Tag Archives: kids

The Gospel of Curry Garbanzo Fries w/Cilantro Lime Yogurt

5 Jan

fries title

Let’s talk for a minute about gospel choir. I love gospel music. I love hip hop, soul, funk, R&B, and basically anything that played on V103 in the 90s (Atlanta folks, you know what I’m talking about). I didn’t discover gospel music though until I went to college, which I get is a weird place for a Jewish girl to pick up gospel music, considering the fact that I went to a private, Presbyterian liberal arts college located in the middle of Amish country, Ohio. But pick up gospel music I did. Just how much did I pick it up? So much that I ended up getting a solo during my freshman year called, Near the Cross.

Now, before you start hurling knishes at me in the name of blasphemy, let’s back up a minute or two to dissect how it is a Jewish girl finds herself singing about Jesus in a large church auditorium in front of hundreds of people.

I grew up loving music. As a children of the 80s, my brother and I listened to everything from Run DMC and the Beastie boys to Michael Jackson and Madonna. However, we also were raised by a Jewish mother and if you think we went through life without listening to Barbra Streissand’s The Broadway album, you’d be crazy wrong. A direct result of listening to this album on repeat during the 7 hour car ride from Atlanta to Louisville, KY where our grandparents lived (there was also some Neil Diamond and Dan Fogelberg thrown in there to spice things up), was my undying love for show tunes and of course, Stephen Sondheim. When it was discovered that I had a decent voice and I loved singing, my mom started me with piano lessons and eventually voice lessons. The piano didn’t stick but I loved my vocal coach, who looked a lot like Annie Potts’ character from Ghostbusters, Janine Melnitz. My coach also happened lived in what can only be described as a gingerbread house that was shrunk in the wash and had an affinity for Yorkshire Terriers so visiting her once a week was a trip. It was like visiting your weird Aunt that never had kids and spent all her money on crap from the Home Shopping Network (before it was dubbed, HSN) and portraits of her dog dressed as various historical figures but who also just happened to be crazy talented too. She taught me amazing technique and to appreciate my alto voice, which led me to gospel music.

Nowadays I relegate my singing to Israeli karaoke bars and the shower.

Nowadays I relegate my singing to Israeli karaoke bars and the shower.

In choral music, the alto is rarely going to get a solo. It’s not quite high enough and most popular choral arrangements are written to showcase the soprano or highest female vocal range. When I entered college and wanted to fill my need for singing, I joined the regular ol’ choir. It was nice enough. We sang traditional hymns and the like but it just wasn’t doing it for me. Then a friend told me about the gospel choir and I figured I was already singing hymns in the regular choir and neither we’re going to take me up on my offer to try out “Light One Candle” or even Barbra’s version of Jingle Bells so what does it matter? Might as well give gospel choir a shot. Well my friends, let me tell you, even the warm-ups during gospel choir rehearsal were soul-shattering. I mean the first time I heard all of our voices in that soulful harmony I gotta admit, I got a little teary-eyed. This was exactly what I was looking for. And, to top things off, by the fifth or sixth rehearsal, our Director asked me to audition for a solo that required an alto. When she told me the name of the song I hesitated a bit and then decided to quietly mention that I am, in fact, Jewish and would she mind that. Well, of course she didn’t mind that because yes, the song was about Jesus but more than anything, the song was about faith, which led her to ask me if I felt comfortable singing a song about faith. That, I did not have a problem with. Of course, I was a little concerned that folks might think I had converted. I also, quite inexplicably, felt very strongly that somehow, my childhood rabbi would find out about this and haul me back to Sunday School so I wore the biggest Star of David necklace I could find come performance day, you know, just to be clear about things.

Garbanzo fries, a close up

Garbanzo fries, a close up

I don’t really remember what happened to the gospel choir or why I stopped attending rehearsals after my freshman year but that solo was to be my one and only foray I to gospel music stardom. I have no real connection between my need to tell you the story of my onetime solo except that lately, I’ve been thinking about all those little incidences of life that add up to make the person we are today.  I think about the person I was in college or in high school or even in my twenties and the person I am today and I can see some stark differences—-mainly in the fact that I have a child, I’m married and I have a bit more confidence/sense of self—-but there are also a lot of similarities.  I would still get up on a stage and belt out a song about faith that just so happened to also be about Jesus.  I’m just not sure I’d do it at synagogue . . . or at the Jewish Day School I work at . . . or my kid’s Jewish day care center . . . or Shabbat dinner . . .

Garbanzo flour and water

Garbanzo flour and water

The mixture should be thick like cement.

The mixture should be thick like cement.

