A Shiksa on a Mission

Balaboosta (n.)(bah-lah-b00-sta) A Yiddish term meaning the perfect housewife
I'm a shiksa on a mission...
It may not be perfection but it's the journey that counts

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Happy Hanukkah

The Festival of Lights and Things Fried in Oil. I love this time of year. I make rugelach from a Barefoot Contessa recipe but I do modify. Specifically I don't go buy apricot preserves. If I have homemade, I use that. If I don't, I substitute with what I have. This year it was citrus marmalade. Last year I did homemade apricot preserves, cinnamon and cardamom. This year was citrus marmalade, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Delicious. I usually leave out raisins because not everyone is down with nature's candy. I tend to leave out nuts too so my kids will not make that sound they make when they don't like something. It seems a little daunting making the dough with the cream cheese and then rolling it out and all that jazz but it's actually a pretty simple recipe. And so very worth the bit of effort.

We also did a little bit of frying in oil. Latkes are so utterly fabulous that I really can't do Hanukkah without them.  And who would want to? I used a very easy and somewhat plain recipe this year from Smitten Kitchen. Last year I made some latkes with parsnips and carrots that were something like this recipe. WOW! Unfortunately this was not a year to find parsnips so easily.  But I'm not complaining because Latkepalooza was a Bonafide Fried in Oil Success.
Happy Hanukkah everyone! L'Chaim!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Book Worm

It may seem like I'm not doing much around here these days and it's a little true. My substitute teaching conflicts with my ability to pretty much do anything else. I used to think I was an amazing multi-tasker but I was woefully misinformed.

But I have been reading lately. The reading manic meter is at an all time high. I'd like to share some of my recent literary conquests.

Sex At Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality was the kind of book that seems kind of hot but turns out to be incredibly hot if you are a huge geek, like me. The basic premise is that we are not the monogamous creatures we think we are.  And they back that up with lots of sexy talk about Bonobos and their genitalia.

Inside Scientology which I read in a marathon of intergalactic warp speed.  Must be the thetan in me.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, read the book. It's about the crazy. And it's funny because I finished the book understanding a little more about why it would be easy to succumb to a group, any group, that has so much energy and self-esteem. This book started as an article for Rolling Stone but was easily expanded to a novel.  In fact, I'm sure it could be longer. And I'd read it.

The Leftovers is one of those books too good to put down.  I also read it in a fever. It starts after the Rapture. People are gone.  And not necessarily the ones you thought would be gone.  What happens to the rest? It's worth the read to find out.

Wonder Boys is sadly being read in between my other books but I'm more than halfway through it now. I love Michael Chabon.  I think he's got mad skills.  The sadly part? I think I read it already. I can figure it out. And that makes me sad.

Started The Abstinence Teacher last night (still reading the Wonder Boys) since it's written by the same man who wrote The Leftovers. And I have two more new ones that are calling my name.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


It's cold outside. Freezing cold. Extremely cold. Crazy cold.
But breakfast can make it all better.  Just regular old buttermilk pancakes with some extra cinnamon, fresh grated nutmeg and slices of apples. Warmth from the belly out.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Little Pie

Please to repeat after me.
Waiter, there is too much pepper in my paprikash. 
But I would be proud to partake of a piece of your pecan pie.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Had a fun afternoon at Reed College last Sunday taking pictures of the Yakes. The campus is simply beautiful any time of year but right now it is magnificent. And, wow, these kids are cute!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


This last week and weekend I was apparently bitten by the baking bug because I went all out on the baked goods.  I made some desserts for a potluck with some wonderful women and then I just couldn't stop baking.

I made this Flourless Chocolate Cake and liked it so much that I made it again the next night.  But I'm pretty sure that the first time, I accidentally left out the sugar but don't tell Martha because I bet she has a bad temper for that kind of laziness and a mean right hook. The second time I remembered.  I think the first one tasted better.  You be the judge. It is so incredibly easy and delicious.

Then I made this French Apple Tart but I made a million changes.  I used apples and pear because that's what I had.  I used phyllo dough because it was there. And I changed the apricot jam and rum that you brush on the top to my homemade fig jam and pear brandy.  It was still good.  It's one of those recipes that you don't need to actually follow to the letter.  And you can tell that to the Barefoot Contessa because she doesn't scare me like Martha.

Next I made some Pumpkin Pie Snickerdoodles only because I stumbled upon the recipe and the kid were still busy doing their chores.  I have the time so I might as well bake. They were tasty and easy.

Lastly I made this Nutmeg Coffee Cake to have on hand when my friend came over for coffee. It makes this crust on the bottom and it tastes great melting in your mouth with coffee. Plus, I have to admit that I simply love love love nutmeg. 

