It snowed last year too: I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea. -Dylan Thomas, Welsh poet
“Mom, it’s so embarrassing! Do you know what he does all day at school?”
“No, please tell me.”
“Well, he’s in kindergarten.”
“Well, it’s embarrassing. My WHOLE class was lined up to go into the gym and guess who came out of the bathroom and skipped past my WHOLE class and all the way down the hall?”
This eldest son of mine then proceeds to go through a litany of infractions committed by his younger brother. “He makes weird noises. He hums. He kicks my seat. He takes my Lego guys without asking. He follows me around at recess with his hands like binoculars. He barks at me with those stuffed dogs. And…he skips!”
I did not grow up with brothers. Brothers, plural, that is. I have a brother. My “little” brother. He had the distinct honor of providing me with a worthy subject on which to practice my mothering skills. And that was just it. I was more “Mommy Jr” to him than sibling rival. And so now, when confronted with this up-close sibling rival between brothers, I sometimes feel at a loss of what to do.
“Just stop it!! Stop it!!”
Hearing the screams and crying from the garage, I leave the kitchen (where I’ve been trying to make and eat a quick salad for lunch) and head out to investigate. Upon seeing me, the kindergartner cries out, pointing in the direction of his older brother, “He threw a basketball at my legs.”
In defense the 5th grader shoots back, “Yeah well, I wasn’t even doing anything and he did this to me.” He then proceeds to put his thumbs in his ears, wiggle his fingers and stick out his tongue. Choking back a smile, I said to myself, “I thought they only did that on TV.” But judging by the way the 6-year old was covering his guilty face with his arms, apparently my children do that as well.
Both boys looked at me as if to say some justice must be done. Not sure what to do, I thought back to a peace-making method my elder son’s kindergarten teacher used to use and I enact my own version of it.
“Okay boys, come here. Closer. Face each other. Hold each other’s hands.”
“Hold each other’s hands and look at each other.”
The 11-year old rolls his eyes and begrudgingly grabs his brother’s hands. The littler one opens his eyes wide like a zombie, grabs his brother’s hands and then, proceeds to jump up and down, over and over, like a kangaroo.
“Now I want you to compliment each other. Say something kind about your brother.”
This is not a new concept to them. During our family dinners on Sundays (when they actually happen) we take turns complimenting other family members. I can usually count on the 11-year old to come up with a little gem about his siblings.
“Come on guys. we’re not leaving til you say something kind to each other.”
“He’s not holding my hand,” cries out the little one.
“Stop jumping! That’s so weird,” the older one shoots back.
Finally, there is a moment of calm and a bit of silence. I can see the older brother gathering his thoughts and the littler one, no longer jumping but still wide-eyed, not knowing what to say.
“C’mon. Surely you can think of something,” I say, looking at the older brother, hoping he’ll set a good example.
“Okay, okay,” says the older one as he gathers himself together. And then, looking deep into his little brother’s eyes, he says with all sincerity, “Brother….your farts don’t stink.”
The little one’s eyes grow even bigger, he starts jumping again and with a huge smile on his face, he fires back, “Yeah, well…..your poop doesn’t stink!”
They both start cracking up. I try to stifle my smile, throw my hands up in defeat and head inside to finally eat my lunch, muttering, “Boys.”
While I sit at the kitchen table enjoying the first of this season’s strawberries, my eldest son walks through the kitchen and I say to him, “You know, you’ll never be in school with him again…in your whole life. You two could grow up to be best of friends but it depends on how you treat each other now. You’re going to miss having him around next year.”
He continues walking past me but I can tell he’s listening.
At the foot of the stairs, he says back to me, “I know I’ll miss him.”
And then further up the stairs, “But I won’t miss the skipping!”
A Strawberry, Hazelnut, and Goat Cheese Salad Drizzled with a Bit of Balsamic Vinaigrette
I have been reading about pairing sweet, luscious strawberries with piquant balsamic vinegar for quite sometime now and I thought it would be fun to try them out in a salad together. Sprinkle on some tangy goat cheese and nutty hazelnuts and you’ve got a salad fit for a Queen….or at least fit to keep you seated long enough to ponder on the intricacies of sibling rivalry and what to do about it.
I also show in the the photos above a clay ramekin from the talented guys & gals over at Olympic Provisions. Last weekend at the Farmer Market, they had kindly given me a ramekin of their homemade rillette to try on the baguette I was carrying around in my bag. I had never, knowingly, tried rillette. If you’re curious to learn more, here’s a wonderful post by the über-talented Matt Wright describing how to make and how to eat pork rillette. Once I figured out that I should bring it to room temperature and mix it all together (as opposed to just scraping the cold fat off the top), I discovered a luscious, rich meaty spread, perfect on a little piece of bread. Thank you, Olympic Provisions!
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp shallot, minced (optional)
pinch o’ salt
2-3 tbsp olive oil
couple handfuls of baby greens
1/2 cup or so of sliced strawberries
a sprinkling of crumbled goat cheese (feta might be good too.)
a sprinkling of roasted hazelnuts (or walnuts, almonds, whatever nuts you have on hand and I don’t mean your children)
freshly ground black pepper
Combine your vinegar and shallots, if you’re using shallots, in a small bowl and let rest for 5-10 minutes. If not using the shallots you can skip the “resting” part.
Add your salt and whisk together. Then slowly, while whisking, drizzle in your olive oil.
Place your baby greens on a plate. Top with the strawberries, the goat cheese and the nuts. Drizzle on the balsamic vinaigrette to your liking. Add a few cracks of black pepper and…voila!
A couple slices of bread with rillette (or butter…or just plain), a glass of sparkling water and with each mouthful of your delicious salad you’ll be able to feel summer drawing near. I realize that that is near impossible for those of us in Portland seeing as we haven’t even had a spring but, nonetheless, I suggest giving it a try. Enjoy….
Rien. Nada. Nichts. Nic. Niente.
Question for You
I get approached, from time to time, by vendors offering me products and cooking supplies to giveaway to you kind people who read my musings. Some of them are a good fit (coffee, chocolate, kitchen gadgets, etc.,) others (Ugg knock-offs) not so much. I am headed to Atlanta next week for the BlogHer Food Conference where I will undoubtedly be hit-up for these kinds of “giveaways.” Because I try to be sensitive to the amount of email that lands in your in-box, especially those of you who are so incredibly generous to subscribe to La Pomme de Portland, I have hesitated doing too many of these.
But you tell me, “Would you like to have me do more giveaways…provided they are a good fit?”
You can let me know in the comments below or in an email or ping me on Facebook.
A New Look
And speaking of comments, I realize my “commenter” is cr—- (rhymes with pappy)….and not that I want you to feel obligated to comment but if you felt inclined to do so, it’s almost impossible.
Well right now, behind the scenes, La Pomme de Portland is getting a face-lift. Part of this face-lift will include an easier way to comment/ask questions as well as an easy way to print the recipes or subscribe by email or search for recipes. And most importantly, hopefully it will just be easier to read.
If any of you have ever thought, “I sure wish Carrie would….” or “Why doesn’t this….work better on Carrie’s site?” or “Has Carrie ever considered…?” or “I would like Carrie to post more about ….”
Please, please, feel free to send me your thoughts.
Thank you so much for reading!! You kind, sweet souls, taking time to read La Pomme….it makes me weep!
All original text and photographs copyright: Carrie Minns 2009-2011