Monday, June 30, 2008


The lovely Paige (another Californian in diaspora here in New York- we gotta stick together!) asked for some of the relleno recipes from Saturday. Here you go!

Poblano Chiles Stuffed with Beans

This recipe is from a 1955 Spanish/English cookbook my brother picked up when his college library was dumping it. I don't remember the title, but if I come across it I'll post. It's not much of a recipe, actually, more of a guide. The chile prep instructions are mine, I learned them when I lived in New Mexico.

Poblano chiles
cheese (mild- queso fresco or muenster or something)
beans (we cooked pink beans (pintos would be good, too) and then simmered them with espazote, diced tomatoes, onion, and salt).

Roast the chiles over a flame (like on your stove, as long as it's gas!) until their skins are nice and charred. Put them in a paper bag to sweat, and then peel the skin off when they are cool enough to handle. Cut a slit up the side and remove the seeds and veins (try to keep the opening small, but don't fret if it splits all the way open). Stuff the beans into the chiles.

Now you have a choice to make. You can either bake them as they are, which is what we did (just sprinkle with cheese and poured some cream on them and baked at 375) or you can batter and fry them. To batter you'll need eggs (say, 2-3), flour, salt, and oil. Separate the eggs and whip the whites until the form stiff peaks. Mix the yolks in, and then fold in a few spoonfuls of flour and a pinch of salt. Be gentle- this is a very frothy, fluffy batter. Oh, if you're doing this you should dust the chiles with flour before you stuff them. Then put a spoonful or two of the batter on a plate. Lay a stuffed chile on top and carefully coat the rest of it with batter too. Slide it into hot oil (about 375) and fry. Repeat with other chiles. Then put them in a baking pan with some cheese and cream and bake til the cheese melts.

The next recipe is from Diana Kennedy's "My Mexico".

Chiles Anchos Rellenos de los Andrea

6 large ancho chiles (we use about 12 medium)
3 T vinegar
3 T dark brown sugar (or piloncillo if you can find it)

2T vegetable oil
1 small white onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
12oz ground pork, inc a little fat
12oz lean ground beef
salt to taste
8 oz chopped tomatoes (we used canned diced since it's not tomato season yet)
4 peppercorns
2 cloves
1/2" cinnamon stick
1/8 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp dried marjoram
1/3 c raisins
2T (heaping) slivered almonds or pine nuts
1T vinegar

1 1/2 c creme fraiche (used sour cream) diluted with a little milk
pomegranate seeds (if you can get them. yum.)

Slit the chiles and de-seed and vein as I described above. Put them in a pan with water to just cover and the vinegar and brown sugar. Simmer 5 min, then set aside to soak for approx 30 min- until they are plump and soft.

Heat oil in skillet and saute the onions until translucent but not browned. Add the garlic, saute 30 seconds or so. Add the meats and salt and cook, breaking up lumps, for about 3 min. Add tomatoes, cover pan, and cook on medium 5 min or so. Add spices and herbs and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally another few minutes, then add the raisins, nuts, and vinegar and cook until the meat is well cooked and shiny but not juicy.

Stuff the chiles with the meat until they are very fat. Pour the sour cream over them and sprinkle with parsley and serve at room temperature.

You will be very, very happy.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


So, yesterday we went down to Brooklyn to celebrate Kenn and Giselle's birthdays (one early, one late). Kenny and I cooked three different kind of chiles rellenos (1. anchos stuff with meat and topped with a sour cream sauce, 2. poblanos stuffed with cheese and baked with a red chile sauce and 3. poblanos and anchos stuff withed beans, topped with cheese, and baked with a little cream) and they were all delicious!!! The meat filled ones were my favorite, but there really wasn't a bad one in the bunch. I also made a tres leches cake which I wasn't wild about, but which was very sweet and milky. Chester and Jay joined us too and it was an excellent visit despite the oppressive humidity. Kenny brought one of our childhood books from home and the kids LOVED hearing "The Terrible Troll-Bird" and Zion spent much of the visit fighting off troll birds and insisting that everyone come hunting with him. Good times.

