Monday, July 21, 2014

Just When You Think You Have No Readers

Of course I invited people to come check out my blog. And the tone of my last title was all wrong, though the sentiment was one I meant in a straight-up way. And yet people find themselves here via the Hansel-and-Gretl breadcrumbs of the internet: links from friends' blogs, or my thanks on Smitten Kitchen from 2008. Strange, how you know the internet lives forever and yet it startles me that something I wrote 6 years ago resonates enough with someone today to click over and see how I'm doing.

The answer is: I am still learning. I am still not an intuitive cook. My sense of kitchen adventure is dragged down by fussy eating kids (well, one fussy eater and another who, if Fussy likes it, will declare immediately that he doesn't, and we have always been at war with Oceana, thereby preventing one-meal-fits-all meals in the house) and a part-time job.

I am still weak at figuring out the timing of having all meal elements ready at once. I am still baffled how my cabinets and refrigerator end up with the random assortment that ends up there, and unlike my husband, who can suddenly whip random ingredients into something delicious, I buy more random ingredients to make it work.

But I have had some successes. There are things I enjoy making and my kids haven't starved. Even if more weeks than not have a lot of repeated favorites, I am ok with that. The good ones (for the most part) make it to the sidebar; the less-successful are kept here so I can go back to remind myself what did and didn't work.

So, thanks for visiting. You are welcome anytime, and questions are always welcomed as well. I am glad you are here, whoever you are, as long as you come in peace and bring no malware.

Monday: Leftover Chinese, salmon, and shrimp (not all together but we all ate well)

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday

Wednesday: Wednesday Spaghetti

Thursday: farmer's chicken, maybe corn on the cob

Friday: just me & Mr. Picky, so I have no idea what we'll do. If I am lazy I will make him more pasta and he will be over the moon with joy. If not, I will try to figure something else out. (In some ways, he is very easy; he adores the Crazy Jane's chicken and will cheerfully eat it night after night, complimenting me on how delicious it is. Nothing too wrong with that.)

Wishing you a good week. This is our last week of camp and the second half of summer is staring me down and making me a bit crazy but I am lucky to have these as my worries and I know it!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Having No Readers Is Freeing

Ah, the end of the age of amateur blogs. It was fun to be here while the form morphed and I enjoyed it. I'm not stopping what I'm doing--it absolutely serves the purpose I meant it to serve. But it is strange watching my Feedly depopulate.

For anyone stopping by, we had a really calm week here last week, at least by summer standards. A swim meet here and there, lots of pool time otherwise, fun camp days for the boys, and a shockingly closely followed meal plan. One note: I will not be making those banana-oat bars again; they attracted fruit flies like crazy and they drive me...well, bananas.

Meanwhile, I, for one, welcome back the polar vortex with open arms. We are not in the worst of it but it has already depressed the humidity so even the 90 degree heat didn't feel so bad. Winning.

This week:

Monday: Armagnac chicken (because I have all the veggies for it)

Tuesday: taco Tuesday (now with *soft* tacos! oooh. I am pleased b/c they are cheaper and more versatile, though just as nutritionally bankrupt)

Wednesday: Wednesday spaghetti, of course (another swim meet too so it will be early)

Thursday: leftovers, with any luck

Friday: the Independence Eve race in our town was weather-delayed to this night, so we will have a cookout at home and cheer on the runners as they come down our street.

Wishing you a great week, and a fun time watching swim meets, the World Cup, the Tour de France, World Championship Lacrosse, or whatever else strikes your fancy this week!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

New New Favorites

So this week, just a bit too late for my blueberries, I came across the recipe for blueberry almond refrigerator oatmeal. I made it with the almond milk I had for the other new favorite summer breakfast (pb & banana smoothie) and I loved it. So did my husband. It was perfect after a sticky dog walk in the morning. I kept making it all week. I added strawberries (ok), bananas (yum), coconut (which I think improves all it touches), and eventually--more blueberries. It was great.

This July 4, I had crazy grand food plans and in the end, it was such a strange day, most of it didn't happen. On July 3, some freak little storm cell hit the north end of town, taking down at least 5 huge, old, gorgeous trees, while on the other side of town, it barely drizzled. Because of that and a prediction of showers all day, the town cancelled the July 4 festivities. By noon, though, there was no rain falling, and so people paraded anyway, with no judges or trophies, and the fire company gave rides from the cabs of the fire trucks instead of on top. It was very low key and super fun. Since our usual water fight wasn't happening, we went to the horseshoes tournament and the one boy joined in with his friend and the other went exploring the creek with a bunch of other kids. Then one biked to a friend's house, but got waylaid playing ball tag with another group of buddies; then they biked to the pool to rendezvous with my husband and other son to play the games there. It was awesome, start to finish, and the strange weather--breezy and 74 degrees! it felt like Maine--just added to the small town magic of the day.

