Saturday, October 31, 2009

Spooky



Since everyone is sharing spooky stories today, I'll add mine.

In the dark of night, when Sam and I are downstairs and everything is silent, sometimes one of us goes to put a disc in the DVD player.  So we push "open," and the tray opens, but before we can get the disc in . . .

THE TRAY CLOSES AGAIN!!!

Usually this happens two or three times.  It'll snap your finger inside if you're not careful.  And then, without warning, the tray will start working again . . . as if it never happened!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Food and the senses



Sam and I have been trying to think of foods that exemplify (? I don't know the word I want---encapsulate?  represent? manifest?) each of the five senses.  Obviously more than one sense is involved in eating anything, but we were using this question as a guide: is this part of the food (the smell, the texture, etc.) an essential part of the experience?  That is, if that element was missing would the experience of eating still be basically the same?

I feel like we didn't come up with good ones for all of them, but here are some of our ideas:
  • Sound: rice crispies; bacon (frying, and the crunch when you eat it); popcorn; root beer floats
  • Touch/texture (in the hand or in the mouth): angel food cake; hot chocolate (cold chocolate milk=totally different experience); cream puffs; toasted English muffins; artisan bread
  • Smell--(lots of foods NEED their aromas.  But which need them most?): onions/bacon frying; wassail; roast beef (in crock pot, for example); chocolate chip cookies; cheese; oranges/grapefruit
  • Sight: rainbow jello; vegetable bars; kiss cookies; aebleskiver (little Danish pancake balls); braided bread; colorful salads; colorful pizza
  • Taste--(what foods have a distinctive/intense taste that kind of overshadows the other elements?): lemon curd; truffles; curry; gingersnaps; pesto; chocolate basil cake
Okay, so, what did we leave out---what foods represent (? still not happy with the word choice) each of the senses for you?  And question #2: do we think about food too much in this family? :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Funny ha-ha



Have you ever read a book where someone is trying to say that something is "funny," meaning strange, and they say,
"That's funny.  Not funny- ha-ha, but funny- peculiar."


"Funny ha-ha."  I don't know why but that really bothers me.

Also, I now know it was a mistake to get Seb a pair of red underpants.  He likes them so much that he won't change them.

Also, I think it's weird that they do advertisements for Blu-ray DVDs [It is "blu" without the "e", right? Like that makes it super cool or something; "We're so futuristic, man, we've totally moved past 'e' endings!"] with a split screen, to show you the difference between regular DVD and blu-ray: like, this side is the bad blurry regular way and this side is the cool hi-def blu-ray way---except you're watching this all (bad side AND supposed blu-ray-only "good" side) on a regular DVD, right?  So doesn't that sort of undermine their whole point?

Monday, October 19, 2009

May be truncated


Sometimes I like abbreviating things.  (So you'd think I'd be "down with" the latest internet slang, LOL!  Unfortunately I don't know what most of it means.) 

Rach and I used to habitually refer to a certain hymn as "F.T.B.O.T.E." [That's Rachael, not Rachmaninoff.  Abbreviating has its perils.]  Sam, bless him, continues to delight me with the way he abbreviates as well.  Some of our standards:
  • What on earth="What on E.?"
  • Pacifier="Pacifee" or "Fee"
  • Aged parent (an affectionate title)="Aged P." (via P.G. Wodehouse, see also "Eggs and B.")
  • Egg McMuffins="Egg McMees"
  • Pillow=Pilaf (?)
  • Camera="tramvai" (not an abbreviation . . . hmm)
What do you abbreviate . . . and what DON'T you?  (Michael Burns, for example---see comments)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Muffindom

This made me laugh:

Employee on phone with customer: Do we have any books about muffins? You mean how to make muffins? We have cookbooks... (pause) No? (pause) I don't think we have books... Just... About muffins.

Long Island, New York
via Overheard in the Office, Oct 13, 2009


Muffins!  They're everywhere! (Yay, Ginna!)

And so, here's another of my favorite muffin recipes.  We made these for a daddy-daughter luncheon in my church class when I was 11 or 12.  My teacher, a very reserved and proper lady who labored valiantly to teach us the womanly arts, was a great cook.  (We also made Chicken-Wonton Salad---another favorite recipe---for this luncheon.)  Whenever I get out this recipe, I still think of mixing these muffins up in my teacher's sunny kitchen and tasting the delicious batter---which she allowed---though it must have pained her.  She was a good lady.

Brown Sugar Muffins (I usually double this recipe for our family---one batch makes 12-15 muffins)

½ cup soft butter or margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 c. milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Topping: (optional) (I never make the topping)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar.  Mix milk, egg, and vanilla together.  Then in a separate bowl, sift dry ingredients together.  Add milk mixture alternately with dry ingredient mixture to butter and sugar mixture. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full, sprinkle with topping if desired. Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes.



