think they should read it the way I mean to say it! I can keep anyone's secrets except my own, and don't even try. After all "The truth needs so little rehearsal." Babara Kingsolver

And I almost forgot, I think I should offer to interview others, so just say "Interview me!" and I will do my best.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I have a headache

I have a baby migraine so will be unable to answer any questions today. Maybe tomorrow guys.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What happens in Wal Mart...

Is so damn funny I can't let it stay there.
I very seldom go to Wal Mart. There are many reasons, but that is one place I have had little trouble successfully boycotting.
With one exception.
When we go to Big Daddy D's parents' place at the lake, the store we stop at to stock up on junk food and maybe some real stuff too, is the big fat Wally World. There are a few small stores in the town we drive through but I never drive so I don't pick the stopping place. I hate to drive just so you know, and won't if I don't have to.
Back to shopping. Big Daddy D and B head off to sporting goods to look at BB guns and the like. Baby and I take a detour to look at the socks. Yes, I am a sockoholic. Anyway, slowly but surely we are making our way through the aisles, dodging random items diving for the "ruggy" and the crazies determined to beat us there. I have no idea where there is in WM but apparently everyone has to get there first.
As we are making our tortuously slow way through the obstacle course, Baby announces quite loudly to all and sundry "I gotta go ewww!" Ewww is her code word for poop, if you were wondering. Having by this time met up with the others, a short discussion ensues over who will escort Baby to the appropriate facilities(she was voting for Daddy btw). Well, of course it was actually me who left at a near run with this small person-over her vociferous protests that she needed Daddy- to the nearest potty.
We arrived in good time to the surprisingly clean restroom and Baby promptly found the largest stall, locked herself in and did her business. I am so glad she can do it on her own and that I don't have to go in with her now! So anyway, I notice she has been in there a while. I ask if she is ok and am assured that indeed, she is "dust fine!" I see her coat hit the floor and wait to hear what is happening.
Nothing. Then:
(baby)"Get me outta here!"
I have no idea what is going on.
There is no safety release on the door latch.
I try to wiggle it free.
I know Baby is extremely capable of opening those doors-seeing as how she has exposed me to the world, ok ok, just the other ladies in the bathroom-by opening them quite often and at inappropriate times.
(me)"Open the door honey"
(baby)"Ok, let me out"
"Open the door baby"
"Ok, let me out and I'll ope'it"
We carry on this exciting exchange a few more seconds. (my Angelica voice kicks in and I hear "Stupid Baby! Just open the door already"in my head.)
By this time I am very confused and Baby is beginning to sound a bit frantic.
I look through the crack, my face pressed tight to the door to get the best view.
And what do I see but Baby, sitting in one of those little jump seats that are very handy for mothers of small children.
Only Baby is not only sitting there, she has strapped in and buckled up. She has immobilized herself inside a frickin bathroom stall. And there is no safety release on my side of the door.
The mere sight of this starts me giggling.
Baby hears me and starts crying and then laughing too.
You have to know what comes next.
I lay down on the public bathroom floor, definitely ROFLMAO by this time, and proceeded to wiggle under the door.
Surprisingly hard to do when you are shaking uncontrollably from laughing so hard. Those doors are pretty low to the floor and I had a brief vision of myself stuck under that door, laughing so hard, having to wait for someone come in to the restroom and then to send for maintenance to come rescue Baby and my fat ass. I'd make it a few inches and burst out in guffaws and be forced to stop til I could regain control of my self and catch my breath. And then I looked up and saw Baby's face. The mixture of panic, awe, and laughter was too much and I had to ROFLMAO some more. Those were probably the longest and funniest 2 minutes of my life.
I haven't laughed so hard in ages.
Finally I made it under and scrambled to my feet, and released Baby from her prison and got us the heck out of that stall.
We washed our hands before we left, but really, I think I needed a shower.
Big Daddy D was beginning to wonder if some other dimension had opened its door and sucked us in by the time we got back to him.
I was laughing too hard to be coherent and continued laughing randomly for the next several hours.
Even now, 3 days later the memory is cracking me up.

