Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Maddie's Diner

This is apparently what hip young ladies in Los Angeles eat. I'd show you what small moose eat in Kentucky except that my camera doesn't have a wide-angle lens.

I love the smell of Dog in the morning...

Poor Charles. This morning he and Iain hopped in the Jeep (read: beater car) to fetch our dogs from the "kennel." And by kennel I mean plush dog hotel on 5 acres where they run around with other canines and try to cake on enough mud to break world dog weight records.

So Charles loaded the pups into the back, then tossed their blankets (neatly folded!) into the backseat next to Iain. On top of Iain's diaper bag. Only at home did he discover that said blankets were...moist. As in puddles of water. Or not water, as the case may be.


Remove blankets. Remove baby. Febreze entire Jeep. Empty, rinse, and hang diaper bag to dry. Carefully tote blankets upstairs (drip, drip) to wash in bleach. Mop. Pronounce a curse on the young man who folded those blankets. Yeah, verily: a curse on him and his house forever.

Monday, March 30, 2009


Home at last.

Unlike last Wednesday, this trip was fairly smooth. Iain screamed his head off for about half an hour, then fell asleep on my lap and slept for a good hour plus (maybe an hour and a half. I was too busy watching Daniel Craig whack people and wondering whether there would be a naked scene like in the last Bond film. I guess, even if there was one, they wouldn't show it on an airplane. But there was plenty of jumping and blowing up and shooting and secret-revealing, so I don't mind.).

After that nap, he sailed through the layover in Chicago and the flight down to Lexington. Easy peasy, as Jamie Oliver says.

Now to unpack, catch up, and generally try to restore our sense of equilibrium. All would be easier if I had not adjusted to west coast time. Oh, and if I didn't have to teach tomorrow morning. But no worries - I actually missed my students. Getting up at 6, though: that I did not miss.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Love, Love, Love the Italians

We've been having a little trouble feeding Iain here in Seattle. The problem is two-fold. First, we don't have our usual freezer full of delicious homemade baby food. So he's not getting much veg. (Charles said, "You got what you wanted - he likes Mommy's cooking best.") Second, Iain can't really share our meals out because (this being Seattle) we're eating a ton of sushi, crab, and other seafoods. Since the pediatrician wants us to wait until Iain's a little older to give him fish, and especially shellfish, we've been unable to pass over a taste as we usually do. 

However, there have been bright spots. Today we bought some locally produced hummus, which Iain happily consumed for dinner. At lunch (sushi!), he tried miso soup (success!), inari (sushi rice wrapped in a piece of tofu skin that's slightly sweet), and pickled ginger. The last was a failure, but he liked the tofu, rice, and soup. Yay!

Another bright spot emerged thanks to Maddalena. She's an expert in the history of American immigration (Jewish and Italian, thanksforasking), a helping hand on an NEH grant, and an all 'round fabulous girl. Today she helped save me from a cardigan that was Very Wrong. This morning, she asked me, "Can I give Iain this apple?" "No, it's too hard." "Oh, my mother always grated it." 

Well, duh. 

Miriam got out the grater and went to town on a nice little apple. 

We mixed it into some Greek yoghurt, added some cinnamon, and...

Yeah. Mr. Boy liked that just fine. So today, lunch and dinner passed easily and everyone enjoyed them. I can't believe it never occurred to me to grate the apple. Love the Italians. Love them. The Most. 

Friday, March 27, 2009

Fun in Seattle

Iain is enjoying his new books. Thanks, Aunt Miriam!

Meanwhile, Ben's staff brought us a cocoanut from Hawai'i, complete with a message ("Aloha!") and our names inscribed. It's interestingly lightweight for something that's almost as big as Ben. 
Ben and I enjoyed our meeting. He took it very, very seriously, as you can see. I, on the other hand, was too busy playing with the cocoanut to buckle down and negotiate. I'd make a poor diplomat (for so many reasons), but it looks like Ben could be Ambassador to the UN one day.

Kees, kees, Auntie Miriam!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Do Not Throw Fish at the Baby

Iain is enjoying his Seattle sojourn immensely. This morning, he sampled the cherry scone at Macrina bakery, then took a wee nap in his cool baby tent (on loan from Benjamin). After waking to find Mommy peering through the mesh, he climbed into the stroller to experience the city. A brisk walk up the hill brought Iain to the Convention Center to get Mommy's OAH badge and show Mommy's advisor his 2 teeth (she was very impressed). 

