multi-hyphenated-me

the hyphens that define my life

What’s Cooking? August 31, 2013

Today, on August 31, I received my October issue of Family Circle magazine.

I love magazines, as I have mentioned many times.  I subscribe to Family Circle, Better Homes and Gardens, Martha Stewart Living, Whole Living, Sunset (Northwest edition!), Fast Company, Dwell, Bon Appetit, Real Simple, Mother Earth News, Real Simple Family, Eating Well, Fitness, and Bon Appetit.  I read every one, cover to cover. I also dissect the magazines as I go along, tearing out articles, webpages referenced, house and garden project ideas, clothing ideas, recipes and anything else that strikes my mood.  I then file the tear outs into folders for future reference. My system is justified (monthly to my husband) as I get rid of what I don’t want, so I don’t store magazines in their entirety and my system is efficient because I regularly review my files to either use or purge the information.

My magazine process works but is completely ridiculous.  For one, at work, I am completely virtual, operating without paper day in and day out. Second, I despise filing, even more so than ironing. Yet, for whatever reason, my magazine system, filing included, brings me joy.

Have you ever noticed, while reading a magazine, that, in the food section, only weeknight menus are provided?   Real Simple, Eating Well, Better Homes and Gardens and Family Circle all provide 5 meals to get you through the week.  Family Circle also provides a month of weeknight dinners in the October issue. 

I don’t know about you, but I cook seven days a week (or at least strive to).  We have to eat seven days a week. Why then, do magazines only provide 5 days worth of menus for a week?  Maybe the thought is that you have more time on the weekend than you do during the week to plan your dinner menu.  I don’t know about you, but my weekends are equally as busy as my weekdays.  Or perhaps magazine people dine out on the weekends or mooch meals off of family and friends.  I can’t speak for magazine people, I don’t know their rationale.

My rationale is to plan dinner for every night of the week, all 28, 30 or 31.  If I am able to dine out or mooch meals off family or friends, you know I’m there, but I have a back up plan.

Here is our September menu for every night of the 30 days hath September.  Every week, we have a meatless meal, one or two nights of fish/seafood, and a pasta.  We only have beef 1-2 a month with chicken and pork as our standing meat meals.  I use recipes from family favorites, current magazines, cookbooks and from my file collections.  As I prepare the calendar I collect the recipes and clip it all together for easy reference.  A method to my madness, or just madness? Enjoy.

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

1

Spinach Mushroom Quiche w/ Salad

 

2

BBQ Chicken

Potato Salad

Corn on Cob

Goodbye Summer

3

Shredded Beef Tacos

Rice & Beans

Guac

4

Ratatouille & Pasta

 

5

Turkey Meatloaf

Baked Potatoes

Green Beans

 

6

Coho Salmon w/ herbed quinoa

7

Soccer Tournament

Dinner Out

8

Scallops & Summer Squash

 

9

Loaded Baked Potato Soup & Salad

 

10

Pork Milanese with Sweet Potatoes

 

11

Eggplant Parmesan

 

12

Braised Chicken with Fennel & Brown Rice

 

13

Cod with tomatoes, polenta and sautéed spinach

 

14

Pork Tenderloin with Red Cabbage

 

 

15

Chicken & Dumplings

 

16

Broccoli Soup & Salad

 

17

Chicken Marsala w/bowtie pasta

18

Bean & Cheese Burritos

19

Hash& Eggs

 

20

Salmon Cakes with Lemon & Dill

 

21

My Birthday Dinner Out!

 

22

Chicken Pot Pie

 

23

Minestrone & Garlic Bread

 

24

Chicken Enchiladas

25

DIY Pizza

26

Chicken Piccata & Broccoli

27

Shrimp Risotto

 

28

Bratwurst & Sauerkraut

 

 

 

29

Chili & Cornbread

 

30

Andre’s 8th Birthday Dinner Out!

 

 

         
 

Between a Bear and a Pearl August 30, 2013

Where will you find us?  Between a Bear and a Pearl, at least according to our dog, Dale.  On our block, next door, in fact, live Bear to the West and Pearl to the East. Dale, as usual, has made friends before the rest of us.

