Monday, April 20, 2015

the quotidian (4.20.15)

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


SPRING.


Supper prep.


After waiting two loooong months for the from-China delivery: replacing the wings.


Confession: at our house, shit flies. In this case, literally.


Perfect for budding drivers: our new-to-us beater car. 
It's stick shift! (Or "stick fish," depending on who is talking.)


Ready for church.


I can't do this.


Like his father: a surge of frustration with a malfunctioning object
and it is, suddenly and swiftly, flipped and fixed.


Sibs.


How many kids does it take to bathe the baby?


My brother grilled us a feast.


The meaty line-up: "I feel like an American."

This same time, years previous: Omri, joining the club, fun and fiasco: chapter two, fun and fiasco: chapter three, nutmeg coffee cake, loose ends, the quotidian (4.16.12), and then he shot me through the heart, picking us up, mint wedding cake, ground pork and white bean chili, banana cake and creamy peanut butter frosting, and baked spaghetti.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

cheesy popcorn

At our house, Sunday evenings are family night. We get a movie, cut up apples, and make two giant bowls of popcorn: one spicy and the other cheesy. Actually, I wrote about the tradition here. No need to say more.

Except to share the recipe for the cheesy popcorn! It's not really a recipe, but since you can't buy it in the store and I don't see recipes for this particular snack floating around the web, I can only assume that your cheesy popcorn enjoyment rests firmly on my shoulders. DO NOT FEAR. I, the bearer of cheesy popcorn deliciousness, AM HERE.

Responsibility is such a burden.

But before the recipe, here's a list of some of the family-night movies we've watched. I've only just recently started to keep track and I'm kicking myself for my shortsightedness. Finding a good family movie is no small feat (I get so sick of cartoon trash), and I regret not keeping more detailed records to, you know, share with the world that is resting on my shoulders.

Family Night Movies 
Disclaimer: my children are ages 9-15. My oldest, by age nine, had only been exposed to basic Disney stuff. My youngest, by age nine, has seen all of Harry Potter. 
In other words, my standards have evolved. 

Christmas Story: classic!
Jamaican Bobsled Team: fun movie.
Akeelah and the Bee: excellent. I wish there were more movies like this.
Guardians of the Galaxy: they loved it, I didn't.
Tangled: basic fun.
The Black Stallion Returns: a certain horse-lover was in heaven.
Alice in Wonderland: I hate Alice in Wonderland but the kids liked it.
Babies: more of a “schooly” movie, but eyeopening and interesting.
Whale Rider: pretty good.
Ransom of Red Chief: an old movie. Fun.
The Karate Kid 1 and II: some tense parts, but a fun watch.
Princess Protection Program: can't remember (maybe I wasn't home for this one?)
Secretariat: good, but a little slow. The adults and bigs enjoyed it.
Ghostbusters: scary moments, but over all an innocent show.
The Little Red Wagon: the older kids thought this would be stupid, but they liked it.
The Princess Diaries: Entertaining.
Maleficent: Predictable.
Sound of Music: CLASSIC.
Wall-E: They loved this one!
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: fun.
Ella Enchanted: sweet and simple.
Richie Rich: lots of slap-sticky laughs
Chicken Run: fun.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: an easy classic, slow-paced.
Napoleon Dynamite: a family classic (younger kids don't get the humor)
Princess Bride: another family classic.
The Cotton Patch Gospel: not your regular Hollywood movie. A gem. And the music is great.
Celine: some romance, but not too racy. Slower-paced but intriguing.
Runaway Bride: again, some romance, but okay.
Into The Woods: enjoyed by all.
Dolphin Tales I and II: pleasant.
Front of the Class: about a teacher who has Tourette Syndrome. Worthwhile.
The Parent Trap: an older movie. Fun.
The Night in the Museum I, II, and III: the kids loved it.
Free Willy: fun.
The Lego Movie: I think I saw it twice.
Jumanji: fun, but a little scary.
Finding Nemo: for younger kids (but it terrified my older children when they were younger).
Puss in Boots: funny.
Shrek I, II, III, IV: the first one is the best.
Narnia: much-loved.
The Incredibles: one of my favorites.
Flicka: another horse movie.
Black Beauty: sad but good.
The Ron Clark Story: enjoyed by the whole family.
Finding Rin Tin Tin: probably fine. I don't even remember.
Mr. Bean: the kids love his humor.
Searching for Bobby Fischer: so good.
Harry Potter, all of them: watched so much they're a part of our family.
Kayla: about a dog sledder. Sad but okay.
The Giver: quite good.
Monsters Inc.: a favorite.
Fiddler on the Roof: makes me cry, but so good.
Over the Hedge: funny.
Big Hero Six: sweet and funny.
How To Train Your Dragon I and II: fun.
Holes: quite good, a bit tense.
Anne of Green Gables: gentle and lovely.
Babe: nice.
Up: a good one (squirrel! squirrel!)
Ramona and Beezus: fun.
Home Alone I and II: good laughs.
Cheaper By the Dozen: not as good as the book, but entertaining nonetheless.
Toy Story I, II, and III: yes! (The first one is best. The third one is pretty good, too, yes?)
Matilda: delightful.
Goonies: good.
Brave: fun.
Ever After: pretty good (I can't really remember)
Ratatouille: cooking! food! I loved it!
Radio: so good!
Hook: pretty good.
Wallace and Grommet: gently and fun.

