Monday, August 31, 2009

Motherhood, Naturally

Nature was just meh, ok until Jimmy came. Now that he's been here a couple years I'm getting to really understand what Wally means when he says "the Earth gives us what we need." I always thought he meant water, bananas, and peyote, but no, he means everything.

Today Jimmy showed me that the Earth even gives us toys.

'Kay, a plastic high chair may not be as idyllic as a fairy forest village setting to play with our little nuggets, but I didn't have my camera when we originally collected them. We sat in the field and he kept arranging them thisway, and thatway, and back to thisway. Then thisway. Thisway was nice. There was also thatway, or thisway. A lot of arranging going on out there today, but my favorite part when he had the pinecone walking around, nice! This playtime made me feel very connected and grounded, I thought of A New World and how Pocahontas might have used sticks and pinecones to play with her young child, and right here in today's world Jimmy and I were sharing hours of FREEE and imaginative mother-son fun, it was awesome. For this I owe a special thanks to Mother Nature for her faith and for her patience...I used to think the natural world dominated us with tornadoes and tsunamis and avalanches, but by entrusting me with my own little nugget to nurture and to raise, She's shared with me that her real power emerges through her gentler side.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Adventures in Aspic: Part III; Chapter 1, Oeufs en Gelée

There may be always room for Jello but the same can't be said for aspic. After the first two expeditions I had to take a couple days off before I attacked my third adventure.

Oeufs en Gelée

This French delicatessen dish translates to Eggs in Aspic and is particular to a poached egg encased in a single-serving size. Every single article I find about Oeufs en Gelée on Our Lady of the Internet professes that it is an old-timey French treat, that it's practically unheard of nowadays, a memory of yesteryear...but I'm disinclined to believe that this dish is *that* banished from the planet because each one of these same articles provides several stories about ordering Eggs in Aspic in a French deli, or details on experiencing them at some shi-shi catered event, and all of them feature several photos about the Oeufs en Gelée that they ate or made to serve at their own meals, not to mention links to thousands of different recipes.

I made mine in restaurant-style ramekins with sliced smoked salmon, a few cubes of Monterey Jack, vegetable stock, gelatin, and the runny poached eggs that are trademark to the dish.

There's a line in the movie Sideways where the Virginia Madsen character implies that one wouldn't open a bottle of 1961 Cheval Blanc for a special occasion, rather, the day one opens a bottle of 1961 Cheval Blanc, that this event is the special occasion. Eating these Oeufs en Gelée was a special occasion chez Smother d'Un--it was the first time the Hubby ever declared one of my kitchen exploits to be "restaurant worthy." WOW! =D He showered his with many mmm's and commmmpliments.

So following that, I felt sort of bad for admitting that I thought they were gross. They were very rich, and because the egg was runny my palate just wasn't ready for cold veggie-stock gelatin. Ultimately I prefer my food at room temperature, to the core. Am I an American aspic luvr over a French one? You bet your aspic I am! (Aye, sorry. That one hurt me too.)

Friday, August 28, 2009

I Picked Beans Today

I picked beans today.

I also took photos of that invasive Japanese plant. It's love/hate with that plant, it provides a lot of privacy but it's just so darn invasive! But I like how it blooms, it sorta looks like an old-school Christmas tree with candles all over it, like back in the olden days before they realized that fired-up trees burn houses down.

And, to make you feel awesome...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Summer to Love in Libbytown: 20 Things To Do without Needing Your Car

From Congress to Brighton, Douglass to Stevens, Libbytown streets are home to old single family houses, multi-units, tract houses, and mansions. Listed here are some suggestions for residents and visitors of our tree-lined Portland neighborhood to enjoy wholesome summer fun while leaving the car at home.

1) Watch a ballgame. Why walk to Hadlock when you can catch countless games at Douglass Field for free. Little league to summer corporate workplace teams, we've got it all right here!

2) Pick early season dandelions. Douglass Field is covered with them, enough to attempt to ferment into wine, even.

3) Enjoy the playground. A must-do for all Libbytown kids.

4) New to town? Learn English! The West School campus of Portland Adult Ed hosts ESL classes, along with exercise classes and others.

5) Enjoy a sunset.

6) Scuba dive! I'm not sure how scuba-worthy the Fore River is, but you can learn to SCUBA at Johnson's Sporting Goods. I know you can do this not only because the sign tells me so, but because my brother got certified here and seems to remember his experience fondly. Get three birds stoned at once, you can also buy your shark chum and your pepper spray at the same stop.

Plug your nose!

7) Finance your gastroenterology. More one-stop shopping! Even weirder, this photo was taken from my living room.

From hand to mouth All in one building!

