Sunday, September 27, 2009

Skimming off


or, how to make good curry, caramelized onions, and an ice cube tray's worth of chicken stock in a single session.

Caramelize 3 thinly sliced onions.

Spoon about half into ziplock bag and freeze.

Add carrots and chicken, and sautee until chicken is slightly browned on the surface. Add chopped potatos. Add water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes or until potatos are cooked throughly.

Skim off about 1 cup worth of the resulting soup and pour into an ice cube tray to freeze. Add House Vermont Mild Curry.

Enjoy curry. Break off frozen pieces of caramelized onion when needed for soups and such. Use soup cube when a recipe calls for a very small amount of broth, or pop a soup cube in rice cereal or oatmeal for baby food with added flavor fit for a Pumpkin Prince (or your own favorite baby).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Almost completely idiot-resistant fried rice

Katazuke ga taihen.

(Hard to clean up)

For each serving, you will need one egg and a packet of fried rice mix and/ or finely chopped vegetables, meat, seafood, etc. Meat, seafood and veggies should be cooked. Leftover rice should be warm but not so hot that it will coagulate the egg. The milk carton in the picture is empty and washed clean.

Beat egg in a bowl, and pour into empty milk carton. Add rice, fried rice mix, and whatever else you are adding. If you are not using fried rice mix, you should also add about a teaspoon or so of soy sauce.

Hold the top of the milk carton closed and shake vigorously.

Heat wok, add a tablespoon of oil. Dump contents of milk carton into wok and sautee using a ladle.

Enjoy your perfect, non-clumpy fried rice. Throw away milk carton. Mop up any bits of egg and rice and ham on the kitchen floor, walls and ceiling.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I've fallen in love all over again!


Imagine that, on a Sunday afternoon, you sent your husband shopping with a long grocery list.

Then imagine that, after about half an hour or so, when he's probably on his way home, you remember only then that you don't have enough diapers to last you through the workweek but forgot to put them on the list, and he probably won't answer a cell phone call to ask him to get any because he's probably driving, and you begin to ponder which point in the coming workweek you can most painlessly squeeze in a diaper run.

Then, while you are pondering all this, your husband comes home, with all the groceries you asked for, plus the laundry detergent, drops everything in the kitchen, and says "I have to go back to the car to get the diapers. I remembered noticing we were running low."

Wouldn't you fall in love all over again?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Same as every morning

Itsumo no asa

A typical Pumpkin Mommy weekday morning

6:30 Curse alarm for going off. Glare at Pumpkin Prince who is sleeping like a baby (heh) and wonder why he couldn't do that at 3 a.m.

6:33 Curse alarm for going off again. Wonder how on earth the Pumpkin Princess can end up sleeping with her foot on the pillow and the rest of her tangled up in the bedroom curtains.

6:36 Curse alarm again and figure she ought to get up if she want to stand a chance of getting to work on time.

6:37 Get dressed, wash face, apply moisturizer. Fill Pumpkin Princess's lunchbox with plain white rice (freshly cooked by the rice cooker, which was set the night before to finish cooking at this time). Make coffee. Make toast. Spread strawberry jam on untoasted white bread for Pumpkin Princess, who calls toast "hard bread" and will not eat it. Peel and cut peaches and place in dish.

7:00 Sit down to breakfast with the Pumpkin Princess and Pumpkin Daddy.

7:03 Hear Pumpkin Prince crying in his crib upstairs. Pick him up, bring him downstairs. Change diaper, try to nurse, find out he doesn't really want to, put him down, have him cry long and loud in protest, pick him up, have him stop crying, put him back down, have him start crying again, strap him on back with baby sling, resume eating breakfast.

7:30 Kiss Pumpkin Daddy goodbye as he leaves for work.

7:31 Forge Pumpkin Prince and Princess's temperature on their "health check cards," a new system devised by the Pumpkin Daycare to prove they are doing everything they can to prevent a swine flu epidemic, I mean, 1) as if it is possible to prevent an epidemic of an infectious disease in a place in which a large number of babies and toddlers are kept in close quarters, and many of them have older brothers and sisters in local elementary schools 2) as if taking temps and checking symptoms actually means anything when the latent period for influenza lasts a couple of days. Mark that they both have runny noses and coughs, and wonder if, since, statistically, most children average 5 or 6 colds a year, and since, as daycare pumpkins, they probably catch more colds than the average children, how many days a year they don't have runny noses or coughs.

7:40 Brush teeth. Discover that trying to apply makeup with a baby strapped to your back is 1) difficult 2) painful 3) rather inefficient because you work up a sweat and everything you've applied will run.

7:50 Write in Pumpkin Prince's notebook about when he nursed and slept and whether he had a bath and any other interesting things there are to add.

8:00 Decide there is nothing interesting to add and realize 10 minutes were spent trying to pretend I am clever. Tell the Pumpkin Princess to change out of her pajamas.

8:01 The Pumpkin Princess announces she would like Frosted Flakes without milk. Ponder the estimated time and energy consumption of 1) refusing the cornflakes and persuading her to change clothes and use the toilet and get in the car to go to day care 2) let her have cornflakes in exchange for a speedy change of clothes and toilet and departure, and opt for the latter.

