Friday, September 30, 2011

Macaroni Pie

This recipe comes from Charleston Reciepts, a staple in South Carolina kitchens.  This has no white sauce or bechemel, so if that's what you are looking for, keep looking!

1/2 pound macaroni
1 heaping tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups sharp cheese, cubed
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
3 eggs
1 pint milk

Cook macaroni in rapidly boiling water for ten minutes. Drain. Stir butter and cheese--leaving abuot 1/2 cup to sprinkle on top of pie--into the hot macaroni; add salt, pepper and mustard.  Beat eggs into the mixture, add milk and mix well.  Put into greased baking dish, sprinkle top with remaining cheese and dot with butter.  Bake in moderate oven (about 375) until set in the middle and bubbly and golden.

NB: I always use more cheese (approx 2 cups).  I also prefer white pepper, and I use a whole teaspoon of mustard.  You will need a total of 2-3 T of butter.  You can certainly use margarine, if you like.
I hope y'all will enjoy this recipe as much as I have over the years.

A glimpse into my childhood (or why my dad is better than yours)

My childhood started out much the same as many others: both parents were working so I went to day care.  That may be where the similarities end.  My dad quit his job at the University of South Carolina and became the stay-at-home parent when I was still a little girl.  It was UH-may-zing.  I wouldn't realize until many years passed how odd this was for the times.  But there he was--chief cook and bottle washer.  And he thrived in that role. Sure, he took me to story time at the library and he took me with him when he went to the grocery store.  I also went with him when he worked our polling place, when he went to the hardware store, and wherever else his daily errands might take him.  There were also plenty of quiet mornings at home, with him listening to NPR's Radio Reader and me coloring, or playing or "reading" to myself.  When I was old enough to go to school, it got even better.  My dad would make us super lunches and he was a chaperone on field trips.  So what if your mom was there--my DAD was there!  In second grade he volunteered to be the homeroom parent, and was turned down--they wanted a homeroom MOM, not a homeroom DAD.  I'll never forget that.  He handled our problems at school, though I am sure the teachers he encountered wished he hadn't--the man had a magnificent vocabulary and could rip you a new one and you would thank him for it, not realizing what he actually said! 
It wasn't until I was nearly 8 that I realized my family didn't work the same way as everyone else's. Silly me, I just assumed all dads did the cooking (and laundry and grocery shopping, etc). Everything in our house was equal-opportunity: whoever saw that the trash was full emptied it; he who cooked did not clean; everyone helped with laundry. It was also around this time I first had Kraft Macaroni and Cheese for the first time: what was the obsession with this strangely colored pasta dish?  It certainly wasn't the mac and cheese I was used to.  (Recipe coming soon)
I am sure it never occurred to my parents that they were helping me choose my spouse with this arrangement. But that is just what happened.  I love spending time in the kitchen, especially baking and prepping for large gatherings of people.  But my work schedule just doesn't allow that right now.  Lucky for me, I married someone like my dad--a man who can hold his own in the kitchen.  Joe and I also take turns dealing with the children, taking out the trash, and doing dishes and laundry.  By no means is our system perfect (whose is, by the way?), but it works for us.  And I have my forward-thinking parents to thank.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Last night I slept with Nathan. In his twin-sized bed.  All night.  With cats meandering in and out.  Sleep is not exactly the right word, considering I was kicked, elbowed, and whacked many times during the night.  When Nathan heard Joe's alarm clock the night was over.  At 6:25.  I got out of bed, feeling abused and more tired than when I first attempted bed last night. 
Keira has been going to bed around 7 or 7:30 in the evening, and sleeping nearly around the clock.  She is limited to a strict 2 1/2 hour nap during the week.  Not because I don't want her to sleep more, but I have to go to this thing called a job. Today, my little songbird of happiness was awake around 7:15.  When we got home at noon, it was nap time.  Or not.  She fussed, whined and sobbed for nearly an hour (moms have to take a shower sometime!).  I checked her diaper (clean) and put her back in the bed.  She had eaten well this morning so I didn't count on hunger being an issue.  Twenty minutes later I found myself going back up the stairs to retrieve the little miss.  She picked at her food, but did drink all of her milk.  Afterwards, I take her up the stairs, change her diaper, and put her to bed.  I am not even down the hallway when I hear her screaming again.  What is going on?!  Anyway, she finally fell asleep about 1:45.  We leave here for school/work at 2:40. 
In an ideal world, I would put both children down for a nap (or at least mandatory rest/quiet time) and I would then crawl into my bed for a nap as well.  But alas, I live in reality and this just isn't going to happen.  Guess it will be early to bed for me tonight!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

