Monday, December 21, 2009

Veggies!

We got our first shipment from the CSA this week. As I thought it would be, it has already been an interesting experience. Since we're not going to be eating many meals in the house the next week (bad timing on my part), I've had to get creative with some of the produce.

I pickled the beets (and ate the greens sauteed with a little garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper) and have a jar of hot peppers in vinegar aging in the fridge. The three cute potatoes from the shipment (R ridiculed this a bit, and rightly so) became hash browns, which are about a million times better when made with fresh potatoes than with dehydrated ones. I suppose that should have been obvious, but we'd never tried it before. I'm also pretty sure they cooked faster.

I also made a rather tasty cauliflower soup inspired by a recipe I forgot to bookmark on foodgawker (saute onion & carrot, add cauliflower and a little broth, puree, add cream and cheese, season). All in all, a lot of fun. I look forward to the next box (and eating more meals at home so that we're not in such a rush to use up the contents).

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sleep

Though our world revolves less around sleep now then when the baby first arrived, it is still the focus of much more mental energy than it should be. The little one's sleep habits are maturing, bringing with them new rewards and new challenges. Last night she slept for a record six and a half hours in a row, but she correspondingly sleeps less during the day. She's shown herself capable of getting to sleep on her own, but it tends to be a more fragile sleep and letting her cry a bit often winds her up to a point where she really can't get to sleep on her own. It is so hard to tell when to start implementing routines, figuring out when she is mature enough to deal with structure.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Need to cut back on the rich foods

My triumphant return to mountain biking has been delayed. We really do need the rain, but I wish we could have switched the order of days, so that today's sunny and mild weather came before the driving rain.

Since I didn't have a nice long workout, it was clearly time for me to make all sorts of rich foods. I made bittersweet cranberry brownies, much to R's chagrin. I like them (though they did turn out pretty wet, probably since I used frozen cranberries), but he feels the strong cranberry flavor obscures the chocolate. I'd never taken him to be a chocolate purist before - guess I'm rubbing off on him. Lucky for R, though, there are more brownies in the future, as the chocolate kept seizing up while I was making chocolate popcorn with sea salt. After the first bag of chocolate chips seized up I put the chocolate in the fridge for a future batch of brownies, blamed the splash of cold milk, and started over. When the second (and last) bag of chocolate chips also seized, I had to make the best of it and added some oil to re-liquefy the chocolate. I had to refrigerate the resulting popcorn in order for it to harden, but my grandpa didn't mind. Cool chocolate popcorn is still delicious. (I'm thinking there was too much steam coming out of the double boiler. Cooking with a crying baby tends to mean I'm not paying quite enough attention to what I'm doing.)

To top off the no-exercise-rich-foods weekend, we dined last night on a lovely home made pate. We had been missing the pate at Costco and the local grocery store at our new place doesn't seem to carry it, so this week I resolved that it was finally pate time. Rather incredibly, in my opinion, the little butcher shop by my house didn't carry any sort of liver, so I wound up going across the street and getting a tub of chicken livers for $2. It turned out delicious. So there.

Chicken Liver Pate
Adapted from Jacques Pepin
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 very large shallots, chopped
  • 12 oz chicken liver
  • 1 t herbes de Provence
  • 3 big fat cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t fresh ground pepper
  • 3 t bourbon
1. Melt butter. Saute shallots until soft. Add liver, herbes de Provence, and garlic and cook over medium-high heat until liver is done (about 2 minutes). Add salt and pepper.

2. Transfer to blender. Add bourbon. Blend until liquid.

3. Pour into a dish. Let cool 1 1/2 hours, then refrigerate overnight to allow pate to set and flavors to develop.

3. Serve on a crusty baguette. Take some to you in-laws to show off you mad cooking skills.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Holiday stuff

I know it has been a little while since Thanksgiving, but since people have been known to have turkeys around Christmas (or later in the year, if they have the freezer space, since it is such cheap meat this time of year) it would not be totally inappropriate for me to recommend this recipe for turkey and spinach curry. I definitely identified with the article when they spoke of turkey on Thursday, turkey sandwiches on Friday, and then looking for something non-traditional to help with some of the leftovers. Not that turkey soup and turkey pot pie aren't delicious, but sometimes one is looking for a little spice. Unfortunately, the author was clearly lying when he said that the tomatoes in the curry would break down, so I wound up eating the whole thing myself.

If you're still looking for things to give as gifts this year, I thought I might help you out and list a few I've found. Nothing like a delicious homemade gift (helps with the budget, too).

Vanilla syrup - Makes me glad that I bought vanilla beans in bulk online. So much cheaper!
Dulce de leche - I spent the better part of this evening making this and made a royal mess of my stove. I used an 8 quart pot, but I really wish I'd used my stock pot as the dang thing kept boiling over. Took much longer than an hour for mine to reach the proper color and consistency.
Pumpkin butter - I've been dipping apple slices in this for my snack this week. Much more respectable than eating it by the spoonful.
Mandarin orange dust - The gift for the foodie who has everything. Well, it's pretty much this or a cookbook for my step mom.
Chocolate popcorn with sea salt - Grandpa is a chocoholic.

A couple of non-food ideas as well.
Fabric binder clips - I saw this browsing through dandee's archives, only to have my step mom express her love of binder clips the following weekend. This will probably wind up being her birthday gift, as I don't think I'll be able to get them done in time for Saturday's gift exchange.
Surprise balls - R's side of the family is just doing stocking stuffers this year (new baby + house purchases = all the siblings feeling the pinch), so I decided that the should at least be wrapped in an fun manner. Or annoying, depending on your perspective.
Marble magnets - These are really cool and I'm planning on making a few for myself. I used mod podge to glue them, but it seems like it may not be strong enough to last.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Backsliding

Litter box failure with the cat. I imagine this is what potty training must be like. Some days, success, other days, failure. The cat is clearly of a like mind with my nephew, who isn't interested in being potty trained quite yet. He uses his little as a step stool.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

It's the most wonderful time of the year

The most wonderful thing has happened here in the A&R household. (No, I'm not talking about the baby.) The second cat has finally started using the mechanical litter box! We bought a Litter Robot at least six months ago, hoping to reclaim the bathroom that had been taken over by the cat box. The one cat started using it immediately, but we realized several days later, when he had an accident, that the second cat wouldn't use the machine. We tried showing him that there was litter in there, shutting him in the bathroom all day, making him sit by the litterbox - nothing worked. He was terrified of it. He obsessed over it, spending hours at a time sitting at the bathroom door, watching it. We put a small litter box for him to use by the machine, hoping the proximity would help to ease his fears. We intentionally didn't clean it often, hoping to encourage him to transition to the machine. Eventually we took the box away, at which point in time he started using the drain in the tub. We had pretty much given up hope, when poop stopped appearing in the bathtub. I kept an ear out, and the next time I heard a cat in the box I peeked my head in and saw his head sticking out of the machine. Success!

Monday, November 30, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Day 30

Woo! Nothing like completing something you set out to do (even if the task itself doesn't really matter).

Speaking of task completion, I've still got a recipe I need to review. For Thanksgiving I made a potato and squash casserole. I roasted the butternut squash, which turned out quite lovely. The casserole was... well, okay. Other people really liked it. I think I'm just not really much of a casserole kind of person.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Day 29

I rarely make desserts, mainly because R and I will then be required to eat them. I know that sounds silly, but when I'm near the end of my half of a cake I'm either tired of eating it or eating stale cake. The cake I made this week, however, will not last long enough to become stale. I would be perfectly happy eating the whole thing. It is a sticky spiked double-apple cake with a brown sugar-brandy sauce and is delicious with or without the sauce. I find myself cutting off bites as I pass through the kitchen. Actually, I think I might go have another nibble right now. I'm sure I need to do something in there.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Day 28

Woke up this morning and thought the air conditioning had been turned on, only to realize that the sound I was hearing was rain on the roof. We celebrated the cozy, lazy morning with pumpkin pie oatmeal. Not too bad.

Hilariously, our conversations earlier in the week had bemoaned the lack of fall like weather. They went something like this:

"Very warm today."
"Blue sky."
"A cloud would be nice."
"Yeah."
"Even just one puffy cloud. The blue is depressing."
"Yeah. Rain, damn you!"

Friday, November 27, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Day 27

Contrary to what the author of the recipe said, I think pear and chocolate scones might actually be better the next day. They're not worse and are certainly still edible. A bit more moist, which I found pleasant.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Day 26

Happy Thanksgiving! Celebrate the San Diego way - with a cranberry margarita.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Skills

Today's impressive feat by the baby? Vomiting into my open purse. I was just lifting her out of her car seat when this barely digested milk streamed into my purse. It was pretty tidy - barely a drop on the upholstery.

