31 August 2007

YouTube in the Office

Miss M.'s daycare is closed today, so the staff can make the changeover and be ready for the kids to move into their new classrooms on Tuesday. So she's in the office with me. (I felt guilty about taking the day off, because the auditors are here, and besides, she loves the adventure of taking the train to NYC.) And because she's a creature of habit (oh right, she's 3 and 3/4), she asked to watch ballerinas on my computer, because we'd done so the last time she was here. So, since I had Nureyev on the brain, as a result of all the press about the documentary that aired on PBS this week, I did a search on YouTube for stuff with Nureyev in it. And what to my wondering eyes did I find but Rudy dancing with Miss Piggy.

Miss M's critical verdict? Pigs don’t dance with people.

30 August 2007

CSA Week 13 - Vegetables with a Smile

The other day, while meandering about blogland, I found a smiley face made out of vegetables at Thyme For Cooking, with the instruction to pass it along. So when I got my vegetables home yesterday, I made a face while I catalogued the haul.

  • String Beans
  • Corn (4 ears)
  • Mustard Greens
  • Potatoes (3 big red ones)
  • Small Tomatoes (1 pint)
  • Medium Tomatoes (1 quart)
  • Red Italia Peppers (5)
  • Cucumber (1)
  • Garlic (1 head)
  • Red Onion (1)
  • Salad Mix
  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Parsley
  • Arugula

This is the first week without swiss chard in a long time. It's also the first time we've gotten either potatoes or mustard greens. And, unlike some other people, we're not overwhelmed with tomatoes. In fact, we're still buying extras on the weekend, because August is really all about tomatoes. I'd kind of like to be overwhelmed. We could fill the freezer with tomato sauce and roasted tomatoes, and eat well all winter.

P.S. Want to see some more vegetable smiley faces? Here's a whole slide show!

29 August 2007


This morning, I dropped Miss M. off at daycare and found her teacher in the kitchen removing all of the Mr. Potato Head pieces from the commercial dishwasher. It was a beautiful moment.

I don't know, maybe it's the lefty-commie-pinko in me, but I think daycare is a great thing. When Miss M. was first born, we were still living in Manhattan. I looked for a daycare in Manhattan, only to find that 1) there weren't any and 2) they had interminable waiting lists. I called an agency who sent me a list of all the daycare centers in Manhattan - it was one page long. One. I toured a really nice center near my office, great vibe, good recommendations. They had an 18 month long waiting list. And they started at 3 months. Let's see, that means you need to get on the list six months BEFORE conception.

There's an article about this NYC daycare problem in the September issue of Time Out New York Kids. In part, there are so few daycare centers because of the space issue - space is limited and real estate is expensive. Still, it's shocking to realize that in a city with more than 200,000 preschool-aged children, there are center based daycare slots for only 56% of the kids. And keep in mind that these are citywide numbers - I'm sure that if it were broken down by borough, there would be slots for way fewer than 56% of the kids in Manhattan.

So, because daycare was impossible back then, we ended up with a wonderful babysitter. Oh, okay, nanny - though I rather dislike that word. And then we moved out of the city and got another babysitter, until Miss M. was old enough for daycare. And it's a wonderful place.

I've written about her daycare center before, but I've been thinking about it again - partly because of Julie's Hump Day Hmm, and partly because it's transition time. Just like in big school, the kids move from one room to another in September. So Miss M. is about to move up to the oldest group - the group of kids who'll go to kindergarten in September of 2008. And, just like last year, she's nervous. "I don't want to be a C. I want to stay a B and teach the rules to all the new Bs." And she's having some transitional stress - more tantrums, more sleeping problems, more coming home and saying "S. isn't my friend anymore" (baloney) and "all the kids always blame me" (nonsense). But she's going to be fine. The new classroom is across the hall from the old one; and both of those groups share a bathroom and a playground. And the other day, the new teacher whispered to me "I've got her - look at the dress". And there she was, twirling around in all her glory, wearing a ratty, flouncy black nylon full slip from about 1965 - in pig heaven in her little black dress.

From now on, all I have to do to get her out of the house in the morning is remind her about the black dress.

