Monday, June 25, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Monday- Quinoa and peas with tomato sauce, topped with a fried egg.  I'm sort of in love with topping everything with fried eggs these days.  I'm also making bread in the breadmachine as I type.  I prefer the crust and shape of oven baking, but when it's hot, I would rather not run the oven.  The plan is to make myself a solar cooker this summer.  But I haven't done that yet. 

Tuesday- Panfried potatoes with garlic and oregano.  Polish sausage.  Coleslaw, the kind with a vinegar dressing instead of mayonnaise, which is apparently called carolina slaw.

Wednesday- Can one make a vegetarian lasagna in the crock pot?  I'm sure going to try!  We'll see how it goes!

Thursday- Matt and Margie for dinner.  The forecast says the high will be pushing 100, so that means burgers and salad.  No cooking inside.

Friday- Chicken salad sandwiches.  Carrot sticks.  General grumbling about the heat.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

So Satisfying!

Today in church the missionary who was speaking announced a game.  He needed 13 volunteers, people who weren't already holding papers.  But everyone was holding papers.  Except me and the Munchkin, who were out in the hallway where the wiggly Munchkin and yowly Baby wouldn't distract everyone.  A game, however, sounded great.  The Munchkin would hold a sign.  I would hold a sign.  What next?

Actually, it was more like an "exercise" than a "game."  As in, listen to a sentence about what the schedule said, and then listen to a paragraph about what really happened, and then move up or down one place in line depending on whether your assigned character would be more or less happy after that event.  Not a bad premise, but not terribly well exicuted.

And the longer things went on, the less inclined the Munchkin was to stand in his place and hold his sign.  And the longer things went on, the more the Baby fussed and yapped and generally made baby noises of one sort or another.  So I'm looking apologetically at my congregation, because while they are all good people, they don't adore my kids like I do.  Or rather, many of them don't think I reign in my kids quite well enough.  Too many baby noises upset them.  Stomping feet in the balcony prompt unkind comments.  And I've had quite enough criticism this week already.  Thanks!

I'm trying to (quietly! quietly!) corral the Munchkin as he sits and stands and flaps his sign and attempts to wander about and whispers loudly about inconsequential things.  I'm juggling the Baby, so as to maybe calm her down.  Not happy on my back, maybe my front?  Are you crying yourself to sleep?  Please hush!  Please kids!

Finally, the game is over.  I can retreat to the back hallway again.  I'm embarrassed.  I'm not looking forward to the chit chat after church.  And after the service ends, one of the older ladies approaches me.  Oh no, I think, but it becomes immediately clear that this conversation isn't what I was expecting.  She effuses: The Munchkin is charming, and he behaved so well!  The Baby is too cute!  What a beautiful job I did juggling her to try and keep her happy!  I'm a good mom!  My kids are great kids! 

I was flabbergasted.  Dumbfounded.  Struck speechless.  Thank you, dear dear woman.  You made my month!  Sometimes, a little affirmation does the heart good. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Monday- Red pepper and mushroom risotto. Focaccia (Incidentally, this may well be the worst batch of bread I've ever made.  But it's edible, so it will be eaten).  Pan fried Italian sausages.

Tuesday-Asian coleslaw. Garlic lime talapia.

Wednesday- Pot smashed potatoes with garlic and lemon.  Sauteed Zucchini with oregano.  Chicken with garlic and onions.

Thursday- Rotini with white beans in home made tomato sauce.

Friday- Kebabs with meatballs and various summer veggies.  I do each skewer with one thing on it (meatballs only, say, or just green peppers), because otherwise your mushrooms are charred by the time your peppers are cooked, or you're serving raw peppers with cooked mushrooms.  You could re-thread everything in prettier order after cooking, but we take the skewers out to serve anyway.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day & A Recipe (of sorts)

We bought a house early last year with an almost-but-not-quite dead cherry tree in the back yard.  It produced an abundance of spring blossoms but no fruit last summer, and we decided it's sad, diseased self had to go.  Plans were made, a chainsaw was borrowed, and on Mother's Day of this year, we set out to put it out of its misery.  At which point I noticed that it was LOADED with fruit. 

Now, I have a neighbor who felt no compunction about ripping out his weed-choked lilacs two weeks before they were in full bloom, but I could not justify killing off that dying tree right before its cherries ripened.  So it sat for a few more weeks.  Wednesday I picked a few cherries, and they were ripe and lovely.  But dying is dying, so we cut down the cherry tree, and I harvested its lovely swan song sour cherries.

I wanted to take some pictures of the summer sun shining through beautiful carmine cherries nestled among emerald leaves, but I couldn't find my camera.  Which is probably just as well.  It's a cheap little point-and-click, so it wouldn't do justice to the effect.  And then I'd get frustrated, and you'd end up being subjected to lousy pictures anyway.  Someday I shall invest in a DSLR.  But not today, friends, not today.

Also, we figured out why the tree was dying!  Carpenter ants had eaten a big tunnel straight up through the trunk, and presumably down into the roots as well.  At least it wasn't some contagious fungus or something, because we've got both a bing cherry in the backyard and some nanking cherries in the front, and we would hate to have all of those die.

