Category Archives: Food

Running behind 

I signed up for another race – mostly because I want to eat and not lose any of the momentum from finishing the triathlon and partly because the next race in October is with very dear friends and its to run over the Astoria Bridge so it involves a weekend away with my spouse.

Finishing the triathlon is not a sentance that my jr. high self would have envisioned – proof that jr. high, while generally miserable, is thankfully not the sum total of existance.  My eldest is going into fourth grade so we have two years left to pour in quality while she is still sane. And then according to my wise mother the goal in middle school is to just get them through it. 

The next race is a 10K.   I ran one several years ago.   I came in dead last.   I’d prefer not to be last again.   Near the end of the crowd is okay. Last, not so much.    I had a hard time this week getting into the gym during the day.   The Scramble for the Kids is on Monday and so this last week was full of a myriad of details.   As a result, two of my excercise attempts happened late evening after the three year old went to bed.    Couple days ago the nine year old wanted to know if she could come along.      I paused.   Sometimes I run because I need a break.   And last time she ran with me it involved more of me dragging her than actual running.  But the jr. high kid in me wants my daughter’s jr. high experience to include fewer painful PE moments than mine had.   Plus the fact that she wants to run with me is a a great honor.   So I said sure.

She did great.  We ran 2 miles in 25 minutes and were still friends when we came back home.

The almost 4th grader asked if we could run again tonight.  I said 

after dinner and after I read bedtime books to the little one  (Make Way for Ducklings, This is Not my Hat and The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore for those of you curious).   

We headed out with iPod blaring so we could both hear and I was wearing a light backpack so we could bring home treats.  I asked my spouse if a run still counts if it is to the store for ice cream. He said yes. Points for the husband!

  
We paused at the corner because the sunset was gorgeous.  The nine year old had extra energy tonight because she smoked me. I had to push to keep up.     We had another mid run pause to pick up pints of ice cream  (Peanut Butter Cup, Heath Toffee and cookie dough…go big!).   Ran home with ice cream bumping off my back 

  
This two miles we dropped 4 1/2 minutes off our time.  Seriously should add ice cream to every run. Actually I think the fact that I was chasing her down the whole time pushed us both to speed up. 

  
She talked me through all the post run stretches and then we sat on the couch and ate bowls of ice cream and then I dove back into golf details.  And now the house is quiet, the girls are asleep and I’m grateful for today – for reading and laundry and errands and nap time and quiet moments with my spouse. And for the run. I’m grateful. 

  Our pastor says that parenting is not for wimps.  And so we run.  And eat ice cream.  

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The value of rings

Yesterday the rainy weather held off long enough for us to get in a few outdoor projects.  My husband winterized the pool.   I dug up the dead green bean plants, the wilty lemon cucumber plants and mountains of weeds that had taken residence all around our yard.   I filled our composter.  I filled our yard debris can.   I gloried in the clean and trim flower beds.     I went inside.  I washed my hands.   I had a panic attack.     One of my rings was not on my finger.   It was dark outside and my ring was somewhere out in the yard.  Or in the composter.  Or in the yard debris can.

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This ring is 42 years old.   My father bought it in New Mexico as a gift for my mother on their 1st anniversary.   My mother wore it for years.   I remember what her hand looked like with this ring.  About ten years ago she gave it to me.  My hand looks the same.  I wear it because I love my parents, and long marriages, and my husband, and my daughters.   I wear it because people ask about it all the time and I love to tell a good love story.   I always said that someday, I’d pass the ring on to one of my girls.   Now its out in the mud somewhere.

Last night I called my mom and I told her I lost her ring.   She said “Oh honey, I’m so glad it wasn’t your wedding ring.   I have another ring you can have.   Don’t worry.  It’s just a ring”.    The fact that she is so gracious makes me want to find it more.    I know this band of silver and turquoise is just a thing.  But it does happen to be one of my favorite things.   Lesson from my mama though is simple.    People matter.   Things don’t.

I spent an hour today in the rain wandering around my yard.   I dug through the compost bin.  (Ewwww).   I emptied and sorted through the yard debris bin.  (Twice).   I got wet.  and muddy.   and a tad sad.    So I gave up.   I grabbed a few green tomatoes off my plants and went and found my eldest daughter.     She’s always up for cooking something.   Frequently she saves me from great disaster.  The resident chef is training her well.

