Tag Archives: mom life

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

No Fear: Spinach Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash and Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

10 Nov

squash 3

I do a lot of things even though I’m scared of them. I ride airplanes, even though I’m terrified of flying. I write this food blog even though I’m terrified of being judged negatively by my food. I got married even though I was terrified of marriage. I had a baby even though I was terrified of being tired all the time. On the other hand, I rarely drink because I have a fear of being out of control. I don’t break the rules because I have a fear of getting in trouble. But how much do we let fear manage what we do or don’t do?

So this thing happened about 6 weeks ago and it was/is a big thing. I’ve been keeping it to myself for a while but when the tech guy at school, who I’m not sure even knows my daughter’s name, came up to me to confirm the rumor of this big thing that happened 6 weeks ago, I think it’s safe to say that the ‘jig is up’. Six weeks ago, a professional opportunity dropped into my lap and I couldn’t ignore it. Try as I might, I just couldn’t ignore it. I wasn’t looking for a job. I have a job. I have a job I like that I think I’m pretty good at. I get to work with people I generally really like; who make me laugh out loud on a daily basis. But then I got a call offering me a huge professional opportunity, which would have been a no-brainer except for this one very big hiccup—the job is in LA. If you’ve been reading this blog at all, you’ll know my family and I live in Miami. We are here because my husband is in the middle of getting his PhD in Marine Biology from the University of Miami. We’ve been here almost 3 years. I like it enough. We’ve always said we didn’t want this to be our permanent place. Miami is nice and all but it’s not where we want to raise our children. Before this call, the only guarantee we had once my husband finished his PhD is that there is no guarantee. In the back of our minds, we always thought that we would go anywhere he got a post-doc or a job; be it Australia, Israel Hawaii or North Carolina. But we’re nearly 3 years into a 4.5 year PhD so we didn’t REALLY think about it but then this thing landed in my lap and then we were forced to think about it.

The job has all the things a person looks for in a job–prestigious school, giant promotion, room for growth, resources and is located in sunny LA. But there’s just this one thing. My husband can’t leave his PhD program. So the question came to be: How much are we willing to sacrifice for a job? How much are we willing to sacrifice for our family’s future? If I said ‘yes’, that meant that I would be in LA with Siona for a year without my partner; my love. If I said ‘no’, that meant that I was passing up a major opportunity for myself and also, a guaranteed future for my family. How does a person make that kind of decision?

First, you take a trip to LA. Who wouldn’t want to say ‘yes’ after an all-expense paid 4 days in Beverly Hills? Then you talk . . . and you talk . . . and you talk. Then you come to realize that the only reason you and your husband can come up with for NOT taking this opportunity is fear and damn it, I will not miss out on this opportunity of a lifetime because of fear. I refuse to live like that.

What will Shabbatot (shabbats) be like without my best friend for roughly a year? What will it be like in a new city and a new job without my partner? How will I be a ‘single’ parent for roughly a year? How will I do it? I’ve been asked these questions MULTIPLE times by MULTIPLE people and I don’t have any answer except, “It will be hard. It will be so. very. hard. But then, Gd willing, it won’t be. But in the meantime, I will need your support. I will need everything you’re willing to give.” I am terrified to start this new chapter without my partner standing beside me but the really incredible good news is that we will still be together, we just won’t be together all the time. I will need to remind myself of this on a constant basis.

So, in roughly 8 months time, at the end of June, we will pack up our Miami life, keep some of it here and ship some of it to LA. Then, we will load ourselves into an RV and drive across the country to LA (yes, we are driving cross-country to LA in an RV. Dreams really do come true. Those will be some fun posts, I hope.) because what the hell are we doing with this life if we’re not going to live it up, right?

Morning rituals with Dada.

Morning rituals with Dada.

Siona and JFK on our trip to LA (I did not mean for that to rhyme).

Siona and JFK on our trip to LA (I did not mean for that to rhyme).

