24 December 2009

Last Minute Christmas List

I just found Cecily's wish list in her back-pack.  Here it is, with first grade spellings maintained:

*sel phon
*500 bux
*swimming pool
*yoyo boll

and, best of all:


I'm running out to the store right now.

Merry Christmas!

05 December 2009


Even though I cringe when my kids bring home their fifth/sixth grade five paragraph essays with the thesis repeated in both the intro and conclusion, a practice I have to undo in every writing class I teach later on down the road, this particular example of thesis restatement transcends with it's incredible cuteness:

Dear Mom and Dad,

Doesn't everyone love a family bike ride? Or a beautiful peace of art?

or even just a great pair of shoes? Well those happen to be the 3 things I want for christmas and I'm about to tell you why I want those things.

The first reason I want a bike is because we live in Provo and if I had a bike I could ride so many places like school. It would also be better for the earth. And plus I've always wanted a bike.

The second thing I want for Christmas is a set of markers. The first reason is Grandma and Grandpa always ask me to draw pictures for them but all my markers are kind of dried out so I gave them to Moses and Cecily. And if I get a big set of markers I won't have to get markers for school.

The next thing I want for christmas is simply a couple of pairs of shoes. The first reason is, winter is coming and I'm going to need some good shoes, and also there are these shoes called Uggs that I really want.

Those are the reasons why I want shoes, a bike and a set of markers.



24 November 2009

winter squash and root gingered soup or if you think i have a squash fetish you would be right

Last night I felt my stride once again in the kitchen (it's been gone for a while) when I created this soup in honor of my mom and dad's arrival for Thanksgiving, which brought me an unexpectedly exuberant feeling of joy during a dark few weeks of life.  

I had only a butternut and a blue hubbard left from the Farmer's Market (now closed for the season, but opening for a single holiday market on Friday, so I can hopefully procure more squash) and decided to make them into a soup.  The farmer who sold me the blue hubbard told me they were best combined with other root vegetables because they were too mild to stand on their own.  After tasting them, I'm not sure I agree with her, but I'd already started the carrots and roasted the butternut squash, so I went ahead with my plan to combine a variety of squash and vegetables.  I suppose you could leave the tomatoes out, but I like the balance of the acid brings to the sweetness of the squash ( I sometimes find butternut soup cloying).  This soup is quite easy even though you need to plan on roasting time for the squash--you can use that time to make a salad, set the table and get everything else ready for the soup:

Winter Squash and Root Gingered Soup

½ stick unsalted butter

2 medium yellow onions, chopped

6 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and grated

1 small butternut squash, roasted

1 small blue hubbard squash, roasted

1 32 oz. can whole tomatoes

2 quarts chicken stock

1 quart water

1 t. cumin

¼ t. cayenne

1 t. (or  more, to taste, if you like it spicy) sriracha

½ pint heavy cream 

1.     Wash and pierce squash and roast whole in a 375 oven.  Cool slightly, seed, and scoop out flesh.

2.     While squash is roasting, peel and chop and then sauté onions and carrots on medium low in butter.  Grate ginger into onions and carrots and continue cooking.  This amount of ginger gives a very subtle background note, so if you really dig a gingery soup, add another inch or two of root.

3.     Combine stock, water, tomatoes (and juice), cumin, and cayenne.  Let soup simmer for 10-15 minutes.

4.     Purée soup until smooth.  Heat soup through then finish with cream and a teaspoon of sriracha. 

I I I went all out and put on a table cloth, dim lighting (my best solution for bad wall paper and a non-spotless house), lit candles, etc.  Mom and Dad, Pat and Bonnie and all the kids save Eva were there. I didn't photograph the soup because the moment was too good and I didn't want to leave it.  In a moment, one single moment, my depression lifted and was completely gone.  Almost twenty-four hours later, I still feel great.  What happened?  It feels miraculous, or maybe my soup is medicinal. 

P.S.--My mom said I should enter my soup in a recipe contest.  That was pretty much the highlight of my cooking life, coming from my cooking idol herself.



19 November 2009

Hercules Beetle

I saw one of these today, a real one, dead, pinned against moth-repellent in a drawer of beetles housed in the Bean Museum's insect collections.  The most interesting things in the exhibit, however, were the boy specimens--four seventh-grade boys I was chaperoning on a tour of the insect collection guided by a nerdly entomologist who somehow captivated their attention for an hour and patiently tried to find specimens that would satisfy their curiosity about:

*the biggest insect in the collection (do you want wingspan?  no, just massive.)
*the smallest insect in the collection (fleas on alcohol slides)
*the most deadly (the bee, fyi, who is the most dangerous animal by far in the U.S.)
*the weirdest (these huge walking-stick type insects from New Guinea)
*butterflies with clear wings and owl moths

Suddenly those boys were the cutest things I've ever seen, their baby faces, that in three or four years will be handsome, animated and looking engaged  with the material in a way  that I don't often see in the classroom.  Being that I teach English.  (In my limited experience with Jr. High and High School boys, many of them seem particularly resistant to writing in the classroom, or maybe they're just resistant to me.)  

I wish I could make this happen every day, but for now having a beautiful moment among 2,000,000 specimens  of insects was just really, really good.

18 November 2009

Hunger Banquet

Hello All!

A few friends and I are hosting an Oxfam Hunger Banquet for our senior service project. We would be honored if you would join us. It will be held on November 19 at 7:00 pm at the Walden School (4230 N. University Avenue), tickets will be $10.

            There will be talks from Gerald Brown and Warner Woodworth, as well as some musical entertainment and a photo slideshow.

We hope to see you there!

Ingrid Asplund

ps: email me (asplundingrid@gmail.com) or call my friend Hillary (801-400-8182) for tickets and more information

17 November 2009

lame links

I was so proud of all my links in the last post until I tried opening them all and found I had posted them wrong.  Ingrid calls this my "old person's problem."  They were really cool links, so I'm posting them again, sans old person's problem:

6) Yoga

16 November 2009

Oh My Goodness

If you're too overwhelmed for narrative, write a list. I got inspired by my friend Julie's awesome blog to finally update again.

Here's what I've been doing lately:

1) Teaching my students to write ghazals, haiku, sestinas, and sonnets, which they totally hate. I love the ghazal, especially this one by Shahid, and using my favorite book on the subject, Ravishing Disunities. The Ghazal works with fragmentation and avoids the kind of unity that we look are trained by our English teachers to look for in say, the sonnet. This is why my students hate me and ghazals right now--they're struggling to learn to live with ambiguity, multiplicity, lack of closure, actually things I love the most in poems.

2) Yoga. I'm trying to go four or five times a week in the hopes of not resorting to pharmaceuticals to keep my mental health in check. Nothing against them--I love them and have used them and would use them again if necessary, but I love not feeling dampened by them, and love not paying for them every month, and love the absence of side effects when not on them. So I'm trying not to develop my yearly full-blown depression.

3) Squash--acorn, sphagetti, butternut, amber cup, green hubbard. Roasted, pureed, mashed, and so on.

4) Reading Anne Fadiman's The Spirit Catches Me and I Fall Down and Berton Roueche's The Medical Detectives in preparation for teaching a writing/ lit. class on medical writing, idea inspired by my friend Teri from Mills who now teaches bio-ethics at Gallaudet and who contributed a chapter in this awesome book on House.

5) Editing and revising my manuscript of poems for this press, forthcoming in winter of 2011.

6) Finishing up fourteen. That's 1-4. Loads of laundry.

7) Revising a new manuscript, tentatively called Gentian Weaves her Fringes and a chapbook Physic at the Table so I can start submitting them.

8) Thinking a lot about finishing the novel I started last year. Totally discouraged about not having enough time right now.

