On the Fourth night of Hanukkah

Good forbid the holidays go by without a food related post. We celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah in my family, but when Hanukkah is so close and overlapping with Christmas, it often gets over shadowed. So we decided to have our two best friends over (the baby’s aunties) and have a delicious Hanukkah meal. We also had a lot of vegetables that I had bought at Costco that we needed to get rid of. Enter the best roasted vegetable meal ever! There is nothing traditional about this dinner, except for the fact that we also had latkes.

First, back to the topic of tofu. I rediscovered this marinade from Mollie Katzen. It is so delicious (this is the second time we have made this recipe in a week). You can do it baked, just tossed in with a salad, however you want. Make it now!

Amazing Tofu Marinade (Enchanted Broccoli Forest)

First, cube a pound of tofu and boil it in water for 10 minutes. This makes the tofu firm and the texture better.

In a bowl combine:

3-4 Tablespoons of soy sauce

2 tsp of grated fresh ginger

2 minced cloves of garlic

1 Tablespoon of sesame oil

1 Tablespoon of rice vinegar

Pour this over the tofu and let sit for many hours, or over night.

Then we like to bake it at 400 for about 15-20 minutes, or until most of the liquid is gone. Make sure you stir so it doesn’t get stuck to the bottom and burn.

We also made these Roasted Tomatoes and these Roasted Mushrooms. The mushrooms are especially wonderful. The butter sauce that forms in the bottom of the pan is unreal. We forgot to add the basil to the tomatoes but they were still delicious. The onions were so soft and caramelized.

Enjoy and happy holidays!

-Rachel

Masculine and Feminine in a two mom house

I want to talk about gender expression, clothing, and raising a girl in a two mom household. This will be a topic I revisit often and have been thinking about a lot lately.

I am constantly reminded that the way we do or do not identify our own gender is often different from how we are perceived. My wife and I are often read as Butch/Femme when we are out in the world. However, neither of us identify with either of those terms (though I did just come across the expression low-femme (as opposed to high-femme) and I think I might start using it to describe myself).

So, despite how we identify, we are seen as masculine and feminine out in the world, based on how we dress. And our daughter might see us that way. It brings up questions for me about how we present those different gender presentations to her, how we make room for her own gender exploration, and how we value both masculine and feminine, without falling into two traps.

One trap: she is a girl and many feminine/girly/pink/princess things will be pushed on her. She will learn lessons out in the world about what it means to be a girl, many of which are very limiting. However, I want to make sure that we don’t devalue feminine things. Pretty dresses are nice sometimes and tutus are so much fun. So I want to make sure she can explore and play with those things without feeling like she has to.

The other trap is the dichotomy of gender. I don’t want her to think you have to be one or another, and I sometimes worry that even though she has two moms, she will somehow see us as fitting into these two roles, masculine and feminine. Which is enforced even more by the fact that her more feminine looking mom is a stay at home mom who likes to bake. I want her to know she can be anything, and that gender presentation is something to test out, play with, and have fun with.

Future posts:

Hair, gender presentation, and gender play

Butch/Femme: the good, the bad, and the ugly

-Rachel

For more thoughts on butch/femme and amazing queer beautifulness, watch this Ivan Coyote video. It makes me cry.

The stuff we affectionately call Tofu

I have been a vegetarian my whole life (give or take a brief period in high school and after college ,when I ate some chicken every once in awhile). For me, it is about what feels healthy and what I am used to. I’m not so big on the moral righteousness of it. The mainstream animal production industry totally grosses me out, but a lot of what is gross about it applies to how we get our eggs and vegetables, etc, so I can’t really complain. Or I can, but that would be a rant for another post.

Anyway, a big part of being a vegetarian for me has always been eating lots of tofu. I love tofu and ate a lot of it as a child (though not as much as my brother did, who used to eat it raw with ketchup, gross!).  But here are some of the challenges I have with tofu.

It has no flavor. I suppose this is good and bad, given that it means the tofu takes on the flavor of whatever you add to it, but that often takes more work and thoughtfulness.

