Thursday, October 30, 2008

Yannai and Kathy's Voter Guide

Yannai and Kathy gave me permission to post their reasoned and touching voter guide here. My thanks!

Dear Friends,

We're writing to see if we can be of some help to you and also to support some causes we believe in. As many of you know, Yannai is home-schooling, so the two of us have had some time to try to learn about the state propositions and figure out how we want to vote. It turns out that we are glad we took the time, because some of the propositions are quite confusing. We thought you might like to know what we came up with to help you choose. Our "voters' guide" is below, along with our commentary, mostly composed by Yannai.

There are two campaigns that we've been working on by leafletting in our local farmers' markets -- Yes on 2 and No on 8. We especially hope that, if you agree with us, you'll help spread the word about those. Also, the titles of Props 7 and 10 can be misleading, so please spread the word about those.

Lots of love and hope,

Yannai and Kathy

Prop 1A --Yes

Prop 1A would enable a high speed rail system between the major metropolitan areas in the state. A high speed rail system would mean less traffic on major freeways and less air pollution from cars and planes. This initiative is supported by the Sierra Club, the National Resources Defense Council, and other environmental organizations. We read the editorial in the Los Angeles Times, which considers opposing arguments, and recommends a Yes vote.

Prop 2 -- Yes Yes Yes

We have been in farmers' markets leafletting in favor of Prop 2. Right now, factory farms are cramming thousands of animals into tiny spaces where they can't even turn around and stretch. Prop 2 will ensure that farm animals' cages will be big enough for them to lie down and turn around. Also, we understand that if animals have more room, there will be less chance of disease spreading and meat from these farms might be healthier. The Humane Societies of America, the Sierra Club, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the United Farm Workers, Barbara Lee, Bill Niman of Niman Ranch, San Jose Mercury News, and many others support this one. As far as we have seen, the main opposition is from factory farmers. For more information, see

Prop 3 -- Yes

The problem we have in figuring out all of the propositions that have to do with bond-issues by the state is whether or not the plan would make good use of the money. We researched and we think that Prop 3 is an efficient way to use the state's money in rebuilding and repairing children's hospitals around the state. The Children's Defense Fund and many of the state's large newspapers support Prop 3.

Prop 4 -- No

This requires parental approval of abortions for women under age 18. We would love it if all young women considering abortions would talk with their parents -- and other supportive people -- about it. But if they choose not to consult with them we don't think there should be a law that requires it. Organizations urging "no on 4" include the California Nurses Association, California Association of School Counselors, California Teachers Association, and many others.

Prop 5 -- Yes

We think that giving drug users more access to rehabilitation makes more sense that putting them in jail. So the challenge with this prop was to figure out if the programs it would provide are well thought-out. For this one, we called our Congressperson, Barbara Lee, to ask, and she is supporting Yes on 5. Other supporters include a long list of progressive organizations. See

Prop 6 -- No

This proposition would draw money from education, transportation, environmental protection and health services and put it into policing and prisons. It also would put more teenagers 14 and up in the adult penal system rather than in the juvenile system. Loads of groups are against this one, including the ACLU and the New York Times.

Prop 7 -- No No No

This one is called the Renewable Energy Generation Initiative -- and so we would have thought we would be all for it! But it turns out that people who are active and knowledgeable about renewable energy think that this initiative will actually hurt the development of renewable energy. Many environmental organizations are against it, including the National Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club of California, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. It's also opposed by the California Democratic Party, California Republican Party, California Green Party, California Peace and Freedom Party.

Prop 8 -- No No No

(Kathy speaking here.) Hmmm.... Hard to know where to start on this one; it feels so personal. I'm finding myself trying not to get my hopes up, wanting to assure Yannai and myself that nothing will really change for us if this proposition passes. After all, same-sex marriages have been legal in California for only four months. But it does matter to me!! It touches so centrally on my basic human need for acceptance, I guess.

