Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Whole Foods Ruined It

I hate mayonaise.  Truly.  I find it absolutely disgusting.  Mix mayonaise with a decent food like tuna fish and I just about lose my marbles.  Why, oh why, does it have to be so?  Can't there be a better way to have your tuna sandwich?

Well, it turns out there is.  Several years ago, I discovered a tuna salad at Whole Foods which was mayonaise-free.  It had olive oil and lemon and all sort of glorious other ingredients.  It was delicious on everything but I particularly liked to eat it on French rye with a slice of Swiss cheese.  (Very international, I know.)  I started making my own and it became the perfect light summer meal.  Here's the rough recipe:

Mayo-Free Tuna

1 pkg. of solid white tuna
juice from one lemon
olive oil
1/4 cup minced onion
1/2 a green apple
handful of dried, sweetened cranberries
salt and pepper

Mix together. (All ingredients can be altered to suit your taste.)

A couple of days ago I was in Whole Foods and saw the apple and cranberry tuna salad in the premade food section.  It looked different (and thus caught my eye) so I read the ingredients for the first time in years.  There it was right at the top of the list:  mayonaise.  Gone were the lemon juice and olive oil. 

Bastards.  Oh well, make your own and you might still have money left over to send your kid to college.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Summer Dinner

When it's hot, I hate to cook.  Actually, despite all the talk of food on this blog, I am not too crazy about cooking in general.  If I had to make a meal a few times a week, I probably would enjoy the challenge but getting three nutritious, unprocessed meals on the table every day of the week becomes a huge grind.  And then there's the clean-up...  sometimes I just want to throw in the dishtowel and let the kids feed off the floor.

While I don't have any great insight into getting things cleaned up efficiently, I came up with a meal last night that was a HUGE hit with my girls.  Before you get too excited, it is just a variation on quesadillas but it is an improved variation, I think.  What I have done in the past is put some cheese and beans in a tortilla, heated it up, and served it with some guacamole on top.  Vivi would eat a couple bites and then announce that she did not, in fact, like quesadillas.

And then I realized... it's all about presentation baby!  Well, duh!

So last night, I made plain cheese quesadillas, black beans and peppers, watermelon salsa, guacamole, and local corn on the cob.  The quesadillas were cut into triangles and the other items were served separately in ramekins.  What used to be a ho-hum meal turned into a dipping extravaganza. 

The beauty of this meal is that you can make (or buy) the guacamole and salsa in advance.  For the beans, I just chopped an onion, green pepper , and garlic.  Cooked it in canola oil until softened, added my beans, mixed in some tomato juice and spicy brown mustard and then salted it to taste.  It took 10 minutes max.  I softened my tortillas directly on the (gas) burner of my stove.  The cheese will melt from the residual heat of the tortilla.  Steam your corn at the same time and you are good to go.  The final step is the most important:  look worn out when your husband walks in the door so you get out of doing the clean-up.

What are your tips for easy summer meals?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pet Peeves

My husband says that if I stop expecting people to be thoughtful, polite individuals, I wouldn't feel exasperated a good chunk of the time.  I admit he has a point.  In theory, I know the only thing I can actually control is my reaction to bad behavior but... wouldn't you just want to know if you were doing something that annoyed the hell out of another person?

Ummm... on second thought, never mind.

I've been feeling a little put out the last few days by people I don't even know.  Twice, in as many days, I have picked up the phone before 8 a.m. and had this conversation:

Caller:   Who is this?
Me:   You called me.  Who are YOU?
Caller:  Someone from this number called me.
Me:  Well, did they leave a message?
Caller:  No.
Me:  If someone calls you from a number you don't know and they don't leave you a message, that usually means it was a wrong number or the call wasn't important.  Do you realize it isn't even 8 a.m.? 

That's the point in the conversation when I hang up in disgust.  It drives me crazy that a wrong number can't just be a wrong number anymore.  If you didn't recognize the number in the first place, why didn't you just answer the phone? 

I think the bigger issue here is that we live in a society where we have to be so "connected" all the time that we are actually more disconnected to people and basic human interaction.  How many times have you been to a restaurant or in line at a coffee shop and the person near you barely gets off his phone long enough to bark an order at the counter help?  We are not interacting with people so much as we are briefly pausing to take what we need from them before moving on to something else.  What we gain by this so-called multitasking is not offset by the lost human connection and the awful example we are setting for our children.  If we can't take a moment to thank the cashier in a store, greet a neighbor, or live with the mystery of a wrong number, how can we expect our children to be polite and not pursue a life ruled by the guarantee of instant gratification?

