Wannabe Martha

Still trying to figure out which Martha

Not Dead…Not Quite Out of Bed

It’s been a rough couple months here Chez Maeve – largely it’s been me, but there have been other issues with the people I live with.

Sometimes you have to pull back in extreme ways just to keep yourself whole – that’s how it’s felt.  This blog, such as it is, has often felt like a fissure – albeit one I created myself.  Thing is, I’m not naturally comfortable with exposures of inner self – and when that inner self has disintegrated into a plethora of ball bearings spewing all over, well, it was time to close up the fissures for a while.

I  haven’t been completely dead to the world – I play on FB a little; I hang out on Pinterest; and I discovered some interesting new blogs – Fashion for Ladies of/and/or Approaching A Certain Age, LOL.  I’ve cooked a bit – and that’s really an indicator of how things have been – I just haven’t been able to cook much.  Really, though, the worst has been that I can’t read.  My TBR pile (electronic, that it is), is enormous.  I just can’t seem to indulge myself.

It wasn’t actually my intent to engage in a PLSUM mini-rant – somehow ended up that way and that’s the problem – EVERYTHING seems to come out that way.

However.  I’ve always been a “take the bull by the horns” kind of girl, and the pity party has degenerated into an out and out orgy of “Woe is Moi”.  I can’t stand it anymore.  So, am going to try and post some tales of my travails and (digital) travels and see if I can’t turn this space into something a little more meaningful.

Hey – I just thought of something kind of cool – Le Mari and Moi are going to a morning meditation thingie tomorrow at the local yoga place (OK – nobody get antsy – I’m not going all new-agey-wavey and all that.  It’s just that I need to find mental quiet and this seems  like a good start – I shall report back).  Also, it might actually help me go back to church.

I hope all you dear friends have had a lovely summer and that your fall is cool and invigorating.  Mostly, I hope someone is baking something!

A bientot!

 

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Guess What Just Landed on my Kindle?

Mary Tudor:  Princess, Bastard, Queen by Anna Whitlock

The Lake House:  A Novel by Kate Morton

Lady MacBeth:  A Novel by Susan Fraser King

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice:  or, On the Segregation of the Queen by Laurie R. King

Sunshine?  Check
Comfy Deck Chair?  Check
Fabulous Cocktail(s)?  Check

I can’t wait to get started!

Happy Weekend to you all 🙂

 

 

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Easy, My Ass…

“…books about cooking largely admitted what every homemaker knew to be true:  that feeding people was backbreaking work, and then you died.” (The “Myth” of Easy Cooking by Elizabeth Dunn – linked in earlier post referenced and linked below)

Thanks to Els’ encouragement to expand on my earlier post (which was really just a link), and because my blog pal’s latest post has sparked some excellent commentary, here is my little screed on the matter of “Easy” cooking.

Every single thing in that article resonated with me.  I have DOZENS  of cookbooks (even post-cull) and any number of them promise “easy”.  Easy.  Sure.  Maybe in an alternate universe.

Let’e talk turkey, shall we?

30 Minute Meals.  I owned 4 of these cookbooks.  You can’t actually prepare any of this, from lights-on to table in 30 minutes.  Really, you can’t.  Not unless all your prep is done ahead of time.  And then – let’s talk about the sheer ridiculous number of post and pans and utensils required to produce the meal – basically an hour of clean up.  And you know what else?  In my house, the produce is not all washed and dried and prepped and ready for me to slice/dice/chop.

How about ingredients?  Spurred on by this article, I pulled out a couple of my “easy weeknight meals” cookbooks.  Kohlrabi.  Celeriac.  Butternut Squash (you know it takes an hour alone to simply carve that thing into something you can actually at some point cook and eat, right?).  Le Sigh. (Disclosure – I can actually get kohlrabi and celeriac at my local grocery store, but I’m lucky that way and anyway, it’s only fairly recently that securing some of this stuff didn’t require a pilgrimage to Whole Paycheck).

