Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
- Get a container, potting soil (or just plain dirt), plastic wrap, and wheat berries (which are at our local health food store).
- Fill the container with potting soil and completely cover with wheat berries.
- Cover with plastic wrap and keep warm.
- Check moisture each morning; water if necessary.
- Remove plastic wrap when grass begins to grow and place in sunny spot.
- Trim grass with scissors if necessary.
- Decorate container for Easter.
For children in past eras, participating in the culture of childhood was a socializing process. They learned to settle their own quarrels, to make and break their own rules, and to respect the rights of others. They learned that friends could be mean as well as kind, and that life was not always fair.
Now that most children no longer participate in this free-form experience — play dates arranged by parents are no substitute — their peer socialization has suffered. One tangible result of this lack of socialization is the increase in bullying, teasing and discrimination that we see in all too many of our schools.
And so, we keep an eye on when the older kids are in their yard, an ear to their laughs and squeals, now that it's warm enough to play outside for extended periods, and we head down the street to play. Once I get them to the group, I sit on the steps and try to disappear, not quite ready to join the other parents inside--the kids aren't the only ones getting used to this.
Just think of this idyllic (and idealized) childhood as the human version of "Franklin" or "Little Bear": the friends have great adventures together, learning about themselves, each other, and the world around them; no parents appear unless there is a crisis, which is then always easily fixed; and they don't watch television! Because you can't have a childhood through tv. And with schools dropping recess for academics and kids spending 7 hours or whatever a day by themselves in front of various electronic media, having even some traditional childhood is more important than ever.
(For the parents, too!)
Monday, March 29, 2010
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010
(UUs) across the continent are expanding ’s 40th anniversary to last 40days, from . How? By committing to small and large daily actions over the 40 days, for the sake of the Earth and all who live here. Some UUs are even taking small lifestyle changes for 40-day “test drives,” knowing that our personal choices affect many aspects of global environmental justice.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Okay, I think I might have gone round the bend: I've become obsessed with vegetables. I used to laugh at my friend "Church Miss L" when she said the same thing, but I can now see how it happens. I'm getting ready for spring produce appearing in the grocery stores and even more importantly to CSA season. And I'm literally dreaming of vegetables. Sure, I'm a vegetarian and one would think that implied veggie-love, but, no, you can definitely exist as a vegetarian on pastas and grains and beans and dairy. I did that the first year. But now, entering my third year as a vegetarian, and having been introduced to good produce through the farm and to ethical eating through Pollan and Kingsolver et al, I can't get enough vegetables (and fruits, I should say). Which will probably strike my mom as funny, being that I look back on what I wouldn't eat as a child and the list is legion, most of it the colors of the rainbow (I did like broccoli, as long as it had some cheese, and some greens and green beans but only very cooked, and of course corn and peas--and I liked limas!!--but never lettuce or tomatoes or carrots or peppers or mushrooms or zucchini or eggplant, much less all the vegetables like leeks and kohlrabi, which I've only recently discovered). And now I can't get enough. I'm even planning my vegetable-season strategy, which includes planning my new, bigger garden in back (after we pull out a huge invasive burning bush) as well as sorting interesting recipes by main vegetable ingredient in advance--so soon, you'll see an asparagus post, dandelion greens, garlic scapes, whatever (soon is relative). And because it's me, it goes without saying that I'm obsessively hording vegetable recipes.
Which is why I thought of this tonight. Because I was at a craft club meeting at church--more on that tomorrow because it is really late (and then only if both kids go to school which seems iffy right now)--and the people working on the service auction were there. And there was this gift box of books called The Vegetable Box, which was organized by different vegetables and contained different little recipes books for each vegetable. Heaven help me (and thank goodness I'm a UU), I coveted my neighbor's recipes. So I offered the auction organizers a check there and then and I got it for much less than it sells online right now. It's a cute little set and the recipes seem eclectic, as the writer has Scottish, French, Spanish, and Italian influences. And maybe the quirky box will get the kids more interested in cooking with vegetables too.
Come on, vegetables!
Monday, March 22, 2010
- deviled eggs
- dip with veggies or chips or both (hummus? salsa?) or a baked brie?
- homemade rolls
- macaroni and cheese (probably from a box, as the kids reject my fancy stuff)
- green salad or green bean casserole or both
- asparagus? brussel sprouts? some other vegetable?
- noodle kugel or quiche or frittatta--something with eggs
- orange monkey bread or other orange-ish dessert (well, that's what I'd want; doubt it will be anything other than strawberry jello and brownies, though not together)
Sunday, March 21, 2010
- Saturday: After our big school picture, we all headed to a book sale, where the kids got to choose 5 books each (luckily, Mama and I had no such limit!). Sis got several Clifford the Big Red Dog books (he's one of her favorites, in books and in tv); Bud got a variety of non-fiction, on knights, pirates, and space. Then we went to look for a new mattress for our bed, believing that to be no small contributing factor to recent aches and pains. The kids were great, though we did notice Sis sinking--after testing at all the beds in the beginning, she eventually just curled up on one and sniffed Shirt. Yep, sick. Tylenol and lunch revived her a bit but then we headed home for the rest of the day.