Curry Garganzo Fries with Cilantro Lime Yogurt

(Adapted from a Colicchio & Sons recipe)

Ingredients

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 1/2 Cups chickpea flour
1 Tsp. kosher salt, plus more
4 Cups low-sodium veggie broth
1 Garlic clove, finely grated
2 Tbsp. curry powder
1 Tbsp. Turmeric
1/2 Tsp. Ground coriander
1 Tsp. Sriracha
Vegetable oil (for frying, about 1  1/2 cups)

How:

1.  Lightly coat a 13×9″ baking dish with nonstick spray. Whisk chickpea flour and 1 tsp. salt in a large bowl, breaking up any clumps in flour. Make a well in the center and gradually pour broth into well, whisking to incorporate dry ingredients; add garlic, spices and Sriracha and whisk until batter is smooth.

2. Transfer mixture to a large heavy saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until bubbling and very thick (you will be able to see bottom of pan when whisking), 8–10 minutes.

3. Pour chickpea mixture into prepared baking dish and smooth top. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface and chill until firm, at least 3 hours.

4.  Turn chickpea mixture out onto a cutting board and cut into 3x½” pieces. Pour oil into a large skillet, preferably cast iron, to a depth of ¼” and heat over medium-high heat until oil bubbles immediately when a small piece of chickpea mixture is added. Working in batches, fry until fries are deep golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes per side; transfer to a paper towel–lined plate and season with salt.

DO AHEAD: Chickpea mixture can be made and poured into baking dish 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

See below for yogurt recipe

Using his brute-force to press down the mixture.

Using his brute-force to press down the mixture.

One more shot just cause.

One more shot just cause.

For Yogurt Sauce:

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup, Greek Yogurt
1 Tbsp,  Lime juice
Handful of cilantro, finely chopped

How:

Place all ingredients into a small mixing bowl and whisk together until well-combined.  Add addition lime or cilantro per taste.

Curry and Greek yogurt = yum!

Curry and Greek yogurt = yum!

The final plate

5 Tips on Being a Helpful House Guest for New Parents + Curried Roasted Butternut Squash Soup w/Coconut Milk

25 Nov
I heart Chicago.

I heart Chicago.

I took a couple of days off. My best friend had a baby several weeks ago and dang it, I wanted to meet her. It’s hard taking time off. I work more than full time. I’ve got my little critter plus the 150 students I attempt to take care of at work and on top of that, Thanksgiving is around the corner and we’re hosting again this year.  I was supposed to book this trip in December but then December’s proposed trip date turned into a proposed January trip date and it was beginning to feel like I would never really get there.  And yet, something happened while sitting in yet another meeting at work and I thought to myself, “I gotta get out of here”. And so, in less dramatic fashion than I’m making it seem, I booked my ticket and arrived in Chicago this past Wednesday night (Sidebar: Dressing for a November trip that departs from Miami but arrives in Chicago is really an art form I’ve come very close to mastering).

I thought maybe I would have forgotten what is was like to travel solo; it had been so long since I’d traveled without baby and husband in tow. I spent over a decade traveling all over the world by myself but since getting married, the traveling has become a partner-based endeavor. I wondered if I’d remember what it was like to not worry about things like when I’d be able to change Siona’s diaper next or if we factored enough time into our schedule to account for the ever-so-fun security line with a toddler. Turns out, I never lost my travel legs and to be perfectly honest, it felt great to fly alone. Folks, I don’t mean to alarm you but I read an ENTIRE magazine— cover to cover! I mean I savored every second of my uninterrupted magazine-reading and even read the silly ads in the back (Yes, it was an US Weekly and no, it turns out that I do not need a tank top that reads, “Team Peeta”).  Hell, i watched a whole movie on my iPad without interruption. I was not going to let this alone time go wasted. ‘Twas glorious.

My favorite cozy corner in Annie's place.

Cozy, comfort.

Hot coffee on a cold day . . . I think I remember what that was like.

Hot coffee on a cold day . . . I think I remember what that was like.

Glazed and Infused: All the hype was pretty much worth it.

Glazed and Infused: All the hype was pretty much worth it.

Daniel and his baby Judah.

Daniel and his baby Judah.

But I digress. This is a “how to” post. But I’m not writing it because I think I know it all. Oh no my friends. I’m writing this because my dear friend, Annie, knows it all. The four days I was in Chicago were spent repaying a favor. I needed to take care of my girl (and new mom), Jackie and her baby girl, Violet, the way she took care of me when Siona was born.  I was supposed to do this last year when Annie had her baby boy, Judah, since she had spent 5 days with Siona and me in all my post-partum glory.  But sadly, I got the flu and had to cancel my trip.  So, one year later, in Annie’s honor and with her by my side, I finally landed in Chicago to take care of Jackie and Violet.