NaBloPoMo: Day 25

Seem to be hitting a slump here right at the end of the month. Must... power... through...

I've been looking at recipes to make during the family Christmas vacation. Desserts are catching my eye the most, which is odd, considering that I rarely cook them. Perhaps I'm just recognizing that, with the whole family there to help us, R and I won't be stuck eating the same cake for weeks. Hopefully everyone doesn't fill up on dinner.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Day 24

Ah, nothing like a fussy baby to make one almost forget to post again.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Whoops

So, yeah. Definitely got distracted there. R and I have been slowly making our way through his family's photo albums, which has been fascinating. Also, I have apparently given birth to my sister-in-law's twin.

NaBloPoMo: Day 23

Post! Post post post!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Day 22

We've finally determined that yes, the baby has been smiling the last couple of days. It's not just gas anymore. She's just been giving little smiles, rather than the huge baby grins we've been looking for. I suppose it isn't that surprising, since R and I are also small smilers.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Day 21

Experienced total brain failure while making dinner today. I blame the baby. I made meatloaf and Swiss chard and sweet potato gratin (which turned out delicious, by the way. I used spinach instead of chard) and, of course, the baby was fussy as I was getting everything ready and putting things in the oven.

Fast forward one hour. I take out the gratin but the meatloaf, which I put in later, needs a little more time. The gratin is supposed to cool for ten minutes, so I leave it out and cook the meatloaf for another ten minutes. When I return, the gratin is still bubbling and venting steam like a tiny caldera. I go get R, but when I'm getting ready to serve up dinner, the gratin is still steaming. That was when R notices that the burner on which I set the gratin is still on. Since I didn't cook anything on the stove while dinner was in the over, that means that the burner was left on, open and unattended, for over an hour. Luckily nothing bad happened, but yeesh. I need to pay more attention to my surroundings, crying baby or no.

Friday, November 20, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Day 20

It seems rather odd, but I have an uncanny attraction to the blogs of Mormon women. Not intentionally, mind you, but more often than not I find myself browsing through a new and interesting blog only to discover references to Mormondom. I guess that, at this time in my life, we have a lot in common - kids, cooking, gardening, crafts. The fact that it made my day that we'll be able to afford a house around here with a standard mortgage this summer, rather than the FHA one we had been considering, is somewhat embarrassing.

I keep wondering what my high school self would think of my life now. Ten years ago, I was going to attend UC Berkley and then go to medical school. I wanted to be a pediatrician, but didn't really want kids of my own. I figured I'd probably wind up not getting married, as the males of the species didn't seem to want anything to do with me, plus I'd probably be too busy anyway. Saving other people's lives would make mine worthwhile.

... If you couldn't tell, I was pretty depressed ten years ago. I do wonder what might have been if I continued on the path to medical school, but considering how much happier I am now, I guess my younger self would approve of the decisions I've made. Now I just have to pump myself up enough to feel like I can show my face at the next high school reunion.

Assuming they ever have one I can attend. Christmas Eve Eve reunion my ass.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Day 19

Being two adults with reasonable incomes who aren't constantly tossing money away dining in restaurants or drinking in bars (or spending it on house maintenance yet), R and I don't have a problem buying ourselves goodies. This means that, when birthdays roll around, getting gifts for each other is both somewhat challenging and not very urgent.

For a while now we've been planning on getting me a wok for Christmas or my birthday, but so far I haven't actually purchased one. So, as a gift, I signed up for a trial membership with a local CSA. They're setting up a new drop point close to our house, so starting in December I'll get to wander down every other week and pick up a box of locally grown fruits and veggies.

It's going to wind up costing us about the same, but the produce will be quite fresh, with the promise of tomatoes picked when actually ripe. You don't get to pick what you receive, which is R's only complaint and will be the reason should we choose not to continue our membership, but I'm not bothered. It will be something of a weekly culinary challenge and I look forward to learning how to cook a few new vegetables. Looking at the harvest schedule, I've got chard, turnips, and winter squash in my future (along with a variety of fruits and veggies I have experience with). Anyone know any good recipes?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Day 18

The secret to happiness, when awoken at unreasonable o'clock (anytime before 6 am in my book), is french toast. I've tried it the last several days and it has held true. My family always had bear claws when they prodded us out of bed in the dark hours of the morning for skiing, and there were bagels and fanaticism at the butt-crack of dawn for regattas with my rowing team, but clearly they all have it wrong. French toast, slathered with jam, is the answer.

French toast also satisfies the urge to not let food go to waste, as we have a pretty good supply of old bread in the fridge at the moment. I've got all the breadcrumbs I need, plus now that the rat is gone I can't just give her the stale bread, so I feel compelled to eat it myself (I'm pretty sure the Great Depression broke something in my family's collective brain). Earlier this week I made french toast out of two orphaned hot dog buns. They actually turned out quite well, and were delicious slathered with homemade cranberry jelly.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Day 17

Well, the staff at the doctor's office is now enamored with the baby. I suppose I should have known, as she is generally on her best behavior when around other people. I can't complain.

With the holidays approaching, I'm finding myself picking out recipes for the special occasions. I feel a little silly, but I imagine everyone around me probably doesn't mind. I've got breakfast (a much more important meal these days) lined up for each day of a friend's visit next week, though I'm still working on the other meals.

Monday, November 16, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Day 16

I made the mistake of not scheduling my 6 weeks postpartum doctor's appointment far enough in advance (seeing as there are a horde of pregnant ladies where I live, I probably should have done it immediately upon giving birth), which meant I had to take whatever appointment they could clear for me. So, instead of having R there to watch the baby, she gets to come to the appointment with me. I'm not sure how well babies and pelvic exams mix, but I guess that's what medical assistants are (shanghaied) for.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Day 15

Geez, almost forgot to post. Not the best sign, as we're only half way through NaBloPoMo.

That said, I still can't believe it is already mid-November. Six weeks. The wee one has started wearing some of the smaller 3-6 month sized garments and has outgrown some of her newborn clothes. I've rocked my computer chair squeaky again.

We're currently waiting on that first social smile. We've seen grins while she's sleeping or cycling randomly through expressions. but nothing meaningful yet. A friend of mine gave birth a couple of days after me and her daughter just smiled. I'm a bit jealous.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Day 14

Well, my pet rat finally died today. It had been, what, three and a half month since she first had her stroke? For a creature with a lifespan of two to three years, that's pretty good survival time.

Her initial ailment hit us pretty hard, but then she recovered a bit and we got to slowly get used to the idea that she'd be dieing in the near future. She looked older and was never quite as steady as she once was. A few weeks back, she started going downhill again. Last week we were debating whether or not to put her in the freezer. We ended up deciding that since she still ambled over and enthusiastically wrestled with the peanuts we gave her, her quality of life wasn't too awful. Still, we're glad it's over. It was a bit painful to watch her flail around the last few days.

Now I just need to clean up the cage. I've got a dead rat sitting in my room.

Friday, November 13, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Day 13

I've always avoided eating the cranberry jelly at Thanksgiving. I love cranberries, but was never sure what to do with that gelatinous slice I felt obliged to put on my plate. I wasn't expecting to be interested when Marisa at Food in Jars, hip drug dealer to my growing canning addiction, posted a recipe for cranberry jelly, but I was. I think it was the picture of the jelly on french toast that did it. I just had to try it.

Well, I don't think the canned stuff has anything on this jelly. I licked the ladle clean after I was done filling the jam jars. This was also the easiest jam recipe I've ever made. Boil, strain, can if you want to - Voila! Jam!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Day 12

Today was the first day I hadn't managed to shower and get dressed by the time R came home for work. The baby was dressed, but I was still in my bathrobe. You always hear of this happening to new moms, though I imagine it probably happens more once additional kids come along, but I had managed to avoid it until now.

Still, I don't feel nearly as slovenly and unaccomplished as I feared I would, probably due to the fact that I did actually get some things done today. I spent the morning making and canning applesauce. I was just about to change and go exercise (the reason I hadn't yet showered), when I accidentally put a canning lid back in the box too loudly. The box was, of course, located next to the bouncy chair of a baby who had only just gotten to sleep, so I spent the next while comforting a very cranky baby. I suppose I could have exercised and showered once she went back to sleep, but by then I couldn't resist the lure of a nap, so we both slept. The end.

On the upside, when you shower at 5 pm you can change right into comfy PJ pants. Hey, it's dark out. I'm not going anywhere.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Day 11

There is definitely something to be said for seasonal foods. Only being able to eat something a few times a year just makes it special. Like Peeps - they have Peeps for holidays other than Easter, but if you eat them you'll wind up overdosing and the Easter Peeps loose their charm. The Fourth of July just isn't an occasion for sugar-coated marshmallow goodness. I only think of this because I was recently eating a mandarin orange while sipping a glass of eggnog and I suddenly felt the holiday spirit.

