Saturday, February 23, 2013

Salmon Curry with Vegetables

This gets full marks in all the important categories: tasty, quick, frugal, healthy, and sustainable. The only hurdle, for people unfamiliar with canned salmon, is the horrific sight that confronts you when you open the can. There is slimy skin, there is mysterious orange oil floating on top of a grey liquid that smells of cheap cat food, and there are bones that look like they'd be more comfortable in a natural history museum. But persevere! Canned salmon is generally (always?) wild caught from sustainable fisheries, it's full of healthy fats, and those creepy bones are soft enough to eat. Just crush them between your fingers and throw them into the mix. They're a great source of calcium. The omega-3-full orange oil should get used too, so don't pour off the liquid. It mixes right into the curry sauce.

Salmon Curry with Vegetables
serves three or four

4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon oil
2 tsp curry powder

1 15-oz can coconut milk

1 tablespoon fish sauce (or more to taste)
1 tablespoon lime juice (or more to taste)
2 tsp sugar

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and chopped (2 or 3 cups)
one red pepper, chopped

one bunch of scallions, chopped
1 7-oz can red salmon (skin chopped up, bones squished into bonemush, flesh gently flaked)

Heat your largest frying pan. Fry the garlic and ginger in the oil. Once it's soft and fragrant, add the curry powder and let it toast in the oil for a few minutes, until it's a little darker. Stir in the coconut milk, fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar.

Let it reduce a little bit while you prep the vegetables. Once you're practically ready to eat, heat the sauce to a wild boil, and toss in the asparagus. Once it's heated through, toss in the red pepper. Once that's hot, stir in the salmon and scallions. Serve with rice.

Going Out For Lunch! Or, Fish Cakes

Step One: Give up eating meat for Lent (fish is okay).

Step Two: Find yourself (with spouse and child) downtown at lunchtime, chilly and peckish.

Step Three: Try to find a place that is open, has some food that includes a pescatarian option, and is willing and able to cook and sell this food.

Step Four: Give up on Step Three. For extra credit, avoid familial squabbles!

Step Five: Take the bus home and make fish cakes for lunch.

Easy Fish Cakes
1/2 lb mild white fish, cooked and flaked
1/3 cup panko
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 egg
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Combine, form into small cakes, and fry in a little oil until golden brown. Eat with leftover sauteed greens, avocado slices, and peanut sauce. Vow to never again eat restaurant food.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Noisy Village Dumplings

Cleo likes to listen to audio books when she's sick. Well, she likes to listen to one audio book: Astrid Lindgren's The Children of Noisy Village. After listening to the whole two-hour book as many times as she's had a cold this winter (so, so many times), I suggested a few other options.

No. Noisy Village or nothing. So, by now, I could probably recite the whole thing from memory. Let's see... "My name is Lisa, and I am nine years old. I am a girl, which you can tell by my name." I could go on. I will not. It's a sweet story, about six Swedish children growing up in the countryside and their antics and accomplishments.

In one chapter, there's a dramatic snow storm, through which the children must walk home from school. They struggle through the snow, get rescued in a horse-drawn sleigh, and go home for hot beef broth and dumplings. This inspired Cleo's first book-induced food craving. She requested it for dinner, with great enthusiasm and shining eyes, and (with the help of the internet, the freezer and the pantry) we were eating it a couple hours later.

I guess Swedish dumplings are usually potato-based, but I was limited to flour-and-egg dumplings, so I tracked down and adapted this recipe. I doubt there's anything Swedish about it, but it was delicious, frugal, easy, and a great parent-child kitchen project (especially if you use a plastic pizza wheel to cut the dough). They're like thick, chewy, tender noodles. I have no idea how they are the next day, since we inhaled them.

Flat Dumplings for Soup
serves two or three

1.25 cups white whole wheat flour, plus extra for rolling out
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
4 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons water

In a big bowl, beat together eggs, oil, water, and salt. Add the flour and mix to make a sticky dough. Chill one hour (next time, I'm skipping this step, just in the interests of research). Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Meanwhile, sprinkle a large cutting board with flour. Dust the dough with flour, and divide it in two. Using half the dough at a time, gently spread/stretch/roll the dough out on the cutting board to about 1/8" thick. Cut the dough into little pieces-- ours were about 1/4" by an inch or two. Variations in size seemingly had no effect on quality, so put down your ruler and go nuts with the pizza wheel. Gently slide the dumplings off the board and into the boiling water, and cover. Boil 8-10 minutes, then scoop out the finished dumplings. Repeat with the other half of the dough. I held the finished dumplings in ice water until the soup was ready for them, and that worked well. Next time, I might skip that step (again, research/laziness).

