Commonplace Book, 39 (Week 36)

What is a commonplace book? For me, this is a space where I post interesting links, reflections on what I’m reading, and the newest recipes I’ve been trying out — a collection of miscellaneous micro-posts.

What I’m fixing:

  • I forgot to mention last week I FINALLY BRAVED THE INSTANT POT. And by “I,” I mean, a friend sent me a recipe for which I had all the ingredients, then I waited for J to get home from work and made him do all the seal stuff. The result was Indian butter chicken so good J proclaimed it better than anything I’ve ever made in the slow cooker (should I be offended, y/n) but also almost ended with us giving Scout steam burns. So. I’ll probably use it again but keep making J operate the pressure cooker bit.
  • BEEF WEEK. J bought us a quarter of a cow and brought home the goods Sunday, so we’ve been eating all beef all the time to celebrate. (And, you know, build my iron for childbirth? Can we justify it that way?) So far, I’ve made:
    • Taco salad: My MIL makes this for us. I used her recommendations of kidney beans and Catalina dressing, skipped tomatoes and sour cream, and used a slaw we had because I knew we’d have leftovers, and I don’t love wilted romaine.
    • Beef daube provencal: another recipe from the Indian butter chicken friend! Mine was the lazy third trimester version: no searing (does that even make a difference?! The jury seems to be out), slow cooker, dried spices. Also, I did not use the recommended wine because it cost $45. So much for a “princely dinner.” I’ll settle for a ducal dish with wine my sister homebrewed us last winter.
    • Best ever meatloaf with balsamic vinegar glaze: Because vinegar makes everything fancy. It’s basically BBQ sauce in the end, but SO GOOD.

What I’m reading:

  • I finished Gilead and as usual was left not knowing what to share. It’s all so perfect, right? I could copy out about 80% of it, the rest being bits I still don’t understand. Abbey wrote me out passages of encouragement for labor and the newborn days, and that’s even better, because it saves my waffling.
  • Ina May’s Guide to ChildbirthI still haven’t reread my Bradley book, but this one is helping me get in the zone just the same — some of the mantras from Spiritual Midwifery really helped me in Pippin’s labor. It’s ridiculous, and then I’m sure I’ll go into labor every night when I go to bed, but I’m hoping it’ll stick with me, even if I have another lightning fast labor.
  • O Pioneers! This is my third Willa Cather, and I’m really loving diving back into her peaceful world — it may be the gentlest transition from Gilead possible.

This time last year:

  • Rethinking Running: which you will perhaps be unsurprised to learn I have not rethought it in, you know, 36 weeks.
Getting a lot of mileage these days from park leaves
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Commonplace Book, 38 (Week 35)

What is a commonplace book? For me, this is a space where I post interesting links, reflections on what I’m reading, and the newest recipes I’ve been trying out — a collection of miscellaneous micro-posts.

What I’m fixing:

Almost Certainly Inauthentic St. Michael’s Bannock

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 c all purpose flour flour
  • 1/4 c old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 c rye flour
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 scant c cream + 1 Tbsp plain white vinegar (to make buttermilk substitute)
  • handful of raisins — I used a mix.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine dry ingredients. Cut in cold butter as you would biscuits – with a pastry knife, two forks, or your fingers. Add buttermilk mixture. Mix until mostly combined. On a floured surface, knead the dough until smooth, then pat into an 8 inch round loaf, and bake on a greased cookie sheet for 40 minutes.

  • You can put french fries in the bottom of your frittata and it’s pretty good. This has been a third trimester PSA.
  • You can put olive tapenade on frozen cheese pizza and it’s also pretty good. This has been a third trimester PSA.
  • Things are rapidly degenerating here on the culinary front, obviously.

What I’m reading:

  • Baby’s cells can manipulate mom’s body for decades. Even with the potentially creepy sibling ramifications at the bottom of this piece, I just find the idea so comforting: that however briefly you get to know your child earthside, she stays a part of you. That even when your child is totally exasperating you and you feel such distance, you still carry evidence of him in your body. It’s beautiful, and worth remembering this month, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
  • Vindication! Study says parents aren’t to blame for picky eaters.
  • The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings, which was given to us as a gift from Scout’s godparents last fall, and which we started to read aloud to each other, but then I got pregnant and sleepy (story of my life). Now I’m listening to it on Audible, and while there isn’t a lot that is revolutionary for me, Inklings nerd that I am, the passages on Oxford are dreamy and it’s nice to use my brain, at least moderately, in this sleepy chapter of life when I’m often reaching for the remote or just going straight to bed.
This is what happens when you take a nap and neglect the ciabatta dough.

