Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Salty and Sweet

I have a confession to make: I'm scared. I've been scared of just about everything for most of my life, but right now, I fear that my current unease at putting myself out there in the world, as in dancing when I feel like it, engaging in conversion with an acquaintance, pursuing writing, as in singing karaoke at a bar with friends, taking myself seriously in a career, or picking up a dusty paintbrush, and the dissatisfaction that comes along with it will eventually destroy the happiness I currently posses in my personal life, aka, Ben and Hannah. Because fear thrives on neglect, you have one of two choices: confront the fear in the hopes that you posses the stamina to repeatedly venture past it or, go to such extremes to avoid it, that you end up alienating the ones that you love and even your own hopes and desires. 
Parenthood brings to the surface a lot of the crap we have painstakingly packed away in the neglected attics of consciousness. It can be an arduous and isolating journey coming to terms with how much our own fate is tied to that of our children's and this last year for me has been both salty and sweet. I have never been the type of person to push myself too hard, but being Hannah's mother has done something irrevocable to me. From the very first time she nuzzled into my chest, I felt a powerful desire to be something more. I yearn to be a better person, for me, and through me for her. It is as though her little bright eyes shined a light on every crevice of my being, exposing every lie I had ever sold myself for the sake of comfort. Living without these lies has been uncomfortable to say the least, but it has also been an amazing opportunity, for without them my options are plain. I can close my eyes and stand still - and in doing so, throw away my self-respect and  the potential respect of my daughter, or I could move forward, learn how to live, and become a worthy role model.

My mother loves telling the story of how as a baby I once fell while trying to pull myself up on a rickety piece of furniture. I apparently disliked the experience so much that, in an effort to avoid falling ever again, from that point on I shook everything I pull up on. Very clever for an infant, but as I watch Hannah learn to walk, and run, and jump with an unflinching determination, I can't help but wonder if my 'very clever' approach has translated to my adult life. It is scary watching Hannah find her footing in this world, her approach so unlike mine. When Hannah wants something, she goes straight for it. She falls, and falls again, never letting the experience impede her from trying again . She might alter her approach slightly, but pull back the reins she does not and you know what? She always succeeds. When I see her try a new stunt, like ridding her rocking horse standing up (one handed!!), I've stopped saying no. Because, although my insides are churning with the fear of her failure, she always succeeds... eventually. Perhaps all the caution with which I have lived my life, though protecting me from life's bumps and bruises, has also hindered me from taking chances, being reckless, following my desires, and most importantly, moving forward. 

Unfortunately, taking a good look at your fears does not diminish them. I'm beginning to get the feeling that they never go away and that we can only hope to grow more comfortable with them. So comfortable, that we no longer let them steer us away from the things we love, from the people we love. In my case, the solution is simple: it's time that I take a few spills and, in taking a cue from my 14 month old daughter, get back up, brush myself off, and keep going. It's called growing up, and what a relief to be finally doing it! The ironic part is that, in my endeavor to become a role model for my daughter, she has actually become my mine.

I'm going to try this out:
Little Peasant
Let me know what you think...

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Mom's Black Bean Burgers

The title Stay at home mom does not convey in entirety the job that it is presumes to represent. Before I actually was one, SAHM (for this purpose lets just call it mom) sounded like a one note job such as working on a factory line or answering phones. I had no idea just how complex being the caretaker of a fragile young thing could be. On a regular day, being a mom requires one to be a bodyguard, a personal assistant , an occupational therapist, and even a pillow. Yes, a pillow! On a bad day, it is essential that you be a nurse, a referee, and to be endowed with the infinite wisdom of the Dali Lama himself. The briskness with which you must change these hats, and the ability to match the appropriate role to each circumstance has left me more tired then chasing my very active 13 month old around the playground. The one role that I am surprised to say, brings out the most doubts in my ability, is the role of personal chef.

When my daughter first started eating solids, I was so excited to introduce her to all the flavors and textures that the world had to offer. I made her the most exciting purees; sweet potato with citrus, ginger and sage, pureed peas with mint, and roasted carrots with garlic and cumin. She literally ate it up. She was such a complicit little foodie that I had no idea what was just around the corner. Of course people warned me; They told me how their baby had been a good eater, once, before toddlerhood left them surviving solely on PBandJ and plain pasta. It was hard to imagine my pickled herring eating little girl turning her nose up to anything. Then one day it happened, the tongue trust. It's heartbreaking seeing your child spitting out food you worked so hard to cook, but it is something I would get used too. Most green vegetables were a no-go. Broccoli was abhorred. She'd happily eat something one day, then turn her nose up to it the next. Then, one day, she refused to be fed from a spoon and purees were a thing of the past.