8) Take a dip! Portland's Kiwanis pool is right here in Libbytown. We've yet to swim here but can see that it's a well-staffed, well-managed pool complete with scheduled adult lap swims.

9) Celebrate Jewish High Holidays! There is a Shul with a nice website here in Libbytown. This is an active community, we often see Hasidic residents and children in the neighborhood, especially on the High Holidays. According to the website this year celebrations will be held at The Clarion near Thompson's Point--home of my Wedding Night, and the only bar I know in Libbytown (besides Espo's.)

10) Worship Tiki gods. Right here, in Libbytown!

Tiki-tiki of Elizabeth Street-iki-iki-iki

11) See if the wooden cows will moo back. We keep trying, even late into the night!

Moooooooo-ing on Whitney Street

12) Enjoy the fruits of the labor of others. Libbytown hosts some eye-popping landscaping and bountiful gardens. Eyes only on the veggie gardens, please! ;)

13) Savor impromptu barbecues. Shaw's Libbytown location allows us all to end a gorgeous summer day by topping it off with a scrumptious outdoor meal. No chicken, no fish, no hot dogs, no sauce, no veggies, no charcoal, no beer, no corn, no kebab skewers, no fresh fruit, no unflavored Knox gelatin in the fridge, you say? No excuse! It's all right there at Shaw's. For those of us on the opposite end of Libbytown, we like to make a walk out of it down Elizabeth Street to minimize our stroller exposure to Congress Street during busy hours.

14) Take a glimpse at history. This is a gas lantern in front of a 1730 colonial here in Libbytown. SEVENTEEN THIRTY. Libbytown's old!

15) Buy a brand new condo! Now that St. Patrick's and St. Joseph's have consolidated into one school, St. Pat's old building is being converted into (of course) condos.

16) Pay your water bill. Instead of mailing the check or paying online, a nice summer walk could lead to the friendly people at the Portland Water District where they will happily take your payment during business hours, or you can simply leave it outside at the drop box.

17) Get out of town! Libbytowers can go anywhere in the world from the steps of their front door. Thompson's Point is home to the Portland Transportation Center where able-bodied residents can wheel luggage aboard Concord Trailways or Amtrak's Downeaster straight to Bangor to Boston and beyond. More adventurous residents could wheel their luggage to Portland International Jetport, but if it's too much, Metro's Number 5 bus will take you there for $1.25. In the event that carlessness is unavoidable, Libbytown has its own exit to I 295 which quickly leads to Interstate 95. You CAN get there from here!

18) Nosegrind. Douglass Field is apparently the future home of Portland's public skate park.

19) Enjoy something toddleriffic. This feature is not found in Libbytown but is an easy walk for all Libbytown residents, and it's my favorite summer activity of all. The Deering Oaks Wading Pool is a closeby, wonderful respite for hot, sticky toddlers (and hot, sticky mamas) on hot, sticky days. We love it!

20) The Donut Legend! Did you know donuts were invented in Maine?? Tony's Donuts is city-renowned and a proud neighborhood fixture. Next door is Anania's, our local convenience store of choice.

Weird hours never stop the Christmas at Tony's Donuts

Honorable Mention: Portland Trails at Thompson's Point. Jimmy and I really wanted to enjoy this trail, and I believe we would have were I not constantly on the brink of terror. It's a beautiful neck of land and I plan to return if not only to get photos, but I think I will lug a big honking man with me. I've never been spooked or intimidated by other Portland Trails, but here the threat of rogue, drunk miscreants lurching out at us was just too much to handle (see: empty beer cans and creepy industrial grassy overgrowth for sources of uneasiness.)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Adventures in Aspic: Part II

With one aspic adventure under my belt I was ready for another one but didn't want to $pend any more on ingredients so I perused the internet for recipes for stuff I already had. I wanted to be adventurous and suspended-in-gel hardboiled eggs were a must, I was sold on the whole cross-section effect seen on the Wikipedia.

I settled on a simple smoked salmon, egg, and cheese aspic, with squeezed lemon for a little flavor. My tomato aspic melted quickly so I wanted to make this one a little firmer. I went to bed happy with how things were going.

Today's plan was the same: to starve myself at work so my stomach would be growling for my gelatinized salmon sandwich. I thought about it all day...what it was going to look like, the sensation of slicing through floating blocks of cheese, the works. 1.5 hours before my workday was done I started getting nervous...what if everyone is right? What if it really is gross! What was I thinking?? but a phone call to Hubby and my fears were dispelled, he too was anxious for our afternoon snack. The show goes on!

So without further ado...