- Sunday: Sis still has a fever and so we shortened our plans for today, keeping only the main one: a puppet show based on Margaret Wise Brown's Runaway Bunny and Goodnight Moon (see some video here). It was amazing! The first section was done with rod and table-top puppets of the bunnies, recreating almost exactly the mood and look of the book. I think we all liked the bunny-as-bird section just because watching the bunny flap his wings and fly was amazing! The second section was done in black light, with the puppeteers, whom I found fascinating to watch, even donning face masks. The room was the Great Green Room, but come to life--with a huge cow jumping over the moon, the bear escaping from the frame to play with the bunny, and other imaginary happenings. And the "quiet old lady who was whispering hush" was not as odd as in the book--she even played with the red balloon! By this point, Bud kept asking if we could make the entire scene and all the puppets when we got home! (Luckily, it was a "no-shushing" show!) Though, during the question and answer period--during which he wanted to ask to see the flying bunny again and was disappointed not to be called on--they mentioned that each puppet takes a month to make out, with 7 people helping! Sis was entranced but probably not feeling well enough to enjoy herself totally, though she clutched Amy the Bunny the whole time (and Bud had Meg, who is now a boy bunny). Afterwards, we came straight home.
- Monday: they won't be going to school so I won't be going for coffee. We'll probably be going to the pediatrician instead to check on strep or ear infection.
- Stay tuned for the rest of the week . . . .
Saturday, March 20, 2010
- Thursday: Ma came for a visit during her own spring break--she and the kids had fun with fairy houses and then we all went to a Thai lunch. Mama registered the kids for kindergarten (yes, it's true; I didn't help). I went to my PT eval and can bend 17.5 cm to my right but only 10 cm to my left. That night, Mama and I went out to dinner with friends.
- Friday: a usual school day plus a trip to the Whole Foods for yummy things. Then, I had a Mom's Night Out with friends--recipes for Chocolate Monkey Bread and whatever Mama Teacher calls those yummy veggie triangles soon!
- Saturday: full school pic in just a few minutes, then family errands.
- Sunday: morning consultation with tree guy about some clean up then another family outing
- Monday: coffee with a church friend and that night a school meeting about kindergarten
- Tuesday: a church meeting
- Wednesday: restaurant outing with friends
I used red/orange pepper and broccoli - in the past i have used all different colors of peppers and broccoli
You need to bake the triangles just until lightly brown - let triangles cool slightly then spread sour cream on top - again depends on my crowd as to how much i use - but it really takes so little *** i have also made them using instead of sour cream.
Put veggies on top of sour cream then sprinkle with cheese ***i liked your idea of Mont. jack cheese - might be good
Bake until cheese melts
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
- To clean a vase or other narrow-necked container: forget those fancy brushes! Just add some uncooked rice, water, and soap and then swirl around.
- To remove smells in the fridge, put a bag of activated charcoal, which can be purchased wherever fish tank supplies are sold (i.e. Petco), in there. Stays fresh for a long time.
- To pick up lots of bits of paper off the floor without a special vacuum or dust machine, roll a piece of tape, sticky side out, around your hand. Kids love it!
- To keep cooking spray from getting everywhere when you spray a pan or tray, open up the (presumably empty or dirty) dishwasher and spray over the door. It'll be cleaned when you wash it next.
- To clean the dishwasher of crud (which can form when you aren't using petroleum-based toxic cleaners), put 2-3 packets of lemon Kool-Aid (the unsweetened small packets) in the soap dispenser and run the empty dishwasher on a normal cycle.
Monday, March 15, 2010
- Insomniac cooking (and another article on sleep, about babies)
- The next foodtv star?
- RIP Father Murphy
- Greens recipes from the NYTimes
- The inadequacy of the language of cancer, by Dana Jennings
- The last stigmatized group, or how society hates fat people
- A very personal, peaceful ending (as well as another of her articles, on hospice)
- Do you need a coach at recess?
- Honest expression, or Observation/Feeling/Need/Request (OFNR), is the core of NVC as I understand it. Practicing these honest expressions is at the heart of many of the workshops I've attended (this was my 5th). But this time, we did the NVC dance--pieces of paper labeled with the steps and we moved between them bodily as we considered a communication issue we were having. Funny that such physical movement would change the way you conceive of and construct an honest expression, but it allowed me to more fully clarify what I was considering. Then, the workshop leader added a question at the front--"Intention to Connect?"--which urged us to consider, very basically, what our intentions were in even considering an honest expression. And there I sat wondering if I really even had an intention to connect, if I really wanted to improve things. When the answer was yes, I could more clearly proceed. Then, our small group leader removed the "O," realizing that we were all getting bogged down in pinpointing an observation that precipitated our need to connect. This also freed me up from cataloging things and allowed me to get to the heart of the matter without any burdens or baggage. Confused yet? Just go with it . . . .