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Days These Days: Four and a Half

Another year, another blog post. How do I maintain this punishing schedule of constant updates? Yes. Well. Hello, there.

I realized the other day, after wondering to myself what had happened to my blog, that parenting used to be physically grueling. It's manual labor, caring for infants and toddlers, and so much of what you do is repetitive, exhausting, unrelenting, and tedious. There's profound sweetness and love in there too, of course, but it doesn't require that much of the talky/write-y parts of the brain. It's about half sheer physical work and half heady, all-consuming love. While I was doing that kind of parenting, my verbal brain was looking for an outlet. My dear stalwart husband got all the paranoid hypothetical questions about child development (or lack thereof), my cadre of mom-friends got all the commiserating about input and output (ahem), but I had all these sentences and paragraphs growing up in my brain that had nowhere else to go. When I sat down to write in those days, it was like turning on a tap. The water pressure was there, waiting. Or maybe it was more like weeding a garden. It was ready to be picked, to be yanked out and bagged up, to be said and spelled and written.

Parenting a four year old, though, exercises every bit of my verbal brain. Life is conversation, conjecture, evaluation, and an endless series of what-ifs. At the end of the day, when everyone but me is sleeping, what I most want is to Not Talk. To finally stop expressing myself. To absorb a little frivolous information from the internet, to read a tiny little bit of some neglected novel, to drink a whole cup of tea while it's still hot, and then to go to sleep. This is not a recipe for frequent blog updates.

So, in the interests of better-late-than-never, or maybe better-done-than-perfect, here's where we are these days.

4:00 The Dada of the House gets up and goes upstairs to his office. He does this so that he can get some work done at an hour when no one will call him, no one will have a dentist appointment, no client will have a crisis, and no one will need any forts built out of the couch cushions. He likes it, he says, and it works out really well. The hardest part, apparently, is going to bed early enough. The second hardest part is getting up at four AM. Other than that, it's great. I sleep through all this quite soundly.

5:15 Cleo wakes up. She has been instructed to snuggle with her guys (large rabbit, small rabbit, clown, giraffe, fox, turtle), close her eyes, and try to get back to sleep. This usually works.

5:45 Cleo wakes up again and plays quietly until it's officially morning at 6:30. Today it was explained to her that "playing quietly" (already established: not knocking down block towers or jumping off the bed) should not include a jaunty version of London Bridge is Falling Down over and over for forty minutes. The gleeful phrase "take the key and lock 'im up" is now seared into my subconscious. That will be what they find me humming in my wheelchair in the nursing home.

6:30 Cleo and Dada head downstairs for breakfast-- it's usually rice and eggs, oatmeal, or homemade granola these days. After a few rounds of domestic diplomacy, it was determined that he would handle breakfast, pack a school lunch when necessary, and generally do all AM feeding and cleaning while I would sleep in and stumble out of bed in time to heave myself and Cleo into the car for the trip to preschool. In exchange for this, I do both drop-off and pick-up every school day. We arrived at this arrangement after we realized that my idea of hell was packing school lunches twice a week and his idea of hell was driving to school and back, ever. A sweet deal for everyone, I think. But these things are always up for negotiation. Next year, School Bus. Gasp.

7:40 I get out of bed, dress with at least one eye open, and then we head to the car. Cleo runs laps around the car while I unlock my door, poke the main unlock button, close my door, and open her door. Between my slowness and her fleetness of foot, she generally manages three or four laps. She's been up for two hours. I've been up for two minutes. During the drive, we discuss traffic laws, whether or not anyone around us is speeding, which intersections are tricky intersections, the weather forecast, the chances they will play outside at school, whether today is Library, Music or Gym, and the state of the sky as we drive over the bridge. We often agree that it is beautiful.

