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www.em-i-lis.com

coupon + a year of wanting this = Em owns it

To be fair, I’ve been coveting this since last September, so I felt I’d pondered the decision long enough. I LOVE this pot and cannot wait to use it. I’d do so tonight except that I get to go out to dinner with one of my favorite friends who I rarely see and who lovingly pushed me into creating Em-i-lis. Shawn, it’s T minus two hours until I hug you like a loon. I’m calling an Uber for this, man! I met Shawn fourteen years ago when I started work at Columbia, he was in my wedding and truly, I adore him.

How good does this banana-chocolate shake look? I was felled by a migraine early this morning and this sounded medicinal and appealing. Banana and chocolate are an epic pairing. I love the combination!

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banana-chocolate shake (made with almond milk and a bit of powdered espresso)

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I am feeling pretty excited abut the fall produce rolling in. The lima beans have continued to hit the spot, and yesterday I roasted some gorgeous carrots and rutabagas. They looked nearly neon, and I love the prominent rings decorating the carrot interiors. Root veggies drive me wild.

Last night’s dinner was a recipe of mine that has been going gang-busters on Pinterest for the past month: Caribbean Sea Bass. Chilean Sea Bass (I always get Marine Stewardship Council-certified because for a while the future was looking bleak for these fishy friends), which is not really a bass at all -but rather the Patagonian Toothfish, a cod icefish- nor necessarily from Chile- is so delicious. It’s buttery and delicately steaky and holds up nicely to a range of seasonings.

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Caribbean sea bass, roasted carrots & rutabagas

This simple recipe utilizes honey, pineapple, habañero, scallions and avocado, a pretty, fragrant, zingy combination that pairs nicely with the fish’s texture and flavor. Healthy and delicious!

I roasted salmon with whey, salt and pepper for the boys and then topped it with capers: they went nuts, and I can see that we’ve passed the point of a half-pound being sufficient to feed them. While they ate, I finished up the apple strudels that Jack wanted to bring to his class today. They were so pretty, and I’m sad to say that the photos of them were erased from my loaner phone when I returned it today. My iLemon was irreparable, so they gave me a new one. Not a 6, folks; they’re not that generous. But I’m pretty darn satisfied with a new phone. In any case, no pics of the strudels unless you follow me on Instagram or Facebook. I also managed to give away the rest of the olive oil cake; it was so good, but I needed to part ways.

Look at this cat- he is so handsome and curious and charming.

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Nut really wants the fly up there!

Tonight, dinner starred another uncomplicated dish: Chicken with Garlic, Capers and Oregano. My sister made this for us in Florence and we devoured it so enthusiastically that she sent me the recipe. Grazie, grazie. Mamma mia, it’s divine. We had leftover veggies and I also made one of T’s favorite recipes, Couscous with Celery, Parsley and Red Wine Vinegar. It’s an Amanda Hesser recipe that I discovered while reading Cooking for Mr. Latte when we lived in Amsterdam. For many years, it was a staple side dish. Then, for no good reason, I stopped making it and tonight decided to remedy things. It’s fab!

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chicken with capers, garlic and oregano

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My family is big on lighting honorific candles in houses of worship. From the grandest cathedral to the smallest church, if candles can be lit within, we are on it.

Using crisp bills, those so worn it’s hard to recognize their worth or even a scrounged-together mess of change, we light waiting wicks to remember someone special who has died or on behalf of someone who is ill; a way of saying “Godspeed” across what are usually hundreds of miles.

This week has been ludicrously full of bad health news. I and my family are well, but dear friends ail, and in two weeks, it will be the first anniversary of Nanny’s passing. When I spoke to Mom yesterday, I offered to light candles at the National Cathedral; through sobs, she said, “Yes, please.” Not long afterward, my sister emailed from Florence; she too would be shining light toward those who need it.

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the Cathedral

After dropping the boys off this morning, I drove to the Cathedral and arrived a few minutes before it opened. All blue skies and brisk air, today was the consummate fall day, and I settled on the cold stone steps in front of the visitor’s entrance to wait.

Every time I go to the Cathedral, usually to light candles (although Jack did go through a phase of loving and wishing to see regularly the Hell-themed stained-glass window inside), I am struck by the myriad folks streaming around and into it, no matter the time of day. Of course there are church members and clergy present, students too, visitors from near and far. But surely there are others like me, there to see or do something specific, perhaps with the regularity or purpose of my candle-lighting. I look around gently and send virtual hugs; who knows what any one of them might be struggling with or worried about. I don’t, but something has drawn them.

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the Cathedral

A security guard unlocked the door from within, and I entered on the heels of an anxious-looking man. Dressed in a suit, he appeared both somber and extremely rushed, and I wished him well as his strides carried him away from me so quickly I couldn’t find him again.

I explained to the desk-clerk that I wanted only to light candles, and she said, “Of course. We simply ask that if you decide to look around, you return to pay the admission fee.” “Absolutely,” I replied in turn, and headed down the cool hall into the great nave before turning right into the transept. As I made my way to the small chapel where the candles wait, I wondered if anyone had ever defied that request to pay for sight-seeing. Can you cheat a church and feel OK? I wouldn’t.

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The hushed tones and dim lighting always usher in contemplativeness and calm; today was no exception. Though I was in a hurry, I didn’t rush. The Cathedral’s stained-glass windows are truly magnificent; although the Rose windows are incredibly executed and spectacular to cast eyes upon, the regular ones lining the nave are pretty remarkable too.

Lest you think I’ve become a believer, I haven’t. But I do appreciate tradition and ceremony, which, in my opinion, are the foremost take-aways from organized systems of faith. To me, their meaning has nothing to do with a higher power or the afterlife, but rather with thoughtful, meaningful, purposeful efforts at continuation generation after generation.

Each time I light a candle, I feel that I’m participating in a ritual understood by many but particularly special to me because of its context within my extended family. I like that sense of simultaneous connection with strangers and kin. The simplicity of the action appeals to me greatly as does its driver: thinking of others and making time to wish them well.

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Don’t y’all think Nutmeg looks certain that he fits in this box? Look at his rump! The whole thing reminds me of the scene in that old Chris Farley movie where he dons the tiny jacket and sings “Fat guy in a little coat…”

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“Are you suggesting that I don’t fit?”

I can’t believe he put up with what was surely uncomfortable, just to prove this box was, momentarily, his. So delightfully cattish!

You know what else didn’t really fit? The batter in this tart pan. I have made this cake, olive oil with dark chocolate, countless times and while spillage always threatens, I have never seen the likes of this torrential overflow. I mean, gah, the pan is encased. I had to pull on my Pit Mitts so as not to burn myself and pop this puppy out before it hardened onto the rim.

It recovered beautifully and tasted the same. I looovvee this cake, as you probably well know!

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the recovered cake

Dinner was fresh limas that I bought yesterday at the farmers market. Limas are one of my favorite beans. I could eat them on a weekly basis and never tire. My favorite way to enjoy them -hell, the only way I cook them?- is simply: in water, rendered bacon fat, salt and pepper. Doesn’t get better.

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fresh lima beans

I also pan-fried some bread that I’d baked this morning as well as some fresh peaches and sandwiched those around some freshly torn burrata, the latter ingredients also from yesterday’s FM. Honey, salt and pepper et voila. Heavenly!

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peaches, burrata, bread, olive oil, honey, salt and peper

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Yukky

Oliver recently informed me that despite the many delicious lunch offerings at school, he chose to make a ketchup sandwich. Can I just pause to hurl again?! A ketchup sandwich??? Oh.mah.gah. Have I taught him nothing about the pleasures of good food? Did he truly enjoy that concoction? I think I died a little when he told me and have since been recovering from the shock and sadness.

Ketchup is one of my least favorite condiments. It’s a toss up between it and tartar sauce. Tartar sauce is probably worse, not least because tartar makes me think of dirty teeth.

In my opinion, ketchup is only good on steak fries and the occasional tater tot. Fully aware that I am in the minority on this one, I nonetheless maintain this viewpoint with the strength of Job.

And I thought Jack’s jelly sandwich phase was bad. Hah!

Yummy

Today’s canning class was such fun. We made Apple Chili Chutney which really is divine. You should try it- a 1x recipe needn’t be waterbath processed, so folks out there who are nervous about preserving stuff don’t need to even think about anything more than refrigeration. You can do it!! And then go get some sharp cheddar, roast chicken and good bread and make yourself a fabulous sandwich.

