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February 1, 2003
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By Myself and Toddler Party

9:25 pm: A rather unusual day for me, today. I got to do a lot of stuff by myself, and it was fun stuff, too. First, I got to sleep in after I nursed Jet when he first woke up. I handed him off to George, who was doing exercises and watching a bit of TV, and I went back to bed and slept the sleep of the just.

I stayed in bed for another two hours, and it felt very good after the last several nights. That's the one problem about making up for sleep deprivation. One can only make up for so much, and then it doesn't help any more once the reason for it starts up again. But it was still very nice to just be able to catch up.

Once I was up, John made bacon and waffles, and we had a huge breakfast. Then Jet asked to nurse, and was asleep just before 11! So John, Isabel and I made up a grocery list, and when we came down to who was going to go do the shopping, they said that it'd be fine with them if I wanted a little time by myself! Woo.

So I did. I went and did all the grocery shopping by myself. I really enjoyed it, too. It was a lot of stuff to get but that was half the fun, and I managed to get a few things that were on sale, but that weren't on the list for the coming week. There's a bunch of dinners to be had and we can't be eating out or having Isabel cook every night.

I also had a mild craving for simple chile. Cooks Illustrated came out with a really simple chile recipe that I thought would be fun to make, not too elaborate and not too hot, either. I think it should be good, especially with the stash of bread we have. Plus we have some hamburger buns in the freezer, so I got some GardenBurgers to help use those. I am craving a burger, and the samples that I've tasted the last few years at the Boulder Creek Fair were good enough to convince me that I could go for one of those when I really wanted a burger. It didn't help that in the last issue of Cooks Illustrated that they'd tested a number of low-fat mayonnaises, and found that the Hellmann's (Best Foods west of the Rockies, and I was VERY amused to find the local grocery store carried BOTH Hellmann's and Best Foods) low-fat mayo nearly beat out its full fat cousin in taste tests, and flat out wiped up on all the other competition. So I had to try it, especially since I love mayo on burgers. Mmm... I'll have to t

The one thing that I couldn't pass up was a single, forced, hycynthia bulb. Pale lavender flowers that smelled honeysuckle sweet. All in a tiny forcing pot and vase. I was pretty pleased by its scent, as I rolled it about in the cart. I'd missed getting a paperwhite for myself during the property season, and so I made up for it by getting this for myself. Mom has a bunch of Chinese paperwhites that she said she'd send me a few bulbs for in the right time, so I can use this pot on one of them then. This little bulb should do well, too. It just smells so good, and if I can plant it where it can get some water, it should do okay through the year, too.

Anyway... it was quite the adventure. I made it back a bit before 1 and Jet was out with John and George as they all were climbing all over the Eurovan with the top popped. I got the flower out and held it up for Jet to sniff, and he sniffed, smiled and said, "Yummy!" That made it well worth the getting. John smelled it and said, "Mmmm...." as well, and Jet grinned at him, too.

Fun.

Afterwards, I went in and started making potstickers. There as a potluck tonight, with all the parents of young children at the church, and Isabel was making red cabbage salad, and I had volunteered to do a main dish, and I thought it would be cool to make potstickers since today is the Chinese New Year. Dumplings of all types are supposed to be traditional, so I had fun.

1.2 lbs pork sirloin steak (it was on sale), chopped into a fine grind in the food processor (10 1 second pulses) 2 Tbls finely minced ginger 1 Tbls finely minced garlic 4 Tbls low sodium soy 2 Tbs dry Marsala (or any cooking wine) 1 tsp. black sesame oil 3 scallions, cleaned and finely chopped

I mixed all the above together and put it in the fridge while I did the next parts.

3/4 cup frozen, chopped spinach, thawed, chopped some more, and squeezed dry 3 large, outside, crisp (pull off and throw away rubbery leaves) leaves from a cabbage)

I took the cabbage leaves, and shoved them under boiling water and made sure they were covered for about 30 seconds, or they're bright green. Then I took them out, chopped them finely, and squeezed them dry.