The humidity does come back into the story, however. It wasn't just there for whining complaintfulness! As we were leaving it got dark. Really dark. And there was thunder, very deep and loud. The rain started as I got into the car, and by the time we were at 3rd Ave (that's 2 blocks for those of you who aren't regular visitors to the Brooklyn house) it was coming down crazy hard and the gutters were overflowing with raging water (ah, good old Raging Waters...). We drove along under the BQE overpass for a mile or two, and sheets of water were pouring off it at intervals, making it impossible to see for a second or two- not that it was easy to see anyway with the rain coming down so hard. When we turned off of 3rd Ave to get to the Battery Tunnel the fun really started. First there was a big deep puddle, about a car length long and more than half way up the wheels. And we were still under the overpass, so lots of extra water coming from above. Finally we turned off for the tunnel toll booths and all seemed well. We were in a tunnel of sorts already and there wasn't any rain falling on us. But there was a long line of slowly moving cars, which was most annoying, esp since the driver in front of us didn't seem to be paying a lot of attention, or didn't want to move forward much. Then we saw The Puddle. This one took us a good 5-10 seconds to drive through, and was so deep it covered the exhaust pipe of the car in front of us. Not good! I held my breath the whole time, it really was kinda scary. And keep in mind- it had only been raining for about 10 minutes. New York does not have the best water diversion system for its roads.

We made it home safely, but our flooding troubles were not over.

Liel recently discovered she can turn on the faucet of the bathroom sink, and she delights in washing her hands 80 times a day, at the slightest excuse. Unfortunately, she doesn't (or can't, I'm not sure which) turn the water OFF. She also opens the faucet all the way, so water is pouring out. So far this hasn't been a problem because you can hear it from any room in our tiny house and one of us always comes to turn it off pretty quickly. Today however, Miss Liel managed to fill the sink and have it pouring onto the floor before we even got there. Better still, the pipes under our sink are not, it turns out, caulked! So we had a flood on the floor and in the cabinet under the sink as well.

Let's hope we've reached the end of our summer floods. They don't begin to compare to those in the Midwest, but they are quite enough for me!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


You probably know that Robert and I almost never watch TV. We don't have cable and our reception is terrible and the TV comes on about once a month.

But in Vermont we had cable! And Robert's laptop was down so we couldn't play World of Warcraft (*cough*dorks*cough*), so we happily turned to cable's loving embrace. One night we actually watched that Gene Simmons reality show. Mostly I watched, truth be told. It was like watching a train wreck- I couldn't look away. And then, to my surprise (and annoyance) I couldn't stop thinking about it either. The episode I watched had his girlfriend-partner-whatever getting plastic surgery. Her sister too. And he was out of town and they were trying to hide it from him- get it all done and be healed up when he returned. They both got all kinds of stuff done- boobs, face, chin, tummies...they looked awful afterwards, all bruised and bandaged. And then his girlfriend person actually lied about when he called asking about the enormous credit card charge ("Hmm, that must be a mistake!"). In the end he came home early and she implied that he'd be just fine with everything once he saw her new boobs, and she appeared to be correct. This mostly led me to thoughts of aging gracefully, and how difficult that can be, especially for women (why do older guys get to be considered sexy anyway? do we really like excess nose hair that well?), and whether a pair of artificially perky boobs in your bed is an acceptable trade off for being lied to (cause, come on, he can't be that dumb. Hmmm, charge to plastic surgeon? By my gf who likes getting plastic surgery? Oh well, she says it must be a mistake....).

Later in the week we watched some VH1 80's countdown. That's more our usual cable speed, and we stayed up too late watching it. And we both noticed that a lot of the rockstars of the 80s were....kinda ugly. In a traditional sense. But they were so talented that it made up for it, and people loved them (and even found them unbearably attractive- see Cynthia Heimel on Mick Jagger and blow jobs).

And that, we concluded, is what is wrong with your generation. In my day if you were talented and made good music it didn't matter if you were ugly. But today? If you're pretty it doesn't matter if your music sucks ass, you can still become a famous celebrity (I can't say musician since that's clearly not the case). Up with boobs! Down with talent! Don't we want better for ourselves? And won't somebody please think of the children??

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Vermont was cool. Mountains, ice cream, maple syrup, wine...and you can't swing a dead cow without hitting local food.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Behold my car

I'm too tired to put up all our Vermont pictures, but I know you're all dying to see the car :P. Here it is, in its deer dented glory.

Robert asked the mechanic how the hood would look if we just tried to bang it out into something resembling "shape". The mechanic look incredulous. "It'll look like fucking hell", he said. I think he was right. More tomorrow!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Update, but no pictures

Hello from Vermont!

We traded part of my parent's time share for a week up here in Stowe. It's beautiful and we are all loving being in the mountains. But, we forgot the USB cable for our camera, so no pictures until we get home, I'm afraid.

