Friday, April 30, 2010

Obsolete Mother

The Hooligans have been making their own lunches every day.  If I were getting paid, the next question would be "What for?"

They have branched out from turkey/cheese or PBJ.  Apparently, my lunches were "boring."  Bad Grandma introduced them to the wonders of Peanut Butter and Pickle.  I'm not sure which is better:  the taste, or the girl-gross-out factor.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Really? That good?

"Smiling  Mighty Jesus...I have seen the second coming -- he came in a vision, a vision I had after the first bite of that heavenly enchilada! ..... oh lordy oh lordy.!  sinfully good"

Wow. That's quite an email.  And "Smiling Mighty Jesus" might become my new favorite exclamation. My neighbors are moving to a house around the corner (so they will still be my neighbors. Yay!  Change is bad.)  I made a double recipe of enchiladas yesterday so I could bring one over.  Cooking is impossible in the kerfuffle of moving.  I guess they liked them.  And I know they were hungry.

I pretty much made this one up, but the real reason it's good is a jar of Sweet Creek mild enchilada sauce. (  )  I've tried to make red sauces and moles from scratch many times.  I've repressed my natural urge to deviate and followed directions carefully....with no success.  Too sweet, too spicy, too salty...... This jar kind is so much better.  And it's local (if you live in Oregon) and organic, no preservatives, blah blah (OK Michael Pollan?  I'm trying.  Stop guilt-tripping me.  You too, Barbara  Kingsolver.  Go weed your garden or something.  Get out of my brain.).  So I feel ok about endorsing (for free) a product from a jar. Here is the (double) recipe:

2 big sweet potatoes, peeled, chopped, boiled until tender
2 cans black beans, drained
2 onions, chopped and sauted until translucent
3/4ths package Cotjia cheese, crumbled, 
minced stems of one bunch cilantro
minced 1/4th of a red cabbage
Juice of one lime
big pinch of ground cumin

mix all this stuff up in a big bowl. If it seems dry, add a splash of beer (Corona or Pacifico are  thematic), stock, or water.  If you like your enchiladas gooey, add a cup or so of grated jack or cheddar.

meanwhile, soften 24 (or so) small corn tortillas by frying with butter or oil.  If the torts are dry and brittle,  add a couple of tablespoons of water, to steam them a little.  I used the same pan as the onions.  

Butter 2 baking dishes, I used 9x13 lasagne pans.  Coat the bottom with 1/4th cup of the enchilada sauce.  Fill each tort with  handful of the bean/sweet potato stuffing.  Squeeze the filled tort into a tube and lay them side by side until the pans are full.  Drizzle with the rest of the sauce, the remaining cheese, and the cilantro leaves.  Bake for about 30 minutes at 350.  I used one jar of sauce between the two pans, but I think one whole jar for each would have been better.  Serve with sour cream and avocado slices, plus additional Hot Sauce, for those who like it.  The Man Who Lives in My House likes Cholula.

If you have a foolproof red sauce or mole sauce recipe, please send it my way! 

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mrs. Brady's Hi-Fi

Appeared to be in working condition.
I had room in my van.
But not in my house.
And I don't have any LPs.
Or reel-to-reel thingys.
But what if you took out all the innards and installed a flat screen on the underside of that lid?
You could close the lid and serve cocktails.
You could open the lid and watch Pillow Talk with Rock Hudson & Doris Day.
Rock and Doris would approve.
The speakers are built in.
It belongs in a long low sputnick era 50s rancher.
I live in a 1920s stucco casa.

I restrained myself.
It's at the Value Village in Springfield, Oregon.  If you buy it, send me a picture.

Archeology whilst groundskeeping

This weekend we were granted a tiny respite between downpours.  In between soccer games I frantically mowed and edged and pruned and weeded and raked.  It was more like hacking back the encroaching primeval forest than gardening. Gardening implies fun: planting things and picking flowers while wearing a sundress and straw hat. This was groundskeeping: I got blisters and splinters despite my burly new gloves.  I got sweaty and filthy.  I touched worms and slugs (eeuw). There may still be twigs and leaves in my hair.  I filled up two yard debris bins.  Boy do I hate blackberries and morning glory.

BUT!  I made a discovery which may or may not influence our thinking about our hooligan predecessors.  I may be touted as the famous groundskeeper/archeologist.  Behold!