Monday, January 19, 2009

My 'nother pet( Why yes! I am feeling rather Chimpy!)

Here is Reepacheep, my sweet scaredy cat kitty.
He is so beautiful and soft. I love his dark seal colored fur and mmm, he is better feeling than a mink coat under my hand.
We were at the mall late spring of '05 and at that time there was one of those awful pet stores-you know the ones. Anyway, we always stopped there to look at the poor puppies and what do you know but some girl had brought to the store some feral kittens from her grandmothers trying to give them away. The people at the store gave her the day to try but then the kittens would have to go to the pound. The poor kittens were barely 5 weeks old and there was one fuzzy chocolate kitten so cute that I just had to hold him. He was so tiny, so scared, and so soft in my hands that my heart went out to him. I conspired with B to get Big Daddy D to agree to take him home. And conspire we did, successfully(no man can stand against the combined wiles of the wife he loves and their oh so cute puppy sad eyed 12 year old girlie!).
Now, Big Daddy D had said at some point in time that the next pet we got had to be named Reepacheep(we had read the entire Chronicles of Narnia aloud to B when she was 7), and promptly reminded us of that fact when we approached him with the kitten. I think he was trying to deter us from getting any pets since B and I preferred more froufrou names at the time.
Ha! We immediately agreed to his condition and told the girl we would take Reepacheep with us. The people at the pet store put him in the nastiest,stinkiest cricket box they could find and Wallah! We had a new cat!
Reepacheep is going to be 4 this spring and I think he is the best cat ever. He has never gotten 100% over his feral beginnings, being very timid and afraid around most people. He quickly decided as a teenager that the outdoors was the place for him to be most of the time, but he does come inside for meals everyday and sits on my lap and shreds my sweaters purring like a buzz saw on a regular basis. He even lets me brush the mats out of his soft fluffiness with very few complaints. He doesn't really tolerate anyone else that much though both B and Big Daddy D will do in a pinch. He is the only pet I have ever sometimes regretted having altered simply because he is so beautiful and those genes are forever out of the pool-you know what I mean? And he would probably be much bigger and I would have liked to have seen that too. Oh well, I am still firm believer in responsible pet ownership.
Reepacheep has One True Love, Jasmine-more on her later, but she despises him. He is bigger than Opal and does a good job keeping that little doggie in check. As I type they are sharing lap space with my laptop and each other.
Reepacheep is definitely my favorite and my best kitty.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Reinventing the Wheel or as I like to call it-POTATO SOUP

So here is another absolutely fantabulous soup recipe that is mine all mine-though in the nature of all good things I am sure there is another soup out there just like it. I don't care cause I totally did this on my own! PS You have to make smashed potatoes first so you have leftovers, so that recipe and one more go first. A three for one deal as it were! This has been really hard to write because these recipes live in my head and hands, not on paper-especially the potato cakes which I learned from watching my paternal grandmother and reconstructed as an adult-which I think are the best recipes anyway.

Smashed Potatoes

Boil in large pot:

3lbs potatoes in salted water
(I use small russets and don't peel or cut them-you do what you like with regards to peels)(boiling them whole and unpeeled reduces the amount of water they take in, I think, and also if you don't want the peel it literally just slips off the potato when they're done!)
4-6 peeled cloves of garlic

When potatoes are easily pierced drain and return to pot.
Using a potato masher-not a ricer or mixer-start smashing.


about 1/2 cup mayonnaise-DO IT!(and NO SALAD DRESSING STUFF)
enough milk to obtain desired consistency, leaving lots of small chunks
salt and pepper to taste.

Now that's a lot of food so save your leftovers to make...