If I could, I'd show you our car! What's so exciting about our car? Well, we ran into a deer on our way up here. It just leaped in front of us as we were going 75mph on the freeway. Upside: we are all OK. Downsides: 1. car is not OK 2. deer was not OK 3. we did not get to turn the un-OK deer into delicious meat for our family and friends. We were pretty disappointed that we'd killed a deer and couldn't eat it. Anyway, the hood of our car is a crumpled mess, the radiator is damaged, the front grill just gone. The A/C may need to be replaced too, and a couple belts nearly tore. An employee at the lodge referred us to a mechanic and we are really pleased with him (in fact, Robert and Zion are dropping the car off there now...we couldn't get a rental car any earlier). As fate would have it, he's from Brooklyn, but escaped to VT (his words) 40 years ago. He still sounds like a New Yorker. Here are two overheard phone calls on our behalf from this morning:

#1. "Hey, Enterprise. This is Dan from Dan's Auto. Yeah, I got a family here needs a car. Whaddaya got that's cheap, ASAP?"

#2. "Do you have any Subarus over there that are all fucked up?"

(Working backwards in time here) Last night we had dinner at a place that has won some New England BBQ awards. Didn't knock me out, but our waiter was this neat-o hippie type in his late 40s who chatted us up about Papua New Guniea, the South Pacific, his wife, kids, the off grid house he's building (he invited us up), the early 20th century anthropologist Malinowski, and the film he made in PNG that's being released by a Swiss company (or German, I forget. His dad is Swiss German). We also discussed our poor battered car, parked outside. He stared at it thoughtfully as we told the story of the deer and said, "Yeah. Subarus are good" before walking away to help someone else.

Before the deer incident we stopped off at the Farmer's Diner. That place is ethical AND delicious! Seriously good burgers. They're located in this fake little VT crafts village (there's a glass blower, a cheese shop, a not too tasty VT winery, a toy get the idea), and there's a little train that runs around the perimeter. Naturally the kids wanted to ride the train, and we let them ($4 a pop, ouch!). Zion also enjoyed walking on the train tracks. "Look mommy!", he said, "I am walking on the train tracks! I am a rat!"

That's my New York boy.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Summer in the City

OK, I'm sure you're tired of hearing about my family's bathing suit saga by now, but I can't resist filling you in on the final installment (I hope it is, at least!). The size small was too small for Robert in the legs. He bikes a lot you see, and his legs are all muscle-y. So what fits him in the waist doesn't fit him in the legs. He tried every brand of bathing suit at Target with the same results. Then Robert had the brilliant idea of going to EMS to look and yes! It worked! It turns out, rather unsurprisingly, that sport/outdoors stores sell clothes that fit sporty outdoors types of bodies. Crisis averted.

In other news it is crazy fucking hot here. At 1045am this morning it was 98 degrees in the shade on my deck. Too hot.

Yesterday was nearly as hot and we went to the zoo. Zion's school was closed and a bunch of other parents were meeting up with the kidlets, so we joined in. The trip had been planned for a couple weeks and my kids were really looking forward to it or I probably would have bailed. Who want to tramp around the Bronx Zoo with half the kids in New York on a balmy, 97 degree June day? Oy.

But it was fun, despite the heat. We rode the Bengali Express for the first time and discovered that THAT is where the elephants live. Who knew? Hey, we've only been going there regularly for 2 years :P. In our defense it's the furthest point from the parking lot we use, and there's nothing over there the kids have much interest in, so we'd just never hiked out that way before.

Here we are on the Bengali Express. You can't really see it, but I'm wearing a lovely knit tank top I just finished. When Kerri saw me she gasped, "A sweater??" Not exactly the reaction I was hoping for ;) But it is cotton and it was actually quite cool since the knitting was a bit more open than other tops I own so the breeze could get through. What breeze there was....

The kids on the Bug Carousel.

Feeding the animals.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

And sizing

We went back to Target today. Liel got an 18month size suit (she's 2 1/2, but skinny) and Robert got....wait for it.....a size SMALL. Yep. My 6'1", 200 lb husband is apparently "small". Wonders never cease (nor, apparently, does vanity sizing).

I saw a bit of this with the girlie suits, too. Tops that hooked in the back were o-u-t. Why? Cause the back strap literally hung off my back in a size medium. A small was too small in the boob, and still too big around the band. I am not tiny (I wear a 34" bra band if you're curious), just average. How do tiny people find clothes these days?? I complained to my mom this morning and she said, "Yeah...I've noticed your dad isn't a size XL anymore, but I just thought he was shrinking". Nope. The clothes are growing!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Bathing Suits

Yesterday I did something I hadn't done in more than 5 years. I bought a bathing suit. Truth be told, I haven't worn a bathing suit in more than 5 years, either- before I got pregnant with Zion. I haven't been living in fear of The Bathing Suit, but between having a newborn, and then living in Ohio and New York beach and pool opportunities have been kinda thin on the ground, you know? But in a week we will be at a lodge in Vermont, and the lodge has two pools. And in August we will be in the Wisconsin lakes with kayaks and boats and, well, water. In the lake. So, it was clear I needed a bathing suit. (I did try my old one on. The top was too small and the elastic was shot. How the top can be too small is a mystery to me, but more on that later.)

