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Sunday Recipe Club: Whole Wheat Oatmeal Bread; love & marriage & divorce

March 12th, 2017

Steve and I are getting divorced, did I happen to mention that? It sucks. Yeah. That’s all I got about that. I feel bad for the kids, I feel bad for us, too, but we’ll all be happier, eventually, so… So, so, so.

It still sucks. I don’t have to like it. (And please spare me the, Your marriage was so perfect! Soulmates! And “oh, nooooooo,” etc. Thanks. It wasn’t that great, apparently, our love. It wasn’t strong enough.)

Locked myself out of my blog, but here I am, back in. The breadmaker broke. Everything breaks at once (“when it rains/it pours”) — the fence, the breadmaker, our marriage, our family unit, the thermostat outside that tells us inside how cold/hot it is, the carpets are trashed, the puppy ate the entire irrigation system in the backyard, which didn’t work all that well, anyway, truth be told, and on and on.

(And I’m wondering, why did I ever nickname my husband, MEH, My Estranged Husband, aka Hockey God? He’s not God, or a God. He’s not God. He’s just a dude. Anyway.)

I thought I’d use Steve’s recipe for homemade bread, couldn’t find it, then I remembered we wrote this cookbook and there it was. Only it’s too hard, I hadn’t remembered that until I saw it again.

But right next to it… my bread recipe. That I don’t even remember at all. I don’t remember baking it, writing it down, including it in the cookbook, nothing. But there it was, here it is, it’s simple and rises fast and the 2 loaves I baked turned out awesome.

So my kid, who only loves only homemade bread, and always has, is happy. I’m happy about that, and other stuff. Spring. Our crazy puppy. My other kid is happy, too. One kid is out walking the dog right now, the other is playing video games. Later, we’ll go for dinner with friends.

Things will settle down someday. In the meantime, I write, and bake bread.

Some things don’t change.

xo wm

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Bread

Dissolve 2 tablespoons yeast in 2 cups warm water; leave for five minutes
Stir in 1/2 cup sugar or honey
Add one cup oats
Add 3/4 cup vegetable oil
Mix in 2 eggs
Add 2 cups white flour & 3 cups whole wheat flour, stirring in as you go. Depending on the weather, you might need a little more or a little less flour
Add in 2 teaspoons salt as you stir

Turn onto floured bread board. Knead nine or ten times.

Put into greased bowl, cover with towel, put it somewhere that’s not too cold, not too hot, not too drafty, and let rise until double in size.

Grease pans or cooking sheets, form dough into 2 loaves of bread or 24 rolls.
Leave again and let rise until doubled.
Bake at 375 degrees until nice and brown and yummy. Brush with butter when done.

Bon appetit, babies!
wm

All-New Sunday Book Review — Grown-up Books: “Seventeenth Century Poetry: The Schools of Donne and Jonson”; “Phenomenal,” by Leigh Ann Henion; and “When Parents Part: How Mothers & Fathers Can Help Their Children Deal with Separation & Divorce,” by Penelope Leach

December 11th, 2016

through the fog

“Through the Fog”
Photo by Steve Rawley

* Seventeenth Century Poetry: The Schools of Donne and Jonson, edited by Hugh Kenner. This book will always, always, forever have a place on my bookshelf. One of my favorite classes at Portland State University, when I attended, with the late, brilliant John “Jack” Cooper.

* “Phenomenal: A Hesitant Adventurer’s Search for Wonder in the Natural World,” by Leigh Ann Henion (Penguin Press, 2015, $26.95, 276 pages). Henion got a lot of grief for this book because of course she did, she’s a woman. Moms aren’t allowed to freak out, go on vision quests, leave their wee babies (children, teens, adult children) alone for a week or more at a time. Screw that, eh? Just sayin’.

It’s a cool book, well-written, funny, rich with detail, images and stories. As someone who doesn’t travel a lot, I always do appreciate the chance to be an armchair traveler. Henion was moved by visiting the site where monarch butterflies gather, in Central Mexico. Later, she had a son, then had, as many of us do, a challenging time. I loved this section, in particular:

“One night, when Matt finds me wailing in unison with our son, he tells me I should take a break because my emotions aren’t good for Archer. Only then do I understand I’ve entered a phase of my life when people seldom consider what might be good for me. Even I somehow don’t feel it’s acceptable for me to think about my own needs — physical or otherwise.

“Not long after Matt chastises me for crying, I tell him it’s time for Archer to go to his own room. I want him to feel safe and secure, but I have given so much of myself I feel hollow. An actual shell of my former being. And if I have no enthusiasm, no wonder, no want for life inside of me, how am I going to nourish my child?”

Worth asking, isn’t it?

She checks out the bioluminescence in Puerto Rico, the Great Migration in Tanzania, a total solar eclipse in Australia, the Northern Lights in Sweden, and a bunch of other cool events and places. I got a big smile from this book.

