Nostalgic Nuggets of Joy

Hello strangers,

Its been awhile. I have been cooking more. Since my daughter got her own kitchen, its easier to spend long amounts of time in the kitchen.

Anyway, I made these today on a whim and they so taste like my childhood. I don’t know if my mom had some version from an earlier cookbook that she made, or if I just associate dates with the fruit cake she used to always make (though I don’t remember eating much of that), but something about these reminds me of home.

Hope you enjoy them. Super sweet, yummy, healthy, and delicious!

Date-Peanut-Flax Seed Nuggets

From Mollie Katzen’s Sunlight Cafe

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cup pitted dates (about 1/2 a pound)

1/2 cup flax seed

1/2 cup peanuts

1/2 cup dried cranberri

3/4 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

  • Put the dates in a medium sized bowl and smash with a spoon.
  • Grind the flax seed and then the peanuts in your grinder of choice. Combine with dates and cranberries. Using you hands is best!
  • Add the peanut butter. Use your hands!
  • Role into little balls about 1 inch in diameter. Role in coconut. EAT! (if you have to store them an airtight container in the fridge or freezer will do).

Currently

Hey all,

Thought I would copy this idea from my friend over at freckles in the fog.

Just a little window into our day today:

loving: the trains and how close we live to them. Today the little one and I took the purple train, the red train, the green train, AND the orange train. The best part is that I think I got more excited than she did. It was such a fun adventure and included a trip to a playground along the charles river that we had never been to before and has super fun exactly-the-right-sized play structures.

reading: postpartum doula reading continues. Right now, its LLL’s Mother Multiples as I prepare for my first ppd gig for two of my best friends (in case you can’t tell from the book title, they will be having twins). It is really a wonderful book as it realistically discusses the challenges of multiples, but also discusses ways to be intervention free during birth as well as some of the cool ways in which twins help each other out as they learn how to breastfeed. My favorite examples is how one twin might be a stronger breastfeeder than the other, and that twin will help with milk production while the other one figures it out. Pretty cool.

watching: most of my tv watching is online, so tomorrow I look forward to another episode of project runway. Not quiet as good as cooking reality shows, but so many bitchy queers, its hard not to love it. Of course always with a critical eye :). Also re-watching Ugly Betty, because hello?!? it is the best. Can we discuss Justin’s development at some point?

thinking about: turning to hit the mark. We always go to the Boston Workmen’s Circle for the high holidays. It is so lovely and reflective and reminds us to think about whats important for the new year. We don’t so much recite a list of sins as thinking about how we can better “hit the mark” during the next year, specifically around how we treat each other and how we work towards social justice.

stressing about: the little one’s hitting. Will post more about this one at some point. It means being with our friends can be stressful at times. I’m trying to let her and her friends figure out how to communicate best, but sometimes it means being on top of her, a lot, to make sure she doesn’t hurt other kids. SO stressful.

looking forward to: two new babies in our lives (see reading above), as well as an old and good friends wedding out in the catskills. The timing of said babies will determine whether or not we go to said wedding. Either way both are wonderful!

making me happy: long and unplanned days with the little one. Her giggle, her super toothy grin, and her kisses.

till next time,

Rachel

Consensual Parenting

Hello friends. Sorry it has been so long. Lots of cooking and things to talk about. For now, a parenting topic.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what consent means in the context of parenting. We live in a community that talks about consent a lot, and about how consent is not the absence of “no” it is the presence of “yes.”

Now that our daughter is over a year, they say that their “needs” and “wants” are no longer the same thing. But what does that look like? And aren’t her wants still important?

This has come up as we have begun the process of night weaning. The great thing about attachment parenting is that it is all about what is best for the family. It was getting to the point where having our daughter in our room, and nursing her to bed, and then nursing her whenever she woke up, and then having her in our bed for most of the night… well, you can see where this is going. It wasn’t working for us.

And thinking about consent, what does that mean about my body and doing extended breastfeeding with my daughter? I was starting to resent the night nursing and feeling like I wanted my body back, at least during the night.  So saying no to my daughter at times, about my body, at night, feels a little like getting some autonomy back. It also means finding other ways of comforting her during the night. Whether that means my wife going in, or me snuggling with her in the rocking chair, we are forming a new relationship.

Trying to put her down has been hard for all of us. We started without me in the room, and now both of us are trying to put her down and I’m trying to put her down without nursing at naptime. I always nurse her before sleep, but the idea is that she doesn’t fall asleep nursing and that we say “night night” to nursing and she knows she can nurse again in the morning. It doesn’t work to wrestle with her, and get her to lay down, it just helps to reiterate over and over that she can nurse in the morning and rock her and wait for her to ask to get in her crib.

