February 25, 2013

Mmmmm....Rutabaga Beet Cake

Sometimes I buy food
And don't eat it.
It sits in the fridge for a week or two
Looking at me
Hoping to get chosen.
Sometimes it waits a long time.

I don't know why I bought the rutabagas.
But I did.
I roasted them the day I got them.
For some imaginary soup
I never made.

At a certain point in time
A choice must be made.
Either you eat that certain something in the fridge
Or you ignore it.
Eating it is probably fine
Except now it's been stigmatized.
And who wants to live with that?
Ignoring means that it'll get tossed out next week
When a nice layer of fuzz has grown.

It was under these circumstances
That I discovered I didn't have enough carrots
To make my carrot cake.

Not enough carrots?
No problem.
I decided to make it anyway.
I used the 3 rutabagas
And one beet
That have been pleading with me
To eat them for the past few days.

The verdict? Wow. They loved it. Couldn't eat it fast enough. The boys and a friend had a piece after doing their chores this afternoon. Had another piece for dessert. And one more after basketball practice. Yeah, the entire cake's almost gone. Unbelievable.

Now just for the record, to me the rutabaga taste is a little too strong (though NO one else thought that - especially since I didn't tell them). But that could be due to the fact that I know that it's in it. Using two instead of three would be better - still pack a vitamin punch without so much vitamin flavor. The batter was magenta from the beet. And so was the top of the baked cake. However, the inside was definitely not pink. So weird. For all of my Facebook friends who have asked for the recipe, here goes...

Carrot Rutabaga Beet Cake
2 c. whole wheat flour
2 c. sugar
1.5 t. baking powder
2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1/4 t. nutmeg 
1/4 t. ground cloves
2 t. cinnamon
1.25 c. coconut oil
3 c. grated carrots (or cooked/peeled rutabagas or beets or other random vegetables you may have in your fridge)
4 large eggs
1.5 t. vanilla
1/2 lemon (about 2 inches of peel/zest, too)

I put the wet ingredients into my blender and whipped it up super smooth. Then added it to a bowl with the dry ingredients in it. Grease and flour a 9x13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes. My convection oven took 45 minutes at 325.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1/4 c. butter - softened
4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 t. vanilla
2 c. confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar)
1 Tbsp. milk or cream

Cream the butter and cream cheese, then add vanilla and milk/cream. Next slowly incorporate the powdered sugar. Spread over the cooled cake.

Bon appetit!
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February 23, 2013

Serious Texting

I was trying to get Kira to pose for a collage I want to do,
But she wanted no part of it.
She's got peeps to keep up with.

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February 18, 2013

Gold Medalist

In a couple of practice games shooting hoops this morning, Graeden beat Tymon twice. Legitimately. Tymon came upstairs excited. The competition was fun for him and so much better than last year or the year before when Graeden wasn't as good of a shot. I'd like to let you know that Graeden scored 6 baskets in his real basketball game last Saturday. It's exciting to see his skills improve and that he's enjoying the game more.

At lunch time, Tymon came up with the grand plan for us to host our first ever Johns Family Olympics. The contests included basketball, air hockey, ping pong and darts.

Unfortunately for Graeden, Tymon got one more point than him in the official Olympic game. But it didn't really matter since I schooled them all and brought home the gold (or rather a cinnamon bear since those were our medals). 

I'm not sure why I can't let my kids win. It's just not in my nature. But I still wanted to help them. So, after I got a comfortable lead, I taught the boys how to shoot. A little bit of spin goes a long way for making baskets, especially if it hits the rim.

Tymon's favorite game happens to be air hockey. When we were dating, we went to a party together and there were 3 different air hockey tables set up in the basement. He played everyone and never lost. Ever. One guy almost beat him. But he didn't. So, I'm not sure that Graeden will beat him in this event next year. Or the one after. But someday, he'll take his father down and when he does, he'll know that he's the best.

Tymon took the gold medals in the other events. I'm pretty sure that won't happen next time, though. Graeden was pretty close in some of the games.

In other news, I haven't done too well with my letter a day for February. I'm only 11 for 18. I may or may not catch up...but I did well tonight with three.

I wrote Costco telling them how much I appreciate them adding coconut oil to their shelves. I requested it last year in one of my letters. (Not that my letter did it, but several like mine likely played a role.) I also requested that they ask the companies that sell products on Costco shelves to label their packaging with GMO information. (If you've never heard of them, click on What's The Big Deal With GMOs?) If you also feel so inclined to encourage Costco to be a leader in this movement, write them at Costco, PO Box 34331, Seattle, WA 98124.

