Thursday, December 31, 2009

Weapons of Mass Destruction

What could this be?


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Anyone? Beuller??


It is this. Or these.

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Santa brought me not one, but two of these big beauties.
We have one cast iron skillet. It's 10 inches. It doesn't hold a whole pound of bacon.
It doesn't fit 4 haddock fillets at one time. Liver and onions (droooool) requires two batches of onions and countless batches of liver pieces.
It's like cooking with dollhouse furniture.

As you can imagine, it doesn't see much use in this house. It is, however, the first pan I reach for when presented with meat, fish, potatoes...most everything.

This year, Santa decided it was time to upgrade to the 12 inch. And for good measure (and because he knows it will get used here) he threw in the 16inch.


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butter and an egg, for scale. And my crooked fingers.

Holy Moly. Now THAT's what I'm talking about! I can't lift it. Even with two hands.
But that's okay; I don't plan to take it for walks.

Clearly, there is more to the story of the cast iron skillet, as the title of this post implies.

Let's just say that without The Old Ten-incher, there would likely have been a Thing One-And-A-Half, and one completely insane postpartum Mother breastfeeding Two Things.

(Note to OB/GYN's everywhere: Six weeks my left foot!)

I slept with that skillet for a year.
Only had to use it once. Cast Iron Rocks.

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Apparently, I eventually fell asleep.

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He's not at all sure this was a good idea.

p.s. We'd already used the big one, and I took pictures before we'd oiled it. Distract yourself from the soiled-looking interior by looking at my filthy stove.
Wait....
What?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Day After

I have a foodover.


That's a food hangover. Ouch. Ugh. Ack.

Christmas was fabulous. The food was done in time, the presents were wrapped in time; we ate, we opened, we gave thanks and were grateful.
And then we ate again.

We're still eating.

I am far, far too lazy to post any pictures today. I may actually put clothes on today, but as it's just past noon, my enthusiasm for doing so is beginning to wane.

(Meanwhile, Chris just left here. Thing One got to the shower before me, and I am in my favorite (read:ratty) pj's. Chris doesn't count.)

I leave you with this: The Things got a new wii game. It contains many active games, one of which is Swordplay. Thing One is a champion boxer (on the wii), and has made it her goal to dominate in this game as well.
The Big Guy decided to give her a run for her money. He was giving it all he had, swinging like a madman. he got in ONE hit, and she yelled, "Hey, you just hit a girl!"
He paused for a split second...and she nailed him. Knocked him right off the platform.

I hear the rustle of tin foil calling to me...somebody just took the baked stuffed shrimp out again, and I must have one. Or two....

Friday, December 25, 2009

To My Everyday Heroes:


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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to the men and women in our Armed Forces, who are standing guard for us tonight and every night.

Merry Christmas to those who will work tonight, and miss seeing their small children's faces filled with awe and delight when they run to the tree in the morning.

Merry Christmas to those who will have to leave in the wee hours to get to work, and miss it.

A very special Merry Christmas to you, the health care workers who staff the hospitals and clinics 24 hours, and to whom the word 'holiday' has a whole 'nother meaning; namely, which ones will I be missing with my family?

Hats off to you; you Emergency Services personnel and the support staff who stand beside them on holidays and weekends all year.
Policemen and women, our Military, firefighters, doctors, nurses, clerical staff, janitorial service workers, security staff, all of you who toil through the holidays and nights and weekends, the 'off' hours, while the rest of the world sleeps.

For I remember it well.
Thank You. Bless you. And Merry Christmas.

It is not without sacrifice that I am able to 'stay home' with my kids.
And tonight, it's worth every hardship, every sideways look I get when I mention 'I live on an island', all the extra work it takes to make a life here.

I know I am blessed beyond words to have the ability to be here when my little Griswolds-in-training hit that tree in the morning.
I wonder who is more excited??

p.s. Every year at Christmas I am reminded of an old friend, Nelson O., for whom I once worked 36 hours straight so he could have the time off with his small children over Christmas. (ouch, though. Never. Again.) I pulled his name out of a hat; there were many on that shift in the same predicament. I was young and single and had a huge family cooking for me; they were parents with little kids who wouldn't be home Christmas morning. He was overjoyed! It remains, to this day, one of the Best Things I have ever done for anybody.
Merry Christmas, Nelson, wherever you are!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Winter Solstice

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Today is the shortest day of the year.


