Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My Approach to Cooking

My approach to cooking is this: I know how to follow recipes, and I'm good at following recipes. I also know how to select good recipes.  I menu-plan for the week, by finding recipes that look/sound good (I have a few "standard" places I check), and then buy what I need to make them.

The problem is that when I'm in the kitchen, if I don't have a recipe to follow, I'm sort of at a loss. It's like the recipe is my security blanket, and I can't cook without it. I don't like to experiment in the kitchen. What if I mess it up? What if all the time and energy (and ingredients) I put in to a meal don't pay off with a  tasty product?

But since I've been working at the farm, I'm loosening my grip on the security blanket a little bit. Every day, the farm community eats lunch together, and lunch is cooked, on a rotating basis, by the Live-In Volunteers and Interns on the farm. They use what's available to them at the time-- whatever staples are on-hand, and whatever vegetables have been harvested from the garden that day or week. You don't always know ahead of time what's going to be available. But some really great meals have been served at the farm. These folks have inspired me.

I'm not quite "there" yet in my own cooking, but I'm working on it. Last night I stood in my kitchen at home, no idea what to cook for dinner. I hadn't been to the grocery store for the week, and I still had vegetables not yet used, from last Tuesday's CSA harvest (To read more about what a CSA is, click here: http://www.localharvest.org/csa/ ... note, this is not our farm's website, just a site I found that gives a brief overview of how a CSA works). We pick up our CSA veggies every Tuesday, and knowing I would be getting more veggies the next day, made me determined to use up whatever we still hadn't used from last week.

So I didn't look up a recipe. I just started chopping. We had a little bit of bacon that needed to be used up, so I chopped it up, and put it in a skillet. I found some potatoes, so I chopped those up and added them in. We had all sorts of veggies from the CSA, so I started chopping those-- onions, greens, etc. We also had some head lettuce that needed to be used, as well as some radishes, and some spinach-- which combined together to make a beautiful and delicious salad.

When Billy came in the kitchen and asked what I was making, I said, "Oh, I don't know. I'm just putting stuff in the cast iron, and hoping it works out." He said, "Wow. You've been working at the farm a little too long. It's not like you to not have a plan for dinner."

And. Dinner was great! Nothing fancy. We just ate what we had on-hand, and everything we ate was in season and fresh. That's the way we're supposed to eat. I mean, I know everything is "in season" at the grocery store, but we really are trying to be more intentional about eating what's actually in season.

Now. I won't go so far as to say that not following a recipe yesterday was stress-free for me. It was kind of a risk for me, but it turned out well. To help with the seasonal eating, we've found that this cookbook is great. It's filled with simple recipes, and it's broken out by season. My friend Carrie gave it to me for my birthday, and we also sell it at the farm. It's a great resource.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

She Thinks So Much

My child is always thinking. The way her brain processes things is, to me, mind-boggling.  This afternoon we were in the living room and I was relaying a story to my brother-in-law, Bryan.  I said something about my grandmother who had died.

Eisley's ears perked up. She walked over to me with big eyes and said, "Your other grandmother DIED?" I said, "Yes. She died when I was when I was a teenager."

She said, "Well that's not FAIR. Jesus and your other grandmother died!" She seemed very surprised to hear that someone besides Jesus had died. I think she heard so much about Jesus dying on the cross before Easter (we read about it in her Storybook bible, she heard about it at school and in church), that Jesus' death is really the only one she knows anything about.

Her little face was so precious and her eyes were so big, as she asked me about my grandmother;  I smiled at her for a second before I responded. Which of course she noticed, and said, "Mom. I'm NOT smiling. That's not FAIR."

So. There may be some tough conversations ahead with this kid. Conversations I thought we'd have with her when she was at least a couple of years older.  Her mind is always working something out, and she asks questions that sometimes even I don't think to ask. And she certainly asks questions that I have sometimes failed to anticipate.

Prayers are appreciated as we have these very important conversations with our daughter.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

80s Romance

I was born in 1980. Depending on who you are, that either makes me seem really old, or makes me seem like I'm just a baby. I know that I am more a "child of the 90s" than a child of the 80s, in the sense that  I was far too young to remember much of what happened in the 80s-- or to be in to the music or fashion of the 80s. But nonetheless, I have an affinity for the 80s, especially when it comes to the music. Thus, the purpose of this post.  I give to you some of the best "romantic" songs of the 1980s. This list is given in no particular order.  What would you add?

1. Lost in Love - Air Supply
2. Open Arms - Journey
3. Can't Fight This Feeling - REO Speedwagon
4. Never Tear Us Apart - INXS
5. Eternal Flame - The Bangles
6. Suddenly - Billy Ocean
7. Every Time You Go Away - Paul Young
8. Waiting for a Girl Like You - Foreigner

Who Helped Jesus Carry His Cross?

Moments after the candy argument today, Eisley asked this question: "Mom, who helped Jesus carry his cross?"

I told her it was Simon from Cyrene. She said, "Hmm. I don't fink that was his name." I assured her that yes, it was (though, of course she had me doubting myself, so I had to go look it up to make sure).

I asked her why she was asking. She said, "I was just wondering. I fink his cross was real heavy, so it was good someone helped him."

Then she said, "You 'member when he died on the cross? Those sholdiers took his robe and that was real sad. But then he comed back to life, and his mom and everybody was SO happy!"

I like that Eisley is still pondering the events and mysteries of Easter.  Sometimes even I forget to do that. I'm glad she helped me do that today.

Candy: Part 2

Read yesterday's post if you get a chance, about Eisley and the candy. Here's today's edition.

After cleaning up the kitchen after breakfast, I found Eisley in my room again. Again, holding candy in her hands. This time it was Smarties (Side note: where does she keep getting this candy? I think she has a secret stash somewhere I don't know about), and this time she was still in the process of opening the candy.

I said, "Eisley! Do not open that candy." She said, "MOM. Somebody else already started opening it. I need to just finish opening it!" Which she of course did. So there she sat, with an opened pack of Smarties in her hand. I said to her, "Eisley. I asked you not to open that candy." To which she responded, "Just go take your shower." She muttered it under her breath, but I still heard it (In my mind, I was somewhat angered, somewhat humored, and mostly perplexed. The things she says to me constantly surprise and amaze me. It's the sass. Oh, the sass...).

So I of course said, "Eisley, what did you just say?" At which point she repeated herself, only she yelled it this time. "I SAID, JUST GO TAKE YOUR SHOWER!" We had a little conversation about talking to each other with respect and being kind, and then I asked her to give me the candy while I went to take a shower.  She said, "No. I'll just hold on to it while you shower. I'll probably just eat ONE piece." (At least she's honest, and wasn't trying to tell me she had no plans to eat any of it.)

She kept trying to make her case for holding on to the candy, and just eating one piece. The argument was a weak one, though, so the candy now sits on top of the fridge. MAYBE she can have a piece later. Maybe.

So much excitement in our house already today. This all happened before 7:30 a.m.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I have to preserve this story

I know I told this story on facebook, but I don't trust myself to remember to write it in an actual journal, so I'm posting it here so I won't forget it.

This morning I walked in to my bedroom to find Eisley with a piece of opened candy in each hand. Tootsie Rolls. I asked what she was doing and why she was eating candy without permission. We have this conversation more often than I'd like. She replied with, "Mom. I'm not EATING it. I'm just LICKING it to see if it's any good for when I eat it LATER."

She had that tone of, "DUH, Mom. I can't believe you think there's any OTHER explanation for what I'm doing."

I of course had to chuckle to myself. But certainly not out loud, and of course I couldn't let her keep licking the candy. This girl is a mess. If she's saying these kinds of things to me now,  I can only imagine (though I don't really like to) what she'll be saying when she's 15...