Hebrew Songs of Brotherhood and YouTube Songs of Saturday Shorts

When my sister and I were little, my mom taught us a Hebrew song that you sing while holding hands and dancing in a circle, and I never really knew what the words were but I sang along anyway, “ee-nay-mah-tow.” I still love it though, and sing it to the boys sometimes, with my own made up word-sounds in place of the real Hebrew. So, earlier this month, I was digging through the music books piled in our piano bench because one of the kids I sponsored for Christmas listed piano books on his wishlist and we had several that had never been used. Among all those books, I found one that I think Helen got for me years ago called A Harvest of Jewish Song, which I had never really looked through before. I found a bookmark in it and opened it up to the song Hine Ma Tov! It has the real lyrics and the real melody and I’ve spent the past few weeks learning how to play it! I can only play the top part so far though, and I really wanted to play it for Helen on the last night of Hanukkah, so Andy learned the bottom part for me and we can now play it (slowly) as a duet! To steal a phrase from Pop Culture Happy Hour, it is one of the things making me happy this month. Also in that category: watching The Great British Baking Show for the first time (Andy and I just started season 3), reading (I just got my hands on a copy of The Son and before that Molly loaned me and I devoured Little Fires Everywhere), going to the movies after the kids go to bed (Molly and I saw Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri, which the more I thought about, the more I did not like, and Lady Bird, which has my whole heart and brought me back to what it felt like to be a teenager more than anything I have ever experienced. The main character, like myself, was a theatre nerd who graduated in 2002. We also had very similar, painfully similar, first crushes. Anyway, it’s great!), and basking in the warm glow of my new nephew, Ollie, who is almost three months now and just the best little sack of warm pudding! Oh and also, I finished the very last of my Christmas shopping today!

Those are the happy things! There is also a list of things that are stressing me the fuck out. Not writing a blog post is on that list. So is not writing a presentation about writing blog posts, which I am supposed to present to a group of 150 retired professionals at UT in February. Gonna really have to step up my blogging game before that to not feel like a total fraud. I have also been neglecting my correspondence with some dear friends and procrastinating on several important projects for Yawp and not eating enough fruits and vegetables. There’s not enough hours in the day for all these things (except for the fruits and vegetables thing, I could probably squeeze that in), after Henry and George (who I love very much!) have gorged themselves on 14 of my 17 waking hours and right now I’m prioritizing the Great British Baking Show and learning how to play the right-hand part of an old Jewish circle song.

Here’s what we did this month!

My kids are weird and I feel that I can best convey that weirdness to you by way of this photograph.

Hungarian Goulash. You don’t stir large globs of sour cream into this stew at the end and somehow it still manages to be exactly what you want from a goulash- tender meat, perfect potatoes, and a silky, paprika-y broth. It’s that Lopez-Alt magic!

Rose and Grace Mini Farm. Here’s some big news for you from the past month. There is a little farm in Austin where you and your children can dress up bunnies. You can brush their fur in their own little apartments, adorn them with bows and costumes, and push them in strollers or wear them in bunny backpacks. The rest of the farm is just as enchanting. There’s a petting zoo and a beautiful playground and a menagerie and a birthday party room and a dance party room. Let’s just all agree to have all future birthday parties at this place, okay?

Cold Sesame Noodles with Celery Salad, Fried Brussels Sprouts with Fish Sauce Vinaigrette. Everybody loved these noodles from Melissa Clark’s fab Dinner cookbook. The brussels sprouts are a dish I made obsessively, over and over for months, until I got completely sick of them and didn’t make them for a year or more. They were so delicious, and the kids loved them too, but, and I’ll warn you before I go on that this is completely repulsive, they made me burp burps that smelled like brussels sprouts and I super hated that. Was it a weird thing about my body chemisty that day? Or will they do that to me again if I make them again? I didn’t like that and I think I’ll probably stop making them for another year or so. I apologize for sharing that with you.

Abbie’s Weird Citrus Curd. Abbie has a tangerine tree that grows copious amounts of a fruit that tastes nothing like tangerines and tastes everything like lemons. Except the skin, which tastes a little like wet dog. She let me steal a bunch and I used them to make lemon curd and it worked. I used the not-tangerine juice and the zest of a regular lemon and that’s my whole story about that.