8:00 We arrive at preschool along with everyone else, a small, dusty hatchback in a herd of glossy, muscular SUVs. I forfeit the game of slow-motion parking lot rugby, and park on the street. We walk in, and it melts my mother heart that Cleo still chooses to hold my hand and walk with me, rather than running ahead. She stows her gear (snow pants, boots, library book, lunch, sweater) and gallops off to play. Her world this year is more gendered than she's been used to, with The Girls and The Boys really dividing themselves into little gangs. We hear a few tiny little bits about how she's navigating this. "Cleo's the only girl who will play Star Wars!" and "Cleo's the funniest person I know!" and "I hate girls. Except Cleo." All quotes from boys in her class, reported by their parents. She's also starting to get more interested in clothes and "beautiful" things (where beautiful=pink or purple or embellished with flowers), but it's clear that she's investigating that almost anthropologically. If left to her own devices, she will pick very colorful clothes and toys, with no thought to matching or conventional girliness. When she's tuning in to other people and social environments, she will request or admire pink/purple/sparkly things. It's hard to know how to support both her individuality and her very human desire to fit in with what she sees around her. My main strategy is to not take her shopping with me if possible, so that I can buy colorful, fun clothes for her that don't strictly adhere to the conventional feminine aesthetic, and she can weigh in on what she wants to wear from those choices. And the less "Daddy's Little Princess" clothing she sees, the better. Oof. It's only eight AM, and we're already into gender roles and aesthetics.

Better done than perfect did I say? I'm going to wrap this up so it doesn't linger in "Drafts" for six months.

1:00 School Pick Up, come home, see Dada, snack.

2:00 Snack, a little playing, naptime. Yes! She is still napping. At an age when almost all of her age-mates have stopped napping, she still totally zonks out for a solid hour or two in the middle of the day. Occasionally I gripe about how this cramps our style socially, but Cleo's beloved babysitter, who has her finger on the pulse of four year olds across the city, advised that we keep it up as long as possible. Her tales of afternoon woe and malfeasance among the napless were sobering. So, yes, Cleo still naps. We will wean her off of it right before kindergarten next fall, if necessary.

5:00 I get home, Cleo's dear Dada goes back to his office to complete his fourteen hour workday (with "breaks" for meals and childcare). Man, I'm impressed with that guy. He always responds to my statements to that effect by saying that he's only trying to be the man I deserve. He's overshooting the mark by quite a bit, I think. Cleo and I have an hour and a half to make dinner, play, read books, and possibly enter into video negotiations. Two smiley faces on the chart equals two 12-minute episodes of Busytown Mysteries. The latest development: cleaning up the whole living room (toy central) completely independently without being asked earns an unprecedented three smiley faces.

6:30 Dinner. Cleo remains a good eater, especially if I've been a hardass and not let her snack on demand in the hour before we sit down. For support, I channel my dear grandmother, who would sweetly tell her four daughters that of course they could have a snack before dinner-- there are some lovely celery and carrot sticks all ready in the fridge. In Cleo's case, I give her a choice of apple slices or carrot sticks, which is usually met with a grumpy, "I changed my mind. I don't want a snack" and a little stomping, before she forgets why she was grumpy and goes back to skipping.

7:30 Bedtime routine: Dada brushes teeth, then I step in for pajamas, story, song, and negotiations. These usually end by 8:15 at the latest, and she chats and sings to herself for a little while before nodding off. She's been in a twin bed for a while now, and is all done with night time diapers, accidents, falling out of bed, and pacifiers (cold turkey, with notice, on her fourth birthday). The only thing that gets us up at night anymore is the very occasional bloody nose or throw up, and that could happen to anyone. It seemed to take forever while we were living through it, but now it feels like middle-of-the-night parenting was just another phase we got through.

10:50 (right now) Holy moley. It is late. Good night.

Thursday, April 05, 2012


I have to confess: I've been giddily over-shopping for Cleo's Easter basket. There are multiple bunnies, many grams of high-fructose corn syrup, and shreds of blue excelsior that are destined to live forever in the fibers of our dining room rug. There are also two new dresses, and even a matching dress for Baby Cousin who we're not seeing until May. Even after a mild winter, there's something that happens in my brain when spring comes and Easter gets close: "Eeeeeee! Little girls in white tights! Colored eggs! Those insanely cute mini daffodils!"

I need to do a little deep breathing. And then I need to put away all the groceries in the world, that are currently waiting for me on the kitchen floor (lamb! asparagus! dozens of eggs! heavy cream!). Happy Spring, everyone.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Happy Halloween

Cleo went as a lamb. I was mutton dressed as lamb. Okay, a mama sheep. Very close.

