If Joan Crawford Cooked…Red and Golden Beet Feta Salad

beets

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While not quite wire coat hangers bad, I pretty much suck at everything else parenting…my kids watch way too much TV, my 5-year old still hasn’t slept through the night, English is my 2-year old’s second inferior language, by 13 months, they could both work an iPad like a pair of toddler hackers…but by the grace of God…miracle of miracles…I’ve managed to raise up 2 kids who actually eat vegetables.  Even better, actually request vegetables.   Amen.

This gorgeous Red and Golden Beet Feta Salad is one of my 5 year-old’s favorites.  A great summer or winter dish to slide into the lunch/dinner repertoire.  Beets last forevvvvvvver and feta runs a pretty long shelf life also, so they are two staples we almost always inevitably have around the kitchen.

Great tasting and good for your mind and body: Potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, iron; vitamins A, B & C; beta-carotene, beta-cyanine and folic acid are  some of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals that can be found in beets and beet greens.  Added bonus? They also help with the seasonal sads/parenting soul slumps:  beets contain betaine, the same substance that is used in certain treatments of depression.  It also contains tryptophan, which relaxes the mind and creates a sense of well-being.  Yummy, simple and good for you…unforced smiles all around.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 red beets and 1 golden beet (greens removed, wash thoroughly under cold water)
  • 1 cup of feta cheese, crumbled
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste

(Serves 6 as a side dish)

DIRECTIONS

Boil beets in a large pot until soft enough to stick a fork through (30-60 minutes, depending on size).  Let cool and then peel.  I like to wet my hands repeatedly over running cool water sink and just pull skin off easily with my fingers.  Chop beets into chunks and place in mixing bowl.  Add olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.  Mix thoroughly.  Add crumbled feta, plate and serve at room temperature or refrigerate and serve cold later.

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Preschool Proselytizer

So the above awesome gem came home in darling O-wee’s preschool folder this week.  The lesson was an introduction to our varied community helpers, as she and her classmates had a recent field trip to the local fire station and a nurse visit the classroom.  When asked to choose a favorite community helper, lil’ O bypassed her trusted doctor and waved off the heroic neighborhood firefighters and went straight for the big G himself.  Yep, G-O-D.  In her pragmatically wonderful 4 year old mind, while the others are undoubtedly important and purposeful, “He” obviously wholly trumps the ancillary community crew.   When asked why she chose God, she simply responded, “He protects us.”  And if her drawing is an authentic indication (see wide smiling stick figure above), he’s quite happy doing so. 

In choosing a preschool, the husband and I ultimately decided to go parochial.  Certainly not because either of us are devoutly religious.  Honestly, my husband is a confusing mess of interfaith influences and I was raised by interfaith atheists..kind of like intergalactics, but more grounded.  We liked that her school was close by, had a community feel to it and the tuition wasn’t going to jeopardize our future retirement.  It’s been a great decision so far. She’s made fast friends and adapted well to routine and structure outside of our home. And I’m totally joking about the preschooler proselytizing.  Mostly it’s just a constant and exhausting round of religious questioning from a delightfully precocious 4 year old girl.  I play the role of a sort of overseas call center operator that fields the weightier and more detailed questions to our resident local big G experts, her Dad and her patient babysitter who shares her new found God. I find her religious education–this budding baby spirituality and wondrous befriending of faith entirely fascinating.  So much of my perceived personal strength and weakness is tied up in my own religious doubt.  It both grounds me and yet also drowns me.  I absolutely admire believers and the comfort found in a mutual community of shared beliefs.  Who doesn’t want their child to feel confident that they belong to something bigger than themselves and to offer solace, sanctuary and peace as they wade through the uncertainties of life?  As her besotted mother, I offer and represent these important comforts, but I recognize that in raising her to be a conscientious, creative and independent individual, she’ll need to ultimately find those things in herself.  And while not a completely impossible endeavor as an agnostic or atheist, it seems like a strong sense of faith might offer her a leg up in the great height scaling towards personal and collective enlightenment. 

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Deck the Halls…In Depositions

 

Some lucky lovers have mistletoe, the husband and I apparently have a near-divorce tree.  This seemingly benign tower of fauna that makes its divisive appearance each December since we first got hitched.  I will add a disclaimer, this tale telling is entirely one-side.  Despot-sided and, of course, my version is the only accurate one.  The season generally starts off all storybook and hand holding.  “Ahhh, look!  The holiday windows are going up along 5th Avenue!”  “Wow! The Columbus Circle Bazaar has steamy apple cider and fresh baked gingerbread cookies!” ““Ohhh, Honey!  Let’s get our tree up early this year!” And so it begins: the countdown to hysteria, mayhem and…probable depositions.  T-minus family Christmas tree trimming Chernobyl.  The buds of discontent generally begin to reveal their angry little heads just as a tangled mess of holiday lights makes its way from dusty boxes lost–and then desperately found–between the chaotic back and forth of our Mini-Storage crypt and a forgotten nook in the disheveled, toy strewn apartment.  At this point, the blame game begins with it’s first of multiple and entertaining (if potential marital dissolution is your type of fodder) appearances.  “You told me it was in storage!”, he bellows.  “No, I told you it was in the utility closet!” she bellows…back.  Watch as the irate tennis ball goes to and fro for 15 fruitless and pointless minutes.   Just as who’s right and who’s wrong is never (ever) determined, the incorrect stringing of lights makes it’s way into the Colosseum that is our marriage.  Though the man just watched TWO YouTube videos on “The Correct Way to String Lights on A Christmas Tree,” he manages to start at the bottom–again–this year.  And, ding, ding: Round 2 begins. He whines. She whines, yada, yada, yada.  Battle of the Ornaments is up next in the lineup.  While I’m all for the attempted childproofing of a X-Mas tree, I beg the question: can an electrically wired, spiny bush covered in 1/2 of China’s gross export and teetering on a plastic stand really ever be entirely kid-proof?  He wants all the glass and ornate ornaments at the top of the tree…actually, to be specific, he wants them in the trash.  Fine. Agreed, top of the tree.  But, for added (annoying) measure, he–like an evangelist in Vegas–intently preaches the mortal dangers of glass spheres to me and our 4-year old daughter.  Inevitably, while trimming the tree, an upper ornament is accidentally knocked to the floor and shatters.  Poor irrationally programmed-to-fear-colorful-glass-circles, Little O.  She recoils in absolute horror as if the shiny ball itself was filled with a new and particularly virulent strain of Avian Flu (also made in China).  Therapy–or religious conversion–is now most definitely imminent.  This being Baby N’s first cognizant Christmas, dysfunction leaves no little stocking empty.  As it turns out, cranberry garland does not successfully double as a bridle on a plush toy horse.  And thud she goes.  Like the star at the top of the tree, an utterly crap evening wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory near head injury.  Merry Christmas!  Now, Babe, call your lawyer (-:

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Out of Africa

View From My 2 Square Millimeters of Mattress…

One of my favorite flicks is Out of Africa…Isak Dinesen’s melancholy reminiscing “I Once had a farm in Africa…”  Well, I once had a King size bed of my very OWN in Los Angeles…many, many, many lifetimes ago.  While my story doesn’t end with syphilis and the death of my soul mate…mine ends with kids, pet and a heaving, snoring animal of the spousal variety all in MY slumber space.  I  sleep on 2 square millimeters of mattress…literally.  Edged and elbowed to the farthest left crevice of the bed before a perilous drop into the abyss…or rather the cruel thud of hardwood floors.  I also cannot fully extend my legs.  I’m scrunched up into the fetal position…picture a pretzel in a sonogram scan.  The whole kicking, snoring, purring, whimpering miserable lot also steal my pillows.  They pull my hair.  They hurt me… and often.      And surprise! I don’t sleep all that much. I haven’t had a good night’s rest in over 4 years. I’ve  also incidentally developed an awkward eye twitch.   My brood and our dysfunctional snooze habits are an ugly lesson in the perils of co-sleeping and default attachment parenting (that being too lazy to pump, make bottles or get up and walk around at night) gone array.  I have a 17 month old, maniacal nurser–my T-shirt was obsessively tugged up 5 times last night.  My 4 year old permanently moved into our room last month…no, really, she successfully manipulated and lobbied two utterly exhausted parents into moving her toddler bed into the corner of our room.  “What the hell…”, we irrationally rationalized.  The baby’s empty crib is already in there, the cat called shotgun on the lower right of the bed, what’s another tiny mammal, right?  Around 1am–every night, animal and kids start the encroachment into the “big” bed.  By 2:30am, it’s a free for all and I always draw the short straw and thus the 2 millimeter space.  My despotic strong arm successfully powers almost every other area of the parenting juggernaut…but when it comes to sleep training, I have a miserably bad case of carpal tunnel.

Child and pet’s eye view. This spot will be filled to capacity by 2am.

This moved in…and stayed after 1 year. Also, check out the toddler bed in the corner. Yeah, that happened too.

The General usually gets 1st dibs.

 

 

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Mommy Despot

Okay, okay…Despot might be a bit of an exaggeration…Head-Bitch-in-Charge (HBIC) might be more apropos but I couldn’t do any clever logo play on my love of cooking and all things food with that moniker.  Admittedly, I run a tight ship…but I have to, I live and parent in New York City.   Nothing (well, ordering take-out and wine maybe–and that sometimes has its challenges too) is easy here.   I’m a SoCal transplant by way of Miami, I’m generally accustomed to cars with cavernous trunks as my mode of transport, free help from the village it takes to raise a child (aka family and old friends), eating al fresco in January and s–p–a–c–e, i.e., closet space, outdoor space and most of all, space from a toilet that isn’t riding shotgun to the far head of the dining room table.   You know, the little things suburbanites take for granted: the sun and Vitamin D deficiency, hiding–un-showered– in your temperature controlled, window-tinted car during school pickup, a dark place to simultaneously store your shorts and down coats…or lock yourself away from the kids in, and not hearing (or the very worst, smelling) someone flush while you’re scarfing a slice of cold pizza and chugging a glass of 2 day-old Malbec (aka dinner) at your makeshift dining/office/craft table.  But, the reality is we live here.  Cue the Sinatra and Jay Z  now.  This magical City of lights and wonder.  Where a 16-month old can successfully hail a cab–albeit safely strapped to your Ergo.  Where a wide-eyed, 4 year-old believes Central P is her own personal backyard-replete with horse drawn carriages, a castle, a carousel, majestic lakes and rolling meadows.  The Opera, the Ballet, the Shows, the Museums, the Food, the People–from absolutely every corner of the earth …the endless parade of entertaining humans, incredible sights, sounds and wondrous sensory overload.  Where choices and freedoms abound, yet can also limit us.  Where Mommies and Daddies work long hours to survive, prosper, make it or break it and therefore,  often reluctantly lay down their hearts to stranger caregivers to help watch over them.  Where parenting, even more so–maybe, is a tag team, but also often a solo effort.  We all do our best as guide and guard, navigator and restrainer, censor and facilitator, as mommy…and despot.

 

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