Tag Archives: mom

Sweet Potato + Black Bean {Beer} Chili

12 Jan

sweet potato black bean chili jewhungry blog

I’m writing this post from several thousand feet in the air as I am on a plane bound for LA, my family’s future home. This is just one of many little incidences that are screaming, “Sh*t’s getting real! Pay attention!” We are T minus 6 months away from our big family change and I’m really starting to feel it. I notice when I’m hanging with close friends or dear colleagues here in Miami, that I keep telling myself to soak it all in; pay attention to them as well and keep building these relationships. I tell myself that, no matter how overwhelmed or busy I might become once the move happens, I will need these faces and these friendships more than ever. It’s so hard to attempt to be present when half of me is already 8 months in the future wondering how I’m gonna do this.

So here I am, on a flight, which I’ve paid WAY too much money for internet usage on but I’m only 2 hours in with 3.5 hours to go so that $7 for one hour of Internet seemed worth it. Have I mentioned I hate flying? I LOVE travel. I hate flying. Maybe one day I’ll open that wound and talk about why I hate flying but for now I’m feeling way too vulnerable. Therefore, I will instead tryto focus on finding my “happy place”. I do this on every flight. If I can’t sleep or get lost in a book or there’s no movie playing, then it’s up to me to take my mind off the fact that I’m in the air, which , after ALL the dang travel I’ve done you’d think I’d be used to by now but I’m not. I once sobbed like a wee baby out of pure fear while flying over the Alps on my way to Italy (did I mention I was 19 at the time?). I’ve been known to grab onto the hands/arms of complete strangers while going through rough turbulence as my fear is that intense. For several days before a flight, I get into a bit of a dark place as my fear and anxiety start to take over a little bit. But, I’m proud to say, that even with all this fear of flying, I still get on the G. D. plane. What gets me through is a lot of praying and a lot of “happy” list making. My “happy” list is exactly as it sounds; a list of things, big or small, that make me happy. I don’t usually include the obvious things like my beloved daughter and husband because, well, if it’s not obvious by now that they are number one on that list I got some ‘splainin’ to do.

So here’s my latest list of the most recent top 6 items making it to my “happy” list. I hope y’all have a great week. Sending love and Bloody Mary’s from 10,000 feet. xox

Happy List:

1. Le Creuser/This American Bite/My first win – If you follow Jewhungry on Facebook, you might have seen that I won the 2013 Most Inspiring Recipe contest being hosted by Yosef over at This American Bite. I’m not sure who nominated me but it shockingly wasn’t myself and even more shocking? I won! I’ve never won anything before so that fact that I won a recipe contest still blows my mind PLUS the fact that I won a 5 qt. Le Creuset Dutch Oven! I’m still so grateful/excited I could pee a little.

2. The hubby and I saw The Secret Life of Walter Mitty on my last day of winter break. We were exhausted and a little vulnerable due to the fact that the kiddo had a bout of sleep-regression, which I’m happy to report is no longer an issue. We were hoping to see a “feel good” movie and this one absolutely fulfilled our expectations. Go see it. You will not regret it.

3. It dipped down into the 40s last week in Miami. I made potato leek soup. We pulled out the down comforter, put on a movie and snuggled on a school night. ‘Twas awesome.

4. I signed on the dotted line and hired a real life designer, Sara Bee Jensen, to upgrade the blog. She’s super talented and inspiring. I “met” her through my girl Maggie over at The Rural Roost. Sara redesigned Maggie’s site and the work was so beautiful I knew I needed to get over myself and hire her. For inspiration, Sara asked me to make a board on Pinterest of colors, fonts, textures, styles that inspire me. I had so much fun with that I can’t even describe it. It was like a creativity high. It also is very clear to me that I shouldn’t fight it anymore, I love neon pink. Thank you Miami.

5. Collaborations are coming. More cooking. More opportunities. It’s such an honor and such a privilege. Gets me giddy just thinking about it.

