Friday, August 31, 2012

Soup recipe

This happened when Youngest Daughter was in first grade.  I referenced it in my bat mitzvah speech, and afterwards had many requests for the recipe.  So here it is.

Written to my extended family on May 18, 2006

I get lots of papers home from school requesting me to do various things - approve the field trip, send in flowers for the teachers, make a meal for the teachers, etc.  A few weeks ago, a request came home from Youngest Daughter's teacher to please send in my two favorite recipes, one appetizer and one dessert.  I tossed the paper, deciding that I did not have time to send recipes in to school.

On Mother's Day, Youngest Daughter gave me lots of gifts, all made at school. (Making Mothers' Day gifts has been deemed an educational activity.  But not making Father's Day gifts.)  One of them was a wonderful recipe book, containing favorite recipes, submitted by all the Moms of first graders.  I leafed through it, finding recipes for Crab Loaf Dip, Cheese Fondue, Stuffed Mushrooms, and the like.  I knew that there would no recipe under my name.  But much to my surprise, I found my name on the following, written in Youngest Daughter's printing:

    Elephant Soup
1 cup Elephant meat
1/2 cup carrots
4 eggs
Elephant mix
3 Elephant toenails
1 cup mushrooms
1/2 cup marshmellows
1/3 cup brocili

Back in the "Desserts" section, I found:
    Apple Cake
1 1/2 cup water
1 c. aeg
3 eggs
1 T Youngest Daughter

This was also submitted under my name.  So I think it will be a long time before I live down my reputation among the Moms of first-graders!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Last week

In retrospect, the week before the bat mitzvah was busy, but not frantically so. I had time to read a few blogs.  There are three writers who reported events that were mirrored here in the Common Household.

Green Girl in Wisconsin told of how her husband made a miraculous banana discovery.  Here at our house, the Common Household husband was equally observant.  Last Tuesday, I spent hours shopping for a dress for the party, and in the end couldn’t decide, so brought three dresses home to consult the family on this earth-shattering decision.  I took the dresses up to the bedroom, pulled the blanket up over the sheet, so that I could spread the dresses out on the bed, like this:
Yes, two of the dresses are the same, but different sizes.
That's how indecisive I was.

When my husband came home, I said, “There’s something on the bed upstairs that I want you to look at.”  He went up, came in the bedroom, with me following, and said, “Oh!  Did we get a new blanket?  That’s a great blanket!”    I guess he spent all day making scientific observations, so he had used up all his observatory powers. 

Over at Beads: Rolling Downhill, Cassi Renee has entered the world of beading, creating some really beautiful beads, earrings, and bracelets.  While I myself wasn’t being that creative (except for writing my speech), Oldest Daughter was – she made these centerpieces for our lunch at the synagogue.

These cost under $10 each to make.

Minnesota Matron wrote about taking the path of least resistance at her son’s birthday party.  I, too, took the path of least resistance regarding entertainment at my house, and allowed TWO simultaneous games of Settlers of Catan to be played in my living room.  At least I did not have to play.

These folks, my two nephews, took the path of very least resistance of all.

And then the next day we went and did Jewish stuff in the morning and partied all evening.

Monday, August 27, 2012

For enabling us to reach this day

Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha-olam
Blessed are you, Lord, our God, ruler of the universe,

shehecheyanu v'kiyimanu v'higi'anu laz'man hazeh.
who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion.

After Saturday’s worship service, in which my youngest daughter celebrated becoming a bat mitzvah, I really felt the Shehecheyanu prayer in my bones.

This is the Jewish prayer recited on special occasions.  As I stood on the bima looking out at our friends and family, all there to celebrate my last child’s bat mitzvah, it seemed that really could only be a miracle that we had reached that moment.

To be sure, my daughter worked very hard with her teachers to learn the required Hebrew, the prayers, the chanting system (trope), the Torah portion, the Haftarah.  But making it happen also required the enormous good will and generosity of many, many people over many years.  There could have been any number of obstacles to prevent it from happening.  We are privileged and blessed to live in a place and time where we could provide her with the people and the time and the things she needed to accomplish it.

Here are just a few of the things that help with bat mitzvah preparation:

Torah portion book and prayer book

Time to grow

A reminder, such as this Bread of Affliction, of how difficult some things are,
and that torah study is really not one of them, so get on with it.

Heavenly light

A study partner, especially one who teaches you
 to memorize your portion by making a dance out of it,
and teaches this to you outside on a nice day.

