Sunday, April 19, 2015


Germane is the bane of my existence lately, but I will say that getting my work edited is definitely making me a better government writer.  I'm not known for my brevity.  I'm an over-explainer to the max (she says, stating the obvious, in a blog that's been running for almost 8 years, brimming with posts that are decidedly NOT on the short side).  

What follows is the kind of kitchen-sink blog post that is filled with the non-germane.  Jermaine Jackson did NOT sign off on this.  Nor did Jermaine Dupri.  I need another Jermaine to fulfill the rules of 3, but I'm coming up empty.

1) I don't care about Lip Sync Battles.  I find them funny for about .001 second and then I'm over it.  I don't get it.  It's a made-up thing.

2) Shad (the person, not the fish) is another made-up thing.  Like, when the internet and quasi-hipsters (for lack of a better word) on my social media started freaking because he (?) was named the new host of Q, I was like, "...da f**k?"  Shad the fish is legit.  I can get behind that.  Shad the person?  Total made-up thing.

3) When we were in Geneseo, before the Mouse Always Wins Disney Tour 2015 started, the Dotytron was party to a hilarious convo between the Big Yam and Little Little Cuz.

Big Yam: "Baba, how many people have died since people existed?"
Dotytron: "Ummm, I don't know.  A lot.  Like, more than a billion."
Little Little Cuz: "And a police officer at my mom's work.  He died."
Dotytron: "That's sad."
Little Little Cuz: "I was like, whatever." 

LOL!!!  Little Little Cuz is FOUR by the way, and apparently already shows a callous disregard for human life.  

4) This was my Easter:

That smattering of snow (seems so long ago now, after the recent run of two - TWO! - warm, sun-filled spring-like days in a row) really put a damper on the street Easter egg hunt, which usually heralds the beginning of "Norman Rockwell Season" on Lil' Ugmo Avenue.  The Easter egg hunt marks the turning point when the denizens of Lil' Ugmo Avenue emerge from winter hibernation with kids that have suddenly grown a foot taller over the winter.  It's when we start to spend the bulk of our pre-and-post-dinner time outside, chatting while our kids roam between houses like a roving pack of semi-feral beasts.  It's the best.

5)  The other day the Big Yam turned to me and asked, "When I grow up, are you going to marry me and Baba?" We've hit a rather sweet age - 4 is wonderful.  The tumult inside their little bodies seems to quiet a little, and their language acquisition seems to keep pace with the rush of thoughts inside their brains.  We get a lot of unprompted "I love yous" and out of nowhere, I'll turn around and find him planting a soft kiss on my arm.  It's very sweet.  We had to explain to him that the love you feel for your parents (and that we feel for him) is different from the kind of love you feel for the person you marry.  He seemed concerned about wanting to stay a part of our family, so we pitched it as finding someone you want to start a new branch of the family with.

I was kicking around this working thesis that the love you have for your children is beast of a different stripe than the love you have for your partner.  "OBVI" I can hear you muttering.  I had this whole riff on how you don't bring any baggage to the love you have for your kids, and then I realized that was a load of hooey.  Does anyone ever travel without baggage?  I don't think so.  Highly unlikely.  It's different baggage, but the love I have for my kids is coloured by my own upbringing, the way I relate to my parents, my siblings, my sense of self as it was forged in fiery pits of Mordor, I mean, Markham.  

Last weekend we threw a birthday party for Momma D.  The Dotytron and EhmDo put in so much work making the party a success for their mum.  There was a Coronation Street-themed cake and a photo album that had everyone welling up, and they performed a number of Momma D personal favorites.  

Big Yellow Taxi


They changed the words to the Beatles' song "You Never Give Me Your Money" to "You Always Give Me Your Money"  - it was a huge hit!

As I sat with Lindsay on my lap, listening to the joy and love elicited by these talented, beautiful people in my life, I had a minor epiphany.  Maybe epiphany is too strong a word.  I was filled with gratitude and inwardly chided myself for taking the musical gifts of my outlaw family for granted sometimes.  I've been known to vocally discourage a career in the arts for my children.  Is it so wrong that I would like some kind of silicon valley venture capitalist?  Fine, maybe not a venture capitalist, but more like a Warren Buffet Berkshire-type.  Someone who will treat their parents right, ya know? Actually, if I really want a career for my kids that will result in them venerating their ma', then I should wish that they become like, Asian-Canadian Drakes or Kanye-types.   I realized as I listened, and as my kids (mainly Lindsay and the Big Yam) have requested Big Yellow Taxi every night a billion times, that I don't want to rob them of this particular form of aesthetic creation/appreciation.    They are so lucky to be steeped in this love for musical expression.  I only hope they can do that and do stupid abstract Singaporean math problems.

