Monday, April 24, 2017

13 Reasons and my 12 Year Old

So it has come to this America.

I don’t know how…or when…or if it is just “me” being “old”.

I just know I’m deeply sad and torn and angry.

It seems I’m going to have to consider watching “13 Reasons” with our twelve year old son Brody.

My sweet boy, the one who still gets a kick out of farting in my direction because he knows it drives me crazy.

This amazing young spirit who still enjoys playing with his Legos and building things and who gets dorky and giggly when chasing his buddies around the house shooting Nerf guns at each other.

Brody is the kid who will bust out dancing with no provocation, roll his eyes, wiggle his hips and bask in the laughter of adults and kids around him. He knows he’s funny and goofy and he doesn’t care. He’s just being himself.

But now “13 Reasons” is THE show his friends are watching. It’s the show the parents are all saying “Oh my God, we have to watch this with our middle school kids because they need to know these things and understand these things.”

We watched the first episode with him and both my husband and I, without consulting Facebook or a therapist or a school official or another parent, looked at each other and said “hell no, this isn’t appropriate.” I watched the second episode and felt even more confident in this response.

We went to bed feeling good about our decision because we didn’t give it a second thought.

Fast forward two days and it sounds like it’s the magical time when we need to let our son watch teenagers smoking weed out of a bong, ramming their hand between the legs of an unwilling female victim and, if what is coming down the road in this series is all that I’ve read, it’s time for him to witness violent rape and a drawn out, bloody suicide.

Because this is the reality of the world we live in.

Here is my question: is it necessary to watch this with him in order to discuss bullying, being there for your friends, and knowing that he can come talk to his parents or another trusted adult if he’s struggling or sees someone else struggling?

I spend every day of my life thinking about how to be a better parent; reaching out to my kids, even though it drives them crazy…paying attention to who they are hanging out with, learning who the parents of those kids are and asking them about their devices…peeking at their devices…monitoring their grades…sneaking talks with other moms to compare what they are hearing…emailing teachers if I have a question. Even with all that, it’s necessary to sit and watch rape, drug use and bloody suicide before he even finishes his FIRST YEAR OF MIDDLE SCHOOL?

I need some time. This one is really bothering me.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

My New Kitchen Toy!

I have all the gadgets.

I've got the food processor.

The blender.

The Kitchen Aid.

Two crockpots.

A rice steamer.

A waffle maker.

We use the waffle maker on birthdays. I use the Kitchen Aid during holidays. The blender? During the summer on those rare occasions when I make fun cocktails (otherwise it's the old standby's: wine, beer and vodka tonics). The rice steamer gets used pretty regularly and, if you like rice, is something I highly recommend.

The problem with all of these gadgets is storing the damn things.

To store them, I have to put them out of sight. And in my house? That's the kiss of death.

I have two gadgets, though, that I've decided I cannot live without and I'm so jazzed about the newest one that I have to share. I like them so much that I don't forget about them. I'm pretty sure I caught the Kitchen Aid whispering "I hate you" tonight when I passed her by to pull them off the shelves again.

Let me tell you about the first one that I've had for a little over a year. It is so awesome that I will literally plan a day to just use it.

It's the food saver. And Oh. My. God. Has it saved me.

This thing will shrink wrap anything, liquid or solid. I used it when we went on a 16 day trip through Yellowstone, etc, in our fifth wheel and, no joke, I prepared ahead of time enough meals and/or ingredients that we only ate dinner out three times. And it fit in our fifth wheel freezer!

I freeze the usual left over meals, like chili and stew, but also gravy to use in later recipes. I'll make a lasagne and freeze individual pieces so that Brian can grab one on the way out the door for work and by lunchtime it has thawed out enough to reheat. I will chop four or five onions at a time and freeze individual bags of one chopped onion each for later recipes. If I find a smoking deal on ground beef I will stock up and break it out into individual bags of a pound each. Honestly, I don't think there is anything I've found yet that I won't freeze using the food saver.

My only advice? Buy the actual Food Saver brand and then search for bags on Amazon that have high ratings. The off brand bags are cheaper. I got my Food Saver at Costco on sale for $139. It has easily saved me more than that.

Now, drum roll, about my new toy.

The Instantpot pressure cooker is the BOMB (shout out to Marcia, who I work with, for hooking me up)!

All I can say is that the meat in our house will never taste the same again. I'm getting rid of the crockpots too. This thing will BE a crockpot if that's what you want. The problem with the crockpots is that I've never been able to get the absolute most out of a piece of meat when using them. The Instantpot? Holy cow. The meat tastes like it came from a restaurant.

Most of the meat I've cooked so far has taken less than 30 minutes. Tonight I cooked an entire chicken, which was still partly frozen in the middle, and the actual pressure cooking time was 20 minutes flat.

The pot has a feature that allows you to saute in it; it heats up almost immediately, meaning the gravy I made when the chicken was completed was boiling in half the time it takes on the stove.

I made Kalua Pig last night - using a 5 lb bone in pork shoulder roast - and damn near had an orgasm it was so good.

Okay, that's a slight exaggeration, but you get the idea. It was tender and succulent and the flavor was out of this world. This one took 90 minutes but the preparation was so simple that it just meant I needed to make sure I planned ahead, which I did.

The Instantpot will allow you to release the pressure immediately when an item is finished cooking or, as with the Kalua Pig, it will release the pressure itself slowly. I wasn't going to be home when it finished due to kid taxi duty so I didn't have to worry about it overcooking.

I knew after the first use that I was in love. After not getting home from work until 7:45, and walking into a room with three people staring at me blindly asking "what's for dinner", I grabbed what I had one hand. That included three frozen chicken breasts. What can I say, we were overdue for a visit to the grocery store. I almost made them eat cereal, but instead tossed the breasts into the Instantpot along with some salsa, chili powder and salt. Voila! Fifteen minutes later we had shredded chicken tacos (it took five minutes for the cooker to pressurize and ten minutes to cook the chicken).

The first day I had off following that first success I searched a website referred by Marcia called Nom Nom Paleo and started printing recipes (the Kalua Pork photo is from her site but mine looked just the same, promise). I chose ones that I thought might be fairly easy, then hit the grocery store, and now I've got three meals cooked and frozen (hence my deepening love for the Food Saver) and tomorrow night we are eating Indian Curry Spareribs. It won't be until later in the evening but everything is ready and this one will take 35 minutes - 20 to cook and 15 to depressurize naturally.

If it is as good as what I've made so far you will hear the moaning across town.

If anyone else reading this has an Instantpot and wants to share recipes then I'm your girl. Please. I'm begging you.

Between the speed, efficiency and brilliant ability to leave meat moist and tender coupled with the option of freezing meals and not having to worry about what to make for dinner I'm sure my life will be a little more simple now. It seems like every night either I work late, the kids have activities, or both.

Now I don't have to feel guilty anymore for picking up carry out three or four nights a week.

And I'll have more time for wine and catching up with the kids about their day (not necessarily in that order, promise).

Get an Instantpot and a Food Saver. You won't regret it.