Sunday, December 16, 2012

Nerd Problems

I'm not, in the strictest sense, a nerd because I don't wear glasses, I'm not tech savvy, and I've never been that successful at mathematics. But I am most definitely a nerd in that I love LOTR! So this boils down to the fact that I'm a nerd with no real skill set. Hm. Well, it could be worse.

If you're not a nerd, you probably don't even know what LOTR stands for. Let me help you (perhaps you could help me with my fashion sense?). It stands for Lord of the Rings. I'm a big fan. I'm also a big fan of the Hobbit and I've been eagerly anticipating the its opening.  I didn't realize until yesterday that the Hobbit is also being made into a trilogy (like LOTR) which will include not only the Hobbit, but some of Tolkien's other works that pertain to Middle Earth. The Hobbit, though, is not a trilogy. It's just one book, and now I'm concerned. So concerned! I fear that the film makers will take liberties that will diminish or change all the things that make it a well-loved, classic novel! Nerd problems- not to be confused with actual problems.

I reread the Hobbit this month in preparation for the movie coming out. I have to say, I just love it. The best books- and desserts- always have layers, and each reading will reveal something new to chew on. The Hobbit, at it's simplest, is a great fantasy adventure story. But you can go much deeper than that. I'm not  talking about going to Comic Con dressed as an elf. I mean that I find Tolkein's writing to be so illuminating regarding human nature. One thing that I love most about it is his characterization of the various races that inhabit Middle Earth. In those characterizations, you almost have a parable of the Proverbs- the wisdom literature of the Bible. You see various traits, positive and negative, playing against each other and coming to fruition in arcs of wisdom and folly.

Dwarves, for example, are highly industrious and able to produce things of great usefulness and extraordinary beauty. But they are rather rude and they love gold, which figures prominently into the book's premise: A group of Dwarves trek to an ancient homeland to reclaim their stolen treasure from a dragon. They little concern themselves with considering the possible consequences of waking a dragon that has long been dormant in his mountain, guarding his mountain of treasure.

On the other hand, you have Hobbits. I just love Hobbits. They might tend towards laziness, but they do not have the same weakness for riches. They have little penchant for adventures and are provincial in their thinking, but they are mild-mannered and, Bilbo in particular, is not blinded by greed.

In once scene that I love, there are three trolls that are so fond of arguing that they argue themselves into oblivion. They would have done well to remember that "a soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Proverbs 15:1 (Wouldn't we all do well to remember that?!)

I love the way that the races interact. Each has strengths and weaknesses and various quirks that, together, weave a rich tapestry. Like with real people in real life.

I cannot wait until my children are old enough to read stories like this aloud. Unless, by that time, they've come out with a Hobbit video game,  then I'll just let them play that. (No, I won't!)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

For What It's Worth*: My Thoughts On Juicing

Over the summer my in laws all started juicing, and I was intrigued. I usually think of juicers as granola-organic-hipster types. My in laws are not granola-organic-hipsters. I am not a granola-organic-hipster either, but I aspire to their sense of irony and their love of hummus. I was very interested to see how it went for my in laws, and I was contemplating getting a juicer myself.

Then, while vising my mother in law, she let me try some juice that she'd been drinking regularly made from juiced carrots, celery, apples, cucumbers, perhaps a few other things- I can't remember. But I do remember that it tasted only slightly better than vomit. I'm not knocking my mother in law here, she's aware of what I thought of that concoction. And I'm sure she's capable of making a delicious juice, but this one reminded me of a long night I spent retching over the toilet. (My mother in law, by the way, is the best mother in law anyone could ever hope to have! Hi, Diane!)

As I researched juicing, I decided that I'm better off just eating fruits and veggies. I'm sure juicing has it's place, but I don't like the idea that I would be missing a whole lot of nutrition from any given fruit or vegetable if I was just extracting the juice.

One thing that struck me when I watched my mother in law prepare that juice was how much was wasted. All of the pulp from the fruits and veggies (and there was a lot of it- I was surprised how much) accumulated in a canister attached to the juicer and was subsequently given to my in laws' pet rabbits. The pulp has additional nutrients and lots of fiber. Fiber, something which most Americans are lacking, is important for intestinal and heart health and also helps you to feel full. You miss all of those  benefits if you're just drinking juice. I've heard that you can save the pulp and bake it into something. But, to me it would be a lot easier to just eat the apple rather than juicing it and then baking the skins into chips (or whatever it is that people make.)

There is a caveat, though. If the only way you can manage to ingest any fruits and vegetables is to juice- then you should juice! I'm still intrigued by juicing, and some of the recipes I found on the web sounded delicious. Maybe I'll look into it again in the future. It's definitely not a bad habit, or unhealthy in any way. I just don't understand why, if health and nutrition is the point of juicing, you would throw away so much of the nutrients and fiber? Why not just eat fruits and vegetables?

