Crumb Bun, Burnt Pizza, and Over-Sharing

I try to be honest on this blog. And open. Way more than I am in real life. You’ve probably noticed, and may even feel that I share too much (fair! I have a dog throw up story headed your way!), but I do it for a couple of reasons. One, I think it makes these posts more interesting. When I go back and read the first posts on this blog, straight food talk with nothing of me in them, I’m shocked at how boring they are. “Have you had raw beets?!” I asked with all the excitement one could muster. Wouldn’t you rather read about George picking out a red plastic margarita cup at Target? (You’re in luck.) Maybe these posts are just boring in different ways, but they are at least more original, so, yes. Reason number two is that it’s good for me. Speaking enneagramatically, which is not a word, I’m bad at acknowledging and recognizing my feelings (I convert any and all negative feelings into anger), I’m bad at being vulnerable (I always want to look confident and in control), and I’m bad at sharing my weak and darker moments with others. This blog allows me to reflect on all that stuff, and even to share it with you in a way that is highly appealing to me because I don’t have to tell you everything in person. All this to say, thank you for coming here and reading about the ups and downs in my life- it means a lot to me.

For those of you keeping track, I am on day 9 of the 30 day yoga challenge I started last week and I love it. And I’m happy to have stuck with the thing this long instead of abandoning it in lieu of eating more zucchini muffins while re-watching The Katering Show. In the spirit of not over-sharing (for once) I will spare you the added challenges of doing yoga after having two babies, but ask me about it in person and I can practice being vulnerable with you. Namaste, fuckers.

I don’t think you’re fuckers, but I liked the sound of that.

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Tender Italian Meatballs with Rich Tomato Sauce. This is perhaps the first recipe I’ve tried from The Food Lab that I’m not crazy about. The balls were fine, but they were obnoxious to put together. The ingredient list is huge and includes wacky things like soy sauce, gelatin, anchovies, and 1/2 a teaspoon of marmite. That marmite is 7 goddamn dollars! I  was gonna spend some time making fun of the ‘yeast extract’ but then I read its wikipedia page and it actually seems pretty cool. It’s salty and you put it on toast and crackers and in cheese sandwiches and it’s got a lot of folic acid and B vitamins! So okay, marmite, I’ve changed my mind and now think you’re adorable. Anyway, all these extra ingredients made meatballs that taste just about the same as the meatballs I normally make, which don’t cost $400. Also, I burned the hell out of my hand while I was making them. The oil popped and splashed all over my fingers while I was taking its temperature between batches. It hurt so much that I cut off a giant piece of aloe from the front garden, which is likely peed on by passing dogs on the daily, and rubbed it on myself over and over again at parkour, like a weirdo. Anyway, I’m sticking with my old meatballs. And maybe I’ll add marmite.

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Zucchini and Red Onion Fritters, Caprese Salad, Corn on the Cob. We went to Target and bought a pile of random crap we don’t need. Except for the puddle jumper floatie for George, which allows him to swim virtually unassisted through the water and makes my life easier, so, necessary. The kids each got $3 to spend on whatever garbage item appealed to them most. Henry picked out three colors of chalk spray which shot feeble squirts of mildly-tinted water on the pavement that faded almost immediately. George picked out a cheap squirt gun, but then vociferously abandoned it after spotting a red plastic margarita glass. I kept the squirt gun in the cart, sure he would change his mind, but he didn’t- he was all in on the red cup. And he has used it every day since, to have a little bit of apple juice. He pretends he’s drinking other things, like lavender lemonade. I came in from the backyard covered in mosquito bites and George asked me if I would like him to put lavender on them (putting lavender essential oil on bites makes them stop itching) and proceeded to dip his finger in his juice and touch it to each of my itchy spots. It was the dearest moment. It made me feel cared for and made me wonder if George and Henry feel that way when I put lavender on their itchy spots. I hope so.

I was going to make kale, onion and cheddar m’smen (that deliciously oily Moroccan flatbread) from the Hot Bread Kitchen cookbook for dinner, but then spent too much time helping Henry with his electronic snap circuit projects- he’s a boy obsessed. We’re on project 206 of 305 and his projects are getting increasingly more complicated and I am having to help less and less. He made a complicated water alarm with resistors and capacitors and transistors and jumper wires all by himself today- so cool. Anyway, I had to improvise a quick dinner and I came up with this. I didn’t use a recipe for the zucchini fritters and should have- these were limp and soggy. A good day, soggy fritters notwithstanding.

