Tuesday, September 16, 2014

child's play

There are times, I will admit, when - caught without a legitimate reason to decline - I get roped into coloring with Lil' Snip, and I end up enjoying it.

Times when the playdough comes out and he's been deprived of my company to a guilt-inducing extent and before I know it, I'm rolling and sculpting, having fun.

And then, there are times like today.

When I'm on the floor, prone, a reluctant driver of Hess trucks (I never get the one I want, no matter how sincerely he seems to be offering it; in Lil' Snip lingo "Which one do you want?" is code for "Which one do you think I want you to have?"), and I succumb.

As soon as he seems to be adequately involved in truckplay, I close my eyes and take a micro-nap until he notices, which I am happy to say can be an entire minute or longer.

Just wanted you to know, from one "supermom" to another.  {*wink*}

Monday, September 08, 2014

how to (mostly but not really) ruin bread

Bleary-eyed, I should have gone to bed a crazy hour ago, but as usual I'm smitten with must-have-recovery-time-itis and am staying up way past tired in order to .... um .... read facebook and tell you about today's bread-baking fail.

I was going to teach Spice, who is always eager to get her hands on a new kitchen skill.  Actually, Sugar was assigned to teach Spice, but then Sugar got wrapped up in making a K'Nex tow-truck for His Imperial Majesty Lil' Snip, and as I would always rather work in the kitchen than with toys of any kind (although I must admit that K'Nex and Legos, once you are roped into using them, are head and shoulders above *shudder* dolls), I quickly acquiesced to a change in plans:  K'Nex for Sugar, bread-baking lessons for me and Spice.

Spice eagerly located the recipe, read it twice per my instructions, and assembled her ingredients.  She measured and stirred like a pro, and only turned it over to me when her arm was exhausted.  I got the kneading started and then gave her a shot at it.  Her hands are still too small for a three-loaf batch of dough, but she gave it her best effort, and compensated nicely for her handicap.

We tucked it into the warmed oven to rise. . . .

. . . . came back at the timer's cue to punch down the bread and shape the loaves.  This time Spice just watched the shaping.  Another time or two, with her sharp eyes recording every nuance of motion, and she'll be ready to do it herself.  We set the resting loaves back into the oven to rise a second time, timer cued once more.

When it rang, I set the loaves on the counter, turned the oven on, and paid some bills while I waited for the "click" that signals the oven has reached temperature.  Placed the loaves into the heated oven, and then set the timer for 20 minutes - guesstimating because I'd let an known number of minutes go by before remembering the timer.

It called me back all too quickly and I pulled open the oven door to check them.  Wow, they got big ... but still too pale.  A few more minutes, then.

Five minutes later they were still awfully pale.  And then it dawned on me:

The oven was on WARM.


Not, for instance, 350 degrees Fahrenheit, as the recipe specifies, and as I have successfully accomplished for each of the roughly 18 million previous times I've made bread.

Nope.  "Warm."

Well, there was nothing for it but to crank up the heat to 350 and hope for the best.  I mournfully apologized to Spice for ruining her first ever batch of bread, and she cheerfully offered to help me mix up another batch.

I am here to tell you that if you let bread rise for 30 minutes in an oven set on warm, after it has already risen for its allotted time of 30 minutes, and only then turn the heat on to the proper temperature . . . .

. . . . the world does not end.  The bread, despite my pessimistic certainty, was not even really ruined.  The center of each loaf will be too crumbly for sandwiches, to be sure, but it tastes great.  We'll snack on it, or at worst, turn it into bread crumbs for all those recipes that I don't use that require breadcrumbs.

So it often goes with life:  Something [small] goes awry.  Unplanned.  Skewed.  I lose my cool, convinced that all is now doomed.

And life goes blithely on, largely unaffected by the bumps in the road that I mistook for mountains.

{I dunno, ya think there's a lesson in here somewhere??}

Tell Me a Story

Friday, August 29, 2014

the proper way to honor a potato

"Ahhh," says I, fully satiated after our supper of roasted red potatoes, peas, roast chicken, and watermelon, "now that was a meal!"

"Yup!" agrees Spice, "some people don't like to eat hearty, but we do!!"

She is right.  We do!  And if you, like us, enjoy eating "hearty", here is a recipe for your files:

Roasted Red Potatoes

(I'm pretty sure you will enjoy these no matter what kind of potatoes you use - I've used all kinds - but the ones we had tonight were especially spectacular, probably because my Farmer grew them in the richly pampered soil of the chemical-free CSA farm he manages a few miles from our house.  (click to visit the farm blog, facebook page, and local harvest listing)  They were tender-skinned red potatoes, a variety called Chieftain, turned out of the earth just days ago.)

