• What $5 Gets You

    I had several boring chores that I’d been putting off and twins clamoring to earn money, so I handed out assignments.  Two glass marbles stuck in the kitchen drain– they’d fallen there when we cleaned out the fish bowl after Bingo III’s demise and had to be removed.   A pile of recipes that needed to be taped to pieces of paper and slipped into laminated sleeves.

    Porter was charged with removing the obstacles from the drain.

    marbles

    I could have edited the photo to make the sink appear gleaming white, or cropped it to show only the drain and not the Beef Ball sauce residue, but I’ve never painted myself as a paragon of perfection and am not starting now.

    “What if I only get one of the marbles out?” Porter asked.

    “Then you’ll earn $2.50,” I said.

    “I might rather do that, because then I’d get two quarters and I could put them in my quarter collection.”

    “I have no quarters because you’ve cleaned me out.  The fifty cents would be paid in dimes, nickels and pennies,” I said.

    “Then I’ll get them both out,” he decided.

    I would have gone for the tweezers or the needle-nosed pliers, but my inventor had other plans.  He disappeared into his room and returned with a Lego box full of supplies.

    magnetize

    “Yo, what’s with all the magnets?”

    “I’m going to hold the magnets over the marbles so that the magnetism seeps into the marbles. Then I’ll just hold my strongest magnet over them and they’ll pop out of the drain and stick to it.”

    Drew was at the kitchen table, painstakingly trimming all the recipes I’d had shoved in a drawer, taping them onto colored paper and sliding them into plastic sleeves so I could simply wipe them off when they got spattered with olive oil and soy sauce.

    “You can’t magnetize glass,” he announced.

    “What do you know? I’m the one with the magnets. I’ve made my pencil magnetic before,” Porter said.

    “A pencil isn’t made of glass. Mom, can you magnetize glass?”

    “Don’t ask Mom, ask me. If I hold this drill bit to the marbles for fifteen minutes that should do it.”

    While Porter magnetized the marbles, Drew finished the recipes.

    recipes

    I gave him his five dollars and the option of chillaxing or earning more money. Soon he was in the garage vacuuming the van and wiping down the seats.

    Meanwhile, Porter had an epiphany.  “I think I should electrify the glass instead.  That will be much quicker and there will only be a few sparks.”

    “Are you sure you don’t want my tweezers?” I asked.

    “You don’t use tweezers when you do the electrified marbles.”

    “Does making them electric help to get them out of the drain?”

    “Yes, but it’s too complicated to explain.  I need more batteries.”

    electrify

    Soon he’d come up with this contraption. Drew came in from the garage, lured by the promise of fire. I hovered closely at first, then decided that the addition of a battery wrapped with wire was neither dangerous nor bringing us closer to our goal. Porter didn’t seem perturbed about that. Ten minutes passed, and Porter added three more wire-wrapped batteries to the hammer, with no visible results.

    Drew finished cleaning the van and collected another five dollars.

    My neighbor came by to return a soup pot and peered at Porter’s project.  “I have a pair of antique forceps  that are long and skinny that would probably get those marbles out.”

    “What are forceps?” Porter asked.

    My neighbor is a teacher, and well-acquainted with Porter.  She knew just how to market the forceps.

    “Doctors use them for operations when they need to extract something from a person.  If you have a bullet stuck in your leg, they’d use forceps to grasp it and pull it out.  Using forceps requires a great deal of skill, though.  Maybe your mom should come get them.”

    “I use a lot of tools,” Porter said.  “Forceps are a kind of tool, so I think I’ll come with you to your house now and get them.”

    He abandoned the battery-bedecked hammer and returned with the forceps.  Moments later, one glass marble was sitting on the counter.

    “Two-fifty and counting,” he said.

    The second marble took about a minute.

    “I earned five dollars,” Porter said triumphantly.

    “You should have used the tweezers in the first place.  I earned ten dollars and read two chapters of Ark Angel,” Drew said.

    “I don’t care. I’m going to go magnetize the birdseed and see if the parakeets stick to the sides of the cage after they eat.” Porter ran to his room to begin another project.

