Monday, May 14, 2012

The crabby morning fix

I could hear my five-year-old howling at my husband; I just didn't know why. It could have been anything: an insult from his brother, a request to get dressed, Legos that wouldn't snap together properly.

Today, as it turns out, it was my husband's order that he report for breakfast.

"AHHHHHHHHHHH! Noooooooooo! I'm not hungry!!!!!" Tears, wailing, gnashing of teeth.

I found him hiding under the dining room table.

Me, whispering: "Can I hide under the table with you?"

Pumpkin, whispering back: "Okay."

Me: "Why are we hiding?"

Pumpkin: 'Cause I was playing on the computer, and Dada said I hafta come eat, and I'm NOT hungry!"

Me: "Not even for waffles?"

Pumpkin: "No."

Me: "What about peanut butter toast, or cereal?"

Pumpkin: "No."

Me: "How about a smoothie?"

Pumpkin: (pause) "I want chocolate smoothie!"

Okay, then.

So we (very gladly, in my case) departed the confines of the table hideout. Given his oh-so-cheery-and-cooperative mood, I knew that this smoothie would be the sole nourishment the pumpkin would have until lunchtime, so I wanted to "health it up" as much as I could while keeping it chocolatey and 5-year-old yummy.

I mixed it while all the boys walked to the bus stop, so nobody knew about the secret ingredients (except me).

WILD SUCCESS! Crabby boy tried it and yelled, "YUM!!!" and slurped up his entire cup. Hubby and I drank the rest of it happily.

So, here, friends, is my gift to you: morning chocolate. Yum.

Crouching Chocolate, Hidden Spinach Smoothie (aka Chocolatey morning smoothie)

2 cups (tightly packed) baby spinach
3 very ripe bananas, peeled
4 Tbl. Chia seeds
1 cup chocolate almond milk
1 Tbl. Unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups very cold water
1 cup ice cubes

Put all ingredients in a high speed blender (Vitamix or comparable; see note). Increase variable speed to 10, then flip to high speed. Blend until smooth. Serve immediately.

Nutritional analysis (courtesy of My Fitness Pal): Serves 4. Per serving: 181 calories, 5 g fat (0 saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 66 mg sodium, 416 mg potassium, 35 g carbs, 8 g fiber, 18 g sugar, 4 g protein, 47% Vit. A, 36% Vit. C, 20% calcium, 14% iron

Notes: This is a thin smoothie, about the consistency of milk. If you like yours thicker, either replace a cup of water with ice cubes or leave one cup of water out entirely.

The spinach will give the smoothie a slight greenish cast; it's less noticeable in colored glasses than in white or clear cups (y'know, just in case you have green-averse kids).

Also, a high speed blender is really recommended anytime you're blending greens. I've used a standard blender (actually, I blew up a standard blender after making one too many green smoothies -- true story), and they can't quite get the greens smooth -- there are always little chopped bits in there.

I hope you enjoy the new recipe!

Do you have a favorite healthy smoothie recipe? Please share!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mom vs. Mom Enough

Okay, so we've all seen the TIME magazine photo by now.  I ran across it on Pinterest last night, and, boy, in just 24 hours, it's EVERYWHERE.

"BWA-HA-HA-HA," laugh the executives at TIME.  "Just as we planned."


The cover mom, Jamie Lynne Grumet, says that a controversial shot was chosen to "get the dialogue talking" (and, yes, unfortunately, that's the actual quote).  Editor-in-chief Rick Stengel agrees with the sentiment, saying, "you want people talking."

But, really, has anyone who's seen the cover been inspired to talk about attachment parenting and extended breastfeeding in an intelligent way?  Every comment I've seen has been either angrily against it ("Even a cow knows when to wean their child") or staunchly in favor of it (it's "high time" we make "mainstream America less squeamish").

Let's be honest: a calm and open exchange isn't the point.

