Monday, January 28, 2013

Portabellas, a Broken Heart, Grammar, and Nutella

I'm going to start out with a recipe, to give me some time to figure out what this blog post is really about.

My favorite meal from this weekend was a portabella, gorgonzola, spinach concoction. It was inspired by this recipe, but my version has less carbs, less fat and more green.

First, you take 4-5 portabella mushrooms (not the mini, not the giants, but the medium 3" kind, said Goldilocks)  and marinate them with the following ingredients, blended:

  • 5 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-2 tsp of dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil

 After a couple of hours in the fridge, the shrooms are ready for more toppings.
 Add some chopped spinach and crumbled Gorgonzola cheese.

Next, make the red pepper vinaigrette by blending the following ingredients in a blender:
  • 1 roasted red pepper (I used the pre-roasted, jarred variety)
  • 1 tbsp white-wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • a pinch of salt and pepper

 Our friend, J, gave us this tiny blender to make Cyd homemade baby food, back in the day. It's adorable, right? Now, we use it to make grownup food that neither kid will touch with a 200 foot pole.
Roast the mushrooms in a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes and finish under the broiler.
Spoon some vinaigrette over mushrooms and serve.
It was delicious. Ask Laura, if you don't believe me. Who needs meat? Not us.

Cyd's been wearing that shirt for three days straight. It's all her. She picks it out whenever it's clean.
On Sunday, we had a friend over for ice cream sundaes. The kids had fun building their dessert. The more sprinkles, the better. Also, Reddiwip. It's spelled wrong, but who cares? It's delicious!

Yes, I made them pose their sundaes for a photo. I'm horrible.

Sugar high.

Cat coma.

Cat girl.
A few words about my broken heart:

I've been experiencing some strange heart palpitations and chest pains lately. When I went to the Y to run last week, I nearly died.

I was 25 minutes into my workout and, according to my iPhone app, I had five minutes left to run. I didn't have it in me, but I still ran. There was a woman sitting on the floor near the water fountain who kept staring at me when I ran by. She looked concerned. I only had five minutes to go and I figured that I can do anything for just five measly minutes. I couldn't let my app down. I'd grown attached to the voice who told me when to run, when to walk, when to cool down. We were friends. I had to log my workout. What would happen if I just stopped when there was still five minutes to go? My phone would blow up, that's what.

So, I kept running when I shouldn't have. When I walked in the house that night, Laura took one look at me and said, "WTF?" Apparently, my face was a nice shade of purple. My heart was aching. I could barely breathe.

I haven't been right since then and finally made an appointment to get checked out. My doc was vaguely concerned when my blood pressure registered at 180/106. So, to make a long story even longer, my heart is half broken and I've been forced to get back on my blood pressure meds, which I'd carelessly stopped taking six months ago.

I have a lot to live for.

I realize that this sentence ends in a preposition, but I don't care. When you come face to face with death, grammar doesn't matter as much. Melodrama aside, I'm sure I'll be fine, heart-wise.

What matters is my family and friends. My life. The tiny moments during the day when I have to pause and relish in the fullness of my love for the present. The moments when I wake in the middle of the night to find Cyd, who snuck out of her bed to make her nest between us. Her sweet, rhythmic breaths brimming with pure contentment and peace. The moments when Fiona, a now gangly eight-year-old, still so young and innocent, finds comfort as she settles on my lap during movie nights. The moments when we are together, all four of us, as though it has always been.

Also, there's Nutella.
The children have discovered and fallen in love with the goodness that is Nutella, so now I will not rest until I figure out how to make it from scratch. And I will save the original Nutella packaging in order to fool them into thinking that the homemade stuff is the real thing. Because I'm not going through the betrayal that occurred when the children decided they liked boxed mac and cheese better than my version. Damn you, Kraft, and your SpongeBob marketing.

Peace out.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Gone Girl(s)

It's been a difficult year. Grief sticks, relentless and throbbing. The shift in family dynamics that inevitably comes with the loss of parents is a constant reminder of what we have lost. Our common ground is shrinking.

I have abandonment seared in my heart and this year it has flared to a point that is engulfing. I did not want to face it. To look it in the eyes.

So we left.

We went to Pine Island, Florida. Here are some photos to make this long story shorter:

We are happy in the tiny cocoon that is our family.

I read "Gone Girl" during our little sojourn to paradise. I have to say, I liked it but it left me unsettled. It was a perfect beach book. Easy to read and compelling as hell. 

I typically read books not so much for the plot, but for the style of writing. I value the language much more than the story being told. In this case, I got caught up in the story, style being secondary. This was a well written novel, but I never encountered a sentence so well constructed that would prompt me to pause, reread, and savor the unique combinations of words. That being said, I still enjoyed it. But a part of me is concerned.

Warning: This next part contains spoilers. 

Misogyny is rampant in this story. Although it adds complexity to the Nick character, who is so afraid of becoming his monstrous father, it is also bullshit. I liked Nick, at first. In spite of his flaws, he was likable. But when he lost it, when things became too much for him to handle, I was gone. I lost him when he thought "stupid bitch, stupid bitch, stupid bitch" deep to the core of him. I didn't appreciate the violence escalating inside as he repeatedly thought about killing his wife. 

I am sick and tired of the violence. In a world in which certain groups of women are less worthy of protection from violence than others, I feel this sort of misogynist language to be irresponsible.

Amy is depicted as a smart woman, the genius, evil villain who thinks of EVERYTHING. She is ruthless and horrible.  But mostly, she is a victim. A fake victim of rape. A fake victim of abuse. A fake. A psychopath. And the ending, wherein she uses her womb as a manipulative trap is too much. 

This is why I read Kingsolver. 

This year has shaken me. The Chick-Fil-A crowds, proudly professing their support of intolerance; the massacre in the Aurora, Colorado theater; the shooting of Malala Yousafzai; the senseless murder of innocent six and seven year-old children and their teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary; the NRfreakingA; the senseless expiration of the Violence Against Women act. 

I have lost hope. Every shred of it.

The Indigo Girls are right: the pendulum needs to swing. There are "plenty revolutions left until we get this thing right." But we won't get it right until more people believe in kindness conquering all. Until people understand that we are all the same -- humans, animals, plants. Tolerance, peace and kindness is what we need. It seems simple enough but is apparently not the zeitgeist of now. 

I feel things shifting sometimes, for the better of humankind, but it's never enough. Crap, now I'm quoting Etheridge. I swear I have a wider musical repertoire than lesbian artists. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

We ended our vacation with a nice brunch of smoked salmon blini and champagne, in true Gochtovtt-Stine fashion.
Peace out.