But...that meant I wasn't hiding in my house cooking. I heated the strawberry rhubarb crumble...and forgot to take it to the party. In the end, the only two things from my list of (whoops) 12 were the Greek dip from Clover Lane, which was spectacular and I will make again and again, and the flag snacks--white dish, box of blueberries in the corner for the blue field, then stripes of strawberries and yogurt pretzels. That was a giant hit, the kids oohed and ahed like I'd cooked all day, and in the end, there were maybe four strawberries and a light layer of blueberries left. So all those other cool ideas? Forget it.

Oh, and I made oatmeal squares from the following recipe; they were good, for what they were--that sounds like damning with faint praise but that isn't what I mean to do. The recipe:

3 bananas, smushed
1/3 C applesauce
2 C oats
1/2 C almond milk
1/2 C raisins
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix, pour in to square baking dish and smooth out top; bake at 350 for 20 minutes, let cool and cut.

Not as good as the refrigerator oatmeal, but for a no-gluten, no-dairy, no-sugar cookie? they were good.

Then the block party was amazing; we had some "extra" invited families with kids who visit here all the time, and there was just a herd of boys romping through the yards, dropping by every once in a while for a hot dog or cupcake. There were fireworks from BJ's and then someone rigged a projector to show a movie on the garage door of one of the houses. The kids all pulled up chairs and settled in, giving the parents the chance to do the same. So we sat around a fire pit in the middle of the street until almost midnight, enjoying the evening and each other.

But for at least 10 years, we've had crazy hot July 4ths. Our first one in this house was 104 degrees and humid; not many after were much better weather-wise. But this year, when the kids were putting on their bathing suits and topping them with fleece, when the wind blew so hard the mosquitoes were chased away; when the kids decorated their bikes and rode them for no judges, just the pleasure of garland and streamers on their bikes...it was really magic. It was a great day and I will remember this one forever.

This week:

Monday: yogurt chicken, green beans with pickled onions and toasted almonds, maybe rice if I feel like it.

Tuesday: taco Tuesday, yay!

Wednesday: Wednesday Spaghetti, yay!

Thursday: there has been a request for Pacific Rim Pork again, which I am happy to do. Rice and probably leftover string beans on the side.

Friday: Leftovers, is my guess. Otherwise, something from the freezer.

I am so grateful to live here. I am so glad to have such good neighbors. I am so happy that my boys are old enough to go traipsing around town on their bikes, and that today was such a good day to do it. Wishing you a week full of things that make your heart content.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Settling in to Summer

What does summer mean to you? I am excited; this week alone we have hit a bunch of my favorite things. Beach trip with family, checking items off the summer "to do" list, and lots of strawberries and fruit.

There's been some sadness too; they are closing the church where I grew up (incredibly unjustly, might I add) so I went to our last Mass there. We belonged to a different parish, partly because I had always assumed if we wanted to switch back to what should have been our parish, we could, but that wasn't meant to be. I loved the times we went--we usually walked there on holidays to avoid the driving and parking, and spent a lot of summer Saturday night Masses there too. It was good going back, seeing lots of friends of my parents, and saying goodbye to their names on the burial lists.

So a new week begins as an era ends. Dinners:

Monday: Pasta dinner for the swim team. I am bringing buttered noodles, of course.

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday but also a swim meet and the Lego build. Not sure how this will shake out except to say: Taco Thursday looking likely.

Wednesday: With Monday spaghetti, I don't think we'll repeat but if I am feeling lazy--maybe we will! There is another swim meet this night so who knows what we will do.

Thursday: Taco Thursday, or Turkey Thursday. If not taco--turkey breast, potato salad, cucumbers and strawberries.

Friday: Happy July 4 to all! We will have a barbecue on our street but my cousins are also hosting an open house so I am not sure where we will end up going. I have all kinds of pinterest ideas for food (strawberry and yogurt pretzel and blueberry flag tray; red-white-and-blue spinach salad) so someone will eat well, wherever we decide to be.

I tried the frozen blueberry yogurt bites on Pinterest but I don't know why (except to be able to say truthfully, "Yes, I used the super cute small muffin molds in the past year")--I knew they would freeze too hard for me. But it was a fine use of on-the-edge blueberries and the end of the yogurt. Frozen, they are too hard and cold for my teeth. Melted, they are just blueberry yogurt. So no waste but not a "do it again" recipe either.

Wishing you a good week full of whatever summer activities bring you joy.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Aaaaahhhhhhh....

Solstice. Perfect summer weather--hot, no humidity (well, comparatively for around here). Pool is open, school is closed, and camp starts tomorrow. Welcome to early summer!

Last week worked out well--due to a random set of circumstances, we didn't get to grill when we intended to so a lot of meat met its due date at once, so my husband grilled a Joann's pork tenderloin, four burgers, and a pile of chicken tenders marinated in lemon-yogurt. We ate off that platter all week. It was awesome.

This week:

Monday: I'm out. It's on Dad. He'll figure something out I am sure. (I have a conference.)

