Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's Beginning to Sound a Lot Like Christmas....

The Big Ballerina has a very short Christmas list. The main item on her list is an electric scooter. Being a mom. And a woman. Or in other words. A normal-thinking human. It is obvious to me that Santa will leave an electric scooter under the tree this year.

Enter BSD. The dad. A man. Or in other words. A backwards-thinking human.

The setting: Lunch at our favorite sushi restaurant today.

"BB wants an electric scooter for Christmas. It's the only real gift on her list," I report.

"Santa can't just give BB a scooter. He has to bring one for LB also. You know LB will use it without asking if she doesn't have one too," BSD reasons.

"This is true. But, if LB gets her own, she's likely to take off to North Carolina on it. Giving her something with that much potential for freedom is hazardous to her health and mine," I counter back.

"No, LB will have to have one too. Maybe Santa shouldn't get them scooters. Besides I'm going to get them something else anyway."

As soon as the words escape his lips, he knows he's hosed.

"What? What are you talking about?! What?!? What are you planning to get them?!?!" I begin tearing into him like a dog with a new bone.

"Nothing. Forget I said anything. It's not a big deal," he sighs, trying to back himself out of his corner.

"No. What are you getting them? What is it?! It's not another sewing machine is it?!?" I gnaw a little more.

Laughing, BSD replies, "No. It's not a sewing machine."

"What? What is it?! It better not be a dog. Or some other crazy idea that I'm going to have to take care of!" grr. grrr. grrrr.

More laughter, "It's not a dog. It's not a snake. It's nothing motorized," he assures me.

And then he pauses.

"It's a boat! You're getting them a boat?!?" The man forgot that I'm a witch. I know things.

Staring at me in disbelief, he confesses. "OK..it's a kayak. But it's not a big one. It's not expensive. WHY did I even open my mouth?"

Deja-vu to last Christmas again. The same words he spoke about the sorry sewing machine he bought last year.

"Actually, I'm getting two. One for BB and one for LB. We need two," he continues. There's that same logic again.

I shake my head. How can he think this is a good idea?

"But they didn't ASK for kayaks. And they can't use them until the summer. At least they can use the scooter right away. Not to mention that BB ASKED for a scooter! Get them the kayaks for their birthdays in March when they can start using them!" I continue chewing on his ass my bone.

"Let's just tell Santa to bring them both the scooters and the kayaks," he declares.

"What??!! That's too much! They don't need all that. Save the kayaks for their birthdays. It's perfect for their birthdays."

"No. Santa is bringing them kayaks. Christmas is for kids. It's supposed to be magical. And full of presents," he begins to preach.

I sit quietly as he pays the lunch tab, and continues to wax poetic about the wonders of the season.

OK, Father Christmas. Get your kayaks. But Santa will not be bringing any scooters. We'll see how excited the ballerinas are on Christmas morning. When you explain that they can't take them down to the beach until May!

P.S. - Thank you for the sweet comments regarding my mom. She is still in the hospital. It's bad. It's not going to get better. But she's hanging in there as best as she can.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

November Family Photo: Thankful

 There is nothing I am more thankful for than moments like this.
 Snuggled deep under the covers with my peeps. Cozy and warm.

Breathing in the love.

That's where I want to be. 

November started off wonderfully. With plenty of family time. And moments like these.

And then my world turned upside down.

My mom was admitted to the hospital on Thursday. After just having gallstones removed a few days prior, it was discovered that the real problem causing her excruciating pain is a tumor blocking her intestines. The cancer she's been fighting for years has now created a major problem. And the doctors cannot remove it. There are no definite answers. There is no prescribed course of action. It is a day by day waiting game. 

Fortunately, each day has brought a tiny glimmer of hope. Today the fight was back in her voice. She quizzed me to make sure I knew how to make our special family stuffing recipe. And we laughed.

So, on this Thanksgiving eve, while I am thankful that I will share a moment like this tomorrow morning...
 I am most thankful for the laughter that I shared with my mom today.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hammie Sammies on Sweet Potato Biscuits

I normally wouldn't post two recipes in a row, but I'm so excited about this one. 

BSD works odd hours so we often "do lunch" instead of date nights. No worries about babysitters that way. And the same food costs almost half the price.

