Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My Machatainisteh

If Gummi had been a girl, he was going to be named Golda. I had been wanting to name one of our children Golda since I had my first son. Four sons later, I'm still waiting.

Why Golda? Let me tell you.

They say when you marry someone, you marry their family, for better or for worse. I do believe I got the 'for better' part. I couldn't ask for nicer relatives than Bo's family; funny, kind, generous folks. My mother-in-law, Barbara, for example, never fails to arrive for a visit without first asking if she can bring me some dark chocolate. And then there's her extended family, or my machatainisteh (isn't Yiddish a great language?).

I first met Barbara's cousin Golda about three years into our marriage when we were visiting my parents in Long Island. Barbara was with us and we all decided to get together with Golda and her husband in New York City. The one thing I remember from that day is how Golda and her husband related to each other. They had been married a while, with kids in their 20's and yet you could see the genuine affection between them. And they were funny too. The comments that flew back and forth between them could keep you chuckling all day.

A few years later after I had my first child, it was Golda who told my mother-in-law that it was important to have a cool house for the new baby and mother. So Barbara bought us an air conditioner. In passing conversation, Barbara told Golda that my rice cooker died. Soon after, we received a brand new 12 cup rice cooker from Golda. She once called from Toys R Us to make sure she was getting the just right gift for the newest baby. The few times we've gotten together, she's treated us like we have always been friends.

But this is not why I'd name my child Golda.

Once at their house, I noticed a picture of a young child. In one of those moments where you blurt out something before you think about it, I asked Golda, "Who's this? I thought you only had two children." Golda explained that it was her eldest daughter who died of cancer at the age of 11. Later that day, I was relating some trivial little problem that, in the end, had worked out well for us. Golda looked at me with a smile and said, "Isn't God good?" This has stuck with me to this very day. How could she say that? How could she experience the most devastating event as a mother and still say God is good?

So that is why I have wanted to name one of my kids Golda; as a reminder that God is good. But I haven't had another girl. Maybe I don't need another girl. Maybe it's enough to tell this story.

God is good.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Are You a Sixth Child?

You Might Be a Sixth Child...

If the 'five minute rule' for food on the floor has been extended to the 'five hour rule'.

If you're a boy but you're wearing a onesie that says "Daddy's Little Princess."

If everyone calls you cute little nicknames because they can't remember what your real name is.

If your mom lets you play with small Legos and sharp pencils.

If your mom lets this

happen to you.

If your car seat has been handed down more times than an English royal title.

If the response to the announcement of your conception is, "Oh, really?"

If people see you being strollered by your oldest sister and say, "My goodness, look at that poor teenage mother."

If the cat doesn't even bother to get up when he sees you crawling his way.

If your highchair consists of an inverted bucket attached to a chair with bungie cords.

If your mother's idea of starting you on solid food consisted of tossing you a bagel at four months.

If you can read for six months before your parents realize it.

If people ask, "Is he clingy?" and your mom says, "I wouldn't know."

If you parents point to your older sibling's baby picture and say, "Uh, yeah, that's you."

If your siblings frequently use you as a prop in their pretend playing.

If you frequently spend the entire day in your pajamas.

If your mom's idea of a diaper bag is a plastic grocery store bag with one diaper in it.

If your fussing doesn't stop your mom from blogging.

(with apologies to Jeff Foxworthy)

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Some of you might be surprised to know that I have lots of issues.

What? You're not surprised?


Not even a little?

Well, anyway, I do and I'm going to tell you about it.

I have a recipe issue.

I love to collect them. I've actually used only 23.4% of them but I love to collect them anyway.

Let me explain.

Here are the recipes I keep by the stove for quick and handy reference. I've removed the bottle of vodka from the counter for this photo. Not that the plate of donuts is really that much of an improvement to my image. This pile group consists of cookbooks with recipes, a red folder with recipes and three binders with recipes.

Here's a better look at what I've got in the corner.

I've got recipes I've been meaning to try and my favorites bookmarked.

This is my 'current folder' which I keep on top of the corner books. In it are recipes I'm going to try this week. No really, I will get them this week. Or maybe next Monday. Yeah, next Monday....but more likely the middle of next week because I have that other thing I need to do. So definitely by next Friday. No really, I mean it.

Then I have these binders.

These were recipes I clipped, mounted onto paper and then cleverly put into page protectors (this is pre-kids, mind you). The black binder is reserved for desserts. I hope to update these some day. Hmmm....yeah.

I bought "The Joy of Cooking" for the Bo Hunkmeister when we were in college. I convinced him to go off of the college meal plan and cook for himself. I figured the Joy was a good starting book. Besides, I wanted one and I knew I was going to marry him someday and the book would be mine. Was that too Machiavellian? He married me anyway.