This is what brought up this idea of consensual parenting. The nights when she goes to bed without screaming are nights when we do what she wants (other than nursing), be that giving her water, holding her, whatever it is, and then letting her decide when she is reading to lay down and rest. We can’t force her to sleep, but we can calm her down, set the environmental, and wait for that “yes.”

This is not the same as not setting boundaries. In fact, the biggest boundary we are setting right now is around my body and saying goodnight to breastfeeding. And we model boundaries all the time. But I think the idea of consent, of truly child-led parenting, and trusting that she knows what she needs, is a great way of thinking about it. This new attitude has allowed me to listen to her more and will hopefully lead to more peaceful nights.

Chocolate Therapy

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but chocolate is my favorite thing. Not only do I love it, but I deeply believe in its ability to alter/better my mood (think Harry Potter and the cure for dementors). In fact, a friend of mine said the other day, after making delicious lemon bars, that when she was a child, she didn’t understand the point of desserts without chocolate. And I said, “and what is the point?” because in general, I still feel that way (though the lemon bars were amazing).

This week, the moms who lunch are celebrating two birthdays, one mom birthday and one baby birthday (I can’t believe we are getting to the point where our babies are turning one?!?! Can time stop PLEASE!).  In honor of both birthdays I decided to bring back to life a recipe I made a long time ago. It was the first major baking (though the oven is not involved) project I did as an adult. It was in an old apartment, long before baby, though not before marriage. It took me all day. And it was worth it. I thought it would be interesting to see, now that I am so experienced in all things baking and cooking (I kid), if it was easier to make now.

Did I mention that said recipe is a Chocolate Cream Pie?!?!?! The main lessons I have learned since I last made this recipe are:

-Read the recipe multiple times before you start and before you go shopping. Attention to detail and not having to check the recipe mid-stir can help immensely.

-Time management in general. I felt much less panicked about how the custard would turn out, how long it would take to cook, etc. Things I account to feeling more prepared and better able to get the ingredients ready ahead of time, which is a big part of time management in my opinion.

This is a wonderful recipe. It is from Saveur magazine (I know I know, I owe you a post about how much I love them). You can find it here. It is a great recipe because it is actually not that hard, especially if you already feel comfortable making custards, and it has such a rich chocolate flavor without being too sweet.

A few notes about the recipe. You will be tempted to skip the sieving step, don’t! It is what makes the custard super velvety and smooth. Also, be sure you follow the amounts in the instructions and not just in the ingredients list. For example, it calls for 16 tablespoons of butter, but half are for the crust and half are for the custard. Same with the sugar and the vanilla. Basically, pay attention and read the recipe a few times (I mentioned that already, didn’t I?). Finally, here is my major shortcut: I don’t make the crust! I buy oreo crust from the grocery store. It was so yummy last time, I’m assuming it doesn’t make that much of a difference. I know, such a cheater. But come on, there is an 11 month old running around. Who has time to make crust?!?!

Enjoy!

The yolks, sugar, and cornstarch. Wow, that is yellow.

The chocolate custard before going into the fridge. Note the open window! It was that warm!

Look at all that whipped cream!

Fancy chocolate shavings

The final product: Messy and delicious

Telling Our Reproductive Stories

I’ve been thinking lately about the importance of sharing our reproductive stories. By reproductive stories I mean how we decided to have children, how we did or did not get pregnant, how our babies came into the world, and how all of that impacts the kind of parents we are.

As queer parents we had to do a lot of planning. I often say to my wife that if everyone had the choice to plan their children as much as we did, the world would be a much better place.  We are lucky enough to have a known donor and were able to do everything at home (more on the joys of having a known donor in a later post). Ari is a true Turkey Baster baby (well…plastic medicine syringe). We then labored and birthed at home with two midwives and a close friend (who also married us) as our doula. We were so lucky to be able to make the choices we made and have them supported.

Now, enter the rest of the world. What do people know about how queer people, specifically two women, have babies? A movie or two? The L Word? There are not a lot of stories out there like ours, or with people like us at all. So what does this lead to? Two major assumptions:

One (most common): Where did we adopt her?

Two (less common): What medical facility did we use to inseminate?

I do not judge people who do either of those things, adopt, use the medical system to get pregnant, etc. However, I have a problem with the assumption that either of those things are our experience.  I realized lately that straight couples can sometimes have a similar experience. Folks assume that they a) gave birth to their babies, and b) that it was an easy process. I recently had an experience where a woman with twins asked me how my wife and I “got” Ari. I started off being pretty defensive and (I’ll admit) braggy about our process. A little while later she said that she had asked because her twins were adopted. I realized that by not talking about our reproductive stories, we isolate ourselves. She was asking not to be aggressive or making assumptions about me, but because she was hoping to find someone with a common experience. And because I assumed that she was being insensitive, I lost the opportunity to find commonality in the fact that we both share “alternative” reproductive stories.

