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.