Monday, August 31, 2009

Beef Bourguignon. It's what's for dinner.

Butter Croissants


1 recipe croissant dough(2 3/4 lb), chilled

Special equipment: a ruler, a pastry brush, parchment paper, 2 or 3 garbage bags (unscented), a spray bottle with water

I would add "courtesy of," but when the only ingredient listed for butter croissants is "1 recipe croissant dough," well, I don't think that's very courteous.

But if you do take yet another click on Epicurious, you will find the actual recipe for croissant dough, and then spend the next 18 hours rolling, buttering, folding, chilling and repeating until the angels come down from heaven and share their lunch with you in the form of the perfect pastry.

The croissant project was part of a larger gourmet dinner menu which featured Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon which I have been craving since reading the book, Julie and Julia. So I whipped up the croissants, beef, noodles, farm salad with goat cheese, baked tomatoes with blue cheese, creme brulee and chocolate souffles.

Of course it was absolutely delicious--if not incredibly time-consuming--but it was also healthy.

But wait, you say. How could anything with that much butter, bacon and wine possibly be healthy?

According to my completely unscientific research and biased opinion, I think there is more to heath food than the Acai berry. For quite some time now, I've been craving food that actually tastes like food, and I think that's where the secret lies. The less processing and more cooking, the better. Less factory machinery, and more kitchen stand mixers. Less cardboard and more Calphalon.

Now granted, I don't think there will be many Tuesday nights in between baseball and homework that I'll be able to prepare recipes that call for use of a ruler and the simmering of lardons, but I will be making more of a concentrated effort of the actual cooking of food.

Or die of heart disease and gout trying.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I don't think it was because I leaned against that flagpole with the wet paint

We may be moving somewhat slower today than previous mornings of this first week of school, but I am high-tailing it to the salon shortly after Pepe le Pew just tried to seduce me with a full dip and something about the Casbah at the French perfume counter.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Let the messy truth be told

After three full days of having no older siblings around to take the rap, I realize now that it is, in fact, all Jessie's fault.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tears of awe

I present to you the mother cliche of motherhood cliches: I am having a tough time getting through Amy's first day of Kindergarten.

I know, I know. You're thinking as you roll your eyes across the mommy blogoverse, Of course you are--you and everyone else with a URL and an offspring are lamenting over babies growing up so fast...yada, yada, dabba dabba do. What makes you so different?

Nothing, really, but while I of course share that nostalgic element that this historic moment dictates, I don't think that's exactly what has me so melancholy today.

After we dropped A-Dog off wearing her new uniform and a smile, Jess and I headed out to try out some things to add to our own new routine. We went to the gym where I read worked out unenthusistically and J played in the playroom with a couple of other younger siblings. Afterward, we headed over to Fresh Market for some caper berries and fresh fruit for the kids' snacks tomorrow because that seemed like a good thing to do. But as we loaded up the bags of over-priced guilt organics the tears began to come in earnest, and I realized maybe it wasn't sadness or nostalgia or anything like that. It was something different, something familar like when the boys were having their first Kindergarten days, but I couldn't quite name it back then.

I can now.

It's awe.

Pure, quiet awe.

Perhaps it's because of her special childhood and all of the unique obstacles she's overcome so beautifully. Maybe it's because we arrived at this place by such a different path that it feels so strange. Maybe it's because she's my little girl. Or it could be that motherhood feels differently as we age. (I really hope not.)

Maybe all or none of those, but that's kind of the cool thing about awe as opposed to just wonder or amazement.

Awe isn't everyday (or then it would be clueless bewilderment) so when you do feel it, no explanation is needed. You simply drop to your knees by the sheer beauty of it, and accept it as is--no conditions.

I'm not going to overanalyze this moment, feel silly or mislabel it. I am in constant awe of these gifts that I'm lucky to unwrap a little more everyday, and if some moments are more transparent than others to appreciate them, so be it.

Those were not sad tears nor joyful ones.

They were awe-inspired.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Paper, pens, and BLT-Rexes

As reported earlier, we bagged the early Back To School prep and headed over to Orlando instead. Although there is no official commandment regarding coveting thy neighbor's vacation, we were guilty nonetheless when we heard that some friends were staying at the J.W. Marriott. We decided to join them uninvited, because it is the greatest hotel ever.

It was a good call.

We had fun lazing along the lazy river, and then we ate one of the best (and most expensive) dinners I've ever had. It was absolutely divine, and had me Googling "caper berries" this morning as the taste lingered on my tongue. So. Good.

On Sunday, we made our way back home by way of Downtown Disney which is our way of appeasing the kids when we come within 50 yards of the entrance to Magic Kingdom but never make it inside of a park. So they got a souvenir to a place we didn't go, and then we sat down to eat at the T-Rex Cafe or something. It's similar to the Rain Forest Cafe in size, scope and robotic giant things, but the theme is prehistoric. You and your party of seven get to journey back to a simpler time when man and dinosaur could share a quesadilla in peace before the next meteor crashed into the planet.

Jessie was not at all impressed by the entire display. It was the first time I've ever witnessed that child intimidated by anything, and I'm tempted to install a rbo-tronic woolly mammoth in front of the pantry if it will keep her from dumping boxes of rice onto the carpet every freaking day. But she still managed to wolf down some macaroni-saurus before we got back into the car.

Today I've paid for our a weekend with some last minute scrambling, but that's just okay. They've all got a clean uniform or two and 2 out of the three new backpacks arrived, so we'll be set tomorrow.

The weekend also provided me a 48-hour reprieve from thinking about Amy going to Kindergarten, so that was a bonus, too.

(How on earth is Amy going to Kindergarten tomorrow?)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

We should be, but we're not

On the eve of this last weekend before school starts, we should be doing a lot of things.

We should be cleaning something.

We should be washing uniforms.

We should be labeling school supplies and new backpacks.

We should be stocking the pantry with healthy snacks in lunchbox sizes.

We should be going to bed early to get used to the new schedule.

We should be doing a lot of things.

But this is also the last weekend that we don't have any have-to's. And I have a feeling that it will be a quite while before we can declare that again.

So we're bagging all of the shoulds and spending the poolside relaxing together just because we can.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Can I have some lingonberries with that rug?

Tonight I shed a little of my sub- and got urban when I visted IKEA for the first time.

It was

Which is cool, and fun, and so very eat your chinese straight out of a box with chopsticks-esque. I bought a little couch thing for Stevie's room and some colored pencils, a cutting board and Swedish meatballs. I probably could have picked up a lot more, but it was so overwhelming and I felt so naively unprepared for the experience that is IKEA..

And I realized as I was going up and down the eleventy hundred aisles of mattresses 3centimeters (remember, it's a European store) from the floor, that I like box springs and prefer my egg foo young on a plate with matching flatware.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The beginning of the end

Well that was fun. Celebrated a friend's birthday last night by mopping up the dance floor with some little 20-somethings' bad hair extensions. Apparently, this particular group of shebeasts were as immature as their livers and credit scores and thought they could take over our parquet. Ha! Don't mess with us on a milestone birthday celebration in which babysitters are being paid and there is cake involved. We will eat you alive, beyotches.

*I needed to get that lame attempt at being a hipster out of the way, because this is the week I fall back into full-throttle Mommy mode as the last full week before school starts. There are supplies and uniforms to procure. There are lunchboxes to get. There are doctors and dentists and shoes. Lots and lots of shoes. We haven't worn shoes or socks since May.

And it is also the week that I turn into the raving Nighttime witch as I try and fail to get them all regulated on some sort of bedtime/wake up ritual which is just so hard to do in the middle of August when it's 96 degrees outside and all summer long I've allowed them to go to sleep when it's dark and wake up when it's light.

How are we doing so far? It's 11:40 and we're having a sleepover and everyone is still awake. I'd better go cackle them a lullaby.

Friday, August 14, 2009

We put our names on the straws...

