Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Care and Feeding of a Vegetarian

Ever since Ben planned and cooked a week of vegetarian meals, I've stopped serving him meat. And he's gained ten pounds. He had been spending so much effort and energy in the avoidance of meat, that he wasn't getting enough to eat. I finally get it -- he doesn't want to eat the stuff for all kinds of reasons. He can't shake the fact that they are critters and that killing is involved; and he is also into the meat is an inefficient source of food for an overcrowded planet concept. And then there is the taste and texture which he finds repugnant. Okay, okay, this isn't a phase, this is from the very core of his being. And it really isn't that hard to cook for him as long as he still eats eggs and dairy.

So, today I cooked up a batch of veggie burgers which I will freeze and have at the ready when I'm at a loss for a meat equivalent for him. The rice and beans combine to make whole protein. Today I made a dozen of these little beauties and here's how:

2 C. brown rice (cooked)
2 cans mashed up beans (I used 1 can of black beans and 1 can of pinto beans)
2 eggs
1 C. bread crumbs (I used Panko 'cause I had some in the cupboard)
2 C. mashed, shredded, finely chopped, or grated vegetables (I used a combination of cooked beets, raw carrots, raw spinach, cilantro, and raw onion*)
salt and pepper to taste

*the onions and beets were from the Millsap's  (our CSA farmers of yore) stand at the new Springfield Farmer's Market

Moosh it all together and form into patties (it helps to moosh the beans first and then add the eggs). Fry until brown on one side and then gently turn and fry on the other side. Freeze them on a plate (like in the picture) when they are frozen solid I transfer them to individual bags and nuke to serve.
Carnivores, eat your hearts out!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

It's His Story

 The autograph conga line where nearly everyone signed nearly everyone's shirts. Ben chose to wear his back pack to keep his shirt pristine. He gathered names and email addresses in a notebook.
 More autographing takes place in the shade of the dining commons. In the background is the stone building where Ben slept (not air-conditioned and containing the kitchen which was womanned by the amazing Martha Swick who planned and prepared vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and traditional meals for a couple dozen people three times a day). The same building housed the boys for the week. The big excitement was the seven false fire alarms in one night -- not too much sleep that night. 
Here's the cast and crew of GLADE 2012. Note Ben front and center.

I wasn't there, so I can't tell you what it really meant to Ben. But, my impression is that it was one of the most important weeks of his life. He developed trust and friendship with the entire group, learned a bunch, and had tons of fun. On Thursday night, Greg Swick, the director, called me and said that Ben had been deeply touched by a song performed by a visiting folk-singer. The lyrics told of a red-headed woman and a man in prison. It moved Ben to want to share his story with the group when they gathered on a bluff overlooking the lake at dusk. Ben spoke to Greg about it to clear it with him and Greg in turn called me to see if I was okay with Ben sharing his story with the group. I said, yes, it was Ben's story and if he felt safe sharing it, and wanted to, then he should. And he did. And he moved many people to tears and unleashed a bonding I'm sure he'll carry with him forever. Some moments you never forget. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Can Your Dentist Do This?

My dentist has recently moved into a fancy new office, bought a bunch of fancy new equipment, and trained his assistants/technicians in a some amazing new skills and technologies.
I had to have a crown replaced; the underlying tooth had decayed, so the old crown had to come off, the decay treated, and a new crown installed. In the very recent past, this meant  anguishing time spent with a mouth full of goo while impressions were made, a "garbage can" temporary crown, and once the lab had fabricated the new crown and returned it to the dentist a second visit was required to cement in the new jewel.
This week, the dentist removed the old crown, fixed the tooth, and called in the assistants. They placed a device in my mouth which isolated the tooth and yet allowed me to breathe, swallow, clear my throat, and do everything but talk. Then they used a special little camera and began making digital images of the tooth and the space the crown would occupy. Working on the computer in a 3D graphics mode, they designed the new crown. When the dentist was satisfied, they pushed a button and the crown was manufactured while I sat in the chair. It was cemented in place and I went home a happy person. What truly amazes me is that someday this technology will seem primitive.
I don't have a picture of the tooth, so I'll show you my latest table topper.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Progress Report

I lifted these pictures from the GLADE FaceBook page, so there's not much I can say about them, except that I have evidence Ben is still there and is participating. He appears to be in the thick of things as I would expect -- this stuff is right up his alley. Side note, I'm so glad he has red hair so he's easy to pick out in group pictures. Soon he will be obvious because of his red beard. He has eschewed shaving (why am I not surprised?), and the beard is beginning to be visible. I really miss him, but I have the feeling he is not a bit homesick. I'm so grateful he has had this opportunity.