30 August 2009

Favorite Forgotten but Just Rediscovered Annotation

From p. 192 of MTAOFC (method for making crepes), it's a poem, actually, especially the yellow enameled iron pan:

yellow enameled iron pan
r. front on 6 to 5 1/2--let
it get hot enough!
let edges of crepe get
crisp and it doesn't
stick in the middle

My Julia

I resisted telling my Julia Child story for a while because I didn't want to be seen as trendy, or as one of the many people promoting the movie. But I finally saw the Julie and Julia, and couldn't resist pulling out my copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which, like all well-loved cookbooks, has it's own story.

It was August of 1993, and we had just moved to Seattle from the Bay Area, and had decided it would be cheaper to leave the furniture behind that we had scavenged and salvaged when we moved to California than to rent a moving truck. So we arrived in Seattle with nothing, and immediately started scavenging.

If you're not familiar with Seattle, one of its many good features is its yard and garage sales, and one of its other brilliant features is September. September's yard sales were bright blue, not too hot, not too cool, and full of treasures. For eating on, we got a small wooden table with two small chairs for the little kids, and a marble bistro table for family dining.

For cooking, I picked up MTAOFC and a Moosewood Cookbook, both annotated with the marginalia of careful, thorough, tidy little cook--her recipes were accompanied by notations in a small, neat hand, notations like "6/27/77 very good" or sometimes "v. good" or sometimes just "good." Other times she suggested substitutions: "Used veal stock instead. V. good." I took the book home and made tahini dressing from Moosewood, then soupe aux choux, potage veloute aux champignons and soupe a l'oignon. I made them a bunch of times that fall, mastered them, actually, because they were the recipes I could afford to make. I carefully honed some skills that fall.

After coming home from the movie the other night, I got all excited about learning some new skills and pulled out my cookbook. I'm not sure what I'll make yet, but feel like, after the tired and not too delicious chicken teryaki I made last night, It's time to take the cooking up a notch. I was inspired by Julia's energy and dedication, which is what I need in my life right now.

Here's to more energy, more dedication to delicous food, a better brown sauce, Navarin Printanier, Moussaka, and Epinards en Surprise.

(My kids are telling me this resolution will only last two weeks, the length that most of my resolutions last.)

(And for pete's sake, can someone tell me how to put accents into this damn blog?)

momo post-it

Look who's making progress. . . . Moses did a fantastic job today with his gentle hands! Anytime he thought about forgetting, I'd remind him of his kudo, and he'd snap right back into gentle mode. He is such a great kid! Keep up the awesome work!


Miss Bryn

24 August 2009

momo post-it

Moses did a great job of having "gentle hands" this afternoon! I only had to remind him once, and he did a good job of listening. He is such a darling boy! When we were doing an activity, he was the only kid who knew that when the teacher was giving instructions, he needed his listening ears! Way to go, Moses!


Miss Bryn

23 August 2009

simple masochism

I'm trying to quell my tendency to complicate everything. Since my many-years-ago resolve to cook dinner every night but Friday, things have been just a little tougher. Better, but tougher. As I emerge from my one-year teaching sabbatical, facing six classes this fall, something needs to fall off the handcart I'm hoisting uphill.

Will it be dinner?

Will we start going through the Wendy's drive-thru on a regular basis? This makes me shudder. Will I get hard-ass on my kids and start making them do more housework? Will I buy pre-made food at Costco?

The answers are hopefully not, no, maybe, no.

One idea: only one item for dinner every night, like a buttery sweet potato (Monday), a pot of beans (Tuesday), a big salad (Wednesday). And if I tell myself I can only have one item, that means I will allow myself two, since I have to break every rule that exists to make sure I'm really alive and that such a thing as cause and effect still exists in the universe (I have to check in with cause and effect every day).

So two items: a pot of beans and rice? Spaghetti and marinara? A salad and lamb chop?

See the inexorable move towards complication?

This week, other people have cooked or are cooking dinner for us thrice. Happy day! So here are some happy menus:

Menu One:
*Matt's BBQ Chicken
*Many Platters of Corn on the Cob
*Tomatoes and Basil
*Suzette's Big Salad
*Seared Garlic Green Beans
*Fresh Peaches with Ice Cream

Menu Two:
*Wine-braised pork-chops with a sour cream pan sauce
*Seared Garlic Green Beans

Menu Three:
*Seared Petite Sirloin
*Tomatoes and Onions

Menu Four:

*Zucchini/Chard Frittata
*Vegetable Curry Soup
*Andi's Artisan Bread
*Emily's Cinnamon Brownies with Ganache

Today friends are feeding us again and I'm making salad, need to do something with the beets I bought at the Farmer's market last week.

But friends don't always feed us. I still have the complication dilemma. People out there who don't have fuzzy, weird, non-logical brains out there, tell me what to do.

18 August 2009

Public Option!

Dear Representative Chaffetz,

Six years ago I went in for a routine ultra-sound at 12 weeks into my fourth pregnancy. At the exam, on one of the darkest days of my life, my technician found a large tumor growing on my daughter's lung. In the ensuing months and years, I fought the monstrous bureaucracy that is private health insurance (and I have one of the "good" providers) in order to get care for my daughter. In addition to the hundreds of additional hours a year I spend on her care because of resulting chronic conditions, I spend another hundred each year dealing with insurance on providers, over-billing, and fighting for coverage of the proper drugs for her; then there is the two to three hundred dollars a month on out of pocket expenses for co-pays on drugs and doctor' visits.

I often wonder how many years of my life are gone due to the hours I spend in pursuit of health for my daughter, and to the enormous amount of stress I feel about procuring the funds and the approval needed to insure her care.

I compare this to my experience 19 years ago when I was living in California attending graduate school, pregnant with my second daughter, receiving care through California's Medicare system. We had choice, excellent care, and a very limited amount of red-tape to deal with, as well as a measure of peace-of-mind that comes with knowing that if the absolute worst happens, we had some security.

I would like to see the option to buy into Medicare made available to all because I would like the option of health care coverage by an entity whose concern includes public health and welfare rather than the only choice that is currently available: a private provider whose sole concern is their own bottom line.

I'm writing to encourage you to support comprehensive health care reform in order to help reduce health care costs and to provide greater security for the people of our country. Offering the choice to buy into Medicare to everyone seems to be the most logical, simple, and moral way to provide us all with a more stable health care system, and thus a physically and economically healthier population.

Thank you for your attention and quick response on this most urgent matter.

Sincerely yours,

Lara Candland Asplund

14 August 2009

darling blog,

I missed you whilst in Seattle and whilst being too hot and covered in children to really write you. And I got a little freaked out about posting pictures because, you see, everyone else's blogs have beautiful pictures and mine is so text-heavy. Because the shape of letters is so beautiful and, though they take so much longer to decode than picture images, have so many more layers to them. The pictures readers make from the words they read in their own minds are so much more varied and mysterious. I guess that's what I'm after. Mystery. Like film noir--so much is off-screen.

So picture this, from Seattle:

*Eva's Curryish Rubbed Roast
*Alice's Roast Pork Braised in Cherry Juice
*Chard Frittatta made with Farm Box Produce
*Pizzettas topped with Wild Mushrooms or Baby Zucchinis or New Potatoes
*Alice and Jim's Salmon, maybe doused in Pernod? with Fresh Sage
*Dick's Deluxe Burger
*Alice's Chocolate Cake (from Chez Panisse Desserts?) featuring Ground Almonds
*Molly Moos' Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream
*Lara's Mashed Potatoes, Made the Way Jim and Robin Like Them: 8 lbs. Potatoes to TWO sticks of butter, Hand Mashed (I don't think I left enough lumps in)
*Alice's Korean Pancakes with Dipping Sauce

Add the smell of brine from the sound, or the smell of misty Seattle and the layered beauty of that town--all hillocks and nooks and crannies and ocean, lake, mountain, concrete, neon, tree, and boat mashed and crashed together--

30 July 2009

some poems

of mine just came out: http://www.ghotimag.com/.

