Thursday, February 26, 2015

Will You Go Out With Me: Doing Donuts

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2015 at 9:00 AM

Angela on the frozen lake
  • Angela on the frozen lake

I don’t need to tell you that it’s been a rough winter. The fact that I was outside two minutes ago breaking up some of the ice in our driveway — just because I can —  says it all. I will leave my children unattended (or iPad-attended) so that I might sneak away for five minutes and beat up on some ice because it’s finally showing signs of melting. It’s been that kind of winter.

Which makes our latest date locale both totally questionable and completely perfect. I guess we figured, if the cold and ice and unrelenting awfulness of this winter are all around us, let’s find a way to make it fun. And did we ever…

We received a tip from a friend of a friend that there’s an actual race course, plowed and maintained by the Sports Car Club of Vermont, on Malletts Bay. Yes, ON the bay. As in, on the lake, driving on top of water. Because, as we know, it’s possible for an entire lake to freeze when it's this ridiculously cold.

I grew up in Vermont, but have somehow never driven on a frozen lake before. Ryan — my Texan husband — had always wanted to do this thing that sounds stupid and impossible, so the date was perfect: New to both of us, way outside our joint comfort zone, and easily accomplished in a couple of hours.

I feel the need to preface this by saying that I sincerely hope I’m not giving away some well-guarded secret here. The intel we received advised us that, should we encounter any other drivers on the course, it would be cool to ask them if they could point out the people who do the plowing and to kick those guys ten or twenty bucks for their hard work.

Our source ended his email with, “Don’t forget a shovel and, if you have one, a tow rope.”  
Here we go!
  • Here we go!

With that, we headed north on Route 127 to Colchester. We turned into the public boat launch off of West Lakeshore Drive and just kept driving. It was the strangest feeling — even though there was total continuity of surface from the parking lot onto the lake, Ryan and I paused and looked at each other all "Thelma and Louise"-like.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Home Cookin': Pot Pie

Posted By on Wed, Feb 25, 2015 at 8:00 AM

Folks who know me know that I really love pie. Because of my obsession, we have it fairly often at our house including once or twice for breakfast during blueberry season. But while I’ll use just about any excuse to make one and feed it to my family, I do have my limits. Pie for dinner is just not something I feel a nutritionally responsible parent can serve.

Unless of course it’s a hearty, bubbly pot pie full of healthy ingredients with a crispy, golden, flaky crust! I’ve been making a version of this dish for years, and it’s evolved over time to include bits of several different recipes. Until recently, I always made it with a traditional pastry crust — delicious, but also labor-intensive.

While browsing through pie recipes on the cooking website food52 the other day, I came across a photo of a sweet pie with a crust made of phyllo dough and decided to try it out with our chicken pie that night.

It was a smash. The phyllo is surprisingly easy to work with, as long as you have your melted butter ready and move quickly to assemble it. This recipe can be made three ways. Use chicken and chicken stock, sub tofu and veggie stock for a vegetarian version, or leave out the tofu and just up the amount of veggies if you want to skip the meat but your family isn’t into tofu (like mine).

Pie for dinner? Yes!

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Roots and Wings: Re-Entry

Posted By on Wed, Feb 18, 2015 at 9:06 AM

Jessica in front of Lake Champlain, adjusting to the cold
  • Jessica in front of Lake Champlain, adjusting to the cold
Roots and Wings is a follow-up to Jessica Lara Ticktin's blog series On the Fly: Homeschooling Adventures Around the World, in which she chronicled her family's recent four-month international adventure. In this new series, she'll explore her family's efforts to incorporate what they learned from their trip into their daily life in Vermont. 

Was it all just a dream? Sometimes this thought penetrates my foggy brain when the alarm goes off on a frigid winter morning, and I dive into the chaos of getting sleepy children up, making lunches and rushing out the door.

Weren’t we just in Israel? In Jordan? Cape Town? Waking up to the sun streaming in through the window, enjoying a leisurely breakfast all together before settling into our homeschooling projects?