“When Parents Part: How Mothers & Fathers Can Help Their Children Deal with Separation & Divorce,” by Penelope Leach (Vintage Books, 2016, $16.00, 272 pages). Did you know that fifty percent of marriages actually don’t end in divorce? People are staying married. About two-thirds of us, currently. Hmmm. You like apples? How you like them apples? So I have a better idea. Stay married. Tough it out. Forgive each other. Love on each other. Show your kids how grown-ups navigate through fire, and come out the other side, stronger and better.

OK, unless there’s violence or sexual abuse or any of that crap going on. Then dump their ass.

That’s all for now!

xo and happy, happy holidays.

wm

On My Nightstand, Wednesday Edition: Kids’ Books Galore… “Pretty Minnie in Hollywood,” “Douglas, You Need Glasses!” & “Three Magic Balloons”

June 1st, 2016

2016-05-30_04-34-44

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

Books for summer, people… Here they are, all for the 3-7 set, and all sweetness and light:

“Pretty Minnie in Hollywood,” by Danielle Steel (the Danielle Steel), with illustrations by Kristi Valiant, for ages 3-7. (Random House Children’s Books, 2016, 32 pages, $17.99.) (A brief digression: Ms. Steel’s bio informs us that she has sold more than 600 million copies of her books, in 69 countries and 43 languages.) (Whoa.) This sequel to “Pretty Minnie in Paris” is pretty, pretty cute. I could have done with fewer! exclamation points! but I don’t think the kids will mind. Teacup chihuahua Minnie and her best friend, Francoise, travel to Hollywood with Francoise’s mommy, who is a dress designer. (Pretty clothes figure prominently in the book.) They meet the nasty, nasty Fifi. How will this end? Sweet, funny, reminiscent of the Eloise books, and the illustrations? They just couldn’t be more pink and sparkly. Darling book.

“Douglas, You Need Glasses!” written and illustrated by Ged Adamson, for ages 3-7. Random House Children’s Books, 2016, 40 pages, $16.99.) Doggie Douglas and his BFF Nancy love to watch TV. But he has to sit so close. Also? He sometimes confuses leaves with squirrels. And he walks into things a lot. So off to the optometrist they go. Funny story, cool illustrations, and a good way to talk with the littles about glasses. The publisher is doing a social media tie-in with this one: Use the hashtags #douglasyouneedglasses and #RandomHouseKids and submit pix of your kids wearing glasses. Ged Adamson also wrote “Meet the McKaws” and “Elsie Clarke and the Vampire Hairdresser.”

“Three Magic Balloons, as told to Julianna Margulies and Her Sisters,” by Paul Margulies, for ages 3-7. (Random House Children’s Books, 2016, 40 pages, $17.99.) Illustrations are by Grant Shaffer, who, by the by, is married to my boyfriend Alan Cumming. (Yes, I read every last word of the press release.) OK, this is a cool project. Ms. Margulies, who recently broke my heart when her show “The Good Wife” ended after a seven-year run (yours truly watched every damn episode omg i loved that show)… Anyway, my heartbreaker has a cool story to share with us. Her dad, Paul, was a writer (and an ad exec) who published two kids’ books in his lifetime: “Gold Steps, Stone Steps,” and “What Julianna Could See.” Ms. Margulies and her sisters, Rachel and Alexandra, found this manuscript after he passed, wanted a friend (Mr. Shaffer) to illustrate, and voila!

This is a magical little book about three sisters who love their trips to the zoo with their dad. One day, they’re gifted with three balloons. What happens next? Get a copy of the book and see :) I love the story, I love that the author doesn’t talk down to kids, and the illustrations fit in so well, I thought at first the author was also the artist who drew them.

Nice work.

Best, bon appetit, babies, and talk more soon.

– wm

hi, honey!

April 14th, 2016

The whites of her eyes

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

happy spring

April 6th, 2016

2016-04-02_05-15-09

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

Friday Recipe Club: Black Beans & Polenta

March 25th, 2016

The day afer

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

Denver, when it’s snowing. Crazy, cuz it’s almost April, dudes.

This one is from my friend Kimi, because the girl knows how to cook!

Black Beans & Polenta, a la Kimi

“Cheap, healthy, fast and easy. Always organic.”

Black beans, fresh squeezed orange, chopped jalapeno and onion over polenta, topped with avocado, vegan sour cream and Secret Aardvark habanero sauce (made in Portland, Oregon!). Mixed greens on side with balsamic vinegar & garlic dressing.”

oh, yum.

Thursday Book Review: A Big Stack of Everything on My Nightstand (“The Accursed,” Joyce Carol Oates; Sue Miller; “The Importance of Being Little,” Teacher Thai)

March 24th, 2016

Cherry blossom concordance

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

And what’s on the nightstand this week? I’m going with bullet points, because it’s a big stack.

* “The Accursed,” Joyce Carol Oates. I love Oates, which I guess explains why it’s taken me a couple of years or so to get through this book (I bought it when it was first released in 2013). It’s a cool book — based on the “true” story of Princeton, turn of the 20th century. I like historical fiction, and this one has it all — curses and vampires, goth and Grover Cleveland. It’s crazy good. So why the forever-read? Oates is like candy to me — I nibble a little here, a lot there. I don’t want the candy to go away, see? The way my reading mind works is God’s own mystery.