This afternoon, as I was singing her to sleep for her nap, we had this exchange:

Cleo: "Next Howlaween, I want to dress up as Dark Vader, okay?"
Me: "Um, sure, sweetie. That's fine" (pause) "Do you know someone who dressed up as Darth Vader this year?"
Cleo, breathily, impressed: "Ian!"

So, there you go. Innocent lamb one minute, wooed by the dark side (boys!) the next. Babyhood is quite definitely over.

Friday, February 04, 2011

This One's For You, Sprout

One of my dear sisters-in-law has just managed to leave her beloved Egypt (with her husband, mother and two small children). Her fortitude, resourcefulness, and bravery are remarkable, and her fellow Egyptians who are fighting for their freedom are just as impressive. If you live in the US, please take a moment to urge the White House to keep up the pressure on Mubarak to step down immediately. Here are phone numbers:

Comments: 202-456-1111
Switchboard: 202-456-1414
FAX: 202-456-2461

Another of my dear sisters-in-law is outdoing even The Great Kingsolver in finding ways to eat locally, sustainably, and deliciously. They're making their own cured meat! From their own lovingly-raised animals! And what are you doing this week?

And my third dear sister-in-law is not only getting her PhD in General Awesomeness and Smartitude (or something like that), she's making a brand new human being. Inside her very own body! From scratch! It's mind-blowing. 

Which brings me to my two points today. One: I am related to amazing women. Two: I have a lot of opinions about baby gear. My pregnant sister-in-law just asked for some advice in the gear and stuff department, and I figured a blog response, with its linkable links and searchable terms, might be the most convenient way to reply. So, for you, dear mother-to-be of my niece or nephew Sprout, are my best gear tips:

Ergo Baby Carrier. We started using this as soon as Cleo could hold her head up, and she's still comfy in it at age two and a half. It's flexible, adjustable, comfortable, and sturdy. However, for the first few months, we only used...

The Moby Wrap. I LOVED the Moby wrap. For the whole first year, I could wrap Cleo up snugly next to me-- we used three or four different positions as she got bigger and stronger and heavier. When she was small and slept a lot, I could actually work with her in there! I adored it, and so did Cleo. But not all kids like being that confined. I wouldn't buy it until after the baby's born, so you can tell if Sprout is a "wrap-me-upper" or a "don't-fence-me-inner"

Aden and Anais swaddling blankets. Cleo loved being swaddled, and it calmed her right down. These blankets are thin, soft, and very big. We loved them and used them constantly. I feel like I could still swaddle a newborn in my sleep. And will do so if asked!

Nosefrida and saline spray. Cleo doesn't exactly liked being squirted up the nose and then hoovered out, but it sure helps with stuffiness. Way better than the bulb syringes.

Baby Bjorn bouncer. She slept in this at night for the first few months, when she wasn't in our bed or her cradle. I have a clear memory of hanging one arm off the side of the bed, so I could bounce her as I "slept." We liked this one, but there are lots of baby bouncers and there's no need to spend this much. The major benefit of this one is it's foldability and non-cutesy style. I also hear raves about battery-powered baby swings, but we never got one.

A travel bed/bassinet/moses basket. This one is fantastic-- lightweight, folds down to travel, can have rocker-legs or sit flat on the floor, has a sunshade, and the handle folds down. Ours was a gift from the grandparents that Sprout and Cleo have in common, and is yours if you want it!

Baby Bjorn travel bed. When Sprout's a little bigger, this is the travel bed to get. It's like a pack-and-play except lighter, simpler, more compact, less dumb and more good in every way. And we have used both. There's one you can test drive at the grandparents' house. 

The great stroller issue... We started out with a snap-n-go, which is a frame that you just plop the infant car seat into. It worked great, and was way cheaper than the infant carrier conversion kit that our fancy stroller was made for. Speaking of the fancy stroller, I love it. It has gotten a beating over the last two and a half years, and I'm only now starting to wish we'd treated it nicer (we tend to leave it out on the porch, and the sliding mechanism is getting a little sticky). The only drawbacks are that there's not much cargo space, and it's so not a one-handed fold/unfold. But I love that it stands alone while folded, and its maneuverability and ability to handle rough terrain are awesome. It's also compact and lightweight for how big and sturdy it is. If you use disposable diapers, this is a great way to get them. Free quick shipping and good prices. Or look into the Amazon Subscribe and Save program, where the diapers are slightly cheaper, and you sign up for regular deliveries.

