Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A wake-up call

The messages on my home answering machine are almost always from people I don't know well.
Sales calls.
Political campaigns.
Reminders from the dental assistant.
The Salvation Army, wanting to know if we want to donate anything this month.

But this one was different.

A call to let me know that a very close friend was in the hospital.  That she'd had a heart attack.  That it was a miracle she was alive.  That she would be OK.  That she wanted me to know.

I hit replay three times.  I listened again and again and tried to hear it differently.  I sat down in a daze and dialed her husband's number.

No answer.

Then a message back.  She'd had a heart attack at home.  It was a miracle that she was alive.  She'd make a full recovery.  I could reach her on her cell phone.

Men. So helpful.

I reached the friend who called in the first place.  It was bad.  It happened at home.  She cried out for her son.  I'm dying, she said.  He called 911.  They revived her twice on the way to the hospital.  Once again when she got there.

She survived.

When she got home from the hospital, I went and hugged her for a long time, and I brought soup*.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Carpool Wars: Battle Steak!



Previously, on Carpool Wars...

Overhead shot of dining table littered with large plates covered with remnants of various pasta dishes, a few scattered pieces of blueberry pie with ice cream melting in places, and several EMPTY WINE BOTTLES.  A group of adults, clearly completely stuffed and showing the effects of the wine, are leaning back in their chairs, rubbing their bloated bellies with happiness.


(Raising glasses to toast)
You're on!

Quick montage of Battle Ribs! with properly dramatic, pulse-pounding soundtrack in the background.  Use clever editing to make people feel this has happened just last week, despite the fact that this particular battle happened in November*.

Three battles in.  A brand new driver in the mix**.   The most exciting Mom-on-Mom cooking competition in America hits a whole new level of fierceness tonight.  Who will win the coveted "Taste" prize?  Stay tuned.  

Overhead shot. We see the car turning a corner and overhear the conversation.

What do you want to bet that Cindy doesn't even make a real steak? 

Yeah, she'll probably make, like, duck, and call it steak.  Like the fish burgers.  

Or she could be making steak tartare...
A chorus of "Ews!" ensues, along with laughter.  MY HUSBAND looks worried.  I look calm but am secretly dismayed, because I know she will be making a real steak, and I am in trouble.

Close ups of succulent steaks. We hear CARPOOL MOMS murmuring in the background about their personal relationships with various butchers.  Smack talk all around**.

Christy D's two-inch thick NY steaks from a butcher that sells to the top restaurants in LA, basking in a balsamic-shallot-olive oil marinade.

Cindy's even thicker bone-in rib eyes, with her special skillet, artisan salts, and other spices.  Also bone marrow to be roasted alongside.  (The kids were a tiny bit right)

A clever entry from the new Christy: Flank steak marinated in a vibrant chimichurri sauce.  She's a ringer!

Sizzling everywhere.  Tantalizing smells are coming from the stove top, the oven and the grill. The guacamole has been demolished, the baked potato bar is being set up, and THE CARPOOL MOMS are well through the white wine and on to the red.


Platters of steak, laid out for the JUDGES to take the first pass through.

The judges are pleased.

The grilled balsamic NY steaks, with a decadent peppercorn cream sauce

The rib eye - finished in the oven with the marrow bones, a little thyme, and butter

The INSTIGATOR, enjoying the results of his diabolical plan (and the lack of steak tartare)

The votes come in, including a new category "Tenderness", added perhaps in a kind gesture to my steak, which was completely outclassed in every aspect but this one.

The WINNER for best tasting steak savors her victory by jumping up and down and screaming for joy****.  The OTHER MOMS are outwardly happy for her, each having won a category themselves*****, but we know better.  They waste no time in throwing down the gauntlet.

Don't miss the next exciting CARPOOL WARS: Battle Brunch!


Monday, April 23, 2012

Peter Piper picked

... a peck of pickled peppers.

That's like eight imperial quarts or something.
Since this was my first pickling project*, I just picked a pint of pickled apples.

Still alliterative, but much more manageable, fridge-space wise.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

FG Lunch Brigade - Special Birthday Lunch Edition

"Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds"

--- The Postman's Oath

"Neither rain, nor hail, nor long tram lines stays these women from the leisurely completion of their celebration lunch"

-- The Foodie Girl's Oath

And that's why I love them*.

A birthday toast as the rain pours down outside.  FG10 (far left, only one eye showing) actually braved death by flying in from Seattle during some of the worst turbulence she'd ever experienced to be here for the lunch.  People were praying and shrieking. (On the plane, not at lunch)

A little something from the chef.  The lobster filling was tasty, but the wrapping was thick and far too chewy.

Other than the name, the menu was full of creative options.

I was very happy with my choice - sea scallops with fresh pea risotto, Parmesan crisps, and pork belly.  It tasted just as good as it looks.

House-made cannelloni - filled with a variety of fresh vegetables 

Sweet potato ravioli with squid ink and kale.  Of course we shared so everyone got to taste all the dishes, and this my favorite bite of the day.

The food was beautiful and well prepared, the service was gracious but quite slow.  Mostly we didn't mind.  We're a chatty bunch, there was a storm to watch outside, and we had recipes to share.  I'd asked everyone to bring a favorite, and as we went around the table, our cries of "ooh" and "That sounds amazing!" and "Did you say caramelized bread pudding?" began to draw stares from some of the other patrons around us**.   Yeah, we were the fun table.

Our waiter set the tray in front of me, complete with a birthday wish in chocolate. Although they got points for plating, we were not impressed with the desserts themselves.

I was, however, deeply touched by all the love around me that afternoon.  I'm one very lucky FG!

Cheers to good friends!

* That, and the fact that they don't seem to understand the meaning of "No gifts, please."

** For all you virtual FGs, here are the recipes:

From my hostess:

Recipe for a Great Friend
1 c. barley (solid and earthy)
2 c. rice (to make it all nice)
1 dash of chili (to spice it up)
4 or 5 bay leaves (to bring in nature)
1 c. beans (to smooth things out)
1 Tbs. garlic (to make it unique)
4 c. of water to blend everyone's special ingredients for friendship

Boil for a while, then simmer for hours over wonderful conversation.

Did you notice that they have got us covered for breakfast, lunch, dinner and especially dessert? ( In case the fancy place you go for lunch doesn't do such a good job on that...)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The definition of irony

My daughter (to my husband):  I don't think Anne Frank was a very nice person.  She was really moody and mean to her mom.

I can't has cheeseburger

I'm on a juice cleanse.
It's horrible.
Not because this is my breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Or because I can't have Diet Coke.
Those are hard, hard things.
But I can bear them.

On the other hand, opening a message from my husband* to find this?

Just plain cruel.  He's an evil man**.

* Via text, accompanied by the phrase (and I quote here) "MMMMM!"
Just to rub it in, this arrived 30 seconds later:

** Of course, according to him, I'm a fad-following ditz who should just bake a few less cookies and exercise more.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Not so namby-pamby Jambalaya

I was... excited about this cookbook*. (yay!) less than thrilled with this recipe. (boo!) not gonna let that be the end of it. (ooooh...look out now!)

I fixed it. (You go, girl!)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Why they're called Hot Cross Buns

Because they're a massive amount of work to make for a holiday where everyone is supposed to be uplifted and rejoicing and frolicking with baby chicks and bunnies and eating deviled eggs and chocolate and Starburst jelly beans.

If you, like me, are trapped by tradition into thinking that you need these buns on top of all that other good stuff to truly celebrate Easter, you're just screwed, unless you have a nice bakery nearby and do take out.

Nope.  I had to go and make mine from scratch.  The sink is overloaded with dishes, everything is sticky and I think there's flour behind my ear.

Yeah, I'm cross.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Rounding Up

The four of us were relaxing in the restaurant at the hotel after a long day on the road.  We'd started out that morning in Whistler, had fresh fish and chips harborside in Horseshoe Bay, boarded a ferry, crossed an icy inlet ringed with craggy, snow-capped mountains, then driven through lush forests and a spectacular pass replete with rivers, roaring waterfalls, and glorious little lakes while big fat snowflakes fell softly all around.  Our new hotel was a haven of warmth and luxury, the waves were crashing against the rocks just outside the windows, there was a fire crackling, and we'd just ordered a delicious meal. I could not think of a better way to spend my birthday than being here, with my family.

My husband:  How's this for a birthday, huh?
My son:  (looking up from his phone) Oh yeah. Happy birthday, Mom.
My daughter:  Wait. How old are you again?

My husband frowns at her warningly.

My daughter: Just kidding! I know you're 50.
Me:  I am NOT!
Her:  Mom, just face it. At this point, you pretty much round up.

At least I'll get to round down soon.