Monday, December 5, 2016

the quotidian (12.5.16)

Quotidian: daily, usual or customary; 
everyday; ordinary; commonplace

I suspected I wouldn't like this apple tea and I was right.

They disappeared way too fast.

Lebkuchen: the dough sits at room temp for two months (!!!) before baking.

Pfeffernusse: the real kind, with two dots over the "u."

Dog in a bucket.

Cat in a basket.

Startling: a size comparison.

Christmas show at the horse farm.

In  the haystack: a city of burrows.

He  builds things.

Elevated walking.


Late fall.

This same time, years previous: oatmeal sandwich bread, the college conundrum, in my kitchen: 6:44 p.m., cinnamon raisin bread, baked ziti, 17 needles and 4 children, the quotidian (12.5.11), bellydancing... in public, raisin-filled cookies, and chocolate truffle cake,

Friday, December 2, 2016

writing: behind the scenes

I haven’t been here all that much lately. Maybe you noticed?

I want to be here—I miss this space—and I am here, just not here here, if you know what I mean.

It’s the book that’s taking up all my time. Well, that and baking and going to the theater and spending time with the kids (because for some odd reason they persist in needing me) and cooking extra turkey dinners because TURKEY and writing Facebook birthday emails to friends that go like so:
This morning the power went out so I couldn’t shower, get supper in the crock pot, flush the toilets, make my coffee, or check email, Also, I couldn’t go running because it was raining, the kids were squabbly, and not a single one of the five mousetraps my husband set caught the mouse that has been plaguing us. I hope your day is going better than mine. Happy Birthday. 
About the book: the going is slow. Torturously slow. I started the whole thing over (no joke) and while I’m happy I did (because I finally feel like I might—maybe, maybe, maybe—be on the right track) it still kinda stinks because STARTING OVER.

But it’s okay. Really.

Though sometimes, I confess (quite readily), I get soooo weary of fighting for writing time.

It’s hard enough, dredging up the self-discipline to plop my butt down and type, but there are an infinite number of other things that must be attended to if I am to write.

First, there’s the child care for the younger two and the juggling of the older kids’ work and study schedules, and coordinating Melissa’s work transportation. If the older kids are at home while I’m writing, I have to give them to-do lists so Life Can Go On while I’m squirreled away in my lonely torture chamber I MEAN WRITER’S GARRET.

Second, there’s self-care prep work. If I’m to think properly (ha), I must have a decent night’s sleep, and exercise, too, so I don’t completely rot into a pile of nothingness. This means I have to go to bed in good time so I can wake up in good time to go running with my crotchety husband who almost always insists on fighting about running in the morning because dark/rain/cold/early/you name it even though he knows he’s going to lose so I don’t know why he bothers. Then, of course, there’s my shower to take, my clothes to put on, my coffee to make. After which I have to prod the kids downstairs, wrench their books from their rigid claws, de-glaze their eyes, supervise their chores, and then actually get everyone where they need to be.

All that to carve out a measly two or three hours of time for something I dread with every fiber of my being and that may not ever even see the light of day, hello, existential crisis.

Actually, it’s not all bad. I get a buzz from tearing words from my brain (call me weird), and I have committed cheerleaders who wade through my muck and help point the way, bless their hearts.

The bad news: There’s no fast way through this mess, so I’ll see you in ten years.

The good news: I have something to work on, yay.

Anyway, after writing all morning, come lunch time I’m generally so screened-and-thunked-out that the mere thought of composing a blog post makes me want to weep. Instead, I sit on the sofa and scroll idly while drinking the coffee that’s supposed to make me productive while battling waves of guilt because real writers churn it out and I could do more if I pushed harder. And then it’s time to make supper, and oh crap, I still haven’t checked my older daughter’s algebra and, Whoa-oa, THAT’S what my son calls that a clean bathroom?

And thus concludes my long-winded explanation for my skimpy posting. The end.

PS. In case you're wondering, the man in the above photos is one of the owners at the farm where my daughter works.

This same time, years previous: in the sweet kitchen, the quotidian (12.1.14), nanny sitting, Thanksgiving of 2013, sushi!!!, the quotidian (12.3.12), Friday variety, Mom's cabbage salad, beef bourguignon, and potatoes in cream with Gruyere.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Chattanooga Thanksgiving of 2016

Hell on wheels, is what I call car trips. Stuffing everyone into an excruciatingly small space, strapping them down, and then barreling down the interstate at breakneck speeds… I mean, really. It’s insane. 

However, I am happy to report that despite my poor attitude and a new (old) van that has hardly any foot room for the back seat riders (seriously? of all the possible design flaws and they screw up foot space?!?!), the trip was surprisingly bearable, mostly thanks to a flip-down monitor and a bag full of DVDs.

Movies are magic, amen and hallelujah.

We  made it to the big green house filled with cousins and spent the next few days doing all the things that one does at Thanksgiving.

