Monday, September 29, 2008

ich bin eine gute hausfrau, ja

I've never been much for menu planning. I'm much more of a fly-by-the-seat-my-pants type of cook, unless we're hosting something, and even then I'm prone to a lot of improvisation. But it's something I always feel like I should be doing. In theory, it sure seems that it would make things easier. And the last few months I've had to make some dietary changes in response to some health issues. (More on that coming in a later entry.) It's made a difference, but these changes don't always translate into things that the kids and Pete enjoy. Since I have no desire to make one meal for me and a separate meal for them -- or go all evil and make them make their own gorram food -- I'm now on a constant hunt for recipes that will work for all four of us. That's not easy to do without some advance planning. 

Anyway, for the last few weeks I've been giving this menu-planning thing a try. Surprisingly, I'm liking it. A lot. It's always grand fun going through cookbooks and websites (yes, yes, I'm a big dork). It's *especially* fun trying out new recipes, things I might not otherwise make for the four of us because I don't have all the ingredients available. (I don't know about you, but I don't usually have items like "6 ounces mixed wild mushrooms" (Wild Mushroom and Broccoli Tart) or "2.5 cups passata" (Eggplant and Chickpea Tagine) on hand.) That puts the kibosh on trying new and fun recipes, unless you're the type to make a quick run to the grocery store for just a few things, which I'm not. I'd like to claim it's because it's a waste of gas, but really, it's because it's a pain in the...rear. By the time I go there and get back for those couple of things, I could have dinner half done. 

How are these kinds of ingredients suddenly available, you ask? Why, because when I "schedule" a recipe, I do a quick check of what's in the frig and pantry and then add any necessary ingredients to the grocery shopping list. That in turn makes grocery shopping faster and easier, because I'm not haphazardly guessing at what we may or may not be having for our dinners. While I love to cook, I do not particularly enjoy grocery shopping. Actually, most of the time I loathe it. So I am all for anything that helps gets me in and out of the grocery store faster. 

We don't eat out or order in a lot to begin with, but if we did, I'm going to guess that knowing what's the on the menu and having the ingredients on hand to make it would help cut that down. 

Menu planning. Why haven't I been doing this before now?

For those who might be curious, here's what's on this week's menu:

Monday: Pasta with tomato garden sauce and some of that fresh bread -- a light whole wheat -- you see rising in the above picture.

Tuesday: Italian Veggie Turkey Soup (the kids LOVE this one) with more of that homemade bread. Yum!

Wednesday: Potato, Red Onion, and Feta Frittata*, with roasted veggies as a side dish.

Thursday: Tofu stir-fry with egg noodles*, and baked stuffed apples for dessert (a strange combination, I know, but one the kids like).

Friday: Ratatouille*, with Potatoes Dauphinois* and Eggplant, Smoked Mozzarella, and Basil Rolls* as the sides. Or perhaps the eggplant, smoked mozz, and basil rolls will be appetizers instead of a side. I haven't quite decided.

Saturday: Leftovers night!

Sunday: Whole roasted chicken, with brown rice and a vegetable medley as the sides. 

Sounds good, no? 

I'll try to remember to take some pictures.

*Starred recipes are from Vegetarian, which is fast becoming one of my favorite cookbooks.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

And as long as I'm talking politics

I think Governor Palin is a poor VP pick for a couple of reasons. Leaving aside the fact that I simply don't agree with her on a lot of the issues, I don't think that she's qualified to be next in line for the presidency. (Being able to see Russia on a clear day just doesn't cut it for me.) And I'm quite insulted at the idea that as a woman, they think that I'm going to go vote for the McCain-Palin ticket simply because Palin has a uterus. Please. To use a phrase from my formative decade, gag me with spoon.  If they wanted a female candidate in an attempt to get more of the female vote -- and honestly, I have problems with that approach; I don't care about a candidate's gender, I simply want the best person for the job -- there were other, more qualified politicians who could have and should have been selected (Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison come immediately to mind).

(Sidenote that will become relevant in just a moment: why was it that it was seemingly OK for someone to ask McCain, "So how do we beat that bitch?" re: Senator Clinton -- if he did have a problem with the word "bitch" and its connotations, he stayed pretty quiet about it -- but any criticism of Palin results in cries of "Sexism!" from both the McCain camp and other Republicans?)   

That said, one sentence in Judith Warner's column today in the New York Times stopped me dead in the middle of reading:

They know she can't possibly do it all -- the kids, the special-needs baby, the big job, the big conversations with foreign leaders.

Imagine this sentence being written about a male candidate. 

They know he can't do it all -- the kids, the special-needs baby, the big job, the big conversations with foreign leaders

It would never get written! This is a standard that is *never* applied to a male candidate, no matter his party affiliation, no matter how strong or weak his qualifications are, no matter what his home life is like. And it disgusts me. Like I said above, I don't care for Palin as a VP pick, and I think the Republicans who let sexist attacks on Clinton slide but now scream when it happens to Palin are a bunch of hypocrites. But that doesn't mean that this blatant, stupid sexism is OK. Because it IS sexism, no question about it.  

I don't know what it's going to take to change this kind of thinking, to level the playing field so that both men and women in politics, business, academics, all fields, are held to the same standards, but I sure am sick of it. I'd love to think that this will no longer be an issue by the time my daughters are adults, but alas. I fear that's wishful and deluded thinking.    