Give one a try!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday, So Far

Woke up with energy to spare so here are some of today's projects.

I wanted a pennant banner for the front.  I didn't need it to say anything but I may add a some words.  I love reusing all my favorite fabrics. And today's sunny Autumn day is the best way to display it.
Haven't made pretzels in quite some time.  Made a few with salt and a few with cinnamon and sugar.  I think the salt ones are my favorite.
Today's football feast is spicy pepper chicken.  Delish but next time is more spice.  This may be jut the beginning of  a journey to find the best way to make chicken wings.


It suddenly feels like Fall here. Summer started late in Portland (although many could rightfully claim that it barely happened at all) and so Autumn kind of weaseled its way in without notice. I'm not complaining. Favorite season, hands down. I love it here. The leaves are vibrant shades of red and gold. The air is crisp. And there is a push to wrap in warm quilts, drink hot concoctions and maybe just read. Sure, it's cold. It's also pretty gray and it has been rainy. Nobody's perfect. Plus, I'd take change of season any time.

This season has us slowing down a bit. It's needed. I don't want to point any fingers, but someone has barely made it to the kids' bedtimes this week. Now this time change is really going to throw me for a loop. This was our first weekend to take a deep breath and not be in five different places at once. A momentous occasion worthy of not doing a damn thing. Well, not entirely. Yesterday we wandered downtown during our one scheduled event: Flannery's acting class. But the key word is wandered, which is nice.  And, at times, we were quite aimless in our wandering. We took Emerson to Powell's and bought him a new book. We're suckers for kids who want new books. And we watched part of a college football game. Football is quickly becoming Emerson's passion much to my chagrin. I do like to watch the games (it's a sport that is growing on me) because it means several hours of not being required to do anything else. I would, however, prefer to be watching basketball. Or soccer. Or baseball.  But I'm learning to love.

Now Sunday is here, time change and all, to do what I want to do.  My ideal Sunday is lazy and barely structured. Today I believe it will be some cooking and some kind of craft.  I've been planning on making a few choice recipes for a Sunday (check) when it's so very cold (double check) and everyone is mostly glued to a football game or two (and check!).
Here are some of the ideas I have for today....

Chicken wings for the boy who just realized he loves them more than anything.
Pretzels for everyone because they're pretty easy to make and they feel so Sunday afternoon in the Fall to me.
A possible fondue for dipping veggies and the aforementioned pretzels.
And some Chocolate Filled Sweet Potato Cupcakes because they just seem like they need to made and then devoured. 

What's on your Sunday agenda?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Evil Made Easy

This Halloween I was tasked (actually I cheerfully volunteered) to make specimen jars for the Mad Scientist's Laboratory at the school's Harvest Carnival.  So I did what any evil and insane scientific mind gone horribly wrong would do....I took Jell-o (which, sorry everyone, is pretty disgusting even sans floating heads) and added basic items to gel in them.  Some good ones were cauliflower, soy linguine noodles and a big knob of ginger. But the very best was when I sawed off the top of Barbie's decapitated head, glued on a walnut for a brain (insert Barbie/walnut brain joke here) and floated her in a mixture of lime and black cherry Jell-o.  Runner up was the fingerling potato finger with just a hint of black nail polish. 

I believe this is what they refer to as Finding Your Calling.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


My new favorite things.....terrariums.  I was given one as a gift from a crafty friend and then I saw a book about them at Powell's so I felt the universe was telling me it was time to put succulents and air plants in pretty little glasses with rocks and shells.  Voila! 

It's good when the universe is upfront about what it wants and not vague or abstract.  I prefer my universes to be straight shooters.

I will be making more.....until the universe lets me know I am done.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Flannery's little friend is having a birthday and I felt the need to make her something because I love that she always wants to make presents for her friends even though it makes her mom have to apologize profusely.  It's really sweet.  Plus, this little girl is so smart and precocious. Once I got an email from her mother asking if any of her friends wanted to have play dates with her.  The email said please RSVP to the mother.  So I did.  Found out that mom didn't write the email.... That girl is good!

I made her a little skirt from some Dr. Seuss fabric my mom sent to me and remnants from other projects.  Then Flannery designed a headband to match. I think she'll look pretty good.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

That Soup

The soup that the kids will eat without complaint.  The soup that Flannery will eat morning, noon or night.  The soup that is made more than any other one we know. It's Bean and Bacon soup.  And I have to say that I'm a fan too.  It has four kinds of beans, potatoes, carrots, broth and it will be making an appearance at the Five Cent Farm on a regular basis throughout the Fall and Winter (and let's be honest, probably into Spring around these parts).

