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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Wow, they were thorough.

Whoever they were, who signed me up for all the magazine subscriptions. This week I've gotten bills and/or actual magazines for Seventeen, Martha Stewart Living, Traditional Home and Decorating (actually didn't get a bill or issue for that last one--but it's the same people as TradHome, so I found out about it when I went to cancel). What's that make? Eleven?


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tee hee.

I'm tempted to do a little "unlikely guest" thing a la MWR for this, but someone in Jerusalem visited my site after it turned up in a Google search for "dill herb erection." I kid you not.


My neighbor called me last week and asked me if I wanted a box of pears. Sure! So, to take care of my free pears, I ended up buying two dozen pint jars and a $70 pressure canner (the cheapie hot water bath canners all said "do not use on glass cooktops"--can you tell I'm getting gladder and gladder I opted to put off the gas range upgrade?!?!). Then, last night I had my first solo canning experience: two dozen pints of Bartlett pears. And guess what? They all sealed! Now we have to clean the basement so we have a place to put them. You'll have to wait until we can't get good fresh pears any more to hear how they turned out.


End-of-Summer Birthday

Number One Son is now seven! Hard to believe. This summer of house projects while pregnant has taken me right back to a similar summer, with even bigger projects and bigger tummy, before we were parents. Parenting any kid has its ups and downs, but overall Number One is a delight, and we love being his mom and dad.

As per the tradition in my family, Number One got to pick the menu for his birthday dinner, which included J&J and fam and happened on Saturday instead of on the actual birthday day. We had mac and cheese with ham and peas (I made a huge, two-pounds-of-pasta batch, using shallot and a touch of dijon mustard in the white sauce), corn on the cob (just about the best I've had this summer--hooray for Winters Farms!), steamed broccoli and cauliflower, and a fruit salad of: apples, pears and peaches, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and bananas. For dessert there were chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting--a big one for the birthday boy and mini ones for everyone else.

He got some nice presents (only a couple of which are pictured), and had a good time hanging out with his cousins (as did Number Two).

Isn't he a handsome fella?

J and cousin A:

Number Two in a rather typical pose (darn that second set of molars--I wish they'd just come in already!):

A rare side view of me--can you believe I'm already this big with 7.5 weeks still to go? Oof. I promise I'll take at least one more profile before the end, so you can all see the glory of my hugeness.

On the actual birthday day, we told Number One we could go to any restaurant he chose, and we were surprised when he said, "Wendy's." He wouldn't tell us why he picked it, but we found out when we got there and he placed his order: a Baconator (two patties, three pieces of cheese and six pieces of bacon) and a Frosty with M&Ms mixed in. I guess he'd seen it on a commercial and had wanted to try it. The most amazing thing? He ate the whole burger, and about half the 12-oz Frosty, and seemed to suffer no ill effects afterward (I had terrible visions of a Supersize Me blowout in the parking lot). Too bad none of the places I would have preferred to Wendy's run ads on ESPN!


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Sunday Mixed Bag

Sunday was a mixed bag at church. About a million people asked me my due date (I think they were expecting it to be much sooner than mid-October, since I'm really sticking out there), quite a few people complimented me on my dress, I had some good chats with people during the SS hour, and endured one truly cringe-worthy comment in RS.

Here's the dress, which I made with fabric purchased at Bolt a few months back. The pattern, Simplicity 3888, is a maternity pattern, but very similar non-maternity versions are available. I shortened the sleeves about two inches (thank goodness--they would have been too long if I hadn't) to make the pattern fit better on the fabric so I could add about 7 inches in length. Then I also added the contrast border around the hem (thank heavens the fabric store still had that fabric when I realized, upon laying it all out, that I would want to add length). The shoes, by Van Eli, came from the Nordstrom Rack.

During SS I chatted with Skye, who was scheduled to present at Sunstone but stayed home because her husband was starting chemotherapy (get better soon, Jared!). She wanted me to tell her that Sunstone had been boring and uninteresting, but I was unable to fib.

