Saturday, March 20, 2010

Pink Rice is Nice

I scaled back the cheese purchases a bit this week, since Mac "Mangeur de Fromage" Mackenzie is enjoying German cheeses this week (he's now left Nuremberg and is in Berlin doing more archival work - huzzah!). Top left is "Le Murol," a cheese which (appropriately enough, since Mac studies German art between the two World Wars) was created between the two World Wars. It has a very mild (dare I say too mild? I, who can scarcely fathom criticizing a French cheese) flavor, but Eleanor and Oliver like it. Iris was the one to ask for a wedge of the Livarot, a beautiful AOC cheese from Normandy which will be giving everything in the fridge a run for its money in about three days. (She looked at the cheese, looked up at me and asked "Is this the cheese that curdled our milk?" - when I answered "yes" (it didn't really, but it really is strong), she said "that's the one I want." Done! The big slab is what's left of last week's Beaufort - there for aesthetics, really.

So, I wondered how today was going to go: rainy day, kids cooped up inside. I use Eleanor's disconcertingly grown-up little face to express my bemusement. (That is such an odd picture, but I kind of love it). In fact, we were all over the place: the marché (getting busier and busier with more and more vendors every week), then off to Sam Textile to buy Oliver a pair of sweatpants (required for his "Circus Studio" which goes on all four days next week!), when Sam was closed, off to the Super U, when the Super U didn't have anything, off to the Carrefour. We had success at the Carrefour and now Oliver is suited up for his Circus studio. Note to self, though: try to avoid going grocery stores as the only adult with three children when these have enormous displays of Easter candy up. I didn't succumb, and they were actually pretty good about it - I'll take a picture Monday and you'll see the temptations they resisted. A Hello Kitty chocolate egg that comes in a keepsake egg cup? However did I walk away??

The afternoon flowed by very quickly with games and various and sundry crafts. Iris opened up a little store of sundries (she, too, looks unnervingly knowing in this photo - what gives?) for which Oliver and I made dozens of bills of "Funny Bunny Money" (the Easter theme is definitely going to be sticking around). She also landed on the idea that she really, really, really wanted to learn to do a cross-stitch with me. Now, arts and crafts as a rule strike fear and terror in my heart, as I am so appallingly bad at doing anything at all constructive with my hands - I lack some key motor skills or something, and everything I touch winds up looking either crudely childlike or gruesome (I got a lot (a lot) of sad faces for Art class when I was a kid in Switzerland - thus why seeing Eleanor's sad face brought back so many memories!). This is the subject of much humor (poor Mac is actually puzzled at times at how bad my drawings or construction efforts are), and also (and this is so dear) much encouragement from the kids: "Come on, Mom, you can do it" - and then even they see how bad my "fearsome" dragon is. But when I saw the cross-stitch kit (for 4 year olds!) at the Super-U, I had to get it for Iris, even though I knew I'd be fumbling to get us even started.

Well, by gum, look what we've accomplished so far! She's done the green and the brown and we're starting on the red of the train! The kit came with instructions (thank goodness) and after a couple of false starts, Iris and I were able to figure it out together. Meant for 4 year olds, mind you, and I still couldn't figure it out by myself. Best that she does it on her own, anyway. I'm so proud of her! She wants this to be either the front of a t-shirt for Eleanor or a surprise for her dad (look away, Mac!). Either way, it's going to be terrific. Choo-choo!

My other major accomplishment of the day was to make pink rice. Eleanor asked me this morning if there was such a thing as pink rice, and when I answered "No, I don't think so" she said "Too bad, life would be better with pink rice." Well, when I saw that my onion and garlic guy was selling already baked beets at the market, I grabbed a couple (what a luxury! fresh beets that somebody else baked!) and was able to chop them up into our basmati rice. And you know what? It was pretty good! It went very well with the brussels sprouts (in garlic butter - and is there any more wonderful smell that garlic cooking in butter? don't think so) and the pork chops with herbes de provence. We got those from the cute butcher who looked at the kids and said "I'll slice them thin" - how sweet is that? They were splendid (and rapidly devoured by said kids). I wish that we could all go the market together, all of us everybody - maybe I'll bring the video camera one sunny day.

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