Day 28 --Wherefore art thou, Fiammo?

Or, Bad Mommy. You see, while nursing a martini tonight to dull the pain and anxiety of the possibly protracted unpleasantness we may soon endure, and that I cannot write about, I inadvertently ignored the fact that half our doors and windows are propped open due to the repainting of the outside of our house now suffocating all of us with oil-based fumes. And the cat, the joy of our family, seized the opportunity for adventure (poor thing, he's been trying for months and months.)

Breaking news....he's back. Crisis averted, at least for now. I am off to read Katherine White, on gardening in New England.


Day 27 -- Dear G*d, the end is nigh

Even not blogging every day, this blogging every day is killing me. Everything I want to say has already been said.

Have I mentioned, however, that I get to take a flight, by myself, on Wednesday night? And spend the following day more or less by myself? I love my family, but to be alone? Oh bliss.

Do you think that's odd?


Day 25 -- Beaten by a smokin' turkey

Best intentions aside, the last two days have kicked my not-insubstantial behind. Two days in a row, we've had large family gatherings at our house, first my husband's family on his mom's side, and last night, his family on his step mother's side. Never the twain shall meet (hey, it's only been 38 years since his mom and dad divorced, and his dad is dead, but why let a little time, distance or death stand in the way of dislike, disdain or dysfunction?) Actually, the most ironic thing is that his stepmother no longer speaks to most of the family members who joined us last night (I believe her youngest brother is still in her good graces, but none of her other siblings, their children, etc.) so probably, my mother in law's sisters, who celebrated the actual holiday with us on Thursday, would have been just fine. In any case, for us this year, Thanksgiving was the holiday so nice we ate it twice, and I, unlike my turkey(s), am fried.

Since I never got around to posting the menu, you can view it here; it's essentially the same, though since I didn't make roast turkey this year, and my aunt-in-law was bringing a (delicious) mushroom bread pudding, I bailed on making stuffing. I always insist that stuffing is my favorite part of the Thanksgiving carb & tryptophan orgy, but I didn't miss it. It's an awful lot of work (all prep, but still) so it may disappear for a while. I also added the miraculous no-knead bread, which is like kitchen alchemy. My sister-in-law pronounced it as good as the bread in Italy, and she should know, as she's there for work all the time. The H's uncle made fun of me until he tried it, and shockingly, his wife emailed for the recipe first thing Friday morning. So do yourself and your loved ones a favor, and make it. It's ungodly good, and so easy as to be embarrassing.

Thanks to all the partying, my house is full of half eaten pies and dirty champagne glasses, and I feel like I may never get all the cleaning up done...but it was worth it. Dido loved re-meeting his five year old cousin (they met when they were three, but didn't remember) and the Babe was entranced with her fifteen year old cousin, who gamely toted her around all evening long. The H has been semi-estranged from this step family, who were a hugely important part of his childhood, for nearly a decade now, so the reconnect, especially as we contemplate leaving town, was both joyful and poignant. Hopefully, the doors will stay open for years to come, and maybe, someday, even his step mother will be able to join in the festivities.


Day 23 -- Oops. So much for that menu

I got so consumed last night with the pureeing and the mixing and the steeping and the stirring that I fell into bed without so much as a flicker of a NaBloPoMo thought.

I'll write about the food another time; it was good, not my best, but good. But the day was one of the lesser Thanksgivings in my life, with lots of anxiety, mine and others', and a wee bit of drama I could have easily lived without. By the end, my feet hurt, my eyes were tired, and I just wanted to lay on the couch and cover my face with my hands. But baby girl was having none of it, and she crawled right up on top of me, her face still smeared with chocolate from the chocolate pecan pie.

"More pie?" she asked brightly. It wasn't so bad after all.


Day 21 -- I almost forgot

Curse wicked Mrs. K and her nefarious NaBloPoMo. I must interrupt my internet Christmas shopping for my short people to say...nothing. At the end of a shockingly productive day, I have nothing for you, oh people of the 'sphere. Tomorrow, I will put up my Thanksgiving menu, which promises to be delectable. In the meantime, enjoy the picture of Dido at his first ever horseback riding lesson, aboard the lovely Caspian horse Jafar, and g'nite.