Everyone should have friends that define "having a cocktail together" as this:

Especially when the cocktail is served at 12:30 on a Thursday afternoon.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Day 17

There wasn’t supposed to be a Day 17, but we’re still 600 miles from home so there may just be 18, 19, and 20.

But at least I have time to reflect.

If I had an anti-bucket list--those things in my life I’ve done but wouldn’t repeat on a dare--several items would be from this trip. For instance, I don’t think you could pay me to take a 31’ camper on the Cross Bronx Expressway again. Some of my sense of humor flew off from a massive pothole and was hit by oncoming traffic and then unceremoniously flipped off while other angry drivers urinated on it from the Throgs Neck Bridge.

I also will never believe that “clean, modern shower facilities” are defined universally. After one “shower” upon a 50 year old peeling linoleum basin with a faucet pulled on by a rotting tow rope that trickled cold run-off from the dumping station, I told my husband not only not to bother bathing there, but please don’t even go near the bathrooms because if he saw what I had just done he’d think less of me as a person.

And while I know you’re expecting the next item on the list to read “Never step foot into an R.V. again,” well, it’s not. Despite all of our mechanical foibles, I still would love to take this trip again someday. When things were working properly, we really had a great time.

Sure, I’d do some things differently--probably pack more clothes, extra road flares and brush up on the inner workings of fuel pumps--but it wasn’t a total loss. The food poisoning went away after 18 hours and the rental company reimbursed us for all the lost days and hotel rooms without too much protest.

But camping along the Long Island Sound and star-gazing with my kids was something not to be missed. The playing with fireflies and nightly campfire talks were precious. And even watching my kids remain calm and flexible during adversity was surprisingly meaningful. It turns out, they are pretty wonderful people who never complain and can make me laugh even in the most unfunny moments. And while I’m sorry that more of those funny moments didn’t occur at scenic campsites in the wilderness instead of various Fairfield Inns across the south, well, there are many worse things.

And so while it certainly won’t be in this particular make and model (one that I think should be put out of its misery and ours) I will bet that our family will opt for the Holiday Rambler over the Holiday Inn next time.

I leave you with some vacation photos:

"Hey kids! Welcome to your first night of camping! You're all up to date on your tentus shots, right?"

This was the shot I was sure I was going to have to turn over to the police as evidence when they asked where was the last time we saw Stevie...

Why is there no pre-printed page for Baby's First Junkyard Day in the babybook?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Send wine

The complete wrap-up post is coming--just as soon as I get over my considerable state of WTF-ness.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Day 314 or something

I’m not exactly sure what day this is, but I’m pretty sure it’s the one that I have stopped making sense and have lost all perspective. In the “I shiz you not” category, we have broken down once again.

This time, we are outside Charlotte, North Carolina and I’ve grown weary of this particular routine. This mechanic’s name is Hal, and he has had many past experiences with RV’s. In fact, he told my husband that he doesn’t go into the actual camper anymore because so many of them “are just rolling brothels.”


Actually, that makes a lot of sense because I feel like I’m getting screwed every time I get into this one.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Day 7-11

After spending several nights visiting family at a beautiful campsite on Long Island’s north shore, we find ourselves in Hershey, Pennsylvania. This was not on our original itinerary, but not much of this trip has so we’re even. But after telling the kids we were going to spend the day at a chocolate-themed amusement park and not staring at stale vending machine candy bars in a mechanic’s waiting room, the look of sheer joy that returned to their faces was well worth the detour. (Although I still think the greatest thrill rides of the trip were in various tow trucks across the southern United States.)

That is not to say that Hershey doesn’t come with its own set of quirky happenstances that are contributing to my exhaustive camping education.

For instance, I can probably trace back the origin of the Reese’s cup right from this very campground. The campsites are so painfully close together that I bet someone’s chocolate got into a neighbor’s peanut butter during just a stiff wind. (Look for a toasted marshmallow/grilled hot dog confection from Hershey’s very soon.)

