Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Today, we are thisclose to renting a real house, with 3 bedrooms, still in our school district, everything we'd been hoping for. So I'm really happy.

And at the same time I'm so sad, for her and her and her. I go around our little corner of the world so often feeling like I'm peeking over the fence at all these people with deeply normal lives, where a mis-timed automatic sprinkler getting the newspaper wet is the biggest struggle of the day.
Then I read blogs and realize just how lucky I am, and how I am seeing nothing more than the outside of everyone...

Sunday, April 27, 2008

OK, as inspired by CityMama, I'm putting meal planning Sunday on the blog. We go to the Mountain View Farmer's Market every Sunday, and fill-in from local stores after I make up the week's meal plan. These are the parameters I work with, in the order of importance:

Dinner: at home 6 days a week, with one night either out or at the best restaurant in town.

Lunch: Daughter takes her lunch to school usually 3 times a week, and the other two days she has hot lunch. I also need to have something in mind for myself and the baby that works as a bag lunch since we're most often eating at a park. Leftovers play a starring role in most of our lunches, but no one's complaining (yet)

Breakfast: Eh, the usual rotation of cold cereal, oatmeal, scrambled eggs and toast, swedish pancakes (I have a fabulous blender version that's great for school mornings). I've been enforcing the "one fruit or veg minimum" at breakfast - when we have time spinach with garlic is great piled on toast & topped with scrambled eggs. Usually these days it means banana sliced into the cereal...but this time of year I can hand them strawberries and pretty soon cherries and peaches.

I'm thinking the format for these weekly posts will kind of go through what I think about when I plan out our meals - what's left in the fridge, what I got at farmer's market or in the CSA box (just a fruit one this year, probably starting in a month?) , how much time we have for prep & meals, and then the weekly plan, followed by posts of what we *actually* end up eating. My other contributor (aka my husband) is working on some kind of file system for all the recipes, but for the time being, I'm just going to put them in the relevant posts.

Leftover in the fridge this week:
fresh leaf spinach
dandelion greens
two vinaigrettes - one citrus based, the other mustard & red wine
goat cheese

Got at the market:
3.5 pound salmon roast
Acme levain
Acme herb slab
butter lettuce
broccoli rabe
dandelion greens
1/2 flat strawberries
chopped olive spread

Got at TJ's
heavy cream
olive oil

Got at Piazza
Niman Ranch beef stew meat

This week we have the in-laws visiting, and cooking at my sister-in-laws works best since there're too many people to fit in our small condo.

So, starting with Sunday:
  • Butter lettuce wedges with the green goddess dressing from the Chez Panisse Vegetable cookbook
  • hamburgers (I grind the meat myself ala Zuni) on toasted Acme herb slab with the usual condiments, onions and organic cheddar from TJ's
  • oven-roasted organic russets from TJ's (also ala Zuni)
  • strawberry shortcake made with organic Seascape strawberries from the farmer's market, organic cream from TJ's, and biscuits from the Chez Panisse Dessert cookbook
So I'm a California girl, what can I say....

Uhh, my thoughts refused to gel, and swimming lessons mean I have to have everything ready to be eaten about 10 minutes after we get home, so I bailed and we ate at work.

Taking dinner to my sister-in-law's again.

  • I'm probably going to split the salmon roast and maybe oven-steam it (?) Low temp oven with a pan of water, indescribably moist and delicious and lots of margin for error (hard to overcook). You need nothing with this fish but salt. Otherwise I'll pan-fry it, but the stove I'm working with is really wimpy so I'm a little cautious of this approach.
  • Lemon risotto with thyme, I have lots of home made chicken stock in the freezer, and I'll finish it with some parm.
  • Blanched broccoli
  • sauteed spinach with garlic
  • A starter using two bunches of asparagus, 3 avocados, maybe some romaine spears and...think,think,think!!
Another swim lesson, plus this is the day I work at my daughter's school leaving me not so much time for food prep. In my perfect world this would be the soup & sandwich night. But I didn't get any soup made, so I think I'll split the difference between what the grown-ups like and what the kids like
  • breakfast for dinner for the kids: eggs, toast, bacon, jam, fruit salad with strawberries, bananas and apples. So there's no veg, oh well, I'll make it up to them later.
  • Dandelion salad for the adults: with poached eggs, croutons, bacon lardons and a warm mustard-y vinaigrette. I pretty much follow the recipe from Nancy Silverton's Sandwich cookbook, which also has great sandwich ideas (no, really?!?)
See how it's basically the same ingredients, but made differently - God, I kill myself...

Ballet til 6 pm, so again gotta have it thought out and prepped beforehand. I know the girl will wail a little, but I'm making
  • pasta with broccoli rabe sauteed with garlic. Italy via Chez Panisse again, though I made this for years at all the Italian restaurants I worked.
  • and....? maybe I'll pick up some Niman pork at TJ's, cut each portion into 4 thin slices, pound and pan-saute them.

6:15 call for the school play, so we'll see. Probably a big ole snack of pbj's, yogurt, whatever's floating around...The olive spread from the farmer's market with goat cheese on toasted Acme is probably what I'll be having...

