Thursday, June 25, 2009

Saturday, June 20, 2009

strawberry shortcake forever

Today was the perfect day for jamming. June Gloom has currently overtaken the previous weeks of sunshine, so it was time to pull out the pectin, sugar, and jars and get some strawberries from Spooner Farms. :) 1 flat will make 3 batches of jam (about 4 pints each), just in case you didn't know. I, however, bought an extra half-flat so I can snack on berries. They're especially sweet this year; the hot weather has really helped bring out the flavor.

A. helped to clean and hull berries, while D and S measured out the sugar. I got to do the cooking bit - which is why I waited for a June-gloomy day, so I wouldn't melt. :)

Of course, with that extra half-flat of berries, I had to make strawberry shortcake, too, since tomorrow's Father's Day and since A. really likes shortcake! I have the official recipe from his grandmother, who has now left this earthly scene.

There's a story here, though, which can be filed under the category of Quirky Family Relations.

Long ago, Grandma Nell made ALL the pies for the family. (A. comes from a long line of pie-eaters.) One time, though, her daughter (my mom in law) ended up making the pies-- and Brep (that's the family "grandpa" word) raved about Karen's pies. From that point on, nothing was ever said about it-- but Grandma Nell never made another pie. Grandma Nell would not deign to acknowledge that there was an issue; she just stopped making pies.

Fast forward a score of years: I am soon to be marrying into the family, and A. tells me I MUST get the biscuit recipe so I can make strawberry shortcake. Grandma Nell most graciously gives me her prized recipe, and A. is happy with the results.

Fast forward another decade: Grandma Nell has passed on. Karen cannot find her old copy of Grandma's biscuit recipe; unthinkable horror! She asks me if I happen to have a copy. Indeed I do! I recite the list to her over the phone.

There's a long pause coming from Michigan. ".....That's NOT the recipe she gave to ME!"

Karen realized that her own mother, when giving Karen the recipe, adulterated it just a little bit so Karen would not become the BISCUIT maker of the family as well!

I love family politics!

Since I have no problems in sharing cooking glory, here's the recipe:

Baking Powder Biscuits

2 c. flour
4 heaping tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
**1/4 c. sugar (**I only put in the sugar if I'm making the biscuits for Strawberry Shortcake--sugar isn't called for in the original recipe)
4 T. shortening - cut into dry ingredients until coarse crumbs form
3/4 - 1 cup milk (depending on texture)

Mix until just combined, then turn out onto a baking stone and pat until about 1" thick. At this point you can use a biscuit cutter; I, however, just pat into a square shape and use a pizza cutter to cut into 12 pieces (4x3) - then pull apart slightly so each has room to bake up nice and crisp. That's my particular stroke of brilliance today - that way, you don't overwork the dough by rolling, cutting, and patting together. Who cares if your biscuits are rectangular, anyway?

Bake at 450ยบ for 10-12 minutes.

Serve with sliced strawberries and whipped topping. :)

Friday, June 19, 2009

new pigpig

Here's our newest addition named Squirt, partnered with Julie. She's overcome her shyness since being paired with Julie, and she's turning into a really friendly animal. Jumpy and fast, as all young cavies are, but talkative and interested in people.

Steve Williams posted a link to a Sims 3 ongoing blog. (I am still stuck in Sims 1 mode - it's an amazingly fun black hole of a time vortex, so I stopped playing it.) This writer set up his Sims characters to be homeless; one an angry, insane, repulsive man; the other, his daughter who is good and caring, but has extremely low self-esteem. The blogger then reports on the choices the Sims make. It's a good read----and probably another black hole in my online computer time. Interesting, nonetheless. You can read about the adventures of Alice and Kev here.

In other news...we planted our garden today. My "salad" row went in first, then the three rows of beans. Further out in the garden are the 4 hills of zucchini, 5 of yellow crookneck, and 7 tomato plants. The garden is so tame and innocent at this time of year, full of promise of succulent, tender shoots... the challenge is to remain on top of the workload so the garden doesn't turn into a monster.