6. Beer in food.

sweet potato black bean chili

Sweet potato black bean chili Jewhungry blog

sweet potato black bean chili jewhungry blog

Sweet Potato + Black Bean {Beer} Chili

Ingredients:
4 Tbsp of olive oil
2 Sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped small
1 Medium purple onion, chopped
3 Cloves of garlic, diced
1 Orange, yellow or red pepper, chopped
1 Bottle of beer
2 Cans of diced tomatoes
1 Can of black beans
1/2 a Cup of frozen corn
2 Tbsp Cumin
Kosher salt
Pepper
Sriracha
Juice of half a lime
Handful of cilantro. Chopped
Cheddar cheese
Sour cream

Before the toppings

Before the toppings

How

Place oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Place onions in pot and sauté for about 3 -4 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté another minute. Next, add the peppers and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add sweet potatoes, cumin, salt and pepper and sauté for roughly 5 – 6 minutes or until sweet potatoes start to turn a bit golden.

Once you’ve sautéed your veggies and spices together and they’ve become nice and fragrant, add the entire contents of the beer (aside from the obvious sips you’ve taken to “test” it out. If you don’t want to include beer, feel free to deglaze with 2 cups of veggie broth instead). Stir the veggies and beer and let sit for a minute. Next, add your canned tomatoes and beans. I do not strain my beans but that’s up to you. Mix all together. If you want more of a “soupy” chili, add a cup of water. Let the chili simmer on low for about 10 – 12 minutes, stirring occasionally making sure to taste along the way to adjust seasoning to your liking. After 10 – 12 minutes, add your frozen corn and a hit of Sriracha, stir and continue to let simmer over low heat for another 10 – 12 minutes. After a total of 20 – 25 minutes of simmer time, check your sweet potatoes for softness. If potatoes are still a bit hard, let sit another 5 minutes or so until desired softness. This will vary depending on how small you chopped your potatoes.

Once chili is almost done, go ahead and squeeze the juice of half a lime in there to give it a hit of acid. Scoop completed chili into bowl and top with your favorite fixin’s (or “toppings” for you Yankees), which is my favorite part of chili.

Ahh yes, the fixin's.

Ahh yes, the fixin’s.

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

Potato Latkes with Sriracha Cheddar Sauce

3 Nov

latke 9I love Shabbat.  I love it so much.  With a job that requires A LOT of giving and taking care of others, my need for ‘me’ time and being able to be with my hubby and daughter is invaluable.  As a result, I get a little selfish with my Shabbat.  I don’t like sharing my Shabbat time.  I want to be able to sleep when I want, eat when I want and relax on my time-table (well, the time-table that is Siona’s time-table, but whatever).  I get kind of sweaty when a proposal is made to go out for Shabbat, even if the invitation is from a loved-one.  I can’t help it.  My first thought is generally whether or not the host will have coffee and then that thought is quickly followed by a frantic search for my ear plugs in case there is some sort of noise-issue that I’ll need to cancel out (I’ve mentioned my anxiety before, right?) Anywho, a happy compromise of my own selfish need to NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE for one whole day has resulted in inviting our loved ones to us.  It works out perfectly.  I get to cook, sleep in my own bed and I KNOW there will be coffee. This Shabbat we hosted our dear friends, Zak and Batsheva (they happen to be bakers.  They happen to have brought AMAZING food with them).  It was a wonderful Shabbat.  I am so grateful.

Almost bedtime

This picture has no context within this post. I just love that face.

Adjustments.

Sand check.

