Passing Time

June 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

This guy (my husband) turned 39 yesterday.  What did he want to do for his birthday? We are going fishing tomorrow to celebrate.  The most playful person I know.  Child-like in (almost always) the best ways.  A parent I learn from.  An eternal optimist.  He can make anything, learn anything quickly, make anything fun.  A great partner to have in life.

And this kid (my son, Henry) turns 7 today!! He came out looking very much like a pterodactyl: long, skinny, and kind of pointy faced.  Which was adorable, of course!

Sometimes life goes so quickly.  I’m glad for the markers that call attention to all the changes.  Happy Birthday, boys.

Simple Pickled Onions

May 24, 2012 § 3 Comments

Pickled onions: sliced red onion, a cup or so of red wine vinegar, a few teaspoons of honey, smashed gloves of garlic, and two bay leaves (chili flakes, whole pepper corns, whole cloves, if you want them) that you let sit for several hours or a couple of weeks in your refrigerator.  I love them and they’re my current favorite thing to put in everything.  Eggs, salads, rice dishes, bean dishes, meat dishes, tacos, mixtures of salads and grains (like this yummy concoction I ate, sans sausage, for lunch and will probably eat for dinner), on toasts with cheese, eating them straight out of the jar, what have you.  I told you I loved them.

I know all the onion haters out there are crinkling their lips and noses, but seriously, these are not the onions you are thinking of when you say “I hate onions”.  They are briny, fruity, a little sweet.  Perfect for a dish that tastes just a little flat.  You know what I mean: like it could stand some tartness and color punctuating the mix.  Try these.

Keeping pickled onions on hand was one of the many great things I picked up from An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler (yes, I’ve talked about this book so much, you may come back next time to find that this blog’s new title is “I love Tamar Adler”. Just kidding).  What I really enjoy about her is the sanity that she brings to the table when talking about cooking (see this TED talk she did).  She tells you to use what you have, what’s readily available, what you can afford, and to use it all to the fullest.  Beans can become transcendent, bread is not something to avoid but something with a million possibilities, eggs are a wonder, and pickled onions a powerful force in the life of a meal.  I can’t recommend her book, her articles, or videos enough if you are at all intimidated in the kitchen or feel like you can’t afford to eat well (something I have definitely felt before).

Moving on to unrelated, but fun things:

::This lemon cream is another delicious egg user (we are calling it “lemon pudding” and “filling”, sandwiched between two butter cookies, but I feel a lemon tart coming on).

::Just remembered how much I like Cowboy Junkies (a blast from the past)

::about to start this book (thanks to Autumn and Michelle for recommending it)

::Still plugging away at the Daisy Chain Sampler and loving how it makes me slow down.

::Thinking of going here with the kids this weekend (I’ve never been!)

::AND I got a special, surprise delivery of liquid gold from my friend Kathy! Excitement!

The Winners!

May 22, 2012 § 2 Comments

The random number generator has spoken:::

Congratulations to Kayla, the winner of This Old Thing?s French Philosophie Orgainc-T!!

Around My French Table

 And the winner of Around My French table is: Joy B!

Thank you to everyone who read and commented and “liked”!  This was so much fun!


My First Giveaway!

May 18, 2012 § 37 Comments

Photo: Elizabeth Morrison

Hello reader! Guess what? I’m about to do something new, something I’m so excited about trying: No, it’s not another crazy, eight-day, 27 step recipe! Nope.  It’s a GIVEAWAY! Yes, you heard that right. A giveaway. I’ve even partnered with a friend to give away not one, but two great prizes. I can’t wait!

Before I tell you what you can win, let me tell you about my friend Autumn and This Old Thing?:  When I think about Autumn, all I can think of is the term “joie de vivre”. I don’t even say things like that. Ever.  But, truly, she embodies the joy of living.  She’s adorable, always with a smile, smart as a whip, well read, well-traveled, interested in everything, wife to one,  and mother of three.  Go, ahead.  Take a look at this page from her site and see if you can resist her charm.  Her business, This Old Thing?  (isn’t that a great name?) is an online boutique of vintage, eclectic, and stylish provisions for the home.  Recently, she’s added a new department to her store called French Philosophie that stocks wonderful, “everyday life, French imports”.  Seriously, have a look.

So, what are we giving away?  This Old Thing? is giving away a lovely J’aime ma ville” organic t-shirt to one person (who we will assume loves their town) who visits TOT’s Facebook page and give it a “like”.  Then come back here and leave a comment here to be eligible to win.

Moving on to number two:  I’m going to give one person a copy of one of my favorite cookbooks, the book that actually got me started on this little blog, Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan.  It’s a massive book, full of great recipes (like the Nutella Chocolate GanacheTart pictured at the top), tips, and insights into french cooking and eating.  You (you lucky person, you) will love having your own copy.  Just leave me a comment right here (you don’t have to go to Facebook for this one) and you will be eligible to win.  Don’t be shy.  You know it would be fun to win!

Around My French Table

I’m going to leave the comments open until Monday night at midnight and will announce the winners on Tuesday.  So, have a great weekend and the best of luck to everyone!