Inbal and I had a legal marriage ceremony this summer, on the 12th anniversary of our Jewish wedding. It was great; we invited a few friends to come to the county courthouse, put on our wedding dresses, and repeated what we had said to each other 12 years ago. We laughed when the clerk handed us a pamphlet entitled, "Your Future Together." The ceremony reflected the truth of the matter: we're two women living in the joy and complexity of building our lives and our family together. Our relationship blesses our lives. In most ways, the recognition of the state means very little, next to the simple truth of our married lives. But I've also noticed, in the last couple of months, that having the recognition of the state around our relationship does matter to me -- more than I thought it would. I felt it just the other day, filling out a form in the doctor's office, when it said, "Are you married?" and I wrote "yes," purely and simply. Inbal's been my "next of kin" for years. It feels good to be able to trust that that will be recognized in any formal circumstance where it might matter.

This proposition feels like a big deal. If same-sex marriages continue to be legal in California, that will likely have a huge impact on acceptance of same-sex couples all over the country (and maybe the world). It would be a sad step backwards to lose that. Please talk this one up to everyone you know -- make sure that they know that voting NO is the way to keep marriage legal for everybody. (There's been some confusion, with people thinking that a "yes" vote supports same-sex marriage.) Proponents of this measure have been showing ads that say that religious groups that don't want to do same-sex marriages will lose their tax-exempt status; this is not true. Vote no! For more information or to contribute to the campaign, see

Prop 9 -- No

Prop 9 is Prop 6's teammate. Once Prop 6 gets someone in jail, Prop 9 makes them stay there longer. Prop 9 would keep people in jail for longer instead of their having an opportunity via hearing to get out on parole. Also, it would make families not be able to visit family members in prison. Yuck! The same people who are against Prop 6 are against Prop 9, including, to mention some more, Congressperson Barbara Lee and the California Democratic Party.

Prop 10 -- No No No

Prop 10 is, like Prop 7, deceptive. From the title, California Alternative Fuels Initiative, we would think we'd be for it. Prop 10 would try to convert many vehicles to run on natural gas. While natural gas burns more cleanly, it still is not a renewable resource. Also, the main supporter of Prop 10 is one of the owners of a major natural gas company. Other experts say that it's a waste of money. People who oppose this initiative include the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Prop 11 -- No

Prop 11 would change the current not-so-fair system in California of drawing the legislative districts to another equally unfair one. Why should you change a bad system to another one? This prop was a little hard for us to decide, because on the surface, the system that is proposed -- to move authority for redistricting from the legislature to a commission -- makes sense. But we got convinced that the proposed system is not more fair. Opponents to Prop 11 include NAACP, California Teachers Association, California Democratic Party, California League of Conservation Voters.

Prop 12 -- Yes

This would provide a bond issue to give loans for homes and farms to veterans. We wish that there were not so many veterans of wars in this country! But we support the idea of helping them get their lives back together when they come back from war. The measure was unanimously approved by the state assembly and state senate. Supporters include the Los Angeles Times, whose editorial you can read here (this also covers Props 1A and 3):

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"I've come to love them, even the store bought ones, even more than blackberries."

Knowledge is power baggage.

The kids arrived home Monday tired and hungry. I got one in the bath, one in the shower, and went to start dinner.

The cleaner had put an open jar of honey in the sink. There was a thin layer of water on top.

I was really put out and not about to throw out more than a cup of our precious golden syrup. That is the nectar of 2 million flowers! I poured off the water, rinsed the top with fresh water, scooped off the top layer of honey, flung it in the compost.

The rest I poured on some boneless chicken thighs and breasts. I threw in a cup of Greek yogurt and two teaspoons of turmeric instead of the curry powder I didn't have.

And stuck it in to bake.

I started putting away groceries. The kids were clean, pajamaed and sitting by the fire. I popped open a clamshell of raspberries, got out three bowls and divvied them up.

Then I stopped. Clem doesn't like store bought raspberries. I looked down at the three bowls.

Well, I had three.