Day 20 -- The work of being

My shrink told me today that I resist "doing the work" (her words) and "the process" of my analysis because I want her to play the role of my mother and provide me with all the answers. (My mother has an annoying habit which I have inherited: she has a compulsion to have the last, and definitive, word. If she doesn't know something, it cannot be true. This ranges from secrets of the universe to whether or not cabs in Los Angeles accept credit cards for payment. I'm serious.)

After I got over a great deal of annoyed harrumphing (and I still am kind of annoyed, but that's another subject) I got to thinking about what she might really mean. Is it the hallmark of maturity? wholeness? good sense? to realize that the only way to answer questions in your life is to find the answers yourself, rather than asking someone else to offer advice? Or is that a load of bunk designed to keep me in her very expensive clutches?

On some level, I think to know one's own mind is a sign of being a fully realized (eek, that sounds so ridiculous new agey) person. On the other hand--is it wrong to ask for answers from others? Is it wrong to ask how to handle a situation in your life? You have to go on living in the real world, not isolated inside your own thoughts and feelings. This whole line of thought, quite frankly, used to give me a headache. Now, I'm not sure. I'm not sure she's wrong, exactly, but nor am I sure that she's not full of it.


Day 19 - Perfect weekend

It has been a long, long time since I've felt, on a Sunday night, that I had a perfect weekend. Yesterday, I took the kids all morning so the H could continue to plug away at the never ending script. Someday, it will be finished, and we will all rejoice. In the meantime, I took Dido and the Babe to his last soccer game of the season (8:30 a.m., thank you very much) and then the three of us went to the Elves' Faire (yes, you read that right) an annual fundraiser for a local Waldorf school. I had never been before, and didn't know really what to expect, but wanted to go because a) other parents (not parents at the school) had told me how fun it was and b) I was doing reconnaissance to see just how far down the Scientology cultometer scale the place felt to me, since one of our private school options in our new home town will be a Waldorf school. I didn't gather much intelligence, since the one person I grilled was someone I already know a bit, and who seems entirely normal and thoughtful and seems to parent in a slightly more progressive but ultimately kind of similar way to me. (Or maybe, I did gather intelligence, and that's what it is.) Dido liked it because in one of the areas set up around the (beautiful) campus was an enormous assortment of wooden toy weapons (shields, swords, daggers, slingshots and the like--no guns) for sale. Weapons? He's in. Ah. As I told the H when we got home, apparently Waldorf (which has a pretty strict ban on TV and other electronic media) is a-okay with weaponry as long as it's wood, not plastic. Anyway...afterwards, we hit the Pie N Burger (a must-visit if you're ever in Pasadena; it's divine) for lunch, and then headed home for a brief rest before going en famille to our horseback riding lessons (again, getting ready for the big adventure.) Nothing could have been sweeter than the sight of my big boy sitting tall on a beautiful (albeit tiny) horse. We all (except the Babe, who watched) rode, groomed the horses, had a ball. We hit one of our favorite Mexican places for an early family dinner and then came home to get ready for the party-that-stole-my-ability-to-post (see yesterday's entry.)

Today--morning with the kids, at the Hollywood Farmers' Market, then visiting dear friends, then a birthday party, and then home to clean up and go to bed. I'm not sure whether it was the weekend that was so great or the lifting of the cloud over my head, but either way, I'm counting my blessings.

And I know, no one cares what I had for lunch or the minutiae of my family weekend events...but I want to remember, so here it is.


Day 18 -- Haiku

Birthday party for
Hilary by Jonathan
Champagne, and good night.


Day 17 -- Saved by insomnia and delusions of grandeur

I was lying in bed just now, trying to sleep, when it occurred to me (and feel free to ridicule me for the arrogance implicit in this train of thought) that I will leave California, and my experience here and look back on it from another life in New York, and it will be part of a personal history...and I won't have done nearly as much with it as, say, Joan Didion. Well, duh. The only good thing about that no-win sequence of scintillating nonsense is that it made me remember that, contrary to my NaBloPoMo commitment, I had failed to post today. So here I am.

I said to the H the other day that when I moved to California over fifteen years ago (it was Friday, September 13 , 1991) I never thought I'd stay here forever. And in some version of the truth, that's accurate. When I came here, to go to graduate school and pursue a now-abandoned (or at least interrupted) career, I promised myself I'd stick for five years. I had moved around a lot, both as a kid and as an adult, and I feared that my answer to malaise was simply to pack my boxes and call UPS (which, in fact, was how I often moved in those days. Not so cost effective, but hey, if most of what you own is books and kitchen paraphenalia, it can work.) But I'm not sure I thought I wouldn't stay here, either. I'm not sure I had any real ability to imagine much of a future then, and I fear that whatever imagining I did was so fantastic that even I knew, somehow, that it was unlikely to transpire.