It ends up as a bowl of mush (along with a comb and a brush… goodnight moon anyone?). Texture is often a big issue with tofu, I have a hard time with tofu scrambles for this reason, because unless it is fried, tofu still often has that mushy texture.

Enter the savior of kitchen appliances: the SLOW COOKER!

I have two tofu slow cooker recipes to share, but first I want to tell you why cooking tofu in the slow cooker is a good idea. It solves both the above problems. It makes the tofu super firm and have a lot of texture because it draws the water out. Also, it infuses the flavor as if you had marinated it for days. Yum. I love how both of these recipes use miso paste, which we had in the house because while I was pregnant I had this idea that I was going to make my own miso soup. I did. Once. It was not good. I don’t even like miso soup. Anyway, I highly recommend both of these, though we are partial to the one with spinach in this house.

Enjoy!

Japanese-Style Braised Tofu (The Gourmet Vegetarian Slow Cooker)

Combine in a bowl with a whisk: 1/4 cup miso paste (recipe calls for white, we had yellow, which worked fine), 1/4 cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoons sesame oil, 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon honey.

Take one pound of firm tofu and cut into 1/2 inch slices, or as I like to call them, tofu steaks. Coat the tofu (both sides) in the sauce and lay into the slow cooker. Pour the rest of the sauce over the top.

Cover and cook on low for 4 hours. We like to turn the tofu a few times because the edges get really crispy and almost burnt.

Just before serving, add 1 pound of washed spinach (the recipe called for 1/2 pound but we found that wasn’t enough). Continue to cook in the slow cooker just long enough for the spinach to get wilted, maybe another 10 minutes.

Remove and put on plates. Garnish with thinly sliced green onion and toasted sesame seeds.

Miso-Braised Tofu and Shallots (Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker)

Thinly slice 3 shallots (we only had one so we substituted with 2 small onions, which worked well). Spread them over the bottom of your lightly oiled slow cooker.

Make your tofu steaks (1 pound cut into 1/2 inch thick slices) and put them on top of the shallots.

In a bowl, combine 2 tablespoons miso paste, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 1 tablespoon water. Pour this over the tofu and shallots.

Cook on low for 4 hours. Delicious!


Is that a boy or a girl?

I have recently had some encounters that made me think more about gender, babies, and pronouns.

I was sitting on the bus a few days ago and the person next to me was interacting with the baby. She used he/him/his for awhile and then asked me if the baby was a boy or a girl. I said that she was a girl and this person proceeded to tell me that at first she thought that the baby looked like a boy but now she could clearly see that the baby looked like a girl. I was shocked. When I was telling someone about it later I came up with the best response: “How can you tell she looks like a girl? Is her vagina showing?”

Because to me, at this age, really when someone asks, they are asking about genitalia. Because seriously, the gender socialization has only begun, there aren’t different hormones like during puberty, so what difference does it make? And she isn’t old enough yet to make any of her own decisions about her gender identity and presentation.

But I am also seeing that people ask because it dictates how they will respond to the baby. Many times it is the first question people ask and then follow up with, “oh she is so cute,” or “what a beautiful baby.” These things are all true, of course, but what would there response be if I said she was a boy? How handsome? How strong? What else?

This came up with my “moms who lunch the other day” as we constantly, I think without thinking about it, comment on how cute our babies are. One of the moms was commenting on how cute my baby was and then corrected herself by pointing out that she is also smart and clever. True, she is already smart, clever, brilliant, and perfect. I think the earlier we get in the habit of using language that reinforces positive personality characteristics, as opposed to looks, the better. See this awesome article for more on that.

I think having a baby truly embodies the way in which people use gender and gender norms to relate to one another. It is as if folks don’t know how to relate to her, or me, until they figure her out. It is also very interesting when folks call her a boy and then I use she/her/hers and they are so apologetic. As if getting it wrong is the worst thing in the world and I will be horribly offended. Why is that?

This is the world I constantly walk around in with my baby. It gets exhausting and frustrating, not to mention depressing when I think about her future. So it was a breath of fresh air to go to my volunteer meeting with her the other night. At the beginning of each meeting we say our names and what pronouns we use. I introduced myself and my pronouns. And at the end my friend said the baby’s name and that “the baby would let us know when the baby decides on their pronouns.”

