Monday, July 31, 2017

the quotidian (7.31.17)

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


Wormy and overripe: makes me cranky just looking at the photo.


Babysitting exhaustion: "Now I understand why you drink so much coffee."


Refracted.
photo credit: younger son


Musical cat.


Rainy day blues.


And....driver number two hits the Interstate. 


When chores are relevant.


PSA: If you are thinking of visiting the zoo on a gorgeous Sunday in July, don't.


Face of the peeved.


But the mist machines were cool.


Anticipation.


Together again.

This same time, years previous: my deficiency, do you strew?, a pie story, joy, the quotidian (7.30.12), blueberry torn-biscuit cobbler, a quick pop-in, a bad experiment.

Friday, July 28, 2017

in the kitchen

These days, we’ve been drowning in food. Now that Melissa and my older son are gone, we’re down to just five mouths to feed. Plus, for three weeks running, I’ve had a kid at camp, leaving us with just four. Basically, there’s no point in cooking anymore.

Unfortunately, I can’t seem to remember that.


I make one thing—a pan (or two) of roasted zucchini parmesan or a grill-full of veggies and sausages—and then the leftovers last for days. The fridge feels stuffed (my belly, too), and we’re constantly eating to catch up, racing to eat the food before it rots.

For awhile there, I was trying to rein in my cooking compulsion (and it helped that it was so hot; watermelon for supper? yes, please!), but then this week we had an influx of garden produce— cucumbers and zucchinis, beets, cabbages from my sister-in-law—plus we’d run out of bread so there was baking to do. I was thrilled to have an excuse to kick into high gear.

 One of the cabbages I turned into curtido, a crunchy-tangy slaw to eat with beans.

The cucumbers became both dills and sweets.


Thanks for the dill, Mom! 

The beets we've been eating just for anyhow and all the time.





I also like to use them in all my failed recipe experiments (see below).

***

Any day now, I expect to get the call that my two bushels of peaches and four bushels of nectarines are ready for pick-up. (And I have an order for four gallons of blueberries.) One of my big pet peeves is that, in the midst of all the canning and freezing, I never get around to actually baking with the fresh fruit. So this year, I’ve resolved that things will be different. In preparation for the oncoming onslaught, I’ve been arming myself by making pastries and crumbles ahead of time.

This way, when I’m up to my eyeballs in fruit, I’ll just have to run down cellar to grab a ready-made pastry, and a fresh fruit pie will be ours for the having. Can’t wait!

***

In the midst of all the too-much food and pre-produce-slam prep, I’ve also taken it upon myself to do some recipe experimentation.


There was a beet ice cream. I swapped out the marscapone for some honey goat cheese (using up the stuff in the fridge, go me), which I thought was rather brilliant and sophisticated. My younger son really liked the strong cheesy flavor, but my mother nearly spit hers out. My husband said the beets made the ice cream taste like dirt.

There was a coffee ice cream laced with Guiness that the kids didn’t like but that I did.


It paired nicely with the leftover piece of shoofly pie that I found in the freezer.

I made a beet cake that weirdly turned out like wet lead. Part of me wants to do a remake, and the other part never wants to make a beet cake again. (We gave the cake to my brother’s family—they'll eat anything—but I don’t think they liked it, either.)

And then a couple days ago I made a charred tomatillo salsa.

I had high hopes, but no one, including me, liked it so off it went to the chickens.

***

We had company for supper last night. I served a had Greek cucumber and tomato salad, roasted beets, fresh green beans, sourdough bread, watermelon, and, for dessert, vanilla ice cream and cherry-berry cobbler with cornmeal topping.


My older son is coming home on Sunday (!!!), so I'm prepping for a whole string of celebratory meals. They'll be apple pies (more pastry) and granola and hamburgers.

And right after that, we're going to NY for a family gathering. I want to take along some ready-made food to contribute, but I haven't settled on anything just yet. Whatever it is must travel well and not need refrigeration. Ideas?

Maybe I'll just churn out lots of desserts. That'd be easy enough.

***

Instead of my usual half bagel or piece of toast, I’ve been eating oatmeal for breakfast. I put a little oatmeal (about ¼ cup of oats, cooked) in a bowl and then top it with chia seeds, brown sugar, wheat germ, nuts, and fruit.


banana, pecans, dried coconut


peaches, blueberries, and pecans

It keeps me going strong until noon, and sometimes even longer.

***

The tomatoes are starting to roll.

Today I'm finishing off a batch of roasted tomato and garlic pizza sauce. Soon we'll make salsa, too.




We're out of both, so yay.

