Wordless Wednesdays

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

On Centipedes, Fantastic Granola Bars, and Tapioca Pudding

Well, we did it. We made it through another Budget Season. Things are wrapping up for Steve at work, and the boys and I have actually seen this man at the dinner table for the past two nights. We look at each other, nod in polite acknowledgement, and silently wonder to ourselves, "Who is that strange person sitting across from me? Oh, wait. It's all coming back to me...oh my stars; can that be the person I married? The person I bought a house with? The father of my children? Can it be?" Why, yes; it can. We've been actually playing board games and interacting with each other instead of waking up in the middle of the night and mumbling,"Hi grumble snort snuffle how are you?" It's been...glorious. On that note, I have three incredibly random things I wish to share with you tonight:

1) More than any other insect on the face of planet earth, I. HATE. CENTIPEDES. Spiders? Meh. Beetles? Nah. Dragonflies? Nifty! But every once in a while, I have the great misfortune of coming across a centipede in my basement, and it literally sends me screaming up the stairs. There's just something about the non-stop, undulating, simultaneous movement of its body and legs that sends lightning bolts up and down my spine. Have you ever googled centipedes? DON'T. Steve did once, and was having a grand time showing the boys when I had the (once again) great misfortune of walking by the computer. I had no idea what they were looking at, and Steve VERY CRUELLY said," Hey mama, take a look at this!" And because I am a gullible idiot, I looked. I'm still having nightmares. Such awfulness. Anyway, what is the point of this incoherent rambling? I really don't know. But all I know is this: I was on my way down to the basement to fetch the dry clothes out of the dryer and start a deep-clean cycle for the cloth diapers when out of nowhere, here it comes, wriggling and undulating its way up the wall alongside the stairs. NO. WAY. I sprinted up the stairs (as well as a 17-week pregnant gal can sprint), and decided that the diapers could be deep-cleaned tomorrow. And the worst thing of all about those odious creatures?? Every time I see one, I feel my skin crawling for the next few hours. I become convinced that somewhere on my being is a centipede, just hanging out, and I'm constantly swatting at my hair and yelping as I frantically brush off my arms and legs. Pathetic, I know. But...I just had to share that with you. It had to be done. And now on the something far more palatable...

2) Well, I did it. I don't know how I did it, but somehow, the World's Best Granola Bars just got better, and I can honestly say it's because of three things: dried apricots, almond butter, and quick-cooking oats. This is not the first time I've posted the link to this most glorious of oat-y bars...but this will be my first time expounding upon my obsession and great passion for the perfect granola bar. Ahh, a homemade granola bar. I dare you to find a snack more filling, nutritious, and satisfying than a homemade granola bar. The options are endless! Add as much healthy stuff as you want, or eschew the wheat germ and flax seed (GASP), throw caution to the wind, and add those chocolate chunks you've been dreaming of. It's whatever you want it to be, and I love that about a good granola bar. They're portable! They freeze well! They keep well (in an air-tight container...let's not get cocky)! You simply cannot get any better than that.

Or can you?

Turns out, sometimes you can make a great thing even better. I had a little extra time (I have no idea how that happened) the last time I made these, and I got a little wild, left out my beloved wheat germ, and added about 1/2 c. dried apricots, snipped into small pieces. Now, let's get something straight: I am not the kind of person who sits on the couch, watching The Office while munching on a bag of dried apricots. No, indeed. I am the kind of person who sits on the couch, folds 10 loads of laundry in 30 minutes, drinks hot cider from October-February while eating a homemade granola bar and greek yogurt, AND watches The Office. Got it? Good. Now that we've got that straightened out...

MY POINT...(because I did have one) is this: I am not crazy about apricots. I appreciate their nutritional value and their *ahem* "regulating" properties, but I'm not going to pass out in excitement over them. But something happened to those coppery, sweet, wizened little fruits while baking away in my possessed oven. It can be likened to roasting vegetables in that the flavor is incredibly intensified after the roasting process. The apricots became sweeter and took on a carmelized texture and flavor. Well, I was sold. So while the apricots were the highlight for me, I must put in a good word for the almond butter and quick-cooking oats. I had previously used peanut butter in this recipe, and while quite delicious, the mild sweetness of the almond butter blew the peanut butter away. It helped that I used Trader Joe's crunchy, salted almond butter with flax seeds- boy, does that add some serious character. And the quick-cooking oats? While I never use them for regular oatmeal, there will always be a canister of quick-cooking oats in my pantry, because they are the glue that holds these granola bars together. The finer texture of quick-cooking oats greatly adds to a granola bar's ability to hold together after being cut into. In other words, less crumbling. And we all know that there are few things more tragic than a perfectly good granola bar crumbling in your hands. To close this brief essay on dried apricots and perfect granola bars, let me just say this: From this point on, there is always be dried apricots in my granola bars, even though the vast majority of folks may not be a fan of them. In addition to apricots, there will always be shredded, sweetened coconut in my granola bars, and I KNOW the vast majority of folks loathe coconut. Why is this? I have not the foggiest idea, but I do know this: I will stand by coconut until my dying day. My final breath. What did coconut ever do to you, world? I will stand by the darkhorse. Another darkhorse I will always remain faithful to...

