I blame August for this

Did anyone else notice that it is somehow still August? All week long? I feel like whichever ancient Roman made the decision to make August 749 days long wasn't thinking clearly. At any rate, the interminability of this month inspired me to have Comfort Food Week. There's no point in waiting for it to be appropriately comfort-food cold because we'll all be dead by then and also I am in need of comfort. HOWEVER, there are no pictures of said foods because we are having some technical difficulties in the form of a broken memory card. It looks like a crack, but I'm guessing it just melted like everything else.

Anna and I will be hunkered down here until the high temperature stops being over 100 degrees.

So, through the weekend at least.

Though I suspect Ivy is plotting a jailbreak.

At least she is dressed for the weather.


It's also National Goat Cheese Month but I don't see anyone pouting about that

I find that attending any sort of party hosted by Regan frees me from my self-feeding responsibilities for pretty much the whole weekend.

It also provides a good, solid meat base for the week ahead.

For some reason, Ivy was more interested in eating the museum's play food.

Not sure where she got that idea.

This is actually Dan bitterly remonstrating the fact that I overlooked National Waffle Day. Do you see what happens when I miss a theme? Intrafamily strife.

I mostly like the Children's Museum for its liberal use of prison-like bars.

Free-roaming children make me uncomfortable.

Don't worry, there were still plenty of adventures to be had.


History Week: Brought to You By Adolph's Meat Tenderizer

Hello, and welcome to History Week! (Please read the previous sentence in Moviefone style. Pop open a Snapple. Feeeeeeeeel the nineties wash over you.) This is actually History Week Part the Third, and it has nothing at all to do with the nineties, that's just the decade where my brain resides and sometimes bits of it leak out. No, Cookbook #84: James Beard's American Cookery (James Beard, 1972) is pre-nineties and in fact pre-Erica, although such a world is pretty difficult to imagine.

Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none. Number of years I owned this volume before noticing that the cover illustration features a rooster harnessed to a wagon full of rooster-sized produce: at least ten.

It's called "Rooster Express" and it will be mine.

If you watch any food-oriented television, you have at least a vague idea of who James Beard was because people are always bragging about having won his award. His backstory is neither as hardcore as Fannie Farmer's nor as colorful as Charles H. Baker Jr.'s, but he did host the first televised cooking show and apparently "entered into ethically questionable endorsement deals," including for Old Crow Bourbon and something called Adolph's Meat Tenderizer. So he was, you know, well-rounded.

This is really a historical collection (our dear Fannie gets a hat tip in the beginning) and not necessarily a tome of James Beard recommendations, as evidenced by the several versions of "I don't care for this personally, but people seem to like it" I encountered.

There is an ample egg chapter.

I poached them in tomatoes and served them over asparagus and bacon, but it wasn't easy narrowing it down. I could see myself making almost every egg dish in this thing.


I figured the most old-timey American thing I could do was make protein and a side every night, thereby going against all of my one-pot instincts. Think of all the extra pots I washed (three)! For history!

Pork Chops Creole with brown rice. Part of my continuing quest to convince Dan that he does in fact like pork chops.

Walnut-Breaded Fish, Brussels Sprouts with Bacon. This fish tasted very restaurant-y, probably because it was covered in walnuts and cooked in butter. I did not have to convince Dan that he liked it.

Florence Bingham's Easy Chicken with Pepper Slaw. This chicken was in fact easy and very good as leftovers. I didn't even try to convince the children that they liked the slaw.

I also made Molasses Pie and WHOA BUDDY was it molassesful. Check out my meringue, though!

Both girls ate this seriously, seriously strong-flavored pie. Lesson: people love pie.

Verdict: This was really fun to comb through, and if I skipped the section on offal and figured out what a "veal knuckle" is, I could probably tackle about anything in it.


In conclusion, James Beard invented Meatza.

I think I might have to stop taking Ivy to my Weight Watchers meetings.

Maybe I can just shift her focus to perfecting her watercolor technique.


I expect you all to smoke things for me when I visit

How was your weekend, everyone? Still August? Oh. Well, did you at least go on vacation? I did! I mean, we went to visit my parents, but I'm pretty sure it counts as a vacation because I ate sushi.

And my kids weren't within sight, or, more crucially, earshot.

I find that serenity is helpful in digesting raw fish.

I was also served 18-hour smoked brisket with a soup bowl full of homemade barbecue sauce and I'm pretty sure I didn't even help clear the table.

Definitely vacation and/or I'm just a thoughtless houseguest.

I did use Cookbook #83: The Chocolate Snowball: and Other Fabulous Pastries From the Deer Valley Bakery (Letty Halloran Flatt, 1999) to whip up a batch of anniversary biscotti for my parents because I am also a pretty self-serving gift-giver.

I used orange zest to cover up the taste of selfish blog-related motivation.

Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none. For some reason I'd been thinking that everything in this cookbook was super fussy/fancy, probably because the titular recipe is super fussy/fancy, but it's actually full of regular yummy-sounding stuff, including more than one type of granola and dadgum do I enjoy granola. I also enjoy biscotti. Verdict: these are recipes from the executive chef at a ski resort! Just flipping through it is guaranteed to reduce your body temperature 10 degrees. Also, it is full of sugar.

Anna took the opportunity to do some frolicking this weekend.

They seem to be on the same page, at least. 

All that activity may have been a little stressful for the girls though, as they were definitely ready to get back into their yoga practice when we got home.

Ivy is demonstrating the "I was born relaxed" pose.


Slow News Week

Based on the fact that I opened this post about twelve minutes ago and have just been staring at the wall, listening to the clock ticking, I'm going to guess that it's still August. (Checks.) Nailed it! Halfway through August no less, which means that all of my functioning brain-parts have been effectively stifled, as have my getting-up-off-the-couch parts. I spent the week trying to avoid going to the grocery store, so I had a chance to practice my hand at cleaning out the fridge by stuffing its contents into tortillas and/or eggs.

Frozen fish, vegetables.

Vegetables, vegetables.

Fortunately, the girls have been toiling away in order to compensate for my sloth. Running a household is a lot of work, as they're discovering. Ivy has taken up the gardener position.

And Anna is our bean counter.

Very little chance of embezzlement in this case.


Every night Anna asks if tomorrow will still be August and I think, I HOPE NOT

Hey, look! I made a cheese ball!

Not so much impressive as it is just fantastic. Fantastic work, me!

I also made all manner of other things from Cookbook #81: I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence (Amy Sedaris, 2009) and realized that in the four years I've owned it I have considered it primarily a comedy book, ignoring the dozens and dozens of legit recipes (and pantyhose-oriented craft ideas) within it. Behold! Asparagus Macaroni! Cucumber, Tomato, and Onion Salad! Excellent Stuffed Potatoes!

Provenance: I bought it my own self at the Texas Book Festival. It's autographed! Previous recipes on this blog: none, because as I said, it never occurred to me to take anything inside it at face value. But I have to say, these were some very fine victuals from a book whose section on Children's Games include tips such as "Toss a greased watermelon into the pool and have the kids try to grab for it," "If there is an infant in the house, it's always fun to play Social Services," and "The eyes are the most vulnerable part of the wolf." Recommended for: all humans.

Cookbook #82: The Great Book of Chocolate (David Lebovitz, 2004) does not include a recipe for Galataboureko or a Gift Idea for Ex If You Are Still on Speaking Terms (see above), but as its title indicates, it doesn't need to. It includes chocolate.

Provenance: I think I mentioned wanting this to my brother, who then bought it for me because as it turns out younger siblings are not entirely worthless once you are an adult. Previous recipes on this blog: none. I made Congo Bars, which are sort of like someone smushed four chocolate chips cookies together and called it a "serving."

Good call, someone. 

Let's get a closer look at that cross-section.

Oh, hi, I'm back, just went to confirm my vague recollection of these being good. These are still good. Verdict: David Lebovitz is smart and you should give him money to continue practicing his trade.

I like this series of "Please just let me get one nice going-to-school picture of you" wherein Anna seems increasingly uncertain of what I'm asking of her.

Almost a good shot if you squint away the pretty high degree of apparent sarcasm.

I already gave you the arm gestures. What?

Why is this insane woman still aiming a camera at me right now?


Nice try, Travis

I was saving Cookbook #79: Mickey's Gourmet Cookbook (Walt Disney Company, 1994) to use on Anna's birthday because, obviously, right? Except as it turns out, "Gourmet" means "recipes that are not especially kid-friendly." So, Bridgetown Fajitas from Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort it is! (Check out the picture of that place, seriously. I'm pretty sure the cannon is there specifically to keep children out.)

Being 85 himself, Mickey understands the importance of grown-up food.

Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none. Verdict: The fajitas were excellent, but it's really just a basic soy sauce/lime juice/garlic marinade. No pictures, no kid food. A lot of this looks extremely unhealthy and delicious. I should warn you that if you are dining at a Disney park in 1994, you are consuming a lot of margarine.

Cookbook #80 (80! Four-fifths done! Aaaaaaaand I just took a second to figure out what percentage that is! OUT OF ONE HUNDRED!): Step-by-Step Asian Cookbook (Anne McDowell, 2002). The title itself is quite reassuring, as I can't stand those recipe collections that refuse to go step by step. Of course, once inside I discovered that all instructions were in paragraph form and that you can trust no one in this world but yourself. Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none.

I went with Noodles with Chop Suey, mostly because "Chop Suey" sounds like something you would go out for in 1938. I'm pretty sure it's Chinese the same way pizza is Italian, but that has never, not one time stopped me from eating pizza. Anyway, this one didn't really taste like anything, so I drowned it in soy sauce and then it tasted like soy sauce. I liked it.

Just add flavor.

Verdict: There are about a million recipes in this thing, so I won't dismiss it based on the one that I picked out due to amusement at its old-fashioned-ness. Maybe old-fashioned tastebuds were very sensitive! We should ask Mickey.

Got in some pretty sweet Nature and Science action this morning.

Anna has concerns about both Nature and Science.

I have concerns that Travis wrote this sign himself in order to entrap the unwary.

Ivy has concerns about how long it's going to take her to sweep up all this sand. Also, this is the same look I give my kitchen floor every afternoon.


I just can't temporarily quit you

Well, after the tremendous outcry regarding my parents mentioned in passing the fact that I skipped posting on Friday, I knew I'd better get back on the stringing-words-together horse (not a large horse, more like a medium-sized dog honestly), so here I am. I was toying with the idea of taking an actual summer vacation from the blog because it's 106 degrees outside and it is grossly unfair that I should be expected to do things in any capacity, but it seemed selfish of me not to share the following "I have school tomorrow!" vs. "I have school today!" portraits of Anna.

The future is bright!

The future is now.

Or this documentation of Ivy's budding interest in body art, for that matter.

Definitely an Austinite. She'll probably be a Rollergirl by next summer.

But really, truly, more than anything, I didn't want to withhold from you Cookbook #78: Nice & Simple Party Menus (Marshall Cavendish Books, 1986). No link, because it is another elusive apparition with no internet presence. Provenance: the ether. Previous recipes on this blog: none.

I did not use Nice & Simple Party Menus to throw an actual party because I generally like my current friends and could probably find more creative ways to estrange them. Please keep in mind that I say this as someone who forced people to attend my smørrebrød last summer.

Instead, I picked out Crispy Chicken Bites, sold them as chicken nuggets to the family, and served with plentiful ketchup.

Verdict: edible.

Having said that, I'm actually a little impressed with food photography that manages to make an entire spread look unappealing save for the bowl of fruit in the corner.

"Ohhhhhh! Everything looks so greeeeeeaaaat! You know what though, I'm on a pretty strict grapes-only diet right now."

I mean, if you're going to try to poison your loved ones, I say keep it simple and throw everything in a loaf.

Or a pudding

As you can probably tell, I was pretty skeptical as I paged through this one, but once I got near the end and discovered that the editors share my affinity for traumatizing children through party foods, I came around.

"Have some Cucumber Caterpillar, Billy! But don't forget--it can see you!"

Recommended for: people who are tired of their friends, people who are annoyed by the happiness and security of children, people who have been searching for a good recipe for Breakfast Lamb Cutlets (pg 38).