Friday, May 30, 2008

spicy pork tenderloin

The kids are out of school. The coveted yearbooks have been received. They are full of comments like the following:
In case you didn't know, h.a.g.s. stands for Have A Great Summer!

(I didn't know. I was worrying that the kids in Jr. High were just really mean.)

In the true spirit of HAGS, I thought it would be appropriate to share a recipe for Haggis with you, but then I would be really mean.

Instead, this Good Food Friday, try:

H(ave) A G(reat) S(picy) Pork Tenderloin

1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried mustard
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
5 cloves garlic, sliced
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro or parsley
1 pork tenderloin (about 12 oz) trimmed

Combine soy sauce, sugar, cumin, mustard, paprika, garlic and cilantro in plastic food storage bag. Fold under thin end of tenderloin to make an even thickness. Add tenderloin to bag. Push out all air, seal. Refrigerate and let marinate for 30-60 minutes.

Preheat broiler. Broil tenderloin 3" from heat for 10-20 minutes or until instant read thermometer reads 160, turn over halfway through cooking, basting with marinade. Let stand 5 minutes.

Thinly slice crosswise. Discard leftover marinade.

Usually takes longer than the recommended time to cook. Feel free to use your trusty meat thermometer. It is an invaluable kitchen tool, effective at staving off undercooked meat. You can also grill this on your barbeque, making it great summer food.

And if you let me sign your yearbook, I would tell you HAGS and you really are so cute. And I would love it if you would call me so we could do something this summer. And I would never write "Roses are red, violets are pink,/ Why in the world am I wasting this ink?" in your yearbook.

Will you sign mine?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

the end justifies the means

The Oldest Carrotstick is learning that life is full of painful decisions.

Example 1:
She and the Littlest Carrotstick had to get their immunizations updated at the beginning of this last school year. Who was more freaked out by it -- the 7th grader or the kindergartener? The 7th grader. She worried and stressed and anticipated for an entire month before it even happened. But, no shots = a possible crippling or deadly disease AND homeschool with mom (which would be painful for both of us!) So, though they hurt a little, she got the shots.

Example 2:
We told her she had to be 12 before she could get her ears pierced. Why? I don't know. I had to wait till I was 12 . . . gotta carry on false traditions . . . Her birthday came and went and she said nothing about getting her ears pierced. She even got cute earrings from her Aunt for her birthday, but still nothing. Again with the needle thing. (Apparently the ends of the studs qualify as needles -- they poke through skin.) And potential pain.

But the lure of wearing cute, outfit-coordinating earrings was too great, and finally, last week, she gathered her courage and was ready to take the big pierced ear plunge.

It hurt. But she survived. And now she can wear earrings.

Example 3: This week, the very last week of school, she got sick. And she really didn't want to miss the last days of school. She wanted to go, to socialize, to get her yearbook signed. When the doctor confirmed that she had Strep, he told her that if she took antibiotics orally, she would still be contagious for 24 more hours and would only be able to go to school on the very last day. Butt, if she got the shot, she would only be contagious for 6 more hours and could go for the last two days.

The tears began to flow.

And she cried and cried.

She really hates shots.

In the end, she got the shot.
And it hurt. Butt she really wanted her yearbook.

I know, I know. I'm overdoing it on the sophomoric body part puns. You'd think I was a 12 year-old boy.

hypodermic picture by ironic tonic

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

turning up the heat

Though Paris Hilton claims to have coined the phrase "that's hot," Junior High girls have taken HOT to all new levels. Three, to be exact.

When a junior high girl sees a cute boy, she might turn to her friend, and giggling, declare the boy to be "hot."

If he is really good looking, the heat gets turned up a notch, and the boy is branded "Hott --with two T's".

And when the boy is so incredibly cool, good looking, and to-die-for amazing that a gaggle of giggling junior high girls can only stand to gaze adoringly at him from afar, and mere words do not suffice to describe him, then that boy, my friends, is "Hot -- H.A.W.T".

And yes, it can go both ways. Girls can also be H.A.W.T. Like my sister, Farm Girl, for example.

So there you have it, the three degrees of Junior High hot-ness, courtesy of the Oldest (and the H.A.W.T-est) Carrotstick.