Grilled Chicken, Apple Panzanella. Another Abbie-related recipe! This is a panzanella she developed in the early days of Food52. I like to toss the bread cubes with olive oil and salt and pepper and roast them until they get crispy before tossing them with the vinaigrette and other things. We have slipped out of the habit of getting together to cook stuff, but that changes in the new year- we’re gonna start it off with a bang because Joanna and Javi gave me a whole pig head and Abbie is my top number one pick for persons who I would like to prepare a pig head with. I’ll keep you updated on that.

Sour Cherry Pies. My neighbor, one of the ones we rarely talk to, smoked a big giant brisket and gave us a huge slab of it, just to be neighborly! His generosity inspired me to be a good neighbor too, so I made him a thank you pie, made our new across-the-street neighbors a welcome pie, and made half a dozen mini pies for Michael, a neighbor who had assembled the most amazing Halloween treat bags for Henry and George and whom I had not properly thanked, and another half dozen for Otto who does kind and generous stuff for us all the time. This was Thanksgiving week and Central Market was sold out of their frozen sour cherries, so I had to find an alternative. I ended up using 8 jars of Trader Joe’s dark morello cherries in light syrup (drained) and it worked out beautifully. The neighbors liked the pies! The new neighbors gave us a bottle of wine to say thank you and the lady who lives there wrote a very nice note to go with the wine, in which she said that it was “glitterally the best pie” she’d ever had which was doubly nice 1) because she liked my pie and 2) because she introduced me to the word glitterally, which would be just the thing for all sorts of situations.

George tests out the salted caramel sauce.

Thanksgiving with my sister! Half the plate is potatoes. It was too much. We had the most lovely low-key Thanksgiving. Andy and Jordan brought the kids to the playground while Helen and I took turns cooking and holding Ollie (NB: we did not cook Ollie). Then we watched Addams Family Values which is my favorite tangentially Thanksgiving-themed movie (you get that super great turkey song, but there’s also lots of family togetherness), then we ate a lot of food.

Pumpkin Gingersnap Cheesecake with Salted Caramel Sauce. While cooking this cheesecake:

Me: Oh no! My cheesecake’s cracking!
George: Should we throw this one out and start again?
Me: Oh no, it’s okay. It’ll still taste good, it just has a little crack in it.
George: I’d call that a big crack.

But it *did* still taste good. I had originally planned to make this cheesecake, but then idly scrolled down to the comments before starting and got freaked out by all the negative ones and went dashing around the internet for a replacement and settled on this one from the Pioneer Woman who got it from a Williams Sonoma cookbook. I almost always crack my cheesecakes.

Roasted Cauliflower, Grape, and Cheddar Salad, Roasted Delicata Squash with Tahini and Lime. This was the meal where I snapped out of my meat+carbs+sugar rut. I made a meatloaf for dinner, cuz it’s a non-rice, non-pasta meal that the kids will eat, so I’ve been making it kind of a lot. But after I put it in the oven I acknowledged the fact that I super did not want to eat it. I wanted a pretty vegetable thing instead. So I got out my Ottolenghi cookbooks and looked through them for recipes I could make with what I had on hand. I came up with these two things. In preparing the squash dish, you have to supreme a lime, and while I was doing it I realized how very long it had been since I had supremed anything. Which sounds stupid, doesn’t it? But to me the memory of doing that brought home for me that I have not been cooking for pleasure very much anymore. I have slipped into cooking the same boring, reliably-eaten things, and it lit a fire in me to try harder. I loved my dinner, the rest of the family ate these vegetables with meatloaf, and that night, I spent an hour combing through Serious Eats to save new dinner ideas to my Pinterest board. I came up with an exciting menu plan for that week too! But Henry got a stomach bug the next day and I just made boring stuff after all.

Santa and His New Lady at Budafest. George, a big proponent of and believer in all things magical, decided that yes he would like to sit on Santa’s lap this year. He practiced his Christmas list while we waited in line, and when it was his turn, he rattled it off carefully and completely: “two bags of weapons, a balloon, peanuts, purple scissors, and turquoise nail polish.” No, he is not picky on the nature of the bags nor of the specific weapons inside them. Yes, he does want peanuts, even though he does not like them, so he can cut the shells open with his new purple scissors. I think we lost Santa at the nail polish request, but he’ll just have to deal with that one. Speaking of rigid expectations for who should wear what, someone put a white wig on this 38 year old Mrs. Clause, please!

