Monday, July 17, 2006

This is Not a Cooking Blog

I have yet another request for a recipe. What better way to get people to read this blog than when I'm asked for a recipe. I promise not to get in the habit, but really you'll love this recipe too if you are swimming in seasonal cabbage. Adapted from Gourmet Magazine 2002.

5 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 -2 tsp minced fresh Serrano chili (or jalapeno)
1 tsp finely grated ginger
1 1/2 tsp asian sesame oil
1 1/2 lb cabbage ( whole head)
1/4 lb snow peas very thinly sliced in lengthwise strips (1cup)
1/4 red bell pepper cut into matchsticks

whisk together first 6 ingredients
add all others and allow them to wilt for 30 minutes. Serve cold

Saturday, July 15, 2006

A Great Indian Recipe for GREENS! Palak Paneer

Eating seasonal produce is heroic work. Some friends and I joined a produce co-op called "Farm to Market". The idea is to skip the middle man- buy direct organic or low spray produce that is delivered to local farmers markets. It's been fun so far, we never know what we are going to get. I'm challenged every week to use the produce since I hate to waste food. We get a ton of vegetables in season, which has made cooking a lot of fun, and healthy too. Here is my recipe that I got from taking cooking classes at a local Indian grocery store.

Palak Paneer (I skip the Paneer and add either tofu or chick peas) also called Saag Paneer when made with spinach.

6 cups of cooked greens (mustard greens great) boil a few minutes then squeeze out extra water
3 large onions coarsely chopped
7 large garlic cloves sliced
1 walnut sized ginger peeled and coarsely chopped
6 tsp oil
28 oz can chopped tomatoes

cook onions in oil till soft (about 7-10 minutes)
add garlic and ginger and cook a few minutes more
add the tomatoes and the following spices:

2 tbsp coriander powder
1 1/2 tbsp cumin seed powder
1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper (I use a little less)
1/2 tbsp turmeric
1 tsp salt or more to taste

Bring to a boil the quickly add 1 cup of plain yogurt - a half cup at a time
one small carton of heavy cream

Chop up the greens and add to the above. Cook another 15 minutes. Blend with a food mill or put through a blender. Add tofu, Indian cheese, chick peas, or what ever you wish. Serve over rice.

Makes a ton.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Letting People Down

A guest editorial from Karen Marsh

I just had to make a decision, together with my husband, with no good options to choose from. The best advice I received was from my neighbor, who looked me in the eye and said something along the lines of "If you need to make a hard decision for yourself, one that impacts you in a deep and true way, choosing what is best for you is going to be what is best for others." Hearing this was soothing to my soul. When we first faced the decision, which was whether or not to go through with the adoption of two sweet and wonderful girls who have been living with us for the past 3 days, my husband's heartfelt input was, "We made a commitment to these girls. I don't like it, but I think we owe it to them to uphold that commitment." And I think that was also a very valid statement, but it made me sick to my stomach to hear it.

In the time since my husband first made that comment, we have talked at length, and he has talked about his tendency to react to tough demands on himself by ducking down his head and ploughing through, out of duty. I have done that at times too, and I suppose we both know we are capable of doing it. Sometimes you do it because you know that what you're doing will help someone else, or you just got yourself into something that's going to be pretty hard to get out of. I did it to get through summer as a girl scout camp assistant director. I know that my husband has done it to get him through things that were important to me. So, the question is, is it a good practice? I think sometimes yes and most times no. I think it can work for something that has a defined end, preferably not too far off, but if you're not happy, it's going to come out in many ways -- it's like trying to keep a pot from bubbling over if it's too full over a hot flame. You can't. That hot liquid will seep out the top and spill over. And the longer you keep that flame burning, the more likely you are to have a boil-over.

So, how does all this relate to StuntMom? Well, I wrote an article about the importance of acting as a "private instructor" for your kids a little while back, which sparked a bit of dialogue, and it came to mind as I was getting through this. If the choice to stay home with kids or continue to work outside the home affects you in a deep and true way, I think you need to make the choice that enables you to live the life you want to live. I guess that in the end, I am going to concur with a fellow StuntMom reader/contributor, who said it in another way -- "Happy parents make happy kids." I do still think, though, that my neighbor's wise words can be abused. After all, you could use them to justify just about any choice. But we do all know when something hits us in the deepest spot it can. It was a feeling that I hadn't felt for a long time and that I hated to remember. Now that we have reached our decision, I still feel awful, but I no longer feel sick.

In closing, I think I need to explain why the adoption idea started to feel bad, though I still don't know how it will be explained to the girls. Fortunately, there are experts involved who will be guiding the process. In essence, it had nothing to do with the girls and everything to do with me. And yes, all the people who warned us that we were getting in over our heads were right. I am embarassed that I couldn't see that before I was in the thick of it. We have two birth children, ages 2 and 4, and the girls we planned to adopt are 3 and 5. We had not visited with the girls for longer than 5 waking hours at a time until this last visit which decided everything. This time, we were to have them visit for 4 days, and then the girls were going to move in permanently after going back to their old home for 4 last days. The first full day with the girls was honestly the first time I had any doubts about what we were doing, and they were big, heavy thoughts that slammed into me like a Mac truck. All the habits, wants and interests of the girls seemed so different than the routine that we have established over our years together -- it was strangely unsettling and felt like a runaway train. Also, I had really done the math wrong on the volume of work involved. A second child definitely didn't double our work-load. In fact, it now seems easier to have two than one, but with 4 in the house, it seemed that the volume of work increased tenfold; and the number of accidents, too. Of course, there's much more to it, and I've already gone on too long. Bottom line is that maybe I could have worked to bring our worlds together, to love the girls as my own (and I do already care about them deeply), and to reign in some of the tendencies that have likely grown out of the hard knocks they've already been dealt in life, but I think that I would be giving up much more of myself than would feel good, and I think too many other important aspects of my life, and my interactions with important people in my life, would suffer.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

For Sale

I sold a sculpture last week! I know, some of you may not know I'm a sculptor, but I really must say I WAS a sculptor at one point in my life. Now it's just metal I move from place to place, with the hope that it doesn't fall on my children while playing. (One day I will go back to making art, but I'm finding time a little out of my reach right now) Our new yard is large enough that I was able to display them- and low and behold, the Cincypeddler purchased one for his fence-less yard. Here is one of my sculptures in his new home (the second I've ever sold).

Thanks for sending the photo--he looks happy.