So, with all that being said, life is going to get interesting and a bit tough around this time next year. I probably won’t have the time to make mini grain-free pies with mixed berries or Sriracha cheddar sauce but I will have time to make salads. I will probably live on salads. Why make life harder than it needs to be, right? Back in my single days, I lived on salads so I might need to bring out the old repertoire. But, I have to admit, the salads of my 20s were pretty boring and certainly would NEVER have contained roasted butternut squash or anything having to do with fruit. I also NEVER made my own salad dressings but now that I’m becoming more and more comfortable with my cooking skills, a salad dressing is a piece of cake.

Imperfect yet perfect

Imperfect yet perfect

After the roast.

After the roast.

Getting everyone on board.

Getting everyone on board.

Up close and personal

Up close and personal

Reading for a healthy feast.

Reading for a healthy feast.

Spinach Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash and Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

Salad Ingredients:

1 bunch of fresh spinach
1 medium butternut squash, roasted and cubbed
1/2 small purple onion, diced small
1/2 honey crisp apple, diced small
1/2 cup white cheddar cheese, shredded
Walnuts

Maple Dijon Vinaigrette:

1/4 balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1/4 olive oil
Sea salt
Pepper

Roasted Squash How To:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. While oven is heating, cut butternut squash in half. Use a peeler to peel the skin from the squash. Scoop out innards of squash and throw away (or save seeds to roast later). Drizzle olive oil or coconut oil onto the inside flesh of the squash. Place squash flesh side down onto the baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes (give or take). You’ll know it’s done when you stick a fork into the flesh and it meets no resistance (see picture above for post-roast squash). Let squash cool while you make the vinaigrette.

Maple Dijon Vinaigrette How-To:

Place maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, mustard and dashes of the sea salt and pepper into a small bowl and whisk until combined. Slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl while whisking so that all ingredients combine. Taste and add additional seasoning to suit your taste buds.

Salad:

Once roasted squash is cool, cut into 1 inch thick horizontal strips leaving the ends for using in a soup or sauce for later. Cut the strips into cubes. Assemble all ingredients except walnuts into a bowl. Drizzle with vinaigrette and crumble walnuts on top before serving.

Enjoy!

*PS – You’ll noticed the pictures don’t include the purple onions. In my Sunday Funday mom-haze, I completely forgot to put them on the salad until AFTER I took the pictures. I took the hit.

Mini Vegan Chocolate Chip Berry Pies + Coconut Milk Whipped Cream

27 Oct

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I am so tired. Oy. Vey. It has been a week. I think it’s been like two weeks in one, no? You ever have that feeling? I don’t even really have the energy to write anything witty. I am, however, so excited about this recipe so I’ll spare you the usual exceptionally long post and share a few short things:

1. My first blog post for The Huffington Post was published on Friday. I am very proud of the work it took to get there, much less the post itself, and the amazing feedback I’ve gotten from friends and strangers. Thank you to all who posted it on various social media outlets and most especially, to those who actually read it! I am so grateful. Find the post here.

2. Buzzfeed stole my picture! So there I was coming back online from a restful (slept 10 hours Friday night and took two naps on Shabbat. HOLLER!) and quiet Shabbat when I notice that I’ve got 20 text messages waiting for me. And then I notice that I have an exceptional amount of notifications on Facebook too. Well, turns out Buzzfeed posted a hilarious round up of 50 Things Only 90s Girls Would Understand and they used a picture of me from my high school days (circa 1996) I had posted on a blog post I wrote way back in March. Yep. Just me and Drew Barrymore and all our choker-wearing glory. My friend, Ali, thinks I “won the Internet”. Well, if winning the Internet means having your non-professionally edited and enhanced Sophomore (?) yearbook picture splashed right next to an uber-vamped Drew Barrymore, well, I’d like to ‘lose’ the Internet next time. please. Oh, and to top it off, they dubbed me “WordPress”. No name. No permission asked for usage. Just a picture of me from almost 20 years ago with “WordPress” on it. Awesome.

