Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Low and Slow...

It's my wish as Summer peeks through the door...  

To go low and slow...  

To savor every delicious juicy strawberry, 
home grown green beans
from my mother's Victory Garden...  

I want to sit on the front stoop, 
chilled Pinot G in hand and watch the kids 
chase fireflies or zoom back and forth on scooters 
and bikes with training wheels...  

Summers seemed to last forever as a kid... 

This morning a friend and I talked about 
when Labor Day was on the calendar!  

It can go so fast unless you will the days to slow down...  

For Memorial Day weekend, 
I insisted we treat it like a vacation... 

No household chores, just fun...

The house looks like a family of hyenas were here, 
but it was worth it.  

We barbecued with friends and family, 
saw a movie, splashed around the local pool
with half of Chicago, 
held a lemonade stand 
and participated in Bike the Drive.  

This annual event closes down the famed Lake Shore Drive 
for one Sunday morning in May for folks 
to bike the full fifteen mile length..

It's a mostly flat ride, except for the overpass hills. 

No piece of cake to scale hills
with a 52 pound kid riding in back...  

Thank goodness Kate was willing to help the cause 
and pedal with all her little might...  

I was struck with how quiet the drive became 
minus gas powered vehicles...  

I was awed by the sheer numbers of cyclists 
and the gorgeous view of the lake...  

I was annoyed by the "Lycra Speedsters" 
who mistakenly took the event for the Tour de France 
and who thought us casual riders were a nuisance...

When one fifty something lady huffed 
at my son who was getting to close to her, 
I responded with an audible announcement, 


For Pete's sake....
this is a huge family event...  

If you want to ride ninety miles an hour 
without other people around, 
take the lake path at 2am....  


Anyway, despite the grumpy ones, 
it was tons of fun..

Jack must have said ten times 
how much he loved the ride... 

I think his favorite part was scavenging 
all the free stuff at the finish line festival...  

So summer is almost here....

School lets out in a couple of weeks 
and then the camps begin....  

Pottery camp, sailing camp, 
nature camp, gymnastics camp, 
sleepaway camp, Cubs camp....  

I want to be a kid again....

The plan is to enjoy camp, 
then head to the pool the rest of the day 
until they plop into bed, 
near comatose from physical activity...  

That's the plan so far...

I'd like to spice up the camp routine 
with some fun extras that don't cost anything... 

Here are my favorites I might try:

1. Picnic in the park

2. Library trip

3. Factory tour to Eli's Cheesecake Factory and the Jelly Belly Factory

4. Paint watercolors with squirt guns.

5. Tie Dye Shirt project

6. Make wind chimes

7. Make Slime

8. Pajama day (rainy day)

Summer is pawing at the gate, 
but we aren't going to charge toward its finish...  
Heck, we may even go hang out on a farm 
and chew on a tall piece of grass in one hand, 
glass of wine in the other....  

Enjoy your summer!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Calzones over the Miles...

Americans love portable food... 

It's why drive thru's were born...  

Speaking of drive thru's, my brother intentionally makes his voice 
sound full of static when he orders at the drive thru... 

Yep, my family is funny that way...  

Cracks me up...  

Anyway, with time being so compressed, 
who doesn't snarf a breakfast sandwich or Whampus Jr. 
on the fly now and then?  

Okay, maybe Martha hasn't ever sampled a Big Mac, 
but we have french fries that carbon date back to the pleicostene era 
under the drivers seat of my car...  

I am always looking for home made food more inventive than the PBJ 
to toss into the back seat for the journey from school 
to baseball practice, tumbling, tutoring, etc.  

Ask and you shall receive...  

My good friend, Ashlyn, came to the rescue this morning 
with a recipe that made my heart sing.

Now Miss Ashlyn and I were colleagues not long ago 
leasing retail space across the country.  

We were part of a group of folks 
who worked hard together for a number of years 
and became quite close, 
like family, I'd say...  

And when the recession hammer came down 
and scattered most of us to the winds, 
that good time came to an abrupt end... 