Friday, May 23, 2008

apricot almond bundt cake

Yesterday was the last day of Kindergarten for the Littlest Carrotstick. He has officially graduated and is now off for the summer. And since summer can't start without a new pair of flip-flops, I had to go get these yesterday. I love Reef flip-flops. I have a hard time calling them flip-flops though, because when I was little, people called them thongs. These days thongs have a whole different meaning, and it's a little embarrassing when I slip and call a flip-flop a thong instead. Just as it would be embarrassing if your thong slipped.

Butt, since I don't want your thong to slip, I'm going to share this great recipe for Apricot Almond Bundt Cake. If you ate the whole thing by yourself, you would not want to wear a thong, at least not in public, because it has lots of butter and sour cream in it. It just doesn't get much better than that.

There is Someone who might argue that. Someone related to PB&J, Someone who shares a great affinity for butter with Paula Dean, Someone who was once caught spreading butter on a slice of this buttery-sour creamy cake (and on Doritos and Saltines). I'm not naming any names, but this Someone may or may not have given birth to him. So I guess this cake could get a little better with even more butter, butt, that is a matter of opinion.

So, this Good Food Friday, enjoy:

(Saving You from the Mistake of Wearing a Thong) Apricot & Almond Bundt Coffee Cake

½ lb butter
2 cups granulated sugar
2 extra large eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 oz sour cream
1 c sliced almonds (less is fine)
1 - 10 oz jar apricot preserves

In large mixing bowl, cream butter & sugar well, then beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir in extract. In separate bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Mix, on low speed, flour mixture into creamed mixture, alternately with sour cream. Spray a normal size bundt pan, then arrange half of sliced almonds over bottom. Pour half of batter over nuts. Arrange remaining half of almonds over batter, then pour on small dollops of apricot preserves. Pour remaining batter over all. Bake in preheated 350 oven for 55 minutes or til pick comes out clean. Remove from oven & let cool 10-15 minutes, then invert onto cake plate. Cool before slicing.

You will want to make sure you generously grease your bundt pan, and then make sure to spread some of your batter up the sides of your pan, because if any of your perserves leak out of the cake and burn onto the sides of your pan, it makes it really hard to extract the cake in one beautiful impressive piece.

Sorry about the whole thong thing. I just couldn't help myself. Some time I'll tell you a story about a thong we once saw in Hawaii. It could scar you for life.

And thanks to all the cute and energetic girls in the ward who put together such a fun Kindergarten graduation party last night!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

fly boy

Some have intimated that dogs are effective fly exterminators.

Let me show you the snarling mass of fur and teeth that my dog becomes whenever a nasty, pesky fly has the audacity to bzzzzzzz around his head:

Frightening, isn't it?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

tell-tale bzzzzz

Originally uploaded by Anurag Bhateja

An unwelcome visitor came over last night, and with the inherently bad manners of all unwanted guests, he blatantly ignored the family "no sleepover" rule, and stayed the night. Besides being just plain disgusting, as all flies are, it was abnormally large and had an extremely loud and annoying bzzzzzzzzz.

Not feeling obligated to be a good host, I locked the fly in my bathroom, to keep it from buzzing around my head as I slept. (That, and knowing that the average person swallows 4 spiders a year in their sleep, I really didn't want to add a disease-carrying, oversized, hairy fly to my gastro-intestinal collection.) But I still I could hear that incessant bzzzzing all night long. I felt like I was in an Edgar Allen Poe nightmare . . . "what COULD I do? I foamed -- I raved -- I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder -- louder -- louder!. . . I felt that I must scream or die! -- and now -- again -- hark! louder! louder! louder! LOUDER! -- " Bzzzzzz. Bzzzz. Bzzzzzzz.

And still, today, that fly torments me.

I hate flies.

Monday, May 19, 2008

pms poem monday

I know I said I was eager for warm weather, all right! Sheesh! But after sitting through church yesterday, with 90 degrees raging outside, and no air conditioning, I take it all back. This looks so much better:

This PMS Poem Monday, I want you to share in the discomfort, so I am going to share a little Walt Whitman with you.

I know people like Whitman.

