Food


Given January’s blush remains pink enough to paint cheeks (and because I am still unable to comfortably wear all of my pants) I trust I am not the only one who wanders the path of resolutions. I remain uncertain the exact moment that my wisdom divorced my restraint in December that began my three week binge.

And I do mean binge.

I fell so hard off the No-gluten wagon that I sprawled on the floor in a messy paste of Cheeto grease and cutout cookie sprinkles. My self-control was so badly fractured that I am still in dietary halo traction. My portion-control button was also concussed in the incident. I also don’t know why I thought that I would be the one person on the earth spared this holiday season from the consequence of the over indulgence.

Same reason I knew I would be the mother to cure sibling rivalry, another job Eve botched, I guess.

The story I told myself seemed plausible enough and suspended my disbelief at the time like the fairy tales of my childhood when I still believed in magic spells and potent witch rage. The gossamer of fiction spun its own web as I advanced from bagels to pasta. (Do you have any idea what a plate of lasagna tastes like after two years off gluten? Better than sex, ice-cream and getting a hull of popcorn out of a back molar. Perfect, saucy, decadent ectasy.)

I wasn’t worried, mind you. The spell of the story bound me to the promises of Far Far Away, the land where a mother of four children can eat without regard self-control, portion or boundaries.

“You work out regularly,” I prided to myself.

“You’ve worked out regularly for years,” I amended after cheesecake was introduced into the rotation.

“Muscle has memory,” I reassured myself as Christmas abdicated to the New Year’s nachos with extra cheese and sour cream. Lots of sour cream.

“Gonna get back to it Monday,” I vowed as 2012 ushered in its new hope and possibilities.

Monday came and went. The kids didn’t have to go back to school until Tuesday, and The Husband had an unexpected, extra day off.

“We can’t bite the hand of the vacation fairy!” we chortled, our mouths already full of Layes Potato Chips and Deans Dip.

Tuesday morning came in a flourish. I dashed from room to room getting the family machine revved without any notice of the extra dribble in my middle. It wasn’t until I went to get dressed in pants with a real waist band instead of my virtuous workout shorts, that I realized my zipper was in pain. It quivered and moaned like an Olympic weight-lifter going for gold. I actually heard it cry out.

I believe it whispered the F-word.

Actually, I must  confess it cried out the F-word in pain.

“Gravy, woman!” It seemed to moan, what have you been eating?

On the other side of January, I’m here to tell you, zippers in pain don’t lie.

As such, been eating a lot of salad since that day.

Salads with the occasional handful of M&Ms. I’m not a sadist!

Thought you might want to take a peek at what happens when my girls help chop:

You say I took the name in vain
I don’t even know the name
But if I did, well really, what’s it to you?
There’s a blaze of light in every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah!

User Error ate my first attempt at this post. Here’s another go:

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I picked up my niece from school today, a treat as rare as a holiday as we live more than 1000 miles apart.

The encounter grafted the familiar, sitting in a car in a Mommy pick-up circle, with the novel, picking up L Girl, and conjured the idea of fruit hybrids sometimes seen at Sam’s Club. The Grapple, for example, a mix of grape and apple never conceived in The Garden, was unanimously vetoed by even the most experimental of produce consumers in our family, The Husband. This is a man who will buy anything in the produce section that is unfamiliar for the cullinary literacy of our children. He practices this rite as faithfully as he extends love to them every weekend with some handmade carbohydrate that demands maple syrup.

All this food nostalgia prompted a whimsy seed, and by the time L Girl got into the car, I had confections on the brain. I asked my niece if she wanted to surprise her cousins with an unexpected after-school treat and its was game on.

When I asked her what might sound good, she said, “Dairy Queen,” in a tone of hushed adoration that teenage girls generally exclusively reserve to describe teenage boys.

We ordered Blizzards, “(c)reamy smooth DQ soft serve blended with your favourite candy, cookies, or fruit add up to one irresistible taste sensation,” and headed home.

Eager voices heralded our return with synchronized cries of, “Dairy Queen!” as if it were the generational ring tone for yum.

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We arrived to find 11 eager faces and held only 5 Blizzards. Of course we shared, pouring out cup after cup the precious exlihar into Chinet Kirkland Signature Red Cups. Like the loaves and fishes, those Blizzards multiplied to satisfy grandparents, aunts, cousins and babies.

Oreo-mustached children giggled and swapped bites on spoons, a-forever-on-her-feet-granmother sat down with a cup, and our family simply sat together and chatted. The moment was as sweet and unexpected as the treat.

Love was spoken audibly enough to taste.

I learned that Oreos are magical, soft serve ice-cream transcends generations, and sometimes, Our Daily Bread is served by Dairy Queen.

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And it’s not a cry that you hear at night
It’s not somebody who’s seen in the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
!

wine label with Rooster

Rex-Goliath

OK, I confess: At first this bottle of wine caught my eye because it rocked a rooster on the label. I admit it, Freud be damned, I gots me a thing for roosters.  As such, imagine my delight when the label boasted Rex-Goliath, a “Free Range” Cabernet Sauvignon. Strut is now secondary to the good health of my family and savvy consumerism.

