Tuesday, February 28, 2006

lazy blogging

Your Personality Profile

You are elegant, withdrawn, and brilliant.
Your mind is a weapon, able to solve any puzzle.
You are also great at poking holes in arguments and common beliefs.

For you, comfort and calm are very important.
You tend to thrive on your own and shrug off most affection.
You prefer to protect your emotions and stay strong.

Monday, February 27, 2006

I'm just happy I made the team

Well, I didn't finish my knitting olympics project. Like Bode Miller, I've got a DNF after my name. I tried, but I ran out of yarn and my LYS says it'll be in the middle of this week. So I made a start, and it's a gorgeous scarf (or will be when it's done). Now I'm just hoping I finish it before the cold weather disappears.

On the other hand, I did finish another object, a purse that I made out of some of the recycled sari yarn my mom gave me for Christmas. I even finished it during the closing ceremonies, so it sort of counts, right?

And I taught both kids to knit. This is really to me the most amazing part. Nick has not only (sort of) learned to knit (his work is still a little hole-y), he has also started a yarn stash. The other day when I went by the Yarn Lounge for more yarn, and inspiration, he ended up buying a skein of this (brushed, not kid), for when he gets better at knitting. He wants to make himself a pillow out of it.

It's good to have goals.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Friday Food #7: Proper English Scones

Like Caroline, I could just eat breakfast all the time. I do a lot of breakfast baking on the weekends, but I'm also often up for an eggs-and-potatoes meal (mm, maybe tonight!), or pancakes, or oatmeal, which is what I eat every morning.

I got this recipe from The Rose Tea shop in Oxford, which Becca recommended to me. I ate them for tea, not breakfast, and they were amazing. Mine aren't the same, because I'm not buying organic flour and I'm not serving them with fabulous tea and I'm measuring by volume instead of weight--but they are still pretty good. And they don't take very long. No special equipment, either, though I use a food processor because I'm lazy.

Proper English Scones


3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 tbl baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/8 cup granulated sugar (same as 3 tbl, if you don't have a 1/8 cup measure)

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter

3/4 cup milk

1 egg for the egg wash

Preheat the oven to 350; spray a cookie sheet or put baking parchment or silpat on it.

Put the dry ingredients into your food processor or into a big bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes, then mix it into the dry ingredients with a pastry fork, two knives, or even your fingers (the Rose prefers this method), or pulse the processor until the butter is in pea-sized bits. Add in the milk, either (again) pulsing quickly in the processor until the dough begins to come together, or stirring it in by hand.

Scatter some flour on your (clean) counter or a board and dump the crumbly, not-really-doughy dough out onto it. Pat or roll the dough into some semblance of a circle about an inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter (or my trusty green chili can) cut into circles. Bring the scraps together and pat them out again to cut a few more circles; you should end up with about twelve.

Place the scones on the prepared pan. Beat the egg gently and brush some egg on the top of each scone. Or, don't. They will still taste fine but they will not be as glossy when they come out. Bake for about 20 minutes, until palely golden.

You could use cream instead of milk, but I've made these successfully with 1% milk, even, so don't sweat it.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

February birthdays

I've always known a lot of people with February birthdays, including two who shared mine (one no longer living), and two the day after. My dear friend Wendy follows me by about a week. Susan says she wants virtual nothing today, so I'm trying to oblige.

empty space, for you, Wendy! Happy happy.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

oh dear

(Edited to add: This is in honor of Edward Gorey's birthday, which Sam reminds me is today...)

I found this quiz on a knitting blog I hadn't read before, and I had to take it. In 10th grade my friend Caroline & I were obsessed with Edward Gorey. I think she may have had a poster of the Gashlycrumb Tinies up on her wall. Many many years later I directed a summer research project on Gorey with a fabulous student; I keep waiting for her to publish something from it, but she's holding back. In any event, I'm not sure I agree with this result--but then again, knowing how most of these little stories go, this may be one of the better results.

Don't Trip
You will be smothered under a rug. You're a little

anti-social, and may want to start gaining

new social skills by making prank phone


What horrible Edward Gorey Death will you die?
brought to you by Quizilla

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Happy Birthday, Erma!

Here's a role model for our times:

It's the birthday of columnist and humorist Erma Bombeck, (books by this author) born in Dayton, Ohio (1927). She got a job at the Dayton Journal-Herald writing obituaries and features for the women's page, but when she married a sportswriter there she chose to quit her job and stay home with the kids. She spent a decade as a fulltime mother, and then in 1964 she decided she had to start writing again or she would go crazy. She said, "I was thirty-seven, too old for a paper route, too young for Social Security, and too tired for an affair."

Within a few years, she was one of the most popular humor columnists in America. She went on to publish many books, including Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession (1983) and Family: The Ties That Bind ... and Gag! (1987).

She wrote, "My theory on housework is, if the item doesn't multiply, smell, catch fire, or block the refrigerator door, let it be. No one else cares. Why should you?"

(From the Writer's Almanac, which tells me it's also Chuck Palahniuk's birthday, but I have nothing to say about that.)

Monday, February 20, 2006

Lilian's technology meme

1. Do you remember when you saw your first computer? When did you actually use one? What about having your own? Do you own a laptop? (PC or Mac?) Have you gone wireless at home yet?
My dad bought a computer some time in the 80s, I think. It was an Osborne portable--looked like a sewing machine, and was just about as heavy. I bought my first computer when I was in grad school, after we got married, so that would be sometime after 1987. I had an electronic typewriter before that. I did use the mainframe in college to word-process and laser-print my thesis, so at one time I was reasonably proficient with dot commands! (points for anyone else who remembers them...)

I now have a mac laptop that belongs to the U and a mac desktop that's ours. And yes, we went wireless a few years ago and could never go back.

2. When did you first go online and/or use email? Who did you email back then? How did the internet change your life? When did you discover blogging? What about your home internet connection - is it dial-up, DLS, cable?
I got my first email account when I got this job in the fall of 1994. I joined a listserv and emailed friends who were still in grad school. At first I had to go to the computer center, then I got a laptop and had to unplug my phone to get online in my office. The internet changed my life in two ways: one, the listserv connected me to others in my field right away, when I was feeling a little isolated in my first job. I was asked to review books and articles based solely on my listserv postings. It was pretty empowering. Second, I was able to keep in touch with people without the phone. Since I'm not much of a phone person (see below) this was terrific--I love to write, but people don't answer letters. They do, however (sometimes) answer emails.

Like Kate, I think I discovered blogging through my small online writing group. And then Literary Mama came along and encouraged me to blog as well. And here I am, almost three years later, still chugging along despite what The Financial Times thinks.

3. Do you remember your first VCR? What about a video camera (there were some bulky ones back in the 80s and 90s) and home videos?
Hmm, no, I don't. I don't think we had a VCR until after moving to Richmond, though, in the mid90s. Mark's mom had a video camera in the late 80s and we have some video of Mariah as a baby thanks to her. We also used to check out a huge bulky camera from the media resource center occasionally to take video of the kids. We never do it anymore. My parents donated their outmoded video camera to us sometime in the mid to late 90s (maybe around when Nick was born?) and we used it some, but then let the batteries run down and never charged it again. It's still gathering dust in the living room. We are terrible parents, clearly.

4. When did you switch from VCR to DVD? How did it change your video viewing experience? Do you use TiVo or any such "contraption" to tape TV shows? Do you use Netflix or some other internet-based DVD "renting" service?
We were late adopters for DVD; I think we bought our first one only about three years ago, and we still have a VCR hooked up to our TV as well. I'd love to have TiVo, but we don't have cable, so it seems pointless. We do have netflix, though, which is great--though I still maintain a blockbuster membership for last-minute rentals.

5. What about music? Did you enjoy listening favorite music in Long Plays or did you prefer cassete tapes? When did you buy your fist CD player and switched to CDs? Did you abandon them (and turned to dowloaded music) for MP3 players or Ipods or do you still buy CDs?

I remember eight tracks! Though I never had one myself, as I didn't have a car until after they'd already gone out of style. I still have LPs as well, though I'm sad about how many I gave away years ago. We bought a CD player in about 1990 or 1991, I'm guessing--all I remember is that it broke and we returned it, with our lone CD still stuck in it. (Bonnie Raitt...) Mariah has an iPod shuffle and we burn CDs from iTunes now more often than buying physical CDs.

6. Do you own and use a cell phone? Do you think it's useful or just annoying?
(Did you always have a telephone in your house growing up? Did you have a phone in your own room?)

Ha! We bought a cellphone last fall (2004) when Mariah started high school. Mark doesn't carry one. It's useful, occasionally, and everyone else's are annoying! Mariah's pretty much the only person who calls me on it (oh, and other carpool parents, occasionally), and I mostly only call home on it. Not much of a phone person, again.

We had a telephone in our house, though I went to boarding school and had only one phone per dorm. Phones in dorm rooms in college were a great innovation, even though they were pre-answering machine/voicemail... I never had a phone in my room that I remember, though Mariah does now (on our line, though, not her own line).

7. When did you first buy a digital camera? What kind was it (3.2, 4.0, 5.0 mega-pixels or better)? Did you start taking more pictures or were you a photo afficionado before then? What about a digital video camera?

I think our digital camera is pretty low-end. We bought our first one when Mariah was in 7th or 8th grade, so two or three years ago, and yes, we did start taking more pictures then. Previously we'd gotten all our photos on disk or online, though, so we'd been sharing them online for a while before we got the camera. No digital video camera, though. (See above on bad parents.)

8. What about televisions? Have you already embraced the new technologies, such as HDTV, plasma, and flat screen? (On the other hand, you wouldn't remember black & white TVs, would you?)
Of course I remember black and white TV! And Soupy Sales! When we lived in Tokyo in the 60s we had a b&w and we had a live-in maid who had a color TV--my younger siblings used to go hang out with her and watch it.

We now have a plasma TV, to our great astonishment. The idea is that it's less obtrusive. And the picture is pretty good, too. We've had it about a year, I think.

OK, if you're on Lilian's blogroll and you still haven't done this, take a stab at it. Easy blogging...

Friday, February 17, 2006

Friday Food #6: Crazy Cake

In honor of yesterday's cakes, I decided not to post a dinner recipe today but a cake. This one came, originally, from Peg Bracken's I Hate to Cook Book, though there's also a version of it in Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home. Peg (we've always been close) calls it Cockeyed Cake, and the Moosewood Collective calls it six-minute cake, but we always called it crazy cake when Mom made it for us, so that's what I call it, too.

This is not a cake that turns out of the pan. Rather, serve it from the pan and then enjoy the fudgy scrapings. I remember fighting over them with my brothers.

I've made a few changes to the Bracken version, mostly to try to make it chocolatier. I have to confess, it's not the most chocolate-y chocolate cake every made. But it's quick, and I always have the ingredients. Just don't use the good vinegar.

Preheat oven to 350, and spray or butter a 9x13 pan. (Yes, I doubled the original version. It doesn't take any longer to make it, and there will be cake the next day.)

Now, sift these dry ingredients into your cake pan. That's right, directly into the cake pan. Crazy, right?

3 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt (I don't think I have ever put this in, but Peg does)
1 tbl. espresso power (optional, but good)

Once the dry ingredients are all in the pan, make three holes in them. Get out the following wet ingredients:

1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tbl. vinegar (cider or plain white)
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups cold water

Pour the oil into one hole, the vinegar into another, and the vanilla into the third. Then pour the water over the whole thing, and stir with a fork until everything is one somewhat pale brown color (don't worry, it gets darker as it bakes). Peg says you'll feel like you're making mud pies. Make sure you go around the corners a couple of times and get all the baking soda mixed in nicely.

Stir in 3/4 cup chocolate chips. (Or don't, but it will be much better if you do.)

Bake for half an hour, until dark and fudgy looking. The top will spring back when the cake is done; it might take a few extra minutes.

Best with vanilla ice cream, but just fine as is.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


I don't feel like this today.

They started arriving yesterday. This one, and then more in my email. Photographs and clip art and e-cards and pictures.

Then this one, and this one (from the instigator).

I can't possibly show you all of them. Every time I come back to the computer there are more. But here's a representative sampling.

There's also a recipe or two in my mailbox, and promises of RL cake later. Thank you, thank you!

I'm actually spending much of the day home with a sick kid (Nick woke up at 4:30 going "ow, ow" about his throat), but dropping by for more cake every now and then will lighten that up.

I should have whined about my birthday years ago!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Hallmark, Valentine's, and things like that

Like Mamacita, we used to say Valentine's Day wasn't important, that we didn't really need to celebrate it. And we thought it was true. My birthday falls soon after (yes, tomorrow), so it really seemed unfair to be demanding gifts for Valentine's.

And yet. It is nice to have a small something, just because. And, there's the whole elementary-school-Valentine-thing. If the kids are making a big deal of it, maybe that's enough, but maybe we want to put our own stamp on it, too.

So yesterday we had a Valentine's Day celebration the likes of which I don't think we've ever done before. I came home early-ish from work and found Mark wrapping a gift --he had something for everyone all ready. We'd actually bought Mariah's gift together, but he'd taken on Nick's gift on his own. And mine. I had little godiva chocolate boxes for everyone, and a promise of a gift for him. And then when it turned out the late-afternoon run to Mariah's school was going to be a little earlier than we'd thought, Mark took that on while I picked up Nick from his after-school class and then hit the grocery store for a few things. So we sat down together to shrimp with pasta, artichokes, brownies, and ice cream. The pasta was overdone and the brownies underdone, but the kids insisted that they liked them that way.

That is, not only did no one complain about the meal, they liked the substandard fare I put in front of them.

Well, ok, so it wasn't so terribly substandard, but I've got to say, I prefer my angel hair pasta al dente, and it really really wasn't. The underdone brownies, though, were fine with ice cream.

So, to sum up: apparently I can cook a meal for the whole family that no one will object to if (1) I mess up a few dishes, and say so and/or (2) there are presents and/or chocolate on the table.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine's Miscellany

We did not make valentines this year. Nick got a spin-art set for Christmas, and we talked about making spin-art valentines, but in the end we took the easy way out. So his classmates will be receiving Incredibles valentines today. Dibs on Elastigirl for me.

A good friend passed me a valentine note on my way out from the drop-off this morning. Made my day, really. The unexpected card is so much sweeter than the obligatory one. But see above. They really are obligatory in elementary school.

I have had a crush on Stephen Stills's voice (but really, only his voice) for thirty years. I heard "Teach Your Children" on the oldies station on the way in and sung along the whole way, even though it's nowhere near my favorite CSNY song. I'm aware that this confirms my status as a big dork. I can live with that.

I had to renew my driver's license today and I steeled myself for the long wait. I had a book, a pen, and my reading glasses, and I was ready to finish the book and start taking notes for class tomorrow. Instead, I was in and out in fifteen minutes, including waiting for my picture. Which does, remarkably, look like me.

I'm feeling the love.

Monday, February 13, 2006

not a recipe

One of my favorite indulgences a few years back, when I was driving Mariah to piano lessons about twenty minutes from campus, was to stop at Starbucks on the way for a snack. I know, I know, corporate blah-blah, but they have these incredibly yummy maple-oat-nut scones. They are huge and rich and probably not at all proper-English-scones*, but I loved them. So much that I gained a few pounds that year. I blame the scones.

Mariah isn't taking piano lessons any more and so I don't drive by that Starbucks too often. Or at all, in fact. There are others, of course (there is always another Starbucks just around the corner, isn't there?) but I have stopped stopping in for the scone.

I do buy coffee from the little coffee shop on campus that sells Starbucks coffee but is not a Starbucks franchise, but that's another story. They have only little bitty scones--blueberry and cinnamon--and they are just not the same.

So on Saturday I pulled out Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, and found a recipe for oat scones. I didn't add nuts, or maple syrup for that matter, but they were nonetheless remarkably like the Starbucks ones. Not so pillowy or big, because I cut them out using my little round biscuit cutter (in a former life it was a can of green chiles, and it is just the right size), but just as tasty.

I liked them so much I almost made them again Sunday morning, but reason prevailed. Later in the day I made Nigella's granola instead. I'm sensing a little bit of a trend. Mmmm, breakfast.

*I have a recipe for proper-English-scones, too, that I got here, thanks to Becca's recommendation last year.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

snow and the olympics

We had snow last night, but we're not going to have a snow day tomorrow. That was painfully clear to Nick from the moment he woke up and looked out the window. "Oh, no!" was the first thing out of his mouth, despite the prospect of pretty white snow to play in today. The roads were clear, and that means school.

I feel his pain. We're at that stage in February when I just think we need a day or two off. He'll get his, next week (and he had one Friday, actually, which was a teacher conference day) but we go straight through until early March. February's a short month but a long psychic slog, if you ask me: it's time for the grey skies to clear and the weather to warm up, but they won't. And if they won't do that, they could at least snow hard, and make winter worth having.

We're having a lot more TV than usual in our house since the Olympics started. We liked the flaming skaters in the opening ceremonies, and the throw-triple-axel. And I have started my piece for the knitting olympics at least six times. So yes, it is a challenge, and no, I'm not giving up yet.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Yarn Harlot: Needles Raised

The Knitting Olympics start today. I'll be there, trying my first lace pattern (a scarf, I'm not crazy); and, if time permits, wrist warmers, too. (Baby steps: I've never done a thumb before.) If I can do this, mittens may be next! Yarn Harlot: Needles Raised

Friday Food #5: Chilaquiles

I think I'm actually making the chicken/edamame dish tonight, but here's one I invented recently that worked out well. In some ways you might as well be eating seven-layer dip with chips, but the fact that you serve it out of a casserole makes it feel healthier.



1 bag good tortilla chips
1-2 cups salsa (or see below)
2 cans organic refried beans
1 lb. Mexican cheese (queso fresco or queso blanco, I think. Jack cheese would also be fine). Slice or shred the cheese. This was a lot of cheese to use, and I think it would have been fine with less, but the block I had was one pound so I just sliced it all up.

Layer the ingredients two or three times in a casserole dish, starting with a little salsa under some chips and ending with cheese. Bake, covered, for about 30 minutes at 350, then uncovered for another 10-15 (long enough to brown the cheese on top). You can raise the temp a bit at the end to brown faster. You can serve this with sour cream, guacamole, and/or additional salsa on top if you like.


I made this because I didn't have any salsa in the house, and it was pretty good!

1 onion
1 red bell pepper
1-2 tsp garlic
small amount cooking oil
1 can (14.5 oz.) no-salt tomatoes
1 small can ortega chilis, chopped

Chop the onion and bell pepper and saute in the cooking oil with the garlic until fragrant and tender, but not brown. Chop the tomatoes (a food processor or blender is great, because you want them pretty smooth) and add them and the chilis. Cook 10-15 minutes, until the flavors meld.

A dash of cumin or cayenne wouldn't hurt in the salsa, either, but of course you may already have a salsa you like This one is quite sweet because of the bell pepper--my kids don't much like spicy food so that was ok with me. Nonetheless, I have to confess that Nick didn't like this much at all, but his friend who was over for dinner that night asked for seconds and then pestered his mother to get the recipe. So I felt vindicated.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

stuff I don't really want to talk about

OK, Becca's post on Caitlin Flanagan and the Rainbow Party review was so great that I have to say something, even though I really don't want to. I don't want to because I think the book is sensationalist and pornographic and, umm, ridiculous, and I don't really want it to get any publicity. I'm on a fabulous listserv for discussing children's lit and we "talked" about it there for a while--or other people did, as I hadn't read it, and won't--and I thought that was it.

But the more I thought about Caitlin Flanagan and her insistence that yes, these parties really are happening, or something like them is, or something else bad really is, I just flashed back on the mid-80s and the pre-school abuse stories. Does it strike anyone else that this panic is a lot like that one? That this is middle class parents worried about their own parenting, or lack thereof, and especially worried about how to think about children and sexuality, and projecting all those fears and anxieties onto someone else? Of course it's harder with teenagers, because--well, because they're teenagers, so probably sexuality is entering the picture in a lot more overt way than it was when they were toddlers, but in many ways the rest of it seems much the same.

Which is why I'm waiting for Jim Kincaid to chime in on this one, because this is the kind of thing he's really smart about.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

I'm not sure how I feel about this

Lately I don't feel as if I have enough time to write. There's just too much else going on right now, though I know that writing, like exercise, will make me feel better. (See here for a much more thoughtful post on this.)

Another thing I don't have much time for is reading poetry, but I subscribed to the e-mail version of Garrison Keillor's "Writer's Almanac" a while ago, and it pops up in my inbox (or, lately, my junk mail filter, but that's another whole issue) and poetry presents itself to me every now and then.

Today, according to Keillor, is Elizabeth Bishop's birthday. I studied Bishop in a grad school survey class; I'm hardly an expert, but I've always liked her work. One year I taught some of her poems in a first year course.

One of my favorite of her poems is "One Art," which begins: "The art of losing isn't hard to master." It's a poignant, beautifully wrought little poem; a modified villanelle that retrieves its rhyme words, obsessively, as it comments on losing larger and greater things.

So here's what I learned from Keillor this morning: "She worked on her poem "One Art" for more than fifteen years, keeping it tacked up on her wall so that she could rearrange the lines again and again until she got it right."

She did get it right. Fifteen years, though! I'm definitely still in the minor leagues.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Thanks for reading, I guess

I check my stats occasionally to see what topics seem to be bringing more readers, but I can rarely figure it out. Other than tragedy (the Harvey murders) and feminism (I made it into one of the carnivals of the feminists) I can't see a pattern.

But clearly some folks are looking for homework help. Recently these searches came up:
  • nick hornsby about a boy analysis

  • Tangerine test questions by Edward Bloor

  • teacher resource - 'Private Peaceful' M. Morpurgo

  • Niobe myth

  • edamame scarf

  • OK, so the last one probably wasn't homework help. I am curious about it, though!

    Monday, February 06, 2006

    Motherhood and Solitude

    Susan has lots to say about them here: ReadingWritingLiving: More on Motherhood, Solitude and Writing

    I struggle with this myself. My kids whine and lament when I leave (for business! I have to go!) but I know they'll be fine. Mark, after all, handles the home duties most of the time anyway. But more than two or three days and we all get a little antsy, a little off-kilter. Maybe we just need practice. Because we all (houseful of introverts) need that solitude, too.

    edited to add: I wrote a column about this once. For me I think the issue is not quite so much solitude as it is the lightening of responsibility. They're related, but not entirely the same. I can only use solitude itself in pretty small doses--a few hours here and there, and then I start to get antsy and lonely and play too much online sudoku. But knowing I don't have something to do for someone else the next minute, the next hour, the next day, is a rare sort of freedom that I truly treasure. It was in short supply this weekend--I had blocked off Saturday to get things done for me and instead ended up driving someone or another somewhere much of the day, or doing laundry, or moving furniture. All necessary stuff, but not for me, and not what I wanted. It's times like that, when I am overwhelmed with the neediness of the world around me (even my small world), that I wonder if I should take up running. Bad knees, lousy breath control, bunions, and all. There must be a middle ground, though, right?

    Friday, February 03, 2006

    Friday Food #4: Superbowl Chili

    There's no real reason to call this Superbowl Chili except I've made it for a superbowl party once or twice and will again on Sunday. The original had chicken, and I'll include that version below, but I usually make it this way now, veggie-friendly. I actually came in second in a chili cook-off with this once, and won a waiver of the parent association dues at Mariah's school that year. Score!

    Chili Blanco

    1 pound white beans (navy beans or great northerns are fine), rinsed
    6-7 cups veggie stock
    2 onions, chopped
    1 tbl oil
    6-8 cloves garlic, minced
    7 oz can diced green chilis (you can add two if you like, and some jalapenos might be good if you like things spicier than I do)
    2-3 tsp ground cumin
    2 tsp dried oregano
    1 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less, according to taste)
    1 cu sour cream
    3 cu shredded Monterey Jack cheese (I have used 2 cu pepper jack and 1 regular, or all regular, depending on what was available)

    Cook beans and stock for about 2 hours, or until the beans are tender. (Don’t presoak the beans.) When the beans are almost done, saute garlic and onions in oil until golden. Add onion, garlic, chilis, cumin, oregano, and cayenne to beans. Simmer 30 minutes longer. Add sour cream and cheese. Heat slowly, without boiling, until cheese is melted. Add salt and pepper to taste.

    I think I usually end up adding some extra water or stock at some point, and I’m never quite sure whether to cook the beans with the top on or off. The last time it was off, then I put it on during the last 30 minutes, after adding the onion & garlic, etc. If you start with shredded cheese—and chop the onion in the food processor—this is really really simple.

    If you want to make it with chicken, use water (or, I suppose, chicken stock) instead of veggie stock, and put two chicken breast halves (with skin and bones) in with the beans at the start. When the beans are tender, remove the meat from the bones and shred it, then add it back in when you are adding the onions, etc. Either way is good.

    Thursday, February 02, 2006

    Check this out

    So now my sister's blogging (she has help, btw), and for you vegetarians out there--and, actually, anyone else who likes to eat and/or cook--they've got some great recipes up. She and Tony are two of the best cooks I know, so you're in for some good eating. I may even try that tofu stir-fry! (I've eaten it--it's fabulous.)

    Four Things

    Claudia didn't tag me with this, but I like it.

    Four Jobs I've Had:
    Ice cream scooper, restaurant cleaner, editorial assistant at a VERY small (two-person) specialty car magazine (don't ask!), breakfast waitress

    Four Movies I Could Watch Over and Over:
    My Neighbor Totoro, Toy Story, Endless Summer II, Midnight Run
    Special bonus fifth movie, Groundhog Day. I don't think that counts, right, because 1) today is Groundhog Day and 2) watching it once is like watching it over and over.

    Four Places I've lived:
    Tokyo, Los Angeles, Connecticut, New York (state, not city)

    Four Places I've Been on Vacation:
    The Outer Banks of NC, Oregon coast/Washington coast (one vacation, camping), San Francisco, Montreal

    Four Websites I Visit Daily:
    ALDaily, google, Literary Mama, the library website on campus

    Four Bloggers to Tag:
    Ah, do it yourselves. Can't you tell I'm feeling lazy today?

    Wednesday, February 01, 2006

    Blog Book Tour: The Literary Mama Anthology

    Today's my day on the Literary Mama Anthology blog book tour. I'm so excited! I've been involved with Literary Mama since the beginning, I think. I got involved in Amy Hudock's Books and Babies online writing group and website, and then when Literary Mama launched I was one of the original editors and columnists. So it's fabulous to see the site, and the anthology, doing so well.

    If you haven't done so yet, check out the introduction to the anthology here. This serves as a rationale for the site as well, but particularly for the book. This represents some of the best of the best: pieces that continue to inspire, challenge, entertain, enlighten.

    Of course everything in the book is still on the site, so why should you buy the book? One reason: reading in bed. Honestly, much as I love the internet, you can't curl up and read it wherever you want. (OK, Susan, I know you do, but not all of us are quite as addicted...or enabled!) So the luxury of reading these essays in the comfort of my own bed, or reading chair, with pen in hand (I always read with pen in hand...), without a screen in front of my face, is just lovely.

    As are many of the essays, stories, and poems. What a joy to re-encounter "Packing the Car," for example. I don't always read the poetry on the site, but Andi and Amy have placed it so well among the other works that it's a joy to read it here. What a pleasure to find that "Analyzing Ben" still makes me laugh; that "Acts of Contrition" still has the power to move me. Throughout, the collection builds on itself, develops so many of the important things about motherhood: recognizing your children as part of yourself, as individuals in their own right, as inheritors of your own family story, as progenitors of their own.

    I was going to give my review copy away, I must say, thinking, well, I can always read it all again on the site. But instead, I'm buying a couple of others for friends, so I can hang on to mine, mark it up, and read it in bed--again.