    ******************************

    While Drew and I were reorganizing my recipe collection, I found a couple of recipes that people have requested.  The famous Cobb Lane restaurant is closing at the end of this week, and several people have asked for the recipe for the roulage. Here it is.

    roulage

    For a jelly roll pan I use a large cookie sheet with sides. Butter the sheet and waxed paper WELL.  I just use Hershey’s cocoa.  Don’t get distracted while you beat the cream or you end up with butter, but this provides you with a good teaching moment to talk about pioneers and butter churns.  I flavor my filling with a bit of sugar and bourbon.

    Another meal we’ve been eating a lot recently is larb– like the lettuce cups you get at PF Chang’s.  I double this for my family and have the boys mix it with rice to stretch it further, or else I’d be buying four pounds of grounds chicken for this.  I use Sriracha for the chili-garlic sauce (add a bit at a time)  and a poblano for the chilis.  Whole Foods usually has lemongrass, and several grocery stores carry lemongrass in a tube.  It’s found in the produce section under the herbs packaged in plastic and is a decent substitute.  Last week I couldn’t find either and left it out entirely and no one complained.

    Larb Chicken Salad from Epicurious

    sriracha

    Sriracha sauce

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    One year ago in My Tiny Kingdom: How We Parent: Just Because You Asked

  • New York City Adventures: Chicken Feet & Myachi

    Now that I’ve eaten chicken feet I’m worried that there’s not much left for me to experience in life.   But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, so I’ll back up to the days before I indulged in this delicacy.

    Just after Christmas the five of us left for our annual trip to New York City to visit Aunt Lulu and Uncle P.  In true Glamore fashion the week ended up being a series of exotic meals punctuated by other activities, some successful, some not.  The first order of business was to arrange ourselves in the studio apartment, which was markedly easier a couple of years ago when the boys were smaller.

    The apartment has a bed, which Bill and I share, and we’ve purchased a blowup mattress that Porter adores.   Finn commandeers the sleeper sofa.  You’d think that Drew could join him there, but both of them reject that idea. Apparently boys can’t sleep in the same bed after the age of six.

    fbed

    Sleeper sofa extended taking up the entire floor

    pbed

    Blow-up mattress arranged “rocketship” style; design by Porter Glamore (sofa cushions not included)

    Fortunately, Drew has an affinity for small spaces, and sleeps on the floor in the space between the front and back of the sofa where the mattress and cushions stay when the sofa is in its usual state.

    fbed

    He claims it’s warm and snuggley down there.
    dbed1

    We don’t know how he wedges himself in there, especially after a meal, but he does and we don’t hear from him again until morning.

    dbed2

    Unless I bug him by trying to take a picture.

    We can tell we’re aging, as this is what the bathroom has come to:
    nysink

    Deodorant and retainers galore.

    One day I took our teenager downtown to look for cool threads while Bill took Drew and Porter to the Apple store and FAO Schwartz.  They returned with some “new” toys they couldn’t get enough of.   You heard it here first– the Rubik’s Cube is making a comeback, but now you can get on the computer and watch a YouTube video to learn how to solve it.

    rubik

    Meanwhile, the folks who thought up the hackysack have refashioned it by changing its shape and the rules.  Voila, the myachi!  Instead of gathering in a circle and listening to “Sugar Magnolia” while passing the hackysack, kids today hop on the subway and toss the myachi under their legs or across the seats to each other, being careful not to touch it with their palms.  Setting your iPod on “I Kissed A Girl” is optional.

    michaki

    Crowd at FAO Schwartz watching the myachi dudes

    Metrodad had given me some restaurant recommendations that we were thrilled to receive because I only let the boys repeat one restaurant from a previous trip.  If you’re in the city and need a romantic spot to take a date, Alta would be a wonderful choice.  Unfortunately, we had three boys with us, so Bill and I had to sneak in a romantic moment by sending them to the restroom to wash their hands and smooching at the table while they were gone.  Although we had a good time with them, we would have had a better time at this particular restaurant without them, given its glowing candlelight, lovely wine list, and overall atmosphere that was more conducive to googly eyes than to breaking up paper football contests.