Mostly where Dunn gets it right is in WHO is exactly creating these recipes.  Not “home cooks who learned at their mothers’ elbows in family kitchen”.  Culinary School grads.  Nothing against them, but what the ^%$#(*&^do they know about screaming into a driveway at 6:30 (sure, you left the office at 5, but then you had the commute and you had to pick up the kids from daycare and then you still had to stop by the grocery store before heading home) with tired, hungry, cranky kids?  Answer?  Big Fat Hairy Zilch, that’s what.

I firmly believe that there are nights you pick up a grocery store rotisserie chickn, maybe a frozen mac & cheese and bag-o-salad.  That’s what you do unless you have a martyr complex the size of Mt. Rushmore.

You also need to get over youself and allow that shortcuts by way of semi-prepared and/or prepackaged food items are not only permissible, they’re essential.  Look, most women, whether they work outside the home or not, ain’t sitting back on the chaise longue, sippin’ on mint juleps and noshing on bonbons all day.  They’re really working.  All day.  And some of them are herding small children.  All. Day. Long.  They’re tired.  Kids are tired.  Hubs comes home – he’s tired.  Everybody’s hungry.  Shortcuts are your salvation, and if you can swing some prep work on the weekends, or even do some make-ahead meals, that’s great.  Otherwise, let’s all chill out and stop worshiping at the altar of “Everything-From-Scratch”.  And have a glass of wine, while you’re at it.

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Broccoli-Cauliflower-Watercress Soup

Adapted from Watercress-Cauliflower SoupMartha Stewart Dinner at Home

Dinner at Home by Martha Stewart has become my favorite cookbook.  It’s arranged seasonally and meal-based – that is, there are starters, the main dish, sides/salads and dessert.  In fact, I love this book so much that I’m truly considering ordering copies for my girls to have themselves (maybe someday they’ll actually have their own household).

This soup is delightful. You can make it with all non-frozen items, and good homemade stock (just like the recipe calls for); or you can do what I usually do – use frozen veggies and good canned low-sodium stock.  If you are fortunate to live near a Publix Supermarket, then you can buy whole bags of watercress, rather than just bunches, making it even easier.  However you make it, it’s bright and tangy, light and satisfying.  The original recipe calls for just cauliflower and I’ve made it that way, but I’ve come to like it even more when I substituted broccoli for half the cauliflower.  I haven’t tried it using just broccoli, but suspect that would be great, too.  If you’re looking for a total vegetarian meal, you could use vegetable stock in lieu of chicken.

The soup is great as a starter course, a light lunch on its own, or even a great accompaniment to a Ham-and-Dijon-on-French-bread (OK fine – you can pick your own sandwich). Whatever or whenever you serve it, it’s sure to please.

Not just for soup – throw this in salad for extra tasty goodness

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 12oz package frozen chopped onion
1 12oz bags frozen cauliflower
1 12oz bag frozen broccoli
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth/stock
2 cups water
2 ½ tsp. kosher salt
Cracked black pepper
1 4oz bag of water cress (or 2 large bunches, thick stems trimmed a bit)

Heat the oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.

Add the onion and sauté until translucent (about 5-7 minutes or so, need to allow some of the water to cook off the frozen onion). Add the broccoli and cauliflower, broth/stock, water, salt and some cracked pepper; bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are very tender (about 15 minutes).  Remove the pot from the heat; add the watercress and stir to wilt a bit.

I left mine with some texture and a few chunks, but you can puree this completely smooth if that’s your preference.

You can puree the soup in batches using a conventional blender, or use an immersions blender and do the work right there in the soup pot (which is what I do because I don’t have a blender any more).

That’s it. You’re done.  Soup’s On!

 

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Happy New Year

This is a place-holder post because I don’t have one ready. Things are a-changin’ Chez Maeve et Filles (for the better, I think), and I’ll be sharing some of those change here. But never fear…

Yes – there will be Monday Menus.
Yes – There will be True Confessions.
Yes – There will be Book Discussions (or at least my ramblings)
Yes – There will finally be my post about why reading Romance is good for you and if you’re not reading any then you should start now.
Yes – There will even be recipes of my own (don’t think I posted any last year)

Yes – I DO have to get back to work.

A Bientôt

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I Knew It Couldn’t Just Be My Problem

FINALLY – some actual honesty about “Easy” cooking for the family.

Recommended reading for anyone who has to cook dinner for more than him/herself.

