Wednesday, November 01, 2006

the value of equipment

I just finished reading It's a Boy: Women Writers on Raising Sons, edited by Andrea Buchanan. Let me save you some time here: mostly, it's women writers saying things like, my God, what is that thing down there? (pause of some length, depending on author) Well, I suppose it's okay.

Some even allow as it might be loveable, this penis-equipped, Y-chromosomal creature. Big of them, really. But by and large, they sound stunned by the phenomenon of the Small Boy.

The book is, however, worth reading for the section on trying to figure out a response when your little guy wants to wear pink. With your shoes, and possibly a boa. As the parent of a boy whose favorite color is occasionally pink, I have hit this one every so often, and it's a fun place to be, as a woman. Part of me wants to cheer him on, part of me is sitting on the bits that want to shout, but it's a girl color! And part of me is playing the mental tape where he gets teased by his classmates (that whole beating up on the playground thing being outre, you know). Gender identity - we construct it (societally), but we shouldn't instruct it (individually), if you follow me.

With that in mind, I offer the following vignette:

I came to pick up the Eldest at school a couple of weeks ago, when he was deep into his Mama is Evil phase. (I was especially evil when I was trying to pick him up at school, while everyone else was getting deep into a playtime, and I wasn't that less evil when insisting he flush the toilet, for example. And don't get me started on the evilness that was mine about the taking of toys from the Toddles. Mwooo ha ha, mwooo ha ha!)

He ran off when he saw me, shouting no, no no no no nonononononooooooooo, and happily joined some boys in the far corner. (Note: the farthest of far corners). The kids equipped themselves, and went to play fireman on the climbing structure. I sauntered over.

So, you guys are firemen?
Yup. We have all the stuff.
Oh, like what?
Well, we have helmets (pointing to the helmets), and we have the protective gloves (pointing to the elbow length evening gloves), and we have the fireman bags, with all of the stuff we might need (pointing to handbags).

I looked at the boys, busily spotting and putting out fires from their eyrie. Yup, I told them. You guys have got it all.
Naturally, they ignored me - a serious emergency was happening in the dress-up corner.
tonight's dinner was fabulous, made more wonderful by the rare M sighting, not to mention the friends who were popping in from Chicago!

Apple-Spinach Salad:
this was pretty simple, and is a salad born for variation.
baby spinach
scallions, sliced
sliced green olives
apples (crisp), sliced
optional: avocado, dried cranberries, pralined almonds/pecans

dressing: I used the MIL's trick for this one, and it finally worked! Start by tossing the salad with salt and pepper. No, really, toss it.
Then, add a bit of curry powder. Toss again.
Drizzle with olive oil (yes, the lack of quantities is annoying - sorry), and toss a third time.
Finally, drizzle with vinegar, but LESS vinegar than you put in olive oil (the ratio is 3:1 for oil:vinegar). Toss one last time.
The result is a very mild dressing, because the oil coats the leaves, making the vinegar a mild presence. But toss with the spices first, or the oil on the leaves will also make the spices a mild presence - less desirable.

Vegan, Gluten-Free Lasagne!!!
at the end of the night, I had only one piece left of this, and was eyeing it wistfully myself. This is surprisingly good.
1 package Tinkyada lasagne
1 pkg dried mushrooms (porcini or mixed wild)
10 oz mushrooms, sliced somewhat thinly
1/4 c olive oil, to be divided up as needed
2 onions, sliced
2 14-16 oz cans tomato puree
black pepper
baby spinach (a few handfulls)
6 cloves garlic, smashed with the side of a knife & peeled
1/3 c chopped fresh parsley
1 container firm tofu, pressed to get out excess water and chopped

Soak the dried mushrooms in 2 c hot water for 30 minutes. Then drain, saving soaking water and chop mushrooms.

Saute garlic, onion, fresh mushrooms in olive oil. Add dried mushrooms, soaking water and parsley. Stir over medium heat until liquid is just about gone. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook the lasagne noodles according to the package instructions. Be careful to drain immediately, running cold water over them. And they aren't kidding when the instructions tell you to pat the noodles dry before using. It really does help.

Oven to 375. In a casserole dish, layer like so: tomato sauce, noodles, tomato sauce, mushrooms/tofu, spinach noodles, tomato sauce, mushroom/tofu mix, spinach, etc, ending with a layer of noodles topped with tomato sauce. Be pretty thorough with the sauce on that top layer, since you aren't finishing with cheese, which would normally insulate the noodles from drying out during baking.

bake 30 minutes. Serve! It is unclear as to how well this reheats, so unless you are feeling brave, eat it the same day with company, and in private for the leftovers. If you have any....

Brown Rice Pilaf
courtesy of magid, who found this recipe on the Kosher Blog, this has seen a few adaptations under my aegis. But not many. What I can say for it is that it's easy, even for me - I'm lousy at rice - and it's delicious. I do have leftovers, but I suspect it will survive reheating well.
1.5 c brown rice, medium or short grain
1.5 cups water/broth
1/2 c dried cranberries
zest of one orange
olive oil (perhaps a Tb, maybe 2 Tb, depending on how good your nonstick is)
2 stalks celery, sliced
kosher salt
6 fresh sage leaves, sliced thinly
1 pkg firm tofu, cut into sizes pleasing to you, plus 1/3rd c olive oil for frying it

In an oven friendly casserole, mix rice, zest, cranberries. Heat broth to boiling, then add. Cover dish tightly, bake at 375 degrees F for 1 hr.

When rice comes out of the oven, let sit for 1 hr, still covered. (The value of this is uncertain, but as I am a rice idiot - a.k.a. I make 'crispy rice,' I'm not messing with it. If you do mess with it and deem the wait time unecessary, let me know!)

Shortly before rice is done sitting around, saute the onion and celery, seasoning with the salt and pepper. Set aside. Fry the tofu until crispy on most sides, let drain on paper towels.

Toss rice with everything else (veggies, tofu, sage). Taste to check for salt/pepper allotment, then serve.


dykewife said...

my, oh my! those recipes! you know how to make me drool.

boy wore pink for his first 3 years. i have 3 nieces and i got hand-me-downs from my s-i-l when he was born. i kept everything as much as i could except the dresses. this means he wore pink sweat pants, pink underalls, pink shirts, pink sleepers, pink rompers, and more.

because of his big blue eyes and curly hair (that i liked to keep a little bit long to accentuate his curls,) and pink bits of clothing, lots of people thought he was a girl. i just said that he was a man of the 90s and was man enough to wear pink. :)

he never did really care what he wore, though pink is off the menu now. he's raided my drawers more than once for shirts, and once for a dress for a play.

your son is a man of the new century. he and his friends don't seem to worried about other people's perceptions. afterall, you're right, they had some serious pretending to do.

RabotMachshavot said...

I saw the recipe on Kosheblog too. I also saw your comment about pavlova... I like *seeing* you on cyberspace.

mama o' the matrices said...

dw, I am tickled to say that some of the Eldest's Bob the Builder undies are now pink. (Accident with a red shirt in the wash, you see)

I'm mailing them off to my niece. Even girls can build houses, you know...

Rabot M, welcome back! Good to 'see' you, too. Missed you.