These artifacts indicate that my backyard has been home to hooligan barbarian tribes in the distant (last summer!) past.

WWMBD?  That stands for What Would Mrs. Brady Do?  Throw it all away?  Make the Hooligans wash it off and put it away?  Donate all their toys to charity?  Perhaps I will impose sanctions.  They are old enough to wrangle the push mower.  

Mrs. Brady would have made Alice deal with it. 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

More Civics: Taxes

My kids are lucky.  They go to a "good" public school.  This means only 26 or 27 kids in their classes and a whole hour where an assistant comes in to help the teacher each day.   They even get PE and Music.  Spoiled rotten, those Hooligans. We raise a lot of money (Auction=Tip of the iceberg.), although not enough to establish a foundation, which I hear is the way to go if you really want to get your school set for the long term.  Year to year, we manage to scrape up enough for additional reading support staff and some specialist teacher time.

Is it me or does this just seem wrong?  We have to hustle to get some extra help to teach the kids to READ?!?  I know Lane County's unemployment is around 12%, taxable income is way down, etc.  but it seems like reading instruction would be at the top of the list.  School in general should be at the top of the list.  And I don't mean this grade-D-crap-for-lunch, four-day-week-kindergarten, half-day-on-Wednesday-because there-isn't-funding-to pay-the-faculty-to-meet-after-school-hours, no-art, no-foreign-language, no-gifted-resources, no-on-site-nurse, no-counselor, bullshit that is passing for school today.  I want old school school.  Like when I was a kid.  Homemade bread from the lunch ladies and seconds if you ate fast. I had no idea how good it was at the time.

This drives me crazy (The Man Who Lives In My House would chime in here, "Don't you mean crazIER?).  Crazier.  Yes, because I'm posting about political stuff on my blog.  Those I''m about to offend, forgive me.  You're probably surprised I haven't gone off sooner.

If you live here in Oregon, you may be aware that we (barely) passed tax measures 66 / 67 in January.  Any income above $250,000 (per household) is now taxed at an additional 2%.  If you make $249,999.99, your taxes are the same. If you make $250,001.00, you pay an addtional $.02 a year for the next five years, and .$.01 per year after that.  The idea is that the weatlthiest Oregonians (98th%tile and above) will help get us through the recession and into recovery.  This is an inexact explanation.  Here's a link if you want more:

I bet you've already guessed that I voted yes.  I campaigned for it, actually, and donated a little money to support a grassroots organization (Stand For Children) that was working to get it passed.

Tax time has come and gone and damn! if I haven't heard a lot of moaning about having to write additional checks.  I'm surprised anyone is complaining.  Remember what I said about our very high unemployment?  Maybe you are (a) lucky enough to have a job, and (b) lucky enough that that job puts you in the top 2% of wage earners in the state.  Also (if you're complaining out loud...), do you really want everyone to know what tax bracket you're in?  There are better than 1/10 odds that your neighbor just got downsized.  He/she might harbor a tiny bit of resentment.

Quick, someone! Shut me up! Kick me under the table!  Too late.

OK fellow citizens, comrades, if you will,  IT'S RANT TIME! Here I go:
     Who is not in favor of educating the next generation(s)?
     Who doesn't think it's important to learn to read?
     Who hates libraries?
     Who thinks homeless people don't need help?
     Why pay police?  Teachers? Public health workers? Social workers?
No show of hands.  I thought not.

Here's the deal, comrades--those who's heads are well above water--maybe you're even higher and dryer because you've benefitted from the spend-less save-more sociological mood.  You are smart, sensible, HARDWORKING folk, and you know this:  A FUNCTIONING SOCIETY IS NOT FREE.

ALL kids (hooligans AND regular) need to be educated.  ALL people need access to healthcare--and not just via the ER.  ALL our railroads need to be brought into the modern era (I want a high-speed from LA to Seattle!) ALL of us need incentives to go solar.  NAME A SOCIAL ILL!  Let's solve it.

It's going to take two things:  Ingenuity and MONEY.  If you're out there and have some money, please don't be a whiney pee-pants about paying more taxes--if you must protest, lobby for more allocation of available funds to schools, or whatever part of the public sphere matters to you.

Tomorrow we return to our usual antics and hijincks.
Thank you for your attention.

Monday, April 19, 2010

It's good that he won the hot tub battle, mostly.