Then there was RS. The lesson was about "the false idols we worship." I tuned in and out, as per usual, so I'm not exactly sure why the comment was even relevant to the topic, but the very sweet, very young and very Utah woman said something to the effect of "One of my friends' families had a saying that 'When the prophet speaks, the debate is over,' and I just think that's a really great way to live your life." The teacher, typical for RS lessons, agreed, thanked her, and moved on. It about killed me, but I kept my mouth shut. 1) Since I hadn't been paying enough attention to figure out how her comment related to the topic, I couldn't figure out how to address the issue without seriously derailing the lesson; and 2) since she's new to the ward (doesn't know me) and has led a very sheltered life thus far, I couldn't figure out how to say something without scaring her to death, making her feel like her new ward is full of bitter angry apostates.

You can probably guess that I think the whole the-prophet's-every-utterance-should-close-all-debate-on-the-topic idea is evil and pernicious, but let me tell you why. My understanding (possibly colored by too much early exposure to My Turn on Earth) of Mormon theology is that in the Great Council in Heaven, we chose to follow God's plan for our earthly existence, and would need to make our own choices about just about everything, entailing both greater risk (possibly making bad choices that would lead us away from God) and greater reward (increased light and knowledge and better preparation for post-earthly existence). Satan's plan, which we voted by supermajority to reject, entailed an absence of freedom of choice, guaranteed return, but no personal growth. The thing is, although we voted down Satan's plan, it's still a very basic human urge to want to avoid making responsibility for our own decisions, to want more rules so we have fewer choices to make. That's what's kept this idea alive.

But what I really want to know is, where did it come from? Who said it the first time? Do they keep saying it, or has it been left to persist under its own steam? Anyone know?

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I just had the yummiest lunch. Stale-ish artisan baguette (kept in plastic bag for the last few days so it's not completely dry and hard), thinly sliced on the diagonal and toasted. Spread with homemade hummus, then topped with thinly sliced cucumber (from my parents' garden) and thickly sliced Brandywine tomato (from my own garden), and a little salt. Number Two even had a couple of bites. He liked it well enough to ask for another bite after the first one, but not enough to clamor for the whole thing (as he is sometimes wont to do, when he likes what I'm eating better than what he's been served).

No big secrets to making homemade hummus. I just get this stuff and follow the recipe on the side of the package (using homemade chicken stock, of course).

Happy tummy.


Friday, August 17, 2007

Zucchini-Corn Pancakes

No more magazine invoices in the mail today, though I did get my second issue of CosmoGirl! (which helpfully had a 1-800 customer service number at the end of the masthead). Yesterday's invoice for Cuisine at Home brought the total thus far to seven.

Made the zucchini-corn pancakes for dinner last night with sauteed chicken breasts, and I ended up craving some kind of sauce or relish to go on them. If dinner hadn't already been so late, I might have thrown together something fresh with tomato and basil, but as it was I just cracked a jar of my mom's chili sauce out of the fridge.

I had some proportioning difficulty with the recipe as I got it, because no approximate measurements were given for the zucchini and corn. So I've added those. My pancakes weren't as great as they might have been because of this--I started out with one recipe, then ended up doubling the liquid and the flour, but not the baking powder (I didn't think of it until I'd added the flour, and then didn't want to mix it in on its own), scallions (didn't have any more) or cheese (in too much of a rush to get a late dinner on the table to grate more).

Zucchini-Corn Pancakes

2 ears corn kernels (about 1 C--fresh is MUCH preferable to frozen)
2 medium zucchini, grated on large holes, salted and squeezed (about 1 C after you're done)
1/2 C milk
1 egg, lightly beaten and mixed with milk
1/2 C chopped onion or 1/4 C chopped scallions

1 C flour
1/2 t salt (I skipped this because of the zucchini salt, and didn't miss it)
1 t baking powder
1 C grated sharp cheddar (I used medium which would have been fine if there'd been enough of it)

Grate zucchini on large holes or box grater or in Cuisinart (much faster!). Stir in 1 t kosher salt, then put in a small-holed colander or strainer over bowl and let sit for 30 minutes. Wrap in a double layer of paper towels and squeeze out as much water as you can (it's an amazingly large amount!).

Whisk dry ingredients together, then quickly stir in wet ingredients, and fold in zucchini, corn, onion/scallion and cheese. Fry in a nonstick skillet with a little butter over medium heat, keeping them in a warm oven until ready to serve.