Plus, it earned “30 Gold Medals.”

HRM Rex-Goliath Winery spoofs a mascot that capitalizes on modern grocer lingo, but imagine how the U.S. Department of Agriculture might categorize a wine as free range:

The U.S.D.A. defines the term “free-range Cabernet Sauvignon,” as a red wine that is allowed to ferment outside a restrictive cask. USDA regulations do not specify the condition or size of the outside cask, nor the amount of time the spirits should have access to the outside. There are, however, general guidelines on free-range fermented wine that allow it to be considered as such. If they do not meet the guidelines they cannot be considered free range.

Pasture Raised

Free-range Cab Savs are fermented in pond-pastures, but are kept within a buoyant-fenced, infusion system. Pasture-raised wines are able to swim and float freely, so there is no need for debeakering. Debeakering is typically used to avoid excessive consumptions during the holidays when family that does not genuinely jell together drinks together.

Grass Fed

Free-range Cabernet Sauvignon is also grass fed, meaning that its grapes participate in a system wherein green plant food, as well as small bugs and other small living things, co-exist in the fermentation process adding to the level of oxygenation in the spirits. Grass feeding also makes the wine more robust and is thought to result in a better flavor.

Humanely Raised

Free-range wine grapes are raised humanely, and never tread upon by unkind or unwashed feet, causing less stress on the vintage, and an overall healthier bouquet.

Well baby I’ve been here before
I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew ya
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah!

Hypocrisy is a funny thing.  I am as big a hypocrite as anybody else, but I had fooled myself into the proud notion that at least I know when I am being a hypocrite.

Ha!

Not so much.

The family has had a tough reentry into our routine since our Thanksgiving road trip, and The husband was out of town on business again last week. The combination of these factors and the holiday chores seeded in me an unanticipated regression.

That is also where the unbidden hypocrisy comes in.

Our oldest is twelve, so we’ve had at least 10 Halloweens where we’ve watched the kids dump out and choose candies over the years. Time after time, year after year, The Husband and I have marveled that their consensus preference is lollipops. Four kids consistently choose lollipops over such bon-bons as Snickers, M&Ms, 100 Grand bars and Milky Ways. In our day, lollipops were the leftover candy. Houses that gave the lollipops were the rip-off stops, doors behind which children must not dwell or dentists lived. The good houses, the generous people,  gave chocolate treats, and preferably more than one. How we could have raised four kids whose go-to candy is lollies always confused me.

Until now.

What began as an innocent strategy to sooth a sore throat, and give the kids a treat on I-95, has turned into a 2-3 lollipop a day habit.  I thought at first it was simply stress, or because I had given up gluten, but The Mamma’s got a Tootsie Pop on her back, and it carries a big stick.

All of a sudden I am like an orally fixated ex-smoker who has to have something in her mouth so that she doesn’t fall off the wagon. It is ridiculous how much I am liking these things, a Pavlovian dog who begins to salivate the moment I unwrap the pop. I appreciate the weight of the candy on the stick as I lift it to my mouth. I sigh as I taste the first sweet tang of cherry on my tongue.  I like sour apple, grape and watermelon too , but cherry is my favorite. It’s even gotten to the point that I  won’t share the red ones with the kids anymore.

What’s wrong with me?

I’ve begun to identify the phases of lollipop consumption like a connoisseur of fine wine.  One of the best stages in the eating of a lollipop process is when it has molded to the shape of your pallets and just kind of hangs there in your mouth like a delicious retainer. That’s the hands-free-yummy-time when you can email or do laundry without ever taking it out of your mouth. Tootsie Pops pack a sweet chocolate kiss in their center better than a prize ring from a box of Cracker Jacks.

Lollipops please even after they are gone.  The stick offers chewing pleasures beyond any flavored toothpick in the country.  First there is the candy coated tip that is more fun to chew than the most delectable of San Francisco buffalo wings.  Once each crunchy, tasty remnant is gone, the dry tip of the stick still remains.  There is something indefinably satisfying about nibbling that to a pulpy mess.

A good lollipop can offer 40 minutes of genuine oral pleasure for 60 calories.

My kids were right all along!

Lollipops are the best!

And The Mamma is one big hypocrite with a stick hanging out of her mouth!

I’ll stand before the Lord of Song,
with nothing on my
(cherry red) tongue but Hallelujah!


I took The Oldest Girl on a date today.

Unlike The Boy, I had made arrangements in advance with The Oldest Girl to take her out to dinner and encouraged her to use her gift card from her Mamma G for a new outfit to wear at her first school dance.  To her credit, she was effusive, and even greeted me at the door with a handmade, thank-you card book before we ever left the driveway.

Dinner was pleasant.  Nothing lubricates conversation among the girls in our family like beans and sour cream.  Thank you Chipotle!  Conversation was easy and blessedly without an agenda.  The Oldest girl shocks me with her ability to embrace the moment and create a memorable event from the simplest of things.  It was fun.

Tight tummied, we made the drive to the mall.  In constant gestures of sincere affection, The Oldest Girl maintained physical contact with me at all times.  She held my hand, or tucked her arm around my waist, or pressed her head onto my shoulder.  She delighted in everything that sparkled and was the shiniest pretty in the store.