The Man Who Lives in My House, emerging from the hot tub,

"God I love that thing. It's like a bowl of Heaven. And I get to sit in it."

Wow.  I guess it's worth it, even though it's still ugly.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Reptilian Cool Godfather

Crazy Uncle Nick is everything a hooligan could want in a godfather.  He got tired of regular graduate school and switched his major:

The man has been to clown school.  We used to refer to his various apartments and rooms (he moved a lot) as "Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe."  He has the best  garage sale karma in the world.  And he shares.  Witness my pachenko machine:

Nick found it at a Seattle garage sale for $10.  Many many years ago I drooled all over it (ok, I begged).  He gave it to me for my 30th birthday.  Isn't it great?

The last time he moved was about 5 or 6 years ago, to a house he and his lovely wife bought.  I believe the U haul went back and forth about 9 times.  He is a lucky man: to find such a plethora of treasures, to have friends who help him move them, and to have a spouse who appreciates and even shares his enthusiasm (within reason).

The house has many good features, including a view of Puget Sound and pink tile with turquoise seahorses in the bathroom. The best part (for Nick, anyway), is the basement:  Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe has a permanent home.

Their basement was a one bedroom apartment, complete with kitchen and bathroom. You might think that means a tenant contributing extra cash to the mortgage. Maybe space for houseguests? WRONG.  What that means is running water.  That's come in handy for Crazy Uncle Nick's latest collection: turtles. (This could be so much worse! There used to be a tarantula, but it died.) It started very casually, when a friend had to re-home her classroom turtles.  Would Nick take them?  Sure!  Then he found a few more on craigslist.  Pretty soon, people were bringing him turtles.  It's sort of an informal turtle rescue.

Before you adopt a turtle, know that they live up to forty years--and that's the little box tortoises.  The big ones live even longer.  I didn't know this 3 years ago when Nick asked me if the Hooligans would like a couple of box turtles (he was trying to thin his herd of 30+).  "Sure!"  I said.  "That would be cool!" And so we acquired Madge and Tortuga. They will accompany the hooligans to college.

For spring break we road tripped up to Seattle to visit Uncle Nick, Madam Nick, and their little Hooligan--let's just call him MiniNick:

We ate amazing ramen and dim sum, wandered through Pike Place Market, and climbed the giant wall at the mothership REI.  Best of all, we came home with 4 more turtles.  I told you, Uncle Nick likes to share.  They will go to friends in the neighborhood, who understand the commitment they are making.

Meanwhile though, the basement that was clean? No more.  But it's fun down there!  For the Hooligans, anyway....

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Mystery

Can anyone tell me why there is a skateboard in my bathroom?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More food

Does anyone else out there love Amanda Hesser?  If you don't, don't tell me.  If you don't know who I'm talking about, she's this super skinny food writer (Ok, that's wierd.) for the New York Times.  In the Julie/Julia book and movie, she's the one who comes to Julie's apartment for dinner.  I just like the way she talks about food in restaurants or cooking, and her recipes are consistantly interesting and delicious.

Last weekend she wrote about a spicy morroccan orange salad that sounded
a) bizarre
b) really good and
c) composed entirely of things I had on hand.

Here it is. The items in italics are my modifications because I have problems with authority and can't really follow directions.  I don't think they detracted from the general flavor/intent of the dish.  I needed to use the avacado before it went bad and I didn't want to have to make a separate green vegetable (hence the spinach).  The Hooligans like goat cheese; I had to snatch it away from the big one before he ate it all with a spoon.

4 oranges, pith cut off and cut into 8 chunks apiece
1/4 t cayanne
1/4 t paprika (I used smoked)
3 T olive oil
2 T red wine
1 T white vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 bunch parsley
1/2 t minced fresh garlic
12 kalamata type olives, pitted and coarsly chopped
3 T chevre or feta, crumbled
1 avacado, chopped
1/2 bunch spinach, coarsly chopped

Throw all ingredients in a big bowl and stir it around until everything is thoroughly coated with spices, oil and vinegars, and juice from the oranges.  If the oranges aren't really good, don't bother.  Make something else.  I served this with oven roasted baby potatoes and grilled chicken.  I thought my head might explode--it was that good. One hooligan only liked the orange part of the salad and the other only liked the spinach.  They fought over the olives.  (The Hooligans will eat anything.  They're strange that way.)  We demolished it before I thought of taking a picture, but you can see it as it ought to be in the New York Times on line--the Dining and Wine section.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Last week was nuts. The Hooligans' school held its' auction on Friday. I try to help out, but I'm not efficient.  The powers that be gave me the job of making signs.  I love to cut and paste stuff.  (If I were efficient, I would probably be one of those scrapbookers.)

