Cooking

Full House

amaretti

amaretti

Man Child has returned from Italy, bearing gifts, stories, love, and cookies.  Lots of cooking going on since he arrived, but the first night it only seemed appropriate to celebrate in traditional New York style.

Wine from Italy, pizza from NY, a perfect pairing in Fringeland

Wine from Italy, pizza from NY, a perfect pairing in Fringeland

The funny part is that this is our favorite local pizza, and while he was in Italy, the local paper of the small, northern town he was in actually had an article about this particular pizza place.  Husband and I got a big kick out of that when we saw MC post the article.

I think Italy was the perfect choice for a first big traveling experience for him.  Beauty, history, food, and the passion that comes from an ancient culture; yup, all him.  It’s kind of funny, despite the fact that English and Spanish are the two languages spoken here at home, Man Child never looks quite as natural as he does when speaking in Italian.

Just a few days after he arrived, Nerd Child came home for his spring break.  Do you hear that? It’s the little chorus of mama-angels singing, all 3 of my chickadees home at the same time for more than a day and a half.

Don't trip!

Don’t trip!

It’s been way too long since we’ve all been together, especially without the stress of just a quick stay or holiday preparations.  Art Child is thrilled.  Both boys!  Bonus, they’ve both been pitching in and doing some of the pick-up/drops-offs getting her to and from school.  Every morning I’ve woken up thinking back to when she was a baby, still not yet able to walk, but as soon as she was able to get herself out of her bed, the boys’ room was her first stop of the day; tiny fists beating on their door while she bellowed, “BOYYYYYYZ!”

I’m mom.  I see the similarities, the commonalities, the passion all three have for politics, humor, love of music, and certain gestures and facial expressions.  Certain things from Husband, certain from me, others I guess just from being raised in the same home.  That said, they’re each different in looks, perspective, and presentation.   Not that life has been all serious all the time, but Man Child and Nerd Child are both quite funny, and they play off each other perfectly.  Both use topical humor, self-deprecating humor (hmm, can’t imagine where they get that from), but Nerd Child is more deadpan, gallows type of funny, one quirked eyebrow to communicate the joke (if each one was born with a parenting manual, his would be titled “Brit-Humor Alert), while Man Child is more about parody, with just the right amount of timeless slapstick.  Art Child is quite droll.  So, the greatest common thread, in my opinion?  Laughter.  I have done more laughing in the past ten days than I have in a long time.

Because of school schedules, neither of my boys have been home on their birthdays in a long time.  The first missed birthday (on their part, there were others missed because I was in the hospital with Art Child) was Man Child’s eighteenth, his school was on break, but he was away on a service trip.  Nerd Child will be turning eighteen soon, but he’ll be back at school by then.  Nerd Child’s friend will be coming to stay with us for a few days this week, and he’ll turn eighteen while he’s here.  Poor guy doesn’t realize he’ll be subject to my frustrated mama sniffling.  So the other day when Man Child suggested he make a cake the following day, I told him to wait, we’ll make a cake for the friend’s birthday in a few days.  *insert awkward pause here*  Why awkward?  Because the following day was Man Child’s birthday.  Sure I realized it just after I said it, but still.  Bad, bad, mama.

Obviously, now I had to make a cake, and not just a cake, but a special cake.  I’ve been making lots of bundt cakes in the past couple of years, but Man Child isn’t enamored of those.  He’s young and energetic, passionate about all things food and baking, and therefore considers bundt cakes cheating.  What would be special?  What would everyone enjoy, that I haven’t done in a while, that wouldn’t break my back?  I used to make a lot of cheesecakes.  I actually own an entire cookbook dedicated solely to different types of cheesecakes.  Ok, I’ll make a cheesecake, and not just any cheesecake, a ricotta cheesecake.  Nice tie-in to him and his time in Italy, no?

That morning he took the girl to school for me.  I made the crust for the cake, and then went with Nerd Child for his eye exam and new glasses.  Afterwards I went and bought a new strainer (my old one is mysteriously missing) so I could get the cheese as dry as possible.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve always found ricotta cakes to be a bit tricky, the texture and moisture levels really have to be perfect.

Don't be deceived.

Don’t be deceived.