But not just me! The kids don't have suits that fit them, either. And Robert? He's been wearing the same pair of black trunks since high school. And he's used them for painting a house. And the elastic in the waist is gone. Oh, and they are a size XL and he only has a 32" waist. So we were a family in need of water gear.

Since I was clearly going to try things- a lot of things- on, the task of shopping for everyone fell to me. So yesterday morning I went out. I'll sum up my two hours in the store by saying that I spent a fair amount of time in the mens, boys, and girls departments staring at bathing suit displays. In the end I brought home black and white trunks for Robert (too big, have to go back, and I got a size L, too!), a blue and white bikini for Liel (too big, has to go back. I thought about getting her a one piece but realized what a hassle this would make using the potty and changed my mind. Plus her cute belly can poke out this way!), and blue and white trunks with sharks for Zion (the fit, thank goodness. And he likes them, and is pleased that the sharks look happy). I ended up with black boy shorts that can be scrunched on the sides to look more like a regular bikini bottom. I've always felt that boy shorts just drew attention to the widest point on my body, so I was surprised that I liked these. But (and here's how you know I'm getting old)- they have coverage. Even in bikini form. So they won the prize for bottoms.

Tops were trickier. My boobs are more or less the same size they were before I had kids, but not the same shape (more's the pity). Stuff fits, but doesn't look as good. Ha. As if I'm smokin' the bikini! Anyway. I brought home two tops- one bikini top (trust me, my body looks weird in a one piece), and one tankini top. I still don't know which I prefer. Or which I don't prefer. Meh.

I read an article recently about how women size themselves up relative to other women and seek a mate who is more or less at their level. Men do not do this. They apparently lack whatever it is that allows them to gauge themselves relative to other men, and they seek the hottest girlie they can find, even if she wouldn't look twice at them.

It applies to bathing suits. Really.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Potty chair mind games

About a year ago Liel started wanting to use the potty. She was 19 months old, and were living in a sublet house in Pittsburgh while Robert did research. I mention this only because the only bathroom in the house was upstairs so I was constantly snatching up my toddler and racing up the stairs, since she announced that she needed to potty about 8 times more often than she actually did.

Anyway, she was potty trained long before her second birthday, much to our surprise (yes, I know other kids do this, we just hadn't ever thought ours would. Robert's mom reports that she sent R to preschool with "spare clothes" because he wasn't potty trained but they wouldn't let him go to school if he wasn't so...). But. She only likes to go potty when she thinks it's the right time. And in her 2 year old wisdom she rarely thinks that time is before a nap, before we leave the house for 4 hours, or before bed. And oh how she fights it! We just ask her to sit down and try- if she really doesn't have to go she can up and go on with her day. Our persistence is starting to pay off, as she now makes only a weak and rather ritual protest when we ask her to try to pee.

So tonight after she brushed her teeth I told her it as time to pee. "I don't need to potty" she whined. She pointed at the small potty chair (as opposed to the seat that goes on the regular toilet). "I want little". I set her on it and went to find Fluffy. When I returned she again informed me that she didn't need to potty. "OK", I said. There was a pause. "I pooping", she said. I quickly whisked her off the little potty (that thing is a total pain to clean) and set her on the big toilet, happily noting that the little potty was empty. Liel squawked with indignation. "I don't need to potty!"

"I'll sit here with you", I assured her, sitting down on the stool the kids use to reach the sink.

Liel was unimpressed. "No," she assured me, rather crossly, "I don't need to potty!" She frowned and jutted her chin out, concentrating. "I don't", she grunted, doing just that.

"Oh", I said, trying not to laugh too hard. "Are you done?"


And that is why we ask her to sit on the potty before bed each night.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

My kids are built to last

Way back when Zion was a wee tyke, when we lived in Brooklyn, he learned to open the fridge door. It was summer, it was boiling hot, and he figured out that there was cool air in the fridge. I'd find him parked there rather frequently on hot afternoons. Despite the annoyance of having to constantly ask him to keep the fridge closed Robert and I were pleased with this new skill, as it indicated his ability to get food and feed himself if, G-d forbid, anything happened to us while we were in the apartment. As Robert said, "Now our kid would be a survivor!"

So here we are, nearly 3 years later. Liel has not mastered the art of opening the fridge, but she does have a brother who can, so we're still feeling good about that. And, much to my delight, as I came into the kitchen to make tea this morning, I discovered the kids playing at their play kitchen. And what were they playing? Canning. They had raided my canning jars (really just used for jam) and were filling them with their wooden play fruit, "so we'll have food for the winter", as Zion assured me.

I was so proud. Rock on with your self-sufficient, DIY attitudes!