When you’re a regular guest, it’s safe to say that there’s a level of comfort you look forward to or might even expect from your host/hostess (or maybe this is just me being SUPER Southern). But when you’re the houseguest of new parents, it’s your job and, in my opinion, your obligation to not just “pitch in” but to be altogether expendable to new parents.  And no one, I mean,  no one,  has mastered this art of being the perfect new parent houseguest than my girl, Annie.   She’s helpful in ways that might border on Saint-like status. So, the following list has been compiled from watching her at work in all her glory. For if you are of an age where your friends aren’t quite having babies yet, I promise you, one day they just might and you will need to be there for them as, Gd willing, they will be there for you. Or, you might find these tips helpful if you’re possibly in a stage in life like me where roughly 65% of your Facebook feed is purely pictures of your friends’ kids (the other 35% being BuzzFeed round-ups and cat memes). Or maybe, just maybe, you just had a baby and your in-laws are coming in for a stay and you want to be all, “Hey, Mom-in-law, isn’t this post about how to be a good houseguest to new parents funny? You should read it . . . carefully.”

1.  Take Care of the Animal – Your friends, new mom and dad, are exhausted.  They are knee-deep in care-giving for their tiny new human and sometimes, their first-born, the dog/cat/hamster/fish/etc., gets overlooked.  Pets aren’t overlooked because there’s a lack of love.  Pets in the homes of brand new parents are overlooked because new parents are experiencing an exhaustion that can’t be topped. They’re barely taking care of themselves, much less their beloved pet.  So, if there’s a pet in the house, clean the cage/litter box/tank or take it for a walk.  Fluffy will be very grateful.

2.  Cook –  Make sure what you cook is healthy and will last at least a week or can be frozen. I spent all day on Thursday cooking for Jackie and her new family.  She requested homemade pasta sauce so, obviously, I complied.  I also made curried roasted butternut squash soup with coconut milk (recipe below) and mini zucchini muffins and homemade granola as Jackie expressed concern of her lack of eating in the morning (Jake and Jackie are foodies.  They went to El Buli for their honeymoon.  Cooking for them is very intimidating).

3. Don’t Leave the House Empty-Handed – Taking out the trash/recycling is obnoxious when you don’t have a new baby to take care of.  Plus, for some reason trash and recycling seems to pile up quicker when you’ve just had a baby then in your previous life.  So, after your visit of cleaning and cooking, make sure you don’t leave empty-handed and offer to take out the trash on your way out.

4. Address the Thank You Notes – My girl, Annie, actually offered to write Jackie’s Thank You notes.  I could see the temptation in Jackie’s eyes but ultimately, she wrote her own while the baby was napping.  However, the real time-suckage of Thank You notes is the addressing part.  If baby is sleeping or in someone else’s arms, ask for that address list and start writing.  You’ll rescue new mama from trying to find the time for addressing a sea of envelopes but also the inevitable guilt of being late on her notes (or that’s just us Jewish mama’s having to battle our guilt-complexes yet again).

5. Hold the Baby – Hold that baby for as long as your arms can stand it and give mama an opportunity to take a bath, take a nap or whatever else she’s been itching to get done.  Heck, even if it’s 15 minutes of Pinterest surfing, give her that opportunity.  It’s not for you to judge how she spends her time.  It’s for you to offer and allow her that sacred thing called, “free time”.

Annie, she can take care of people AND decorate.

The woman knows how to decorate.

Homemade tomato sauce on some crusty bread and some creamy cheese.

Homemade tomato sauce on some crusty bread and some creamy cheese.

The murals in Chicago

The murals in Chicago

Me and our sweet Violet.

Me and our sweet Violet.

Curried Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut Milk:

Ingredients:
1 whole butternut squash – halved & peeled
Coconut oil
1 small onion – diced
2 cloves of garlic – diced
2 cups of veggie broth or water
Curry powder
Sea salt
Cayenne pepper
1 can coconut milk
1 bunch chopped fresh cilantro

Method:
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. After peeling and cutting in half length-wise, slather the inside of your squash with just enough coconut oil that is evenly covered but not “oily”. Place your halved and peeled squash oil side down on your baking sheet and roast for 40 – 45 minutes or until soft. Once it’s finished, let cool for about 10 minutes or so. Once cooled, chop your squash into small-ish pieces and set aside.

During the cooling phase, sauté your diced onion in a large stock pot using about 3 tbsp of coconut oil. Sauté for one minute and add garlic. Sauté for another 3 minutes or so or until onions are translucent. Add your seasoning – I go heavy on seasoning this so roughly 2 tbsp of curry or so. Then add a dash of the cayenne and salt. Stir all together and let sauté for another minute. Add the squash and stir. Add the stock or water and stir. Bring mixture to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer. Let simmer for about 10 -15 minutes, adding more stock or water along the way just so it stays since and moist but not overly “soupy”. After about 15 minute, remove from heat and, using a hand immersion blender, blend all ingredients until smooth. Add the coconut milk and stir. Season to your tastes. Top with fresh cilantro and enjoy.