EVERYTHING in the whole wide world is happening on this day: I'm selling at the PAMP sale, my daughter's going to a mid-afternoon birthday party then performing in the school play again, and her other grandmother is in town....I'm going to let the other grown-ups take care of food this day. Only thing I know for sure is we're having ice cream at Rick's after the play.

I know I didn't cover lunch, but this post seems really long already so I'm going to wind it up, and I'll cover my deep thoughts on lunch later.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Changing Seasons, Changing Closets

I was taking a lunch break from sorting & pricing clothes for the annual rummage sale when I read this. We have the clear plastic boxes she talks about, sorted by kid and size, but then the boxes have to go somewhere and currently they're taking over the 150 sq ft of our living room. My husband, who HATES this time of year, at least knows that once these clothes go out the door, they don't come back. What I don't sell, I can donate right at the PAMP table and leave with only my empty boxes, hangers and cash for new finds. (Oh, OK, so maybe I buy a few things when I'm there but only a few...)

Funny thing is that last year, a couple of months after the sale, I ran across a half dozen pieces I'd donated in the local Goodwill. I think they eventually sold them, but not to me :) I picked out a few new-to-me pieces, and like salmon they are making their way upstream this year to the sale, after a season out in the sun on the children as they played and grew until those clothes no longer fit them, and they were cast into still waters of the back of the closet from where I am bringing them out to go back into the churning foam of the rummage sale /thrift store cycle.

My daughter's favorite story some years ago was about a little girl (just like her!) and how one day, after a long winter it started getting warm, and so she gets out her shirt, and it doesn't fit (lots of silly noises and grunting demonstrating how she tries to pull it over her head, etc) and then her pants won't button and her ankles are poking out, and her toes are hanging over her sandals. So the little girl goes to her mother, who the girl understands is not always the best at some things and sometimes makes mistakes too, and says she forgives her for shrinking her favorite shirt and pants, but HOW did she manage to shrink her shoes as well?!? And Mommy is very very very sorry, but then realizes that it's not the clothes that have shrunk, but her daughter who has grown. And even though her very favorite shirt, pants and shoes are all now too small to wear, they will get some new summer clothes and those will be her new favorites. A pink shirt with a yellow fish that M squeezed into for *way* too long was the genesis of this story. I kinda miss telling it.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

For our homemade ice cream

Homemade Magic Shell!! And with flavoring options! Now I just need to find the coconut oil...

There's a new bakery in town

I'm posting from Esther's German Bakery, where there's free wi-fi, and crunchy sticks, and bratwurst for breakfast and plates with cold cuts, soft-boiled eggs, herbed cheese and bread. The baked goods are famous around this area, and it's beyond heaven to have them here in her cafe with a *kid's play area* in the back. Yeah, I'll be here A LOT.

New York, New York

Taking M to NYC for a 4-day trip of just her, mommy and NO COMPUTER! (does my iPhone count? I really need to have a phone when we're there...) Yea! travel reward points, who take XL away for way too many days, but mean *free* airplane tickets, and *free* hotel rooms for the rest of the family.

Here's the to-do list so far, followed by the influences / points of interest

Statue of Liberty
: the unit they did on the Statue in school, the grandparents have a brick at Ellis Island.

Met Museum: this book, Temple of Dendur

Children's Museum of Manhattan: Greek Mythology show

Dylan's Candy Bar: Well, duh! I said she could get whatever she wanted. This so far seems to be the highlight of the trip, sigh.

Otto: avocado gelato

Pain Quotidien: softboiled egg in a shell

For me, no rushing her for a change - the only appointments in the four day we have is with the Staten Island Ferry and the airplane home. There's always gelato here or here if we need to find a reason to go somewhere. I think the guy in the East Village who does the ricotta gelato is still around, read something about him recently tho I think I'd like it more than M would.

Of course I would like to shop too, but M (probably) won't, even if I love best shopping for her and her brother. But I may just keep track of all my wish-list stores in some other posts...

Buying books

We get the Scholastic flyers from school about every two months, but they seem like just another catalog. Not like when I was a kid, choosing and erasing so many times the order strip turned gray and fuzzy. Through my grown-up eyes, most of the books seem vulgar, simple or prissily didactic. It doesn't help that M is reading several grade levels ahead, and is getting flyers with pre and beginning reader books. She does not care at all if Red goes to bed, or if Spot says "It's hot!". She likes Greek myths and witches and magical tales.

We have a wonderful local children's bookstore where we can buy hardcovers of the books to keep on our shelves for reading again and again, and many local library choices (including a newly remodeled Children's Library we've yet to visit) for sampling and finding new favorites.

The best way, though, to have M read a book is to buy it and leave it lying around. I've indulged myself and bought copies (my own! to keep!) of books I borrowed over and over again from the library when I was a girl. And so she's fallen for Edward Eager's Half Magic and Eleanor Estes' Witch Family and I am so, so happy for both her and me.

But now I think I may raise the stakes for both of us. So many of the books on this blog are wonderful, but the latest entry...wow. These are books to sit with reading backward and forward. And then I looked at the rest of the catalog. Hmmmm maybe some of these for our epic-loving child?