Tag Archives: cooking

Just call me Norm.

I remember when I used to have a bar. My bar. I went there almost every night. If I missed a night or even two I felt like it had been ages since I had been there. If I missed three days, forget it. I started to convince myself that there would be new regulars by the time I got there, a new bartender, even worse – a new doorman.

You guys are “my bar.” And this is my way of apologizing. Here. It’s my ID. I will show it to the doorman in an effort to say “Hey, I don’t expect you to know who I am anymore, I know it seems like I haven’t been here in weeks, but it has only been six days.”

What have I been doing? Umm. Nothing extraordinary. I have fallen in to a good routine. I have been to the gym every day. Even days that I did not want to go. At all.

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I have read board books until my eyes have crossed. I have passed these rhyming nonsensical books off to my seven year old and asked her to read them. We all read and read and read some more. I love that my sweet girls like books. I do. But so help me, a day without “Goodnight, Moon” would not be a day without sunshine.

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I made the most incredibly perfect sunny side up eggs. The yolks were golden and they required not even a pinch of salt. It has been well over a year since I have purchased an egg in a store.

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I get my eggs from a friend. This week I met that friend for lunch. I left with two dozen eggs from Heritage Acres Farm and some knowledge. After lunch we took a quick stroll around downtown and she clued me in to the fact that there is an unbelievable little vintage shop near the post office. Uniquitiques. I am a sucker for vintage aprons and linens. A rack of cute dresses that probably won’t fit a girl like me with a nursing rack. But there was a book case of vintage boots. Vintage. Cowgirl Boots. Oh, hello. A sweet lady said “Oh, you like the boots, follow me.” We followed her through her maze of a shop.

And then my eyes fell out of my head and I dropped to my knees.

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Row upon row upon row of boots, y’all. Rooms full of boots.  ROOMS.  They’re not cheap. But they don’t have to be. For the gal that wants an unbelievable pair of boots and wants to shrug and say “these old things?” when someone says “Good gawd, those are Gorgeous!” this is the promised land.

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I took Lucy in for her 12 month well visit. Two months late.  She is a-ok.  She is long and lean with a freakishly large noggin.

I took myself in to the doc for my annual reminder that I have allergies.  Some years my seasonal allergies rest in my sinus cavities and give me headaches that feel like dirty, dirty Mad Dog hangovers.  This year I am feeling lucky to have an ear infection. I skipped a swim workout and opted for extra cardio instead.  Lucy skipped a morning nap and we made up for late in the afternoon.  A couple of hours of shut eye and we are feeling pretty super.

 

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I have Easter lights up in my kitchen.  The Easter Bunny will be stuffing plastic eggs with jelly beans and chucking them around the yard this weekend.  No chocolate in the eggs this year, the weather is too outrageous.  It was in the 30s this week but it could be 70 by Sunday.

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So, that’s what you missed.  A whole lotta nothing.  I have fallen in to a good routine.  Just in time to hit the road for Spring Break and mess it all up, but that’s how it always works, right?  Get your kids and your house and your head in to a groove and then turn it on its head.

Speaking of heads.  There was a day this week, maybe even two, that I did not hate my hair.  I still long for my sock bun and I am sick and tired of sporting the “I am growing out my bangs, what’s YOUR problem?” face and accompanying barrettes. But just one day that I look in the mirror and think “Ok.  So, that kind of looks like it isn’t a wig or someone else’s head.” Yeah.  That’s not too bad.

How about you?  What’s shakin’? I haven’t seen you in forever.

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Keep it simple, stupid.

I have a knack for making things more difficult than they need to be.  I imagine conversations that will probably never take place.  When I drive I am thinking about what I will say when I arrive if I am late (even though I will be toting along the finest excuse for running late there ever was, a 20 pound machine that ejects bodily fluids at random intervals.) When I nurse my baby in public I prepare clever responses to judgey looks, even though I am one of few women that has actually never been on the receiving end of one.