Might as well put them on the coffee table and see what happened. I plunked them down nonchalantly. Before I could even turn to go back to the kitchen Clem lunged and grabbed a bowl. I did not want to stare openmouthed, so I ran back to the kitchen and around to the family room and peeked out through the dining room. She was leaning over the bowl, cramming them in her mouth.

This is a kid who before our neighbor let us pick his raspberries this summer would not let a raspberry cross her lips. Who still refused store ones and made horrible faces when I asked her to just try one.

Moments later she came into the kitchen with her empty bowl looking for seconds. I opened the second clamshell and dished them out. As I put some in her bowl she said, "I've come to love them, even the store bought ones, even more than blackberries."

I was so glad that a brain glitch bumped me out of a rut.

I know Clem doesn't like them, so I don't offer. Stupid. It would be so much better to remain ignorant and innocently offer the hated thing every time.

Here I thought I had a new proverb, knowledge is baggage, but I've come round to an old one: Ignorance is bliss.

And about that honey chicken--I didn't tell anyone about the questionable honey and Mike proclaimed it, "The best chicken he had had in a long time."

Hmm. Is that a compliment?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Lemon Shallot Vinaigrette

Clem helped me out tonight by making the salad dressing. This is my favorite dressing.

Lemon Shallot Vinaigrette- Chez Panisse Vegetables

2 small shallots

2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Peel and dice the shallots very fine. Put them in a small bowl with the vinegar, lemon juice, and salt. Stir and let the mixture sit for 10 t o 30 minutes. Whisk in the olive oil.

After whisking I suggested she give it a taste. She picked up the pint measuring cup and lifted it to her lips to drink. I stopped her and offered a lettuce leaf to dip. She gave her dressing a thumbs up.

And ate a big pile of salad at dinner. I feel like I've slipped into an alternate reality.

Age of Discovery

My ninas were not bowled over by the Nina. Though Clem was bowled over by the surf shortly after this shot of her levitating. She scrambled up before I could capture her look of shock.

For some reason I want the kids to learn the word caravel. After all, it was the invention of the caravel that made Columbus' voyage possible. Maybe I just like the way it rolls of the tongue.

The boat itself is a bit too small to have fun on. The crowds of people made it easy to envision just how claustrophobic three months aboard at sea with 26 other men would be.

And they don't let you on the raised aft deck or down below.

But there was one detail that will stick with me. The livestock swung in slings down below. Cargo weighted down the ship. So the men slept on deck, waves washing over them at regular intervals. Lucky ones slept on a coil of rope that raised them above the deck. The very lucky got the high aft deck.

I took only my macro lens, so I was not able to get far enough away to get a shot of the whole boat.

But I could get a closeup of this little guy. An isopod?

The ninas did enjoy the beach.

Evelyn took hundreds of photos of birds.

Unfortunately the ones of a pelican turning his pouch inside out did not come out.

Homeschooling is so great because we get to share the kids' Ages of Discovery. We almost always find the Americas instead of the Indies we are looking for, but there's plenty of spice to go around.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Honey Haul

This is most of the honey.

Clem ran one jar over to our neighbor across the street who has an orchard behind his house. He lets the kids pick his raspberries and apples and tomatoes. He attributes his big crops this year to our bees.

And there is still honey draining out of the tops we took off with the hot knife.

And the kitchen is still sticky. The floor, the chairs, the counters, the walls. Honey is Super Sticky. But Hot Water, Honey's nemesis, will save the day...a little later.

After my second cappuccino.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Halloween is almost here.

If your kids don't have a costume yet I found a great way to get a free fireman hat.

All you have to do is get some beehives. Then make so much smoke when you are taking out your frames to harvest the honey that the neighbors call the fire department.

When the fire truck comes your child can try to explain about smoking the bees.

Fireman: Are you having a barbecue?
Child: We're smoking our bees.
Fireman: But are you having a barbecue?
Child: We have a smoker, we smoke the bees with it and it makes them calm.
Fireman: (After a pause) Are you having a barbecue?

You come out and help out with the explanation. Then if your firemen are as nice as ours they'll give out free hats.


But not as sweet as the honey.

