Archive | February, 2013

The Great and Powerful Blog

27 Feb

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There’s a hot topic on the parenting/mom blogs these days.  I mean, there are a lot of hot topics (Attached Parenting, for example. No one ever seems to get tired of bashing or praising that whole business).  Then of course there’s breastfeeding vs. bottle-feeding (I’ve been a part of that whole business).  However, the past several weeks the parenting blogs, heretofore known as pogs, have been aflutter about pictures. There are a few of the most popular parenting/mom blogs that seem to paint an eternally serene picture of mom/parenting life.  There always seems to be the perfect amount of snow on the ground or just the right of sunshine coming through a window.  And the food! Oy, the food! It’s healthy and interesting and made from scratch! It’s so wholesome and homemade it could make Laura Ingalls Wilder’s meal selection on the prairie look like an all-you-can-eat buffet at the local Sizzler.  And let’s not forget the children.  The children are clean and interesting and eat all that wholesome food while making origami and knitting their own sweaters.  Now, I’m not exempt from some of that. I post pictures of my daughter and more often than not she is smiling and looking happy.  I mean, who wants to look at pictures of crying children? I’m trying to attract people to this here blog not turn them away running.  I also have a goal of not wanting someone to call Child and Family Services on me based on unhappy baby pics. Yikes.

But then there’s the other side.  There are the parent/mombloggers who want you to know how much they hate Instagram and Facebook.  Please, PLEASE know that they do not post pictures of their children anywhere because they want to live in the moment.  Kveller.com recently got an influx of new followers and great publicity when a blogger of theirs posted a rant on the first category of “perfect harmony” (my words, not hers) mom bloggers.  Her post started a campaign on the site called No More Fake Book where readers can post pictures of what parenthood really looks like (I myself posted a picture of my husband with our daughter.  Both of them were in Giants jerseys only Siona was freaking out and had her classic cry face on).  It resonated with a lot of people and I enjoyed what she had to say and how she said it.  Yet, I’m still somewhere in the middle.

Here’s the thing.  I like the rosy-cheeked children and the perfectly placed raindrop on the window behind a cup of coffee in a mug handmade by the aforementioned rosy-cheeked children.  But I also like the pictures and the bloggers who are real with their parenting.  Thank you for letting us know that you had to feed your kids box mac n’ cheese cause you work full time and didn’t have time to make your own pasta for dinner.  I don’t feel so inadequate.  For reals, thank you.  And yet, it’s hard enough being a parent and sometimes I don’t want to read about someone else’s struggles with parenting.  I have a nearly 7th month old baby.  She’s my first kid and your story about how your 2 kids were up all night for 3 nights with fevers TERRIFIED me. I mean I lost sleep just thinking about how I would be able to handle that.  But then there’s that rosy-cheeked blogger mom again. I’m having a hard time digesting the fact that you’re on baby number 3 and you still manage to wear lipstick, style your hair and go out and get coffee with friends WITH your 2 week old baby.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t shower for the first 2 weeks of my kid’s life and I’m still waiting to put lipstick on again.  And here’s the inadequacy again. But here’s the thing, no one can MAKE me feel anything.  I allow that feeling to exist. I give that person/blogger/child/whomever the power to ‘make’ me feel that way.  And I know this is going to blow y’all’s minds but I, and anyone else, don’t actually have to read the blogs you don’t want to read.  I also get to pick and choose who I follow on Instagram. Nowadays you get to pick your news, your culture, your online life.  It’s all your choice (for example, if this post is pissing you off then just close your browser).

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Someone’s not diggin’ on the whole ‘apple’ thing.

So because I still haven’t made dinner yet tonight I’m gonna cut to the chase—the food!  As we’re preparing for Passover (we’re staying put for the first time ever), I’m of course thinking of food.  I want to diversify and not get stuck in the matzah rut.  Listen, I like matzah . . . the first 3 days but day 4 rolls around and I’m all, “that better be a piece of cardboard you’re waving at me cause if that’s matzah I need you to get it out of my face”.  I hope to be able to cook with a lot of fresh veggies and fruits but the one item this house will not do without is Temp Tee cream cheese.  I’m not kidding.  My husband buys at least 2-3 tubs of it every Pesach.  He loves the whipped yumminess but I think it also gives him really great memories of Pesachs of yore.  Now since I’m going to try to be easy on the matzah I was thinking a great way to have a sandwich and not have to use matzah is to use apples!  Below is a recipe that’s super easy yet super delicious and I dare ya not to eat the left over Temp Tee/preserves mixture with a spoon like a delicious soup!