I know that we've been incredibly lucky. It's a free-standing (i.e. not chain) non-profit daycare, Montessori-based, with smart and caring staff members, and (mostly) enlightened parents. They have a full time cook - which is, to me, a two-pronged benefit: I don't have to pack lunch and snack every day, and the teachers don't have to figure out which lunch belongs to whom. And the food is good - grilled steak in the summer, homemade chicken soup in the winter, baked ziti, roast pork - in other words, real food.

I only wish that all kids in the United States with working parents had such a great option for early childhood care. It's a crying shame.

28 August 2007

Competence and Integrity

Every year, the non-profit I work for has an audit - it's going on right now. In preparation, we send them reams and reams of paperwork, and answer many questions about our accounting practices. And every year, they send us a questionnaire, which is really supposed to be filled out by the auditor, not the client, and which includes the following question:

Does previous experience with the client indicate competence and integrity on the part of client personnel?

Why yes, of course the client is competent and oozing with integrity! I wouldn’t have it any other way!

27 August 2007

Cry It Out

Obviously, I'm sleep deprived and my brain has turned to mush. The clue in this morning's crossword puzzle read:

10 C.I.O.'s partner

I thought Ferber? Weissbluth? It took a shockingly long time to figure out that the answer was AFL.

26 August 2007

Saint Bernard

Last night, I went in to collect Miss M. from the bathtub and found her on her hands and knees, collecting the baby elephants by mouth and depositing them on their floating mama's belly. "What are you doing?", I asked. "I'm a saver dog!"

If that means I've given birth to a Saint Bernard, will she fetch me brandy in my dotage?

25 August 2007

I love the Internets

W. and I were having a discussion about calculators this morning. It had spun off from a conversation as to the appropriateness of a school system dictating the precise numbers and types of supplies a child needs to arrive with for the first day of school. I don't remember any requirements at all in elementary school back in my day, and by the time you were older, it was just common sense - a three ring binder was going to be helpful, and maybe some folders, and yeah, a pen or two. But 50 sharpened pencils and 4 pads of Post-Its and five plastic file folders and a ream of paper and a bottle of Fantastik and a box of Kleenex? There's something just wrong about that. What are my taxes buying, anyway? Mandatory school supplies becomes like some kind of regressive tax.

Anyway. I then offered that requiring a fancy graphing calculator would be appropriate for certain math or science classes, and somehow we got onto the subject of calculators, and the Bowmar Brain (an early calculator, which did almost nothing and cost like $100 in 1971), and the Sharp that lives in my desk drawer. I said I'd had that calculator in high school - W. insisted that it couldn't be that old. So, to get to the point, i.e. why I love the internet, I googled my calculator and found that it's from 1977. And yes, that means I had it in high school. And it still works fine.

I do so love that there are fanatics out there creating on-line museums to vintage electronics. It makes it so much easier to win arguments.

24 August 2007

The Little Ford

Now that I’m a grownup, I drive a sober Swedish car – a Saab 900 from 1996, with a stick shift and a hatchback and a large pile of cracker crumbs in the backseat. It’s nimble, it gets good gas mileage, it has a six CD changer. What more could a girl want?

More. I want charm. I want magic. I want my heart to sing when I sidle up to my car in the parking lot.

And once upon a time, and really for a rather long time, 17 years to be precise, I had such a car. A little Ford Fiesta. It lived on the streets of NYC and looked like hell as a result. But it went like stink all day long, got amazing gas mileage, and was surprisingly capacious for a small car.

And it had charm. It didn’t have air-conditioning, but it did have those little tilting vent windows. It had a dent on the nose where I ran (gently) into the back of an (empty) school bus in stop-and-go traffic on the Long Island Expressway when I leaned over to get my Tab. Its gas gauge was idiosyncratically pessimistic – it had about a ¼ tank left when the gauge read empty – and all too easily one could be lulled into a false sense of security and then, oops, run out of gas on the FDR Drive. To lock the door, you had to open the handle while pushing down the lock button – so I developed a second nature method of opening the (driver’s side) door with my right hand while pushing the button down with my left elbow.