In a New York Minute

Today is a day filled with remembrances and reflection.  I know where I was at the time of the attacks, but that doesn't matter, really.  It is certainly one of those "where were you" moments that often defines a generation, or a nation, or both.  As I was driving home from the grocery store today, I flipped the radio on to see what NPR might have on.  When they switched to local news (Philadelphia news) I changed the station.  Just as I was tuning in, the announcer said something about one of Don Henley's songs.  It was written long before the events of that tragic day transpired, but it's lines echo true:
                             New York MinuteHarry got up
Dressed all in black
Went down to the station
And he never came back
They found his clothing
Scattered somewhere down the track
And he won't be down on Wall Street
in the morning

He had a home
The love of a girl
But men get lost sometimes
As years unfurl
One day he crossed some line
And he was too much in this world
But I guess it doesn't matter anymore

In a New York Minute
Everything can change
In a New York Minute
Things can get pretty strange
In a New York Minute
Everything can change
In a New York Minute

Lying here in the darkness
I hear the sirens wail
Somebody going to emergency
Somebody's going to jail
If you find somebody to love in this world
You better hang on tooth and nail
The wolf is always at the door

In a New York Minute
Everything can change
In a New York Minute
Things can get a little strange
In a New York Minute
Everything can change
In a New York Minute

And in these days
When darkness falls early
And people rush home
To the ones they love
You better take a fool's advice
And take care of your own
One day they're here;
Next day they're gone

I pulled my coat around my shoulders
And took a walk down through the park
The leaves were falling around me
The groaning city in the gathering dark
On some solitary rock
A desperate lover left his mark,
"Baby, I've changed. Please come back."

What the head makes cloudy
The heart makes very clear
The days were so much brighter
In the time when she was here
But I know there's somebody somewhere
Make these dark clouds disappear
Until that day, I have to believe
I believe, I believe

In a New York Minute
Everything can change
In a New York Minute
You can get out of the rain
In a New York Minute
Everything can change
In a New York Minute

Once home, I just sat in my car listening to these haunting words, with tears streaming down my face.  It took me a minute to compose myself before going inside to my waiting family.  We spent the rest of the day together just being silly and being with each other.  Tonight, as I put them to put, I will hug them a little tighter, and look into their eyes just a little longer.  Please, never forget and never stop working for peace.
Dona nobis pacem.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Banana-Butterscotch Muffins

This time last week, I was polishing off yet another delicious muffin.  Nathan and I spent last Friday afternoon trying to clean up the kitchen and I caught wind of some very ripe bananas.  Everyone knows that you make banana bread with them.  Granted, I like banana bread just fine, but it's gotten to be a boring standard for old bananas. This is a much tastier option.  I hope you'll agree!