Surprise! About forty minutes in, I went to take a peek at how it was going, and I noticed a small puddle forming on the floor, under the right bottom corner of the oven.  I figured someone dropped ice cubes and missed one when cleaning up.  Hmm, this water is mighty slippery.  You could even say greasy.  Turns out there’s a small leak in my springform pan.  Not enough to be noticed when I pre-baked the crust for ten minutes, or when I poured the batter in, but just enough for a slow leak of butter from the crust.   In the space of the 38 seconds it took for me to notice the puddle and determine that it wasn’t melted ice, the oven, kitchen, and hell, most of the whole apartment filled with smoke.  Once the smoke cleared and the danger of fire passed, we stuck the cake in the fridge to chill, hopefully firm in the middle, and generally hope for the best.

Needless to say,

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didn’t quite work.  Not to mention the smoky overtones to the flavor.  As I said, there’s been a lot of laughter.

And this.

lots of this.

lots of this.

Maybe Nerd Child’s friend would like some chocolate pudding to celebrate his eighteenth?

Falling Flat Like my Popovers: New Year’s Resolve

Guayaba-Manchego popover muffin things

Guayaba-Manchego popover muffin things

In my defense, they still taste delicious.  I’ve been working on this recipe, trying to figure out how to get them to hold their shape and not collapse.  They’re like a Caribbean flavored popover.  Honestly, I’ve never been able to get a regular popover to hold its dome either.  I’ve tried preheating the pans, pre-cooling the pans, increasing/decreasing salt, warming the milk–but not totally hot, I don’t understand how people do that without immediately cooking the eggs before the batter is mixed.  Nothing has made a difference.  One day I’ll find actual popover pans in one of the discount places and see if the shape make a difference.  I suspect it won’t.

Here we are, a new year.  Once again I considered making resolutions, but didn’t.  Funny, I don’t think I ever really considered making New Year’s resolutions until I began blogging.  Something about it makes me feel like I should be making grand-yet-attainable declarations of intent.  Hmmm. I’m still doing my yoga, albeit less frequently, with shortened sessions.  I could make a resolution to blog more regularly, but that would suck the joy out of blogging for me.  I’m perfectly content with my sporadic blogging non-schedule.  I could resolve to get back to fiction, open that file I started and work on it, but I’m still not sure I want to.  I’m a regular cranky old gal living a regular cranky old life.  I could resolve to be less cranky, but less cranky = less snarky, where’s the fun in that?

I know!  I resolve to figure out how to access and re-import the thousands of photographs that were on my laptop until three days ago, but are now trapped in this little silver rectangular thing that I’m told is an external hard drive.  For some bizarre reason, I’m supposed to be happy about this–my laptop is now faster than a speeding bullet! more powerful than a locomotive! able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! well, maybe not that last one.  Very nice and all, but I want my pictures back.

For now I offer this Gary Clark Jr video, because we all need great blues to ring in the new year.

 

The Kitchen is now Closed

Jawfish poking his head out of his cave to see if it's all clear

Jawfish poking his head out of his cave to see if it’s all clear

I hope everyone is having a happy holiday season.  Remember my last post, my big stand about refusing to make any rolled cookies in hopes of preserving my back?  Yeah.  I stuck to not making any rolled cookies, but as it turns out, if you make enough drop cookies while still up and down the train steps for 12 trains a day and add in cooking regular food, that doesn’t actually mean anything.

First came the molasses cookies.

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Then came the oatmeal cranberry chocolate chips.

Photo by Art Child

Photo by Art Child

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Pause to absorb some tank serenity.

This cracks me up, the snail has some type of algae (that I don't see anywhere else in the tank) growing from his shell.

This cracks me up, the snail has some type of algae (that I don’t see anywhere else in the tank) growing from his shell.

clown trying to convince the urchin to move

clown trying to convince the urchin to move

On to the chocolate crinkle cookies.

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Now for my favorites.  Honey nut ball thingies.  They have the flavor profile of a Greek/Middle Eastern pastry but in a cookie. They’re kind of a pain to make, lots of steps but well worth it.

The first step is the killer. Chopping and chopping

The first step is the killer. Chopping and chopping

End of chopping, walnuts on left, pistachios on right

End of chopping, walnuts on left, pistachios on right

Glaze of honey, oj, cinnamon sticks and cloves

Glaze of honey, oj, simmered down with cinnamon sticks and cloves

The filling=nuts mixed with orange peel and a little of the glaze

The filling=nuts mixed with orange peel and a little of the glaze

not so secret ingredient for the dough

not so secret ingredient for the dough

By this time I was grateful for a dough that didn't have to be mixed by hand.