Pumpkin is also something I only indulge in seasonally. I had two cans of pumpkin, purchased for a pasta recipe that never got made, sitting in my pantry for at least a year. However, only now, when one doesn't even have to get pumpkin from a can, did I wind up finally using them. For dinner we had pumpkin soup with blue cheese and bacon, and if that sounds incredibly rich and indulgent to you, well, you'd be right. As R pointed out, this soup has all flavors: sweet, spicy, cheese and bacon. Tasty.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Day 10

Brought the little one in to R and my dad's offices today. She was quite the hit. However, here is a tip for future reference: if you're just meeting someone for the first time, saying that you're going to keep their baby and will adopt them if you ever give up the baby is kind of creepy.

Monday, November 09, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Day 9

Ah, funny story. So, there I am in the early stages of labor, and I make this giant vat of curry. A couple days later, still in the early stages of labor, I decided to try making curry bread. This is a recipe that involves letting dough rise for several hours, which probably isn't a good idea while in labor. It worked out fine for me, but be warned.

So... curry bread. It's pretty much a man's dream. (Don't all men dream of meat doughnuts?) Fried dough, warm curry filling - delicious. Don't let the picture on the recipe fool you, though. One is pretty much a meal. R and I were hungry that night, so we split a second one, but we were really full afterward. They're still good for several days (my in-laws wound up taking a few off our hands when we came home from the hospital, almost a week after they had been made, and were quite impressed), but I'd still halve the recipe next time.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Day 8

Well, I'm sorry to have to admit it, but I totally chickened out on a recipe this morning. My mom didn't raise picky eaters, but apparently this one was too much for me. I tried making eggs en cocotte this morning, which is basically a soft-boiled egg, only you crack the eggs into a little ramekin and bake them in a water bath with cheese and a little cream.

I'd never had a soft-boiled egg before, but I figured I'd give it a shot. Well, when the timer rang and I pulled out the baking dish, the jiggling egg whites freaked me out and I put it back in for another five minutes. It wound up tasty, but quite solid. No dipping toast in those eggs.

I suppose I should have expected this. I used to microwave my scrambled eggs so that they would be completely dry.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Day 7

Listening to the baby cry, when there isn't anything wrong and you can't do anything to calm her down, is exhausting. Every evening, around dinner time, she just gets very irritable. Perhaps she's just jealous. She does seem to love everything about the kitchen. Don't worry, little one! You'll be eating food like us soon enough.

I'm pooped. It's a good thing she's so cute, even when she's screaming. Makes it all a lot easier to take.

Friday, November 06, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Day 6

I type this post with my left hand, as my right serves as a pillow for a sleeping baby. The little one is one month old today. As happens when you're busy, it seems like both yesterday and forever ago that she arrived.

Seeing her all the time, it is hard to see the changes that are taking place. She used to just sleep all the time, but she's slowly been spending more time awake. Instead of only crying for food or a diaper change, she now wants the occasional change of scenery. She's acquiring the chubbiness that distinguishes older babies from newborns. Her clothes seem to fit now, instead of hanging off her. I'm curious to see how long and heavy she is at her next doctor's appointment, though that is still a month off.

I'm glad I didn't go crazy buying baby clothes - just a few onesies so I didn't feel completely unprepared. I've yet to make it down to the bottom of any of the piles of clothes!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Day 5

After a month of being used as a rocking chair, my computer chair has developed a pronounced squeak. I guess it wasn't intended to be used that way. Clearly, this thing wasn't designed by a parent. Nothing like the glow of the computer monitor to keep one fully conscious while rocking and jiggling a fussy infant back to sleep.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Day 4

I don't know what it is lately, but I can't seem to miss with new recipes lately. Could just be luck, or maybe the reduced amount of time for cooking has made me more discriminating about the recipes I'm willing to try. In any case, I had another success last night with simplest cinnamon lamb stew (made with some beef stew meat recovered from our deep freezer). This one even gets the R seal of approval, so you know it has broader appeal than just my ow taste buds.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Day 3

Apparently I'm not the only one whose fancy turns to apple crisp at the sight of the fall's new crop of apples. Smitten Kitchen turned her fantasies into a breakfast apple granola crisp which, I'm not surprised to say, turned out delicious when I made it yesterday. Also not surprising was the fact that I ran into the same sort of baby-related cooking hitches as the recipe's author (always the extra-long feeding whenever we have any sort of deadline). Still, extremely well-done apples and slightly blackened granola didn't ruin the dish. I'm actually thinking of making it for breakfast sometime during the big family gathering at Christmas. All of the cousins together for the first time!

Monday, November 02, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Day 2

Although I wasn't hit hard by the nesting bug, towards the end of my pregnancy I did have a lingering urge to use up those items that have been lingering in the pantry for years. You know, those half bags of chopped nuts, ignored candy, impulse purchases, and boxes of Kraft mac and cheese that my sister gave me when R and I first moved in together, six years ago. So, when I saw Loobylu's recipe for her mother's boiled fruit cake, I instantly recognized an opportunity to use up the several packages of dried figs I had somehow acquired over the years.

I'm not exactly sure what I was expecting to happen when I cooked the resulting blob of fruity dough, but I think some rising was probably in order. Maybe the substitute for self-rising flour wasn't quite right. An hour or so later, the cake looked much as it did when I put it in the oven, only cooked.

Still, the resulting cake didn't go to waste. It was pretty tasty, and seemed like the sort of thing one might want to bring if setting off of a long journey. R made some references to dwarf bread, but the reason this cake would be good travel fare is because it is nutritiously dense (a little bit will fill you up), sturdy, and won't go bad at room temperature (which is saying a lot in San Diego, land of mold). I ate slices of it for breakfast for weeks with no noticeable decline in quality. Plus it finally got me to eat all those figs.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Day 1*

My mom visited recently (nothing like a baby to get people to visit), and I happened to mention that my father-in-law makes the world's best stuffing, and that I didn't even like stuffing previously. This rather annoyed my mom, who defended her own stuffing. To be honest, though, I can't even remember her ever making stuffing, which is why I felt it was safe to mention my general dislike of stuffing. What is it with that dish? People seem crazy for it.

* Seriously, I can't believe I'm doing this again. I haven't been able to make it the last few years and this time I've got a one month old. Perhaps I'm just trying to reestablish the habit of blogging. I've been rather slack of late. I keep composing posts in my head and then never actually posting them.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Food, glorious food!

I mentioned a bit ago (you know, before all this baby excitement) that I'd been checking out cookbooks from the library. It turns out that this is only a good strategy if you only like a few recipes from a cookbook, as is generally the case for me. If, however, you come across a great cookbook, you will be forced to buy it.

Hopefully this won't happen too often. I've got way too many cookbooks already.

As it turns out, How to Cook Everything is everything I've been wanting in a basic, all-purpose cookbook. An alternate title could be "Simple-ish Recipes That A Would Like to Cook." Sure, I've got ye olde standard Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, but most of the recipes in there are of a distictly midwestern sensibility. I mostly wind up using the conversion tables and looking up how long it takes to steam broccoli.

Actual cooking has slowed down for the moment, at least until we eat through the glorious quantities of food people provided us with to help us though the first few weeks of the little one's existence. Still, I've got plans. I think I used up an entire pad of post its on this book.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thank you, internet

I swear, everyone on the internet seems to be having babies. Deb over at Smitten Kitchen, Dooce, everyone on my college band alumni newsgroup, the pregnancy forum... Wait, that last one is probably self-selecting for babies.

Anyway, it turns out that hearing from all these other people in similar situations is a good way to reduce The Crazy. This morning, I made the mistake of trying to wear some of my pre-pregnancy pants. I couldn't even button the jeans that I accidentally purchased a size too big off of EBay.

Luckily for my self esteem, Dooce wrote today that she is now, four months along, fitting into her pre-pregnancy pants. Sort of. After a familial tragedy and lots of stress, resulting in weight loss.

So, yeah, I feel better that I can't wear my fat jeans a week and a half after giving birth.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

All the news that is the news

Had I actually posted the posts I'd been composing in my head these last few weeks, you would have heard all about the glorious return of my feet to (almost) normal size two weeks ago. It was awesome, though I will probably never know if it was due to the change to cooler weather or some hormonal shift.

I also would have mentioned something about the awesome baby shower my work threw for me. I knew they were getting me a diaper bag and second car seat base, but when I sat down for lunch they brought out this whole pile of gifts. Apparently they felt the need to remedy the fact that the majority of the baby's clothes for the first few months are hand-me-downs from her male cousins. Or perhaps it was just the inescapable lure of tiny pink clothes.