Potato Cakes

In a large bowl combine:
2 cups cold smashed potatoes
I egg
1/4 c flour(use whatever you want, AP or self-rising as I have used both with similar results-I don't know why but it is true)
1tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup milk

This mixture should be quite wet but able to hold a mounded shape in your spoon. It should not be runny- not even like a super thick pancake batter. So adjust ingredients to get the correct consistency.

Heat your largest nonstick skillet( a well seasoned cast iron is great- though if I had one of those double burner griddles or an electric counter top griddle I would use it!) on medium until a drop of water dances on the surface. Using two big soup spoons, drop in about a rounded spoonful of batter and flatten slightly. You've made pancakes by now so you know the routine. Let cook til browned on one side and flip to brown on other side. Roughly 5 minutes per side. To keep warm until they are all done just put them in a sauce pan with a lid under which you have placed a paper towel to catch condensation.
If you have leftovers they can be frozen and reheated in a toaster! They are also super delicious cold and make great snacks.

Now you should have another 2 or so cups of smashed potatoes left. So let's make some...

Potato Soup

In dutch oven fry at medium high:

1/2lb thick sliced bacon chopped
Remove to absorbent paper when crispy.

add to bacon grease:
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery chopped
cook til tender and mostly translucent

2 cups chicken broth
stir and scrape bottom to deglaze your pot

Stir in:
2 cups smashed potatoes
2 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste

bring to simmer and cook about 15 minutes-Do not boil!
Serve with reserved bacon sprinkled on each bowl.

Believe it or not you will have leftovers again and this soup freezes beautifully.

So lets see, that is at least 4 meals for a family of 4 out of one $1.88 5lb bag of potatoes-with 2lbs left for next week! Isn't that incredible!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

In which I digress and let my stream of conscious wander

There is something about second breakfast that excites me. Maybe it's because by 9:30am I have eaten 2x and am still losing weight. Of course you should understand that I love the physical sensation of being hungry, and later the physical sensation of my stomach being nearly full. I seldom eat until I am REALLY full because I have found that less than 15 minutes after that last bite I realise that actually I had about 4 bites too many.
And I do feel that even one bite past full will end up leading me back down the path of habitual overeating and eventual weight gain.
I had posted earlier about eating too much this past weekend. I did. I didn't eat til I had to undo my pants. I didn't gain any weight. But I did eat until my stomach felt really full. And that made me start thinking. Okay, everything makes me do that. Seriously though, I understand how easy it would be to get caught up in emotional eating because for those few days I was in such need of comforting emotionally, mentally and spiritually that when my stomach was full- even though that was a purely physical thing-at least I was experiencing comfort at some level. I was talking to Big Daddy D about it as I ate the last of the shredded cheddar cheese on some corn chips. How at least this one ache could be soothed, and how good it felt to be able to satisfy at least this one need. I was not confusing my spirits needs with my bodies needs, which I think many people do.
Food is a physical thing and should be used to fulfil our bodies need for energy and nourishment.
Our spirits need other nourishment, and I believe we get what our souls need through our connections to others-be they family, friend, stranger or foe. Pets as well provide the feedback we need to feel whole.
And just as with the availability of junk food other delicious treats which are ultimately bad for us, there are people and relationships that seem to meet our needs that are actually quite harmful to us.
And just as I attempt to apply the moderation in all things to my food and eating habits, I find I must do the same with other people. I have worked hard to become relatively sane and stable these past five years and just as I know that one extra bite of food could lead me back into bad eating habits, having too much interaction with toxic people could lead to setbacks I can't afford in my psyche. It is a dilemma at times. And how do you tell someone they are no good for you? That they are like the worst kind of junk food- tasty at first but leaving you with heartburn and other intestinal difficulties for days? Or tell other people that they are just a light snack, and you are saving your real appetite for someone who matters? Or even the friend you have that's not bad, you just don't want grilled chicken for a while, that it's time for some steak?
Would food analogies work do you think?
Or am I as nutty as a fruitcake?
It's time for lunch!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I thought you all might like to meet a couple of the members of my family and learn their real names.