By this time I was grateful for a dough that didn’t have to be mixed by hand.

End result, drizzled with the glaze.

End result, drizzled with the glaze.

Last batch, pumpkin cookies with a cream cheese frosting.  Simple and pretty fast to throw together, these are almost like little cakes.

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Added up, somewhere between 15-20 dozen cookies, less the couple dozen that were casualties to the residual nerve damage from my fall last spring.  Lots of dropping/kitchen accidents now–I have to start remembering it’s just to be expected when calculating how much I need to prepare.

Christmas dinner I tried to keep things easy.  Ham, curried lentil/cauliflower/almond pie, and a baked spinach and pea risotto.  I’ve never made risotto in the oven before, but I saw a few recipes online, and it seemed like a great back-saver.  Blech. Let’s just say I won’t repeat that mistake.

The curry pie was also new for me, but this I would definitely make again. If I can remember what I put in it.

The curry pie was also new for me, but this I would definitely make again. If I can remember what I put in it.

Mini pies with the excess curry and crust

Mini pies with the excess curry and crust

Man Child wasn’t with us last Christmas, either, but this year we’re really feeling it.  Maybe because last year he was here right before and after, maybe because we know he’s much further away this time.  In any case, he’s been missed.  On the bright side, he definitely knows the routine/timing for us, so he and Miss Music (visiting him in Europe for the holiday) called to video chat on Christmas morning.

For you, Man Child--in case you were missing our Christmas breakfast. ;)

For you, Man Child–in case you were missing our Christmas breakfast. 😉

So yeah, I’m done.  I don’t want to mix, measure, chop, sauté, or bake anything else. More than anything, I’m sick of smelling like the inside of my oven.  Why oh why does anyone think it’s a good idea to create grown-scents and lotions that smell like food?  As far as I’m concerned, it’s a successful adult day if at the end of it I don’t reek of garlic, onions, cinnamon, or vanilla.

One of the best parts of this season has been having Nerd Child home.  Not just here, but relaxed because the college app hell is over.  This means I’m getting to hear lots of fabulous music.

Yesssssss

Yesssssss

Because of El Niño, instead of gray skies and ice we’ve seen quite a bit of fog in the city this winter.  Unfortunately, late December is still far from the end of the season, and I’m afraid we’re going to be slammed with early spring snowstorms.  This of course is based on nothing other than my pessimism.

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For most of us, winter weather is, at worst, a nuisance.  Our recent high temps have meant it didn’t “feel” like it should be time for Christmas shopping, but it was more pleasant when we had to.  Feeling beat and smelling like holiday cookies is solved with a shower at the end of the day.  But for all too many, this warmer than usual season means everything.

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Table of Enough

Butternut Squash Risotto

Butternut Squash Risotto

Today is Thanksgiving here in the US.  I was going to muse on why we still celebrate this holiday–a holiday that continues to glamorize Native American genocide, food waste, shopping for shit we don’t need, and canned cream of mushroom soup. I’ve posted about being tired of the tremendous amount of work to prepare and cook for this holiday for the past few years.  I’ve said how much I used to love this day, but haven’t in a while.  Yes, every year I swear never again, and yet here I am, one eye on the clock because the shelves in my fridge are warping under the weight of foods waiting to be cooked.

I was going to muse about what America means.  President Obama tells us these hideous pronouncements of wall building and turning our backs on refugees aren’t what we stand for.  I like Obama, I like what he stands for, and I agree that it shouldn’t be.  But let’s be honest, America has a long history of fighting to reject immigrants and refugees, an even longer history of racism.

If you are someone who believes “freedom of religion” includes all religions, if you believe “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…” is still valid today, this is an exhausting and often disheartening time.  I still hear people moaning that only English should be spoken in America.  Sigh.  English is the language of the US, and it doesn’t take a damned thing away from anyone when other languages are also spoken.  Not only doesn’t it take anything away, it’s a bonus.  “Global community” isn’t just a phrase for Facebook and college admissions essays.

The thing is, sappy as it might sound, I still love the idea of Thanksgiving.  The sentiment of it, anyway.  I like the idea of a day to stop and pay attention to the privilege of enough to eat, having people in our lives whom we love and love us.  Should having enough to eat be a privilege?  I don’t think so, but it is.  I know it is when I look at the photos of the Syrian refugee camps.  I know it is when I walk down the streets and through the subways, seeing those who are homeless and hungry.   My children have attended schools with classmates who live in mansions, brownstones, projects, and shelters.  When you know this, when you know the kiddo waiting for their turn with the brown crayon right next to your kiddo, sharing Saltines and apple juice with your kiddo,  isn’t going home to a full table, it isn’t theoretical.  Yes, yes, we should all give thanks every day for what we have, but really, many of us don’t.

