Thursday, July 28, 2011

Making Kafta in the Rain

This past weekend we went "camping" with my entire family.

I say "camping" because the event took place at an alleged "campground" in Indiana, which is really more like a "parking lot for RVs and campers." (Question - are all campgrounds like this anymore? I do not remember campgrounds looking like this when I was a child. I mostly remember...trees, and streams and fairly large spaces between sites. Was I imagining this? Am I just seeing things differently as an adult?)

Were it not for the fact that our four campsites sat directly on a little lake, (and they were amoung the only 12 such sites in the vast RV park) - it would have been...really ugly.

On the upside was the fact that all five of my siblings, all of their spouses, all of their children, and my mother and step-dad were all in attendance. This was the first time since my brother's wedding in December of 2008 that all 28 of us had been in the same place at the same time. (Yes, there are 28 people in my immediate family. Fourteen adults and fourteen children. On four campsites. In an RV park.)

It was 97 degrees most of the weekend. And humid. (In an RV park. With twenty-eight people. Come on, you are totally jealous now, aren't you?)

Between us we had two large campers, three tents, one "rustic cabin" courtesy of the alleged campground, and three dogs. One of which is cross between a Great Dane and an Irish Wolfhound. Which means, for all practical purposes, that she is rather more the size of a horse than a dog.

On Friday night, there were a few moments of utter bucolic bliss, as I watched my son and my niece floating together in the lake, sharing an inner tube and laughing, while my daughter and another niece ran off together, hand-in-hand, towards the playground, giggling. (It was actually a really nice playground.)

On Saturday, most of the family spent the morning and early afternoon floating in the lake, supported by a variety of vinyl blow up toys. (Rings, rowboats, rafts, etc.) The lake water was really warm, and there was a lot of seaweed, but it was nice to be swimming and chatting and drinking adult beverages and watching the kids play in the water.

On Saturday began to rain. And it rained some more. And it kept raining. And almost immediately upon the rain beginning, the power went out, so that the two campers and the "rustic cabin" became hot boxes of humidity.

And in the midst of the rain, my mother and my husband and my brother-in-law and my sister-in-law were trying to make dinner, huddled under the awning of my sister's camper.

They were making kafta.

Okay, okay, I know, you are thinking, "who in their right mind makes kafta on a camping trip?" To which I say, OBVIOUSLY NONE OF US ARE IN OUR RIGHT MINDS. We were camping with twenty-eight people and three dogs in an alleged campground in the middle of Indiana on one of the hottest weekends of the year with two normal sized dogs and a horse-sized dog. We were not in right minds.

Anyway, under the awning of my sister's camper, there was smashing of garlic (lots and lots and lot of garlic) and mincing of mint, and then the forming of twenty pounds of ground beef and lamb and garlic and mint and onion meat sticks. (Rather like a meat ball, but longer and log-shaped.) My mother was also slicing an eggplant and zuchini and tearing up two heads of cauliflower, and rolling them in garlic and olive oil and some kind of spice packet she found at the Middle Eastern market (incidentally, a Middle Eastern market is a "suq". This is an EXCELLENT Scrabble word if you ever need it. It can also be spelled "souk", which also doesn't suck as a Scrabble word.)

And the rain kept coming down, and the electricity stayed off, and the guys tried to light a fire in the fire pit in the rain, and finally the rain let up enough so that we could grill the meat and the vegetables.

And everything was really, really delicious.

But I couldn't help thinking that it would have still been delicious if we had been, you know, inside. In a kitchen. With electricity and running water.

I mean, let's face it, making kafta, or anything, really, outside, in the rain, at an alleged campground, is pretty inconvenient.

My siblings want to plan this all-family getaway again, possibly at the same campground, for next year.

And as much as I want to spend the weekend together somewhere...I really wish we could find someplace less...crowded with RVs. And more cabin but less "rustic".

Anybody know of any nice cabins for rent in a pretty place that sleeps 28 people and is within a few hours drive of Lake Erie?

Yeah...probably not.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I'm trying to write a real post, truly I am, but here are some things on my mind:

1. Trader Joe's Freeze Dried Strawberries. This is all M's fault, because she introduced me to them when we were visiting her in Oregon, and WOW are they good. I've been on a quest to get a hold of them for days, and snapped some up when we were in Ann Arbor on Sunday. They are addicting. Like, crack or heroin, but full of fiber and antioxidants, and you probably won't want to knock over a liquor store to get them. (Okay, you might think about it, but you probably wouldn't actually do it.)

2. My son is such an old soul - recently, in the back of my car, Gabriel and Lana were trying to decide what music they wanted to hear - the conversation went like this:
Lana: Mom, please play Katy Perry!!!
Gabe: Mom, no Katy Perry, please!!!
Lana: He never wants Katy Perry!
Gabe: Because I don't LIKE Katy Perry.
Lana (exasperated): What DO you like, then???
Gabe (matter of factly): Classic Mo-Town. And Michael Jackson.
I swear he is the oldest 11 year old boy there ever was.

3. My daughter CRACKS me up, regularly. The other day I overheard this:
Lana (to Gabriel): If you don't stop that I'm going to scream bloody murder.
(a pause, during which, presumably, Gabriel kept doing whatever it was)
(I can't decide if she was being intentionally hilarious or not.)

4. The television show Medium has me completely and utterly hooked. I have been watching an episode nearly every day on Netflix streaming. It's a compulsion, and my husband cringes every time I turn it on, because he hates Patricia Arquette for reasons he has not articulated. I hate having a tv obsession I cannot suck him in to.

5. I just finished the fifth book in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, which was released last month and called, "Sisterhood Everlasting." HOLY MOLY I cried. I mean, serious, serious tears. I still love the series...but, wow, that book made me cry.

6. I am utterly obsessed with a new feature at our public library called Overdrive. This allows me to put audiobooks from the library website onto my Zune in a very easy interface. I cannot tell you how much more pleasant my communte to and from work has become when I know I have a good audiobook to keep me company. It's also really wonderful at night - I can listen to a book and not need to have a light on to read. Our library is starting to get more and more titles, it's a wonderful service!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Thoughts on Asian Skin Care?

Dear Internets,

I'm looking for recommendations on an appropriate facial moisturizer for Lana. She is 8, but the skin on her face is very dry.

I am using Aveeno Ultra Calming on my own face, and I really like it, but since it is advertised as reducing redness (a problem in my very Scandinavian skin), I am hesitant to put it on my daughter - am I wrong about this?

The prescription non-steroidal cream her last dermatologist prescribed was completely useless, and it costs $40 to re-fill. (I wouldn't be opposed to spending $40 if I thought it was helping, but it doesn't do anything. We've had more luck with Cetaphil, but she still has some very dry spots.)

So, should I stick with cetaphil, try the Avenno, or is there something better?

Your input is appreciated!


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