First up is Opal. My little chihuahua. That is of course obvious but what is not is Opal's gender. He is a boy. Yeah, I know I know, Opal is a sissy girl name for such a macho little guy. There's a story there. Ya wanna hear? Silly question, of course you do!

First off, my cousin has a chihuahua and then decided to get another one. Neither dog was altered and before too long a pregnancy ensued. Bella, the momma dog(I threw that in special like for my Southern readers)was safely delivered of six(6) puppies! Now that is a large litter for most breeds, and even more so for a tiny little chihuahua! My mom decided she was going to get one of these little squirmers for herself and- knowing how I had always wanted a chi- put dibs on one for me. Since my puppy was a freebie, my only request was to get one of the bigger puppies since I have kids at home. The day came for my mom to pick up her puppy and she was very excited with her little guy-who is dark brown and now named Pickles. She called to tell me all about him and of course I asked her which puppy I would be getting. She described to me in glowing terms the little cream colored girl whom I would be getting. I immediately went out and purchased a pink collar and a girly bed and blanket and after much deliberation, picked out the name Opal. Very fitting since she would be arriving sometime around my birthday.

I was so thrilled the day I got the call that my puppy was at my cousin's cabin in the woods and would be ready for pick-up the next day! I drove with bated breath (and a sleeping baby) the entire 30 minutes it took to get there, pulled up and (leaving the car running for said sleeping baby)jumped out to retrieve my new precious darling! Oh, words cannot capture the anticipation and joy I was practically shaking with as I strode to the front door and knocked.

It wasn't my cousin that answered the door, rather one of his brothers-in-law who had come up with his family for a little vacation. As he and his children regaled me with the joys of driving eight hours with a crying puppy , followed by tales of how hard it was to sleep the previous night with said puppy still crying all I could think about was getting my hands on my new little girl.

One of the kids was sent to retrieve the precious little darling that they were by now ready to get rid of.

Imagine my surprise when I was handed a squirming bundle of fur that not only was not cream but came with a penis? What to do? Who to ask? I couldn't grill this person I had never seen before. He had the puppy he had been given. There was no other puppy with him. He was merely the delivery system for the WRONG DOG! I had a baby sleeping in the car that I had left running and therefor no time to figure out what was going on!

Having no other choice I took the little yellow fuzzball, put the pink collar on him and put him in the front seat, then took off for home. I needed to call my mom and find out how she had missed the admittedly tiny pecker on this guys cute little tummy and gotten his color completely wrong! I mean, we had several dogs during my childhood and she had been an assistant vet tech and dog groomer for pity's sake! Seriously! What had happened?

Aren't you curious too?

My mom had picked up her little guy and there were only two puppies left. One that a woman had picked out and paid for as a newborn and the last, leftover puppy that would be mine. This woman arrived to pick up her puppy and realized that she actually wanted the other one. Well, seeing as how she had actually paid for a puppy and I hadn't, she went home with the puppy she now wanted. The sweet tiny cream colored girl. Which left the not quite so tiny yellow boy. Who then found his way to the cold mountains of North Carolina.

Generally not one to look a gift horse(or dog for that matter)in the mouth-and having fallen in love with the little bugger on top of it all-I resolved to keep him and love him and squeeze him and (after some thought) NOT to call him George.

I decided to keep the pink collar, the girly pillows and the girly name. I mean, why not? He's a dog and could probably care less.

So that is the beginning of Opal's tale.

It's a good story and...I LOVE THOSE!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Tomorrow's the day.
We took pink flowers to her grave Friday, Maggie's birthday.
Can't pretend it doesn't hurt, that I am not thinking of her, missing her.
Moody, crying, eating too much, drinking too much, laughing too loud.
My throat hurts, my chest aches, parts of my body are numb.
Deep breaths don't seem to be making it all the way in.
I hold my breath, afraid I'll scream with every exhale.
Another day or two.
Grief will fade to the background.
I know it.

