Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

uber comfort food

In Family, Food, friends, In My Kitchen on March 2, 2011 at 9:44 am

Not to name any names, but SOMEONE posted a pic on Facebook a few weeks ago of a the lunch he had just made up for himself — a spaghetti and meatball grilled cheese sandwich. My kids saw the picture, and having been reminded of the idea that SOMEONE ELSE (again, not naming any names) had planted in their heads months before of the same sandwich, they wanted that sandwich. And look mom, we just happen to have leftover spaghetti and meatballs in the fridge.

How convenient.

I know, I know, pasta on bread. Carbs on carbs. Crazy isn’t it? Crazy good, I say.

This is not the kind of meal one should have every day, or every week, or even every month. But oh my, what a cozy comfort on a plate.


Spaghetti and Meatball Grilled Cheese Sandwich

2 slices sandwich bread (no high fiber, 800-grain stuff here, we’re talking white bread, ’nuff said)

mayonnaise (and not Miracle Whip — what the hell is that, anyway?)

leftover spaghetti and meatballs, roughly chopped, and warmed up

one slice cheese (provolone, mozzarella, havarti all work well)


Heat a skillet over medium heat. Spread mayonnaise on one slice of bread, place bread mayo-side down in the skillet. Carefully spoon spaghetti mixture onto the bread in the skillet. Place cheese slice on top of spaghetti. Spread mayonnaise on other slice of bread. Carefully place bread on top of cheese, mayo-side up. Once bottom slice has browned nicely (peek by lifting an edge with your spatula), flip the sandwich and cook until the other side is golden brown and the cheese has melted. Serve with a healthy dose of veggies to assuage any feelings of remorse.


*Note: Some of the spaghetti will fall into the skillet, perhaps with a bit of melty cheese attached. That’s okay. That’s a cook’s treat. And if you don’t know what that means, you need to cook more.


a week

In Family, On My Mind on February 11, 2011 at 10:27 am

It’s been a week. A week of children waking me up in the middle of the night, a week of cutting back calorie-consumption to the point that I’ve got a crazed look in my eye I’m so hungry, a week of frustration over conflicting social schedules, a week of uninspired cooking, a week of getting my butt kicked at the gym, a week of swallowing my pride as I am THE LAST runner in my “boot camp” group, a week of getting to Michael’s for their custom-framing sale only to discover I brought the wrong poster.

But it’s also been a week of fun planning: for Jean-Paul’s first birthday, for summer beach vacation, for vegetable gardens, for crazy muddy obstacle course races, for Valentine’s dinner and crafts with the kids, for camping trips.

Maybe it was that hint of spring in the air when the mercury teased its way upward, and the snow was melting, and the wind was roaring like a March lion. Maybe it’s just a mixed bag like any other week.

one more

In Family, On My Mind on January 31, 2011 at 8:49 am

Sleep has not been the greatest lately in these here parts. We’ve got a 5yo who’s afraid to sleep by himself since the 8yo terrorized him with tales of a drain-dwelling, child-eating troll who comes into houses at night, and a 10mo who has hit the developmental stage where he bawls and screams when he notices his mommy is not in his crib.

I stumble bleary-eyed through the days.

It is also nearly impossible to keep a clean and tidy house, with the toddler-in-an-infant’s body dead set on emptying an sort of container — toy box, the bench with our shoes, the kitchen cabinets, the laundry basket. Toys and shoes and pots and pans and socks and underwear are strewn about like so much flotsam and jetsam.

I may lose my mind.

Many of our friends have two kids and want no more, and thought we were completely insane to put ourselves through the nursing-diapering-baby-proofing wringer again. There are days when I long for the flexibility I had with two kids who were pretty self-sufficient. And eventually we will have the expense of an entire decade with at least one child in college.


I am utterly in love with this bouncing (literally, bouncing for the pure joy of it) baby boy who prefers the contents of the dishwasher to his own toys. I may not be able to flit about on my own schedule, but I get to blow raspberries on the world’s cutest belly, and watch the gleeful face as he watches his own hand waving “hi”. I get to snuggle him and kiss him when he falls down and goes boom. I get to watch him laugh hysterically as his brother tickles him.

