Ebelskivers

Long, long ago in my childhood, my mom would occasionally be inspired to make ebelskivers. Honestly, I can only remember a few instances; we rarely did more than cereal for breakfast, and anything that required fiddly work was doubly unlikely to occur. But I have a vivid memory of eating ebelskivers with homemade applesauce, and it’s a very warm and lovely memory indeed for me.

Recently I got her old ebelskiver pan from my dad and did a few ebelskiver experiments of my own. They are indeed a little fiddly, but they’re also very, very tasty. We do ours for snack rather than breakfast, since a) I don’t really like a heavy breakfast anymore, and b) when I wake up in the morning I want food now, not after twenty minutes of futzing with little round pancakes.

For our snack today I tried a new variation: Cinnamon-Bun Ebelskivers. Oh. My. Word. For pure, unadulterated decadence, these take the proverbial cake, smash it against the wall, and scrape the remains off with a spatula. I only made a half batch, which is good, because otherwise I would be stuffed even more full than I am now. I also made my usual substitutions (white whole wheat flour and oat milk) and shortcuts (no frosting, and seriously, you want me to separate eggs for a pancake? fat chance). They were heaven. Or, as Dave put it, deadly.

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Return Of The Peacock

The other day Ryan was standing at the back door, pointing outside and making incessant “Eh? Eh!” noises. I naturally assumed that he wanted to go outside (even when it’s rainy, he’d rather spend three quarters of his time outside). So I started getting us dressed, and it was only when I was lifting him out of the door that I realized his urgency had another cause: there was a peacock about ten feet away from me, behind our rhubarb bushes. I am less observant sometimes than I like to believe.

We were all outside in short order, trailing after the peacock as it wandered through our back yard. He had shed his long tail feathers, but was still lovely and shimmery in the weak winter sunlight, his neck feathers fluffed up against the cold. In all honesty, I must admit that I let Nathan throw him a few scraps of bread so that I could get some good close pictures.

My enjoyment of our guest was marred slightly when he headed into my garden — and, more importantly, when he started pecking. The lettuce he was pecking at was an old one which I need to pull out, since it’s already bitter; but I was keeping a close eye on him, ready to chase him out if he went for my tender young lettuces nearby. I love watching the peacocks, but there are limits. After all, I love watching the deer that have wandered into our street a couple of times too, but when they head for my young fruit trees I run out yelling and clapping at them. I grew up more out in the country, and lack the romantic sensibilities that some of my city-bred neighbors seem to have when it comes to wildlife. I am not above throwing rocks at raccoons.

The peacock nearly got shooed off when he walked through one of my beds, but since it was mostly empty I let the faux pas go. This time. I was too grateful for the fifteen minutes of riveted entertainment he’d provided my kids. A few footprints and (as we discovered later) some patches of peacock poo seemed like a small price to pay.

A Warm And Cozy Place

Nathan’s bedroom is the coldest corner of the house. During the summer this is not an issue, but when colder weather comes it can be a little challenging for his little body to keep his bed warm all night. It hasn’t been at all unusual for me to hear “Mommy! Come!” in the wee hours of the morning, when he wakes up half out of his blankets and chilled. (We’d gathered a mountain of blankets onto his bed in an attempt to keep him warmer, but they were also bulky and somewhat annoying.) So I fumble my way down the hall to crawl into bed with him, which gets him toasty again. Then an hour or so later, when Ryan wakes up crying, I stagger back up the hall to the other bed. Sometimes this happens more than once in a night. It is not, all things considered, highly conducive to my well-being.

A while ago I found what I considered an absolute windfall at Goodwill — a thick, luxurious down comforter, the perfect size for Nathan’s bed. We’d considered getting him a comforter before, and for $25 it would have been insane not to take it. So I did, and then planned an extremely quick and easy duvet to make for him, picked the fabrics out of my stash, and promptly failed to complete it. Little sewing time, other projects… all the usual reasons. I spent months making very, very slow progress.

It’s a funny thing about slow progress. Eventually it gets you somewhere.

So it was that while Linda was here, I took advantage of some of the (amazing, wonderful, generous) alone time she afforded me by finishing up the last little bits. And after the rather extended process of stuffing the comforter into its new home — which would have been a lot quicker without the two small children trying to play on it — there it was: frogs, bright colors, and a thick flannel backing to keep my little guy snuggled and warm.

I’d like to be able to report that it’s completely eliminated the middle-of-the-night calls from Nathan’s room, but in all honesty I can’t do that. It’s only been a few days, though, and I’m hopeful. In the meantime, speaking as the person who snuggles Nathan to sleep at night, I can attest to the fact that his new comforter is wonderfully warm and cozy.

Leaf Collection

A while ago, while I was reading about compost (a recurring activity), I ran across a reference to leaf mold. The idea of simply piling up leaves, waiting a few years, and coming out with a valuable garden addition was extremely appealing to me. However, there was a small hitch for us: we had no leaf-producing trees on or over-reaching our property. (Ok, now we have some fruit trees, but they’re still really small.) A second hitch was that we had no really good place to pile up leaves and leave them for years.

