Saturday, May 3, 2008

Cooking, Cleaning, Cids

Originally posted Dec 6, 2004

Yeah, the three 'C's uttered by Caiser Wilhelm that started the womyn's liberation movement that still has echoing effects on the world, even today, even under the current administration and the resurgency of 'moral values' (whatever they are ...). Also, whenever one sees 'C' in this email, think not of it as an American 'C' that can be pronounced 'S' or 'K', no, rather think of it as the greek 'X' (khi) which is pronounced 'X' ('K(h)').

Okay, I'm off my satirical social/political/alphabetical commentary box.

Isabel's attachment to me is reaching wonderous proportions. This morning, no, not at 2 am, when they first woke, but at 8 am when Elena woke us all up. "Mama, I need to [Elena's latest achievement not to be discussed on a public forum]; Papa will come with me!" So, Isabel woke up with Elena's announcement (Elena chooses not to announce things soto voce; she, in general, prefers fortissimo for announcements), and launched herself across the big bed towards me, who was already up. Diane, fearing permanent brain damage for her younger daughter (imagine this, Isabel diving off a bed higher than she is, and you can grasp Diane's concern), woke up immediately and grabbed a passing leg.

This did not deter the bunsoh (trans: 'littlest one', this Philippino term, whenever uttered never fails to elicit the concerned comment, "What? You're not going to have any more children?"), who flipped herself around for a foot-first two-point landing and barrelled to her goal. Reaching it (me), she reached out with both arms in supplication: "Ah?" And, from that moment, we were conjoined.

Okay, me shaving solo is a dicey endeavor ... me, holding a bundle of joy ("Dah?" pointing to her next desired object in another room) and shaving -- recipe for facial skin disaster ... I handed off the squawking ball of energy (actually, the equivalent amount of mass converted to energy at c-squared would rather be more like an H-bomb explosion that a squawk) to my dear wife who was in the midst of trying to handle Elena in her attempts 'to help' cook breakfast. Did I mention that Diane hadn't got any sleep since 2 am?

At one point during my morning toilet, Isabel marched off from her Mama's grasp in the kitchen to stand outside the bathroom door, pounding on it with her open palm. That "Daddy's Girl" is focussed, I'll give her that! Elena didn't display half as much attachment during her "daddy's girl" phase, so I wonder at this singleness of purpose. Not that I'm complaining at all, mind you: she let's me kiss her cheeks, she laughs at all my attempts to entertain her, and it gives a bit of respite for Diane. "I don't see any down side here," was Diane's assessment.



Kids woke up at midnight.

We went to the Frying Pan farm (I'm not making up that name). It's not a petting zoo, it's an actual working farm. Today, they were hosting a dressage competition, so we watched a couple of riders perform the same walk-trott-canter and jump routines that Beki practices every morning with Neo. Elena was transfixed, but for Isabel, having just been transported across a windy and cold parking field into a cold barn, wearing only a wafer-thin wind-breaker, it was a rather trying time of icy cold hands and hugging Papa for dear life. So, we moved on to the pigpens and to look at the chickens, turkeys, peacocks and -hens, sheep, goats, cows and rabbits.
Now, Elena is a big lover of pigs, but when a big ole pig decided to attack another one nearby (for territorial reasons?), she wasn't too enthoused about sticking around. So, we declared the farm visit a 'victory' and headed off to sbux for a Chinese lunch.

Yes, you read the last sentence correctly, see, we go to this sbux near a supermarket strip mall that has a standard American-Chinese restaurant. The owners have fallen hard for Elena, giving her a fortune cookie as soon as they see her, and they check up on her. So, we parked at sbux, and Dennis, Elena and I walked across the trickiest parking lot in Annandale to pick up some chicken wings and ho fun and até at sbux (I had a peppermint latte to wash down the MSG; Diane opted for a sandwich from Subway, instead; a good move on her part).

Then, like every Philippino family, we had the obligatory visit with relatives: we next went to Lolo and Tita Femme's house where the whole family got to coo over the children. Aileen, sitting next to me, got a lot of time with Isabel, and Elena Marie wandered from person to person, being suddenly attacked by Tito Mike, her peals of laugher echoed throughout the house as he tickled her. Isabel wasn't sure at all that she liked this demonstration, so she stuck close to me. When she reached for my Diet Coke, I wagged my scolding finger at her: "Not for childrens!" She looked confused but didn't make further attempts at my aspertame-flavored colored water. Dennis was his asked his neck and shirt sizes, so he obligingly walked down the runway and twirled to that family's shocked delight.

It being 5 pm, bedtime for all.



Kids woke up at 1 am.

Diane and the kids were up in time and headed off to the 9 am Mass; Dennis and I went to the 10 am choir practice leading to the 10:30 mass while Diane drove off to sbux to entertain the children. When Dennis and I returned from Mass, we met Diane, who had also just returned.