I wish I had been able to take a picture of Logan this morning as he headed off for his day of job-shadowing Christian County's prosecuting attorney, Amy Fite (isn't Fite a great name for a prosecuting attorney?). He entered the court house looking so adult and handsome in his dark blue suit. It isn't hard to imagine him as an attorney. I think just as Ben is in his element at GLADE, Logan will find his niche in criminal law.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Guys and Pies

Ash Cole (married to Amanda), foster father of Nikki Hawkins, adoptive father of Alicia Cole, exchange father of Lars (sorry, I can't remember his last name). Ash likes lemon meringue pie
Arlan Maples, father of Steve Maples; grandfather of Steve, Casey, and Tim; step-grandfather of Amanda and Krista: great-grandfather of Sadie, Danielle, Ben, and Logan; step-great-grandfather to Nick and Adam; great-great grandfather of Danielle's new(ish) baby. Arlan's an apple pie kind of guy.
John Cyr likes strawberry pie. He is Sadie's dad (and Casey's husband). John is a running fool, he's done a marathon and a few half marathons in the past couple of years. He leaves soon for a mission trip to India.
Jerry Cronin favors French Silk Pie according to his wife, Krista. I bet he shares it with his sons, Nick and Adam. Jerry is just completing a nursing program and will graduate in July.

Here's Steve Maples in the grubby clothes he wore for barbecuing today's midday meal. I swear he changed to a clean shirt just after his picture was taken with his apple pie. This pie didn't last until dinner time. Logan and his grandpa dug in the minute the picture was taken. Steve is father to Casey, Tim, and Steve, Jr.; step-father to Amanda and Krista,  grandfather to Ben, Logan, Sadie, and Danielle; step-grandfather to Nick and Adam; great-grandfather to Danielle's baby.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Come Out and Play

Today Logan asked me about the games I played when I was a child. These are some I remember:
  • Jacks - required a ball and ten jacks (cost 10 cents at Woolworth's)
  • Jump rope - could be single, or a long rope with two people to turn, or double dutch which required two matching ropes
  • Tag - could be regular tag, stoop tag, or freeze tag
  • Kite flying
  • Hop Scotch
  • Mother May I
  • Simon Says
  • Red Light, Green Light
  • Red Rover
  • Kick the Can
  • Hide and Seek
  • Rock School
All of the games required a gang of kids. We gathered our friends by standing outside their houses and calling for them to come out and play. We never rang the bell. Only jacks, jump rope, and kites required any equipment. We often made kites from newspapers and library paste with rags for tails. We bought the sticks at the hobby shop. Jump ropes were just lengths of rope with knots tied in the end. For hop scotch we needed a "toss," we called them taws -- singlular = taw. The very best taw was a key chain, or if you were really well off, two or three key chains linked together. Some people used their charm bracelets and others got by with a rock. The best time for playing was from after dinner until dark.

What strikes me about these memories is none of the games required much in the way of  equipment, playing fields, or a need for transportation. All required a bunch of kids. We were so lucky.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Ben's New Roommate

Ben doesn't spend money, he stashes it away in various secret hiding places (wise boy). Yesterday he turned lose of a substantial chunk of it to pay his share of an early birthday present. In true Ben fashion, he didn't take it out for a spin (except the test ride at the dealer's) until he had read the owner's manual cover-to-cover and committed most of it to memory. Today, he broke down and rode to the end of the block and back. I am nurturing a fantasy that he will really take to bike riding and thus spend fewer daylight hours on the computer. He wants to have a campus bike for his main mode of college transportation. He's got the basics, bike, kick stand, water bottle, helmet, and a serious lock with thick hasp and chain, but still needs a tire pump and repair kit, rear view mirror, lights, and bike shorts. I see many trips to AB Bikes in our future. 

Our week of vegetarian cooking is at an end. It was pretty successful. Ben learned a bit about meal planning, shopping, and cooking, while we found ways to incorporate a chunk of protein for Logan (baked chicken leg quarters are the easiest and surest hit). This week it's no dinner. The guys are at band camp and football camp, so the meals will tend toward fruit, nuts, yogurt, and hamburgers.  It makes it easy to keep the house clean for viewing by prospective buyers who are staying away in droves.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Buy This House (3)

Bedrooms 2, 3, 4, and 5. All generous-sized all with walk-in closets, stained six-paneled solid wood doors,matching venetian blinds that stay with house.

