Feb 18, 2005

The Parsnip Has Been Vanquished; Or What We Do for Love.

Back in "The Beet Goes On" I said that the next root vegetable to conquer would be the parsnip as big as my arm lurking in the basement. Its size and viciousness posed a threat to the cats, and one cat has already died so I thought, better cook this thing up.

My father has fond memories of my mother cooking parsnips in a most tasty way that he can't exactly remember. My father isn't one of your more observant people, and his memories of my mother and my memories of her can diverge significantly, shall we say. So we cling to any shared recollections. And I do heartily concur that my mother did cook up parsnips one Thanksgiving, and that they were quite good.

So, for my Dad's 76th birthday (Feb. 14, celebrated Feb. 15), I made Parsnip Cake. I found it to be insanely delicious, but wait, I did change a couple of things. Emeril says to slice the two 9-inch layers in half. I didn't do that because I didn't feel like it. Also, I did not use all the simple syrup he used. Remember the man is Southern and those folks subsist on sugar and put it in every possible dish. Sugar makes sense in a cake, especially a parsnip cake, but I used only about 2/3 of the syrup. I also used black walnuts, which added more bitterness than regular walnuts would have, but I toasted them first. What with a cup of black walnuts in the cake and another cup in the frosting, and the parsnips, and the cinnamon, this cake had so much depth and interest that it was completely satisfying. Plus I served it with coffee ice cream, which was perfect. (We must have Breyer's ice cream with cake at every birthday party in our household, even if it's overkill.)

The other large hunk of food that I vanquished with great success was a 4 1/2 lb. eye round cut of beef. I'm not vegetarian but not excited by indecent slabs of beef, but my father does love his sauerbraten, and who else is going to cook the guy sauerbraten. It was a bit labor-intensive but totally worth it because I confess it was a lovely way to do up a hunk of cow flesh. It calls for gingersnaps, and even though I had just made them for church fellowship hour, I forgot about the sauerbraten and ate them. Oops! Anyway, Dan made egg noodles. We feasted, except for Will, who kvetched about shapes, textures, and presentation. Nothing new there.

Feb 17, 2005

Another Reason to Love Anna Quindlen

I sweat bullets when I think about sitting it out at endless baseball and soccer games, ever since that fateful ultrasound when we learned our first was a boy. And now there are two! Anna Quinlen has opened a window to my soul.

I passed on the weekend roundelay of kiddie-league sports so our three could hang out with one another. I told people I hoped it would cement a bond among them, and it did. But I really wanted to be reading rather than standing on the sidelines pretending my kids were soccer prodigies. Maybe I had three children in the first place so I wouldn't ever have to play board games. In my religion, martyrs die.

"The Good Enough Mother," February 21 Newsweek

Feb 15, 2005

On Dreaming

I used to have better dreams. In late winter I would dream about flying (not in a plane) over verdant valleys, running and somersaulting through fields of daisies, etc. Well, maybe once or twice I dreamed that, but I think I'm due for another spring dream. I'm tired of dreaming that I'm looking for an apartment, trying to find the room where I'm supposed to give a presentation at a conference, trying to find one of my sons who I've left at a day care center whose location I can't remember, or trying to take a train home only I don't know where home is.

Did you know that you can sometimes create your own dreams by thinking about them right before bed? So I talked to John about the spring dream I want to have. Then I did indeed dream that I was outside. I think it was spring, at least some kind of plant life seems to have been growing. But I was running away from someone. I need more practice.

Feb 14, 2005

My Hairdresser, My Extortionist. First in a Series

Five weeks ago, as my hairdresser poured my customized mix of dark brown and auburn over my hair, she murmured, "Next time I'd like to do some highlights." Getting into the spirit I said, "I guess there's a certain point where dark hair doesn't look that great on women?" "It just needs a little brightening," she clarified ominously. This will probably be $60 over the $45 I pay every five weeks for the color alone, the cut itself being $40. "Okay!" I said in a cheery, dimwitted way.

A few days later, though, as I looked at my 46-year-old face in the mirror, the truth came to me in an epiphany. I am a slave to my hairdresser. "This will not stand," I declared to myself. "I do not exist to pay for my hairdresser's swimming pool maintenance." That remark about my needing highlights was the tipping point. Coloring my hair is no longer worth it. Am I part of a trend?

So. I'm doing it. I'm going gray. I haven't seen my hair color in five years, so this could be a revelation. So stay tuned, Internet.

Feb 12, 2005

Glamour Princess, R.I.P

Our beautiful kitty died of cancer yesterday. My husband, who is answering my blog with a blog of his own, has some great pictures and comments here.

I thought that when I quit my job to be a "stay-at-home" mother (HA!) that I would have time. But I stupidly filled up my time with too many commitments, including three committees (church, moms'group, Jack's Montessori). What was I thinking? Now all three committees are simultaneoulsy clamoring for my attention like one-year-old triplets awakening from their nap.

Must go placate them now.

Feb 6, 2005

Warning: This Post Contains Ambivalence Towards the Super Bowl

In about 25 minutes we're going to watch the Super Bowl. I guess. Until we get bored half an hour later. I broke down a few weeks ago and bought Jack a gray Eagles shirt, not the zillion-dollar jersey, which the woman in front of me was buying three of. Even Jack's Montessori, that bastion of high-mindedness, has Eagles Day every other week or so this year.If you read the Philadelphia Inquirer today you will note that absolutely nothing else is going on in the world, other than the Super Bowl.

Our house does not abound with Eagles pep, however. Jack and Will and I got an Eagles sweatshirt for John on his birthday, and he refuses to wear it out of the house. He says they don't have Eagles Day at Villanova University's Master's in Technology Program. Geeks. Maybe because he is from Steeler country and considers Philadelphia to be "New Jersey"? Grrrr.

Last year Jack started out at a fake Montessori (any preschool can hang out a Montessori sign, beware) whose cutesy holiday pageant ended with the little tykes singing the Eagles anthem. Just in case you needed any more proof that football is a religion. Transferred the kid out right away, phew.

But, still . . . go, Eagles.

Feb 2, 2005

Jack's First Recipe. I'm So Proud.

"Cakimischres" (Cake Mysteries)

1/2 cup baken sodue (baking soda)
1/9 cup makoronee (macaroni)
1/3 teaspoon bakenpoawtr (baking powder)
2/3 cup flawr (flour)
6/1 can tonufish (tunafish)
2/3 cup honee (honey)

"You cook it. And eat it. It's delicious. What if I said "'suspicious?'" --Jack