Monday, July 15, 2019

the quotidian (7.15.19)

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

Awaiting their cargo: zucchini boats.

How the younger boy stacks it.

In place of the supper salad.

Lap dog.

Making deliveries.

Tallest girl has the smallest room.

Karate clown.

For the birthday girl: a popsicle stick ship, complete with a treasure chest filled with gold (anklets). 

Emotional wreckage!
Because her older brother 1) gave her airpods (!), then 2) said they were actually his 
but that he was letting her use them for two weeks, and then, finally 
3) said that her pair was coming in the mail in a couple days.

Aw, aren't they sweet?

This same time, years previous: putting up walls, reflections from Orlando, in which a pit bull bites my butt, zucchini fritters, the quotidian (7.14.14), a tale, er, tail, in the woods: forts, ticks, and pancakes.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

all things thursday

Firstborn bought himself a car!

Thank goodness, because transportation negotiations were getting a little intense.


Have you ever been to a Fry Party? I’d never even heard of one until last week when we got an invitation to one on The Fourth. Bring side dishes, they said, and anything you might want to fry. We’ll have two caldrons of bubbling oil at the ready.

And they did! We stood around watching things fry and then eating them: mushrooms, chicken, pork, zucchini, cauliflower, bread, cheese sticks, french fries, potato chips, twinkies, oreos —

THE OREOS! Have you ever had a fried Oreo? This was my first time (so many firsts!) and WOW. Talk about a revelation!

In the oil, the Oreo (which was dunked in a simplified pancake batter prior to frying) swells and softens, the chocolate becoming less crunchy cookie and more rich cake. I couldn’t get over the transformation, and the deliciousness.


Recently, I found myself with a whole bunch of leftover sangria. My kids had given me a gallon jug of it for my birthday but then I never opened it because, well, it was a freaking gallon of wine, so then I took it to that fry party in hopes of ridding myself of a goodly portion, but hardly anyone drank it, probably because they were so focused on stuffing their faces with fried foods.

Back home, after Google assured me I could freeze it, I poured most of it into pint jars and ran them down to the cellar.

Then, with the little that remained, I made a slushy: a generous pour of sangria, a thick slice of both lime and lemon (rind and seeds removed), a handful of frozen strawberries, and ice.

It was surprisingly lovely. The citrus cut the sweet, the berries added a little textural oomph, and the ice chilled it up nice and good.

Now, on the off-chance that I tire of sangria slushies — and because I’ll soon need to clear out my freezers to make space for green beans and corn — any other ideas for how else to use up my now-frozen sangria?


Kickboxing — it’s still happening! When I finished my three-week freebie, I immediately signed up for the six-week trial. I’m at the seven-week point now and am happy to report that I'm no longer in constant pain.

I love having a set work-out time (and getting to work out with my kids), and I love getting pushed to work harder by someone other than myself. I like the mindlessness of the activity — the complete concentration on form, footwork, and not dying — and I like feeling stronger. I’ve progressed from using five pound weights to sixes, eights, and now tens. I can do ten push-ups, and, if I drop my knees to the floor and do them in sets, lots more. My achy, pop-y hip has stopped aching and popping, and my ankles and wrists aren’t as tender. There's a very good chance that I’m in the best shape I’ve been in for years.

in which my son volunteers to stand in for a punching bag

I don’t like, however, that it costs money and requires me to drive somewhere. I don’t like being holed up inside with artificial lighting, cut off from the birds and breeze and fresh air. Also, I miss running — the silence of it, the simplicity, the way the rhythm of my feet pounding on the pavement cracks open my mind, allowing my thoughts to drift free — so I’ll be happy to get back to it again.

I sure am going to miss kickboxing, though.

The studio welcomes visitors to take a free class, so if you'd like to experience the pain and glory for yourself, leave me a message. I’ve already brought quite a few friends, and they’ve all, including my 70-year-old mother(!), had a great time. 


Speaking of exercise: The Pulse just did an excellent show about exercise — the history of it and its importance, especially for women because of their fluctuating hormone levels and lower bone density. According to them, strength training can really, really, really make a difference. Also, I think they said that a person should get about 150 minutes of level six exercise a week. (Level six = working hard enough that you can still talk, but not sing.) (With five classes of kickboxing a week, I've got that covered!)


Recently, I’ve started, and then quit, a whole string of books: My Brilliant Friend, a nonfiction book about why families can’t afford America, some novel about Noah’s ark that I can’t remember the title of, and a thriller that wasn’t. Also, for months now I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to wade through White Fragility. It’s definitely a worthwhile book, but after taking that anti-racism class at church, the material feels redundant. I'm afraid that this most recent stalling out might be for good.

I always feel a little guilty about quitting books, like I lack some sort of gene for sticktoitiveness. Spending all that time trying to get into a book, only to quit partway through — what a waste. The least I could do is finish the book to get the thrill of accomplishment and/or relief. Right?

On the other hand, why bother? Reading for fun is supposed to be, well, fun. If I don’t like it, then I’m doing myself a disservice because maybe it’s exactly because I push myself to read un-fun material that I don’t read as much as I’d like. Maybe if I was more strict about picking only fun fun books, then I’d read even more.

Anyway. Do you quit books willy-nilly, or are you a “finish the damn book at all costs and never mind the misery” sort of person? What fun fun books are you reading? (I did just finish and enjoy Where We Come From. What with these upcoming immigrant raids, the story is disturbingly pertinent.)