3. Decisions have been made. The next step is upon us. More to come.

In the meantime, I had this recipe in my head for quite a while but knew it needed something. And then my girl, Samantha, from The Little Ferraro Kitchen posted her delicious sweet potato pie with coconut milk whipped cream and I thought, “That’s it!” Since we are exactly one month away from Thanksgiving and my kosher-eating self will need a parve (a.k.a vegan) dessert on hand (plus a grain-free dessert for my grain-free family members who I hope will be visiting us again for Thanksgiving this year), I wanted to adapt my versatile grain-free brownie recipe into a fresh and delicious pie. The recipe turned out to be so delicious and so easy. It has a little bit of sugar in it but other than that, it’s a pretty healthy dessert. I let my 14 month-old go nuts on some of the ‘crust’ mixture with minimal guilt and that’s saying something!

If you do decide to try this recipe, and I hope you do, the trick with the whipped cream is to chill EVERYTHING before whipping. EVERYTHING. Take that can of coconut milk and put it in the fridge for at least 6 hours. Grab your mixing bowl and your mixing attachments and put them in the refrigerator as well. It will be the difference between actual whipped cream and frothy coconut milk. There are further instructions where the recipe is listed so make sure you read through before starting.

I used regular-sized muffin tins + parchment paper to make pie 'crusts'.

I used regular-sized muffin tins + parchment paper to make pie ‘crusts’.

Tiny pie crust - No grain, all glory.

Tiny pie crust – No grain, all glory.

Bring on the color.

Bring on the color.

Add a dollop of coconut milk whipped cream.

Add a dollop of coconut milk whipped cream.

It would be delicious even without whipped cream.

It would be delicious even without whipped cream.

One last look at the yumminess.

One last look at the yumminess.

Mini Pie of Deliciousness

Mini Vegan Chocolate Chip Berry Pies + Coconut Milk Whipped Cream

Ingredients for Crust:

Adapted from my own recipe for Raw Brownie Bites (Make sure to omit the oats for a grain-free version. Keep them if you don’t mind a grain or two).

  • 2 Cups of dates, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup oats (I used gluten free)
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp milled flaxseed
  • 3 Heaping TBSP of vegan cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp organic maple syrup (depending upon your taste—start with 1 and if you make it again, up to 2 if it wasn’t sweet enough for you)

**Extra cocoa for rolling the bites in afterwards if want an extra chocolate punch.

Coconut Milk Whipped Cream (Recipe straight from my girl, Samantha, at The Little Ferraro Kitchen)

  • 1 can coconut milk, chilled
  • 2 Tbsp powdered sugar

Mixed Berry Filling:

  • 1/2 Cup Strawberries, hulled and chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Blackberries, chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Raspberries, chopped
  • 1/2 Lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 Tbsp Demerara Sugar

Crust How-To:

I used regular-sized muffin tins to shape the crusts but a ramekin will work just as well.

Cut pieces of parchment paper into squares about 8 in. by 8 in. or large enough that when placed into the muffin tins there is an excess of paper sticking out.

Place all ingredients in a food processor. Process until well combined—to about the count of 30 or until the ingredients have a dough-like consistency. If you feel like it’s a bit dry due to too many walnuts or oats, just add a bit of water, about 1 tbsp at a time, until you get that doughy consistency. Once you’ve attained your desired consistency, scoop out enough ‘dough’ to form a ball about the size of a tennis ball. Gently press the dough ball into the parchment paper-lined muffin tin and shape to the entirety of the tin so that a ‘crust’ forms. Your crust should be thick enough to hold the filling but thin enough so that it doesn’t take over the pie flavor. Do this until you run out of ‘dough’. Refrigerate uncovered for at least 30 minutes.

Coconut Milk Whipped Cream:

If you haven’t already, open the coconut milk can and pour out the water in a separate bowl (Save it and use for smoothies, soups, etc). If you’ve been chilling your coconut milk in the refrigerator for several hours in prep for this recipe, the watery part of the coconut milk will be at the bottom of the can so pour slowly and make sure to omit the watery part at the end.

Pour the thicker coconut milk in your chilled mixer and begin to whip starting on low and gradually moving to medium-high setting. As soon as it begins to thicken, add powdered sugar and continue to beat. Check every so often for desired consistency.