Friday, January 9, 2009

All out of words, at least for the moment

I just want to say how much I love second breakfast!

I found out what to do with those tomatoes that you buy super green to fry, but then you don't do it right away and then the tomatoes start turning pink so you will never have good fried green tomatoes with them so then you let them get all the way ripe but hesitate to do anything with them because you know as well as I that they just won't taste that good. So you slice them and put them in a non-stick pan sizzling with the smidgiest bit of oil and caramelize them on each side and then and only then sprinkle your fried tomatoes with salt and pepper and eat them with a toasted and buttered english muffin! Transformation! And that was second breakfast!

If you want to know what else is going on with me today you can find out by checking out the following blogs and then reading my comments in which I exhaust my creative writing for the day-so far anyway.

A Once And Future Chef???, and tangobaby ( this one has comment moderation on so you will probably have to wait awhile-annoying I know but she has her reasons.)

Ta Ta for now!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What I had for supper

So I had a cold.
I say had because the cold- for the most part- is gone. I am ever thankful for the hearty constitution that is the legacy of my peasant and Native American ancestors-though it does seem to have bypassed my back. Oh well, can't win them all.
As I mentioned yesterday, I am brilliant and had the foresight a while back to put some easily warmed up meals in the freezer(as well as that wonderful loaf of bread). And since I was a sicky and didn't really want to cook, I pulled the most delicious and hearty soup from the freezer.
This is a recipe from Africa adapted to my taste and I am surprised that it is not a staple of Southern cooking as so much of that is heavily influenced by the foods and cooking techniques brought to the Americas by slaves so long ago. Anyway, I'm not here to give culinary history lessons-though it is a fascinating subject-but to share a wonderful and deliciously different soup that is very economical to make and very satisfying to all your senses( yes, even hearing since the "Mmmm, that's good!", "I love this soup!", "Can you make that soup again Mom?" etc...are definitely a delight to my ears!) I write my recipes a little differently so please read through before starting and remember "mis en place" is a good cooks best friend!

Sweet Potato Soup

Heat in large stock pot or Dutch oven at medium to medium high:
2 T vegetable oil

1C onion chopped
1T garlic chopped
1T chili powder
1t kosher salt
1/2t cayenne pepper(optional but please try it!)

Saute until onions are almost transparent.

1/2C or about 3 average size carrots diced
1/2C or about 2 celery stalks-with the leaves!-diced
1 red bell pepper or one jar roasted red peppers diced (it is possible at my grocery to get a jar for $1.89 that contains about 3 whole peppers where as 1 "fresh" in produce can cost more than $2-get what you like as I've used both with excellent results)
2 C or about 1lb sweet potatoes peeled and diced

Continue to saute a couple of minutes.

Pour in:
4C chicken broth

This will deglaze the pot. Be prepared! Those spices will hit you right in the nose so take a step back if you're especially sensitive.

Stir in:
2C cooked shredded chicken (I almost always use leftover rotisserie chicken for this)
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatos-I like fire roasted myself
2/3C natural peanut butter( again, I use the store brand at about $2 a jar, please don't use one of those whipped hydrogenated types because it will make a big difference)

Bring soup up to a simmer and and keep it there about 30 minutes or until the veggies are tender. At this point you may want to add up to a tablespoon of sugar or even more salt, to your taste.

From beginning to end this should take maybe an hour with 30 minutes of active work. Broken down its about 15-20 minutes for prep, 10 minutes assemblage, and up to 30 minutes simmering.

Accompany this delicious soup with a nice crusty bread and dinner is served!

This recipe serves my family of 4, with enough left to freeze(up to about 3 months) and feed us all again. And, yes, even Baby loves it, cayenne and all!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Happiness for the Day

Happy Realization #1

Even when it is all dismal and grey and rainy outside, I can turn every light in the house on and have my own sunny day!