    Alta is a tapas restaurant, and one of the weirder yet delicious dishes was Spaghetti Pepperoncini, Bottarga Di Muggine, dried bonito and shrimp oil and peppercress.  We ordered it only because the waitress seemed like she might cry if we didn’t.  We didn’t know what Bottarga Di Muggine was, and it sounded menacing,  like the head of a crime family, not something you want to twirl on your fork and slurp with noodles.  Now, with the benefit of google, I can tell you that it’s dried gray mullet roe, and it looked like thin slices of pink bubble gum perched atop the spaghetti.  We loved it so much we ordered another serving.  The spicy lamb meatballs were yummy, too.

    Some things must be replaced from time to time, and underwear is one of them.  The boys sat calmly inside Bloomingdale’s, eating pretzels and playing myachi while Bill and I bought him new underwear and undershirts.  We had scarcely set foot in Victoria’s Secret, however, when they engaged in a group freakout, during which Porter slapped his hand over his face and said, “I can’t look while I’m in this store.  This is maximum weirdness.”  The teenager complained that he wouldn’t be caught dead in a panty shop, and only Drew tried to sneak a peek of the mannequins as we marched the boys to a quiet corner between the elevators and the flannel pajamas (lucky us–who knew?) and instructed them to face the wall and give us five minutes.

    “Mom means give her five minutes, because I’m like you.  I don’t know what we’re doing in this panty store,” Bill said.

    He sat with the boys and discreetly pointed out underthings that caught his fancy, and I snatched them up and paid in record time.  That didn’t prevent the guys from complaining about this particular stop for far longer than necessary.

    One snowy morning we headed down to the lower east side and were captivated by Guss Pickles on Orchard Street.  They had barrels of pickles of all varieties, quarter-sour, half-sour, and so forth.  Bill was amused when a woman came up and ordered as if she were at Starbucks.

    “I need a quart of half-sour with half half-sour juice and half full-sour juice,” she said.

    “That’s quite a pickle order,” Bill said.

    “Yeah, my dad loves them this way, and it’s his birthday, so I get them for him as a present,” she said.

    We could only think of one person we know who’d be satisfied with a variety of pickles as a gift.

    pickles

    I looked down the street and saw a familiar sign that said “Kaufman,” and something stirred in the back of my mind, and I told the guys to continue eating pickles while I checked it out.  Sure enough, it was A.W. Kaufman, a lingerie shop, and I had been there several times with my mom, years and years ago.  I walked in and it was as if time had stopped. It’s a narrow space lined with plastic storage bins marked in black writing with brands and sizes: “La Perla 36 C.” I remembered sitting in the one folding chair while my mom tried on nightgowns and it was too much for me, and I cried hard by the counter near the robes. Miriam, who was running the store, got me water and claimed to remember my mom, but she was probably just being nice.

    kaufman

    Everything else on the block was posh. Miriam said Fine & Klein, one of my mom’s purse stops, had gone out of business, and she was one of the oldest stores left.

    We had other good meals– Italian, sushi, and pizzas.   Pam Real Thai was a budget-friendly pre-theater restaurant, where we had crispy duck and crab fried rice, which was one of the highlights of the week. Appetizers, three entrees and drinks for all (including wine) was under $90.

    I also insisted on picking up some food off the street one night, for reasons both budgetary and adventurous.  That’s how Bill and I ended up leaving the boys in the apartment and walking to 53rd and 6th to pick up some chicken and lamb with rice.  I’d read that this particular stand had some of the best street food in the city, and I was determined to sample it.   As it turned out, the line down 53rd Street was over 100 people long when we arrived, so we didn’t just “pick it up.”  Bill waited for over an hour, making calls and sending emails, while I walked around the block to stave off hypothermia.

    53line

    That yellow umbrella in the distance is the Holy Grail.