A little bit of luck

Music to keep you sane

This is for the parents' sanity.

Gefilte fish?  No, forget it.  Gefilte fish does NOT
help with torah study.  It is useful, though,
for squeezing the tofu.

And plenty of love from all around.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Prayer of Thanks

The cyclists* have arrived, safe and in good health.  

The first day of school is complete.  

The bathrooms are clean.  

There is steak on the grill 

and beer in the fridge**.

All is well.

Thanks be to God.


* My brother and nephew biked 300+ miles over the past 5 days to our house.
** This (the beer part) only occurs when one of my brothers visits.

Monday, August 20, 2012

How I Spend 100% of My Time: Aug 2012

I hope I don't lose my job.  But if I did, I would have more time to think about washing the sheets.

And actually, I didn't make the table centerpieces - Oldest Daughter did.  But my husband and I did go to the craft store several times for supplies.  So maybe that counts.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Common Household Proverb

O, my daughter, listen and pay heed to my instruction.  You shall brush your teeth twice daily; even three times would not be too many.  Neither shall you brush with straight up and down strokes, but with a steady circular motion, thus to remove the plaque from just below your gums. Remove the plaque, and make your teeth whiter than snow.  Let them be like a flock of sheep just shorn.  For the plaque is an abomination, and will lead to cavities.

You say to me, in your rebelliousness, “They are my teeth, so I can do with them what I want.”  And I erupt with anger and hot displeasure, and with a voice of thunder declare, “I am only telling you this for your own good.”  

These are the regulations concerning your teeth.  After three months, you must go and show your teeth to the high priestess Barb, the dental hygienist.  If she finds that your teeth are clean, then you may return to the assembly of the people and consume fudge once in a while.  If she declares your teeth to be a mess of plaque, then your neglectful habits shall become known in the land.  For expiation you shall pay me US$ 75 out of your own birthday money, for that is what it costs for an extra dental cleaning, and there is no reason for me to pay this when I am already supplying you with an electric toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.  For you must brush your teeth, so that I may stop gnashing mine.
                        -The Book of Admonitions 27:35

The wise brush daily; the fools get only cavities.
                        - Proverbs 82:3

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Fresh and Local, Small and Large

Here is our garden produce!  
Common Household Tomato

Every few days we harvest one or two of these, but this one was just the latest and most beautiful.  They have a rather tough skin, but taste oh, so sweet, like candy.  

Here is the same item, but from the farmer’s market.
Farmer's Market Tomato

And for size comparison, here they are together.  Our tomatoes are about ½ inch in diameter.  Cute, eh?
Bob the Tomato (on the right), and Bobbie the Tomato-ette

Despite our busy summer, I have been trying to visit the farmer’s market when I can.  Last Wednesday, I wanted vegetables, and needed to pull Youngest Daughter away from the tv/computer mind suck.  So I insisted on taking her to the farmer’s market with me, although she doubted there could be anything for her there.  

As we were driving along, I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if there was an ice cream truck that would drive around the neighborhoods, only instead of selling ice cream, it would sell fresh vegetables!”  YD said, “But Mommy, who would ever want to buy vegetables?!”

Well, me.  I want to buy fresh vegetables, but there is no such vegetable truck.  At the beginning of this summer, I almost signed up to join a farmer’s coop.  My brother’s family does this, and every week they go to pick up an assortment of veggies, fruit, meat, and cheese, all fresh and in season for their local New England area.  In my never-ending quest, which my family views as my evil plot, to reduce our meat consumption and increase our vegetable consumption, I thought this might be a way to inspire (force?) the family to participate more fully.

But I decided that I’m not ready to be tied down to picking something up at a specific time on a specific day.  Also, what my brother and sister-in-law get in their coop box is a surprise each week.  While we were visiting them they received a bunch of good stuff, and gooseberries or some such thing that my brother warned against.  It could be that we just require some edification on how to cook gooseberries, but I don’t have time to learn that this summer.

So in May I found out about a nearby farmer’s market.  This market is a new one, just down the street from my church, and it turns out it is run by my hairdresser and her boyfriend, who owns a local farm. There are other vendors too – one guy sells just garlic, but at least two kinds (one is for roasting, another for other kinds of cooking – be sure to ask).  Another guy sells fresh kettle corn.  There are sausages and cheese, Amish bakery items, Greek-style food, home made pizza and marinara sauce.  Youngest Daughter really enjoyed the fresh lemonade, with the lemons squeezed right in front of us.  We bought some pizza shells and sauce to use at her sleepover. 

