Friday, June 26, 2009
The single most important piece of equipment for dining at a campsite is a cooler. Or maybe two. We use a large marine cooler that keeps things well below 40 degrees for an entire weekend with outdoor temperatures into the 90s. Ideally, if you can manage it, having one cooler for beverages and another for food is the best situation. Think of all the times you open and close the cooler to get a drink. Each time you do that, you let cold air out (or is it warm air in?). If you have a good amount of uncooked foods, having the separate coolers can be a better set up. Be sure to have plenty of ice or reusable ice packs in your cooler. Cold foods must be kept below 40 degrees. If the temperature in the cooler gets above that, bacteria can reach dangerous levels after two hours. Definitely better to be safe than sorry. If you don’t want to take a lot of raw foods that need to be cooked, you can always do all of your cooking at home, then store those foods in the cooler and eat them cold.
Some cooler tips:
Pack pre-chilled beverages (not warm), plus a few frozen water bottles.
Keep cooler in the shade as much as possible
Wash produce at home before your trip
Store raw foods in separate containers and storage bags to avoid cross-contamination
If you are cooking your foods at the campsite, bring along your food thermometer and follow this guideline for proper food temperatures:
Beef, veal and lamb should reach 145 degrees.
Pork should reach 160 degrees
Ground meats should reach 160 degrees
Poultry should reach 165 degrees
And remember: You can never have too many handi-wipes. Hand sanitizing gel is great too – just don’t let the kids lick it off their hands.
Maybe you’d like to have some time off from cooking. In that case, some suggestions for easy on-the-go foods to take camping are:
Peanut Butter (or cashew butter, almond butter, etc)
Don’t forget utensils, plates, napkins, and any other cooking/eating tools and you are all set for a great weekend enjoying the great outdoors. Enjoy!
P.S. As my mother-in-law (a.k.a. the food safety police) says…”When in doubt, throw it out”. Words to live by.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Highlight of the Day:
Today, my two year old daughter (a.k.a. Pretty Princess) decided to put on a show for me. She summoned me into the living room, which is the only toy-free area of the house, save for her keyboard. She is quite serious about her music career, but not as serious as she is about her dancing career. “Mommy sit.” She says, motioning to a chair. “I dance”.
She begins with a little warm up of toe tapping accompanied by corresponding “jazz hands”. She fiddles with her keyboard before finding the pre-recorded song she is looking for. It sounds like Ode to Joy, but instead of regular piano-like sounds, the song is in a cat voice – i.e. meows.
So the music is going and the recital gets started. She begins to twirl – hands on her waist – around and around and around. The song ends and she lowers herself into a deep curtsy. As she does, she lets loose a great thunderclap of a loud and long-winded fart. Unfazed, she then raises herself up to tippy toes, flashes a toothy toddler grin and announces “I toot”!
Sunday, June 14, 2009
When: Saturday morning
Where: By the frozen dinners at the local supermarket.
Mom (played by me)
Dad (played by my husband)
Boy (played by our 8 year old son)
MOM: Hey! Lean Cuisines are on sale. 5 for 11 bucks – woo hoo!
BOY: Can I pick one out?
MOM: Ok. Which one do you want?
BOY: That one (points). The shrimp alfredo.
MOM: (laughing) That’s SHRIMP ALFREDO. It’s shrimp with BROCCOLI in a CREAM sauce. Are you sure you don’t want a pizza?
BOY: NO. I want the shrimp alfredo.
DAD: You understand that if you pick that one, you will have to EAT it, right?
BOY: YES! I love shrimp alfredo.
Fast forward to dinner time.
BOY: Say, Mom – can I have my shrimp alfredo now?
Mom heats it up and serves it to the child. Approximately three and a half seconds pass.
BOY: I’m still hungry. What else can I eat?
MOM: (Leans over and peers into the boy’s dish) You didn’t finish your meal.
BOY: Yes I did! I ate all the shrimp. I don’t like the broccoli and noodles.
DAD: Didn’t I tell you at the store – if you pick that meal, you will have to eat it?
BOY: Well, yeeeeesss. But I only wanted the shrimp.
DAD: You will have to eat the broccoli and pasta too.
BOY: It tastes gross.
DAD: TOUGH. You need to learn that we don’t waste food. You’ll eat it.
BOY: That’s okay. Mom can have it.
DAD: Sorry, but you will NOTHING ELSE until you finish this meal.
BOY: FINE! (Begins to eat. Then gag. Then cry while gagging. He flings fork around, conveniently flicking pieces of broccoli and noodles to the floor) I can’t eat it. I’m gagging. It won’t go down!
MOM: (who has just written a piece on Sensory Processing Disorder) I don’t think he can physically eat it. He’s gagging! He’s going to vomit! I don’t want any vomit.
DAD: He’s FINE. He’s going to eat it. (Turning to son) I REPEAT – you will have NOTHING ELSE until you finish this meal and THAT IS FINAL.