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This time though I had a plan.   I followed a recipe and I didn’t try to substitute any ingredients.   We chopped and dipped and chatted and took pictures.    She liked how messy our fingers were.

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I liked the smell of the egg and corn meal frying.   She liked the little tomatoes.   I like the taste of the biggest circles.     Fried Green Tomatoes are some pretty amazing rings.   The first time I had Fried Green Tomatoes I was in Atlanta, Georgia.  Great little cafe.   Good ribs.  Good tomatoes.     The second time I had Fried Green Tomatoes was at book club.   Enough said. Anything at book club is divine.

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These turned out nicely.   Crispy on the outside, tart and juicy on the inside.    My daughter and I plan on making them every year.   My baby will be old enough to help next year.    I love how food entertwines us and circles the year.

I’m not giving up on my mama’s ring.   A friend promises to bring his metal detector over and he’s going to comb through my grass.   I hope we find it.   If not, its okay.    I have lots of rings.    My life is circled by love.

 

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Full heart and tummy

Two things motivated me to actually grab my laptop and blog today.  The first and primary reason was that a friend texted me and said I needed to blog.  She’s right.   It’s been awhile.   The second reason is that I had one of those overwhelmed by gratitude moments.    Moments where life is good and joy overflows.

The first trivial but happy event this weekend was we sold our bug.   Gone are the days of swapping the precious spots in the garage.  We both fit again!   I suppose too gone are the summer days zipping around in a convertible but with this rainy and snowy spring I’m not convinced we’ll have any of those summer days anyway.    Someone remind me in July when I’m nine months pregnant, hot and huge, to be grateful for the cool spring.   At any rate, bye bye bug.

Event number two in the weekend was a date night with my spouse.    We’re celebrating our thirteenth wedding anniversary.  We shipped the dog and the kid off to Grandma’s and we went and saw a movie (Hunger Games….as usual, I liked the book better than the movie) and then headed into Portland for a night out.    I redeemed some reward points and got a free night in a hotel.   My husband scoured the internet and found a fun and funky place to eat.     Hot Pot City.    This place had several of the must haves for my perfect type of restaurant.

1.   Its small and funky.     Most of the people in the restaurant spoke Chinese.    I love it when I’m in the minority. 

2.  They gave me lots of utensils and our own pot to cook in right at our table.  I love food that you can mess with.   My spouse said this was why he picked the place.   This is one of the reasons I love my spouse.

3.  Really good food.   Fresh ginger and garlic sauce.   Homemade peanut sauce made with hand pressed sesame seeds and peanut butter.    Steak and noodles.    Thai peppers.   We met the owner.   She said that having people compliment her cooking is her payback for hard work.

We walked back to our hotel, curled up on the couch to watch Drive-ins, Diners and Dives.  What is with the host?  He always talks with his mouth full.    The episode we watched made me crave a good sandwich.    I had just eaten my weight in beef and chinese noodles.  I was working my way though my half of a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream tub.   Oatmeal Cookie was the flavor for the record.    My spouse said I can’t believe you can even think about food with as full as we are.   What can I say, I’m pregnant.

Saturday we met up with my parents and my daughter for her early birthday tea party.

My parents are going on vacation and are missing the soon to be six-year olds actual birthday so naturally they decided she had to have a bonus party.    Guess what was served?  A whole variety plate of yummy sandwiches.   Yet another pregnancy craving fulfilled.

A full weekend.   Family.  Fun.  Food.   Grateful heart.  Full tummy.

 

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Pictures of December

Its only eight days into December.  I feel like I’ve had my quota of Christmas emotions already.  I’m not sure I can handle any more joy or tears or bittersweet moments.

This year trimming our tree had more meaning than normal.  It’s because the five-year-old wanted to the know the history of every ornament.    We showed her some from trips, some she’d made, some from our childhoods.

Saturday we had our practice for the annual preschool bell choir.   After practice, I was a tad worried.  We had several criers, a cacophony of dropped bells and whispers instead of voices during practice for reciting their Bible verses.   We gave the kids entirely too much sugar and sent them home.

This is Alex.   Alex has tried in years previous to participate and due to sensory overload and autism it hasn’t worked out.  This year we were determined.   We were also praying.

