Saturday, February 24, 2007

perils of the closet

okay, so there's a bit about the perils of the closet at the end of this post, which I was going to say more about, but what the hell, I found something, I wore it, the kid approved and after I sternly informed the Man that I felt insufficiently ogled by him. He was happy to rectify the omission. And no recipes today - I'm working on a vegan gluten free spice cookie for our purim mishloach manot (gift baskets), but it failed beautifully today. Still in process there!

But more on the closet, the family below. First, what the hell is going on in Lawrence, NY? Apparently, orthomom is being sued over something posted by a pair of commentators on her blog. Google, to whom the suit was originally addressed, has stepped aside and is letting orthomom fend for herself.

Not so much feeling the love here, people. I shall balance my personal psychological blogscale with the following narratives:
The Man is leaving for a business trip, the Toddles sleeping and the Eldest sporting a fine, fine case of scarlet fever. I am staring at a mango in the fruit basket (the Eldest's latest and most inventive allergy yet), and trying to imagine the basket without the mango. Tip: the basket would have a lot less fruit.

In other words, a typical night at the Imperfect home.

"Mum, you'll never guess how I'm writing!"
I look over. The kid's written a bunch of numbers: 123456789101112131415 on the chalkboard. But the 1s, the 2s, the 3s, etc, all point right - not left. They are mirror images of themselves, uniformly. Mildly, "I think you might want to try pointing the numbers this way, hon."
"Nope." He is firm, certain on this point, and I concede. He also explains that he isn't putting spaces between the numbers, because he knows what they are. Again, I concede. If the Romans didn't do it, why bother now?
He goes back to work.
"Mum, it is now time to tell you until what I'm writing. One hundred!"

[mental flash: the Man, holding a tiny baby and crooning to thousand sixty-two, seven thousand sixty-three, seven thousand sixty-four... The language of love, for the Man, was numerical, and he counted to a million with each of the boys.

Seven thousand sixty-four, seven thousand sixty-five, seven thousand sixty-six, seven thousand sixty-seven...]

I tell the Man about his offspring's plan. He barely misses a beat: "It's a start."

Indeed it is so.

I am hiding from my closet.

It isn't my closet's fault that I detest it, it's the combination of clothing, event and the general imperfection of all involved. But here I am, needing something that counts as 'creatively black tie.'

maybe I can steal the Man's bowtie and wear it over a ripped tshirt and jeans. Maybe I haven't the gumption to pull it off. damn. Okay, let's get realistic: I own one skirt and one shirt (hem ripped) that qualifies,

I drag out the box of "Cannot Wear With Nursing Child" clothes. Hmm. Okay, I have a dress with spaghetti straps and tiny jacket. Black, of course, and from the days when I thought that worked. Oh. Strap broken. Damn, damn, and dippity doo dah damn. I fling on a wierd caftan thing from the box and stomp around the room.

The Man pokes his head in the room, warily, and mutters something. What? I screech. Um, that looks nice, he says - and escapes before I can walk him through a point by point lecture on the Evils of the Closet.

Sigh. This is what happens when the owner of the magic closet gives a party, and I am forced to dress myself. Maybe I'll bring in my second string fashionista: the Eldest.

okay, the Eldest says to wear the jacket-dress. I'll sew up the strap and hope for the best - oh, bugger. Shoes. Hose. Do I own swanky shoes? Do people really do this on a regular basis?

I don't know which I'm enjoying more - sneering at this guy, or the concerted slam from the allergy moms in the comments section. Heh.

and this article on the ecological issues around diapers. Cloth or disposible? Not so simple, given who is producing the evidence:

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I'm cold, but you can't make me -

Hmm. Where to begin? How about here:

Two weekends in a row, we've shuffled our way down to New York, for various reasons. By the end of the second, the Eldest turned to me and asked, plaintively, "Can we go back home now?" Sure, kid. No problem.

But by the time we got out the door, tempers were flaring.
child: I don't wanna wear my gloves! I don't like my gloves! Nooooo!
mama (clenched teeth, mentally counting audience members and adapting accordingly): Okay, then don't wear them. This is a choice you can make.
child: But I don't want to wear my coat! NOOOOOOO!
mama (teeth beginning to crack, jaw aching): okay, no coat. Be cold. This, too, is a choice you can make. But we're leaving now.

