Tuesday, August 29, 2017

chomper

A few months back, my husband uncovered a nest of turtle eggs at the job site. "What's with all the ping-pong balls?" he asked. My older son identified them as turtle eggs and brought them home where the younger kids filled a bucket with dirt, put the eggs in and then covered them with more dirt. They parked the bucket in a sunny spot in my flower bed, but after a couple months of nothing happening, I ordered the bucket gone, so they moved it over by the tool shed.

Last week, my younger son checked on the eggs. “They’re probably all rotten,” my husband said, so my son tore one of the eggs open. And inside was a baby turtle...ALIVE. It was all slimy and still attached to a large yolk sac.


My son placed it on a damp paper towel in a box, positioned a lamp above, and ever since then he’s been obsessed.

He wakes early to observe his premature pet, and he spends hours each day researching all things turtle. He’s identified it as a snapping turtle (oh joy) and spews all sorts of turtle-y facts to anyone who will listen. He’s relocated the rest of the eggs to a box of sand and set it under a heat lamp to speed the process (again, oh joy).

for size comparison, a quarter

We keep warning him that Chomper (ha) might not make it, but that hasn’t stopped him from building a very large (oh, so hopeful, that child!) home from cardboard, tinfoil, and tape for when Chomper is grown.


And he’s made a survival chart. He proudly checks off each day the turtle stays alive.






back when he still thought (hoped) it might be a box turtle

And rather miraculously enough, it’s still alive! The yolk sac—its only food source for now—is shrinking daily, so I guess it’s getting the nourishment it needs.





In the beginning, the turtle looked, and acted, mostly dead (every 15-30 seconds it’d take a giant breath and we’d all exhale, too), but now the turtle blinks, wiggles its very long tail, sticks out its head, and creeps about.


This same time, years previous: the quotidian (8.29.16), peach crisp, it all adds up, they're getting it!, grape parfaits, 2011 stats and notes, roasted tomato sauce, pasta with sauteed peppers and onions.

Monday, August 28, 2017

the quotidian (8.28.17)

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

Cooling.


Grilled steak sandwiches: anniversary dinner for the husband who didn't know what day it was.


Stale bread resurrected.


From one—ONE—sirloin steak.


Swoon and feast.


Those curls!


Mud making.


House.


Drugged, plus the cone of shame: stuck. 


Opposite corners.


First day: the college student.


Solar Eclipse 2017

This same time, years previous: tomatoes in cream, don't even get me started, Bezaleel scenes, pasta with lemon-salted grilled zucchini and onions, fresh tomato salad, chocolate malted milk frosting, classic pesto.

Friday, August 25, 2017

an unlikely tip for runners: don't wear deodorant

One day recently when my husband and I were stretching after our morning run, I marveled out loud at how badly I stank. “I’m even wearing deodorant and I still stink,” I grumbled.

“Don’t wear deodorant,” my husband said. “You won’t stink as much, and you’ll feel cooler.”

“Yeah, whatever,” I said. But the next time I ran, I skipped the deodorant and I didn’t stink! (I still felt hot, though.)

Ever since, I’ve been skipping the deodorant when I run. There’s still odor—and it's worse on hotter days—but it’s not nearly as rank. I certainly couldn’t get away without without wearing deodorant during the day like my father (he never wears the stuff, and even though he might work outside for hours on end and sweat profusely, he rarely stinks), but for whatever reason, skipping the deodorant when I run keeps me smelling sweet and fresh, or at least more so.

Has anyone else discovered this? Are my husband and I completely off our rockers? Because it’s possible…

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of odors and cleanliness: at our last family gathering, my sister-in-law divulged that she’s taken to using soap nuts instead of detergent when she washes her clothes. They look a little like small, unshelled walnuts and smell like absolutely nothing, but she (and the soap nut sellers) claims that a small pouch of them tossed into a load of dirty laundry will get the clothes clean. Has anyone else tried this?

This same time, years previous: a big deal, on love and leftovers, the quotidian (8.25.14), atop the ruins, 16, tomato jam, basic oatmeal muffins, homemade butter.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

fresh nectarine galette

What with my huge pie obsession, I tend to forget about galettes. I’m not sure why, though. Galettes are so super easy. Sexy, too. If pies and galettes were sisters, pie would be the earnest, ethical one, all rosy-cheeked and freckled and wholesome. Galette would be the one with tousled beach hair, dark red lipstick, and ripped jeans. She’d have a throaty laugh, and most days she’d go braless. (The pie sister wears a bra, always—one hundred percent cotton with a sweet trim of lace.)

