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Cookies - very intense and, I guess, marginally healthy, cribbed from some vegan cookbook at the library

256g/1c peanut butter
1/4 c oil
1 c of some kind of sugar or a mix of kinds (turbinado, evaporated cane juice, brown sugar)
6 T vegan milk
2 t vanilla
2 c whole wheat flour
2 c rolled oats
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
mix-ins, I did 1/2 c nuts and 1/2 c chocolate chips

Do it muffin style, wets and drys separately then together, then the mix-ins. Make biggish cookies that you'll need to shape and flatten with wet hands. I guess I baked them at 375. 


Updated. This recipe might be less reliable than usual.The fake mole the dev team went nuts for.

2 guajillo chiles
4 Ancho chiles
6 cloves garlic
28 oz can whole tomatoes
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
squirt of agave
1/4 c cocoa powder
1 c toasted pumpkin seeds, ground in a food processsor
Dash liquid smoke

Cut off the tops and pull most of the seeds out of the chiles. Open them up so they lay flat more or less. Toast in a medium hot frying pan by pressing each side of the chile into the pan with a spatula until it smells good. Toast the garlic cloves in their skins similarly. Soak the chiles in hot water for about 30 mins.

Put the canned tomatoes (not the juice they come in) with the rehydrated chiles and garlic in a blender. Blend until smooth. Add the cocoa powder and blend again. Heat up a medium-large saucepan up as high as it will go. Add the oil and then the sauce. Lower the heat and simmer about 5 minutes to thicken. Add ground pumpkin seeds. Adjust with salt, liquid smoke and agave. I might have put lime juice in it. 


I am so exhausted. I'm not tired from getting to work before 6am every morning last week, and not from working all day Friday and then flying home late at night, and not from getting up early this morning to work before I led services.

Last week I made 12 presentations in the newsroom. I wanted to give as many people as possible the opportunity to look me in the eye and ask me questions about this new app. It is potentially a game changer - which means that it is potentially very frightening - which means I owe it to them to talk to them in person.

My poor introverted psyche is utterly battered, not at all comforted by the pizza and alcohol team-building night with the app team or my Millennials who need reassurance and advice.

I need to hide in my house, ride my bike, cook for my family. 

Mar. 3rd, 2014

I feel numb. After five weeks of asking for metrics and not getting any on my part of this huge project, they came back on Thursday in a vague, secondhand way. What I have been doing has not - as they say - moved the needle. God, I wish I had known this three weeks ago when I first started agitating for the metrics, pointing out that the data they had couldn't possibly be right, hounding the devs into looking into how the client was reporting to GA. I could have been trying other things, making different choices.

There are so many more things that I want to try, but I don't know if I am going to get the chance. They might just say, forget what you are doing. You had five weeks and you have no metrics to show for it.

I hardly slept last night, and tonight I have to take this red-eye that doesn't even leave until 1am. Tomorrow afternoon is a huge meeting where we have to report on what we did to the big bosses and I am going to have to say, I did nothing of value.

I am flying into this ice storm, and maybe we will be on essential staff only at the office tomorrow. Non-essential staff work from home when this happens. I don't want to work from G's house because his little kids will want me to pay attention to them. I don't even pay attention to my own children, I am so obsessed with this work project. I am actually considering going in to the office and just sleeping on the couch in the lounge instead of going to G's, showering in the bike room. I don't feel fit to be around children.


B had a rough several days. He called me at the end of track practice, that desperate quaver in his voice. He'd had $60 stolen from his wallet. "I was going to take it to the bank to deposit it," he said.

"Just come home," I said. "It happens." I wanted to give him $60, but I know that in life, when you lose money you lose it, and your mom is not standing there to make it better.

It does. "I'm not carrying any cash any more ever," he said, and a few days later an envelope from Clipper showed up in the mailbox with his name on it. It's a card to pay for BART and the bus.

Then he came home late from the park. "I've been looking for my headphones for the last two hours!" he said. He has (or had) very nice bluetooth earbuds that everyone in my family pooled money to buy for him for Christmas. They are really, really nice, and he had them in his bag - along with the phones of all the guys he was hanging out with. They kept going in and out of his bag all day long, and somewhere his expensive bluetooth headphones fell out.

I was surprised. All through elementary school, B never lost a jacket or a lunchbox. He's had his iPod Touch for a year and a half and never misplaced it. I had no misgivings about him having these headphones because I had total confidence that he would not lose them.

These headphones are also important because they are our compromise at bedtime. I don't want him to have anything in his room that can connect to the internet, including his iPod. He wants to listen to podcasts as he falls asleep. The compromise is that the iPod stays in the dining room and he can listen on his bluetooth.