Her only moment of disappointment was when we found what she considered to be, “The most perfect outfit ever,” too soon and clearly wanted to linger.  I suggested we head over the Claire’s to find a necklace to go with her new look.  She giggled as her enthusiasm made precious faux pearls and the most gauche of rhinestones.

As we headed out through the food court exit, I asked her if she might have enough time to enjoy an ice cream.  We read every flavor on both sides of the counters before she made her selection.  We chatted as she labored over her cup, finally conceding that perhaps she better take the rest home to her sisters and brother.  “They will be so surprised,” she predicted.

Once again, The Oldest Girl pulled me close as we made our way to the parking lot.  She told me, “When I was a little girl, I used to dream about going out to buy an outfit for my first dance!  This was all I ever imagined it could be and more!  It was better than perfect!”

Sometimes math is really simple.  I had one, really thrilled girl who was happy with the outcome of a date with her mamma.  She enjoyed the food, the perks and an unexpected surprise ending.  Her joy was sincere and contagious and equaled the unequivocal success of maternal effort.

The Oldest Girl never left my side, and it was one of the best dates of my entire life.

I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah!

I took The Boy on a date today.

The Husband and I decided we wanted to interject more whimsy into our family routine.  Our calendar has many blocked and iterative events dictated by outside organizations like school hours, assigned homework, sports practices, lessons, games and tournaments, music lessons and performances, as well as church and community events.  Though we are in almost constant motion, we realized there’s sometimes more march than joy in our steps.

Our parental plan was a simple one.  When they were least expectant, we would bombard them with the unexpected.

As such, this morning, I enjoyed an iBed breakfast while The Husband took a sleepy-eyed crew to Spudnuts.  For the uninitiated, Spudnut donuts are made with potato flour.  A moist, sweet delight, they blissfully surrender a happy, glazed melt down the eager throat of each blitzed-out consumer.  Spudnut donuts are more than donuts, they are holy confections with a sense of history in our small town.  The Husband took happy kids to school who were thrilled to further anticipate an early dismissal at noon.

Unbeknownst to The Boy, I had made arrangements for all the other children to be playdate engaged so that I could surprise him with a lunch invitation.  To his credit, he was more than amiable, even before he learned Five Guys and a trip to Barnes & Noble were on the itinerary.

Lunch was pleasant.  Nothing lubricates adolescent conversation like hot grease and ketchup.  Conversation was easy and blessedly without an agenda.  The Boys shocks me these days as he has so experienced such dramatic physical changes in the past couple of months.   Even his face has taken on the angles of a man’s chisel, complete with <gasp> a discernable mustache.  However, as he greedily slurped his root beer, I could almost see the little boy I remembered hiding just behind his red straw.  It was fun.

Tight tummied, we made the short drive to Barnes & Noble.  In a gesture I mistook for chivalry, The Boy preceeded me to the door excitedly telling me, “Look!” as he opened the door for us.  He opened the door and stepped in so quickly that the door literally closed in my face.  What I mistook as excitement over a book display or café novely was actually his joy to find one of his best buds in the store.  As it happened, his buddy was there alone waiting for his mother, and really appreciated the company.

Again, to The Boy’s credit, he apologized to me before he ditched me cold for his friend.  He said, “I know we are on a date, and I didn’t think it would end this way, but, well, we can finish our date later and…. I gotta go!”

I assured The Boy that I understood and went to the café to sketch a couple of ideas I had from the night before.  When it was time for me to go, The Boy’s friend was still solo, so I allowed my son to stay so that his friend would have a buddy.  The Boy used his Barnes & Noble gift card to buy his friend a drink (that he had promised to treat me with) at the café.  I don’t know he could have looked more pleased with himself if he had used a Visa to buy concert tickets.

When I returned for him, his friend’s mom was there to pick up her son.  A spontaneous overnight invitation was extended to The Boy, “We’d love to have him,” the mom agreed,  grateful that her son had company while he waited for her return.

Once again, The Boy pulled me aside to apologize our date had been interrupted, but he really, really wanted to go.

Sometimes math is really simple.  I had one really thrilled boy who was happy with the outcome of a date with his mamma.  He enjoyed the food, the perks and an unexpected surprise ending.  His joy was sincere and contagious and equaled a successful maternal mission.

I got stood up in the middle, but it was one of the best dates of my entire life.

I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah!

Today the kids and I prepared for a quick beach weekend.

Grocery Boxes

Bagels
S’Mores Poptarts
Utz Cheese Balls
Oreos
Paper towels
Bleach wipes
Vitamins
Sunscreen

Cooler

Gogurt
Cheese sticks
Peanut butter and jelly
Gator-aide
Propel
Diet Coke
S.Pelligrino
Sam Adams

We’re leaving no carb behind and not doing the dishes.

We all packed 4 pair of underwear, two swimming suits and a pair of flip flops.

The camera’s in my purse and the iPods are charged for the road.

We’re going to dance on the sand, hold hands and sing!

We’ll stand before the Lord of Song with nothing on our tongues but Hallelujah and cheeto dust!