Bear is a two year old rambunctious Golden Retriever with a two year old mentality.  He knows commands and how to behave, but he revels in breaking the rules.  He hurdles the low wall between our properties and runs circles around all of us while over-excitedly wagging every part of himself hoping for a pet.  Dale, at 14, is a crotchety old man and tolerates the toddler for a quick sniff and a hair raise then urinates around our yard staking his claim.  As much as Bear whips us joyously into a frenzy, it is sad to really see how old sweet Dale has become.  Dale used to be hyperactive and crazy.  Now he just sleeps most of the day, venturing outside only to take care of his business.

On our eastside, lives Pearl.  Where Bear and Dale, in his youth, are cut from the same wild and crazy kinda guy fabric, Pearl is calm, serene, quiet and obedient.   Pearl is a Goldendoodle but more doodle than golden.  She doesn’t crave attention, doesn’t bark (except her mother claims she barks at the mailman), and doesn’t aggrevate the chickens in their backyard coop.  Even Dale, at 14, would stir the chickens into a tizzy given the chance.

Both of our neighbors smartly only have one pet each.  We, in the middle of sanity, have our own personal menagerie.  Dale, like children, wishes he was an only child, but our philosophy is consistent – if we’re going to be tortured, so are you.  Our pet collection is driven by the love for animals of our own Dr. Doolittle, Niko, our 9 year old.  He loves to learn about animals, be around animals and, if he’s lucky, add to his family of pets.

 So far we have added three cats, litter mates we acquired from Vince’s cousin.  Mittens, Niko’s cat, is our pretty grey girl with white paws.  T-Bone is white and gray with a definitive white T on his side and appropriately, Trace’s cat.  Jerry is the over-anxious brother that picks fights, like his owner Andre, but is mostly content sleeping, not like Andre.  The cats are kept indoors and share the basement playroom with the boys.  They occasionally escape and run upstairs to sleep on the boys beds.  Dale is oblivious to their sneaking about.

Niko, added a Crested Gecko, Camo, to our family in the fall of 2012.  Niko carries him everywhere, on his shoulder or on his hand.  He has been lost twice.  Once, Niko took him to the bathroom with him and put him on the counter and forgot about him when Niko left the bathroom.  Another time, I found Camo in our entry way just cruising through, we’re not sure how he managed to get there.

For Niko’s 9th birthday, he really wanted a snake and got a ball python which he loved.  After a few weeks, sheriff the snake (named sheriff because he would wrap around their wrists and cuff the boys) drowned himself in his water bowl.  Dad couldn’t bear to see Niko’s tears and anguish so he took Niko back to the pet store to get another snake.  Andre tagged along.  Next thing I knew, two baby corn snakes came to live at our house.  They are small and easy for the boys to manage and seem to be thriving.  About a month ago, Niko or Andre left the cage lid slightly ajar and the snakes escaped.  Yes, two snakes were wild and free in our house.  I found one wrapped around the leg of my couch re-upholstery project.    it was broad daylight and I didn’t find him in my bed so I was relieved.  Niko quickly put him in his terrarium.  Andre’s snake, an albino corn snake, remained missing for several more days until Vince found him in the crawl space beneath the house, in the dark by the light of the flashlight only.  Both snakes are contained and well. Phew!

Niko’s love for animals goes beyond dogs, cats, and reptiles.  Niko wanted a bird.  Not just any bird.  He wanted a bird that he could talk to (stab in the heart, no friends in our new neighborhood) and train, hopefully a parrot.  Since I wasn’t ready to take on that kind of project, we convinced Niko to start with a cockatiel.  I suggested a parakeet but Dad is a giver and got him, not one, but two cockatiels, Tropie and Calie.  I call them Lemonhead and Nutterbutter when referring to them as Lemonhead has a yellow head and Nutterbutter has a grey/brown head.  Not only do we have two new pets, we also have an alarm clock, 6:15 every day.

Dale has free roam of the house, though he can’t manage more than a couple of stairs so he stays to the main level.  The cats, as stated, have the basement.  Reptiles are in the boys rooms.  And the birds are in the living room.  Though I still think Dale would love to chase some chickens, he doesn’t seem to mind the cockatiels unless they wake him from his nap and he gets up and leaves the room.

