Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fezzik's Spring Adventures, Wherein We Almost Freeze to Death

I ran into Fezzik's last baseball coach at work a few weeks back. He asked me if Fezzik would be playing ball again this year, and I had to tell him I had no idea.

At the end of the season last year, Fezzik was convinced that he would never take another swing at a baseball as long as he lived. It didn't occur to us to ask him during registration this year if he wanted to play again. He was adamant last year. Because he complained and fought with us about going to practice and games last year, we didn't have the heart to argue with him.

After I saw Coach Mike, I asked Fezzik, in passing, if he had changed his mind about baseball. Would you maybe like to play again this year? The answer was an immediate and resounding "YES!" I emailed the league to find a spot for him and he was assigned to the Rockies. I asked him again if he was sure he wanted to play, and he was still enthusiastic about it.

First game was last night, and despite his lineage and the fact that we haven't played catch or had any batting practice since June of last year, the kid is a bit of a jock. The first time up to bat, he hit a foul ball (contact!) on the first swing, and the second ball that came his way was quickly turned into a line drive right down the third base line. Base hit - way to go kiddo!

He was also excited and distracted by his friends from his old school. I haven't put much effort in keeping in contact with his friends from last year - it's time to change that, especially since they all live in our neighborhood.

I'm glad he's excited to play again. It helps his motivation that he remembered how to hit the ball, too. Even though we froze our asses off while he played, it was a very fun night.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

On the Cheap and Green

We tend to spend a lot of money on food. One of the ways we've been trying to whittle our budget down is by planning our meals.

Meal planning allows us to have a better grasp of what we will need, it helps us to plan to use up foods more efficiently (e.g. before the sour cream turns on us); it saves time - we don't grocery shop nearly as often as we used to, and we don't get home from work hungry, worrying about what to cook. The best benefit is that we've been able to cut back on the "I'm bored with my choices - let's eat out" nights in a significant way. We eat out at least 50% less than we used to. That adds up.

Each weekend, we take 10 minutes to rummage through the cupboards and freezer, and we sit down and plan out what we'll be eating the following week. We've really cut back on what we waste this way, and we're more conscious about using up what we already have.


This week's menu is fairly typical.

Monday: Scrambled eggs with corn & zucchini, corn tortillas, spanish rice and refried beans
Tuesday: Salmon burgers, sweet potato oven-fries, steamed kohlrabi, salad
Wednesday: Spagetti (homemade sauce), salad, broccoli, bread
Thursday: Halibut (from our neighbors' trip to Alaska!), green beans, rice pilaf
Friday: Homemade pizza

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Custom-made Cookies

We have a cafe at work, which doesn't offer up terribly great food, but we eat there from time to time. One thing they do very well is their cookies.

I had a coconut-chocolate chip-macadamia nut cookie there a few weeks ago, and it was delectable. I thought I'd try to replicate it the next time I made cookies.

Fezzik and I did that today. It's not exact, but it's close enough, and the best part is that I used stuff we had in our pantry instead of making an extra trip for macadamia nuts. Admittedly, I think they'd taste better with the macadamia nuts, but in this case, thrift and laziness won.

Kath's Choco-coconut Cookies
adapted from the Ghiradelli Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe

2 1/4 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 c. butter, room temp
1 c. white sugar (I would use less next time, the standard Tollhouse 3/4 c. would work out just fine)
1 c. brown sugar, packed (again, you could get by with less than this)
2 t. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. chopped walnuts
3/4 c. unsweetened shredded coconut Bob's Red Mill is my favorite)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the flour, soda and salt together in a small bowl and ignore it until you need it.
Beat the butter with the sugars on medium speed in your Kitchenaid Mixer until light and fluffy. Then keep going a little while longer to be sure. This is the most important step.
Add the vanilla and the eggs (bonus points for using eggs from your backyard flock, like we did!), one at a time, and beat after each just until blended.
Add the flour mixture into the butter mixture and stir until everything is evenly mixed, then add the chocolate chips, walnuts (or macadamias) and coconut and mix again just until combined.
Drop by big tablespoons onto your ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 15 minutes or so, until golden brown. Remove to cool on wire racks, and enjoy a couple while they're still warm!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

This One's For Grandma

Not that she's ever seen this side of the "Internets." Grandma told me a story once, about a Mother's Day when my dad was maybe four years old, when his sister came home from grammar school with a fancy class-made Mother's Day present. Dad apparently felt guilty about not having anything to give his mommy, and promptly went into the back garden and dug up some worms. He took them inside and said, in his sweetest voice, "Here, Mommy, I got you a Mother's Day present too." Now, I need to tell you that my grandma is not a lady you'd consider one with a tough constitution. She's, well, I mean this in the nicest sense, a Priss. Not one to get too dirty, my gram; the best one-word adjective I can use to describe her is "lady." What did she do when presented with a handful of worms? She screwed up her courage, stuck her hand out, and took those worms from her Billy boy, and gushed over them just as she had over Mary Anne's gift.

I doubt anyone has ever called me a Lady, and I don't really mind mucking around and getting dirty, but I have a real fear of worms. I don't know when or how it started, but somewhere way back, I developed not just a revulsion to, but an actual (if undiagnosed) phobia of the bastards. They freak me out. If I could control it, I would, believe me. Don't try to rationalize it - I realize I'm not going to be strangled by a nightcrawler. A phobia is defined by Merriam Webster as "an exaggerated usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation." That's exactly what I have. I appreciate worms, and the work they do to break down my kitchen scraps (and everything else), but I'm not going to rescue them out of mud puddles or pick them up and carry them around in my pockets. Ever.

I've been forced, of late, to start facing my fears head-on, like a real grownup.

Tiny Viking developed a fondness for worms in September, when his own very special grandma was visiting and playing in our garden with him. Now, whenever he sees a worm, he calls out in the cutest little voice, "WORRRRMMMM, wORrrmmm!" And, because I am an exceptional parent (cough, cough), I have done my best to not discourage this little (disgusting) habit of his. I even bend over to examine the little wriggly creatures if he notices them in the driveway. I do not want to instill my irrational fears on my children (see how exceptional I am?!). Still, I get the heebie-jeebies every time it happens, I won't lie to you.

Fezzik, at 8, has not developed an aversion to worms either, unfortunately for me. He went out on Tuesday morning to let our chickens out of their coop, and came back into our kitchen with 2 worms in his hand. I took a deep breath and said in my most nonchalant voice, "hey! what'cha got there?"

"Mom, I think I want to start a worm farm."


"Yes. I want to grow worms and sell them."

"Well. That sounds like a very good plan. I have one rule, though. The worms need to stay outside."


"Starting right now."

Lucky for me, he's a very obedient child. He marched his livestock outside and placed him gently in the dirt. Ugh.