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Would-Be Baguettes. Yeah, they’re not supposed to look like that. I let them rise too long, and then when I went to slash the tops with a very dull knife they collapsed into sad little puddles. I baked them anyway, and we ate them anyway, but they could not reasonably be called baguettes.

Otherwise, we had a very nice day together. Henry and I did eight more hours worth of electronic snap circuit projects and I got to sit under a tree and look at my new Taproot magazine while George played in the sand. It was so lovely and unexpectedly cool outside that I sang a little song:

Me:
Sitting under here
I like it under here
It’s such a very nice day to
Sit
Outside

George: What’s that from? Hamilton?

Broadway here I come.

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Pork Bahn Mi. Andy made this sandwich and took this picture for me! I made the pickled carrots and roasted pork and terrible baguettes and he put the things together when he got home from work (I ran off to a peach party, more on this later). The kids were filthy from playing with the hose in the sandbox and one of the chickens flew into the neighbor’s yard and had to be rescued, and then a different chicken flew into the other neighbor’s yard and also had to be rescued. But by the time I got home, the kids were clean and had eaten and all the chickens were in the coop, so good on you, Andy!

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Yellow Peach Crumb Bun. Or Crumb Bum, as Abbie likes to say. This is basically a peach coffee cake. A thick slab of yogurt-y cake, topped with a pound and a half of sliced peaches, topped with an egregious pile of crumble. It was well-received, but I liked the top two layers a lot more than the cake-y business on the bottom. Maybe I’d just rather have eaten a peach crisp. It’s from the Violet Bakery Cookbook and I’m sorry I couldn’t find the recipe online, because it’s worth having in your arsenal for the name alone. Like blueberry boy bait or wiener wraps.

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I took my crumb bun to a peach party with these ladies! All food52ers that I know and love, with special guest, Bevi, in town from Vermont. It’s weird that we inadvertently dressed in the same color family. It makes us look like sister wives taking a snapshot for our family’s summer newsletter.  What a delight to get to eat a mountain of peach-y things and talk to dear friends without a kid around to muck it up! (Do I need to put a disclaimer about loving my kids here or have we reached the level of familiarity where we can acknowledge that kids muck things up?)

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Peaches and Soft Cheese with Meyer Lemon Chutney. Bevi made the chutney, which was tart and wonderful, from a Laurie Colwin book. I’ve never read her stuff, but I’m told she’s funny and sarcastic and that I must. Abbie made the cheese and surrounded it with perfect peaches and basil. We ate scads of the stuff on slices of baguette. A real one, not the garbage ones I made.

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Flank Steak Salad with Grilled Peaches. Abbie also made this! Shit yes.

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Peach, Pecan, Red Onion, Smoked Cheddar, and Arugula Salad. And Barbara made this! I love the TLC that went into this salad- look at those tiny cheese cubes! And Barbara removed all the stems from the arugula like a badass.

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Beet and White Bean Dip and Crudites. Nancy brought this massive crudite platter and made the mistake of setting it down next to me. I ate a lot of pepperoni.

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Simple Summer Peach Cake. And Barbara also brought this lovely peach cake from food52. The flavor of the cake, which is made with some almond flour and extract and nutmeg, is much more sophisticated than the big slabs of crumb bun I served up, but they both have their place in this world.

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Black-Bottom Meatball Pizza. I feel like throwing in the towel on pizza. It’s way too stressful to try to make it in the oven the right way, with the thing preheated to 550 for an hour, because, though the pizza comes out great, it always sets off the smoke alarm and Henry loses his mind. So I thought I’d try to hack a pizza oven in the grill. I lit the last of our charcoal and a big old pine stump in the chimney (the barbecue kind, not the Santa kind) and let it get roaring hot, then dumped out the coals and wood, put down the grate, and then put my baking stone on top of that and let it preheat for a good long while. This failed spectacularly. The top of the pizza looked pretty damn good, but the bottom of the pizza was black, black, black. I cut the bottoms off the slices and we ate the floppy remains but they were unpalatably smoky. I put the burned bits into the compost pile next to the chickens, where they sat ignored and got rained on. Then Adelaide (our boxer) discovered them and later threw up a pile of black and orange stuff on the carpet in George’s room. A failure from start to finish. And it sucks too- to make that pizza dough I fed the sourdough starter, which takes a day, made a sourdough-leavened pizza dough, which takes another two days, gently shaped it into rounds, and then utterly destroyed it. Such a waste. Just like the baguettes. Bread is hard.