Roasted Butternut Squash + Coconut Milk Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash + Coconut Milk Soup

Pancakes and Problems: Things get spiced . . . vanilla chai-spiced.

16 Oct

Hello!  It has been AGES since my last post and if you follow this blog, you might be wondering to yourself, “Ummmm, Whit, didn’t you like, make a big deal about unveiling a new and improved, self-hosted blog?”  Yes! I sure did.  Here’s the long of the short of it:  I hired a designer via Etsy.  The designer was less than awesome.  I got my buddy, Yosef from This American Bite on the case but he’s super swamped and I’m anxious to get back to blogging, especially with Thanksgivukkah just around the corner so I made an executive decision to take a step back and hold off until after the holiday season.  Here’s hoping . . .

In the meantime, I’m back to posting and it feels so right.  Since I last posted to this blog, a lot of fun things have happened.  I was asked to become a permanent blogger for the Times of Israel (posts can be found here and here).  I also had another post over at Kveller.com (find it here), was interviewed by the Huffington Post for an article on meditation (that can be found here) and I’ve been asked to do my very first cooking demo for a synagogue here in North Miami Beach (details to follow).  I’ve also been swamped at work, took the family and went to LA for 3 days and hosted our very first Simchat Torah Wing Ding (9 lbs. of wings, 4 different kinds of flavors, and lots of hungry friends.  It’s how we Southern Jews celebrate the completion of reading the Torah).  Life has been lovely and chaotic, to say the least.

In all the time since I last posted, I’ve also been doing a lot of reading and of course, a lot of thinking.  Before I stepped off-line for a bit, I wrote a post that sparked a lot of debate/comments/criticism/assumptions.  I had been having a lot of mixed feelings and confusion over my voice as a writer as well as my place on the blogosphere.  The post (found here) was supposed to be about just that–reflections on where I fit in as a blogger as well as a space to vent some frustrations about what can happen when folks make assumptions on the choices other people make or rather, the assumption that other people even HAVE a choice.  Of course, the irony is that it was completely misread as a judgement piece on other people’s choices as well as a knock to mothers who stay at home.  It was celebrated by mama’s who work out of the home and ripped apart by mama’s who work in the home. I was accused of being ‘intense’ (as if that’s a bad thing?).  I was accused of judging people’s choices (an act of which is against everything I believe to be whole and true, both as a social worker and a human being, though I do not claim to be void of the fault of judgement from time to time).  It was rough y’all.

Lazy Sundays

Lazy Sundays

I’ve been reflecting on this piece off and on since I posted it all those months ago.  I take full responsibility for my part in it’s misinterpretation and have been questioning how it was written ever since–was I inarticulate? Could I have been more clear in defining ‘privilege’ as I see it? Should I have even used that word?  And while I was trying to find clarity in the piece by owning it and moving forward, I read two blog posts from two separate bloggers that I felt brought me right back to square one.  The first was from fellow Kveller.com writer, Tamara Reese entitled, “Tell a Friend: You’re a Good Mama” (found here) and “You’re a stay-at-home mom? What do you DO all day?” by Matt Walsh (found here).  The first post was a gorgeous and emotional story about the author’s observations of new parents and how she looked at the mother, who was apologizing to folks in a restaurant for the fact that her newborn was crying, and told her “You’re a good mom”.  Tamara goes on to tell the story of how someone did that for her once and it was all she could do to not break down when she heard it; not realizing she needed to hear it so badly.   Matt Walsh on the other hand, wrote a post proclaiming his love and admiration for his wife, who works in the home as a stay-at-home-mom.  His tone was harsh (that’s OK, it’s his blog. He gets to do that) in that he supports the hell outta his wife and in making the statement that as an employee,we are all just a number.  I don’t disagree with him.  It’s harsh, but I completely agree.  I feel that daily.  But that’s beside the point.  Both of these bloggers mentioned ‘mommy wars’.  Both of these bloggers felt the need to uplift mamas.  They put themselves out there to speak on behalf of an entire population of people who, on the day-to-day basis, feel completely vulnerable and I thought to myself, well, why? Not, ‘Why do women feel vulnerable’.  I get that.  I completely get that.  But why are there ‘mommy wars’ (man, that term makes me want to vomit)?  Why do so many of us bloggers feel the need to go on a rant (me included and yes, I get the irony of this post)? Why do so many of us bloggers feel the need to support or to criticize in the name of mommyhood?  And then I wondered if it was all a vicious cycle. By blogging about parenting and our own experiences with it, in an effort to connect to like-minded parents, do we run the risk of alienating other parents who feel like they don’t fit in line to exactly what it is you’re blogging about.  Meaning, if I blog as a mom who has a full-time job outside of the home as well, is it assumed that I don’t support moms who work full-time inside the home?  Am I aligning myself I didn’t even know it?

