Naps, for me, are a dream in themselves

Archived | March 30, 2011 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. I’d been fighting sleep all afternoon, and was in one of those drowsy states one finds oneself after a long day filled up with nothing of real importance. I’d done some spot cleaning and a fair amount of baking, and some thank you letters, but nothing really got me going until I turned on the show and there was some laughter and energy and I felt a semblance of normal.
I suppose I could have taken a nap. But when you have three children, a nap is more of a risk than rest. I’ve woken up with my face painted like a kitten, with a Post-It note reading “Take Me To Your Leader” slapped on my forehead, with all the pillows in the house piled high on top of me. I’ve been recorded talking in my sleep, videotaped while in the REM phase, and posed like the Statue of Liberty, complete with a turkey drumstick for a torch.
There was a last nap I had, and it was years ago. I’d fallen asleep folding clothes. Just tipped, there on the couch, and when I came to I couldn’t see. Someone had slipped a pair of Mr. Sundberg’s clean undergarments over my head, and it took a minute for me to get my bearings. I sat up and there ensued hysterical laughter. Wild, bellybustin’, kid laughter, and what could I do?
Naps, for me, are a dream in themselves, but lately I find the idea appealing. Perhaps because I’m growing older and I simply need more sleep. Maybe I’m needing a change in routine. And it’s possible that my children really have lost interest in me as a source of entertainment. Whatever it is, I’ve been thinking about naps and how they’re a Ticket to Anywhere for a Quick Little Visit. Like Umbria. Or an Alaskan forest. A canoe on the Brule River, or the front row at an Elvis Presley concert.
After that whole underwear incident, I’ve told the kids – when they urge me to do so–that I’ll nap when I’m dead. Until then, I’ll take a moment here and there, put my feet up, close my eyes to give ’em a rest, and breathe. Just resting awhile, until the next thing.
I love beans, and I love this soup. It’s easy, and tastes better the day after you make it,
to be honest. Serve it with some good bread and a fruit cobbler.
Bean Soup
1 1/2 cup dried beans
1 chopped onion
2 chopped carrots
2 chopped celery stalks
2 bay leaves
1 T fresh thyme leaves
Place above ingredients in 6 cups water in a pot over high heat.
Boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer until the beans are soft,
about an hour, adding more water if necessary.
Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle a bit of olive oil over before serving.

One Free Day

Archived | March 23, 2011 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. I was thinking for a while there that spring was here, and it is, since Sunday, officially Spring. But today it’s snowing and there’s no school and the kids are basking in the joy of One Free Day.
So what to do? How to spend it? My inclination is to stay put: read, do laundry, play games, bake, watch a movie, take a long hot shower, catch up on things, weed out too-small clothes from the kids’ drawers and closet, get things done. What I have to do, since Mr. Sundberg is in Tampa giving a talk titled, “Eight Steps to Happiness: Living an Authentic Life,” is shovel. There are only a few inches of snow out there, but it’s still coming down, and it’s wet and heavy and everywhere.
The big consolation today is that this snow won’t stay–no snow does, in these parts–and after the snow is moved, and the kids and I spend some time, I can visit my new Facebook page, a virtual home away from home, it seems. I never have been one to keep up with the latest thing, but the kids talked me into it and I’m certainly not averse to giving it a whirl. After all, you’ll find the words, “Most Likely to Try New Things” under my photo in the yearbook. It’s not “Most Likely to Succeed” or “Best Personality,” but along with the “Wooden Spoon” award, it suits me just fine. Sure does.
If you’re like me, you’ll find a mazillion ways to serve these biscuits. Cook up a savory sausage gravy, heat up sliced strawberries and sugar for a sweet sauce, sprinkle with cheese and serve with chicken, or simply spread with butter and a little bit of honey.
Whippin’ Cream Biscuits
2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup whipping cream
Combine flour and cream in a mixing bowl, just until blended.
The dough will be a bit stiff. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead
a bit. Roll to about half an inch thick and cut with a 2 inch cutter. Place biscuits
close together on a lightly greased sheet. Bake 10 minutes at 450. Makes a dozen biscuits.

A sweet reward after finishing our taxes

Archived | March 16, 2011 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. A sweet reward after finishing our taxes, filling out the FAFSA (our oldest is off to college next year and you have to have the FAFSA filled out by a certain time and filled out properly or you won’t be eligible for student aid – which we need – and it’s no short form), and finally getting the garage to an acceptable level of cleanliness. There’s more, but it doesn’t matter much after that earthquake on Friday way over on the other side of the world.
The kids wanted to go over there to help out, and I explained that people are helping and that three young people from Minnesota would do so much good but would also need food, water and shelter, and there isn’t any to spare over there at the moment, and the appropriate people are helping in the best ways they can. I explained that sometimes the best way to help when you can’t do much is to live a good life. Do the best you can. Small things.
We lit a candle for all those people. One candle and a thousand thoughts. This week, the kids have kept up with their homework, helped with the dishes and the laundry, read before they fall asleep. Mr. Sundberg cut extra wood and took some to Mr. Albert down the street, who has a hard time getting around, and I just made some bread and did some real deep thinking about how the world can break open and what it is to be alive and how good bread tastes and how sweet the voice of someone you love hollering, “There’s a worm on the driveway! Two worms!” How spring always returns. And it does.
These cakes are wonderfully light and crispy and best with butter and syrup or
powdered sugar. Serve with fruit for a lovely brunch, or after school for a warm snack.
Funnel Cake
3-4 cups all purpose flour
3 eggs
2 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
powdered sugar
vegetable oil (heat to 375°F)
Beat the eggs, then add the sugar and milk. Sift 2 cups of flour, the salt, and the baking powder and add to the milk, sugar, and egg mixture. Mix while adding more flour until the batter is smooth and not too thick. The funnel should have an opening of at least 1/2 inch and be able to hold around a cup of batter. Put your finger over the bottom and add about a cup of batter. Remove your finger and allow the batter to pour into the center of the oil.
Gradually swirl the batter outward in a circular motion, or criss-cross back and forth to make a cake about 7 or 8 inches round. Check it with a pair of tongs and turn it when the bottom becomes golden brown. When both sides are done, remove with tongs and let drip on a paper towel.
Funnel cake is usually served with powdered sugar on top. You could also use molasses, maple syrup, or fruit preserves.
Note: if you don’t have a funnel, try a Ziploc bag with a corner cut out.