So anyway, I make pies and I make pies and then, suddenly, it hits me—oh, galettes!—and then in my rush to remedy, I overcorrect and end up making an obscene number of galettes. (Though can there be such a thing as too many galettes? Seems doubtful.)


The other day when I popped in to see my mom, I took along a piece of galette for her to sample. She ate half of it, moaning and sighing all the while, and then, regretfully, she set the other half aside for my father.

“Good grief,” I said, laughing at her theatrics. “Just eat it. He’ll never know.”

“Oh, no, I couldn’t do that,” she said. (My mother has always suffered from an overly developed sense of fairness.)

My father walked in the door just as I was heading out. “Don’t you want to stay to watch him eat it?” my mother called after me. As though me watching him eat would heighten my galette-sharing pleasure, silly mama.

I served the galette to my writing group, too. They called it "ridiculous," as in, it’s so good it’s ridiculous. Which is true, if I do say so myself. The first time I made one, I think I ate nearly an entire half. Or maybe it was nearly an entire whole, hmmm? I guess we shall never know....

A couple things to keep in mind. Because the fruit to pastry ratio in a galette is about one to one, both components are showcased, so it's crucial that both be utterly delectable. I recently discovered a sour cream pastry that I’ve become quite partial to.

It’s not that much different from my classic butter pastry, but the sour cream does make the pastry a little softer and more tender. I love it.



As for the fruit, since the galette requires only several pieces, use the ripest, most delicious fruit you can get your grubby paws on. Nectarines are awesome. (I have two more disks of pastry in and the last of the nectarines banging around in the fridge, awaiting some oven magic.) (Oo, and now I'm back from Costco with a box of plums! How about a nectarine plum galette?!)


I like to arrange the sliced fruit in a circle, so their curved backs form the outside edge and their soft insides face the very center. This way, the galette ends up looking sort of like a rose. Also, the pastry doesn’t get jabbed and broken by the fruit’s sharp edges, so there is less pastry breakage and subsequent leakage of juices (though that always seems to happen one way or another and shouldn’t be much minded).


Galettes must be served with whipped cream. About this I am most stern. They are too delicate to withstand the intensity and density of ice cream, and even though an unadorned wedge of galette is quite delicious on its own, when capped with a billow of whipped cream, it gets elevated to a whole new level. Crispy, flaky pastry, jammy fruit, whipped cream, oo-la-la. It’s a perfect trinity of utmost ridiculous deliciousness.


Fresh Nectarine Galette

½ recipe of sour cream pastry (see below)
3-4 nectarines, pitted and thickly sliced
3-5 tablespoons sugar
1-2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon half-and-half
whipped cream, for serving

Roll the pastry into a large circle and place it in a sided baking sheet that’s been lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar over the entire pastry, except for the outer inch.

Arrange the nectarine slices atop the sugar, starting at the outside and moving inward, until the entire pastry is covered in a single layer of fruit. Sprinkle another 1-2 tablespoons of sugar on top, and dot with butter.

Fold the edge of the pastry up over the fruit, trying not to tear the pastry. If it looks craggy and imperfect, you’ve done it right. Brush the pastry with the half-and-half and sprinkle with another tablespoon of sugar.

Bake the galette at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and the top of the fruit is just beginning to blacken. Cool to room temperature before slicing in wedges and serving with whipped cream.

Sour Cream Pastry
From Simply Recipes.

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 sticks butter, cubed
½ cup sour cream

Measure the first four ingredients into a food processor and pulse to combine. (The butter should still be slightly chunky.) Add the sour cream and pulse until the mixture begins to come together. Dump the pastry out onto the counter, divide in half and shape each half into a disk. Wrap with plastic and store in the fridge (or freezer) until ready to use.

This same time, years previous: family extended, the quotidian (8.24.15), that special date, he got me, summer's end, fourteen years, so why did I marry him?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

it's what's for supper

When the woman from the butcher shop called to tell us our meat was ready, she said, “Don’t forget to bring coolers,” which made me chuckle. What kind of family would have enough coolers to haul two steers-worth of beef? It seemed unlikely that they would just hand over two steers in loose, frozen packages. Still, to be on the safe side, we put a couple large coolers in the van, along with some big boxes.