(five minutes later, in the car)
child: I'm cold. I want my coat and my gloves and my hat. I'm cooooold.
mama (grimly): Your coat and gloves and hat are on the floor of the car, where you flung them.
child: Why did you let me put them there? I'm so coooold.
mama (with a certain amount of satisfaction): This was your choice, and not my problem.
child: (wails)
Man (furiously): This is not my problem, either, but I'm driving. So everyone get their grumpies out RIGHT NOW.

pause, while mama and child consider this. Eventually,
mama (carefully): Does 'everyone' include you?

Mama and Man burst into laughter. Meanwhile,
child: I don't understand why you are laughing. Stooooooooop it! I'm coooooold!

More laughter, with the underlying tempo of insulted huffing from the back seat.


In the bathtub:

Mum, why do we have Purim?

A maternal voice spins a tale of careless, silly kings, a woman afraid of admitting her heritage and a vizier with a nasty case of anitsemitism.

Do we have kings?

Carefully, the mother explains about the varying levels of people responsible for the nation, the states, the cities, and how we each choose, or vote, to give these people power. Or not.

But no king?

No. No king.

Then we can do whatever we want!

Sigh. No. I'm still in charge, the mother reminds the child, who grumps and refuses to get out of the rapidly cooling tub. Case in point, perhaps?

Dinner tonight, which I did not eat until it was cold, being off to Mayyim Hayyim, an experience I'm surprised to be able to recommend. I thought a mikva was supposed to be, well, rushed, slightly unpleasant and very, very chlorinated. Hm. Must reevaluate - preferably over another bowl of this:

Monk's Curry
adapted oh so slightly from the rebar modern food cookbook, pg 48, 184. Serves at least 4, assuming they eat eggplant. Most of mine, apparently, do not - anyone up for leftovers? When I got home, the house still smelled heavenly.

1 block tofu, cut into cubes
1 can coconut milk - I used the lower fat kind
4 Tb green curry paste (what, you don't have any? see below - it'll take you all of six minutes - four to chop, one to blend)
1/2 cup water
2 potatoes, chunked
1 Tb brown sugar
2 carrots, sliced
2 Tb soy sauce
1 onion, sliced
4 Tb olive oil
1 eggplant, cubed
6 oz mushrooms - plain are fine
4-6 baby bok choy, quartered
1 bunch scallions, sliced
juice of 1 lime
4-6 kaffir lime leaves

Heat a wok or deep skillet, toss in olive oil and heat. Saute eggplant, mushrooms, onion until browned a bit - don't feel obliged to let them cook through, though. Dump in a bowl and set aside.
Pour about 1/3rd the can of coconut milk into skillet, adding curry paste. Stir, letting heat up. When it starts to bubble, add lime leaves, water, potatoes and cover. Simmer gently, until potatoes are tender (about 8 minutes).

Add sugar, soy sayce, mushrooms, onions, eggplant, carrots and the rest of the coconut milk. Refill the coconut milk can with water and dump that in, too. Cover and let simmer until carrots are tender (about 10 minutes).

Add tofu, bok choy and scallions - cook until bok choy is wilting and sauce is thickening. Hopefully, this will happen more or less at the same time, but if you have to choose, stop when the bok choy is ready. Add lime juice before serving, a handful of basil leaves (if you like).

Serve with rice.

green curry paste
I kow understand the sad shake of Ian's head when he arrived in my kitchen and found it to be curry paste-less. A jar of this stuff is now perfuming my fridge, and I'm planning my next dip into it already. The notes on the recipe say that it's good for "Thai coconut curries," which as far as I can tell, means any curry with coconut milk. I might be wrong, but I'm looking forward to finding out.

1 Tb whole coriander seed
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp peppercorns (I used mixed, for a milder flavor)
4 cloves garlic
2 inches fresh ginger root, sliced
1 chopped onion
2 stalks lemongrass, outer layers removed (ruthlessly) and chopped as best you can (barely)
4 scallions, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
6 kaffir lime leaves
juice of 1 lime
1/3rd cup olive oil
optional: 1 bunch cilantro

Before you use your wok/deep skillet for the curry, roll the spices around in it, over low heat. Once you can smell them (a minute? two?), they are done. Let them cool a minute, then drop them in a food processor. Blend until the rattling sound sounds less like pebbles and more like sand. Call that 'ground.'

Toss in everything else. Blend until you are tired of it - our paste is more chunk than paste, but I suspect it is just fine that way. Keep it in a jar in the fridge until you need it. Or open occasionally to huff.

