Saturday, June 28, 2008

Mmmm pizza

Rowan has "gym" class every Saturday, after which we usually run some errands and head home. Today we stopped for real Mexican at La Placita on 12th and Turner in Allentown--two corn tortillas dipped in chili-spiked pork fat, warmed on the grill and stuffed with crispy-juicy-spicy chicken. Flecked with cilantro and soft onions, they are divine. The dried beef version rocked my tummy, too. We had a sloppy-yummy side of refried beans sprinkled liberally with queso fresco, too, but they were too hard to eat in the car, so they await us in the fridge.

Then, a trip to Klein’s dairy for raw milk and the best ricotta cheese I’ve ever tasted. According to Lane, most ricotta is made from the whey left over from making mozzarella. They, instead, start with fresh, whole milk. It makes all the difference. It is not just an ingredient, but should really be eaten on its own, or simply dressed with a few drops of rich, golden honey.

Homemade pizza on the grill for dinner paid homage to the gorgeous dairy products. Extra thin crust that snaps when you bite it, too.

Our peas are coming in like gangbusters despite the wicked heat.

All this excitement followed by a nap in the tunnel.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


There are certain people, memories, situations that remind you to step outside of whatever is dragging you down and remember who you are at your center, what is important, and why you really are happy. They can be friends, strangers, a passing moment, spiritual words, a glint of sunlight, smells, sounds…anything. What they have in common is the ability to stop you in your tracks and bring perfect clarity. I like to call them touchstones. Thank you, my collection of touchstones.

So, a few of the blogs I read have been doing this “what I’m loving right now” entry. Figured I’d throw on my lamb outfit and follow along. I was tempted to do a "what I'm hating right now" just to be difficult, but I'm in too good a mood. Here’s what I’m loving right now…

1. Chantaine Royal Fig Deluxe Preserves

2. Cool mornings down by the river

3. Cherries

4. Indian paintbrushes

5. Froggy rain gear

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Kitchen djini

Rowan found a djini in the kitchen.

We uncovered a battered tin-topped table in the basement when we moved into our house. My mother and I "rescued" it from the trash pile to which it was bound and gave it a proper amateur refinish, leaving the character and charm of the dents and dings and intact. It now resides in our kitchen and functions as additional counter space when I bake.

As I washed the dishes the other day, Rowan discovered the stem end of our hand mixer beater fit perfectly in one of the unique holes in the wood. He persistently attempted to use the beater as a key to the accidental keyhole. Every so often he peered into the hole with one eye. All these machinations were punctuated by occasional demands spoken with authority and gusto (into the hole, of course). I can't tell you exactly what he was saying, for he was speaking in a tongue known only to children, djinis and other magical creatures. I did catch the word "out" a few times and asked him what he was doing. He, again, spoke a long string of works with conviction and wide-eyed seriousness, directed at me this time in answer to my query.

Apparently there was djini living in the table and he was trying to let him out. I can't say whether or not he succeeded. But, every so often, when I stroll through the kitchen, there is a beater sticking out of that hole in the table.

Maybe the djini was after the late-night oatmeal pecan cookies mama baked. I'm not sure what possessed me to begin not one, but two baking projects at 10:30pm last Thursday.

The warm rhubarb bars and aforementioned cookies were cooling on racks at 1:30am Friday and mama tumbled into bed at 1:35am. I'm sorry to say the rhubarb bars weren't worth the trouble. (All the beautiful rhubarb, ruined!) But the oatmeal cookies were. If you're ever feeling peckish late at night, or trying to lure a djini from under a tin table, these will do the trick...

Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies (adapted from the Joy of Cooking)

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 pound unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1-3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
2-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3-1/2 cups oatmeal
1 cup crushed pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Whisk first six ingredients in large bowl. In stand mixer, beat on medium until well blended the butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture just until combined. Gently stir in the crushed pecans and oatmeal. Drop heaping tablespoons of cookie dough onto lined sheets (about 3 incheds apart) and bake until golden brown and just set. The Joy of Cooking says 6-9 minutes, but mine always take 9-12 minutes. Remove when cookies look ready (and smell heavenly) and let cool on sheet for 5 minutes. Tranfer to wire racks or consume immediately. I can never seem to wait for that first taste, but these cookies are much better fully cooled and lined up beside a big mug of coffee.

