1. It’s May in Wisconsin! In the air and on the calendar.
Yesterday was marked by another dramatic change in the weather, where it went from chilly in the morning to hot and muggy in the afternoon, before finally turning cool and pleasant after a series of thunderstorms and hence allowing us to go to sleep in a house instead of sauna (and course we are way cool for air-conditioning, no pun intended.)
2. Here is my sweet baby Evelyn, snuggled up with her Sophie the Overpriced Giraffe.
That thing has seen the drool of many children.
Wrong Sophie, Evelyn! Wrong Sophie!
3. My laundry wars (i.e, “I am imperfect just like you”):
This hot weather means laundry on the line, which makes me very happy!
Clean laundry, on the other hand, goes into the clean laundry purgatory, below.
I think this is a particularly apt metaphor since, in Catholic theology, the souls of the people who have been absolved from sin by a priest prior to dying do not immediately head to Heaven but instead do some indeterminate time in purgatory as restitution for those sins before they can be admitted into Paradise proper.
On the other hand, this may not be such a good comparison since laundry doesn’t have free will, unless you consider the inevitable fact of it getting dirty the original sin.
I call it “waiting for Godot.”
4. A big highlight for my kids today – cousin Penny came to visit!
Penny is the daugther of Jacob’s sister Julia, and she is a little over one and a half. Doesn’t she bear a resemblance to my kids?
5. Tada! Do you hear the sound of that charcoal ceiling crumbling?
Where do you stand on on the gender stereotypes surrounding grilling? When I was a little girl in the Soviet Azerbaijan, grilling was done almost exclusively by men, in part because grilling is an outdoor activity, and women in this secular Muslim country more commonly work indoors. More specifically, in my 23 years in Azerbaijan, I have never, ever seen a woman next to a grill.
This is not to say that it doesn’t ever happen, but I never saw it myself. Seeing men manning the barbecue (pun intended) seemed like the natural order of things.
Here in America things are not much different, although more women grill here than in the Old Country, in part because the grills are so very different and that much easier to use, especially with the wide-spread use of the gas ones.
On the other hand, the traditional Caucasian grill mangal, used throughout much of the former USSR and by nostalgia-filled Russian emigres abroad, is not more than a shallow, rectangular box, and it has no cover or grate. Instead, meat and vegetables are suspended over the coals on ultra-thick and long stainless-steel skewers. The Azeri word for barbecue, “kebab,” speaks for itself.
The meat of choice for such barbecue would usually be lamb, chicken, or fish (namely, the firm-fleshed Caspian sturgeon), and it can also be made with pork in Russia and other non-Muslim republics.
For years I’ve been dreaming of having a mangal grill welded, but since we are not handy like that, last summer I did the next best thing and began to use my 18″ Weber kettle grill without a grate as one after ordering these 5/8″-wide skewers and mutilating them to emulate (gotta love the alliteration) mangal skewers proper through unbending their handle (in retrospect, this isn’t the best way to do it, and if I was to do it again, I would probably buy this skewer set instead).
Notice the advantage of grateless skewer grilling – no sticking & easy turning! Plus, the thick metal skewer also cooks the meat from the inside, which is absolutely perfect since Azeri style-barbecue is cooked to medium-well to well-done.
And so, with a sweet, slightly-charred crust on the outside, and the slight chew on the inside (I cut up 6 small grass-fed rib-eye steaks for these), they conform fully to my childhood idea of the perfect grilled meat.
Now, I have been grilling for many years, but only as of last summer was I finally able to reproduce the flavor and the texture from back in the Old Country, and being a girl, no less. To me this is a powerful exercise in empowerment, kind of like slaughtering chickens or shooting a deer.
This was a beautiful sight – I wish I’d photographed it with my proper camera, but with three young kids and a flaming grill to man (yes!), I just had to instagram it. Stay tuned for the recipe!