girl talk

I have posted entries in the past worrying that my only daughter lacked a certain "girly-ness". That girlyness shows up every once in awhile, but I got a little from additional sources the other day. I was transporting Miss Bee and 3 of her preschoolmates on a school field trip to the pumpkin patch, and overheard this conversation:

Miss B: I'm going to have a birthday party! [not till March, but it never hurts to plan ahead]
Miss A: Can I come?
Miss K: Me too?
Miss C: Me too?
B: Yes, everyone can come!
A: I'm going to have a party too, and I'm going to invite B, C, and K!
C: Me too!
K: I'm going to invite B, A, C, and Madison [not in their class] to my party.
C: Who's Madison?
K: My friend.
C: Is she a mermaid?
K: No.
C: Is she a princess?
K: No.
C: (a little exasperated) Then what is she?
K: She's just a girl.
C: (thinks a minute) Oh. Okay, she's good.

I got my fill of girly for the day.


my new friend

Our dishwasher broke in August. My parents were here when it happened, so Dad was entreated to apply his fix-it skills, but to no avail. After weighing the options, we figured it was better to just get a new one, since replacing the needed part (which might not have even been the right one) would have put us almost all the way to a new one anyway. But we didn't break into the emergency fund right away, because for a good two weeks, we washed dishes as a family every night. Everyone chose (or got stuck with) a job, and we just worked until it was all done. Sounds like a perfect family bonding moment, doesn't it? Well, it only lasted for a couple of weeks, like I said, but I think it was good for us. DH and/or I ended up doing them most nights after that. So anyway, after doing dishes by hand for the past 2 months, we finally bought a new dishwasher. It washed its first load last night, and I've gotta say, I've missed my friend.

So what have I learned from this experience (sounding like a mother, I know)?

Well, I learned that it is possible to get along without at least one of the conveniences of this modern age. And also that my children can survive without it, too (for 2 weeks, at least). DH and I had some nice conversations over the sink as well. And it was nice that when you were finished, you were finished - no big box needing to be emptied, all the dishes back in their places, no missing utensils. But I must admit, I'm glad the convenience is back.

So what about you? What are some appliances you think you could get along without? Which ones could you not? I'm curious!


food makeover

I just listened to a bit on NPR today about food in America - where it comes from, where it's been, and how much has changed about our views on these subjects. The man being interviewed was Michael Pollan, who wrote an open letter to the next president regarding the future of the food we produce. There were many eye-opening tidbits in the interview, but too many to address in what you probably already think is a boring blog entry, so I'll mention one.

It seems we use quite a bit of fossil fuels in food production in the U.S. For what? Transporting produce to markets, of course, but also fertilizer and importing/exporting. Okay, you say, maybe some of that is unavoidable, like getting the food to grocery stores, but did you know that we do ridiculous things like catching sustainable salmon here in the U.S., shipping it to China to be filleted, and then bringing it back? Or exporting tomatoes to Mexico while we also import them from the same place? Wouldn't it be a whole lot simpler if we just exchanged recipes? Pollan suggested.

Since I can't do anything about the farmers, here is a recipe to swap in the spirit of the interviewee's mission:

Chipotle Butternut Mash (thanks to Southern Living)

2 medium butternut squash (about 3 1/2 lbs.)
1/2 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (not that expensive; I keep the rest in a Tupperware in the fridge and it seems to last forever)
1 T. lime juice
1 1/4 t. salt
1/4 c. firmly packed cilantro leaves

1. Cut each squash lengthwise into 4 pieces; remove and discard seeds. Bring squash and salted water to boil in a Dutch oven; cook 15-18 min. or until fork-tender. Drain and let cool 15 min. Peel and cut into large pieces.

2. Process squash, cream cheese and next 3 ingredients in a food processor (you could try a blender) until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides as needed. Add cilantro and pulse 5-6 times or until cilantro is chopped.

3. Transfer mixture to a microwave-safe bowl and nuke on HIGH 1-2 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring at 1-minute intervals. Makes 8 servings (4 1/2 cups).

*You can also make this a soup by adding equal parts chicken broth and milk until it reaches soupy consistency. So you could make the whole 8-serving mess and save half of it to make soup later!

Now it's your turn! Send me back a recipe in the comments or post one on your own blog (where more people would probably see it; ha ha).