I have been neglecting you lately, folks. I recognize it. We’ve been manically doing construction on the house trying to better winterize it. The batten and paint are nearly done. We completed one upstairs bedroom and finally moved our beds upstairs! The den is on it’s way to becoming an actual den.
The kids have been working on a project in between schooling, helping around the yard, planning birthday feasts*, and being wild children. *It’s also party season around here! All five boys’ birthdays fall -starting tomorrow- in a 3 month span along with Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. To say we’re in the busy season is a vast understatement. They’re not-so-enthusiastically embarking on their annual forced toy sorting. Unlike most sane humans who do spring cleaning, I do fall cleaning. The way I figure it is that we’re about to be cooped up in the house for a few months while snow and ice flies and the roads become progressively more impassible. I’ll be darned if I’m going into house arrest with a filthy, chaotic house. After five pregnancies I have this nesting thing down pat!
The kids have informed me that I’ve sounded like a Gunny lately:
“Are you slacking? We don’t slack around here. Slacking is for when you die.”
“God gave you legs. Let me see you use ’em, boy!”
“You call THAT done?”
“I expect this to be cleared out by the time I get back in this room. Can I get a ‘Yes, Ma’am?'”
The kids have been doing their best to do as little as possible. We are, as you might say, at odds in our motivation.
There hasn’t been a great deal of innovative cooking going on lately. We’ve been relying on old favorites; haystack dinners, frito pies, stuffed pumpkins, more haystack dinners and grilled burgers have been the fare found on our table lately. There is nothing wrong with that. At least we have some old reliables on which we can lean.
And in the spirit of not neglecting my beloved Foodie With Family friends any more, I’m throwing you something most of you have probably not seen before. For the next couple weeks, while I complete my psychotic fall cleaning, I’ll put up a classic ‘Foodie With Family’ column that ran in the Record-Eagle.
Of course, there’ll be a birthday meal post tomorrow or Saturday. Leif has requested quite the meal, including an ice cream cake, sticky chicky bones, PB&Js, peanut butter balls, peanut butter spoons, strawberry pie, pumpkin cinnamon rolls with ‘lots and lots of icing. Drippy icing, please, Mommy!’, and a few other various and sundry items. I’ll at least pass along the recipes and photos for the ice cream cake and the sticky chicky bones.
In the meantime…
Foodie with the Family
A quick pizza meal at the end of a crazy day
Last week my husband had to travel out of town on business.
One of our dogs needed a rabies vaccine to be registered in time to avoid a town citation and ticket. Through a combination of poor planning on my part and a packed schedule on the vet’s part, it fell to me to accomplish the task while my dearest was away.
To further complicate matters, it had to be done with all the kids in attendance, as we all had severe head colds and I had no desire to share the virus with friends. So, armed with a bottle of hand sanitizer and two pockets jammed full of tissues, I marched — nose dripping — into the veterinarian’s office.
With the baby in an infant backpack, the 2-year-old being pushed in his stroller by his “I-can-do-it-myself” 4-year-old brother, the 6-year-old fighting me for the dog’s leash and the 8-year-old dabbing at his ruby red nose, we spilled into the vet’s office. Exuding viral spores with every step, I approached the receptionist and announced our arrival.
I was made aware of the presence of my biggest little man at my elbow when he cleared his throat and asked the receptionist, pencil poised on heretofore hidden notebook, “Excuse me, ma’am. May I ask you a couple questions?” (We had been doing a unit study on journalism for the past week. He decided to try out his chops a bit.)
The receptionist was game and ‘big guy’ asked, “What is the strangest pet you’ve ever had in here?” (Not a bad question, kiddo!)
The receptionist paused, looked thoughtful, and answered, “I suppose that would have to be the bearded dragon we had in here last week.” That hooked him — but the receptionist ushered us through the door toward the exam room before Liam could ask another question.
Our 44-pound bratwurst-with-legs that is a beagle consented to being pulled by his leash into the exam area. He passed the 15 minutes spent waiting for the vet by wrapping himself and his tether around my legs first in one direction and then in the other.
The little men passed the time in various productive ways: Ty laid on his back on the animal exam table with his feet up in the air saying, “Just relaxin’ Mom “¦ I’m awful tired.” Aidan ran his mouth along the length of the exam table and back. “But MOM! My mouth is closed so germs can’t get in!” Leif practiced his Houdini impersonation by repeatedly loosing himself from his stroller restraints. Mercifully, baby Rowan was an angel. And Liam, well, he planned his follow-up questions.
Our doctor arrived and began her examination of our pooch while Liam began his examination of the doctor.
“I understand you had a bearded dragon in here last week. What was wrong with it?”
The vet responded, “Well, I don’t see the exotic pets, so I don’t know.”
Checking his notepad, Liam asked, “Well, what color was the bearded dragon?”
Patiently, the doc answered, “I’m not quite sure since I didn’t examine it.”
After again consulting his notes, he asked, undeterred, “Did the bearded dragon get any shots?”
The vet answered rather shortly, “I don’t know.” I interceded.
“Son,” said I, “she didn’t see the bearded dragon. Perhaps you should rethink your questions.” He paused, nodded and turned back to the vet. “Okay. So, what would you feed a bearded dragon?”
Hours later — dog tired (forgive the pun) and significantly lighter in the wallet — I found the mini Edward R. Murrow’s notebook while clearing out the van and got a glimpse into the wondrous mind of an 8-year-old boy. In each of the spaces after his written questions, where the vet had answered him with “I don’t know” he had written, “It’s a mystery!”
The upshot is that I didn’t spend much time on dinner that night. Breakfast pizzas are great for just such an occasion. They can take advantage of leftover breakfast bacon and fried potatoes.
You can make your own pre-baked pizza shells for those crazy nights or you can buy them when you find them on sale. Either way, keep a couple stashed in your freezer for the nights when it’s all you can do to remember to eat.
- 1 prepared thin pizza crust
- 3 T. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 T. butter
- 8 large eggs
- 1 (10-oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, cooked and squeezed dry
- 1/2 c. finely chopped onion, or more to taste
- 1/2 to 1 c. crispy cooked crumbled bacon or ham
- Leftover fried potatoes or hash browns
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 c. shredded cheddar
Preheat the oven to 450°.
Brush the pizza crust on both sides with 1 T. olive oil. Place crust directly onto the middle rack of the oven and bake for eight to 10 minutes.
While the crust is cooking, break the eggs into a bowl and whisk them well, seasoning them with salt and pepper. Add the remaining 2 T. olive oil to a 10-inch skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about four minutes. Add the dry spinach, breaking up the pieces, and heat through, about two minutes. Remove onions and spinach to a plate, turn the heat down to low and add the butter. Pour the egg mixture into the pan. Gently stir the eggs until they are just set and still moist, about three to four minutes.
Spread the scrambled eggs evenly over the baked pizza crust and top with the spinach and onions, the hash browns, the bacon and the cheese. Return to the oven until the cheese is melted and lightly browned, about 1 minute. Cut into wedges and serve hot.