I ripped up all the carpet in my house. And all the plastic laminate that looks like wood but is actually just pictures of wood glued to plastic that smelled like one hundred thousand tennis balls when I pulled it up. And I stacked up all this flooring and carried it out to two big bagster bags (that’s half bag and half dumpster) in our front yard. And I did it all by myself, mostly! It was dusty and satisfying. Before I set up the bagster bags, the filthy carpets and filthier carpet pads were rolled up and piled in a heap by the front door. The kids loved that pile of dusty old carpet. They climbed all over it and named it, for reasons I still don’t understand, The King of England. George would say, “Hey, Henry! Let’s go climb the King of England!” and they’d run off to hurl their bodies into the heap, sending clouds of dust and pet hair swirling through the air. Andy and I set up the first bagster bag and moved the carpet pile in the dead of night. George woke up the next morning and burst into tears when he saw it was gone.
We’re getting new flooring, a strand-woven bamboo. I thought it would be here by now but it turns out we’ve got at least three more weeks to wait for it. I will use this time to fret about my children falling out of bed and cracking their heads on the cement.
Speaking about fretting over the untimely demise of my children- Andy and I went away for an overnight trip to San Antonio this weekend and left the kids with Andy’s mom and dad. This was our first night away from them. Andy’s mom is brilliant with the kids, and they adore her and Art, but still I found (crazy) reasons to worry. What if they fall in the pool? What if they mess with the dog while he’s eating and get mauled? What if Andy and I are in a fiery car crash? We really need to write a will. But everything was okay! Great, even! The kids had fun, they got to eat pancakes and watch movies. Andy and I got to talk to each other and hold hands and eat without having to stop to help George pee on the potty. And sleep through the night, with no one climbing into our bed at six in the morning to rub my elbows! We went to PAX, a video and tabletop gaming expo, and got to see our puzzler friend Mike who makes amazing games, one of which, Thornwatch, we got to playtest. I was a Sage, trying to protect little villager children from being carried off by gliders using my elemental forest magic. A mighty fine way to spend an afternoon. We also saw Mike’s panel, went out to a fancy and weird dinner (more on this later), and played a bunch of board games in the massive tabletop gaming room, including my favorite from last year, Morels! A mushroom foraging game! I lost both times. Andy’s just a better mushroom forager. We also really liked Hounded, where one person plays as a fox and the other person plays as a five-team hunting party trying to kill the fox. I was the fox, and your goal is to flip over the tiles that make up the game board and uncover the morning, afternoon, and evening tiles without getting cornered by the hunters, each of whom have their own chess-like movement abilities, and this time I won. So foxy. Probably the overlap between people who come to my blog for food/uterus stories and people who also want to hear about board games at length isn’t great, so I’ll leave it at that. We had a great time and we were so lucky to get to strike out on our own for a day- thank you Mary and Art!
Here’s what we ate this week.
Easy Weeknight Chili with Blue Earth Farm‘s Heritage Ground Pork. Look at how I’m a real food blogger with that artful cilantro splash in the corner. It’s there and not on top of the chili because we weren’t hungry yet but the sun was going down, so I put some chili in a bowl, took its picture, and then slopped it back in the pot to sit until we were ready to eat it. This chili is from The Food Lab and is worth the price of admission. The recipe’s not online, or else I’d link it here. I think a bracing amount of tomato paste and a splash of whiskey at the end are what set it apart, but this amazing and beautifully fatty ground pork didn’t hurt either.
Okonomiyaki, Thai Sweet Potato Salad. I’ll be honest, I half-assed the implementation of this salad and completely ruined it. I used all the lime juice in the world which turned out to be too much. I ate the peanuts off the top and gave the rest to the chickens. Or else we threw it away so Adelaide didn’t go out there in the cover of darkness and eat lime-y sweet potato hunks and then throw it up on our concrete floor. Andy does the clean up while I play a pirate game with the kids on my phone so I don’t know where this stuff ended up. Okonomiyaki is good and cabbage-y!
Christy’s Honey Flank Steak, Gwyneth’s Sesame Noodles with Roasted Broccoli and Furikake. This is a perfect after-parkour dinner, when I get home at six and we have to eat right away. The flank steak marinates in hefty pours of honey and tamari plus a fistful of minced ginger overnight, and then you can grill it up quickly right before dinner. The noodles are even easier. I added broccoli that I tossed in coconut oil and roasted at 425 for 15 minutes, so we weren’t just eating meat and noodles for dinner. The kids just ate meat and noodles for dinner though. Henry painstakingly removed the scallions and broccoli from his pasta and put them in a little pile on the table next to his plate. George said he didn’t want to eat any of this stuff, but later pulled his chair up next to the meat plate and picked out the choice crispy bits. Bah.
Pupusas with Curtido and Refried Beans. This meal obligingly used up the ends of things that have been hanging around the fridge and pantry. The last hunk of cabbage leftover from last week’s winter slaw and this week’s okonomiyaki became curtido, an oregano-y quick-pickled cabbage condiment. And a sack of tamale masa that’s been in the pantry since Christmas became the dough.
I made a bunch of cheese-filled pupusas, which are a cinch, and a couple bean-filled ones, which are a nightmare. Henry doesn’t like cheese so I probably would have done this for him anyway, but I had to do it this time because we’re in our second week of a dairy-free experiment for him because he’s been complaining about his stomach and the doctor said it’s probably dairy. It looks like she’s right because he hasn’t complained about his stomach at all. Which is good and kind of sucks too because Henry loves all non-cheese dairy- he guzzles milk, yogurt, sour cream by the bucketful. I’m hoping he can still have a little in moderation- noodles with butter and parmesan, a slice of cake- and just not do the crazy glass of milk + bowl of yogurt breakfasts he’s become accustomed to.
Roasted Chicken, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Sage Stuffing. I want a thanksgiving dinner approximately every 8 weeks. This month’s installment cut out anything virtuous and doubled down on carbs and gravy.
On Friday, the kids had their first of 18 weekly swim classes, and they loved it. Each of their teachers were fun with a masochistic streak- Henry’s teacher encouraged the two kids in her charge to kick water in her face with their flippers, George’s teacher asked him and another tiny child for high-fives after each round of activity and would then throw herself underwater when they acquiesced in a sort of slapstick routine to show how strong the kids’ high fives were. She did this EVERY TIME. I think she’s in her early twenties, but still, how can anyone muster that level of energy? After class, we walked around a nearby Randalls to look for something the kids could eat for dinner with Andy while I was at enneagram. They proposed blueberry pop tarts, which they had never tried (being ardent devotees of the strawberry flavor) and I said, fuck it, let’s go for it.
Botika. And a real dinner! Out on a date with Andy! We ate a million more things than this, but I didn’t want to be the asshole who took pictures of everything. When I read about this menu online, I was so excited. It’s South American + Japanese fusion and I wanted to eat everything. We almost did too, because it was happy hour and also restaurant week. We tried everything on the happy hour menu, split the restaurant week menu, and got a bonus order of eel and hamachi nigiri. Some things, like that nigiri and the mushroom and green chile empanadas from the top photo were really good, other things were not, like the eggrolls at the edge of the bottom photo which tasted of nothing and came with a sickly sweet dipping sauce, and a cube of pork from the restaurant week menu that was so dense it was almost impenetrable. Worse though, was the befuddled service. The first thing they brought out was two orders of the empanadas- we said we’d only ordered one and the lady said, oh okay! This happened again with the eggrolls. And then they brought out the nigiri and said, we are SO SORRY this took so long, when it definitely hadn’t. For the rest of the happy hour items, someone would come up to our table and ask if we’d received our tuna tartar yet, or how about the Japanese peanuts? (N.B. Don’t order the Japanese peanuts). And after the happy hour stuff they just stopped bringing things for a while. Finally, our waiter came back to ask if we’d gotten any of our restaurant week stuff yet, and we said no. Eventually we got the rest of the courses- a tiny empanada, this time duck-filled, that came with a sadistically spicy peanut sauce, a miso soup that was supposed to be South-American-ified with cubes of queso fresco instead of tofu, but which were not present in our serving, that crazy pork brick, and a mango pudding that we asked to come out with the pork and our check because we had been there for eons and wanted to get back to PAX. Everyone was really nice- the waiter, the ladies that brought the food out- but it seems like they have no idea where the food is supposed to go once it comes out of the kitchen. It was the same story at all the tables around us. A server brought a bowl of soup to a guy sitting next to us and then bizarrely sort of accused him of trying to take a soup that he hadn’t ordered/paid for. At the table on the other side of us, a server brought out a dish of noodles but didn’t know what she was holding or who at the table ordered it, so she said, “I have some noodles. With, uh, vegetables?” And a guy was like, “Uh, I ordered the short rib noodles?” And she said “Yeah, I said that’s what this is.” So weird! Also, they had a giant dragon head ice sculpture. That’s neither here nor there, but in reckoning the pros and cons of a restaurant, you can’t not mention a dragon head ice sculpture. Also the bathroom is pretty. So you know. I guess I can’t recommend it. Unless you have lots of time to spend eating occasionally good and occasionally not good food and would enjoy watching the surreal theater of servers being sent out into a sea of tables holding something, they know not what, for someone, they know not whom.