We have two concord grapevines in the backyard, and it has become our yearly fall tradition to pick dozens of pounds of them in September around the Harvest Moon, then try to unload them on our loved ones and neighbors as fast as possible. Dozens of pounds of grapes are literally THOUSANDS of grapes, and the bastards all ripen at once, so time is of the essence when dealing with them.
This year, however, because of a start-and-stop summer, our grapevines got confused, so we were left with a bunch of uneven bunches, with fruit ranging from green to raisin. We were able to salvage almost 30 pounds of sweet, handsome fruit, but they had to be separated from their cruddy brethren, and thus not giftable. Therefore, I had to tie my bonnet, button my pinafore, and go all Ma Ingalls on them by turning them into jam.
Grape jam, if done by the book, is a pain in the ass. You have to separate the pulp from the skin, then boil the pulp while cutting up the skins in a food processor, then combine them again and boil the mixture down...all to have a few jars of what basically tastes like Welch's. Well, a little better than Welch's, but still, not 12-hours-of-sweaty-labor better.
Therefore, we have winnowed down the recipe quite a bit to fit our needs. It tastes exactly the same as the "right" way.
Mang Farm "Grapple" Jam (1 batch = approx. 4 8-oz. jelly jars)
PS: Would you like a jar of our jam??? If so, post a food-themed haiku below, and I will randomly select a winner and mail one out to you!
Tim and I are huge Game of Thrones fans, and the final scenes of this week's episode sent us into fits of fanboy glee. Without giving too much away, Daenerys Targaryen, tiny little Mother of Dragons, kicked major ass.
In the series, the character is played by British actress Emilia Clarke and the UK's entire supply of lip-plumping gloss, but I think she just might be Asian, at least on the inside. I present my evidence below:
1. Daenerys has silver-blonde hair, violet eyes, and dark eyebrows. You know who also had blonde hair, violet contact lenses, and dark eyebrows? Any Asian girl in her early college years.
2. Daenerys married a foreign man who was much more sexually experienced than she was. When confronted by her own sexual ignorance, what did she do? SHE GOT A TUTOR. I totally would have too, and my mom would have paid for it.
3. Girlfriend is not afraid to eat blood and organ meat. She once ate a raw horse heart with an enthusiasm that would make any tiger mom proud.
4. She can spend the night inside a bonfire like it's no big deal (thus earning her the title The Unburnt). At the Korean sauna, there is one especially hot room called the bulgama which is usually set to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and little grandmas hang out in there like that's no big deal. (True story: one time, Tim braved the bulgama but forgot to take off his glasses beforehand. When he came out, he noticed odd things with his vision...it turned out his LENSES MELTED.)
5. She has a tendency to fall in love with and adopt everything she runs into: dragon eggs, the Dothraki horde, slave armies, etc. But sometimes, she has trouble taking care of them all. I also have a problem with this, although I don't know if this is a generalized Asian tendency. Let's discuss.
6. (WARNING: this one is spoiler-ish) In this last episode, Daenarys totally pulled the Asian trick where people were talking shit about her in Valyrian, thinking she wouldn't understand, and she went along with it until the time came for her to make her move. Then she busts out with fluent Valyrian, and rubs their ignorance in their faces with savoir flare, heh heh heh. I've totally done that with both English and Spanish before. Sometimes you gotta let the stereotypes work for you, you know?
How does a 1st generation Korean family do Thanksgiving? I remember the first few times, my parents and I quizzically poking at dry cafeteria turkey breast and grimacing at the new herb flavors in the stuffing. I remember my uncle good-naturedly trying to swallow down mashed potatoes on his first Thanksgiving with us, then eventually caving in and asking for some kimchi to go with it.
However, as the years passed and the more America we absorbed, we learned to adore this holiday and its feasting. And we have blended it with some Korean favorites, which actually go really well with the more traditional dishes.
Yesterday, Tim and I went out to eat at an Italian restaurant, and I had my very first porcini risotto with four grams of shaved white truffle on top.
I never have to eat again.
And when I die, I want to be reborn as a truffle-sniffing pig.
During dinner, our server told us that the truffle hunters of Piemonte now mostly use dogs, as the pigs kept eating the truffles.
Y'all know I would be that kind of naughty pig. And when they put me out to pasture after a long, storied career as a faithful truffle-sniffer, they can slaughter me humanely and turn my legs into proscuitto.
Wow, that train of thought took a wild turn!
Anyway, today I danced my ass off with Emi at her friend's birthday dance party. I must say, it's a brilliant party idea: they held it at the playroom of a park, they were able to invite a bunch of kids and their parents, and everyone had a blast! It seemed cost-efficient too, since you can just leave out bowls and platters of snack food and drinks instead of doing a full meal.
The DJ played "Gangnam Style," and Emi and I were delighted to see that EVERY kid and adult knew the song and the dance. It was so cool.
