Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Dinner Crib Sheet Revised

My most recent Dinner Crib Sheet!  Same ol', same ol'.  I think it might be time to add some different ones (though, they both still refuse beans of any sort, and Bud won't eat potatoes and Sis doesn't like casserole-type dishes.)

Dinner Crib Sheet

Chicken and Veggie stir fry—saute chicken, add veg and sauce--1 c stock, ¼ c soy, 2 T sesame, 1 T rice vinegar.  Soak Sai Fun noodles in hot water 10 min or serve over rice
Baked Chicken with rice and gravy—15 min @ 500F then 1 c water for 1 1/2hr @ 350 or 6 hr HIGH 2 1 c water  in crockpot; gravy--4 T oil + 4 T flour + 4 c broth
Chicken and Dumplings—dumplings: 2 c flour, 2 t salt, 2/3 c milk, with ½ c milk added to broth
Chicken Noodle/Vegetable/Tortellini Soup—NO tomatoes; add cheese and corn tortillas for Tortilla soup; Goya azafran for "Spanish" soup
Chicken Pot Pie—4T butter, ½ c flour, 4 c stock, veg, cooked chicken, crust @350F for 1 hour (or filling over noodles)
Soy Sauce Chicken and Rice—saute chicken and flavor with soy sauce
Baked Drumsticks —marinate in soy sauce then 1 hr @ 375F (breasts closer to 30 min)
Chicken cutlets—seasoned flour/egg & milk/breadcrumbs @350 for 30 m
Kebabs marinate—1/2 cups oil, lemon juice, soy sauce marinade

Ground Turkey/Beef (beyond tacos and chilli)
Meatloaf/balls—2 lbs beef/turkey, 1 egg, bread crumbs/oats, milk, soy sauce, seasoning, bake at 350F for 45 min
Goulash--saute onions and brown ground meat.  Boil pasta.  Make cheese sauce (I use 1/4 c each butter and flour; 1 cup milk or so, to favored consistency + approx 2 c grated cheese) Combine all ingredients and serve.
Stroganoff—saute onions and mushrooms, add ground meat and water, then sour cream; serve over egg noodles
Ma’s omelet—ground and scrambled egg

Smothered Pork Chops—sauteed with onions and seasonings (w/water for gravy)
Pork & Sweet Potatoes—2 lb roast+ 4 sweet potatoes, garlic, 1 c broth, 1 onion @ 6 hrs LOW in crockpot
Baked Ham—325F for 1 ½+ hours
Pork and Apples—sauté pork and cook with sliced apples
Roasted—pork chops, salt and pepper, broiled 5-10 min each side

Spaghetti Pie—1 c mozz, ½ c ricotta, ¼ c parm, 10 oz. frozen broccoli, ½ lb pasta
Fettuccine w/ cream sauce & ham—1 egg, 1 T milk, 1 T butter, ¼ c cheese--can be Parm or Mozz (can add asparagus or peas)
Mac and cheese--white sauce (equal parts butter & flour, add milk; I use 1/4 c each butter and flour; 1 cup milk or so, to favored consistency) + approx 2 c grated cheese + cooked pasta; optional bake in oven w/panko and cheese
Easy Marinara--28 oz Marzano peeled tomatoes + 5 T butter + 1 yellow onion peeled and halved; simmer for 45 min
Sausage Pasta—saute sausage, onion, peppers, seasonings, oil and toss in pasta

Breakfast for Dinner
Crepes-- 2 eggs, 1 c milk, 1 c flour, 1 T melted butter, 1 T sugar, ¼ t salt
Dutch Babies— 2 eggs, 1 t. oil, ½ c milk, ½ c flour, 2 T sugar, ¼ t salt, ¼ t cinnamon.  10min @ 425F; 5-8min @ 350F
Pancakes—mix plus 1 egg, 1 c milk, 1 T butter
Waffles--3 eggs, 1 c milk, 1/2 c butter, 1 T vanilla, 2 c flour, 1/2 t salt, 1 T powder, 2 t sugar