The exercise/yoga/pilates ball. This saved our lives. We loved it so much, we traveled with one. If Cleo was overtired, it never failed for us hold her tight, bounce really hard, sing really loud, and just outlast her. It also makes a good footstool to use with...

A glider. They are big, ugly, and expensive. But if you ever end up holding Sprout during naps, it will make you cry tears of gratitude if you can put your feet up, lay your head back, and snooze a little too. We used our (hideous, hand-me-down, four-babies-and-counting) glider with strategically placed small pillows to make everyone really comfortable and secure. Most gliders can either rock or be locked in position. That was a nice feature, since you could lock it in a semi-reclined position, for maximum parental comfort. And yes, I'm sure someone at the AAP is getting hives since I talked about nodding off in a chair while holding a child. It worked for us. I do not guarantee that it's a sensible idea for anyone else.

Sleep sacks and a space heater. We keep our house cold at night, but we want the good old baby to be warm. What to do? She's not exactly a pro at keeping a blanket on, so once she graduated from swaddling (six months? eight?), we moved on to the sleep sack. She did recently discover how to unzip it, and also how to unsnap all four thousand snaps on her pajamas. The adorable/pathetic result of this is that when we checked on her before going to bed ourselves, we found her huddled in the corner of her crib, sound asleep, naked except for her diaper. Poor kid. I picked her up, re-pajama-ed her, and put her back down. She barely woke up. The next night, we told her that we had a special new way to put on her sleepy suit! Backwards! How funny! Works great.

An infant nail clipper is not necessary. You can just bite 'em off until you're comfortable using grownup clippers, and you can be much more precise and gentle with your teeth than with a fiddly little tool.

If Sprout uses a pacifier, you might want a night time pacifier retention device. We made our own by securely sewing one of these pacifiers to the hand of one of these bunnies.

Cotton flannel wipes. When I thought we were going to do cloth diapers, we got a supply of these. We ending up going with disposable diapers, but those wipes have been great for spit ups, highchair wipe downs, hand wipes, face wipes, nose blows, etc. They're sturdy, soft, washable, and plentiful. We probably put a dozen in every load of hot white laundry we do. So 12 or 18 wipes should do it, if you want to always be able to grab one.

See Kai Run shoes. These are expensive, but awesome. Cheap kids shoes are a terrible thing: stiff, slippery, crappy, pinchy, bad (one exception: we found some comfy Ugg-style winter boots at Target). Scrimp on the baby clothes, where there are lots of great ways and places to save. But go for the good stuff with shoes. My advice is to let the grandparents and aunts and uncles know that shoes are an excellent gift and here's the size we need right now. These shoes were Cleo's first. Sigh.

A white noise machine. We only started using this later, maybe around a year or eighteen months, but it really helped Cleo keep sleeping once she was asleep.

The Green Light! Again, a bigger-kid item, but it has saved us from the horror of waking up every morning at 4:15. You set the clock so it lights up at the appointed wake-up time, and explain the the little dear that morning does not begin until that light comes on. Before that, it's time for sleeping.

Sippy cups. These are for older kids, obviously, but learn from us: pick one kind of inexpensive and widely available cup, and stick to that. Otherwise, you'll have an avalanche of mismatched plastic and silicon parts threatening to engulf your kitchen and you can never find the right damn part when you need it. Most are BPA-free now, and if you don't put them in the dishwasher and you replace them when they start to look worn, I think the health risks of plastic are pretty well minimized. We like the kind linked above since they don't leak, and they only have three parts, unlike some that have up to seven parts per cup. 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Wrap-Up, Brought to You by Christmas Smack-Down

The Christmas Smack-Down is called walking pneumonia (or, as they like to call it these days, "atypical pneumonia" which, as my dad helpfully pointed out, is only appropriate). The good news is that I feel pretty well, as long as I don't do anything helpful or productive. Stairs, more than a few minutes of brisk walking, and a little feeble snow-sweeping have all sent me to my bed in the last few days.