Molly spent five of her hard-earned American dollars so we could pose, giddily, for a picture with this very fine owl. It went to charity or something, and we got literally 40 different photos of us with an owl so I think it’s safe to say it was money well-spent.

Tiny Chicken Pot Pies. I wanted to caption this “a million fucking pot pies!”  in reference to Lindsay Bluth Fünke’s diamond cream, but then I couldn’t find a gif for that to explain it to people who did not watch Arrested Development obsessively so I’ve chosen to awkwardly explain it to you here instead, because every time I looked down at this tray, “a million fucking pot pies!” is the line that went through my head.

I needed to make a pot luck dish for Andy’s Toastmaster Christmas party and I knew I wanted to make some sort of one-bite savory pastry and I had all the stuff for chicken pot pie on hand and so I went for it. It took me a long time but I loved making them and super-loved eating them.

Henry’s snowman is my favorite thing in this world. Don’t you just want to punch it in the face?

It snowed here!

Yes, he’s barefoot.

George kicked this pile of day-after snow for a literal  (glitteral? probably not the time) 30 minutes. At some point, a couple teenage boys rode into the park with a mountain bike and skateboard, to practice going down some big rocky hills, and Henry and George wandered over to engage them in a snowball fight. My first instinct was to stop them. To say, hey, those kids are too cool and busy to have a snowball fight with you. But instead I didn’t say anything and decided to just sit on the outskirts and let the interaction unfold without my meddling. I am so glad I did. The teenage boys ended up being great with kids and hilarious and wonderful and they had an epic snowball fight with my boys that lasted for a very long time. George and Henry left the playground rosy-cheeked and beaming with pride that they held their own in a snowball fight with big teen-aged kids. Thank you, random teenagers! I love that you did that!

Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies. I made a big batch of these cookies, which keep very well, to mail to my brothers on the west coast and brought the surplus cookies with me to Molly’s house, where Food52ers and friends-of-Abbie gathered for our annual stocking-stuffing/gift pile-amassing party in support of the Girl Scouts Beyond Bars troop.

Zahav’s Hummus with Pita and Olives. I also made this hummus, because I’d been looking for an excuse to try it and getting together with fancy food lady-friends seemed as good an excuse as any. The recipe is different from standard hummus in a few important ways- you soak the chickpeas in baking soda water and then cook them until they’re falling apart in more baking soda water (this took less than an hour for me). Then you mix them with a tahini sauce that includes a full cup of tahini. You do this in the blender, not the food processor, until it is “ultracreamy and fluffy” which the recipe cautions may take “upward of about 2 minutes” but which took me, with my crappy blender, closer to 10. It did eventually get fluffy though! And it was smooth and lovely without having to peel the skins off the cooked chickpeas.

Look at all these fun stocking stuffers! My contribution was definitely the shittiest- I brought two bag fulls of Halloween candy that Henry and George had donated to the cause from their own ridiculous stashes. I did go through the candy to remove anything that was specifically branded for Halloween and I also stored the chocolate candy separately from the fruity candy so that they didn’t end up tasting like each other. But, yeah, it doesn’t compare to toe socks or a fluffy feather-tipped pen!

We bought gifts for the 22 girls in the GSBB program and for their siblings as well. One of the things I love so much about getting to do this is that we get wishlists from the kids so we know exactly what they would love to get for Christmas, we know their clothing sizes and shoe sizes and favorite colors and favorite snacks and it really feels like we get to make some of their dreams come true.

This year, one of the Girl Scouts had a baby. Her wishlist items were money for food and diapers and our collective hearts broke for her. Having a baby is so hard, was so hard for me, as a full grown adult with money for diapers and all the other stuff you might need or want for a baby. Abbie, that beautiful creature, came up with the idea that all the sponsors contribute to a sort of virtual baby shower, so we could stock this new baby up with diapers and wipes and other necessities. She reached out to her friends across the country, who sent in their own donations, including a beautiful hand-made baby quilt, made especially for this new baby. In the end, we were able to fill a cubicle with donations for her, books and clothes and a car seat and a diaper bag and a pack ‘n play and gift cards and so much more. I hope it helps this girl scout and her family breathe a little easier in these first few months. Thank you to Abbie for your brilliant idea and to everyone who contributed to make the idea a reality.