On October 1st, I would have told you that I wound up going home from work about midday with regular, but not overly strong contractions. In the days following, you would have heard me become increasingly impatient for labor to really set in. I'd been resigned to a late baby up until that point in time, but apparently going past my due date instantly destroyed my patience. I'm still not sure how my mom survived the three extra weeks she had to wait for me to arrive.

Instead of all that, I'll simply tell you that I've got a daughter. She's been curled up on my chest while I've been writing this post.

Since she's arrived, it's been interesting to see how much interest we devote to the basics of existence. At this point in time, my dad would probably break out Maslow's hierarchy of needs, and point out that, with this new addition, we've been dropped down to the lowest level while we regain our feet. So, until everything is settled and routine, we'll be devoting extra mental resources to eating, excreting, and sleeping. On the upside, completing such tasks seems to come with a much greater reward than previously, so I don't mind at all.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Thank you, online library holds

The library is my new best friend. They've got cookbooks.

My mom laughed at me when I mentioned my new found love, but she lives in a small town which only has one library branch. If she wants a book, and they have it, it will be there. San Diego, however, has many tiny branches. They've got a pretty decent selection, but if you're looking for a specific book, it might be an hour away. Or one of the storage libraries, not actually on the shelves. Since I'm pretty much always looking for particular books, you can see my problem.

With a little patience, however, I can have any book in the collection delivered to my local library. I don't even have to visit a physical branch to place the hold. It just sometimes takes 6 months.

Like I said, patience.

Still, having discovered that the cookbooks I've had saved in my Amazon cart for years now are available for me to try for free, I'm pretty excited. Let the tasting begin!

The first cookbook I checked out was Mexico One Plate At a Time by Rick Bayless. I requested the book last spring after perusing the archives of Roots and Grubs and seeing a recommendation for the mojo de ajo. What followed was a flurry of time-consuming Mexican dishes.

Worth making again:

Mojo de Ajo - R mocked me a bit for needing a recipe to make garlicky shrimp, but he does agree that this sauce is crazy good. It's minced garlic slowly simmered in olive oil, with sliced chipotle peppers and lime juice added at the end. You can then cook things in the infused oil and cover them in soft, delicious, golden garlic. Mmmmm...

Beans - Okay, this sounds like an odd thing to love from a cookbook, but I hadn't had much success cooking pots of dried beans in the past. What's more, I now know that homemade refried beans (we used black beans) are delicious. I could eat them as a meal on their own.

Guajillo-Spiked Pork and Potato Tacos - The procedure for these was rather fascinating. You rehydrated chilies, blended them with tomatoes, and pushed the whole mixture through a strainer for a smooth yet flavorful sauce. Not the best weeknight meal, however, unless you're planning on eating late.

Not really worth the time:

Queso Fundido - Tasty, yes (sausage + cheese + roasted peppers in flour tortillas), but not something I'd bring into the regular rotation.

Pork in Salsa Verde - Again, not bad, but not spectacular and quite time consuming.

Guacamole with Roasted Poblano Peppers - Maybe I'm just a purist, but I didn't think the peppers added much to the guac. To each his own, I suppose. Reminds me of the time I was going to a Superbowl party with my friend S and we were making guacamole. We wound up splitting the batch in two and seasoning each half separately, due to disagreement on whether or not the guacamole should have diced raw onions. In the end, both bowls were consumed, but, yeah, raw onions. Ick.

I also photocopied the recipe for Mexican Chocolate Streusel Cake before returning the book. I'm sure I'll make it some day. I just rarely bake.

My final verdict on the book? Unless you're in a land devoid of good Mexican food (such as Montana, according to my brother in law), this is a book best borrowed from the library. Still, I do highly recommend checking it out, if only for the mojo de ajo.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Feets

My poor, fat feet. You might not be able to tell from this picture, but they're quite fat.

Actually, I took this picture a week ago. They've only gotten fatter since. R is vaguely afraid that they will pop when he rubs them. I've taken to wrapping them tightly in a bandanna, to help squeeze the fluid out of them. Exercise (or possibly the act of squeezing my feet into shoes) seems to help, but only for a little while. They just look ridiculous.

It really is a waiting game around here. Assuming the baby doesn't show up early, I've got two more weeks of work before I start maternity leave. Two weeks until my due date. Two weeks until the deadline for my project at work. Gah. So I just work, and exercise, and wait out the comments of how I look like I'm going to pop. Really, it isn't necessary to comment on the size of my belly every day, people at work. It doesn't really change much in the hours in between.

I guess I'm just a little grumpy. I'm ready to be non-pregnant. I'd like her to show up sooner, rather than later, so that R and I get a little more time to know her before my mom arrives (she originally agreed to change her ticket date if the baby was late, but has apparently forgotten about said agreement). Bit of drama at work, but can't really share that. Bit of drama with the HOA (we never got a copy of the rules, but apparently you can only have two plants on your walkway, the fascists), but hopefully they'll be appeased with a reduction in the number of plants. I don't think I can trim my garden down to compliance, but less flagrant violation of the rules should take the heat off until we move out. If nothing else, I'll play the pregnant lady card. Apparently we make people uncomfortable.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

A change in perception

This week, my coworkers at the office simultaneously realized that I'm going to be having a baby.

Sure, this isn't exactly news. As far as they're concerned, I've always been pregnant. As I only moved up to the main office a few months ago, most of them didn't even meet me when I wasn't pregnant (or if they did, it was briefly and long ago). Still, all of the sudden, it seems to have sunk in. I'm not just having a baby, I'm having a baby. Very soon.

I wound up having the following conversation several times this week.

"So, when are you due again?"
"October 1st."
"[some sort of exclamation] That's really soon."
"Yup."
"So, she could pretty much come any time now."
"Yup. She'll be full term next week."
"Wow."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Babies make you crafty

Not having a baby, as from what I understand they tend to be a real time sink, but the idea of a new person seems to inspire industry. Perhaps it is because they come into the world completely lacking in stuff.

Now, I know you might think I'm nesting (my mother and mother-in-law both seem convinced of that), but I swear I found this pattern for baby shoes a while ago and have had it on my To Do list ever since. It just takes a deadline to get me moving. I also assembled a side table we had received as a wedding gift over a year ago. Like I said, nothing like a deadline to get me moving.

If anyone is nesting, it is definitely my dear friend S. She came down for my baby shower last weekend and was clearly showing off her auntly chops. She made me a gigantic pile of burp clothes using cloth diapers and strips of fabric. (Thank goodness she made so many, as I know some kids spit up after every feeding. Did you know you've got to feed a newborn 8-10 times a day?) S used several different prints, but this one is definitely my favorite. Yarr, I spit up on me mum. S also made me a sling, with the promise of more when the baby gets bigger. I would have modeled it with the cat... but that seemed like a really bad idea. Use your imagination.

The most amazing thing, though, was the quilt she made. As you can see, the thing is brightly colored, so it is perfect for stimulating a developing brain and will be nearly impossible to stain.

Now, I'm sure some of you out there are going "Yeah, a quilt. I make those all the time," however that is not the case in this situation. This is S's first quilt. She was so excited by the prospect of the baby that she freaking learned how to quilt. I'll have to remember that for when the baby is an angsty teenager. When she complains that we're so horrible and everyone hates her, I'll remind her that, at the very least, her Aunt S loves her.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Oneyearaversary

"Dang, this cake is sweet."

"Yeah. I think it was probably better fresh. The mousse is still good."

"Yeah."

"We should have gotten chocolate for the top tier."

"Definitely."

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Status update

Well, clearly I spoke a bit too soon, or perhaps just underestimated the recuperative powers of The Rat. The little critter is still hanging in there.

Actually, she's shown significant improvements since she first fell ill. The head tilt is gone, manual dexterity is pretty much back to normal. Her balance is still a bit off, but I've put the ramp to the upper platforms back in her cage, seeing as she was climbing up there anyway. Now we just get periodic thumps from her falling off said platforms. Her vision seems the only thing not recovering. I've got to be careful giving her peanuts, as she tends to drop them and then seems to be eyeing my finger. I guess, if your vision sucks, it looks like a peanut.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Rat

I never mentioned The Rat, did I? Well, I've got a pet rat. We've had her for a bit over a year, but it looks like she's on her way out. R had noticed that she seemed a little clumsy recently, and this morning she presented with a pronounced lean and left-sided weakness. She fell over eating a peanut.

The Rat was originally part of the behavioral experiments done by the IB Biology students at the school where I was teaching, during the downtime at the end of the school year. Most of the rats, mice, and hamsters were taken home by the students in their respective groups, but the teacher made it clear that he would take any of the critters that needed a home after the project. He wound up with seven or eight, and even though he had five animal-loving kids at home, I thought I might adopt one. I'd been checking up on them after school went out, making sure they had enough food and water, and clearly had developed a soft spot for them.

