This time of year, I like to give out some of my favorite recipes. Last night I made my cilantro caesar salad dressing in preparation for Christmas Eve, and since I had an unholy mess going in the kitchen, I made shortbread and some compound butter too. I hope you all are foodie enough to have made compound butter before- but if you haven’t- make this now!
Compound butter is just good quality butter that has goodies added to it, then is rolled and used to top things with heavenly yumminess. This particular one is divine on pasta, on a perfectly cooked steak, over some potatoes, or on corn on the cob. I honestly forgot how good it really is until I made it last night. I was looking for butter vehicles at near midnight. (And now I have to add a mile to run today.)
Sundried Tomato Rosemary Compound Butter
- 1/2 pound (two sticks) unsalted fresh butter
- 3 Tbsp finely minced sundried tomatoes (I use oil-packed, drained)
- 2 Tbsp finely minced fresh Italian parsley (or 1 Tbsp dried)
- 1 Tbsp finely minced basil
- 2 tsp finely minced fresh rosemary
- 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 tsp salt
Let butter soften until it can be stirred into a creamy consistency. If you want to hurry this along, grate it on the large holes of a cheese grater into a bowl. Add all the ingredients to your creamy butter, and combine well.
(Taste, and let your eyes roll back in your head.)
Spread it onto a sheet of parchment paper and form into a cylinder of sorts. Roll tightly and secure the ends. Pop it back into the fridge to firm up, then slice off disks and serve at will. I store mine in the freezer- it keeps well, and I have deliciousness as needed.
The other night, after switching out a load of laundry, I wandered into the kids’ play room downstairs. It’s a small room in our small house, and it has their toys on two shelving units, the tv, wii and a guest bed. There’s a chair and a dresser, and a small wooden kitchen. There’s room to play blocks on the floor, or sit on the bed and watch tv. It serves us well, and I’m grateful for the space.
But when I stuck my head in that evening, I was aghast as the mess. Every toy was in a cacophonous pile, and there were plates, cups and food wrappers mixed in all over the floor. The price for quiet I’d been enjoying much of the day was clear. With some sharpness in my voice, I called them down and told them to get busy cleaning this mess up. Joining them on my knees amid the mess, I started getting madder and madder. Jeffrey brought me a trash sack at my sharp request, and I found my voice rising as I picked up more of the crap on the floor. You’ve been there, right?
When I lifted a bin and saw my doll beds from when I was a little girl broken into pieces, I burst into tears and started yelling. Bean sheepishly said he’d fallen on them when jumping on the bed, and covered them up so I wouldn’t be mad. Too late, buddy. Bean ran and hid, and Abby covered her head with a blanket. I was really, really mad.
I swore. And I yelled.
Bean and Abby both ran upstairs, but Jeffrey stood up and stared at me. His eyes filled with tears, his face screwed up, his whole body tense and defensive- he looked at me and with an emotion-filled voice, said “No! I’m going upstairs mom. You’re being mean, and I don’t have to stay here if you’re yelling or if you swear. I don’t have to listen to you!”
He turned around and stomped up the stairs, crying, as I sat amid the chaos and trash, clutching my broken doll bed. Silence. Wretched, soul-tearing silence… followed by heaving, hot, burning tears of shame and regret.
He was right. In every way. He was right. And he had the courage to stand up for what he knew was right, in spite of how hard it was, and in spite of his crazy mama, and in spite of not knowing what would happen to him. He stood, and he defended himself. I sat in the quiet for a few minutes, stunned and shamed at my own behavior, and incredibly proud of him.
Time for me to eat a big heaping pile of humble pie.
I climbed the stairs, and knocked on his science-poster covered door he had slammed indignantly. “Jeffrey, will you please come out and talk to me?”
We sat down together, and I apologized. I told him that he was right, and that I had been terribly wrong to yell and swear, and that just because I was the Mom, it didn’t mean I was always right. I told him that one of the secrets of being a parent is that we don’t always know what we’re doing and that I was very, very proud of him for being brave enough to stand up for himself.
We both cried, and he leaned heavily against me and exhaled. I wrapped my arms around his growing shoulders and thanked God, again, for this boy, and for the mercy and power of forgiveness.
So Jeffrey’s got a thing for fudge. And by thing, I mean a huge obsession. He and his best pal at school even make it themselves and then trade during school. Now, once upon a time, I thought I had the best fudge recipe in the land- but I was mistaken. Recently, I was given a lesson in real fudge making, and shown the error of my ways- and now I state with confidence that I truly possess the secret of joy. Fudge joy.