The kids are over the moon. The whole house is sticky. When you harvest honey you can use some exciting tools. First, as previously mentioned, is the smoker. But then there is the hot knife. Who can resist a knife you plug in. It slices through the comb just exactly like a hot knife through wax.

Next is the extractor. Crank the handle and the honey spins out of the comb.

Finally there is the spigot on the extractor.

Evelyn said, "I really need something savory after all the sweet I've had today!" I made a zucchini, prosciutto and feta pizza. Ev refused to help: too busy with the honey.

I held my breath. And, after years of hating pizza, Ev liked it. Turns out she really doesn't like tomato sauce. If only I had known. The take out we could have savored.

Honey is sweet, but enlightenment is sweeter.

Oh, scratch that.

Honey is sweeter.

The Decision to Homeschool

I wrote this a year or two ago. People often ask how I made the decision to homeschool. But it wasn't a single event. I'm still making the decision. Tomorrow could be different. Although after I followed through with the threat described here I stopped making that particular one.

Homeschooling parents knows this: the decision to homeschool is not made once, but every day. Almost every homeschooling parent I know has threatened their child with sending them to school. "Emma, I just give up. If you can't do a page of math I'm just going to have to send you to school." It is usually an idle threat. The parents don't want to send their kids to school, they are just frustrated.

Well, I did it. My kids had never been in school and I put them in 3rd and 1st grade. In the local public school.

For 14 days.

I blogged about it here.

I began contemplating homeschooling when I was pregnant with my first child. I imagined what fun it would be to learn together. But our house was right near the neighborhood school, and another part of me would imagine strolling Ev to the kindergarten, volunteering in the classroom, admiring the walls covered in darling projects.

Ev read well by the time kindergarten rolled around and I still hadn't made a decision. So we ambled over to the neighborhood school to ask for enrollment materials. The frowny bureaucracy behind the counter soured my enthusiasm for the smell of paste. I asked the principal if we could sit in on a Kindergarten class. She said, "Absolutely not."

So we went to check out the Science Magnet School across town. There went my vision of skipping to school hand in hand. We'd have to drive.

The class began with an Open Court reading lesson. Ninety minutes of scripted phonics instruction. "Tuggy the tug boat says Uh! Uh! The letter u says uh!" By the end Ev was tearing at her hair. She had big hunks of it in her hands and was yanking her own head around shouting "The alphabet! The alphabet! When are we going to be done with the alphabet!"

So I decided she was done with the alphabet. We homeschooled K, 1st grade and 2nd grade.

But somewhere along the way I lost my nerve. Maybe it was baby #3. I started to think that maybe our long days of play were not serving the kids. Sure we got studying done in fits and starts, a day of Mesopotamia here and a game of Yahtzee there. But we hadn't done formal math in months.

I was hoping Ev's resistance to it would wane and we could go at it with joy later. But maybe just doing worksheets at school would be better than nothing. So I followed through on the threat and signed them up.

It was new, and a little scary, but the overwhelming feeling they reported was boredom. There was no real learning in the first week, it was all learning the rules. Clem said her teacher was mean. Ev kept saying they hadn't learned anything. Then she came out one day saying she'd had a fantastic day! I was so thrilled. But we had to wait to get around the corner for her to tell me about it. She unrolled her shirt to reveal a bird skeleton.

"I can't believe I got this all the way from recess to home! I was sure if someone discovered it they would say it was dirty and make me throw it away."

So she was trying to homeschool at school, learning on the sly. And she was internalizing some of the schooly ruly stuff. One day she told me, "I like one of the girls at my table when we are outside, but inside," voice lowered and with disdain, "inside she has poor feet and chair habits."

And they were ahead in everything, even though we hadn't been doing anything but listening to Story of the World on CD in the car, or Multiplication Motivation, going to the library, reading books, going to the store. No workbooks, no curriculum and they were fine.

Clem knew more about teaching phonics than her teacher. One night in the bath she told me, "My teacher thinks the letter `s' says `suh'. She puts an `uh' after all the sounds. I said `ssss' and she said, `No, suh'."

