Sunday, August 27, 2006

Housewife for a day

In spite of the fact that it's almost 90 degrees in the house today (when will this crazy weather end???), I decided to play housewife for the day. This, for me, means a little cleaning and a whole lot of cooking.

It started out simple. I did the dishes, and DH wanted cookies. He loves this one particular recipe that has salted peanuts and chocolate chips in them. And since I've finally found trans-fat-free shortening, I feel better about making them (I'm leaning toward cutting out trans fats and high fructose corn syrup, but I'm fighting an uphill battle). Then I realized I was out of muffins, which I take for breakfast on the mornings I walk with my friends. So, I figured, while the oven was on...

So I tried a new recipe, off the back of a box of currants. Apple, currant, oat muffins. They're good, but there is very little batter for the amount of "stuff" in it, so they LOOK like hockey pucks, but they're really very tender and yummy. I was running out of all purpose flour so I substituted cake flour. Worked like a charm. And I tried using my ice cream scoop as a muffin scoop, which also worked perfectly.

Then I realized that I had six bananas going to waste, so I whipped up two loaves of lowfat banana bread (got the recipe years ago from - it's fabulous). I was running out of eggs and I needed to keep some for dinner, so I opened one of the emergency cans (you know, for when bird flu hits), and tried it out. They worked perfectly too. I'm learning so much in the kitchen today!

Enough baking for one day!

Then I made pasta salad to take for lunch tomorrow. Trying something new and totally simple - orzo pasta, fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, sliced olives, and some dried onion, mixed with italian salad dressing. We'll see how it goes - it certainly SOUNDED good! I bet it would be even better if I threw in some fresh mozzarella when I take it tomorrow.

Then I whipped up some manicotti for dinner. It's DH's favorite, and I've been supposed to make it for his birthday dinner (which was the 10th), as soon as it cools down on a weekend. He's tired of waiting, so manicotti it is. And I cut some broccoli out of our garden to steam, to go with it. No aphids this year. YAY! I bought some spray that is mostly organic. It works really, really well...

And now I need to clean the kitchen all over again...but at least I don't have to bake anything for a while!

Does anybody know if there's such a thing as unbleached cake flour???

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Dreaming of a family farm

I bought a turnip at the farmer's market on Saturday. I've always been a big fan of turnips, but this was by far the best turnip I've ever eaten. It was actually JUICY, something you don't see in your grocery store turnips. And it had a really good dose of that authentic turnip taste, which I won't even begin to try to describe.

I bought basil, too. And cilantro. And rainbow baby potatoes (a mix of red, white and purple). And I paid way too much for all of it (except maybe the cilantro). But it is all so GOOD!

I have a garden in my backyard. Maybe 8 feet wide by 20 feet long, I don't really remember. And I plant quite a bit each year (some of my plants would say I plant too much - they don't have room to really spread their wings the way they want too!). But I wish I had more.

I have fantasies of living on a family farm. I did live on my father-in-law's farm for a couple of years, but it wasn't the same - no crops and no animals. Just farmland. Beautiful, but not what I'm thinking of.

I've been reading a bit of John Jeavons book, How to Grow More Vegetables... (, and I like what he has to say.

I'd love to live somewhere where I can grow my whole family's produce each year. Eating what's in season while it's in season; canning, drying and freezing the rest to eat throughout the year. Right now, our garden produces enough that we can eat what we've grown for a few months, but not all year. I want to walk out my back door and pick a peach off a tree and eat it, sweetness exploding in my mouth, juice running down my arms and chin, while I stand in my yard in my bare feet. Home canned cherries in sweet syrup over vanilla ice cream.
Carrots, crisp and sweet. I didn't have to buy carrots for a whole month this year, thanks to our garden. I'm hoping I can get another month out of my second harvest, in about six weeks or so.

I could do it on an acre. It wouldn't be difficult. Two quarter acres of garden plot (one to use and one to lay fallow each year), a quarter acre of fruit trees, two by two. Not so much it's overwhelming, but enough to get a good harvest out of it. Room to plant asparagus, artichokes, and other perennials. Room for berries galore, those little antioxidant wonders. Teach my kids to play in the dirt, let them run free and learn where food comes from.

And maybe a few animals? Well, I'd need more than an acre for that. Maybe some chickens, for fresh eggs, a cow for milking and a few for meat... A big house, with a huge pantry and a couple of freezers.

There. That's my dream.

Monday, August 21, 2006

When smart people do stupid things

I guess the question is why? Why do smart people do stupid things? And what do you do when they do so many stupid things that you have trouble feeling sorry for them any more?

I'm not talking about the choices we make when we fall on hard times. I'm not talking about the things we do when we're blinded by infatuation. I'm talking about the things we do when life is running along smoothly, full steam ahead, and then it comes crashing down around us because we've done something incredibly dumb. Something that never would have happened had we thought about our decisions for five minutes. Why do people do that???

Now, I'll be the first to admit that I'm not perfect. Who is? I didn't really "grow up" until I was about 25. Before that, my parents bailed me out more times than I'd like to admit. But I'm a grownup now, and it's my responsibility to act like one (though yes, my parents still do bail me out from time to time. Like letting us borrow their extra car for three months). And, I've been pretty darn lucky that some of my dumb decisions didn't have worse consequences than they did.

Anyway, I've had several friends over the years who, though they are quite smart, make dumb decisions over and over again. Maybe I'm too judgemental. I'm sure it's a whole lot easier to be an outsider looking in than to actually be in their shoes. But it sure is hard to stay friends with people like that. People who do those things, then continually run back to you saying "oh, poor me, pity me, the whole world is against me". And when you try to suggest ways that they could do things differently, they just don't want to listen.

It's like they refuse to believe that they're adults, and that they have to grow up and make the adult decisions. Like they are just playing a game and someone will come along and bail them out.

Up until now, I've usually just let these friendships cool until they go away all together, feeling like it's too much work and too exasperating. But maybe this is the wrong tactic.

Do you have friends like that? What do you do?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Had to delete the cooking links

Well, I had to delete that really WIDE posting I had about the cooking links, because it was messing with my sidebar. Just know that I have a million and two cooking links, so if anyone ever wants a random sample of odd links (or that totally hilarious LILEKS gallery of regrettable food!), just let me know !

Monday, August 14, 2006

Adventures in infertility...

Wow, it's been a long time since I've posted anything. Oh well, guess it's been a busy summer!

So Larry and I are trying to get pregnant. It's been since October, so I guess that's, what, 10 months now? Not too long in the overall scheme of things, but way too long when you're 32, you've wanted kids your whole life, you've been waiting FOREVER for the opportunity to arise, and it seems like everyone around you is pregnant (disclaimer - I'm completely thrilled for everyone I know who is pregnant, because everyone I know who is pregnant really wanted to be pregnant, and will be a fabulous parent. I'm just jealous as hell. It's perfectly normal!).

My whole life I've been convinced that if I so much as looked cross-wise at a guy, I'd get pregnant. I can't begin to imagine how much trouble I've avoided simply because I believed in the hyper-fertility of all women. I once had a friend who got pregnant the first time she slept with a guy. Then she got pregnant twice more without really trying. That just reinforced my thinking, I'm sure!

Well, not me. I can't get pregnant. Which is annoying as hell. Not without medical intervention, anyway. They tell me I have PCOS. Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome. I don't ovulate. My cycles are whacky, whacky, whacky. I also have polyps in my uterus. This apparently explains why my periods run 14 – 18 days. Funny how I always thought that was normal. I wonder how long those have been in there? There are lots of things I thought were normal, that apparently aren't – pain, cramps, vicious wild mood swings, I'm a hormonal mess!

The polyps will be removed in September. I'm trying hard not to think about the fact that the doctor scared the holy hell out of me when he gave me the “warning” lecture. Let's not think about cerebral edema, pulmonary edema, punctured bladder, punctured uterus (oh, and the electrical burns I read about on the internet. Let's definitely not think about those). It's going to be a perfectly normal, routine surgery. And I'll be home in a few hours, resting comfortably and watching The Waltons on DVD. Yep, I think that would be good recuperation programming!

Anyway, after the polyps, I should be good to go. Just a few more drugs ought to cover it. I'm a walking pharmacy. Blood pressure medication, metformin for my PCOS, and probably some Clomid to boot because I'm still not ovulating, even with the metformin. Clomid means I could have twins. That would be fine by me...we're only planning to have two, so if it's this difficult with the first one we may as well save ourselves the trouble and get it done in one fell swoop, right?

In preparation for my surgery, I had to get a shot last week that put me into temporary menopause. I'll have to get one more before the surgery date arrives. I had my first hot flash this morning. Guess this is a sign of things to come. Man, that was uncomfortable! I thought it was 1,000 degrees in the kitchen when I got up this morning, though Larry assured me it was a comfortable temperature. Wow. I thought I was going to melt into the floor! Fortunately I only have to do two months of that right now. I should eat some soy...

All in all, it's been a heart-wrenching process so far. I really can't wait till it all becomes worth it and I hold that little bundle of joy in my arms...