Now they are gone. "What did I do wrong?" he asked. He got that crazy, teary look in his eye. "What did I do wrong?"

Many, many, many times I wanted to say, "I'll just buy you more." I am making a ton of money these days, and more bluetooth headphones would not be a big deal. He is so distressed and I could make him feel better so, so easily. But I know that in life, when you lose something, your mom is not right there to buy you another one.

Even more, I know that buying him another one sets up the expectation that there might be someone who will just fix it for you when things don't go your way. There are plenty of young people in our office who act like that. They had parents like me, who had the means to just make it better any time something went wrong. They act entitled to accommodations they don't deserve. They expect everyone else to rearrange for them. Right here, at 14 years old, I see where that comes from and I'm not going to do it. Not even if it would be so easy for me to make B feel so much better with so little effort from me. 


I walked in the house this afternoon and said, "I have to--"

"Don't say 'work.'" B said.

"Work," I said.

It's all I've been doing lately, every evening and seven days a week. I have never worked this much before in my life, I don't think. When I was on the desk, at least I had weekends off. Now it's relentless and constant. I don't feel like it's a drag, though, because I have never been this challenged in my life. I'm making program now, thinking about how it can be done in the future, constructing a system that is flexible enough that, when I am done, someone who is a more creative thinker can come in and make it even more beautiful.


"Wait, Ima, how do you crack an egg?" B asked. He was totally serious.

"How do you crack an egg?" I said back, as if he were the stupidest person on the planet. Yesterday I showed him how to make scrambled eggs (a little water, whisk well, super hot pan, have your plate ready, take them out before they are fully cooked) and he wanted to make them for himself today.

"Yeah, I mean, what do you do?" he held the egg in his hand awkwardly.


If you cook with kids, the thing you have them do after they have mastered dumping and stirring is crack the eggs. B did a lot of cooking with me, graduated to knives and food processors and the stovetop, but never had occasion to crack an egg because I never taught him to cook something he wasn't going to eat.

I showed him with one egg: flat surface, split it open, save the shell to feed back to the chickens. He took the other one and hit it against the counter. I said, "It has to crack more." He hit it again, then turned it so the crack faced up and started to dig his index fingers into the crack. "Wait, no, put your thumbs in and turn it over so it falls into the bowl," I said. He was doing it so wrong, it was comical. It was like he was a feral child, with no idea how society worked, trying to figure out what a flush toilet was for.


Both B and R have been asking me how to make an over-easy egg. "You need to ask Grandpa to teach you," I tell them both. The other night when I was frying eggs R asked again, "Can I do the part where you cut the whites?" "No," I said. "If you want to learn to make eggs, you need to talk to Grandpa."
The baby chicks came on Monday. It's been a long time since we've had them, and I had absolutely forgotten how delicate and vulnerable they are. Every part of them is fragile, and I could so easily crush one by just picking her up. We always lose a few, and when they die their bodies seem to collapse as if all of their volume was air.

R gets so worried about the ones who look like they might not make it. I wonder how she thinks about what is going to happen to the ones that live. 


A lot of the conflict with B comes at the dinner table because that's the only place where all four of us are present. I don't want to give up on family dinner, even if he makes it miserable, because family dinner has always been the basic touchstone of our family.

B is aggressive about every part of it, including when we start to eat. We used to serve ourselves all of the dishes, then someone would say a blessing, then we all would eat. Now, as soon as everyone has some tiny bit of food on their plate, B spits out the blessing and dives in, even if nobody else is ready to eat.

But ... he says the blessing. He could just start eating, but he doesn't. The blessing is still there, hurried and aggressive, but it does not occur to him to leave it out.

I am going to claim this as a small success of parenting, no matter how small.

Feb. 8th, 2014

Later yesterday afternoon, E said, "I think you are singing tomorrow morning."

"That's next week," I said. We had the rehearsal for the Bat Mitzvah on Wednesday. It wasn't as unpleasant as I was led to believe it might be.

"No, it says right here that you are singing tomorrow, too." E pointed at the calendar.

Usually if I am going to lead on Saturday morning at the synagogue I will practice. If it's a big event, I'll sing all week. If it's a smaller service, I'll just sing it through on Friday. (If I am leading at the havurah, I plan all week because I want to make it special. At the synagogue, I'm just following one of the rabbis so I don't have to be as prepared.)

I should sing it through, I thought, but I was more interested in cooking a nice dinner for our guests and I never got around to it.

I didn't sing particularly well, by which I mean I could tell that my voice was not as clear as it could be. I also fumbled a little of the Hebrew. It was fine. In fact, I felt really good about it, even though I could have done so much better. I was very relaxed on the bima and I felt like the rabbi and I were communicating well.