Being my daughter's personal chef, and her my critic, has been a true learning experience, and a humbling one at that. Every time I step into the kitchen to make her lunch, or dinner, or breakfast, I have no idea what is going to happen, and how much of it will end up on the floor. It is like my very own cooking challenge only, there are no TV cameras, and it is not a reality show. Sometimes, she wolfs the food down, and others she is much happier smushing it between her fingers or smearing it across her high chair tray. What I have learned, is to not take it so personally, to not give up (I finally got her to eat broccoli hidden under a cheesy quinoa casserole), that ketchup is not evil, and that, in the end, I'd rather not be my daughter's warden. In every other role that I play for my daughter, I do my best to step back and let her discover the world in what way works for her. Do I let her play with matches, of course not! When she falls, I do my best to catch her, and when she throws her lunch on the freshly moped floor, I take a deep breath and with that wisdom I was talking about, I free her from her high chair so she can play. She will of course, be hungry later. Especially when I've made these oh so delicious, toddler friendly, and vegetable laden black bean burgers.

Mom's Black Bean Burgers
  • Ingredients

  • 1 can of Amy's refried Beans
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 Cup of Panko
  • 1/2 Cup of mushrooms diced
  • 1 shredded kohlrabi
  • 3 Tbs of corn flour
  • 1/2 cup of shredded cheese (cheddar or parm)
  • 3Tbs mayonaise
  • 2 Tbs of oil

Heat 1 Tbs of oil over a medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook for 4 mins.
Add Kohlrabi and cook for another 3 mins. Let mixture cool.
In a large bowl, mix together the beans, eggs, Panko, corn flour, cheese, mayo, and oil. Mix well.
Add in the mushroom/kohlrabi mixture.
Form mixture into paddies before placing them onto a non stick heated pan to cook.
I make the patties toddler sized, but you can make then adult sized.
Cook on each side until done, about 4 mins roughly.
I freeze these individually and reheat them in the toaster.
Once heated, I cut them into wedges and serve them with a dipping sauce.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

The Gripping Revelation

On the nights that I handle Hannah's wake ups, Ben kindly lets me sleep in and brings me coffee in bed. Sometimes the coffee is just the way I like it, pipping hot with just the right amount of milk and sugar. Then, other times, he brings me coffee that is too strong, with not enough milk, and to my horror, luke warm. When he hands over the flawed cup, I find it impossible to conceal my dismay. He'll look at me ruefully as I take a sip and ask, "what's the matter?" He knows of course that it's the coffee.

All the time in my head I am wondering, 'does he listen to me when I tell him that I no longer like the coffee at Fort Defiance because it is too strong for me? That, post baby I have turned into a regular strength coffee drinker?' I question weather he sees me take the time to heat my coffee cup so that my coffee is as hot as possible. Doesn't he notice that my coffee is four shades lighter than his? This is why I need a coffee robot, I declare quietly to myself.

So many rituals in my life have been changed or eradicated since the birth of my daughter, but my morning coffee is not one of them. In fact it is as important as ever. Even Hannah herself understands the transformative properties of that magical brown concoction. Every morning she watches with delight as I guzzle my morning potion waiting with glee for it to take effect. I wonder how old she will have to be before she can make me coffee in the morning...

It was this past Tuesday night that I had the gripping revelation. They were playing WALLIE at the pier and Ben and I were picnicking. I had made sandwiches and he had made potato salad. I forgot to put basil on the sandwiches and they weren't very good, but he didn't say anything. As I watched the movie, ironically about a cute little robot, I realized that, on those morning where I am too tired to make my own coffee, I actually do have a coffee Robot, my husband. And as I watched my coffee robot eat my untasty sandwich without complaint, it hit me. Though it has been my dream to own one, I don't actually deserve a coffee robot. Awch.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hot Chicks, Cool Celery

With temperatures in Brooklyn hitting record highs, Cindy, one of my chickens, gave me a look of both sorrow and disdain. "May as well toss me in the oven, I bet it would be cooler than this heat-locker of a coop... at least the kitchen is air conditioned!"

Of course she didn't actually say that, but she just about implied it with those kvetching eyes of hers. I do love a good roasted chicken, so I was tempted to take Cindy up on her offer however, it seemed pure madness to even consider turning the oven on during such a heat wave.

If only Cindy could cool down with the refreshing celery elixir Ben made with our Red Hook CSA celery greens. She would be a mighty cool chick kickn' back with a icy glass of this aromatic brew. Instead she'd just another hot chick rollin' around in the dirt wishing she understood the meaning of air-conditioning.

