Archive for November, 2008
Here is an article from the LifeAndStyle section of the Sunday Morning Herald (an Australian newspaper) about housework divisions between men and women. It’s related to an issue that I worry a lot about – and it’s not the fact that men are doing less housework that bothers me. These days households often require two incomes to survive and workplaces simply do not have modifications that allow women to work in ways that don’t take away from their families and children.
“If there’s been a big push in family friendly measures in the workforce, it’s not showing up in the workloads of families,” Dr Craig said.
Here is an interesting video I found while doing my usual perusing of the web for homemaking related material. The Helpless Housewife has at least thirteen videos such as this one. I wish I knew how to embed the actual video here, but this will have to do.
It seems like every couple of weeks now I manage to squeeze in a couple of yummy dinners to please my husband when he gets off work. I mean, something other than Annie’s Homegrown mac and cheese and kale, which is our in-a-hurry standby.
The first meal I made stemmed from a desire to use a butternut squash without using sage. I also had some cauliflower and was in the mood for a curry. So instead of flipping through the phone book to look for Indian restaurants that my husband could swing by on the way home, I found this recipe for Curry-roasted Butternut Squash and Chickpeas with a Cilantro Lemon Yogurt Sauce. To round out the meal, I found this recipe for Curried Cauliflower. I left out the coconut milk, though, and just sauteed onion and garlic in olive oil before adding curry powder and the cauliflower. Then I finished off the meal with short grain brown rice and, of course, kale. Some of the chickpeas got very toasty (which leads me to believe that one could make toasted curried chickpeas for snacks) and I may have been a bit heavy handed on the curry, but it was very good, and the sauce was a perfect complement to cool down the dish. Tim ate it with chicken.
The next meal stemmed from a desire to face my fears and buy some fish from the supermarket. I’ve bought fish before, but it’s by far a natural thing for me to do at this point. I do love to eat fish, though – it’s the only meat I eat. The next problem to solve, was what to eat for sides.
My husband agreed to eat mashed potatoes if I left the skins on and I had zucchini in the fridge, but I wanted to do something different, yet easy with it. The following mouth watering meal is a combination of these recipes found on Allrecipes.com: Easy Lemon-Pepper Blackened Salmon and Baked Zucchini de Provence.
I chose this zucchini recipe because I knew we had herbs-de-Provence, which we sometimes put on chicken breasts for my husband (I almost typed “on my husband’s chicken breasts!”). We also had bread crumbs in the cupboard and a hunk of Parmesan cheese which I grated. Perfect!
And finally, what made the salmon recipe especially good was that my husband recently bought fresh green peppercorns – they come in a jar like capers, and they are yummy – I’ll post a pic sometime if you’re interested. I think it was my favorite meal yet. Feast your eyes on this:
Now it’s my turn to sit back and be served a lovely dinner. My husband stopped by his favorite deli on the way home to buy lots of foodie treats and he was inspired to make his “deconstructed pesto pasta” for dinner. Score! But currently I’m eating a snack of cottage cheese and apple sauce, because when hubby cooks, we tend to eat very late.
Okay, I confess:
1. I’m not a real housewife.
2. I’m envious of mommy bloggers.
3. I never did change that smoke alarm battery!! (So put me down for 20 points, thank you.)
Sometimes I feel left out of this whole housewife – homemaker genre in which I choose to write. I feel left out because I’m not yet a mother and therefore not a mommy blogger. What’s more, (yes, I’ll admit it!) I’m not even a true housewife. I’m sure you’ve noticed. I earn money working both from in and outside of the home. I don’t even know what a true housewife is. But I’m obsessed with the concept and always have been.
As you may remember I grew up in a home with a single mother who worked all the time. I never thought I’d get married and I vowed that I’d never, ever, serve my husband if I did – doing dishes and cooking meals and all that. Normal ( I’m not supposed to be using this word) families always made me uncomfortable, both at my friends’ homes in Southern California, and when I spent summers in rural Iowa. I hated the way men spoke to their wives – I was often outraged by the way Ricki treated Lucy on my favorite childhood show.
But then I matured and I met my wonderful husband (who enjoys cooking – score!) and I started allowing myself to dream about the future I’d like to have. Now I’m in a place I never imagined I’d be and I want the future to be even better.
And that means having a nice home.
I’ve spent half of my life feeling displaced and lonely because my family, both immediate and extended, live so spread out over this humongous country, and I hope to “get it together” enough to mitigate that fact someday. As in, I’d like to be able to entertain any company that should happen to pass through our lovely city, and I’d like to have our finances in order enough that we can travel to our various family members’ homes a couple times a year. And I want my home to be clean and uncluttered and to FEEL like home.
That being said, I hate housecleaning! (And I resent the fact that I’m the one who seems to be in charge of it.) I only moderately enjoy cooking. I go crazy when I’m not working outside the home – but I plan to work as little as possible at jobs other than creating a nice home when I do have children. I’m generally lazy, apathetic, and often overwhelmed about the state of my house. But I swear to all things holy, I’m going to figure this whole homemaking thing out!