Other than cleaning the cat litter boxes, Niko’s chores are to care for the animals.  He occassionally needs reminding, but he has shown incredible responsibility and care for his animals.

We have now come to our senses, no more kids, no more pets.  Our house is full, with Bear and Pearl as bookends.

Note:  I KNOW this would be a great post to have photos but I’m having computer issues.  Next time…

 

Cookbook Inspiration August 29, 2013

Filed under: Cooking — multihyphenatedme @ 10:13 pm
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Confession.

Unconsciously, I collect cookbooks. 

I have a cookbook library of 73 cookbooks. My obsession makes me laugh.  I say it is my unconscious collection because I don’t consciously think to add new cookbooks.  I am drawn to them, inspired by the promise of their creations. 

Seventeen of these cookbooks are vegetarian.  Twenty-two are dessert related.  Near equally, I am healthy and a junkie with a sweet tooth. Let’s call it balance.

With our recent move, I purged 16 or 17 cookbooks that weren’t worth moving.  I can’t even remember what was left behind.  To my joy, the prior owner left a stash of 12 cookbooks that includes a 1951 copy of Favorite Torte and Cake Recipes that I look forward to testing in the near future.

Many of the cookbooks in my collection I receive as gifts, pilfered from my mother’s stash, inherited from my Grandmother or just picked up along the way. No matter the source, I use all of my cookbooks.  I read them, cover to cover, sample recipes as time passes, and make notes in the margins – dated, in ink, with my comments and family reaction.

There are six cookbooks, set aside from the rest, that are my go-to favorites. 

  • The Martha Stewart Cookbook is by far my most loved.  Her recipes are labor intensive but worth the effort as every recipe attempted is fantastic.
  • Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook and Barefoot Contessa Family Style recipes are loved by my family.  
  • Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything is a fast reference for instant success.
  • Better Homes & Gardens New CookBook (the one with the red plaid cover) is filled with classic recipes you can’t live without.
  • Biba’s Italy by Biba Caggiano was a gift from my mother-in-law and has provided so many incredible meals and desserts.  My boys request these recipes which speaks to their advanced palettes and appreciation for great food.

Growing up, a few weeks every summer on my grandparents eighty acres in the middle of the Muskegon National Forest in Michigan, I spent nights playing cards (Screw Your Neighbor – it was the 70’s – this game is very much like Uno today) with my older sister and grandparents, and reading my Grandma’s recipe booklets that she hoarded upstairs next to our bed. This was my first introduction to written recipes.  My Grandma made her own pasta noodles to serve with venison and noodles.  She made paraffin topped jam from anything she could cook down.  She shopped at farmer’s markets, my Grandpa hunted, and what she didn’t can, she froze.  She was adventurous to cook turtle soup from a snapping turtle my grandfather caught earlier that day and she used to fry french fries in raccoon fat. Sound gnarly for you city folk? When you’re young and hungry you didn’t think about it, you just ate it. Fries in coon fat is delicious and we always begged for more.  We spent these summers foraging for mushrooms, wild blueberries and sassafras roots or fishing in the lakes for bass and blue gill then having a big fish fry complete with hush puppies. We baked bread, made pies and, one time, made so much caramel corn that I gorged myself sick.  Good times, great memories.  It was from these summers that I fell in love with reading recipes.  Granted, my choices were Harlequin romance novels or recipe booklets, which at age 8 or 9, was an easy choice I’m thankful I made today.

The cookbooks and recipes inspire and my family gives me purpose to create delicious food.

Nostalgia waves through me as I canned seven quarts and sixteen pints of peaches and one pint, seven half pints and two quarter pints of peach butter and put a gallon of blueberries and thirteen pounds of blackberries in the freezer from our first Spokane summer.

 

Bury Me in Books August 28, 2013

My love for reading is beyond books. Subscriptions to newspapers and a ridiculous number of magazines prove this.  I just love stories at any time, any where.  I riddle new poeple I meet with questions so I can understand their story.  If driving in the car, I listen to an audio book or NPR public radio to hear world stories and views.  My mind is stimulated through learning how the threads of the fabric of our lives are woven together.  That is, until I trip on the threads and find myself down the rabbit hole in Wonderland.