* Anything by author Sue Miller. I’m starting with “The Arsonist,” and “The Good Mother” and “Lost in the Forest.” My own good mother recommended her. Miller’s very good. Different. I like her style.

* “The Importance of Being Little: What Preschoolers Really Need From Grownups,” by Erika Christakis. Great read about preschool child development, language, bonding, etc. Doesn’t read like a textbook, but has loads of information, stats, facts and thoughts.

* “The Four Agreements,” by Don Miguel Ruiz. Again, still, always. This is single best motivational books I’ve ever read, and I’ve read a lot over the years. It’s astounding. You should pick up four or five copies and hand them out at parties, just sayin’.

* “Cultivating the Mind of Love: The Practice of Looking Deeply in the Mahayana Buddhist Tradition,” by Thich Nhat Hanh (I can recommend any other titles by Teacher Thai, too.)

Happy spring, my lovelies.

– wm

Tuesday Book Review with my old buddy, Harry Potter (“The Character Vault,” Jim Kay illustrated version of “The Sorceror’s Stone” & the HP coloring book)

March 22nd, 2016

Blue sky between squalls

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

“Harry Potter: The Character Vault,” Jody Revenson’s astounding encyclopedia (Harper Design, 2015, $45, 207 pages), was a holiday gift to my children from their loving grandmother. Then I had to steal it from them because oh, it is so fantastic, this book. You know when a book isn’t just a good read, but it looks neat-o (that’s what the cool kids say nowadays, “neat-o”), it feels good, it makes you happy? That is this book. Loads of info about the characters, the movies, the props, weapons, special effects. Lots of great art and illustrations, plus two posters in the back of the Order of the Phoenix members and the Death Eaters. Super! So maybe I should buy my own copy and give theirs back now?

“Harry Potter Coloring Book” (Hot Topic, $10, need I say more?) I bought one for the kids; one for me. Then I donated mine to my library because the students loved it so much. There you have it.

“Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone Illustrated” (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2015, illustrated by the incomparable Jim Kay, $40, 246 pages). Lovely, this book, everything about it. Quite a find. It’s like the man looked into my mind and knew what I was imagining, then drew it. Thanks, sir. Nice work!

Have a great day, reading lovers.

– wm

Sunday Recipe Club: Lemon Ricotta Poppyseed Pancakes

March 20th, 2016

azalea

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

Bon appetit, babies!

– wm

Lemon Ricotta Poppyseed Pancakes

This is a great one, borrowed from Martha Stewart. Perfect for spring brunch.

Ingredients

3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
Pinch of coarse salt
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese, plus more for serving
3/4 cup milk
3 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
Unsalted butter, softened, for cooking
Honey Syrup, for serving

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In a large bowl, mix together ricotta, milk,
egg yolks, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the cheese mixture and mix until batter is just combined. Stir in
lemon zest and poppy seeds.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites until stiff. Gently fold egg whites
into batter.
3. Heat a griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium­high heat; brush surface with butter. Working in batches, ladle
1/3 cup batter for each pancake on griddle, leaving space as they will spread. Cook until golden and top begins to
bubble, 3 to 4 minutes. Gently turn and continue cooking until bottoms are light brown, 3 to 4 minutes more. Serve
immediately with ricotta and honey syrup.

Saturday Book Review: “Summerlost,” by Ally Condie

March 19th, 2016

shelter in the understory

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

Ally Condie (“Atlantia” and the “Matched” trilogy) is a new author to me and I’m thrilled to have found her. I was sent a review copy of “Summerlost,” and what luck it was sent my way. Beautiful book, characters, setting, writing. All good. Our heroine, 12-year-old Cedar Lee, is spending the summer in Utah with her mom and younger brother, Miles, a year after her father and brother, Ben, were killed by a drunk driver in a car accident. It’s her mom’s hometown, she has extended family there, but is still so alone. Then she meets a friend… gets a summer job… and discovers a mystery that she’d really like to solve. And off she goes.

It’s an intense story, but “Summerlost” is a fantastic book. I hope readers aren’t scared off by its serious subject. Kids go through dramas and loss, large and small, just like the rest of us, and I appreciate Condie’s fearlessness as a writer. In a blurb on the cover, Brandon Mull (“Fablehaven,” “The Candy Shop War” books) called it, “A moving tale of friendship and loss. I loved these characters — I wish we could have been friends when I was a kid.”

Beautiful. I felt the same way. I don’t want to quote the whole book to you, but I could. Passage after passage that are just so concise, lovely, hard.

“When I was small I used to pretend that I had to tell my body everything it had to do or it would stop. Lungs, breathe, I whispered. Heart, beat. Eyes, focus. Tummy, digest. Legs, walk. Arms, move. I was so glad then that everything did what it was supposed to do without any conscious help from me. But after the accident I wished that my heart wouldn’t keep hurting so much. Wouldn’t keep going like this without my telling it to. Beat. Beat. Beat.”

The ending, and how we get there, is a good, healing trip.

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