I thought "The Joy of Cooking" was the standard bearer of cook books. My grandma had one, my mom's was well worn so I figured my kitchen would not be complete without one either. Until I read about Irma Rombauer. Turns out, girlfriend could not cook, but needed some cash and figured publishing a cookbook would be an easy way to get some. She also didn't test more than a third of the recipes she collected. She assumed they worked and some most definitely don't. The term 'Cockaigne' also doesn't mean anything other than she thought the recipe was noteworthy. But where else would you find a recipe for kumquat compote (say that ten times fast)? It also has a great reference section in the middle. So I keep it even though the dream has been sullied.

Now I have a new steady.

"The Best Recipe" from the fine folks at Cook's Illustrated. Can't show you the dust cover jacket with the pretty picture because that got good and stained the first year I had it. This book has some good and tasty stuff, but its recipes are some times a little fussy. What do I mean by this? Their "Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese" calls for mixing a teaspoon of mustard powder with some water before mixing it with the milk before mixing it with the macaroni. Unless it's a specially picked mustard seed from the poop of the civit cat, I see no reason why a basic Mac and Cheese can't withstand a simple squirt from the old French's mustard bottle. They also put in directions like "Invert biscuits onto a clean tea towel" Really? I was just going to use this moldering one here in the corner, but if clean makes a difference, well, by all means, I'll use a clean one.

These guys are my second stringers. You know, the guys you call in for special occasions or when things need a little kick in the pants.

Despite having a recipe issue, I don't own a whole lot of cook books because for me, a cookbook must be usable. I have no patience for a book where I only use one recipe. I also must actually want to eat the stuff. And the ingredients can't be too fussy. I'm really not at a point in my life where star anise and truffles are things that are regularly in my pantry (although I have learned to always stock capers and sundried tomatoes). There also must be some hope that the children will eat it too. I once owned a cookbook called "Cooking with the Two Fat Ladies". Loved the Food Network show but really, are my little babies going to eat Jugged Hare? Not anytime soon. Speaking of Food Network, though I love it, I'm glad I don't have it. I shudder to think of how many trees I'd kill printing out all those recipes. However, I'd like to take a moment here to give a shout out to Alton Brown who introduced me to that cornerstone of gastronomic bliss, brining your chicken.

Having said all that about what I expect from a cookbook, I do have an exception to the rule:

This is one of my favorites. It was from my grandmother. My grandmother owned the Fanny Farmer cookbook, the James Beard cookbook, and one from the Cordon Bleu. But this is the one she gave me. Was there a meta message here?

I love this book because of recipes like this. The directions say, "First you take a live cooter and wait for him to stick his head out from his shell. When he does, you grab it and whack it off."
I take back what I said about the Cook's Illustrated people being fussy.

I own two Japanese cookbooks. Now some of you who know me may ask, "Why do you own a Japanese cookbook when you have a slammin' Japanese cook for a mother?" Because she doesn't measure a blessed thing! Seriously. She only recently bought a decent set of measuring cups. Measuring spoons? Good luck finding one in her drawer. When I ask her, "How do you make such and such?" she says, "Well, I just take a little of this and some of that and it's really quite simple." And then she flies into a whirlwind of motion and the next thing you know you're sitting at dinner and she's asking if you want seconds. So until I can perfect the culinary Vulcan mind meld, I am forced to purchase Japanese cookbooks.

Notice the microwave cook book. Does anyone actually use them? They seem to be a requirement at all yard sales. My chiropractor bought me one 'cause she's funny like that.

I keep these magazines which I still go back to. I hope one day to mark all my favorite recipes in them with labeled sticky notes so I don't have to go through all of them when I'm looking for that fabulous Pad Thai recipe. I also hope dance like Beyonce. Which do you think will happen first? I know, the dancing, right?

I love this old magazine simply for the pictures.

Jello-Mold-O-Rama! Notice the one front and center with the stuff floating in it. Yes sir, I like me a dessert with floaties! I will cook a seven course dinner for the person who can feed me a Jello mold that's actually attractive and tasty. (some limits and restrictions may apply, see small print for contest details)

This is where I keep all my printouts, clippings, recipes friends give me and my personal favorite ~ scribblings on pieces of scrap paper without titles. Nothing like a list of ingredients you copied long ago without any idea how they go together! I hope one day to mount these on paper, put them in protective sleeves and update the binders on my kitchen counter. I also hope to sing like Susan Boyle.

This book actually qualifies for heirloom status. My mother in law got it from a friend and passed it on to Bo Hunkmeister when he was in college. It has some really nice basic stuff in it except for this....

Party Loaf?!? Really?!? I would think the party's over when this makes its way to the buffet table. It's just sea-foam greenish (another one of my issues, but that's a later post) I think I need to go lie down.