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Apple Sandwiches with With Temp Tee Whipped Cream Cheese

What!?

1 Golden Delicious apple (or any of your choosing)3 Spoonfuls of Temp Tee Whipped Cream Cheese
2 Spoonfuls of raspberry preserves
Handful of chocolate chips
Handful of chopped walnuts

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How’s That Now!?

Mix Temp Tee Whipped Cream Cheese and raspberry preserves into a small bowl.  Cut apples into 1/4 inch thick round slices. Spread Temp Tee and raspberry preserve mixture onto one slice.  Top with your choice of chocolate chips, walnuts or even dried cherries.  You can also go crazy and top it with all of the above toppings.  Lay the other slice of apple on top like a sandwich and enjoy!

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Balance

25 Feb

Self-care can be a tricky thing. It can be a tricky thing but I believe in it so much. As a new mom, a wife, a full-time school counselor and taking on cooking 3 meals a week for someone, I can leave “me” behind from time to time. Even this blog, which I love so much, can become just one more thing I “HAVE” to do. People continuously say, “You have to learn to find a balance.” I get that, I do, but ummmm, how does one do that and how does one know when you’ve reach ‘balance’ because, and I don’t know, this might be a new idea for ya, but life changes—constantly. As a result of this awesome constant change, it seems like once you find a balance something new comes along and you gotta start looking for that balance again. So the balance and the change? That stuff I can’t really control but boundaries. Oh man, I loooove me some boundaries. I still get excited when I pass into a new state and you see the, “You’re Now Leaving . . . ” and then immediately afterwards, “Welcome to . . . .! We’re happy to have you!” so of course I’m gonna love personal boundaries! I like making them and I certainly like keeping them. Thank Gd because I think my personal boundaries are the only reason I can function in society, much less function as a wife, mother, friend, school counselor, daughter, etc.

I’m very strict when it comes to boundaries and do a pretty good job of keeping work at work but of course, there are those nights when I’m on my iPhone checking email and dang it, I reply! NO!! Oy. I actually pride myself on not saying , ‘how high?’ when my supervisor or a parent says, ‘jump’ and I kinda feel like it’s part of my job to set up those boundaries because if you’ve ever worked at a private school, you know that pushing boundaries is a constant, every second occurrence happens sometimes. I say all of this because last week I was feeling like my cup runneth over with well, everything. I got sick for the third time in 6 weeks and I NEVER get sick that much. Yes, we have day care germs running rampant in this apartment and it’s possible that that’s why I keep getting sick. But I’ve also decided that I keep getting sick for another reason; actually 2 reasons. Now, I’m no medical doctor but I’m thinking I keep getting sick because a) my gossiping is out of control and I need to keep that in check more and b) stress. It’s ridiculous how the body holds onto stress in ways we aren’t cognizant of and how that stress can manifest itself in the body in pretty negative ways. So last Monday I made two decisions; 1) to cut out the gossiping or at least keep it to a very respectable minimum and 2) make an appointment with your therapist. I did both and saw my therapist 2 days later (I also got on antibiotics, but whatever) and I’ve felt a lot better this past week. I feel less pissed off and feel like I’m able to connect to my husband and daughter on a much more loving basis. I mean things aren’t perfect but they’re getting there. It’s a balance 😉

So this happened this past Purim--she's either a pirate, hippie or Johnny Depp. We're still not sure

So this happened this past Purim–she’s either a pirate, hippie or Johnny Depp. We’re still not sure

And then this -- Carrie Bradshaw, circa 2003/2004, Season 2.  I'm a really really good mom.

And then this — Carrie Bradshaw, circa 2003/2004, Season 2. I’m a really really good mom.

OK, since we’re on the topic of balance there really is no other way to showcase balance in cooking besides soup (in my humble opinion). Soup used to be incredibly intimidating to me and then one day, when my husband and I were first falling in love in Jerusalem, he made me chicken soup. He used the freshest ingredients available at the shuk, added a dash of love and the result was the greatest chicken soup I’ve ever tasted. Now, I’m not gonna post that recipe but I am gonna post a roasted eggplant and tomato soup that made my heart sing when we ate it. I hope you find it delicious as well.

Delicious food porn

Delicious food porn

Pre-roasting

Pre-roasting

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

What!?

