Sep 30, 2007

Drunken Noodles Detected in Delaware County

I'm pleased to say that, yes, we can now find those big wide Thai noodles, with a spicy sauce, just about one mile from out house. On Macdade boulevard, right across the street from Macdade Nails and a defunct Halloween superstore, is Buppha Thai, with its pristine lavender and white dining room.

I took the boys there Tuesday when John was at class, thinking, how great can it be, it's on Macdade. It was lovely, though, and I wished he had been there to discover it with us. I got Drunken Noodles with Scallops, and the boys got dumplings and spring rolls. They weren't called spring rolls but that's pretty much what they were. Jack and Will thought it was great. Jack brought an A-Z Mystery to read and then he wanted to sit on my lap. He's a little big for that, but I let him anyway. Will demolished his spring rolls and made a big mess with shreds of food on the floor. I tipped well to make up for it.We were the only people in the dining room, but a couple people came in for take-out, at least.

There's an overpriced Thai restaurant on Baltimore Pike and a nice one in Media, but this is really close. Three cheers for Buppha Thai, a spot of hope on a tawdry, faded commercial strip. If you live near here, please patronize this oasis at 500 Macdade Blvd. If you don't, then think good thoughts about it . . . .

Sep 25, 2007

Castration Anxiety in the House

Last week I signed a form agreeing to have Zane, our new dog, neutered. The form used not the bland term "neutering," but rather, "castration." Gulp. There he was, sitting next to me at the vets, panting happily and waiting for more dogs or the vet's fat marmalade cat to saunter in to play with him and admire him. Such a happy, trusting pup. I am the one who feeds him, introduces him to the neighbor dogs, brushes him, talks to him in a tone of voice that irritates my husband, and gives him belly rubs. And now I've consented to have his balls cut off.

Jack asks me why can't Zane be a daddy almost every day. "We could just give the puppies to a breeder," he routinely suggests when I say there are too many unwanted puppies in the world. I minimized his impending surgery and said he would still be he same happy dog (perhaps not on the fateful day itself, Oct. 8, his half birthday). We went on:

J: Well, you're neutered, right?

L: I had my tubes tied after Will was born. I'm not neutered! It's different. Zane is a boy, anyway. He's having his testicles cut off. It sounds bad but it isn't. Sometimes men have vasectomies but that's nothing like having testicles cut off. Centuries ago there used to be castrati who had this done. I don't know why. So they could sing with a really high voice, I guess.

J: I can scream really super high. Want to hear me?

L: No.

J: OK. What's your point?

L: I don't know. I'm just going on and on about castration for no reason.

J: Yeah.

Sep 24, 2007

Happy Birthday, Christopher Zero

My church hosts a luncheon once a month for the local college students, and we went yesterday. My conribution was Spiced Sweet Potato Cake with Brown Sugar Icing (I doubled the spices and added a cup of toasted pecans). Will insisted on bringing candles, as it was Christopher Zero's birthday. Christopher Zero is one of his imaginary friends, you see. He used to be Jack's as well, but I think Jack, who is almost eight, wanted to distance himself from such a childish thing. So I brought a candle for Will's piece of cake, asked for a match from the hosts, and he got to blow it out. One of the students asked where Christopher lives, and Will said eastern Ukraine. Turns out it's an eastern Ukraine on another planet, and that also Christopher was with us in some special sense as well. He can "transport" himself at will. That kid has answer for everything.

Oh, by the way, Will is in kindergarten now. Lilian wondered if I was going to write about that. Since he's in the same Montessori classroom for the third year, it's not a momentous transition. First grade is the big transition for my boys, because that's when they start at the public school. We do, however, have Will take the bus in the afternoon, which he loves. That's his special kindergarten privilege. It gives me a little more time to work and it stops right where I wait for Jack. One of the other neighbor moms was a little shocked that he takes it, since it's a 45-minute ride . . . . I will do anything to avoid the school's gridlock at pickup time.

And Jack? He seems to really like second grade. We don't hear very much about it, actually. He won't tell us anything at all about the girls. I guess it's all pretty old hat after last year, sort of the elementary school equivalent of Sophomore Slump. Now that I think about it, we are all in school. Kindergarten, second grade, Master's in Technology Management, Master's in Fine Arts, and Puppy Kindergarten. All right, the cat is not in school. Maybe we can say that now that there's a dog in the house, the cat attends The School of Hard Knocks.

Sep 23, 2007

Welcome to the Sourdough Lifestyle

It all started innocently enough on a summer's evening in July. My neighbor Hazel knocked on our back door just as I was taking a short break from our Sunday night family movie ritual. She thrust a plastic container on me, and said "Here's some sourdough starter. It's from the 17th century. Don't use bleached flour. You just add three cups of flour to it at night, then in the morning put one cup back in the fridge, add 2 cups of water, and__"

"Wait!," I said, "Let me get a pen!"

I hastily scrawled her recipe somewhere, the proverbial back of the envelope, and made the bread the next day. It was delicious. It is great for sandwiches and makes wonderful toast. And no crumbs! I've made it many times since, although more on the weekends now than on school days, when the bread machine is more convenient.

Hazel did not encumber her recipe with any extra verbiage, so I've added some basic instructions. I also added a little more salt. Here you go. If you live near me and want some starter, give me a holler. I can make some for ya.

Good Neighbor Sourdough Bread

The night before:

1 cup sourdough starter
3 cups nonbleached flour (I get 10-lb. bags of King Arthur's from our local warehouse store)

Before you go to bed, mix starter and flour in a large bowl. Put a damp dish towel, wax paper, or plastic wrap over the top. Set out on your counter.

In the morning, take out one cup of this bubbly sponge and save in the refrigerator; it will last three weeks, according to Hazel.

To the sponge, add:

3 more cups of flour (I've used up to 100% whole wheat)
2 cups water
2 tablespoons sugar (honey also works)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Mix it together with a large wooden spoon. When it's a big blob of dough, turn onto lightly floured surface. Knead for ten minutes.

Turn dough into lightly oiled large bowl, covered. Let rise for a while (1 1/2 hrs. or 2 hrs., depending on your time frame) until it has doubled in size or until you're tired of waiting for it. Punch down.

Punch down again after it's risen again, and put in one large loaf pan or two small ones. Let it rise enough that it crests a little over the top of the pan, and bake in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes. (I use convection at 350.)


The more whole wheat flour you use, the more dense the bread will be
To share starter, just add the flour the night before, just like you're going to make bread, and then just split up the sponge the next morning in one-cup portions to plastic containers or bags. Be sure to also distribute the recipe! And do save a cup for yourself.

Welcome to the sourdough lifestyle. May the Sponge be with you.

Sep 16, 2007

Raising Zane

There's nothing more boring in a blog than reading about why someone hasn't been posting. It took one email from one of my loyal fans for me to finally get AROUND to this poor abandoned blog. Instead of blathering about how I've been in some kind of fog for a few months, and probably a little depressed and menopausal, I'll just start writing. . . .


Poop. Pee. Teething. It's all happening again in our household. My youngest goes off to kindergarten and I get this urge to get the collie I've always wanted. Coincidence? I think not.

Anyhow, now we have a collie pup. Jack loves him. I love him. John and Will are slightly less enthused. His name is Zane and he is just lovely, a five-month-old sable and white. He is my buddy during the day, quiet mellow, and understanding. He's a great copyeditor and writing coach, but his familiarity with the Chicago Manual of Style leaves a little to be desired. So that, and trying to eat bacon frying in the pan, are his weak points.

Dog lovers, if anyone is reading this, comment away. Dog haters, not so much.