Sunday, July 31, 2011

Yesterday = one of the longest days ever

12 = 6 + 6

4 = 3 + 1

Yesterday = one of the longest days ever

Ends up that I really did know that I knew I wasn't attaching my bike on the bike rack (on top of my car) correctly.  Should have trusted my gut on that one.  

Ends up that I really should have taken my son to the doctor on Friday when I thought something might have been amiss on Thursday.  Should have trusted my gut on that one.

Ends up that the roof of a Saturn doesn't bounce back like they show on the commercials (to be fair, the commercials have never featured a bike falling over from a standing position... repeatedly).

Ends up that my kid is a TROOPER at the ER.  All he needed was his fire engine book, his Thomas book, some apple juice (not organic, with tons of added sugar), and some crayons to keep him entertained for almost three full hours.

Ends up that people make some awful faces when your bike falls over on top of your car.  In intersections.  In neighborhoods.  When pulling out of the grocery store parking lot.

Ends up that antibiotics can cost 520 bucks, with insurance.  Ends up that if a tired, tired mama walks to the corner of the pharmacy after hearing the news, wondering what in the hell to do, a pharmacist can take pitty.

Ends up that even if none of your friends are around to help get the bike on the damn rack correctly, a stranger can be a true life saver.  Additionally, ends up that I am going to give in to the cell phone craze and get me one of those.

Ends up that the $520 script could be substituted for a $10 one.

Ends up that my kid can charm the ladies with his eyelashes.  Repeatedly.  In parking lots.  In his car seat.  In the grocery cart.  In the bread aisle.  In the canned goods aisle.  And right next to a jar of jalapenos.

Ends up that even after the longest day ever, birthday cake made for my tesoro can fix just about anything.  Well, that and some long lasting hugs (but I don't have a picture of those).

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Baking gone BAD

I've been inspired.

A few days ago I decided to make the ultimate berry pie.  My mom was in town and I wanted to show her my goods.  To make it even more high class, we spent the morning at a local organic peach/apple/basil/apricot/can it get any better than this? picking orchard.  Truth be known, I had plans on picking ripe, juicy peaches... getting my fingers pricked while digging around raspberry bushes... wiping down my sons delicious face as all kinds of organic goodness dripped down his chin.  It was going to be lovely.  Absolutely delightful.

Ends up we missed some picking times by days, weeks, months?  The only thing available was basil.  And biting flies.  Not quite what I imagined.  The perk?  They did have peaches in their store.  And raspberries.  And the basil we picked (ready for this?  I ended up picking leaves off some random plants first, not really thinking it was basil, but sure that this was the place he had directed me too.  Ended up taking a bite out of it because, really?  It just didn't seem right.  Yep. I had just spent ten minutes picking off big, huge leaves from some random plant in some random persons garden that lives on sight.  Tesoro, my hero, found the basil- it was up the bend and 'round the corner and hiding in these beautiful rows upon rows upon rows of herbs.  Who would have known?) ended up only costing a buck.

So we get home and I get all kinds of busy peeling, slicing, making pie.  Beautiful, beautiful pie.  The crust was one of my best ones ever.  And all those fruits?  Friggen gorgeous.  My chest had burst out in about ten different places because, hell ya.  I had this one in the bag.  All folks around were impressed as I tilted the pie pan this way and that, making sure the sugar on top was balanced just so.  Gorgeous.

No sooner had I put the pie in the oven, set just perfectly right, when I realized I had forgotten to mix the sugar, the ginger, the flour, the GOODNESS, into the fruit prior to dumping it in the crust.  


Who knows how many curse words exploded out of my mouth (well let me tell you... I think three whos.  My mom, my husband, and my son.).  I opened that oven, slinging words like weapons.  Mom and tesoro?  They start begging me to try to save it.  To open the crust somehow, someway, in order to dump the stuff in it. 

But no.  NO.  NO!!!

I took that pie pan, placed it over the sink, looked at both of their sweet faces, heard them telling me that everything would be okay if I just.put.the.pan.DOWN.  and dumped it.  Dumped it right down that drain.

And it felt good.  REAL good.  Sure, there were reasons why I enjoyed watching my creation go down the pipes.  There were reasons why I liked the shocked looks.  There were.  I admit it.  But truth?  Once I shoved the full to the brim stuck together top and bottom parts of the crust further down the drain, all those peaches and raspberries made their grand appearance.  And that?  That hurt.  So instead of crying, I laughed.  Kind of a "fuck you pie, you aren't going to get the best of ME" laugh.