It’s good we did, too, because the meat was loose! The workers rolled it out in wire-mesh baskets, handed us some pairs of gloves (thank goodness!), and then let us get on with it. We filled the coolers and all the boxes, and then we opened the under-the-floor compartments, spread out an old blanket, and piled in the frozen packs of meat. When we finally hopped in the van, we cranked up the AC, and, giggling maniacally, lit out for home. Whenever we went around a turn, the loose packs of meat slid from one side of the car to the other, which just made us laugh all the harder.


The kids met us with gloves, bags, and notebooks and pens for tallying the meat. We worked fast, loading the three freezers, counting and sorting, arguing constantly.

Terrified the freezers might not work properly, we placed buckets of paint on top of the chest freezers to keep the lids from popping open, and in front of the upright freezer, we wedged a bucket of spackle.

381 pounds of ground beef, plus some steaks


steaks, roasts, briskets, short ribs


soup bones, cube steaks, minute steaks, liver, stew meat, beef fat 
(and there is a little more meat in another freezer, too)

By the time we were done, I was a sweaty mess and everyone was grumpy, mostly because my stressed-out husband had been so dang nasty-bossy. Back in the kitchen, I leveled him with a scorching glare and then followed it up with a stern lecture on teamwork and productive parenting. The meat-packing stress gone, he immediately turned contrite. “I’d do a much better job in a communist society,” he explained, “where everyone has to listen to me and no one is allowed to think.” Dream on, buddy.

As for me, I’m still dreaming ... about meat. Yesterday morning I woke up in the middle of creating some sort of ground beef paprikash recipe. And last night I dreamed about packs of hamburger (I don’t remember the specifics). I’m reading about beef constantly (this book is excellent), and making notes for things we will do differently next time. Like, request they let the beef hang for three weeks instead of two, and make sure we get the oxtail.

The first thing I made with the meat was sloppy joes, four whole pounds of the stuff. It tasted fabulous, and I let the kids eat as much as they wanted.

The next night we had minute steaks.


I wanted some super-thin strips of meat for carne asada, the grilled beef served from street corners all over Central America, but the butcher wasn’t familiar with it, so we settled on minute steaks, cut small.

My younger son, for some unknown reason, became obsessed with this particular cut, so I tasked him with the job of researching how to prepare them. He then helped me pound them out (they were so tender, it was like rolling butter), dredge them in flour, and fry them up.


I made a pan gravy with the drippings, and we ate them with rice. Two whole packs, in one sitting.

Up next, steak sandwiches: flash-grilled minute steaks stuffed into crusty baguettes. Also, I’m eager to pan-fry a sirloin steak (or maybe a NY strip or a ribeye), and I can’t wait to grill up a bunch of thick, juicy burgers.

And to think, that’s barely the tip of the beef iceberg! It’s all so exciting I can barely contain myself! (Anyone who stops by our house can attest to this—they’ve all been forced to undergo a beef freezer tour.)

PS. For those interested in numbers: our steers weighed about 1100 pounds, and their hanging weights were 679 and 683 pounds.

PPS. Beef isn't always what's for supper. Last night we had chef salads and the night before was popcorn. Tonight we're supping at our friends' place. But my menu planning is definitely going to undergo a seismic overhaul. Beef everything, here we come!

This same time, years previous: the quotidian (8.23.16), sundried tomato and basil pesto torte, stewed greens with tomato and chili, grape jelly, whole wheat buttermilk waffles, sweet freedom.

Monday, August 21, 2017

the quotidian (8.21.17)

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


A BLT, with C.


Brown rice and bean bowl.


A little here, a little there: it all adds up.


The tomato-based kitchen.


Salsa: more than fifty—FIFTY!—quarts.


Risky.


Will someone feed us, please? Anyone? Anyone??


Bubbles.


Snap-POP.


He wants to wire the clubhouse.


Searching for the ever-elusive outlet: a writing group tradition.


At a PA family gathering, the in-ground pool (with deep end!) made for some very happy Murchlings.


They loaded the car with food, lawnchairs, and a sawdust toilet and traveled to TN to see the eclipse.


Not wavy like I thought, but full-on curly! 

This same time, years previous: miracle cat, the quotidian (8.19.13), photo shoot, the quotidian (8.20.12), undecided, red raspberry ice cream, cold curried corn soup.