That is the world I want her to live in.

-Rachel

Slow Cooker Soups

So we have been doing lots of slow cooking lately.

Here are a few of the wonderful recipes we have been making. Both are from the cookbook: Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson.

French Onion Soup

So I have never eaten or made french onion soup before, but my wife loves it and we got a huge bag of onions from Costco, so I was inspired to give it a try.

Making the soup is fun because it means cooking the onions forever! It also means you have to like the smell of onions taking over your house for a full day (and then some). Start by thinly slicing 4 sweet onions and throw them in the slow cooker with 1/4 cup of olive oil on the bottom.

That is a lot of onions. Then you cook them on low for 8-10 hours OR LONGER! They get super soft and caramelized. I couldn’t resist stirring them from time to time especially since they get stuck to the sides.

About an hour before serving, you add 5-6 cups of homemade vegetable stock and cook on High an hour (or till hot enough for you).  When you add the stock you salt and pepper to taste. I think I added about 1-2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper.

The soup is delicious with crusty toasted sourdough smothered in melted Swiss cheese.

Chipotle-Kissed Red Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

I have made this before and it was okay, so I made a few changes this time. I made it for the group of moms that get together every week or so (I like to call us “the moms who lunch) and it was my turn to host. It was a hit. I think the key to it is being able to personalize the amount of chipotle you get to add. It is also one of those recipes where you have to do a little sauteing ahead of time, but it is worth it because the peppers and onions get all melty.

Chop up an onion, a red bell pepper, and a clove of garlic. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the above ingredients and cover until softened, about 5 minutes.

Peel and cut into 1/2 chunks about 4 sweet potatoes (the recipe says 1.5 pounds).

When the onion mixture is soft add 1 tablespoon of chilli powder (I did a heaping tablespoon) and let cook for about 30 seconds. Then add the sweet potatoes and coat with the spices. Throw all that in the slow cook.

Add 14.5 ounce can of tomato (recipe says crushed I used diced which I think I like better), 15.5 ounce can of red beans (drained and rinsed), 1.5 cups of water and about 1.5 teaspoons of salt.

Now, the recipe says to cook on low for 6-8 hours. This will turn your potatoes into MUSH! If you want it that way, go for it. I keep trying to turn it off in time for the potatoes to have a little bite. So far they are still pretty mushy at 5 hours, maybe next time I’ll try 4.5 hours. I think our slow cooker is particularly hot as well. Obviously you want to the potatoes to be cooked and tender, but I would prefer them not too mushy.

When you are ready to serve, blend some chipotles in adobo sauce (chilis, sauce, seeds and all) in a blender (or the magic bullet) and serve on the side. I recommend serving it with some grated sharp cheddar and homemade cornbread.

Enjoy!

-Rachel

Queerspawn

Queerspawn: children of queers… that simple, right? Probably not…

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this term and what it means to others, what it means to us, and what it may mean to our daughter someday.

I think I first heard the term in college, but immediately associated it with a good friend from high school. He was raised by many parents and has turned into one of the greatest men I know. I think he embodies queerspawn in a way that I hope our daughter will someday. I remember one of the first times we hung out, he put on red high heals and danced around the room to a Tina Turner song. In retrospect, I don’t think this had anything to do with his own sexual identity or even gender identity, but embodied a sort of freedom and non-normative rolemodeling around gender/sexuality.

The reality of the world is that disenfranchised and oppressed groups create their own culture in order to survive and thrive. Queers have done the same. I think what I have learned from my friend is that he will always be a member of queer culture, regardless of who he dates or ends up with, because that is the culture within which he was raised.

This onsie is from our queerspawn friend...

As I think about our daughter’s future, I hope that she will always find a home in our queer family, our queer community, and the queer culture at large. I think that is what makes queerspawn.

I hope that this identity and connection to culture will help her deal with some of the harassment she will get for having two moms. I hope it will help her deal with her own gender and sexual development. I hope it gives her a lens through which to view the world that both acknowledges the realities of oppression and empowers her to create change.

See my friend’s amazing post about being thankful for turkey basters here.