Sunday Afternoon Movie–Blahs Cure?

Pecks Bad Boy With the Circus

Peck's Bsd Boy With the Circus from Alpha Video

I need a cure for the Sunday afternoon Blahs.  “Droop Along Droopey” has started to play in my head.  Today, it seems to be worse than usual.   Wavy(12) and Zowie(10) have are half heartedly picking through the video games.   They look bored, though I know they wouldn’t actually say it.  My husband seems to be wandering aimlessly around the house.

I took a look, their rooms are tidy, their beds are changed, their clothes are set for next week.  Well, with the exception of one more load of dark blue/black shorts and shirts.  Usually, I’d suggest a walk, but nobody wants to go outside.  It’s really windy and rain is coming.  We had a late lunch that was our big meal for the day.   Nothing constructive to direct them toward seems to come to mind.

Of course, building family time is always constructive.

So, I go into my secret stash of DVDs and pull out something.  I’ve often found that offbeat or old movies can really get the family back on the same wavelength.    Sometimes we pause a movie several times to let somebody do show their spark.  That’s what I call it when one of the kids feels the need to re-enact something with their own little twist.  I have incredible memories of my kids jumping up to show their spark.

I picked  Peck’s Bad Boy With the Circus.  I haven’t seen it in years.   I’m going to put it on and see if I can lure them into laughing together.  The movie description sounds promising.

Peck’s Bad Boy With the Circus
When his parents leave for a fishing trip.  Billy (Tommy Kelly, star of George Cukor’s 1938 film The Adventures of Tom Sawyer) and his scruffy gang of neighborhood pals make a beeline for the traveling circus that just arrived in Bloomfield.  Fascinated with circus life, Billy wrangles his way behind the scenes for a series of fast paced adventures under the big top.  The rivalries, practical jokes, and sneaky tricks that the troupe is prone to quickly catch up with Billy.
Peck’s Bad Boy With the Circus features Spanky McFarland as Pee Wee, making a rare appearance outside of the Our Gang series.  Slapstick veterans Edgar Kennedy (doing his famous “slow burn”) and Billy Gilbert are given plenty of opportunities to perform their patented vaudeville humor.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Glühwein

Reminds me of cold December evenings in Germany, strolling around Weihnachtsmarkt (or the Münchner Christkindlmarkt in Bayern) here is a rezept (recipe) for some lovely, red Glühwein that tastes remarkably similar to that I had in Germany.

Glühwein
1 cup orange juice
2/3 – 3/4 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
10 whole cloves
1 orange, cut into quarters, peel and all (optional)
1 – 750ml bottle of Merlot (I use the Oak Leaf stuff at Walmart, under three bucks a bottle. I’ve tried others, but come back to this because it TASTES more like the German Glühwein I had)

Put everything but the wine into a 3-quart saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring til the sugar dissolves. Let it boil for a minute or two. Turn off the heat and let the syrup cool. When cool, remove the ‘hunks’ from the syrup.
Now, pour in the wine and heat-through and enjoy!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Superb boning knife, Dexter V-lo®

My favorite boning knife is the Dexter V-lo® 6 inch boning knife. No matter how slick and icky your hand gets, the grip feels solid.   I did sharpen the back side of the tip for about 1/2 inch , though and round the tip just a tiny smidge. That makes it much easier to work your way around to de-bone a small bird or follow the bones down to clear the tendon and pull it out along with the bone for de-boning legs to stuff them. I do a lot of stuffed chicken legs. . . my kids have always loved them.

Here’s a picture . . . isn’t it pretty?  It holds an edge very well, sharpens easily too.
And it was under $25.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Answers to the Holiday Drama Qs.

So much drama over holiday commitments and family events.  Well,  I did ASK if people wanted help with maintaining harmony and sanity for holiday gatherings.   I had no idea that the questions would be so . . . loaded.

Questions loaded with shattered expectations, resentments, and dread!   More than anything, lots of people with  so much unnecessary drama and angst.

So, From Gladtobemom, some ROUGH LOVE:

  1. If you are planning on giving a party, don’t ASSUME.  This one small thing will save your family (and you) mountains of angst and drama.  Send out invites, and plan your feast or event based on the acceptance replies.   Make sure you give the date, time, location, duration, and attire.  If you say, “come as you are” then you’d better MEAN IT.  I suggest listing attire as “party casual” if it’s family.Be polite, reasonable, and a little flexible.   Try to make sure that the diet restricted have the food groups covered too–take them up on offered casseroles, etc.  The first year they might giggle a little.
  2. If you are attending an event, treat holiday meals like any other party.  Get an invitation . . . reply promptly (RSVP), then STICK to what your commitment!If you are bringing a “plus one” then make sure your host/hostess knows about it. If the “plus one” is a “plus three” because two of them are his/her kids. . . make sure that information is in your response.If there are REAL dietary restrictions (as in you will get SICK or go into Anaphylactic shock) then put that the requirements in your RSVP.   For instance, if you are violently allergic to shellfish or walnuts or somesuch.  If you are a vegetarian or have some restriction-by-choice. . . mention it and offer to bring a dish.
  3. Even though I say, “never assume,” don’t be unkind. If your are pretty sure that you are expected somewhere (like your mom’s or grandmother’s) then make sure you get things straight with them well in advance.  Send them a note. You can ease them into YOUR adulthood by being scrupulously polite, yourself.
  4. Show up on time with your party manners ON! A hostess gift is always a good idea–something consumable is good.  Stay until the meal is over and offer to help.  Be personable and friendly; it’s only a few hours, surely you can survive that.
  5. Send a thank you note.  YES, I really said that, put three lines on a card and send it with a STAMP.   Try this:
    Dear (whoever invited me),
    I wanted to write a note to thank you for the
    wonderful meal.  The dinner was outstanding.
    I am very grateful for this holiday memory.
    Love,
    [or Sincerely, if it's not to family]
  6. Dress appropriately. If the invite was “party casual” that means nice unrumpled.   It means long pants (in good shape) and collar shirts or nice sweater for guys; it means that a nice outfit or dress for girls.  If you are under 25, then expect to sit on the floor at some point.Unless your invitation says “Fetish Attire Okay,” don’t show up in a cod piece or with your thong hanging out above your ripped-off waistband jeans!  Sweatsuits, boob shirts, hot pants, butt-ripped jeans, and muscle shirts are not holiday party attire . . . ever.Don’t dress to seduce, shock, impress, or repulse.  Remember, if you show up dressed to attract attention and comments.  So don’t act defensive and insulted if you ignore this advice.
  7. Behave! EVERYBODY. Be friendly, patient, kind, and generous.
    Don’t pull out subjects from the past that have caused arguments. If you feel something working its way out . . . stick some food in your mouth and CHEW.
  8. Come on people . . . give ‘em a chance to adjust.  Don’t just push them all together and light the fuse! Don’t make unexpected announcements, holiday gatherings are just NOT a good time, trust me.   Here are just a few announcements that people wrote in about.
    –Parents are getting a divorce.
    –Grandparents are getting a divorce.
    –Grandpa is marrying the new woman that nobody’s ever met.
    –Mom’s marrying the Next door neighbor (next door neighbor’s wife left him).
    –Sister’s left college to accept a job at the “Bunny Ranch” in Nevada.
    –Daughter’s getting married to new guy and converting to some other religion.
    –Dad’s marrying the pregnant babysitter, the divorce was final 4 days ago, the wedding’s on New Year’s.

Now for some specifics:

  1. No, your Aunt Frieda was NOT being rude when she asked you to lift your shirt to show her the rest of the tattoo. You came showing half of it . . . she was just curious and it is on your back. Come on. . . she’s an old lady, give her a thrill.
  2. Your grandfather was NOT trying to insult you.   Accept it for that. He didn’t say you looked like an Ihop roof. . . he said, “I like your blue hair.”  Now go apologize to him for dumping the soup in his lap . . . that was NOT nice.
  3. Your dad is never going to be comfortable with his daughter dressed like that. Be honest, you dressed to shock them and you DID.   Mission accomplished, if your mission was to become the butt of the joke that will get told every year for decades.   “Oh my gosh, do you remember that year you wore . . . “
  4. Did you really think it was fair to show up with someone they’d never met without any warning at all?  It was unfair to your girlfriend and unfair to your family. Your girlfriend was in tears because she had no idea what was going on.  Last they heard you were engaged to a DIFFERENT young lady . . . they didn’t have a chance to adjust. You were surprised when the were lest than graceful?  This is NOT their fault, it’s YOURS.
  5. Your grown, independent, children have every right to make other plans for Thanksgiving.  They DID invite you to Christmas Eve open house, midnight Mass, and to stay for Christmas day. Quit trying to make them feel guilty . . . it will not prove endearing.Call your church, your friends, have a quiet day with a pile of videos and some yummy food.  Volunteer at the homeless shelter or at a women’s shelter. PLAN something of your own.
  6. If you show up with a new hole in your face . . . well, they are going to say something.   I can totally see how a 10 year old would wonder if your food would come out the hole in your lip.  He was curious . . . so answer him and move on. Don’t turn it into a big thing. Yes it’s YOU that turned it into a big thing. If you didn’t want them to say something, you could have left out the ring for the event.
  7. Green IS an unusual hair color. Why is it wrong for your mom to say that out loud?  She didn’t say it was awful; she just said it was new and unusual. I think, as blurts go, this one shows restraint.
  8. When your grandmother told you to be careful of piercers and tattooists . . . that you have to watch out and make sure you don’t get Hepatitis, I imagine she was talking based on reading or seeing something on TV.  She sounded curious and kind of kitschy to me. Maybe you could get her opinion on the artwork?
  9. If you have had a life change and are not ready to talk about it.  Don’t! Don’t titillate bored people with little bits, then shut them down. That’s not nice. Look at it this way, they’re old, bored, and want to know about stuff.  They will grab onto the tiniest tip of juicy news and chew it right out of you.
  10. This is the first time you’ve not gone to your mom’s for a holiday.  Of course she’s disappointed. You did it right, two weeks in advance. Don’t give in and let her guilt you. Send her an IN WRITING invite for a nice lunch with you for another time. BOUNDARIES . . . hug her, explain, but stick to your boundaries. Your wife’s family DESERVES a holiday once in a while. (This is the first time in six years of marriage that they were going to the wife’s family.
  11. When your son-in-law says, “I’m fine,” it means he does not want any more of whatever it is. He doesn’t want to change anything at all.
    “I’m fine,” does not mean that he wants to be dragged out to see the bee hives and get his manhood tested. Truth be told, even Clint Eastwood would scream like a girl if bees were crawling on him.
  12. Dear holiday cook, you are not the Captain of the Food Police or the Chairman of the Clean Plate Club. Keep your mouth off people’s choices or what they leave behind on their plates.
    If you must, stick to this sentence, “I hope everyone can try a bite of everything. Enjoy your meal.” Don’t push food onto people’s plates–you’ll then feel bad because they leave it behind. Just don’t do that to yourself.