Do you have any good family movies to recommend? I'm always on the lookout. (Updated: thanks for all your suggestions in the comments and on Facebook. I'm adding to the list of what we've seen and making a quality to-watch list. You guys rock!)

And now, the popcorn!


When I was growing up, my parents made cheesy popcorn by grating block cheese (like cheddar or Monterey Jack) directly into a bowl of hot popcorn. Softened slightly from the heat, the cheese would cling to the kernels. It was good, but the cheese didn't distribute evenly so some mouthfuls would be cheese-loaded and others not. Small problems, but still. (I suppose grating a hard cheese on the fine side of a box grater would fix much of that problem, but then you're left with a dirty grater. Yuck.)


So I skip the cheese altogether and sprinkle my popcorn with nutritional yeast. It sounds grossyeast on popcorn!but this isn't yeast yeast. It's murdered (er, deactivated) yeast and it's yellowish in color and tastes nutty and cheesy. In other words, delicious. And there's no bothersome grater to wash afterwards. Win!


Cheesy Popcorn 

½ cup popcorn kernels
1 heaping tablespoon coconut oil
2 tablespoons butter, melted
½ teaspoon salt
2-3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Melt the coconut oil in your whirley pop (or popcorn kettle of your choice), add the kernels, and pop. Dump the popcorn into a large bowl. Drizzle with butter, and sprinkle with salt and nutritional yeast. Devour.

This same time, years previous: crispy almonds, fun and fiasco, chapter one, wild hair, asparagus walnut salad, and asparagus with lemony creme fraiche and boiled egg.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

wrangling sheep

My older daughter spent Saturday morning at the horse farm getting judged on her riding and then the afternoon back home trimming the sheep's toenails. Or hooves. Whatever they're called.

I didn't go to the show-test thingy, and since my daughter couldn't really explain to me the purpose of the test (that she spent 45 of her dollars to take), I still don't know exactly what went on. But she told me that the morning of the test, both she and her riding girlfriend (they had a sleepover at girlfriend's house) were nervous sick. My daughter reported that her friend was so nervous that she only ate five spoonfuls of yogurt for breakfast. “I was sooooo nervous, too,” my daughter said, “but I ate two eggs, two pieces of toast, juice, and yogurt.” That's my girl, people.

So anyway, back to the sheep. That afternoon I was standing in the kitchen chatting on the phone with a friend when I looked out the window and saw my daughter flipping sheep. So I hung up, grabbed the camera, and went out to watch.

First she caught them by driving them into the corner of the pasture using the wide-open gate as a trapdoor.




Second, she attacked...




and didn't...

let...

go.

Third, she yelled for someone (in this case, her brother) to hand her the halter.



Fourth, she danced a jig with the sheep that...

ended with the sheep laying on the ground belly up.

Fifth, she trimmed the hooves.



It was all highly entertaining. If laughter is the best medicine, then sheep wrangling is downright therapeutic. (At least for the onlookers.)



Note: this post makes it sound like she's tossing whole herds of sheep on their backs. This is not the case. She has only two sheep. Still, even with just two sheep, the task somehow managed to look like A Serious Operation. Or a blog-worthy one, at least.

This same time, years previous: the quotidian (4.14.14), the value (or not) of the workbook. and chocolate-covered peanut butter eggs.

Monday, April 13, 2015

the quotidian (4.13.15)

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


Scrambling to keep up.


Deluxe lunch: after an Indian-feast supper.


My husband is committed to his nuts.


He wanted to iron = wrinkle-free napkins.


He bought himself a new set of wheels.


You know your girl is growing up when she uses both hands to wash the dishes while talking on the phone.


Headbangers.


Garbage disposal, country style.


After only three weeks, moving the pigs to fresh pasture. 
 Just look at that turned soil!


Choirboy.


Sunday feet.


Two peas in a pod.