Also, I guess, I stress out way more when I am less than perfect at the havurah. I care more about the good opinion of that small group, I think, than I do about the people in the bigger congregation. I am more invested there, and I am more concerned about my longterm reputation.


I want to listen to new music but I don't want to put in the effort to go out and look for some. This isn't a call for suggestions; it's just a statement of my longing and apathy on this particular subject. I am not generally apathetic these days, but about music I am.

Maybe I just have too much else going on in my brain, and music is supposed to be a place where my brain is refreshed, not challenged. 

Feb. 5th, 2014

E: (at the dinner table) Who are you going to the gym with?

B: Rapists! Who are going to rape me in the locker room! A lot of rapists! R, do you even know what rapists are?! You don't! I am going to the gym with RAPISTS!!

... and the translation from teenager speak is, I guess, is: I don't want to have to justify my relationships to you.

He's also making a statement about E's relationship with R here, too. E is very protective of R. I think she should be able to walk a block to the school bus stop herself and E thinks it's dangerous.

So this was actually an incredibly layered and astute commentary on the issues and dynamics in our family. B is trying to push back at what he views as E's interference in his independent social life. He's making fun of R for being an innocent and showing of his superior knowledge of the world. He is needling E for being overprotective of R. He's trying to drive a wedge between me and E in our dispute over R's independence.

If only he could be that perceptive and not scream R A P I S T at the dinner table. 


surlygirl and elsewhereangel asked about a recipe for the mushroom stew. I can't remember exact measurements, but with this dish I don't actually think they are important.

1.5-2 lbs Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and cut in 1/2 inch pieces
2-2.5 lbs White mushrooms, cleaned and cut in 1/2 inch pieces
2 onions diced, plus another onion
2 heads garlic
handful dried mushrooms
bay leaf
rosemary and more rosemary
white beans, soaked overnight
1 can tomato paste

First, start the mushroom stock. Snap off the stems of all of the fresh mushrooms and put them in water with the trimmed ends of the onions, another onion, a head of garlic cut across on the equator, a handful of dried mushrooms,bay leaf, a lot of rosemary, peppercorns and a carrot.

Separately, cook the beans with the other head of garlic and more rosemary tied up in a cheesecloth.

Start sauteeing the onions and mushrooms in a big dutch oven in batches with a little salt. You really don't want to crowd the mushrooms or they will just boil in the water the give off. You want to get a good golden brown sear on many of them. With them, add a little finely chopped rosemary to each batch as you sautee. Pepper right before you finish each batch.

When everything is done, add all the batches of onion and mushroom back to the dutch oven, along with the cooked drained beans and enough of the mushroom stock to get it wet and stewlike. Add the tomato paste and work it all together. Simmer it on the stovetop or in the oven. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. You might want to add some lemon juice or a little sweet.

It's good over any starch - kasha, mashed potatoes, rice, a big slab of toast. Add a simple salad (lettuce is good, but a shredded celery root salad would be great and more wintery).

I hope I remembered that right enough. I should document as I cook. I have said that so many times, I don't know why I don't do it.


We had a big, all-day event at the havurah yesterday. Working with two other women, I made this beautiful, abundant meal. I was so happy with the way it turned out and the process we used. We picked a theme (Mediterranean) and each made a main dish and a side dish. I went all south of France (mushroom and white bean stew with rosemary over rice, roasted winter squash with rosemary oil, sourdough rolls), one of the other women went Greek (salad and moussaka), and the third leaned more in the direction of the Levant (cold poached fish, tabbouleh salad). It was a perfect mix of crisp and luscious, herbs and garlic, hot and cold.

Another group of people planned dessert together. I asked not to be on their email circus, so I didn't know what they would have until it went out on the table. It was really disappointing. There were two fruit salads, a yogurt and berries thing, a big plate of underbaked blondies, a dry gluten-free cake and gluten-free almond chocolate cookies. I am all for having gluten-free options (my dinner was gluten-free and vegan) but it's really hard to make gluten free things that are satisfying to people who are used to eating wheat flour desserts. Looking at the lineup, it just felt thin. There needed to be some solid cake or cookie option, possibly made with butter and sugar and eggs, to make that dessert selection feel filled out and generous. 


I really need to sing today.

My head is thrumming with this huge and complicated project I have to pull together at work. Other companies deploy millions of dollars, years and years, and many, many people to do their version. This is on me. I can do it.

But I need to walk away from it for today. I need to clear my head with music I already know and love.


I went into the bathroom after lunch to fix my lipstick. There were two women already in there, brushing their teeth. I was so embarrassed that my postlunch grooming was so superficial. 