    We bought a bottle of wine and brought it all home and chowed down.

    cartfood

    We ordered a mixture of lamb (the darker meat) and chicken. It came with rice (it looks like cheese here) and each container had one small piece of pita bread. We also got red and white sauce. It was yummy, although I preferred the lamb to the chicken. I’d recommend that someone purchasing this also buy some pita bread. We bought four containers of chicken and rice and that fed five of us for dinner, three of us for lunch and Porter for breakfast for two days. We still had some left over. At $6 per container, it was a deal.

    I may have the only boys in Alabama who are enamored with chopsticks.  I cook enough Asian meals that I figured we could invest in something nicer than the wooden ones they’ve stolen from the Japanese steakhouse.  That’s how we ended up at Pearl River Mart, where each boy got to pick out his own pair of chopsticks.  Porter’s are light blue, and Drew’s are black with a red stripe, and I haven’t washed the others yet.  We’ll be using them tonight, though, as I’m whipping up Elise’s Sweet & Sour Chicken so they’re coming in handy already.

    Every trip has its pitfalls, and sadly, ours was one we had been quite excited about.  Metrodad suggested dim sum at Jing Fong, and we made our way to Chinatown and gave it a go.  It was the boys’ first experience with dim sum, and they found some shrimp dumplings and fish balls and pork rolls, but everything was cold and tired.  I think we hit the restaurant as they were transitioning from lunch to dinner, or else we didn’t know how to order, or maybe it just really isn’t very good.  However, Jing Fong had some impressive chicken feet which were apparently fried and seasoned with five-spice powder.  They looked exactly like you would think chicken feet would look:

    jingfong

    I remember hearing that maybe chicken don’t have teeth, and I guess I was thinking that meant they’re short on all kinds of bones but I’m here to tell you that’s not the case with their feet. Those toes were crunchy and after I ate one I concluded I’d had enough roughage for an entire week even though I’ll be forty-two in less than two months.  On the up side, the meal gave us good reason to say “Dim sum bad eats” for the rest of the day and giggle like maniacs.

    New Year’s Eve was the high point.  We cooked dinner at Aunt Lulu’s and hung out with her boys, one two and one two weeks old.  A cold snap had settled over the city, and Bill and the boys were determined to run in the race sponsored by Emerald Nuts at midnight at Central Park.  They’ve run the last two years, when it was relatively balmy out.  Cheers to Bill, Finn and Drew for running four miles at midnight with a wind chill of 6.  They reported that the champagne at mile two was the consistency of a slushy.  Porter and I got in bed and ate chocolate.  I didn’t photograph the runners because I didn’t want to lose my shutter finger to frostbite.

    *****************

    And that’s it.  I apologize for the inadvertent blog silence.  Both computers broke, the refrigerator broke, and I cannot blog on a Blackberry.  I’m back up and running now.

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    Two years ago in My Tiny Kingdom: The Glamores Hit The Big City

  • Sunday Extra: 3 Weeks of Menus

    You know I love to cook and regard the family dinner as a sacred time, although the combination of immature jokes (“Hey Mom- spell icup!”) and constant reminders (“Boys– use your napkins, not your shirts.  Finn, don’t steal Porter’s milk.  Get up and refill yours.  I’m not raising thieves.”) results in the most chaotic part of our day.  But I have high hopes that some day all of us will sit at the table and all elbows and napkins and condiments will be in their proper places, and we will have conversations that aren’t punctuated by audible farts, or center on jokes in which we are asked to name the word that starts with “f” and ends with “uck.” (Answer below for those of you who don’t have ten and twelve-year-olds.)++

    I don’t see any end to our nightly Hearing on Who Gets Dessert, in which Bill sits as judge, each boy represents himself and makes an argument outlining the reasons he is entitled to Cookies N Cream ice cream, and I serve as adviser to all parties, reminding them of crucial arguments (“Tell him: Your Honor, a look at the evidence will make it clear that I have tasted each food on my plate and consumed seconds of pork.”)