Red Hook Celery Brew

  • 2 cups of celery leaves
  • 1 gallon water
  • ½ tablespoon celery seed
  • 6-10 oz. agave syrup or twice as much sugar syrup
  • Juice of 1-2 limes

  1. Coarsely chop celery leaves
  2. Add leaves and seeds to water in stock pot and boil for 10-15 minutes
  3. Let cool and strain into gallon jar
  4. Add sweetener and lime juice
  5. Server over ice in a collins glass

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Ugly Pancake

My Mother never told me that not every pancake, is a good looking pancake. So it only stands to reason that I was more than a little thrown when I made these tasty, yet incredibly homely pancakes for the first time

It all began with a game of Something-Out-Of-Nothing - a game where I try and come up with a tasty meal out of what happens to be in the house. On this day in particular, all I had was some cold leftover oatmeal, 2 bananas, flour, and some eggs. Apparently, that's all I needed!

These pancakes were delicious, they were healthy, charming (yes, charming), great out of the fridge, they fit perfectly in the toaster, they had everything going for them... well, almost everything. These tasty cakes were only missing one thing, and there was no sugar coating what it was, these pancakes were not easy on the eyes, if you know what I mean.

I tried covering them up, drowning them in whipped cream and berries. I tried garnishes of all kinds, but nothing could hide their grayish brown complexion and peculiar shape. Unable to cope with the great disparity between taste and looks, I eventually stopped making them, and forgot all about their unappealing looks... until today. It was while I was eating cold leftover oatmeal that an image flashed into my mind. I was horrified. Not by the thought of these 'homely' pancakes, but of what an immature foodie I was to kick these delicious breakfast fritters to the curb for not being perfect. These pancakes weren't ugly, they were just different! How superficial can you get!

After whipping up a batch, this time using buckwheat flour, I am happy to say that they were even more delicious then I remembered, and I must say, kinda cute (yes cute!)

So, please, tell all your children, tell your friends, tell the guy sitting next to you on the bus: there is no such thing as an ugly pancake!

Blueberry Peach Oatmeal Fritters


  • 2 cups of rolled oats
  • 2 1/2 cups of water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup Buckwheat flour (or whatever flour you desire)
  • 2 very ripe mashed bananas (optional)
  • 4 eggs (whisked)
  • 1 peach diced
  • 2 handfulls of blueberries
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4tsp ground clove

  1. Cook the oats, water, syrup, and spices over medium heat for about 3 mins
  2. Add berries and peaches and cook an additional 2 mins (add more water if dry)
  3. Remove from heat, add vanilla and let mixture cool
  4. Once oatmeal is room temperature, add eggs, flour, and bananas and stir until mixed well
  5. Ladle the batter out into a lightly oiled, non stick pan in sand dollar sized disks
  6. Cook over a medium-high heat for about 3-4 minutes on each side

*these guys are great for freezing and reheat great in the toaster.

** Also good finger food for babies who are able to use their pinchers to feed themselves. I break these up into bite sized pieces for my 9 month old daughter. She just loves feeding herself these for breakfast.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Defining Romantic

Some people would like you to believe that once you have children romance is dead and that spontaneity is out the window. Don’t believe them. While it is likely you will have to repress a few impulsive urges, that does not mean that you can never enjoy an impromptu romantic afternoon or evening. Babies take naps, so do toddlers, older kids have music class and sleepovers, and they all thankfully have a bedtime. In fact, allowing for romance post child requires that you embrace spontaneity with a fervor like never before. It requires a whole new level of ingenuity, ardor, dedication, and lets face it, a few hours of lost sleep.

I have never been a fan of The ‘Romantic’ dinner. The candlelight, the soft music, the strawberry shortcake for two, the whole thing just seems absurdly premeditated. As if romance were something calculated. I happen to know that Fancy Valentine’s Day prefixes are the antithesis of romance. Nothing can ruin the wild nature of prospective love more then sitting in a room full of other hopefuls trying to approximate the very same thing. While you can aspire for romance, you can’t plan for it, and you certainly can’t buy it for $85 a head with a complimentary glass of Prosecco. Romance is organic, uncultivated; it grows out of adoration; respect, and desire, spontaneity is what sets it aglow. Sure, strawberries and Champagne with a loved one is special, but I’ll take getting caught in a rainstorm then warming up with a hot toddy with them any day.

For Ben and I, a romantic dinner usually includes cooking together, though sometimes we cook meals for one another. Much of the time it involves us geeking-out on how the food turned out, what we would do differently next time, and waxing about future cooking challenges. Sometimes we will choose a bottle of wine to go with the meal or make a cocktail and other times not. We never plan these romantic dinners, so it hard to say what they will involve and its hard to define what exactly makes them romantic. They pretty much just come about on their own, Hannah goes to sleep easily, the meal just comes together, we are both ready and willing to un-wind. What I can say, it that, now that we have Hannah, there is one ingredient that we can pretty much count on in order for us to have a romantic dinner, and that’s a baby monitor.