I wound up taking home a black and white one who spent most of her time hanging out in a little woven basket inside her terrarium. R thought we should name her Skunk, after the little skunk-like stripe on her back, but the name never took and she wound up just The Rat.

In the beginning, The Rat was terrified of everything. We'd open the cage and she's freeze. Holding her left her quaking in terror, though she would make prodigious leaps to get back into her cage whenever she could see it. Getting her to take treats from our hand, even while she was safely in her cage, was clearly a major ordeal.

Eventually, we just started leaving her in her cage and handling her as little as possible. We'd give her treats, but mostly we just left her alone. Oddly enough, that seemed to be just what she needed, and she slowly became more confident and adventurous. She stopped shaking uncontrollably when touched and came up to us when we opened the cage door to give her treats. She was no longer contented with just looking out of the holes she had chewed in her cage, and we started waking up in the middle of the night to find her sitting on top of her cage.

In the end, we accepted that she would never be one of those rats who sit on your shoulder or hang out in your pocket. We bought her a three tiered metal cage and were contented to watch her climb around and organize her possessions. We'd put heels of bread and veggie scraps on the top tier of her cage, just to watch her drag them down to the bottom, into the corner where she ate. She would skitter over whenever we were near the cage, in hopes of a peanut.

She was full grown when we got her, so we didn't know how much time she had left. She seems to have enjoyed her retirement. She was an interesting little critter, and has definitely opened the door for future pet rats, once the baby is older and ready.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Filling my brain with knowledge... or something like it

Hmm... This week is week 5 of the two classes I'm taking.

I haven't posted anything in nearly a month.

... Yeah, that pretty much lines up.

So, what have I been doing, you ask? Attending classes, doing homework, and working, mostly. The class with homework is a class on ArcGIS, which will hopefully allow me to progress further in the mapping field beyond CAD-lackey. The class itself has been... well... as a teacher, I feel I could probably give the guy a few pointers. The first couple of class sessions, he just quickly reviewed what we had done for homework, so we wound up getting out pretty early. The third class, however, he realized that he was well into a condensed class and should probably teach us something, so we wound up staying until 10 pm (not expecting to stay that late, I had to quickly walk over to the parking structure at the break and buy another couple hours of parking). Since then, the class has mostly been Death By PowerPoint, though he will occasionally break out the program and actually demonstrate what he is talking about.

The other class I've been taking is a childbirth class. We decided to try the Bradley method, as I had heard several recommendations and am far too self-aware to be able to do Lamaze without laughing. The reality is, for a class that is supposed to be about better childbirth through information, there is a surprisingly large amount of questionable "information" and unverified superstition. So far, it's been about half good information and half voodoo.

A number of things seem to be done right for the wrong reasons, or not explained at all. The Brewer Pregnancy Diet is advocated, though they don't really explain why other than the fact that you need more protein. However, given that protein deficiency is not an issue in the U.S. (far, far from it), I wanted to know why they were so obsessed with protein. As it turns out, it may help prevent preeclampsia, something that I'm definitely in favor of. The teacher also has this obsession with egg. Again, why? My research revealed that Dr. Brewer developed this diet to help poor women in the south, for whom eggs and dairy products were the only affordable protein.

Still, the class hasn't been all bad. We have gotten some useful information, particularly now that we've gotten down to the meat of issues. It has lead us to do a lot of research on our own. Still, from the way some of the people in the class (and the instructor) act, you'd think doctors were never trying to do the best thing for their patients.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Christmas in June

I recently received a package from my sister-in-law. The box was so battered, it felt almost like a stuffed animal. Inside, though, was the best thing a pregnant lady could ask for: hand me downs! The box was stuffed to the gills with baby clothes.

I feel so much more prepared now. At the very least, the baby will have clothes. Now I just need a crib, some diapers...

Speaking of the baby (what else do I do these days?), she's recently learned how to hit both sides of my uterus at once. So now I get hit simultaneously on opposite sides of my stomach. She's also figured out how to turn around in there, which means I get kicked on the opposite side from normal, something I find quite disconcerting.

I think my hopes of a sedate little child like R have now gone out the window. This one is probably going to need a leash.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Working through the backlog

Of late, R and I have been trying to get things done. I think it is the looming presence of our impending loss of free time, but all of the sudden we've been very productive. He's been finishing up games he hadn't finished, we've finally got some pictures on the wall, and I've been doing my best to go through my collection of saved recipes. A couple of nights ago we decided to have pot stickers for dinner, so I decided to look for an appropriately flavored side, eventually settling on superlative sesame noodles.

"What are you making?"
"Sesame noodles."
"So, what do they actually taste like? They always call them something completely different from the predominant flavor."
"I think these might actually taste like sesame. Crazy number of sesame products in there."

Indeed, the noodles did taste of sesame. They were also pleasantly spicy, though I think I might have put in a slight bit more hot chili oil than was strictly required. In any case, they were good unadorned as a side (well, I had a little cucumber on mine), and I imagine they would also make a fine main dish. Definitely glad I kept this recipe around.

In other news, friends of mine from my college band had a baby yesterday. Given that I learned about a couple more on the way when they announced the birth, that will bring it up to six babies from band alumni this year. Apparently it was time to start breeding.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Making myself look stereotypical

I've been eating a lot of pickles lately, but it is not because I'm a crazy pregnant lady. No, I'm placing the blame squarely on the blogosphere for this one. All the fresh vegetables of spring seem to turn food bloggers minds (and stomachs) toward briney vegetables. It's either that or the fact that I've started reading the blogs of Deb and David Lebovitz, two seriously pickle-crazy people. In any case, I've been driving R crazy lately by making the house stink of vinegar, but the results have been seriously delicious.

I suppose I can foist some of the blame on Deb, seeing as two of the three recipes I've made have come from her blog. I've made pickled carrot sticks twice now, once with white wine vinegar and once with cider vinegar. I think I like them a little bit better with the white vinegar, but they're really tasty either way. Since you don't cook the carrots, they retain a nice crunch. (Actually, now that I think of it, none of the recipes call for cooking the vegetables, so they're all crunchy and delicious.) I picked up some peas while at the store yesterday so that I would be able to make picked sugar snap peas, and they certainly have not disappointed. As suggested, they're definitely ready to be eaten after only a day of soaking in brine.

I did get to take advantage of the whole "pregnant women eat crazy food" mythos when I brought a container of quick pickled radishes to work. While delicious, I didn't realized quite how pungent they were, and so for a half hour after I ate the radishes I got to hear anyone who walked by wonder what the horrible smell was. Apparently the combination of ginger and vinegar reminds some people of decomposition, so, while I was excused from blame due to my pregnant status (unlike the time I microwaved salmon), the boss lady still Febrezed my office.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

New talents

I've discovered something both awesome and gross. When I try to puff out my belly, it no longer changed much in size, however my belly button pops out.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The advantages of having a husband

R to the rescue!

Look at how my belly dwarfs that doorknob. I'm huge!

I need to clean my bathroom mirror...

What follows is a slide show of my failing to take a good picture of my belly in the bathroom mirror.

I suck.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Second ultrasound photos

It's only been, what, two and a half weeks since the ultrasound? I'm calling these semi-timely.

Here we've got the head (over there on the bottom left, for those of you who aren't good at interpreting ultrasound images). I think she might be grabbing her chin and, if so, she totally got that from me.

A lovely spine. These pictures didn't scan quite as clearly as I would have liked (or maybe it is just that the print-outs suck). Her spine really came out well in the ultrasound. Like a string of pearls.

And, yes, there is indeed a human being in there. We've got a couple more photos, but I'm not going to show them to you. One was supposedly a face picture, but really is a cross-section of her scull and looks like a creepy death's head. The other picture is what I might delicately call an upskirt shot, and although some people feel comfortable posting such things on the internet, I am apparently not one of them. We're saving that picture for blackmail purposes.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

half asleep = crazy hallucinations

So, in the middle of the night I woke up and saw something on R's bedside table. I told him to look over there, at which point in time he told me to stay in bed and that he would take care of it. He left the room, only to return slightly confused, as he had been heading to the office to check whether it was 1:30 am or 1:30 pm. I suppose it was probably the best reaction I could have hoped for, as I had been pointing out the crab-spider hybrid that had been crouching menacingly next to our alarm clock.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Not patient enough for baking

Well, it might not be the end all and be all of pizza crust recipes (or maybe it is just that I didn't let the dough rise completely), but I definitely made a nice little pizza for dinner last night (and ate it in a timely fashion). Considering the fact that R put in a request for pizza the last time I was up at my mother's house (umm... several years ago), it was high time, and I'm sorry I didn't do it sooner.