Next stop: lunch at Pike Place Market. Although Lawrence, Miriam and Mommy ate oysters, crab, shrimp and scallops, Iain only got saltines, rice Chex, sweet potato fries, banana and Nutri-grain bar. Only. After lunch, Lawrence desperately tried to convince Mommy to buy him a Batman belt buckle, but Mommy resisted. "It's not professional," she said. 

Then it was food shopping - strawberries and raspberries, french bread and American cheese, milk and Greek yoghurt, apples, pears, mangoes and apricots. Miriam picked up some San Pelligrino and four bananas and we were on our way back to the condo. Iain looked very European, with a baguette sticking up out of his stroller. 

Two large coffees later (did I mention that Macrina is literally outside the door of the condo building? It is.), Mommy and Miriam rudely popped Iain back into the tent for an afternoon nap and relaxed for a nice chat. 

Next: OAH sessions, dinner, and probably more seafood. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bring on the Crab

Two flights, several cranky flight attendants, approximately 30 minutes of nap-time to 8 hours of daytime, uncountable adoring comments from the public, and zero Dungeness crabs later: we have reached Seattle.

The sun was shining. I'm not sure we're in the right place. Also, I'd like to comment publicly that the bathrooms in baggage claim ought to have changing stations.

Thank you.


Isla, doing what she does so well.
Which is sporting huge cheeks!
Oh, and napping with her auntie. That, too.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

One More Time, With Feeling

This dude is everywhere. Everywhere.

One Step at a Time

Charles's little lime tree is bursting with readiness, blooms about to pop all over. This one is a bit early to the party, though.

Here's my blueberry bush. There are four, each planted at a corner of my raised bed. Initially, I was planning to put them under the junipers, but the soil there is Just So Bad that I decided not to risk it. So they are the perennial anchors of my bed.

Same plant, but as you can see it has good camouflage. That's because it's so teensy.

In other news, Iain and I put together two bamboo trellises for the peas/beans I'm planting, and we moved the tomato cages out. I say "we" because Iain was strapped to my chest since he refused to nap and I thought, "Oh, I'll test out the Moby wrap and see if he can still use it." Um...not so much. He weighs a ton (22lbs or so) and it began to sag something awful.

BUT, it was fun while it lasted. Together, we planted the blueberries, put up the trellises (Iain helpfully grabbed the twine), and then pushed in the tomato cages. You can see the finished product below:

Tonight or tomorrow morning, I'll be sowing sugar snap and snow peas. They should grow up the trellis and provide some early-season veggies. Tomatoes and a bell pepper plant will go into the cages in the middle of the bed (directly under the path of the sun as it tracks east to west). Herbs and garlic will go 'round the edges.

Our farmer's market starts April 11, so my plan is to go buy herbs, tomatoes, etc. I was going to grow them from seed, but. But. I ordered my seeds about a month ago, and they still have not arrived. So I'll plant a few (the bell pepper, for instance), but buy the rest. Because at this point it's too late. Boo, hiss.

But Stark Brothers sent me a "free gift" with my fruit trees, and it turned out to be a little packet of lily bulbs. So I tossed those into the bed for color. Add herbs, veggie plants, and some mulch and it'll be parfait!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Pork Adobo - Meh

I'm totally addicted to FoodGawker. As a result, Charles sometimes finds himself the object of an experiment in the kitchen. Last night we tried a Filipino dish called Adobo. I don't think I did everything quite right, so perhaps someone can enlighten me. It was good, but next time I'm going to make some adjustments.

The recipe was:

1.5 pounds pork (a fat cut, like ribs or belly) in chunks
1T vegetable oil

1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup vinegar (white or cider)
1/2 cup water
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2T brown sugar

The instructions were to fry the pork in the oil for 3 minutes, then add the garlic and onion. Fry two more minutes. Then add everything else *except* the brown sugar. Simmer that for 10-15 minutes, while rice cooks. Then add the brown sugar, stir, and yum.

