Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Just try it....

As I made egg salad tonight for the kids' Thursday lunches, I considered adding some green olives, maybe some shredded carrot, flat leaf parsley... but then, sigh, I realized that the chances of them eating it if I did anything new to it were slim to none. How did I end up here?

For dinner tonight I made polenta and veggie brats with some garden veggies on the side. O didn't even make it to the table before announcing that he would not eat the polenta. But see, he has always loved polenta. I remind him of this but he is adamant that no polenta will be consumed by him. I serve him other things. Then he scoops up polenta, puts it on his plate, eats it down and goes back for seconds. We run through a version of this scenario almost every night.

E is just now old enough to understand that what there is for food is what there is and she will generally eat it (unless it is mushrooms or onions) even if she does not love it. But even tonight, she couldn't resist a little jab that only the crispiest polenta was any good.

The fussiness of children (and mine are actually not that bad compared to some I'm met) when it comes to food is nothing new, but I realized tonight with the egg salad how much I've given in to it. There is a whole list of stuff I just do not cook because of the response it will get -- sometimes before it is even tasted. The eggplants I grew in the garden are still on the vine, because I can't see the point in cooking them only to have them rejected. But I love eggplant.

Besides narrowing my repertoire, I realize that I've taken to making food the same way over and over. The stir fry (a staple around here) usually has the same veggies and tofu (small people reject the tempeh I love) in it every time, for example. And it is the same deal with the egg salad. I've never put green olives in before, so I'm reasonably sure the kids would look with horror at their sandwiches tomorrow if I added some now.

Where all of this leaves me is with a new found appreciation of my grandmother who has never ever made any dish the same way twice. Marinara sauce is more a category of saucy foods than an actual recipe. Almost anything savory is likely to be put in a roux and served over toast at lunch at her place. While people in my family have used some of her more unusual combinations of ingredients as fodder for jokes, I've now decided she was on to something. She has managed everyone's expectations so that she can insert some measure of creativity and diversity in 'standard' dishes. She could put green olives in the egg salad and everyone would just chuckle and then EAT IT.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Cycling The Cotswolds

Hired a cycle at the Toy Shop in town. This is some of what I saw/did:

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Morten-in-Marsh (and yes, they say the whole name every time!)

The Bell Inn, Morten-in-Marsh. I finally found a place to stay for the night and managed to not break the bank. And it is in a pub. With wireless. It was a long search up and down the high street with some kindly mis-guidance from very friendly locals but I now have a roof over my head, a slice of lasagna in my belly, and a pint in my hand. Now I can relax.

Here is the beer garden of my current abode, as viewed from the window of my room. Nice, eh?

Five Things

...I’ve decided I like about the English: The lilting, up-down-up way they roll out my first name; shops that sell seven different kinds of veggie sausages; colleges that have bars; duvets on every bed; grand halls.

My favorite gargoyle

At the Sheldonian.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Puzzling Bits

A few things that puzzle me about the English:
1. hot and cold taps are completely separate, making washing your hands in warm water nearly impossible.
2. their soft-spokenness that actually seems to increase with the size of the audience to whom they are speaking.
3. doors labeled clearly as “fire exits” that are the everyday and only exits from a building
4. their propensity to begin every conversation with a compliment – even if they are completely opposed to you, your argument, or the situation at hand
5. the lack of public toilets. Really, it’s not just that I look for such things in a professional capacity! I’ve been wandering around the city – a city that is full of tourists – and there is nowhere to pee! Much of the city center is taken up by these private colleges, so there is nothing to be found there (not even in the Bodleian library!) and the little pastry and sandwich shops that occupy every third or fourth storefront either don’t have these facilities, or they have them well hidden!

Friday, September 11, 2009

My First Day in Food

spinach pastry and a coffee on Broad St; mushroom and asparagus pie, with potatoes and peas; a red pepper and fennel risotto with goat cheese and an ale from the coast; my very own coffee shop.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I'm Here. Oxford.

I had a direct flight from that left in the evening. I had dinner on the plane while enjoying the recent Star Trek movie. I slept for as much as I could, awoke to the sun coming up and a beautiful view of the British Isles as we flew into London, and made my way through the customs queue in surprisingly good time.

Catching the bus to Oxford proved more challenging. Apparently, the “help” bus - the only one labeled as transport for the Central Bus Station - is for “special” people. I needed a regular city bus, which I hadn’t even looked at, since I had no money and was looking to stay on the airport grounds. I probably wasted nearly an hour getting on the right bus and riding to my location. The time didn’t actually bother me (I was in no rush), the careening of the bus around the airport left me feeling a bit green, however, a feeling that only increased when I had the “good fortune” to walk up to the Oxford bus just before it pulled out. I would have been better off waiting for the next one, but no, I hopped on, and then sat staring intently out the window hoping that I would just throw up so that I would feel better. Anyway, 45 minutes of hell later (and only a tiny bit of discreet puking) I dismounted in city center on a beautiful early fall day. And friendly folks at the tourist office pointed me in the direction of Keble (pictured) where I was to stay.