Sunday, June 29, 2008

sugared nuts

Ok, I'm a little behind (again) on Good Food Friday. Do not despair, the recipe you've been waiting for is here!

On the real Good Food Friday my sister-in-law, The Ubermom, planned a fun and educational family trip to the local Cave of Wonders.

We had to leave our house at 7:30 AM in order to make our tour time. Mind you, my kids have not seen 7:30 in the AM for about 4 weeks now. They have mastered the fine art of sleeping in. (Do I hear a Hallelujah? Yes, and Amen. Kids sleeping in is a marvelous work and a wonder. I have waited more than a decade for that.)

In order to be ready to leave the house at such a bright and early hour, some advanced preparation and packing was needed.

Sunscreen. Check.
Jackets. Check.
Clean socks. Check. (Yes, boys, you have to wear clean socks.)
Water. Check

And then a there were few questionable items:

Would we need snacks? The hike is only 1.5 miles.

And, given the Oldest Carrotsticks affinity with nature, and the fatal bear attack that occurred last year in the same canyon as the Cave of Wonders, would Bear Bells be in order?

And then again, what about the snacks?

I knew Ubermom would be well prepared for every contingency. She would have snacks. And since I didn't want my kids to show their true grumpy/whine-y nature to the Ubermom, I decided I had better have snacks on hand, in order to bribe them into being well-behaved. And to keep them from begging snacks off of her.

Since we were going to be in the mountains, at one with the flora and the fauna, I decided the situation called for a lovely natural snack. Like nuts. Nuts are good. Bears like nuts. Squirrels like nuts. And so do I. Especially sugared nuts. Because sugar, as you know, makes everything better.

And so, for Good Food Friday, here is my healthy-concious recipe for

Sugared Nuts Au Natural

1/3 c sugar
1 cup nuts

Heat a medium frying pan and add sugar and nuts. Stir constantly over medium heat until nuts are coated and slightly browned. Remove from heat and set aside.

Add these nuts to any boring old salad and you will have a culinary work of art. The trick is keeping everyone from eating all the nuts before dinner is served.

Anyway. Back to the hike.

In the end, I decided against getting up early to make lovely, luscious, crunchy and sweet, sugared nuts and settled instead on High Fructose Artificial Peanut Butter flavored Granola Bars (with nuts).

And, in case you were wondering, the Cave of Wonders was wonder-ful.

My kids were un-naturally well behaved. (Ubermom's daughter is always well-behaved.)

And no bear bells were necessary.
The only grizzly we saw was this Grizzly Adams wannabe -- that's PB&J sporting the beard. Our Stake is going on a Handcart Trek this week and PB&J, thespian that he is, is getting in character.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

yes, i'm a ntaarul bule

I'm afraid that the Oldest Carrotstick is occasionally prone to a blonde (or in Dori's case, blue) moment or two.

The other day, after perusing the menu at a local down-home cooking restaurant, she let out a disgusted "ewwwwww!"

I looked at her, questioningly.

She pointed to the menu.

"They. serve. fried. ORCA!" she gagged.

"No, dear," I explained "it's OKRA, not ORCA:

She nodded, relieved.

Manifestation of blondness? Or repudiation of the purported Cambridge University postulation:
Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

I'll levae it up to you to dcedie.

Monday, June 23, 2008

music and lyrics

The Littlest Carrotstick began taking piano lessons three weeks ago.

The Middle Carrotstick is overjoyed that now NO ONE is exempt from the TORTURE of PRACTICING.

The Littlest Carrotstick is still unaware that playing the piano is not cool, that it is, in fact, another way Moms have devised to RUIN YOUR LIFE FOREVER. However, ignorance is bliss, and newly empowered with his piano-playing knowledge, he has begun compose his own songs (like many an angst-ridden teen, he wants to be a singer/songwriter and have his own band.)

Here is his first song:

It has a certain je ne sais quoi -- maybe a High School Musical quality about it?

He can sing it for you, if the fingering leaves you still unsure of the melody.

I am now trying to get him to put music to the following lyrics --

(which I may or may not have dictated to him yesterday during church.)

Catchy, right? I'm sure it has Hit written all over it. Or at least Top 10.

Sing us a song, you're the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well, were all in the mood for a melody
And you've got us feelin alright. . .

Oh, La la la, de de da La la, de de da da da

Saturday, June 21, 2008

iron (wo)man

Yesterday was the traditonal date night.