Fruit Filling:

Place all your chopped fruit into a mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice and sugar and mix until well combined.

Assembly:

Once your crusts have refrigerated, scoop fruit filling into each pie; enough so that the is a ‘mound’ of fruit filling. Top with a dollop or two (or three) of whipped cream. Enjoy!

Passing Through Passover

29 Mar

Happy Passover y’all! How’s everyone’s holiday going? How were your sedarim?  I survived my first Seder.  I not only survived hosting my first Seder but I also really enjoyed it. Our first night didn’t go as originally planned and it ended up just being my wonderful husband and I, so we enjoyed our cups of wine and we may have even rapped the Four Questions so even though we were by ourselves the first night, we still nailed it.  Our second night was pretty awesome as well.  We hosted lab mates from my husband’s PhD program (he’s a marine biologist).  No one was Jewish but it didn’t matter.  There was wonderful conversation, folks participated, I printed our visual aids for the order of the Seder and the 10 plagues, and I gotta say, it was really a lovely night.  I made WAY too much food and actually ended up sending folks home with goodie bags of meatballs and charoset, which is definitely normal, right?  I mean, who wouldn’t want a goodie bag of meatballs and charoset?  I’m thinking of giving that out as party favors for the kid’s first birthday in a couple of months.  You know, something for the kids.

Anyway, I’m currently in Atlanta visiting my brother and sister-in-law and their wonderful kids.  I flew solo with the baby, which was an Exodus in its own right (read: people do NOT like babies when flying.  People do not like you AND your baby when flying. It does not matter that your baby slept the whole time and didn’t make a peep, you will be ostracized from your plane-community and glared at for deeming to leave the comforts of the ground and flying with your baby.  And it’s Passover so there is no enjoying a coffee during my 8AM flight with the baby nor is there any enjoying a Bloody Mary either . . . which I would definitely not drink with the baby.  Definitely not. ).  But anyway, I digress.  We’re in Atlanta, I miss my amazing husband but I feel like I passed through a mom-hurtle with this solo traveling with baby and I’m gonna pat myself on the back for that.

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Solo Flight Success

This week’s recipes once again feature the deliciousness that is Temp Tee.  When organizing the menu for our Passover week I tried really hard to only include fresh vegetables and fruit and lay off the starches.  I wanted to go light in the afternoon knowing that dinners would be a little more filling.  I also wanted to save money because Passover, though a favorite holiday of mine, is draining on the wallet.  As a result, I settled on a gravlax and herb cream cheese recipe that could be eaten for several breakfasts/brunches as well as an eggplant and baby portobella mushroom saute with an avocado and Temp Tee crema.  Recipes can be viewed on the Joy of Kosher website.  Simply click on the recipe titles below (Gravlax can be found after eggplant pictures) and enjoy!  Chag Sameach and Happy Easter to our readers who celebrate!

*This blog post is sponsored by the fine folks at Temp Tee, but all opinions and recipes in this post are my own.

Eggplant and Portobella Saute with Temp Tee and Avocado Sauce

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Getting Ready to Make Some Magic

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The Flavors of Miami

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The Flavors of Miami Meet the Flavors of Passover!

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Everything is Better with Sauce

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The Final Product. Delicious!

Gravlax with Herbed Cream Cheese

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Fresh Herbs

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Fresh Herbs and Temp Tee = Partners in Tasty Heaven

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Fresh Fish, Herbed Cream Cheese — What More Could You Ask For?

Temp Tee and Tempting

5 Mar
Don't buy that canned Kosher for Pesach stuff--it's WAY too expensive. Make your own sauce!

Don’t buy that canned Kosher for Pesach stuff–it’s WAY too expensive. Make your own sauce!

