Reading, Eating, etc.

Processed with VSCO with  preset

Reading

Books:

Still marching through the middle of Middlemarch but I’ve been breaking it up with a few other things:

When Breath Becomes Air: I had high hopes for profundity from this one, but I wish there had been more of an integration of medicine, literature, philosophy, and faith. However, I do realize Kalanithi was actually dying as he wrote this and I imagine writing a book without knowing if you’ll live another week, month, or year makes it a harried process. I did find his wife’s and his largely unquestioning use of ivf out-of-character for him since he had spoken so eloquently about the dignity of human life and he made such a big deal about the need to have a critical mindset when facing possible ethical dilemmas. Otherwise, Kalanithi did come across as a genuinely kind person with both intellectual and personal depth.

La Morte D’Arthur: when Joe and I were dating, we made it a point to read together and some of my happiest memories of the early days of our relationship are wrapped up in the words of G. M. Hopkins, Kenneth Grahame, Josef Pieper, and others. Somehow, between work and babies, we fell out of the habit, but recently we picked up La Morte D’Arthur and it’s been hilarious to read together.

No-Drama Discipline: because it has good reviews and I don’t know the first thing about disciplining children well (how exactly are you supposed to react when your toddler won’t stop gleefully biting you when you’re trying to work out?)

-And some Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers on audiobook.

Articles:

Work, work, work:

The Work You Do, the Person You Are

The United States of Work

The Case for Being Grumpy at Work

-Maybe it’s just because I’m phlegmatic to the bone, but does this just seem more exhausting than laudable to anyone else?

Online life:

Before the Internet: “It was a heady time!” Made me laugh.

My son is a hashtag: “The best we can do is whatever feels OK for us and our children now.” I don’t know. Is that the best? Mightn’t we deeply regret what felt was okay at one point and wish we had thought more critically about it?

More on parenting:

St. John Chrysostom’s advice on raising children

In Defense of Motherhood as Art: I have a lot, a lot of thoughts about this, but I did especially love this part:

“At my most hopeful I think that writing and art are essential to motherhood and vice versa. Each accesses the most ancient, the most universal, the most complex emotions. Each requires the nurturing of a new consciousness, a new being, a new way of seeing. Each is endlessly different and endlessly dull, endlessly challenging and spiked with constant disappointment and beauty.”

Community: Having the Right Intention: lots of ideas here I need to be reminded of for living in my own tiny community.

-And just for fun: If you’re a word-nerd like me, you’ll love this.

Eating

-I threw a girls night a few weeks ago and my sweet friends who knew I’ve been craving Asian this pregnancy all brought me Asian food. The day coincided with National Donut Day and since donuts are one of my two very favorite foods (gnocchi being the other), I made these Vietnamese donuts. (Actually, I made prepped the dough and various friends facilitated the deep frying). I made condensed milk custard dips for them (plain, matcha, and cinnamon flavored) and writing this out makes me really need to get back in the kitchen and whip up another batch.

-We also made Taiwanese popcorn chicken and as a result, a street-food tour of Asia has made its way on my bucket list.

-More Asian yums: crispy ginger tofu. I made ours with stir fried Chinese eggplant and broccoli. Unfortunately, I didn’t dry the tofu out enough to it all got stuck together in one gelatinous mass that I had to cut up after frying. Still good. Still would make again.

-I like themey-ness, so for our anniversary I had originally intended to make something like gnocchi (our wedding day food…because my favorite food) or traditional English picnic fare (we honeymooned in the English countryside). But I had things that needed to be used up in the fridge so it ended up being pan-fried chicken thighs with a white-wine-shallot grape sauce, risotto, and a radicchio almond salad. I wasn’t at all sad for the lack of themey-ness.

-Of course, it’s an unspoken cooking rule that you should always intentionally make too much risotto so that you can make arancini (otherwise known as Italian rice balls of fun).

-Easy weeknight meal: Greek lemon-chicken soup: there was half a rotisserie chicken in the fridge and I had all the ingredients on hand, but I had forgotten how good and simple this soup is. (I made it without a recipe but this is basically what I did.)

Summer eats:

Peach-tomato salad with goat cheese, honey, thyme, olive oil, sea salt and pepper. Made to go alongside steaks and smashed red potatoes.

Worcestershire-balsamic marinated flank steak salad romaine leaves, roasted yukon gold potato medallions, tomatoes, sauteed onions, and goat cheese crumbles.