Jan. 24th, 2014

I bought two bras that are B cups. They fit perfectly and make me look great. I have not worn bras this small since high school. "I miss your boobs!" E said to me the other day. Right after B was born, I had a nursing bra that was an H cup. I had no idea that bras got that big. One of many, many things I never, ever thought was possible until I had children. Including the possibility that I would not have big breasts in my 40s.


I have a hundred miscommunications a day with this app development team, but one in particular stuck out today. I was talking to the lead developer. I love talking to her because she is so smart, and so prone to saying something about some detail buried deep in the code that helps me figure out even more amazing things we might be able to do. Also, we are two women in our 40s in a team mostly made of men in their late 20s and 30s. It gives us a level of professional assuredness with the higher-ups that much of the team lacks.

This misunderstanding has nothing to do with professional assuredness or higher-ups.

I was asking her to make a change in the directions so that the computer would pick pieces that are shorter and have higher ratings. "Make the max duration one twenty," I said. "Maybe one twenty five. And set the rating at 5.5."

"But that won't get shorter pieces if the max duration is one twenty and you up the rating," she said. "You will still get long pieces."

"No I won't," I countered. "The max duration should be set at one twenty."

We went around like this several times ... until we realized that when I say "one twenty" I mean one minute and twenty seconds, and when she says "one twenty" she means a hundred and twenty minutes. This particular part of the machine can't even calculate in increments less than a minute, so it never even occurred to her that I was asking for minutes and seconds. It never occurred to me that you would have a system that would not consider seconds.

We laughed. because we are old enough to be amused by the vast differences between our two professions and yet delighted to be working on this project together.



I am not an adorn-er. I wear a wedding ring on my left hand and a silver band with copper gears on my right. That's it for jewelry. I have not worn earrings since the mid-1990s and haven't put on a necklace since I was a teenager. However, R has succumbed to the lure of the Rainbow Loom and she used it to make me a bracelet out of orange, green and white rubber bands. Today as I work, it keeps catching my eye. I can't believe how beautiful and feminine it makes my wrist look. It makes me love the way my hand looks when I move it. I am shocked at myself. 


As I was finishing cooking last night, B started getting agitated. "I need to see my RAST test!" he spat our. "Where is my RAST test? What did I get on egg on it?"

"I don't know," I told him. "Mom has your RAST test results online and she isn't here yet."

The RAST test is a blood test for food allergies. It's more accurate than the scratch test but it isn't particularly accurate. His number on almonds, for example, is high, but he's always eaten almonds just fine. He gets a RAST test every year, and you look at his score this year and compare it to last year on each food. If it's gone down a significant amount, you try it. His milk was down a lot this year, but when I snuck some yogurt in a smoothie, he felt bad right away.

I was making crunchy potatoes for dinner, and that means over-easy eggs for me and E and R, tofu with fresh turmeric for B. This is one of our favorite dinners. B has always seemed happy with the tofu. He hadn't mentioned anything to me about wanting to try egg, but when E came in the door he accosted her and shoved the computer at her.

"What is this?" he exclaimed. "I'm not allergic to almonds! Where is the egg? Why is there egg white? What am I supposed to do with this?" He jumped around the kitchen.

"Do you want me to make you an egg or not?" I asked.

"Do it," he said.

"I'm going to put it on a separate plate."

I had exactly six eggs - two for E, two for me, one for R and the one for B. I make great over-easy eggs. I learned how from my dad. My brother makes great eggs, too. It's a family tradition, and I made this egg for B as beautifully as I know how.

At the table, B looked at the little plate with the egg. "How are you supposed to eat this thing?" he asked.

"Break open the yolk and get some of it on a piece of potato," I told him. These are eggs from our chickens, with yolks so gold they are orange. they are thick and creamy and so deep as superior to grocery store eggs as a homemade cake is to a Twinkie.

"Oh my god, what IS that!" he said after he tasted it.

I can't imagine eating my first over easy egg at the age of 14. B's palate is fully developed and sophisticated. He knows how to taste subtle nuances and he has a good sense of when flavors are unbalanced. I can't imagine what it was like for him to eat a perfectly-cooked over-easy egg laid by a backyard chicken.

I ate my own eggs, trying to taste them as B must be, with all of the happy eating noises he was making. "How is this so delicious?" he asked. "What does this taste like?"

It tastes like nothing B has ever eaten before. He felt fine, but he didn't finish the egg either.

"Just eat that one little bit," I told him.

"What is it?" he asked.

"It's a little bit of yolk cooked into the white, but the yolk is still soft," I said. "It's the best little bit."