 

*I’d like to start this post by sending a heart-felt apology for an editing error in my last post. I mistakenly linked Maija’s Mommy Moments when commenting about an article I had read by another mommy-blogger lamenting those parents who post pictures of their children on Facebook or Instagram. In fact, it was another blog post by another blogger entirely. The situation went a little like this, “Ok. Where’s that post?” (starts Google search). “That’s not it. That’s not it. That’s not it. Wait, is that it? I think so”. (skim post. link post. publish post.) I received an incredibly classy and respectful email from Maija rightfully alerting me to my error and I just wanted to make sure you 5 readers out there who actually read this blog note my error but most importantly, that Maija hears my apology.

 

 

I’m not sure why I’m doing this to myself. I’m watching the Kardashians. What the H*ll was I thinking!? It’s only 10 minutes left until the end of the episode and I’m not sure what possessed me to do it. Wait, that’s not true. I know EXACTLY why I did it. It’s the combination of not being able to look away from a shiny, shiny train wreck and the need to decompress, mom-style. I had a hard day. My boss called me ‘authoritative’ and for a second, I took that as an insult but then properly shook that off and realized, that’s awesome and then thought to myself, “would he say that if I was a dude?” It’s also the second week of the hubby’s nightly boating course. Yes, I said BOATING COURSE. Two days a week the hubby stays at work until 9PM to learn how to drive a boat for his job (he’s a real life marine scientist) and last night/this morning the baby started showcasing some separation anxiety which resulted in my own tears out of sheer frustration/heartache so when she went down without a hiccup I celebrated crazy mom-style—-I cracked open a beer, hopped on Facebook and turned on E! cause that’s how I roll. And now here I sit, watching real live people line up to attend Rob Kardashians sock line launch. I’m confused as to how anyone can talk about a sock line launch and keep a straight face but you know, that’s just me. I’m absolutely probably a little jealous because I’ve never launched anything before except for a free blog on WordPress. Oh, and that one time I launched myself off of my bike when I was 10 years old because I was riding down the big hill in the neighborhood too quickly and whooooooooooo . . . . I launched myself right over my handlebars. So, OK, I guess I have launched something. Go me! But anyway, I bring up the Kardashians because they’re on my TV and I’m watching it and I feel shame but also because in this same episode, Kim Kardashian just decided to treat her sister to a little surprise and bought her a house. A house! On Friday I decided to treat my dear friend, Dina, to a trenta-sized (that’s a real size by the way. It’s the bucket they keep behind the counter for those in the know) iced tea and I was worried if I could afford it this week but heck, I just went for it because we had a rough week last week and my girl deserve that $4 drink. And then I watched Kim Kardashian be able to buy a house for her sister and well, I felt the reality of my middle class status set in. Am I jealous? Not really. I really don’t want to be famous for the size of my tushy and I certainly am not jealous of a 72-day marriage, real or not, but who am I kidding? It’d be nice to have that kind of financial security. As the hubby and I work out our finances to see if we can actually take a family vacation this summer or not, it’d be cool to not have to think to ourselves, “Hmmmm, who’s got a vacation home we could commandeer for a week? Do we really need to eat dinner on vacation because that’s a solid $50 saved a day.” But you know, we gotta do what we gotta do. Thank Gd, we live in Miami so if we can’t afford a real vacation this year, at least we can take a nice little staycation with direct beach access so that’s certainly a lovely option. And as a full-time employed parent, vacation is really all about spending several days not cooking and not subsequently cleaning up after cooking. It also means no laundry and more importantly no work so I can spend unlimited time with my man and our kiddo, which is really the goal.

GIMME GIMME GIMME!

GIMME GIMME GIMME!

In the meantime, I’m not on vacation and Passover is on the way so menu-planning is on the brain (though, to be honest, menu-planning for something or the other is ALWAYS on the brain). I picked up some Temp Tee Whipped Cream Cheese and with my past spaghetti squash recipe in mind decided to enjoy that sweet, sweet potato vodka and whip up a batch of drunken spaghetti squash, a.k.a. spaghetti squash a la vodka. Usually I make my cream sauces with heavy whipping cream and some butter but I got all that creaminess from a hefty scoop of Temp Tee and the taste was beyond. I also cut out the butter and sauteed the shallots and garlic in coconut oil (which can be kosher for passover certified) and it gave the sauce an overall beautiful sweetness. And for a snack? Why some Temp Tee, raspberry preserve, chocolate chip, walnut apple sandwiches (say THAT ten times fast), of course!