So my new goal is to tell my story truthfully and often and trusting peoples best intentions.

What is your reproductive story?

A loaf you say? Hmmmm

I am someone who, if given the choice, would not normally be excited about a loaf. Being raised a vegetarian I have never had meatloaf and it has taken me a long time to appreciate this particular comfort food. But that is the thing, loaf IS such a good comfort food. It is warm and substantial. So I thought I would make a go at it. I turned to my beloved Mollie Katzen and found this wonderful recipe in The Enchanted Broccoli Forest.  Drop what you are doing and make this right now.

Tofu, Spinach and Walnut Loaf

-Preheat oven to 350. Lightly oil a 9×9 baking dish. (The recipe calls for a loaf pan but there was WAY too much to fit into one loaf pan. I suppose if you are very attached to the loaf shape you could put it into two loaf pans).

-Heat 1 Tbs. of vegetable oil in a deep skillet. Add 2 cups minced onion, ½ lb. minced mushrooms, and 6 gloves of minced garlic. I just blended them all in a food processer. Sauté over medium heat for about 10 minutes.

-Add 1 cup ground walnuts, 2 lbs. fresh spinach (or 20 oz. frozen, defrosted and drained), ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce (I used 3 Tbs. cider vinegar and 1 Tbs. soy sauce as a substitute since Worcestershire sauce has anchovies), and 1 tsp salt. Cook for another 8 minutes, until the spinach is wilted and everything is well combined.

-Stir in 1 Tbs. soy sauce, ½ lb. mashed tofu, 1.5 cups cooked brown rice (you have to plan ahead and cook your rice!), fresh black pepper, and ¼ tsp of nutmeg.

-Spread into the pan and bake for 1 hour (or more, there were some cold spots, and the crisper the outside the better, basically cook it as long as you want without burning it). Let sit for 10 minutes before serving. Serve hot with sauce (below) and a sprinkle of paprika (which I forgot, woops!)

Dilled Horseradish Sauce

-Melt 2 Tbs. butter into a medium saucepan. Whisk in 1-2 Tbs. of flour and cook over low heat, whisking often, for a minute or until the flour is cooked (slightly browned).

-Whisk in 1 ¼ cups of warmed milk and cook over low heat whisking often for another 5 minutes or until it started to thicken. Stir in 1 Tbs. prepared horseradish and ½ tsp of salt and remove from heat. Stir in 1 Tbs. minced fresh dill (or 1 ½ tsp. dried) and black pepper. I used dried and it was fine. Maybe it would be a little brighter with fresh, but then what am I going to do with all that dill!?!?

Boobies!

So as you know by now, the lack of exposure in our culture to breastfeeding is one of my big pet peeves. So I was pleasantly surprised to come across this picture in one of those free parenting magazines:

I love this picture for many reasons. One is that you can see the whole breast, it’s not peeking out from the hole of a nursing bra, it’s not even covered by the top of a shirt, it’s just there. I also love that you can see some of the areola, but not too much. It’s actually a great example of a good latch (and how would women know what a good latch looks like when we never see pictures like this?!?!).  I love the content and peaceful look on the baby’s face. What better argument for breastfeeding than that face, right?

So in relation to this topic, I wanted to comment on two TV shows and their depiction, or lack thereof, of breastfeeding.

One is the show Up All Night. We never really find out whether or not she is breastfeeding (or why), but in a recent episode they travel on an airplane and it is clear that their daughter is taking a bottle. There is some comedy around a mid-security line diaper change as well as some anxiety about running out of bottles (you know what you never run out of on a long trip? breast milk!). Anyway, I think this show missed an opportunity for some comedy, because you know what is hilarious? Trying to breastfeeding standing in a security line. Or, as I recently experienced, nursing a squiggly 10 month old during take-off and holding her feet so she doesn’t kick the person sitting next to you. But you only have one free hand so you have to alternate holding one foot at a time. So she kicks the person next to you with her free foot. And she is having a blast. Comedy. I’m just saying, those writers missed out.

The next show is the L Word. Don’t get me started on the many problematic things about this show. But you know something this show doesn’t lack? Boobies! There are breasts everywhere, all the time, usually for sex. However, when one of the characters has a baby, they refer to breastfeeding but NEVER SHOW HER DOING IT! So we learn that breasts are for sex and that breastfeeding is something to hide. This on a show about lesbians! LESBIANS! Aren’t they supposed to be feminists or something?!?! ARGGG!!!

Does anyone have any good media examples of breastfeeding to share?