Saturday, November 23, 2013

Fanksgiving (Faux Thanksgiving)

Because all we Moyers are traveling this week to Washington to visit my brother's fam and their new baby, we threw a DC Thanksgiving last weekend.  I've always wanted to host a family Thanksgiving but have come in from out of town and have never been able to.  Our fanksgiving plan unfolded slowly, changing houses along the way, and all of the sudden I was hosting!  Because I was only responsible for the turkey (and almost dropped the ball since I shopped the day before and, of course, in mid-November there were only frozen birds in the stores), and had been reading Bon Appetit for days, I got to pick a couple of extras (though there are about a dozen sides or more I'd like to try -- maybe a few a week throughout December!).

Here are two little additions I recommend!

Cranberry Margarita 
  from Bon Appetit Nov 2013

Cranberry Jam
3/4 c fresh cranberries
1/4 c sugar
1 t finely grated orange zest
2 T fresh orange juice

1 T kosher salt
1 T sugar
1 1/2 t Chinese five-spice powder
1 lime wedge, plus 2 oz fresh lime juice
4 oz fresh OJ
6 oz tequila

Jam: bring cranberries, sugar, orange juice, and 1/4 c water to boil in a small sauce pan; reduce heat and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickens, 30-40 minutes.  Mix in orange zest, let cool.
(can be made 5 days ahead, covered and kept in fridge)

Assembly: Mix salt sugar and five-spice powder on small plate (this recipe makes a LOT of salt/sug/spice -- you could definitely cut the amounts in half).  Rub rims of glasses with lime and dip in salt mixture.  Fill glasses with ice.

For each cocktail, combine 1/2 oz lime juice, 1 oz orange juice, 1 1/2 oz tequila, and 2 T cranberry jam in a cocktail shaker.  Fill shaker with ice and shake until outside is frosty, about 30 seconds.  Strain and pour into glass.

*this drink is not very sweet, so we ended up adding some dollops of cranberry sauce we'd just made to the drinks to sweeten it up*
*also, a couple of people in our crew were horrified by the idea of 5 spice powder rimming their glasses.  A couple of them rose to the occasion though and discovered that the flavors surprisingly work and blend all together.  A couple just opted out (wimpy)*

Pomegranate-Mint Relish
         also from Bon Appetit Nov 2013

1/2 small shallot, chopped
1 1/2 c pomegranate seeds
1/2 c olive oil
1 1/2 finely grated lemon zest
1 T lemon juice
1 T red wine vinegar
1 c finely chopped fresh mint
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Combine shallot, pomegranate seeds, oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, chopped mint in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper.
(can make a day ahead and chilled without the mint -- add mint before serving)

This was a fun addition, a different set of flavors at the Thanksgiving table, but the bright pomegranates and tang of vinegar was great with turkey.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

ripe pears

This morning I stood in the kitchen while it was still dark, wintry white just beginning to seep into the low trees.  Maeve sat on the counter, as she does, head a hair below the bottom of the cabinets.  I picked up a pear whose skin looked like it had been painted dandelion yellow before the green wash went down.  I stood cutting one thin slice at a time, the way I learned watching my grandmother cut apples, knife toward her thumb.  The slippery white pieces trickled juice down Maeve's hand as she shoved them in her mouth, Maeve who shakes her little head at the suggestion of any food beyond milk, bananas, and stoned wheat thin crackers.  This morning, she didn't refuse, and together we ate a pear, one slim slice at a time, while the house slept above us.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Baby Fairies

Yesterday morning as I wheeled around to face Ben, frustration crackling through my body as Maeve, for the zillionth time that morning, shook her head no at the food I was offering and wildly threw it all over the floor.

He smiled at me.  Do you want to give her back to the Baby Fairies? 

Yes, without hesitation.  I looked at her soft curly hair and moony baby face.  Yes, I do.
In fact I've wanted to every day this week as she's added witchiness to the once-peaceful witching hour, and I haven't known how to satiate her.

Last night sleep and popcorn making collided -- so much just-getting-warm in the blankets and then POP! someone cries and up I go.  All.  Night.  Long.  On one of the visits to Maeve's room, we sat in the chair, her head tucked snugly in the crook of my neck, little arms around my arms with a koala grip, and rocked.  This, I thought, is what I love.  As soon as I thought it, I realized why I've felt so bewildered and disappointed this week:  I still think I have a baby.  I'm still expecting someone loose and snuggled in my arms, someone whose needs I meet easily with a bottle.  I'm not prepared for defiance yet, even one year old uncoordinated head shaking that makes her fall down when she walks (because she shakes her head and tries to run away from me!!!)  I'm not prepared for a baby with strong preferences who wants to eat ONLY bananas, cottage cheese, cereal and yogurt (is that ok??) rather than whatever great foods I offer.  But here we are at 13 1/2 months in the toddler years.

Maeve, I am sorry I wanted to give you to those fairies, though they would have loved you.  I promise not to give you away.