Recently, Spokane news reported the tragic story of two teenagers that beat an 88-year-old man to death with a flashlight outside the Eagles Lodge in North Spokane.  I looked up the address of the Eagle’s Lodge when I read this report to see how far away from my door did this horrific tragedy occur.  Thankfully, far enough away for me not to give a second thought.  In the paper this morning, the teenagers claim that the old man shorted them in a crack cocaine deal and they beat him as the result.  The plot thickens.

Today, as I drove north on Division, turned right on Francis and made a left on Lidgerfeld, to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles, I found myself on the same street, driving past the Eagles Lodge, where the incident occurred.    Hello.  I’m new to town.  Have I found myself suddenly in a drug zone? Is this a safe area?  Eek.  I pulled into the parking lot, parked the car, and hustled on into the DMV and took care of my business.  I mentioned the incident to the DMV clerk and she was, at first, oblivious to the entire ordeal.  When she came to her senses, she recalled the event and said the teenagers should be hung and quartered.   I told her of the news update of a drug deal gone bad and a switch flipped.  “Oh,” she said “Doesn’t that change your perspective.” Not having formulated an opinion, it was clearly not my perspective that had changed.

Correction.  My perspective has changed.  I am now an official Washingtonian and Spokanite and a card-carrying member of the Spokane Public Library.

Careful folks, I’m armed with books and dangerous.

I have, due to the overwhelmingly enormity of the challenge, given up on the New York/LA Times Best Seller’s lists.  I am exhausted from reading the same formula authors too.  I do love a good book list though, so when I saw “50 Great Books That Will Change Your Life” in Real Simple magazine, I thought this would be a great list to start my personal reading club of one.

Here’s the list:  http://www.realsimple.com/work-life/entertainment/great-books-00100000101474/page15.html 

At first glance, I appreciated the humor, depth and variety of this list.  I was thrilled to check off The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, The Little Engine That Could, Of Mice and Men, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish (I have this one memorized) as books I have read.  Starting at the top, I read and crossed off About Alice, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in recent weeks.

Then the list starts to agitate me. What the heck?  Book #4 on the list, Apartments for the Affluent:  A Historical Survey of Buildings in New York by Andrew Alpern is available on Amazon.com for $179.66 in used condition and for $895.00 in collectible condition.  My local library doesn’t carry this book nor does my prior library in Southern California.  How then, dear Real Simple, am I supposed to read all the books on this list?  Perhaps requiring that the books recommended be available to share with readers should have been considered prior to publication or please pick another book. Going for the obscure book on your list to recommend is a good joke. Thanks for the laugh Alexa Hampton, who recommended this book.  Real Simple provides a link to Amazon.com stating that the used price is $45.  This book must be a hot commodity because the price has gone through the roof since publication!

Thanks for the challenge, Real Simple, I’ll accept it.  I will be in New York City in October and I will make the excursion to the Mid Manhattan Library on 5th Avenue and read this book.  Maybe this is an east coast thing?  I’ll be in Seattle in September, I’ll see if they have the book too.

The online list (link provided above), specifically if you click [print], the list is much more manageable and provides great information.  I will stick with the list and have already requested several of the books from the library.

What are you reading?  Where do you get your book recommendations?  If you could only pick one book to recommend, what would it be?

I am currently reading My Life With Chimpanzees by Jane Goodall.  Spokane Public Schools recommends this book as summer reading for 7th graders, (along with Freak the Mighty, My Side of the Mountain and No More Dead Dogs and others) which is good enough for me.  This year, hardly any of the books I have read rise to the top to really challenges my senses. When all else fails, go for humor, so i recommend A.J. Jacobs’ Drop Dead Healthy (or any of his books) as my favorite.

My next read will be Woody Allen’s Without Feathers, recommended on the Real Simple list by my favorite, A.J. Jacobs.  It’s a give and take world.

Happy Reading!

 

Staycation Part 3 August 27, 2013

Some weeks are just hell to get through, and some are not.

