Productive Saturday

Well, today was a pretty productive day, especially for a Saturday. As you can see, I’m actually writing a blog post!

So here’s the day so far:

We woke up at 7:30 am. Not just L, but both of us! This never happens. Most of the time I have a gig on Friday so I don’t get home until 3, so my normal Saturday wake up time is around 11ish. But last night I had no gig – we made dinner, caught up on some Stephen Colbert, and went to bed at a normal time.

So L made coffee (Mobjack Bay Coffee) and left to go to some garage sales, I whipped up some bread batter and set it aside to let it rise, pulled out a copy of my thesis that my advisor had scribbled red ink all over, and began to brew beer. A couple weeks ago I purchased a new brew kettle – 8 gallon capacity, stainless steel, with a spigot. I’ve been itching to try it out but hadn’t had much time (stupid thesis…), but I have been working pretty hard lately and figured I could address the red ink issues with one eye while keeping the other eye on the kettle. I got the water heating up and began to work on my edits. After a while, the water had reached 155 degrees (F), so I added my grains for steeping, set the timer, and continued to work.

P1040717WV woke up around 9:30, but he wasn’t all that cranky so I changed his diaper and let him run around the kitchen in his walker until L got back (and she made delicious pancakes and sausage patties). After the wort was finished boiling, I took it out on the porch to let it cool while I took a trip to the dump. Don’t worry, it was covered so nothing could get in the beer. By the time I got back home from the dump, the wort had cooled enough where I felt comfortable transferring it to the primary fermenter. All I had to do was open the spigot and let it go!

So now I’ve got a batch of pale ale fermenting, two loaves of bread ready to go into the oven, fixed the red ink issues, and the trash and recyclables are out of the house. Doing an acoustic gig tonight, then I get to spend tomorrow with my family (and maybe work on my figures).

{this moment}

“A Friday ritual.  A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.”  ~SouleMama

Photo cred goes to my Mama!

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If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.
Have a wonderful weekend!

Awesome Soup

You may be surprised to know that I am a tad soup-shy. Perhaps this is because I grew up around the most umami-imbued matzoh ball soup (Grandma) and crunktastic cream of carrot soup (Dad). When asked what food I wanted to celebrate my birthday, I chose cream of carrot soup. I was 7. Perhaps I was a rabbit in a past life. Wouldn’t surprise me. At Passover (happy Pasach by the way), I had no problem sneaking an extra matzoh ball in the kitchen pretending I had gone to the restroom (and a sugar cube to boot…did your grandma have sugar cubes?). And then when my grandma asked, “Who wants another ball?” I’d raise my hand. Her broth had little carrot pillows suspended throughout and a proprietary spice blend. Also, my dad was prone to crooning “Beautiful Soup!,” around the house and at random cooking moments which may have subliminally scared me that I’m set up to fail. Fast forward to 2013. I have deep soup galoshes to fill.

So when my dad mentioned he was whipping up a parsnip-y, potato-y soup concoction recently (he had me at “parsnip”), I admonished: send me the recipe! He wrote it all down with room for variations (and I did take some liberties), hints, tricks and tips. I made it. And I only called him twice for clarifications and support. And it was bangin’.

Grandpa D’s Potato Leek Soup aka Vichyssoise a la Ritz*

Ingredients:
P10407064 Leeks, white part, sliced (I used 3 mondo ones)
2 Parsnips, thinly sliced (I used 4)
1/4 Cup Sweet Butter
1 Medium Onion, sliced (I used a half)
5 Medium Potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced (I used 6)
1 Quart Chicken Broth
3 Cups Milk (I used 3.5 cups)
2 Cups Cream (I used 1.5 cups 1/2 and 1/2)

Instructions: In a deep kettle, brown leeks and onion very lightly in butter. Add parsnips and continue to brown for a few minutes. Pour in broth, add potatoes and boil until very tender. Immersion blend (or otherwise crush, sieve or puree). Add milk and cream. Stir, cool and chill. You may vary the quantity of potatoes, parsnips, milk, cream and even butter to you’re tastes – it shall be good as long as, according to Grandpa D, “you love creamy potatoes in some state of liquidity.”