The Father spent it with the Sons at the father-son camp-out.

The Daughter spent it with a Friend, babysitting Cute Little Boys and getting paid good $$.

I spent it with this heartless taskmaster:

Lucky me.

Originally uploaded by Rickydavid

Friday, June 20, 2008

baked rigatoni with bolognese meat sauce

Since today on Good Food Friday we are celebrating(????) the Summer Solstice, or the longest day of the year, I thought it would be appropriate to share with you the longest cooking-est dinner I make -- Baked Rigatoni with Bolognese Meat Sauce.
This pasta dish is really excellent, but it really does take a while to cook (but that's why it's so good, right?) So when you have a few spare hours to spend tending intermittently to your meat sauce, whip up a yummy batch of:

Cooks as Long as the Summer Solstice Rigatoni with Meat Sauce

Bolognese Meat Sauce Ingredients:
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 Tbsp butter
½ c chopped onion
2/3 c chopped celery
3/4 c chopped carrot
3/4 lb ground beef chuck
1 c whole milk
1 can diced stewed tomatoes
1 small can tomato sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Put oil, butter, and chopped onion in pan, and turn the heat on medium. Cook and stir the onion until it has become translucent, then add chopped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring the vegetables to coat them well. Add ground beef, a large pinch of salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Crumble meat with a fork, stir well, and cook until beef has lost its raw, red color. Add milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until bubbled away completely. Add a dash of nutmeg and stir. Add tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn heat down so that the sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through to the surface. Cook, uncovered, for three hours or more, stirring from time to time. While the sauce is cooking, you are likely to find that it begins to dry out and the fat separates from the meat. To keep it from sticking, continue the cooking, adding ½ cup of water whenever necessary. At the end, however, no water at all must be left and the fat must separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt.

1 package rigatoni

Medium-Thick Bechamel Sauce:
4 c milk
8 Tbsp butter
6 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbsp parmesan

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook the rigatoni. Drain when exceptionally firm, a shade less cooked than al dente. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the meat sauce, bechamel, and 4 Tbsp grated Parmesan to the pasta. Toss thoroughly to coat the pasta well and distribute the sauces uniformly. Lightly smear the baking dish with butter. Put in the entire contents of the bowl. Leveling it with a spatula. Top with 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan and dot with butter. Put the dish on the uppermost rack of the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes, until a little bit of a crust forms on top. After taking it out of the oven, allow the rigatoni to settle for a few minutes before bringing to the table.

One word of warning: If you are going to put the time and effort into making this truly excellent dinner, please do it only for people who will enjoy and appreciate it. Do not, I repeat, do not make it for someone like PB&J's oldest brother -- who *gag* smothered it with ketchup before he ate it.

It took almost superhuman effort to keep me from doing this to him:
And instead, I regret to inform you, I was forced to immediately, and irrevocably, disowned him for perpetuity.

rigatoni picture originally uploaded by

Thursday, June 19, 2008

bearly cooking

Finally, Kellye's amazing prize pack is finished. I had so much fun making it. Before I give it to her, let me give you a sneak peak.

Inside, you will find:
Bearly Cooking with the Lunch Lady Recipe Collection, a collection of fast and easy recipes any Girl's Camp bear is sure to love.

Notice the official Sack Lunch Conspiracy Bear insignia --

which graces both the recipe collection, and the incredibly cute custom designed and made apron:

modeled here by the Oldest Carrotstick.

Instructions for a similar apron can be found here.

That is the inspiration for my apron, but I could only put together 4 coordinating fabrics, not 5, so mine has one less tier. And I made my ties longer, because I wanted to tie it in the front. Next time I make one, I might make it a little shorter. Gotta love a short skirt/apron.

The Oldest Carrotstick almost had fun modeling for me today. She doesn't understand why I made her tie the apron around her actual waist. And she thinks I'm a little weird about this whole blog thing. But she really likes the close-up of her "Blue Steel" pose, and insisted I share it with you.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

pms poem tuesday

Some People, when they are PMS-y, might get a little insulting and mean to others. And sometimes, husbands or children, might think Some People are being the just the teensy-est bit difficult.

Poets, on the other hand, can obfuscate to the point that no one really realizes they've been insulted, unless they listen carefully.

Take, for example, one of my all time favorite poets, e.e. cummings. He wrote this delightful little poem entitled if you like my poems let them. It goes like this:

if you like my poems let them
walk in the evening,a little behind you

then people will say
"Along this road i saw a princess pass
on her way to meet her lover(it was
toward nightfall)with tall and ignorant servants."

