I am thankful for time off.
I was blissfully unplugged from the interwebs (except for the odd foray in when I needed to look up Ricardo Montalban and Corinthian Leather in Wikipedia, of course) over the holiday break. But now I’m ready to catch up on my Reader and find out what you all have been up to!
I am thankful for my job, even though it gets in the way of my baby-ogling.
We gave our nanny, K, the week off as well, and so M and I got to spend oodles of quality time with G. Today as I’ve gone back to work, and relinquished my bundle of love back into the caring graces of K, it was hard not to shed a tear. I know that someday I’ll be praying for the holiday break to be over so that I can get “me” time again away from crazy kiddos (even if the “me” time is “work” time as well). But I’m not there yet. I’m definitely still in “Wait… we don’t really need money, do we? Can’t I just stop working and stay at home and stare at my child all day???” mode.
I am thankful for family, and snow that didn’t appear, making driving easy.
We had lovely holidays. We saw parents, we saw friends. We did NOT see snow on Christmas, which was a disappointment. As our Christmas Card this year said, I. was. told. there. would. be. snow.
Despite the lack of snow, we enjoyed being able to see both sides of our family on Christmas Day for the first time in years. There was driving involved, and the time spent with each was short, but it was, as that crazy woman Martha says, A Good Thing.
I am thankful for finding fun gifts to give, and for all the good things we received.
We enjoyed gifting, and receiving (heavier on the gifting side, and that suits us just fine). G got a few gifts but mercifully not too many, and only a few that needed to be modified in some way (I.E.: having batteries removed) so that they didn’t place M and I into a very special place in noisy-kids-toy-hell.
I am thankful for my kitchen.
We ended up spending a lot of time cooking and baking (and then, of course, eating).
I am thankful for rum.
Our first project was rum butter cakes to give away to friends and neighbors. I was inspired by the Effie Marie rum butter cakes that I remember being able to buy at Macy’s during the holidays when I was a teenager. They’re only available online now, but that’s fine as M and I are making a concerted effort to bake goods ourselves whenever it seems feasible. I found and used the recipe by Darla at Bakingdom, it being one of the few recipes I found that actually had substantial amounts of rum in it. We had to go purchase small bundt pans for the purpose, but as we’ll probably use them every year now in an effort to establish a family tradition, I don’t mind the expense too much. We made a slight addition to the recipe — we added dried currants to the batter (well, at least on our first test cake anyway, then we completely forgot about our good idea and all the other cakes were currantless, go fig).
Amongst the many advantages of making these cakes are:
1) Drinking rum while baking.
2) Drinking rum while glazing.
3) Eating leftover rum glaze.
4) Eating the first cake as a test.
5) Eating the parts of the other cakes that get cut off to make the bottoms of the cakes flat.
6) Did I mention rum?
7) A fanatical devotion to the pope.
As we’ve now finished eating our own first test cake, as well as all the cut-offs from the other cakes, we’re now cake-bereft. I think we’re going to take the last cake, which had been intended for a neighbor that we keep managing to miss when we’re handing out cakes, and eat it ourselves. The neighbor will never know the difference.
I am thankful for teeth, both mine and G’s.
The next project was homemade teething biscuits for G. I remember when I was pretty young my mom had bought these biscuits from Gerber that were a bit like dog biscuits, but were meant for teething babies.
As G is 8 teeth into chomperdom and appears to be teething up a storm in preparation for cutting a few more, I thought biscuits would be just the thing. After looking around at what’s commercially available, it seemed that this was another thing we could probably just make ourselves (and end up with something much healthier and less expensive). We decided to try the “Wholesome Wheat Cookies” here. They were super easy (especially with the kneading paddle on the KitchenAid ’cause I’m super lazy for someone who claims to enjoy baking). When baked they would look exactly like dog biscuits if I had shaped them that way… but as teething biscuits they’re better shaped as small stogie-like cylinders.
The first time I gave one to G he was in quite the teething tizzy and immediately perked up and mowed down on it. He got that thing back into where I suspect his molars (pre-molars?? what are baby molars called anyway?) are giving him fits. YUM! He ate the whole thing over the course of a couple of hours, which is no small feat when you see how rock hard these things are.