***

Oh no! My son just brought in a very-ripe ear of corn.

Gotta dash!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

movie notes

Last Sunday evening, we watched Captain Fantastic. I’d been avoiding the movie (the word-of-mouth reviews hadn't been that great), but then Sunday night arrived and there we were without something to watch so when Captain Fantastic popped up on Amazon streaming, we went with it. 

Here are my notes.


Summary: I thought, based on comments I heard prior to watching, that this movie was about homeschooling. Instead, I was surprised to discover, it had very little to do with homeschooling and much more to do with mental illness, living off-the-grid, shattered dreams, and family relationships.

Analysis: The father appears to be motivated by thoughtful, outside-the-box thinking, but he is actually driven by fear: If he can protect his children, successfully train them to be strong and independent, he believes he will save them from the depression that took his wife’s life. He never says that of course. That's just me reading between the lines.

Unfortunately, the movie only skims the surface of these complex issues, rendering the whole (potentially intriguing) story trite. The acting is solid, but the characters are underdeveloped and the plot riddled with inconsistencies. Instead of resonating with viewers (we kept laughing at the characters, not with them, and my poor husband was in agony: “How many more minutes till this is over?”), the movie ends up feeling preposterous.

Conclusion: Captain Fantastic is a cross between Little Miss Sunshine, but without the nuance, and Glass Castle (the book; the movie’s coming out soon), but without the authenticity. However, the movie did make me think—and even write an entire blog post on the matter!—so there’s that. And then one of my husband’s co-workers said he found it refreshing—so many movies are extreme and unrealistic, but this one was at least extreme and unrealistic in the opposite direction. Which is a valid point.

Have you seen the movie? I'd love to hear your take.

PS. If you wish to dig deeper, here is a more nuanced analysis.

This same time, years previous: dance party, the quotidian (7.27.15), rest and play, the girl and the tea party, classic bran muffins, banana bran muffins, Indian pilaf of rice and split peas, Grace's gingerbread.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

proofing baskets

When we were in Pennsylvania for our Christmas family gathering, I noticed that my cousin Zoe was proofing her bread dough in gorgeous, oblong, homemade baskets. I raved, of course, and then Zoe promptly went to her pantry, plucked a proofing basket from the shelf, and said, “Here, take this. It’s an extra.” 

And then I said, if she was going to make more, I’d like to buy another one so I’d have a pair. Of course, she said. But you’ll have to wait until I get more clothesline rope. (Because that’s what she uses to make the baskets, and she only gets it from thrift stores.)

Five long months passed and then, when we hosted the family gathering this summer, she brought me my basket, plus two more—sturdy round ones—and she wouldn’t take any money! It was a hostess gift, she said.

Well, tickle me pink.


Both kinds of baskets, the oblong and the round ones, work beautifully, but I’m particularly partial to the long ovals which fit more easily into the fridge and sit so nice and pretty on the baking stone. The baskets are pliable, so when dumping the dough onto the baking sheet, they can be semi-inverted.


All the baskets are easy to take care of. Before using, just shake out any excess flour and crumbs and then dust heavily with fresh flour. After using, tap out the excess flour and squirrel them away in the cupboard. That’s it!

When I began this post, I planned to link to Zoe’s Etsy page so that y’all could get yourselves some Zoe Baskets. But alas, alack, Zoe’s supply of thriftstore clothesline has dwindled and she’s no longer making the baskets. Which makes this whole post is kind of anticlimactic. My apologies.

But! There are options! You can either purchase a proofing basket here or you could turn Zoe-esque and make your own. Either way, do pop into her shop and look around. I strongly suggest you snatch up some of her killer hot pads on your way out.

This same time, years previous: the quotidian (7.25.16), we're back!, the boy and the tooth, chocolate mint ice cream cone cake, roasted corn with lime and feta, spicy Indian potatoes, blackberry cobbler.

Monday, July 24, 2017

the quotidian (7.24.17)

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


The beginning.


I had to act, and quick: more of this, plus one pan with sausage and onions, delicious.


Summer supper.


What followed.


Well, that didn't go over so well. 


Revenge therapy: if no one eats your baking experiment, carve it up.


My happy place.


When babysitting, they pull out all the stops.


Lame: our toy selection.


Splint-free, cast-free, brace-free, freeeeeeeee!


Attempting to remedy a spectacularly failed inspection.


Skylines.
Photo credit: my younger son

This same time, years previous: vegetarian groundnut stew, a riding lesson, rellenitos, the quotidian (7.23.12), pumpkin seed pesto, cucumber lemon water, limeade concentrate, braised cabbage.