When Dave and our nephews built the compost bins, though, I saw an opportunity. At some point all three bins will ideally be filled with compost, but this year one of them was free and likely to stay that way for a while. It was a perfect opportunity to pile in some leaves for our first leaf mold experiment.

Then there was the main problem: where to get the leaves. When we passed by leaves piled over sidewalks and lawns, I would toy with the idea of scrounging them. Would it be all right to sneak out with a wheelbarrow and load it up with leaves from the sidewalk? Should I do it in the middle of the night, wearing dark clothing?

But luck was with us. One day our neighbor’s magnolia tree dropped its leaves. Like, all of them. Best of all, we were in a string of dry, sunny days, so instead of congealing into a sodden mass, the leaves stayed light and crunchy. We headed over first just to play in them. (Fortunately these neighbors are the same ones that let us play in their sprinklers during the summer.)

A quick check with our neighbors told us that they were fine with us taking the leaves. So the next day we were back, in slightly less sunshine, to collect them. Everyone helped with this process. Nathan, who’d been fascinated with our new leaf rake since we got it, refused to relinquish it except for very brief turns granted to Linda and me. This could have been a problem except that he was actually very effective at raking the leaves into piles. Ryan, who was having a bit of grumpy spell, mostly sat in the wheelbarrow. This is not to say he wasn’t useful: when we got it full we lifted him up and used him to weight down the leaves. Linda and I did the actual lifting and wheeling of the leaves. We filled up our compost bin, with leaves to spare, in about half an hour — quickly enough that Nathan wasn’t quite ready to be done with the rake, and went back for a little extra lawn maintenance.

And now we wait. In two to three years, I can find out exactly what leaf mold is like, and whether it’s worth scavenging other people’s leaves every fall.

Halloween

Ok, I am a little behind on posting about this. But the truth is that we didn’t do all that much for Halloween. Nathan is still not quite ready for trick-or-treating, and I haven’t been interested in putting costumes together for the kids just for the heck of it. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I have other things to do, like make more applesauce. (Yes, more. Yes, I know that we’ve already used all of our canning jars. I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll break down and buy new jars, or just use the freezer. But hey, the apples were free!)

So we didn’t do costumes per se, although Nathan became a little interested in wearing his black cape (thanks, Marybeth!) once trick-or-treaters started appearing at our door. He doesn’t like the cape to drape down his back, though, because the string pulls at his neck, so he wears it in front like an apron.

We did, however, carve pumpkins. Pumpkins seem to be Nathan’s favorite part of the holiday at the moment, with the possible exception of the Halloween candy. (We got far fewer trick-or-treaters this year than last, which left us with a serious overflow of mini candy bars. We refer to them as “shinies” to avoid invoking the word “candy” too often. So far this is working.)

Last year, when I carved pumpkins with Nathan, he was deeply enamored of the process, especially the part where I drew on the pumpkin with a marker before carving. Last year he doodled all over the pumpkin in a fabulous modern-art montage that made me wish I’d carved out some of his shapes instead. So this year I was ready. After taking out the innards, which he refused to touch except for some very careful poking at a stray seed, I gave him one of the two pumpkins to draw on. I handed him a Sharpie, which is normally a Forbidden Object. “Go for it!” I told him, and started drawing a face on my pumpkin.

He scribbled a few tiny blots near the top and announced himself done.

All of this is an excessively long-winded way to explain that both of our jack o’ lanterns had faces this year, and that Nathan is still not quite at the stage of actually participating in Halloween. Except, to be fair, for the candy. Not only can he consume it in great quantities, but he actually helped hand it out at the door.

Busy Day

Playgroup in the morning, all the busyness of grandma, a walk to the park in the afternoon… it’s no wonder that Nathan collapsed under the effort of the day. And this was even before Ryan hit him in the head with a can of coconut milk.

Having Linda here is, as usual, an extraordinary luxury for me. Even when she isn’t wheeling both kids away in the stroller to give me some alone time in the house, she is handing out new toys, reading books, blowing bubbles, and just generally providing wonderful interactions to our two little ones. Last night after dinner Dave and I were talking, and suddenly realized that we’d been chatting uninterrupted for minutes. In fact both kids had trailed after their grandma into her bedroom, and they sat and played with her in there for almost two hours. For anyone who has never had small children, this is amazing.

Lunch Heaven

I adore having a garden. I take back all of the exasperated things I thought about it this summer.

Lunch today started with a quick forage in the garden, and became a little slice of heaven. Tomato sandwiches, made on homemade bread with basil and fresh mozzarella. Fresh, sweet carrots, most of which were confiscated by Nathan. Steamed corn with a little butter and salt. (The bite marks out of the corn are not for effect. They are there because my kids have realized that raw sweet corn is also very yummy, and for some reason they feel compelled to taste each and every ear.)

I know, I know — I’m a little obsessive about food. But seriously, what kind of luxury do we live in when my kids and I can sit down to a feast like this for lunch?