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Pita. But here’s a success! This pita from Hot Bread Kitchen was delicious, easy, and made a million (16). It needed a hot oven too, but Andy took Henry to Best Buy to try on headphones (Henry had never been and walked in, looked around in wonder, and said, “What is this place?”) and to Phoenicia to buy olives and feta and baklava for our dinner, and I was done before they got back without setting off the smoke alarm, huzzah!

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Pita with Pork and Tzatziki, Greek Salad, Olives, Crispy Potatoes. Here’s what we ate, minus the baklava.Those little Moroccan olives were so so good! The pork, which is actually wild hill country pig of one sort or another, shot by my father in law, was leftover from the bahn mi sandwiches. We stuffed it into the pita, which sort of split to make pockets, with tzatziki and kale. Good stuff.

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Bo Ssam, Cucumber Salad. I was just bragging about how much more open-minded Henry and George have become at eating what I put in front of them, but they both just ate rice and complained about all the other elements for this dinner.

Andy watched the kids the whole day while I worked in the backyard, hoeing up weeds that have covered the far-back section of what is supposed to be a decomposed granite path for nearly a year. I loved getting to do that so much. I skipped lunch (unheard of for me) and worked until three in the afternoon. When I came in, this roasted pork smelled better to me than anything else I have ever smelled. And I’ve smelled lots of stuff, y’all. I ended up overcooking it, but it was still pretty great.

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Chocolate Zucchini Muffins. We hosted little unschoolers today, and you know I love to share a platter of muffins and make whole handfuls of children sad when they ask if they’re gluten free and I shake my head slowly. I’m the worst! In my defense, that flour is expensive. This recipe made 48 mini muffins and 12 standard sized muffins- a lot. We went through ’em though. We had a great day with these families! It’s stressful for Henry, who has stated his preference for working quietly with his electronic snap circuits over interacting with people, but he did a pretty great job today. And George too, I think, though later he confessed to hitting a kid a few times, and I saw him push Phinnie down when she wanted a turn on the tricycle. Still, this is progress!

Happy summer vacation! I hope you get to enjoy some lavender lemonade in a cheap plastic novelty cup.

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18 thoughts on “Crumb Bun, Burnt Pizza, and Over-Sharing

  1. joecab June 7, 2016 / 10:41 am

    I love the openness! More more more. But then one of my favorite comic books is Peep Show where this artist Joe Matt talks about his life in Toronto in excruciating detail. I mean he talks about things like … well go look for yourself because I wanna keep things clean.

    I think marmite is the ultimate “love it or hate it” food. It’s hilarious to see their ad campaigns actually play up on this in a way we’d never do in the US. There was a delightful Paddington Bear TV series in the 1970s that someone recreated 10 years ago just to make commercials for marmite: Paddington loves it but there’s always someone else trying it and looking like their going to throw up.

    That “Have you had raw beets?!” reminds me of stories I’ve heard of panicked parents to young kids freaking out when they see the baby’s diaper is all red, forgetting what they ate the night before.

    • arielleclementine June 7, 2016 / 4:03 pm

      Thank you, Joe! I’m definitely going to check out Peep Show- I love the gritty stuff. That’s so funny about the marmite ads- I read on wikipedia that it has become a term to express ‘love it or hate it’ because it’s so polarizing, but I’m surprised they’d mention that in their ad campaigns- very unlike the US. I want to find that paddington ad! My kids have never eaten enough beets to have this happen, but it has surprised me in my own body a couple of times. I spend 4-24 hours thinking that I’m dying of some weird kidney disease before I remember that I’ve eaten beets.

      • joecab June 7, 2016 / 6:24 pm

        Just search YouTube for “Paddington Marmite advert” and you should find all three of them. There’s also a “Making of…” video of how they recreated the look of the original show (which is also worth looking for). They really did a stellar job.

  2. Abbie June 7, 2016 / 11:06 am

    I didnt notice our sister-wife attire! Thats awesome! I call the Roomba my sister-wife. Hey have you tried pizza on the grill? It works well as long as you remember to oil it or spray with no stick. Grill, flip, add toppings, close the top to melt the cheese. Best with pre cooked toppings.

