Sunday, August 4, 2013

I'm a Codfish

We spent the past week in Oregon, walking on foggy beaches, eating the best marionberry scones in the universe, and generally decompressing until we could barely lift our heads from our pillows each morning. We also ate a lot of fish, as you would expect from being next to the ocean and all. Apparently we ate enough to put me in the mood to cook more for dinner tonight; in fact, the fish practically jumped out of the case at Whole Foods today and begged me to buy them (and as an aside, isn't it nice to go back to your grocery store after vacation? So homey. So not-lost. So nice.) Anyway, usually I'm nervous about cooking fish. I leave it to Husband and his magical grill basket: he makes the best grilled sockeye salmon you'll ever eat. But even though I'd give myself a B- most nights with fish in the kitchen, this time was definitely an A.

Here we go: Cod for Four.

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds cod (this cod was black cod, and it was perfect)
2 shallots, peeled and diced
2 Meyer lemons, zested and sliced into wedges
4T butter
1/4 cup white wine
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Slice the cod into 4 equal pieces and set aside. Melt 3/4 of the butter in a large sauté pan and add the shallots. Saute for a few minutes until soft, and then throw in the lemon zest. Cook another minute and then remove and set aside.

Add the rest of the butter, let it melt, and then add the cod, skin side down. Cook for several minutes over medium heat. While the fish is cooking, squeeze the juice out of one of the lemons, mix in a cup with the wine, and set aside. Turn the fish and cook 2 minutes more. Add the lemon juice + wine and cook 2 minutes more. Take the fish out, place on a plate, and salt and pepper it.

Add the shallots and zest back into the pan and cook with the remaining sauce for 1-2 minutes. Pour shallots, zest and sauce over the fish and serve each piece with a wedge of lemon. Save 2 wedges for your sparking water and feel even more virtuous.

I served this with heirloom tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, and a delicious zucchini gratin I made before I started on the fish. Mwah! Delicious! Enjoy!

Sunday, June 16, 2013


Forget all you have ever known about "ambrosia" as dessert - you know, mini marshmallows, pineapple, something creamy holding it all together - yuck, in other words.

I have figured out how it was really made.

When the Greek gods were chowing it down, it consisted of

Strawberries, sliced
Peaches, same
Fresh basil, cut into very fine strips

all mixed together and topped with Ricotta cream, which take about 2 minutes and consists of

15 oz whole milk ricotta cheese, mixed in the blender with
2 T sugar and
a generous squirt of honey

That's it. Simple. Perfect. Amazing.

Happy Father's Day.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

House Rules

Some friends and I were talking recently about having simple "house rules" for kids to follow. Their children are much younger than mine, and the rules consist of lists of what to do at bedtime, how much TV and computer time you can have each day of summer break, etc. These lists are great ideas to help keep things simple and clear for kids, and to help avoid having to repeat yourself until your voice gives out ("did you brush your teeth?" "then brush your teeth." "did you put your clothes in the hamper?" "well, do it now." and so on).

But in this house, we have come to the point where we need other rules. Different rules. Rules that make mom break out in hives as she writes them down.

We have, ladies and gentlemen, House Rules for Growing Boys. Ahem:

1.            If you are dating someone, we need her name and home phone number. Yes, we will talk to her parents.
2.            Members of the opposite sex are not allowed upstairs.

3.            Members of the opposite sex may not come to the house when no adult is home.
4.            Rules 2 and 3 apply at your girlfriend’s house, even if her parents don’t say so.

5.            If you are dating someone and your grades drop, you will have to stop dating her.
6.            Dating someone will never be an excuse to stop participating in extra-curricular activities, or to avoid signing up for them.

7.            Use your cell phone to talk to or text with friends/girlfriends. Please don’t tie up the house phone for long.
8.            Cell phones will be downstairs on the dining room table by 9pm on school nights, 10pm on   weekends.

9.            We will read all your texts. We have an app for that.
10.          You’re not allowed on social networking sites. Sorry.
I wrote the first draft, and Husband edited. I handed the boys each a copy today when they got home, and posted a third copy on the fridge.

You see, One asked me the other day if he could date someone (or was that a capital offense at his age? He apparently needed to know.). And Two - as much as I hate to admit it - is getting a cell phone at the end of next week when school lets out. It scares me a bit, but they are growing older. I'd rather tackle these difficult things up front than make it up as we go along. I'm not that way about everything; bedtime, for instance, has never been more than a lofty goal. And many other decisions have been made in the past (and will be made in the future) based on what feels right given all the circumstances. But these kinds of rules - especially the dating-related ones - I want to get right from the outset. I want expectations to be completely clear. First of all, it's an emotional topic (in a teen's mind in particular), and one that does not lend itself to "what feels right for Mom at this particular moment". It's also a subject on which I don't expect a lot of communication from the boys. They may not want me in this part of their lives, for the most part. And really, except for setting out the expectations their father and I have for their behavior, I don't think we belong there unless expressly invited. Because of that, I want to make our expectations as straightforward as possible.