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Green Goddess

Although I have all the classic signs of a run of the mill sinus infection, I am admittedly a horrible sick person so I have convinced myself that it's not just a sinus infection but proof that I was abducted by aliens and nasally probed probably with a Hi-Liter in yellow or green. My other theories are consumption or Bubonic Plague.  I feel like the extras from The Walking Dead except I take hot showers every morning so I'm Walking Dead on the inside but shiny and scrubbed on the exterior.  Just goes to show the old "never judge a book by its cover" adage is correct at times when consumption and alien abduction are suspected. Here's the concoction I came up with to feel like I had a leg to stand on in the fight against the sinister sinus infection plague that is taking over my life. 

I told Reggie I made this smoothie and he guaranteed that I would never have to share it with him. Ever.  I tried again this morning but he assured me it was all mine.  He did say he would try it if I could ever figure out how to make it not look like the The Excorcist green pea soup scene.  Alas, I can't. He doesn't know what he is missing. Cover Judger.

Kale Smoothie
It's about 2 cups coconut milk blended with anywhere from a teaspoon to a tablespoon of honey and about a good cup of kale (but just the leaves and not the thick ribs).  After the milk reaches a lovely shade of green, I add in frozen strawberries and papaya, one whole orange and a whole banana. And then I puree it until it's all a thick green goop.  Mmmmmm. Goop.

I made this recipe up using ones I'd seen before and what was in my house. You can make it using whatever you have too. I'm ready to hear about smoothies you like because I've already got the blender out and this plague may linger.  And I've learned not to judge the person by the goopy green stuff they put in their cup. That's my new adage.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bettie and the City

My wonderfully talented friend took some pictures of me.  I'm a lucky girl, for sure. We went downtown to Portland's gorgeous library.  I put on my glitter shoes.  I brought books.  It was amazing. We got to talk about the intoxicating smell of old books, the images change us and shoes.  We ate Thai food by a fountain. She shot on film. I can't wait to see them in her upcoming Art Show. Check out one of her shots at Little Paper Cities and you can see more of her work. Photographer. Lawyer. Mother. Artist. Wife. Friend. Blogger. She inspires me constantly.

Soup, Only Better

Yes, it is another post about tomatoes but cut me some slack because we had to wait until now to even get tomatoes.  The positive side of that is tomato season has exploded during soup weather.  So I was extra excited when a rainy Autumn Sunday that was ripe for soup making and a recipe for Roasted Tomato Soup with Broiled Cheddar collided.  This recipe had all the elements: roasted, tomato, broiled and cheddar.  And even better (as if it needed to get any better) was that between the roasted and the broiled was, wait for it, Rye Bread.
First you roast the tomatoes which makes the house smell like heaven's heaven.  The roasting releases all this incredible flavor.  See all that juicy goodness underneath the tomatoes? That's like sweet and savory tomato syrup.
Then you blend it up with red pepper flakes. I have to admit I'm a big fan of pretty much anything that includes red pepper flakes. Once it  has simmered with some broth for a bit, the pepper flakes give it a soft spiciness in each bite.
The finishing touch is the bread and cheese broiled top that is much like French onion soup.  It's also like tomato soup with a grilled cheese that has been turned inside out and put all in one bowl.  And it made my Sunday,  my soup weather and my tomato harvest all better than I ever expected.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tomatoes Are Here

And behold...We harvest tomatoes.  It only took all summer.  They are still coming full force.  September tomatoes for the picking.  The first batch was eaten up or made into sauce.  I got the idea for this sauce here because you can't pass up something called Naked Tomato Sauce.

Naked and Delicious.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Easy Peasy

I decided last Sunday to give in and hope for the Best Mom Ever Award by making Danish pancakes for the kids when they asked for it thinking I wouldn't do it.  It worked.  I rule. The neighbors benefited too.  Danish pancakes with homemade blueberry lime jam on a lazy Sunday morning is good for the soul.  But don't let on to the kids because they really think I sacrificed for this....and what kind of mother would I be if I didn't activate the guilt gene? See? Best. Mom. Ever.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


This year's jalapeno crop, which could also be aptly named this year's jalapeno, came in fits and starts just like this year's summer sun in Portland.  But when I got one or two, I put them to good use.  These two got roasted on the grill along with some tomatoes (not mine since mine just arrived yesterday), Walla Walla onions, red peppers and garlic.  When everything was good and charred, it went in the blender with lime juice, cilantro and more salt and pepper. Done. A very saucy sauce.