Category Archives: epicurean delights

Short term plans – school and glasses

Wednesday is my first day of classes.  As you may recall, I’m going back to school to get certified to teach high school business.  I have class just one day a week, for like 5.5 hours.  It should be fun, and interesting, and ok, maybe a little scary to be going back to school after a decade. 

My in-laws are going on vacation for a month soon.  For the last, oh, three years, my mother in-law has bitched and complained that she hates her drinking glasses.  However, because she is frugal and resistant to change and maybe just a little bit crazy, she refuses to get rid of the glasses she hates because “there’s nothing WRONG with them.”  I bought them a set of nice glasses at Macy’s the Christmas before last, and while they have yet to make an appearance, they also weren’t returned, as I discovered the box at the back of their hall closet recently.  I assume this means they like the glasses, but since the ones they hate are still “fine” they simply haven’t put them into commission yet.  Well.  I have a plan.  While they are on vacation I am going to kidnap all the glasses they hate, and populate their drinking glass cabinet with the new glasses from Macy’s.  Maybe I’ll even leave a note from the old glasses, saying they’ve gone on to better things and they will miss their old home.

In other news, my garden is a pretty decent success this year, which for me is saying a LOT.  I had built raised beds in the spring, and almost everything in them is doing fairly well.  I had a little patch of corn that all came down with a fungus called “corn smut” which sounds way more fun than it really is.  All my corn kernels got crazy huge and popcorn-looking, but greyish black.  The intertubes tell me this fungus is a delicacy in Mexico, where they cook it into quesadillas, but like many so-called “delicacies” I will leave it to the natives.  My corn smut got cut down and dumped into our back woods for the groundhogs to feast upon.  Besides the corn failure, however, the garden has been productive.  I’ve made a couple batches of salsa and pasta sauce from my tomatoes, my peppers are actually giving me peppers, my herbs are mostly thriving, and I even have a few watermelon and butternut squash that have set and are getting visibly bigger on a daily basis. 

I have one bed dedicated to scallions, carrots, and radishes, and those are…. OK.  The carrots aren’t getting much bigger than babies, but they are sweet and yummy if not prolific.  The scallions are fine, but the radishes haven’t done much except grow lots of leaves.   A few gave me a decent bulb, but whatever.  I don’t particularly like radishes, I only grow them because they are fun and quick.  Oh, I added a couple rows of broccoli in place of some radishes but that’s just at the seedling stage right now.

And still pregnant.  🙂  I’m in my 20th week, which means I’m halfway through the pregnancy right now.

My kids are so cool

Lane has decided she wants to make a copy of the book Snuggle Puppy.  Which, in my opinion, is not only one of the cutest little books in existence (could those puppies be any cuter??), but also the cutest song ever.  (The song link will download the sample of the mp3 from Amazon; do not fear!!)   So, she’s using red construction paper, re-writing all the words, and drawing her own pictures.

I also decided, because they were on a good sale, to have lobster for dinner.  Supermarket cooked them for me, I steamed them a bit to warm them up at home.  I bought some jumbo shrimp for the kids, under the general precaution of them freaking out at the sight of a giant red bug on my plate and wanting nothing to do with it.  But, cool kids they are, were more than eager to try the lobster, and more than happy to also try the thyme-garlic clarified butter I made, and more than happy to eat ALL my claw meat. 

How did I luck out with such cool kids?

A day in the life

I don’t know what the weather’s like where you are, but here it’s lovely.

Much has been accomplished. My garden got the bejeezus weeded out of it, and I planted some more radish & carrot & spinach seeds, and re-routed some strawberry runners. Everything got a good watering.  I ate my first salad from it.

Frank tried to fix our attic fan, but discovered that instead of a bum thermostat as we originally suspected, the motor is blown. The standard home improvement stores did not carry a replacement. Bah.

I had my neighbor friend over for margaritas on my deck, which thanks to a bunch of potting and a few purchased accessories feels very homey now.