Other Dinners
Baked Potatoes—pierced, oiled, and salted for 1+ hr @350F (N won’t eat these)
Broccoli Noodle Soup—onions, 6 c broth, 8 oz noodles, 2 pkg frozen broccoli, 6 c milk, 1 lb cheese
Cowboy supper—layers of red potatoes, carrots, onion, sausage, bell pepper, cabbage in beer/stock
Brisket—4+lbs w/potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, stock, 2 bay leaves on LOW 8-10
Welsh rarebit—8 oz cheddar, 3 T milk/ale, 1 tsp mustard poured on toast
Quiche--3-4 eggs, 2 big spoons sour cream, cheese, protein/nuts, veg (def. frozen spinach) in crust @ 350F for 45 min
Potato and Greens soup—butter, oil, leeks, kale/greens, potatoes (even chicken or beef), stock
Winter Veg Soup—kale, potatoes, white beans, diced tomatoes, stock
One Pan Dinner—chix breasts/pork chops, potatoes, broccoli, green beans etc, olive oil bake 350F for 30-45
Roast Veg—gb, asparagus, broccoli, potatoes, yams (w/brown sugar & cinnamon), carrots with oil and salt/pepper at 375+F for 30 mins+

Italian Wedding Soup—meatballs, stock, kale, orzo

Monday, April 24, 2017

Seasonal Hobbies

When I'm not chaffeuring kids or doing any of my volunteer work or chores and errands, I am exploring a few new hobbies, which change a little with the season (I crochet more during the colder months, but I do have a spring project.)  And there's always piano.  I don't read as much as a). people seem to think I do or b). I'd like.  I do have several on my kindle and proverbial night stand--a book on the porcupine theory of parenting, a book by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich on Mormon women in the 19th century, a history of stone walls in New England, a travel essay book on recreating the Oregon Trail, and who knows what else, really.

I just signed up for a class in recognizing bird songs through the orinthological lab at Cornell.  As I was following the sample lesson on the American robin ("cheerily, cheerily, cheer up, cheerily, cheer up"), the cats went nuts!  Soon, Albus was at my shoulder and Hermione was at my feet, both with big wide eyes.  They kept looking around trying to locate the singing bird.  For the cats' response alone, I signed up for the class!

I still have my weekly Natural Singer lessons, either audio or video alternating.  I do the audio ones more often because I can play them on my phone as I do chores around the house.  I don't know if I'm improving, but I do have more confidence.  I'm a better singer if I do it accapella than if I try to sing along to something, becauseI can't keep up with the words or the breathing.  Still, I'd rather sing along to my favroite songs.

With the good weather, we're doing more bike riding.  Mama has worked out some local trails that we can all do (wide and flat.)  I'll need some more practice before I can really do a long ride.

And then there's my Yoga Dance class!  I think this is my first exercise class ever, unless you count a few seasons of ballroom dancing.  I'm not sure it's an exercise class in the truest sense of the word, nor a yoga class either.  It's more of a free-form movement class with some more choreographed segments.  And there's an overlay of mysticism (is that the word?), with references to chakras (which here has to do with slower or faster, abdomen or arms, etc.)  I love it.  I knew I'd found my people when, during the first lesson, the teacher would move left and some of the class moved left and some moved right!  See, I always follow the teacher, as a mirror, not going the way she is going, i.e. to right or left.  I can't do it, or even explain it!  Anyway, it begins with some mat time and then lots of dance--sometimes based in yoga poses like Warrior 2 or Goddess (I don't really know their names), sometimes free-flowing, sometimes a class form (like a promenade)--and then some final mat stretches.  I wear a skirt because I like the swishing feeling, with bike shorts underneath.  And these little grip socks so I don't slip.  What's not to like?

Weekend Sports Warriors

It was a weekend of activity for us.  Sis had her first horse show of the season on Saturday, a home show which was kind of a dress rehearsal for the rest of competition.  She rode Steeler, which made her happy; through, really, riding any of them--Tucker, Pooh, Murphy, Brooke, Levi--would make her happy.  In fact, I'm convinced that she'd be just as glad to be around them as ride them.  Horse love is strong with that one.  She earned third and fourth places in equitation (don't ask, I don't know) and then first and second places in pole jumping.  She was very pleased, even commenting that she had one of each color now (which is what I said about swim meet ribbons decades ago!)   She stayed afterwards to help with clean up and to hang out with the other riders.  She loves it all.

