Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Reputation To Live Up To

After dinner this evening, I remained in the kitchen to wash dishes and blanch green beans for freezing*. A. was refereeing the after-dinner revelry in the living room. Tonight's revelry seemed to be awfully scream-y, in a slightly hysterical way, but since there was a responsible adult present in the living room, I ignored the noise and carried on.

A. came in the kitchen after awhile and asked me if something was wrong with Charlie today.

"Not that I know of," I said. "Why?"

"He just keeps having fits. Over really irrational things, like a person sitting on a couch cushion."

"He's two," I said. "He has irrational fits all day. That's why they're called the Terrible Twos."

It's cute how innocent A. still is, isn't it?

* A paltry two quart bags. It's not going to sustain us through a long winter or anything, but I suppose it's better than nothing.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A.P.D.--The Sleeping In Edition

Charlie tried to convince me at 4:10 this morning that it was time to get up. I strongly disagreed (my internal response was something along the lines of, "HELL NO") and then spent the next hour getting him back to sleep*. As I was lying there in my bed, wide awake and waiting for his next escape attempt, I reflected on how drastically my notion of "sleeping in" has changed recently.

In college, sleeping in meant 10 p.m.

When I worked and got up at 6 a.m., sleeping in meant 9 a.m.

When I had my first kid, who slept until at least seven most mornings, sleeping in meant 8 a.m.

And now? Now if Charlie sleeps until 6 a.m., I feel as if I've won the lottery. And on the banner mornings when A. gets up with Charlie, I indulge myself by staying in bed until 7 a.m.

Oh, the luxury.

And now it's your turn, my lovelies. What time do you habitually wake up and what do you consider sleeping in?

* He did eventually go back to sleep around 5 a.m. And then woke up for the day at 6:10 a.m. Super.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Left Behind

A. got up with Charlie this morning and hauled him downstairs. At 5:15 a.m.

Harsh, Charlie. Way harsh.

When I came down two hours later, Charlie was demanding "for-eh." That's the forest, obviously (or, okay, not obviously unless you're fluent in Charlie-speak, which no one really is). A. explained to Charlie that they couldn't go to the forest because he (A.) had to go to work. Charlie wasn't pleased.

So I started thinking, trying to come up with a place that I could take Cubby and Charlie later that would satisfy their lust for forest adventures while not breaking my pregnant back due to having to hike miles and carry a thirty-pound toddler half the distance.

This is when I realized something: My children have far surpassed me in adventurousness. There was literally nowhere I could think of going that wouldn't result in them plunging into creeks and up and down gully banks in pursuit of adventure. I can't keep up with my two-year-old and four-year-old.

That didn't take long.

We ended up going down to the beach, where they played an involved game of pirate ship and I sat in a chair. It's not the forest, but it works for me.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

All Grown Up

Big day today for Charlie: It's his first time going fishing with Mr. Jason in his boat. Although Charlie has been billing himself as a big boy for some time now (and getting increasingly irritable and insistent in correcting those people--mostly Cubby--who still call him a baby), I think you can't really call yourself a big boy in this family until you go fishing on Mr. Jason's boat.

So Mr. Jason's boat is currently filled with A., Cubby, and Charlie. God help Mr. Jason.

And I am currently sitting in an empty, quiet house, gestating the next boy who will be demanding to go "FEE" ("fish" in Charlie-speak) with Mr. Jason in a few years.

Lucky Mr. Jason. And lucky me.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Serious Design Flaw

To all those pajama designers who no doubt read this site regularly: What the hell is up with the long pants and short-sleeved top pajama sets? Why are these almost ubiquitous? Why can't I buy long sleeves AND long pants for my sons together? Their flailing little arms are forever escaping their covers and getting chilled. They can't be the only children to do this. Why is it so hard to get long-sleeved pajamas for them?

Although not quite so flail-y as my children, I also sleep in the conventional manner of legs under the covers, head out of the covers. This means the first part of me to get uncovered should I flip over, or maybe--ahem A.--experience some blanket theft, is my arms. I do not need long pants; I need long sleeves. So how come the pajama set combination of shorts and long-sleeved shirt is nearly impossible to find? Have I perhaps been sleeping upside-down all these years?