This is only a small subset.  Reading thise was a real eye opener.

OVERWHELMINGLY, these included rants by 15-25 year olds. Most of them involved “springing” something on their family. A new guy, tattoos, piercings, fetish clothing, dropped out, dropped in, change of career, change of mate, etc. Some of them came with pictures of outfits.

The rest mostly involved parents that just assume their children are coming without ever inviting them.   Or whining parents/grandparents that feel abandoned because their kids have married and they’ve “lost” half of the holidays.

Enjoy the holidays . . . and don’t forget the Thank You Notes.

Posted in Answers, Family Sanity | 8 Comments

Lemon Soufflé Cloudcakes

Vic Vicini's Pancakes with bananas and blueberries.

Cloudcakes are pancakes made from a soufflé type batter that gets its lift from whipped egg whites.   This luscious dish has no baking powder or biscuitty tasting leavening, just flavorful crusty goodness on the outside and feather light flavor on the inside.

I learned this recipe years ago from Bettylou DeMarco.   She was a great mom, a nurse, and a gifted Italian cook.   I remember her telling me that since two pancakes had an entire egg and some whole milk cheese in them . . . so she counted them as a protein, half a dairy, and a grain serving–so add some fruit and a little more milk and they are a whole meal.

The painting on this page belongs to my daughter.  It looks exactly like her favorite Cloudcakes with bananas, blueberries, and lemon syrup.    Vic Vicini is a very talented American artist.  His paintings are mesmerizing . . . and appetizing.

These Cloudcakes have it all.  They are very nutritious and yet they are a real treat–light as a feather and yet satisfying,   They are also easy to make.

I’ll also include the recipe for the Lemon Windowpane Syrup, which is just a light lemony simple syrup that is useful for all sorts of things.

Cloudcakes

Tools:
measuring cups/spoons  (1 c, 1/3 c, 1 tsp)
3+ quart bowl to whip egg whites, should be steel, copper, or glass (no plastic), must be scrupulously free of any oils or soap . . . wipe it out with a little white vinegar. 
balloon whisk or electric mixer (mixer highly recommended)
citrus zester (I prefer a microplane grater / zester)
large mixing bowl for batter
large mixing spatula (for folding in egg whites)
ladle or disher
griddle, electric skillet, or a couple of flat bottomed skillets on the stove (need infrared thermometer for the top of the stove ones)
pancake turning spatula

Wipe the inside of your egg whipping bowl with a spoon full of white vinegar dry it well with a small piece of paper towel.  This will make sure that your egg whites will achieve maximum volume.

Separate
12 medium or 11 large eggs
putting the whites in the whipping bowl and the yolks in the batter bowl.
Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks.

To the batter bowl, add
1 1/3 cups sifted all purpose flour (Can replace half of it with fine ground whole wheat).
14-15 ounces of ricotta cheese (cottage cheese is OK, mascarpone is ok too but they will be more tender.
1/3 cup melted butter
1 scant teaspoon of salt
1/3 cup sugar (superfine is best)
Zest of 2 medium lemons or 1 teaspoon Adam’s Best vanilla
Use a mixer and beat for about 1-2 minutes on medium until smooth.