I also can assure you first-hand that the cocoa beans in Hershey products are of the freshest variety. I know this because the freight train that carries them passes within 50 feet of our camper several times a night between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. It sounds like a freight train coming within 50 feet of our camper several times night between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Day 6ish

Day 6:

We have meandered our way across Ohio and New York by way of Cooperstown--or as I like to refer to it, YouCan’tParkThatBigPooperstowninCooperstown. And now that our home is actually mobile, I have to say that traveling this way with four kids has its advantages.

A road trip of this magnitude in a mere sedan wouldn’t be nearly as comfortable nor as much fun. While the miles fly by outside, we can eat, play games, watch movies and even change diapers without several stops and ecoli exposure in gas station restrooms. Naps need not be vertical, and meals can come from a kitchen rather than a grease-stained paper bag. It’s kind of nice to make a peanut butter sandwich and a plate of fruit for lunch rather than trying to clear a McDonald’s drive thru.

In fact, dining on this trip has been one of the highlights. We have eaten like kings (monarchs with a penchant for marshmallows) and it’s been delicious. We’ve grilled outside most nights, and whenever possible we’ve stopped at local farm stands so everything is fresh and tasty. I found some interesting recipes on which for the most part worked out well. The refrigerator and freezer are surprisingly generous, so we were able to plan and shop for a lot of meals in advance.

so with the exceptions of a particularly charred pot roast in the maiden voyage of a cast iron dutch oven and the Aldosta-vay Ouper-gray, meals on the road have been relatively happy.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Oh yeah, I remember now, this is supposed to be camping

On the fifth day of our camping vacation, we camp.

After five days on the road, we have finally made it to our first campground in central Ohio, and I am pretty overjoyed at this accomplishment. I am so ecstatic not to be spending another night in an unscheduled roadside motel that I will overlook the rather subpar accommodations.

In fact, I will refrain from pointing out that this particular park looks nothing like their scenic website--I will instead assume that they were just overly-generous or completely blind.

Because right at this very moment, it doesn’t matter. There is a campfire burning, and the kids are chasing fireflies. We have feasted on grilled chicken and hot dogs. The air is cool and faintly smoky--and not from the hood of the R.V. I am surrounded by family and not mechanics with nicknames that refer not to their mechanical prowess, but their acting abilities.

Pass me a marshmallow.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

And it gets even better

For Days 3 and 4, please re-read Day 2, only replace “Corbin, Kentucky” with all Valdosta references, add a second tow truck, a harrowing all-night wait for said tow truck off the side of the road, and another couple of hundred bucks in lost campground deposits.

And please allow me to re-introduce a new recurring character on our show: the Valdosta Holiday Inn Grouper. He will now play the part of the bane of my existence--a role previously played by a cantankerous Ford fuel pump.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Day 2 of our "vacation"

I can’t describe Day 2 to you for the following reasons:

1.) You wouldn’t be able to understand a single word. I would have to write nonsensical phrases like, “This car has fleas,” “Watch the baby while she plays in the junkyard,” and who can forget the classic, “I hope the D.O.T. don’t [sic] have a roadblock set up or your son might have to spend the night in a rural Georgia jail.”

2.) It would be an illogical ordering of random words that would frustrate and confound you and leave you wondering just what in the hell happened on that desolate South Georgia interstate that caused this once semi-normal family to die a little inside.

3.) It would be littered with cursing. Really bad words you shouldn’t repeat without an air horn censor nearby.

4.) There were many, many laws broken--not only a myriad of state, Federal and local, but also physical. And while we escaped “dem smokies,” I don’t know the statute of limitations for any of those violations, or whether pleading “Guilty by reason of” is a legal defense recognized in a court of law. (Although no jury would convict us under the circumstances.)

5.) You would have to spit at least 6 or seven times. Why? I have no idea, but all day everyone expectorated liberally around me, and frankly, it was disgusting and I’d rather not go through that again.

No, it is best if we put Day 2 to bed in that same Valdosta Holiday Inn where we started after a nice steak dinner and a trip to Wal-Mart in a 1981 Buick LaSabre with no interior upholstery, a gnat infestation, no working headlights and that vaguely smells of a cocktail of motor oil, feet, and broken dreams.

Cross-posted on Whoa Momma