Friday, August 22, 2014

Tomato Allergies Suck

Are you a tomato-hater? Are you allergic to tomatoes? I have a pasta sauce for you!

Personally, I adore tomatoes. Vor, alas, is allergic. Tomatoes are in EVERYTHING. I've come up with viable work arounds for lots of things over the years except for two things: barbecue sauce and red, marinara-like pasta sauce. I'm still working on the BBQ sauce, but I have mastered the pasta sauce.

Here you go:

2 tall cans of roasted red peppers
3 golden beets
3 carrots
1 package bacon or other meat
3 garlic cloves
onions, to taste
spices you like (I used rosemary and basil from my garden, as well as dried oregano, pepper, thyme)
cream or half and half
red wine
beef stock

Drain peppers; peel veggies. Sautee bacon, garlic, and onions together (start the bacon first, then add the others). When bacon is done but not crispy, add put in the peppers, carrots, and beets. Add a combination of wine and beef stock to come just short of covering the veggies. I added probably about half beef brother, half wine. Add the dry spices; save any fresh herbs for later (you can also add salt, but I felt like the beef broth was salty enough). Simmer until veggies are soft. Blend very well in a blender or food processor, then return to the pot. Add any fresh herbs, and a splash of cream to get it to the right color. Simmer until it reaches the consistency you want.

I actually stopped when the veggies were soft, let it cool off in the fridge overnight, then blended for dinner the next day. That also worked really well, since the flavors had time to blend.

Another variation: I once sauteed half the bacon, and saved the other half for when I added the vegetables. that was delicious--the bacon cooked with the veggies, and I had some crispy bacon pieces, and some not.

There you go. Red pasta sauce that actually tastes like marinara sauce, but does not make my husband break out in hives.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Seattle: The Vacation That Wasn't


If you can’t handle some venting, imagine tears brimming in my eyes, and just skip down to the disclaimer, and read to the end from there.

Also: This post is likely to be heavily redacted within 48 hours. 

Also known as A Vacation In Four Parts: (1) [REDACTED]; (2) Most Of My MIL’s Friends Are Absolute Dingbats; (3) Weddings Never Count As Vacations; and (4) I Am Never Moving To The Pacific Northwest.

That should pretty much sum up my vacation, but in case you weren’t sure, let me just offer you this mental image: toddler puke, down my shirt, into my bra, in my hair, in MY EAR.

Part 1: [REDACTED] Lis stuff ed her face with watermelon and resulted in some of the most disgusting toddler puke I have ever been witness to. Watermelon puke. Ew.

[REDACTED]

Part 2: Most Of My MIL’s Friends Are Absolute Dingbats. D is a chain smoker who orders his wife to get him plates of food, and when his wife obeys, he gives Vor a smug look and actually says, “There. See? Learn anything from that?” Vor, wonderful man that he is, responds, “Yeah. That you don’t like sex.” (I LOVE HIM SO MUCH). L is a whiner who revels in being the helpless female. She wants so very much for Lis to love her, that as soon as she sees Lis, she gets in Lis’s face and starts demanding hugs and kisses. Lis responds typically by hitting her or running away, and then L is all weepy and injured. I couldn’t care less. J argues over every.single.dime he spends and whines about the cost of everything. If I had thrown a dollar into Puget Sound off the ferry, he would have jumped overboard to get it. C is an okay guy, but he lets the door slam in my MIL’s face, which bugs the crap out of me. Hold the door for her, dude! You’re dating her! Plus, he has zero experience with kids (not the problem), so when Lis got whinny, as toddlers do, he would mimic her crying and whining (THAT’S the problem). B? She’s really nice and chill. I like her.

Part 3: Weddings Never Count As Vacations. Especially when you or your immediate family members are in the wedding party. In this case, Lis was the flower girl, and Vor was the…man of honor? Best man? Dunno how to say that. His twin sister was the bride, and she was his woman of honor or best woman or whatever, and now, vice versa. So, Vir had lots of set up and duties and parties and obligations and Things To Do, and I…was on toddler patrol. All the time. So I was either chasing Lis in decidedly non-toddler friendly places or I was stuck at home while she slept. We (I) did ONE half day sight-seeing thing of the entire 8 days we were there. Every other time, Vor was busy and I was on Lis duty.

Part 4: I Am Never Moving To The Pacific Northwest. Look, I like rain and clouds. I am a definite sun avoider. But geez, it can be really miserable out there. It’s not just cloudy and rainy, it’s positively dreary. This actually was not a problem for me, but Vor’s moods are definitely affected by sunshine, and he was a grouch. He even admitted he was being grouchy, and then plaintively said, “I just want some sunshine.” Me too, buddy.

I cannot handle the level of hippiness out there. At one house where we had local family, she was getting some trees trimmed, and her neighbors started telling her that she was killing the threes and they could hear the trees screaming. They freaking took pictures to document it. Apparently, you have to have a permit to even trim your freaking trees out there (which she did), but her neighbors decided to report her anyway, for tree cruelty. She barely had them trimmed!  Another dude was pissed that there were signs pointing the way to the rehearsal dinner from the place we had to park to the house. He was walking around, ripping them off. He was grumbling about wasted paper and killing trees and the environment. There were like two signs. That’s it. Vor and I try to be conscious about things, but this just felt like a whole new level.

I can’t stand the “parenting” I encountered either. I took Lis one rainy day to the kids’ museum on Bainbridge Island, and I have never encountered such incredibly rude and manner-less children, and the same type of parents. I take Lis all the time to the zoo and to playgrounds and to the Children’s Museum here, so it’s not like I’m a newbie and didn’t know what to expect. These parents just stood around, talking, drinking their hippie coffee, while their kids (older kids, mind you, old enough to know better) cut other kids off, skipped ahead in line, shoved Lis down repeatedly, snatched toys out of her hands, etc. It wasn’t just at the museum, either. They were all like this, every parent and child I encountered on the island, at playgrounds, at parks, at the museum. I got incredibly pissed at the museum when a 5 or 6 year old shoved Lis off a stool so that she could cut ahead of Lis and take her turn, and I turned to her parent and said, “You should watch your kid so she doesn’t shove mine off the stool AGAIN.” The parent got a snooty look on her face and said, “I believe in free range parenting, not helicopter parenting.” I almost cut a bitch. It’s not helicopter parenting when I’m trying to prevent a mass of the most unruly children I’ve ever met from injuring my much younger, much smaller child, bitch.

So! Weather, over hippied people, terrible entitled children who are being “free-range” parented. No, thank you.

DISCLAIMER: I love my family. I am especially indebted to my MIL, who is the most awesome grandma Lis could have, and a second mother to me. The wedding was beautiful, and was one of the best days there. I had a great anniversary dinner with Vor (six years!) and we danced to our song at the wedding, which was the same day as our own anniversary. The puke only lasted for 24 hours. I’m sure there are plenty of nice people and children on Bainbridge Island (CP, I’m looking at you!) and in Seattle. I know the PNW is rainy and it’s really beautiful when it’s not rainy.

It’s just the combination of all this that made for a non-relaxing, pretty close to awful vacation, and I am so glad to be in office today that I cried with relief. I needed a break, and I didn’t get one. I am so burned out right now. I know Vor needed a break, but he ended up being so stressed that it was exponentially multiplying my own stress.

As a bonus bright side, Vor and I agreed that the next vacation will be a real vacation: We will go someplace with amazing weather and tons of sun; we will stay in a place with our own space; we will keep Lis with us and not allow other people to interrupt her schedule; if we want time on our own, we will hire a local sitter; we will have no major to-do list or vacation agenda. It’s just that this dream vacation won’t be happening for a long time.