While I was mulling over the ills of society and my Luddite tendencies, I was smacked with the scent of my second pet peeve.

Human Poop.
At the playground.
That my newly walking Ellie stepped in.

For the sake of all that is decent, if your kid shits at the playground could you at least have the decency to clean it up?  I know kids need to go and often it is at a time when no bathroom can be found but if you are required by law to clean up after your dog, could you not extend the courtesy to your fellow parents and children at the park?  The most annoying thing in this particular scenario was that the parent clearly knew the child pooped (inside a plastic playhouse no less) because the dirty wipes were sitting right there.  Shameful! 

OK, I'm done.  What are your pet peeves?

Thanks for reading and have a nice day.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Great Toilet Paper Caper

Now that my Turtles are anything but slow little crawlers, they are getting into all sorts of mischief together.  Of course, they almost always find it in the bathroom.  First, it was the toilet and the splash pool it became.  Once we all learned to remember to put the lid down, however, it became less of a destination.  Since they have yet to figure out how to open it I thought we were in the clear.  That's when  The Great Toilet Paper Caper starring Ellie Bean and Jude Bug happened.

Hey Jude, look what I found!

Quick, grab as much as you can before mommy notices!

Run faster!  She's on to us!

Victory is mommy's as the Turtles collapse into a heap of giggles.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Can't a lady get a break around here?

It's been too flippin' hot to do anything.  That includes making meals, playing at the park, or updating this here blog.  Even Vivi and the Turtles, who are normally so full of energy, are just lethargic little sweat balls.  We are subsisting on our bad attitudes, popsicles, and periodic trips to the mall to gorge ourselves on the cool breeze of air-conditioning.  We are pathetic but we are not unlike a lot of New Englanders riding out this heatwave the best way we know how.

Unfortunately, the weather has been the least of our troubles the last couple of weeks.  It all started when my adorable little Ellie Bean nearly landed in the ER with a gash on her index finger.  In the chaos that rules our early mornings, she managed to get her finger stuck in a partially opened can that was sitting in our recycle bin.  Our kitchen looked like a crime scene from all the blood but we were lucky it wasn't worse.  Thankfully, my friend Karen's husband graciously came over and glued her finger back together. 

Then, my grandmother died from a massive stroke.  Although I had no desire to attend the funeral (for reasons I won't go into here), we did return to Vermont so I could see my siblings and so my girls could cheer my dad up.  In that regard, I think the trip was successful.

Things were calming down a bit and Ellie's finger was starting to look normal again.  That's when she took a tumble off our back steps and landed on the concrete.

This picture fails to show the black eye that cropped up a few hours later.  We decided that she needed a onesie that says, "If you think I look bad, you should see the other baby." 

In the same afternoon, Vivi managed to trap a squirrel on our back porch.  In it's attempt to escape, it gave her a good scratching.  

One more reason we hate squirrels.

Then, in what was one of the scariest moments of my life, my husband called me from work yesterday and said, "Sam, I am really sick.  I need you to pick me up and take me to the hospital." For those of you who don't know my husband, he is a physician who is in excellent shape.  He regularly runs, plays squash, and commutes by bike.  Two weeks before we were married, he finished in the top 10% of the Boston Marathon at age 48.  He has an incredibly high pain threshold and this is not the sort of call I ever expected from him.

I raced to his office with the babies in tow.  He was in excruciating pain so I dropped him at the hospital near our house.  When I got home, I started calling friends to see if someone could come stay with my kids so I could get back to the hospital.  Luckily, my friend Lydia and her husband Jason saved the day.  When I made it back to the ER about 30 minutes later, my husband had been given a shot of morphine (with no effect) and was still writhing in pain in the ER. 

I could not stand to see him like that so I did something about which I am not totally proud.  I went up to the triage nurse and said,  "Excuse me, is there anyway that you could get my husband in sooner?  He is a physician and the morphine has been ineffective."  My husband would never play the doctor card and while I admire his modesty, I couldn't bear to see him suffer.  Within minutes, he was in a room and by the end of the hour, he was given a heavy duty dose of narcotics.  He was really loopy but he was comfortable.

The verdict:  a kidney stone.  It seems to have passed and he got to spend the night at home which was a relief to us all.  He's back at work this morning and feeling good.

Of course, I am still not totally contented.  In what seems to be the most insufferable of all our adventures lately, I am still waiting on Season 3 of Mad Men from the library. 

Can't a lady get a break around here?  :-)