I had another thought, as I watched Momma D beaming with pride for her kids' prodigious talent.  I'm always vaguely discomfited by seeing parents demonstrably proud of their children.  It's just not something Chinese people do.  The concept of beaming with pride over your children is pretty foreign to me.  The Chinese way is to talk about your children's accomplishments "Ai ya!  Melody only got into Stanford-ah!  But not Harvard!  It's terrible-ah!  I told her to work harder!" where you're bragging but only in so far as their academic/professional achievements reflect on the parent.  Being proud of your kid's talents in the arts?  Not a thing.  Like, maybe if they're playing Carnegie Hall, but anything less just doesn't compute.  

I'd like to strike some kind of middle ground and break out of my cultural conditioning.  The babies are signed up for a toddler & caregiver art class that our caregiver brings them to.  I'm not proud of them for the work that they do, per se...more I find it hilarious and kind of "Awwwwww" when I see all their "art" and when our caregiver sends us photos of them in their class.  Less overflowing with pride than "what little cute weird butts."  

What we've eaten, lately:

Spicy grain soup and Smitten Kitchen's gruyere and caramelized onion biscuits.  The biscuits were pretty tasty, but not as tasty as the Red Lobster cheddar biscuits I made from the Red Lobster-sanctioned box mix.

A porchetta sandwich and a shrimp sandwich from a new sandwich shop in the 'hood.  I enjoyed these, but found the service incredibly slow, and they were good, but not great.  Unlike Porchetta & Co, where I've been dreaming about their buffalo fried chicken parmesan and porchetta sandwiches for weeks. 

Last time I was in the States, I bought a pack of scrapple, which we pan fried and ate with eggs.

The Texas sheet cake from Baked: Celebrations cook book.  I've had success with 3 of the 4 recipes I've tried.  This is a moist chocolate cake topped with a salted-peanut topped peanut butter and icing sugar frosting.  Deadly tasty.  

Braised veal breast with gremolata and my new favorite side, kung pao brussel sprouts (recipe below).  

Leftover bacon, kale, and squash risotto turned into arancini.  Anything fried topped with aioli = magic.

Freezer chili and cornbread.


A pear and almond tart.  This was delicious.  From Dorie Greenspan's book.  A very simple recipe of sauteed pears baked in a sweet, short crust, topped with a crispy almond-meringue.  I didn't take down the recipe, but it's pretty easy.  I think the topping was just a few egg whites, mixed with confectioner's sugar (I think about 1/2 cup?) and a cup of sliced almonds.

Freezer meatloaf with freezer broccoli cheddar rice casserole.  I love me a broccoli cheddar rice casserole.  I wish I had two more in the freezer.

Bouillabaisse with rouille

Spaghetti and meatballs

Tourtiere with tomato jam and braised red cabbage and appales

The Red Lobster biscuits.  Basically grated cheddar dumped into some kind of biscuit mix, and then brushed with butter mixed with garlic-salt.  So good.

I made my family a porchetta for Easter dinner.  I bought it from my go-to Italian butcher, who gave the Dotytron my pre-ordered meat with the not-so-encouraging, "I've never done this before!" (Really?  A porchetta?  From an Italian butcher that's been in business for 60 years?)  It turned out AMAZING.  So easy!  You just let it go.  I ate leftovers for weeks and weeks.

Trying very hard to resume a more regular posting schedule.  I have so many thoughts and all the feels (as per usual).


Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts
Not adapted at all, really from Bon Appetit
Allegedly serves 6 as a side, but we eat a LOT of brussels sprouts

2 lbs brussels sprouts , stems trimmed and halved 
4 T olive oil
1 T. cornstarch
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. peeled ginger, minced
2 T. sambal oelek
1/2 c. soy sauce
1 1/2 T. sugar
2 t. unseasoned rice vinegar
1/2 c. chopped salted peanuts or cashews

    - toss the brussels sprouts in 3 T. of the oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast in a 425F oven until dark and crispy and soft
    - meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 T. of oil in a small pan.  Add the minced ginger and garlic to the cold oil and slowly heat.  When the ginger and garlic are fragrant and starting to brown just a bit, add the soy, the sugar, the sambal, the rice vinegar, and 1/2 c. of cold water.  Stir and taste for seasoning (I reduced the sugar from the original recipe, so you might want to add more).
    - Take the 1 T. of cornstarch and stir with a 1-2 T. of water to make a thin slurry.  Stir this slurry into your soy mixture and heat to boiling.  When the sauce is thickened, pour over your roasted brussels sprouts and top with the chopped nuts.

    *Note: I find this recipe made twice as much sauce as I needed, so I tend to reduce all ingredients by half, but obviously this is a moving target based on your amount of brussels sprouts.

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