Showing posts from August, 2009

An empty nester's lunch, and introducing what's for dinner

One of the many beauties of a laptop is the ability to take it anywhere. Today, as I type, my youngest is taking her sweet old time eating a delicious lunch of noodles mixed with a meat filling, of which I will explain later. Today is her first real day of eating lunch at home while the other two are off at school, and although she can't quite express it, she's probably wondering where her brother is. This is his first full week of kindergarten, but if you ask the little sister, she'll tell you "at ' chool ." I suppose she might also be thinking that she's happy to have the run of the house, dibs on her mom, and the ability to watch her favorite TV shows and not have to watch big brother skateboard or listen to big sister practice, begrudgingly, the piano. And I admit that even though I miss my other children, I'm enjoying those things too. Mostly the chance to sneak back in time, when I was a one-kid-mom, focused on stacking blocks, reading books m

The truth about dance halls and fortune cookies

Confucius says, “respect your elders.” If Confucius would have met my grandparents, he would have said, “respect your elder’s right to party.” I only know this because of a recent visit to my grandparents’ house, where I swear they outlasted, outsang, and outdanced me. And they are well into their 80’s, working with hearing aids, plastic knees, and orthopedic shoes. I, who can hear quite well, sat in a folding chair and smiled in complete awe. We arrived at their home in which is situated in a giant retirement complex only to find their entire garage emptied and their car and precious golf cart missing. “Oh, they’re at the neighbor’s,” Grandpa said. “More room for chairs.” A closer look showed me that my uncle, another visitor to their home, had set up his guitar and karaoke machine and planned on singing the night away for the 70+ crowd that would be arriving later, armed with canes, diet soda, and chip dip. The neighbors were all coming over for a sing-a-long. “Oh, boy,” said my husb

One-line Wednesday

And my parents are taking me back to Ohio???

As requested, zucchini recipes galore

I love, love, love hearing from readers! After my column about zucchini ran in the newspaper, someone contacted me and asked about recipes. I'm happy to share two of my own favorites, and a new favorite care of my Aunt 'Na. Thanks, 'Na! Marinated Grilled Zucchini My cousin and I taught this recipe at Buehler's back when they had cooking classes. It was part of an Italian Appetizer party menu. 2 zucchini (small) 1 clove of garlic, minced 2 tbl fresh lemon juice 1 tsp white wine vinegar 1/4 cup olive oil salt and red pepper flakes to taste Wash zucchini and slice thinly on a diagonal. Grill zucchini on an oiled rack for 6-8 minutes per side. (You want grill marks and tender zucchini.) Remove and cool. Meanwhile, whisk together garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, oil, salt, and red pepper flakes (optional). In a baking dish, layer zucchini and cover with marinade. Cover and chill. Best served at room temperature. Zucchini Sausage Spoonbread 3 cups shredded zucchini 3 eggs 1 cup

Poof! There went the summer

The entire month of August seems to be a struggle. Merely flipping the calendar page sends shivers up my spine because there, somewhere near the end of the month, is the dreaded first day of school. It’s the day with which both children and parents have an exceptional love/hate relationship. Most children are at least somewhat excited; the chance to once again see their friends and drive someone else besides their mothers crazy is appealing to anyone. The parents, well in need of a break, are also anxious for the school year to start, and I believe some even perform a ritualistic dance of joy when the bus pulls away on the first day, robes swaying and coffee cups still in hand. But despite the shiny new pencils and pristine folders, there are some rather obvious reasons why going back to school is so hard. It goes without saying that children are not looking forward to getting up early and doing homework, and funny enough, the parents are dreading the same things. But for some, l

A conversation over lunch

Note: Verbatim. I swear. "You know what I would do with the money if I went on 'America's Got Talent'?" said my son, obviously daydreaming about anything but kindergarten. "I'd give half to daddy so he could buy scrap metal." My husband in fact does work in the recycling industry, so this was awfully kind of the little guy. "What would you do with the rest? Do I get any?" I asked, already feeling that the teen years are really going to suck. "And what about your sisters?" "Wellllllll, I'll buy you each a stuffed teddy bear. And with the rest of the money, I'm going to buy 30 pounds of bubble gum. And an RV. And if I have enough money left over, a van." At this point, I'm imagining myself, chomping on bubble gum, hugging a teddy bear, and us all sitting around in an RV while we pull a van behind. Wouldn't that just be his dream come true? "So, what are you going to do on 'America's Got Talen

One line Wednesday

A mysterious man, only revealed by coming back to read the blog in a week or so. [insert evil laugh, which doesn't count as a line.]