Hope you like!

27 July 2009

Church talk!

(I was assigned as the youth speaker this week, and asked to speak on the Word of Wisdom. I thought it was kind of relevant to this blog.)
Ingrid Asplund
June 26, 2009
I recently spent a foreign exchange year in Germany, where it is legal to drink alcohol at 16 and where beer is always present at social gatherings. Many times I would have to explain that alcohol is verboten in my religion, and often it also became clear that I don’t smoke, do drugs, drink coffee, and so forth. After all of this, I was often asked, “Well, what do you do then?” I usually answered with an attempt to be funny in German (with is a far more fearsome endeavor than one might expect) and say something along the lines of “Oh, we do have fun… twice a year, on Christmas and our Birthdays!”
But jokes aside, that is a very valid question—it always seemed to me that there are a lot of “don’t”s and “shouldn’t”s in the Word of Wisdom, but upon closer inspection I noticed many more “do”s and “should”s.
Although it is easy to remember not to drink coffee or smoke cigarettes, certain words and passages can be harder to interpret —for instance, what does it mean to use resources with “prudence”? It seems that many of our problems come from a lack of prudence when it comes to food—eating without thinking, without pausing and savoring has clearly led many people into health problems, and unsustainable farming practices have contributed to great environmental disasters.
It is certainly plausible that our Heavenly Father would want to protect the Earth as well as our bodies with the Word of Wisdom—they are both His holy temples, both beautiful and precious gifts from the Lord, and our lives depend on the health of both of these things. Also, many of the suggestions in section 89 are vital to the preservation of our Earth and our bodies—it mentions eating “every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof”, which was perhaps a strange idea at the time, because there weren’t many other options, but now seems very relevant, because everything that makes it possible to eat, for instance, a strawberry in December has proven to be quite harmful to the environment. In Germany, there is a very delicious variety of white Asparagus called “Spargel” that is very valued but is only in season for a few weeks of the year. Spargel season is greatly anticipated, especially in my rural community, and as soon as it ripens special meals are prepared in its celebration. Once, I was riding home in the bus one day through the farmland. Our bus driver pulled the bus over in the middle of nowhere, and got out, for he had seen a spargel stand by a farm and wanted to get the first of the season. I loved that, instead of eating it year round and taking it for granted, we waited excitedly for this special food and ate it gratefully when the time came.
It also says there that we must eat meat sparingly, and only in “times of winter or famine”. As a vegetarian, this section resonates with me in particular. It is not healthy for anyone—for our Earth, for us or for the animals—to eat it in great amounts. I know it’s not my place to preach a completely meat-free diet from the pulpit, but I will urge you all to look at these verses, twelve and thirteen, more closely.
Another word that is often overlooked in this section is “thanksgiving”. Out of habit, I always think of the holiday when I see this. I used to dismiss this instinct because it seemed a little silly, but recently I’ve started to consider that this might be intentional—perhaps every meal should be more like Thanksgiving… which isn’t to say that we should have enormous feasts every night, for that would certainly not be prudent. But wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had more frequent meals that were colorful, heartfelt, and festive, as well as a family gathering during which we can all learn about and build family traditions, and (perhaps most importantly) be grateful for the abundance of food that we can have, and the wonderful flow of the seasons.
Which brings me to the passage to which I was actually assigned, verses eighteen through twenty-one: “And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel, and marrow to their bones; and shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; and shall run and not be weary, and walk and not faint. And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them.”
In this passage, I believe that there are things promised that the Lord will give us, but also many things that we must create ourselves, or that will come as a natural course of our actions—of course we’ll receive “health in our navel and marrow to our bones” if we follow the very health-conscious advice found in the Word of Wisdom, but what does the mention of “wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures” mean? I believe this is referring to many things, but among them might be the clear head and uncompromised judgment of sobriety and companionship of the spirit, the anticipation for seasonal favorites, the joys of planting a garden, as President Kimball so often advised us to do, or the excitement of searching a farmer’s market for, as verse sixteen puts it “the fruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground”. I also feel that I have gained many “great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures” through wholesome food and drink. This is true of both preparing and partaking. Once, a friend and I participated in a school cooking competition. We were assigned to prepare something involving spinach, and hoping to do something creative we turned to a cookbook called “the Greens Book”. On the last page, there was a recipe for “Spinach Layer Cake”. We decided that it sounded disgusting but that there certainly wouldn’t be any other dessert entries, and went for it. In the end, it tasted surprisingly delicious, was a beautiful color, and won the golden spoon. This experience was a delightful opportunity to stretch our minds and taste buds and try something new.
But one of the greatest treasures I have gained from Word of Wisdom-conscious eating and drinking is time around the family dinner table. At mealtimes, I learn a great deal about politics, religion, literature, geography, music, and many other magical things that could certainly be termed “great treasures of knowledge”. For instance, in my family somebody is chosen every evening to give a prayer, and that person gets the special privilege of choosing the dinner music. It is very interesting and fun to hear the music that is chosen from the different members of my family, and my musical taste has become much more diverse because of it. Perhaps most important is an opportunity to take a moment out of our noisy and hectic schedules to talk and learn about one another. If we manage to pry the iPhones out of our hands and the earbuds out of our ears and talk with our families and friends around a beautiful meal, we will gain close friendships and deep family ties that have truly become “hidden treasures”. I testify that the Word of Wisdom is a beautiful and truthful scripture that our Heavenly Father gave us because he loves us, and that he will keep his promises if we keep ours.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ,

25 July 2009


Projected and past menus of the week:

Pioneer Day Party (aka Pie n' beer party):

*Grilled Eggplant
*Grilled Sirloin
*Wade's Grilled and Marinated Elk Steaks
*Hand-churned Butter
*Cowboy Salsa (that was actually a salad)
*Chocolate Creme, Lemon Meringue, and Butterscotch Banana Pies from Kindra
*Emily's Blueberry Trifle
*Mormon Mojitos

For next week I'm thinking mostly cold dishes and minimal stove time:

*Mark Bittman's Not-Sesame Noodles
*Salade Nicoise (and then learning how to insert symbols on blog posts so I can spell my beloved French words correctly)
*Zucchini Cakes
*Grilled Bone-in Pork Chops
*Another Cowboy Salsa

There are Many Versions of Cowboy Salsa out there, but here's mine:

*1 can red beans, rinsed
*frozen corn measured in the red bean can
*1 sweet red pepper, diced
*3 roma tomatoes, diced
*2-3 cloves garlic, grated into mixture
*1 jalepeno, seeded and chopped
*1 bunch cilantro, chopped
*1/2 c. fresh lime juice
*1/2 c. olive oil
*salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients but cilantro, lime and oil together. Next add lime juice and oil, salt and pepper, then gently turn in cilantro. Serve with chips or as a salad.

12 July 2009

scalloped cabbage

So Marni told me about a new recipe on Pioneer Woman called scalloped cabbage wherein you open a can of cream of chicken soup (I'm substituting cream of celery so Ingy the vegetarian can eat it), a big jar of cheez-whiz, chop up a jalepeno, mix it all together, pour it over wedges of par-boiled cabbage and bake it until it bubbles. I'm sitting here blogging as the cabbage boils, mulling over my first ever purchase of a 15 oz. jar of cheez-whiz (that's the big size).



So I overcooked the cabbage. Instead of par-boiled cabbage, we have boiled cabbage. Instead of wedges, we have leaves. I also added a cup of sharp cheddar, for health reasons, and a misting of bread crumbs, rather than paprika, to the top.

I don't know what the deal is. I'm tired, crabby, and having lady troubles, complete with a huge zit on my chin. That might be why I cried three times during Hannah Montana yesterday and found Billy Ray Cyrus incredibly hot. (Cecily was mortified, especially when I broke out my version of "The Climb" in the car on the way home.)