Papa Bear

Daddyhood....the first moments remembered. Comparing "paws," telling tales, taking care of the mama bear. Watching your husband grow into a wise father is one of the greatest blessing and I am thankful. Happy Father's all the papa bears out there.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Eat food, mostly plants, not too much

Yes, I'm reading Michael Pollen’s In Defense of Food (just like everyone else and their brother). My opinion so far? It's repetitive and full of common sense "revelations" I'm pretty sure I didn't need Mr. Pollen to explain. I haven't quite figured what all the fuss is about, but, then again, I'm only 1/2 way through. His message is a good one, though, for folks that haven't thought much about what passes their lips. But, I have to wonder, are those the folks reading Pollen’s manifesto? The more information out there the better, I sing on are the sweetheart of the choir. One question: Where can I get a refrigerator with an extra-large crisper drawer?

I managed to steal away some private gardening time yesterday. The sun was warm (but not searing), the breeze was a cool whisper, and the boys were at the lake soaking away their daycare germs and workday worries. It felt good to do some good work. Look...I have proof...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hot orange juice

The heat is overwhelming on the East coast and its only mid-June. There are a few reasons I live in Northeast Pennsylvania and one of them is the supposed absence of endless, sticky days, when the sun is like hot orange juice that has begun to dry on your skin and the earth feels like she's holding her breath. I'm wilting, like our vegetable plants we've yet to get in the garden. Rowan is cranky. Mama's cranky. Papa's cranky. Luckily, we've managed to squeeze a few moments of laughter out of these drenching days...usually before 10am or after 4pm. I'm a firm believer in siestas, in general, and when the sun hits its peak, I would opt for a nice long nap in a breezy, shady corner of the yard. When I say nap, I do mean more of a rest. I’m not usually much of a napper, but a moment in which I can appreciate the intricate details of a spent seed pod from our maple tree or the serpentine movement of ladybug larvae is always welcome. Today I spent the minutes between 11:33 and 12:16 memorizing the crests and valleys of Rowan’s sleeping toddler face.

We didn't make it to the lake today, but we did spend both Saturday and Sunday afternoon submerged. By Sunday, Rowan was putting his face in the water himself. He also picked up two adorable mermaids—young, French, raven-haired sirens who were smitten with his approach (that would be to get real close and stare). I’d guess the elder at 6 years of age and the younger at 3 or 4. He, of course, preferred the older woman. Until Mama found a snail…then the girls were quickly forgotten. I can’t imagine that will last long.

Reports were calling for apocalyptic thunder, lightning, high winds and hail around dinner time, so we cooked in tonight. Our rosemary chicken which sounded so refreshing on the grill, roasted in the oven at 375 degrees F after a nice sear stove-top. I wouldn't be surprised if our kitchen reached just about that temperature by the time we sat down to dine. Mama wanted lemon-scented barley, but Rowan demanded "noo-noos" so whole wheat rotini it was. Papa topped it with a quick homemade tomato sauce that included lots of fresh herbs. Rowan’s review: “Mmmm….nummy noo-noos.” Also heard at the dinner table this evening, “BOCCLI! BOCCLI!” This from the broccoli monster that visited despite the heat...

We listened to the thunder rolling in the distance when we toured the garden after dinner, but we’ve yet to witness lightening, rain or hail, thank goodness. The temperature has dropped to a comfortable 74 degrees F, though, and a full breeze is tickling the curtains. I think it’s time to enjoy said breeze from my bed. Shade and sweet water…..

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tuesdays with Mama

Tuesdays I work from home. That means I work into the wee hours Monday night and into the wee hours Tuesday night so I can spend my Tues-day with the little bear. We try to make the most of it....gardening, baking, swinging, exploring. This is Rowan's garden. He digs, he buries, he moves dirt from here to there.

Today he discovered the wonders of thyme. We watered the thyme. We smelled the thyme. "Mmmm," he said. So we tasted the thyme. He asked for seconds and devoured the wooly stem promptly.

We also made sun tea. Green sun tea at Papa's request. After three glasses, he confessed he had a milkshake and cheeseburger on his way home from work. Luckily, the tea was a tasty penance.

We wrapped up a thoroughly delicous day with breakmaking--no-knead style. I'm proud to admit I haven't purchased a loaf of bread since December '07. Rowan prefers it raw and requests for "dough" are ceaseless.

Monday, June 2, 2008


Motherhood brought with it so many overwhelming emotions that words seemed so inadequate. I haven't yet been able to write about the experience of pregnancy, birth and baby-raising although I think and dream an awful lot of poetry. Rowan is 19 months old already and sometimes I wonder if I'll ever be able to properly express the wildly chaotic, deeply centering, full-tilt juiciness that is mama-hood. In the meantime, here are some simple words on nursing. In memory of those moments of which he's taking less and less...

I drink my mama's milk.
It's warm and sweet and good.
I snuggle in and latch right on.
There is no better food.
I pat her chest so soft and look into her eyes.
I know that I am loved with mama's milk inside.