What TIME has presented is a young, slim, attractive woman in tight, black, Misson Impossible-appropriate garb looking at the camera with an expression that says, "I dare you to say anything."  She has one hand firmly planted on her hip, and the other wrapped around the back of her 3-going-on-10-year-old son, who's decked out in a gray thermal shirt and camo pants.  Oh, and he also happens to be attached by the mouth to her left nipple.

No doubt it's an effective photograph -- it hits you in the gut one way or another, as the best of them do.  But let's be honest: it isn't meant to start a dialogue.  Gut reactions are very seldom eloquent.

Wasn't a gut-punch photo enough?  Oh, no.  Add the utterly in-your-face headline of "Are You Mom Enough?" and you've successfully galvanized pretty much everyone in the U.S. into two opposing camps.

I confess, I was shocked enough to play straight into TIME's strategy and repin the cover onto Pinterest.  Almost immediately, a friend of mine commented that it was "just sick."

My feelings on the cover weren't strong enough to term it sickening.  No doubt, I do find breastfeeding past a certain age off-putting to some degree; I'm definitely in the "cut them off before they're 2" camp, because somewhere around a year and a half, when they're running around and talking, it just feels a little creepy to me. But I absolutely respect every parent's right to do what she thinks is best for her child.

It's a moot point for me, anyway, because the thing that I found most objectionable with this cover was the headline: ARE YOU MOM ENOUGH?

It harkens back to that most insulting of male insults: "Aren't you man enough?"

And it makes me want to say what most men would say: "F*** you!"

I mean, really. What does that (male) editor-in-chief know about being a mom, much less about being "mom enough?"

And what does that mean, anyway?  What is it to be "mom enough?"

Do you have to be a hot, militaristic, breastfeeding-until-they-leave-for-college mom to be "mom enough?"  If I'm a flabby, less-attractive breastfeeding devotee, am I still mom enough?  Or if I'm hot but wean my little biter from my breast at eight months, am I mom enough?  And what if I didn't breastfeed at all?  Does that make me an insufficient failure of a mom?

Exactly what are the criteria?  Is there a class I can take?

The fact is, most of us moms take affronts to our motherhood very personally, probably because we're constantly critiquing ourselves, comparing ourselves to other moms, and wondering if we're doing irrepairable damage to our offspring.

If we don't pipe Mozart into our wombs, are we missing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?  If we turn into screaming loonies when Junior plugs the toilet with three of our best silk scarves, is he doomed to a future of psycho-therapy?  If little Susie isn't reading at a first grade level when she starts kindergarten, will she forever be behind all of the other over-achievers?

We are our own worst enemies, but morning news shows, self-help books, and hyper-competitive moms (think Violet Beauregarde's mom in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) aren't far behind.

It's Mother's Day weekend.  Here's my suggestion for a gift to ourselves: Let's ignore TIME, and cut ourselves some slack.  Because here's the honest truth: If your kid knows he's loved, you are mom enough.

If you've ever dried tears shed over a skinned knee or a broken heart, you're mom enough.

If you've paced the floor with a crying infant or waiting for an hours-tardy teen, you're mom enough.

If you've ever shuttled kids to soccer or a movie; helped with homework or volunteered in home room; worried about a babysitter; thrown a birthday party; read a bedtime story; dispensed bandaids with hugs and kisses; worked a double shift to pay the bills; spent a sleepless night with a fevered child; pretended to be fascinated by a bug, a Barbie, or a cartoon character; cried yourself to sleep; or despaired that you just aren't a good mom: You are mom enough.

If you've done the best that you can with what you have and still feel like you're messing it up, just trust me that you aren't.  Or maybe you are, but so are the rest of us.

We are moms.  We are doing our best.  And f*** you, TIME.  We are ALL mom enough.

A little Mom's Day craft

I'm having no deep thoughts today -- I'm too busy getting Mother's Day presents together. BUT, I'm so enamored of the little gifts that I've made (oh, the cleverness of me!), that I decided to put together my first-ever, one-of-a-kind, limited-edition tutorial for those of you with a crafty streak.

I know, I know, this blog is completely schizophrenic -- food, random thoughts, crafts. But then, so am I. Or, to frame it much more gently, consider me a Renaissance woman. Or perhaps a Jane of all trades/master of none.