And I just made Choux Gratin with Cheez Whiz and Campbell's soup. I'll let you know how it tastes. So far, the sauce makes me hopeful, especially the salty, spicy, 7-11 nachos vibe I'm getting from a bowl-lick.

10 July 2009

Simple Summer

For when it's too hot outside:

Cabbage Rice Chicken Salad

1/2 roasted or rotisserie chicken, shredded
3 scallions
1/2 head cabbage, thinly sliced
3 chopped heads of baby bok choy
3 cups cooked rice, brown or white depending on your mood
1/2 c. roasted peanuts
large handful of purple basil
large handful of cilantro

Mix cooled rice and chicken in large bowl, then add greens, herbs, and peanuts.  Mix in dressing gently so as not to mush your greens too much until the salad is dressed to your taste.  Season with salt, pepper, or soy sauce to taste.  For additional crunch you may wish to top with crispy chow mein noodles.

1/2 c water
1/2 c rice vinegar
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c fish sauce
1 T. sesame oil
1 T. hot chili oil
1 c. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, grated
2" piece of ginger peeled and slivered
1 t salt

1) Simmer together water, vinegar, sugar and fish sauce.  After mixture cools, transfer to a jar or cruet and add garlic, ginger, and salt.  Then add oils, cover jar tightly and shake vigorously.  Leftover dressing can be stored in the fridge for several weeks and is delicious on a quick shredded cabbage salad.

09 July 2009

A Bit of Calm

We were fortunate enough to have both Christian's and my entire family in town for the last couple of weeks. As you can imagine, it was tough to divide the time. My family is resplendent with toddlers and babies, beautiful, funny, squeezable, sometimes crying, sometimes vomiting (they all got a stomach thing, efficiently passed from tot to tot) red, tow, and chocolate-headed wee ones. Christian's family now seems staid in comparison to mine (yes, I'm referring to the riotous, combative, hilariously fun Asplunds). Today I had breakfast with two of my four sisters before driving the last one to the airport. Christian's brother Mark is freshly in town from his new home in Delhi, and I'm looking forward to hanging out with him in the near future.

At the moment there's a rare lull in the summer fun: Lula invited in-town cousins "The Twins" to our house for a tea-party, over which she is presiding with aplomb. Christian, Eva and Ingrid are headed for Salt Lake to see Bon Iver perform, and I will soon take Lula, Cecy, and Momo to the Creamery for burgers and then to Kiwanis Park so Lula and Cecily can hit a few balls on the tennis courts.

I'm taking a quick blogging break from reading War and Peace--it's really funny and entertaining, did you know? Because the big girls and I are holding an impromtu W and P book club for the summer. Let me know if you wanna join. You'll need to read about 50 pages a day for the next five weeks to keep up. I'm surprised at how fast it's going. I'm not sure I chose the right translation (Constance Garnett, Modern Library Edition). We're discussing every Thursday. The thing I'm really happy about right now is that I have the entire rest of the evening, minus a time out for dinner and bedtime routine, to read a big, absorping novel. Nothing better than that.

No real cooking has occured here for at least a week, but some good eating happened: Green Corn Tamales at McCondo, Potato Rosemary Pizza from Pizzeria 712 (and Amano Chocolate Pudding), Shrimp Dumplings and Grilled Potatoes with lime mayo and srriacha from Rooster, a Veggie Scramble at Guru's and oh yeah, the one thing I did make: a decent, but not perfect, rice pudding. I'm still working on getting a consistency that is pleasing when the pudding is hot or cold, and on getting the right amount of sweetness. I have to confess that I also loved eating KFC at the park in South Fork, right by the river, with the really, really delicious watermelon that mom brought. If you have to eat fast food from a chain, it's hard to beat the Colonel.

Tell me more summer stories. I know there are some good ones out there. Especially from people who are in Trinidad right now, all hot and sweaty.

07 July 2009

India OR All In a Panic

So, on Feb. 25, 2010 the Walden School is taking a trip to India. The cost is $3000, and not going would be... out of the question. Heartbreaking, if you don't mind me being dramatic. The problem is, I have no idea how to earn this kind of sum. Does anybody have any ideas?

24 June 2009

cooking lessons OR all in a panic

You know those lists of things you should have taught your kid by the time they're eighteen? Things like how to change oil, balance a check book, etc.? I'm in a panic realizing I only have one year left to get Ingrid's list checked off, and though Ingrid bakes a killer cake or batch of cookies, I haven't really taught her how to cook.

Where do I start? What are five dishes you need to know before you have to start feeding yourself like a big girl? I was thinking Marinara, as that was the first thing I really learned to do on my own (besides cookies, toast, and scrambled eggs.) But what else?

lula's birthday

Post blow-out

All ablaze, foreshadowing the unsupervised fireworks that took place in the cul-de-sac moments later.
Cake by Mom, prettiness by Eva

Last night I had twenty screaming 11 year-olds at the house for Lula's birthday party. Today I'm lying on the couch an exhausted quivering jelly. I'm all partied out, as you can see from the last few posts. We're hosting a Locust Salon at our house on Saturday night and then that's it. No more entertaining until fall, I swear.

father's day

Daddy's day brunch--flowers by Eva

Cherry turnovers

Not nearly as fancy as he deserves.

welcome home ingrid bash

Nathaniel in a tree.

Ingrid's darling foot getting henna'd
Beautiful cake (authentically German) made by beautiful Mirjam

German flag, sort of

16 June 2009

Veggie Luv

Crispy Roasted Potatoes, Carrots and Onions
Daikon Spears

eva's spinach gratin and crusty french bread

Eva told me I had to wait at least one day before putting up another post, but it's raining and thundering outside, and I'm procrastinating on three other less pleasant tasks, and I'm really excited about photos. So here's another post--posted much too soon.

Eva's going nuts in the kitchen. She made this outrageous spinach, which she wilted with vinegar, garlic and red chile flakes on the stove top then doused with an egg yolk, a few tablespoons of cream and baked in the oven. It was creamy, crunchy, spiked with vinegar and chiles--part custard, part souffle, part quiche--c'est magnifique!

Eva's other specialty is bread--she made this braided loaf of crunchy-soft French bread. T'was beautiful and delish.

Aunt Annie's French Bread
(from my Aunt Anne Whitaker Law's cookbook, which I heart)
makes 2 loaves

2 packages dry yeast
1 T. salt
2-1/2 c. very warm water (not too hot or the bread will taste yeasty)
3 T. sugar
5 T. vegetable oil
6 c. unsifted flour
1 egg white
sesame seeds

*In large bowl combine 2 c. hot water, sugar, salt, oil and 3 c. flour.
*Mix well by hand or in bread mixer.
*Stir in proofed or dry yeast, add remaining flour. Dough should be barely sticky. Add more flour if necessary.
*Mix well. Allow dough to rest for ten minutes and stir again. Repeat five times for a total of 50 minutes.
*Turn dough out onto oiled counter. Knead once or twice.
*Divide in two Roll each half into 9x12 rectangle. Starting at long edge, roll losely. Seal edges.
*Place both rolls seam down on one large baking sheet brushed with cornmeal. Gash tops diagonally three times with sharp knife. Brush with beaten egg white. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, cover and rise for 30 min.
*Bake at 400 degress for 25-30 minutes.

15 June 2009

I have to tell you guys...

I just made a beautiful sandwich. It was on that wonderful honeywheat bread that can only be found at Utah Costcos, with raw mozz (also from Costco) and basil from Chao's (Confession: I can't tell the diff between asian and italian basil. At least not when I'm not doing a direct comparison with one right after the other). I grilled some onions and tomatoes with garlic (and by grill I mean sautee with a lot of butter) until they were all melty and then added basil for a second so that it could wilt a little and distributed evenly over the mozz (which I had torn up and put on the bread.) Then I added some avocado and grilled all this (and again by grilled I mean added butter to the pan and then placed over heat) in the remaining juices.
I am not usually one to be moved by sandwiches, but this one was so beautiful I almost cried.

