There's nothing like a stomach bug to put you in your place. It levels the playing field. Ego has no leg with which to stand on the bathroom floor, we are all equal and humble when felled by digestive upset. 

I will spare you the gory details because this is, after all, a food blog. Suffice it to say I got my due last night. Why am I even talking about this?

Because when throwing up and throwing down, my mind still continues to make funny little observations about life, love and parenthood. 

To start with, I take my hat off to single parents everywhere. I lay down at their feet and worship them. I am a worm next to their daily endeavors. Why? Because when you are young and single and childless, you can wallow in the existential misery of a stomach bug because nobody else in the world matters. When you are parenting as a couple, part of your partner's job is keeping the kiddies from witnessing such carnage. There is help at hand. Single parents are on their own.

Last night, Redman was in my bed, not five feet away from the bathroom door, blithely reading and oblivious. Jeeps was down in his office and out of earshot. 

It was that real paralyzing kind of nausea so it took me about ten minutes of focused mind-control (breathe through it, come out the other side, breathe through it, come out the other side, you're doing great, ride it out, go right out the other side, this too shall pass, breathe, just breathe) to muster up the strength to speak.

"Red," I called quietly. (Breathe)


"Please go get Dad." (Wow your voice sounds good, that theatre degree came in handy)


(Breathe) "Please go get Dad, tell him Mom is sick and needs him."

"Are you throwing up?"

"Yes, please go get Dad." (do not come in do not come in do not come in)

"Can I come in?"

(Breathe, don't panic) "No. Please go get Dad.  Thank you." Pitter patter of helpful little feet and all I can think about are my friends who are single parents and how do they do it, how, how, how, what would I do, how would I manage...(breathe, this is not the time for dire scenarios, it is time to breathe)...

So Jeeps came to the rescue, shooed Redman and Panda—both now loitering anxiously outside the bathroom—back to their beds, and brought comfort and help. And Clorox.

My next funny little observation, which I discussed a little bit with Panda this morning as I negotiated a cup of peppermint tea: giving relationships the Stomach Bug Test. I think I started doing this in college. Could a guy pass the Stomach Bug Test? Meaning, if I were laid low in these most fragile, vulnerable, and, face it, gross circumstances, could I imagine him there? Would he indeed be there? Would he be helpful? Would I rather he went away? These are important things to consider when considering someone in the long-term. 

"Because you don't marry the guy who just looks good," I said to Panda. "You marry the guy who looks good holding your head while you throw up."

Last night, Panda brought me a stick of gum and a cold washcloth after I was back in bed. This reminded me so much of my dad, who was never without a pack of Lifesavers or Wrigley's Doublemint gum when I was a kid, and always had either at the ready if my brother or I were sick.  

"Poor Mommy," she mourned, this child of mine who feels everything to her very bones. "Feel better. I hope you sleep okay. If you can't fix my hair in the morning, that's fine, I'll manage. Don't worry."

I guess we strive so hard to shield our children from life's upsets, when sometimes there's something to be learned by letting them see you at your worst. They often surprise you.

Meanwhile, all Redman wants to know is how much, how far, and what color.


Criss-Cross Applesauce

This is just a song me and the kids made up over the years.  It started with just the first verse about breakfast, then gradually more verses got made up for lunch and dinner, and finally dessert.  I can't describe the tune.  I need to write down the words because it would be terrible if I forgot them...

Criss-Cross, Applesauce

Piece of blueberry pie

Maple syrup on French Toast, Pancakes piled high

Hot Home Fries, Matzoh Brie, these things I like the most

Eggs and Bacon, Oatmeal, Waffles, Stack of Jelly Toast


Criss-Cross, Barbecue Sauce

Piece of Pizza Pie

Fish and Chips and Grilled Cheese, Ham and Swiss on Rye

Sloppy Joes, Beef Tacos, Macaroni Cheese

Hamburger with French Fries, pass the Ketchup, please.


Criss-Cross, Tomato Sauce

Piece of Shepherd's Pie

Roast Turkey, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy on the side

Honey-baked Ham, Leg of Lamb, Tuna CasseRRRRRROOOOOLLLE  (you have to really roll the R and hold the note there)

Grilled Chicken, London Broil, Fried Filet of Sole.


Criss-Cross, Chocolate Sauce

Piece of French Silk Pie

Hot Fudge, Banana Split, Whipped Cream to the sky

Angel Food Cake, goodness' sake, a Rainbow Sherbert Dream

Cream Puff, Eclair, Baked Alaska, Scoop of Peach Ice Cream.

Random bites

Here's the first pea harvest.  I know, try to contain yourself at the sight of such abundant bounty.  Still, good things come in small packages, and there is nothing like picking them off the vine, pulling the string, splitting the pod, and scraping it along your bottom teeth to pop the peas in your mouth. That is how you do it, right?

