Tuesday, May 21, 2013

May Sweetness

Birthday was good even with the working in the middle. I made this for dinner. Thank you, Martha! I got too hungry while getting it done but after splashing some beer down my front I sat down and ate something and everything improved. This tart is so good I can hardly believe it. It's an olive oil crust and was easier to work with than I expected. I rolled it out and then pressed it into the pan to be a fairly even thickness. I made it in a metal pie plate and it got too dark but not quite scorched, a narrow escape. I will check it after 25 minutes next time. Didn't know if I had enough greens, one and a half pounds is a lot of leaves. I used all of the spinach from our farm share, a little nub of frozen stuff plus some chard. It was enough. I didn't chop the greens after squeezing them. I just squeezed with my hands, no towel. I had no red pepper flakes so I added a little chile powder, I would try more of that next time. Kat didn't think the finished product looked appealing but she liked it once she had a taste. I can't fault her adventurous approach. If it's veggie, she'll try it. Bun had something else, her adventurous approach to eating hasn't emerged yet.

The beer was Odell's 90 Schilling which I have decided is my current favorite. Another good one from Colorado. We like their 5 Barrel too. It's a pale ale which is more Nod's thing but I was surprised how much taste it has.

Bun sang me the birthday song. I bought lunch for my coworkers which was fun for me. I wore clothes I liked and sniffed some roses. May all your birthdays be so happy.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Talent free

Elementary school talent show. It was today. Both girls performed and both Nod and I attended. I had forgotten that there is no screening process or audition step to the talent show prep. The children do not have to demonstrate that they have talent, they only have to sign up for a slot. I worked hard at not snarking at children. There were children who sang wonderfully and there were children who couldn't carry a note in a bucket. There was terrible gymnastics and wonderful gymnastics. The terrible magic tricks were actually charming and blessedly brief. There was a hula hoop bit that had me biting my lip. Bun played a piano piece she had memorized. Near the end she got onto a wrong chord. She played it tentatively a few times, apparently hoping it would resolve itself into something more familiar sounding. Then she hit the correct ending chord with a good firmness. Whatever it takes, go out confidently. Kat played piano accompanying her friend who sang Here Comes The Sun. Both 5th graders who are poised for middle school, they were the last act and ended it with a bang. Another 5th grade girl sang a song with her dad accompanying on guitar. It was sweet and unaffected and I started crying. Kind of embarrassing. I think it was partially the emotional swings of trying not to sneer or wince at the terrible performances and then being hit with something so keen. Nod tells me the dad is a local music legend.

Lordy I think we're going to make it through this week. Kat is hearing lots of chatter about people dressing up for 5th grade recognition. She wasn't intending to but now feels she should make an effort. We went through her closet last night and discovered that she's grown out of all her sundresses. But there is a skirt and top that fit so she's got her outfit ready. Now she wants to get her hair cut in an inverted bob. I'm willing, we'll see what the Great Clips ladies can do.

Dreadnought has a droopy something under the front left quadrant. Nod says he can zip tie it up. I need to remind (nag, chivvy, implore) him.

It's iris time now. Gotta love the Midwest in the springtime. The parade of flowers is fabulous. The trees are all leafed out with that fresh green (except for the plums with burgundy foliage). It's light until 8:45 at night now, super duper twilight time.


Pasting this here, found on Metafilter:  Literature lectures by Dr. Catherine Brown, Oxford University. I hope I get the chance to listen to them later. But do I need to read Atonement and Daniel Deronda first? Maybe so.

Just finished my space war soap opera book last night. Am giving up on the books that are increasing my anxiety rather than relieving it: Major Pettigrew's Last Stand and Here, Home, Hope. The first I really liked but wished the character or the book was more accepting of events. I felt a lot of tension. The second was breezy and funny and not my sort of thing at all. I probably hadn't gotten to the real conflict of the book yet, sorry Ms. Rouda. I feel much less oppressed by my reading list now. Will whip through the last Dr. Siri book and am planning to feel closure about that series. I have the next Ann Cleeves book but will wait to see if it grabs me. And I might try Daniel Deronda... I never had to read it for school.

Iron Man 3, we went to see it last Saturday evening. The 6:05pm showing was as unpopular as I'd hoped so no problem with finding seats. Everyone enjoyed it but I found it a bit dark for the kids. I tend to worry that my mass entertainment choices are going to upset them. Kat was clinging to Nod's arm for part of it because the Extremis people were scary. Perhaps I should try taking less responsibility for their fears. Good ending and talking about it afterwards we realized that it made a neat and tidy end for the trilogy. Ol' Paltrow does a good job. I realized that I really respect her acting in these movies. Her onscreen role is mostly as a listener: she listens to Tony spout, to the bad guys when they're pretending to be good and then when they're exulting in their baditude. And she does it so well that she is actually entertaining and seems like a dynamic character. Impressive.

