Saturday, February 26, 2011

Food

Food. Here's the thing,  I self-medicate with food. Reading about food. Shopping for food. Cooking food. And of course, eating food.  When the everyday stress of stomping feet, slamming doors, piles of laundry, broken dryers, and a working-away-from home husband pile up on me... I either shut down and tell them to make themselves peanut butter sandwich, or I create food. I create something I have control over. I look in my cupboard and dream something up with a little of this, a little of that, and somehow, out of nowhere, something delicious appears. Something good. Something wonderful. Something to enjoy. Something to savor. Something I'm good at. And usually, something to share.  When I'm missing my friends and my heart is aching, my eyes are full, and I can't curl up in Ry's arms... I either curl up in bed and try to stay there forever... or I bake. I cook. I create. And while I do, I think. I process. I unravel the strings wrapped around my heart. I untie the knots in my head. And while I have something to focus on that I love to do... my heart doesn't hurt so much for a minute.

Sometimes food is the way I say "I love you."  Sometimes it's the way I say, "I care."  Sometimes it's the way I say "I'm listening."  And sometimes it's the way I say "I'm there."

And sometimes, it just looks good and I don't need a reason to eat it. :)

For tonight though, polenta said I'm missing Ry. Marinara said I'm missing my sisters and my friends.  And chicken was just the easiest thing to cook:) While I cooked, I thought of Belinda. Ephriam and his baby sisters. And I tried to sort out why it's all connected to what's been going on lately with Baby Tori. Vicki. Katie's Oliver. Val. Broken friendships. Memories that hurt. And friendships that heal.

I also wanted to make a good meal for my sweet chili peppers. Mom's been working a lot lately, and they already had "make your own sandwiches" for lunch. I wanted to make them a real meal.

Overall, the meal was delicious, and the only thing missing was a dob of sour cream (I am my mother's daughter) and a garnish of fresh basil.  At least that's what I tried to tell myself.

The real thing missing was Vicki. Alina. Val. Joe. Elizabeth. Danielle. Katie. Travis. Zach. Manda. Ellen. Nan. Belinda. Ephriam. Kristine. Mike. Pheobee. Faith.  And of course, Ry.

Don't ask me how you are all woven together, and don't ask me why your name isn't on this list. It's not because I don't love you, it's because I'm processing through a lot of stuff and you're not in the current tangle of fresh experiences, old memories, lingering heartaches, or hopeful prayers and wishes.

Anyway, enjoy the recipes.

Polenta with Garlic Chicken, Marinara, and Asiago
In a non-stick 4 quart pan, boil 2 cups chicken broth, 2 cups water while you saute 1/2 and onion and a clove of minced garlic in 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add the garlic and onions to the broth mix, and add 1/4-1/2 tsp seasoning salt. Slowly whisk in 1 3/4 cups coarse ground cornmeal, and then add 3 Tbsp butter to keep it from going lumpy.  Cover, reduce heat to low and stir every 5-10 minutes for the next 45 minutes until it is creamy and thick. Add 2 oz cream cheese and stir it in thoroughly. Pour into 2 buttered pie plates and place in the freezer or fridge to cool and setup. When it is set, pull it out, and pan fry it in a hot pan with lots of butter til it has a nice golden crust. (Flip it carefully.)


Pan fry some chicken breasts with garlic and herb seasoning... or fresh garlic, a dash of salt and pepper. Open your favorite brand of marinara sauce and simmer the chicken in it while the polenta cools.  (Mine is Angela Mia's... but you probably can't find it at the store.)


Serve the polenta with the chicken and marinara on top, a dollop of sour cream, sprinkle of asiago, and a garnish of fresh basil.


Eat, and enjoy.


Preferably with friends.

Dishes, Laundry, and Dinner

Stomp. Stomp. Stomp. Stomp. Stomp.

SLAM!

That's the sound of love coming from my 11 year old right now.

Get the dishes done, or go to bed. That's all I asked. Dishes that I've been asking you to do since 5:00.  Dishes that you should have had done this morning without me asking.  Dishes that are piling up even worse because you won't get them done. Dishes you only have to do two days a week!

No. Stomping and slamming doors is soooo much better than just getting the job done.

Am I asking too much of my kids?  Are they better off just doing nothing around the house and me not having to deal with slamming doors? Sometimes I wonder. Please tell me I'm not the only Mom who deals with this.


Anyway....

Socks. Socks on my hands, that's the trick to doing laundry.  Has been since I was little.  I know, you can start laughing now at the mental picture you just formed in your head.  Me with mismatched socks on my hands bumbling around in the laundry room,  head cocked to one side as I try pathetically to remember which one is the washer and which is the dryer. Disoriented stutters as I try to sort darks and lights.