2 eggplants cut in half4 tomatoes – varied is your option but plums could be nice
4 large garlic cloves
1 medium onion , chopped
Coconut oil
4 cups vegetable broth
Sea salt
Pepper
Sour cream
Parmesan
Italian parsley, chopped

How’s That Now!?

Pre-heat oven to 425. Cut the eggplants length-wise. Spread coconut oil over eggplants and place face down on a baking pan. Cut tomatoes length-wise as well and put to the side. Put eggplant in oven for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, put tomatoes and garlic on the same baking pan and place back in the oven for another 25 – 30 minutes keeping an eye on the garlic that it doesn’t burn. After a total of about 45 minutes, pull the baking pan out of the oven and let cool. Using a pair of tongues, flip the eggplants over and scoop the meat out of the middle until on the skin is left. Pour about 3 tbsp of coconut oil in a large stock pot and heat for a minute. Once hot enough, sautee the onions in the coconut oil until translucent. Add the eggplant meat, tomatoes and garlic to the pot and sautee for another few minutes. Add the vegetable broth and let simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. Take pot off the heat. Using our favorite immersion hand blender, blend all the ingredients together until smoother. Top with a dollop of sour cream, parmesan and the parsley. Enjoy!

(This was one of those cooking experiences where the soup finished right before shabbat so there is no picture of the final outcome but trust when I say, ’twas delicious).

Monday Round-up: Cookies and Question

11 Feb

This month’s Kosher Connection challenge asked us to make ‘something that you’d put in a mishloach manot bag.  I mean, what popped in my head was cookie . . . .cookie, cookie COOKIE! Now look, e’rybody has a hamentaschen recipe so I wasn’t going to attempt to reinvent the wheel plus, this past week was super stressful and there are no signs of stopping.  After parent/teacher conferences, a larger amount than usual of 6th grade girls coming to my office to sob like a babies talk things out, and a few heart-breaking conversations with parents dealing with divorce, I wasn’t really in a creative frame of mind.  I coudn’t tap into that part of me that gets jazzed for some cooking/baking and it was getting frustrating but more on that later.

Siona will eventually get Uncle Dave's nose

Siona will eventually get Uncle Dave’s nose

The biggest thing on my mind over this shabbat was connection.  As you know if you’ve read this blog before, I’m a school counselor for a Jewish day school.  I love my job and I take it seriously.  The biggest part of my job that I wish I had more time to cultivate is my work with connecting girls with Judaism.  I’m getting really frustrated (oy, apparently I need a vacay.  I’m getting frustrated a lot this week) with the lack of opportunities for connection for our girls.  If I hear one more girls program on tzniut I might scream.  It’s nice that there are programs for Jewish girls to connect via challah-baking and mikveh-visiting but this can’t be the only way we offer our girls connection, right? But what is that within the Orthodox community? What does that connection and the subsequent programming look like? I feel very strongly that the message we’re sending our girls is that their place within our community lies solely in home-making and child-rearing and sometimes educating but even that education is within a box.  We don’t invest the time and energy in educating our girls about how to daven and why we daven like we do with our boys. I want to inspire girls to love their culture, community, and religion but I’m not sure how to do that.  When I think back about what inspired me so much of it was self-directed but of course, came from the home.  My mom was very involved within our Reform synagogue and I was involved with our area youth group but what brought me to being more observant and more appreciative and knowledgeable about Judaism as an adult was education, inspiring female educators and a partner who loves his religion. So what does that inspiration look like for middle and high school girls?  What inspires/d you? I’m truly looking for help and guidance and would love your opinion.

I had to bake with Siona attached to me, which meant that sneaky little foot kept getting into the pictures.

I had to bake with Siona attached to me, which meant that sneaky little foot kept getting into the pictures.

Anyway, ok, so back to cookies. COOKIES!  We had a dear friend of my husband come and visit this weekend.  He lives in LA and is doing the struggling actor thing.  I’m convinced that he will be famous one day but in the meantime he’s doing whatever he can to make a paycheck.  One thing he’s doing to make ends meet is a ‘before and after’ muscle-building program complete with protein shake powder that smells like hot chocolate powder.  The bag of it sat on our counter all weekend, which meant all weekend I was craving anything with cocoa powder thus, the double chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.  So when someone asked me to make something I’d want in my mishloach manot bag that answer will always be cookies . . . cookies and cash but you know, I can’t really ‘make’ cash.

