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

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mean Mr. Mustard

When I was a kid, I liked hot dogs like most kids but mine had to be plain. I didn't like ketchup. I didn't like mustard. I could barely look at relish. And let's not pretend that a girl like that will even consider sauerkraut. Oh, and I liked my hot dogs to be made at the local Der Wienerschnitzel. Right. High class all the way. So not only did I want to eat hot dogs with just a bun, I wanted my mom to buy them like that and never to make them at home. It was never the same when she made them. I'd like to apologize to my mom. Oops. My bad.

Not too much has changed except I don't really eat hot dogs. When I do, they're plain. I've never been a big condiment person with the exception to the rule being french fries with ketchup. But now that I'm older, I'm mellowing on my fervent food stubbornness. I'm softening in my advancing years. I have realized that I like mustard just not the scary yellow kind and not usually on any sort of barbecued and bunned meat. I've also realized that I like things that are homemade because the picky eater in me and the control freak in me can join forces. It's a winning combination that means I don't have to put celery in anything because you are not the boss of me.

When the newest issue of Sunset magazine showed up, there was an article on mustard and how to make them. I decided to give it a try. My mustard. My choice.

And it was wonderful. . . .I made the Hot and Tangy Mustard (basically a Dijon but not from France) to put on the Grilled Chicken Dijon. And I'm glad I did. I love this mustard of mine. It tasted good and was easy and had me singing Beatles songs. That's quite a compliment for a mere condiment.

I made the Grilled Chicken Dijon for dinner last night with plain white steamed rice, a salad and some grilled pineapple. I was a little nervous about serving the kids and I kept dodging their questions about what was on it. I told them it had 'seasoning' on it and then ordered them to clean hands or set tables. I guess I shouldn't have been so worried. They tried it and they actually liked it. The plain white rice, on the other hand, was hailed as a marvel of modern cooking. They couldn't get enough of the rice. They loved it. It's what they want all of the time. It's what makes life worth living.

I think that's got to be some kind of karma, mom.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Girl Effect

I'm a girl and I have a girl and I know a girl. I guess you could say I'm Pro-Girl. And I'm inspired by my friend, Mark, who is working on this new project. The Girl Effect is a program aimed at getting the word out about girls because girls in developing countries are particularly vulnerable to the most damaging aspects of poverty, illiteracy and disease. And saving a girl can help save everyone.

The Girl Effect is worth checking out, worth supporting and worth sharing with a friend or two. When I find something that inspires me, I want to pass it along. And I'm hoping you do too.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Perfect Day for Banana Cake

The bananas were asking for it. And the snow was impending. I call that a Perfect Day for Banana Cake. I used this recipe but only sorta kinda which is the usual. The one cup of yogurt was replaced with equal parts sour cream and buttermilk. Super moist and delicious and perfect for the go to on a day that starts snowy and then melts off only to start all over again. I do love a cake with a literary reference.

Fits Me to a T

In the summer of 1988, my grandfather gave me a t-shirt that I ended up loving quite frankly to death. It was from the first night that Wrigley had lights for a Chicago Cubs game (anyone know the date? anyone?). And I wore that shirt until it started to disintegrate right off of my body much to my mother's chagrin. She and I had more than one "discussion" about her throwing away my wonderful shirt and me taking it out of the trash. I still miss that shirt, mom, but you'll be proud to know that I rarely pull things out of the trash to wear anymore.

I still have a little t-shirt thing going on but now it's simply an overstuffed drawer. Although I can't part with many of them, I simply don't wear t-shirts every single day. But I love something about each one whether it's the graphics or the place it's from or the music it represents. Who wants to get rid of all of that especially when brute strength can push more and more in the dresser drawers? Luckily, my good friend Sharla brought this t-shirt scarf project to my attention. And here's my attempt at the t-shirt scarf.

Mine's shorter since I did just make some very difficult cuts from the t-shirt drawer but I do like the finished product. The back is solid pieces from the shirt. If you think you might want to try this project out, I highly recommend it. Very easy and quick and fun. Who doesn't like all three of those things in one project? But I'll warn you to think about the fabric of the shirt. A few of mine were the softer cotton and they're a bit more difficult to work with than a stronger cotton shirt. Of course, if I can do it. . . .Really. It's just that easy.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Olive Oil Cake

I was first introduced to an olive oil cake in Jamie Oliver's cookbook Jamie's Italy and oh how I love that man. And his olive oil cake. But I think I may have found a better recipe. This recipe for Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake was on the blog Smitten Kitchen recently. I've tried several of her recipes and always had success. Tried and true. I was looking for something simply and delicious to have after chicken noodle soup and salad. I picked the right recipe. This cake was so wonderful that I could have finished the whole thing myself. I would have if other people hadn't gotten in my way.

I didn't use blood oranges. First of all, I tend to be impatient so if I decide I'm cooking something a little thing like not having all the correct ingredients does not always deter me. This is a supremely difficult trait to exhibit when the chickens are molting which means they're not producing eggs and I'm out of practice in buying eggs. Therefore, I continue to feed my neighbors any and all treats so they keep me in ingredients I absolutely need. Secondly, navel oranges are in abundance right now and the price is right. I'm thinking we're going to be having citrus something everyday of the week. And lastly, I'm a firm believer in improvisation. I like change. So navels for blood. And I didn't have buttermilk or plain yogurt so I used sour cream. The compote I didn't make simply because I have marmalade that is sweet but a little bitter and perfect for the cake. And I was right. Pouring a little drizzle of marmalade that hasn't quite set up was a nice touch.

