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Should we eat some spices?

The Bug has recently discovered that he can pull the kitchen stepladder up to the side of the countertops, climb the ladder, and then see — and touch — all that’s going on up at that mysterious altitude.  I’m generally in favor of this development as it gives him a feeling of greater agency and participation in the same general world as me and BD.  So one spot he can now reach is the spice drawer.  Instead of keeping the spices up in a cabinet I have them laid out in a drawer by the stove, which I find much more convenient for cooking.  They’re all in little glass containers that latch closed.  The Bug opens the drawer on Wednesday night and says “what’s that,” pointing to the jars of spices.  “Spices,” I reply.  “Should we try some of them?” he asks.  I’m thinking, sure, why not.  He’ll try one or two, realize it’s not that much fun to eat herbs and spices straight out of the jar, and that will be that.  But no, he just kept on trying them.  He ate: sesame seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, oregano, basil, dill weed, fenugreek seeds, garam masala, curry powder, and a wee bit of salt.

This morning for breakfast, alongside his toast with almond butter he had oregano, sesame seeds, and cumin seeds.  He ate a lot of cumin seeds.  I hope that doesn’t cause any digestive distress.  Right now I’m sort of happy to support his adventures in eating, so long as they cause no harm to me, to him, or to our kitchen.  We’ll see how it all comes out.

Should we touch it?

Yesterday the Bug and I went for a late afternoon walk to the playground with the dogs while BD reorganized our storage closet and made dinner.  On our way home it was starting to get dark thanks to the time change.  This is one of the few recent times that Bug has been outside in the dark since he’s in bed by 7:30 and all spring and summer, it was light out then.   There was a big, beautiful almost full moon (it’s actually full today) sitting pretty low over the horizon in a cloudless sky.  I pointed it out to Bug as we were walking home.  He turned to face it, then looked at me and said, “should we touch it?”  I told him to reach for it, to stretch his arms out as long as he could.  He did, but still couldn’t reach it.  Then he wanted to walk closer to it.  All the way home, as we moved along he wanted to keep track of the moon.  We spied it over houses and through tree branches.  “It’s floating in the sky” Bug pronounced.

For bedtime stories last night I pulled out “Goodnight Moon,” which we haven’t read in ages, to honor our time with the moon.  Bug was very, very interested in it.  The big, glowing moon outside the window in the story looked just like the moon we had seen outside.  This morning in the car he remarked, “remember, we read a story, Goodnight Moon.”

We have another cloudless sky today, so hopefully tonight we can take the Bug outside to see the full moon.

Other news:

Friday we carved pumpkins, two small ones, and lit them up as we ate dinner.  We turned off the lights in the kitchen to watch them glow.  “They are glowing” Bug said.  He was very interested in the candles.

Destruction

Our kitchen/office/bathroom renovations have begun.  Brawny Romanian workmen arrived at 8am on August 4th and began taping off the floors, sealing up the doorways, and then pounding the shit out of cabinets and walls.  They took out all the old kitchen cabinets, appliances, countertops, soffits, and wood-paneled walls.  Underneath the god-awful rental-white wood paneling was the original subway tile, put in when the building was constructed in 1928.  It was beautiful and also too damaged to salvage.  All that glue used to put up the tiles has forever damaged it.  Sad, but fun, to see.

It’s going to be fun living with a toddler & 2 dogs & no kitchen & bathroom for 2-4 weeks.  It’s not quite as bad as all that since we can sleep and bathe in the basement and were able to use the DDs kitchen while they were out of town.  That got us through one week of eating, at least!

Now, about to begin week 3 of the renovations, we have made do with meals.  We have grilled a TON.  I never want to eat another gluten sausage again.  Or another corn cob. Too bad we have about 8 more cobs of corn sitting in our fridge (thank you CSA).  We went for 2-for-1 pizza night at a local eatery, only our second meal out with the Bug in his toddlerhood.  And this week I arranged to use the DDs kitchen for a couple of meals — pesto pasta & kale chips and burritos — and made extras for their dinner in exchange.

In other eating news: more greenbeans coming in, which the Bug is still enjoying crunching on.  We ate the first of our garden tomatoes, which was good but not as earth-shattering as I had hoped.  More tomatoes are ripening.  We also discovered a crazy kind of heirloom bean called “dragon’s tongue” at the farmer’s market that Bug loves to eat raw.  And last week at the mid-week farmer’s market he insisted on buying raspberries and blueberries, fruit he normally scorns.  Though when we got home his love affair with blueberries was over; he kept eating the raspberries.  The past two weekends at the Saturday farmer’s market Bug has urged me to buy these little half-pints of wild strawberries.  They are the perfect bite-size berries for little mouths, and he usually devours half the box while we’re still at the market.  Today he tried raw cabbage as well, which seemed to be a hit.

I am really ready for these renovations to be over so we can end our camping in the basement experience.  But all told, we are lucky.

Green Beans

We planted some green beans this year in containers, two different varieties, the names I don’t remember.  One is a bush variety, the other the kind that has to grow up a trellis.  When BD and I returned from our Pacific Northwest Idyll I went out to check on things in our still-crappy backyard and garden only to discover that our bush green beans had sprouted with lovely, slender young beans.  The Bug happened to be with me as I was doing this, so we enjoyed snacking on the beans straight off the bush.  The small, crunchy beans were the perfect size for the boy, so we harvested most of them, had more raw ones with our dinner, and ate some more straight off the bush as a morning snack the next day before getting in the car and heading off to daycare & work. The tall trellis-growing beans aren’t ready yet.