For a few months this year, all four of my children are teenagers. For thirteen years, I've looked forward to being able to say that — I have four teenagers! — and now I can.

Four teenagers!


I love it.


AND, as of today, we are a household with four adults and two children (legally speaking, anyway).

Happy 18th birthday, Rebecca! You're rocking it!

This same time, years previous: Sunday, roasted feta with honey, the quotidian (7.11.17), the puppy post, let's talk, roasted carrot and beet salad with avocado, soft and chewy breadsticks.

Monday, July 8, 2019

the quotidian (7.8.19)

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

And now I wish I'd picked more.

They. Don't. Stop.

Making everyone love me. 

No lunchbox, no problem. Use a shoebox!

For the overflow: a second drainer.

A cool, thrift-store find.

Henna tat.

Purse dump: the junk I carry.

A new hire.

A smashed muffler and the guilty culprit to go with it.

Lazy days.

Because the afternoon sun is fierce: a made-to-order shield.
(Thanks, Zoë!)

When it finally sets, the relief is sweet. 

This same time, years previous: fresh strawberry cake, three things about writing, reflections from Kansas City, the quotidian (7.7.14), let's revolutionize youth group mission trips! please!, grilled flatbread, red raspberry lemon bars, rain.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

burnt cheesecake

A couple weeks ago — back when I was in the middle of hosting the cousins, to be precise — one of my blog readers (hey, Candi Ray!) sent me an email with a link about, of all things, a burnt cheesecake.

“I hope this piques your interest,” she wrote.

It did (of course!) and, ignoring my sniffly nose and the hoards of children and the fact that I was already up to my eyeballs in cooking, I immediately trotted out to the kitchen to make it.

Because see, when someone sends you a recipe for a cheesecake that 1) doesn’t call for a crust, 2) has only five ingredients (and salt is one of them), 3) skips the water bath, and 4) takes mere minutes to bake (er, burn), you move.

At first, I couldn't tell if I liked the cheesecake or not. It was entirely different from any cheesecake I'd ever had; plus, I’d overeaten that day, and my cold had compromised my tastebuds. So when I gave my husband a small sliver, I watched him closely. He ate it, silently, as is his custom, but a little later when I asked him what he'd thought, his face lit up. “That cake was divine.”

Divine, dear ones, is not a word my husband uses — ever.

The next morning, freshly hungry and semi-clear-eyed, I ate another slice.

My thoughts: Much less sweet (though it has about the same amount, if not more, sugar) and with no crust, sour cream garnish, or fruit sauce — no vanilla, even! — to muck up the flavors and texture, this cake is strictly about the cheese. The bitterness from the burnt top (which isn’t entirely burned) pairs well with the cake’s rich creaminess, and the creaminess, oh my! Intentionally underbaked, the cake’s middle is soft (like mine!), not unlike a wheel of slightly-warmed Brie.

In other words, it is divine.

All the kids went nuts for it, pleading and begging for seconds and thirds.

My mother, though, turned up her nose. “I don’t like the burned top,” she announced, stabbing it with her fork. “It gives it a weird flavor.”

“It’s the same idea as crème brûlée—”

“It’s nothing like crème brûlée,” she said, cutting me off. (It is.) “And actually,” she paused to shovel in another mouthful, “the whole thing has a weird flavor.”

But then, wouldn't you know: her piece eaten, she pushed her plate across the table to me. “Can I have another piece?”

Which clearly means you have no choice but to make the cake for yourself so you can decide what you think.

So trot along, now. Go burn a cheesecake.

You know you want to.

Burnt Cheesecake 
Adapted from Taste, an online magazine, via blog reader Candi Ray.

To get my cake to puff and darken according to the recipe photos, I baked it a good ten minutes longer than what was recommended; as a result, the edges seemed a little dry. Maybe, if I crank up the oven even more, I can shorten the bake time, keep the edges from drying out, and have an even creamier middle?

1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) cream cheese, room temperature
400 grams (approx 2 cups maybe?) sugar
1 teaspoon salt
7 eggs
200 milliliters (a generous ¾ cup) heavy whipping cream

Cream together the cream cheese, sugar, and salt until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the cream and mix well.

Pour the mixture into a parchment paper-lined 10-inch springform pan (it’s okay that the paper doesn’t sit smooth in the pan) and bake at 500 degrees for 20-30 minutes, or until the cake has puffed, the top is darkdark brown, and the center jiggles dangerously.

Cool at room temperature and then refrigerate.

This same time, years previous: teen club takes Puerto Rico, the quotidian (6.26.17), seven nothings, better iced coffee, weigh in, please, dark chocolate zucchini cake.

Monday, June 24, 2019

the quotidian (6.24.19)

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

Breakfast of champions.

With mint and lemon: how I take my water.

Bruschetta: it disappears fast

Improving balance while washing dishes: how a martial arts student multitasks.

Standing wishlist.

Summer ready.

Karate kids.

The guest on the left was expected; the one on the right was not  SURPRISE!


Daytripping with my mom to visit my auntie.

Converse trio.

Dirty feet and a new dress.

Slow down, chica!

This same time, years previous: all before lunch, cherry picking, buttermilk brownies, Korean beef, fruit-filled coffee cake, in recovery, magic custard cake, cilantro beet salad.