Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Finding the Art in Cuisinart...

An essential culinary tool, and my arch enemy

Most reputable chefs and cook book authors require, as part of the cooking process in a recipe or two, the use of a Cuisinart. This is a food processor. It chops, it dices, it pulses, it splices. With its invention, this machine ushered in an entirely new era of cooking. At home chefs could re create amazing culinary delights previously only found in restaurants and pastry shops. Wonderful soups, delicious pastry. Its all possible with the amazing Cuisinart.

I hate the Cuisinart.

The other night I was working very late in the kitchen. John was traveling, the kids asleep, and I was preparing for guests the next evening. Hummus was on the menu, for dipping various vegetables and crackers. Hummus is such a simple recipe when you have a Cuisinart.

Only, I am Cuisinart impaired. I know the reason it has such a very special way of 'clicking' itself together is so multi-thumbed individuals, people with low IQ's and children cannot operate it - thus saving them from sliced fingers and slashed multiple thumbs.

I cannot make the lid click into place. And because it is made of plastic, I am terrified that if I force the click I will break it, breaking the essential kitchen tool and causing an irreconcilable difference between myself and my Cuisinart loving spouse. He can create in the kitchen with the Cuisinart.

I cannot.

What does this say about my dexterity, my IQ?

First, I must stir the tahini that has separated. I spatula it into the bowl of the machine, the blade securely in place. Then comes the latching of the lid. Only, for me there is no latch. No click. So I reposition the bowl. As I remove the bowl I realize that the blade will now not be put back into its place properly-it will be bumped up and over the tahini, causing the oil of the sesame substance to drip down into the bowels of the machine.

I cuss. And then I feel guilty, because even though no one is around, I know Heaven hears me in my weakness. And heaven alone sees my ineptitude around this fundamental kitchen tool.

The mess cleaned up, the blade put back, the bowl on correctly, the lid latched with its affirming click. I pulse the machine on.

when I use this kitchen gadget I don't care how the food turns out. Just hearing the sound of the machine properly doing its mixing or chopping is confirmation that I conquered the complexity of the Cuisinart. I have successfully engineered the beast!

After the tahini is mixed, I must go through the process all over again; put the bowl on securely, put the blade in correctly, add ingredients (garbanzo beans, garlic, tahini and a shot of cumin seed along with salt, pepper and olive oil).

And though I've checked my mechanical bearings, I come up short again. The lid will not click...it mocks me a second time.

I swear once again...only this time I don't feel guilty.

the same humiliating result. The same mess of a solution. The bowl is disassembled. The ingredients spill over, the blade moves from its vital place.

Cuisinart failure again.

After the humiliation subsides and the cussing streak ends, I carefully correct the mistake I've made before. The blade in its sweet secure spot, the ingredients are replaced, the lid clicks in just like it should. As if it were that simple.

The pulsing and mixing commence. Hummus is the end result.

and my hatred for the artful Cuisinart is heartily reinforced.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cleaning House...

looking ahead; photo taken in Johannesburg

enjoying the moment with sister Jess: photo taken in Sweden

Welcoming Porter: photo taken in Dallas

enjoying a moment with Evelina: photo taken in Boise

looking back, looking forward: photo taken in Utah, a long time ago

Cleaning house comes in many forms. A friend of ours was telling me that this weekend she cleaned out from behind her bed. She has no children yet, just her and her husband. She was appalled at what she found (the dust, the dirt) between her headboard and her wall.

Sometimes we clean house by cleaning out the garage. Sometimes we clean house by giving away/getting rid of holiday decorations that are dated or just unused and taking up space.

Right now I'm in the process of cleaning out my computer. Or cleaning it off. I have to install the latest operating system on my laptop and I don't have enough hard drive to hold it, so I've attached a little external hard drive and have been, when I have time, copying all my photos from my laptop to the drive, later to be downloaded onto our big home computer where the majority of our photos are kept.

It has been quite a walk down memory lane to copy and clear out the photos. When the machine was given to me it had been 'loaded up' with years worth of memories. Sweden, Boise, Dallas, the birth of Porter and the arrivals of Molly and Lucy all scrolling before my eyes as I 'dump' those memories onto the little blinking hard drive that sits beside my little laptop.