Well, thankfully it's not that bad. Really. At least not most days :)

I just can't handle the thought of sticking my hands into the laundry hamper and having the germs clobber me as I load the dirty clothes into the washer. Given the smelly treasure we found in the load of little boys pants we washed yesterday, I probably have good reason for that phobia. So, I put clean socks onto my hands as I reach into the hamper and throw the laundry in.Then I throw the socks in too.

Well, the dryer isn't working right now, so despite the rainy weather, we have laundry hanging from baskets, couches, chairs, and whatever else we can find all over the house while we wait for it to dry.  Fun times!

... Not really. There are times when being here alone without my handyman Ryan to fix everything really stinks. Literally. After all, 7 kids create dirty laundry faster than the clean laundry can airdry. That's all I'll say.


And the last thing on my mind right now, but not the least, are my friends. My anxious heart. And my choice of self-medication. Which leads me to dinner.   What???

Yes, Dinner.  (Come on now, keep up with me!)

But, I'll post separately for that. This is too long already. :)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

As you walk through the front door of my house, the window will rattle as the door slams shut, which is the only way it will close is if it is slammed. The dining table has sticky handprints and oatmeal crumbles left from breakfast. There are bowls of half eaten ramen noodles left from dinner (the third or fourth time the kids have had ramen in the past week). On the side table, there is a case of marinara sauce that has been sitting for a while now. Looking off to the left you'll see a big blue couchbed thing that has been in my family room for the past two months, waiting to be hauled downstairs. Walking into the kitchen you would think that the dishes haven't been done for a week or so... not true.  They were done yesterday morning. At least I think they were. Still, the counter is full of stacks of used cereal bowls and the sink has a collection of unwashed forks, spoons, and pans.

The little breakfast room has a random and unsettling collection of grocery odds and ends yet to be put away.  Cans of soup, a large package of noodles, and three number ten cans of refried beans dot the table and although you can tell we aren't starving, the question begs... why hasn't all this been put away?

The collection of coats along the pathway to the stairs leading up to the kids' rooms suggest we haven't needed them for a few days, which is true - the weather has been lovely!  We won't discuss the kids rooms, or my room.  Suffice it to say they could use a bit of straightening. The laundry room? Frightening.

The taxes are halfway finished, will require a long day of concentration plus one semi short visit to an accountant, and hopefully I can have them wrapped up before too long. Are they done yet?  No.

Meals at my house have been haphazard at best, though Ryan did make Root Beer Pork on Sunday and our weekend guests didn't go home unfed. If the trail of half eaten bites of hot dogs leading to my bedroom or the breadcrumbs all over my bed have any tale to tell, they'd say the kids are eating well enough for now at least. The mashed berries I wiped up off my carpet today say they are getting a variety of food besides ramen too, so I won't feel too guilty, yet. Still, it's time I put together some real meals.  Did I get them made today?  No.  Of course not.

So then if the taxes aren't done, the kids are making their own meals, the house isn't clean, and the van still hasn't been washed or vaccumed,  what DID I do?

I'll tell you.

I slept in til 6:30 and then took Ryan to work in St. George. I enjoyed breakfast with my kids and curled up in bed, chilly and apparently still exhausted from yesterday. I slept, slept, and slept some more.

I rocked my baby Jonnie, who isn't much of a baby anymore, until he fell asleep in my arms. And then, I rocked him some more. I talked with Braelin while Jonnie slept, helped Ty log on to his schoolwork online, and popped onto Facebook for a bit too -- lame, I know.

I walked to get the girls from school. I talked with Tyler as we walked. I played with Jonnie on the slide.  I laughed with my girls while we happily walked home. Taliesin showed me the homework he was working on, while Mercy flopped down on the blue couchbed thing to take a much needed nap. I sang the Monkey Song with Braelin. I got Jonnie some milk in his cup.  And then, I went to pick up Ry and spend some time with him.

We talked, I cried. We shared Cafe Rio on the patio, and watched a movie afterward.  When we came home, the kids were already sleeping, curled up in bed on time for once - just like I'd asked.

The house will get cleaned up, tomorrow probably. The groceries will get organized in the pantry, and the dishes washed and put away. I'll throw something in the crockpot before I go to work, and Ryan will make sure they get dinner when he comes home.

For today, I'm glad I didn't clean. Glad I didn't cook. No taxes got done. Instead, I enjoyed my babies... and my man.

Life is good. Sometimes messy, but life is good.
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