In any event, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make your very own "Just Rosy Frame." (This message will NOT self-destruct in five seconds.)


The only skills you need are basic crochet (chain stitch, single crochet, half-double crochet, double crochet, and triple crochet), a smidgen of sewing (to fasten off the roses), and the ability to write reasonably neatly.

The idea for this came from a wreath I saw on Pinterest (OMG, do you just LOOOOVE Pinterest?  Me too!!!!).  It was a lovely craft -- you can check it out on the Thankful Heart blog -- and I thought it would make a great Mother's Day gift.  However, when I visited JoAnn Fabric, I couldn't find a wooden ring the right size to use as the base of the wreath.  They had styrofoam, but they were $5 a pop!  Seriously?  Five bucks for a piece of styrofoam?  Thank you, but no.

Since I had very limited time (gotta get big boy off the bus!), I couldn't go hunting at other craft stores.  I did, however, run across these very cute little frames; they were a great find at just $2.99 each (not to mention the 40% and 50% coupons I had)!  I thought that with some colorful crocheted roses and a sweet hand-lettered message, they'd make lovely gifts.

Was I right or was I right?!

One warning about the frames, though: They were wrapped in plastic, so it was impossible to tell that they do not include glass.  You can always use some from an unused frame or substitute a piece of heavy clear plastic (or cut your own glass to size if you're super-handy), but it was an extra step I wasn't expecting.  Consider yourself warned!

What you'll need:
-  Small amounts of yard (I used worsted weight) in various colors
-  G-size crochet hook (or whatever size suits your chosen yarn)
-  Yarn needle
-  Scissors
-  Hot glue gun and glue sticks
-  Pencil and clean eraser
-  Permanent fine-tip marker
-  Wide, white washed picture frame

So, the first thing you'll need to do is crochet some roses.  I made a wide assortment of colors and sizes.  I won't reprint the pattern here since it's already posted at both Thankful Heart and Lion Brand Yarn.  I will add this, however: Lion Brand lists only three sizes of roses, but truly, you can make ANY size.  The smallest I made (the buds you see) are with the starting chain of 17, but to make intermediate sizes, just add any multiple of 4 to the original 17 chain starting size and follow the pattern from there; for example, chain 21, or 25, or 29, or 33, or 37....  You see where I'm going.  So make what suits you and the frame you're using.

Once you have a good assortment of rose colors and sizes, lay them out on the frame until you hit on an arrangement that you like.  Remember to leave a margin around the photo opening if you're going to add a quote or phrase -- you don't want the flowers covering your sweet little message.

Next, crochet some leaves.  My leaves look awfully dark in all of these photographs (thanks, iPad!), but you'll just have to trust me that they're actually a pleasing shade of green.  I used the pattern from Thankful Heart, but also made up a smaller leaf, as well, based on that pattern:

Make a slip knot
chain 5
SC in second chain from hook
HDC in the next chain
DC in the next chain
3 hdc in the last chain (with the third worked on the other side of the chain)
Then, working up the other side of the chain:
DC, hdc, sc, slip stitch in the last.

Cut the yarn and thread it in a large-eyed needle.  From the back of the leaf, bring the yarn up through the top center of the leaf.  Work it all the way down through the center of the leaf to the very end, then tie it off with the other loose end.  Working it through the center like this will give you a nice "vein" for your leaf!  I used this method for my larger leaves, as well.

Now, add the leaves to your flowers, again leaving room for your lettering:

Carefully move your arrangements off to the side.  It's time to work on adding a message to your frame!

I found that the little photo insert was exactly the right size to act as a guide for my lettering.  You can use that, a ruler, or even lightly pencil lines around the photo opening -- whatever will help you keep your letters neat and even.

Use a pencil to write your message.  My frame says, "These flowers will never fade, like our love for you."  Yes, my heart is full of cheezy goodness.

You could also use a favorite quote (Shakespeare comes to mind), or just leave off the lettering altogether.  This is no wrong answer here.