And yet, here it is, 2pm on Sunday and all that rest from Shabbat has gone out the window.  Thanks to the awesomeness that is the ending of Daylight Savings Time, Siona woke up at ‘new’ 5:30.  Rather than wallowing in being awake WAY too early, we decided to make some delicious lemonade out of extremely tired lemons and hit the beach for a sunrise picnic breakfast.  So yes, it’s 2pm, I’ve already lost any remaining ‘restful’ feeling I may have had from this past Shabbat but I’m already in love with this weekend so much.  And if an amazing picnic breakfast wasn’t enough, we topped this off with an insanely decadent lunch of latkes with Sriracha cheddar sauce.  I’m sure I’ve written about my insane love of cheese fries before, right?  Just as a recap, I love them.  I love them so much. If you’re thinking to yourself, “Well if you love them so much, why don’t you just marry them?”  I would.  I would so marry cheese fries.  It had been a while since I enjoyed a nice basket of cheese fry-glory and my craving was getting intense.  And then it hit me.  Holy crap.  Latkes.  Thanksgivukkah is just around the corner.  I need to get a latke recipe out there and latkes are basically Jewish French fries.  Might as well make some latkes and top them with a boat-load of cheddar sauce so, badda boom badda bing, latkes with cheddar sauce. And while I was on the subject, might as well throw some Sriracha in there and make it a party, right? Right.

Hello lemons, meet your lemonade.

Hello lemons, meet your lemonade.

And now for your latke-viewing pleasure . . .

The cold soak prevents browning -- it's a MUST.

The cold soak prevents browning — it’s a MUST.

Fried Friends

Fried Friends

Nothing left to say.

Nothing left to say.

latke 4

Bring it on.  Bring it ALL on.

Bring it on. Bring it ALL on.

We survived.  Let's get decadent.

We survived. Let’s get decadent.

Potato Latkes with Sriracha Cheddar Sauce (latke recipe adapted from The Shiksa )

Latke Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled
  • 1 large white onion
  • 3/4 cup matzo meal or bread crumbs
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tbsp potato starch
  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic powder
  • Sunflower oil for frying (about 1 1/2 cups)

Latke Directions:

Peel the potatoes, then grate them using a hand grater or food processor shredding attachment with fine holes (small shreds). I really recommend using the food processor, it saves a ton of time and will help you avoid onion tears when grating the onion.  Place grated potato into a bowl and immediately cover with cold water.

Meanwhile, grate the onion using the same grater or attachment you used for the potatoes (fine holes for small shreds).  Drain the potato shreds in a colander. Rinse and dry the bowl used to soak the shreds and set aside.  Place drained potato shreds and grated onion in the center of a clean tea towel or multiple layers of cheesecloth. Wrap the shreds up in the cloth, twisting the cloth to secure the bundle, and squeeze firmly to remove excess liquid from the shreds.

Pour potato and onion into the clean dry bowl. Stir the shreds with a fork to make sure the grated onion is evenly mixed throughout the potato shreds.

Add oil to a large frying pan that reaches a depth of 1/8 inch. Heat slowly over medium to about 365 degrees F. While oil is heating, use the fork to stir the matzo meal, , beaten eggs, Sriracha, garlic powder, salt and pepper into the potato and onion shreds. You can add more seasoning as you go.  I find the oil over powers so I add more seasoning as I go. You can also sprinkle on more salt to taste after cooking, if desired. Take care to make sure the egg and seasonings are fully mixed throughout the potato shreds.

Scoop mixture out with large kitchen spoon (usually I loose the spoon after a while and just get in there with my hands). Squeeze the mixture firmly in your palm over an empty dish to remove any excess liquid. (If you squeezed the potatoes out thoroughly in the cloth, you may not have much excess liquid to squeeze out).  Shape the potato mixture into a tightly compacted disk.

Place the disk carefully into the hot oil. Latkes can break apart at this point, they’re very delicate. If you can get them into the hot oil in one piece, chances are they will stick together – frying them is like the “glue” that holds them together. It takes a gentle touch, and it may take you some practice to get the “feel” for it.

The oil should sizzle, but not pop when the latke hits it; if the oil jumps wildly or smokes, it is too hot. If it only bubbles weakly, the oil is not hot enough. Use the first latke to test the oil temperature, and don’t fry a whole batch until the temperature is right.