Go make some pizza.

Friday, May 15, 2009

I could also jump really high, for some reason

I think I've been spending too much time lurking on Facebook lately, as last night I dreamed I was back in my high school band. All of my old classmates were there.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

So long, Betty Crocker

It was the carrot cake that did it.

"What the? This thing doesn't have actual carrots in it. It's got got carrot flavored pieces."
"Really? What are they?"
"Umm... flour, sugar, carrot powder, coloring... other stuff."
"Maybe we should start making our own cakes."
"I doubt it's too hard. We should probably finish the stuff in boxes first, though."
"Of course. We just won't buy any more."

So, there you have it. No more cakes in boxes for me. Tubs of frosting, however, are necessary for the periodic graham cracker and frosting sandwich, so they'll probably stick around.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The fine art of knowing one's audience

I made mustard for Mother's Day. An odd gift, one might think, but it was happily received by my grandmother and step-mom. They like condiments.

After my spices came in the mail (three cheers for cheap bulk spices online), I realized I had enough of each ingredients to double the recipe. As the grainy deli-style mustard recipe was supposed to make a cup and a half, and I was giving gifts of it to two people, I thought that would be a good way to ensure that I had some left over for myself. I'm not entirely sure what happened, as I followed the recipe precisely, but I wound up getting triple the amount of mustard by doubling the recipe. Delicious, yes, but now I've got a ridiculous amount in the fridge. It's a good thing condiments last forever.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Still no pictures

I promise there will be photos in the near future, but apparently I forgot that all the post-ultrasound phone calls I needed to make would take up the entire evening. As for last night... well, REI was having a sale and we needed hammocks. Last time we went camping our friend brought along a couple and they were awesome. They making lounging around the campsite so much more desirable.

Anyway, the ultrasound. We're having a girl! A healthy, very wiggly little girl. Seriously, it looked like she was swimming throughout the scan. After one particularly hearty kick, the sonographer asked if I felt it, at which point in time I finally realized what it feels like when the baby is kicking. Everyone else, my doctor included, seems to think it feels like butterflies, but no. It feels like nothing so much as a tiny foot kicking your innards. All those pangs I thought were muscle twitches? They were actually the baby wailing away at my innards. Now that I know what I'm looking for, it turns out that she kicks a lot. So, as I said, I'm having a very wiggly baby.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Slow and lazy

I could lie, and say the reason I haven't posted is because nothing is going on, but that simply isn't true. I've been thinking about what to post, but I've been very slothful of late and never got any further than that.

The boss lady at my office bought me slippers. Apparently all the other office ladies have them, and she didn't want me to feel excluded. They're really comfortable, and I still can't believe I get to wear them around the office.

My pregnancy definitely seems to be the major source of entertainment for several ladies around the office. They inquire about my health frequently, pregnancy stories are common, and everyone coos over my growing belly. One of the ladies even gave me some parenting books she had lying around the house, which was really nice of her.

R's little sister got engaged. We're all thrilled, since the guy is very nice and we like him. As R was the one on the phone with her, I didn't get to ask what the ring looked like, but I'm totally planning on asking the next time we talk. Other people's relationships can be so exciting.

Belly pictures are on the way, as requested. I go in for an ultrasound on Tuesday, so I will probably post them then, along with any other exciting news that comes out of that appointment. Like, say, the gender of the baby.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Changes

My bellybutton is disappearing.

Well, perhaps that is the wrong word, but it has gotten dramatically shallower over the past couple of weeks. Considering the fact that I'm not quite four months along, I'm pretty sure I'm going to have an outie for several months at the end of this.

Outies are weird.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Nice Things Friday

Friday was a very nice day.

After bugging the tech guy off and on for about a week, Friday morning he finally came over to try and put the more current version of a program on my computer. I had work to do, but could not access our files with my older version of the program. The tech guy tries to install the program, but it won't run on Windows 2000. So, he disappears into his office, and comes back with a brand new computer. Brand spanking new, with the Windows 7 beta on it. As it turns out, the new monitor they had ordered for me had arrived that morning, so in a short amount of time I wound up with a nice new computer setup. It is all very sleek (and Windows 7 seems pretty cool).

On my way home, I decided to drop by this little grocery store (North Park Produce, for those of you in the area). Ever since we moved, I had been eyeing it pretty every time I drove past, and hearing someone on the radio rave about the freshness and cheapness of the produce finally pushed me to go in. Well, it turns out the store is not as small as it looks on the outside, and the produce section is massive! Everything you could look for, and cheap too. I bought a bunch of radishes, a head of lettuce, two mangos, a pound of beets, and some persian cucumbers for $4.20! I couldn't believe it. I didn't want to go crazy and buy everything, but they had so much cool stuff, like quince, tamarinds, raw almonds, huge stalks of lemongrass, several varieties of cucumber... I could go on and on. I only glanced at the deli and non-perishable sections of the store. R and I will have to go back and explore further next time the fridge is empty.

Monday, April 13, 2009

30-hour onions

Several mentions of how well caramelized onions freeze had me eyeing the Costco-sized sack of onions in my pantry. San Diego is not exactly known for its cool and dry weather, so leaving all those onions out made me slightly nervous. Follow up these thoughts with an article on dyeing eggs with onion skins, and you can imagine how I spent my Easter morning.

The eggs, dyed using the skins of regular yellow onions, turned a rich terracotta color. I'd be curious to try red onions, as I imagine they would make a nice purple egg. Being the only boiled egg eater in the house, I had one for lunch today and saved one for a later salad, but was inspired to turn the rest into pickled eggs. Throwing together my own pickling spice from scratch was cool and made me very impressed at the spice collection I have acquired. The only thing I didn't have was whole mustard seed.

The onions took forever. I broke out the mandolin (I knew I kept that thing around for a reason) and quickly sliced a pile of onions into extremely thin slices. I then let them cook in the crock pot... and cook... and keep cooking overnight... and keep cooking while I went to work. They were finally done this afternoon, at which point in time I spooned them into the wells of a mini-muffin pan and put it out in the big freezer (I love that thing!). I think I'll be rolling in caramelized onions for a while, so the whole process was probably worth it.

Today my stomach decided that 14 hours was not a long enough time to digest the twice-baked potato I had for my Easter dinner the night before. I know this not only because of the heavy, unsettled feeling of my stomach, but also because a little came up to greet me this morning. Who made hash browns, I thought, confused. I wound up going back home after a couple of hours and sleeping the rest of the morning. Shortly after I woke up, R arrived home with a few groceries and (drum roll, please) Vegemite! I've been looking for the stuff for ages. He totally made my day.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The week's lesson

I suppose the proper expression is "you learn something new every day," but I really only wound up with one lasting lesson from this week. Considering how unmemorable most weeks tend to be, one lasting, lifetime lesson probably isn't a bad outcome.

This week's lesson: Don't microwave salmon at work.

That probably goes for all fish, but salmon is particularly pungent. R could still smell it upstairs when he got up, hours after I had cooked it. At work, I could hear my boss commenting on it from down the hall, at which point in time I decided to never microwave salmon at work again. He later came into my office in his quest to track down the source of the smell. I fessed up and swore I wouldn't do it again. It was quite embarrassing.

Don't let that one incident fool you, though. The main office of my company is an awesome place to work. I got an Easter basket today!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

"Mess with the girl, YOU GET THE HITLER!"

Well, that's going to get some strange search results. Seriously, though, if you haven't watched The Venture Brothers, I highly recommend it. We've been re-watching it of late and strange phrases from the show (such as the one above) keep popping into my head. Makes life interesting.

Oh, I totally forgot to tell you all that there is something new and exciting. There is a bump! It's little, but I've definitely got a little pregnant belly.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Oh... Hi there

I seemed to have taken a brief, unplanned blog hiatus. We're hitting the end of a six-month project at work, so things have been more than a little hectic as we've been trying to get things done in the time allotted (and not quite succeeding). I wound up working until 7pm last Friday (nearly a 12 hour day), which is somewhat surprising as I have always been opposed to working in one's off-hours.

This afternoon, though, the madness came to a head as we were trying to burn the final product onto DVDs. My outer monologue (too fried for an inner one) went something like this:

"Alrighty, into the writable folder. Now burn... Why aren't you burning? What is the issue?

"Okay, let's try just this one file... Still no? Damn your mother! Why aren't you working?

"Wait, why do you say 'writable CD folder'? Can you not burn DVDs? You have a DVD burner. Here, let's try a new disk... Arg! Why do you hate me! There is no program for burning DVDs, and the boss took the only internet card, so I can't download anything! What are we going to do?

"Aha! My in-laws are back in town! I bet they have a DVD burner. They live in [neighborhood right next to the base]; they're close."

