Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Monkey Man Strikes Again

(thanks Noz, for the picture)

The Monkey Man is all over the TV right now, tying up all the channels. When I want to hear a primate spout gibberish and drivel, I'll watch National Geographic. As it is, I've been watching Dirty Jobs, where there's a man chasing cows in order to catch their crap in a cup.

I'd rather watch the crap catcher than the leader of our nation. That's gotta be a message for somebody.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Sauerkraut, ja!

Now, I realize I live in the MidAtlantic region of the United States, not the Midwest, where the German immigrants settled. However, I made yummy Sauerkraut for dinner tonight. Like last night, I took pictures. Aren't you lucky?

The ingredients:

One bag of sauerkraut
brown sugar
one apple
three rashers of streaky bacon cut in half
hot dogs (I'm partial to Nathan's Hot Dogs)

The method:

Dump the Sauerkraut and brown sugar (about 1/2 c. firmly packed) in a heavy, cast iron pot. In my case, Le Creuset.

Peel apple and cut into eighths. Add to pot.

Cut rashers of bacon in half. Add to pot. Let simmer for 1/2 hour.

Add hot dogs and cook for 15 minutes. Done! Serve with Delema's Mashed Potatoes.

3-4 large potatoes
4 T. butter
1 c. sour cream
salt, and lots of it!

Peel and slice potatoes in thin slices.

Put sliced potatoes in a heavy cast-iron pot, once again, Le Creuset. Add water to cover. Boil 11 minutes, or until tender.

Drain, and add butter, salt, and sour cream.

Mash with old-fashioned potato masher. I prefer the masher to an electric mixer, because the mixer develops the starch in the potatoes too much and makes them gummy.

I'm blogging about dinner tonight because I have fuck-all else interesting to blog about. So, you get lots of pictures of food and a few instructions.

Dinner was good, don't get me wrong. I love hot dogs & sauerkraut. I also love the cinnamon buns I made for dessert.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Gray day spent in the kitchen

Today was a thoroughly gray day, full of chilly drizzle. It was the perfect day for Beef Stew. While I was making the stew, I decided to experiment with some yeast rolls. For your enjoyment, I took pictures of the process. I have no real recipe for Beef Stew, as it's my mother-in-law's creation. The only addition I made to it is thyme.

Here are the ingredients:

  • Several Yukon Gold potatoes (best thing to come out of Canada since Pissoff!)
  • the same number of carrots
  • half a large Vidalia or Walla Walla onion
  • 2.5 - 3 lbs. of beef chuck roast, cubed
  • 4 cups frozen peas
  • 64 oz. beef stock
  • olive oil for frying
  • salt, pepper, thyme to taste

Chop the onion and put it in the pot - Le Creuset, naturally - with the beef and the olive oil. Heat on high to brown, stirring vigorously.

Add seasonings and broth. Simmer on low heat for 2 hours, until meat is tender.

Peel potatoes and carrots. Cut into small chunks. Add to simmering meat. Cook for 30 minutes.

Add peas and cook for a further 15 minutes.

Thicken with flour and serve with yeast rolls.

Yeast rolls:


  • 3.5-4 c. bread flour
  • 1/4 c. shortening, softened
  • 1 package yeast
  • 1/2 c. very warm water
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. milk, scalded and cooled
  • 1 egg
  • 1 T. salt

Affix dough blade to food processor.

Proof yeast in the warm water with 1 T. of the sugar.

Process 2 c. of the flour with salt, sugar, and shortening until mixed.

Add yeast and pulse until combined. Add egg, process to combine. Add milk through the feed chute and process until mixture is thoroughly combined.

Add remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until a soft elastic dough forms. You may not need to add all the flour - too much will make the dough hard.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes.

Place in a greased bowl, then into a cool oven to rise for 1 hour. To boost the rising, fill a pan with very hot water and place it on the oven shelf below the dough.



Punch down the dough and cut it in half. Use half for cloverleaf rolls (divide that half into 36 tiny pieces, roll them into balls, and place 3 in each section of a cupcake tin). Use the other half for my Parmesan Garlic Twirls.