This same time, years previous: Mr. Tiny, deviled eggs, on fire, lemons and goat cheese, flour tortillas, my prego husband, in all seriousness, and Easter chickens.      

Friday, April 10, 2015

when popcorn won't pop

There's nothing more disappointing than popcorn that won't pop.

Well actually, flopped cakes, a rained-out wedding, a lie-to-your-face child, receiving an order of expensive shoes that don't fit, planning a Netflix night only to have the internet go out, putting sour half-and-half into your coffee, etc, etc, probably all qualify as more disappointing. All things considered, non-poppy popcorn is rather minor. Still, in the moment it can feel rather crushing. 

Because we buy our popcorn by the truckload (practically), we were rather miffed when, a couple months into a fresh sack, we started making dud-corn instead of popcorn. We figured the seller stored the popcorn in a damp place. Or maybe he never dried it properly in the first place?

After stewing a bit, my husband hopped on the Internet to research the problem. And guess what! The reason is the exact opposite of what we both thought. Popcorn doesn't pop, not because it's too wet, but because it's too dry. The popcorn's pop is caused by moisture inside the kernel heating up and creating steam. When there's not enough moisture, there's not a good pop.


The solution, we were delighted to discover, was easy. We put the dud-corn in a jar, added a bit of water, let it sit for a day or so to absorb the moisture, and voila, the freshest, poppy-est popcorn you could ever wish for!


How To Rejuvenate Popcorn Kernels

1. Put the not-doing-their-thing popcorn kernels in a jar.

2. For every cup of kernels, add one teaspoon of water.

3. Lid the jar, shake well, and let sit for 1-3 days. (It's advised to let the kernels sit for three days, but we waited just one and they were perfect.)

For a longer shelf life, store the rejuvenated popcorn in the freezer. (But if, like me, your popcorn never quite makes it into the freezer, no worries. You now know the remedy.)

This same time, years previous: the greening, an evening walk, the things that go on around here, new territory: grief, and cream of tomato soup.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

fifteenth spring

This Morning's Free Write 
photo and words by my older son


It is raining outside right now. The grass is turning brilliantly emerald green, the trees are starting to blossom, and there are some daffodils on the table that the kids have picked. I look out the back door and I see one of our sheep chasing the chickens around in the field. I see birds again. In the sky there is heavy gray fog that makes me think of a massive comforter being thrown down on the world.

I feel warm and cozy inside my house, sitting on the couch under a blanket while spilling my guts for a story like this one. I look behind myself, out the window, and see a tree getting covered in moss. I feel a massive bubble of joy in my body, a turbulence, a tornado, a twisting, laughing voice saying it is spring. I want to leap and shout for joy. SPRING IS HERE!!

Summer awaits me. A whole life is calling my name. I feel the urge to move, escape, run free of this house. See the world. See the world. I want to see the world. I want to roam until the dust, water, and air of the four corners of the world are in my skin, my eyes, and my hair.

***

This same time, years previous: oatmeal raisin cookies, answers, the quotidian (4.9.12), asparagus with lemon and butter, and the kind of day.  

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

millet muffins

If you're anything like me, you occasionally buy unusual ingredients for a specific recipe, use what you need, and then shove the remainder of the bag into the freezer where it rattles around till kingdom come. (Confession: my freezers are a mess.) But sometimes bad habits pay off! For instance, these millet muffins.


I discovered the recipe on Ruth Reichl's blog and immediately noted that it called for three-quarters cup of millet. Just one batch of muffins would make a serious dent on my millet stash! So I rummaged up my ancient bag of millet and whipped those muffins up.


And they were good! Kind of like corn muffins, a friend suggested, but—and this is the best part—with grains that crackle and pop between your teeth.


Ruth calls for partially crushing the millet in the blender, but I found that the cooled muffins had a mildly unpleasant sandy texture. So I made them again, this time with the millet intact (and with some whole wheat). The resulting muffins were better: fluffier and even more delightfully crackly.
 

I've taken to eating two each morning: the first one with coffee and the second one a couple hours later with a giant mug of tea.

Millet Muffins 
Adapted from Ruth Reichl's blog.

1 egg
¾ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sour milk or buttermilk
¾ cup millet

Cream together the egg and sugar. Beat in the melted butter.

In a separate bowl, combine the flours, baking powder and baking soda, and salt.

Briefly stir the dry ingredients into the creamed butter mixture. Stir in the sour milk and then the millet.

Promptly (if you let the batter sit, the millet will lose its crunch) divide the batter between 12 muffin tins and bake the muffins at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown and firm to the touch. Serve warm. Leftover muffins freeze well.

This same time, years previous: this slow, wet day, Easter 2010, and homemade Parmesan.