I don't know any of those people, but I know they must exist.

I even took a Walt Whitman class in college, back when I had a brain. I didn't get him then, and I still don't get him.

And I don't know if I really want to, to be honest.

But you might. You never know.

I thought about sharing all 1,000,000 stanzas of Leaves of Grass with you, but instead I'll give you a link. Do what you want with it. But here are the best three lines in the whole thing.

Leaves of Grass
Walt Whitman

Do I contradict myself?
Very well, then, I contradict myself;
(I am large—I contain multitudes.)

All I can say is that Whitman must have been PMS-ing when he wrote this. So, try it enjoy it in the spirit with which it was written.

Or try to remember back when 90 degrees sounded pleasant, instead of what it really is -- just plain hot.

picture by Yukon White Light

Friday, May 16, 2008

spicy crab salad

In this, the winter/spring of my discontent, I am beginning to be afraid that never again will the sun bless us with its bounteous rays. Alas, as I arose this morning, in order to pawn my children off on the purveyors of public education, what did I behold but flakes of snow accumulating at the base of my poor, ragged spring bulbs. The dear little muscari struggled to maintain their composure as did I at this unwanted snowfall. But it is beginning to feel as though summer is just a child's unsubstantial daydream, and winter the cold, cruel reality.

Behold, the snow:
See the large, fluffy flakes there on the bottom left?

There is no color left in my life. All is gray, like the cruel, joyless, bleak winter sky outside.

In a perfect world, flakes of snow would not congregate under the innocent stems of my flowers. Instead, those would be beautiful, pink cherry tree petals that blew there on the wings of a gentle wind, gathered together to rejoice collectively in the idea that warm weather would be here this weekend, yes, even this very weekend. Rejoice, for they are fragrant, lovely cherry blossoms! The weatherman has forecasted, and we shall see 90 degrees once again (on Sunday!) Summer will soon be here!

This Good Food Friday, to celebrate this momentous occasion, a time when it will be too hot to cook a roast for Sunday dinner, I want to share with you this recipe for Spicy Crab Salad by that crazy Food Network lady, Sandra Lee. (Really, who coordinates their kitchen decor with their outfit?) But even though she might be a little OCD, this salad is pretty darn good. I make it a lot in the summer.

Spicy Crab Salad
2 Tblsp mayonnaise
1 Tblsp lemon juice
1 Tblsp Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Seafood Magic Seasoning Blend
1 Tblsp red wine vinegar
1 c cooked brown rice
1 c (4.25 oz) Geisha crabmeat (picked through for shell bits)
3 Tblsp sliced ripe black olives
1 small tomato, diced
10 thin asparagus spears, lightly steamed, trimmed & cut into ½" pieces
Salt and pepper
Basil, if desired

In large bowl, whisk mayonnaise, lemon juice, seafood seasoning, and vinegar to blend. Add rice, crabmeat, and olives. Fold in tomato and asparagus. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper before serving. Garnish with basil if desired.

It really is worth buying the Paul Prudhomme seasoning. I quite like the flavors it adds to the salad. Adding the optional basil does seem to tone down the strong seasoning quite a bit. But I personally like a little Magic Seasoning, and don't usually add the basil. I think this could be quite good served in butter lettuce cups and eaten like a lettuce wrap.

Give it a try. You'll like it, and it will banish all those bad cold winter memories far from your mind.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

happy anniversary

PB&J and I are celebrating our anniversary this week. In honor of the occasion, I thought I’d interview him for my blog. Of course, he’s out of town, but I think I know his answers to my questions intuitively. If you’re interested, read on:

Lunch Lady: PB&J, thanks for joining us today on the Sack Lunch Conspiracy.
PB&J: Hmmm? What did you say?
LL: PB&J, please, this is a serious interview. Put down your Blackberry. You need to pay attention. We are celebrating our anniversary this week. How many years have we been married?
PB&J: Sixteen down, an eternity to go.
LL: Do you remember how old I was when we got married? Have your feelings changed at all now that you have a daughter?
PB&J: You were way too young. The Oldest Carrotstick will not date until she is 21, and then only in groups.
LL: Do you remember what our song is?
PB&J: Do we have a song?
LL: No.
LL: PB&J, there is a picture on the sidebar of this blog. Do you agree or disagree with the sentiments expressed in that picture?
PB&J: I don’t know. You know I don’t read your blog.
LL: Fine. Be that way. I don’t know why I even try. You are being so difficult.
PB&J: I’m sorry. I’ll try to do better.
LL: When we have an argument, who is always right?
PB&J: You are.
LL: Thank you. See, you have learned something in sixteen years! What is the worst thing I have ever made for you for dinner?
PB&J: Lemon chicken.
LL: What is the best thing I have ever made?
PB&J: Our kids.
LL: Awww. Ok. What one thing do you love the most about me?
PB&J: Everything. Hey, listen, can we be done? I have a conference call in three minutes.
LL: Fine, as long as you tell me what you are getting me for our anniversary.
(An uncomfortable silence ensues.)
PB&J: You mean I have to get you something else? We just celebrated Mother’s Day!
(Total and complete silence from the Lunch Lady. Some might even call it a stony silence.)
LL: This interview is over.
Thank you for joining us.
PB&J, if, for some reason, you break with tradition and actually read this, I really do love you. Thanks for sixteen great years!

Monday, May 12, 2008

you like me, right?

The Oldest Carrotstick has broken her first heart. She not only broke it, but according to the devastated boy-child, she broke it, ripped it in two, threw it on the ground and stomped all over it, laughing maniacally.

See if you can follow me on this:

The Oldest Carrotstick and this boy, Ethan Thomas, liked each other. But they weren’t going out, because she told him she can’t date until she’s 16. But that didn’t stop them from exchanging Valentines and talking on the phone.

Then he "unofficially broke-up" with her to go out with Olivia Pitts.

The Oldest Carrotstick was a little sad, but moved on and developed a crush on Mike Bell, even though one of her best friends, Bethany Andrews, was going out with him.
Well. Finally, Ethan decided he didn’t like Olivia anymore, and wanted to go back to the Oldest Carrotstick. He had decided, after all, that they were meant to be. He told her he couldn’t wait for her to turn 16, so they could finally go out. Luckily, she had had enough of him, and in a DTR told him she just wanted to be -- dun-dun-dun -- FRIENDS.

Are you still with me? Okay. Try to keep up.

Then, last week, Bethany Andrews broke up with Mike Bell, for Steve Phillips (after they KISSED on the LIPS! And there were witnesses, so it has to be true, but it was only for a second.) So, Mike Bell NOW likes the Oldest Carrotstick.

Unfortunately for him, she has moved on to her newest love, David Archuleta. (Thank you David, for coming into her life.)

Ethan Thomas is sure that the Oldest Carrotstick and Mike Bell are going to "unofficially go out". He made several upset phone calls to Mike Bell and sent him a few angry texts yesterday. Then he called the Oldest Carrotstick, and in a voice hoarse with emotion, told her that he had been sitting on his bed, crying, all day, because she had no idea how hard he had been working to (and I quote) "win back the girl of [his] dreams." The Oldest Carrotstick took this expression of pre-teen angst pretty well. She swears she didn’t laugh out loud while he was still on the phone.

All-in-all, it is very very tragic.

I read an interview today that asked the interviewee about their idea of a living hell.

She answered:"Having to be at the same uninspiring place everyday at the same time surrounded by annoying and insecure people.
I think it’s called junior high."

Too, too true.

Friday, May 9, 2008

banana coconut macadamia nut bread

For the last six weeks, the Oldest Carrotstick and the Middle Carrotstick have both been preparing for a big end-of-the-year piano competition. They each had to present a program of 6-7 piano pieces, memorized, for a guest adjudicator (a piano professor from BYU). Needless-to-say, they have both been working hard, and not really enjoying themselves.

One day, while I was helping the Middle Carrotstick practice, I noticed the Middle Carrotstick had made a little commentary on the botttom of his Bach Invention:Being the good mother that I am, I respected his right to self-expression, and did not erase it, even though the adjudicator would be reviewing the music as the Middle Carrotstick performed. I'm all about keeping it real, you know.