I then added all the vegetable matter to the meat matter, and mixed thoroughly.

5 cups unbleached all purpose flour 15 ounces water, 13 of it boiling, 2 of it cold, mixed.

I put the flour into the food processor, started it up. It's important that it start moving, as with the way most processors are made, if you pour the water in while it's still, the water will just come up and out the inside sleeve of the container. I then poured all but a quarter cup of the water into the feed at the top while it was whirling, checked to see if it seemed too dry, which it did, and then added the rest of the water.

I made a thick, sticky, dough. I turned it out onto a floured counter, kneaded it half a dozen times to be sure it was evenly distributed, and then sliced it into six pieces and put five of them under a wet paper towel. The one I took I rolled into a snake about 3/4 inches in diameter, and sliced about the same width off for anywhere between 8-12 pieces. This is where I'd have to do a little recipe testing, as I wasn't exact. It was more experience than anything.

I then rolled each piece into a ball, flattened it and tucked it under the same wet towel everything else was under, and then piece by piece, I rolled each into a circle, put a blob of filling in. I pinched the middles together and then pleated one side while leaving the other flat and closed off one side, then I did it the other way on the other side, so that it shaped a crescent. And that was one done.

George later estimated that I had a good five or six dozen of the things at the party. I don't know. I didn't count. But it could well be.

I just put 'em together while John went out and got a tire on the Eurovan fixed. George and Isabel played with Jet, and then went for a walk with him. I cooked them as I was able and put them on a cookie sheet. Covered them with foil. They're best cooked fresh, but since I was making so many it just didn't make any sense. They had to travel, too, and reheat, so it seemed silly to try and do it any later rather than earlier. I also mixed up a light dipping sauce, and remembered that I still had some of the garlic, red chile turkey sauce from a while back, so I got that out, too, for the more adventurous.

I filled a whole half sheet pan. Isabel came back from her walk, and learned, very quickly, how to use the food processor for her red cabbage salad. Half a head of red, half a head of green, and half a red onion all needed shredding, and it was *fast*. She enjoyed that.

Then we were ready. We piled into the car, and went to Lisa's house and met up with six other families. Lisa had gotten a babysitter, and so the kids had complete run of the basement with the sitter there to watch over them and make sure they didn't kill each other. It left the parents free to do what they liked, even if it was, sometimes, playing with the kids. *grin* That was a very nice setup.

It was fun.

The food was great. The kids were happy, and I had the unusual task of making polite conversation with other adults that had absolutely nothing to do with work! Eek!

It was very stiff, for me at least, but I could take time outs and go play with Jet for a bit. But folks there were really nice, and, eventually, I got pretty comfortable. Then Jet actually climbed the stairs from the basement and came, first to Isabel, and then to me. He needed changing pretty badly, so John and I double-teamed, and found him to be dirty as well, so we got it all folded together, cleaned up, and he was much, much happier in a dry, clean diaper. He went right back downstairs and played more with a huge table of trains! They had nearly all the Thomas the Train trains, tons of track, and a little table where Jet could kneel and reach everything. He loved it, and we played for a good, long time.

John came down to watch, and all the other parents filtered down, gathered up their kids and headed out. It was a bit past 9, already. Jet was all wound up, but extremely tired. He was yelling, "No!" at George most of the way home, almost no matter what he did. Jet also asked for the light to be on, and was happy when folks turned it back on for him, for a bit.

Jet was wide awake when we got home. He drank his warm milk, got his teeth brushed, and sat with John while everyone else went to bed. Jet still didn't manage to get to sleep until 10. So it may just be his normal bed time. Given that, last night, Jet only got up once for ten minutes, I don't mind it.

I hope that Jet's going to get into the habit of sleeping through the night, with all this activity. It's a good thing. It'll be a very good thing when my Mom and Dad have to watch him at night as well as during the day.

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