Unrelated

When was the last time you really, really wanted something? Not an object or anything. More along the lines of an accomplishment or a role. I am in the seriously-covetous phase right now. Not gonna tell you about what, but it kept me up the other night which was kind of exciting. I love projects or goals or whatever it is that gives me this inner fire. The feeling is positively livening!
“““`

Now I’m hungry. However, I’m outside in AROMO enjoying the brisk air, everything that’s chirruping and unable to go inside because the kids and a sitter have not yet retired upstairs for bath time. I’m not so hungry as to interrupt all this, but I’m starting to get there. What will dinner be tonight? Hmm.
“““`

Nutmeg, in case you’ve missed him:

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Laundry Nut

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Aboard the coaster

With much on my mind last night, I had a hell of a time getting to sleep. Once I did, my slumber was fitful and brief, and I have felt enervated since my eyes first opened. Today was a roller coaster. Not the fun kind that makes your stomach almost pop out of your throat and leaves you feeling thrillingly alive, but rather the sort that terrifies you and renders you certain that death or injury is around the next bend. It was the kind of day during which I vacillated among wanting to run away, drink a fishbowl of wine and hold on even more tightly to the sweet moments that provided respite from the rest. Don’t go worrying, people. Some days are just like this, plain and simple.

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tiny heroes visit the farmers market

I’m teaching a canning class tomorrow, so this morning, before the shit really started going down, I enthusiastically took the boys to the farmers market. We tasted everything in the world (huckleberries are revolting; who knew?), bought a buttery palmier and a flaky croissant, sat down with a half-gallon of apple cider, splurged on carrots and nectarines and peaches and apples and lima beans and a baguette and so on. Together we picked out a bouquet of flowers. Ol was in his caped Batman pajamas; Jack was in some Undercover Savior of the World get-up. They looked so darling.

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dahlias

 

Atop the first big mountain

And you have never heard so much talking in your life. I’m serious. I don’t think you have.

I, on the other hand, most definitely have. All morning and for great portions of the past five years. I think it’s just how I’m wired, but being assaulted with an endless stream of noise -much of which is nonsensical chatter and interrogative discourse- truly overwhelms my senses after a while. My gut and brain start to feel as if they’re firing at random, synapses ablaze. You know in Ghostbusters how they’re always warning each other not to cross the streams or else “total protonic reversal” will ensue? Yeah, I feel like my streams are crossing. Like they’re double-dutching in the contest of the century.

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the boys and Jordana, from Eco Friendly Foods

We got home, and I declared myself unapproachable for ten minutes. This proclamation did nothing except make me sad that I then spent 9 of those minutes fending off verbal advances. Which, in tandem with their physical counterparts, have continued all day. But I digress.

Down the face and into the loop-the-loop

Duhn-duhn… homework time. The boys’ school has a remarkable -for this day and age- and wonderfully reasonable approach to homework: there isn’t much when the kids are small, nor does anyone there feel there should be. Me too. Reading daily is the primary commandment, an easy one since we do that anyway. Additional homework generally takes less than 20 minutes. But my dearest older child does have trouble organizing his many thoughts and then putting them onto paper, and so writing-based work is tough.

I suspect it’s how math was/is for me. I don’t like it, I don’t much get it, it’s hard but not in a fun way and so, sure, it feels like a crappy chore. But even minimal homework has to get done, and I’ll tell y’all the damn truth: education is not something T and I take lightly. Not.in.the.least. Like, I don’t find the slightest bit of humor in even the suggestion that education is not paramount. And I can find humor in pretty much everything. Truth.

Long, fraught-yet-dull story short, four questions took an obscene amount of time and energy. For all of us. Homework strife falls into the “Shit No-One Tells You Will SUCK About Parenthood” category. It’s enough to manage the doing of it, but if you’ve got a kiddo who isn’t hell-bent on getting that biz done? May the force be with you. Especially if you weren’t like that. At all.