Thursday, October 15, 2009

Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Update: More pictures here
I've made lots of ice cream in my time.  (And eaten lots of it too, naturally.)  But whenever I saw a recipe for the custard-based kind, where you have to add egg yolks and cook it on the stove first, I just thought it probably wasn't worth the trouble.  I think I'd never tasted any of that kind (not homemade, anyway).

But recently I saw some recipes online that caught my eye, and finding myself possessed of some vanilla beans [I'd never used a vanilla bean before; have you?  They're cool.], I decided I might as well try the whole custard technique, just so I could know what it tasted like.  Well---it was AMAZING.  It seems sort of silly for me to sit here and rave about it, since if you're like me you've either already made up your mind that it can't be that great, or else you never make ice cream at all, or you've sworn off desserts, or whatever, but, I'm going to anyway.  If you're thinking of making any kind of ice cream, just try this kind first.  It is so good, and it is worth it.  WE LOVE IT.  We have made it several times now (and modified, in several other flavors---I'll try to post them soon) and it has been just unbelieveably good in every incarnation: with brownies, with lemon curd, with oatmeal fudge bars, with berry pie.  ("You eat a lot of desserts!" you are thinking.  "You are correct," I reply, smugly.) 


By the way (side note), I was so pleased today when I asked Seb if he was done with lunch and he replied, "Yep, I'm full and happy."  I want my kids to have healthy attitudes about food: try lots of things---stop when they're full---and most importantly ENJOY GOOD FOOD.  So I am glad when he shows he is learning those things, by being "full and happy" after meals. 


Okay.  Here is the recipe.  It's from the Pioneer Woman, so of course if you want lovely pictures to accompany your instructions, go here.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
3 cups half-and-half
2 cups sugar
8 large egg yolks
3 cups heavy cream

Heat half-and-half and 2 cups sugar in a separate saucepan over low heat, adding vanilla “caviar” to the mixture. (You can also drop in the scraped vanilla bean, just to extract all the flavor. Discard before moving to the next step.) Turn off heat when mixture is totally heated.
Add heavy cream to a separate bowl.
Beat egg yolks by hand or with an electric mixer until yolks are pale yellow and slightly thick.
Temper the egg yolks by slowly drizzling in 1 1/2 cups of hot half-and-half mixture, whisking constantly. After that, pour the egg yolk/half-and-half mixture into the pan containing the rest of the half-and-half mixture. Cook over low to medium-low heat until quite thick, stirring constantly. Strain custard through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl (to get any bits of egg or vanilla bean rind out), then pour into custard the bowl with the cream. Stir to combine.
Chill mixture completely (2 hours or overnight), then freeze in an ice cream maker until thick. Place container in freezer to harden for at least eight hours.

Prepare to be impressed.

This boy

doesn't need diapers anymore.
 
Now, now, I can't take all the credit.  He was ready (you can't toilet train a child till he's ready).


On the other hand, who was it that followed him around the house watching him like a hawk and doing nothing else for hour after boring hour?  And who said "Oh well, maybe next time" six billion times after he had accidents?  And who had to keep her countenance cheerful and encouraging while encountering strenuous resistance to the idea of "practicing" any more times?  And who had to maintain constant mental/emotional vigilance in order to hear any verbal cues faintly resembling the words "go bathroom" "dirty diaper" "toilet" etc.?  And who had to leap up to provide assistance while either a.) continuing to nurse a baby [difficult, but not impossible] or b.) extracting baby, mid-suck, from the breast and depositing her unceremoniously on the floor, thus inviting aforementioned baby's extremely vocal dispproval and/or bereavement? And who found herself repeating "do you still have dry underpants?" in her sleep?

Me.  That's who.  So go ahead and be impressed with me, too.

The mental vigilance is still needed (for occasional reminders), but the emotional vigilance (for remaining cheerful and positive after accidents, against all natural inclination) has become mostly unnecessary.  Hooray!

Or, as Malachi would and does say,
OO-WAY!


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Leaves, more of them

Would you like some more leaf pictures?  Here they are.  From a few different days.  Some of the colors are so bright, they don't even look real.  So beautiful!


We've done a lot of driving this Fall, but there are still so many places I'd like to see!  And it's just about too late now.  I told Sam next year he'll have to take a couple weeks off work so we can devote our whole time to seeing the leaves. :) 

(Going on drives is one thing I really love. [If Daisy falls asleep instead of screaming, that is.]  The boys are generally good in the car, and even if not, they're contained---so we can listen to music, and Sam and I can talk.  And we can do it even if the weather is cold.  And we can eat muffins or cookies while we do it.  Yay!)