And the car was magic. I’ve written about it once before, about the time the muffler fell off. Another time, W. and I were driving leisurely through rural Pennsylvania, near the Water Gap, on a lovely Sunday afternoon, before cell phones were ubiquitous. He was driving, and noticed something awry, and determined that the car was burning up a wheel bearing (he knows these things). He pulled off the road near someone’s barn and we scratched our heads as to what to do next. With that, the barn doors opened and a guy came out. “Can I help you?” “Well, we’ve blown a wheel bearing.” “Come with me, and bring the jack.” With that, the guy takes off across the road and into a field behind another barn. There in the field: another white Ford Fiesta, junked, abandoned, rusting. They jacked up the parts car, pulled off the wheel bearing, and trotted back to where my little Ford was waiting. Transplant in place, $20 to our savior, we went on our way, marveling at our luck, and at the magic of the little car.

And possibly the best thing about the little car? When it was finally time to part with it, its floorboards were rotting out and driving through a puddle on the Cross Island Expressway caused the car to sputter to a halt, meaning that we made that Thanksgiving traffic jam, I’m sorry to say. But, through the miracles of the internet, we found some crazy people in New Hampshire who were racing Ford Fiestas, and they came to NY and paid me $400 for the little car, $400 so it could go off to another life as a racing car. What a way to go, eh? So much better than the ignominious junkyard that most cars go to when they die. A race car. My little Ford.

Someday, sooner than later, the Saab is going to go. Its clutch is weak, the display for the climate control (but not the control itself) is shot, and it really needs new tires. And I’m at a loss as to what could possibly replace it, especially since the poor Saab has never quite wormed its way into my heart the way the little Ford did.

You may well ask why I’m writing a paean to a Ford Fiesta – a car that’s not been available in the US since, oh, 1980. Well, MotherGooseMouse had a post today about her dear, departed Pacifica – and it turned out that her post was in response to a blog blast by the Parent Bloggers Network announcing Car Blabber at Ask Patty – and one thing led to another. Somehow, I don’t think this is what they’re looking for, but it’s what came to mind. I did rather like that Ford.

23 August 2007

CSA Week 12 - Tomato Season

Now we're talking - we're getting heirloom tomatoes from the farm. We're still a little overboard on peppers, though I invented a stuffed pepper variant tonight. I was trying for something like tamales in peppers (instead of corn husks), but it was a little too soupy inside. I made a small amount of polenta, mixed it with leftover corn, a tiny bit of leftover sausage, chopped tomato, minced basil, a little grated cheddar and sautéed onion and garlic - and that got stuffed into the peppers. To speed things up, I actually cooked the peppers in the "waver" for about five minutes, before the stuffing and baking. Delicious, but not quite what I envisioned.

  • 4 ears corn
  • green beans
  • 1 pint Ping Pong tomatoes (red)
  • 1 quart small brown tomatoes (there was a name, I can't remember what though)
  • 2 Black Brandywine Tomatoes
  • 6 sweet red Italia peppers
  • 2 poblano peppers
  • lettuce
  • swiss chard
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 onion
  • 1 head garlic
  • basil

Tonight, I think we'll have corn on the cob and a tomato tart. I made a peach & blueberry pie over the weekend, and there was enough leftover pie crust for a tart shell, which is sitting in the freezer waiting for something wonderful to happen.

22 August 2007

The Good Grey Lady Has Gone Colorful!

Imagine my surprise, while reading the newspaper of record this morning, to discover, in the front page article about the phone call made to Eliot Spitzer's father, that the New York Times had printed the word shit. I believe that the world has just shifted on its axis.

21 August 2007

What's in a Name?

I've always had a nickname. Really, I was born with one - I was named something formal with the intent, acted upon, of calling me something else. But then, as names beget nicknames, my nickhame has begotten what are really secondary nicknames. My boss calls me Magnesium. Lots of people have called me Magnolia. But for as long as I can remember, one of my nicknames has been Magpie.

magpie (noun)*
Etymology: Mag (diminutive for Margaret) + Pie

  1. any of a number of birds (genus pica) of the crow family, related to the jays and characterized by black-and-white coloring, a long, tapering tail, and a habit of noisy chattering
  2. a person who chatters
  3. a person who collects odds and ends

I'm not a bird. I'm not much of a chatterer. But I am very much a collector of odd bits and pieces. Did I become that way because of my nickname?