Here are some of the many incredible women who participated in this year’s gift drive! Thank you to Molly for hosting once again! Thank you all for your generosity and kindness! And a big thank you to Helen for taking our picture! Plus the other pictures from Molly’s house! You make hummus look real good, sister.

Let’s close it up with two other rando things that made me happy this month. The first is something I overheard George saying to himself while standing in front of the pantry looking for a snack:

“I don’t want a snack and I don’t want a meal. I want something between thick and delicate.” He ended up settling on a griddled and buttered tortilla.

The second is this youtube channel, of which I love everything but most notably this, this, and this. Saturday shorts!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a Great British Baking Show to watch. Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy All the Things!


Lost Maples and Falling in Love with Cracker Barrel

We’re gonna just blow right past last month, okay? I tried to write a blog post before this one, with photos of all the best stuff we ate last month, and pumpkin patches and Halloween costumes and baby Ollie and adventures with my mom, and I just can’t. It’s too much ground to cover and I just missed it by not writing blog posts in the moment. October brought an onslaught of activities, good ones, but ones that required me to do/build/cook/create things in relentless waves, so it felt like I was just hurtling from one project to the next. This camping trip to Lost Maples was a beautiful break- an obligation-free three days where we hiked around and sat around and went to bed when it got dark outside. I came home feeling good and productive and utterly unwilling to try to put words to the the 40-picture blog post draft that was meant to recap everything we did last month. So, camping! Let’s just talk about camping.

[I had to get up to go pee after writing that mea culpa paragraph and there was a big cockroach in the bathroom and Andy isn’t home because he’s out seeing Thor: Ragnarok so I had to deal with it and tried to jam it to death with George’s potty, which I failed to do, so I went and got my sandal and smashed the thing and then I had to clean it up and so my entire worldview has changed between that first paragraph and all that will come after because everything is terrible. Also my new neighbors are having some sort of party in their garage which involves alternately shrieking and then singing Adele’s Hello in chorus. That’s apropos of nothing, but I thought you should know.]

Lost Maples was a lot less maple-y than I was expecting. There were maple trees there, but there were not big acres-full of endless maples in a panorama of fiery fall colors. We saw them here and there. They planted one on each of the 20 or so campsites, one of which we, callously, I was to learn, used to support one half our hammock. A park ranger stopped by to tell us that they did not allow folks to use maples to support hammocks, which made a lot of sense once I stopped and thought about it. I am a boorish city slicker.

While Andy and I set up camp, the kids explored the woods surrounding our site. George promptly climbed a tree and then fell halfway out of it, catching himself and hanging precariously from a branch. He screamed awfully, which he’s wont to do even when he’s not dangling from a tree limb, so Andy went and got him down while the mom at the neighboring campsite looked on, scandalized. Andy came back and said he thought he’d picked up on some judgment from the lady, which is fair, I guess.

Sloppy Joes. We finally got our fire going, having forgotten any form of fire-starter and finding only damp things for kindling, and used it to reheat a skillet-full of sloppy joes that I had cooked at home the night before.

Bonus shot, with foot. We ate it with Doritos because we are living our best lives, and when George saw me taking this picture he stood up on the bench and lifted his foot so it could be in the picture too. We may never know why.

It was pitch-black by six o’clock. We sat around the campfire after dinner- the kids roasted marshmallows and then we burned a mystical fire and watched that for a little while and then just called it a night. We read to the kids until they fell asleep and then I got to stay up reading Lonesome Dove, which maybe I love more than any book I’ve ever read. I haven’t finished it yet- I’ve still got a couple hundred pages to go- but it is my new favorite thing. I have never seen the mini-series, and after reading this far, I can’t really understand how they ever made one, because it’s all whores and grizzly death scenes, but maybe I’ll watch it when I finish the book. I love Gus so much. In spite of everything that has happened so far, I think it’s so funny and moving and captivating. I want to read lots more McMurtry books after this so will you tell me if you have a special favorite? Anyway, we all slept pretty well except for that time some unidentified night monster tried to chew its way through our tent so it could fall on my face. It was, thankfully, unsuccessful.

Sausage and Egg Breakfast Tacos. Our standard camping breakfast. The dry ice froze the sausage and carbonated the eggs (they got really frothy in the pan before they settled down and scrambled like you’d expect a healthy young egg to do) but everything worked out okay anyway.