(I made it again with home made french
bread and olive oil instead of butter)

Sexy Close-up

Grilled Zucchini Couscous Salad

This is a variation on a salad I made a lot last summer. It's super flexible and you can mix up the vegetables, cheeses, and vinaigrette to match what's in your garden and pantry. I can't wait for zucchini season. Note to farmers: let's see a lot of small, sweet zucchini this year!

Grilled Zucchini and Couscous Salad

8 small zucchini
3 cups prepared couscous
3 scallions, thinly sliced, including some greens
1 bunch italian parsley, finely chopped
1 sweet yellow pepper, diced
2 vine-ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/2 c. crumbled feta
1/2 c. shaved parmesan
1/2 c. olive oil
1/8 c. red wine vinegar
1 fresh lemon
salt and pepper to taste

*Wash and dry zucchini. Remove stems, then slice in half length-wise. On a medium hot grill, grill zucchini until tender and juicy and not too black on the outside.
*Let zucchini cool, then cut each slice in thirds so you have big juicy chunks of zucchini in the salad.
*Combine vegetables, couscous, and cheeses, salt and pepper, and gently toss.
*Gently toss with oil, then vinegar, then lemon, adjust seasonings and vinaigrette to taste.


I am going home on the day after tomorrow. I don't quite know how to feel, but I think that I could either let my conflicting emotions have a fight to the death inside of me, or just try to let them coexist and live in the moment. I am going for option two, and I try to focus on things like packing rather that sitting on my bed with Chester, staring at the wall and trying to wrap my head around the concept of June 17.
Everybody told me that I will have changed, and I think they're right. So here is fair warning:
-I like sparkly water
-I sometimes take action against cold (for instance using sweaters, tights, and sometimes even socks)
-Yes, socks. Though I rarely wear shoes and socks at the same time
-I get lost rarely, and can even travel alone and reach my destination
-I can fit my hair into a bun. All of it.
-I use nail filers more often than clippers
-I am probably twice as tolerant as I once was
-I can build a habit now
-I am a lot blunter, and less passive agressive

I think that last one is going be a problem, so I want to tell all of you that I am probably not trying to be rude if I say something uncouth. The Germans are just not very well acquainted with tact, which I actually started to find better.
You know what else? And everybody warned us about this: I do have problems with English now. I spent the entire Physics class last Thursday trying to remember the word "misanthropic" (making it the most productive physics class I've had yet). But sometimes I mix up "your" and "you're", and I have problems with sentence structure. I might also incorporate German words in English sentences, which I also do when I speak German (with English words)-- It's really embarrasing.

Looking back on this post, I think it is very self-indulgent. As a disclaimer I will say that my mom requested it for posterity purposes.

14 June 2009

pizza topping epiphany

*caramelized onions, briny black olives, rosemary, goat cheese

*grilled zucchini, slow-roasted tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, sea salt, basil

*spinach, roasted red peppers, feta

13 June 2009


Next week's forecast:

*Dorie Greenspan's Brownies with Walnuts

*Minced Chicken Lettuce Wraps

*Coconut Curry with Tofu and Jasmine Rice

*Zucchini Fritters with Mashed Potatoes (welcome home ingy dinner)

*Homemade Pizza, toppings as yet to be determined, probably using dough from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

12 June 2009

Starry Pasta Soup

If you're one of those people whose kids beg for Campbell's Chicken n' Stars or Alphabet soup, but you just can't bring yourself to go there, this post is for you. If you're like my heroes Mark Bittman and Alice Waters and you have wholesome ingredients washed and prepped in your fridge and a pantry full of delicious, high-quality staples, look away.

If you've ever found yourself on a Friday night, home alone with little ones while nursing a hot water bottle and popping Midol, letting your six-year-old watch Avatar for the 10th time that day, letting your four-year-old play Starfall over and over again, and then at 8 p.m. realizing no one's had dinner yet, or if you've withdrawn from human contact and descended in to agoraphobia with a laptop standing in for a best friend and can't leave the house to shop, or if you've realized you can only spend seven dollars in the next week on groceries or you'll be living in your mother-in-law's basement with your five children come September, and then your six-year-old starts rummaging through the cupboards saying, "I wish we had soup," and you know it's because she's only eaten goldfish crackers all day and is craving something healthy and warm, this recipe's for you.

On the other hand, if you have beautifully organized crocks of pre-cooked organic beans and brown rice in your fridge ready for a quick little salad or soup in a snap, or if you have blocks of Valrohna chocolate dry-packed in storage in case you need some brownies in a trice and were caught unprepared, look away.

This soup is my answer to Campbell's and other canned soups (which my kids occasionally ask for, but will rarely actually eat). It takes about five minutes to prep and fifteen to cook. It uses cheap, cheap ingredients (look away, Alice Waters) that I almost always have on hand, even when I've hit the dregs of the pantry and my wallet, and uses canned and dry goods, minus the awful throat-closing corn syrup after-taste or soggy, mushy vegetables and pasta of said Campbell's soup.

It's inspired by a caldo, but is vegetarian, and could be gussied up with some oregano or chiles, basil or grated parmesan, but I think tastes great and homey with just the salt, onion and tomato savory-ness.

Starry Pasta Soup

2 t. butter
2 t. olive oil
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1 minced garlic clove
1 small yellow crookneck squash, diced
1/4 c. canned red beans
1/4 c. star pasta
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
3 c. water
2 T. heavy cream
salt to taste

*Gently soften onion and garlic over medium heat for two or three minutes.
*Turn heat to medium high and add pasta and squash until a light browning appears.
*Add water, tomato sauce and beans and give it a stir.
*Turn up heat until soup is at a rolling boil.
*Continue at this heat for ten minutes, stirring every minute or two, making sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot. (You can adjust cooking time so squash and pasta have the bite you like, which may be more or less al dente then my timing calls for.)
*Remove from heat, stir in cream, and adjust salt level to taste.

09 June 2009

church and food

My favorite part of this article is the end, the suggestion that every church have a food garden--something the LDS sort of do, but in a more centralized manner.  How wonderful would it be to have both the centralized farm/welfare system in addition to a localized one? (Are you imagining a calling as "Ward Weeder"?)

08 June 2009


'Tis a churlish day.

Spent the morning re-typing my poetry manuscript, the electronic copy of which was stolen when my rental car was broken into in Seattle last January.  It sounds like no big deal, but it's kind of a hairy manuscript, and I've hit a patch in the mss. where I don't like the poems anymore (right now) (did I ever?), so I want to give up now, give up the whole thing, the whole writing thing. Which means the whole existence thing. 

(Don't worry, I'm not suicidal, just, just. . . bothered in a kind of restless, unsettled way, as the Bard says with what i most enjoy contented least.)

What do you do with a day like this?  And how do you keep it from seeping into other days?

I did bake Cracked Wheat Honey bread today.

So I guess that's two things on my to-do list--retyping the mss. and baking bread.  I should feel good about that, right?

Gimme some advice:  what do you do when you suddenly feel your whole idea of yourself is built on a faulty premise?  Start over?  Ignore it?  Decide it's too late to turn back?


04 June 2009


I'm already bored with this week, so I'm thinking about next week:  what to buy at the market, what to cook, what to plant, what to write, etc.  I suppose I could start next week right now, but I'm not very good at rearranging my plans.  Here are some ideas for dinner next week, and as always, there's nothing I love more than hearing what other people are making for dinner (and in my case, in honor of summer, random snacks, desserts, appetizers, and small dishes that may or may not make for a well-rounded meal).