*Webster's New World Dictionary, Second College Edition ,1970

20 August 2007

Monday Miscellany

Here's the subject of a spam I received this morning:

Barbra Streisand goes bra-less

Now, why would anyone care to see such a thing? On the other hand, are they making some subtle play on the unorthodox spelling of her name?

* * * * *

Is this an empty threat?

Me: Go put your pajamas on.
Miss M: No!
Me: Then I won't read you any books.
Child dashes off and puts on her pajamas.

* * * * *

We've been having some work done at the house, but only on the weekends, because that's when the worker guys are available. Yesterday, Miss M. went outside to show them her umbrella (it wasn't raining, she just loves the PINK umbrella). She marched right up to the three Peruvians and said "espera". They were hysterical. Apparently, she's learned a handful of useful phrases from Dora/Diego, and from one of her daycare teachers. But I'm not sure how she figured out that the worker guys speak Spanish. It's not like she's been mixing concrete with them.

17 August 2007

Around and Around

What a week it's been.

On Sunday, Teryn dubbed me a Rockin' Blogger. It made my day when I found out about it on Monday - especially because I was home sick with some nasty cold/flu thing, and feeling enormously sorry for myself. Thank you, Teryn. My general sense of self doesn't really think I'm all that rockin', but hey, I'll take it! Maybe I'm cooler than I think I am. After all, I drive a stick shift, make my own granola, listen to Pink Martini and paint my toenails gunmetal gray. Interestingly, this Rockin' Blogger thing seems to have begun as a Rockin' Girl Blogger thing, until Oh, The Joys got a hold of it. So thank you, Oh, The Joys, for getting that girl stuff out. It's much cooler this way.

Then, yesterday, Slouching Mom gave me a Community Involvement Award for Schmoozing. That one got me all choked up. She is an angel of the blog world, dropping in and leaving astute, germane comments all about - you could indeed say she's faithful like she said of herself. Furthermore, she made the most lovely connection between The Velveteen Rabbit and the blogosphere - the comments make it Real, 'cause otherwise it's just writing in a vacuum. Thanks, SM. You're a mensch. And I'd say I want to be like you when I grow up, except that I've slouched past 40 by a few (six!) years.

And now for the awards:

To BOSSY, a Rockin' Blogger - because she is just beyond cool and too funny, and because she drives her teenage son around before dawn without coffee.

To Aurelia, a Schmooze - because she gives comfort and guidance to many many people struggling with infertility, and because she's going to schmooze her way into Canadian politics because she knows more than the legislators that she's up against.

And because it's Friday afternoon and it looks like rain, here's a sparkling, heartfelt, eternal thank you!

16 August 2007

CSA Week 11 - A Surfeit of Peppers

After last week's CSA pick-up, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed - could we eat all the vegetables in a week? But we plunged forward and used almost everything up in: ratatouille, a huge frittata, stuffed peppers with the green peppers from weeks 9 & 10, swiss chard in everything, salads, a big bowl of gazpacho and I can't remember what else. By Wednesday morning, all we had left was a bit of basil (which I gave to the cook at Miss M's daycare), a bit of cilantro (which I gave to Miss M's grandmother, thinking I'd get more this week), and enough lettuce for a small salad.

I confess to being a little stymied this week - we now own 11 peppers of three different varieties. Corn, string beans, tomatoes, salad, even the swiss chard - easy. All those peppers? I dunno. Stuffed peppers again, I guess.

  • Sweet Corn (4 ears)
  • Green Beans
  • Onions (2)
  • Garlic (1 head)
  • Banana Bill Peppers (6 - hot)
  • Italia Peppers (3 - long red sweet)
  • Bell Peppers (2 - green)
  • Juliet Tomatoes (pint)
  • Beefsteak Tomatoes (quart)
  • Swiss Chard
  • Salad Mix
  • Basil
  • Cilantro (well, we should have had cilantro, but W. "forgot" to get it)

Here's a sketch as to stuffed peppers - it's a stretch to call it a recipe:

Take four peppers and cut the tops off so that they can be reused as hats for the peppers. Clean out the white ribs and the seeds. Meanwhile, chop and saute a small onion. Toss some chopped swiss chard in with the onion until it wilts (that is, if you have swiss chard around needing to be put in something). Oh, and toss some minced garlic in there too. Whack up a small tomato. Mix half a pound of ground lamb (or beef) with the tomato, the onion/chard/garlic, and 1/3 cup uncooked white rice. Add salt and pepper. Add some minced fresh herbs if you've got them. Stuff this mixture into the peppers and put their hats back on. Use the smallest baking dish you can fit them in. You'll need some liquid, about a cup: a mix of tomato juice, wine, lemon juice and olive oil would be nice. Not too much oil or acidity. Pour your liquid over everything and cover the baking dish with foil (or its lid, if it has one). Bake at 400° F for about a half hour, then uncover and bake for another half hour. Serve warm, not hot.

15 August 2007

O Julia, Julia, cook and nifty wench...

Today would have been Julia Child's 95th birthday.

Champaign Taste is having a bloggy anniversary party for Julia and I just had to join in. Julia's - yes, I never met her, but she's Julia to me - Julia's been a part of my life since I won two prizes in a junior high school French class cooking competition - using her recipes for onion soup and an apple clafouti.

I've posted a couple of her recipes over the past year, for said apple clafouti, and for garlic mashed potatoes. And my very first post was her crack about butter.

Her cookbooks take place of honor on my cookery bookshelf:

  • Mastering the Art of French Cooking, volumes 1 and 2
  • From Julia Child's Kitchen
  • The Way To Cook
  • Baking with Julia

I grew up with a cartoon framed in my mother's kitchen - a woman swilling straight out of the sherry bottle while her husband asks "Been watching the French Chef again?".

And my standard pie crust, the one I make with my eyes shut? Straight from Julia:

2 cups flour
1 t. salt
1 T. sugar (if it's for something sweet, leave it out otherwise)
1 stick unsalted butter
3 T. shortening or lard
2-3 T. ice water

Combine in the usual manner.

For her birthday in 1961, her husband Paul wrote a sonnet for her - here 'tis, if you've never had the pleasure.

O Julia, Julia, cook and nifty wench,
Whos unsurpassed quenelles and hot souffles,
Whose English, Norse and German, and whose French,
Are all beyond my piteous powers to praise --
Whose sweetly-rounded bottom and whose legs,
Whose gracious face, whose nature temperate,
Are only equalled by her scrambled eggs:
Accept from me, your ever-loving mate,
this acclamation shaped in fourteen lines
Whose inner truth belies its outer sight;
For never were there foods, nor were there wines,
Whose flavor equals yours for sheer delight.
O luscious dish! O gustatory pleasure!
You satisfy my taste-buds beyond measure.

Julia, thank you and Happy Birthday.

14 August 2007

Sleep Woes

Oh, I can sleep just fine.

But the child. She only wants to sleep with us - really, only with me. And it's not that we mind her being in the bed with us - it seems natural, somehow. And I know we're not alone - I was happy to read Jennifer Niesslein's piece in the summer issue of Brain Child, to learn that her almost seven year old still sleeps with them. He says "I am never ever going to sleep in my own room. It's boring there." Oh yes, sounds like my almost four year old: "There are no real people there. I am lonely for you."

I know that she will eventually move out of my room and back into her own sweet bed.

No, the problem is that she just won't go to sleep. We read books, we sing songs, I rub her back. She wiggles, demands covers, rearranges her stuffed animals, talks to them, tries to talk to me, flips around so her head is at the foot of the bed, kicks out from under the covers, builds a fort with the pillows. In short, anything but sleeping. If I try and put her to bed in her room, she does the same thing, but eventually gives up and comes looking for her grownups. This bedtime nonsense can go on for hours before she finally conks out.

I've re-read Ferber and Weissbluth - there's nothing of use. "Cry It Out" doesn't work if the kid can climb out of bed, turn on the light and open the door.

I don't know what to do.

12 August 2007

4 Simple Recipes

S. at Rhymes with Javelin tagged me for a recipe meme. Food. Cooking. Recipes. I'm in! So, here are four incredibly simple things to have in your arsenal - they don't make a meal taken as a foursome, but any one of them will enhance a meal.

