Sunday, March 28, 2010

Passover, eh?

As we streak toward passover (it's almost April for crying out loud!), I found some great recipes to share with you all- you know, just in case you want to make them and tell me how good a cook you are:).

So, in honor of the Jewish in all of us, here it is. Oh, and you'd better go shopping on monDAY because passover starts at sundown.

Traditional Passover Brisket
1/2C matzo meal
1 t salt
1 t pepper
1 (5-6 lb) first cut beef brisket, trimmed
3 T olive oil
3 large onions, julienned
6 stalks celery, sliced on the bias
5 carrots, sliced on the bias
1 28-oz can peeled tomatoes
2 bay leaves
4 cups beef broth

heat oven to 350.
mix matzo, salt and pepper.
dust brisket with above mix.
in a dutch oven, heat oil on medium heat.
brown beef on all sides
pour off grease.
add the rest of the ingredients.
cook 2-3 hours
remove and keep meat warm.
strain liquid and remove bay leaves
take half the veg and press through sieve into a gravy-like mash.
Place meat and rest of veg and top with veg-gravy.

Veggie Kugel
12 T margarine
2 peppers, chopped
2 C sweet onion, chopped
2 C celery, chopped
3 C carrots, chopped fine
3 C tightly packed chopped fresh spinach
5 eggs, lightly beaten
2 C matzo meal
2 t salt
1/2 t white pepper
1 t garlic powder.

grease a 9 by 13 dish. preheat oven to 350.
melt margarine in an XL skillet on medium.
saute veg (except spinach) until tender but NOT MUSHY (10 min)
stir in spinach. cook to wilted.
add the rest of the ingredients to veg.
stir to combine.
spoon into 9 x 13. cover. bake 35 minutes.
take off cover and bake 10 min.
cool for 10 min.
cut. serve. enjoy.

Chicken Matzo Ball Soup
2 lbs. finely ground chicken
1 t salt
1 t pepper
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
1 t paprika
2 C matzo meal
5 eggs, lightly beaten
1 C water (as needed)
6 Quarts chicken broth (canned or homemade)

Mix everything except the water and broth.
add water to make a stiff batter.
refrigerate for 20 minutes
slow simmer broth in BIG pot.
wet hands and form batter into balls.
add balls to the soup.
simmer 15 minutes.
serve. enjoy. make again.

I LOVE matzo ball soup. So I'll make AT LEAST that one. I'll let you know how that turns out.

Friday, March 26, 2010

What's a head gasket among friends?

This is apparently what is leaking under my car- the Head Gasket.
I say, SURE, no problem. We'll just fix it.
Subaru dealer says, okay, that'll bring your total to $2,000.00 because you've got a leaking CV Boot joint too.
And you want to know the best part? They're being completely honest.
I've had it checked out by 2 other independent mechanics just to make sure.

So now what?
Well, that's what we are deciding. Whether to fix "the big fix" to the tune of $1,600. or to do the "little fix" to the tune of $200-$300.
We LOVE our suubie-baby. She has been the BEST car for the snow. This winter was Worst Winter in History #13 (barring snow in April, which is unlikely), which means there were 41" of snow. My car powered through 24" of snow with no problem. My neighbors were all jealous.
What about selling it? Wouldn't it be nice to have a little larger vehicle- especially with 2 rambunctious boys? Something like a Honda Odyssey? And I do realize this puts me squarely into suburban-mom category.

What would YOU do if this were YOUR vehicle? Big fix and keep the Subaru? Little fix and sell the Subaru? Little Fix and keep until we can find a mini-van?

I'm all ears.

Monday, March 22, 2010

we like spring!

Really, really, REALLY like spring!
Today was amazing. Everyone was up by 8am. To the gym at 9am. home at 10am. Shower, dressed, baby nap, kiddo happy at 11am. lunch at noon. grocery shopping at 1. outside at 3pm. dad home at 4pm. dinner at 5:30. family walk at 6:15. home and settle down at 7pm.
I LOVE days like this!!
I'm not trying to brag or anything. But these "got it together" days are few and far between. It's a little victory.
(do a little victory dance)

I hope you are enjoying your spring!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

camera woe

Dear friends.
Today we gather to mourn the loss and remember with fondness Camera Daily.
She was a good friend who was always willing to help us through the good times, the funny times and the beautiful times (as well as some of the not so beautiful times).
Whenever we needed her, she would make herself available and when her services were not needed, she never complained.
Rest in Pieces (because that's how she met her demise), Camera.

And now that she has gone the way of all the earth, we need a new one.
For real.
I couldn't get pics of our St.Patty's day festivities because of this!
so sad.

Anyone know of a decent, not too expensive, well reviewed camera?
Let me know.
We need one STAT!

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Dear American Express,

I would like to thank you for your kindness and thoughtfulness. I am in a constant need of bookmarks to remind me where I leave off in my everyday reading. Your sample credit cards are are sturdy yet flexible, and they make ideal bookmarks. Yet, I must confess, I am somewhat absentminded and am constantly losing my bookmarks, dropping one here, leaving another in a library book, etc. You are so kind to keep me stocked. Just about the time that I find my treasured bookmark missing is about the time when I receive a newly wrapped, tantalizingly thick, envelope in the mail from American Express. It could only conceal one thing! A new, potentially real, credit card perfectly designed for marking ones reading spot. I can hardly contain my gratitude! What would I do without the foresight of American Express? Even before I have begun losing my current bookmark, they are planning to replace it. In fact it is probably already in the mail! It restores my confidence in the constancy of the mail system. I am enjoying my most recent installment of bookmarks and am convinced that you have redesigned them as this most recent batch seems to be more difficult to lose. Yet, as I have laid out my track record with these coveted items, I hardly need tell you that I will soon be needing another.

