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The Misadventures of Mrs. B

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The Misadventures of Mrs. B: 2010-02-28

Cook. Writer. Wife. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Klutz.

Friday, March 5, 2010

TGIF, Kids!

It's fiiiiiiiinally Friday!

This has been one of the longest and most challenging weeks of my life to date.  But it's gotten steadily better along the way.  Monday was just a mess of a day, and you can see here that I was not feeling very hopeful or happy in the aftermath.  But as the week has progressed things have improved. 

We're still taking it one day at a time and trying to stay cautiously optimistic.  It's easy to take any positive signs as great progress and get all wrapped up in them...only to be crushed moments later.  So instead we're saying "He had a good day today", rather than looking long-term.  And I can happily say that there have been several good days this week.  Has there still been confusion? Yes.  But unlike Monday we haven't had to beg or cajole him to do the things he needs to do, like taking his medication.  We'll see what today brings...

Tonight we're going out to dinner! We'll stay local - I found what appears to be a really super Italian place not too far away from the house.  And Rob's brother will hang out with their dad.  It will be nice to get out - and I know Rob is just dying to.  As tired and worn out as I feel right now (and oh, I do), I know it's that much more difficult for him.  He's been keeping up with therapists and social workers all week, not to mention friends of his dad who are calling and asking questions, and family members.  Plus a mountain of paperwork.  Oh...and his dad.

Tomorrow, family comes over to visit and Rob's aunt and I are cooking a feast between the two of us! Including my signature chocolate cake.

Pictures will be taken.  Oh yes.

OH! Speaking of food...a slightly humorous story to end the post...

Yesterday I dragged myself up off the couch (where I was laying instead of working out...oops) and prepared a pot roast.  It was glorious, I tell you.  Seared to perfection on all sides, resting atop thick-sliced onions, surrounded by diced carrots, bathed in stock and red wine.  Sprinkled lovingly with thyme and other spices.  A tear nearly came to my eye, it was so beautiful.  I left it to rest in its crock pot, promising to come back later in the day.  And all morning I dreamt of how I was gonna tear into some pot roast when I got home.  I even mentioned it to a friend at work and she expressed jealousy.  And rightly so.

Then I got a call at 12:30 telling me that I didn't turn the crock pot on.

I cried a little bit.  Chalk it up to exhaustion.

The end.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

G is for Grandmother

Good morning to all!

Welcome to my bare blog.  As I mentioned last night (but if you're just here for Alphabe-Thursday you wouldn't have seen it), I'm in the process of making changes to it.  In the meantime I got so tired of the dark colors that I totally got rid of them.  It was definitely a cathartic experience!

On to the business at hand.

Today's letter is G and the only G thing I could think about (other than my lovely friend Gretchen!) was my maternal Grandmother, who we refer to as Babci.

I don't know if it was because I was the first born of the youngest child or if it was because my existence prior to my birth caused a lot of...issues, or because she just thought I was special, but she and I were just all about each other.  I adored her, that much I remember.  Even a young child knows who loves them the best.

My very earliest memory is of my brother Jason's first Christmas.  I woke up that morning and heard her voice downstairs and jumped out of bed.  Not because it was Christmas - I don't even know if I understood that it was Christmas (I was only 2).  And I'm sure that I was excited when I did start down the stairs and see everything laid out before me.  But the reason I jumped out of bed in the first place was because she was there.

I try to hold on to as many memories as I can.  I remember that in cold weather she would always make a sign of the cross that my dad's old car would start, and we'd sit huddled together in the back seat blessing ourselves fervently.  I remember her wearing leather gloves on those cold nights.  I would eat bologna and cheese sandwiches in her darkened living room while she watched "Days of Our Lives".  She had long nails and broke one, and for some reason I freaked out when she showed me the broken tip in her hand.  She thought it was hilarious and kept trying to show it to me, which tells me that my mom's sense of humor didn't come from just nowhere.  She would sing out "Whooooo is knocking at my doooooor?" when we'd visit, which was often since we only lived a couple of blocks away. 

I remember that she got sick, and that one day she left the hospital and Jason and I were left with our older cousins to prepare a party for her.  We made a banner and everything.

But then she went back to the hospital.  I don't really know the timeline here because, after all, I was 4 years old.  But I do remember spending a good deal of time in that hospital waiting room.  Family members would take turns staying with me.  My dad would make up all kinds of games to occupy me, like seeing how far I could hop on one foot.  My uncle would fall asleep (good thing I was so well behaved).  One day my dad took my brother and me to the lawn below her room, and she waved down at us.  I remember seeing her, so small and far away.