Today is my Friday as I’m vacation for the next 6 days.  This is Staycation Part 3 of Summer 2013.  This Staycation is sure to top the rest with the incredible fun we have planned.

Tomorrow, first thing bright and early, I get to go to Washington’s Department of Motor Vehicles and become an official Washington licensed driver.  Yes, you are supposed to get your new state license after living here for 30 days but I’ve been busy and going to the DMV isn’t my favorite thing to do so it has taken me 60 days.  I’m slightly anxious because there is no appointment scheduling for new licenses.  Moving from California, I am programmed to schedule an appointment as without an appointment you will wait hours to take care of your DMV business.  Hours, as in four plus hours.  No joke.

When we lived in Flagstaff AZ, appointments weren’t available there either.  After only waiting 20 minutes at most, you are issued a 33 year driving license.  Never having to return to the AZ Department of Transportation for 33 years was the absolute best part of living in Arizona.  Ok, maybe there were some other perks, but just thinking about the awesomeness of a 33 year drivers license brings me joy.

I have high hopes for the Spokane Washington Department of Motor Vehicles.  I have noticed retail stores that offer vehicle licensing.  Separating drivers licensing and related issues and vehicle licensing is a stroke of genius.  I’m excited to spend the morning of my first day of my Staycation at the DMV.

Tomorrow afternoon, we will tour the boys’ schools, get their schedules and figure out the lay of the land.  I am giddy with excitement to get on campus, meet the teachers and take the first step toward the new school year.  The boys are nervous and anxious, not wanting summer to end and definitely not wanting to be the new kid. When I asked my oldest what he needed to go back to school, he replied “a friend.”  Since I was referring to school supplies and clothes, my heart flopped to the floor and broke to pieces.  My poor babies!  A friend could be made tomorrow, my fingers are crossed and hopes are high.  School supplies and clothes are purchased so the rest of the day will be spent getting everyone,mainly their dressers and back packs, organized.

That’s just Day 1.  The remaining 5 days of our Staycation is to just enjoy the outdoors as much as possible.  We’re schedule to go boating at least once, hopefully twice.  When at home, the plan is to just get everything done (like laundry) and more organized (namely everything) in preparation for Back-to-School Tuesday.

This is the best weekend of the year.  It is practice weekend.  My county fair baked goods are due next week and I have to practice and perfect my wares.  My recipes are solid, it is just this confounded, awesome yet particular, O’Keefe & Merritt stove that I love but don’t quite yet trust. Temperatures and time need to be tested before I bake my final entries.

Do I really need to take vacation time to do this stuff?  Ab-so-freaking-lutely. My stress levels just dropped an octave and I need time to breathe.  Plus, when the kids go back to school, distractions, fights, cries of starvation will be gone and I will have uninterrupted work time. Novel!   Vacation now is really me just throwing in the towel to bide my time until the kids are in school.  I mean to say that vacation time is time to spend with the kids, cherishing every brawl, hallmarking every backtalk, photographing their lion-like laziness sprawled around the house and mostly to worship them while they play their coveted video games.  If you believe this, you obviously need a vacation more than I.

 

For the Love of Family August 26, 2013

How do I follow-up to yesterday’s drama post? First by thanking all of you that reached out with your kind words to my family and I. Thank you for your love and support.  Before moving forward, I have to correct my errors in Support Me Support Them, of course.

My first correction is that my older sister isn’t 47, she’s only 46.  I will be 45 in September so everyone ages up accordingly on my birthday whether you are ready or not. Seems fair to me.  My sister will turn 47 in November though she sees September 18 as her second birthday.  Everyone wants to be a Virgo.  We’re awesome that’s why.

Second correction is that if I painted a picture of family bliss, forgive me.  Truth be told, my family makes me freaking, in the full f-bomb sense of the word, crazy. You have never seen a more randomly patched together sibling foursome. So much so, I sometimes tell people who know us that I’m adopted, yet not. Refreshingly, we come together for a cause, willing to give all we are able, to help each other in time of need. Get the picture?

A wise person I know says you can never expect world peace because families can not get along. True.  Family feuds didn’t begin nor will they end with me.