    I’ve been slammed at work lately and thus have been even more in need of easy recipes than usual.  The last couple of weeks I turned to Simply Recipes to find some winners and I’ve become a devotee of the site.  I heard Elise Bauer speak at BlogHer and recognized her beautiful site, but it wasn’t until Playgroupie raved about a Carnitas recipe that I really checked it out.

    Here are several recipes that were hits with my family.  Some, like the Carnitas, I prepared in the crock pot a day ahead.  Most of the others were so easy that I did them the day of, prepping ingredients when I picked the boys up from school and cooking later.  The Shrimp Fried Rice was so basic that I made the rice a day ahead so It could dry in the refrigerator, then left Bill and the boys to make it while I enjoyed a girls’ night out.

    I’ve divided this into three weeks of menus to make it easier on you so that you can do all your shopping today or tomorrow for the week.  I’ve also added two recipes of my own.  It’s the last week to make Jack-O-Lantern Pie, which The Voice Of Reason and I have been making for years.  It’s no great shakes from a culinary standpoint for my artichoke-loving boys, but it’s a tradition.

    It’s officially freezing to me here, now that the temperatures are in the high 50’s and low 60’s.  If I were to move as far north as Nashville I might well die of hypothermia. Bill requested a soup or stew, so I’ll be making Sausage and Lentil Stew which is a snap and healthy as well.  It’s easy to freeze or take to work for a quick lunch.

    Feel free to mix or match these menus; I’ve just tried to provide a good mix of chicken, meat and fish each week.  (The Simply Recipes dishes are marked with a *):

    WEEK 1:

    Jack-O-Lantern Pie (from the post Food, Glorious Food, which includes pictures of the pie and, for reasons I have forgotten, Brad Pitt.)

    *Dad’s Fish Stew (the clam juice is above the tuna at the grocery.  For economic reasons I used catfish and tilapia which were cheaper fish.  Be sure and serve with bread to sop up the juice. )

    *Sweet & Sour Chicken (super-easy, and don’t freak out when you mix up the sauce that seems odd and ends up perfect.  Be sure and read her tips about using a very hot pan.)

    *Pot Roast (Of course everyone already has a pot roast recipe but sometimes it’s nice to try a new one.  I did it in the crock pot.)

    WEEK 2:

    Sausage and Lentil Stew (recipe below)

    *Chipotle Meatballs (Remember how my Beef Balls were such a hit?  This is a great update. Sorry that you have to skim through the details of the family doorknob/fart game to get to the actual recipe.)

    *Pasta With Tuna, Arugula & Hot Pepper (I know– this sounds weird!  But it’s fabulous, I’m guessing because you use fresh garlic and oil-packed tuna.  I used spinach instead of arugula.)

    *Chicken Marinara (to make this even easier you could buy a jar of Newman’s marinara sauce and use that instead of making the tomato sauce!)

    WEEK 3:

    *Carnitas (these are fancy tacos.  The boys prefer flour tortillas, so I used some corn and some flour.  Publix has black beans that are seasoned, so we drain those and add them to the taco.  Don’t eliminate the step where you put the meat in the oven to crisp it up.  Delish.)

    *Chicken, Mushrooms & Tomatoes with Port Wine (this would be a good Election Special dinner; follow it with the always popular Multi-Tasking Ice Cream Pie and plenty of wine and settle in for the night.  If you don’t have Port, you can buy some very cheap or use red wine.  This would be good with green beans, or brussels sprouts sauteed with garlic and bacon, or zucchini sliced thin and sauteed with sliced almonds and topped with some Parmesan, salt and pepper a la the Red Cat restaurant in NYC.)

    Remember – don’t freak out if you can’t find everything.  You can use an onion instead of shallots or dump in a can of diced tomatoes if those at your market aren’t beautiful, as I did.  The point is to end up with edible food.

    * Shrimp Fried Rice (the boys did not leave me any to sample.  That speaks volumes.)

