Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Boats and Men

It has been a really long day here. Porter is sick and tired and Molly will not nap. So I will just leave you with some words of wisdom from a four year old:

Mom, I don't know much about men. But I know A LOT about boats.

I'm Cooking: Sweet and Sour Chicken with Carrots, Brown Rice, Roasted Asparagus. The chicken recipe was a new one for me, but everyone here really liked it. It's not sweet and sour Chinese-style, but with lemon and honey and cinnamon and paprika. I used chicken breasts instead of thighs, and didn't exactly follow the amounts as I like a lot of sauce to pour over my rice, but the recipe is very forgiving. Yum. The asparagus was my first from the CSA, and it was very fresh and delicious just roasted with a little olive oil and lemon pepper.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Last night we had chicken fingers and egg rolls and pretzels for dinner. Not our usual fare, but we were having a picnic. On the water. It was perfect.

Monday, March 29, 2010

End of an Era

So Molly is 16 months old now. I am still nursing her. I only nursed Porter for about 8 months, so this toddler business is new to me. She loves it. It's been really easy and nice for everyone involved. She never took a bottle, and she still will not drink milk. But now I am thinking that it's time to be done. She is my baby and a huge part of me is sad to think about this part of our lives being finished.

BUT, she is turning into the biggest crank-pot ever with me. And I think the nursing has a lot to do with it. I wasn't even clued in to this until my lovely friend Elena said that was when she weaned all of her babies. When they were fussy with her and perfectly happy with everyone else. And that is exactly what Molly is doing. She can be having a grand old time with Bryce, then as soon as I come along she's whiny and fussy and clingy and I can't do anything. Even though she doesn't talk, she can now ask to nurse, and when I refuse, she throws a tantrum. Fists pumping the floor kind of thing.

PLUS, I have to admit that it sounds nice to have my body back. To be able to drink 4 cups of coffee with impunity. And to be able to leave her overnight with other people (namely my mom this summer!) and not have to worry.

So I know all this, but I am dragging my feet. I guess I just have to do it. Maybe next week.

I'm Cooking: Last night I made Cream of Celery soup. I just used half the cream and more chicken stock. I'm not the biggest fan of celery, but this was tasty, a standard creamy vegetable soup. And Bryce couldn't even figure out what was in it. It's kind of rich, and would be better as a first course (not that we have meals with courses around here) I think. I also made a Key Lime Pie. I use the recipe from my Fannie Farmer Baking Book, but I found it here online. I use a graham cracker crust though, and I always end up using like 10 tablespoons lime juice. Have I mentioned that I love limes?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

Nice Day for a Walk

Walking, with nine kids...

That last picture makes me laugh, with these kids playing on a frozen lake in front of a glacier in a mini skirt, a t-shirt, and only two hats among them.

I'm Cooking: Penne with Sausage, Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes. You have to make this recipe. It is really an easy, one pot meal. My whole family likes it. It's convenient enough that I make it on busy week nights, but good enough that I make it when people come over for dinner. I tend to add more tomatoes and spinach, but it's good as written.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Sometimes I just get a little nostalgic...

In other news, it looks like we bought a boat today! Here's to beautiful coastal pictures and salmon filled dinners.

I'm Cooking: I got a bunch of collard greens in my CSA yesterday, and I had completely forgotten how much I love them. I'm not sure my family agrees, but it doesn't really matter, I'll happily eat them all. So for dinner last night we had Parmesan Tilapia, Rice Pilaf with Lentils and Sweet Potatoes, and Braised Collard Greens.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Porter actually got up in the middle of the night over the weekend and threw up in the toilet. I thought we were really making progress in the self sufficient sickness department, but then he threw up all over his bed last night.*

Molly still isn't talking. Like at all. I really did learn my lesson with Porter after useless 18 month old speech therapy and the yes and no buttons (and his total inability to shut up now), but still. Why won't she talk? She knows exactly what I want her to do and she just laughs.