Thank you in advance,

“Current Resident”

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

One of THOSE days

You know what I mean.
The kind of day that starts for you in the middle of the night because the baby WILL NOT go back to sleep without me holding him- and ONLY me. And then the toddler wakes up at 6:23. Yeah, I checked the clock and that's the time it said. Too bad I was up only an hour and half before this with the baby again.
The kind of day where it seems like no matter WHAT you say to your child(ren) no one will do what you ask. James has a VERY hard time following directions anyways, and I'm not totally sure why, but he chose today to pretend to be completely deaf. So any time I asked him to do something I'd ask and ask and ask, and then I'd go to get him to do what I wanted and he'd run away which means I am now chasing him, so once I catch him maybe I can get him to do what I asked him to do in the first place. But when I catch him the response is one of two: 1. Blood-curdling screaming or 2. "the slug". Neither of these options is okay with me when the baby is crying because he needs SOMETHING (I have no idea what) but I can't seem to just "let it go" because some time or another, James will HAVE TO LEARN how to follow my instructions when I instruct them- things like "Do NOT run into the street into oncoming traffic and get run over" (while I watch him run pell-mell for the street). He must think making my life this difficult is FUNNY or something.
Guess what, kid. It's not.
And sometimes, having another adult there is STILL no help at all.
So, this evening I gave up. I fired myself from parenting for 20 minutes. I laid down with the light off. I anticipated my RnR being a bit longer, but I was summoned by Oliver who was pushed by big brother (which happens WAY WAY WAY too often in my home).
All I can think right now is- wow. What a crappy day.
PLEASE let tomorrow be better.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Van Cliburn

This was an concert.
Let me acquaint you with Haochen Zhang. He is 19. He studies with Gary Graffman at Curtis. He won the Gold Medal at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.
19. Gold medal.

This was my christmas present from Drue and I loved every minute of it!
But first, a lesson in mathematics.

How long ago was 3 years old for you? 5 years old? 7?
For me, that was 23 years ago, 21 years and 19 years- which makes me feel old as I'm writing these sums down.

What were you doing at 3? I was getting potty-trained.
What were you doing at 5? I was in Kindergarten.
What were you doing at 7? I'm pretty sure I was riding my bike, playing games and just being a kid. I also distinctly remember pretending to be Ariel from 'The Little Mermaid' in my friends pool, drawing pictures of an elaborate Tooth-Fairy and collecting plastic horses.

But THIS guy?
At 3 he began piano lessons. At 5 he made his recital debut with ALL 15 Bach two-part inventions AND Sonatas by Haydn and Mozart!
And 7? Starring as the Soloist with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, performing a Mozart Concerto!

Wow. Wow. Wow.

But the recital last night was- well, it's hard to put into words. The music, by itself, was moving enough. But his presentation, technique, tone- maybe just his general ability was so striking. I felt honored to BE there, listening.

The lineup:

Mozart- Piano Sonata in C Major K330
Brahms- Klavierstucke, Op.119
Chopin- Ballade no.4 in F minor
Schumann- Fantasy in C Major, Op.17
Stravinsky- Trois mouvements dr Petrouchka

First, I absolutely applaud his choice of recital material with one exception- I wish he had presented a Scarlatti Sonata or maybe a Bach suite.
The Mozart was my third favorite of the night as a whole. The clarity was perfect- not choppy, not muddy and NOT sloshy. His tone was almost bell-like, silver bells that stopped resonating whenever another bell sounded so there was no wash-over. The second movement was hauntingly played, the entire movement hovering between piano and pianissimo and EXPERTLY shaded, not too dark but not bright and always in a singing style. From my view (which was EXCELLENT)the strike of the keys was almost indecipherable until I heard the pure notes, any only then could I see what he was doing. Amazing.
The Brahms was played with ample facility. I'm not familiar enough with this particular piece to really do any review justice. In true Brahms style, the mid and low tambre was exploited to perfection- and furiously attacked in the 5th movement. It was fun to hear him singing along a la Glenn Gould:)
Chopin is one of my top 3 piano composers. Ever. I LOVE Chopin. And I love the Ballade. And I LOVE the way he played. The thing about Chopin is the control it takes to present his music with any kind of expertise- a delicate balance between a soaring soprano and a thunderous bass, light and dark, bright and mellow. Can you tell I loved this piece? I just sit back and let the music wash over me crest by crest. Heaven.
Now, a word about my personal feelings for Robert Schumann.
I have a deep appreciation for his writings, and literary work about the importance of music, his championing for composers and clever arguing as his two alter-egos: Florestan and Eusebius.
But I am not necessarily a HUGE fan of his music. He had a major inferiority complex and therefore was inclined to try and out-do his contemporaries resulting in long-winded composition that meanders. Essentially, he takes a LONG time to say what could be said more concisely.
I think you can surmise that the Schumann was not my favorite. There were some VERY nice moments and Mr. Zhang played flawlessly. But not my favorite.
THIS was my favorite of the night. Energetic, showy (yes), but CRAZY difficult. It was the perfect end to the recital. His fingers moved through the piece in a blur but each note rang true and clearly. The acrobatics were breath-taking. Fluidly moving over the keys his hands seemed to be everywhere all at once! The music was wonderful. Stravinsky would be proud of the performance. Petrouchka is grouped with The Firebird and The Rite of Spring, musically, and you can hear echoes of both in the work, although I tended to hear more Rite than Fire. It was exhilarating to watch- I got exhausted just trying to keep my eyes following his fluttering fingers.
He received a well-deserved standing ovation.
I think standing ovations are done FAR too often now- they are almost commonplace. I have made a conscious decision to not give more than 3 a year. It was gratifying to give one to this deserving young man.
Now, go support your local Classical group!!!!!