It's all over the news that Senator McCain wants to postpone tonight's scheduled debate because of the financial crisis and proposed bailout. (If you somehow didn't know about this, you can read about it in the NY Times, the Wall Street Journal, Fox, etc. Pick your poison.)

This is a terrible idea. Right now, we the people need to hear from both candidates. I'm hardly a financial guru, but it seems rather likely that the economic issues of the moment are going to continue into the next administration. So not only do we need to know what the candidates support and propose doing and how each proposes doing it, but also what they think needs to happen going forward. And we need to hear it now. Not a week from now, not a month from now, not after whatever legislative fix is in place, but now. What better forum than this first scheduled debate?

Note that I am neither endorsing nor rejecting the bailout. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, if everything "they" are saying is true and we're looking down the barrel of near-certain economic collapse, I certainly don't want to risk a Great Depression by letting the markets go into free fall. On the other hand, the blatant socialism of this proposed bailout doesn't sit well with me. (And can anyone explain to me why it is that socialized health insurance is decried and defeated, but a socialized bailout of Wall Street seems to be OK?) Thankfully, I'm not running for political office, so I can sit here and dither. But McCain is running for office. That means that he doesn't have the luxury of dithering or asking for more time -- or saying that this one matter is so important that he can't turn his attention to anything else. At the very least, that doesn't say much about his ability to multi-task, an ability that one would think should be an important part of a presidential candidate's skills set.

And least it seems that I'm unfairly dogging on McCain, let the record show that I want this debate to happen because I want to hear from Senator Obama, too. If he's got a comprehensive plan for dealing with this both now and going forward, I don't know what it is. And that's not good.

Frankly, leadership seems to be in awfully short quantities right now.  To use an overused cliche, someone needs to step up to the plate. Tonight's debate is the perfect opportunity for that. Postponing the debate sells both the candidates and the voters short.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I picked up the camera the other day for the first time in weeks*, and realized that I took a bunch of pictures when we went to the Copper Dome after getting the girls off to the first day of school but never did get around to getting them off the camera, processed, and posted.

If you're ever in St. Paul, go check this place out. The decor -- flour, flour, and more flour -- is interesting and the food's great. And if you live here, what's your excuse? Give me a call. I'll meet you there for breakfast.

It doesn't really have a dome.


Love the old time feel to the register. And the flour.

The menu's huge. Lots of choices, very small print.
This is just the first page (and I cut off a big chunk of it).
If you want pancakes, I recommend the Oatmeal Bran Banana Nut pancakes.
They're good.

But this time, I went for a ham and cheese omelette.
Also very good.

And hashbrowns. Mmmm. Hashbrowns.

I don't remember exactly what Pete had, but it was good too.

More flour.

I have resolved to get me into more pictures (because I'm bad about doing that).
So, here I am in the ladies' room of the Copper Dome.

Goblin Flour? How cool is that!

I wish they were still in business. I'd buy it for the name alone, just so that the girls could make goblin bread sandwiches for their lunches. Heh.

*The usual excuses: busy, settling into the school routine, sick, blah blah blah.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Saluting an Iraq veteran

My brother's out of the army as of midnight last night. We were going to go out with his wife and him to celebrate tonight, but they've both got a mild case of food poisoning after a late-night dinner last night (eek!) and we've got a sick kid. So we'll hold off on the celebration. But oh, I am so glad and relieved that he's out -- and at the same time, incredibly proud of how well he served his country, too.   

Job well done, little brother. Enjoy your civilian years. You've earned them.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

First day of school

4th grade!!!
(That's our old mailbox next to Morgan;
Pete made it into a planter.)

New backpacks, such fun.

Such serious students.

And a little sepia to finish off the session.

And now that the girls are off to school, Mr. Yon Saucy and I are going to brave RNC madness and go have breakfast at my favorite breakfast place, the Copper Dome. (Ignore the negative reviews. Those people are clearly deranged.) Yum.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Last day of summer vacation

You may have heard that the Republican National Convention is currently happening over in St. Paul. We're doing our level best to avoid it, so we spent the last day of the girls' summer vacation going to the Zoo in the morning and Cascade Bay in the afternoon.

The Zoo was crowded and the animals were mostly hiding away snoozing, but I managed to get a couple of OK shots.

Siesta time for the grizzlies -- at 10 a.m.!
Rough life, dude.

I wouldn't want to mess with those claws.

The snow leopards were only marginally more awake.

I don't think he (she?) liked the humidity.

And like I said, most of the other critters were hidden away asleep, so that was it for pictures.

I didn't bring the camera along to Cascade Bay, but it was a good way to close out the summer. We swam, played water tag and other games, and then the girls found some friends they hadn't seen since school got out last June and promptly ditched us. We were all right about being ditched, though, and retired to our lounge chairs and read -- with periodic breaks to hop in to get cooled off -- while the kids went down the various slides and floated around the lazy river a few dozen last times. For not only was today the last day of summer vacation; it was Cascade Bay's last day of the season. I have to admit that I was a little sad when they blew the whistles at 5 and booted us all out. Dang, this summer went by fast.

But tomorrow we start 4th grade! The girls' Girl Scouts troop, in conjunction with the Boy Scouts troop, is doing the first-day-of-school flag raising ceremony. Great excitement, I tell you, especially since they're now Junior Girl Scouts and have new green vests and insignia that they'll wear for the first time tomorrow. I'd like to think that all the Girl Scouts are this excited about wearing their Girl Scouts' gear for the first day of school (instead of new back-to-school duds) and raising the flag, but I suspect it's just my two quivering with anticipation. Heh.