Monday, February 21, 2011

Food, because I'm trying to break out of a food rut.

I haven't been feeling inventive with food lately.  It seems like I go to the grocery store every other day.  Much as I love my grocery ladies (Kay!  Rachel!  Jeannie! Joann!  You make my routine enjoyable!) and the wine guy (Louis! Yay Louis!)  and the coffee kids (The usual?  Yes please. 12 oz coffee.  Black), AND the cheese goddess (so many samples!), I get sick of buying food.

So to mix things up, and because it's next to Value Village (Half off Presidents' Day Sale, you think I'd miss that?), I stopped in at Benedetti's Butcher Shop.  I like those old school places with the big chopping blocks and shiny knives.  There is a particular smell of very fresh clean meat that's at once appealing and slightly repugnant.  Benedetti's also makes cheese steak sandwiches, if you happen to be hungry.

Works for me.   Anyway, there were chicken breasts stuffed with asparagus in the case.  And I happened to remember that there was a bunch of asparagus withering away in my fridge.  Also a rind of parmesan cheese and some proscuitto.  HA!  All I had to do was buy some chicken breasts and I could make dinner without another trip to the grocery store.

So here's how it came together:

Partially cut through a chicken breast to make space for stuffing.
Fill with: thin slices of parmesan
               6 asparagus tips
               a little minced garlic
               lemon zest
               black pepper

I used cooking twine and tied each one up like a mini roast.  Then I browned them in a little butter and garlic, poured some liquid (white wine, lemon juice, cream (no idea why we have cream) and a little mustard into the pan, put the lid on, and simmered for about 35 minutes.

I made rice, but it was too much white.  Next time I'll make baby red potatoes.  I'll also go for more mustard (I only used about a teaspoon) and possibly some tarragon or saffron as well.  I steamed the rest of the asparagus to the top of the chicken for the last 7 or 8 minutes.  You could substitute milk for the cream, or stock.  If you don't eat chicken, this would be delicious with fish, but I'm not sure what would be sturdy enough to stuff--maybe halibut?  Somebody try it and get back to me.

It was sort of fancy, but maybe I just think that because asparagus was a delicacy reserved for company when I was growing up.  I loathed it.  I don't know when I figured out it's delicious.  The hooligans like it, but you know they're weird that way.  The Larger One called it twigs (More twigs!  More!) when he was little.   He probably was enjoying dinosaur (brontosaurus, since it involved vegetables) ideation.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Snark Junior: That's my boy.

The following is the beginning of Chapter 2 of The Larger Hooligan's Autobiography.  I did no editing, suggesting commentary, nothing.  I was not home when he wrote it.  He clearly enjoyed his afternoon of being a latchkey child.  Now he is at soccer practice in the icy pouring rain.

Chapter 2
My Family

My family consists of 3 people not including me. The first is my Dad biker doctor kid raiser whatever.  The next is my Mom chef knitter prison warden okay so that might be a little harsh lets say rule enforcer.  Last is my brother weirdo, boy who names his chickens odd things such as Where Is My Burrito and Taco-My-Oco I don’t know.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Valentines Phooey

All the design blogs I like to peruse are annoying me this week with their Valentines blather.  Adorable craft projects!  Sweet gift suggestions!

Excuse me while I go throw up a little bit in my mouth.


It is possible that i'm just sour because I've had a number of dreadful valentines experiences.  The one that took the proverbial cake was during college.  The very tall and cute, but flakey and annoying boy I had been trying to break up with decided to show up with a giant stuffed teddy bear.

I was, like, you really have no idea who you're with, do you?

I wasn't a stuffed animal person even as a child.  It did make it easier to go through with the break up.

A fun Valentine's Day also occurred during college. At the time I was (blessedly) single.  I spent the evening in the basement party room with the brothers and sisters of zeta-something or other, playing spin the bottle.  Awesome.  I had to kiss a short blond guy.

I do like to make stuff, so I usually buy a bunch of stickers and break out the glitter.  The Hooligans dislike the store cards because they say actual sweet things.  What if a girl were to take it seriously?  The very thought freaks them out.  So we make our own.  They are highly decorated (there is nothing a hooligan likes more than going to town with the glitter), but with very basic messages--telegram-like:
HAPPY VALENTINES DAY, SO & SO. (Note: no exclamation point--that would denote                    enthusiasm.) FROM HOOLIGAN

The Man Who Lives In My House looks at me fretfully in the week or so before Valentine's Day.  "Do I need to get you something?"  he asks.

