All shades of Purple

Because purple is my favorite color.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Another reason to avoid Purple

While vacuuming my car today I thought the "fragrance island" at the car wash was a little overpowering. When I got home to unload my groceries I realized that "fragrance island" was among my purchases. Turns out that the cheap no-name dryer sheets I bought smell like icky, car air-fresheners. How did I not notice this while in the store? You know what this means? Of course you do. My family will smell like cheap, car air-fresheners for approximately 400 loads of laundry. Joy.

Monday Fine Motor Skills

Meringue cookies are difficult for a 2.5 year old to make. Obviously, she can't hold the mixer or "fold in" chocolate chips. She can dump ingredients and help sift. But her favorite job of "blooping" the cookies onto the cookie sheet is harder than usual with a sticky, fragile dough. Have you ever considered the coordination it takes to eject a blob of cookie dough from a spoon using (only!) your index finger? No? Well then, maybe you should try to coach a toddler through it.
In any case, Chocolate Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies are lovely. As are sticky, plump toddler fists.
Last week the Eager Helper assisted me in assembling a fun little snack called Kit-Kat Bars. She tiled the bottom of a pan with club crackers, crushed graham crackers and stirred together melted chocolate chips and peanut butter. They were a delicious treat for a family cookout.
I can't think of anything else interesting we've made lately. Probably because the Eager Helper is sitting here in my lap wanting to pretend like she is a "tiny little baby."
Oh, we made apple butter instead of a Tarte Tatin. Did I already mention that?
Not super coherent here, I know you are all offended.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday Photos


Gloriously carmelized apples in a Tarte Tatin I made about 13 months ago. Why didn't I think of it this year!?

Monday, October 23, 2006

An indicator of what to expect this week?

The Eager Helper is struggling with a bowl of scrambled eggs. Since I hear a whine creeping into her voice, I attempt to encourage her using our usual humorous approach to difficulties. "Tell those eggs to jump on the fork. Say, 'Come on little eggs, l want to eat you.'" As if to refresh my memory about how this household works, she replies wearily. "Eggs don't have muscles, Mommy."

Monday, October 16, 2006

Monday Food Matters

Here is a pretty easy meal I came up with. Slice cherub (or cherry or grape) tomatoes in half lengthwise and place cut side up on a foil lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt, freshly ground pepper, crushed garlic, parsley and basil then dribble olive oil over them. Place under the broiler (not too close) until the tomatoes soften and they begin to bubble (do not let them scorch!). After they cool a little transfer them cut side down onto pressed out pizza dough. Use your fingers to wipe up any leftover oil and rub it over the tomatoes and crust. Sprinkle with grated mozzarella cheese and bake your pizza at 400 until the cheese is bubbly to your specifications.
And I also tried a recipe for Laban or Yogurt Cheese. It was too easy for words! Line a sieve with a coffee filter and dump a bunch of yogurt into it. Set it over a container to drain, cover and refrigerate 24 hours or so. Dump the liquid, transfer the laban to a dish, flavor to taste and use as a spread or dip. I used plain yogurt and added dill and parsley. We used it in place of sour cream on our baked potatoes. I was hoping to make bagels to spread it on. It would be great on crackers or with veggies. I can just imagine how scrumptious it would be using vanilla yogurt with strawberries (fresh or preserves?) stirred in!
This has been a good food week. Plum Dumplings, Steak, Chocolate Cream Pie, Chocolate Chip Cookies. I turned out an excellent batch of bread this morning. Into one loaf I rolled chopped apples, brown sugar, nutmeg and butter. I can't wait for breakfast except that tonight we are having Emperor's Pancakes for dinner. They are puffy, light and delicious.
May you have as good a week, my 3 readers!