Jake took a three hour nap.

Lane’s been playing at the neighbor’s for the past two or three hours.

I’m still buzzed from the margaritas.

Life is good.

Off my butt

I’m getting off my butt.  I had been sorely lacking in the exercise department for most of the winter.  Our house came with an older-model-but-pretty-nice treadmill, and we finally got it set up a few months ago… and there it sat.  I think I used it once, my brother used it a few more times, and then it just kept on observing us from a corner of our family room.

I’ve got stuff coming up — I’m going to be shooting three weddings in the next three months and would like to have the stamina to do it.  We’re going to Aruba again next April, and I would love not to be embarrassed for myself in a bathing suit.  I’m generally level-headed enough to only care a tiny bit about what I look like in a bathing suit — mostly it is what it is, and while it’s been a long time since I’ve even been a tiny bit pleased about my appearance naked or sparsely clothed, I don’t have huge hangups about it.  I won’t NOT go swimming because I don’t like how I look, you know?  But mostly, I just want to be and stay healthy.

This week I’ve been good about getting the lead out.  I used the treadmill in the morning three of the last four mornings.  Monday, I just walked for a half hour.  Tuesday I did some jogging too.  Wednesday I skipped, and it honestly affected me negatively the whole day.  I really liked how I felt Monday and Tuesday, and then Wednesday I just felt off.  If I can keep myself in the habit of going to bed a bit earlier so I can get up and get on the treadmill, I think it’s going to be a very positive thing.

I’m also watching what I put in my mouth.  I had a bit of an epiphany not too long ago about my eating habits.  I found myself allowing myself to snack whenever I wanted because — well, not because I deserved to have the snack — that’s not quite the mindset, but it’s close.  I think it’s more like I felt like I was denying myself something I wanted if I tried to steer clear.  Then the blatantly obvious epiphany happened — maybe I was being permissive with myself in the now, but at what cost?  What was I denying myself down the road?  Smaller clothes sizes and the escape from my current purgatory of being not quite a plus size, but not quite a misses?  More energy?  Better health?  How many healthy years of living and enjoying my kids and grandkids?

[NOTE: This post was interrupted at this point by the need to clean up an entire bottle of pancake syrup that Frank left on the coffee table — can the man PLEASE just leave condiment bottles in the kitchen??!?  The rest of us seem perfectly content with adding relevant accoutrements before bringing our plates into the dining room or (occasionally) the living room to eat.  I was typing the post and Frank left the room without putting the syrup away, and I didn’t realize it was there… and Jake emptied the contents of the 3/4 full bottle on the coffee table and carpet.  Yay fun.  Thank goodness we have a Hoover SpinScrub carpet cleaner and I cannot begin to rave about its complete awesomeness.]

Anyway — so about the snacking.  With a better mindset I’ve been able to cut it out quite a bit, and with being more active I’m less inclined to eat anyways.

I can’t say with any certainty how well this will all stick — but it feels a bit different this time.

Another big thing

One other thing I neglected to catch y’all up on yesterday was my garden.  I built a garden!!  Our new house is on about 2/3 of an acre, and I thought it would be shameful if I let our first full summer pass without growing some of our own food.  I’ve done a bit of veggie gardening in the past… my grandpa’s always had a garden, so when I was younger and would hang out there when my parents were at work, I would help him out.  Then in our old house, which came with a built garden, I successfully grew a lot of tomatoes and a few peppers and cucumbers despite working full-time.  After that I ended up pregnant with Jacob and just couldn’t muster the enthusiasm for it.