There are miles of trails at Lost Maples. Andy and the kids expressed interest in doing the third of a mile, twenty minute long Maple Trail but, but, I said, what if we did the four hour looping trail that would start with the Maple Trail, take us up the 2,200 foot high cliffside past MONKEY ROCK, whatever that might turn out to be, and connected back to the parking lot where we left the car instead? No one but me was overly enthusiastic about this, but I was a relentless and dogged champion for the cause and I won, you guys, I won.

Henry and George’s Simon and Garfunkel-inspired album cover. They don’t actually have an album cover that looks like this, but they could have done. Also, Henry and George have the right relative heights and hairstyles, just saying. At the beginning of our trek, the kids insisted on climbing each and every rock they encountered, and which they mysteriously referred to as “whoppers.”

Us on a bench! I had taken a photo for a lady earlier in the hike, and then she walked past us while we were sitting on this bench and said, “that’s a good picture- do you have a phone?” And she took this photo for us, which I thought was very kind and thoughtful!

I guess this is another Simon and Garfunkel-inspired album cover. A real one, this time.

Bow down before your new monkey overlord. We found monkey rock! And it did not disappoint. Isn’t that the monkey-est rock you ever saw?

About halfway through the hike, things got real. We had to climb up a lot of steep hills and George, who had walked the whole way so far, began to wring his hands at the difficulty of the whole thing. We told him we’d stop as often as he needed to for breaks, but that we were not going to carry him on this hike, because we were also tired and we didn’t want to. Here’s Henry on one such break, while we tried to encourage George with a pep talk and plied him with the M&Ms out of the trail mix bag.

The scenic overlook! We made it! The shots in this post were carefully curated to not show the absolute swarms of other people on the trails with us. There were so many other people, whole giant extended families hiking together while listening to Journey on some sort of portable stereo. So we were less remote and disconnected from society than this sprawling wilderness picture might imply. And look at that mist! It was real moist up there.

I just thought it was pretty.

We found a fern-y waterfall on the other side of the mountain! (It’s not actually a mountain, I just don’t know what else to call it, because calling it a hill feels demoralizing). The heavy mist stole the puffiness from our hair.

We also found a puddle and threw some rocks at it. Also, my kids are filthy.

There’s the fall foliage! It was on the ground.

Jambalaya. After our hike, we headed back to the campsite to laze around for the rest of the sunlit hours. We built a fire and had an early dinner of jambalaya, which Henry said was his favorite part of the whole weekend. We ended the evening with another marshmallow/mystical fire/early bedtime extravaganza and it was warmer that night, so we all slept a little better than we had the night before.

Such a good sport! I think Andy is too practical a person to ever truly and deeply enjoy camping, because why would you drive away from your bed and your food and your shower to sleep in the woods on the dirt? But he never complains and is very kind and helpful and I sure do love him for indulging me in this.

The Holiday Sampler n’ Cinnamon Biscuit Breakfast at Cracker Barrel. None of us had ever eaten at a Cracker Barrel, even though there’s one very near to us in Buda, so we stopped to eat at one in Kerrville on the way home the next morning. Honestly, I fucking loved it. We all did. Look at all the things they give you for breakfast! Every breakfast menu item, I am not joking, comes with a side of biscuits and gravy! Isn’t that equal parts insane and delightful?! This holiday sampler also came with a cinnamon drop biscuit with a double-coating of icing and that was amazing too. Also you get three kinds of meats and two eggs and a slab of hashbrown casserole and a bowl of grits and a dish of fried apples. And it’s 8 damn dollars! And the kids menu is legit. George got a lovely big pancake with his own tiny bottle of maple syrup and Henry got a plate of country fried shrimp with cocktail sauce and a hushpuppy (“It tastes like a risotto ball without the risotto!”) and a side of dumplings. Dumplings! And there are fun games on the kid’s menu too. The waitresses were all real folksy and there’s a general store-style gift shop that sells moon pies and goo goo clusters and giant novelty versions of candy bars, and just the whole thing, top to bottom, was glorious. Have I dropped a little in your esteem? It’s okay. I’ll comfort myself with sweet sweet cinnamon biscuits.

So, you guys, we’re back on track. I wrote a blog post and we’re forgetting about all the other stuff that came before this, and I promise to share some pictures of my glorious fatty new nephew in the next one! Also, please give me all the McMurtry recommendations and Cracker Barrel feedback you have. Thank you! Good bye!