So I pulled them out.

School is not for us.

Not today, anyway.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Spice of Life

Columbus headed West in search of spices, so cooking and exploration seem to be well paired. Like the Etna Rosso and pesce crudo we had at Dopo yesterday.

A tidbit from my new cookbook. In 1584 Captain Arthur Barlow enjoyed tea with Native Americans on Roanoke Island. He said, "their drinke is commonly water...but it is sodden with Ginger in it, and blacke Sinamon, and sometimes Sassaphras, and divers other wholesome, and medicinable hearbes and trees."

It goes on to list several tea ingredients in common use: mints, pine, spruce, hemlock and juniper needles, the leaves of wild berries.

We've got some ailing raspberry stalks, so we used a few leaves, and thyme and mint and the neighbor's rosemary. Clementine sweetened hers anachronistically with that sweet stuff made by the stinging fly.

Wheresoe'er they move, before them
Swarms the stinging fly, the Ahmo,
Swarms the bee, the honey-maker;
Wheresoe'r they tread, beneath them
Springs a flower unknown among us,
Springs the White-man's Foot in blossom.

Speaking of honey, Mike's renting an extractor today. Saturday we'll be extracting honey from our frames. Sunday we plan to go to Santa Cruz to see the replica of Columbus's Nina.

And speaking of recreations and Roanoke Island, a couple years ago we met with friends once/week for 6 weeks to reenact the colonization of Roanoke Island. We captured turtles, ate inedible things and temporarily blinded ourselves with foul water on the journey. We tried to make something edible out of unfamiliar ingredients, gave birth to Virginia Dare, and then, on the last day, we vanished mysteriously.

After that we put on hold our plan to reenact Scott's Journey to the South Pole.

We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker of course, and the end cannot be far. It seems a pity but I do not think I can write more.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

American History Cookbook

The Amazon Two-day 1-click button is a dangerous thing. Lately I have been coping with its seductive powers by checking if the library has the book. If it does I click Request instead of Two-day 1-click.

Well, the library did not have The American History Cookbook. But I will in 2 days. If only the cooking were also 1-click.

We're ostensibly doing American History. This means that I have made the kids watch two lectures on American History in the Teaching Company's American History for High School series. I am disappointed. There are no maps or photos that accompany the lecture. We did find out that natives ate the explorer
Giovanni da Verrazzano while his brother watched. Exciting. And each lecture is just 1/2 hour. We can use it as a springboard for further investigation.

Like cooking period foods.

However, we won't be cooking
Giovanni da Verrazzano.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Surf and Turf

Clem's crayfish, Lobster, is eating my Whole Foods New York steak. Yes, I let it go bad.

Which leads me to wonder what Lobster would taste like with a bit of butter. He's a new kind of Surf & Turf. Turf-fed Surf.

Frittering Away the Day

Ok, I made good on the zucchini. And I decided not to pull a Jessica Seinfeld and do chocolate zucchini cookies. We pulled an Alice Waters and made zucchini fritters.

I had to alter the recipe because I didn't have 1 Tbsp. potato starch. I threw in 3 grated yukon gold potatoes on the theory that there's gotta be a tablespoon of potato starch in 3 potatoes. And I substituted green onions for the chives.

Clementine called for adding carrots. Why not? We threw in 3 of those as well. Grating with a food processor has high kid appeal.

I fried them up. They were tasty. Subtle, with just a bit of garlic, lemon zest and salt and pepper for seasoning. If I did it again I'd do more onion and let it carmelize.

Clem and Ev ate one or two each--I am not sure. Their friends varied in their opinions. Two had a tiny taste and one ate four.

Greta wasn't sure at first.

But ended up eating two.

The kitchen was abuzz all day. There were concoctions of shaved ice and loaves of whole wheat bread. And I wonder why I thought this would be really hard. My kids love to cook.