On the verge of fire-breathing rage, I took Oliver out for a walk to Crate & Barrel. I knew he’d love ogling all the Halloween stuff, and since T actually rocks math and was in a boat called Patience which could safely roll with the bucking tides of Lake Third Grade Nuts, he won the staying-home award.

It’s unsettling to feel truly irate at a young child. It’s humbling and scary and sad, and it’s one of the many experiences in parenthood that will bring you to your knees. I know, rationally, that J is still but a babe. And I definitely know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed by school work, without the slightest idea of where to begin. Yet after an hour of infinite lovesupportpatience, I just don’t always have much left. Especially when the one on which I’m bestowing all that lovesupportpatience is acting like an ungrateful, deaf pissant who “hates me!” Rationality tends to fly out the window at that point.

I know I’m the adult. And I know my kids love me wildly. I know things could be harder or worse or yada yada. I know so many things that don’t make a hill of beans difference when I’m tired and frazzled and really running on empty and the small ones are pushing, pushing, pushing.

Back into the flat zone, aka catching breath and steeling nerves for the next go

Then a tiny hand slips into mine. The “hate” turns into “best mom ever.” I catch sight of a framed picture memorializing a grand moment from days past. Concurrently, I’m aware that my cortisol is spiking and my stomach is churning and that I really feel mental. That dissonance, between mutual adoration and complete unhealth, is all the more insanity-inducing, and then I step, barefoot, in a small lake of Percy’s creation (inside, natch), and feel I might spontaneously combust because what the eff with all the stimulative input?!

Oliver went to see a play with a friend, I went to the market, J had a baseball game, and finally we all ended up at the field. Things seemed to have eased into a holding pattern of manageable when Ol unearthed a slab of concrete the size of his torso and started carrying it to the car.

“Ol, honey, why are you taking part of this school with you? It is their property.”

Back up and down and all around

Commence giant Alice-in-Wonderland tears and manic assertion that “this wock means SO MUCH to me. I need to put it in my woom.”

Erm, no. “Ol, we are leaving this concrete here and going home.”

Cue wailing, boneless* reaction from tot and forced belting into car of tot by mom.

“Ol, you look a bit peaked. Are you hungry?”

“NO.”

Mom, thinking fast: ” The nursery has a big sale right now and they have really cool things made from rocks. Would you like to go on a date and look at cute owls crafted from rocks?”

Skeptical pause followed by somewhat groggy (wailing will do that) “Ok.”

Naturally this was not as easy as Sucker Me thought it would be, for at the nursery we saw… more Halloween finery on which to fixate. Ol’s lustful eyes spotted and could not let go of a very real-looking skull. Of course, he wanted two.

“You see, Mom, these would look SO scawy [scary] on the fwont porch.”

“Ol, do you see the felt on the bottom of these skulls? These are made to be inside decorations. They would get ruined outside.” Also, they were $30 a piece for crying out loud. “Let’s look online for some really cool and scary Halloween decorations.”

Cue wailing, boneless* reaction from tot, complete with giant Alice-in-Wonderland tears and manic assertion: “But this one is SO cool. There will nevuh be such a cool and scawy skull online.”

“Ol, you are having such a hard afternoon. Let’s go home and do research, OK? Let me just buy this salt” (because obviously the one thing most people leave the plant store with is fancy finishing salt).

His tears, reminsicent of those shed over Garth with the blue necklace (kitten) last week at PetSmart, this time prompted more from the cashier than a hand over the heart. Today, Ol was gifted with a cactus.

Sweet jesus, you’d have thought he’d just been given a lifetime supply of concrete slabs and fake skulls. He was beaming so hard I thought his cheeks would fall off. No child has ever been so thrilled with the gift of a succulent. I, meanwhile, will be forever devoted to this nursery -shout out to American Plant- and that lovely woman’s angelic intervention.

Whew

As was deserved, dinner/bed/bath-time went relatively well, and the boys crashed immediately afterwards.  Wine and the best-ever spaghetti and meatballs, which thankfully I had the foresight to resurrect from the freezer yesterday, made for a superb dinner, and now I bid you adieu.

*See Knuffle Bunny. Going/went boneless =  best description of young child meltdown ever.

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cauliflower with vin cotto, mint, lemon, sultanas and olive oil: made it yesterday; has nothing to do with anything; just pretty and tasty

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