Please find the recipes for the Spaghetti Squash and Apple Sandwiches by clicking on the recipe titles below:

Spaghetti Squash with Vodka Sauce and Apple Sandwiches With Temp Tee Whipped Cream Cheese

*This blog post is sponsored by the fine folks at Temp Tee, but all opinions and recipes in this post are my own.

 

Please enjoy the pictures. If these don’t tempt you into making the aforementioned meals, I don’t know what will.

Sauce is good. Sauce is very good.

Sauce is good. Sauce is very good.

Tomato Sauce and Temp Tee = BFF

Tomato Sauce and Temp Tee = BFF

Wha, what's that mom? I want to go to that.

Wha, what’s that mom? I want to go to that.

Temp Tee and Spaghetti Squash.  Yum.

Temp Tee and Spaghetti Squash. Yum.

Dessert, snack, dinner, it can be everything

Dessert, snack, dinner, it can be everything


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A Feminist Rant of Some Kind (Plus Dumplings!)

30 Dec

Maybe it’s me, but I’ve been noticing a trend within the feminist movement lately. I consider myself a feminist. I want equal and fair treatment of the sexes. I want to be paid the exact same for my job that a man would get paid who has the same job/education/professional experience. I want my daughter to even have the idea of becoming the President of the United States without having to defend her dream to those who think a female as President is too dangerous due to a woman’s ’emotional’ state. But here’s the thing, I also want a feminist movement that doesn’t alienate my daughter’s mother because she chose to get married and have a child.

I’ve been noticing a lot of blog posts out there aimed at celebrating the single woman by choice. There was this blog post, written by the incredibly intelligent, Chanel Dubofsky, that I found wildly offensive (I’m allowed to respect someone and disagree with them. It’s rare in our world these days, but I do it). Then there was this one, which blatantly told you that if you did not fit into a certain mold within this type of feminism then you were DEFINITELY not invited. And of course, my top two favorite are this one, which call children “baby-alien parasites” and then finally, this campaign, which nicely celebrates women who happen to be single (and here’s my one-liner on the celebration of singlehood—Mazal tov y’all. Seriously, I could personally give two poops whether you are single or not. I, for one, do not feel sorry for anyone who chooses to be single or be married. It just doesn’t affect me one bit. Ok, three-liner).

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Future Feminist?

Now, here’s my beef. I too write a blog, which is based purely on my opinion however, I do not align myself with a movement other than Judaism and the Lacefields and Fisches. I don’t even align myself with Modern Orthodox Judaism because we don’t fit into any category. However, when you call yourself a feminist and write feminist articles then I’m assuming you’re speaking for the movement and as a woman, I find it wildly alienating that because I got married and had a child I’m most certainly not welcome; the above articles/blog posts being just a sampling of why I’m getting that sneaking suspicion. I celebrate my women friends who aren’t married—-I celebrate them when they finish Graduate school, when they have birthdays, when they get their dream jobs or a prestigious fellowship. Oh, and by the way, no one asked me to second guess my decision to go to graduate school to get a Master’s in Social Work, which landed me $40,000 in debt, a debt which most certainly is a lifetime commitment. No one asked me if I was ‘sure’ I wanted to make a commitment to my husband because I was 30 years old when we got married and my friends trust me that I’m making a heavily thought-through decision that is based on what I want. That’s why they are my friends. And finally, I just need someone in this new feminist community to admit that they don’t have the faintest idea of what it means to be a parent because I certainly did not until I had a child. The love I have for my daughter sometimes takes me by so much surprise that my breath gets caught in my chest. Parenthood is so overwhelming in a myriad of ways I couldn’t possibly have understood before I had my daughter. I know you want for women to not be defined by their children alone but damn it, I’m working on raising a self-confident, self-aware, reflective, open-minded, giving, feisty woman and if it does or doesn’t work out, it still defines me because she’s a piece of me—-just like my job as a school counselor, my life as a social worker, as a Jew, as a woman. I don’t know what it’s like to be Christian, blond, a bus driver, a doctor, a devout Muslim, etc. (notice I chose all identities that are a choice to some degree) so I’m certainly not going to call someone out on those choices and do my darndest to make them feel somehow ‘less than’ so please, new feminist movement, I ask you to do the same. Please, be reflective. Please recognize that you are alienating the very population you stand to represent for equality. I want to hear what you have to say but I am struggling. I get institutional-heterosexism (seriously, I went to the University of Michigan School of Social Work and it was soooo intensely liberal it made ME feel conservative at times) and there is no way I’m denying I wasn’t raised to expect to have children at some point. However, I also wasn’t raised to expect to be married, which is why my mom worked very hard to make sure I could take care of myself (oh, p.s. raised by single mom).