Then one day I woke up from a nap and watched TV while my next door neighbor sat with me.  I remember the phone ringing.  And I remember her asking me to be very nice and quiet when my parents got home.

After dinner my mom took me into the living room and sat down with me standing in front of her.  And she asked me if I remembered how Babci was sick in the hospital.  I said I did.  And then she told me that she had died.

Later, I overheard my mom telling someone over the phone that she didn't know I'd react as strongly as I did.  I tell you I sobbed, and went running out to the backyard (where my dad was with Jason) and threw my arms around Jason and went on and on through my tears about how we'd never do any of the things we used to do with her anymore.  It was inconceivable to me - I knew she was sick, but of course I never thought she would die.

I promise that I hadn't intended for this post to get as morose as it did just then.

To this day I still tear up when I think about that, right now being no exception.  I wish she'd been here to talk to, to meet Stephanie and Stephen (it is too bizarre to me that they never even knew her), and to be on my side when I needed someone to be.  I wish I knew what she would think of me had she seen me grow up.  A few years back Jason and I were looking through old pictures and I pointed out that, as always, Babci and I were joined at the hip.  And I teased him that she loved me more*.  And he said, "She wouldn't love you as much if she knew you now!".  Of course he was kidding.  And I'm pretty sure I was at least 25 at the time.  Nevertheless I instantly burst into tears.  I guess it was because I've harbored the same fear at times when I'm not too proud of myself.

Before she died, Babci did two things in relation to me.  According to my mom one of the last things she said to her was, "Be good to Jennifer.  She's a good girl".  Second, she told my mom to give me her Miraculous Medal, which she had worn constantly.  I wore it a month later on my 5th birthday and then not again until I turned 13.  Years later Mom and I pinned it to the inside of my wedding gown, right over my heart.

And at the reception, my mom got up and made a little speech.  At the end she said, "Babci is smiling on you today, and she was right - you ARE a good girl".

*Another memory I have is of Babci trying to change Jason's diaper.  I held his hands down while she attempted this.  And he kicked her square in the forehead.  He was a...difficult child.  I mean, I had to hold him down for her, does this tell you anything? To this day when we're arguing/joking I hold that incident up as the reason she loved me more than him - at least I never kicked her in the head!

Jenny Matlock


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Change is Gonna Come... this blog.

I got really tired of the layout and am working towards making changes anyway so I went back to the basics in a big way.  As you can see!!

But a change is gonna come, friends.  Oh yes, once the specifics get ironed out.  :-)


Rosemary Lemon Chicken

It's been my goal as of late to make meals that are:

1) Nutrious

2) Fast/able to cook while I'm at work

3) Something both Rob and his dad will eat (this is not easy)

In the past I've put chicken in the crock pot before, and I knew it would turn out well.  So that was my morning project: Rosemary Lemon the crock pot.

The first thing to do when preparing this dish is to wad up four sheets of aluminum foil into loose balls.  In the picture you can see the approximate size I used. 

The chicken rests on these foil balls in order to keep it out of the juices while it's cooking.  And it's a very good idea.  Make sure the balls aren't so big that they will prop the chicken up too much to close the lid, though! You can probably flatten them out a bit if this is the case.

As I've learned the hard way: Crock pot without a lid? Not so good.

Remove the giblets and rinse the chicken off.  Place it on the foil and pat it dry with paper towels.

Then drizzle on some delicious, wonderful, fragrant olive oil.

And do a lovely little massage.  Make the chicken feel loved and relaxed so it can do its job.  Because you do love it.  And you'll love it more later for all it will give to you.

And don't forget to wear your wedding rings while you're doing this, so they get all oily and chickeny.  It's a good idea.

Then you can get creative about your herbs and spices.  For the sake of this recipe, of course, I used rosemary along with salt and pepper and parsley (which I use with almost everything so don't feel like you have to, certainly).

Once the seasoning was over, I poured a cup of water around the chicken to keep it moist (you could probably use white wine) while cooking, and then I used some of this stuff...

Don't be hating.  If I had a lemon I'd have been using it, thankyouverymuch.  And I probably would have squeezed the juice of half into the water, slicing the rest and laying the slices over the chicken.  But here I am, using what I have.  So several healthy squirts went into the water, and then I drizzled it over the chicken.

Here's how it looked when I was finished.