Just one more.

So worth it.

sprouts reprise

In Family, Food, In My Kitchen, On My Mind on January 26, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Leftover sprouts in a pan with a slice of bacon from breakfast, a bit of dijon mustard (thanks Steph!), and a splash of half-n-half. Even better that there was roast pork loin and curried butternut squash and lentils to go with. Yum.

As a side note, Jean-Paul (now 10 months) still eats everything, including kale at lunch today and Brussels sprouts at dinner. Wonder how long that will last.

And for another sprout shot:

a brownie rant

In Family, Food, friends, In My Kitchen, On My Mind on January 11, 2011 at 9:01 pm

As I sit in my living room, exhausted from dealing with boatloads of children after a 12:40pm early dismissal in anticipation of snow that is just now beginning to fall at 8:30pm, I have a burning question.

Who the hell are these people who wait for a pan of brownies to be completely cool before slicing into them so they can get nice tidy lines?

I mean really. They are brownies, people.


They’re the kind of dessert that some people (not me, of course, never me) might put cannabinoid substances into. They’re not meant to be fussy. They are meant to be eaten straight out of the pan when they are just cool enough so you don’t scorch the roof of your mouth. They do not need a plate. They do not even need a napkin. Sleek straight lines? Save ’em for foo foo French pastries.

You know, you people with your straight edge brownies, whoever you are, I’m just not so sure I trust you. Are you just uptight, or are trying to hide something?

You’re probably skinny too.

Which means I really don’t trust you.

I’ll take my chocolatey gooey goodness with messy crumbly edges. You straight edge people, you just move along. Nothing to see here but a nearly empty pan of brownies.


The Santa Claus Conspiracy

In Family, friends, On My Mind on November 23, 2010 at 10:19 pm

I’m kind of a Grinch when it comes to all this Santa Claus business. I have never brought my children to take pictures on Santa’s lap because I think it is mostly cruel — all those toddlers crying on the laps of men in red faux-velvet. I mean, I’m surprised that any of my friends would even bother asking me if I want to bring my kids to a breakfast with Santa, which is exactly what happened today.

Barf. Kill me now. (Sorry Ana, I love you anyway.)

Here’s the thing. I HATE lying to kids. I hated when I was lied to as a kid, and I guess that stuck. Whenever a kid asks me a question, I want to give an honest answer. This is proving less and less comfortable a position as my daughter draws ever closer to puberty and has already asked quite pointed questions about how her baby brother got in my belly, but still.

Santa Claus? Really? It’s not even one little lie. Cuz once you get started, you just get more and more entrenched in falsehoods. Kids are curious. They want to know things like: Does Santa take a vacation? How did Santa get so fat? Does Santa bring gifts to Jewish kids? But we don’t have a fireplace. How is Santa going to get in the house?

This last question is the one I’m waiting to come up. Last year, we lived in a house with a fireplace. The house we moved into this year? Nope. No fireplace. Not even a decorative one with resin logs and little blue propane flames. I suppose we could tell them he’ll get in through the furnace chimney, but I don’t really want to hang stockings on the oil tank in our basement.

When I was little I had a book about Silver Spurs, the tiniest elf, who could fit into key holes of homes with no chimneys. It even came with a little 45 (that’s a disc-shaped musical recording that was played on something called a turntable for any of  you out there who don’t recognize such an anachronistic term) with Silver Spurs’ theme song.

Lies. All lies. No wonder my life is so wretched.

Now we’ve got The Polar Express and the cult logic of “you only hear the bell ringing if you really believe in Santa Claus”. Right.

I try to tell my kids that Santa Claus is about magic. That Santa Claus is about being generous. That Santa Claus is a legend to remind us that even in the bleakest darkest night there is still hope to be found. And that part is the truth. That is a lesson I want my kids to learn. So if I have to pretend that there’s some guy in the Arctic circle making toys to be delivered in a manic rush on Christmas Eve to teach that lesson, I guess I’m okay with that.


let’s see if this will work

In Family, Food, friends, In My Kitchen, In Other Words, On My Mind, Writing on November 17, 2010 at 9:52 am

I love how my friends can ask me these simple little questions and suddenly I can think more clearly.

