Archive for the 'Crockpot experimentation' Category

Beefaroni and Tofu

January 10, 2011

Andrew Hicks

In the last entry, “The Editor” mentioned how much I love our new toaster/egg-poacher, which is a true nugget of heavenly countertop-appliance goodness. I’ve also become rather fond of the slow cooker, though my expertise and versatility limits me mainly to pork and beef roasts thus far.

On the stove and in the oven, I make chicken dishes, chili (mostly without grease), a mean tofu fried rice, even a cream of mushroom soup tonight with bacon and fresh sauteed green beans. And, though I didn’t think of it until just now, I haven’t microwaved a can of Beefaroni for myself in a couple months. Progress? Perhaps, but Beefaroni is more of a springtime dish, anyway. When the days get longer, the weather gets warm and the trees come to life with fresh green leaves, it’s time for some hot Beefaroni*.

Sarah’s pleasure is the duplex sandwich cookie, and today I introduced her to a striped chocolate shortbread cookie from the Keebler Fudge Shoppe. I didn’t pick them out, my wife did, but I opened and closed the Fudge Shoppe like four times yesterday. I opened the shoppe** for Sarah a couple times, too.

Sarah’s kind of a Beefaroni and Tofu eater herself — she eats fries and cookies, but she also enthusiastically eats salad, grapes, strawberries, apples, crackers, cottage cheese and sliced American cheese. I’m working on getting her to eat meat, but she’s still kind of traumatized from seeing the movie Food, Inc.

Silas, meanwhile, is fast becoming a champion eater of the cereal/baby food/formula swirl. Which is the daily special every day — room temperature swirl in a ramekin served on a colored plastic baby spoon. Will the swirl include the Stage 1 pureed peas or Stage 1 sweet potato today? Well, that’s where we keep the excitement of variety alive for the little guy. He never knows which bland vegetable flavor he’ll get each day until the colored plastic baby spoon gets jammed into his mouth.

And they say the Mr. Mom routine is borrrrrring…

*Any time I write about Beefaroni, all I ever hear back are negative things. Beefaroni gets a bad rap in America, and I blame the 1996 classic “Seinfeld” episode “The Rye” for that. You remember the episode. Kramer is charging for romantic horse and buggy rides, and he feeds the horse a Costco-size can of Beefarino. Stench and hilarity ensue for the passengers, and the ride comes to an early, abrupt end.

**Tiffany wants to joke that “shoppe” should be pronounced “shoppee,” like “Sharpie” in a foreign accent or something. I figured “shoppe” was probably of French origin and used by Keebler to seem more elite and justified in charging 4 bucks a bag or whatever. A little online research just now, though, revealed that “shoppe” is not French; it’s a made-up American capitalist word.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Sarah swings on her first birthday.

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Foreign phenomenon

January 6, 2011

Andrew Hicks

My 4 a.m. wake-up was short-lived. I thought maybe it was the start of a revolutionary body clock adjustment. Get up at four, stay up all day with the kids, have a nutritious Crock Pot dinner that makes the whole house smell beautiful and domestic, and go to bed while the sun’s still up in the summer. This idealism lasted about four hours. I was drinking coffee, being productive, I got Sarah up early, and then the problems began.

I don’t know if it was from her waking up early or because she was sick and barely ate anything the past couple days, but Sarah was having episodes where everything merited a heaving-sob scream reaction. It wasn’t quite a Terrible Twos fit, but it certainly wasn’t normal behavior, and it got worse when Sarah realized she wouldn’t be having cookies for breakfast.

Generally speaking, I don’t do well with crying. More often than not, I stand my ground if Sarah’s throwing a fit, and we reach a mutually agreeable conclusion. When her mom cries, it’s a different story. Tiffany, when she’s crying, can get whatever she wants from me. Luckily, she doesn’t seem to take advantage of this fact. That I’m aware of.

Being around a crying woman is still a pretty foreign phenomenon to me. There wasn’t a lot of crying in my house as I grew up. Present-day Andrew doesn’t really cry, either*. I’m not counting all those half-drunk times when tears would well up during the satisfying emotional payoff of a movie. I think the part in Jerry Maguire where Cuba Gooding Jr regains consciousness and celebrates his touchdown is probably the most archetypal example.

A crying wife gets whatever she wants, and so does a wife who’s ready to put out. One of the reasons I didn’t have an initial problem getting up at 4 a.m. was because Tiffany got me to bed way early with the lure of married-people sex. It was like ten when she said, “Don’t you want to come to bed now?” And I was like, Nooooo, it’s only 10 o’clock. I have a blog to write. I don’t want to have to backdate it just so I’ll make my daily quota.

And then she said, “Are you suuuuuure you don’t want to come to bed now?” And that’s when I was like, Ohhhhhh, you want to $&#@ me. Okay, then, let me turn this computer off. Nah, forget it, I’ll leave it on. Don’t wanna miss the married-people sex window.

So this morning, I put Screamin’ Sarah back to bed, Silas fell back asleep, and I realized it was still only like 8:30. My brain was confused and barely functional, so I thought, Why not just relax with a little Season 4 “Weeds” on Netflix Instant? It was a great way to find myself falling back asleep until noon, which is something my brain and body have become very used to over the years.

Pugsley, 1994.