 I feel that people are always trying to find creative ways to avoid eating fruits and vegetables while still capturing their nutritional benefits. My opinion is that there's really no good way to get around it: you just have to eat fruits and vegetables. With rare exceptions, you'll never match the nutrition of actual food through fake food, food supplements or, in this case, juice. If you could just, say, have an apple or some celery and peanut butter as a snack, I think you'll probably gain more nutrition and save yourself the trouble of having to bake a celery skin cake.

A possible alternative to juicing would be to mix vegetables and fruits into a smoothie. I think that is a much better way to preserve all of the nutrition in the fruits and vegetables and feel fuller for longer.

This is just my opinion. If you're a juicer, you're probably way healthier and cooler than I am anyway. So, just roll your eyes at me behind your black, thick-rimmed glasses and keep on juicing! And, if any juicers are reading this, tell me, why juice? And, what do you do with all that pulp besides provide a fantastic diet for your rabbits?

* Not much, I know!

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Guess What Time It Is?

Grandma Time. 

My mom graciously came to town this weekend to help me out as Peter had to travel to sunny San Diego for  a surgery course. John loves his grandma and you can see why. Yes, there's coke in that cup. I just left the house and pretended not to see any of it. 

Peter called me from San Diego and he was raving about the hotel and the food at the hotel. And I was like, "how is the course going?" And he was like, "oh  yeah... it's okay." And then he went right back to talking about the food and his trip to the shore. So! Sounds like there was a lot of learning going on.  

I'm happy he's on his way back from the airport right now! 

Friday, December 07, 2012

Purple is a Good Color for You

If you're like me, you're always looking for a good recipe for beets. Right? Are you with me? (Anyone?)

I don't know what it is about beets but, for me, they're like the emblem of healthy eating wrapped up in foodie-ism. Kale, arugula, beets- these are healthy (extremely healthy) foods that require a little foodie know how to give them a wider appeal. I imagine Martha Stewart saying "just toss a few pantry staples together to create these gorgeous and delicious prosciutto-wrapped kale-stuffed beet truffles." Martha would consider prosciutto to be a pantry staple, but I digress.

 If you're eating foods like that, you've got a culinary sophistication to which I aspire. I'm always looking for simplevery simple) and delicious ways to incorporate more veggies. (Don't get me wrong, I strive to be a healthy eater, but, love for veggies notwithstanding, I have a formidable sweet tooth, and given the opportunity I will shovel icing down my gullet. <--- This sentence has so many commas that I'm sure it can't be correct.)

The beet has long eluded me, but I have two recipes that I wanted to share.

Due to the peculiarities of the Texas Winter, we are able to enjoy frozen smoothies in December with winter vegetables. It seems that green smoothies are all the rage these days, but here is the recipe for a purple one: Mixed Berry and Beet Smoothie.

I understand that the beet's purple color is an indication of its fantastic nutritional content. And it really is so pretty. That's part of the draw for me- don't you just love that purple? (But you must be careful because it will stain!) This may be a good way to get your kids (or yourself) to eat more veggies- sneaking them into smoothies. I thought the smoothie was good, not great. But John gulped it down and asked for more. I will definitely try it again.

 The keeper recipe was this Savory Beet Soup. This was excellent. It's easy to make and it would look so beautiful at a holiday meal because of its festive color. Try it! The only reason that I don't make it more often is because it's a little light for a main course. If you had some really good, filling bread, it might work.  I always feel like I should make something to accompany it, but I'm mostly striving for one-pot meals these days. Coordinating main dishes, side dishes, prepping, cooking and cleaning is a little more that I can accomplish in one segment of Thomas the Tank Engine.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Please, Oh Please, Let Them Be Clean Freaks

God, it is my humble prayer that you would make all of my children clean freaks. As you know, I need help around here.

Isla likes to put her face flat on the floor and lick. She also loves plastic bags (suffocation hazard!) How does anyone ever survive childhood?

Thankfully, John is well on his way to becoming a neat and tidy young man. Sort of. He loves to "help clean". Here he is making me proud by vacuuming under a hard to reach area (and hamming it up with that smile):

He also enjoys "packing up". While I was busy getting us ready for a trip to San Antonio recently, he was busy efficiently packing some of our necessities:

 I couldn't imagine leaving town without all of our letters.

And Isla's got big news! A few weeks ago she was making a lot of commotion after I'd put her down for her afternoon nap. It sounded like she was having way too much fun for nap time, squealing with glee and all. I walked in to see what could possibly be the source of all of this happiness and I saw this:

She's pulling up, and she's mighty happy about that! (I took out the bassinet insert right away and now she's sleeping in the bottom of the pack and play.) And she's starting to hands-and-knees crawl, though she still mostly belly crawls. And she's got two bottom front teeth poking through. Standing, and crawling, and teeth, oh my!

I found this picture recently when I was looking back through some photos from earlier this year and it gave me a laugh: 

Isla, happy to be alive. She might be upset because we wouldn't share the cake.