Friday, October 13, 2006

"Maybe I can wait a little longer" OR "Just when I thought one wasn't enough"

This has been a rough week. Severe crabbiness struck early in the week, followed by a mysterious fever and stomach ache on Wednesday. Sleep has been elusive. Accomplishments have been meager. The Eager Helper is beginning to feel better (as of yesterday evening, anyway) but we are a little ragged over here. This morning, for example, I was awakened at 2:15, 3:30 and 4:30. "Mommyyy, I need you!" And being told that it was not yet morning, she wept even more bitterly. It almost feels like she is playing the lead role in a skit directed by God, Himself to cure my pouting. After all, a week of her sick routine is nothing compared to the first six months with a new baby.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Leopard Hat reviewed by Rusty Reiter

When I recently decided to "just start reading" again, I headed for the biography section of the local library. I was vaguely hoping to find this book or at least a biography of a figure I admire. Instead, the cover of The Leopard Hat by Valerie Steiker caught my eye. Since one is not supposed to judge a book by its cover, I was surprised by what a good read it turned out to be. It is a memoir in which the lives of the author and her elegant, Belgian immigrant mother are intertwined around remembered stories and family objects. The stories and "tchotchkes" of the author's past become metaphors for telling her own story: the magic childhood her mother created for her and the painful loss of her mother as she, herself is on the brink of womanhood. This is a verbally rich volume with vivid details. On the negative side, I must say that in describing a very privileged upbringing, the author seems occasionally self-conscious and distant. My only other substantive criticism is that some of the metaphors seemed weak or stretched. I did, however, find myself appreciating the fact that she was consistent in using them as a framework throughout the book.
This was an easy read because of a compelling story and effective usage of the "show, don't tell" technique. But I didn't feel brain cells dying for lack of use either. It is the perfect "fluffy" book a college educated girl can read without feeling guilty, and is especially apropos for a young mother.

Here are some of my favorite (long) passages:
It occurred to me, for the first time, how completely bizarre it is that we keep things. Almost all families do, and no one gives it a second thought. You walk into someone's' house and you see high-school trophies, wedding albums, perhaps on the mantel a pair of bronzed baby shoes - every form of remembrance. Suddenly it struck me as unbelievable that we bring all and sundry back to where we live, surrounding ourselves with reflections of our journeys, past achievements, and personal taste, loading our walls, our shelves, our drawers with objects we love or that suggest to the world that we ourselves are loved (or at least appreciated), even though we know the fate of things which is to fade with age and ultimately wither away. As I had learned all too well from having lost my mother and seen her belongings begin to disintegrate, nothing on this earth is permanent. In the face of this, I hadn't considered before how much faith it takes to create a home - to save your child's first scrawls, to come back from a trip and frame an especially good shot. (p. 250-251)

With a shock I realized that my mother's routine note leaving had occurred as a result of a request I had made to her at the age of seven. It made me think about the startling symbiosis that exists between mothers and daughters. I had continually felt her molding me as a daughter, but it hadn't occurred to me that this process went both ways, that I had also been shaping her as a mother. (p. 263)

Monday, October 09, 2006

Monday Food Matters

Not much going on in Purpleville that strays beyond the ordinary and average this week. I do have some apples dissolving into apple butter in my crockpot and they fit the cool rainyish weather outside. Last week I made a pan of Rosie's Brownies and sprinkled some Hershey's Toffee Bits over them in the last 10 minutes of baking. They melted just enough to make a nice butter-crunch topping. To save myself from them, I wrapped tiny portions of what I didn't inhale in saran and froze them. Divine!
There was an odd pasta salad last week, now that I think of it. It was to have been a chicken/grape/apple/almond/poppy seed salad over lettuce leaves but I ran out of lettuce. The pasta made it all too heavy and with no fresh, crisp, lettuce counterpoint it was just weird.
Well, it is time to pop some bread in the oven, so you can all go back to missing me.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Sigh

Yes, I am still here. Eating only red m&m's gives you heartburn just as quickly as eating any other color. I thought you'd like to know. Eating half a pan of brownies is just as bad. Did I say bad? Brownies are never bad and I hope you already knew that.
One of my reasons for starting this blog was so that I could learn to write again. I think I used to write decently . . . This week I've been working on a book review which has me very depressed because the words just don't flow like they used to. My writing style was always to sit down and just write the words down any way they came to me (and they did) and then come back through and rearrange, refine and edit (and edit some more). Writing wasn't effortless but I did have a method that worked. I guess it has been too long since I really wrote anything because I just can't get the words to come anymore. I am hoping that if I keep after it, I'll pick it back up. But it is monumentally difficult.
 
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