Saturday, July 30, 2011

I'm Betty Ready

Gentle readers, feast your eyes on this photo of me rocking the Betty Crocker look. I created it on, and I think it proves I'm ready to join the culinary pantheon of imaginary housewives.

See? I'm WAY cooler than Ms. Boring 1996. Get with it, General Mills. Retro is the new modern!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Cereal Killer

During these hot summer days when maiden aunts are subsisting mostly on smoothies and sandwiches, our thoughts naturally turn to food tales of yore.

The Scene: My mother's kitchen, circa 1983. Cereal is kept in a floor-level cabinet so children can serve themselves for breakfast and snacks.

The Players: Me. My sister Rachel, age 6. Our brother Aaron is 13 -- seven years older than Rachel and seven years younger than me.

Rachel: Maria, would you please get me some cereal?

Maria: You can get it yourself. I'll get the milk out of the fridge for you.

Rachel: Can you get me cereal too?

Maria: You can get your own cereal. Open the cabinet and pick the kind you want.

Rachel: I want Cheerios. Get them out for me, pleeeeeeeeease?

Maria: [opening cabinet and pulling out a cereal box] Okay, here you go.

Rachel: Open it.

Maria: Open it yourself.

Rachel: [never taking her eyes off the box] You open it.

Maria: Rachel, you're a big girl! Why won't you do this yourself?

Rachel: I'm scared.

Maria: What can you possibly be scared of?

Rachel: I'm afraid of monsters. In the cereal box.

Maria: What in the world? ... AARON!!!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chocolate Fountain

During these hot summer days when maiden aunts are subsisting mostly on smoothies and sandwiches, our thoughts naturally turn to food tales of yore.

Picture it: my mother's kitchen, 1985. My youngest sister Rachel (age 8 at the time) asked me to help her make a milkshake. Since I was fully grown and much taller, she stood in front of me while we loaded the blender with ice cream, milk, and Nestle's Quik. As I reached out to pick up the blender's lid off the counter, Rachel pushed a button and started the blender.

Have you ever noticed how, in moments like this, time seems to slow way down? I saw her push the button. I heard myself say "NOOOOOOOOO." I saw the blender's contents fly high into the air, and then splash down upon us. I was still reaching for the lid while flailing toward the off switch.

I surveyed the wreckage. There were chunks of ice cream and splashes of milk everywhere. I was spattered from the chest up and completely clean from there down since Rachel had made a very effective human shield. She was drenched from head to toe, her hair dripping chocolate milk onto the floor. I ran across the kitchen and unspooled a roll of paper towels to mop us off, and then sent her to take a shower and change. I cleaned the kitchen, although I suspect my mother is finding bits of chocolate in odd places to this day.

When I got back from my turn in the shower, believe it or not, the kid still wanted a milkshake.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Verily, 'Tis A Good Oyntment (With Receipt!)

While noodling around the Newport Historical Society website looking for genealogical research information, I found the following "receipt":

To Cure Chopt Lipps &c.

Take 2oz: of Bees wax & cutt it in pieces or bitts & 1

Gill of good Sweet oyl set it over a Clear fire when

Dissolved pour it into a Clear Bason & it will be when

Coal’d an Oyntment good for sore Nipples also any

Thing of that kind.

Try it next time you're grilling burgers and happen to have some beeswax on hand!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Like a Lobster

A friend recently told me that when a lobster outgrows its shell, it moults and then hides until the new shell forms because it's soft and vulnerable.

So for my gentle readers who are wondering why I haven't been updating much lately, the answer is this: I'm not unhappy, I'm not bored, I'm not even out of ideas. I'm moulting. Some of this has entailed going places and seeing new things. Some it has been about doing research and taking on new information. And some of the time, I'm doing what looks like a lot of nothing much -- sitting in the yard listening to the birds, reading, and drawing the yellowjackets that land on me.

I don't yet know what shape my new shell will be once it grows. But I do know this: if I have to take on the shape of a beleaguered office worker again, I'd frankly prefer to be devoured by a codfish.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sweet Potato Oven Fries (with Recipe!)

In the summertime, I want to get through my chores as quickly as possible and get to the main attraction of the season: being outdoors. Cooking, as much as I love it, is no exception. I'm doing a lot more assembling of meals (tossing salads, spooning berries over cottage cheese) than I am actual cooking these days.

Of course, grilling is a great way to cook and be outside at the same time, which is where these oven fries come in so handy. They cook in your oven, leaving you time to toss a salad, grill up some burgers, or take a few more runs on the Slip-n-Slide. Everyone loves them -- adults and children alike -- and they are actually very good for you!

The recipe serves four, but since it's a "to taste" kind of recipe, you can easily make as much or as little as you need. This is one of the very few times I recommend using garlic powder because fresh garlic will burn.

Sweet Potato Oven Fries

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled
olive oil
kosher salt
garlic powder

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare one large or two small rimmed baking sheets by pouring a little olive oil in the bottom and spreading to coat the pan(s).

2. Cut sweet potatoes in 1-inch steak fry sized pieces and place pieces in a large bowl. Drizzle olive oil over potatoes and toss. Make sure you use enough olive oil that all the potatoes are fully coated. Sprinkle on the salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. (I find it's better to season these liberally.) Toss again.

3. Spread the seasoned sweet potatoes on the baking sheet(s), making sure they are in a single layer and are not too crowded. Place sheet(s) in the hot oven and bake approximately 45 minutes. (Tip: I check them after half an hour and give them a little jiggle or turn them over with a spatula.) The fries are done when they are soft when pierced with a fork and are slightly browned around the edges.