Tomates farcies (stuffed tomatoes). That sounds fancy, but really it was a clear-the-fridge, shop-the-pantry meal because we had tomatoes that were turning mushy on the counter. I mixed tuna (the good jarred kind, not the cat food in a tin kind), cooked rice, freshly grated parmesan, assorted chopped olives, fresh thyme, a few spoons of olive oil and brine from the olive jar. Then after stuffing the tomatoes with said mixture, I topped them with panko, more parmesan, and a few pats of butter and popped them in the oven to roast. Served with a buttery toasted baguette, this meal ended up being infinitely better than a lot of meals I plan out and shop for.

Etc.

Worth a listen. I’m always wary of buzzwords and ’empathy’ is a hot one right now.

“when…you’re imagining to be empathetic or to share suffering you’re immediately incorporating that experience into a view of yourself and your own worldview. What Arendt wanted was actually something a bit more radical than that, is to imagine something that’s not your world, that makes you feel uncomfortable. And that’s where the work has to start. And that’s why she was also very committed to thinking.”

-Do you and your significant other differ when it comes to board games? Joe likes a good strategy game (Risk, Pandemic, Settlers of Catan). I like a good party game (Loaded Questions, Balderdash, Cranium). I’ve been determined to find a game that fits us both and on an online forum, someone suggested Sushi-Go. It’s actually pretty entertaining, but it’s all the more fun when you get sushi to-go alongside it. I really think we could take our sushi game nights to a whole new level with this baby.

Processed with VSCO with  presetProcessed with VSCO with  presetProcessed with VSCO with  preset

Advertisements
Reading, Eating, etc.

All the Possibilities of Pepper Broth


“Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves. We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!” – Humbert Wolfe 

Except I am listening and all I hear is lawnmowers buzzing and police sirens wailing. Ah Houston. My car is still a hot box when I forget to park it in the shade and we still work up a sweat when we go for walks. But! But! There’s a hint of a breeze and I’m officially not a summertime shut-in anymore.

This dried pepper broth is a concoction of my husband’s and is just the thing to simmer on the stove when you’re pretending like the wind is howling and have got your Netflix fireplace channel roaring. Also, I don’t know about traditional Dios de los Muertos foods but I think this would be perf.

It’s warm and earthy and spicy. Drink it straight (with squeezed lime juice!) when you’re snuffling or let your imagination run wild with all its possibilities. We made tacos, soup, and enchiladas from it–a whole week’s worth of meals!

Dried Chile Pepper Broth (and bonus sauce)

olive oil
1 yellow chopped onion
5 cloves fresh peeled chopped garlic
3-4 fresh chopped tomatoes (you can cheat with the canned variety or is it really cheating is tomatoes aren’t in season?)
7-8 assorted dried peppers
1 fresh chopped jalapeno
2-3 fresh chopped habanero peppers
juice of 2 limes (or 4 key limes as pictured)
salt and pepper

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a stock pot on medium-high. Add chopped onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes. Add tomato and cook for a few minutes more. Add chopped fresh peppers.

Fill the pot with water. (We never measure these things out but you want the pot to be pretty full.) Add dried peppers, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 1.5+hours.

Strain and reserve the broth. Remove the stems from the rehydrated dried peppers. Throw all the non-liquid remains (the peppers, garlic, tomatoes, and onion) of the broth into a blender and blend till smooth. Add a few spoons of the broth if needed to thin out a little. Thus, in addition to the broth, you’ll end up with a thick, egyptian-mud-bath-looking pepper sauce that will bless you manifold.

Add some of the broth and sauce to ground beef for tacos, use the broth as a base for tortilla soup, add Mexican chocolate to the sauce and boom! Instant mole! My computer decided to start updating in the middle of this post which made me curse and wish I had a bloody maria made with this broth so there’s another idea for you. Seriously. Endless possibilities here.

All the Possibilities of Pepper Broth

Weekly Edit

 

I’m changing this posting series yet again because I obviously have issues finding my groove with it. Get ready for an exercise in (nearly) infinite scrolling.

2016-04-19-10.58.57-2.jpg.jpeg2016-04-19-08.22.49-1.jpg.jpeg2016-04-19-08.22.50-1.jpg.jpeg2016-04-21-07.24.26-1.jpg.jpeg

Gifts from the Internet

…on motherhood. On being scared to have a family and to pursue your dreams.