I’m not going to post a million Thanksgiving food pictures.  Have faith, Fringelings, my cranberries are glistening in their zinfandel bath and the skin on my pernìl is crisped just so.  I will post a few pics from the past weeks that make me smile, and hope they do the same for you.

Love when I luck into a decent shot of the moon.

Love when I luck into a decent shot of the moon.

This guy comes to visit me regularly, but I suspect he's going to fly south soon.

This guy comes to visit me regularly, but I suspect he’s going to fly south soon.

zoanthid colony in the tank.

zoanthid colony in the tank.

Happy Thanksgiving if you celebrate, and if not, happy Thursday.

Chugga Chugga Chugging Along

Blur of colors, faces, and heat inside the train.

Blur of colors, faces, and heat inside the train.

No more denying, this year has begun.  I know, for most the year begins in January, but for me, as a parent and summer worshiper, the year begins in September along with the public school year in New York.  Nerd Child went back to school first, Art Child began last week, and Man Child left for Italy two days ago.

Art Child has begun high school.  I think the fact alone confirms I’m in my dotage, but in case it’s questionable, I’ll assure you I feel it. By the end of last week–three days of school–I had taken approximately 43,000 trains and climbed 9 billion subway steps bringing her to and from.  By Friday, she and I both fell asleep on the couch before dinner, and she was already trying to fight off some kind of virus/cold.

Surely I'm trapped inside this cement mixer.

Surely I’m trapped inside this cement mixer.

Ahh, the stresses of mamahood.  Man Child will be away for six months.  Very exciting for him, and quite strange for me.  Before he left, I guess he was feeling a bit nostalgic, because he was talking about and requesting the dishes that were staples when he was younger.  I made a huge batch of basic tomato sauce, we had spaghetti one night, baked ziti another, he made a simple (and delicious) rice and beans with roasted chicken, and he and Mother-In-Law baked an early birthday present of Dominican Cake for me–guayaba filling, of course.  The apartment felt very quiet once he left; he’s a young man with great energy, both of my boys laugh easy and often, and by yesterday morning I was already missing the seemingly constant simmer of something on the stove.  I still had a container of sauce left, was feeling a little nostalgic myself–not to mention envious of the foods and flavors Man Child will certainly be experiencing, so Art Child and I went to the store to purchase an eggplant.

Between time constraints, dietary restrictions, generally fewer people at the table, and a shrinking capacity for standing, most of what I cook these days is a healthier and quicker variation of the dishes I used to prepare. But what the hell, one old-school dinner to kick off the start of the new school year.  I purged the eggplant.  Purging is slicing, salting, and weighing down the slices to draw the bitterness out–then rinse, pat, and begin your dish.

Eggplant Parmigiana

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I season the flour with a little garlic powder (granulated, not the stuff that gives clouds of garlic dust) and fresh ground black pepper.  Some people add their seasonings to the egg, but I find it adheres better to whatever you’re coating when in the flour, instead of sinking to the bottom of the bowl.

After a light flouring, a quick dip in the egg/water mix.

After a light flouring, a quick dip in the egg/water mix.

Then into a panko/parmigiana mix.

Then into a panko/parmigiana mix.

Use your hands and get your fingers dirty.  Panko crumbs make for a lighter, crisper coating than regular breadcrumbs, but need a little help to make sure you get a nice mix on each slice, not just the grated cheese.

Fry (yes, I said it, fry) in olive oil.  Not a super light extra virgin, something heavier that will hold up.

Fry (yes, I said it, fry) in olive oil. Not a super light extra virgin, something heavier that will hold up.

I like to get them a nice gold color, about 2 minutes on each side.  Yes, my stove is dirty, I have no shame. Probably what tipped the scales to have me make this–it needed to be cleaned anyway.

I had one zucchini in the fridge, so I dredged it and added it to the eggplant.

I had one zucchini in the fridge, so I dredged it and added it to the eggplant.

As they finish, layer the slices on a paper towel lined and layered plate to absorb excess grease. Now try not to eat all the eggplant before you make the casserole.