Moving along.  Here was some yumminess:  Quinoa Patties as found on Stacey Snacks.  I'd had my eye on these and over the weekend I cooked up about 4 cups of quinoa and just had it keeping in the fridge.  Monday night I was late in the city, so I texted the URL to Jeeps...oddly, just as he was peering in the fridge and wondering what to do with the quart-sized Chinese food container filled with quinoa.  They were made and waiting when I got off the train and they were dynamite.   We had them with just steamed broccoli; Stacey shows them with a dollop of guacamole, and in another post she has them on a bed of greens with, hello, a sunnyside egg on top.

Speaking of eggs, it has been beastly hot the past two days, with more beastliness to come.  But is it hot enough outside to fry an egg?  My neighbor Elizabeth does not suffer clichés gladly, and demanded proof over hyperbole.  The results are in, and yes, it was that hot:

[Editor's note - Naive ninny that I am, I really did think Elizabeth had conducted said experiment but later she confessed to a Google image and then passed along an article about how, in theory, it is not possible to fry an egg on the sidewalk because it does not reach the temperature required to denature and coagulate the egg whites.  I called her a fraud and told her that to salvage her street cred, she should crack an egg on the hood of her car.  Stay tuned]

Oh, here's a treat.  Last year we went to friends in Westport for Memorial Day, and one of the appetizers they served was goat cheese in apricots with hazelnuts.  We went crazy over these and let me be perfectly frank:  goat cheese and I have a contentious relationship.  For years I wanted to like it, I felt it was something I really should like, but whenever I had it...I just didn't like it.  But I kept on and each time I didn't like it a little less.  And then with the apricots in Westport...maybe it was the type of goat cheese or the company it was keeping, but I think I ate half the platter and Francesca and I fought for the last one.

So this was my lunch on Tuesday.  I went the extra step and drizzled some honey over them, and then a pinch of sea salt.  And they were so good, I made like another four and ate those too.

Tuesday night I went back to dance class.  I have not been in....many years.  My mother is guest teaching at my friend Jen's dance studio, 5-6-7-8 Dance Arts, for the month of June.  So I went and I took Pandagirl, and I wasn't prepared for how emotional I'd feel at one, being back in class; and two, being in class with Panda.  And my mother.  We weren't halfway through the first plié combination when I was getting teary.  And now I have this amazing picture of three generations at the barre:

Also taking class was Jen and Anne Marie, both of whom were my mother's students as well.  Being with them in class was like traveling back in time.  It felt so familiar...and yet it was different.  You could just see in our carriages that we remembered all the training, but so much unneeded luggage of youth has been left behind and to hell with perfection - now is the time to just dance.  It was also humorous how many times we each had to break and turn our knees in to relieve our howling joints, or massage a cramp out of our arch.  My body felt okay that night, but by Wednesday afternoon my calves and hips were filing for divorce.

Last, a preview of my next "Reads" post.  It's easy to say that a book is one of your favorites so I just want you to get an idea of what neighborhood of favorite I mean when I talk about In this House of Brede:

It is a book very beloved to me.

Bare Cupboards

There is not a thing to eat in this house. The canister of coffee has ten beans in it. Panda and I just ate the last four eggs, soft-boiled, without toast because there is neither bread, nor butter to be had. The produce drawers in the fridge are empty. I think I could manage chili if I needed to. The truth is I haven't cooked a dinner all week. With the advent of spring sports, the weeknights are dissolving.

Mondays are my city day and I get home around 7:00. Jeeps made tacos on Monday.

Tuesdays Panda has her dance classes and Redman will have soccer practice, and the family eats together, but not until 7:30. This Tuesday I brought home Boston Chicken.

Wednesday is a universal free day, but I am whipped, fried, exhausted from work. Wednesday I made the lima bean salad which we ate with leftover chicken, and I did make Oma's cake.

Thursdays Panda has dance again and Redman will have baseball. This Thursday we had pizza.

Fridays are free, thank God, but last night Redman had a Cub Scout thing and I had been in the city for a meeting. I pulled into the driveway just in time to see the boys off, they were going to grab a piece of pizza in town before the scout meeting. I made two ham-and-cheese pizzas for us girls, and another lima bean salad, improvising because I had neither parsley nor parmesan. The dishwasher hadn't been run. Panda and I ate without silverware, sharing a plastic spoon as we dipped the lima beans right out of the serving bowl, watching Food Network together. All our favorite shows: Iron Chef America, Chopped, and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. We had a fine time and this is what I need to hold onto because she is getting so tall, and there are moments when I look at her and my heart turns inside out. Better to cuddle on the couch holding hands and eating lima beans.

I don't know what I'm going to do about blogging. Just keep doing it, I guess. Often I just make dinner out of whatever's around, and the blog works the same way. I love to cook but when you get down to it, who cooks something different every day, all year long? Cooking is cyclical. You have a dependable, seasonal repertoire of recipes that you circle through, occasionally throwing in a surprise. Cooking is a source of comfort in the dark, winter months, but as the weather gets nicer, I only want to be outside. As my garden grows, I look to see what's ready to harvest and build dinner around that. But right now Spring seems to be sulking. I'm just waiting for seeds to sprout and wondering what the hell happened to those daffodils—this time last year they were in full bloom along my stone wall, and this year they are nowhere to be found. If I didn't have pictures of them, I'd swear I dreamed them up.