  • I had written this post before I read this, but it reaffirmed all I felt. Your words matter. People who speak of parenthood as an inconvenience and complain about their children are incredibly destructive to single men and women who would consider a vocation to marriage and parenthood, just as people who speak of their families with joy and whose homes are full of gloriously chaotic life bear the most beautiful witness to that vocation. I’m so thankful for the mothers and fathers who have unabashedly shown their love of being a parent:

These parents see their children as creative, exciting, unique human beings, and enjoy watching them grow in their own way, in their own time. When their children are young, they don’t worry about what others think, about whether their child is “advanced” or not, about whether they’ll be a straight-A student. They don’t try to cover up the imperfect moments, or wish their kids would finally be old enough for daycare, old enough to go to school, old enough to finally move out. On the flip side, they don’t “vent” about their children constantly in public forums, complaining about their problems and issues. They recognize the fact that—just as it isn’t appropriate to do that in regards to their husbands, or sisters, or parents-in-law—it’s not appropriate to do with their children, who are also people with feelings and dignity.

Many of the women in my classes are particularly captivated by the idea that a major component of human happiness is the pursuit (if not the achievement) of moral and intellectual perfection…Like Aristotle, they are pursuing moral and intellectual virtues. And of course they are pushing themselves to reach concrete, worldly goals: to ace the MCATs, to write a really fine short story, to master ancient Greek, to play a Bach fugue with confidence and proficiency.

Yet…They sense that other activities and other modes of life offer a very different kind of good: Worship, poetic contemplation, and love are quintessential examples.

My students know that motherhood is more like these activities than it is like the pursuit of excellence. They sense that caring for others requires us to put aside (at least temporarily) the quest for achievement, not just to make time but to create space for a different mode of being. Worship and love: These require no particular talent or cultivation of the sort I have been describing. They are gifts of the self, not achievements of the self.

I don’t want to believe it — that parenting itself makes art hard, that you must always sacrifice one for the other, that there is something inherently selfish and greedy and darkly obsessive in the desire to care as much about the thing you are writing or making as you do about the other humans in your life. What parent would want to believe this?…

“but … Here’s the thing. Despite everything, I have to say that having the kids grew me up in a way nothing else could have. And basically, I needed ten years of mothering before I was like, Whoa, hey, this is what I’m meant to write. And now I’m working on a novel that I love and it feels like the kids gave me that by remaking me.”

Yums!

This was a delicious week.

First off, we started with a bang with our annual spring dinner party (which in keeping with tradition was ridden by both allergies and April showers). I pretty much love seasonal parties as they give me an opportunity to tick off recipes from my pinterest boards. My contributions this year were:

Other seriously delicious contributions were:

Then the torrential downpours called for more comforting fare so we got on a soup kick:

  • My sister made this parmesan soup. It’s the kind of thing that demands to be made again and again even though it’s definitely not the stuff of whole 30.
  • I upcycled the leftover aforementioned chicken into soup. Shredded the chicken, added stock, and cooked and added rice.
  • We had a bunch of vegetables just languishing away so I made clear-the-fridge soup on a mostly monochromatic green theme. Sautéed, boiled, and simmered celery, asparagus, and potatoes and then added scallions and a ridiculous amount of parsley before throwing it all in vitamix and then finishing it all off with heavy cream. Like doing straight shots of vitamin k.
  • On the same culinary color coordinating theme, I made a smoothie with these key players: almonds, flax seed, almond milk, yogurt, unsweetened shredded coconut, and a dash of almond and vanilla extracts.

Et cetera

Ever since one little boy succeeded splendidly at sleep training (in one night! You the real mvp, kid), the whole having free hours in the evening has me doing a happy dance come 7:30 every night. I’ve been celebrating with too much screen time:

  • Poldark. I can’t resist it with its vibes of both Downton Abbey and North and South. I’m getting way too emotionally involved.
  • Less than two episodes of Kimmy Schmidt. I’m just not as charmed this time around.
  • Grantchester which takes the cake for me. It’s filling the gaping void in my life that’s been around ever since I finished Foyle’s War and Rosemary and Thyme.
  • Stars Wars. I finally watched The Force Awakens so we decided to backtrack and start marathoning from the beginning. We just finished slugging through the first three episodes in all their cheesy glory.

……………

Happy Feast of St. George! Some recommended reading for the occasion.

Weekly Edit