So Jeffrey’s eyes light up as he munches on a small cube of the chocolatey, creamy goodness- we ixnay any nuts in ours and just go for the truffle texture. With chocolate on his nose, Jeffrey asks me if he can have a Fudge Stand, in the stylings of a Lemonade Stand, for Christmas. He wants to name his company Superfudge, in homage to one of his favorite books, and sit out by the street pimping his fudge. I had him make his own batch with the new recipe, and he’s even more gung-ho. Would you stop at a Fudge Stand, manned by a stout redheaded, freckle-faced boy at the end of his driveway in the snow? I’m pretty sure I would…
Bean is not a fan of having his picture taken; he stiffens up and can’t navigate what to do with his body. So tonight, when I saw him curled up by the heater vent with a tangled mess of lights, I sat down quietly near him, put the lens on telephoto, and just clicked photos while we talked softly. I never put the viewfinder near my face, and I’m not sure he knew I was even taking pictures- and what I got were magical, tender shots of my dear son. It’s Bean, as he is- relaxed and talking to his mama- and how most people never get to see him. My heart is soft and overflowing for this boy, and I’m grateful I caught this fleeting moment.
That’s right- its time for the Christmas Bath! I first posted about this years ago, but I’ve seen other mama’s on other blogs having fun with the idea now too- I have no idea if they got if from me (such hubris!) but I’m glad other families are doing it. I strung our lights in the bathroom this weekend, and it makes such a difference to the kids and makes bathtime so much fun. For an extra treat, use candycane bubble bath and maybe add a few drops of red food color to the water. I took my Christmas bath last night, and Abby was tickled pink to see me in the tub. Do yourself a favor and turn out all the other lights and have a bath (or shower if you must) with only Christmas lights on. It’s magical.
So a few things happened while I was trying to keep my nose above water and knock out this last quarter. Last Saturday, Bean was baptized. It was only a few months late, but it was his own choice- which was really the only way he’d ever do it. We did some dry runs with our most awesome home teacher, and Bean was good to go.
He was very proud of the suit jacket I scored at the thrift store (so was I!) and even allowed a few very quick pictures.
This is how we rolled into the stake center. What can I say? It was all about keeping him relaxed, and the most important thing was his happiness and comfort. It worked.
He willingly changed into the white little prison suit, and we had the font to ourselves. There was no music, no songs, no crowds, no talks. We had an opening prayer, the baptism (he was proud he did not plug his nose, citing swimming lessons at the Y as good practice) and confirmation after he changed, right there next to the font by our bishop and a good friend. Then a closing prayer. That was it.
The young man who performed the baptism is the older brother of the boy who gave Bean his bugle. It was good practice for him, and he blessed us by being so kind and willing. Bean only ran and hid once, and then got to choose anything he wanted for dinner. He picked Taco Bell. Nevermind they don’t serve English muffins. So we drove thru Taco Bell, then went home and I made him English muffins. I love this kid.
My last final hit the books yesterday. I slept this morning until nearly 9:00 and the kids fixed their own breakfast. It’s 2:00 now, I’m curled up on the couch and all of us are still in our pajamas. I’ve made a pot of beans, some spanish rice, and a flank steak is in the slow-cooker. The house smells divine, pale golden sunlight slants in the south-facing windows and I’m contemplating a scalding hot shower. That’s it. My whole day. This quarter just about killed me, and absolutely killed my perfect GPA. But it’s now under the bridge, and I’m going sit here and stare into space and try to remember who I am. Posts forthcoming.
Abby’s kindergarten teacher told me today that she was a gimme. She knows my boys well, and she knows what we’ve been through- and as she sat with me after school in the too-tiny chairs, our knees up around our chins, and talked about Abby, she looked at me and said “You’re doing such a good job. She’s amazing, the boys are great – I see a lot of kids come through here. You know what’s different about yours? They’re happy. Your kids are happy.” I fought back the stinging in my suddenly tearing eyes.
This teacher has known us since Jeffrey started kindergarten and Abby was a newborn- right when my marriage dissolved and the world fell apart. She’s known us through it all, and her compliments meant the world to me. If I had to chose something for my children to be, happy would be right at the top of the list. I don’t care if they’re at the top of their classes, or if they win the spelling bee, or if they score in the 95% for such and such standardized test. Bean can’t read yet, but he can do algebra in his head and is his teacher’s best helper. Jeffrey is a passable student, but he always gets voted friendliest, and the award on his wall from last year says “Kindest Boy” in gold. These tendernesses in my children might be my greatest source of joy for them- and marker of my success (if such hubris is possible) as a mother: they are happy.