I had some problems. First, I was rushed for various reasons so the pork fried longer than it was supposed to. Second, I added the brown sugar to the liquid sauce mix and since it was too late I just threw it in. Then I added another tablespoon at the end, because the sauce tasted so...vinegary. Third, the simmering period went on about 10 minutes longer than it should have, because I was rushed so I got the rice on late. I think the dish cooked for 40 minutes when it should have cooked for a bare 20.

I also added one minced hot chile (a small, long, green kind - seemed middle-of-the-road to me since I didn't recognize the name. Chiles vary widely in terms of heat and the small and long kinds are usually hotter. But red is often hotter than green, and I cut out the ribs and seeds. So that makes for a medium chile, see?)

One very strange thing about this recipe: it smells bad. Really vinegary. But when you serve it, it's good. Not great, but tasty. And after we ate, the smell seemed kind of nice to me.

The major problems with the recipe were twofold:

1. The pork was like rubber. Way, way too tough. I think I overcooked it, but we used ribs (boneless country-style ribs) which I would normally braise. So I'm thinking next time I might braise this. That changes it from a 20 minute dinner to a 3 hour dinner, but...

2. The chile was a total failure. It added no zip to the dish, and I'm annoyed. That said, I know it had hot stuff in it, because even though I kept saying to myself, "wash your hands" and used only one hand (because I cut my forefinger at Lowe's getting a tomato cage off the stack. So the worst thing, I imagined, would be chile juice in my cut), I ended up swiping my hand across my nose and then washing it. (Because you wouldn't wash your hand and *then* wipe your nose! What would be the point of that?). MISTAKE. My nose burned like it was on fire for approximately an hour. I put an ice cube on it, at one point. True story.

Any thoughts? This is, according to my source, Filipino home cooking, and a dish widely enjoyed across Asia. So perhaps someone can help me make it (and myself) better. I liked the idea of the sauce - the combination of simple things seems just right to me. I just think my technique was poor.


Iain: "Dadadadad. Dad. Daddaad."
Me: "Let me wipe off your face, son."
Iain: squealing
Me: "Son, you just can't have gobs of raspberry jam in your nose. Mommy has to establish this as a rule."
Iain: squealing.

[wipes nose with wet wipe]

Iain: "Dad. Dad. Dad."

Good morning!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Raspberries, Cherries, Apricots, and a Raised Bed

These are some riveting pictures, so get ready:

One of my purple raspberries ("Royalty"). It was bare-root, so I dug a hole about 10 inches across and about a foot deep, amended the soil with better soil plus peat moss, and planted the little puppy in there. I found two earthworms while digging. Yay! Earthworms.

Here's Boris with my new raised bed. I bought four corners and two connectors made of high-quality aluminum (really nice stuff), and then bought six boards (2"x4'x10"). I had to use our drill to screw the boards in, which was not a success. But the whole thing came together quite easily, and the metal pieces are re-usable. So when these boards rot out (usually in a couple of years), I'll just replace them with new boards and start again.

Dave brought me a truckload of topsoil, and I'll pop in my blueberries today. The rest of the bed will be tomatoes, beans, peppers, and herbs.

This is my sweet little apricot tree. Last night we enjoyed a scrumptious dinner at Callie's house, where Woody GuthTree warned us that apricots might be hard to grow here. No surprise there, since our soil is poor and it gets freezy quite late here, but it's worth a try.

And here's the cherry tree. It doesn't look like much, but it's a nice size and has already been pruned by the folks at the nursery. So all we do now is sit back and wait for it to decide whether it's willing to grow here.

Juno, tracking prey. She's not what you'd call super-stealthy. Also, note the lovely brown patches that emerged from our hard, long, icy winter. I can't wait to see some new grass popping up.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Martial Arts

I got a new present. Mommy had to go give a talk at the Frazier Museum, and she wandered into the gift shop [Mistake!].

She fell for this blow-up mace. Really. It was $2.99, which is good since I'm not sure what it's for. It doesn't taste very good.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Setting an Example

Dave (our favorite gardening person) dropped by unexpectedly tonight, bringing a truckload of dirt for my new raised bed. It's a good thing I spent Iain's afternoon nap putting it (mostly) together. Note: I am not good with a drill.

So Dave appeared while dinner was cooking, and he and I dug out the grass where the bed sits. I don't know why you have to do this, but all the books recommend it, so we did it. Meanwhile, it was supper time for Iain. Charles fed him spinach and carrots, then prepared a lovely dessert tray. It contained chopped pear pieces and - for decoration or later use - an entire half of a pear, peeled.