Time is flying by, I see it as I scroll. Children are growing. Our adventures living abroad, our time away from 'home' in Utah, all back there in the past. All being 'stored', moved, cleaned out...making room for future scenes, future experiences, future changes to our family.

Its made me desperately want to slow down. To 'stop the train' from moving so fast, so seemingly out of control. These words resonate in my mind every day, and yet when I pray (fervently!) to know what to let go of, how to slow down, the answer has not yet come.

So I continue to look to the things that lie ahead, and try to pleasantly remember the things that are behind us. And accept that cleaning house-in all its forms-is a natural part of this life's experience.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It feels like a year ago but...

we actually just got back from Hawaii. Just John and me. Just 4 nights. Just blue skies. Just SURFING. Just SNORKLING. Just amazing shave ice, lots of hand holding, beautiful scenery and dreams come true (swimming with sea turtles, surfing and sea kayaking not to mention complete yoga instruction at sunset on the beach. DREAMS COME TRUE for me)

We have been home I think 3 weeks. It feels like a year. It has been so frantic that I've hardly had time to remember. But the trip was sweet. It was beautiful. It was thoughtful. It was romantic and wonderful. Thank you John for such a gift; for so many gifts from you to show me that even at 40 you are glad I belong with you...

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Halloween Review

Lucy: 'Asian Princess'
Molly: 'Fairytale Princess'
Porter: 'Ute Football Player' second year running
Madi: 'Pink Lady'

Mason: Indian with small date. Though I had sworn off costumes for anyone older than 12, Mason was asked to the girls choice masquerade ball, so we crafted a costume for him

I have said many times that I do not like Halloween.
It is true.
I think it is expensive.
I think it glorifies violence and just plain scary stuff.
And I think it takes LOTS of time to prepare costumes, parties and parades when the thing we celebrate-the origin of the day-is the warding off of evil spirits, or the celebration of them.


But here is the one thing I do like:

I like to trick or treat with my kids.

I don't ask for candy.
But I do say hello to my neighbors.
And I always meet someone I didn't know before who lives just down (or up, or around the) the street from me.
And I do talk to my children as we walk.
And I see them say hello to their friends, to their church teachers, and to others who know and love them.

That's what I like about this day.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Crossing the fine line...

This is what you see from the front door, if anyone were to come to my home they would (rightly) believe it unkempt and untidy

This is our kitchen counter: see the cool new white breadbox? It is supposed to be a secret hiding place for all those papers you see scattered all over the place. The bags running down the length of the hallway? Things that need to be returned to various stores as we prepare for our yearly family photo shoot...and trash from cleaning out the car. We are a mess I tell you, we are such a mess!

So, name that movie:
"There's a fine line between clever and stupid"

I crossed this line about the second week of school

There is a false perception that once all your kids are in school you have more time to do things you choose...

I believed this perception and am now knee deep in wonderful comittments which take time away from my home, or time in my home but not concentrating on my home.

As the photos show above, I have also believed in a false perception that I had taught my children 'a place for everything and everything in its place' sufficiently for them to practice this principal when their parental conscience is not reminding said children to remember to put things in their place.

I am living in messes I don't have time to clean up. And I have made (wonderful, exciting, worthwhile) messes elsewhere in our community that I have an obligation to 'finish up' in a successful manner.

I'm excited to tell write about these wonderful messes, because they revolve around the growth of my children in ways I want them to grow (as community servants and as more open minded and better bilingually educated individuals). But we are not used to my being thus engaged in 'doing good' among our fellow men, and the family-especially the mother of this family-is dealing with a lot of shock and awe at the things our home and family are going without in the name of serving the community.

I'm not sure its worth all the glorious wonderful things that I hoped for when I committed. I guess only time will tell if they've made the positive difference that makes the mess worth while.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Lucy's excitement for snow...

she watched the snow fall for at least 15 minutes, complete contentment written all over her face.

Lucy: "Mom, did Santa make the snow?"
Mom: "Lucy, you know who made snow...think about it....."
Lucy: "Jesus?"
Mom: "That's right Lu"
Lucy:"He made it so FUN!"

Our winter angel. Born in Asian summer.
Enjoying the welcome of snow to the Spruces.

Its nice to be blogging again.

I'm trying to run my life instead of letting it run me over...
taking back time to write and think is a very good first step