A few weeks ago we went to a little cafe that cooks by the "Buy Local, Eat Fresh" motto. I had to try the sweet potato biscuits when I saw it on the special's board. C'mon "sweet potato biscuits?" The name alone is adorable! And the little hammie sammie (along with a tiny green salad and ramekin of lentil soup) they served me did not disappoint. I haven't stopped thinking about those biscuits since.

BSD hasn't been free for lunch lately so I decided to try making them myself. And I hit pay dirt! I just whipped up a dozen, and with the help of the butcher, I figured out the proper ham to use. 

I've already eaten one biscuit plus two hammie sammies. I think I'm going to explode. But it was so worth it.  They were warm out of the oven and oh, so moist. The "country ham" smells a bit funky, but tastes a lot like prosciutto to this Yankee with European roots. I slathered them up with some peach jam and jammed them into my mouth.

Try them! Trust me. You don't have to be a sweet potato lover to like them. You don't even have to make hammie sammies out of them. 

Eat them plain,
With a little butter,
Or a little jam. 
Eat them for breakfast, 
or lunch or dinner.
Just eat them, eat them, 
Sam I am!

Sweet Potato Biscuits
makes 12
1 cup mashed baked sweet potato (1 large) (I just nuked it in the microwave about 8 min.)
2/3 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted (I only had salted tonight. Worked fine.)
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Parchment paper

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.*
  • In a medium bowl, mix the sweet potato, milk and butter.
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
  • Gently mix the dry ingredients into the sweet potato mixture to form a soft dough.
  • Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a deep golden orange tinged with brown.
  • Serve warm or let cool on a wire rack.
* The picture above shows the dough on a greased baking sheet. I have since discovered that they cook better without greasing the pan. Just line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
    NOTE: The ham is called "Country Ham." I bought it sliced THIN at the deli counter. The label read "Red Eye," but I think the brand was Smithfield. That may be a local Virginia brand, though. If you're making them for a BIG party, you can buy a whole ham. It comes in a cloth bag here and is not refrigerated. This is a cured, smoked? ham. Salty taste, but luckily, not overbearing. It really is a lot like prosciutto.

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    The Big Red Pot: Pumpkin Chili

    When the weather turns brisk, out comes the big red pot. I love this pot. I've had it for years. I'll have it forever. It's cast-iron and could easily be used as a lethal weapon it's so heavy.

    Last week, the big red pot simmered with Pumpkin Chili. It's a recipe that we discovered in 2001. By 2002, we lost the magazine it came from, and we hadn't been able to make it since.

    After much determination, I finally found the missing recipe, and promptly pulled out the big red pot to make a batch. To prevent another eight years from passing before we make it again, I'm going to post the recipe here. It's vegetarian, but very hearty. Definitely satisfying for carnivores as well.

    The original recipe was actually a pumpkin and black bean soup, but I like chili better than soup so it's been majorly doctored. It's super easy to make. Just dice up a few veggies, open A LOT of cans, dump and simmer. Done. It seems all of the ingredients I used came from Trader Joe's this time around. I think they should throw me a kickback for all of this free advertising! A gift card would be fine, Joe.

    Pumpkin Chili
    1 Tbsp. olive oil
    4 garlic cloves, minced (I just use a garlic press)
    1 yellow onion, diced
    1 cup diced red pepper
    1 cup diced green pepper (sometimes I just use 2 cups of one color. doesn't matter) 
    1 tsp. ground cumin
    1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
    1 small jar chipotle salsa (I used half a jar of the Garlic Chipotle Salsa from Trader Joe's)
    6 cups vegetable broth
    2 15 oz. cans solid pack pumpkin
    4 15 oz. cans of beans (whatever kind you like. I used black, kidney, cannellini, & pinto.)
    1 cup frozen corn, thawed and drained. (I used one 15 oz can, drained.)
    1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro. (Don't skimp!)

    In a large pot, heat oil and cook garlic, onion, red and green peppers over med-high heat until tender, about 6 minutes.

    Add cumin, cayenne and salsa. Cook for 1 minute longer.

    Add vegetable broth and pumpkin. Stir to blend well. Cook for 5 minutes.

    Stir in beans, corn and cilantro. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or so.

    Garnish with sprigs of cilantro and grated cheese, or any other chili toppings you like.

