Category Archives: cooking

Nice girls grow zucchini.

I can’t bake. I have horrible handwriting. I can do no sport which calls for hand-eye coordination or the use of a bat, racket, or paddle. I am, at best, a fair driver. Some would even say I am unsafe behind the wheel. 

But I just did this:

This zucchini is so big it borders on the obscene – I felt almost dirty picking it. (As I yanked the thing out of the ground, I heard myself whispering, really, I’m not that kind of girl…)

But pick it, I did. And tonight – we feast.  

All those other things that I’m bad at, all those many many things, the driving, the baking, the dancing (yup), heck, even the parenting… They can all suck it because I just went and grew part of dinner.

P.S. Fuck. I just burnt the chicken.

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Filed under cooking, gardening, Uncategorized

Meatless May, Again. 

It’s that time of year. At least twice a week I get this sort of email: Dear Parent, please send in pictures of your child doing something she loves, something she hates, and something while speaking French and standing on one foot. OR this: Dear Parent, please come in to school for a two hour long presentation/party/celebration on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of this week and please make sure your child senses NONE of your resentment. And finally,  my favorite: Dear Parent, please purchase 200 pieces of poster board for the endless projects you and your child will fight about over the next five weeks. 

Luckily for me, it’s also Meatless May! And while it’s more of a Mostly Meatless May (meat can happen on weekends if need be), I actually feel like mostly is a pretty good bar, as in – I am mostly a decent mother, I am mostly a good wife, I am mostly a productive writer. 

Everybody gets on board with the meatlessness. My eldest loves it the most because he complains about the lack of variety come dinner time, which is actually how Meatless May was born. Last week he said, “Wow, you really turn into Guy Fieri in May.” I have no idea who that is, but I’ll take it. 

I rescued the veggie Pad Thai after the tofu turned into a gelatinous mush when I followed the recipe and tossed it in cornstarch (never again.) 

Even though know the chickpea omelette looks and sounds pretty revolting, it’s actually a big hit here. You have to ignore the fact that the batter looks like inedible gunge.

Everybody gamely tried the cilantro and basil pesto, even my youngest who believes that if it’s not covered in Nutella, it’s not actually a food.

The herbs are all made possible by M., who built these rockstar vegetable beds for Mother’s Day. 

(Never mind that I told him to build them in a spot which is under the shade of a giant tree and nothing will really grow except for the herbs. Never mind that instead of making me feel like an idiot, he offered to build me something somewhere sunny in the garden.)

I guess I can safely say that I am mostly capable.

Happy Meatless May, peeps.

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Filed under cooking, food, gardening, Mothers Day, school, Uncategorized

Cookbook Conundrum 

I like a good cookbook. If I know what I want to cook, but don’t know how to cook it, I will sometimes search for a recipe online. When I have no clue what to cook and am looking for inspiration, I open a cookbook.

Because I have many cookbooks I don’t use, I try to be judicious in my acquisitions. Sometimes, I am successful. And then there’s this:

I bought this book after I read an article about it, and even used the recipe in the article. What could possibly go wrong? 

I had NO business buying this cookbook. This cookbook did not inspire me; this cookbook made me want to hang myself. I had no business buying this cookbook because as much as I would like to, I do not live in a farmhouse in France. I live in a colonial in the Bronx. I had no business buying this cookbook because even if I did not keep kosher, I would not want to eat rabbit. I had no business buying this cookbook because this woman has AT LEAST as many children as I do and she looks like a runway model when she cooks dinner and when I cook dinner I mostly look like the Good Luck Kitchen Witch. 

While I am cooking dinner using a dull knife to chop wilted vegetables I have bought at the local A & P, this woman is casually chasing a wild hare around her immaculate kitchen in three inch heels, all while applying lip gloss and making pastry dough from scratch. (And the first person to comment here can HAVE this effing cookbook, free of charge.)

But in preparation for Meatless May (stay tuned!), I bought this book after I heard the authors interviewed on Fresh Air. (That’s right. I am now officially your grandmother.)

 I have promised myself not to buy any more cookbooks. Unless of course one of you suggests a title which which will absolutely change my life. Then of course, I’m all for it. Just don’t having me chasing rabbits around my kitchen with a carving knife. Carving knives are for meat (which we will not be eating for a month), and for chasing children, not rabbits.

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Filed under cooking, food, New York City

Summerlution Number One

It’s the last day of school and my first summer resolution is born:

To teach them ALL to clear the table and load the dishwasher. Especially after breakfast.

No more half eaten toast removal, crusted egg rinsing, or (my least favorite) congealed cereal disposal.

I. Am. Done.

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The responsible one does it already. So does the one who is easily guilted. But the others?

Nothing.

Mark my words, people. Come August I will NOT be dealing with this:

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That will be their job. I’ll be around only for emergency clean ups. Like this:

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What’s YOUR Summerlution??

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Filed under children, cooking, food, parenting

Oh, Nuts.

It was inevitable. Although I made it through seven years of the Pacific NW with my sense of humor (somewhat) in tact, it seems that I am not unchanged.

A part of the house hunting process here in NY involves a romp through the garden for a place I can house the compost bin of which I have been dreaming.

And just recently I went and bought myself a nut bag.

A nut bag is surprisingly, not something one would purchase in a sex shop.

You see, it’s no longer annoying to just drink almond milk. Hell, everyone is doing THAT. Now we get to kick it up a notch: There are so many additives (blah, blah) in store bought (gasp!) almond milk, that to be even more annoying, we now need to make our own.