    • arielleclementine June 7, 2016 / 4:05 pm

      Yes! We look good together! And the roomba is a welcome addition. I have tried pizza on the grill- I only have a charcoal one, not a gas one, and I’ve had such a hard time getting it to cook through properly without getting too dark on the outside. I need to watch you do it! Maybe I should try again and spread the coals out thinner so they’re not so close to the grate? Even with doughy spots and blackened edges my grilled pizzas were far better than the completely burned ones from this post.

  3. Barbara June 7, 2016 / 11:32 am

    I didn’t notice that we were dressed as sister wives either! Love that! Do you have the pita recipe? I tried to make pita from a recipe I was testing for Food52, and it was kind of a disaster. But I keep thinking that I should be able to make pita. And, Abbie, thanks for the grilled pizza tip– pizza is another bane of my existence. I guess I’m bread challenged.

    • arielleclementine June 7, 2016 / 4:07 pm

      Yes! I love our accidental coordination! Do you still have your copy of hot bread kitchen from the library? The pita recipe is in there. Otherwise, I’ll take a picture and send it to you! I looked for it online but couldn’t find it :/ Let’s do another food party where we try to make pizza! Will you help us, Abbie?

      • Abbie June 7, 2016 / 4:26 pm

        ABSOLUTELY! Next up, poolside pizza!!!!!!

      • Barbara June 7, 2016 / 7:35 pm

        No, I had to return it to the library. I meant to photograph it, but I forgot. Yes pizza!

  4. Ben Smith (@BenMSmith) June 7, 2016 / 2:10 pm

    Marmite! I love the stuff, but then again, I’m also one of those weirdos who actively liked/had more of the Moxie at MaineCon a few years ago. One thing I love to do with it (courtesy Nigella Lawson) is use it as a easy sauce for spaghetti – 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, 1 teaspoon Marmite (or more, b/c Marmite). Basically, you cook the spaghetti and reserve some of the water before you drain it. Then you melt the butter in a pan and add the marmite and about a tablespoon of the pasta water and stir to let everything meld. Then you just toss that with the pasta, adding more pasta water to bring stuff together if needed. The final result has a nice umami thing going on and is really good with parmesan.

    • arielleclementine June 7, 2016 / 4:08 pm

      Ben! Thank you! I was going to poke around for other ways to use this stuff! I’m a huge huge fan of buttered noodles with parmesan- the boys and I eat it for lunch almost every week. I will add marmite next time!

  5. Cathy June 7, 2016 / 2:41 pm

    Oh pizza. I’ve been fighting with it for years. I think it has to be easier, but we’ve had way too many pizzas like yours. Black on the bottom so we scavenge at the toppings and a little bread. I am sorry to be so far away from all your wonderful Austin F52ers. I have a blue dress, too. xo

    • arielleclementine June 7, 2016 / 4:10 pm

      Oh thank you, Cathy! You made me feel better! I wish you were here too. You’re absolutely an honorary sister-wife! xoxo

  6. ht June 8, 2016 / 4:27 pm

    long time lurker, but thought i’d comment to encourage you to keep posting honestly and openly. I don’t have kids, but i find your posts to be very relate-able and not boring at all. i actually enjoy your sense of humor and writing style. you are very human and you have flaws, as do your kids and everyone you interact with and to whom you have negative reactions (and be hard on yourself for). if we could all self-reflect and acknowledge these things about ourselves and each other, right?

    • arielleclementine June 11, 2016 / 1:44 am

      thank you so for taking the time out to comment! and for your encouragement. this blog probably is my first foray into really stopping to take the time to reflect on how I’ve handled myself, and it has been challenging and rewarding in equal measure. thank you so much for reading ❤

  7. elainetyger June 9, 2016 / 12:03 am

    You could do worse than feel angry. My Ex the 8 had colitis and every time he got upset there would be an additional 2 or 3 trips to the toilet on top of the usual daily dozen and with much more pain than usual.

    Anchovy paste us probably in a lot more Italian recipes than tomato paste is.

    Love the stories of George’s cup and Henry’s project. LOL at the pizza’s last hurrah.

    • arielleclementine June 11, 2016 / 1:41 am

      Thank you, Tyger! It’s never occurred to me to think about the side effects of keeping anger in. I wish I was better at keeping small annoyances in perspective, but I will take some time to be grateful that my open-ness has at least been better for my body.

      I’m a big fan of anchovies but I’m also cheap, and when I’ve spent $17 on the beef and pork for meatballs, I grimace at any additional cost, even if it’s only another $2 for a tin of anchovies.

      Thanks for the love and your insights ❤

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