Sunday, November 15, 2009

And a food blog too

because food always makes me feel better - even just reading, writing or talking about it.

I made my/our favorite salad, Frisee with Lardons (aka Salade Lyonnaise), for dinner. But my version is not quite the classic preparation. For one thing, I don't use frisee - I just use mixed spring greens. And because it is a dinner, I feel the need to bulk up the greens with another vegetable. I use a variety of different ones, depending on the season and what I have in the fridge.

Tonight it was asparagus (I know, not seasonal, but on sale and looking good). I cooked the bacon, then poured off some of the grease - but not all - and seared the asparagus in it. One thing this salad has taught me is that everything is even more delicious when cooked in a bit of bacon grease. Then I poached the eggs. While they were cooking I got the plates ready, mixed up a quick vinaigrette and drizzled it over the greens, bacon and asparagus. The hot poached egg went over the top of it all.  (Usually we have toast with it instead of the traditional croutons, but I forgot even that tonight - and didn't have any good bread anyway. No one minded). Yum!

I love this dinner. It's fast, easy, simple and delicious. It also feels healthy and good for you, even though it includes bacon. And, since I initially ate it (and made it the first time) in Paris, I feel exotic while I'm preparing and eating it. Always a good thing.

Oh, and not to neglect the sweets - I made a coffee cake this morning that was delicious despite some wild substitutions. I started a cranberry coffee cake, which had sounded good but I had no milk. What to do? The only substitutes in the cupboard were coconut milk or sweetened, condensed milk. I'd already added the sugar to the recipe so that meant the sweetened milk was out, but I was very unsure if coconut milk would act the same. With a mental shrug (nothing ventured, nothing gained) I went ahead with it. Then I was too lazy to dig through my cupboard and find a flat bottom to my springform pan, so just used the bundt-type bottom that was already attached. And for some, inspired, reason decided to put the streusel topping on the bottom with the batter on top. And it worked splendidly! I tend to shy away from coffee cake because it's too dry and the top just crumbles off, but this was moist, with a tangy kick from the cranberries and the streusel was almost crunchy and caramelized on the top. Thank goodness we had the Buttner clan to bring it to or I would have eaten the whole thing.

A parent trap

I'm feeling like a bad mother - by which I mean, a mother who's not teaching her children well - or modeling the wrong behaviors or doing something wrong, because boy, oh boy, has Natty been a piece of work lately.

There's been funny "piece of work" things, of course.

For instance, Sam has developed a fascination with toilets (if you recall, we have 6). When I set him down in a room that has a bathroom within crawling distance, his chubby little legs propel him there pronto. I think it started because he loves baths so much and would crawl into the bathroom I bathe them in, pull himself up on the tub, gaze longingly at the emptiness and bang on it. Then he noticed the toilet and it has been downhill from there. He even pinched his fingers in the lid hinges once and howled with pain but that hasn't stopped him. So the other day I was saying "No!" and snipping his fingers while prying him off of it, and of course he's screaming about being thwarted (and about being snipped, but I'm quite sure it was more about being removed from the toilet) and Natty self-righteously told me I was not being a good mommy to make Sam cry and I should go back to Mommy classes to learn how to treat him. Nice.

The darker side is when I tell her to clean up her room and she says she hates me. Oh. My. Heavens. She's 4 years old. What is it going to be like in 10 years?!? Where does this emotion come from? I do all the things parents need to do when it happens - don't let her get away with saying such nasty things, talk about anger and how to deal with it, etc. But, really, it just sucks to have her say that.

On the brighter side, she's an author and an illustrator. She draws pictures on paper, has us staple them in the correct order and dictates a story to us. They all revolve around princesses. Pretty funny.

Sam is the bees knees. He's the cutest little guy. He loves to eat, sleep, laugh, play games and, as we mentioned, explore - especially the toilet. I remember how Natalie just got cuter and cuter around this age and he's on that trajectory.

I know being a mom isn't all roses, but I wish I was wiser, tougher and more able to cope with my darling daughter.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Autumnal bliss

I worked part of last night and into the day with a lovely laboring couple. It was nice to do a lot of the procedure-type nursing duties that I seem to miss out on working per diem. Start an IV, do nursing care during an epidural placement, etc. I feel rusty if I haven't done those activities in awhile and I was due. Little did the patient know how nervous I was starting the IV! But it all went without a hitch. And I got a lovely note from a past patient which was a great way to start my day.

I made it home in time to catch Murray and the kids heading out to church. It was a beautiful day - blue bird and warm! I wanted to go too, so I raced inside to change and followed behind.

We have a nice walk to church - the only sidewalk in Pomfret begins outside our yard. It doesn't go all the way to our church, but it starts me out with the right feeling and by the time I'm to the "no sidewalk, cars rushing past" point, it's too late to turn back. I was late to church, but that's not so unusual.

The really fun part was when Sam saw me. Remember, I had been working so hadn't been there to cuddle him when he woke up (Murray is great, but he doesn't have warm milk readily available). He was sitting in Marmee's lap down the pew and when I arrived he caught my eye and did this whole body grin; wriggling, dancing, yowling and chirping, with happy eyes and wide mouth smile. There is nothing like a nine-month old's joy and when it's aimed at me it's the pinnacle of mom-dom.

He's the age when stranger anxiety is quite common but, while he's very attached to me, he isn't alarmed by others. Which is nice - Natty was like that too and went happily off to nursery/babysitters (for the most part - nothing's 100%! The times she wailed were so tough, I couldn't handle it if she had a hard time constantly) As long as Murray and I are still their favorites, we're happy.

In the afternoon Murray and I switched roles and he went in to the hospital to round on patients and I stayed with the kids. After Sam's nap, I brought both kids out to the front porch and started raking the front yard. Our yard has been looking shaggy and unkempt with all the fallen leaves so it was past due. Living, as we do, on a busy road, I often think "How public, like a frog." Unfortunately for the "admiring bog" I am not a tidy yard person, although (as with so many "civilized" aspects to my New England life) I'm trying. I grew up in a house that was under construction - that's what I blame my poor decorating skills on. I don't have a concept of what a finished/decorated house or yard is like. But, truly, Dad and Connie had inspired me by all their yard work - it looks so good! So I raked, then Murray got home and convinced me to clean the rain gutters, which meant I threw decomposing leaves down on the ground I'd just raked. So I raked again (quickly, but still, I hate doing a job backwards and having to re-do it). A good afternoon's work.

Next year I'll probably be persuaded to get a leaf blower or hire it out, but this year it was fun to do it by hand. And it's not done yet. I hope the weather stays nice - it's a joy to work outside when the day is as beautiful as today was.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Happy Halloween

Halloween was a hoot! Guess what Natalie was?
No huge surprise there, aye?

She was also a cowgirl for a birthday party the week before:

Sam was a cowboy, but I don't have any pictures - classic second child syndrome. (I'll be getting some from Grandma Mimi and will post them then). Murray took them trick or treating in Putnam Friday night, then more trick or treating on the actual night of Halloween. We also got quite a few little trick or treaters here at the house which was fun. All the Pomfret School faculty kids that wait at our bus stop came by.

My step-sister and her husband came for the weekend, to join my dad and stepmom who have been here a little over a week. We had a fun Halloween dinner with friends and family - and I found out that I really can't comfortably seat more than 8 (but we did anyway). I indulged in some kitchen kitsch Halloween food and figured out how to make an Apple-tini (Quite delicious in spite of (or because of?) the lurid green color).

We've had a great visit with Dad and Connie. Here's one picture of Sam and Grandpa, watching the work on the barn.
And just some fun, crazy, round the house kind of shots.