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/11/the-myth-of-easy-cooking/417384/

You’re Welcome!

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Reality-Based Menu – Talking Turkey Edition

It’s Thanksgiving and I’m not posting a menu because this week, we’re all about Thursday.

It’s funny how the subject of the meal itself can be rather volatile.  In my house it’s something of a sacrilege to even suggest a deviation from the norm. I casually mentioned that maybe this year we would just roast a turkey breast and forego the wings/legs since there are so few of us – Whoa, Nelly!! Break out the smelling salts!  You’d have thought I’d cancelled Thanksgiving.  Suitably chastised, I bought a 20lb turkey.  And I’m going to make them eat every last bite if it takes until Christmas.

This is my menu.  It’s vey similar to the one I grew up with, except that my mother added pearl onions to the carrots; we didn’t have green bean casserole; and there was always corn (because my youngest brother would have expired on the spot it we didn’t have it).  I’m not cooking corn because nobody cares.  Iseult, who doesn’t even tolerate dairy particularly well insisted that we much have the carrots (sans onions).

  • Roasted Turkey
  • Stuffing (but I’m baking it in a Bundt pan – no, that doesn’t mean it’s dressing!)
  • Gravy
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Creamed Carrots
  • Rolls of some kind
  • Green Bean Casserole (super doctored up with cheese and water chestnuts)
  • Pecan Pie (Angarad makes the one from the Silver Palate Cookbook and it’s divine).
  • Chocolate Marshmallow Pie (from the November issue of Food Network Magazine)

I know you’re reading this over and thinking – there are no sweet potatoes!  There is no cranberry sauce!  What is wrong with these people?  What can I say?  We’re kind of weird and I’m not having any guests who will eat them, so, nope, not on the menu.  OK Maevey, but there’s no Pumpkin Pie for cryin’ out loud!  Heh – that’s how we roll.

Anyway, I’d like to just take a small moment to wish all my e-friends a very safe and blessed and joy-filled Thanksgiving.

If you’re up for sharing your Thanksgiving Menu, please do.

 

PS – Here’s my tip – the best place to thaw your turkey is in a bathtub filled with cold water.  Seriously.  You have to drain it and refill to keep the water cold, but it really does work.

 

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Bon Jour

Well now, that was a nice long tantrum, wouldn’t you say?

No, there isn’t much here now, but I’m going back to menu planning – but differently; and by that I mean more reality-based.  See, my menus tended to be somewhat pie-in-the-sky; then when inevitably my actual life conflicted with my highfalutin menus, well, I’d get all angsty.  Even worse – I got jealous of my dear friends who posted lovely menus and actually cooked them.  You see how horrible I really am?  I’m jealous that people I like are cooking nice meals for their families.

For shame, Maevey!  For Shame!.

But I’m thinking things are a bit better now. Fall is here (kind of sad I crapped away Summer, but oh well…) and I’m feeling somewhat newly energized. I’ve been doing some hard-core reevaluations of life Chez Maeve et Filles and am making great strides on creating the life I actually want.  You know, put up or shut up kind of thing.

Basically, I want to get back to talking about the things I like – food, books, family craziness, etc.

And with that note, on the book front, for the last month have been catching up on the adventures of Mr. Harry Dresden, Wizard Extraordinaire; I’m up to Changes.  Anyway, yesterday some anticipatory anxiety began setting in:  what shall you read once you’re done with Skin Game?  Well, can you believe I’ve not read any of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan novels?  I can’t either.  What gives?  So they’re next.  Ok, they’re next after I catch up on Thomas Sniegoski’s Remy Chandler novels – newest one is out, A Deafening Silence in Heaven.  Plus I’m also hankering to read Susanna Kearsley’s Mariana.  (I read Splendour Falls last month and it was just wonderful, now I’m her newest fangurl.  Le Sigh).

OK, that’s all.

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Life is Like a box of Chocolates

unless you’re me, lately; in which case it’s like this…
  

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Friday Public Service Announcement

There actually are no empathic metamorphs.  OK, there are some born very rarely on the planet Krios.  So if you’re not from there, then I guess you’re kind of SOOL.  Also you need to get the timing right.

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