fish tacos

Have you ever had the best fish taco?

One that is covered is the right kind of slaw that is not too acidic but not too mild? That is enhanced through a tangy sauce perhaps mixed with some avocado and in which the cod is perfectly flaked?

My fish taco place, where this was the standard in deliciousness, closed. One afternoon, I drove to my favorite restuarant, walked up to the front door, grabbed the handle to enter with my mouth already salivating and nothing! The door was locked and without warning or signage it was gone. It was a devastation and the hunt began to find a new fish taco location. Until I can locate said place I am working on making my own. And am open to location recommendations!

**shout out to my bestie Kaelin, the tacos at Big Star in Chicago are hands down the best ever, I just wish I didn’t live so far away from them!**

Cheddar Biscuits


It has been over a year since I felt like I owned my body. It is a funny thing to say since I live in it everyday, but when you carry a baby, give birth to that baby, and then nurse that baby for 12 months, you share your body. It is an amazing experience. In these moments, I felt in awe of everything that these cells could do without my conscious self dictating or driving the ship.  But that is always part of it, your body just sort of takes over and the part of you that makes you you, goes for the ride. It might be a ride of a lifetime but it is quite a ride. Becoming a mother might very will be the best thing I ever do in my life. It is a daily gift and a daily reminder that things are really really good in life. And it is a reminder that no matter how much I want to control all that is around me, I can’t and even my own body is at times (probably more often than I realize) out of my control.

Today though marks the one week mark since I last nursed little Owen. With him drinking out of sippy cups and fully transitioned to other nourishment, I find myself a little bit perplexed. What do I do with this body now? How exactly do I feel post-nursing my last baby?  It has been a HUGE transition and these last 7 days were really hard and really dark. Add to the transition of weaning, the flu and some marital strife and these last seven days were a bit of a misery march.  I know the title of this post is deceiving but I promise I will get to those biscuits and why those cheddar biscuits are so important to this tale.

But first, let’s talk about weaning. It happens. For some the weaning process is immediate, even before a nursing relationship is able to fully establish in those first hours or days of motherhood. For others the weaning process is longer, it takes 15+ months for mom and baby to negotiate a truce over who “owns” the boob and who gets to “access” the boob. For me, both of my boys sort of “broke up” with me. Henry was earlier than Owen. At 10/11 months, Henry grew impatient waiting for my milk and much preferred to get going after chugging on his sippy. Owen, I thought would be different. He loved nursing. And I loved nursing him. I thought about how maybe this baby, this baby that I have been told was my last baby, would linger a little longer in his babyhood. Unfortunately, on his first birthday something shifted (maybe hormones or maybe my body just gave a massive sigh of relief), but I was struggling to keep up my supply almost within 24 hours. It felt dire. We had not introduced a sippy cup yet! We had not introduced milk yet! We were rushing head first to an inevitable confrontation and I felt out of control (yet again) of this body which was no longer willing or able to feed Owen. My body started to reject nursing and started to show signs of ‘weaning sickness.” I had a constant headache that was blinding, I felt nauseous, and dizzy, and feverish, and all sorts of awful. It felt like I was both PMSing and pregnant simultaneously and I spent so much money on pregnancy tests over the next few days, and crossed everything hoping that maybe just maybe there would be one more baby for us and that it wasn’t just my body throwing in the towel. David made some moves to end our reproduction future and all of this was too much for me. I was ready to crawl into a big pit of pity and never come out. I felt (and still do a little) that everyone was against me. David was done having babies, Owen was done nursing, my body was done making milk & having babies, and the identity I had crafted and lived in comfortably for 3 years was shifted against my will and I was told to just: deal with it.

