Smells Like Teen Armpits

Spring has arrived and so has our mulch, which Beloved has been enthusiastically spreading for the past several days. The first day he performed this yearly chore, the kids went outside to be dragged around by walk the dog and stopped dead in their tracks.

“It smells like ass out here,” Darling Daughter declared. We’d have asked her how she knows what ass smells like, but since she has her head stuck so far up her own it really wasn’t necessary. (You have to understand I love this kid to death, but if she doesn’t get her shit together soon I’m going to have to kill her.)

However, she isn’t that far off – the stuff is fragrant. And the simile has stuck; while running our errands this morning, we stopped by the discount store and picked up 10 more bags of what The Young One now refers to as “Ass Mulch.” Now none of us can stop calling it that – our grandchildren are probably going to refer to Spring as “Ass Mulch Season” and we’ll all end up explaining ourselves to a school psychologist some day.

Of course, the entire town smells like ass these days (since it is that time of year) and that made me think about those people who are of a green and/or money saving disposition and make their own compost and mulch. The “why” part of that is understandable, but I have a real problem with the “how??” Where do you put it while it’s getting all, well, ripe? I can’t see keeping it in the house or garage, so do you just, like, keep a big pile of slowly decomposing crap in the back yard? Wouldn’t that cause your neighbors to complain and lower your property values? How would you keep the dog from jumping in it and rolling around every time you let him out to do his part in the lawn fertilization process?

Do you fence it off and post large “Beware of Mulch” signs? Go all Martha Stewart and construct a camouflaging-yet-decorative container out of old, flowered-patterned sheets and wire coat hangers? I suppose you could pack it away neatly in some of those 30-gallon plastic leaf bags, but it seems to me that would hinder the decomposition and render the attempt to be “green” rather pointless. Not to mention that once it was bagged, your teenage son would probably take the whole kit-and-kaboodle to the curb on trash day for the first – and only – time in his life without being asked.

You see, these are the kinds of things that keep us city-raised-but-moved-to-a-small-town-girls up at night.

Adventures in Bread Making

I’ve recently become obsessed with making bread, especially bread that my youngest son will consume with as much enthusiasm as he scarfs down (blech) Wonder Bread™. Little did I know that I didn’t know squat about making yeast bread.

Oh, I’ve been making biscuits, corn bread, muffins and other quick breads successfully for years, but yeast bread? That is a different animal, so to speak, all together. (It doesn’t help that The Young One is notoriously picky; when asked what he’d like for dinner, he invariably gives one of two answers: Parmesan-baked chicken wings or Pad Thai. Neither of which can be whipped together on your run-of-the-mill weeknight.)

Now, I am an avid collector of cook books, and recently added three books by Rose Levy Beranbaum: The Cake Bible, the Pie and Pastry Bible and the Bread Bible. Mrs. Beranbaum is an absolutely incredible baker and her methods are exacting, precise and scientific. This poses a bit of a challenge for me, since if there are three things I am NOT it is exacting, precise and scientific. She gives three methods of measuring out her ingredients – by volume (cups and teaspoons and what-have-you), by weight in ounces and by weight in tenths of grams. She’s quite clear that she prefers the latter method, and it’s the method I tried when first beginning to make her recipes since I am the proud owner of a dandy banana holder Salter electric food scale.

It drove me, well, bananas. And I fell back to using good old volume for measuring out my ingredients (have you ever tried to weigh an egg down to the tenth of a gram?). However, one of the reasons Mrs. Beranbaum recommends weighing her ingredients by tenths of grams is because if the proportions of liquid, flour, sugar and yeast are not precise, kneaded properly and proofed for the exactly right amount of time, you’re going to end up with either a loaf-shaped brick or a very tasty, fluffy, loaf-shaped letter U.

Trust me on this. You have no idea how many U-shaped sandwiches we’ve eaten around here.

Before you all start leaving comments, yes I own a bread machine. It’s old, it’s missing it’s directions, it was inexpensive when we bought it nearly 10 years ago, and it’s been collecting dust for 9 1/2 years. It’s also the biggest producer of loaf-shaped bricks and loaf-shaped letter U’s, so it is now back in the garage collecting dust. I mix the dough in my KitchenAid stand mixer, knead it by hand and let it rise in a buttered bowl on the counter. And after weeks and weeks of experimentation, I am FINALLY producing loaves of bread that actually look – and taste – like loaves of bread. Even The Young One will eat it. Well, most of it.

White Bread

White Bread to rival the Wonder stuff. All is right with the world.

Cheddar Bread

Cheddar Bread. The Young One’s favorite. It makes one mean ham sammich.

There are still loaves I slave over make on a regular basis that he won’t eat, but it doesn’t matter because my Beloved and Darling Daughter suck them down so quickly that if your hands are anywhere in the vicinity of the loaf you’re likely to lose your fingers.

Raisin Bread

Raisin Bread. This one still needs work, but I’m getting the swirl thing down.

It’s not just yeast breads he’s pretty picky about. While he’s fond of cornbread as a rule, this morning I departed from the usual biscuits, muffins or toast and made a recipe I found in the Joy of Cooking’s All About Breakfast and Brunch – Custard Topped Spoon Bread. It just sounded yummy, y’know? And it was too, even if it didn’t come out looking just like the picture in the book. I’m not sure where I went wrong, but it ended up being “Custard Straight Down the Middle Spoon Bread.”

Spoon Bread

Spoon Bread?

He would barely touch it. I don’t know what he’s going to say when it makes a reappearance on the dinner table tonight. WE liked it.

And not only is my bread making improving, so is my photography. Hot dog.

Guest Blogging

I love my new blog, and plan to keep it up and expand on it as much as possible (I have delusions of grandeur as far as site traffic goes LOL). My beloved, on the other hand, sometimes commits his opinions to writing, but does not have the wherewithal (read: time) to keep a blog going. So, here it is: Guest Blogging. Guest Blogger: My Hubby.

I know it’s cliché, but it has finally happened!

Something better than sliced bread has finally been invented!

It broke on this morning’s local news channel. It’s called the Mosquitone.

We have all heard of the Dog Whistle, and we have heard about an ultra high frequency sound that drives mosquitoes away. But this one is actually useful!

It’s a VERY annoying high frequency sound that can ONLY be heard by people (I’ll use that term loosely) who are under 25! Adults don’t hear a thing!

Now that site offers a ring tone, but they are severely missing the point! The manufactures suggest it as a practical tool to clear a convention center after a rock and roll concert but even they need some marketing lessons.

Think about it! A noise that annoys children but not adults! It’s like a reverse Wii!

I see HUGE marketing applications of this. How about a surround sound system to keep the Wii out of the living room? Better yet a perimeter fence around the house! I keep child proofing the house, but they keep getting in! THIS is the answer to my prayers. Now when your children run off to lead their own lives you can make sure they do!

To hell with a border fence, string this shit around the entire country!

I bow to the inventor and believe that he/she truly deserves the Nobel Prize!

The Difference Between Men and Women…and the Generation Gap

We watched “Across the Universe” (again) tonight with Tim’s younger daughter.

Tim: It’s a great movie, but it’s historically inaccurate.

Me: It does a wonderful job of interpreting the 6o’s using the Beatles’ music.

Tim: Interpretation, yes.

Me: Most art is about interpretation, dear.

Kate: WILL YOU TWO SHUT UP?!?!