I HIGHLY doubt that when my mom was raising two kids in the 80s and 90s she gave two poops about what style of parenting she ascribed to or whether or not she would be ridiculed if she bottle-fed or if co-slept with her baby or not.  Her network of moms were not online but in her community or within her family and when she had a question about something baby-related, she didn’t type it into ‘Google’ and have a million and one confusing and potentially alienating ‘answers’ or blogs pop up touting the benefits of this sleep method or this parenting style.  She was just trying to do the best she could and survive. Dude, that’s what we’re all trying to do, right?

They take self-portraits

They take self-portraits

I worry that, as a blogger, I might be part of the problem.  I might be putting something out there that’s causing the escalation of vulnerability do to the assumption that I know what the hell I’m doing.  I blog about my family and the trials and tribulations I go through as a parent who works outside the home because it’s an outlet but I realize that I have not been clear, and I mean CRYSTAL clear, about one thing—I am not an expert at parenting nor do I claim to be.  I studied early childhood development in social work school but I promise you this, the only thing I’m remotely close to being an expert in when it comes to parenting is parenting my own child and I’m fairly certain that I’m only about 70% expert on that.  I worry that all us bloggers, well, we might be exacerbating an already vulnerable situation—parenting.  I post pictures of my child on Instagram and those pictures are generally of her smiling and being happy.  I don’t post pictures of her when she’s awake at 2AM with a fever or when she’s having a meltdown for some reason because well, a) I don’t have that kind of time and b) I don’t want to post pictures of her in that state.  And yet, I do worry that by only posting us in the golden sunlight of Miami or hipster-ed out in our local coffee shop, I might be exacerbating that thing that might be sparking all these rants or  ‘mommy wars’—- that I’ve got it right and you should be me or that you should at least strive to be as seemingly cool, calm and collected as I am as a parent.

And thus, back to the original point and post.  Folks knee-jerk reacted to that first post.  Folks assumed because I write through one lens that I must be attacking or at least ridiculing the other.  I can’t promise I don’t have a little bit more sympathy for working moms because I can relate more and I don’t fault anyone for assuming that because it’s true and that’s OK. I think we all have junk.  I think we all have guilt; such nasty, nasty guilt, and it makes us vulnerable and it makes us feel like we have to defend our choices.  I also think we are all just trying to do what’s best for the ones we love and are trying to survive.

Sometimes we do a little better than survive :)

Sometimes we do a little better than survive 🙂

Whole Wheat Chai-Spiced Vanilla Pancakes

The players

The players

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1-2 Tbsp honey (you can also use regular ol’ sugar)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp (and a bit) of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 egg
  • ½  Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp cardamom
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground all spice
Hello lovers

Hello lovers

How:

Whisk together flour, honey, baking powder, salt  and spices in a small bowl.   Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk together almond milk, oil, vanilla and egg.  Add flour mixture to liquid mixture and stir just to moisten.  It’s OK if there are a few lumps.  Scoop out pancake batter using an ice scream scoop and pour out onto griddle or large frying pan.  Cook pancakes on a griddle over medium heat.  Pancakes are ready to flip once they start to bubble on top.  Serve hot with big slap of butter.

Don't be afraid to sprinkle that glorious stack of pancakes with a dash of cinnamon.

Don’t be afraid to sprinkle that glorious stack of pancakes with a dash of cinnamon.

What to REALLY Expect When You’re Expecting (plus cauliflower crust pizza!).

24 Apr
"Listen up mama.  Gimme all your milk and no one gets hurt."

“Listen up mama. Gimme all your milk and no one gets hurt.”

