Boys: Demented & Dangerous,  Let's Eat: Meals and Recipes

What $5 Gets You

I had several boring chores that I’d been putting off and twins clamoring to earn money, so I handed out assignments.  Two glass marbles stuck in the kitchen drain– they’d fallen there when we cleaned out the fish bowl after Bingo III’s demise and had to be removed.   A pile of recipes that needed to be taped to pieces of paper and slipped into laminated sleeves.

Porter was charged with removing the obstacles from the drain.


I could have edited the photo to make the sink appear gleaming white, or cropped it to show only the drain and not the Beef Ball sauce residue, but I’ve never painted myself as a paragon of perfection and am not starting now.

“What if I only get one of the marbles out?” Porter asked.

“Then you’ll earn $2.50,” I said.

“I might rather do that, because then I’d get two quarters and I could put them in my quarter collection.”

“I have no quarters because you’ve cleaned me out.  The fifty cents would be paid in dimes, nickels and pennies,” I said.

“Then I’ll get them both out,” he decided.

I would have gone for the tweezers or the needle-nosed pliers, but my inventor had other plans.  He disappeared into his room and returned with a Lego box full of supplies.


“Yo, what’s with all the magnets?”

“I’m going to hold the magnets over the marbles so that the magnetism seeps into the marbles. Then I’ll just hold my strongest magnet over them and they’ll pop out of the drain and stick to it.”

Drew was at the kitchen table, painstakingly trimming all the recipes I’d had shoved in a drawer, taping them onto colored paper and sliding them into plastic sleeves so I could simply wipe them off when they got spattered with olive oil and soy sauce.

“You can’t magnetize glass,” he announced.

“What do you know? I’m the one with the magnets. I’ve made my pencil magnetic before,” Porter said.

“A pencil isn’t made of glass. Mom, can you magnetize glass?”

“Don’t ask Mom, ask me. If I hold this drill bit to the marbles for fifteen minutes that should do it.”

While Porter magnetized the marbles, Drew finished the recipes.


I gave him his five dollars and the option of chillaxing or earning more money. Soon he was in the garage vacuuming the van and wiping down the seats.

Meanwhile, Porter had an epiphany.  “I think I should electrify the glass instead.  That will be much quicker and there will only be a few sparks.”

“Are you sure you don’t want my tweezers?” I asked.

“You don’t use tweezers when you do the electrified marbles.”

“Does making them electric help to get them out of the drain?”

“Yes, but it’s too complicated to explain.  I need more batteries.”


Soon he’d come up with this contraption. Drew came in from the garage, lured by the promise of fire. I hovered closely at first, then decided that the addition of a battery wrapped with wire was neither dangerous nor bringing us closer to our goal. Porter didn’t seem perturbed about that. Ten minutes passed, and Porter added three more wire-wrapped batteries to the hammer, with no visible results.

Drew finished cleaning the van and collected another five dollars.

My neighbor came by to return a soup pot and peered at Porter’s project.  “I have a pair of antique forceps  that are long and skinny that would probably get those marbles out.”

“What are forceps?” Porter asked.

My neighbor is a teacher, and well-acquainted with Porter.  She knew just how to market the forceps.

“Doctors use them for operations when they need to extract something from a person.  If you have a bullet stuck in your leg, they’d use forceps to grasp it and pull it out.  Using forceps requires a great deal of skill, though.  Maybe your mom should come get them.”

“I use a lot of tools,” Porter said.  “Forceps are a kind of tool, so I think I’ll come with you to your house now and get them.”

He abandoned the battery-bedecked hammer and returned with the forceps.  Moments later, one glass marble was sitting on the counter.

“Two-fifty and counting,” he said.

The second marble took about a minute.

“I earned five dollars,” Porter said triumphantly.

“You should have used the tweezers in the first place.  I earned ten dollars and read two chapters of Ark Angel,” Drew said.

“I don’t care. I’m going to go magnetize the birdseed and see if the parakeets stick to the sides of the cage after they eat.” Porter ran to his room to begin another project.


While Drew and I were reorganizing my recipe collection, I found a couple of recipes that people have requested.  The famous Cobb Lane restaurant is closing at the end of this week, and several people have asked for the recipe for the roulage. Here it is.


For a jelly roll pan I use a large cookie sheet with sides. Butter the sheet and waxed paper WELL.  I just use Hershey’s cocoa.  Don’t get distracted while you beat the cream or you end up with butter, but this provides you with a good teaching moment to talk about pioneers and butter churns.  I flavor my filling with a bit of sugar and bourbon.

Another meal we’ve been eating a lot recently is larb– like the lettuce cups you get at PF Chang’s.  I double this for my family and have the boys mix it with rice to stretch it further, or else I’d be buying four pounds of grounds chicken for this.  I use Sriracha for the chili-garlic sauce (add a bit at a time)  and a poblano for the chilis.  Whole Foods usually has lemongrass, and several grocery stores carry lemongrass in a tube.  It’s found in the produce section under the herbs packaged in plastic and is a decent substitute.  Last week I couldn’t find either and left it out entirely and no one complained.

Larb Chicken Salad from Epicurious


Sriracha sauce


One year ago in My Tiny Kingdom: How We Parent: Just Because You Asked


  • susu


    I’ve eaten at Cobb Lane many times and have loved the roulage. Does it really not contain flour??? I’d like the recipe for the poppyseed dressing that I always requested with my Chicken Salad – one bite onto the fork, one dip into the dressing!! Wonderful. Hey, I heard the restaurant is for sale. I hope it gets bought by a loving person who doesn’t want to change everything.

  • andrea

    My brothers and I would do crap like that–I remember mixing up all our detergents one time to make a paste, spreading it on rocks, and informing the neighbor children that I was carbon-dating the rocks. I was six.

    In junior high I built a pulley clothesline system in my room so that I could just pull my clothes to my bed and not have to get up in order to get dressed. Of course, in order for that to work, I had to pin the clothes to the line the night before, and that kind of prep work was too much and I went back to the old system fairly soon.

    I hope my kids are imaginative and weird and natural scientists. The BF is not of an inquiring mind and I’m afraid I’ll get nice, boring children.

  • Marissa

    “I don’t care. I’m going to go magnetize the birdseed and see if the parakeets stick to the sides of the cage after they eat.” Porter ran to his room to begin another project.”

    I am crying from laughing so hard at this. Too funny. And thank you for not photoshopping your sink ; )

    Marissa’s last blog post..Morgan’s Max & Ruby Party Party

  • Andi

    Darn, I thought I originated the idea of putting recipes in plastic sleeves. Oh well, great minds, yada yada yada.

    You don’t know how happy it makes me to see that you have a normal-looking sink!

  • Erin

    If all kids were as imaginative as Porter the world would be a better place. I hope he never loses his spirit of invention and persistence.

  • denese

    i love reading about your boys, their personalities, and hijinks. if my daughter grows up to be half as imaginative as porter, i’ll be so happy. she’s only five months so…yeah i’ve got some wait time, i’ll be reading your archives for lessons.

    denese’s last blog post..crying over spilled milk

  • Kate

    I have some recipes that I need taping. Are they for hire?

    And, I had no idea that Cobb Lane was closing! Good thing I read your blog!

    Kate’s last blog post..China

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