Ok, so, The Auction: 210 items, all needing signs.  The first batch was fancy.  I downloaded illustrative pictures.  I made snarky suggestions. ("Worried about how to amuse your little drama queen/king this summer?"--picture of child in tiara striking a pose--"Bid on this theater camp!!"  Collage, Glitter.  What fun.)  By the final week, though, I was just banging out the info on word and printing it in  24 font.  Cut, stick on tagboard.  Sniff Sniff. Glue stick has no fumes.  Boring!

Meanwhile inside my brain, or what's left of it....I was perseverating on all the things I'd rather be doing (gardening)...or needed to be doing (find/return library books).  I made many lists.  Then I made more signs.

The payoff at the auction:  We raised a lot of money which will pay for additional reading instruction, among other things, AND I got to be the first MC.  All of you will be shocked to hear that I love nothing more than having a microphone in my hand.  It makes me giddy--not unlike writing my blog.

I also really really like dressing up.  I decided that I could draw more attention to the auction if I made a spectacle of myself.  Anything for a good cause.  I wore a fabulous $10 thrift store ball gown, and a crown made out of tinfoil.  I was in good company:

The very tall MC is Marie Slugtoinette, the 2008 Slug Queen of Eugene, Oregon (Google it.).  She is way more extroverted than I am.  And that is saying something.  The Elegant MC in black is my friend Keri.  We had to put major peer pressure on her to get her to dress up.  She is a very good sport.  Doesn't she look great? Thanks Keri. She is even better at thrifting than I am, that is saying something, too.

The list below is an annotated compilation of my lists from last week.  I was looking through the scratchings on all these scraps of paper and I found them amusing.  Mayhap you will, too:
  • Make copies of vital documents, Deliver to lawyer (we are updating our will--it seems that 7 years ago, we had another hooligan.)
  • *Finish making signs for auction, Deliver to Susanne (Supreme Auction Goddess.)
  • -Buy six baby chicks (Baby chicks--redundant.)
  • -Call Klarissa and ask her to see whether her dad will take the old hens (It's butchering time on the farm)
  • -Exercise (darn! Too busy)
  • Shower
  • Buy turtle food at the pet store.  Also the fish have ick.  Aren't there drops for that?
  • -Finish sewing dress project
  • -Choose new pattern for next project
  • -Yarn for sweater coat project!
  • -Spread remaining 3 cu. yards of mulch before the next downpour
  • Find/Return library book
  • *Call Zak (babysitter), did I pay him?
  • *Re-schedule Sm. Hooligan's swim lesson
  • *Forms to Lg. Hooligan's soccer coach
  • -Is book group tonight?   I am hosting, if so, make dessert.  Better idea, buy a dessert.
  • -Change Hooligans' sheets
  • Book club is next week: Buy book, Read book
  • *Drink coffee With Erika.  Anticipate her "staycation"  (Her spouse is the mother of all fathers described a few posts back)
  • The dog smells.  Wash.
  • Think of something for dinner, make it. (We ate a lot of cereal this week)
  • *Grocery:  buy lots of snacks for the hooligans + 3 friends who will be here after school
  • *Track down the 1098 forms that the accountant says she does not have.  Deliver.
  • *Laundry:  multiple loads.  ignore.
The * marks indicate that I actually got this done.  The - mark indicates something I'd have preferred to do. If there is no mark, it is now long overdue.