Friday, February 16, 2007

moo I say moo I say moo I say moo

In case you were wondering, a cow says....moo

Or so says the Eldest, checking one of the many books piled next to him.

A sheep says baa he says earnestly.
(pause) A cow says?
(imperious tone) A cow says???
Toddles, sensing a cue: mooh.

In the kitchen, a Mama grins. Her conclusion? The Eldest is hungry, and wants a snack. Clever lad, to have figured out that mere demands won't do it - coin of the realm is Toddle-sitting.

Next up: Barnyard Dance, courtesy of the marvellous Miz Boynton. And yes, the Eldest does voices.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

catharsis completed

Time for a quick check:

allergies still there - check
new, unlikely dosage of clotting protein (9 ccs of liquid? hah) stands - check
schools still undecided (child #1) - check
school still decided (child #2) - check
dissertation trying to eat its way out of brain - check
car partly buried in ice - check
grumpy about it all - check no, wait - hmn. Let's try that one again.
depressed and angry about it all - no. Can't be bothered. That, after all, is what blogging is for.

Got to go take batch of bread #1 out of the oven. Got to stick batch #2 into the oven. Got to pack to see Mirrie in NYC, where she is doing a fine imitation of a human being who got accidentally married to another human being who happens to be a rabbi. Holiness optional.

They are scrubbing their fridge. They are making lists and checking them thrice, and my heart glows. Meanwhile, my mother is testing out a batch of gluten-free, vegan chocolate pudding cake - and she is doing so calmly. This morning, the Eldest and I had a perfect stick - a new vein, a tricky spot, and a pair of people working together. It balanced out the wailing, angry mess we'd made of the last factor day, when I missed the vein and the Eldest screeched indignance over the maternal failure. No, it outweighs it. It's easy to cry - it's harder to work together, to shape something positive in light of adversity. And, of course, chocolate.

Order may never reign around here, but we do have the oddest pockets of calm. With this one comes a shabbat of happy chatting with one of my dearest friends, menfolk fulfilling their roles as Nature intended - babysitting while the wimmenfolk talk.

Made a raw foods caesar salad, based on this recipe:

Here is my version:

The Rabbi Came to Lunch (vegan) Salad
1 large bunch spinach (well, well washed) or 1 head romaine, torn
1/2 cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 lemon, juiced (note: some people like this dressing lemonier than others - taste and decide!)
1 tsp mustard - not the bright yellow stuff, I'm begging you
4 TB extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp sea salt (crunchier than table salt, also kinder to the corn allergic)
1 avocado, sliced
Optional: kickass garlic croutons - made my first vegan, gluten free batch yesterday, and the kids and I ate them all! So cute to see the Toddles jonesing for some garlicy, crunchy goodness.

Toss greens, avocado, croutons (if using) in a bowl. In a food processor, blend the heck out of the remaining ingredients. Keep blending until it looks almost frothy and thick - this is, I believe, called the emulsification process. Call it Jim Doyle if you like, it certainly makes the dressing smooth and lovely.

Toss enough dressing with salad to just coat the leaves (you'll have about 1/4th to 1/3rd of the dressing left over). If using sunflower seeds instead of pumpkin, you may need to adjust the flavor with a bit of extra olive oil and curry powder.

oh yes, and while we're on the subject of food...the best dietary advice I've seen yet is here. For the Eldest, I simplified the matter. I told him to try and count three colors on the table, and to eat a bit of each.

The inimitable joy sent me also to these: and Reading, I love the Vegan LunchLady - I wish I made cute, funky lunches like she does! But it's painful to see the stuff she makes - that corn and black bean salad looks amazing...oh, wait. Corn. Beans. But what about the really neat dragon sandwich? No, wait, wheat.

I have got to get better at this insane vegan, gluten-free, allergy thing. I want to make dragon sandwiches! Maybe I'll find solace over here: Pretty sure he's not talking about gluten (grr)...or star-shaped jicama slices (oooh).

Thursday, February 01, 2007

standing still

In case anyone is wondering, the By George bread works amazingly well as a bready tart crust for our Heavenly Onions, Oh! onion tart (much rewritten from a NY Times recipe). Increase the sugar to 1/3rd, decrease the yeast to 2 tsp, and only let it have the in-oven rise, then shape it gently against the sides and bottom of a greased springform pan. Bake the crust in the oven at 400, for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, saute four sliced onions in olive oil until browning. Add about a half cup to a cup of soy/dairy milk, and 2 tsp fresh thyme, salt and pepper. Pour onions into the baked crust. Bake again, until warmed through (10? 15 minutes?).