I also wrote Whole Foods. They claim that they don't sell anything artificial. Ever. Ha ha. They have tons of products that contain GMOs. And as far as most everyone is concerned, altering a crop's DNA in a lab is about as artificial as it gets. If you want to write Whole Foods, you can do so at 550 Bowie Street, Austin, TX 78703.

My final letter was to General Mills, the maker of Cheerios. I asked them to remove the GMOs from their products and leave the original vitamins/minerals in their foods (instead of adding them later) so that I could buy their cereals again. I won't ever buy granola again, though. Mine is just too good. If you'd like to write to General Mills, you can do so at PO Box 9452, Minneapolis, MN 55440.

Never underestimate the power of a handwritten letter. Short and sweet is good. It's important to be a part of the solution to whatever problems you have on your soap box. 

This morning, I finished a book, The Story of Beautiful Girl, which was fantastic. And tonight we went out to dinner for my mom's birthday. So all in all a great day.

February 11, 2013

Gerbil Incest: Best Kept Within The Family

A week or two ago Tymon tried to determine the sex of the new gerbils, which is no easy task. He declared them to all be boys and then found the same body part on Spyra. Huh. The mystery remains. 

Until today. Blackie was chasing his mother non-stop. Spyra "rested" on the exercise wheel (notice Gimpy was sleeping under it). Then the moment she got off, Blackie was chasing her around the cage again...and sometimes caught and mounted her. So we're pretty certain at this point that Blackie is a boy.

What remains unclear is whether or not Gimpy and Bash are, too. When a male gerbil sees another male mating with a female, do they respect that and not try anything? Or will they just take their turn later? 

Or are they girls? If so, why isn't Blackie getting on them? Or did he do that already? What if we have one stud and three pregnant girls in the cage? Oh boy. We've gotten so much more out of this experience than we were signing up for!

Sex ed for Jocelyn (age 4) at this point consists of getting definitions right.

Me: What's sex?
Jocelyn: (sings "Hey Sexy Lady")
Me: Nope

Jocelyn: It means you get married!
Me: That's a good start (I start to talk in terms of Blackie and Spyra...not wanting to give too much info but also to give enough. At the same time, I'm putting together the "Blackie and Spyra Get It On" collage above.)

Tymon: Jocelyn, you should be in bed.
Jocelyn: (exasperated) I'm watching sex Dad!

Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Oh, wow.  I'm sure at some point we'll need to fill in some holes in understanding. For now, the kids are quite clear on the most important formula: sex = babies.
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February 10, 2013

Racking Up Wife Points: Soundgarden

Volunteering at the Paramount Theatre
Confirms in my mind
That I'm not the oddest girl in Seattle.
Whenever Tymon and I go, we meet a lot of people.
And sometimes they are so so so very different from us.

Many of them are super nice...
Like the guy who showed up at my door
To see Soundgarden
On Friday
With a beer in each hand.

It's not allowed to bring alcohol into the theatre.
So he did what any nice guy,
Antsy to see the show,
Would do.
He gave one to the first guy he saw coming out the door.
They chugged them down in 10 seconds flat.
Then made introductions.
Ha ha ha.
And now they're friends for life.
Or 5 minutes,
Which ever is more convenient.

Some patrons are considerate.
Like the girl wearing the Nobody Knows I'm a Lesbian tee-shirt.
She asked me a question about the show.
And if I'd seen it the night before.
I hadn't.
Then asked me if I liked Soundgarden.
I don't really like them.
But my husband at the next door does.
She informed me that I'm scoring Wife Points tonight.

One patron knew me.
"You look familiar!"
Never seen her before in my life.
I mentioned the driving school.
"No. Fawcett?"
That's my maiden name.
So maybe I have seen her before.
Turns out she was one of my parents tenants several years ago.
I think she's the lady who couldn't pay the rent.
And robbed a bank.
But the teller only had a couple thousand dollars.
They caught her down the street.
Then she really had a hard
Time paying the rent.

The main floor of the concert was general seating.
Or rather, it was standing room only.
Ushers have the task
Of keeping balcony patrons in the balcony.
So the floor doesn't get too crowded.

It was a bit odd for me to ask some of the big guys
To see their tickets.
They could have eaten me for lunch.
But were so respectful
When I let them know
They needed to drink their beverages in the lobby.

We stayed for about an hour.
I thought I might get a head ache from the hard music.
I didn't.
But the smell of pot smoke makes me nauseous.
I sat in the lobby for about 5 minutes
While Tymon heard the rest of a song.

