Sunday, September 26, 2010

Stuffed Grape Leaves: My Nemesis

For some reason, I'm not sure why, it seems that the market is saturated with Thai food (which I already hated, before I lived here) in our area of Maine, with not many other interesting ethnic options. Why not Indian? Or Ethiopian? How about Greek?

Well, I was absolutely hankering for something vaguely mediterranean or possibly middle eastern, with maybe a side order of Indian naan bread. Last week I made falafel with a yummy cucumber-tahini-scallion sauce, served in a sort of Indian naan bread (fried in my skillet). Oh and stuffed grape leaves sounded great. (It was all because of a really pretty colorful spread in the Moosewood Cookbook.)
Let me tell you about grape leaves. They come in a jar, all rolled up in a sort of cigar-like bundle, in a little briny water. The thing that seemed impossible is that the jar offered absolutely no guidance in the form of directions on how to unroll the bundle with grace. Because the bundle was sort of tucked under on one end, and the leaves were very thin, I found it nearly impossible to unroll the individuals without shredding them.
shreddy grape leaves
I'm a patient person. I can unravel a knotty skein of wool. I can do tedious, repetitive tasks with good cheer. But this was a new and altogether maddening form of tedium. So in the end, I had a few unmolested and unshreddy leaves of grape, ready for stuffing, and a really delicious lemony-minty pot of brown rice. So I stuffed the few leaves that I had and then served the rice as a side dish, with shreddy grape leaves to be mixed in as the eater desired. Despite the ugly appearance of the shredders, the meal was embraced as a success by all eaters. My boys like falafel, a lot!!!! (In my day, when my mom made it, we called it "Feel Awful.")
Sylvan was bored one day, so I suggested he go outside and build a bike jump. First he had to bring his CD player outside, find an extension cord, and get his music cued up (Bruce Springsteen). Then he built the bike jump and used it while rocking out to classic rock.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Common Ground Country Fair

...And more transformation!
It's the annual Common Ground Country Fair, sponsored by MOFGA (Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association), coming up in just two weekends. It's a great sort of groove fest, with all sorts of awesome vendors and amazing food and animals and fiber and art. And they also have all sorts of great speakers and panel discussions which I never get to go to because I am usually running hither and yon to satisfy everyone's whims. (I forget that this part can be pretty stressful.)
This year Jonas and his friends have secured a table at the YEZ (Youth Enterprise Zone), where they will sell their wares. Jonas has been dying silks and even hand-stiched a couple of silk capes (all rainbow colors represented!) and making wire-wrapped crystal pendants. Other friends are sewing costumes and making wooden swords.
These were his very first ones. Up next: purples and blues! I think the dying process was really exciting for him (and fun for me to be the coach!): it's so alchemical and magical! And the results are beautiful. (We used these dyes.)
Here is our new friend, now on day 8 of being in her crysallis. She ate and ate and pooped and pooped for two days and then over the course of one night: WHAM. She turned from yellowy-black striped caterpillar into this jade green gem speckled with gold flecks. Seriously. Gold flecks!!! It blows my mind. I was really hoping to watch the transformation process, but I guess it's private.
Sometimes your mom is so annoying when you are reading your comic book and she tells you to "freeze!" "stop!" "I need that picture!" So here is a real picture of our domestic life, none of these overly-pretty bloggy pics: a few empty apple crisp bowls and a child being pestered by his mother.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Transformation:: 2

Transformation from green to orange to exploding sweetness in my mouth and finally into my belly! This was from a few weeks ago when they were really peaking. It's really like eating sunshine, these Sungold variety.
More transformation.... We added this shelving in our bedroom to be a yarn storage solution as well as to be sort of a colorful, ever-changing installation of color. The shelves were upcycled cubbies from school!
Below is my other wall of inspiration that I get to look at as I fall asleep and wake up each day. Art by the family, at left, and my brother's painting from when he was in Tuscany. Surrounded by talent at each turn.
And now some pictures from our new office space, formerly our boys' bedroom. This color on the walls is just incredible. It's such a wonderful green, changeable in different lights (Ben Moore "sesame").
We now get to have ALL of our books in one place in the house (well, except cookbooks, which live in the kitchen, and the boys' separate collections, and the pile on my bedside table). And the librarian's heart went pitter pat to place them in a logical semblance of order. We think a lot about "findability" in library world, because if you can't find it you may as well not have it.
We have a lot of nonfiction, which somehow surprised me. Perhaps because there are few novels which I deem appropriate to actually own my own copy of. And of course, quite a large children's collection (classics and not), crafting books (sewing, knitting, Martha Stewart Baby magazines, knitting magazines too!), teacher books, library theory books, parenting, and gardening---are our major subject areas.

Enjoy this day! I am going outside to check on my laundry.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

oceany goodness

We spent the afternoon at the beautiful Reid State Park (click here for last year's visit) with the waves and sun and a few great kids and friends. This was the week of our heat wave, the unseasonably humid, hot weather that reached into the 90s every day last week. We live in Maine for a reason: to avoid this type of nonsense, thank you very much.
So. I actually swam in the ocean waves! I felt the sparkle of salt on my skin! And when I was tired of the sparkly itchiness, I used the outdoor showers at the very nice, new, and clean restroom area.
We wrapped up the afternoon by continuing south down the peninsula to the little village of Five Islands. Quintessential Maine cuteness! A little dock with a lobster pound, some picnic tables, and a little Annabelle's Ice Cream stand (and there was delicious lemon sorbet for me, since I am not eating dairy!).
Boats, water, sun, sky, ice cream, adorable children, and good friends. What more could one ask for?
Oh yes. Small(ish) feet. My favorite kind.
When I get old and am looking back on all of my photos, will I still have such delight in children's sweet feet? Somehow I am always moved by the innocence that I see captured there, and particularly by the barest glow of light on the leg hair (at right): so unselfconscious and perfect and right.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

table for two, s'il vous plait

~the light was golden~
Unexpectedly... We had a night to ourselves recently!
Both boys were accounted for and happy and not in our care, and although it's the crunch time of school looming upon us (me already in classes and the Mister about to start teaching 6th grade on Tuesday), we decided to go for it: drive down to Portland for the evening like two carefree, kid-less people! (Part of the date was the car ride together.)
Evangeline was adorable. I started with a lovely pear and endive salad with some bleu cheese---a total yummy delight of flavors. I had the steak frites (bien sur) that came with this delicious hen-of-the-woods mushroom on top and actually could have been the main dish of my meal. Our waitress/bartender was recently featured in this hipster publication. So we really felt extra hip on top of doing a really pretty hip thing like going out.
Besides for the notice required of 24 hours if you're going to order the Canard Presse, the bottom of the menu says "Unfortunately the use of cell phones causes our stove to malfunction."
::Thank you, Rickie, for the treat!::