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--