Most of us stay in touch, thanks to FB, 
but I sure miss my buddies...  

Ashlyn has two growing boys 
and she is a Southern gal, through and through,
full of energy, hospitality, smarts 
and awesome recipes...

I miss our hushed recipe sharing sessions 
during those boring conference calls, Girl!  


She swears by these 
and says they do not squirt all over the back seat of the car, 
enroute to practice... 

I'm going to hold her to that, 
as we are test driving these babies tonight...  

This recipe was adapted from a calzone recipe in 

So, thank you, Ree, for originating this dish!  

Here we go!


4 C Flour
1 tsp yeast
1tsp salt
1/3 C Olive oil
1 1/2 C warm water

Breakfast sausage. (I didn't have any on hand, so I used 5 links of sweet Italian sausage)
2 C Jar Marinara
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
2 T Jar Pesto

 Brown the sausage in the skillet..

 Next, I always drain meat in a colander 
and rinse it with cold water.  
It's my mom's tip to really get the grease out.  
I do what my mama says....

 In a bowl, stir together the marinara and pesto.  
The pesto adds a little zing.  
Who couldn't use some zing now and then?

Add in the sausage and stir together.  
Cover and place in fridge until assembly begins.

To Make Dough:  
1 1/2 cups warm water - sprinkle on a teaspoon of yeast 
and let it sit for a minute or two.

In your mixer, put 4 cups flour 
and drizzle in 1/3 cup olive oil 
with the paddle (not dough hook) on low.
Add one teaspoon salt.

Now stir the water and yeast gently 
and slowly pour into the mixer 
until it all comes together.

Put some olive oil on your hands 
and scoop it all out into a ball - 
place in a bowl that has been rubbed 
with olive oil and cover 
with a damp/warm towel.
Let dough rise 2-3 hours.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Take the dough in balls 
(a little smaller than a baseball) 
and press them down on a floured surface.

 Roll into a circle 
(about the size of a tortilla).

 Place the marinara down in the middle, then sausage, 
4 pepperonis 
and a handful of cheese.

 Fold over and press closed with a fork.

Place them on a greased cookie sheet 
and brush with olive oil 
(I added some garlic powder to my olive oil).

Bake for about 15 minutes until they are browned. 
This made about 10 large calzones.

 I am going to freeze the extras for on the go meals.

 Ashlyn said:

"I wrapped them in foil and put them in a lined cooler and off we went. When my husband got to the game around 7:30 p.m. they were still warm. We'll be having the leftovers tonight. I'll definitely make these again and again. Super easy and very easy to eat, not messy at all for the car!"

We may not have our recipe sharing sessions in person  anymore, 
but we girls still share via the web. 

P.S.:  The calzones were deelish
and loved by the family...
Thanks for the great recipe, my Friend!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Shoofly Pie

 For those of you who live in Chicago, 
this weekend was all about NATO...  

The dignitaries, the security, the delightful groups of protesters... 

We are all quite weary of the lot of them 
and would like our town to get back to normal...  

For those of you who live 15 minutes outside of the metro area 
and beyond, you probably heard not a peep about it....

At least I hope not...  

Most of Chicago either left town 
or stayed close to home to avoid all that mess...  

Or they went to the Crosstown Classic 
to witness the Cubs get bludgeoned by the White Sox 
three games in a row...  

Tommy was not happy...  

And me, in between doing a little gardening, 
I hid away in the comfort of the kitchen, 
far from the chants 
and the motorcades (aka "Car Porn" in my house...)

This recipe has been stuffed in my binder of magazine tears 
for a year now...

Shoofly Pie...  

Given that this pie has no nuts, fruits nor proteins, 
I was curious as to what the fuss was all about.  

How could it be tasty?  

But, it has stood the test of time...  

My great-grandmother had her own clipping for Shoofly Pie 
in her wooden recipe box...  