Spring has sprung down here in Miami and by that, I mean it’s already 90 degrees some days and there are pregnant women every where. Every day I walk by my sweet friend and co-worker, Tara, who is 7 months pregnant and trying her darndest not to melt in this heat and I can’t help but reminisce to where I was this time last year, which was 7 months pregnant and trying my darndest not to melt in this heat. Every time I see her I get transported back in time to being large and in charge with that baby in my belly and it just blows my mind that she’s here now. She’s here now and she’s already old enough to have a couple teeth and to start crawling. Oy, blows. My. Mind. Due to this transport back in to time I also can’t help but remember how stinkin’ happy I was this time last year and how I didn’t know what the h*ll was about to happen to me. I also can’t help but remember of all the unsolicited advice complete strangers would give me at all turns. I mean truly, the best conversations usually started out as, “Let me tell you about my wife’s birth experience! It was crazy! She was in labor for 30 hours!!” Ummm, no buddy. I don’t wanna hear that. Not even a little bit. Of all the things I was told that scared the sh*t outta me (‘Don’t get an epideral! You’ll end up in a C-Section!” or “Don’t feed your baby formula! She’ll be obese and dumb the rest of her life!”), no one told me the things that I really really really wanted to know. Those things that, sure, might be hard to hear, but I would have appreciated knowing. Kind of the “What to REALLY Expect When You’re Expecting”. There were things I never expected—-some of which no one could have predicted but some of which I think, on the whole, there could have been a little ‘heads up’ about. So for the sake of all those women out there experiencing their first pregnancy who could use that ‘heads up’, the following is my list of things I never would have expected. Warning: the following is not ‘touchy feely’, but it is honest so if you like honest, keep reading.

1. You will sweat like John Goodman on a hot summer’s day. It’s the hormones. They are coming out of you postpartum for about 2 weeks after you give birth. It’s natural. There’s no deodorant that can stop it, but it’s natural.

2 weeks old. She’s in there somewhere (and so are my sweaty pits)!

2. Maternity leave is not a vacation leave. It is maternity leave. This is the first 3 months of yours and your baby’s life together, which means you are both getting to know each other while battling it out over who gets to sleep when and trying to figure out when you’ll actually eat again. I don’t know about you but that’s not how I like to vacation.

3. Your boobs might not ‘work’. I never expected to not be able to breast feed. It was in my plan. It never entered my mind that it wouldn’t be how I fed my baby. But, I breast-fed for as long as I could, which was about 9 weeks. And guess what? My baby is a straight up formula baby and she’s doing OK. I’ll let you know if all that propaganda about formula being the devil is true in a year or so (spoiler alert: it’s not).

4. I never expected memes on Facebook about breast-feeding toddlers and baby cereal would make me wanna cry

5. I never expected those memes to be posted by other women

6. I never expected to get more emotional while watching movies/TV shows involving children. For example, my husband and I were watching a rerun of Lost where a supposed 6 week old baby is involved in a helicopter crash and miraculously suffers no injuries and the whole time I’m thinking, “wait, that baby hasn’t been around its mother in days. Who’s feeding it? How is he surviving!? How did he survive a helicopter crash!? What if that was my baby!?” And then I remember we’re talking about an island that can travel through time so I got over it . . . kinda.

7. You will get blankets and socks (especially if you have a girl). People LOVE to give you blankets and socks as baby gifts. It’s very sweet.

8. You might not ‘fall in love’ with your baby right away. It might take a couple days or even weeks. But when you do, oh boy, it is all-consuming.

9. Make sure you have a Smart Phone or something because you will need it to help stay awake in the wee hours while you’re doing a feeding. I suggest creating a Pinterest account now if you haven’t already. I love you Pinterest.

10. It’s possible most or all of your family members will see your boobs at one point or another during those first couple weeks. My husband has 3 brothers, all of whom visited within the first 4 weeks of Siona’s life and all of whom saw my boobs at some point during their visit. I even remember spending several hours one day with some of his family members only to discover, once they left, that I had spent the whole time with my tank top around my waste and nursing bra exposed a la Madonna on her Blond Ambition tour.

11. I never expected to want to punch a sweet British nanny in the throat (this lady gets me). Listen, the Baby Whisperer seems really nice and she’s clearly got a handle on this whole ‘baby’ thing. However, on one incredibly frustrating day during those first couple weeks of parenthood something dawned on me. The majority of these ‘experts’, whether via their books or blogs, had a lot of ‘no’ going on. There was a lot of ‘Don’t do this and for heavens sake, definitely don’t do that!” It was stressful and honestly, not helpful for ME (again, everyone is different. It could totally have helped you and to that I say, “mazal tov sister!” ). Ultimately, it’s ALWAYS about finding what works for you and your family and if you start tracking your anxiety levels and realize that they go up every time you open one of these ‘parenting’ books or blogs it might be time to close up shop.

12. Edit your advice —When we first brought Siona home from the hospital I was texting and calling every mom I knew for advice. Then after a while I started editing. It was clear to me who was giving advice with an agenda and who was giving me advice based on what they know about me and my family. My unsolicited advice? Find a 2 or 3 women whose parenting style, outlook on life, and life style in general match yours and make those your mommy brain trust.

13. I never expected to be back in the kitchen as soon as I was. Thanks be to my best friend, the Ergo, I was cooking again several weeks after I gave birth and it felt great. It felt so good that when I went back to work, I took on the extra challenge of cooking for a co-worker. She wanted a specialized, Paleo menu and I wanted a challenge (and some extra cash to cover daycare). It was a match made in heaven.

