Three of us were lounging in bed Sunday morning. Larger Hooligan was reading science fiction. The Man Who Lives in My House was checking the weather on his iphone. I was pretending to still be asleep. Getting up to make coffee or fetch the paper seemed awfully ambitious.
"Come snuggle," I suggested to the smaller Hooligan. "It's cozy in here."
"I have to get to work." He answered crossly, "I am building a city."
Every five or six years my old clogs develop a crack in the wood sole, or all the leather rips off the nails along one side, or some such unfixable disaster. I go to Clogs-n-More in Portland, try on everything they've got in size 39, and bring home pretty much the same thing I had before: black, natural wood base, sometimes with perforations or a closed back, this time with a bowling-shoe-esque lace up feature. Don't they look great when they're new? I will try to remember to change into my boots before going into the chicken coop.
The Man Who Lives In My House, that's who. He has the same reaction to chicken that I have to apple juice and graham crackers--it's the result of overexposure in our early years. Still, Roast Chicken! That's like hating cheerios or toothpaste! How does one get by? I have to resort to stealth and subterfuge* when I want to make chicken. We actually just don't have it. We have "midget turkey" or "giant cornish game hen". Here for your reading/cooking pleasure is my recipe for "midget turkey":
Peel 3 or four onions and slice thickly. Place all over the bottom of a roasting pan. These create a raised base for your midget turkey, so that it doesn't wallow in the fat. Clever. Place Midget Turkey on onions, surround with little red potatoes. Stuff several sprigs of rosemary in the nooks and crannies of the Midget Turkey. Pour a glass of sherry in there--don't drink it all! Now lay 3-six strips of bacon over the top. Roast @ 350 for about and hour and fifteen minutes. This works well with any poultry, as you can imagine.
The phrase "stealth and subterfuge" is lifted from one of Daniel and Jill Pinkwater's genius Larry The Polar Bear Books. If you haven't read a Larry book you're in for a treat. They're in the children's picture book section at your library.
A garden gnome appeared. He was dying to get his tiny hands on the power tools. Rakes are so dark ages. Later, I found him (still wearing the hat) leaping off the garbage cans. He had attached the leaf blower to his back with bungee cords. He was hoping it would function as a jet pack. Sorry there's no footage. It's hard to film when you're laughing so hard you have to sit down.
When my children are whiny: "Cry me a River."
When my children are complaining: "It's better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick."
When my children want something frivolous: "You'll get nothing and like it."
The Man Who lives in my house-swirling something in a wine glass: "Mmmm, taste this."
Me, sipping: "Wow. That's good. I can taste really good shoes."
The Man Who Lives In My House: "Ha Ha Ha, that's funny because it is Italian."
(The Wine in question was a 2004 Ronco Malo Barbera. And I meant the part about tasting of shoes in the nicest possible way. Lovely new, unworn shoes, hand made by a cobbler in Rome. Nice.)
I fear I will be trampled. They've been at it since 6:45 a.m. Curse Daylight Savings. Fall back indeed. I think it is happy bellowing, at least. I believe I will retreat to the basement. That's what I would do if it were a tornado or a bomb.
If you happen get a notion to make a complicated dessert--one involving batches of shortbread, caramel, and melted chocolate, it is imprudent to simultaneously saute garlic and onions on the other burner.
When you chop the onions, you see, you might accidentally drop them into the bubbling hot sugar syrup.
Bacon infused caramel...maybe. Onion? no.
We're having shortbread drizzled with chocolate for dessert. Forget the caramel.
Costumes were easy this year: Intergalactic Freaks. Gas Mask, jeans, sweatshirt, water gun spray painted silver. At the last minute, The Smaller Hooligan added a cowboy hat, making him an Intergalactic Freak with a Space Cowboy twist.
I let them buy the gas masks last spring--we were sucked into a huge army-navy surplus store in the Belltown area of Seattle. They really really wanted to buy grenades, or bowie knives, or ak-47s, so the masks were a pacifist victory, of sorts. They used their own money ($16). And I said they would have to use them for Halloween.