What the world needs now is zucchini, sweet zucchini

And then there’s the one about how you don’t park your car with the doors unlocked if you’re carrying around the world’s largest zucchini because something terrible might happen. Someone might put the second largest zucchini in there, too. There is soft spot in my heart for this obscure garden plant that goes from beautiful blossom to colossal bland vegetable in the blink of an eye. For years, my family has been planting zucchini in our gardens, and for years we’ve been wondering why. Because what seemed like such a good idea in the spring, the thought of freshly baked zucchini bread, or cheesy zucchini sauté, becomes just a big old plant with an extraordinary output of fruit. The Guinness Book of World Records has the largest zucchini to date as a whopping 64 pounder. I reckon the gardener was very proud of his accomplishment, but after spending fourteen hours grating the giant beast of a veggie, he swore to never, ever let his plants get that large again. In my garden this year

Not the only dirt-lover in the family

We are just a little proud of our son, who is cool enough to make the National Wildlife Federation's GreenHour weekly email magazine this week. Check it out at and find us all napping on the moss floor that was recently added to his home away from home.

One-line Wednesday

They grow so fast.

From this dirt, to this hotdog

It doesn't matter if I grow a dog turd and can it with a rotten peach. If I grew it, and I canned it, it is better than gold in a jar. Thankfully, I think this stuff tastes a little better! This year we finally finagled a small garden in our little patch of woods and it's been a great success. Square foot gardening really works, and we've enjoyed fresh veggies all season long. The freezer has beans and zucchini, the tomatoes are awaiting their turn in the food dehydrator. The broccoli is long gone and if we have to eat one more salad we're all going to grow buck teeth and fluffy tails. But the peppers. I love love love banana peppers, but only in the last few years. Upon becoming pregnant with my third child I instantly became a fan of hot peppers, mustard, onions. Anything in that pungent family that would ordinarily send mommies-to-be straight to the Tums. My banana pepper crop this year produced just enough for me to make Sweet and Sour Pepper Relish, a recipe from t

The Old Gray Mare ain’t so gray anymore

I grew up bombarded by country music. If it wasn’t straight from a honkeytonk or the Opry stage, it was strictly taboo in my household. Often times it was quite difficult to sing along with the other children waiting outside the Jazzercise room, but at least I had the distinct opportunity to know a full collection of cheating and drinking songs by the time I was five. I also got to know Dolly Parton. Even though she wasn’t a family favorite, I learned her music here and there and laughed with the rest at the size of her colossal chest and counterfeit curls. There were jokes about mountains I never really understood, but I chuckled anyway at the expense of this famous and beautiful country singer. Years passed, and late one night not that long ago while watching a talk show, I saw an interview with Dolly. She was promoting a new album and was dressed to the Dolly nines, complete with tight jeans and a bright pink jacket that had to really work to cover all that it was supposed to. In th

One Line Wednesday

Watch your fried green tomatoes, folks... (This one was just too good to not subscribe to the "Wordless Wednesday" idea.)

Thought for a Tuesday

There are few things better than staying up late with old friends, good wine, and outdated photos.

Back in the dating game

Nearly ten years ago I stood before my friends and family and professed my eternal love to my husband. And even though we are very happily married, I find myself dating once again. I didn’t think it was dating at first, but then as I sat there re-reading emails over and over before sending them to this other person, I was immediately taken back to when my husband and I were first going out. In true courtship form, we’d leave little notes for each other; notes that I know I wrote and re-wrote fifteen times before actually delivering them. I was nervous day and night, and can still hear my college roommate laughing at me. She had good right to laugh—I was using a blow dryer to clear-up the nervous sweat from my armpits while I waited for my soon-to-be husband to pick me up on our first real date. I was, obviously, sweaty. But I was also panicky and jumpy and anxious and swore I wouldn’t eat nearly as much as I normally do. I spent eons on my hair, probably twice as much as I spent on my