So here we go. I'm sure the list will grow and change as the boys do. Wish me luck! I need it.

And a drink. I need a glass of wine right now -- badly.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Pulled Pork Sliders are Served in Heaven

Every time I make pulled pork I screw it up.

Every. Single. Time.

Except today, which is truly a miraculous happening. Here's the recipe that occasioned the wonder. I started with a recipe in the Williams Sonoma catalog (no, really) and played from there.

1 4lb pork shoulder (pork butt, whatever you call it. I'll stick with shoulder, if only to avoid as many "butt" jokes as possible)

1 T kosher salt and 1 T freshly ground pepper, rubbed onto pork shoulder

1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic
2 T Dijon mustard
Generous squirt ketchup
1/2 cup cider vinegar (I use Mrs. Bragg's, which I'm convinced is somehow healthy)
2 cups low salt chicken broth
Dash or two cayenne pepper

Place the six ingredients above in the bottom of a large dutch oven, and put the pork shoulder (with salt and pepper rubbed in) directly on top. Cover tightly with a lid and bake at 300 degrees for 4 hours. FOUR HOURS. You can check it before that, but it needs to cook until it's falling apart --- and that means FOUR HOURS. Take a nap.

When the pork can be pulled apart with a fork easily, take out and let rest. Meanwhile, spoon the fat off the top of the sauce, and add the following:

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
3 tsp Worchestershire sauce

Keep the sauce warm and place the pork in a large bowl. "Pull" or shred the meat, and then pour the sauce over the top. Toss and serve on toasted, buttered slider buns. Wowza.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Chihuahuas always Win

Gypsy, our half-feral two year old Boxer, has the chest of a heavyweight champion and the bark of a 5lb toy dog. The boys are embarrassed by her yips; Two so much so that he's written a story about how this travesty came to be. Here we go...

Once upon a time, when Gypsy was feral, she met a small Chihuahua. Gypsy was hungry -- very hungry -- so she said to the Chihuahua, "I am so hungry, I don't care that you are a dog and not a cat. I will eat you."

"Beware!" said the Chihuahua. "I am a magical dog, and I have the power to curse you if you hurt me."

"Ha!" said wild Gypsy. "You are my lunch!" And she pounced and ate him up in one bite.

But woe be it to Gypsy, the Chihuahua was indeed a powerful, magical dog. As Gypsy jumped on him, he had just enough time to mutter a spell, and he cursed Gypsy with his last breath. The curse? That Gypsy would grow big and strong, but no matter how big she was, she would always bark like a Chihuahua.

And so she does.

The End.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Food on the Fourth

We didn't do much to celebrate the Fourth - it seems odd to be off in the middle of the week for one day, frankly. But we did cook, as usual, and it was wonderful.

Tomatoes and mozzerella. I was very lucky with some beefsteak tomatoes at Whole Foods - when I cut into them they smelled like childhood summer.

An enormous pile of meat, compliments of Husband's copious grilling talents.

Broccoli rabe with shallots and bacon. Mmmmm, bacon.

Elotes, since One can't eat corn on the cob right now, what with braces and everything. It might taste even better this way - I need to eat a lot more of it so I can make up my mind about that.

And of course, s'mores.

You know it's summer. Even if it only hit 90 today.

We've watched the NYC and DC fireworks on TV, are going to read the Declaration of Independence and then head off to bed. Hope your Fourth was a good one!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

John Updike: Seven Stanzas at Easter

Make no mistake: if He rose at all

it was as His body;

if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules

reknit, the amino acids rekindle,

the Church will fall

It was not as the flowers,

each soft Spring recurrent;

it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled

eyes of the eleven apostles;

it was as His flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,

the same valved heart

that–pierced–died, withered, paused, and then

regathered out of enduring Might

new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,

analogy, sidestepping transcendence;

making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the

faded credulity of earlier ages:

let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâché,

not a stone in a story,

but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow

grinding of time will eclipse for each of us

the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,

make it a real angel,

weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,

opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen

spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,

for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,

lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are

embarrassed by the miracle,

and crushed by remonstrance.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Welcome Home Gypsy

Here is the latest addition to the Grass Widow Household, the no-longer-wandering Gypsy. Two weeks ago she was in a kill shelter when Lone Star Boxer Rescue swooped in to save her. She spent two weeks being kenneled at a vet, she was spayed yesterday, and she came home with us today. She is unbelievably good and sweet, full of kisses she wants to give away, and instantly, madly in love with Knight.
In other words, a keeper.