Now it seems after all of my rationalizing that I really didn't make this actual recipe. But I did. And you should. It's fast and you will not regret it. The boy child loved it immediately. The girl child was not a fan but if I had added pink food coloring and called it Princess Orange Cake, then she may have given it a chance. Maybe next time.

Give an olive oil cake a chance.

A Dress Redux

I have this dress but I don't wear it. And in true American fashion, I don't want to get rid of it either. You know the feeling that makes you store things you don't want but you certainly don't want other people to have. So I decided that since I pull the dress out of the closet but always put it back in for a myriad of reasons, I needed to change the dress or part with it forever. I chose to change the dress. Meet my new dress which I think suits me a little bit better (sorry poufy sleeves but you were not meant for me) and gives me something to wear with my CABs (that's Crazy Ass Boots) which I love like I love oxygen. Got rid of the too cute collar, the pouf sleeves and the ripped lining. Also changed all the buttons adding a lovely old yellow button that needed to be liberated from the jar.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


It's always important to celebrate the accomplishments of the people around who inspire you. I'm always encouraged by people who follow their artistic talents. I am especially sparked by anyone who finds a path that others don't always see. Our friend, Tim, is one of those people. Recently Tim was named one of Washington DC's leaders who is changing the world in Washington Life magazine. Tim is a graffiti artist who has shown all over the world from Paris to Berlin to Miami to Canada. His work is nothing short of amazing. I say this having only ever spray painted furniture (mostly the itsy bitsy furniture of my daughter's dollhouse) but I know what I like when I see it. And I'm impressed by his ability to make art where others might not see it.

Check out his work at his website conoperative. And then put a little art in your life.

Read, Dammit!

Winters here in Portland are a good time to hunker down for a good read (and usually some dark beer and rich comfort food). In January I crashed my husband's trip to LaLaLand for the Modern Languages Association conference and felt like the proverbial kid in the candy store. Books everywhere. Books galore. Books, like manna from Heaven. And I found a reissue of Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle with a new introduction by Jonathon Lethem. The novella is worth spending a weekend getting lost in the strange lives of the Blackwood sisters. In fact, the character of Merricat Blackwood is a chilling character to get to know. If you don't think you know who Shirley Jackson is, then read The Lottery (this link takes you right to the short story so get to reading). You probably read this story back in high school but if you didn't, please find your English teacher to complain about the gaping hole in your education.

Take advantage of the dark winter skies and get a little gothic. Dark beer not required but is encouraged.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Horse of a Different Color

The search for a job is soul sucking. And also sometimes just idiotic. As I troll the ads lately, I'm tempted to apply to some of the more amusing ones but I fear I'll only get the jobs worthy of ridicule. Case in point, I recently read an ad for a job working at a local Portland news station for a sort of desk assistant who does the desk work of phone answering, appointment making, etc but also watches news headlines on the computer and must be able to work at a high pace. Yet the list of qualification not only included but BEGAN with Applicant must be able to identify colors. Right? Colors. I'm feeling like this is my opportunity to make my move into the fast paced world of television journalism.

Dear Hiring Committee:
I know all of my colors.
Call me.

Brownie Loves Blondie

I love a good idea for a gift. Thought I'd try out the Smitten Kitchen brownies for Valentine's Day. Delicious and fun treat for the Holiday o' Love. The brownies were easy to make and cut. The kids' teachers loved them although I'm sure they loathe all these sugar-centric holidays. Nothing like getting stuck in a room with 30 some odd kids revved up on high fructose corn syrup and red dye #5. I think it's one of Dante's Circles of Hell.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

It's the Story of a Lovely Lady

Once upon a time a girl married a boy, had two kids and a dog and some chickens. And then what happened? Exactly.

I quit working when I was pregnant with my first child and now I'm thinking it's time to get back in the proverbial saddle but apparently everyone else did not have a bookmark in to save my place. So while I'm looking and hoping and searching, I'm continuing trying to be the best stay at home mom I can be. It's sometimes tortuous but always an adventure. And I love almost every painful moment. But now I'm dipping my toe in the next pool. . . .can I work and still do the things I do to make the home I make?

Peek Inside

When it's cold outside like it is today with winds that cut right into your very soul, I'm happy to look around and see a few things in the house that make me smile. I'm working up the courage to take the dog for a walk but I'm also mesmerized by the way the bamboo in the back is forming a perfect arch from the strength of this incredible wind.
I felt the need to add in something red since it is February and I need to start thinking about Valentines for the kids and possibly for me.
One of my favorite garage sale finds is my Nice/Naughty light. I need to replace the light. There is always room for more light in the deep dark Portland winters.

And a little bit of cowboy wisdom. I do love a little kitschy cowboy couture around the house.

Febraury is for Lovers?

And new starts. I'm thinking February 1st is as good a date as any to start my new blog. January 1st would have probably been a nice idea but I was busy procrastinating as I tend to do. I like to induce frenzy so I don't think and I just do. I should stop that.

Here's my idea. . .I'm thinking that while I'm looking for a job where someone pays me money, I will also write so I don't go crazy. It's not the most well thought out plan but then again what plans are really well thought out? I figured while I'm acting the out the role of shiksa extraordinaire, I could share every time I fall on my ass. I do that.

What's in this blog? Well, I'll definitely post recipes because I cook everyday and I'm a food lover by nature. And then there will be stories about my children who are somewhat insane, stories about people who drive me to the brink of Tourette's which happens more than it should and probably a lot about books, beer, boots and baking. This blog is brought to you by the letter B.

Thanks for stopping by.