May 23, 2007

Lofty Thoughts

The boys are sitting quietly in the kitchen, reading and drawing.

Will: You know what my destiny is? Dunkin' Donuts.

Jack: Oh. . . . Well, my destiny is to save people from cancer.

Every Girl Remembers Her First Meme

As you've noticed, I haven't been blogging much. Ever since I got the MFA acceptance letter, I've been hoarding my thoughts for some future time when I will be forced to turn in reams of manuscript about . . . something.

Anyway, in trying to catch up with blog reading, I see I've been tagged for two memes, which is a shocking coincidence, since I thought everyone had forgotten about me. So shucks, SugarMama and Anjali, I can't refuse.

First, Anjali's is easy, just five things about me. You know, things.

1. I have been legally blind in my right eye since birth. For me, the biggest E on the vision chart is blurry. But I know it's always an E. You'd think they'd change the letter occasionally.

2. I am an Army brat, and attended ten different schools, not counting college. Public, private religious, private secular, schools for army kids, been there. I've received grade averages ranging from straight A (6th) to C/D (4th and 5th).

3. I was mugged in 1985. Even after the guy whopped me one on the side of my hard head, we played tug of war with my purse because I refused to give it to him. Then my neighbors came out with baseball bats and he ran away.

4. In eighth grade I had a very short male piano teacher who had body odor and wore pink shirts and lederhosen. We lived in Germany, but still.

5. In tenth grade, I was new, as usual, and two girls in my class asked me "Who are you writing your paper on?" and I said, "Sylvia Plath. She killed herself." So they said, "Ewww!" One of the shortest literary discussions, ever.

May 7, 2007

Thoughts While Mulching

Jack helped me mulch for a while Saturday and Sunday, and we had lots of opportunity for conversation.

L: Jack, some day you'll be stronger than me.
J: And taller!
L: And I'll say "Jack, could you lift this for me?" "Jack could you please open this for me?"
J: And I'll say yes, because I could never say no to that!

I'm going to hold him to that one.

A few minutes later:
J: Mommy, you know what Luke said?
L: What?
J: He said that Joe said that he learned on the Discovery Channel that the ocean isn't made of water, it's made of horseshoe crab blood.
L: Really. Does Joe believe that?
J: Yes.
L: Do you and Luke believe that?
J: No.
L: Do you know what I think happened? I think he misheard, or heard part of an explanation and didn't hear the rest, or something.
J: I think their blood is blue, so maybe that's how he got confused.

I now wish I had said, "Tell Joe that the horseshoe crab's blood contains a unique clotting agent that the pharmaceutical industry uses to test intravenous drugs for bacteria. No IV drug reaches your hospital pharmacy without its horseshoe crab test. So if you or someone you love has ever been hospitalized, you owe a lot to the horseshoe crab." Since the internet hasn't been installed in my brain quite yet, I didn't say that. But I had no idea horseshoe crab blood was so valuable. Thank you, University of Delaware Sea Grant College Program.

May 4, 2007

A Big Pizza Pie

Tonight we celebrated John's return from a business trip to San Francisco. Well, actually to San Leandro, but they did go in to San Francisco once. Or Berkeley anyway, good enough. As I was saying, tonight the boys picked a special drink from Mollie Katzen's Pretend Soup. It was delicious! And Mommy and Daddy each spiked their own with a jigger of rum, even better. Here is the recipe. I changed the name from the earnest "Homemade Lemon-Lime Soda Pop Recipe," multiplied Mollie Katzen's amounts by four, and included the rum option for grownups:

Fizzy Citrus Cooler

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 1/2 cups apple juice concentrate (thawed), a whole can
ice cubes
1 quart seltzer or soda water

Mix in a pitcher. Adults may each add a jigger of rum to their glass if it isn't against their religion. Cheers!

We also had pizza, which we have every Friday. I have used the following pizza dough recipe since the early nineties. This makes a big hearty pizza that covers a whole big pizza stone. Or split it in half to make two small pizzas.

Lauren's TGIF Pizza Dough

Scant two tablespoons yeast
1 1/4 cups water
3 cups flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt

Special equipment: Mixer with dough hook, pizza stone. Or knead with your hands and cook it on a cookie sheet. Whatever.

Warm 1 1/4 cups water in a microwave for 30 seconds, until lukewarm. Sprinkle yeast over top, mix gently until it all gets wet, and let proof for 4 or 5 minutes until foamy.

While you're waiting, put the flour, olive oil, and salt in the mixer. When the yeast and water are ready, add them after you've mixed them a little. Turn the mixer on the lowest speed. In a couple of minutes, add more flour slowly if the dough isn't pulling away from the sides of the bowl. You may need to add up to 1/4 cup; do not fear. When it's looking truly doughlike, take it out and knead it a little yourself until it feels elastic, resilient and smooth. (If your mixer starts to smoke or you smell something burning, stop the thing, for gosh sakes.) When you press your finger it, the dough should puff back up a little.

Put a little bit of olive oil in a large bowl and roll the dough around in it. Cover the dough with a wet dishtowel and let sit for two or three hours.

After two or three hours, punch down the dough and roll it out on a pizza stone or whatever you have. I brush it with a thin layer of olive oil, minced garlic, and sometimes pepper if I'm feeling feisty. Then put a bunch of stuff on it, but don't overload it with a lot of wet veggies and sauce because it will be soggy. Going the simple, tasteful route usually pays off. If I do this as one pizza, I bake it at 475 for 16 mins. on the center rack. Watch it carefully through your oven window the first time. Prepare to have to turn off your smoke alarm if you use pepperoni, or if your oven happens to be crusty and filthy.

Remember, pizza dough is very forgiving, don't fret too much about it. Everyone likes pizza, and they'll especially like yours.

May 3, 2007

Questions for the Internet

1. My husband pays $12.00 for his haircuts. Does that mean he should run for president?

2. What happens if you call that "How's my driving" number on commercial trucks? And what if you say "Your driver is doing great. You hired a winner!"

3. How many dozens of books will Rachael Ray write? And (bonus question), is it really necessary to display all of them at once, each one with her face on it, at a fabulous independent bookstore like The Cookbook Stall at The Reading Terminal?

4. Why do cheap toasters work so much better than expensive toasters?

5. Is it ethical for me to be explaining New Yorker cartoons to my seven-year-old?

6. What kind of a world is it where you can buy "meatless meatballs" and not think twice?

That is all.

May 2, 2007

My World, Your World. It's a Deal.

This is the way it works. I spend a little time in their world, then they spend some time in my world.

OK, so you want to go to Jumpers to jump on huge moon bounces, where grownups can't talk because of the loud rushing sound and the incessant radio? And where the grownups' energy is slowly but consistently being sucked right out of them? Fine. But then we go to my world, a coffee shop where I can reboot with a brownie and a cup of black coffee. You can sip your frozen bubblegum-flavored what-exactly-is-that-anyway while I recuperate.

So you want to go to the Wilmington Blue Rocks game when Daddy is out of town? OK, no problem. You want to sit there through nine interminable innings, whine for three of them about how you want a hot dog, and then whine for three more about where is your friend's Dad who got the hotdogs and did he get kidnapped? OK. But then we go to Iron Hill, and have the whole upstairs to ourselves, so Mommy can have her 10-oz. Ironbound and a salad, and you can have your mac and cheese and ice cream. But it's mainly for Mommy. Because it's only fair.