Better luck next time.  Albeit with medication.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


We went to the fire station on Monday.  Ends up my kid digs the ladder truck.  And the ladder truck.   And the ladder truck.  Like, really digs it.  I wish I had the photog skills to capture his complete awareness and awe with a truck.  Man.  If only.

Also?  He loves his new hat.  If I would have known where the camera was yesterday, I would have taken a picture of the kid on the potty wearing his hat all kinds of crooked while watching some Thomas.  It was super cute.  Scratch that.  HE is super cute.  And super into learning about his world.  With intensity.

Also, also?  He loves to ride in firetrucks driven by firefighters.  Around our town.  With his mama in tow.  It was awesome.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Crystal clear

It became crystal clear to me this past weekend why I am so afraid.  Of, like, everything.

Anxious.  Scared.  Nervous.  Fearful.

Did I already mention anxious?

While I can't fix myself up completely (some of it's so damn ingrained), I can do my best to make sure my boy doesn't grow up with the desire to put himself and all those he holds dear in a fat plastic bubble.  Truth is, there's so much more to life then just those things that seem safe.  Like, staying in your house and reading books all the time.  Or staying in your house and watching movies all the time.  Or staying in your house and clicking around the Internet all the time.  Or staying in your town and not branching out to new people.  Or, or, or....

So here's the word, bird.  It's okay if Leone wants to play by the river.  It's okay if he wants to climb up and over every single boulder from here to the top of the mountains.  It's okay if he wants to run and jump and scream and kick and giggle and whisper and throw and EXPERIENCE LIFE.

It's okay.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

I interrupt my blather with this very important news

Way to go, son.  If I were a man, I would have patted you on the back and then shook your hand.  Instead you got hugs and kisses and leaps and bounds and maybe even a screech or two....

Friday, July 15, 2011

Playing catch-up

The other day I meant to post a picture of a sign that read: On Hold.

That's what I've been.  On hold.  Who knows what my regular will end up looking like, but for now I plan on being sporadic.

A quick photo:

They thought they were being sneaky.  I thought I was being sneaky.  Ends up I was taking a photo of tesoro and leone drawing a picture as a surprise gift for me before I took off for a weekend of incredibleness.

I think the two of these guys are darling.  Absolutely darling.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Becoming resigned

I realized this morning that I am much, much more anxious than normal.  It's easy for me to point at some of the obvious things- my Master's program, the summer being halfway over, teacher prep time creeping closer and closer, etc....

I ended up sending an email to some friends this morning, basically exploding in their laps (okay, more like their laptop screens... but you get the idea).  Ends up that the things that are filling my mind, heart, soul, aren't those obvious things.  Seems like it's more about my son.  Trying to find his Ethiopian roots. Making connections with his Ethiopian family.  Sending in his annual report.  Trying to figure out this readoption stuff, along with his birthday stuff.  Wondering if it's true that we will never adopt from Ethiopia again.

And then there's the other stuff that consumes me.  Stuff I read on blogs about the hardships others are encountering.  The stories others are hearing and seeing.  The news that could shatter you if you let it.

A real gem of a woman told me, in response to my cry for help, that I need to accept the fact that I can't carry every burden for my son.  That I am not superhuman.  That I need to let go of some things.

It's hard.  So hard.  My heart is torn for him.  Torn.  I worry.  I wonder.  I worry.

I am grieving the loss of a dream for adopting another child from Ethiopia.  There are so many questions there, so much corruption.  Who knows how long the programs will continue to work there?  How many children need homes and families and medicine and food?  How many will be lost?  I know, I know- adoption is not about me.  And I totally get that.  I do.  It's just....

I think about all those babies.  All those toddlers.  All those kindergartners, first graders, high schoolers.  Mothers.  Fathers.  Grandparents.  Aunts.  Uncles.  Cousins.  Brothers.  Sisters.  I think about them and I ache.

Leone, I love you with every inch of my being.  Every inch.  I want the world for you.  You have been through enough, and you will go through even more.  I can try, oh how I can try- but....

Oh, my son!  Oh, the ache!

Friday, July 8, 2011


I want to go back in time in order to tell myself to calm the hell down.  I think it's because I didn't have a lot of other mother's around, I think it's because I didn't have a good sense of confidence instilled, I think it's because I expect constant perfection from my entire being at all points of the day (which, surprisingly, doesn't happen... which tends to lead to a lot of self-depreciation... but that's for another day, yes?)- I think it's a lot of things.

