Archive for October, 2010

All Hallow’s Eve 2010

Today was the Second Annual Apple Cider Donuts Baking Extravaganza. Halloween seems like the perfect day for it.

You may recall we made these donuts last year. It seemed like a bigger deal back then; now we’re old pros. It doesn’t matter that the thermometer quit half way through and we had to borrow another one; they still turned out great!

It began with making the dough, which was then pressed down and placed in the freezer for 20 minutes. We used a biscuit cutter and a bottle cap to get the donut shapes:

Once you have them cut out, they go into the fridge to cool for another 20 minutes:

That’s just one pan, by the way. We made three.

Then comes the part that makes you feel good and bad all at the same time:

Yes, that’s melted shortening. Lard would be better if you ask me, but maybe next year. Now for the shot that will really make you cry:

This is why we do this only once a year.

After the excess oils dripped off, we laid them out and glazed them:

The only thing missing is a picture of me stuffing my face with a few of these babies, but I’m an ugly chewer so it’s just as well. I do have this picture of Mags looking very focused on the frying process:

And if donuts are a big bore to you, here’s something else: A five year old showed up at our door this evening trick-or-treating and she was dressed as a hairy eyeball:


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There’s a baby gate in my house.

A mom in the neighborhood was selling it for $10 and I thought it might come in handy down the road. It’s the first real kid item in this house and it feels weird…. I mean, books are one thing, but a baby gate is so… obvious.

I’ve been wanting to blog all week, but wasn’t in the mood. We’re still functioning as a rehab center over here more or less. Brian isn’t well yet, and we’re beginning to see this as a long-term process and praying it doesn’t interfere too much with our adoption. We’re taking it a day and a week at a time.

Last night was a wonderful break… for me, anyway. It was Irene’s birthday. Usually, she’s in some other part of the world on her birthday so it was fun to gather a small group of friends together and celebrate right here for a change.

We went to a new tapas restaurant in the neighborhood and it did not disappoint… I couldn’t resist taking my new camera and even though the lighting was low, I think these tasty morsels came out pretty well. (It didn’t hurt to have a professional photographer sitting beside me.)

Raw cheeses and naturally cured meats — yummy.

The greens in this salad are called “mache” — try it if you get the chance.

Homemade mini corn cakes with pork confit and a melted cheese with honey. Mmmmm.

We were impressed with the presentation of these lamb meatballs. I must say, “lamb balls” don’t sound very appetizing, but they definitely were.

The sangria would have made a pretty shot and I can’t believe I forgot. Too busy drinking it, I guess.

I have to show off my first gluten-free cake! Irene is wheat and gluten intolerant so I found a flourless chocolate cake recipe. It was decadent and delicious, especially with a little whipped cream on the side. Abby hosted dessert at her place and her eldest daughter arranged these forks… perfecto, huh?

This is a gaggle of tired girls, minus Abby who took the picture, but we had a lovely time.


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Wanted: Domesticity

I have to confess something.

I think I’ve confessed this before, but I’m a cyclical thinker.

I am not domestic. Never was. Probably never will be. When I was young, I didn’t have any interest in learning to cook or sew or do anything like that. I preferred to make my siblings watch me perform singing and dancing shows, or hunt for fossils, or be outside, or philosophize about life, or drum up lofty plans for the future. But domestic chores? Dull. And dull has never been my cup of tea.

Things haven’t changed much. I think I forgot this because I’m a home-body. I love home and I love being at home — and somehow it seems like this should go hand-in-hand with domesticity, but it doesn’t.

This was all brought home to me again recently for two reasons:

First, I bought my first vacuum cleaner.

I know. You’re wondering what kind of woman my age has never owned her own vacuum? Well, an undomestic kind, that’s who.

In my defense, we have mostly wood floors, and Mags lives around the corner so I just borrow hers when necessary because we have no place to put a vacuum in here. Before marriage, I had roommates with vacuums. Also, one time I did have one of those car vacuums and I made it work for everything. Then it broke.

Last week a neighbor was selling a brand new one for half price. Now, what kind of mother can I be without a vacuum? No kind. So I had to buy it.