*Chicken Cabbage Rice Salad with Chinese Greens
*Patrick Barber's Bistro Style Tuna Noodle Casserole via Facebook
*Lula's B-day Dinner:  Homemade Fettucine with Alfredo, Garlic Bread, Cucumbers with dip (her menu)
*Bruschetta with the new rye-ish bread I've been making  (have you heard that rye makes you skinny?)
*Homemade Ricotta with Cherries
*Spaghetti Frittata (with leftover spaghetti, repeat from last week because it was a ginormous hit, both the original spaghetti and the frittata.)

Tell me what you're making so I can be jealous.

everything i know about monsanto is bad

So don't let them eff up our wheat supply!  Seriously, we don't want Round-up Ready Wheat, and this website will tell you why and how to contact some people who can help stop this from happening.

Love you all!  Love you even more if you help make our food supply safer and more sustainable.

02 June 2009


I found this link on Bitten, and was taken aback by one of my least favorite things about school lunch in the US: styrofoam.  Notice that none of the other school lunches from outside the US are served on disposable dishes.  They even use metal chopsticks.  

What's wrong with us?

For the love of all that's holy, people, let's stop eating food out of styrofoam.  A) it's completely disgusting and B)what's so hard about cleaning and re-using dishes and C) paper containers work just as well as styrofoam (unless you're eating something you should really be sitting down at a table to eat, instead of, say, slurping down in your Jazzy at Silver City in Branson)?

Someone please tell me how this degradation has occurred.  And by the way, I do all of the dishes at our house, for three meals a day, so you can't use that excuse on me. (And for my taste, I would also ban plastic ware for use in food consumption as well, if I had dictatorial powers.  I just know it's wrong.  You can get really cheap, strong stoneware at IKEA for dolls and use it for your little ones.  They'll learn to eat more in a more civilized manner and more carefully with a breakable dish as opposed to an unbreakable one.)

For some reason this is making me really angry right now (might be PMS).  It might be that my kids' lunches in Utah are absolute rock-bottom nutritionally:  an anemic leaf of iceberg lettuce, a brown and wilted apple slice, maybe pizza, maybe a corn dog, maybe nachos, and of course the ubiquitous chocolate milk, which ends up being the most nutritious item offered.  It might be that the styrofoam is just staring me in the face right now as an indicator of how far we've fallen, how out of hand our values have become.

That's my self-righteous rant for the day.

p.s.--Bittman points out the awesome French lunch with mussels and an artichoke.  Now that's a school lunch I can get behind.

01 June 2009

I saw her.

Angela Merkel. With my own two augen (=eyes). We had our Abschlussseminar in Berlin this weekend with all of the kids from language camp. The day when we all saw Frau Merkel was our "Bundestag.. Tag". It started at 5 am and ended at 2 am the next day, and filled up a good five pages of my journal. I will try to abbreviate:
There is a big room in the Bundestag (German parliment) building where all of the work gets done. It sits under an enormous glass dome and has a metal eagle (which actually looks more like a chicken-- an appearance of harmlesness was intentional when it was designed because the Germans wanted to keep the eagle but avoid Nazi conotations), which weighs 2 tons or something. We weren't allowed to bring cameras, otherwise I would have taken a picture, because it's all a little hard to explain. In any case, there are seats for the civilians who want to listen (ie us) way above, and we got to watch lots of important things get done. They told us not to get our hopes up about Angie being there, but we all hoped deep in our hearts, and I had promised to "bestell schöne Grüße" (give pretty messages) from my host sister (for whom Angela Merkel is something of a hero) but when we got there and everything got started, we didn't see her. The members of the Bundestag who were there did give a little speech about our program and how proud they were of us and applauded, but it just wasn't the same without our beloved Bundeskanzlerin. But then, as we were all sitting trying to concentrate, guess who came around the corner and sat in her seat??? Angela Merkel! She chewed gum the entire time, which somehow made me really happy.
After this, we were ushered into a big room with 400 other exchange students and several important people (the ambassador from the US, Bob Bishop, Norbert Lammert, some other members of the Bundestag). A few exchange students gave speeches and there was a question and answer session (during which I completely humiliated myself by forgetting every German word I know)and we got a video message by Hilary Clinton (yes, the Hilary Clinton) about how proud she was of us and a letter from Nancy Pelosi (sp?), also telling us she was proud of us. It was all quite exciting, I think I got a copy of the letter and will try to get a copy of the video. After this, we were let go and I walked around Berlin until 10:00 pm. This, of course, was wonderful, we saw all sorts of buildings and memorials and other things that I won't try to describe because I'm trying to keep this shorter than five pages. My day ended with a dance party, where I shared a glass of ginger ale with another Utahn and put my roommate and a few other kids to bed, wishing them pleasant dreams and mild hangovers.
I am coming home in two weeks. We all fully realized this together, but I can still hardly believe it. I have heard that reverse culture shock can be brutal, and I have changed a ton since going-- I wanted to warn everyone because I've heard that it is hard for other people as well. So expect the same old Ingy deep down, but don't be shocked if I don't structure my sentences well anymore or get lost.
I can't wait to see all of you. Bis später.

31 May 2009

i want to make this

Do you think I could do it?


I'm scaling back for the summer on menus and having items a la carte only.  I might not serve two vegetables at every meal, or I might serve only vegetables.  We'll see.  I will be making items that I love and am excited about and won't be worrying about how they fit into the grander scheme of things.  So here's a list from this weekend and for the coming week:

*coconut cream pie
*fried potatoes and onions
*spaghetti frittata (my kids loved this more than almost anything I've ever cooked, and dubbed it spagetti pizza)
*polenta topped with seared zucchini
*rye bread
*pizza topped with arugula and homemade ricotta
*vietnamese style noodle salad with eggrolls

I want to hear what everyone else is making.

twenty years

On Friday night, Christian and I went to hear the Bernstein Mass performed by the Utah Symphony, a prelude to our twentieth wedding anniversary on Tuesday.  It was a book-end of sorts as our first date was to hear the Bach Double at the Madsen Recital Hall performed by the BYU chamber orchestra and the Gruppmans, a husband and wife violinist team.  

The date started at my apartment in The Truman where we ate frozen burritos that Christian brought and I prepared, and tried to dress up with some avocado, salsa, and cheese (I remember them being quite delicious) and then proceeded to a bike ride up the hill to the Harris Fine Arts Center (C rode me on the handle bars and told me that I had pretty skin) where we heard the piece.  It was, as always, a fantastic piece, and we learned that we are both freaks about Bach.  Since the Bach was over, we left the concert at intermission, biked back down the hill, and went to 7-11 for a pint of Hagen-daazs honey vanilla ice cream which we ate on the steps of the then-condemned Academy Square building (which is now the library, thanks in part to a campaign that C was active in as a student to save the building).  We sat there and talked until the wee hours of the morning, and I knew then that I had met my life's partner (what happened next is a long story for another day.)

But Friday night at the symphony reminded me of this instant connection made way back when I was 19 years old with Christian because, as with the Bach, Christian and I again had the exact same reaction to the Bernstein piece.  I could just tell what he was thinking through the whole piece, and I was thinking the same thing.  I'm not going to go in to great detail here because people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, but I'll just say the piece was highly problematic (I know a lot of people are aware of this, and hence it is rarely performed, but a lot of people liked it, even loved it, and that's when I'm sooooo glad I'm married to someone who doesn't love the Bernstein mass.)

So, xo, C.

Here's to 20 more years of music, bicycles, and honey-vanilla ice cream.

june to-do list

Some new, mostly leftover from May:

*finish planting garden

*update resume

*write book reviews for the Provo City Library's Adult Summer Reading Program (did you know they had this?)