Thursday, November 07, 2013


If I could have any superpower, it's always been to teleport -- more than flying, more than superhuman strength, I'd love to blink my eyes and arrive (it's the destination, not the journey...). But tonight for the first time, I wanted a power more than that.  I wanted the superpower to multiply myself and maintain a unified consciousness -- to at once rake in the yard with Ben; sit on the yellow couch with Eden, stroke her hair and ask her dozens of questions about her day; wrestle through word sorts and spelling words with Silas in the dining room; pick up crying Maeve who is clinging to my leg and rock her weight against me; stand in the kitchen alone to open the oven without fighting off Maeve with my leg; walk alone under the pinkening-gold that's spilling over the clouds right now and take a deep breath -- to be fully present to all of these at once.

Instead, though, I am leaving Ben to rake thousands of leaves alone while Silas and I work on "fruit" and "suit" and "dude;" I'm running outside to rake with Ben until Maeve's yelling turns to crying in the half-dark yard and I have to carry her in kicking and put her in the tub; I'm sitting alone for three minutes on the kitchen floor, Maeve screaming in her bed, with a glass of Malbec writing as I wait for the lasagna to be done; and then unexpectedly, I have a stolen moment with Eden who pokes her head in.  I get to hold her 5 year old self for a minute and ask about the fireworks of her day.

{now it is tomorrow}
After everyone was finally tucked under blankets and quieted by the dark, the 60 degree day faded to a night still warm enough to sit in.  Ben and I walked outside and sat on the front step, a slivered moon lit up through the branches.  The air smelled sweet -- leaves and earth and the cool dark -- and absorbed some of the exhaustion we both carried from raking and wrangling.  We just sat, looking at a scattering of bright stars and for a moment, I didn't need to be anywhere else.

Today Silas is home with a fever.  After the tylenol kicked in, what he most wanted to do was make a cardboard house (inspired by the wonderful book, If I Built a House -- love Chris Van Dusen) for his two bears.  I loved his wanting to house his bears and create something.  But standing there with Maeve clinging to my legs crying -- because either she doesn't feel well, some tooth deep in her gums is pressing, or she's simply ornery already at the age of one -- feeling sleep deficiency stinging my eyes and making my head heavy, I couldn't imagine helping him set up for that project.  So he cried, and I felt like I failed him.  Maeve yelled and clung, and I at least got breakfast's cold items back into the fridge.

But the day went on, as they do, and time extended its arms, as it sometimes does.  Maeve slept.  I ate avocado on toast.  Silas paged through some books and started to make the box house on his own.  Armed with a long serrated knife and gorilla tape (I couldn't find the glue gun), I came to help.  We cut windows and doors that he designed, hung curtains that look like stained glass, taped up a package delivery slot, and fastened fabric across the roof.  I think it still looks a lot like a mailing box with a little paper glued to it, and fabric taped on the inside, but he is thrilled.  He keeps walking by saying, "I can't believe we finished my house!!"  "I can't believe I made such a cool house today!"  A little effort worth it.

Eden got off the bus crabby and angry about missing house-building and a day at home -- and hungry (hangry!) because she didn't eat her lunch.  Maeve continued her yelling/incessant hold me!/shaking her head no, and Silas's fever kicked back in.  Hairy.

But now, we are waiting for Chinese food to come.  Silas's fever broke and he's making music on the ipad, while Eden plays with Maeve in the basement -- a playing that sounds like lots of shrieking and LOUD squealing laughter.  They have a magic chemistry where somehow their four years difference dissolves into play they both understand.

This must be how days work -- frenetic to calmed, racing to lying on the ground looking at the leaves.  A woman I knew in California called it inhales and exhales of the day.  We need both, she said.  These inhales seem to last so long that my chest hurts and my throat feels tight, but then, at some point, I always get to exhale, even a short exhale and there's release.  And so, as I pause at the table for a second, before the onslaught of dinner and bedtime, I will tell myself to keep on breathing.

Friday, November 01, 2013

a Happy Halloween

I am sitting at the table with Halloween remnants scattered around me: a bowl of clementines with jack-o-lantern faces drawn on, a witch's broom on the floor, unwashed travel mugs of spiked cider (so good), a stack or orange paper plates, yarn for making ghosts' necks, and, of course, candy, my own Reese's cup wrapper at my wrist.

Halloween this year was ideal -- all of the dark, murderous, gory stuff held at bay.  Instead there were neighbors gathered, kids on swings, throw-back costumes (Michael Jackson, skeletons, witches, cat in the hat), pizza, and streets teaming with kids.  Once, when Silas was two, I broke up with Halloween.  Good to know, even Halloween break-ups can be redeemed.

 That's Silas's real hair -- gelatin does wonders -- and he now wants to wear a mohawk to school every day...
My mom, Goldilocks, was my favorite.  

Spiced Apple Cider
     from Bon Appetit 

1 gallon apple cider
1 T whole allspice (I used ground and less than that)
1 t freshly grated nutmeg (I used dry and less)
4 whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla bean
Brandy, Calvados (apple brandy), or Bourbon (I used bourbon)

  • Combine cider, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon sticks in a large pot. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Bring spiced cider just to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook just below a simmer until flavors meld, about 1 hour.
  • Strain cider through a sieve into another pot or heatproof punch bowl; discard solids in sieve. Add brandy/bourbon to taste, if using.