3) I love tapioca pudding. There, I said it. You can all think less of me now, but I'm being brutally honest here. I love the mild sweetness. I love the texture (yes, even the little tapioca pearls). But what I think I love the most is the memory of my dad stirring up a pot of tapioca late at night, bent over the stove, wearing his pajamas. He gets very excited about making puddings and sweets at night. I definitely get that from him. Last night, I was seized with a burning desire to consume massive amounts of tapioca pudding. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that I am 17 weeks pregnant. So out came the little red box of quick-cooking tapioca (wow, I'm really divulging all of my culinary secrets tonight!!), and off I went to the stove. The boiling of tapioca is such a mystery to me. You can stand there for 20 minutes, stirring and stirring and stirring with absolutely no results whatsoever, and then you blink your eyes, and WHOA TAPIOCA BOILING OVER! Anyway, it was worth it. I ate...much. Nobody needs to know how much.

Well, we certainly have covered a lot of ground tonight. Insect phobias, favorite snacks, and weird food I have an even weirder kinship with. You'll never know what you'll find here on The Epic Adventures of Skarymop & Co.! I'm hoping to get back on the blogging trail here...it's been a bit crazy since we started our homeschooling adventure in September, but I feel like we're finally striking a balance and finding our rhythm. If you're still reading, thank you for sticking with me. Stay tuned for more adventures!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Budget Season

It's Budget Season. Allow me to share with you what Budget Season means to me.

What Budget Season Means To Me

By Mary Johnson, B.A. in Hanging By A Thread.

Before we begin, I must tell you something of the utmost importance. I can't believe I've never shared this with you before. But now, the time is right.

I hate Granny Smith apples. Except in apple pie.

And that is all.

Here we go.

1) Budget Season means many, many extremely late nights for Steve. About six straight weeks of late nights. Like 11:30 pm late nights. These six weeks of awfulness are repeated in March-April, which is also known as Audit Season. Don't even get me started on Audit Season. I am fully aware that despite the six weeks of awfulness, I have it really good. I really, really appreciate and admire all the women out there whose menfolk are serving our country and are gone for at least a year at a time. A year! So I'm being a whining baby; forgive me. Budget Season is tough. It's hard not to lose motivation to make "real" dinners for myself and the kids, but we muddle through. It's also difficult not to lose motivation to bathe my kids every once in a while, but I just spray them with vinegar, and somehow we muddle through that as well. Lots of muddling going on here, I tell you! I shall now share with you some random things that define Budget Season for me, along with some other current events in my household.

2) Budget Season means lots of old movies. I love old movies. Not necessarily old, as in classic Hollywood old (I love those, too!), but old favorites of mine. For example, as I type this, I am half-watching "Sleepless In Seattle". I LOVE THIS MOVIE. Do you love this movie?? BECAUSE YOU SHOULD. A few things happen when I watch this movie: 1) I cry at some point. 2) I want to move to Seattle. 3) I cringe at Victoria's laugh and pray that I don't laugh like that. Other movies I love to watch when Steve's working late:

1) Julie and Julia.
2) You've Got Mail.
3) Dan In Real Life.

I also love making popcorn the old-fashioned way. I use a ridiculous amount of butter when Steve's not partaking of the popcorn, because he hates butter. I know, I know. I KNOW. Hating butter...this I shall never understand.

3) Budget Season means lots of pancake and scrambled egg dinners. The boys love this. I get sick of it after about two turns. Then I start making crazy salads because I can't stand it anymore. I am tempted to start trying Thai salads. Sweet. Sour. Yes.

4) Budget Season means I start baking. Like a crazy, possessed, wild, feral, mad woman. Did I just type feral? I think I did. Pumpkin Currant Cake was my latest endeavor, and it was pretty stellar. I loved it. Which means, of course, that is was successful.

5) I made a shrimp quesadilla for myself tonight, and it turned out to be a very good idea. I couldn't bear the thought of another Bean-and-Cheese-Burrito night. The boys were happy with it, but I just. Couldn't. Do. It. So I consulted The Pioneer Woman and made this. However, I did not add the peppers and onions tonight. Not only did I not have any peppers on hand, but I also found out the last time I made this dish that I have developed a bit of a bell pepper intolerance. Um. Let's just say it wasn't pretty. And so it is with great regret that I have begun to greatly reduce and/or leave out all bell peppers in my recipes. I am greatly grieved about this turn of events, for I adore bell peppers, especially yellow and orange ones. But I contented myself with a shrimp and cheese quesadilla. I think I'll be turning to this recipe a little more often during these late nights.

6) Budget Season means being alone after the kids go to bed and having no energy whatsoever to do anything worthwhile. The fact that I'm blogging tonight is a rather small miracle.

7) I do bathe my kids. Just not tonight.

8) The One Good Thing About Budget Season: Cooler weather is ushered in, and lo and behold; Fall is upon us here in southeastern Wisconsin. And Fall...well, it's just the best. I don't care what they say.

Thus ends What Budget Season Means to Me.

Well, my movie has ended, so it's nighty-night time for moi. Thankfully, Budget Season is slowly coming to an end. Two. More. Weeks. You can do anything for two weeks, right? Stay tuned for more adventures...even if they are a bit on the feral side.