Saturday, March 08, 2008

disaster preparedness

Note to the Reader:

this is the last post for a few days, as we Imperfects hit the road. We're flying back to Australia on Sunday, again under great-grandmaternal sponsorship, to visit the boys' great-grandmother, my grandmother. Watch this blog for stray koalas, hungry goannas, and the occasional small boy. Upside down!
One of the thing that the Eldest watches me do a lot is plan. I plan for a situation, then for variations on the situation. I plan for back-up, for worst and best case scenarios, and for back-ups to the back-up. I think this is what detail freaks do if they're too stubborn to be worrywarts - or perhaps this is worrywarthood under a different name.

At any rate, I plan. And I involve the Eldest. We talk about how the adults looking after him are trained, and what they know (managing bleeds, using EpiPens, watching for known allergens) and what they don't know (how his body feels, whether there's a hidden allergen in something). And we talk about the safety measures in place, for the things that adults don't know. The Eldest trusts his grown-ups to an astonishing degree, and the impact of that trust is huge.

(pause while I stop to consider for the nth time the extent to which I do not get what it's like to have food be scary, or to have to learn to trust a flawed body. Nope. Still don't quite get it. But I can make some educated guesses.)

At any rate, it turns out that the Eldest himself is a planner. Specifically, for the past two months, he's been part of a flood team [sic], whose job it is to look for floods, and to get everyone ready for when the flood comes. Aha, say I, completely stumped.

Initially, I thought this flood business had something to do with the autumn rains we'd had here. Or his anxiety, which was at a high level for a while. But no and no. His anxiety levels had dropped by the time Flood Watch 2007-08 started, so it wasn't projection from something else. Certainly I heard about it before the kids were studying the Noah story, so that wasn't it - where *had* they gotten the idea? It remains a mystery.

After a couple of months of watching the Eldest eye suspiciously any storm drains, pipes, faucets, rainstorms and other miscellaneous water sources, there was an actual flood - in his school. A pipe burst, water flooded a classroom, and the Eldest (and, I presume, the rest of the flood team) was completely unsurprised. Of course there was a flood, he told me. That's what we were preparing for. Aha again, I said, no wiser than before.

Two days later, he came home bubbling. The flood team has a new mission, he told me. I raised an eyebrow, but kept reading labels (we were in Trader Joe's, shopping haven for the allergic). He was happy to explain. Our new plan is that we're going to stop global warning! I put the canned beans down rather fast. You're going to whatnow? He grinned, having gotten my full attention. Stop. Global. Warning. he said, with careful emphasis. Aha, I said, retreating to my fallback position.

The Eldest warmed to his subject. We just need to figure out how to stop global warming. He thought for a moment. I bet the manager of the store knows! I smiled. The management at this particular Trader Joe's has been very tolerant of my boys, helping me decode allergy risks, letting the boys scan and bag groceries (I was less tolerant of the last), and giving them reams of stickers. Yep, we could ask the manager. But the Eldest, afire with his idea, wasn't going to stop there. No, wait - we could ask everyone in the store how to stop global warming! The kid practically crackled with excitement. Erm, I said. Maybe we could start with the manager? But it was too late.

The Eldest popped up next to a customer and said in his best Polite Kidspeak, excuse me, but do you know how to stop global warming? Behind him, I made energetic 'I had nothing to do with this' gestures. She looked at him, at me, and then back at him, and smiled. Well, she said, I've always liked the idea that you should think globally and act locally. She smiled at me, over the Eldest's head. Good luck, she said sincerely, and made her escape.

I took the musing child home, where he sat thinking while his brother threw Lego at him. Good luck, indeed.
So, what does the world-saving child eat for dinner? Crepes, of course. With refried black beans and guacamole, a quick pineapple salsa and mmm. Now I'm hungry.

Mary's Teff Crepes
makes about 12-15 crepes. Adapted from the world o' gluten by the indomitable Mary Jr, these are quick and easy. And yes, I'd heard how quick and easy crepes are and never believed it, until I saw Mary make these. And then made them myself. They *are* quick and easy.

1 cup chickpea/garbanzo flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup teff flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tb olive oil
2 cups warm water
coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
optional: 2 Tb finely chopped fresh herbs, chives

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours and salt. Add liquids and use cake mixer/immersion blender/food processor/blender to thoroughly blend. Stir in herbs, if using. Allow batter to rest for at least 20 minutes, or stick into fridge and leave it until you need it (ok in fridge for 24 hrs).

Spray with cooking spray and heat a 6-7 inch sauteeing pan or crepe pan, preferably nonstick.

A Quick Note on the Nature of Pans: the size of the pan is mostly important because you are going to hoist and swirl it for each crepe. Too big a pan, and your arm will get tired. Too small a pan and there's not room for the crepe batter to spread itself out. I find my crepes are about 6 inches in diameter, on average, but you can figure this one out for yourself. Try a pan that looks handy, and if it doesn't work for you, then it takes a moment to heat up another.

Have a plate ready for the finished crepes, and a thin edged spatula.

Take a deep breath: the next bit happens quickly, and the first two crepes will be a mess. Just press on for the third, and voila! yumminess. Ready? Pour about 1/4-1/3rd cup of batter into the pan. As you pour, lift the pan right off the flame and start tipping the pan in a circular pattern (think of it as kind of swirling your wrist), to allow the batter to spread out, thinly. The batter will, meanwhile, be cooking where it touches the pan, and so thin is the crepe that it will be cooked almost immediately. Gently, flip the crepe over. You'll be able to see the patterns the batter makes as it spreads itself on the pan side of the crepe - it's fascinating. The second side will need no more than a minute to cook.

Respray your pan between every 2-3 crepes (depending, of course, on the stick/nonstick state of your pan). Crepes can be covered in foil and reheated a day later. Or, frozen in an airtight bag with the air pressed out, and then reheated.


Auntie A said...

Have a wonderful trip! Imagine, the Eldest can now survey a whole new continent for his latest project...

I think crepes are only considered easy in Imperfect Land, or possibly that's just my cooking insecurity talking. But the dinner, as usual, sounds delicious.

Regards to the Ozzie fam!

mama o' the matrices said...

Tell you what, Auntie. Come visit us in Imperfect Land, and I'll teach you crepes. Deal?

Will send much love to the family in Oz, especially one of the uncles.

Auntie A said...

Deal!! Let's discuss when you're back from Oz.