1) Creamed Leeks
This makes a great simple side dish for an autumnal meal.

Cut the green tops off, cut the leeks down the middle and wash well, put them cut side down in a baking dish, and pour heavy cream over so that it's about half way up the leeks. Bake until the the leeks are done and a little browned.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

2) Real "Jell-O"
This is just as easy as the kind from a box, and you feel like a million bucks for using real juice. Make it in little molds for extra points.

2 cups fruit juice
1 envelope (1/4 ounce) unflavored gelatin

Pour 1/2 cup of the fruit juice into a medium glass bowl or measuring cup and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let stand for 1 minute.

 In a medium saucepan, bring the remaining 1-1/2 cups fruit juice to a boil. Stir into the gelatin mixture until dissolved. Pour into individual bowls or into one bowl. Chill until set.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

3) Blueberry Tart
This tart is basically half cooked and half raw berries, with the cooked ones holding the whole thing together.

1 quart of fresh blueberries
3 T. cornstarch
½ cup sugar
fully baked tart shell, ~9”

Put half the berries in a saucepan with the cornstarch, sugar and a splash of water. Cook gently until most of the berries have burst and the mixture is thick and gloppy looking. Stir in the remaining uncooked berries and spread gently in the tart shell. Eat.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

4) Non-Traditional Hollandaise
This is adapted from Harold McGee, food scientist extraordinaire. Try a cook-off – one person does this, and someone else does it the tedious decreed way. This one is much easier and the results are great.

2 egg yolks
1 stick of butter
2 T. lemon juice
½ t. salt

Cut the butter into 1 T. chunks. Place the egg yolks, lemon juice and salt in a cold saucepan, and beat together thoroughly. Add the chunks of butter, place the pan over moderate heat, and begin whisking gently. Control the heat so that the butter melts gradually and evenly into the yolk base. Once all the butter has melted, continue heating and whisking until the sauce just thickens.

The rules:

1. Let others know who tagged you.
2. Players start with 4 recipes they especially like.
3. Those who are tagged should post these rules and their 4 recipes.
4. Players should tag 4 other people and notify them they have been tagged.

So, I hereby tag: Bipolar Lawyer Cook, Pinknest, Antropologa, and Crunchy Granola. I'm looking forward to another 16 simple recipes!

10 August 2007

Book Karma

Midlife Mama led me to Overwhelmed with Joy, who started a Book Exchange. I love this idea. It's kind of like PaperBackSwap.com, but for a smaller, more personal audience. The full rules are at Joy, but the quick synopsis is: I'm giving away a copy of Anne Tyler's Back When We Were Grownups. If you want it, leave me a comment on this post by Thursday August 16. I'll pick a random winner and mail you the book. One thing, make sure your email address is available, either in the comment or on your own blog. The only requirement is that you pass the book along when you're done - either through a Pay It Forward post of your own, or just giving it to someone who wants to read it. Obviously, this is on the honor system. But we're honorable like that, right?

Edited 8/17 to add: Nancy wins the book!

09 August 2007

Hermione and the Big Funnel

I feel a little like Hermione, knitting hats for the house elves. I finished another two little hats - I'm getting better at the circular needles, and at doing regular decreases. Both of these, in true magpie form, incorporate bits of yarn that were wrapped around Christmas presents last year: the hairy yarn in the red hat, and the green stem on the other.

In the aftermath of the release of the final Harry Potter book, there was a piece in the Times about the many Chinese frauds and imitations and spin-offs. I think my absolute favorite was "Harry Potter and the Big Funnel". Nothing so exotic as sorcerer's stones or deathly hallows. Nope, a big funnel. Those crazy Chinese!

PS: That Times link probably won't work, unless you've got Times Select, which the New York Post says is soon to be a thing of the past. Nice that the Post broke that story, not the Times, huh?

What Will They Think Of Next?

I think this goes in Mir's Retail Gone Wrong category - liquid dish soap with an air freshener built into the bottom of the plastic bottle. WRONG. On so many counts, just WRONG.