But truly, the next time you want to yell “I’m sorry” to a woman at her bachelorette party because you pity her or the next time you write an article explaining why you can’t be happy for your friends who are getting married just consider the fact that some of those women might be reflective, thoughtful, intelligent enough to have made her decision for herself. Yes? No? I tried.

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Yellow Split Peas

P.S. This recipe has nothing to do with this rant other than I made these on Friday and I’m writing this today so I guess they have the weekend in common?

Golden Potstickers (recipe entirely from 101cookbooks.com)

What!?

1/2 cup sunflower oil
8 green onions / scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced

1 small serrano chiles, thinly sliced, or to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup / 60 ml soy sauce
1/4 cup / 60 ml water

4 tablespoons sunflower oil, plus more for pan-frying
1/2 cup chopped shallots (4 medium)
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, or to taste

2 cups / 11 oz / 310 g cooked yellow split peas, ideally at room temperature, then process in a food processor until uniform and fluffy

1 package round potsticker wrappers

How’s That Now!?

Start by making a scallion oil. Heat the oil in a small skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onions and stir well. When they soften, after about 30 seconds, remove from the heat. Set aside. Note: You can refrigerate this for later use, but bring to room temperature before using.

Make a dipping sauce by sprinkling the chiles with sugar. Chop and smash a bit with a knife. Place in a jar or small bowl, add the soy sauce and water, and stir to combine. Taste and adjust to your liking – more sugar, water, etc.

To make the filling, in a large skillet, fry the shallots in the sunflower oil over medium heat until golden brown, 5 minutes or so. Sprinkle with salt, and stir in the yellow split pea meal. You want to stir until the shallots are evenly distributed. And you want the filling to hold together if you pinch a bit between your fingers. If it’s too dry, work in water a small splash at a time. Now give it a taste – you should want to eat it straight, if not tweak with more salt until you do.

Now, fill and shape the dumplings. Very lightly dust your counter top with a bit of flour. Place 12 wrappers on the floured countertop, and add a small dollop of filling just off-center of each dumpling. Run a wet finger around the rim of each wrapper, press the edges together well, and try to avoid trapping air bubbles in the dumplings if you can. Crimp each dumpling, and gently press it down against the counter to give it a flat base, so it sits upright. This base is also what gets brown and crunchy – one of the things you’re after. Repeat until you run out of wrappers or filling. Place the dumplings seam side up on a well-floured plate or baking sheet. The extra flour that sticks to the base gives extra crunch.

At this point you can freeze any dumplings you know you aren’t going to cook.

Split pea mush

Split pea mush

To cook the dumplings, heat another scant tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Arrange dumplings in the pan, seam side up, with a sliver of space between each (so they don’t stick together). Pan-fry until the bottoms are golden, a few minutes. With a large lid in one hand, carefully and quickly add 1/3 cup / 80 ml water to the pan, immediately cover, and cook the dumplings for a few minutes, or until the water is nearly evaporated. Uncover and finish cooking until all the water is gone – another minute or so. Dial back the heat if the bottoms are getting too dark. Cook in batches, and serve drizzled with the scallion oil and spicy soy sauce.

Happy Potstickers

Happy Potstickers

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