If you read the card above, apparently Mr. Robert Deardorff 
wrote a scintillating article on the Pennsylvania Dutch... 
Shoofly Pie does have Amish origins.  
Mrs. Lloyd Bedsworth Jr offered up her version... 
It must be good for Mamaw to have saved it... 
So I decided to give the 2011 version a try... 

The first failure was the box of ready made pie dough....  

Note to self:  use said pie dough within six months of purchase...  

Blue spots do not indicate freshness...  

So I made the dough from scratch...  

If you have a food processor, 
making dough couldn't be quicker nor easier.  

The key is to stop as soon as the dough 
starts to come together...  

The filling for Shoofly Pie looks like an Old Fashioned, 
without the ice and rocks glass...  

So weird...  

Although, you could drink an Old Fashioned while baking the pie....

Sorry, just a thought...

Where was the texture for this confection? 
It is just this amber liquid, swimming in the fresh pie crust...

Then you top the whole thing with a lot of streusel.  

I was quite skeptical until the pie started 
to rise and take shape.  

The baking soda is the key...  

One must have a sweet tooth to appreciate this pie, 
but let's just say my family hoovered their slices 
in mere seconds.  

I took the remainder next door to assure 
that tantalizing pie didn't make its way to my posterior...  

Try Shoofly Pie... 

It's a gentle nod to the past, a unique offering at a potluck 

and it's delicious!
I'll bet if Chicago's Finest served slices of Shoofly Pie 
to the protestors 
those chants might have turned 
into a rousing rendition of Kumbaya...

Shoofly Pie, courtesy of Country Living Magazine

  • 2 cup(s) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 3/4 cup(s) shortening
  • 5 tablespoon(s) water
  • 1/2 cup(s) dark corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup(s) light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) baking soda
  • 1/2 cup(s) hot water
Crumb Topping:
  • 1 cup(s) all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoon(s) shortening
  • 2/3 cup(s) light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 pinch(s) salt
  • 1 pinch(s) ground cinnamon

  1. For crust: In a medium bowl, mix flour and salt. Cut shortening into flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Gradually add water until combined. Press together to form dough and chill for at least 1 hour or up to overnight. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness; fit into a 9-inch pie pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. For filling: Combine corn syrup, brown sugar, and egg. Dissolve baking soda in hot water, stir into syrup mixture, and pour into crust.
  3. For topping: In a medium bowl, mix ingredients using your fingers or a pastry blender until combined. Sprinkle crumbs evenly over corn-syrup mixture. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother's Day Bliss...

Twelve months ago, give or take a few days,
I lamented how Mother's Day 
was sort of a joke.... 

It's supposed to be a day of rest, relaxation 
and general joyous bonding
of mother and her precious children... 

In reality, it is like any other day,
plus the added stress of cooking brunch 
for the whole family,
entertaining everyone
and the resulting massive clean up afterward... 

So much for rest and relaxation... 

A year ago I declared that NEXT YEAR 
would be different! 

I would find a peaceful escape 
to honor my daily endeavors
in the land of mommy... 


 Along with a few other things 
that have not transpired
over the last annum such as financial solvency, 
organized closets
and tighter abs,
my quest for a blissful mother's day
will not occur... 

However, mild improvements are to be celebrated... 

Two years ago, Tom worked on Mother's Day
and it was the Anti-Mother's Day... 

Man did that suck... 

Last year, the day did not belong to me,
but there was breakfast in bed... 

This year, I am escaping, albeit on Saturday... 

Massage and mani pedi appointments have been secured
I am so looking forward to that...

On Sunday, family will come over... 

I will clean, shop, prepare and make brunch... 

And I will enjoy seeing family because
I love them and they like my food... 

It all works out in the wash, right?

As I was pondering what to write 
about Mother's Day,
I considered some of the myths
that surround the mystique of motherhood
believed by those who are not mothers themselves..