Then, the flu hit and our nursing days were truly done. I could not get out of bed, I could not feed Owen. Of course, like it was NO BIG DEAL Owen just drank milk from a cup! It is funny how I made myself sick with worry about how would this child eat and without blinking an eye he just transitioned. He resiliently said “okay,” while I rolled in bed sobbing my eyes out because I was sick from weaning, and sick from the flu, and sick in my heart because too much was happening all at once. Things still feel fragile 7 days later. Owen and Henry are just going about their days as usual, drinking milk like a boss and playing endlessly. But, I still feel a little removed from it all. Surely, I am not alone in the struggle with transitions and I know this story is not unique, yet it is affecting me right now and I am hoping with some more time I will continue to reconcile myself to some BIG changes: I am done having babies, I am done nursing babies, I am done weaning babies, and I am done sharing my body. And while all those things will inevitably happen, it feels so weird actually saying it, seeing it, and living it. I wonder if even ten years from now, I will still ache for this chapter in my life.

So here come the cheddar biscuits. In sharing and giving so much of my cellular essence to someone else and everyone else, I forgot that there are things I like to do with my time but could not do for a long time because I was too tired or busy or overwhelmed or involved in the chapter I am now closing. Like cooking and I mean really cooking from scratch with complicated recipes with lots of ingredients and multiple steps. And yes it will probably be two steps forward and a step back as I figure out these new steps as a mother to two boys who will continue to grow up and potentially grow away from their mama, but there are great things we can do together as they grow up, and as their immediate baby needs shift and change to new horizons, interests, and abilities. And while we all grow into this family dynamic, I know now that I can also bake a pretty delicious cheddar biscuit from scratch. Not the most complicated recipe, but you got to start somewhere. Anyway, I am working on it. I wish there was a script we could follow when adulting gets hard. I wish there was a pause button I could hit so I could just sit a little longer in this moment so that my heart can catch up to the reality it is now living in. It would be so much easier that way. At least the cheddar biscuits tasted good.


 

“Fancy” apps

We have had a lot of friends and family visit to see the new house. It is always so hard to think of apps to serve that are easy to put together (because hello two babies!) and also yummy. We might have a winner!

Prosciutto, ricotta, pita


And cucumber, corn, goat cheese tortilla


They are light, easy to put together and they look fancy which is the best part! 

embracing his inner italian

Henry is a pretty good eater. We are lucky to have a kiddo who isn’t too picky and usually eats his meals with gusto. And, he enjoys a variety of delectables from beets to applesauce and kale salad to steak. He will mostly try everything at least once and then make his choice about whether or not to go for it again. And, worse case scenario, if he isn’t a huge fan of the main course prepared, he will usually enjoy some side dish of sweet potato or avocado that is readily available. But alas, one delicious food remained untouched day after day on the little dude’s plate: pasta!

No matter the shape of the noodle or sauce that we tried, Henry looked skeptically at the pasta before him and defiantly said no to the spaghetti! And those offending noodles had to be removed completely from his sight! How dare they remain on his tray even for a moment. The Italian mama in me was so sad. I tried over and over again to demonstrate the deliciousness of this complex carb, but Henry would not have any of it.

Then a break through! After months of this Italian pasta stand-off, a thawing in negotiations was mediated at the lunch table between Henry and Mema. Henry brought one noodle to his mouth and magically partook of the entire plate offered! WHAT!?!?  Huzzah!  We have a pasta man at last. Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 1.41.50 PM

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the great pancake challenge

Drama is very important in life: You have to come on with a bang. You never want to go out with a whimper. Everything can have drama if it’s done right. Even a pancake. -Julia Child

I have to confess…I cannot make pancakes!  I know, I know, how can this be?  Well, I just never learned and now I feel thoroughly incompetent in the pancake department. Whenever I try, they always come out a mess. In my mind, I imagine pancakes hot off the griddle cooked to perfection. They are lightly golden in color with butter melting into the nooks and crannies. Perhaps blueberries or chocolate chips are nestled inside. The pancakes are stacked three high and look as fluffy as a cloud. The taste is divine with subtle sweetness and a drizzle of pure maple syrup.

Alas, these are definitely not my pancakes. My pancakes cannot hold a candle to this perfection! My griddle is too hot or too cold, or too greased or not greased enough. The pancakes are always undercooked or burned.  I never quite know when to flip them. Flipping them is an awkward movement in which I attempt to quickly toss the pancake often leading to batter disintegration. They are never rounded, golden suns but odd shapes with globs of batter. They never taste semi-sweet but like flour stuck together with water. I have tried to jazz up the pancakes with blueberries, chocolate or even bacon.  It has not helped. The perfect pancake remains as elusive as the Loch Ness Monster.

