Is there really a parent out there (especially a stay-at-home parent!) who enjoys a snow day? Especially a Monday snow day when there’s not enough snow to sled? I think they’re few and far between. I think possibly there is one.
Picture it. You’ve been together all weekend. In all likelihood you’ve maxed out your ability to enthusiastically read and role play in a believably engaged fashion. You’ve played Old Maid and Go Fish, Chess and Pentago more times than you can count. You’ve made s’mores, “eaten” snow, lit a fire and watched as the damn pyromaniacs got a mite too close and threw 9 pine cones in even though you told them the sap would crust up the chimney. Grr. And finally, mercifully, you-thought-you’d-never-get-there Sunday night comes, and the kids purposefully pour a bucket of water out of their bath. At that point, you might raise your voice, bathtime might definitely come to an end, but ultimately you pull yourself together because…dunh, dunh, dunh dunh!! Monday will be here before you know it.
Until that rug’s pulled out from under you. Because, it’s.a.SNOW.DAY!
I have lived in DC long enough to know when the other shoe is about to drop. As our nation’s capital — and to be fair, the lame-in-weather ‘burb commuters — cannot handle the slightest bit of precipitation, the snow we received today as well as the ice it will surely become in sub-freezing temps tonight, will definitely result in cancelled everything tomorrow. I can just see that 5:30 am text from the school now.
Once again I will let you know that for many of us at-home parents, this is a bust. We schedule our days down to the seconds, time delineated into the with- and without-the-kids segments. When you suddenly lose 6 or 7 hours, you are way behind the eight ball. And then you still have all the hours you’d already budgeted into the with-the-kids side of the equation.
Tomorrow, for example, instead of kissing my darlings 85 times at 7:59 am, then shoving them out the door into T’s car and exhaling slightly until 2:50 pm, I will be on the hamster wheel from 6:10 am until bedtime, more than 12 hours later. That is a big damn difference.
Earlier this year, I made a batch of my Aunt Da’s tea cakes. Aunt Da was one of Nanny’s much-older sisters (Nanny was a surprise baby by 16 years or something), and I always remember that she made tea cakes, stored them in a metallic purple (or was it blue? silver?) aluminum tin and they always seemed to be in stock. I took some liberties in my reimagination of them: I added Irish Breakfast tea to literalize the Tea Cake moniker; used whole wheat pastry and cake flours rather than all-purpose; and subbed marzipan for the vanilla. They’re wonderful!
I haven’t made them since then but this week received from my mom some of Nanny’s old cookie cutters. I think Aunt Da used them too. It seemed fitting to christen them in my kitchen by making some tea cakes, so this afternoon while Jack was a birthday party, Oliver and I did just that. The reindeer, gingerman and woman, and card suits are my beloved new additions from Nanny’s kitchen. You know, it was a real bummer not to address a Christmas card to her this year. I can’t bear to erase her name from my card list. Boo!
Nanny’s cookie cutters
Tom and I appear to have inhaled vast quantities of sleep dust because we are already in bed and have wanted to be for hours. HOURS! However, before we donned jammies, I made a clean-out-the-fridge-and-pantry meal and really was quite pleased. I roasted some cubed rutabagas and chopped carrots; caramelized an onion and a leek with some garlic, a daub of mustard and a splash of white wine; threw it all together with some tomatoes and white beans; broiled some multi-grain bread with shaved Gruyère on top; fried some bacon; and basically put it all together as prettily as possible. Very satisfying!
AKA, gougères, these delicacies are one of my favorite treats. A choux dough (butter, water, flour, and eggs; often used in profiteroles, eclairs and other pastries) is mixed with, in this case, Gruyère and asiago cheeses, thyme and a pinch each of kosher salt and cayenne. You spoon the dough into a pastry bag and pipe small mounds onto parchment-lined sheets. Bake for 20 in a hot oven and voila. Another fabulous aspect of gougères is that they freeze beautifully- always a blessing! This recipe is posted under Em-i-lis Recipes -> Breads. Simple and marvelous. Don’t be shy with the salt and cayenne.
After my two delightful lady-dates, I went to school to help J’s class with something and then took the boys to the toy store to get J’s baseball card reward packs for a job extremely well done. I am so proud of that buddy. He stuck to his plan this week and really exceeded my expectations. Since we returned home and he organized all his new cards, we’ve been both lazy (TV, cooking) and active (more cooking, the boys “killing” each other for 90 minutes). They are such good brothers, and it is my sincerest wish that they retain this closeness throughout their lives. If they can do so, the relationship will be an extraordinary gift to each of them. Aren’t they darling?!
It rained all the darn day and though it wasn’t chilly, it felt as if it should be. As such, it seemed like a one-pot stew must happen. Why one-pot corroborates positively with comfort and heartiness to me, I don’t know. But it does. And so I made a lovely meal of cubed beef, potatoes, carrots, onions, wine, sherry and herbs and served it alongside couscous topped with golden brown mushrooms.
Hubs and I ate well, I caught Jack up reading Harry Potter and so snuggled him a bit. Inexplicably, his hair smelled like hamster, but I nuzzled him anyway. And now cat is purring in my arms. Was it a year ago tonight that we brought Nutmeg home? I’m glad every day that we did. What a nice end to a roughly welcomed week!
Ok. If you plan to drive in a place with traffic circles, please learn the rules. VA and non-Montgomery Cnty MD peeps, I’m directing this largely at you. If you are attempting to enter a traffic circle (aka rotary or roundabout), you must yield to the drivers already circling within it. You, as the enterer, do not have the rightaway. Going faster does not make your ill-conceived entry plan a better or safer one. Nor does a rainy day. Like today.
To the VA lady who cut me off a couple hours ago, forcing me to slam on my breaks in the middle of the Westmoreland traffic circle, you made my heart race, could have caused quite a mess and waving your fingers out the window while slamming on your own breaks and then speeding up, stopping and starting again, didn’t make it all better.
To the MD driver who jerked off of Western and into the circle before stopping so close to my moving car that I could see your nose hairs, take a load off and read your road rule book.
On another note, what a treat it was to have breakfast with one of my dearest pals and then lunch with another one. You women are fab!
Breakfast for dinner is an underrated experience. Though I usually prefer a three-courser with veggies, a big plate of fresh waffles and maple syrup is pretty awesome sometimes. Tonight was one of those times. This recipe, a lightly spiced waffle that uses beer in place of the yeast, makes a perfect evening entree. They’re hearty and sweet-savory. Also, they’re a nice color of darkish brown which for some reason makes me think they’re less breakfasty. An easier segue into dinner than would be a white waffle studded with little blueberries or the like. You know?
spiced stout waffles
I told T to peel some clementines for some color and a not-bread element of our meal. I also made some scrambled eggs with collards I’d slivered into ribbons and sauteed in truffle butter. “Holy cow, Em-i-lis, that sounds amazing,” you’re probably saying to yourself right now. Let me quickly correct you. It was awful. Weird because how can eggs plus truffle butter be horrible? Well because apparently eggs + truffle butter + collards = bottarga (salted, cured fish roe). What?? Seriously, it was surreally disgusting. I dunno, y’all. Just don’t go there.