October 28, 2011

Weekly Menu - 10/31 - 11/4

(the view from my nook)

Hmm, what's on the menu!? My absolute favorite way to spend a weekend morning is to pour some French Pressed coffee into my favorite cream-colored Le Creuset mug that I bought in England, when hiking along the Cotswold Way with my Mom in 2009, and I purchased these two mugs for 9 pounds each, and I hauled them a hundred miles on foot (and then a few thousand through the air). Then I sit in my chair, with slippers and a blanket on, and NPR on the radio (maybe some Car Talk? Maybe some Wait Wait? Or how about Prairie Home Companion?!). I have next to me the most recent Bon Appetits, and Eating Wells (a new addition to the routine), and the Joy of Cooking, Barefoot Contessa and a smattering of other cookbooks I grab arbitrarily. And I plan the menu. I make the shopping list. I pour over recipes, and consider what ingredients we have on hand, what's in the garden, what's in season, what we haven't eaten in a while...and I take a luxurious amount of time planning it all out. Ahhhhh, to me this is heaven.

Let's see what I hope for this week.

Meatless Monday
  1. Breakfast - eggs
  2. Lunch - leftovers from Sunday
  3. Dinner - Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash (Barefoot Contessa); Celery, Apple and Fennel Slaw (Bon Appetit July 2010)
  4. Snacks - apples and P-nut Butter

***Update: The risotto is amazing; will make again! And I never got to the slaw; instead we had steak (on Meatless Monday)***

  1. Breakfast - cream of wheat
  2. Lunch - Tamales at Mexican restaurant in Waterbury, for Dia de los Muertos
  3. Dinner - tuna casserole
  4. Snacks - Halloween candy (eeek)

***Update: Didn't do tuna casserole; instead did a breaded, baked chicken dish from the Joy of Cooking (Chicken with Onions)***

  1. Breakfast - eggs
  2. Lunch - leftovers
  3. Dinner - Taco Tuesday on Wednesday, for Kate and Don
  4. Snacks - carrot sticks and hummus
  1. Breakfast - eggs
  2. Lunch - rice and beans
  3. Dinner - salmon, brussel sprouts and rice (Eating Well)
  4. Snacks - cheese and crackers

***Update: The brussel sprouts were amazing! They were ones I had frozen, and we just popped them in the over with olive oil, salt and pepper, and they were like veggie popcorn chicken - meaty, hearty, crunchy, delicious.***

  1. Breakfast - yogurt and apple
  2. Lunch - leftovers
  3. Dinner - probably pizza from Jimmz, so good and so local and so easy, because I have a Board Meeting
  4. Snacks - chips and salsa

For Edna & Mildred

I found this poem in the bathroom at work, in a 1994 issue of the Utne Reader. The theme of the magazine is Coffee, which is apropo for a Grounds for Health bathroom. But this poem has nothing to do with coffee. But instead names, and how hearty names from the yesteryear are fading out. Although, 17 years later, I wonder if the author, Hunt Hawkins would still feel the same way. A former co-worker just named her son Jasper, which narrowly beat out Wyatt...

What the poem did for me was bring up a name dilemma I've been having. My "husband" (still getting used to the term!) and I definitely want kids, and relatively soon. If it were up to Ry, he'd have babies yesterday. But we've already picked out our baby names! It took us about 4 minutes for both a solid boys name and a girls name. While this is great, and I love both the names, I'm conflicted because it was too easy. No pouring over name books. No reading the Social Security Name List. No lists at all. Just quick agreement and decision.

I fear we may be missing out of 9 months worth of fun! And debating, and research, and ranking, and creativity. Is this parental naivete? Where other actual parents would say "you're crazy! a) you'll have plenty to do during the 9 months and b) you should probably have 5 names lined up b/c he/she might just not look like a Zephyr or an Ebert..." Or something like that.

I also just heard of a superstition from Bravo TV and fashion's Rachel Zoe, who just had a baby, and they didn't want ANYTHING baby-related in their house before the baby was born just in case "it didn't work out". I imagine having the name picked out before I'm even pregnant is a big no-no. And I'm already mildly concerned that I can't have kids, for no reason other than hypochondria.

To make matters worse, I also can't but help to jinx the jinx by blabbing about the names we've chosen to friends and perfect strangers because I'm so excited! I just can't keep my mouth shut (although I will choose to on this blog until further notice).

So I think we're screwed, any way you look at it.

But, it's a nice poem, so enjoy (and our future daughter's name is not in here, but let me tell you, it, too, is a dying name...)