Goodie. I only have 482 things to do today, so that works out well.

As soon as I finish my column for the newspaper, I'll be in the kitchen, should you need me. Or at the Post Office (11-2). Or at a school board meeting (3-~4).

The good news, (for me, anyway) is that The Bakery is on hiatus until January 4th, when the kiddos return to school!
The last (express) orders will go off with the mail boat today. Whew!

Today, in between my obligations, I begin Our Holiday Preparations.
I'm tingling with excitement.
The biscotti!
The pies!
Clams Casino!
Scallops Wrapped In Bacon!
Baked Stuffed Lobsters!
Cioppino!

...and that's just the tip of the iceberg...

It's the moooost wonderful tiiiiime of the year....

p.s. Haven't finished the Christmas shopping, or the knitting, or the cleaning, or the laundry.
I work really, really well under pressure. Just don't try to talk to me.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

SeeingThe light

She's teetering over to The Dark Side.


Somebody make a convert of her, quick!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Holiday Chuckles

I resurrect this from an old email every year. I didn't write it, but I did my part in spreading it around. LOVE IT.

This one's for you, Michele!


CHRISTMAS CAROLS FOR THE PSYCHOLOGICALLY CHALLENGED



1) Schizophrenia---- Do You Hear What I Hear, the Voices, the Voices?

2) Amnesia-- I Don't Remember If I'll be Home for Christmas

3) Narcissistic-- Hark the Herald Angels Sing About Me

4) Manic-- Deck The Halls And Walls And House And Lawn And Streets And
Stores And Office And Town And Cars And Buses And Trucks And Trees And
Fire Hydrants And...........

5) Multiple Personality Disorder----We Three Queens Disoriented Are

6) Paranoid---Santa Claus Is Coming To Get Us

7) Borderline Personality Disorder--- You Better Watch Out, You Better
not Shout, I'm Gonna Cry, and I'll not Tell You Why

8) Full Personality Disorder--- Thoughts of Roasting You On an Open Fire

9) Obsessive Compulsive Disorder---Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells Jingle
Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle
Bells, Jingle Blls, Jingle Bells

10) Agoraphobia---I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day But Wouldn't Leave
My House

11) Senile Dementia---Walking In a Winter Wonderland Miles from My House
in My Slippers and Robe

12) Oppositional Defiant Disorder---I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus So I
Burned Down the House

13) Social Anxiety Disorder---Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
While I Sit Here and Hyperventilate

14) Attention Deficit Disorder--We Wish You......Hey Look!! It's
Snowing!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

OK, Knittaz!

It's the moment you've been waiting for.....


Remember this?

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(I cleaned that table, and it was covered in homework and kid paraphernalia before I could dry my hands. These kids! They're everywhere I tell you, everywhere!)

Here's a better shot of it.

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It's a swift! (Points to Jean- I think she guessed it.)
hmmm. Apparently The Boy is stripping the finish off the table. How's he doing that, I wonder?

And one of it in action:


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A handmade wooden swift from The Knit Store, on etsy. I got to choose size, wood, and finish. It took me hours of pondering and debate to decide, but my inner control freak was thrilled to have her say.


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Ain't she purdy?


The yarn I'm winding is from an old bloggy friend, Dawn. Dawn recycles wool. It's a fascinating process. The color in this pic is accurate, a deep dark garnet-y cranberry red. Gorgeous!
I bought it after finding a lovely pattern I just had to knit. The yarn is here. I can no longer remember what the pattern was.
Welcome to my world.

You can find Dawn at The Twice Sheared Sheep, on etsy.
(What did I do before etsy?)
Dawn also makes some really cool stitch markers. But I can't show you those. Santa will be bringing them. They mustn't be released into the wild before that day, because I will totally be using them, and that will create a problem...if you know what I mean.
(I'm pretty sure I'm the only one in this house who still buys into,well, you know... but I'm not ready to let go. They're only 6 and 8 fergodssake.)

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Yes, Stash, I finally did it. I've been winding yarn off the kids hands, the Big Guy's knees, and the backs of chairs (once off a steering wheel!) for far too many years.
I don't recommend the steering wheel. The kids learned some new words THAT day.

I wanted one that sat flat on a table or floor. I had visions of me sitting with the swift clamped to the arch of one foot and the winder clamped to the other as there is no good clamping spot in my house...

This swift is the cat's meow! perfectly smooth, pretty as a peach, highly adjustable...
I Am In Love.

And it was in my hands three days after I 'clicked' on the innernet. Gotta love that!

Thank you, The Knit Store! The kids thank you, the husband thanks you, even the half-dead cat, who is mesmerized by the movement, thanks you.

Now if only I could find time to knit.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Heaven...

Hea-ven... I'm in Hea-ven,
And my heart beats so that I can hardly speeeeeeeeeak.


Sing it with me! You know the words!

And I seem to find the happiness I seeeeeeeek,

in this:

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Clearly, Irving Berlin didn't knit. If he had, his song would have rhymed quite differently.

Still in my Blue Phase! And loving it!
These beauties are from Sherri at The Loopy Ewe, where yarn is shipped seconds after you hit the 'submit order' button on your computer, judging by how fast it got to me.
No complaints about that!
This is some good stuff. But there's more...

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Wait 'til you see what THIS is!

And wait you shall, because immediately after plopping this upon my table, I realized it hadn't been wiped own by my slaves helpers, and I had to resume cleaning.

All will be revealed after Mr. Lysol does his duty.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Field Trip Update

The Maintenance Dude didn't stop spreading his Holiday Cheer at the pool last night.


He actually came a-calling at midnight...banging on one of our families' hotel room doors!

He got a 5- months- pregnant Mom out of bed, into the hallway, to ask how many kids she had sleeping in her room. I was in the room next door, and had one foot out the door to 'take him down', if necessary, but she was all over it.
She did all the right things; didn't argue, never raised her voice, talked more and more quietly the more agitated he got, and finally just went back into her room and locked the door in his face.

We think he was On Dope.
And we left.
They lost bookings for 6 rooms, for 3 more nights. But the place across the street was more than happy to have us.

We are now at a lovely hotel, in upgraded suites. The staff here is wonderful (Hi Tyler!) and couldn't be nicer.

Tomorrow we are off to visit the Governer. We have some things to discuss.

I just hope we don't make the evening news.


Truckin'

We are on a Field Trip. A big one.

Our whole school (minus one) is here.
Hi Cadin! We miss you BIG TIME, Bud!

Cadin is home (sort of) having a BABY! Pretty soon. So soon, that Mom wasn't able to travel with us. We're taking lots of pictures for them.

And it was a good thing she didn't try to travel with us; it was pretty rough going.
We were hit with a blizzard, like most of you, that made driving hair-raising.
And The Big Guy is with us. In my truck. Driving. And singing.In my truck. With me.
Singing.
It was a very long ride.

Highlights from the day:
  • Mapquest gave us very clear, concise directions directly to the front door of the Holiday Inn. Too bad that wasn't the hotel at which we had reservations.
  • Checking in was traumatic. Apparently, it is inadvisable to produce more than three children. It's a fire law. (Well, you can, but you can't keep them in your hotel room.)
  • One of the families in our group is Direction and Elevator-challenged. Good thing our rooms are on the first floor.
  • Our hotel, which shall remain nameless until after checkout, is providing much in the way of entertainment. Significantly, the Maintenance Dude is not happy we're here.
I don't know why...we are only 12 adults and 14 kids from some rock near DownEast Maine.

We're going to have a good time with this Dude, I can promise you that.
We've got 5 lobstermen with us, and The Finn.
They don't know what they're in for.


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Here we are, being all responsible. The kids were swimming safely. We even put two (alleged) grownups in the pool, for safety's sake.


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We made sure there was no running on the sidelines, and no diving, and no peeing in the pool.

The hot tub, however...

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Check out that stream!

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Well. Now he's getting jiggy with it.

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Are you supposed to touch those buttons? Even if you're in the hot tub, and the timer for the bubble-jacuzzi thing stops?
Maintenance Dude didn't think so. And he was right handy to point that out.
(There was no sign to tell us otherwise, in our defense.)
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Heathen! Rule-breaker! Is that a (gasp) paper coffee cup, with a lid????
No food or drink is allowed near the pool!
No sign for that either, though there was one that proclaimed glass containers off limits in the pool area thankyouverymuch.
Thank You, Maintenance dude, for pointing out the error of our ways. Good thing you were just outside the door, there, to see that paper cup, before any harm came to us. Phew!

(OK, this was a set-up. The cup was mine. I just took a picture of it near Jay. I confess. I had a coffee at the pool. A plain coffee. It is a school trip, after all.)

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"And could you keep your children off the doors! Thank you!"

Yup.
We're a bunch of rebels, huh?
I may have heard the word 'redneck' muttered under Maintenance Dude's breath.


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We posted a guard by the door, to keep Maintenance Dude on his toes. Actually, Dude was behind that door, looking through the peep hole. The Big Guy was blocking his voyeuristic viewing. The kids, and all, you understand.

Ten bucks says this guy calls in sick tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Love, Oprah

Well, not really.


Remember how our Island was featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show??

Remember the Other segment on that show?
(Oh, the horror. I had to try three different pages to find a G-rated page to link to! And I'm a bit traumatized by one of the ones I found.)
Must. Go. Lie. Down. Now.

Yes, The Bunny Ranch. (eek.)

We laughed it off, our being associated with it/them, because...well, what're you gonna do?

And in true island fashion, the jokes just kept comin'.

I started saying I wanted a sign for my house, to commemorate the event.
One that would always remind us of the Time Oprah Came to Frenchboro (though she never set foot here).

And the jokers came up with this:

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I LOVE IT!

Thank You, Tammy and Jay!
**This does NOT mean that clothing is optional here! Sorry, Jay.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

He's baaaaack!

It's that time of year, again.


Henry's back.

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Can't wait to see what he gets up to this year!


Monday, December 7, 2009

Crack for Kids

Ew. That's unsettling isn't it?


I've got to have something better than that- it sounds OK when I describe yummy yarn as Crack For Knitters, but it doesn't translate at all with kids in the title!

How about: Enticement For Kids. (Anything's better than the drug reference, right?)

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Stacie sent these little foam kits to The Things.
They LOVE these. You would'a thunk they got gold.

Best part? They were completely and totally occupied for about an hour (they even watched the glue dry- I kid you not) while I snuck pieces of turkey cooked Thanksgiving dinner.

Thanks Stacie! And thanks for the other things in that package...
the coffee (yum), the chocolate-covered espresso beans (immediately hidden from the public), the crackers and dip (gone, and veryvery good), the candle which makes the house smell as if I baked all day when I actually sat on my verylargebutt and knitted (and which took an hour of explaining to the Young One that it was NOT a real apple pie, it was a candle. Yes, I did make him lick it to shut him up.).

Ah, and this:

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We share a special bond, Stacie and I. It's not everyone who can give a gift like this, and have it be appreciated.

I only wish I were the sorta gal who could allow video of this in action.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Menu Plans

I've been thinking about menu planning, following this post by Tsh over at Simple Mom. (GREAT blog- lots of really good ideas!)


What I'm thinking is, this is a great idea. I would love to do this.
Somehow, though, it doesn't work for me.
And you would think it would work for me, given my love for routine, and the OCD and all!

But I love food. Nearly every day, I wake up with something on my mind, or I see something, or think I smell something, and it's all I can think about until I make it.
Sometimes it's not even about the eating- the cravings are sometimes just to make it.

Compound this with the fact that I live on an island with limited ferry service and you have a recipe for some very interesting tweaks to recipes!

While this idea doesn't quite work for my (insane) life, it remains a Great Idea.

One I thought I should share with you. Go check out Tsh's menu plan, and make it work for you.

I, meanwhile, am battling cravings for this:


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But, really, it may just be for this:

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Either way, it ain't happening today.

I may just have to settle for this:

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Auntie Em, Auntie Em!



diana halloween06 076
Surf's Up!

It's a twister!
Well, it feels like one, anyway.

The winds are strong this morning; stronger than my coffee; stronger than my will to get dressed and go to the Post Office.
(I will, I will get dressed.)

Things are blowing around outside. Large things. Things that look a lot like Adirondack chairs, and sound like vehicles when they slam into the side of the house.
note to self: pick up outdoor furniture before December. Or November.

Our marine forecast:

GALE WARNING IN EFFECT THROUGH THIS AFTERNOON

TODAY
SE WINDS 25 TO 35 KT WITH GUSTS UP TO 45 KT...INCREASING
TO 30 TO 40 KT LATE THIS MORNING...THEN BECOMING SW 25 TO 30 KT
WITH GUSTS UP TO 45 KT EARLY THIS AFTERNOON...DIMINISHING TO
20 TO 25 KT WITH GUSTS UP TO 35 KT LATE. SEAS 5 TO 8 FT...
BUILDING TO 8 TO 11 FT THIS AFTERNOON. PATCHY FOG. RAIN THIS
MORNING. A CHANCE OF SHOWERS EARLY THIS AFTERNOON...THEN A SLIGHT
CHANCE OF SHOWERS LATE. VSBY 1 TO 3 NM.

TONIGHT
SW WINDS 20 TO 25 KT...BECOMING W 10 TO 15 KT AFTER
MIDNIGHT. SEAS 8 TO 11 FT. PATCHY FOG IN THE EVENING WITH VSBY
1 TO 3 NM.

Though this is far from the Worst We've Ever Seen, it will likely mean losing power, wet kids and pets (and post office personnel who will be walking), and broken lawn furniture.
No playing with sharp objects, today, kids (and men who play with sharp objects routinely).

Even Lifeflight won't come out here today. We are on our own.

Is it wrong that I enjoy this feeling?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Let the insanity begin!

I just want it here, on the record, that I sent out my Christmas cards two days before Thanksgiving!

Me!

It will very likely never happen again, so I bask in the glory of this one-shot-deal.


And back to the kitchen I go!

In between twittering and cooking and tweeting about cooking and, you know, eating..

I have been struck with a bad case of needle-ing. (One of the kids here used to say that. Marissa, what are you needle-ing? So cute.)

I needle-d this.
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This is some handspun alpaca Thing One and I found at the Blue Hill Fair this year.

Soooo soft.

It was supposed to be enough for two (as in, one for her, one for me) roll brim hats...
and it well may have been....
but I saw this. (Rav link)

And I liked this. A lot. I wanted to make this. But Thing One was expecting an alpaca hat.
So I made an adult size hat, and it should fit us both.
Shhh! Don't tell her; it's for Christmas!

Both of my kids have asked for handknits this year.
I know, right???!!!!???

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Tradition!


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Did someone say 'turkey'?

I love Thanksgiving.

LOVE IT!

When I lived in Boston, every Sunday was a holiday. (Trust me; you'd think so if you walked in on a Sunday Dinner.)
In fact, I would not even consider a marriage proposal from The Big Guy until he passed The Test, which consisted of him joining a Sunday Dinner. I had to see where he fell on the meter, you see.
If he'd walked in on that scene and, let's say, expressed dismay...he would have been out. Toast.
Sayonara, baby.

It's been done before.

You do not diss the food with my family.
(The Big Guy passed with flying colors. He saw The Test for what it was, intuiting that this was no special occasion, just a regular Sunday afternoon; though he had to learn the fine art of 'pacing'. He's a sprinter when it comes to eating, and that doesn't work with our multi-multi-multi-coursed dinner plan.
After that first encounter, he said, "If you can't run with the big dogs, stay on the porch. And I can run with the best of them!" And with that, he was in.)

We do not take lightly those guests who walk in and exclaim. "Oh My God! There's enough food here to feed a third world country! This is ridiculous! Nobody could ever eat all this food!"
True story.
She did not enjoy her evening. And she was not invited back.
You do not diss the food.

The reason there is so much food is, of course, the tradition. There are certain Sunday dinner dishes, and certain Holiday dishes. To leave one out is to risk an imbalance in the universe.
There are 'old' dishes, 'new' dishes, and everything in between.
Take Thanksgiving:
I'm not sure I could even list for you the fantastical dishes that used to make up our Thanksgiving.
But I love a challenge, and this walk down memory lane will be like wrapping up in a snuggly quilt! (Shut up. I smell the food issues, too.)

Thanksgiving was put on by the best Catering Company that ever existed. If you were fortunate enough to be invited to (or ballsy enough to crash) one of our Holidays, consider yourself special, 'cause it doesn't get any better than what you had.

The Catering Company? It was Ma (my Grandmother), Al (my Mother), Auntie Ro, and Aunt Joanne.

There were 15 of us in the 'immediate family', but we were routinely 40 for the Holidays with all the extended family and the strays. I counted. (I also set the tables.)
The booze budget alone was more than I spend now on our whole meal.

There was soup. The Good Chicken Soup, with the little meatballs and tortellini. Oh my. That was my Mother's specialty. Phenomenal.

There was antipasto. Because there always is. Meats and cheeses and hot peppers and mushrooms and olives. And bread, from the bakery.

There was a turkey. A big one. At least 20 pounds, or there wouldn't be enough leftovers.
And stuffing. My Mother was responsible for those two things.
But the gravy was all Ma. All Ma.
Twenty pounds of mashed potatoes. Al still has the bowl. It's bigger than what I used to bathe my kids in when they were babes. ('Course the turkey was bigger than my kids when they were babes...)

There were Aunt Joanne's chicken wings. I die for them, even today. I don't know how many pounds she had to do, but there was pan after pan, and they were marinated and cooked in trays and turned one-by-one and crispy, and savory-with just the right amount of sweet. They were Joe's favorite. Every time I attempt them (and they are NEVER EVER like hers) I think of them both.
drooling now. This is more pain than pleasure.

There was always pasta. Stuffed shells, or manicotti, or lasagne. With gravy. Meat gravy. Sausages, meatballs, spareribs. Oh dear God, the melt-in-your-mouth spareribs.

Eggplant parmigiana. Now, let's be clear, here. I'm not talking a 9x9 pan. I'm not talking a 9x13 pan. No, my dear friends, I'm talking the full-sized steam table pan, full of cheese-drooling fried eggplant, my One True Love, my favorite of favorites, my reason for living. How I love that eggplant.
(I never make it. Ever.)

A ham. A giant baked, spiral-sliced Honey Ham. Holy God, yum.

Stuffed mushrooms. Hundreds of 'em. Tray after tray of 'em. Little perfect globs of heaven.

Stuffed peppers. The stuffing was meat and rice. They melted in your mouth.

Stuffed artichokes. Oh, these were All Ma. So. Freakin'. Good. Only time all year I ever ate an artichoke, and the only time (I think) she made them. They were/are expensive; she hated to pay the price even that one time. She hated for anyone to pay the price. I don't make these for our dinner, because of that reason only- Ma would have a FIT if she knew I paid $1.79 for ONE artichoke. And really, Shaw's in Ellsworth?? 1.79 each???
Ma is no longer with us (but you can bet yer ass she's standing over our shoulders watching us make the gravy and the artichokes), so these jobs have fallen to Al. She's her Mother's daughter; nobody does those artichokes like her.

There were roasted sweet potatoes, and squash. I can't even guess at the quantities they cooked. But there was always plenty the next day, and they were in big pans.

And, hehe, the green bean casserole. This was a big joke. My Mother made the green bean casserole one year. You know the one, with the Campbell's soup and the stupid fried onions from a can. Now here was this feast fit for a king, every last bit of it made from scratch, and that (hehe) green bean casserole in the middle of it!
And you know damn well we kids ate the crap out of it. It was GONE.
The following year, there it was again! I remember Auntie Ro threatening to throw it out- "Are you kidding me? What the hell are you making that for??All this nice antipasto!!
I'LL fix the green beans!"
One year I forced all the kids to clean that bowl, just so my Mother could say "See that! Look! It's all gone- and you wanted to throw it out!"

I can't even talk about the desserts. Can't. Won't.
The cheesecakes, the pastries, the cannoli, the pies. Things I would give a kidney to eat right now, that I can't spell or translate into English.

Ah, the memories.

Things are so different now. Nobody can 'eat like that anymore'. Uncle Carmen was diagnosed with diabetes, and recipes were tweaked to be (a bit) healthier. (And we just recently lost him to the effects of diabetes. Things really won't be the same this year. Trying not to think about that.)
Everybody was getting older, and the cooking, which was a bit Too Much, became TOO MUCH.
The menu got pared down, even as our numbers grew. We 'kids' married, and had kids.
We omitted the soup. The antipasto got smaller. The peppers and the eggplant (gasp) were not a sure thing; their appearance depended on the number of people.

And then I moved to Maine.
You want to talk about culture shock? Ask me about my first Thanksgiving without my family.
I still haven't fully recovered.

Our own 'Thing" has evolved and devolved over the years.
I tried, for a very long time, to Do It All. Can you imagine the futility, me trying to recreate the dishes that four incredible cooks made all by myself?? And for two people??
Lots o' wine, that's all I'm sayin'.

It's still too much. But there are some traditions that must, must, must remain.
I'm now training my own kids (NOT just my daughter) what our special dishes are, why we make them, who used to make them, and what they mean to us.
Everything is still from scratch (even the pie crusts, this year. Sorry, Mr. Pillsbury.).

My daughter broke the bread cubes and mixed the stuffing by herself. My son seasoned the roasted carrots. They helped with the squash, the sweet potatoes, the apple and pumpkin pies. In years to come, I will alternate dishes, so they will learn how to make the chicken wings (though I feel a trip to Aunt Joanne's for dinner will be included, for the RealThing), the stuffed peppers, the artichokes, the eggplant.
I've given up (16 years later! I'm very determined. And stupid.) on trying to have it all. It costs too much; we are only four people; it's a LOT OF WORK.
So I've learned, the trick is to rotate the menu. It's the only way.

Because this is not 'just another meal'. I pity those who consider it so, because they don't get it (or maybe never had it to 'get'); that this is a continuation of a time-steeped tradition, a gathering of family (that maybe doesn't happen every week, like it used to for us) and friends, a celebration of food, of fullness, of richness of friends and family.
The traditions of my loud, raucous Italian family will be passed on to my kids. There will be too much food, and too many people at their own tables in years to come. (We incorporate Polish traditions, too. They are most evident at Easter.)
As it should be.

Today we will gather with friends to eat a huge meal that we will all be thankful for. We will enjoy each other's company. We will eat to excess, drink (not to excess!), laugh, joke, play pokeno, and then a few hours later...eat some more.

It's tradition!

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It's not you...it's me

or, The Breakup.


Dr. Mr. Pillsbury pie crust,
In the 30-some years we've been together, I have been a faithful and constant devotee. I simply adore you; your convenience, your low price, your predictable success...

But I've changed. I have grown up. It's time for me to move on.
It was bound to happen, you know. I make nearly everything we eat from scratch, and it was inevitable that I would one day expand into pie crust; fated that given an attempt or two, I could produce a tender flaky crust all by myself, without begging the neighbors to pick one up at the store for me.

That day has come.


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Yeah, Baybee.


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I had a little help making half a pie disappear.


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I'd like us to remain friends. There will likely be a time or two when I will need a shoulder to lean on, given the overwhelming number of projects I work on at any given moment.
I will feel content knowing you are there for me when the world becomes Too Much To Bear, and a finished pie is just minutes away.

Know that I still love you, but as a friend.

Marissa




Monday, November 23, 2009

Frenchboro Fun Fair 2009

If you weren't there...you missed all the fun.


The games:
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The baked sale: (and Cadin, going nuts at a handful of tickets being thrown into HIS jar. I'll explain in a minute...)
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The auctions:

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(Dude did NOT get the spelling gene. We're workin' on that. Also, his version of clean and mine are not even close.)


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marginally better. Good job, kid!

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Please note: my children were NOT under the influence of...anything.
I have no idea why they both have this look. The pictures weren't even taken at the same time.
My creation
maybe it was the paint fumes?

And then there were the contests. The Big Mouth Contests.
There were three groups, segregated by age.
First up, the little kids.
They had to stuff their mouths with grapes for 30 seconds. Then they spit them out, and Mr. F counted them.

(I stood by to do the heimlich if necessary. My kids are only recently allowed to eat grapes-choking hazard- and they are 6 and 8. My 'grape retrieving from trachea with no tools' skills do NOT need to be tested on a rock 8 miles out to sea, thankyouverymuch.)

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Look at the last picture. Can you tell who won?
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Ten grapes.


The Big Kid Contest:

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And the winner is:
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Winna, winna, chicken dinna! (name that movie...)

And then.. the BIG kid Contest:

Kids line up in anticipation.
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...and they're off!
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Who took home the trophy??

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Big Mouth on The Big Guy. Nice tonsils.
23 grapes.

And I embarrassed the heck out of this guy with an innocent comment I made.

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look, he's blushing!

And lastly, there was the Pie in the Face Contest. Each kid, and Mr. and Mrs. Finn, had a mason jar set out with their picture taped to it. We were told to place tickets in the jar of the person we most wanted to see take a pie to the face!

The kids spent a lot of their own money on this contest, trying to out-vote each other.
"You put one in my jar??!! Well, take that! I just put TWO in yours!"

Through the evening, we all added tickets to the jars. Finally, Mr/Mrs F counted out the votes.

We had an unexpected winner!
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Ahhhhh! He's seriously re-thinking this whole thing....
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But he's committed to the project. He 'Mans Up'.
Steeling himself for the pie (really just whipped cream)...
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And like Emeril says,

BAM!
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The pie-thrower was picked by lottery system. It could have been anybody who put a ticket in Cadin's jar.
I did NOT put a ticket in Cadin's jar. Not me.
I wouldn't do that to ya, kid!


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Takin' one for the team!
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What a good sport!


Now, I didn't notice this the night of the event. As I was going through the 400 pictures I took, I saw this sub-plot being played out before me...

Thing One, looking rather...distressed. This was taken around the time the name was being drawn for the pie contest. Last minute regret, maybe?
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She's questioning Mrs. Finn about the pie throwing details. Where will it land? How will he breathe? Is this a good idea?
Another kid shows some concern.
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Mrs. Finn knows the score. She knows me. (ocd)
She knows my kids. (kids of ocd mom)
She assures her all will be well.
"But Mrs. Finn, what if it gets all over the place?? What about his clothes and his hair??"
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It's not easy being the daughter of an obsessive clean freak.

Mrs. Finn has the patience of a Saint.

But check out the last picture:

Cadin's in one piece, lungs intact, just ever so slightly sticky...but look at the other two!

Can I translate the look on Thing One's face for you?

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"Oh My God I can't believe my Mother let that happen."

Seriously, her whole world was turned on its head that evening.
Now lest you think my kids are doomed to a lifetime of therapy...remember that The Big Guy is the antithesis of my clean-freak gene. We are the yin and the yang of dirt.
I don't know what that makes our offspring, but they sure are cute!

And I am so happy to announce that the kids not only met, but exceeded their fundraising goal.
They cleared seven hundred dollars that night!
$700.00!

They ordered the bike rack this morning, and when the details of their fundraising efforts were explained, they received a hundred dollar discount!
(My faith in humanity is bolstered a bit. Every little bit counts.)

The money leftover from their fundraising efforts will be put towards hockey equipment and materials to build their own snowshoes this winter.

Way to go, kids!!