On Sunday, Bud had a kung fu performance at a local college's dragon festival.  It was outside, which was a bit of a surprise, but it was at least a beautiful day (it had rained Saturday, so Sis's horse thing was inside.)  Bud performed his fist, broad sword, nine chain, and straight sword forms.  There was some trouble with the mats on the concrete--they kept slipping, making the kids recalibrate their forms to adapt.  We were afraid someone was going to be injured during a jump.  Bud landed funny on a cartwheel and hurt his ankle some, but he is better this morning.  He loves kung fu.  And we love watching him.  Any performance is a great learning experience, even one that is less than ideal.  He isn't competing this May, because of the school play, so now he can enjoy the sport instead of stressing over form for a few weeks.  He'll like that.

Friday, April 21, 2017


Just some short stories, as I mull over my post on schools, leveling, racism, and my kids' future.

But first, something from yesterday on my historic house tour.  There was a beautiful moment that solidified for me why we work so hard to try to get the tours right for our students. We were in the keeping room and one of the students had asked me if the characters in the Reader's Theater were real, historical people. The answer is yes, though the scenario is imagined, and so I went through the list explaining who each one was. I explained that we had specifically included a free African-American businessman who really ran a fishing business on our river, because we wanted students to hear more than that there were slaves in Connecticut living in the basement of other historic houses--that some slaves became free, and also that some people of color hadn't been slaves and even owned businesses. And this little African-American boy sitting at my feet whispered, "Because black lives matter." And I said louder, so the whole class could hear, "Yes, black lives do matter."  It's why my colleagues and I do what we do.


We went to the Bronx Zoo over spring break on one of the beautiful spring days.  Mama and Sis went in search of the big cats while Bud and I went to the penguins.  Call it method acting research for his part as a penguin in the school play!  We all met up to do the bug carousel, butterflies and gorillas, who had several new babies among them.  I teased Bud that he was like a baby gorilla, very clingy on mom when he's asleep.  On vacations, I often share the small hotel double bed with him and he's a heat-seeking missile, rolling my way constantly; I guess I'm an adequte substitute for his Mr. Big penguin, who doesn't travel.  It's actually pretty cute.


We tried something new with egg-dyeing this year.  Instead of the traditional vinegar-and-color-tablet, we did three different kinds of eggs.
  • Whipped-cream eggs:  Soak boiled eggs in vinegar for 3-5 minutes.  Meanwhile, spread whipped cream (or shaving cream) on cookie sheet.  Dot with liquid food coloring and swirl with wooden skewer.  Roll eggs in cream and keep them covered for 30 minutes.  They were beautiful until we washed off the cream and the color came off, too.  We'd try again, though.
  • Nail-polish eggs:  In disposable conatiners filled with water, we dropped and swirled different colors of nail polish.  We then dropped the egg through the water.  It would have been better if we'd had the little wire scoopers from the Paas kits to retrieve the eggs.  As it was, our hands were covered in nail polish.  And the room stank.  But the eggs were lovely.
  • Later, without the kids, I tried the crayola trick--warm hardboiled eggs in hot water and then write on them with crayon, which will melt onto egg.  Meh, it just looked like I'd colored on the egg.  Maybe my eggs weren't hot enough.
The Bunny liked them all, though.  This year she didn't put anything in all the plastic eggs, just left a reward at the end of the hunt.

Thursday, April 20, 2017


Spring break was relaxing and wonderful.

School has been crazy this week, mainly because of a big controversy in town that has many parents upset.  Mama and I are figuring out what our plans are.

Easter, the Bronx Zoo, bike riding.  Plus all the usual Girl Scouts, kung fu, speedskating, horses, piano . . . and my new Yoga Dance class.

And today is the first day of historic house tours!  I've been running around this week finalizing set up and a new Reader's Theater script we're going to be presenting.


At least we didn't get the flu, even after being exposed to Gong (who only found out later he was sick.)

Friday, April 7, 2017

Spring Break

Spring Break starts in about three and a half hours.  I know we're all ready.  We've been going at it pretty hard in the last few weeks, even the fun stuff.  And we could all use some sleep and R&R.  By "we" here, I mean the kids and me.  Mama doesn't have any time off before next Friday.  And then we'll do Easter prep and a big meal with her parents here on Saturday and the Bunny will be here before Sunday morning.

Until then, I'm doing a little planning, both for spring break and the Easter prep meal.  Here's what I've come up with.