Baby Oliver! Plus Ball Sagas and Tooth Horror Stories and Some Really Good Soup


Look, you guys. Look at this big beautiful baby that my sister grew in her very own body. His name is Oliver, he is two weeks old, and I want to insert my whole face into his neck fat. That neck fat goes around to the back too, he’s got a little neck fat roll back there! Oliver, or Ollie, as his older and wiser sister Phinnie insists he be called, is a darling baby. He loves to be held and he dislikes farting. I’m so happy to get to live vicariously through my sister and hold this gorgeous baby from time to time but not have to do the staying up all night while simultaneously recovering from the messy process of getting the kid out of your body in the first place. Call your mom and thank her, cuz this shit is the worst. (Thank you, mom!) But worth it! Cuz, babies.

Oliver was born on a Tuesday, which, according to a rhyme that my mom knows, means that he is “full of grace.” This seems right. He is a kind and gentle spirit, I think. Relatedly, George was born on a Wednesday which means he is “full of woe” so I think there’s really something to this poem because he’s perpetually hurting himself in mind-boggling ways. Welcome to the world, and to the family, baby Oliver! We are so glad you’re here and we’re all excited to learn and grow with you.

Ollie is clearly the big news around here, but here’s some other stuff. I’ve been off Facebook for a month. I still hop on and dick around in there for no reason sometimes, when I’m looking for ways to procrastinate doing a task I don’t want to do, but there isn’t much to see and I hop off again pretty quickly. But it does still feel like I’m in the process of learning to live a life where I’m not constantly on my phone. I’m not there yet. Almost every night, after I read to the kids, I go for a long walk. I take my dear old dog, Adelaide, out with me for the first little jaunt of it, but she gets really tired really fast, trailing slowly behind me at the end of the leash, pretending to stop and smell the ground every four feet or so. So I just walk with her for about twenty minutes, then drop her off at home and continue on for another 40 minutes or so. I love walking at night and listening to podcasts (my favorites are Pod Save America and Pop Culture Happy Hour) and looking at all the houses in my neighborhood. I do not like men who insinuate themselves into this process. Every time I have strayed from my neighborhood on these walks, into the nearby strip mall, or onto Stassney or South First for a block to get to another part of the neighborhood, some stupid guy has bothered me. With cat calls or honking at me or, in one case, actually stopping his stupid mustang in the middle of the road to yell, ‘need a ride?’. No, fucker. I need you all to leave me alone so I can listen to my podcast. (Shitty) people say all the time that women who dress a certain way are asking for or inviting this behavior. But honestly, I am barely recognizable as female on these walks. It’s dark. My hair is up. I’m wearing a t-shirt and jeans. And they still bother me. Probably the same people who comment on women’s wardrobe choices will also say that a woman shouldn’t walk around alone at night, because that’s inviting this behavior too. That’s just not fair. I’m going to keep walking at night, but I’m mostly going to try to avoid the big busy streets near me. I shouldn’t have to do that though, and I wanted to go on record here to say that.

Other things. I turned 34 and I made some scones and a beastly loaf of bread and the best soup in the world to celebrate. I’ve spent a lot of time with my sister and brother-in-law Jordan and Phinnie and my mom. I’ve cooked. I’ve been in too many Walmarts. And I’ve coerced Andy into wearing a unicorn wig and joining me at a real-live party for grown up humans. Here we go.

Mrs-MFing-Larkin’s Blueberry Scones! These scones were one of the best things I ate in the past year and were a no-brainer birthday breakfast. They are glorious.

Sushi at Kome. With my mom and George! Isn’t my mom adorable? George too. (Andy and Henry were at Henry’s weekly math class). My mom and I split one hundred pieces of sushi and George got this fantastic $6 kids meal that had so many delicious things, including 2 pieces of fried chicken and 2 sweet and sour meatballs and a potato croquette. He only ate the rice and drank the tiny yogurt drink though, so I brought everything else home and ate it for lunch at Yawp the next day.

Obscene-looking but delicious and easy Milk Bread. I don’t know what the hell happened here- the recipe said it made two loaves of bread, so I put half the dough in a loaf pan and formed the other half into rolls. The loaf pan half exploded out of the pan into the grotesque form you see before you, but every bit of it was light and fluffy and rich and wonderful. We ate the whole loaf for dinner and I froze the rolls for later.