Mince 3 cloves of garlic and mix with a pinch of salt and 2 T butter. Grate about 2 c. parmigiano reggiano:

Roll out unused portion of dough into a rectangle and smear with garlic butter mixture and strew liberally with 2/3 of the grated cheese.

Roll up into a lovely long log and cut evenly into 8 pieces. Arrange tightly in round pan, leaving very little room between rolls. Top with the rest of the cheese.

Allow cloverleaf and cheese rolls to rise for 30 minutes, using the same rising method as before.

Remove from oven and preheat it to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush tops of rolls with melted butter.

Bake cloverleaf rolls for 12-14 minutes. Mmmm - yummy!

Bake parmesan garlic rolls for 20 minutes.

Serve with stew, and don't kiss anyone for a while!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Thanks, Dad!

My dad, of all people, just sent me this. I called him in tears from laughing so hard. I love my Dad.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

I have taken leave of my senses

You know when you get really pissed off and you say things you shouldn't? Like I did yesterday? Well, sometimes other people get really upset with you.

One of my coworkers is giving me the miffed treatment for the way I spoke to T. Bone yesterday. I totally understand it, because this woman is like a mother to me and I really shouldn't have "gone there" with T. Bone. I should have maintained my composure and dignity and remembered that I was the adult in the situation. Hopefully, T. Bone will be out of here in a couple of weeks and I will be off the hook.

On the bright side, now that I've made my one big mistake for the year, everything else should come up trumps, right?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Zookeeping at its finest

Since the semester change, I have received two new classes. One of them is an 8th grade course called "World Cultures" and is basically a dumbed-down version of my 7th grade French course. The students in the class are not the sharpest tacks in the box, but since there are only 9 of them, it really doesn't matter. Plus, there are only 3 boys, and that does matter, as teenage boys are the most disruptive force in the known universe. These three are the worst of the lot.

One of the boys, we'll call him T. Bone, is a trip. This is his second year in 8th grade, and he's barely hanging in there. He's been arrested 3 times so far this year, and began the year wearing an electronic monitor ankle bracelet. He has to call his Parole Officer 4 times a day now and is on house arrest when he's not at school. He's quite the prize.

T.Bone had accrued his "Three Strikes" in my class - our discipline system allows for three misbehaviors, short of assaulting a teacher, and then you get written up and removed from the classroom - but I wasn't sending him out. No way. I know that it's a much worse punishment for T.Bone to stay in my class than to cruise the halls on his way to the Principal's office. I told him I wanted him to stay in my classroom so I could continue looking at his pretty face, at which point, he flopped down in his desk and muttered "Motherfucking gosh!"

Motherfucking gosh? Motherfucking gosh? I noted it and told him to see me after class, which he did.

When the room cleared, I sat down in front of him and said "T. Bone, 'Motherfucking gosh?' C'mon man. If you're going to drop the 'motherfucking' you might as well go for the gusto and say something really good after it, like 'motherfucking son-of-a-bitch' or 'motherfucking cocksucker' or even 'motherfucking asshole' if you're not feeling particularly creative. But 'motherfucking gosh?' You can do better."

The gobsmacked look on T.Bone's face was priceless. I don't think he's ever heard a teacher say "cocksucker." He probably never will again.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Troll disclaimer

The WCM has decided to be a troll. As in, post comments to my blog that are inflammatory in nature and make him appear to be an utter asshole.

Not to worry, he is an utter asshole. Most of the time.

So, if I don't get to them and delete them before you see them, just disregard them. Don't give the troll any attention. That's for me and my tire iron.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

In which the TV makes me crazy

Ok, so I love TV. I don't watch a lot of any one channel, though. Here in the land of satellite, cable, and digital channels, I don't have to. I rarely watch network TV anymore, unless it's Survivor or American Idol. Ok, occasionally I watch House, but that's because I like Hugh Laurie. It's really strange to hear him speak with an American accent. Really strange.

But I digress. In my channel surfing, I've landed on the Style channel, TLC (The Learning Channel), Food TV (Allez, cuisine!), BBC America, LOGO (because I love the lesbians), and the SciFi channel. I've been a bit miffed with SciFi, though, ever since they cancelled Farscape. Bitches. And, really, there are some shows that just don't appeal on BBC America - Wire in the Blood, Benny Hill reruns (ugh!), Cash in the Attic, Mile High. I just haven't been getting my jones on these channels for a while, so I started watching movies.