But this is entirely besides the point.

Sigh. Right now, my life exhausts me. And where *is* that cabana boy with that backrub?

The days slide up and down the emotional scale, from 'just cleaning it up, Mum' where I glow at the Eldest's sense of responsibility to the horror when I see that he is, in fact, cleaning up a shattered glass bowl. Maybe too much sense of responsibility, eh?

Mostly, however, it feels like we're standing still.

After years of caution, we retested the Eldest for his milder allergens: beef, lentils, chickpeas, green peas - with some other legumes tossed in for good measure. He obligingly raised hives to all of his known allergens, but declined to react to the other legumes. The tech doing the skin testing was content. I was irked beyond measure. All of that care, all of that energy and time and still, still? he's allergic?

Apparently, when I said (over and over and over and over) that I wasn't letting myself be hopeful, I lied.

After over two years of training, we're still calling in the home care nurses to help with clotting factor infusions. They come, reassure us that our kid has tough veins, that the veins disappear with cold, flatten with viruses, become unusable under bruises - it really doesn't matter *how* true this all may be, the bottom line is that it's been over two years, and we're still calling the nurses for help. And staying home for hours, waiting for them, rearranging our schedules and awarenesses around the idea of hemophilia. Bah, humbug.

We're standing, frozen, waiting for the pluralist school to make a choice. But they sent a letter warning us and other prospective families that they had so many children that a lottery system was going to be used. Damnit. I was counting on merit. After all, the kid oozes merit, he's a walking object lesson in community building, he's a frigging heroic sweetie who also happens to be a smart, interesting person.

We needed that merit. Especially since we're obviously no good at luck. One in ten thousand? bang, that's us. One in thirty thousand? We can do that for ya. Eight out of a hundred? Yup, we're there. Twice. This past spring, three families entered a lottery that would send two families to a hemophilia conference. We, of course, were one of the three - and we lost. Yup, not so good on the lucky thing. Depending, of course, on how you define 'luck'...

And don't even begin to ask me to describe the battle royal that has begun over back-up schools. Suffice to say that I'm filling out a lot of forms, for a lot of schools. Once we know what the true options are, rather than the preferences, we'll figure this out.

While the question of luck is debated at home, in the hemophilia clinic, we're arguing over what constitutes normalcy. What is normal for a kid like the Eldest? Is our goal to protect him against joint and head bleeds? Against muscle bleeds? Should we write off a certain number of bleeds as part of the development of this child, and if so, when do we cross the line from normal breakthrough bleeding into bleeding that requires action? Eventually, the dust will settle there, too. Preferably with a prophylactic treatment regimen that satisfies me (note: 'me,' not the doctors who might be watching the price tag, not the insurance company which is busy recoiling in horror at our current costs. Screw 'em - I want my kid to be able to fall down. A lot.)

And in the library, we debate the question of what is safe for a child with allergies to the most common ingredients in American food: corn and wheat.

Today, the Toddles zipped over and grabbed a pretzel stick that another child had left lying around. He looked at it admiringly, and stuck it in his mouth just as I launched myself at him. (The upside to watching bits of the Super Bowl - it was a good tackle.) He's sleeping peacefully now, full to the gills with Benadryl, but do we go back to the library? Do we ask to have snacks banned? Do I watch him like a hawk and hope that I'm able to catch him next time?

This is the kind of allergy moment that stops you in your tracks. On the way home, I found myself breathing and mentally counting the breaths. Wshoo (one), whooof (two), wshooo (three)....I am calm, I am relaxed, I am zen....

the hell with zen. I want chocolate.

Again, this is all besides the point - as far as the boys are concerned. The Toddles is more interested in his new favorite word, 'buck-cue.' Which, of course, means 'buckle.'

He's pretty good at this one: the buckles on his high chair, his car seat, even the clips on his mittens - yes, these are all buckles. But when he pointed at the childgate and explained that it, too, was a buckkoo, I had to pause. Because he is kind of right.

The Eldest, on the other hand, is loving the Magic Tree House books (volume 14 was cracked tonight) and music. I watched him tonight, dancing to 'In the Mood.' he was loving the jazz, swinging his arms and grinning with joy.

And that is the point.

For those of you who don't like to stand still, I found this over email: Baby Busts a Move