Best Cookbook EVER

Just a quick note. Our little one is 10 months old today! I can’t believe how quickly it has gone by.

Now to cookbooks. As you may or may not have already figured out, we cook vegetarian and I love the Moosewood cookbooks. However, I have begun paying attention to which Moosewood cookbooks are Mollie Katzen books and which are post-Mollie Katzen (AMK-After Mollie Katzen).

I love her. I love her illustrations. I love her playfulness. I love the commentary on every recipe. She is an inspiration. However, her recipes are often intense, meaning: Many ingredients (most of which we don’t have around the house), lots of chopping, lots of pans and lots of time. So I’m often daunted by her cookbooks. Granted, some of our favorite go to recipes come from her books, both her Moosewood books and post-Moosewood books (Gypsy Soup, Cauliflower Puff, Indonesian Rice Salad) but they take work. And did I mention we have a baby? So yeah, lots of work is not so great right now.

This is where the Moosewood cookbooks AMK come in. The two books we have make all the recipes so easy. Simple Suppers and New Classics are two of my favorite cookbooks. Simple Suppers is great because they define simple in so many ways. Sometimes it means quick; sometimes it means only one pot; sometimes very few ingredients. But whatever it is, the recipes are delicious.

So I recently started exploring Moosewood Restaurant New Classics. It is wonderful. There are a few duds but some of my new favorite recipes are from this book. I will share two of them below. I have already made both of these recipes three times each! The only thing that is lacking from these Moosewood books AMK is a little bit of that character and personality I love so much about Mollie Katzen’s writing. But did I mention the delicious factor?

Enjoy!

Instant Tamale Pie

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly oil an 11-inch casserole dish.

Mash a can of pinto (or black) beans WITH their juice in a large bowl. Add and mix ½ cup of corn, ½ cup of salsa, 1 tsp cumin, ½ tsp oregano, and ¼ tsp salt.

Buy a role of pre-made polenta. The recipe says to use 12 ounces of it, but they come in 18 ounce tubes, so I just use it all. Cut it into ¼ inch thick rounds and layer them on the bottom of your casserole dish, slightly overlapping. Spoon the bean mixture over the polenta.

Sprinkle on 2-3 tablespoons of chopped cilantro on top. Then add 1 cup of grated Cheddar cheese on top of that.

Cover and bake for 15 minutes and then uncover and bake for another 15 minutes, until the beans are bubbling and cheese is browning. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Devour!

Presto! Chocolate Cake

This cake is amazing and so super easy. And you probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen already.

Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8 or 9 inch square pan. Or make it in a bundt pan, like I did, but make sure you grease really well!

In a large bowl mix 1 cup flour, 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa, ½ tsp baking soda, and ¼ tsp salt.

In your kitchen aid or with an electric mixer combine ½ cup of butter with 1 cup of sugar. When the butter and sugar are combined, add 2 eggs, one at a time, until incorporated.

In a small bowl combine ¾ cup of water with 1 tsp vanilla. Add the flavored water by thirds to the creamed mixture, alternating with the flour mixture and beating after each addition.

Poor into the pan and bake until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, 30-35 minutes.

When the cake is almost done, make the glaze. It’s so easy! ½ cup of chocolate chips, 1/3 cup of jam (apricot is a nice choice), and 2 tablespoons of milk. Put in a small pan and warm on low heat, stirring constantly until melted.

When the cake is done, pour hot glaze on top (if using a bundt pan, flip out of pan to make right side up on a plate before pouring the glaze on).

Serve warm or at room temperature. Yum yum and yum!

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Dream Feeding-My Favorite Feedings

Sorry it has been a million years. Between the holidays and the baby crawling and cruising, blogging has taken a WAY backseat. But here we go.

So my friend, over at frecklesinthefog turned me on to the idea of Dream Feeding way back in September. This is the idea that if the baby goes to bed at 8, she will be up at 12 to eat. And if I don’t go to bed till 10-10:30, this can be difficult. So why not feed her in her sleep when I go to bed at 10pm? The theory is that she will then sleep till maybe 1 or 2am. I haven’t done that this often, since she often wakes up once before we go to bed to eat. But lately she has been sleeping solidly when she goes down around 8. So I’ve begun Dream Feeding her. I’m not sure it works in terms of sleeping longer, but it has become one of my favorite feedings of the day. Here is why. I rarely get to watch her sleep now since she is sensitive to light as she is first falling asleep (either at night or for naps). So with the Dream Feeding, we have a little light on and I can watch her sleeping. She is so peaceful and beautiful, it is truly magically. Secondly, not only do I get to watch her sleeping, I get to watch her nursing. The way she puts her little hand on my breast and snuggles up to me is just precious. I also relish this time as my wife often falls asleep next to us and so I get to look at both of my loves so sweet and peaceful. I am starting to look forward to these feedings, both for the extended sleep, and the ability to see and appreciate my bonding with the baby.

I nurse our daughter down to sleep. For naps, for bedtime, that is the way it is. I have stopped worrying about this and have accepted that it is what is normal for us and that is totally fine. It can be inconvenient if I need to be away, but babies are not meant to be convenient. I recently came across this quote in the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.

“You may hear the advice that letting you baby fall asleep at the breast creates a ‘bad habit’ because it sets up ‘undesirable sleep associations’ that require you to be there for every nap and bedtime. That’s just not true. The natural design is that babies, nurse, and often they fall asleep at the breast. You don’t ‘teach’ them this, and it’s not a bad habit. It’s just normal” (page 231).

So, that being said, much of our nursing ends up being in the dark as I am trying to get her to go to sleep. Recently I have been offering the breast more during the day (with the fantasy that she will sleep more at night) and to sooth any fussing. This means we have also been doing more “conversational nursing.” This is my other favorite kind of feeding. This is when we talk and play and bond and nurse all at the same time. This can involve her playing with my necklace or my mouth. It often involves me smiling at her playfulness and her stopping nursing for a second to smile up at me. She will often make happy moaning eating noises. These are often short, but wonderful little moments of reconnecting throughout her very busy and social day.

I wanted to share these nursing experiences because I believe these are the kinds of behaviors that mothers often don’t discuss with each other, especially as our babies get older and society believes they should be sleeping through the night and eating mainly solid food. These two nursing experiences are good reminders of the way in which breastfeeding is more than nutrition, it is an important way of connecting.

My hair is shorter than my wife’s hair

So I finally cut my hair short. I have wanted to do this for a long time. I never did the big “I’m a lesbian, I’m going to shave my head like Ani Difranco.” But I have always wanted to cut it all off and I’ve always felt like I somehow missed a queer right of passage by not chopping of all my hair.

Now it is short. It is a pixie cut and still feminine. But the first time it occurred to me what we now look like (2 dykes with short hair with a baby), it made me very happy. Which doesn’t mean long hair makes you less of a dyke, but somehow for me, it felt like it did.

What I am looking for is visibility. Especially now that I am a parent. However, the haircut alone does not a visible queer make.

So I turn to you, dear reader, fellow queer, fashinistas.

How do I become a more visible queer mom?

-Rachel

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