Commonplace Book, 37 (Week 34)

What is a commonplace book? For me, this is a space where I post interesting links, reflections on what I’m reading, and the newest recipes I’ve been trying out — a collection of miscellaneous micro-posts.

What I’m fixing:

  • Ciabatta Pizza. I make good ciabatta. Everyone likes pizza. Which my family should have loved, but one kid wouldn’t try it and one didn’t like it. But you know what? That meant we grownups had enough leftovers that I didn’t have to cook the next day (and I could doctor it with kid-unapproved soppressata), so I’m going to count that as a win. Sort of. Picky eaters, phew.
  • Chicken pot pie. I thought this would be a good idea because it’s delicious and I needed to double a recipe for a friend with a newborn, but also I got v nervous halfway through since I went into labor with Scout on a day I was on my feet for hours making chicken pot pie. That time, the chicken pot pie was the first thing I was making to freeze for a postpartum stash, and it was undersalted with undercooked vegetables, and it seemed like we ate it for weeks after Scout’s arrival. Ugh. Ridiculous, I know, but I could breathe a little easier this time when it was all done, and it was good, after all. I use this recipe as a sort of basis, but change up a lot: I roast vegetables that look good (this time potatoes, carrots and mushrooms), often use rotisserie chicken, sub homemade stock if I’ve got it, etc.

What I’m reading:

  • I FINISHED MIDDLEMARCH. And it was good! I enjoyed it infinitely more than my endless reread of Brothers Karamazov. I don’t know that I will ever seek out George Eliot as fun, comfort reading as I do Jane Austen (not that she doesn’t have very wise and severe things to say herself, just that the huge scope and cast of Mm felt more demanding), but I also don’t think I’ll easily forget it, especially some of the truths mentioned here. (h/t Dominika, maybe? My brain is cheerios.)
  • The Catholic Table. I might write more about it later, especially as book club discusses it and those ladies bring their sage insights, but I’ve already done a little reflecting on it.
  • An Everlasting Meal. I’m not sure I’m an unpicky enough eater for this one (don’t talk to me about tongue, pls), but I enjoy many passages, which are almost Annie Dillard-y. But we disagree on food safety:

“No bacterial treachery lurks in vegetables once they have spent some time other than in the refrigerator or oven. Nor does it necessarily in anything that is a few days old, or spends the night on your counter. … I am fairly sure he wasn’t right, and I am completely confident he was spiritually wrong.”

I can’t help my indoctrination on food safety.

  • Gileadmy third go round. If I copied out all the passages I loved and savored, this would be a Gilead appreciation blog. But seriously. So good. It’s making me a better mother while my children appear to go through simultaneous pregnancy-related (?) regressions.

Last year I was thinking about:

  • Determining one’s trademark food — what one is known for serving or gifting.
Absolutely a standard uniform for him these days

Commonplace Book, 36 (Week 31)

What is a commonplace book? For me, this is a space where I post interesting links, reflections on what I’m reading, and the newest recipes I’ve been trying out — a collection of miscellaneous micro-posts.

What I’m fixing:

  • Refried Black Bean Soup: Note: it looks sinister in prep. It looks a little better when you’re done, but mostly like sludge. Delicious, delicious sludge.

 

 

Yum. Right?

 

 

  • Slow Cooker Breakfast Casserole: I made some rookie mistakes that made it salty: I used too many pre-seasoned hash browns and subbed breakfast sausage for plain bulk sausage, which I couldn’t find. But it was still a small miracle: a food-safe, hot, hearty breakfast ready for a breakfast potluck right when I woke up. Highly recommend, just follow the recipe more carefully than I did!
  • Elephant ears. We are baking something most weeks for Police Preschool to fit with the letter of the week (last week was dog biscuits) and WHY CAN’T I MAKE ELEPHANT EARS? They are puff pastry, sugar and cinnamon, rolled out and baked. I’d say I’m an intermediate baker and these are categorized as easy and we ended up with kids wildly gobbling sugar and the dough not slicing as thinly as I wanted and not a single convincingly elephantine ear. But hey. Sugar and cinnamon and puff pastry still tastes good, no matter the travesties committed against it.

What I’m reading:

  • Always and Forever Lara Jean. Fluff, but just the kind of teenager I kind of was, and wish I knew, in high school. And set in Charlottesville just up the road!
  • “Our favorite audiobooks” at LMLD: Pippin has been listening to hours of audiobooks each day. Is this normal?! Is this OK?! Mostly he’s been working through Karen Savage’s Librivox ouvre, so E. Nesbit and the What Katy Did series, and I’ve been trying to encourage him not to meditatively chew on the old iPhone while he listens.