Feel free to erase (be sure to use a CLEAN eraser!) and redo as many times as you need to get your words neat, even, and aligned to your liking.  I decided to start our message at the left and go clockwise, but you can do whatever is pleasing!  Here's how it looked in pencil (this is a close-up, not actual frame dimensions):

Now, use a fine-tip Sharpie or another permanent market to go over your pencil lettering.  Take your time -- it's permanent ink!

Again use a nice, clean eraser to remove any stray pencil marks.  Take a moment to admire your handiwork and excellent penmanship!

Now that your lettering is complete, put your flower arrangement back on the frame.  Adjust as necessary so you aren't covering any of the message.

Now it's time to start gluing your flowers and leaves onto the frame.  I started in the lower right-hand corner; if you start with your corner flower, it's easy to radiate out from there and you won't have any weird open spaces or crowding.

Heat up your hot glue gun, and be sure to put newspaper down first to catch any drips.

Trim any excess yarn from your flowers and leaves (just make sure you have a good knot in the ends first to keep them from unraveling down the road).  For the flowers, put a ring or two of glue around the base of the flower to ensure a good bond.  You don't want your flowers flopping around or falling off.  Do one flower at a time; hot glue dries FAST.

For the leaves, I used glue on about the bottom 1/3 to 1/2 of the leaf, and then tucked it under or between the flowers.  Again, remember to work quickly and know where you're putting each element BEFORE you put glue on it.

Here's what the frame looked like with the bottom portion trimmed and glued:

At this point, I knew I was going to be pretty happy with the end result!

Now, work on the top left of your frame (or whichever portion you have remaining).

All that's left is putting in a favorite photo!  In our case, I specifically staged a photo of the boys with a big bunch of wildflowers; it seemed to suit the message.

Let me know if you have any questions about the project.  I hope you enjoy it!

And Happy Mother's Day to all moms -- young, old, and everywhere in between.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The eternal twilight of the sleep deprived

If you've ever brought home a newborn, you've been tired.

Really tired.

A next-level tired that leaves you feeling that your feet aren't quite touching the ground, that colors are either too bright or muted to an oddly large range of gray, that even small-talk is being spoken in a foreign-but-vaguely-familiar language.  Exhaustion like that is akin wearing a full-body biohazard suit made of fog.

I'm visiting that place today.

It's easy to forget what that kind of tired feels like, if you've been getting a reasonable amount of sleep for weeks or months or even years at a time.  It takes the well-rested by surprise.

I am a world champion sleeper.  There aren't many things I'm really Olympic class at doing (my other gold medal events are Icy Glares and Synchronized Scolding), but I've always excelled at Catching Z's.

One night of chaos doesn't much throw me off my waking day.  I can handle two interrupted nights without much problem, and, with the help of our friendly local Starbucks, I can survive three.

But throw me off my sleep schedule for more than four nights, and I am one of the walking dead, minus the gruesome special effects and insatiable desire for brains.  It does kick up my yearning for potato chips a few notches, though.

Today's haze of misery is courtesy of our four-year-old.  It all started innocently -- doesn't it always? -- but quickly crossed into the land of absurdity.  I'd laugh, except that my utter exhaustion has left no energy for mirth.

Our young pumpkin sprang a sudden fever on Thursday morning, which popped as high as 101 through the day and lulled him into senseless napdom late Thursday afternoon.  As I tucked him into bed that night, I reminded him (stupidly, in retrospect), to wake me up if he needed anything.

He woke in the night, shivering with fever, so he came in search of his mama.  I wrapped my sleep-warm body around him and he settled in for a rather restless night.

Ditto Friday night.

Saturday he was himself again, without fever and with all his usual energy and enthusiasm.  But come the wee hours of Saturday night, he came looking for a free ride in the big bed again.

He kicked.  He thrashed.  His outflung arm caught me full in the face, and his sharp little toenails scratched the tender skin behind my knees.  Caught between my tiny tormenter and my snoring husband, there was no escape.