Well, now, I have two small children, and we’re still not completely unpacked, and there’s still about a hundred small projects around the house, so I decided to build a vegetable garden.  And, never one to bite off just a bit at a time, I went a little nuts — I dug out what amounts to about 120 square feet of planting area – about the size of  a small bedroom.  Granted in the gardening world this isn’t a huge garden, and I imagine I’ll probably make it a little bigger next summer, but it’s still pretty big.  It’s four separate plots, so that I can plant fairly intensively and do all my gardening without treading on the gardens themselves, which they say is good for the roots of the plants you’re growing.  I dug all the plots myself, weeding and de-rocking everything, with the exception of a couple BIG rocks (we do live in “Rockland” county after all — I learned really quickly how the county got its name) which my brother and/or next door neighbor (who was gifted with all the big rocks I pulled out to add to his rock wall along one side of his property) helped with a bit.

So now it’s all dug, and kind of fenced in – I didn’t do a permanent fence because I want to get through a year or two and see if I want to upsize – or downsize.  Thus right now my perimeter fence to keep the deer out is just tall plastic netting.  And, it’s pretty much all planted.  I have planted tomatoes (four types), peppers (four types), watermelon, carrots, scallions, broccoli, spinach, a variety of herbs, corn, lettuce, pumpkins, sugar snap peas, and sunflowers.  I have also purchased some strawberry plants to fill in one last part that I didn’t plant yet, and those will be going in today.  Perhaps it’s a bit overzealous but the kids are totally digging it and I’m having fun.  If we have a day that’s actually sort of sunny and nice and without an imminent threat of getting my camera wet I will take a few pictures.

Hiding in my room

As a belated birthday gift, Frank’s aunt gave me a box of chocolates from the Czech Republic.  They, as a family in general, make frequent trips back to their mother-land and bring back with them assorted goodies that they can’t get stateside.

I have saved these chocolates and am now eating them while I blog, laying in bed after the kids were put to bed.  I could have eaten them on any other number of occasions in the week since I received them, but then I would have had to share them with little children.  And these are mine, dammit.

It’s funny as a parent the things I find I hide away from my kids.  Red Twizzlers often only come out late at night to keep them away from wee ones determined to get their share.  Most of my covert candy thievery also happens under the cover of dark — Halloween bags and Easter baskets pilfered after their guards have drifted off to sleep.  It makes me wonder what wondrous confections my own mom and dad kept hidden for enjoyment only when my brother and I were out of the house or asleep for the night.

Anyway, these chocolates that I received for my birthday, they are interesting.  Tastewise they are pretty good.  I’d best describe them as milk chocolate with a creamy nutty middle.  They are officially called “Laguna Nutsnougat” which, according to the translations into every European language on the back, translates to “Seafood with Filling”.  No, really.  But rest assured, they are only “seafood” because they are molded into oceanesque shapes, like seashells and starfish.  I’m not quite sure what the culinary Czech genius was thinking when he had his epiphany, but it must have gone something like this:  “Ahoy! [because that’s how they say ‘hello’]  I am thinking… we have a recipe for delicious nougat-filled chocolate bonbons.  Only to make them into straightforward chocolate shapes is so blah, so passe, so expected.  What to do, what to do… A-ha!  I’ve got it!  Let’s make them look like mollusks!  Nothing says ‘sweet confectionary bliss’ like shellfish!”  Seriously, I can’t look at them while I eat them.  Especially the mussels.  Ugh.

The second thing to note about these chocolates is the ingredient list.  In the U.S. here, we have something in many ingredient lists called “Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” which on the surface doesn’t seem all that offensive.   The Europeans, however, do not let their food manufacturers get away with such namby-pamby fru-fru food names.  They have to tell it like it is, it seems, because the second ingredient listed, after sugar, is “hardened vegetable fat”.  Yummy.

A small bit of advice

If you ever feel the slightest, possible twinge of any sort of stomach bug, or if anyone in your household is currently showing outward signs of gastroenteritis, do not – I REPEAT, DO NOT – eat bologna.  If you do indeed begin suffering from the bug, the bologna will wreak havoc with your digestive system the likes of which you have never experienced before and which you would not wish on your worst enemy.  The generated odors alone will have you begging for mercy.

I will spare you the details around how I found this out.  Just trust me.