September 2010


Oh, this has been a busy month so far! The speed of everything just revved up once school started, and we haven’t slowed down since. I’m delighted that both my boys are in the same school now, and can, theoretically, walk to and from school without parental supervision. This hasn’t happened yet, but only because the weather has been so nice, and holding hands for those few moments is so pleasant. Derek has been going to work a little earlier, so I’ve been walking the boys, with Kiki, to school every day. The girl usually feels the need to run, or even race home. Although today, there was skipping. The neighbors all walk their kids, too, so we’ve had wonderful conversations each day on the way to or from, and once again, I love my neighbors.

Kiki is now in the local whatever you call it preschool, where the special needs kids are put in with a few “typically developing” kids, to learn social cues, or whatever. All I can say is that it’s got fantastic teachers, and is less than half the price of the other local preschools, for twice the time. Four days a week! I cart her in the bike trailer, and as a result, have lost a few pounds. I really, really love my bike! I feel so hard-core sometimes, dropping kids off, picking them up, shopping, going to food club meetings (I’m in a co-op). The girls at the dentists office were downright shocked that I rode my bike there. I kept trying to explain that one mile is really not far enough to be in awe of, but just the idea of going somewhere without a car is so foreign to some people.

I also just discovered the eternal joys of the pressure cooker. I can’t believe I didn’t know how awesome they were. I even have one already, and use it to cook beans every few weeks. When I got the thing, I really only intended to use it for beans and grains, so I could make large batches and freeze them in meal-sized containers. The other day, I was at the library and spotted a cookbook (somehow irresistible to me), and checked it out. It’s Lorna Sass’s Cooking under Pressure. I had somehow associated Sass with one of those Southern Lady type TV personalities, but I was way off. She’s a food historian (I totally already own one of her historical cookbooks; To the King’s Taste), and isn’t peddling any sort of comfort food, greasy fried food, fake food, or anything really trashy. She’s just into letting us folks know that a lot of the stuff we already do in the kitchen can be done quicker (and sometimes better) in the pressure cooker.

I made barbecue chicken the other day that cooked in 9 minutes. For breakfast yesterday, I made a rice pudding that used pretty much the same recipe as the rice pudding I do often, eggs, milk, rice, sugar, but with completely different textural results. My usual stuff is somewhat like jello pudding, without the yuck. Sass’s pressure cooked pudding is kind of like a flan with rice. And as a flan-o-phile, I approve. And it’s fast. I made applesauce today, and here’s how you do it. Cut up your apples (I don’t skin them or take the cores out, cause I’m gonna use a borrowed food mill), and toss them in the cooker. Add one cup of water or cider vinegar or a mixture. Cover, heat on high until pressure is reached, turn off heat, wait for pressure to come down on it’s own. Then mill, or puree, or whatever. Add some cinnamon, boil it down further for apple butter, etc. The apples totally explode in the pressure cooker, but you don’t have to be there to stir every five minutes, and the crap doesn’t burn. There’s a recipe for Lamb stew that I can’t wait to try.

Yeah, every once in a while, don’t you just need it? The pizza is leftover from last night, warmed in the oven (I now have a phobia of microwaves… don’t judge), and the movie is called “Weather”. It’s one of those mind-blowing documentaries that has so much information that you think you might explode unless you tell everyone you know. For example, did you know:

1. It is possible to have a heart attack in the evening after going out in cold weather in the morning without a hat and gloves? I’m serious. Your blood cools and thickens, especially in the extremities, and tiny blood clots form, which migrate, by evening towards your heart. Then, death by “natural causes.” Preventable, of course, with a hat and gloves. As many as 3,000 people die each winter in London from such a heart attack. Seriously.

2. Inuits don’t have any evolutionary developments to prepare them for extreme cold, they are just plain tough. And have figured out a few tricks to help them, but really, they’re tough.

3. When overcome with both extreme hot and cold, humans eventually get confused enough that they stop seeking relief, which intensifies the problem and leads to a quicker death.

4. The jet stream was discovered by the Japanese during WWII, and with their awesome discovery, they formulated a plan to send about 900 paper balloons with attached bombs across the ocean to the US and Canada, undetected. About 300 bombs have been found, only one of them achieving it’s purpose. A pregnant woman and five children, out for a Sunday picnic, found a bomb just before it exploded. The woman’s husband saw the explosion, but could do nothing.

These are just a tiny speck of the interesting information in this movie, which Calvin brought home from the library the other day all on his own. I was so delighted with his choice, and have had a lot to think about, as we watch bits of this movie here and there.