    NOTE: This chili tastes better the next day and the next. The more time the flavors have a chance to meld, the better. Great dish to stick in a crockpot and bring to a potluck.

    Sunday, November 14, 2010

    Sunday Slide Show: Indoor Natural Light

    Today was my Portrait class. I mentioned earlier that the assignment was to shoot using indoor natural light. I also mentioned that I had become obsessed with looking for light. Luckily, my friend, Nicole who is taking the class with me also became obsessed. So together the two of us drove our families, friends and neighbors nuts. Not to mention ourselves.

    Even though we never found the location of our dreams, I think we both came away with some good new knowledge. All self-inflicted, through fumbles and foils. Due to a deep-seated need to follow the rules to a tee.

    I am beginning to see where the big ballerina gets her safety patrol instincts from. There were classmates (not ME or Nicole, of course) who did NOT follow the rules. And, boy were there kicks under the table and disapproving glances passed between the two of us this afternoon. Yep, I think Nicole and I were definitely high-ranking safety patrol officers back in the day.

    Were my pictures perfect? Hell, no.

    Did I follow the rules? You betcha.

    Integrity, baby. Integrity.

    Critique: "Light too harsh."

    Critique: "Much better. Light patterns on the wall make the pictures interesting." 

     (BSD in his shaping room)

    Me: I really feel like these captured the assignment the best. Definitely portraits and the location helps tell a story. 

    Teacher: Yes. Good use of light. You can tell he's in an industrial place. Power cords. Tools. And that thing in the middle.

    Teacher is definitely not a surfer.

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    Ten on Ten: November

    November 2010....Ten on Ten...A Wednesday that was more like a Friday...All together...Uneventful...Just the way we like it. Thank you, God.

    Monday, November 8, 2010

    I'm Obsessed...

    My blog has really been neglected these past few weeks. I've become obsessed with my latest assignment for my photography class. This time we have to take portraits indoors using only natural light. So every spare minute when I'm not...
    • making breakfast, 
    • making lunches, 
    • hitting the gym,
    • putting away toys, 
    • doing laundry, 
    • driving carpools,
    • cooking dinner getting take-out, 
    • helping with homework, banging my head against the wall, 
    • bathing my ballerinas shoving deodorant at my girls because they stank,  
    • tucking my babes into bed yelling at the kids to go to bed already...
    I've been...
    • observing the light in my house
    • eating handfuls of candy from the ballerinas' Halloween buckets
    • dreaming of more exciting places than my house to take indoor pictures
    • trying to locate these more photogenic structures
    • wasting hours trying to upgrade my Photoshop to open RAW files
    • stalking my neighbor's garage in search of the perfect light
    • hunting for props for the elaborate photo shoots I've envisioned
    • poring over photos by Bert Teunissen
    • wishing I lived in a quaint, old European village with gorgeous photo ops at every turn
    • realizing my photos for this assignment will probably be taken in my plain, boring house

    Unless one of you...
    • lives in an old, European village 
    • has an old barn I can dress up with a few props 
    • has a storybook potting shed in your backyard
    and will let me stay with you for a few days. I'll be gone by Saturday. The assignment is due this Sunday.


    I'll be back on Wednesday, November 10th for Ten on Ten. Hope you'll all join in!

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    Slide Show Sunday: Halloween

    Yes, I know it's Monday. Sunday was just too busy to get some blog lovin' from me. Halloween is a big day around these parts. Not only is it one of our favoritest holidays, it also happens to be my birthday.

    And, since I am so loved, our whole neighborhood throws me a giant party. Complete with a Tiki Bar, dogs and burgers on the grill, and all night merry-making. Unfortunately, I have no pictures of the special bar they built in my honor. Or the giant crowd in attendance. Or the jello shooters.

    But I have an excuse. You see, my costume had a very key accessory. A heavy accessory that had to be worn around my neck. The same neck that would have had a heavy camera around it. And since I don't have two necks. And I didn't want people to think I was just some skanky mom in a rubber jumpsuit. I had to forgo the camera in place of the binoculars.

    Next year I will be a little more careful to choose a costume that does not require binoculars. Or any other heavy object to be worn around my neck. That may interfere with the documentation of my huge birthday bash.