And they love to eat stuff they find in the woods, even only vaguely edible stuff. It shouldn't be that much of a stretch to get them to eat food. They are huge sour grass fans. It was a little funny to read that ethnographers have recorded children's love of sour grass.

The kids collected bay nuts. Whereas many of us like a bay leaf or two in soup, the nuts are one of those not-quite-foods local native Americans had to put up with like Hawaiians put up with taro root.

The kids leached them to remove the tannic acid. And then roasted them over an open fire. They were still horribly bitter.

The tannic water went, along with oleander leaves and buckeyes, into a concoction which might actually be dangerous or even fatal to drink. California native americans used poisonous buckeye nuts to stupefy fish in streams for easy catching. And oleander, well, yikes.

It boggles my mind that Clementine will chow down on manzanita and madrone berries, but won't eat the crisp and honey sweet golden delicious apples off our neighbor's tree. Which reminds me that it we still have a long way to go.

All Bow to the Queen

I just realized that I said I would do something with the contents of the planet organics box today. Today being yesterday. I did do something with the contents. I ate an apple. I also found a recipe for Chocolate Zucchini Cookies. But when Greta started sobbing, "Zucchini cookies! Zucchini cookies! I don't want zucchini cookies!" and snot was running down her face and she looked so miserable I gave up on the idea of baking.

Weirdly enough she spent the next half hour making clay zucchini cookies and offering them to me to eat.

I also found a recipe for zucchini fritters in Chez Panisse Vegetables.

Last night was one of those sick toddler nights. Greta started off in her room but made it to our room pretty soon, with the handful of glow-in-in-the-dark bracelets she'd gone to bed with. Mike had to move the humidifier to our room and go sleep in the other room. Greta tossed and turned and kicked like mad. I kept stashing the impossibly bright bracelets under my pillow, but they kept escaping. Near morning I had 6 inches on the edge of the bed and Greta was turned perpendicular to me. She planted both feet firmly on my back and announced, I think in her sleep, with solemn dignity, "I am the queen!" And really, who could dispute that?

Later I asked Greta if she was awake when she said that. She said, "I was having a dream that I was the queen and daddy was the king and I gave birth to Cinderella."

Monday, October 20, 2008

Trial Mix

What is wrong with me? I resolve to cook zucchini with the kids and instead I invite them to concoct their own trail mix out of nuts (two kinds!), marshmallows and chocolate chips (two kinds!). I don't even put out raisins because they don't like them.

I am hoping it will make Mike's hike with them more pleasant. They are a little tired and cranky and a bit of shamelessly sugar-filled trail mix makes the climbs go down easy.

The netting over our pumpkins has utterly failed to deter deer, but it did entangle a little female goldfinch sparrow(?). Evelyn and Clementine freed her.

I am posting the photo of the planet organics box and vowing to do something with its contents today. Is zucchini bread a cop out?

Sunday, October 19, 2008


See Greta's egg cup? Clementine made it from air-hardening clay and gave it to Greta to paint. It does make the kids even happier to have egg and soldiers, but soft-boiled eggs with toast were already a hit in the family.

I realized all of a sudden that I am intentionally refraining from challenging their palates. I don't want to fail. Even though the steak and green beans were a huge success I am not going for it.

So I took a photo of my planet organics box and vowed to have the kids cook everything in it. So far we've juiced the oranges together and Clementine peeled herself a carrot. But the zucchini are in the fridge bin getting less fresh by the day.

There were some small victories. Greta likes bread and peanut butter, but not peanut butter sandwiches. I let her spread the peanut butter on the bread, and, voila! it was an acceptable combination.

A couple days ago I had a dinner of baked chicken, acorn squash with brown sugar and pecans, and spicy cole slaw planned. The kids all eat chicken. Ev and Clem like the acorn squash. So that leaves the cole slaw. I call Clem into the kitchen. I bought bags of already shredded red and green cabbage at TJs. So I have Clem chop cilantro, juice limes, sprinkle cayenne pepper, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. I chop the red onion. Almost holding my breath I say, "now we've got to taste it for seasoning. See if it needs more lime juice or salt and pepper."