Stir about
1/3 of the egg whites
into the batter with a large flat spatula.   You don’t have to be super gentle, the idea is to lighten the batter so the later addition of egg whites won’t deflate. 

Put the
rest of the whipped egg whites
on top of the batter and carefully cut them in.
Use the spatula to carve a line right down the middle to the bottom of the bowl, then scrape to one side and lift up and fold over the batter onto the whites.
Turn the bowl a quarter turn. 
When the egg whites are just incorporated stop . . . don’t over mix.  It’s okay if you still see some pea sized lumps of egg white.

Heat your griddle to “pancake temperature” of about 375 f, then lower it to 350-360 for the actual cooking.   (I use an infrared thermometer, got it on Amazon and it’s my new favorite tool.)

If your griddle is a new really good non stick one (mine is T-fal and nothing sticks) then I find no oil is necessary.  If not, or if you choose, you give your cooking surface a misting of neutral oil or cooking spray.   For this kind of thing I use an oil mister with canola oil or I mix half butter and half canola oil to paint on the surface with a brush.  

Use a ladle to spoon the thick batter onto the griddle in equal amounts.  This recipe will make about 22-26 pancakes with a 4 ounce ladle/disher.

Let the pancakes cook until the first side is light brown . . . you will see them grow, but they don’t produce popping bubbles like baking powder pancakes.  Turn them and cook the other side.  On my griddle set at 360, they take about 3.5 – 4 minutes on the first side and about 3 minutes on the second side.

Serve with fruit.  We like them with bananas and blueberries most, but strawberries are nice too.   I’ve also added toasted pecans–they do tend to sink to the bottom, but they taste great.

———————–

Lemon Windowpane Syrup

Squeeze two lemons into a small non-reactive pan.  It should be about
3/4 cup of lemon juice
Add
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1/4 cup water
1 small pinch of salt
to the pan.  Stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.
Raise heat and allow it to boil for about 4 minutes, until it coats the back of a wooden spoon.

Let it cool a bit and you will have a thin lemony syrup that is almost clear as a windowpane.
Another option, if you like a less intense syrup with a little more body, then , you can add just mix in little water and thickener.
In a small cup mix
1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch
1/4 cup of water
add it to the syrup and let it cook a little more.  This will both thicken the syrup and give it less of a sour whang.

Note: the small pinch of salt counteracts any bitterness in the lemon.

This syrup is wonderful on pancakes, waffles, or over a well-poked pound cake.  (Just poke the cake with a skewer or long meat fork many times, then the syrup will soak into the cake).


Posted in Food | 2 Comments

Truly, I am glad to be mom!

Gladtobemom is not just an Avatar name for me; it is a moniker I acquired years ago.  This came about because of my unsinkable enjoyment of motherhood in defiance of people who seemed to think I should be resentful.

I was a smart girl that received many opportunities because of my abilities–a fortunate young lady, indeed.   This led to a lot of people that seemed to think they had some sort of stake in me reaching their notion of my potential.

It was a very rude surprise to those “stakeholders” in my life that I wanted to be a wife and mother.  In fact, I wanted to be a real  M.O.M (mother of many).    When I married and became pregnant, I was suddenly a failure.  The disapproval was really nasty.

As my belly grew, so did the criticism.  I was supposed to be resentful and regretful.  I was supposed to be sad.  I was not sad at all, I was glad.  That made them really mad.  My own mother told me that pregnancy was a parasite sucking the life out of a woman–life she’d never get back.

I had one friend that was a happy mother.  When we were shopping in the university’s book store, we saw these really huge windbreaker jackets.  They were HUGE, big enough to hold my belly no matter how big it grew, and long enough to sit on.

I joked that I should get “Still in school” put on the back.  We agreed that it seemed very out of fashion to be glad to be mom.  She said I should get Glad to Be Mom on the back of my jacket.   The only way it would fit was to get GladtobeMom as one big word.

I wore that jacket often, I could wear it over my bag in the rain. I could put my baby in a front pack and still snap it to keep us warm.  It was brightly colored, so it even made it easy for the kids to find me when they got older.

When I started tiptoeing out onto the internet as myself (instead of the professional engineering me), it seemed only natural to be Gladtobemom.  So . . . that became the online me.  I joined forums and always seemed to pick it as my name.   So . . . If you want to know if a “Gladtobemom” out there on the web is me, just ask and I’ll tell you if that is me.

Even after nearly 30 years, I am, and always will be, Glad to be Mom.

Posted in Life Happens | 12 Comments