Iain munched away, piece by piece, enjoying his juicy pear. Nom, nom, nom. When I came back in he was nearly done, and experiencing some frustration as he chased the smaller, flatter pieces around the plate with his chubby little fingers.

I scooped up the pear half and took a big bite. Iain watched. Charles laughed. I set the rest down, and Iain immediatly grabbed it.

Next step? CHOMP!


He ate it. The whole thing. On top of his bottle, his dinner, and the other half of the pear. Charles and I watched in fascinated horror. Toward the end I said, "If he starts munching on that plate, we're doomed."

I love this!

I need this. Too, too fabulous.

Eatings! Oops - I mean Outings

Last night, I had dinner with my Number 1 Girlfriend: Callie. For me, it was a night of discovery. Pancakes! Green Beans! Corn Oysters! Mac-n-Cheese!

For Callie, it was no less a night of firsts. Or at least, a night to unleash the inner glutton. Above, she learns that there are 2 rules of bacon:
1. Everything tastes better with bacon.
2. You can never have too much bacon.
[Technically, the First Rule of Bacon is: we don't talk about Bacon.]

Although it's cold today, this promises (at last!) (no, really, this time it's for real!) (seriously, it better be) to be the last gasp of winter. Spring made an appearance earlier this week and I replied by stripping off my socks and embracing the Naked Stroll. Worship my toes. Do it. Do. It.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

It has techno and a VW reference

Slagsmålsklubben - Sponsored by destiny from Tomas Nilsson on Vimeo.

Thanks to Joel Johnson at Boing Boing Gadgets, who writes, "A school project set to the song "Slagsmålsklubben" by Tomas Nilsson, retelling Little Red Riding Hood with inforgraphics-style animations."

Tonight at Chez Ramsey

Despite tonight's forecast (42 now, highs in the UPPER 20s later, bitterbitterbitter), the days are getting longer and we've actually seen the sun two whole times in the last week.

So tonight when I got home we bundled up Mr. Boy and walked through our neighborhood to Ramsey's. Callie and her staff joined us for dinner. She showed us her belly. More than once. But I digress.

Iain really distinguished himself. After rejecting pancakes once before, he chowed down on a pile of pancake pieces (with butter, natch). He then ate rice Chex. He then ate some green beans (cooked with ham, a la Ramsey's), some mac-n-cheese, some cornbread, two pieces of corn fritter, a french fry, a container of apple sauce, and half a banana. Did I mention that he had a bottle on the way over there?

Result? Cheeks:

Oh Baaarrtt!

I have found something for youuuuuuu...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Sunny Day Means Work, Work, Work

One of my spring gardening orders arrived yesterday. I knew when it happened because Charles called my office to ask whether he ought to take out the plants. "Yes!" I said. And then I spent the rest of the afternoon thinking about my lovelies, waiting for me at home.

Above are the three raspberries. They're a variety called Royalton, and are purple. They look pathetic now, but will perk right up. I planted them in that pot so they'd be happy while waiting. But Juno was unhappy outside today, and after barking like a fiend failed to rouse me, she decided that pulling these out of their pot and chewing on them a little would make the point. So I planted them (only a little worse for wear) while Iain took his afternoon nap.

These are my four lovely blueberry bushes. They're tiny. Weensie. Teensy. but quite healthy-looking, and I expect great things. I planted one, but the soil where I put it was atrocious. Really, really bad. It was essentially solid clay. So I'm going to nurse them along in their little pots and plant them into my raised bed once the soil is in (this weekend). I figure 10 inches of great soil will help them build their muscles. When they hit the actual yard dirt, they'll have a head start to bust on through it.

These are my trees. Bare as a stick. In fact, they look a lot like the walking stick Charles found for me when I slipped and fell and broke my leg in Devil's Canyon. With that stick, and 150 pounds of anxious dog, I hiked 3 miles uphill! So it was a good stick.

Our super-helpful lawn guy, Dave, came by this evening and planted them for me. Our soil is so hard that I'm literally unable to dig into certain parts of our yard (picture me jumping up and down on the shovel. Picture me as the girl who, as noted above, fell on her own leg and broke it. Walking. Call me Grace.). So now I have two tiny trees, bravely soaking up soil amendments and tonight's rain. And in a couple of years I should have black cherries and apricots!