My position is that you do not get to choose your family members as you are born into family.  You do, however, get to choose how you spend your time and who you spend your time with as it is your life to live.  This practice typically gets me into trouble or pisses some relative off at any given point though their reaction doesn’t change my belief. 

Differences and feuding aside, I am happy to help my family in their time of great need.

Now that I’ve cleared the air, corrected my errors and came clean with my family life, my day centered on things far more trivial than family coming together over bone marrow transplants.  Two hours of my life were lost on fixing my iphone that started wheezing and losing functionality throughout the day.  TRAGIC!  My phone is my life support  which I rely on heavily. My life, as it functions, stopped.  resuscitation was not possible though Verizon’s help desk or tech support gave two hours of their intense investigation.  Proudly I didn’t lose it on the agent that asked me if I tried the volume buttons to adjust the sound of the ear audio that went out.  Who is this person that doesn’t check the volume buttons?  I am adding them to the list of people I want to meet (see the shell collection person from prior blog post). Kissing the ground thankful that the Extended Warranty covers my phone and a new one arrives tomorrow. Happiness (at least a gigantic sigh of relief) is a new phone. 

Healthcare of the future should include an Extended Warranty (insurance, as you all know, costs a ton of money yet offers no guarantee).  Hello, my liver is shot.  No, no abuse, yes I’m under age 50, may I have another liver? Tried that liver but it didn’t work out for you?  No problem.  Here’s another, just be sure to send in the old one back to us within 5 days.  I think I’m on to something.  Feel free to steal my idea and make extended warranty healthcare happen.  Could you get busy?  September 18 is quickly approaching.

 

Support Me Support Them August 25, 2013

Booming loud thunder.  Lightening flashing in the night sky.  House lights flickering.  Rain pouring down. The air cools and smells fresh and clean. I am in a melancholy mood.

Earlier tonight I spoke with my younger sister who filled me in on the details of her trip to Seattle last week while I was in Orange County, CA on a work trip.  My younger sister lives in Flagstaff, AZ and spent last week in Seattle as she volunteered to have her bone marrow harvested in a few weeks to help our ailing older sister who suffers from rare, complicated diseases, from which she has no hope of recovering. 

Our older sister, at the young age of 47, has been offered a glimmer of hope to renewed health through a bone marrow transplant that is scheduled to occur on September 18 with the University of Washington and the Seattle Cancer Center.  She has been sick, in a sickly sense, for a very long time, more than 15 years at my best recollection.  Though I am the worst to ask what is wrong with her because of the complexity of her illness, I do know that she has an immune deficiency that inhibits her ability to fight disease.  In addition, of the 5 IGG levels we all have (did you know that?), my sister lacks A, E & M. She also has a diseased liver, not liver disease, a diseased liver, that is causing all types of issues. At one point, I learned there were only 6 similar cases on the planet. Her prognosis is bleak.  As is, on the medication she is forced to take in order to maintain her current state, she will develop non-hodgkins lymphoma very soon.  A bone marrow transplant is her only hope.

Last spring, we three siblings, my younger brother and sister and I, were screened as viable candidates for bone marrow transplant.  Siblings, I learned through the process, are the best possible source for match.  Who knew.  I was immediately ruled out within 5 minutes of the initial phone call due to my previous cancer history.  My brother was tested but was not a match.  My younger sister turns out to be a perfect match for which we are all thrilled.

Last week, health screenings and additional tests were completed to further ensure that my sisters are an identical match. 

In three weeks, my younger sister will return to Seattle to undergo harvesting of her bone marrow and my older sister will receive the bone marrow via transfusion later that same day. I will be in Seattle at that time, for three days, to help and keep my mom calm and aid in the care of both of my sisters as they recover.  I will stay with my older sister primarily as her body’s reaction to the foreign bone marrow is of biggest concern.  Her body’s reaction to rejection could simply be nausea or it could kill her.

Yikes.  Heavy stuff.

I need you for support.  Please keep my sisters in your prayers and in your thoughts through the next month.  Though the critical time won’t begin until September 18,  emotions, stress and anxiety are already running high.

Thank you.