The Egg Challenge

May 17, 2012 § 6 Comments

Eggs!  Eggs. Eight or Nine eggs each day. It’s the two-sided coin of owning 11 chickens. On one side,  I’m thrilled to have fresh eggs always available.  On the other, the stream of eggs is so steady at this time of the year, you can be swimming in them in no time.  My kids do all of the fetching.  A “chore” that isn’t much like one at all for them.  They even know the sounds that come from the coop that tell them there will soon be another egg to collect.  They watch, they wait.  They sometimes fight over who “just got to check!!”  But, they keep bringing them in, and it’s my job (that I love) as the cook to find things to make out of them.
After scrambled, fried, baked, en cocotte, hard-boiled, and  poached (although I haven’t completely mastered that one yet) I decided to use them in a less obviously eggy way.  Yes, my children’s “eggs? again?” looks factored greatly into this decision.  Truthfully, even though I’m an egg lover, I’ve begun to feel that way too, so it was time to find something new.  I decided to try Thomas Keller’s 7 yolk pasta.  I tried it mostly because it uses 7 eggs, but also because, having Italian roots,  I felt like I needed to experience making pasta by hand at least once.  And, could Thomas Keller, seemingly the most fastidious person alive, put out a recipe that didn’t work? Probably not.
As it’s written in the French Laundry Cookbook, you make this dough entirely by hand, starting with an egg filled flour volcano on your kitchen counter.   It’s pretty exciting! You swirl and swirl the egg mixture, picking up flour gradually as you swirl, and then once it all comes together, you knead it for what seems like a lifetime, but really is about 20 minutes.  I broke a sweat, my shoulders were burning, but I had a golden ball of silken dough! I wanted to set it on a shelf and sit back and admire the result of all that chicken/human labor.  And I did for about 30 minutes (the time you let it rest after kneading), but then I came to my senses and remembered I was on the practical mission of dinner and got back to work.
I didn’t have a pasta machine, but I had read accounts of grandmothers using broom handles to roll out the dough in order to get it as thin as it needs to be, so I just went with that.  There are tons of You Tube how-to’s on rolling out and cutting pasta by hand (this is how I did the cutting).  The people in the videos usually have long rollers (see a gorgeous example of one here),  but know that you can use a wooden broom handle and it all comes out very well with delicious bowls of pasta and not an “eggs, again?” look to be found.
::Find the entire recipe here
::This pasta would be great to use in this,  or, if you are still craving more eggs,  this.
::Use the leftover egg whites for this.  No one will know.


May 12, 2012 § 3 Comments

First, one of my favorite sights of the week.  Seeing my kids playing together happily is one of my favorite things.  Being able to let them run “wild” outside in the pre-dinner light isn’t bad either.

Then, I had to share this in the name of keeping things real:

What you’re looking at is one of my kid’s Mother’s Day papers she completed at school for me.  She says some funny stuff in there like “The smartest thing my mother has ever told me is that I’m smart!”, but I did feel convicted over my oft seen impatience when I read “What’s one thing you think your mom should do less of?” and she said, “yelling at me, my brother, and sisters.”  OUCH!!!! And, how about “What’s one thing you think your mom should do more of?” answered “Spending time with us”?? Ouch, again! Nothing like kids to tell you how they feel! Now, what to do with this information?? We’ve already had a pretty good conversation about how she feels, but I’d like more, and will pursue those.

I think it’s so interesting (and frightening) that I’m going to affect  my kids differently b/c they are all, in fact, different! To one child, I may be able to express frustration  with a raised voice without doing damage, but doing that with another could shut them down.  I feel a responsibility to parent  my four differently, as individuals, but I can only do what I can do.  And sometimes, I just walk around feeling like a huge failure (like right after reading this sheet).  This parenting thing is no joke.  I’m hoping that admitting my failures goes a long way.  And then, since I’m usually yelling and being “angrey” when my children are acting less like friends and more like my enemies (trashing their straightened-by-me drawers,  demanding service with no gratitude, etc), I want to be working on loving the “enemies” in my own house.  To fight be kind when I least want to would be good for everyone I live with.

Some comfort from that sheet: she said I was good a making dinner and she is sure that before I had kids, I was spending most of my time wanting to have kids.  So, she at least knows she’s wanted!  But, seriously, I never could have known how much I would enjoy my children. They are the gifts I didn’t know I wanted, but needed the most.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mother’s out there.  In honor:

::this story

::requested this from the library

::a picture into the worry of a soon-to-be mother’s mind

::a potential mother’s day treat?

Some Things That Mean Everything

May 7, 2012 § 2 Comments

It’s Monday, May 7, and my sister turns 40 today!  We had a great surprise party for her last night with lots of friends and family.  I’d been working on the party for most of the last two weeks, so being totally wiped out this morning, I unloaded the dishwasher, picked up only a few of the hundreds of things that were out of place in the house, looked at piles of laundry, and decided it all could wait one more day.

Instead of getting things tidy, I sat down with my favorite five-year old for a couple of hours, she with her practice (copying a drawing of a country church) and me with mine (the Daisy Chain Sampler).   We talked and listened to music and it couldn’t have been nicer.

I was feeling pretty contemplative after the weekend, looking at old photos from my sister’s life (and mine) and being surrounded and loved by family and friends, so, matching the mood, Patty Griffin was heavy on our playlist:

And as far as I can tell

Most everything means nothing

Except some things

That mean everything

from “Railroad Wings” on Children Running Through