5 weeks old! Our first Starbucks run.  It was so freeing to get out (I had to document that glorious moment).

5 weeks old! Our first Starbucks run. It was so freeing to get out (I had to document that glorious moment).

This list could go on and on but I’ll stop now so I can leave space for the recipe! The recipe! The following recipe is a dish I made for the previously mentioned co-worker. It can be Paleo, gluten free, vegan, vegetarian or whatever you want it to be. I wanted some pizza dang it but didn’t want the bread so I experimented with cauliflower instead and it really turned out nicely. Honestly, this would have been amazing for Passover so maybe next year. Anywho, see below for the recipe and thanks for reading.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Homemade Tomato Sauce, Ricotta, Roasted Eggplant and Arugula

For the Sauce – check out the sauce I made on a previous post. Just omit the cream cheese.

For the Crust (adapted from The Lucky Penny):

2 small heads of cauliflower, processed
1 TBSP sea salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup Daiya cheddar cheese (or mozzarella cheese)
1 egg

For the Eggplant:

1 medium eggplant, sliced in thin rounds
Coconut Oil
Seasalt
Garlic powder

Place thinly slice eggplant rounds on paper towel. Pour sea salt onto each slice and let sit for 30 minutes. This will draw out excess moisture and help decrease eggplant mush. After 30 minutes, place on oiled parchment paper and top each slice with a bit more coconut oil and garlic powder. Roast in oven for about 20 – 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Keep close eye to make sure they don’t burn.

Making the Crust and Assembling the Pizza:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a cutting board, place a large piece of parchment paper and spray it with nonstick cooking oil.

Soak your cauliflower in a bowl of salted hot water for several hours. Dry thoroughly and cut up the florets into small chunks and discard the stems. Pulse florets in food processor for about 20 – 30 seconds until cauliflowers resembles flour. This should yield you about 2 – 3 cups of cauliflower. Place the flour in a microwave safe bowl and cover. Microwave for 4 minutes. Dump cooked cauliflower onto a clean dish towel and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before you will need to wring out the moisture. If you are antsy, put dish gloves on before wringing out—you will burn your hand otherwise.

cauliflower snow

Cauliflower Snow

Once cauliflower is cool enough to handle, wrap it up in the dish towel (do not use paper towel. It will seep through) and wring it out. You want to squeeze out as much moisture out as possible. I cannot stress this enough. The more moisture you squeeze out, the crisper the crust will be.

Yum! Cauliflower Juice

Yum! Cauliflower Juice

Once you’ve wrung out as much water as possible, dumped cauliflower into a bowl and add your seasonings plus cheese. Finally, add egg and mix with spatula or wooden spoon.

Once mixture is evenly combined, wet hands and place mixture on well-oiled parchment paper. Pat it into a nice round crust that is about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. I think the thinner the better as it allows it to crisp up. Spread a little more oil onto the top of the final crust and slide the paper onto a pizza pan and put in preheated oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until edges and center brown. Once it’s down, let it cool and top with an even spread of riccotta cheese, then a layer of the tomato sauce and roasted eggplant. Bake all together for another 8 – 10 minutes. Once done, let cool for a couple of minutes and then top with arugala and some sea salt.

Crust – Phase One

Crust – Phase 2 + 3 (Ricotta + Tomato Sauce)

Crust - Phase 4 (Eggplant)

Crust – Phase 4 (Eggplant)

The Final Phase – Arugula. Delicioso!

Desperately Seeking Self

12 Mar

I used to care waaaaaay too much about what people thought of me. I went through so many identities as a high schooler you’d think Madonna got her whole “reinventing of self” thing from me. Now this was 1994-1998 so I hit all the happening 90s genres. I was alterna-Whitney (dressed in my dad’s sweaters from when he was a TODDLER, oy), faux hippie-Whitney (wore tie-dyed Dead shirts but wasn’t really clear on who exactly Jerry Garcia was), grunge-Whitney (complete with over-sized plaid flannels and Doc Martens), and my all time favorite, random shiny mini-skirts with knee-highs a la early 90s Kate Moss-Whitney. There was also a very brief stint with Goth but I didn’t really have the skin tone for all that dark lipstick. But you know, that kind of experimenting is pretty par for the course for an awkward, not-so-confident teenage girl.  It’s also not atypical for an adolescent to have so many feelings of judgement and neediness.  I was so confused about who I wanted to be I forgot to focus on who I was right then and there.  I’m sure if Facebook were around when I was a teenager I would have taken an exorbitant amount of self-portraits in a desperate attempt for someone to tell me I’m pretty or validate whatever image I had carved our for myself that month.  Thank Gd Facebook didn’t exist then. Yikes.