Another food in the form of pancake recipe:  Okonomiyaki veggie pancakes from SmittenKitchen. (Note: they may  not actually resemble okonomiyaki as prepared in Japan.) I didn't like the sound of her ketchupy sauce suggestion so looked up some sesame soy concoctions. Here's one if you need to make 7 cups of dipping sauce! It actually sounds good so I may try to cut that one down. Or just throw some soy, sesame oil, rice vinegar and sugar together and call it good.

I made a batch of tabouli last night. I failed to find bulgur wheat at the store so I made it with whole wheat couscous instead which was probably much easier. I started with this recipe but just suited myself as far as proportions went. (3 cups of chopped parsley??) Quick and easy. We got flat leaf parsley in our farm basket last week (stars, hearts, happy bunnies). And the mint is booming in the herb patch so we are well supplied herbally. If a store has a bulk section aren't they morally obligated to stock bulgur wheat? I took the tabouli to a potluck we had to say goodbye to one of our neighbors who is moving to Washington state. She's moving for very good reasons but Nod and I are feeling sad that their family won't be around any more. The baked potato bar was a big success and we were worried that there wouldn't be enough spuds to go around so we encouraged the greedy chillen to start with half a potato and go back for more later. I got half a potato and felt very self-denying. Then I ate tabouli and miso soup and a little ice cream and somehow I never got around to more potato. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


I did a 'noodle blog' search and found a few treasures. I'm still giggling over the name of Full Noodle Frontity. He also writes about SF area food trucks in Geezericious. Tasty goodness.

Word of the day = winglet. Here's a story about UPS adding winglets (those little upswoops at the end of the wings) to their jets to reduce drag and cut noise. Hooray for winglets!

Staggering through the week. Last night's softball practice started at 7pm at a schoolyard I had never visited before. I was feeling weary and kept hoping Nod would come home so I could pass the softball parent torch. But he didn't get in until we were going to the car. Bun got her hat and her knee socks and sneakers on and grabbed her mitt. I put a grown up face on and drove out to the park. Found some girls playing softball and ambled over. I listened in when the coach was addressing the parents but it wasn't our team. Our team (3rd and 4th grade girls) was just going out to play catch. Bun and her friend went out and had a respectable practice. It looks like it won't take as many practices this year to remind the girls what they're trying to do out on the field. It was toasty until the sun went down and then it was breezy delightful cakes. I read some of my space opera novel and caught up with Bun's friend's mom. Bun's friend La looks like a Chuck Jones cartoon little girl with big round eyes and cuteness and a bit of manic zeal. She is still growing out of her lisp in 3rd grade. Her mom's pregnant and they will have a little boy by early June. I will be happy to take La to most of the softball practices/games.

Oh right, Mother's Day. I was a little creeped out by it this year. Nod was feeling pressure to give me a wonderful day. I hate that kind of pressure. The kids made me cards which was fine. Kat's was sweet. Bun's was perfunctory, did not hurt my feelings but I like the print she brought home from art class better. We picked asparagus on Saturday morning at our favorite farm/store. It was windy but good to be outside under the sky. I stupidly wore sandals and am recording that fact so that I remember never to do that again. I still have a splinter that needs attention. Then poor planning kept us from brunching where we wanted to. Ended up at the loud music build your own burrito place. Tasty and we got a sunny porch table out of the wind. This calls for more brunching later in the month, says I.

Random baby name thought: one could name a girl Ursula and call her Sully. Although now that I've typed it I think I'd have to spell it Sullie to avoid the echo of sully as a verb. And then again maybe not.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Your NPR name
This Atlantic article about the poetry of NPR reporters' names is wonderful. There's even a game, create your own NPR nom de radio:
novelist Liana Maeby suggests sticking your middle initial in your first name, and adding it to the smallest foreign place you've ever visited. 
That makes her NPR name Liarna Kassel. Mine is Jednine Monaco. Happy claps! I have often chanted Ofeibea Quist-Arcton's and Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson's names after hearing their signoffs.