Right now I'm really tired and I have to take Panda to dance class in an hour. So I'm going to put on my boots and go outside.

Come with?

Signs of Spring

The weather has been nice to me and my anxiety lately. Remember not so long ago it looked like this outside:

All that snow on top of snow on top of snow, and it seemed like it would never go away. Well it has. Apart from a tiny patch in a northeast corner of the yard, the snow has gone and the temperatures are rising. During the day I try to step away from the computer and go outside for oxygen as often as I can, to walk around and regroup and see if anything has emerged from the ground since I went outside 2 hours ago.

The Lenten roses (Hellebores) never let me down. They are an expensive plant if you buy them full-sized at the nursery. I bought a bunch online a few years ago. They were cheaper but they come as babies—one leaf on a stem, and it's taken this long for them to put out flowers. But so worth the wait.

And then it's St. Patrick's Day, which heralds the official time to start seedlings. Actually, the date truly only applies to peas, which are direct-sown into the ground, but I've adapted it to suit my own needs and I start my broccoli and tomato seedlings indoors.

In case you are wondering, that is the original 60-cell Bio Dome sold by Park Seed, available here and a terrific investment for any avid gardner. Mine is like ten years old and in great shape, I just buy the sponge refills every year or steal them from my friend Jen (she hates that).

So all this has contributed to me not reading a damn thing, and dinner being scrambled eggs and pizzas the past few days. I managed to throw together a 3-bean salad tonight and now I'm exhausted. But I thought I should at least explain my whereabouts.  My friend Stacie is keeping the ERT dream alive by cooking everything I ever blogged about, bless you my child.  Her friend in Germany made the black bean fritters the other night. International exposure, how cool is that?!

God Bless All in This House

Our friends Pat and Claudia throw a hell of a St. Patrick's Day party every year.  It's a true herald of spring and I always look forward to it.  While usually the festivities are held at their house, this year St. Patrick's was combined with St. Pat's 50th birthday, which is a much grander affair and so the party was moved to their community clubhouse.  As all-out as they normally go, it was even more all-out, and the Irish passion is so contagious. First of all: the food. They do the traditional menu of corned beef and the cabbage and the boiled potatoes and the soda bread. Big chafing dishes set out in a long buffet; I hit the line at least 3 times and if you are not paying attention I will cut in front of you and take the last potato. Nary a vegetable in sight but who cares. The corned beef falls apart as you try to serve yourself, pink and perfect. Most people make sandwiches but I prefer to just dip forkful after forkful in mustard. Fantastic. And cabbage...who eats boiled cabbage at any other time but St. Pat's and does it ever taste as good? Every year I tell myself, "I should make this at home," but I never do and then it's a year later and I'm at the McGuinnesses eating cabbage and telling myself, "I should make this at home."


Next: the entertainment. This is a multi-media theatrical experience. Pat has Irish music cued up and printed-up sheet lyrics so everyone can sing along. And you will sing. You can’t help but sing. There are the die-hards who need no stinkin’ lyrics, and they stand arm-in-arm, swaying and gesturing and stomping.

“There was a wild colonial boy, Jack Dugan was his name He was born and raised in Ireland, in a place called Castlemaine He was his father's only son, his mother's pride and joy And dearly did his parents love the wild colonial boy”

And then the rest of us, following along and barely able to sing because we’re laughing so hard. And it’s not like these are cheerful songs!

“Look at the coffin with golden handles Isn't it grand boys to be bloody well dead? Let's not have a sniffle, Let's have a bloody good cry And always remember the longer you live, The sooner you'll bloody well die!”

It’s so bad it’s wonderful.


In between songs, we cut to the TV where Pat has compiled all the good dance segments from “Riverdance”. Yes, make fun of Michael Flatley’s mullet and do your own version of the stepping, but God Forbid you stand in front of the screen. HEY! DOWN IN FRONT!!! I gotta tell you, I am a sucker for Irish dancing and that opening sequence of Riverdance gets me every time. The dancers in black and green, slowly turning to face the audience with their stony stares. And that first riff - Chagga-da-CHA! Step, drag toe. Chagga-da-CHA! Step, drag toe. Chagga-da-CHA! Chagga-da-CHA! Chagga-da-CHA! I get chills, I admit it, no shame here.



And the kids are running amok and the beer is flowing and Pat has the little shrine set up with shot glasses of Jameson’s and every half-hour or so comes the call “GOD BLESS ALL IN THE HOUSE!” and you step up and take a shot.

It’s such a great party. I wish I could bring my parents to it one year, they would get such a kick. I know my Mom would be singing away!

"O-ro the rattlin' bog, the bog down in the valley-o O-ro the rattlin' bog, the bog down in the valley-o"