For Edna & Mildred
Mourning the dying American female names

In the Altha Diner on the Florida panhandle
a stocky white-haired woman
with a plastic nameplate "Mildred"
gently turns my burger, and I fall into grief.
I remember the long, hot drives to North Carolina
to visit Aunt Alma, who put up quarts of peaches,
and my grandmother Gladys with her pieced quilts.
Many names are almost gone: Gertrude, Myrtle,
Agnes, Bernice, Hortense, Edna, Doris and Hilda.
They were wide women, cotton-clothed, early rising.
You had to move your mouth to say their names,
and they meant strength, spear, battle, and victory.
When did women stop being Saxons and Goths?
What frog Fate turned them into Alison, Melissa,
Valerie, Natalie, Adrienne, and Lucinda,
diminish them to Wendy, Cindy, Suzy, and Vicky?
I look at these young women
and hope they are headed for the presidency,
but I fear America has other plans in mind,
that they be no longer at war
but subdued instead in amorphous corporate work,
somebody's assistant, something in a bank,
single parent with word-processing skills.
They must have been made French
so they could be cheap foreign labor.
Well, all I can say is,
Good luck to you
Kimberly, Darlene, Cheryl, Heather, and Amy.
Good luck April, Melanie, Becky, and Kelly.
I hope it goes well for you.
But for a moment let us mourn.
Now is the time to say good-bye
to Florence, Muriel, Ethel, and Thelma.
Good-bye Minnie, Ada, Bertha, and Edith.
~Hunt Hawkins, The Domestic Life, the University of Pittsburgh Press, 1994

October 27, 2011

Things I REALLY like right now include...

...the Dave Brubeck Pandora station


...getting up early, making coffee, listening to VPR, and NOT rushing around. I even tried my hand at a true French Omelet with fines herbes yesterday morning, a la Jacques Pepin. But I failed. Because my pan wasn't non-stick enough.

...scrambled eggs with fines herbes

...Ry wearing sweaters (it's that season!)

...MS Excel

...Project Runway (Finale tomorrow! The only one I don't want to win is Josh. And I think the guy whose name begins with a V will win. Vince? Val? Why don't I know that?)

...chard stir-fry, like my brother taught me (see below)

...Hipstamatic for iPhone

Chard, a la Joshuah
Warning: garlic content is high and spicy. don't eat before a job interview.
Serves a lot, and some for lunch the next day
  • As much chard (or kale) as you can get your hands on: washed, stems removed and chopped. Chop leaves roughly and set aside.
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped (or any shape / size / kind you like)
  • 2 big cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1 glug of olive oil
  • knob of butter
  • crushed red pepper (optional)
  • salt and pepper (absolutely necessary)
Heat up oil and butter in a cast iron pan with deep sides. Add onions and chard stems and saute until tender. Add pinch of crushed red pepper at this point, if interested. Add leaves of the greens, and combine into the sauteed stems and onions, until just before all wilty. Add garlic. Cook until garlic is fragrant, season with salt and pepper. Eat.

Other options: Add white cannelloni beans before you add the leaves. Throw in some Frank's Red Hot-marinated tempeh (already sauteed). Serve over rice. Yum.

October 26, 2011

Love the clock, not the alarm

I have been reading a lot of blogs recently. It's all because I discovered three amazing blogs, and the miracle of RSS feeds. So now I'm always up to date when they post, and I get taken on a journey from one link to another, adding one new favorite blog subscription after another...until I officially waste an entire afternoon at work looking at other people's awesome lives.

So, thank you #1 Dinner: A Love Story (actually a thank you for that discovery goes out to #2 This is the Corner We Pee In), and #3 SouleMama. And thanks to my friend Kat for the last one.

Now I want to have my own blog.

Not necessarily to show the world "Hey, look at me! Look at what I'm doing!" But more to commemorate some of my wicked insightful thoughts and bookmark some of the more interesting things I've been finding electronically. In 30 years, I want to be able to look back and know what I was up to when I was 30 (which I am). In 10 years, I want to be able to look back and chronicle the meals I gravitated towards in the summer, when I need the most inspiration because it's too hard to be chained to the kitchen when it's hot out (even though summer is when I have the most vegetable inspiration possible!).

And in 2 years, I want to go to one place to find all the inspiration needed for my new husband and I to build our house. My guess is this topic will start to fill up the blog pretty soon.

Here it goes! Part culinary journal, part ramblings about my day-to-day, part inspiration notebook, part list of things I like, part my social commentary on life and marriage, and part historical timeline.

The first rambling, then, about my day-to-day will be about the title of this post - "Love the clock, not the alarm." I'm referring to the darling MoonBeam Clock from L.L. Bean. Oh, how I love it's retro feel, and it's gentle and comforting illuminated face at night. And oh, how I hate the alarm. Loud (jarring, actually), impossible to set, 45 or 80 or 2790 minutes off...just terrible. It nearly gave Ry a heart attack. At 1:30 in the morning. When it was set for 6:15.

I began my day today writing a review to L.L. Bean about this, and I felt I was honest but helpful for other potential purchasers. I will not be returning mine, though, as I still do love it - even if I have to buy another freaking clock in order to have an alarm!

And that is what I did this morning.