Salmon Aspic

I thought it was beautiful and the experience was amazing and with 2/3 left, I can't wait to see how the rest of this fetching loaf slices. Hubby the foodie normally hates my kitchen expeditions but said it was one of my best dishes ever. An aspicious success! My fingernails are growing like gangbusters!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Adventures in Aspic: Part I

I can't help it, I'm nutty for formed and congealed food. I've always loved getting my teeth suction-cupped into a hunk of Velveeta, I love staring at the texture of mmmmm pumpkin pie. Cold pizza is my long-time favorite breakfast cereal. I swoon over fancy swirly pats of butter, I drool for the jelly edge of an open can of refried beans, and my heart pitter-pats when creamy casseroles congeal after sitting too long.

The holy grail of all formed food, the Jello Mold, is of course a given (look! my special holiday cranberry ring!) in my book. Most people will peruse 1950s cookbooks for good gags...but being someone who prefers to eat food at room temperature, I read them for good ideas!

After stumbling on an image of a traditional Swedish Julbord, this Gelatinous Luvr swiftly recognized that it was time to experience aspic. I don't have any of the history or etymology or culturology of aspic, just that to me aspic is a fascinating non-fruity gelatin artform, and that I was sick of never having tried it. YESSS, I know what gelatin is made of...I decided long ago that the whole gruesome bony roots issue is not a battle I choose to tackle. I need the jiggle room!

I've long been intrigued by photos of the rich opaque texture of Tomato Aspic, so since it was grocery day I put Knox gelatin on my list and started looking for recipes. There are thousands online but I ultimately was drawn to the simple novelty of this presentation, and I also liked the olives. The onions, however, were out.

Jimmy helped.

The Tomato Aspic sat overnight and this morning before work, I could not resist a knife-sinking taste.

I starved myself at work so I'd be good and hungry for an after-work snack. Add Triscuits and mayo and Rosemary and I was not disappointed! The sliced olives perfected the entire texture-rich experience. Fantastic.

Alas I am pleased to report that my first adventure in aspic has been a success! Stay tuned for more! =)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

It's to the right, right?

Don't you think that everyone should just walk to the right? Like if you're walking down a corridor or a sidewalk or in the mall, go to the right. Or when you find yourself muttering into the ear of a sudden deli line/bathroom stranger, shouldn't we just correct the situation by defaulting to the right? Wouldn't that be easier, none of that messy sorriness or struggles to figure out who goes just, go to the right!

If I become mayor of my general vicinity, this Right Regulation will be my first royal decree...EXCEPT, when I'm walking Jimmy down the street in a stroller. It as at this point that everyone will understand that he is NOT be exposed to traffic; sidewalk on-comers will then be required to go to the left as so nothing happens to my precious nugget. Easy enough. RIGHT!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Flashography, and Exposure

I recently got a new camera and tonight I was wondering why the heck I couldn't get the flash to work. Jimmy was being so cute but the photos kept coming out like these:

Mmhmm. The camera kept telling me to "Raise Flash" "Raise Flash" "Raise the Damn Flash, Rachel" and I kept hitting buttons and picking at the infrared light but nothing was happening. I'm too lazy to dig out the manual so Google kindly gave me this video:

Commenters freak out on the person who posted it but I don't have the D70 I have the L100 and the flash doesn't come up automatically you have to manually RAISE it. With your fingers. Aha! I was filled with accomplishment and cheer and enthusiasm. Thank you gulbayram1 for showing me where my flash is located. Continuez with a proper evening Mother-Son photo session!

Except now I think I preferred it with the flash down.

Oh well. It was still fun, but I think my favorite part of today was when I read the final two paragraphs from this article from The Journal of the American Medical Association. I suppose I shouldn't be "happy" to read that others profit from our society's trust in doctors and that they do so by putting our children under unnecessary medical risks, but my heart gets a surge when I see doctors expo$ing the truth$ behind dangerous half-assed procedures. Below is the clip that led me to read the article. I was struck by Dr. Timothy Johnson's closing comment and by the level of intensity he gave in not recommending Gardasil, I'm glad he said it and I find it encouraging to the research I've been doing re: what Western medicine wants me to put into my precious one's body...and why.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Field Trip: The Portland Seadogs

Tonight we ended up at a spontaneous Sea Dogs game, it was awesome!

The sight of a large synthetic acorn cap made my heart leap for Oakie. I have a soft spot for Oakie ever since I uncovered an early 2000s job search of Wally's which turned up one possiblity: Filling the Oakie the Oakhurst Acorn suit. He never pursued the job, but I've loved Oakie ever since. Yet I failed to get a decent face-shot of Oakie.

I did partially inadvertenly capture a shot of 2 houses involved in a recent drug/gun/pipe bomb raid! Wow!

We had to leave during the 2nd inning. Jimmy's only 2, so I guess next year our goal will be Inning 3. Anywhichway, the total of Hot Dogs, Shipyards, and Sea Dog Biscuits and the 80 degree temps made for a great night!