Thursday, September 21, 2006

all sorts of shapes and sizes

I am hanging up on the ever-patient magid to write this, a recipe. But first, a pair of stories:

We are driving in the car, listening to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. This is a favorite in our house, and we even have a video tape of the production, with Donny Osmond as Joseph. The Eldest loves it, loves watching the story explode into light and color and music. Thus, the CD playing in my car.

Suddenly, This is the part where they start taking off his clothes, I am informed. Wha? I say, cleverly.
This is the part where they take off his clothes so that he can go to jail, the Eldest explains.
Not all of his clothes, I protestweakly, not really sure why I'm protesting at all. He has the wrapping skirt thing that he wears in jail.
Yes, all of his clothes, the Eldest informs me, sternly. And (giggles) he has nai-nais!

Nai-nai is our family code for breasts, a quasi-discreet choice for those of us who choose to nurse our children longer than society really wants to think about. Of course, how discreet the code can be, when combined with a toddler determinedly lifting one's shirt...well, that's a post for another day.

I consider Donny Osmond. Do you mean nipples, perhaps? I ask the Eldest.
Nope. He has nai-nais like you! They come out of his chest, and the Eldest makes curving, cupping motions to show me. To my delight, the Eldest seems to be wholly aware of the gender-bending he's describing. It occurs to me that he could, if he chose, characterize this as male, but that he's tickled by the idea of it being transgressively female. He loves the idea of rules being bent - and this is no different.
Yes, yes he does, I agree. But no milk...
The Eldest, giggling till, stops and looks at me, surprised and disappointed in the Joseph who can't make milk.

Years ago, when I was a new mother, I spent a lot of time in toy stores, trying to buy the perfect toy, the toy that would make all things right, make all of us happy. It was a difficult time, when we were new to the Eldest's pair of diagnoses, and I was grasping at anything to tell me how to parent, show me how to bring happiness back to our lives, to keep it there.

I do not miss those days.

One day, I was in a store looking at a shape sorter. I must have this, I thought. How else will my baby learn to sort shapes? And then, deep in my cloud of mindless commercialism, I paused. This? This is the crucial and must-not-miss thing that will teach my kid this lesson? What the hell happened to me? And I walked away.

Four years later, I was standing in Babies R Us, trying to figure out what to do with some store credit. I bought diapers, wipes, a set of binkies (pacifiers) and finally, found myself staring at the same shape sorter. Unlike the rest of the toys, this had no batteries, didn't promise to increase the babes' IQ and oh, what the hell. Kismet?

To my delight, he had no interest in it for months. Instead the Eldest used it, lining up the shapes, sorting them by colors, by shapes, doing disappearing tricks so that three by three by three became two by two by two, then one... It's magic! he proclaimed. Eventually, the babes rescued the toy, and learned the joys of taking in and putting back. Each time, though, by yanking off the sorting top to get easy access.

I sat down with him. Together, we pushed circles through the holes in the lid, then squares and finally stars. Each time, he yanked off the cover to see the block, lying in the container. Insert, check, insert, check. Finally, I turned it over to him. He picked up a circle, pushed it in. Then he picked up a triangle, tried to fit it in, failed and considered the matter. He looked at the cover and yanked it off. See? Easier this way. I grinned and let him be.

Here is the cake I made for the babes' birthday dinner. It was splendid, and I'll be making it again tonight, for Rosh Hashana.

Many-Bowled Cranberry Cake (Four, to be Precise)
serves 6-8
2 oz soft butter/margarine
1/2 c. sugar
1 Tb grated/zested orange peel
10 oz cranberries, fresh or frozen. Chopped is nice.
2 Tb orange juice concentrate
2 Tb water
beat butter and sugar together, mix in orange peel. Spread mixture over the bottom of a greased cake pan (not springform - this will leak). Sprinkle cranberries on top. Mix juice and water, then pour over cranberries.

1 c. gluten free baking flour blend (your choice)
1 tsp egg replacer
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/8 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter/margarine
1/2 c sugar
2 eggs, or 2 Tb ground flaxseed, plus 1/2 c water, boiled in microwave and let cool
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix flour blend, egg replacer, baking pwder, xanthan gum and salt. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs to butter-sugar mix, mix until smooth. Add vanilla, then slowly add dry ingredients (be prepared - the flour will puff up and make a bit of a mess unless you add it slowly).
Spread batter over cranberries.
Bake for 25 minutes, checking with a toothpick. (My cranberries were still slightly frozen when I popped the cake in, mine took about 40 minutes to bake.) Let cake sit for 5 minutes before turning it out onto a serving plate.

Recipe from Living Without, fall 2006 issue. This recipe is or is potentially: dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, nut-free, etc. And yet, somehow it is delicious!


Auntie A said...

Go go go Joseph, you know what they say!

Mmm...cake. (I must stop reading your blog while I'm at work and powerless to do anything about the food cravings. Then again, maybe it's safer that way.)

Shana tova u'metuka to the whole family!

mama o' the matrices said...

Safer, indeed, o our lady of the danish...

shana tova to you, too.