A little sauce on the bottom of your casserole/baking dish.

A little sauce on the bottom of your casserole/baking dish.

Good quality cheese is everything, and fresh mozzarella is so much better than the dry, yellow, pre-packaged stuff.

Good quality cheese is everything, and fresh mozzarella is so much better than the dry pre-packaged stuff.

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Start layering.  Eggplant, mozzarella, sauce, and then a little fresh grated parmigiana or romano.  I prefer romano for this step.

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Repeat the layers two or three times, depending on the depth of your dish.  There should be enough sauce so every bite has some, but too much will leave the whole thing kind of gloppy and you won’t taste the eggplant at the end.

Bake.  Not for too long, everything is pretty much cooked already.  350 or 375° for twenty minutes covered with foil, then uncover and bake another 10 minutes.  Done.

Hungry?

Hungry?

Excess

Moonflowers, finally!

Moonflowers, finally!

I get one every three days or so, but they open in the afternoon, not at night.

I get one every three days or so, but they open in the afternoon, not at night.

What’s worse than 5am yoga?  5am yoga after eating yourself into a carb coma the night before, of course.

The other morning I woke with an urge for corn chowder.  First day of a heat wave, why wouldn’t I want soup?  I went to the grocery store, and bought the ingredients.  Not as easy as it sounds, because I wasn’t thinking about the fact that it was Saturday.  In the grocery store.  By the time I got home, I needed to rest my back for a while before getting started.  Just as well, because lifehappened and I never got to start the soup.

Yesterday, day 2 of the heat wave.  I love summer, nothing makes me happier than not needing more than flip flops and shades to walk outside, but nothing holds the heat like the city.  The thought of soup was now as appealing as diving into the Hudson River. But…I already dropped $50 in the grocery store the day before, and had told Art Child she could help me.  Just in case making soup when it’s 93° with 69% humidity outside wasn’t enough, in between chopping and sautéing, I was back and forth at the laptop, had a thought provoking email conversation with a writing friend about writing and not.  This, naturally, is a conversation I feel compelled to keep having, but it’s upsetting too, leaving me to feel generally useless.  What to do when I’m stressing myself out?  I added biscuits, chicken (for the flesh eaters), and tofu (for the non flesh-eaters) to the menu.

cheddar scallion biscuits

cheddar scallion biscuits

Gin & Lemonade

Gin & Lemonade

Maybe an extra jalapeño next time.

Maybe an extra jalapeño next time.

Marinated chicken

Marinated chicken

Tofu in the same marinade.

Tofu in the same marinade.

I’m a pretty good cook, and sometimes everything works out just the way I want it to, and last night’s dinner was one of those meals.  Husband went into work early yesterday, so he was actually home at dinnertime, and the four of us sat together.  At my table, everyone sitting together means political discussions.  Last night’s topic segued from the need for campaign contribution reforms, to general American consumerism and excess.  Did it occur to me that in that moment, sucking down my organic, non-GMO corn, jalapeño, and yukon gold potato soup that I was the very picture of American excess? Yes, yes it did.  But I enjoyed it anyway.  Did the conversation stop me from thinking I had absolutely nailed those biscuits? (If, like me, you’re too heavy handed with a rolling pin, drop biscuits are the way to go.) Nope.  When I was already full from the soup and biscuit, did it prevent me from taking a big slice of tofu? Well, you see, I made the whole brick, and it’s only Art Child and I who eat the tofu, so it would be wasteful to not even eat one slice….

What a surprise that I woke up before the sun, feeling like an overstuffed sausage.  These political conversations are deadly, I tellya.

Ramblings of a Day Off

Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes

Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes

Oh, Sunday.  It isn’t always true, but today is a blissful day of nothing needs to be done.  So obviously, my best plan was to get up and stand at the stove to make 8000 pancakes.  That’s ok, because I’m still in my pajamas.  9 in the morning, in my pj’s with saltwater mixing for tomorrow’s water change, I must be dreaming.  My back tells me I’m not.

It’s also Man Child’s last day at home before he heads back up to school for *whee* his last semester of college.

On my way home from taking the girl to her art class yesterday morning, I took some photos.  For the first time, it occurred to me why I set so many of my stories at this time of year.  Let’s face it, late winter in New York–not sexy or invigorating, not pretty or enticing.  The dominating colors are gray and gloom.  The season of train delays and wind tunnels, when I walk with my head down, hood eliminating all peripheral vision and calculate the odds of getting clipped in the head by a chunk of ice falling from a building.