Now I find myself on the brink of the biggest move (geographically, physically speaking, anyway) I've made in many years, and I don't have much of a fantasy about it at all. Granted, the whole thing derives from a sort of fantasy, but it's an idealizing, and opposed to a conjuring up from smoke and spells. I don't see myself becoming something new in a new place; I just see the place. I suppose I am waiting to see what I look like, once my piece of the puzzle is fitted in.


Day 16 --And so it goes

I think blogging malaise may have, indeed, set in. Contemplate this, which I began as a late afternoon project today with the short people. If mine look as pretty as the Wednesday Chef's, maybe I'll post pictures, too.



Day 15 -- Back to the world of the eating

Life, at least digestively, is returning to normal here Chez O, which is relief to us all. To celebrate, I decided to cook a proper meal for the first time in almost a week, but the pickings in the pantry and refrigerator were slim. This is what I came up with, adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe, with inspiration from one by Mark Bittman (sorry, Louisa, if you're reading this, but I like him) and a couple of touches all mine. The H pronounced it delicious, about sixteen times, but that might just be because he's been eating take out for too long.

Penne with Swiss Chard and Walnuts

1 lb. dried penne
3-4 T EV olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 yellow onion (medium), cut in half and thinly sliced
2 bunches swiss chard (I used one each red and gold), ends trimmed, leaves cut from stems and sliced crosswise into 1/2 inch wide ribbons; stems chopped into 1/2 inch long pieces.
1/3 c. dry white wine (I am sad to say I used Cinzano vermouth, because nothing else was open)
1 t Maldon salt
1/2 t dried hot pepper flakes
1/4 t lemon oil
1/2 c walnuts, coarsely chopped and toasted in a saucepan over medium-high heat until fragrant--maybe five minutes?
3/4 c panko bread crumbs
freshly grated parmesan
high quality EV olive oil

Cook the pasta according to package directions, but be prepared to undercook it slightly--no more than two minutes under the recommended time (it will finish cooking in the sauce.)

While the pasta is cooking, heat 1-2 T olive oil in a small saute pan. When it's hot but not smoking, add the panko and stir to brown over medium high heat. You want the crumbs toasted to a nice brown, and if the oil's hot, it happens fast, so watch them and stir frequently. Remove from heat and keep them in reserve.

Heat another 2 T olive oil in a large dutch oven for a minute or two. Add the garlic and onion, and saute over medium-high heat (you want it sizzling but not browning) until the onion begins to go clear. Add the swiss chard, the salt, the dried peppers, the lemon oil and the white wine, and cook until the chard gets tender, around five more minutes.

By this point, your pasta is likely done. If not, pull the chard off the heat and wait for the pasta. If the pasta finished early, you can just leave it in the colander--don't overcook it because the chard's not ready, but reserve a cup or so of the cooking water. When the chard is tender and the pasta is just undercooked, put the chard mixture back onto medium heat and add the pasta along with a half cup or so of pasta cooking water--enough so there's liquid in the pan to help form a sauce--just enough to make everything moist, but not soupy.

Cook together for 2-3 more minutes until the chard is tender but still bright and the pasta is heated through. Toss gently with the walnuts and breadcrumbs. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese and a drizzle of best quality olive oil.

I served a salad of radishes, cut into batons and dressed with lemon juice, aforementioned extremely good olive oil, a grind of grains de paradis and a sprinkle of fleur de sel. Pretentious, but yummy.

This was a fast, super elegant dinner. You could add some bacon with no doubt sensational result--you could cook it first, after the walnuts and before the panko, or cheat, and do it in the microwave, like Hugh over at GastroKid taught me (how did I not know this trick before? How?) And a word about the lemon oil--this stuff is your best friend. It saves having to grate lemon zest (a task I loathe beyond any common sense) and makes things taste better, and special. It's the secret ingredient in my vinaigrette, which drives people to distraction (both my mother and mother in law ask me to make them jars of it, and trust me, every other ingredient is cheapo from Trader Joe's. It's the lemon oil. Do yourself a favor.)