Seems I was the perp in what he called “a hit and run” at the pastry shop

Archived | March 10, 2011 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. One fine repeat performance by all, and just the thing to end the first day of Spring Break. That’s right, folks. Coming up for air today at the halfway mark and things are going alright. At times, it’s a lot. There was a point during visit #3 from the police officer Monday morning where I thought I might need a headache pill, but the impulse passed.
Seems I was the perp in what he called “a hit and run” at the pastry shop. I was insistent about the care I’d taken while backing out. I’d even straightened out my car and backed out a second time in order to avoid bumping the car covered with black roses on my left. Seems I scraped it, lightly, allegedly, according to Larry, the police officer. Who likes French silk pie. He ate two pieces.
I told Larry if I thought I had hit the car I would have stopped. That there was no “hit.” A nudge, perhaps. At the most. He said the terminology exists for a reason. Apparently my license plate had been noted, and there was a slight scuff on my front side bumper. Which may have been there before. Or may not have. Perhaps.
Until we know more, things are good. No one was killed or knocked over. The kids have been having a nice stretch of days off from school, and we had a birthday party and went prom dress shopping and ate at the Chinese buffet, and had a pretty good discussion about how the important things aren’t things. Mr. Sundberg cut a record amount of wood over the weekend, thinking we were in for the Storm of the Century, and now he’s got some free time to relax since it’s hardly snowed at all.
I’m just plain enjoying the kids and their energy, and memorizing their words and their faces and how they throw back their heads when they laugh. I’ve been letting them sleep in, too. Why not? There’s no school this week, and why not relax awhile.
I make this soup on cold March days because it’s warm and filling and green, and a good way to disguise the spinach leaf if you’re cooking for young people.
Cream of Spinach Soup
Place 1 chopped onion, 2 peeled garlic cloves, 3 cups water and salt and pepper in a pot over high heat. Boil, cover, lower the heat and simmer until the onion is tender, about 10 minutes. Add 10 ounces chopped spinach and 1/2 cup parsley leaves; cook until the spinach is tender, 2 or 3 minutes. Add 1 cup plain yogurt and purée. Garnish: A spoonful of yogurt and chopped parsley.
Serve hot or cold. Hot gets my vote.

Fresh out of cough drops

Archived | March 2, 2011 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. I missed a good part of it, unfortunately, because the kids were each in his or her own stage of the flu and erupting accordingly. I found myself monitoring a steady flow of mucus, vomit, orange juice and tears, and only one of them came from my body.
If you’ve ever cared for sick children, you know what it means to feel ragged. To push it to the edge. Throw in a husband with a cough and your own sore throat and you’ve got the recipe for One Long Week. You can’t remember if you dreamed a thing or if it happened, and it’s all you can do to keep up with the laundry. Once you hit the pillow late in the night, a part of you stays awake, listening for even breathing, listening for the cough and retch, aware of every sigh and rustle and wheeze.
The one good thing about sick kids is the day they feel better. They sit up and rub their eyes and say, “I think I can go to school today.” Part of you hollers, Whoo Hoo! But what you say out loud is, “Are you sure? Let me check your temp. Let’s see how you feel after breakfast.” You don’t want to be too hopeful, but the hope is there. A good night’s sleep is on its way. Chatter is bound to return, and arguing, and the battle for the shower in the morning. You start thinking about who might need a ride after school, and what to cook up for dinner and soon the chaos of the ordinary day is back in full swing.
For now, though, the nights are a bit long, and we’re fresh out of cough drops. I’m off to re-load. Honey lemon is the current favorite, and more juice and Vitamin C tablets are on my list. I’m thinking I may splurge on some ice cream. Butter Brickle. Feels good on the throat, and why not? It’s not every day that everyone in the house is sick. Thank goodness for that.
It’s not every day that I’m hungry for potato salad, but it is certainly a welcome treat. Here’s a variation on the old standard, and perfect for this chilly time of year.
Twice Baked Potato Salad
5 lb. bag red potatoes
1 lb. maple flavored bacon (fried)
1/2 bag shredded cheddar cheese
heaping serving spoon of mayonnaise
Ranch dressing to desired consistency
Wash and cut potatoes into bite-sized cubes and boil soft. Drain and put in large bowl to mix the rest of the ingredients. Fry bacon, cool, and cut into small pieces. After potatoes and bacon have cooled, add the shredded cheese, mayonnaise, and Ranch dressing. Stir until coated.
Serve chilled, or warm in a casserole dish.