*The only time I can remember really having tears and sobs in recent memory was in June 2007, when I went with my mom to euthanize Pugsley, our family dog of fifteen years. I went along as stoic support, because my mom knew she was going to lose it. That dog was her baby and companion, but I really loved Pugsley too, and I lived with him for half my life. When the moment of truth arrived, I bawled like a child. We both did. I’d even broke down and sobbed the night before, when I was telling Tiffany — my girlfriend, not yet my wife — old Pugsley stories. That I felt so comfortable around and comforted by Tiffany while I was having this emotional episode only further cemented my thought that she was The One.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Silas sleeps on Christmas.

Birthday blog hiatus

November 20, 2010

Andrew Hicks

Would this be a good time to mention that my goal rate of blog posts is one per day? I want to have daily Mr. Mom diaper stories for you – I mean you specifically; yes, you, the person who’s reading these words right now. What time of day do you do your idle Internet reading? First thing in the morning, over a cup of coffee? During hours 3 through 7 of your state job? On your phone during rush-hour traffic? Or, like me, in the dead of night when everyone’s asleep? Whenever the time, my goal is to be there for you every day. Maybe not in the form of a fully-realized, 800-word comedic tour de force, but maybe with just a couple good paragraphs to tide you over on your way to go play Farmville until dawn.

So, yeah, I want to write good new stuff every day, and this is my first post in almost two weeks. I was without a computer for about a week while SpacebarGate2010 resolved itself in the form of a brand new laptop keyboard that was shipped in from California, I think via Pony Express. I had lofty plans to maintain productivity sans laptop. I was going to write blog posts on my phone, or I was going to hand-write them and type them up on the public library computers*. Neither of which happened.

Meanwhile, this blog slipped down my priority list in favor of the seemingly endless stream of multitasking that is taking care of very young children, keeping the house clean and finally testing out that Cubed Duck Steak With Pickled Rhubarb recipe for the Crock Pot. You’re really cheating yourself if you don’t let your duck steak and rhubarb simmer for at least half a waking day. And the atmospheric, grandma’s-house smell is better than potpourri.

It seems I’ve gently nudged Sarah’s body clock back since we returned home. During the ankle recovery exile at my in-laws’ house, Sarah was up at 8, down for her nap at 1, and in bed at 8, like clockwork. It’s still pretty clockwork-esque, but we’re living in some time zone a few hundred miles into the Atlantic Ocean. Sarah stays up until around 10 or 11, then she doesn’t get up until somewhere around 10 or 11 in the morning. Silas, meanwhile, doesn’t go to sleep for the night until somewhere between one and two. God help him, he has to watch the entire episode of “Last Call With Carson Daly.” Most 4 month olds go to bed after Jimmy Fallon. Silas is an incorrigible sleep maverick.

Sarah's untouched, unadorned birthday cake.

When she turned 2 this month, Sarah got to have three birthday celebrations she’ll never remember. The night of her birthday, we got a cake and a bunch of Hot-N-Ready Little Caesar’s Pizza**. She made a big old mess and was cute and loud. That weekend, we traveled down to Tiffany’s parents’ house, had pulled pork and opened presents. Sarah’s favorite gift is a trio of flat boards that contain rows of letter, number and animal shape blocks with little round plastic handles. In theory, the flat boards supposed to hold the blocks. In reality, this 2 year old prefers her blocks scattered throughout the upstairs of the house. More specifically, they’re scattered wherever my right foot is about to step when I’m holding Silas over my right shoulder and can’t see directly in front of me. Those little round plastic handles really hurt when you drop your weight on them. It’s been a bad autumn for me below the calf.

The third birthday observance was like a week and a half after Sarah’s birthday. Our next-door neighbor brought her four kids over, ranging in age from 3 to 8. We had more cake and, oh man, more Little Caesar’s Pizza. And Sarah was presented with a baby doll that the 8 year old kept reminding us had only cost her mom four bucks. It was fun to watch Sarah play with a group of bigger kids, and she took an immediate liking to the baby doll. In some cultures, 2 year olds take care of actual babies***, but Sarah’s chopped-and-screwed toddler attention span only allows her to be big-sisterly to the inanimate object for a minute or so. Inanimate Baby is outta luck with his toddler babysitter around these parts.

Okay, that’s it for now. See you tomorrow. Riiiiiiiiight…

*At various points in my modest life, the library computers have been my main means of accessing the Internet. It’s always an interesting scene at the library. Large, creepy middle-aged guy on my left is playing some game where he needs to find the Silver Sword of Samsifar so he can defeat the leather-winged griffin on the island of Kurr. Large, creepy middle-aged guy on my right is busy posting Facebook updates of how he’s doing in the eighth grade. I’m just there to pay my electric bill.

**Talk about a comeback. I grew four waist sizes to Little Caesar’s between seventh and tenth grades, then I thought they went out of business. Now you can walk into their restaurant and get a gooey, piping-hot, sweet-sauced pepperoni pizza immediately for five bucks. Maybe this was what finally snapped Snooki out of that anorexia. Well, that and the 1,500 empty alcohol calories she ingests before sundown. But I’m not here to bash orange-tinted MTV reality stars. I’m here to talk about freakin’ pizza. And my family. My loving family. Then pizza again. Then family, pizza, family, pizza, until the battery on my laptop runs out.

***Pulled that right out of my ass.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY