Monday, February 1, 2010

Skills

I’m sitting on the couch with Josh watching TV. He doesn’t feel I’m paying proper attention so he’s begun holding up my chin and saying, “Watch it! Watch it Mom!” I made the mistake of singing along to a familiar song and his hand moved up to cover my mouth. “Quiet Mom! QUIET!”. I can handle quiet. I feel awful. Something is kicking my butt and my stomach is ANGRY.

And there’s that guilty feeling I get when I opt out. Sometime around 5 p.m. I snuck into bed and curled up. It’s now just after 8 p.m. and time for kids to bathe and read stories is past by half an hour. Somehow they managed dinner without me. I can hear Michael reading Encyclopedia Brown upstairs and Michael Jr. frying up scallion pancakes in the kitchen. I tasted one and wish I had the appetite for more. Here’s the recipe he found in Family Fun magazine:

Scallion Pancakes

3 cups flour, plus more for rolling
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water, plus more for mixing
1 bunch scallions
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1. In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt, then form the mixture into a mound. Make a well in the center and add the water, first filling the well, then pouring what remains around the sides of the bowl. Use a large spoon or rubber spatula to combine the ingredients into a soft, raggedy dough. If it doesn't pull together after about a minute of stirring, add water, one tablespoon at a time (up to 4), to help the dough take shape.

2. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a ball. Working with floured hands, knead the dough until it's smooth and springy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Shape it back into a ball and set it aside to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

3. While the dough rests, prepare the scallions (teach your child how to chop scallions), then set them aside.

4. Roll the dough into a log. Halve it crosswise, then cut each half into three pieces. Place five of the portions in a large bowl and cover it with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap.

5. Dust your hands and work surface with flour. Roll the sixth dough portion into a fairly round, 1/4-inch-thick pancake. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil onto the dough and spread it evenly over the pancake. Scatter 2 generous tablespoons of chopped scallion on top, leaving a 1-inch border.

6. Roll the pancake into a log.

7. Beginning at one end, wind the log into a spiral as if shaping a cinnamon roll, then tuck the loose end underneath. Use your palm to gently press the dough into a disk. Dust the dough lightly with flour, then roll it into a pancake 6 to 7 inches in diameter.

8. Warm a medium-size skillet over medium-high heat, then coat the pan with 1-1/2 teaspoons of vegetable oil. Use a scallion slice to test the temperature of the oil. If it sizzles at once, the oil is ready for frying. If it doesn't, wait about 30 seconds and retest the oil with another scallion slice, repeating as necessary until the oil is hot.

9. Carefully lay the pancake in the skillet and fry it until its edges puff up and the bottom is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip the pancake, drizzle another 1/2 teaspoon of oil around the edges of the pan, and continue frying until the second side is golden brown, about 3 minutes more. Transfer the pancake to a serving plate.

10. Repeat Steps 5 through 8 for each remaining dough portion. Serve the pancakes hot or warm, cut into quarters or sixths, and if you like, with Soy-Ginger Dipping Sauce. Makes 6 pancakes.


Wow. That’s a lot of instructions. But they are delicious. I’d be even more impressed if I couldn’t see the mess he’s made in the kitchen. He told me it wasn’t such a big mess so I’m going to take that to mean he’s perfectly capable of cleaning it up.

I love to see the kids getting all capable on me. Warms the cockles of my heart. Wherever those are. They get so proud of themselves and I get to feel like they won’t always be complete parasites. Sweet, adorable, parasites. This afternoon Sierra finished up her second apron in as many days and exclaimed that it wasn’t awful. At the same time Michael Jr. was working on an old laptop, teaching himself True Basic and asked me to come see what he’d done. He asked me for two numbers and when he typed them in, voilà! across the screen came the answer to the multiplication problem. He was so proud! Sierra felt the need to point out that we actually have calculators in the junk drawer. What’s the point? He then began to question her need to sew things she could buy. Too bad they don’t appreciate each other’s emerging skills!

Later in the afternoon I picked up Kenny from school and as we drove home he said, “Mom. There’s this Person who’s making me mad”. Uh oh. It sounded serious. He said he was minding his own business at recess when this Person insisted that he was The Father. After listing for a bit I said, “Oh. Was this a girl? You were playing House”.

“WHAT THE HECK IS THAT?!!”

Is this what comes of having a bunch of boys? When I explained what playing House is, he had to agree, that was what was going down. He definitely wanted none of it and explained that all it took to get the Person to leave him alone was to pretend to kill himself with a machete. Well. I imagine the Person is done with him. Oh my boys and their people skills!

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