Today has been spent making desserts for a barbeque we are attending later this evening. Tim decided to take the helm, and he had Isaac become his sous chef for the day as they made dark chocolate pudding and key lime pie from scratch.
While squeezing limes, Isaac started getting aggro. "We're going to CRUSH these limes! We will show them NO MERCY. They will know UTTER DEFEAT at our hands!" He started bellowing and gesticulating wildly like Chaplin in The Great Dictator, meanwhile not actually producing any lime juice.
Tim said, "Dude, can you just squeeze the limes?"
Isaac frowned and said in a normal voice, "Geez, when did we get so pacifist around here?"
May is National Strawberry Month, so YoKids is teaming up with Tom's of Maine on Strawberry flavored goodies! Starting May 21st, each tube of children's toothpaste purchased on the Tom's of Maine site will come with a coupon for $1 off YoKids Greek organic yogurt. You can also save 20% on your entire order with the coupon code: YOKIDS20.
Just to be clear, I'm not getting paid for saying this. I sincerely appreciate that both companies provide high quality, all-natural and/or organic options, and we seriously use their products multiple times a day. Isaac and Emi grew up on YoBaby yogurt, and now I pack a Yogurt Squeezer in their lunches every day. We all use Tom's of Maine toothpastes, which have no artificial sweeteners or dyes, are cruelty-free, and come in environmentally responsible packaging.
To promote this special deal, Stonyfield Farm sent me a strawberry-themed goody bag to give away to one of my readers. It is packed with the following goodies: Reusable cotton YoKids lunch sack filled with several Tom's of Maine products including a full 4.2oz tube of Silly Strawberry children's toothpaste, as well as samples of their Naturally Dry deodorant and Daily Moisture soap. The bag also includes FREE YoKids and YoKids Greek coupons (both available in strawberry!), YoKids Greek temporary tattoos (in strawberry AND raspberry!), and YoKids Strawberry-flavored Eco Lips chapstick!
This week's random number out of 4 was 1, so congratulations to Erin for winning the Tarte True Blood Book of Shadows palette. Her sexual fantasies, like mine, lean Sapphic, so I definitely approve.
Okay, remember about two years ago when I thought Emi was growing up to be a sassafras? Well, I spoke too damn soon. 3-year-old Emi has got nothing on 5-year-old Emi right when she wakes up. She definitely isn't a morning person.
Two recent examples:
Mommy and Daddy were having a boring grown-up conversation in the living room. Meanwhile Emi wanted to do yet another puppet show.
Emi: “Guys! Enough consequence already, let’s play!”
Dad: Emi! Wake up. What do you want for breakfast?
Emi: Nothing. I’m so sleepy.
Dad: Come on! How about some toast? “Toast is the Most”!!!
Emi: No. “Toast is the Least”. Go away.
And look at the expression on her face. Tell me that's not the look of total dismissal. I thought we wouldn't get this from her until she was a teenager!
I swear, she's lucky she's as cute as she is, because heaven knows I would not have been able to get away with that kind of backtalk when I was her age, or any age really.
Also, those of you in Trader Joe's areas, have you guys tried the Fruity-Os? They are a Fruit Loops knock-off, but they are sooooo delicious, it's not even funny. Their colors are Pinterest-approved pretty (I assume because they used natural dyes), they taste like lemon bars, and they stay crunchy in milk. Our whole family is addicted.
I don't say it enough, but I really do love hanging out with my kids. They make me laugh, and their personalities are so vibrant, I can't help but admire them. But it is getting to be increasingly more difficult to just unplug from all the other responsibilities I have and just enjoy them, undistracted. On Sunday, I made a conscious effort to "be here now," and hopefully I did right by them. You never know with kids; their hearts are so big, you can act like any old asshole and they'll love you and make handprint crafts for you anyway.
We had Mother's Day brunch at an adorable boutique hotel near the Queen Mary, and the weather was perfect. We dined al fresco on all-you-can-eat ceviche, oysters, omelettes, coffee-rubbed beef tenderloin, paella, and of course, mimosas. It was awesome, and hopefully my mom approved. Although you never really know with Korean moms either.
Come to think of it, I spend a lot of my spare brain cycles wondering if I'm a total fuck-up or doing fine in a variety of arenas. I am good at a few things. I have impeccable taste in music, I can turn anything into a raunchy joke, I rock at standardized exams, I can bridge the gap between nerds and "normal" people, and I have a good appetite, both literally and figuratively. None of these things really come in handy when raising small children. But hopefully one day, there will be an intersection between the curves of Isaac's and Emi's development and my personal skill set, where I can show them that their mom is actually good for something.
I guess what I'm trying to say is this: I've been a late bloomer all my life, and parenting is proving to be no different. So, I'm a pretty mediocre mom for now, but wait until they need to take the SAT man, I'm all over that shit.