Cocoa and flour in harmoney

Cocoa and flour in harmony

How!?

  1. 1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
  2. 3/4 c granulated sugar
  3. 1/2 c packed dark brown sugar
  4. 1 large egg
  5. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  6. 3/4 c all-purpose flour
  7. 1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  8. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  9. 1/4 tsp salt
  10. 2 c old-fashioned oats
  11. 1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

How’s That Now!?

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients ( flour, cocoa powder, soda and salt ). Set aside.
  2. Place butter and both sugars in a large mixing bowl of a stand mixer or hand-mixer and cream until light and fluffy.
  3. Add egg and vanilla and mix just until combined.
  4. With mixer on low speed, add dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line your cookies sheet with parchment paper. Scoop out the dough into a tablespoon size balls and place on prepared sheet, leaving at least 2 inches of space between cookie balls. They will spread!
  6. Bake 9 to 11 minutes. Cool on a sheet for 3 minutes, then transfer onto a cooling rack.
A li'l something special for your mishloach manot this year

A li’l something special for your mishloach manot this year

 

 

 

 

 

Do it yourself

10 Feb

ImageI should probably have bed sores.  Seriously.  I have been attached to the same spot on the couch since Friday afternoon.  I guess you’re supposed to cut yourself some slack and make out with your couch on occasion and do things like watch entire seasons of The West Wing and 30 Rock.  Where’s the job that allows me to do things like that all week, huh?  Where?  Whatever.  I guess I can dream.

Speaking  of dreams…in my dreams, I’m one of those people who does things like make their own ketchup and mustard.  I wouldn’t worry with things like how many plastic bottles, boxes and bags I’m throwing out each week.  Why?  Because I’d have everything stored in cute little glass containers I bought from some cute little store in my neighborhood.  I wouldn’t think about the amount of corn syrup in anything I’m eating because I wouldn’t make anything with corn syrup.  Sigh.  In reality?  I’m too lazy for that.

But I have moments.  This weekend I was looking through one of my favorite cookbooks for inspiration and came across a recipe for granola.  I had a tiny little dream that I’d start making my own and stop buying bags of the stuff at the grocery store.  I mean, you guys, it’s really expensive to buy bags and bags of granola each week.  If I made my own each week it’d be totally cheaper, right?  Well, maybe.  Either way?  The granola recipe pulled me away from my TV and got me inspired…at least until the Grammys come on later. 

WHAT?

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup unsweetened shredded or flaked coconut

1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup wheat germ

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon ground Cinnamon

1 large egg white

1 1/2 cups dried cherries or other dried fruit of your choice

How?

Preheat oven to 300.  Mix all ingredients except for egg white until mixed well.  Beat egg white until frothy, then combine with dry ingredients until well distributed.  Spread single layer over baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 45-55 minutes.  Half way through the baking take the baking sheet out and stir granola around a bit to make sure it’s cooking evenly.  Once the granola is finished baking let cool completely and store in an air tight container.

Y’all?  This is real delicious.  I forgot to add the egg in to the recipe, so just know that if you don’t have an egg or if you’re vegan…it’s all good.  Leave it out.  We’ll see if I continue doing this in my effort to save the world…

 

**(Updated Recipe!)** Red, Pink and Chocolate Chip

6 Feb

Scalloped hearts from youngheartslove etsy.com shop

**Recipe is being revised. Please check back soon! 10/26/13***

Something is happening to me in my old age. I’m loving colors I never really responded to before. Has that ever happened to you? I once asked my husband, the scientist, if there was any correlation that he is aware of between mood-levels and color-affinity. For example, I used to loathe the color red. I mean really and truly hate. I’m not sure if it was the excessive use of red, black and white in 80s home decor (please don’t even try to lie to yourself right now. You know you were a part of that ‘situation’). Maybe it was the excess of red leather jackets, also occurring in the 80s, that rubbed me the wrong way? Maybe it was just the 80s in general and what they did to color? Who knows but what I can tell you is that immediately after our wedding I started L-O-V-I-N-G loving the color red. Someone got us a set of red Fiesta ware plates for our wedding and I couldn’t stop using the mug. I was so drawn to the color. It just made me so happy so I figured, well, I am so happy in life so maybe red is the color of happiness? From there I started wearing red shoes and started the search for the perfect red lipstick (I am still, in fact, on that search) and my red obsession hasn’t stopped.

