Monday, September 22, 2008

Cool Beans

I've tried cooking with dry beans a bunch of times. They usually come out barely edible- sort of mealy feeling and not fully cooked, despite hours of soaking and cooking.

Earlier this year I saw this post on Cathy's blog I made some black beans and used them for soup shortly afterwards. And omg! It works- perfect beans.

I made some more beans this weekend, some lovely garbanzos. Delicious. I used them in a stew from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian.

This morning I picked up a bag of great northern beans at the store, love those and can't wait to make something with them. I was talking about cooking with my friend Maria yesterday. She asked why was I making beans from scratch, since good canned beans are so readily available. I wasn't really sure, except that I love a good cooking challenge, and it drove me bonkers that my previous efforts were inedible!

In other food news, Sam has been on a new food streak. Mind you, he hasn't really loved most of what he has tried, but hey, he's trying! He tried spinach and got a bite or two down by holding his nose. We just made it plain, but I bet he would like it made another way. We'll try again. He tried a grape. He didn't care for the skin; his sister helpfully asked if we could peel them for him. Um, no thanks. He tried a radish in school. He ate some sweet potato, and did enjoy that. Hooray! A week ago I bought an artichoke, at his request. I made it last night, and he ate a few leaves dipped in honey mustard dressing. He says he'd eat it again if we make it.

I think both of my kids eat pretty well, but Sam is definitely persnickety. But, hey, so was I.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

In Defense of Junie B. Jones

Dear Junie B. Jones

I know there are parents who don't like you, Junie B. Parents who don't care for your grammar, your spelling, or your antics.

I am not one of those parents. Junie, Thank you for bringing me laughter. I'm talking about I can't read, I can't breathe laughter. I'm talking my daughter sternly telling me "stop laughing and READ the book!" laughter. I laugh harder when I remember by son telling me the same thing four years ago. As my husband sometimes points out, I'm kind of high strung, not to mention overly serious-- and this type of let it all hang out, uncontrolled laughter doesn't come frequently. It's such a wonderful, free feeling, and I thank you for allowing me to experience it with my kids.

Friday, September 05, 2008

She let me have Blow-pops for Breakfast

When I was a little girl, my Aunt Ilene babysat me quite a bit. One of my earliest and dearest memories is when I stayed with her while my mother was in the hospital giving birth to my sister. I remember returning to my aunt's apartment building, and sitting down in the lobby to put on a beautiful, gold, sparkly, plastic pair of high-heels. I can hear the clip-clip-clip as we walk to the elevator, and I remember showing the shoes off to my grandma who was upstairs in the apartment.

My aunt and her family eventually moved out of Brooklyn to Long Island. We spent many a fun-filled weekend there, playing with my cousins and the other neighborhood kids. We loved my aunt, and knew she loved us. So it was only natural, when my father told us that he'd had an affair and that my parents were getting divorced, that I'd want to go be with Aunt Ilene.

Before my parents sat us down that June afternoon, we knew something strange was going on in our house. My mom had lost a lot of weight, and I worried that she was dying. When I found out why she lost the weight, I felt a great responsibility to be strong for her, and to be angry at my father on her behalf. I knew how much my mother loved me (a subject for a post of its own). But I knew I needed comforting, and I didn't feel I could ask that of her.

So my dad took me out to Suffolk county, and I spent a few days there, soaking in the love and hanging out. I'll never forget the first morning. My aunt had gone to the office, and called to check on me. She asked "what'd you have for breakfast?" When I answered "two Blow-pops," she responded "that's good." No- ohmygosh that's no good! You'd better eat something else! Just acceptance. And love.

I told both of these stories at my aunt's 60th birthday party this summer. I ended by saying that everyone needs an Aunt Ilene, who'll let them have Blow-pops for breakfast. The party was a surprise, and she was shocked to see my family and me there. I shared some memories that my sister emailed to me since she wasn't able to come to the party. I made it through my stories without tears, but couldn't read the last line of my sister's email through my tears.

This post inspired by today's post on Supersisters- a new blog by Jen Lemen and two of her equally amazing sisters.