One of the best things about it is that the vendors’ fees go directly to the local food bank. 

Here are the other vegetables I got at the farmer’s market.   
The vegetables were also useful as a weight to press the tofu.
Usually I use the peanut butter jar, but we were out.

Yum!  I put most of the vegetables in a stir-fry.  And Youngest Daughter was inspired enough to make a sauce for the stir-fry!   And she even tried the vegetables!

So... what's your favorite fresh vegetable?  Do you go to a farmer's market?

Common Household Youngest Daughter’s Recipe for
       Stir-Fry Sauce

1 16 oz. jar of pineapples
Fresh ginger root
Onion powder
Ground thyme
Ground cinnamon
Lite soy sauce
Corn starch
Cold water

Directions: Pour pineapple juice into a mug. Using a ginger grater, grate up ¼ tsp. ginger root. Stir it in. Sprinkle in onion powder until it lightly covers the juice. Sprinkle in some thyme. Sprinkle in some cinnamon. Add 3 good shakes of soy sauce. Stir it all in.

Sprinkle in a little more thyme, and a little more cinnamon. Also add 1 more tbsp. of soy sauce. Stir until dark brown. Taste should be sweet.

Wait until it’s time to add the sauce. Put the sauce in a pan and bring it to a boil.  In a separate small bowl, add 1 tbsp. corn starch to ¼ cup of cold water and stir it in. Add it to the sauce. It should now be light brown. Pour it on to the vegetables. Serve.

(You can serve the pineapple fruit separately.)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Before and After

In our house, we now have "The Green Room."  We're so glad to be rid of the pink room.






I feel that the room was always meant to be this color.  Sometimes when you make a change like this, you get a sort of shaken up feeling when you enter the newly re-done room.  Not this time.  Every time I go in the room now, it feels like God's creation, at least this little bit of it, has been restored to its original state, the way it was meant to be before somebody came along and messed it up with all that pink.  I can't believe we lived in the Pink Room for all those years when we should have been living in the Green Room all along. I suspect that the photos and computer screen colors don't do it justice.

Yes, the carpet is still pink, but it's not too garish, and we can live with it.

In the same category of things being restored to the way they should be... school starts in exactly two weeks!  We can live with that, too.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Flurry of Activity

We spent the latter part of last week recovering from our trip, doing laundry, getting back into work projects, and remembering how to cook dinner for ourselves again.

Before we left on our trip, the painter had told us, “I don’t know when I can get over to paint your house.”  As soon as we got back, last Wednesday, he said, “We’ll come on Monday if it’s not raining, and paint the outside stuff.  The inside stuff will have to wait until fall.” 

Monday (yesterday) was the first day of band camp for my son, which felt almost like the first day of school for me, except I was the school bus driver.  “Get up early and drive somebody somewhere” is my motto for the next two weeks. 

Right after I got back from bus duty, the painter showed up, with seven guys.  Heigh ho, heigh ho, it’s off to paint we go!

Finally, that spot on the living room ceiling is fixed.

The Painter Boss said to me, “Okay, where are the colors you picked for your bedroom?”  We have hired this guy before, so I already knew that he operates like a tornado, arriving with little warning, doing his job, and moving on.  I was ready with my colors. 

One of the sous-chef painters started taping to prep the bedroom for painting.  I had to remove all the junk from the top of our bureaus. Who cares that I have a report on Kansas corn due to my boss?  Fortunately I didn’t have to unload the clothes from the closets.  That would have taken me forever. 
The bedroom is about to undergo a transformation!

I had to wonder if I should discard the dead moth I found in a cup on my husband’s bureau.  I decided not to. Maybe he is saving it to put on a microscope slide for Youngest Daughter.  Because that’s what loving scientist fathers do for their budding scientist daughters.

I had to wonder if I should discard everything that was on top of my own bureau (except my earring collection, of course).  No scientific specimens there.  Perhaps I am grateful for that!
I will spare you a picture of the dead moth.
Instead here is our bedroom furniture, looking the neatest ever.
Today it is quieter and the house looks spiffier on the outside.  Soon I will show you photos of our painted bedroom, but I have to wait until the paint is truly dry enough to close the closet doors, because I have not yet cleaned out my closet.

When I asked my husband if I could tell The Public about the dead moth, he said yes, and he confirmed that he is saving it to put under the microscope.  He said, “Didn’t you notice that it is in perfect dead condition?”  Spoken like a true biologist.