Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What the kale?

Kale chips?

Kale, yeah.

We get produce from a CSA farm. Kretschmann Farm has been delivering produce throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania for over 30 years. As I understand it, they have the biggest CSA subscription population between New York and Chicago.

One blessing/curse for CSA delivery customers is that we don't choose what appears in our crate each week. Whatever is in season and whatever crop has flourished shows up. This surprise factor and the sheer abundance of our crate mean that we sometimes waste food that we get because we either have too much or can't figure out what to do with that which we get. When CSA customers describe this problem, they inevitably say, "you know, what am I going to do with _____" and that blank virtually always gets filled with one item: kale. Kale doesn't sound funnier than rhubarb or rutabaga, so people must use kale because it's both abundant and hard to use. It's polarizing - many people don't like it at all while a few sing its praises.

Well, we had a bunch of kale, and we got this wacky recipe for Kale Chips. I am here to tell you: THIS IS WHAT YOU SHOULD DO WITH YOUR KALE. The preparation couldn't be easier, and the result is flavorful and fun to eat.

After patting dry, remove thick stems from 1 bunch of kale and cut into 1" pieces. Whisk together, 1 tsp salt, 1 ½ tsp. garlic powder, 1/8 tsp. cayenne, 2 tbs. cider vinegar, 3 tbs. olive oil. Toss kale with mixture and bake on oiled cookie sheet. @ 350 8 min. then turn and bake another 7 min. until crispy. (Oil alone can be used to toss if you’re not into spicy)

They pack a flavor kick, and this technique probably won't transform your kale enough to turn your kids into kaleophiles. The next time I make them, I'll probably alter the recipe only by decreasing the cayenne to a pinch. These can be balanced nicely with a mild cheese. We happened to eat them with macaroni and cheese, and they'd make a great "what is this?" garnish on that dish.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Go Play in Traffic, Safe Edition

The summer was so nice because we could say "OK, boys, go play outside." Sometimes, our two sweet boys are just relentlessly at each others' throats. The out of doors has such a calming effect on the kids. Also, when they go outside, they're outside, and we get to be inside.

With the summer giving way to a wintry September, "go outside" seems less viable. The other day, I fell back on "I want to see how big a tower you two boys can build together". In addition to some harmonious building (the real outcome I sought), the boys produced this:

An Anatomy of Sleeplessness

Sometimes someone writes something and it resonates so closely with my experience that I'm pretty sure that person has taken up residence in my brain, Being-John-Malkovich-style. This illustration essay about sleep is an example:

Kudos to my buddy Coop for pointing this out.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sunday Haiku: Nostalgia

They get big so fast.
Don't let these years pass you by.
I know. I'm trying.

"I hate this place."

"I hate this place," the mom said as she joined me on a bench in the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh. "It's great for the kids," she continued, "but I get sooo bored." Her four-year-old was playing with some tools in a Bob the Builder exhibit while my three-year-old played with some Bob duplos. She'd parked her infant-toting stroller nearby.

Her statement brought two distinct reactions. First, I had to totally agree. The Children's Museum is a place of wonder for kids of a certain age. For grownups, though, it's a rather expensive way to get bored senseless. Just before Samuel's mom sat down, I'd been regretting not bringing my book in when we parked the car. Second, though, it was striking to have a mom speak to me at all as a dad out with my kid.

One definition of loneliness might be: at-home-dad takes his kids into the realm of the at-home-moms. They all talk to each other; they often come in pairs or packs; and they do not talk to me. On the one hand, I guess I understand this. Our culture accepts at-home motherhood more readily than at-home parenthood. Also, men are pigs and may take civil conversation as a sign of something more than that.

On the other hand, let's think this through. Doesn't the fact that I stay at home with my kid point to something? Doesn't it point to a certain enlightenment and respect for women and, well, uncreepiness? Don't I have more in common - especially on days when we're both counting minutes on a Children's Museum visit - with those moms than with their husbands?

I try to go out with my dad pal when I can so that I have someone to talk to in the few moments that don't require vigilance when out with a pre-schooler in public. But, hey moms, if you see a dad out there in the diaper bag trenches with you, throw him a bone. Talk about the weather or the price of diapers or how much you hate some of the things your kids love. He'll be grateful for the acknowledgment that you've got a lot in common.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Seasons and Hours

While I was out and about this week with Teddy, I noticed two things:

-At-home-parent outing season has returned
-Old-and-infirm hour at the grocery store

First, because all of the big kids are back in school, it appears to me that the at-home parents in my 'hood have come out of the woodwork. Summer, when the big kids are at home, doesn't seem like a good time to hit the library and the bakery and the playground with the little ones. It feels so much easier to go on an outing with just one child, even if it's the little, unpredictable, nap-time-bomb-ticking, equipment-intensive smaller child. Now, it may be that all the other parents were in all the at-home-parent outing spots all summer, and it's just that I've returned to the spots. But I think it's actually a community-wide shift. There's an urgency about getting out now because the bad weather's going to come. It's so great to go out without worrying about jackets, boots or finding gloves and hats.

Second, based on a trip to the grocery store at 2:30 today (Friday), I've concluded that the mid-afternoon is when the old and physically broken shop for groceries. I saw more canes in carts today than I ever have. Swing the big truck/racecar kid shopping cart around the end of an aisle at 2:30, and you are going to bowl over a crowd buying Depends and Metamucil. I've seen it on weekday mornings, too, but this afternoon felt twice as extreme as those mornings. Before I became a part-time at-home parent, the only time I could shop was in the evenings after work. Totally different crowd: very few older people, not that many parents with kids, a few people each time who looked like they'd come straight from work to shop before a late dinner. There's a different pace at night, too. People who shop later in the evening are moving fast and trying to get home. In the afternoon, they're trying to kill time until the early bird specials start.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sunday Haiku: Sunburn

A bald men should not
get caught outside in summer
without a hat. Ouch.