Continue shaping the latkes in this way, using 2 tablespoons of potato mixture for each latke. Fry in batches of 4-5 latkes at a time (no more than that – don’t crowd the pan) for 2-3 minutes per side until brown and crispy. Note: If your latkes aren’t holding together, stir more matzo meal into the mixture, 2 teaspoons at a time, until the batter “holds”. You can also add another egg, if needed.  Remove the latkes from the frying pan and let oil soak on paper towel.

Sriracha Cheddar Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha (add more as needed)

How:

Melt the butter in a 4-quart sauce pan over medium heat.  When the butter has melted and has started to bubble, whisk in the flour; whisk continuously until smooth, about 1 minute.  Gradually whisk in the milk until no lumps remain.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook milk mixture, whisking frequently, until it thickens and bubbles, about 3  minutes.

Remove sauce pan from the heat and by the handful, stir in the cheeses allowing all of the cheese to melt into the sauce before adding more.  Stir in the Sriracha until well combined.  Taste and add more Sriracha as needed.

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.

I’m Dating a Holiday.

11 Sep

How can it be that it’s only Wednesday? Working at a school and having a schedule that is consistently packed makes the days fly by but for some reason, this week is dragging on. I guess I should celebrate this fact as I am very very very nervous about Yom Kippur this year. Am I allowed to admit that? Eh, who cares. I just admitted it. Yes, I’m extremely nervous about it this year. You see, I did not fast last year. Last year’s chagim (holiday), which occurred roughly 2 months after giving birth, were kind of like that ‘chagim that never were’ for me. I was so sleep deprived and so wrapped up in my own depressive, post-partum state that the chagim seemed to just fly by. When Yom Kippur came, my husband went to synagogue and I stayed home with our smooshy baby. And, truth time, I strapped that baby to me and watched TV and made myself a tofu dog with cheese and mustard on a whole wheat bun. In fact, I made two of them. I’m not proud of this. I’m really and truly not proud of it. I look back at where I was emotionally and mentally just one year ago and my stomach starts to do flips. Rosh Hashanah used to be my favorite holiday of all time but when I realized that Rosh Hashanah and truly, all of the chagim, would look and feel different in this new role as ‘parent’, I kinda let it over take me and I just let the whole thing fly by last year. I gave myself excuses like, “I’m too tired”, or “I have nothing left to give this year”. You know, the things we say to ourselves when we’re feeling guilty about something and what we really mean to say is, “I don’t want to.”

So this year, I need to rekindle the flame; to get to know the chagim through my new lens/identity. It’s kind of like when therapists recommend ‘dating’ a partner again if you feel like your marriage is struggling or a romantic spark needs to be rekindled. I’m going to start dating the chagim because we need some rekindling and well, I’m nervous. What if the holidays and I don’t mesh like we used to? And how does one rekindle the spark with a holiday? It’s not like I can take Yom Kippur out for a romantic dinner cause, well, it’s Yom Kippur and that’d just be wrong. So instead of the traditional ‘wining and dining’ I’m doing a lot of reading, a lot of reflection and a lot of forgiving myself for watching Bravo and eating a tofu dogs on Yom Kippur.

She's stealing my brunch!

She’s stealing my brunch!

Gluten-free mac n' cheese for my nephew.  Delicious.  Just don't overfeed it to your baby. #oops

Gluten-free mac n’ cheese for my nephew. Delicious. Just don’t overfeed it to your baby. #oops

Rosh Hashanah prep

Rosh Hashanah prep

We got our hair did.

New year. New do.

Therefore, I begin anew this year. I’m allowing myself to wipe the slate clean. I seek permission from no one but myself and I gave myself the ‘go ahead’ to move on from the tofu dog incident of 5773.

Rosh Hashanah was once again spent in Asheville, North Carolina with my mom as well as my brother and his glorious family. I did the majority of the cooking, which was very new. Usually, it’s mom’s house, mom’s food. But I think she was happy to let someone else take over for once in a while. There was a lot of beer drinking, a bit of sleeping and a lot of giggling, which helps when you need to rekindle an old flame. Oh, I have to give a big shout out of love to Bubbe Carol, my first official “fan”. I met Carol during Rosh Hashanah services when she leaned over to me and said, “it’s too bad it’s a holiday otherwise I would ask for your autograph.”. It was a very sweet moment for me and I want to publicly thank her for her support.