I wonder if it would have been different had it just been one of those things?  Probably not.  

At any point, I was recently asked how motherhood has impacted me.  I didn't want to answer it at the time, and I still think this is a chicken-shit answer, but I can say with confidence that one of those things has been my finally becoming aware of how hard I am on me.  So hard, in fact, that I don't want anyone to ever see my butt.  And I mean anyone.  So hard that I don't sing out loud in front of anyone.  And I mean anyone.  So hard that if I place a plate of food in front of you, I am first to tell you everything that is wrong with it.  So hard that I spend countless hours working on a graduate paper, knowing full well that a B-average would mean nothing in the long run, but realizing that having an A-average means the world to me so those extra hours of complete insanity are worth it.  So hard that I haven't been in a swim suit yet.  So hard that if you want to be my friend, I spend time trying to convince you not to waste your time... and here's all the reasons why (the list is long, ladies).

Being a mother has been the first time that I have looked someone in the face and felt like complete shit for the amount of perfection I expect from myself.  Although it can be rather difficult to walk backwards when naked so my husband can't see my buns, I haven't really worried about it.  I mean, I hate it- but I haven't worried about his self-esteem, nor his acceptance of his own body, because of it.  And not singing songs in the car while my husband is driving can feel sad to me at times, especially during those moments when I want to belt out a Gillian Welch song, but I have never thought that since I want him to enjoy singing out loud I should lead by example.

Geez.  I make it seem like I live in a shell around tesoro.  Not true.  He's my beloved, and I am his- I just have some anxiety about most things in life.. most of which stemmed from the models I had growing up.  Which is yet another reason why I need to lay off myself around me, around him, and most especially, around our kid.  I am different.  We are different.

All of this being said, and there is so much more to add (and oh how I wish I could do it in a concise manner!), to really just say that I don't expect my boy to be perfect.  I do expect compassion, kindness, love, and generosity- but not perfection.  And my concern is that the amount of shit-talk I have to do when I don't achieve that high, high, all-the-way-to-the-sky bar myself?  I worry that it will pour out onto him, either through my own frustrations at myself that get misguided, or through some sort of jacked up modeling that dimples on one's buns equals bad and wrong and worthy of hatred.  And the truth of the matter?  All buns are worthy of love.  Even those that look like mine.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Things are looking up

Now doesn't this just make you want to grin out loud?  It did me.  Thank you.  I love it, love it, love it.

I decided to celebrate the Fourth with a pie.  But not just any pie.  No.  No run of the mill over here.  I decided to go for it.  To embark on the journey.  To open the book and dive in.  Ladies and gentlemen, may I present you with... Blueberry-Nectarine Pie (aka, a Julia Child's pie):

I know, I know- the crust looks a bit shoddy.  But really?  Really, really?  It tasted divine.  DIVINE.  I've included my own notes in the recipe- you can find them in italics.

The filling:
  • 3 cups fresh blueberries (about 1.5 pints)
  • 2 cups sliced nectarines (about 3 large nectarines)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • large pinch of grated lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons (approximately) fresh lemon juice (I ended up using one lemon)
Although this was not noted in the instructions, I think it's worthy to share that you need to be sure to peel the nectarines prior to slicing them.  I think I stared at four different pictures of this pie, trying to figure out if the damn skins needed to come off prior to baking.  I know- might seem obvious to some, but to me, if it's not written down, well.

Put half of the fruit (which, by the way, my beloved managed to get 1 pint of blueberries instead of 1.5... it still worked out fine in the end) in a medium saucepan, keeping the remaining fruit close at hand.  Add the sugar, flour, and lemon zest and stir to mix.  Bring the mixture to a soft boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  The fruits will release their juices and the liquid will thicken. (At this point I was all, what?  Bring the mixture to a soft boil?  But there's no liquid to be found!  No liquid!  How can I boil no liquid!  But then, magic.  Just like she mentioned, the fruits released their juices.  And the smell from that pot?  Incredible.  I probably stirred for about 10 minutes, not sure when I should stop.  It seemed to be "thick enough" at that point, but what do I know?)  Turn the mixture into a  bowl and stir in the uncooked fruit.  Taste a spoonful (or three!), paying particular attention to the saucy liquid, and add lemon juice as needed.  Cool the filling to room temperature.