The second one I gave him he was so-so on. He decided it was much more fun to crawl around and paint household objects with the wet slobbery end. Exit that day’s cookie.
The third one I gave him he threw on the floor. Exit that day’s cookie.
Today, he gnawed on one for a split second before deciding to paint some more with it. I put it away for later. M and I got a couple of slices of rum cake (K is abstaining from the cake as she’s made a resolution to eat more healthily and my insistence that “just a bite” couldn’t really do any harm was met with staunch resolve, good for her!) and G looked hungrily on. As I don’t subscribe to the rum-is-good-for-teething school of parenting (at least, not for the baby you understand) G would not get cake… time to try the cookie again. This time he went at it just like it was the first time… and I was lucky enough to have the camera with me.
I am thankful for carbon dioxide.
Yes… there are, in fact, three taps installed in our kitchen sink that you can see behind G in that picture. See… I used to have a Coke problem. That’s Coca-Cola people. Sheesh.
At some point I realized that 8 a day was just really not good for me… but what to replace it with??? I figured out that a little bit of 100% fruit juice in a glass with club soda to fill gave me the perfect carbonated mouth feel, with just a touch of sweetness, and practically no calories or caffeine. The problem was that I was drinking 10 cans of club soda a day that way. Better for me… bad for M who had to lug around all those cans back and forth from Wegman’s.
We decided that making club soda at home really couldn’t be that hard… we’d just get a small keg, fill it with water, attach a carbon dioxide canister, pressurize, hook up a tap, and voila! Instant Club Soda! And… it worked! We put the keg and carbon gas in the basement, and fed a party tap up through the floor to under our kitchen sink, and then co-opted the hole where a soap dispenser used to live to give access for the party tap.
Then… then summer hit. And when the water wasn’t being kept naturally pretty chilly by our basement any more, it outgassed too quickly, and so our little party tap would simply belch big gaseous burps, and then dispense flat, tepid water.
M to the rescue! He bought a chest freezer, and modified it to use a temperature above freezing, but still pretty chilly. He installed it downstairs in the basement. We bought online a faucet with three taps (made in Italy, who knew?). M then further modified the chest freezer to allow food-safe plastic hoses to travel through it, and a small pump to pump cold air up through the lines so that the soda sitting in the lines (and the faucet itself) wouldn’t get too warm. Yes, M is awesome, and that chest freezer is now basically a kegerator that holds 3 corny kegs.
Well… after all that work just for club soda, M decided he may as well brew beer. So, we often have club soda on one tap, and two different homemade brews on the other two. Did I mention M is awesome?
Back to the food… I am thankful for dry-aged beef.
To celebrate on New Year’s Eve, we bought a large dry-aged t-bone steak and some sea scallops with which to make ourselves surf and turf. M made his no knead bread as well, and we had green beans. We grilled the t-bone on the grill in the back yard. The green beans I steamed in the microwave, and then set aside. While the steak was grilling I sauteed shallots and bacon in nice hot olive oil. When the steak came off the grill to rest, I removed the bacon and shallots from the pan (saving them of course, you don’t want that to go to waste!!!) and pan-seared the scallops. Lastly I plated up the food and tossed the green beans in the bacon and shallots, and we cut open the fresh loaf of bread. We had a Honig 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon to go with.
After dinner we took a walk to a local cafe and had dessert — salty caramel gelato, a berry crumble tartlet, and G enjoyed a lemon-spice cupcake.
The walk home past young drunk silly people was festive and fun. The weather was cold, but, there being no snow, it wasn’t really that bad and we enjoyed remembering the misspent New Year’s Eves of our youth as we pushed G along in his stroller.
G fell asleep just as we were approaching the house, so we left him to nap in another room while M and I cuddled on the couch and caught a hockey game. We watched the ball drop at midnight, kissed each other and just sat still and quiet for a moment, and then watched the rest of the hockey game (our team lost, grrr… but that couldn’t mess up our lovely night). After that G woke up enough for us to entertain him mightily by brushing our teeth.
Then we wished him his first Happy New Year, and went to bed.
I am thankful for this new year. I hope it brings good things to you all.