We have a party to attend in 40 minutes, and the kids and I have not yet done our requisite math school for today. Looks like the garden activities of this morning have pushed school to a Friday night thing. Bummer!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Event

Flopsy pig pig died yesterday afternoon. It was very sad, but good for the kids to experience a small taste of grief, even if only for a beloved pet.

Her final resting place was a Grape Nuts box cut to size. A. let the kids pick where to put her grave, so they chose a spot next to the wisteria bush. S. put a little pot of grass on the spot and we went to Happy Teriyaki for dinner so we could have some Happy in the day.

At the kids' request, we stopped by Petco on the way home.

We now have a little black and white piggie that the kids have dubbed Squirt. She's bonding with Julie extremely well. When we introduced the two, Squirt ran up to the older Julie and stuck her nose under Julie's chin. Julie is being a surrogate mother to her. Squirt is already showing more personality, relaxing, and eating what Julie eats. (Until they were introduced, Squirt just hung out in the pigloo and wouldn't eat--at least that we could observe.) The transformation in Squirt was amazing to watch. These little creatures are very social.

Some remaining tears were shed over Flopsy today, but they're moving on.

Monday, June 08, 2009

flopsy pig pig

I am in here because it would be a sin to laugh right now. I am cursed with a tweaky sense of humor that crops up at inappropriate times.

Early this afternoon A. discovered our oldest guinea pig Flopsy: limp and prostrate, shallowly panting. It's warm outside, so we don't know if this is the result of old age, or if she's just suffering with heat exhaustion.

We gave her an ice pack and misted her with water, but she's still pretty limp, and not looking good.

Kids are distraught, of course. D is more stoic than S, as usual.

Here's the reason I'm banishing myself to my room: S got out a 100 piece jigsaw puzzle box and held it up with a calculating eye. "Is this too big?" she mused. I didn't see where this was going until she got out the box of Breton crackers - a long rectangular-shaped tube - dumped the crackers into a Ziploc bag and caught my eye: "Will this work?" Finally I cotton on to the fact that S is choosing an appropriate coffin for Flopsy's final rest. And the mental image of squeezing a guinea pig into that skinny lil' cracker box made me almost, but not quite, giggle.

So I'm in here, writing it out, so I can go back out there and keep it together and console the disconsolate. Flopsy has been a good pet, and I am rather fond of her. I'm praying for wisdom on how best to help the kids with this. We have been preparing for it for some time - the pig is 7 years old. But when it comes down to it, we aren't really prepared for The Event.

Latest: D and S are now working on a Guinea Pig Album and they want to put pictures together. I must go. Here's a pic of Flopsy last month:

Thursday, June 04, 2009

a series of common events

This morning, D. said his band at Maplewood was having an end-of-the-year party. Bring snacks. So I dropped the boy at band and drove to Safeway to get some suitable 9:30 a.m. party snacks. Only one register is open at Safeway, and they're stacked 6 deep with customers.... Success at last! Chocolate chip mini muffins purchased, I headed back to Maplewood. As I rounded the corner, I saw our minivan round the opposite corner, heading back toward home.

Oh. I don't have my cell phone with me. Apparently some plan went awry, or D. got his facts mixed up, resulting in a phone call to come pick him up. So now there are two parents out of the house this morning for the sake of band, which isn't happening, apparently.

I follow the van home. D says the party has been postponed to Monday. The muffins go in the freezer as I state, "these had BETTER be here Monday morning, because I am not buying any more."

S is cheerfully playing Mario Kart Worldwide with some strangers from France and England. Never mind the fact that the Wii is offlimits until all school is done, the opportunistic child was counting on my being gone for a longer period of time.

We turn the Wii off (I am kind enough to let her finish the Koopa Cape race), and sit down at the dining room table to begin math. The kids grab their favorite yogurt flavors to fortify their minds and their intestines. S, unthinking, sets hers at the edge of the table, and then promptly knocks the yogurt off the table onto the carpet. The yogurt flavor? Pineapple upside-down cake.

Delays, delays! I sponge up the carpet while she cleans her bare foot. She reapproaches the table, only to stub her toe on the corner. More delays for a pain rage fit.

This is our typical pattern of life. If I become a year-round schooler, it's not by choice, but by necessity.