What I learned:
  • We have too many pets.
  • Turtles can survive a long time on limited rations.
  • Fish are cheap.
  • I got a letter from the library today:  I'm being sent to collections.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Butter, Bling, Poetry*

I was listening to The Splendid Table and heard this poem:
My mother loves butter more than I do,
more than anyone. She pulls chunks off
the stick and eats it plain, explaining
cream spun around into butter! Growing up
we ate turkey cutlets sauteed in lemon
and butter, butter and cheese on green noodles,
butter melting in small pools in the hearts
of Yorkshire puddings, butter better
than gravy staining white rice yellow,
butter glazing corn in slipping squares,
butter the lava in white volcanoes
of hominy grits, butter softening
in a white bowl to be creamed with white
sugar, butter disappearing into
whipped sweet potatoes, with pineapple,
butter melted and curdy to pour
over pancakes, butter licked off the plate
with warm Alaga syrup. When I picture
the good old days I am grinning greasy
with my brother, having watched the tiger
chase his tail and turn to butter. We are
Mumbo and Jumbo’s children despite   
historical revision, despite
our parent’s efforts, glowing from the inside
out, one hundred megawatts of butter.

I'm surprised there aren't more poems about butter.  My Great Aunt Kate (for whom I was named....) used to say "Everything that is good with butter, is always better, with a little more butter. " I believe she pre-dated Julia Child's program when she made this observation.  Great Aunt Kate was, according to Bad Grandma, a legendary character.  She was about 5 feet tall, and wore heels which fit my mother (5'10") at age 6.  She maintained bright red hair until she was 65. She wore mink coats and lots of bling.  She had no children, but considered herself an expert in childrearing and deportment.  She dispensed advice freely.  Much of the bling went to my mother and my aunt.  Bad Grandma isn't really the bling type.  She's more the LLBean type. She keeps the bling tucked away, and doles it out for important events such as weddings and births.  

My sister called me today to inform me that Senor Cupcake likes to lick the butter off his toast.  "You're just like your Aunt Kate,"  she told him.
   "Aunt Cake,"  he answered, "More."  

Butter may explain my little toast problem---toast is such a good vehicle for butter. It also may have something to do with the width and breadth of my...self.  I try to temper my width and breadth with exercise.  It's a fine balance:  butterlove vs. aerobicloathing. 


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Food: all the other momblogs do it, so why not?

Last summer several Culinary events came together, resulting in the invention of Zucchiniburgers:

1) We bought some fraction of a free range cow.  The ground beef was really dry because that critter was wandering up and down some mountains or training for a 5k.

2)  I succumbed to the temptation to plant several zucchini vines.  They're so reliable!  It's so nice to come into the kitchen with a basket full of produce we actually grew! Except no one, not even our neighbors,  really likes zucchini.

3.  So I made a lot of zucchini bread, which is quite palatable if you add chocolate chips.  It occurred to me that the moistening properties of  the zucchini might transfer to our nasty dry hamburger meat.  And it would use up some of the zucchini surplus.  So here's what you do:

Grate a zucchini into a large bowl.  Add an egg.  Grate an onion in there if you feel like it.  Add about 2x as much lean ground beef (or turkey, or a combo).  Salt, pepper, worcestershire, whatever you usually put in hamburgers.  Mix it all up.  If it is really wet, add breadcrumbs until it binds.  Shape into patties, grill as usual.  Don't tell your kids and they won't notice.  

Friday, April 2, 2010

Where Credit is due:

The Man Who Lives In My House took the pictures in the previous post with the iphone hipstamatic app.  I was uncharacteristically agreeable about posing.  I'm usually concerned that being photographed will steal my soul, or expose my wrinkles, like this:

Bad either way.  Oh, and it's been asked before:  am I a lot older than my husband?  Well, if you call one year a lot, then yes. The charm of the hipstamatic lies in the way a bad quality photo makes us look GOOD.


The census came.

I read through it carefully.  Accuracy is important!

Well, I just don't believe this.  There's no category for "Hooligan!"

I labelled them "Other."

The Mother of all Fathers (Part one)

See this guy:

He is taking his three children--including that cute baby, to visit his parents.  For 6 days.

On a plane.  5 or 6 hours, plus layover. By himself.

The mother of those children is my friend.  I am working through my envy.  It's not her fault she scored the Mother of all Fathers for a husband.

(I have no business feeling envy:  I only have two children, and they go to school every day.  The Man Who Lives In My House did take the larger hooligan to visit his mother for weekends back in toddler times.  He will be most peeved if I do not give him credit.  When the Larger Hooligan was little, he called us both "mommydaddy."  He saw no reason to differentiate, except when nursing.)

My friend has visions of getting a lot accomplished:  When her family returns, the house will be completely re-modelled, she will have run a marathon, knitted matching sweaters for each family member, and there will be a lasagne in the oven--with homemade noodles. Or something.