Porter finally passed Level 2 swimming lessons, after approximately 12 times. I'm so proud of him! Although his swimming looks a lot like drowning, he can jump in the the pool and swim back to the side. I still don't trust him, but he is so close.

I'm Cooking: I made Tortilla Soup with Lime last night. I LOVE limes! I got the idea from a website, but I changed enough things that it seemed to warrant typing out. I've made several different tortilla soups, but this one was pretty dang good. Plus easy and quick. You could really add lots of different veggies to it if you wanted.

*For those of you that are planning to see us in the near future, Porter really doesn't seem sick anymore. He is just a puker, always has been.

Monday, March 22, 2010


We had a stunning weekend here in the Far North. It was sunny and warm and way too summer-ish for March. We had big plans to get outside. The kids responded by vomiting and waking up at all hours of the night. So the stomach bug kept us hanging around the house more than we would have liked, but Bryce did a lot of yard work. And I tried to clean out my cracker crumb pit of a car, until I locked both sets of keys inside when I was half way done. I think the cards were just stacked against us this weekend. But it was beautiful. And it made me happy.

It is cloudy today, but not raining. So the kids and I got out on a little hike. I enjoyed myself, but I don't think Porter was quite up for it, as he told me that inside was "waaaaaay funner." I don't think he meant it though.

I'm Cooking: I didn't cook a whole lot this weekend (for obvious reasons). But I did make big salads on Saturday with broiled chicken breasts, hard boiled eggs, cucumbers, carrots, and vinaigrette with white balsamic vinegar. If you haven't had white balsamic vinegar, you should. It makes really great salad dressing. Yum.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sleepy Friday

First of all, the Irish soda bread turned out pretty well. I think I found the right recipe, I just need to work on my technique a bit.

Today we are staying in and being quiet. My kids have seemed extra worn out lately. I'm not sure if it's the time change or us being busy or just life, but they've been cranky and tired. Both of my kids have always been very sensitive to their need for sleep. I hear about young kids that don't nap or go to bed really late, and I never can believe it. I mean, these kids seem totally happy and fine, but mine are a serious disaster when they are over-tired. When Porter was a toddler, I could pretty much never find a reason to leave the house in the afternoon that would make up for his insanity that night if he missed his nap. And Molly is much the same way. She needs a good 2-3 hour nap in her crib or she's miserable.

However, with Porter being older and us having a lot more to do (and me actually having stay at home mom friends), this doesn't always happen. Yesterday we had a play group meeting in the afternoon, so I put her down for a nap in the morning, and she slept for maybe an hour. I figured she could doze in the car later as we were driving home, and that would be enough. But man, she was getting cranky as we were leaving, and when we got home she had turned into a mini-beast that collapsed in tears every time you looked at her. It was a pleasant evening.

Porter gave up naps months and months ago, but he's been acting tired in the afternoon lately too. Twice in the past week, I've had him get in bed, and he's slept for two hours and still been happy to go to bed at eight. I'm not sure what this is all about. Maybe he's going through a growth spurt or maybe he's just been getting a lot of exercise. But two hours in the house with no conscious kids? I'll take it.

In any case, Molly is on her second nap of the day, and we have been having fun inside. We made pancakes for breakfast (Porter's absolute favorite). And homemade play dough (which I love since the color is much less noticeable once it is ground into our carpet).

I'm Cooking: Fish with Roasted Vegetable Ragout, Rice Pilaf. The fish and veggies were a new recipe for me, and I thought it was a fantastic, healthy dish. I used zucchini, red onion, canned diced tomatoes and carrots, but you could use almost any vegetable combination you wanted (although personally I think the tomatoes and onion are a must). I think just about any kind of fish would work too. I had tilapia, and seasoned it with lemon pepper.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Whiskey on Sunday and Tears on our Cheeks

I lived in Ireland for a year during college, and every St. Patrick's Day finds me reminiscing about that romantic time in my life. I loved Ireland. I loved my crappy apartment in Cork, I loved the beer, I loved the music, and I really loved the people there. I would love to go back some day, but a part of me is scared that it wouldn't be the perfect place I've built up in my memories. You know the whole bit about never going home again. Anyway, the two things the I am really missing today are Beamish stout and Barry's tea (in the red box). Hard to find in the States, and impossible in Alaska. Sigh. To make up for it though, I've been drinking a lot of English Breakfast and playing my Pogues CDs really loud. So far, the kids have not appreciated Shane MacGowan, as their tastes still seem to run to the Beach Boys and reggae.