Over the weekend I visited Lowe's, where I got a bunch of things for our raised bed and two impulse purchases. The other one was a bunch of grass seed (I'm crazy like that) for the lawn. But this one was 3 little pots of an interesting ground cover I haven't seen before. I'm going to toss that puppy into the garden somewhere and see what happens. The leaves are green/purple and the flowers are tiny bits of lavender.

And, finally, here's Charles's lime tree. It's as ready for spring as I am. Last year this little tree produced 8 limes for us. They were powerful. So I'm looking forward to this year's crop. Picking citrus off of your own tree is a little taste of California for us. Add sushi and some smog and we'd be right at home.

Let's Do Lunch

Listen, darling. It's not you. You were divine. They decided to go in another direction, is all. You're fabulous and I'm gonna find the perfect vehicle to show you off.

[to pool boy: Timmy! Get me some wheatgrass and a hand towel, honey! And shake that tail feather!]

Where were we? Right. You're a doll. Let's do lunch. Maybe next week. Call me.

The View From Above

Books, books, books.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dead people are nice . . . . .

Google Chat

Google chat is one of the few video sensations for which Iain has any time to spare. TV? Please. Not interested. Teh interwebs? Not really, only for a few minutes when we play Sesame Street clips.

But he'll sit around and babble at Google chat, probably because he can see his audience and they can talk to him. So here he is, engaged in 21st century family time.

Dad put the little laptop on the chair, and enticed Iain to try standing up for a few minutes. As you can see, it was warm enough for a little bare-legged action.

Closeup on those thighs. Please do not attempt to snorgle your screen.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sneaky Monkey

He gets more and more dexterous every day. Here Iain pulls the side table close, and then removes the top. He was quite pleased with himself.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunomono with pictures

Hey, Mom. Whatcha doin'? Is it eatable?

We had sunomono again last night. So I took some pictures to show how easy it really is. Above, cucumber and daikon all sliced up, salted and sitting in a sieve sucking up salt and draining out water.

After the veg sat for a while, I rinsed it and shook it off and then mixed 2 tablespoons of sugar into 5 tablespoons of Japanese vinegar.

The whole process is really enhanced if you can arrange for a (rather nutty) nearly-11-month-old to sit in his highchair next to you and scream his head off. Not angry screaming, mostly just "I HAVE A VOICE, WANNA HEAR IT??? OOOOO KKKKKAAAYYY!!"

So anyway, mix the vinegar and sugar till the sugar dissolves, then pour it over the veg and toss.

Cover with plastic wrap, and pop it into your fridge.

Take a moment to contemplate the fact that your fridge is full of small plastic containers. Also, for those who have never seen it whole, that white vegetable is a whole daikon. You see what I meant about not being small. Also, what's underneath is more cucumber. I think we're going to be eating a lot of sunomono in the next week.

Easy, no? And very tasty. I'm so ready for spring that anything crunchy, sharp, and cold tastes really good. Today is the last of the rain and chill for a few days, with 70 degrees and sun on the way. No one could be more grateful than me. Except maybe Charles. Or Boris.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Whatever for vegetables

Our veggies lack substance. "[E]fforts to increase food production have actually produced food that is less nourishing. Fruits seem to be less affected by genetic and environmental dilution, but one can't help but wonder how nutritionally bankrupt veggies can be avoided."

Those pills won't cut it either. "Researchers who examined the pill-popping habits of nearly 162,000 American women aged 50 to 79 found that although they swallowed dietary supplements by the bucketload, there was no sign that they reduced common cancers, heart disease or deaths."

Hmmm, maybe those substance-free vegetables are OK after all? Gotta love modern food science. Me and Iain will stick to fruit.


Me gums hurt, Matey. I needs me a popsmickle STAT! Gives me my popsmickle and nobodies gets hurt. I eats it. I makes mess. I chill for appx. 15 minutes, give or take. It's my best offer.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Location, Location, Location

The data suggests that those in the midwest are not as happy as those in other parts of the country. Is anyone surprised?

How happy are you? You can find more detailed data and do some searches of your own here: http://www.ahiphiwire.org/wellbeing/default.aspx?channel=wellbeing

The NY Times offers its commentary here: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/10/the-happiest-states-of-america/