1 large banana (about 2/3 cup), mashed
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. milk
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. flour
1 c. rolled oats
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp.  baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butterscotch chips
Combine mashed banana, egg, sugar, milk, vanilla and oil in a medium bowl.
In a large bowl, add dry ingredients.
Stir banana mixture into dry minture.  Spoon batter into greased muffin cups.  Bake at 400 for 12-15 min.
NB: Recipe doubles easily. You could also use peanut butter or chocolate chips with no other substitutions needed.  I used 1/4 cup whole wheat flour to 3/4 c white.  I also added flax meal (about 1/2 cup or so) and Benefiber.  YUM!
I like to shop--for clothes, toys, and even grocery shopping.  I really enjoy seeing what's out there to inspire some new meal for my family.  But I get irritated and annoyed by the people in and around the stores.  Here is a list, though not all-inclusive, of my shopping peeves:
  1. When entering a parking lot, please note which way traffic is going; i.e. if the sign says incoming traffic has right of way, DO NOT STOP!  Please do not drive the wrong way up an aisle just because you are in a hurry--your rush may cause an accident, and then you really will be late!
  2. While I like that many stores now have Mom/Parent of Young Child parking spaces, I hate that you still have to go a ways to return your carts.  And really, wouldn't it be easier if at least a couple of the cart return areas were near the entrance to the store?
  3. Which brings me to my next gripe.  Put your dang cart away!  How hard is it to go just a few more feet to put your cart in the return?  Heaven knows we could all use the extra steps!
  4. If you are in a store with self-scan or U-scan lanes, please don't use these if you have 137 items--let's try and keep it to around 25.  
  5. When a store puts things on sale, why must it be "select varieties" of a product?  I understand that different sizes or fancier versions of things might not be at the same price, but if the only difference is flavor it's just stupid.  If you are trying to get rid of a surplus of a flavor, do a closeout on it.  Make it easy for people to shop.
  6. Another creation I love to hate is the kid carts with the cars on the front, or the even larger ones at Target or Walmart. While I love it, because it allows me to grocery shop with both of my kids (without having to chase Nathan all over creation), it really is a beast to push. 
  7.   Dear Mary Q. Shopper, you are not the only person in the store: get out of the way!  Do not stand in the middle of an aisle pretending that no one else needs to get anything off of the shelf, or just needs to get by.  Come on, if I can still be polite and say excuse me if my behemoth cart comes within 5 feet of you, you can do the same.   
  8. And for goodness sake, PLEASE don't assume it's okay to touch my children.  If you do, I take no responsibility if the little one starts screaming or if the big one says, "Hey, lady, move along!"

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Rain, Rain, Go Away

I know that all living things, like plants and people, need water to survive.  Seriously, the grass in my yard is nearly ankle-high.  It needs to be cut desperately, but with the rain not ENDing until sometime this weekend (a.k.a. prime mowing time) it likely won't be done til some point next week.  And I can live with that.

What I can't live with is my children (both my own and the ones I care for at work) being stuck inside for days on end due to weather.  They need to run and around and be silly.  I need them less wacky and goofy.  They need the sunshine (or even just clouds) and fresh air.  Sidenote: did anyone else know that playing outside actually BOOSTS the immune system?  

I am also having a hard time being grateful for Mother Nature's showers.  In some areas, all of the rain has led to massive floods and damage.  In other places, namely Texas, they can't buy a drop.  There are fires there burning out of control.  Farmers are literally selling livestock for $25 each.  They are desperate for the rain, and I wish I could send it to them.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day

And, so it seems, Labor Day is upon us once more. For this southern transplant, it used to mean the putting away of all things white until the next Memorial Day (for the record, I still put my white away at Labor Day, but it usually pops out again by Easter or early May).  It also used to be the first break of the school year, since school usually started in mid-August.
 But now, there is a different set of ideas and feelings that comes with Labor Day.  I now have a family and a job.  These days I spend my holidays doing things with my kids and hubby, whether it be lounging at a neighbor's pool, picking apples, going to the zoo, or meeting friends elsewhere for an adventure.  It is a rare treat for all of us to have Daddy at home--it is especially nice for the kids to get some extra Daddy-time.
What did you do on your day off?  Or did you have the day off? 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Ready or not...

I have often thought of having a blog, but I never (til now, of course) actually did anything about it.  C'mon, is my life really worth sharing--some days yes; other days, not so much.  But I have found that I love to read blogs.  It gives me the perfect window into the lives of friends that I never (or rarely) get to see.  I can watch as they (and their family) grow, and never even leave my computer.   I can share in the emotional roller coaster of life.  I learn new things, both about myself and others.  And I hope that others will use my blog to do the same.  Thanks for stopping by!