Day 14 -- Almost halfway home, baby

Taking a cue from the iniminitable (and despicable) Mrs. K., herewith my list of things I haven't blogged about, but might:

1. Purchasing my first copy of The Joy of Cooking, after reading this article in the NYT. I had heard rumblings about the controversy surrounding the last edition of the iconic cookbook, but this article sent me off to Amazon to buy used copies of both the 1997 and 1975 editions. I'm going to skip the new one for now. The blog, were I to write it, though, would really be about my mom, the cookbooks she relied upon, and why Joy was never one of them...

2. Au Revoire, Tristesse. We're going to leave it at that. This is a personal issue that I may or may not decide to blog about, though heaven knows, there's plenty of precedent in the 'sphere for me to blow the lid right off whatever privacy I may still have. How's that for ridiculously cryptic? I am having neither plastic surgery nor an affair, nor, sadly, getting rid of my minivan, so quell your speculation.

3. Why am I moving? Several people have asked me this question of late, and I'm not sure my answers are good enough; or, maybe, they don't have to be. Because I can? Because at 40, I need to shake up my life a bit? Because at 40, though I am quite sure Wolfe was write that one cannot, precisely, go home again, I do now have the confidence to know that you can return to a new version of an old experience--it will not be the same as the nostalgia, but it will not evaporate upon my leaving. (Maybe I'm moving to get rid of the damn minivan. Station wagon, oh station wagon, I am coming home to you...)

4. Vomit. Oh, right. I've already written about that. A lot. The H has informed me that I have been WAY.TOO.GRAPHIC. about the state of my GI tract in my conversational, often hourly, updates to him, so I can only assume that my lovely readers feel the same way. And I'll spare you one of the most embarassing moments of my life, which happened very recently, and which he got to share with me. Marriage is bliss.

5. Politics. Where now? The really bad bums are being thrown out, some of them anyway (Buh-bye, Rick Santorum, you evil f*ck.) But now what?

That's enough. More tomorrow. To all, a good night.


Day 13--Is this lucky?

So, this is what it comes down to. Half-n*ked children crawling around on the sofa, watching Kimba, while I try out the unfortunate-looking Yogatoes thoughtfully purchased for me by my mom during her recent convalescence chez moi. When you don't have food to keep you occupied, you resort to other, less sybaritic measures (though, I must say, these freaky things actually feel pretty good, like the bottoms of my feet and all my toes are getting a nice stretch. )(And yes, I know the Babe is too young to be watching television. In my defense I say three things: 1. I am sick as a dog. 2. She has an older brother. 3. We don't have cable, and they only watch carefully selected DVDs, sans commercials. So save your snide comments, if you have any. This is a considered, if still ill-advised choice.)

Today I got dinged from a job, heard some bad news that may someday mean our being embroiled in a protracted unpleasantness, barfed some more (ok, to be fair, that was at three o'clock this morning, but it counts) --and then found out that, indeed, the sellers of the fair farm have signed our purchase agreement. Dear G-d I don't really believe in! What have we done?


Day 12 -- If I had more energy, this might be a rant

But lucky for you, I don't. Lifting piles of laundry is an activity that today is making me feel completely exhausted. Folding the duvet cover--I had to sit down when I finished. Thank you, foul flu.

But the rant is not about laundry (though it well could be, as piles of it--clean, thankfully, though since the cat's climbing all over them, that definition is certainly questionable) but rather about small, often plastic, toy or toy-like objects that enter my house once or twice a month, usually in colorful plastic or paper bags. If you're stuck on the birthday party circuit, you know them already--party favors. When did it become an absolute necessity to send every party guest home with a bag full of crap that will end up broken in bits all over their house, cluttering up those drawers into which the things with no homes are placed? I hate party favors. There, I've said it.


Day 11-- More Vomit

This time, it's mine. Apparently, exploiting your imperturbable reaction to being vomited upon by your child angers the stomach virus gods. They're here with me now, laughing as I groan and run back and forth to the bathroom. Or maybe they're cackling at the H, who had to handle the kids solo from 1:00 today (though I did manage to pull it together long enough to give the Babe her bath, but trying to put her to bed, I got lightheaded and had to run--more like stumble--back to my cave.


Day 10 -- the end of the chicken story, and vomit, too!

...please read the prior posts re: chickens for the beginning of this tale...