This was my cooking day, so I set at it, and, to give Diane a break, I had Elena Marie "help" me in cooking the meals. First things first, Elena Marie and I seasoned the sirloin for the grill: salt and ground pepper on one set and Mrs. Dash and spicy steak flavoring on the other. (I wonder, since it has been determined that the "flavoring" on McDo's fries is meat, if the spicy steak flavoring is vegan? -- just something to wonder about, like, who are the people who collect bamboo fungus in China to make the rice wrap rolls of the same; and if bamboo fungus has a flavoring, and if it does, is the flavoring meat? See what I mean?). Elena had a bunch of fun holding out her hand over the steaks to receive a hand-full of the flavoring to spread over and then to impregnate the meat with. I had a bunch of fun enjoying Elena's efforts to cup her tiny, tiny hand to receive the flavoring (her hand is about an inch square), and then to position that cupped hand over, but not on, the meat. Whenever I would demonstrate the proper way to do any cooking activity, informing her that I would show her first, she would watch eagerly (eager for me to finish, I don't doubt), and then ask, hopefully, "May I [do it now]?"

Diane boiled potatoes and then had Elena mash them ... Mike, I think you've got some competition on best tasting mashed potatoes, there, pal. Lunch went off well. I overcooked the steaks, but Diane likes them well-done, anyway, and Dennis didn't complain. At first, Elena ate only mashed potatoes, and refusing the steak, asked to be excused, but after I made some yummy sounds and cut her an Elena-sized bite, she couldn't get enough steak. So much for her career as a vegetarian.

Right after lunch, I set to work on supper which was to be breaded/fried eggplant served with a red sauce. My trick to make red sauce is to load it down with /stuff/. So, I took the water used to boil the potatoes and used it to boil some spicy italian sausage. I took the prepared tomato sauce and cleaned its container with 1/4 liter of shiraz which, along with the cut-up sausage, I dumped into the simmering base. Next up, as Diane asked for clear chicken soup, I took 4 chicken thighs and put them in a big-ole pot of boiling water.

Ha! Chicken thighs for the red sauce and Chicken soup for Isabel. Am I bad or what!

The next task was to saute mushrooms for sauce, so I got out the big-ole pan, put down a layer of olive oil and had Elena "help" me scoop in some garlic. Elena, being forewarned that the stove was hot (I had preheated the oven to bake the eggplant), was very tentative with the garlic. Even carrying her in my arms and instructing her to shake the spoonful of garlic into the pan, she would do nothing more than cautiously hold out the spoon high above the pan. So, I had to take over that task. But, when I got this skillet going, and placed the mushrooms into it to saute them, adding more oil with Elena's help ("I do it!"), she began to assert her skills. "My turn!" after I had pushed the mushrooms in the pan a bit. Then, as she flipped the mushrooms, she would proudly declare: "I cook it!" Should her nickname be 'cooky', then? Anyway, into the sauce the mushrooms went.

And then, for the piece de resistance (that's French for "piece of resistance"), Elena and I set up the production line for breading the eggplant. Elena chose two eggs for dipping ("I break it!") and helped stir salt, pepper and garlic into the flour ("I stir it!"). At first, she was responsible for breading the eggplant slices after they had been dipped into the egg, but after one too many instructional pep talks from her papa after spilling the flour onto the table, and her dress, and the floor, and ..., well, you get the idea, she took over the dipping part of the project.
She's found her calling: she'd slide the eggplant slice into the egg and then flip the slice with nary a splash or spill. Then, that done she would ask: "Ready for the next one?" and extract the slice from the egg, placing it carefully into the flour. She got to the point where she was producing prepped eggplant slices faster than I was offloading the finished product into the baking pan, so she would offer helpful suggestions on my routine:
"Put more." "Pat it down." "Ready yet?"

Great fun.

During this whole production, Dennis took Isabel for a walk (in the jogging stroller) around the block (she promptly fell asleep and slept from 2-5 pm) and I didn't see Diane at all, so she got to finish some unpacking and (I hope) get a little catnap with Isabel.

Of course, by the time supper was cooked (6 pm), Elena was so sleepy she could barely keep her head up (fancy this: while she helped me, it was 3 am to 6 am in the Philippines, and she's still on that clock), so she nearly cried herself to sleep as her own food that she prepared was placed in front of her.

The poor thing!

Isabel, having just been roused from her nap stayed up with me as I did the dishes and clean up the mess that was the stove top. That lasted until 8 pm when she nodded off again, and I finished work in the kitchen around 10 pm.



The kids woke up at 2 am.

*sigh* Maybe in a week's time they'll be adjusted.

1 comment:

Rolene AuClaire said...

Okay, busy papa, I give up. When do you find time to compose such delightful reports on life in the fast (child) lane? I was exhausted just thinking of what all of you are experiencing as mom, brother, and two daughters, not to mention, you, adjust to the time changes. Keep up the good work. I'm going to bed!