Hooligan Halloween costumes always revolve around the weapon. They are such deprived children--I generally do not let them have toy guns. I even object to water blasters and nerf guns--Bad Grandma goes behind my back so they get them anyway, curse her. Halloween is an opportunity to get me to buy them a warlike toy. They have been skeleton pirates with swords, cowboys with six shooters, knights with swords and shields, robots with blasters...... you get the idea.
When the Larger Hooligan was in first grade, he was really into penguins, so they told me they wanted to penguins. Cute! I ran with that! I found big black hooded sweatshirts at the thrift store, added white felt for the stomach and underside of the wings, googly eyes, yellow beaks--adorable. Right before the holiday they said they'd changed their minds, they must be ninjas. With Numchucks. NOOOOOO! I totally bribed them to go with the penguin plan by buying them orange plastic pistols.
Penguins with guns. Whatever. I guess if I had a girl I'd be sick of fairy costumes.
The Larger Hooligan is a Candy Spendthrift. He brings his Halloween candy bag with him everywhere and proffers it right and left. This seems sweet and open-handed, but he has a secret agenda: the person who accepts his generosity is unlikely to say, "Now you've had enough, buster!" He helps himself to a piece, too, in solidarity, you understand. Every time I see him, he looks like a squirrel, his cheek bulging with a jawbreaker. When he sees me he offers his bucket with a muffled, "Take a piece, Mom!" Works like a charm.
My other child is a Candy Accountant. He sorted his haul by type. Then he counted up the total. Then he broke open the packages of gummies and jellybeans and got an even more exact total (363 pieces). He ate one carmel, crossed out 363, and wrote 362. Then he looked at me balefully. "I'm going to count it every day," he announced. And marched upstairs to hide the bag under his pillow.
By the beleaguered I do not mean me: I am referring to the teachers at the Hooligans' school. (Look for a post in the next few days re: their beleagured-ness. In short, budget cuts, possible lay offs, and general economic fall-out appears to be about to land directly on their heads. Why doesn't shit happen to people who actually deserve it? This is not right.)
Today is a conference day, which means that the Hooligans are riding out their post Halloween sugar rushes with various compadres while their teachers strike the balance between diplomacy and the naked truth with parent after parent. ("He's so creative and independent." might really mean "He never follows directions.") A call went out for volunteers to bring dinner for the teachers at school (Conferences go to about 8:00 p.m.). Well I was going to cook anyway, so why not: Here's what I'm making:
Tuscan Lemon Chicken
12 chicken thighs, bone in,
6 cloves garlic minced
6 lemons, zested and juiced (about 1/2 C juice)
1.5 cups green olives,pitted--I like the castelvetrano kind that is meaty and not too salty
2 T capers
6 carrots, chopped
2 sprigs thyme
1 cup white wine
4 cups chicken stock
lots of pepper
parsley for garnish
I really hate canned stock, but I go through it as fast as I can make it. When I make stuff like this I buy a package of chicken wings and throw them in a pot with all the vegetable peels, carrot tops, etc. and boil it up--semi-instant stock. I add the squeezed lemon rinds and olive pits and boil it for an hour or so. If I want it to be fancy, I brown the chicken thighs while the stock is boiling. If it's just for us I skip that step.
Throw the chicken thighs (browned or not), onions, garlic, lemon juice and zest, carrots, thyme, capers, pepper, wine and olives into the crock pot--or a big dutch oven over low heat. Pour the stock over, let it simmer for a couple of hours and garnish with parsley. When I use canned stock (I prefer the low-sodium kind) I add extra lemon juice and garlic to liven it up. Serve with crusty bread and some sort of green vegetable or salad.
Given the season, dessert will be whatever Halloween Candy the Hooligans are willing to fork over. I'm guessing I'll get a Twizzler or a dum-dum if I'm lucky.