More crying. More gagging. A lot more gagging.
SON: I can’t! It won’t go DOWN. You don’t understand! The texture! It’s slimy! I’ll throw up!
MOM: I really don’t like throw up.
DAD: (turns to son) Then you may go to bed now. (Crying fades up the stairs….)
Fast forward to next day. 1 PM. Boy still has not eaten the leftover Lean Cuisine. Breakfast of banana and yogurt was allowed due to morning hockey game. Grandma arrives for brief visit. Boy catches Grandma up on the events of the previous day and the cruelty of the parents. Grandma thinks Dad (her son) is being too harsh after finding out post hockey game donut was denied. Dad escorts Grandma to the door, assuring her he will be victorious.
DAD: Don’t worry. He’s going to eat it.
MOM: He’s not going to eat it. Tomorrow is a school day. We HAVE to feed him!
DAD: HE WILL EAT IT.
DAD: (Sautees the meal in butter and sprinkles with salt) There is a 4:25 showing of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. If you eat this now, we can still make the movie.
Fast forward to 6:45 pm. Two happy boys return from the movies.
When I'm wrong, I say I'm wrong. Not always out loud. No need to advertise.
Scene that you did not see:
DAD: Do NOT blog about me.
MOM: Wouldn’t dream of it.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
It may start when you are pregnant. You begin misplacing keys and other important items. You are in a state of constant “brain fog”. You attribute it to your current medical condition and look forward to the time when you can fully reclaim your wits and move on with your life.
Sadly, for some of us, this will never happen. Pregnancy Brain morphs into a more permanent state of Momnesia. And believe you me, it gets worse before it gets better….
Things I have done under the influence of Mommy Brain:
- Left my driver’s side door open in the parking lot for the duration of a visit to the supermarket.
- Left my paid for and bagged groceries in the customer pick-up area of the parking lot and drove home. Yes, it was during the same trip as above.
- Pulled over onto the shoulder of the road panicking over the missing baby seat in the rear, when in fact, not twenty minutes earlier, I had dropped the baby off at my mother-in-law’s.
- Poured a glass of juice, then returned the juice bottle to the cupboard instead of its rightful place in the fridge. (easily a dozen times)
- Called to make a doctor’s appointment and could not, for the life of me, remember my name. Or phone number. Or date of birth.
- Was momentarily confused about “green light go” and “red light stop”.
- Left the house in slippers.
- Put salt in my coffee.
- Pulled into a parking space and shut the car off…WITHOUT putting it in park first. It took me a minute to figure out if I was rolling backward, or all the other cars were inching forward. Luckily, my husband was in the car to alert me to the urgency of the situation. I won’t say the exact words here, but you can imagine.
- Dotted my face with concealer and never got around to blending it in. And no one told me. Thanks.
- Most recently, my car’s reverse sensor alerted me to the fact that I had forgotten to open the garage door before starting the car and throwing it into reverse. Close one!
To my husband, if you are reading this – I am NOT a danger to society. I repeat – NOT a danger. Don’t take away my car keys!
ANYWAY, after some research, I felt immensely relieved to see that I am not alone. Momnesia is real – it is not a suburban legend. At this time, there is no known cure. I had hoped to hear that this affliction resolves itself instantaneously upon achieving “empty nest” status, but I’m told this is just not true. It is a chronic lifelong condition.
Things that help me live life to the fullest with momnesia:
- Keep a notebook and pen in your purse/diaper bag and car. I may not always be able to read what I have written, but I think it’s a step in the right direction.
- Leave plenty of time for getting yourself together and out the door. I find I do better when I am not rushing. There’s nothing like realizing your child has a diaper full of thanks and you have forgotten to replenish your on-the-go diaper stash.
- Do not talk on the phone while driving or running an errand. You may not be ready for multi-tasking yet. Luckily, I have a voice activated phone system in my car. My husband understands when I am unresponsive, I am likely making a left turn in a large intersection.
- Shop at stores with shopping cart depots. My old supermarket did not allow carts into the lot, which was a real problem. Not everyone remembers to go back to the pick up area for their loot. If I am able to take my cart directly to my car – I certainly have no chance of forgetting my groceries…or my child…which has never happened.
Scientists (yes, research is actually being done on the subject) say that momnesia is mainly caused by post-partum hormone fluctuations and sleep deprivation. New research is also finding that the area of a new mom’s brain that is dedicated to protecting her child “borrows” from the other parts of her brain (goodbye memory and organizational skills!). I’m on board with that theory. I may have done some ditzy things, but I assure you no harm has come to my kids as a result.
I hear there are support groups in place, but it seems many would-be meeting attendees forget to show up. Or show up in their slippers…with a salty cup of Starbucks…after abandoning their groceries at the store.
My advice: sticky notes, sticky notes, and more sticky notes.