Sunday, August 29, 2010

MPM--The Dwindling Days of Summer

I know, I know--few will have sympathy when my kids are still home, when the pool is still open, and the weather is warming back up. But I'm not dealing with this season change well. Should I send my youngest to kindergarten? Should I go back to work? These are definitely first-world problems and ones I am lucky to have, but I can't find peace with them.

I bury my worries in our summer Wish List. I should be thrilled--it was a wonderful outline to the summer, and we said from the start we wouldn't possibly get to them all, but I find myself trying to squeeze in the last ones I can. (Maybe if I rearrange *this* refrigerator shelf, we can do the Jello Jigglers? And if we go to the zoo early, hit the Please Touch in the afternoon...?) Seriously? A little deranged. Especially considering all we did that wasn't on the poster: go to the longest Phillies game in four years, and stay to the bitter end, cheering on the pitcher in left field. Maybe not the Academy of Natural Sciences, but three other natural history museums across three states. Touch a piece of Mars, a piece of the moon, and a meteorite. Two of us learned to ride two-wheelers. And so, so many great visits with friends and family near and far. It was lovely.

That said--finally, this weekend, we were home, my husband was home, and we had a good weekend at home. No neighbor kids, not much pool time, just being here, enjoying each other and our house. Laundry was pushed through, the dog was walked, and my husband got out the grill. We took a page from Kristen and grilled all kinds of things. So I am actually, miracle of miracles, set for the week.

Monday: this menu from Dinner: A Love Story. Our butcher sells "Italian style" (very thin cut) cutlets, and they were fantastic in this marinade. (I sneaked a bite on Saturday when he made it.) The double-mustard potato salad was already a hit in our house, and the asparagus will be replaced with something from the CSA box.

Tuesday: candy-coated pork, broccoli (will try in alfredo sauce for young Mr. Picky, and just steamed for the rest of us), roasted potatoes

Wednesday: sweet pork rolls from Time for Dinner, the DALS's author's cookbook. I'm hooked. This smelled so good when I was making it, my husband got up out of bed to come downstairs to see what it was. Essentially ground pork with five-spice powder and a few other spices, it's served in lettuce leaves with other raw veggies. Sounds like a nice meal for a hot night.

Thursday: barbeque chicken, corn on the cob, tomato something (maybe the escalloped ones, maybe just a mozzarella salad)

Friday: the last of the soccer pizza parties of the summer. I'm a little sad about that. With the encroaching travel teams and earlier darkness, the grownups cede the field to the kids again. Our kids will miss the Friday night parties as much as we will, but it was magic while it lasted--outdoor fun, kids of all ages roaming around, friendships made, friendships deepened--exactly what you move to the suburbs for. Already I'm looking forward to next year.

I hope this works, with the week's meals pre-grilled and ready to go. I can live with this. In some ways it feels like double work, but I'm hoping it pays off. I'll let you know.

What are you making? Go to I'm an Organizing Junkie! to share and read more.

Again, I sneaked tastes of everything as it came off the grill. I'm not psyched about cooking pork on the grill; I'm never confident it's done adequately. But I am very happy with the "candy" coating. Will let you know how it reheats. The chicken, as I said, was already a winner. Nice and lemony and moist--exactly what you hope for from grilled meats. And I finally, finally made the bbq chicken from the paper (reprinting below because I have found the Inquirer's site to be unreliable in having it when I am looking for it). And I have to say--nothing here was particularly expensive, which was nice. I don't really like chicken legs, so I was stunned to see how many drumsticks were in a packet for less than $3. Same thing with 3/4 of a pound of ground pork--way cheaper than any cuts I usually use. This is a good trend. Last week I didn't follow what was there much, but at least we mostly ate out of our kitchen and pantry, so that was soothing to the pocketbook. And I did try (yet another) avocado and cucumber soup, this one much lighter (no buttermilk, more cuke, less avocado) from the White House chef, no less. Obviously it wasn't as awesomely decadent as the other, but it was quite good and certainly healthier. Still, I think I'll try it with lime next time, but it's a great use of cukes when they come flooding in. I also made the crockpot Chex Mix, but mine burned. That happens with regular Chex Mix recipes and me too, so I'm not surprised. C'est la vie.

One other end of summer note: the appetizer of the summer here has been the margherita stick, with the easiest recipe ever. Poke a fancy toothpick through a cherry tomato with a leaf of basil wrapped around it; then spear a tiny mozzarella ball on the end. These were hits at parties with both the healthy eater and not-so-much contingents this summer, and if you are bursting with cherry tomatoes and basil, it's a fabulous way to use them, and they look so festive.

Wishing you an angst-free end of summer, or start of fall, wherever you are.

Direct from the Inquirer's site, in case it disappears again:

In last week's Food section, a story about a soup-kitchen cooking contest included a photograph of barbecued chicken. We got many requests for the recipe, and we persuaded the reluctant chef, Rosa Stephens, to share it.

Rosa Lee's Southern Style BBQ Chicken

Makes 8 to 10 servings

8 to 10 chicken legs or thighs

2 18-ounce bottles of honey barbecue sauce (Ms. Stephens prefers Sweet Baby Ray's)

1 cup maple syrup

1 tablespoon Mrs. Dash Lemon Pepper Seasoning Blend

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 orange

1 lemon

Fresh parsley, for garnish

1. Wash chicken and place pieces in a large bowl. Cover with honey barbecue sauce (about one bottle).

2. Drizzle maple syrup over chicken, ensuring that all pieces are coated.

3. Sprinkle chicken with Mrs. Dash Lemon Pepper and basil.

4. Squeeze juice of one-half lemon and one-half orange over chicken. Cut remaining fruit into pieces and add to mix.

5. Transfer chicken and all ingredients into Ziploc bags, seal tightly. Marinate overnight.

6. When ready to cook: Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

7. Pour contents of Ziploc bag into glass baking dish. Cover tightly with foil, and bake for 4 hours.

8. Remove chicken from oven. Drain liquid.

9. Cover chicken with more honey barbecue sauce. Drizzle more syrup over top of chicken. Sprinkle with more Mrs. Dash Lemon Pepper and basil.

10. Return to oven, uncovered. Bake for an additional 45 minutes to one hour.

11. Garnish with the lemon and orange slices and fresh parsley.

- From Rosa Stephens, St. Philip's Lutheran Church

Per serving: 403 calories, 24 grams protein, 35 grams carbohydrates, 30 grams sugar, 16 grams fat, 111 milligrams cholesterol, 719 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber

Read more:


Anjali said...

Sounds like you have a lot of big decisions on your plate. I'm in a similar boat. Though if you do send J to Kindy, it certainly makes sense to go back to work!

Mom24 said...

Good luck with your decisions. Who said life was easy? I will say we made the decision to have Jacob wait a year for kindergarten and I really believe it was the right one. He's young, he likes to play, he's a natural leader in the grade he's in. Most of all, having lived at the other end as well, I did not want him to be just-turned-17 and choosing a college, picking a career, etc., I didn't really want him to be graduating at 17 and moving on to adult life. I feel like we gave him the gift of another year of childhood, a year of no pressure. They grow up so fast...

Of course, I know it's rarely that easy, there's lots to take into consideration, not the least of which is what's going on with your little guy, your town, your family. Good luck deciding and remember, either way, he'll truly be fine.

Yummy week. You inspire me.

Kelly @ Student of the Year said...

Okay, I should NEVER read your blog hungry, in the minutes prior to lunch, because I'm suddenly famished! That bit of cantaloupe I had 30 minutes ago has disappeared and I want something yummy!