8:02 Let the Pumpkin Prince nurse.

8:10 The Pumpkin Princess finishes cornflakes. Tell Pumpkin Princess to go to the toilet. Princess refuses to go alone. Compare estimated time and energy consumption of compliance and refusal, and opt for the former.

(TMI alert: Stop here if you are eating. Unless, of course, you are the parent of a pre-potty trained child, or can vividly remember being one.)

8:15 The Pumpkin Princess flushes toilet, washes hands (getting water on the floor in the process), gets dressed, and announces she needs to poop, takes off her pants and big girl underwear, finds a pair of pull-ons and pulls them on.

8:16 The Pumpkin Princess begins playing with her favorite toy of the moment.

8:17 The Pumpkin Princess begins playing with her second favorite toy of the moment.

8:19 The Pumpkin Princess begins playing with her third favorite toy of the moment. Ask Pumpkin Princess if she's done pooping yet. Told no.

8:21 Hear the unmistakable sound the adorable bottom on my lap.

8:22 Change diaper on Pumpkin Prince.

8:22:30 Pumpkin Princess announces she is done pooping.

8:23 Finish changing Pumpkin Prince, wash hands, begin changing Pumpkin Princess.

8:25 Finish changing Pumpkin Princess. Wash hands. Notice Pumpkin Princess's rice box is still sitting on kitchen counter. Close, pack in drawstring bag, and place in backpack. Notice that the folder containing the "health check card" in the Princess's backpack has the Prince's name on it and contains the notebook telling when he nursed. Switch folders.

8:28 Grab Pumpkin Prince's bag containing proper folder with health check card and notebook, six disposable diapers, one trash bag, and 2 bibs, along with own work bag. Tell Pumpkin Princess to take her own backpack and put her shoes on. Put on Crocs. Take bags to car, buckle Pumpkin Princess in booster seat.

8:30 Carry Pumpkin Prince to car and buckle in infant seat.

8:31 Activate home security system and lock front door. Get in car. Realize am still wearing Crocs.

8:32 Go back inside, deactivate security system, put on intended shoes, activate security system, lock front door. Get in car. Open garage gate. Leave for day care. Silently praise self for not losing temper once this morning.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Wednesday's dinner

Suiyoubi no gohan

Spaghetti with a Bolognaise sauce I'd made 2 weeks ago from tomatoes from our garden, and frozen in an enamel container (about 80% of my containers are either Pyrex or enamel. The food can be as greasy and saucy as it likes :). Corn chowder, made from canned corn, bacon I'd cut up and frozen a month ago, onions chopped and cooked until translucent and frozen 3 weeks ago, milk, and a roux cube (again, roux cooked in bulk and frozen in an ice cube tray. I know one ice cube is about 1 tablespoon, so one cube is enough to thicken 2 cups into chowder). Toss everything into pot at once, and whisk with wire whisk (while poking at the pot the spaghetti is boiling in with the other hand :P)

Salad and frittered sweet potatoes compliments of Pumpkin Granny :) but I think it would still be a decent dinner even if the salad weren't as nice (bean sprouts, cucumbers, marinated onions, and celery) and the sweet potatoes weren't there.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What's for dinner?

Gohan nani?

Once a week, I am the one to pick up the Pumpkin Prince and Princess from day care. I try to get there by 5:15, which gets me home at 5:45. The Pumpkin Princess will usually want to watch TV, which I let her. The Pumpkin Prince will want to nurse, which I let him. However, he will not let me put him down even when he finishes, so I usually strap him to my back and get to work.

The laundry is usually finishing the final spin cycle when we walk through the door, because I load the washer and set its timer before leaving in the morning. I'll hang it in the spare room to dry. I may or may not fold Monday's laundry. If I don't, the Pumpkin Daddy will take care of it later.

Tonight's dinner is rice, miso soup, a stir fry of mushrooms and komatsuna greens, and mapo harusame.

This morning, I managed to wash out the rice cooker after packing the rice for the Pumpkin Princess's lunch (the Pumpkin Daycare has all the older kids bring their own rice), and the timer on the rice cooker is already set, so I don't have that to worry about. Last week, I was not so organized, and I ended up filling my saucepot with rice and water before walking out the door, and cooking rice on the stove.

Miso soup is pretty painless, since I already have my bonito flakes stuffed in tea bags.

The Pumpkin Daddy gets home, and gets to work folding and putting away yesterday's laundry.

I wash and cut up the komatsuna greens, and measure out the seasonings (soy sauce and mirin).

The Pumpkin Daddy starts giving the Pumpkin Prince and Princess their baths.

I fix the mapo harusame (takes about 5 minutes) and the veggie stir fry.

Dinner is served at 7 pm.

The problem is what to do come October, when we're down 3 people at work (2 on maternity leave, 1 on a fellowship in Boston). I probably won't be able to leave work at five. I'm thinking bath and laundry will happen after dinner.