Just me and my red leather jacket circa 1983

Just me and my red leather jacket circa 1983

This brings us to pink. When my daughter was born, I felt very strongly about the color pink. Actually, let me correct myself. Before my daughter was born I felt very strongly about the color pink. In fact, I enlisted my bestie, Jackie, to send a message, not literally but rather to be a point person if need be, to let folks know that should they be looking to get us a gift, please please please, do. not. get. anything. pink. Incidentally, I also asked that there should be nothing with the words, “princess”, “queen”, “cutie”, or “sweetie” on it. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m somewhat opinionated. Anywho, the point is, no pink. Of course, the inevitable happened and it was like a pink parade. I mean seriously, there was pink coming out of our ears at her Simchat Bat. You can’t fight it. People love giving little girls pink stuff. We’ve been conditioned to do it. And I tried fighting it. I really, really did. When she was really tiny, I would dress her in as much gender-neutral color as possible while strolling her in her gender-neutral colored stroller or carrying her in her gender-neutral colored Baby K’tan and I would always get comments when we were out. “How old is your little boy?”, asked well-meaning Bubbie from across the hall. “What an adorable little boy. What’s his name?”, asked well-meaning Bubbie at Target. “Oh, your little boy sure is bald”, said well-meaning Bubbie at Winn-Dixie. For the record, little boys do not have the market cornered on bald and the color orange. Regardless, the point is. I fought it and Bubbies all across South Florida were pissed. So it came to pass that on the random occasion I dressed her in something pink. Maybe a hand-me-down from a dear friend at work (my fancy friend. Y’all have a ‘fancy’ friend, right? That one friend who wears designer clothing, drives a luxury car, goes on fancy vacations but can still hang.) who gave us a bunch of clothing from her baby girl and you know, even I had to admit that it looked cute but I was still worried about the ‘gender box’ so nothing was too frilly. But then it happened. Oh dear. It happened. My sister-in-law, Caitlin, gave us a hand-me-down of a pink polka-dot dress with matching leggings that her dad’s neighbor made and oh sweet Lord when it was on, that was it. The pink flood gates opened. Now, OK, I’m not fully embracing pink and you can tell the day care ladies are desperate for me to dress her in more pink since every time I pick her up she’s conveniently wearing all of the extra clothing I brought throughout the week that just happens to be pink but still, I love it. In fact, I’m typing this while wearing my new pink and white stripped pajamas that I got from scientist husband for Chanukah this year. Hmmm . . . I wonder if they have this in baby sizes?

Embracing our pink

Embracing our pink

So all this talk of red and pink has me excited for Valentine’s Day. And yes, we’re Jews, observant-y Jews at that so we don’t really “do” Valentine’s Day. But, I can still oggle all the pink and red hearts all over Pinterest these days and I will possibly pick up a super cute Valentine’s Day mug at Target just for myself because hey, besides my mom, I was my original Valentine. And, of course, with Valentine’s Day comes cookies. The following cookie recipe is a healthy one because I care about your heart too!

Getting There

Getting There

I recently made Paleo cookies for my friend and customer, Dana, and she actually liked them. I want to use the term “cookie” loosely here because I think they’re better described as ‘treat’. A breakfast treat at that. I used coconut flour for this recipe but I had made these a while back with almond flour and much preferred the taste and texture of the almond flour versus the coconut flour. I scoured the internet for recipes but eventually took bits and pieces of several recipes and created my own. I hope you enjoy! They’re best enjoyed in the morning with a hot cup of coffee . . . .possibly in a red mug.

Recipe Updated! — Happy Heart Chocolate Chip Cookies

What’s That!?

  • 1 cup of almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup of coconut oil
  • 3 tbs of maple syrup
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp of sea salt
  • 1/2 cup of chocolate chips
A place for everyone and everyone in it's place.

A place for everyone and everyone in it’s place.

How’s That Now?!

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Melt the coconut oil on the stove for until runny
  3. In a large bowl mix together the coconut oil, syrup, eggs, vanilla extract and sea salt.
  4. Stir in the coconut flour and chocolate chips.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and roll out little tbs size balls of cookie dough. Place on the baking sheet and gently press down so they look pretty once baked 🙂
  6. Bake for 12-15 or until golden brown.
LET THEM COOL -- they'll harden up after a few minutes of cooling.

LET THEM COOL — they’ll harden up after a few minutes of cooling.

***Scalloped hearts photo taken from youngheartslove etsy shop. Check them out here.

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