So, in the end, I wound up racing over to my in-laws house and using their DVD burner. Still, far too much stress for someone who had been racing to implement all the last-minute changed and requests and still finish everything for the deadline.

Yesterday, slightly inconveniently as it turns out, I had my first actual visit with my obstetrician. He turned out to be a round, jolly fellow, a bit younger than I was expecting. He whipped out the fetal microphone and found a strong heartbeat exactly where it should be for this stage in gestation (midway between navel and pubic bone), so it seems that the baby is healthy and growing well.

After I commented that I was surprised to be having no morning sickness due to how sick my mother was with me, the nurse's assistant speculated that perhaps it was due to my carrying a boy instead of a girl. Apparently there is some truth to that line of reasoning (see halfway down the article), but the differences are slight. Being my first baby, there really is no way for me to tell. Maybe I'm just very lucky.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hello, Crazyness

I've finally hit the point in my pregnancy when my hormone-addled brain is causing me to do strange things. Yesterday, after pouring out some balsamic vinegar for my lunch, I wiped a drop of vinegar off the bottle and tasted it. It was delicious. I took a swing from the bottle. Awesome. After my lunch, I poured some of the vinegar into a sauce dish and brought it with me to sip on as I read some blogs. It was the most delicious thing. I know balsamic vinegar doesn't normally taste like that, but I just couldn't resist drinking it.

After drinking the vinegar, I sent a message to R asking him to stop by CostPlus on his way some from work and pick me up some Vegemite (as I was clearly craving something pungent and savory). He couldn't find the store (they were using a different name), so he wound up stopping at several grocery stores on the way home. No luck on the Vegemite front, though he did find a jar of Captain Toady's Tartar Sauce, something he has been searching for the entire time I've known him, so it wasn't a total loss. Still, I think every guy needs a sent-out-on-a-crazy-errand-by-their-pregnant-wife story. At least it wasn't 2 am Chinese food (yet).

Still, all those events seem somewhat normal compared to my final anecdote. Last night, I had a rather frustrating dream. R and I were getting some food in a food court. He bought a milk shake. I noticed that the shop had rose-flavored ice cream, so I wanted to try a sample. At first, the people behind the counter were very busy. Then, there was a woman manning the register who didn't speak English. I asked her in Spanish, but for some reason she thought I wanted a sample of Gatorade. "What don't you understand about 'quiero probar el helado de rosas?" I said, to no avail. After that, the staff became rude and surly and just started blowing me off. I eventually got so frustrated that I loudly berated their customer service and threw a burrito at them in frustration. Eventually, the manager came out, smoking the stub of a cigar. He proceeded to tell me a long story that didn't really relate to the situation at hand. I got so frustrated that I showed them the timestamp on R's receipt, proving that I had been trying to get the sample for an hour. Finally, they gave me the sample... and it was not very good tasting. I started to tear up in the dream, only to wake up and find myself actually crying uncontrollably. Scared the pants off of R, who was wondering if there was something wrong, as he'd never seen me cry like that before.

Still, as my sister-in-law said, at least I'm not throwing things and barricading myself in the bathroom yet.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Catastrophe

Had you asked me yesterday morning, I would have sworn that the cat was in cahoots with the baby. Several times during the night it woke us up with bizarre yowling. The first time, after a few minutes, I poked my head outside to see if something was wrong, only to be greeted with the usual "Murrrow?" We did our best to ignore subsequent noises, not wanting to encourage the behavior, but still was fleeting.

As it turns out, the cat was just ravenously hungry. She completely blocked the other cat from the food dish after I filled it, and even went back for seconds. I think she might have had a little cold, as she seemed to have gone off her feed the last few days, which had me rather worried (this is the cat that had to be force-fed and racked up several hundred in vet bills last year).

Monday morning's feast also meant that Tuesday night we didn't have a starving cat, and so were able to get a night of uninterrupted sleep. Seeing as we only have 6 more months until regular sleep disturbances, we're doing our best to sleep well while we can.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Babyproofing

Having had several Pier 1 gift cards sitting in my wallet for a long while, I finally decided to go into the store recently and see what they might have that wasn't too gaudy and awful (or a candle). I wound up purchasing a lovely decorative vase. It was black, with a light blue silhouette of a couple of birds sitting on a branch. I had finally gotten around to taking it out of the bag this afternoon, when I dropped the dang thing. It fell all of three feet onto the carpeted floor, but nevertheless shattered rather fantastically. As disappointing as that was (it was a rather nice looking vase), I'm glad that I did it, rather than the cats or the baby. That thing was clearly not long for this world. Shoddy Peruvian craftsmanship.

Friday, March 20, 2009

What has been going on in my kitchen

Thanks to my lack of morning sickness, cooking has continued unabated in the A&R household. My mom couldn't keep anything down, let alone cook anything, for about 5 months, followed by a month of exclusive quesadilla consumption. So, needless to say, I consider myself fairly fortunate.

I started the week with one of our favorite occasional treats, beer can chicken. Lucky for me, an empty can of flavored seltzer water filled with herbs, water, and a little splash of cooking wine stands in nicely for the actual beer can, as I would have hated to pour beer down the sink to make the can a little less full.

Part of the reason I roasted the chicken (aside from a strong desire to make stock) was that I wanted to try making spicy cabbage and chicken stir-fry with some of the remaining meat. R's recipe sense was tingling when he saw this recipe, and, indeed, it wasn't quite as good as I was hoping for. It wasn't bad, per se, but it wasn't really that good either. Very mild flavors, not at all helped by the fact that we've developed a high spice tolerance. It was a little better for lunch the next day, but still not something I'm planning on making again.

To make up for always making recipes that only I really like (if even that), I followed up the stir-fry with baked ziti, roughly based on this recipe. Really, though, once you know the basics (meat + sauce + pasta + cheese), it is a pretty flexible dish. It is basically deconstructed lasagna. I wound up using Swiss, cheddar, and Romano cheese (as those were all we had in the house) and adding a little layer of sour cream in the middle of all the pasta. The final dish was delicious, though I will be leaving the sour cream out next time.

Tonight, we try something very new, something R has been looking forward to ever since he sent me this link. Tonight, we make Buffalo chicken wings. It seems simple and delicious, so I think it should be a wild success. I'm very glad for my deep fryer at this moment. Wish me luck!


Edited (9:55pm): Oh, man. The chicken wings were awesome. I wound up cleaning up every last bit of Buffalo sauce from the plate with my finger.

Also, I forgot to tell you about the hash. One of my favorite blog columns, Unexplained Bacon, wrote a how-to article about hash. The, uh, food. Not the drug. Anyway, I decided to give it a shot for breakfast this morning and wound up making a fairly tasty roast chicken hash. The one lesson to take away from it? Don't coarsely dice the potatoes, as it makes cooking take a bit longer than it should (plus it decreases the crispy outside to soft inside ratio in an unfavorable manner).

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pie!

A slightly belated happy Pi Day to all! By the way, I know it isn't the prettiest looking pie around, but this rustic pear custard pie is really delicious and easy to make. I happened to have picked up a couple of pears at the supermarket, so I wound up having all the ingredients to make it in the cupboard (and I didn't even have to dig out the food processor to make the crust).

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Wanted: Teen pregnancy clothes

Okay, so maybe I don't really want super-low rise skinny maternity pants, but the maternity clothes I've seen so far are mostly very stodgy. I know there are more over 40 women getting pregnant, but the average age for a first pregnancy is still mid-20s. This means we don't just want trousers.

In summary, up yours, Target. Your sucky maternity selection means I'm going to be buying most of my new wardrobe at Old Navy, where there is lots of selection and the clothes are actually cool looking.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

And now for the baby pictures

Okay, so I suppose this would technically be a fetus picture. Whatever. It's about 9 weeks old, and is supposed to be born on October 1st (though, knowing my family's tendency toward 10-month first pregnancies, I'm doubting that will happen). R's brother said we'd be able to see a shrimp, but the nurse said that it is now to the stage that looks like a gummi bear. It has also been referred to as the size of a peanut (medical assistant) and a dog biscuit (R).

I also need to start hitting the treadmill daily. Apparently you're only supposed to gain about 5 pounds in the first trimester but, two months along, I've already gained 10. Whoops.

On a side note, I nearly forgot to remove my name and medical record number from the photo. Phew! Quick save.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The pudge

I know I'm pregnant, but I'm becoming slightly paranoid about getting fat. Sure, I'm supposed to gain weight, but not too much weight. Anything extra you have to work of afterwards. In truth, I think my biggest fear is winding up looking like my grandmother and getting Type II diabetes. I'm shaped the same way she was when she was younger, so I'm probably inclined that way.