Creamy Tomato-Fennel Soup. My birthday dinner. And this soup! Remember that soup I loved at Duckfat when we were on vacation in Maine this summer? Well I went poking around for the recipe online and found that one of my two very favorite food bloggers had shared the recipe for it this winter! It turns out that the secret to what makes this soup incredible is a staggering full quart of heavy cream. Cooking fennel with onion and a lot of fennel seeds adds to the magic too, but I think it’s the ratio of cream to tomato that makes it so great. I have made it as written several times and I’ve also made a Whole 30 version by omitting the wine and (tiny amount of) sugar and replacing the heavy cream with coconut cream- it was really really delicious also. If you like creamy tomato soups and fennel and fat, I heartily encourage you to try this recipe. I love it so much.

Reading at Yawp! Henry has been devouring books. He’s on book nine of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. I haven’t read them, but judging by what Henry has shared with me, this Wimpy Kid seems like a real asshole. Henry loves them though, and said that he thinks that every book in the series should “get that award they give to the best chapter books.” He’s also read a whole lot of Magic Tree House books, the first Harry Potter book, and many others, all in the past month. Honestly, I feel like even if the only homeschooling-y thing I ever did for Henry was to bring him to the library, he’d do just fine.

Rosh Hashanah. We celebrated by eating some apples and honey as the sun went down, and then, inspired by the candlelight, we went around the table and told scary stories, and then we all blew our candles out at the same time and said “happy halloween!” which wasn’t entirely appropriate for the holiday, but it was George’s idea and it made him happy so we did it.

Lunch at The Leaning Pear. In the weeks leading up to Ollie’s birth, we tried a few things to kickstart Helen’s labor, including walking around in the sun in Wimberley. We loved our lunch at The Leaning Pear, and I fell in love with a little shop we stumbled into called Ceremony Botanicals which felt really Instagram-y but in a good way. And we walked by the water and threw bread crumbs in that represented our mistakes and fears from the past year and watched them drift away (a Rosh Hashanah tradition). Good times. Ollie didn’t get the memo that day, though.

He lost the other one too! This one came out when I was getting Henry dressed for bed and I pulled his shirt over his head and his very loose tooth got caught on it (horror of horrors!) and was yanked right out. The second front tooth came out when he bit into a pickled plum onigiri before math class last week. He didn’t swallow it.

Helen had contractions all weekend, and we were all on high alert, waiting for them to get closer together (they were about seven minutes apart for long stretches of time) but it didn’t happen. They kept her up all night but Ollie was still way high up and Helen wasn’t dilating. This was so much like what happened with Phinnie’s birth- Helen had days of contractions, worked and worked and tried to move Phinnie down with spinning babies, and in the end had to have an emergency c-section because nothing was working and Phinnie needed to come out. So after two days of contractions that weren’t intense enough to move Ollie down but were intense enough to make it so Helen couldn’t sleep at night, she called it and we went to the hospital and Ollie was born. To keep things as normal as possible for Phinnie after the birth, Jordan took her home at night and stayed with her, and so I got to spend three nights in the hospital with Helen and Ollie. I loved it! I’m so glad I got to spend that time with both of them. I never got to spend time like that with Phinnie when she was a baby because George was still a baby himself, but this time around George is a big capable 4 year old! And it was fun to spend the night with my sister, even if she was recovering from surgery, cuz she’s funny and we never get to hang out like that anymore! I’m proud of you, sister. You’re an amazing mom.

Grilled Chicken, Bruschetta, Okra Fries. One paragraph it’s c-sections and the next it’s chicken cuz that’s just how the pictures come out of my phone. The chicken is my favorite way to grill chicken. Bruschetta is a perfect side, because you can grill the bread and then rub it with garlic and douse it in olive oil and salt and pepper while the chicken is resting, and the okra fries are crisp and salty and not slimy at all. They’re so good that it’s even worth clicking the link for the recipe, even though that will take you to Rachael Ray’s website which also sports an auto-play video. Anyway, here’s this chicken recipe, which is based on how I think my brother Caleb does it:

Grilled Chicken Legs with Herbs de Provence and Brown Sugar


  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons herbs de provence without lavender (or any combination of dried rosemary, thyme, sage, and fennel seeds to equal 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds chicken leg quarters