Anyway, the kiddo and I landed in Asheville a few days prior to everyone else so we had some time to explore the city and talk computer-talk with my mom, who is a wiz on the computer.

Therefore, the really nerdy, exciting news is that in about a week or so, this blog will look brand spanking new! As a result, I’ve got to go offline for a bit so we can transfer all of the content from this blog to it’s new home. But before we say ‘good-bye’ to http://www.jewhungry.wordpress.com forever, I wanted to give you, the reader, a GIANT shout-out for all your support, your patience, your feedback and, of course, your reading! I hope you please do comeback and keep reading. Thank you!

She eventually got up the nerve to actually pet him.

She eventually got up the nerve to actually pet him.

We visited our wedding Venue 3 years after the wedding -- with our plus 1.

We visited our wedding Venue 3 years after the wedding — with our plus 1.

Chocolate chip skillet cookie with pecan prailine ice cream and candied ginger from Wicked Weed Brewery.

Chocolate chip skillet cookie with pecan prailine ice cream and candied ginger from Wicked Weed Brewery.

Wise advice from the Well-Bred Bakery in Weaverville, NC where we stopped for cookies and coffee before heading home.

Wise advice from the Well-Bred Bakery in Weaverville, NC where we stopped for cookies and coffee before heading home.

The drive from Weaverville back to Asheville.  Hello trees!

The drive from Weaverville back to Asheville. Hello trees!

Mommy Blogs and Meatballs: A Blogdentity Crisis

24 Aug

This week was an interesting one. A rollercoaster of emotions, if you will. It was the first week back at school with the kiddos so I was up at 6ish every morning and at work by 7ish, which meant I was gone before Siona was awake. I was exhausted but running on buckets of coffee and adrenaline. Though it’s my 3rd year in my job as a school counselor, this was my first time at the first week of school in my job. The first year I was still in my original position as Student Life Director and the second year I was on maternity leave. I was nervous and overwhelmed. I also took over as ‘senior’ school counselor in the Middle School, which didn’t help my anxiety. I was trying to train our new counselor while tending to the needs of my students and colleagues. And though this past week I survived on adrenaline, iced coffee and water, I thrived on being able to be there for my students; being able to be there for one of my new 6th graders who sobbed for over an hour in my office in fear of Middle School and my 8th graders who are already freaking out about high school and college.

One of the many ridiculous things I do for my students -- dressing up as Effie from the Hunger Games for Color War back when I was pregnant.

One of the many ridiculous things I do for my students — dressing up as Effie from the Hunger Games for Color War back when I was pregnant.

While I was kicking a** and taking names in my role as school counselor, this blog wasn’t fairing so well and it was bringing me down. This summer allowed me a bit more freedom to be present for this blog, which made me really happy. I finally was able to interview my friend, Zak the Baker. I made the fried chicken recipe that had been living in my head and I finally was able to write down my own love story. It felt wonderful to have the time to do all that. But this past week brought on the realization that, once again, my free time is extremely limited. And then, on Thursday morning, I received an email in my inbox from a blog I follow (or, now, used to follow). The blogger is an incredible writer and, in my estimation, would fall into the category of ‘mommy blogger’. She writes about her adventures with her young daughters set against the back drop of Montana. Her Instagram account should be sponsored by the visitors bureau of Montana, the pictures are that incredibly beautiful. But that’s besides the point. This post was about her living her dream of quitting her job so that she could be home with her girls. As beautiful and ethereal as this post was, it also enraged me a bit. I felt badly about having these feelings of anger. And, as I like to remind my students, no one can “make” a person feel anything. Instead, we allow these feelings to occur. We give them life and this post was bringing all sorts of life to some not-so-nice feelings for me that I really needed to get to the bottom of.