Ideas for a Spring Break at Home (beyond video games)
  • bicycle riding
  • a hike/nature walk at a nearby park
  • teaching the kids how to quill
  • baking/cooking
  • game night
  • sea glass search and kite flying at the beach
  • puzzle (for those rainy days)
  • garden clean up (it's way too early to plant)
  • nostalgia time with Lego sets?
  • home movie night
  • maybe a trip into the city to see the new miniatures exhibition?  or the Central Park Zoo?
  • and, of course, there will be movies (Sing! perhaps)

Easter Meal Ideas
  • ham with madeira and green peppercorn sauce?  Trying to find the recipe Mama used last year (I've been inconsistent in blogging recipes, which is most frustrating when I can't find them.)
  • macaroni and cheese or scalloped potatoes
  • green beans?  
  • green salad
  • almond bundt cake?  or some other yummy baked good.  Every time Smitten Kitchen posts a new baked good, I want to make it; my list is long.
  • rolls
  • deviled eggs
  • roasted nuts? chex mix?

I think this might be the recipe, adapted from a book called All About Braising by Molly Stevens.

Ham with Madeira and Green Peppercorn Sauce

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 medium yellow onions (12 ouncew total), coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1 heeaping tablespoon green peppercorns, in brine, rinsed and drained
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
four 3 inch leafy fresh rosemary sprigs
2 small or 1 large bay leaf
1 cup dry madeira, such as sercial or rainwater
1 cup chicken or veal stock, homemade or store bought
one 6 to 8 pound bone in ham, fully or partially cooked, preferably shank or rump

1. Heat the oven to 300 degrees

2. The aromatics: in a large dutch oven or deep braising pan (7 quart) large enough to hold the ham, heat the oil over medium high heat. when the oil is shimmering, add the carrot, onions, and celery. saute, stirring a few times, untilo the vegetales brown on the edges and begin to soften, about 10 minutes. add the peppercorns, garlic rosemary and bay leaft, stir and saue for another 2 minutes

3. The braising liquid: pour in the maderia and bring to a boil lower the heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes to meld the flavors and reduce the liquid somewhat. pour in the stock, bring to a simmer and simmer for another 5 minutes

4. The braise: whether you bought a fully cooked or partially cooked (sometimes labeled "ready to cook") ham will affect the cooking time. lower the ham into the pot, setting it eithe flat side down or on its side, whichever fitw beswt. cover tightly with the lid or heavy duty foil and slide the pot into the lower part of the oven. for a fully cooked ham, braise until fork tender and heted lo l the way through, abut 1 hour and 45 minutes. for a partially cooked ham, braise until the ham is fork tendr and an instnt red thermometer read 155 degrees when inserted in the thickest part of the ham, closer to 2 1/2 hours (be careful that the thermometer does not hit the bone, which will give you a falsely high reading)

5. The finish: transfer the ham to a platter and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. strain the braising liquidf, and discard the vegetables - they will be too salty. skim as much fat from the surface of the braiswing liquid as yu can withyout losing patience. taste, if the liquid tasts a bit weak, pour it into medium saucepan and simmer to reduce until it tastes like a mild broth, 10 to 15 minutes. if the liquid is already tasty as is, set if over a low burner to keep warm. the sauce will not need any salt - in fact, if you do reduce it, be careful not to go too far, as it can quickly become too salty.

6. Serving: carve the ham into think slices and erve warm or at room temperture with a bit of the warm sauce spooned over the top.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Our Last Winter Weekend

It was raining in Connecticut but snowing in Vermont where we were staying last weekend.  Sixteen inches, in fact.  Beautiful!  And Vermont is wonderful about keeping the roads clean, though less devoted to stairs and paths--mainly because everyone is hearty and in boots, I think.  (I can't imagine what folks with mobility issues do up there.)  I loved having a last winter hiatus, especially as I type this in the middle of a Connecticut spring rainstorm.  An added bonus?  Uncle Goo joined us.

A few highlights:

  • SNOW!  Oh how I love snow.  Snow on the evergreens, snow on the fields, snow on the houses, snow on the mountains.  Falling gently.  I watched it most of Saturday.  I was, however, unprepared for the hugs glacial chunks sliding off the unique Vermont metal roofs with disturbingly-loud thuds.  Frightened me the first few times.  Surprised us all.  Who know you had to watch for falling icebergs?  Turns out, all Vermonters know (because apparently there are tragic accidents every year.)  