The even better news is that I get enough down time to write a blog post! Oh boy! And so I'm going to commit to the immortal brain that is the internet all the things I want to remember for next year's holidays. So, Christmas Wrap-Up:

1) Singing and candlelight are a magical combination. We lit the advent wreath every Sunday evening, and sang O Come, O Come Emmanuel. The lyrics can be found here. This lovely practice has led to a certain two-year-old wandering around, mutter-singing "an' ranson cappive I-i-isra-rew" in a husky alto. Here's a sweet, if not strictly traditional, rendition by Sufjan Stevens (who is blessed among singer-songwriters for producing Christmas music that everyone in our house likes to listen to).

2) I have discovered The Easiest Recipe in the World (That Can Still Be Served to Guests). It's a delicious roasted sausage/bean/tomato concoction, and it's even easier if you use canned tomatoes, frozen chopped onions and dried garlic bits (heretical? I don't care. A good dinner in four minutes worth of work trumps that kind of heresy). The next day, if you have leftovers, chop up the sausage and dump everything in a pot with a bag of frozen chopped kale and some chicken broth, and you get a super hearty and tasty soup.

3) Silver glitter-glue on brown paper makes elegant giftwrap. It takes a while to dry, so make big sheets of it right before you go to bed so you can monopolize the whole dinner table and maybe some of the kitchen counters. Just draw swirly lines and patterns with the glue bottle, and it'll leave a lovely raised glittery line.

4) Salt dough is a great kid activity, and if you're all crafty and fairly anal, you can make some surprisingly refined ornaments to keep or give away. Here are a couple beautiful examples of what's possible. For the little kids, of course, it's all about squishing and rolling and mashing and poking and just enough tiny little licks to establish that it tastes pretty bad, just like Mama said.

5) I can't cook whole poultry to save my life. Somehow, every single time, I manage to turn out a bird that's overcooked on top and still bloody on the bottom. Between those unappealing strata, there's always a thin band of perfectly cooked meat, but it's awfully hard to carve around. So, that will be my next kitchen challenge to master. And until I've done it, I'm not cooking another whole bird on a holiday. Next year, I'll make a hearty beef stew sometime in November and stash it in the freezer. On Christmas day, I'll heat it up, add some fresh vegetables, and we'll eat it with hot rolls, extra-good butter, and a pie for dessert. Rhubarb, if we see some in the store. 

6) Kids and icing are a classic combination. If you're decorating cookies with people less than a yard tall, Cheerios are a nice option along with (or instead of) sprinkles, colored sugars, and candies. The dry, savory crunch is actually a tasty combination with all that sugar. Other dry cereal would work too, of course. We might tackle gingerbread houses next year, and I can just see a roof thatched with Corn Chex. Royal icing is my adhesive of choice, although I noticed this recipe the other day, that looks like it might be a little tastier, what with the presence of actual butter.

7) Gingerbread makes extra-pretty decorated cookies. I used a recipe from my Great-Aunt Issy, which is spicy and easy. I made a double batch, which made enough for a cookie swap, an open studio party, four Christmas packages, and a good stash left over for the household. There are still two left, and they get better with a little age on them, so it wouldn't be a bad idea to bake them in late November next year.

(from Church Recipe Book, Lennoxville, Quebec)

1 cup shortening, butter or clear bacon fat
1 cup molasses
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. [baking] soda
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon

Boil together molasses, brown sugar, and shortening.  Cool and add beaten egg and dry ingredients.  CHILL OVERNIGHT.  Roll out 1/4 inch thick on generously floured board.  Use small amounts of dough, keeping remainder of dough in fridge.  Cut in desired shapes, place on ungreased pan and bake in moderate oven (325-350) for 10 minutes. 

[I learned that when "chill overnight" is in all caps, it means that it looks like cake batter when you first make it, and you'll be sure you've screwed it up. Fear not. As long as it's cold, it's nice and easy to handle, and is very hard to overwork since there's so little liquid in the dough to toughen the gluten (thanks to Joe Pastry for that geeky tip), so it's another good parent/kid project.]

8) Don't worry about finding a parking place for church on Christmas Eve. The church is packed, but the rest of downtown is deserted. Do remember quarters for the meter and some care packages with sandwiches and warm socks, because the only people still downtown are Parking Enforcement and the homeless.

9) I have a wonderful family and delightful friends. Cheers, all. Merry Christmas.