I have to tell you, that is IT, for me.  This is ROMANCE!  Because if I said,  "Yes,  I must have a diamond tennis bracelet right away, "  I believe he would march out and get one.  (note: I have never tested this theory.)

Which makes it completely true when I say, "No, I don't want anything.  In fact, I'll be really irritated if you get suckered into the advertising bullshit.  Let's just eat the kids' chocolate after they go to bed." Which is what we do.

This picture was not taken on Valentines' Day.  On Valentines, we wear sweatpants. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Friends of friends of friends

Our friends lost their son in a tragic accident last weekend.  The mom was one of the first people I met when we moved here.  Her boys are 3 years apart--like mine, but ten years further along.  She has been a sounding board for me on everything to do with living with and raising sons.  Her experiences have given me so many valuable insights.

We are all the things you would expect:  shocked, sad, heartsick.  We have spoken to our friend on the phone and brought fresh squeezed orange juice to the house--right now they are mobbed with extended family, neighbors, friends.  Their front porch looks like a shrine.  Someone has placed little pots of miniature daffodils along their walkway.  The family is being taken care of--insofar as that is possible--which of course it's not. Not really.

Meanwhile, other friends of ours have called us:  How is the boy's family doing?  How are we doing? They don't know the family personally, but they know we do.  They express their sympathy.  They have fed us dinner and held our hands.  Distracted our kids so we can sit together and talk.

I imagine this is happening all over our little town--the very closest friends and family are with the bereaved.  The next circle out is bringing flowers and food, writing notes.  Beyond that, friends are taking extra care of one another, hugging their kids more, walking them all the way to school  instead of just to the corner.  We are so lucky to be here, to be together.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Texting: toddler ennui, cookies, fleas

My sister to me:  I just asked Senor Cupcake to stop moaning and he said, "No, I still need to moan right    now."

My reply: Why is my nephew moaning?  Or does he just want to be featured on Auntie's blog?  Consider it done.  Give that child a cookie.  Chop chop!

My sister: Unspecified dissatisfaction.
                 No Cookies!

Me:  You are the meanest mom in the whole world!  I've been usurped!  I'm going to tell the Hooligans!

My sister:  You told me to start early.

Me:  Yes, with chores and vegetables, I never said no cookies.  I am pro-cookie.

My sister:  Your nephew says "OOOOHHHHH."Very dramatic.  And he gets plenty of cookies.  Ever since xmas it's all dessert, all the time.

Me:  Oh thank god.  I was tired of getting in trouble for sneaking him cookies.  I just made cookies this     afternoon.  Tell him Auntie Cake says MMMMMMMM.

My sister:  What kind?

Me:  Chocolate chip with ground almonds and coconut and currents and walnuts.  They are almost healthy.


Me:  That's what I think.

My sister:  That's what Senor Cupcake thinks of healthy cookies.

Me:  These are good!  They have sugar and everything!  I am at the vet right now, because I love to give the vet all of our money.  Tell Senor Cupcake to become a vet:  It's perfect because it will satisfy any rebellious urges he may have as the product of a pet free home, plus he will be terribly rich.*

My sister:  Nice.  He can provide us with companion animals for our old age.

Me:  I am already old.  The hooligans are my companion animals.  I can't really picture you guys with a poodle.

My sister:  What about a nice mid-sized mutt?  Aren't we cute?

*I don't really think vets are terribly rich, it just seems that way to me when I have to keep bringing my high maintenance mutt, turtles, etc. in to see ours.  She has skills that are invaluable!  She deals with stool samples.  I am so glad I can outsource that!  It is worth every penny.  She is going to save me money by removing Otto's nasty skin tags when she puts him under to clean his nasty teeth.  Why do I love dogs?  It is a sickness, clearly.

My sister had just sent me this picture when our vet came back into the exam room with the verdict:  Otto's blood work is good; he can handle anesthesia; he does not have heartworm; the reason he is scratching and chewing on himself all the time is not yeast or fungus or doggie psoriasis or anything so exotic.  He has fleas.

Fleas!  That is so retro.  Nobody has fleas anymore. We all dose up our mammalian pets with that magical Frontline tincture and the fleas go away. Except they don't--they evolve.  Now we will give Otto a new kind of tincture, which will eliminate the Fleas for a few more generations.  All in all, an educational and amusing afternoon.