Ah yes, Goth Whit. Nice 90s choker and ill-cut bangs.

Ah yes, Goth Whit. Nice 90s choker and ill-cut bangs.

But something happened right around Junior or Senior year of college.  I’m not sure exactly what ‘it’ was.  I had traveled a bit, gotten out and seen some of the world and slowly I got to know myself and the next thing I knew, I wasn’t so concerned about what others thought about me but instead, about what I thought about me (and the occasional cute boy, but come on, nobody’s perfect).  It’s funny.  My mom used to try so hard to knock some confidence in me as a kid.  She used to tell me that I had to “walk around like your sh*t don’t stink” and as a 10 year-old, I had no idea what that meant. As an adult, I do and I’m hoping that’s not the message folks read when they tell me I appear to be very confident.  Regardless, it’s been a looooooooooooong time since I spent so much time wondering what others think about me but then I took this job at as a school counselor and then I had a daughter and bam! I’m all up in my own business again.

I recently had two conversations in one week with co-workers who told me that they assume I’ve always got my stuff together. Not only that, but that they are one of several who feel I give off a very ‘mother of the Earth’ vibe.  This was SHOCKING news to me. SHOCKING.  First off, though the following recipe is very vegan and might be filed under “Stuff hippies might eat”, I still have boxed mac n’ cheese in my house because you just never know when it’s going to be one of those nights.  Also?  There’s a skirt policy at school and I happen to like my skirts long and Anthropologie-like so don’t let the long, ethereal skirt fool you.  I’d be here in jeans if they let me.  And finally, and most shocking of all, is the assumption that I have my stuff together.  No comment needed. If you’ve read this blog before you know that not to be true. I try. It doesn’t always work. But I try.

But these conversations led me to one I’ve been having with myself lately and that’s this over-arching question of, “I wonder what my daughter will think of me?”  Seriously, what’s that like? To see yourself through your child’s eyes?  And as a mom, through your daughter’s eyes?  Will she not only think I don’t have my sh*t together but wonder how in the world we managed to keep her alive and healthy all this time? Will she think me a confusing mess of  Southern Jewishness?  Ultimately, I think (hope) you become so busy being a mom, wife, sister, friend, employee, daughter, you forget to think about it and you just ‘be’ but at this stage of the game, when I’m rocking her to sleep, it’s on my mind.

Yep.  She'll eventually think I'm a crazy person

Yep. She’ll eventually think I’m a crazy person

OK, so this week’s recipe was made an hour ago and it was delicious!  I’d been reading a lot about the use of cashews instead of creamer and was first introduced to the idea by my fellow Kosher Connection blogger, Hindy, over at Confident Cook.  I was hesitant but then a dear friend at work, Ilana, said she tried the recipe and loved it so with cash in hand (seriously, cashews are not called ‘cashews’ for nothing. Those nuts are expensive, y’all), I purchased some in bulk and saddled up to make ‘cream’ of tomato and basil soup.  The result was surprising.  Even the hubby is a believer now and you should have seen his face when I told him what I was making.  “You’re making what now?”

The Final Product

The Final Product

“Cream” of Tomato and Basil Soup

What!?

2 Cups of cashews
2 Cups of water
2 Cups of vegetable broth
3 Tbsp Coconut oil
1 Onion, diced
7 Plum tomatoes, chopped roughly OR 2 cans of diced tomatoes
2 Cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 Cup of carrots, cut into thin rounds
Sea salt
Black pepper
Smoked Spanish paprika
Fresh basil

Floating Cashews

Floating Cashews

How’s That Now!?

In a blender (I used the Vitamix) blend the cashews and water until smooth.  Your mixture will appear to be ‘milky’. Set aside.

In a large sauce pan, heat the coconut oil, and add the onion, carrots and sea salt. Cook slowly, partially covered. Stir occasionally. When onions are soft and translucent, add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add remaining spices and continue to cook another few minutes.  Add tomatoes and basil sautee 3 – 5 minutes.

Once tomatoes have boiled down, add the cashew milk, and stir. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until soup begins to thicken slightly, about 10 minutes.  At this point, if you feel like your soup is getting too thick or it’s starting to burn on the bottom, add your vegetable broth, about 1/4 cup at a time.  I found mine to be a bit thick for my taste so I added broth little by little until desired consistency.  Blend using an immersion blender, or in batches in a blender until soup is smooth. Return to pot, taste for seasoning. Reheat gently, watching carefully as it’s easy to scorch the bottom.  Top with fresh basil.

Before the Blend

Before the Blend

After the Blend

After the Blend

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