Something else I loved over there was Irish soda bread. The grocery store I went to sold this whole wheat version (just called brown bread there) that I ate almost every morning for breakfast. It was the kind of bread they served in pubs with stew. None of this caraway seed raisin business that always seems to be passed off as soda bread here. I've tried many times to recreate this stuff, and always failed. But today, I'm trying again. I've done my research, and it's baking now so we will see. Updates tomorrow.

Another thing that happened that year is that my family came to visit. My dad came out first, and we spent some time driving around the country. We were at a pub in Belfast, having a pint (or two or three), when I got the first parenting advice of my life. I was newly engaged, but pretty far from even thinking about having kids. My dad told me that it didn't really matter what I did or how much money I had or what I thought I knew about parenting. He said that all you had to do was spend time with kids, doing anything, doing nothing. And if you did that, everyone would turn out okay. Somehow, that made the whole thing seem less daunting. And I think about it a lot when I'm getting all riled up about which kindergarten I should send Porter to or if I should go back to work or if I'm doing the right thing. And I have the fondest memory of that afternoon in Northern Ireland. So even though I'm pretty sure he doesn't read this, thanks Dad.

And Happy St. Patrick's Day.

Thanks to Tracey for the cupcakes!

I'm Cooking: Orange Glazed Chicken, Baked Sweet Potato Chunks, Biscuits. This was last night's dinner, and it was an improvised one. Sorry if the recipes are less than exact.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Today I found an enormous spider in our bathroom sink. I am not a fan of spiders. They pretty much freak me out. My kids were here though, and I hate to let on about stuff like that in front of them. Porter isn't scared of spiders at all. He has been known, on occasion, to pick them up, play with them and call them his friends. I can't even watch, it makes me want to crawl out of my skin. But I'm glad he's not afraid of spiders yet. It amazes me that this is not an instinctual reaction, but rather one learned over time. When he was maybe 18 months old, he found a beetle in our house and came to me with it wriggling in his hand. Without even thinking, I yelped and knocked it out of his hand. Hard. The bug was harmless, and he was so startled by my reaction that he started crying. And then he was scared of it. After that experience (which he seems not to remember now), I have been trying to not let my fears and inhibitions affect him and his choices. And it's about a lot more than bugs. It's about food and people and life. I guess if he doesn't want to study arachnology (yes, that's the word, I looked it up) in college, that would be FINE with me. But I just hope it's not because of me.

Molly still loves the table. She likes to hang out right on the edge like she's not paying any attention. It's a show-stopper.

Last week, I got some sunchokes (also known as Jerusalem artichokes) in my CSA. I had never seen or tasted them before. They are a little tuber, and I wasn't sure what to do with them. Last night, I was making some soup that needed potatoes, and I used these guys instead. Very tasty. I can't wait to try them again on their own.

We also made it to the beach this morning, it really feels like spring is in the air.

I'm Cooking: Cabbage Soup! I made it with regular bacon, added carrots and used just one normal bay leaf. My kids don't seem to like cabbage, but I love it, a nice Irish treat.

Monday, March 15, 2010


I am trying to make all my meal ideas clickable. If the recipe was found on the internet, the link will take you to the website (I love and If it's a recipe of mine, the link should take you to a Google document. I haven't done the old ones yet, but I'm working on it. Cheers!

Porter's ski lesson passed without event this Saturday. I kept my eye on all the instructors, but honestly, they all seemed really nice. Young, but nice.

We continue our quest to figure out rhyming. We were driving in the car, when Porter proudly pointed out that "store" and "story" have the same sound and therefore rhyme. We'll get there some day.