The crust:
  • 1/2 recipe Flaky Pie Dough, chilled (I'll share later- but please know that this recipe?  IT'S AWESOME!)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into bits
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water, for egg wash
  • crystal or turbinado sugar, for sprinkling (I ended up using granulated sugar- this did not have the same effect!  BOO! on granulated sugar!)
Cut the dough in half and roll one half out on a lightly floured work surface into a circle about 11 inches across.  Fit the crust into a 9-inch cake pan with 1-inch-high sides (Hmmm.  I missed this.  I ended up using a crappy Pyrex pie pan.  Also?  I didn't roll my dough out enough.  ALWAYS my problem.  It shows.).  Allow the excess dough to hang over the sides for the moment.

Roll the remaining piece of dough into a circle about 10 inches across.  Place the pie pan in the center of the dough and, using the pan as a template, cut the bottom round of dough so that it is about 1/2 inch larger all around the pan.

Spoon the cooled filling into the pie shell and dot the top with butter (DAMN!  I forgot to dot with butter!  I bet that would have made this even more amazing!).

Trim the overhanging dough to about 1/2 inch.  Left the rolled-out circle of dough onto the pie, aligning the edges of the top crust with the bottom crust (again, I didn't roll this batch of dough out enough).  Fold both layers of overhanging dough under to create a thick edge around the rim of the pan.  Crimp the edges by pushing the thumb of one hand against the thumb and index finger of your other hand, creating scallops every 1 or 2 inches around the rim (ummm, yeah.  I didn't do this part so well either).  Press the tines of a fork against the flat scallops (what?!  Where are the flat scallops?!) to decorate.  Paint the crust with the egg wash and sprinkle with a little crystal or turbinado sugar (again- don't use granulated sugar!).

Using the point of a thin knife, cut 4 to 6 slits in the crust and chill for about 20 minutes (CHILL FOR ABOUT 20 MINUTES?  I totally missed that.  How in the hell did this pie turn out at all?!).

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 

Place the pie on a parchment-lined jelly-roll pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the crust is golden and the fruit bubbling.  Let cool for at least 30 minutes before you cut it so that the crusts, top and bottom, have a chance to set.

Yep.  Now that I've typed it out, I can see that I missed a lot of details.  The good news?  It was the first pie to disappear from the pie table at the party, so hell ya.  Looks like things are finally looking up in my baking world....

Friday, July 1, 2011

Through the example of others....

Even though I didn't want to post this recipe because you might not like it, plus you might only want to read recipes that are accompanied with pictures, I felt drawn due to a recent post in which the author made a very valid point (although it was a quiet point, made via example)... you can't share your own hip, hip, hoorays about something baked or made or whatever without including directions. 


Here's the picture from a while ago:

And here's the recipe, taken from A Best Recipe Classic:  Baking Illustrated, put together by the editors of Cook's Illustrated Magazine.  Keep in mind that I had to alter for elevation (mind you, this typed out version has not been altered, but just in case yours come out tasting like shit... well, perhaps you need to find a kitchen at 7, 200 feet):

Blueberry Muffins
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin and set aside (I recently tried out the secret of putting the muffin tin on the opened door of the dishwasher- you can spray all you want and not have a mess to clean up later!  Woo-hoo!).

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl until combined.  Whisk the egg in a second medium bowl until well-combined and light-colored, about 20 seconds.  Add the sugar and whisk vigorously until thick and homogenous, about 30 seconds; add the melted butter in 2 or 3 additions, whisking to combine after each addition.  Add the sour cream in 2 additions, whisking just to combine.

Add the berries to the dry ingredients and gently toss just to combine.  Add the sour cream mixture and fold with a rubber spatula until the batter comes together and the berries are evenly distributed, about 25 to 30 seconds.  (Small spots of flour may remain and the batter will be thick.  Now, in the voice of Faye Dunaway as she channeled Joan Crawford during the wire hanger scene, scream this at yourself lest you forget:  "Do not overmix!  Do not overmix!  Do not overmix!")

Using a large spoon sprayed with nonstick cooking spray to prevent sticking, divide the batter among the greased muffin cups.  Bake until the muffins are light golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan from front to back halfway through the baking time.  Invert the muffins onto a wire rack, stand the muffins upright, and cool 5 minutes.  Serve as is (or with a couple of dollops of butter smeared on top).