The second thing that made me mourn my domestic goddess nature was that ever since Brian’s been unable to move, I’ve been cooking. A lot. Because he needs to eat healthy stuff and he needs to eat breakfast, which he usually doesn’t bother with.

Now, it’s no secret that I like to cook and I like to eat. I shop organic when possible. I buy from local farms. I’m all about good and healthy food. But I don’t like having to cook three meals a day, every day. I mean, seriously, who has time to cook three meals a day? And shop for three meals a day? And think up that many meals a day?

You people out there cooking three healthy meals a day, what are you on?

My friend Abby recently tried to make me feel better by telling me that part of what I’m missing is that most people don’t think of cooking the way I do. They throw canned soup on the stove, they stick frozen dinners in the oven, they wing it. They make stuff my husband and I don’t typically eat.

Maybe that’s my future.

Still, this is pathetic. Normal people cook and eat three meals a day. (And they have vacuum cleaners.) I can’t tell you how I feel when I think of my poor mother having to cook for a family of 11 (and often more) every day, year after year, in the middle of the country, where there was no take-out for the times you’re pulling your hair out. She is superwoman.

The sad thing is, I’m not a high-powered career woman either. At least if I had that excuse, it wouldn’t be so bad. No time to cook because I’m too busy focusing on my demanding career that has me jet-setting around the world saving millions of lives.

Nope. I work from home. So does my hubby. We’re not saving millions of lives at the moment. And still we forget to eat sometimes. Or we eat at crazy times. Or we get take out. Or whatever.

This does not bode well for being a mom because supposedly children need three meals a day plus snacks. Did you know this? And apparently when two small people come to live in this cramped house with us, it’s going to get dirtier and messier, and there’s going to be more laundry and more chores.

I think I’m in trouble.

Another case in the point: While I was writing this, I was supposed to be making homemade chicken pot pie and steamed broccoli for dinner. Now the hubby is starving so, um, I’m off to the Japanese restaurant for take-out.

Seriously, I’ve got to work on this.

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When we went through adoption training last year — a home study requirement — an experienced social worker took us through some of the scenarios we may face when we become an adoptive family.

Some of them had to do with things people can say when you’re least expecting it. We were encouraged to give some thought to such comments and questions beforehand so that we can be better prepared. Things like:

Where is their real mother? (or father?)

Where did you get them and how much did they cost? (Seriously, people ask this.)

Did you know they were going to be black? (said in a hushed tone)

Will they speak English?

Why didn’t you adopt children from the United States?

You name it, adoptive parents can get it.

It will always be evident everywhere we go as a family that our children are not biologically related to us. Which means we will stand out. And confuse people.

Luckily, I’m a little familiar with what it’s like to stick out and be on the receiving end of rude comments and clueless questions. As the eldest of nine children (eventually ten), whenever my mother had us anywhere… grocery store, mall, where ever… it would happen: “Are all these yours?” Often, strangers made it their job to pry into my mother’s sex life or insult her intelligence: “Don’t you know how this stuff happens?” “Ever heard of birth control?”

My mother must have been so annoyed sometimes. She’s a woman who speaks her mind and could care less what people think. Yet, I don’t remember her ever being anything but confident and polite. She would smile and say, “Yes, they’re all mine.” Or ignore their more intrusive comments. Sometimes she found something witty to say in response.

As for us kids, we found the stares, comments, and questions more amusing than anything else. We actually grew up thinking other people were strange for thinking we were strange. And that it must be awfully boring to have “just two kids.”

It’s only now that I realize how valuable it was to be raised in a family that stuck out. It wasn’t just because we were so big. We were also the “foreigners” where we lived; the non-natives of the area, and my parents weren’t afraid to go against the grain in various ways — and bring us along.

Still, there will be new ways my own family will stick out and I’ll need to learn how to handle it. The number one guideline I hope to follow is to always act in a way that serves my children’s dignity and provides an example to them. The way Brian and I respond will not only teach our kids how to cope, but will impact their sense of self, their security, their confidence.

Just because someone asks a question doesn’t mean we need to answer.  Some people don’t deserve an answer, and sometimes the answer is not their business.