But I have to say, the Middle Carrotstick is not the only one who has been tormented by Bach. We are all feeling a little nuts from all the hours of practicing. And little nuts and slightly bananas. Yes, it's true. Bach makes me bananas.

But, the Carrotsticks finally performed yesterday, and they did great. Hallelujah! Now we can relax and try to enjoy life.

And to enjoy it more fully, on this lovely, piano-free Good Food Friday, might I suggest, compliments of Cook's Illustrated, a lovely loaf of:

Bach Makes Me Bananas Coconut Macadamia Nut Bread

1/2 cup flaked, sweetened coconut
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3 very ripe bananas, soft, darkly speckled, mashed well (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 large eggs , beaten lightly
6 tablespoons butter , melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Toast coconut and macadamia nuts on small cookie sheet, stirring every 2 minutes, until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Readjust oven rack to lower middle position. Grease bottom only of regular loaf pan, or grease and flour bottom and sides of nonstick 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan; set aside. Combine first four ingredients, coconut, and nuts together in large bowl; set aside.

Mix mashed bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter, and vanilla with wooden spoon in medium bowl. Lightly fold banana mixture into dry ingredients just combined and batter looks thick and chunky. Scrape batter into prepared loaf pan; bake until loaf is golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

In order to truly enjoy it, you might want to consider having Bach's Invention No. 8 playing in the background, over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over as you make the bread, eat the bread, clean your house, fold your laundry, water your plants, make your bed (or think about making your bed) brush your teeth, and even sleep. That'll give you a good feel for what things have been like at our house. For the Last. Six. Weeks. Then Bach will make you bananas too.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

game face

If there is one thing I have learned in watching the highly competitive world of kindergarten soccer,
It is that kindergarten boys, though small, are very aggressive

and they make funny faces
as they chase the ball up and down the field.
What, dear?
No! We're not laughing at you. We're laughing with you!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

sole mates

The quote of the day on my Google homepage today was this:
"Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain."
-- Fredrich von Schiller

Which reminds me of a little story about a shoe. A perfectly nice kids dress shoe in black. A shoe belonging to the Littlest Carrotstick. A shoe who suddenly found itself very alone last Sunday morning.

The Littlest Carrotstick, in a panic to get to church on time, grabbed the shoe off the laundryroom floor, stuck it on his foot, and then searched frantically all over the laundryroom for its mate.

Its mate was nowhere to be found.

Its mate had gone missing.

In desperation, we searched the entire house, high and low, looking for the black shoes one true love. All for naught. At the last minute, he cast the shoe aside, grabbed his brown dress shoes and ran for the car, ignoring the caustic remarks of the Oldest Carrotstick -- the self-appointed Fashion Police.

The next day, Monday, after the kids were safely off to school -- with no further shoe mishaps -- I finally got around to switching the load of laundry I had started on Saturday from the washer to the dryer.

I went back and forth, from washer to dryer, pulling out wads of wet towels, when suddenly I grabbed a handful of towels with an uncharacteristically hard center. Vigorous shaking disentangled the mess, and one solitary black dress shoe, size 13 1/2, plopped with a sodden thud on the laundryroom floor.

The missing black shoe.

Now nice and clean, and remarkably, not much worse for the wear.

It's probably the only time I've been grateful for cheap fake-leather plastic shoes.

Monday, May 5, 2008

skeletons in the closet

This morning, we were reading Alma 42 with the kids. When we got to the bit that talks about mercy not robbing justice, I had the brillant idea of using PB&J's old jewelry balance scales to illustrate the balance between justice and mercy. I got them out and set them up so we could have a great visual to aid to our scripture study.

The Oldest Carrotstick looked at them, confused.

"Why does Dad have those?" she asked.

I explained that he used them back in college when he was selling jewelry on the side to make extra money.

Still skeptical, she said, "Dad does NOT seem like the jewelry salesman type."

"Well, he was, and Uncle K. still sells jewelry on the side."

She just shook her head in total disbelief.

I'm not sure what she thinks jewelry salesmen look like. I'm afraid she thinks they are something like this:

Just when you think you know someone, you find out something that makes you rethink everything.

How do you reconcile the reality of your everyday Ward Cleaver,

with your stereotypical Liberace-skeleton-in-the-closet?