A good time of year for hibernating, spending the day without getting dressed, thinking about what we do and why we do it.  Because I have this ridiculous compulsion to make up characters and write them down, it dovetails nicely with the introspection.

Yes indeed, I do have a new character who’s been knocking at the back of my brain.  At the moment he’s barely more than raw, a yummy mix of foolish and ludicrous.  I may have to bring him forward soon, see how he can take shape.

For now, I have filthy-New York-in-February photos for you.  Enjoy. And have a pancake while you’re at it–since I took this photo 20 minutes ago, my kitchen was apparently invaded by pigeons, and there aren’t many left.  I’m going back to my beach house in Hawaii fantasy.

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French Toast and Friends

Soaking

Soaking

I hope all the Fringelings and anyone visiting Fringeland is having a lovely holiday season.

I think many of us have that tradition.  That one tradition that doesn’t have anything to do with gifts or how good the year was or wasn’t, it just symbolizes how you and yours see the holidays.  In our house it’s Christmas French Toast.  I make the custard and slice the bread on Christmas Eve, set it all to soak overnight in the fridge, to be popped into the oven and baked while we open gifts in the morning.  Regardless of individual tastes, allergies, dietary restrictions, we all eat it, we all like it, and no matter what else I include for breakfast I make enough to feed a battalion. Something about is the perfect blend of comfort food and special occasion. Some years we have several visitors in the early part of the day and it all goes, other years we have leftovers for the next couple of days.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about last year at this time.  I was still finishing up Astonishing. I made New Year’s resolutions.  I was hopeful.  I spend a lot of time–and have posted about it several times– thinking about hope vs acceptance.  I don’t think the two can be separated, they’re a pair, they balance each other.  This year, today, I’m more about acceptance.  Continuing to work on finding peace within balance.

I began Mrs Fringe from hope.  Hope of connecting, hope of writing regularly. Over the past year, I’ve expanded the blog to include some of my fiction (links to pages above). Still hope, but also acceptance of this is where I am, and where, for now, I have readers.  Thank you.

I’ve also been indulging in my other pre-New Years tradition.  Panic.  This was an expensive year, moving to the larger apartment.  I am grateful, every day, that we were able to do this, that we have more space, that I’m sitting and writing this at my own desk! and of course, the unnatural love and appreciation I have for the dishwasher.  But the money seemed to fly off the balcony, chasing the blue jay who pops over to the balcony each morning for a quick hello.  He’s yet to stay long enough for me to snap a photo. I turn back with the camera, and am left swearing he was just there. Much like looking into my empty wallet.

Christmas morning I was awake early.  I’d say too early, but it wasn’t because it gave me an hour to sit with these.

Don't come to Fringeland expecting marble countertops.

Don’t come to Fringeland expecting marble countertops.  1960’s formica all the way!

Yessssss

Yessssss

The book and the mug were gifted by friends (both of whom I met online) who’ve spent time with my family and in my home, who know me well enough to give me this peaceful hour of feeling acceptance is a fine place to be. A gift I received from another wonderful friend the day before Christmas Eve: hope.  And faith. By choice or by circumstance, I know many who live and live well without relatives, but I don’t know any who live well without friends.

And because my glass box is my ultimate symbol of hope, Husband and Art Child braved the traffic and got me a few new underwater friends.

orange plate coral

orange plate coral, isn’t he beautiful?

montipora capricornus frag

montipora capricornus frag

blue acro frag

blue acropora frag

I’ll be home on New Year’s Eve.  Too many drunk people roaming the streets and cheering make me nervous. That isn’t to say it won’t be an exciting evening. Husband has the day/evening off from work, Man Child will be returning from his holiday travels–stepping off a thirty hour train ride–Nerd Child will be recovering from oral surgery, and Art Child will be thrilled to have both of her brothers home at once, even if they’re snoring the evening away.  Sounds perfect to me.

So no resolutions for me this year, other than to continue trying to find that balance.

I’m wishing all of you peace for the New Year.

Comfort and Screw Ups

Fire shrimp

Fire shrimp

New tank occupant, I’ll call her Celia because I like that name.  Shy and nervous, she spends her days upside down behind a rock.  I asked her to make room for me this morning, but she ignored me, didn’t so much as wave her antennae in my direction.