There are many ways to respond to questions and comments. It depends on the person asking, the situation, the context, and more. Hopefully as a family we’ll learn to cope with — and enjoy — being “different.”

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Here‘s an interesting article on MSNBC called Adoptions from Ethiopia rise, bucking global trend.

It’s a short read and begins like this:

NEW YORK — As the overall number of international adoptions by Americans plummets, one country — Ethiopia — is emphatically bucking the trend, sending record numbers of children to the U.S. while winning praise for improving orphans’ prospects at home.

It’s a remarkable, little-publicized trend, unfolding in an impoverished African country with an estimated 5 million orphans and homeless children, on a continent that has been wary of international adoption.

Just six years ago, at the peak of international adoption, there were 284 Ethiopian children among the 22,990 foreign kids adopted by Americans. For the 2010 fiscal year, the State Department projects there will be about 2,500 adoptions from Ethiopia out of fewer than 11,000 overall — and Ethiopia is on the verge of overtaking China as the top source country.

The needs are enormous; many of Ethiopia’s orphans live on the streets or in crowded institutions. There’s constant wariness, as in many developing countries, that unscrupulous baby-sellers will infiltrate the adoption process.

Read the whole thing here.

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I remembered to bring my new camera to an annual Slow Food farm dinner on Sunday. I left my poor hubby at home and enjoyed a few hours in perfect fall weather enjoying fantastic food and drink, like the homemade basil lemonade above.

Gaylord and LeeAnn are the best of hosts and spoiled the group with large helpings of all the sustainably-caught seafood they sell: salmon, rockfish, tuna, oysters, and more. Here’s LeeAnn serving up a plate of rare tuna, seared perfectly with toasted sesame seeds by her chef-brother-in-law:

You would not believe how good this was.

Gaylord’s salmon is fantastic and he grilled a few different kinds:

So if this amazing fish wasn’t enough, the side dishes and desserts put things over the edge. There were various kinds of salads, corn pudding, and I can’t remember now what else but it was all delicious. Oh — there was yogurt cheese! Have you ever tried it? You must.

I made a gingerbread apple upside down cake from Smitten Kitchen and whipped some heavy cream to go with it. (Forgot to take a picture but SK’s is better anyway.) Mags made her scrumptious pumpkin bread pudding with homemade caramel sauce. Doesn’t this spread look inviting?

What do you think of my photos? I think I’m improving, even though I still don’t know anything.

There was this cute couple:

Yes, that’s Mags and Hal. After we all had stomach pains because we had EATEN SO MUCH.

I spent some time walking around the farm trying to walk the food off…

It was the quintessential Slow Food event!

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Pet peeve

If you’re an adoptive parent to be, do you ever wish you hadn’t told so many people about your adoption?

I really tried to be careful about who I shared it with and when. It’s easy when it’s family and close friends, and when it’s strangers who couldn’t care less. But it’s all those in-between people… like the ones you work with on committees and see about once a month. Or someone at the gym you sort of know. Or a pastor at a church you don’t always attend. Or friends you’re not close to, but bump into with some frequency.

These lovely people are the ones who can drive you crazy because whenever they see you, the first thing they say is “How’s the adoption coming?” “Heard anything about the adoption?” “When will you be traveling for the adoption?” “Haven’t you gotten that call yet on your adoption?”

It gets tiresome. I know it’s just part of making small talk. Rather than asking us about work or saying something about the weather, they have us pinned as the people who are adopting and that’s the first thing out of their mouths.

I try to be understanding about this… after all, they’re only being polite, kind, curious. But a part of me wants to just yell: “Stop asking us about the adoption all the time!!” Or I want to wear a t-shirt that says, “Don’t ask, or we won’t tell.” Or I just want to say, “You asked me this last week, and the week before, and the week before that, and I AM SICK AND TIRED OF YOU ASKING SO JUST ZIP IT!!!”

Ahhhhhhhh, that feels better. Just had to get that out.

If you’re reading this blog, you are not in this category of lovely folks. But let me say for the record, that it’s October 12, 2010, and we don’t have any more news than we did last month or the month before that about our adoption. And at this point, I want my husband better before we get that call.

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