See, wasn't that nice? Did you catch the insult?

If you didn't, read. it. AGAIN. (The "idiot" is implied, not actually written, see?)

But e.e. cummings was a masterful poet. I am just a hormonal mom. So instead, I say:


Marie Antoinette photo originally downloaded by hannah karina

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Congratulations to Kellye, winner of the Little Girl, Little Girl game!

I'll get your prize to you shortly. And it will be cool. And you'll be glad you entered the contest.

All of you who didn't even play, well, that's just too bad for you. I asked. I begged. I implored. I cajoled. I even wheedled. And still you wouldn't play.

Friday, June 13, 2008

korean salad with grilled steak

Dear Bear,

Hi. How are you?

I hope you are having a nice time at Girls Camp. The girls there are nice. They like to laugh. And talk. A lot. They do fun crafts and activities. I hear the skits are particularly enjoyable. It must be a nice change from the boredom of the woods.

I know you get tired of eating nuts and berries. I'm sure the rabbits taste a little gamey. And that is why I want to share this recipe for Korean Salad with Grilled Steak with you on this Good Food Friday, because everybody deserves to eat good food.

I'm sure if you went down the road just a little bit, you could find a nice cow to add to your dinner. There is nothing quite like a nicely marbled steak. I've heard the Girls Camp chef is a very good cook. Maybe you could give her this nice tasty recipe, along with some fresh steak, and she could whip it up for you. And if you prefer your steak rare, just let her know. I'm sure she'd be accommodating. Give it a try. You might find the new flavors and textures a welcome change from forest fare.

Just, please, don't eat my daughter.


Your Friend,

The Lunch Lady

Korean Salad with Grilled Steak Tastes Better Than People

3 large garlic cloves, crushed with garlic press
½ c reduced sodium soy sauce
1 Tblsp Asian sesame oil
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
3 Tblsp sugar
4 Tblsp season riced vinegar
2 Tblsp plus 1 Tsp minced, peeled fresh ginger
1 ½ lbs beef skirt steak
1 c long-grain white rice
½ small head Napa cabbage (about 8 oz) thinly sliced (4 c)
1 small cucumber, peeled and cut into matchstick-thin strips
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into matchstick-thin strips
3 green onions, thinly sliced diagonally
1 Tblsp sesame seeds, toasted

In large self-sealing plastic bag, combine garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, red pepper, 2 Tblsp sugar, 2 Tblsp seasoned rice vinegar, and 2 Tblsp ginger; add steak, turning to coat well with mixture. Seal bag, pressing out excess air. Place bag on plate; refrigerate steak 1-2 hours, turning bag occasionally.
About 30 minutes before end of marinating, cook rice as label directs but do not add salt or butter.
In large bowl, toss hot cooked rice with cabbage, cucumber, carrot, half of green onions, 2 Tblsp rice vinegar, 1 Tblsp sugar, and 1 tsp ginger; cover and keep warm.
Remove steak from marinade. Pour marinade into small saucepan; add 1/3 c water. Heat to boiling over medium heat and boil 2 minutes; set aside. Heat grill-pan or cast-iron 12" skillet over medium heat until hot. Add steak and cook 10-13 minutes for medium rare, turning steak once. Transfer steak to cutting board; let stand 10 minutes to allow juices to set for easier slicing.
To serve, place rice salad on large platter. Thinly slice steak; fan slices on top of rice salad and drizzle with cooked marinade. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and remaining green onions before serving. Makes 6 main-dish servings.

rare steak
Originally uploaded by justydrink

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

UPDATE -- little girl, little girl, what do you see?

The Oldest Carrotstick went up to Girl's Camp this morning. This evening we were told that she has already seen enough wildlife to fill up an Eric Carle picture book.

Did she see

a blue bird

a brown bear

a white wolf

or a rabid dog

Looking at her?
Come on, play the game . . . What do you think she saw on the mountain?
I'll give you a hint: At first glance, she thought the animal was an elk. Does that clear things up?
Ok fine. Since nobody wants to play along (except Kellye -- who already knows, as does everyone else who lives around here) and since none of my family members are acting suitable appalled and horrified, I will tell you what she saw. Not that it matters. It was a bear. Yes, *gasp* a bear.
The Middle Carrotstick informs me that we do not have brown bears here.
So it was a black bear (although the Oldest Carrotstick says it looked brown and grey.)

debut of the lunch lady award


If I could get your attention, please.