  • So, we were very prepared for the snow, with all of our winter gear.  I even did alright in my boots, with my crampons on.  But, my coat had been left behind, which we didn't realize until we were there.  Thankfully, Goo had an extra jacket that would keep me dry and under which I could wear layers for warmth.  Saved the weekend because, though we checked, there weren't many coats left on the sale racks.  
  • I love the VERMONT COUNTRY STORE!!!  Sure, it's a touristy institution, but I love the diversity of goods from soups to nuts, hats to hand lotion.  We got our usual favorites--Vermont Common Crackers, "Today's Cut" cheese, Vermont Summer Sausage, chocolates for the kids--and a few other things like a little pair of earrings for me, vanilla orchid hand lotion, wild blackberry lip balm, a carousel tin of caramels (I have a thing for carousel tins.)
  • MacLaomainn's Pub:  our evening meal on Friday at the local, family-friendly Scottish pub, owned by a real Scotsman.  Goo got haggis, which Bud loved.  The rest of us had less adventurous fare--cock a leekie soup, auld reekie beef stew, bangers and mash, mince with tatties and skirlie (an onion-and-oats saute), and sticky toffee pudding.  SO good.  
  • Games, games, games.  How is it that I belong to a family of gamers?  Goo loves them, all types.  The kids and Mama are a bit more selective but will try most any game once.  We played Uno, Oregon Trail, and Snake Oil.  In Oregon Trail, I "died" of a snake bite and Bud wrote my tombstone like a FB post.  "Marmee died of a snake bite.  Comments (1) So Sad.  14 likes."!!!!!  Snake Oil has you pitching fantastical products (using the item cards you are dealt) to a customer with a particular profile (hermit, rap star, Viking, mortician, etc.)  Goo was wonderful at voices and banter.  The best product?  A "Meat Beard" for a Viking.  There were also computer games--Goo brought his new Nintendo Switch and Bud got to play a bit of the new Zelda game, Breath of the Wild.  He was ecstatic and talked Zelda all weekend.
  • SKIING  Mama and Sis hit the slopes at Killington, while the rest of us did our own thing.  I crocheted and Zentangled; Bud and Goo went off wandering together.  The first day of skiing was very hard and challenging, with snow falling and lots of powder.  Sis, who had taken to it immediately, had a lot of trouble with it.  But the next day was beautiful--blue skies and groomed slopes--and she persevered and had so much fun on the slopes.  She and Mama met one of Mama's coworkers who took them on the most appropriate trails.  Sis learned a bunch from him (he skies almost weekly and has a house up there; the mountains are his backyard.)

  • I went on a mountain peak!  For most of the ski time, I sat in the K1 lodge at the bottom (well, not the very bottom) and crocheted while watching the beautiful snow.  It was just amazing to see the skiiers and snowbaorders.  And I had a beautiful view of a little rivulet and some trees.  But on Sunday afternoon, I went with everyone on the gondola up to the very top of Killington.  I was petrified at first, not liking heights, but I got used to it. And when I could look out--to the peaks of New Hampshire and also New York--it was amazing.  I didn't quite like walking around on the snowpack, scared of falling off a mountain, but I did love the view.  I admit to shedding several tears at the sight (and for my pride of quite literally conquering the mountain, so to speak.)   

  • GLASSBLOWING:  Mama finds the most interesting activities and is the best travel agent.  We were all excited by our personal glassblowing lesson at Hot Glass in Manchester.  It really is an amazing process.  And though I'd seen the like on tv and studied the glass of Egyptians, Romans, and Gothic cathedrals, it's amazing to make the magic with your own hands.  Though, I was definitely very wary of the molten glass and hot steel.  But no burns.  And we made the most amazing articles:  Goo made a blue carafe; I made an "opal rose" and white flat-bottomed vase; Mama made a forest green and white cylindrical vase; Bud made a red and white wavy bowl; Sis made a pink and teal regular bowl.  Bud's was the most amazing to watch, as he and our teacher dipped his molten sphere in a wavy mold and then spun out the now-wavy lump that flared into a beautiful bowl.  We picked them up the next day and they're all lovely.  

  • Country Girl Diner and Sugar & Spice:  two more delicious meals, both with pancakes!  Country Girl Diner is even in an old polished-chrome dining car.  
  • We were supposed to go dog sledding, but the heavy snow coupled with some quick meltage made conditions unsafe for the dogs.  Next time.  Besides, with the free time, we were able to take that gondola ride.  And I have a feeling we'll be back in Vermont next winter!