So there Dido was, edged up to the chicken coop, a fenced in area at the end of the stables nee dairy barn at the house that may someday be our home. The chickens were scratching and running and making a noise that was neither cluck nor crow, when the boy cried out "OWWWW." For those who do not know Dido, he is, shall we say, dramatic. Inclined to the big gesture, even if the small onew would do. For those who do not know the H, you cannot, perhaps, imagine where Dido's flair for the hyperbolic arises. The rest of you no doubt saw it coming. In any case, I tend to treat yelps from my son with a calm that borders on deafness. They are frequent, and frequently come to nothing. "Mommy! I'm hurt!!!!" "Really? Did you poke yourself?" He was just at the edge of the fence--I didn't see any sharp barbs, but, entranced by the chickens myself, I hadn't been paying much attention. "No--my whole body is owie. MY WHOLE BODY." The H, bless him, said "Oh my God. He's electrocuted himself. Look at the fence." Electric. Electric fences keep out foxes, and coyotes, enemies of the lovely chickens. Ah. I have a lot to learn about country life.

But I know a lot about the instantaneous changes wrought by parenting. To whit: last night, the H and I had an honest to goodness date: "Borat" (funny, but not the second coming, for heaven's sake) and dinner at a neighborhood restaurant I'm reviewing as a trial for a website that might hire me as a writer (more on that if I get the gig and am freed of my informal non-disclosure agreement.) When we got home and sent our lovely sitter packing, I went up to the Babe's room to make sure she was comfortable; the temperature in her room is nearly always too something. She's a light sleeper, and when I went in, she said, so clearly, "Mom? Mom?" Sometimes I ignore her at night, but she was plaintive, and I couldn't resist. She was already standing in the crib when I got to her, and she was wet. Wet and....chunky. Oooh. She'd vomited, all over herself, the bed, even onto the floor. It was cold, and she wasn't crying, didn't really appear too upset. I cleaned her up, changed the crib sheet, laid down some towels, but there was no way she was going back to sleep anywhere that wasn't on top of me. So we ended up curled up together on the twin bed in her room. And so we spent the rest of the night, covered in bath towels, her puking every hour or so, generally all over us both, so we'd repeat the clean up cycle. Only mother love could make this experience well,not ok, exactly, but not nearly as horrifying as if the offending vomiter had been anyone else.

See--I don't always write about food, Miss Mieke. Take that. And so to bed.

Day 9 -- oh bite me

I meant to blog last night. I did. And then...I was tired. I have a huge project, an unpleasant one, that I've been half avoiding, half baby-stepping through, and it distracted me--not because I was completing it, rather because the thought of it made me so tired that I simply turned off my nearly-out-of-power laptop and scuttled off to bed to watch an episode of "The Office." Oh well. I'm not disappointed at not being eligible for one of Mrs. K's prizes as much as I am dismayed that I couldn't keep it together to do something for 30 days straight. Lack of consistency--or perhaps, constancy--is a theme in my life, and one I (clearly) don't know how to rectify.

This morning, I thought we were going to get the New York house. Problems were being miraculously solved, pieces seemed to be assembling themselves in the puzzle--and as of tonight, it may all have fallen apart. Buying property is a roller coaster ride. I'm sad, but sanguine. Even if we don't get the dreamy farm, I'm pretty certain we're still going to attempt to move. And experiences suggests that something better may be out there. Or, at least, that we'll end up where we're meant to be. More tomorrow, and meanwhile, off to bed.


Day 7 -- We bought the farm

Or, at least, we're getting closer, having agreed on a price, a length of escrow, when we'll sign the contract (when we go back for a final visit early next month) and so on. This is an extraordinary turn of events. And if I weren't so tired, I'd blog about it. In the meantime, I leave you with this happy thought: Speaker Pelosi. Chairman Conyers (Ways and Means. ) Ahhhh.


Day 6--It seemed like a good idea at the time

We break from our regularly scheduled chicken story to whine, just for a moment. Have I mentioned that I have committed to blogging every day? I have never blogged every day, since starting this silly blog of mine. In fact, six days in a row, where I now find myself, might be my longest run ever.

Today has been the ultimate housewife forced march, from sewer clean out to laundry to carpool and back again. I am tired, and still have a mother and a husband wanting my attention, not to mention the pile of records to be sorted for taxes, due imminently. All this by way of saying--no time to say much.

A demain.


Day 5 -- My son loves chickens

(continued from Day 4--read that first, unless you like your stories beginning in media res)
Dido ran to the edge of the pond (the upper pond, not to be confused with the lower pond) and stopped short. "THERE'S A POND HERE!". Yes, indeedy. And two barns, and, we later discovered, a creek, and a pretty farmhouse with beautiful views and cozy corners.