I don’t know this woman in the slightest. I follow her on Instagram and read her posts but I don’t know her. I don’t know her except what she wants me and the rest of the world to know about her. And please don’t misunderstand me, she seems like a lovely person. It’s not necessarily her that I take/took issue with. I think this post came at the wrong time for me, personally. I had barely seen my daughter all week. I only saw her for an hour on Wednesday, between coming home from work and then having to go back for a parent night. One hour out of 24. And here I was, reading a post about how this woman got to leave her day job and now spends her days going on adventures with her daughters. So yes, bad timing.

She gets me.

She gets me.

I ended up writing a comment about how I thought her post was beautiful but that it was also difficult to read as I too dream of being at home with my daughter but I can’t. She wrote back because that’s the type of blogger she is; always wanting to be there for her readers. But what she wrote back enraged me even more. She responded with all the write buzz words/phrases, ‘walking in the path of your dreams’, ‘walking with your heart and soul’, like a new Oprah for the hipster mommy-set.

And while I appreciate the conversation, what I realized this morning, after finally getting a solid 11 hours of sleep (Gd bless Shabbat), was that not anywhere in her post or in her response did she talk about the privilege of being able to stay at home and ‘live your dreams’. And then I realized that though this blog of mine is technically a food blog, I sometimes delve into the ‘mommy blog’ world, which, I now clearly understand, is not the place for me. My sister-in-law, Caitlin, of The Joy of Caitlin, had a very sweet post published by the Huffington Post this week. She worked really hard to get it out there—posting it all over the place, and she absolutely deserved to have it posted. So I thought, why not follow her lead and try to get more stuff out there. I tried posting the only post I could find in my blog archives that I though would fit into the ‘mommy blog’ or parenting category. I took 20 minutes out of my work day on Friday to post it on various parenting/mom pages and bloggers but it just didn’t fit. Hell, one of them flagged me for spam, which I thought hilarious. But with that notification that someone thought my post was ‘spam’ came the realization of what I was doing. I was trying to fit a pentagon into a round hole. This community is not for me. I love reading my food blogs and I am so appreciative of the community of food bloggers I’ve become close to via the Kosher Connection and Instagram but the circle on mommy/parent bloggers is another realm and though a lot of them speak of light and peace, the general feeling I have is that it’s a competition of who has the most hipster dressed kids and appearance of a near-perfect life. And if you’re thinking I sound a little angry or frustrated, I am. In all my mommy/parenting blog reading, I have not once read the term ‘privilege’. Not once has one of these bloggers spoken about the privilege of staying home; the privilege of breastfeeding; the privilege of eating organic or ‘clean’. Every time one of these parent bloggers posts a meme on their Facebook page about the evils of formula or GMOs or baby cereal or the like, I wonder if they’ve ever thought about the countless moms and dads who don’t have the privilege of buying GMO-free, or organic or whose breasts didn’t quite work out as expected; much less stay at home to be with their children, and what that must feel like for that parent on the other side of their meme. Have they ever thought about privilege? Thanks to social work school, I think about it all the time. It’s a privilege I have this computer so that I can write down my thoughts. It’s a privilege that I have amazing friends and family who support me. It’s a privilege I can afford daycare and still have enough cash to pay rent and occasionally shop at Whole Foods. People don’t like thinking about privilege because they feel they have to apologize for it, but that’s not how I see it. If you can acknowledge it and not take advantage of it or acknowledge it and be self-aware enough to recognize what it means for those who don’t have it, well then, that’s a different story. That I can support.

Late-night blogging.

Late-night blogging.