Tuesday: Back to taco Tuesday. Due to the surfeit of meat, I had to make the taco meat and freeze it. Bonus: now ready to go.

Wednesday: Small boy is still pouting that he did not get last week's Wednesday spaghetti, so it will make its triumphant return.

Thursday: I had a request! Pacific rim pork, rice, maybe a broccoli side.

Friday: town picnic! Last year it was cancelled by weather; I hope the picnic happens this year. We bring a salad or side; not sure what we'll bring right now though.

Last week, we did a potluck lunch on the second-to-last day of school. I made poppyseed chicken, broccoli slaw from Dinner: A Love Story, margarita punch, and the chickpea/apple salad. (I was the instigator, but a very generous friend volunteered her house for the actual event, so I overcompensated by bringing way too much food.) I also made dinner for my mother in law this week and did the Smitten Kitchen almonds & zucchini. Yum yum yum.

Also, I made summer goals along with the kids: lemon water is helping me reach one of mine. I am trying to stay better hydrated. It's amazing how two slices of lemon changes how I feel about that glass of water. I have pinned lots of fruit/veggie water combos on Pinterest so I will be experimenting with them through the summer.

My kids have discovered the Singing Monsters app so I am going to bowm bowm bowm on outta here. Happy week!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Three More Wakeups

And then my kids will be out of bed every day at 6am! Joy!

Kidding. Summer is sliding in right on time here and as soon as we get the screen thing fixed around here (as in, no, you cannot spend all day every day on them) we will be in summer mode.

Not much last week in the new food department though there were lots of old favorites.

I did try the ginger baked pears, and I liked them but they were not a family hit. Still: it's always good to try new things.

This week is tricky because there is baseball every night if the one boy's team keeps winning. As much as I hate the season for its unpredictability, length, and inconvenience, I love this team and this coaching staff and I want this for them. Here's hoping, but I know winning five in a row is a hard feat to pull off.

Monday: Joanne's pork tenderloin (didn't get to them last week), rice, zucchini

Tuesday: tacos

Wednesday: spaghetti

Thursday: first day of vacation so I am hoping to grill chicken, with grilled asparagus and lemony smashed potatoes.

Friday: ok, so Monday is complicated...we are invited to a World Cup game watch at a pizza place, but I suspect our own baseball schedule will make that not happen. If we don't have pizza Monday, we will have it tonight. If we have pizza on Monday, pork will be tonight.

Happy mid-June to all!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Crazy and Hazy, Check, Now Seeking Lazy

Anyone else remember that song, about the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer? I think we can check off the "crazy" for sure, and some of the "hazy" too. Last week involved a blitz trip to Connecticut to watch our niece graduate from high school there, which we were thrilled to be a part of. Then we jammed back down the turnpike in time for the baseball playoff games and sleepovers that awaited my boys. I went to a ballet while my husband went to a soccer game. I think it is the first time except for school where all four of us have been apart. It was a little strange.

Due to that--there wasn't much cooking last week, though I was delighted with one success: I made a turkey breast, based mostly on How to Cook Everything's recipe. My version: preheat oven to 450. Put turkey breast in pan with small amount of olive oil in the bottom. Rub soft butter on turkey breast. Top with kosher or sea salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning, then drizzle with a little more olive oil. Ideally, pour some chicken broth/stock in the pan to keep the turkey moist. Baste while it cooks if you think of it. Check after 30-40 minutes to see if the convenient little "pops up when it's done" thing has popped up.  Serve to your picky child and watch him ask for thirds. It was bliss.

The only other "new" thing: I needed to use cans for the softball toss at the end-of-year parties, so I made the lemony walnut chickpea salad from Pinterest. I loved it as is, and loved it more with avocado. Yum. I made it again, even after I had plenty of cans ready for the carnival game.

This week: I have lots of rosemary. See if you can spot the theme.

Monday: Joanne's pork tenderloin, rice, zucchini

Tuesday: tacos

Wednesday: spaghetti (trying the Laughing Cow faux Alfredo here for me); it is also the end of year celebration for our school language program so I am making a ton of dumplings for the Chinese food requirement and probably margarita punch for the Mexican. (No, no tequila, tempting though it may be)

Thursday: chicken roll ups, roasted fingerling potatoes, something green

Friday: my last day of work for the summer! I am excited and terrified. We have been hammered with unexpected bills this year (starting with taxes, made worse by the much higher charge from the firm that did our taxes, then my car frying all its fuses, then a mostly-covered-but-so-expensive-we-still-paid-a-ton medical procedure plus much higher copays from the new health insurance...) and I am very worried about how the summer is going to go cash-wise.

But...it's summer! The kids are loving swimming, and I am finding myself very distracted at work and impatient to finish books and just have a different set of things on my mind. I am hoping to kick it off with a local "moms at loose ends for approximately 27 more minutes" get together, especially for the moms around here whose kids are all in school for the extra days from snow. But that would involve planning and that is not my gift right now!

Wishing you a good week full of things that make you happy.