But as we walked down the property to explore the old barn, converted from a working dairy barn to a stable, Dido ran ahead, and exploded in joy yet again. "CHICKENS! CHICKENS!" A dozen or so, roosters, too. And he was transfixed.

to be continued...


Day 4 -- Leaving La La?

Since the H and I got together eleven years ago, we've talked, with ever-shifting levels of seriousness, about leaving Los Angeles. When we met, I was only four years into my vow of five years' residence here: I had moved around a lot before landing in California, as a child with my parents and then as an adult on my own, and I wanted to see if I could stand still for a while. Fifteen years later, I am entrenched, surrounded by a truly irreplaceable community of friends, a neighborhood that feels like one, even in this mammoth sprawl of a city, a network of resources like the ever-more-prominent veins in the back of my hand. But...since having our kids, the idea of leaving this city seems more enticing. As good as we have it here, and it is good, we worry about living in a city (ok, this is true of the whole country, I know, but it's awfully glaring here) with an evaporating middle class, where status is often though more highly of than substance, where running more than a few yards outside requires a long walk on sidewalk-less streets or a trip in the car.

We've turned over and over in our minds the dilemma of where to go. New York City we love, but as a place to visit, not a place to live with two small kids. San Francisco, same deal, plus a real estate market that, like ours here, is bloated to the point of insanity. Portland? Austin? Seattle? All are too unknown, and we're not so good with the unknown, the H and I. One place I've fantasized about is upstate New York. We were introduced to the area through dear friends who live in Manhattan but weekend not far from Hudson, and over time, we've made other friends there through them, and been seduced by the area's many charms. Spectacular countryside. Open land. No big box stores. No billboards. Lots of artists and writers living among farmers old and new.

We went back for a visit last month, and, somewhat on a lark, somewhat with a purpose neither of us wanted to fully acknowledge or discuss, we looked at houses with a realtor friend. At the first place we stopped, Dido threw open the car door, propelled himself out and took off running. And we didn't have to stop him. We didn't have to warn him about a street, a stranger, going out of view. The H and I looked at each other, and then moved inside to look at the house.

...to be continued


Best. Cheese. Ever--Day 3

A few years ago, the H and I started subscribing to a funny little newsletter written by David Rosengarten, he of Food Network and cookbook fame. He's a good writer, opinionated beyond belief, and like us, appreciates decadence in moderation. Cocktails? Check. Animal products? Double check. Arcane ethnic cuisines from low to high? Triple check. So when he started offering a "cheese of the month" type subscription, we were giddy. It's stupidly expensive, but his picks are often divine, the tasting notes are obsessive and funny, and hey, we love cheese, so a package of it showing up on our doorstep every few weeks is as close to a miracle as we get. This month's package didn't really get me swooning, though it included a lovely aged crottin and a delicious, stinky Pont L'Eveque. But I discovered, just now, that one of the cheeses had gotten buried in the back of the refrigerator drawer, and had gone untasted. That cheese, bianco sardo di moliterno, a sheep cheese from Puglia, may just have redefined hard cheese for me.

I ate it for lunch, just now, with leftovers from the other night. This recipe is adapted from one created by Giada deLaurentiis. Fragrant herbed vegetables (served at room temperature, not reheated--no need) with slices of this cheese? A divine lunch that would only have been better with a glass of crispy, cold, flinty white wine. Ah...

Roasted Fall Vegetables

2 bulbs fennel, sliced into 3/8" wide pieces
1 pound dutch gold potatoes (the little ones), cut in half the long way
2 cups baby carrots (the cheating kind they sell at the supermarket--no peeling or chopping involved)
1 cup brussel sprouts, halved
4 T olive oil, give or take
2 T Maldon salt
1 t freshly ground pepper
1 T dried oregano
1 T dried rosemary
1 t dried basil
1 t dried thyme
1/4 t fennel seed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a shallow roasting pan, combine the vegetables, sprinkle the oil and all seasonings over, and toss to coat evenly.

Roast in the middle of the oven for 35-45 minutes, until the vegetables are just tender.

I served this for dinner on Tuesday with grilled chicken & turkey herb/garlic sausages (Gerhard's brand) from Trader Joe's. Delicious, and Dido ate some sausage and even a carrot (one of the two approved vegetables, further to yesterday's post.)