In my mind, I’ve been working on a blog post about Ferguson, the need to keep this conversation going.  I thought I would sit and write it today, but then this morning I went over my files for Astonishing, to see if there’s anything/one I should be following up with.  Yah. Don’t know if I mentioned it here, but in a moment of I have to try something, I sent a query to a small press a few months ago.  This small press promises a fast response, I hadn’t heard anything, so I pulled up my original email/query to them and found…

…a request for a full from the editor.  In my “junk” folder.  From a month ago.

“You screwed it up, Bobby Terry!”  Does anyone else have random quotes from novels that have stayed with them forever?  That one is from Stephen King’s The Stand, right before Bobby Terry is flayed and flambeed by Randall Flagg– the Dark Man.

Get a grip, Mrs Fringe.  No evil being is waiting to fly across the desert and eat me because I missed an email that was caught in my spam filter.  If any one of my writer friends came to me melting down about this, I’d reassure them that it happens, in the world of publishing a month’s lapse is not even a blink, any editor/agent/professional will understand. This is nothing in the days of being a wannabe.  This is less than nothing in the face of Ferguson, what the verdict represents and the false focus of so much of our media.

Still, I decided comfort food was in order.  How about if I make grilled cheese for dinner, kiddos?  This, of course, meant I went to Whole Foods on Sunday afternoon of a holiday weekend.  Clearly I was punishing myself for not checking that fucking junk mail folder regularly enough.  And why buy 10 items when you can buy 11 and stand on the slower line?

I will be drowning my whining in chocolate pudding this evening. Care to join me?

I will be drowning my whining in chocolate pudding this evening. Care to join me?

Never Again! oh, and happy Thanksgiving

Yesterday was miserable weather here. Rain to sleet to snow and back again, all day.  Little Incredibly Dumb Dog ran to the couch after her 7am walk and did this.

Apparently taking her outside for 5 minutes in cold rain was cruel and unusual punishment.

Apparently taking her outside for 5 minutes in cold rain was cruel and unusual punishment.

I took the girl to school, came home, woke Nerd Child–because he’s home, yay!!!–went to two grocery stores, began prep work for Thanksgiving dinner, and prepped, and cooked, and prepped.  Nope, not going to do this anymore.  Next year, we are going out to eat.  My spine has handed in her official resignation letter, she refuses to support me in the chopping, lifting, mixing, and standing required for Thanksgiving dinner anymore.

Of course, I mentioned this to Fatigue on the phone last night, and his response was he’s heard me say this before.  Oh.  Well, this time I mean it.  Really.  And I did get Husband, Nerd Child, and Art Child to help me with some of the snipping and chopping, loading and unloading of the dishwasher, washing pots.  Of course being an idiot, I didn’t ask for help until my back was already screaming.  Man Child stayed up at school this year, he’s busy and working.  I missed him yesterday, and I’ll miss him more when we sit down to dinner, but he’s living his life, enjoying all the man child stuff I’m happy he can experience.

With fewer people at the table, I thought I’d share dinner with you, Fringelings.

 

Trying a different stuffing this year

Trying a different stuffing this year

Cornbread based. One day I'll figure out how to cook stuffing for fewer than 20 people.

Cornbread based. One day I’ll figure out how to cook stuffing for fewer than 20 people.

I skipped the yams entirely.  Went with an old favorite of mashed gold potatoes and parsnips.

I like to pretend the parsnips make this a healthier choice.

I like to pretend the parsnips make this a healthier choice.

Of course, the very first dish completed yesterday was dessert.  Another old favorite, pumpkin marble cheesecake.  I didn’t have it in me to drag the mixer out of the closet–it’s heavy!  As it turns out, my cooling racks are nowhere to be found.  You know those boxes you stick away when you move to a new place, with the intention of getting to them when you have time? I hope they’re in there.  They have to be in there. I’ll find them eventually.

Gingersnap pecan crust

Gingersnap pecan crust

Turns out I can't beat things by hand as smooth as I used to. Oops.

Turns out I can’t beat things by hand as smooth as I used to. Oops.

Want a slice?

Want a slice?

Today I’ll do the rest. Nerd Child was kind enough to prep the Swiss chard for me.  Ready, clean and waiting in bags.

Pretty, isn't it.

Pretty, isn’t it.

When I gave up yesterday and sat down at the laptop with a glass of Bailey’s, I looked over at the couch:

Seriously. All day.

Seriously. All day.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

And of course, because it’s obligatory: