10.24.2014

Even Marthas have slumps

I know Ivy and I already demonstrated the basics of one-pot cooking for you, but I figured I would include a few examples from Martha's book, for the gastronomic learners out there.

One-Pan Pasta. Like regular pasta, but very slightly lazier.




Pot check:


One.


Sweet Potato-Sausage Soup. Like regular soup. I mean, those generally involve one pot.






Pot check:


One.


Stir-Fried Chicken with Bok Choy. I am actually pretty interested in this, because usually I have to pull out the rice cooker or a separate pot for noodles when a stir-fry is in the works.






Pot check:


One.

Uh oh.

TWO. You can't just throw "cooked rice" on the ingredient list and pretend it's a one-pot recipe, Martha.


Well. That was so close to success. Calendar time!

October 21st: "Pilates." Mmm hmm.

"Decorate the house for Halloween." Really? Martha-Stewart-brand Halloween items descended upon stores a month ago but you wait until the 21st to decorate your house? Did you get thrown during a weekend horseback ride and sustain a head injury which caused you to have soap-operatic-memory-loss and now you don't remember that you are Martha freakin' Stewart who definitely decorates for Halloween more than ten days out? 

Anyway, I already decorated my house. 



I put a bird on it.



October 22nd: "(Blank)." Seriously, Martha, are you okay? We're worried about you.






October 23rd: "Harvest pumpkins; carve some with the grandkids and toast seeds." Ah, here we go. A cutesy, moderately labor-intensive thing that I can't justify not forcing myself to do. Back on track!

I was really hoping to continue the gag of Anna being the one who is doing all of the Halloween work, partly because that's the extremely gentle parental humor you've come to expect in these parts and partly because it meant that Anna was the one who was doing all the Halloween work. Started off well with the pumpkins:






Until pumpkin-gut removal. Then she was out.






Turns out she's more of an art director when it comes to pumpkin carving.



In case you were wondering, this is an exact recreation of the pumpkin that the children carve in "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." The other day, when instructed to draw a "space-themed" picture, she draw a full diagram of the solar system complete with labels. What I'm saying is, we may need to set our unrealistic sights on "genius" as opposed to "creative genius."


I did the actual carving. Considering the amount of concerned-sounding encouragement showered upon me by the children, I must have really looked like I was struggling. "Nice eyes, Mom." "You're doing great, Mom. You're almost there." Ivy even used that psychological trick where you address someone else within the subject's earshot. "Daddy, Mommy is doing a gooooooood job." She said this several times.

They were very relieved when I completed it.


She legitimately thought this day would never come.


And then I toasted the seeds, yes I did.





Pot check:


Okay then.

10.21.2014

I will start sewing a gouda costume right now

So who's up for an Oat-Coconut Smoothie this morning?* Come on guys, it's so oaty! I'm pretty sure Martha lovingly mixes giant tubs of this stuff for those horses she rides every weekend.



*Stunning bird glasses not included.


I realized that in order to do any justice at all to this particular Martha Month, I would have to throw a Halloween party. So I did that. Some of the cutesy crafty things turned out very much like they were supposed to! Look how slimy the Slimy Spiders turned out, for example:




I even colored in the word "spiders" all by myself. Anna also colored some labels, but I am not going to show them to you because they are significantly better.



The Candy Popcorn Ears made a very impressive-looking pile. 



Pretty sure if I had wrapped the poop donuts in enough parchment paper you guys would have been like "Whoa, those are almost too classy."


And teensy orange/pumpkins are basically the easiest way to make people say "Cute!" that I have ever found.






I mean, they looked easy anyway.





Obviously, not everything can be identical to the magazine picture. This is real life, where beautiful lacy pumpkins sometimes come out looking significantly different than their inspiration.



Significantly BETTER, really, since the original pattern lacked a distinct sense of having been literally touched by hellfire.


 Whew. To the calendar we go.

October 17th: "Third annual Martha Stewart American Made Award winners revealed!" This is neither a Gentle Reminder nor a Helpful Tip, Martha. I'm going to file this under Important Dates, but I think you're pushing it. Letting it slide because you did not force me to come up with another "horseback ride" picture this round.

October 18th: "Teach Cooking With One Pot class at the New York City Wine and Food Festival." I'm inclined to give my readers enough credit to not need this, but I know cooking isn't for everybody, so just a quick primer: when making a meal, look at your stove. Do you see pots in excess of one? If so, start over.




INCORRECT

CORRECT


October 19th: "Plant amaryllis bulbs to give as Christmas gifts." All this did was remind me that I haven't seen The Music Man in a long time.






October 20th: "Mow the lawn for the last time this season." It was 85 degrees today, this is not going to be the last time our lawn needs mowing. Also I did not mow the lawn. I did give it a fairly stern look, though.


"Weight training." YES FINALLY THANK YOU. Pushing and pulling heavy things makes me feel like a badass. Doing Pilates just makes me feel like an uncomfortable person. In some ways I feel like the gym is one of the only places that I can zero in on my Real Self, and that self is a person who enjoys doing leg press reps in time to "Don't Rain on My Parade."


Seems worth comparing what Ivy chose to wear to Target a few days ago:


(ballerina-owl costume)

to what she chose to wear to our own Halloween costume party:


(air of disdain)

Also that Anna was a cat last year and is a mouse this year and I will be the absolute last person on earth to talk her out of going as cheese in 2015 if it comes to that.

10.17.2014

I! Want to have! A Marthaaaaa Month!

Earlier today I caught myself quietly singing "Martha, Martha Month" to the tune of the Village People's "Macho Man," so that is definitely a sign of…something. Yes it is.

The following recipes are intended for GUESTS per the magazine, yet I served them to my PLAIN OLD FAMILY: Chicken-Chile Stew with Cheese and Sweet-Pepper Cornbread.



I am not entirely certain they deserved them, but there you have it.


Also, don't know if I mentioned it, but we have a slight surplus of applesauce in these parts. Time to make sundaes!






The thing I appreciated most about the Applesauce Sundaes was the extreme Marthaness of the recipe(s). You could buy some ice cream and applesauce and dried fruit and combine them in a bowl for a nice little treat. Or you could go Full Martha (which I did, self-contractual obligation) and dedicate one entire day of your life to making ice cream, applesauce, and dried fruit and combining them in a bowl. For a nice little treat. There is a common Marthaland refrain of "Instead of doing this very simple thing, why not try this extremely time-consuming method?" See also: How to Light a Jack-o'-Lantern.


I don't think that's how.


October 14th: "Pilates." Sure.

"Sharpen knives; apply mineral oil to wooden cutting boards to keep them from cracking." Hey, 14 days in and I find myself facing a practical reminder that is of legitimate use to me. Slightly disappointing, but I'll take it.






October 15th: "Clean and set up humidifiers." I was unable to perform this task due to headless clown interference.







October 16th: "Cardio and core." I went running in the dark and completely wiped out on the uneven sidewalk like the graceful gazelle that I am, so I imagine I engaged some core muscles whilst hoisting myself back up off the ground.

"Harvest tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers." There were probably some of those things in the soup and stuff?


Peppers?


"Inspect beehives." Looking good.




Martha Project #2: Cover your pumpkin in lacy stockings then spray paint for a beautiful, delicate effect.


NAILED IT


As always, Officer Huff will be addressing all comments and concerns regarding these matters.




10.14.2014

Of COURSE she only looks happy and natural on horseback

I'm almost halfway through Martha Month, can you believe it? So much applesauce, so little time. You know what that sauce looks awfully nice next to? Orange-and-Rosemary-Brined Porkchops.



I am almost always disappointed in fancy-sounding pork chops, but I wasn't in these, so this brine gets an emphatically approving nod.


Also pretty cozy up in some Applesauce Pancakes.



Just snuggled right in there.


When Martha says to slice broccoli stalks in order to make a salad, I say "How thinly?"



The answer is…"thinly."



She also said to put Chimichurri Sauce on roasted carrots, so I did that too.






She didn't specify what the carrots were intended to accompany, so I just made my best guess.






The Calendar also kept me pretty busy this weekend, let's see how I did.

October 10th: "Pilates." You know…I think I probably did some stretching that day. Like, athletically.

"Bathe dogs and cats." Guess she's talking to you, Cat Team.






October 11th: "Morning walk with the dog through the maple grove." If it makes you feel any better about the following picture, I want you guys to know that I waste a LOT more of my own time than I do of yours.



You have no idea.


October 12th: "Take an afternoon drive to Cross River Reservoir, in Westchester County, New York." We did not do this. We did drive to a pumpkin patch that day.



We are almost tall enough for the pumpkin patch.


"Horseback ride." I'm glad I left this entire line of activity to Anna, because she is really stepping up her game.






October 13th: "Host Martha Stewart Weddings' 20th anniversary party in New York City." I'm going to let this image from my own nuptials tell the story of how much I understand or care about weddings.



Okay, this is actually just my "dancing face."


If my failures this week have left you feeling grumpy, just take a big bite of ice cream, worked for Ivy 100%.





10.10.2014

Seasonal apple-smushin'

Martha Month continues in full force here! I think my last post misled some people into thinking I was jokily failing to follow my own aspirational calendar, so I just wanted to reiterate that I do not have enough ambition to even imagine a life with weekend horseback rides. For the record.

I do have exactly enough ambition to put scallops in a pan for a few minutes.



I am a huge fan of "make this thing hot and then eat it"-style recipes.

To Martha's Month!

October 7th: "Pilates." Not only did I do this, I went to a proper class with a teacher so that I could pull terrible faces in front of people instead of just at my computer screen.

October 8th: "Clean and refill bird feeders." We took care of this last weekend, actually.



"We."


Martha understands that sometimes you have to rearrange the schedule a little bit for convenience.



Not really, Martha does not understand this, please don't tell Martha.


October 9th: "Cardio and core." Dang girl, we just did Pilates TWO DAYS AGO. Fine, a couple of miles and ten half-hearted crunches, that's all you get. Have to save some energy for "pick apples, press some for cider and make applesauce."


What can I tell you guys, they came off the tree this way.


 When the applesauce recipe says "large pot," it's being serious.






I mean, it also says to cook "partially covered." So do what you have to do.






I don't have a food mill, so I chose the "push it through a sieve" method. Unfortunately, my strainer is more "fine mesh" than "medium mesh" so it took "all freaking day" to get two large jars of applesauce out of it. Worth it though, because my applesauce is kind of watery SILKY SMOOTH.





Tastes like applesauce! Probably not worth the work, I dunno, you'll have to ask Ivy.


Seriously though, she is the slowest.

Here is the face I made upon completing a Pilates session:




And completing an apple-straining session:




Good thing I have access to Martha's Product Recommendation #1:  WRINKLE CREAMS! Turns out, I had just finished a tube of one recommendation and already replaced it with something very similar to another recommendation, so M and I are on the same page here.



DO YOU HEAR THAT, TIME AND ELEMENTS? YOU CAN'T TOUCH MEEEEEEEE


Anna is really fascinated/repelled by the encostumed Martha on the back cover of this issue. I keep having to tell her that it's just makeup and a wig. "She's not scary in real-life," I lied reassuringly.


I don't think she's buying it.