Ok, I'm better now.

Now before you go and get your panties in a twist looking for a way to feed my addiction, know this: I've developed some hard and fast rules here about which recipes make their way into my house.

1. No fussy ingredients: Mama's not going to waste smoked oysters on the kiddies.
2. No fussy preparation methods: there's only so many clean tea towels I'm going to sacrifice.
3. The recipe cannot have the words "Cheesy" and/or "Italiano" in the title: to me this means take your average dish and throw cheese and/or tomato sauce on it.
4. A recipe that includes hot dogs and/or Top Ramen noodles is really not a recipe in my book. (did I ever tell you I saw kimchi with hotdogs in it? It made me cry.)
5. No sea foam green. This color should be limited to mint chocolate chip ice cream only.

Well, I feel better having gotten all that off my chest, don't you?

*contest rules: winner must supply groceries for dinner, one large iced coffee and babysit my kids while I make it. Hey, my contest, my rules!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

My Life

So I've been told that I should write a book. Is that conceited to say? The first thing I might want to do is stop starting my sentences with 'So,...'

It seems some people think my funny little comments and stories would make good reading material. The issue for me is that there are enough Mommy bloggers out there writing funny stories about the crazy things their kids did or even worse, what chuckleheads their husbands are. When I told that same someone about my book idea for a immigrant's American dream story, she said, after a rather pregnant pause, "Well then write two books and make the first one funny." Oh, the pressure. To be intentionally funny? I mean, I never set out to humor anyone. I'm just sharing what goes on in my life. That it happens to be funny is because it's better than weeping bitterly over the fact that your kid just spread two containers of baby powder all over his room.

When I mentioned this idea of writing a book to Bo Hunkmeister, he said, "Write what you know."

Well this is what I know.

The on going mess that is my kitchen counter. Please disregard the bottle of vodka. I'm using it to make my own pure vanilla extract from vanilla beans. So are you chuckling because I'm insane enough to make extract or because you think I'm actually doing shots during the day?

You know what? Don't answer that.

Gummi. Sweetness personified. But you already know that.

What, doesn't your kid do their school work in black leather gloves?

This is a crushed Cheerio on my floor. One of 1,445,345,345 that get thrown off the high chair by Gummi and stepped on by me every day. No, wait, I'm exaggerating. The correct amount is 1,445,345,330.

Gyoza (Japanese potsitckers) on a plastic plate from a Mexican restaurant. This qualifies as fusion cuisine, right?

But there's nothing wrong with this bathroom, you say. It's because you don't have Smell-O-Vision on your computer and cannot detect the faint odor of pee left by little boys who consistently miss a target that's larger than their heads. Sorry, little venting going on there.

So What do I write about? Do people really want to read...
...about how W. Bear declared himself "Tub Monkey" and told his brothers, "Let's get naked!"
...about the fabulousity of Bo Hunkmeister? Who, to add some reality to this, in all seriousness, just asked me, no word of lie, "If I eat a DumDum lollipop and Smarties, do they cancel each other out?" (a few too many adjective clauses there)
...about my latest attack of Art School-itis which has me looking to recreate Caille en Sarcophage?

I could do opinion pieces, but really, is there really a need for more commentary about...
...the economy?
...ID vs. Darwinism?
...the need to remove the words "Cheesy" or "Italiano" from recipe titles?
...the over use of ellipsis in this post?

I need to think about this some more

I need to explore some options

I need some ideas

I need a latte

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Catalog of Christmas Cookies

These are chocolate hearts with a white chocolate mint glaze. I got the chocolate heart recipe from Martha Stewart, whom I use to have a healthy disdain for until I made these cookies. Easy to make and very chocolatey. What more could you ask for?

These are Rice Krispie treats shaped into little ball ornaments.

Pecan lace cookies with an orange cream filling. I made these for my chiropractor because she rocks out loud. Unfortunately, she already has a sister with my name.

More Rice Krispie treats in fun shapes. Have I told you how much I love Rice Krispie treats? Yes? Nevermind.

Rugulach with a raspberry filling and with a cinnamon walnut filling. Because you can take the girl out of Long Island but you can't take the Long Island out of the girl.

And finally, because I just didn't have enough to do, I made a ginger bread house.

Look familiar?

Still no?

How about now?

Here's my kids hepped up on candy posing with their mother's latest Art-School-itis attack.

Help us prevent such foolishness. Send your cash donations (or Callebaut dark chocolate) to:
The Art School-itis Prevention Association
c/o the Domestic Goddess
1 Save Me from Myself Plaza
Hopeless, RI

p.s. anyone know of a good food stylist and photographer willing to work on the cheap, please contact me.