Random Thoughts: The I’m Doing Weekends Wrong Edition

(If you don’t want to read this whole thing, you should do yourself a favor and skip down Mini Meatless Monday, below. The recipes are worth your time.)

Once again, we had a crazy weekend starting Friday evening — when the weather is nice on Fridays (i.e. over 60 degrees), Pittsburgh traffic loses its mind. And I understand. Everyone is stir crazy, and everyone wants to get someplace to hang out. I just wish it didn’t seem that everyone else was trying to get to the same place I was. The Crafton exit, both directions, was a mess Friday evening. So Friday night we pretty much ran late.

Everyone survived, although M got a bump on his lip. I’m still not sure how or when. Being the last baby is hard, yo.

We did a church fish fry (St. Philips: fried cod sandwiches, huge and tasty; mac and cheese, very good; pasta dinner, very good; haluski, divine; coleslaw, terrible); an interactive light show in Market Square — check out the slide show; Flora’s in it! — and a late night stop for milkshakes at Eat ‘n’ Park. I’m not sure we could have had a more Pittsburgh evening if we tried!

Saturday, M had his first playdate. We bowled with a little buddy of his from daycare and the buddy’s mom (whom I also know from Twitter). Flora came along; Kate was on a playdate of her own. It was a lot of fun!

Then I kind of threw my weekend off the rails a little bit. I had thought we would go directly from the bowling alley to Costco, but after being at the bowling alley for two hours, I thought maybe M would want to nap. He did not, although he did hang out in his room for a quiet hour; Flora went next door to check out the chickens; and I cleaned the kitchen.

And then Dan came home with a couch strapped to the roof of the Flex.

Saturday night was Mass, dinner and shopping at the Market District — which was a little chaotic — and then trying to get everyone to bed.

And then Sunday morning at 6:30 a.m., M threw up. He ran a fever all day long, and I kept home from daycare today, too. (He stayed with Bella and Tadone, God bless ’em.)

In some ways, M getting sick was a blessing in disguise. We had been scheduled to go to the nephews’ birthday party (I have three nephews born in March), but it turns out that one of my nephews was also sick. So half of our day got canceled right there. I spent the morning cooking, the afternoon with the girls at SkyZone, and the evening hosting my parents for dinner while Dan cut up our old couch. After dinner, we completely rearranged our front room.

It turned out to be fairly productive, actually. Although I still have a pile of odds and ends to sort through.

Here’s the payoff for staying with me for so long — or for skipping right down to here.

Mini Meatless Monday

Since today is St. Patrick’s Day, I was planning, with my MIL, to do a little St. Paddy’s Day dinner for us and the children tonight. The menu includes veggie sausage (there is no vegetarian equivalent for corned beef, alas), potatoes (okay, fries), roasted cabbage (that only the adults will eat), and Irish soda bread. In looking online for recipes, I found this interesting article at epicurious. I made the Brown Soda Bread recipe, and my MIL made the White Soda Bread recipe. I only have about a fourth of the loaf to share because I hadn’t intended to feed my parents — see canceled birthday party, above — but it worked out well.

I also have had this black bean soup recipe in my little mental recipe box to try. My parents, coming back north after a month of traveling in and around Florida, stopped at our house for a visit, and I served soup, salad, and bread for dinner. All were wins! The soup gets a thick consistency from pureeing two cans of the beans and a can of tomatoes; the bread is hearty, chewy, and flavorful.

Black Bean Soup
adapted from allrecipes.com

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 an onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp balti seasoning (the original recipe calls for chili powder, but I used this instead)
1 tbsp ground cumin
4 cups vegetable broth
4 cans black beans (drain 2)
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can crushed tomatoes

1. Heat oil in large pat over medium high heat. Saute onion for 10 minutes; add celery and carrots; sauté another 5 minutes. Add garlic, balti seasoning, and cumin and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in vegetable broth, the 2 drained cans of beans, and corn. Bring to a boil.

2. In the meantime, process the other two cans of beans and the tomatoes in a food processor or blender. Stir this into boiling soup mixture, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 15 minutes.

I put this soup together around noon, and after it simmered for 15 minutes, let it sit on the stove. I rewarmed it around 5. It was perfect.

How was your weekend? Did it drive you bonkers if someone wished you Happy St. Patrick’s Day on Saturday?