And so when this particular mommy blogger’s post landed in my inbox I thought if I calmly comment, maybe I’ll get over my feelings of frustration. But I didn’t. In fact, it got a little worse for me. When the blogger responded to my comment that she advocates for the ability to ‘change our minds’, I thought to myself, ‘wow, what a privilege it is to even think that that’s always an option’. I can change my mind until I’m blue in the face but the fact of the matter is that I can’t afford to stay at home with Siona. And what would I miss if I did (besides food, shelter, health insurance and the like)? I’d miss the amazing community of people I’m surrounded by at work. I’d miss learning from them and laughing with them. I’d miss the diversity of thoughts they bring to my life. Some of these people are women with children, some of them don’t have any children. Some are married and some are not. Some of these people are men. Some of these people are white, some black, some Jewish and some Catholic. Some or straight and some are gay and the majority of all these folks are humble and self-aware. And, just like in real, I crave that diversity of mind and spirit in my online world as well. So, I’m giving up on my attempt to fit into the mommy world and instead will just be whomever it is I am . . . just like in real life. I will give time to the blog and let it develop organically (no pun intended) into whatever category it fits into, if at all. I will stop following all these other mommy’s on Instgram whom I first started following way back in the depths of post-partum depression, when I needed reminding that children do eventually sleep and that parenthood can be fun. We just don’t seem to have anything in common anymore. I will stick to food and family and see what comes.

And as for the recipe? Well, these are my most favorite meatballs. They are not gluten-free, but could be. I sometimes make them with veal and sometimes a mixture of veal and ground beef but usually with ground turkey. They are kind of like Thanksgiving all rolled into a delicious ball. I hope you enjoy and I thank you for reading.

For her.

For her.

Thanksgiving Meatballs:

What

1 package of ground turkey
3 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1/2 pint of button mushrooms, diced
1 clove of garlic, diced
Dried bread crumbs, preferrably challah, diced into small chunks (should be bigger than store-bought bread crumbs but not bigger than croutons)
1 egg
Thyme
Sea Salt
Pepper
Rubbed Sage

For the Stove Top*

Vegetable or Coconut Oil
1/4 Cup all-purpose flour

*I go back and forth between frying and baking these meatballs . . . depending on my mood. If you do decide to bake rather than fry, bake on a greased baking sheet on 375 for roughly 20 minutes

Those Colors!

Those Colors!

Those Look Like Ping Pongs, right?

Those Look Like Ping Pongs, right?

How:

Pour the olive oil in a deep frying pan with a flat surface. Let sit on medium heat for a few seconds. Saute the onions until transparent. Add the carrots and stir, sauteeing until carrots are golden. Add the garlic and continue sauteeing for another minute. Finally, add the mushrooms an saute for another minute or two. Sprinkle the mixture with a dash or salt and pepper, stir and pour into a separate bowl and set aside.

Preparing for Frying or Baking

Preparing for Frying or Baking

In a large bowl, combine ground turkey with the vegetable saute mixture, bread crumbs, egg, a dash more salt, pepper, thyme and finally, the rubbed sage. Stir mixture until well-combined (I use my hands and really get into there). Meanwhile, pour your flour into a small bowl and set on the stove near your frying pan. Also, in preparation, set out a plate with a few layers of paper towels in order to soak up some of that yummy grease after frying. After setting up, roll your meatballs into balls the size of ping pongs and set on a plate.

Post-baking

Post-baking

Hello little friends.

Hello little friends.

Once done shaping your meatballs, place frying pan on the stove over medium-high heat and pour in enough vegetable (or frying oil of choice) oil to cover 1/2 inch of the bottom of the pan. Roll each meatball into the bowl of the all-purpose flour so that each meatball is lightly covered in a flour dusting. Place 5 – 6 meatballs in the pan for frying, making sure to cook evenly on each side, giving about 4 -5 minutes of cooking for each ball. Once done, place on paper towel for grease-soaking.

A Shabbat staple

A Shabbat staple

Life Buoy: Love + Venetian Pizza

8 Aug

The second in our August Love Stories comes from Katia Bishops, the incredibly talented creator and blogger of IAMTHEMILK. I was blessed to discover Katia through several avenues, one being that of fellow blogger and my sister-in-law, The Joy of Caitlin. Katia speaks from the soul and does so with humor and authenticity. She doesn’t try to push any agenda but rather, wants to tell a story; her story.

