Thursday, November 27, 2008

People say you can see into a person’s soul by looking into his eyes, but I think you’d do just as well to look at his hands.

I started memorizing my dad’s hands when I was pretty little. I’m not sure why, but I remember doing it. I’ve always had this weird system of memory-keeping that involves taking snapshots in my mind. I’d think, “Look at the little white moons under his nails. Remember them.” “Look at the nicks and scrapes on his knuckles. Remember them.” “Look at the way he uses his fingernail to crease his dollar bill. Remember it.” "Look at the way his fingers flutter on the steering wheel. Remember it."

My dad’s hands built and comforted and fixed and cooked and turned pages and folded things and played catch and drew pictures and rattled candy before popping it into his mouth and planted and banged and whistled and spread birdseed and straightened and painted and wrote and cleaned and patted and loved. They were not perfect, but were caring and strong and capable and gentle.

And they are remembered.

Monday, November 17, 2008

When I was thirteen a Lender's bagel was about the closest I had ever been to anything Jewish. All that changed with our move to a town where the majority of the kids in my school were Jewish. My friend Bequa was my tour guide, introducing me to real bagels (with a shmear), delis (if there isn't a bowl of half sours on the table, it's not a deli), and my very own NJB (nice Jewish boy, who, as it ends up, is actually an atheist, but that works for me).

I came to love Yiddish (Is there a better word for a rag than a schmuttie? A better way to say pretty face than shana punim? A better word for those little rolls of fat on babies' legs than pulkies?), although my accent is apparently painful, the food (a knish from The Butcherie cannot be beat - oh, wait, I'm vegetarian now...), and, of course, the boy.

I may be a shiksa but I've learned to make a mean kugel, I hear my kasha vanishkas may just be better than a certain grandmother's, (ok, it's her recipe, so I'm not sure if that's possible, but anyway...), and I have mastered the filling and the pinching of hamantashen. Until yesterday, though, I never tackled challah. My mother-in-law's challah is really good. Really good like you just want to eat the whole loaf yourself and not share any. Frankly it's just plain intimidating. She's agreed to share her recipe with me, but it's apparently complicated enough that she needs to show me. Oh, and it makes 5 loaves. In the meantime, she talked me through some braiding instructions over the phone, and I found this recipe.

Isn't it pretty? Rowan did most of the braiding. She's got skills.

Neither Jon or I thought it was as good as his mom's. I couldn't tell you if that's because it isn't as good or because you love what you know and especially what your mom makes. But, yum - I wouldn't have minded a bit eating the whole loaf myself and not sharing any, but with eight other people in the house I didn't stand much of a chance.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dagny was the first to go vegetarian. Shortly after we moved into this house almost 9 years ago we decided to have a barbecue. Suddenly Dagny was hit with the idea that the cows who live next door could smell the meat cooking on our grill. I followed shortly after, having always leaned in that direction, and Rowan followed as soon as she made the connection between meat and animals.

Anyway, all that to say the three of us have been vegetarian for 8-9 years. It's been easy for all of us, as the idea of not being vegetarian just grosses us out. We have, however, had one big problem. Marshmallows. How to live without that sticky goodness? What's a campfire without a toasted marshmallow? What's better than air-puffed sugar delights for secret eating?

We've been on a mission. Somewhere, there must be a vegetarian marshmallow that isn't a blob of white goop. A marshmallow you can stab with a stick and hold in the fire til it's puffed up and golden and full of gooey goodness.

Mission accomplished

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Make these:

1 2/3 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups chopped unpeeled apples (1-2) (I peeled mine)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs

1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

(I didn't measure but I'd guess I used a bit more cinnamon and sugar than that.)

Preheat oven to 180C. (350F)

Mix all dry ingredients, except topping, in a large bowl.

In another bowl, mix all the wet ingredients.

Combine ingredients.

Scoop into a muffin pan.

Mix topping ingredients and sprinkle on top. You may wish to place sliced apples on top of the batter. (Do - it looks pretty.)

Bake for 35 - 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. (Mine were ready in more like 30 minutes.)

Yield: about 10 muffins

I saved the recipe but not the site, so I can't give credit for the recipe, but I'm hoping whoever it was wouldn't mind me putting it here and saying it makes for a very yummy breakfast.

Friday, November 07, 2008

I could get lost in this site for days, if only it didn't make me so hungry that I have to step away from the computer.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I keep a list of books that I want to read. (Everyone does, right?) Here's what's on it today:

The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper, by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift

Villette, by Charlotte Bronte

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Bronte

Where the Heart Is
, by Billie Letts

East of Eden
, by John Steinbeck

The New Moosewood Cookbook
, by Mollie Katzen

The Way of Zen, by Alan Watts

Funeral Rights, by Robert Larkins

Our Inner Ape
, by Frans de Waal

Natural Fashion: Tribal Decoration from Africa, by Hans Silvester

Square Foot Gardening, by Mel Bartholomew

Eat Me, by Kenny Shopsin

Still Life with Woodpecker
, by Tom Robbins

Rowan says this is the most boring post ever. Kind of shocking from someone who can get so, shall we say, 'agitated' about the fact that the next Sisters Grimm book isn't out yet, but I forgive her.

Yesterday Dagny and I watched How to Cook Your Life. (love instant Netflix!) It touches on all sorts of things I've been thinking about as I cook and paint my house and let my hands be hands.

Netflix also has Across the Universe available instantly. We watched it while the poll results came in, which made for an interesting juxtaposition of historical events. I'm sure I would have Beatles' songs stuck in my head all day if it weren't for the fact that I've had another song stuck in my head for a week. Am I going to try to get it stuck in your head too? You bet your dog on it.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

I'm cooking a lot lately. A lot. I used to, and then I stopped, and now I seem to have started again. I forgot how much I like it. And I'm grieving. It's a process. (This is a line from Analyze That. Billy Crystal's dad dies and he keeps saying it. Now I keep saying it. I can use it to explain away just about any odd behavior.)

When the no knead bread recipe started showing up everywhere on the intornets (known to some others as the internet, but to our family as the intornets) I ignored it. It was like one of those songs they play over and over on the radio until you go so far past hating it you almost like it. Almost.

This week I found a version of the no knead recipe that seemed too easy not to try. It makes a very small loaf, which Rowan and I have agreed is silly.

Rowan went with peanut butter. I added some of Kelly Lovejoy's honey from happy bees, which we hoard as the liquid gold it is. Rowan has her own jar. I have my own jar. If anyone wants to touch our jars they need to come through us. Fingers may be bitten off.

(Oh, and Kelly, send more honey.)

Saturday, November 01, 2008