And after 10 hours of cooking on low, and an hour of sitting on warm, here's what I was left with.

It smelled ridiculous.  Ridiculous.  I cannot possibly overstate this.

When the time came, I attempted to lift the chicken out of the crock.  This was not going to happen as the chicken was totally falling apart.  Of course I knew this would happen since I had, after all, made this in the past.  So I had to settle for pulling it out in pieces and trying to arrange it on a platter in a semi-attractive manner.

And it was delicious - tender, juicy and flavorful.


UPDATE! I have since tried this chicken another way - I used vegetable oil instead of olive, and half a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch Rach Dressing mix sprinkled all over.  And can I just tell's the most chickeny chicken you will ever make in your LIFE.  I'm serious.  Something about it just makes the chicken taste that much more like chicken.  I've made it twice and both times I found myself picking at the platter long after my plate was empty because I just couldn't get enough! So give it a whirl.  You'll thank me later, I promise!!!!

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

One Day At A Time

I've been clenching my jaw lately. This is evidenced by the fact that my jaw aches much of the time. Unless there's something else that could be causing it that I'm not thinking of - anyone have any ideas?

I can't imagine why I'd be doing this aside from the fact that this has been a very frustrating time and it only seems to go on and on in the same vein. I know that "one day at a time" is the approach to this, I really do. It's the only way to handle life without feeling completely overwhelmed - it's the only way to survive sometimes.

And yet, there are moments when it seems as though there's just no end to it.  It's practically impossible to not look at the future and for the present to not color that view. 

Yes, we hope for the best.  I need to hope for the best.  And to pray for it.  And I ask for the grace to carry on.  And I revel in the love that Rob and I have for each other at any and every opportunity.  But there's still  that nagging, whining voice in the back of my head.  There are times when the most off-the-wall thing comes out of my father-in-law's mouth and I'm just washed over with this cold feeling because I have no idea where we are or where he is.

Sometimes it's shock, sometimes it's disappointment.  Okay, 9 times out of 10 it's disappointment.  I know that as time goes on we'll train ourselves to not get our hopes up when he's having a good day or even a good conversation.  Because if the stretch of time I spent with him yesterday is any indication, what he says or remembers or understands right now has no bearing whatsoever on an hour from now.  And it's toughest when you're talking to him and he has this "A HA!" moment and you're all "Yeah!" and wanting to pump your fist in the air...and then that off-the-wall thing comes out and you're completely baffled all over again.

You know the image that just came to mind as I typed that? Trying to put a slightly-too-small fitted sheet on a mattress.  You think you're all good up until you get to that fourth corner and then WHOOPS!.  One of the other corners pops off as a result.  You fix that one and think you're okay, until you look and see that yet another one came off.  And on and on.  You just never have enough sheet to cover everything.

That is sort of how this feels.

And at the end of all of this is the overwhelming notion that this is NOT ABOUT ME.  It's about him.  He's the one going through this illness.  Not me.

And yet I am.  We are.

One day at a time.

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Olive Cheese Bread, or The Most Powerful Bread Ever

Oh goodness.

I saw this recipe on PW's website a few weeks back and instantly thought "My parents would love this bread".

I didn't know how much, though.

I'm pretty sure my dad wants to marry it.  We joked about how he would sleep with the leftovers next to his pillow when they got home.  He kept raving about it, about how you could make an entire meal out of it, about how delicious it was.  Naturally I was flattered and happy that I made something he loved so much!

Of course, I made little additions and subtractions of my own based on what I had on hand.  I'm sure the original version is delicious as well!

Here's what I did:


I chopped up a can of black olives and a jar of green olives.  Both were the normal size - around 6 oz each.  

They were *supposed* to be in much bigger pieces than this, but...I got a food processor yesterday and decided to give it a shot with chopping these.  I didn't know that if you press the button but the lid isn't on tightly enough, and you tighten it, the blades will start whirling.  After a loud "NO NO NO!!!", I got my wits about me enough to stop the blades.  By that time, I had what you see before you.  Oh, well.

So learn from my mistakes.  It's what I'm here for.

I then grated about 3/4 lb of mozzarella cheese, which I just figured would somehow work better with the meal I had planned.

Now imagine that I took a picture of a stick of softened butter being mixed with a half cup of mayonnaise, okay? Okay.
And then further imagine that I took a picture of that mixture being mixed with the cheese and olives.  Okay? Okay.

