Scarlett of Suburbia

Field Notes from The Motherhood


December 2011


You know how sometimes you want to read a conference talk but don’t know what exactly to read? This is for you. 

Need an uplifting Conference Talk?


On Christmas Crackers

The 13 y.o.: So what’dya get in your Christmas Cracker?
The 5 y.o.: OMG! OMG! IT’S…A…heart-shaped…uh….thingie.
The 13 y.o.: It looks kinda like a silver locket.
The 5 y.o.: IT’S CAR KEYS!
The Dad: It’s a key ring.
The 13 y.o.: Yeah – don’t get too excited there Speed Racer. Just the ring. No keys.
The 5 y.o.: Well it beats the nail clippers in YOUR cracker.

Brussel Sprouts with Maple Walnut Vinaigrette


2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and Xd across the base

4 tablespoons sherry vinegar (lovely tasting stuff)
4 tablespoons maple syrup (use Grade B, yes B, for the most intense flavor)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
6 tablespoons walnut oil (yes, you need walnut oil – do not substitute)
Freshly ground nutmeg
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup toasted walnuts


Bring 2c water to a boil in a pot with a steamer (you can use a colander or strainer as long as the lid will fit securely). Add sprouts to the strainer, cover and cook for about 10 minutes (for small sprouts the size of a walnut) or 15-20 minutes (for large) or until a knife can be inserted easily into the center with just a little give. Note: there’s a fine line between under- and over-cooking Brussels sprouts. My husband is British, so he prefers overcooked ‘like Mum made’. Ahem. The more cooked they are, the easier it is for the vinaigrette to penetrate, so I err to the more-cooked version, but personally I like them ‘al dente’. Drain and return to hot pot.

Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together. Toss hot sprouts with a portion (start with a third) of the vinaigrette. You may not need it all and it makes a great salad dressing too. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with walnuts.

NUTS Toast the nuts 1 – 2 days in advance
VINAIGRETTE Mix 1 – 2 days ahead, then re-whisk before using.
SPROUTS Wash, trim and X the sprouts day before or morning of (if done day before, I think I’d spritz and cover with a damp paper towel until ready to cook) 

LEFTOVER REPORT These reheat beautifully and so make for great Thanksgiving / Christmas leftovers.

Serves 10 – 16 (depending upon portions)

On Lemmings

The Mom: Your generation are like lemmings. Wait – do you know what lemmings are?

The 13 y.o.: Of course. Lemmings. They’re Canadian hamsters who travel south on an annual migratory pattern following each other like little puffs of fur on the arctic landscape.

The Mom: Try again.

The 13 y.o.: Oh, I meant monkeys. Lemmings are like monkeys. You know like how your generation was all “Monkey See, Monkey Do”. Our generation is about the Great Arctic Lemming Monkey. We learned about them on Go Diego Go as toddlers.

On Parenting

The Mom: PLEASE cover your mouth when you cough!

The 13 y.o.: Sorry.

The Mom: Just so we’re clear: you come into my bedroom, ate Oreos and drink milk that I fetched for you so you could remain in my warm bed, your abundant radiance attracted your dogs onto my bed, and now you are coughing, spewing germy droplets of love all over my bed. So could you at least cover your mouth when you cough!!!

The 13 y.o.: And now I’m asleep in your nice, warm bed. So I can’t hear you.

On Card Games

The 5 y.o.: Ok Dad, let’s play the Monopoly card game.
The Dad: I’d like to sweetie, but Monopoly isn’t a card game.
The 5 y.o.: I’ll go first. Do you have a 5?
The Dad: That’s called “Go Fish”
The 5 y.o.: Are you telling me that’s the name of this game or that I have to pick a card?

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