Friday, May 16, 2014

Invest In a Good Pot Holder

Whether I'm baking, ironing, or grilling; if there's high heat, I'll find a way to burn some part of my body. And for somebody who finds food creation therapeutic, that's a lot.  I've burned my hands more times than I can count. I keep aloe vera with lidocaine in the fridge just for that.  My forearms are covered in slowly fading burn scars. Even the back of my leg has been fried a time or two (don't ask, because I have no idea). Personally, I blame it on my swirling, frenetic prowess in the kitchen.  I don't have time to be bothered with things like potholders when I'm in the heat of creating my food masterpieces.

 My mom, on the other hand would blame it on my in-explicable non-use of potholders and my lack of attention to potentially dangerous situations.  She might be right.

For years my mother has been trying to teach me to use potholders. In truth, at one point in time I did own several very nice ones.  Sage green to match my wedding registry kitchen towels.  Lovely.

Now those potholders are gone.  Pretty sure they got used by my smoker/grill loving husband.   Because he knows how to use potholders, but also how to burn holes the size of Kansas in them.  Hole-y potholders sort of defeat the purpose, so those bad boys disappeared years ago!  

So what does one do without potholders?  Besides the obvious, "buy new potholders".  One grabs whatever is handy-sweatshirt, t-shirt, towels.  Unfortunately most of the time those towels tend to be wet. Know what conducts heat better than foil? Wet towels.

 Yeah, maybe I'll look into a few potholders.  Or not.  I'll just make sure to have dry towels nearby.

Thanks Mom-someday, I promise I'll actually put this lesson to good use!  (And by the way-I've noticed an apparent lack of potholders in your house as of late...)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

7)Not all good food is pretty.

My mother's voice is forever ingrained in my head, "Make sure you grease the pan....and don't forget the corners." The other day, I forgot the corners. I've been on a bread making kick, having discovered that it's impossible to find bread that isn't full of sixty ingredients, half of which are impossible to pronounce much less eat. After reading In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, for my book club, I've been working at eating fewer processed foods. Not overly difficult, since we already avoid processed as much as possible.

Back to my bread loaves...they were beautiful, aromatic, high golden loaves. So beautiful and enticing that Will, my six year old was calling dibs on the first slice as before I had even taken them out of oven. Ten minutes later, as he waited, rather patiently I might add, for me to un-pan the bread, my mother's words began swirling in my head. You see lovely bread was not going to give up the cozy corners of it's pan without an arduous and ultimately, painful, fight. On most days, this would have been no big deal. Just another case of Rachel rushing through a project, only to find out that in the rushing, she forgot a very small, but shockingly important detail.

However on that particular day, we were completely out of bread and my last five attempts at making bread had been nothing short of abyssmal. Mind you, I have been baking bread since I was 10 years old. I am no novice at yeast doughs. I can make bread. But for some reason my bread have been rather on the icky side as of late. So to have these beautiful loaves and be unable to actually get them out of pan...well, that was almost more than I could bear.

As I handed Will the promised first slice, sans corners, he smiled and simply said, "Mom, this looks really good, can I have more if I finish this." I ended up giving him another slice because I had crushed the one in his hand against his chest when I nearly smothered him with a big hug. He giggled hysterically at the crushed bread, accepted his second slice, and ran out the back door to his waiting friend. He ate the better part of the loaf before the day was out. It wasn't pretty, kind of lopsided, and had no corners, but he was was tasty! Thanks Mom!

Monday, February 16, 2009

6)Moving to Austrailia Isn't Really an Option

My mother introduced me to my all time favorite book: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. If you've never read the book, I highly recommend it.

Poor Alexander's day starts out bad and gets worse. He keeps threatening to move to Australia. And his mother's very wise advice, which comes at the very end of this very bad day is simply, "Some days are just like that."

I cannot tell you how many times I heard my mom say that. Some days are just like that. One day as I complained to my mother about my extremely strong willed two year old testing the limits of my abilities as a sane human being, rather than pull out her familiar "Some days..." line, she matter of factly informed me that moving to Australia wasn't really an I'd better just figure it out. I did and that strong willed 2 year old is now a strong willed six year old, who is fully aware of who holds the reins. Thanks Mom.

Monday, January 5, 2009

5)Get on With It...

2009 is upon us and my Christmas decorations have been packed away since the 29th of December, our Christmas tree has has been unceremoniously dumped in the garden, awaiting the guy with the wood chipper, and the wrapping paper and Christmas goodies were hauled off to the dump weeks ago.