Last week, I found myself absolutely glued to the screen during an animated movie. The Triplets of Belleville. This film is utterly bizarre. Completely weird. Cyclists abducted and given IVs of red wine? Triplets sucking frog popsicles? Household appliances as instruments? And yet, I couldn't tear myself away. I wish I had. It's haunting me.

Same goes for the lamentably bad Ella Enchanted. Oh my God, what Hollywood deity did Cary Elwes offend that he can't get a better gig than the evil prince in a pre-teen flick?

Cold Mountain, however, got my attention in a way any other movie not featuring Jude Law getting spectacularly lucky with Nicole Kidman is unlikely to. Holy fucking shit, was that love scene hot. Like, burning holes through my pants hot. My God, do I love to look at Jude Law.

Right now, I'm watching Mystery, Alaska, an ice-hockey themed movie. Funny in spots.

I really need to start reading or something again. Tatting, perhaps. Anything but watching movies.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Gorgonzola, Wensleydale, Brie, Cheddar, Velveeta

This morning, after the WCM left for work, Miss Peanut shuffled into my room and climbed up into bed with me. I stretched out an arm to her and she settled her head onto it, cuddling her body into my side. We slept, connected, breathing in tandem while the day brightened into morning.

When I awoke fully, I stared down at her sleeping face and smiled. Delicate half-moon sweeps of dark lashes brushed her rounded cheeks, still flushed with sleep. Her sturdy little legs were bent, her knees digging in my hip. One of her arms, still clutching a pink stuffed bunny, was curled under my armpit, pushing against my side. As her warm body sheltered by mine in my big bed, I remembered all the time I spent in this bed with her: the weeks late in pregnancy when I was confined to it, feeling her fluid bulk roll through me, anticipating her arrival; the hazy first weeks of early motherhood where, exhausted by round-the-clock feedings, I lay on my side in the bed, nursing this tiny new life, feeling her tiny starfish hand move softly up and down my arm as she fed; times when infant nightmares prompted a removal from the crib to the comfort and security of Mommy and Daddy's bed, trusting us to keep the monsters at bay.

Certainly, every parent experiences a certain amount of bafflement when they realize the amount of pure trust their children place in them. I know I'm constantly humbled when Miss Peanut comes to me in tears over her latest boo-boo, completely confident that I can heal it with a magic Mommy kiss. Or when she has a cold and climbs up in my lap for me to pat her back and rub her temples and make her feel better. I love being able to answer her constant questions, like "Mommy, can an ostrich run faster than a cheetah?" Realizing that she takes my answers as gospel, I feel a huge responsibility to answer with care.

I realize now why mothers, for centuries, have smiled quietly when they see their children sleeping. It's not only relief that the child in question is not awake, alert, and crackling with vibrant life. It's that watching them sleep brings back the tenderest moments of their infancy, where they never questioned you, or talked back, or uttered the heartbreaking phrase "I'll do it myself."

I hated to wake Miss Peanut this morning, as all these thoughts ran through my head. I hated to see her sit up and move away from me, becoming more herself and less and less a part of me. At the same time, I love observing the independent little person that she has become - watching her make sense of the world around her. And I love that after she rubs her eyes, she grins at me, and flops back down on my arm, asking "What are we going to do today?"

This bond we share - I hope I never take it for granted.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A Random Act of Kindness

I don't often speak well of my colleagues, because, well, I don't respect many of them. I think many of them have crappy attitudes and are so past burnt out that they are crispy around the edges.

However, that being said, I have to hand it to one of them, who wishes to remain anonymous.

Many things were lost this year when we moved from our school to our temporary site - our school building is being renovated this year - including our basketball teams' uniforms. It was going to cost $600 to replace them.

Now, in previous years, this would not have been a big deal. I spent almost that in last year's Awards Ceremony alone. This year, however, our enrollement is down so far that our budget is, frankly, miniscule. Administrators were scrambling to find some money, so they told us at a department meeting.

One of the teachers heard and wrote a check for $600 for the uniforms. A personal check. A gift.

This person is not rich. This person has children at home, and a spouse without a high-paying job. However, this person gave far beyond what anyone else would dream of doing. This teacher's generosity staggers me. I felt compelled to share this moment, just to give the same feeling to others that I have right now: hope.

As cheesy as it sounds, something this genuinely nice serves, to me, as an affirmation that mankind is not universally selfish. There are people that care more about the larger picture than about themselves. My hat is off to this colleague for the rest of my life.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Sticky Fingers, indeed

Check me out! I'm Spider Man!

Your results:
You are Spider-Man


Iron Man



The Flash



Green Lantern


Wonder Woman

You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility.
Which Superhero are You?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall

Since I've inflated a bit (more) over the holidays, I've been contemplating the diet that I'm supposed to be on. I've been on one diet or another for 17 years, with only two being what I'd term "acceptable" in the way of results.

The first was when I was first engaged and was horrified when the bridal salon owner wanted to order my dress in a size 20. I was wearing a size 14 jeans, so I knew I was chubby, but a size 20? Fuck you, lady! So, I decided right then and there to embark on my first diet. I literally starved myself all day and ate a small dinner. For 24 hours, no sustenance beyond Diet Sprite and sugarless chewing gum would pass my lips. I lost 30 pounds and fit into a size 8. I looked beautiful in my wedding dress - like a brunette Barbie doll.

I eventually gained that back and more, until 8 years later, I was wearing that size 20 that I had originally been so horrified by. I went to one of the chain weight-loss centers (not Weight Watchers, by the way) to get help. After paying an extortionate fee, I embarked on their Draconian plan. I was soooooo disciplined, too. In 9 months, I lost 95 pounds. I was a size 8 again. I turned heads, literally.

What marks this period of time for me, though, is fear and anger. I felt naked and exposed without my flab. People were so nosy and intrusive, too. It felt like everyone had something to say about my weight loss - how much better I looked, how I must've taken pills to lose the weight, how my husband must want me so much more. Can you see how my equilibrium would be off-kilter? I know people were trying to be complimentary, but damn! Telling me, or at least tacitly implying, that I used to look like an undesirable, hopelessly sexless lump of lard is not a compliment.

I vividly remember the one incident that put me over the edge and made me stop following the Draconian Diet Plan I had been on. I was temping at a large company over the summer to earn the money for a new wardrobe. Dressing is so much more difficult when you've got choices, and those choices can be expensive. Anyway, that morning, I had put on one of my favorite new dresses - hot pink linen with small gold-tone buttons down the front from Talbots. The V-neckline was scalloped, as was the hem. It had princess seams, so it showed off my hourglass figure. I really had one, back in the day. Hair & makeup done, high heels on, I went off to work.

My boss-of-the-moment had me delivering folders all over the building. I walked past a group of men in the hall and heard one say "Oooooh! Look at her!" I looked around, and no one was there but me. Hmmm. Turning down another hall, I passed another man, who swiveled his head around to follow my path. Heading back to my cubicle, I walked down the main hall of the building and saw a man turn his head as I passed and drop his glance to my behind. I put some pep in my step and got to the ladies room as fast as I could.

Once there, I checked out my backside in the full-length mirror. Nothing there but my backside, and it looked fierce!

I grabbed the counter and held on as the room grew dim and I broke out in a cold sweat. I was so upset by the reactions I was getting. What made me angry, at that point, is that I didn't know why I was so angry.

For the rest of that week, no matter what I wore, I continued to turn heads.

I started to eat again. I got pregnant. I ate some more. I gave birth. I ate and ate and ate until I was past my highest pregnancy weight. I'm still there, huge and uncomfortable, but oddly protected. I can flirt with impunity, because hey, who would want a piece of this? I want to lose weight, because I'm damn unhealthy. I just don't know if I'll be able to handle the reactions any better this time than I did before.

Wish me luck.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Toast, mmmmmm

Tina over at Cakesniffers Beware is having a bit of a snit over a toaster. Yes, a toaster.

As a married woman, I've never owned a toaster. Instead, I have a toaster oven. It's a small oven mounted above my counter that allows me to make delicious toast and bake small things in it. It's good for French Bread Pizza and small casseroles. Really small casseroles.