Do not even speak to me of the odd pajama combination of pants and a tank top. This makes no sense to me.

I may embark on a second career as a pajama designer myself, if only to fill this void in the market.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


At 8:15 this morning, I had already been awake for three hours (thanks a heap, Charlie) and was at that moment standing at the stove cooking A.'s scrambled eggs. I had already fried eggs for myself and the children. My own breakfast had been sitting on the counter for ten minutes while I made A.'s breakfast and also doctored Charlie after his toe had an unfortunate encounter with A.'s chair.

A. was sitting at the table drinking his coffee with the kids while they ate their breakfasts. Cubby piped up with, "Oh, poor Daddy doesn't have any breakfast."

"That's right," said A. "Do you feel sorry for Daddy?"

"Yes," said Cubby.

The MiL, from across the kitchen, chimed in with, "Do you feel sorry for Grandma?"

"Yes," said Cubby.

Then A. asked, "Do you feel sorry for Mommy?"

"No," said Cubby.

Ingrates, the lot of them.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Jerky+Fat=A.'s Salvation

It may have come up a time or two around here that my husband is what you might call a serious carnivore. Very serious. He eats a lot of meat. And that meat is not lean, either. He actively seeks out the fat on the meat. He points out, with some justification, that if a person isn't eating sugars or carbohydrates, then the only high-calorie food left is fat. And he's a big, muscular dude who does frequent manual labor, so he needs the calories.

Hence, the fat.

For this reason, he's been interested in the making of pemmican for some time now. Pemmican is a traditional Native American food made for hunting trips and other long journeys during which a lot of calories in a portable form was paramount. The Native Americans made it traditionally from lean game meat, like buffalo, which they smoked over fires to make jerky. This was then ground up--presumably with something like a mortar and pestle--and mixed with an equal amount of melted animal fat.

That's it. Smoked lean meat and fat. No salt, no flavorings, no nothing. Except sometimes berries.

A. thought this sounded great. I thought it sounded revolting. That's why this particular experiment was all him.

We recently purchased half a cow for our freezer, so there was no shortage of raw ingredients to start with. A. started by rendering the suet (the fat as it comes off the cow) into tallow (the strained, purified fat). I helped with this, as I have some experience with it and I needed some more for my own use anyway.

Then A. cut up a five-pound bottom round roast into strips, laboriously threaded each strip onto a toothpick, and hung the meat up in his smoker/grill thing by placing the toothpicks horizontal to the rack. Then he smoked that for a few hours.

Although it would no doubt have been more traditional to grind up the resulting jerky with my molcajete, he instead took my suggestion that he use the food processor. No point in being masochistic about this.

When the jerky was reduced to tiny shreds, he also at my suggestion added some Craisins.

Berries were sometimes added traditionally, and cranberries are certainly a native plant, but Craisins are stretching it. Mostly this was an attempt to cater to A.'s more modern tastebuds. I figured a half cup of Craisins wouldn't compromise the integrity of the traditional preparation too much.

After the meat bits and Craisins were combined, A. weighed them to determine how much tallow to add. The five-pound roast made a pound of jerky, so he mixed in a pound of liquid tallow, spread the mixture out in a wax-paper-lined Pyrex pan, and put it in the refrigerator to harden. After it hardened, it kind of resembled an iced cake, with the white tallow on top and the brown meat on the bottom.

It did not taste like an iced cake, to no one's surprise.

A. tasted it first. He was surprised at how palatable it was, though he did remark it was far from a hamburger or something. He gave the children each a taste. They ate it and asked for more. I tasted it.

I did not ask for more.

It's not bad, exactly, it's just . . . smoked meat and fat. I mean, not exactly gourmet fare, you know? I didn't spit it out, but I didn't take another bite, either.

A., however, loves having his pemmican. A pound of pemmican equals 3,000 calories, so he only needs to eat a small square to satisfy his hunger, and it's always there and always ready to eat. The kids eat it, too. Not much of it, and not often, but they will occasionally request some. Cubby asked A. for a plate of pemmican just tonight, actually.

It's not going to replace cooked food or anything, but I suppose it's better than snack cakes, right?