Last year I was thinking about:

  • I was making pizza, apparently, and not sleeping nearly as much. We are pretty solidly in a frozen pizza season much of the time now, especially when we were sans kitchen sink.

Police Preschool in a nutshell: a worksheet from Children’s Church with PRAY FOR POLICE scrawled in.

Commonplace Book 35 (Week 27)

What is a commonplace book? For me, this is a space where I post interesting links, reflections on what I’m reading, and the newest recipes I’ve been trying out — a collection of miscellaneous micro-posts.

What I’m fixing:

  • Cheesy Lentil Mushroom and Rice Bake: something strictly vegetarian J likes, and coming just after an indulgent vacation, it makes me feel a little more wholesome. I would probably be wholesomer if I didn’t eat it twice a day, though, starting, usually, at about 9:30.
  • Sheet Pan Mustard Maple Salmon is not actually a very good recipe, as it gets the cook times all wrong, but makes good food. Another one going into our meatless Friday night rotation. (See the comments at the bottom of the recipe for revised cook times, or, you know, use common sense about how long it takes to cook potatoes.)

What I’m not fixing:

  • Jackfruit the Vegan Miracle Food. I saw this as a vegan barbecue option on a menu in Jackson City recently and thought maybe they meant some other jackfruit but NO. To be fair, I’ve only had ripe jackfruit, which is a big deal in Uganda, but it’s weird and almost foamy and decidedly not good. Maybe underripe, as they suggest here as a substitute for pulled pork, is better, but I’m not taking any chances.

What I’m reading:

  • It’s been awhile since we’ve talked children’s books, and J and I got an excellent laugh/cry out of the illustration below one recent evening. Way to sear the Lord’s Prayer into a kid’s memory, right? I usually really like Tasha Tudor but find this terrifying:

Whoa, wait, do I spot a mushroom cloud? Is that a corgi corpse in the second picture, or some kind of mutant hell hound? These are questions that will haunt us all.

Commonplace Book

What is a commonplace book? For me, this is a space where I post interesting links, reflections on what I’m reading, and the newest recipes I’ve been trying out — a collection of miscellaneous micro-posts.

What I’m fixing:

  • So, I’ve made this Zucchini-Potato Frittata before, and it’s delicious, but it really struck home this time just how much work it is. It takes forever. Help me make it better:
    • Do you think I could use a bag of frozen hashbrowns in lieu of cutting all those potatoes and onions? The potatoes are the most hateful part — you have to mandoline them, then cook them forever and then they stick to the skillet. Enraging.
    • Or tell me your cheesy, meaty summer squash recipes? I need it not to taste like squash.
  • Because we had someone dairy free for dinner, Copycat Carrabba’s Herb Oil for Dipping Bread. Good, but then, so was the cilantro garlic compound butter I cobbled together for naan the other night.

What I’m reading:

“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” –Haldir of Lothlorien

  • The Sparrowa.k.a. JESUITS IN SPACE. Lots of imaginative ideas, deep characters, and juicy theological questions:

“What sticks in my throat is that God gets the credit but never the blame. I just can’t swallow that kind of theological candy. Either God’s in charge or He’s not.”

Helping with beer bread

Commonplace Book, 31 (Week 18)

What is a commonplace book? For me, this is a space where I post interesting links, reflections on what I’m reading, and the newest recipes I’ve been trying out — a collection of miscellaneous micro-posts.

What I’m fixing:

  • She lives! The usual brownies and this Indian stew and my go-to cobbler with my trusty cobbler sous-chef, and this cornbread which will henceforth be considered my standard cornbread recipe. (Not for those who like a nice, sweet cornbread. Also, can we agree that corn kernels in cornbread are repugnant?)

What I’m reading:

  • The Fellowship of the RingI missed the Well-Read Moms book group meeting that discussed it because we’ve had a quick progression of houseguests and all my reading time has gone to visiting — a welcome change from the slow slog of first trimester. This is, I think, my third pass, and I love it more each time. Can I confess, as a woman with a child named Pippin, that I didn’t enjoy it much the first time, reading it in high school to impress J? My love for the brave melancholy that imbues it has grown with age, though. As someone says (Aragorn?) — my notes are pretty bad — “It is a fair tale, though it is sad, as are all the tales of Middle-earth, and yet it may lift up your hearts.” Also, how is this for #homemaking goals?

“Frodo was now safe in the Last Homely House east of the Sea. That house was, as Bilbo had long ago reported, ‘a perfect house, whether you like food or sleep or story-telling or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all’. Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear, and sadness.”

She’s two tomorrow and they’re becoming friends and it makes my heart so glad