On to the recipe, which isn't really a recipe, it's more like a technique.  Or not even really a technique.  Realistically, it's an idea about food.  But isn't that better than a mere recipe?  (No.)

Cherry Bounce

Pit a bucket full of sour cherries from your poor chopped off tree. Literally, an ice cream bucket is good.  Otherwise, use a plastic bowl.  Or some glass canning jars. 
Cover the cherries with vodka.  You could use something else, but it will end up mostly tasting like cherries, and vodka is cheap.
Pour in some sugar.  It's easier to add more than to take some out, but the sugar helps as a preservative (due to cell osmosis!  I learned something in science class!), so don't be too skimpy.  Maybe a 1/4 cup per cup of cherries would do the trick.  But if you like your booze sweet, go crazy.
Stir everything together and stick it in the fridge.
Stir every day or two for a week or so, and then stuff it all the way back so that it can sit happily while you go on about your life. 
When you discover the cherries again in a month or two, they will be amazing.  The liquid is still mostly vodka, so don't feed it to small children or eat an entire jar by yourself.  Mix your cherry bounce with soda (7up or coke sound great) or pour it over dessert (vanilla ice cream or chocolate cake sound amazing).
Enjoy until you run out in the dead of winter.  Think about June when you can get your hands on some sour cherries again.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Monday- Curried carrot soup. Bread. Yogurt-Cucumber salad.

Tuesday- Burgers.  Green beans, lightly cooked in olive oil with garlic, salt, and pepper.

Wednesday- Homemade pizza (we might try this on the grill).  Marinated bell peppers.

Thursday- Jamaican Me Crazy Beef Penne. (Brown and drain ground beef.  In the pan drippings, brown an onion, 1-2 bell peppers, and a whole lot of garlic.  Add tomatoes, carrots, worchtershire sauce, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and vinegar.  Dump generous servings over cooked penne and serve with hot sauce.  Lots and lots of hot sauce.)

Friday- Garlic-lime chicken.  Cranberry salsa.  Salad.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Monday- The boys ate burgers with the neighbors across the street while I went to a fitness class.  I haven't worked out like that since high school.  Holy cats, I'm going to be sore tomorrow.

Tuesday- The last youth group night of the school year.  Tacos, because The Hubby loves them so and has requested.  But I'm not making my own tortillas for that big a crowd.  Thank you, El Milagro.

Wednesday- Pasta in lemon cream sauce with sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, and chicken.  Bread, if I use up the last of the loaf making sandwiches.  Vegetables?  Do we have any vegetables?

Thursday- I'll have a clearer idea after grocery shopping today, but we're having people over, so dinner should be somewhat nice, right?  How about homemade pizza and a big chopped salad.  That sounds seasonal!  Maybe some kind of fruit and whipped cream based dessert.

Friday- Italian sausage and peppers.  Bread, either fresh today or from Wednesday.  Does this meal need a side dish?

Not Recanting

A girlfriend called me up today and in the course of our conversation, she called me out on my last post.  She asked if I really am advocating talking about all the moms we disagree with behind their backs.  And the short answer is, no, not exactly.  I'm not really taking a pro-gossip stance here.  Remember, in a perfect world we'd all peacefully and graciously agree to disagree and refrain from even thinking anything mean about other moms' parenting decisions.  However, realistically, never ever commenting on parenting you disagree with pretty much takes a graduate degree in if-you-can't-say-anything-nice-don't-say-anything-at-all.  So, that being said, I accept that moms will disagree with each other less than amicably on some points.  Fair enough.  But how about, instead of yelling at each other about those points, or making nasty comments under our breath when we know the other mom is in earshot, we just don't say anything at all, at least until we get home from the party.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Mama Manifesto

In a perfect world, we would all acknowledge that there is no one "right" way to parent a child.  We would all admit that every parenting philosophy out there is an attempt to answer the same question: How do I raise a reasonably happy, reasonably healthy, reasonably well adjusted child given the fact that all resources are limited?  In a perfect world we could all admit that we have limits to our money, time, and patience.  We could agree that every mom has to make her own decisions, based on what makes sense for her and her family at that moment in time.  In a perfect world we could even confess that we don't know everything, and we are biased by our own experiences.

In that world, every mother would be able to agree to disagree and would be able to make her decisions without being defensive.  Because the truth is, any child raised by a loving mother who makes the best decisions she can with the knowledge and resources that she has available can turn out reasonably happy, reasonably healthy, and reasonably well adjusted.  Yes, every philosophy has its flaws.  And, yes, every parent will make mistakes. But, NO, that doesn't mean that we should fight over what's best or who's better.  In a perfect world, mamas of every stripe would support each other in acknowledging the struggles and triumphs and joys of motherhood.

I'll admit, though, our world is far from perfect.  So I'll settle for something slightly less ambitious.  How about this: Go ahead and criticize the way I parent, but please do it behind my back.

I am already fairly well aware of the mean and snippy things you are going to say (who does that? that's disgusting!), and none of those comments is going to change my mind.  I'm also sure that you've heard all of my responses before (lots of people, including me. no, it's not!), and none of them is going to change your mind.  So let's just save ourselves the headache.  How about we tolerate each other quietly, and then complain to our husbands later tonight.  I'm pretty sure they'll be a more sympathetic audience.  Deal?