Here it is, my Black and Decker Toaster Oven:

And here's a picture of the lovely snack I had after the toaster oven did its magic:

Mmmmmm. Cracking toast. Milky tea.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Y'all Are Going to Learn Some French Up In Here Today!

I had a teensy contretemps with my second period class today. Two students chose to lie to me about why they were late. Another four students waltzed into class five minutes after the bell rang. So, I confronted them all about it, and was met with belligerence.

I put in a call to Miss Rosie, our school's interventionist. As soon as the students heard that Miss Rosie was coming up to my room, they sobered up, double-quick.

Miss Rosie is a 60ish black woman, who serves up old-fashioned ass-whoopin's without raising her voice or disturbing her coiffure. She inspires immediate awe and obedience.

She entered my room and sized up the situation with a glance. The two young men who lied began to stutter "But Miss Rosie..." She pinned those two with a look and said "I don't want to hear from anyone in this room but the teacher. Mrs. Peevish, who were the young men that lied to you?" I pointed them out. "And who were the other students that were late?" I pointed them out. She dealt the detentions out like we were playing Texas Hold'Em and then delivered her coup de grace:

"I don't want to have to come up here again today. I'm old and my knees hurt. Y'all are going to learn some French up in here today!"

Impressed, I gave her two snaps to the left and an around-the-world snap.

You go, Miss Rosie.

'Cause I'm a sexy bitch, baby!

Babe Readily Offering Naughty Worship and Erotic Necking

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Love You Forever, my ass!

Listen, those of you who are parents, if you've ever been tempted to buy the book Love You Forever for your children, you'd better get that fucking idea out of your head right now.

You can read the Amazon reviews - the assholes who loved this book, and they are legion, are all full of "poignant," and "touching," and "wistful," but I think they're full of shit. Anyone who's read this damn book and can get through the fucking thing without breaking down in floods of tears is a hero, in my opinion. Bastard reviewers with their misleading 5 stars.

I'm telling you this because I read the thing to Miss Peanut tonight - she picked it out on a recent bookstore shopping spree - and both of us turned into bawling fools. By the middle of the book, Miss Peanut was tearfully wailing "I'll miss you when I'm old." I wasn't any better, since I could empathize with the mother in the story and her deep and abiding love for her child, and had to choke back sobs whenever I read the song the mother always sang to her child - which was on every other fucking page! I tried to put the book down, telling Miss Peanut that it was too sad and we shouldn't finish it, but she wanted to hear it all, even as fat teardrops ran down her chubby baby cheeks. I had to quaver my way through to the end.

This is the saddest, most depressing goddamn book I've ever read. It's a children's story, for fuck's sake. It should't make you weep.

I'm hiding the fucker tomorrow so I never have to read it again.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Just another damn day in Paradise

Right now, I'm watching Miss Peanut, who is perched on the arm of her daddy's armchair industriously twining tufts of his hair with the rainbow elastics she got from Santa. He won't let me take a picture. I don't know why not - I know I'm next.

Slider is busy cleaning Zippy's ears. This is his obsession - all dogs must have clean ears. I can hear the gentle rythmic slurping of Slider's long tongue in Zippy's auditory canal, and I am very grossed out. Ick.

The laundry is tumbling about in the dryer, and I can see the fragrant steam rising in front of my dining room window. Unfortunately, I have to schlep all of the clothes up two flights of stairs, fold it, and stow it. Kind of takes the enjoyment out of breathing deep the aroma of Spring Fresh Downy.

Children's TV is playing. It is irritating, but I am powerless to change it, lest it distract Miss Peanut from her artistic stylings. I really don't want to let her loose in my lustrous locks yet. (Damn, alliteration is fun!)

This is like a lost day - I know I have to go back to work tomorrow, but it's a weekday, which is throwing me totally off. The WCM is at home, so I can't be totally sluglike, as I would if he were out. I could lounge and read at the Olympic level. Nor do I want to be at all energetic, as I know the energy expenditure required just to get myself to work tomorrow is going to be colossal.

Oh, shit! Miss Peanut has turned a gimlet eye on me. I think it's my turn in the chair now. S'later.