Saturday, May 31, 2008

More from the Tedium Monkey

Nick's applesauce/oat bran muffins went over so well he decided to see if he could make dinner. Turns out he mostly could, with the help (again) of me as tedium monkey.

Here's what he made:

  • Boneless chicken breasts, marinated (lemon-rosemary marinade by me, rosemary picked by Nick) and grilled on the panini grill
  • Grilled zucchini and a portobello mushroom (for Mariah), also on the panini grill
  • Linguine
  • Cheese sauce (a very light bechamel with some cheese whisked in). I helped, though I misjudged amounts a bit and we ended up with a lot left over.

Nick likes meals with options: you could eat everything separately, everything altogether, or any combination thereof. I ended up cutting up my chicken and zucchini and tossing it with cheese sauce over linguine, and it was mighty tasty.

The panini grill is a great way for a kid to make a meal, I've decided. It's almost foolproof, puts neat grill marks on the food, and is easy to clean up. Everyone was delighted with the meal-- especially Mariah, who skipped the cheese sauce and chicken to make her meal vegan.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Vegan Baking and the "Tedium Monkey"

[apologies if you get this multiple times through your feed-reader; I've been editing...]
Nick's been unpredictable in his responses to his sister's vegan ways. Sometimes he flaunts his meat-eating to her (this goes over about as well as you would imagine). Other times, though, he's pretty sweet. Monday morning, with the extra "weekend" day, he got up and began browsing her cookbook, Veganomicon (highly recommended, by the way). After a while he came and found me.

"Mom, I want to make some vegan muffins. Can I make these?" He showed me a recipe for applesauce-oat bran muffins.

Well, we didn't have any oat bran, but we googled for a substitute and worked out that oatmeal powdered in the blender might work, so I said yes. Did he want any help? His face fell a bit.

"I wanted to do it all by myself, but I'm not sure I can." Then his face brightened. "I know, you can be the me!"

I was puzzled. "The what?"

"You know, normally when we make stuff, you're in charge but you let me measure stuff or stir sometimes or get out the ingredients--I'm the monkey who runs around and does the tedious stuff. I'm the tedium monkey! You can be the tedium monkey!"

I might prefer "sous chef," but "tedium monkey" works. And so did the muffins.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Mama, PhD

If you've followed any of my blog posts on the Mama, PhD blog, you'll know that I have an essay in a book of the same name, coming out any day now. I haven't got my copy yet, but both editors have received theirs--and you can order one now, too! So, go, get it!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Does Academe Hinder Parenthood?

Scott Jaschik's article in IHE last week on academe and parenthood got a lot of people thinking--and some people perhaps just reacting, or venting, or something else. In any event, I got to react to all of them this week in my Mothering at Mid-Career blog over at Mama, Ph.D. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

If it's Tuesday

I must be blogging at Inside Higher Ed... This week I'm talking about time, and where it goes. Especially the month of May, which has (again!) almost completely gotten away from me.

Monday, May 19, 2008

"Reading" pictures...

Everything is new to the infant. I remember seeing my tiny daughter, only minutes old, lying in her father's arms drinking in the scenery with eyes wide open, and suddenly realizing what an odd world we'd brought her into.

Shaun Tan and Brian Selznick show us that odd world in their remarkable picture books (or are they graphic novels?) for older readers. Read more about The Arrival and The Invention of Hugo Cabret, here...

(cross-posted at Lessons from the Tortoise)

Friday, May 16, 2008


It's been a busy week, as the weeks after Mother's Day always are, it seems. Once graduation rolls around there are all kinds of things in the kids' lives--tests, parties, special assignments due--and in ours as well, as our friends all come out from under their busy semesters and want to get together, as do we. I also "went back to work," in a manner of speaking, this week, with two days of workshops to jumpstart a fall project. So there's been a lot going on, most of it fun.

But it was punctuated by sadness. Our beloved and beautiful cat, Anna, had been ailing for a while, and this week we finally let her go. We knew as of Monday that the end was near, and we said good-bye to her yesterday. This is the first pet I've lost in this way; only one of our childhood pets died when I was a child, and I was almost completely unaware of her passing. I'd left home by the time my own childhood cat, Misty, died. This is also the first time our kids have lost a pet, and it hit Mariah hard. She chose Anna from the Siamese rescue society eight years ago--or Anna chose her--and they had been companions ever since.

Today I see her food bowls and the hair that she shed on the couch and I expect to see her come around the corner, but she won't. She had a good life with us, but--as my mother said earlier today--there will always be a hole in our hearts for her.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Girl Athletes and Women Professors

There's quite a discussion of the New York Times piece on girl athletes in the comments over at 11D. I think it's fair to say Laura didn't much like it. But it had me thinking about myself and my colleagues--when does difference become inferiority? When does equality become an unsustainable sameness? I muse about it more today over at the Mama, PhD blog at Inside Higher Ed--come over there and let me know what you think.

Update on the food

I took the couple with the new baby an asparagus-mushroom strata and lemon-blueberry corncake from The Cornbread Gospels. The friend facing surgery had it postponed, but there's another strata in the freezer for her when she needs it. And, thanks to your comments, I now have a better list for the next time I face this dilemma!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Sharing Food

Every now and then I need to take a meal to someone. A friend has lost a loved one, a colleague has had a baby, someone has just had surgery--the response is to take them food. Right? In situations like that I usually bake: bread, brownies, muffins. Maybe I'll make some soup to go along with the bread, but my focus is on the baking. Recently a friend and I teamed up to take a meal to someone and that worked out great: I did rolls and soup, she did dessert and salad. Easy-peasy, and a good meal for our friend as well.

Today, though, I need to make some real meals. Someone I know from church is having a double lumpectomy today; a colleague has just had a baby and has no family in town. These are folks who need food in the freezer, meals that they can pull out later and enjoy without planning. A loaf of bread or a pan of brownies just won't cut it.

So I scanned through my recipes here on the blog and guess what? Mostly they're for side dishes and desserts. I have a few quick dinner recipes, but they're not really freezable ones--stir-frys and pastas and the like. I'm thinking strata could work, or maybe chilaquiles; I suppose a pot of chili could go in the freezer, but we're having temps in the 80s these days and chili just seems too heavy. I can do strata with spring vegetables--asparagus and mushrooms, maybe? And then it can be brunch or dinner or lunch or whatever is needed (I remember those topsy-turvy days of early parenthood, vaguely...).

What do you make for a friend in need? Why am I so stymied by this?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Mothering at Mid-Career

My new weekly blog at Inside Higher Ed is up! So, what do you need? Leave me a comment and give me more to blog about...

While you're there, check out the other blogs, too. The Monday Mama PhD blogger, Megan Pincus Kajitani, is taking your questions. And UD (University Diaries) is about to take a sabbatical.

There are lots of other cool blogs to check out, too.

(again, cross-posted...)

Monday, May 05, 2008

Mama PhD at Inside Higher Ed!

Starting today, seven Mama PhD contributors will be blogging over at InsideHigherEd.

Caroline and Elrena started things off today with an introductory post; from now on the blog will run along this rotation:

Monday: The Career Coach Is In by Megan Kajitani
Tuesday: Mid-Career Mothering by Libby Gruner (hey, that would be me!)
Wednesday: ABCs and PhDs: Biologists at Home, by Dana Campbell, Liz Stockwell, and Susan Bassow
Thursday: Math Mom by Della Fenster
Friday: Drama Mama by Anjalee Nadkarni

Check out my inaugural post tomorrow...

(cross-posted at Lessons from the Tortoise...)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Finished Objects

As the weather warms up I probably do less knitting than usual, but I've still finished two things lately, and I love them both. The first, the "scribble lace" scarf (on the left), is for the silent auction at Nick's school; the other, the clapotis (is this perhaps the most famous free pattern on the internet?) is for me. I've got a couple of other projects brewing, and with the basketball playoffs going strong and baseball getting started I do have a little more TV time* than usual, so I may get to them!

*baseball is more conducive to knitting than basketball; I rely heavily on instant replay if I'm knitting while watching basketball.