Katia is a mother of two boys, 4 Year Old and 11 Month Old, currently on mat leave, fulfilling a lifelong dream of writing and making people laugh. And cry, which was not her dream nor intention. Katia writes about her children and occasionally about her husband, 37 Year Old. The serious stuff she writes about includes infertility, miscarriage and immigration. You can find her blogging at IAMTHEMILK (http://iamthemilk.wordpress.com) and on Twitter @KatiaDBE.

When I emailed Katia to ask her if she’d write for the series, I never thought she’d say ‘yes’. Not because she doesn’t seem incredibly kind in her writing, but because she’s like, famous and stuff in the blogging world. I admire her honesty and where she’s taken her blog so for her to agree to contribute and to add a recipe, well, we’re in for a treat folks.

Katia and Husband

Katia and Husband

A Life Buoy

A life buoy thrown to me in moments of deep all encompassing darkness. Moments that represented my ultimate failure. Moments that represented my ultimate vulnerability. Moments when I felt most exposed to the elements, usually in the form of people, were cushioned by you.

I’m sure you know by now that my Achilles Heel is the need to avoid conflict and to please all in the name of being accepted, being embraced. Some of the worst moments in my life were when I failed at that. Like the time when I lost that opportunity in London after much abuse from my millionaire brat of a boss. You know what I’m talking about. Failure at excelling, failure at independence, failure at the hopes built around this. I felt like I was quickly falling into a dark and very deep and wide pit. I’m not sure that you know that it was your life buoy that pulled me out.

I’m sure you remember October 2011 when we’ve received the devastating news about my second pregnancy, the one we were fighting so hard for. You drove home from work and we sat side by side on the sofa. I was sobbing, no – bawling, and you were comforting me, us. In a sea of comforting words from everyone who knew, words that failed to achieve their purpose, you told me that night that you’ve already spoken to him. We knew it was him. And that you’ve asked him to come back strong and healthy. I’m not sure that you know that it was your life buoy that I put my head on, rested for a while and then kept swimming.

I know you know how much I like food and travelling. I’m not sure you know my favourite trip was the one we took back in the year 2000 to Italy. I know you remember Venice, wandering around for a while in search of where we would eat lunch. You probably remember walking into that busy restaurant that felt more like a huge, noisy dining room, the mature waiter running around like a headless chicken and seeming bothered by the fact that the patrons were interfering with his work. Remember how we walked back out into the rain and decided to look for some place else? You remember the little “hidden cove” of a restaurant under the tiny bridge, I know you do. It looked more like a room in somebody’s home with two tiny tables and it probably was. We sat down at one of them and the server came up to us and instead of handing us menus she said “Pizza. With everything”. Half asking, half confirming. I know that you know how much I appreciate important decisions being made by someone else. I know you remember that we agreed. I’m not sure that you know that pizza was the best meal I ever had.

Quatro Formaggi Venetian Pizza with Everything Recreated by me For New Year’s Eve When Ben Was 7 Months Old

Ingredients:

Sauce: Instead of tomato paste I use one of the pasta sauces you can find at grocery stores- Marinara, Bolognese – you can go as fancy or simple as you like. I usually go for the tomato basil one.

Cheeses: I always use more than one. Grated Parmesan (I prefer an actual slice of Italian Parmigiano cheese to the pre grated ones you buy at stores), mozzarella, feta and/or blue (don’t overdo it, they are both pretty salty).

Egg: One of my favourite things about the Italian pizza was the sunny side up. Add the egg 5-6 minutes before you finish baking.

Herbs: Parsley and Basil. I sprinkle them at the very end, about 3 minutes before you take the pizza out of the oven.

Quatro Formaggi with eggs

How:

I know you know how to make pizza and I don’t need to tell you the order in which you put the ingredients on. Make sure to preheat the oven to 450°F for at least 30 minutes.

Before the pizza goes in the oven, lightly sprinkle it with olive oil.

Bake for 10-15 minutes until the crust is browned and the cheese is golden.

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