“Well, what do you want?” says friend.

“Hunh,” says I.

I write a list, because I’m a list maker. What do I want? What do I want to do? What do I actually want to accomplish in any given week? See, I hadn’t actually given that question much thought in the last year or so. Here’s the list.

-1-2 blog entries

-3 hours writing fiction/poetry

-8-12 hours working (for money!)

-workout 3-4 times

Not a huge list, but I have not been protecting my time to do these things I want to do. It seems doable, even with all the stuff I don’t really want to do but must do (mountains and mountains and mountains of laundry come to mind), and all the stuff I want to do and must do (cooking, loving on the babies). Ok, let’s give this a go.

a walk with my Dax

In Family, On My Mind on November 15, 2010 at 1:11 pm

I walked in the woods the other day with my boy. I’d planned to go alone, but he invited himself along. He showed me the spot where he and my girl were scared by a snake. He scraped lichens off a fallen tree trunk with the sole of his shoe. He pulled me through briars and moved branches aside for me. He climbed up a hill of leaves dumped there by the neighbors, then rolled back down. We left the woods and walked to the beach. It was low tide and we walked through the marsh grasses where the crabs live, he told me. On the way home I saw a dead snake on the road, all black and white stripes. “That’s like the one that scared us,” he said. “But that one’s smaller.” The sun was setting and its rays were dim and thin, and the lively wind made orange and yellow leaves fall around us like fat colorful snow. I was happy that I didn’t take that walk by myself. My boy helped me see so much more than I would have alone.

only for a short time

In Family, On My Mind on October 12, 2010 at 9:39 am

My five-year-old walked up to a playground.

I saw him, the older version of him, who is not so far away

who is too old for the playground

too cool

too tough.

I could say that I want him to stop growing up,

but that’s not quite it.

I want to hold that moment, when I see him

when I see his sister

when I see his brother.

For they are only mine for a short time.

girlie food for one or more

In Family, Food, friends, In My Kitchen, On My Mind on October 10, 2010 at 9:11 am

Last weekend my friend made a lovely potato florentine soup with cheddar thyme biscotti. Both of our hubbies were out of town, and we were having a moms-and-kids weekend. We decided we deserved some girlie food*. Friday night there was more girlie food and girlfriends, smoked salmon with chive cream cheese on crackers, and apple cinnamon cheddar quiche.

Ever since the temperatures have dropped and I picked up an early crop butternut squash, I’ve been wanting to make another dish on the girlie side. It’s great for a side for roasted pork or poultry, but I like it as an entree, preferably served on top of quinoa or brown rice and next to sauteed greens. I made it last night while I had the oven going for cornbread. I gave everyone a taste (and told the big kids they couldn’t watch a movie unless they tried it), but the rest will be mine all mine for my solo girlie lunch later in the week.

*If hard-pressed to define, I’d say girlie food is less meat-centric and more on the snacky-appetizery side of what our hubbies prefer to eat, even though they’d certainly agree the girlie victuals were delish.


Lentils with Butternut Squash and Walnuts

(from Gourmet January 1999 via epicurious.com)

1 small butternut squash (about 1 pound)
1 large shallot
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 cup walnuts
1/3 cup lentils
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro sprigs
fresh lime juice to taste (optional)
Preheat oven to 425°F.Halve, peel, and seed squash and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Finely chop shallot and in a shallow baking pan toss with squash, oil, curry powder, and salt and pepper to taste until combined well. Bake squash mixture in middle of oven until almost tender, about 15 minutes.Chop walnuts and sprinkle over squash. Bake squash mixture 10 minutes more, or until walnuts are lightly toasted and squash is tender.While squash is baking, in a saucepan of boiling water cook lentils until just tender but not falling apart, about 20 minutes. Drain lentils in a sieve and transfer to a bowl.To lentils add squash mixture, cilantro, lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste and toss until combined well.
Note: I think I’ve followed this recipe faithfully only once. I’ve subbed sweet potato for the squash, pecans for the walnuts, and chives for the cilantro. I’m sure another bean instead of the lentils would be good too.