Why the hurry to rid the house of the remnants of Christmas? My mother always had our Christmas stuff put away within a few days of the last Christmas celebration. She always commented on how the house looked so much bigger and had a fresh appearance. As a child, I remember the let-down, the lag that seemed to occur as the boredom and the normal-ness of the non-holiday months loomed large on the horizon. But Mom insisted on there being something wonderful about starting the New Year right, with a clean house, and I believe more importantly, a clear mind. Thanks Mom.

Friday, December 12, 2008

4)Make those windows sparkle!

With all of the germies floating through our home these days, I felt the need to clean like crazy today. The Lysol and Clorox were flowing freely. I'm not a big fan of using those harsh chemicals to clean, however, when the smell of vomit is in the air, I'm willing to sacrifice one day of being exposed to toxic chemicals! My mom never used that stuff though. Vinegar and ammonia were my mom's weapons of choice against grime and germies, alike. I can distinctly remember the strong smell of vinegar throughout the house on Saturdays, our cleaning day. Mom swore by the ability of vinegar to make glass shine like new. I pulled out the vinegar bottle the other day to see if it really worked and my windows are clear as! The only thing I'm a little peeved about is the fact that I've been spending 3 dollars a bottle for the blue stuff. Should've taken that advice to heart sooner! We could probably have a second home! Thanks Mom!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

3)A tale of two pukers-never leave a vomiting kid in the top bunk

Two out of our three kiddos have come down with what we like to call, The Pre-Christmas Gastrointestinal Flu. It never fails, for the last 4 years 2-3 weeks before Christmas our entire family gets nailed by a stomach bug. It usually ends up waiting until I'm halfway through my Christmas baking...and hits hard enough that I don't want to eat any of the goodies for the rest of the season. (Maybe it's not such a bad thing, eh?) Curtis and I are patiently waiting for our turn and dreading when Abby, the 1 1/2 year old gets it. At least a 6 year old and 3 year old can tell you when/if they feel like throwing up. The 18 month old just does it. Anywhere, anytime. Which ends up being; Everywhere, All-the-time. Ick.

So what lesson am I getting at with this sad little tale? Well, last night as William, our oldest, was getting cleaned up from the first wave of stomach contents, it occurred to me that he should most definitely not return to his bed...which happens to be the top bunk of the bunkbed he shares with his 3 year old sister, Cambria. One of my mothers favorite, I've-got-a-grosser-story-than-you stories tells of the night my oldest brother, Steve, got sick so suddenly and violently that all he could manage to do was to lean his head over the edge of the top bunk and let loose. My other brother, Jason, was sleeping on the bottom. Ick, again. Hence William slept on the couch, next to the Christmas tree, an empty trash can mere inches from his face. Thanks Mom.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

2)A little tough love makes flowers flourish

I'll never forget the horrified feeling I had the first time I saw my mother take a kitchen shears to my newly blossomed lobelia plants, located along the walkway leading up to our new house. I watched, unable to speak or move, as she took each plant, lifted the bulk of the plant up and away from the ground and with one big "SNIP" removed the already scarce purpley-blue blossom and the majority of the leaves as well, leaving a sad little tuft of root, stem, and a leaf here and there.

It was mid-May and we had moved into our first home only a month prior and I had been eagerly awaiting the chance to stretch botany legs a little and see if my mother's green thumb ran in the family. The delicate, brilliant lobelia had caught my eye and before I knew it, they had grown from tiny seedlings to large, sidewalk crowding plants, more stem and leaf than blossom. I knew that their blooming wouldn't last long, so out of ignorance I asked Mom if there was any way to extend the life and bloom-time of my precious little plants. She recommended trimming them back, dead-heading them (removing the blossoms in order for the plant to grow a little stronger before blossoming, resulting in more and bigger blossoms). I trimmed them back...a little.

The next time Mom came to visit, she took one look at my pathetic trim job, marched into the house to retrieve my kitchen shears, and proceeded to seemingly mangle my beautiful plants. As she wiped her hands on her pants, she patted my back and said, "Don't worry, they'll come back, a little tough love makes flowers flourish."

By late June my lobelia were growing tall and straight, no longer crowding the sidewalk...a blanket of thousands of tiny purpley-blue flowers to greet visitors as they approached the door. Thanks Mom.