To make your own almond milk you need a nut bag, or else the finished product is sludgy, gritty, and overall undrinkable… at least more so than a glass of milk made from nuts needs to be.

At first, though, when I poured all the almond milk from the blender into the nut bag, it just sat there. Why was so little of it dripping out?

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I asked a friend.

Did you SQUEEZE the nut bag, she asked.

Squeeze it? I could barely bring myself to purchase the bloody thing, let alone say it. I’m not about to go squeezing it.

But you have to squeeze the nut bag if you want to get almond milk. So, I did. I just made sure nobody was watching.

I also made sure (as I like to do), that in making my own almond milk, I sullied as many items in the kitchen as possible:

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All this in the same week I had to walk into Dick’s (Sporting Goods) and ask for an athletic “cup.”

“For you?” the teenaged employee asked me awkwardly.

I thought of telling the poor, spotty soul that one nut bag a week was enough for me, and that I was buying this for one of my sons, but I just mumbled something about a child and he led me to the corner of the store where they sell things to protect body parts. The whole thing was a tad uncomfortable for me. I didn’t like having to ask how one wears a cup, or how one knows what size to buy (note to self: DELEGATE), but I did it. And the child in question was so grateful that he truly said to me:

“WOW! You took time out of your busy day to buy me a cup?”

Indeed, I did.

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Filed under children, cooking, food, health, moving, New York City, parenting, Seattle

Snowmaggedon

I must have brought the underwhelming, underperforming snow with me from Seattle.

All day long we were barraged with reports of coming blizzard that would shut the city down tomorrow. Sidney’s preschool was cancelled before her morning was over. The other kids had school cancelled before the first flakes fell. (Long Island is set to bear the brunt of the storm. I’d make a snarky comment here, but I’m technically bridge and tunnel now, so I really don’t have grounds for snark.)

To be fair, it has snowed. Somewhat.

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It just hasn’t snowed anywhere near enough to shut down this city, and it certainly hasn’t snowed enough (yet) to warrant a snow day. (Though this does beat Seattle’s snowless snow days.)

Still, in anticipation of a house full of perpetually hungry children on a constant snack-troll, I made some cookies. (Snow days are no way to begin a New Year’s health plunge. Nobody wants to snuggle up with a celery juice, not even me.)

My mixer is a constant reminder of both my dislike of baking and of my ability to kill any appliance that enters my kitchen.

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I have to switch it on and then whack it with my fist to get it whirring. If I desire a higher speed, I need to whack it again. Even though it appears to have 8 settings, it only has those two speeds. Sometimes I need to unplug it to shut it off. I’ve been known to shout at it, but that’s never gotten me anywhere. It seems I cannot even get an appliance to be subordinate.

I’m going to sleep now. I’ll need my wits about me tomorrow, what with all those children and that errant mixer.

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Filed under baking, children, cooking, food, New York City, parenting, winter

Othello (or how to hide a turkey in your bathrobe)

The modern version of the enemy of my enemy is my friend — when you meet someone new and discover you are both annoyed by the same things (read: people) on Facebook. For me, more annoying than the endless holiday shots (one should always be enough), the house remodels, the things you’ve just acquired that you can’t wait so show off to hundreds of people, or the posts you’ve cribbed from other people that’ll you’ll never give them credit for, are the food shots. Not just what you’re eating in restaurants, but all the food you’re making and consuming at home. It especially gets me this time of year, when food is front and center. (I’m about to get annoying, but keep reading because I think it pays off.) When I see all your cookie sheets lined up, or your turkey trussed and ready to go, I can’t help but think of people who don’t have enough to eat on Thanksgiving, or any day of the year; the ones who won’t be so stuffed by the end of the meal that they fall asleep wherever they are, even if that’s the living room floor.

But you see, I always get preachy and annoying around Thanksgiving.

When I was about eleven, I remember my mother making a turkey for Thanksgiving. I think it may have been the first one she ever made. I came home from school and found the bird defrosting on the kitchen counter. It was so large and so bird-like, so real, that I named it Othello (I’m embarrassed to say that I think it was because the best part of the turkey for me, was always the dark meat.) The next day the bird was out again getting herbed and trussed. Othello may have had a long, painful day, but he was happy to listen to the intimate details of middle school life and he did so without a single eye roll. The next day was oven day and I panicked. I knew that if he had a mouth, he’d open it right up and beg me to save him. True, he was already dead. But did I really want to add insult to injury?

It’s unclear what happened next. All I remember is that the turkey disappeared. It’s possible that I hid it in my bathrobe, stuffed it under my bed, and left it there, only to be discovered by Chester, our long suffering cocker spaniel. I just remember getting into some trouble. I’m not sure I was even at Thanksgiving dinner. (I do know that a few years later I became a vegetarian, the height of annoyance (I didn’t know about veganism back then, but if I did, I’d have jumped right on that annoying bandwagon.) I stayed a vegetarian for seven years, until I left the house and couldn’t annoy anyone anymore.)

I was at Thanksgiving dinner the following year. I believe that was the year I treated everyone to my graphic retelling of the Thanksgiving tale, complete with the spreading of white man’s disease and the rape of the Indian land.

Don’t worry. I’m getting paid back for my middle school behavior.

In spades.

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Filed under children, cooking, food, middle school, parenting, Uncategorized