All of this gave me the jones to put in a much bigger garden next spring.  I have visions of me and The Bug eating all kinds of fresh produce straight off our plants.  This year, besides the container green beans, we’ve been doing container tomatoes, which are coming along as well as basically neglected tomato plants can (I water them, but that’s it, no special food or supplements or bug protection), and the usual array of planter-box herbs: oregano, mint, cilantro, parsley, sage, rosemary, basil, dill.  But we have plans to build a large and long row of raised planting beds along the east side of our driveway, where there is about a 4 x 20 foot long stretch of essentially useless space.  We have built these kind of beds before when we were in graduate school.

One of the tricks is that most weather-resistant lumber is treated with arsenic, and that’s something you don’t want leaching into the soil you’re growing food in.  So we have to search for untreated lumber or line the beds with plastic before putting in the soil, which is what we did in our old beds.  The other trick is to plant things that we aren’t already swamped by in our CSA box.  So cucumbers and other summer squash aren’t a great idea.  Whereas green beans are, and tomatoes, or eggplants, or bell peppers.  We get all of those things in the box, but in small quantities.  Strawberries or other fruit would also be great.

Boy, I can’t wait for next summer!  Can we just skip winter?  And all the snow (and teaching) we’ll have to endure between now and then?

Food this Week

Okay, so even though I complained about my scandalous inability to document the Bug’s breathtaking march through life yesterday and swore to myself and the whole internets that I would turn over a new leaf, I did not.  But in my defense we had house guests last night (Aunt C and Uncle E).

But I’m not here to berate myself.  I’m here to write about our food this week.  I am inspired because: 1) I always like reading what other people are eating; 2) I made a delicious dinner tonight and I want to let the world know.  Tonight’s dinner was garlic scape pesto pizza.  Our CSA box blessed us with garlic scapes for the second week in a row so I had a bit of a backlog.  I had come across a few recipes for garlic scape pesto last week when trolling around online looking for ways to use their deliciousness, other than the white bean and scape dip I made last summer.  So today I decided to go for it.  And I also had a partially-used block of mozzarella in the fridge, one leftover gluten italian-flavored sausage, and a half of a yellow squash.  So I made some pizza dough, grated the yellow squash and cheese, cut up the sausage, and ground up the scapes with walnuts, parm, and olive oil.  And I made a pizza out of it all.  It was delicious.  We ate that with a salad of CSA lettuce, farmer’s market orange and purple carrots, CSA radishes and baby turnips, and good old-fashioned-trucked-across-the-country-from-California cherry tomatoes.  Even the Bug ate the pizza and some radishes (raddy) and carrots (cay-yuts) from the salad.  Oh, and he also had leftover grilled corn.

But the rest of the week we ate or are going to eat:

Saturday: we went OUT to eat for pretty much the first time in Bug’s toddlerhood

Sunday: we ate with the DDs, our downstairs neighbors, they cooked

Monday: grilled vegetarian sausages, corn, grillable cheese & salad

Tuesday: vegetable & black bean burritos

Wednesday: above-mentioned scape pesto pizza

Thursday: stir fry of various CSA goodies & tofu & brown rice, probably with a tahini sauce

Friday: basil pesto & whole wheat fusilli, canelinni beans & kale

Saturday: grill whatever seems good & salad

Sunday: glory bowl (see recipe here: http://annie.paxye.com/?p=1169)

Monday: herb frittata, salad, biscuits

Tuesday: veggie & black bean burritos again (we love these and have them once a week)

Wednesday: whatever we’ve still got, I’ll do something with it.  And Wednesdays are the day we get our weekly CSA box.

Back from D.C.

And we brought suffocating, muggy heat with us.  Bleech.  And we have no AC and live on the top floor.  We are being slowly baked alive.  But coming back from DC I passed a motherhood milestone, flying alone with my toddler.  Bug was tired and cranky after having been awoken an hour early two mornings out of the previous three and being deprived of a real nap on our way to DC.  So I couldn’t blame the guy when he lost it as we taxied on the tarmac.  I was just thankful that his meltdowns were at the end of the trip.  But for a time I was there on the plane being That Mother, the one with the screaming child.  In my zeal to exit the plane as quickly as possible I think I forgot to scoop up the bag of extra-neato new toys I had purchased for our plane ride.  Oh well, I guess he’ll have to live without the toddler pliers.

In other Bug news, he is doing and saying all kinds of amazing stuff.  New stuff he is saying: walnut (and eating); apricot (and eating); “B” (as in the letter, and identifying it); step; soccer ball; Josh (who we visited in DC); wall; hammer; cord; muffin (including repeating the phrase “buggy ate muffin”).  There’s more, but I am forgetting.  That’s because, in yet more Bug news, the boy has decided to start waking up again at ungodly hours, like 5:30 or 6.  So even though we don’t go get him out of his crib right away (and instead listen to him say “open door”), we are awake, lying in bed, cursing the unknown and uncontrollable force that periodically inhabits our son and causes him to refuse to sleep once the sun is up.

We will live through it, and in the meantime I am reviving my long-dormant habit of the afternoon cup of coffee.  Speaking of which, I feel my mental energy flagging right about now . . .