*read Mormon Sisters for bookclub (the venerable Claudia Bushman, editor of the volume, will be there in person to talk about it--I'm so psyched because she's one of my heros)

*summer reading with kids

*sign up for swimming lessons

*appointment with ENT in Salt Lake

*appointment with pediatric dermatologist in Salt Lake

*Christian's Trombone 4-tet concert

*sign up for netflix and watch some good (as opposed to trashy) movies

*read at least one good (as opposed to trashy) novle

*finish revision on book proposal

*send to agent who asked for it ten days ago and hope she still remembers me

*revise Alburnum manuscript

*finish compiling Gentian manuscript

*try to find pink desert trailer manuscript that I lost in 2002 when we moved here from Oklahoma

*as always, yoga 3X a week, walking five days a week

*become better at baking bread

*become better at baking pies

*Lula's b-day

*20th wedding anniversary

26 May 2009

in memoriam

Yesterday we made our annual Memorial Day trek to the Midway cemetery to visit my Grandpa Scott's grave, Scott Merrill Whitaker, as well as the graves of his parents and siblings.  On the way there, we read snippets from some family histories and the transcript of his funeral.  Christian and Emily told stories about their dad, Grandpa Tom, and grandparents, Joe and Marie Redd and Julia and Charles Asplund.  My Grandpa Scott was legendary in his day--he was an excellent singer, a Disney animator who purportedly worked on Dopey in Snow White, one of my all-time favorite moves, and a writer and director for BYU Motion Picture.  He wrote the script for Man's Search for Happiness, one of the masterpieces of LDS doctrinal films.  He was also proprietor, with his brothers, of the Homestead in Midway, for a number of years, hence the Midway connection.  I also need to mention that he was an all-around general ham and comedian, as well.

After the cemetery, we drove for about an hour looking for the perfect spot for our picnic, but it was nowhere to be found.  Finally, when we were all so hungry we were getting ready to gnaw off our own hands, we found it in an old pioneer homestead sitting on the banks of Snake Creek complete with plaques containing stories and poems written by and about the original homesteaders and their families, a creamery, an orchard, and a gigantic fir tree with a soft cushion of pine compost underneath and branches overhanging the creek.  Moses and Cecily were in heaven, and all of the adults were as well.  Even the lively squirrels were extra magical, and the birds were plentiful and visible.  Emily said it was like being inside a cross between Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie.  

For feasting, we had a number of delicious items:  I made bread in the morning (my Aunt Annie's French bread recipe with sesame seeds) and brought the leftover London Broil from Sunday dinner for roast beef sandwiches and an assortment of mustards, jams, and my favorite pickles.  We stacked our sandwiches on location, an for accompaniment ate crudite, fresh fruit, potato chips, Lula's fabulous chocolate chip cookies, and, last but not least, Red Vines in classic red and black.

It was a really, really perfect day, surrounded by the Wasatch mountains, a trickle of water, and a lot of inspiring memories.

23 May 2009

spring hunt

So lately our Saturdays consist of a series of grocery errands that the kids think are incredibly fun:  today we went to Chao's, the Provo Farmer's Market, and Macey's, and now I'm super excited about my cooking for the week and Christian's excited about the chopsticks made of various materials (metal, plastic, bamboo) that he'll use for making awesome noises on his viola.  Here are a few of the highlights:

*bok choy
*chinese chives
*massaman curry paste
*new crop rice
*assorted chopsticks

Farmer's Market
*clifford eggs
*artesian well-grown watercress from zoe's
*korean taco

*games, prizes, and 50 cent hot dogs for the kids
*king arthur flour on sale!
*kosher pickles on sale!
*happy, happy nice workers

So, some menus for next week:

*tofu spring rolls
*poached eggs with polenta triangles and asparagus
*london broil
*massaman coconut vegetable curry
*spaghetti with veggie marinara
*hawaiian haystacks
*orange rolls

Also, with Eva's inspiration, I'm going to attempt Andi's beer bread and a sour dough starter.


19 May 2009

winners and losers again

I want to clarify one or two things after my track meet post:  1)  I'm not necessarily talking about after school sports or sports in general, but the use of competition in the schools as a pedagogical method and the false binary of "winning" and "losing" that is imposed on young children by this paradigm in the schools, and 2)  of course some children gain self-esteem from winning and competing, but I think this type of self-esteem is fragile and built on the misfortune/lack of ability/confidence/motivation of others, and from what I've observed, breeds unhappiness in the winner and loser both.  Winning becomes an addiction for the gifted child and a millstone around the neck of the loser.

(I also want to acknowledge that my daughter's school tries to be inclusive in many ways, and everyone at the track meet was trying to make all of the children feel good about their performances, but those attempts are always transparent to children who always see through those attempts to bandage the wounds of failure.)

I just want a whole new paradigm for the public schools, one that veers away from a hyper-capitalist hierarchy of winners and losers.

That's not too much to ask, is it?

17 May 2009

One month.

That is how much time I have. Where did the first nine months go? I don't know either.

The events in my life have been...
1: Circus Baldoni-- not exactly the Circus McGirkus, but cute. It's run by this family who has been in the business for 8 generations, which I find astounding.
2: Crazy German swimming pool-- my host family decided that we had a free day and wanted to do something in Thüringen. I was disappointed at first because I can swim anywhere and wanted to see, say, a church, but then I realized that there is no better place to observe culture than swimming pools. It reminded me of the ones I'd been to before: In Mexico, which had a secret tunnel and lots of flora, where we had to ride back in the back of a pickup truck (which we flagged down with our thumbs/bikini-clad American girls), or in Turkey in the Hammam (which isn't really a swimming pool but was close enough), where we sat in a huge beautiful old building with a domed ceiling, being scrubbed by stern Turkish ladies and trying not to make eye contact with any of the chaperones (because we were all. naked.), or Seven Peaks, which... well, you all know it already. Anyway, this one was mostly inside. Everybody had to shower before and after swimming, and there was an enormous waterslide which they ingeniously got into the building (well... it's hard to describe. It wasn't exacly in the building... but I promise, it was brilliant). There was a pool for laps and a pool for children (with a whale in it, no less) and a pool for swimming and a salty therapeutic pool that was partially outside and full of jets. Apparently once a month is Naked Day, where everybody swims without a swimsuit. Would that be legal in the United States? I don't think so. Like I said, it is very German.
3: Friends-- Did I already say how I finally made them? Because I did. They are awesome, they like me and I like them. They even call me "unsere kleinen Sonnenschein" (our little sunshine), which makes me really happy. We write lots of notes to each other, because most of them are in a different grade from me.

Is there anything else? I don't believe so. I love you all, every single one, and I will see you soon! Which is a big deal!!!

15 May 2009

jesus & the track meet

Can you believe I've gone through 18 and a half years of motherhood without ever attending a child's sporting event?  Lest you think I'm a neglectful mother, you should realize that it's not because I forgot to go, but because my children never participated.

I settled in early at the Hershey Track Meet that happens at Lula's school every year to watch her run the first event, the 1600.  It's a beautiful day, the bleachers were still empty, and YMCA was blasting on the speakers.  This is fun,  I thought.  Maybe I've been too harsh on competitive sports, I thought.  But then the sick feeling came and settled into my belly.  I find it unbearably painful to watch children come in last place.  Maybe, in fact surely, this is a reflection on my own over-sensitivity and subsequent trauma as a child, but if even one child feels as sick and miserable as I did at events such as these (and they were way more cut-throat in my sports-crazed hometown) it's not worth it.  Am I happy that Lula had fun running and preparing for the meet?  Yes.  Do I think that the motivation of "winning" is a worthy one? Absolutely not.  I've been guilty in my own teaching practice of occasionally resorting to competition as a motivator, but I've always chickened out at the last minute and awarded everyone.  I noticed that it was a cheap trick that damaged the winners and losers alike, with no positive long-term outcomes.  I've carefully weeded out as much comparison and rivalry as I could from my mothering and pedagogical approaches.

So I sat through the meet and took deep breaths, feeling o-so-alienated--was anyone else feeling the same way?  I thought about Jesus.  I thought about Quakers.  I thought about my friend's daughter's way more progressive school on the Lower East side of Manhattan.  Do they have formal competition at her school?  I thought about the time Lula "borrowed" a ribbon for her Arbor Day poster in second grade, and I got fresh anger about the impending end-of-year ceremony where they always hand out medals to students who score above the 90th percentile on state testing.  Isn't that illegal under FERPA (the student privacy protection laws)?  

Am I too angry and sensitive?  Please tell me, because right now, in the context of old-school values and education, I feel like a freak, and like I have no one to talk to about this because I've used up all of my credibility in this community by being a constant nay-sayer.

Jesus would support me, wouldn't he?

When Ingrid was little, and to this day, she always refused to be a part of any competition, explicit or implicit.  When she got older, she happily became a volunteer cheerleader for her peers and siblings, but has never herself participated.  

I think she has it right.

O Friends School of Provo, where are you?  My Great Aunt Helen called herself a Feminist Quaker Mormon.  I think she had it right, too.  

I wish she were still here to consult with.

I'm breathing.





Please advise.

11 May 2009

confession and addendum

*i don't wear sunscreen. ever.

*cook something en papillote.

10 May 2009

All flowers remind me of you.

My mother is clearly the best one there is.
She reminds me of a story I heard about one the Presidents of the United States and the first lady (but I don't remember which)-- They saw one of the first lady's old boyfriends working in a gas station and the president said "Aren't you glad you married me instead of him?" She replied, "If I had married him, you'd be the one working at a gas station right now and he would be president".
(Okay, I know that wasn't delivered very well, but it was really funny when I heard it, I promise)
In any case, if I had been born to somebody else, I'm sure I would never have achieved anything without her-- I certainly wouldn't be in Europe. Whenever I tell her that I can't do something, she looks at me as if I'm being ridiculous and says, "Ingrid, of course you can do it. Just cut out your first paragraph." (those of you who were fortunate enough to have her as an English teacher will understand this). I am inspired by her good food, by the pragmatism that is very foreign but very impressive to me. I feel blessed to have shared a roof for 16 years with somebody who has such a power over words, who is so full of wisdom. She taught me to wear dresses and that no matter how bad your day is you always have dinner to look forward to. She insisted every night on knowing the highs and lows of our days, a habit which I found irritating at the time but have started emulating in my host family.
Happy mother's day, Thank you mama!!!

05 May 2009

hand-cut noodles

I'm sort of bored with everything I cook right now, so I decided that on Sunday, when we had company coming, I would finally try making my own pasta. Creating the dough was the easiest thing I've ever done, thanks to my Cuisinart, and Lula took to the pasta roller we borrowed from the Jasplund's with great aplomb (I actually think it would be worth it to purchase one of these just to keep Lula entertained)--(I highly recommend getting your ten-year-olds into the kitchen because they are finally able to synthesize their brains with their hands, and are very curious and eager learners), but when I started to cut the noodles, they stuck together and wouldn't unroll.

At this point I almost gave up and pulled out an emergency box of dry pasta, but I took a deep breath and kept going. I made really wide, ragged noodles, which I love, and was the reason I wanted to make hand-cut rather than putting them through the Atlas. And just in time, Emily arrived, Emily who is the queen of doughs, pastries, and cakes, and saved my noodles.

So, long story short, the noodles were terrific, but our poor company had to wait a very long time to eat. Next time I'll know to plan a lot more time for the endeavor and to follow Julia Child's dictum: never experiment on company.

Scratch that. I always experiment on company. Company be warned: come prepared to wait.

I used these proportions for the dough:

3 c. flour
5 eggs
1/4-1/2 c. water, poured slowly into the food processor until dough begins to hold together
1 t. salt

*this makes a sticky dough and I had to use generous amounts of flour in the kneading and cutting phases.

Mo Op

Also, a brief mention of the operas that Christian and I have written together appears on the Mormon Artist Group's website:


on sunday

An essay of mine appears in this new collection ON SUNDAY:


What is it like to go to church in prison, or in an Islamic country, or in Africa, Australia, or Asia? We say that the Church is the same wherever you go, but how is the experience of LDS worship different throughout the world?

Mormon Artists Group is pleased to announce the publication of

On Sunday

As part of Mormon Artists Group’s tenth anniversary, we invited authors around the world merely to go to church and write down what they experienced on a Sunday.

We were curious to know what their buildings looked like, how people arrived at church, who were the members, what they did for a living, what they looked like, how they treated each other, what they talked about, what worried them, what inspired them, how they sang, how they worshipped: what went on.

Our authors wrote from their home congregations in Singapore, Australia, Angola, Kuwait, Brazil, and throughout North America, from Harlem to Seattle. There are eleven essays altogether, accompanied by photographs of the church buildings taken by the authors. For the most part, the episodes in the book occurred on a single, ordinary Sunday, March 1, 2009.

Buildings, above, in Angola, Seattle, Harlem, Brazil.

The Authors

The authors of On Sunday are Adam Anderson, Stephen Bennett, Claudia Bushman, Harriet Petherick Bushman, Lara Candland, Mario V. L. Cardoso, Glenn Gordon, Stanley Hainsworth, Thomas Holst, Glen Nelson, and Astrid S. Tuminez.

Each of the essays is a journalistic snapshot. Some of these stories come from turbulent landscapes: the aftermath of civil war in Angola, a raging wildfire in Australia, expatriates living far from home and family in Kuwait and Singapore. There is economic turmoil everywhere as well as the issue of equality of race and gender.

Tough individual choices are faced: will a mother risk arrest to take her children to a Christian church in an Islamic country, should a woman leave her husband and children in the Phillipines to work and send money back home, can forgiveness come to those in prison, can we care for those around us in need?
Flowing through the writings is a undercurrent of hope and a declaration that the social communities of LDS worship—whether the members gather to eat Jell-O, collard greens, or camel—work miraculously, joyously well.

The stories are of common people. A Brazilian native tells of his first Sunday as a missionary, a Provo author writes about the uneasy pull of utopia, a Californian describes a wealthy community in transition, a visitor to Harlem tries to put race in perspective, men in Mesa and Seattle compare their current, suburban lives with their former congregations in Japan, Denmark, New York, and Mexico. Together, the essays form a composite of real LDS life on a global scale.

The Church is the same everywhere you go. That is what we say. To us, it means that wherever one goes in the world, stepping into an LDS church house is a welcome and familiar act, a good thing.

The Church has thirteen million members at present, the majority of whom live outside of the USA. The eleven authors of this book don’t speak for the world, but their voices offer a hint of what the world of our Church is like and how we are alike (or not) right now.

Buildings, above, in Mesa, Chicago, Pasadena, Provo.

The Volume

Mormon Artists Group presents On Sunday in two formats: a limited edition volume and a digital PDF file edition.
On Sunday – PDF edition - $5
On Sunday – Limited edition - $100

To Order

The limited edition is printed and bound by hand over boards with linen tapes, silk headbands, and with an embroidered cover image in thread on natural Irish linen. The image, a hendecagram, is an 11-pointed figure that represents the eleven congregations described in the book. The volume is 9.5” x 6.25”, 166 pages, printed on Mohawk Superfine paper with Fabriano Tiziano endpapers.

The digital edition is a PDF file of the complete volume, sent as an email attachment. It is an experiment to determine whether Mormon Artists Group can distribute volumes with extreme speed and cost-efficiency to the reader with payments via PayPal, cash or check.

On Sunday – PDF edition - $5

On Sunday – Limited edition - $100

To purchase, reply to this email, and we'll assist you.

Mormon Artists Group
457 West 57th Street #601
New York, New York 10019 USA
PayPal account: mgknelson
Telephone: 212-586-7826