Buy This House (2)

Large eat-in kitchen area with bay window and hardwood floor
Bright and airy dining room with hardwood floor

Master bedroom with tray ceiling, fan, hardwoods, access to back deck
Master bath with jetted tub, separate water closet, step-in shower and large walk-in closet

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Buy This House (1)

Prime location - all brick 5 bedroom/walkout
Mature landscaping - 1/3 acre, in-ground sprinklers
Large living room w/gas fireplace, ceiling fan,

Chef-friendly kitchen, custom cabinets, pot rack stays.

Blogger is behaving badly and won't let me post and caption photos the way I want to, so I'm going to have to break this up into two or three posts -- stay tuned.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Moving Right Along

Lousy photo, but I think you get the idea -- the sign has been planted in the front lawn, the house is for sale. I don't know why this picture has a purple glow emanating from the front door, I guarantee you that this house is free from emanations of any color. The boys don't like the idea of selling and moving much at all. They hate all the fixing and fussing that's been going on for the past few weeks getting the house ready to market.
Today the realtor came and took hundreds of photos to put up on the listing website. I'll post some of those photos and a link to the website when they become available.
I have no idea how good my chances are of actually selling it. Many houses around here have been on the market more than a year. Many houses that sell are foreclosures and short sales. But, sometimes you get lucky. The house most comparable to mine in the area sold in nine days.
The boys understand why we need a smaller house and why I need a house on one level, but Logan is very hopeful that if we sell, I am able to find a new place on the same school bus route. They have ridden the same bus for seven years and it has become an integral part of his social life. There are many subtleties to the bus social system. Once a rider has established his or her place in the pecking order, there isn't much mobility within the system, and he is reluctant to lose his seven year investment. I actually understand. So, if we should move to a new bus route, I guess that means he will have to drive a car to school! 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Life With a Vegetarian/Carnivore

Lately, I've been consumed with concern about how Ben is going to get through life on his own, as a vegetarian, without his doting grandmother to run interference for him. Then, I had a Big AHA! moment, an epiphany, a breakthrough! I would teach him. Seems obvious to you, I'm sure, but not so easy for me who is so reluctant to ask for help, to relinquish the reins, to cede control, and to sit back and let someone else f**k up. So, we started yesterday. I asked him to prepare a week's worth of menus, of food he would consider eating, and he did it. It wasn't too bad, he has apparently picked up a bit of knowledge about nutrition and balanced meals. Only thing is, no meat. He hates meat. He doesn't like to eat critters, and he doesn't like the taste and feel of FLESH in his mouth. I get it, although I like meat and sometimes crave it. A part of my big AHA! was the realization that we could start with a well-balanced vegetarian meal and simply add meat for the carnivorous football player and occasionally carnivorous grandmother. But, before we even got started with Ben's menus, I happened to see a Martha Stewart video featuring Sarah Carey. I've become addicted to these five times a week little videos with the quirky Sarah preparing a simple dish each day. Today she did "Mexican-Style Lasagna."

Logan was skeptical (as he sits at the table adorned with the table runner, place mats, and napkins I made to celebrate the month of June). But, OMG, we all loved it -- I give it five stars and will make it again and again. Here's the recipe:

Mexican-Style Lasagna

Everyday Food, March 2005
© 2012 Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. All rights reserved.

Ben made the whole thing himself, from start to clean up, following the recipe literally, (you have to know Ben to realize how important this is). The only change he made was to use whole wheat instead of corn tortillas.
Ben made it, Logan loved it. If you know our family dynamics, you will realize what a powerful statement that is. It was a VEGETARIAN dish fed to a CARNIVORE. It was made entirely by BEN and consumed by LOGAN. That is huge!

Now, as a concession to our carnivore/football player/imbiber of great numbers of calories and vast quantities of protein, I also served a rotisserie chicken as a side dish to humor/nourish him. I will serve some of the leftover chicken with tomorrow's vegetarian soup that Ben has planned.

Ben and I went grocery shopping and bought the ingredients for his week's worth of menus. Tomorrow we will have a vegetarian soup with sobu noodles and many, many vegetables.  I'm really looking forward to this week of cooking with Ben. Today was an enormous success and I see more of the same in front of us.