Day 2--Turkey Chili

Did I mention, posting every day? I believe I did. Let's not call that whining, shall we?

I used to get lots of grief from one of my (few) regular readers when I posted recipes. Just because my darling Mieke doesn't much like to cook, and I'm totally obsessive about it, is no reason to get all snarky about the validity of cooking discussion as blog content. Then again, I'm biased: I happen to be nearly as obsessed with cooking blogs as with cooking itself.

Though no one cares what I ate for lunch, parents might care about what my five year old ate for dinner. Parents, as Hugh over at GastroKid will tell you, especially those of us who are foodie-inclined, despair over the narrow palates of our offspring. Pizza, mac 'n cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches and the occasional carrot stick, broccoli "tree" or piece of fruit do not a gourmand make. (OK, it's arguably better than the "typical" American high fructose corn syrup/trans fat laden diet, but not by much.) My kids are not adventurous eaters, though in their defense, they love Thai (chicken sate, pad see ew, and steamed rice) and can be lured into Armenian (pita bread, kebab, borek.)

So tonight, I fed the kids organic Trader Joe's pizza margherita and apple slices, while I adapted this for the taller people. I served it with basmati rice cooked in plain, salted water in the rice cooker, sour cream, sharp cheddar cheese, chopped red onion and a little hot sauce. The chili was spicy, with a depth of flavor surprising given its low fat content and lack of beef, but not hot. ("Spicy" doesn't mean fiery. In the best of all possible worlds, it means complex.)

Apparently, it looked good as the adults (me, the H, my mom) devoured it, because lo and behold, Dido was distracted from flying his spaceship around the kitchen and asked to taste his dad's. (I think it was the sour cream that got him. He's obsessed with sour cream, unless it's on top of a baked potato, which is, to him, grosser than eating--oh, peas, which make him gag and puke. Really.) After rolling a small bite around in his mouth for a moment, he asked for, and ate a fair bit of, his own bowl. Score one for the chef.

Turkey chili (adapted from Bon Appetit's Turkey Chili with White Beans)

3 T olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 small red onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 small zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 - 1/4 lbs. ground turkey
1-1/2 t. ground cumin
1-1/2 t. dried oregano
1/4 c. chili powder
1 T. unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Scharffenberger)
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1-1/2 t. coarse sea salt (I nearly always use Maldon)
2 bay leaves
1 28 oz. can chopped tomatoes
8 oz. tomato sauce (I shamefully confess that I used a cup of TJ's jarred organic marinara that was already open in the fridge)
3 cups chicken stock (um, yeah, Imagine, from a box)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed

For garnish:
1/2 a red onion, chopped finely
1/2 cup chopped or grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream

Some finely chopped cilantro and a sliced avocado would have been lovely additions to the garnishes.

Heat the oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat and add the onions. Saute until they begin to go clear, and add the garlic and the zucchini. Cook over medium high heat until some of the liquid from the veggies begins to evaporate, and add the cumin and the oregano. Stir to combine. Add the turkey and cook until it's no longer pink, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon. Add the chili powder, cocoa, cinnamon, bay leaves and salt, and stir to combine. Cook for three or four minutes to allow the flavors to intensify. Add the tomatoes, broth and tomato sauce and bring to a brisk simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary to keep the simmer (but not a boil) and stir occasionally. The sauce should thicken. Add the beans, and cook for another ten minutes or so. Remove the bay leaves, and serve over rice and with the garnishes. Serves at least six.


Day 1

Since I haven't posted since Sept. 11 (though I found, when I logged on, that I had started and then abandoned a post on Sept. 27) the idea that I will post every.single.day. in November is, let's just say--preposterous.

But, try I will.

Because I have Eden and Yoda to inspire me, not to mention Luisa, and the hundreds of other lunatics who've suckered up to this challenge.

And because I, at this particular moment in my particular cosmos, have LOTS to talk about. The theme for this 40th year of existence, at least its second half, seems to be "rock my world." Because that's what I'm in the process of doing, as I contemplate leaving L.A., my home of the last fifteen years, and the only home the Husband has ever known, for a farm in upstate NY. Okay, not a working farm, a hobby farm, as the real farmers call it. But it's got chickens, and room for horses, and room for small children to run until their legs turn to spaghetti underneath them.

More on this turn of events...tomorrow.