Lately, as I keep putting one foot in front of the other aimlessly, I am mentally preparing some kind of justification.  Lucy is 13 months old.  Emily would rather be with her pals than with me after school.  But what I am doing here, at home, is important.  It is maybe even more special to me to be home with the girls now as they get older than it was in the early days.  And I like being available to volunteer at school.  I have the time to shop sales for the things we need.  And we save a lot of money on groceries with me being home, cooking every day. And and and … I could go on. But no one ever asks me “So, when are you going back to work? Why are you still home?’

Probably more important than the nameless, faceless strangers that I imagine asking me that question is that my husband, the one person who has an opinion that counts, he isn’t pushing me.  I shot him a line the other day “Don’t forget I have that committee meeting tonight.”  It was his second day at his brand new job.  And I was nagging him about when he would be home.  His reply was short and sweet.  But it has eclipsed all of the imaginary nay-sayers in my mind.  “No problem.  I am glad you’re doing these things.”

I don’t know what I am going to do in the next few years.  I am still running in place.  Two miles today.  And a 1600 yard swim.  I’m not even all that anxious about the fact that I don’t know where I am going.  Because when I get to the finish line MQD will be there.

I can’t see the path but the finish line is crystal clear.   With tears in my eyes I’ll say “I did it!” and with his signature smirk, that one that drives me nuts in every sense of the word he’ll say “Of course, you did.”

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20130228-134803.jpgToday’s challenge – Invent a new way to peel a potato.  I am a red bliss potato, leave the skins on kind of girl.  But when I have to peel them I have a gadget, of course.  I am a lover of the kitchen gadget.  This obsession is fed  by my mother-in-law, another lover of the kitchen gadget.  A peeler that slips over your finger.  And like all great deals in the kitchen store, you can’t just have one, you need two.  One of them is serrated, for my serrated peeling needs.

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Last night I peeled potatoes.  (And then I spent quite some time trying to take a picture of mashed potatoes that looked appetizing.) I didn’t invent a new way.  But I didn’t use my kitchen gadget, either.  I just grabbed a paring knife and peeled those bad boys.  You know, it was really simple.  Making things more complicated than necessary might be one of those things I used to do when I was young if I keep this up.  I could get used to it.

So, day 91 – I am not going to reinvent potato peeling, motherhood or marriage.  I am just going to keep doing what I am doing.  Because it’s working.

Balance

It’s no mystical secret that life is a careful balancing act. Every single decent therapist I have ever spoken to has said within twenty minutes “Well, Kelly, it sounds like you need to find some balance and I can’t tell you how to do that.” Well, I am not forking out $125 an hour for you to ask me questions.

Balance. I have spent my entire adult life looking for it. Work and play time. Ambition and relaxation. Exercise and diet. Save money for your future but live in the moment.

Looking crazed, I thought I’d be gone for hours!! Free as a bird!!

I work really hard to keep balance in my life currently. Take care of everyone else and take care of me. It isn’t easy. I left the house this afternoon with the intention of staying gone for a few hours. I have never been away from Lucy for more than about 90 minutes but MQD and Emily were both home. She had a full belly. She had just had a nap. She would be fine and I needed to get out. Bad.

MQD is pretty good about not crying wolf. I wasn’t gone 45 minutes before he sent the first text “We have a very sad baby.” I was getting my nails done. Yup. I am that shallow. Once a month I take an hour for myself and that is what I choose to do. Judge me, if you like. It makes me feel pretty. I sent him one back “Bring her to me, I can’t leave just yet.” He got things calmed down on the homefront and ultimately I was even able to stop and get milk on the way home. That’s right. I went to the grocery store. Party on, Wayne.

I could have stayed out longer. But I wanted to be home. Walking through stores window shopping or sitting somewhere drinking a cup of coffee wishing I was at home would not make me happy. I took my perfectly manicured fingernails home and strapped on an apron. Emily and I sat on the floor in the kitchen and we grated six zucchinis while Lucy took out every single piece of tupperware we own. And I was happy.

