kids (and artists) say the darndest things about elephants ...

so, for my third graders this week, i'm reading ballet of the elephants by leda schubert. it's about john ringling north asking george balanchine to choreograph a ballet for 50 elephants in 1942. balanchine asks igor stravinsky to compose the music and, voila, circus polka is written. no, seriously, it's a true story.

as i read the book i tell the kids that my favorite conversation of the day occurred between balanchine and stravinsky:

balanchine: "i wonder if you'd like to do a little ballet with me."
stravinsky: "for whom?"
balanchine: "for some elephants."
stravinsky: "how old?"
balanchine: "very young."
stravinsky: "all right. if they are very young elephants, i will do it."

seems sort of odd and random, doesn't it?

but i was mistaken about that conversation being the best of the day. turns out the best one happens after i finish reading. i'm showing the kids a photo in the back of the book of the 50 elephants performing the ballet; they're in tutus (yes, even the bulls) and have their front legs on the elephant in front of them all in a large circle around the circus ring. one of the boys raises his hand and asks, "are they humping?" i unsuccessfully suppress my laughter and tell him, "no -- weren't you listening? they're dancing!" and then, not a second later, another boy raises his hand and asks, "are they getting ready for war?" wtf?? "no! they're dancing!"

ah, boys ... only sex and fighting on their minds.


what i made for dinner :: asparagus, mushroom, and tomato tart with ricotta and petite jurassic cheese

what i made for dinner :: asparagus, mushroom, and tomato tart with ricotta and petite jurassic cheese

yumminess of the week 3 was asparagus, mushroom, and tomato tart with ricotta and petite jurassic cheese. well, it was yummy to me + rupert. no surprise the kids picked off the mushrooms and tomatoes (it's a good thing they eat asparagus, even if it does make their pee smell funny). i just can't seem to find many recipes that appeal to all of us; there's always something wrong with an ingredient or two that makes someone say, "ick!"

anyway, we tried to sell it as "fancy pizza" to the kids but they didn't fall for it. the dish is a tart with a puff pastry bottom and a ricotta, egg, and asparagus puree as a sauce. there's sliced cured meat and veggies on top. i also added extra shredded gruyere cheese to the crust, which gave a nice crispy, cheesy, nutiness to the flaky crust.

i think i might make this for my father-in-law's 60th birthday party in a couple of weeks.

what i made for dinner :: white chicken chili

[i forgot to take a picture of my chili but you can see what it should look like at seriouseats.com where i got the recipe from.]
new dinner numero dos this week was white chicken chili. the weather was a bit on the cooler side this week so it was nice to have another hearty meal. because of the kids i omitted the jalapeno and green chilies, and i'm sure those ingredients would've given the dish the wee bit of oomph i felt it needed.

i think the other issue was that i doubled the recipe and it turns out i used too much chicken broth, which made the chili too soupy (despite mashing up the beans as the recipes suggests), so i added another can of beans ... without adding more spices (although i did salt + pepper accordingly). for the most part, however, this is a super-simple (especially if you use pre-cooked chicken), tummy-warming, and filling dish, which i will probably make again.

i served it with corn chips and the leftover cheddar from the shepherd's pie. next time, i'll prep some onions, cilantro, and avocado as a topping.

what i made for dinner :: cheddadr-topped shepherd's pie

what i made for dinner :: cheddar-topped shepherd's pie

i made dinner three times last week and for all three meals i tried out new recipes. first up, cheddar-topped shepherd's pie from the october 2008 issue of everyday food magazine. i knew it was something rupert wouldn't be particularly fond of, but ian actually showed some enthusiasm about eating it so that was enough reason for me to make it.

for the most part this recipe was quick + tasty, but there are a couple of issues :: i must be a very slow mirepoix-prepper because it always takes me much longer than i anticipate to do the veggie chopping; the beef filling is bland so it needs to be seasoned liberally with salt + pepper (it's very strange to me that the recipe doesn't call for salt + pepper in the filling); don't dump in all of the milk at once to mash the potato, unless you want a soggy potato topping. oh yes, last but not least, don't be skimpy with the cheese!


planning ahead

i can't wait to see this. i don't care that it's coming out on my 10th marriage anniversary; i will be sitting in a movie theater on 09.09.09. (see the original animation short that the movie is based on here.)