08 August 2007

CSA Week 10

The CSA to which we belong sends out a weekly newsletter. The farmer is occasionally practical but more often philosophical in his missives. In this week's letter, he riffed off a discussion of grass/animal and human/animal relationships, including a quote from a book called Soil Fertility and Animal Health which opens with the line "all flesh is grass". Immediately, the second movement of the Brahms Requiem earwormed its way into my head - "Denn alles Fleisch ist wie Gras". Despite having read Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma last year, which includes a visit to a "grass farm" in Virginia, I'd never before made that connection between the biblical "all flesh is grass" and the organic farmer's cycle of grass feeds animals, animals feed people, animals fertilize grass. It required Brahms. I only wish I knew in which box the CD is hiding.

  • Corn (6 ears)
  • Fairytale Eggplant (5)
  • Italia Sweet Peppers (2)
  • Green Peppers (2)
  • Juliet Tomatoes (pint)
  • Golden Rave Tomatoes (quart)
  • Cucumbers (2)
  • Green Beans (quart)
  • Chard
  • Salad Mix
  • Basil
  • Cilantro

We are starting to get behind the produce. For dinner tonight, we'll have a quiche with last week's chard, and a salad with the remainder of last week's salad greens. And there's still eggplant and green peppers left from last week. At least I used last week's squash yesterday. And, I even liked it!

Sauteed Yellow Squash

1 onion, chopped
olive oil
3 yellow squash, quartered the long way and sliced ~ 1/4" thick.
1 tomato (or a handful of little ones), chopped
1/4 cup verjus (or wine with a splash of vinegar)
1 scallion
handful of minced basil
salt & pepper

Saute the onion in the olive oil. Add squash and cook for a bit. Add tomato and verjus. Add scallion, basil, salt & pepper. Don't overcook the squash. Eat.

Wednesday Whimsy

Yes, Warhol painted me back in...oh wait, that's from Photo Booth. The little camera on the laptop stares at me, so I thought I'd take my picture.

07 August 2007

What Kids Call Adults

The kids at daycare figure out which mommy/daddy belongs to which kid pretty quickly, but what the parent's name is takes a little longer. So, when parents show up, there's a lot of "Hi, Joe's Mommy" and "There's Jane's Daddy".

Next door to us, there's a family with identical twin girls who are a little bit older than Miss M. She can't figure out which one is which, and frankly, I think their father gets it right about 50% of the time. So, she doesn't use their names much: she calls them "the children", as in "Can I go to the children's house?".

Last night, I was in the kitchen, she was in the living room, and W. was outside. All of a sudden I hear her calling out the window:



The Children's Daddy, hi!


Sure enough, there was the children's daddy, outside talking to W.

05 August 2007

Amanda Hesser is stalking me!

There's no other explanation. A few months ago, I posted about David Eyre's pancake...soon thereafter she wrote about it in the Times magazine "Recipe Redux" column.

On Wednesday, 7/26 I posted about our summertime staple pasta dish - something we invented together, W. and I. On Sunday 7/29, Hesser had another "Recipe Redux" column featuring "Pamela Sherrid’s Summer Pasta" - almost identical to mine, yet way fussier.

Skip hers. Try mine.

04 August 2007

Puff the Magic

The child, she is obsessed with Puff. It's all she wants to hear in the car and it's what she asks the music guy at school to sing (so she can sing into his microphone in front of her classmates, the little ham).

So when I wandered into Barnes & Noble last week looking for a book that the nearby independent children's bookstore didn't have (which made me feel bad, because I was all set to give them my money for a full-priced book, which they didn't have in stock and seemed to have no intention of ordering) and saw that they had a mess of dragon books - perhaps as some loose Harry Potter tie-in? - and one of those books was a new illustrated Puff, the Magic Dragon complete with a CD of the song, I had to buy it.

And it's quite sweet. The text is just the lyrics to the song, with lush full-page paintings as illustration. The sadness in the song, where Puff crawls into his cave because Jackie Paper has outgrown him, is ameliorated in the book by the appearance of a new playmate for Puff at the end. And that, to me, works in the context of the original song, which ends with an upbeat reprise of the chorus.

Edited to add: Snopes says there's NO drug references in the song. I do so love Snopes.