I am happy to be back home in Vermont yet I also still yearn to be away. If not geographically, then at least psychologically and spiritually. Recently, I head the phrase "roots and wings,"  and this really captures how I am feeling. I have my feet firmly planted on the ground here in Vermont, with an amazing community of friends, but I harbor the desire to fly away to new places. I have roots and wings at the same time. 

During our four-month trek around the world last fall, my family of five (we welcomed number six on January 28!) slowed our pace, listened to the rhythm of our bodies, made each decision, big or small, with intention.

Going on a trip is easy. The hard part is coming home, figuring out how to incorporate the changed person you are into an unchanged routine.

In those first few weeks back, I drove around Burlington more slowly. I was more patient with every aspect of the day. As the weeks went by, this became difficult to maintain. The children plunged into school life and activities as if they had never left.

Yet when Friday came, they were tired, and we all felt aware of how we had scattered like seeds in all directions during the week.

We don’t want to lose the closeness we’d established during out trip. So we have implemented some new rituals. We now ring our peace bell from Hiroshima when it’s dinner time or when we have a family meeting. The girls help cook, set the table and clean up, as they did on our trip.

But it’s not quite as idyllic as it sounds. I have to remind the girls about these chores more now and they’re less happy about them.

As a family we still feel close, but now I recognize that when you take children out of their comfort zone — as we did for four months — they naturally stand closer to you, take less for granted and are grateful for the small things they receive.

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Get Out! Four Ways for New Parents to Spend Time Outside

Posted By on Mon, Feb 16, 2015 at 9:00 AM

Sarah with baby Elise. - TRISTAN VON DUNTZ
  • Tristan Von Duntz
  • Sarah with baby Elise.
A new baby doesn’t necessarily mean your outdoor adventures are over. This is the first post in a new series about getting fresh air and exercise after the arrival of your little one.

I was delusional while I was pregnant. First, I thought that putting our baby to sleep would entail laying her in her crib, kissing her goodnight and going back to making dinner or watching movies or doing whatever it is that perfectly rested new parents do.

My second delusion was that I would be right back on skis, not missing a beat since last winter. I even stood in our kitchen at eight months pregnant and told my partner, “While we’re on leave, all that’s going to be on our agenda is eating good food and skiing.” It was going to be awesome, like an epic ski vacation, just with a new little baby around. I don’t know where I thought the baby was going to fit into this picture.

You’re probably rolling your eyes at this point. Hopefully you’re still reading. I assure you that I’m sane, and I have learned a lot since those naive days.

Our beautiful baby girl, Elise, is now 3 months old. We’re skiing, but it takes way more effort than I ever imagined. I'm mostly doing flat-terrain cross-country ski tours, with Elise in a carrier. Or my partner and I are taking turns heading to the resort or into the backcountry on our own. In all of those scenarios, there's been a steep learning curve.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Home Cookin': Key Lime Pie

Posted By on Wed, Feb 11, 2015 at 9:29 AM

  • Sam Simon
If you’re anything like me, you’ve been spending some time gazing longingly at the tropical vacation pics of your Facebook friends. It’s warm and sunny somewhere, but it’s still the deepest part of winter here in Vermont.

My mom and stepdad spend most of each winter in Florida. We haven’t made the trip south since our son Cal, now 7, was a toddler. This year I’m lucky enough to be taking all three kids to visit them over February break. That's not so far away, but after weeks of sub-zero temperatures, snow and ice, I need a dose of island sunshine ASAP! What to do?

For me, the answer lies in dessert. What could be sunnier than a key lime pie? I ate my first-ever piece at a beachside restaurant on the last trip we made to the Gulf Coast years ago and it was amazing — tart, sweet, smooth and oh-so-tropical, with a buttery graham cracker crust. I never thought about making my own until I saw Deb Perelman’s version while checking in on her Smitten Kitchen blog the other day. Baking and eating one seemed like the perfect antidote to the winter blues, and it was.

You could make one this weekend and invite some friends over for dessert. Everyone could use a little vacation in February, even if it is only in pie form!

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