Our specifics included:

Running: a 5K, around town, and, in this case, indoors at 12 mph and on an incline.

Eating so much cheese that we started using it as an art medium.

Lounge-about games.

Stand-in-a-line-and-make-faces games.


Island eating, and cleaning up, and eating, and cleaning up, and eating, and....

Getting a kick out of the little zester that turned the making of the cranberry sauce into art.

Ze  Hostesses on La Sofah.

Letter tiles: for offical bananagram matches and random word building parties.

Homeschooling discussions.

Younger brother pokes older brother and voila, a smile!

A walk to the cemetery.

My  contribution to the T-day feast.

Arm wrestling matches. 
(Girl on the left scoops ice cream for a living and gave my husband a run for his money.)

The Saltine Cracker Challenge: 4 saltines in 1 minute.

Chatting with the Hong Kong relations.

And then we came home and I dug the turkey I bought last week out of the freezer because the design flaw of going away over Thanksgiving is The We-Just-Celebrated-Thanksgiving-And-Have-No-Leftovers Problem. So this Thursday is slated to be our Second Thanksgiving Extravaganza. Bonus: I get to experiment with my sister-in-law's killer turkey recipe while it's still fresh in my mind. Can't wait!

PS. I should probably share that my sister-in-law pulled the whole thing off without a stove top—it broke/popped/exploded (depending on who is telling the story) right before we all descended. She never even batted an eye, that woman.

This same time, years previous: apple crumb pie, Chattanooga Thanksgiving of 2015, the day before, a treat, kale pomegranate salad, Thanksgiving of 2012, monster cookies, peppermint lip balm, Thanksgiving of 2011, Thanksgiving of 2010, and apple chutney.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

curried Jamaican butternut soup

A few weeks ago I attended a fundraiser planning meeting at a local restaurant. At the end of the meeting, one of the women—who happened to also be one of the restaurant managers—scurried into the back. She had some gluten-free bread she wanted us to taste, she said. But when she returned, she was carrying not just the bread, but cute little bowls of curried squash soup to go with it.

Someone serving me food? From out of the blue? What a thrill!

“Not counting the toppings, it’s only five ingredients,” announced the manager.

“And they are...?” I coaxed, my mouth full.

She rattled them off: butternut, coconut milk, curry (Jamaican curry), cayenne, and salt. I noticed she didn’t count the green onions scattered atop the soup, so maybe salt doesn’t count as one of the five ingredients? Whatever. Either way, the point is: the soup is a minimalist’s dream. (And, as the restaurant manager gleefully pointed out, it’s vegan and gluten-free, so there’s that, too.)

With my last piece of (quite good!) gluten-free bread, I scraped the bowl clean, sighed deeply, and vowed to replicate the soup for myself.

Which I’ve now done—twice! The first time I made it, I was just messing around, trying to hit the right flavor notes. The second time, I wrote down the amounts as I went.

A few notes worth mentioning:

1. The soup is not pureed, so there are little chunks of tender butternut. This is good.
2. There is no chopping of onions or mincing of garlic! (The green onions don’t count.)
3. The green onions are a must, for color, crunch, and bite.
4. The kids, while not fans, all eat this, no prob.

Curried Jamaican Butternut Soup
Copycatted from a local restaurant.

I hear you can make your own Jamaican curry powder, but I haven't tried it for myself.

4 cups roasted butternut squash
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
2 cups water, maybe more
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne (I used chili Coban), maybe more
2-3 tablespoons Jamaican curry powder, maybe more
toppings: minced green onions and (my addition) sour cream

Put the squash, milk, water, and spices into a saucepan and mash to combine. Heat through. If you’d like a thinner soup, add more water. Taste to correct spices. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with green onions and sour cream.

This same time, years previous: apple crumb pie, apple raisin bran muffins, in my kitchen: 7:35 am, how to use up Thanksgiving leftovers in 10 easy steps, a big day at church, cranberry pie with cornmeal streusel topping, apple rum cake, steel-cut oatmeal, and potato leek soup.

Monday, November 21, 2016

the quotidian (11.21.16)

Quotidian: daily, usual or customary; 
everyday; ordinary; commonplace

Post-election therapy.

Beans and greens.

Peanut butter cream: a thank you pie for the neighbor who loaned her his trailer.

My  older daughter's attempt to season the skillet.

I told them to stop talking so they wrote notes instead.

Christmas lullabies.

Cleaning tack (with expensive olive oil, grr).

On  the "ah-ya" (short for caballo).

After much searching (soul, internet, and store), new kicks for the mama.

Best buds.

Still can't beat his papa.

Herding cats: what taking a family photo is like.

PS. A couple fun (family-friendly) videos: this one gave me the shivers, and this one (watch it all the way to the end) kept me up at night, wondering and giggling.

This same time, years previous: spiced applesauce cake with caramel glaze, in my kitchen: noon, sock curls, official, the quotidian (11.19.12), ushering in the fun, orange cranberry bread, and chocolate pots de creme.