Therefore, I have decided (which David thinks is ridiculous) to try to hunt down this perfect pancake each Saturday morning. From changing recipes, to ingredients, to whatever else is necessary, this hunt will be serious!  In light of the culinary journey I am about to embark on, I am seeking any advice, tips, tricks, recipes or words of encouragement from the perfect pancakes makers that I know are out there!  Thank you.

parmesan basil chicken patties

Thankfully this meal was salvaged! Just when you think everything is going smoothly and you confidently saunter about the house feeling like the most amazing new mom, you are snapped back into the reality of messy motherhood when you have a sleep-deprived moment. There I was cooking up the chicken patties and thinking I could briefly multi-task only to turn back around to the chicken and see them filling the entire kitchen with smoke! I had completely forgotten to turn down the heat to medium and had left the chicken to burn on high long enough to trigger the smoke alarms. David ran downstairs with Henry and the dogs as I stood there paralyzed not knowing what to do (this is my response to a crisis, which is a terrible response!!). Thankfully David snapped me out of my “playing possum” state by shouting turn the stove off, open the window, and flap a towel by the smoke detector. We were a jumbled mess as we tried to fix the kitchen drama, calm down the dogs, and soothe the baby. Luckily within a few  minutes the alarms stopped and the smoke cleared enough for it to no longer be scary. When we looked into the pan we were surprised to see that the chicken was burned but not so badly that we couldn’t still enjoy it for dinner. Despite the mishap dinner was still delicious!

Ingredients:

2 diced cloves garlic

1 bunch basil

1 tomato

1 diced bunch green onions

1/2  edamame

3/4 cup barley

10 ounces ground chicken

1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat a small pot of salted water to boiling on high. Add the barley to the pot of boiling water and cook 16 to 18 minutes, or until tender. Drain thoroughly and return to the pot. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper to taste, and stir to combine. Set aside until it is time to plate the meal.  While the barley cooks, in another pot heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced garlic and the green onions and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the diced tomato, basil, edamame, and 1/4 cup of water. Bring mixture to a boil, once boiling cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer until the barley is done about 12-15 minutes. In a bowl, combine the ground chicken, basil, breadcrumbs, and Parmesan cheese.  Create 4 patties and cook up in pan with two tablespoons of olive oil. Loosely cover the pan with tin foil and cook on MEDIUM (not high like we did!) for 4-6 minute per side. Once all elements  are prepared plate and enjoy!

spicy sausage & arugala naan pizza

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10 weeks.  That’s all that is possibly left until we meet out little guy.  In some ways, 10 weeks still feels luxurious and distant and in other instances it feels like a blink away. Of course we are excited for the day to come but there is always so much on the “to-do” list.  Regardless of our planning though, I am sure he will come whenever he is ready to grace us with his presence! This week, 30 weeks pregnant, marked a change in my energy level.  My second trimester energy high is starting to wane a bit and I am curious if the crushing first trimester exhaustion that I have had an extended reprieve from is returning. Getting through the day isn’t too challenging but I definitely feel the day on my bones when I ride home and in my muscles when I finally collapse on the couch. Quick and easy dinners are therefore a major necessity now. This latest naan pizza was so simple that it might become my next obsession.

Ingredients

4 Naan

tomato paste

ricotta cheese

1 Spicy Sausage

1 red onion

parmesan cheese

red pepper flakes, salt, pepper

olive oil

arugula

Preheat the oven to 425.  On a baking sheet lay out the 4 naan.  Mix 4 tablespoons of tomato paste with 4 tablespoons of water. Spread this mixture over the naan, leaving a little room at the edges for “crust.” Lay some thin slices of red onion on top of the sauce, crumple the ricotta cheese and scatter over sauce, sprinkle parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Remove sausage from casing and crumble and distribute over the 4 naan. Drizzle olive oil on each naan. Bake in the over for 16 minutes. Once the time is up, top each pizza with arugula, serve, and enjoy!