- Then we went through several other exercises--considering a trigger (an interaction that, in this case, provokes difficult emotions), providing empathy for ourselves in response to the trigger, providing empathy for the other person (so that we consider the other side)--and mind you this is all imagined--that allowed us to consider ways to communicate and the feelings that might arise in advance (or, even if we never, ever had these conversations, to explore our needs and feelings).
- This all lead to a new concept for me, "honoring the beauty of the need." This is basically the idea that having needs, even those that are unmet, attests to something beautiful in the human condition. Let's say I have the need for community that is unmet, meaning I haven't managed to connect with a group of friends. Regardless, the fact that I desire to participate in a group for mutual friendship and support says something positive about me and I should celebrate that, even if I'm having trouble satisfying that need. Does that make sense?
- Anger as an ally: what makes you angry? (oooh, non-NVC alert: nothing makes us feel some way; we are triggered and choose are feelings and responses). Look carefully at what when you get angry and you will most likely see a need that is unmet (this is similar to jackal voice of blame and judgment pointing you to a need. This leads to "make friends with your jackal--jackals are just giraffes with a language problem!). This is particularly important because that curiosity about the unmet needs leads you away from the "blame game" of figuring out whose fault something is. I had thought I would spend the day parsing out small incidents with Mama that make me see red, but really, those are simple, because when I look at them, they all have one thing in common: I feel angry when I need support in my efforts of be a good mom and to keep the house in order. Which I've told her and she heard and accepted. But then we're strongly connected and communicate well. Challenge addressed.
- Okay, more rhetoric: "emotions put us into motions for getting needs met"
- And another, "meet one need, mourn the other." This is about regret, when you try to meet a need and are unsuccessful. Regret not only points you in a direction for meeting future needs (i.e. by alerting you to unsuccessful strategies but also to how much you need something) but also points you towards self-empathy when a need is not met.
- Have to vs. choose to. Rosenberg, who founded NVC, has said that "should" is the most violent word in the English language (I have said elsewhere that I think "still" and "yet" are. But it's the same idea.) Basically, this is another core tenet of NVC: that you are responsible and have agency--no one makes you feel or do anything. You choose. Sure some of the choices are quite obvious (i.e. aren't "real" choices, like pulling your child away from running into the street), others have difficult consequences (like not paying taxes). But by recognizing that everything is a choice, you realize what your needs are, your priorities. Like, let's say I moan about "having" to make dinner. I don't "have" to make dinner. Someone else could or I could buy it. But perhaps I am committed to making dinner, perhaps I "choose" to make dinner, even when I don't really want to, because I value my contribution to the family or my need for healthy foods or saving money. Then the burden of making dinner isn't foisted upon me but is my choice. So choose and enjoy your choice. Let go of regret, move from resentment to acceptance. Your energy will change.
- On "street giraffe" or how to take all this awkward-sounding, New-Age cult language and make it sound normal to people unfamiliar with or suspicious about NVC: words are just a strategy. Once you understand the ideas, you can use other lingo, like for "need" use "it's important," "meaningful," "value," "wish/hope for," "care about" or for feelings use "what's going on" or just "you are ____." For "would you be willing to tell me what you heard me say/how you feel about what I said" try "how does that sit with you?" or "what comes up for you?"
- Finally, for gratitude, which is how we end every session (after starting the session with introductions focused on "what's alive for you?"): "thank you" is like "I'm sorry" in NVC and is seen as not an effective communication strategy, in the sense that if you just say "thank you" (or "I'm sorry") in many instances, you aren't explaining how you feel. So instead, you work through OFNR again to express gratitude, really outlining how we were affected. Take my "thank you" email to our organizers, which basically said "I feel so happy about the workshop because it met my needs for community and learning." It's much more constructive, and even meaningful, than "thanks a lot."
- She puts salt in the soaking liquid, which breaks a cardinal rule not to salt beans until they are almost done. But she read about it in Cook's Illustrated and believes it not only doesn't affect the texture of the bean but gives them a lot more flavor. So, I'll be trying that next time.
- Also, she only makes a bit at a time, instead of a whole pound like me. I figure if you're going to make beans, do them all and freeze them. She thinks that messes up the texture (which I've never noticed). But it might solve my lack of freezer space problem if I do, say, a half pound of beans at a time, especially because I'm usually the only one eating them.