That might have been enough Balance for the day. But enough is never enough for me.

After I whipped up some ridiculously good zucchini bread (slammed full of vegetables and almonds for protein power!) I sat back and thought “I’m not cooking another god damned thing today!”

For breakfast tomorrow my family will have delicious zucchini bread made with love and natural sweeteners. For dinner tonight? I taught Emily how to line up Scoops Tostitos chips and place a loving dollop of canned hot dog chili in each one. Then we put some cheese on those bad boys and slid them in the oven.

Because it is all about balance. Em had a fever this weekend and was under the weather. I told her she could have anything she wanted for lunch, anything at all. She picked salad. SALAD.

My girls will grow up loving vegetables. But some day, many years from now, I hope they will both stumble through a 24 hour grocery store after the bars close and grab some Tostito Scoops, a 79 cent can of chili made with godknowswhat and some cheese. Her friends will encourage her to just put them in the microwave (or cook them with their space-aged cell phones) and she’ll say “No way, man, my mom made these when we were kids and you have to take your time and line up the chips and cook them in the oven.”

If it sounds like I hope my kids grow up to occasionally stumble drunkenly through a grocery store and eat food that is one step above low level dog food, yes, I do. They will also probably buy their vegetables from the farmer’s market and recycle like their life depends on it. And that, friends, is Balance.

It’s not hard to picture her drunkenly stumbling around, actually.

Snow & Comfort Food

The snow has melted.  Less than 24 hours later and there is almost no evidence of what may prove to be the only snow fall we see this winter.  But my refrigerator and my stomach still tell the tale.

Em had the day off school yesterday and we had big plans.  We were going to eat.  And stay in our pajamas.  (And watch Judy Moody’s Not Bummer Summer, but I was slightly less excited about that than she was. ) I checked in with MQD mid-morning to see what he’d like for dinner and he responded immediately “Shepherd’s Pie.”  I’ve never made Shepherd’s Pie but as far as I know, there is no way to ruin meat, gravy and mashed potatoes in a casserole dish. 

Early yesterday afternoon it seemed like my dreams might not be realized.  By lunchtime I was out of my pajamas and running to the store for a five pound bag of potatoes.  An hour later I was peeling that bag of potatoes while Lucy slept in her car seat.

While the potatoes boiled Em and I watched some of her movie and I fed the little lady.  I erroneously thought she might get back to sleep.  In case you are wondering, if you are ever preparing to enter a contest that includes the Triple Dog Dare Challenge  “Mash five pounds of potatoes with your right hand while you jiggle an eleven pound baby with your left hand” I’m your girl.

Later that evening MQD says “Dinner looks good, baby” and I suppose I could have been more humble.  “It damn well better, the potatoes alone took me two hours.”

I promise it is not my lack of employment that is making me all cook-y.  It’s the cold weather.  Two winters ago was the Winter of Italian Wedding Soup.  This month marks the start of the Winter of Shepherd’s Pie.  I cheated a bit and used McCormick’s Brown Gravy mix because I forgot to grab Worcestershire at the store.  But it was a smashing success.  I will be eating and then repeating this meal.

Em was Clean Plate Club all the way.

Lest you think I am gonna get all whole foods, hippie dippy on you…. fear not.  We had dessert, too.  A certain little lady turned one month old yesterday.  So a cake was in order.  I’ve seen this recipe before but decided to give it a go.  The Two Ingredient Cake. Pick your poison – One can of soda, one box of cake mix. Mix.  Cook and enjoy.  We opted for Sprite and Strawberry cake.  Cream cheese frosting, of course.

It has that Pop Rocks  “Holy shit what I am eating is totally artificial” flavor and it makes my teeth feel like they are wearing a sweater but damn… it is tasty.

I cooked this entire dinner with a wide awake one month old Lucy bouncing on my shoulder.  Evidently it wore her out.  Because she fell asleep in the middle of her party.

The Pre-Party can sneak up on you, little lady.  Take it from your mother.  She has slept through a few parties in her day.