I think I was too busy trying to find a bowl big enough to fit all of this without making a mess to worry about such things as, you know, taking pictures for the blog.  

Finally, after combining and not taking pictures, I thought to myself, "This needs a little kick".  The original recipe calls for green onions (plus it uses Monterey Jack cheese).  Alas, I had no green onions on hand.  I did, however, have garlic.


I pulled out the trusty garlic press and pressed three small cloves into the mix.  That added just the right touch of flavor.  

I will tell you from experience that this mixture is delicious cold.  I gave some to my mom to try out before putting it in the oven and her eyes almost popped out of her head.  So did mine.

When the time came, I spread the mixture on two halves of a loaf of italian bread.

Notice the big hole on the one side.  I was unhappy when I saw that.  So I only spread my mix on the part of the bread that actually was...bready. 

That's not even a word.

Into the 325 degree oven it went, for 25 minutes.  It could have gone longer.  And in your oven, it might not even need to be in for that long - this oven, you must understand, has not been used very much.  After Rob's dad had the kitchen remodeled, Rob used it once a year to make Christmas dinner.  Thaaaaat's about it.  So I'm still a little iffy on cooking times and such.

Regardless, the cheese should be browned and bubbly when it's ready to leave the oven.

And I swear to you, I took a picture of that.  I took a picture first of the pieces I had cut up as an appetizer, and Rob said "Why don't you take one of the whole big piece of bread?", so I took a picture of that as well.  Those pictures, however, cannot be found on my camera.  Sigh.

Let me just repeat, though, that this bread may make your father consider leaving your mother for it.

That's how powerful it is.

So use caution.

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A Beautiful Morning

I have to say, this has to be one of the most beautiful mornings I've seen all winter.

The sun has risen, the sky is blue.  The branches wave in the breeze, casting dancing shadows.  The snow is melting and I can see a large patch of grass at the back of the yard. 

It appears that there are a couple of broken branches we'll need to clear out.  I can't wait until it's time to start working outside!

I can just feel spring coming.  I'm so happy that March is finally here!


Mornings like this, you just feel good being alive.  And you want to see a million more just like it.


Sunday, February 28, 2010

Stephen: A Pictorial

Tonight the family came over for dinner.  We had a good time.  They watched hockey (good game, USA) and joked and I caught up with everyone one by one while I cooked.  And Jason opened the door on me while I was in the powder room (he didn't look or anything gross like that).  I made a noise he 'hadn't heard in years' - I'm not sure what that meant but he had a good laugh at my expense.  So that was fun.

For dinner I made pasta bolognese and olive bread (a PW recipe which I will be posting about shortly) and garlic bread dumplings.  Oh, apple dumplings.  It had been far too long.

When my family got here I mentioned to my younger brother that I had made them - he was at a friend's house the last time we had them and I thought he had missed out.  But it turns out he had eaten leftovers and today offhandedly replied, "Oh, I didn't like them". 

I made a face somewhere between "Are you crazy?" and "Too bad...crazy".

Still, he tried some, the little trooper.  And he liked them, as evidenced by the fact that he went back for seconds.  And thirds.  With ice cream, every time.  Stephen, aka The Skinniest Kid Ever.

Oh yeah, baby.  You've got it goin on and you know it.

I make yummy food as a way to get him to sit still, for heaven's sake, so I spend some time with him.  It's not always easy for a 15 year old to talk to Big Sis, even if she IS pretty much at his maturity level on a lot of things (this is because he is super mature, not because I'm lacking...I swear).  Being the loving sister that I am, therefore, I used apples and ice cream and butter to glue his butt to the chair so I could converse with him and take secret pictures of him while he thought I was just messing around on my phone.

Tee hee.

 He hovers over it like someone will steal it...

...of course, he's right, someone probably WOULD have stolen it.



 He happened to overhear a conversation between our dad and sister...

Then gave me his spin on the subject at hand, which of course made me laugh so hard I almost cried...

...which Dad heard, so of course he knew Stephen said something.  So he repeated himself.  And I laughed some more.

And now, back to business.

He's a cutie, isn't he?

Meanwhile, my sister told me that she has started a sports blog since, in the future, she wants to be a sports reporter.  She follows Twitter and other resources to pick up on news and writes about it.  I think that is just so cool - and it'll definitely help her sharpen her skills.  Isn't it amazing, all the resources at our fingertips nowadays that weren't available years ago?

Tomorrow is the Big Day - bringing Rob's dad home.  Just saying a prayer that things go as well as they possibly can!