Sunday morning came and all the kids were amazing.   They recited their verses.  The bells actually sounded like the songs.   And Alex….well….Alex was amazing.    He sat quietly on his mom’s lap, he rang his bell at the right time,  he smiled and he said his name.   I cried my way through both performances.    I think most people did.   It was such a beautiful picture of patience and love and it was a Christmas miracle.

This is my grandmother.   She has Alzheimer’s.   My sister and my daughter and I visit her once a week.   Some weeks she doesn’t open her eyes.   Some weeks she talks to people who don’t exist.    This week, she held our hands.  She smiled at my daughter.   We told her we loved her and she said she loved us as well.     It was sweet and sad and beautiful.   It was a Christmas miracle.

This is a pot of blackberry syrup.   All summer long I spent time battling blackberries and effectively filled our entire freezer with them.   My husband was gone for the evening so I dragged my daughter to Wal-Mart and Winco (and that’s a blog all in itself) and we came home to make blackberry syrup.

I was extremely worried that I was breaking my blender.   It is actually my blender.   I think I’d seen too many movies with people blending things so last Christmas I told the resident chef that I wanted a blender and he delivered.   I hadn’t used it yet.   He uses it all the time.   I didn’t even know where it was stored.   Luckily my daughter did.   Anyway, I was very worried about the nine cups of frozen blackberries jamming up the motor and burning it up so I tried blending them one cup at a time.   This was really a pain.

The next step in the recipe said to strain out the seeds.    I couldn’t find a strainer.   I called and texted and emailed my spouse.  He didn’t respond.   I point this out because I believe what happened next is really his fault.     I decided to skip the straining step.    Jam has seeds.  Why can’t syrup?

My daughter and I successfully made our way through the rest of the steps and were about ready to can the syrup when the chef got home.    He looked at it and said “That’s not sryup.  It has seeds”.    I won’t bore you with the next bit of conversation but I’ll let you know that I put the syrup down the garbage disposal and vowed never to touch the blackberries or the blender or the stove again.

The next day I got a text from the chef.   He said “I bought you a present”.     I figured this was a nice way of trying to apologize for insulting my cooking.    I texted back ” What is it?”    He replied “A strainer”.      I was not amused.

So, on Tuesday night,  I successfully made and canned seven jars of blackberry syrup.   I am still best buddies with my spouse.   It was fun and time-consuming and a pain and succesful.    It was a Christmas miracle.

I’d like to know if you’ve had any miracles yet this season?

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Thanksgiving

We hosted Thanksgiving for my husband’s family this year.   It was a massive feast.   The trip to Winco was daunting.  We dug through the big pile of turkey’s and surfaced with a twenty-three pound butterball.   Then we stood in awe when we located a twenty pound ham.

My husband brined our turkey and I only called my mother with questions roughly thirty times.    I am especially proud of the fact that all the food was hot at the same time.

My favorite part of Thanksgiving is the smells.   Cranberries and cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg boiling for cranberry relish.    Onions, butter and celery toasting for stuffing.    I don’t cook most of the time.   But Thanksgiving I relish.

 Growing up, my mom and I and later my sister would get up in the middle of the night to start chopping and stuff our bird.

This year, my daughter helped with the stuffing.   It felt right.

My daughter carried a checklist around with her all day.   She asked each of our guests what they were thankful for.  It was all very official.  She likes paper.   When they answered, she added another check to her list.   At one point she walked up to me and said “Mom, I got them all.  Look how many checks.  We have lots to thank for”.     We certainly do.

I’m grateful for my childhood and for the privilege of passing on traditions to my child.   I’m thankful for heat and dish soap and clean water and leftovers.    I’m happy to have room to invite a crowd and for the noise and joy that follows.    My husband makes me smile.   Good friends make me laugh.   I’ve overwhelmed by grace and forgiveness and redemption and hope.    I’m continually shocked (even though I shouldn’t be) by specific answers to prayer.

After the big meal was over I stripped down our turkey and started soup boiling.    I told my husband that I think I cooked more in two days than in the entire prior year combined.     I love turkey soup.    Clearly my daughter does too.   She had two bowls.   I love this little girl.

 

 

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Pumpkin Seeds and Caramel Corn

October is full of fun flavors and festivities.  We’ve cooked and carved and counted down.   I have a new phone so I’m taking pictures of everything.

My daughter and I spent one evening carving a pumpkin.  She dressed appropriately and with typical five year old flare.

I didn’t, my sweater sleeves kept scooching down and getting in the pumpkin goo.

Normally our job is to deal with all the messy stuff and then my husband does the carving.  He elected to watch this year.  I decided I would go all fancy and use a pattern and create a true work of art.

At about this point in the process I realized I’d cut out the wrong part.   I was supposed to remove the moon and the cat.   Sigh.  This is why my spouse is usually in charge.

Here is the lackluster finished product.  I lost heart.

This week the Pioneer Woman did a whole blog about caramel apples. I loved all her toppings.  I’m not that organized.  Nor do I trust myself not to burn the caramel.   Plus I have a friend who makes great caramel apples every year so I figure why bother learning how when I have access.

My husband made caramel corn though.    It’s his mother’s recipe.   Apparently when he was a kid his mother loved to make caramel corn.   Many a time they’d go to bed just as she was getting it ready.   The house would smell like butter and brown sugar and they’d have fall dreams of waking up to a batch of caramel corn.   Alas.  They’d wake up in the morning and the caramel corn would be all gone.   It’s that good.

The resident chef made this batch to share with our small group.    He stirred.  I sat and salivated.

We decided we’d try just a little to see if it was okay to serve.    I wanted to eat the whole bowl.   They say that men marry women like their mothers.  Apparently this is true.   He stole my bowl from me, put the rest in a sealed tupperware and then hid it.    Meanie.

Don’t you just love October?  What’s your favorite treat?

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Running with Grease

I’ve been doing a little personal research into what happens when you eat junk food and then run.   It’s not pretty.  About a week ago we had a potluck at the park.   We were standing around waiting for everyone to arrive and to pass the time we ate potato chips.   Lots of potato chips.   BBQ.  A good solid start. Sea Salt and Vinegar.  Chips that bite back.  Tomato and Basil.   Tastes like spaghetti.  I’m not sure I like them.  That didn’t stop me from eating quite a few.   More people arrived.  They brought more chips.  Doritos.  Cheetos.  I avoided these due to the good ol’ latent TB since I think technically they have cheese in them somewhere.   Tortilla chips.   We didn’t have any forks.   We used potato chips.    On top of the multi layer chip fest I added fried chicken and lemon bars.    The lemon bars were really good so I had two…or three.

Then we went for a two-mile run.    It hurt.  A lot.  I think I was sweating grease.   I told you it wasn’t pretty.  Two young and fit and cute runners tried to lap us.   They failed but it about killed me off.   I think we ran far enough to burn off the lemon bars.   The potato chips and fried chicken are still with me.

The fried chicken wasn’t even very good.  I bought it at the deli.   No comparison to the homemade fried chicken we’d had a week prior.  We were at the church campout.   Usually this involves lots of fun, friends, boats and sunshine.   This year it involved lots of fun, friends, tarps and rain.  I’m happy to report that our tent didn’t leak.   At one point in the deluge we had ten little girls lined up at picnic benches getting fancy manicures.  I did base coats.  My friend is a natural nail artist.  I particularly liked the pig.

After we cleared out the sparkles and polish remover the crew started getting dinner ready.   We were all hovering.  A tiny bit of sunshine broke out.  The food kept coming.  Oh happy day!  Sesame noodle salad, watermelon, homemade potato salad (only four ingredients…its fabulous), bread and fried chicken.   The chicken was not greasy.   It was a bit peppery.   This is why I like camping.   I ate a ton.   Quite wisely  I did not go running afterwards.

On Saturday I ran my very first 10K.  I had a decent plate of spaghetti the night before.  Good carb load.    We ran all six miles.   We came in last.   A group of walkers beat us.   This is becoming a pattern for me.   My mother-in-law reassured me that its a good thing to be a turtle.  Slow and steady may not win the race but she swears turtles finish every race they start.   I do have to say this slow six miles was easier than the potato chip two miles.

I was reminded of my father’s favorite bible verse –

Philippians 4:8

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

It’s his favorite because whatever you put in is what comes out.   I feel like my own living parable.   Junk food in, cruddy run.  It may be fun to dish out  snarky comments and its tempting to jump into divisive gossip.    The outflow though of that kind of input is devastating.     It starts with a sluggish attitude.   Bitterness settles in.   Pretty soon despair is dogging your heals.    Wanna run a good race?   Think on what is good.   Avoid the grease.

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