So I posted forever ago about my first successful improvised casserole. I was trying to create dinner out of what I had in my fridge and pantry, and that was two large red potatoes, a large bulb of fennel, and a bag of frozen baby peas. And butter, half and half, flour, onions, etc. I perused my cookbooks for inspiration and found a recipe for Creamed Peas and New Potatoes in this lovely cookbook:
It was given to me by my mother-in-law. Funny, huh? My anti-girly-ness was almost offended by the gift, but it’s not a bad cookbook – keeps things simple. So thank you Chris = ).
I’m sure you can figure out how to boil potatoes and add peas. The real genius in this recipe was the sauce:
10-12 (1 lb) tiny new potatoes (or two large red potatoes in chunks – Hey, use what you’ve got.)
1 1/2 Cups frozen or shelled peas
1 small/medium chopped onion
1 Tbs butter
1 Tbs all purpose flour
Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste
1 cup milk/half and half (or whatever)
Snipped fresh chives or dill (or dried)
(If I’m loosey-goosey about the ingredients and instructions, it’s because I don’t think I should tell people what to do in the kitchen – we all have different tastes – figure out what YOU like!)
1. So following the recipe, I scrubbed my two potatoes and put them in boiling salted water for about 8 minutes and added the peas.
2. Meanwhile I started sauteing my sliced fennel (green tops removed) in olive oil (because that’s the way we like it around here).
3. While all that was going on, I cooked the onion in hot butter in a saucepan, until tender. Stirred in flour, salt, and pepper. Added milk all at once. Cooked and stirred until thickened and bubbly. Cooked and stirred 1 minute more. (And the sauce is great! The onions melt away into the sauce, very tasty.)
4. It was at about this point that I decided this might make a pretty nice casserole and that I could throw it in the oven and let it sit there until my husband got home. So, I tossed the blanched potatoes and peas and the lightly sauteed fennel into my casserole dish with the onion cream sauce. I added a good amount of sea salt and lots of fresh cracked pepper (cause that’s the way we like it) and a bunch of dried dill. Stirred it up and put it in a 350 degree oven for close to an hour.
And iVoila! When hubby got home, we ate it with our respective protein choices and a perfect salad with homemade vinaigrette. I think we argued about whether I should have put the cover on or not (I had, but he’s the gratin expert and said, “No way!”), but it turned out great.
I think I might bring this to the next potluck I go to. The hard part is deciding whether to serve it hot or cold because it makes a great cold potato salad too. Better yet, it would make a great cold pasta salad (leave out the potatoes) with chicken or tuna. Ooh, I’ll let you know when I try that.
In the spirit of change I’ve posted pictures of the view out of the french doors of my home office, about a week and a half ago (above), and today. Autumn has finally moved in and changed the appearance of my communal backyard despite the spate of really warm days we’ve had recently (in the 70s!).
Now, I did vote today and so it seemed like a good day to join a new network of bloggers organized by this lovely lady at the blog Home Sanctuary. Each weekday, Rachel posts one simple activity that she will do along with all the Company Girls to help make her home a sanctuary for her family. Her post for today is about Change! I find her recommendations for today hilarious for so many personal reasons. I recommend you click on the link and read her post, but I’ll quote a bit of it here so you can see what I’m up to today.
Today’s Small Thing is to make some small changes in your own precinct. “Change,” in this instance meaning, “to replace the old with the new.”
You can elect to:
Change the sheets on a bed Change the towels Change the batteries in your smoke alarm Change a light bulb Change the oil in your car Change your tablecloth Change your undies, or simply turn them inside out. Good to go.
For starters, I’m literally on my last pair of underwear today. And you know all about that smoke alarm of mine. Finally, I can’t just go changing the sheets because we only have one pair for our bed! (Too bad we didn’t get sheets for a wedding gift instead of the three coffee makers we got – and if one of those coffee makers was from you, please don’t feel bad, we are very thankful – it was bad management of the registries on our part.)
So, I figure I can do the following in my first attempt at doing small things for my home sanctuary:
- Get that battery into the smoke alarm. It turns out that the battery in the kitchen smoke alarm also decided to konk out a couple of days ago and I was forced to buy batteries because it was going off all day. The first time it went off, I ran downstairs in my bathrobe, wet from the shower, wondering if I’d have to be rescued from a fire without underwear on. We changed that battery (but we haven’t gotten it back up on that 12 foot ceiling yet). The other battery is in my basket for keys and other odds and ends, and soon it will be in that basement smoke alarm!
- Change my sheets and my underwear. I figured all that underwear that needed washing fit pretty well with a load of sheets, and all I have to do now is put them in the dryer.
- Change the towels. I already exchanged most of the towels in the house for clean ones. Some of them don’t really have replacements, so it’ll have to wait till the next load of laundry.
And, since I’m not feeling very creative. I guess that’s it for my first day. 30 points! ( I’m really not that competetive.) All in all, it doesn’t seem like much, but we’ll be sleeping on clean sheets, and I won’t have to turn my underwear inside out tomorrow – And that’s something.
To close, a recent pic of my beloved snoozing pooper, and now we’re off to a friend’s to watch the election results.