I tried to sleep.  Truly, I did.  Minutes passed, hours passed, misery remained.

So tired.  So sad.  So unreasonably angry.

I nudged, and then shoved, my husband.  His eyes half opened.  "Can you please carry Liam back to bed?"  He glared, grunted, and rolled over.  (My husband doesn't sleep walk, perse, but he does act in completely uncharacteristic ways when he's asleep and then has no recollection the following day.  It is not as fun as it sounds.)

Left to my own devices, I threw off the covers, climbed over my youngstger, and schlepped him back to bed myself.

I returned to bed angry and unable to sleep.  No matter, because less than an hour later, he was back.  *Sigh.*

I was sleepy on Sunday, and a little grouchy.  But I did all the usual things -- church, lunch, grocery shopping, stocking the pantry, picking up the house.  I just did all those things slowly.  Very, very slowly.  And I often found myself in a room with no recollection of what I was supposed to do in it.

Eh, whatever.  Whatever was the word of the day.

So I was ready, really ready for bed Sunday night.  And while I don't remember when the wee beastie came creeping under my sheets, I do remember waking -- multiple times -- to those kicking legs and punching arms and feline-sharp toenails.

And did I mention that he has a textural fixation?  He likes to rub any little imperfection in your skin -- a mole, a bump, a torn cuticle, a scratch -- over and over and over, sometimes sinking in his little claws for good measure.  Most days, this doesn't bother me much.  In the middle of my fourth sleepless night, though, it filled me with red rage.  I wanted to plunk him unceremoniously in the middle of the hallway, lock the bedroom door, and hide under my blankets.

No, I did none of these things.  I carried him back to bed -- but he returned.  Finally, sometime around 3 a.m., I lifted him and put him in the middle of the bed, hoping he might torment my husband instead of me for a few hours.  I'm not sure what happened after that, so perhaps my nefarious (desperate!) plan worked.

So today I'm drinking coffee instead of tea.  My eyes are red, and my industrial-strength concealer is doing nothing to hide the puffy purple bags that are so effectively announcing my age and exhaustion to the world.

Days like this, I feel like an old mom.  But, hope springs eternal -- and tonight, I hope for sleep.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Cancer, cancer everywhere

We all know someone who has cancer, had cancer, beat cancer, or died of cancer.  “Survivor” no longer refers to an 80’s hair band – it’s a word for anyone who has received the diagnosis and come out the other side alive.
These days, cancer is more than a disease: it’s an industry. Millions of people in the U.S. send money to Susan Komen and run in marathons supporting “the cure.” We devour news articles telling us how to avoid the scourge, and run to the store to stock up on vitamins and super-foods that may fight those evil, interloping cells.
A decade ago, women everywhere watched Kim Cattrall’s Samantha don a hot pink wig on Sex and the City, and applauded as she plucked off her wig and shared her chemo-induced baldness with a ballroom full of VIPs.
Lance Armstrong taught us to “Live Strong.”  Kris Carr brought us “Crazy Sexy Cancer.”
My own family history is rife with cancer battles lost and won.  “Amma” Stanley, my maternal grandmother and a life-long chain smoker, had breast cancer but died with cancer cells riddling every part of her body, from bone to brain.  Grandma McDaniel died within a week of being diagnosed with adult-onset leukemia.  My mother battled breast cancer seven years ago and is, today, one of the aforementioned survivors  -- and a healthy and vital one, at that.
Yes, cancer is everywhere.  It’s enough to make any woman “of a certain age” a little antsy.
While 40 is the magic number for most, my sister and I have been getting annual mammograms for years now, far sooner than most women bother.  We’ve half-joked that it’s only a matter of time, given our lousy genes.
So when my sister called last week with news that her mammogram had returned with abnormalities, I can’t say that I was entirely surprised.
Horrified, yes.  Surprised, no.
Since she’s a seven-hour drive away, we exchanged comforting platitudes by phone and text.  From me, “I’m sure it’s nothing – just a shadow on the x-ray,”and, “Everything will be just fine.”  From her, “There’s no point in worrying about it. I’m not worried.”
We left the rest unsaid.
We’re both Type A personalities, so when we’re scared, we tend to do two things: 1) Ignore whatever is frightening us; and 2) Get mad.
It’s an involuntary reaction.  Fearfulness acknowledges something frightening, whereas anger implies that you can forcefully beat the scary thing into dust.  For better or worse, our “fight or flight” response always defaults to beating the tar out of whatever was foolish enough to alarm us in the first place.
So we told each other sweet-sounding lies and ignored what was really rattling around in both our brains:  Is this it? The rise of those awful genes?
So today, I’m taking my fear out on this keyboard, banging and clacking instead of tip-tapping as usual.  Today, there is anger, and fear, and worry.
And tomorrow, we will know.


Update, April 16:  Sister is GOOD!  She lost 30 pounds last year, which resulted in her recent films veering wildly from her baseline -- her normal tissue is smaller and more compressed, which made it look like there were masses.  This is something to keep in mind if you're ever in a similar spot!

Friday, April 13, 2012

R2 has left the building

I’ve never been a crafty person. My sister has always been the artist, the interior designer, the girl who looks like a million bucks wearing three dollars worth of clothes and accessories from the thrift store.
When I, on the other hand, purchase clothing at the thrift store…well, let’s just say that it isn’t pretty.
That is not to say that I never try to create art. I’m not bad with pastels; I made some nice still life compositions back in college, and every so often I’ll pull out the old tools to sketch a particularly lovely apple or tomato. I totally get down with Play-Doh, and don’t mind admitting that I can make a mean alligator and a darn cute frog out of anything moldable.
But I’m abysmal with oil paints; those inevitably end in disaster. I have much better luck with acrylics – especially if I can label the end-result “abstract.”
But crafts? Not so much. Evidently, I didn’t get that gene.
My mom is an amazingly talented floral designer; she makes wreaths that make me want to weep. And my sister can create absolutely anything! She’ll buy a table at a garage sale, add some paint or decoupage, and turn it into a family heirloom. Photo spreads of her kids’ rooms should grace the pages of Parenting magazine.
My kids are lucky if I keep the paint off their baseboards and their things “mostly” match.
So imagine everyone’s surprise when I took up crochet.
Truly, it was an accident.
I’m a Star Wars nut, and, happily, so are both my sons. When Waldenbooks was going out of business, I stumbled across “The Star Wars Craft Book.” At 80% off, how could I resist?
Such cute crafts! A Jabba the Hutt body pillow! A tooka doll! Han Solo frozen in carbonite soap!
When what to my wondering eyes should appear, but the holy grail of Star Wars crafts: An R2-D2 beanie. To be more precise, a CROCHETED R2-D2 beanie.
Well, crap, I thought. I have to learn to crochet.
And so I did.
I bought some yarn and a hook and found some enthusiastic “Learn to crochet!” directions online. And I began. My first project turned out to be a handbag; I made it up as I went along, because I couldn’t read patterns. It turned out surprisingly well.
I bought more yarn, and more hooks. I figured out how to read a simple pattern, and made a scarf, a pillow, another scarf, and a hat. Then I declared myself ready to tackle R2.
I wasn’t.
Oh, how I struggled. I made it halfway through when I realized I’d missed whole rows of increases, and R2 was more of a cone than a dome. I ripped it back. I was a third of the way through when I realized I’d miscounted stitches from the start and absolutely everything was misaligned. I ripped it back again. A week later, and after three tries and hundreds (thousands?) of suppressed curses, we had our very own R2-D2 hat.
My 7-year-old beamed with pride while my 4-year-old wailed with envy. (Don’t worry, he got a C3PO hat a week later.) He wore his wooly R2-D2 hat to school on an 80 degree March day, which warmed my heart almost as much as it warmed his sweaty little head.  R2 accompanied him to school, to church, to Grandma’s.
And two weeks later, R2 was gone.
We turned the house and cars upside down while I railed and my son squirmed under the weight of my anger and disappointment. A week of my life! Seven anguished days! And the R2-D2 hat is gone, GONE! Oh, MY PRECIOUS!!!!!
Yes, it was all very dramatic.
The school lost and found, like Obi-Wan Kenobi, was my only hope – but, alas, the Force was not with us.
Well, I told myself, you can make another. Sometime. When you’ve recovered. After all, he’s only seven. He’s going to lose things.
And then I heaved a great sigh.
So imagine my surprise when, tonight, my husband returned home with R2 in hand.
As it turns out, he was at Grandma’s the whole time.
And I’m feeling very, very sheepish about all my railing, anger, and disappointment. If he were a little older or a little more sarcastic, I think my son would ask me if I learned a lesson from all this.
And I’d have to reply, “Yes. Yes, I'm very sorry, and yes, I have.”