1. Pregnancys makes you "Glow."

Perhaps it is the perception that 
the little bun in the oven
 is making Mama to Be glow with motherly joy. 
The fact is that said bun is creating 
an internal body temperature
similar to the Hot Springs in Arkansas. 
Do you ever notice that pregnant women 
wear short sleeves in January? 

2. The Instant Bond Upon Birth. 

Let's face it, Friends.  Unless Jr. was born cesarean section,
he or she looks more like a misshapen prune 
after nineteen plus hours of pushing. 
I'd venture to suggest that perhaps 
after the little one
has had a proper bath from the nurses
and once you have been tidied up yourself
that true maternal love is allowed to fully bloom.

3. Baby will sleep through the night after three weeks. 

How about more like three months? 
Kate's reflux made her scream 
like the house was on fire
for nine weeks before she settled 
into a decent sleeping routine. 
Tom and I believe lack of sleep is truly 
what makes parents lose their sanity. 
I have friends with eight year olds who still wake them 
in the night and sneak into their beds. 
God help those parents... 
And those amazingly fortunate parents whose kids
slept through the night 
during the first two weeks of life...
May I punch you in the face? 
Did I say that? 
Sorry....just kidding...

4. You will feel that smushy, lovey feeling for your kids 
all the time and they will be perfect...

You are joking, right? 
Did I dream my six year old would 
have an all out tantrum over cereal? 
Did I, in any way imagine my son 
would accidentally almost set the house on fire? 
Do my perfect, precious kids really think farts are THAT funny? 
Perfect, no. 
All smush, all the time, no. 
I love them enough to willingly 
lie on the tracks for them. 
Believe me, they feel loved. 
I will not be guilted by the perfectionist mom society out there. 

Read this by Erica Jong...  It's AWESOME.

5. You can have it all!   

Hahahahahaha!  I am crying, I am laughing so hard. 
Erica's article addresses this, too. 
If you try to have it all, someone will hate you, 
your kids, your husband,
your friends, but probably yourself. 
Do what you can and forget about the dried spaghetti 
smeared under the kitchen island
and the unsorted socks that breed.

Like Erma Bombeck said,
"If the item doesn't multiply, smell, catch fire, 
or block the refrigerator door, let it be. 
No one else cares. 
Why should you?"

6. You will keep all your friends.  

I wish this were true and I sorely miss some of my friends 
whom I don't see anymore.  
Motherhood changes things.  
Once you have crossed over to pumping milk 
and bringing snacks to soccer, 
your single and friends without kids 
will have different interests.  
It's like moving from the city to the suburbs.  
Sometimes the divide is too great.  
It takes a ton of effort to keep those friendships together.  
There will be casualties.

7. That baby weight will fall right off!  

To those of you who weigh less now than before pregnancy, 
yadda yadda yadda...  
The rest of us who are still battling those last ten stubborn pounds, 
welcome to the club.  
It is a raw deal that we bear the children 
and then continue to bear the vestiges of the journey.  
Can't men at least get stretch marks during our pregnancies?  
I have heard of sympathy weight, 
but how many men actually gain 40-60 lbs?   
Can't their shoe sizes increase, too?  
Why can't their hips widen to accommodate toddlers, 
only to never slim down again?  
C'mon, it is only fair...

8. Kids thirst for your quality time.  

Let's get this straight.  
Kids only want your attention 
when you are on the toilet, 
making a phone call or answering the door.  
Any other time, they would much prefer 
Sponge Bob or Call of Duty.  
And once they hit the age of ten, 
you are dead to them in public settings.

9. Motherhood is wholly satisfying.  

I would be burned at the stake by the politically correct, 
witch hunting society in the U.S. today,
 if I didn't proclaim that  
motherhood completes every fiber of my being!!!
Would I give my kids up?  
No way...  
Do I sometimes wish Tom and I 
were living a charmed life in Tuscany, 
flitting to Monaco for the weekend 

and occasionally sleeping in on Sundays, 
only to wake to a cappuccino and a newspaper?  

Life is not perfect, but I can't complain...  

There are many things to be grateful for, 
and two of them hug me daily...