(Weird clouds?)










Helpful


Here is what Sebby made for me.
"A little place to feed Daisy, and you have everything you need."

Evidently I need 5 large books, including "The Myth of Self-Esteem" and 3 large volumes comprising the Standing on the Promises trilogy (about Black Mormon Pioneers) (which latter books I finished recently, by the way, and I recommend them highly).  And two pacifiers.  Just in case.

I don't know what to do



Brownie is missing.  I keep thinking we'll find him, but we don't.  Where can he have gone? 

We have a Backup Brownie.  But I'm afraid if we get Backup Brownie out, Real Brownie will turn up, and all will be revealed.  Also, Backup Brownie looks newer (although not totally new---he's come through for us in the clutch before).

Friday, October 9, 2009

I share my good ideas with you

It's a good idea to keep paper by your bed so that you can write down ideas that may come to you in the night.  For example last night while I was falling asleep I had the idea to cover my face completely with Elmer's Glue, and then when it dried, peel it carefully off like a mask and use it for a Halloween Decoration.  Brilliant.

So there you go.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Good


Do you know what it is Seb is holding up?  A muffin.  Yum.

Some good things.

I know where all three of Daisy's pacifiers are right now.  ALL THREE!

Sam and I are working on brackets this week.  It's the Playoffs of whatever we decide: what are the best Fall desserts, best places to see leaves, best ice cream, etc.  We are having great fun testing it all.  (Some day I will post some pictures of the ice creams we've been making.  You might think this isn't the time of year for ice cream, but if so, I feel sad for you.)

Do you like the TV show Psych?  We've been watching it on Hulu.  HiLARious.

And a note I got (wrapped with a bow on it) from Abe:



Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bleak


(This looks like somewhere in China to me.  Not that I've ever been there, so what do I know?)

The tomatoes in our garden are dead.  The zucchini is dead.  The basil is black, black, black, and dead.  I can't stop thinking about them.  Why didn't I get over there and pick them one last time before they froze?  Why didn't I gather up a bunch of herbs to freeze for pesto or in ice cube trays?  I meant to find out about how to do that, and then I meant to do it.  It just all happened so fast!

I guess it's a good thing we're not actually depending on any of those crops for our sustenance, or our livelihood.  Let that be a lesson to me not to procrastinate the day of my repentance.

On a happier note, it turns out the leaves in the canyon are lovely even in the snow.






Tuesday, October 6, 2009

No devil's workshop here



I love General Conference.  You would think, if I loved it so much, I wouldn't have a hard time staying awake---but I do.  It's not that I'm not interested, but I'm just tired, so tired.  (This has been true for as many years as I have loved Conference, I think.  Since High School, maybe.)  Anyway, several years ago I learned that I can get through the entire [ha, first I accidentally typed "entired"---entired---get it, get it?] eight hours without falling asleep---if I have some work to do with my hands.  Taking notes isn't good enough, since I'm not writing constantly the whole time.  But crocheting is perfect---just mindless enough to let me concentrate on listening, but involved enough to keep me awake.

This discovery has been almost miraculous for me.  I love being able to pay attention to the talks without having to constantly prod myself awake, feeling remorseful, but exhausted, the whole time.  And for some reason my mind doesn't wander nearly as much when I keep my hands busy. 

Over the years, I've made a couple blankets, and a sweater for my mom (NOT very good---sleeves too long), and a bunch of little-girl purses.  But my favorite thing to crochet is tiny baby sweaters.  I can usually get one done in a weekend, which makes me feel like I've accomplished something.  I've sort of run out of babies to make sweaters for at the moment, though (or else they live in hot climes---or I'm afraid their parents are too fashion-forward to like them) so this year I made hats.  Hats!  Why didn't I think of it before?  Fast and easy (and eared---the baby ones, at least).  Love it.  I love crocheting in general but I especially love HATS.  I might even decide to crochet them more often than semi-annually.  (If you or someone you love needs a HAT, let me know.)

In case you're interested, Sam also needs something to keep him busy/awake during conference.  Here is what he did this year:



Cool, right?  (If you or someone you love needs to know the properties of light as it reflects off of different materials, let him know.)  In the meantime, cast your eyes upon this Daisy girl wearing a HAT:


Monday, October 5, 2009

Keep at it


(hard to get a good angle when you're holding a baby in one arm)

How am I handling four kids, you ask?

Back at it:
  • Making dinner
  • Laundry/Diapers
  • Occasional de-cluttering
  • Packing lunches
  • A little yard work (planting bulbs, weeding)

Still eluding me:
  • Regular showers
  • Wearing clean clothes
  • Making the bed
  • Friday cleaning days
  • Going anywhere
It'll come, right? :)