I also noticed this weekend that I am going through a lot less cleaning supplies than I used to. It seems like I never have to buy them anymore. This is clearly not due to my efficiency or green cleaning habits, and my bathrooms are gross. So I'm off...

I'm Cooking: Last night I made this chicken with spinach and tomatoes and baked brown rice. Read the reviews on the chicken, I seasoned it more with salt, pepper and thyme, used more balsamic vinegar and didn't make the cous cous. But it was a quick, healthy meal. I just love spinach.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Night Dinner

I decided today to (finally) cook another recipe out of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I have, of course, been inspired by the Julia Child movie, and I picked her Coq Au Vin with brown braised onions, mushrooms and sauteed potatoes. The recipe isn't terribly complicated, but it has a lot of steps, and it took me most of the afternoon to finish.

For the first time in my life I cut up a whole raw chicken into its proper pieces. It seems silly that I've never done that before, but grocery stores make it easy to just buy what you want already assembled. I also got to pour Cognac over the chicken and light it on fire (a new one for me), which Porter was beyond thrilled about.

I cooked the pearl onions, mushrooms and potatoes separate from the stew, and oh my God, I really have been cooking all three of those things the wrong way my whole life.

I could have eaten just the vegetables alone and been happy, they were that good. But the stew cooked with its brandy and a whole bottle of red wine, along with other delicious things like bacon and butter and brown stock. This is not a healthy meal by any means, but that's really not the point.

And then, Bryce decided to take Porter camping. Yes, in this weather:

In his defense, he had no idea I was cooking a fancy meal. And Porter was so excited to go at that point, I really couldn't say no. So...Molly and I (really just me, Molly apparently doesn't have a discriminating palate yet and preferred cheese and oranges) enjoyed an absolutely FANTASTIC supper a la Julia Child. I actually learned a lot about cooking techniques today, and even though there was no one to tell me, I know it was good. I'm going to deal with the dishes later. Bon appetit!

Thursday, March 11, 2010


We had a long, fun day today. I made an apple cake (also from the Fannie Farmer Baking Book) to take to a play group, and both kids and adults seemed to enjoy it. Plus it is so easy...

Fresh Apple Cake

6 tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
2 cups finely chopped raw apple (unpeeled)
powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and flour an 8 inch square pan.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until it is creamy. Add the sugar and beat until well blended. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, and mix them into the butter-sugar mixture. Beat until smooth and blended, the mixture will be very stiff. Add the apple and mix well.

Spread evenly in the pan. Bake for about 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. I had to bake mine for the full 45 minutes, so make sure it is done. Dust with powdered sugar if desired, and serve warm or cool.

The kids are tired and cranky now, but even so, they sure make me laugh...

I'm Cooking: Sesame Chicken, Snow Peas and Jasmine Rice

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bits and Pieces

In an attempt to use up some grapefruit juice, I made citrus bread this morning (adapted from a Fannie Farmer Baking Book recipe). My house smelled fabulous while it was baking, it turned out nicely, and the kids ate it up. It's more of a treat than a bread, but that didn't prevent me from eating 3 slices. I think it'll be really good tomorrow morning toasted with butter.

Last night, I tried a new chicken and lentil dish, and it turned out great, except that the lentils took forever to cook, way longer than the recipe indicated. This happens to me a lot with lentils, and I'm wondering if I'm doing something wrong, or if it's just the kind of lentils that I buy or how old they are. Hmmm.

Porter's preschool is mostly play-based, and so we work on some of the other pre-kindergarten skills here at home. He picks up on things fairly quickly, and it's more fun than anything else. The one thing that he can't seem to understand though is rhyming. He doesn't seem to hear it, no matter how I explain. I tell him to listen for words that sound the same, or have the same ending. And then I will ask him if "glue" and "boat" rhyme, and he'll shout "yes!" And then when I ask if "glue" and "shoe" rhyme (words said slowly with much emphasis), he'll look at me and say "no?" He's just guessing and has no idea. It's funny, I'm not sure how you really teach that, or if it's something he'll just get at a certain point. It seems so obvious to me, but then the world and its words are a lot more new to Porter.