Interestingly, today's Cook's Illustrated e-newsletter had a recipe for Zucchini Fritters. If you try them, let me know how they turn out.

And here we go: Number Two in full-on "NOOOOOOOOOOO!" mode:

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

. . . And We're Back

I came home to find this in my garden:

I had hoped my gardener would pick stuff when she came by to water, but I guess she was being polite. So I have a couple of zeppelins to get rid of. Think I'll have to follow Adriana's lead and go for the zucchini-corn pancakes. I'll let you know how they turn out (and post my version of the recipe Adriana borrowed). The smaller zuke, and I suppose whatever I don't use in the pancakes, will work great in the below pasta recipe.

I also came home to a big stack of mail, including invoices for four magazine subscriptions I don't recall signing up for: W, Home, CosmoGirl! and Teen Vogue. Dead giveaway that someone is pulling a prank on me: they don't know how to spell my first name correctly. That and one of the subscriptions was addressed to our two last names, with nary a first name in sight. I strongly suspect that this is at least technically illegal, as well as completely juvenile (true confession: in my younger and much more foolish days, I and some friends did this to someone who really bugged us, but I felt bad about it even at the time). I've even already received my first issue of CosmoGirl!

Our vacation was nice, though because I came down with a cold on the way there I didn't get to spend as much time with family (~new babies) as I would have liked. Mavis and I had our first getaway without kids since having them, and attended the Sunstone Symposium (hello to new readers from there--welcome and feel free to comment!). We also went to see my sister in the Utah Opera production of Gilbert & Sullivan's Gondoliers! at Deer Valley, which was thoroughly enjoyable.

We took way too few pictures, but here are a couple of nephew shots. The first one is of my ginormous 3-month-old nephew, born in May and already about 20 lbs. The second is of my little brother's middle boy's rad cowlick.

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Friday, August 3, 2007

Off to Utard!

But before we go, a perfect-for-midsummer recipe I made the other night and neglected to post about. Adriana's lament reminded me of it, so I thought I'd post it here for her and your benefit. It's from Cook's Illustrated, of course, July-August 2003. The recipe calls for serving it hot, but I think it works at least as well at room temperature as a salad (and I've taken it to potlucks thus). Anyway, it's a good one for using three things I usually manage to grow in the garden: zucchini, cherry tomatoes and basil.
Pasta and Squash with Tomatoes, Basil and Pine Nuts

4 medium zucchini and/or summer squash (2 lbs), halved lengthwise and then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces (I prefer 1/4-3/8 here)
Kosher salt
1 lb farfalle
5 T extra-virgin olive oil (you can cut this back a little in the sauté part)
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 T)
1/2 t red pepper flakes (I always leave this out because of kids)
1 pint grape tomatoes, each tomato halved (my favorite cherry tomato variety is Gold Nugget)
1/2 C packed chopped fresh basil leaves
2 T balsamic vinegar
1/4 C lightly-toasted pine nuts
Parmesan cheese for serving

1. Toss zucchini/squash with 1 T kosher salt in medium bowl; transfer to large colander, set colander over bowl, and let stand 30 minutes (this helps makes the squash less watery, which was one of Adriana's specific complaints). Spread squash evenly over double layer of paper towels; pat dry with additional paper towels and wipe off residual salt.

2. Cook pasta until it's al dente, drain, and return to pot.

3. While pasta is cooking, heat 1 T oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just beginning to smoke; swirl to coat pan. Add half of squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and slightly charred, 5 to 7 minutes; transfer to baking sheet or large plate. Repeat with remaining squash, adding garlic (and red pepper flakes, if using) at end of cooking, then stirring in first half of squash to heat through (30 seconds or so). Add squash, 2 T oil, tomatoes, basil, balsamic vinegar, and pine nuts to pasta in stockpot; toss to combine. Adjust seasonings and serve with Parmesan on the side.

They also have a variation with olives and feta with lemon juice and mint, which I suppose would be nice if I liked olives. Substitute red wine vinegar for the balsamic and 1/4 C chopped fresh mint for the basil, and add a finely-chopped sautéed red onion, 1 t lemon zest and 1 T lemon juice, 1/2 C pitted and quartered kalamata olives, and 4 oz crumbled feta.


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