Happy Realization #2

When you are brilliant-as I am-you buy 2 loaves of bread at the grocery and put one in the freezer which means you don't have to actually go out on this dismal, grey, rainy day!

Happy Realization #3

Pretending you are Darth Vader when you have a head cold actually makes you feel better!

Monday, January 5, 2009

What's in a name?

I can't help but notice that most people out in cyberspace have monikers that aren't their given names.

I can't help but notice that I do.

I think about this, pondering why in the many years since I ventured into cyberspace all of my vehicles have carried my given name.

Why have I never assumed another name?

Why do others?

I enjoy reading their appellations, imagining what each person was thinking and feeling as they named themselves in this limitless forum. Are they creating an alter ego? Hoping to become someone completely new and different in this uncharted land removed from their everyday life? Because there is power in a name, perhaps they are singling out a favorite part of themselves, naming it in the hope of becoming more of that aspect. Maybe as children they never liked the name chosen for them by others and finally have the chance to give themselves the name they always wanted. Maybe simple privacy concerns dictate their choices. Or are there more nefarious plots afoot? Could it be illicit activity, cyber affairs? Or could it be that choosing another name allows them to express themselves openly, free from the expectations and criticisms of their family and friends?

As I write this, I question once again my continued use of my given name.

I think I've never given myself another name for several reasons, the most important being that my imagination can't find a word or phrase that I feel expresses me to myself.

But I don't need imagination's favor in this after all.

I am Brook.

I am small and clear.
I babble.
I often follow the path of least resistance, yet wear down the boulders in my path.
I pick up silt and debris but can't carry it far, so leave it behind me.
Some days I am a trickle, and others a raging flood.
Shallow in some spots and surprisingly deep in others,
one could cross my path and never get wet or be swept away by the current.
I cherish my source yet always seek what lies just around the bend.
Unpredictable yet always true to my nature,

I am Brook

You knew me before I could know myself
and gave me the gift of this Word that is Me,
Thank You

Saturday, January 3, 2009

What doesn't go together?

Naps and baths don't go together.
Ask me how I know that as I gasp and splutter to the surface.
We had company-beloved, much missed company to be sure-for the past three days. Entertaining is fun but can be exhausting and this time it left me glad I don't have a boy, or multiple young children.
Understand, I love-ABSOLUTELY LOVE-having company, and spend the night company is wonderful. Sometimes I wished we still lived in the days of weekend house parties because I so love it. You all may have figured out that I am a little crazy like that.
When the party's all over and everyone is gone I usually feel a great, quiet pride in myself for conducting the affair so well. Satisfied that everyone had a wonderful time, stimulating conversation, and delicious food. Tired but at the same time thrilled. Especially since the people I love to have visit and stay awhile are my very favorite and my best -to quote Lola of "Charlie and Lola" fame.
However, I forgot that I don't especially like small children.
No, that is not true, I like kids-I just don't like the noise and chaos that small children surround themselves in. Especially since kiddie chaos is expontially multiplied by a factor of at least 3 when more than one kiddie is present. I don't freak out or go ballistic, I just get wound really tight. Like a music box given one turn too many, you just know a tooth is gonna break(actually that has happened to me but that is another story).
So, anyway...
Much visiting, a couple of weird movies, little kid screeches, footballs in the sink, driving winding roads guaranteed to cause carsickness,, running in "high heels"on wood floors, pushing cars at breakneck speeds up and down the hall, one dog scratched face and one bad boy bite on a little girl tummy later I decided to take a luxurious bath and relax.
It worked, I relaxed right to sleep.
Cough, splutter, gag, gack, hack.
Next time I'll just lay down for a nap.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

shhhhh I have a headache...

New Years Resolutions

Don't drink champagne anymore
Don't leave the other bottle of champagne in the freezer overnight

That's pretty much it, except for waiting out the hangover.
shhhhhh, I have a headache...