- I noticed that she uses a ton more olive oil (a Greek kalamata oil) when she sautes the onions/carrot/celery than I ever would, which she says makes the beans more creamy. Well, I believe her but I can't eat the calories of that much oil, even if it is good for me, but I will try using a bit more than I do. And she sautes it longer on a lower heat than I usually do.
- She cooks the beans in the soaking liquid, which I always had poured off. She says that when using heirloom beans that the soaking liquid doesn't get as funky as it might with less-fresh or bulk beans. Hmmmm. I'd also heard that pouring off the soaking liquid also reduces gas problems, but since I eat beans everyday, I don't have that problem much anymore. And it does give them more flavor.
- Another bean tip: only add the acids--tomatoes, lime, lemon--at the end.
- Also, watch to see if you need more water and never add cold water to cooking beans as it shocks them. Use warm or even boiling water.
- Of course, being a restaurateur and cook, she uses more salt than I would at the end. But it was tasty!
- It seemed to me, though it might not be true, that the beans cooked more quickly, maybe because of the olla, maybe because they were heirlooms.
- She said you can add epazote or 1-2 avocado leaves to the beans for a different Mexican flavor, or try bay leaves for a Greek taste or even sage. I asked about Chinese or Asian bean recipes and she enlightened me by saying that most beans are new world food so you won't find them in Asian cooking so much, beyond mung or maybe fava.
- She also recommends the Rancho Gordo cookbook Heirloom Beans, both for general information and recipes. I have it but only just got the heirloom beans and haven't tried any recipes beyond the basic. She also has Paula Wolfert's book on clay pot cooking (though there are only a few vegetarian recipes).
- She rounded out the meal with guacamole (with broiled tomatillos) and pico de gallo, from recipes from the Mexican Grocer, and altogether it was a scrumptious meal. Plus tortillas warmed on the griddle and tortilla chips made from triangles of tortilla baked until crisp in an oven with grapeseed oil and kosher salt drizzled on top.
Russet, peeled and cut into chunks
Coarse salt, for boiling water
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 head dark curly kale, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup whole milk, eyeball it
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, fresh or grated (I don’t
remember adding nutmeg)
1 teaspoon ground thyme
2 scallions, sliced
A handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Boil potatoes for 15 minutes in salted water. Drain
potatoes and return them to the hot pot and mash.
Heat stock or broth to a simmer. Chop kale tops,
discarding tough stems. Add kale to broth and cover.
Simmer 10 to 12 minutes.
In a large skillet over moderate heat melt butter and
add milk. Season with nutmeg and thyme and add
scallions to the pan. Remove kale from cooking liquid
to the milk and butter mixture using a slotted spoon.
Stir in 1/2 cup of cooking liquid. Add mashed potatoes
to milk and kale and stir until combined and creamy, 1
or 2 minutes. Stir in parsley and season with , to taste.
(I also made a well on the top and added butter, just
in case you needed more butter ;)
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Friday, March 12, 2010
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cans (16.3 oz each) refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, if desired
1/2 cup raisins, if desired
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 12-cup fluted tube pan. 2. In large plastic food-storage bag, mix sugar and cinnamon. Separate dough into 16 biscuits; cut each into quarters. Shake in bag to coat. Arrange in pan, adding walnuts and raisins among the biscuit pieces. 3. Mix brown sugar and butter; pour over biscuit pieces. 4. Bake 28 to 32 minutes or until golden brown and no longer doughy in center. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Turn upside down onto serving plate; pull apart to serve. Serve warm.
Tex-Mex Chocolate Sheet Cake
This is super-popular (both in my home state of Texas, where it is a staple, and now transplanted here in CT) and cuts very easily into squares once it's cooled. Can be made without the nuts, as those are often banned at bake sales. Freezes beautifully. This particular recipe comes from my mom.
1 stick margarine or butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2-1oz. squares unsweetened chocolate or 6 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk (to sour regular milk, place 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar in 1/2 cups measure, fill with milk)
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine margarine, oil, chocolate and water in a saucepan and heat until chocolate is melted. Combine flour, baking soda, sugar, milk, eggs, cinnamon and vanilla in a large bowl, then blend with first mixture. Pour batter into a greased 12 x 18 sheet cake pan and bake 20-25 minutes or until cake is done (top springs back when touched lightly). Leave cake in pan and frost with icing while cake is still warm.
1 stick margarine or butter
2-1 oz. squares unsweetened chocolate (or 6 tablespoons cocoa plus 2 tablespoons
of margarine or butter)
6 tablespoons milk
1 lb. powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup chopped pecans
Combine margarine, chocolate, and milk in a saucepan over medium-high heat until bubbles form around the edge. Remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar, a little at a time (this is important). Stir in vanilla and pecans. Beat to a spreading consistency. Spread warm icing on warm cake.