Other patrons
Are unafraid to speak their minds.
As if you're long time friends.
Like the guy and his girlfriend
Who've definitely been drinking.

He asks me if I'm okay.
Because my head is down
And eyes closed.
I look up.
Unsure if they are talking to me.
I take out my ear plugs.
I'm fine,
I say.
Just don't like the smoke.

Then out of nowhere:
"You're not wearing make up!"
No, I'm not.
He tells me that I'm beautiful.
More than once.
And his girlfriend agrees.

I'm having a hard time believing
We're actually having this conversation.
It's the kind that people have
When they people watch.
Making comments among themselves.
But never with the person they're actually talking about.
Discretion pays big.
Getting caught does not.
 Except this time what they should be saying
Behind my back
Is spoken to my face.

I smile.
This is awkward.
"Oh, look at her smile!"
I couldn't hear what he was saying.
The lobby noise competes with the concert.
So, I just smile some more.
And they gush about my beauty.
Which reminds me of a time when my sister and I
Would put on our demure lips and instruct others
to not "hate me because I'm beautiful"

"How old are you?"
I would've said 27, but not 37."
His girlfriend nods in agreement.
"Let's see how well you do. How old am I?"
I pause.
For a bit.
My real thought: he must be about 40, maybe 45.
Which I couldn't bring myself to say.
It just sounds too old.
Even though it's not.
I tell him I think he's older than me.
He won't tell me if I'm right.
He was probably 30.

I don't think I'm the weirdest person ever.
No, meeting all sorts of folks in Seattle tells me that.
But it does help me see
That we can all be odd

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February 7, 2013

Salt Snob

Several months ago my cousin and I were talking and somehow the topic of salt came up. Which is strange because very rarely do I ever find myself talking about salt. I didn't know what kosher salt was until about a year ago. 

She mentioned that her husband was a salt snob. And here's me: they have salt snobs? I had no idea. Which is a problem if that's what I'm destined to be.

I read an article about artisan salts containing 80+ trace minerals. And the salt we usually buy in stores is processed and stripped of those. Then bleached white. Hmmm....I'd like my minerals back, please!

I found a company online named Salt Works ... they share some wonderful information on their website. I wanted to see where they were located. Surprise, surprise! They are based in the next town over from me. 

I spent an hour today learning about and sampling a dozen or more different salts. Wow. Wow oh wow. I had no idea what kind of depth and dimension salt had. I found both what I liked and what I didn't like. I'm pretty sure it's cheaper to buy artisan salts with dozens of naturally occurring trace minerals than to buy a dietary mineral supplements with just a handful of them.

I got a crap load of samples to bring home so Tymon could try them, too (in addition to the 3 different bulk kinds I bought). I really liked the Cyprus Black Lava salt. It's got activated charcoal in it and crystallizes into a pyramid shape. The Kala Namak black mineral salt (a beige/pink color) is pretty good, too. With a sulfur content, it tastes likes eggs. Apparently, some Vegans use it to add an egg flavor to their dishes. Salt Works also has powdered salts (Velvet) for putting on popcorn - the powder sticks better than grains. 

I've just been reading about a ton of uses for salt, too. It's kind of like the list for baking soda uses...seemingly endless. I've decided to get rid of my current supply of crappy processed salts on household cleaning projects. Then we'll bask in culinary delight with my new collection of artisan salts. Yay!

February 2, 2013

A Month of Letters 2013

When Tymon told me about this conversation he had with Graeden, I thought Graeden must have been talking in his sleep. Ha ha ha. He was awake. And totally serious.

Tymon: Graeden, time to get up for school, it's going to be awesome!

Graeden: What time is it?

T: About 7:30

G: Do you mind if I waste five minutes?

T: To do what?

G: Two math problems. Three digits by two digits. I didn't do them last night and my headache is gone.

T: I don't mind at all if you waste five minutes.

It's that time again! I loved doing this challenge last year and am excited to do it this year. First to get a letter? I'll have to look in my stack of unanswered ones...I think I still have 2 or 3 from last year that I never responded to since they came after February was over. For shame, I know. But a year late is better than never, right? Ha ha ha. 

I didn't write any letters yesterday, so tonight I need to do two. I was sick and vomiting all evening. And all night. And I didn't sleep well and my stomach still seems a bit queasy. I blame the Mexican pizza I ate for lunch. So weird. But my body let me know loud and clear that I'm no longer welcome to eat at Taco Bell. 
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