Clem says, "I love eating what I make. I mean...that is the whole point of cooking. To eat what you make. Right?" She takes a big pinch and eats it.

"More salt and lime," she says. She salts and limes.

She didn't eat it when it was served, but who cares?

What am I waiting for? The zucchini is calling.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Sprinkling

Of snow?!

It is an Indian Summer day, in the high 70s. We stroll in the muffled quiet of the Redwoods to Redwood Bowl and find it...covered in snow.

The ground, the trees, the picnic table. Why, there are even children sledding and having snowball fights! By what magic could this happen? The magic of Hollywood, of course.We were there when the director shouted, "Rolling!" and clapped his hands together as if they were one of those black and white stripey boards. Kids piled out of the Honda minivan like it was a clown car. The director shouted directions like: "You're having fun!"
The snow was very fine paper mache sprinkled (ok, blown out of a hose) onto the ground and trees.

At home the sprinkling continued.

Clementine made a gratin to go with our steak dinner. She doesn't need help with the assembly. She sprinkles cheese and herbs, pours on the cream or stock, layers the potatoes.

I forgot that when they cook with you not only do they eat the final product, but they eat the raw ingredients. Clem ate cheese and raw potatoes.Greta sprinkled salt and pepper on the steaks. She also snapped beans for a while. Snap one. Eat one. Snap one. Eat one. Clem finished the snapping with her grandma.

Greta ate the steak, all the little cubes I put on her plate. This is the first time she has been willing to try steak.

All the kids devoured the beans by the handful. Literally. And fought over them.

I barked at Clem about using her hands before I properly considered two things: 1) the kids were that enthusiastic about green beans and 2) I hadn't put a serving spoon in the bowl.

After dinner I returned to not challenging their palates. We made sugar cookies. I substituted whole wheat flour for 3/4 cup of white flour (token nod to whole grains) and threw in some, you guessed it, cinnamon. The kids sprinkled them with orange and purple and black sugar for Halloween. Happiness in a shake bottle.

Move over, Hollywood. Magic sprinkles are everywhere.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Crab Cakes

We celebrated my sister's birthday yesterday. Mom and Dad came down from Tahoe where it was 18 degrees and snowed 2 inches overnight. Mom made crab cakes. I dragged Clem away from drawing and made her wash her hands and rinse them. She tried to leave a slimy coating of soap on them.

Over her strenuous protests I compelled her to join my mom at the stove. Mom showed her how to form the crab mixture into a ball, roll it in breadcrumbs, and put it in the pan. "I won't eat them!" she kept yelling. She did a lousy job on purpose, but then couldn't resist doing another, better, one. She made teeny tiny little appetizer sized crab cakes. One big mouthful each.

And she ate one.

Score one!

The photo is an appetizer Mike and I ordered to share in a restaurant in Houston in February. I ate one crab cake, carefully, making sure to leave half the sauce and salsa. And then I was apparently overcome by their exquisite flavor because I ate the other one.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Pen and Ink

Evelyn and Clementine dissected squid yesterday. Evelyn surprised me by saying she did not want to do it. She is prone to getting queasy. And she felt sorry for the squid. She loves fried calamari, but this was different. I said that they would probably feed the squid to some of the animals in the bio lab.

When I did Bio 1A our dissected corpses went to the Lindsey Wildlife Museum. The owls have to eat anyway, might as well have students dissect the rats first. I didn't tell the kids about the centerpiece of the dissection: a pregnant female with her V-shaped uterus with little rat fetuses lined up inside like sausage links.

I got queasy sometimes, so I put my head down for a few minutes and then went on. The attraction outweighed the repulsion.

For Evelyn, too. She ended up annoyed that the other two girls in her group wanted to dissect, too. Clementine said, "I was so lucky, the two girls in my group said Ewww! Gross! and wouldn't touch it."

The two highlights were the ink sac, and the "pen" (at right). It is made of chitin, like sea shells, and is all that remains of the squid's ancestors' shell.

They loved writing their names in squid ink.