Prepare your grill for indirect grilling- if you have a charcoal grill, put the burning charcoal on one half of the grill and open all vents, for a gas grill, heat one half of the grill with a medium-high flame. Make the rub: mix the sugar, salt, herbs, garlic powder, and ground pepper in a bowl. On a cutting board, separate the thighs from the drumsticks by cutting along the line of fat that runs between them on the skinless side. Rub the sugar/herb mixture all over the chicken pieces. When the grill is hot, position the chicken pieces on the unheated half of the grill, open all vents, and cook over indirect heat for an hour, until the fat has rendered and dripped off and the chicken skin looks thin and roasty. You can move the chicken to the hot side of the grill to crisp it up a bit for a minute or two. Remove from the heat and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Chorizo with Crispy Potatoes and Kale. This is the recipe that got me through Whole 30. I recently typed up the chorizo recipe for Joanna cuz I think her ground pork makes the most wonderful chorizo, so I’m gonna share that here too. It’s adapted (to work with a pound of ground pork) from John Currence’s Big Bad Breakfast cookbook.



  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons minced yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon hot Mexican-style chile powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon


Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, mixing well to make sure the spices are evenly distributed.

Chorizo can be cooked fresh or rolled into a log in plastic wrap and frozen for later use. Chorizo is most frequently used cooked “loose” and scrambled into eggs, put in tacos or burritos, etc.

The ball saga. George has a friend at Yawp who sometimes brings a big giant rubber ball. She generously shares it with George every time, but he pines after one of his own. He asked for one for his birthday, in fact, and I totally forgot about it. He did too, I think, until the next time his friend brought her ball to Yawp, and then his lust for a giant ball of his own came back stronger than ever. So we went to Target the next day to look for one- they didn’t have any. So I went to a godforsaken Walmart and they didn’t have any, so I went to another Walmart and they didn’t have any. So I gave up and went home. The next day, at a third Walmart, this time in Kyle near Helen’s house, we struck gold. George had been hoping for a purple ball and they had several, so we picked out the biggest, tautest purple ball we could find. We took it home and he bounced it on the floor and the fucking thing popped instantly and spectacularly, exploding into two distinct hemispheres of flacid rubber. So I went back to the Walmart in Kyle the next day and got another purple ball, less big and less taut than the first, and as of this writing it’s still intact. In conclusion, I have nothing to say, this is just how I spend my time, I guess.

Not what I wear on my walks around the neighborhood at night. My friend Jen Meaux had a birthday party where we were all encouraged to dress up as Jen Meaux. There are very few people who could have a birthday party like this, because most people, myself included, dress in roughly the same boring shit every day. Not Jen, though! She’s got wigs of every color! She owns several pairs of hot pants! We should all aspire to dress like Jen and it was super fun to get to do it for an evening. I am really bad at selfies, so while Andy was at a game night with work friends the night before Jen’s party, I put this outfit together and then spent half an hour trying to take a picture of myself wearing it to text to my mom and Helen. This photo represents the very height of that enterprise.

Here’s me and Molly, pantsless, with the real Jen in the middle, who is wearing pants and looking fabulous as always. I didn’t smile for my picture because my work in front of the mirror the night before had convinced me that I look like a big toothy maniac when I smile, but now that I see this picture I think it’s sad that I didn’t. Better to be a toothy maniac than to look like you’re not happy to be somewhere in a pink wig with Harley Quinn hot pants. Next time!

I simply had to share this photo of Dustin and Andy, who gamely also dressed up as different versions of Jen. Andy reminded me more of Lucius Malfoy than the unicorn we were going for. Dustin is heartbreaking-ly endearing with his bowl haircut wig and oversized glasses. They’re good guys.


Old-School Baked Ziti. And here’s some ziti I made, cuz if I didn’t put one more picture in this post, the thumbnail image when I share this on Facebook would be of Andy the unicorn and he’s already met me more than halfway by agreeing to dress this way and put proof of it on the internet. It’s good ziti, even if it’s actually rigatoni.

That’s it! It’s back to babies and podcasts and watching TV with Andy (are you watching The Good Place? I hated the beginning of the first season because it seemed simple and stupid but things pick up quickly after that and now I love it so much!) and walking around at night while female and all the other parts of life’s rich tapestry. Thanks for reading, friends.