Thank you.

Welcome to this meeting of The Sack Lunch Conspiracy. I appreciate you all coming to the Lunchroom today. We have just a few items of business.

First, we would like to introduce you to the Lunch Lady's new avatar:

Please welcome the Anna Marie, the Lunch Lady's favorite brand of hairnet. As you know, the hairnet is the one accessory a Lunch Lady can never do without. It is THE final touch of loveliness. This lovely little avatar will now accompany any comments the Lunch Lady might on your blog. It will be a sign that is it an official comment by the Lunch Lady, and not some fraudulent imposter. (Not that that is a problem, but if it were . . . )

Second, we would like to introduce a new feature -- The Sack Lunch Conspiracy Lunch Lady Commendation Award.

Here in the Lunchroom we feel it is important reward Goodness with Positive Reinforcement. We, therefore, would like to recognize those things that make life a little nicer, a little better. Things like pre-made, frozen, crustless pb&j sandwiches., or double-ply toilet paper. We want to reward those people, or institutions, that go the extra mile -- that go above and beyond the call of duty -- that restore our Joie de Vivre.

And so, it is with great Joie that we award Nordstrom with:
The Lunch Lady Commendation Award for the Best Mirrors in a Public Restroom.

Nordstrom's Ladies Restroom features full-length mirrors that are, in fact, skinnifying. (What? You say you have never heard the word "skinnifying"? Well, I may have made it up. Or I may not have. But its meaning is obvious: to make skinny.) These mirrors are not obviously skinnifying -- like a fun house mirror -- but ever-so subtly skinnifying. What a beautiful thing. I wish I had a few skinnifying mirrors at home. Thank you Nordstrom, for doing your part to make me feel better about myself, and want to buy more clothes in your store.
Next time you go, make sure you check out the full length mirrors. (I would have taken pictures of the Mirror receiving the award, but I was afraid that would have been a little weird and that I would get arrested.)

If you have anything you feel deserves a Lunch Lady Commendation, please submit your nominee to The Sack Lunch Conspiracy in the comments section. We will review all submissions and take them into consideration.

Thank you.

This concludes all matters of business. We look forward to seeing you again our next meeting.

Monday, June 9, 2008

a candidate for change

Over the past several years, I have found myself competing for the affections of the Littlest Carrotstick. I have been trying desperately to convince him that I am just as cool as his 2nd mom, Betsy Case. (He always calls her both names "Betsy Case" (or some variation of that name. . . ) And she really is a second mom to him -- she taught him how to ride his bike without training wheels. . . She does cool activities with him. . . He'd rather be at her house than mine. . . .)

I modeled my platform after those of many a successful politician: "If you can't win 'em, buy 'em!" So, for the past couple of years, I have purchased season passes to the local waterpark for the kids. That way, when the Littlest Carrotstick goes there with Betsy Case, at least we can tag along and act like we do fun things like that, too.

Though the polls showed a marked improvement in my approval ratings during the summer months, I have now been forced to rethink my strategy.

Today, as we walked through the park for the very first time this season, minding our own business, not bothering anyone, a large group of pre-teen boys started jumping up and down, waving, and yelling the Oldest Carrotstick's name. Among them was the nefarious Ethan Thomas (whose attentions have been diverted from the Oldest Carrotstick by a $5 bet. He has to go out with Amy Marchant for one week, and then in order to win the $5, he has to break-up with her to her face.)
((Can. you. even. believe. it? Does this make you fear the future for your young daughters?))

I now think season passes to the waterpark were not such a great idea after all. Especially if she'll be seeing boys there. Especially when she will be scantily clad in this
all-too-revealing (though modest) swimsuit.

I think I will be purchasing this suit right away for her:

If you are interested in getting one for yourself or a loved one, here's the link.

I am hereby offically withdrawing -- not just suspending -- my candidacy in the Cool Mom Contest. I endorse Betsy Case for Coolest Mom.

*all names have, once again, been changed to protect the innocent.
My name is the Lunch Lady and I approve this message.

Friday, June 6, 2008

mile high buttermilk biscuits

ho. ly. cow. This week has been crazy. I won't bore you with the details, but I thought things would slow down with it being summer and all. I was wrong.