    Oops.  I am missing a recipe here.  You can check out my recipe posts by clicking on the “Let’s Eat” category in the left sidebar.  Or to make it easier, I’ve compiled several right here:

    Food, Glorious Food

    Week O’ Recipes

    Let Me Organize You, One Meal At A Time

    Sausage and Lentil Stew:

    6 oz smoked turkey sausage (I use more)

    1.5 cups thinly sliced leek

    2 cloves garlic, minced

    3/4 cup dried lentils

    2 10.5 oz cans chicken broth

    1 tsp dried thyme (I add some fresh, too)

    1/2 tsp sugar

    1/4 tsp Tabasco

    2 14.5 cans diced tomatoes undrained

    Slice sausage into 1/2 inch slices and cut each in half.  Brown lightly in a skillet.  Add leeks, garlic, and cook 3 mins.  Add lentils and broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 30 mins.  Stir in thyme and remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer 15 mins or until lentils are tender.  6 cups.

    (I thought I got this from Cooking Light, which I frequently use, but I’ve searched all over their web site and cannot find it.)

    *******************

    Answer to immature joke:

    ++ FIRETRUCK

    (and you did spell “icup” out loud, didn’t you?)
    *********************

    My mom died three years ago today.  I’m holding it together okay so far.  This is a picture of her in 1976, when she was 35 years old.    This is the exact way I remember my mom looking when I was growing up.
    youngmomfor blog

  • Multitasking Ice Cream Pie

    sprinkle

    I’m a multitasking master and a cook, and this recipe combines the best of both worlds. You can buy all the ingredients ahead of time and then work on the dessert for a moment here and a few seconds there, in between going to the office, picking up carpool, buying new guitar picks and so forth. No one will ever guess you made this delicious concoction while simultaneously talking on the phone, feeding the fish and putting away the groceries.  And it’s only four ingredients.  Highly recommended for both PMS-ing and pregnant women.

    **************************************

    Ingredients:
    ingredients

    1. A premade cookie pie crust – there’s NO reason not to use chocolate

    2. A half gallon of ice cream, any flavor, but Cookies & Cream, Coffee, and Fudge Ripple are all good choices

    3. A jar of hot fudge sauce – Hershey’s spreads the best for me

    4. A container of Cool Whip or the equivalent

    Optional: toasted nuts, cocoa powder, sprig o’ mint, etc to fancy up your pie

    Step 1:

    At some point during your busy day, set out the ice cream to melt a little.  Go do some stuff.  Then heap the ice cream into the crust.  Remember how your mother (hopefully) told you beauty isn’t everything?  Well, that’s particularly true for the inside of this pie.  The lumpier is is, the better the surface will catch glops of chocolate fudge sauce when that time comes.

    Once you’ve put the ice cream into the crust and slurped any leftovers, put the naked pie into the freezer to harden a bit – between 1 and 48 hours.

    ic

    Step 2:

    Spread the chocolate sauce over the pie.  You can do this part all messy since it won’t show, but mine looks pretty fantastic because I’m kind of anal about my pie.  Also, see how smooth the pie is now?  That’s totally hot fudge acting as ice cream spackle.  Stick the pie back in the freezer for 15 minutes to several hours and go write a brief or toilet train your child.

    chocover

    Step 3:

    Spread the Cool Whip on top.  If you’re feeling festive, decorate the top with cocoa powder, toasted nuts, or whatever.  Stick the pie back in the freezer until you’re ready to serve it.

    slice

    I’m no photo stylist, and I suck at cutting pies, but I bet you wish that missing slice was in your belly instead of mine.

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    My other Works For Me Wednesday tips:

    Labeling Camp Clothes: Dull Chore Made Zany Fun(created by my son – and still handy)

    Safety Tip: Road ID

    How We Parent – Just Because You Asked (most popular tip)

    A Cheater’s Guide To Spiffing Up Your House (decorators beware!)

    Food, Glorious Food (time for Jack O’ Lantern Pie again!)

    Detoxify Noxious Athletic Shoes In Three Easy Steps!

    Week O’ Recipes (yes – a week of them)

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    I linked this at Works For Me Wednesday over at Shannon’s.  Go take a peek for some other tips!