In his recipe notes, he calls this is “a soup to be reckoned with, versatile, and killer-diller in most any circumstance.” I have to agree – it was a divine liquid. We keep eating it with W’s home made bread and mmming! Side note: the kitchen implement that has most helped me break out of my soup shell is my immersion blender. It’s on my (non existent, maybe I should make one) top 5 list of things one really should have in their kitchen. It’s so easy to use, I held WV while blending – he enjoyed listening to and watching it.

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An added bonus to making soup is that it generates a ton of compostable goodies. And I’m all about that.

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Today, at the encouragement and behest of dear new friends, I am attempting a 24-hour crock pot bone broth. We shall see. We shall see.

* See NY Times Cookbook (1961) p. 83 for Vichyssoise a la Ritz; In my parents’ copy, my mom wrote, “June 21, 1992, Father’s Day, Delicious!”

{this moment}

“A Friday ritual.  A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.”  ~SouleMama

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If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.
Have a wonderful weekend!

Weekend Musings

This weekend was quite full. It can be separated into two, admittedly mama-biased, categories:

P10405091. WV said his first legit word.
2. Everything else.

First word: DADA!!!
Oh laws, I can not, I can not! I’m just busting with pride.

We say, “Walter, can you say ‘dada’?”
He smiles. “DADA!”
We say, “Walter, can you say mama?”
He gives a coy look, “DADA!”

So, erm, we know he’s responding, and it’s technically a word. Buuut, I don’t think it’s attached to dada yet. The thing that really differentiates it from other babblings and cooings and gushings is that he is doing it on purpose, after we ask and he knows he’s repeating something we specifically say to him. We’ve had “back-and-forths” before, but it was more of the “gah, gah, snort, burble” ilk – cute, fun, he’s learning, but no real words. I’d had tried a while back doing vowel sounds to see if he’d mimic them back. Nope. Oh well. This time, he’s repeatedly repeating back the word. So. Dang. Proud.

And onto “everything else.”

It’s been a quiet, productive, cozy weekend.

W’s been working hard on his thesis – every now and then he’ll emerge from his office to rant about test-grids and phi-lines merging with Cartesian coordinates while pointing to a blow-up globe I gave him.

P1040517It was raining hard when I woke up on both Saturday and Sunday, which has been less than delightful. But later during Saturday morning the rain did pause and I quick found a garage sale on line that started at 10am. Perfect! I left the boys sleeping in bed, made a few wrong turns, but found it. Spent exactly $1 on a Daffodil Festival poster, which I am pleased to own – the Daffodil Festival is a Gloucester springtime tradition. Gloucester, didn’t you know, is the daffodil capital of the US! There’s a craft fair, zillions of daffodils sold in bunches and an accompanying 5k that my best friend and I have run several times. The posters are always wicked expensive so I never buy one, but now I have a happy souvenir to remind me of all the Daffodil Fest 5ks we’ve done. I think maybe I’ll sign me and The Walters up for this year’s 5k come to think of it. We have to break in our Bob running stroller!

P1040475Despite the dreary rain, there are some signs of spring just making me itch to go outside! Our yard is one perpetual soggy mess; I would love it to be dry enough to sit outside on the ground with WV, but alas. However, the garden is in progress in our bedroom instead – W rigged up a grow lamp and it has accelerated the process of seedlings peeping their shy first leaves out from beneath the soil. I think our March dual-post will be all things garden-starting, so I won’t say more. The spring peepers have started their cliche-ing-ly incessant crepuscular chatter, too, which is exciting and makes me think of balmy nights! And we’ve left the porch door open to let in the outside (and vice versa) and turned off the heaters a few times. I even sat with WV in the rocker out on the porch for almost an hour talking to an old VIMS friend, whom I hadn’t spoken with in a while! So great to catch up and breath fresh air.

We took a few dog walks, picking between the rain drops, and we (mostly WV) took several naps. He’s getting so big.

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Of course, no weekend is a weekend unless replete with too many cooking endeavors: an insanely tasty apple chicken salad (from a fellow foodie friend – I’ll check with her to see if she’s cool with me broadcasting the recipe), whole wheat pancakes, 8 pizza doughs (to be pizza’d this week), to name a few. WV also had his first pork – I smashed it up with apples (he now eats them incorporated with other flavors) and breast milk and added avocados once and another time, carrots. I also made mushed (boiled, then finely shredded) chicken with broccoli and bananas for him. I kind of want to eat baby food from now on – it was all delish!

Hrm…some other housey things I did in my “free” time? I’m trying to keep up with my book group book, Einstein Never Used Flashcards, by reading while BFing. We drooled over a silly posh-farmer catalogue that showed up in our mail box and agreed we could make everything ourselves. For our farm. I also sorted out a bunch of baby items to consign and then proceeded to miss the deadline to sign up for the local kids’ consignment sale (in my defense, they don’t appear to state the deadline on their website). I bought a mini-tube of super glue and went about the house a-gluin’ all the things I had made a mental note to mend over the past, say, 2 years. It may sound mundane, but small but attainable goals run this household. On my list: a milk-glass (love!) candlestick my Aunt gave me that had cracked in half when the candle burned too low, a magnet that had lost it’s magnet with a picture of my sister spitting water (she’d kill me if I showed the actual pic), the ceramic knob that informatively says “shower” and turns the shower on and off which was broken exactly in half, and a large chunk of a plant pot’s drainage dish that I kept propping up and would continually get knocked off by an animal. glued edited

Tonight, we stayed in, missing a sure-to-be awesome concert in Richmond that our friend’s band, Handsome Molly, was playing. But tomorrow I may go to Richmond to have brunch with her and mah BF! Looking forward to it!

{this moment}

“A Friday ritual.  A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.”  ~SouleMama

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If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.
Happy Friday.

Reflection on the birth of the Izzlettes

It’s hard to believe four years ago today I sat in the wee hours of the morning with my beloved Izzy as she gave birth to her puppies. They were born in the dim half-light of dawn, a chilly, auspicious day.

I tracked her pregnancy from conception to birth. She had very good prenatal care; vet visits, an ultrasound, regular slow walks, a cush whelping box (that I built!), plenty of yogurt to aid against calcium deficiency and extra healthful treats – carrots, eggs, chicken. I had been on high alert for several days, knowing the time was nigh. Her temperature spiked the evening before she went into labor, a sign that she was really ready. I had been sleeping on the couch downstairs to be with her because it was hard for her to get up the steps to my bedroom with her giant belly. She looked a bit like an eggplant. I vowed to stay up through the night because I knew she would go into labor imminently. It was a long night – I could tell she was retreating within herself, prepping, nervous. I must have dozed off, because the next thing I knew, Iz literally jumped up onto me, waking me – I could hear the pitiful shrill cries of a puppy in the whelping room (now W’s office) and she was quivering. I was immediately up and in action. I led Iz, clearly scared, back to the whelping box, picked up the frightened puppy and rubbed him dry and warm as the vet had shown me, placing him back with Iz. She got into a rhythm and knowingly, gracefully became strong and purposeful. I sat with her, silent, until she needed me. Soon, there were 4 puppies. They reminded me of premature hippopotami – squinched wrinkled features, extremely short hair and pink pads and noses. Then there were 5. 6. 7. Then 8. She had fallen behind chewing through each sac and severing the umbilical cords, so at that point, with her understanding, I took each puppy, removed it from the sac, made sure its airway was open, tied off the cord with a bit of dental floss, and put it back with her. We (ok, I) were expecting 5 – the vet had said only 5!!! She took a bathroom break outside and I gave her some water and a little yogurt. Then there were 9. At 10 puppies, I was flipping my gourd wondering if there was an endless fount of puppies welling from within her, and Iz was exhausted. Then there were 11. Finally, she was finished. 11 puppies – 4 yellow (like their baby daddy, Murphy) and 7 black, like their amazing Mama. Six girls, 5 boys. They would be named Imogen (my crazy, pure-of-heart IMA!!!), Lucy, Luna, Baby, Titus, Storm, Turk, Seeger, Lila, Porter and Maxx. What an incredible morning. Izzy rotated through them all, licking, cleaning, checking each one. She nursed them and warmed them. All 13 of us slept.

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Three and a half years later, the roles were reversed and Iz returned the favor – laying at my feet as I labored in the kitchen, in the living room, in the bathroom, through each contraction with WV. My doula dog. She never left my side. She knew what to do, how to be there for me. We had our babies together.