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The luck of the Irish

We nearly had a St. Patrick's Day tragedy this year.

I'm part Irish, I love holidays, and my kids are all about magical creatures: the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and, yes, leprechauns.

Each year, we develop some crafty leprechaun traps to try to catch O'Reilly, our personal leprechaun who springs all our traps and taunts us with notes playfully disparaging our invariably unsuccessful efforts. We place gaudily decorated treasure chests where a little moonlight will fall, because leprechauns are bound to fill them with treasure!  They're also allowed to hide them, but if you find them before the end of the day, you get to keep the loot.

Either O'Reilly is really lousy at hiding treasure chests, or our kids are just really good at finding them. I suspect it's a bit of both.

But this year, on St. Patrick's eve, I was exhuasted.

Just. So. Tired.

I stretched out on the bed around 8:30, just to rest for a moment, and woke up late the next morning. On St. Patrick's Day. Oh, crap.

But my husband, who deserves his very own super-hero badge and cape, had stepped in while I slumbered; he carefully arranged the treasure chests where they'd be lit by moonlight and set the traps with the boys.  As usual, we didn't catch O'Reilly, but he did leave the boys some chocolatey loot.

And I felt very lucky, indeed.

I fared much better with our other Irish tradition: colcannon.

Our first year as a veggie household, I hunted high and low to find something good and Irish to cook in celebration of St. Pat’s. I mean, if you take the corned beef out of corned beef and cabbage, all you have is cabbage. And, as much as I like tofu, tofu and cabbage just didn’t seem like a good idea.

Hooray for the internet, because that’s how I discovered colcannon. Essentially, it’s the happy marriage of mashed potatoes and cooked cabbage, with lots of milk and cream and butter. Our veggie version doesn’t have the dairy products, but it’s still creamy and delicious.

My seven-year-old is so wild about this dish that it’s his first choice for every special meal he gets to choose. When it’s his birthday, we’re eating colcannon. When we’re celebrating his new Taekwondo belt, we’re eating colcannon. And, of course, when it’s St. Patty’s: yes, we’re eating colcannon!

So I'm going to share our favorite colcannon recipe with all of you. Colcannon isn’t exactly health food, but it’s definitely comfort food, and sometimes that, along with a little luck and a really awesome husband, is just the thing you need.



3 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into large chunks
6 T Earth Balance buttery spread, divided, plus more for serving
1-1/4 c. hot soy milk
1 head green cabbage, cored and chopped
4 scallions, finely chopped
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Bring a large pot of water with a steamer insert to a boil over high heat. Steam potatoes for 30 minutes or until tender. Remove the insert and pour the cooked potatoes into a large bowl, and mash with 4 T. Earth Balance buttery spread, cut into pieces. Gradually add soy milk, stirring constantly. Season to taste with salt (and pepper, if using).

Boil the cabbage in the pot of water used to steam the potatoes, until the cabbage turns a slightly darker color. Add 2 T Earth Balance to pot. Cover and cook for 2 more minutes. Drain thoroughly.
Add the cabbage and scallions to the mashed potatoes, stirring them in gently.

Serve colcannon in shallow bowls. Make an indentation in the top of each and fill with a pat of Earth Balance. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Serves 6.