This has all been brought on by my increased gut size. I think it will be better when my belly actually looks like a pregnant belly, rather than food storage. R thinks I'm being paranoid, and that I'm not actually eating as much more than normal as I think I am. He pointed out that I'm not eating all the time, so I'm not on course to obesity. He's probably right. I'm just eating a morning snack and sometimes an extra piece of fruit at lunch. I just feel extra hungry.

This morning, however, my "fat" jeans (I accidentally bought them a size to large on e-bay) feel rather tight around the belly. Admittedly, they're fresh from the dryer and this is the first time I've had clean jeans in almost a month, so I'm used to them being somewhat stretched out. Still, I've had to unbutton the top button to be able to sit comfortably at work. Looks like I'll be shopping for comfy pants this afternoon.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

House call

News of Friday's first prenatal visit has apparently circulated though the crew, even though I never explicitly stated what sort of appointment it was. Knowledge of my pregnancy has also spread, though, and since most of the guys have kids they were able to reach the logical conclusion. They also like sharing their expertise on the subject, knowing that this is my first time.

"So, Miss Thang, you doing alright?"
"Not too poorly."
"Any morning sickness"
"No"
"Eating well? Getting enough calories?"
"Yup."
"Well, there you go. You no longer need to go to the doctor's office."
"What about the blood test?"
"That's it, I'm out."

Monday, February 23, 2009

The danger in letting other people do your laundry

I was driving in to work this morning, when I noticed this odd smell. What is that? Soap? It followed me all the way inside my office, before I finally realized what it was. While over at R's parent's house last night, R's mom had washed our jackets, as out washing machine has been broken since we moved in. Normally I use unscented laundry detergent, as I've had reactions before. Her laundry detergent apparently was the fragranced variety, as I could smell myself all day. It was awful.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

In which I slyly slip news into other news

As if I didn't have enough trouble keeping this blog updated, I'm thinking of starting another. I've been wanting to post pictures of my lunches, but I don't think this is quite the place for it, so I'm going to make a separate blog just for that. Lunch is pretty much the highlight of my days lately. I've got work, unpacking, and lunch. Oh, and I'm pregnant. I suppose that is pretty exciting, actually, though at the moment it is just boobs and pimples and ravenous hunger. Which probably explains the intensified obsession with lunch.

We went on a tour of a local birth center last night, to see if I want to wrangle my insurance into letting me go there. All the other ladies on the tour were so much more pregnant than me, which made me feel slightly out of place. Really, I'm just on top of things. We walked by a recovery room in the maternity ward where I could see tiny arms and legs sticking out of a blanket, at which point in time I had one of those moments where you really feel what is actually going on. Whoa. We're going to have one of those in a few months. It still feels a bit academic and surreal.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

...and we're back

It is amazing how much the lack of internet feels like losing a limb. There is this part of your life that you normally take for granted, but without which you feel totally off balance. Maybe it's just me. We wound up having to go almost an extra week, due to stupidity on the part of or cable company. They wound up switching our service from fiber to dsl without telling us, but then the phone lines at our new place were having issues. It wound up being faster for us to switch to cable, rather than wait for them to figure out what the problem was with the dsl.

The new place is really starting to feel like home. The transition happened pretty fast, with the exception of today, when I had a brief relapse. Last night, we tried the washing machine for the first time, only to find out that the thing has a serious leak. Many towels (and a bucket downstairs) later, I started to freak out a bit about our decision to move here. This place is defective. What have we gotten ourselves into? The sentiment was enhanced by the numerous small defects that one notices only after moving in. All the blinds are damaged in some way, the garage door locks of its own accord (locking us out with no keys the second night we moved here), the oven smells of gas when turned on. The landlady responded to my e-mail for repairs quickly, though, so I think this place will work out.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Withdrawal

Soaking up one last bit of internet before breaking down the office for the move. Service won't be up at our new place until Monday (apparently some people only work during normal business hours), so I'll be out of contact with the world all weekend.

Packing has moved into high gear these last few days. It is amazing the amount of stuff you can remove before the place stops feeling like home. Apparently the curtains were a big part of my mental image of the rooms, as the whole place seems empty now that the miniblinds are laid bare.

There are definitely some things I'll miss about this place: the luxurious kitchen, the garden, not sharing walls. One thing I will not miss, however, is the neighbor's dog. When encountered in front of the house, it is nice enough, but it has some territorial issues about the back yard. It apparently considers everything within eye shot part of its back yard, and since the neighbor's house doesn't have a back fence, that includes my backyard and rear rooms of my house. When it sees me, even if I'm inside, it barks, and barks, and barks. Ignoring it doesn't work. Instead, I have to go challenge it until it retreats to its actual yard. I'm sure it will think it has won, but it will be wrong.

... That was clearly the exhaustion talking. Back to packing.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Empty nest

Our roommate moved out yesterday, and suddenly the house feels too big. If you were to look though the house, ignoring the two rooms he occupied, you would hardly be able to tell the difference, but the house feels different anyway.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Somehow, the loss of an hour made all the difference

Ever since coming back from Utah, R and I have had a much easier time getting to bed at a reasonable hour. Thanks to this, it has also been much easier to get up for work. It has been nice, though I'm wondering how long it will last.

Anywho, the trip. It was great! Up on the mountain, it snowed the night we arrived, so the next morning we got to snowboard in pristine powder. It was the sort of snow people beg the weather gods for, and we just lucked into it. I've only been in powder once before, and our friend who came along had never been in powder, so we had to re-learn how to steer our boards. Nevertheless, it was amazing. We floated down the slopes all morning, going from powder patch to powder patch. It continued snowing up on the mountain throughout the weekend, so we had fluffy snow all weekend. My only bruise came from slipping in the lift line, when my foot shot out from under me and my knee hit my binding. It was, however, a mighty large bruise.

Our drive back home was a bit more exciting (nay, treacherous) than our drive to Utah. As per tradition, we wound up driving home in a snow storm. Fortunately, we reached the edge of the storm when we were leaving Utah and didn't have to deal with any closed overpasses.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A race against time

Now that the moving day is set, I'm rushing to put all the fruit from the backyard to use. I made a monster batch of kumquat marmalade (this time using the food processor, which made it really fast), but there was still a tree worth of oranges that I don't particularly feel like turning into jam. My solution? Chutney, as I have been enjoying chutneys on my grilled cheese sandwiches of late.

As I was searching, none of the recipes quite fit my taste. Some involved onions (ick), others raisins (double ick), and several involved ingredients that were challenging if not impossible to obtain in California, or, indeed, in this country. Nevertheless, I found a recipe that, after adaptations, worked pretty well.

Orange Chutney
Adapted from astray recipes
  • 4 large oranges
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 2 large cooking apples
  • 2 oz candied ginger (I couldn't track down the stem ginger from the original recipe)
  • 2 T chopped apricots (I didn't have any currants at the time, nor did I feel like using the standard substitute: raisins)
  • 1 fresh chili, chopped
  • 1 oz salt
  • 3/4 c soft brown sugar
  • 2/3 c honey (the original golden syrup being not available in this country outside of the South)
  • White or cider vinegar

1. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the oranges and chop the peel. Cut the pith from the orange and chop the flesh, removing the seeds. Chop the ginger, apples, apricots, and chili. Juice the orange.

2. Put oranges, apples, orange juice, ginger, apricots, chili, salt and pepper into a saucepan. Cover and simmer until the oranges are tender. Add a bit more orange juice if it seems to be drying out.

3. Add the sugar, honey, and vinegar to cover the fruit. Mix well and boil gently, stirring occasionally until it thickens (it will take about an hour). Pour into sterilized jars (or put in the fridge).

I think I'm going to pick the rest of the oranges before this weekend's snowboarding, as I'm also in a race against my landlord. If the fruit lingers too long on the tree, he starts thinking I don't want it and has been known to take it for himself. Those persimmons weren't quite ripe, curse you!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Finally useful

For the past year, I've been hoarding boxes. Working at a school with no textbooks, we went through reams and reams of paper, so it was hard to resist taking advantage of the box supply. I knew we'd be moving sometime. Then, with the wedding, all the gifts came in the mail, in boxes (and sometimes in boxes in boxes), and I saved those as well. The corners of our house were filled with box towers, and for someone with no moving plans, it was getting a little creepy.

However, all that box hoarding will be paying off, in that I now won't have to be scrounging for boxes. We put in an application for new place and got the word back today that they want us. The place is awesome! The only downside is that there isn't a garden or patio. There is a community garden across the street, but I haven't heard back from the coordinator (and it seems like those places always have a waiting list), so I'm going to have to figure out how to do a lot of gardening indoors. We've got a little loft area with a skylight, so I'm thinking I'll get a tall wire rack, so that I can have several tiers of plants. I'll definitely have to document this project.