03 August 2007

Friday Snark and Anti-Whine

It's hot, I'm cranky, the email server at work is screwed up and I had to fire someone today.

The Times had a box on the front page announcing that they were cutting the page width from 13.5" to the "national newspaper 12-inch standard", but that this would mean "somewhat fewer words per page". How many fewer? 11.11%? That's a lot less news that fits to print. Or maybe they'll print the same amount of news, but take out every 11th word?

Gelsey Kirkland's lips are even worse in person than in photos.

Anti-whine: My favorite sandwich shop has bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches back on the menu - because it's August and there are great local tomatoes available. Yum.

02 August 2007

CSA Week 9 - A Plethora of Swiss Chard

The tomatoes are coming in, there was no corn this week, but they are still going strong on swiss chard. Alas, I still have swiss chard left from last week.

  • Red Onions (3)
  • Chard
  • Salad Mix
  • Green Peppers (2)
  • Juliet Tomatoes (pint)
  • Beefsteak Tomatoes (2)
  • Squash (3)
  • Cucumber (1)
  • Green Beans (quart)
  • Basil
  • Cilantro

But: here is a nice simple recipe to use up all that chard that the CSA keeps sending. The dough is really easy: it uses olive oil instead of butter, and just gets squished into the pan. I've tossed in a few crumbs of bacon if there's some leftover from breakfast. Some pignoli would also be excellent. Make it first thing in the morning - it's a great light lunch.

adapted from "Bistro Cooking" by Patricia Wells

For the Pastry
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup water

For the Filling
1 pound swiss chard leaves (or you could substitute spinach)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Make the pastry: Combine the flour and salt in a medium-size bowl. Stir in the water and then the oil, mixing until thoroughly blended. Knead briefly. The dough will be very soft and moist. Press the dough into a 10" loose-bottomed metal tart tin. I find it easiest to take about half the dough and pat it out on the bottom, and then break off small chunks of the remainder, roll them into snakes, and squish those in place for the sides. Just try to seal the cracks and holes as you go.
  3. Prepare the filling: Wash the chard leaves, discarding the center stems of the big leaves. Coarsely chop the leaves.
  4. Place the chard in a large, shallow skillet and season with salt and pepper to taste. Over low heat, wilt the chard and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. It won't need much salt; the parmesan adds plenty of saltiness.
  5. Combine the eggs and the cheese in a medium-size bowl; mix until thoroughly blended. Stir in the chard and mix well. Pour the vegetable mixture into the prepared pastry shell.
  6. Bake until the crust is golden and the chard mixture is firm and browned, about 40 minutes. Serve at room temperature.

01 August 2007

(in)fertility extras

1. IVF drugs are expensive. For the third and last cycle, we were lucky enough to get all of the stims donated - a handful of vials of Repronex from a nurse at Cornell, a huge batch of Follistim from an internet friend in NJ (who, at that time, I'd never met in person), some more Follistim from a NY friend (passed under the table at a Starbuck's), and more Repronex plus a huge bag of assorted syringes from another IF compadre in NY. I did have to buy the microdose Lupron and the trigger, but I think the cycle was blessed by the good karma of all those donated drugs. When I was done, I passed on the extra Follistim to another friend (under the table at a Mexican place in Grand Central), and she got pregnant on her next cycle. And I turned in all the extra syringes to the RE's office for them to use in training classes.

2. Peer support is really important. It's one thing to talk to friends and family, but talking to people who've been through the process, or are in the middle of things, is a good way to learn things and share experiences good and bad. Through on-line resources like Resolve, Inciid, and IVF Connections, you may find peers who are local or age-similar or diagnosis-compatible. And, of course, there's blog-land: there are lots and lots of infertility blogs.

3. A hot washcloth compress immediately following an injection of progesterone in oil is a wonderful thing.

4. Don't forget about taxes. Specifically, infertility treatment is a medical expense that can be included on your tax return if you meet the threshhold (meaning that your expenses are more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income) and you're intemizing deductions. In each of the two years that we were spending piles of money on drugs and doctors and procedures, W. and I filed our taxes separately, because the threshhold against only one income was lower and we could deduct more of the medical expenses.