So here's what you do:

Preheat the oven - 450 degrees Fahrenheit and not one degree less.  This is not the recipe to skip preheating.

Parboil the potatoes (we decided it must mean "partially boil" but never did look it up) - basically cook them in water so that they're not raw, but not perfectly soft, either.  If you're a purist, you'll boil them in their jackets (that's "skins" to us regular people).  If you're short on time, like I was, you'll cut them first - cubes, wedges, half-wedges, as you like 'em - and then parboil them.  Took about 10 minutes.

Drain the water (eternal optimist that I am, I saved the water for potato bread that I probably won't get around to making.  Feel free to pour yours down the pipes.)

Gently tumble the parboiled potatoes into a 9x13 glass pan (or if you like scrubbing, use a metal pan - do they even make those anymore?).

Add oil - peanut is what I used - and seasonings (I recommend salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and thyme).

Carefully turn the potatoes into the oil and seasonings.

Roast 40-60 minutes.  

Resist stirring, except for twice.  Trust me on this.  You will interfere with the incredible french-fry-like crust that forms if you stir too often.  So set your oven timer for 20 minutes and go read (or rot your brain on facebook or something).  You may stir when it rings, and not before!  Add more paprika if you want the potatoes to brown more, or faster.  Add oil (more peanut, or coconut) if your potatoes drank up their first dousing.  Then 20 more minutes of whatever, stir again, 20 more minutes and you're ready to call the family to the feast!

And a feast it is.  I sincerely hope that your roasted potatoes are every bit as satisfyingly delicious as ours were.

(We were too busy eating to take pictures at the table, and the only reason there were any potatoes left over to photograph later is because we were also eating roast chicken, our all-time favorite!)

(If you're a local reader, you can better your odds by signing up for a share at my Farmer's farm!  Late entries to the season are pro-rated.)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

several thousand words (2)

What's been going on at the "buretachi" homestead lately (other than wording rants about chivalry)?  Take a look - you know what they say a picture's worth:

mycological mountain find

honoring our favorite mycologist's birthday

sauerkraut, the way we like it

men at work

husking the bounty

Golden Jubilee and Butter & Sugar

my Don Juan rose - perfection!

hibiscus secrets

guess who's pleased with her useful new skill?

the usual suspects

a night on the town

King's X - a new genre for me

rain + campfire + umbrella = contentment

the mystery caterpillar emerges from its cocoon

spectacular detail!

Luna Moth, released onto the crepe myrtle

Happy Birthday, Spice!

confection-esque hydrangea 

fiery gladiolus 

look what someone left for me on the counter!

beaming playhouse resident

the first tray of pfeffernusse ... ahhhhh!!

peeking around a tree near you ....!

Friday, August 15, 2014

to the guy who rammed my daughter in the bumper cars

And then there's you.

I write a nice post about chivalrous men, and then my daughters come home from a day at the amusement park (with Grandma, thank God, and not me), and I hear about you.

The guy in the bumper cars, who gave my daughter (and Grandma - *frown!*) whiplash by rear-ending them.  

And I want to throw up my hands and lambaste every one of your gender for your neglect of one of the most basic tenets of manhood:  Protect women and children. 

How could you?!

I will assume you (a grownup, at an amusement park) have a drivers' license, and therefore no excuse for poor driving skills.  I will also assume that you, having a drivers' license, have adequate vision, and therefore no excuse for not looking out for women and children in your proximity, especially when they are in front of you.

Fortunately in my life, I have experienced more chivalry than barbarity from men, so that you, Boorish Bumper-Car Driver, rather than converting me to feminazism, serve as an illustration of the maxim "The exception proves the rule."

I believe most men out there are (or want to be) chivalrous*.  A desire to protect women and children is in their blood.  Sometimes they are scared off from their instincts by poor role models or rude women.  Sometimes they are confused by conflicting cultural messages.

Perhaps (I could choose graciousness, I suppose), that was the case with you, Bumper-Car Man.

Or perhaps Grandma and the girls didn't see you well in the dim bumper car arena.  Perhaps you aren't a man, after all.

Perhaps you are still a boy.

*Chivalry, according to Google:  the combination of qualities expected of an ideal knight, especially courage, honor, courtesy, justice, and a readiness to help the weak.  (And if that last word bothers any of you women, as I expect it might, try arm-wrestling any of your male peers.  Weakness of body need not be equated with weakness of intellect or will, and I am quite certain that your average man certainly never mistakes it for the latter.)

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