Soccer camp is over for the Littlest Carrotstick, but his unremitted love for his coach continues. He has been busy making "Go Jessica" and "#10 Rocks" signs to hold at her soccer games this fall. Once again, the faux-hawks garnered quite a bit of attention. (The Littlest Carrotstick's lame mom made him get his hair cut last week, so his faux-hawk is not very big, but it is there.) Everyone knew who the faux-hawk boys were, and as an added bonus, these counter-culture kids were easy to find in the ulta-conservative Mini-Cubs soccer camp crowd. Oscar Fingall O’Flahertie Wills Wilde said, "Fashion is what one wears oneself; what is unfashionable is what other people wear."

Case in point, this kid who consistently wore church shoes to soccer camp. Sorry kid. But you know it's true.

But for the truly fashion forward, this Good Food Friday you have to try Cook's Illustrated's famous Mile High Buttermilk Biscuits. I make these biscuits every. single. Sunday. because they are just. that. good. Eat them hot, so your butter melts into all the little delectable cravasses. Put a little raspberry jam on them (because Raspberry is The Only True Jam), and you won't even need dessert. The outside is crisp and buttery. The inside is fluffy and tender. Mmmmm.

You really need to try these. All the cool kids are doing it.

Yes, My Mohawk IS High, So Are My Mile High Biscuits

2 c flour
1 Tblsp double-acting baking powder
1 Tblsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
4 Tblsp cold butter, cut into 1/4" cubes
1 ½ c cold buttermilk, preferably low-fat
To Form and Finish Biscuits:
1 c flour
2 Tblsp butter, melted

Heat oven to 500 degrees. Spray 9" round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. Generously spray inside and outside of 1/4 c dry measure with nonstick cooking spray.
In food processor, pulse flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda to combine, about six 1-second pulses. Scatter butter cubes evenly over dry ingredients; pulse until mixture resembles pebbly, coarse cornmeal, 8 to 10 1-second pulses. Transfer mixture to medium bowl. Add buttermilk to dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until just incorporated (dough will be very wet and slightly lumpy).
To Form and Bake Biscuits:
Using 1/4 c dry measure and working quickly, scoop up a level amount of dough and drop dough into flour on baking sheet (if dough sticks, scoop it out). Repeat with remaining dough, forming 12 evenly sized mounds. Dust tops of each piece of dough with flour. With floured hands, gently pick up piece of dough and gently shape into rough ball, and place in prepared pan. Repeat with remaining, arranging 9 rounds around perimeter of cake pan and 3 in center. Brush gently with hot melted butter, taking care not to flatten them. Bake 5 minutes then reduce oven temp to 450 degrees; continue to bake until deep golden brown, about 15 minutes longer. Cool in pan 2 minutes, then invert biscuits from pan onto clean kitchen towel; turn biscuits right-side up and break apart. Cool 5 minutes longer and serve.

You'll never go back to Hungry Jack.

mohawk picture by ethan woods

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

girl power

Every kid needs someone to look up to. It's especially nice if that someone is super confident and very capable.

The Littlest Carrotstick and his two buddies, Z. and I. found just such a person at soccer camp last year. Last year, in the tradition of all the best soccer players, Z. and I. came to camp sporting faux-hawks (a hairy relative to the mohawk, in case you were wondering.) They eventually won the Littlest Carrotstick over to the dark side, and he too began applying massive amounts of gel to his hair in order to support the coveted faux-hawk.

On the last day of camp, their incredibly tall, blond, tan, and athletic college-soccer-player/camp coach put her long blond hair up into a ponytail faux-hawk. It was quite impressive. And good to see a girl so confident in herself.

That was it. The last straw. They thought their coach had skills, and was pretty cool, but after the ponytail faux-hawk, that girl had won their hearts forever.

Z. and the Littlest Carrotstick went to more than one womens college soccer game last year, just to see their amazing Amazonian coach/player.

This year, the Littlest Carrotstick, Z. and I., went, once again, to soccer camp. Guess who else was there, and who had to have her little faux-hawk fan club on her team once again? You got it -- Faux-Hawk Girl.

They might not have won her over with their mad soccer skills, but their killer fashion sense (and blatant idol worship) really must have made an impression.

Monday, June 2, 2008

brain dead

Originally uploaded by Supercapacity

I have nothing interesting to say or report.

My brain is completely vacant.


I taught Relief Society yesterday and I am still trying to recover. It took everything I had, and then some, to babble mindlessly for 25 minutes.

Hopefully tomorrow will be a little more promising.