Am wrung out again. I felt this way often during the first few years of Kat starting elementary school. Lots of deadlines during the week, none of them very challenging but piled on top of each other they overwhelm. Yesterday I took Kat to school early so she could give a presentation about the school worm farm to the Breakfast Optimists group. I guess that they give money to the school and so I thought it was important. Kat was grumbling about giving up sleep to go in 30 minutes early but when the principal asked her to come she assented. I remembered to leave my cell phone at home at lunch. That way the girls can call me when they get home and can coordinate with their music teacher as to when lessons start. I took both girls with me to the parents welcome night at Kat's new middle school where she'll start classes in August. This morning I braided hair and worked wire through it so they could have gravity defying braids for Crazy Hair Day. I am ready for a nap. Passport applications will have to wait until next week. I am choosing to go to lunch with the work women instead. The joy of getting the passport applications on their way will wait until next Wednesday when I haul the kids in front of the Post Office official.

Eggplant and Cocktails
I am fantasizing about getting my eggplant sliced oiled and broiled. I may need more excitement in my life. Last night was beautiful weather and a handful of neighbors including Nod sat out on the Common House porch and had cocktails. I joined them after returning from middle school but my tum was roiling so I did not partake. I want to host a cocktail hour and dispense whiskey sours now that I have learned to make them so well. (2T lemon juice, 2T simple syrup, 4T whiskey, ice. I should probably double check these amounts with the orange slip of paper I have in my kitchen drawer.)

A woman writes about her feelings about her belly. Graceless short version: having a saggy belly is better than being dead. It's good and makes me tear up.

Monday, May 6, 2013

adocado links

Nothing but links so I don't forget them.

A couple of avocado hummus recipes as I wait for my avocados to ripen.
a cozy kitchen blog
the lovely cupboard blog

No knead bread in a crockpot???
Mind blown. Will report back.

Recommendations for sex ed books from an Ask Metafilter thread:
1. Girl's Guide to Becoming a Teen by the American Medical Association talks about sex in a matter-of-fact way and also mentions that neither party should feel pressured to do anything they don't feel ready for. It talks about birth control and STDs. It has two paragraphs about masturbation for girls which is way more than the average when it comes to these types of books. 

2. It's Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris. It's a little more text heavy but totally readable by someone her age. It also talks bluntly about having safe sex in a positive light. And, it also has diagrams of both male and female sex organs so it's not as much of a mystery. [I've read this one and it's good.]


And as a follow up, here's Catherine Newman writing about her kids talking about what words really mean and questioning categories in a delightful way.

Hungry? How about Sesame Noodles from The Pioneer Woman?

  • 12 ounces Thin Noodles, Cooked And Drained
  • 1/4 cup Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons Pure Sesame Oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Hot Chili Oil
  • 4 Tablespoons Canola Oil
  • 4 whole Green Onions, Sliced Thin
Preparation Instructions
Whisk all ingredients (except noodles and green onions) together in a bowl. Taste and adjust ingredients as needed.
Pour sauce over warm noodles and toss to coat.
Sprinkle with green onions and toss.

Thursday, May 2, 2013


That's a Belgian rainbow but I didn't note the date, something the Waffle posted last fall perhaps? (It'll actually be from several years ago knowing my memory.)(After searching: 9/21/11, not *so* far off.)

I've started reading five books so far. Just picked up a sixth last night that I'm ready to dive into. This seems like too many books to have going at once. I was trying to finish off The Coffin Trail, a well written conventional British murder mystery. And then I lost the book. I brought it downstairs when I came down for breakfast on Tuesday morning and I have not seen it since. There! a real-life mystery of my very own. Except it contains very little mystery and is just plenty annoying. Now I'm trying to finish off the supernatural-police-procedural-gay-male-romance. Because that's the easiest read. Wink.

The living room is still covered with piles of books. I realized that I could not allow our family to go to the friends of the library book sale last weekend because we are overflowing with books. We'll get a couple more boxes out of our house and then we can go to the next one in the fall. Mmm, books, delicious books.

I'm watching the sleet and soggy snow come down outside the window. It's falling fast, we could possibly have an inch of accumulation by nightfall. But that is the most dramatic possibility so it seems rather unlikely. I am not depressed by this and figure the weather will switch back to warm again in a couple of days. Our forecast this week kept making me laugh every time I looked at it: high 70s and 80s for three days and then rain/sleet/snow and highs in the 40s for three days. No tornado warnings yet.

Nod has discovered the wonders of frozen spinach and keeps eating it on pizza. Good for you, Popeye! I've been making pasta a lot and am ready for something else. I was reading a kid's cookbook of Indian recipes. Sadly, I won't be making samosas because I am unwilling to deep fry anything.

I am appalled by their activities and the fact of their continued existence but nonetheless my ears always perk up when I hear about Al-Shabaab. That is a great name. The Council on Foreign Relations link tells me it means "the youth" in Arabic, so I'll just say those are my favorite Arabic words rather than my favorite militant group name.