Totally embarrassing confession: This morning, Porter had no clean underwear. I really don't know how this happens as I do laundry every freaking day. But it did. So I dug a few dirty pairs out of his hamper, smelled them to see which was the cleanest, and had him wear those.

I'm Cooking: Grapefruit Citrus Quick Bread, Baked Peanut Pork Chops, Stir-Fried Bok Choy, and White Rice. I'm using this Spicy Peanut Bake stuff on the pork chops, it's a super easy short cut and everyone here likes it.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Skiing Stories

Porter has been taking skiing lessons this winter. He can actually ski down the hill by himself now, and it's so fun to watch him. He loves it, and it's funny to see how jazzed up he is after the lesson is over.

Last Saturday, he told us that his teacher said he didn't like him. And that it was mean. He really wanted to tell us about this, but he really didn't seem all that worked up about it. Four year olds are not the most reliable of story tellers, so I tried to get more details. The teacher said he didn't like you? Or something you did? Why did he tell you that? I think all I did was confuse him, and I didn't get a good answer.

The mama bear in me wants to go up there and find out why in the hell someone would say that to a FOUR year old. Or send Bryce to do it, as I know he is more than willing. But it seems that the more likely scenario is that Porter misunderstood. And I don't want to be a total ass of a parent, making a big stink out of nothing. I can't even imagine trying to teach a group of three and four year olds how to ski. I'm pretty sure it requires some patience, and I know that can run thin. But it breaks my heart to think about an adult being mean to my son. He's such a happy little guy. So, in the end, I guess there's not a lot we're going to do. But it's hard.

On another note, after writing yesterday about Molly's "remarkable balance," she has fallen off the kitchen table no less than six times. One of them was even this crazy, horizontal, superman-esque thing that I only caught out of the corner of my eye. But every time? She was totally fine.

Also, I have a bunch of grapefruit juice to use up if anyone has any ideas.

I'm Cooking: Chicken and Lentils (thanks Jenn!) and Brown Rice

Monday, March 8, 2010

Different Strokes

Now that Molly is a toddler, her personality is really shining through. Really shining. She is a handful. She is also sweet and funny, but I have to keep my eye on her all the time. Porter (especially in hindsight) was not like this at all. He pulled the usual toddler antics, but was generally pretty mellow. Molly likes to get herself involved in everything, and her favorite game (other than pulling unidentifiable items from the garbage can) seems to be gaining elevation however she can. Over the weekend, I found her here:

And here:

And here:

Yes, she did turn the water on herself. And yes, that is a hair dryer.

The table dancing, I pretty much let slide. No matter what I do with the chairs, she seems to find a way up there. And her balance is remarkably good. But clearly she can't be left alone, even for a minute. As I learned all too well the other day when I left her in the kitchen. This had previously been a fairly safe place for her, but we had gotten a new stove, and I wasn't aware of how easy it was to open. I came back in, and found Molly IN THE OVEN. It wasn't on, and she hadn't managed to close herself in, but good grief, the kitchen is obviously no longer an acceptable place for her to play. I'm curious to see how this all pans out when she gets older. Hopefully there won't be too many stitches.

I'm Cooking: Pasta with Peas, Ham & Parmesan Cheese. This is one of my go-to meals when I want something quick, easy, containing most food groups, that kids and grown-ups will both eat with no whining. I'm watching a couple of extra kids tonight, so we'll see how it goes down.

Friday, March 5, 2010


Dinner turned out pretty well last night, even though it was just a collection of leftovers. It's been a busy week here, and this morning we had absolutely nothing to do. We had a quiet morning at home. We even played outside.

We made cookies.

And of course...

I'm Cooking: Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Coconut Pine Nut Cookies. And I think that may be it. Pizza (the deliverable kind) sounds pretty good.